Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Summer Break

Even ducks take a summer vacation. Although this duck has already taken his vacation, I am going to shut down the blog for a bit and not worry about it. It is the dog days of summer you know.

See you soon! D and P

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What I am Listening to Today

The second new recording by the Kansas City Symphony is garnering some great reviews. I can not add much more to the positive review of the disc on ClassicsToday. Surprisingly great sound considering it was recorded in the cavernous Community Of Christ Auditorium (formerly the RLDS Auditorium) in Independence. I was worried about the sound being scattered and "boomy" from the large space, but the Reference Recording engineers know their stuff and turned out a well recorded disc.

The order of the two Sibelius suites was reversed, intelligently, to make a more satisfying whole from the short interludes and atmosphere pieces that comprise the incidental music to "The Tempest". The Sullivan is a fine example the composer's craft and one of his earliest works. He gained immortality, for those not familiar with the music, as the musical half of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Available at the usual suspects, ArchivMusic, HB Direct , or CD Universe.

Music for Shakespeare's "Tempest"
Sir Arthur Sullivan
Jean Sibelius
Michael Stern, Kansas City Symphony
Reference Recordings RR115

Friday, July 25, 2008

Photographic Evidence of Water on Mars

Yes, there is photographic evidence of water on Mars:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

HM Writes a Letter to Murphy

Here in is presented a letter to HM's dear friend Murphy the Pug, You can check out Murphy here: Murphy the Pug

Royal Personal Correspondence
HM, The Queen
Puggingham Palace

July 23, 2008

Dear Murphy,

Here is somes of the news at the Palace.

There was DRAMA at the garden last week. We has a community gardens where my servants grows some foods, but nothings I likes, there is no Purina or cheese growing there… or liver. I ordered the Royal Limo to takes me there so I could sees the squish (ed. Note: HM means Squash). When we arrived in splendor, I seeds Mr. Andrew and Miss Sally who grows foods there too. They had a d-o-g Zaydee with them.

Murphy… Zaydee is a strange looking d-o-g. She’s a wiener d-o-g but has somethings else too. I think she has some terrier-ist in her. I calls them that because they are terrors. I likes her, and we sats in the shade and watched the peoples pull some weeds and gets some peppers and squishes.

Then, Murphy, it was a disaster! Alongs comes Wilbur! Wilbur is a 14,567lb 80 foot high Great Dane. You could put 83 Zaydees on top of each others and there would still be room for my Glorious Presence.

Zaydee did not likes Wilbur. She went coo-coo. She attackeded Wilburs and barked and snapped and chased and bit at the big locomotive d-o-g. Wilbur is a bit of a puss and went running. It was hilarious, Murphy, the little wiener d-o-g chasing and scaring off the big Great Dane. I snorted my Royal Approval and Amusement.

Wilbur gots in trouble as he smashed some plants and ran all over the place. Zaydee went to Miss Sally and stayed away from Wilbur. Wilbur went home, I banished him from my Royal Sight. Zaydee and I dranks some waters and then we went back to the Palace as it was too hots. Also Wilbur drank a whole bucket of waters, he is a pig.

A couple evenings ago, I hads an impromptu garden party with my new Subject and Royal Friend Olive. She is a little 1 year old black PUG! I likes Olive. She is a black olive, but she has a green collar with a reds stripes so it looks like a green olives. I tolds her she needs a brother names Martini. I likes having a PUG neighbor. My other neighbor d-o-g is a mop named Gracie. We also has a neighbor Willie, but he is as big a galoot as Wilbur. I thinks Olive is the bests.

Thats all the newses from the Palace. Our best wishes to you, dear Murphy.

Puggles, QOP, SRA

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Picture This...

Picture this...NBC TV...1990...

Blanche: "My life is an open book..."
Sophia: "Your life's an open blouse."

Sadly, Sophia is not around to shoot zingers back at the easy target that was Blanche. Estelle Getty, the diminutive actress who spent most of her career languishing in small roles before landing (on her 3rd try) a supporting role that later turned into a starring one in 1985 as the sarcastic 80 something Sophia Petrillo on TV's "The Golden Girls," died today at 84.

Getty worked her way through stand up, vaudeville, stage and small movie and TV roles before gaining screen immortality as Sophia. The Golden Girls was one of the jewels of TV comedy, winning multiple awards. All the show's stars won at least one Emmy, a feat equaled only by the stars of "All In The Family" and "Will and Grace".

RIP Sophia.... now no one will ever know what happened to Jimmy Hoffa.

(If you were a Golden Girls fan, you would remember that Sophia let it slip she knew the fate of Hoffa)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Solid Craftsmanship

I have remarked before about things not being built as they used to be built. The 1949-51 era Crosley Shelvador refrigerator in my sister's basement that has in been in service continually since at least 1950. The vintage 1950's (est. 1956) Filter Queen vacuum that still runs, the 21 year old Lincoln (my dear Queen Mary) that starts day after day and has rescued more than one person driving a much newer auto. I think in the quality minded and not "stakeholder" minded days, people who built things still had pride in their work. They had loyalty to their company and actually were rewarded for doing a good job, not just cutting costs to the bone to make some investor rich.

I was reminded of this today when the elevator service people visited the Towers. This was this company's first work with us, replacing the corporate assholes with a local owned company with some class. Anyway, the tech was in the elevator shaft and was inspecting the bottom of the cab.

"Come look at this!", he exclaimed. I bent down to his level; he was in the pit and the stopped elevator cab was a couple feet above him.

What he noticed even amazed me. The bottom of the cab, something no one ever sees unless you are in the hoistway pit, was covered in a panel of beautifully varnished walnut wood. It looked like the same gorgeous walnut that covers the interior of the cab. Where the walnut met the cast iron frame, the seams were covered by walnut trim, matching the trim in the cab. Since the cab is original, built in 1914, this wood has to be original too. Now, today, who would cover the unseen bottom of an object with fine wood and trim it as well?? You'd be lucky to find a sheet of cardboard.

Our front door is original 1914 too. When I had a locksmith out to fix the lock, he had me notice that the original hole for the lock had been hand chiseled out of the 6in solid oak door, (the door weighs an estimated 350 lbs). "Someone", he said, "had to have taken and hammer and chisel and perfectly cut this round hole to fit a solid brass lock and key".

Today, it would have been plastic and lasted a week.

Friday, July 18, 2008

David Sedaris: “When you are Engulfed in Flames”

I have been a fan of David Sedaris ever since I by chance heard him read his essay “I Like Guys” from his book “Naked” on the radio, gosh what would that be?? Ten years ago? At least that. “Naked”, from 1997, is a collection of essays chronicling his life, from his unusual upbringing in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina, through his booze-and-drug-infested college years, and on to his aimless wandering as a young adult. Full of sardonic wit and dark humor, “Naked” included the classic “Dinah the Christmas Whore” a hilarious story of Sedaris' job at a cafeteria during his Christmas break as a teenager and his and sister Lisa’s mission to extract her coworker (a recently paroled former prostitute) from a domestic disturbance. I mean, doesn’t every middle class family have a prostitute in for Christmas Eve?

After Naked came “Me Talk Pretty One Day” (2000) and then “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” in 2004; both, are in my mind, classics of American humor.

Now after 4 years and several name changes comes his new book of essays “When you are Engulfed in Flames”. As in his previous oeuvre there are some hilarious, laugh out loud moments, such as “Solution to Saturday's Puzzle” when his throat lozenge falls on to a bitchy airplane seatmate and “That's Amore” a bittersweet study of his rude, yet somehow lovable neighbor Helen, whom Sedaris makes you loathe and pity at the same time. However funny at times, I detected a bit of ennui in “Engulfed”, a bit of weariness and forced hilarity, instead of the easily flowing sarcasm and rapier wit of the previous books. Maybe because that is his life now, jetting comfortably first-class from Paris to London, the US, summers in the house in Normandy, spending $20,000 to jet off to Tokyo in an effort to quit smoking. The Sedaris of his youth, his family, his drug and booze filled wanderings were so much more interesting. Instead of funny and endearing, I find him annoying.

The bulk of the book is an expanded memoir of his attempt (I assume successful) to quit smoking. “The Smoking Section” starts out brisk and humorous but soon bogs down in a vain attempt to find life in Japan amusing. His struggle to learn Japanese at a language school is more pathetic and annoying than funny.

That words pathetic and annoying keep returning as I review my just finished reading of this book. Pathetic, forced, annoying. A now rich person trying to act insane while jetting the globe at will. I have read and re-read “Naked”, “Me Talk Pretty” and “Corduroy” several times. Somehow, I just do not see that I will return to “Engulfed” time after time.

I was lucky that I got to meet him at a book signing after “Naked” was published and told him I fell in love with his work upon hearing that on the radio. “I remember that.. I had to take a huge dump the whole time I was reading that…painful”. (Thank you sir… moving away quickly…) Thus, one of my prized possessions is a personalized and signed copy of “Naked”:

“To Don with Love, David Sedaris”.

The “W” on his written "with" is in the shape of a pair of butt cheeks, complete with a few hairs and pimples.

I, for one, wish he’d never grown up. And I still love you David, but we have to realize something, friend... you are getting old now, like me… and life is less interesting… like mine.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Monkey Business

From the "Truth is Stranger Than Fiction" world comes this story:

Springfield woman’s lawsuit alleges discrimination against her monkey

SPRINGFIELD | A southwest Missouri woman has sued Wal-Mart, local health officials and Cox Health Systems, claiming they discriminated against her and her monkey named Richard.Debby Rose of Springfield said in the lawsuit that the 10-year-old bonnet macaque helps curb a social anxiety disorder that can cause her to have panic attacks in public.

The suit contends the Springfield-Greene County Health Department lacked the authority to decide that Richard is not a service animal under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Health officials in 2006 sent letters to restaurants and grocery stores, advising them not to let Rose in with the monkey. Rose also alleges she was denied access to Cox Health Systems facilities.

No wonder no one respects lawyers, the legal system and our litigious society.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hell in a Handbasket

To my eyes, the world, and the USA in particular, is in the fast lane to hell, securely trapped in that proverbial handbasket.

Really, just look at the news. Everything is negative. Layoffs and buyouts abound, sending employees and communities to uncertain futures while a few “stakeholders” get rich. Mrs McCain just made millions off the Busch-InBev deal that will soon devastate St Louis. All the money Busch put into the city as far as charitable contributions… likely gone. The new owner, who jets around the world, obviously doesn’t care.. besides more money for his beloved stakeholders to hoard.

No one is out and about. Who can afford it?? Gas is at an all time high, foreclosures wrack the housing market (though strangely not here as much as in some of the hot spots, where people went looking for sun and fun and found prices high as a kite), jobs going poof! all over the place, airlines tanking, autos dying, inflation at its highest levels in years. Read the paper with a bottle of pills and scotch to wash it down, that is what it will take!

Our justice and courts system is so corrupt and out of control that it honestly makes me puke to even think about it. People with cash and connections get by, the poor get slammed. So, how is that so different when we had dictators and kings running the show? Have we not progressed as a society in 250 years?

Try to have a serious political discourse and you get slapped, insulted and sidetracked with silly shit like Obama’s a muslim terrorist, someone “flip-flopped” about something, or wants to take your guns and kids away. Meanwhile an economy withers, a war rages, depression soars, and unemployment is the norm. But damn it, we can't have abortions, gun restrictions or homosexuals getting married.

Jeeez what a fucking mess.

I have the scotch.. all I need now are some good pills to finish it off.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Quatorze Julliet 2008

Joyeux Quatorze Julliet!

Aujourd'hui est La Fête Nationale ou Quatorze Juillet en La Republique Francaise. (Better known as Bastille Day in English.)

En l'honneur du jour, voici est L'Hymmne National Francais:

La Marseillaise:

Allons! Enfants de la Patrie!
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Contre nous de la tyrannie,
L'étendard sanglant est levé!
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras

Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes.
Aux armes, citoyens!
Aux armes, citoyens
Formez vos bataillons!
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur...
Abreuve nos sillons!

Avez un jour joyeux, mes amis Francais!

(...and forgive my rusty French)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What I am Listening to Today

Mahler Symphony # 8

Barbara Kubiak, Izabela Klosinska, Marta Boberska (soprano); Jadwiga Rappé, Ewa Marciniec (alto); Timonthy Bentch (tenor); Wojtek Drabowicz (baritone); Piotr Nowacki (bass)

Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra; Polish Radio Choir (Kraków); Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University Choir; Warsaw Boy's Choir

Antoni Wit Naxos- 8.550533-34

What can one say about the so called "Symphony of a Thousand"? Huge forces, with choruses, orchestra and soloists, easily add up to the magic 1,000 mark. Mahler attempted something truly novel in the 8th, a melding of sacred and profane, a huge symphonic/choral canvas in two huge movements, hardly related to each other. The first is a massive setting of the hymn in Latin "Veni Creator Spiritus", complex sounding but really almost a textbook sonata form. The second is an almost hour long setting of the final scene of Goethe's Faust. A tribute to the eternal feminine, inspired by his devotion to his beloved and complex wife Alma. Here the textures thin out, even with vast forces, they are rarely used all at once, but more of a huge palate of textures and colors to paint his vision of the "ever-womanly".

Although costly and complex the work is no stranger to performance and recording. This one, on the budget Naxos label is a pure joy. Fine voices, excellent choral work, good pacing, excellent sonics giving the massive forces the clarity needed and a certain spritual furvor that is often lacking.

This, along with the wonderful Colorado MahlerFest version from 1995 conducted by Robert Olson (Available on line) remain my standards for this compelling and unique symphony.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Meet Isabelle

A quick trip to the garden today led to an unexpected pleasure. As I was watering the squash plants I noticed a nice big, ripe yellow fruit peaking out from the imposing leaves of the plant.

My first squash. This is as important as my first date or my first time driving a car, but slightly behind my first blow-job. All the expense and time buying the plants, planting, watering, weeding, fertilizing and driving back and forth to the garden has begun to pay off.

I was going to leave it but thought it looked big enough and ready so I plucked it from the stem. I was going to fix it tonight, but I had other plans so it looks like tomorrow I'll slice it and grill it lightly on the Jenn-Air. A little butter and it will be ready. YUM!

From the looks of things, in a couple of weeks, I'll be sick of the damn things.

I named her Isabelle:

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Joe Republican

I have recently had some right wingers go totally off when GWB is criticized. As a rule, they tend to lose all sense of reality and start their rant painting all liberals as hypocritical and GWB as a great hero, that we will someday all lift to sainthood.

Well, here is a little blip that puts the ball back in their court.

A Day in the Life of Joe Average Republican

Monday, July 07, 2008

Farmer Brown

With some good rains and reasonable weather (but not today) the garden is growing well. I have it on good authority that some tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash have been harvested. Today I also saw some peppers and jalapenos ready for plucking. I go over about everyday and splash the vegetables with their daily ration of water, taken bucket by bucket from the barrels that collect the rain water run off from the apartment building next door. We are nothing but clever are we not?

I took the trusty old Easy Share over today to memorialize the progress. And so, here are some pics from the garden:

My peppers and David's tomatoes:

For some reason no peppers are ripe yet, but some are coming!

General view of the garden. Note the corn. My grandmother always said corn needed to be knee high by the 4th of July to be a good crop. Of course today's hybrid super-corn is knee high two days after it is planted. But since this is just plain ol' corn, it has managed, as did corn of yesteryear, to be knee high just in time. We got a late start since Greg did not take possession early enough to plant the early spring vegetables, thus there is a lot of empty space. Next year I think it will be full:

My squash is enormous:

And productive!:

Tonight I sauteed some string beans in a bit of olive oil and fresh basil, Thai basil and thyme from my herb garden.

I kind of like this grow your own thing!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Jesse Helms: Gone for Good

"Jesse Helms was a kind, decent and humble man and a passionate defender of what he called 'the Miracle of America.' So it is fitting that this great patriot left us on the Fourth of July," ~ GWB

My reaction....BARF!!!

But as Bette Davis was supposed to have said about Joan Crawford: "Mother always told me to speak good of the dead. Jesse Helms is dead... GOOD!"

Jesse Helms on "Negroes":

"White people, wake up before it is too late. Do you want Negroes working beside you, your wife and your daughters, in your mills and factories? Frank Graham(A 1950's North Carolina candidate) favors mingling of the races." Another ad featured photographs Helms himself had doctored to illustrate the allegation that Graham's wife had danced with a black man.

He called the University of North Carolina "the University of Negroes and Communists." Black civil rights activists were "Communists and sex perverts."

Of civil rights protests Helms wrote, "The Negro cannot count forever on the kind of restraint that's thus far left him free to clog the streets, disrupt traffic, and interfere with other men's rights." He also wrote, "Crime rates and irresponsibility among Negroes are a fact of life which must be faced."

Helms on homosexuals:

Over the years Helms has declared homosexuality "degenerate," and homosexuals "weak, morally sick wretches." Helms opposed the Kennedy-Hatch AIDS bill in 1988 by stating "There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy." Despite his opposition AIDS money did come from the Government but he railed on that less money should be spent on people with AIDS because they got sick as a result of "deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct." He added, "we've got to have some common sense about a disease transmitted by people deliberately engaging in unnatural acts."

Jesse Helms being a racist:

And the man ABC News now describes as a "conservative icon" (8/22/01) in 1993 sang "Dixie" in an elevator to Carol Moseley-Braun, the first African-American woman elected to the Senate, bragging, "I'm going to make her cry. I'm going to sing Dixie until she cries."

Helms filibustered making Martin Luther King day a national holiday and was the sole senator in opposition to it.

And before anyone says that Helms came around on AIDS in his later years. No he didn't. He came around on AIDS in Africa. Still didn't want to help Americans with AIDS because, you know, they were "homersexuals".

Friday, July 04, 2008

We'll Have A Homosexual Ol' Time!

The rabidly anti gay "American Family Association" (the same group that made "Family Values" synonymous with bigotry, hate and intolerance) uses an auto correction filter when it publishes stories on its website. Thus the word "gay" is automatically corrected to homosexual. But that backfires sometimes.

They ran a story about runner Tyson Gay (you know what is coming) that turned out thus:

"Tyson Homosexual was a blur in blue, sprinting 100 meters faster than anyone ever has. His time of 9.68 seconds at the U.S. Olympic trials Sunday doesn't count as a world record, because it was run with the help of a too-strong tailwind.

Here's what does matter: Homosexual qualified for his first Summer Games team and served notice he's certainly someone to watch in Beijing.

'It means a lot to me," the 25-year-old Homosexual said. "I'm glad my body could do it, because now I know I have it in me.' "

So to this wacko group, is the bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima the "Enola Homosexual"?

Did Fred Astaire star in the movie "The Homosexual Divorcee"?? Must have been filmed in the heathen liberal hell hole of Canada, or Massachusetts.

Was the last line in "The Flintstones" really "We'll have a homosexual ol' time...WILMA!!!!" Betty and Wilma as Lesbians? Barney must have been a perfect bottom!

God, these religious nuts are insane.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Coupl'a Things VI

1) It was inevitable, gas is $4.00 a gallon here now. Missouri and specifically Kansas City had some of the cheapest gas in the country. Odd that we feel gas below $4 is cheap.

2) So McCain is a flip flop and so is Obama. I'd rather have someone realize they made a mistake than have a "leader" like Bush and Boy-Gov who are so damn arrogant they can't admit they are wrong even when it means people die. Hard headedness and arrogance are bigger "sins" than flip-flop, although FOX would not agree.

3)Quite a storm last night. While finishing my drinking and dining at 303, it began to pour. Then the hail came, then lightning, wind, rain and all sorts of fun. Steve reported water covering a lot of the roads as he drove home.

Power was out at the Towers, though not all over. I had ceiling lights in the living room and bedroom but not in the kitchen and bath. In the kitchen the appliances were on. I had some outlets working, some not. An extension cord powered the computer and table lamp.. but with no internet and cable, I was not sure what was going on. The building gets power from several sources, what power is on depends on which grid is out. We had some lights in the hall, the light was on in the elevator, but the elevator was off. All was back about 8;30AM. The skinflints here were thrilled, we saved a few $ having the power off.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

No More Nice Guy

Fuck you.

There, I am tired of being nice so I am joining the rest of the world in being a shithead. I am going to cut in front of you, ignore you, take more than my share and dare you to say something, when you ask me to do something I am going to be sure you know you are majorly inconveniencing me,I am just going stare at you and like you are the dumbass when you call me out, lie, cheat and steal, disrespect you, just catch me, just make me... in general be an asshole.

Yes, I'll save you the details, but I have had noting but run ins with nasty, difficult and downright mean people today.

It is the world these days. If you can't beat them, join them.