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A new genome exhibit opens at Discovery World in January, in a new show space.
A new genome exhibit opens at Discovery World in January, in a new show space.

Among the updates at Discovery World: newfound gallery space

There are a number of changes under way at Discovery World on the lakefront, including newfound exhibition space, an existing exhibit that is ballooning and changes for the Innovation Theater.

The first to arrive will be a real excavator that visitors can operate using a set of controls. The museum has had a remote-controlled excavator for years, of course, but that one was toy-sized and behind plexiglass. This one, just a few feet away, is full-sized and accessible.

Visitors will be able to sit inside, though the control panel will be outside the cab. The new excavator will be up and running on Black Friday, Nov. 27.

Right nearby, the museum's staff is prepping the second annual appearance of the legendary Kooky Cooky House, which was a Milwaukee holiday tradition for decades at the old Capitol Court shopping center.

The newly constructed house debuted last year at D.W. but this year moves to a much more high profile space, right in the heart of the main exhibition area, as you can see in this photo:

Discovery World CEO Joel Brennan told me that the museum is "over-theatered," having two state of the art projection and presentation spaces on the first floor. Therefore, the Innovation Theater, next to the gift shop, will be re-purposed.

In order to do that, the tiered seating structure (the underside of which you can see in the photo below) will be dismantled. That structure is made of a thin layer of concrete atop a metal structure that will be relatively easily removed, according to Brennan.

The digital theater, with its stunning lake views, will remain and will become the locus of Discovery World's visual media programming and presentations.

Lastly, the museum has carved a new 5,000-square foot exhibition space out of an area that was previously used – and under-utilized, said Brennan – as storage and offices. The area is above the Kohl's Design It! Lab and is accessed via a new staircase.

The space, which will likely be opened up to offer …

Dave Monroe didn't much like having his picture taken, but he sure loved 7" 45s.
Dave Monroe didn't much like having his picture taken, but he sure loved 7" 45s. (Photo: William J. Seidel/Facebook)

Bobby Tanzilo mourns the death of Flavor Dave Monroe

Yesterday morning, the posts began to appear on Facebook. Many of them read the same, including the one posted on Dave Monroe's own Facebook profile...

"Dave Monroe mourns the death of David Michael Monroe (1966-2015)."

That was how the Milwaukee musician, DJ, cineaste, man about town, all-around savant Monroe would acknowledge someone's passing on Facebook, so it read like an eerie message from beyond. But a fitting one and one many of his friends – including me – would mimic in the following hours in tribute to this most unique of Milwaukeeans.

If I could post nothing more than a silhouette of Dave Monroe, chances are a good chunk of Milwaukeeans would be able to recognize it immediately: the parka, the stack of books jammed under the arm.

Sometimes Dave didn't realize how many friends he had. But in his hour of need, he surely knew. When cancer reared its ugly presence, the Dave Monroe Fan Club was founded on Facebook and there are nearly 500 members. We should all be so lucky.

News of his passing has led to countless tributes, typically in the form of anecdotes – everyone has at least one –  flooding social media.

I vividly remember the first time I met Dave. He approached me at UWM – in his green Mod parka, ever-present books under his arm – saying he'd heard I had a massive collection of records by The Jam. He was eager to know exactly what I had, in detail.

He spoke in that rapid-fire delivery, tinged with a nervous edge, that was one of his many trademarks. That must've been 1984, maybe '85, and from that moment on, I was always aware of Dave's presence.

He was in bands – the one with the best name was Schrodinger's Cats; he was a DJ spinning fine obscure records around town; I ran into him often when he was a guard at the Milwaukee Art Museum and then later at the Milwaukee Public Museum. He could be seen at films ranging from obscure, arguably over-long (and surely he'd argue one side or the other) art house fare to the latest Marvel s…

"Minecraft-Volume Alpha" is part one of a two-part soundtrack to the game your kids are likely playing right now.
"Minecraft-Volume Alpha" is part one of a two-part soundtrack to the game your kids are likely playing right now.

Minecraft music: the perfect distraction from "Minecraft"

Yesterday, I stopped to see a friend who generously gave me a stack of records, just because. One of them – an older release – caught the eye of my kids.

"Minecraft-Volume Alpha," by C418. Sure, it was the lenticular Minecraft cover that really grabbed their attention, but we took it for a spin, and my kids heard music that they recognized – or at least was in the style of music – from their surely too many hours spent building worlds and then chasing each other around in them.

That led me to type "Minecraft" into Spotify, and like cover versions on YouTube, Minecraft music is definitely a thing. And while it appears to skew heavily ambient, Minecraft music appears as wide-ranging as the game itself.

The C418 record is the first of a two-part soundtrack to the game that was composed and performed by German musician Daniel Rosenfeld. While we listened, my kids said things like, "That's the sound you hear when doors open," referring to the game. Meanwhile, I could imagine myself getting a deep tissue massage while this soothing electronica oozed out of speakers in a dark, fern-laden room smelling of citrus and mint.

I think my offspring preferred more uptempo, novelty-ish songs like Tryhardninja's "Revenge (Minecraft Creeper Song)" ...

This take on Men At Work's "Down Under" ...

And, most of all, they were stoked to robot dance to this catchy Dwayne Russell creation while, singing, "creepy, creepy, creepy" ...

The music won't change their lives or mine, but, hey, at least they looked away from the screen for a couple minutes.

The Peninsula Chicago pool.
The Peninsula Chicago pool.

5 great Chicago hotels

Check in early and stay late during OnMilwaukee's "Hotel Week" sponsored by VISIT Milwaukee. The next seven days will be packed with stories about historic area hotels, reviews, history, food and drink, staycations and more. Find out what it's like to be a tourist in this town. (Chocolate on your pillow not included.)

In an article about our favorite hotels, which runs this weekend, I say that I always joke that I'm better at recommending Chicago hotels – I've stayed at quite a few – than hotels in Milwaukee, where I've spent the night in just one. And, really, it's true.Β 

I look for any excuse to stay over in the Windy City – with just my wife, with the whole family and sometimes with one kid at a time. And over the years, we've experienced quite a few hotels. Here are five of the best (in no particular order).

1. The Peninsula

It's a bit difficult to explain the glory of The Peninsula in Chicago, which, from what I can tell, is the jewel in the international chain of hotels. The rooms are carefully appointed, the staff is warm and welcoming, and a stay there offers that rare occasion in life when every detail appears to be – quietly and understatedly – considered and attended to. The location is prime. The restaurants are acclaimed. And the indoor rooftop pool is nothing short of stunning, especially at dusk as the Tip Top Tap sign lights up outside one of the copious windows. Now, the hotel is also updating its rooms and adding cutting edge technological upgrades, upping the ante even more.

2. The Langham

After a spring visit here, I noted that The Langham – located in Miles van der Rohe's IBM Plaza – brings the landmark's International style building's sleek elegance and brings it indoors. The hotel's king room is spacious and bright with clean lines, a bath and vanity area worthy of royalty and great views of the Chicago River – even out to Lake Michigan – and the mix of vintage and sparkling new skyscrapers that line it, including the Trump In…