This Weeks Day-By-Day Picks 

Thursday, January 8, 2004

Fondue is fun -- a slogan to remember. But fondue is also kind of expensive. It's a dish that basically comes down to melting stuff and dipping other stuff in it, which can be accomplished with a microwave, albeit with a lot less dignity. So if you've wanted to check out the Melting Pot on the Plaza (450 Ward Parkway) but have been fearful of dinner prices, we have an idea: Five Wines for $5, a wine tasting that happens every Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. This is something worth leaving home for, folks, especially if you struggle -- as we do -- with removing the corks from wine bottles. Some kinds of screws we understand quite well -- the corkscrew is not among them. Hell, we'd pay $5 just to get our bottles opened. For information, call 816-931-6358.

Friday, January 9, 2004

New Year's and Mardi Gras are pretty much the only days of the year that Kansas City reminds us of New Orleans in any way. To keep the KC/NO relationship going during the cold, sober months between those two holidays, head to STRETCH's newly reopened Zone Gallery at 1830 Locust, where New Orleans artists Jeff Forsythe, Dan Tague, Michael Greathouse, Tim Frisby, Chris Jahncke, Srdan Loncar, Chris Saucedo and Jon Davis display their work in a show called Brave New Abstraction. Watch out for the yellow pencil sculpture when you visit -- we'd hate for anyone to poke an eye out. Tonight's opening starts at 6 p.m. For information, e-mail zonegallery@yahoo.com.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

You need an adventure, bucko, and we have just the place for you. It's called Devil's Icebox Cave. The name alone is worth the long drive to Columbia. Located just south of Highway 63, Devil's Icebox Cave is inside the Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. The park is open from dawn until dusk daily, year round. For God's sake, though, don't stay in the Devil's Icebox overnight. Not only will you freeze, but it's against the rules. And you don't want to go breaking the Devil's rules. For information and directions, call 573-449-7402.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

If you think our gray winter landscape is the bleakest sight you've ever seen, go take a look at the Bernhard and Hilla Becher photograph that the Spencer Museum has in its permanent collection. The Bechers were born in Germany right before World War II and started collaborating on black-and-white photographs of industrial structures in 1959. (Chances are, if you see a series of stark water-tower or furnace images, it's by the Bechers.) The Spencer's photograph, "Blast Furnaces," was taken in 1996. The crazy thing is that, in spite of their dismally gritty scenes -- and the absence of human life in them -- there is something beautiful about the Bechers' work. And if blast furnaces can be beautiful, it's high time you quit complaining about the January drive down Interstate 70, don't you think? The museum, located at 1301 Mississippi in Lawrence, is open from noon to 5 p.m. today. For information, call 785-864-4710.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Just sittin' at home feelin' lonely? Aw. Well, we have a way for you to turn that frown upside down, or at least make it into something that could win you a T-shirt. You lovesick fools out there should gather up all those miserable reminders of past relationships and get rid of them. Use them as materials for an art piece in keeping with the theme "love sucks. " The Olive Gallery is accepting submissions of such work for a juried Valentine's Day show, and if you enter your work (with a $10 fee), you get a T-shirt. Yes, we are already talking about another holiday. We'll shut up now. Just get your ass off the couch long enough to bring some stuff to the gallery (at 15 East Eighth Street in Lawrence) before the end of this month. For information, call 785-331-4114.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

This workshop puts the moron back in oxymoron, and the stupid back in dumbass. It's called Preparing for the Unexpected. We'll explain it for you, real simple like: If something is unexpected, that means you haven't prepared for it, because you didn't expect it. We don't mean to be jerks, but it's just not possible to go through life without being caught unprepared every now and then. There are scary things that we can do our darnedest to prepare for, like tornadoes, Y2K chaos and terrorist attacks. But these things are not so much unexpected as unpredictable, uncontrollable, unlikely and undesirable. Nonetheless, they will be addressed in all their horror at today's badly named workshop, set to take place at Mid-Continent Public Library's North Oak Branch (8700 North Oak Trafficway) at 7 p.m. It's led by representatives from the American Red Cross. For information, call 816-436-4358.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

With holiday shopping memories still vivid, the mere thought of spending money on unnecessary items sets our gag reflexes into action -- it's not a pretty sight. This fact does not, however, erase our deep longing for soft angora blankets. The solution, we have found, is knitting -- a magical craft wherein mere yarn is transformed into warm things. Watching knitters, you'd think they were just tapping metal sticks together while muttering special incantations. In fact, their basic methods can be deciphered by most mortals given a half-hour or so of instruction. It starts with a heroic move called "casting on." What helps make this move feel especially bold is a declaration of "cast on!" pronounced with zeal, a lone needle pointed upward toward the sky, like a sword or a bugle. For hints more helpful than these (give us a break, dudes, we just started), we recommend stopping in on Urban Arts and Crafts' Wednesday Night Knitters Club, which lasts from 6 to 8 p.m. the second and third Wednesday of every month. This isn't an instructional gathering, so you should probably have some knitting experience, but a little watching and learning never hurt anyone. If you're starting with less knowledge than we have exhibited above, you might consider picking up a class schedule instead. Urban Arts and Crafts is at 507 Walnut, 816-234-1004.

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