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Thursday, December 25, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 41.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
The Paper

FEATURED STORY

Whitney Mann's country dreams

Willie Nelson was leaning against the wall of his tour bus, watching CNN, when Whitney Mann stepped inside to meet him. "It was like meeting Donald Duck, someone who's not supposed to be real," says the Madison country music artist. "I told him, 'I got the crowd warmed up for you.' Then I said, 'Good luck out there -- well, you're a legend, you don't really need luck.' It was really awkward." >More

NEWS

Madison's uncivil Civil War

One hundred and fifty years after the Civil War began, its echoes still reverberate in Madison. The city's political history, our attitudes toward the military, even the local landscape, were all profoundly and permanently changed by the events of 1861-1865. Madison did not welcome the war, or the administration that fought it. And many local heroes of the age did more to hinder than help Abraham Lincoln in his fight to free the slaves. >More
 Who will be Scott Walker's worst enemy?

The six candidates in the Democratic primary to replace Joe Parisi in the state Assembly are all fighting for the chance to do battle with Gov. Scott Walker. You'd expect no less for the liberal Dist. 48, which includes the east side of Madison, Monona, McFarland and the towns of Dunn and Blooming Grove. >More
 Edgewater Hotel still in limbo

The Edgewater Hotel redevelopment project polarized Madison last year, pitting neighborhood preservationists against development interests in a protracted battle that led to several all-night city council meetings. >More
 Democrats expect GOP to rush through Wisconsin redistricting plan

State Rep. Fred Kessler has his eye on the cookie jar. Any day now, he expects the Republicans to reach deep inside of it. "They're going to get greedy, and they might try to take too much," Kessler says. "And that opens them up to challenge." >More

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Wisconsin's war on the poor

Walk into any Wisconsin convenience store during the day, and you're likely to come across a familiar scene. A thick, tattooed woman with a child in each arm plunks down $10 on Powerball tickets. A skeletal old man reeking of fortified wine spreads change out on the counter to try his luck at Megabucks millions. It is the Wisconsin state lottery, and it is state government's way of robbing the poor without having to use a gun. >More
 Tell All: Wisconsin sucks for gays

Dear Tell All: All my friends are thrilled that New York just legalized same-sex marriage, but I find myself getting more and more depressed. That makes it six states that are moving forward with gay rights (including our surprisingly enlightened neighbor Iowa) while Wisconsin moves backwards. Voters here passed a ban on same-sex marriage, and now conservatives are even attacking the domestic partnership registry and its minimal protections for gay couples. >More

MUSIC

La Fête de Marquette remixed at La Musique Electronique

La Fête de Marquette isn't just an ode to France. The east-side festival celebrates the concept of diaspora each year, highlighting how French culture has mingled with indigenous music to create fascinating hybrids. >More
 Singer Grace Weber makes the downtown scene in NYC

Grace Weber wasn't expecting to be confronted by a camera crew from The Oprah Winfrey Show as she walked to a Subway restaurant in 2009. Weber's New York University college roommate was walking with her and knew what was coming. She helped plan the surprise with the show's producers, who wanted to tape Weber's reaction to the news that she'd been selected to appear on Oprah's Karaoke Challenge. >More

AT A GLANCE

ARTS

Creative spaces

While winter can be crowded with school and extracurricular commitments, summer offers kids a little more time and space to get creative. This summer there are many hands-on visual art options available for Madison kids. Some studios even offer drop-in sessions, so kiddos can dabble -- without their parents making a big time or money commitment. >More
 Elizabeth I: A Novel by Margaret George bogs down in detail

You have to admire Madison author Margaret George for taking on huge subjects -- Henry VIII, Cleopatra, Helen of Troy -- researching them exhaustively and creating creditable fictions about their lives. For me, great historical fiction gives flesh, blood and psychological complexity to times and personages that can seem flat on the pages of history books. >More
 The Protector presents a formidable female cop

In The Protector, Gloria Sheppard (Ally Walker) is a single mom and L.A. homicide detective. In the TV universe, where most female dramatic heroines must be soft and sympathetic, the scenario would imply that Gloria do her job in sexy outfits; that she have some weakness beneath her hard exterior; and that she go weak-kneed at the sight of a handsome guy. >More
 Shadows of the Damned takes a trip into a blood-soaked abyss

Sometimes, I like to imagine what it'd be like if Suda51, the CEO and head-tripping head developer at Grasshopper Manufacture Studios, were ever given the chance to design a real-life amusement park or haunted house. There'd be blood, of course. Probably some inanimate objects talking. And there'd be lots of lucha masks. >More

MOVIES

Transformers: Dark of the Moon doesn't know when enough's enough

During the prologue of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, we learn some revisionist history. The Apollo moon program, it seems, was a response to indications that something had crashed on the moon in 1961. The Apollo 11 astronauts' explorations include a top-secret mission to investigate the wreckage of a spacecraft -- one that carries a powerful piece of Autobot technology. >More
 In a Better World features a mayhem-causing lad

Like Patty McCormack in The Bad Seed and Harvey Stephens in The Omen, William Jøhnk Nielsen makes a terrific rotten kid. As angry Christian, Nielsen stars in the low-key Danish thriller In a Better World, which won the foreign-language Oscar this year. When he's not glowering, he's causing mayhem. >More
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ARCHIVE

EATS

Five top taquería tacos in Madison

I grew up eating a kind of taco that is on the decline in Madison as its Mexican food scene improves. It featured ground beef (always) flavored by a spice blend from an envelope, shredded orange cheese, canned salsa and the contents of a restaurant salad bar stuffed into a bright yellow, crisp tortilla shell. I still love that kind of taco, because with good ingredients it can be excellent. This article, though, has nothing to do with that sort of taco. >More
 @ AJ Bombers the latest Milwaukee export to Madison

AJ Bombers, the Milwaukee hamburger joint of the moment, carefully curated its arrival in Madison and its location announcement via social media. That social media presence is part and parcel with the whole AJ Bombers experience, says co-owner Joe Sorge. >More

SPORTS & RECREATION

Russell Wilson: UW's big man on campus

Fans of Friday Night Lights will remember the character Ray "Voodoo" Tatum, a star quarterback who transferred to Dillon, disrupting the team's chemistry and nearly destroying the Panthers' playoff chances in the show's first season. I was reminded of Voodoo while reading about big-shot quarterback Russell Wilson transferring to Wisconsin this week. >More
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