Stories for December 2005


Friday, December 30

Is Popeye ready for TV in the 21st century?

On the year's penultimate evening, Fox deviates from its lineup to broadcast three cartoons and a sitcom, including the 2004 computer-generated "Popeye's Voyage: The Search for Pappy" (8:30 p.m., Fox, TV-PG).

The top films of the year

"The sky is falling." Not only was that a tagline from this year's animated hit "Chicken Little," it also was Hollywood's mantra after experiencing a 19-week box-office slump during the summer.

Arts and entertainment calendar

Coming events

Wednesday, December 28

Nonsense takes center stage as city honors art movement

Mayor proclaims International Dadaism Month during meeting Tuesday

For once, there can be no argument that nonsense was coming out of the Lawrence City Commission chambers.

Tuesday, December 27

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Gamer's Voice Awards 2005: Winners announced

Did your pick get Game of the Year?

Games receive five points for a first place vote, three for a second place vote and one for a third place vote. Since there were ten gamers on the panel, one game could score a maximum of 50 nomination points if it received all first place votes in a category. Without further ado, here are your 2005 Gamer's Voice Award winners...

Last Call owner questions presence of police dog

Steffes, law enforcement talk about security issues

For three Saturday nights in a row this summer, the county's police dog, Gero, stood guard on the curb outside Last Call, 729 N.H., according to club owner Dennis Steffes.

Sunday, December 25

'Rumor Has It' falls short of classic

There are a couple of classic caveats about Hollywood: Never put your own money into a movie and avoid working with animals or children. Here's another: Do not draw comparisons between your run-of-the-mill movie and a great one.

Poet's Showcase

Liberal, KS - By Jesse Nathan

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'The Producers' works overtime to be outrageous

Zaniness is tough to capture on film. What comes across as outrageous in live theater can seem forced when confined within a camera lens.

'Right Between the Ears' starting radio series

"Right Between the Ears," the award-winning comedy show, will launch a weekly radio series on several fronts this month.

Signing off...

With his final show airing today, longtime radio host Calder Pickett reminisces about 'The American Past'

Calder Pickett never had trouble coming up with ideas for his radio show, "The American Past." He had enough topics to fill 1,500 shows over 32 years on the station now known as Kansas Public Radio. He still has enough ideas listed to last him another year, maybe two.

Friday, December 23

'Good Night' a dramatic retelling of journalistic war

It may be hard to believe, but TV journalists were once considered the good guys. But then again, they used to chain-smoke during broadcasts in the 1950s.

Inside a secret world

'Memoirs of a Geisha' transports viewers, but destination lacks depth and emotion

When she's still a little girl, washing clothes and running errands as a servant for the glamorous women of a Kyoto geisha house, the plucky heroine of "Memoirs of a Geisha" gets an important bit of advice: "If she's not properly dressed," her hard-driving boss tells her, "she is not a true geisha."

The right touch

Massage therapy proves to be rock-solid trend

Lawrence massage therapist Kristii Adrian does not get starstruck very easily. But when it came time to give a rubdown to folk singer Arlo Guthrie, she was in awe.

Thursday, December 22

A pleasant deviation from the traditional fare

Tired of hearing "Jingle Bells" on the radio every five minutes? Wishing there were only two instead of 12 "Days of Christmas"?

Photography sought for Hays exhibit

The Hays Arts Council is accepting entries for the 22nd annual Five State Photography Competition and Exhibition.

Wednesday, December 21

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Gamer's Voice Awards 2005: Nominations announced

What console games are the best of the year?

Resident Evil 4 and Shadow of the Colossus lead the way with five nominations each followed by Call of Duty 2, God of War, Mario Kart DS and Project Gotham Racing 3 with with four.

Lawrence pinpointed as center of Google Earth

City's prominent location on map 'intentional'

Finally, there's proof that Lawrence is the center of everything.

See 'Dick and Jane' have fun ... just not enough fun

See Dick. See Jane. See Billy, their little boy. See Spot, their family dog. See their Beemers and their two-story Cape Cod.

Tuesday, December 20

Inspections find food code violations

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has taken action against five area restaurants, including three in Lawrence, for state food code violations. Businesses can appeal the fines.

Retiree claims privacy invasion

'Border Protection' opened letter to KU professor

A retired Kansas University professor says the federal government has been poking into the mail he receives from abroad.

Monday, December 19

A club without limits: Student group tries a bit of everything

Kansas University is home to student clubs for everything from chess and hip-hop to trumpets and tae kwon do.

Sunday, December 18

A Festivus for the rest of us

KU alumna, others embrace 'Seinfeld'-inspired holiday

Chances are your holiday traditions have nothing to do with gathering around an aluminum pole, telling your family and friends what you like least about them and then wrestling them to the floor.

Saturday, December 17

Band a high note for seniors

Hard work, fun found at practices

John Towner waved his conductor's baton and arms fluidly on Friday while his concert band played an overture from the opera "Carmen."

Friday, December 16

'Geisha' a big-budget soap opera

Exotic locations and vibrant colors mask what is essentially a Japanese soap opera voiced in English in director Rob Marshall's Oscar hopeful "Memoirs of a Geisha."

'Family Stone' functions well amid dysfunction

We need a little Christmas. Right this very minute. And we don't need the Fockers or Tim Allen to take us to that funny, familiar, emotional movie Christmas that we've wanted from Hollywood ever since "It's a Wonderful Life" introduced an angel named Clarence.

Cinema for the season

New movies prepare to decorate theaters during the holidays

There are plenty of traditions that personify Christmas Day. Stockings hung over the fireplace. Presents unwrapped under the tree. Bing Crosby crooning on the stereo. Chestnuts roasting. Marshmallows toasting. Figgy pudding being eaten or soaked in or whatever.

Thursday, December 15

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Review: Tony Hawk's American Sk8land - DS

More fun than the console versions

American Wasteland featured a seamless LA with no load times, but it was also crammed with unnecessary on-foot controls and some odd jumping moves. With American Sk8land, however, the series seems to take a step back towards its roots. This DS title features a heavy emphasis on skateboarding not seen since Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3.

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Review: Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones - PS2, Xbox

Does the final edition redeem the series?

Prince of Persia is a highly entertaining trilogy and ends on a great note with The Two Thrones. You can tell Ubisoft wanted a fusion between Sands of Time and Warriors Within and this is exactly what they got. The boss battles are innovative and the new addition of Speed Kills keeps the platforming action continuous. Kudos Ubisoft, you have done well.

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'Cue the Bedlam'

Former Paw singer returns to stage with poems that 'embody anxiety and suffering, humor and redemption'

Mark Hennessy knows a thing or two about touring. In the early 1990s, his band Paw was Lawrence's most promising act. The quartet's label, A&M Records, dispatched the group to various exotic locations, ranging from France to New Zealand to Singapore. The singer is back on the road after a long hiatus away from the microphone. But for the first time ever, Hennessy finds himself on a book tour where he is reading selections from his debut collection of poetry, "Cue the Bedlam."

Wednesday, December 14

'Kong' proves king of remakes

I recently framed a New Yorker cartoon from the 1930s that shows an irate King Kong barging into an office with a paper in his hand and confronting a man cowering behind his desk. The caption reads: "Are you the motion-picture reviewer of this newspaper?" It's doubtful Kong will have to worry that critics won't like the new version of his tale.

Tuesday, December 13

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Review: Animal Crossing: Wild World - DS

Crossing around the Wi-Fi world

For those familiar with Animal Crossing on the Gamecube, you know that it is the absolute epitome of a "love it or hate it" game; some don't necessarily "get" what's fun about it. If you're unfamiliar with the concept, Animal Crossing is essentiallly a virtual town simulator inhabited by various animals. When you play for the first time, you'll move into your home and start getting acquainted with all of them.

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Review: American Chopper 2: Full Throttle - PS2

Game of the, wait...

I recommend this game to no one, regardless of your interests, knowledge of the show, or whether or not you've ever enjoyed a racing game. At no point does American Chopper 2: Full Throttle resemble anything remotely close to "fun." Under no circumstances should you ever play this game.

Tonganoxie brimming with hometown pride

Bichelmeyer's Steakhouse in Tonganoxie resembled the host for an NCAA Final Four party, with Kansas University as one of the teams vying for the title.

Monday, December 12

Re-do: '50s Glam Bob

Suzi McKinney and Babette Crowder makeover Lauren

Won't Be Blue No More

Harmonica master Jimmie Meade of Levee Town discusses life, choices and why he loves the blues

"Every day you wake up is a great day - even if it's a bad day." Such is the wisdom of harmonica ace Jimmie Meade. The 25-year-old "mouth organ" master has been to hell and back after enduring a near-fatal car accident two years ago that cost him a leg. The circumstances of the crash - drunk driving - are something he talks about candidly in hopes of atoning for his bad judgment. Now fully recovered and walking with a prosthetic, Meade gigs full-time with KC blues/rock quartet Levee Town and teaches at Lawrence's Americana Music Academy.

Special Holiday Volunteer Guide

"A good conscience is a continual Christmas" - Benjamin Franklin

Back in the days when he was raising three children by himself, Greg Likes was no stranger to adopt-a-family programs around Christmas time.

Homemade for the holidays

It's the thought that counts

The homemade gift is personal, from the heart, fun to make and to give. We've heard all that. But there are plenty of other reasons to buy a glue gun this holiday season. Among them: cluttered junk drawers, mass consumerism and the cost of natural gas.

Style Scout: Becka Lafferty and Kenny Arnold

Becka Lafferty and Kenny Arnold

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Wake of the flood

New Orleans band relocates to Lawrence after their home is destroyed by Hurricane Katrina

It took a Category 4 hurricane to convince Mike West to buy a cell phone. The songwriter did without one touring the country dozens of times over with his band Truckstop Honeymoon. Nor did he need one to raise two kids.

Sole Survivor

Tonganoxie's Danni Boatwright wins $1 million prize

In what is being regarded as the most physically oppressive of the CBS reality program's 11 seasons, Tonganoxie resident Danni Boatwright bested 18 competitors while battling 115 degree temperatures, starvation, mosquito swarms and scorpions in the jungles of Guatemala.

Lenses of Lawrence

A lot of photographers call Lawrence home. About 60 of them are members of the Lawrence Photo Alliance.

Sunday, December 11

Holiday tradition will continue to glow brightly

Family gathers to ensure Maxine Lee's lighting display will go on without her

Tom Lee squinted up at his mother's house, his face silhouetted by the sun's light. There were decorations all over it - strings of dangling lights and plastic angels - but they all needed power to glow.

Lawrence artist elevates paper creations well 'Beyond Origami'

As a real estate agent, Nancy Bjorge makes a living selling houses. But she takes her greatest pleasure building worlds out of much smaller structures.

Saturday, December 10

Review: Aubrey, Ghost in Light at the Jackpot Saloon

Moody prog rock and soulful indie pop warmed up the brave souls who ignored weather and finals in order to make it out to the Jackpot Saloon on Friday night.

Friday, December 9

'Traffic' - Drugs + Oil = 'Syriana'

The sheer volume of detail in plot and setting is what gives the film its legitimacy, not the fact that it will shock anyone out of complacency. Many will accuse Hollywood of playing politics, and what's wrong with that? "Syriana" is about something, and although it may not change the world, it's about as timely and captivating as modern issue-related cinema is likely to ever get.

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Review: Super Mario Strikers - Gamecube

Is soccer Mario's forte?

Strikers should be experienced with friends. It's that simple. The worth of playing alone doesn't come near the asking price, so if you don't have any friends, don't bother. However, Mario sports fanatics and people who love arcade-like multiplayer sports games will find substantial value in Mario's latest endeavor.

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Review: Kameo - 360

Has Rare returned to its throne?

Few games can boast a development history like Kameo's; it has been scheduled for release on three different consoles. Kameo was originally slated to be a premier title for the Nintendo Gamecube, however, when Microsoft purchased Rare in 2002 the title became an Xbox exclusive. Yet, again a change was made and Kameo was pushed back to be a launch title for the Xbox 360. Ideally after all this time the game would be flawless, but unfortunately that isn't the case.

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Review: The Matrix: Path of Neo - PS2, Xbox

Could this be...the one?

It follows the same basic plot as the movie trilogy, but still makes several deviations (I don't remember any giant karate ants in the movies). You'll start by learning some of Neo's early moves, then go on to the events from the original film. The dramatic lobby and rooftop shootouts, the subway fight with Smith, stopping the bullets in the hallway it's all there.

Big oil slick

'Syriana' drills for truth, strikes corruption

It's Big Oil's world. We're all just driving around in it. And air-conditioning, Tivo-watching, iPoding and Googling in it.

'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' a faithful delight

After "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy was safely tucked in the cinematic vault, "The Chronicles of Narnia" probably stood as the most beloved children's series yet to be adapted for the big screen.

Shop lets kids surprise families, friends with gifts

It took Ebenezer Scrooge visits from three ghosts before he learned that giving is better than receiving, but that lesson comes easily to Lawrence youngsters thanks to the Lawrence Arts Center's annual Children's Holiday Shop.

Thursday, December 8

KU 'Survivor' update: On to the finale

"I've been praying for a crack in that alliance," said Danni Boatwright as day 34 of the reality TV series began.

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Round trip

Decades after 'Comes Alive,' Lawrence bassist musically reunites with Peter Frampton

In 1976, it became the biggest album of all time. It stayed at the top of the charts for 10 weeks. To this date, it has eclipsed sales of 17 million units. It remains the best-selling live album ever.

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Review: Condemned: Criminal Origins - 360

Thoroughly haunting or one-trick pony?

Graphical shortcomings and half-boiled gameplay elements aside, Condemned is capable of some truly frightening moments, usually through the creation of dread of the unknown. If Condemned is a haunted house, it's a haunted house with only one gimmick. No matter how frightening that gimmick is, it's a gimmick nonetheless and eventually looses its grip.

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Review: Dragon Quest VIII - PS2

The heralded series returns in full force

Dragon Quest VIII boasts great battles, excellent visual style, and a freshness the series has been longing for. The game is long and takes quite a bit of effort to complete. While this is great news for the hardcore, the casual RPG fans might get sick before they leave the first continent.

Wednesday, December 7

Actor portrays KU student in 'Capote'

C. Ernst Harth learned a lot about Lowell Lee Andrews when he read the Nov. 28 Journal-World story about the Kansas University student who murdered his family in 1958.

Tuesday, December 6

BR549 to perform tonight on Grand Ole Opry

R549, a country rock band that includes Lawrence native Chuck Mead and former Lawrence resident Shaw Wilson, will play the Grand Ole Opry tonight. The band is scheduled to be on stage sometime between 7 and 7:30 p.m.

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Review: Peter Jackson's King Kong - 360

King of the Xbox 360 jungle

The dynamic duo of Peter Jackson and Michel Ancel did a wonderful job of making an exciting and fun game out of what potentially could be the blockbuster hit of the holiday season at the box office this year. Between the impressive visuals and the immersive gameplay, players will definitely have a fun romp through Skull Island.

Holiday warm-up

KU musicians fire hits and misses at 81st annual Vespers concerts

A long holiday concert can be like opening gifts from your relatives. Some of the boxes contain treasures. Others have lackluster sweaters you might not wear.

Monday, December 5

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God, science and the kooky Kansans who love them both!

Our findings will shock, outrage, titillate!

Turns out, Paul Mirecki might be a prophet. Or, Mirecki - the Kansas University professor who caught considerable hell for smack-talking religious fundamentalists - might at least be a spot-on social analyst.

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Democracy to a 'T'

Local T-shirt designer seeks to bring progressive ideas into mainstream boutiques

Ryan Red Corn wants to put his T-shirts on the backs of kids who work for a living, go to school, and hustle to make ends meet.

Humane Society volunteers love and are loved in return

Our weekly reminder that people aren't all bastards

Amanda Franklin loves cats. Unfortunately, her fiance doesn't.

Pomonas for Life!

Local rock band finds greener pastures outside 'the workaday world'

The Pomonas might well be the funniest band in Lawrence. Force them to listen to their most recent EP and undoubtedly you'll be rewarded with fart noises and guffawing. Such humor pervades the band's seriously good music, which maintains an unflinching rock-and-roll spirit in the face of steady opposition from "the man." The band - composed of multi-instrumentalists Justin Ripley, Brandon Ripley, Andy Gassaway and Ryan Laird - is currently holed up at home recording its debut full-length album and trying to fend off bill collectors.

Re-do: Margie Hogue, Erin Gerstenkorn and Wess Sharpton

Margie Hogue, Erin Gerstenkorn and Wess Sharpton

Style Scout: Kaase Kilian and Skippy Flinn

Kaase Kilian and Skippy Flinn

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Review: WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 - PS2

A wrestling fan's wet dream

For hardcore wrestling fans, this game has to be the Holy Grail. There are so many things to tinker with, so many little things to buy with your 'WWE Cash' earned in the Season and a huge amount of attention to detail. Unfortunately, if you're not a hardcore WWE fan, the gameplay alone isn't reason to buy this game.

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Review: True Crime: New York City - PS2, Xbox

How can cussing New Yorkers be cheesier than Mario dialogue? Find out...

It just feels cheesy. The forced urban style, ridiculous pedestrian dialog and large amount of gameplay and control issues make the game an exercise in frustration. Forget murder and theft, the true crime here is that this glitchy, grainy mess is priced at 50 dollars.

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Review: Madden NFL 2006 - 360

EA's best launch title

The controls are as razor-sharp as ever (thanks to years and years of fine-tuning), and this is still an amazing football experience. The omission of a few modes doesn't bring the 360 version down this is the one to get.

Sunday, December 4

Review: 'Snow Queen' warms hearts

Simple messages of love, loyalty and faith embody Hans Christian Andersen's tale "The Snow Queen," dramatized this weekend by University Theatre. Adapted and directed by visiting director Romualdas Viksraitis, "The Snow Queen" has familiar fairy tale motifs: a character who sets out on a long journey, talking animals, evil fairies, and quirky, goodhearted characters, assisting the traveler on her journey.

Poet's Showcase

Saturday, December 3

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Knocking on the door

Kiosk No. 33 showcases upcoming writers, artists

Go deep. Really deep. That's what Kiosk writers have been doing for 33 issues, and current contributor Gavin Snider is no exception. "Poetry is thought at its most basic form," says Snider, an architecture student who contributed a poem to the free semi-annual KU literary magazine. "Drawing is always going to be a representation of thought. But poetry is, like, the closest to thought."

'Aeon Flux' an empty-headed sci-fi failure

Come on. It's not as bad as all that. "Aeon Flux," the movie Paramount was hiding from the nation's movie critics, might invite reviews that begin with "rhymes with Flux." But it doesn't demand them.

Poise and grace

Sculptures inspire song cycle for KU voice professor

Joyce Castle never thought she had much in common with classic sculptures. But in Jake Heggie's mind, it was a perfect match.

Unthawing the 'Snow Queen'

KU theater adapts fairy tale for stage

Certain movies, television programs and plays signal Christmas for some people as much as presents under the tree. Would the holiday really seem complete without the Grinch, Rudolph or the Nutcracker?

Friday, December 2

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Review: Infected - PSP

Time to get out your iPod

While the later levels are certainly more entertaining than the mindless early missions, there still isn't much replay value. It may be worth a rental for fans of mindless blasting and terrible music, but Infected certainly doesn't make me feel any better about the PSP's current library.

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Review: Aeon Flux - PS2, Xbox

Better than the movie

Flux offers enjoyable platforming and stylish combat that usually overshadow the harder puzzles and lack of targeting. Its gameplay feels almost like it is the secret love child of The Prince of Persia and Metroid. If that sounds intriguing, or you just want a good platformer with Charlize Theron clad in leather, check this one out.

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Review: Ridge Racer 6 - 360

Ho-hum effort barely worth a rental

It is not a revolution or even much of an evolution of the series, it's just another (better looking) Ridge Racer game. While this is an arcade racer, the ridiculous drifting is just too much and its lack of vehicular damage, especially when Burnout and other racers have long since perfected the concept, is somewhat embarrassing.

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Review: Sonic Rush - DS

Great Sonic fun arrives on two screens

Sonic Rush lives up to the Sonic history and some have labeled the best 2-D Sonic ever. While this is debatable, the bottom line is that Sonic Rush is an amazing Sonic title that old school gamers and new school gamers should not miss out on.

Spielberg remains quiet about 'Munich'

Silence - for now. Avoiding the customary ruckus of pre-release promotions and Academy Awards campaigning, Steven Spielberg's "Munich" will be accompanied by a remarkably quiet publicity campaign before the controversial film's Dec. 23 debut.

'Cover' story

Lawrence bands put new spin on performing old songs

Steve Ozark is becoming more proficient at applying his makeup. But he is still irritated by the process of trying to duplicate the black-and-white facial design of Kiss star Gene Simmons.

Film noir dismembered by quirky 'Kiss Kiss'

A moody private detective. A femme fatale. Double-crosses. World-weary narration. In the decades since film noir reached its peak in the late 1940s, dozens of movies have tried to reinvent the reliable genre. Some attempt to modernize it ("The Long Goodbye"), some parody it ("Who Framed Roger Rabbit").

Thursday, December 1

KU "Survivor" update: Money well spent

While the final six contestants got closer to the $1 million prize, it was actually a mere $200 that made the difference for one player.

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Review: Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time - DS

Does the DS do the highly-touted RPG series justice?

The core gameplay of Partners is extremely addictive. I never once passed up even a miniscule skirmish to race through a level; I looked forward to each encounter. Partners in Time is the evolution the series needed, uses the hardware gloriously and delivers that rare Nintendo sense of fun that is enjoyable by all.