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."

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

Brian Collins / Heart of American Shakespeare Festival

What’s it all about? Feel free to take your time with that one – like your whole life.

For those in more of a hurry, this weekend may provide a profound clue or two to the big picture, courtesy of the high drama of Shakespeare, the joyful pop music of ABBA and a celebrity softball game devoted to helping sick kids in our community.

Glean what you can in the search for deeper meaning. Remember, it’s a process. So you might as well have a good time while you’re at it!

Jolynne_martinez--Flickr CC / photo circa 1962

I think we all know that Father’s Day is the second most important day of the year devoted to honoring a parent.

History suggests as much: President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day an official U.S. holiday in 1914, yet it wasn’t until 1972 that President Richard Nixon did the same for Father’s Day, which failed to save him from the Watergate scandal. Nice try, Dick.

That said, playing second fiddle is important – just ask the guy playing second fiddle. So go and do something fun with your favorite paternal figure this Father’s Day weekend. No, not Mom! Good grief.

Courtesy The Elders

Opinions differ on the best examples of anything, whether it’s the finest flavor of ice cream or the greatest Batman villain.

Leave it to the weekend to provide some clarity, with quintessential samplings of history, music and public spectacle on tap.

And the most essential ice cream and Batman baddie? Chocolate and the Joker, obviously. Carry on.

1. Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center

NRK P3 / Flickr — CC

There are times for quietness and humility. This weekend isn’t one of those times.

Loud and proud things to do over the next few days include dynamic declarations of personal identity, a titanic celebration of great American rock bands and overt demonstrations of spirit-lifting silliness, from riding horses that aren’t really there to whipped pie bubble blowing.

It’s a cavalcade of different ways to get whatever’s inside out. That’s right, all of it. C’mon now!

​1. Kansas City PrideFest

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!’

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