Stories for August 2007

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Friday, August 31

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Review: Warhawk (PS3)

PS3 owners, you (finally) have another great exclusive title that you can place next to Resistance on your shelf.

'Fury' a thin parody of sports, kung fu

You, with scripts of badminton drama, kickball glory, and tiddlywinks tragedy: Hurry to Hollywood. From 2004's "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" to this year's "Blades of Glory," comedies of unlikely sports are being churned out. But "Balls of Fury," the new pingpong romp, may signify the twilight of the trend.

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'Indian' summer

Locally produced film explores hidden history of Haskell

The camera slowly dollies in on the stern face of actor Kevin Geer. About 30 cast and crew members crammed into the third floor of the Watkins Community Museum of History look on. "This is not a prison. There are no walls. No fences. But there is a clock," Geer scolds. "You will learn to respect time."

Tuesday, August 28

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Sideswiped

Lawrence's SideWise sounds its hard rock "Siren"

Pop the new SideWise CD in your car disc changer and you might think you've turned on the radio. Slick as a Vaseline-smeared piggie and loud as the first row of Lollapalooza, "Siren" comes roaring out of speakers with the same velocity afforded to major-label acts

Monday, August 27

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Hawking tickets

With the priority points system settled in, familiarity at KU sports games is a fleeting thing

Through the windows of this country house north of town, the boiling sun shines down upon the relics. By the front door, to our left is a letterman's jacket worn by David Shirk, captain of the 1938 Jayhawk football team. He played end (both offensive and defensive). To our right is the radiator under which once rolled a wedding ring dropped from the small hand of a 5-year-old flower girl, Margaret.

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Psychobilly Hotrod Freakout!

Los Punk Rods rev up a rock & roll custom car show with "Greaserama"

The pomade-slathered grease monkeys "Los Punk Rods" were conceived in a North Lawrence garage in 1999. Back in the day, this informal cabal of custom car gearheads would show off their handmade hot rods to like-minded modders at intimate picnics in Burcham Park, knocking back beers and enjoying some rockabilly tunes.

Actual news*

*:based on actual news

Wherein we peruse the news that was news last week.

'Death at a Funeral' dies a slow one

You might think that with a comedy titled "Death at a Funeral," (**) part of the fun would be trying to guess exactly who is going to die and when. Instead, this British farce becomes nothing more than a waiting game, trying to determine just when all the elaborate set-ups for multiple characters are going to start paying off. When the zany climax finally comes, it is too little too late.

TOWNIE GUIDE TO: Being a Jayhawk fan

Daniel Simmons, 29, painter, pursuer of music and hallucinogens.

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Style Scout: Britt Herman

Style Scout: Val Torres

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Review: Bioshock (360)

At no point did my interest in the gameplay or narrative wane. It's a haunting, captivating, beautiful title that should convince the Roger Eberts of the world to rethink their "videogames can't be art" viewpoint.

Monday, August 20

Don't 'Talk to Me' about standard biopic cliches

Petey Greene was an ex-con who made his way onto the influential station WOL-AM in Washington, D.C. during the late '60s. There, the disc jockey became an unlikely community leader and outspoken straight-talker during the Vietnam War and civil rights movement. Director Kasi Lemmons ("Eve's Bayou," "The Caveman's Valentine") helms "Talk to Me," a biopic of Greene's life with the reliable Don Cheadle in the lead role.

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The Rest of Her Life

The new book by Lawrence author Laura Moriarty

A few years back, Laura Moriarty hosted a board game/tag sale fete in her home. She was out of here-with her creative writing master's completed and a fellowship at Phillips Exeter Academy on her horizon, she rolled out of Lawrence with her old dog, the skeleton of a story, and not much else.

Style Scout: Dana Hangauer & Dorien Presly Rillos

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License to Swill

The long leash of the law threatens to rein in Lawrence's nightlife

When wielded skillfully, the words "public safety," as every good politician knows, can be a mighty tool. Those words can lead a country to war, protect citizens from each other (smoking ban), or from themselves (seatbelts), or, in the hopes of at least some Lawrence city commissioners, give the city the power to shut down nightclubs.

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Sand in the oyster

The debut art opening by Alec Joler

The images of your day are pearls to Alec Joler. "I really like the idea of found imagery and assembling different things," Joler explains, setting up a theme to his varied visual work.

Ballin' Idols

Sixth annual kickball season climaxes with championship rematch

It started as so many things start, a simple friendly wager. A kickball game between the employees of the Free State Brewery and Rudy's Pizza with the winners reaping either pizza or beer. Six years later it is a full-blown local phenomenon known as the Kaw Valley Kickball league: two conferences with four divisions-24 teams in all representing local businesses like the Red Lyon, Yello Sub and Wildman Vintage Clothing.

Green Screen

"Go Organic!" film festival slings locally grown food and sustainable cinema

"I aimed for the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach," lamented Upton Sinclair about his misunderstood, landmark polemic "The Jungle." Turning Sinclair's bellyaching on its head, the organizers of the "Go Organic!" film festival are hoping to spur social change by aiming directly for the gut. Lawrence activist group Films for Action have teamed up with national non-profit Sustainable Table to screen the Rural Route Film Festival.

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Coalescing Old Together

Coalesce prepares its first release in five years as changed men-well, sorta

Sean Ingram is such a mellow, easygoing guy that it can be difficult to reconcile his everyday demeanor with his onstage personality-the raucous source of those brutal, guttural, otherworld emanations.

Style Scout: Dennis Lu

Actual news*

*:based on actual news

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Sunday, August 19

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Review: Picross DS

It ranks up there with the system's elite in terms of "pick up and play" gameplay. With so much content and such a great price, you'd be a fool not to add this to your DS library.

Review: Tomb Raider Anniversary (PSP)

The camera was an issue with the PS2 version of the game, and it's even more of a problem on the PSP thanks to its lack of a right analog stick.

Friday, August 17

Review: All Pro Football 2K8 (360)

With no NFL license to work with, 2K looked to the past to dig up some of football's legends. It's nice to see 2K back on the gridiron, but All-Pro isn't the resurrection of football gaming that fans might be hoping for.

Movie review: Superbad

Back in 1994, director Kevin Smith's indie sensation "Clerks" was originally given an NC-17 rating despite the absence of any nudity or violence. The adults-only rating-which translates to box office poison-was singularly due to the film's excessive profanity. With the help of Miramax lawyers, Smith appealed the decision and was eventually handed an R-rating, but not without a lot of hullabaloo in the press.

Thursday, August 16

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Review: Madden 08 (360)

No review is going to change the money-printing machine that is the Madden franchise. Hardcore gamers will continue to despise it, casual fans will continue to eat it up, and EA will laugh their way to the bank. However, no matter what anyone says, it's still the best football game in town.

Wednesday, August 15

'Rush Hour 3' keeps it fast and fluffy

A briskly edited action comedy that teams two stars (Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan) who have as little chemistry as it takes to hold a movie together, "Rush Hour 3" is completely predictible and completely implausible. It's also the ultimate distraction-Âit is about nothing, yet entertaining enough for its short 90-minute running time.

Tuesday, August 14

Review: Boogie (Wii)

Voice recognition is apparently a tricky thing for developers to get down. Most games that require singing via a microphone can be tricked by simply humming at the right timing and tune of the song. Boogie is a completely different beast.

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Ride of their lives

Kansas team makes finals in Disney design competition

When she was a little girl, Hannah Fiechtner never thought about where the rides at Disney's theme parks came from. "You think they automatically show up there," she says. "Poof - like magic. When you're little, you think they have magicians on staff and never give it a second thought." After the past year, Fiechtner now realizes those rides are the result of a lot of hard work.

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Festival pits North vs. South in rock 'n' roll skirmish

In the early hours of Aug. 21, 1863, several hundred Confederate raiders led by William Quantrill rode into Lawrence while the town slept, gunning down its citizens and setting houses ablaze.

Monday, August 13

The Art of Downloading

Ah, freshman year at KU. The millennium was still all kinds of new, I had gleefully moved far away from home and to the dorms. It wasn't quite the cleanest or most ideal living situation, but had T1 internet connections. Having grown up in small town where DSL wasn't available until 2006 and cable internet still does not exist, I literally had no idea that the internet came that fast. It totally ruled.

Xbox Live Arcade bytes

The Xbox Live Arcade continues its hot streak with several solid titles this summer. Here's a look at some of the most recent additions.

Living Proof

Our occasional reminder that people aren't all bastards

All the moments of a person's life. Junctures of triumph and calamity, love and melancholy and confusion, decision and fog, guilt and embarrassment and shame, euphoria and exhaustion. May lead to a phone call. It could be the point on the teeter-totter where a person starts to fall, or to get back up again. It could affect nothing. Either way, in our moment, someone is on the other end of the phone.

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Nerds of Prey 2: Dork Harder

"Pop Culture Scramble" reunites VH1 trivia titans and lets Lawrencians take a whack at 'em

Sitting at home amongst a pile of collectible "Babylon 5" pogs, hand thrust indolently down a grease-stained pair of Alf Underoos and probing various crevices, it's very easy to yell at the TV when contestants on "World Series of Pop Culture" flub a question.

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Dare to share

The down-low on downloading and file-sharing following recent litigation threats on campus

One day Richard Zayas was using his computer-a computer containing about 1,000 songs and a handful of downloaded movies and TV shows, none of which he'd paid for-when he received an email from KU. The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) has identified files on your computer that are being shared. You must delete any files that you have for which you do not have the copyright holder's permission. The file that got him busted: Braveheart.

Actual news*

*:based on actual news

Style Scout: Laura Whitley

Style Scout: Chetan Michie

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Sunday, August 12

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Civil libertines

A preview of The North vs. South Festival

If Wakarusa is Lawrence's answer to Bonaroo, then North vs. South is our town's version of the Pitchfork Music Festival. More than 70 acts spanning the independent rock, alt-country and folk scenes converge in Lawrence for three wild nights at three downtown venues. North vs. South mastermind Mike McCoy stopped by our podcast studio to offer his picks to click and discuss the evolution of the festival, now in its fourth year.

Wednesday, August 8

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Party fowl

Lawrence duo Waterfowl Habitat keeps it cool with dancefloor hottness

You get what you give at Waterfowl Habitat show. Dance like a banshee and Dylan Hoffman and Tanner Allen will join you; stare blankly at the floor and they will too. But with dirty-bass beats straight outta the Daft Punk camp and gnarly guitar riffs to make Prince proud, dancing is habitual at the clubs Waterfowl inhabits.

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'Black Jack' puts history onstage

It's a case of history repeating, but this time someone else is in charge. "The Ballad of Black Jack" returns this week to the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H., where it had a moderately successful run last year as the kick-off to Civil War on the Western Frontier activities.

Monday, August 6

XBLA Review Roundup

The Xbox Live Arcade continues its hot streak with several solid titles in the last couple of months. Here's a look at some of the most recent additions.

Sunday, August 5

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Shock and draw!

Area 'toon-smiths put the funny back in funny-pages with "Larrytown Laffs"

As a medium for meaningful commentary, comics have often ranked somewhere between Bazooka Joe gum-wrappers and Larry Flynt's used tissues on the social respectability scale.

Saturday, August 4

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Christian music superstar headed to Overbrook

Sean Donnelly was as surprised as anyone when someone representing Christian recording artist Rebecca St. James called his small-town church, asking if she could sing there. "Rebecca St. James is one of the biggest stars in Christian music," Donnelly says. "We didn't expect it. It was out of the blue."

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The higher power of Addiction

KU professor takes aim at 'religious right' and liberals who enable them in new book

More than anything, Robert Minor views his new book as cultural commentary. But he hopes it serves another role. "It's sort of like an intervention," he says. The Kansas University professor's eighth book, "When Religion is an Addiction," may become his most controversial.

Friday, August 3

'Bourne' best of prequel summer

All along, they've been calling this the summer of threes - you know how "they" can be, putting things into tidy little boxes. And they focused mainly on the ballyhooed blockbusters that came out at the beginning of the summer: third installments in the "Spider-Man," "Shrek" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchises.

Wednesday, August 1

Review: NCAA Football 08 (PS3)

The same people that buy NCAA and Madden every year will buy them again this year. The people that stay away from these games because of their high cost and marginal "improvements" will once again steer clear.

Review: Super Mario Strikers Charged (Wii)

Despite the entertaining online gameplay, it gets old very fast if you're playing single-player. The A.I. isn't developed enough, and is either terrible or terribly cheap.