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."

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

overlandpark.com

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’

rumpleteaser / Flickr-CC

As one-hit wonder The Main Ingredient so melodiously clarified way back when: “Everybody plays the fool sometimes / There’s no exception to the rule / Listen, baby!”

Are you listening? I hope so, because you wouldn’t want to miss the point of April Fools' weekend.

You didn’t know there was an April Fools' weekend? Well, there is when April Fools' Day falls on a Friday. No fooling – well, maybe a little.

Ethan Hickerson / Flickr -- CC

Legends loom large. It’s what they do.

Still, they come in all shapes and sizes and even species, like the Easter Bunny or Mickey Mouse – yes, “cartoon character” is a genus, at least in my pop-culture-infested mind.

So buckle up this weekend. It’s going to be a legendary ride.

1. Kansas City Easter Parade

Otterbein University Theatre & Dance / Flickr-CC

Some things are smart to do. Others are not.

We could argue forever about which is which, which wouldn’t be the brainiest move on anyone’s part.

My advice? Just pick something to do this weekend from the list that I’ve dutifully assembled for your intelligent perusal. See, you’re smarter already.

1. ‘The Fantasticks’

UCI UC Irvine / Flickr-CC

Don’t be afraid of the obvious.

I get it. Every once in a while, for one reason or another, we all like to be hip or trendy. But the truth is that some of the best experiences can be had by doing things that are readily apparent.

And keep in mind: A thing can be so obvious that people might miss it. So if you do that thing, does that mean you’re secretly with-it? Obviously.

1. Mavis Staples and Nick Lowe

Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons

Want to do something different? Really different? Really, really different?

Well, let’s not get too carried away. We’ve only got the weekend to work with here. And, besides, you don’t want to show up to work on Monday as Bernie if they’re expecting Hillary. (If they’re expecting Donald, I’m not sure what to tell you.)

So, instead, consider the following things to entertain or educate yourself in a different way this weekend. At least they’re totally different from each other. Baby steps, right? And then the revolution!

C. Jill Reed / Wikimedia Commons

Remember ‘Oz the Great and Terrible’? Turns out he wasn’t such a bad guy. In the end, you might say he was terribly good.

In that spirit, there are things to do this weekend that might well be terrible, but in more than one sense.

Am I being absolutely awful to propose potentially dire diversions? Actually, I’m just being alliterative. But terrible? Now you’re talking.

1. Wavves with Best Coast and Cherry Glazerr

diosthenese / Flickr--CC

Ah, the B-word. Most of us know one or more of the impolite connotations. But let’s stretch out a bit, shall we?

Beyond the rudely inspired, other B’s beckoning partakers this weekend include bulls, ballet and Brazil.

And, yes, there’s a bona fide B-word thing to do, if you care to try it.  Whatever you may choose, be sure to have a blast.

1. Professional Bull Riders

Allan Ajifo / Wikimedia -- CC

Sunday is Valentine’s Day, the great validator of lovingly bestowed flowers and candy, as well as hugs and kisses that hopefully go with them.

If you have a special someone, good for you. If not, that opens up other opportunities, doesn’t it?

Whatever your romantic status, follow your heart this weekend. You never quite know where it will take you. Or who might join you on the way.

1. Dancing with the Kansas City Stars Sweetheart Dance

Nate "Igor" Smith / Wikimedia -- CC

Should you?

That’s the lingering question when considering some of this weekend’s, shall we say, more debatable activities – things that might feel good or be otherwise stimulating, yet also challenge everything from waistlines to moral judgements.

Not to worry. Much. It’s only the weekend. Isn’t that when you’re supposed to let it all hang out?

1. Monster Jam

Ryan Van Etten / Flickr Creative Commons

Sometimes you have to be an adult. Other times, it’s more of an option.

This weekend, with any luck, the choice will be yours to take full advantage of your adult status without the pesky baggage of grown-up responsibility.

I didn’t say it would be easy. I’m just here to nudge you in the right direction. Or maybe it’s the wrong direction. Either way, I’m nudging.

1. Margaret Cho: The PsyCho Tour

Moondrop Circus / Facebook

It’s shaping up to be quite the magical weekend, including opportunities to behold satiric sorcery, partake of enchanting eating deals and be mesmerized by momentous sleight of hand on the basketball court.

Your mission: Get out and see what pleasures can be conjured before the weekend spell is broken.

A wand shouldn’t be necessary. Although waving your arms around in a wizardly way would seem irresistible. Anyway, that’s my plan.

greyloch / Flickr -- CC

The real world is full of obligatory routines and predictable patterns.

Who needs that on the weekend?

Unload the ordinary and stack up on the fantastic by exposing yourself to amazing superheroes, distant planets and — if you dare — maybe even the dawn of a zombie apocalypse. It could get weird, but if you want to get out of this world, you’ve got to take a few chances.

1. ‘Marvel Universe Live!’

Creative Commons

You can’t do everything in 2016, but there are probably things that you’d rather not miss.

To decide what those things might be, you first need info – like when will the pennies from heaven be dropped and where’s the best place to stand? As it turns out, I can’t help you with that.

But I can suggest the following candidates for not-to-miss stuff this year. In the end, personal choices will be made. Fun and enrichment will be fashioned. And if I find out anything about the sky raining money, I’ll get back to you.

Walt Disney Studios

Remember when you were inordinately riveted by famous people? Think way back – like five seconds ago.

Say what you will, but the public continues to be captivated by an ever-expanding continuum of both real and imagined personalities populating our star-struck media universe.

If you’re impressed by Luke Skywalker or Barbra Streisand, then your star-struck self is already covered this weekend. Just tell me again: Which one is flesh-and-blood and which one is made up?

1. ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Costume Watch Party

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