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Uno Throwdown is an upside-down and backwards version of the original game that might have you questioning the sanity of its creators.
Uno Throwdown is an upside-down and backwards version of the original game that might have you questioning the sanity of its creators.

Uno Throwdown: New rules in the house

We're all connected 24/7 to computers, tablets, phones and television. But there's more to life than being online – even for a digital media company! – so this week we're excited to show you ways to connect with family and friends, even when there's no signal. Steinhafels presents OnMilwaukee Unplugged Week, a celebration of all things analog. Sit back, log into these stories and then log into the real world.

Earlier this week, Jeff Sherman wrote about spending time with the family playing the 45-year old card game Uno. It's easy to learn and fun for kids and adults. As he also mentioned, newer versions of the basic deck might come with variant "house" rules included (and, further still, separate expanded versions feature other unique inclusions like automated card flippers).

Using the idea of those house rules as inspiration, my family and friends created an off-the-wall variant that we call Uno Throwdown. It can be played with a standard deck of Uno cards (though, if you want to cut down on shuffling, I recommend getting two).

The creation of the game happened one night probably a decade ago (this is back when The Buddha Lounge on North Avenue was still the 24-hour coffee shop Node). My younger brother Adam McDowell, my then-girlfriend Chelsea Muench and I, drunk on coffee, began stuffing the rule book with variations. Since then I've never played an "official" game of Uno and we've played it so many times that I can't remember where the official rules end and our crazy rules begin.

It started because I had a handful of six and nine cards, none of them matching, and I wished I could dump them all in one swoop to win the game.

"Sixes and nines should be interchangeable," I declared, but was quickly shot down.

After subsequently losing that game and while dealing out a new hand for the next game, I set the variation. "Okay, this time sixes and nines ARE interchangeable." For whatever reason, my friends allowed the delusion and the game began. As the night progre…

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Santa Cycle Rampage brought out nearly 700 Santas, Mrs. Clauses, elves, Krampuses and more last year.
Santa Cycle Rampage brought out nearly 700 Santas, Mrs. Clauses, elves, Krampuses and more last year.
The 2015 Santa Cycle Rampage hat.
The 2015 Santa Cycle Rampage hat.
The 2015 Santa Cycle Rampage t-shirt.
The 2015 Santa Cycle Rampage t-shirt.

Santa Cycle Rampage goes from free to fee

The Santa Cycle Rampage has been bringing joy via nearly 700 Santas, Mrs. Clauses, elves, Krampuses (and even a Menorah or two) to Milwaukee for 15 years, but while this ride has become as traditional as a Bing Crosby classic, this year the format is evolving. If you want to participate, you'll be expected to pay.

According to organizer Dave Schlabowske via a blog post on the Wisconsin Bike Fed's site, this year the Santa Cycle Rampage is designed to help raise funds for the cycling advocacy organization. "I told everyone who asked that I was not organizing an official Rampage [but] after much haranguing…my fellow Original Santas convinced me to try one more time."

"In order to revive the Santa Cycle Rampage with the Bike Fed taking the lead…we had to make some changes. What we decided to try this year is to charge a fee for registration with a waiver, get permits and pay for insurance."

The official ride happens on December 5th at 9:30AM. It will begin in the land of green bike lanes at Cranky Al's (6901 West North Avenue in Wauwatosa) and follow in the footsteps of July's successful Polish Moon ride, which was a family-friendly slow ride that avoided stops for alcohol.

If you're disappointed by this, don't worry, there will be plenty of unofficial after parties that should look quite familiar to Rampage veterans. "We did contact all the other business owners where Santas traditionally gather in the morning or as post ride parties, and they all agreed to roll out the red carpet for holiday merry makers again this year," said Schlabowske. "We even picked up some new places."

So what's this gonna cost me?

The price of the official Santa Cycle Rampage is $20 for members and $35 for non-members, but that includes a Bike Fed membership, and a hat or event t-shirt. I dig the hat.

"We won’t make much money [on the registration] because between the free hat or shirt, insurance, and permits, our costs add up to nearly that. We will make money from the sponsors of…

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Photo: Shutterstock.
Photo: Shutterstock.
Photo: Shutterstock.
Photo: Shutterstock.
Photo: Shutterstock.
Photo: Shutterstock.
Photo: Savvapanf Photo/Shutterstock.
Photo: Savvapanf Photo/Shutterstock.
Photo: Shutterstock.
Photo: Shutterstock.
Photo: Shutterstock.
Photo: Shutterstock.
Photo: Disney.
Photo: Disney.

7 Halloween costumes that can never be made sexy

Sexy Halloween costumes. Some people love 'em. Some people hate 'em. Some people want Halloween to remain rooted in terror, while others love the inherent liberation in pretending to be something they're not (or something they wish they could be).

There is a lot of chatter around the internet about which costumes SHOULD never be made sexy. But I'm telling you these costumes COULD never be made sexy. Try as you might, no amount of midriff, no length of skirt, and no hue of lipstick in these costumes will ever inspire arousal from the opposite sex.

1. Excel spreadsheet

Individually it would be easy to think that the words "spread" and "sheet" could lead to something sexy, but put them together and physics takes over, changing the chemical properties of the two words into a costume that could not possibly be made sexy.

Even populating all those cells with the number "69" would fail to make this costume sexy. Photo: Shutterstock.

2. A pea

I like peas. I eat 'em every week. But even I have to admit the taste of peas might best be described as a dull funk. And let me tell you, dull funk are two words that have never come near the word sexy. I could imagine a two peas in a pod costume could be made sexy. A singular pea, though? Sorry buddy, but you might as well put on your "staying in" pants.

That dull funk is making me sweat. Suggested by Dave Begel. Photo: Shutterstock.

3. Jabba the Hutt

Some people find power sexy, but one of Star Wars' most powerful gangsters, Jabba the Hutt, can not possibly be made sexy. Try as he might, licking his lips and waggling his tail, it's hard to imagine anything arousing about an oversized, turd-shaped worm.

He's missing that wiggle in his walk and that giggle in his talk. Suggested by Nick Barth. Photo: Disney.

4. Portable toilet

You're at an outdoor festival. You've had a few beers to drink. You excuse yourself to "take care of some business." Does anybody ever approach a port-o-potty with anything less than a hint of dre…

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