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Urban Outfitters opened in Milwaukee in 2007.
Urban Outfitters opened in Milwaukee in 2007.

My favorite Madison spots are now in Milwaukee, too

It's "Madison Week" at We sent our editorial staff to check out bars, restaurants, retail outlets and cultural venues in order to uncover some of the best of Wisconsin's second-largest city. 

Years ago, I took day trips to Madison a few times a year. I had a long list of places I liked to visit, including Community Pharmacy and Ragstock, but Urban Outfitters and Noodles & Co. were my favorite places to crash.

The fact I loved Noodles so much -- and would beeline for a bowl of Japanese pan noodles -- is particularly humorous to me now, considering the chain is one of the "McDonald’s" of the new millennium. But 10 years ago or more, the concept was fresh and the food was tasty, especially to my unsophisticated palate that savored any noodle dish that didn’t come in a package stamped with the word "Ramen."

I also adored going to Urban Outfitters. I would spend hours in the place looking at everything, from the fashions to the funky home furnishings, and would usually walk away with what would become my new favorite sweater, necklace or drink coasters.

I still love Madison, but it’s just not quite as magnetic as it was a decade ago.

Mike Schank from "American Movie" chills out at home.
Mike Schank from "American Movie" chills out at home.

I kissed Mike Schank from "American Movie"

It’s true. I kissed him. About eight years ago, while auditioning for a new Mark Borchardt film, we interacted in a scene together and I planted one square on his mouth. It was short and sweet, but all the same, the experience instantly topped my mental list of local, surreal experiences.

I’m using this smooch confession as a lede, and a cheap lede at that, to segue into the fact that "American Movie" is 10 years old, and an anniversary screening is set for Thursday, Jan. 22, at Landmark’s Oriental Theatre, 2230 N. Farwell Ave. The film airs at 7 p.m.

According to Milwaukee Film, the documentary’s main subjects, Mark Borchardt and the aforementioned Schank, will be in the audience. Both Borchardt and Schank are from Menomonee Falls.

Co-director Chris Smith will attend the anniversary release, but the other director, Sarah Price, is at the Sundance Film Festival for a movie she helped shoot, "The Yes Men Fix The World."

Originally, "American Movie" premiered Jan. 22, 1999, at the Sundance Film Festival. It earned that year’s Grand Jury award, secured a distribution deal from Sony Pictures Classics and went on to receive prizes and accolades around the world.

Following the success of the film, Borchardt and Schank became repeat guests on "Letterman," hung out at the Playboy Mansion with Roger Ebert and attracted national media to Milwaukee for interviews.

"American Movie" tells the story of Borchardt’s dream to make a movie called "Coven" and his obsessive quest for the American dream. Price believes that, a decade later, the film remains relevant.

"Humor aside, it's a story about an inspiring individual on a mission to fulfill his dream in the face of adversity," says Price. "I don't know about you, but I can always use a good dose of that."

Price co-produced a documentary music film, "Youssou N'Dour: I Bring What I Love," that is currently showing in Europe. The film will screen in American theaters this summer.…

Do you care if your guests can feel their toes?
Do you care if your guests can feel their toes?

Must you crank up your heat for guests?

We're all struggling to deal with the "dangerously low" temperatures that plunged Milwaukee into a penguin-friendly state of existence earlier this week.

These arctic temperatures force us to make a big decision: how high -- or low -- should we set the thermostat? Bank-busting gas bills and below-zero temps are, unfortunately, the best of friends, so it's crucial we identify the fine line between what we want to pay at the end of the month and how many layers we want to pile on our bodies.

People have different comfort levels and budgets for their monthly bills, so whereas some folks enjoy a toasty 70 or 72 degrees, others reluctantly live in a nippier environment

However, if you choose -- or are forced to choose -- to keep your heat on the low side,  is it your responsibility to turn up the heat when you entertain friends or family? Can you simply alert guests that your house is chilly, and they should bring an extra sweater?

Can you really invite a couple over for dinner and serve them in a 57-degree dining room?

S & M Food Mart, 2501 N. Holton St., might sell licorice whips, but probably not leather ones.
S & M Food Mart, 2501 N. Holton St., might sell licorice whips, but probably not leather ones.

A sadomasochist food mart?

I have lived in Riverwest for a long time, but whenever I drive down Holton Street and see this corner market called S&M Food Mart, I always snicker to myself. I can’t help it.

Who names their shop something like this? Were they aware of the sexual connotation such a name carries? Most likely, it's the initials of the two owners and English is not their first language, so they were not aware of the "other" S&M.

Or maybe they were completely familiar with the role-playing fetish and thought such a racy name might boost sales. Who knows.

In any case, finally I pulled the car over today and snapped this photo to immortalize S&M Foods, which doesn’t appear to be open anymore. Enjoy.