Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

The "K" to Become "KC" – Barnes and Sanders Team Up!

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

The announcement of Kay Barnes as the choice to head up a Jackson County Charter Review Task Force didn’t attract much notice, but it could be the most significant event for Kansas City political insiders since Tom Pendergast started selling concrete.

A task force to review the Jackson County Charter sounds like an innocuous, perhaps even dull, assignment for a woman who once spent her days being chauffeured to ribbon-cuttings at taxpayer-financed boondoggles that profited her closest friends. Term limits forced her out of that cushy gig, much to the disappointment of her entourage of developers and real estate lawyers. A subsequent attempt to take her game to the next level by seeking access to the even larger federal dollar pot resulted in a bruising defeat and a nightmarish couple years spent north of the river, miles from the Country Club Plaza.

“Kay and I met one day when she accidentally visited Independence, thinking she would find the headquarters of The Independent, Kansas City’s Journal of Society,” Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders recounted.

“I saw my opportunity to solve some of the County’s real estate problems – namely, the fact that the City has begun to realize that they have no obligation to donate $2,000,000 to the stadiums. Kay has demonstrated a real knack for sticking Kansas City taxpayers with outrageous financial obligations, and that is exactly what I wanted to accomplish.”

While the Jackson County Charter Review Commission has yet to hold its first meeting, big changes are already afoot. Barnes is taking a fresh approach to the task, using the opportunity to use the County’s governing document to alter some fundamental relationships.

Kay Barnes beamed with excitement as she announced the most visible change. “From now on, the ‘K’ will be called the ‘KC’!,” she proclaimed from behind a humongous flower.

While many in the audience assumed that the name was being changed to reflect a more active role for Kansas City, her posse of developers and real estate lawyers were quick to correct the mistake.

“‘Kauffman Stadium’ will now officially be called ‘Kauffman-Cordish’ Stadium, and the stadium complex will henceforth be part of the Power and Light District,” former City Manager Wayne Cauthen announced. “I had never actually read the contracts between the City and Cordish, but it turns out that instead of promising free parking, like Kay and I told people it did, it actually gave Cordish the rights to use taxpayer funds to directly take over local businesses instead of slowly driving them out of business. Who knew?”

Of course, once Cordish takes over the site, Kansas City taxpayers will be on the hook for all the risk but none of the profit. “That’s the way it works,” former Mayor Barnes explained. “We’re already paying $12 million this year for P&L, up from $4 million last year. What’s another few million dollars? The snow on the streets will be melted by the time baseball season starts.”

The deal will have a major impact on the management of the Royals baseball team, as well. CEO David Glass made the announcement that Steve Glorioso, longtime aide to Kay Barnes, will be joining Royals management as Revenge Coach.

“For years we’ve focused on Offense and Defense, but it hasn’t worked out very well for us. When we saw how Mr. Glorioso handled the defeat of his chosen candidates in the Mayoral and Congressional elections, we realized we were missing out on an important facet of the complete game. From now on, whenever a team defeats us, we will focus on attacking them, their families, and their supporters. We will contact other teams in the league to badmouth the victors, and then we will badmouth those teams when it suits us.” Glorioso chimed in, “Do you know what kind of cars opposing players drive? Do you know that some of them talk to their wives about the games??”

When asked why they were hiring Mr. Glorioso instead of someone with a better track record of success, Mr. Glass explained, “Jeff Roe was already talking to the Yankees, and Steve pointed to his experience.”

Critics pointed to a looming problem with the concept of Cordish ownership of the the stadium. A reporter from a small newspaper raised the question – “What will those money-loving #### do when black athletes show up in athletic apparel?”

Cordish was not yet prepared to respond to the issue. “We’re at least two task forces and a committee away from figuring out what to do with the dress code issue,” Mayor Funkhouser replied. “Until we get it resolved, we will expect all athletes to play in proper ‘club’ attire.”

As the press conference came to a close, Anne McGregor showed up in the parking lot with a few paid petitioners in an attempt to “Recall the Umpire”. Upon hearing that there was no legal basis to recall the umpire, she explained that the umpire is the least popular person on the field, and that she felt compelled to try to score a few political points off the opportunity. “Even when – I mean if – I fail again to get the right number of legitimate signatures, I can get some publicity for my effort. Oh, and I’m supposed to say ‘Stop the nonsense’ – my sponsors pay me money every time I say that!”

In a final note, Cordish announced that the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame will be broadening its scope. “When we came to Kansas City, the first thing we did was bring in Minneapolis barbecue to replace Lil’ Jake’s. We want to bring a certain bland homogeneity to all cities, and we see no reason that the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame should feature Kansas City Royals. We’ll be replacing the George Brett statue with a Kirby Puckett statue on opening day,” a nameless company spokesperson recited. “The Johnson Countians we’re hoping to attract probably won’t notice the difference.”

Sunday Poetry: There once was a man from Nantucket . . ., by the Editors of the Princeton Tiger

Sunday, March 14th, 2010


There once was a man from Nantucket,
Who kept all of his cash in a bucket,
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man,
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.

– by the Princeton Tiger (1924)

It’s the week of St. Patrick’s Day, and it’s as good a time as any to talk about Limericks. Often bawdy, and usually humorous, limericks are an example of a poetic form working with humor to make something memorable. The example above is a classic, printed in 1924 by the Princeton Tiger and drawing responses from other newspapers. The creative tension of the above poem comes from a rhyme which does not get stated – the reader waits for another “ucket” rhyme that never comes.

Often, the unmentionable does, in fact, get stated, and that is part of the fun. Clean limericks appear in childrens’ books and bawdy ones draw a laugh in raucous bars.

I won’t go into a lengthy recitation of the history of the lyric, except to observe that Edward Lear’s reputation far outstrips his talent (he often repeats the first rhyme), and that St. Patrick’s week is a fine occasion to try writing a few of your own.

Funkhouser Controls Weather

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

At first, I thought that the claim published on a local blog that Mayor Funkhouser’s street received extra attention during the recent snowpocalypse was simply more of the same uninformed, thoughtless, baseless criticism that has been voiced by malcontents and power-deprived real estate attorneys throughout his administration.

Boy, was I mistaken. Using the powerful research tools available on the web, I conducted a thorough investigation of the topic. Sure enough, this is what I found:

This is a genuine Google earth photograph of the Mayor’s street which I downloaded this very morning, after shoveling 6 inches of powder out of my own driveway. The work of the city crews in cleaning not only the street, but the sidewalks, lawns and trees is impressive.

Even more upsetting, here is a snapshot showing the impact of the snowfall on the limos of the lawyers running against him:

Harris Wilder Campaigning for Funkhouser?

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

The first campaign promise of the 2011 mayoral election has been issued, and it comes from somebody not even running. According to Tony’s Kansas City, Harris Wilder has promised to leave Kansas City if Mayor Mark Funkhouser wins reelection in 2011.

Close observers will note that this is not the first time that Mr. Wilder has offered crucial support to the Mayor. When this summer’s recall effort failed by a few hundred votes to force an election, it was none other than Harris Wilder who delivered essential complacency to the effort, assuring people that the effort was going to be a ringing success.

Demonstrating his wry and subtle sense of humor, Wilder asserted that a vote for Funkhouser would show that “the voters of Kansas City admit that they don’t care about the budget“. As treasurer of the recall effort, he somehow generated $33,000 of debt while bringing in only $1,175 in contributions. While Kay Barnes and the developer-funded prior city council managed to spend the our city into a fiscal crisis with larger numbers, Wilder wins hands-down when it comes to percentages.

(All joking aside, Mr. Wilder deserves sincere appreciation for both his passion for his causes – however much I may occasionally think them ill-chosen – and for his willingness to freely speak his mind. I wish him and all who read this a fulfilling 2010.)

Why Pets?

Friday, December 11th, 2009

According to her Facebook status, a blog friend was recently bloodied and lacerated by an animal she feeds. Another friend reported that she is constantly sporting puncture wounds and scratches from animals she is rescuing. Yet another bends her social calendar so that she can rush home to tend to two humongous animals that, if not watched, will steal her food from her kitchen counter with four feet on the ground.

Folks, there’s something wrong with humans, and pets are proof.

Why would someone allow an animal to wound her, and then feed it? Do you think lions would find a human baby in the wild, decide it’s cute, and keep it around the pride for its entire lifetime, feeding it and paying its medical bills? Where’s the reciprocity?

I grew up as a dog lover, and I still like dogs, but it’s not a close friendship anymore. When your dog jumps on me (or worse), or slobbers on me, or tries to talk me into grabbing a moistened tennis ball – I start deducting points from your assumed IQ.

Twink, Brandy and Bummer – dogs I spent my youth with – were fine companions, but that was in an age before video games and cable. Training a dog to sit still while I place a treat on its nose and hold it until I said “okay”, yeah, that was a power rush, but surely there’s an iPhone app for that. An app that won’t wake you up in the middle of the night because it needs to go outside in 0 degree weather, or get sick on your pillow.

Why do seemingly intelligent friends open their homes to barely-domesticated animals that attack them and cost them money? Why do they arrange their schedules for the convenience of an animal that won’t even allow them to sleep late without getting up and letting them make fecal deposits in their yard – fecal deposits which the owner will need to pick up or otherwise deal with?

Just think about that. If, after a wonderful, mind-blowingly romantic and sexy date, your companion took a dump in your bedroom, and then stood there looking at you with a “so what?” look on his or her face, and expected you to put a nice meal in a bowl for him or her, what would your reaction be? But that’s acceptable behavior for a creature who will never buy you a nice birthday present, or pay half the cost of your mortgage?

Photography Tips for Black Professionals, and a Lengthy Digression on the Nature of Friendship

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

I had lunch yesterday with one of my African-American friends. Yes, that’s a plural. I really do have more than one African-American friend, depending on how you define friend.

Important Digression: I mean, really, the line between friend and acquaintance gets kind of blurry, and the term “friend” depends on context. If a given person gets indicted or says something controversial, s/he is more likely to be an acquaintance than a friend. “Yeah, I know him/her,” I’ll say, with a roll of my eyes to make certain that the person knows that my disapproval of the person started long before the current brouhaha.

I realize that makes me sound disloyal. In my defense, I should point out that I am also a pathetic “basker in reflected fame”. I went to high school with a guy a couple years behind me I still consider to be my friend on the PGA tour, though we only talked a few times over 30 years ago, and never since. But, still, Jay Delsing is my “friend on the Tour”.

Similarly, I consider a lot of politicos to be friends, which may be misguided. City Councilpeople wave at me and smile, and, even though I couldn’t come up with the names of their spouses or children if you offered me a thousand dollars to guess. There’s one politician who refuses to allow me to be her facebook friend after I wrote something nice about the candidate she beat by a 60 point margin, so I suppose I rank somewhere below the 880 closer friends she has on Facebook. But we have 99 mutual friends, so I still consider her to be in my friendship circle. Politicians usually try to be everybody’s friend, but it’s unwise to read too much into it.

It’s all very confusing. I’ve seen a definition somewhere that a friend is someone who will bail you out of jail, while a great friend is the person sitting next to you saying, “That was awesome.” I like to think I have a reasonable number of people who would bail me out of jail, but most of them have better judgment than to wind up there with me. When I think of sitting in jail, I tend to think of Henry Rizzo and James Tindall sitting next to me, talking about COMBAT funding . . .

I tend to run with a broad definition of “friend”. Someone toward whom I have friendly feelings, and whom I am happy to see when I run into them. By that standard, almost everyone is my friend, including the guy I had lunch with. And a bunch of other minority people, too, so there!

Anyhow, one of the things we wound up discussing was the frequency with which black professionals get photographed. He reported that he appears on virtually every promotional piece put out by his large company. Similarly, he participates in virtually every client acquisition meeting, often held at exclusive clubs his parents would not have been allowed into.

The urge to put the black guy forward is not limited to the world of commerce. The teabaggers are now pushing a movie about themselves, and the trailer is a classic example of making certain that the black guy gets photographed to make the rest of the people seem more diverse. Like Ralph Ellison’s Liberty Paint Factory, the white looks a little better when a touch of black is mixed in. So one black guy makes it into 5 shots.

It occurs to me that it can’t be easy to serve in the role of “Photographic Symbol Showing that the Rest of Us are Cool with Diversity” (hereinafter, PSSRUCD). Not only can the flash of cameras disorient a person, but s/he is needs to make the most of his/her opportunity to diversify the shot.

For instance, given the number of flashes the PSSRUCD is exposed to, it may be tempting to don a pair of sunglasses, to ease the eyestrain. Bad idea. Sunglasses make you look cool and detached, but we need the appearance of friendly engagement. Ixnay on the shades.

A more subtle point is that you need to avoid being in the center of any group photo. This may seem a little counterintuitive, because, after all, you are the reason the photo is being taken, but having you centered in the photo makes the photo seem posed. So be careful to pose it differently.

Most importantly, always look at the camera! Looking off camera makes us think you might be casing the joint (remember, we wouldn’t have even let you in a lot of these places if it weren’t for all that deseg nastiness). Worse, you could be gazing at a white woman. Play it safe, look at the camera, and be the best PSSRUCD you can be.

You may notice that a lot of white guys, when approached by a photographer while drinking, will ease their drink-holding glass behind their back. Don’t try this. When we do it, it looks like we’re hiding a drink. When you do it, it looks like you might be reaching for a weapon. The fear on everyone else’s face will ruin the shot, and, if you do it quickly, there’s a chance everyone will hit the floor. PSSRUCDs should simply set their drinks down on a table, and return to the photo. Trust me, people will wait for you.

Finally, a word on the expression. Sometimes it can be challenging to maintain the friendly smile of a top-notch PSSRUCD when the rest of us try out best to engage you in conversation. It may get old to be asked whether you played sports in college, or to be asked what you think about Bill Cosby, or to be congratulated on Obama’s victory, but those are the best ice-breakers most of us white professionals can come up with. But too many photos are ruined by a shadow of contempt or an eye-roll passing over your face as you are posing with some pasty white old guy who happens to control the business we are after. So much depends on the friendly smile of the PSSRUCD. Please make it happen.

The Kids are Alright

Monday, November 16th, 2009

One of the inalienable rights – no, essential duties – of teenagers is to annoy authority figures.

In Massachusetts, a prinicipal has banned the word “meep”. It seems that students at Danvers High began using the meaningless word coined by Beaker, the Muppet lab assistant, to add a little levity to their daily grind.

Nothing bothers administrators quite as much as young people engaging in levity. To put a stop to their levicity, the principal sent out an automated phone call to all the parents warning them that if their levicious offspring dared to use the word “meep”, s/he would be SUSPENDED.

My hat is off to the students of Danvers High School. They got under the skin of their principal, and caused him to issue a red-faced warning that made him look like a sputtering twit. Bravo.

Got a Soccer Player in the Family?

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

When I grew up, it was fuzz ball and street hockey in the alley behind Bobby Parres’ and Tom Toczylowski’s house. Home when the streetlights came on.

Nowadays, it’s paid coaches and specialization. Supervision is multi-layered and intrusive.

Thank goodness a blog has found the humor in it all. “FullRideSoon” chronicles the world of a soccer mom supporting her little athletes on their quest for the glory. If only my parents were more like her, I may have become a successful athlete (at some sport that does not require speed or coordination).


Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

I got on the elevator yesterday, and was joined by an African-American man roughly my own age. He looked my middle-aged, middle-class white self over, gave an understanding smile, and said, “Too bad about the Springsteen show getting canceled, huh?”.

Parental Controls Don’t Work – Video Games Try Parental Fear-Mongering

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Go read about the new racing game’s “No Seat Belt” option at