AND MANY MORE
Today marks my wife and my’s 20th wedding anniversary. April 17, 1999. I have never been one of those husbands who forget their anniversary, mainly because we chuckle that every year since 1999, April 17 is warmer than our wedding day.
Our wedding was held at Macken Park in North Kansas City. Outdoors. The day was raw, cold and drizzling. We had a four-piece brass ensemble and about a hundred huddled guests. Every year since? Sunny. Sixties or warmer.
It’s customary, I’ve heard, to ask the happy couple what their “secret” is to stay together so long. I haven’t yet come up with an answer. Our marriage is not flashy or overly passionate. It’s not filled with trips to exotic places or fancy jewelry.
We ended up getting ourselves new desks for our separate offices for our anniversary rather than a trip to Hawaii or England. Sometimes having time apart is one of those keys.
But I guess I’d say this to anyone looking to have a 20+ year marriage...
Picture every morning without your partner. Picture every evening coming home and not having someone to talk to about your day. If you can picture that, then he or she probably isn’t the one.
For me, I simply can’t imagine a day going by without talking to my best friend about my day. Yes, after the first few years, it’s really just a rundown of making sure this gets picked up, or you run by the store for that other thing. But I can’t see my life without it.
Back in the day it was a voicemail. Today it’s text messages. Tomorrow it might be mind mails or something. But it is that basic togetherness that’s hard to describe but impossible for me to be without. Kara is, simply, the one.
It’s easy to have a husband or wife during the good times. But you want to make sure that’s the same person you want by your side during the bad times. Especially when you do dumb stuff. That’s the one you want.
When I asked Kara what her “secret” to a 20 year marriage is she said “humor” and “the leeway to leave each other alone.” Which, I assume, is code for “you can go watch your Star Trek movies, honey.”
There are couples who have done it better and there will be couples who are worse. Truth is, there’s no formula and there’s no code to crack. If she makes you laugh, keep her around. It’s that simple. Even if she snores.
So happy anniversary, Kara. Here’s to 20 more.
(Catch a less romantic Chris Kamler on Twitter where he is @TheFakeNed. If you’re not a Twitter person, you can also find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube)
MAYBE THE MAYOR
Listen, nobody is going to mistake me for a rocket scientist. Let's get that out of the way at the top. But last Tuesday, I sure as hell thought I was driving to my polling place to pick our next mayor. I had researched the top candidates and chosen two that I really liked. Then I was going to enter the ballot box and pick my new mayor.
The only thing is that I got home later and, for the first time, found out that I wasn't picking a mayor, I was picking a mayoral candidate. The actual election isn't until June 18. I had no idea. As tuned into social media as I am, and for as many postcards I got promising all the pot holes would be fixed, I probably should have known. But I didn't.
So we get three more months of postcards and ads and advertisements to pick from two candidates, Quinton Lucas and Jolie Justus. And I am left, frankly, a little bit miffed.
I think that Kansas City's mayor is, largely, not a very powerful job. All of the power in the city lies with the city council. However, as goes the mayor in this town, so goes the spirit of the town. Mayors Berkley and James were my favorites and able to take the city through challenging times. Mayor Funkhouser, to me, was kind of a dud and, so, I feel that the city struggled during those times.
In actuality, very little change was made or lost during those terms, but KC's mayor does have the advantage of a big microphone and a central spot in the Midwest to use it. While Mayor James' term largely hit at a time when Power & Light was up and running, the Sprint Center, the All-Star Game and the World Series happened, I'd like my next mayor (the one I thought I was voting for last week) to work on more infrastructure issues like roads, crime and the airport.
I look for good communicators in my leaders and, honestly, I would've loved to have one of these future leaders to tell me when the actual election is.
I know voters get a bad rap about their indifference in elections. Not even half of the population votes regularly, and it really does become a popularity contest when folks can just say anything they want and get elected. But let's cut the voting populous a break, here. Make voting less complicated. Multiple elections for mayor. The primary system in the presidential election. The electoral college.
Surely there's a better way for the majority of people to say, “yeah, that's the person I'd like to be my next dog catcher.” Instead, I have to vote for dog catcher on Tuesday, then pick my Senator the next Tuesday, and vote in the county auditor runoff race the Tuesday after.
Pick a day. One day a year. Give everyone the day off. Make candidates provide three sentence answers on five core issues with links to actual project plans for whatever they're running for, and let's pick everyone at once.
As it is, I'm stuck here waiting until the final, final mayoral vote in June, then the national election in November, and maybe pick a judge or two in the interim.
It's complicated and I don't have time for complicated. Besides, there are too many pot holes between my house and my polling place. If only I could elect someone to take care of those for me.
(Get more about potholes and elections and whatever from Chris Kamler on Twitter where he is known as @TheFakeNed. You can also find him on Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube)
Do you remember the commercial when you were younger where the man and woman were both walking down the street heading toward each other? The man was eating a candy bar and the woman was, for some reason, carrying an open tub of peanut butter?
The couple collided and his chocolate bar dropped into the peanut butter. This, we were led to believe, was the conception of the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup. “Two great tastes that go great together,” the tag line announcer read.
Jump ahead 30 years to the present day, when the fight for attention spans is short and peoples’ brand loyalty is all over the place. One day, you might have a Coca-Cola, then a 7-Up, then a Starbucks all in the same day. You might stop by Hy-Vee for a salad at lunch, then swing by Price Chopper to pick up some frozen peas on the way home.
Frankly, I don’t pay a ton of attention to marketing and just kind of get what I get most times. That was until I started seeing the same photo of a pizza show up on my Twitter timeline. Most often, the words surrounding it were “wow” and “incredible” and “amazing.”
So, naturally, a big fan of pizza that I am, I clicked into one of the Tweets to see that two local brands, Minsky’s and Joe’s KC BBQ combined to make a burnt ends pizza. This, my friends, was a show stopper. And this past weekend, I am here to tell you that it’s just as incredible as it sounds and looks and smells.
It looked from the parking lot at Minsky’s that I wasn’t the only one who had heard of this and rushed to get the pie. The geniuses behind this can take a bow. I cannot think of two local brands that could partner so easily.
Maybe Boulevard Beer could partner with the KC Water Department to make their version of Bud Light.
Maybe the Royals could partner with Sporting KC to make some sort of new sport - SOCCER-BASE.
Maybe QuikTrip could... nevermind. QuikTrip is perfect in every way.
Since my life changed last weekend after eating this pizza, I’m on the lookout for the next brilliant idea. I’m smushing an In-A-Tub taco with a Smoothie King. I’m looking for one of the boutique shops in Platte City to partner and sell soccer balls from Dick’s Sporting Goods. Come on, people. This genius pizza can’t be the only unicorn we’ll ever see. Put your thinking caps on!
In the meantime, I’m going to start working with Ivan on the Platte County Landmark Dog Park. I’ve saved every one of my columns for the dogs to... um, use. I’ll wait for my check in the mail.
(Get more from Chris Kamler on Twitter where he is known as @TheFakeNed. Follow along with Chris Kamler on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube)
Happy Opening Day, Kansas City. Opening Day means that you've survived another winter; you've survived another football and college basketball season; and, this year, you've survived another Platte County flood.
Listen, I respect you too much to bury the lede here - the Royals are not going to be a good baseball team this year. But I'm also here to argue that you really don't care, and neither do I.
I could tell you all about Dayton Moore's “Process 2.0” and how he wants to re-revolutionize the game with speed and pitching, much like he did in the late 2000's with the core that won back to back AL titles in 2014/2015.
I could tell you that Ned Yost is so invested in this process, that he's sticking around for a tenth season of managing when, really, he doesn't need to - and frankly, probably shouldn't.
I could talk to you about all of the new foods and “signature” drinks at Kauffman Stadium this year. (Signature, simply meaning that it's more expensive.) Or talk to you about how a less successful team means lower ticket prices and more opportunities to see your Boys in Blue.
But I won't. This is going to be a season to just go out and enjoy baseball. We are incredibly lucky to have a Major League team here and whether the stadium is in Independence, or downtown, we're lucky we don't have to drive to Oklahoma City to see Frank Schwindel and the Royals.
The grass will never be more green. The hot dogs will never smell the same. The crack of the bat will never sound more sweet than at Kauffman Stadium. Whether it's Eric Hosmer, George Brett, or Cam Gallagher patrolling the field, baseball is summer and baseball is sacred.
Oh, sure, you might need to buy a program because names like Hosmer and Moustakas and even Salvy won't be in the lineup. (Salvy is out this year due to Tommy John surgery.) You'll want to know the names Jakob Junis, and Hunter Dozier, and Brad Boxberger - who sounds like a 1990's FBI drama. You'll faintly remember about Alex Gordon and Danny Duffy , and Whit Merrifield - but that's about the extent of it.
Frankly, what happens on the field will be secondary to sitting and tuning out politics, and social media, and also politics for three or four hours under the Kansas City sun. As the line in Field of Dreams goes, “it will be as if you've dipped yourself in magic waters.”
Give this a try this summer - leave your phone in the car, buy a scorecard, and TALK to the people you brought to the game. I'm going to give it a try this year and I encourage you to also.
Baseball is the great game not because the players are great, but because it allows you to enjoy it in a great way. Every summer. Nearly every day for six months.
Win or lose. Frank White or Kyle Zimmer. They're here.
(Catch more of our baseball aficionado Chris Kamler on Twitter where he is the designated hitter known as @TheFakeNed. You can also find him on Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram)
BITS AND PIECES
As we rapidly approach my 350th column for this wonderful weekly newspaper, we've covered politics, and family, and silliness. If there's been one constant theme, however, through these articles, it's been my affection and fondness for QuikTrip.
Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the new Platte City QuikTrip and it was like walking into the future. The space. The kitchen. The cleanliness. The roller food. A+ to all involved. (It would've been A++, but it's still in that weird little triangle spot that makes it complicated to get in and get out.)
This new QT comes on the heels of another place that I get unhealthy food coming to an end. Last week was also the last for Kelso's Pizza in North Kansas City.
I've never had a real “true bar” to go to. But Kelso's was as close as it got. The bartenders knew my name and knew that I was usually picking up a pizza to go and that I'd have a beer while I waited. The buffalo heaters were the stuff of legend. Sadly, after 50 years in operation at Northtown and other locations (I remember going to the one in Metro North) they closed operation fairly suddenly.
Kelsos was never known for its swift service and the restaurants in Northtown have always been better at location than swift food delivery, but Kelso's was a great place to watch a Royals game and have a slice. Rest in peace, Kelsos.
And while we're paying homage to North Kansas City, let's not be remiss about giving credit to the Northtown Girls Basketball Team who won the 5A State Tournament last week by defeating Jefferson City 34-25. Platte and Clay counties are certainly no strangers to state titles. You've got North Platte and Platte County's history in football and baseball. You've got Park Hill and PH South's history in basketball, and then there's that one school north of 96th street that is called Staley.
But for Northtown, founded in the early 1900's, this would be the first ever team sport state title - in anything. Likely the reason they didn't win a state title in baseball in the late 1980's was due to me being cut from the freshman baseball team, but let's not take away from the achievement by Chandler Prater, Lajayda Boyland, Coach Jeff Lacy and the rest of the squad on their achievement.
Finally, you can count one more taxpayer to the federal tax rolls -- or at least tax filer. Luckily, I've got the great John Hiner to handle my massive wealth, but this past week, I walked my 16 year old through filing his first tax form. “Why do we have to do this every year?” he asked.
I didn't have the answer. Truth is, there's no real good answer. Maybe Hiner will have one. Best I could come up with is that it's to fund the repair of potholes. Probably. Maybe. He is getting $27 back from the government which I was going to have him buy us some Kelsos pizza. But I guess we can't have nice things - so he'll probably just spend it on a tank of gas at QuikTrip.
(Keep up with Chris Kamler and his massive wealth on Twitter where you’ll find him masquerading as @TheFakeNed. You’ll also find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube)
CYA ACCORDING TO WEATHERPEOPLE
There used to be a Twitter account called @NFLDraftPicks100 that seemed to have an uncanny ability to guess who a football team was going to draft weeks in advance. They knew the Chiefs would not only pick Patrick Mahomes, but also some 5th round kid out of Murray State.
In and of itself, this isn’t a particularly rewarding skill, unless you could monetize the site and help bettors in Vegas place cheap bets before the odds changed on a team.
So the gamblers came to the owner of this site and immediately found his secret. The owner of the Twitter account would spray 10 or 20 different picks out around three weeks ahead of the draft. The Chiefs select Mitch Trubisky. The Chiefs select Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs select Deshawn Watson. And then on draft day, he would delete the two wrong tweets, leaving a three week old tweet “predicting” the true event.
For some reason, I recalled this guy’s genius over the past week while watching the weather. Long gone are the days of “Dan Henry said it would be like this.” And here are the days where Saturday’s weather has nine different forecasts depending on what day and hour of the report.
Let’s consider this, the only magic trick weather forecasters can do is tell you it’s going to snow in a week. This, admittedly, is their only skill. Being able to give me a week head start to know that snow will fall from the sky. From there, it’s gambling.
First off, there are five weather people that work for TV stations now. So you automatically have five times the number of forecasts. Joe Lauria could say on Monday he thinks it’s going to snow six inches, and Gary Lezak could say he thinks it’s going to snow three. Boom. You’ve already dotted two boxes on your weather BINGO card. Then they use the ranges for snow. It’s not six inches it’s 4-7 inches. It’s not one inch it’s “a trace to three inches.” That’s an old roulette trick called covering the field.
The newest smoke-and-mirror trick they’ve come up with is giving you the data straight off the four global forecast services. On Tuesday, I watched one of the stations put up four totally different forecasts about how much it was going to snow Sunday and they literally ranged from one inch to 10 inches. You know what? That “forecast” happened to be right because I got about an inch and a half of snow at my house for two hours early in the morning of Sunday that was completely melted by noon. But Super Doppler Weather Forecaster Person can say he or she was “right on the money” and take a bow.
So here, for the readers of The Landmark, I will submit my Rambling Morons 2019 Spring Forecast that you can take to the bank.
According to the window in my office, temperatures will hit 60 degrees for the first time between today and June 30. This is a guarantee! According to multiple data sources, that temperature on March 28 for the Royals Home Opener will be between 0 and 82 degrees with a possibility for rain or snow or wind or sunshine.
There you go, readers! Another stone cold lock forecast!
(Get stone cold lock weather forecasts and other pearls of wisdom from Chris Kamler on Twitter where he is known as @TheFakeNed. You can also find him on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube)
This column is going to be like the weather... All over the place.
Even though Mother Nature doesn't seem to be cooperating, every year you can feel the stir. I have mentioned here before that I am fairly sure I suffer from seasonal depression disorder. It's not severe, but it's certainly something I struggle with every winter.
It's partially caused by a lack of Vitamin D, and also holiday eating, lack of activity, and just hating winter. The funny thing is that every week when pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, my malaise starts to dissipate.
It's not even because I get overly excited about Spring Training. Sure, I'm one of the biggest baseball fans that I know, but Spring Training is just a bunch of guys practicing baseball. I think it's got something to do with the days getting longer and that being the first sign of Spring for me. This year has been harder than most for whatever reason - I don't know why. But sure enough, last week, you see on SportsCenter the first pop of the mitts and I start feeling like working out again and eating better. Go figure. Welcome back, Spring.
The timing couldn't have been better because I found myself struggling last week while typing in my home office. You see, my keyboard tilted from left to right like a see saw. This is not the standard behavior. But neither is my desk a standard desk. It's a folding table. Very fancy.
Of course, I had a desk at one point in time. But that disappeared when my son decided his video game room needed a makeover. He was kind enough to leave me with that folding table, but it folded in the middle - thus the hump.
Having had enough after a particularly frustrating day of typing and balancing, I went to the furniture store to find one. Now here's where I see my error. I brought my wife. She decided that her scrapbooking room needed a new desk as well.
Then she decided she needed a new chair. Then I realized that I needed a new chair. Then she said her scrapbooking room needed a new coat of paint and a new light along with some curtains.
So this past week and a half, I've been assembling desks, painting, and installing fans and wiring and whatnot.
All because of a hump in a desk. Vitamin D, don't fail me now.
(When he’s not getting a hump out of a desk you can catch Chris Kamler on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. Find him on Facebook, Snapchat or near a baseball diamond)
ANOTHER CHIP IN THE WALL
It is with great thanks that this message reaches you at such a desperate hour. You don't know how relieved I was to hear that you and your family are safe. With the stories that we've heard, we're taking nothing for granted. Since the news was pronounced, we've been sheltered in the basement with only a spotty 4G signal keeping us informed of the news of the world.
The news has been dire, obviously. We've heard about the bands of hooligans and illegals and drug mules streaming across the border of Kansas into the northern counties of Platte and Clay. They carry with them plates on their carriages that even announce for all the world to see that they hail from the County of Johnson or the Dotte. As if we couldn't tell by the way they aren't using their turn signals and driving across the center lines.
From our basement, we can hear rumors of our pantries being overrun by these ne’er-do-weller'. On a recent supply run, the Costco was reportedly nearly out of Pita Chips and the frozen ice cream machine is on the fritz.
These problems didn't exist before “those” people came our way bringing with them their Advil habit and their love of Lawrence. They speak in lies and falsehoods. Even their mascot is fake.
It is with solemn despair that I write this letter to you, our fearless leader, that something must be done.
We must build a wall along the Kaw and along the Missouri, and even down the heart of Brookside. A great wall. A magnificent, clear, transparent, yet impossible to traverse wall. Missourians have been wanting this for decades, but enough is enough. Obviously, with the major rash of crimes in recent weeks, an executive emergency must be called to take funds away from filling potholes and salting streets. Or better yet - make Kansas pay for it. I'm sure Iowa and Oklahoma would pitch in as well. We must focus on what is most important - building the wall to keep Kansans out.
Now I know what you're thinking, and the facts clearly show the damage Kansas does to Missouri. Just look at where severe weather comes from. Kansas. Look at what people have to go through in order to drive to Denver. They have to go through Kansas. Just look at how ugly Olathe is. Now is the time.
Please. Remember us who are barricaded in our cellars. We, the Missourians who voted you into office, and those who remember to yell “ZOU” whenever someone yells “MIZ.”
It is time. Enough is enough. Build the wall.
(Build a wall with our man Chris Kamler on Twitter, where he masquerades as @TheFakeNed. Find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube)
A BALLPLAYER FAILS
Over the past nine months, I've had the honor of knowing a Major League baseball player. A pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers. The story behind our encounter turned out to be cosmically timed.
My son played freshman baseball for North Kansas City High School last year. I helped the team set up a website and as such was doing some research on the history of the baseball program. The school dates back to the mid 1910's, but their baseball program only began in the early 1940's. I knew that Northtown had won district titles in the 1960's and that my brother played on some good teams in the early 1990's, but really had no idea what the history was. I stumbled across a website that listed two graduates of North Kansas City had made it to the Major Leagues. The first name I recognized immediately - Bill Kelso. Anyone who's ever been to North Kansas City has likely stopped into Kelso's pizza bar for a slice or a beer. He played for the Angels in the 1960's and while he has passed away, his Angels jersey hangs over the bar.
The second name was familiar, but for a different reason. Joe Presko Sr. Most Northlanders are likely familiar with the name Presko but only as a construction company or a real estate agent. The article stated he was born in 1928 but there was no date of death. Odd. I checked another baseball resource. It stated he was 89 years old. I set out on a search to find Mr. Presko. Turns out I didn't need to look far.
In the same home he'd lived most of his adult life, Joe Presko Sr. enjoyed opening the mail every day where baseball fans would send him his baseball cards in which he would then sign and return. He always had a supply of chocolate baseballs and Tootsie Rolls on the kitchen table where he and his high school sweetheart Kathleen had been married for over 70 years and entertained their children and grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.
Searching through the yearbooks from the mid-1940's the baseball team's season was never over early enough to be included in the annual, which meant there was very little school history known about Joe Presko, Sr. Luckily, I met a niece who loaned me binders and binders of news clippings and box scores of his days in the big leagues. What was missing, however, was any relationship with the high school after he graduated in 1946.
That would change in October, when he was inducted at the age of 90 into the North Kansas City High School Hall of Fame. I had the honor of reading his introduction in front of hundreds of students who gave him an extended standing ovation. He was presented with a Hornets baseball hat. The first Hornets hat he wore in over 70 years.
It was only months after the research began and, it turns out, it was right in the nick of time. Mr. Presko was laid to rest on Saturday. At his funeral, hundreds turned out. He was an American Legion coach to hundreds of kids including David Cone as well as the patriarch of a Northland dynasty.
But at his core, he was a ballplayer. A scrappy pitcher often nicknamed “Little Joe” because of his diminutive stature and his feisty curveball. And when he was laid to rest, on the table next to his coffin laid two baseball hats - one from the St. Louis Cardinals, and one from the North Kansas City Hornets. The one he received just in the nick of time.
(Catch The Landmark’s Chris Kamler on Twitter as @TheFakeNed)
Thanks for joining the rest of us. Please, come in. Barack brought some calorie free cheese dip in the back, and Peyton brought the veggie tray. Everyone here has contributed something to the party. The McConnells brought some Swedish meatballs, even and John Legend is going to sing here in a little bit. Yes. Just make yourselves at home.
As you know, we get together like this every month to celebrate our perfection. There aren't that many of us around, and we have to make sure we recognize those who truly belong in our club.
We also spend this time every meeting casting aspersions on those who didn't quite make it. As you can see from the program we've handed you, the list is pretty long of those who we will roast tonight. You see, we feel especially entitled to explain who isn't perfect because, well, frankly, we are perfect. In every way.
Our glass houses don't even have so much as a Windex smudge on them. So coming up first is where we start throwing our rocks. Let's look at the world of sports and already it's been a busy year. You know who isn't invited to our party? The referees who worked the New Orleans Saints NFC Championship game. You know, those guys who didn't call pass interference? Sorry, fellas, your party invite has been lost in the mail.
Dee Ford also isn't on the invite list because of... you know... We lined your invitation up in the neutral zone.
Celebrating our perfection is a right that we hold very seriously so that's why we've decided to uninvite Elon Musk because he's starting to creep us out. Our other decision was to uninvite Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - the young Congresswoman - from our parties because she made that music video when she was in college. The nerve.
In fact, we've decided to launch a new investigation into the old yearbooks of just about everyone who is currently a member of the perfection club. It's turned up some really interesting stuff so far. You may still get to be a Governor or a Supreme Court Justice - but you can't be in our Perfection Club.
We get it. Perfection isn't easy. And that's why there aren't that many of us left at the party. We have limited our membership to the Republican party, YouTube commenters, and everyone with a Twitter account. We are the only ones allowed to comment on those who aren't as perfect as us.
Just remember to make the rest of our meetings because we still have some membership decisions to make. The New England Patriot fan base has been asking for entry for a while, and it's getting harder to tell them no. I mean... just look at them and all their success. Derek Jeter certainly has been a strong proponent for their entry.
Now, if you'll excuse me, Kevin Kietzman and Joe Buck are fighting over the crab dip. This happens every month. Enjoy the perfect party.
(Catch Chris Kamler on Twitter as @TheFakeNed and find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube)
For earlier columns, click here