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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Teams raise funds and walk to help support children and families in need.
Teams raise funds and walk to help support children and families in need. (Photo: Next Door)

Walk with Next Door to help children and families in need

Struggling with poverty is a difficult challenge, especially when children are relying on you to provide them with a stable, healthy life. But helping families in need can be as easy as putting one foot in front of the other.

Next Door Milwaukee will hold its 25th annual Walk for Children on Saturday, May 17th from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The kickoff will start at the Milwaukee Community Medical Center at 5310 W. Capitol Drive.

The two-mile walk will begin at 10 a.m. and will include festivities such as live entertainment, fun activities, prizes and food for all registered participants.

The purpose of the walk is to raise funds and awareness for Next Door's early education and family programming services.

There will also be special guests including walk leader Keith E. Wandell, the chairman, president and chief executive officer of Harley-Davidson, Inc., and former Green Bay Packers running back Ahman Green.

"We are so happy to welcome Mr. Wandell as our Walk Leader and Mr. Green as our special guest and thank them for their commitment to our 25th Annual Walk for Children," said Next Door Executive Director Carol Keintz. "We appreciate the longtime support from Harley-Davidson and all of our sponsors for this event to raise funds for our early education programming."

For more information about Next Door and to register a team for the Walk for Children, visit nextdoormil.org/NextDoor/Walk-for-Children.htm or email Kimberly Nerone at knerone@nextdoormil.org.

If you have something else planned for May 17th, there are still plenty of ways to help. Next Door is currently in the middle of their book drive. They are looking to collect 5,000 new or gently-used children's books—particularly infant-toddler picture books—by May 15th, which will then be distributed to over 1,600 children.

Beyond the walk and the book drive, Next Door welcomes more volunteers.

Next Door works with thousands of children and families throughout the city of Milwaukee to give central city families the skills …

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4 apps to help you learn a new language.
4 apps to help you learn a new language.

Learn another language with 4 easy apps

It's been a week since you resolved to change your life. How are you doing so far? Yeah, me too.

There is a belief that making small, incremental changes is the best way to go about changing your life. This is why big goals like exercising and eating right often fail. While these big goals are always a good idea they're just too disruptive to handle with ease.

How about learning a new language? That may also sound like "too disruptive" of an idea. Learning a language is complex, time-consuming, and schooling and software sounds expensive.

Well thankfully in the past few years a solid group of apps have risen to the challenge of making language learning easy, fun and for the most part, free.

Here is a comprehensive review of what I've tried:

DuoLingo

1. DuoLingo – free (Android, iOS, Web)

DuoLingo is a real winner in terms of design, fun and effectiveness. DuoLingo's goal is to immerse users into a language, rather than explain all the stuffy rules. There are reading, listening, and even speaking activities. The app strikes the perfect balance between being quick, productive and fun. There is a point system to compete with friends, a reward system to cash in for prizes and races against the clock. Don't feel competitive? There is still a lot of fun to be had. The designs are cute and the sounds are top notch.

The website also offers additional features over the app, including discussion forums for each lesson and real-world document translation for a tougher challenge.

One of the few drawbacks with this comprehensive system is that they currently only offer six languages to learn (German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, English), but there are plans to crowd source many more over time (Russian is next). Another problem is that immersion without rules can be confounding. For instance in German there are four versions of "you" that are never fully explained. It is best to pair your learning with a little online research. This goes for all apps.

DuoLingo was c…

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Can you handle the madness?
Can you handle the madness?
500 Clown will turn your perception of this classic upside down.
500 Clown will turn your perception of this classic upside down.
What can a clown do with electricity?
What can a clown do with electricity?
500 Clown brings madness and sadness.
500 Clown brings madness and sadness.

"500 Clown Frankenstein" combines clowning, Frankenstein

"So I just got word that 500 Clown Frankenstein is coming to South Milwaukee," blinked my instant messenger. It was my brother, who lives in Chicago and is active in their theater scene.

Did I read that right? 500 Clown Frankenstein? "What is that?" I asked, confused.

My brother attempted to clarify, "500 Clown is a performance company in Chicago. They're doing "Frankenstein" this time around. They super-deconstruct stories and re-tell them with clowning. Good clown, not bad clown. I've seen their Frankenstein. It's really good."

Good clown? "I am skeptical," I said.

Skeptical, but admittedly curious. Clowns? Frankenstein? What can this possibly mean? My curiosity quickly overwhelmed my skepticism and I sought out a trailer. What I saw could not have possibly sold me any quicker on the idea.

Instead of your typical white faced, red lipsticked, balloon-covered clowns I saw plain-faced characters dressed in Edwardian costumes moving around in over-exaggerated, slapstick ways. It opens with a drum roll as a hat is tossed onto (who I can only assume is) Victor Frankenstein's head who then calls out, "Ha! Science!" What follows is the tipping of over-sized tables and chairs, exaggerated electrical shocks, hands shoved deep inside mouths,  and plenty of blood curdling screams all set to a cover of "Chick Habit" by the brash, gypsy brass band Mucca Pazza.

"Should the audience every be worried about the actors on the stage? asks cast member Molly Brennan in another promo. "500 Clown is about pushing that edge."

500 Clown’s "Frankenstein" features three performers who are charged with the task of making a monster. Bound in elaborate Edwardian costumes, the trio embarks on a journey to construct Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory while they struggle and battle through acrobatic feats.  The Chicago Sun-Times describes the performance as "A work of psychic combat and power games that will have you laughing and holding your breath all at the same time."

The whole produc…

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Bike to Work Week happens May 13-18.
Bike to Work Week happens May 13-18.
The Bicycle Film Festival wraps up Bike to Work Week on May 18
The Bicycle Film Festival wraps up Bike to Work Week on May 18

Bike to Work Week 2013, May 13-18

Getting the average commuter to consider riding a bike is a difficult thing because it comes with negative perceptions. It looks slow and dangerous, cyclists come off as snobs, and it requires effort, which leads to sweat, a very un-businessperson-like accoutrement.

Cycling has to remove as many barriers as possible to make it easy in order to encourage more butts in the saddle. This is getting more difficult as Wisconsin sinks further down the list of "Bike Friendly States." Not too long ago, we were at the top of the list, but due to the decreased funding for bicycle infrastructure we have sunk to number 8. The miniscule amount of money that was already granted is being robbed to build a few feet of extra freeway.

All told, not ideal. But even with reduced infrastructure funding (number 8 really isn't that bad, considering), there are still a lot of benefits of riding a bike and perhaps it's time to reconsider the incorrect perceptions.

Sure, driving a car might get a person within their destination faster, but it doesn't consider the time it takes to find parking. Riding a bike might look dangerous, but it is actually significantly safer than driving a car. Cyclists may seem like snobs (especially from behind the wheel) but talk to most of them and you'll find people who are happy to share their passions, and happy to see more cyclists on the road.

And the sweat? Well, that might be mostly unavoidable, but there are some ways to regulate that, either with riding when it's cooler, riding slower, packing an extra set of clothes, or, if you're lucky, taking advantage of on site showers.

And there are still a wealth of hidden conveniences that come with riding a bike. Sometimes they just have to be demonstrated, and Bike to Work Week, which runs from May 13-18, is like a crash course in finding out what the city has to offer.

Don't feel like you need to ditch your car. The overall goal is participation. Don't feel bad if you can't ride all seven days, but don't…

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