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They look the part, but they don't act it.
They look the part, but they don't act it.

No need to run to "The Runaways"

I might have busted an E string in excitement when I first heard that a movie about The Runaways, an all-girl ‘70s punk band featuring Joan Jett, was in the works. Although the band was long dissolved by the time I got my hands on a warbly cassette of their music in the mid-'80s, I spent an entire summer listening to almost nothing but their second album,"Queens of Noise."

Needless to say, when "The Runaways" finally made its way to Milwaukee last Friday -- it's on the main screen at The Oriental Theater -- I was extremely stoked.

The film is loosely based on lead singer Cheri Currie's memoir, "Neon Angel," and I assumed the screenplay would dish up all the gritty details of the band's rise and fall, allow viewers to find out more about these raunchy punk rock pioneers and deliver hot, artistic girl-on-girl action between Jett and Currie.

Unfortunately, none of the above happened.

A weak script and spotty acting nix any chance for character development. We have no idea what Jett -- played by the Kristen Stewart -- is thinking or feeling. Visually, she looks like Jett, but we are only privy to her stereotyped shell reinforced by scene after scene like the one with she jumps wildly on her bed in her underpants, guitar strapped to her skinny, teenaged body.

The character of Currie, played by an all-grown-up Dakota Fanning, is a little better. We see her transform from a troubled suburbanite in a dysfunctional family to a sex pot struggling with drug addiction, but still, we have little access to her thoughts and feelings.

Also, the film pays almost no attention to the rest of the band, which includes guitarist Lita Ford (Scout Taylor-Compton), bassist Jackie Fox (Alia Shawkat) and drummer Sandy West (Stella Maeve.) This dismissal of band members -- along with the presentation of very few Runaways' songs except "Cherry Bomb" -- is the crux of the film's downfall.

The indie flick attracts primarily diehard fans of The Runaways and ‘70s …

Fold one today!
Fold one today!

Nothing's cuter than a paper hat

Like all parents, I have moments with my kids that I want to freeze forever. It’s interesting, because, for me, they rarely occur during the milestone moments.

Maybe that's because when my sons graduated from preschool or passed their swimming test, I had my camera with me, but the moments that are the most real to me -- the epitome of witnessing a kid being a kid -- are completely random.

Plus, I’m usually not quick enough to document them, other than mentally. Consequently, I have stacks of mental photo albums that are even less organized than the thousands of digital photos waiting patiently on my external hard drive for  my attention.

I had one of these "epitome of a kid being a kid" moments last week. And I was driving, hence taking a photo wasn't an option. So, here I am, fumbling to preserve it through words.

I picked up my sons from school, loaded them into the back seat of the car and started driving toward the grocery store. I heard my younger son unzip his backpack, but didn’t think much of it. About a block later, I looked in my rear view mirror and noticed he was wearing a large, paper "The Cat In The Hat" hat that he made at school.

He was looking out the car window, contently, just rocking his slightly crumpled school-made hat. He had made the decision to retrieve it from his backpack and wear it during this car ride. The thought process touched me the most, but the visual of him came in a close second.

I remembered his paper hats from the past: the pirate hat, the newspaper-folded hat, the police hat. He wore them all with pride and, on some level, believed he was truly a pirate or a policeman while wearing it.

Paper is enough to fuel his imagination. How do I photograph that? I want to capture this; I want it to stay.

"That’s a cool ‘Cat’ hat," I finally said.

"Guess what?" he said. "I made it!"

Touring Sprecher Brewery is thirsty work.
Touring Sprecher Brewery is thirsty work.

Rapid review: Sprecher Brewery Tour

March Madness is here, and the basketball action heats up in Milwaukee this week as the Bradley Center hosts the Midwest and West regional rounds of the "big dance." With fans flocking from near and far, the editorial staff at thought we'd help greet our new visitors with a week's worth of features and guides to everything that makes our city a great place to visit. It's "Welcome to Milwaukee Week" at!

The Sprecher Brewery tour is a must-do for all Milwaukeeans, their guests and visitors. It’s low-key, educational and fun, and, best of all, ends with samples in a Bavarian beer garden. Slice of perfection, you say? Indeed.

The tour begins in the Sprecher memorabilia-filled gift shop, followed by a tour through the brew house, the cellar adorned with Bavarian murals, the bottling room and last but not least, the beer garden.

The beer garden features oompah music and a variety of beer and soda samples on tap.

When to go: Sprecher generally offers tours throughout the year on Fridays at 4 p.m., Saturdays at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. and Sundays at 12, 1 and 2 p.m. Call for exact times as they may change slightly from week to week.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Sprecher offer tours on weekdays -- contingent upon production and special event scheduling -- at 4 p.m. Call ahead.

Why should I go? Brewing beer is an integral part of Milwaukee's history and a way to really get a feel for the local culture. Plus, learning and sipping suds during the same outing is fun!

Cost: Adults are $4. Anyone with a military ID gets in for $3. People under 21 are $2 and, of course, allowed to only drink Sprecher soda.

How many beers do you get? Adults get four samples of beer, chosen from 10 different beers on tap. Adults and kids can sample as many sodas as they want.

The Pub offers cheap drinks in a down-to-earth setting.
The Pub offers cheap drinks in a down-to-earth setting.

Rapid review: The Pub

"Bar Month" at is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs -- including guides, the latest trends, rapid bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!

The Pub
2479 N. Fratney St., (414) 554-7212

About two years ago, Chris Bohl bought The Pub in Riverwest and, since then, he continues to offer the neighborhood an affordable and lively bar.

The mix of drinkers is diverse, from longtime locals to transient neighborhood folk, with a completely unpretentious atmostphere and two pinball machines.

The Pub is ideal for a beer or two with friends on those nights when low-key conversation trumps "seeing and being seen."

However, if you're sensitive to smoke, The Pub is a place to consider after the smoking ban goes into effect on July 5, 2010.

Menu: The Pub has a decent selection of tap beer, including Guinness, Murphy's Irish Stout, Sierra Nevada, Bell's and a rotating representation of local breweries.

Price: Cheap.

When to go: The Pub offers happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m. every day except Sunday along with $1.50 rail drinks and $2 for anything on tap during that time. Also, Wednesday nights is Ladies' Night and, consequently, all ladies drink 2-for-1 after 8 p.m.

Dress: Very casual.

Don't miss: The $3 pitchers of Point beer.

Parking: Street parking is not a problem.