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Nine fine spaces hidden in Madison
It takes many years to learn the ins and outs of a city, especially one as multifaceted as Madison. Not only are we situated at the locus of four lakes, but parks and nature preserves were deliberately woven into the fabric of the city as a way to promote a higher standard of life. It's easy to notice the sprawling University of Wisconsin campus, and the seat of Wisconsin's government, with its impressive architecture. But there's no better time than summer to explore Madison's lesser-known locations. >MoreHelping your kids stick with music lessons
Some clever-clogs is playing Rachmaninoff on the piano at a party, and there it is again, that oft-heard adult lament of lost opportunity from a dejected onlooker: "I wish I could play. I wish my parents hadn't let me quit music lessons. I was just a kid -- how was I to know?" It's a reasonable complaint. >MoreWhat visitors to Madison absolutely should not miss
Lately it feels like locals are playing tour guide a lot more in Madison. We have a higher visitor count, thanks to the national attention our food scene is receiving and increasing business traffic. What used to be a town of supper clubs, fish fries and pickled herring is now a city interesting enough to be a draw for curious gourmets from neighboring culinary titans like Chicago. We still rock the steakhouses, burger joints and beer halls, but in 2014 Madison has more than that. >MorePlaytime unplugged: Madison designers help reinvent the board game
Once upon a wintry eve, before the advent of Netflix, DVDs, television and radio, families would gather around a piano to sing songs, or around a board game to pass the time. This was largely a function of not having a whole lot else to do. Before electricity, even reading a book was a bit challenging after sunset, and people mostly just ate dinner and went to bed after a bit of crocheting or cribbage. >MoreDoesn't Madison's bike polo team deserve a real court?
THWACK! In Minneapolis, a bicyclist in shockproof gear fighting through the North American Bike Polo Championship 2013 slams a polyvinyl chloride ball into the net with a customized fiberglass mallet, then skids to a halt. In Madison, bike polo players are riveted, watching the aspiring champions of this nascent sport on BikePoloTV. >MoreMadison Vines: The new mini-video platform already has its stars
What's a Vine? It's a six-second video that lives mostly in the world of mobile devices like iPhones. Download and open the free app, touch the screen to start recording a video " a cat stretching in a sunbeam, a friend dunking a basketball, a stupendous steel drummer " then publish with a push of a button. >MoreWest Madison's changing grocery landscape
When I was growing up on the near west side of Madison, summer days meant riding dirt bikes around in a pack to Hoyt Park, Quarry Park and Picnic Point. After a day of adventuring, we would be hot and thirsty. Time to hit the main grocery store of the area at the time, El Rancho on University and Farley. >MoreAn introduction to Madison billiards subculture
Bars from Madison to Sydney have pool tables. But you don't see many 10-by-5-foot carom billiards tables, the kind with no pockets. And these days you mostly won't, unless you're obsessed with the antique game of three-cushion carom billiards, an intensely challenging pool-like game from a distant era. It turns out that some Madison residents are carrying the billiards torch. >MorePork peaks in Madison restaurant culture
Pork has become incredibly popular, both locally and nationally. At the center of this pork renaissance is the class of animals referred to as heritage pigs: larger, purebred hogs with a mass of bristles, many inches of back fat, and a distinct lineage. >MoreApple Apps from Madison: Meet eight local developers
Young men and women with Apple ear buds are packed into a room, intent on their work. Some are doing graphic design, some are writing code, some are writing marketing materials. Flannel, odd haircuts and freshly scrubbed faces abound. Ethernet cables spool into closely arranged desks stacked high with computer gear. A delivery guy is loading the break room table high with moo shu shrimp and mushroom egg foo yong. Is this San Francisco in 1998? No -- it's a gaming company on Madison's west side in 2012. What's going on here? >MoreFresh beats, wondrous tales, a mindblowing circus: A preview of the kids' 2012-13 arts season
The ancient performance arts of dance, music and theater face stiff competition from new digital unrealities -- Xbox, Netflix and the strobe of CGI. But our old traditions wield a primal, visceral punch; the sweat and immediacy of live performances provide a depth of experience that flat-screen pastimes cannot. Walk your kids away from the Wii and watch their synapses light up when they witness how good live entertainment with no digital effects can be. >MoreMadison gets its own producer of the fermented honey drink: Bos Meadery
With new Hobbit movies and the red-hot series Game of Thrones in the cultural consciousness, mead-swilling characters from medieval environs abound. So it is with admirable timing that Colleen Bos has just opened Madison's first facility dedicated solely to mead, combining her backgrounds as a homebrewer and medieval historian. Her Kickstarter project reached its goal in mid-August, and now a clean, professional meadery at 849 E. Washington Ave. is open for business. >MoreThe next frontier for online community?
When Salon Media Group broke the news in late June that employees of ur-online community the WELL had been terminated and that assets were up for sale, a cadre of early Net adopters bristled, then rallied. Founded in 1985 by Larry Brilliant and Stewart Brand, the WELL is among the first and richest online communities. >MoreWhat makes a good olive oil?
What is extra virgin olive oil? It comes from virgin oil production where olives are not treated with chemicals, has no more than 0.8% acidity, and is not recommended for cooking. High temperatures distort the subtle taste qualities of extra virgin olive oil, so if you are sautéing vegetables for a marinara, you should use something less expensive, like plain old virgin olive oil. >MoreMilky way
When you're from Wisconsin, it's easy to take milk for granted. It's part of the landscape. Goes well with chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter sandwiches and blindingly hot Salvadoran peppers. In the grocery store, most of us grab a carton of our regular, whether whole, 2%, 1% or skim, and beyond that we probably don't have much of a handle on how different milks actually taste. >More