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Like that vacation you take every fall to San Juan – or the water park at the Dells. It’s us again. Like that recipe for chocolate cake you make each year for so-and-so’s birthday. Like winter and orange traffic cones. Yup, old reliable is back with another – our 24th – all-fresh, all-fun “Best Of […]

Like that vacation you take every fall to San Juan – or the water park at the Dells. It’s us again. Like that recipe for chocolate cake you make each year for so-and-so’s birthday. Like winter and orange traffic cones. Yup, old reliable is back with another – our 24th – all-fresh, all-fun “Best Of Milwaukee.” Who can make your dog look like Zsa Zsa Gabor? Where’s a great place to smooch your honey? What looks but doesn’t taste like a typical pizza? These and many more questions, weird and wonderful, will be answered in due time. Now remember, we may come every year, but we’re never predictable.

Edited by Ann Christenson photographed by Kevin J. Miyazaki

With Dawn Behr, Mindy Benham, Kurt Chandler, Natalie Dorman, Elizabeth Geldermann, Maryalice Koehne, Charlene Mills, Kevin J. Miyazaki, Sharon K. Nelson, Mary Van de Kamp Nohl, Mario Quadracci, Peter Robertson and Stacie Williams

 

Ladies’ Night

The buzz on the street is that the East Side’s Mantra Lounge (1905 E. North Ave.) is where all the fly ladies gather on Thursdays for some house, hip-hop and spiritual energy. This sleek lounge, located underneath Beans and Barley, is steeped in the principles of yoga. Girlfriends can vibe on plush red couches and sip their free Stoli drinks (three per person) in one of the four Chakra areas or they can shake it on the sunken dance floor, where the DJ in the lotus flower booth may play Jay-Z’s version of the ­Indian hit, “Mun-dian to Bach ke” (“Beware of the Boys”) by Panjabi MC.

 

Beef Jerky

Vientiane Noodle Shop will make a jerky eater out of you yet (3422 W. National Ave.). The restaurant’s Laotian jerky isn’t like the thin, shriveled stuff bagged in the supermarket snack aisle. The pieces of dried, deep-fried meat are thicker and moister (though chewy, the tell-tale sign of jerky) and completely captivating. Order them as an appetizer, $5.

Alternative to Nakedness

If window treatment shopping in aisle 95 of the über hardware store has you feeling lost, head straight to The Shade Shop (9034 W. National Ave.). In the tiny 1926 building (with technically no aisles), you won’t find 4-by-8 sheets of plywood. You will find everything from tassled shade pulls for grandma’s house to remote control wood blinds for your sleek riverfront condo. Along with padded cornices and vertical blinds comes the ­personal attention of the Fritsch family, who makes and repairs roller shades in the back room. If they don’t have it, they’ll find it, but you may have to move the ­family cat, Jasper, who makes her home on the stacks of design catalogs.

 

Use of Fake Poop

Most freeway billboards deserve even less than the split second you have to look at them. The Milwaukee County Zoo’s latest prompted double-takes and exclamations of “Eeewww!” Looming over various freeway locations around town this summer, the 3-D, pterodactyl-size white glops appeared to be slowly dripping down the mega-sign. “The Birds Must Be Close” was part of a ­multipronged ad campaign created by Sprecher Bertalot & Company. It sticks in your mind but luckily not to your windshield.

Victory for Squash

The sliced, pan-fried squash is to stomach what coconut milk is to curry: essential. Forks pick around the peapods, onions and chunks of chicken to spear one last piece of squash in EE-Sane’s sensational spicy squash curry ($7.95; 1806 N. Farwell Ave.).

Hospital Gift Shop

You don’t have to be ailing or visiting a sick friend to stop in at Oconomowoc Memorial’s The Gift Box (791 Summit Ave.). Volunteers help management with the purchasing, and they’ve got an eye for appealing merchandise, pleasantly arranged, along with friendly service and free gift-wrapping. Among their finds are reasonably priced women’s clothing, jewelry, baby items and giftware, such as a 10-inch beaded glass vase for $8 and blue and white English china mugs tucked into matching miniature hat boxes for $14.50.

Model Train Trove

Their products may be tiny, but their scope is anything but small scale. Since 1932, family-owned William K. Walthers Inc. has produced its own line of trains and accessories but also plays distributor for hundreds of other manufacturers, supplying 2,000 hobby shops from Hong Kong to Hartford. Internet sales abound (www.walthers.com), but area aficionados love its Terminal Hobby Shop (connected to the company’s warehouse, 5619 W. Florist Ave.), a mecca of miniatures, with some 80,000 items in stock.

 

Holiday Tonic

You’ll find 35 kinds of poinsettias at The Flower Source (W156 N11124 Pilgrim Rd., Germantown): curly-leaved varieties, multicolored plants and new and unusual hues. Visit in spring, when the fabulous garden center opens, and you’ll find landscape exotics like the Whipper Snapper Tree. Warning to gardening enthusiasts: This place is like heroin to an addict.

 

Ad hoc Fashion Consultant

Diane Djukic owns Divna’s (1300 Capitol Dr., Pewaukee), a boutique that proves you don’t have to be Calista Flockhart thin to be stylish. That’s where you’ll find Djukic advising clients sized 12 and up about what ­really makes them look good and what doesn’t – even when it costs her a sale. Putting clients first in this way is so rare today.

 

Downward Slide

Villa Terrace’s eight-passenger tram sounds like it could be out of place, but this bit of Euro modernity is surprisingly fitting, even set against the 16th century-style Italian villa and hillside gardens (2220 N. Terrace Ave.). Begin your descent seated in the self-operational car, large enough for a wheelchair (though the gravel pathways at the bottom may be less accommodating). It inches its way down the steep, 55-foot incline slowly enough for you to absorb the environs, free from watching your step down the wooden stairway. Explore the gardens, then ascend by stairs if you dare; by car in style or by necessity.

 

Wham-bam Pizza

Put goat cheese, prosciutto and fig compote together on a chewy, medium-thin crust and you’ve got one wide-eyed pie. Mia Famiglia’s (10049 W. Forest Home Ave.) sweet-salty pizza has a nifty balance of flavor ($12.95).

Way to Save a Nasty Old Chair

When upholsterer Dan Church started his business 31 years ago, many tradesmen made a career doing high-quality reupholstery. But today they’re gone and Church Bros. Upholstery (12480 W. Beloit Rd., New Berlin) remains the ultimate old-fashioned craftsman, bringing new life to the sturdier furniture frames of decades past. Perfectly matched patterns, rebuilt springs, traditional welting and retouched wood trim are standard procedure for the upholsterer and his ace seamstress, Barb Miller, who get a hearty thumbs up from fabric merchants like Calico Corners, too.

 

Deal on Wheels

On Thursday evenings during the school year, a mere $3 gets you admission and skate rental at Skateland in Waukesha (1931 E. Main St.; www.skate-land.com). The hardwood oval is usually dotted with families these nights, so you don’t have to ­worry about macho 16-year-old boys whizzing by showing off for the young ladies. An instructor is likely to keep an eye out for the rusty or just plain clumsy, offering pointers at no extra charge.

Four-string Strummer

No, there aren’t a lot of ukulele players in this town. And yes, his latest CD sounds like it was recorded in a public restroom. But Lil’ Rev is an original, a musical archivist of good-time music. With a band, with a partner or playing solo on his uke, Lil’ Rev taps the traditional, playing chestnuts that many of us first learned from our grandparents. From Gus Edwards’ “Silvery Moon” to Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies,” Rev draws on blues, ragtime and minstrel tunes and also writes his own, crooning everyday tales in an everyday voice. Look him up at the beer hall or dial him up at www.lilrev.com.

 

Mini Vroom

Two blocks south of 124th and Capitol, an unassuming converted warehouse is whirring with activity. Remote control cars are the focus. Guys – it’s almost all guys – of all ages pay $6 to practice running their cars around either the carpeted or dirt track. Some pay a little more to come back for organized races a few times a week (no charge to just pop in). Work stations are provided for recharging or fixing up after a guardrail run-in. The shop in front sells cars for getting started ($175-$400 and up) and add-ons for once the hobby becomes addictive. S&N’s Trackside Hobbies (3635 N. 124th St., Brookfield; www.trackside.com).

One-buck Store

At Always 99 Cents (3333 S. 27th St. and 3600 S. Moorland Blvd., New Berlin), we recently found 4-ounce Ghiradelli dark-chocolate baking bars ($2.85 elsewhere) and rolls of Reynold’s parchment paper for baking ($4 elsewhere). Great deals, but you never know what they’ll have. Items change constantly, but generally, we think this place excels with its brand-name food items, cleaning supplies and health and beauty aids. Other local dollar stores received high marks in these areas: ­Dollar Treasures (1537 East Moreland Blvd., Waukesha): candles; Dollar Tree Store (11 locations): cosmetics, books and children’s games and books; Dollar Discount (6550 S. Lovers Lane Rd., Franklin): party supplies, holiday decor and lawn and garden supplies.

 

Garden Guardian

Watch out, you stinkin’ aphids! Next summer, take back your garden from unruly tyrants. Buy a praying mantis egg sack (May to early July) and put it in a glass jar or paper bag. In three to four weeks’ time, voilà – 100 to 200 hatchlings will emerge and immediately begin looking for prey. ­Voracious eaters, they will consume many of your unwanted garden guests. Aphids are a fave. The ­mantises can grow to 3 or 4 inches long by summer’s end. Find them at Sandy Bottom Nature Center (4607 Vettleson Rd., Hartland) and ­Piala’s Nursery & Garden Shop (S39 W27833 Highway 59, Waukesha). M

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Erogenous Zones

In a city on a lake, the most romantic make-out spots have got to be near the water. Waves lapping at the shore, the moon and the stars above.… Like everything else, though, it’s location, location, location. So if ­privacy is of utmost concern (and a backseat tumble is your utmost aim), park your car along South Shore Drive (shown here), a low-traffic cul-de-sac just two blocks long. High atop the lake bluffs in Bay View, the sights of the Downtown lights can be, well, ­rousing.

For a little action under the stars, Lake Park has dozens of sheltering trees and bushes, particularly near North Point Lighthouse. Like on any Fourth of July, spread out a blanket and wait for the fireworks to begin.

For the exhibitionist in some of us, the park benches at the crest of Lafayette Hill are a great place to be seen by all.

If you’re just not up for all of the risks – muggers, cops and voyeurs – get a room.

 

Dog Whisperer

When we discovered Lisa’s Grooming Salon (128 N. Main St., Oconomowoc), our “dog critics” started dragging us to the groomer. After 17 years in the business, Lisa Oestreich’s philosophy is simple: “You can talk to a dog in a low tone of voice and get a better response than if you yell at him.… Before you know it, that ear is done and we never even had an argument about it.” Dogs obviously respond to her salon’s TLC, and they don’t seem to mind the French cologne. If they could talk, they’d rave about the computerized dryers that circulate fresh air, ­simulating that head-out-the-car-window experience dogs love.

 

Asphalt Jungle

Poblocki Paving Corp. (525 S. 116th St., West Allis) is famous for its clever slogans (“We encourage people to look down on our work”), and its name is nearly synonymous with asphalt paving. But we discovered another impressive talent: the exclusive, patented method they use for molding and coloring asphalt to look like brick and stone masonry costing five times more. You can walk all over them (or rather, their faux ­masonry) at the Milwaukee ­County Zoo and University School. In our own three-year test, their brick-textured asphalt stood up well to Wisconsin’s winters.

 

Record Shop

As time goes by, finding original pressings keeps getting harder. But right here in Milwaukee, gem after gem of 7-inch singles, 45s and LPs can still be found at Musical Memories (833 E. Kilbourn Ave.). The store that seems in imminent danger of a vinyl avalanche offers a locally unique musical treasure-hunting experience in just about every imaginable genre.

 

Milwaukee Buzz

Milwaukee has free public Wi-Fi! What does that mean? If your laptop or hand-held computer is equipped with a $40-$70 Wi-Fi card (it may even have one built in), you can sit in Cathedral Square or Pere Marquette Park and surf the Web at no charge, thanks to the city (and a few sponsors). Heck, you can even pull your car into a parking spot near one of the aforementioned parks and check your e-mail on the go. How it works: Your operating system may announce you’re in the presence of a Wi-Fi network or you can run a scanning program to tap into the signal. All you do is agree to a few terms of use and you’re in (for step-by-step instructions, check www.milwaukee.gov before leaving home). The best part is the chatter in news groups and Web logs all over the Internet essentially saying, “Look what Milwaukee has. So ­progressive. When’s our town gonna get it?” How often does that happen?

 

Sidecar

Our motley tasting panel was unanimous on the superior source of this old-fashioned cocktail: Bjonda ($10; 7754 Harwood Ave., Wauwatosa). The sugar-rimmed frosty martini glass is filled with an ice-shaken mix of quality OJ, lime juice, Metaxa brandy and Cointreau garnished with a dried blood orange slice. Ask for Chris – he’ll set you up right.

 

Strudel

Would you look at that strudel! Aggie’s Bakery’s strudel, sold whole for all of $5.95, is the work of a great dough (1800 E. Howard Ave.). Thousands, seemingly millions of sheathy layers wrap delicately around the thick, syrupy cherry or apple filling (other flavors by request). But the filling is really secondary. You could just throw some raisins into the buttery, flaky crust and call it a day. Stop at one wedge? Cruel, torturous words!

 

Indie Rock Club

In dark, shoddy places like Milwaukee’s Cactus Club (2496 S. Wentworth Ave.), musicians are fighting the good fight against an oppressive empire of Justin Timberlakes. The club, which feels like a residential basement, features up to three local, national and international indie-rock bands per night, seven days a week, in a variety of styles. The quality of the music is often absolutely astonishing. Vive la résistance!

 

Milwaukee’s Most Wanted

Local cops lay their badges on the line to rate (what else?) doughnuts.

Our Bill of Rights guarantees certain freedoms – freedoms not extended to the modern doughnut. All doughnuts are not created equal, and no one knows this better than a police officer. The ground we tread daily is a doughnut’s world. The fried pastry is everywhere. Just as we trust our local law enforcement to rid our city of crime, we should trust them to at least identify the bad doughnuts from the good (yes, it’s that black and white).

We brought in eight suspects (raised and glazed across the board) for a blind, in-office line-up. Our tasting tested the moxie of our local mom-and-pop bakeries, but to stir things up, we threw in the king of hype, Krispy Kreme. Our judges: Tosa chief Barry Weber, South Milwaukee chief Tim Talaska, City of Milwaukee cop Dwayne McKay, Cudahy cop Gary Kuchenreuther and, last but not least, the notorious canine crime sleuth McGruff. The end was a bad crime scene – doughnut parts and glaze everywhere – but our judges had no trouble finding a winner.

  1. Krispy Kreme (two locations): Groan. We know. But three of five judges rated KK a 5 on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being best); the remaining two gave it a 3 and 4. “The flavor is so light, you feel like you’re eating some expensive pastry rather than just a doughnut,” wrote one.
  2. Heinrich’s Home Bakery (9124 W. North Ave.): “Sort of like a cruller,” said one judge, who starred it as his favorite. The flavor was “like the old-fashioned doughnut I remember from years ago,” said another.
  3. Falls House of Cakes (N88 W15423 Main St., Men-omonee Falls): Soft and moist, everyone agreed, but “doughy.”
  4. Bay Bakery (423 E. Silver Spring Dr.): One called the flavor “spicy,” another “fruity.” Also “greasy,” two judges conceded.
  5. Cranky Al’s (6913 W. North Ave.): “Dry,” “chewy” – both were mentioned, though one judge dug the flavor.
  6. Canfora Bakery (1100 E. Oklahoma Ave.): “Bites like a sponge” was one complaint. Also: “very dry.”
  7. (tie): National Bakery (two locations) and The Donut Shoppe (404 W. Main St., Waukesha): National’s was downed for being “tough”; the Donut Shoppe’s for its “blah” ­flavor. But one judge mentioned that the flavor might suit a coffee drinker who’s searching for a less-sweet pastry.

– Ann Christenson

 

Weather Team

We watched the 10 p.m. weather forecast on channels 4, 6, 12 and 58 for seven straight nights this summer and devised a scoring system based on the accuracy of the predictions for the next day’s weather. Starting at 100, we deducted one point for each inaccurate forecast of rain. The stations’ “teams” also lost points for each degree off the day’s high temperature, all as declared later by the National Weather Service. We deducted extra points for inexplicably naming several high temps in one broadcast (Paul Joseph lost points on two separate days for Channel 4 by predicting three different temperatures in one four-minute report – e.g. 73, 74 and 77 – without attributing the differences to a part of town or time of day). Bonus points were awarded for telling it straight about cloudy vs. sunny skies. The winner by a single raindrop, with 84 points (that’s a B on a college scale), is the Channel 12 team. Mark Baden (of “Mark said it would be like this” fame) led the team, with Lance Hill also contributing. Channel 12’s broadcast report is nicely ­supplemented by its Web site (milwaukeechannel.com/weather), which has an allergy forecast with charts on tree, grass and weed levels, plus up-to-the-minute storm warnings.

 

Green Soup

The last remnants of summer in a bowl: Trocadero’s chunky green gazpacho ($4.50; 1758 N. Water St.). The secret to this compatible union is, well, all green: cucumber, grapes, avocado and fresh mint. Like the colors you’ve grown used to seeing outdoors for the last few months, this green is fleeting. Get your bowl before it goes into winter hibernation.

 

Cream City Drink

The straw stands straight and proud in Strange Brew Cafe’s milkshakes (a.k.a. the MIAD coffeehouse, 143 N. Broadway). The staff makes them with four to seven scoops of quality ice cream. Then they add a secret ingredient that manager Jason Krukowski discovered in an Elvis Presley cookbook. Oh yeah, the icy treats are “very low cal,” Krukowski fibs with an evil laugh. Ten flavors, two sizes; $2.25-$3.

 

Walk in a Park

Even if you’re not a tree hugger, you’ll enjoy discovering Lake Park’s 10 Champion Big Trees and identifying others as you hike with a guided tour or on your own. This spring, the Lake Park Friends completed an informative brochure with three self-guided loops that wind through trails in the Park inspired by Frederick Law Olmsted’s 1893 Planting Plan. The brochure includes a map, a leaf identification guide and fine descriptions of many trees growing there. Some date back before 1835, when American Indians inhabited the area; others, ranging from 110 to 165 years old, were probably planted by early European settlers. Others date from the inception of Lake Park, when more trees were added from 1890 to 1920. To learn when guided tours will be offered this fall or to purchase a $4.50 brochure by mail, call 962-1680.

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Word Play

  • Cleverest name for a coffee shop: Mrs. Sippy’s Coffee (15136 W. National Avenue, New Berlin).
  • Corniest names for beauty salons: Hair I Am (217 Wisconsin Ave., Waukesha), I’m Hair for You (2985 N. Brookfield Rd.), Hair’s Lookin’ at You (6318 W. Forest Home Ave.) and Hairoglyphics (1404 12th Ave., Grafton).
  • Oddest names for a TV reporter: Yanick Dalhouse at Fox 6 and Yamilet Virgin with CBS-58 (a sure conversation starter).
  • Most unfortunate birth name? Vince Lombardo, in Marquette University’s physician assistant studies program. What were his parents thinking?

 

Sky Garden

With three usable spaces on the roof – a conservatory area, garden and arbor terrace – Garden Room’s rooftop garden (2107 E. Capitol Dr.) received one of six international awards at the First Annual Green Roof Infrastructure Conference held in Chicago this May. Popular in Europe for 30 years, ecology-friendly roof gardens are just catching on here. Besides being aesthetically pleasing and providing green spaces in urban areas, roof gardens absorb storm-water runoff, insulate buildings, reduce heating/air-conditioning bills and mute outside sounds. Designed by Buettner & Associates Inc., this is also the first in the area that’s accessible to the public.

 

Dubious Honors: Not-so-proud media moments.

Kiss-and-tell  Reporting

WISN-Channel 12 reporter Colleen Henry swings a Louisville Slugger at journalism ethics by interviewing her boyfriend – attorney Steve Kohn – and his client for a crime story. Strike one. WISN News Director Barb Maushard knows about the kiss-and-tell interview and airs it anyway. Strike two. WISN blocks media access to Henry after her interview sparks a major-league controversy. Maushard: “Our position at the station is we’re not going to have our reporters talking to the media.” Strike three and ethics are out at WISN.

 

In-your-face Debut

Nationally syndicated morning radio hosts “Bob & Tom” debuted in Milwaukee just as ­local WLZR hosts “Bob & Brian” saw their own syndication network collapse. These guys have been rivals ever since Bob Madden and Brian Nelson tried to syndicate their Milwaukee show in some Wisconsin markets where Bob Kevoian and Tom Griswold already had syndication deals. By March, Bob and Brian had been dropped by their only two network affiliates (Wausau and Appleton). When did Bob and Tom invade Milwaukee on WLUM-FM (102.1), a direct competitor of Bob and Brian’s WLZR? That’s right – March.

 In-your-face Revenge

WLZR’s “Bob & Brian” trounced WLUM’s “Bob & Tom” in the first Arbitron ratings since the rivals went head to head here. In radio, revenge is indeed best served cold with hard ratings numbers. Or, as Bob and Brian might put it, take that, ya freakin’ carpetbaggers! Oh yeah, Bob and Brian revived their network to boot, now challenging Bob and Tom in the highly coveted Madison market. Get ready to rumble!

Metal Mouth

Hard-rocking WLZR-FM’s new DJ Sean Fisher (a.k.a. “Fish”) is a right-wing pundit trapped in the body of a heavy-metal shock jock. An Iowa radio station once fired Fish after he dropped the F-bomb on stage at a ­Foreigner concert, according to WLZR’s Web site. Yep, shock jock. But pundit? Asked for his favorite actors, Fisher says: “Bill and Hillary Clinton.”

Way to Look  Silly, Literally

WITI-Channel 6 meteorologist Vince Condella gambles away his credibility on moronic stunts like this summer’s facial hair survey. He actually asked ­viewers to vote on which type of facial hair he should grow (muttonchops, Fu Manchu, goatee, beard) for his motorcycle ride from Louisiana to Milwaukee during Harley-Davidson’s anniversary celebration. The goateed Vince won. Sadly, a rumored appearance by all four Vinces to stage a Village People tribute was scuttled over charges of vote tampering.

Double Standard

Black columnist Eugene Kane can’t stop bellyaching about black Sheriff David Clarke’s use of predominantly white WTMJ-AM (620) to communicate with the public. Yet last time we checked, Kane writes for the predominantly white Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, owned by the same predominantly white company that owns WTMJ-AM. Have you heard the one about the pot calling the kettle white?

Buttery Bite

The shortbread cookies from Hartland’s Most Fantastic Foods Inc. (www.tmff. com) are chunky, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth wafers of pure pleasure. Get plain, pecan or decadent chocolate-dipped (Christmas only) varieties at V. Richards, Sendik’s in Brookfield, Grasch Foods and ­Elegant Farmer. But be careful – too many of these sinful treats will make your cholesterol skyrocket! Gift boxes, tins available (800-939-5042).

Tattoo Artist

While getting your newfound squeeze’s name permanently inked on your buttocks may seem like something that just can’t wait, you’d be wise to hold off a couple of weeks to get an appointment with self-taught Dan Hazelton of Sacred Skin (9509 W. Greenfield Ave.; http://tattoosbydan.virtualave.net/). Besides appearing on countless body parts, Hazelton’s work has been featured in major tattoo magazines. While he specializes in original pieces that are, as he says, “straight out of a crazy acid trip,” he is capable of more traditional portrait, ­tribal or wildlife designs.

Box of Nostalgia

Candy is swell. Candy is groovy. Candy is dy-no-mite. The ’50s, ’60s and ’70s are represented in “Decades” candy boxes at Debbie’s Sweets ’n Treats (8619 S. Howell Ave., Oak Creek; www. nostalgiccandy.com). Baby boomers will remember wax lips, BB-Bats and licorice pipes; children of the ’60s get Pixy Stix, Chuckles and candy necklaces; and Gen Xers will delight in Pop Rocks, Fun Dip and Zotz (each box has dozens more, and there’s some crossover, of course). The ’50s ­boxes are wrapped in actual LIFE magazine pages from that decade, while the ’60s and ’70s are handled with appropriate smiley face and disco themes. Boxes: $16-$34.

The season, the reason …For making the most of fall.

Spooky Corn Maze

Most mazes cater to parents with young children (10 and under), but there is one that turns wicked when the full moon rises. Stacey Farms, about 25 minutes southwest of Milwaukee, ratchets up the scare factor with its six-acre special ($3.50-$9; N8750 Thiede Rd., East Troy; www. staceyfarms.com). We won’t spill all the beans, but here are a few cautionary tips: Don’t stand near the rear of any truck parked out there, keep your eyes on the sky because you never know what’ll fall out of it and take those checkpoint signs with a grain of salt – maze master Rick Stacey says they’re designed to “goof people up more.”

View to a Costume

The Halloween Walker’s Point pub crawl (October 31) attracts all divas, drag or not, to strut from Triangle to Switch to Fluid and then to La Cage for their final judgment (National Avenue east to Second Street). Expect The Oscar or Diana Ross to appear, as they did last time. Drink specials and special drinks await all souls, and several $1,000 cash prizes go to the best dressed. With La Cage’s reputation for ­female impersonators and gay glamness, this party could be the best show they put on all year. The final judging is supposed to take place at midnight, but as a ­manager at Switch advises, “It runs on drag time,” which could be as much as an hour later.

Orange Thumb

Dave Creuziger is a man among giant pumpkins. In 2001, Creuziger captured the state record with a gargantuan gourd that tipped the scale at 9081⁄2 pounds, and he intends to win again this year. His farming method includes special seed, regular feedings of aged manure and plenty of growing room (each plant is set 40 feet apart). His efforts show. During hot spells, these gluttons can gain 30 pounds a day. At maturity, the shells are 7 to 10 inches thick and it takes a carver a full day to ream out and decorate one. ­Visit Creuziger’s roadside stand in mid-October and you’ll see his 2003 contest entry (Highway 11, Sturtevant, 262-886-6690). Creuziger sells plenty of medium-weights (200-plus pounds) that run about 20 cents a pound, and he’ll use a gunnysack to drag them to your van.

Cemetery Walk

Nothing is more invigorating than a nice brisk fall walk – but a nice brisk fall walk through the bone orchard can make you feel really, um, alive. ­Wisconsin Memorial Park (13235 W. Capitol Dr.) encompasses 160 acres of beautifully maintained land that’s perfect for an afternoon of fresh air, serenity and ­finally getting on top of things. Take it easy though – too much walking around the cemetery’s pond or sporadically wooded grounds can leave you a little, shall we say, stiff.

Mojo Enhancer

Got a personal problem to fix? Try turning to an authentic Haitian prosperity doll. Mojomagic.com (3473 N. Oakland Ave.) offers a handmade line called Mama Desti’s, named after an early 20th century mistress of the craft. Buy one of the faceless fabric dolls ($11.95-$95), stuff it with ­recommended herbs and charms, do a little chant and the invoked gods will supposedly help you get a grip on money, health and all-purpose good luck. The shop ­owner has a few in the store, with an even wider selection on the Web site, which is, naturally, Mojo magic.com.

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