Happy In Bag

Friday, August 31, 2007

Storm Window

When I began this preposterous site over two years ago, I considered it a diversion that would allow me to find temporary solace by focusing on the "happy" aspects of my life. I was unsuccessfully attempting to extricate myself from an exceedingly unpleasant job. Over time, my naturally cloudy sensibility has been exposed. One of my friends labeled me "Buzzkill In Bag" in a comment earlier this week. Yet it struck me this morning that I've enjoyed the best summer of my life. Countless great things happened, and not a single catastrophe materialized to spoil the party. (Don't say "jinx.")

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Devil's Windows

I've previously written about my general indifference to dogs. And in spite of recent area news, I refuse to publicly comment on a certain breed of dog owners. The best type of domesticated animal companions are outdoor, semi-feral cats. While they're functional, they're also creepy and mysterious. And they don't bark.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The One That Got Away

I've harbored a fascination for discovering exactly what lies under the surface of lakes, rivers and oceans for as long as I can remember. So I'm inordinately disappointed that I missed the day a small pond in my neighborhood was drained. I might have been able to grab my fill of desperate catfish and carp. And the ultimate question would have been answered- exactly how big is the biggest fish? These foolhardy ducks aren't saying.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pretty Prank

Teenagers will always engage in mild acts of vandalism. Although it's the natural order of things, it doesn't make it any less annoying. I was playing my assigned role of outraged adult citizen when I took this shot of a soap-filled public fountain last week. Only when I examined the image on my computer did I realize that it looks pretty cool. If the teens responsible for this act could hear this old coot expressing his admiration for the pretty colors they made, I'm sure it would immediately take all the fun out of repeating the prank.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Grave Diggers

I didn't mention it in my jazz blog recap, but I kind of felt sorry for the vestiges of Charlie Parker's family at his graveside service yesterday. Here were all these nuts (myself included) glorifying a man they never personally knew, while folks with his blood running through their veins were summarily ignored or, even worse, pushed out of the way to obtain better camera angles.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Eat Me When I'm Fatter

"Who's that tripping over my bridge?' The primal tale of Three Billy Goats Gruff comes to mind when I drive over this lonesome bridge in the Northland. I have no reason to believe that it's not structurally sound, but the span's crumbling asphalt and remote location cause me to hold my breathe as I approach it. The troll may soon get his big reward.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Small towns have a tendency to hang on to outdated, antiquated things. Leavenworth is no exception. Like a relic from a different time, Nu-Way Drive-In lies preserved a block off the military town's main drag. Ancient Kansas Citians like me and Walt Bodine will remember a time when several Nu-Way restaurants dotted the metropolis. To the best of my knowledge, only this location remains. Nu-Way's signature sloppy joe-style sandwiches are served along with fries, onion rings and the like. It's more of a cultural than a culinary revelation.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Small Hallucination

Hummingbirds are making their annual migratory visit to my home. The unlikely creatures are about the size of an adult human's thumb. They're so fast and elusive that spotting them- let alone getting a decent photograph- is extremely difficult. The creatures' very existence makes me question my own sanity. It's only because others tell me that they also see them that I know the hummingbirds are real.

Monday, August 20, 2007

My Favorite Bar

My favorite place to enjoy a beer looks nothing like Harper's, a sleek new establishment at 18th & Vine. No, my ideal watering hole is just around this corner, and it's not nearly as attractive. Furthermore, the special set of circumstances that make me love it only exists from 4:30-8:30 p.m. on Fridays. What does it take to satisfy my admittedly particular needs? Here's a partial list:
*No cover.
*No smoking.
*Intimate setting.
*Diverse clientele.
*World-class live music.
*Historic sense of place.
*Convenient matinee time.
*Fair wine and beer prices.
*Friendly, personable staff.
I don't mind having the place almost all to myself, but The Mutual Musicians Foundation's "Rush Hour" deserves better. If you're still curious, here's how it went last week.

Not So Little League

I used to be a huge fan of the Little League World Series. It seemed so pure and carefree. I know better now. The "teams" seen daily on ESPN and ABC are actually hand-picked collections of all-stars. That's one reason most teams feature a 5'10" pitcher throwing seventy mph. It's still an amazing spectacle- and I'll catch as many games as possible- but I now understand I'm watching big-time, high-pressure athletics.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Open Letter To the American Jazz Museum

When's the last time you visited the American Jazz Museum on 18th Street? Have you been there more than once? If you're like me, the institution isn't one of your regular destinations. I'd like to see that change. I published an open letter to the museum's new director at Plastic Sax this morning. It contains a list of ten suggestions to make the museum more vital, relevant and exciting.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

On Ice

One of the unheralded pleasures of being a man is the occasional opportunity to urinate on ice.

Lockdown At Daniel's

The food served at Daniel's Bar-B-Q is very good. Yet a recent lunch at the Lansing restaurant felt like a visit to the break room of one of the area's nearby correctional facilities. It might be the Western illustrations on the wall, highlighted by an image of John Wayne. It might be the lack of background music. Every slurp from a customer and curse from the kitchen reverberates through the small room. Even so, the fare- highlighted by a fine Bryant's-style sauce- renders the institutional vibe irrelevant.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Get Ready For Branson

For a guy who doesn't particularly care for Branson, I sure find myself there quite a bit. I share a few pictures from my weekend trip here. And it gives me tremendous pain knowing that it's just going to get worse. It won't be long before the crusty old country acts give way to slightly fresher fare. I fully anticipate Branson residencies by the likes of REO Speedwagon, Eddie Money, Earth, Wind & Fire, Joe Walsh, Anita Baker, Devo, Al Green and the Jacksons. And I just won't be able to resist that siren song.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Too Hot

Too hot.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Red Cream Soda and Other Perfect Things

Anyone who doubts the economic impact of a professional sports team on a city's economy should have seen the hordes of Minnesota Twins fans swamping Kansas City's jazz district on Wednesday afternoon. Minnesotans love their third-place team; thousands hit I-35 each August to experience our Southern heat. It was interesting to watch out-of-towners respond to the unique qualities of Arthur Bryant's. For the record, the ribs and smoked beef served at the institution yesterday were excellent.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

"I'm An Arkansas Hillbilly"

I was catching up with a friend on Harry's patio in the River Market a couple weeks ago when we were joined by a self-proclaimed "hobo." The man surely intended to hit us up for a handout, but he couldn't seem to get around to the task. He gave us the inside track on riding the rails instead. For instance, the third engine is often unmanned and features air-conditioning. His idea of heaven is successfully hopping on a train with a case of beer in tow. The guy seemed relatively healthy and happy, but even on my worst days I'm not tempted to join him.

Monday, August 06, 2007

It's Not the Heat, It's the Odor

The weather forecast calls for an 100 degree Tuesday. And it's so humid that when I stopped by the pool this evening, the tepid water felt little different than the air. But that's not the worst part of the heat wave. For the last couple of weeks, Kansas City has reeked with a foul sewer odor. I expect such stench in Houston or New York. It's a real drag in KC.

Welcome To Westport Live

The guy in the black t-shirt merely looks annoyed. I was livid. After paying $5 to attend the Pitch's annual music showcase Friday night (it's a bargain), I discovered that it costs an additional $1 to enter the heart of Westport. And the line was tedious. I adamantly protested the situation until my whining attracted the attention of nearby police. It seemed preposterous. My opinion of the policy soon changed. I passed a group of highly agitated men as I walked to my car an hour later. What I overheard gave me the impression that they couldn't come up with the money, at least not until they identified their next victim. I picked up my pace.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Lawn Jockey

Lawn jockeys like the one I recently spotted in a small Missouri town were once fixtures on Midwestern lawns. As they're patently offensive, it's now rare to find a figurine that's not alabaster white. And even these modified statues are usually confined to the property of elderly folk. I suppose that the lawn jockeys I recall from my childhood were either tossed in the trash or quietly pawned off to collectors and antique dealers at garage sales in the late '60s.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Going For Six Figures

My car has been to St. Joe, but it's never seen St. Louis, Omaha or Wichita. I've always used a rental to avoid putting miles on "Old Reliable." Yet there's no hiding its age; the vehicle leaks, creaks and groans. There's a lot of truth in the old joke about being afraid to wash an object because it's held together by years of grime. My car may not make it to 100,000 miles. I don't care much about automobiles- I just want them to start when I turn the key. Mine's been aces for over thirteen years.