Friday, January 25, 2008

Weekend Events, by a Guy Who's Trying to Stop Saying "That's What SHE Said!"

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2008 at 10:00 AM

By CHRIS PACKHAM

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Dude, Friday night check out the puppets at Puppet Wars: Attack of the Felt at Fatso's (1016 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-550-7840). It's like a powerhouse team-up of dudes from the Felt Show and the Shitty Deal Puppet Theater, stickin' their hands up there and totally makin' it talk ... HA HA! That's what ... uh ... that's what I'm, uh, talking about. The show starts at 8 p.m.

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At the VooDoo Lounge at Harrah's Casino (1 Riverboat Drive, 816-472-7777), Queensrÿche is gonna rock the frickin' house, blastin' out hits like "Silent Lucidity," "Take Hold of the Flame," and "Gonna Get Close to You." It might be out of style, but it's an old-school, heavy-metal blast to the face — at least that's what SHE — uh, yeah. Anyway. So that's stuff to do on Friday.

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Saturday, Armenian-Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian performs at the Folly Theater (300 West 12th Street, 816-842-5500). Not my thing, but my mom's gonna be in town and I have to take her somewhere. She likes all that classical shit. When Bayrakdarian performed The Marriage of Figaro in San Diego, The Union Tribune said, "Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian excelled as his beloved Susanna, bringing alluring expertise to the signature role that she had never before performed in San Diego." And I figure if the show's no good, I can just roll over and go to sleep ... which is totally what SHE. .. ah — what SHE would hate. My mom. Would hate it if I did that.

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My second-choice show for mom was Vonda Shepard at the Uptown Theater (3700 Broadway, 816-753-7643). It's part of the Uptown Theater's 80th Anniversary Celebration. She's that chick who sang all that music on that lawyer TV show from back when I was in middle school, Ally McBeal. And at the end of every frickin' episode, she'd play a sad song and Ally McBeal would walk home all sad and alone. My mom would cry every time. That show was huge, man! It was frickin' mammoth. It was totally ridin' up there on top — uh, oh, boy. I'm just gonna move on.

Dude, I can't do any partying on Saturday while my mom's in town, but check it out: I traded shifts on Monday, and there's plenty of rock shows on Sunday night. Catch Meatflower, the Show Is the Rainbow, and Boo and Boo Too at the Record Bar (1020 Westport Road, 816-753-5207); and Rumblejetts and the Grand Marquis at the Uptown Theater (3700 Broadway, 816-753-8665). In Lawrence, there's Kennedy Luck Club, the Noise FM and It's All About the Benjamins at the Jackpot Music Hall (943 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-832-1085). I asked Sheila if she wanted to come out with me, and she was totally like, sure, whatever you want, I'm easy. HA HA! That's what SHE said! No. I mean, verbatim. That's a direct quote. She said, "Sure, whatever you want, I'm easy." Quote, end-quote.

Daily Briefs: Light Rail, Smoking Ban, Of Holes and Glory

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2008 at 8:47 AM

By CHRIS PACKHAM

• This morning on KCUR 89.3, I heard

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President Bush yammering about his proposed economic stimulus package, and for the first time in seven years, I noticed that when he tries to say "principles," it comes out as "prince-uh-bulls."

• Yep. There's a new smoking ban for bars and restaurants. The smoking ban's rules are as baroque in their complexity as any random paragraph from McSweeney's. My personal theory is that the Kansas City, Missouri, City Council really likes A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and they're totally kissing Dave Eggers' ass.

• The headline "Kansas Lawmakers Consider Bluegill Bill" tricked me into thinking that the Kansas Legislature was going to hear testimony from a friendly old coot named Bluegill Bill who lives by the lake and wears pants made from rabbit pelts. Here's a picture of ol' Bluegill Bill:

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As it turns out, they're just thinking about making the bluegill the goddamn state fish. Which story do you think would have been better? This would officially be the most boring link of the week if I weren't ending this sentence with a link to a story about Missouri state Sen. John Loudon's proposed legislation to make the ice cream cone Missouri's official state dessert. How much boredom can you absorb? Click it and prove you're as manly as Bluegill Bill.

• Erotic City is eliminating its video booths and upstairs strip bar, closing the gross, sticky book on an era of Kansas City journalism that saw newspaper editors and local anchors dancing clumsily around a term made by combining the semi-innocuous word hole, and the exciting, triumphant word glory.

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• More people are riding the bus in Kansas City, but according to the Star, "rail gets more riders elsewhere," meaning in places that have rails. The point, though, is that nationwide, people are increasing their use of mass transit. All of which provides further ammunition against libertarian group the Show-Me Institutes's denunciative report about light rail in Kansas City. At this point, I think we can agree that light rail in the metro needs a closer look and that the libertarians need to stick to their core "prince-uh-bulls" of auditing their Thetans and achieving "clear."

Three top executives are leaving Sprint.

Somebody used a chain to haul an ATM off its concrete foundation in the 11100 block of North Ambassador. Police speculate that the thieves used a bulldozer or a backhoe. Suspects include outgoing Sprint executives and L. Ron Hubbard-worshiping libertarian freaks.

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• On his radio show, Fox host John Gibson had hilarious fun with Heath Ledger's death, mocking the actor with a paraphrase of Brokeback Mountain's "I wish I knew how to quit you" line, which was actually uttered by Jake Gyllenhaal. COMEDY! But it's the rare combination of comedy and journalism, because John Gibson is a very, very serious journalist. Except when he's making the funny jokes of hilarious comedy.

Because, look: Ledger played a homosexual gay in that movie, and do you even realize what those people do? Anyway. For some reason, after two days of defending his comments, funnyman Gibson now feels compelled to apologize. All of which reminds me that, although the word "douchebag" is past its expiration date, no one has yet developed a suitable replacement. Therefore, I'm founding a new think tank with the core mission of generating new terms with "douchebaggy" impact, about which more later.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Daily Briefs: City of Darkness, Pro-Fetus Group Gets Pro-Fetus License Plate, and Some Other Stuff That Happened

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2008 at 9:58 AM

By CHRIS PACKHAM

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• Pro-life Missourians will soon be able to demonstrate their enthusiasm for fetuses with "Choose Life" license plates. The Alliance Defense Fund sued on behalf of Choose Life of Missouri when the state initially rejected the requested specialty plate. The judge's ruling, made on First Amendment grounds, brings my dream of an "ASS GRASS OR GAS" specialty plate a step closer.

• Imaginatively named Missouri public policy group the Show-Me Institute released a study demonstrating that Kansas City light rail will lead to the collapse of civilization, as embodied by the headless Statue of Liberty seen in every apocalyptic film ever made. Presumably, Kansas City would first need to build a Statue of Liberty. So that's it. Once the think tanks chime in with all of their thinking, it's time to pack in your public transportation initiative.

Only, it turns out that the study's author has this whole weird light-rail thing going on and spends a lot of time trying to shovel under light-rail plans in cities across the country.

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• "If you offer your roommate five bucks and a bottle of Oxycontin to murder your ex-lover's girlfriend, you just might be a redneck." HAHAHAHA, man that never gets old.

• Anthony Amato resigns as Kansas City School Superintendent.

• Swallow whatever food you have in your mouth before you read this: A salesman came to Springfield resident Tamra Eason's house with what she describes as an obviously homemade tattoo gun. And he offered to to tattoo her. And she thought it was a good idea. The next day, she passed out and had to be hospitalized. Eason and two other women have infections at the tattoo sites, and are now being tested for hepatitis and HIV.

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I can't make out from the picture what she had tattooed. Some kind of blurry, scabby-looking pseudo Kanji writing or something. I would have predicted Tweety Bird, a wizard with a crystal or a picture of Jesus.

The New York Times says voters are in a dark, brooding, Batman-like mood this year, as opposed to the sunny, lasagna-loving, Garfield mood we were in back in 2000. And nowhere is the mood darker than right here in gothy, black-lipstick-wearing Kansas City. Following a lot of grandiloquence about war and the changing face of the country and whatnot, the writer sort of backs up his argument with interviews of residents from several cities, including Kansas City.

The Kansas City Star's Mike Hendricks is ready to move beyond the Frances Semler controversy. The first time I read this Prime Buzz blog post, I thought he was telling everyone who disagreed with him to shut the fuck up. I bookmarked it in a righteous fury, but when I came back to it this morning with the intention of writing a snotty rejoinder, it seemed disappointingly rational.

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Either I read it wrong the first time, or magic copy-editing elves had come through Mike Hendricks' window and massaged his rhetoric with their magical scented massage oils.

So yes, by all means, let's move beyond the racially divisive Semler appointment to the fact that if you're looking for a gimongous cliche to use as the tagline for your blog, it's pretty tough to beat "Stop the Spin -- I Want to Get Off." Oh, believe me — I tried.

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In retrospect, I was trying too hard. By contrast, Hendricks has the Zenlike effortlessness of Master Li Mu Bai from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Admittedly, I stole all of my taglines from various "crazy" office posters and coffee mugs in my Plog shift supervisor's cubicle, but I have much to learn from this Mike Hendricks.

Sonic Screw Job

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2008 at 6:52 AM

BY JUSTIN KENDALL

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The Chiefs didn't get the roof, but they did get a few hundred mil.

Remember a couple of years ago when the Chiefs and Royals held up Kansas City taxpayers for money to renovate Arrowhead and the K? Do you recall the threats of leaving Kansas City and taking away hundreds millions of dollars from the local economy? Yeah, well it turns out at least one sports team owner thinks they were full of shit.

Sports economists have been saying it for years. But in a bizarre court filing last week, lawyers for the Seattle Supersonics actually admitted that a professional sports franchise has no economic impact, The Seattle Times reported. Wonder Woman must have used her Lasso of Truth on Sonics’ lawyers, who admitted in U.S. District Court that Seattle’s economy wouldn't suffer if the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City. The strange claim contradicted Sonics owner Clay Bennett’s previous boasts of just the opposite while trying to swindle taxpayers into paying for a new arena.

“The financial issue is simple, and the city's analysts agree, there will be no net economic loss if the Sonics leave Seattle,” court records say. “Entertainment dollars not spent on the Sonics will be spent on Seattle's many other sports and entertainment options. Seattleites will not reduce their entertainment budget simply because the Sonics leave."

In March, the people of Oklahoma City – the Sonics most likely next home – will vote on a $120 million tax package to upgrade the 6-year-old – SIX! YEAR! OLD! – Ford Center and build a NBA practice facility.

Remember this when the Kansas City [insert team name here] holds taxpayers hostage for Sprint Center renovations.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Daily Briefs: Die-a-Beetus, Free Money From the Government, Guess Who God Hates

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2008 at 12:09 PM

By CHRIS PACKHAM

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• There's a Wilford Brimley voice that talks in my head, deep inside a brain structure called the — uh, I'm not a neurologist — brainhole? Is that a word? Well, it talks inside my head and dispenses folksy, homespun wisdom such as: "Use the emergency eyewash station. Use it OFTEN. It's the right thing to do."

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One of the things that the Wilford Brimley voice said to me once was, "Don't hand out tax revenues to commercial developers." And then he glared at me over the top of his glasses so I knew that if I ever spent money in the Power and Light District, he'd strip to the waist and start working my chest and head with old-time-Western-style roundhouse punches.

But around lunchtime every single day, he forgets about his high blood sugar and says, "Eat a vegetarian burrito from Chipotle. Eat one every day. There's no reason not to." Now, I work with people who, on principle, will not eat at the new Chipotle when the Power and Light District opens. But those people don't have a daily internal struggle with goddamn Gus Witherspoon.

Anyway, going against the grain of everything ever broadcast on any local news station in the entire history of television, KSHB Channel 41 somehow put together a good story about a tax-increment-financed development that went wrong.

• Republican Gov. Matt Blunt says it's time to hit the rusty-dusty. Done all the damage he can do around here. Time to mosey. He'll be joining former Kansas City, Missouri, parks board member Frances Semler as well as former employees of Sprint, Cerner and H&R Block in what I used to call "Funemployment" before the buzz-kill unemployment office lady told me that selling my plasma did not count as "looking for work." Here is an awesome post from Blue Girl.

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• At this point, you're painfully aware that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced an emergency interest rate cut, like a total popularity whore. Now, I'm no economist — I'm a working man with a head full of football plays and Fred Sanford quotes, like you. So let me just say this: Ben Bernanke, you so ugly I, could smash yo' face across some dough and make gorilla cookies.

At my high school, history classes were taught by the football coach. He didn't know much about history or books, and kids made him nervous. The week we were supposed to learn about the effect of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act on the Great Depression, we learned the fullback-off-tackle-outside-belly play instead. So I'm asking with complete sincerity: Before Bush, was there ever another occasion in American history in which the executive branch actually proposed issuing checks to taxpayers from the treasury? All I can remember about American economic history is that the fullback speeds forward while the quarterback continues faking that he's handing off the ball to the tailback.

• Contrary to anything written down on my not legally binding résumé, I never actually graduated from college. One of the consequences of my decision never to finish my degree is that my income doesn't allow for your sophisticated uptown luxuries such as professional dental care or gasoline for a car. So I use the working man's dentist, Listerine, twice a day, and I take the honest, unpretentious transportation of the working man: the Max. In the summer, I like to pop open the bus window and shout, "LOSERS WALK!" at the hobos who can't afford the fare. Sometimes I light my unpretentious working man's cherry blunts with my unexpired bus transfers, so I can feel like a big-shot.

With gasoline now reaching, oh, call it $8 a gallon, Blue Springs and neighboring cities have seen increased use of existing bus lines from the suburbs to downtown Kansas City. Eight dollars a gallon, people. That's more expensive than wine!

• I've written a lot about the adult entertainment business this week. I know it. You know it. So let's just say Jackson County is now cracking down on adult businesses, and let Hearne Christopher Jr. sort out the details.

• This is barely news: The Westboro Baptist Church will protest Brokeback Mountain star Heath Ledger's funeral as a part of its ongoing condemnation of anyone who is homosexual, portrays a homosexual in a movie, reads or writes a book about homosexuality, knows someone who is "gay-acting," and anyone who ever lived on the same planet as a gay person. As a disincentive to give them any more attention than they're already getting, here is a link to a smelly old PDF file. Also, The Pitch's Justin Kendall has more.

Phelps: ‘Heath Ledger is now in hell’

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2008 at 11:21 AM

By JUSTIN KENDALL

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The Westboro Baptist Church didn’t waste time sending their condolences to actor Heath Ledger’s family. Yesterday, Topeka’s most famous homophobic residents announced they will picket Ledger’s funeral for his role as gay cowboy Ennis del Mar in Brokeback Mountain.

“Heath Ledger thought it was great fun defying God Almighty and His plain word; to wit: God Hates Fags! & Fag-Enablers!” the church's press release reads. “Ergo, God hates the sordid, tacky bucket of slime seasoned with vomit known as Brokeback Mountain – and He hates all persons having anything whatsoever to do with it.

“Heath Ledger is now in Hell, and has begun serving his eternal sentence there – beside which, nothing else about Heath Ledger is relevant or consequential.”

Read the full release here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Jenna Fischer's BFF Tonight at Record Bar

Posted By on Tue, Jan 22, 2008 at 3:04 PM

Much like Jason Lee endorsing Midlake, one of the acts on the bill tonight has a Hollywood endorsee.

Jenna Fischer, who plays Pam on The Office and was HOT AS HELL* as Dewey Cox's second wife in Walk Hard, likes her some Willy Wisely. According to the press release, Fischer met the chisel-jawed singer-songwriter when he scored her movie Lollilove. She stars in the video for his song "Through Any Window."

Wisely plays at 11 tonight at the Record Bar between local acts Emily Tummins and headliners the Sour Babies.

*When not in age makeup.

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Daily Briefs: Semler, Jackson County Taxes and the Vast Media Empire of the Historic Northeast

Posted By on Tue, Jan 22, 2008 at 12:53 PM

By CHRIS PACKHAM

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Once a week, a toothless tweaker and his pregnant 15-year-old girlfriend come driving down my street in their 1980 Dodge Colt and whip the week's issue of Northeast News, "The Unwelcome Bilingual Newspaper of the Historic Northeast Delivered by Meth-Addicted Degenerates" into the accumulated pile on the sidewalk in front of my house. And they're obviously not going to stop anytime soon. So I've started following front-of-the-book columnist Buzz Bunny the Newshound, a plucky dog that reports about Kansas City. People — it's a DOG that REPORTS THE NEWS! IT'S CRAZY!

Via Buzz Bunny the News Hound, I learned that Temptations in the Crossroads wants a zoning change that would allow it to expand into any space that shares a wall adjacent to its current location. (Lede: "The Crossroads District in downtown is barking up a storm...") Anyway, this makes day two of my coverage of news reports about dirty, dirty adult businesses. As a palate cleanser, read this Hearne Christopher Jr. column about naked ladies with sushi on them.

• Ordinarily, I hate it when people "strike a blow for common sense," because it usually means they're going to bitch about how in America we DRIVE ON A PARKWAY and PARK ON A DRIVEWAY and then they smash a bunch of watermelons. But sometimes you have to take a brave stand against the prevailing wisdom and use the mammoth resources of your daily newspaper to say that police shouldn't be allowed to force pregnant women onto their stomachs.

I never thought it was going to come to this, but with his support of officers Spencer and Schnell, criminal obstetrics expert and Jackson County Judge William F. Mauer is now making me think that maybe we actually need to sit down with law enforcement and lay out some simple guidelines. Things like "Do not taze the baby." Just basic stuff you never thought you'd have to say out loud.

• When I was 5 years old, my dad sat me on his knee and said, "Buy low, sell high." It changed my life. Thanks to my dad, I will totally not be buying gold right now, because it's been bouncing up and down around the $900-an-ounce mark for a week or so. Dad followed up with "Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey," a mnemonic device that changes your whole life once you learn it. Years too late, he would tell me, "Liquor before beer, have no fear. Beer before liquor, never been sicker." I'm going to make sure my kids know that one by the time they get to kindergarten and also the folks at the Missouri Department of Social Services are totally going to know me by first name. I'll be like Norm from Cheers down there.

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Frances Semler stepped down from the Parks Board today in the wake of a controversy about her political beliefs. Look: I'm no Minuteman. I'm as anti-pro-whitey as they come. And speaking as a Call of Duty pretend-combat veteran who's shot a lot of virtual Nazis, I'm just not comfortable with all the pictures of neo-fascists attending Minuteman rallies. So Semler returns to her private life as a member of a gross club.

On the other hand, opinions are like class-D felony aggravated stalking convictions — everybody has one! And if I got fired from my job every time an employer found out about my *former* membership in Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya, I'd probably be delivering Northeast News in my 1989 Pontiac Firefly and smoking a lot of meth. C'mon, I WAS 20 YEARS OLD. Young, dumb, and full of righteous anger in the name of Allah, all praise be to Him. Like you never dabbled in militant Islam.

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• Jackson County sharply raised property appraisals in 2007 after years of neglecting property value increases during the real estate boom. Now, property owners smacked with gigantic tax bills are throwing their tea in Jackson County's FACE. This is really kind of a social conservative's dream, because those tax dollars go to hippie socialist New Deal-type expenditures like public schools and fire departments. DOWN WITH THE MAN! (Pictured: The Man, inconsolable).

• Bloomsday Books is closing its doors for good. I don't have a link for the store's closing, because Google doesn't know the URL for the part of my brain that loves Bloomsday Books. Here's the e-mail:

Dear friends, customers, James Joyce readers and barflies,

After 14 years and a great deal of fun, the end is near for Bloomsday Books, at least as an open shop. As our internet sales have grown, our in-shop sales have dwindled to the point that it’s no longer worthwhile to pay rent and expenses. So Bloomsday Books will join the ranks of the online merchants.

It’s bittersweet for us, but there’s good news for you: A BIG sale starts Thursday, January 24th, and will run until our last day in the shop, targeted for Feb. 10.

Initially our inventory of 16,000 books will be offered at 30% off; over coming weeks we’ll drop to 40% to 70% off depending on the category. We’ll also be selling bookshelves, tables, chairs, the rare book case and some of the artwork. Bloomsday hours will be extended – 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday 10-5 – during these last weeks. Come early, come often!

Here is a list of some of the furniture, etc., for sale:

* Library table (the one we usually have in the window) – $500

* Library table with leather top (in back of the shop) – $400

* Long oval display table with removable top (front of the shop) – $500

* Antique rare book case with glass front – $1200

* Red leather chair – $100

* Framed photos of bookstores (Shakespeare & Co., Paris; Notre Dame

reflected in bookstore window, Paris; Newspaper stall, Paris; City

Lights Bookstore, San Francisco; Bistro, Paris; Book stall,

Florence) – $85 each

* Pine bookshelves – $80 each

* 2 Computer tables – $70 each

* Mustardy-colored (Nancy’s term) Oriental rug, 3.5’ x 10.5’ – $175

* Children’s oak library table – $75

* Miscellaneous office equipment, chairs, book-ends, etc.

By this e-mail you are getting early notice. We will be advertising the sale in the newspaper, on Craig’s List and KCUR, so come in early to get the best of Bloomsday.

And join us in welcoming Hudson and Jane, the fine men’s and women’s clothier from the Plaza. A great addition to the Crestwood Shops, they’ll be opening here shortly after we’re out.

We look forward to seeing you all!

Tom and Nancy

--

Bloomsday Books

313 E 55th St.

Kansas City MO 64113

(816) 523-6712

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