Stories for May 2007


Sunday, May 27

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Review: Winx - Join the Club (PSP)

I have never seen a game where it has been so transparent that even the developers probably loathed the product they were making. If you have a daughter that is a fan of the series, she probably doesn't need videogames to dumb her down any further.

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Revisiting 'Grandma'

Show focuses on Elizabeth Layton's art legacy

Elizabeth "Grandma" Layton realized her dark history of depression, and the fact she started drawing at age 67, would draw people to her art. But she never wanted her story to be the focus of attention.

Saturday, May 26

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Talk of the sidewalk

New batch of sculptures arrives downtown

When she's not in her studio, Lawrence artist Jan Gaumnitz spends most of her spare time in the garden. So it's not surprising that a lot of her work is inspired by nature. "We're kind of out in the country and I'm a big gardener, so I like to be outdoors as much as I can," she says.

Friday, May 25

Bloated 'Pirates' three-quel the worst one yet

The third installment of the box office record-breaking "Pirates" series is an extentson of the overstuffed second film, "Dead Man's Chest," in every way. "At World's End" is driven forward not of its own will, but by the impossibly tangled mess of storylines set up in last year's movie. If number two was a scorned middle child fighting for attention, then "Pirates" 3 is a perpetual motion machine-not just because it seems to be on autopilot, but also because it seems like it will never end.

KU filmmaker just misses being invited 'on the lot'

It's hard enough to make a movie. It's that much more difficult knowing that millions of viewers are scrutinizing every decision along the way. That's the premise of "On the Lot," a new Fox reality show produced by Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett.

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Popular Web site showcases best, worst and quirkiest of musical obscurities

I've found that YouTube is the greatest source available for instantly locating the highlights, lowlights and most bizarre musical junctures in recorded history. That's largely because anybody can post anything - thus the "you" in YouTube - which often results in amateur moments of sheer audacity.

Thursday, May 24

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Review: Steel Horizon (DS)

The DS suffers from a significant draught in the strategy game department. Enter Steel Horizon from Konami, a turn-based strategy game that captures all the planning and methodology of the genre, but leaves out most of the fun.

Tuesday, May 22

Review: Pocket Pool (PSP)

In addition to the crappy porn, the game also includes the option to play against friends on a wifi connection. If you have friends that actually want to take advantage of this feature, you probably shouldn't be friends with them.

Newspaper group honors

Suburban Newspapers of America on Monday recognized as Best Local Community Website for 2007. The site, which includes Lawrence Journal-World content and is produced by The World Company, was one of four first-place winners in the category reserved for best community Web sites of the year.

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A farewell to art

Students, faculty saddened by fate of murals slated to join rubble pile at South Junior High

When Steve Bagwell was a student at South Junior High School in the late 1990s, he began to treat the distinctive murals that filled the halls as a kind of global positioning system.

Monday, May 21

'Waitress' a cynically cute slice of pie

At the heart of the new indie romantic comedy "Waitress" are the creative concoctions of its title character, Jenna, played by Keri Russell. Pies have always been the truest expressions of her soul, and the patrons at Joe's Pie Diner look forward to each delectable new recipe.

Style Scout: Johnny Saunders

Style Scout: Zoe Marinovich

TOWNIE GUIDE TO: Cycling Lawrence

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Independence Day

Veteran Lawrence band celebrates debut 'Fourth of July On the Plains'

After some five years of playing around town, Fourth of July is finally preparing to release its first full-length album. The wait paid off in the form of a supremely rehearsed sextet that laid down a vibrant collection of tracks full of harmonies, keyboards, horns and tambourines.

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At the crossroads

With plans for a new development stalled and new property owners in place, the fate of Yello Sub at the edge of KU's campus is again up in the air and The Crossing could be the next to change hands.

Three in the afternoon. Finals week. The Crossing. Sun shines in through the open door. Tom Petty plays on the speakers. Behind the bar, the bartender does the sudoku with her legs crossed. Students fresh from a final play beer pong. All seems right with the world.

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Aaaaaaaaaaaa-a-a-a skydiving story

I have never been on a plane ride that didn't come with free orange juice and pretzels. I certainly haven't been on a plane like this-small, loud, with three crazy passengers packed in like pigs headed to the slaughterhouse along with the pilot and me.

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Sum of All Things

Ben Ahlvers bridges disparate worlds with sculpture that's <em>anything</em> but 'whimsical'

Ben Ahlvers grew up in Granite City, Ill., a blue-collar town northeast of St. Louis. Like all manufacturing towns, it's struggling: the community profile web site glosses over the "in transition" downtown culture and promotes the ease of parking at Wal-Mart.

Actual news*

*...based on actual news

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Art attack

Student artists rack up awards at prestigious competition

Student artists at Free State and Lawrence high schools have been catching the eyes of art contest judges this semester. Both schools fared well at the regional level of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and three LHS seniors in photography - Alyssa Thiel, Dylan Smith and Kristin Penny - won national honors and are invited to New York in June to accept their awards at Carnegie Hall.

Sunday, May 20

Review: The Kinetiks, the Volunteers and the Also Rans

The Kinetiks' reputation for a fierce and playful live set was enough to pack the dance floor at the Bottleneck. Last night, new KU grads forgot about the upcoming job hunt, school loan payments and mapping out the rest of their lives. Instead, they lived in the moment; dancing to the loud, wild and spunky sounds that helped them survive their college years.

Saturday, May 19

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A is for artist

'Abstract Alphabet' spells new direction for Lawrence creator

Artist Stephen Johnson has done a lot of alliterative brainstorming lately. Take, for instance, what he came up with for the letter "I." "Indoors, in an industrial interior, is an installation of individually illuminated, isolated, immobilized immersed and inverted identical insoluble imitation ice cream cones."

940 dance company concert worth the wait

Thursday night's make-up of the unforeseen cancellation of the 940 dance company's May 11 performance at the Lawrence Arts Center was worth the wait. Indeed, it's a shame that the troupe's exciting "New Works Concert" won't be seen again.

Friday, May 18

'Shrek the Third' runs out of inspiration

"Shrek the Third" finds the post-modern fairy tale gags coming fast and furious as always, but sidekicks Donkey and Puss in Boots have little to do and Shrek is saddled with a passive storyline. Barely kept afloat by its adult references, the movie falls flat with a lame ending where we all learn a middling lesson.

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Replay respect

Esquire dubs Lawrence hot spot one of the best bars in America

A record store employee playing pinball, a grad student reading in the corner and a married couple smoking on the back patio may not be aware that they are perched within the best bar in Kansas.

Same 'Shrek' gags ogre and ogre

"Shrek" was always more for the parents than the tykes we bring along with us to the multiplex. We sit with the kids, and they watch us giggle at this cheap shot at Disney or that riff on high schoolers. And the teeny target audience scratches its head and wonders what the joke is.

Thursday, May 17

Band gears up for rolling gig in annual art car parade

With song titles like "Minivan Mama," "In High Gear" and "Hammer Down," surely The Global Warmers were destined to play in an art car parade. The Lawrence band, which describes its genre as automobile-based rock, will perform on the back end of a decapitated 1991 Chevy Suburban during Saturday's Art Tougeau Parade.

Tuesday, May 15

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Dental arts

KU art students spruce up dental clinic for the poor, uninsured

Don't expect to see the typical motivational posters you might find in other dental offices - the type that might show a kitty hanging from a branch with the caption "Hang in there!" This is interactive, multidimensional, educational art designed specifically for this location.

Monday, May 14

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Leaders of the new school

Lawrence Letterday joins its heroes building up Lawrence's music scene

When Lawrence Letterday formed two years ago, they figured they'd try to launch their musical careers with a bang-by opening for the Get Up Kids. So they called someone who they thought could arrange a show with the celebrated local group.

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Eyes of the storm

Network of Lawrence storm chasers pursue the rush of severe weather across the country

Before the tornado struck Greensburg, as the looming mother storm that would spawn it cut its way through southwestern Kansas, Dick McGowan tried to stay as close to the action as he could. He watched as the supercell spat down a little twister that danced on the ground and was gone. The second act was a skinny rope tornado that morphed into a larger stovepipe.

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Local theater prodigy stages off-broadway camp-fest "Zanna, Don't!"

When asked how his butterflies are doing on the eve of opening night, director Steven Eubank grudgingly admits, "They are accumulating nicely, thank you." You would think that this young theater savant-who staged his first production at the ripe old age of 14- might have already, at 23, mastered the jitters.

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Ain't No Fortunate Sons

The Only Children unveil "Keeper of Youth"

Composed largely in the shack-wacky confines of Winnipeg, Manitoba, The Only Children's second LP "Keeper of Youth" is a record that questions the value of rock-n-roll as much as it tenuously embraces it.

Actual news*

*...based on actual news

Wherein we peruse the news that was new last week.

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Dan Luckey


Has been in Chicago the past eight months but is visiting Lawrence, where she lived from fourth grade onward.

Spider-Man takes a fall but remains on top

Even when he takes a huge fall, Spider-Man comes out on top. Sony's "Spider-Man 3" took in $60 million in its second weekend, a hefty 60 percent drop from its record debut a week earlier but good enough to easily outdistance the competition and remain the No. 1 movie, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Friday, May 11

'28 Weeks Later' abandons ideas for glum action

Disappointment is always felt more deeply after there is a hint of good things to come. The first clue that the zombie sick-fest "28 Weeks Later" would be an inferior sequel to "28 Days Later" comes after a promising, slam-bang opening.

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Tribal tradition

Haskell Cultural Center offers 'gateway' to student legacy

Passers-by may see the Haskell Cultural Center and Museum as simply a lone wooden building on campus, but to Lori Tapahonso it represents the "the gateway to Haskell." "One of the blessings of having a cultural center is our alumni have a place where they can come back to and reminisce in a way that helps strengthen our students," says Tapahonso, public information officer at Haskell Indian Nations University.

Humanity struggles in '28 Weeks Later'

The horror sequel "28 Weeks Later" has the most arresting, gruesome and unnerving opening 11 minutes in movie-going memory. The follow-up to the "Britain Wiped Out by Rage-aholic Zombies" thriller "28 Days Later" briefly and economically introduces us to a small clutch of survivors, walled-up, "Night of the Living Dead"-style, in a remote farmhouse.

Tuesday, May 8

Mini reviews: TV on the DVD

DVDs are a wonderful thing. Not only are we able to watch clear transfers of classic films, but it seems that every TV show under the sun is now available for hours and hours of couch potato pleasure. Need something to watch on a long hangover Sunday in front of the TV? Try renting or buying one of these box sets of stellar shows you may have missed...

Monday, May 7

About A Boyda

Congresswoman Nancy Boyda rises from long-shot candidate to prominent Democratic freshman

When last we spoke with Nancy Boyda, she was waging a quixotic campaign to represent Kansas' 2nd Congressional District-including Lawrence-as a grass-roots Democrat in a blood red state.

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It Is Well With My Soul

KU religion professor Paul Mirecki rebounds from controversy through the power of Rock and Roll

About a year and a half ago, Paul Mirecki made international news. Scourged by Christian fundamentalists for his derisive opinions of those lobbying for creationism in state science standards, and chastised by the University of Kansas for his incautious expression of those views, Mirecki resigned the chair of KU's religious studies department.

Actual news*

*...based on actual news

Wherein we peruse the news that was new last week.

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Crowded House

Behind the doors of Lawrence's communal menagerie

These people are strange. There's the guy wearing the utility belt, and the guy lifting up layers of fungus in a pot and asking if you'd like to drink the liquid beneath, and the gals giggling so loudly as they sing "Ring around the rosey!" like maniacs. These people live together in co-op houses that are not exactly clean but not exactly dirty.

TOWNIE GUIDE TO: Workin' on your fitness

Blake Miller isn't exactly a townie, having grown up in the suburban wilds of Kansas City. But he's spent the last four years in Lawrence, where he runs his own web design company and devotes much time to bicepular hugeness.

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Anthony Brothers

'Spider-Man 3' shatters weekend record

Spider-Man caught just about everyone in his web. The superhero's latest adventure, "Spider-Man 3," smashed box-office records with $148 million in its first three days, according to studio estimates Sunday. That put it ahead of the previous record debut of $135.6 million set last summer by "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

Sunday, May 6

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Review: Spider-man 3 (360)

Unfortunately, this once-entertaining franchise has lost its luster and become a tedious chore of an experience. There are just too many aspects of the game that clearly needed more time in development.

'Spider-Man 3' breaks record with $59 million first day

Hollywood's biggest superhero now has the biggest box-office debut. "Spider-Man 3" took in a record $59 million domestically on opening day Friday, breaking the previous all-time high of $55.8 million for "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" in its first day last summer.

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Reading the fine print

Exhibit, book chronicle history of retired KU art professor's works on paper

When Emily Stamey shows Roger Shimomura's early prints to people who know the artist for his paintings, she always gets the same reaction. "They say, 'Oh my gosh. He was doing that 20 years before I thought he was doing that," says Stamey, a doctoral student in art history at Kansas University.

Saturday, May 5

Paper in the park not destined for trash can

All Joel Cooper needs to make art is a piece of paper. Hundreds of folds later, and he ends up with complex geometric shapes, stars and even faces. "That's basically what I do," the Lawrence artist says. "I fold paper."

Friday, May 4

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The beat goes on

Local music promoter adjusts to life after heart transplant

Eight months ago, Merle Zuel showed up to his job at Knuckleheads Saloon in Kansas City, Mo., where he splits time working the door and booking bands. "I got the money from the bartender, walked back across the room, started to feel weird, then I hit the ground," Zuel recalls. "I lost consciousness and went into a fatal heart rhythm. But my defibrillator brought me back around."

Midwest icon Bill Lynch discovers how to 'live the music'

Bill Lynch is a Midwest icon. And the musician is going to prove it this weekend. The singer-guitarist returns to his former hometown, toting his new backing band, the Midwest Icons. The quartet features legendary drummer James Gadson (Bill Withers, Paul McCartney, Beck), bassist Rick Moors (Bonedaddys) and multi-instrumentalist John Hoke (Rod Piazza) - all products of the Kansas City area.

Thursday, May 3

Lively 'Guys and Dolls' a gamble-free theater experience

If - heaven forbid - the entire University Theatre cast of "Guys and Dolls" got laryngitis, and the orchestra didn't show up, the show would still be worth watching. The production, which opened last weekend and continues with shows tonight, Friday and Saturday at Kansas University's Crafton-Preyer Theatre, is in many ways a spectacle.

Exciting 'Spider-Man 3' juggles multiple storylines

After two movies of reluctant hero Peter Parker learning that "with great power comes great responsibility," it is a nice change of pace that "Spider-Man 3" is about something else entirely-forgiveness. It also takes a little bit of the audience's forgiveness to accept this third installment as a worthy successor to what remains the best superhero movie ever made.

Wednesday, May 2

XBLA Review Roundup

Another collection of mini-reviews of the last few months of Xbox Live Arcade titles

Tuesday, May 1

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Material magic

KU grad revives centuries-old building method

A Lawrence resident has taken an interest in cob. Not the thing that corn grows on, but a building material. Michael Crouch began experimenting with the material composed of clay, sand and straw after reading a magazine article about it 10 years ago. Crouch described the clay as "kind of a magical substance." As opposed to dirt, which would just wash away in the rain, the clay keeps its shape and can absorb water over a period of months or years.