Stories for February 2005


Monday, February 28

Touring 'Carmen' stimulates, disappoints

A sold-out house waited Saturday evening for the opening curtain of the Teatro Lirico D'Europa's "Carmen" at the Lied Center. The large company of nearly 40, accompanied by a full orchestra, held the stage for the next three hours, in a performance at times stimulating and at other times disappointing. Giorgio Lalov, who formed the company in 1988, is its artistic director, and Krassimir Topolov its able musical director.

Tease photo

Review: Gran Turismo 4 - PS2

The premier racing title has finally arrived, shining and glorious.

Simulation games strive for realism. Whether it is flying a plane, commanding a special task force, leading the final drive in the Super Bowl, or driving cars, we as an audience hunger for the best possible realism. Speaking of realism in driving, a certain game has been released that covets said realism: Gran Turismo 4. Yes, it's the fourth installment of the series, and yes, it's better than any of its predecessors.

Tease photo

Review: Constantine - PS2, Xbox

The best Constantine video game, guaranteed!

I'm just going to come straight out and say that Constantine is one of the worst games I have ever played. Yes, that's a bold statement, but nonetheless true.

Sunday, February 27

KU seeking major Lied Center expansion

University plans to raise $7.5M for second auditorium, classrooms

Kansas University is planning a major expansion to the Lied Center, a campus performance venue used to showcase everything from distinguished lecturers to grand opera and Willie Nelson.

Tease photo

Forging beauty with hammer and heat

Lawrence blacksmiths master art of bygone era

A few miles south of Lawrence, in a shop nestled a stone's throw off U.S. Highway 59, Walt Hull has resurrected an age-old art form. Two hundred years ago, folks would have called him the "village smith." He might have made shoes for their horses and barrels for their guns.

Tease photo

Play conveys 'sense of renewal'

Spring is coming early by way of the Lawrence Community Theatre. "Enchanted April" hits the stage next week. The play, a Matthew Barber adaptation of an Elizabeth Von Arnim novel, begins in London before moving to the Italian countryside.

Lawrence youth to perform with Beyonce at Academy Awards ceremony in L.A.

A Lawrence boy will be singing in a choir during a performance with pop singer Beyonce at tonight's 77th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles.

Saturday, February 26

Tease photo

Kansan stars in classic opera 'Carmen' at Lied

You can take the farm boy out of Kansas, but you can't take Kansas out of the farm boy -- even when he's a principal soloist with the New York City Opera, based in Lincoln Center, with almost 1,500 performances of more than 100 different operatic parts to his credit since the 1980s.

'Dancing Henry Five' successfully integrates media

The Pick Up Performance Company was in town this week, leading master classes with Kansas University students and performing its creation, "Dancing Henry Five" at the Lied Center.

Friday, February 25

Saxophonist supplies 'jazz without a safety net'

For jazz soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom, writing music is a lot like painting a picture. Or at least it was for her album "Chasing Paint," a compilation of songs inspired by the work of abstract artist Jackson Pollock.

Tease photo

'Yeti!' suits up for debut

Locally produced film promises swordplay and awesome costumes

Director W. Dave Keith recalls the quandary of setting his movie in the Himalayas despite having no real budget. "Snow kind of looks the same in every continent," he says. "So we shot it in Kansas."

Gold rush

Entertainment editor Jon Niccum's picks suggest the Oscars could offer up surprises

America is saturated with awards shows. Starting around the first of the year, it seems every few days there is a Golden Globes or People's Choice or American Film Institute or Independent Spirit Awards, etc. After sitting through many of these broadcasts out of morbid curiosity or sheer boredom, it becomes increasingly clear that the Oscars are the ONLY awards show that means anything.

Thursday, February 24

Review: Ani Difranco at Liberty Hall

with Andrew Bird opening

Ani Difranco is more than today's single biggest DIY singer-songwriter. 'Ani' is an icon. Her lyrics are often inspirational and empowering, words you can memorize and take home with you, pithy snippets of wisdom that you can apply to life. Her poetry have inspired women and yellow dogs for more than 15 years now...but not so much last night.

Wednesday, February 23

Tease photo

Review: NBA Street V3 - PS2, Xbox, Gamecube

The best slamma-jamma around.

V3 is without a doubt the best arcade hoops game out there. If you're not into the simulation games and love high-flying action, get this game without hesitation.

Tuesday, February 22

The week that was

Wherein we peruse the news that was new last week...

Tease photo

'Mod' squad

"Modders" skirt hardware copyright protections, turning game consoles into piracy hubs and more...

Beware of the Wraptor. He'll take your paltry Xbox and "mod" it into a juiced-up megabeast. What once existed solely as a conduit for store-bought cartridges will become a port for pirating and storing all your fetishes - video games, music, movies, porn, whatever. If you're really tech savvy, the Wraptor might even help you turn your Xbox into a personal computer.

Tease photo

Hardcore bummer

Fire claims The Esoteric's home, studio, practice space...everything

Next week. That's when Lawrence's premier hardcore band The Esoteric was supposed to be purchasing renter's insurance for its "House of Metal" at 820 Ohio St. Today, as the crispy remains of guitars and amps float in the basement that served as the band's practice space and recording studio, guitarist Eric Graves is no longer pondering the prospect of buying renter's insurance he's thinking about selling it.

'Fiddler on the Roof' carried by strong Tevye

Cast, crew earn ovation from Lied audience for bringing 'power' to 40-year-old musical

Forty years have passed since "Fiddler on the Roof" opened, and there's still plenty of life in this big musical, as shown in a three-hour performance Saturday night at the Lied Center.

Monday, February 21

Pilgrim earns doctorate during 17 years of silence

'Planetwalker' takes unusual steps

John Francis is an unusual pilgrim. In 1971, the son of West Indian immigrants witnessed an oil spill in San Francisco. The environmental disaster changed his life. He abandoned the use of motorized vehicles and began walking thousands of miles. Within a few months he also had taken a vow of silence, which he observed for 17 years.

Sunday, February 20

At home with words

Navajo poet to return for Read Across Lawrence programs

Writer Luci Tapahonso has known many homes. She spent her childhood amid the regal mountains and painted deserts of Navajo country in Shiprock, N.M. A decade passed while she taught English at Kansas University, taking in Jayhawk basketball games and watching her grandbabies toddle across her front porch.

Poet's Showcase


Evolutionary effects

KU painting professor explores link between evolution, creationism

Ivan Fortushniak's not from around here. That's evident as soon as the Michigan native launches into an explanation of his new exhibition at the Salina Art Center.

Library programs to focus on 'Blue Horses Rush In'

Read Across Lawrence, in its sixth year, encourages the entire community to read and discuss the same book during February and March. The 2005 selection is "Blue Horses Rush In," a collection of poetry and short stories by former Kansas University English professor Luci Tapahonso. Free copies of the book meant to be read and passed on are circulating around town. A select number of copies are also available for limited-time checkout at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.

Friday, February 18

Choreographers to display short, new works

Spontaneity, experimentation, tradition and modernity all will have a place on the Lawrence Arts Center stage during the 13th annual Choreographer's Showcase.

Tease photo

Breaking the sound barrier

Black artists strive to fit into the Lawrence music scene

Lawrence is a city known for its diversity. It's also a city renowned for its music scene. But whether the music scene is diverse remains a nagging question -- especially to black musicians trying to carve a career in a locale brimming with indie rock bands and acoustic folk artists.

Daring play raises violence awareness

The "Vagina Warriors" are going to battle again. A local cast is getting ready for another year of Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues," a play that heightens awareness of violence and abuse against women.

Cast pulls 'Constantine' from oblivion

There are a number of theories about what has the most impact on a movie. Is it the script, the director, the budget, the effects? I always had leaned toward the screenplay, until this year when a pair of similar movies changed my mind: the biopics "Ray" and "Beyond the Sea." Both were written like a TV movie of the week and prone to thematic missteps.

Thursday, February 17

Worldly concert unites musicians from near, far

The Lawrence Chamber Orchestra is getting a little French inspiration this week.

Tuesday, February 15

The week that was

Wherein we peruse the news that was new last week...

This summer's Wilco concert to feature 50 opening acts

The Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival kicked off ticket sales last week with the announcement that Wilco would join a bill that already includes more than 45 national acts.

Tease photo

Out and about

Lawrence sustains gay nightlife despite lack of steady venues

As the former manager of the Priscilla's "adult novelty" shop on 23rd Street, William Long often had gay males and lesbians come into his store to ask him where they could find a gay bar. Ironically, he had to send them to Topeka. "If a backward ghetto town like Topeka can carry gay clubs all the time, I don't understand why a college town where most young guys and girls realize who they are and what they're about can't," Long said.

Tease photo

'Attagirl,' Bettie

Dutch rockers not slated to smoke pot or wear clogs at tonight's show

Dutch musician Carol van Dyk finds herself constantly having to explain the term "Attagirl," the title of Bettie Serveert's latest record.

Monday, February 14

'Magic School Bus Live!' holds children's attention

Shrieks of "Wahoo!" and squeals of delight flooded the Lied Center on Saturday afternoon as a giant neon-lighted bus driven by a big lizard rolled its way onstage. The Magic School Bus was in town accompanied by its precocious kids, their exuberant teacher Ms. Frizzle and Liz the Lizard.

Brentano String Quartet's program a feast for the ears

The Brentano String Quartet, an outstanding young ensemble which has appeared in New York, London, Salzburg and Rome, took the Lied Center stage Sunday afternoon. The program of Mozart, Webern and Beethoven was welcomed by the audience and was sensitively performed by this accomplished group.

Tease photo

Review: Wario Ware: Touched! - NDS

Touching Wario has never felt so short.

With the stylus, you can cut snot, poke kittens, rub a dirty glass to uncover what's underneath and many other creative variations. There are even some microgames where the microphone comes into use. It's incredibly obvious that Touched! is more than a game; it's a near-complete technical demonstration of everything that the DS can do over the other handhelds.

Tease photo

Review: Star Fox: Assault - Gamecube

Fox, we're going down.

Also gone is the variety of the environments you play through. Non-city levels all look the same, and the city levels look like each other as well. It's the little things like these that make the game lose that Star Fox feeling.

Tease photo

Review: The Punisher - PS2, Xbox, PC

Fun in the old-school Mortal Kombat kinda way.

Marvel Comics games have seen a variety of treatments over the years. You never know how good or bad one will be. Luckily for the Punisher series, Volition does an admirable job bringing the nature of the book to an otherwise rudimentary shooter.

Review: Shadow of Rome - PS2

This newcomer franchise is worth a look.

I wanted to absolutely love this game, but I just couldn't get over the clunkiness of certain parts. I would just get frustrated, angry, or both. There's still a lot of entertainment value in the game, though.

Sunday, February 13

Bending reality

Review: E.M.U. one-acts challenge audience

There were knives, pie and pigs in the basement of the Lawrence Arts Center on Friday night.

Valentine's events vie for your affection

As holidays go, Valentine's Day is certainly no Christmas in terms of the sheer volume of themed entertainment.

Hearts of darkness

My mistress' eyes are like the stars plucked from heaven. Her hair, like flaxen gold, gilds her back. And her lips, coral-stained, do invite thee closer. Blah, blah, blah.

Environmentalists say it's easy being green in Lawrence

Standing on the Kansas River levee last week, it wasn't hard for Carey Maynard-Moody to start ticking off a list of Lawrence's natural resources.

Friday, February 11

Music fest up in air

Clinton likely site for huge event; officials, public, promoter discuss concerns about lake venue

Tickets sales start today and the band lineup for the second Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival continues to grow -- but the production company putting on the show doesn't have a venue for the massive music event.

Sound advice

The Grammys need fixing if they want to rival other awards shows

What do Bill Clinton, Quentin Tarantino, Phil Ramone, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and Janet Jackson have in common? They're all nominated for 2005 Grammy Awards. Those five may seem a particularly oddball collective, but that all-encompassing aspect pretty much defines the Grammys. This is both the 47th annual event's strengths and one of its greatest weaknesses.

Strange stagefellows

Troupe's double bill ventures into avant-garde

Those who enjoy experimental or avant-garde theater -- performances that push the envelope of an audience's expectations -- will likely find much to appreciate in two plays being staged by E.M.U. Theatre.

East Asian film fest to showcase contemporary visions at Spencer

In a season drowning in exclusive movie festivals, here is one where everyone is invited. The Center for East Asian Studies is presenting seven films under the banner theme "Not your mother's Asia!"

Concert to help tsunami victims

Singer-songwriter Jake Davis has never been to Asia. He doesn't even know anybody from Indonesia or Sri Lanka. But he knew he wanted to do something for victims of December's catastrophic tsunami.

Thursday, February 10

'Engagement' brings whimsy to trench warfare

The blood-soaked trenches of World War I are hardly the ideal place to set a whimsical romance, but filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet has succeeded in doing just that. Perhaps succeeded is a little too strong a word.

Wednesday, February 9

LHS play draws protest from pastor

When students at Lawrence High School stage the play "The Laramie Project" this week, they say they'll be exploring themes of hate and intolerance, not promoting a homosexual lifestyle.

Tuesday, February 8

The week that was

Wherein we peruse the news that was new last week...

Tease photo

The Golden Republic, "The Golden Republic"

Damn. Not bad. Not bad at all. I mean, we knew you had a buttload of money. We knew you had the backing of an artist-friendly label (Astralwerks), a big-shot producer (Peter Katis of Interpol fame) and a well-connected manager (Ben Weber with Nada Surf). But these things alone do not make a great album, and "The Golden Republic" is exactly that.

Karl Michelbach, "Better than it was."

If you were around Lawrence between '92 and '99, you probably remember a goofy-yet-charming band by the name of Danger Bob. They were the guys who wore pajamas to the "Klammie" awards; the guys with the confetti guns, the bubble machines, the seven-foot-tall go-go-dancer cages and songs like "Fruit Ham." Somehow - on top of all that - the four power-poppers also managed to release four full-length albums and a Christmas EP (Who could forget "Creamy Jesus" or "Ho for the Holidays"?).

Tease photo

The most special-est Valentine

Naked motorists, pity dates, tequila casualties, VD, and a night in Venice

Valentine's Day is for suckers. Suckers for love, suckers for sweetness and - most importantly - suckers for perishable, overpriced goods. If you don't fit into any of the above categories, you might want to make sure your significant other doesn't either. Because if you don't figure it out by February 14, you could be in for a rough day.

Pharaoh's Daughter evokes universal language of music

With a style that blends Jewish folk song, Middle Eastern melodies and jazz percussion using instruments from several continents, Pharaoh's Daughter certainly has the world music genre covered. But when the group performed Saturday night at the Lied Center, what really stood out was its ability to bring an immediate, in-the-moment fusion of sound that transcended neat geographic and cultural categories, and seemed to come to life for the first time on a stage in the middle of Lawrence, Kan.

Homegrown star

Despite attention from recording industry, Joey Glenn still a down-to-earth teenage girl

Joey Glenn's living in two worlds. By day, she's a junior at Tonganoxie High School. By night, she's an up-and-coming country music singer.

Monday, February 7

Tease photo

Review: Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath - Xbox

Living for the money.

Overall this game has raised the bar for the Oddworld series by nailing the control scheme and mastering the art of being fun. I never once wanted to take out the game because I was mad at it. That isn't to say it never got hard, but I never got mad at the difficulty because I knew that I was just being outsmarted.

Tease photo

Review: Suikoden IV - PS2

I'm sure if you are a hardcore fan of the Suikoden series you will enjoy this game, but you will be disappointed as well. If you are a casual RPG player or just getting into the genre, you're better off starting off with another game.

All about the people

I can't imagine living anywhere other than in Lawrence, Kansas. Among the things that keep me here, two stand out: The intense creative drive that such a high percentage of people here share, and the down-to-earth ease that people tend to assume with others, even complete strangers.

Sunday, February 6

Poet's showcase


Origami: From a single square of paper, a little magic is born.

As a girl in Shanghai, China, Nancy Bjorge kept her fingers busy folding tiny paper boats. The shapes signified ingots, she says, and her grandmother pressed her to produce them by the hundreds.

Saturday, February 5

Boldly gone: KU connections lament loss of 'Star Trek'

Several Jayhawks have contributed to the science fiction franchise through the years

Is Mr. Spock a Jayhawk? That's tough to say -- no one has seen 23rd century graduation records at Kansas University. But KU has certainly played a role in shaping the "Star Trek" universe.

Sweet support for the arts honors past patron

Alice Ann would have loved it. That's what folks who knew Alice Ann Callahan Russell are saying about Sunday's 17th annual Chocolate Auction, a fund-raiser for the Baldwin Community Arts Council.

Jazz duo gets conversational

Wycliffe Gordon and Cyrus Chestnut, old friends and kindred musical souls, met for an evening of truly original music Thursday night at the Lawrence Arts Center.

Friday, February 4

Alarming lack of "oogey" in "Boogeyman"

Director Sam Raimi produced last year's surprise horror hit "The Grudge" starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. This weekend, his GhostHouse Pictures imprint follows up that box office champ with "Boogeyman," another PG-13 low-budgeter that is aimed at the same crowd. Raimi seems uniquely qualified to oversee this new factory line of scary movies. After all, it was he who directed the terrifying and hilarious "Evil Dead" trilogy before graduating to more mainstream affairs like the "Spider-Man" films. The financial windfall of "The Grudge" proves that he knows a little something about taking a niche market and opening it up to a whole new audience.

How much worse can it get?

The Razzies celebrate 25 years of honoring the best of Hollywood's worst

Few people take pleasure in watching a lame TV show, listening to a terrible album or attending a dull sporting event. But most folks admit there is something perfectly entrancing about sitting through a bad movie.

Blind Boys of Alabama a vision of vocal energy

The audience at the well-filled Lied Center came primed for gospel Wednesday evening, welcoming with prolonged and enthusiastic applause the first Lawrence appearance of The Blind Boys of Alabama.

Free State Music Festival showcases Americana sound

Fourth year features band from 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?'

Time to restring those banjos and polish that oversize belt buckle. The Free State Music Festival is again serving up a two-day dose of bluegrass and Americana music.

Thursday, February 3

Tease photo

Review: Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction - PS2, Xbox

Blow the living crap out of it...again and again.

You won't really care about your characters or what's going on story-wise in this game. You'll basically be playing to blow the crap out of things (though all you ladies out there with crushes on Harrison Ford will want to check the unlockables!). That said, Mercenaries is definitely a rental, and if it sticks you should buy it.

'The Machinist' is heavy on mood, thin on cheer

Robert De Niro triggered a trend when he gained 50 pounds to play an over-the-hill championship boxer in "Raging Bull." The gambit helped land him an Oscar, and ever since then Hollywood actors have dramatically tampered with their bodies to earn credibility on the screen. Christian Bale pushes these boundaries to the limit in "The Machinist." Surpassing scrawny to the point of being virtually skeletal, Bale chronicles the physical degeneration of a sleep-deprived, unstable factory worker.

Pharaoh's Daughter shaped by founder's world travels

As a student choreographer in an Orthodox Jewish school, Basya Schechter was forbidden from using music with English words. So she went searching for lively instrumental music.

Wednesday, February 2

The week that was

Wherein we peruse the news that was new last week...

Blind Boys bring gospel to Lied

When he was a 2-year-old, Clarence Fountain woke up one morning with a case of pink eye. A midwife concocted a home remedy, but the cure proved worse than the infection. The liquid permanently blinded the boy.

Tuesday, February 1

Tease photo

Not your mama's Tupperware Party

'Passion Parties' ... A social alternative for sex toy shopping

Jenn Chapman's apartment is a kinky lovers' paradise. Double dongs, butt plugs, anal beads, vibrators, big blue dildos - all neatly arranged and awaiting call-up to the bedroom big leagues. "The day that stuff comes in I have to lay everything out on the floor and count inventory," said Chapman, a 30-year-old Lawrence part-time entrepreneur whose day job is marketing for a business-planning firm. "My boyfriend gets a little irritated because they're spread out across the living room floor, and I'm trying to keep the dogs away."

Lawrence conductor takes helm of national kids' choir

Southwest Junior High School choir director Janeal Krehbiel will direct a choir this week in Los Angeles featuring the nation's top junior-high and middle-school singers.