Like Rod Stewart, Dr. Richard Wiseman (who reads from his new book at Unity Temple on the Plaza at 7 p.m.) wanted to know why some guys have all the luck, some guys have all the pain, some guys get all the breaks and some guys do nothing but complain. Unlike Rod Stewart, Wiseman did more than just sing about this mind-boggling line of inquiry. He asked people whether they classified themselves as lucky or unlucky, then investigated their beliefs, daily practices and superstitions. Then he made bar graphs comparing the lucky population, the unlucky population and the luck-neutral population, and laid out the scientific principles of luck in his recent book The Luck Factor. "My research has involved a large number of experiments, hundreds of interviews, and thousands of questionnaires," he writes in Chapter Seven. "And throughout it I have managed to uncover the true secrets of luck." Meanwhile, we have figured out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop. We're hoarding our knowledge, though. Write all the hate mail you want -- we refuse to publish this coveted information. Your luck in obtaining an answer is very likely to improve if you sit yourself down and start licking. Unity Temple is located at 707 West 47th Street. For information on tonight's reading, call Rainy Day Books at 913-384-3126.
Friday, April 11, 2003
On a recent trip to Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art (2004 Baltimore), we came to the odd realization that looking at art depicting circus themes is much more enjoyable than going to the circus. Why? We don't know. A gallery employee suggested that maybe the art filters out a lot of the unpleasant things about the circus. Things like the feeling of hot nacho cheese spilling down the side of your pants, the sound of toddlers screaming in stereo, and -- of course -- clowns. The Greatest Show on Earth brings together black-and-white photographs documenting the lives of sideshow and circus performers, ceramic sculptures of precariously balancing acrobats, and glistening mosaics of trapeze-walking types. For the quiet, contemplative, clown-hating set, it's the perfect circus substitute. For information, call 816-221-2626.
Saturday, April 12, 2003
For a truly surreal dining experience, stop by Y.J.'s tonight. As you're scarfing down a platter of catfish, you'll be distracted by the sound of a kazoo. On Saturday nights, J. Ashley Miller entertains snack-shop diners in a nervously unpretentious way -- the goofy music is only half the charm. Not many people excel at playing the kazoo, as Miller does; still, he doesn't clamor for attention or demand center stage. He stands modestly in the corner, happily performing over the clanking of silverware. Y.J.'s is located at 128 West 18th Street. For information, call 816-472-5533.
Sunday, April 13, 2003
Unity Village, Missouri -- once called Unity Farm -- is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of its incorporation as a town. Before the 2 p.m. festivities (birthday cake and a live band) get under way, visitors can gawk at 1950s cars and trucks, including a bunch of classic Chevys, a Studebaker and a '56 Unity Village fire truck. Unity Village is located off M-350 Highway and Colbern Road near Lee's Summit. For directions or information, call 816-524-3550.
Monday, April 14, 2003
People who like experiments might want to witness tonight's Kallide show. Kallide is a Lawrence-based organization dedicated to fine-tuning the possibilities for collaboration among local musicians, filmmakers and visual artists. Although showing films to live music is not a new idea, it doesn't happen often in our area, and when it does, the movies are usually old silent films rather than new films created by young artists. Because this is an experiment, we can't say how it's all going to pan out, but we've used our knowledge of the participating bands to form a hypothesis. E.V.A.C. (an electronic breakbeat duo that has so completely defined its own style that an electronic-music show promoter once interrupted to ask it to play something more "normal") should remove patrons from the realm of the humdrum. And two indie bands -- Getaway Driver and Kelpie -- should pick up the pace and give the videos a rocking vibe. It all takes place at the Granada (1020 Massachusetts). For information, go to www.kallide.com or call 785-842-1390.
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
It is officially mid-April, which means that auditions for a short film called Solitaire should be ready to begin. Solitaire is about the sexual awakening of a bored housewife named Carolyn. The script contains no nudity and no sex scenes, but actresses hoping to play Carolyn should be prepared to convincingly fake an orgasm. If you suspect you might be the climax faker the local production company has been looking for, you might want to check with someone who really knows whether your performance was CONVINCING before you e-mail a résumé and head shot to John Shade Productions at email@example.com. For more information, call 816-838-3562 and ask for Andrew Dacey.
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
A visit to the Kansas City Museum could be in order today. Now that it's spring, the Historic Northeast is abloom, making it the perfect time to visit the area's St. John Park, wind around the romantic Cliff Drive (which offers a gritty-yet-beautiful view of the industrial parts of downtown) or stop by and pay tribute at the John F. Kennedy Memorial. Once you're at the nearby museum -- a ridiculously gigantic mansion that we're tempted to call a palace -- you can get ice cream and floats from the 1910 Soda Fountain in addition to admiring numerous wildlife dioramas and perhaps stopping by the planetarium. The field trip, for people who don't make it to this part of town very often, could be interesting for other reasons, too -- the secret grandeur of the surrounding homes, for one, and the chance to see where much of the city's Italian sausage comes from. For information on the Kansas City Museum (3218 Gladstone Boulevard), call 816-483-8300. Another bonus: Admission is only $2.50!