Welcome to The Oyster

This is the second week of me chronicling my year of new experiences. You can check out the first week here.

This week’s tale starts once again with Meatless Monday, brought to you by Top Ramen (and a bunch of other shit). My inner frat boy was grunting, growling, and salivating as I pulled the ramen package out the cupboard. He proceeded to go cross-eyed with confusion as I lined the counter with veggies and eggs. His shock complete as he watched adult me prepare to cook in an actual pot, even though the microwave was right fucking there.

This isn’t the first time I’ve dressed up ramen, but I just recently realized that I didn’t have to add meat to make it a meal. It was time to go nuts.

I splurged and made two soft boiled eggs, cooking them up in the same spiced veggie broth I was using for the noodles to save time because veggies make me smart. Then I packed it full of roasted red peppers, snow peas, celery, carrots, broccoli, and mushrooms.

In short, I adulted the fuck out of that ramen.

With all the attention on my stomach, my ears were feeling ignored.

I’ve heard fiction podcasts referred to as “television for your ears” and I have yet to come up with a better descriptor. A blend of old-time radio dramas and modern storytelling can help liven up even the most mundane tasks.

The Oyster is a dystopic podcast best summed up by the line “the shadows were much more comfortable uncharted.”  Across seven episodes the drama tells the story of a president who turned democracy into a dictatorship, a systemically racist event called The Sorting killing 20% of the population so that the remaining 80% could fit underground, where they had to live because global warming fucked everything up and mother nature put us in timeout, and everyone is becoming more addicted to digital realities, ignoring the real world, and becoming mindless sheep.

The first novel I ever studied in a college was Brave New World, and the blockbuster movie The Matrix came out a year later. I can feel the influence of both pulsating throughout this story.

Horror doesn’t scare me like it used to.  But a dystopic future that hits a little too close to present reality?

Take my money and torture me slowly.

Speaking of books, this will come as no surprise, but I’ve always had a thing for bookstores. When I was in high school, my friends and I used to hang out at Barnes & Noble. You read that right, my friends and I used to hang out at a bookstore. For fun. On purpose. The kicker is, there wasn’t a Barnes & Noble in Grandview, we had to drive across the state line.

Fuck we were dorks.

Then when I was a young adult I lived on The Plaza. I’d cruise the aisles of B&N with a cup of coffee, breathing in air saturated with pulp and ink, listening to the whispers of authors long dead and the screams of writers newly born.

The first thing that caught my eye about this locally owned treasure was the name, Wise Blood. A bookstore named after a Flannery O’Conner novel that I studied in creative writing?

You had me at hello.

Ensorcelled by so many written words, my blood pressure instantly dropped by twenty points. Being swaddled by so many pages had me cooing as I perused the eclectic selection of new and used books, quietly debating what to take home as spoils from my journey.

I settled on two homegrown gems. This Is the End of Something but it’s Not the End of You by a local author named Adam Gnade, and an anthology series, Kansas City Noir, neither of which I would have never discovered if I hadn’t popped in.

Famished from my travels, I headed toward Mario’s Deli. It’d been years since I’d had their famous grinder and I could practically taste it as I walked down the block. What I didn’t realize was that Mario’s closed in 2017. I needed a plan B.

Mickey’s Hideaway called to me like a siren, and my stomach hungrily followed her song. Mickey’s was in the old McCoy’s space, a haunt from my misspent youth.

The layout was the same, some bones don’t break, otherwise there wasn’t a flicker of the old place in the joint.

McCoy’s was relatively unremarkable. The fact that it was comfortable and known is what kept it in business for so long. Mickey’s on the other hand had a striking combination of a contemporary feel with a fireplace and exposed brick coupled with wallpaper of black and white photos. The styles should have clashed, except they didn’t.

Until the moment I walked in, I had forgotten that it was Restaurant Week. Every year, I tell myself I’m going to let my inner fat boy take the reins for that week, pocketbook be damned. Then I forget until it’s too late.

The gods of gluttony wanted me to partake just once in 2021.

And they really wanted me to have a Smoked Chicken-Chorizo Fundido appetizer with chihuahua cheese, manzana sofrito & street tortillas. I don’t know what half that shit is. I do know I licked the bowl clean.

Still not satiated, I engulfed a Short Rib Grilled Cheese with white cheddar, fontina, caramelized onions, horseradish aioli, and parmesan fries. I left with a food baby in my womb and it was beautiful.

But on most days, home is where the heart is. And with the heart goes the stomach.

When I got my air fryer, it came with a small cookbook that I only kept for the cooking times cheat sheet. Idle curiosity guided me to a simple recipe for Inside Out Dumplings, which are essentially meatballs with water chestnuts and ginger.

But now I get to say I’ve made dumplings from scratch.

I’ve never seen the point in meatballs. If your not making a burger, what’s the point of molding ground beef (or in this case turkey) into anything? But this is a year for new things, so I decided to try it, if only for the fact that I’d never bought water chestnuts in my life.

Lean ground turkey was the absolute wrong choice when making meatballs. It’s sticky and after molding the first one you are stuck with clumsy meat hands until you’re done. Neanderthals who hit things with clubs have more dexterity than a 41-year-old manchild with meat hands. And these meat wads did not resemble the photo in the book. My meat wads were not photogenic.  

Thank God I’m single and wasn’t cooking for a date.

I paired my meat wads with Black Narcissus, a mini-series that had been staring down on me from Hulu for quite a while. It checked quite a lot of boxes. Historic fiction. Check. Supernatural elements and religious imagery used for dark purposes. Check. On FX which has a kick ass track record when it comes to dark content. Check. Watching that was the longest three hours of my entire fucking life.

It was like watching nuns watch paint dry in a convent. In India.

The highlight of my evening was when I figured out the male lead also played Nick Cage’s brother in Face/Off. But Nick Cage wasn’t there this time. Nick Cage turned this down.

You have to pack a lot of suck into a script for Nick Cage to tell you to keep your money.

Between the meat wads and the mini-series, date night with myself did not go well. In fact, I didn’t even score.

After that I needed to get the fuck out of my house.

Hyde Park is so old that it was originally part of the City of Westport before it merged with Kansas City in 1897. And I found my forever neighborhood when I moved here from South Plaza seven years ago.

Janssen Place, a subdivision where nineteen captains of Kansas City industry gathered to build magnificent homes back at the turn of the twentieth century, is hidden within the folds of my awesome neighborhood. And I have been running among them for years. Until this past Sunday I had never once taken the walking tour, complete with pamphlet.

Taking on a mission of this magnitude in the frozen tundra of the outside world required fuel. My first stop was at newer, more modern Hyde Park staple, Mother Earth Coffee.

I should probably mention that I fucking loathe coffee shops.  They are douche sacks dripping in pretention. As such, the persnickety attitude of my barista was on brand and predictable.  I wanted to tell him that that rosewater scented body spray wasn’t washing away his sins, but he would have held my coffee hostage.

The coffee was good enough for me to buy a bag to keep at my house, so I could support this local business without having to ever set foot in it again.

Fueled by an egg and bacon croissant and with an organic dark roast to keep me warm, I let my stroll through KC’s past begin. The sun had come out and it had turned into a vibrant morning.

On my journey I learned that Janssen Place was developed by Arthur Stilwell, who founded KC Southern Railroad, which is still a giant today. The iconic limestone gateway was designed by architect George Mathews, who studied under Henry Van Brunt, who was enough of a heavy hitter to have a boulevard named after him. I also learned that my favorite house, the house I’m going to buy when I hit it big like Stephen King, is called the Pickering Mansion. This brick and stone structure was built by the VP of the Pickering Lumber Company which at the time was among the largest lumber companies in the world. It also turns out that I’m into Italianate Revival architecture, such a renaissance man am I.

I also learned that the actual Hyde Park was the first golf course in Kansas City, the Kenwood Golf Links. I’ve driven, walked, and ran past it thousands of times and never realized I was driving past the place that introduced the full-bodied frustration that is golf to my native city. I may or may not have mimicked my god-awful golf swing in salute. Passers by may or may not have wondered if I was having a stroke (see what I did there).

I did have one more experience that I wasn’t looking for this week. I got stuck in a fucking elevator. Like the had to call the fire department, get me the fuck out of here, stuck in an elevator.

At first, I didn’t believe it was happening. This shit only happens on TV.

In all honesty, it could have been worse. After all, I remembered to take a piss before heading out, just like my mother taught me. So that was a small mercy. But fuck that elevator went from small to suffocating in the blink of an eye. I will never look at the phrase “the walls are closing in” quite the same way again.

Time works differently in a broken elevator. Just as you are suspended in air, so are you suspended in reality. I was certain that weeks, maybe years, had passed since I first lost contact with the outside world. At a minimum I figured I missed the Chiefs game and Biden’s inauguration.

Turns out it was less than thirty minutes. Our fire department rocks. I made kickoff and my fur niece and nephews nursed me back to health.

Fur baby snugs can solve everything.

Exploring Experiences

A few months before the world got gangbanged by the four horsemen, I made a pilgrimage to Chicago to visit my best friend. This glorious trip kicked off with a luxurious dinner at an authentic Chicago steak house and tickets to Hamilton. The adventure went on to include authentic Chicago hot dogs, a tour of the world-renowned Chicago Institute of Art, an evening at a Die Hard Pop Up Bar, a Ghosts and Gangsters tour and a the best crustless pizza I’ve ever tasted. Sprinkled with the kinds of debauchery and comfortable conversations only best friends can get into

During that trip I had lunch with a fraternity brother who had recently moved there and described 2019 as his “year of the yes.” He took every opportunity to try something new. And he came out of 2019 with a slew of new and wonderful experiences and memories.

I came home revitalized, rejuvenated, and with the realization that I had a lot of exploring of my own to do. There are so many wonderful places and events in my city that I have either never experienced, or it’s been years since I’ve taken the opportunity. There are scores of recipes saved but uncooked. And although I am a carnivorous consumer of all things content, there is still a fucking ocean out there waiting to be discovered.

I realized I had settled into comfortable routines and had become content with the familiar.

I resolved myself to change all that in 2020. I was going to become an explorer. Then we packed a decade’s worth of bullshit into a shitstorm of a year, and it all fell to crap. So I am recycling and repurposing my goal into 2021. I’m going to become an explorer, like Magellan or Cortez only without all the killing and pillaging.

The first steps of my journey came in the kitchen.

I love meat. As a growing Midwestern manchild, meat is the foundation of my diet. Veggies are fantastic, meat’s faithful sidekick has a place on my plate. But making a meal with them centerstage? Who would do this to themselves on purpose? That kind of thinking is why Meatless Mondays are one of the ways I am going to expand my culinary horizons. I made it easy on myself for this first week and made Black Bean Enchiladas.

Cooking this almost felt like cheating. Mix up some black beans, corn, chunky salsa, shredded Colby/jack cheese, and enchilada sauce. Stuff that shit into some tortillas. Top with some more cheese, sauce, black olives, and green onions. Toss it in the oven and relax while the cheese melts.  

If vegetarian dishes were are all this tasty, I just may restrain my inner carnivore a little more often.

I’m also going to break out of my slate of go to recipes by trying one new dish a week. My leadoff hitter was an Instant Pot Clam Chowder that had been on my “recipes to try” list since I got my Instant Pot a couple years back. Although there are tons of recipes on that list, there is a particular reason I was as gun shy as an angsty teen trying to get to second base for the first time.

When I was a twentysomething idiot first teaching myself how to cook, clam chowder was one of the first things I tried. It’s one of my favorite soups and it didn’t look overly complicated. I was hosting a dinner party and I wanted to impress my friends. The odds were forever in my favor.

One problem, I didn’t quite have all the cooking terminology down. Specifically, I didn’t know the difference between a clove and a bulb. This recipe called for five cloves of garlic. Do you have any idea how fucking long it takes to mince five bulbs of garlic by hand? How much stupid it takes to not realize how excessive that was? The fucking smell alone should have been enough to set me straight. But I am as bullheaded as the rest of my taurus brethren and I soldiered on. Even through the blurry eyes, runny nose, and carpal tunnel I trudged through to the bitter end.

Then, bless my heart, I tossed it in a pan and cooked until fragrant.

Have you ever wondered what Satan’s asshole tastes like?

We ended up ordering pizza. I was never allowed to cook for them again.

Thankfully, my second attempt went much better, and not just because that was a low bar to clear. Aided by my trusty Instant Pot, it had a made from scratch taste when all I really did outside of a bit of sautéing and chopping was toss a bunch of ingredients into the pot and let the device to the work.

Timing was key in terms of when to release the pressure and not let the dish boil once adding the half and half. Much easier than mincing five fucking bulbs of garlic. Sprinkle in some oyster crackers and it was practically a meal of its own even without the tuna melt I made to go with it. I spent my Saturday night satiated, fat, dumb and happy.

Home cooked food is wonderful and satisfying, but I could hardly call myself an explorer if all my quests took place in the house.

I decided to cap off a productive week with a late lunch at Café Sebastienne which is housed in the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art both of which had been off my radar screen for way too long.

It had been so long that I had forgotten that everything was locally sourced and that it was relatively inexpensive and high quality. The bulk of the restaurant sits under an expansive skylight, and the space is so open it almost feels like you are dining outside. But the setting is only as good as the food it accompanies.

Until the moment I saw it on the menu, I had no idea that the deliciousness that is duck pastrami was a thing that existed.  Now I do and I am forever changed. My sandwich was piled high with that heavenly meat, gruyere cheese, dill pickled carrot, and slathered with whole grain mustard aioli on marble rye. I had to stifle the NSFW moans that would have loudly announced my foodgasm to the world.

Afterward, I walked off that sandwich with a stroll through the museum. As Kansas Citians we cultivate and encourage a vibrant arts scene. And there is no shortage of wonderful culture to take in. Before the world shut down, I was an enthusiastic patron of the performing arts and travelling exhibits, but had not paid much attention to our standing attractions. I look forward to changing that over the course of this journey. This was an interesting place for me to start, because to be honest, contemporary art is not my strong suit. I struggle to understand it more than I do other eras and artists.

Two exhibits in particular spoke to me. Dawoud Bey’s Night Coming Tenderly, Black, a series of modern photographs reimagining the last sites along the Underground Railroad at twilight. The photos and setting were striking to take in, especially considering the current state of the world. Combining black and white photography with these settings at dusk drew a crisp conflict embraced by an eerie tranquility. It was profound to view such an era of our history through that lens.

I also thoroughly enjoyed Elias Sime’s Tightrope, in which the artist uses repurposed electronics to create his pieces. The themes of how wasteful and disconnected we have become as a society leapt off the work in ways ranging from subtle to overt. In a culture where social media is the new god and keyboard courage has replaced human interaction it was a surreal exhibit to take in, especially in light of the events currently plaguing our nation.

A walk through the museum was probably not enough to walk off all that food, so at some point my journey had to put me on a running path.

I’ve been inconsistent with my running lately and it definitely shows. Reasons range from laziness (my fault) and what I think might be COVID long hauler symptoms (not my fault). Not to mention wind chill that turns your dicky-do into a dicky-don’t sucks balls. That is not a legitimate excuse, especially for someone who took pride in being an ultramarathoner. I am making it a point to get back at it, even if slow and steady must win the race for a while.

Although trail running is where my heart is, road running is a part of life. One of the best ways to spice up the pavement pounding is to get away from the neighborhood routes and to different parts of the city.

My favorite off the beaten path pavement route is Cliff Drive. As one of only five scenic byways in Missouri, it’s a gorgeous, tranquil, and as the name suggests scenic route in Kansas City’s Historic Northeast. The best part is that it’s closed to all vehicle traffic. It had been awhile, so I decided to take a jaunt down there and let my mind get lost in the cliffs and the curves.

However, it had snowed recently and I forgot that no cars means no plows and the cliffs mean no direct sunlight. This was not one of my brightest moments. This was a “did you eat paint chips as a kid” moment. So, I’m just going to brag about how I traversed the treacherous terrain. Because that sounds way cooler than “I managed to not fall on my ass.”

No weekly journey in my life is complete without my weekly worship at the altar of God Content.

For all my viewing, I am way behind on movies. My screen time gravitates heavily toward television. I loathe movie theaters and renting. Instead, I wait for the movies to find their way into the orbit of one of my eight-seven streaming services. And then I ignore them until they go away and wait for them to come back again.

Not today Satan. Or more accurately, not on Saturday, Satan.

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood finally found its way to my screen. I love everything that Quentin Tarantino has ever written, and I stayed up past my bedtime devouring every moment of that movie.

I mean, where else are you going to see Tyler Durden beat the fuck out of Bruce Lee while closing with Leonardo DiCaprio reuniting with Margot Robbie. I submit that this shit only happens in a universe where Sharon Tate doesn’t die.

And of course, my eyeballs had to dance along the pages of a book for my week to feel complete.

My reading list grows faster than I could ever possibly read, such is the albatross worn by bookworms everywhere. There is whole god damn sea of books out there that I am never going to get to. I spent the better part of 2020 being Kindle Unlimited’s bitch when it came to reading. That’s not where a reader needs to live. It’s time to get back to the literary universe as a whole. And I’m kicking that off with a comic book.

The Hellblazer series has been on my list since forever. To a nerd who loves dark urban fantasy like me, the tails of cursed antihero and mystic John Constantine promises to be a wild ride. Throw in the fact the character was created by batshit crazy comic book god Alan Moore and with runs by greats such as Garth Ennis, Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison this promises to be the dark and dirty kind of fun.

I haven’t done everything yet, but it’s on my list.

 

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Musical Masks

Musical Masks

As we continue to navigate through the current state of things, I have noticed that a number of people in our world community are having trouble following simple instructions.

Don’t worry I’m here to help.

Everyone loves The Beatles, so I decided to rewrite the lyrics from the chart topping hit “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to aid us during this difficult time.

Can I, tell you something
You don’t seem to understand
When you’re out in public
Put on your fucking mask

Put on your fucking mask
Put on your fucking mask

So please, MAGA fucktard
Go wash your fucking hands
Oh please, it’s not that hard
Put on your fucking mask

Put on your fucking mask
Put on your fucking mask

And when you touch your face, I cringe inside
I can’t help feeling like we’re all
Gonna die
Gonna die
Gonna die

Yeah you, science denier
COVID is not a fad
Yeah you, flat-earther
Put on your fucking mask

Put on your fucking mask
Put on your fucking mask

And when you breathe germs from your insides
I can’t help feeling like we’re all
Gonna die
Gonna die
Gonna die

Now you caught that something
And coughed it in your hands
And you’re full of toxins
You should have worn your mask

Put on your fucking mask
Put on your fucking mask

Phrases on a Chalkboard

condescending phrases

This is a PSA: A sanctimonious demeanor does not make you superior, it makes you obnoxious. If this statement makes you uncomfortable, you are part of the problem.

We’ve all heard them, phrases that make our skin crawl. That make us cringe so hard we nearly give ourselves a stroke. That fill our minds with murderous thoughts. These phrases are utterly obnoxious, passive aggressive and as classless as the people that spew them.

These phrases are meant to distance the offender from the hateful nastiness they are directing at you.

They are cowardly acts of aggression.

More than the words themselves, they are about the tone and demeanor of the person vomiting them into our personal space. They are so intrusive I can  hear them being said as I type them. I can visualize the chief offenders of each phrase that I’ve personally met as I expand upon them.

Anyone that disagrees with the fact that words have power can eat shit.

I actually crowd sourced ideas for what should go on this list and I learned that I’m not alone in my cringing.

Just sayin’: This phrase is the worst of the bunch. It’s meant to distance the offender from the vile, repugnant venom they just spewed in your face. There shouldn’t be a three strike rule on this. After your first offense, you have your tongue cut out.

I was gonna say: The offender who utters this nonsense has a condescending comment or criticism all queued up, and is not gonna let something so trivial as the fact that it’s irrelevant and unwarranted cause it to go to waste.

I don’t mean to (judge, start a fight, offend, be nosy, be rude): Let’s be clear, you absolutely do mean to do those things. You just don’t want to own your shit. You want to own someone else’s shit. If you’re gonna be judgmental or offensive, own it like an adult. Otherwise, Fuck You. Also heard as: Not to be….but.

This is none of my business, but: If you know it’s none of your business, why are you saying anything in the first place? How about you answer that one first, and then we can get on with whatever self-important bullshit you want to say?

Just joking: You want the (false) sense of power that goes comes with insulting someone and laughing in their face, but you’re too much of a fucking pussy to own it. Probably because you couldn’t handle taking any in return. Also heard as: Only teasing.

To be honest: This one runs counter to its true meaning. The Shakespearean phrase “Doth protest too much” comes to mind anytime I hear this one. I assume your lying when you say this. I also assume you don’t care about the truth, just your truth. Also heard as: I’m not gonna lie.

But the Bible says: I loathe organized religion. Unless we’re having a theological discussion, the bible doesn’t belong anywhere near any conversation you and I are having. And if you bring a bible to a gun fight, you’re bringing the ensuing bloodshed on yourself.

Fair enough: In the interest of full disclosure I am guilty as sin of this one. I don’t think my intent is nasty, it’s been more like a tick, or a way to acknowledge a point. However, now that it has been pointed out I can see how it would be taken as something different. It’s always nice when my own snarky writing project can help me better myself.

You do realize: This is code for fuck you, I’m smarter than you, and I’m going to try to make you feel stupid and inferior right now. More often than not the person saying this either stated the obvious or missed the broader point. Also heard as: Actually…

Bless your heart: The quintessential southern phrase for “you’re a fucking moron.” Admittedly, most of the time I hear this one, it’s kinda deserved.

I’m not racist or anything, but: You are absolutely a fucking racist, and you want me to be in on your vile nastiness. To be complicit in your (white) inside joke. Fuck you. Own your bigotry and hate. Fuck, even the MAGA fucktards own their shit. Keep it  the fuck away from me.

I’m entitled to my opinion: Something tells me your overblown since of entitlement doesn’t end there. Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. If you have to state you are allowed your opinion, what you really mean is that you are entitled to either your uneducated or hateful opinion.

Fine or whatever: This is the most passive aggressive dismissive fuck you of a phrase ever written. These people aren’t willing to show you the same level of basic courtesy that they show their own mirror. Often coupled with I’m entitled to my opinion.

I could have told you that: You’re powers of hindsight are duly noted. The fact you think this is a superpower would be comical if it wasn’t so obnoxious.

Just so you know: I am going to speak to you in the most condescending way with a false air of superiority. Without substance and while stating the obvious.

You’d know if i was pissed: Okay, take your shot or don’t you piece of shit. But don’t cry foul when I punch you just because you mistook this for a slap fight. Chest-thumping like this is nauseating on all levels.

Don’t take this the wrong way: So, align my view with yours, or I’m wrong. Fuck you, you self-centered piece of shit.

We’ll agree to disagree: My point is as dead as fried chicken but I don’t want to admit that.

Laundry Room Retaliation

Laundry Room

With all of us being under a “shelter-at-home” order of some type at the moment, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about an important issue: laundry room etiquette. After all, clean clothes and linens are a core component of good hygiene, which is of the utmost importance right now. Those of you who own your home or rent an apartment with an in-unit setup, you don’t know how real the struggle can get. For those of you who have to use a laundry mat, your struggles are different and I feel you. I’ve been there.

For the rest of us: What the fuck is wrong with some people? I mean fucking seriously. Adults that expect other people to pick up their dirty duds need to move back into their parent’s basement and stay away from civilized society.

Let’s begin with the function of a washing machine. A washing machine is designed to, wait for it, wash your nasty ass clothes. You put in the detergent and softener, select your cycle, and it cleans your shit (in the case of skid marks this is literal). It’s magical like a fucking unicorn. Do you know what the function of a washing machine is not? It is not a storage unit for your damp, musty clothes. You see that display on top of the washer that has numbers that count down? That is called a timer. The function, as the name implies, is to tell you when your clothes will be done with phase one of doing laundry and are ready for phase two, which we will get to momentarily.

The timer is here to help you. The timer is your friend. Set the alarm on your phone, or look at a fucking clock so that you know when to go back downstairs and move your shit. This is not hard, and if you don’t know how to read a timer or a clock, you have no business adulting on any level. And the fun privileges of being adult (booze, sex, not living with your parents) are hereby revoked.

Moving forward, my action plan is gonna be to piss all over your clothes if you leave them in the washer. Since they are damp you won’t know. And to be clear I eat a lot of asparagus and broccoli. And I use a fuck ton of garlic in my cooking.

And I’m gonna chug an extra hoppy IPA just to get the flow going.

This also means that when you do magically find the dryer, you’ll just be baking that shit into your clothes and sheets. In some cultures this makes me your Alpha.

While we are on the subject of the washer, what the fuck is it with y’all and over stuffing it? Do you really think this is saving you money? If so, you are a fucking moron. Almost as bad as the people who can’t tell time. One of two things will happen, neither of them good for you. The spin cycle (the thing that makes your clothes less wet before they go into the dryer) will be stagnant and ineffective. This will make your clothes wet instead of damp which means they will take more time (ergo money) to dry. This is the better of the two scenarios.

The second possibility is that you break the fucking washer, meaning not only did your clothes not get clean, but you ruined it for the rest of us. And trust me, if you break a washer in a multi-unit complex we will find you and deal with you accordingly. And seriously, you would rather deal with a few angry residents than the maintenance man if he finds out you broke his shit with your stupidity.

Now that fear, intimidation and shaming have taught you how to use a washer, let’s move on to part two of the tutorial.

As with the washer, let us start with the function of a dryer. The function of the dryer is to dry your damp (not wet unless you overstuffed the fucking washer) clothes. As with the washer, it is not a storage unit for your now urine tainted (you’re welcome) clothes. The goal here is to transport the clothes from the washer to the dryer in a timely fashion, toss in some dryer sheets unless you’re a heathen, select your cycle and push start.

The dryer is also equipped with a timer, which will once again tell you when your shit will be done. If by now you don’t know how the timer works, you need whatever the hooked on phonics equivalent of reading and understanding numbers is. And for the love of god don’t procreate.

If you leave your clothes in the dryer after they are done, I am not moving them for you. That would be rude. What I am gonna do is dutch oven the fuck out of them. Remember when I said I ate a lot of asparagus and broccoli? I forgot to mention Brussels sprouts. Can’t get enough of ’em. Oh and they are in the cabbage family in case you didn’t know.

In case you think I won’t do it, I should tell you that both I and others say that I am a man-child and have a Peter Pan Complex (that means that at times I can be puerile, that means childlike). I have no fucking problem farting on your clothes. I will, however, be Febrezing the fuck out of the dryer before I use it. Because I am an adult, and I practice good hygiene habits.

Now that your clothes have, for all intents and purposes, been turned into a used diaper, I will sit in the laundry room and wait patiently while reading my kindle. Don’t worry, I won’t stare shame you when you finally come get your shit. I will casually watch with curiosity to see if you notice that anything is off. Your response doesn’t matter, either one will please me. More than anything I will be curious to see if you recognize me as Alpha.

But you better believe I’m gonna snap if you don’t clear the lint trap.

Fuck Buck

Fuck Buck

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or really don’t give any level of fuck about sportsball, you are aware that the Kansas City Chiefs are playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday. This is our first Super Bowl appearance in fifty years.  As a proud and life-long Kansas Citian I could not be more excited. And at the age of forty, I have been waiting for this game since ten years before I was born.

There is only one thing that has the potential to negatively impact this important moment for my team and my city. That thing is Buck-Toothed Joe Buck and his merry band of fucktard idiots. Anytime I hear them commentate, I roll my eyes. Buck proved his unapologetic bias against Kansas City in 2014 and in 2015 when the Kansas City Royals made the World Series in back to back years. And the rest of his broadcast team is equally bias and inept.

Seriously, he couldn’t have swung on the nuts of the opposing teams any harder if he was Tarzan.

As such, with the authority I am giving myself, I am issuing a proclamation that Buck & Co be replaced as Super Bowl commentators, and that a team with more integrity and cognitive ability be put in place.

WHEREAS, it has been fifty actual years since the Kansas City Chiefs have made the Super Bowl and as long-suffering fans, we really fucking deserve this, and

WHEREAS, the only thing that Chiefs fans have suffered longer than a Super Bowl drought is repugnant coastal bias, and

WHEREAS, St. Louis idiots mistake the Mississippi River for the Atlantic Ocean and as such ignorantly believe themselves to be an east coast city and present with all the misguided, pretentious elitism that goes along with it, and

WHEREAS, St. Louis, was of course, where people abandoned hope and died of dysentery trying to make it to Kansas City which deepens their resentment, and

WHEREAS, Joe Buck is a St. Louis bred fucktard who swings back and forth between the nuts of Cardinal nation and Madison Bumgarner and anyone he feels can beat Kansas City, in anything, and

WHEREAS, Troy Aikman’s concussion addled brain has left him unable to speak in complete sentences and his abilities are further diminished by his jealousy of our vastly superior quarterback and captain Patrick Mahomes, and

WHEREAS, it is a bullshit myth that the Dallas Cowboys are America’s Team, but Kansas City is in fact the Heart of America, and

WHEREAS, a certain not-aging-that-great-blonde on their broadcast team cannot accurately find Kansas City on a fucking map, and

WHEREAS, the fans of the Kansas City Chiefs deserve fair, unbiased and meaningful commentary of our first Super Bowl appearance in fifty years, and

WHEREAS, Buck, Aikman and Co lack the collective cognitive ability to tie their shoes, let alone commentate the most important game of the year,

THEREFORE, be it resolved that I, Brendan Rhyne, life-long Kansas Citian, hereby proclaim that Buck & Co are not allowed to announce or commentate at Super Bowl LIV, and furthermore are  to be replaced with a dream team of Bob Costas, Al Michaels, Jim Nance and Kevin Nolan.

Moving Backward and Forward

moving sucks

I’m sure most of you have pined after me, wondering where I went and when I was coming back. Or if I was the guy who left to get a pack of cigarettes never to return. Well, I’m back, and I’ve missed you at least twice as much as you’ve missed me. I’m back and writing to you from a new location. I moved at the end of 2018, which was an opportunity for both convolution and introspection.

There are a lot of great things to be mined from the process of moving, and I’ll be getting to those in this tale. But let me be clear about something first.

Moving. Fucking. Sucks.

You have to pack shit. And trash shit. Then haul shit. To unload and store shit. Then haul shit again. Then unpack shit. Then buy shit. This is the very definition of a shit show.

But I get ahead of myself. Before the packing shit, there was the notification that my lease was not being renewed at the apartment I’d called home for five years. I was notified by email, along with everyone else in my complex.  My landlord decided it was time for him to upgrade the entire set of buildings and double the rent. I don’t blame him, even if I do think “double” is a little ambitious.

The only thing worse than moving is moving when it isn’t your choice. I loved my apartment, and all its quirks. I loved my neighbors, and all of their quirks. I loved cheap rent that hadn’t increased in five years.

I wanted to be proactive, so I set to the packing of shit early on. I started with the back of the closets, where the stuff I forgot I had and never used took up residence. I was merciless in my rulings of what got to go with me, and what was sentenced to the curb.

My gavel and I loomed over the rest of my possessions as the packing of shit continued. Most of the furniture I owned was well past its expiration date. It was also very heavy, and not worthy of reaching the hauling shit phase. The lumpy 25-year-old bed, kicked to hell dining table, and built in the stone age dresser went to death row.

Then there was the couch. A couch that had been rode hard and put away wet every day for 20 years. A couch so tattered and torn that it had to be smothered in slip covers and blankets to prevent anyone using it from being scratched to the point of needing stitches. A couch that had been referred to as “Iron Maiden,” “Demon Couch,” and “Venus Fly Trap” by those unfortunate souls subjected to it.

I hauled that fucker out to the curb myself the day I moved and had to resist the urge to light it on fire.

Speaking of flames, a few things added fuel to this particular fire at this point. Through a set of circumstances way too complicated and interlaced to try to get into, it turned out that I was going to be without a home for a month. My old lease ended in October. The new one didn’t start until December. This technically rendered me homeless.

But I’m me and I have kick ass friends. I actually house sat for one friend for a week and stayed a few extra days before couch surfing to the Tyndall house to await moving day. I had a great time at both places and love all these friends dearly for taking me in. I truly am fortunate for the people I have in my life. Plus, I got a lot of doggie snuggles. And who doesn’t like doggie snuggles.

That being said, being in the space between homes leaves you feeling discombobulated. All your routines are jumbled, and you have a constant feeling of being slightly off-balance.

That was never more apparent to me than in my writing. I wrote virtually nothing while I was packing. The working, packing, and feeling of exhaustion that went with those took up most of my time. When I was staying with friends, I did write, but it was all garbage (part of it could be I was giving one of my novel ideas, Sins of a Smaller God another go, and although the premise has legs, the path to get there is elusive). Always one to look for silver linings, I embraced spending time with friends and taking stock of routines and the things I wanted to change, tweak and add in my new place. I also learned a few new tricks as a result of observing my friends in their natural habitat.

Moving day finally came and I managed to get all my shit (what I had left) hauled up into my new place (except for the newly acquired bed, I didn’t get that until the next day) and quickly set to unpacking my new space and making it feel like a home. A home vacant of furniture, cavernous and dead inside. But still mine.

I started with the essentials, getting the internet up and running so that I could watch TV. Priorities.

And that’s when the power went out. In the building. On the block. Through the neighborhood. Navigating the halls of a building you don’t know in the dark to drive through a neighborhood with no streetlights. There’s a horror story there that I need to write. Because it was fucking creepy.

Since I had thrown out most of my shit, unpacking didn’t take too long. And unpacking what I had planted the seeds of feeling settled. It also gave me an opportunity to honestly assess what I needed to turn my apartment into a home, which became an interesting exercise.

Did you know you really can find anything on Amazon? Anything. My fully furnished apartment (complete with couch, dining table and wall mounted flat screen) is proof of that.

I threw out my battered and broken stuff knowing it would force a fresh solution for a new home, and it is very evident that I made the exact right call.

And it was cathartic to see this apartment become a home as these things came in, got assembled, and put in their place. I started to feel more and more settled in with each passing day.

Of course the last piece to arrive was the couch. Because of course it was. It had a very broad expected delivery date. It actually arrived on Christmas Eve.

Before you go thinking that this is some Hallmark movie shit, you should understand a couple of things. First, I fucking hate Christmas with a fury rivaling God’s own thunder. This was not a Christmas miracle, this was shipping logistics. Second, I had a friend coming in town that night, and I barely got this fucking thing put together before he arrived.

That being said, it is glorious and wonderful and I am writing this from the comfort of the increasingly broke in chaise of the sectional. I have a feeling that this chaise is gonna see a lot of reading and writing time moving forward.

This apartment is the perfect blend of cozy and spacious. It feels good to be home. And it feels good to be back.

Performances on the Plains

Kauffman Center

Last week I had the opportunity to see The Barber of Seville, which was the final show in the 2017-2018 season for the Lyric Opera. I was once again reminded of how vibrant the Kansas City performing arts scene is and how fortunate we are to have access to so much quality. If you aren’t taking in some of these wonderful performances, you are doing yourself a disservice.

About five years ago I started to develop a deeper interest in the performing arts, but I had no idea where to start. So I went to my good friend Greg and asked him to teach me, and we’ve been going to shows together ever since. Over the past several years, I have taken in countless performance, particularly at the KC Rep, Unicorn Theater and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. As with every other form of creative content, I was amazed at how vast and diverse this medium was. I have also gotten to see the amazing level of creative talent we have in this community and the level of talent we are able to bring in.

There is something unique about taking in the performing arts, you are sharing air and space with the actors, which makes you a part of the work itself. No other medium offers that direct of a connection.

This season at KC Rep was one of the best in recent memory, which is saying something considering the have all been great. It kicked off with Between the Lines, which is Broadway bound and has music that can blow the doors right out of the theater and took on the Tony Award winning A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (which was based on an award-winning book), a play that examines autism in a unique way, a prospect as difficult as it is rewarding. And in between I had Sex with Strangers, built Fences and a Demon Barber named Sweeney Todd offered me a haircut.

Although I only went to two of the four operas the Lyric offered this year, The Barber of Seville instantly became a favorite. And their 2018-2019 season looks incredible to the point where my friend and I are getting season tickets. This is in part due to their season opener, West Side Story, which will almost certainly sell out. Plus saying that I have “season tickets to the opera” makes me sound much more fancy than I actually am.

And if you are looking for edgy, look no further than the Unicorn, whose tag line is “Bold New Plays.” In recent years I have seen plays about a dystopic future where the Simpsons are worshipped as Gods, to a play challenging the ideas of race and racism in very darkly comedic ways, to modern re-imaginings of classics such as The Seagull. They are also dedicated to making quality theater affordable to everyone by offering special “pay what you can nights” for each show.

These are just the main three venues I frequent, there are countless others around town including the Just Off Broadway theater, Starlight and the annual Shakespeare in the Park Festival which I have seen each of the past 15 years.

If you haven’t yet taken in some of these wonderful performances, then you really haven’t realized why we are called the Paris of the Plains.

 

Mummies Aren’t Made of Toilet Paper

Mummy

I learned something this weekend, mummies in fact are not made of toilet paper. Okay, I may have already known that particular one. I had an opportunity to go see a lecture on mummies and then the exhibit at Union Station this weekend, and it was pretty amazing. The exhibit contained a significant number of visually striking samples blended with easily digestible information. Also, I learned that rich people in Victorian times used to by mummies to unwrap at parties, which is a good indication that board games hadn’t been invented yet.

Union Station has a pretty solid reputation of bringing in quality exhibits, and this one continues this trend. You have until the end of the year if you haven’t taken the opportunity yet.

Saturday also served as a good reminder of how cool my city is, and the amazing things that it has to offer. Kansas City is a hotbed of culture if you know where to look. Even if you don’t it isn’t hard to find, or even stumble into blindly. A complete list of opportunities and options would be impossible to compile, but there’s something for everyone.

We boast world renowned museums such as the Nelson-Atkins and the World War I Museum (the only one in the US) as well as the Truman Library. The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is considered a world class facility while the Music Hall continuously brings Broadway shows to the City. Speaking of Broadway, I recently saw a musical at the KC Rep that a number of people (who know much more than I do about such things) believe will end up there.

And those are just the broad strokes. Music and culture festivals, smaller museums and venues highlighting local history and artists. As an aspiring writer, I am constantly inspired by the culture an energy of my surroundings, and I’ll take all the opportunities to explore that I can find.