Want to hear the best story ever to include a ventriloquist? There used to be a ventriloquist whose act involved punishing his dummy by putting him in a box, at which point the dummy would "speak" using a skillfully muffled voice. After the ventriloquist died, his family couldn't decide what to do with the dummy during the funeral. One idea they kicked around and finally discarded (probably for the best) was to put the dummy outside the coffin and have him speak in that muffled voice -- much like a voice coming from inside a coffin. We are reminded of this story because today the Puppetry Arts Institute presents an appearance by famed ventriloquist, puppeteer and comedian Bob Abdou. Let's see if he can top our tale, eh? The show is set to take place at the Fairmount Community Center, 608 South Ash Street in Independence. Tickets cost $6, and reservations are recommended. For information, call 816-333-9777.
Friday, September 5
Today is unofficial Wear Weird Shit in Kansas City Day. Four shows featuring wearable art are taking place in one night. There's one at Tomboy (see page 31 for details) from 7 to 9 p.m., and one called Daydream in Lawrence at Liberty Hall (642 Massachusetts), with seating beginning at 8 p.m. and a show starting half an hour later. Floor seating for Daydream costs $15 and includes a preshow party with wine, cheese and jazz beginning at 7 p.m.; regular balcony seating costs $10. The Curious Sofa (329 Southwest Boulevard) is host to a wearable art show from 5 to 9 p.m. Finally, Isabel's (122 West 18th Street) -- which has been closed for renovations for a couple of weeks -- has its grand reopening tonight, with shows at 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 6
We'll go ahead and say it right now, four months before the year is out: The Future Is Going to Throw Up, best name for an art show in 2003. We don't even really know what it means; it just rules. Artists' postcards for the show depict a vacuum cleaner that also features telephone components hovering in front of a colorful abstract painting. In the front right corner is an image of the artists. Sean Semones recoils in horror as M. Andy Maugh -- wearing semipriestly garb -- looks dazed, his eyes black and blue, his nose bleeding. Again, we don't claim to understand it, only to like it. For more where that came from, go to the Telephonebooth, (3319 Troost) between 2 and 6 p.m. today. For information, call 816-582-9812.
Ry Kincaid, the area Barnes & Noble employee who got rave reviews for his self-published book Sexy Cash, is back. Hey, we didn't name the book, and for the record we think credit is sexier than cash by virtue of being riskier. (We'd also like to note that this proactive, starving-artist type embarrassed the crap out of us by putting a byline with a face mid-erotica purchase at an area B&N location, when your friendly neighborhood journalist also happened to be wearing a T-shirt that said "playmate of the year" across the chest in obnoxious, glittery text.) Kincaid's new work, the much better-titled Little Bastard, is a one-act play centered on an imagined conversation between James Dean and his estranged father, which might have occurred when Dean visited his father just before the car wreck that killed him. The play is "short, painless" -- this according to the author. Kincaid gives a 6 p.m. reading of Little Bastard at the Just Off Broadway Theater (3051 Central) as part of the ongoing Playwright Festival. For information, call 816-784-5020.
Sunday, September 7
Today is the second day of the rest of your life, if the rest of your life started yesterday. Also, it's the second day of the national competition for a class of sailboats called Sweet Sixteens at Lake Jacomo in Blue Springs. Cheer the locals today at Lake Jacomo in Fleming Park, just east of I-470 and 291 on Woods Chapel Road. For information, see www.s16.com.
Monday, September 8
The Peanut Downtown (418 West 9th Street) is the perfect location for this week's improv workshops with Dan Izzo, who hails from Chicago. To actually enroll in tonight's class from 7 to 10, you need to have started on Saturday, when the sessions began. But being a fly on the wall and conducting a study on whether students' abilities are inversely or directly proportional to the amount of alcohol they (or you) have consumed? That can be accomplished on a moment's notice. Izzo's credits are impressive. He directed an improvised horror movie spoof that the Chicago Reader described as being "as intelligent as the horror-flick and improv-comedy genres allow." A play he directed was praised by the same publication, which called it "uniformly excellent." For information, call 816-517-2127.
Tuesday, September 9
Henry's Upstairs (11 East 8th Street in Lawrence) is a nice, low-key place, and there's a coffee shop downstairs, making mingling among drinkers and nondrinkers much easier than it is elsewhere. Plus, next door, the Olive Art Supply store (15 East 8th Street) also is a gallery, currently exhibiting a show called Playdate with Jill K and Brian F. For information, call 785-331-4114.
Wednesday, September 10
The first step is admitting you have a problem: You can't dance. Sometimes it's hard to ask for help. That's why experienced dancers in various disciplines are there for you at venues all over town. Fedora's 210 Club (210 West 47th Street, 816-561-6565) has free tango lessons at 7 p.m. followed by open dancing at 8. Would-be-dancers can get some pointers at the Camelot Dance Academy in Lawrence (1117 Massachusetts, 785-331-2227), making use of free swing and salsa lessons from 6:30 to 7 p.m. Dancers can stick around and strut their new stuff at the $5 open dance, which features music by 2 Ta Tango from 7 to 10 p.m. For a more group-oriented groove, Denim and Diamonds (1725 Swift, 816-221-7330) is where you can fulfill all your line-dancing dreams with free country-dance lessons from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Please remember to dress accordingly.