Saturday, June 30, 2007

Saturday NO Pancake Musings

No pancakes today, I was bad last night with Steve M and Steve C and ate a big fat hamburger at Sharps. French fries too, and chips and spinach dip. So this AM was fake eggs and some fruit. But I am in a museful mood anyway:

1) Damn I am sick of rain..rain and then more rain. Did I say rain? It started on Wednesday, keeping a lot of the boys away from our happy hour at Bistro 303. Then Thursday it continued all day and night. Nothing stormy, just constant. Then Friday was much of the same. And now this AM. Puggles is threatening to move the Palace to the desert so she can go out and not have the hot boiling acid (she does not like rain) falling from the sky touch her Royal Fur. Supposed to rain all day today as well. So much for a fun weekend. I was not going to have one anyway.

2) Was disturbed this morning at about 4AM by a gunshot. Welcome to Midtown. Did I bother to investigate. No, I was happy I was not in front of a window.

3) What I am listening to: Tveitt Prillar and Sun God Symphony Geirr Tveitt was a Norwegian composer, of the 20th century Romantic school. His works are tuneful and often based on Norwegian folk tunes and legends. Fun stuff, not revolutionary but tuneful, approachable and fun.

4) What I just bought: Stravinsky Works What a bargain. 22 discs for $37. about $1.68 a disc. This is all the Stravinsky conducted and supervised Columbia recordings. I have some of them but just gems like "The Rake's Progress", some of the smaller works and "Oedipus Rex" alone would cost $37 at full price. Unfortunately, it seems to be an import and thus will take 4-6 weeks to get here. Things may be quite different by then.

Ya never know.

5) Our church holds out hope for our new pastor who starts tomorrow. The last one was a nice lady, meant well but was a lousy preacher and leader. Our services were a mess, attendance dwindled. I even left one Sunday before it was over as a fellow was droning on and on and on and on. It was meaningless. Much like her sermons as well, and the new Baptist-tinged service, with all the praise singing and crap.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

There Is Hope Yet

This NY Times article provides a glimmer of hope for the future. Instead of welfare for the rich, unelected emperors, right wing theocracy and nose thumbing foreign policy, we may have more reasonable governments in the future.

By a 52 to 36 majority, young Americans (under 30) say that Democrats, rather than Republicans, come closer to sharing their moral values, while 58 percent said they had a favorable view of the Democratic Party, and 38 percent said they had a favorable view of Republicans. I can attest that both of my under 30 kids are pretty liberal Democrats. Thankfully.

The pendulum of political orientation swings periodically and basically the conservatives have held sway since the late 70's. I remember some of the early politically active students in my class began to turn Republican. It was scary, since what I saw was that they partied, used drugs, screwed anything that walked, yet were "conservative". It was Republican hypocrisy in its infancy. Pursuit of the job and the dollar and the big time began to consume a generation. The "Me First" world was born.

The rest of the world has progressed socially and economically and especially educationally and the US has fallen behind. Fast. But the damage has been done, they feel that they will be worse off than their parents. Probably true as the parents have largely destroyed the world. The house of cards built on cheap credit and high powered jobs is collapsing.

But hope springs eternal, maybe this generation will be more reasonable... and liberal. It seems more than hope, it may just be reality.

NYT Young Americans Leaning Left

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Revolutionary Passes

No not Castro, or Daniel Ortega, not that kind of revolutionary.. Liz Claiborne has passed at age 78 it was announced today. She was 78.

She founded her namesake company in 1976 along with her husband and another partner. Their goal was to create fashions aimed at the growing number of women entering the work force. Women with disposable income, but needing stylish, yet practical clothes. The fashions were bought in department stores and shops, not exclusive boutiques. The clothes became an instant hit, revolutionized how women's clothes were sold and marketed and made Liz rich. In 1985, Liz Claiborne became the first company founded by a woman to be listed in the Fortune 500.
Liz Claiborne retired from the day-to-day operations in 1989. Yet her company had $5billion in sales last year.

Even Miss Puggles has a Liz Claiborne collar. Suitable for Queens.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

This Just In

Two News worthy items to share:

FIRST 787 Complete shot... Elvis has left the building.

Real Men Love Pugs is now available from This delightful photo book, by the wonderful Rona von Stein, features the guys from PugVillage and their pugs. Yes, HM and I are included!

Get your copy today. HM Commands you!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

My Neighbor , Tammy Faye??

I heard a rumor from someone a while back, not sure from who now; Tammy Faye Messner (aka Tammy Faye Bakker, yes that Tammy Faye) was moving to the KC area. Specifically, the rumor was that her husband, a builder, had bought a lot in the exclusive gated community of Loch Lloyd, a few miles south of the city. Loch Lloyd is a bucolic area, huge lots on rolling hills with a lake surrounding a golf club. I have never been there, but told it is quite nice. Nothing much more was said. I wondered why she'd come here. I thought she was a true southern fried girl. And does KC have enough make-up outlets?

It seems to be true, as she revealed this week that they are indeed moving to the KC area, but did not specify a location. The reason given is to be closer to her husband's family in Wichita. Now we have both of them here, as I believe Jim Bakker is living in Branson, along with all the other dead and washed up entertainers.

Tammy Faye is quite ill it seems, last I heard she was wracked with cancer and was down to less than 75lbs and dropping. The Doctors had stopped treatment, there was nothing more for them to do.

Of course, she and Jim were the center of the PTL scandal, one of the biggest news events of the 1980s and the biggest religious scandal since the Reformation. Jim and Tammy's televangelist empire came crashing down through greed, fraud and illicit affairs. I will never forget Tammy on TV as she was reacting to the guilty verdict singing...

"On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand"

...mascara running, squeeky voice breaking. I can never hear that hymn without thinking of that moment, and shuddering.

As Tammy Faye separated from Bakker, she began to change a bit. Just a bit. She never lost her naive outlook on life. Everything was God's will to her, everything was God's gift. If she air-conditioned a dog house or bought a Rolls, it was God's gift for her faith and work. She honestly believed that. Even now, as she is sick and frail, she clings to that faith.

Oddly, she has a new audience and a new set of supporters. Her unlikely rise to gay icon arose from a popular documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye, a biographical chronicle of her life. Narrated by RuPaul, it focused on her campy appeal and that sweet, almost childlike naivety. While still well, Tammy Faye appeared at several gay pride events with a message of forgiveness. More cynically, some have said she was exploiting the community, becoming another tragic diva to garner sympathy and adoration from gay men. A nouveau Judy Garland.

Seems we might be neighbors... well not really, Loch Lloyd is pretty far south of me. I doubt we will meet at the grocery store let alone at Missie B's. To me the verdict on her is still out. But at least we can watch it close up.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

What Goes Around...

One is taught never to burn your bridges, but this one deserved to be burned. I used to work for these scum. Lured there by my former boss at Beverly who had also left that sinking ship and had landed in St Louis with this company. It looked good; an opportunity to turn around some disgusting nursing homes, get the cow out of the ditch so to speak. Free rein.

Was not to be, these criminal clowns had not a clue. Wrapped up in their own self aggrandizing and importance, they ignored the homes, the staff and any who had ideas to help. They took and took and took, never paid their bills. People would not work with me as I was told the bills had not been paid. But they went on with their Texas ways... their fucked up values. Does it surprise you that they are Republicans?

I stayed on as long as I could as I needed the job. It got worse as they struggled to keep their head above water yet maintain their charade. If anything good were to happen, it was their leadership and values that made it happen BULL FUCKING SHIT!

I got kicked out by the mentally ill witch they hired as a VP of HR out of Texas. Certifiably loony in my opinion, she did nothing but send 6 weeks I got over 400. She got canned too I heard.

I called them the CATS, Crazy Ass Texans, it was a term that fit them well. They had a report for the big boss that was called the MEO Report (Maximum Expected Occupancy) or as he called it the "Meow Report"> I almost spit my coffee across the table when I heard that. I think after a while they knew I called them that, I didn't care.

Well I heard they are being sued and charged with negligence in their operations. Essentially stealing from the Government Medicaid and Medicare programs and not providing care.

You can read it here and judge for yourself. They better not ask me.

US Atty Sues Operator Of Nursing Homes

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sister Act

Ok, "Citizen Cane" maybe the best American movie; at least it always seems to win whenever the topic is voted upon, but in my humble opinion the best movie in ages is..."Sister Act".

Yes, that "Sister Act" the 1992 comedy movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, Maggie Smith, Kathy Najimy, Mary Wickes, and Harvey Keitel. I and Maggie the cat am I sitting for, watched it for the umpteenth time last night (not sure if Maggie had seen it before, but she seemed to enjoy it as long as her ear was being scratched.)

The comedic plot tells of a showgirl Deloris Van Cartier (Goldberg) who has go into police witness protection since her mob boss boyfriend (Keitel) decided to rub her out after she witnesses a murder he committed. To protect her, the police disguise her and put her in a convent, thus they dub her "Sister Mary Clarence".

She obviously does not fit in with the quiet, austere lifestyle of the convent and soon has the Mother Superior (Maggie Smith)at her wits end. Trying to keep her out of trouble, Mother Superior puts her in the convent's rather off-key and pathetic choir. Soon, Sister Mary Clarence has the choir swinging and singing like angels bringing large crowds to the rundown church. Despite the protests of the Mother Superior, she invigorates the convent, drags them out of their sheltered lives and into the rough but needy neighborhood. Her efforts draw a lot of attention, from TV crews and even from the Pope himself.

Being seen on TV and with the aid of a mole in the police department, Deloris' disguise is revealed and she is kidnapped along with a novice nun. The novice, Sister Mary Robert, escapes and informs the other nuns of what has happened. Never hack off a nun; they persuade the Mother Superior to rescue Deloris who has been taken back to Reno. Of course the nuns and the police save the day and thus, now back as Deloris Van Cartier, she leads the choir in a command performance for the Pope.

High drama, murder, music, nuns...what more could a film want? Great acting. You have Whoopi Goldberg, Maggie Smith (Now Dame Maggie Smith) multiple Oscar and Emmy Winner, Oscar nominee Keitel as a goon (imagine that), the hilarious Kathy Najimy and the legendary Mary Wickes, veteran of Orson Welles Mercury Theatre and many classic films (Now Voyager, The Man Who Came to Dinner, White Christmas, Postcards From the Edge) and TV roles in the Lucy Show and the Love Boat.

I enjoy the movie every time I see it, know the plot and scenes by heart but it remains fresh and entertaining. Isn't that the sign of a great film?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Flip Flop

OK, the Republican Spin Doctors (read FOX News) portrayed John Kerry as a "flip-flopper". Remember? Yeah, who doesn't?

But do they kick the ass of Mitt Romney and his back and forth on gay marriage? Is he a liberal Republican or one of the far right ideologues??

Then along comes Michael Bloomberg who for the 2nd time is changing his party affiliation for political expediency. He was a Democrat for ages, changed to a Republican to avoid a nasty primary and thus have an easier time winning the mayoral race in New York City, and now is "unaffiliated" to mount what some say is a 3rd party race for President.

Come on man, if you can't stand for something then get out of politics. Both Bloomberg and Romney remind me of an old joke of a man and wife watching the election returns:

"Who is winning, George?"
"Our side Martha".
"which side is that?"
"The winning one, Martha".

I am sticking with a Democrat. Which one?? Hillary, of Obama....

If they can do can I.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I have quite a collection of ball caps I noted this morning as I contemplated them hanging behind the door. 2 red ones, 1 from Alaska, 1 "Jazoo 2006", 2 University of Illinois caps, 1 leather one, 1 "Pelican Eyes" from Nicaragua, and 1 "Heartland Men's Chorus" cap. A couple of years ago I had none. Only the advent of my hair loss have I covered my head with a cap. It is a part of my uniform now, I go nowhere with out one, except when wearing dress clothes and at church. I feel odd then, as if I have my pants unzipped or my shirt wrong side out and everyone notices but me. Hair loss is one of the hazards of being male, creating jealousy towards those whose genes allow them to keep it.

In my younger, more vulnerable days (thanks for that wonderful phrase F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Great Gatsby") I used to say I'd shoot myself if I lost my hair. This was said when I had a tangled mess of darker, thicker hair. So instead of shooting myself, I collect ball caps. A lot less messy. It does create a moments hesitation in the morning as I have to coordinate another color, which one to choose? Which fits my mood? Which one do I not care if it gets a bit dirty? Sigh.....more decisions to make.

For the record, the Alaska one is the choice today, co-ordinates with my shorts.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


My faithful reader and long time friend Zaine turned me on to this comic strip. Wondermark combines amusing current social commentary and old English settings, right out of Dickens.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Suddenly It's Rust

The 1957 Plymouth time capsule did not go well.... The capsule was not sealed sufficiently to keep water out and thus the 1957 Plymouth is a piece of rust. It would have been better to keep it outside for 50 years. Oh well... apparently someone else buried a 1997 Plymouth Prowler to be unearthed in 2047. See if that fares better.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Suddenly it is 2007

To celebrate Oklahoma's 50 years of statehood in 1957, the city of Tulsa buried a brand new 1957 Plymouth Belvedere 2 door hardtop, the epitome of then current auto style, in a sealed time capsule. Today, after 50 years under the sidewalk in front of the Court House and in celebration of 100 years of statehood, the car will see the light of day again.

But workers found the car sitting in water,looking much like chocolate milk, filling the concrete vault that was billed strong enough to withstand a nuclear attack. The car was wrapped in bags and rust protectors but as I write it was not clear in what shape the car is in. Buried with the car was 10 gallons of gas and some oil, in case there was none left in 2007. Also symbolizing 1957: a case of beer, and the contents of a woman's handbag: 14 bobby pins, a bottle of tranquilizers, a lipstick, a pack of gum, tissues, a pack of cigarettes, matches and $2.43.

People back then could enter the contest to guess the actual population of Tulsa in 2007, the winner gets the car...if they want it.

The 1957 Plymouth was a styling sensation, the sleek lines, the slim top, the soaring fins were not seen before on a "low priced three" car. The ads read "Suddenly it is 1960" that was how long the Ford and GM would have to take to catch up. Plymouth was the talk of Detroit, an inspiration to stylists for years. Who would have thought that in 50 years, Plymouth would be gone from the ranks of automakers?

But suddenly it is 2007... want to guess if it is a rusted hulk or in decent shape??? Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Various and Sundry

A now disappeared friend Jim always bristled at the term various and sundry, as it was redundant. I used it frequently to annoy him. So for Jim (where are you??) here are some various and sundry:

1) I am a hero to some of the local homeless. I save my plastic grocery bags and send them along with Mrs F who works for a local agency. Her clients use them to carry their possessions as they bounce from place to place. As I was walking HM in Mill Creek Park a few days ago, I spied a man who appeared to be a street person, carrying various and sundry items (could not resist)in a Westlake's Hardware bag. I am sure it was mine.

The clients sent, through Mrs F., a sweet thank you note to me for the bags. Amazing that a simple act can have such results.

2) I am babysitting a pussy, even sleeping with her. (!) No not that kind, the last one of the human variety still causes me grief. While Gerry is out of the country, I am watching Maggie, short for Magnificat, his 14 year old spoiled kitty. She was found abandoned on a cathedral door step in San Fransisco, thus the name. She took the name to heart and generally feels she is magnificent. She is. Don't tell HM I am sleeping around with a pussy, she'll disown me.

3) Daniel's band Witch's Hat can now be found on iTunes. You can search for it under the name of the bad or the album title "Mastery of the Steel".

4) My friend Bruce in Chicago was bitching about Windows Vista on his new computer. Does anyone like it???

5) Bravo to the Massachusetts legislature for turning back a bill to force a vote on gay marriage. When will the right wing hate mongers realize that the people have spoken already??

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Riding the Rails

I had to go to Jefferson City, my old place of residence, for some unpleasant and totally ludicrous family business. As gas prices are sky high and the Queen Mary is not reliable, I decided to take advantage of some wonderful fares ($40 round trip) on our rail system Amtrak. I had not taken the rails for a while and the prospect of a pleasant Sunday PM trek along the river in the train seemed a great idea. I could do my crap in JC and have plenty of time to be at the station and back here in KC around 10:30PM.

The whole sorry state of affairs with the US passenger rail system made this more of a nightmare than a pleasant journey.

You see a different world by rail, you see the back side and the back lots of the city... trash piles, broken machines, junk cars, abandoned and tattooed with graffiti. The seldom seen underbelly of the city is in full view as we glide below the well lit and clean streets and highways. You also see the full vista of the countryside, the fields, rivers and trees at eye level.

We were a varied lot on Amtrak 314 the "Ann Rutledge" (Ann Rutledge was Abraham Lincoln's true love...or so it is said), white, black, rich, poor, young, old. A couple and their young son were on his first train ride in from suburban Lee's Summit. Some were going home, some on business, some pleasure. Ann was a comfortable train, the seats wide, the leg room generous. Not being full, one could spread out, unlike the flying tubes in the air.

We left right on time from the huge stone edifice that is KC Union Station. Once seeing many trains a day, only two or three come by now. Our progress was measured in fits and starts due to the wretched policy of the US rail system. Amtrak is a bastard, no one wants him, but they can't get rid of him. So he is tolerated, but certainly not given a prominent place at the table. So the big boys, the freight, get the right of way and the priority. Passengers wait. And wait. To bad as the comfortable, friendly and definitely less stressful train is a good way to travel.

Recent rain made the fields and forests green and lush. The rivers and streams running full. The corn will definitely be knee high by the 4th of July, my Grandma's cue that the growing season was progressing well.

Around Tipton MO, we ran into our biggest road block. 3 trains west bound and us east bound trying to use a single track. We pulled off and let them by. We sat and sat and sat. One of the westbound trains pulled along side, and I got to examine Union Pacific Locomotive # 7002 close up for a long time, especially the MU jumper panel whatever that is. Finally moving, the setting sun cast a red/gold glow on the new California, MO high school building, familiar from all my trips up and down Highway 50. Getting closer, we were about 20 miles away..but creeping along at maybe 25-30 MPH. The 7:33PM arrival time was now 9PM. We arrived and I walked the couple blocks to the hotel. Damn. There is nothing deader than downtown Jefferson City on a Sunday.

The trip back was much the same. A similar delay. The 10:30PM arrival slipped to past midnight. On Sun, the buses stop at midnight so I had to take a cab home.

Will I ride the rails again soon> Not if I can help it. Despite the roomy seats, pleasant staff, clean trains, and the ability to see at eye level, the delays are pandemic. If it is not reliable, it is not worth it. The trip would have taken me 5 hours total round trip at most by car. I could have left at 10AM Monday did my hour of business at 1;30 and been back home by supper.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Kansas City Symphony: Brahms and Bartok

"Can they bring a dog in here? What if she starts to howl??" The lady asked to whomever was listening as she noted a patron with his guide dog. I didn't respond directly, but whispered to my friend that the dog would likely be more quiet than many of the human patrons. Indeed, the only "howls" I heard were the bravos and cheers accorded to the performance of the Kansas City Symphony last evening.

This was a concert where everything "clicked". Great orchestral playing, sterling leadership, outstanding solo performance and wonderful repertoire. Opening was Brahms' autumnal Piano Concerto # 2 with Marc-Andre Hamelin. The concert concluded with the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra.

The Late Kurt Vonnegut quipped that a friend complained that a long, slow moving novel "felt like it was written by someone named Philboyd Studge." Too many performances of Brahms' compositions elicit that response for me. There was certainly no evidence of Philboyd in this performance. Hamelin and Stern brought the music to life in a refreshing, frequently muscular but always lyrical and satisfying performance.

Plenty of detail and amazing but never self serving technique from Hamelin illuminated but never thwarted the force-of-nature-like forward movement of the long first movement. The opening horn solo was spot on, well intoned and utterly beautiful, showcasing how Stern's orchestra building program is progressing. A few seasons ago, that solo would likely have caused the dog to howl, or get up and leave.

The demanding scherzo was always energetic, never frenzied yet passionate. Here Hamelin's incredible technique served the music well as his tone and power were well balanced with the orchestral forces. The slow movement was nothing but transcendent, a prayerful offering, well paced and never dragging. The opening cello melody was appropriately reflective and singing. Superb.

I have always felt the last movement was somewhat of a let-down. Strangely out of place and just not satisfying as a finale to this mammoth work. Again a more muscular and powerful reading with the piano part more staccato than I am used to; but it worked. Instead of another scherzo movement, we got an impeccably controlled, satisfying conclusion.

Stern's attention to detail and orchestral color and the Symphony's complete engagement in the score and response to his demands combined for a most satisfying performance of Bartok's masterpiece. A beautifully turned reading of the first movement, with the brass well balanced and polished in their fugue (remember when I always cringed when I mentioned the KCS Brass)and a powerful coda, revealed that we were in for a special performance that could hold its own to any.

In the second movement, all of the various duos came off splendidly; a true "Game of Pairs". The dark Elegy reminded us that this work was written in a time of great despair for both the world and for Bartok personally. One felt the loneliness of exile and the anguish of a world in flames, while the music never bogged down in the process. The interruption of the Intermezzo was appropriately raucous with a sneering clarinet and highlighted by some wonderfully juicy trombone glissandos. The transition back to the soft, paprika tinged, main theme was well handled and natural.

Stern took the finale at a brisk tempo, yet the attention to detail never let the many fugal entries or contrapuntal lines be swallowed by the tempo. This performance offered masterful musicianship and that seldom seen spark of passion from players who know they are participating in something special.

To watch the orchestra reach new heights, to not fear the repertoire but rejoice in it has brought new acclaim and fortune to the orchestra. We here are reveling in it.

See you next season.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Saturday Pancake Musings

Yes, the pancakes are back... only 2 and smaller (still made with Aunt Jemima Complete, the best I have found) and with sugar free syrup. But with a small dab of real butter (local made organic) dammit!

1) Is it not amazing... the most trivial person in the world, Paris Hilton (when I used to get Spam email offering the Paris Hilton sex tape, I thought it was an orgy at a hotel in France....maybe it was)in a most trivial legal case could start a legal battle with national implications, setting out the bounds of the authority of the judge and the corrections/jail system.

She even usurped the news that homophobe Peter Pace, who has overseen the disaster in Iraq was replaced. Live coverage of the Second Coming would be interrupted to cover Paris' first breakfast in jail.

2) Speaking of Iraq, I saw an article that argued that Bush's legacy may be better than we think, as he will be remembered for tackling terrorism.

That is if he wins. And the battle is going badly. I think few civilized people would not agree that terrorism is a major menace in the world today. My main argument with Bushie is that he is going about it the wrong way. You can't fight this menace like you fought Hitler. This is centuries of animosity, this is a mega clash of culture and belief systems. Worse, the problem is more like a Jerry Springer Show battle between a huge dysfunctional, fractured family of Jews, Christians and Moslems, all believing their way is right. We need Dr Phil more than we need more bombs and soldiers.

3) The Kansas City Star's persnickety music critic liked the performance last night. I am going tonight, look for my review likely tomorrow. KCS Bartok and Brahms

Pancakes were YUMMY!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Check Your Brains at the Door

Read this and see why our government has doomed us.

Bill Mc Clellan 6/8/07

Do you fucking check your brains when you work for the Government?? Well, I used to and I didn't and failed miserably. So did my friend Jerry, who left the Feds after deciding that it was a waste of time. I remember him calling me once in summer and saying he had not yet accomplished a thing for the whole year. "Everything is on my boss' desk for approval and he has not done so yet. I, by law, can not go forward with out his approval.. so here I sit", he lamented.

Someone, PLEASE have the guts to say "this girl is a female and make the goddamn change NOW!"

I'll do it if you'd hire me.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Language Barrier

Here at lovely Faulty Towers, we have several contractors to supply services such as lawn and garden, painting, and of course the contractors for the new unit. As is expected in this day and age, many of them are Mexican. Therein lies a problem. We have a language barrier.

Interesting thing though... I speak and understand Spanish pretty well after 7 years of visiting and working in Nicaragua. So...why a language barrier? Simple I am a prick. I refuse to speak Spanish to them.

I spend a lot of time in Central America, I have also been to several other countries in Europe and Asia. I always tried to learn a bit of the native tongue, even if I was there for a day or two. When I go to Nicaragua, I do not expect the natives to learn English for me or to have everything translated for me.

They do here.

I harbor some desire to live in Nicaragua, whether that will ever come to pass is debatable. But if I do, I will certainly learn and use Spanish as my main tongue so I can conduct my commerce and know what is going on around me. I DO NOT expect the Nicaraguans to provide me everything I need in English. Never would. If one knows English and wants to speak to me in my native tongue, so be it. If not, then I am the loser.

For some reason, many from Mexico and Central America vilify the USA, but risk dying to get here. And then expect me to adapt to their ways. I am certainly not a right wing extremist on this issue, but I do feel the ancient advice of "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" is solid policy yet today. But with the guilt many US citizens have over something and the threat of lawsuits, we make sure someone from any country never has to learn English.

They miss out on a lot. As I do in Nicaragua when my mediocre Spanish fails me.

So when the workers are here and need direction, I speak English to them, point a lot and demonstrate a lot. Maybe they will pick up some words, like I have when I am in Nicaragua. I don't think this is racist or anything like that, just common sense. And a sincere attempt to break the language barrier.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Missouri Going Backwards. Surprised??

Note while many places in the US progress towards a normal and healthy respect for sex education, Missouri and Boy Gov Blunt (who must still think his kid Branch {stupid name}came from some cabbage patch) go in the opposite direction.

This article in the Detroit Free Press says it all:

Sex Ed Landscape Changing

Let's hope Mattie is out of office before he discovers what his dick is for.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Not here, but in the home of my dear friend (friend is an inadequate word) Greg's villa in San Juan del Sur Nicaragua. My friends Dan and Cesar were living in part of the house long term. Thankfully no one, not even Dan and Cesar's cat, was seriously injured.

Dan and Cesar have some incredible pictures here on their site

Greg is taking it quite calmly, and I just found out about it this evening while reading some Nicaragua blogs and forums. I called him before I knew it was his house. "What's this about a fire at Pelican Eyes??" I asked... "Oh shit..." as it hit me as I read the web forum that it was at his house.

Fully insured and I hope that it will be all done by the time I go there this Thanksgiving.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Kansas City Symphony: Emmanuel Pahud Flute

"Wow"! Said the ticket taker(is there a more technical term for that job??) at the Lyric Theatre last night, "Director Circle row A seats 9 and 10, best ones in the house! Enjoy!!"

Thanks to the generous donor of the tickets, I did certainly enjoy the Kansas City Symphony's penultimate concert of the season, featuring Emmanuel Pahud on flute.

Opening was Prokofiev's familiar and popular Symphony # 1 "Classical". Written in 1917 but formally more like 1817, this bubbly, tune filled standard can sound perfunctory, like a parody of 2nd class Haydn, if the director is not careful. Certainly not the case last night, as this was far from a routine performance. This was brilliant playing; the clear, bright texture and balance bringing out the Russian humor and color along with Haydn's formal clarity. I heard details that I had never heard before, most notably a wonderful antiphonal passage between the first violins and violas in the Larghetto. The wonderful clarity brought out some of the more acerbic harmonies as well, giving the piece a deliciously spicy flavor. The winds and strings were beyond reproach, the prominent bassoon parts admirably executed by Ann Bilderback, were a highlight. Revelatory would be my final assessment.

Emmanuel Pahud has been anointed successor to Jean-Pierre Rampal and James Galway (in fact as was Galway, he served as principal flute of the Berlin Philharmonic)as the reigning flute virtuoso. Pahud's tone is huge and strong, able to project above just about anything the orchestra throws at him. Last night's performance of Ibert's witty, jazzy Flute Concerto was stunning, virtuosic yet lyrical. The outer movements bubble along with jazzy nervous energy (think Roussel or Ravel's G minor Piano Concerto) contrasted with a Gallicly dry central Andante. The agile, though not large, orchestra kept busy, serving more as a protagonist than accompanist to the almost continuous flute solo.

Pahud and the orchestra also turned in a beautiful and charming performance of Mozart's sweet Flute Concerto in G K313. Elegant and well paced, perfectly showcasing Pahud's lyrical abilities and warmth. The enthusiastic audience demanded an encore from Pahud, a sensuous, languorous Syrinx by Debussy.

One thing, the program notes' "For The Record" recommended recordings column states that Pahud had not recorded the Ibert Concerto. Actually he has, in 2003 with Zinman on EMI coupled with Rampal's flute transcription of Khachaturian's Violin Concerto.

I adore Debussy's La Mer. Introduced to it as a teen, I was immediately drawn in to Debussy's nautical soundscape. Unfortunately, land locked Midwest born and bred, I had only a lake or two to satisfy my love of the water. La Mer transported me to the wild and vast ocean, giving me a taste of a sailing life. I vividly remember my first sailing adventure in the Pacific in 2000. I hummed the main theme of the "Dialogue du vent et de la mer" while basking in the glory of the deep blue water and the vast white sails.

That aside, the performance last night was simply superb. Noted especially was the colorful and solid contributions of the brass. Long the weakest link in the symphony, the brass were in control, never overwhelming and tonally spot-on. I asked Maestro Stern one morning as I met him in the hall of our building if he was going to use the cornets in "La Mer". "Of course!" he replied, I later apologized for asking such a stupid question. The subtle use of the cornet was pointed out to me by the person who introduced me to La Mer years ago. "A performance without them is simply just not the same, avoid them", Herb admonished. Their bright, brassy sound, as used in some of the climaxes, indeed provides a satisfying coarsening of the texture that adds to the drama. The strings and winds provided a misty, fluid feeling,contributing to the overall success of the performance.

Colorful, moving, detailed with out being fussy, this performance rivaled any that a major orchestra could do. The KCS simply reaches new heights with every performance.

Next week's season finale: Bartok Concerto for Orchestra and Brahms celebrated Piano Concerto # 2 with Marc-Andre Hamelin.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sugar Shack: A Diabetic's Rant on Grocery Shopping

As I round the corner on six months being diabetic, I have had to make some profound changes in my eating habits. It has mostly been for the good; I have lost a few pounds and my blood glucose levels are better, often within normal range. I have continued to exercise, and between meal snacks are fewer now. Breakfast is a new concept for me, and I am tolerating eating eggs (well, egg beaters actually) as long as they are disguised with lots of hot sauce, onions and green peppers and such. Even turkey bacon is tolerable.

It is shopping that is the main pain. Grocery shopping, once fun and exciting, is now reduced to totally skipping the bakery section (carbohydrates=evil) and reading labels.

It takes forever, since most processed food is off limits. Sugar and carbs are everywhere. We are definitely a society hooked on sugar. When a simple bottle of sauce says it has 15 g of sugar you have to remember that is for like 1-2 tablespoons of sauce. Most of us rarely use just 1-2 tablespoons of anything.

I had no food in the house last night, and was tired of eating out (another bother that I just won't touch in this rant)so I went shopping. The shoppers at Sun Fresh know to stay away from me, as I will meander slowly down each isle blocking the paths. I am reading each label, looking carefully at the carbs and sugars and the serving sizes. Are there sugar free or fat free alternatives smaller sizes, low sodium versions?? Usually there are, but taste-free is a better description.

I could not decide what I wanted. (A note here, I am a "European style" shopper, I make multiple trips to the market buying enough for 1-2 meals at a time. Whenever I load up, I soon realize I didn't want the stuff in the first place or it is frozen and thus a hassle to make, so I go out.) Pork chops looked good, but plain? Nah! Sweet and Sour pork chops. Bottled sweet and sour sauce?? Hyperglycemia here I come! Might as well eat a bag of C&H. OH look! Sugar free pudding snacks. $1 for a 3 pack. Snack time taken care of! Low carbs and not a lot of fat either.

Good. Up and down the isles, looking... reading... 1 hour later, still no dinner. I was ready to chuck the cart and head to Taco Bell. Ok you can do this. Pork chops, look good, on sale, you have a Jenn-Air grill stove so you can grill them, less fat that way, boneless, no waste. You have some fresh squash from the farmer's market (I adore yellow squash) that can be grilled too, no fat there. Salad is good, the nutritionist said more vegetables than protein or starch, so there is lots of vegetables, the fat free ranch dressing is tolerable, with lots of pepper. Dessert can be one of the pudding cups, GET AWAY from the rice... (Rice-aholic here)not today, you had a bit of rice for lunch, so none tonight (glad I am not Chinese). Finally I headed home. I hated what I had bought. Buyer's remorse.

It wasn't bad. The pork chop and squash was great, the salad with the tasteless dressing was 1/2 eaten (longing for blu cheese) the pudding cup surprising. It filled the need.

It is so much easier, especially for a single person, to go eat out (no dishes to do) or carry out. But that is what got me into this mess, along with genetics, so I have to curtail my desires. I guess I have to live longer so people have me to punch around.

Being unhealthy is so much easier. No wonder we all are.