Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I am not surprised, John McCain blamed the Democrats and of course Obama for Congress' failure on Monday to pass the quintillion dollar bailout for the rich and irresponsible.


I suppose that Mc Cain supported the bill I am never quite sure since one wonders sometimes where his mind is at. Assuming you do, Senator Spaz, take a look at this: 140 votes for the bailout came from Democrats... only 65 Republicans supported it, out of 202.

And remember, McCain, up until about two weeks ago, called the economy fundamentally strong. Now it is on the verge of collapse, he can do nothing else but focus on it and of course, he blames everything on Obama. oh no, not Bush, who sits on his throne like the failed jackass he is.

Oh please, my fellow citizens, elect some smart, sincere leadership in November. We are bailing as fast as we can... and still sinking.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Kansas City Symphony: Joyce DiDonato and More

My classical music mentor, Herb Glass, loved Chausson's "Poème de l'amour et de la mer", believing it was the epitome of French vocal music. Thus in one of our Sunday afternoon listen and learn sessions, the piece was the focus of my private musical education.

Myself being all of 20 and Herb being around 60, I hung on every word that this man spoke, regaling me with stories of hearing Rachmaninoff play, Toscanini conduct and Kreisler fiddle. As the LP spun Chausson's most popular work I began to wonder if Herb had not failed me. I simply was not "into", using the vernacular of the time, this piece at all. I began to mimic the now forgotten soprano's singing...Laaaaa LAAAAA la LAAAAAAA YAAAAAAAAA le AAAAAAAH!, dramatically clutching my hands to my heart, looking sadly skyward and declaring the piece boring as hell. The sound of a needle being ripped from an LP still reverberates nearly 30 years later as I was summarily dismissed and declared a fool. Herb did not speak to me for several weeks.

Last evening, Kansas City native and now world renowned soprano Joyce DiDonato and the Kansas City Symphony, Michael Stern conducting, gave me the opportunity to encounter the work again. Luckily my maturity kept me from howling. Beautifully played, well paced and sung with great passion and incredible diction, the piece still sinks into an accent grave world. Even as lush and powerful voice as DiDonato's still had problems emerging from the dense orchestration and turgid phrasing of the work. Little else to fault in the performance of this flawed work.

DiDonato returned in the second half to perform an unprogrammed encore, a charming, witty and well neigh perfect "Uno voce poco fa" from the Barber of Seville. In a jaunty red dress and clearly enjoying singing for her hometown crowd, DiDonato brought the concert to a halt, receiving a prolonged and sincere ovation.

Continuing the theme of love, Stern turned to a piece inspired by the greatest of all love stories, Romeo and Juliet. Not the familiar Tchaikovsky or even the Prokofiev, but the incidental music for the play written by American David Diamond in 1947. A dramatic overture in the spiky American mode was followed by a somewhat limp and passionless "Balcony Scene". The patronly relationship between "Romeo and Friar Lawrence" was represented perfectly by the Symphony's masculinely tenor violas. "Juliet and Her Nurse" was all breezy and chatty. The "Death of Romeo and Juliet" was deeply moving and tragic, never maudlin. A well done performance of a neglected score.

The concert was opened and closed by two Spanish tinged masterpieces. Ravel's "Alborada del Gracioso" and Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnole". The fine Ravel featured a suitably languid bassoon solo in the middle section, that lacked a bit of hazy atmosphere from the strings. The closing Rimsky-Korsakov was brilliantly played, showing the talent of the new principal clarinet and the always wonderful winds and percussion of the orchestra.

A fine start to the new season of the Kansas City Symphony.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Coupl'a Things VIII

1) The US is becoming the stupid giant of planet Earth: richer than Midas, mightier than the assembled gods, dumber than shit. Which makes the US a danger to the planet -- and to ourselves. This country cannot continue to prosper and to embrace stupidity. The two are fundamentally incompatible.

2) Cole County Persecutor (sic) Mark Richardson is in deep doo doo over guess what?? Child support. Same thing he tried to persecute me over. Hypocritical asshole... hope he rots and loses his job.

3) The new Kansas City Symphony season begins this weekend. Joyce Di Donato performs Chausson's "Poeme D'amour et de la mer". I find the piece rather dense and it and most if not all of Chausson's works are far from my favorites, but Maestro Stern is raving about Joyce so it should be special. Music of Ravel, Diamond and Rimsky-Korsakov are also on the program.

4) Fabulous weather for September. Humidity low, temps in the low 80s, not a cloud in the sky, dewey sweet mornings.... can it last?? I have seen 2 big fat wooly wooly worms... a sign of a hard winter I am told.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Our Next VP??

Has it come down to this?????

Monday, September 22, 2008

What I am Listening to Today

Another in the long line of obscure composers my long lost friend Jim would laugh about and shake his head:

Rued Langgaard:

Music of the Spheres

Music of the Spheres is actually one of Langgaard's more well known and recorded works. It is a symphonic work of great complexity, calling for a large orchestra, organ and choir, a supporting (distant) orchestra including a soprano voice. Movement titles are some of the most descriptive and unusual in all of orchestral music:

"Like sunbeams on a coffin decorated with sweet smelling flowers"

"Like the twinkling of a pearl of dew in the sun on a beautiful summer's morning"

"Soul of the world - Abyss - All Soul's day"

"I wish …! "

"The end: Antichrist - Christ"

Music of the Spheres lay in obscurity for nearly 50 years before being rediscovered in the late 60's. Two recordings are available, one with Gennadi Rozhdestvensky and the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir is on Chandos 9517 coupled with 4 Tone Pictures. A second recording is with the same forces conducted by John Frandsen coupled in a 2 disc set with a selection of the remarkable symphonies, including the wonderful # 6 "The Heaven Storming", featuring one of most marvelous extended dramatic endings in all symphonic literature.

Available from the usual places, CD Universe, Archiv, or HB Direct.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Kansas City Lyric Opera: La Boheme

Opera in Kansas City certainly was not new, but it took a great leap forward on September 29th, 1958 when the Lyric Opera of Kansas City mounted its very first production, Puccini's "La Boheme". 50 years almost to the day, the Lyric began its 50th season and anniversary celebration with the same beloved opera. Ward Holmquist, Music Director conducted.

Thankfully eschewing the Lyric's recent trend to mount controversial (read Euro-inspired, such as the hideous "Aida" and the strange Thomas "Hamlet" of the past couple of seasons), Boheme received a charming, lively, passionate, well acted and attractive production.

Director Ellen Douglas Schlaefer felt that "Boheme" was a young person's story, thus the major characters were all sung by performers in their 20s (or so). Mimi, Rodolfo, Marcello et. al, she argued, were not midlife crisis cases but young people finding their way in a hostile environment, ruled not by logic but by passion, love and a live-for-today spirit. Indeed the spirit of Jonathon Larson's Broadway hit "Rent", based on the story of Boheme, permeated the production. Luckily this "Boheme" was not a "Rent" with the original music, but a faithful production, certainly demonstrating why "Boheme" is for many the ne plus ultra of opera.

The young cast was in good voice and all were superb actors. Especially noteworthy was the Rodolfo Michael Fabiano. His lyrical tenor voice, rich and expressive, and excellent stage presence makes this 24 yr old a talent to watch. Alyson Cambridge was an expressive, vivacious yet ultimately tragic Mimi. Lighter voiced Katrina Thurman was a hoot as the flirtatious Musetta, making the most of some of the opera's lighter moments. The remaining cast were also well sung and particularly well acted. Sets were thankfully period and a delight to the eye. Thankfully this was not a "Boheme" set in a bar in Borneo or on a spaceship to Mars, as is so much the trend these days.

"La Boheme" was fitting production to start an anniversary season. Opera lovers in KC are looking forward to the season's future productions of Handel's "Julius Cesar", "La Traviata" and "Pirates of Penzance"; a series of favorites from the last 50 years of Opera in the City of Fountains.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sweet Little Sarah Palin, Fascist

"Fascist writer Westbrook Pegler, an avowed racist who Sarah Palin approvingly quoted in her acceptance speech for the moral superiority of small town values, expressed his fervent hope about my father, Robert F. Kennedy, as he contemplated his own run for the presidency in 1965, that 'some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow flies.' It might be worth asking Governor Palin for a tally of the other favorites from her reading list." - Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Thanks to Christine B for this!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wedding Bells VI: Epilogue

I finally could not stand it. The Flightaware program showed that Delta flight 370 from Managua to Atlanta had arrived. Ok... time to get out of the plane, through customs and luggage and all the nightmare that is Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Did they make the flight, did they get to Managua on time for an 8am departure? That means getting up in the middle of the night. I could not stand it, so I called. Daniel answered. YAY! They were "home" or at least most of the way there. They were on the train that connects the terminals so they must have had an easier time than Bruce and I did in March.

Yep, I worry a lot. It is a family tradition, my mom never told her mom what was going on and I never told my mom a lot, as she constantly worked herself into a tizzy over what might happen.

Daniel called me back when he could hear me better. Sounds like they had a great time, no disasters, no major hassles. Saw most of San Juan del Sur, met Marie, drank and ate to their hearts' content. A respite from the reality.

I can breathe now, they are back, the Delta MD90 got them from Atlanta to St Louis as it should.

Reality beckons them as it is does us on this finally sunny Monday AM. Work, bills, dealing with people, problems to solve, minefields to negotiate.

Why can't we all have a perpetual honeymoon??

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wedding Bells V: Reflections

As is usual, I sort of did this whole wedding series backwards, starting with pictures of the reception and then my reactions and observation of the wedding. But it also allows me to go full circle and end, for now, with some general reflections and anecdotes, mostly fragmentary but straight from the heart.

What I thought would be one of the more difficult aspects of the whole weekend, being near my ex and trying to ignore her, was actually a non event. We both broke the glacier early and managed not to snipe at each other, at least not publicly. As I reported in a previous post, I even reflected that we had managed to rear a great young man, respectful, intelligent, hard working, devoted and loving. The kid never, ends a conversation with me without saying that he loves me. I never told my dad that, nor he to me.

My favorite person at the reception was the waitress with the sushi platter. I sought her out all evening as the hors d'oeuvres were being passed. When it came time to have some cake, I passed as it looked way sweet and loaded with chocolate. "I'd rather have sushi", I mentioned to my sister. The Sushi Lady heard me and I got a nice assortment of rolls for dessert. Daniel, a sushi-aphile like me, was pleased.

It is most difficult for me to come to the realization that Daniel is now a responsible man in a responsible married relationship. I can't help seeing the somewhat manic, live wire, squealing (tease him and he could squeal a high C that would shatter steel let alone glass) little rat is actually a mature man. Daniel will do well in life, he has the right spirit. I just hope the evil forces that prey on the good will pass him by.

And it was not just all about Daniel. Seeing my Princess Maria, now almost 21, grown up too, was quite sobering. Here she is.. making her own decisions, going to college, doing "adult" things (that is what scares me!) and forming her own view of the world. I can only remember her wanting to play and watch TV... and loving her huge stuffed dog Patrick. I felt ancient.

Driving home on Sunday, I felt relieved that all went well, no major drama, and that a new family was beginning. My little rental machine full of goodies, me full of hope and good food and plenty of Martinis. Sadly missing was Her Majesty, she was still enjoying her stay at the spa, her nails manicured and receiving unbridled attention.

The most nerve wracking day for me was Monday when they left for Nicaragua. Would they make it to the airport on time, would they make their connection? Would they get to Managua ok? Would someone be there to pick them up? A weather delay in Atlanta had Daniel a bit nervous but soon the Delta flight was off, just a bit behind. I emailed, pestered more like it, everyone I knew in Nicaragua to make sure they would get picked up for the 2 hour ride to San Juan del Sur. Thanks to Cesar, I knew they were safe and on their way. A picture at DanCesar.com assured me they were in one piece. Since then I have not heard from them. I can only assume they are enjoying themselves in a well deserved vacation.

The following Tuesday, a friend and I had a wonderful evening, the details of which remain with me. Relaxed, fulfilled, and relishing the attention, I realized that at least for a while, life can be worth all the tears.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wedding Bells IV: The Big Day

The Jewel Box, located in St Louis' Forest Park has been a tourist and city landmark since it opened in November 1936. The soaring glass floral conservatory was designed and built by the St Louis Parks Department. Surrounded by seasonal gardens, lily ponds and sculpture, the Jewel Box's 50 foot high glass and metal walls enclose an array of tropical trees and flowers.

After a $3.5 million renovation in 2002, the Jewel Box was transformed into not only a conservatory but a center for weddings and receptions. With the well maintained tropical foliage and flowers and tranquil fountains, it is a perfect backdrop for a ceremony.

Daniel and Stephanie's wedding ceremony was simple, yet casual/elegant. Their vows exchanged before a stunning tropical backdrop. The men were handsome, the groom suitably nervous, the bride beautiful. A string quartet played before and after the ceremony, peforming "Spring" from the Four Seasons as a wedding march. It all went as planned. Unfortunately, in my haste to get over with my sister and Daniel's aunt and grandfather, I did not have my camera. I'll have to wait for the official pics to arrive.

I was thrilled that Daniel was getting married. Stephanie is a wonderful young lady, it is obvious he adores her. They are somewhat opposite in temperament, but maybe his brashness and her quiet reserve will compliment each other. Having a married son makes me feel old, but also fills me with a sense of accomplishment, the job over. He is a man now, on his own, a family, responsibilities. He will hopefully still need me, and I him as well.

"Despite all the bullshit over the years, we did good" I told my ex as we watched them dance the evening away at the reception. Maybe their lives starting together will heal some of the past. One can hope.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wedding Bells III: A Diversion

One must take advantage of situations as they arise in these tough economic times. Thus, the trip to the wedding combined with an opportunity to begin the clean out process of my St Louis storage unit.

I left St Louis in April 2004 with the old brown Mercury filled with my computer, the pug and clothes. Everything else had been sold, given away or tossed. Things that I thought I would need again someday were ensconced in a Public Storage complex under the highway in a ratty part of town. I figured it was safe, no one would ever venture there on purpose.

A couple of years ago, I went there and got some things out such as my dining room table, some books, lamps, etc., since I actually had some space and need here at the palace. For some reason I could not get the lock off, so I happened upon a man who let me borrow some bolt cutters. Turns out I needed him again.

I had forgotten my unit # so I went in the office, paid the now much higher rental fee, and got my #. The lock was rusted shut. No amount of jiggling or Liquid Wrench could get it open. Thus, Home Depot was relieved of inventorying one less bolt cutter.

The unit was dusty and there was evidence that Mickey Mouse and friends had partied during the cold months. Indiscriminately I tossed boxes and things into every crevice of the little Korean Ice Blue Machine. All to be taken home to be kept here or tossed. Left behind were the more difficult items; some more chairs, a huge old love seat and large boxes of papers.

Since I have returned, it has been almost like Christmas in September. Things long unseen now revealed, wondering why they were kept or bringing back the fond memories that inspired me to preserve them. Old cast iron skillets from my Grandmother, my Grandfather Clark's old railroad watch, my dress me, I-forget-his-name refrigerator magnet set, my 1990's diaries, an old silvered glass mirror, my Cruella DeVille figurine, a paper surfer from a party in the 90's and things yet unidentified. Much went into the trash as well, why it was kept was beyond me.

I think I have relatively few possession, but seeing a crammed storage unit and knowing I have another one in KC leads me to believe I need another upheaval to rid myself of junk. Lord knows what people have who do not move. My sister for example, I think Amelia Earhart is in her house....somewhere.

So packed with goodies, dirty but satisfied, I motored back to the hotel, cleaned up nice to await my boy's big day. The sun was shining, the air cool but pleasant, all boded well.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Wedding Bells II

As soon as I entered the cavernous underground space serving as the parking lot of the Westin Crown Center Hotel, I knew which one was mine. Hertz Rent-A-Car had just handed me the keys to my weekend transportation. The good old Queen Mary is in need of some brakes and tires so I was not keen on making her get up and go to St Louis, thus I had rented a car. Keeping the tradition alive, Hertz just assigned me the ugliest, brightest colored Korean built car they had. It started with the Glowing Salmon Hyundai Santa Fe I got a couple years ago. Next was the Electric Periwinkle Kia Rio, a little box of a car that could only be seen under a bright light. So now it was a Glare Ice Blue Kia Spectra, a name fitting for a car that seems to reflect the colors of the spectrum. It was ok, it ran, it had brakes and it had gas. A Spectra is a small car, but one that had all the fancy gadgets that were only found on luxo boats in the Queen Mary’s era. The Kia can't hold a candle to the Queen for sheer presence of course.

I had not been on a road trip in a while, but found little had changed from my road warrior days. Like the yummy pictures on the labels of prepared food, the speed limit is only a suggestion. Just like the beef stew, it rarely is the same as pictured. Set your cruise on 70mph and little old ladies in Ramblers will pass you like you are going backwards. Trucks run you over as if you were not there. WTF, I thought, the cops can’t get us all, so up to 80 and off I went. Only an occasional Rambler passed me then.

The road signs all indicated I had reached St Louis, but I did not believe them. West Washington St., that was once a dreary, dark street either by day or by night, had become a bustling Mecca for the urban set. Lofts, condos, shops, bars, restaurants, galleries and the 20 story Renaissance Grand Hotel, my destination, now graced the bright, clean tree shaded street. The Skyline forever changed by the towering Lumiere Place hotel and casino. Once empty storefronts now offered wares or food. A new ball park replaced the original and not that old Bush Stadium. Only the omnipresent Arch seemed to offer continuity.

The rehearsal for Daniel’s wedding was in Tower Grove Park and thus I would be back in my old neighborhood. There some things had changed, but much was familiar and comfortable. I miss it.

Kansas City, by contrast is more of a country village than a big city; just a small town with big city problems. St Louis looks east to New York or Chicago. Kansas City looks west but not as far west as the coast. The dusty, wheat field plains are its source of strength.

But all that talk vanished as I parked the rented ice machine and walked up to the pavilion, full of strangers and family. My son was getting married, a new family was beginning and there were lots of things to do to make it a day they will remember.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Wedding Bells I: Daniel and Stephanie

Daniel and Stephanie 9/6/08

More to come. I am a lousy photographer and have a lousy camera so just a few pics from me. I forgot the camera at the actual wedding ceremony. It was a wonderful wedding, everything went well. Daniel and Stephanie are off to San Juan del Sur Nicaragua for their honeymoon.

Reception at Windows Off Washington:

Reception at Windows Off Washington:

Daniel and Stephanie Boulware Clark:

Cutting the Cake:


Daniel's lifelong friend Derek Carson, his best man and best friend:

My Princess and Wild and Crazy Girl Maria:

Daniel doing what he loves to do:

Apologies with the above pic, a misplaced red eye correction makes Daniel look like he has a black eye.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Break Time

Nothing much going on at the Duck Pond, or the Palace for that matter. I am sick of Sara Palin already, dazzle my ass.... she is a moron. Reading prepared remarks and then parroting the tired old right wing babble. YUK.

Raining like hell here in KC, MO. We get the remnants of hurricane Gustav... no wind, just the rain.

I am off to St Louis this weekend for Daniel's wedding, so no posts until at least Tuesday. I should have pics if I remember to take my camera.

Until then.... Pato

Monday, September 01, 2008

Coupl'a Things VII

1) Sara Palin, McCain's bizarre choice for VP admits her daughter, 17 is pregnant. But that is ok for Republo-Hypocrites. She won't get an abortion and is not a lesbian and thus all is well.

2) If you are going to advertise services, respond to your inquiries! Last week I left 3 messages with people offering services I or the building needed. More accurately, I left 2 actually, one never answered the phone and the mail box was full. One has never responded and the other has finally called me 3 times today, on a holiday, and a full 4 days after I first called.

And if you give out your phone number, answer professionally with your name and company, not just "Hullo???"

I guess the economy is not tanked after all, since they are not in hurry to take my $.

3) The Repubs and Bush himself took Hurricane Gustav seriously this time, not wanting another Katrina, the worst disaster in the US since 9/11. Gustav was no Katrina and thus the damage and fatalities are light so far. Bush will take credit for doing a better job. As well he should, he could not have done much worse.

4) Speaking of hurricanes, we have Gustav still making noise, Hanna wondering around in the Bahamas and now Ike is out there too with a nice wave off Africa looking mean as well. Getting to be an active season.

5) Two more visits and I will have a counted 10,000 visitors. I likely have more through those who read through Technorati, RSS, etc.

And no, the 10,000th visitor will not get a prize, but may get mentioned. Whooop de Do.