Stories for November 2006

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Thursday, November 30

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Review: Yoshi's Island DS (DS)

My complaints about it being too similar to the original certainly shouldn't scare you off of this game it just means more of a great thing.

Made in China

KU students discover Asian country through camera lens

Six months ago, the thought of going to China never would have occurred to me. It just wasn't on my radar. Not only did it seem a monetary impossibility, but unlike many of my friends, I didn't have a burning desire to visit the lands of Asia just yet. I was busy trying to get to Europe first.

Tuesday, November 28

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Review: Mortal Kombat Unchained (PSP)

Despite my complaints about the readily-available characters, my only main problem with Unchained is the constant load times. It's a good game for sure, but significant waits between each fight make it a less-than-great portable experience.

Monday, November 27

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All they got

Split Lip Rayfield leave nothing on stage in final leg of farewell tour

Nearly a decade ago, a new band began to pick, pluck, and wail on a Wichita porch. Their goal was simple: to score free beer.

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Behind the music

How Robert Moore came to be the most inspired DJ within the reach of 89.3 FM's airwaves

Robert Moore is putting the punk into public radio. As a music DJ on 89.3 FM, Moore has the methodical urgency of a news anchor and the mellow on-air presence of a late-night jazz announcer.

Actual news*

*based on actual news

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Wax and wane

The Waxman rides out fads and oil crises with handmade business

All is peaceful in Bob Werts' workplace. The mood is more monastery than factory-thick drips of warm wax, hushed remarks, and KJHK or NPR soft in the background.

Style Scout: Molly Krause

Review: SOCOM Fireteam Bravo 2 (PSP)

If you've played a SOCOM game, Fireteam Bravo 2 will feel mighty familiar at least in look and feel. While the A.I. has notoriously been spotty and control sluggish, they are especially bad this time around.

Review: Snoopy vs. the Red Baron

It would have been extremely easy to use Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the rest of the gang in some sort of half-cooked adventure platformer, so the decision to make a flight combat game is admirable in and of itself.

Aussie catches ride on 'Supernova'

'Rock Star' runner-up launches band's U.S. tour on show's momentum

It was just two months ago that Toby Rand took the stage on the season finale of the hit CBS show "Rock Star: Supernova."

'Happy Feet,' 'Casino Royale' pace solid holiday weekend

A dancing penguin was king of the Thanksgiving birds among movie-goers. The animated penguin romp "Happy Feet" remained the No. 1 movie with $37.9 million in ticket sales from Friday to Sunday, while the James Bond adventure "Casino Royale" stayed in second place with $31 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Saturday, November 25

Review: Madden 07 (PS3)

Yes, it has new rosters. Yes, they tried to add a couple new gameplay additions. When it comes down to it, however, the gameplay experience is almost identical to the last few installments.

Review: Sega Genesis Collection (PS2)

When it comes to classic compilations, the Genesis Collection features a far superior "good-to-bad ratio" when it comes to the selections. Despite a couple of omissions, this title will give you plenty of hours of classic gaming at an extremely affordable $19.99 price tag.

Friday, November 24

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Fall from grace

KU student's documentary explores the preaching of hate

We've all seen them. They're among the most internationally prominent figures in the state - and arguably the most reviled. Yet what does anybody really know about the motivations and background of the Phelps clan? A new documentary directed by Kansas University film student K. Ryan Jones seeks to shed some light on this murky subject.

KU student's documentary explores preaching of hate

We've all seen them. They are members of the Westboro Baptist Church, led by Pastor Fred Phelps. They turn up to picket concerts, speeches and, most notably, military funerals, holding explicit signs that denounce homosexuality.

Creature comforts

Animals inspire Bizarre Bazaar artist

Laura Ramberg needed a model for one of her ceramic art pieces. A scaly, slithering model. "I was walking around the farm going, 'Where are the snakes? Where are the snakes?' After two days of this I realized what I was saying. They were probably going to appear in my bed and my closet and my shoes," Ramberg says.

Wednesday, November 22

Review: Excite Truck (Wii)

If it were released on another system, it would be a very generic, standard racer. As a Wii launch title, however, it does a good job of showing gamers what to expect from racing games on the console.

Review: Mortal Kombat Armageddon (PS2)

As a lifelong Mortal Kombat fan, it's disappointing to see Armageddon turn out to be a "quantity over quality" title. It may feature the biggest roster to date, but there just isn't enough new content (ahem:"kontent") to make it an improvement over Deception.

Review: Need For Speed Carbon (360, PS3)

Need For Speed: Carbon, the series' second next-gen entry, continues that tradition with the same high-speed action you've come to expect as well as a number of new features. Unfortunately, not all of these additions are necessarily for the better.

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Revenge Is A Dish Best Served With Stuffing

Advice for Dealing with your Douchebag Relatives

Dread the holiday weekend because you'd rather snort giblets up your nose than speak to relatives? Fear not! Punditocracy is here with Thanksgiving talking points to help you deal with obnoxious kin. We give you the right (and wrong) answers for politically uncomfortable questions at the family turkey trough. After they pass you a ladel full of guff, you can hand them a slice of shut-the-hell-up with whipped rage on top! It's a politics and culture public service announcement!

Tuesday, November 21

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Review: GTA Vice City Stories (PSP)

Rockstar is apparently content with milking the GTA cash cow, as Vice City Stories is the same damn game we've played so many times before.

Review: Dragon Ball Z - BT2 (PS2)

Budokai Tenkaichi 2 is a game that will appeal mostly to fans of Dragon Ball Z, with its huge cast and expansive story. However, anyone looking for a fun, easy-to-learn fighter would do good to check this out as well.

Review: Children of Mana (DS)

Ultimately there's just not much to Children of Mana. It fails to take advantage of any of the DS' unique features and the gameplay is simplistic and completely uninspired.

Tenacious D: Not nearly as bad as you think, nor as good as you hope

For an R-rated movie that glorifies the devil, bong rips and cock pushups, "Tenacious D in Pick of Destiny" is actually a pretty harmless concoction. No matter that the duo that bears half of the film's title throws the "f" word around more casually than a Scorsese gangsterÂJack Black and Kyle Gass are pure as the driven snow.

'The Fountain' makes up for lack of suspense with universal truths

If you have the patience to spend (itÂ's a rather short 96 minutes actually), Darren AronofskyÂ's ÂThe FountainÂ- will reward you with brilliant poetic imagery and a transcendent feeling. If not, youÂ'll prove once and for all that you have no imagination and be left with three stories about death and rebirth with no seeming narrative suspense at all.

Net worth

Lawrence students tap the Web as study resource

Forget the library. Or tutors. Or study buddies. When it comes to homework, this current generation of students has one go-to source: the Internet.

Monday, November 20

Review: Magical Starsign (DS)

Honestly, I don't like role-playing games. I find them to be exercises in tedium and repetition that are more likely to trigger incontinence than gratify me as a gamer. Whoever was the first to vomit 1970's Dungeons & Dragons dice-throwing mechanics upon the virtual community should have little pewter dwarves rammed into every bodily orifice until ruptured organs bring their life to an excruciating end.

Observational humor drives low-key 'For Your Consideration'

In the wake of the viciously satirical comedy ÂBorat,Â- Christopher GuestÂ's low-key Hollywood send-up ÂFor Your ConsiderationÂ- seems downright quaint. The writer/actor/director may be lampooning the late-year movie awards season, but he refuses to condemn the actions of his self-absorbed targets outright. Instead, he regards his oddball characters with the same warmth and affection that audiences have for his stellar cast, most of whom have been Guest regulars since 1996Â's ÂWaiting for Guffman.Â-

Sunday, November 19

Trumpet player for the stars remains loyal to his crimson and blue roots

Jon Lewis got to see "The Matrix" before it became the new standard for special effects. He says the movie was "awesome" - even though he was pretty much glued to his sheet music, and the film didn't have any sound as it was projected behind him.

Taking time out

Parents who coach their kids tread line between being involved and spoiling fun

"Pass! Pass!" Mike Maddox yells, as a gaggle of 5-year-old boys sprints down the hardwood in the Deerfield School gymnasium. His son, Anderson, leads the pack, dribbling enthusiastically - and sporadically - toward the hoop. He opts not to pass. His lay-up misses the mark, and a boy on the opposing scrimmage team snatches the rebound.

Saturday, November 18

Holy land

Churches grapple with real estate issues as they grow

The Rev. Beau Abernathy has had to balance the roles of church pastor and real estate agent. He's twice led church congregations to purchase real estate, and his current congregation - CrossPointe Church - is looking for land at the moment.

Friday, November 17

Blond Bond energizes new 'Casino Royale'

You who carped that the 007 films had devolved into a catalog of fresh gadgets and stale puns, eat crow. You who said that the Austin Powers superspy spoofs made James Bond irrelevant, behave.

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Sluggish sales spell the pits for Olive Gallery

Gallery's plans to fold in late February cap string of art venue closings

When Olive Gallery and Art Supply opened in April 2003, the young owners envisioned a home for emerging artists and cutting-edge work.

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Review: Final Fantasy XII (PS2)

So, is FFXII worthy of bearing the lofty title of a Final Fantasy game? Absolutely. FFXII is simply one of the best RPGs in years, and frankly one of the last great games of this generation.

Thursday, November 16

PS3 madness

Chaos erupts among campers in line to buy the new video game console

A scene resembling something out of Lord of the Flies started forming sometime around 5:00am on Thursday in front of the Best Buy at 31st and Iowa.

Review: ATV Offroad Fury Pro (PSP)

Despite a few blemishes, ATV Offroad Fury Pro is really a great choice for racing fans looking for something on the go. It has a huge variety of modes and unlockable content, and the abilities to make custom tracks and play online only help extend the game's lifespan.

Review: ATV Offroad Fury 4 (PS2)

The fourth iteration of this often overlooked series offers the same great high-flying racing action that the series is known for along with a wide variety of modes that should keep players occupied for months.

Review: Elite Beat Agents (DS)

It contains cutscenes involving people having trouble with something, and then guys in suits jump in and start dancing around to Avril Lavigne songs, making everything ok.

Arts duo raises 'Brave Voice'

Their hands are both on a keyboard. Kelley Hunt, coming from a background in rhythm and blues music, has hers on a piano keyboard. Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, a poet, has her hands on a computer keyboard.

University Dance Company employing variety of musical styles for fall concerts

There's something old and something new on the program of the University Dance Company's fall concerts.

Wednesday, November 15

Photographer to share tales of world travel

While Bruce Dale was shooting exclusively for National Geographic, he had more than 2,000 photographs published in its Society's books and magazines.

Quirky one-acts capture holiday spirit

The University Theatre at Kansas University continues its season with two intriguing one-act plays that present an eccentric introduction to the holiday season.

Tuesday, November 14

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Thankful kitchen

After a turbulent year, the Krauses return to their culinary dream

Street Level strolls east to visit the Krauses in their home kitchen to talk about red tape, culinary mishaps and triumphs, and being thankful through hard times.

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Review: Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)

We've waited (sometimes impatiently) for this day since we saw Link ride across Hyrule Field in that surprise trailer at E3 2004. After some mixed reactions for the last two main Zelda adventures, gamers can now cherish what is truly the spiritual successor to Ocarina of Time.

Monday, November 13

Style Scout: McClain Southwell and Abby Reust

A look at what style the stylish are stylin'

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Mind game

In an 'over-stimulated' society, the world's oldest game still captures imaginations

In the midst of today's video game technological fanaticism, Lawrence chess players stand in sharp contrast. Afterall, their fanaticism is focused on a game that's pretty much unchanged after some 15 centuries.

Actual news*

*based on actual news

A review of the news that was new last week...

Hardware Review: Nintendo Wii

Will we really see men, women, and children of all ages and races joining together in front of the TV for some simulated tennis? Or will it be viewed by the gaming public as a gimmick and derided for its weaker graphical horsepower?

Sunday, November 12

Photographers talk shots in Lawrence

David Hume Kennerly shot candid portraits of President Gerald Ford and won a Pulitzer Prize for his remarkable images of the Vietnam War. Bruce Dale had more than 2,000 pictures published in National Geographic magazine during a career that sent him to 75-plus countries, shooting high in the sky, under the water and spots in between. Both will be in Lawrence this week to give talks about their work at the Lawrence Arts Center.

Saturday, November 11

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Review: Wii Sports (Wii)

You'll find no advanced textures, hi-def visuals, or crazy particle effects here. But you know what? None of the numerous people that played it with me cared in the least. We were too busy having a blast to complain about visuals.

Cantus charms audience with diverse repertoire, harmonious sound

Songs of sailors and Sufis echoed through the Lied Center on Thursday night as Cantus ended its week-long residency with a well-received evening of song. A male vocal ensemble of nine voices, Cantus is based in Minneapolis, Minn. During its 10-year existence, it has become one of the most exciting professional ensembles in the world of classical music. Its variety of repertoire and successful execution of multiple styles are part of the reason for its success.

Journal-World hosts photography lectures

Two nationally know photographers, David Hume Kennerly and Bruce Dale will lecture about their images next week at the Lawrence Arts Center.

Friday, November 10

A movie less 'Strange' than 'Fiction'

Nervous and reserved IRS agent Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) sits near the middle of an articulated double-bus. As it collapses in and expands out like an accordion, Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is alternately pulled close to him and then pushed away. This inventive scene from "Stranger Than Fiction," where the camera vacillates with the flow of the bus, is a surprisingly beautiful and graceful analogy for the uncertainty of courtship.

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Burned by 'Borat'

Kazakhs in Lawrence react to country's portrayal in big-screen comedy

Not since the fall of communism has the former Soviet Union seemed so immersed in the media spotlight.

Eccentric 'Stranger Than Fiction' showcases Ferrell's range

"Stranger Than Fiction" most certainly is. Willyfully eccentric, odd in tone, it's an English major's comedy, a wry exploration of plot, narrative, character and a writer's imprint on her or his work.

Thursday, November 9

Not your average Cho

Brazen comedian tackles politics, race, belly dancing

Stand-up comedian. Film actress. Sitcom star. Sitcom failure. Best-selling author. Outspoken political advocate of gay marriage. Rabid devotee of belly dancing.

KU Theater staging contemporary plays

Kansas University is presenting a double bill of contemporary plays beginning this week.

Museum offers program on preserving photos

Watkins Community Museum of History will present a program Saturday on how to preserve family photographs.

Wednesday, November 8

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Review: Power Stone Collection (PSP)

As a fan of the underrated originals, it's great to have them in portable form. Each has made its way to the PSP without sacrificing any gameplay quality.

KU Opera announces upcoming performances

The department of music and dance and KU Opera will present two interconnected one-act operas, "Dido and Aeneas," by Henry Purcell, and "The Old Maid and the Thief," by Gian Carlo Menotti, starting Thursday.

LHS students to perform Shakespeare

Lawrence High School will present "The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged)" this week in the main auditorium, 1901 La.

Tuesday, November 7

'Babel' features breathtaking imagery, epic scope

Alejandro González Iñárritu_s _Babel_ features multiple character storylines connected by a common thread, like two American tourists played by Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Essentially a plea for international tolerance, the cinematography is expressive and the acting is excellent, particularly by two virtual unknowns. Despite some somber plot turns, it is ultimately a film of hope.

Poll call

Too young to cast a ballot? Bone up on election trivia so you're ready when the voting booth lures

Monday, November 6

Hands-on with the Wii

Last Sunday, Andrew Campbell and myself had the opportunity to head to the Nintendo Fusion Tour to take one last pre-release look at the Wii before the big day comes. Here's what we thought.

Review: Marvel Ultimate Alliance (360)

MUA is basically a comic book nerd's wet dream. It features well over 100 Marvel characters, ranging from the obvious (Spiderman, Wolverine) to the more obscure (Arcade, Dum Dum Dugan).

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The other crimson and blue

A look inside KU's College Republicans as they join the final campaigns push in a tough mid-term election

It's rush hour on a chilly Thursday evening, just a few days before mid-term elections. At the busy intersection of 23rd and Iowa, cars line up to head back toward wherever home is.

Review: Scooby Doo Who's Watching Who (PSP)

Fans of the show will enjoy Scooby Doo: Who's Watching Who for its recreation of the cartoon's atmosphere, but under a solid presentation is a game with a some very notable problems.

Review: Death Jr. II (PSP)

As average as it is, it's really hard to give a solid recommendation for Death Jr. II. While not being a "bad" game by any means, it's the same generic platforming that we've seen for years.

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Papa loves family

The New Amsterdams' Matt Pryor gives it up for the kids. Again.

As the front man of the Get Up Kids, Matt Pryor toured the globe and left a wide wake of swooning teenagers. GUK fans were inconsolable when the band broke up in 2005.

Sytle Scout: Taylor Carter

Style Scout: Brad Hestand

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Cho Mama!

Comedian/activist Margaret Cho dishes about belly dancing, Mark Foley and bringing her Republican-baiting humor to Kansas

Comedian, author, actress, political lightening rod, gay icon, cooch dancer:Margaret Cho is all of this, and some say more.

Actual News*

*:based on actual news

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Review: The Sims 2: Pets (PS2, Cube)

It adds a fair amount of content that should please series veterans and newcomers alike, most notably the ability to raise and train cats and dogs with the rest of your Sim family.

Sunday, November 5

Baldwin photographer creates 2006 Phoenix Awards

Baldwin photographer Edward C. Robison III was selected by the Lawrence Arts Commission to create this year's Phoenix Awards.

Laurie McLane-Higginson - Educator in the Arts

Motivated teacher pioneered district's elementary art program

When Laurie McLane-Higginson started teaching in the Lawrence school district in 1982, she was the only art instructor for the city's 17 elementary schools.

Mary Anne Jordan - Visual Arts

Textiles artist weaves stories with fiber

Mary Anne Jordan believes everyday fabric tells stories.

'Calamity' gal

Marisha Pessl and her novel make a splash

It is, apparently, very easy to hate Marisha Pessl. She is, first of all, young and attractive, prompting one profiler to liken her to "a Botticelli angel." Then there's her writing talent, rewarded with a six-figure advance for her debut novel. Yes, she's wealthy, too.

Bob & Trish McWilliams - Exceptional Artistic Achievement

Couple's laid-back potluck concerts have evolved into popular folk series

In 1994, Bob and Trish McWilliams played host to a potluck in their basement for a concert by an obscure Australian singer-songwriter.

Jane Malin - Volunteer in the Arts

Community theater volunteer 'pitches in wherever she's needed'

There isn't much Jane Malin hasn't done around Lawrence Community Theatre.

Pat Kehde & Mary Lou Wright - Literary Arts

Indie bookstore cultivates loyalty with personal service, local focus

For a blissful six months in 1996, The Raven was the only downtown bookstore selling new books in Lawrence.

Clyde Bysom - Musical Arts

Jazz player says music is 'my therapy'

Clyde Bysom can be seen performing with the Junkyard Jazz Band every Thursday, the New Horizon Senior Band and Clarinet Quartet every Friday and the Jazzhaus Big Band every other Sunday.

Artistic visions

Phoenix Award winners focused on making Lawrence arts scene thrive

The winners of the 2006 Phoenix Awards are teachers, architects, event planners, bookstore owners, pharmaceutical researchers, radio hosts, retired professors, jazz musicians and textile artists.

Dan Sabatini - Volunteer in the Arts

Architect taps the arts as his muse

Lawrence architect Dan Sabatini designs buildings.

Karen Lane Christilles - Performing Arts

Lied Center director, longtime artist finds satisfaction in presenting

On a basic level, Karen Christilles' job is to make sure theater, music and other performance-based art forms are seen and enjoyed by as many people as possible.

Friday, November 3

Cultural 'Valley' bridged

A single drumbeat and tinkling bells heralded the beginning of Ratan Thiyam's Chorus Repertory Theatre in "Nine Hills One Valley" Wednesday night at the Lied Center.

Warning shot

Students stage cautionary play about school violence

"Go back to where you are dead," director Christie Dobson hollers at her students.

Thursday, November 2

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Review: Killzone Liberation (PSP)

While the original Killzone wasn't the "Halo killer" that pre-release hype wished you to believe, this PSP incarnation takes the universe in a different, entertaining direction.

'Bang Bang, You're Dead'

Teenagers take on a controversial topic in the play, "Bang Bang, You're Dead." They say it's a tragic story that is begging to be told.

Wednesday, November 1

Review: Dynasty Warriors 2 (PSP)

In the time since DW2 was released, we've seen a presidential re-election, a war on terror, the breakup of Bennifer, the rise of Reality TV and the creation of internet giant Google. Dynasty Warriors has pretty much stayed the same.

Review: Baten Kaitos Origins (Cube)

Whether or not you'll like Baten Kaitos Origins really rests on how much you're willing to put up with the card-based gameplay.

Theater guru puts world onstage

Show examines life in remote Indian community

Even if many Americans haven't heard of Manipur, Ratan Thiyam says they're familiar with the story of its people.