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Thursday, December 18, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 18.0° F  Fair

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Drama Queen: Rebecca Jallings has built a showbiz empire at West High

At a signal from the teacher, the kids scurry into a circle formation. They put various appendages in, put them out, shake them all about. They hop up and down, singing, "La la la la la!" This is not my toddler's preschool. This is Rebecca Jallings' Theater 2 class at Madison West High School. >More
 The Grand Illusionist: Matthew Teague tries to make it as a full-time Madison magician

Matthew Teague has a problem. In fact, the 28-year-old magician has a couple of them. First, it's loud. Presumably, the atmosphere at Nakoma Golf Club is more sedate most days. But it's a Friday night in mid-December, and holiday celebrations are in full swing. Bass shakes the walls as a band covers Beyoncé in the next room. >More
 Party like it's 1899: TeslaCon brings steampunk culture to the masses

Eric Larson wasn't at this summer's Renaissance fair for five minutes before strangers started approaching shyly, undeterred by his four-person "security detail." "There was an older couple, probably about mid-50s," Larson remembers. "He was straightening his hair, and I could tell he was very nervous. I turned, and I said, 'Can I help you?'" "A-a-a-a-are you Lord Bobbins?" the man asked. Ever magnanimous, Larson allowed that he was. >More
 Madison masterpieces: Garbage, Garbage

What prompted me to listen to Garbage's debut, I cannot precisely recall. I think I liked the cover art and band name. I'm almost positive I hadn't heard a single song before trying it out on the headphones at a record store in Lincoln, Neb., in August 1995. >More
 A messy mix: This American Life's Ira Glass reinvents radio onstage

Here's the thing about Ira Glass: The host of public radio's This American Life seems to be exactly the same in real life (inasmuch as a phone interview constitutes real life) as he is on his show. During our 25-minute conversation, Glass is friendly, talkative but also inquisitive, somehow simultaneously relaxed and manic, peppering his speech with plenty of "I mean"s and "like"s. He's funny and self-deprecating, but also so sincere it would be almost absurd, if you didn't know this is just the way he does it. >More
 Extreme beer: Wisconsin brewers go way beyond lager

Normally, I would not get up early on a Saturday, pile into my car and drive 30 miles through the freezing rain just for a beer. Extreme beers, however, call for extreme measures. And so it is that I find myself at Vintage Liquor in Black Earth, purchasing four bottles of Thermo Refur, made by Spring Green brewer Furthermore. >More
 Five Wisconsin-made extreme beers to watch for

Our local brewers tend toward the traditional, but you don't have to go to extremes to find something a bit more out there. These beers should be in stores now or soon. >More
 Xmas episodes from days gone by

When it comes to television at this time of year, it's the Christmas specials that rule the scene. Spending an evening with stop-motion Rudolph and the Whos of Whoville is nothing less than sacred tradition in many households. Regular series, on the other hand, tend to get short shrift. >More
 American Players Theatre's charming The Tempest weathers the storm

We left Madison in a raging downpour Saturday night, but by the time we got to Spring Green, the only storm in evidence was the product of sound effects. And good thing, too, because The Tempest is a comic romance, and to have been deprived of the latest outdoor take on Shakespeare's play by American Players Theatre would have been a tragedy. >More
 Charter's tech support via Twitter is surprisingly good

If you've heard anything about Twitter, there's a good chance it involved the word "useless." And if you've heard anything about customer service at Charter Communications, Madison's primary cable television provider, there's a good chance it also involved that word. Or possibly stronger language. But something strange happens when you combine the two: They work. >More
 Kevin Henkes' latest, Little White Rabbit, gets inside a bunny's head

Kevin Henkes, Madison's Caldecott-winning children's author, is in fine form with his new picture book, Little White Rabbit (Greenwillow Books). The narrative is not complicated: We meet our protagonist, the titular little white rabbit, as he is hopping along. >More
 Pretty-good Guys & Does sets deer hunting to music

The first American Folklore Theatre production at Overture Center, the musical comedy Guys & Does, is exactly what you expect. There are guys. There are deer. And there are dad jokes and goofy songs. All in all, the two-hour show's opening performance Tuesday night was pretty good. >More
 Chatty Dar Williams makes herself at home in lively Barrymore Theatre set

If, say, a pair of travelers had gotten completely lost Wednesday night and stumbled into the Dar Williams show at the Barrymore Theatre, seeking to orient themselves, all they'd have had to do was wait for a song to end to ascertain that they were indeed on the east side of Madison. >More
 The Project Lodge's volunteer managers choose art over money

The concert is memorable in many ways, but what really strikes me -- and what will linger in my mind long after -- is how the man who stamps my hand thanks me. All he says is, "Thank you for coming." But while the words are ordinary, his tone is unusually sincere. Genuine. Mindful. It doesn't sound like a rote courtesy, nor does it sound like he's trying to be sincere. It just sounds like he means it. >More
 At MadCon, an ailing Harlan Ellison will say goodbye

Fans of fantastic fiction -- or just some of the finest damn writing to be put on paper -- take heed: If you've ever wanted to talk to Harlan Ellison, this weekend's MadCon 2010 is your last chance. >More
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