Stories for November 2007


Tuesday, November 27

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Review: Uncharted (PS3)

Uncharted doesn't introduce anything revolutionary or brilliant that hasn't been seen before in gaming, but what is there is solid. And most importantly, it's a blast from beginning to end.

Review Roundup 11/27

We take a look at the games of late November.

Monday, November 26

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Bad ass Christmas gift guide

A very special gift guide, from Lawrence with love...

Woman in business casual navigates tiny, rodeo-clown car through shopping mall best she can, bumping into a throng of clone-like shoppers (choice of car is for comedic effect). Irritating Christmas music blares (think Mannheim Steamroller). Voiceover (tired, exasperated voice): "I don't know what to buy." Woman passes Helzberg Diamonds, Foot Locker, Macy's, etc., all with lines snaking out the doors of shoppers burdened with tons of bags (all labeled "SHOP"). Creepy salesman-types with dollar signs for eyes can be seen in the stores hovering over cowering shoppers. She is about to give up. Then, at the very end of the mall, she catches a glimpse of the store.

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Schoolhouse Rock

The New Amsterdams gear up for the Lawrence Community Nursery School benefit

Some days, simply waking up can slay the most capable of adults. Some of us may only have work to manage, and that can definitely be enough-but we're not Matt Pryor. Since forming The New Amsterdams in 2000, the band has managed to release nearly an album a year, whether under that name or under the moniker of the kid-centric version of the Ams, the Terrible Twos. Add three young children to Pryor's family, two large dogs and commitments to the Little Red Schoolhouse-suddenly 'busy' becomes relative.

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Style Scout: Hetal Shah

Style Scout: Craig Calkins


When news happens:

The universally admired Peace Lilly that occupied the apartment building on the corner of 17th and Ohio streets has gone missing.

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Kill the Humbug

This holiday season, give the gift of love

Yes, it's curtains for Thanksgiving, and the long-drawn period generally referred to as the holidays has dawned. So many traps to fall into this time of year. Avoid them at all costs.

Actual News*

*based on actual news

Images linger in grim 'No Country for Old Men'

Ever since their first movie, 1985's low budget neo-noir "Blood Simple," the writing and directing team known as the Coen brothers have always been visual stylists-not in a Baz Luhrmann kind of way (that is, with rich art direction , as did in "Moulin Rouge") kind of way, but more a la Gregg Toland (deliberate camera placement and lighting schemes). Over the years, this style has become less showy and more evocative. In their latest film, "No Country for Old Men," they prove they can hold an audience in thrall with the simplest of cinema's elements-a memorable image.

Friday, November 23

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Party central

Humor Web site ranks KU among top schools with the least 'class'

While pundits argue this week whether the Jayhawks football team deserves its national BCS ranking, there is another position attained by Kansas University that is equally debatable. According to, KU has squeaked into the top 50 of its "Power Rankings" list. The popular humor Web site devotes its studies to determining what school prospective students should choose if their desire for fun outweighs that of academic demand. KU placed at No. 49.

Thursday, November 22

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Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

It doesn't matter if you're an 8 year-old who's new to games or a 30 year-old who used to play the Super Mario Bros. arcade cabinet at the local pizza place. This is how videogames are supposed to be.

Tuesday, November 20

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Greetings from Missourah!

An audio travelogue through the Blow Me State

Presented by the Missouri Tourism Board (formerly the Grand Council of Aryan Confederacy)

Review Roundup 11/20

We take a look at the games of November.

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On a Limb

Ample Branches digs deep and unearths the "True Vine"

From the home studio of a tiny two-bedroom apartment at 11th and Tennessee to local stages, Ample Branches has grown into one of Lawrence's brightest new bands during the course of a busy year.

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Wakarusa music festival considers venue change

Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival promoters are exploring their options. "We're investigating the opportunities of places to host the event is all, and we've done that annually, so there's really no news until after Thanksgiving probably," said Brett Mosiman, the founder of the festival, conducted the past three Junes at Clinton State Park.

Sunday, November 18

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Call of Duty 4 (PS3, 360, PC)

It's very difficult to find fault in this masterpiece. It may be short, and it may not offer split-screen online support, but I consider this to be the most polished first-person shooter I've ever played.

Thursday, November 15

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Review: Naruto Uzamaki Chronicles 2 (PS2)

When this game doesn't have you mashing buttons to accomplish one of the few available combos, it has you trying to decipher its vague mission objectives, which are usually limited to arrows placed intermittently around the map

'Beowulf' manages heroic effort

It is oddly appropriate that the oldest surviving epic poem in the English language is the inspiration for the latest in motion picture technology. Director Robert Zemeckis tells the 13-century-old tale of Beowulf, the original larger-than-life Anglo-Saxon hero, by using equally larger-than-life cinematic techniques.

Tuesday, November 13

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Deep focus

Free State filmmaker sets sights on future in cinema

Quinn Brabender eats an entire bag of candy, chugs 12 bottles of Jones Soda and a cup of coffee, and passes out on his computer keyboard. He wakes up 36 hours later, disoriented, in bed. "What time is it?" he mumbles, checking his alarm clock. Brabender gasps. "I'm wasting valuable experimentation time!" he shrieks, stumbling to his feet and rushing out of the room.

Monday, November 12

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The Cookbook Anarchists

A punk pot-luck of vegans, oogles and ghosts at DIY music pad, the Haunted Kitchen

If you're a "scumfu*k" or an "oogle," best just keep on moving. The Haunted Kitchen doesn't need your type spoiling the delicate bouillabaisse of face-smashing hardcore music and cruelty-free vegan cuisine. The punk ethic of this house venue on the corner of 19th and Louisiana burns bright enough to sear a good-sized loaf of Tofurkey with sheer indignation. Don't let the decomposing porch and beer-soaked dilapidation fool you-while those who live here aren't very passionate about property value, they're dead serious when it comes to the manifesto of the Haunted Kitchen.

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The Pedaljets make their return with a new take on an old album

Everyone's got at least one thing in his or her life that could use a serious redo, but in most circumstances physics or the irreversible march of time renders that dream impossible. One can't take back a bad relationship or a bad decision-but in the case of the Pedaljets, the members have gotten their chance at a big do-over for their second album, which in large part led to their breakup in 1990.

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Wayne's World

A friendship, a photo exhibit, a way of life

Now this is a fascinating subject. Screw waterfalls, birds, leaves, trees, doors, houses and other lame subjects. Let us have a bunch of pictures of Wayne Propst lining the walls of the Bourgeois Pig. Perfecto. For those who are unfamiliar with Wayne Propst, he is the kind of person one might describe as a "local character." He lives on a farm north of town. He trades junk, fixes things, makes art, talks loudly at the Bourgeois Pig. He was a compadre of William S. Burroughs. He is difficult to define. This is why I asked him to define himself in a capsule.

Barack Chalk Jayhawk

How Barack Obama's road to the White House leads through Kansas

Barack Obama's presidential campaign had a novel idea: How about we run a truly national campaign and not treat smaller states-say, like Kansas-as the electoral equivalent of an inbred cousin who no one speaks of and is only brought out of the basement once every four years.

Actual news*

*...based on actual news

Style Scout: Kenta Imai

Style Scout: Courtney Smith

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The Mind of Moldenke

How Lawrence writer David Ohle became legend

The legend of David Ohle was born in 1972 with the paragraph, "Moldenke lived the hainted life. As a child he was kept in a crumbled brick of a house where thick windows moaned in their frames through summerfall and gathered ice by winter." This was on page 98 of the January issue of Esquire, opposite a surrealist painting of a dismembered hand holding a telephone receiver on a stool swarming with insects. The story was called "Some Moldenke," a strange, fragmentary piece starring a listless, almost translucent observer in a bizarro world.

Sunday, November 11

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Guitar Hero III (360, Wii, PS3, PS2)

When it comes down to it, you'll love the majority of Guitar Hero III if you've been a fan of the last two installments. If they weren't your type of game before, there's nothing that will change your mind with this one.

Friday, November 9

'Lions' as subtle as a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant

Is this a movie or an 88-minute civics lecture?

KU grad's documentary to air on Showtime

It's Showtime for K. Ryan Jones. The 2007 Kansas University grad has taken a documentary he made as a film school project and sold it to the Showtime network. Jones' "Fall From Grace" will air at 9 p.m. Dec. 4 on Sunflower Broadband Channel 421.

Scary urban premise botched in dull 'P2'

It's a common phobia, fodder for many an urban legend: What horror is waiting for me in that empty parking garage tonight?

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Post position

Kansas guitarist Andy McKee plucked from obscurity by YouTube audience of millions

Last November, Andy McKee decided to post one of his songs on YouTube. The Topeka guitarist had recorded a live-in-the-studio take of his original "Drifting," so he tossed it onto the video-sharing Web site. McKee didn't have to wait long before that minor action became a career-changing event. "By December, YouTube featured it on the front page. Man, I couldn't believe it. A solo, instrumental, acoustic guitar tune - who would have thought?" says McKee, who was making a living teaching guitar lessons.

Thursday, November 8

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Couch witnesses relationship revolution in student's play

In Lawrence, gaudy couches - worn with age and perched on front porches - are synonymous with college students. "Around April or May, they always end up on the curb and get thrown away. You just kind of wonder, 'How long has that couch been around? Why did they throw it away?' And you put it in the back of your truck, and now it's in your living room," says Adam Lott, a Kansas University senior.

Monday, November 5

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If the Slipper Fits

KJHK's Farmers Ball seeks local music Cinderella (the fairy tale, not the band)

If one were looking for an abbreviated introduction to Lawrence's best new bands, KJHK's Farmer's Ball would be the ideal place to start. The competitive aspect of the annual battle-of-the-bands usually takes a backseat to the camaraderie, which is usually in full effect despite a wide breadth of musical styles. This year's crop features eight wet-behind-the-ears acts that will go toe-to-toe in preliminary bouts Thursday and Friday and seek a knockout blow at Saturday's finals at The Bottleneck. We harvested the freshest tracks from all eight ballers into a podcast preview of the 2007 Farmer's Ball.

The Little Stories that Could

New fiction by writer and KU professor Deb Olin Unferth

KU assistant professor Deb Olin Unferth had a book of short-short stories called "Minor Robberies" published by McSweeney's in September. It is included with two other books of short-short stories, by Dave Eggers and Sarah Manguso, in a collection called "One Hundred and Forty Five Stories in a Small Box." It's awesome. You read one, and it's so short, you're like, "I'll just read one more." And then it's 2 a.m. and you've finished the book before you know it. And it fits in your pocket (if you have a big pocket). Unferth is originally from Chicago and came to KU in 2005 to teach creative writing.

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War Torn

The stories of two couples and the war in Iraq

We wanted to do a story about people in the war. Something we could write from Lawrence. We decided to focus on relationships. After trying to track down a few couples in the past few weeks, we got responses from two pairs of people. The first is a couple that broke up over the course of working on the story. The second is a couple that made it work despite dating for only two weeks before one of them went to Iraq. We also interviewed a Kansas State professor who studies military relationships and is retired from the Army Reserves. Here's what we got.

Actual news*

*...based on actual news

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

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Style Scout: Amber Finley

Style Scout: Derek Huff

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Zack & Wiki (Wii)

Considering the Wii's demographic, I'd have to imagine that a large amount of "casual" and younger gamers will pick up this game. They might not be prepared for the experience, however, as some of the puzzles are very difficult.

Friday, November 2

Review Roundup 11-2: War and Vision Enhancement

We take a look at the games of early November.

Review: Tomb Raider Anniversary (Xbox 360)

This series gained a great deal of fame thanks to the cover girl and the films, but I feel it never really had the gameplay to back up the popularity. Anniversary, if nothing else, is an effective reminder of this.

Contradictions abound in Ridley Scott's 'American Gangster'

By titling his new epic look at the late 60s/early 70s heroin trade in New York City "American Gangster," director Ridley Scott is already asking us to consider what it is that makes the story of rags-to-riches drug peddler Frank Lucas and uncorrupted cop Richie Roberts so uniquely American. But its the even-handedness of his storytelling that makes that question so hard to answer.

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Funny outfit

Second City brings improv comedy legacy to Lawrence

The phrase "improvisational sketch comedy" often proves confusing. So Tim Baltz has to explain to folks what he does onstage. "Sometimes people are like, 'Great. Let's hear your standup,'" Baltz says.