CANTON -- A teenage violinist said he wants to make music with a cause. William Shaub, 14, who plays with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, is becoming known in his hometown for holding benefit concerts that raise money for charities.
Shaub has held concerts for Adopt-A-Minefield, a United Nations campaign to clear land mines and help victims of land mine accidents. He has also performed for senior citizens groups and World War II veterans.
Shaub said he wants his childhood to be about more than pizza, soccer and video games.
His latest benefit concert on April 28 will raise money for a city program that provides swimming lessons for children at a local community center or YMCA. Concert proceeds may also help cover public bus transportation to and from pool sites.
the worldwide wii
Nintendo has used the Wii's Internet capabilities to deliver a variety of non-game-related material you didn't realize you wanted on a console: weather forecasts, Associated Press news, even the silly yet addictive "Everybody Votes" polling channel. And now, something you can really use when your PC is acting up: a full-blown Internet browser.
Nintendo's Internet Channel, developed by Opera Software, is so simple even your computer-phobic, "Wii Sports"-loving grandma can use it. It has a nice, flexible zoom feature that keeps text readable no matter how big you make it, and it's easy to bookmark or scroll around pages with the Wii remote. The only drawback is the lack of a keyboard, which makes typing Web addresses a hassle.
The Internet Channel is available as a free download through June 30; after that, it will cost about five bucks. But why wait?
get the message
Microsoft, on the other hand, is about to introduce a keyboard for the Xbox 360. The new device, a compact QWERTY keyboard that connects to the Xbox controller, is designed to be used with Windows Live Messenger, so you can IM your friends while they're fragging you in "Gears of War."
Xbox Live users will be able to download Microsoft's instant messaging program starting the week of May 7. At first you'll have to use a chunky old USB keyboard or the clumsy virtual keyboard on your TV screen; the adorable new keyboard (which Microsoft charmingly calls a "text-input device") will be available this summer.
enforcing the ratings
Imagine you're 15 years old. (If you are 15, imagine you're 12.) What do you think would be most difficult to buy: an R-rated DVD, an "explicit content"-labeled CD or an M-rated video game?
Only 42 percent of underage buyers were successful in scoring a naughty game during "mystery shopper" excursions run by the Federal Trade Commission. That compares with 71 percent for movies and 76 percent for DVDs, and it's a big drop from the 69 percent who were able to buy M-rated games in 2003, the last time the FTC conducted the test.
The FTC had measured praise for the Entertainment Software Rating Board, the industry panel that rates games for sexual or violent content. "The ESRB continues to lead all three industries in providing clear and prominent disclosures of rating information in television, print and online advertising," the FTC said.
Overall, a decent report card for the black sheep of the entertainment industry.
The annual Stuck at Prom scholarship contest is now under way. Enter your Duck Tape prom outfits though June 8 at www.stuckatprom.com for a chance to win a 6,000 scholarship (that's 3,000 each). Check out all the rules, FAQs and photos of past winners on the Web site. Even if you don't enter, you can still participate: June 15-29 there's online voting for the finalists.
top new albums
"Cassadaga," the new album from Bright Eyes, is the best-selling new title on the nation's album charts, debuting at No. 4 with 58,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks music retail sales.
Bright Eyes is the shifting collective led by Conor Oberst, the 27-year-old Nebraska songwriter who is the latest in a long line of folk-leaning artists who have been saddled with the label of the "next Bob Dylan."
The self-titled first album from Hell- Yeah, the metal super-group that features members from Mudvayne, Pantera and Nothingface, hits the chart at No. 9 with sales of 45,000 copies.
The five-man band has a hit with the defiant song "You Wouldn't Know" and this summer it will join headliners Korn on the Family Values Tour.
The No. 1 album this week is "Now 24," the latest edition of the extremely popular anthology of radio hits. This one includes tracks by Justin Timberlake, Fergie, Chris Brown, Lily Allen and Bow Wow. It sold 89,000 copies. That's a low total for a No. 1 album and it adds another sluggish week to the 2007 ledger of the recording industry.
meet the players
In this increasingly computerized world, we hold these truths to be self-evident: People like playing video games and they like meeting other people. Kongregate (kongregate.com) brings these two things together to create an entertaining experience for gamers of all stripes.
Here's how Kongregate works: First, developers upload their original Flash games to the site. Kongregate members then play the games, rating them and offering feedback just like site members can do to videos uploaded on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com).
However, Kongregate goes a step further in its community features. Once you join the site, you can participate in its points system, which rewards users for their social contributions to the site. For example, rating a game earns members five points while uploading a game earns 75 points. (The site promises that members will be able to redeem these points for prizes at a later date.) Kongregate also sponsors challenges, like collecting special coins hidden in various games, which unlock cards to be used in an upcoming collectible card game on the site -- almost like a digital version of Pokemon. Membership also means access to the site's chat rooms, which conveniently open up in a window right next to the game you select to play. There are also forums where you can meet other members and discuss topics that you care about.
Not all rappers rhyme about grills or grudges. A new generation of hip-hop artists is beginning to gain attention. "There are all these very underground themes that are arising in all different parts of the country," says author Mark Eleveld. Many of these rappers are poets and bring an artistic meaning to their music. Here are a few to watch:
Chicago native Idris Goodwin started in hip-hop in 1991 with a boombox and a mic jack. Now he's performing around the world, and recently did "What Is They Feedin' Our Kids?" on HBO's "Def Poetry." This piece addressed low-grade food in the Chicago Public Schools but goes deeper than Cheetos and Tater Tots. His latest CD is "Idris Goodwin" (Naivete Records, 8).
Rapper Lupe Fiasco has made it to the big leagues, but some consider this artist in tune with hip-hop's original message. Lupe (real name Wasalu Muhammad Jaco) is from Chicago's West Side. He was considered an underground phenomenon until his skateboarding song "Kick, Push" scooted him into the spotlight. His current album is "Lupe Fiasco's Food & amp; Liquor" (Atlantic, 18.98).
Saul Williams grew up in a crime-ridden neighborhood in upstate New York. But his music is not gangsta rap. Williams is a poet who combines hip-hop and punk to produce a unique sound. He performs his music and poetry around the world, and appeared on "Def Poetry." He also published three poetry collections. His current album is "Saul Williams" (Fader Label, 12).
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