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Thursday, December 25, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 34.0° F  Overcast
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Selling Act 10: How Walker persuaded reluctant Republicans to back his anti-union plan

Just as pundits across the country are parsing the likelihood of a 2016 presidential bid by Gov. Scott Walker, the University of Wisconsin Press is releasing a behind-the-scenes look at the spectacle launched by the governor's 2011 proposal to all but end collective bargaining rights for public employees. >More


UW-Madison agrees to offer the free online courses known as MOOCs

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has taken the plunge into the brave new world of massively available, free online course offerings. The largest provider of open online college courses had been courting the university to join its network of free content providers since at least last summer. >More
 Rep. Brett Hulsey's legislative aide to be reassigned following concerns about his 'strange behaviors'

After spending much of the fall explaining why he pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge, Wisconsin Rep. Brett Hulsey (D-Madison) appears to be in the middle of more turmoil. His full-time legislative aide took vacation and is being reassigned to another job following an incident where she felt threatened by Hulsey's plan to use a box cutter to show her how to defend herself. >More
 What happens when a Wisconsin government spokesperson is asked a tough question about her boss

I called the Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Feb. 18 to confirm a tip I'd received that Dennis Smith, secretary of the department, was leaving Madison to return to Washington, D.C. The timing was interesting, given that Smith would soon be faced with overseeing proposed massive changes to BadgerCare because of Gov. Scott Walker's rejection of billions of dollars in Medicaid funding. >More


Community members are at each other's throats after the Madison school board catastrophe

Sarah Manski did a lot of damage to Madison on her way out of town. When she won the school board primary, sucking up endorsements from prominent local officials -- apparently knowing all the while that she might not be hanging around to sit on the board -- she did a major disservice to our community. As Madison Times editor A. David Dahmer observed, her highhanded use of the school board seat as a "backup plan" smacks of contempt for the people who care deeply about what is happening in our schools. >More
 Tell All: Lorrie Moore vs. Madison

Dear Tell All: I felt annoyed reading the recent articles about Lorrie Moore, the fiction writer who has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since the 1980s and is now leaving for Vanderbilt University. I used to be a fan of Moore's work, but she turned me off with the way she comported herself as a Madison resident. She made it clear in many interviews how little she thought of the city and its people. This disdain also showed up in her fiction. To me that's unseemly, given that her high UW salary was supported by local taxpayers. >More


A Haircut haul their wild and crazy punk out of the basement

Andrea Lutz and Andrew Trester seem as huggable as a couple of thrift-store sock monkeys. They match up well in their big, plastic-framed glasses and hand-me-down sweaters. They're playful in conversation, asking me if I grew up near alligators when I tell them I'm from Florida. They even study clothing design and textiles in UW-Madison's design studies department. >More
 Caspian offer a dramatic introduction to instrumental post-rock

Caspian's instrumental post-rock is both epic and pretty. The band's latest album, Waking Season, is filled with huge crescendos, striking melodies and intelligent arrangements that incorporate keyboards, bass, drums, samples and three guitars. In fact, it's so impressive that Spin named it the best post-rock album of 2012. I asked guitarist Erin Burke-Moran about the group's approach to their craft before their March 13 show at the High Noon Saloon. >More
 Why the Madison Symphony Orchestra keeps bringing back violinist Henning Kraggerud

"Champagne and Vodka," the title of the Madison Symphony Orchestra's upcoming weekend of concerts, may be too light for hearty works by two classical heavyweights. It's not entirely off target, though. The program will offer many musical flavors, including Mozart's ambrosia-like melodies. >More



Madison Ballet's Dracula puts a steampunk spin on an 1890s horror story

A vampire's minions pound out a tribal rhythm with their feet. One man counts out the beats. Three women spin forward in a series of bourées, their pelvises undulating. You can almost feel the blood coursing through their veins. This isn't a deleted scene from Twilight or a sketch-comedy sendup of True Blood. It's Dracula, a rock 'n' roll ballet based on Bram Stoker's famous gothic-horror novel. >More
 University Theatre's Woyzeck is an ambitious, avant-garde take on Büchner's tale of a murderous soldier

Few plays are as enigmatic as Georg Büchner's Woyzeck. It was never finished due to its author's untimely death at the age of 23, in 1837. Büchner left behind a number of scenes, but no instructions about their order or his intentions. Because of this, the dark tale of Franz Woyzeck, a soldier on the brink of mental and physical collapse who is driven to murder, offers broad artistic possibilities to those who produce it. The University Theatre production (through March 16), which opened last night in Vilas Hall's Mitchell Theatre, upends convention at every turn. >More
 Broom Street Theater's Not the Artist pits love against creativity

Artists are often portrayed as flaky, eccentric or even lazy people who care more about their work than their relationships. If you read a lot of fiction, you've seen these kinds of characters in supporting roles. Don't expect that from the Broom Street Theater production of Not the Artist (through March 9). Here, self-centered artists take center stage. >More
 The Client List features the most wholesome prostitute ever

I like shameless soap operas as much as the next guy, and The Client List is more shameless than most. Jennifer Love Hewitt plays Riley, a former Texas beauty queen who works as an erotic masseuse (read: prostitute) to support her two kids. In the season-two premiere, Riley's no-good husband needs an expensive lawyer, and you know what that means. She has to earn more money at the massage parlor, fulfilling clients' fantasies in lacy lingerie and a sexy smirk. >More


Happy People is a striking portrait of Siberian fur trappers

Werner Herzog peered into the infinite with the recent documentaries Cave of Forgotten Dreams, about 20,000-year-old paintings; and the death-penalty-themed Into the Abyss. He's at it again with the marvelous Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, which he codirected with Dmitry Vasyukov. >More
 In Oz the Great and Powerful, a lowly trickster becomes a VIP

"If you can make them believe, then you're wizard enough," a witch named Glinda says to a con man in Oz the Great and Powerful. Though this scammer is supposed to be the savior of her people, she senses his discomfort. But the real question isn't whether he can play the part of a hero. It's whether he's "wizard enough" to satisfy viewers, most of whom are accustomed to MGM's 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz. >More
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Lunch from the meat counter: Triumph and tragedy at the Underground Butcher

How of-the-moment is the Underground Butcher? Butchery itself is very much in vogue, and the meats inside the case here exemplify nose-to-tail. Don't be surprised to see a pig's head next to various parts. The meatcutters may sport extravagantly apportioned beards, as if they've been sent over by Central Casting. Everyone is sincere and helpful. It's perfect. >More
 Organic food, for the baby: Madison's YumTum is growing

Madison-based baby food company YumTum is refining its product line this spring. YumTum received its official organic certification in November 2012. The duo behind the company, Jacy Eckerman and Heidi Speight, have designed new nutrition labels "so you can see how nutrient-rich YumTum is compared to other products," says Eckerman. They've adjusted the naming conventions for their products, which initially tried to play off the courses of an adult meal, to something more straightforward. >More


Tips for a spring hike on the Ice Age Trail

If you've ever hiked in spring in Wisconsin, you know what it is to slip, slide and fall into icy mud. But taking steps to ensure a good time hiking in the spring can be as easy as planning when to go. >More
 It's WIAA tourney time!

A year ago, Madison was accused of not adequately appreciating the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association's annual winter state tournaments and the millions of dollars in revenue they generate. Critics thought we were taking March Madness for granted. >More
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