Happy In Bag

Friday, October 31, 2008

Terror: Then and Now

I have a deep sense of foreboding about today. It'll be gone come Saturday morning.

I'd gladly trade my adult premonition of disaster for the demons of my childhood. Trilogy of Terror's depiction of a doll coming to life deeply disturbed me. For years I thought I'd only imagined the movie. Thanks to our modern disregard of copyright law, it now streams on YouTube. Here are parts one, two and three.

The little demon's knife slashing blindly under a door inspired many nightmares. Viewed through the knowing prism of 2008, the film's scariest element is the rotary phone.

Come on, November 1...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Revenge of the Nerds

Regional nerds vying for fame and fortune showed their latest technology innovations and applications at Highlight Midwest this week. I'm not nearly as bright as most of the ridiculously smart participants at the Kansas City event. On the other hand, I'm capable of interacting with people without the benefit of a laptop computer. In fact, I'm often told that my sparkling social skills are every bit as distinctive as those of this man.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Planting Acorns

I voted yesterday. And I might vote again today. Unless I skipped a step at the speedy early voting processing center in a dreary government building in Mission, there's nothing preventing me from returning. I scribbled my name and address on a form, but unlike on election day, it was never checked against a list of registered voters. Neither was I asked to provide identification. Presumably, a poll worker is assigned to that tedious task, but since such screenings would take place after ballots are cast, the potential for fraud seems very real.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Rock Star Parking

At 11 p.m. last Saturday night, dozens of prime parking spots were available in Westport. Patrons could park within steps of their favorite saloons. Foot traffic was also disturbingly sparse. The usual suspects- the weak economy and competition from the Power & Light District- may have been to blame. Either way, the ghost town effect unnerved me.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Big Boy

Eleven months and fifteen pounds ago I tore up my knee. I was on crutches long after my Vicodin prescription ran out. I'm left with a mild ache and scale-tipping body fat. It's time for me to start to trim down but I'm afraid to test my knee with strenuous exercise. And starving myself is simply out of the question. How do you like my new personalized license plate?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oh Schlitt

Like pieces of a giant disassembled toy, hundreds of colorful slides and tubes are stuck in the mud of Kansas City, Kansas. The staging area for the future Schlitterbahn Vacation Village is directly in front of an old county building at the intersection of State Avenue and 435. The park is scheduled to open next summer. Give me a lazy river free of teenage boys and I'm there.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Give Him Liberty

Notes from Saturday's Barack Obama rally at the grounds of the Liberty Memorial:

*The Star uses a park official's attendance estimate of 75,000. Based on my experience at music festivals at the same site, I'd say the number was closer to 45,000.

*What was the deal with the weird stage placement that artificially limited good sightlines? Thousands of people, myself included, could only listen to the candidate.

*This mildly creepy image aside, the cult of personality mania wasn't as severe as I had anticipated. Still, I empathized with a guy wearing a "Go Jesus" t-shirt who was hollering about how no mortal can offer salvation.

*I was suckered into the pointless email R.S.V.P. for the event on Friday. I've since received five spam emails from the Obama camp. The most annoying of them offers a "limited edition car magnet" for ten dollars.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Time Machine Is Toast

I'm not terribly nostalgic, but every once in a while I like to pretend it's 1974. Waid's diners indulge me in that illusion. With their gloriously outdated decor, white-bread menu and watery coffee, I can imagine that I'm taking a break from the Watergate hearings as I hum "Seasons In the Sun."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Politics of Pronunciation

I expect my political representatives to know how to properly pronounce the name of our nation's capital.

Real Kansans know that the White House is in "Wersh-ing-ton." My kin in western Kansas emply the alternate pronunciation of "Warsh-ing-ton."

Only city slickers say "Wash-ing-ton."

That's why I'm excited about Nick Jordan. The Congressional hopeful gets it right at the 0:13 and 0:35 second marks of a television spot. Alas, the generic voiceover person spoils the effect with her outsider mispronunciation of the word.

Jordan's opponent, incumbent Dennis Moore, gets it wrong at the :09 mark in this commercial. (Don't miss his magic scrapbook!)

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius didn't move to Kansas until she was 26. That's probably why she gets in wrong at the 1:52 mark of this endorsement speech.

Sam Brownback disappoints at the 0:48 and 3:38 marks in an informal discussion of "puny souls" and "good and evil."

Senatorial candidate Jim Slattery fumbles at the 4:11 mark in this stilted speech. He's trying to unseat Pat Roberts. After painfully extensive and fruitless research, I've concluded that Roberts refuses to utter the word.

Perhaps the pronunciation issue is just too explosive for the veteran politician to touch.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I've held dozens of jobs.

A few have allowed me to live out my fantasies. Others were unimaginably awful. I've toiled for minimum wage as a grown man. I've also earned astronomical commission payments.

Most of the companies I've worked for no longer exist. It's no fun hoping your paycheck clears as you fight to keep a business afloat. One painful experience was a proverbial "bad fit." And I'm still ashamed to recall that as a teenager I walked away from an employer after only five days.

Until this week I never had a job end gracefully. No hard feelings, regrets or surprises. How liberating!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Don't Call It an Eco Pond

The J.C. Nichols Fountain is one of Kansas City's most famous landmarks. For the past few years, however, I've preferred relaxing at a hidden spot a couple hundred yards to its north in Mill Creek Park. Officially, it's an "eco pond," but that phrase fails to convey its simple charm. The colorful koi don't interest me nearly as much as the indigenous minnows, gnarly spiders and wide range of bees the site attracts. The cacophony of Broadway and Main doesn't seem to interfere with their secret lives.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Milli A Milli A Milli A Milli A Milli

I got them "Can't-Anybody-But-Me-See-What's-Really-Happenin', Money's-All-Gone, Endless-Election-Cycle, Tim-McCarver-Hatin', Knee's-Still-Hurtin', CNBC-Fixatin', End-of-Days Blues."

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Guardian Has Determined

"Guardian has determined that your software must be updated." That was the incredibly creepy message that greeted me when I switched on my television today. Just who is this Orwellian Guardian, and why has he or she taken over my television when I just want to watch CNBC?

Chicken Hawk

The Cooper's hawk that regularly visits my backyard disappoints me. His fierce appearance is a sham. Squirrels- my sworn enemies- know that they can fearlessly taunt the predator. It only eats other birds. The magnificent red-tailed hawk pictured here, on the other hand, is a rodent killer. I told it that the hunting is good over in my neighborhood, but the hawk seemed fat and happy in its Loose Park home.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Jinxing Myself

Victims of crime never deserve their fates. That said, I know a person who lives in constant fear. She's visibly terrified of being assaulted or robbed; she trembles as she walks down the street. Sure enough, bad stuff regularly happens to her. I'm the opposite. I put myself in ostensibly dangerous situations but I know that I'll be fine. Am I oblivious, or does confidence actually repel evil?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Cypress Avenue

I recently attended a concert commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of Bill Shapiro's Cypress Avenue.

KCUR's weekly program provided my first exposure to Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, Joni Mitchell's Blue and Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. I would have eventually discovered these albums on my own, but the show undoubtedly sped the process along. For that, I'm genuinely grateful.

Shapiro's professorial tone led me to believe that he was the ultimate authority on popular music. I was overjoyed. Cracks, however, soon appeared.

He seemed completely oblivious to the the new music I loved most. Did Shapiro not know about the Ramones, the Buzzcocks or the Clash? What about Chic, George Clinton, Michael Jackson's Off the Wall and the Sugarhill Gang?

Years after the fact Shapiro addressed many of these glaring absences. But the damage was done. I realized that while I'd continue to monitor what Shapiro presented, he was no longer my man.

Still, he's got to be one of most rockin' seventy-something guys in Kansas City.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


"Are men even allowed here?" I asked the gorgeous bartender at a combination bar-restaurant-spa-shop. A gig by a jazz combo had attracted me to a new shopping development at the southeast corner of 119th and Roe. While I felt exceedingly out of place, everyone else seemed to be having a great time. The deck of a steakhouse overflowed with happy hour revelers, customers filled an Apple store and elegant ladies bought designer clothes. It's a world I scarcely know.