By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Apr 29, 2010 at 4:36 PM

The weekend is close, but not quite here. How do you pass the time?

Perhaps a new CD, a stroll through an up-and-coming neighborhood, a new lunch spot or a cool drink will get you to the promised land of couch surfing, lawn work and relaxation.

Here are a few of our favorite things this week:

Rafter -- "Animal Feelings" (Asthmatic Kitty Records) -- Someone described this record by San Diego producer and musician Rafter Roberts as "Nintendo composter Koji Kondo leading a fantasy camp super-jam with Cody Chestnutt, Justin Timberlake and the Tom Tom Club." That's a great summary, but check out the opener (which has a name I can't repeat here) and I'd suggest that maybe it's "Ben Gibbard singing with a stripped down ELO." The beauty of "Animal Feelings" is that each track sounds different but feels part of a whole. "Timeless Form, Formless Time" has some deep baritone sax as part of the groove and dashes of African guitar lines. "Feels Good" is pure late-period Funkadelic. "Paper" has an almost soca-style base. Other tracks conjure Prince. What binds them all together is a focus on drums and rhythm. Part funk, part alt.rock, and all pastiche, "Animal Feelings" is a keeper. -- Bobby Tanzilo

A rockabilly "Country Roads (Take Me Home)" -- I heard John Denver'ssignature song during the NCAA tournament and found it strange that a bunch of basketball players -- who weren't born in West Virginia -- werestoked to hear it. I was stoked when I heard Jason and the Scorchers' searing cover of the song. The Scorchers put out a number of excellent covers and I might have to dive into them in the next few weeks. -- Drew Olson

Cafe at the Plaza -- I’m working on a longer piece about this Downtown gem, but a quick shout-out for now about this charming eatery inside The Plaza Hotel, 1007 N. Cass St. The food is good -- try the pancakes, the eggs Benedict or an omelet -- and the coffee is strong. Plus, you get the added bonus of feeling like you're dining a half-decade ago, whether you’re sitting at the lunch counter, in the dining area or in the airy courtyard. -- Molly Snyder Edler

Taking a walk around The Brewery -- I implore you to get to the former Pabst Brewery complex and take a walk around this emerging Downtown Milwaukee neighborhood.  As urban planners say, it's has "great bones" and is truly positioned for growth, density and development.  The sidewalks, streets and Zilber Park are clean and almost shouting out for traffic.  The buildings are beautiful, many restored and most ready for new tenants while several already are full.  Take a walk around this Downtown jewel before it explodes, you'll be very impressed and proud of your city. See link below for an upcoming, organized tour of The Brewery. -- Jeff Sherman

iPad Ultimate SleeveCase -- About 10 minutes after I bought my iPad, I realized that this tablet needs a case. It's not really optional; without one, this $500 investment wouldn't last long. Apple's official iPad case is unusually chintzy, but fortunately alternatives began popping up quickly. The first one I've tried might very well turn out to be my favorite. Created by San Francisco's WaterField Designs, the Ultimate SleeveCase is a handmade bag designed specifically for the iPad. It's nice and snug, built with high-grade neoprene and wrapped in a nearly indestructible ballistic nylon shell. The look is modern and
casual, but in no way cheap -- think classy but not conservative. The protection is awesome, but my favorite part is the suede lining, which actually cleans the super-smudgy iPad screen each time you take it in and out of the case. Finally, this gender-neutral case is TSA-friendly, so you don't have to take it out at airport screenings. With a back pocket to hold business cards or a pen or two, this case is quickly becoming attached to my iPad at all times. The leather trimmed version is $59 at -- Andy Tarnoff

XXX Vitamin Water Zero -- Water isn't my thing; I can drinkit when there's nothing else around, but I need some flavor. I'm new to the Vitamin Water craze and during the NCAA Tournament in Milwaukee -- when you're basically force-fed the stuff thanks to the NCAA's insane marketing agreement -- I started overloading on the purple, fruit punch favor ... until I realized just how much sugar was in one bottle. I had already added the XXX flavor into my rotation when a friend of mine had a bottle of the zero-calorie variety. The flavor wasn't quite as bold, but it was still delicious and I'm hooked. -- Andrew Wagner