Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Of teachers and preachers

Z is for Zumba. It is also for Zut alors!

Last night this Zumba class I was looking forward to and moved mountains to be able to get to was canceled. There was a problem with the air conditioning. The Buffalo Athletic Club seems to have air conditioning issues these days. Last week the air conditioning was on the fritz at the downtown gym. Now it had hit the BAC for Women on Colvin.

We could have Zumba-ed in the heat but they said the floor was wet somehow.

I ran into my friend Nicole in the parking lot and we were standing there with our gym bags, bereft, like a couple of stray puppies. The teacher came out of the gym and we pleaded with her, please, couldn't we figure out some way to have class? She just kind of snarled at us, "Tough luck" -- and disappeared.

OK, she was not really that bad. But she had no time for us, you could tell that. We did not exactly blame her. Probably we were the 100th and 101st people to complain. But still.

It is funny when people behave differently out of context! Here we were used to this teacher being all warm and encouraging and gentle-spoken in class. Then we find out she is this normal human being.

That happened a long time ago with a street preacher who used to preach on the corners of downtown Buffalo. My friend Anne, who was my roommate at the time, she and I used to love this preacher. He was this cute hippie type and he would stand on the corner and preach with passion and poetry. Like John the Baptist, pictured above. Or the Prophet Isaiah.

Once we heard him declaiming, "Who is He who gathers the winds in His fist?"

At Christmas time I gave him a candy cane and he smiled and said, "Praise the Lord."

He was the Leonard Pennario of preachers! His preaching was like Pennario playing Liszt. Shining and extroverted and sparkling. We loved him.

Then one day Anne was eating at Pano's. This was back when Pano's was this little scruffy diner, before Pano got all high and mighty and discontinued his famous orange shakes and started knocking down historic houses. And she realized to her astonishment that the preacher was at the next table with a friend of his. And she heard him saying: "So when did you get your hair cut?"

Nothing bad or anything, just disappointingly, crushingly mundane.

It happens!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Going to the chapel

Yesterday I was realizing how unusual my life is. Perhaps it is a Buffalo thing. Our lives here in Buffalo are not usual!

I go to this wonderful Zumba class where I know the teacher and the other students. From thence I go to that idyllic garage sale which, to equal that, you would have to visit the world's great marketplaces.

Then I went to Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians. Usually I go to St. Anthony's in the morning but when my mom is thinking of going with me I go sometimes to Our Lady Help. That is the original name. In German it was Maria Hilf. Mary Help.

Sometimes, I will tell you this, I feel like saying that. Mary, help!

Our Lady Help is such an idyllic little chapel, I was sitting there thinking, very few people are lucky enough to be able to go to Mass, just on a whim, in a church like this. It was built in the 1850s. The picture above is of the altar after Mass. The Mass has just ended and the six candles are still burning.

Here is another shot.

And another.

Our Lady Help was built by a German immigrant who wanted to give thanks because he got to America safely. The ship he was sailing on was caught in a terrible storm and he invoked the name of Our Lady Help of Christians, Star of the Sea, and promised that if they made it, he would build this church.

Wow, I should promise that when my book on Leonard Pennario is finally finished, I will build a church! Unfortunately now with the Bishop closing churches I am not sure how he would cotton to the thought of my building one. Some things you used to be able to do then, you cannot do now.

What got me onto that? Back to Maria Hilf. Until a few decades ago, big long parades of pilgrims would walk there. It was especially popular among the Germans, the Polish and the Italians. The church's Web site says the largest pilgrimage took place on V-J Day.

Somewhere along the line someone got the smart idea to knock down the chapel but luckily it was not knocked down. They built a boring modern church next door but the chapel was declared too sacred and unique to destroy. Why is it that in Buffalo everything is always on the brink of demolition? You just have to wonder that sometimes.

Our Lady Help of Christians sits almost right across the street from Airport Plaza Jeweler...

... which adds to its artistic integrity as far as I am concerned. Howard and I always admire Airport Plaza Jeweler for its efficient and ingenious design.

Here is the Wikipedia entry on Maria Hilf.

I am proud to say that it is also a Pub Crawler National Landmark.

Go to Our Lady Help of Christians sometime even if all you do is sit there and soak up the good vibes.

It is a beautiful place!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Green day

Today between going to Latin dancing and going to Latin Mass, I went back to the garage sale I went to yesterday. I asked if they minded if I took pictures and they said no.

They did not mind!

So I snapped away. Above is a picture looking south toward Harlem Road.

Here is a cedar chest in which tops were sorted by size.

The artfully arranged dresser.

I just admire a beautifully appointed garage sale. So many you go to are just thrown together with no prices or anything. This garage sale was different! It was to other garage sales as Leonard Pennario's Chopin Preludes are to anyone else's Chopin Preludes. It was impeccable and the prices, as I confided yesterday, were low.

Here is the clothes line looking back toward the house.

A vertical view was necessary to convey the charm of the handbag and hat display.

A panoramic view of the housewares section. The Park School is visible in the background.

In between taking pictures I bought $30 more worth of clothes and candles and whatnot. Mostly clothes. Why should I lie?

I am listening to that first Chopin Prelude in the link I linked to and I ask you, does it not express the beauty of this day? The sun, the blue skies, the wine I drank while sitting on the back deck with my mom. Sheer beauty, that music is.

Perfect for today.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Drop me off on Harlem

Today I hit the most amazing garage sale where I scored the mother lode of clothes. It was just by accident, too. My mother and I had left a sale on Getzville where, incidentally, I bought a beautiful group of colored wineglasses. We were circling around back to Main and I suggested we go up Harlem, in case there was anything there.

There was!

A big Yard Sale sign. Followed by a big Yard Sale!

The people who ran the sale were kind of hippyish and they had what I guess you would call World Music playing in the background. Jamaican wind chimes were chiming. There were lots of hippyish things like incense burners and candles and little doodads that spread the scent of essential oils.

Then there was a clothesline on which were hanging all kinds of wonderful exotic clothes!

All for $1 each!

It was almost as good as finding a collection of rare Leonard Pennario vinyl. It was like going to heaven. At one point I honestly thought I was dreaming. But I was not! I blog, therefore I am. I scored three or four or five formal gowns, including one that is glittery red and black and another that is a classic red and came with its own matching wrap. I bought a pair of pajamas with shimmery pants. What is with me and used pajamas? I cannot help it.

Also a gold, black and white geometric top. And a deep red blouse that is like something out of the 18th century. And a coat that will need new lining but what the heck, I loved it, and it was $1.

For once my mom did not try to stop me. It was hopeless.

There was no stopping me!

I amassed this huge pile of clothes and I wound up paying a grand total of $25. Oh, and this is something else. I had competition at the sale. This other woman was there and she was about my size, which, I hate when that happens because you want the same things. But she brought her husband with her, or her boyfriend, or whatever he was. As the computer would say: Fatal error!

Do not bring a man with you to these sales in any way, shape or form.

"How would this look on me?" she would say, holding something up.

And he was wisecracking: "I got one just like that. I get all kinds of compliments."

"Oh, stop."

While they are having this precious exchange I have scooped up five more items.

End result, as we like to say here in Buffalo:

Competition: One dress, and I had turned it down anyway because it was denim and I am not really a denim person.

Me: WNW.

Whole New Wardrobe!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

While walking into work

This morning arriving at the office I walked through the group of protesters at the entrance to The Buffalo News. There were maybe 40 people. I am a bad judge of numbers. And I see now that you certainly can not tell from the picture I took up above! Ahahahaha! Good thing I am not a news photographer.

Anyway, what startled me was the man at the microphone, the man giving this impassioned speech, was my friend Sam from Zumba class!

I stood agog. I met Sam to begin with when I had been taking Zumba maybe a couple of weeks. It was his birthday, and he made this announcement that he was going to celebrate by giving a rose to every lady in the class. Sam always says "lady." As in "You ladies did a great job with that song."

That day all of us ladies walked out of the gym carrying our roses and feeling proud and special. We giggled about it and I joked around about it in the Buzz column. I got to know Sam because of that and often in class we wind up Zumba-ing next to each other.

But today, all I could think was: How is this for an awkward situation?

I sort of tried to catch Sam's eye as he was making his speech. On the other hand I did not try too hard because I did not want to throw him off. All of a sudden he would stop thinking about his grievances against The Buffalo News and start thinking about Charleston step, cumbia step, hips in a circle, shake it.

Maybe he would not even place me out of context. That happens to me so I would totally understand.

This being Buffalo where we talk to strangers I had to talk to someone and I approached a gentleman on the fringe of the group of protesters. "That's my friend," I said, pointing to Sam. "I know him from Zumba class."

If you did this kind of thing in Toronto they would look at you funny and move away but this being Buffalo, the gentleman moved politely and interestedly closer to me. "Oh yeah?" he said.

"Yeah," I said. "I can't believe he is up there giving this speech."

"Where do you do Zumba?" the guy asked me.

Buffalo, gotta love it.

We chatted for a couple more minutes during which time I did not manage to work Leonard Pennario into the conversation but did manage to mention that I had lost five pounds. The protest is because some people object to how The Buffalo News covered our recent downtown shootings, pointing out the victims' criminal backgrounds. While I stick with how the paper covered it, I told this protester that I felt bad that this event had divided our town.

The gentleman smiled at me and he said, "Sometimes good comes out of bad."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What a dump

Above is a truck Howard is thinking of buying. It is a Scout dump truck!

"I can take stuff to the dumps with it," he says. "I can use it as a Dumpster."

I cannot wait until he buys it so I can dump the whole contents of the house into it. OK, I will keep the piano and all my Leonard Pennario stuff. Other than that, though, go at it, Boy-O.

We can hook one of those construction tubes right on up to the front window of the upstairs bedroom. I can start by dumping in all the clothes I do not like. Then I can move on to the furniture.

Imagine how that would feel!

And the space left over in the dump, we can fill up with bishop's weed from the garden.

Then I can buy all new stuff at estate sales and use the Scout dumper to bring it on home.

At last, a viable plan for my life!

Though I really think he should go all the way and buy this.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Under the Des Moines sun

Last night I was over at my friend Gary's and it rained and rained and rained. Which was wonderful because we were out in Gary's Florida room and it was fun to sit back and sip Gary's homemade Cabernet and listen to the rain beating on the roof.

We also tasted grappa that Gary brought back from Italy! The priest at my church, Father Secondo, makes grappa. Remember, when I called Cardinal Egan about Leonard Pennario I was supposed to tell His Eminence, that being the Cardinal, that the grappa priest said hello.

Everyone should be lucky enough to deliver such a message! I have a feeling that was when Cardinal Egan knew I was an insider to be taken seriously. I was not just one of the nameless faceless legions calling him to ask him about his friendship with America's greatest pianist.

At Gary's Howard sipped a glass of grappa at Gary's and I just took a little taste. It was dry and spicy and seemed to evaporate in your mouth.

Then I took another taste to reassure myself I was right. Yes, that was how it tasted.

Better make sure. I took one more taste.

I have decided I like grappa.

Howard does, too. "Yeah, I like that grappa. It's unusual." That is what he just said.

It is good to have Gary back from Italy because he was gone for so long. He was there for three weeks. With him back the world is right. Soon it will be time to make our annual trip to the Clinton Bailey Market and buy grape juice for our 2010 vintage.

Here is one thing I have to write, I just have to! Gary went to Cremolina in Tuscany to stay with these old friends of his. They are married and they have lived on this vineyard for 10 years. He told us about this months ago when he was planning this trip. And something in me went sour and I was thinking: Where did I make my wrong turn in life?

Somewhere along the line this friend of Gary's made the right decision and managed to land herself at this picture-perfect vineyard in Tuscany where she lives with her husband and raises their kids. And me, why am I not in Tuscany?


Guess where this Tuscan couple are now?

Des Moines, Iowa!

It ends up they were just renting the vineyard and since Gary left, they have left, too. They were going to go to South Carolina but instead they went to Des Moines where somebody's family is.

Ranging around the Internet, I am thinking Des Moines may not be that bad because this building is supposedly in it.

But still. As Gary's friend Herb said last night: "That's got to be a switch."


I hope they brought some grappa with them.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The sex appeal toothpaste

Today I went to my favorite drugstore, CVS. And I bought 10 tubes of Ultra Brite!

It is to celebrate my teeth. Does anyone else remember back in the '70s, the slogan of Ultra Brite?

It was, "The Sex Appeal Toothpaste."

Not only am I celebrating my teeth but I am celebrating frugality. Ultra-Brite was 75 percent off at CVS. Each tube cost only 37 cents.

Howard and I were talking about it and agreed that these days you do not hear that phrase "sex appeal" anymore. And remember "sex symbol"?

You do not hear that either.

But the main thing is, I now have my house toothpaste. Other people have their house wine and I have one too. It is Gato Negro! But I have a house toothpaste and that is Ultra Brite.

The house pianist is Leonard Pennario and the house toothpaste is Ultra Brite.

That is me, a class act all the way.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The summer scorecard

Alors, I am behind again with my Web log!

And with my laundry.

And with my summer!

It is funny how summer turns into a scorecard.

Times swimming at the beach: 0.

Vacations: 0.

Trips out of town: 0. I keep thinking of making a road trip to the International Piano Archives to look at what they have on Leonard Pennario -- I know, nerd! -- but I have not done that yet.

Hours spent in hammock: 0. That woman in the picture above, that is not me!

Yesterday my friend Charlie at the office was grilling me about my summer activities. He asked if I had been on vacation and I said no. He asked if Howard had taken me anywhere and I said no.

Then he asked if I had been doing anything exciting and I said yes.To me working on the book is exciting! And that is what I have been doing. That and dancing in the gym. Early on I decided that would be my summer. I would not get a tan, sure, but it would be fun.

Here is something that kills me. People act that because summer arrives or leaves, my life changes. It does not! I am not a student or a teacher, ergo, September is pretty much like August.

"We are all ready for structure again in our lives." I read that in some coming-of-fall story.

I am thinking, hello! My job did not call me up just because summer is here and say, "You know what, Mary? Kick back."

I have had structure in my life all along!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Me and the big, bad bank

I am very famous today because my name appeared in The Buffalo News in a First Niagara Bank ad listing people in town who have Unclaimed Funds.

It is the craziest thing! Because, you know, I write for the paper. And I can write all kinds of stories about this and that and there will always be people who come up to you in Budwey's or wherever and say, "So, are you still working for The Buffalo News? I never see your name in the paper."

Sometimes my mother even says that to me! And I say, "Mom!! I only wrote five stories this week!"

But boy, get your name in the Unclaimed Funds ad and everyone sees it!

Why bother writing about Leonard Pennario? This is the way to fame! I was the talk of the newsroom today, plus people keep writing on my Facebook page about it. The best comment came from my friend Pete. He wrote:
Mary, if that's you at the bottom of page D10 in the news, we are ready to celebrate with you.
Ha, ha! Look at that funky font. That is because I cut and pasted. Too funny!

Anyway, this would all be completely funny but as it is it is only 75 percent funny. That is because yesterday I sat at First Niagara Bank's North Buffalo branch trying to figure this all out. I knew I had this problem because they had sent me a letter I had misplaced. I had tried calling them about it weeks ago and they told me they had no information. OK, I thought, I have to be there in person. So I went into the bank in person.

I presented the proper IDs and you would think they could just call up your name, and see all your accounts, and there would be a red light or something blinking next to one of them, saying: "Danger! Money in danger of being turned over to the state!" But no!

First Niagara, which is supposed to be our ahem, neighborhood bank, could come up with nothing. The nice girl I talked to called headquarters, probably in the big bustling metropolis of Lockport. She was on hold forever, during which time, this being Buffalo, she and I exchanged life stories. Her name was Denielle. One thing I learned was she was quitting First Niagara in two weeks. So she was a lame duck and it probably should not surprise me that after she told me someone would call me back, nobody ever did.

See that picture at the top of the page? At the right you can see me leaving the bank empty handed.

Hence my unclaimed funds.

I have been trying for a month to reclaim these funds!

You would think I was dealing with some bank in China!

Oh well, at least I am finally famous.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Kvetchin' in the kitchen

My Cooking Blight magazine for September showed up and I am sorry, it is the dumbest thing.

I am ashamed to be a subscriber!

Who cares what it's like to have breakfast, lunch and dinner in London? How about what it is like to have breakfast, lunch and dinner in my North Buffalo kitchen?

That is one thing. Then there is Our 10 Best-Prepared Food Shortcuts. Example: "We love Amy's brand microwavable 6-ounce beans and rice burrito for a light meal when there's a time crunch."

I am not going to microwave a burrito, OK? I subscribe to this magazine because I cook. Cooking Light, you know, the name? Cooking?

Here is another "tip" from this stupid magazine: "Keep bags of Innovasian Cuisine chicken potstickers in your freezer. Build a fast dinner around them ... They come with a sauce, but you can make your own lower-sodium dipping sauce." These dips are always worried about my sodium. You know what, if you just do your own cooking, sodium is no concern. Go ahead and salt your food all you want.

Darn it, I used to like this magazine and here it is circling the drain. Just the cover. "147 Recipes and Tips for the Fast, Healthy Cook." There are about 30 recipes and 117 tips.

Another headline: "How I Came to Love the Pressure Cooker." By Dorothy R. Kunz. OK, just kidding, but it sounds as if my mother would have written it.

"The Top 20 Ingredients for the Quick Cook."

Why is everyone in such a hurry? What are all these people accomplishing?

What, is everyone else writing the authorized biography of Leonard Pennario?

People, if I can cook dinner, YOU can cook dinner.

Microwavable burritos.

Zut alors.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I am a camera

Late last night I got an email from my Facebook friend Brendan asking me to bring my camera to church today and take pictures. I said I would.

"Of what?" I asked him.

The answer came back: Of the altar and the blessing.

Whatever. So there I am at church, bright and early, and I have my camera. And instead of sitting in my usual inconspicuous pew I sit in the front pew. I did not like sitting in the front pew, I realized. I felt everyone was looking at me. Plus it made it more noticeable when I took pictures. What if people got mad because I was taking pictures and not praying?

Well, I said I would take pictures. So I took one.

Not sure if that was the picture that was requested, I took another. That is my friend Brendan in the red and white robes in the middle, to the right of the priest. It is not our usual priest! Our usual priest, Father Secondo, is in Moscow because they are installing a new bishop.

Now I started getting uneasy. What other pictures was I expected to take? What blessing, exactly, had Brendan been talking about? Why hadn't I asked more questions?

Not wanting to be remiss I took this picture.

Then I took this one.

Just to jazz things up a little I snapped this picture of the BVM. That is Catholic shorthand for the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Now I was really taking pictures and not praying!

I adjusted my flash and I think this picture came out in better focus than the others.

Now this. It looks the same as the picture before at first glance. But it is not!

La la la la la la.

I have no idea if this is what Brendan wants. I think I am better at writing about Leonard Pennario than taking pictures at church.

But when I got home I charged up my camera battery.

Next time I get an assignment, I will be ready!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Postcards from the Edge

Today I went with my mom to the fish fry at the Edge of Town. That is the ancient tavern on Genesee Street at the city line, hence, the Edge of Town. I have written about the place before -- and, zut alors, I even used the same headline! Oh well.

Above is a picture of my mom and me after eating our gigantic fish fries.

The Edge of Town is just this Buffalo kind of place. Leonard Pennario would have loved it. He was like me. He never met a calorie he didn't like.

One problem with the place however is you have to wait for your table on a Friday because the place is crowded. My mom and I learned it would be a 20-minute wait.

My mother was fretting because she had not eaten even though I HAD TOLD HER to have a snack. All she had had was a spoonful of cottage cheese. Anyway, I settled her at a barroom table and went to the bar and ordered drinks and asked if I could pay for a salad bar in advance so my mom could have some cole slaw or something.

Here is what is great about old-time taverns. The bartender just shrugged and smiled. "Just go," she said. "Just go to the salad bar."

She understood moms!

So there is my mom happy as a clam perched athletically on this high barstool eating cole slaw and drinking a huge Bud. I am a winner!

Later we went into the dining room and dined and my mother admired the tin ceiling and the dining room and the beauteous front window which reads "Restaurant and Lounge."

My mom had the Beer-Battered Fish Fry, the Edge of Town's specialty, and I having already consumed a cheese Danish earlier in the day (long story) had the pious baked fish. My mother was pious too and took half of her dinner home. She had this huge Styrofoam container brought to the table.

"Are you through with that lemon wedge?" she asked me. I said I was. The maw of the giant Styrofoam container opened and in went my lemon wedge and it slammed shut.

The Edge of Town took my mom's Discover Card which, nobody takes that. And after that they wooed her back with talk of potato pancakes and Roast Pork nights.

"Oh," my mother said, interested.

We thought it was weird that Liver and Onions night is Thursday. My mother said that traditionally Liver and Onions night is Tuesday. Well, no place is perfect. On the plus side, every 11th dinner at the Edge of Town is free. It is like their meal plan.

We shall return!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Silly Fadz

You know me, always hip and styling! Ever since my nieces, Rosie and Millie, gave me two, ahem, Silly Bandz I have been all too happy to wear them.

The two that I proudly sport on my wrist are the Hamburger, upper right, and the Drink, lower left.

What is that thing at the lower right? I recognize all the others in the picture. The Ice Cream Cone, the Fries and the Hot Dog, I get it. But what is that last thing?

Is it the Used Ketchup Packet?


Rosie and Millie were nice to give me these two Silly Bandz. They hoard them. They have about 2,000 and it was this huge sacrifice for them to part with two. It is like me and the Leonard Pennario records I buy when I find them.

I gave my brother George a copy of "Pennario Plays" and it was like giving blood.

You have other copies of this, I told myself. You have Leonard's own copy for heaven's sake. This is just something you picked up at a garage sale. But oh, it hurt.

It is funny, inside all of us is that inner 10-year-old.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


This is a beautiful picture of a sunset I took the other night at Mickey Rats.

The sky looked interesting from the beach too.

I am catching up on pictures. This is me and my brother George and the handsome and very famous deejay Shane Brother Shane. This was from a couple of weeks ago. Before, I might add, I lost five pounds doing Zumba.

Another shot from Taste of Big Blue: George relaxing as Jane dines. At Taste of Blue we dine al fresco as Taste of Buffalo rages around us.

What else have I got? Here are my friends Jane, Melinda and Michelle in Michelle's garden. There is one friend of Leonard Pennario's who loves to see pictures of Michelle. Every time I show Michelle on the Web log he asks about her. This is for him!

Looking at a few weeks' worth of pictures makes me realize how my life is flying. Today I got the notice for the first Christmas CD. It is by the Anonymous 4! The CD is called "The Cherry Tree" after "The Cherry Tree Carol." The hype says it is for year-round listening but I doubt that.

I could not find a recording of the Anonymous 4 singing "The Cherry Tree Carol" but here is Joan Baez.

Christmas will be here before I know it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Long day's journey into Tops

Today I went to Tops at University Plaza. That is not it up above but that picture is close enough.

Does anyone know if University Plaza is the nation's oldest shopping plaza? That rumor is out there. It is cousin to the rumor that the Boulevard Mall is the nation's oldest mall.

But I digress. Back to Tops! It was like going to the Third World!

The lines at the registers were long. That is one thing about Tops, you can never get out easily. Shopping in there can be OK but wait until it is time to check out. The screamingest kids were everywhere. There was an express line but it was hard to make out which one it was and where it was supposed to tell you the maximum number of items, you could not read it.

I got into the line because I was just getting a few things for my mom. And it was fascinating. The line next door was the Automatic Checkout Line. I think I tried this once and it went OK but that was not enough to make me do it again.

People kept trying to check out in the automatic line and you keep hearing this woman's recorded voice, like out of a sci-fi movie. "Item scanned," it might say. Most often it said: "Please wait for attendant."

That was what I kept hearing, over and over: "Please wait for attendant."

Human beings are not going to be replaced any time soon, is the message I get.

But people kept trying it and the woman's voice kept repeating the same commands. Why is it always a woman's voice? That is what I would like to know. In sci-fi movies it is always a woman's recorded voice saying: "Bomb set to detonate in oh eight minutes."

I asked the checkout guy: "Doesn't it drive you crazy, being next to that?"

He was this calm individual and he said: "I tune it out."

I wish I could be more like him!

By the time I left Tops I felt as if I had been through the wringer!

On the bright side I did score pork tenderloin for $1.99 a pound which is just about as cheap as you will find it. Everything else in Tops was expensive but that pork tenderloin was cheap, and we found each other. I also found reduced bananas for my mom. And my mom, perhaps out of gratitude for my running this errand, let me talk about Leonard Pennario. I could not believe that. She actually asked me questions and I had this orgy of talking about Leonard Pennario. Now that I think about it I feel a little uneasy. I hope my mom was all right, you know? She never lets me talk about Leonard Pennario like that.

After that I drove to Zumba class in the middle of the biggest rainstorm of my life and after that Howard took me out for sushi.

What an eventful evening!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday in the parking lot at Budwey's

 This morning I went to Mass and then to Zumba and then to Budwey's. Each one was a total shock after what had come before. The greatest transition was Mass to Zumba. Because one minute there I was kneeling and praying and wearing my mantilla and the next there I am shaking and shimmying. Well, it was all girls in the class. I am sure that God smiles on it.

Above is a cool hot rod that was parked next to me in the Budwey's lot when I came out of the store.

Isn't that ravishing Buffalo architecture across the street? Kenmore Avenue, you cannot beat it. Here is a view that lets you see it better. Plus, I love the look of the back of that car. It is like a refrigerator!

At Budwey's they had corn for 19 cents each and that is the cheapest I do believe that you will find it anywhere. There was a whole bunch of people standing around the corn shucking it and this is funny, this one guy walks up and says, "Oh, so here's where everyone is."

And everyone started yakking then as if we were old friends!

That is Buffalo! As Howard said, try using that line up in Toronto. Everyone would just stare at you. And all you would hear would be icy silence.

Anyway that was my day. Mass, Zumba, Budwey's. I am like this puppy that gets let out of my kennel once a day and that is it. I went home and worked, on matters Leonard Pennario. Do not feel sorry for me.

That is my idea of a wonderful day!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Limbo low!

The Leonard Pitts column today made me so mad. I am so tired of being told I am a bigot and evil because I am religious, you know? Because I am Catholic.

There are so many flaws in his logic it is pathetic. Plus, why don't people pick on someone else?

How about the Muslim extremists who are trying to kill us?

He sets the bar low for journalists, that is for sure.

Speaking of setting the bar low, I was working and working all week on the book and last night I had to get out of the house so I went Zumba dancing and then I went to our local limbo bar and watched limbo.

I went with my friend Jane and our friend Mylous, both pictured here.

Mylous is a TV anchor and people kept wanting to get their picture taken with him. Ha, ha! I had to tease him. I leaned over to him and shouted into his ear over the band, "Mylous Hairston, Superstar!" Mylous is such a sweet person and he was laughing.

We have a girl here in Buffalo who is trying for the Guinness Book of Records limbo record and she is practicing and we went to cheer her on. She got down to eight and a half inches!

This girl was unbelievable. We just sat there at a front table unashamedly gawking. She was blindfolded when she went limbo-ing under the stick and she held trays of things in her arms too.

It would have been perfect but for one thing. My former roommate Daryle was not with me. When Daryle and I and our friend Jack shared an apartment on Delavan we used to have limbo parties. At one of them people had taken the banister off the staircase and were using it as a limbo stick. At about 4 a.m. the landlady showed up screaming.

Ha, ha! That is another aspect of my life I never told Leonard Pennario about. But you know what, I'll bet he would have thought it was funny. I would imagine that Pennario watched a limbo dancer or two in his life.

Next time Daryle and his wife Lisa come to Buffalo they will accompany us to the limbo bar where the limbo dancers perform every Friday. It is Mickey Rats on the beach!

In addition to limbo-ing the limbo dancing champ was also a contortionist.

When she got down to business with the limbo-ing the whole steel drum band lined up behind her and created this unbelievable cacophony with thundering drums. Here she is blindfolded, going under the bar.

Afterward there was a triumphant chorus of "YMCA."

A most edifying and entertaining evening.

I return to work with a clear head.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What will people say?

Do you ever wonder if someone were writing your biography, the people that person would call? I started worrying -- er, thinking -- about that just now.

I was taking a break in my Leonard Pennario labors and I had gone to pour myself a glass of Diet Squirt. I am starting to think I am going to have to mention Diet Squirt in my acknowledgments. Hmm, perhaps I should start drinking a pop with a more dignified name. Diet Squirt does just not sound right.

Well, whatever. En route to the kitchen I passed the hall mirror and I noticed what I was wearing, a funky striped tank top and shorts, because it's just too darn hot. And I thought, maybe I should wear this outfit to Zumba tonight.

Then I thought: What if someone ever writes a biography of me? They might get a hold of my Zumba teachers.

Ha, ha! I could imagine someone's triumph, decades from now, to have hunted down Renee, who teaches my downtown urban hip-hop Zumba class, or Ellery, or Mary, or Laurie over at the Boulevard. Because Zumba is to me what bridge was to Pennario, this silly thing you do to relax that takes up a lot of your time.

When my adoring biographer calls up, Ellery or Renee or Mary or Laurie from over at the Boulevard will say: "She really loved to Zumba. She did it every day! Sometimes she went to two or three classes!" It is true. Once last week I went to three. Well, that was a long story. Normally I do not budget time for that.

And just the way Leonard's old bridge buddies laugh about him, my Zumba teachers will laugh about me. "She never really got it together with it, I mean, she did not have the makings of a great Zumba dancer," they will say. Just the way Leonard did not have the makings of a great bridge player.

"And she always wore the funniest clothes!" That was what got me onto this train of thought, that I was considering wearing these random goofy clothes I am wearing right now to Zumba.

The odd things that cross your mind over the course of the day.

Another thing, please check out this hot new Pennario link -- he is playing this Spanish-style piece I love by Moritz Moszkowski. What a seductive performance.

OK, enough kicking it around.

Back to work!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Postcard from Hollywood

I have not been writing because I have been writing. What I mean is, I have been working on my book. I am doing another big push and I am getting it into shape! Do not worry, I will get back to my normal schedule before too long.

Today however something happened that was too cool not to put on the Web log.

I got a postcard from Joan Fontaine!

That is it up above. See, now, if I were writing a book about Leon Fleisher or Vladimir Ashkenazy or, I don't know, whoever, I would not be corresponding with Joan Fontaine. But because I am writing about Leonard Pennario, I am! They are only the best pianists who can play beautiful Schumann and still be close friends with movie stars.

Pennario worked with beautiful Joan Fontaine in the romantic classic "September Affair," He coached her to make it look as if she were really playing the piano. Someone has posted part of the movie on YouTube and here is a good clip from that. It is Pennario you hear on the soundtrack.

The end of that clip -- the end of the movie -- is incredible. Pennario told me how great it was, how you see her playing the concerto, and Joseph Cotten watching from the wings with longing in his eyes. Pennario was such a romantic. I just wish he were around for all this. I wish I could call him and tell him about my postcard from Joan Fontaine.

I am watching the clip now. That is such a thrilling concerto and no one played it the way Pennario did! The ending, there is nothing like it. I always think of a toboggan with these Rachmaninoff concertos. At the end it as if they tip out of control and you are just hurtling forward. All you can do is hang on and enjoy it.


Last week I sent out a few letters to people who had slipped through my fingers before now. Joan Fontaine was one of them. I was thrilled to get her reply even though her secretary seems to have vaporized my letter. What a gracious little note she wrote me.

I love the signature, "Joan."

Now I have to run and continue this correspondence.