Thursday, September 27, 2012

YouTube Tuesday: It all began with a god named Thor

Today's edition of YouTube Tuesday celebrates the good news that will send hipsters hopping all to way to Merriam in a couple of years.

Sure, every major city in the world already has an IKEA store, but how many metros are there that have an IKEA AND a Nebraska Furniture Mart? It's all part of my plan to make KC the furniture capital of the world!

The lyrics are even better...

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Monday, September 17, 2012


I don't know about you guys (and if you're one of those snobby foodie-types, I don't really care), but I really like Blue Koi.

We always get good service there. The owner and/or manager always greets us warmly. I like the noodles. I like the rice. I like the Awesome Sauce, and I really like the roast duck.

But this post isn't about food.

Like many food spots, Blue Koi displays work from a rotating roster of local artists. I like this idea in general, kind of an appetizer for your soul while you wait for your table. And I've never had a spiritual dish at Blue Koi that I didn't enjoy.

And a few months ago, there was a very tasty treat indeed.

On display in the entry way were canvases of crude cartoony characters doing various activities which didn't seem to make sense upon a brief initial glance. Because they were cartoons, and because we were with another couple with whom we were in conversation, I didn't pay them much attention. But when we were seated at out table (me, directly facing the painting) and awaiting our dinners after ordering, I had a little more time to study the images.

"Heard it through the grape vine"
I was looking at a group of what looked like The California Raisins. They were in a cave, with fire all around and a river of red liquid. They were holding devil's pitch forks. And in a moment it clicked. It's a visual representation of the idiomatic expression "Raisin Hell." Brilliant!

One by one I studied the dozen or so paintings on the wall with new interest. They're the work of Overland Park artist Joe Self, and before our table is served with entree's we're all studying the paintings with surprise and delight.

I honestly don't know how I'd never seen these before. The friendly manager at Blue Koi notes our interest, and brings us a couple of complimentary wall calendars featuring many of the visual puzzles. This is totally the kind of thing my dad would get into.

Self has made his paintings available for purchase at his website. At a minimum, you should buy a coupe of the wall calendars to pass around and keep in your cube. That's what I did.

See if you can solve this one!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fear and Loathing in The OP

We are turning into a nation of whimpering slaves to Fear—fear of war, fear of poverty, fear of random terrorism, fear of getting down-sized or fired because of the plunging economy, fear of getting evicted for bad debts or suddenly getting locked up in a military detention camp on vague charges of being a Terrorist sympathizer.” — Extreme Behavior in Aspen, February 3, 2003

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ode No.2 To A Honeycrisp Apple

Another short poem to my favorite breakfast food, as inspired* by Robert Frost.

The way a bro
Brought in for me
A Honeycrisp
From yon Hy-Vee

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I'd rued.

*And by "inspired" I mean "plagiarized"

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Decade dense

When I was in high school, still breaking in my new driver’s license, some buddies and I took a half-hour road trip into The ‘Ta to hang out for the day, maybe see a movie.

Long story short, our 1978 Dodge Omni (dubbed “The Omni-vore”) shot craps on the Canal Route, forcing us to ditch the Interstate at the 21st Street exit. I’ve not been to Wichita in, what?, 15 years?, and this story takes place at least 10 years before that. Which is all to say that I’m not sure what the neighborhood is like today. But back then the prospect of finding yourself, at the age of 16 with a busted car in a dodgy part of town with no cell phone (nobody had even heard of the Motorola DynaTac yet) was extremely dicey.

Everything turned out okay in the end. Maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime because it’s kind of a funny story.

But… fast forward a year or two when I’m on a student tour of Europe. It was the most fun of my short life up to then. While in Paris, a friend and I became separated from the tour group in the subways. Here we are, a couple of Midwestern kids from nowhere Kansas where the words “public” and “transportation” don’t have any real meaning when you put them together, lost on one of the more renowned subway systems in the world.

It was both terrifying and exhilarating. It was exhilafying.

Again, everything worked out okay in the end. I mean, I’m here writing this, right?

Fast forward again to adult life when my Supermodel Wife and I and some close friends returned to Europe on our own terms. The experiences above, and many more like them, had cultivated a sense of adventure and appreciation for discovering the unknown and unexpected. I had come to realize that, with a certain frame of mind, there’s no such thing as “being lost.”

Just have an idea of where you want to end up, and enjoy the process of getting there. All you really need is a map and a brain. And really, the map is optional. Cell phones and GPS units? They just get in the way of enjoying where you are. They’re a kind of safety net that dilutes your experience.

Needless to say, that trip abroad was filled with unexpected discoveries that we might not have had in the safety of a tour group. And it was the most fun I’d had in my life up to that point.

Then a few months later, somebody flew a couple of airplanes into the World Trade Center towers in Manhattan.

We all know what happened, so I don’t want to belabor the point. But a comment from a blog friend got me thinking about how there are now adults who were third-graders on the day of the 9/11 attacks. My oldest daughter, now in elementary school, has never known a “pre-9/11” world.

And that’s a shame.

Because after the attacks, we as a society pretty much went into lock down.
We have come to accept, with very little grumbling, being treated like cattle (or sheep) in the name of public safety. We put up with being herded, groped, scanned, and tagged. We have gladly handed over our privacy to a government that has pledged to protect us. We cheer our leaders when they kill the right people, because they are doing so that we will never again face certain death at the hands of those who wish us harm.

That the “kids these days” have never known it otherwise is a concern. Aren’t we deifying invulnerability way too much? Are we sacrificing liberty and risk and reward, at the altar of safety and security? Are we raising a generation that will be unprepared when the illusion of safety is exposed?

It’s tough. Because I want my kids to be safe. But I also want them to experience the kinds of things I experienced — learning that it’s okay to be frightened, just keep your head. Don’t be afraid of new and strange places and people.

I guess I just think that living in fear within a cultural corral is a sad way to go through life, and you’ll miss out on a lot of the best things life has to offer.

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