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.
When will the pressure to do the right thing by your weekend end? Typically, Monday. But, like everything else, wishing won’t make it happen!
Well, at least he tried. That would be the Chinese monarch who 2,000 years ago was buried in an unparalleled jade-and-gold ensemble apparently designed to keep him perpetually protected (and gorgeous) in the afterlife. Excavated from the tombs of the Kings of Chu, the aesthetically amazing outfit is the centerpiece of “Dreams of the Kings: A Jade Suit for Eternity,” the new exhibit opening this weekend at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Other marvelously crafted items on display will include a suit of iron armor and a stunning gold belt buckle. Quite the ceaselessly ambitious fashion plates, those Kings of Chu.
Aspirational extra: Admission to this exhibit includes a ticket to see the museum’s “Through the Eyes of Picasso” exhibit through April 8. As if you could wait that long.
Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 4525 Oak St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $18, seniors $16, students $10, ages 12 and younger free.
When is ugly beautiful? When it’s a horrible holiday sweater on a doggie. At least, that’s the hoped for outcome at this aspirational inter-species event, which, if nothing else, will be a great excuse for proud pooch owners to mingle with their delightfully clueless canines in supposedly style-conscious tow. Oh, you think these pets know they’re wearing dumb pullovers for the enjoyment of doting humans? They don’t even know what day it is. Nor do they have to, because they’re so … darn … cute. The bowwow celebration includes photo opportunities with “Santa Paws” and the chance to donate to Wayside Waifs simply by purchasing an admission ticket.
Saturday, 2-4 p.m.; Westlake Ace Hardware, 1000 Westport Road, Kansas City, Mo.; admission: $15 (tickets must be purchased in advance online).
St. Louis is his headquarters, but Pokey LaFarge sends his musical messages about current events, relationships and steadfast personal identity out to the world at large on his latest album of Americana-friendly warbling, “Manic Revelations.” It might seem strange to suggest that the album’s old-timey-feeling closing ballad, “I Will Never Change,” is fundamentally aspirational. I mean, if you don’t change, what can you accomplish? But LaFarge’s clear ambition is to assure his sweetheart that he can be counted on. He doesn’t care if she has any money or what the future may hold. He’s into her, not what she can do for him. “It could all be over tomorrow, babe,” he sings, “but I will never change.” Keep it coming, Pokey.
Saturday, 9 p.m.; Knuckleheads Saloon, 2415 Rochester St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $20.
This critically hailed New Jersey-cum-Nashville songstress has pipes that can pleasingly approximate the romantic crescendos of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Roy Orbison. She’s also a recovering alcoholic who wants to stay sober on her new album, “Goodnight Rhonda Lee.” As Atkins shares in her official bio: “Rhonda Lee was kind of my alias for bad behavior, and it was time to put that person to bed.” The title track cleverly, almost anonymously, lays that aspiration between the lines, but Atkins’ process turns outright confessional in such moving songs as “A Night of Serious Drinking,” “Brokedown Luck,” “A Dream Without Pain” and the grandly Orbison-esque “A Little Crazy.” This is one case where a little is more than enough.
Sunday, 8 p.m.; Riot Room, 4048 Broadway, 4048 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $14.
Leave it to the subversively aspirational gang at Kansas City’s Late Night Theatre to present a celebrity obsessed holiday satire starring the debilitated 1960s persona of the one and only Judy Garland. What might come off as merely sick and wrong in other artistic hands comes off as fantastically sick and wrong in Late Night hands. Bravo! The plot, as if that really matters, involves the teen-age president of the Judy Garland Fan Club kidnapping the drug-addled legend and getting her to host a live-TV Christmas special to save a public-access TV station from going under. Of course, the bigger challenge might be keeping Judy from going under. Double bravo!
Friday (sold out) and Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 6 p.m.; Missie B’s, 805 W. 39th St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $15, $20.
Teams don’t reach the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship weekend by waiting to see what will happen next. They make it happen. On Thursday, it’s Nebraska vs. Penn State followed by Stanford vs. Florida, with the winning teams vying for ultimate victory on Saturday. If you aspire to attend these sold-out contests, and don’t yet have tickets, you’ll have to hit up the secondary ticket market, where many prices are still reasonable. You can do it!
Thursday, 6 and 8 p.m.; Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: Sold out at Sprint Center box office – check with private ticket brokers.
Brian McTavish is a regular arts and culture contributor for KCUR 89.3. You can reach him at email@example.com.