Rain forest animals to be showcased at event

DANVILLE – People can see alligators, jungle cats, monkeys and colorful birds that live in the rain forest without having to leave town.

Understanding Wildlife, a nonprofit organization, will present "Live on Stage, the Rain Forest" at Edison Elementary School on May 8.

Hitting the presidential campaign trail with Obama

On a frigid February morning, Barack Obama stood in front of the Old State Capitol in Springfield – where Abraham Lincoln delivered his "House Divided" speech almost 150 years ago – and announced his bid for the U.S. presidency.

He was surrounded by more than 15,000 people, many of them Illinoisans.

UI building Web site has grown to epic size

Now this really would have put the "memorial" in Memorial Stadium: a miniature Washington Monument-style obelisk rising from the north end zone.

The idea was one design proposed for the University of Illinois football field and, while it never was set in stone, it was rendered in a drawing, a piece of UI history now available for anyone to see on the Web, thanks to Kalev Leetaru.

Eberfest is all about friendship

CHAMPAIGN – Introducing his friend Paul Cox's film on Saturday at Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival, director Werner Herzog said he felt that the festival, more than anything, has to do with friendship.

"I thank Roger for the friendship that he's offered me and other filmmakers. One of the things I do not care that much about is that he's the most influential critic in the United States," Herzog said in an apparent reference to Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker saying that onstage Friday night.

No 'Holes' in UI alum's film based on hit kids' novel

CHAMPAIGN – University of Illinois alumnus Andrew Davis was not the only filmmaker wanting to make a film adaptation of Louis Sachar's award-winning young adult's novel, "Holes."

The powerful Hollywood directors Rob Reiner and the Coen brothers were pursuing the project at the same time. But Sachar settled on Davis, then mainly known as an intelligent director of action films, including "The Fugitive" starring Harrison Ford. Sachar eventually settled on Davis, and the novelist wrote the screenplay.

Ebert makes himself heard via computer

CHAMPAIGN – Roger Ebert, whose speaking voice has been disabled due to a tracheostomy, finally spoke to his audience Saturday at his Overlooked Film Festival at the Virginia Theatre.

"Good morning, I'm not HAL 9000 developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana," he said via a voice synthesizer. "I am the computer voice of Roger Ebert. This computer has been programmed to speak my words."

Just pick up your camera

URBANA – You can't really pigeonhole Michael Wiese.

From an award-winning "Star Wars" spoof to a quest for spiritual enlightenment in Tibet, Wiese has explored an incredible range of subjects as an independent filmmaker – not to mention stints producing exercise and music videos and Democratic political ads.

It's your business: Lucky Puppy shop to cater to canine tastes

It's a problem all right. Here you are, about to walk (well, maybe run) down the aisle as the ring dog in your people's upcoming nuptials, and nobody can find you a four-legged tux to wear.

And the wedding cake: Wouldn't you think somebody would make something in a flavor you like, say, one tier chicken, one tier liver, hold the chocolate please?

Wind turbines important for area's future energy needs

The rolling landscape around the small town of Arrowsmith – about 14 miles west of Gibson City – looks more like Holland than central Illinois.

Some 50 square miles of prime black farmland are dotted with windmills.

Public safety director plans to hit the lakes running

DANVILLE – Neither law enforcement work nor teaching is high on the list of options Carl Alexander is considering after his retirement May 31.

Fishing is.

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