OnMilwaukee.com recommends, Feb. 9, 2013
Books, TV and more in this week's edition of OnMilwaukee.com Recommends.
Downtown Milwaukee Public Library – Been a while since you visited the public library, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave.? It just might be time for a visit. Whether you go for reading material or not, the opulence of the building alone makes it worth a stop. If you have kids, be sure to check out the colorful, large-windowed children's section, complete with a climbable lighthouse, a fantastic collection of puppets (which you can check out!) and a wooden train play set. And while you're there, stop off at Bookseller, a cafe and used bookshop where everything costs between 10 cents and $2. The Downtown library also has drive-through service, which will ensure returning whatever you check out during your visit is a breeze. At the very least, duck into the front lobby area and look up. –Molly Snyder
"The Chicago Schoolhouse: High School Architecture and Educational Reform, 1856-2006," by Dale Allen Gyure (University of Chicago Press) – Because I'm a geek for old school buildings, as well as public education history, I devoured Gyure's book, which focuses on high school buildings in Chicago. He uses the changes reflected in those buildings to explain changes in approaches to education over the course of 150 years and he circles back to explain how those varied educational philosophies led district officials and architects to rethink their own approaches to the buildings themselves. There are a lot of photographs and reproductions of floor plans that trace the changes from closed buildings with a single double-loaded corridor to open buildings designed in U and E shapes with single-loaded corridors to allow light to flood classrooms. Later, buildings had to accommodate a focus on vocational training with big, open shop classes and still later, open-concept classrooms with moveable walls to help accommodate the buzzword of the middle and later part of the 20th century: flexibility. I might read it again. – Bobby Tanzilo
"House of Cards" – I needed a new series and while I contemplated starting "West Wing" from the pilot on Netflix I came across "House of Cards." After two episodes, I'm in and think you'll like it too. It stars Kevin Spacey as House Majority Whip Frank Underwood, and if you need an equation it's a confident blend of a less serious "Boss" from Starz mixed with the media and political drama of a "Newsroom" type show from HBO sprinkled with a fairly digestible dose of comedy that you'd get in a non-dumbed-down sitcom. It's entertaining and can easy be viewed as a series or as chapters in a book that you don't want to end. Again, I'm only two episodes in but I'm liking what I'm seeing. – Jeff Sherman
DreamHomeSource.com – I found this website on Pinterest, the mother of all delightful time-wasters. Peruse a plethora of home renderings and floorplans based on your ideal specifications: how many bathrooms, how many bedrooms, how many garage bays and what style of house you want it to be (I chose Georgian). You can even estimate the cost of building, plus check to see if it would be allowed in your ZIP code. For me, homeownership is just a pipe dream right now, and this website is a great way to mentally escape my cramped apartment. But this could actually be very useful treasure trove of ideas for people looking to build or remodel their own home. – Colleen Jurkiewicz
"Smash" – A lot of my theater friends sneer at me for liking this show. They laugh at how unlike the real word of theater the show is. Of course it's not like real life in the theater. IT'S TELEVISION! To expect realism is unreasonable. There are some interesting characters, some pretty good show music, some good dancing and some pretty girls. I don't really need much else for some good TV viewing. If I want realism in the world of theater, I just have to look at my life. For some escapist fare, "Smash" seems to fit the bill. – Dave Begel
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