Friday, February 27, 2009

Olathe teacher sketches the Obamas

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 11:36 AM

Leslie Brown's sketch of Michelle Obama
  • Leslie Brown's sketch of Michelle Obama

Earlier this month, former Pitch writer Jen Chen passed along a tip about an Olathe school teacher who does really cool sketches of Michelle Obama. Leslie Brown's first sketch of the First Lady was featured on the Mrs. O blog. And he was considering a second version based off an Annie Leibovitz photo that was featured in Vogue. I exchanged e-mails with Brown after I wrote about his first Michelle Obama drawing. He promised to send his latest sketch when he finished. So check out the new one on the left

"I chose this particular picture

because I liked the profile view and her face was completely in shadow, which is

something we normally don't see," Brown wrote in an e-mail.

Leslie Brown's sketch of Barack Obama
  • Leslie Brown's sketch of Barack Obama

Brown used a mechanical pencil, .5 2b lead, a kneaded eraser, tortillions. He drew the piece on Bristol 400 series smooth paper.

"It takes me about an hour and a half to do an original sketch," Brown

wrote. "Once that is done, I start the blending process. Since the

picture was so dark, it took me about 25 hours to layer, blend, layer.

It was a tedious task, but well worth it. The scanned copy doesn't do

justice to the original!"

Brown tells me he's "always searching for unique pictures to draw." He practices using photos of celebrities or other famous people.

Brown also sent this cool sketch of President Barack Obama.

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Overland Park wins student cooking competition

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 11:35 AM


Clearing out my press-release inbox for the week, I noticed I missed this important announcement from the National Restaurant Association. (The good NRA.) It has chosen the Overland Park Convention Center for its 2010 and 2011 national competition. The 2009 competition is in San Diego.

The Association's ProStart invitational for high school students involves a culinary event in which they'll prepare a meal consisting of a starter, an entrée and dessert

in 60 minutes. There is also a management competition in which students compete by going over case studies and competing in a "question and answer" Jeopardy-style event." It seems the NRA wanted a national student culinary competition to compete against the American Culinary Foundation's many competitions and thus ProStart was born.

The event wil draw more than 275 students from 37 states including Alaska, New York and Florida. What's so great about these student competitions is that its the creme of high school students who all know what they want to do. What many of them are unsure of, though, is where to go to college and/or work. Hopefully, spending a week in Kansas City and getting to know our better restaurants and seeing the awesome program at JCCC that can produce students like Kelly Conwell will make them decide to stick around.

Continue reading »

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Don't attack McDonald's quite yet

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 11:00 AM

This week the Arkansas Times had an article about McDonald's worker Nigel Haskett, who jumped across the counter to help a woman who was being beaten. He then got into a fight with the man who was assaulting her, and the man shot Haskett several times in the stomach. That was last year. Since then Haskett's had several stomach surgeries and his medical bills have grown to more than $300,000, and McDonald's wouldn't pay the medical bills. Or at least that's what the Arkansas Times and then Huffington Post reported, and naturally blogs started a ruckus about it.

But it wasn't quite true. The McDonald's where Haskett worked was a franchisee McDonald's and the owner, Ray Nosler, had his own independent medical insurance. Nosler turned the case over to his insurance company, Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing, which refused to pay the bills, arguing that "Mr. Haskett's injuries did not arise out of or within the course and scope of his employment."

At this point, McDonald's had a decision to make. It could support the decision of the insurance company and let its employees know to never physically interfere in such matters but call the police instead -- or it could back up Haskett in his lawsuit against the insurance company. McDonald's has gone with the latter. Nosler has released this statement: "McDonald's supports Nigel's claim... if for some reason his claim is denied [by courts], and other insurance options are unavailable, I intend to cover the cost of his medical expenses. I'm doing this because it's the right thing to do."

One way or another Haskett is going to get his medical bills paid. But if the courts find against Haskett, then Nosler will become a victim, too. Three-hundred grand isn't chump change, especially for an individual franchisee. As for Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing, it's owned by BancorpSouth, a bank healthy enough not to need TARP money and to record a $120 million profit last year.

Here's the security video of the attack so you can see for yourself if Haskett was acting out of the scope of employment.

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Missouri Rep. Jason Grill fires first shot for calories on menus

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 10:30 AM


Before yesterday, I'd never heard of Missouri State Rep. Jason Grill, but the young Democrat from the Kansas City area's 32nd district has sponsored a bill to put calorie information on menu boards. House Bill 755 would "require food service establishments that are

one of a group of 15 or more doing business nationally to display

calorie information to consumers on menu boards. The caloric

information will be required to be located alongside prices and similar

in size."

On his blog, Grill writes that Bill 755 is modeled after New York City's code, which California also based its bill on. As we've already reported, putting calories on menus does have an effect on people's eating habits, especially when it informs them that food they might have thought was good for them is anything but.

Grill's main opposition will come from chain restaurants just as it was in New York City. According to the Columbia Daily Tribune, the Missouri Restaurant Association opposes the bill.

If it doesn't pass, that's not because people don't support it, it's because Grill is before his time. As obesity continues to be a problem and people become more comfortable with calorie lists on menus, the idea will be less controversial. Yes, New York and California are liberal bastions but a similar bill just cleared the moderate state of Indiana's House of Representatives. From Indiana to Missouri isn't a stretch.

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Dairy Queen: Blizzards and blogs!

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 10:05 AM


This has been a DQ week here in the Fat City. First we paid homage to the oldest Dairy Queen location in Kansas City, then Owen Morris wrote about bllionaire Warren Buffett insisting on being interviewed in a Dairy Queen.  Now we've learned that the soft-serve giant has started a blog! Non-company bloggers will be rewarded with DQ gift cards for their posts!


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Solange and Estelle at the VooDoo Lounge

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 10:00 AM

Photo of Estelle courtesy Atlantic Records
  • Photo of Estelle courtesy Atlantic Records

Before last night, the extent of what I knew about Solange Knowles was limited to what I read about her on Dlisted (the celebrity blogger likes to make up stories about how her diva sister Beyonce keeps Solange locked away in the basement) and the crazy-ass outfits I see her going out in public with thanks to GoFugYourself. So, not a good look.

That's why I'm so grateful that I got to see homegirl rock the shit out of a thin but passionate crowd last night at the VooDoo Lounge. (Side note: "voodoo" is one of those words that looks more like it's spelled wrong the more you think about it.) There were rows of chairs set up on what shoulda been a dance floor -- Danny the bartender and I puzzled over it together until he went on a recon mission and found out that the tour manager wanted it that way -- and the balcony upstairs was closed. Little word got out that Estelle -- a Grammy-nominated singer, hello -- and Solange were in town, I think.

Solange gets onstage, accompanied by two shimmying backup singers in terrible, bow-at-the-crotch black cocktail dresses, and I'm expecting fashion a la Tina Turner in Mad Max:

Instead we get a totally sane, sparkly, short wrap dress. (No photos allowed, but I'm sure someone snuck a few in that will end up on the web shortly.)

Her band is four skinny white dudes in suits and skinny black ties, doing rhythm guitar and funk jacked from Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. She did her own songs, like "Would Have Been the One," "So Be It," and blended them with covers -- "LoveFool" by the Cardigans, "Electric Feel" by MGMT. But the show-stopper, for me, was when she did a slow, soul-singah version of Devin the Dude's "Doobie Ashtray." I almost fell out. Kind of like Solange did at the airport recently. HAHAHA okay sorry.

Estelle comes out after a short break, and again, I'm expecting serious wardrobe shenanigans. But she's wearing black jeans and a navy shirt, turquoise eyeshadow and a tight pincurl of hair swept to the side. She looked normal. And charming, especially when she chatted up the crowd in her London accent that makes everything more profound.

She opened with the "Wait a Minute (Just a Touch)," which sounds so classic that I just searched everywhere to figure out if it's a cover and I'm still convinced it is. YEP! Other songs had a reggae feel, which is the perfect vibe for super-chill Estelle, who vogued with the microphone but otherwise showed off few dance moves. Everyone was waiting for her single, the hit she did with Kanye West, "American Boy," but she saved that for the end.

Know what she didn't save for the end? An encore. (It would have been "So Much Out the Way," according to the notes the lighting guys had.) Seconds after the last notes of "American Boy," Estelle was on the bus. I let two fanatical girls borrow my useless "press" sticker to beg their way backstage and watched them get rebuffed by no less than three different VooDoo staffers. One told them that Estelle had cancelled her meet-and-greet. Maybe she was soured by the small crowd? Maybe she had a headache? All I know is, given more time, Solange might have showed her up --  just a touch.

Estelle's Set List:
Just A Touch
No Substitute  Love
More Than Friends
In the Rain
Come Over
Pretty Please
Get Ready
American Boy/Show Me/Star

Estelle says suck it! But with an English accent, so it's cute.

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The former altar boy's guide to Lent

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 9:39 AM

Flickr: Mario_Groleau

I've got a confession to make: I was still just an adorable little tot in the early 1960s, but, yes, I was around before the dramatic changes from the Vatican II Council made it possible for observant Catholic families, like mine, to eat meat on Fridays.

Not just Fridays during Lent, of course, but all those other Fridays. Since my mother was neither a Catholic nor an especially good cook, the restrictions of meatless Fridays meant culinary chaos in her kitchen. Her meatless repertoire was limited to macaroni-and-cheese (the frozen kind from Stouffer's -- she never made it from scratch), frozen fish sticks baked off in the oven and served -- I cringe to even admit this -- with ketchup, and pancakes, but only occasionally, since my father detested breakfast served as an evening meal; it was un-American, as far as he was concerned. I remember spaghetti in tomato sauce without meatballs and a game attempt at frying "fish and chips" that didn't turn out so well.

Later, after Vatican II, we happily ate steak and meatloaf on Fridays. Until the period of Lent. And then the old kitchen troubles started up again. By this time, though, my old man had wised up and decided it was better for the whole family to go out to eat during Lenten Fridays. The first choice was always a cafeteria. Cafeterias then, as now, typically serve baked and fried fish and sometimes even salmon croquettes. And lots of side dishes that kids would happily eat, including mac-and-cheese, corn, green beans and mashed potatoes without butter instead of gravy.

Since I still observe Lenten traditions, I've been known to frequent one of the classic classic cafeterias in the area, the Piccadilly Cafeteria, at 119th and Metcalf during these holy days of obligation. And if I haven't also given up gambling as a Lenten sacrifice during this introspective period between Ash Wednesday and Easter, I might venture into one of the well-stocked buffets at the casinos. It's very easy to pile a plate with non-meat dishes there, especially the elaborate buffet at the Ameristar Casino, which has decent Chinese, Mexican and Italian fare too.

Fat City blogger Owen Morris has written a post today about all kinds of fish options for Lenten observers, but I've gone to one too many parish fish frys, shrimp suppers, and such over the years and -- at the risk of burning in the fires of hell -- I'd rather eat elsewhere. I prefer more creative meatless fare. I mean, if I can't have a Friday night cheeseburger, I can eat a damn good veggie burger at Eden Alley -- or any number of other inspired dishes. I once had a vegetarian "Reuben" sandwich there that was almost as memorable as the real thing from the greatest delicatessen in the Midwest.

My other favorite no-meat meals? The macaroni-and-cheese at Cafe Trio, any of the meatless dishes at Korma Sutra, the spicy tofu at Bo Ling's, the lunch buffet at New Cafe Tandoor  and the grilled cheese-on-rye at Winstead's.

But I'm always open to other suggestions.


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It's Lent. Bring on the fish.

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 9:30 AM

Flickr: Whitch Kitten

The black marks on hungover foreheads this past Wednesday meant one thing. Lent is here and Catholics can say sayanora to meat on Fridays for the next seven weeks. In addition to lowering the carbon footprint, Lent's meat ban is a windfall for seafood restaurants. As an undercover Red Lobster server points out, it's no coincidence that Red Lobster timed its Lobsterfest exactly for Lent.

For non-seafood restaurants, the results can be different. "I'd say we see sales go down a little bit on Fridays during Lent," said Bob Casey, manager of Stroud's in Fairway. "It's not disastrous and we know to plan for it." Casey said that during Lent, Stroud's offers a Friday lunch salmon patty for $9.75, which includes all the "normal Strouds' fixings like green beans, mashed potatoes and rolls."

Casey said Stroud's does see an uptick in catfish orders, as does Anthony's Restaurant. Since Anthony's caters to a heavily Catholic clientele, including many traditionalists, it offers a whole fried catfish special every Friday of the year. During Lent, though, the sales jump. "It's a significant amount. I don't know statistics but it's definitely a lot more than the rest of the year," Joe Mingrone said. "Our scampi has always been a big seller and lots of people get that too." The fried catfish costs $9.95 and comes with a salad and a side such as pasta, baked potato or eggplant Parmesan. During the day, Anthony's also has options like catfish filets and mac and cheese.

Fish and chips also becomes more popular. Cafe Europa is offering the dish for $13 every Friday during Lent as well as clam chowder for $4-$6.

Dan from Gone Mild, a practicing Catholic, recommends the tuna casserole at Accurso's, which is scheduled to open in its new location within the next two weeks. (As with all restaurant openings, that may change.) He and the other Catholics I talked to all mentioned the fact that each parish puts on a fish fry.

In fact, the Catholic Key has rounded up the menus, times and prices for nearly 20 fish fries in the area. There look to be particularly good ones at Our Lady of The Presentation Parish in Lee's Summit, which has a baked potato bar in addition to baked cod and fried tilapia, and Nativity of Mary Parish in Independence, which is serving up frog legs and salmon croquets. 

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Q&A: Interview with Martin Bisi

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 9:07 AM

Pitch contributor Saby Reyes-Kulkarni recently conducted a monster-length interview with producer Martin Bisi (Sonic Youth, Swans, John Zorn, Herbie Hancock and many, many more), who appears tonight at the Record Bar in support of his new album, Sirens of the Apocalypse. Having participated in so many cutting-edge recordings, not to mention graffiti culture, Bisi had a great deal to say about the musical movements he helped kick-start, but prefers to look at them from a broader social perspective. Some choice highlights from that interview:


The Pitch: Engineering is seen as a technical job, when really, it's more like alchemy.

Martin Bisi: It is, and I actually use the word "alchemy." I also use the term "social alchemy," because I feel that what's transpired in my life and my career is this weird social alchemy. It's not just the music, and definitely not just about the technicality, but it's truly about people. That's what excites me about my life. That's why I can look back and say, "You know what, I've had a good life." Not just because of the records I have on the wall, but because they represent this social story. It's about people. And that's what warms my heart. That's what makes me feel that I've lived. Because I've been part of a people-story.

You prefer for bands to not do more than three takes, because you've said it's hard to weigh five different takes.

If you have four, it's basically un-doable. If you're listening to the fourth, you almost can't even remember the first. Also, you know how people look for an "X-factor?" Often, people believe that the X-factor is in the fourth or fifth take. There's nothing wrong with the takes they have already, but they're seeking this intangible X-factor. My assumption is the opposite, where if there is an X-factor, it would be in the first take.

Continue reading »

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Breakfast Buffet: Friday, 02/27

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 9:00 AM


If you've got a hankering for garlic and bell peppers, then this is your post. If not, it's still got some great info on where to get peppers cheap. [KC With a Russian Accent]

The last Cheerios in your bowl of cereal. I always thought they randomly formed bunches but it turns out there's science behind why and how your Cheerios float on milk. [Scientific Blogging]

Scientists never cease to amaze me. They just published a paper on the best diet. After months of research they finally cracked the riddle -- it's eating less food. [Times]

The blueprints have been drawn, the workers hired and, in some cases, the foundations laid. But all of these skyscrapers share one thing in common: They're on hold. [OObject]

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