It's the middle of cold and flu season in Milwaukee and the editorial staff is operating at fever pitch. This week's batch of "stuff we really like right now" is an eclectic mix of very cool music from very different genres, an entertaining group of Japanese kids movies, a spectacular time-wasting Web site, a fun corner-bar and diversion and a delicious sandwich from a local restaurant (Cubanitas, pictured). These are a few of our favorite things right now:
Cuban sandwiches at Cubanitas -- Milwaukee's best and first Cuban restaurant, Cubanitas, 728 N. Milwaukee St., has great food inside a wonderful space. The Cuban sandwich is delicious -- roasted pork, Virginia ham, Swiss cheese and thinly sliced dill pickle on hot pressed Cuban bread with a mustard- aioli spread. Yum. The difference here, though, is the Cuban bread. Cubanitas has it flown in daily and it truly makes the sandwich. --Jeff Sherman
Say Hi's "Oohs & Ahhs" -- Seattle-based indie popper Eric Elbogen wisely changed the name of his band from Say Hi to Your Mom to the simpler and less quirky Say Hi in 2007. With the name change came a slight shift in sound to something a bit more coy and lo-fi, as exemplified on his latest release, "Oohs & Aahs." The album, the band's sixth, comes out March 3 on Barsuk Records. Lyrics are a strong point for Elbogen, whose poetry creates an incredibly warm and intimate listening experience. --Julie Lawrence
Films by Hayao Miyazaki -- I just finished watching the bulk of Japanese director and designer Hayao Miyazaki's films with my sons -- "Kiki's Delivery Service," "My Friend Totoro," "Princess Mononoke" and "Spirited Away." The classic Anime style and compelling stories featuring strong female characters make these films, quite possibly, my all-time favorites in the kids' genre. "Kiki's Delivery Service" and "My Neighbor Totoro" are appropriate for younger children, but some of Miyazaki's other films are suited for pre-teens and older. The movie features the voices of many Hollywood actors, including Claire Danes, Billy Bob Thorton and Minnie Driver. --Molly Snyder Edler
sporcle.com -- We love a good time-wasting Web site as much as the next slacker. But, the folks at sporcle found a way to let you waste time and stimulate your brain. The site features a big database of fun quizzes about sports, entertainment, geography and general knowledge delivered in a "beat the clock" fashion is guaranteed to frustrate and inspire. Last week, I asked co-workers Bobby Tanzilo and Julie Lawrence to identify all the singers from the "We Are the World" chorus. It was hilarious watching them try to pick out the Pointer Sisters, Huey Lewis' band and Dan Aykroyd (what was he doing there?) Check this site out, but make sure the boss doesn't catch you. It's addictive. --Drew Olson
"Slumdog Millionaire" -- This pick isn't exactly ahead of the curve, but I highly recommend that you go see "Slumdog Millionaire." I intentionally have ignored reviews and summaries of the much-buzzed flick. But, it got harder to ignore friends saying that it was "one of the best movies they've ever seen." Truth told, it's the only movie I've seen in a theater in the past year and it was well worth $9.50 ticket price. It's visually stunning and the story has a ton of grit, guts and love. See it now. --J.S.
A game of shuffleboard at Champion's Pub -- Inconspicuously located at 2417 N. Bartlett Ave., Champion's is the kind of place that inspires mixed feelings. The vibe is low-key, friendly and so much fun that you feel compelled to tell your friends about it. At the same time, though, you want to keep it from getting "too popular" and keep it as a secret hideaway. If you've never been inside, make it a point to do so and check out the refurbished shuffleboard table. It's a great way to keep the conversation -- and the good vibes -- flowing. --D.O.
Double punches at Stone Creek Coffee -- Who doesn't love the double coffee card punch? For my morning cup, I make it a point to stop at many different coffee providers throughout the week, but I must say that I'm influenced by the lure of the double punch. So, this month is great since all Stone Creek Coffee locations are giving two punches on your coffee card with every coffee or tea purchase. --J.S.
Chico Hamilton Trio's "Live @ Artpark" (Joyous Shout!) -- The latest from jazz drummer Hamilton -- recorded on his own label in 1994 -- is a quirky affair with electric guitar by Cary deNigris and electric bass Matthew Garrison. At times funky, at times almost indie rock-influenced and sometimes insufferably noodly, the eight tunes here challenge what we think of as jazz. "Ain't Nobody Calling Me" is part "Fat Albert" theme song and part fusion diddling; "A Little After Twelve" starts with a lovely, moody section. But regardless of what he's playing Hamilton is the star here and despite the fact that he obviously feeds off their energy, I find myself cursing the fact that there are sidemen at all. Hearing Hamilton's musical explorations and inventiveness on their own would be more satisfying. The same cannot be said for "Dreams Come True," a 1993 duet with late pianist Andrew Hill, also released on Joyous Shout. Hamilton and Hill speak the same language and the eight tunes make for just about the best hour of jazz this writer has heard in a long time. Because neither of these master musicians appeared inhibited in any way, this musical conversation is engaging, soulful, witty. Extremely recommended. --B.T.