Friday, May 30, 2008

RIP Harvey Korman

One of the funniest people to ever grace the TV screen.

"Give me something bizarre to play or put me in a dress and I'm fine." ~ Harvey Korman 1927-2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Coupl'a Things V

Since I have been feeling like death warmed over, I am not in the mood for a long diatribe about all the silliness in the world. Thus I will focus on a few short silly things.

1) The new format for the St Louis Post Dispatch on line edition is horrible. Just like news papers in general, it is full of ads and hard to navigate. But someone paid tons of $ for it, so they will do what they have to do to justify it. I think it sucks.

2) Just took a gander at the garden and it seems to be doing well. Every thing is growing, corn has been planted, my peppers are up, the squash is booming. And at home, the herbs are sprouting as well. I finally found some rosemary so I am complete. Mr Pettit is giving me tongue in cheek flack for taking some of his mint for my peas, so I have forbidden him to have any of my oregano. Herb Wars, here we come.

3) I was considering taking out my full cable and just going with the basic deal when I discovered that a channel I would lose is showing the original Iron Chef Japan. Best and funniest cooking show ever. The premise is 1/2 cooking show, 1/3 comedy and 1/3 game show. The head of the Gourmet Acadamy, Chairman Kaga, has "realised his dream in a form never seen before" and specially constructed a cooking arena called "Kitchen Stadium" in his castle. There, visiting chefs from "around the world" would compete against his Gourmet Academy, led by his three (later four) Iron Chefs. specializing in Japanese, Chinese, French and Italian cuisine. Chairman Kaga himself is a peacock, always dressed right out of an International Male catalog.

I mean really, how fun is a show that features squid ink sorbet, $1,000 worth of lobster used to flavor asparagus. or yogurt and shark fin stew? Where else can you hear such lines as "the sweetness of the fish liver mixes well with the bitter chocolate... I like it" or "the pleasant bitterness of the eel dances in my mouth and then I enjoy the bright flavor of the pineapple... such a pleasure". Indeed the campy English dubbing gave the show some of its charm and dare I say humor. Of course the Iron Chefs usually won. I may reconsider for a while and keep the dang cable.

4) This just in, Boy Gov, increasingly irrelevant, is socking it to the taxpayers and taking his wife and kid on a 3 day vacation to promote Missouri state parks, via a RV. Thanks Boy Gov, I sure would like a State vacation. He'd tell me to shove it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


It is Spring in full force here, and thus I have the sinus condition from HELL! I have not felt like blogging for a few days. You know when your head is so full you feel like you can't even think straight? That's everyone's favorite Pato right now.

I'll be back, I am sure.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Say Good Night Dick

Dick Martin, who created and co-hosted Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In with Dan Rowan, died May 24 of respiratory complications at 86.

Meeting in 1952 and inspired by Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, Martin and Rowan did Vegas, nightclub and New York shows before breaking into TV. Perry Como, Ed Sullivan and "The Hollywood Palace" featured then numerous times. Martin, in a solo role, was a regular on "The Lucy Show" in the early 60's. A summer replacement for Dean Martin's show catapulted them to eternal fame.

"Rowan and Martin's Laugh-in" was born out of the successful summer show, but the NBC network was not convinced of the show's merit. Critics loved it, and the audience voted by soon making it the # 1 show, despite being on the same time as popular "Gunsmoke" and "Lucy".

Not surprising, Lucy and Gunsmoke were getting long in the tooth. "Laugh-in" far fresh, timely, funny and controversial; a sure fire combination for success.
No doubt it forever changed the face of television by championing timely satire as media for comedy. I mean really, who can forget the night Richard Nixon, a sitting President, appeared on a comedy show and said, "sock it to me??" It ran from 1968-1973, itself then getting out of step with the changing culture of the times.

Martin went on to produce TV shows, Rowan died in 1987.

Good Night Dick, I hope you are socking it to Nixon as we speak!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pancake Musings

I didn't have pancakes this AM.. I was out of Aunt Jemima and was too lazy to restock. Thus some pancake musings, sans pancakes.... probably better for me anyway.

1) Many of the rich and pseudo-rich here get catalogs from all the high class rich people's stores. The "needless mark-up" (get the hint) of some of the items lends credence to the old saying "a fool and his money are soon parted".

Thus the amusement over the $110 flip flops. Yes, the very same silly fashion that has swept the nation. These utilitarian shoes have become high fashion. I think they are uncomfortable, hard to walk in and annoying to boot. Besides, as a kid my mom wore them, probably bought at Woolworth's, and whacked me on the butt with them when I misbehaved. I think I have a psychological aversion to them. But look around and everyone is wearing them everywhere, all season long.

But $110?? Just for rubber and canvas shoes with a designer's huge logo plastered all over them?? They go with their $100 tank top and $75 baseball cap.

2) I was brave yesterday. I made an edit to a Wikipedia entry on Mahler's 10th Symphony. I noted that two new recordings had been released in the last couple of years but had not made it to the list on the entry. So I added them. It was cool.

By the way, I have everyone of these recordings except the Martinon and the Harding which has not been released yet. I am working on the Martinon.

How many can say they edited an encyclopedia article? I also sang with Dolly Parton once, but that is another story.

3) Some nice rain and moderate temps have been good to the garden or so I am told. Have not been there in a while.

4) Memorial Day weekend is here, cool and rainy now. We'll see what the rest of the weekend brings. I have a lot planned for Sunday so I hope for the best.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

"Cook"-ing With Gas

Nine, count them nine different articles or stories in today's paper regarding the local boy David Cook winning "American Idol" and ONE on the horrendous news that oil is $135/bbl insuring that everything from soup to nuts will be more expensive, more jobs will be lost and families tossed into chaos.

Why does no one care? Why is a silly, contrived TV show more important than the economic future of the country and one's family? If 1/2 the people who voted for David Cook would get out and vote in the up coming elections (provided the Republicans let them with their desire for new poll taxes) we'd have a real government. Voter registration is up, turnout may be higher for this election... but that remains to be seen. It depends on what is on the "great glass tit" of TV that night.

This indifference is not just confined to the USA. In Britain, gasoline is over $10/gal. The last time gas rose dramatically, truckers and such blocked roads and stations in protest. The country almost ground to a halt. Now, protests quickly sputter out, unable to attract any participants.

They must all be watching "Idol".

Monday, May 19, 2008

Growing Pains

Since I practically scream every time I go grocery shopping due to the warp-drive powered rise in prices, I have decided to grow some vegetables. Now if I had the space to raise some chickens or ducks I'd be set. No..I'd keep them all as pets. So best to stick to vegetables.

It was the empty bread rack, used as a lawn ornament at the palace, that inspired me. We used to plant some pots of geraniums there, but since everyone hates everybody here, no one takes the responsibility. The new board, equally as ignorant as the others, vetoed my idea of a few pots of herbs. They wish to keep it blank as a symbol of their inability to get along.

My neighbor Will was keen to the idea and offered his ledge flower boxes as herb boxes. I jumped on the offer.

Thyme, chives (vichyssoise!), basil, tarragon, oregano, Thai basil and parsley are growing nicely. A few pots of mint were added for fun. Will set out a couple of tomatoes. Still looking for some rosemary, it seems to go fast.

Then Greg bought an empty lot near by and thus a neighborhood garden is taking shape. Today I staked out my claim and planted some peppers and squash. I want to get some other things, but it seems that Home Depot was running low on everything but tomatoes. Others have okra, herbs, corn, tomatoes, more peppers, zucchini, celery and stuff. Hopefully, if the thieves and rabbits don't spoil things, we should be in the bounty by fall.

I asked Greg if I could do rice, but he was not keen on me flooding the place. Guess I'll have to buy that.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kansas City Symphony: Verdi Requiem

It was the concert highlight of the season, Verdi's supreme masterpiece; the Requiem Mass in Memory of Manzoni. Michael Stern, Music Director, was conducting.

So the Kansas City Symphony Chorus sounded better than ever. Diction was for the most part excellent, entrances were clear, on pitch and they could purr or raise the roof as needed. Some of the more contrapuntal sections were a bit sloppy, but nothing to scream about. The Orchestra sounded good as well, with the exception of some uncharacteristically tentative string intonation and some occasional wind intonation issues as well, again not characteristic. The brass were in good form, the antiphonal touches in the Tuba Mirum were especially effective.

So why I am I less than thrilled about this performance? The piece demands a quartet of soloists with full rich voices, an operatic yet restrained flair and an ability to blend. They need voices to lead us through the many long and frequently slow-tempo solos and ensemble pieces so as not to bog the piece down. Voices with power, yet not shrieking, shouting histrionics.

None of these had that ability, at all.

Tenor John Mac Master, despite an impressive resume, sang with a strange constriction that I wondered if he was even giving the performance his best effort. The stirring, spine tingling tenor entrance in the Kyrie was almost an anticlimax. Even my half-ass tenor voice can belt that line out with authority and (usually) on pitch. He certainly did not hit any wrong notes, but certainly did not convey any drama. Bass Mikhail Svetlov, also with an impressive background, possesses a deep yet sort of sterile voice that unfortunately did not blend well with the others. Again his performance was tentative and lacking in grace.

The ladies were a mixed bag as well. Soprano Indra Thomas simply could not hold on to extended notes and clipped too many phrases. She and Mezzo Guang Yang simply did not blend at all, and in the short Pie Jesu section, seemed to be totally lost. Maybe not lost, but wandering around a bit. Yang was probably the better of the two.

I missed the sweet resignation of the lacrimosa as the soloists tried in vain to blend and communicate. Verdi's wonderful Lux Aeterna, despite some effective low brass underpinnings from the orchestra, failed to shine, pun intended. My favorite section, the incredible Agnus Dei, was marred by the harshly conflicting sounds of the mezzo and the soprano, totally not in tune with each other. Because of the straining, unimaginative voices, the long solo and ensemble stretches did lag and disappoint.

Very telling were the expressions on the faces of the mezzo, tenor and bass when they finished after the Lux Aeterna and let the soprano conclude with the Libra Me. They looked absolutely bored and disgusted. I know those on stage are not to attract attention to themselves or interact, but really, these folks looked like they wished they could just sink into the ground, or take a nap. The stirring bass drum blows (some of the best and most effective I have ever heard) would have woke them up.

You all get the drift. I tore little marks in my program to mark spots that were problematic but now just have a tattered program book. Can't win them all, but with a better group of soloists or at least more commitment from them it would have been a winner. It was that close.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

RIP: Steven Andrew

Steve Andrew 1962-2008

Rest in Peace, Friend

I simply refuse to believe I will not see your smiling face at church every week.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Active Judges

Hard on the heels of a Las Vegas judge who is under investigation for sexual harassment (a female who asked her employees to give her massages) comes this story from Michigan:

Judge Tells Kid to Kill Himself

Another example of the cesspool theory of public service: all the big hunks float to the top.


What do you traditionally call the person who graduates last in their law school class?

"Your Honor"

The US "injustice system" is corrupt, irrelevant and dangerous. Yet it wields tremendous power enforced by the police state. Are we any different from Nazis? Not much.....

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

GED: Just one Small Step to Life After Prison

The article in today's KC Star was upbeat, "GEDs offer hope for life after prison", but short on reality.

A reader commented: "My husband got his GED in Prison it didn't make any difference to most of the people who interviewed him all they see is his record and they don't give him a chance. He finally got hired at the Union which you do have to have a GED for so thankfully there is someone that will give you a chance. The reason there is such a huge return rate to Prison is because people won't give them a chance. My heart goes out to all the inmates that may have a better chance at getting a Job with their GED."

Sadly, that is more the case. Yes, felons can get jobs. Sometimes with a bit of luck and a good background with good connections, it is possible. You are going to have to set your sights lower in some cases. So long management and hello fast food. Many states, and Missouri is one of them, restricts some jobs felons can hold. Often professional licenses are denied. A GED is certainly a start, and I commend these fellows for their work, but reality will show it is hardly the single key to success.

What needs to happen is a lessening of this trend for marking people for life. In this supposedly "Christian" country, forgiveness is in radically short supply. Laws restrict jobs, where some felons can live, deny licenses and schooling. Some individual companies go farther and restrict any felon from getting a job. I thought, maybe naively, that serving time meant paying your debt to society. I guess I am wrong, it is just the first step in the life long process to make one suffer the consequences.

I have no answer, and I do agree 100% that these fellows with their GEDs are one step ahead. But it is a small, and possibly useless step, unless US society changes its views on the employment of felons.

Monday, May 12, 2008

More Republican Outright Silliness: The Continuing Saga

Doug Goodyear campaign manager for the John McCain 2008 Republican National Convention and chief executive of lobbying firm DCI Group, had to resign Saturday after a report that his lobbying firm used to represent the military regime in Myanmar. Apparently he was engaged as a lobbyist working to "improve relations between the United States and Myanmar" and to act as the military regime's public relations agent in Washington.

As we speak this wonderful government of Myanmar is more concerned about its self preservation than helping its people recover from Tropical Cyclone Nargis, which has killed tens of thousands of people and affected millions more.

Sounds like they learned a lot from the Republicans; how to put your interests before the people and how to handle a tropical storm effectively.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

John Brown: Kansas City Lyric Opera

Ok, I am a big soft heart, I admit it. There is something emotionally compelling about a person's devotion to get their work or idea recognized and performed. As it was with the musical "Rent", where a young composer struggles to get his magnum opus performed on Broadway and sadly dies before he realizes the full extent of his success, the story of how "John Brown" by Kirke Mechem reached the stage is almost more interesting and compelling than the work itself.

Mechem devoted 20 years of his life in setting the tale of the abolitionist hero and sometime terrorist/outlaw to music. He spent years researching the writings of John Brown, visiting Brown related historic sites and delving deep into the history of the abolitionist movement. Parts of the opera (usually a chorus or aria) were performed here and there over the years. Highly critical reviews led to several rewrites. Finally, in 2008 everything seemed to be coming together. With the composer being a native of Kansas and with the Kansas City Lyric Opera celebrating its 50th anniversary, the staging of John Brown, set partially in near-by locales, seemed to be a natural.

A well known story with a flawed, controversial hero/anti-hero main character, intertwined with revered historical figures (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, Amos Lawrence) and a contemporarily relevant message, John Brown is a tale tailor made for an opera. But in the end, Mechem's work ultimately lacks as an opera and takes on the lesser scale of a musical historical pageant. I could see some of the choruses and arias making an effective oratorio or concert piece. Not that "John Brown" is without some merit. Unashamedly lush choral writing, lyrical, tonal and basically conservative orchestration (sometimes sadly more over powering than effective) and some powerful arias and scenes can make for an enjoyable, audience pleasing albeit highly conventional opera. I just do not see any staying power. Outside of the hymns (most notably a moving setting of "Were You There?"), little of the music was memorable. The stage action was highly static, reflecting the highly declamatory libretto.

John Brown is thus straightforward story telling, the plot not complex and the ending well known before the curtain rises. Mechem, as librettist, paints a highly sympathetic picture of Brown. Thus from Brown's first line (one of the most controversial statements of Jesus Christ: "Think not that I come to send peace on earth. Not peace but a sword."), to the Gethsemane-like "Apotheosis" (think "Billy Budd") Mechem strives to portray Brown as a Jesus figure, an uncompromising revolutionary, a man who so loves his country and is so abhorred by the evil of slavery he is ready to kill and die for his cause.

James Maddalena (well known for creating the role of Richard Nixon in "Nixon In China") was a perfect Brown, part swaggering warrior, part intellectual who could earn the respect of Ralph Waldo Emerson, part messiah and yet a flawed human. His strong voice was rarely overwhelmed by the orchestration as were other cast members'. Donnie Ray Albert as Fredrick Douglass was also in fine voice, vividly portraying Brown's friend and inspiration. The sets and costumes were appropriate to the period, being 1850's rural America, shimmering gowns, flowing robes and towering castles were absent of course.

So as with "Rent", despite the mostly uninspired music and a flawed plot, the whole drama of the story, the production, the local color and the relevance of its message, John Brown resonated with the audience. I do not predict that John Brown will sweep the opera world as did "Rent" with Broadway; actually I highly doubt it will be performed frequently at all. Yet the old softy in me found it satisfying and even moving to see the composer (no young man himself) bound onto the stage of the opera to receive a rousing standing ovation from the capacity audience. This artist got to his promised land.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Even though there has never been a case of voter fraud in Indiana the Republican Supreme Court dominated upheld an Indiana voter-suppression law forbidding the elderly, poor and minorities from voting because they frequently do not have the money or the transportation necessary to obtain ID.

First victims... 12 elderly nuns.

About 12 Indiana nuns were turned away Tuesday from a polling place by a fellow bride of Christ because they didn't have state or federal identification bearing a photograph.

Sister Julie McGuire said she was forced to turn away her fellow sisters at Saint Mary's Convent in South Bend, across the street from the University of Notre Dame, because they had been told earlier that they would need such an ID to vote.

The nuns, all in their 80s or 90s, didn't get one but came to the precinct anyway.

"One came down this morning, and she was 98, and she said, 'I don't want to go do that,'" Sister McGuire said. Some showed up with outdated passports. None of them drives.

They weren't given provisional ballots because it would be impossible to get them to a motor vehicle branch and back in the 10-day time frame allotted by the law, Sister McGuire said. "You have to remember that some of these ladies don't walk well. They're in wheelchairs or on walkers or electric carts."

Don't you feel safe and secure that nuns can't vote?

Remember one thing else, the Supreme Court Jesters allowed this son-of-poll-tax despite NO proof that anyone had perpetrated voter fraud in Indiana. It is simply a Republican ploy to intimidate those who may vote against them.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Understanding the Conservative Mind

I am finally beginning to understand the "Conservative" mind. That is I understand the new brand of Conservative such as GW, Huckabee, Boy-Gov., etc. The hypocritical, Government of the (Rich) People, by the (Rich) People and for the (Rich) People Conservative. The war-is-good-state-sanctioned-murder-is-ok-but-leave-unborn-fetuses alone-dammit kind of Conservative.

These warped, yet powerful, people have two mantras:

"Government is bad. Government is the problem".

Therefore GW, Boy-Gov and the rest just feel why bother to govern well or at all? Rules, ethics?? They are for the opposition, and watch us hold them to it.


"Taxes are bad". "Taxes are evil". "I don't want to pay for anything".

What does the good Conservative think? Give me my tax cut, don't worry about infrastructure and services. When things get real bad, just borrow the money from the grandkids.

No wonder we are fucked up.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Saturday Pancake Musings Again

Got the Aunt Jemima out again this AM and enjoyed some fat fluffy pancakes. As usual, I got to musing about the world as they disappeared.

1)It seems some Lesbians are upset and are suing a Gay and Lesbian organization for using Lesbian to refer to females with same-sex orientation. The aggrieved Lesbians are claiming they are the original Lesbians and some of them are even male. It is all so confusing....

The word Lesbian comes from the island of Lesbos off the coast of Greece. Lesbos was the home of Sappho, a Greek female poet who wrote much about love between women. The word Lesbian dates back at least to 1732 appears as an adjective in the 1890 Oxford English Dictionary and as a noun in 1925.

The litigious Lesbians are some inhabitants of Lesbos who claim they are being defamed and insulted by the use of the word. The Litigious Lesbian Leader laments that "My sister can’t say she is a Lesbian." Therefore, the Lesbos Lesbians want to gain the exclusive right to call themselves Lesbians. They claim that the "seizure" of the word Lesbian to mean more than "of the island of Lesbos" has caused them mental distress.

Will the Gay family be next? Or the Hookers? Or those with the name of Cox? Any one named Dick???

2) Spring came with a vengeance this week. Thursday night spawned some nasty storms and all sorts of warnings. It seems a couple of pretty strong tornadoes came through the middle of the night up to the north of us. The Palace was unscathed, although the winds tossed the garden furniture around a bit. The sirens and storms and such actually prompted me to turn on my TV for the first time in over a month. After the storms passed, off it went again. What a wasteland.....

3) Bush, like Boy Gov Blunt, striving to be relevant, claims his tax rebate will be the savior of the economy. Most people plan to pay bills with it, or save it...or buy gasoline. Typical Republican BS.... the Depression is upon us.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

HM's Birthday Photoshoot by Lord Snowpug

HM's Birthday Photographs

Photos courtesy of Lord Snowpug:

(in this picture, Lord Snowpug swore most vile and
said "bath!!?" HM was not amused)

Enjoying the soft grass

HM announcing that the photo shoot was over