Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Self Serve

I am on record as HATING self checkout lines at the grocery store. One, I don't feel I have to do their job for them, are you going to pay me to check out my groceries?? Second, the damn things never work right. Three, most people are totally befuddled by them.

A recent remodel of our near by Sun Fresh Grocery (or Gay Fresh as a friend calls it as it is a well known gay crusing spot) has introduced the dreaded things. I had 3 items this PM and noticed that the lines were busy as usual in the noon hour. The 15 items or less line had 4-5 people in it and next to it was an empty do-it-yourself line. At the same time I was entering the express line (usually a misnomer), a lady bravely entered the self check line. She had some grapes and few other things. As I was paying for my items after the 4-5 people ahead of me got through, the infernal machine was still telling her to "remove the unexpected item from the bagging area". Poor thing was doing everything but dancing to get the voice to stop. A clerk was trying to unravel the mess for her. As far as I know, she still may be there. Funny thing is, she looked like an intelligent lady, certainly able to navigate her way to the store and pick the items she needed, so you would think she would be able to handle the machine. However, that assumption does not take in consideration that the machines have minds of their own and do what they want.

I was a long hold out on self serve gasoline and will try to be on self check out. Seeing that full serve (anyone remember that?) or "mini-serve" where they just pumped your gas for you is rare as hen's teeth, I am sure that soon the grocery checker job will not be on the list of hot jobs.

I intend to help keep them employed for a bit longer.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Google Wars

Google, being the driving force in search engines these days, seems to make no one happy. In order to get a stronger foothold in the vast Chinese market, Google chose to censor the search results of its Google China search engine. In protest,a friend of mine, along with others I am sure, pulled his Google Adsense service and removed Google links from his websites. Oddly, just a few weeks earlier Google received mounds of praise for standing up to White House requests for information on who searches for what.

Of course Republo Boobs like Rep. Chris Smith R-NJ, heard of the House Subcommittee on Human Rights in typical hypocrisy is calling for a hearing to examine the operating procedures of US companies in China. Specifically, Smith accused Google of "collaborating with persecutors". "It is astounding that Google, whose corporate philosophy is "don't be evil"; would enable evil by cooperating with China's censorship policies just to make a buck," he said.

What is more astounding is the same people who want to require Google to give up information on who searches for what make a big deal of this because it is in "evil" China. To refresh your memory, Google refused a Bush administration demand for a peek at what millions of people have been looking up, a request that underscores the potential for online databases to become tools for government surveillance. And as a tool to resurrect a law that the Supreme Court overturned,making it more difficult to access "sites that are a harm to children", such as GLBT sites, "pornography", "anti-family"...you know the routine. Google rightfully refused. So it seems, The Bush administration and China really are on the same page.

Google is in the middle of the old rock and a hard place. Their rationale in China was to gain a foothold in the market and work within to make changes. Supporters argue that even with some things censored, Google will give Chinese web surfers access to more information than what they have now. Some of the same things censored in China are the same things the Bushites want to censor: gay sites, pornography, family planning, and dissident sites. Their battle with Bush is over the right to privacy, which is under constant attack from the Bushites.

Google's stated corporate philosophy is "Don't be evil". This then leads us to debate what exactly is evil. Maybe switching on one filtered light will begin to illuminate the world. One thing for sure, people make better decisions with better information.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Mozart, Wagner and Beethoven

As part of the continuing Wolfie Mania for Mozart's 250th birthday, the Kansas City Symphony presented a concert last night featuring one of Mozart's final 6 symphonies, The "Linz" # 36. The concert also included a rare performance of the Wagner "Siegfried Idyll" and concluded with Beethoven's sunny Symphony # 4.

Young conductor James Gaffigan substituted for Klaus-Peter Seibel, a seasoned veteran and long time guest conductor of the KC Symphony at the last minute due to Seibel's wife's illness. Gaffigan, according to a conversation I had with Maestro Stern, is a conductor to watch as he has a promising career.

The Linz showed off the newly found confidence of the orchestra. Razor sharp precision and ensemble with the right blend of emotion served the Linz well. Gaffigan brought out the "landler" dance rhythms of the Minuet; I heard a pre-echo of Mahler in the movement. Gaffigan highlighted the energy bound in the notes of this work, one of Mozart's finest symphonic accomplishments.

As an aside, this work was written in about 5 days time. From Mozart's letters as printed in the program notes Mozart wrote: "When we arrived at the gates of Linz," Mozart reported to his father on October 31st "a servant was waiting there to conduct us to the palace of old Count Thun [father-in-law of one of Mozart's Viennese pupils], where we are still living. I can't tell you how they overwhelm us with kindness in this house. On Thursday, November 4th, I am going to give a concert in the theater, and since I haven't a single symphony with me, I am up to my ears writing a new one which must be finished by then." Thus a symphony was born.

Gaffigan unfortunately was lost in the "Siegfried Idyll". A slack, emotionless performance, devoid of any drama and contrast. Now this is not your father's Wagner with braying horns and charging warriors, but a more intimate chamber piece composed by Wagner for his wife Cosima's birthday in 1877. However, even the most chaste performances have some sense of drama, phrasing with tension and release. This was background music, and performed way too slowly. I went home and immediately played Guido Cantelli's wonderful 1953 performance.

Gaffigan was back in form with the Beethoven 4th. He seemed to be more comfortable with quicker, more technical music but was struggling to bring out the pathos and tension of slower tempos. Again the strings especially were right on target and the performance was a success.

May we hear Gaffigan again in a few years with some experience under his belt (he is 26)as I am sure there is a great talent emerging.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Wolfie Mania

It is Wolfie mania today. On January 27,1756 Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Gottlieb Mozart was born in Salzburg Austria. No doubt he was a genius, and his musical prowess legendary. He wrote his first symphonies before turning 10 and his first significant opera at 12. He made comic opera a serious art form. He created at least 626 musical works despite an early death at 35.

According to news articles, performances of his works were planned in cities ranging from the expected New York, Washington, Prague, London and Paris, to Tokyo, Caracas, Havana, Mexico City, Taipei and here in Kansas City as well, where the Symphony is performing the Linz Symphony.

But what of this Mozart? To me a lot of his music is not really distinguishable from other music of the era. Maybe a bit more finely crafted, a touch more refined but not all that adventurous.

How many of the 41 Symphonies stand out? Really just the last six (and The "Little g-minor" #29) with the 40th and 41st being the most sublime. Mozart wrote 22 operas, however only 4 (Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni and Cosi Fan Tutte)are true masterpieces. The Horn Concerti are wonderful, but not really adventurous. Add the Requiem (even with Sussmeyer's horrid completion)the Clarinet concerto and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and that is my list of Mozart I enjoy hearing.

So much of Mozart has been turned into ear candy. Sweet, little pieces that no one complains about. Yes it is pretty, yes it is crafted well. Just like a Toyota, Mozart won't let you down and will take you on a nice, no-surprises ride.. but with no fun and few thrills. Haydn or Beethoven, only a few years removed, offer more thrills and drama; just like another major birthday boy this year (100 years), Dmitri Shostakovich. There is a composer that takes you on a journey...bumps and all.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Princess Turns 18

My baby is now 18. WOW! I can't believe it. Yes, my youngest Maria just turned 18 on the 25th. We, her mom and my son Daniel, took her out for dinner on Sunday in Columbia at the infamous Olive Garden. She is a lovely young woman, possessing a fine alto voice and snagging a scholarship at Central Methodist University in Fayette, MO. Way to go Princess!

She always loved to sing, I remember lots of times her singing as a little girl at church, always in the kids choir and loving music. Daniel is musical too, I may not have spawned offspring that will make it rich (well, maybe... but the odds are against them) but they will be heard

18 years went so fast, making me older in the process. But a lot richer for sure. Her mom and I divorced when she was about 4, meaning I missed a lot of her growing up. I lived close for awhile got to be a part of her childhood, but I know missed out on a lot. I hope as she matures, we can grow closer and share our similar love of music. As he matured, Daniel and I discovered we could be very good friends and share a lot of good times and lots of sushi. Like me, I think he still does not know what he wants to be when he grows up, hope he never does.

I know she shares a lot of my views as she is a member of the Jefferson City Young Democrats. There is hope yet for the future. She also shares my intense dislike for Boy-Gov and his fashion-challenged wife. She recounted a story of him at a Martin Luther King celebration, talking about his budget. It is bad when an 18 year old knows you are a stupid ass. A lot like her mom as well, stubborn and opinionated, but strong willed and sure. I don't think I have to worry too much, but I will.

I always called her Princess, I guess I can't anymore. She has outgrown that.... and that is sad. But somehow, I think daughters are always dad's princesses.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Teeny Bit of Common Sense....

There seems to be (GASP!!) a bit of common sense in Jefferson City. The Republican Legislature and Boy-Gov Mattie Blunt has, quoting the St Louis Post-Dispatch, "engaged in a free-for-all of measures against sex offenders this session". Sex offender legislation is easy, who is against it? Therefore, the legislature runs roughshod over people, creating crimes and ruining lives when not necessary. We need only look at the case of Matthew Limon in Kansas to see what an out of control Republican can do to hurt others and make a name for himself.

State Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee's Summit decided enough is enough, almost amazing for a Republican. His decision was influenced by prosecutors who warned thatall the bills filed this year could make it harder to obtain convictions when there was real necessity.

The Post article states that "In a hearing Monday night, Bartle said he was against measures that would impose tough mandatory sentences for nonviolent sex offenses, such as consensual sex involving a teenager."

"I will stand in the way of a bill that creates a mandatory 25-year minimum for an offense that involves an 18-year-old boy having a petting encounter with a 16-year-old girlfriend," Bartle said in an interview. Now a 16 year old Boyfriend is still a differnt story here in Republoland. But progress is progress.

Monday, January 23, 2006

One Man's Yum is Another Man's Yuk

The birthday girl Maria wanted to go out to dinner for her 18th birthday. She wanted her brother, her mom and me to go along. As guest of honor,she got to choose the restaurant and decided upon Olive Garden. "There are a number of good Italian places in Columbia", moaned Daniel, "but she decided on Olive Garden. She thinks if it is advertised on TV, then it is good." It can't be that bad I thought. It had been a while since I had been there so I was looking forward to seeing what was new and how it had changed, if any.

The parking lot was full for a Sunday eve, but we got right in. Either everyone came in separate cars(could be, we had 3 ourselves)or there are a lot of employees.

Daniel and I had to wait for the ladies to arrive so we ordered wine from a large but undistinguished list. Appetizer was in order, but alas no real antipasta of sliced meats, vegetables, cheese and such was available. We chose a pricey $8.25 sampler of calamari, stuffed mushrooms and fried mozzarella. It took forever to come with some excuse that the mushrooms were started but not broiling or something. I was disappointed in the whole affair. A small serving of fried calamari, 2-3 mozzarella sticks and some mushrooms.

The main thing I remember about the place was their salad and bread sticks. The salad was a big disappointment, Lori Anne claimed hers had no dressing at all. It was served in a big bowl so I have to assume it was all at the bottom. The bread sticks were ok, but too soft and doughy.

I looked at the menu and found nothing I wanted. So I was last to order. "I see nothing I want", I moaned. "What are you looking for, steak, hamburger??" our over eager waiter asked, thinking I was some sort of slack-jawed oaf. "No, some real Italian, where is the veal piccatta or lemonata? Any interesting pastas?" I chose salmon.

Daniel ordered some chicken dish and got something else, Lori Anne had the crab and shrimp ravioli which like everything else was pricey and not large in portion. My salmon was uninspired and overcooked. Only the lemon from the appetizer plate helped to make it palatable. My salmon came with a few broccoli florets and some red bell pepper. It was dull.

The rest of the meal was not worth mentioning. Even taking off the wrong chicken order, the bill was still $75 for 4. Not bad, really, but I expected more for that.

I'll continue to avoid the place. If you want a better pasta place in a "family" chain restaurant setting, "Pasta House Company" is a lot better.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Royal Interview

Transcript of Puggles' interview with Larry King. She rarely grants such insights into her Royal World!

Larry King (LK): HM, good to see you as always, may I say you are looking wonderful.
Puggles, QOP, SRA, ETC (HM): snorrrrt THANKS WARRYS I's been exercisings and watchings what I eatss!
LK: HM, Are you going to be appearing at the Krewe of Barkus parade in St Louis this year?
HM: Nos Mys schedules does nots allows it. I Orders ALL PUGS in St Woois to go to the Parades. It is funs...
LK: Pugtona will be your next Royal Appearance?
HM: YES PUGTONA!!!! YAY!! thats in Junes. I Loves PUGTONA! ALL Pugs should gos to Pugtona. I will arrives on Fridays and be there the WHOLE PARTY! Last years, my schedules did not let me stay the wholes times.
LK: You recently took on a new title "patroness of the Royal Pugharmonic Orchestra", tell us about that, Your Majesty.
HM: I WUV musics and in the Palace we has a MAESTRO, a real one who conducts an orchestra, the Kansas City Symphony. He is MR Stern and I likes him. So, wif WPUG radio (All Pug...All The Time) I created for him his owns orchestra to plays for me at the Palace and for all PUGS to hear on WPUG. He plays Pugtoven, I likes that.
LK: An orchestra for pugs, how wonderful!
HM: We needeeds one for a longs time! Theres a lot of snorts in it...
LK: HM, one of your most demand roles is being Supreme Ruler of Alaska, what has been accomplished recently during your reign?
HM: I stoppded the Governments from getting oils in the Arctics because I hears that it hurts mooseses. I WIKES moosesses and Squirrleses too. So I saids NO and they didn'ts dos that. My ROYAL Command Stopped that.
LK:And for this year?
HM: All PUGS in Alaskas will now gets the Moneys from the state likes peoples do from the oils. Mary Jos will likes that.
LK: Some people are concerned that as Supreme Ruler of Alaska that you have never been there and that you moved the Capitol of Alaska to Kansas City.
LK: sorry, HM to upset you, we'll take a break.

Part 2 of HM's interview:

LK: We're back. HM, what is a typical day like for you at Puggingham Palace?
HM: Warry, it is fabuwous. I gets up and gets breakfasts promptlys at 7AM. Thens I goes and inspects the Royal Garden, you can sees Pictures of the ROYAL GARDEN in the PugVillage Gallery in my ROYAL Gallery. Thens I comes in and assert my thrones! When my daddy leaves, I then tends to the business of my ROYAL domains.. I weads faxes and emails and the ROYAL dispatches from my ambassadors. I thens checks out all the newses at PUGVILLAGE and at the Palace. Then I naps untils lunch. I usually listens to WPUG (All Pug... All the Time). Somestimes in the evenings I goes to the swimming pools and watches the waters, I don't likes to swims much.
LK: You enjoy PugVillage, HM?
HM:Yes it is the bests! I Loves Mothers PUG and Dante and of course we all worship Millie the Goddess and Prince Chancellor and Princess Ellie and ALL PUGS!
LK: Mardi Gras is approaching, I hear it is one of your favorite holidays.. but you had a problem with beads.
HM: I wefusess to bring up that whole embarassings things. I accidentally eated the beads. They hads to comes out sometimes you know..
LK:HM, Greenies or Bully Sticks?
LK: Vegemite or Marmite?
HM: Is not goings to gets involveds in thats, QUEENS do nots lower our ROYAL selves to gets involves in arguments.
LK: Any plans for this evening or future travel your majesty?
HM: Afters this I am going in the LIMO to Targets. Tomorrows Is going to COLUMBIA to sees my Royal Subjects there and a privates dinners with Maria and Daniel. Theys my humans sister and brother, its MARIAs birfday!
LK: Happy Birthday Maria, and thank you HM for your time this afternoon:
HM: snoorrrrrrt

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Big Brother is watching.... really

The search engine giant Yahoo has admitted it gave the paranoid Bush White House access to its databases this summer.

Google however has vowed to resist the Bush's demand to know what people search for.

Why?? The self righteous desire to keep kids safe from Porn.

The White House and the Department of Justice issued subpoenas to Yahoo, Google and likely a few others wanting to snoop into our privacy. It said that it needed the information on what people searched for in order to help revive online child protection laws. The Supreme Court already struck down such a law. But of course, who in the White House listens to law when they disagree with it? Here is a good summary of the story from the Times in the UK.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Her Majesty, the Queen of Pugs

I,like many people have found the most loyal, loving and understanding friend to be a member of the canine species. My dear Puggles, like most pugs, is spoiled rotten and gets everything she wants. She deserves it, as she returns the favor over many times.

Did you know she is Royal?? Here is her full Royal Name:

Puggles Duchess Windsor, Queen of Pugs, Supreme Ruler of Alaska, Princess Baltimore, Grand Duchess of Kansas City, Duchess of Illinois, Duchess of Clinton, Countess of Kansas, Baroness Pugtona, Royal Order of the Greenie and Treat, Grand Order of the Scrunchie, Knight Commander of the Royal Order of Kibble, Royal Patroness of the Royal Pugharmonic Orchestra

But I usually call her "Pug" or HM (short for Her Majesty).

She ran unsuccessfully in the notorious Governor Recall election in California, losing out to Ahnold. She ran on the Livertarian Party ticket. Her platform was expanding Veticare, she was pro treat and pro liver. Her budget plan called for increasing revenue through high surcharges on cat food and cat litter. Naturally the cat lobby and cat people worked against her.

The great people of Alaska realized that California's loss was their gain and she was invited to rule over Alaska, which she does in fine style from Puggingham Palace in Kansas City.

Her Majesty wishes to send you her greetings and thanks you for reading daddy's blog.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

One Singular Sensation

"A Chorus Line" had the slimmest plot a musical had even seen up to that time,(1975) but it had an interesting idea: a group of dancers desperately auditioning for eight jobs on the chorus line of a new musical. These dancers represent the thousands upon thousands of dancers and actors who toiled in the background. It went on to become one of Broadway's longest-running shows. "A Chorus Line" won every prize the theater could offer, including the Pulitzer and nine Tonys.

"A Chorus Line" threw out almost every convention the American musical had carefully built up. It had no scenery beyond some mirrors, no real costumes save leotards and a few spangles for the finale and no star. But the show captured the dreams of anyone who wanted to make it to the top,just as the dancers in the show.

I was familiar with the show its show-stopping numbers and the general concept, but I had never seen the show. The chance to see it at the community based Center Season Theatre Series at the Kansas City Jewish Community Center was welcome. The fact that my friend Jeff Stevens was playing a mean bass in the orchestra was an added benefit.

I had a problem with the show. Maybe I was the only one who ever had but the first act left me cold. This was not the fault of the able players, mostly 20 something college and high school thespians, but of the concept. The long line and numbing banter was just more than I could handle. Not having a lot of experience with the show, it could have been pacing but the pacing seemed good to me. The monologues and disconnected ramblings of the wannabe dancers just seemed to go on too long. I did not develop much rapport with the dancers.

Or did I?? By the second act, I was rooting for some of them to be picked and felt a bit of tension in my heart as Zach the producer picked his 8 lucky dancers. I was pleased that some made it, and disappointed that some didn't. The dancers became more human, it was revealed that Cassie was a former girlfriend of Zach and Paul delivers a heart wrenching monologue about his past as a drag performer and his parents' reaction and acceptance of it. In 1975, that must have been stunning, the impact is lessened a bit 31 years later.

The cast was uniformly good, the dancing great and the sound ok, with some miking gaffs but nothing out of the ordinary. My biggest quibble and one shared by more than a few, is that Zach was stationed in the audience in back of the theatre. You heard his "Voice of God" voice over the sound system but you didn't see him. I noticed a man walking around at one point and thought a patron was getting up. It was Zach. It was supposed to make it seem like the whole theatre was the stage and he was simply in his usual spot. It didn't work. We had no clue he was there, and no clue who he was until he went up on stage in the second act. Could have been handled better.

A Chorus Line is certainly worth the $18 I had to pay to hear Jeff play (that was for his benefit). I heartily recommend it.

And kudos for the Jewish Community Center for hosting the play in the wonderful White Theatre. The Center Season series has both "family" and "mature audience" plays that appeal to a broad range of tastes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


I have mixed reactions to the Chrysler Imperial concept car being shown at most of the US auto shows this season. Based on the best selling 300c, the "new" Imperial is imposing but...and herein lies the problem for me...not an Imperial.

The name is the problem. Chrysler Corp struggled for years to establish the marque as a luxury chariot to rival Cadillac and Lincoln. They succeeded sometimes, failed most of the time. From the Air Flow Customs, the Dietrichs and LeBarons of the 30's, the extended length Chryslers of the late 40s and 50s, the fabulous Forward Look 57-59s, the revival of 1964, the return to an extended Chrysler in the 70's to the failed returns of 1981 and 1990, Imperial always stood for Chrysler's most luxurious autos.

Underdogs all. The 30s were outshadowed by the multi-cylinder Packards and Caddys. The 40-50s could not shake the "Chrysler" Imperial image, thus making them a step down from Caddy and Lincoln. The 1957 briefly boosted the marque above Lincoln but it slowly sank down. Even the brilliant 1964's could not last against the fast charging Caddy and rising Lincoln. Sinking to a luxo-New Yorker in the 1970s the marque ended in 1978 as a New Yorker Brougham.

But that was not the end, a revival of a luxo coupe occured in 1981. Debuted in the dark days of Chrysler's most serious brush with death, the car was totally out of sync with the drive towards more sensible economy cars. Styling was contoversial and the market response underwhelming. Not many more than 13,000 were made in 3 years, the vast majority in 1981. The story goes that new Chysler President Lee Iacocca wanted to stop production but the car was too far along and was introduced to try to recoup some of the money spent.

From 1990 to 1993 the Imperial was again another extended length Chrysler. Based off the K-body New Yorker, it looked small and guilded against the Caddys and Lincolns of the era. A bit more successful, about 41,000 were built in the 4 model years. And that was it.

Chrysler denies that the Imperial concept is for production. Reaction from the public is key. I am not sure, to me the Imperial needs to rest. Too much baggage. But then again, what better name for the most luxurious and special Chrysler.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pug Pic

I added a "Site Meter" to the blog a couple of days ago. I did it for extremely selfish reasons. I wanted to see if anyone was reading the damn thing! I have had 3 others besides me to visit. Someone from KC(I think it was Barb), someone from Maryland, and someone from The Netherlands. Most have been me checking up on the posts and such.

I was thrilled to see some activity. I enjoy writing the blog and really am amazed anyone pays attention. But it makes it worthwhile if someone reads it now and then.

It is 7PM here in KC and I have not left the house except to take Puggles for a walk. Hey, it is time for a pugpic! Enjoy!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

From Shaun

From one of my inmate pen friends. I hope this human and powerful posting from his blog Jon's Jail Journal will open some eyes to the fact that not all inmates are sub-human trash, infact the vast majority are not.

Shaun, he used the alias "Jon" for a while to escape the eyes of the prison system, writes his blog longhand and posts it to his folks in the UK. They maintain his blog, as inmates have no internet access.

Final Visit from Parents 12/31

Mothers Against Arpaio

Saturday, January 14, 2006


So you all do not think I am a snob and only go to classical music concerts (I am seeing the Royal Philharmonic tonight...) the following is my review of the show last night at Record Bar, a nightclub here in Kansas City.

I read with interest in the last Pitch that "Bacon Shoe" was playing on Friday. Bacon Shoe is a leader in the new genre of Nerd Rap or Nerdcore. Nerdcore hip hop, or geeksta rap, is a subgenre of hip hop music that is performed by nerds, and is characterized by themes and subject matter considered to be of general interest to nerds. Now, Bacon Shoe is probably a little too raunchy for most nerds, but the guys on stage "Toine" and "Lethal-D" certainly act like nerds. Actually I saw "Toine" in the crowd before their show and he looked and acted like any youngish 20 something fellow.

Toine begins his show by doing calisthenics, you know stretches, jumping jacks, leg lifts and such dressed in a hooded Nike sweatshirt. Lethal-D wears an indescribable head band and a large medallion of the Lexus automobile logo.

On the bacon is the star of the show, Mr Ruggles. Mr Ruggles is a kind of fucked-up dog-like thing. A huge monster headed fellow with perpetual underbite fangs, he stands quietly in the back and cooks bacon. Yes, he does. And when it is done, he takes it and distributes it to the crowd. Sometimes he stands and shakes his head, sometimes he gets beat up by Toine and Lethal-D. He always gets his furry head scratched and petted.

It's easily the weirdest group in town. Bacon Shoe is supremely entertaining. Lethal-D's rhymes are grotesquely and raunchily clever, Toine's improvised shout-outs and dance-floor breakdowns are hysterically half-witted, and Mr. Ruggles' bacon is greasy and hot. What more could you ask for?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Speaking of Annoying

I read with glee that in a St Louis Post Dispatch poll, 67% of those polled had a negative reaction to Mattie "Never Made a Mistake" Blunt's (aka Boy-Gov) State of the State message. 28% outright thought it horrible, 27% ignored it, 12% expected better. Even without the 27% ignore, 32% had favorable (including a non committal "it was ok")while 40% rejected it. Only 16% outright loved it. Must have been his family... Branch, his infant son (what a name....) probably went "goo goo da da" or was that the GOP Legislators??

Blunt gleefully increased spending on Prisons (like Walgreens, one on every corner)and State Workers, but left intact his steep cuts that hurt the poor. Democrats said the governor was handing out goodies to various programs but had failed to make up for the deep cuts.

Rep. Rachel Storch, D-St. Louis, compared Blunt's approach to "using a bulldozer to take down a forest, then taking credit for planting a few trees." That's our boy.... God help us...


Don't be annoyed by this ok?? Further example of why we need a revolution (oops just annoyed someone I am sure, better get ready for prison). With domestic spying ok according to our Fuhrer (oops double annoy)I am sure I will be targeted.

Thanks to Steve for annoying me with this information...arrest that man!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


In my hometown, West Grand Ave proceeded grandly westward as its name implied. Up until the 70's sometime, it ended in a graceful S curve blending into West Center Street. Center Street proceeded out of town, past the street to my house, past the creek and corn fields until it T'd with Wycles Road. The great plan was to eventually extend Grand westward and meet up with Center Street at the foot of the hill down from my house. Although that would have been interesting, it really served no purpose. The planned development of the Community College on W. Center never came to fruition, so the plan languished and now is apparently forgotten. The only vestige of this plan is the 2-3 block extension that now T's with Home Park Ave, the S curve now partially gone.

To make this extension they had to demolish Jimmy Edwards' house. When the S curve existed, if you went straight you'd enter a gravel lane that led to an old, rundown and somewhat spooky house mostly hidden by a tangle of trees and weeds. Poor Jimmy. I wonder what became of him? A strange fellow he was. And sad I am sure. Jimmy was thrust into our middle class grade school world of vacations, second cars, 2.5 kids and a dog on a cul-de-sac. Jimmy's lot was different it seemed. I don't know of anyone whoever went to his house. We were afraid to. It had to be dirty, or at least haunted. We were sure his parents (or whoever took care of him) were decidedly beneath us and likely evil.

Jimmy yearned to be a part of us. He longed to be "normal". I remember he was always trying to impress us, using his active, escapist imagination to concoct anew and more fanciful tales. He excused his falling asleep in class once because he had been up late. "My brother took me to Paris in his Rolls Royce". We all tittered with childish laughter as Jimmy looked annoyed and bewildered. Jimmy, although he new about Paris, (yes France, he said, not the Paris in Illinois) and Rolls Royces, failed to remember that one could not drive to Paris in France not in Illinois. I wonder if in reality his drunk father had been beating and kicking his mother or was bailed out of jail....

Jimmy struggled mightily to be like us and to be liked by us. Looking back nearly 40 (!) years, I realize this now. The me of today would have reached out to him, but the me of then rejected him like the others. He invited me one day after school to go to his house and make Santa Clauses. I declined, fearing I'd be mugged or shot or.....something.

Jimmy, I wonder where you are. And I am sorry how I treated you. Is it too late to be friends?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Representative Democracy??

Our friends at Wikipedia define representative democracy as follows:

Representative democracy is a form of democracy and theory of civics in which voters choose (in free, secret, multi-party elections) representatives to act in their interests, but not as their proxiesƒ; i.e., not necessarily according to their voters' wishes, but with enough authority to exercise initiative in the face of changing circumstances. (Emphasis added)

Yesterday I received an email from HRC asking me to write my senators to oppose the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. I have a strong feeling that I 100% disagree with Mr. Alito on many things, as it is clear Bush has chosen his nominees based on loyalty and ideology rather than qualifications. Thus Harriet Meiers. So I complied with their wishes.

But in a representative democracy they can vote and do what they want, "not necessarily according to their voters' wishes." It was, in my case a waste of time. Senators Talent and Bond do as they and their leaders wish and not what the voters wish. Thus we remain in Iraq, despite a large #, and some polls a large majority of voters (58% CBS) expressing their desire to withdraw. That is why polls suggest unease with plans over "reform" of social security, show less than 40% of Missouri citizens think Boy-Gov is doing a good job, but he says in an interview he has never made a mistake, unease over legislation to ban gay rights and marriage despite considerable support and growing support for backing away from the death penalty.

Thus we have Politicians lapping at the trough of lobbyists, screwing their constituents for a little cash or influence. Jack Abramoff is more powerful than "We The People". No wonder Bush survives, and Roy and Mattie Blunt, and Sheriff Arpaio in Phoenix.

Less than 1/2 the US citizens registered to vote even bother to vote. I am sure a large number don't even bother to register. I disagree but totally understand. Like writing our senators, it is becoming an exercise in futility.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Extremity of Contrasts

Another Xanga post:

Maestro Stern and the Kansas City Symphony continued their impressive season last night with the first concert in the year long celebration of 250th birthday of Mozart. Two of Mozart's masterpieces, the Symphony # 40 and the Eb Major 2 Piano concerto were featured along with a new concerto by Melinda Wagner "Extremity of Sky".

Stern was joined by the renowned Emanuel Ax (and his wife Yoko Nozaki for the 2 piano concerto) one of the most consistently brilliant and successful pianists of the last 30 years. Ax is at home in Mozart and the classics as well as the more specialized French repertoire and is a champion of many new works, including the Melinda Wagner.

The Eb was a perfect opener, and enthusiastically received. Mozart wrote a true 2 piano concerto, with both pianists having parts of equal bravura. Stern showed his prowess at more intimate chamber music styles with the smaller classic sized orchestra of strings, oboes, bassoon and horns only. The interplay between the two solos was breathtaking and technically clean.Yet the fantasy and even moments of drama were fully realized.

The "Extremity of Sky" Concerto by Melinda Wagner (who shares my exact birth date of February 25, 1957) was an extremity of contrast to the Mozart. Written for Ax and the Chicago Symphony in 2002, it is one of a growing body of contemporary works written under the shadow of 9/11. Wagner watched the smoke from Manhattan from her home in New Jersey and dedicated the work to a fallen firefighter and friends killed in the attack. The title (a phrase from "King Lear") is meant to reflect the troubling time of the concerto's creation in 2001-2002.

The long work uses every 20th and 21st century sound one can imagine, frequently to great effect but sometimes to extreme. Echoes of her teacher George Crumb could be heard in the 3 sharp chords heard throughout the piece (straight from "Echoes of Time and the River) and the celesta, used to recreate the sound of "a child's slightly out of tune music box", is reminiscent of Crumb's use of a toy piano in many of his works. To my ears, Wagner failed in her stated mission to create a piano concerto that showcased the piano while incorporating it into the orchestral fabric. The piano was frequently buried too deep in the dense textures. And please Ms Wagner, easy on the Bartok pizzicati... 2-3 are fine. Ax played it as well as could be expected. I noted at the rather abrupt and somewhat unsatisfying end that Stern and Ax looked at each other as if to say "ok we got through it". So I am not convinced it is a successful piece, although I found the slow movement "Prayer-Chain" atmospheric and moving. Overall a worthwhile piece to hear but one that may take some repeated hearing to digest.

The Great G-minor Symphony # 40 of Mozart is one of the crown jewels of music. Ever fresh and relevant, this stormy piece looks forward to Beethoven and beyond, standing in contrast to the more elegant and refined Concerto that began the program. Right from the very familiar opening (Stern even quips that it is a cell phone ring tone. I know, I have used it!) the tragic restlessness and energy is established. To me the quaintly named minuet is a foreshadow of the more turbulent scherzos of Bruckner and dare I say the inspiration of the most rousing of all scherzi, the Shostakovich 10th? The genius as he was, Mozart let the tension up a notch in the more relaxed trio of the minuet. A flowing yet intense reading of the Andante and an energetic yet still tragic tinged finale closed this masterpiece. I have heard this piece is played as if it were just another tuneful, classical era Symphony. Stern correctly brought out the drama and the tragedy inherent in the piece. The orchestra and Stern deserved the enthusiastic applause.

We'll hear more Mozart this season. We can hope as wonderfully played as this concert.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

As Slow as Possible

(this was my last Xanga post reprinted here)

I love this...
By the standards of this performance, it was a dramatic solo turn.
A new chord was heard yesterday in a six-century-long organ performance of John Cage's Organ2/ASLSP ("As Slow as Possible"), according to the London Times.

Cage's 1992 piece originally lasted just 20 minutes (and was played on a piano). But a group of musicologists decided several years ago to take its title at face value, and initiated a 639-year performance of the work on a church organ in Halberstadt, Germany (the length was chosen to match the age of the organ).

The performance began in September 2001 with the inflation of the organ's bellows, followed by 18 months of silence. In February 2003, a chord was heard, and in July 2004 two notes were added. The new chord—an A, a C, and an F-sharp—will last until 2012.

According to the Times, the performance is being carried out with the help of sandbags placed on the keys.

A New Start

I had it with Xanga. Not with them particularly but with their members. Apparently Xanga is a kid dominated forum and I was tired of kids making obnoxious comments. I have found that a lot of bloggers (me included) thrive on getting comments about our posts. It makes the time taken to post seem worthwhile. But when a comment about the John Cage piece "As Slow as Possible" I posted for today in the wee hours of the AM says "UR Queer, this is for kids", I think it is time to let the adolescents have their fun and I find a more mature blog. I am not into maintaining my own site so I came to Blog Spot. So look for me here now, the Xanga posts will be saved and moved here eventually. I paid a subscription for Xanga premium which runs out in July.

So here I am, in a new neighborhood.