Most drivers passing through minuscule towns along the highway opt to keep a steady pace rather than stop and explore the unfamiliar surroundings. Randy Mason, Michael Murphy and their friend Don the Camera Guy aren't like most drivers. They created a television show by mining every promising stop for curiosities and characters. KCPT Channel 19's Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations follows the three-man road crew as they discover folk art, out-of-the-way eateries and all sorts of unusual people who live on the roads less traveled.As part of the Kansas City Public Library's Return to Route 66, the Roadside Revelations guys present a special reel of clips highlighting curious stops along the famed highway. Route 66 kicks begin at 2 p.m. at the Main Library (311 E. 12th Street) and are free.
The inanimate star of the show makes an appearance, too. A 56-pound black wad that aspires to be crowned the world's largest ball of videotape shows up for fans who wish to bathe in its magnetic glory or perhaps play a vigorous game of catch. The road crew has twice submitted its "world's largest" claim to the Guinness record keepers, who have twice ignored them. But that doesn't mean people don't want to see the shiny orb.
"If we don't bring the ball of tape, people ask where it is," Mason says. "So we'll be bringing it. Hopefully there will be an elevator, because it's heavy and I'm the only one who can carry it. Mike's got a bad back, and Don -- well, Don's got the camera." For information, call 816-701-3400.-- Michael Vennard
In his newest book, The Big Bang, the Buddha and the Baby Boom, author and meditation guru Wes "the Scoop" Nisker (as he was known in his radio days) takes readers on a journey that begins in a Jewish home in Nebraska and ends -- like all journeys of its kind -- in California, seated in the lotus position. Nisker comes to our area almost every year to lead meditation workshops, and this time he's scheduled a reading into his visit. He'll talk about why baby boomers identify with spiritual seeking, using his own story to illustrate his points. The reading begins at 7 p.m. Friday at Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 West 47th Street, 816-561-4466.-- Gina Kaufmann
Salsa and Stout
It is ill-advised to order a hamburger in a Mexican restaurant -- unless the restaurant is called Sparky's Diner, in which case all bets are off. We advocate using similar caution when attending the newest salsa class in town, which takes place Thursday nights at Molloy Brothers Irish Pub (1020 Westport Road). Whereas certain foods belong in certain kinds of dining establishments, salsa dancing should be able to make itself at home anywhere with a dance floor, even if it's Guinness and not Dos Equis on tap. A free lesson from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. precedes a party. For information, call 816-753-5207.-- Kaufmann
From the ground up
As a war correspondent for NPR, Sarah Chayes reported on devastation in war-torn countries such as Afghanistan. This weekend, Chayes, who has lived in Kandahar since shortly after 9/11, updates Kansas City about the rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan. The field director for Afghans for Civil Society appears at the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church (4501 Walnut) twice this weekend. At 7 p.m. Saturday, Chayes hosts the area premiere of Life After War, a documentary by Brian Knappenberger, followed by commentary and an auction of handcrafted items from Afghanistan. Admission is $10. At 10 a.m. Sunday, Chayes delivers a free lecture she's calling "Afghanistan: Clash of Civilizations?" For details, call 816-421-5004.-- Vennard