Saturday, May 31, 2008

Royals - Finally

The Royals broke their 12 game losing streak tonight. The streak started with that loss against Lester, the no-hitter. We should have ralphed-down a bunt attempt in the late innings of that game, screw decorum. It might have saved us two weeks of hang-dog blues.

Norphlet Green Hill Jones

I set up a new yahoo group dedicated to those of us searching for the parents of Norphlet Green Hill Jones, born December 15, 1823 in North Carolina, died December 8, 1862 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He's my great-great grandfather.

Monsters of Rock Chalk

80's era KJHK staffers and Lawrence music scene veterans will be gathering in the River City for two events on Saturday, July 5th. There is a 1pm daytime event for families at Burcham Park with music by DJ Ray Velasquez (flying in from NYC). Old friends and cronies will no doubt be trading war stories and remembering the bands, venues, and people that made the alternative music scene in Lawrence, KS what it was in those days. The evening event features music from an ever shifting lineup of stars that may include The Von Bulows (= Pedaljets + Lori Wray). Last I heard the music takes place on stage at the Replay. Fun band Gourmet Mushroom X is also scheduled to play. Sponsored by Leslie "Sunshine" Dunham, KJHK staffer from the mid 80's. Get the latest developments at her mySpace page dedicated to the event.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Two Years in a Flash

It's been two years since a couple of great teachers, Frank Robertson and Margaret McClatchey, retired from Shawnee Mission North. I went to their retirement party at the school on May 30, 2006 and wrote this letter to mutual friends about it afterward.

It was great to see you Tuesday. I had a wonderful time at the McClatchey/Robertson retirement program and reception at the North auditorium. I was thrilled to see that they renamed the little theater in honor of Mrs. McClatchey.

I appreciate your words Joe, coming from someone who has talent and maturity, about the things that the teachers instilled in us in performance that carry over. Same for you Rick - I'm glad that Ms. Davis allowed you to speak at the end of the evening. You made some great points about commitment and team work, and your Cinderella carriage story was great. Jay T., although you didn't take the podium, it was nice to see you again, to meet members of your family, including your niece who is taking Frank's position at North in the fall. Plus, for those who weren't there, Jay showed up in a photo that was included in Mr. Robertson's video montage - not bad!

I learned some interesting facts about Mrs. McClatchey and Mr. Robertson. For instance, Mrs. M. did 116 shows during her tenure at North that spanned parts of four decades. And did you know that Mr. Robertson taught in California for a time before coming to Kansas? Mr. McClatchey did a great job on assembling the life story montages of both honorees.

There were some other nice speeches and performances as well. About 36 people paid tribute during the 2.5 hour program. Students from the class of '75 through the class of '08 were among those who toasted. No other class had as many speakers as the class of '83 did (three). Maureen Davis put us in a specific order for the evening, reverse order chronologically, except in the case of duets or group presentations.

There were five musical performances. My favorite was Cathy Barnett's ('78) rendition of "Before the Parade Passes By", a number she did for Mr. Robertson. He gave that one to her to learn when she was a student. Cathy also did a killer impression of Mrs. McClatchey, astonishing given the limited contact since graduation.

My speech consisted of some jokes - a jab at the tech theater kids, a bit about doing unsanctioned theater work in the parking lot "Death of a Six Pack", a remark about seeing a local weather anchor in her underwear during a Robertson directed play (Julie Broski, The Philadelphia Story, 1985) and a faux Oscar acceptance speech where I thanked a special teacher at North - Vern Bonar from Woodworking. When I saw Mrs. McClatchey laughing, it reminded me why I was there in the first place. I felt a surge of positive energy, the kind you sense when you're surrounded by people who believe in you, and that's a good feeling.

Cookies and refreshments on stage followed the speeches. Maureen Davis (who assumes the title of grand dame of the North theater department with 20 years in service on her own) told us that they're getting ready to raise the roof on the auditorium to provide more headroom for a pulley system and enhanced stage capabilities. The district also tore up the tennis courts, apparently a gym expansion is happening too.

Well wishers surrounded the two guests of honor. Jennifer Troughton ('84) was there and my old neighbor Margie Vusich ('79) too. We chatted for awhile with everyone and I was the first from our class to leave. Mr. and Mrs. M. are moving to Colorado soon and it struck me that this was probably the last time I'd ever see her - there in the auditorium, as she leaned against the stage surrounded by students. That's how I'll remember her, and the laughing too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Drop Out

Joan Grossman and my old Audio Reader buddy Tom McCourt document the rise and fall of Drop City, a 60's era commune made of geodesic domes near Trinidad, Colorado.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Drop Art, Drop City

School may be out, Alice, but its never too soon to review the history of Drop Art, and Drop City.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Doomsday Machine

I'm pleased to pimp the latest episode from the Cinematic Titanic:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Missouri Death Certificates, 1910 – 1957

I like to search for ancestors in my family tree. I've done research for the past 15 years. An excellent new resource is online for people like me who have Missouri ancestors. I think Missouri might be the first state to digitize old death certificates. Most states offer a text index online. You send a letter and a processing fee to the appropriate office to receive a photocopy of a death certificate. It's a lengthy process that takes six weeks to six months and sometimes you don't get results. The beauty of the new Missouri system is the PDF files are available for free and you can do searches for direct ancestors and cursory searches for cousins and distant kin. The years 1910-1957 are available for public view and the search engine allows results to be filtered by year, last name, or county. I think its great.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Alcohol May Have Been Involved

Replacements Quotes From Spin Magazine via yuppypunk

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bob & David: Together Again

I'm late on this but it's still better than Peaches & Herb. Mr. Show's Bob and David are back together on a project.

Monday, May 19, 2008

In the Land of Trees and PhDs

What happens when a holocaust historian gets involved with art restitution and wants to collect a "finders fee" for his effort? It's a fascinating tale that reminds me that we're not that far removed from the legacy of World War II. Read the story by Elise Viebeck

Sunday, May 18, 2008

My VCR/VHS party - Better Than Vacation Slides

Mrs. Jones and I had friends over to the house last night for a VHS viewing party. Twenty years ago my friend K. and I showed up at the houses of college friends without warning, asked for a tour of their apartment or rental home, stole ice cream and frozen treats from their respective freezers, and let the video tape roll like there was no finite battery life. We called it the tour of homes. Someday I'll make the transfer to DVD. We also watched a tape of this year's NCAA basketball final, you know, with it being a KU crowd and all. There was a request to view my appearance on the millionaire show and after some false modesty and rubber arm twisting I popped that sucker in the machine. We also watched a tape called the egg olympics where a bunch of us bored college graduates and locals shot eggs in the air with a slingshot, then attempted to catch them in a frying pan when they dropped from the sky. Those who were still awake saw highlights of my 1988 spring break trip to Arkansas. That's right, Arkansas. We drove down from Kansas City to see the horses run in Hot Springs, then swung over to Graceland, with hilarious consequences. We didn't research our destinations and got there in time for the Monday no race day at Hot Springs and the Tuesday no Graceland day in the case of Graceland. We viewed several close circuit movies on motel room televisions that trip, some with nudity, and not regular nudeness, I'm talking about 80's nudity. This was well documented. Excuse me if I'm a little weary in the saddle today. I spent half the night rewinding.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Western Civ Final 1984

The closest thing liberal arts students ever came to a Law School exam was the Western Civilization final. One needed to know a long list of thinkers and ideas from Plato to Aldous Huxley to score high. The Western Civ department knew it was a hard test, and they sponsored a balls-out review in dueling lecture-toriums at Wescoe Hall in the middle of KU campus one night a few days before the final exam. 700 sophomores scribbled notes for three hours while TA after TA presented snippets on DesCartes, Niechtze, and St. Thomas Aquinas to name a few.

My friend Shanahan and I sat 30 rows up from the stage with a jam box between us. Shanahan recorded the session on cassette tape so he didn't miss anything. Lecturers went back and forth between the two auditoriums, doing their tight-five on the big minds of history for each group of 350 students, like they do with Blues shows in the Kingston Mines in Chicago. Oh, wait, that's the reverse. The audience moves between two stages there. Never mind.

Some tweed jacket was late starting his set and the crowd in our auditorium grew restless. Shanahan didn't miss the opportunity. He popped in the Talking Heads version of Take Me To the River and turned up the blaster volume. Everybody started groovin' and when I say groovin' imagine a bunch of white kids from the suburbs of Kansas City doin' the flat shoe boogie. I mean, I don't want to overstate it. There was serious head nodding going on, and about the time the vocals kicked in, 60 seconds into the song, Professor wildhair with the notes on Machiavelli showed up. We shut it down, even though we didn't want to, but Shanahan broke the tension in the room, and I didn't care as much about the Western Civ final after that, in fact this story is about the only thing I remember about the evening. I think I got a B.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sunday Night Show

Kansas City's answer to John Peel, Robert Moore, presents a tribute to The Go-Betweens this starting at 8pm this Sunday night (5/18) at Record Bar in Westport. Hyperopia opens at 8:30. Ghosty, Softee, and Eric Voeks are also on the bill.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wall of Space Nuts

My daughter and I watched a few Sid and Marty Krofft credit sequences on YouTube and I think the opening song for Far Out Space Nuts sounds a bit like Wall of Voodoo, especially the first half of the song, before the "Step Right Up" verse. The later half sounds like a soft drink commercial, but the first half sounds like Wall of Voodoo. See what you think.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Last Night at the Ballpark

My son played baseball last night and he rapped an RBI single his first time up. Later he belted a double down the line at 3rd base and eventually came around to score. I think his team lost. They don't have a scoreboard. But it was fun to see him hit the ball.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Replacements Sing on British TV

I've been blog slacking this week. In the meantime, enjoy this vintage Replacements performance from 1986:

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Philippe Petit

This crazy Frenchman walked across a tightrope strung up between the twin towers of the World Trade Center back in 1974. Everyone in America knew the name of Philippe Petit for a brief time that summer. Now there's a documentary about his amazing feat, a stunt that will never be duplicated for obvious reasons. Looks cool!

Are You Bragging or Complaining?

I watched "I Love the 80s" on VH1 today and it occurred to me that I never saw Dirty Dancing or Footloose.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Weather means more trash

We experienced severe weather here last night. The sirens sounded and Mrs. Jones and I took the kids to the basement to watch the storm coverage. We escaped the damage that littered the metro area this morning. Speaking of litter, a storm surge at the creek brought new litter to the creekside park and I went down there tonight with my pick-up stick, a pair of tongs on a pole. I struck gold immediately when I found a big plastic bucket lodged under a concrete brigde. This made trash collection more efficient. Styrofoam was everywhere tonight and I gathered it up as fast as I could. The parks department stations trash cans at intervals throughout the park and I filled two of them near capacity with my efforts, and yet there was so much I could not reach. My goal is to eradicate the park of trash by the end of the summer.

Every time I search for trash in the park I always find a ball. Sometimes I find a tennis ball. I found a baseball once, and a basketball. I found a softball too, painted neon yellow. I always find a ball.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Iron Eyes Cody

We are fortunate to live near a public park that runs along a creek bed between old Stanley and the Iron Horse golf course. It's built along an abandoned rail right-of-way. It's very wooded and a nice place to walk. There are picnic benches and playgrounds and open fields. One of my projects this summer is to pick up the litter in the park. Why? Iron Eyes Cody has the answer.