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."

Andrew Birgensmith / Kansas City Symphony

Music does so much. But, perhaps most importantly, it accommodates.

Take this weekend’s cooperative passel of concerts encompassing multi-day celebrations of world-class jazz and roots music, the first gig of an English rock icon’s new international tour, cutting-edge DJs creating throbbing dreamscapes for the dance crowd and Kansas City’s own musical salute to Memorial Day.

Something for everyone? That’s the idea. Now if you could only be everywhere at once.

1. Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival

Sven Mandel / Wikimedia Commons

Which matters most: The mind or the body? Or to put it another way: Albert Einstein or Marilyn Monroe?

The question (at least the first one) has echoed through the ages. Yet it may be ultimately a false dilemma, since ideally both the physical and the metaphysical are needed to max out human potential. Hey, I didn’t get a C in philosophy for nothing.

video still, courtesy of John McGrath / KCPT, Kansas City Public Television

The Kansas City comic book community is reeling from the tragic loss of Jim Cavanaugh, the larger-than-life owner of legendary Clint’s Comics in Kansas City's Westport neighborhood. Cavanaugh died Friday after being injured in a confrontation with a fleeing comic book thief in the store’s rear parking lot.

“It makes you think about how fragile life is,” said Chris Jackson, a friend of Cavanaugh’s for more than 20 years and the promoter of Planet Comicon, the region’s largest comic book and pop culture convention.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

It’s impossible to be too nice to mom.

But given that Sunday is the official day to recognize all that mothers mean to us, this weekend offers an opportunity to do something exceptionally agreeable with the maternal forces in our lives. Music! Dance! Sports! Author elbow-rubbing! Appreciation of benevolently confined animals – especially the mothers!

LindsayG0430 / Wikimedia Commons

Simply put, legends last.

Demonstrating such qualifying staying power this weekend are entertainments whose appeal has persisted for decades, even centuries – from a veteran country-music king holding court to an ancient Egyptian-inspired soap opera updated for modern audiences.

So in 10, 50 or 100 years, what seemingly momentary allures might still be enjoyed by the masses? There I go again, asking questions that I can’t possibly answer. In the meantime, peruse the following totally legendary supply!

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

You can try to go it alone. But it’s more fun to be interactive.

Experiences worth sharing with your fellow humans this weekend include the area’s biggest comic book and pop culture convention, mosh-pit friendship, getting all warm and fuzzy with the Muppets, air guitar players aiming for international glory and a dog stunt show with a cute quotient powerful enough to make audiences roll over.

See what’s possible when we play together? OK, rolling over is optional.

1. Planet Comicon

Snowmangraham / Wikimedia Commons

Maybe you won’t make it to the top. But going over the top this weekend should be no problem.

Overachieving ascending action: The work of brain-searing illustrators redefining the boundaries of fantasy art, Canadian funny men turning depictions of alcohol dependency into believe-it-or-not comedy gold and ambitious performers striving for the farthest reaches of live burlesque, spoken poetry and throwback record-store love so real it just might feel like 1979.  

There’s more, although most likely no shark to jump over. But you never know!

 

WDPG Share / Flickr — CC

There’s sexy and then there’s sexy, but far be it from me to drill down too far in differentiating the complexities of the term.

Instead, simply consider this weekend’s malleably sexy entertainments that somehow or another manage to encompass male strippers, tribute rock and angry stand-up comedy.

Got it? Good. Now, if you could explain it to me, that’d be super sexy.

1. ‘Magic Men Live!’

istolethetv / Flickr — CC

While drudgery may be the first thing brought to mind by the kitchen sink – peel those potatoes! – this weekend feels like everything but the kitchen sink.

Widely assorted picks for your free time include a cinema-inspired pooch party, the imaginative story of an out of control id set to rock ’n’ roll classics and a cavorting quintet of jump-and-jive fellows whose members share a moniker most associated with one of the Three Stooges.

Everything but the kitchen sink? Actually, it might be in there somewhere.

 

Eran Menashri / Flickr — CC

You’re not getting older, you’re getting … older. Sorry, that’s the best I can do.

But wait! Maybe there’s a way this weekend to alleviate the inevitable. Maybe by participating in events that are inherently dynamic – despite the advanced age of their inspirations, practitioners or subject matters – you can somehow fend off the falling pages of the calendar.

So it’s possible that you’re not getting older, you’re getting … well, rats. I really thought I was onto something there.

LearningLark / Wikimedia Commons

Ready to get heavy?

Theatrical and musical choices this weekend invite contact with weighty talents engaged in substantial undertakings. They include a dystopian vision of the future, a look at the dreams and conflicts of an African-American family and a force of rock ’n’ roll so darn debonair it qualifies as daring.

Yes, go on and challenge yourself this weekend. Do it right and you might even have a deep feeling or a stimulating thought. Heavy!

Melissa Rose / Flickr — CC

There are more girls than boys in this world. In the next? For all we know, it might be all girls.

Whether you regard the above as a serious forewarning to misbegotten males trying to get to heaven or simply a silly fantasy, something tells me that gals could take over the planet if they wanted. Have you seen Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”? Don’t tell me you missed that metaphor!

Othree / Flickr — CC

Want to get far-far away this weekend, but can’t? There might be a way.

Get your international travel ticket punched by taking advantage of local go-and-dos that can transport you – well, at least in spirit – to Ireland, Japan and other distant lands by way of music, dancing and even costumed role-playing.

How far can you go? Don’t look at me, I’m following you!

 

1. Snake Saturday Parade and Brookside St. Patrick’s Day Warm-Up Parade

Victoria Morse / Flickr — CC

Most folks manage to find some comfort in the inevitable routine of daily life. Call it a survival skill. Or perhaps a self-imposed prison of the mind?

OK, that’s a little scary. So here’s your chance to break out from the humdrum – if only for the weekend – by experiencing the exotic pull of relatively unusual or even outlandish things to do.

Caution: Don’t get too carried away, unless you don’t want to go back. Now that would be scary.

Eric Sherman / Hairball Online

Think of the weekend as a pizza. Or a taco. Or a bursting bag of potato chips. No, wait, make it an ice cream sundae with extra whipped cream and three cherries on top.

To be honest, I didn’t set out to reveal my diverse junk-food addiction in this space, but there it is. Just as you may not have intended to do something completely different with your weekend, but here we go.

Check out some things to do that are downright dissimilar from each other, even if your adventures are fueled by a run-of-the-mill healthy diet. Me, I’m cruising with a candy bar!

File Photo / Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Giving the people – the folks, the general population, basically everyone – what they want can be challenging. Especially since everyone these days seems to want something different.

Yet the inclusive notion of pleasing the masses may be a little easier this weekend with a folksy lineup of experiences grounded in proven public predilections, from time-tested musical entertainment to the timeless appeal of dinosaurs.

Remember, the common bond of folksiness is where you find it. So start looking!

Matias Galan / Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday is Valentine’s Day, the day that hearts are won with candy, flowers and other expressions of sweet love and enduring devotion.

Consider this weekend the lovely lead-up, when couples can engage in events that mean something special to them – even if one person might get a bit more out of a given activity than the other. Because isn’t sacrifice a part of being someone’s Valentine? It’s not like Cupid’s arrow doesn’t sting for a reason.

One more thing: Don’t forget the card. Then you might be sacrificed!

Lance Cheung / U.S. Air Force / Wikimedia Commons

Jazz musicians have always gotten together to “jam,” but at some point the term also became a synonym for partying or any collective endeavor committed to cutting loose.

It goes at least as far back as the late 1970s, when I attended a couple of Summer Jam stadium rock extravaganzas that promised to blow my mind. They must have worked, because I can hardly remember a thing!

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Do you believe in magic? Great, now I’ll never get that Lovin’ Spoonful song out of my head.

Yet the question is more than apt this weekend, when a mix of magical experiences — including public memories of a magnetic young man shockingly no longer with us — may be able to transform the way we look at the world.

Brace yourself for magic. And maybe tears.

 

1. 2017 Royals FanFest

Kevin Rushforth / Wikimedia Commons

Ready to make a move?

From poetry in motion (championship ice skating) to manic action (professional motocross) to emotions in motion (ah, the theater), this may well be the weekend that was when it comes to getting a move on.

Don’t look back and wonder, “Why, oh, why wasn’t I along for the ride?” Count yourself in and let’s … get … going!

1. 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Tomas Forgac / Wikimedia Commons

May the gridiron gods be with our Kansas City Chiefs as they seek to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers at noon Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, allowing Alex, Travis, Tyreek and the rest to advance to the AFC Championship Game and ultimate victory in the 2017 Super Bowl.

So … what else might there be to do this weekend?

Food! Music! Comedy! Hike! Oops – well, it is a big game, you know.

Josh Grenier / Flickr — CC

Like to be a kid again? Ha! Who wouldn’t want to take another crack at their tender years, if only for a day or two?

The next best thing to finding the Fountain of Youth this weekend: Doing concentrated kid stuff with the little ones in your life and getting a residual whiff of bona fide childhood wonder.

If the kiddos you’re hanging with also happen to be successfully avoiding bath time, the whiff can be even stronger. Lucky you!

1. Jurassic Quest: Out of Extinction

Cristian Bortes / Flikr -- CC

So here comes 2017. But before abandoning the current calendar year for whatever amalgam of cheer and challenge that lies ahead, why not celebrate New Year’s Eve with a look back?

Not just back to 2016, but waaay back to times and traditions that you may never have experienced firsthand, but are still cool to “remember” with a little imagination.  

Want to visit the Roaring Twenties? Maybe dust off your Funky Chicken? Out with the old and in with the old!

1. Roarin’ recordBar 1920s New Year’s Eve Party

Southbank Centre / Flickr - CC

Entertainment is all over the place this Christmas holiday weekend, offering the perfect opportunity to get out and see a show with family or friends.

Wait, you still have presents to wrap? Food to prepare? Relatives to practice being nice around? Then you really do need a diversion.

And if you find yourself flying solo, don’t fret. Your brothers and sisters in holiday fun are out there, just waiting to lift you up. Now let me give you a hand.

​1. Radkey

David Jones / Flikr -- CC

Look around. What do you see – really?

We get so used to our surroundings that it’s easy to take them for granted. This weekend is your chance to see some familiar things in a different way or even gaze upon a brand new item or two.

Mainly, just try looking around with fresh eyes. See where that takes you!

 

1. Arrowhead Stadium Tours

Esther Honig / KCUR 89.3

It’s better to give than to receive, without a doubt.

But it takes cooperation. There’s no way for any giving to happen without someone receiving on the other end. So here’s this weekend’s big ask: Take the free or almost free things offered to you.

That might be a simple pat on the back or a warm hug, as well as more formal experiences that come with little or no money changing hands. Free advice: If anyone wants cash for a kiss, don't do it! Just give them money, if you can, because they must really need it.

 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

 It’s December and there’s no turning back: The holiday season is upon us – or if you’d prefer a friendlier image, it’s sharing space with us.

And there are plenty of related festivities to go around, too, including community friendly tuba carols, the balletic exploits of the Sugar Plum Fairy and heavy metal tidings of comfort and joy.

Tis the season for sharing the merry, however you and yours decide to go about it.

 

1. TubaChristmas 2016

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Now that Turkey Day’s out of the way – except for the leftovers – here’s your chance to shake off any lingering tryptophan-induced lethargy and take advantage of the long weekend’s entertainment choices.

That could mean being serenaded by a retiring country music legend, having the kids get their faux Victorian picture taken with a treasured toy or just screaming your happy head off at a body-slamming wrestling throw-down.

It could also mean that while you’re out there having a great time, someone else gets the leftovers. Hide the dressing!

Mary Harrsch / Flickr - CC

For all that avoiding the wild side has going for it – achieving longevity immediately comes to mind – why are so many folks still interested in flirting with ferocious disaster?

I’m afraid there’s no easy answer. But since I like easy, let me try: Tame is tedious. Ferocious is fascinating. Sure, you can gum your food and get by. Or you can use your fangs and spill a little blood. Oh, my, I’d better clean that up.

Jennifer Milikien / Public Domain

Not to bum you out, but the weekend is finite.

A way to creatively stretch it: Do things that have a decent chance of enduring in your mind, things whose proven appeal has already lasted decades or even centuries in the history of entertainment.

Can’t take Friday or Monday off? No problem. You can still make the weekend last!

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