Fiction is Your Fun-Time Friend

You may have spent the school year using books for doorstops or kindling, but soon you’ll be free enough to make fiction your friend. Included here are some titles that should inspire you to buy a stack and create your own source of fun summer reading. Take them to the pool or the beach, read them on the treadmill and on your lunch break.
To get your mind moving after it recovers from finals, pick up a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. Arthur Conan Doyle packs intrigue into these mini-mysteries that won’t hurt your head. Then you can move on to some classics like Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, both of which will be shown on the big screen next fall (the former directed by Roman Polanski and the latter starring Keira Knightley).
Speaking of movies, there are more than a few films coming out this summer that are based on great fiction. There’s Douglas Adams’ hilarious Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. You may also want to get started on J. K. Rowling’s 752-page Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire, which will be in theaters in November…and it may take you until then to get through it all.
For Harry’s muggle fan-base, you’d better pre-order Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince (the sixth book in Rowling’s series) if you plan to start reading it on July 16th. Also being released this summer are Chuck Palahniuk’s new novel Haunted (May 3) and Specimen Days (June 7) by Michael Cunningham (author of The Hours).
To stretch your mind into the realms of cultural and historical fiction, think about Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent which re-envisions the biblical story of Jacob and his wives, or Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha which tells the story of…well, it’s pretty evident from the title. And finally, on a campus where most students know more about Tolkien than their nation’s president, just start reading so that you can stop lying about having a favorite character. I’d start with The Hobbit.

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Scene & Heard

SCENE
A World in Miniature – Kresge Art Center presents a group of Islamic paintings from the R.M. Riefstahl Collection through the month of April. For more information, check out http://artmuseum.msu.edu.
Chrome, Speed and Sinew – The works of native Michigan artist Jack Bergeron will be on display until April 24 at the Creole Gallery. The charcoal drawings reflect Bergeron’s recent fascination with motorcycles. For more information, check out www.lansing.com/creolegallery.
The Hairy Ape – MSU theatre students will perform one of legendary playwright Eugene O’Neill’s works April 21 – 23 at the Arena Theatre at 8 p.m. The play, directed by Andrew Anglin, follows an everyman’s quest to find his place in society. For more information, check out www.theatre.msu.edu.
Vampire Lesbians of Sodom – Riverwalk Theatre presents its Black Box Theatre series at the Creole Gallery April 22, 23, 29 and 30, with midnight performances April 22 and 29. The play, in true “Rocky Horror” style, follows vamps from the ancient city of Sodom to modern-day Las Vegas, all the while donning flashy, outrageous costumes and even crazier lines. For more information, check out riverwalktheatre.com.
MTV Village – As part of the MTV U campus tour, MTV will set up camp in the Breslin Center parking lot April 23 before the Muse concert later that night. The 11 a.m – 4 p.m. event will feature the MTV U Lounge, an inflatable mountain and a Nintendo Lounge, as well as freebies. Admission is free.
Larry the Cable Guy – Comedian Larry the Cable Guy will perform at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, April 23 at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. For more information, check out www.ticketmaster.com.
Daniel Tosh – Comedian Daniel Tosh will perform at the Fairchild Theatre on April 24 at 7:30 p.m. For more information, check out www.ticketmaster.com
Your Mom Improv – Comprised of 11 MSU students, “Your Mom Improv” is a student group that performs improvised sketches and games. They will do their thing April 29 and 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Arena Theatre. For more information, check out www.theatre.msu.edu.

HEARD
The Javelins – The Javelins, along with The Recital, Sea Defeats Sparrow, Vague Angels and El Boxeo will play at East Lansing’s (Scene) Metrospace April 21 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the all ages show are $5.
Paul Westerberg – Paul Westerberg will play at Saint Andrews Hall in Detroit, April 22 at 6:30 p.m. For more information, check out www.ticketmaster.com.
Muse – Brit rockers, Muse, will take the stage at the Breslin Center as part of MTV U, April 23 at 7 p.m. Tickets to the show are $10 for students. For more information, check out www.breslincenter.com
8 Ball Grifter and Fighting Hellfish – The Temple Club hosts two punk-a-billy groups April 23. Doors open at 9 p.m. and tickets are $6 – 8. For more information, check out www.templeclub.com.
Garnet Rogers – Singer/songwriter Garnet Rogers will perform at the Creole Gallery April 24 at 7:30 p.m. For more information, check out www.lansing.com/creolegallery.
Professors of Jazz – The MSU Jazz Studies department presents their “Professors of Jazz” April 27 at 7:30. The performance will be held in the Wharton Center; tickets are $26. For more information, check out www.whartoncenter.com.
The Casionauts – The Casionauts will play the Temple Club April 27. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $5 – 8. For more information, check out www.templeclub.com.
Garbage – Garbage will play at the State Theatre in Detroit April 27 at 6:30 p.m. For more information, check out www.ticketmaster.com.
Ettison Clio – Ettison Clio, along with Temper Temper, The Pitch Black and The Van Ermans will play at Mac’s Bar April 28. Tickets for the 18+ show are $7. For more information, check out www.macsbar.com.
The Hard Lessons – The Hard Lessons will play the Temple Club April 29. Doors open at 8 p.m. For more information, check out www.templeclub.com.
The Weightless Invasion Tour – Mac’s Bar will host the Weightless Invasion Tour April 30, featuring Blueprint, Greenhouse Effect and DJ Rare Groove. Tickets for the 18+ show are $8. For more information, check out www.macsbar.com.

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Good Charlotte = ‘NSYNC???

It’s time for teen girls to recycle their back copies of Bop magazine and box away the posters of the Backstreet Boys, ‘NSYNC and O-Town that previously lined their bedroom walls. Gone are the matching, flashy jump suits, choreographed dance moves and harmless lyrics characteristic of the last generation of boy bands; say hello to the new age of “boy band”: vintage rock t-shirts, jet-black haircolor and pale-skinned singers.
They integrate an overabundance of profanities into everyday conversation, they embrace non-conformity and pride themselves on being dysfunctional, they know their way around pastey white foundation, brought back the mohawk and are no strangers to black eyeliner. Meet this decade’s answer to the boy band.
They take on names like Simple Plan, Good Charlotte, My Chemical Romance, Sum 41, Dashboard Confessional and New Found Glory. You’ve heard them on the radio, seen their music videos and unknowingly found yourself tapping your foot to the beat of their breakout hit single – they’ve penetrated the music industry and showing no signs of withdrawal.
It was only a few short years ago that yesterday’s boy bands ruled all facets of pop culture. In addition to the trendiness of retail giant The Limited Too and popularity of the film Clueless, the innocuous serenades of four and five-member ensembles proved as popular among teenyboppers as Phish does to dreadlock tie-dyers who spend their summers following the band’s tour from city to city. ‘NSYNC, Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees, not to mention acronym-friendly B2K, O-Town and LFO, not only ruled the airwaves and consistently secured their position on the weekly Billboard Top 40, but also left teenage girls screaming and swooning during sold-out concert venues across the country. The mere thought of locking eyes with Justin Timberlake during ‘NSYNC’s set or the possibility of a drop of Nick Carter’s sweat ricocheting off the skin was enough to bring pre-pubescent schoolgirls one step closer to cardiac arrest or losing consciousness.
It’s no wonder the music industry tapped into, and took advantage of, what would have otherwise been an unprofitable portion of the market. It only made sense to market boy band personalities to hormone-crazed, soon-to-be-adolescents. Pre-teen girls could fixate on an unattainable “musician” with a Y-chromosome, a sweet face, perfect teeth and the ability to “keep it real” by breaking it down with a few dance moves.
But times change. Beats are deemed lackluster, choreographed dance moves become stale and teenyboppers, who once pined for melodious boy-next-door groups, mature. Former-boy band aficionados denounce the cheesy song lyrics and vocal chord resonations of cookie-cutter groups that once topped the charts. It’s been years since any one of a multitude of pop group deities, such as ‘NSYNC, Backstreet Boys or O-Town, graced the presence of the TRL studio, appeared as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live or received any sort of publicity.
As ex-Backstreet Boys and ‘NSYNC enthusiasts quickly moved further from the sugary pop sounds of their youth and their boy-band paraphernalia continued to depreciate in value, record labels were faced with no choice but to circumvent plummeting profits by introducing a new wave of bands intended to rouse record sales among an aging teenybopper generation.
It doesn’t take a music industry tycoon or rock journalist for Rolling Stone to understand the logic behind the recent saturation of the airwaves by edgy pop-punk bands into mainstream music. As kids move into their teen years, they typically rebel against anything shoved down their throat, especially when it comes to music. Think back to your late middle school and early high school years, as you neared adolescence, you probably noticed that your parents condoned your listening to inoffensive pop-rock (I’ll openly admit that I purchased the Hanson album featuring the single “Mmmm Bop”). However, once I realized that my mom enjoyed the tune as much, if not more, than I did, I threw the CD in the trash and started listening to Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Most teens do the same; they seek out freakier bands that fail to receive their parents’ seal of approval.
For this reason, it only makes sense that aging teen girls would eventually grow weary of cliché all-male pop posses in search of edgier groups who claim to understand the drama and perils that accompany adolescence. Hey, Simple Plan knows what it’s like “to be hurt, to be lost, to be left out in the dark,” – or at least their lyricist does. Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance sings “I told you time and time again you sing the words but don’t know what it means; To be a joke and look, another line without a hook…,” you get the gist of it. What better way to entice teenage girls, who are rebelling against what is mainstream, to buy records than by marketing pop-punk, all-boy bands who boast rebellion, in a conformist sort of way, and have likely vested more money in Hot Topic than the retail chain’s primary stockholders?
However, not since the late-‘90s onslaught of sweet-voiced, kid-next-door ensembles have the rock gods deemed this pathetic attempt by bands to achieve “punk” status sacrilegious. You’ve heard of the seven deadly sins. In my opinion, production of crap punk-rock is the often overlooked, and commonly forgotten, eighth deadly sin. Needless to say, the majority of the pop-punk bands that have inundated the music market are guilty of this cardinal offense.
Not surprisingly, the internet is chocked full of blogs where die-hard pop-punk teens spew their thoughts about these bands being nothing short of musical geniuses. However, it’s obvious to most of us that the Good Charlottes, My Chemical Romances and Simple Plans of the music industry are far from musically innovative and certainly cannot have their share in the category holding legends such as The Ramones and The Clash and, to a lesser extent, Green Day.
The question is not whether the onslaught of pop-punk bands impacts our society musically. Most would agree that the uninspiring lyrics and manufactured bass loops characteristic of these groups are lifeless at best. These groups are simply recycled versions of the last generation of boy bands and they’re filling a niche in the music industry. It’s become cool for girls to avoid what is conventional in music in search for something different. But, the formula is the same – there’s a guy in a band a girl can fixate on. Whether it’s former-‘NSYNC member Justin Timberlake, 98 Degrees heartthrob Nick Lachey or Good Charlotte brothers Benji and Joel – it’s simply some guy in his late-teens/early-‘20s – it’s only that in this new version of a boy band, he appears to be keen on bondage and looks as though he’s a cousin to Dracula.
As pop-punk groups maintain appearances on TRL, Jay Leno and David Letterman, continue to hoard album sales and headline national tours, it remains likely that the current alternative to last decade’s boy bands are here to stay. However, the question remains: will the cycle of boy bands ever cease to exist?
In the words of Lou Pearlman, the evil marketing mind behind the Backstreet Boys, ‘NSYNC and O-Town (I’m sure he was sitting in a brimming La-Z-Boy, stroking his malevolent cat when he made this statement), “I know exactly when boy bands will be over. When God stops making little girls.”

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An American Tourist in London

[crea] They can’t really put their finger on it, but something is definitely different: American tourists just stick out. Why though? I look at myself in the mirror of the tiny flat I’ve been calling home, and I don’t think I look particularly “American” – it’s not as if I’m sporting an American flag T-shirt and NASCAR hat. I’m wearing normal, everyday clothes…which apparently scream U.S.A.(in that annoying sports chant, no less – U.S.A., U.S.A…ugh). But I just don’t see it. The Londoners sure do, though.
“There’s just a look,” Andrew, a bartender at a London pub, said. “I couldn’t tell you exactly what it is, but you can just look at them and know: they’re American.”
Well, great. That’s exactly what I want people to think when they see me. So much for the blending in and looking like a cool local idea. If it’s just the clothes thing, I can do that – it’s not like I schlep around in white trainers and jumpers. The problem is it seems to transcend mere outerwear. Why is it that in London an American tourist looks about as normal as Paris Hilton in a turtleneck? The language is the same (almost); the range of diversity is the same and, for God’s sake, America itself sprang from Mother England only a relatively short time ago. Yet, ask any Londoner, and they’ll most likely answer alike: an American tourist is easily spotted.
[one] “I can’t really pinpoint what it is,” Moira, a young, hip mother said as she pushed a stroller through London’s largest green space, Hyde Park. “I guess there’s just a look.”
But why do Americans stick out so badly, when no one can point out the exact differences? This is the question that I have set out to answer as I trawl the streets of England’s capital.
London is an ancient, sprawling city that sits nestled in the southern heart of England, along the Thames River. The London area is, in fact, two separate cities, Westminster and London, but the area is collectively known as London.
Besides being home to some of the most recognizable landmarks in the world – think Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Parliament -it is also a very green city, with variably-sized parks dotting the landscape. In other words, London is a tourist mecca.
Fewer than 7.5 million people actually call London home, but in the summer months – peak season for both tourists and mosquitoes – London is inundated with camera-packing visitors from every corner of the globe. According to the London Tourist Board, 2001 saw over 28 million people flock to the London area, spending over 8 billion pounds during their stay.
In fact, with 50 percent of all overseas visitors to the United Kingdom heading straight for the capital, tourism is the second largest industry in London, accounting for eight percent of the city’s gross domestic product, according to the London Tourist Board.
[two] That’s 28 million people spending over 100 million on the tube and bus system, accounting for 25 percent of all taxi fares and 30 percent of all theatre tickets, the LTB reported. For the London native, that’s also 28 million more people wandering the streets (camera in hand, of course), blocking the tube and crowding the queues.
Of those millions of tourists, the majority – over 20 percent – are from across the pond: the good old U.S. of A. Yee-haw!
Is it the sheer number of Americans crawling all over London that make them so distinguishable? As much as I think this could be the key to this mystery, no Londoners seem to agree with me. To them, it’s not the quantity of Americans, but the quality. There’s just something odd about Americans that Londoners can pick up on right away.
A few people, if pressed, can name one or two ways in which Americans are different. They seem to fall into one of two categories of distinction: dress and mannerisms.
“They’re loud,” Andrew said.
Well, yeah, everyone knows that.
Two Harrod’s workers, Ben and Daniel, added a bit more insight.
“They’re fat and happy,” Daniel said with a grin.
“And they’re strange; they’re kooky Americans,” Ben said.
Great. So far, American tourists are loud, fat, happy and strange. I know that’s always what I want people’s first impressions of me to be.
Luckily, I came across Linda, a London businesswoman, relaxing by the water in Hyde Park and offering a lot of insight into my tourist conundrum.
“They always look kind of bewildered,” she said. “Oh, the clothes! The clothes are different – shorts, trainers, baggier stuff.”
“And they seem to move in very slow packs,” she added, on a roll. “On the tube, they’re the worst!”
Perfect. It seems I’ve hit the American tourist jackpot with Ms. Linda. I have to admit it paints a pretty bleak picture of me and my fellow tourists. There were my grand delusions of fitting in and passing as a local, but no, my dreams have been shattered and lay in a pitiful mess at my oh-so American feet. I was hoping maybe we’d stick out because we’re all so wonderful with an amazing fashion sense. But who was I kidding? Have you seen us? I mean, we’re fat and loud, dress like slobs and move like a snail with a backache.
A trip down Oxford Street confirms everything I’ve just been told. In fact, passing by the window display for London department store, Selfridges & Co., sums it all up. It makes me stop dead in my tracks as I stare in wonder at the scene before of me.
Staring back are two mannequins, and, according to what I’ve learned so far, they’re two very American mannequins.
The man is overweight with a large beer belly and a hanging double chin. He’s wearing huge square glasses and his mouth is open slightly to give the impression he is very lost. Over his tan shorts and bright Hawaiian-print shirt dangles a camera. Beside him, the woman is also overweight with a teased bouffant hairstyle and matching pink lipstick and nail polish. She too is wearing shorts and a vibrant shirt, but is also sporting a visor and clutching a map as her slightly ajar lips mime the bewildered look of her partner.
[three] Clearly, these are meant to be American tourists. I’m surprised more Londoners don’t express aggrevation and a deeper dislike toward people such as the ones staring back at me. I’m an American and even I am getting annoyed at the antics of these clueless looking Yanks.
In my defense, however, I don’t think I look anything like this pair in the Selfridges window. I mean, it has to be an exaggeration, right? Turning my head to the left, I see Ms. Window Display’s twin waddling toward me. I shake my head in amazement, and let’s be honest, a bit of shame. So we really look this awful to the Londoners. It’s a sad realization. We Americans can’t all look this obvious, can we? This display, and its human counterpart, must be a gross generalization. Holding onto this tiny ray of hope, I hit the streets with a mission. I wonder if it’s so easy to tell when said American isn’t fat and horribly dressed? Well, I’m about to find out.
With my arsenal of newfound knowledge, I move up the street to try my hand at American tourist-spotting. Luckily, before I get too far, I meet two helpful Brits, Jules and Nick, who agree to give me a hand and show me how a professional tourist-spotter does it.
The challenge? I randomly select passersbys and both Jules and Nick deliver their verdict: American or British. Then I simply run the lucky participant down to find out which nation they call home. Right. Let the games begin.
Ten rounds later, I think I’ve got the hang of it. Both Jules and Nick were largely successful, scoring seven out of 10 and eight out of 10 correct guesses, respectively (although one poor bloke was pegged as an American and was none-too happy when he heard our results: “I look American?” he asked, astonished. “Well, damn!”).
Feeling fully British and now a pro at tourist-spotting, I think I’ll have a go.
The target has been identified, searching for telltale signs: eyes darting back and forth with mouth hanging open slightly (check), trainers (check), baggy shorts (check). Right. I approach the stranger, eager to see if I’ve sussed out a real American tourist.
“Sorry,” he answers, as my face falls, “I’m Canadian.”
My face lights back up; that’s close enough for me.
[four1] I guess I just have to face it – we look different. It’s not like I think it’s terrible to look like a tourist and maybe be a bit lost and take tons of pictures. Hell, I’ve taken about five rolls in the two weeks I’ve been here so far. Just lose the fanny pack and garish jogging suit – if you can’t wear it at home, you can’t wear it on vacation. But, in the end, it’s more than every loose-fitting T-shirt in the wardrobe. I have to hope, however, with hard work and lots of practice, I can start to look not-so American and more like an anonymous tourist, here to do some sightseeing and a fair bit of shopping, not a walking billboard flashing my nationality in red, white and blue neon.
But I’m resigned to say I’ll probably always stick out just a bit, at least to the Londoners. I can hide my camera and map and not, under any circumstances, wear shorts, but, according to all I’ve learned today, it still won’t help. It’s more than just clothes that differentiate us – it’s a whole lot more. I guess it hard to explain; I can’t quite put my finger on it.

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Scene and Heard

SCENE

The Mosquitos and The Fuzz – Indie rockers The Mosquitos and The Fuzz will play the Temple Club March 24. Doors open at 8 p.m., for more information, check out www.templeclub.com.
Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra with Arturo O’Farrill – This 18-piece jazz ensemble will perform one night at the Wharton Center, March 25. Tickets to the 8 p.m. performance range from $20 – $35. For more information, check out www.whartoncenter.com.
Alicia Keys – Singer and pianist Alicia Keys will perform for two nights at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, March 25 and 26, at 8 p.m. For more information, check out www.ticketmaster.com.
The Soundtrack of Our Lives – The Soundtrack of Our Lives will play at the Magic Stick in Detroit, March 27 at 8 p.m. For more information, check out www.ticketmaster.com.
Erika Luckett – Mexico native, singer/guitarist Erika Luckett will celebrate her CD release at the Creole Gallery, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. Luckett’s jazz ensemble Wild Mango has performed with legends such as Santana and Etta James. Tickets to the party are $15. For more information, check out www.erikaluckett.com.

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Non-Conformist Conformists

My sister was in her art class the other day, sitting with some acquaintances, when the question of musical taste came up. She listed a few of her favorite bands, one of them being Coldplay, when one of the girls at the table looked her up and down and pronounced her a “poser.” A poser? This got me thinking, what makes that other girl, who listed Godsmack as one of her favorite groups, not a poser? The answer: she’s a poser just as much as my sister, she just conforms to different ideals – she’s a non-conformist conformist. That’s right, this girl, with her “I’m so unique” attitude, conforms to, you guessed it, non-conformity.
Face it. Everybody – except for maybe Björk and a few other truly odd ducks – conforms to something. Alternative hippies, goths, preps; we all buy into some style and no one is a complete non-conformist in the true sense of the word. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I buy Goodwill T-shirts and religiously listen to Radiohead, but that doesn’t make me an aloof hipster who doesn’t buy into consumerism; that just makes me like every other alternative hippie around.
So, what about these so-called non-conformists? Just where do they stumble upon their oh-so unique fashion and underground musical taste? Do they hand-dye some yarn and knit themselves a sweater while deftly composing an original rock-opera that will transform the modern face of music? Um…no. They snatch up the latest goodies from Hot Topic and buy whatever album C.D. Warehouse is pushing. That’s right, just like the too-tan girls who shop only at Hollister Co., these guys go to the mall to – are you ready for this? – not conform. This makes a lot of sense because we all know the mall is the antithesis of conformity…right.
The problem with these so-called non-conformist conformists is they really don’t believe they’re conforming to anything – they seem to think their style, attitudes and musical tastes all sprung from within their own detached minds. And, what’s worse, they then proceed to pass judgment on all those they deem “conformists.”
“Ohhhh…you bought that where? I won’t shop there; everyone who shops there is buying into conformity…”
You’re kidding, right? These people know they are conforming just as much as those pink-shirt, popped-collar guys, don’t they? They know the album they bought from C.D. Warehouse because they won’t shop the “chains” is probably originally from Best Buy, right? Wrong. They really seem to believe they don’t conform. Yet, oddly, these supremely unique individuals all dress alike, listen to the same music and have the same obligatory piercing. And, to top it all off, the number-one store getting all their “I don’t buy into consumerism” business, Hot Topic, happens to be one of the fastest growing chains out there. There sure seems to be a lot of non-conformists across America, all working together to not conform. Can someone tell me exactly how this makes sense?
It’s not that I have a problem, per se, with the style of the “non-conformists” – it’s the fact they can’t admit they are conforming just as much as the Abercrombie and Fitch-wearing frat boys they loathe so much.
And, it’s not that I think conformity is this wonderful ideal; it’s just a fact of life. I don’t think everyone out there jumps on every passing bandwagon like a lemming following its friends over a cliff (while clad in the latest from Ugg and Northface). Unless you’re name is Ted Kaczynski, you belong to a social group and buy into its style and attitudes, and that’s OK, as long as you recognize that fact. I’m not saying no one is an individual or there is no such thing as uniqueness, I’m simply saying everyone is influenced by external environmental factors. Everybody conforms to something – even if it’s non-conformity.

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Scene & Heard

HEARD
Ettison Clio – Local group Ettison Clio will play Mac’s Bar in Lansing, Feb. 10. Tickets to the 9:30 p.m. show are $6 for 21+ and $8 for 18+. For more information, check out www.ettisonclio.com.
Alliance of Defiance Tour – Headliner Otep, along with Candiria, American Headcharge and Autumn Offering, will play the Temple Club Feb. 11. Tickets for the 18+ show are $15 in advance and $18 – 20 at the door. For more information, visit www.templeclub.com.
The Western Wind – Acclaimed a cappella group The Western Wind comes to Wharton’s Pasant Theatre with an ode to Valentine’s Day. My Funny Valentine promises a night full of romantic songs Feb. 13. Tickets to the 3 p.m. performance are $26. For more information, check out www.whartoncenter.com.
MTV Real World Valentine Party – MJ and Sarah from The Real World Philadelphia will lead the V-Day party at the Temple Club Feb. 13. Doors open at 9 p.m. and tickets range from $10-15. For more information, check out www.templeclub.com.
[keane] Keane – Alternative crooners Keane will play the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor Feb. 16. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $21. For more information, check out www.ticketmaster.com.
Casionauts – The Casionauts are having their CD release party at Mac’s Bar Feb. 19. The 18+ show will also feature Books on Tape, Spit for Athena and The Demix. For more information, check out www.macsbar.com.
Toby Keith – Country star Toby Keith will take the stage with Ted Nugent Feb. 19 at the Breslin Center. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show range from $39.75-49.75. For more information, see www.breslincenter.com.
Make Believe – Chicago indie rockers Make Believe will play Mac’s Bar in Lansing Feb. 20. For more information on the band, check out Matt Flint’s article “Best You’ve Never Heard,” featured in the Feb. 10 issue of The Big Green.
The Hot Flashez – The fast-paced Hot Flashez will play the Flint Local 432 in Flint Feb. 25 with Mustard Plug and Pulse. For more information, check out http://hotflashez.com.
Michael Glabicki – The lead singer and man behind Rusted Root, Michael Glabicki will play the Temple Club Feb. 25. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets for the show, which also features LeGusta, range from $7-10. For more information, check out www.templeclub.com.

SCENE
Masters of Illusion – This ongoing exhibit at Kresge Art Museum looks at 150 years of Trompe I’Oeil in America. The exhibit will be on display until March 20. For more information, check out Kresge online at www.artmuseum.msu.edu.
Concert Posters and Rock Art Show – Dennis Preston will exhibit his collection of over 30 posters from the late ‘60s and ‘70s bands that came through, or came to, the Lansing area. The exhibit will run through Feb. 27 at the Creole Gallery in Lansing’s Old Town. For more information, check out www.lansing.com/creolegallery.
Love Beauty Sorrow – Aaron Mitchell will display his artwork at the Otherwise Gallery in Old Town Lansing through Feb. 28. For more information, visit www.otherwisegallery.org.
Cupid’s Ball – The UAB hosts a Valentine’s Day bash with music, prizes and even a chocolate fountain. This free event will take place Feb. 12 in the International Center from 9 p.m. – 1 a.m. Pick up tickets at the Union. For more information, check out www.hfs.msu.edu.
Dane Cook – Comedian Dane Cook takes the stage at the MSU Auditorium for one hilarious night Feb. 17. Tickets to the two performances, 7:30 and 10 p.m., range from $20-25. For more information, check out www.whartoncenter.com.
Memories of MSU – Beginning Feb. 20, the MSU Museum will exhibit a look into MSU over the past 150 years, in honor of its sesquicentennial. This exhibit will run for the entire year until Dec. 30. For more information, check out www.museum.msu.edu.
[suddenly] Suddenly Last Summer – The MSU Department of Theatre brings Tennessee Williams’ play to life Feb. 22-27. The performances will take place in the Auditorium Arena Theatre at 7:30 p.m. (2 p.m. Feb. 27). Tickets are $10. For more information, check out www.theatre.msu.edu.
Noises Off – A comedy, Noises Off follows the story of what goes on backstage during the tour of a sexual farce play. Noises Off will play at the Riverwalk Theatre Feb. 24 through March 6. For more information, check out http://riverwalktheatre.com.
The Story – This new production by the BoarsHead Theatre and Detroit’s Plowshares Theatre looks at what lengths a young reporter will go to for a story. Akin to Jayson Blair, this play explores truth and fiction against the backdrop of New York City. For more information, check out www.boarshead.org.
Celebration of the Arts – The UAB will host the annual Celebration of the Arts Feb. 25 in the Union from 9 p.m. – 1 a.m. Local and student artists will be able to display and perform their art through a variety of mediums. For more information, check out www.hfs.msu.edu.

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Radiohead Devotees Fear Absolution

Attention: melodramatic, melancholy-ridden Radiohead aficionados experiencing cold sweats and other withdrawal symptoms while anxiously awaiting a new release from the English prog-rock modern-day legends, it’s time to get your fix. The notion that Radiohead is assiduously toiling away at a Baroque, elemental masterpiece a la The Bends and O.K. Computer that will exude emotional levels characteristic of those early Radiohead releases is naive. If an anthemic, introspective, alternative rock album free of abstract electronica is what you crave, then the third record release from up-and-coming English rockers Muse, titled Absolution, is your ticket.
Before an angry mob of Radiohead vigilantes creates a blog pinning the U.K. threesome as nothing short of a blatant Radiohead rip-off, there is a significant difference between Muse’s Absolution and any of Thom Yorke-and-company’s early releases – Muse resonates classically oriented guitar, piano and drum melodies that are indeed characteristic of Radiohead albums yet that are more complex, intense, intelligent and palatable than any Radiohead song, period. Blog away.
The album opens with Muse frontman and York vocal nemesis, Matt Belamy, belting out dramatic, almost sinister, lyrics about his fear of corrosion, destruction and death as an accompaniment to the apocalypse. Ferocious, grandiose, almost militaristic drumming is coupled with Belamy’s stylish tickling of the ivories that effectively engages the listener. Belamy’s ability to shrilly belt out the panicking lyrics “This is the end/The end of the world” captures the listener’s attention drill sergeant-style.
The album’s first single Time is Running Out boasts an enticing bass loop and a smooth segue into a haunting chorus. The track also gives the listener a taste of the band’s diverse influences, from the distorted instrumentals characteristic of Queen, to the timeless melodies associated with Rachmaninov and Chopin.
While miniscule deviations exist between the vocal chords of Belamy and Yorke, the fact remains that Radiohead devotees would happily stand in line for 30 minutes at Best Buy to devour Absolution if it were marketed as a digitally re-mastered release of Radiohead’s B-sides and not a new effort from Muse.
However much Radiohead devotees may sneer, Muse’s Absolution is a cross-genre, fundamental composition that surpasses remarkably similar Bends-era Radiohead. The band has deservingly earned critical acclaim and accolade in the U.K., and it’s only a matter of time before the same happens in the U.S.

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Last Minute V-Day Gifts for Guys and Gals

It’s Feb. 13, 11:59 p.m. You’re on your computer talking to your significant other, who is about to turn in for the night. You tell them goodnight and they in turn tell you, “Happy Valentine’s Day.” Happy…what? With growing horror, you realize you’ve completely blanked out on what is one of the biggest days for couples. You are short on cash and giving them nothing is out of the question. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?
Don’t panic, all is not lost. Here are some last-minute gift ideas that not only save your V-Day-forgetting ass, but score you some points as well.
Girls
1. Make a scrapbook with pictures and messages. Make sure to include where you had your first date and your first impressions. Fill the simple scrapbook with trinkets that you saved from your dates.
2. Make a CD with his favorite songs. You can even add a song that will remind him of your relationship.
3. A picnic is always romantic, but maybe not plopped down in the middle of a melting slush pile. Instead, set up a makeshift picnic inside your apartment or dorm. Lay out a blanket and a basket and maybe even light some candles.
4. Rent a romantic movie. Maybe it’s not the most creative of ideas, but it gives you a chance to cuddle up on the couch and bring out the sensitive side in your guy.
[poem]Guys
1. Make paper flowers. Why is this a good idea? They won’t die, it’s creative and you can have a variety of different flower colors. It’s simple and easy.
2. Cook your sweetie her favorite dish. It’s a lot more personal than waiting in line for hours just to be stuck at a table in the middle of a noisy restaurant.
3. If you know her favorite candy or snack, make a little gift bag! It will show how much you pay attention to what she likes, not to mention it’s cheap. Don’t just throw the food in a brown paper bag- decorate it with paper hearts or markers.
4. Write a poem. You can make it serious or funny, but either way it shows you care. Poems are a good way to express yourself when you can’t put how you feel into words at that exact moment.
Whether you are broke or just plain forgot, don’t panic. Use these simple ideas to make Valentine’s Day one to remember. Remember, it’s better than nothing and your Valentine will be happy you actually put time into thinking of them on such a special day.

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Scene & Heard

SCENE
Flipaswitch – A new comedy opens at the Riverwalk Theatre in Lansing. The musical follows the antics of two over-the-hill strippers and a stand-up comic as they find themselves stranded and penniless in the middle of Tennessee. Performances will run from Jan. 20 through Feb. 6.
Romeo and Juliet – This Shakespeare play will come to life through dance on the Wharton Center stage Jan. 23. Tickets for the 7 p.m. performance range from $20 – 37
Harlem Globetrotters – The one and only Harlem Globetrotters come to the Breslin Center for one night only, Jan. 28.
Works on Paper Exhibit – Kresge honors Martin Luther King, Jr., with a display of works by African-American artists. The exhibit will run through Feb. 3.
Masters of Illusion – The Kresge Art Museum looks at 150 Years of Trompe L’Oeil in America in a new exhibit on display through March 20.

HEARD
Bright Eyes – Bright Eyes will take the stage Jan. 18 at the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $23.
Scissor Sisters – The Scissor Sisters will be in concert on Jan. 18 at the Majestic Theatre in Detroit. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $15.
Something Corporate – Something Corporate will play Clutch Cargo’s in Pontiac Jan. 23 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $16.
MSU Wind Symphony, Symphony Band and Concert Band – The MSU bands will perform in the Great Hall of the Wharton Center Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. This is a free event for students.

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