Whether it's Georgetown University's "Philosophy and Star Trek" course or Oprah's teaching stint at Northwestern University, we're always fascinated when academia and pop culture collide. This weekend, the University of Kansas squeezes no less than Godzilla himself under the intellectual microscope. In Godzilla's Footsteps: Japanese Pop Culture Icons on the Global Stage brings international scholars of anthropology, culture and the arts to Lawrence to examine the cranky monster's effects on postwar Japan and global attitudes. The conference commemorates the 50th anniversary of the original Japanese film, Gojira, which anyone can catch for free at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Liberty Hall (642 Massachusetts). Those who are inclined toward the ultracampy can make a day of it: The weekend's events kick off with a giant Godzilla balloon inflated on the roof of Liberty Hall at 12:45 p.m., and a discussion with a KU professor follows the evening movie.
Though it's too late to register for the weekend brainfest, where great minds dissect the King of Monsters, the free film festival continues at 7:30 p.m. Friday with Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster, the slightly psychedelic 1971 masterpiece of bad dubbing, and at 7:30 p.m. Saturday with the recent Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. For a complete schedule, call KU's Center for East Asian Studies at 785-864-3849.
Event organizer William Tsutsui, associate professor of history, expects the conference to draw 250 people, with twice as many showing up for the free flicks. Locals have already shown an appetite for the creature -- the Godzilla Takes Kansas film festival brought 400 people to Lawrence in 2000 -- so this time a documentary crew plans to film and interview whatever throngs of Godzillaphiles show up. --Sarah Smarsh
A Bar Is Born
Wedged between two derelict downtown storefronts at 1727 McGee stands a small, unpretentious nightclub that is well on its way to becoming a Kansas City institution. "I never wanted to own a bar," says Brick owner Sheri Parr, who, after a ten-year stint at the Grand Emporium, wanted to open a tea parlor. Then, four days after discovering the vacant, brick-walled space on McGee, Parr realized that she probably should stick to what she does best and went about launching the bar that has become the indie-rock crowd's go-to place. Celebrate The Brick's fifth anniversary this weekend with bands on Friday and Saturday and a karaoke costume party on Sunday. Call 816-421-1634 for details. --Jason Harper
Wanna Stray the Night?
Last year's Ad Astra Per Aspera Halloween spooktacular at the Bottleneck will be hard to top. Setting the mood with its pumpkin-powered lighting and complimentary cookies, Ad Astra played its indelicately enchanting noise-art nuggets while wearing clever costumes. This year, Ad Astra members will dress up as Slash and Jimi Hendrix, taking the group's dual-guitar attack to Paradise City and Electric Ladyland. Thousandaire, an all-ages-show staple for the past two years, plays its final show, and the allegedly defunct When Good Robots Go Bad reanimates like a vengeance-seeking ghost. The party starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at The Stray Cat (1319 Grand, 816-283-3338). Costumes are -- surprise! -- encouraged. -- Andrew Miller
Rolling Rock the Vote
Davey's Uptown Ramblers Club manager Michele Markowitz remembers when it was illegal to sell liquor on Election Day. The mandate, from the days of Pendergastian, buy-votes-with-booze machine politics, survived in Missouri into the early 1980s. Now, in an election year that demands heavy drinking, Markowitz and company at Davey's (3402 Main, 816-753-1909) are celebrating November 2 with a Vote-Vote-Vote Election Day Drink-off, beginning when the bar opens at 1 p.m. and culminating in an Election Night Zombie Bash with Buffalo Saints around 11:30. Wear an "I Voted" sticker and get in free; take a shot for every state that goes red. -- Harper