Brian McTavish | KCUR

Brian McTavish

Contributor, Up to Date

Brian McTavish follows popular culture in the belief that the search for significance can lead anywhere.  Brian explains, "I've written articles and reviews ... reviewed hundreds of concerts, films and plays. And the thing is, these high arts all sprang from the pop culture of their day.  Don't forget: Shakespeare was once Spielberg."

U.S. Air Force photo/Lance Cheung

Huh? What’s that? Come again?

Carrying on a conversation this weekend might be tougher than usual, if you choose to turn up the volume with goings-on rooted in rock music, monster trucks, boisterous laughs and other forms of sonic dynamite.

There’s also the promise of loud costumes. Pardon? No not plowed customs – I don’t even know that that means. What? No, I’m not being mean – maybe a little dense. No, no, I’m not tense. If you can make me out at all, welcome to the weekend din! Weak and done? Really?

 

Senior Airman Carlin Leslie / U.S. Airforce

Happy 2018 – now what?

The new calendar year’s initial weekend delivers a grab bag of endeavors: Downtown art-scene appreciation, drolly ancient funk-rock, Jewish comedians riffing on their cultural history, dinosaur love, football dreams and more.

What might all the miscellany amount to? Find out by reaching into the bag!

 

1. First Friday at the Crossroads

Brian McTavish / KCUR 89.3

 

Did you get everything fun done that you wanted to this year? Are you sure?

Because it’s now or never to take part in disappearing expressions of the holidays and other going-going-gone doings before they’re as kaput as 2017.

From a legendary pizza joint’s brilliant finale to luminary rock ’n’ rap antics on New Year’s Eve, this is your last chance to do fun stuff – until next year, anyway. And then we can start all over again. Feel free to check back often.

1. Fun House Pizza

Senior Airman Carlin Leslie / U.S. Air Force

History may not actually repeat, but it absolutely echoes.

Catch some worthwhile reverberations this weekend at happenings focused on five millennia of Chinese history, the Russian source of a 19th century ballet classic, a 1970s punk rock icon, the past importance of playing marbles, the splendid tradition of being an entertaining married couple and, perhaps most important of all, our historical victory-seeking Kansas City Chiefs.

Be part of history – or at least the nifty ripples!

 

Kevin Stanchfield / Flickr — CC

Not to turn the weekend into a self-improvement test, but its eventual success has more than a little to do with you.

So here are some quality components to consider for your aspirational free-time action plan: Exposure to an ancient Chinese leader’s “forever” suit, dog owners determined to exercise everyone’s smiling muscles, plucky troubadours who don’t take no for an answer, celebrity fetishized satire of the highest order and fiercely executed championship volleyball.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Squinting? This weekend’s brilliant entertainment possibilities are arguably blinding.

There’s a vivid touring production of one of the most popular Broadway musicals in history, two differently dazzling takes on a Christmastime dance classic, gifted singer/songwriters with names as glittery as their talents and a family friendly rock band consisting of guys with exceptional gleams in their eyes.

courtesy photo / The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

Let me just say it: Nothing lasts forever.

And yet…the human heart yearns for permanence, an assurance from somewhere that somehow our hopeful expectations that the things that matter most to us just might endure.

Leave it the ironically fleeting weekend to potentially deliver on that longstanding front, from holiday traditions and dreams of worldwide freedom to an unforgettable tale of miraculously durable love and purpose. Will it stick with you? Cross your fingers.

 

Cory Weaver / Kansas City Repertory Theatre

After family and friends and turkey and football and a nap and more football, there’s still more stuff to be thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend.

Namely, the wonderful world of local live entertainment, including music, theater and good causes to support. All while wondering if the drumstick you hid in the refrigerator vegetable bin will be there when you get back.

And, of course, there'll be even more football. Always more football!

1. Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills

Richard Masoner / Flickr — CC

Whether you’re a real go-getter or more the sedentary type, moving options this weekend include activities related to basketball, bicycles and trains. Whew, I’m bushed already.

Or you can sit relatively tight and still be moved by strapping aerialists or stirring musicians who, in their own amazing ways, know how to lift you out of yourself. Don’t worry, its only temporary.

Can you get it all done before Monday? Maybe. Have you had your Wheaties? It couldn’t hurt!

comitstarmoon / Flickr — CC

Sometimes you have to snicker. Or giggle. Or titter.

While the why and the when are ultimately up to you, this weekend delivers comic excuses to chortle, cackle or just let out a good old-fashioned horselaugh. You know, like your Uncle Larry has. You don’t have an Uncle Larry? That’s funny. See, we’ve already started!

A reminder: Not all comic things are purely comic, right? Undercurrents of greater meaning can exist in the same space as amusement. Just ask Uncle Larry. What a guy.

South African Tourism / Flickr — CC

How can you keep it in?

Don’t even try this weekend, with so many activities to tempt your expressive side, from the pure nostalgia of “Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees” (one of them, anyway) to the opportunity to literally skate away from your troubles.

So how can you not let it out? There you go.

1. ‘50 Summers of Love’

Pinar Temiz / Flickr — CC

With Halloween just around the door-creaking corner, plenty of purposely peculiar events will be going on this weekend. There will also be some things that just happen to be a little weird.

Into gore and zombies? Bizarre glitz? What about an uncanny glissando?

And you thought you knew weird!

1. ‘Chainsaw, the Musical’

Amy Leiton / Wikimedia Commons

Icons drive the mind – or at least the one in this skull trying to coax serviceable images out of a computer keyboard for your weekend preview pleasure.

Here’s some of what’s taking shape: Crazy female hairdos swaying to the beat of nostalgic new-wave rock, a socially-conscious pop empress shaking and baking while carrying on a family tradition and the return of Mr. October – no, not Reggie Jackson, but our fall friend, the jack-o-lantern … although picturing the venerable home-run hero taking a mighty swing with a pumpkin for a pate holds an odd appeal.

National Screen Service

Wherefore art thou, drama?

From timeless Shakespeare on formal stages to fleeting but affecting tunes on residential front porches, opportunities to dramatically connect with your fellow human beings abound this weekend.

Need a nudge? Consider this your script!

Scottgunn / Flickr — CC

A sober mind is a healthy mind.

Yet there’s something about even a faintly altered state that’s potentially appealing in one way or another to practically everybody. Even children run in circles just to get dizzy – as if life isn’t enough of a merry-go-round!

Where does that leave us this weekend? Hopefully, not on the floor wondering what happened. So make a plan with these totally socially acceptable and (mostly) toxin-free ways to feed your head. Would I lead you astray? That's OK, you don't have to answer.

Virginia State Parks / Flickr--CC

The familiar leanings of the fall season can take many forms, from pumpkin picking and chili cooking to spooks and scarecrows – and perhaps even a bit of pining for summer. It's been known to happen!

So, like a pile of leaves swirling in the wind, here's a flurry of things to do that could quite possibly make this the very best autumn ever.

Ramsey Mohsen / Flickr--CC

The “West” — once wild, now long-tamed — continues to symbolize both the benefits and the risks associated with aiming to achieve the greatest amount of personal freedom. 

Even if we can’t go back to a home on the range offering seemingly endless vistas and possibilities, we can still “go west” this weekend, whether witnessing gutsy cowpokes astride bucking broncos, learning cool stuff about the traditional cowboy life or allegorically exposing ourselves to the extraordinary individualism spurred by the notion of a wide-open frontier.

Tim Samoff / Flickr — CC

What is art?

There’s always the textbook definition: The manifestation or presentation of creative talent and imagination.

But here’s another, looser, far more time-sensitive answer: This weekend. Because art may be where you find it, but it never hurts to set a deadline.

Courtesy Full Moon Productions

There are so many reasons to waver. But, dare I say, none this weekend?

I dare! And so can you, with such unflinching things to do as steadfastly enduring a haunted house or two (or three), resolutely rooting in the stands for our Kansas City Chiefs in their 2017 season home-opener and tenaciously traversing the disturbing twists and turns of a classic Greek tragedy.

So are you up for it? Hello? OK, that’s two in the arm for flinching. Now you’re ready!

1. West Bottoms Haunted Houses

James Abbott / Flickr — CC

Whether you’re figuratively the straw or the drink, stirring situations beckon this weekend.

Dance outdoors! Sketch a street art masterpiece! Hobnob with the world’s first superhero!  

Oh, there’s more. But whether to stir or be stirred? I say go for both!

1. Dance in the Park

Russ Matthews / Flickr — CC

Do you believe? Of course, you do. In exactly what is up to you.

Weekend opportunities to express your inner sincerity – or behold others doing so with gusto – include entertainments revolving around hot-rod culture, Irish heritage and the American pioneer spirit.

William P. Gottlieb / Library of Congress

It’s time for the weekend, which means attendant smiles can’t be far behind.

Ways to get happy include a cheerful mix of music, comedy and sports designed to stir pleasant memories, tickle fancies and raise any flagging spirits.

Grin and wear it!

1. Lionel Richie with Mariah Carey

Courtesy Jim Wilson

Out with the same game this weekend.

Among varied delights, sample an international array of food flavors, get into idiosyncratic country music, bow to the full force of female-fueled classic rock or simply take part in a rare public expression of gourd gratitude – yes, it’s a thing.

Whatever you choose, may the miscellaneous be with you!

1. Ethnic Enrichment Festival

Sven-Sebastian Sajak / Wikimedia Commons

Recognition. Many seek it, some achieve it.

A popular path to being obviously appreciated is the award route – and this weekend’s entertainment lineup delivers plenty of champs.

It’s also a chance to perhaps reflect on your own accomplishments. Although you might want to leave that bowling trophy at home where it belongs. We believe you!

1. Green Day

Pixabay

Whether you choose to refute it or thrive in it, the world is indeed a strange place.

Even relatively common leisure-time activities can’t evade the peculiar wonder of it all, as with this weekend’s oddly tinged excursions into comedy, theatrics, music and more.

If only for the next few days, wherever it may lead, just go with the strange flow. Anyway, you can deny it all later. Well, except for that. Nice try, though.

Pat Loika / Wikimedia Commons

Summer is by nature a festive time. School is out for the kids and adults are never too far away from at least the thought of relaxing their grip on responsibility.

The season’s happy lure is strong this weekend, with such attractions as a two-day country music and camping festival, a pair of county fairs, a glow-in-the-dark waterslide experience for the ages and a Harry Potter-inspired wizard contest.

If I had a magic wand? Poof! Endless summer festivities. So much for my grip on responsibility.

Kirby Collins / Flickr — CC

Feelin’ a little sassy?

Let the weekend take you to your effervescent place by way of the area’s biggest annual picnic, a pair of well-matched comedic titans guaranteed to leave you in stitches and ample doses of dance-happy rock and kick-butt country. And that’s even before considering this year’s crop of more than 90 feisty Fringe Festival shows, including the onstage sharing of “bathroom horror” stories.

Too much? Oh, stop pretending and sassify yourself!

1. Kansas City’s Big Picnic

Pat Paulsen

Everyone should recycle as much as they can.

That goes double this weekend, with recycled but still raring to go entertainments and events that include reimagined musicals, repackaged Top-40 hits and repurposed finds for the out-of-control vintage collector (a.k.a. packrat).

Why throw something away when it can be used over again? Especially when it’s a lot more exciting than separating paper, plastic, metal and glass.

1. ‘An American in Paris’

Smugmug / Wikimedia Commons

The working week has its own rewards, like, um, well … let me get back to you on that. For now, prepare to enter the weekend zone, where most folks can be gratified as they so desire.

And the next few days are a doozy in that department, with people-pleasing events that include one of the world’s greatest bands reborn, one of the greatest bands that never quite was, the youth-fueled glories of summer camp and the playful entertainments of half-naked (at least) ladies.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Whatever hue you may be, being colorful is a whole other thing.

Offering colorful guidance this weekend are activities promoting the exciting, the interesting and the unusual, from sparkling Fourth of July fireworks to the attitude-drenched stage debut of a famously animated cat.

What if you don’t need assistance being colorful? Lucky you. Get out there and lead by example!

1. Booms & Blooms

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