Monday, September 28, 2009


I went to a cookout recently at a friend’s house. There were probably about 13 other guys there. I think 6 of the guys were married. All brought their wives.

Five of the six couples had a child under a year old with them; the other was 8 months pregnant.

Being surrounded by all those kids really got me wondering: what is it that makes people want to have children?

I’m not asking this rhetorically so I can go off on some rant about how I don’t like children, because that’s not the case. I ask this with genuine curiosity, from the point of view of someone who has never had the urge to be a father.

(I don’t know that this is especially rare for a guy. I think my fiancée gets far more dog-hearing-high-pitched-noise looks when she talks about not wanting kids. And I will readily admit that I’ve started to get rather mean when people (women) start insinuating that my fiancée is waiting until she can trap me into marriage then go bait-and-switch, biological-clock-ticking, demanding bitch on me. Great. Glad you give your gender so much credit.)

I feel like I lead a full life. I enjoy the things I do in my free time, and I love the lifestyle I have with my soon-to-be wife. We love our freedom and all the little spontaneous things we can do.

We’re also not the most traditional people in the world, in the sense that we’ve never seen parenthood as a given.

Here’s what I worry about, because I’ve seen it all too often: Life becomes 90% about the kids. The husband-wife relationship takes a back seat to the parent-child relationship for many, many years. Sometimes it never recovers. The things you loved doing together just become too inconvenient. Every venture outside the house turns into a test of patience and nerve.

I don’t want any of that to happen. I love my fiancée. She’s my favorite person in the world. I don’t want anything to get in the way of us enjoying our relationship.

To be fair, most people do not complain about being parents. My guess, though, is that it’s partly because they’d be lambasted by other parents for daring to suggest that parenthood is not the best, special-est thing EVARRRR.

So I ask again—what is it that makes people want to have children? Do people’s hearts melt when they hold a baby? Do children fill some sort of void? Is having kids something people simply feel like they’re supposed to do at a certain point in their lives? Is it societal pressure? Evolutionary pressure? Grandparental pressure?

Most people say parenthood is a wonderful feeling…that they don’t mind giving up their old life because they love their kids THAT MUCH. But I also think most of these same people wanted kids to begin with. Bully for them that it turned out even better than they hoped.

I will readily admit that I’m curious about how our kids would turn out. Frankly, I think we'd be solid assets for the gene pool. I’m not worried that we wouldn’t be good parents. I think we’d be attentive and loving (but not so competitive as to have pissing matches over how the Montessori school/classical music/gluten-free diet we chose make us better parents than THOSE people). And, yes, I concede that there is a possibility that years down the road we might regret not having children.

It’s just that those reasons aren’t enough.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Car Shopping = FAIL

As mentioned before, I’m looking for a new car.

Yeah, I’m STILL looking.

I’m really not all that picky; my problem, over and over again, is that I get into a car and I’m just not comfortable. The issue is that I’m 6’4” (mostly torso) and broad-shouldered.

I just want something I fit in that’s reasonably fun to drive. Is that so difficult?

Legroom really isn’t a problem in most cars. It’s headroom. In some cases, I can’t physically position the seat in a way that my head is not grazing the roof. In others, the combination of my eye level being so high and the roof line being so low would require me to lean forward every time I’m at a red light to see the signal change.

Some cars’ seats are too narrow as well. I test-drove an Accord whose seats made me feel like I was getting a hug from a person with no forearms and sharp elbows. The contours didn’t really fit my contours.

The suck part is that I actually want a small- to medium-sized car (see “fun to drive” criterion above). The problem is that those cars don’t tend to come with power (i.e. potentially low-slung) seats as an option, which would be essential to my ability to drive them.

I can’t believe how frustrating this has become.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Kansas City Kansan Has a New Owner

Growing up, my parents always got two newspapers: the Kansas City Star and the Kansas City Kansan. The Kansan was the "local" local paper, covering all things KCK: business, sports, government; you name it.

When I made the honor roll, the Kansan printed it.

When our legion baseball team won a doubleheader, the Kansan printed it.

It was a daily newspaper for almost 87 years. Think about that.

In 2008, the Kansan was cut to a twice-weekly circulation.

By January 2009, its only presence was online.

Now, a KCK native is going to try to inject new life into the publication all by himself.

Twenty-four-year-old Nick Sloan is a one-man publisher, handling copy AND sales. He just purchased the rights to the Kansan's website, which I have added to the blogroll.

I wish him the best of luck in his attempts to report on his hometown, and I encourage you to support him as well.

For more, here is a link courtesy of Plog.

Interview with Nick Sloan

Friday, September 18, 2009

Random Sports Note - Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter. Yep, I hate the Yankees. Hate them. Jeter's a fine player, but I've never liked him, mostly because he’s smug, spoiled, and overrated.

(An aside—I swear I’ll lose my mind if I ever again hear how amazing his play was against Oakland in the playoffs several years ago. You know the one: he runs over to redirect the lousy off-line throw from the outfield, tossing the ball to Jorge Posada who tags an inexplicably non-sliding Jeremy Giambi. People talk as if it was the smartest, most magnificent play in history. Whatever. I did the EXACT SAME THING playing kickball in 3rd grade. Laugh if you want, but at 8 years old in the Hazel Grove gym during PE class, I ran over and deflected a poorly-thrown ball right into Randy Kussatz’ legs as he tried to score, thus retiring the side. I’m not saying this to toot my own horn, or pretend I was some wunderkind athlete. What I’m saying is that while Yankee fans want to anoint Derek Jeter the messiah of baseball for his incredible smarts and instincts, a chubby 8-year-old in KCK had those same smarts and instincts.)

Anyway, did you see how much coverage they devoted to him breaking the Yankees’ career hits record? There’s a one-minute sports update on the radio, and 10 seconds of it is being used to let me know Jeter’s 6 hits away from tying the record? It’s the lead story on SportsCenter? There are people actually suggesting this makes him an MVP candidate?

It’s a franchise record. Not a major-league record. Not even an American League record.

He’s now got the 52nd most hits in major league history. BFD.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Black Clover Beerfest Lookin' Bro

The Black Clover Beerfest is tomorrow night (Friday Sept. 18) at the Riot Room. It’s a celebration of beer (Avery, Great Divide, Schlafly, New Belgium) and local hip-hop. Beer tasting starts at 7, show at 10.

Headlining the show is Mac Lethal, who just unleashed this hilariously NSFW video on YouTube. Big nod to Wayward Blog

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Random Sports Note - Football

-Why does every new young coach in the NFL feel compelled to act like he’s a hardass? They have to instill a “culture”, make an example of the standout players on the team, and generally just get into a pissing match every chance they get. It’s stupid.

I hear the Kevin Kietzmans of the world talk about how much they love that Chiefs coach Todd Haley is a disciplinarian and doesn’t put up with anything. Why is that impressive? Alienating your best players is a horrible way to motivate them long-term. They don’t respect the coach more because he takes their parking spots away or cusses at them all the time.

Even more annoying is that I hear the talking heads on ESPN swear up and down that every team’s woes are due to a lack of a winning culture in this clubhouse, or this other team has heart and that’s why they’re successful.


Teams win because they are more talented. Teams win because their coaches have figured out where there is a talent mismatch and go on to exploit it (or compensate for it).

You ever wonder why every NFL-player-turned-analyst never talks about talent?

Why the result of every game, nay, every PLAY is the result of something intangible?

Why it’s always heart and “never giving up” and “wanting it more” that win games?

Because professional athletes THINK THEY ARE BETTER PEOPLE THAN YOU ARE.

Their egos will not allow them to admit that they made it to the NFL because they were simply born with more talent, size, and athleticism. No, it had to be their superhuman drive to be the best. It had to be their work ethic and attitude. You know, something they can attribute to themselves and their own inner greatness. Seriously – listen to any one of these guys and tell me they aren’t utterly convinced of this.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Random Sports Note - Women's Tennis

-The U.S. Open Women’s tennis tournament was rather interesting. First, you had the Serena meltdown:

She definitely threatened to shove an effing ball down the judge’s effing throat. For two days she avoided any display of remorse or contrition (Serena has never held herself accountable for anything). She finally apologized two days later, probably while her PR person held her at gunpoint.

More impressively, Belgium’s Kim Clijsters went on to beat Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki in the final. Clijsters was playing in only her 3rd tournament since taking a 2-1/2 year hiatus to have a child.

Even more impressive than that? I was actually able to watch the match without hitting MUTE, thanks to a complete lack of grunting. Seriously—neither woman in the finals sounded like a buffalo being speared. It was highly refreshing to see/hear.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Event of the Decade (Redux) - Red X Wine Tasting Thursday

It's that time again.
Thursday, September 17, 5-7pm.

Here is what I wrote last year to describe the Red X Wine Tasting in all its magnificent fluorescence:

My mind has officially been blown.

I have rarely experienced so many layers of fascination in one place.

Friends, I’m speaking of the Red X wine tasting EVENT.

If you’ve never witnessed the Riverside Red X, it is everything to love about America under one roof. Groceries. Cigarettes by the CASE. Every type of lottery ticket ever invented. A hardware store. A dollar store. A museum with statues of animals AND a suit of armor.

Oh - and booze. Lots and lots of booze.

That’s great, JJS, but I have a liquor store near my house.

I’m sure you do. But it doesn’t have a SUIT OF ARMOR and FUNHOUSE MIRRORS!

Point taken. But I’ve been to wine tastings before at other places, and they were kind of a drag – you know, kinda snobby.

I’m talking about the Red X, fool! There’s no place for snobbery. And what did your wine tasting have, 4 bottles to try? 8? Red X opened AT LEAST 80 different wines.

Wow. 80?

At least. And no, I did not try them all.

That SOUNDS cool, but I’m a little intimidated by the whole “wine scene”.

Your fellow tasters will include guys in NASCAR shirts and mullets asking to try the “SEER-uh”. That makes it 95% less intimidating and 9500% more glorious.


Great! Sounds like you’re in! The next one takes place:
Thursday, September 17
Riverside Red X

Yes, it’s early, but that leaves plenty of time to go get dinner afterward at Stone Canyon Pizza (where they have, ironically, 1/2 price bottles of wine).

Let’s do this.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Are you ever forced to associate with someone, through work or otherwise, who makes your life miserable?

You know the type--people who sigh audibly, roll their eyes, and are generally indignant any time you ask them to do something (like their job)? Or maybe they say totally inappropriate things—stuff that belittles you or gives you the distinct sensation of being thrown under a bus. Perhaps he’s the guy all the women in the office avoid because he’s too hands-y.

The exact personality dysfunction doesn’t matter. The point is that you have to deal with these people because the people who have the authority to effect change don’t have the stones to do so. Plead your case to them, and you get the inevitable response (say it with me):

“Oh…that’s just Mike.”

Then Mike is a DICK. Stop allowing him to act like one.

“Yeah…Sharon takes a little getting used to.”

No, Sharon’s an ASSHOLE. She needs to be called out on it.

Stop making excuses for these people.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Birthday Dinner: Starker's Restaurant

My birthday was Friday. That means I’m another year older, but more importantly, it meant BIRTHDAY DINNER!

We do four special dinners a year – anniversary, Valentine’s Day, both of our birthdays. Previous entries include Bluestem and Michael Smith. We don’t tell the other person where we’re going beforehand.

When it’s my turn to be surprised, it’s always exciting to get in the car and start running through all the possibilities based on which direction we’re headed. (We’ve also learned that varying our driving routes and taking unnecessary turns adds more fun to the game.)

We eventually landed at the Plaza, and my list narrowed considerably. We typically go somewhere we’ve never been before, no chains, with interesting food and at least a modicum of formality.

We parked, started walking, and finally I knew we would be dining at Starker’s Restaurant.

I had been looking forward to trying this place. It’s located above Restoration Hardware on 47th, which makes it easy to miss if you’re just walking by.

First things first: this restaurant is known for its wine. It has won numerous awards for its list, including Wine Spectator’s Grand Award. The list is 51 pages long, but it’s organized quite well. As you may imagine, you can order a $25 bottle or a $2500+ bottle.

We like wine, but I’ll let you guess which end of that scale we’re on. Your guess is correct. We enjoyed a nice Malbec (Madena was the label, I believe). It was tasty, as red wine tends to be.

On to the food!

I really liked the layout of the menu. On one page is the list of Starker’s Classics. These are your year-round dishes. On the other page is Seasonal Favorites, which focuses more on in-season ingredients. This list changes frequently…in fact, the current menu is different from the one from which I ordered 4 days ago. They provide a list of local providers, which is nice.

Each page offers one soup, two appetizers, two salads, and four entrees.

She started with a cream of heirloom tomato soup. It was rich, with a surprisingly strong smoky/chile flavor, topped with sourdough croutons. You could really taste the freshness of the tomatoes. I had a fresh (green) bean salad, topped with feta and lardons. I was pleased with this as well—a simple dish taken to another level by using fresh ingredients.

(I originally ordered a braised pork belly appetizer, but they were out.)

My entrée was an herb-encrusted rack of lamb. It was super juicy, cooked perfectly, and…well, let’s just say I had to discreetly pick up each bone to get the last bite off of it. It was too good to sacrifice any of it. The summer squash was, as with all the ingredients we had, fresh and delicious.

She had rainbow trout. If I had known fish could taste that good, I wouldn’t have gone most of my life not liking it. It was (you guessed it) very fresh and served with Minnesota wild rice; this last fact probably pushed my fiancée toward the dish for a taste of her homeland.

We finished by sharing a slice of chocolate pecan pie with vanilla ice cream. How can you go wrong with that? It was a great end to the meal.

The service was professional without being stuffy, and attentive without being smothering. In other words, ideal for a special meal.

I was very pleased with the restaurant overall. A couple quirks: the clientele was certainly on the older end of the spectrum. Not a problem, except that a couple of the people at the table behind us were hard of hearing and talking REALLY LOUD AT TIMES. We mostly laughed it off because some of the stuff they were talking about was kinda funny (the self-esteem movement and how it’s ruining kids, how beer doesn’t taste like it used to, how one of their neighbors thinks he's--and I quote--"hot shit").

Also, the layout is a bit odd. To get to the restrooms, you have to walk down a narrow hallway past the busy kitchen. There’s a logjam of servers there waiting for plates.

But these are minor, minor quibbles. This restaurant is about the food and wine, and they deliver both admirably. The food is a great value given the quality; most of the entrees come in at no more than $30. If you’re looking for even more of a bargain, Monday through Thursday they offer a 3-course meal for $33.

Give them a shot! You won’t be disappointed.