Monday, June 30, 2008

Free Will, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival: "Othello".

Shakespeare’s Othello is one of his most problematic yet most fascinating and contemporarily relevant plays. Its theme of jealousy and betrayal based on a subtle undercurrent of racism is all too common today. Othello’s treatment of his wife, Desdemona, is blatantly abusive, as was common then and unfortunately today as well. Othello’s slow sinking into madness, murder and death is riveting, although sometimes all too much like watching a train wreck, we know what is happening and yet just have to watch. Desdemona has to be one of Shakespeare’s weakest women characters. You want to jump on stage and shake her as she naively pleads to her husband and tries to charm him even though he has nothing but her cold blooded murder on his mind. Something a Juliet, for example, would not stand for.

Othello’s jealousy over a dropped handkerchief can almost seem comical to the uninitiated. He virtually screams at Desdemona about the lost handkerchief; a mere piece of cloth that produces so much rage. One almost has to think “get over it man…Jeez”.

Thus it takes a strong cast and a strong production to make Othello work. The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s production did just that. Frankly, one of the best pieces of theatre I have ever seen.

Othello owes his downfall to his loyalty to his aide Iago. Skillfully portrayed by Bruce Roach, his Iago is a crafty manipulator, never a caricature, and thus a believable villain. He gets progressively more slinky and slimy as the night goes on, just as Iago gets more and more bold as he sees his plan to destroy the black moor come to fruition. Cassandra Schwanke is a sweet and dignified Desdemona who obviously loves Othello, yet shows little of the fire and spunk it must have taken for a refined and noble lady to marry an outsider, even one of a different race as she did. Schwanke’s noble performance and chemistry with Damon Gupton as Othello makes up for the weakness in the character.

And what about Gupton as Othello. “Riveting”, “electrifying”, “extraordinary”, “persuasive” are the words being used to describe his performance. From his first entrance to the final scene, one can tell that this is a true professional with a solid knowledge of the part and the play. Subtle glances, raging violence, ardent expressions of love; all handled with great skill and used to propel the play to its bleak conclusion. The rest of the cast was excellent in their parts, including John Wilson’s bewildered Cassio and Jan Rogge as a tragic yet noble Emilia, Desdemona’s servant and Iago’s wife, who sheds the light on the awful misunderstanding and treachery that claims them all.

Costumes spot on, simple yet versatile and effective sets, fine lighting and a wonderful outdoor setting was the icing on this delicious treat.

Shakespeare in the Park “Free Will” continues until July 6th except for July 4th. A must see.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Muskrats 1, Levee 0

I know I will be pilloried for this, but somehow, I just have to think GO MUSKRATS! These little rodents were just doing what they always do, looking for food or building a den when they tunneled into a levee in NE Missouri, sending the swollen Mississippi roaring towards the small town of Winfield. The burrows the muskrats created caused the already waterlogged levee to become unstable, causing a 20-30 foot wide breech.

Hundreds of people using countless sandbags were hoping to hold the rising waters at bay. The US Army Corps of Engineers, police, sheriff, National Guard, volunteers, everyone... all their heroic effort.... poof!... done in by a muskrat looking for love, or a bit of food. Unfortunately, and unwittingly, the muskrats have unleashed a wave of devastation for the citizens of Winfield. As this is written, a second sandbag levee looks like it could help save at least most of the town.

But really, can you imagine the look on the muskrat's face when the water came rushing in?? Remember Slim Pickens riding the atomic bomb in "Dr Strangelove"? I have a vision of a mess of muskrats looking much the same way, riding clods of mud and debris as the waters swept them to oblivion.

YEEEEEEE HAAAWWWWW!! WOoooooo hoooooo yeeee haaaaaawwww!

Poetic justice, don't you think??

I just gotta think that somewhere, in a muskrat tavern, the locals are are brewing a legend over potent muskrat ale. Tales are being born, children will beg their parents to hear the stories, perhaps an old song will gain a new stanza...

And they whirled and they twirled and they tangoed
Singin' and jingin' the jango
Floatin' in the Mississippi mud
It looks like muskrat flood

(apologies to Willis Alan Ramsey and Captain and Tenille)

The night the muskrats took on the levee... and won the battle, at a great price.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

HM Speaks

Palace Communications
Puggingham Palace

HM expressed her desire to speak to her subjects in an informal Q and A session this evening at Puggingham Palace.

HM was asked about her beloved garden at the Palace.
HM: My gardens is growings and is greens and pretty. We has flowers and grasses and my dearest friends, the birds, has a fountains with waters and sunflower seeds that my subject Mr. Will gives thems all the times. We hads lots of baby birdses this spring, and there are doveses. I rid the gardens of the evil Cats, I hates Catses because they poopses in my yards and eats the birdses. I hates that.

I do has squirrel issues. Edgar, the crazy squirrel, thinksses that I is goings to eats his nuts. I say: "Edgar, I am a PUG, The QUEEN OF ALL PUGS, I do NOTs eats walnuts". But Edgar is sillys and sits and howls and barks at my Glorious Presence when I am in the gardens. I has bannded him. He's nutty as his walnuts.

HM was asked if she has partaken of her beloved Walkabouts.
HM: Yes, I ordered the staff to takes me on a walkabouts this very evenings. It was HOTS and humids as it had rainded so it was a shorts one. I seeds my neighbor John, lots of my birdses friends and a taxi. The crazy DOG lady was not home, so I did not sees her. She worshipses me, but she yaps a lot.

HM was asked if there were any Royal Excursions planned for this Summer.
HM: I is staying mostly at my Palace. I order the limousine to takes me to the Three DOG Bakery from times to times and to see my friends Spike and Wheezie. Theys are Yorkies. I's goings to see my AUNT Donna in Illinois sometimes, but we has nots decidedsed when. I dids not goes to PUGTONA as it was too hots for me.

HM was asked about her Walruses.
HM: All walrusesess are happies. I loves ALL Walrusseses. Cecilia, Pacifica, Nereus, Wallace and Cola are all well and snug nexts to mys THRONE.

Any Parting words from Your Majesty?:
HM Be niceses to all peoples and PUGS and Birds (Catses not includeds), supports PUG Rescue, Eats LOTSES OF TREATS, and brush your teeth.

HM has retired to her throne room to rest. Thanks to all who phoned in their questions ~ Palace Communications

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What Goes Around...

This is just too damn good to pass up.

KSPR ABC news story "Judge to Consider Email Lawsuit Against MO Governor"

Note the image behind the Boy-gov's mug. "Peniss enlargement patches"... "SEXUALLY EXPLICIT"!

Ha, guess it does not pay to piss off the media in the state.

Unfortunately, they changed it later... thanks to FiredUP! Missouri for capturing it for posterity!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What I am Listening to Today

Andrei Eshpai (1925-)

Concerto Grosso
Piano Concerto # 2
Symphony # 7

Composer as piano solo, Svetlanov USSR State SO
Albany TROY341

I am simply at a loss of words to describe this music. From the Mari region of Russia, Eshpai's works combine Schnittke, Prokofiev and Bartok with a little Shchedrin at his most manic. Added to this stew is a bit of symphonic jazz a la Mancini's "Peter Gunn", (the Concerto Grosso's concertante group consists of trumpet, vibraphone, piano and double bass) seasoned with Russian/Mari folk tunes and modes. He also appears to be an accomplished pianist, as he is the solo in his formidable concerto.

The Symphony # 7 seems to have more echoes of Shostakovich and is more somber in mood, at least as far as the first movement goes, it is still playing as I write.

Born in 1925, Eshpai has written a large number of works including 9 symphonies, 4 violin concerti, 2 piano concerti, operas and the required Soviet occasion pieces praising Lenin and the Revolution. He studied with Myaskovski and Khachaturian at the Moscow Conservatory.

What fun and totally fascinating and listenable.

Get it at CDUniverse, HBDirect, ArkivMusic.. or where ever you like!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

They Can't Fire ME!

...cause I do it for nothing. I don't even work for them.

On June 16th the KC Star announced it was laying off 120 people, including 20 something in the news room. I guess the stakeholders needed more money, as is usually the case when things like this happen.

One of the casualties was Paul Horsley, the Star's Classical Music and Dance critic. Now, as regular readers know, I review the concerts that I am able to attend. But since I am not rich, nor do I have the time to go to every single show in the city, I miss 80% of the concerts that are presented each year. Horsley went to most of them sometimes 2-3 a weekend. There are no plans, it seems, to fill that gap. I guess I am the one left standing.

I frequently disagreed with Horsley; it was almost predictable that when I loved something, he hated it, and when I had misgivings, he praised it. For example he praised Indra Thomas, the soprano for the Verdi Requiem last month. I thought she was a mess and could not sustain the notes and made no effort to blend with her colleagues. I frequently thought he had to dig too deep to pick on a performance, just as many critics do when they are too familiar with a piece. You know the scene, damning a performance because "the second bassoon did not finesse the arpeggio in measure 6 as X did so well...", or words to that effect. Sometimes, I had to admit, he was spot on in his praise or criticism. One thing for sure, it was clear he loved the arts and enjoyed his craft, writing informative and always entertaining reviews and interviews. Maybe he was too intellectual and too good for the Star?? Could be, seeing some of the drivel that is left.

Sadly, I think there is a bigger issue at large here. The Star and its parent McClatchy have made it clear that classical music is not worth anything. At a time when the local Symphony, Opera, Kansas City Chorale, Kansas City Ballet, Herriman Arts series, etc. are making national names of themselves, the Star refuses to seriously support community arts. What other city of this size has a new state of the art fine arts center under construction, has a Symphony that draws 30,000 to an outdoor concert, dance company touring the country and an opera company that makes headlines with innovative and well attended programming? Yet we have no one on the paper to cover this? KC will deserve the moniker "cowtown" more than ever.

KC is not alone, other cities and papers are cutting back on classical music reviewing and reporting. From New York to LA we are getting the message that arts are not newsworthy.. Paris Hilton is and David Cook, but not Beethoven, the Kansas City Chorale or the East hills Singers.

I guess it is up to me now and others like me who write for the fun and exercise rather than a paycheck. Maybe we are part of the problem... or just the wave of the future?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Happy Midsommar!

Today is the Feast of St. John's, or the Midsommar, or juhannus, Litha, or the summer solstice, depending on where you live or your traditions. In many Scandinavian countries it is one of the most important holidays of the year. The night is at its shortest (or not there at all) and many believe the dusk to be filled with mystery and magic. Lust is manifest, no virgin is safe, it is a time of merriment and abandonment, of dancing and drinking until dawn, of bonfires and worshiping the great gods and goddesses of fertility.

Drink up, fellows, chase a skirt (or pair of pants) or two. Drink, be merry and lusty. Ladies, beware! Gentlemen, you are not safe either!

Cast a spell or two, as magic is strongest tonight.

It is all downhill from now until the dead of winter, when the earth re-awakes and our lusty energy will flow again.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What I am Listening to Today

I am starting a new series of posts on what I am listening to today. I listen to a great variety of classical music. Early music to John Adams, Bach to Bernstein, warhorses to the bizarre, I love it all, for the most part.

So today:

Francisco Mignone (1897-1986). Born in Brazil of Italian immigrants, Mignone's music is Brazilian inspired with a bit of Respighi, Verdi and early Stravinsky thrown in the mix. Always melodic, always rhythmic as only a Latin can be, and certainly accessible.

Festa das Igrejas (Church Festivals) from 1940s rivals any of Respighi's tone poems, with tolling bells and organ creating atmospheres both meditative and festive. Sinfonia Tropical is an evocative tone painting of the Amazon jungles.

Maracatu de Chico Rei is a vibrant ballet with chorus, heavily inflenced by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and Afro-Brazilian rhythm and lore. The colorful and exciting music describes the building of a church by African slaves and the eventual winning of their freedom.

We used to call discs like this "lease breakers". Ones you played so often and so loud so as to catch every thrilling climax, every throbbing drum beat and booming bass that you risked getting tossed out of your apartment.

Fun, exciting, colorful, different.

BIS CD 1420

Available at record stores,, CDUniverse, Amazon, HB Direct, or where ever you buy recordings.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Critical Issues

Guess I hacked some people off!

On Monday, I posted a 'review" (I am not a professional reviewer and do not claim to be) of the Heartland Men's Chorus' production of Divas! this past weekend. Actually the post was based on a letter I sent to an out of town friend, who because of his situation does not have a computer. I actually liked the show, it was the best drag show I could ever imagine, the chorus in fine form as usual. I guess because I pointed out a couple of issues (both shared by a friend of mine who was there, and yes I did attend the concert) I earned the wrath of some chorus members who felt I should have said this was the concert of the century.

Three comments were left stating in so many words that the posters were glad I was no longer in the chorus. Since they could easily have seen my profile, I assume some know who I am, so I guess I am not welcome there anymore. No big deal, I stick by my comments. Maybe you didn't understand the title, "An Embarrassment of Divas", it is based on the old phrase "an embarrassment of riches".

Criticism is part of the game fellows. I accept the same when I decide to publicly post my blog entries. I have had others disagree with what I have said, sometimes I disagree and sometimes I take their words into consideration. We would all love to hear nothing but "it was better than Cats, I will see it again and again and again", but we don't. If you are going to step out on stage and charge people to see you, you are going to get noticed, good, bad and indifferent.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Viagra is More Important than Children In Poverty

Missouri foreclosure rate at 22 year high.

Missouri poverty rate at 11.5%

Missouri children sliding into poverty 3 times the national rate (due considerably to Boy-Gov's cuts in child health programs)

Missouri 36th out of 51 in unemployment rate, Iowa, Arkansas and Kansas significantly better

It goes on... yet the two Republicans, mired in a slugfest over who is more conservative than the other, argue over viagra.

What morons....

Monday, June 16, 2008

An Embarrassment of Divas

Judy, Liza, Barbra, Madonna, Carol Channing, Julie Andrews, Marilyn Monroe, Cher, Tina Turner, Bette Midler and Bette Davis… all done by one performer.

Good GOD! A feast of Divas! Drag heaven! All gracing the stage of the Folly Theatre for DIVAS! the Spring Heartland Men's Chorus concert this past weekend.

Drag Queen (drag queen is too common and not fitting of this man's talent, let's say Drag Goddess Extraordinaire) Christopher Peterson from Key West Via New Brunswick, Canada and LA, doesn’t lamely lip-sync, he sings and talks in his diva's voices. Blessed (Or cursed) with a an almost mezzo-soprano voice, and a natural acting ability, he does some pretty convincing impressions. His thin, non descript body and face is a perfect canvas to re-create the face, features and images of his characters. The gowns and dresses, which he makes himself, are a fashion extravaganza unto themselves.

The whole show was opened by Joan Rivers who then introduced Marilyn Monroe. The opening number was of course “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”. The gown was a silver slinky affair. Then on to a mediocre Carol Channing (not his best) but a rousing “Hello Dolly from the chorus. It was actually funny; he took the Marilyn wig, turned it around and then became Carol. After that, Liza came on and then off the stage she went and on came Judy. Liza and the chorus did “New York, New York”, then Judy did “Rock-a-bye Your Baby” and the “Trolley Song” and “Happy Days are Here Again/Get Happy”. She was best as Judy capturing the voice and the mannerisms and the looks. Even stumbling around on stage as the drug crazed Judy would in her last days.

Then we got Julie Andrews as Maria Von Trap and the Sound of Music, complete with little gray duster dress. She taught the “von Tramp” kids (a real motley crew) Do Re Mi and did “My Favorite Things”. She did Julie well too, with a cutsie English accent and manners.

Not a second later, Tina Turner came out bathed in a smoky red light to do “Proud Mary”. His costume changes would have been a treat to see. I am sure sometimes he had one on over the other and some of the dresses made appearances longer or shorter as needed. Masterful, not an eyelash out of place either!

The second half was introduced by Bette Davis. She made a damn nice Bette, cigarette and all. Of course, Bette had to diss Joan Crawford and led the audience in the Gay mantra "You are Blanche, you are in that wheelchair" from "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane". Right after Bette came Barbra, complete with nose. She was an ok Barbra, more of a caricature than a realization. The chorus took over and did a Carpenter’s medley and another odd piece I did not get and then Bette Midler came out for “Friends”. He did not do Bette as well as others. I didn’t recognize her until she belted out the song. The show ended with Cher doing “Believe” and Madonna doing “Vogue” and “Material Girl.”

I cam glad I was not in the chorus, (I am a past Chorus member) they were on stage for 3 hours and were back up for a lot of it. Some chorus members were a motley crew of drag and leather boys, kind of raunchy for the Madonna numbers. Off color jokes and the slinky dancing made the evening a kind of adult affair, a welcome change from the PC concert world of late.

Peterson came back as Judy for the finale and encore, a spot-on and audience pleasing rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" straight out of her drug and liquor fogged performances of the 60's. It was excellent, marred a bit for me by an off kilter accompaniment, either she or the instrumentals were not quite in sync.

One thing I miss, in a show like this, is the chorus. What an instrument 130 talented male voices can be. HMC does not use this enough. Solos, ensembles and dancers all too often steal the show.

This show was all Peterson's or should I say Judy's, Julie's, Tina's, Barbara's...?

And his off color jokes and remarks, almost worth the price of admission themselves:

"A bulimic's birthday party??? That is where the cake comes out of the girl"!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I was asked to write and deliver a prayer for a church service this AM.

Father God:

From your vantage point, we must look like a great mass of beggars at the door.

Give me this

Grant me that

I need this

I need

I want

I hurt

Some of us beg with eyes upturned in hope, others in despair. Let me add my voice to the begging: forgive us, bless us, encourage us, comfort us.

Yes, we are beggars, but in reality only poor and hungry for your love and grace.

We may not understand the answers to our begging, and we may not understand why we even have to beg, but we know that you will take care of us. Our needs fulfilled, our hunger fed, our sorrow comforted, our sins forgiven. We know because we believe, we have faith and that through Jesus Christ your son and our savior, we will be changed from beggars to the richest blest, full of your grace, secure in your love.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Dreaded Day

A dreaded day is here, I hesitate to write it... Friday the 13th. YAAAAAAA! There is a great name for the fear of Friday the 13th: paraskavedekatriaphobia.

I am a Triskaidekaphobic big time. I hate the number 13 and as I have written before (Haunted, Still Haunted) it haunts me on a daily basis. I can count on one hand the number of days in the last year I have not looked at a digital clock and saw it was 13 minutes past the hour. For today, I have a remedy for that... I covered the damn things up. In the corner of my computer screen is a little square of paper that is covering the computer clock. The clock in the office is covered by one of my hats. The coffee maker is covered with a towel. The clock on the digital cable box is turned around, the clock on the vanity unplugged. Maybe for a small space I have too many clocks?? Some just come with the appliance unfortunately.

I am not alone, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute, 17 to 21 million people in the US are affected by a fear of this day. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business (hello! I am not looking at my clock and not going anywhere today) taking flights or even getting out of bed. Some say the economy loses an estimated that $800 or $900in lost revenue or productivity on Friday the 13th.

Well, so far so good for the clock. But I reconciled the building petty cash this afternoon. Sure enough, after subtracting the receipts I had accumulated, I have $113.13 in cash.

I can't win.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tom Macaluso

Some people are legends in their own time. Others are legends in their own mind. Kansas City restaurateur Tom Macaluso was an unique combination of both. Macaluso died Sunday, it was announced, a little over a year after he closed his legendary restaurant on 39th st. He was 58.

One rarely knew what to expect upon entering his eatery. Well, with the exception of his large frame behind the bar, a packed room and lots of noise. The place was tiny, always busy. The food, Italian fare, was usually good, but nothing really spectacular. It certainly was not a place to take a first date, or for a quiet night out. Macaluso's was a process

The question mark was Tom himself. He could be surly, usually greeting people with a gruff "sit down", "get outta the way" or "we're full, come back another time". I do not think the word "sorry" passed his lips often. He took no crap off of anyone. People tell me if you were his friend, he'd move the earth for you. Generous to his staff, many were loyal to him to the end. But, and this is part of the legend and even his charm, if a diner stiffed one of his servers for a tip, or even didn't tip as much as Tom thought they should, he'd chase after them and admonish them publicly for their sin. Some paid up, some ran like hell. I actually saw that once, I thought it was great. Being a former waiter myself, I know how snotty people can take their frustrations out on the poor schlep who slaves to bring them their dinner. On, and complain about your dinner, he'd make it right but you'd be told not to come back. If you did, he'd likely not serve you.

The vast majority of the time, he was brash, rowdy, friendly, gregarious and just plain nuts. You could tell he enjoyed life. When the business got old and the competition from other "corporate type" restaurants got to him, he called it quits. Quitting while still on top of his game, that was his style.

Tom Macaluso was the type that would never last in the corporate run "take care of our stakeholders" cookie-cutter world of the current restaurant industry. Any corporate types that managed to infiltrate his operation would have been shot on sight... or at least kicked out the door.

Addendum: since I posted this at about 7:15am this morning, I have had at least 17 people who have searched for Tom Macaluso as of 2:35 PM. Tom was unique, and will be missed by many.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Season Finale Kansas City Symphony: Beethoven and Berlioz

Another season has passed into history for the Kansas City Symphony. A stellar line-up of renowned soloists graced the Lyric Theatre stage: Garrick Ohlsson (who started the season), Yuja Wang, Colin Currie banging the daylights out of Rouse's "der gerettete Alberich", Joshua Bell, Concertmistress Kaniko Ito's suave Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto (easily the equal of any of the other violin soloists in the last few seasons), Jane Eaglen, Jeremy Denk and Jonathon Biss concluding this past weekend.

This programming this season leaned a bit towards the Romantic standards; more Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Wagner and Tchaikovsky, but presented some contemporary works including Higdon's Blue Cathedral, Lou Harrison's Pipa Concerto, The aforementioned Rouse, and Zhou Long. Big crowd pleasers included "Pictures at an Exhibition", "The Planets", Verdi Requiem and Beethoven's 7th Symphony. Lesser heard works included Tchaikovsky's 1st Symphony, Dvorak Violin Concerto and Janacek's "Taras Bulba".

Concerts appeared to be well attended and the annual Celebration at the Station on Memorial Day drew a crowd of I would say at least 30,000 likely more.

The season finale was a fitting cap on the season, Beethoven's 3rd Piano Concerto with Jonathon Biss as solo and Berlioz's captivating Symphonie Fantastique.

Biss and Stern turned in a muscular albeit somewhat stately performance of the Concerto. However forceful and powerful the first movement and the finale were, the central Largo was tender and sentimental without being cloying and lethargic. Biss certainly showed his technical skills by tossing off the cadenzas with ease, his deep, commanding tone plus the exquisite clarity and graceful phrasing the long trilling melodies of the Largo. One thing annoyed me, as in so many of the younger performers, some of his mannerisms (holding his hands above the piano as if he was ready to hit it and the exaggerated sweep of his hands away from the keyboard at the end of a passage) got in the way of the music. As Dimitri Mitropoulos was supposed to have said to a young Leonard Bernstein (supposedly, I may have it all wrong) "Before you try to impress the ladies in the balcony, be sure the horns come in on time". Too much trying to impress by gesture and not letting the music speak for itself.

The Symphonie Fantastique received a splendid performance, certainly not rushed but neither a leisurely one either. Certainly a sensitive and exciting performance, but not a particularly manic one, which is fine by me. The two last movements, the famous "March to the Scaffold" and the "Witches' Sabbath", received dramatic and forceful performances with many nice touches such as the screaming clarinets and the powerful tubas in the Sabbath and the incisive forward motion of the March. The oboe/English horn exchange in the "Country Scene" was well done, the off stage oboe a nice touch. I missed the somewhat off color, sinister bells heard in Munch's classic Boston recording, but at least they were not bright chimes as I have heard before.

A fitting end for a great season of music here in the great flyover of the Midwest. Not many orchestras can boast of a positive budget balance, increased attendance, new recordings released and over 30,000 people at a concert. We seem to be doing something right here!

Saturday, June 07, 2008


No Butts about it, Derrie-Air is a fake airline. The cheeky little ruse was exposed, or the case cracked as it were, after ads for the "airline" appeared in Philadelphia area newspapers. Derrie-Air, the "world's first carbon neutral airline" advertised "by the pound" fares such as $2.25/lb Philadelphia to Phoenix and proudly stated "the more you weigh the more you pay". They promised to plant a tree for every pound of carbon their planes would generate.

Derrie-Air is firmly seated on the ground however. It was simply a one-day campaign created by the papers' owner and its ad agency to "demonstrate the power of our brands in generating awareness and generating traffic for our advertisers, and put a smile on people's faces."

As fat as I am, I would have stuck with Southwest.

Read the website, it is a hoot.


Friday, June 06, 2008

A Message to Jefferson City

Ok, you State Drones, get to some real work, if you have any.

Us who work and pay our taxes to support you are sick of you using State time and computers to dig up dirt on Jay Nixon. Most of the Missouri Department of Administration seems to have read my blog in the last couple of days according to my site logs. What were they searching for: "Jay Nixon".

Yes, I was critical of him in a recent post. But let me make this straight, I think he is 10 googleplex times better a leader than your silly ass, childish, vindictive, ignorant little prick Mattie Blunt. A trained flea would be a better replacement in my opinion. And I just may write one in on the ballot in November, provided you let me vote.

The level of partisan mudslinging on the part of the Republicans in this state has reached historic proportions. I blame it on a spoiled little brat of a Gov, steeped in Republican arrogance who can not accept the fact he failed and has damaged the state. Like his big bro Bush, he thinks we are the ones that are wrong and only he, a messiah from the right, has all the answers.

Hope for some change in November. But sadly, not likely in this now moribund right wing bastion of "Missery"

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Kicked in the Teeth By Jay Nixon

I am madder than a wet hen at the presumptive Democratic nominee for Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.

I was not surprised at all to see our increasingly irrelevant Boy-Gov using his state supported mouthpiece (ie the Missouri Governors official web site) to rail against gay marriage. I was not surprised Blunt acted like the pretentious little bully he is and taunted Nixon as to why he did not join other 10 other Attorneys General and ask the California Supreme Court to stay a decision on gay marriage.

What pissed me off royally is that Nixon caved in.

Now, Jay, with one little decision, you get kicked on all sides. Bunt is crowing "told you so... made you do it... nya nya nya". The state hates the little pecker, Jay...IGNORE HIM! Now, gays and lesbians and our supporters feel even more betrayed. Kicked in the teeth. Through many of your statements, it is obvious you are not a big supporter of our community. You missed an opportunity; by staying silent, you could have won a small victory. By speaking out, you lost it all.

And it was all for nothing, the California Supreme Court didn't listen to you.

I can't support you Jay Nixon. As so often happens with African Americans and other minorities, you take the gay and lesbian vote for granted. You think you can do what you want just because you are a Democrat and we'll vote for you just because the opposition is even worse. No more. I'll do Libertarian, Green, VooDoo, or even Communist to be sure I do not cast my vote for you.

I have asked Puggles if she would run for Governor. She declined, stating she would rather remain Queen of Pugs and Supreme Ruler of Alaska. Missouri is a lost cause, she states.

I could not agree more.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Will The US Quake Too?

At Princess Diana's State funeral in 1997 Queen Elizabeth shocked the nation by acquiescing to public opinion and actually bowing in honor of someone of lower rank. (When Britain Quaked)It signaled that the nation and the Monarchy were leaving leaden tradition behind and facing a new more diverse and egalitarian future.

Is the US about to follow suit?

It appears likely that the US is about to have its first viable non-white candidate for President. And likely a female Vice President candidate as well.

Is the US voting population ready for this quake? Time will tell.

Eight years of right wing rule have taken its toll on the US. Bush has virtually turned the US against most of the world, flying in the face of what others think and of reality. Fear and insecurity mean our borders are virtual prison walls, keeping out everyone but illegals. Travelers avoid the US like the plague as the security apparatus asks for more and more ID and red tape. Our economy is a shambles, civil rights trampled upon, the justice system a cruel joke, and who can forget the mess that Bush made with Katrina?

Die hards will do anything to keep their power. Obama and Clinton will be bloody and beaten-up by the party goon squad by the time the election is over. The right wing controlled media will be sure to keep Rev Wright in the limelight and keep Iraq, $4 gas, Katrina, election fraud, and the faltering economy on the back burner. Many will not accept a black or a woman in power, some think things are just fine and do not want to shake things up. If Obama and Clinton take the election, it will not be an easy fight.

For me, I think we need the earthquake. We need someone from out of the blue to come in and shake the country out like an old bed sheet, to hang it out in the sun and fresh air and bring some life to it.

It is time to stop whining about Gay marriage, abortion and all that crap and take the economy by the horns, challenge the oil cartel, end the useless war in Iraq, deal with global issues as partners not bullies and give all citizens their God given rights.

I am asking a lot. I am not sure Obama is up to it. Not sure Clinton is either. I know Mc Cain is not and would keep the status quo. But I am willing, and from what I see many other citizens are as well, to take a chance.

Sometimes a little rattling of the earth is good. Besides having Bill and Hillary back will send the Republicans into a tizzy fit!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Kansas City Symphony: Dvorak, Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn

It is a rare privilege for an assistant conductor to be given the responsibility for a regular season subscription concert. Assistants, adhering to tradition, are usually relegated the grunt work of community and pops concerts and rehearsals.

Thus, Kansas City Symphony Music Director Michael Stern showed his confidence in his assistant, Damon Gupton, and gave him full rein over this weekend's concerts.

The program was an interesting choice of solidly 19th century pieces that are far from obscure, yet not exactly performed ad nauseam: Mendelssohn's "Hebrides Overture: Fingal's Cave", the Dvorak Violin Concerto with Augustin Hadelich as solo and Tchaikovsky's graceful Symphony # 1 "Winter Dreams".

The Hebrides Overture is of course the most often performed of the trio and received a warm but somewhat mellow performance that didn't quite capture the wild, churning awesomeness of the storied sea cave of the Scottish coastline. Certainly, the orchestra sounded great with solid brass and the usual suave wind contributions. But is it just me, or has the strings' tone become a little coarse as the season has progressed? At least it seemed that way in the Overture.

Dvorak's Violin Concerto is a wonderful work, from the dramatic opening chords and first movement, through the elegant and nostalgic Adagio and on to the folk tinged "furiant" finale. Far from unfamiliar, it is still less of a repertoire staple as is the Mendelssohn, Brahms or Tchaikovsky. Hadelich, 2006 International Violin Competition Gold Medal winner, showed his prodigious technique and command of lyrical, almost vocal phrasing in this long-melodied work. The opening taught and well argued, the connecting adagio spacious but never slack, Hadelich securely executed all the winding, trilling filigree. The concluding Allegro giocoso was just perfect, both orchestra and soloist dancing all the way to the end.

My only quibble, Hadlich's tone, although perfectly pitched, seemed to be a bit tentative and lacking in projection. Hardly the violin's fault as it is nothing less than a 1683 Strad on loan to Hadlich as part of the competition prize. Probably more contributory would be the notoriously dry (lousy actually) Lyric Theatre acoustics, although I have not noticed this with other violin soloists.

Tchaikovsky's sunny First Symphony inhabits the sound world of the ballets in contrast to the more sternly dramatic and better known trio of final symphonies numbers 4 through 6. Gupton and the orchestra nailed this performance, with stirring brass (where did they come from??? or should I say "finally"), pointed and frosty winds and lush strings. A brisk tempo led to a swiftly unfolding winter dream and helped mitigate the symphony’s longueurs. At the same time he brought out the hushed melancholy of the Adagio with style and grace. In this case the smaller string section of the symphony (as opposed to the larger ensembles that have recorded the work) helped to bring forth the inner details and harmonies, so often obscured in a glaze of strings. Gupton drove forth but never forced the sprawling finale, demonstrating that the "Winter Dreams" stands head and shoulders above its sisters the 2nd and 3rd, and points the way to the final symphonic masterpieces yet to come.

Ask my concert companion, Barbara, and she will tell you that I am pretty particular about giving a performance a standing ovation; many times I have been among the few still seated. This one, however, deserved it without hesitation.

Sadly, Maestro Damon has decided to move on, off to New York to pursue his dream of combining acting and music. When us minor league teams produce a winner, the big time boys come calling and want to make them a star; as is also the case with our superb Principal clarinet, Michael Wayne who was wooed to the big time of the Boston Symphony. We’ll be the poorer for their departure, but grateful for their contributions to the renaissance of the Kansas City Symphony.