Aug 11 2009

Sandcrawler Steve

One of my more comically miserable memories involves Star Wars nerds, and lots of ’em.

The year is 1997. My friend Dave calls and says he knows this guy named Steve who was trying to put together a big fat Star Wars convention in Kansas City, and the guy needed artists to help. I had tons of sci-fi sketches and the project sounded pretty kewl, so I said I was in.

Soon, our friend Brenton, another artist and Star Wars fan, was in as well. We made an appointment to meet Steve at his house, this guy that was going to put this amazing convention together. Brenton and I rode up together, and Dave rode with one of the other guys who was invited.

Brenton and I followed the directions we were given, and we kept driving into seedier and seedier neighborhoods. We found the house number. While Steve did live in a house, he more accurately rented the upstairs. We walked in.

People frequently caricature Star Wars fans as poorly-dressed nerds living in their mom’s basements, surrounded by scads of expensive action figures and other toys and collectibles. That would be a dishonest and unfair characterization of our experience, as Steve did not live in his mom’s basement.

Soon, we were joined by other fanboys, and anyone who would have accidentally walked into the room would have concluded that we were getting ready to play an epic round of Dungeons & Dragons, not planning a major creative business venture. The three of us were starting to be a little apprehensive, but hey, you never know, give it the benefit of the doubt, it might turn out to  be amazing.

It didn’t.

Steve gave us his spiel: he was going to organize a giant Star Wars convention in Kansas City, fly in all the original stars, and present George Lucas with an honorary Oscar.

I know what you’re thinking: Why would George Lucas want an award from nerds? Why would Harrison Ford want to be involved, when he has distanced himself from so many other Star Wars events? You’re thinking this is the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard.

No it’s not; you haven’t heard the finale.

The convention was just Phase 1 of Steve’s Awesome Plan. Phase 2 was this: he was going to take the proceeds from The Convention and move to Nevada, set up a Star Wars collectible store. In the desert. Built to resemble a life-size Jawa Sandcrawler.

No, I’m not kidding. This idea was the conflation of crossing the Rubicon and jumping the shark at the same time.

We all decided to go get some lunch. Dave went with Steve, and Brenton and I left and went to Taco Bell, where we drew cartoons of Sandcrawler Steve and howled in laughter at his Sandcrawler store.

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Apr 8 2009

Review: Steel’s Used Christian Books

Steel’s Used Christian Books has one of the absolute best selections of any used bookstore I have ever seen. Not only do they carry religious books of several orthodox and non-orthodox Christian denominations, as well as complete other religions.

They also carry books on history, mythology, and various other odds and ends. When I was there I picked up a dictionary of mythology, a book on Christian symbolism, and Boswell’s biography of Samuel Johnson.

However great the selection is, though, you will be hard-pressed to find any bargains, at least as far as used book prices go. There were several very nice books I considered, but did not purchase because I could get the same copy new for the same price or less at christianbook.com.

The guys who run the store are pretty laid back, and played Led Zeppelin the whole time we were there.

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Mar 20 2009

Boom!

My dad was a welder and a torch-cutter. Years ago he was working night shift a place in the Kansas City area.

One of the pranks the guys would play on each other is to make a little bomb out of a plastic bag filled with acetylene and oxygen, put a masking tape fuse on it, set it behind someone and then light it. The guy would be working away, and then BOOM! The guy would jump, and everyone would have a good laugh at his expense.

One year he had to work New Year’s eve, and as the night wore on the guys got more and more loopy, and they started making bigger and bigger bombs. At one point, they saw one guy head off behind a large stack of girders with a bag the size of a large pillow.

A few minutes later, they were back to work welding when KABLAMMO!

The aforementioned guy with the giant bag came staggering out from behind the girders. His cap had been blown across the room, his hair was standing up, and he was holding himself where guys don’t usually hold themselves unless something uncomfortable has happened. Like, say, a pillowcase full of flammable gas exploding in close proximity.

The other guys found out quickly that he had also shattered his ear drums.

“I DIDN’T EVEN LIGHT IT,” he yelled. “I DIDN’T EVEN LIGHT IT!”

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Jan 1 2009

Review: Habashi House

My friend Kaleb introduced us to a new place to eat called Habashi House, located in the City Market in Kansas City, Missouri. The place is amazing.

We always get the same thing, which is the lunch special consisting of a gyro accompanied by either rice, hummus, or salad. Coffee and hot tea are free. All this for $5 plus tax.

First, the gyros: they may look small, but they are so good and will fill you up quick. The regular gyro is packed with meat and cucumber sauce with just a few tomatoes and the softest flat-bread you ever had. The first time I was there I ordered the regular gyro, but received a chicken curry gyro by mistake. That was one of the best mistakes ever made: it was amazing. I likely never would have tried one, but I have ordered it since.

The rice is yellow-colored and quite good. Heather said is probably saffron rice, but I just have to take her word for it.

Before I mention the hummus, I have to tell you this: I don’t like hummus. Or at least I didn’t think I did. The only other time I had had it was at the Jerusalem Café, also in Kansas City, and I didn’t care for it at all. The hummus at Habashi House is amazing. It has some kind of oil in it, and some kind of spices ground up on top, and it is so smooth. And as Kaleb showed me, you can just dip your gyro in it when you run out of pita bread.

The lunch special comes with free coffee or hot tea. Though I love coffee like an art student likes to smoke, I don’t like it with a non-breakfast food meal, so I tried their tea. I don’t know what kind of tea it is, but it has a slight minty flavor to it, and it is the best hot tea I have ever had.

As I said you can also get a salad, but I didn’t care for that at all. No matter what side you order, you get a kalamata olive (watch out for the pit). I don’t like olives of any color or creed, so I give mine to Kaleb.

The place is clean, well-lit, and smells wonderful. They also have a grocery next door where you can buy all manner of dried fruits, spices, herbs, candies, and beverages at very reasonable prices. The Middle-Eastern lady who takes your order is always very nice. Parking is easy.

In short, an amazing meal for fast-food money, with a great atmosphere. Find ’em online at http://www.habashihouse.com, but even better just hop in the car and go there (check the hours first, of course).

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Dec 16 2008

I Hate Jackson County, Missouri

Not all the time, just in the winter.

It baffles me how smaller, less populous, and far less wealthy counties can keep their roads clear but Jackson county cannot.

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