Friday, January 29, 2010

UMKC will school you on health-care reform

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 8:00 AM

The health-care reform bill passed by the U.S. House of Representative last year weighed in at a whopping 1,990 pages. The measure passed in the U.S. Senate just before Christmas clocked in at a staggering 2,074 pages.

Dr. Sharon Lee
  • Dr. Sharon Lee

Not exactly casual reading for the average citizen.

A new series hosted by the University of Missouri-Kansas City aims to make the whole complicated mess a little more comprehensible.

"National Health Care: A Community Conversation" kicks off tomorrow morning with part one: "The Consumer Perspective." In addition to a number of UMKC professors, the panel of experts includes Jeff Bloemker from Cerner Corporation, Chris Lester from the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and Dr. Sharon Lee from Southwest Boulevard Family Health Care.

The "non-partisan, fact-based discussion," as UMKC bills it, starts at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow in the UMKC School of Law's E.E. Thompson Courtroom (500 East 52nd Street).

And mark your calendar for The Employer Perspective on February 27 and "The Provider Perspective on March 27."

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Night + Day Trivia: Zoo Membership Winner Announced

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 8:00 AM


Earlier this week, we posted this picture of polar bear's snout and teased Plog readers with a free family membership to the Kansas City Zoo -- the prize for whoever could answer three questions pertaining to the zoo's history. Before we get to the winner, here are the questions again -- with the answers provided by Julie A. Neemeyer, the zoo's director of marketing and membership.

1. In what year did the zoo last have a polar bear?

1990 -- a polar bear returns this year.

2. What animal was stolen from the Zoo in 1974 and found in the bathroom at a gas station on Broadway?

Gibbon (the smallest of the apes) -- the Zoo currently has gibbons in the new Tropics, an indoor rainforest in the original 1909 Zoo building.

3. What was the first project completed with the 2004 bond funds?

The Discovery Barn where inside and out, children of all ages can act like the animals.

No one got all three questions right -- the second one turned out to be a real doozy. But two out of three ain't bad, so we picked a winner from among the folks who got two correct. Congratulations to Lisa (you know who you are).

Thanks to everyone who played. We'll announce another contest and a new prize on Monday.

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Weekend Distractions

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 7:00 AM


Before we get to this weekend's exciting event recommendations, an explanation of facts:

The big and beautiful image on the right refers to Night + Day, also known as The Pitch's events calendar, a comprehensive guide to arts, entertainment, recreation and general time-wasting fun that happens in the metro. Every event listed below (and so much more) can be found in the calendar. And now, since you love it so much, go become a fan of The Pitch Night + Day on Facebook. (In case you're wondering, doing so will help you stay even more informed about what's awesome in Kansas City.)

And now, back to the regular Friday round-up of things you should spend your time doing this weekend.

1. Scare yourself stupid! The Legends 14 Theatres are screening eight indie horror flicks, starting today.

2. Support a local sports team! The Missouri Mavericks take on some puck-chuckers from Rapid City at 7:05 p.m. at the Independence Events Center.

3. Have a burger with your mates! And learn about Australian rules football at the same time. Members of KC Power, an Australian football league, are celebrating Australia Day over brews and burgers at Westport Flea Market Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m.

4. Wear a feathery mask! Crosstown Station is hosting the Top of the Bottoms Masquerade Ball, an early Mardi Gras extravaganza, Saturday night.

5. Support local artists and hungry people! Works by more than 25 artists will crowd the walls of boutique eatery Room 39 during the Fresh and Local art reception on Sunday, starting at 3 p.m. Yes, there will be tasty treats and wine available from the restaurant. But bring a canned good -- the event doubles as a benefit for Harvester's.

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Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 5:00 AM


A writer at takes a skeptical view of YRC Worldwide's ability to keep its trucks on the road.

Overland Park-based YRC is offering shippers a money-back guarantee that deliveries will arrive on schedule. calls the offer a "transparent move" to reassure customers reluctant to do business with the artist formerly known as Yellow after its brush with bankruptcy.

YRC's Chairman and CEO Bill Zollars said recently that shippers were returning "aggressively" and that "bankruptcy is not on our radar screen now."

Yet Robert Holmes, a writer at, quotes analysts who think YRC's balance sheet continues to look pretty ghastly. "[E]ven the most bullish investors can't deny that YRC Worldwide has been the punching bag of short traders operating on the belief the company

wouldn't solve its liquidity problems," Holmes writes.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

'Go See Eddie' author J.D. Salinger dead at 91

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 4:18 PM


Farewell to the man today's New York Times obituary calls "the Garbo of letters." J.D. Salinger, author of The Catcher in the Rye, weird dad and litigious recluse, has died of natural causes in his Cornish, New Hampshire, home. He was 91.

One of Salinger's early, still uncollected short stories saw its first publication in the University of Kansas City Review, a literary journal that existed during a formative moment of mid-20th-century American fiction. The writer had sent one of his first pieces, "Go See Eddie," to Story magazine and Esquire; both rejected it before Review printed it in its December 1940 issue. According to the Salinger site, the story was then forgotten for almost a quarter-century.

In an early indicator of Salinger's fascination with family, "Eddie" zeroes in on a brother-sister relationship. The dialogue-intensive sketch includes this exchange:

Helen stood up and watched him put on his polo coat.

"Go see Eddie," Bobby said, putting on his pigskin gloves. "Hear me?" He buttoned his overcoat. "I'll give you a ring soon."

Helen chided, "Oh, you'll give me a ring soon! When? The fourth of July?"

"No. Soon. I've been busy as hell lately. Where's my hat? Oh, I didn't have one."

Read all of it here.

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Incoming: The Two Man Gentlemen Band at the Replay, February 15

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 4:00 PM

If you can't take out your sweetie this Valentine's Day, why not make it up to her the next night? Nothing says "you're my special someone" like a pair of gents dressed up all classy-like in suits singing songs that would make the boys in Tin Pan Alley jealous.


Some of you may have been lucky enough to have caught the Two Man Gentlemen Band this past summer at the Lawrence Busker Fest. They play banjo, kazoo, guitar, and sing songs that bring to mind both barbershop and medicine shows.

These guys are entertaining like crazy, and they manage to play music that's certainly retro without seeming like it's a novelty. The topics run the gamut from family-friendly to mildly risque at times.

The family-friendly stuff got play this past summer, but I imagine the more ribald material will be played for the PBR-swigging masses at the Replay come February 15. At $2 to get in, you and your significant other can still manage to get good and loaded for under $20. And, really...isn't that what young, bar-hopping love is all about?

MP3: The Two Man Gentlemen Band, "Prime Numbers"

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Crackin' Nuts with Gregg Todt

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 3:00 PM

The four tattoos on Gregg Todt's left knuckles read: "1977" - a tribute to the year he started his first band in his hometown of Blue Springs, MO. Rockin' ever since, I caught up with the Federation of Horsepower frontman and 98.9 The Rock's Johnny Dare Morning Show contributor in Waldo to talk about radio, drinking with famous people and kids.

The Pitch: What do you listen to in your car when you're driving to work at 5 a.m.?

Gregg Todt: My iPod. Pretty much exclusively, my iPod. I don't listen to much radio at all. I listen to it every morning at work.

How do you feel about radio in Kansas City?

There is a lot of good competition in town. There's a little bit of something for everybody. At Entercom, we've got a lot of strong stations.


Of all the musicians you've met recently, whose spirit has stuck with you the most?

I got really, really drunk with Nashville Pussy. That was awesome. While I was watching Nashville Pussy, I was standing next to Lemmy from Motorhead. That same night, I got to meet Reverend Horton Heat, that was cool. I have yet to meet anyone, as far as bands go, that had been a dick. Everyone's been pretty cool. I mean, there's bands that I wouldn't necessarily say that I am a huge fan of, but that I liked solely for the fact that they are good people.

What's going on with Federation of Horsepower now?

We are getting ready to go record some new songs soon. We've got nine finished and we've got another three or four that we are working on now. We are planning on playing a lot of shows and getting out of town as much as possible. We played Davey's awhile back and that was probably the first show we played recently in Midtown and that was in April of last year.

What inspires you on a local level?

There's a lot of really, really good bands around town that constantly raise the bar. I love being in the position where we can pick our own opening bands or pick bands we want to be on the bill with. Anymore, that's how we get to see the bands that we like because everyone is so busy all the time. I don't get out to nearly as many shows as I like because of having to be at the radio station at 5 a.m.

You are a family man. Do you go to a lot of school functions?

Absolutely, absolutely.

Does your son think you are cool?

My seven-year-old is way into Bad Religion right now. He's an aspiring punk rocker. He likes the tattoos and stuff. He's a cool kid. He wants to learn how to play guitar. He's actually gotten onstage with us a few times and sang. He does a pretty mean version of the Spider-Man theme.

Tomorrow night in northwest JoCo, catch Federation of Horsepower with the Architects and the Mendoza Lie at Aftershock (5240 Merriam Drive, 913-384-5646).

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That was then, this is now: 2024 Main Street

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 2:24 PM

Popular prices, counter service....
Back when men still wore straw hats during the summer months and advertising "popular prices" really meant something, the folks who ran Kelly's Restaurant at 2024 Main Street probably did a rousing business. After all, Union Station was bustling a few blocks to the south and nearby, any number of inexpensive hotels catered to "drummers" (traveling salesmen). Those were the main customers for lowbrow lodging like the Rieger Hotel -- where Rob Dalzell's restaurant, 1924 Main, now occupies the old lobby -- and the Midwest Hotel (long before it became notorious and, currently, vacant).

The same place in 2010
Kelly's wasn't fancy. The tables had oilcloth covers and the tables were shoved pretty close together, but you could probably get a solid meal there for less than a buck.

The building hasn't housed a restaurant for a long, long time -- I vaguely remember a short-lived saloon there in the late 1980s. The building is currently the Third Eye Event Space, which can be rented out for weddings and private parties. No straw hats required.

(Image of Kelly's Restaurant courtesy of


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