Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The pressure!

Things could be worse. I could be a professional tennis player! That is what I said to Howard just now over breakfast.

Poor Venus Williams.

I would hate to be her!

(Yes, I know it should be "hate to be she," but somehow that just sounds wrong. So hold off the grammar lectures.)

There Williams is losing at Wimbledon to some nobody from Bulgaria. And her parents are watching from a box. And she keeps turning around with her palms up, shrugging. That is what the paper said. As if to say, what can I do?

The pressure! The stress!

Then, humiliated before millions. Including your parents.

Your parents telling you later: "It's all right, honey. We all have our off days." Meanwhile your little sister advances to the semi-finals.

Thanks, that is not for me!

At least if I stumble here and there working on my book, there are not thousands of people there to observe me. Say I put my foot in my mouth while talking to one of Leonard Pennario's friends. At least I am not in the international spotlight -- not yet, anyway.

I am glad I am me!

(Yes, I know that should be "I am glad I am I." But somehow that just sounds wrong.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Let's do the Time Warp

Imagine it is Oct. 14, 1978. That is what I have just been doing! That was the day that Leonard Pennario and the cellist Zara Nelsova played Kleinhans Music Hall as part of the old QRS Concert Series.

I wonder what Zara Nelsova's real name was. Let me go check. Ha, ha! I just went on Wikipedia and it turns out it was Sarah Nelson. She was Canadian, born in Winnipeg. It is funny but a little sad how classical musicians used to think they had to change their names, because Eastern European was so in.

Still it is great to imagine how they came up with that name. She and her friends must have been sitting around drinking beer one night, is all I can think. Sarah became Zara and Nelson became Nelsova and they must have laughed themselves silly.

Back to the QRS recital. Above is a picture of the cover of the program. Looking good, Leonard! As usual.

Here is a page of our old Turgeon Brothers restaurants. Someone was just reminiscing about them on Facebook the other day and trying to list them. Well, now here they are!

We still have Coles! Now I am extra proud I did a story on them recently in The Buffalo News. They sponsored a concert by Leonard Pennario! And Positively Main Street, I believe that store is still there, too.

Another thing that has not changed is Tops. They are the same, logo and everything!

"Sweet Music for Food Shoppers." Who knew that the people at Tops were such Leonard Pennario fans?

I always knew I liked that store!

Monday, June 28, 2010


I have been on the phone a lot the last few days because yesterday was the two-year anniversary of the day Pennario died. And I was talking on the phone to a couple of his friends. We all get sentimental and we like to talk.

One person who called me was Mr. Idaho. I was happy to hear from him!

Yak, yak, yak, like a housewife. That was me!

Everyone is so encouraging with everything and it means a lot to me. It is such a thrill putting this together but it takes so long. The days fly. The nights fly (as illustrated by the sunset above). I think a lot about the passage of time, I will tell you that right now.

Speaking of which, Howard and I went out the other night to Fanny's...

... which was the restaurant where we met. Fanny's is closing. Well, now it has closed. Sunday, last night, was its last night.

Saturday was when Howard and I went there, for one last dinner. It was funny because it was not our anniversary but it felt like it. It was actually my brother George's and my sister-in-law Nat's anniversary. They got married at St. Gerard's about six months before we did.

At Fanny's on Saturday Howard and I both got the Pasta Diablo which is this spicy tomato angel hair spaghetti with mussels, clams, shrimp and scallops. That is what we always used to get.

Howard said it was like dining on the Titanic. You could feel the place taking on water as we ate! The waiters at Fanny's were always career waiters and on the ball but the other night they were shuffling around as if in a dream.

"We had a bottle of wine coming?" That was what we heard someone in the next booth say.

"Bottle of wine," the waiter repeated. Like a zombie!

There was no air conditioning and for a while there was no music. There was tension and sadness.

But you know what, the dinner, I have to say this, was excellent!

It cheered us right up.

Restaurants come and go! We started laughing. I had another glass of wine and Howard had a Manhattan.

We drink to the future!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The sound of silence

We had a great culture clash at Mass this morning. It was not a basketball culture clash such as we have had other years when the Gus Macker tournament was in town. (I always get a kick out of it when a stray basketball player lands at the Latin Mass.)

It was a Latin/English Mass culture clash.

We had a visiting priest in to give a homily about the state of the missions in the Philippines. He was telling us how jihadist terrorists there are kidnapping and torturing and killing priests and bishops. That is something you do not read about in the everyday media!

In the process of telling us this he addresses us and asks: "Who has heard of Osama Bin Laden?"

And we all just sit there. A packed church, and no one is saying a word.

Later he asks: "Who has heard the name Fulton Sheen?"

Fulton Sheen ...

... was a very famous pious archbishop who is up for canonization and this is a Latin Mass and trust me, every single person there knew who Fulton Sheen was. Even the teenagers knew, I am sure. Me, I even got an email once from a Leonard Pennario fan who said he was listening to Pennario while doing his Lenten reading of Fulton Sheen. That was the greatest. I think about that guy sometimes. I wonder how he is doing.

So anyway, we all knew who Fulton Sheen was but still, nobody says a word.

We all just sit there!

And the priest looked kind of puzzled but he went on gracefully with his talk. It is nothing against him. It is just that at this Latin Mass we do not talk.

Sometimes at the Latin Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians they drop the informality in the sermon and the priest might ask you a question or two and then people speak up and answer. They also do announcements there and tell you good morning, or good afternoon, or whatever.

I am uncomfortable with that, to tell you the truth.

We do not do that at St. Anthony's!

Once at Our Lady Help of Christians at the end of the Latin Mass they announced how one of the deacons had passed his test to become a fireman. I was shocked. Shocked, I tell you! They are wild, over there at Our Lady Help.

Not us. We like our formality!

But one tip: If you address us in Latin we might just answer back.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Big finds

My teacher Stephen Manes is a fantastic pianist and today while I was making the rounds of estate sales with my mom, I scored one of his records. That is it up above! It is of Tchaikovsky and Busoni. Ferruccio Busoni is a name I love. He was a 19th century pianist and the piece by him that Stephen is playing is the Indianisches Tagebuch, or Indian Diary.

Here is part of the back of the album where you may read a few of the plaudits that were heaped upon Stephen and continue to be heaped upon him. I do not consort with second-rate pianists! If I like someone you know that pianist is the real deal.

That was a thrill, finding this!

There was also this classic Nonesuch album of Brahms played by Richard Goode.

Richard Goode has cool looks. Once in Fredonia after we had heard him play, my friend Michelle and I recognized him in the lobby of the White Inn. Not being shy we floated to his side and said hello and Richard Goode was very nice to us and talked to us in the lobby. That was the same week I talked with Leonard Pennario for the first time. Also the same week I went to my first Latin Mass. That was a very nice week in my life now that I think about it.

I also scored the entire Wagner "Ring" conducted by Sir Georg Solti. That was interesting because just last week Stephen and his wife, Marta, went to the entire "Ring" and loved it and wrote about it on Facebook. Clearly we are all on the same wavelength.

The box set of "Siegfried" in this set had a newspaper clipping inside. That was one thing nice about vinyl, you could store clippings in the jackets and boxes. The clipping was from the 1970s and it was all about how the themes of "Siegfried" are still relevant today.

I love when you find newspaper clippings inside records because then you know the record, and the whole record collection, has been really loved.

Another thing wonderful about records is the artwork and the books. My friend Gary who loves records the way I do says sometimes he buys them just for this purpose. I love to buy operas on vinyl because of the deluxe libretto books and the giant pictures of the singers and conductors. You used to pay big bucks for these things and it was such a treat, opening them and digging in.

I have been thinking recently about Debussy's "Pelleas et Melisande" so I picked up this beautiful set for $2.

Inside the book are pages like this one.

Well, it is time I stopped writing and started listening.

So much music, so little time!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

All shook up

The talk in Buffalo is all about our earthquake yesterday.

Isn't it funny, just three or four days ago I was telling the story of the other earthquake we had here in Buffalo.

As soon as I wrote that, history repeated itself!

When the, ahem, quake hit yesterday I was on my way to the Ellicott Square Building, to the hair salon I frequent there. All these people were gathered out in Main Street and as we do here in Buffalo, I approached them and asked what was going on. The building across the street had been evacuated! They had felt a tremor and were told it was either an earthquake or "an explosion underground."

An explosion underground? That is a possibility I am glad did not pan out.

I heard someone laughing, "What are we going to do, stand here and wait for the building to fall on us?"

After that I go into the Ellicott Square Building and they have felt nothing.

It is news to them that the building across the street has been evacuated. And no one seemed to be very interested or concerned.

It is like when we have those sun showers and it is raining on the one side of the street but not on the other.

Now there have been three earthquakes that have impacted my life. This is one and the last one, the one I wrote about last weekend, was another.

And the third earthquake that affected me happened in California back when Leonard Pennario was living on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. It flooded his building and he lost all his papers, all his reviews and stuff, and that is why I am having to dig all these things up.

That earthquake must really have been something.

I am still feeling its aftershock!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Prince Albert in the can

Prince Albert of Monaco is finally getting married. He is 52. As far as bachelorhood goes he outlasted Howard by three years.

He did not exactly inherit the looks of his mother, Leonard Pennario's old flame Grace Kelly.

These royals in Monaco are no bargain, that is for sure. When I was a kid I remember standing in the checkout line at Loblaws, or wherever, with my dad. The tabloids were full of pictures of Princess Stephanie's latest shenanigans. And Princess Caroline, I seem to remember, was no picnic then either. Because my dad was just shaking is head over the whole business and he felt sympathy and, later, empathy for Prince Rainier. "Oh, that Prince Rainier has his hands full," he said. He brooded about his situation.

Grace would have been happier with Leonard. I used to tell him that. Of course she would have been in his shadow and that would have been something of a problem for her.

It is a regrettable situation in Monaco. The Grimaldis used to be this classy, glamorous, Catholic royal family and now look at them. The prince announces his engagement and it appears on Page A3. The princess-to-be is 20 years younger than Albert and she has that predictable Euro-glam look, no surprises there. Prince Albert has already fathered two children out of wedlock. Good going, Highness.

Why can't these people just behave themselves, for the love of God? You are born into this family and not a lot is required of you. It's a tiny kingdom. Nobody cares what it does. All you have to do is behave yourself and you get this life of luxury and influence. And yet Prince Albert of Monaco could not hack it.

I prefer the other Prince Albert.

Here is another Prince Albert ad that I like!

Reading the Associated Press story on Monaco's Prince Albert I am thinking how sick I am of the word "iconic." "She has iconic shoes to fill."

Find a better word, you know?

And later: "Princess Grace remains a style icon."

Annoying writing.

Annoying royal family.

Yes, I know. Annoying Web log!

I will quit my harping now.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A screech in the night

The day begins early at the Leonard Pennario desk and this morning at 4:30 my work was interrupted by a screeching of brakes, followed by a loud crash.

While not exactly unusual in our urban neighborhood, a noise like that is startling nonetheless. I went downstairs to see what I could see. I figured it happened at the nearby corner. But I saw nothing.

Then I heard Howard up and padding around and he came downstairs.

The crash had awakened him. And unlike me, while he had to rouse himself from sleep, he did not have to pull himself away from what Pennario was doing in 1955. So he was more alert than I was. He had gone to the window and figured it all out.

Howard said what had happened was a car had plowed into an electric pole at the corner. After that the driver had apparently hopped out and was running.

"They're looking for him," Howard said.

And sure enough, there were police cars at the corner.

I had assumed the guy was drunk. Howard said while that was a possibility, maybe the guy had stolen the car. Maybe he had robbed some place and was making a getaway and crashed.  "I heard a noise outside. He's going to be trying to hide. He might be in our yard. Don't open the door."


All of a sudden it is like "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Not that I have read that book but everyone I know is talking about it and now it seems I am in it!

"Don't go out and get the paper," Howard said.

Imagine, I would step out in my pajamas to pick up The Buffalo News and a masked man might grab me.

Now it is almost 7. Am I allowed to collect the paper yet?

Perhaps the driver of the crashed car is still out there!

Maybe it is like that "Carnival of Souls." He walked away from the crash and now he is at my door.


Will I ever be able to leave the house again?

Monday, June 21, 2010

TV head

While I have been at my desk slaving away chronicling Leonard Pennario, Howard has been making television appearances. They are pursuant to his involvement with Channel 2's weather balloon. Howard's company ...

... provided the GPS that helped Buffalo celebrity weatherman Andy Parker find the balloon.

Wow, that picture brings back memories. We had to get up at 4 a.m. the day of the weather balloon launch. We were rubbing our eyes and drinking coffee. For a while we lost the GPS signal and I had to pray to St. Anthony to get it back. Howard did not know I prayed to St. Anthony but I did. He finds things with Covert GPS Vehicle Tracking. I find things with Covert Prayers to St. Anthony. Anyway it was a tense morning! But it was fun. Looking back, anyway, it was fun.

A portrait of Howard, left, with Andy Parker.

Ha, ha! Someone on Facebook pointed out that Howard looks as if he is Andy Parker's boss. It is the way he is sitting and the suit he is wearing.

The megalomaniac is on the screen at left.

I am just kidding about the megalomaniac.

I am proud!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Amherst treasure hunt

The estate sales and garage sales my mom and I went to this weekend were pretty substandard. There was a brief shower which rained out most of the garage sales. And the one estate sale we went to was pathetic.


A church sale at the Amherst Community Church yielded summer treasures.

The Amherst Community Church is where my friend Scott Thomas is the minister. I used to work with him on the copy desk of The Buffalo News. He was my boss. There is one story that sums up Scott Thomas' greatness which I will now tell. Once we had an earthquake. All our desks and computers shook and then it was quiet because no one had ever been through an earthquake before and no one knew what to say.

Then Scott spoke.

"Cool," he said.

Ha, ha! I loved that. I was sort of hoping Scott would be around at this church sale but he was not. There were a bunch of church ladies officiating and they took about a year to add up your purchases and check you out. It was a sweet scene, really. I was thinking this has to be a comparatively cushy job, being the pastor of this church. It is in a leafy suburb. The living is easy.

It is no wonder that I found such sunny and summery things.

I bought the candle thingie at the top of this post. It is a big plastic hand-painted globe and a tea light fits perfectly inside. Howard and I dined tonight out on the porch with this candle thingie which cost 50 cents.

Next there are the His n' Hers bug mugs. They were 10 cents each.

Zut alors, this picture is out of focus! Well, what do you expect before coffee. The bug mugs made their debut this morning. I chose the one with the lady bugs. That is mine! And I gave Howard the one with the bees. Howard failed to notice the bug mugs As if every man is lucky enough to awaken to two brand-new coffee mugs with pictures of bees and ladybugs.

And lastly...

... there were no Leonard Pennario records at this church sale. The members of the Amherst Community Church are hanging on to their Pennario records. But there was this record by the Melachrino Strings. Remember them? It was a quarter.

I have a feeling these purchases will be part of my summer backdrop the way my Candle-Lite Candles were part of my winter backdrop.

Thank you, Amherst Community Church!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Weighty matters

The scale does not move so Howard and I are getting rid of it.

Originally I had another reason for wanting to get rid of it and get a new scale. Once a few days ago when I stepped on the scale, it gave me a range of 15 pounds depending on which way the scale faced, whether it sat on the tiles or the rug, and what side I leaned down on.

Zut alors!

I am only a few pounds over where I should be (she said piously) but I have been scrutinizing the scale because I am afraid my book on Leonard Pennario has not been kind to my weight. There were two weeks once when I hardly ever went outside or moved. I just sat at my computer from morning till night. Writing a book can make you fat! Nobody ever told me that.

Usually when I am weighing myself I do turn the scale one way and then another. Howard does, too! I hear it. When he is in the bathroom I can hear the scale scraping on the tiles this way and that. But still. I did not think this warranted this 15-pound weird behavior!

And after a week of doing Zumba classes every day, how about that?

I said to Howard, "Something's wrong with the scale."

He said, "I know. It doesn't move."

Ha, ha!

So we are getting rid of it.

Perhaps we will not replace it. Hereafter we will just go regularly to City Hall and weigh ourselves on the big Toledo scale there. Buffalo has a collective weight problem so our City Hall offers this public service: You can go to City Hall and weigh yourself there. That way they store the scale and you do not have to.

If our scale tries to speak up and defend itself we will say, tell it to the hand.

'Cause the bod ain't listening!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Walk the walk

We are getting a tightrope walker in downtown Buffalo according to a story by my friend Colin in The Buffalo News. The tightrope walker has a wonderful tightrope walker name. It is Didier Pasquette!

Didier Pasquette studied with -- I love that phrase in the story -- another wonderfully named tightrope walker, Philippe Petit. All of us in Buffalo are experts now in tightrope walking history. Here is a picture of Philippe Petit.

But no longer is tightrope walking tightrope walking.

A quote I love, from John Massier of the Buffalo gallery Hallwalls: "It’s a metaphorical, figurative act. It’s very much about inhabiting the moment. To me, this is what the wire walker exemplifies. It’s the great impulse of all artists to fully inhabit the moment so acutely that you can do something that magnificent, that you can do something that sublime.”

The story continues:

During a recent visit to Buffalo to scout possible locations, Massier noted, Pasquette stressed that he was not a stunt man out to break any world records. He wanted, as Massier recalled, simply to “draw a line in space and walk on that line.”


I would go out and watch the tightrope walker, to use a phrase the article does not favor.

I am not so sure about the big giant owl sculpture they are going to have sit on a handsome building on Main Street. But there is money for this kind of thing and we are getting it.

We are also getting a car drilled full of holes sitting in front of the old Asbury Methodist Church downtown.

If I believed in reincarnation, which I do not, I would hope that in my next life I would not be writing a book about Leonard Pennario.

I would like to come back as a visual artist!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Talking proud

Yesterday Howard and I dined on the patio of our local taverna, King's Court. The owner, Sam, is from Greece and his souvlakis have the greatest salad greens and you can get chicken, beef or lamb. Nobody knows about the souvlaki at King's Court but I am telling you, it is the greatest.

We walked over to King's Court from Big Blue. It was a perfect evening. After work I managed to get in two hours of Zumba dancing! And now it was this beautiful evening and we were dining on the patio of King's Court. While we ate we talked big about when Big Blue becomes the Junior League Decorators' Show House. As I said we have to enjoy the prospect now because after Saturday that prospect could well be no more.

Once the Junior League sees Big Blue they might run! Howard sent them the link to the story about it on Buffalo Rising and they seemed to like it a lot. But on Saturday when they see it, hey, you never know.

Another couple was on the patio of King's Court too and soon we were joined by a pair of Indian guys. It is funny how that works, the more people you have eating on a patio, the more arrive. Oh, they think. This place must be good, look at the people eating here.

The guys from India were so cute. They ordered big draft beers and sat there talking English to each other in their Indian accents. It made me think of when I was 16 and was an exchange student in Germany. Toward the end of my stay, which was about a month, I was making plans to meet up somewhere with two other American students over there. And the funny thing was, we were in a hurry when we were setting up these plans but we talked German to each other, trying to figure things out. We started laughing later when we realized that. You get to the point where you are used to it and do not think about it.

Anyway, a beautiful day, and I drove home listening to Leonard Pennario playing Schumann. I have been getting good at copying Leonard's old records onto CD and now I can start taking them wherever I go.

One thing, yesterday I forgot all about a dentist appointment I had. Zut alors! Well, maybe I can reschedule it today.

Today is a rainy day.

A better day to go to the dentist!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

This old house

Big news on Big Blue!

The Junior League is considering it as their 2011 Decorators' Show House.

They are sending a committee over on Saturday to look at it!

What if the bat flies right in front of the committee's faces? That is what I am worried about. Howard says I have to write about this whole business on the Web log now, before the Junior League comes over and sees Big Blue and runs away from it as fast as they can.

I do believe that Big Blue would be good for the Junior League's purposes. It is downtown and they would get big crowds because it is easily accessible to all and also all the downtown workers would want to come over on their lunch hour and see the place. Plus people in Buffalo are curious about this building. It is just so visible. It is practically across the street from City Hall.

But you never know how people are thinking.

When the Junior Leaguers walk in they will either love Big Blue or they will hate it. It is definitely a case of "Bring your imagination and let's talk." We have pictures on the wall of Leonard Pennario and of Jackie Jocko but that is about as much decorating as we have done. Well, there is also a painting of Mississippi John Hurt in the entrance way. We have it there for our own reasons.

Look at that. There are all these videos of Mississippi John Hurt performing.

Whereas I can hardly find one of Pennario!

Oh well. (Long sigh.) Back to Big Blue. One thing, joking aside, Big Blue is one great historic home. It is the last house of its kind to survive on Delaware Avenue downtown. It is our last glimpse of what Delaware Avenue looked like in the Civil War era. There is also a romance involved in bringing a house like that back after all the years it spent as gay bars and rooming houses and other, um, non-house issues.

It would definitely be a switch for the Junior League.

That is for sure!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Slow start

Do you ever have that kind of a day when you are behind with everything?

I was more than half way to the office when I realized I had forgotten something and I had to go back home to get it. Then I missed every single signal in the City of Buffalo.

Every single signal! That is a great phrase but it is hard to type.

When I finally got to work I ran into Margaret, my boss. Normally I am not the type to talk to bosses. I just am not. But this morning I was just in no hurry to buckle down, it was just the truth. So I trailed after Margaret, talking, as she made her way into the office. She went to make tea and I trailed after her there too.

Finally I get to my desk and the computer will not let me sign on. Tech services are not answering their phone so I end up getting Roger who is our resident computer expert. He is the Leonard Pennario of computers! But Roger was on the phone so I had to wait a while.

Then ... when he finally came over does not the darn computer start up all on its own. Son of a sea cook! It is as if it felt his presence. I felt like such an idiot.

Fast forward to Zumba class. I could not get the rhythm for love or money. After that I got caught in the rain. I had brought an umbrella but it broke embarrassingly so I left it in a garbage tote outside County Court. I ducked into the Ellicott Square Building to get out of the rain for a few minutes and that is when I ran into the woman who cuts my hair. She was getting coffee.

I wish I could put my salon person's name but she is Turkish or something and speaks no English. But we speak the international language of shopping!  And so I understood her to communicate to me that she had products marked way down. And I allowed her to lead me to the salon.

We start going through these lotions and perfumes and in a couple minutes I am loaded up with product I do not really need but what the heck, it is that kind of a day. Then this big tall blindingly handsome man walks in. He has this white hair and he sits down in the salon chair where I sit to get my hair cut. And we start joking around and then my hair cutter's husband introduces me and it is Congressman Jack Quinn.

And, I mean, I know who Congressman Quinn is but our paths do not cross and I do not watch much TV so I did not recognize him. Would you recognize Congressman Quinn if you bumped into him? That is something to ask yourself. Here is a picture of Congressman Jack Quinn so if you run across him you will know.

 I would pick this particular day to get introduced to a congressman. I mean, here I am in this long orange hippie dress and sandals and my hair is wet and I have not looked like this since my last Grateful Dead concert when I got caught in the rain at Rich Stadium and could not find my car.

I said something to Quinn trying to cover my embarrassment, something like, "Every time I walk in here I meet important people."

But inside I was thinking: "Can I go back to bed now?"

What a day!

Well, what do I expect for a Monday?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The miracle worker

Today is the Feast of St. Anthony so in his honor I was listening to one of my favorite songs by Gustav Mahler, "St. Anthony of Padua's Sermon to the Fishes."

I even posted it on Facebook. I know... Geek! Nerd! But it is a great song and a great performance. This video even has a translation. It is a funny story about how St. Anthony preaches to the fishes and they enjoy the sermon but they stay the way they always were. It is just like people! That is the point of the story.

The story, by the way, is true and it is one of the documented miracles of St. Anthony. He went out and preached to the fishes and they stuck their heads out of the water and listened to him. That is a picture of the event above and here is another.

St. Anthony has special powers and he had them even when he was alive. I love the description of him in the missal I take to church. "One of the greatest Franciscan Saints, St. Anthony was a profound theologian, a brilliant preacher, a formidable foe to heresy and a terror to heretics, through the supernatural forces which seemed always at his command."

I love that line about the supernatural forces at his command. It is the truth!

I was thinking of all the times St. Anthony has come through for me. One of the greatest times I do not think I ever got around to writing. After it happened I was just too stunned and then I kept saving the story for a rainy day.

Today is a rainy day! So, here goes.

This was a couple of months ago. And it had been weighing on my mind for a few weeks how I was missing this CD. I mean, I am always losing CDs, but this one was special. It had been sent to me by a friend at the International Piano Archives who has been very helpful to me and it is of Leonard Pennario playing Mozart's "Coronation" Concerto. And there is also an interview with Pennario.

And this CD had gone missing. I kept thinking about it. I mean, I could get in touch with my buddy at the Archives and I am sure he would send me another one. But it was so nice of him the first time and I did not want him to think me careless. I did not know how I could have misplaced this thing. I even had Howard bring home my old laptop which was over at his office. I was hoping maybe I had loaded the CD onto the laptop. No such luck!

I searched the office, meanwhile. And this box where I keep a lot of Leonard stuff. It was not anywhere!

Finally, one morning, I was downstairs getting my coffee and I asked St. Anthony about it. I say prayers a lot in the morning, I am realizing, because I am the only one up and I can pray out loud without sounding like an idiot.

I explained the business to St. Anthony about this CD and I remember I said it was not exactly an emergency, but if St. Anthony could get around to finding this CD for me, I would be grateful.

Then I went upstairs to the computer and was working on the book and to be honest, I forget about my prayer.

All of a sudden it was as if I heard this little voice. I mean, I did not actually hear a voice, I am not that nuts. But something intruded on my thoughts, this voice.

"Don't you want to find your CD?" it said.

And I looked up and kind of shook my head and laughed. There was no way I was going to start looking for this CD, not now. I had looked everywhere. I was not going to waste my morning looking again. St. Anthony would find it for me whenever.

"Just look," I heard. And I kind of shrugged. I am not moving, I thought. And I did not move. But to humor the voice, I kind of glanced at the floor.

And there was this CD, under the desk, face down.

"No way," I said out loud. I mean, I had looked all over the office. But just for the heck of it, I reached down and picked it up. I seem to remember I rolled my eyes as I did that.

It was it. It was that CD.

I actually got a shiver. You know the way you get when you see something you cannot explain. I had to kind of sit there for a while and get my head together. Because in that minute I just knew that there was this power out there, and I was very close to it. When St. Anthony finds something for you I do not think it is just a favor he is doing for you. I think it is his way of reminding you that what you believe is real.

I think that is my greatest St. Anthony story. There is a funny postscript. I went to church and told Father Secondo over at St. Anthony's about it and he was laughing. He reminded me of that other time when St. Anthony found that Mozart record I was looking for.

"I think St. Anthony likes Mozart," he said.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Let it burn!

I squeezed in another Zumba class today before going garage sale-ing with my mother. Zut alors, I could Zumba  for only 45 minutes because I had told my mom I would be over around noon, and the class did not start until 11:30. But that is me, always rushing off somewhere.

This Zumba class was at the Buffalo Athletic Club for Women. I am used to the co-ed gyms and this was different. Actually I liked it. All around me were Pilates classes, yoga classes and other activities that I liked. The desk was staffed by women and they were all really cheery. And the sound system was quiet and seemed to be playing exclusively women singer-songwriters singing about love and peace.

It was so relaxing! That is not something you say every day about the downtown gym. I do like the downtown gym but it is not exactly relaxing.

The Zumba class though was louder and more raucous at the women's gym than it was downtown. Simply put, it was insane. I told a few of the gals near me, "Don't follow me. I'm lost too."

The instructor was this big wild muscle woman and she kept yelling things like "Squeeze it! If you don't no one else will."

Ha, ha!!

While she was jumping around she sang and we were supposed to, too. There was one song which now, Googling around, I can see is sung by a group called Pitbull. "The floor is on fire! The floor is on fire! We don't need no water! Let it burn, let it burn, let it burn!"

I have no sense of rhythm and have absolutely no idea what I am doing but what the heck, I am here to burn calories, not become a great Latin dancer. Plus years ago, when I used to go out dancing with my friends, I learned the secret of survival on the dance floor. It is simple: You smile. If you smile everyone assumes you know what you are doing.

Let it burn!

I went from Pitbull to Prokofiev at the Buffalo Philharmonic. And tomorrow morning it is time for Gregorian chant! It is a special Sunday tomorrow. It is the Feast of St. Anthony. He is the patron saint of lost objects as I may have mentioned once or twice. He helps you find things.

I hope he helps me find relaxation after my exciting day.

It will not be easy!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mysterious Michael

There is this friend of mine, Michael Zahowicz. He is an announcer for WNED-FM, the classical station. He also plays the organ at the Latin Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians, above, which is how my mother and I entered his orbit. My mom and I go to that Mass sometimes and after Mass Michael Zahowicz turns around in the organ loft and waves to us and that is a highlight for us.

It is great how Michael Zahowicz can recognize me even with me wearing my estate sale mantilla!

However. There is trouble in paradise.

I get this email a few days ago from, the email says, Michael Zahowicz. And I assumed it was spam. You know, someone hijacks your email and sends stuff around to everyone on your list, usually involving money. It has not happened to me but one day it will.

Here is what this bogus email from Michael Zahowicz said:

I'm writing this with tears in my eyes,my family and I came down here to United Kingdom for a short vacation unfortunately we were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed,all cash,credit card and cell were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with us.

We've been to the embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all and our flight leaves in less than 3hrs from now but we're having problems settling the hotel bills and the
hotel manager won't let us leave until we settle the bills.

I'm freaked out at the moment...


Now, that cannot be Michael Zahowicz. Because No. 1, it does not sound like his tone of voice. No. 2, no one in Buffalo says "United Kingdom." We say England or Scotland or Ireland or Wales. We do not say United Kingdom.

What about Wild Kingdom?

Sometimes we say that!

Also that "my family and I." Michael is a single guy. The "my family" could mean other relatives but it sounds funny. And the "short vacation." In Buffalo all our vacations are short vacations. Well, almost all of them. There were my three or four months with Leonard Pennario. But mostly we just say "vacation" because unless you are jeopardizing your job, it is short.

What is with the capital "P" in Police? Do they mean ...

You mean Sting was no help?

On the other hand the email did not exactly ask for money the way spam emails do.

And last time we saw Michael Zahowicz at Our Lady Help of Christians he did say he was going on vacation.

And I have not heard him on the radio since then.

Today I heard this voice I thought was his but no, after I sat through this big long piece by Telemann or whoever to make sure, it was Joe Jerk or someone. It was not Michael Zahowicz.

I thought to look on Facebook. Michael Zahowicz was my Facebook friend. But he has mysteriously vanished from Facebook. This adds to my discomfort.

Michael, you have not gotten mugged, have you, in the United Kingdom?

And they are not holding you captive, are they, at your hotel?

Does anybody know?

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Yesterday I investigated the Zumba craze and took a Zumba class. Well, I am sure it is a craze no longer. Fads are always old by the time they get to Buffalo.

Didn't the Washington Post write six months ago that Latin dancing was out while Latin Mass is in?

Well, whatever. All I want to do is burn calories and I think Zumba will be a nice way to do that. Even when you are sweating up a storm, your brain classifies dancing as fun, not work. It always amazes me how seldom gyms and exercise gurus capitalize on this phenomenon. They are always throwing miserable galley-slave stuff at you like Boot Camp and kickboxing and spinning and squats and lunges. And believe me, that clock creeps.

In the Zumba class the time flew. You are just so busy trying to follow the steps, which I am not naturally good at, and improving your performance, and laughing. They do not take steps slow so people like me catch on. They just throw them at you! And this is a funny thing, the teacher, whose name is Holly, is the most tattooed woman in the world. She is even tattooed up and down her legs! So you are watching these tattooed legs and trying to keep up.

Which, as I said, is not easy for me! Here I am this German with no sense of Latin rhythm. I must have been pretty entertaining! I was the nearest to the glass door which opens up into the cardio room, into an area where people go to stretch. I kept catching guys from the cardio room stretching out their stretches so they could watch me Zumba.

There is a funny thing about me in that I do not get tired. Howard says I am like a freak.I get tired running or jogging after just a few minutes. But give me something low impact, like swimming or walking or cross-country skiing or biking or dancing, and I will just go forever. I do not know what it is like to get tired in those situations.

Ha, ha! It is like my book on Leonard Pennario. I just go working on it into eternity. I never get tired!

So this was this dream for me, this Zumba class, because it was like being in a bar dancing except you did not need anyone to dance with you and you did not have to go sit down because someone else got tired. The other people in the class began dropping like flies but me, I just Zumba-ed on and on.

There is just one problem with this Zumba situation. I can see getting into the swing of it and then it will be gone.

It is too good to be true!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dressed for success

Last night we went to a party at my friend Gary's house. Above is a picture of Howard in the driveway.

Howard's relentlessly formal attire is beginning to bother people. At Gary's it bothered lounge sensation Guy Boleri.

Guy said: "I'm going to take a scissors and cut that tie off him!"

Howard was wearing the pinstriped suit he wore when we got married and he also had on one of Leonard Pennario's ties.

Here is a picture of Guy at the party. He is at the extreme right next to our friend Gary. This is a rare picture in which Guy is not showing his discomfort with Howard's suits.

A group shot!

Our friend Lou.

Notice the stellar surroundings in which we socialized. It explains why Gary's house was chosen not long ago as The Buffalo News' Home of the Month.

All right, the day is flying. It flieth, as I put it a few days back. It is a rainy day which means it is perfect for work. I like days like this.

I must away and get some work done.

I must make hay while the sun does not shine!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Last night, big excitement! My mom hired a home inspector to go through her house and give her advice on the unfortunate fact that when it rains, the basement gets wet. So the home inspector is in the basement, giving dire pronouncements on this and that, with my brother George trailing after him and listening dolefully.

And the drama peaked when the inspector announced he was getting a headache and he suspected a carbon monoxide leak.

So George calls me. He says we should call the heating people but the heating people have probably gone home, so we should call them tomorrow (i.e. today).

After we hang up I am feeling uneasy. I mean, this carbon monoxide leak may have been there forever and was probably slight, but once you know about it, you cannot exactly rest easy. Wouldn't it amount to some kind of an emergency? So I call the gas company's emergency hot line.

Even though it is the emergency hot line they put you on hold.

A robot tells you, "We know this is an emergency," but still they keep you waiting and play soft rock at you. I hate when they play "music" at you while you are on hold. You are stuck listening to it. Wow, that is a good gripe. I wish Leonard Pennario were around at such moments because we always sympathized with each other over stuff like this.

After a few minutes they connected me with this woman and I had to explain what had happened, about the home inspector, my brother George, my mother, etc. At first she was kind of impatient with me but then she suddenly turned magically nice.

And I learned what happens in these situations. They connect you to the local fire department, and also paramedics. We had this three-way call going all of a sudden. "Go ahead," they are telling me. It was very dramatic!

End result (a redundant expression we love here in Buffalo): They sent a fire chief over to my mom's house with a doodad that checks carbon monoxide levels. Not just a standard issue fireman, note. A chief! This is VIP treatment which we love here in Buffalo.

The chief shows up with a fire crew and everything. My mother said luckily no neighbors were watching. She thought they were eating dinner. The firemen enter the house and look around from top to bottom, gadget in hand.

You guessed it: No carbon monoxide!

None, anywhere!

Howard said, "Hahahahaha! He had a hangover." Meaning the inspector.

My mother says to me, "I'm the one with the headache now, with all the stuff he told me I should do."

The moral of the story: Do not invite inspectors into your house.

You are inviting trouble!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bitchin' in the kitchen (again)

There is a magazine called Clean Eating and its Web site offers you menus for a week of Clean Meals.

"Eating clean has helped me balance my life in such a great way." That is what the editor says on the site.

Ha, ha! C'mon in, the dishwater's fine!

Surely this is the golden age of cooking weirdness. Other things I think are funny:

(You may play Leonard Pennario's "March of the Lunatics" as you digest this list:)

1. When they call arugula "rocket."

(Well, there is one nice thing about that and that is when your friend who is helping you cook treats the arugula wrong you can always yell something about rocket science.)

2. When they call bell peppers "capsicums." I am sorry, it is just not as appetizing.

(On the other hand "courgettes" is cute for zucchini. And "aubergine" is a pretty way of saying eggplant.)

3. When they tell you to use "best-quality." Don't tell me what to do. I know what I can afford.

4. "Buy pre-cut onions to save time." What are these people doing that is so important? Here I am writing a book on America's greatest pianist. If I have time to cut onions anyone does

5. Instant polenta. And that it comes in tubes. Why tubes? Can't they pack it into a tray or something?

6. Ever notice how European stuff and Mexican stuff and all kinds of other things we have to order away for are better than anything locally produced?

7. Germans get no credit for contributing anything. Cookbooks will print you recipes for pork roast cooked with apples, sausage with mustard, and sweet-and-sour cabbage with apples and oh, it is always French.

8. Cooking Light magazine, in what are clearly its twilight days, giving us recipes for doughnuts and fritters.

9. Stir-fries. I do them once in a while but they make me awfully nervous. I hate making these fussy Asian dishes that demand that I have everything ready in assorted little bowls before I start cooking.

10. Fill in the blank.

Fellow gripers appreciated!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The days of the roses

I cannot get over the roses in my garden and how beautiful they are. Above are the roses by my back door.

Here are roses by my back porch.

Here are the roses in the front.

Here are the roses at my mother's house.

Here is a song about roses I love, sung by a singer I love.

My roses will never look as good as my mother's but for one brief, shining moment my garden does not look too bad. All those rose bushes I bought for $5 each at Menne's are earning their keep, I will say that.

One thing, I got out two days in a row and pulled up bishop's weed. Here is an idea. Perhaps I will go and replant the bishop's weed in Bishop Kmiec's yard. After all, as Scripture says, render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's.

Oh, no!

I just looked up on this Catholic site to check on how to address a bishop and it is "Most Illustrious and Most Reverend Lord."

That is a mouthful!

When I talked to Cardinal Egan about Leonard Pennario I had only to address him as "Your Eminence."

Now I am to say, "Here is my bishop's weed, Most Illustrious and Most Reverend Lord"? For real?

Oh, wait. That is in Italy. Here in America it is different. It is not so elaborate. However, the site advises: "It is better to make a free use of titles of respect, rather than to run the risk of not using enough, and of thus falling short of what is due and fitting."

Hmmm. How about that?

It is amazing, the things you learn when you stop to smell the roses.