Focusing On Nothing: First Steps To Meditation

12.11.2014

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By Austin Fisher

Sitting in the Kansas Zen Center in Lawrence, I try not to fidget. Six others have joined me in the dharma hall of the Center to meditate. We begin with vows and chants. No one speaks. Chalres Vitale, the abbot of the Center and leader of today’s practice, signals us to start and stop meditating by striking his hand with a wooden rod. The point of this focused-attention method is to let thoughts come and go. I count my breaths from one to 10 repeatedly and focus on the air entering and exiting my lungs and my body on the cushion. We sit in meditation for 25 minutes. We get up and walk single file around the zafus, black meditation cushions, arrayed in a square on the hardwood floor for 10 minutes. We sit again for another, much harder, 25 minutes.

This was my first try at group meditation. I had started on my own earlier that week, guided by a meditation app called Headspace. I don’t consider myself religious but I see value in traditional forms of self-contemplation, and I feel calm and a sense of relief every time I meditate. I’ve also been sleeping better since I started. The three types of meditation—focused-attention, mindfulness, and compassion—require no workout equipment or clothing. Meditation requires practice, but it can have enormous benefits. Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and many others suggest that meditation can help with depression, chronic pain, and general well-being. Compared to novice meditators, the brains of those with many hours of practice go through physical changes in parts of the brain associated with attention, pain, anxiety, compassion, and positive emotion through a process called neuroplasticity. But you can start to feel the effects in four to six weeks.

As I sit, thoughts of school, food, life, and how I’m going to write this come and go. Squirrels crawl on the roof above; leaves fall from the tree outside. A motorcycle tears through the neighborhood, its disruptive roar eventually fading away. Meditation practice is about examining thoughts and feelings without judgment.

“When you’re sitting in traffic, standing in line, or you’re late for class, you can either be aggravated, or you can use the time to tune in to your body,” says Sara Brenner, a psychiatric social worker from Massachusetts and former Harvard lecturer who meditates daily.

Meditation gives her the emotional space needed to respond more thoughtfully to events in her life. I got interested in meditation as a way of relieving stress from college.

“It can be amazingly helpful to have this mental place inside of yourself where you know you can drop into anytime and get some relief from the stress that you’re feeling from the outside world,” says Meghan Searl, a neuropsychologist at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts who is interested in how mindfulness and meditation can improve health, cognition, and even relationships. “You can pay attention better, and it can make you a better listener. It can make you more attentive to what’s happening with another person.”

Anyone can start meditation, but like my Zen experience it can be difficult at first.

“In the beginning, people can hardly hold themselves to keeping their eyes closed for five minutes because there are lots of thoughts coming into the mind,” says Krishna Ghimire, who is currently studying for a master’s in civil engineering at KU.

Ghimire is president of the KU branch of the Art of Living Foundation, a humanitarian organization associated with the United Nations. He has been meditating daily for three and a half years, and at this point he feels time move faster when he meditates. After doing some yoga postures in the morning he sits for 20 minutes, and again in the evening after class. He says meditation is a better way to get energized than napping because it doesn’t affect his sleep schedule.

The form of sitting meditation Ghimire practices has three main points. The first is to want nothing. The mind is constantly bombarded by desires, and seeks things from the outside world. You must fool your mind into giving them up. The second is more simple: Feel free to do nothing while you sit. The third is harder: You must be nothing; you have to give up your individual identity.

“You’re neither a student, nor a brother, sister, boyfriend. Just drop your identity. Letting go is the main principle,” he says.

While meditating, Ghimire experiences a state of mind that he can’t express through words. Sincere commitment and a gradual increase in practice time can make one habituated to dealing with busy, stressful situations. He recommends sitting in the same place at the same time each day, regularly. When he skips a day he just doesn’t feel right, like someone having nicotine withdrawal. You can’t fall into the trap of thinking you don’t have time to meditate; the best times for it are the busiest moments of your life.

“To make yourself capable of doing many things in a short period of time, you need meditation,” Ghimire said. “That’s why it’s there.”

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

Photo by Austin Fisher

The ABC’s of B.C.

12.04.2014

The pros and cons of birth control among college women

By Sex and Relationship Correspondent, Christine Stanwood

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As I sit in the gynecologist’s waiting room for my procedure to have an IUD inserted, I begin to wonder: Why is it my responsibility as a woman to be the one in charge of birth control? On that Friday afternoon, I awaited the pain of my cervix being stretched for the purpose of preventing a baby bump within the next five years. Meanwhile my male counterparts have already started drinking pitchers of Natty Light to kickoff the weekend.

While they don’t have to order birth control pills through their local CVS pharmacy or have an IUD procedure done, they do spend the occasional $14.99 for a 10-pack of Trojan condoms. But besides condoms, do collegiate men leave the pressure on women to prevent pregnancy? Professor Kim Warren of the Woman’s Studies Department at the University of Kansas believes sexual responsibility is inevitable.

The University of Kansas Watkins Student Health Services offers a free Women’s Health Clinic for those who need “confidential examinations, treatment, and information regarding all women’s health issues.” Multiple forms of contraception are available including: pill, ring, Depo-Provera, IUD, Necplanon, Patch, Diaphram, Condoms, and Emergency Contraception. Walk-In Hours are on Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 12 p.m.-3 p.m.

“I think there is added pressure, in general, for people to take an active role in the management of their health and their reproductive lives,” she says. “At the same time, there is a tremendous amount of pressure on women to manage their reproductive health, and then to manage childcare once children are in the picture.”

*Elizabeth, a senior at KU agrees with Professor Warren. “I think it is an added stress for women at times, but by no means do I think there is a sole individual to be held responsible.” However, she does go on to say that it would also be irresponsible for a guy to refuse to wear a condom and play the “blame game” within a pregnancy situation. The “P” word itself can make any college student shudder. According to a study conducted in 2011, the rate of unintended pregnancies among 20-24 year rose from 59% to 64%. Unfortunately, that means all dreams of a social life, potentially studying abroad, and a future career can flash before a woman’s eyes if faced with a pregnancy scare.

Thankfully, Sally, a senior at KU has not experienced a pregnancy scare but one member of her family had the unthinkable happen. “My sister actually got pregnant on birth control,” Sally recalls. “She wasn’t very good at taking the pill at the same time every day, which supposedly is a factor in how effective the pill is.”

There are many women like Elizabeth who live with a group of women. She knows that taking the daily pill can be forgotten with an ever-changing routine. “There have been a few instances where I’ll hear down the hall from my room, ‘Fuck, I forgot to take my birth control!’ she explains. “Because students’ schedules are typically more sporadic, I think we tend to be less responsible about it.”

Part of the reason why I chose to have an IUD (intrauterine contraceptive device) inserted was so I didn’t have to face the fear of having an accidental pregnancy during college. Too many times I forgot to take my birth control pill or went weeks without taking the pill because I didn’t have a sexual partner. By the off chance I wanted to have sex, I ran the risk of pregnancy. It was unfair and irresponsible to be unsafe, not only for myself but for the man I was having sex with.

After a poor experience with having multiple periods a month, bloating, and weight gain, *Sarah, a senior at KU decided to all together get off the pill. “I didn’t feel good about my body,” she adds. “I’ve been much happier since being off the pill.” Because Sarah isn’t on birth control, she is adamant that her partner wears a condom.

However, I was concerned when I found out that Sarah wasn’t using a second form of birth control. She explained to me: “There’s always the crazy story of a girl who was on the pill, or that used protection that got pregnant anyways,” she tells me. “It’s always a bit scary, but I don’t think not being on the pill is the reason for that.”

Sarah isn’t the only girl to run into problems with the pill. Several female college students have faced physical and mental obstacles with birth control in order to have sex. Elizabeth noticed an increase in hormones and emotions while taking the pill. “I’m typically not an emotional person,” she says. “But after getting on birth control I experienced extreme emotions over minuscule things and swift changes in my mood.”

Jamie, a senior at KU, also noticed a change within her emotions when first taking the pill as a junior in high school. “I got an Ovarian Cyst that ruptured and it was the most pain I’ve ever felt,” Jamie remembers. “The doctor said the cyst would return if I didn’t get on the pill.” Fortunately, because Jamie stayed on the pill, she no longer faces problems with her cysts.

But what if Jamie, like other women, wants to try an alternate form of birth control? Jamie tells me that she would consider trying another form but is reluctant to try something new with fear of the cysts returning. Turns out, other women aren’t opposed to the idea of switching but still prefer the pill. “An IUD would be ideal because of its lifespan and reliability but has its cons as well,” Elizabeth says. “Eventually I decided the pill was the best for me.” Based on data from the CDC, the pill is the leading contraceptive method among women from ages 15-29.

It wasn’t until I was laying legs apart in stirrups having the doctor buzz in another nurse when I knew this wasn’t a simple procedure. Getting an IUD was far from a simple procedure. The pain I felt within that 2-minute session felt like an hour. I gasped for air and screams came out of my body that I couldn’t control from what felt like a sharp cut inside me. “Hold her hand”, the doctor motioned the nurse toward me. With a swift step, she took my hand and didn’t break eye contact. She acted as a mother figure in a moment where all I wanted was my mom.

Reflecting back on that day, I’m glad I was able to make an adult decision for myself. I would encourage women to become familiar with all options for birth control. And men, continue to appreciate your condoms.

*These women chose to remain anonymous based on conversations about sexual and personal decisions

 

Photo by Christine Stanwood

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

Lawrence Public Library: Modern Place and Campus Escape

11.22.2014

By Audrey Danser

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With the semester in full swing, the crowds have settled upon the campus libraries and you’ve started to realize the drab decor, musty odor of the resource books and desolate WWII bunker feel of the Watson stacks. Don’t get me wrong, I have a fondness for KU libraries, but I sometimes need a break from my study space.

For students not willing to sacrifice five bucks for a latte in order to “pay rent” at a coffee shop, and I sure don’t blame you, the newly renovated Lawrence Public Library (LPL) is the perfect off-campus study spot. With the modern but equally inviting atmosphere, a good study playlist, and a cup of joe, one can easily get what they need to get shit done.

“Sometimes you just need to get away from campus to get focused, and the public library is a great space to do that,” LPL Marketing Coordinator and recent KU grad Jeni Daley said in an email interview. “We have plenty of space for you to spread out and a good mix of conversation and quiet spaces that offer the best ambiance.”

LPL, which reopened July 26 after a several-month renovation, has all the modern amenities for technology, research and even artistic expression. A 20,000 square foot expansion around the core of the existing building adds an open floor space to accommodate additional shelving, a children’s space, and lounge areas for study or recreational reading. Students have access to any of the reservable study rooms, computers and wifi, and knowledgeable staff. Most importantly, for those who need a caffeine fix, there’s a coffee bar available from the Sconelady to satisfy all cravings.

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The downtown presence of the library, located at 7th and Vermont, now reflects the up-to-date resources the institute offers. The building, designed by Mass Street architecture firm Gould Evans, is a modern standout in comparison to the quaint feel of downtown.

Straying from the typical brick façade of the surrounding area, terra cotta panels wrap the library into a uniting shell. The continuous envelope of the structure creates a unique space with no “back façade” – the library faces the community from every direction, best viewed from the floor-to-ceiling windowed corners. Gould Evans paid special attention to these windows in its design, noting that it allows the public to peer into the building and engage with it prior to entering.

Despite the modern aesthetic of the building and the connotation that typically comes with “modern,” the library’s interior is cozy. The most prominent feature of the design, the different means of natural lighting, softly illuminates the interior space and brings warmth to the atmosphere. The open floor plan adds to the airy feel and allows one to flow easily in and out of the bookshelves searching for research materials or simply a new read. The light wood material, simplistic furniture and striking black typography add a final, clean touch.

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Apart from the new look, the renovation emphasizes that the library is no longer an ancient institution, rather a community gathering space that can accommodate all ages.

“You can now come to the library to not only discover your next favorite book, but to record an album [free of charge in the sound+vision studio], find out how to fix your car or your career, grab a latte and a spicy romance, or just sit in the sunny corners and contemplate life,” Daley explained.

These many roles of the library, both current and evolving, were all considered during the design process of the addition.

“Although there are many uncertainties about how the library will interact with changes in how books are consumed, there are many roles that the library will always maintain,” said a representative of the architecture firm in an email interview.

One of the most important and timeless roles of the library is the sense of community, which is now accurately complemented by the space.

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As you study in this new atmosphere, you will notice this sense of belonging. Children snuggle into picture books with their parents on the oversized reading staircase, your typical Lawrence grandfather rests into a comfortable chair reading the Journal World, and as you glance down the shelves of fiction novels, two trendy tweens gawk over the latest issue Vogue. LPL creates an atmosphere where it is easy to feel part of Lawrence community, not just campus.

 

Photos by Marlee Schuld

Edited by Hannah Swank

Street Style: Fall Hues

11.13.2014

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Teach Me To Fly

11.09.2014

By Kristen Polizzi

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Barefoot and bewildered, I hung upside down. My fingers tightly gripped a black, rubber-wrapped hoop that swung haphazardly from a wood-paneled ceiling.

I’d been instructed to move with control: to lift my legs and core off the ground, keeping my shoulders square with the padded mats below, hitching my knees into the hoop, before dropping one leg and the matching hand, allowing them to float fluidly through the air.

I drew a breath in one syllable and let it out in the next. Con-trol. And then I launched. Legs up, crotch to bar, I wrapped myself around the hoop with the speed and fury of a battered tetherball.

Sometime over the summer, I’d spotted the space from whose ceiling I currently swung. In north Lawrence, nestled between Johnny’s Tavern and The Village Witch, sits a stone-front that—having served as a martial arts studio, bicycle recyclery and art gallery infamous for its underage raves—is now home to The Last Carnival, the city’s first and only school for circus arts.

COME ONE, COME ALL

Interested in taking a class at The Last Carnival? Check out TLC’s calendar to find class dates and times. Then register online to save your spot! For questions, contact Sihka.
The circus school presents Spectacle de Cirque, a student showcase, Sunday, Dec. 21 at the Granada. Tickets are $10 on pre-sale and $15 at the door. For more things weird and wild, find The Last Carnival on Facebook.

It was there, in an exhibitionist’s Eden on a block broken by the river, that I enrolled in my first aerial dance class. Introduction to Aerial Arts, a $20, hour-long session and prerequisite for the beginner level course, was meant to teach the basic moves—mounts, descents, foot-locks and climbs—on the aerial silks, aerial hoop and static trapeze. The class was capped at four students, but I’d landed a private lesson.

I met my instructor at the door. Lavender hair framed a friendly face and trailed braided and blue down her back. In the studio she was Sihka and on the stage: Sihka Ann Destroy. Only her parents call her by her given name, which she never did tell me.

“My kids have performance names too,” she said, laughing. “They just happen to be their actual names.”

She spoke excitedly about her son, Wylder Animal, who at age 3 is no stranger to the silks; and her 9-year-old daughter, Willow Lotus, who practices her half flag on parking meters downtown.

Sihka wasn’t raised in three rings. She grew up in Florissant, Mo., a second-ring suburb of St. Louis, and saw aerial silks performed for the first time as a child at a flea market circus in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She hit the road at 18 and after more than a decade of walking, biking and hitchhiking across the country, studying dance and working as a street performer, she settled for the second time in Lawrence where she opened The Last Carnival in January.

I slipped off my sandals and followed her to the studio’s center, where she guided me through a series of stretches—a deep lunge, a deeper lunge. Could I call what came next a split? She assessed me as being “actually pretty flexible,” an appraisal I accepted with caution. I was, after all, intimately aware of the limits of my own athleticism.

“I can’t do that one either,” said Montana Hockenbury, about a stretch that forcedly introduced my elbows to the backs of my knees. The 18-year-old advanced aerial student from Lawrence, whose thin frame I’d seen flitting around the room to Paloma Faith’s “Upside Down,” sunk cross-legged onto the mat beside me.

Hockenbury graduated from Lawrence Free State last spring and has since taken on a new course load: eight acrobatic classes per week split among The Last Carnival and a few studios in Kansas City. She plans to apply to professional circus schools in Montreal and San Francisco. A traveling troupe, she said, would suit her just fine.

After that, it was time to fly.

Sihka demonstrated how to anchor the silks—two pieces of nylon fabric joined at top and suspended from the ceiling—by wrapping them twice around her calf and securing them in a loop under her heel. I followed along and, with my left foot, stepped through the sling I’d just created with my right.

Then came the “egg roll” (see unflattering picture below), which was—at least the way I did it—less of a roll and more of a flip backward into open air. With a silk in each fist, I slowly shifted my weight backward, drawing my left knee toward my chest until I could see out the open door behind me. Sihka, sensing that I might, at any moment, come catapulting into an upright position, held the silks steady as I completed the trick.

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(My extremely graceful foray into the world of aerial arts.)

A few feet away, the purple, padded mats were being parted to accommodate one of two newly polished poles.

Stephanie McIntosh, a Kansas City native and The Last Carnival’s most recent hire, was preparing to teach the school’s first pole fitness class later that night. She spoke softly at first but grew increasingly animated, spewing details of how she—a swimmer and track star with no previous dance experience—had turned pole fitness into a passion and part-time career.

Four years ago, while studying at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, she’d taken her first pole dance class with her sorority sisters; six months later, she was teaching it.

“It’s not something you have to be born into,” she said, echoing the sentiments of nearly every instructor in the studio that day.

Next up: the aerial hoop.

We crossed the mats, weaving in and out among the talents of Sihka’s “bendy students.” A young girl in pigtails and striped tights reclined in mid-air—her spine shaped smoothly to the curve of a steel hoop that swung lazily past a large picture window. Sihka nodded at a nearby silk, a signal the girl must have interpreted as “Clear the area.” Because she dropped deftly to the ground, mounting a silk across the studio.

I flexed my fingers around the hoop’s rubber wrapping, bent my knees and inhaled deeply. My arms started to shake.

 

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

Photos by Samantha Darling

Anal: The New Black?

11.09.2014

By Callan Reilly

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It seems anal sex is taking over, with articles being written everywhere about what was referred to as “the road less traveled.” But still, beliefs behind the popular sex trend are complicated.

GQ, Cosmo and even Huffington Post have all dabbled in the hot topic — whether it’s a how-to guide or persuasive essay.

“I think it’s the fact that we are getting a little older that it’s not such a weird thing,” said Annie*, a junior from Overland Park. “Even a year or so ago I had heard a friend of mine had done it, and I thought it was so weird,” she said. “Now it’s not such a big deal.”

According to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that polled people between the ages of 15 and 44, 36 percent of straight women and 44 percent of straight men admitted to having had anal sex at least once in their lives. Additionally, the Journal of Sexual Medicine announced in 2010 the number of 18 to 19 year-olds who’ve been anally penetrated rose by 20 percent between 1992 and 2010.

Though anal sex play seems increasingly popular, the topic is still holding onto some taboo stereotypes.

“From a girl’s point of view it’s looked down upon as slutty or trashy,” said Katie*, a senior from Leawood. “I also feel like guys like taking a new virginity from someone again. It’s almost like a game.”

This is what University of Kansas professor emeritus and sex therapist Dennis Dailey calls “sexual male bravado,” which he describes as men bragging or competing with sexual activity — whether it’s oral, vaginal or anal.

A Live Science study also reinforces Dailey’s point. One hundred thirty teens ages 16 to 18 from diverse backgrounds were interviewed on their opinions of sexual experiences in August. Males in the study appeared to perceive having anal as a competition. Even though not all the young men in the study said they wanted to have anal sex, many of them said men encourage one another to try the practice. The teens also expected men to find pleasure in anal sex, whereas women were mostly expected to endure the negative aspects of anal sex, such as pain or a damaged reputation.

So, does this make the increasingly-popular anal sex “degrading?”

“I think any sexual behavior if expressed in a certain way can be degrading,” Dailey said. “Even though there’s more openness about anal sex play, it’s still 30 or 40 percent of people who get involved with that with any kind of regularity. I think those who do it do so as part of a pleasurable experience with each other. I don’t think it’s naturally a degrading experience.”

Despite the conflicting reasons behind performing the act, it is happening.

“I think it has to do with a general level of comfort with sexuality,” Dailey said. “I think that what’s changed is not that there’s more of it, but more comfort or more openness in talking about it. Over the last several decades there’s been a small incremental change and openness about sexuality, even though there’s still a lot of people who struggle with issues and problems.”

Ben*, a senior from Kansas City, Kan., is open to anal sex. I asked him if a woman who is also open to anal sex play affects his opinion of her. “Absolutely not,” he said. “If anything it’s a bonus because it shows she’s open to different things. If the girl wants it I have no problem doing it every once in a while.”

Ben says he prefers vaginal sex over anal, but describes himself as always having an open mind.

“If my partner is really into it I’ll cater to her needs, but I personally won’t ask for it more than a couple times a month,” he said. “I am open to everything, who am I to judge? To me sex has never been just about doing a few select things.”

 

*Names changed

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

 

From Dreadlocks to Darth Maul, a Phone Call With Pat Seals of Flyleaf

10.23.2014

By Samantha Darling

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“Correct me if I’m wrong,” Pat Seals, bass player for the band Flyleaf, said. “But doesn’t Lawrence have the smartest people per capita or something like that?”

I told him I wasn’t sure, but that’s a reputation I’m sure the people of Lawrence, Kan. are happy to have. After further investigation, I found that Lawrence is ranked fourth on the 2014 list of “Most Educated Cities” in America by the financial website SmartAsset.com. So, close enough.

Pat Seals and the rest of the rock band Flyleaf were last in Lawrence about 10 years ago when they had a show at The Bottleneck, Seals said. Now the band is on tour for their newest album, “Between the Stars,” which was released September 16 of this year. When the band plays at The Granada on Friday, Oct. 24, Kansas will be the 12th state they’ve visited since the start of the tour at the beginning of October.

Since their last visit to Lawrence, the band has been busy. Their self-titled debut including the hit “All Around Me” went platinum.  The band’s next album, “Memento Mori,” hit the Top 10 of the Billboard Top 200. Their single “I’m So Sick” is on the first Rock Band video game and the single “Tina” is on Guitar Hero III. In 2012, then-lead singer Lacey Strum stepped down after the release of the band’s third album, “New Horizons.” Without missing a beat, the band’s current lead vocalist, Kristen May, stepped in. When I spoke with Seals over the phone, the band was in Milwaukee preparing for their show that evening.

Seals said he looks forward to playing in Lawrence because it’s a college town and the crowd is more laid back. Everyone is just out to have a good time and as a result, the band feels more relaxed and has a good time too.

In that carefree spirit, we switched it up and I started sentences and had Seals finish them.

If I were an animal I’d be…
PS: a raccoon, because I’m always digging around in the refrigerator in the middle of the night.

My favorite part of Halloween is…
PS: oh man, the candy.

For Halloween I’m dressing up as…
PS: The band’s going to have a Star Wars theme. I think I might be the Darth Maul, maybe.

If I weren’t in a band I’d probably be…
PS: an art teacher… or a garbage man.

It’s embarrassing now, but in my early 20s…
PS: I had dreadlocks.

The best part of being on tour is…
PS: getting to do what I love.

But, the thing I miss most about home is…
PS: my wife.

The craziest thing to happen so far on this tour is…
PS: I got attacked by two German Shepherds while I was practicing outside the venue in Philadelphia! It reached 5 o’clock and the co-owner of the lot let them out to start watching it. I just happened to be standing on the inside of the fence, on the wrong side, and I had my headphones in. All the sudden I hear barking and I look over and they’re just right at my hand. I immediately yelled for help and the guy came over and called them off.

What we disagree about most within the band is…
PS: thermostat temperature, always.

If that’s the worst of their woes, I’d say the group has got it pretty easy. Lawrence awaits what is undoubtedly going to be a kick-ass show. We’ll even overlook the fact that you’re not a Royals fan and haven’t been following the World Series, Pat.

 

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

Photos provided by Pat Seals

The 3 Investment Pieces to Get You Through Fall

10.20.2014

By Jordan MacGillivray

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Fall weather is sweeping in, and with the weather here in Lawrence, Kansas, I advise everyone to consider their outfits sooner than expected. This cold weather definitely calls for the fall necessities, which includes layers, layers, and, yes – more layers. However, figuring out what layers and, more specifically, which fall trends to spend your money on can be a challenge. I’m here to make that difficult decision easier.

1. Riding Boots

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The need for good footwear is imperative, especially when walking around campus and up the hill. A good, solid pair of riding boots is a pivotal factor in this season’s fall trends. Convincing yourself to spend the money on boots shouldn’t be too difficult since brown or black riding boots can go with everything from game-day dresses to skinny jeans and big sweaters. This is an ingenious way to make any outfit look that much more put together.

2. Outerwear

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The beginning of our fall season has brought many inches of rain with endless amounts of cold wind. A nice windbreaker or anorak is of the upmost importance, and the great thing is there are many affordable options – H&M has great ones! However, when it comes to a strong jacket that is primarily for warmth, I recommend investing in one that will last for many years to come. A jacket with an inside that can be taken out can also double as a raincoat or light top layer. For inexpensive trends, try outerwear in jewel tones or soft, romantic colors. I’m particularly interested in the pastel pink, faux fur coats.

3. Dark Wash Denim

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When it comes to jeans, I recommend investing in a good pair of dark wash skinny jeans. These jeans are essential for cold weather and are transitional into any approaching season. This fall, dark plum and emerald green colors are extremely popular, and what better way to incorporate these hues into your wardrobe than colored denim? Instead of investing in trendy high-end pieces, there are much more affordable places, like Forever 21 or Urban Outfitters, that have countless colored jeans that will be useful this season.

Any trends emerging this season can be found at assorted stores for an inexpensive fix. These 3 staples will get you through this season and many seasons to come.

 

Photos by Hannah Mougel

Model: Nikki Snyder

WTF Is Up: 8 Things to Know

10.16.2014

By Samantha Darling, Victoria Kirk, Sara Kruger, Kristen Polizzi, and Callan Reilly

What do supermodel Naomi Campbell, Ebola and fashion have in common? Campbell, through her Fashion for Relief foundation, is working to launch two benefit fashion shows in New York and London in February to help raise money to fight the disease.

The Kansas City Star is aiming to set the Guinness World Record for most people dressed as “Wizard of Oz” characters. Grab your ruby slippers and 1,093 of your closest friends, and head to the Legends Outlets this Saturday Oct. 18 at 11 a.m. for a group picture.

A study by Pornhub and Buzzfeed — yes, you read that correctly — shows that women prefer lesbian porn because it’s more “true-to-life” than heterosexual porn. Don’t believe it? Check out the report on Glamour.

Tired of the high-waisted shorts look? Unfortunately for you, high-waisted bottoms continue trending into fall. Hip-huggers’ decade long reign is drowning in this year’s excess of abdominal coverage–seen on the runways of Balenciaga, Burberry Prorsum and Jean Paul Gaultier.

The cult hit “American Horror Story” is now into its third week of the fourth season, “Freak Show.” The Huffington Post looked at the real American history behind this season’s sideshow theme.

Flaming Lips former drummer Kilph Scurlock has returned to Lawrence, and has “found peace” from his parting with the band. Scurlock, who was not a fan of the band’s work with Miley Cyrus, was fired from the band six months ago. He will be performing a live set after a screening of “Phantom of the Paradise” at the Lawrence Arts Center on Oct. 30.

Think you perform better in bed after a glass of wine? Think again. Health magazine has a list of the best and worst food and drink options for your sex life. You’ll never look at sesame seeds or avocados the same way.

Clothes are to houses as hunger is to thirst, according to Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld. Fashion is as much based on utility as basic human needs, and Lagerfeld’s architectural perspective shines through in the Chanel Cruise 2015 campaign.

Street Style: The Thinker

10.09.2014

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Photos by Marlee Schuld

Street Style: Throwback Thursday

10.09.2014

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Photos by Hannah Mougel

Butt Why? The Return of the Backside

10.05.2014

By Christine Stanwood

It’s a breezy, 75-degree day outside and I decide it’s the perfect time for a joyride. I roll down my windows and turn on the radio. Jason Derulo is crooning, “You know what to do with that big fat butt,” over the airwaves. Not quite feeling the popular tune, I quickly turn off the radio and focus my attention to the newly yellow leaves on the trees throughout campus. Ah, Jayhawk Boulevard! Free at las—asses, more asses. Yoga pants and high-waisted jean shorts quickly blur my vision. I drive back home and turn on MTV only to find Nicki Minaj twerking in a neon pink thong to her newest hit, “Anaconda.” Face palm, America.

I can’t be the only one crazy to think that this ass obsession is getting out of control. Butt why?

Recent articles in the New York Times and even Vogue are saying that butts are back in style. Having a juicy butt could be comparable to flannel for fall. Patricia Garcia, associate culture editor of Vogue says in an article, “In music videos, in Instagram photos, and on today’s most popular celebrities, the measure of sex appeal is inextricably linked to the prominence of a woman’s behind.”

Here to stay
Being attracted to a big butt isn’t just a fad. David Buss, Ph.D., psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin discussed the topic in a recent interview for Men’s Health Magazine. He talked about why the attraction of a butt is primal. He states in the article that, “If a woman has a full tush, that’s a signal to your primitive brain that she’s probably carrying enough fat to become pregnant.”

Is it possible that we could credit this recent exposure to, dare I say it, men? We know the age-old trick: men are taught from a young age to hold open the door for women, to not only be polite but to also get a quick peek at her behind. Will Webber, junior at the University of Kansas says that men are helpless to the allure of the big backside.

“We’ve been taught since the stone age to seek out wide birthing hips and start big families with big butts,” Webber said. “Personally, I believe this evolutionary trait is obsolete—much like the presence of wisdom teeth—because I’m not trying to have any kids in the near future.”

If men’s views on butts are shaping pop culture, are women changing their lifestyles to shape their butts? Bianca Fugate, senior at KU doesn’t think so.

“I personally do not focus on my butt when I go to the gym,” she said. “I figure that if I’m working on my body as a whole, my butt will do what it’s supposed to.”

Fugate believes the focus on butts varies from woman to woman.

“Some people like their butts more than anything else on their bodies, so for them showing off their butt makes them feel more confident with themselves,” she said.

However, not all men are on board with this trend. At least in collegiate culture, often times you’ll overhear guys discussing their preference of being a “tits guy” versus an “ass-man.” Collins Uwagba, a senior in the KU Pharmacy school explains that being a “tits guy” can trump the butt trend.

“I like tall slim girls, and that doesn’t really come with them having a big ass,” he said. “A big ass doesn’t really excite or entice me.”

Regardless, we all know that trends are cyclical and next year could easily be the “Return of the Rack” and cleavage could be the new black. But Webber doesn’t think the butt obsession is going away anytime soon.

“I think it’s probably here to stay,” he says. “Or who knows, maybe men will soon come to the realization that girls do, in fact, poop.”

 

Photo by Allie Welch

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

A Beginner’s Guide To Bubble Soccer

10.05.2014

By Kristen Polizzi

Mike Marcus, a University of Kansas senior in the religious studies department, spits strategy from the sidelines of a makeshift soccer field in Watson Park.

“I don’t know why I’m yelling,” he says. “They can’t hear anything inside those things.”

Marcus motions vaguely toward his teammates, a cloudy cluster of 20-somethings whose earlier athleticism gave way to waddling and falling sometime after they suited up. This is what I came to see: a budding sport and a gawker’s delight. I’m talking, of course, about Lawrence’s premier bubble soccer league, which has drawn spectators and slowed Sunday traffic at the corner of Sixth and Tennessee for the past three weeks.

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The guide

For the ill-informed, bubble soccer is, in the most transparent terms, traditional soccer with a twist. Teams of six battle for the ball in 20-minute halves. They shoot. They score. But one glaring peculiarity tips the scales from sport to spectacle. And that is the bubble.

Players bumble about with all but their legs tucked inside giant, inflated, crystal-colored orbs, which act as buffers for bumps and bruises and, at the same time, effectively level the playing field for novice and experienced athletes. This is about fun, not finesse, and most certainly not about fancy footwork. In fact, players are probably better off knowing less about soccer and more about basic physics. Because when bubble-to-bubble contact sends opponents flying with the force and directedness of a human pinball machine, you may realize that ‘sizing up the competition’ carries some serious weight.

A brief history

Where was bubble soccer born? Most likely on a Norwegian small screen, where the television series ‘Golden Goal’ publicized the sport (boblefotball) in 2011. Three years later, ‘The Tonight Show’ host Jimmy Fallon brought it stateside and inspired the inaugural U.S. league in Chicago. And now, after touring countless fields and facilities in cities across the country, the fledgling sport has finally landed in Lawrence.

One thing is certain: We’re all beginners here.

About the bubble  

I should probably address the $400, 15-pound bubble in the room. How much protection does that beach ball behemoth really provide? Turns out, quite a bit. The consensus among players is that the bubble—although hot, heavy and nearly soundproof—handles high-speed collisions like champ.

“You’re living your parents’ dream,” Marcus said. “It’s a contact sport, but their kid is completely protected in this little bubble.”

Go to play

While this season is over, you may still have a (sporting) chance. Kyle Meyers, co-owner of Silverback Enterprises, the Lawrence-based event production company that hosts the local bubble soccer league, said another season is in the works.

“We’re still getting registration forms sent in and calls from people wanting to play,” Meyers said. “So we will probably start signups for another league right after this one.”

If the registration rules remain the same, leagues will be filled on a first come first serve basis. The price to play—$40 per person and $240 per team—includes custom designed uniforms. Watch for updates on Silverback’s website and the Lawrence Bubble Soccer Facebook page

Still need convincing? Check out what local bubble soccer players had to say. Then start toying with team names.

 

Meet the players and the ref who hosts their game

Jacob CloudJacob Cloud

From: Lawrence

Off the field: Pastor at New Church Lawrence on campus

Team: Ball Busters With a Sporting Chance

Rival: The Winners. We beat them twice.

Position: Forward…and linebacker

Experience: I’ve played [regular] soccer since I was four.

And that helps? Not at all.

Motivation: Pure fun…a little bit of wanting to slam into people. It’s half and half.

Performance (in three words or less): Slightly beyond shabby

Game winning strategy: Our team has a motto. Two words: no mercy. But we always say ‘two words’ first. So, really it’s four words.

GOAL!s: Go pro.

 

Brittany Besler

 

Brittany Besler

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Off the field: Rocks the desk at Entercom (a radio broadcasting company in KC)

Team: The Marauders

Rival: [Calls to team captain] WHO’S OUR RIVAL? Ball Busters With a Sporting Chance.

Position: Wherever they need me.

Experience: About three years of [regular] soccer

And that helps? No. I couldn’t see my feet.

Motivation: I’ve got friends on the team, and it sounded like fun.

Game winning strategy: Attack.

GOAL!s: To score some.

 

Freese

 

Kyle Freese

From: Lawrence

Off the field: KU sophomore studying economics

Team: Echoes of Distant Thunder

Rival: Whoever we’re playing next.

Position: Midfield or forward

Experience: I’ve played [regular] soccer since I was 5.

And that helps? I think so. It’s easier to move the ball.

Motivation: Some friends recruited me.

Performance (in three words or less): Make them bleed.

Game winning strategy: Hit hard and get up fast.

GOAL!s: Oh, I hope to be making six figures by next year.

 

Meyers

 

Kyle Meyers

From: St. Paul, Minn.

Off the field: Co-owner of Silverback Enterprises

What are the most important rules in bubble soccer? It’s a balance of fun and safety. Sometimes there’s a false sense of security that comes from being in the bubble.

Good players never take themselves too seriously.

Previous referee experience: Absolutely none.

Most controversial call this season: Last weekend there was a tie, so we decided to do a jousting face off.

Why does bubble soccer belong in Lawrence? It’s weird. It’s out there. But it’s also family friendly.

 

Photos by Kristen Polizzi

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

 

 

M.O.T.H. Staff Collection: October

10.02.2014

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In our latest installment of M.O.T.H., the Style on the Hill staff has provided you with sweet sound-sations to revive you before midterms. Check out the rest of our playlists and follow us on the SOTH Soundcloud page.

 

WTF is Up: 6 Things to Know

9.22.2014

By Arena Chitanavong, Austin Fisher, Sara Kruger and Callan Reilly

 

As millenials’ support for marijuana legalization increases, legalization proponents saw recent victories. Colorado recreational marijuana sales outpaced medical sales in July and the state has made over $37 million since January just from taxing trees.

Just over half of Americans over the age of 16 – 50.2 percent of them, or 124.6 million – are single, the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds. This is the first time the majority of the country has been single since such record-keeping began in 1976, when it was at 37.6 percent.

Fringe is the look this coming spring. Jazz Age-inspired fringe has long been a staple, while the look appeared on Spring 2015 runways like at Etro in Milan. The collection featured American Indian-inspired fringe on hemlines, boots and purses.

What are you more excited for: the release of the iPhone 6 or the iOS 8 update? With the innovative upgrades and updates, there can still be downsides to the new technology.

Society’s views on relationships are evolving, according to Austrian futurologist, Prof. Reinold Popp. His study on relationship trends shows that couples therapy will be the norm, independence and living separately are a must, and online dating will remain popular, just to name a few.

The most memorable doe-eyed sixties fashion icon turned 65 on Friday. In a birthday tribute to Twiggy, Vogue wrote that her alluring assets are “a Cockney accent, a lack of sophistication and of conceit, a limited vocabulary, and a very sweet nature.” Twiggy’s freckled nose, round eyes and cropped hairstyle has yet to lose its grip on American fashion lovers’ hearts.

Street Style: Teal Feels

9.18.2014

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Photos by Hannah Mougel

WTF is Up: 7 Things to Know

9.18.2014

By Brooklyn Barnes, Samantha Darling, Victoria Kirk and Kristen Polizzi

 

Alternative band St. Lucia will be playing at the Granada this Saturday. The concert is part of the Red Bull Sound Select tour, which also features Rose Quartz and The Electric Sons. The concert is free with RSVP here.

If you want to see Ben Affleck and Neil Patrick Harris star in the newest mystery-thriller, “Gone Girl,” before the rest of the country, start planning a road trip to Missouri. The film is expected to premiere on Oct. 2, a day before the national premiere, in Cape Girardeau, Mo., where part of the movie was shot.

Four students from North Carolina State University have developed a special brand of nail polish called Undercover Colors. The nail polish has the chemical capability of detecting if date rape drugs have been put in a drink. If the girl stirs her drink with her finger and she’s wearing the nail polish, it will change colors if drugs are present.

Country artist Logan Mize will be performing in Lawrence on Sunday, Sept. 21. Mize, from Clearwater, Kan., has made it big in Nashville, and is taking his talents through Kansas. Tickets are $12, and the concert starts at 8 p.m.

Renowned horror and fantasy novelist Stephen King will be in Kansas City on Nov. 13 to discuss his new book “Revival.” Don’t miss out. You might regret it. Forever. And ever.

A life-sized bronze statue of singer Amy Winehouse was unveiled on what would have been her 31st birthday, Sunday, Sept. 14. The statue is in Camden, North London, where Winehouse lived before her death in 2011. Winehouse’s father told BBC the statue “will provide fans a place to visit and attract people to the area.”

Still looking for something to do this Friday night? The Used and Taking Back Sunday are playing a free show Sept. 19 at Power and Light in Kansas City.

Street Style: Queen of F*!$ing Everything

9.15.2014

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Photos by Hannah Mougel

WTF is Up: 8 Things to Know

9.14.2014

By Arena Chitanavong, Austin Fisher, Victoria Kirk and Callan Reilly

 

KU basketball coach Bill Self caught up with college friend and country super star Garth Brooks last week. The Rosemont, Illinois concert was the opening night of Brooks’ tour. The next day, the two Oklahoma State grads worked with 150 kids from the local Boys and Girls Club and Salvation Army.

A new study showed that in young women’s weekday reports of skipping school and failing tests, these instances were significantly linked to more frequent sex and less frequent condom use on that same day.

The “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius was cleared of murder charges, but found guilty of culpable homicide on Thursday. His sentencing has been set for Oct. 13 and he can spend a maximum of 15 years in jail.

With nude photos of celebrities being hacked and issues of privacy making headlines, is Iggy Azalea the next victim? Reports surfaced this week that a sex tape featuring the rapper is being shopped around to porn sites.

The total student debt in the United States recently topped $1.2 trillion. On “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver explained that lower state funding for higher education and rising tuition might be to blame.

Younger couples who share household chores equally report the highest quality sex lives, according to a new study. The report from researchers at Cornell University and Georgia State University finds that spouses who split work around the house have the most sex and are most satisfied with their frequency of lovemaking.

Vox’s Danielle Kurtzleben says student debt may be contributing to why millennials are avoiding credit cards. Giving up on plastic can affect credit history, which can affect finances in the future. However, the mere 37 percent of young credit card-holders could change the way credit reports are rated.

On Tuesday, the Fashion Rocks 2014 show featured two hours of live music from some of music’s biggest names, like Usher, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj. In addition to the music, the night featured fashion, booty and even booing.

Extreme Midget Wrestling

9.12.2014

By Maddy Moloney

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I didn’t believe it either, with my face pressed against the car window as I rode shotgun past the Granada. The sign read “Extreme Midget Wrestling” Thursday, Sept. 11. I didn’t realize midgets could be extreme… or that they wrestled. Or that you are allowed to call them midgets. To the best of knowledge, I thought the term “midget” was derogatory, but I suppose “Extreme Little People Wrestling” doesn’t have quite the same effect.

My curiosity got the best of me, and I dragged along my partner in crime, Erica, to witness the spectacle.

We arrived at 7:15 p.m. to a short line in front of the Granada and paid a hefty $14 for general admission because the $20 ringside tickets were sold out. We wandered in and found a spot close to the stage, directly in front of the pint-sized wrestling ring.

The crowd seemed to hold a wide variety of patrons made up of herds of drunk fratstars all dressed in U.S.A. apparel, some drunk unimpressed hipsters and a couple sets of dads with their kids – because what better way to bond?

Eventually, 8 p.m. rolled around. This was the time the show was supposed to start, but the midget divas kept us all waiting until about 8:30. Naturally.

When the wrestlers finally did come out on stage, the crowd went wild. I can’t put my finger on it, but something about midgets wrestling really gets a drunk crowd going.

The first fight was between Mike Hawk, a feisty little guy with a mohawk, and The Rookie, who had hair down past his shoulders, with the referee being called the Little Pecker Head who donned a Nacho Libre-style mask.

Once the fight started, all the doubts I had vanished. The wrestlers were good – and cheesy. You could clearly tell the moves were choreographed, but between that and the metal music, it only helped to hype up the crowd.

The first thing you should know is that midgets fight dirty. They weren’t even ten minutes in before Mike Hawk started bringing out weapons. There were metal chains, shopping carts and a small step latter that the wrestlers used to help beat the shit out of each other.

The second thing you should know is that midget wrestlers love to talk about their penises. There were plenty of obscene hand gestures, and at one point, the crowd started chanting “Little Penis.”

The next round starred Fabio, who looked like a cross between Fabio and Tim Riggins, and the Little Pecker Head. The fight was close, but Fabio ended up coming out on top.

The final round involved a two-versus-one match, with the winners of the past two rounds fighting the previous champ, Canada. To say the fight was intense would be an understatement. About halfway through, all the other previous wrestlers joined the stage to start wailing on one another.

After about half an hour of fighting, one by one the wrestlers bowed out until The Rookie defeated Canada to win the title belt.

After the round, the wrestlers came out on stage to thank everyone for coming and then promptly brought the night full circle by closing the show yelling, “Now let’s get drunk!”

 

Edited and photographed by Hannah Swank

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