Happy In Bag

Monday, December 31, 2007

The Whiskey Ain't Workin'

After making my semi-annual appearance at a blogger meetup early Saturday evening, I went immediately to bed. Alcohol once served as jet fuel. It's now liquid sleeping potion. Unless I'm on my feet at a raucous club surrounded by "friends" plying me with poison of the kind pictured here, I no longer have any stamina for self-abuse. So when neighbors break out fireworks at midnight tonight, I'll probably be dreaming about winning another slam dunk competition.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Bye Bye, B.B.

It began with her initials. I've always felt an affinity with the inordinate number of people with the initials of "B.B." I've also been known to swoon over attractive women with dark hair and olive complexions. So I began following Benazir Bhutto's career with great interest when I became aware of her in the '80s. Her soothing speaking style and strong message had me pulling for her in January's election. Wednesday morning I mourned for a woman on the other side of the world.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cotton Candy Is Gone

Dynamic Kansas City blues singer Annetta "Cotton Candy" Washington died yesterday. She's been a fixture on the live scene for as long as I can remember. The Star reports that she suffered a stroke on stage at Blayney's earlier this month. I took this picture of her performing with Eugene Smiley on September 15 at the American Jazz Museum's street festival. As always, she was ribald and exuberant. I recall trying not to blush as she playfully propositioned men in the audience as she modified the lyrics with suggestive asides. Kansas City is now a slightly less joyful place.

Monday, December 24, 2007


It's a good thing that people have the freedom and the financial resources to do as they please. Because if it was up to me, most holiday light displays might be banned. Only the most magnificent or the most sincere (as Charlie Brown would have it) holiday decorations manage to pierce my Grinchian exterior. This charming building on 20th Street certainly qualifies.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Seven Steps To Heaven

It would be hypocritical for me to complain about the sorry state of mom-and-pop music retail in Kansas City. For the most part, I pick up hits at box stores and more esoteric titles online. So I felt sheepish when I visited 7th Heaven for the first time in over a year last night. Contrary to the assertions of my critics, I have no need for "smoking accessories." Besides, I don't think 7th Heaven even stocks that stuff anymore. The store didn't have what I wanted- a Public Enemy t-shirt or something along those lines- and I left empty handed.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Soul Food

Great restaurants do more than offer astounding tastes and excellent service. Some manage to make people happy. That's what Casa Paloma does for me. The Mexican cafe on Metcalf serves wonderful food. More significantly, just hanging out in the informal dining room sets me at ease. Tortilla soup, anyone?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

In Any Other Language

I was dispatched to a large gift shop in a ritzy Johnson County neighborhood to purchase a Spanish language seasonal greeting card. With several aisles and thousands of options available, my only concern was finding the appropriate section. I discovered an area dedicated to cards "From the Kitty" and "For Fido." (You people are freaks.) Ah- here it is. Italian cards. German cards. French cards. Wait- where are the Spanish cards? There's not even a slot for one. Yeah...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Icy Mix

Weary of allowing dire weather forecasts to affect my mobility, I made sure to show up for a Saturday morning appointment. These conditions aren't all that bad, I thought. I should be ashamed for allowing shrill Chicken Littles to keep me home last Saturday night. My reverie was interrupted by the sound of sirens- a nasty accident had backed up westbound traffic on 435.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Worse Than Watching Paint Dry

One of the many disadvantages to being a shut-in is maintaining a sense of proportion. Yesterday's ice melt seemed like such a monumental event that I limped outside to get this footage. Here's the caption I wrote for YouTube: "What's more boring than watching paint dry? How about watching ice melt! Even so, I couldn't resist filming the bombardment created by the sun's emergence a couple days after a moderate ice storm. The sound you hear isn't rain. And the white flashes aren't blemishes in the film. It's ice falling from trees."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Things Got To Get Better

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Say, It's Slick

My mom couldn't understand why her 14-year-old son, a high achiever on standardized tests, didn't have an A in math. That's why I spent my Saturday afternoons at a math tutor's dining room table one bitter winter. To this day, the socially inept man is the biggest nerd I've encountered. He sported full dweeb attire, including a pocket protector, taped glasses and greasy hair. After a tedious session of algebraic equations, he walked me out to my mom's station wagon in the driveway. He slipped on ice and fell. For several years afterward, his exclamation was the only thing both my mom and I agreed was funny. "Say, it's slick!"

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Giving Me the Willies

I don't believe that I've ever been inside an eating or drinking establishment with less personality than Willie's. It makes Arby's seem exotic by comparision. I darkened the door of Willie's last Friday night to take advantage of its strongest asset- sightlines of the activity outside the main gate of the Sprint Center a couple hundred yards away. Although the pub also offers fast, efficient service and decent grub, it's entirely devoid of distinctive character.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Limp In the Name of Love

Friday night's R. Kelly show was my first experience inside the Sprint Center. And it was a good one. Knowing that I quickly tire on crutches, I arrived 75 minutes early and found a free parking spot three blocks away. As expected, Kelly, Keyshia Cole and J. Holiday were excellent. The only surprise to me was how small the venue seemed. Its downtown location and wide concourses aside, the Sprint Center is just a shinier, suite-laden update of Kemper Arena.

Friday, December 07, 2007


It's too easy to mock life in Johnson County. I should know- I do it with tiresome frequency. Yet I was reminded of the upside to living in a relatively comfortable and prosperous community last night. As I tried to get to sleep, a snow plow noisily circled my block for almost thirty minutes. It was complete overkill. Only an inch of snow had fallen. When the first significant snow arrives my neighbors and I won't have any excuse to stay home.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Open Up the Door, I'll Get It Myself

I'm learning a lot about people in my crutch-aided forays in the world. Before I completely grasped the severity of my predicament, I attempted to run a simple errand to a grocery store at an upscale shopping center. I quickly became drenched in sweat and was racked with terrible pain. Most of my fellow shoppers ignored me, although a few women sighed in exasperation because I wasn't moving quickly enough for them. The only person to address me and offer assistance was the store's janitor. I didn't realize that such small kindnesses were so rare. After a charitable woman opened a door for me last night, I was tempted to give her a hug of appreciation.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Standing On the Corner

It should come as no surprise to Happy In Bag readers that I love going to clubs, concert halls and arenas to hear live music. Everything about the experience continues to thrill me. Of the hundred-plus nights I've spent at live music venues in 2007, only on about five occasions did I have less than a good time. Here's a list of my 25 favorite shows of the year. I'm pleased to note that 18 different Kansas City-area performance spaces are represented. And I didn't even include anything from Ameristar, the Beaumont, the Blue Room, the Brick, Club Kandi, Memorial Hall, Municipal Auditorium or the Record Bar. That speaks really well for the vibrancy of Kansas City's music scene.

Update: I posted a list of my 25 favorite songs of 2007 here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Now I know what it's like to watch the world through a window. Life as a shut-in is about greatly diminished expectations, pain management and waiting for the results of medical exams. It's humbling. I tell myself that I'm healing, but it's possible that I'm simply getting better at avoiding pain.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Tastes Like...

I don't know enough about fruit to identify the seasonal citrus currently on grocery store shelves as tangerines, clementines or mikans. Whatever they're called, they taste like roasted sugarplum fairies. Delicious!