Thursday, July 29, 2010

Something Worth Sharing

I happened to catch this today, along with an article in the KC Star that the efforts of the Administration to jump start the economy has worked. But, since the US is now careening perilously towards stupidity, many will not believe it since Rush or Glenn or some other entertainer didn't scream it out.

"Can a nation remain a superpower if its internal politics are incorrigibly stupid?" Writes E. J Donne of the Washington Post. Then there's the structure of our government. Does any other democracy have a powerful legislative branch as undemocratic as the U.S. Senate?

"When our republic was created, the population ratio between the largest and smallest state was 13 to 1. Now, it's 68 to 1. Because of the abuse of the filibuster, 41 senators representing less than 11 percent of the nation's population can, in principle, block action supported by 59 senators representing more than 89 percent of our population. And you wonder why it's so hard to get anything done in Washington?"

Mr Dionne is more optimistic than I am, I think the US is in a steep decline and becoming increasingly irrelevant. But since Rush doesn't think the same... all is well.

In American Politics, Stupidity is the Name of the Game

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Number 1001

In March 2009, I posted that I was going to shut down Puggingham Palace when I hit 1,000 posts. (777 Down). A discussion of doing it right then and there led to cries of "I'll miss you"..."Don't"...

So I kept my word and kept up until my 100th post "The Caddies Come to Town" on July 17th.

But does # 1001 mean Puggingham Palace may live on? Maybe.

I am not abandoning everything, but don't look for a lot of regular updates. No more "Coupl'a Things", recipes, updates on the garden, reports from the Palace and I am certainly leaving the political ranting to the rest of you... you are doing a good enough job anyway.

So, what of the future?

Probably music and concert reviews which I also post at the Classical Music Guide so I will just come here and post the same thing. If there are exciting events, things I just have to say, some things to share... I'll likely post. I am not taking Puggingham Palace down, so it will be here to browse through or for people to find on search engines.

Thus I bid all farewell for a while. Keep checking or do an RSS subscription, friend me on Facebook or email at

We'll be in touch!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Caddies Come to Town (and # 1000)

Is there anything that says it better? (1958 Eldorado Seville)
(You can click on the pictures to make them larger)

In the 1930's everyone coveted a Cadillac V8 Convertible Sedan.

In 1960, you arrived in style in an Eldorado Seville Hardtop

The twin four-barrel carburetors of a 1956 Eldorado:

The rare and exquisite 1957 Eldorado Brougham. At $13,074 you could buy two De Ville Convertibles and have money left over. Only 400 made.

What was so special about this 57 Brougham was its fabulous interior complete with the set of magnetic silver tumblers, perfume atomizer and other luxuries that are ultra rare these days.

Back in time, a jewel-like 1914 Touring Car:

The 1914 Engine was a work of art. I shudder at having to polish all the brass:

From the 40's a perfect 1947 Convertible. Having overtaken Packard, Cadillac was at the top of its game:

50's Buck Rodgers fins in extremis, 1959 Series 62 4 door Hardtop:

The Series 60 Special of the late 30's -42 was one of the first modern car designs. Note no running boards, the sleek styling and modern window design. This one has been lowered a bit but is representative of its brethren:

The epitome of the 60's 1964 Eldorado Convertible.. red of course... and wire wheels:

Well, for my 1000th post, I can think of nothing better than ending (?) Puggingham Palace with a pictorial survey of the 2010 Cadillac/La Salle Grand National Meet held here in Kansas City this weekend. I motored the intrepid Dunbar The Buick over to the Double Tree Hotel in Overland Park on this hot ass (90+) AM to wander through the collection of some of the Standard of the World's finest.

Once upon a time, a Caddy was the epitome of having "made it". Elegant, huge, impressive, powerful, truly a Standard. Today, it is less of a figure. In the 80's, like Packard did in the 40's, Cadillac handed over the mantel to Lexus, BMW, Mercedes and other foreign makes (even Hyundai with its new Genesis line) and has played catch up ever sense. These were cars when Cadillac meant power and prestige. We'll never see the likes again.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Republican Hypocrisy.... again

As Puggingham Palace moves on to its next iteration, whatever that may be, I had to post a slam about my least favorite group in the world, Right Wing Hate Filled Rich Ass Hypocritical... ok blood pressure is up so here it is:

Unemployed 0 Rich 1

Everytime the Tea Drinkers fart, it is front page news. But the conservative controlled media here and the timid liberals keep this from being seen

Just one question? How can you people sleep at night?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rayville Bakery/VanTill Farms

Greg showed me a flyer he picked up at the Kansas City River Market; "we need to check this out sometime." Rayville Baking Co, who sell their delicious fresh made breads at the market, opened a restaurant on their farm in nearby Rayville, MO. Friday night features hand made, wood fired oven gourmet pizzas and their own VanTill Family wines in a bucolic outdoor setting. "Sounds like a fun change of pace", Greg said. You have to know Greg that a "change of pace" for him is akin to a life changing experience for most of us. I eagerly agreed.

So this past Friday, we motored off to tiny Rayville, MO (pop 204, several horses and a post office) to sample the VanTill's offerings. Tagging along for the ride was Greg's neighbor Sue and her friend Marie. Greg even broke out the new Hyundai Tucson he bought a few months ago and never drives. The ride up, along MO highway 210 and then MO 10, is pleasant and scenic, snaking along the Missouri river bottom and skirting the bluffs. On this Friday, the fields were green, the trees full and the traffic light. Watching the darting and diving of a bi-plane crop duster we happened to spy along the way was something us city folk do not often see. Police and ambulance helicopters, yes.. but few crop dusters.

It took an ambling hour to get there and we found it with no problems. Once parked, we entered the building and asked the lady we saw where the restaurant was. She directed us to the restrooms. When we clarified what we wanted she sent us back outside whereupon we were told we had to go back in and order from the front. Since it looked more like their wine and baked goods store, we just assumed... well.. assumed wrong. I would suggest that the management make the ordering process a bit more clear.

Once ordered and directed again in the right place we found a spacious iron table on the patio; one of those large party tents with the sides rolled up. The bar was a table with the selections of the wines and Boulevard beer in the bottle. You could help your self to water and lemonade.

But the night was about the pizza. We ordered several to sample the wares. One was a bacon gorgonzola with balsamic glazed onions, red sauce, garlic, mozzarella and the aforementioned bacon and gorgonzola cheese. Greg selected a rosemary pear pizza with white sauce, chicken, Asiago, mozzarella, rosemary, garlic and bosc pears. The other choice was the Mediterranean with red sauce, chicken, hot Italian sausage, mozzarella, garlic, feta, onions, Kalamata olives and spinach.

The pizzas are baked right in the same room in the hand built brick oven. The crusts are crisp and tasty with just the right thickness. The bacon gorgonzola was wonderful, the strong flavors blending into a bright and unforgettable combination. The rosemary pear was a revelation. I am not always fond of fruit used in odd ways; keep the strawberries, cherries and other fruits out of my salad, soup and pizza and put them where they belong. But, as with the bacon gorgonzola, the unique flavors combined so well. The sweet pears and the lush sauce blended with the chunks of tasty chicken, perfectly accented with just enough rosemary and garlic as not to overwhelm. This is a pizza worthy of any serious pizza restaurant.

The Mediterranean was interesting and flavorful. Although tasty and perfectly baked, it was just a bit too busy with all the ingredients piled on. Damn good pizza however and quite unique.

The pizzas are generous sized and range in price from the basic spinach blanco (white sauce, spinach, cheese and tomatoes) at $13 to the $17 Mediterranean. For an extra $3.50 a generous sized fresh Greenhouse Greens salad is available with a choice of dressing. The greens were grown on the farm and thus freshly picked and mixed with tomatoes, cucumber, onion and olives. Fresh, sweet, crisp and wonderful.

If you are nuts, like we were, you get a dessert too. Everything from vanilla ice cream to some of the best home made strawberry shortcake I have ever had. Not overly sweet, the shortcake was a fresh baked biscuit-like cake, not those nasty twinkie sponge things. The strawberries were grown on location, likely picked that day, and so naturally sweet. The cream on top was fresh and silky. At $4.50 it is a bargain and only available in season.

Greg had a beer, but the ladies and I split a bottle of the VanTill's own wine. We chose a white chardonel. Chardonel grapes, a hybrid chardonnay and seyval, are popular among Missouri wineries. It is a dry white wine with an abundance of fruit. I actually prefer the crispness of the regular chardonnay as opposed to the softer chardonel, but Sue and Marie were captivated by it. A fine bottle of wine, but I think next time, with the pizza, a red would be better.

Charming place, friendly staff, but don't go expecting fine tableware or to be waited upon; everything is ordered (except the wine) and paid for at the front counter. A bit clumsy, but it works once you figure out the system. As with any alfresco dining, the flies can be a problem and remember you are out in the country so they are plentiful. Get extra paper plates (the usual place settings, thankfully there were no plastic forks) to cover your pizza.

A perfect end to the evening is to stroll to the nearby green houses and see where your strawberries, rosemary, salad greens and such were grown. A few grape vines and flower gardens dot the area. Be sure to take home some bread, jam or wine if you want.

So, definitely worth the travel time from the big, bad city and we plan to go again before the summer ends. They do have the restaurant open year round with the patio covered and heated.

But go during strawberry season for the wonderful shortcake.

VanTill Farms/Rayville Baking 13986 Hwy C Rayville, MO

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

What I am Listening to Today: Hollywood String Quartet

Chamber music does not get much better than this; one of the most remarkable recordings of some of the most incredible chamber works ever written.

The Hollywood String quartet, founded by Felix Slatkin (1st violin) and his wife Eleanor Aller (cello) (parents of conductor Leonard Slatkin) was active from 1939 to 1961, winning awards and achieving celebrity status akin to some of Hollywood's other denizens. Frank Sinatra was a fan and had them collaborate on his Close to You album.

But their forte was the classical quartet, especially Beethoven and Schubert. The Schubert String Quintet D.956 (1828) is an undisputed masterpiece and was one of Schubert's last works. The work, oddly scored with "extra" cello instead of viola, is bold, lyrical and almost symphonic in scope The Hollywoods' performance is sensitive yet powerful. Relish the perfection in ensemble, intonation, and attention to detail. The gutsy, folksy and animated opening of the bouncy scherzo is sheer perfection, not harsh as the other performance in my collection by the Cleveland Quartet. The long, sweet adagio receives a most sublime performance here, never cloying or sentimental.

I could go on, but this wonderful work and performance has to be heard to be appreciated.

On the surface, it seems strange to pair Schubert with the "modern" Arnold Schoenberg. But Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) is not one his acerbic 12 tone pieces, but a lush, almost hyper-romantic tone poem for string sextet. Again the Hollywood Quartet negotiates this tricky and thickly scored piece with such aplomb that I felt I truly heard it for the first time. Schoenberg himself was so taken by the performance that he wrote the liner notes for the recording's first appearance on Angel records in the 1950's.

Testament Records are easily available in the US but frightfully expensive. I got mine from the wonderful folks at MDT in Darby, UK for less than $14 with shipping. Archiv has it on sale for $17 and Amazon wants an outrageous $26. Shop around.. but hear this disc if you love chamber music at all.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy 4th

This is more true than we wish to think:

Happy 4th of July