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."

South Dakota / Flickr-CC -- image cropped

As a famous song says, “Things will be great when you’re downtown.” And even more so this Memorial Day weekend.

Suffice it to say that downtown Kansas City will be a hub for music, art, sports and the biggest holiday party of its sort in the Midwest.

As the song says, “You’re gonna be alright now.” Just alright? Oh, I think we can do better than that.

1. Celebration at the Station

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Go outside and play.

Those are your weekend marching orders, whether you actually march (which would be impressive), meander or just look for a mellow place to plop down and ponder your alfresco options.

Choices for exterior fun encompass open-air art contests, bicycling events, canine carryings-on, craft beer drinking and assorted live music possibilities, along with the intrinsic value of freely mingling with your fellow humans – marching or otherwise – rain or shine.

1. Sunset in the Park & Plein Air Fest

Wikimedia -- CC

Did you know that every day is Mother’s Day? If you’re fortunate enough to have your mother in your life, just ask her. She’ll tell you.

Even so, extra-special attention is formally awarded to Mom once a year. When that happens this weekend, grateful progeny will honor the woman who brought them into this world and did her best to set them on the right path. Cards, flowers and brunches will ensue.

What else might you do with Mom to show your appreciation? Naturally, I have suggestions. Or just ask her. She’ll tell you. That’s Mom.

Ryan Hyde / Flickr--CC

First things first: Are you ready for the weekend? OK, that’s a silly question. But how might you get the most out of it?

Fortunately, several singular pleasures can help make the first weekend in May a memorable one – whether you’re a fine-art lover or a comic-book fan, a follower of the “Piano Man” or an admirer of the animal kingdom. And if you like merrymaking powered by Mexican-American entertainment and food? Then you’re in luck, my friend.

Be among the first to take part.

1. First Friday in the Crossroads

unknown / Wikimedia -- CC

Get ready to witness big change this weekend.

The transforming power of music-idol memories, all-natural body builders, souped-up collector cars and even moonlighting movie stars are among your options to shake up the norm.

Might you be forever altered by the experience? Wow, that got heavy in a hurry. See how quickly things can change?

1. Neil Diamond

Worm That Turned / Wikimedia -- CC

What makes a classic? Well, that depends on your opinion. One person’s gratifying archetype can be another’s utter dud, and impassioned arguments may ensue.

Even without classic consensus, most of us tend to seek quintessential quality in the things that interest us; the quest for which can be appreciated in a variety of events around the area that clearly aspire to be memorable. Succeed or fail, let the classic chips fall where they may.

Isn’t it great when we work together? Have yourself a classic weekend.

Frank Thompson photos / Flickr-CC

Spring has more than sprung – it’s sprouting with opportunities to get out and about this weekend.

From alfresco amusements to lively music and theater events, there’s stuff to put a spring in your step all around the town before the work week comes back around.

Dare I say, spring into action? I dare.

1. Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

Paul Mesner Puppets

Ever want to be a kid again? Join the club.

But even though the Fountain of Youth has yet to be found, adults wishing to revisit their salad days – as well as kids just wanting to be kids – can find and share in engaging events that speak to the ephemeral sense of wonder embodied by youth.

So go ahead and be a kid, if only for the weekend. Don’t dilly-dally. It’s not like you’re getting any younger!

1. Peter and the Starcatcher

The Conmunity / Flickr-CC

Maybe it’s just in anticipation of the seasonal bunny that will soon be bringing hard-boiled gifts, but I’ve got eggs on the brain.

As will those taking part in all sorts of egg hunts this weekend, along with other entertainment and activities appealing to eggheads, good eggs and even folks who have a thing for free-range eggs.

However you go about it, eggs-press yourself!

GisleHaa / Wikimedia Commons

Want to have a rootsy weekend? It might take some digging. Don’t worry — no tools are required, only the desire to drill down into your pleasure zone.

If you’re into rock music, why not experience a new take on the world’s first hippie rock musical? Is rhythm and blues your deal? Then one of its vital purveyors could be at your disposal. Or maybe you enjoy the sheer spectacle of expert female impersonation. There’s a way to make that happen, too.

Kevin Dooley / Flickr--CC

  What does it take to be considered truly super? True believers.

Without fantastic fans, how would talented singers get their chartbusters? Rising comedians their hit shows? World-saving superheroes their blockbuster movies?

It’s no superlative to suggest that this weekend should please devotees of many different pop-culture persuasions, including fans of increasingly pervasive comic book culture, classic rock, stand-up comedy and the most awesome figure of them all – which, surprisingly, doesn’t belong to Wonder Woman. But I wouldn’t tell her that.

Tony Alter / Flickr-CC

Eschew the same ole same ole this weekend by embracing an alternative. You can begin by saying “eschew” with me. Ooh, that was different.

Try something novel, such as exploring the fascinating artistic world of tattoo culture, viewing female Hamlets in existential action or appreciating this month’s full moon in a whole new way.

You don’t have to reinvent your leisure-time wheel. Just steer it in a new direction. The unusually rewarding is right around the corner.

Courtesy / Evening with the 'Rents

There are lots of kinds of laughs – warm laughs, hysterical laughs, astonished laughs, cute laughs and sometimes even naughty laughs. And that’s just for starters.

You’re sure to find one or another that will suit you this weekend, whether that means busting a gut or merely having a good giggle. You can do it purely for a lark or maybe for a worthy cause that helps others.

Ah, so many laughs to be had, yet so little time. Better get going. It’ll be Monday before you know it.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

Wyandotte County, Kan., claims the Kansas Speedway, Sporting Kansas City major league soccer and the Kansas City Renaissance Festival among its popular attractions.

While those seasonal experiences won’t be available until later in the year, the county offers other significant pleasures that can be thoroughly enjoyed this weekend – from delicious ethnic food and indoor water fun to fascinating historic sites and eye-opening prospects for nature enthusiasts.

Not been to the "Dotte" recently? Explore the possibilities. Your free time will thank you.

Cupid's Undie Run KC

Woe to those who underestimate the power of Valentine’s Day.

You think all you need is love? You think love means never having to say you’re sorry? Well, you’ll need a quality apology for that special someone if you try avoiding Cupid on the calendar.

At the risk of over-functioning in this space: Be sure to give candy or flowers or whatever else says “I care” to your sweetie. Then do something unforgettable together, like taking in a romantic concert or running in the street in your underwear. Yes, love is strange. Go with it.

The DLC / Flickr-CC

Think of Johnson County as a flower – which, of course, many folks already do.

Better yet, make it a field of flowers, whose nectar is available to all – which it is, of course, no matter where you may live in the Kansas City area.

Wherever your head hits the pillow at the end of the day, get out this weekend and make your own Johnson County bouquet of fun. Which go-and-do activities to pick? Glad you asked.

1. Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

Confession time: I used to think that “free” was a four-letter word. F-R-E-E. Oh, wait, it is.

Let me start over: I used to believe that anything free couldn’t be worth that much. This is America, right? You pay for what you get. If you wanted to “See The U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet,” it was going to cost you and be worth every gas-guzzling penny.

Bekah Cope / Flickr--CC

It takes guts to get through this life. And this weekend? Well, perhaps that, too.

From gutsy theater and sports to daring feats of musical fortitude, the next few days will deliver ample opportunities for others to show what they’re made of.

Yes, others. I’ll bet you thought I was going to put you on the spot. No way. That would have taken guts. And, besides, I know which side my bread is buttered on. Read on!

1. Missouri Mavericks Hockey

Library of Congress: Historic American Buildings Survey / Wikimedia-CC

Do you want to talk about big? Do you want to talk about colossal, gigantic, massive and enormous? Do you … oh, you’d rather I do the talking?

Well, that’s big of you.

In that case, allow me to share some big things going on this weekend. Some are unmistakably great on their face. Some possess an inner immensity.

One way or another, let’s get large, shall we?

1. Harlem Globetrotters

Trailnet / Flickr-CC

Brrr! Can you dig it?

Either way, there’s wintry stuff to do this weekend, whether laughing in the face of freezing is your thing or doing whatever you possibly can to escape the chill is more your style.

One thing’s for sure: It’s nippy. And it’s important to keep moving. Here’s a mitten-full of ideas to embrace or deny the cold reality.

1. Winter Storm – The Pipes and Drums Concert

Scrapper / Flickr--CC

At the end of every year, we all say it: Things will be better next year.

Even if you had a super 2014 – and I hope you did – there’s something in human nature that encourages us to look ahead with bright eyes. And, wouldn’t you know it, there’s some pretty wonderful stuff coming up that could help make 2015 a year to remember in the shiniest of ways.

Franklin B Thompson / Flickr--CC

Blink and they’re gone. I’m not talking about your salad days – although, sure, those, too. I’m talking about the holidays.

For all the monumental buildup to the season, you better watch out or you’ll be looking back and crying – or at least pouting – at stuff you might have done when the halls were decked and bells were jingling and Santa Clause was still coming to town.

So be sure to share the spirit by getting out and grabbing some before next year. If that sounds a little nutty, well, it is the holidays. Here are some ideas. I’ll try to be quick about it.

Courtesy / Theater League

What comprises a revue? Technically, it’s a show consisting of music, dancing and/or skits, often with a lively or sometimes lampooning tone.

More loosely — and we like to keep it loose around here — it’s any entertainment that evokes the essence of a variety show, where a succession of engaging bits makes up the whole.

If you remember The Ed Sullivan Show, then you’re with me. If you don’t, something tells me you’re still with me because you’re curious to see what revue-centric amusements the weekend has in store. Still there? I knew it!

Wikimedia -- CC

To tread or not to tread the boards is rarely the question for devoted stage performers.

The more urgent query for such folks is, “When do I get to hit the stage?” And this weekend offers a potpourri of opportunities.

Artists will press their existential envelopes in theater, music and comedy when they tackle plays, concerts and perhaps the most daring thing of all: Standing alone onstage while trying to make people laugh.

Thank goodness for the live platform of creative tension. Where would our weekend entertainment be without it?

chocolatsombre / Flickr--CC

Out of town guests visiting for the holiday need stuff to do.

As do hometown family and friends who might crack if someone doesn’t eventually put the kibosh on one more game of charades.

The solution: Show off what’s happening in the city that may not be as familiar to others as it is to you. Share iconic local attractions, traditional holiday extravaganzas and maybe even something completely different – would you believe Santa goes diving with penguins?

1. 85th Annual Plaza Lighting Ceremony

Nick Harris / Flickr--CC

The big holidays are almost here. But there’s still time to do something that’s little before having a momentous bite of turkey or ceremonial cup of cheer.

This weekend may be your last chance to enjoy a tinier activity compared to family gatherings and parties that can be consuming and more than a tad crazy – “OK, Uncle Phil, it’s time to take off the lampshade now.”

So before it all gets larger and nuttier – “Now means now, Uncle Phil!” – do something smaller. From insects and puppets to marbles and more, take a walk on the little side.

Larry Darling / Flickr--CC

From bluegrass and honky-tonk to stuff that can seem a lot like pure pop, country music is a relative thing.

And, shucks, if it don’t just keep on a changin’ with the times. (How do you like my drawl? Trust me, it’s swell.)

Anyhow, the malleable music and adaptable culture of the country experience is available to all around the metro this weekend – 10 gallon hat optional. Well, unless you already own one, and then you have to wear it. Them’s the rules.

1. Hunter Hayes

pocolover1957 / Flickr--CC

Shocking as it may seem, everyone can’t be famous.

No matter how many technologically driven opportunities are being created to enlarge one’s legend on this channel or that screen, true fame lasts longer than whatever fleeting bit of time the modern news cycle allows for instant renown.

But have no fear, fame junkies. Even if most of us are doomed to be left at the fame altar, the persistent distinction of other people, places and things can be accessed and even reveled in this weekend in Kansas City. Prepare to share the spotlight!

Greg Boege / Flickr-CC

“All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” wrote William Shakespeare, suggesting that life may be a theatrical work in progress.

Whether humanity comprises the cast of a cosmic play – heavy stuff – this weekend does offer genuine opportunities to embrace the drama, both onstage and off.

But wait: If the entire planet is really a proscenium arch, how can anyone ever be truly offstage? Oh, Shakespeare, you rascal!

1. Union Station’s Open House Celebration

Chris Murphy / Flickr--CC

What’s scarier than Halloween?

Actually, the macabre cluster of events taking place the weekend before All Hallows’ Eve might put more hair on your chest – which is great, especially if you’re the ghost of Lon Chaney, Jr. (And if you are the ghost of Lon Chaney Jr., please keep it to yourself, because that’s too scary.)

The spooky bottom line: Why put all of your Halloween frights into Oct. 31, when you can frontload a quality howl at the moon this weekend? Sound good? Hey, just going my job. You don’t have to fang me for it.

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