Entries from blogs tagged with “Lawrence”
New ‘Suicide Squad’ posters have ‘El Diablo’ co-creator Jai Nitz’s seal of approval: ‘I’m ecstatic,’ says Lawrence writer
Jai Nitz included. The Lawrence resident, KU alumnus and celebrated comic book writer, for those not in the know, co-created El Diablo, a member of the titular group of DC Comics antiheroes tasked by the government with special missions in exchange for commuted prison sentences.
His reaction to the posters? "Ecstatic," Nitz, who says he wasn't involved in the design process, tells the Journal-World.
"I didn't even know if my character would get his own poster. When I saw it, I did a back flip, because it's awesome," Nitz says. "I actually talked to DC today about, 'How many (posters) can I get?'"
At the urging of the powers that be, Nitz says he's not allowed to divulge much at this point, though he did confirm being "being contacted by DC" about using his character in the film.
We'll be sure to follow up with Nitz as time inches closer to the movie's release date, slated for this summer. In the meantime, he'll be geeking out along with his fellow "Suicide Squad" fans when the new trailer premieres during "DC Films Presents: Dawn of the Justice League" special on The CW, 8:30 p.m. Lawrence time.
"I can't wait," Nitz says.
Update: Watch the new trailer below.
The Lawrence Percolator is now accepting entries for its annual love-themed art show.
Titled "Group Love," this year's show encourages artists of every medium. Organizers ask that participants expand upon the four categories of love established by the ancient Greeks (romance, friendship, family and unconditional) and "delve into deeper themes of love through creative exploration."
Work will be accepted between noon and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Percolator, 913 Rhode Island St. Having trouble spotting it? Look for the yellow building with the green awnings in the alleyway behind the Lawrence Arts Center.
Those who can't make the scheduled time are encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Group Love" runs Jan. 29-Feb. 21 at the Percolator.
I am a “Star Wars” fan like my father before me. My bedroom walls aren’t plastered with the posters, and my shelves aren’t lined with the action figures preserved in their original packaging, but I do enjoy the films. Who am I kidding? I love them. Oh, and I did go through a stage during my teen years in which I spent many late night hours reading the Expanded Universe novels.
Up until the development of “The Force Awakens” and the sequel trilogy, any book, graphic novel, video game or television show that took the story beyond the film installments was a part of the Expanded Universe. I collected many of the books between high school and college, and though I have sold most of them since, there are a few still sitting on my personal bookshelf.
With the new direction of “The Force Awakens” and the sequels, though, these novels have been rebranded as “Legends.” All that I grew up reading and learning about the Star Wars universe has now been declared non-canon. The characters and planets don’t exist, and the events never happened when it comes to the new storyline; the reset button has been pushed. A part of me felt like this was the equivalent of Grand Moff Tarkin blowing up Alderaan!
That’s not to say I didn’t appreciate the new movie and that I won’t read any of the new releases. However, I feel like the Expanded Universe was the Star Wars of my generation. Where my father experienced the saga for the first time on the big screen, I first experienced it through the pages of those novels. The following were some of my favorites:
Published after “The Phantom Menace” came to theaters, “Rogue Planet”* by Greg Bear takes place three years after the events of the prequel. Young Anakin Skywalker, now a Jedi Apprentice, and Obi-Wan Kenobi are sent on a mission to Zonama Sekot, an outer rim planet where organic, living ships are being grown. Racing others with more sinister reasons for wanting access to these ships, the Jedi Knight and his apprentice encounter a disturbance in the force unlike any other on the mysterious planet. For me, this book served as temporary filler for the next film installment, and I appreciated the chance to learn more details about Anakin's past that wasn't shown in the movies.
“The Courtship of Princess Leia”
Written by Dave Wolverton, “The Courtship of Princess Leia”* answered many fans' questions about the circumstances which led to the marriage of Han Solo and Princess Leia. Taking place roughly four years after “Return of the Jedi”, the Alliance seeks the help of the Hapes consortium, a group of high-tech worlds, in order to successfully survive against the remnants of the Empire. They're happy to offer their assistance; however, there's a catch: Leia must marry the Queen Mother's son, Prince Isolder. Clearly unhappy with this, Han Solo tricks Leia into accompanying him to the remote planet, Dathomir, where he tries to win her heart and convince her not to marry.
“The Thrawn Trilogy”
“Heir to the Empire,” “Dark Force Rising” and “The Last Command”* by Timothy Zahn were the first Star Wars novels that I read. Roughly five years after the events of “Return of the Jedi,” the heroes of the Rebel Alliance go up against the forces of Grand Admiral Thrawn, one of the most dangerous leaders of what’s left of the Empire since Emperor Palpatine’s death. Thrawn enlists the help of Dark Jedi Joruus C'baoth, who makes it his personal goal to seduce Luke, Leia Organa Solo and her expected twins to the Dark Side and to make them become his apprentices. I - along with many fans - imagined this trilogy to become the long awaited sequels.
“The New Jedi Order: Traitor”
Taking place 20 to 30 years after the last movie, “The New Jedi Order” series introduced a brand new threat to the New Republic and the galaxy: the Yuuzhan Vong, a race of extra-galactic religious zealots who happen to exist outside of the Force. In Matthew Stover's contribution to the series, “Traitor,” Han and Leia's son, Jacen, has been captured by the Yuuzhan Vong. In the care of the mysterious creature, Vergere, Jacen is exposed to a new way of experiencing the Force — one that could lead him to darkness or play a key role in saving the galaxy. Out of the entire NJO series, I appreciated this one the most, because of its look at good and evil and what lies in between.
- Noted titles aren’t available in the library’s collection, but you can request them through interlibrary loan.
— William Otten writes for the Lawrence Public Library.
The MLK Adult Community Choir on Sunday night kicked off a series of Lawrence events celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
Journal-World photographer John Young captured photos and audio of the choir's performance in the Gospel Music Explosion at Lawrence Free Methodist Church.
Watch the slideshow below ...
... and find more images from the event in this photo gallery.
Beginners are welcome at the Watkins Museum of History’s introduction to genealogy class Saturday.
Slated for 10 a.m. to noon at the museum, 1047 Massachusetts St., the class will be led by genealogy veterans Richard Branham, a professor of industrial design at Kansas University, and his wife, Alisa Branham, a licensure officer at KU’s School of Education.
The two, who boast about six decades of research in family history, will provide participants with the basics in genealogy sleuthing, including which tools to use and how to recognize credible information.
Registered participants will also receive materials to peruse before the class. There’s no deadline to register, but the class will cap at 30, says Abby Pierron Magariel, education and programs coordinator at the Watkins.
To register, visit www.watkinsmuseum.org or email email@example.com with your name, email address and phone number. The cost is $10 per person or $5 for Douglas County Historical Society members.
“Chi-Raq,” the latest effort from local filmmaker Kevin Willmott, opens in Lawrence today at Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts St.
Willmott, an associate professor of film and media studies at Kansas University, co-wrote and served as executive producer of the critically acclaimed satire, which tackles gun violence in Chicago’s south side. Directed by Spike Lee, the film is a modern-day take on the classic Greek comedy “Lysistrata,” in which women hold a sex strike in the hopes of forcing peace negotiations for the end of the Peloponnesian War.
Released nationwide on Dec. 4, “Chi-Raq” has drawn renewed media attention this week for its lack of 2016 Academy Award nominations in what some have pointed out as another example of #OscarsSoWhite.
The Twitter hashtag, for those not in the know, criticized the Academy Awards last year and again this week for failing to recognize films made by and/or starring people of color, Netflix’s “Beasts of No Nation,” about child soldiers in West Africa, and the N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton” being two perceived slights. (Ironically, the white screenwriters behind “Straight Outta Compton” scored its sole nomination.)
“Chi-Raq” will be shown at Liberty Hall’s main theater at 7 p.m., and at 9:30 p.m. in the little theater, until Thursday. For possible showtimes after Thursday, contact Liberty Hall at 749-1972.
The film’s star-studded cast includes Nick Cannon, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Cusack, Wesley Snipes and Teyonah Parris.
Saturday will see the premiere of “Scenarios,” a new dance piece by Lawrence Arts Center dance education resident Eleanor Goudie-Averill, at Lawrence’s Cider Gallery, 810 Pennsylvania St.
Inspired by the UK-based art duo Gilbert & George, the choreography evokes “a strange kind of time warp between Baroque classicism and comedia dell’arte and mime,” with what Goudie-Averill refers to as “Space Age-y movements.”
The Topeka native — and niece of longtime Arts Center artistic director of performing arts Ric Averill — has spent the past six months working with young dancers at the Arts Center as part of her residency.
Aside from a 2014-2015 teaching stint at the University of Iowa, where she received her master’s degree in dance performance, Goudie-Averill has spent the bulk of her career in Philadelphia, performing in several dance companies and co-directing the Stone Depot Dance Lab.
“Most of the work I’m doing at the Arts Center is basically for children and with children, which is wonderful, but I wanted to make a piece that was a bit more adult and followed the work I started with my dance company in Philadelphia,” Goudie-Averill says.
She also wanted a chance to collaborate with Juliet Remmers, whom she first met as an instructor at the Lawrence Arts Center several years ago, before the dancer and Kansas University guest lecturer’s upcoming move to Taiwan.
“Scenarios,” she explains, is actually a duet comprising two simultaneous solos, with the dancers moving between the venue’s two gallery spaces as characters reminiscent of Harlequin, the comic servant from Italy’s commedia dell’arte theatre.
Adding to the juxtaposition of time periods: live renditions of jazz standards (think Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock) by Lawrence musician Adrian Rees.
A series of four dance films, produced by Tori Lawrence + Co., will also be screened during the performance. The films, which in total run about 20 minutes, all feature a rural, Midwestern setting — one, “Man and Woman With Plants,” is a sort of “contemporary Grant Wood,” while “Husk” takes inspiration from real-life portraits of women at the Iowa Women’s Archive.
In recent years, Goudie-Averill says, “dance has been moving more toward the digital.”
“Your framing is chosen for you in a film — the way you see the body and from what angle is chosen for you,” she says, whereas at the Cider Gallery performance, “You can choose your own framing. You can be view it walking around or see it sitting or standing.”
Her goal with “Scenarios” is to create the appearance of the dancers being installed in the space. The Cider Gallery, she says, makes a perfect location to debut the piece.
“Another goal,” Goudie-Averill says, “was to make a duet that could be split into solos so if we wanted to, we could perform it alone,” whether that be here in the Midwest, in Taiwan, or in New York City — Goudie-Averill says she’s not certain where her post-residency life will take her.
Goudie-Averill and Remmers will also dance together later this month in the Arts Center’s production of “Peter and the Wolf” before Remmers heads off to Taiwan, Goudie-Averill says.
“It’s amazing, because I saw her grow up through the end of high school,” she says of her student-turned-peer. “When I was at grad school at Iowa, she came to audition there as an undergrad, and watching her, I just realized, ‘Oh, here’s an adult person, and not only an adult person but a really mature dancer.’ And we’ve become good friends.”
Live performances are scheduled for 7 and 8 p.m., with film screenings throughout the evening beginning at 6:30. Entry is a suggested donation of $5 at the door.
Road trips don’t get much stranger than the one 11-year old Gratuity Tucci must make, accompanied by a soap-eating alien named J-Lo, in this year’s Read Across Lawrence for Kids title, “The True Meaning of Smekday.”
But author and illustrator Adam Rex, whose “divinely demented” sensibility has entertained children and adults alike for over a decade, rarely stays on the map. Rex, who will join us via Skype on Feb. 27 to crown a month of events we’ve put together with the help of KU Libraries and the Friends of the Library, recently answered a few questions about his book, free copies of which will be distributed (along with pizza, but not soap) to kids at a kickoff party on Jan. 30.
DC: In “Smekday,” you write from the point of view of Gratuity Tucci, an 11-year-old who uses accessible, but not dumbed-down language, and whose intelligence is not treated as an oddity. Is Gratuity exceptional, or do you think today’s kids don’t get enough credit for how smart they really are?
AR: Both. I meet a lot of really smart, hyper-verbal 11-year-olds, and I love to watch kids make connections I wouldn’t, because their lives are full of doors that haven’t closed yet. Gratuity is smarter than most adults, myself included, and I don’t mind that being part of the heightened reality of the book. Because she isn’t an '80s movie smart kid who builds supercomputers and invents a potion that makes her cool. She’s just smart in the sense that she’s self-possessed and quick-witted.
DC: With its wide appeal across genders, “Smekday” defies categorization as a “boy book” or “girl book” to an extent rarely seen these days. Do you feel the marketing of children’s toys and media is more rigid than ever, or is it evolving to reflect more flexible gender roles?
AR: Shannon Hale writes a lot about the reception she’s received when visiting schools as a speaker — she’s been surprised to find that she’s only addressing the female students, for example; or she’ll be introduced to the whole student body as an author that the girls will love and that the boys will be expected to be on their best behavior for. I’ve visited more than a hundred schools and nothing like this has ever happened to me.
But I’m part of the problem — neither my publisher nor I ever pitched putting Gratuity on the jacket of “The True Meaning of Smekday.” I can’t speak for my publisher, but I was definitely worried that boys wouldn’t read a book with a girl on the cover, because I remember the easily embarrassed boy I was. As a kid, I liked the Black Stallion books. Then one Christmas I got “The Black Stallion and the Girl,” a book with a girl on the cover and THE WORD GIRL RIGHT IN THE TITLE and I hid that book under my bed and never read it. Even though I wanted to.
I hope my son will be smarter than I was. He’s 3, and right now he loves “The Princess in Black” as much as he loves books about trucks and bugs.
DC: What was it like to see DreamWorks adapt the book into “Home?” It must have been odd to see a figment of your imagination materialize as a Happy Meal toy.
AR: I’ve said this before elsewhere, but ... having your book get turned into a movie is like that section in L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” where the woodsman systematically chops off all his body parts one by one and replaces them with tin. But in a good way? Like maybe with the heart still intact? They made a film that has the same spirit as my book but is different in a lot of ways. So during the eight years it took from option to screen, I got used to the idea that their story was their story, and I was happy just to have played a small part in making it happen.
DC: Have you always been interested in aliens, and did you do any special research for the book?
AR: I have the same interest in aliens common to most people who grew up un-athletic in the '70s and '80s. But no, I did almost no research. My wife is an astrophysicist, so occasionally I’d ask her to validate something ridiculous I was inventing. In these moments she’d mostly point out that the ridiculous thing was ridiculous, and remind me that was okay.
— Dan Coleman is a Collection Development Librarian at the Lawrence Public Library. In his other life he is a part-time stay-at-home dad with a 3-year-old and 5-year-old, and serves as secretary on the board of Dads of Douglas County.
In 2014, Marie Kondo, Japan’s decluttering wunderkind, published a little-known and unassuming book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” As a professional cleaning consultant, Kondo developed a technique called the KonMari Method (its title derived from her first and last name) and has since become an international bestselling author. “Life-Changing Magic” has gone on to sell more than 3 million copies, as well as being published and translated in more than 30 countries. In 2015, Kondo was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.
So, if you’re looking for some motivation for making those New Year’s resolutions a reality, you’re in luck, because Kondo has released an improved, illustrated edition titled “Spark Joy.”
There's only one requirement when reading “Spark Joy” or “Life-Changing Magic,” and that is an open mind. Kondo’s terminology and methods can appear esoteric to our Western culture, yet at its center, the logic is quite simple. For example, within the context of KonMari, she repurposes the words “tidy” and “clean.” Kondo explains the distinction: “Tidying deals with objects; cleaning deals with dirt. Both are aimed at making a room look clean, but tidying means moving objects and putting them away, while cleaning means wiping and sweeping away dirt.” How is this a radical idea? Marie Kondo believes that her act of tidying should only occur once and, to be successful, it must be completed in precise order. Here are the six basic rules of tidying:
- Commit yourself to tidying up
- Imagine your ideal lifestyle
- Finish discarding first
- Tidy by category, not by location
- Follow the right order
- Ask yourself if it sparks joy
Sparking joy means asking yourself whether an item brings you happiness, and if not, you thank the item for its service, then discard.
“If you are confident that something brings you joy, keep it, regardless of what anyone else might say. Even if it isn’t perfect, no matter how mundane it might be, when you use it with care and respect, you transform it into something priceless,” says Kondo, further informing, “The Japanese believed that gods resided not only in natural phenomena such as the sea and the land but also in the cooking stove and even in each individual grain of rice, and therefore they treated all of them with reverence. ... The idea that everything is imbued with spirit would seem to be engraved in the Japanese DNA.”
“Life-Changing Magic” is exactly what the title states. It is succinct and ambitious; however, “Spark Joy” succeeds where its predecessor did not. This illustrated edition contains the same information, yet the message is delivered softer and with more empathy. Perhaps this is in part due to Kondo’s own life-changing magic of getting married and recently having a daughter. In addition to the kawaii illustrations of “Spark Joy,” Kondo details her experiences with clients in conjunction with KonMari methods. Utilizing real world examples lends her instructions a level of gravitas, leaving you with a sense of shared experience and empowerment. Also, “Spark Joy” delves into unanswered questions that “Life-Changing Magic” left behind, like what becomes of objects that may fall under a gray area, It also offers suggestions on how to joyfully arrange your cherished items in a revitalized environment.
Learning how to bake bread, which Kondo did recently, she admits, was similar to how she felt as a young girl — being overwhelmed by trying to tackle the clutter in her life, and it was then she had a revelation: “I had set the standard so high that I was petrified of failure even before I got started.”
Sound familiar? This may be how you feel when contemplating learning a new skill to declutter your own life. As Kondo states in “Life-Changing Magic,” “People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.” However, simply choosing to pick up this book means you have an urge to create change for yourself, improve your lifestyle, and achieve a level of happiness.
In parting, here are a few words from a favorite passage that not only give pause but fuel inspiration:
“If you feel anxious all the time but are not sure why, try putting your things in order. Hold each thing you own in your hands and ask yourself whether or not it sparks joy. Then cherish the ones that you decide to keep, just as you cherish yourself, so that every day of your life will be filled with joy.”
— Ilka Iwanczuk writes for the Lawrence Public Library.
In a Sunflower Showdown not unlike the football and basketball match-ups between Kansas and Kansas State, Lawrence and Manhattan will battle it out to see which city boasts the best tap water (yes, tap water) Tuesday evening at the Eldridge Hotel, 701 Massachusetts St.
The program, called "Water as Wine," will involve a presentation from the City of Lawrence Utilities Department on the process of creating safe drinking water and a blind taste test for audience members led by Eldridge executive chef Drue Kennedy.
Tuesday's event, slated for 7 p.m. in the hotel's crystal ballroom, is based on a story and taste test from the winter edition of Lawrence Magazine, which, like the Journal-World, is owned by The World Company. Readers may remember a certain Journal-World reporter (OK, it was me, you guys) participating in that taste test, though why anyone thought my knowledge of water quality to be anything more than murky at best (get it?) still escapes me.
Back then, my fellow panelists and I pretty much unanimously rated Manhattan as the worst tap water out of the six we sampled. It had a distinctly chemical taste, which is odd considering Manhattan draws from the same source as Lawrence: the Kaw River, only farther upstream.
Water as Wine will apparently throw a few different waters into the mix, and with the addition of chef Kennedy, might offer a new perspective on the Manhattan vs. Lawrence tap water showdown.
Also part of the program: Lawrence Public Library's Gwen GeigerWolfe will speak briefly about the importance of drinking water and the library's Health Spot focus for January on hydration and fitness. Free, refillable water bottles compliments of the library and Lawrence Memorial Hospital will also be on hand.
As part of Lawrence Magazine and the Lawrence Public Library's "About Lawrence..." lecture series, "Water as Wine" is free and open to the public, though doors will close after the first 60 guests.
There is a version of an ancient Chinese fable that goes like this:
The Emperor, feeling depressed, calls his court philosopher in.
“Tell me a happy story,” he says.
The philosopher says, “The grandfather dies, the father dies, the son dies.”
Naturally, the Emperor is a bit upset by this.
“You call that happy?” he says.
And, at least in my imagination, the philosopher answers with the Ancient Chinese equivalent of “Duh” then goes on to explain that this follows the natural order of things, the correct order: Any other order would be tragic.
I tell this story because I have been thinking about three books: "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed, "H is for Hawk" by Helen Macdonald, and "Losing Mum and Pup" by Christopher Buckley. And two of them are making me question the level of my filial piety.
When my mother died, I sobbed. I felt a great emptiness stretching out infinitely on my right side. I sentimentalized her scarves. I crafted an obituary and an epitaph that I felt would amuse her. I set up a scholarship in her name at the University of Michigan where she had taught for almost 30 years. I continue to send the occasional emails to her now-dead account, emails that say, “I miss you” and, last week, not quite three years after she died, I was just about to wash the dishes and I thought, "Oh, I’ll call my mother and we can chat while I do this chore," and I reached for the phone, I actually took a step toward it, my hand was actually hovering over the receiver before I was blind-sided by the recollection that she is dead. I had to spend quite a bit of time sitting at the table and sobbing after that.
But I didn’t feel the need to walk 1,000 miles by myself along the Pacific Crest Trail like Strayed did, and I didn’t feel the need to buy a goshawk and train it to kill pheasants like Macdonald did.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I confess here that I did not read either "Wild" or "H is for Hawk." But I don’t think this disqualifies me from feeling inadequate. Or, more accurately, judgmental. The depth of their reactions to the deaths of a parent, a loss that, in fact, conforms to the natural order of things, seems to me to be a bit, well, extreme.
So what’s wrong with me? Am I somehow lacking the depth of emotion that should accompany the death of a parent? The needle dropped below the “0” on my internal Adequate-o-meter.
Until I remembered "Losing Mum and Pup" by Christopher Buckley.
Christopher Buckley is a brilliant satirist, philosopher, shatterer of human pomposity, destroyer of self-aggrandizing political rhetoric. He is the only child of William F. Buckley, pundit, conservative and found of The National Review, and Pat Buckley, socialite and fundraiser, both of them larger-than-life personalities. His childhood can’t have been easy. But it’s not hard to see that he came by his own accomplishments honestly.
Both Buckley’s parents died within a year of each other, and "Losing Mum and Pup" is his tribute to them and an account of how he handled both their declines and their deaths. It’s a short book that manages to pack every emotion, every feeling into its 251 pages. And it’s honest: He neither vilifies nor glorifies either of the folks. He doesn’t sanctify them just because they’re dead. He manages to walk the fine line between the maudlin and the critical with the precise balance of a Philippe Petit walking a high wire strung between the Twin Towers. He loved his parents, of that there can be no question. He recognized and forgave them their flaws. He misses them, but he got on with his life without a tent or a hawk.
And so my conclusion is this: You don’t have to have a bad-tempered bird of prey sit on your leather-begloved arm and you don’t have to wear the wrong shoes or carry a badly packed backpack on a rugged trail in order to mourn your parents. It’s enough to think of them, to reach for the phone to call them, to weep in the car when you pass a place that meant something to you both. It is the natural order of things for parents to die first. It isn’t a tragedy. We can get on with our lives.
— Randi Hacker is a Public Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.
Ad Astra Theatre’s ‘Visions of Right,’ based on Westboro Baptist Church, to make Lawrence debut Friday
If you grew up around northeast Kansas, or anywhere in the Sunflower State, you’re probably familiar with the Westboro Baptist Church, the Phelps clan and their picketing of military funerals, gay-rights organizations and just about everything else under the sun. The church, classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, has a wide reach, and not just in Kansas, obviously.
Before the Phelpses and their followers head west to picket the Golden Globes ceremony in Los Angeles and a public high school in Redondo Beach, Calif., this weekend, its members will make a stop in Lawrence — this time to protest a play based on the Westboro Baptist Church and its controversial tactics opening Friday at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St.
Staged by the Ad Astra Theatre Ensemble and penned by award-winning Topeka playwright Marcia Cebulska, “Visions of Right” tells the story of a Topeka-bred photographer, who, spurred by tragedy, returns home from New York and finds herself — and her art — the subject of protest by the Zion Primitive Baptist Church, a fictionalized version of the Westboro congregation.
Friday marks the Lawrence debut of the play, which premiered last fall in Topeka to critical praise (the Chicago Dramatists, where Cebulska developed the script, applauded its “moments of transcendence, of epiphany, of illumination") and condemnation from the Westboro Baptist Church, calling it “blasphemous,” naturally.
“There was an appetite for more performances, and Lawrence is a different market,” says Darren Canady, an assistant professor of English at Kansas University and director of both productions. “We just really believed in the piece and what it said about life here in the Midwest and how we think about right and wrong.”
The story of the Westboro Baptist Church is inherently Midwestern, says Canady, who grew up in Topeka and, not unlike “Visions of Right” protagonist Christina, spent time in New York City before moving back to Kansas.
Christina, after hearing the attacks on her Jewish husband and gay best friend by Rev. Noah Jones, a character modeled off of Westboro Baptist leader Fred Phelps, throws herself into a crusade against the church.
But Christina ultimately begins to question her fight. No character, including Christina, as she ultimately realizes, is completely “pure,” Canady says. Instead, “Visions of Right” explores the gray area of humanity.
“The power of the play is that Rev. Jones is not presented as a boogeyman. Even if there’s not a rational basis for what he does, in his mind, he’s carrying out the will of his creator,” Canady says. “It’s easy for Christina to be dismissive of the reverend, but when she starts to wonder, ‘Why did certain things happen to me, and what has that done to my husband, my friends, my art?’ she begins to realize, ‘Maybe I’ve been looking at things in the wrong way.’”
In many ways, Christina's return to Topeka represents a misconception that Canady says he experienced with New Yorkers — that culture originates on the coasts and then makes its way to the Midwest. Not so, says Canady, who likens Kansas in particular to the country’s “laboratory.”
“Whether you’re talking about Bleeding Kansas or Brown v. Board or Westboro Baptist Church, things touch off in Kansas before they roll downhill,” he says. “The populism that’s part of the heritage in Kansas means that Kansas is at the forefront of a lot of social and political discussions.”
After the play’s premiere in Topeka, Canady and others involved with the production participated in a series of conversations with audience members.
Topics ran the gamut from personal responsibility (“How did they ignore the Phelpses as long as they did within the larger Topeka community?"), to the role of art in political and social issues, to marriage and how withholding secrets can affect relationships with those closest to us.
Canady hopes this weekend’s production will generate conversations of its own.
“I think that we talk at each other a lot, but discussion and discourse, I’m not sure of, so if actual discussion and discourse happen at all, I’m happy,” he says. “But if there were something that I’d want people to really take away from this, it’s discussion of, ‘What makes us human? What pushes us to act in the ways we do?’”
'Visions of Right' runs Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. the Lawrence Arts Center. Tickets cost $15 for adults, $12.50 for seniors and $10 for students, and can be purchased online at www.lawrenceartscenter.org or by calling 843-2787.
Big Brother is watching you.
At the Lawrence Public Library, the oft-quoted line from George Orwell’s classic novel “1984” isn’t just text from a book lining its shelves. Not this week, with a public art project exploring similar themes installed in the library’s atrium.
Created by Lawrence artists and 2015 Rocket Grant recipients D. Bryon Darby, Aaron Long, Cotter Mitchell and Aaron Paden, “Rest Assured, You Are Under Video Surveillance” will end its weeklong run at the library Saturday. (You might remember the project's appearances at the Cider Gallery and Lawrence Arts Center, among others, during last summer's Free State Festival.)
The installation involves a trio of raised platforms in which three cameras and a motion sensor are concealed among faux rocks, the whole thing resembling a deceptively serene zen garden. There, library patrons are invited to “relax” within the space under the “safe and watchful eye” of the cameras, each broadcasting their respective feeds to a publicly accessible website for (potentially) the whole world to see.
The idea, says Lawrence Public Library marketing director Heather Kearns, is to engage participants in questions about our “love/hate” relationship with surveillance as well as privacy, rights and individual liberties.
The response, so far, has been positive, she says.
“I’ve gone through over 200 handouts that I stuck out there (next to the installation) in two and a half days,” Kearns told the Journal-World earlier this week.
She’s seen parents talk to their children about “what it means to be watched and what it means to watch others,” especially with the ubiquity of cellphones and social media. A few days ago, a group of teenagers, after checking out the installation, decided to check out some books on surveillance — that was a “big one” in terms of response, she says.
Because the project deals with the duality of society’s relationship with video surveillance (the need to feel safe versus the need for privacy), interaction is encouraged. Some participants have stuck Post-It Notes over the cameras or repositioned them out of the way.
“Rest Assured, You Are Under Video Surveillance” gives participants the choice to decide whether they want to be filmed.
For what it’s worth, the artists — who can watch the live stream from inside the library in a staff workroom — aren’t bothered by it, Kearns says. They seem to be “really enjoying the interactivity,” especially the children who move the rocks around throughout each day.
“One of the things I think is really interesting is that I keep finding people congregating there who wouldn’t normally stop and stand in the atrium space,” she says. “I’m finding that people are hanging out and talking more. It’s kind of cool.”
With everyone still riled up about Monday night’s triple-overtime win over Oklahoma, it seemed only appropriate to extend the celebration with this week’s Lawrence Libation.
The Bird Dog Bar’s extremely potent KU-themed cocktail, cleverly titled The Phog because it will “leave you in the fog,” according to the menu, is a blend of rum, gin, brand and Curaçao. There’s also orange juice and grenadine in this, ahem, spirited cocktail, which, coupled with the blue Curaçao, makes for a very festive tribute to the Jayhawk and all things KU.
Down one of these Phogs before heading to the fieldhouse for a big game or to celebrate another Jayhawk win. But, as the saying goes, Beware of The Phog. (Seriously, you guys, drink responsibly.)
The hard stuff: Captain Morgan spiced rum, Bombay Sapphire gin, blue Curaçao
Where it's served: Bird Dog Bar at The Oread hotel, 1200 Oread Ave.
What you'll pay: $8
Other libations at this location: More KU-inspired cocktails, like the Wescoe Beach (it sure looked appealing on the menu, unlike its eyesore namesake), and the Jayhawk and Crimson shots, pictured here alongside The Phog. The Bird Dog has the classics, too: sidecars, mojitos and the like.
Drink up. Stay classy. Don’t forget to tip your bartender. And let us know if you want to suggest a libation for this feature — email firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet her at Twitter.com/hlavacekjoanna. Cheers.
2016 is here, which means it's time to write the wrong date on your checks. I mean, it's time to take a look at some exciting upcoming titles.
We've put together a collection of some of the most anticipated releases, both in fiction and nonfiction. It's been both fun and challenging to speculate about which books will become our new favorites, and we hope you enjoy browsing the selections. At the very least, it'll give you something to take your mind off the fact that it's somehow freakin' 2016 already. (Seriously. Wasn't it just 1998?)
Anyway, bring on the books!
“Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi In this kaleidoscopic debut novel, protagonists Effia and Esi are half-sisters who were born in different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana. The sisters are unknown to one another, and we follow their radically different journeys into privileged English society and American slavery, respectively. Yaa Gyasi, an author born in Ghana and raised in Alabama, is already receiving high praise for her debut, which comes out in June 2016. (To prep yourself, check out another amazing Ghanaian author, Taiye Selasi's “Ghana Must Go.”)
“The Queen of the Night” by Alexander Chee Historical fiction lovers, listen up: “The Queen of the Night” is receiving high praise for its rich, captivating story. Lilliet Berne, a world-renowned opera singer, is offered a life-changing original role that she soon learns is based on her own tangled history. As her closely kept secrets are brought to the surface, Lilliet must wrestle with competing desires for fame and privacy. Dazzling, passionate, and rich with historical details, Alexander Chee is an author to follow.
“My Best Friend's Exorcism” by Grady Hendrix Author Grady Hendrix breathed new life into a zombified horror genre in 2014 with his hilarious — and terrifying — tale of a haunted IKEA store. His next novel, “My Best Friend’s Exorcism,” boasts a similarly refreshing premise: a 1980s high school is faced with demonic possession. It’s being described in pre-publication reviews as “The Exorcist” meets “Mean Girls.” Hendrix will surely bring his unique blend of wit, quirkiness and chills.
“Zero K” by Don DeLillo “Zero K” follows a man whose billionaire father has created a secretive compound where people have their bodies preserved, hoping to be brought back to life in the future. The title implies a cryogenic setting, but nothing can be assumed of DeLillo’s masterful prose. “Zero K” promises to be another substantial novel of the human condition, this time meditating on life and how it is ended. Look for it in early May.
Black Panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze Much was said of Ta-Nehisi Coates and his acclaimed 2015 release “Between the World and Me.” For 2016, though, he’ll be commenting on racial injustice in America — and other societal problems — not with essays, but with comics. Coates is writing a year-long story arc for the first black superhero, Black Panther, who was introduced in 1966. “A Nation Under Our Feet” is set to begin sometime this spring. The transition in medium isn’t as jarring as it might seem, as Coates has described being an avid comics fan since childhood.
“Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist” by Sunil Yapa Sunil Yapa bursts onto the international literary scene with this debut novel, which follows seven people dealing with the 1999 protests against the WTO in Seattle. Earnest and powerful, Yapa examines the humanity of his characters amid the violence and strife unfolding in the streets. Fans of historical fiction and raw, emotional stories alike will enjoy this novel.
“Behold the Dreamers” by Imbolo Mbue This is one I'm super pumped about. Imbolo Mbue made headlines last year for receiving a million-dollar advance from Random House. This is a first for an African author, and to say that fans of African literature — myself included — are excited is an understatement. The novel is a beautifully crafted immigrant's tale that explores heavy topics such as race, class, marriage and the potential pitfalls of "The American Dream." Not much is known about the author, as she keeps a pretty low profile, but if you'd like a glimpse at her writing style check out a previously published excerpt here. The original publication date of “Behold the Dreamers” has been pushed back to August, but I hear it's worth the wait. (How's this for a cryptic review??)
“Spark Joy” by Marie Kondo Marie Kondo's “Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” took the world by storm with its brilliant and easy-to-implement advice on de-cluttering one's life. Now she's back with an illustrated guide and more tidying wisdom. "Spark Joy" has already been released, so read both to jump-start your spring cleaning!
“Here Comes the Sun” by Nicole Dennis-Benn Another debut novel by an award-winning writer, “Here Comes the Sun” will be released in July and captures rhythmic, lyrical Jamaican life in prose form. I am a big fan of novels written in dialect so captivating that you can almost hear them read aloud, and this one seems like it will deliver. It features themes of gender equality, sexual orientation and political/personal independence. While you wait, try “Under the Udala Trees” for similar themes but within a Nigerian community.
“Lust & Wonder” by Augusten Burroughs It's been years since dry, witty, hilariously caustic author Augusten Burroughs has released a memoir. If you're new to his work, check out “Dry” and “Running with Scissors,” and then hop on the holds list for this one. Note: Given his past works, I'm 99.9% certain this will contain "adult language," so keep that in mind.
“When Breath Becomes Air” by Dr. Paul Kalanithi
The frontrunner for 2016’s most-devastating book is definitely “When Breath Becomes Air.” The memoir, written by late neurosurgeon Dr. Paul Kalanithi, recounts his journey from being a healthy, successful young man with a family, to battling an abruptly diagnosed case of stage IV lung cancer. With eloquent, vulnerable prose, Kalanithi seeks to understand death and explores what life he has left before his terminal illness deprives him of it.
Note: Kate thinks this review should simply consist of the “sobbing” emoji.
“Frantumaglia” by Elena Ferrante “Frantumaglia: Bits and Pieces of Uncertain Origin” collects a variety of essays and letters written by the intriguing Italian author Elena Ferrante, who has managed to keep her true identity hidden from the world. Ferrante, whomever she might really be, discusses her life and experience with writing, as well as other topics concerning art and culture. Don’t worry, it won’t be released until April, so you’ll have plenty of time to work on being able to say the mouthful that is “Frantumaglia” with some level of grace.
Since some of these titles are coming in the next few months, you can get on the holds list already! Keep an eye on this list, and we will add books as they are ordered for the collection.
— Kate Gramlich is a Readers' Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library and a member of LPL’s Book Squad. Eli Hoelscher is a Readers' Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.
With the countdown to the New Year — and New Year's resolutions, which for many of us will involve eating more sustainably or locally or gluten-free or Paleo or simply "better," in some form or another — over and done with, it's an appropriate time to discuss what could be the food trends for 2016.
Here, a few Lawrence chefs and restaurateurs give their predictions for what's ahead in the culinary world and (in some cases) what we should leave behind in 2015.
Rick Martin, chef-owner of Limestone Pizza, 814 Massachusetts St.
"I think the big one I'm seeing is open-fire cooking, which I see in the bigger cities — taking things back a hundred years when we cooked over open fire a lot. You see a lot of restaurants that are serving wild game and whole birds and larger cuts of meat that are cooked over an open flame."
Martin says there are about 50 restaurants in the country engaging in this pioneer-style method of cooking — Husk in Charleston, S.C., and Hatchet Hall in Los Angeles being two examples — though he doesn't expect the trend to hit northeast Kansas anytime soon. "It seems like Lawrence is a bit behind by about five years."
Nick Wysong, owner of Ingredient, 947 Massachusetts St.
"I think steadily and in general, everyone is becoming a lot more aware (of food) and the impact it can have on health and healthier habits, and I think that’s probably a pretty strong trend. That's an idea that's happening globally."
Louis Wigen-Toccalino, owner of Decade coffee shop, 920 Delaware St.
On which trends he'd like to continue: "Lawrence specifically has been pushing in the right direction in the past few years. I would like to see more small businesses and startups finding their feet, like 1900 Barker and Leeway Franks. More untraditional food venues, more little popups and more little corners and additions to existing businesses to give small-business people with creative ideas an opportunity to do something that doesn’t involve opening an entirely new restaurant — Fork to Fender, the Waffle Iron and Taco Zone (are) really creative solutions to that problem."
On which trends he'd like to see less of: "I'm curious to see what the next sandwich trend will be. A couple years ago it was bacon, then it was egg. ... I think putting an egg on top of every sandwich is getting tired at this point. Pâté — that’s my wish. Let’s bring mousses back."
Wigen-Toccalino says he and the Decade crew are working to "overhaul" their menu now, with a new roster of soups, sandwiches, salads and small plates (during bar hours) expected by mid-January. Perhaps we'll see a return of Decade's popular banh mi with Hank Charcuterie pâté?
Ted Nguyen, owner of Ted's Taphouse, 1004 Massachusetts St.
"What I see happening is more of a fast-casual concept of food, more of what you’d call peasant fare or actual street food. You see that in other countries, and I see that becoming more of a trend this year, not necessarily in the price point but in the simplicity of the food. In the past we’ve had things like sustainable food. Right now it’s really big in Lawrence to use local ingredients, which I think will continue."
Nguyen is also launching a new menu at the Taphouse, slated for late January and based around a similar "chef-driven, fast-casual concept."
Lee Meisel, chef-owner of Leeway Franks, 935 Iowa St.
On which trends he'd like to see continue: "I think as far as Lawrence in particular, I think we're still getting to the point where people are looking more at local products. It's been growing for the past 10 years, but I think people are going to start sourcing (local products) even more. Guys like Rick Martin down at Limestone are doing a great job contributing to that, getting people aware of these different farmers and building those relationships."
On which trends he'd like to see less of: I’d like to see the whole bacon thing go away once and for all. Bacon's great, but at the same time, there's only so much bacon to go around. I get tired of it. And then the whole afterthought of putting an egg on everything … it's kind of played out. I like eggs as much as anybody, but I'd rather focus on the egg and have it not be an afterthought."
Hey, maybe Louis and Lee are onto something here...
And a few thoughts on beverage trends: "It seems like we’ve been in the 'Year of the Cocktail' for the last five years. I think we’ll see more of a tongue-in-cheek pushback against the $12 cocktail. Someone’s got to bring back Jell-O shots or gin and juice. I’d like to see us go back to more utilitarian drinks as opposed to the more fussy stuff."
Rob Schulte, manager of La Prima Tazza, 638 Massachusetts St.
"I think just education has been high. People are teaching themselves about different coffee trends and different ways to make drinks. We try to stay up on what people like. I think people are kind of coming back into the realm of tea as well. Everything has its peaks and its drops, but I've seen more people ordering tea. That's why I put out those matcha options." (La Prima Tazza unveiled a new menu, including a handful of matcha specialty drinks, in August.)
One last thing: "I want to see the burden of recycling shared by both the patron and the business place. We offer that 20 percent off if you bring your own mug."
Journal-World photographers captured thousands of photos in 2015.
Watch as Richard Gwin, Nick Krug, Mike Yoder and John Young present their favorite photos from the past 12 months.
And take a look at even more photos in this year-end photo gallery.
Mondays are normally not the time for live music in Lawrence, but Henry’s has been doing fairly well with their acoustic Monday sets. Considering it rained ice from the sky all day, the turnout on Monday was impressive as Ryan Wise and Joel Bonner took the stage while frozen revelers huddled around the fireplace.
Wise, more formally known as the frontman for Lawrence duo The Sluts, is no stranger to sexual innuendo. His songs are full of them. But on this night, he decided to take a break for his own dirty lyrics and cover a few others.
Here he is covering M.O.T.O.’s “It Tastes Just Like A Milkshake.” Don’t let his slowed-down version of the song fool you — Wise stays true to his band’s reputation.
Here it is, readers. This is not only our last column of 2015 but also our very last column here at LJ-World/Lawrence.com. Remember that you can always find us on Twitter @LarryvilleLife (without ever being asked to take a pesky survey). Happy New Year!
Split Lip Rayfield/Rolling Foliage/Sugar Britches, 7 p.m. Thursday at Bottleneck
As reliable as Santa on New Year's Eve, the legendary rascals of Split Lip Rayfield descend on the Bottleneck each New Year's Eve to ring in the new year in raucous fashion. This year is extra-celebratory, as the trio has a new album called "I'll Be Around."
Joining this year will be Rolling Foliage and the ladies of Sugar Britches, who have made perhaps more appearances in this column than any other local band. But why not? They've had a hell of a year.
The Facebook event page is here.
Mouth/Hearts of Darkness/Pink Royal, doors at 7 p.m. Thursday at Granada
You can certainly dance to the lightning-fast bluegrass of Split Lip Rayfield (we've done it), but perhaps you're needing a smoother funk groove for New Year's Eve. The Granada has you covered with this big evening. Start your party early with the funky sounds of Mouth (their farewell show) and KC's always-stellar outfit Hearts of Darkness and end your evening with a late-night DJ set from Kimbarely Legal.
"May the Funk Be With You," proclaims the excellent Star Wars-themed poster from the Facebook event page, which also announces that this will be a Star Wars costume party. Droid, please! We're totally going as BB-8 from "The Force Awakens."
Gnarly Davidson/Arc Flash/Approach/The Fog, 10 p.m. Thursday at Replay
Let's face it. There's a certain contingent of our readers who wouldn't consider doing anything else on New Year's Eve (or Halloween) except going to the Replay. For this crowd, it's not even that important who's playing there (and you can probably pretty much guess anyway). For the rest of you: Thursday's bands are the ones listed above. You'll like them. If you don't, you'll be drunk enough to believe that you do.
The Facebook event page is here and features the above picture of Gnarly posing with an "interesting" friend.
Foxy by Proxy NYE Revue, doors at 9 p.m., show at 10 p.m. Thursday at Liberty Hall
In the mood for a bigger space on this crowded holiday? Prefer scantily-clad women to live music? The Foxy by Proxy crew only needed four words to convince us their Liberty Hall NYE event was worthy of inclusion here: "Surprises! Sparkles! Nakedness! CHAMPAGNE!"
The Facebook event page is here.
'When Harry Met Sally,' 4 and 7 p.m. Friday at Liberty Hall
Liberty Hall has the most comforting cure for your New Year's Eve hangover: two screenings of one of the great modern romantic comedies. Perhaps they'll team with Ladybird Diner to serve pecan pie (if you catch our reference)? We'd certainly be pleased to partake of it. Or perhaps a contest to imitate Meg Ryan's classic diner scene (You know the one. Can we say "orgasm" here? We'll try, since this is our last column).
These things won't happen. Nevertheless, sitting in a dark room and laughing with your friends and lovers will soothe your soul (and aching head). Find more details at the Liberty Hall website.
Thanks for reading our column this year, and hopefully you'll be able to find things to do in LFK in 2016 without us! We have faith in you. And remember: if all else fails, head to the Replay.
When I arrived in Lawrence, humbled and honored to be LPL’s new director, the library was in the midst of a building project. I was so excited be a part of this experience. With a new building, we could completely reimagine what a library could be for Lawrence. In my mind, this was a once-in-a-career opportunity to do something meaningful for a city I love so much.
When I got my first look at the floor plans, I saw three little rooms on the lower level labeled “Creative Center.” I asked what was going to go there — “don’t know yet" was the response. It was supposed to be “a place for people to make stuff,” but what was to be made there was not yet determined. I took some time to think about Lawrence and about what might be the best thing to do in that space, and I thought, why not a recording studio? With that notion, SOUND+VISION was born.
Several public libraries have makerspaces or media labs with modest audio-visual capabilities, or areas where some small amount of audio-visual editing can happen, but there were few to no full-blown professional recording studios providing access to high-fidelity digital recording to the public — for free! Lawrence seemed like just the right town to try this experiment.
In our first year, we saw use of SOUND+VISION flourish. In January 2015, we hired Ed Rose to manage the studio, and he has brought decades of experience that have helped up our game immensely. Plus, he radiates exactly the kind of positive energy a community recording studio needs. We help a lot of beginners, and Ed instills in them the confidence that they can accomplish what they're setting out to do.
In a recent conversation, someone asked Ed what’s in it for him, why he wanted to participate in leading the space. He said, “I like running the studio because it also allows me to stay involved in music, recording and technology, and gives me the opportunity to pass on what I’ve learned over the years.”
We expected to see young rock bands for sure, but use of the studio has been wonderfully diverse. People in our community from practically every age group have recorded everything from country, rock, gospel, hip-hop, jazz, spoken word, and pretty much everything in between. People have also used the space to tell stories, like when an 80-year-old woman recorded an interview with her 100-year-old mother about her life.
This October, we gave SOUND+VISION a face-lift, constructing a new, expanded audio recording space. The recently finished tracking and recording room does a much better job containing sound, thanks in part to sleek wall paneling and an acoustic treatment. Additionally, we received endorsements from D’Addario guitar strings, Evans drum heads, Presonus software, ProMark drumsticks, Rode microphones and Waves plugins, allowing the studio to offer even more professional-grade tools for its users. We also added a Behringer digital snake that can connect any room of the library directly to the studio.
If you saw SOUND+VISION in its previous iteration, you definitely need to return to see the new and improved space. It’s more user friendly and beautiful than ever before.
SOUND+VISION is exactly what its name says, our library’s attempt to provide the Lawrence community the opportunity to express themselves through audio and visual means. So far, we’re doing really well with the SOUND part. In 2016, we’ll start expanding the VISION part with access to video creation and editing capacities. Stay tuned.
— Brad Allen is the Executive Director of Lawrence Public Library and the former guitarist/bass player of the band Vitreous Humor.