Brian McTavish | KCUR

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."

Dick Daniels

Even the harshest souls have a tender side. And the tenderest? Those folks ought to feel right at home at weekend events that, in one way or another, address the gentle promise that exists in everyone.

But whatever your emotional comfort zone – be it petting puppies in your head 24-7 (nice) or screwing up the courage to simply take the first step in scaling Sensitivity Mountain (indeed, it can be a steep climb) – it’s all right, because we’re all in a different place.

And if you should find yourself at the top of that most kind peak? Plant your flag, friend! Tenderly.

Minerals, crystals and gems aplenty at the Kansas City Gem and Mineral Show this weekend in Kansas City.
Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

What is truly free? Lunch? Hardly. Love? In theory.

Certainly, a great deal of advice is free, if you don’t count the price to be paid for following the lousy kind.

Here’s my gratis guidance: Do something more or less free this weekend – because you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a lot of fun. You can look it up. Starting right here!

Bernard Spragg / Flickr — CC

A last chance can pass you by before you even knew you had a chance.

So as a public service — that's right, folks, I'm not only in this for the glory — allow me to share a weekend's worth of soon-to-be-here-and-gone attractions involving music, comedy, fast cars, fleeting celebrities and the tantalizing yet imperfect dream of eternal youth.

Look away if you dare. Going ... going ... grab on!

1. ‘Broadway's Next H!T Musical’

Fairfax Library Foundation / Flickr — CC

Is your first time the best time? I thought that might get your attention – at least at first.

Now it’s up to the weekend to deliver on a flurry of firsts as realized by stellar basketballers, accomplished musicians, an earnest explorer of the spirit world and curious kids interacting with encouraging canines.

If it’s the last thing you do, be part of the debut crew!

1. Harlem Globetrotters

Courtesy of Charles Xavier Conley /

How big is too big? There's no such thing this weekend, with entertainments whose sheer size and/or towering reputation can’t help but elicit extraordinary appreciation.

From the awesomely planetary to the impressively encyclopedic, the intensely grand to the entirely over the top – here’s your list of lofty events to absolutely lose yourself in before life returns to normal on Monday.

Go big or go home? Nonsense. Just go bigger!

theNerdPatrol / Flickr — CC 2.0

Childhood and adolescence have their charms. But it’s only adults, despite being closer to the final exit than the fresh start, who get to call their own shots.

That's even truer on weekends, when most grown-ups have additional time to devote to non-essential stuff (a.k.a. fun). And this weekend is especially adult-friendly, with things that go "va-va-voom, "kerrang," "vroom," "smooch," "hic" and "whaaaaaattt." 

That's right, you can still be an adult and make as many silly sounds in public as you want. I should know!


Courtesy Jennifer Karady and Amparo Hoffman

Comedian George Burns had this to say about sincerity: “If you can fake that, you've got it made.”

Ah, but was he being sincere? No doubt, in his own amusing way.

However one approaches it, the act of being heartfelt can be observed and shared this weekend in a variety of ways, from the honest allures of traditional country music to the direct detection of the (pardon the expression) ideal female. I kid you not … well, not too much!


1. The Randy Rogers Band

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

How hard can it be? The weekend, that is.

That depends on who you are and how much you’re willing to push. From dogged baseball believing and deep-rooted roller derby rowdiness to a mind-blowing pop-art exhibit suitable for super-cool selfies and a 5K obstacle-course fit only for the fit (and super-sweaty selfies), the choices and their challenges await. 

Krokstrom Klubb & Market / Facebook

Culture. Refinement. Stylishness.

The hallmarks of sophistication – not to mention its cadre of classy synonyms – beckon this weekend from a variety of corners. The trick to appreciating them all? Keep an open mind to their attendant intricacies, some of which may challenge preconceived concepts of what it really means to be erudite.

So put on your thinking cap. OK, beanie, if you want. Sure, with a propellor on top, if that makes you happy, smarty. Thanks for getting in the sophisticated spirit!

U.S. Air Force photo/Lance Cheung

Huh? What’s that? Come again?

Carrying on a conversation this weekend might be tougher than usual, if you choose to turn up the volume with goings-on rooted in rock music, monster trucks, boisterous laughs and other forms of sonic dynamite.

There’s also the promise of loud costumes. Pardon? No not plowed customs – I don’t even know that that means. What? No, I’m not being mean – maybe a little dense. No, no, I’m not tense. If you can make me out at all, welcome to the weekend din! Weak and done? Really?


Senior Airman Carlin Leslie / U.S. Airforce

Happy 2018 – now what?

The new calendar year’s initial weekend delivers a grab bag of endeavors: Downtown art-scene appreciation, drolly ancient funk-rock, Jewish comedians riffing on their cultural history, dinosaur love, football dreams and more.

What might all the miscellany amount to? Find out by reaching into the bag!


1. First Friday at the Crossroads

Brian McTavish / KCUR 89.3


Did you get everything fun done that you wanted to this year? Are you sure?

Because it’s now or never to take part in disappearing expressions of the holidays and other going-going-gone doings before they’re as kaput as 2017.

From a legendary pizza joint’s brilliant finale to luminary rock ’n’ rap antics on New Year’s Eve, this is your last chance to do fun stuff – until next year, anyway. And then we can start all over again. Feel free to check back often.

1. Fun House Pizza

Senior Airman Carlin Leslie / U.S. Air Force

History may not actually repeat, but it absolutely echoes.

Catch some worthwhile reverberations this weekend at happenings focused on five millennia of Chinese history, the Russian source of a 19th century ballet classic, a 1970s punk rock icon, the past importance of playing marbles, the splendid tradition of being an entertaining married couple and, perhaps most important of all, our historical victory-seeking Kansas City Chiefs.

Be part of history – or at least the nifty ripples!


Kevin Stanchfield / Flickr — CC

Not to turn the weekend into a self-improvement test, but its eventual success has more than a little to do with you.

So here are some quality components to consider for your aspirational free-time action plan: Exposure to an ancient Chinese leader’s “forever” suit, dog owners determined to exercise everyone’s smiling muscles, plucky troubadours who don’t take no for an answer, celebrity fetishized satire of the highest order and fiercely executed championship volleyball.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Squinting? This weekend’s brilliant entertainment possibilities are arguably blinding.

There’s a vivid touring production of one of the most popular Broadway musicals in history, two differently dazzling takes on a Christmastime dance classic, gifted singer/songwriters with names as glittery as their talents and a family friendly rock band consisting of guys with exceptional gleams in their eyes.

courtesy photo / The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

Let me just say it: Nothing lasts forever.

And yet…the human heart yearns for permanence, an assurance from somewhere that somehow our hopeful expectations that the things that matter most to us just might endure.

Leave it the ironically fleeting weekend to potentially deliver on that longstanding front, from holiday traditions and dreams of worldwide freedom to an unforgettable tale of miraculously durable love and purpose. Will it stick with you? Cross your fingers.


Cory Weaver / Kansas City Repertory Theatre

After family and friends and turkey and football and a nap and more football, there’s still more stuff to be thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend.

Namely, the wonderful world of local live entertainment, including music, theater and good causes to support. All while wondering if the drumstick you hid in the refrigerator vegetable bin will be there when you get back.

And, of course, there'll be even more football. Always more football!

1. Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills

Richard Masoner / Flickr — CC

Whether you’re a real go-getter or more the sedentary type, moving options this weekend include activities related to basketball, bicycles and trains. Whew, I’m bushed already.

Or you can sit relatively tight and still be moved by strapping aerialists or stirring musicians who, in their own amazing ways, know how to lift you out of yourself. Don’t worry, its only temporary.

Can you get it all done before Monday? Maybe. Have you had your Wheaties? It couldn’t hurt!

comitstarmoon / Flickr — CC

Sometimes you have to snicker. Or giggle. Or titter.

While the why and the when are ultimately up to you, this weekend delivers comic excuses to chortle, cackle or just let out a good old-fashioned horselaugh. You know, like your Uncle Larry has. You don’t have an Uncle Larry? That’s funny. See, we’ve already started!

A reminder: Not all comic things are purely comic, right? Undercurrents of greater meaning can exist in the same space as amusement. Just ask Uncle Larry. What a guy.

South African Tourism / Flickr — CC

How can you keep it in?

Don’t even try this weekend, with so many activities to tempt your expressive side, from the pure nostalgia of “Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees” (one of them, anyway) to the opportunity to literally skate away from your troubles.

So how can you not let it out? There you go.

1. ‘50 Summers of Love’

Pinar Temiz / Flickr — CC

With Halloween just around the door-creaking corner, plenty of purposely peculiar events will be going on this weekend. There will also be some things that just happen to be a little weird.

Into gore and zombies? Bizarre glitz? What about an uncanny glissando?

And you thought you knew weird!

1. ‘Chainsaw, the Musical’

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.