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."

goaliej54 / Flickr - CC

Emotions can simmer, skyrocket or be seemingly scarce, but they’re always there.

This weekend you can investigate your feelings or maybe hitch a ride on those of others (holy empathy!) by way of stuff that aims to evoke love, fear, joy and who really knows what else, because emotions can take us to some unpredictable places.

Can you handle it? For that matter, can I? Now look who’s getting emotional!


​1. Grouplove

Jordan Green / Flickr - CC

It can be intriguing when performers may not show everything they have, yet still impress. 

Well, that will have to wait! Because no lights will be hidden under any bushels this weekend, with a diversity of shows divulging a harvest of talents and captivations – from oh-so-sultry singing to over-the-top stage gore.

Do you see? Oh, you will.

​1. MattyB

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The best is yet to come, right?

If you have to think before answering in the affirmative, you may need a boost from one or more of the following events offering potentially positive attitude adjustments, from friendly porch concerts and comedy shows to uplifting expressions of gymnastic splendor.

If I could promise that afterward you’ll see the world in a whole new way, I would. Oh, why not: You’ll see the world in a whole new way. Gosh, that was easier than I thought. We might be onto something here.

scottgunn / Flickr - CC

You don’t have to spend any money to have a good time. OK, maybe a few bucks, because it’s a jungle out there and even the squirrels might want to charge you breadcrumbs to chase them. And they say the recession is over.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, patting the old wallet, which you can keep fatter than you might think while investigating free or frugal stuff this weekend, including yummy apples, cool comic books or an afternoon of family friendly team competitions for a good cause.

Missouri Division of Tourism / Flickr - CC

What to gaze upon this weekend?

There’s plenty to see, including rodeo performers and commemorative warbirds in daring action, scads of visual art around the Country Club Plaza and a singularly crazy sock puppet that successfully blows up the norm – funny how it only takes one.

So set your peepers on “watch” and revel in the readily observable. If it gets to be too much, I guess you can close an eye. But not both. C’mon, let’s get with the program.

1. American Royal Pro Rodeo

Patrick Emerson / Flickr--CC

We can’t all be triumphant at once – unless we share our victories.

That’s the ticket this weekend, when winning talents and other successful allures invite each and every one of us to beat back defeat and exult in glorious achievement.

How’s that for a triumphant attitude? Feel free to pass it on!

1. Cyndi Lauper

Jeremy Bernfield / KCUR 89.3

Try stopping a sneeze. You can’t.

So it goes with similarly inevitable stuff happening this weekend, including the Chiefs’ 2016 season-opener, area visual artists making their annual pilgrimage to Westport and the never-ending return of Frank, Dean and Sammy.  

Don’t sneeze or you might miss out. Oh, that’s right, you can’t help but … ah-choo!

1. Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers

Ed Webster / Flickr - CC

Without imagination there would be no Picasso, no pyramids, no pantaloons – don’t ask me where I came up with that last example. Oh, that’s right, my imagination.

In any case, folks with enough faith in their minds’ eyes look to have the most fun this Labor Day holiday weekend, with offerings that include professional (as in pretend) wrestling, the ethereal promise of the spirit world and the area’s annual trip back to the 16th-century.

Don’t forget to wear your pantaloons!

1. Pops in the Park

Pixabay / CC

Much in this life is about getting it and keeping it together.

Well, I’m no anarchist – contrary to what a biased babysitter or two may have reported back in the day. But it’s clear to me that if you don’t let it go every once in a while, you might blow. And who wants to spend the weekend cleaning up that mess?

Thank goodness for timely opportunities to be at least a little carefree. You know, just a smidge. Aw, c’mon, the babysitter’s not even looking.

1. Rhythm ’N Balloons Festival

Steven Depolo / Flickr--CC

This weekend is your chance to get into historic people, places and things – and perhaps even be part of history in the making.

Options include honoring the greatest saxophonist in the history of jazz; eyeing the precious personal effects of Major League Baseball legends and adulating the latest batch of teenybopper heartthrobs vying to be the biggest…band…ever.

How about you? Will you make the history books? First you’ve got to show up!

Jacob Meyer / KCBMC

By the time the weekend arrives, a little comic relief is welcome. So how about more than a little?

You can begin with a comic book party, a comic beard contest and that funny little comic who made “makin’ copies” a catch phrase on “Saturday Night Live.”

I know, it’s never enough. How tragicomic.

1. Kansas City Comic Con

Walter / Flickr - CC

Choices for being adventurous this weekend include beholding cosmic swashbuckling, singing along with pop idols in their spicy prime and getting totally soaked on a colossal downtown slip-and-slide.

Your mission: Don’t pick just one. Because where’s the adventure in that?

1. ‘Star Wars’ Marathon

Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr - CC

Want to get real?

I hope not, because this weekend’s shaping up to be a surreal treat, with music, comedy and festival action promising to be out of the ordinary, fantastic and even dreamlike.

So … want to lose touch with reality? I knew you could do it all along.

1. Dolly Parton

Jelena Ivanovic / Wikimedia Commons

Being pleasing is the point of the pop world, where things that strike people’s fancies rise and fall and perhaps rise again with what might be described as consistent unpredictability.

Bands or shows or concepts given permission by the masses to be truly pop are only there to be enjoyed for the time that they have in the sun.

Wait, are those clouds forming? Better get popping.

1. Duran Duran

Kansas City, Missouri Parks and Recreation

When something touches people, are you one of those people that that something touches? Would you like to be?

Whether you’re all heart or an emotional fortress of solitude, we all need time to be tender. How much you want – or can handle before falling to pieces – is another matter.

So allow me to point you in the right direction. Tenderly.

1. ‘Disney’s Beauty and the Beast’

Kris Krug / Wikimedia Commons

Can I give it to you straight? Probably not. Even if I could, would you take it that way?

Increasingly little these days appears to be totally safe from a potentially ironic interpretation – the sense that the opposite may be true of whatever professed message is being sent, often with humorous results.

Of course, there’s both intentional and unintentional irony, which sometimes can be tricky to differentiate. So I won’t try here. Unless I just did. But I probably didn’t!

MoDot / Flickr-CC

It’s that weekend for doing fireworks, waving the American flag and, by all means, having a slice of all-American apple pie.

But you can also sublimely groove to a top-of-the-charts pop princess or be nostalgically serenaded by a famous southern Missouri rock band from the 1970s. However you opt to have fun this Fourth of July weekend, remember, it’s your right to decide.

It’s said that genius is 99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration. Actually, Thomas Edison said that, but doesn’t Mr. Light Bulb already get enough credit?

Regardless, given the continuing high summer temperatures, there may be more than a few geniuses in the making out there.

With plenty of perspiration available, where might one find the elusive inspiration to reach one’s lofty potential? Read on, my fellow near-geniuses – we’re so close!

Courtesy Heart of America Shakespeare Festival

Do big things ever really come in small packages?

Good luck finding out this weekend, when the true enormity of things won’t be concealed – whether that means abundant celebrity power, beer-food-and-music ecstasy or unmitigated artistic genius.

So go ahead and go big. What choice do you have? (Waiting until next weekend doesn’t count.)

1. Big Slick Celebrity Softball Game

Jon Lin Photography / Flickr-CC

Competition can be more stressful for some folks than others. A vital difference is whether you’re actually competing or merely observing.

Whichever role you choose to occupy – the doer or the rooter – competitive spirits are set to ascend with a variety of activities inevitably propelled by a certain sense of struggle.

Sometimes you’ve got to sweat it to get it. Yes, even on the weekend.

1. Kansas City Scottish Highland Games & Celtic Festival

Jason Wickersheim / Two West Inc.

If you consider three a crowd, you might want to catch up on your Netflix queue this weekend.

But if you’re ready to sample a bumper crop of community festivals and other organized excuses to party, then it’s time to join the waiting throngs.

What are they waiting for? Well, if you’re watching “Orange is the New Black” or “House of Cards,” we’ll miss you. But not that much!

1. Old Shawnee Days

To celebrate or not to celebrate is not the question this weekend. Only how.

Answers include a Memorial Day weekend party hosted by the Kansas City Symphony, a sprawling American roots music jamboree and a sentimental arena rock concert that might have fans “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” anyone who’s handy – which is always one way to make a new friend.

Let the celebrations begin!  

1. Celebration at the Station

Barbara Haze

When Stan Lee appears at this weekend’s Planet Comicon, fans will pay hundreds of dollars each to enter an exclusive area to get an autograph from and have their picture taken with the Marvel Comics legend.

Meanwhile, Neal Haze will be roaming the crowded floor of Kansas City’s largest annual comic book and pop culture convention. It’s where he’ll be garnering curious double takes and spontaneous snapshot requests from those who recognize his unmistakable resemblance to the 93-year-old creator or co-creator of such iconic superheroes as Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Avengers.

Barbara Haze

When things don’t necessarily go together, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t put them together.

Like a weekend mix tape. What do all those songs have in common? Maybe nothing, except they’re all on the same weekend mix tape.

See how this works? With or without a pre-selected soundtrack this weekend, try mixing up a combo of asymmetrical activities, a potpourri of divergent diversions – you know, a bunch of stuff. It’s your weekend. You should do what you want.

1. Planet Comicon

ceedub13 / Wikimedia Commons

As the post-World War II Baby Boom generation inexorably relaxes its grip on the workplace, many who once rocked the night away still want to hold onto all of the youthful diversions they can. Translation: It’s hard to let go of the fun stuff.

Even if it doesn’t make wrinkles disappear, a virtual industry exists to appease the entertainment desires of those whose cherished memories of yesteryear might still be able to put a spring in their step. Translation: Fountain of Youth for sale.

karendesuyo / Flickr-CC

An irony of the Internet Age is that it can seem tougher than ever to get at the whole truth. Everyone seems to have their version and the ability to share it with the world in a nanosecond.

brandi sims / Wikipedia -- CC

They say everything old is new again. Who’re they? Why, old people, of course.

But it’s true: Hang around long enough and your old tricks – or traditions, if you prefer – can strike younger generations as fresh.

Whatever your age, make it an old-school weekend with entertainment including rock and funk music grandmasters, a local dance company celebrating three decades of artistry and a day of fun-filled cowboy history and music for the whole family.

Aleksi Ollila / Wikimedia Commons

Keeping it real has its limitations.

Pretend your way out of them this weekend by encountering the ardent make-believe of ambitious air guitarists, the living legacy of a legendary animator and the unquenchable pursuit of assorted paraphernalia associated with the most famous fizzy water in the world.

Need more? Wow, you do need a break. Ready… set …pretend!

1. U.S. Air Guitar Contest

steve9567 / Flickr -- CC

Feeling a little funny in the head?

You might as well go with it this weekend, with help from brain-frying guitar players, crazy thrill rides and more.

Keep in mind, you could get carried away and totally lose your mind with all the insane fun out there. But something tells me you can handle it – yeah, that funny little voice in my head. Good luck!

1. Generation Axe: A Night with Guitars

Takahiro Kyono / Flickr-CC

Sometimes you’ve got to take a stand.

This weekend may or may not be one of those times – really, how should I know? But, perhaps, you can be prepared to take charge with the following bold suggestions for decisive weekend action.

Did I say perhaps? To be honest, a little wiggle room never hurts. Even when you’re not messing around!

1. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: ‘The River Tour’