Monday, February 25, 2013

Laying in some Monk for the storm

Food is flying off the shelves. People are "panic buying" bread and milk in anticipation of the next big snow. And filling up on as much live jazz as they can, in hopes it will fuel them through the coming snowbound days.

At least, that's how some people are stocking up for the storm. Last night at the Record Bar, the crowd's primal need for life-giving dissonance was palpable, as they cheered on the Thelonious Monk tribute, featuring Mark Southerland, Gerald Spaits, Roger Wilder, Stan Kessler, Rich Wheeler, Ryan Lee, Brian Steever and Mark Lowry. The improvisations were like hot coals tossed out to us: "Take this and be well. May it warm and sustain you."

We responded enthusiastically. Let Mother Nature do her worst, we said. The fire in our bellies has been renewed and we are prepared. We will hunker down and we will be just fine with our cds, mp3 files, and streaming radios. Unless of course, the power goes out. In which case we will cry like babies.

Stan Kessler, Mark Southerland and Roger Wilder make beautiful Monk together. 

Roger digs in like that more expensive snow shovel you wish you had bought.

Rich Wheeler is a post man. He delivers no matter what.

Mark and Mark (Southerland and Lowrey) sharing hot Monk-y love.


In lieu of a generator, just hook Stan up to your breaker box.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

I can't open my wine bottle!

What kind of  frickin' wine cap is this?  It's not a cork. It's not a screw cap. It is diabolically sealed with a layer of metal as thick as a sardine can. How am I supposed to get through that?

I cut myself and am now bleeding, from trying to hack through this with a knife. Worst wine packaging ever!

Mother of mercy! Who designed such a seal? Mormons? 

Friday, February 22, 2013

How come their street got plowed and ours didn't?

This is reminiscent of the winter of 2011, when I wrote a tongue-in-cheek gripe about the plows forgetting us that got printed in the paper.

Two blocks away, 82nd street, which is a lesser street, has been totally plowed, and we're still ten inches under. The top of our hill, at Lamar, is ridonkulous. The only way to get through the thick piles of snow without getting stuck is to gun it, but if you gun it you'll get creamed by oncoming Lamar traffic. Going the other way isn't much better --the hill is steeper.  Just wait until everything freezes over tonight!

Looks like we're forgotten again.

Despite our woes, I've had a good day. There is only one thing better than a snow day--- two snow days! 

I took the following pictures today. They look like all the other pictures you've ever seen of snow-clogged streets. But it's our street, therefore, it's interesting. 

Roger's car.

A human figure near the top of the hill.

The steep hill to the west of us.

Neighbors a'shovelin'.

Roger's got a ways to go to shovel us out.

No way I'm driving up that thing in my Civic.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Simone's Rules for Snow Days

We're up to our arses in snow and there's more on the way! I love the freedom of no school and no work, but in our house a snow day comes with certain rules. I remind my family it's important to observe the following:
  1.  We must eat. Eating is one of our primary tasks for the day.  The snow is a potential threat. We have to keep up our strength. 
            To do my part, I stocked up on food Tuesday night, 36 hours in advance of the approaching
            storm, and I have created the following eating regimen to keep my family going:

                         Late morning, after the last one has rolled out of bed: Crisp, pan-fried bacon, scrambled 
                         eggs, and freshly baked oatmeal and brown sugar muffins.

                         Mid-afternoon: Freshly made snow ice cream with vanilla extract and pancake 
                        syrup. Served with hot chocolate.

                        Late afternoon: Tortilla chips and salsa.   

                        Supper: Homemade bierocks or chili, depending on my level of ambition.

                        Dessert:  Brownies fresh out of the oven with more snow ice cream.

                        Evening snack, with our without movie:  Popcorn and/or more chips and salsa
        2.  A snow day is a time to remain in the bosom of your family. When my kids ask why, I tell them, "So
             I can use the phrase, 'the bosom of your family.' "

        3.   We are as snowbound as if we are living in a cabin far from civilization. We cannot go out for
              eyeliner. We are roughing it.   
       4.   It's mom's snow day too. That means, no, I am not driving you to Panera's to meet up with your
              friends, and sleepovers are out of the question.

       5.  Hot coffee and tea should be a mother's constant companion. She must have a cup close at hand at
            all times.

       6.   Indulgence in at least one of the following is required: Movie-watching, reading, napping, puttering,
             general idleness, hot chocolate, fooling around,* wine drinking.*

         * Restricted to those of legal age and not living with parents.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Jazz and Classical fight like mad dogs at Helzberg Hall

This past Saturday was my first concert at Helzberg Hall in the Kauffman Center.

I discovered there are three things I like about Helzberg Hall:

  1. It smells of fresh wood. I noticed it as soon as I entered. 
  2. The seats are blue, not the more typical loud red. Two pleasing shades of blue that seem to alternate at random intervals.
  3. The cheap seats are the best seats in the house.  
The cheap seats put me in the choir loft, overlooking the Kansas City Symphony. I had a bird's eye view--the view of a low-flying bird that at any moment might choose to relieve itself on the violinist's head. Why would I want to pay more to sit out on the floor when I could be right where the action was? If a symphony musician yawned or grabbed a furtive scratch inside his armpit, I was there to see it. 

                Sitting behind the orchestra also enabled me to see conductor Aram Demirjian as the musicians
                see him. I greatly enjoyed all his gesticulations!

                 Note the piano player to the right of the conductor.  Also, the bass player, drummer, and guitar
                player. You can tell they are jazz musicians because they are wearing black. What are jazz
                musicians doing up there with the KC Symphony?

    Getting ready to solo, of course! Roger Wilder launches into his solo on a Charlie Parker number. 

Still going at it.

Still at it..........

      At last he finishes. Triumph! Awesomeness makes Bobby Watson point.

                     Roger was performing with Bobby Watson and the KC Symphony as a member of Bobby's
                    All-Star Big Band for the Shake, Rattle and Roll concert, a mashup of jazz and classical.
                   Contrary to my sensationalistic headline, the jazzbos behaved themselves for the most part  
                    and everyone got along.  The concert came off like a rose.

Roger, guitarist Rod Fleeman and drummer Ryan Lee look on as Bob Bowman throws down.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Give me whiskey

On Friday I drove to Cutter's Smokehouse in Eudora to eat some french fries but mostly to see my brother Marc perform with his band, Hit or Miss. This is their Farewell Tour. One of the last chances to hear them sing,

"Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey, whiskey, whiskey, whiskey, whiskey, give me whiskey...give me whiskey..... Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey, whiskey, whiskey, whiskey, whiskey, give me whiskey...give me whiskey.....It's what I want. It's what I need. It's what I want. It's what I need. Give me whiskey. Give me whiskey."

It's the single-mindedness that makes this song so fun to sing. It's got the same plain-spoken resolve of Merle Haggard's "I think I'll just stay here and drink."

Some drinking songs are more fanciful, attributing magical powers to their elixirs. George Straight sings about his "80-proof bottle of tear-stopper" like it's something he bought from the medicine show. It not only gets the red out, he says. It helps him "take command." For the singer of UB40, "Red red wine makes him feel so grand, he feels a million dollars when it's just in his hand."

But the best drinking songs don't explain themselves or make excuses. Dwight Yoakam's, "Since I started drinking again," is freewheelin' because it's way past regret. The boss is about to fire him, and the neighbors are all a'talkin', but he does not give a damn. Onward and downward!

As it turned out, I was not able to hear "Whiskey." Out of the blue, it started snowing to beat the band, and beat the band it did, because it compelled me to turn tail and head for home before the roads got bad. The band's not called "Hit or Miss" for nothing.

But I was told by a reliable source that the Farewell Tour will probably be followed by a Reunion Tour, followed by a Comeback Tour, followed by a CD Release Tour, followed by.....

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

I was crazy about Engelbert Humperdink when I was a first grader, and I owned this record album. Was Engelbert my first love, or was it that blue-eyed boy in Kindergarten, the one with the crew cut and big head shaped like a football? I think the school boy was just a crush, but it was Engelbert who introduced me to true longing.

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone, to all lovers and lovers in longing out there...and to little girls who are in over their heads, but are convinced they know what love is. As Engelbert's rival, Tom Jones,  once said,  "It's not unusual to be loved by anyone!"     

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Why can't every day be Mardi Gras?

I went. I danced.

And danced. And danced. It was a terrific party!

First, the parade rolled up at the Blue Room, having made its sparkly way down 18th street from Y J's. All manner of hooligans, dressed up in eye-popping costumes, flooded the corner outside the Blue Room, some in face paint, some beating drums or waving banners. Many of them proceeded into the Blue Room, turning the place from jumpy to jumping.

The Necessity Brass Band, which had already been cranking up the revelry, pounded and blasted us into submission, taking possession of us so we had no choice but to wiggle and shake and bounce and bend and weave, roll, skip, hop, jump, twirl, shimmy.....yass, yass, YESSS!

I wish I had pictures but I had to make a choice. To document, or to dance? Twas a far better thing I chose.

But I hope someone posts pictures from last night on the internet so I can steal them and put them on this blog.          

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fatuous Tuesday

Mardi Gras in the midwest is so tough. This is the one time of year when I get to let my inner freak OUT, but my inner freak gets cold, and just wants to huddle under a blanket. All the hipsters on 18th street tonight will put me to shame. Last year they had some amazing costumes. I need more beadage and funkage in my wardrobe, but all I can imagine wearing out there in the cold, waiting for the rag-tag little parade to make it from Y J's to the Blue Room, is something itchy and bulky, totally killing the spirit of Mardi Gras.

Let New Orleans have their party now. We midwesterners need to hold our Mardi Gras in May. Just imagine the crowds we could get, if the weather were warmer! I guess that's why we don't do it. We need the cold to keep the freaks in check.  

Sure, easy for them to dress this way. They're in Louisiana, where it's 80 degrees! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Someone else tried to cover up their car window with a yellow trash bag!

I was driving down a residential street when I saw a car parked along the curb with a big, yellow trashbag partially covering the driver side window. Much of the bag had been blown asunder, by the gusty winds we were having. It brought back so many memories. Oh the days, lo weeks (months!) when I limped around town with my stuck-in-the-down-position window and taped it up at night in case of rain.

By the way, there is no pretty way to do this. No matter how neat and anal you are in affixing the trash bag to the car, it will still look ghetto.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Smiths Night

Another post about the Smiths....

Last night I was happy to learn that even if you've heard all the songs by the Smiths, you can re-discover them anew, as if for the first time, by listening to other bands do covers of them. Although no one can sing those off-kilter lyrics with the flamboyant punch of Morrissey's subversive croonery, the Smiths oeuvre does lend itself to some interesting interpretations.

I was hearing all this on Robert Moore's Sonic Spectrum, which airs on 96.5 The Buzz KRBZ on Saturday nights, while getting ready to go down to Take 5 Coffee Bar to hear Roger (Wilder) play some groovy Rhodes with Jeff Harshbarger's group. I enjoyed the jazz. The Smiths had warmed me up quite nicely. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

It's National Read On A Furnace Vent Day

It's actually National Read in a Bathtub Day, but that's no less absurd, and I prefer furnace vents to bathtubs. I always found reading in bathtubs to be logistically tricky, and was too distracted by water getting onto the page to really enjoy it. And the bath water cools off too fast, but if you've gone to the trouble to take your book in with you, you feel like you have to stick it out for at least a few pages.

Give me a nice toasty furnace vent, near the floor, where I can either lean against it or sit directly on it, and wile away the time, turning pages in blissful warmth. Now that's the way to read.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Today my pancake sang for me.

When I pressed down on it with my spatula, the steam released made a low, sustained  "oooooooooooooooooooooooo", like a little human voice.

It was cool. I'm going to see if I can get it to happen again.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I still have license to wear my big coat

It's still February, so let's not get carried away. Just because we're out of the single digits and temps are expected to climb to around 50 degrees, just because the sun is out...does not mean I am ready to put away my big, long coat.

I know the window is closing. In only a few short weeks, this coat will no longer be socially viable. Come March, we will all be expected to dress as if the robin is on the wing, no matter how severe the wind chill is, and anyone lumbering around in full-length, puffy outerwear will be viewed as an oddball. Or a dork. Or a bag lady.

Some people run around outside in January without their coats on as if to prove they are superior. To the rest of us, though, they just look deranged. You can't tell us they actually enjoy arctic blasts whipping up their arse.We can see their goose pimples. My favorite thing about winter is how most sensible people get all bundled up like they're five years old. A 40-year old man sailing through the grocery store in a hat with big fuzzy ear flaps. Perfectly acceptable.

Come March, though, the ear flaps have to come off. The social order driven by the Darwinian impulses of our species demands it. Wearing winter garb too near the vernal equinox signals weakness, and is only allowed among the elderly. That is why March is my least favorite month. I'm still freezing my ass off, but I have to dress like I'm not.