Saturday, September 30, 2006

Pastrami Musings

I didn't eat breakfast today, so the Aunt Jemima stayed on the shelf. I did indulge in lunch, my favorite lunch meat, pastrami. Nothing like a good pastrami on rye with mayo (my own home made) and good crisp pickles... Anyway, here are my musings for the day, this time under the influence of pastrami.

1) I live in a nut house. The everyone is in fight mode at the Towers. They are divided over some legal addendum to the deed to the building that designates the balconies as repsonsibility of the owners. Just to be jerks, two owners are refusing to sign. Therefore, the dungeon will remain a hole in the ground. Rich people are so petty.

2) Puzzling is the accident in Brazil involving a Gol Airlines Boeing 737-800. The plane is two weeks old with less than 200hrs on the airframe. It supposedly collided with a new biz jet being delivered to the US from Brazil's Embraer company. The 737 crashed, the Embraer landed but no one can confirm if it was involved or not.

3) Tonight is the opening night at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Madame Butterfly is the fare. I am going and not working the Ingram Room as usual. Scott has an extra ticket. Look for a full review.

4) Our cold snap is gone, it is warm this PM and supposed to be in the 70s-almost 90 this week. Fall and all its mess has been postponed a week or so.

Damn I love pastrami.

Friday, September 29, 2006

State of Denial

Yes, we need to fight terrorism. We need to fight it on moral and intellectual grounds. We need to get a hold on "religion" again and put it in its place, out of politics and guiding policy. Too many, both Christian and Muslim, feel it is ok to kill for some heavenly reward. 100,000 (or some such figure) virgins await the martyrs of the Muslim world. The Christian faithful wait for a holy genocide with those believing as they do saved and everyone else condemned to untold horror. We are going about solving this problem the wrong way. War and violence will not solve a damn thing.

I had these thoughts while reading the New York Times article on Bob Woodward's new book State of Denial. Unfortunately the NYT will likely make you register(for free)to read it but I highly suggest you ignore the inconvenience and read it. It confirms a lot of what those of us not fooled by the hypocrisy and hyperbole have known for a long time: Bush is a fucking idiot.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Yuk Time

Remember this from grade school; "What are signs of fall?", the teacher would ask, giving the class a homework assignment to either bring in or describe a sign of the season. The teacher hoping against hope to grab our attention for a few minutes at least.

Walking out back of the Towers this AM reminded me of that assignment, for Fall is here, damn it.

I am not a fall person, although I know many who are. To me fall is messy. All the dang leaves and acorns from the huge oak in the yard of the house I grew up in took every Sat and Sun AM to clean up. We never got them all. The skies turn gray; the rains make the leaves and the accumulated flotsam and jetsam all slick and muddy. Everything begins to look shabby as the plants cease to bloom and start to wither. Yuk time.

It was cool this AM as I let Puggles out back. The wind whipped around the building making me shiver in my t-shirt, I had graduated to sweat pants as well, shorts becoming a thing of the past. A cool front had come through, it had rained and everything was damp. The geraniums are looking ragged, the hibiscus leaves curl and the blooms withhold their glory in protest. I noticed the trees on 38th beginning to turn brown and yellow. A dark red leaf was stuck to the cushion of one of the chairs.

Winter will arrive soon. At least the snow covers the gloom occasionally. I wouldn't mind the fall or the winter if they were not so messy.

Yuk time indeed.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sir Malcolm Arnold

In this conformist, Toyota-fied world, where we expect everything to be slickly packaged, reliable and safe, British composer Sir Malcolm Arnold was definitely a breath of fresh air. His humor, his pathos and technical ability were often seen in the same piece, and often in the same passage. Arnold died this past weekend at the age of 84.

Although his creative period had ended, I feel a sense that we have lost a great voice, one that will be appreciated more as time passes.

Arnold wrote in about every musical form imaginable. He scored 132 films including Whistle Down the Wind, The Bells of St. Trinian's, Hobson's Choice and Bridge on the River Kwai, for which he won an Oscar. In more "serious" forms he wrote nine symphonies, more than 20 concertos, including ones for harmonica, recorder, guitar and organ theatre music and a musical. He was knighted for his service to British music in 1993.

Arnold's personal life however, was marked by tragedy, alcoholism and mental illness. He suffered repeated bouts of severe depression, made several suicide attempts and was hospitalized for a long period receiving electroshock therapy. He was also chronically alcoholic. Both of his marriages fell apart straining his relationship with his children. Sir Malcolm was well known for his ill temper and rude behavior; even his most ardent supporters contend he was difficult.

Many called his work uneven yet few composers compose masterpiece after masterpiece. The same thing could be said of Shostakovich. His works were filled with humor (especially his signature piece "A Grand, Grand Overture" which included parts for floor polisher, 3 vacuum cleaners and 4 rifles), inventive sounds (he was a master at writing for brass, especially trumpet which he had played professionally)and a great sense of rhythm (the set of Dances from the British Isles are a perfect example). I had the privilege of hearing his "Philharmonic Concerto" played live no long after its creation in 1976 by Haitink and the London Philharmonic. The passage for harp and snare drum is fresh even 30 years later.

I invite you to explore the website devoted to Sir Malcolm and perhaps discover this wonderful composer. SIR MALCOLM ARNOLD, CBE

RIP Sir Malcolm, you deserve it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Another Era Ends

This was supposed to be posted Monday. However, a visit from my former neighbor led to a long dinner and two bottles of wine. 'Nuff said.... ~ Pato

I don't normally eavesdrop on my neighbors, but Mr P next door is a little hard of hearing and thus has his TV and answering machine at top level. I had just come down the elevator and was opening the door to my little office which is next to his door when I heard the familiar voice of our across the street neighbor Angela:

"They closed it", she exclaimed, "he closed the restaurant... just like that. Call me."

I called Angela in disbelief...

"Angela, they closed Nichols???"
"Yes, it is true, they called a staff meeting for today and said when they closed the doors on Sunday eve, that was it. No notice, no party, no nothing."

Nichols Lunch, the greasy-iest of greasy spoon diners, open 24 hours except Sunday late eve and Mondays closed for good after being in operation since 1921.

Located at 39th and Southwest Trafficway, Nichols was home to locals, retired folks, rich and poor, drag queens from the next door drag bar, and other colorful characters. Eggs and toast for breakfast, a hamburger after the late shift or coffee and pancakes after a night of bar hopping, Nichols Lunch was always there. Sometimes the more well heeled would refer to it as "Cafe Nicole" or in the evening "Chez Nicole". My neighbor who thinks nothing of jetting off to Boston or New Orleans to eat, had breakfast there almost every morning.

There were signs, Angela said, that the end was near. "He was not fixing anything, the place needed work and nothing was being done."

Rumor abounds that the gay bar Missie B's is expanding, the owner of Nichols Michael Bay owns the building so that is possible.

Whatever the case, another institution like the Brookside Dime Store has bit the dust. Is the Town Topic or Bryant's BBQ next??

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Two Thumbs Up, One Thumbs Down

I managed to catch 3 of the selections of the Kansas City Gay and Lesbian film festival this weekend, two of which were admirable efforts, one was total mess. 2 out of 3 is not bad I guess.

The first was the moving and well done Saint of 9/11. In the New York September 11 attacks, the first official casualty was fire department Chaplain Mychal Judge, who had just given last rites to a fallen firefighter. Father Judge was far from your average priest. A gay and out going Franciscan who delighted in wearing his Fire Department regalia and his simple robe and sandals and a recovering alcoholic, Judge remained closeted among the firefighters while being an active member of the gay community. In one of the most poignant tributes, a friend recalled when AIDS patients were treated like lepers even from Doctors and Nurses, he hugged and kissed them without fear, telling them they were still human and loved. The film traces his life in Brooklyn, his family's roots in Ireland, his early involvement with AIDS work and some of his travels. The image of firefighters carrying his limp body from the Ground Zero site is referred to as "The American Pieta". A moving, never preachy and well paced documentary that is well worth ordering from the site above or catching at a theatre.

The second hit was tonight's Small Town Gay Bar. Director Malcolm Ingram (who arrived late from his plane with the copy of the film to be shown) provides a humorous yet sometimes sobering look at the struggle of deep south rural gays to create a place where in the words of the song in "Rent" "we can be an us instead of a them". The two bars profiled and some of the now closed bars are located with in a stone's throw of Donald Wildmon's virulently anti-gay American Family Association headquarters. His son is interviewed along with the legendary Fred Phelps, baldly showing their hypocrisy and ignorance.

The owners and customers of the bars speak from the heart about their constant struggle to live their lives in a hostile land, and how these bars nby their very presence provide a sense of community. Funny, serious and ultimately uplifting, I would not be surprised if it emerges as the People's Choice among the films shown.

The miss was Broken Sky (no website found), a 2006 opus from Mexico. Two beautiful and lusty university students, Gerardo and Jonás, meet on campus and fall passionately in love. They enjoy a torrid romance until Jonás becomes obsessed with another boy and drives Gerardo away whereupon he meets another fellow.

Fine. Boy meets boy, romance is great, romance cools, they explore other relationships but find they can't totally leave the other one. But in this case,the movie goes on for 2 1/2 hours with no dialogue, maybe 5-10 works spoken. Music and some narration provide a bit of focus. The dance goes on too long, and with a predictable end. Maybe if it were an hour shorter it would have worked. But the pouting and bouncing in and out of bed with each other, even when they hated each other (supposedly) seemed pointless. In the end no one cared and no one I spoke to liked the thing. I suppose the highbrow Bi-Costal types think we are too stupid to understand. Maybe we are smart enough not to play the game. As a non-documentary a film you may have a chance to see but don't bother.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Saturday Pancake Musings

It's that time again.....

1)Cooler weather has descended on Metro KC for the forseeable future. It got to 80 yesterday, but the humidity was low and the breese strong. The rest of the week is a lot cooler and today woke up to a cool light rain. Long pants have been pulled from their hiding place, sandals are at the back of the shoe row in my closet. The hum of the AC is missing from my ears. I am wondering where to put all the hibiscus plants for the winter and it is almost time to place the order for the holiday wreaths and poinsettias. The Heartland Men's Chorus has started rehearsing for our Holiday concert. Snow will be here soon. Some love the fall, I hate it. I am a spring person myself.

2)Maestro Stern returned for a whirlwind visit on his way somewhere. I got to see the baby pictures, Miss Hannon is cute. There was one pic of daddy holding her, the look on his face priceless. Can't wait to see her.

3)Check out the Philadelphia Orchestra for a limited time free download of a recent performance of Beethoven's Symphony # 5 with Christoph Eschenbach conducting. Downloads of other pieces are available for a small charge. This is the future folks.... and as usual I am behind, I do not have an ipod and fear if I did it would get lost, they are so small.

4)The KC Gay and Lesbian Film festival is on this weekend. I think Michael and I are going to see "The Saint of 9/11". The story of the gay priest who was the NY Fire Department Chaplain who was killed in the attack. The rest of the films look pretty boring.

5) The pancakes were good this AM. For doing her a favor, Kellee upstairs gave me a bowl of fruit and some flowers, so I had fresh strawberries along with Aunt Jemima.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Inmate Drama

My inmate penpals are wearing on me. I know, thankfully not first hand, how miserable they must be, even when they put on the best of face. I know I have a couple who have little outside support. But the drama and now some games are wearing on me.

One pal is constant drama. I think he brings a lot of his troubles on himself Every letter is how everyone is out to get him and make him miserable and deny him everything. I just feel so helpless to intervene. I try to rationalize that just writing and listening can help. But the constant turmoil is hard on him and me.

Another pal, which Texas moved around from prison to prison and then back to his original assigned unit, now is asking for $$ every other letter or so. This last one was for $50 to send to another inmate's family so this inmate can get him in to a program in a leather shop. Not going there.... now instead of writing a friendly chat letter, I have to say no and wait to see if he decides not to write again. The letter before that was for some $ to get items that he lost in the moves. I tell all my pals, money will come at Christmas and on birthdays, anything else do not ask. This pal has gone quickly from me excited to get a letter to "what does he want now?"

I have not heard from two in a while, one of which is probably hacked that I would not pay for an online ad at another site after I placed a free one for him. The other one has a lot of support so I guess I am low on the list.

One is getting released in a year. He is great, but has tons of family and friend support. This his letters are nice but usually just a short page or so. At least he is not asking for something.

Sigh... I know it is not easy to be pals with an inmate. I think why bother? Then I remember why when one of them writes this in a recent letter:

"All friends, whether they know it or not, help me and all of us here just by being there, listening to us and loving us and sharing their lives with us. It gives me hope. It helps me remember that we are indeed human beings, loveable human beings, and not just thrown away, forgotten trash. The system and the guards want us to think that and treat us that way. Thank you, and thank all for loving and caring for me and for anyone in the system, thank you all for even caring about us. That means more than you'll ever know."

Thus I continue.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I got a tooth pulled today. Woo hoo! Not exactly what I wanted to do but it was overdue. A crown broke off a while back and after looking at it, the dentist decided that it was not worth saving. A crown for 25+ years and two root canals had taken its toll. I put off doing anything about it but it finally got to hurting and was infected. Greg got me an appointment at the Dental school. Cheap for us many Americans who have no health care coverage. Thanks George...

I really do not mind going to the dentist, I find it all rather fascinating. I asked the Endodontist in St Louis if I could watch the root canal, but he could not get the mirror to cooperate. So I finally got to watch one in Nicaragua last March.

What sends me into orbit are the x-rays. I can not handle the procedure. Drill, pull scrape.. that is nothing. When they approach me with that damn plastic plate. I gag. Big time. I have scared dentists and hygenists to think I am dying. I throw up, I gag, turn pale and clammy and pass out. I am cursed with the gag reflex from Hell.

Today was no exception, and I even warned the student. At the xray lab, I had quite the audience. They did a panorama x-ray that I guess is not as detailed. That seemed to be a bit of an issue but there was not much hope otherwise.

The rest went smooth and the pulling and all did not phase me a bit. I joked with the student that I knew the procedure and she better do it right. She did.

I guess I'll have to get a bridge or implant now. Can't be toofless ya know! Just no more x-rays.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

News From the Pond

Sorry for the short and non-ranting posts of late, but I have been busy here at the duck pond. The rehearsals for the Heartland Men's Chorus are in full swing... ah! Christmas in September! I have received many a strange look when I am driving around on a warm, fall day with my windows rolled down, the strains of Christmas music coming from our rehearsal CD. Going to be a complex show this year, and we have a special show in Dallas in October with the Turtle Creek Chorale. ROAD TRIP!!

Tomorrow, early, I am off to the UMKC Dental Clinic to get my now abscessed and hurts-like-hell tooth pulled. JOY! Maybe one of the students going to Nica will be my dentist.

Other than that, the cold weather is settling in for fall here in KC. Supposed to be 45F (7C for my Non-US friends) tonight.

I did not do the switch to Linux as I posted a while back. Some complications and my reluctance to lose a lot of my data. Some day....

Pato maybe a bit bitchy tomorrow so watch out!

Monday, September 18, 2006

International Pato

I got a hit on the blog today from Andorra! As a geography geek, I even know where Andorra is and that the major city and capital is Andorra La Vella.

Been a slow day, so this is about as exciting as it got....

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Religious Wars

First off, let me state that the Roman Catholic Church and its leader Pope Benedict (I can't help but still think of him as Cardinal Rat-slinger(sic)) are not among my favorite people. They have oppressed people, destroyed families and individuals more than any pornographer or abortion provider could ever think. So it is somewhat ironic that I support The Pope in his battle with radical, out-of-control Islam.

The Pope, in a speach, referred to Islam as violent and inhuman. The Pope referred to criticism of the Prophet Mohammed by 14th century Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus. The emperor said everything Mohammed brought was evil and inhuman "such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". Using the terms "jihad" and "holy war", the Pope said violence was "incompatible with the nature of God".

Well, if the shoe fits.... Repression of women, executions for everything, harsh laws, hypocracy, the refusal to separate religion from state, Muslims killed for converting to Christianity. "Peace-loving" Palestinians dancing in the streets in celebration of the butchery of 9/11. Jews routinely portrayed as monkeys and pigs in Islamist media. Many Muslins publically (and the majority privately) accept the glorification of homicide bombers. Women stoned for adultery and gays and lesbians hung in the streets. Islam is hardly sweet,soft and cuddly.

The Pope has apologized.

The apology of course didn't appease the blood thursty Muslims, educated that everything is insulting to them.

Violence indeed erupted through much of the Muslim world. Palestinians have attacked churches in the West Bank and Gaza. An Italian nun was killed in Muslim controled Somalia in retailiation. Peaceful Islam at work. Where is that apology?? Don't hold your breath, we will never hear it.

I just keep clinging to hope saner minds will prevail. And maybe some day we'll stop killing each other over fairy tales and 100,000 virgins.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Saturday Pancake Musings

More musings over Saturday Pancakes:

1)Pluto has suffered the ultimate humiliation. Not only has it's status been demoted, like a man entering prison it now has a number instead of a name: 134340.

Pluto, you will always be a planet in my heart, even if you did mess up astrology and Holst's orchestral suite "The Planets". Astrologists must be gleeful in their "I told you so" attitude as well. Welcome to the yard 134340.

2)Today in 1977 "La Divna" Maria Callas died at 53 of a heart attack. For years, Callas was romantically linked with Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis; their stormy affair being the stuff of legends. The relationship ended when Onassis left Callas for Jacqueline Kennedy. Heartbroken and her once glorious but controversial voice a shambles, Callas quietly spent her last years in Paris. Fans adored her dramatic acting ability and her imposing stage presence yet acknowledged her voice was not as well trained or sublimely beautiful as Tebaldi, Scotto, or Sutherland. She is, however, revered above all as the Voice of the Century.

3)From the sublime to the totally gross, I saw the worst movie I ever suffered through. Michael wanted to see "Another Gay Movie" so we did. Gross, pointless, stupid.... if I had a ride home, I would have left after a few minutes. Don't even bother.

4)In an attempt to go Microsoft Free, I am having the Linux operating system installed on my computer this PM. Simple, cheap and stable... kind of how I like things...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Pato News Bulletin! Welcome Hannon Agatha Stern

From The Maestro:

Finally she is here, the lovely daughter of Michael Stern and Shelly! I recieved this note via email this PM:

"Two weeks and four days past her "due date" ... and right on time ­
Early Wednesday morning, September 13, 2006 in New York City,
we welcomed with love into our lives
Hannon Agatha Stern
7lbs 13 oz
Shelly & Michael"


Common Sense

When common sense triumphs over ideology, the people win. Sadly, this is not possible in the highly charged atmosphere of US politics under the Bush regime. The "debate" on stem cells is a perfect example. Losing sight of the miracles that process could achieve, opponents hypocritically scream about the right of embryos while the living die and they sanction government murder in the death chamber.

Thankfully, in "less developed" countries needing the guidance of Papa Bush, common sense can win over ideology. The debate that "this is what you need, but you can't have it because I say it is wrong" thankfully did not materialize in a recent tragedy in Nicaragua.

In the poor northern area of Nicaragua, home brewing of alcohol or "moonshining" by groups is very common. The people can not afford bottled liquor, even though to us gringos Nicaraguan liquor is dirt cheap. On September 3rd, a large batch, or possibly several batches of moonshine was tainted with methanol. Methanol, a toxic industrial alcohol often used in antifreeze, can cause blindness and death even in small amounts. Bootleggers sometimes add it to strengthen their illegal brew. So far 45 have died and over 600 are deathly ill, overwhelming Nicaragua's fragile health system.

The Nicaraguan Ministry of Health (MINSA) has done all it could to treat the victims and international aid has poured in.

In a bold and common sense move, MINSA's Director Margarita Gurdián has authorized an exchange program. People who have some of the illegal, potentially lethal liquor can exchange it for bottled, government inspected liquor, no questions asked.

"It is a special plan designed to eliminate methanol in the departments of Leon and Chinandega. Personally, I do not want to give this liquor, because it is not the function of Minsa to distribute liquor, but we want to safeguard the life of the possible users of this methanol tainted liquor" stated minister Gurdián.

When the AIDS crisis hit or when teen pregnancy rates rose in the US, instead of distributing condoms, birth control and safe sex material, the government cried "stop fucking"! Like that is going to happen. Minister Gurdián knew that people were going to drink and likely to continue drinking despite warnings. "Stop drinking, it is a sin" will fall on deaf ears and more would die. She took bold action. The time for education and Alcoholics Anonymous is for later.

So refreshing to see common sense in a government, instead of hypocritical morality.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I love the word miscellaneous, it is so useful. So here is some of Pato's Misc:


Just as infamous and mind numbing as the events of 9/11/2001, this is the 5th anniversary of Jerry Falwell's and Pat Robertson's blaming 9/11 on Godless Democrats, Gays and Lesbians, Pro-choice supporters and the ACLU:

JERRY FALWELL: And I agree totally with you that the Lord has protected us so wonderfully these 225 years. And since 1812, this is the first time that we've been attacked on our soil and by far the worst results....what we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if, in fact God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.

PAT ROBERTSON: Jerry, that's my feeling. I think we've just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven't even begun to see what they can do to the major population.

JERRY FALWELL: The ACLU's got to take a lot of blame for this.


JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur...

They later half-assed apologized... the sincerity was suspect.

Glass Tit:

My friend Shaun in a personal letter to me, relayed his feelings about how prisons maintain control over their population:

"It seems keeping people locked down, glued to their TVs adds to the smooth running of these places. Could it be that they consider educated people a threat? The TV is a babysitter in the form of a great glass tit."

What a perfect description of the role of TV. Considering the programming of the networks is so sub-par. From placing the kids in front of it, to placating prisoners to Mr. and Mrs. America buying all the garbage put out by the networks, we do suck on the great glass tit. It isn’t called the "boob-tube" for nothing!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Space Walks Can Be Dangerous!

Atlantis Crew Loses Its Nuts

Didn't know space travel was that dangerous!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Season Opener: Kansas City Symphony

The 25 anniversary season of the Kansas City Symphony, born from the ashes of the failed Kansas City Philharmonic, has begun in fine fashion with a festive opening weekend highlighting how far the orchestra has advanced under the direction of Michael Stern.

I am blessed to have Maestro Stern (I always call him Maestro) as a neighbor so I received a call on Wednesday from him. He and his wife Shelly were still in New York waiting impatiently for their now overdue baby.

"It will be announced that I will not conduct the opening concerts" he said after I asked about he and Shelly.

"Yes, I know"


"The Symphony put out an email and I am on the list...(Maestro does not realize that nothing escapes me....) David Robertson is conducting. How did you manage that?!"

"I called and he said ok"

The power of connections!

Anyway, the Symphony sounded wonderful; especially the confident winds both spiky when needed and also able to sing. Oh what 10 more players would do to fill out the slightly thin but highly polished string section. More of a reflection on the Symphony's budget than anything else. With soaring ticket sales, maybe we can accomplish that.

I was thrilled to hear David Robertson, music director of the St. Louis Symphony, who has lit a fire under that ensemble, promising to bring it back to the glory days of Leonard Slatkin. He, like Stern, is an energetic conductor and excellent communicator. Robertson is a little less animated than Stern but both get the needed results.

Wagner’s Overture to "Die Meistersinger" substituted for the KC premiere of Chen Yi's "Si Ji"(Four Seasons). That work will be performed later. I was unfortunately seated under the Lyric Theatre's balcony, thus the orchestra sounded a bit brass and wind heavy. The cellos sawed away but I could barely hear them. It was a solid and energetic performance, worthy of a season opener.

Taking advantage of the necessary reduction in players on stage, I and my friend raced upstairs and scoped out some balcony seats. The acoustics being so much better.

I was thrilled that the Symphony programmed Dvorak’s exquisite and rarely performed (or recorded for that matter) Symphonic Variations. A great piece to demonstrate the solo and ensemble playing of the Symphony winds. Tuneful, rhythmic and a bit schizophrenic, the piece must be difficult to conduct, thus contributing to its neglect. Robertson highlighted the ensemble playing, kept everything moving and negotiated the ending fugue with panache. They were rewarded with a standing ovation. My friend Michael who loves the Dvorak Symphonies but never heard the Symphonic Variations was totally won over.

I had heard of but never actually heard (even in recording) the Canadian pianist Jon Kimura Parker. His resume is impressive and I am ashamed to not have known more about him. However, I will be following him more closely after his ravishing and accomplished traversal of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto # 1.

The wonderful sound of the new Steinway helped Parker to communicate a fresh and never overwrought performance. As I like my pianism, it was not flashy and fast but full of depth but with a great sense of forward motion. Unlike the flashier performances, there was no let down after the famous dramatic beginning. Each note and section of the movement was full of passion and forward momentum.

The central Andantino Semplice was also not a boring afterthought to the towering first movement. It was played as prayer interrupted by the central trio celebrating life and lyricism. Amazing.

Parker and Robertson took off in the finale, again dispelling the notion that it pales in comparison to the first movement. Putting caution to the wind, the performance was athletic including the final chords from the piano, which resonated and shook the piano, bringing the piece to a glorious close.

The performers were treated to another ovation and the audience was treated to a lighthearted but technically amazing solo performance of "Scenes from An Italian Restaurant" by Billy Joel. A sinful bon bon after a fabulous meal.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Beware The Dreaded Nose Cone-er

Almost every Saturday my mom and I would head across town to visit her parents. My dad had office hours on Saturday AM and then usually played golf in the afternoon and thus had little time for us. I relished the time as a small boy, as everyone left me alone to escape into my little fantasy world. The early sixties were safer times for sure.

I was a car nut almost at birth. The big shiny chariots completely fascinated me. I loved everything Detroit could produce and know I could tell a 1962 Chevrolet from a 1963 model before I could reliably count to 10. Grandma's was especially rich car hunting grounds as she lived on a busier, through street near downtown. The traffic was comparatively sparse on my isolated cul-de-sac on the edge of town.

Lost in my world, I would run up and down the street, in and out of the alley ways and old gravel lanes, remnants of where coal trucks would dump the coal for the houses built between 1915-1920. I would keep a look out for the latest and most exotic car to come by and pretend I was driving one. An Olds Starfire, any Cadillac, big honking Buicks, flashy finned Chryslers, all were fabulous. An occasional foreign car like a Mercedes or an English Ford might make an appearance. It was orgasmic!

But occasionally fear would strike. I could hear the beast roaring westbound down Macon Street, the brick pavement shaking every body-on-frame bolt. I would see it! PANIC! My little mind and legs running.. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! A NOSE CONE-ER! I would dive into the hydrangea bushes along side the driveway. Once it had passed and assured I was still alive, I would venture out again, waiting for a big Lincoln to tickle my fancy.

You see, I was deathly afraid of 1950-1951 Studebakers.

Look at them, that nose cone looks evil and possessed. The 1950's nose, with the slanted, squinty slots and bulbous nose looked just like Mr. Magoo. But, I knew the secret. The evil and strange drivers (one had to be a little different to own a Studebaker) could control the nose cone and shoot it at unsuspecting little first grade boys. The cone would find you, slam on to your face and cover your nose and mouth, smothering you in chrome. It was an evil plot only I knew. Despite my attempts to convince Mom and my Grandma ("the little pecker is fucking nuts" she would shake her head...Grandma was nothing but earthy) no one else would believe that 1950-1951 Studebakers were possessed.

As time matured my brain and sent the rusting hulks to the boneyard, I lost my fear of these rabid machines. However, last night I picked up a back issue of Collectible Automobile out of my collection and there on the cover was a damn Nose Cone-er. I could not find a hydrangea bush fast enough.

Guess I am not as grown up as I thought....

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Stench Permeates Kansas City

Around 3:30 I noticed a horrible smell in the air. The sky had turned dark and green. The scream of sirens and the drone of helicopters broke the tranquil late summer silence. It was a scene out of Star Wars; only a different evil emperor had made his entrance. Bush had arrived. Sucking money out of the rich ones for his lackey Senator Jim "No" Talent. He was (actually still is as I write) just down the road at the mansion of Tom Ward, the owner of Russell Stover Candy. Add them to your list of businesses to avoid. Talent has been a faithful lackey but he needs more money to buy the election. Daddy Bush will oblige.

On a more positive note, it seems ABC is doing some rewrites on its Fake=umentary on 9/11. Here is what I wrote to KMBC KCMO:

The "Path to 9/11" movie is flawed and a blatent attempt by some to sway the minds of viewers. ABC claims the movie is "based on the 9/11 Commission Report." But numerous 9/11 Commission members have said the miniseries actually directly contradicts their report.

This is not a partisan issue. Numerous conservatives – including Brent Bozell, former Reagan aide Bill Bennett, author Richard Miniter, and others – have said that ABC should correct the factual errors in the series.

ABC has marketed this miniseries to thousands of high school teachers, urging them to have their students watch. American high school students shouldn't be taught the history of 9/11 using a politically slanted, factually inaccurate docudrama. Scholastic dropped its support, realizing it was broadcasting lies and misrepresentations.

By putting this program on the air, more viewers will see it than will ever read the 9/11 Commission Report. ABC is abusing their public trust and doing a disservice to their audience by presenting fiction as fact. I will not watch it and have made sure my friends and family will not as well.

It is fun being an activist!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Are We Safer??

Bushie boy says we're safer now that he is here in charge of the war on "turrer". A St Louis Post Dispatch Poll disagreed. Polls have shown that the Bush regime is trusted only by only 5 percent more of those surveyed than Democrats to handle terrorism In August 2002 the Republicans had a 25 percent advantage. A Newsweek poll shows that 63 percent of those surveyed believe Iraq had not made us safer from terrorists.

Bushie has began to compare his war in Iraq to that of the Cold War and even WWII and the struggle to topple the Nazi regime. What a concept. Taking that logic, the WWII Allies would have invaded Argentina first and made sure the population there would not support the Nazis when they were defeated. Or the real threat to the world in the Cold War was Sweden, those damn liberal socialists.

I don't feel safer. Most of the world fears Bush more than Ben Laden.... Let's hope for a regime change.... here.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

NO Baby News Yet

I finally heard from Maestro Stern last night. We have been anxiously awaiting the birth of his first child. However, baby Stern (supposedly a she)is not cooperating as she should and is several weeks late.

(For newer readers, Michael Stern, the Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony, lives in my condo building, he is the son of Isaac Stern the renowned violinist.)

He called to tell me that he was not coming in this week and had canceled his performances with the symphony this week. Being a news hound, Pato already knew that. I may be the lowly duck, but little escapes me.

The official statement was: "Only my yet unborn child's stubborn refusal to adhere to our Kansas City Symphony's schedule could keep me from being with the orchestra to launch this 25th anniversary season."

Filling in for Stern will be David Robertson, the new conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, who has made quite a splash of his own.

The program for this weekend's KCSO concerts has been changed slightly. We will not hear the KC premiere of Si Ji (Four Seasons) by Chen Yi (who lives and teaches in Kansas City). I have heard the piece and it will not be missed by a lot of the audience. It will be replaced by the Prelude to Wagner's Die Meistersinger. The rest of the concert Dvorák's Symphonic Variations and Jon Kimura Parker in Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 will go as planned.

Maestro sounded well but stressed and Shelly was in back as calm as ever. I noted that he had called during the torture session that is the Heartland Men's Chorus rehearsal and I called during break. I thought it was news but it was not the news I wanted.

Check in at Pato News for the latest updates.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Lies and More Lies

On September 10 and 11, ABC Television is planning to air a program called "The Path to 9/11." Though ABC claims that the program is based on the facts, the truth is that it distorts the facts and the conclusions of the 9/11 Commission. The ABC program, written by avowed conservative Chris Nowrasteh, goes out of its way to place blame on the Clinton administration for 9/11 and whitewash the failures of the Bush administration. That simply isn't true.

Help do something about it.

Visit this website and send a message to ABC:

Tell ABC to tell the whole story!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day Musings

1) Both HM and I have been feeling the effects of the coming change of the seasons. I have had a sinus infection for the last 4 days, yesterday being the worst. Today I feel a little better but still have the cough and sore throat. At least I am not sneezing and feel like death warmed over..that was Fri and Sat.

HM has been battling the dreaded fleas for the last few weeks. All the sprays, shampoos and the Frontline solution have appeared. So far it is fleas 2 Pug 1 but she has the upperhand at half time and a win is predicted.

2) I read that Alabama will start marking all state ID for sex offenders with a big mark of some sort. Shades of the Scarlet Letter. I expect to see "Juden" and Pink Triangles next.

3) When are states going to make murderers and such that are released register? I'd rather know if my neighbor bumped off someone more than if he/she screwed someone.

5)I went to the KC Irish Fest today. It was pretty dull. Lots of carnival food and overpriced junk. The bands were pretty lame, especially the one Greg and I sat in on. More yapping and insulting the city than playing good Irish music. And not a corned beef and cabbage to be seen. WTF???

6) Happy Labor Day...summer is over now.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Exploding Head Syndrome

Every so often, I seem to zone out and then startle back to reality with a loud ZAP! that sounds like the crackle of an electrical short circuit or bolt of lightning. It is very disconcerting, and I often shake or jump like I have been shocked. The noise is deafening.

I never mentioned it to a Dr or anyone, as I seemed to have no ill effects. They come regularly but not frequently, about 10-15 times times a year. Sometimes 2 in one week, sometimes none for a long time.

Well, I decided to check and see if I was dying. So I consulted the old Google pages and typed in all sorts things, as it was hard to describe. "Electric shock sound in head". "Hear sounds like lightning or electric shock"... finally I found a blog entry on the "Daily Ping" that described the symptoms.

The Mayo Clinic describes the condition as such:

Exploding head syndrome is a rare condition first reported by a British physician in 1988 (PMID 2899248) that causes the sufferer to occasionally experience a tremendously loud noise as if from within his or her own head, usually described as an explosion or a roar. This usually occurs within an hour or two of falling asleep, but is not the result of a dream. Although perceived as tremendously loud, the noise is usually not accompanied by pain. Attacks appear to increase and decrease in frequency over time, with several attacks occurring in a space of days or weeks followed by months of remission. Sufferers often feel a sense of terror and anxiety after an attack, accompanied by elevated heart rate. Attacks are also often accompanied by perceived flashes of light or difficulty in breathing. The condition is also known as 'auditory sleep starts'. The noise may be accompanied by a perceived bright flash of light, and the light on its own is known as a 'visual sleep start'.

The cause of exploding head syndrome is not known, though some physicians have reported a correlation with stress or extreme fatigue. The condition may develop at any time during life and women are slightly more likely to suffer from it than men. Attacks can be one-time events, or can recur.

The mechanism is also not known, though possibilities have been suggested; one is that it may be the result of a sudden movement of a middle ear component or of the eustachian tube, another is that it may be the result of a form of minor seizure in the temporal lobe where the nerve cells for hearing are located. Electroencephalograms recorded during actual attacks show unusual activity only in some sufferers, and have ruled out epileptic seizures as a cause (PMID 1896728).

Those who claim to be subject to Kundalini events occasionally report similar auditory phenomena.

Whatever the mechanism, however, it appears that exploding head syndrome is a real phenomenon and not caused by psychological disturbances. It is not thought to be medically dangerous, although it is often distressing to experience. Note that EHS doesn't, in fact, cause the head to explode.

Damn, but a cool name. Hey guys! I have exploding head syndrome!!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

This Sums it Up Nicely


Taoism: Shit happens.
Confucianism: Confucius say, "Shit happens."
Buddhism: If shit happens, it isn't really shit.
Zen Buddhism: Shit is, and is not.
Zen Buddhism #2: What is the sound of shit happening?
Hinduism: This shit has happened before.
Islam: If shit happens, it is the will of Allah.
Islam #2: If shit happens, kill the person responsible.
Islam #3: If shit happens, blame Israel.
Catholicism: If shit happens, you deserve it.
Protestantism: Let shit happen to someone else.
Presbyterian: This shit was bound to happen.
Episcopalian: It's not so bad if shit happens, as long as you serve
the right wine with it.
Methodist: It's not so bad if shit happens, as long as you serve grape
juice with it.
Congregationalist: Shit that happens to one person is just as good as
shit that happens to another.
Unitarian: Shit that happens to one person is just as bad as shit that
happens to another.
Lutheran: If shit happens, don't talk about it.
Fundamentalism: If shit happens, you will go to hell, unless you are
born again. (Amen!)
Fundamentalism #2: If shit happens to a televangelist, it's okay.
Fundamentalism #3: Shit must be born again.
Judaism: Why does this shit always happen to us?
Calvinism: Shit happens because you don't work.
Seventh Day Adventism: No shit shall happen on Saturday.
Creationism: God made all shit.
Secular Humanism: Shit evolves.
Christian Science: When shit happens, don't call a doctor - pray!
Christian Science #2: Shit happening is all in your mind.
Unitarianism: Come let us reason together about this shit.
Quakers: Let us not fight over this shit.
Utopianism: This shit does not stink.
Darwinism: This shit was once food.
Capitalism: That's MY shit.
Communism: It's everybody's shit.
Feminism: Men are shit.
Chauvinism: We may be shit, but you can't live without us...
Commercialism: Let's package this shit.
Impressionism: From a distance, shit looks like a garden.
Idolism: Let's bronze this shit.
Existentialism: Shit doesn't happen; shit IS.
Existentialism #2: What is shit, anyway?
Stoicism: This shit is good for me.
Hedonism: There is nothing like a good shit happening!
Mormonism: God sent us this shit.
Mormonism #2: This shit is going to happen again.
Wiccan: An it harm none, let shit happen.
Scientology: If shit happens, see "Dianetics", p.157.
Jehovah's Witnesses: >Knock< >Knock< Shit happens.
Jehovah's Witnesses #2: May we have a moment of your time to show you some of our shit?
Jehovah's Witnesses #3: Shit has been prophesied and is imminent; only the righteous shall survive its happening.
Moonies: Only really happy shit happens.
Hare Krishna: Shit happens, rama rama.
Rastafarianism: Let's smoke this shit!
Zoroastrianism: Shit happens half of the time.
Practical: Deal with shit one day at a time.
Agnostic: Shit might have happened; then again, maybe not.
Agnostic #2: Did someone shit?
Agnostic #3: What is this shit?
Atheism: What shit?
Atheism #2: I can't believe this shit!
Nihilism: No shit.

Thanks to Zaine!