Happy In Bag

Friday, February 27, 2009

Gritters and Grinders

"You chose the wrong hummus!" a mustachioed man howled. After an awkward moment or two, I ascertained that my accuser at the grocery store was a free sample guy. He shoved a dip-laden chip in my face. "Try," he insisted. "Is good." It was delicious. I dutifully returned my initial selection and picked up Yummy's Choice. The man's image was on the packaging. It cost a little more, but I'm always going to side with the gritters and grinders.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I don't have to look any further than my wallet for a reminder that the economic downturn effects all of us. Even so, I marvel at the increasing number of repossessed vehicles on the lots of my neighborhood's used car dealerships. The dented and rusted old models are especially disheartening.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Popcorn Is Salty

I spent Sunday afternoon in a movie theater. It'd been a while. Some things haven't changed. Popcorn is still salty, trailers remain deafening and in an otherwise empty theater, the only other patrons will sit directly in front of you. I was surprised by a few new twists. The addition of television commercials is a major drag. Discovering that people really do guffaw at gags about bodily functions was a revelation. And I learned that I'm no longer comfortable remaining entirely sedentary for two hours.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Whistling Past

I love Amazon.com. I also marvel that content is now free for consumers who choose not to pay for it. I don't want to return to the past; the genie is out of the bottle. Even so, flashbacks prevented me from fully enjoying my gyro yesterday at Jerusalem Cafe. I remember when the same space was part of Whistler's Books. Long before national chains and the internet changed the way reading material is consumed, Whistler's was Kansas City's best bookstore. I miss the community and unique sense of place it provided.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Headed For Home

Oh no you don't! You're not going to ruin baseball for me. I really don't care what Sammy, Mark, Barry and A-Rod put into their bodies. What interests me is reading initial reports from Florida and Arizona as I sip coffee on frigid winter mornings. What's the rotation going to look like? Can that guy really adjust to second base? Spring is almost here; things will soon be better.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Any town in which one of the world's wealthiest men chooses to abide in a relatively modest suburban house has a good thing going. I was struck by the positive, unpretentious outlook exhibited by the residents of Omaha during my brief visit to the Nebraska town earlier this week. Even at Slowdown, a music venue with as "cool" a pedigree as any establishment in the Midwest, the club's owners, staff and patrons were refreshingly modest. Given a choice between living in Omaha or Los Angeles, I'd select the former.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

They're Not Twits

How I envy the youth of today. They're relatively free- even encouraged- to embrace their inner geekiness. The awful stigma attached to such behavior in the past scarred many of us. Had I not expended so much effort as a teenager avoiding being labeled by both my family and my peers as a geek, I might now be a Bill Gates or a Michael Dell. (Thanks a lot, jerks!) Not only are the nerds of today proud, they're applying their talents to the greater good. I was proud to join them at last week's Twestival.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


What are all these people doing here? Don't they have jobs? Those thoughts run through my head as I conduct business meetings at coffee shops on weekdays. Places like the Roasterie in Brookside are so crowded that patrons sometimes have to jockey for seats. I tried Linda's Winged Cup at the intersection of Gregory and Oak yesterday. I immediately took a liking to the owner; she complimented my hair. Her coffee's good, too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


A secret world is hiding in plain view throughout the residential Kansas City area. The alternate universe is largely inhabited by unsupervised children, ostracized teenagers, dog people and the occasional oddball blogger. Drainage ditches are our covert playground.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Ida McBeth: An Appreciation

How many times have I seen Ida McBeth sing? Fifty? Seventy-five? Just like many music fans in Kansas City, I sometimes take the vocalist for granted.

With that unmerited negligence in mind, I dedicated early Saturday evening to a McBeth performance at Jardine's.

McBeth is better than ever.

Her striking physical beauty is intact and her dusky voice is now even more laden with emotion.

She completely invests herself in her repertoire. Songs including Irving Berlin's "You Can Have Him," Bill Withers' "Grandma's Hands" and the Rodgers and Hart standard "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" are unabashedly imbued with sorrow, bitterness and grief.

McBeth howls with anguish. Tears flow. Literally.

In peak form, McBeth is no less a distinctive and artistically important song stylist than Nancy Wilson, Nina Simone or Roberta Flack.

What's not to like? Well, I just don't dig McBeth's band. (Sorry guys.) I'd prefer either a smaller, more intimate presentation or a brassier, more commercial vibe. The current format just seems tired.

None of that matters, though, when McBeth is singing. She remains the best in Kansas City.

(Cross-posted from Plastic Sax, my Kansas City jazz site.)

Friday, February 06, 2009

Don't Tug On Souperman's Cape

I like to think of myself as a pretty decent cook. When I invest the time and effort I can usually come up with a hearty and delicious meal. In fact, my best creations are often very similar to the fare served at Souperman. That's why eating at the popular downtown restaurant sometimes frustrates me. "I made something just like this last week," I think. And I wonder if my chili isn't superior to theirs. The difference is that Souperman efficiently cranks out the offerings on their extensive menu with good cheer. I can't always say the same for myself.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


In spite of all evidence to the contrary at this silly site, I actually have a life. And just like those of everyone else, mine gets messy and complicated. Among my least pleasant daily tasks is the need to negotiate with various state residential institutions. It's grim but unavoidable. At least I'm not a resident- not yet anyway. There but for the grace of God...

Monday, February 02, 2009

Unhappy Trails

Otherwise reasonable people have recently told me about a diabolical plot to control and manage the minds of unsuspecting humans. The proof, according to these loons, are the supposedly mysterious "chemtrails" in the sky. I'm especially amused by the version that maintains that the United States government is behind this nefarious plan. Is that the same entity that can't balance a budget?