It was a celebratory birthday weekend 197 years in the making. This past Sunday was the birthday of our greatest president and Springfield's native son, Abraham Lincoln. In honor of that momentous holiday, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum put on a serious of events. I figured what better way to celebrate my own birthday (which was also Sunday) then to attend the festivities and I was in no way disappointed.
The museum is an absolutely magical place for children and adults alike and if you haven't been to it, you should get your act together and get down there. It is filled with Lincoln artifacts and recreations and a very expansive gift shop. There is a pre-presidential years display that includes recreations of the log cabin Lincoln grew up in, the store where he clerked and his law office.
Throughout the entire museum no detail is forgotten. The figures are so realistic looking you can make out Abe's arm hairs. Then there is the White House years display that includes an actual White House. Besides the special, temporary exhibits and galleries, there are two theaters in the museum that show “Lincoln's Eyes” and “Ghosts of the Library.” Both left me just a little teary-eyed.
This weekend, in addition to the usual features, the museum was host to a variety of special events. Professor Phineas Fairhead (I'm guessing that's not his real name) is a practical phrenologist and he was in attendance to read patrons’ lumps on their heads. Bad news, he doesn't think I would have made a very successful woman in the 19th century. He said my lumps show I'm too stubborn and maybe not as “baby-minded” as one ought to be back in the day. The museum's central plaza was filled with Civil War-era music and old-time tunes all day, first by Randy Erwin and then by the Prairie Chickens.
The library hosted several special lectures this past weekend. Dr. Bryon Andreasen dealt with questions such as where Lincoln bought the wedding ring he gave to Mary Todd and what kinds of leisure activities the Lincolns enjoyed. Major findings from the Lincoln legal papers were discussed later in the day and finally archeologist Robert Mazrim discussed the archeology of New Salem.
Mrs. Lincoln's Attic is the hands-on children’s room of the museum. They have dress up clothes, building blocks, an impressive dollhouse replica of Abe and Mary Todd's home and more. The attic hosted a special storytime for the children as well as birthday party games and craft activities. And I'm pleased to report that the volunteers didn't even flinch when four college graduates started playing with the Lincoln Logs. Nor did they make fun of the bookmark I made that turned out far worse then the seven-year-old's sitting next to me at the craft table.
The Lincoln Museum is a lot of fun, particularly this past weekend. But more then that it's a way to celebrate not just Abraham Lincoln but ourselves as a country- where we have been and where we want to go. As the presenter in “Ghosts of the Library” said, “Our past illuminates our future.”
A search for a perfect man ends with 'Something New'
Gabrielle Wiegand - Feature Writer
Sometimes “Something New” comes along in life and challenges everything a person thinks they want for themselves. The film “Something New” is an almost “Pride and Prejudice” sort of story about Kenya McQueen and her search for her “ideal black man.”
A successful accountant from a prominent Los Angeles family, Kenya has a very clear idea of what she wants out of her life. She doesn't “do” dirt, or dogs, or color (which, according to her mother, is for prostitutes and children), and she certainly doesn't date white men. When she is set up on a blind date with a white man by one of her colleagues, she weakly tries to convince her date, Brian, that her policy of only dating black men is a preference, not a prejudice.
The date ends quickly, but as just about anyone can attest, fate is colorblind. Uptight Kenya runs into Brian, a landscape architect, at a party and eventually hires him to do the landscaping at her new house. In typical movie magic fashion after an appropriate amount of time and the appropriate inner turmoil, we find out that not only does Kenya “do” dirt, dogs and color, she does white men as well.
Brian is laidback, fun, and supportive. He puts up with all of Kenya's neuroses and her workaholic tendencies and does his best to fit into her world, while bringing the best of his world with him. But Kenya just HAS to stop and over think the relationship to see if they are “really going somewhere.” And then when her ideal black man does show up, Kenya starts to doubt everything she thought she knew she wanted for herself.
“Something New”’s charm comes from the natural and believable acting of the two main characters. Kenya is played by Sanaa Lathan of “Brown Sugar,” “Love & Basketball” and “The Best Man.” Her natural portrayal of a proud black woman who is starting to doubt herself just a little propelled this film forward.
The character of Brian is brought to life by the sexy Aussie Simon Baker of “L.A. Confidential” and “The Ring Two.” He pulled off the rugged American thing so well I had no idea he was Australian (and apparently also good friends with Nicole Kidman, but what Australian isn't?).
The supporting cast is delightfully peppered with charming characters played by competent actors. Kenya's brother, played by Donald Faison (“Clueless,” “Scrubs”), is a womanizing lawyer who is more then willing to get his big sister in trouble by spilling the true nature of her relationship with her white gardener to their mother. But he's also loving and supporting in an incredibly realistic, teasing way.
Kenya's parents are a study in contrasts. Her father is a loving rock who urges her to do whatever will make her happy (he made me want to run home and call my father). Kenya's mother constantly urged her not to embarrass the family.
While “Something New” is no cinematic classic, it is funny and clever in a refreshing way. At its heart it is not about the love between a man and a woman, but one woman's journey to have the courage to find her own happiness and then take it.
“Something New” is 110 minutes and rated PG-13 for sexual references.
Madden Bowl continues to have campus success
By Mark Brockett - Sports Reporter
For the third straight year, students from Lincoln Residence Hall to the campus apartments and townhouses participated in the NFL Madden tournament, a video game for Playstation 2, last Saturday.
This year’s tournament was set up by LRH Resident Assistant Dan Collins and tournament regular Ricky Stead. It was a basic double elimination format, where entrants had their names drawn randomly for seeding. Madden football games are the highest rated football games year in and year out for any of the video game consoles.
Multiple television sets are set up so games can be played and finished as quickly as possible. More than 16 people entered the tournament and arrived for the noon start time. The two entrants who are lucky enough to survive all the way to the championship game play their game on the big screen in the LRH Great Room.
Collins was very pleased in how things went this year and saw some new things this year as opposed to previous years. “This year’s Madden Bowl was a great success,” said Collins. “Although we wanted to get a few more people out to the event, it was still a lot of fun. I think this year’s tournament was the most diverse of the three that have been held. There were people from every area of housing, including two kids from Sunflower Court.”
All of those who participated in the all-day event were treated to chicken wings from the local Showme’s here in Springfield. Matt Riedle, another tournament regular and former runner-up from the first ever Madden Bowl in 2004, shared similar sentiments about the event.
“The Madden Bowl is a great event because it brings everyone together on a Saturday afternoon,” said Riedle. “It is a good time to hang out with each other and have fun.”
Collins wanted to publicly congratulate the top three finishers in the tournament in third place finisher Jesse Vezina, second place finisher Jamel Williams and now, two-time champion, Ricky Stead. Collins also encourages returning UIS students to enter next year and beyond.