Happy In Bag

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Carol Chaos

I usually prefer to watch the annual Plaza lighting ceremony from a safe distance, but this year I thought it might be fun to position myself in the middle of the throng on Thanksgiving evening. What a bad decision! Perhaps instigated by Dave Stephens' annoying banter about "Gleeks" and a rendition of the insufferable "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" (read the New York Times' account), fights broke out around me in the short-tempered crowd. Not in the mood for a brawl, I sought sanctuary on a peaceful rooftop.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You Don't Need a Weatherman

The biggest celebrities in Kansas City are television weathermen. Most locals, myself included, probably wouldn't recognize Matt Cassel or Michael Stern if they passed them on the street. Gary Lezak, on the other hand, is the subject of a downtown window display. I'm hardly the first person to note this peculiar phenomenon. I suspect it just as much to do with our agrarian roots as it does with our distance from Hollywood.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


As my appearance reflects, I avoid mirrors. I don't like to be reminded that I'm no longer eighteen. So I was startled this week at the realization that my beard is quickly migrating upward. Thick whiskers have sprouted on my upper cheekbones. If the pattern continues, my beard will merge with my lower eyelashes next September.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


A small strip mall in my neighborhood housed a thrift shop, a veterinary clinic and a restaurant. It was recently demolished to make way for a pharmacy. Three legal drug outlets are now within walking distance of my home. I'm almost afraid to step outside.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I don't touch alcohol between Halloween and Thanksgiving. The self-imposed rule allows me to lose a pants size or two and lets me bounce out of bed every morning with a spring in my step. I find that I only long for a beer at the end of a particularly taxing day. That's good to know. When I open a refrigerator in November, it's not a bottle of Boulevard that tempts me. A carton of premium eggnog, however, is constantly calling my name.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bank Owned Real Estate

Earlier this week I visited a friend in Stilwell, Kansas. Are there ever some handsome estates in the distant suburb! This distressed mansion is "Bank Owned Real Estate." I could host a Chiefs game on the property or maintain a herd of deer. And best of all, my nearest neighbor would be out of the range of fire. A quick look at the area's real estate listings put an abrupt end to my daydream.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Three Rs

It's undoubtedly an imperfect approach to a life-altering decision, but many people, myself included, live where we do for one reason. We study standardized test scores and select a home within the boundaries of the most successful public schools. When administrators tinker with the system because of budgetary demands or changing demographics, residents panic. Without this concern for education, after all, we'd probably live in midtown.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Partial to Porton

I once was offered an attractive job by a company based in Houston. In an effort to decide if I should relocate, I composed a typical list of pros-and-cons. Food ranked among the top five reasons I should make the move. Houston's vast sprawl contains a dizzying array of restaurants offering food from around the world. I fantasized about being warmly greeted as a familiar friend as I entered any number of nondescript but excellent strip mall establishments. I passed on the job and the company went out of business soon after. Yet all is not lost. I found a Houston-style spot near my home in Johnson County. The gregarious waitress at the small Venezuelan establishment El Porton Cafe is delightful. The restaurant isn't cheap, but hey, friendship is priceless.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

In Park

Kansas City's airport may be drab and boring, but it's easy. I'll take it over the relatively glamorous hassles on tap at O'Hare and DFW. Still, I'm annoyed by the recent change in short-term parking fees. There used to be a grace period (was it 30 or 60 minutes?) of free parking. The new plan costs $1 for up to 30 minutes, $3 up to an hour, then $6 for up to two hours. When greeting people at KCI, I now have to make an unpleasant set of cost-risk calculations.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Pushing the Poll

Outraged by a negative campaign advertisement I saw last week, I was compelled to vote early at Metcalf South Shopping Center. The advance voting process, entirely new to me, came as a revelation. I'll no longer mock the conspiracy theory hysteria about the alleged rigging of elections. Armed with a name, address and birthdate, anyone can place a vote for another registered voter of the same sex and approximate age. A motivated, organized and unscrupulous candidate could garner a few hundred extra votes through the lax process.