Thursday, June 30, 2011

My new appliance

Shame, shame! I have been so busy -- with Leonard Pennario-related work, of course -- that I ordered a new washing machine from Orville's and went for a whole day without even going down to the basement to see it.

It is an Estate washing machine! I chose it because I like estate sales. Anyway, I saw the box in the back yard and knew it was here and I was going to go down and look at it but then I got to playing Schubert on the piano and forgot.

The next day I finally got it in my head to go down and see it. It was sitting there with the operating booklets on top of it, brand spanking new.

It fell to Howard to break it in.

He put in a load today. Before I even got a chance to!

This is one aspect to getting the washing machine that drives me crazy: The other day, two days before the new one was scheduled to arrive, the laundry had been piling up and so I got desperate and decided I would try the old one. It has just been crazy and temperamental and it would not wring the clothes out properly plus you could not turn it on without a lot of trouble. I had had enough of it. But I thought, one more time would not hurt.

Son of a sea cook, that old washing machine sprang to life and worked fine!

It knew it was being replaced!

I am waiting for a study to tell us that appliances are like German shepherds, that they can become as smart as a five-year-old child.

That would explain a lot!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Pope Tweets

The Wall Street Journal has a great video of the Pope Tweeting.

It is great to watch His Holiness walking into the room and everyone kneeling and kissing his hand. It is so obvious how that is business as usual, that is the way things are done, well, when in Rome. After making that spectacular entrance the Pope sits down at the I-Pad and sends his first Tweet. At least it is his first English language Tweet.

Ha, ha! I love watching the look on his face as they are telling him about it and reading it aloud. That is the way Leonard Pennario would get when anyone tried to get him to pay attention to the Internet. Pennario never wanted to look at anything on line but he liked me to tell him about it.

Just the way Pennario did, the Pope has a pretty good head of hair, I cannot help noticing. Beautiful white hair.

I am going to have to figure out how to follow the Pope on Twitter. Perhaps if I entertain him I will have his ear and I can complain about things in the Church that are bothering me.

On the other hand forget things in the Church that are bothering me. The Pope and I can Facebook and Tweet into the night about the piano music of Schubert.

Watch His Holiness get hooked on Facebook and Twitter.

Watch him start playing Farmville. He will go up against Don Paul. We will be reading messages like, "Benedictus XVI is working in the stables." "Benedictus XVI has harvested a bushel full of yellow squash." That is how he signed his Tweet, Benedictus XVI.

Too cool.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A matter of time

Last night I made jerk chicken on the grill. This is Howard's old beat-up grill we are talking about. It is a Millennium and yes, we bought it in the last millennium. 

It is funny remembering buying that grill. Howard bought it at Target. This was back when he lived in Amherst and we walked to Target to get it. That is not as tree-hugging as it sounds. His apartment was right next door. When we bought that grill it was 1999 and we had been going out for about two weeks. Buying that grill was one of the first things we did.

How time flies!

Which reminds me, so, last night I am making this jerk chicken. Easy and fun! It is out of this $5 cookbook I bought at the Broadway Market back when the Broadway Market had that cut-rate book stand. You put together an easy paste of two tablespoons lime juice, two tablespoons rum, two tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons allspice (that seemed like a lot to me so I used two teaspoons, maybe next time I'll be more brave), a half teaspoon cinnamon and... oh, this is great. "Salt."

Um, how much salt?

Don't you hate it when cookbooks do this? 

It is not as if I am going to take a spoon and dip it into this sauce and take a taste.

But anyway. I guessed a teaspoon salt which is what I almost always use when these asinine cookbooks refuse to give me an amount. And it turned out delicious.

But here is what was funny. At the last minute, this is about 10 p.m. we are talking about, my friend Michelle comes over on her way home from a party. This is Michelle K, brunette Michelle. I have two friends named Michelle as I may have mentioned. There is Blond Michelle and Brunette Michelle and they are both beautiful.

I told Brunette Michelle, "Michelle, you have to have some jerk chicken. You liked it last time!"

Because in the cookbook I had written: "Good ... easy .... made for Howard and Michelle K. Michelle liked. Howard and Ari liked. 6/27/03."

Ari is our friend Ari Silverstein. He must have tried the jerk chicken too! I wish Ari could have been there last night.

But the thing is, Michelle noticed that the date was almost the same. Yesterday was June 26.


Where does the time go??

Speaking of where do the years go it is coming up to the day Leonard Pennario died. I was thinking about that. It is either today or tomorrow. I can never remember the day which is stupid, you know, considering I was there. It is ridiculous when I am forced to look it up on Wikipedia.

Which I just did. It is today, the anniversary. June 27.

That was three years ago!

One more thing and then we get on with our onerous Mondays. The artist in Hawai'i I mentioned a few days ago, I was talking to him yesterday. This artist is amazing. He is a former Marine Corps colonel with a wonderful deep voice. He and his wife were friends with Pennario for decades and they live in a house carved out of the side of a volcano. I am telling you, no one in my book is normal! 

But anyway, he told me that when the news reached Hawai'i that Pennario died, the classical radio station there played Leonard Pennario all day.

That is a most wonderful and civilized state, Hawai'i.

I want to move there!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Excuses, excuses

You know how sometimes you need to get out of things? Maybe you didn't show up to work, you didn't do something you were supposed to do, you didn't make it to a party?

You know how sometimes you need an excuse?


It has been this way for thousands of years! Today there is this dandy new excuse I picked up at church.

This appears in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees and he tells a parable about a man who held a great supper and invited many. He sends his servant to invite people. And you have to love how Christ tells what excuses the people come up with.

These must be the excuses people used to use in ancient Israel when they did not want to show up to something!

The world has not changed!

Jesus lists three excuses these people are giving. They are hilarious and prove that Our Lord had a sense of humor.

One guy says, I just bought a farm, and I have to go out and see it.  We still get this one today. "Uh, I just bought a house."

Another guy says, I just got married. We still get this excuse today too.

Someone else says, I have to work on my book about Leonard Pennario. Oh, wait! That was me! Well, if I were in the parable that would be me.

Back to the Bible. Ahem.

A third guy says: I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I have to go and try them out.

Isn't that classic?

I totally lost track of what Christ was saying, I was so charmed by this excuse!

In Latin it is: "Juga boum emi quinque, et eo probare illa; rogo te, habe me excusatum."

That is a useful phrase, "Habe me excusatum." Please excuse me. "Rogo te" is, I pray thee.

If a time machine ever takes you back to ancient Rome now you know how to get out of unwanted social events. Maybe someone asks you to a banquet or to the chariot races and you just want to stay home. Now, you can!

It is fun to look at pictures of oxen. Up above is a great picture I found on Google Images.

Here is a yoke of oxen.

Here is a darling picture of what are, by all accounts, darling animals:

This gentleman on this Web site writes:

Oxen are quiet and unassuming animals that give back far more than they take. They are willing to work long hours with a comparatively small amount of feed and care. Their humility and gentle perseverance are a constant source of example for us all. And Jesus used these quiet creatures to whisper words of encouragement into our hectic lives. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11: 28-30. So come along with us as we look at the ox as a simple, natural, and enjoyable alternative to farming in this fast-paced and high-priced world.

How charming is that? I could totally see wanting to blow off a dinner and go try out my new oxen instead.

Except that the man in the parable is angry. That is God, who has invited all of us, and he is angry that he is getting all these excuses. That excuse about the oxen, it did not go over big.

But it went over big with me!

I like that window into the past.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The artist in the ether

One of the things I love about working on my book on Leonard Pennario is when Pennario's friends appear out of the ether. They show up. They materialize.

The other day I heard from an artist in Hawaii. And I recognized his name right away because Leonard had his paintings in his room.

It was so nice of this gentleman to get in touch. (Hint: He could be a major, major figure.)

So he emails me and I email him and he emails me back and we are making plans to talk. And he says we are dealing with a six-hour time difference.

This morning I get up. I get my coffee, then I sit down and answer his email. La la la la la. Tap tap tap, tap tap tap, on my antique computer keyboard.

Blithely I type:

"You must be six hours ahead of us (I'm in Buffalo) so maybe we should think about 8 a.m. here, 2 p.m. where you are?"

He emails me back today:

Regarding plans for conversing, let's do a reverse on the time, for we are
are 6 hours behind you, meaning that when it's 8:00 am in Buffalo, we're at 2:00 am on Maui
and regardless of the level of our friendship, such a wake-up call would jeopardize any chance
for a meaningful dialog.  So, I should be in my studio anytime after 8:00 am here or 2:00 pm your
time. ...


I burst out laughing right at my desk.


Just that sentence, where he explained it to me. I hope it is not being too proprietary to say I can see why Leonard liked this guy. Luckily I am not writing my book about geography.

Where is Hawaii, anyway? 

On maps in school it always showed up right off the coast of Texas, remember?

Have I learned nothing since then?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Borne back ceaselessly into the past

There is this wonderful smoky smell in the air tonight. It makes me remember when I was a kid and used to go to this medieval war down in rural Pennsylvania where there would be campfires going all night long. It looked like the picture up above.

And in the morning you would wake up to the sound of chain mail.

Ah, youth!!

I feel kind of sorry for people who do not have those memories and yet they are very much in the majority and I am in the minority, remembering something like that. Here is something funny from that war, which was called the Pennsic War, and it was part of the Society for Creative Anachronism. A few priests belonged and that meant that on Sunday you got your choice of Masses. The priests got into the spirit of things and so one year you could go to a medieval Latin Tridentine Mass or a Byzantine Rite, the rite of Saint John Chrysostom. I seem to remember there was a third Mass too but it was just a normal modern Mass and only squares went to that.

I went to the Byzantine Rite. I always remember the priest's vestments. They were a beautiful powder blue, trimmed with gold. He explained them all to us beforehand. That was a nice priest, you know? I was a lame-brained teenager and I was just sitting there like this...

(you knew that was coming...)

... but it was nice of him, to take our interest in medieval history into all these matters deep and religious. He also explained about the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom who, attention music scholars, was one of the saints Mozart was named after. Mozart was born on January 27 which is the feast of St. John Chrysostom and that is why his name was Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgang Gottlieb. Not Amadeus! He was baptized Gottlieb. Sorry everyone. Well, the good news is, it means the same thing.

All I remember of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom was there was one line that impressed me: "Oh, God, forgive me for I have sinned without number." I still think of that.

That line sure applied to me. I sure had sinned without number!

Here is a Polaroid I have held onto of me attending the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

Ah, Society for Creative Anachronism! One of the many things I did before I met Leonard Pennario and had to put aside childish things.

Ah, memories brought about by a night with a smoky smell in the air!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Out with the old

Today is a very important day in the calendar. Extremely important.

It is the feast day of St. Harvey!

OK, I am just kidding. Well, it is the feast day of St. Harvey. I just looked up which saints were today and he was one of them. Who knew there was a St. Harvey? I wonder what he is the patron saint of.

Perhaps the patron saint of rabbits.

Or Harvey Wallbangers.

Where was I?

The importance of today.

It is ... it is ...

... Large Trash Day!

Howard and I took out the box spring that has been upstairs forever, leaning against the highboy. That is a word I love, highboy! But I have mentioned that before.

We had to waltz this thing down the stairs, turning it this way and that. It was an adventure with trying to get it under the ceiling fan and around the landing and finally -- yay! -- out the door.

When you get out the door the adventure is only just beginning. That is because we live on a well-traveled street. Whenever you do a single thing there are inevitably cars lined up outside at the light, stereos pounding, drivers rubbernecking.

All the drivers are watching you take your large trash out to the curb, and trying to figure out where they know you from, and checking out what you are throwing out, and deciding whether they need it.

The best is when someone is throwing out a toilet.

Ha, ha! That is classic! But any item is worthy of note.

"We saw you taking your mattress out to the curb." Someone, somewhere, will tell me that today.

That is Buffalo!

On the bright side, it is rare that here it can be not even eight in the morning and already I have accomplished something. These household tasks, they kill you, you know? Here I am struggling to put every minute into Leonard Pennario and meanwhile that stupid box spring has just sat there, and sat there. And there is junk in the upstairs hall. And the bishop's weed shall inherit the garden.

Oh well. I always think of Christ saying, "The poor will always be there."

The house will always be there!

Luckily, now minus the box spring. With which, I just looked up St. Harvey and found he is responsible for many miracles.

My box spring out for Large Trash Day is now one of them!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It was a very good year

Howard is buying a plane that was made in 1822. A plane for woodworking, that is.

The year 1822! That thrills me!

That was the year Schubert wrote his "Wanderer" Fantasy.

Beethoven began his Ninth Symphony.

Beethoven also wrote his overture "The Consecration of the House."

And his great sonata Op. 111 which Leonard Pennario used to play but, alas, never recorded that I know of. Does anyone have a bootleg out there of Pennario playing Op. 111? If so please let me know.

We give you Claudio Arrau, an able, if pale, substitute.

Felix Mendelssohn was only 13 when Howard's plane was made but already he was writing great music. In 1822 he wrote his "Magnificat."

It was a noble year, 1822.

May the spirit of that year shine in Howard's woodworking.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

He's got chops

Buying that propane has made dinner more fun. It is fun to watch Howard grill!

There is something territorial about grills that makes men want to take them over. Normally with Howard, cooking is something that I never see him do. He has mentioned that he cooks pancakes, from a mix, when I am not around. But I have not personally seen that. I have never seen him betray any leaning toward cooking.

The grill changes all that!

Something prehistoric kicks in and there is Howard poised, barbecue fork in hand, over the leaping flames. His face is illuminated. He is taut and focused and competitive. Like Pennario at the piano.

Ah! The Ritual Fire Dance!

Everything has to be just so. The plates have to be in place. Napkins, check. Silverware, check. Side dishes have to be ready and on the plate so everything is ready by the time the meat is.

"I want the steak to sizzle when it hits your plate." That is what Howard said the other night.

I said, "Howard!"

We were laughing that here is how prehistoric man prepared his lunch, eons ago, and now it is this revelation to us, that isn't this wonderful, we can cook over open flames?

Above is a picture Howard took last night grilling pork chops. He put the picture on Facebook with the caption, "Grill Crazy." Ha, ha! A witty man indeed.

And a heck of a grill meister.

Those chops came out  yummy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My favorite saint

Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Anthony, patron saint of the perpetually disorganized and, hence, recurring theme on this Web log. Above is a picture of the great saint preaching to the fishes.

To think of all the lost things St. Anthony found in the last year just for me!

Chief of which was our tax papers.

But there is so much more.

I harp...

... about this a lot but I feel that as long as St. Anthony is doing all these wonderful things for me on a daily basis, I owe it to him to thank him.

Herewith we will give Leonard Pennario the day off and listen to Brahms' Variations on the St. Anthony Chorale. That is a beautiful theme! I love how on the "bridge" it goes up and down, like breathing. You inhale as it goes up and exhale as it goes down.

Oh, look, I see that video is the work of my YouTube buddy David Hertzberg. He posts all kinds of videos of the great pianists including Pennario. He uses as art just things from the record jackets and he does it beautifully. As in this quickie Brahms waltz. I find this so touching. That closeup on Pennario at the end.

Here I was going to give Pennario the day off.

I guess he goes to work on the feast of St. Anthony just like the rest of us! Which is OK. The way I see it St. Anthony is a working saint. He wants you to get out and get your work done and he intercedes to God to help us get over our work hurdles. That has been my experience anyway. He is here to help us in this world.

I would like to get a look at him in the next world, you know? I would just like to see what he looks like.

And say, "Hey, St. Anthony, remember those tax papers?


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Prince Philip the god

Since wishing Prince Philip a happy birthday I have learned that in certain circles he is a god! My friend Stephanie sent me the story which, all I can say is, you could not make this up.

It would be hilarious to hear what Prince Philip thinks of this. But I guess you can imagine.

A classic picture of the prince accompanies the story. He is arriving at a horse race with his granddaughter, Princess Beatrice, who is sporting a polka-dotted dress.

Above is a picture of the prince with Queen Elizabeth. I have to say this, the queen always looks pretty happy with him. Admittedly I am just a casual now-and-then onlooker but that is how it looks to me. She seems always to have loved him...

... even though the Queen Mother apparently didn't. That is the Queen Mum on the right, looking away!

Prince Philip is the longest-serving royal consort in England's history. The runner-up is George III's wife, Charlotte.

Another thought has struck me and then we will leave the matter of the royals for the time being.

At Budwey's yesterday buying Shur-Fine Diet White Birch Beer, there on a tabloid cover is the new princess, William's wife, what's her name, Kate Middleton. And a big story on what she was wearing.

I stopped for a moment from brooding about the slowly, insidiously, rising price of Shur-Fine diet pop -- did they think I would not notice, that it goes up 50 cents every week, for a 12-pack? -- and I thought for a moment about Kate and her fashions.

This is it for her, I thought. I hope she likes it.

Because guess what, this is her life!

I am not feeling sorry for her. As Howard said memorably once, about Princess Diana, "Whatever she went through, it can't have been worse than a job."

I am just saying.

The younger set of royals, they all just strike me as kind of dumb, I am sorry. Likable but dumb. You never hear them mention any classical music they like or any instrument they play or any poet. They are all about fashions and nightclubs.

I would bet Kate Middleton does not even know who Leonard Pennario is.

Now that I think of it I cannot think of one memorable thing that she has said.

Not like Prince Philip!

But then Prince Philip is a god.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The prince is giving a ball

Today is the day Prince Philip turns 90! We at the Leonard Pennario Web log, with our love of dapper and witty and politically incorrect older gentlemen, wish His Highness many happy returns.

This one site listed Prince Philip's "top 10 gaffes."

But as one Australian reader says:

"What gaffes? They're bloody hilarious. The man's a legend."

Someone from Brisbane writes:

"This is one guy I'm going to miss. Funniest Royal ever."

I guess this is an Australian site. Being a people with a good sense of humor the Australians seem to be in Prince Philip's corner.

The stories generally mention that Philip was born a Greek prince. No one ever mentions that he is, uh, German. I cannot recite his exact blood line but, I mean, just look at him.

People who are German, we run our mouths. I just looked up Prince Philip's birth name and it is, ahem, Prince Philip Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Gluckberg. There, who knew that? We do, as of now.

I do not agree with him on everything, I will say that. But I have to agree with these Australians and say I like him. He cracks me up.

You can read a ponderous but interesting essay about Prince Philip here.

You know you want them, so here are the Prince's top 10 ... let us call them one-liners. It is cribbed from the site up above, though similar lists are springing up all over the Internet. By the way about the first one, I read that he said it in Oban, Scotland. That is an important detail because Oban is known for its Scotch.

1. "How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?"
To a driving instructor in Scotland.

2. "If you stay here much longer, you'll all be slitty-eyed."
To a group of British students in China in 1986.

3. "Do you still throw spears at each other?"
To indigenous leader William Brin during a visit to the Aboriginal Cultural Park in Queensland, 2002.

4. "You look like you're ready for bed!"
To the President of Nigeria, who was wearing traditional robes.

5. "If it has four legs and is not a chair, has wings and is not an aeroplane, or swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it."
To a World Wildlife Fund meeting in 1986.

6. "You managed not to get eaten then?"
To a British student trekking in Papua New Guinea in 1998.

7. "Aren't most of you descended from pirates?"
To an inhabitant of the Cayman Islands.

8. "You are a woman, aren't you?"
To a Kenyan woman in 1984 after she gave him a present

9. "Do you know they're now producing eating dogs for the anorexics?"
To a blind, wheelchair-bound woman who was with her guide dog.

10. "It looks as though it was put in by an Indian."
Prince's verdict on a fuse box he noticed during a tour of a Scottish factory in 1999.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bright lights, big city

I am sorry I am late checking in for Thursday but I was out at Jocko. We had a wonderful evening that did not end until after midnight.

I will say one thing, I was overdue to get out of the house! All day I had been working. It was one of those days when you do not move from your chair for hours and hours. I was going to go to Zumba but the traffic for the Corporate Challenge made it impossible to get out of my driveway. So, more work, more sitting on my behind, more going over Leonard Pennario's life, more drinking Shur-Fine diet pop. Well, this is what I love!

Finally around 9 p.m. Howard called and he was at Jocko so I busted out of the driveway and joined him there.

Jocko had his groove back! He has been getting over a bug but now the bug is gone and after his gig ended we all sat around talking into the night. This was our friend Paul and our friend Diane and Howard and me and Jocko.

There was so much to talk about!

Elvis was in the building. That is the Elvis who is going to be at the Philharmonic tonight! His name is Kraig Parker. Howard had spotted a guy earlier who he was 99 percent sure was that Elvis. With sideburns, and everything! We think he is staying at the Hyatt and that was he.

Everyone sat around weighing our buddy Mark Croce's chances of success as he moves ahead with the nearby Statler Hotel. Has anyone else seen the flags Croce has hung outside the Statler? Suddenly it looks like a grand hotel again and that is thrilling. Go Buffalo!

Booze fueled local small-town gossip. Paul passed along a scurrilous story attributed to a reliable source he could not name, and then Diane did the same thing.

Both stories were countered with the others of us protesting, "That can't be true!"

"Reliable source!"

The Mayor ...

... stopped by our table and hung around for a while. He complimented me on how I looked without my braces. "You have a beautiful smile now," he said.

"Thank you!" I beamed. That is a most excellent thing in a mayor, when he notices you no longer have braces on your teeth.

Jocko asked the Mayor when his birthday was. The Mayor told him.

"Oh, you're a Libra," Jocko shrugged. Or whatever sign he is, I forget. "You don't have anything to worry about!"

Diane said: "I'm glad you stopped by. I need to ask you about that guy Johnson."

The Mayor looked blank. "The schools guy," Diane said.

"That's James Williams," I spoke up helpfully. We all know James Williams because he used to come in the lounge and his song was "Satin Doll."

"Williams. Whatever," Diane said, unembarrassable. She went on to give the Mayor a long and un-P.C. list of reasons why Williams was not up to the job. The Mayor said he had not appointed Williams but he listened patiently to her.

Diane then asked Mayor Brown if he was a Republican or a Democrat and when his term is up. He stood there handsome and dapper and patient, answering her questions. We all started clowning around and taking pictures.

After the Mayor left, or maybe before then, we got more wine and the talk turned to the police commissioner, H. McCarthy Gipson. Everyone knows him too and so he was ragged on, defended, ragged on, defended.

We got to ragging on past presidents starting with Harry Truman. Diane said there were good and bad things about every president. Jocko did not mind Truman other than that Truman had called him "Jacko" which can get on a person's nerves after a while.

And so the evening passed in the lounge.

A long and restorative evening!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The cartoonist's cartoonist

The Leonard Pennario Web log occasionally pays tribute to other people born in Buffalo and today we note the passing of Bill Rechin, the cartoonist who drew the immortal comic strip "Crock."

How I found out about this was totally an instance of, I could not get up out of my chair. I had eaten my oatmeal and the porch felt nice and I was sitting there drinking the last of my coffee and ... ah! The obituary page.

A lot of the time I do not bother but some of the time I do.

And there was this Bill Rechin. I am reading about his other strips, Pluribus and something else I did not remember, when, all of a sudden, "Crock"!

I remember "Crock"!

It is funny, I do not think I have ever written about it. We have written about Crock Pots but never about Crock! But "Crock" was a comic strip I used to love. It was about the Foreign Legion, a theme I was familiar with as a kid because of watching Laurel and Hardy movies -- a nerdy habit which later was to endear me to Leonard Pennario.

One thing I liked about "Crock" as a teenager was how mean it was. Rechin was always drawing guys with cannonballs in their stomachs. He did not pull punches as you can see by this illustration.

Also I was crazy about an off-and-on story line  involving the Lost Patrol, this group of guys perpetually wandering the world without a clue.

"Which way is east?" I remember one asked another once.

"It's the direction the sun comes up."

"Where does the sun come up?"

"I don't know but it used to come up by my window."

Ha, ha! I remember that one exchange. That is because my life sometimes reminds me of the Lost Patrol. Still, after all these years.

Reading up on it I see "Crock," like a lot of comic strips, was a team effort. One guy who wrote it died a couple of years ago. This Bill Rechin drew the pictures. Who knew he was from Buffalo? Why did this guy not get more local glory?

Bill Rechin went to St. Joe's as did a lot of fine men I know including my brother George.

Here is some inside-baseball cartoonist talk I cribbed from a cartoonist's site.

“He was a cartoonist’s cartoonist,” said Mell Lazarus, creator of “Momma” and “Miss Peach.”
Rechin’s signature is the giant nose. His unmistakable characters usually have sloping shoulders and drooping bellies.

Ha, ha! His signature was the giant nose. That is cartoonist talk for you.

Mell Lazarus is another cartoonist I love. But that is another subject for another day.

With luck, we will not have to wait until he dies!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What's cookin'?

You know how that one girl made this fortune by cooking her way through Julia Child's "The Art of French Cooking," and then Web logging about it?

I am going to make my fortune cooking through "400 Barbecues."

Admit it, that would be more exciting!

I bought "400 Barbecues" at a garage sale last week and it is worth its weight in gold which is, trust me, quite a bit of gold. This is a heavy book! It has barbecued octopus and barbecued red bean and tofu burgers and -- this is the greatest -- barbecued kangaroo.

"Kangaroo tastes like venison," it says.

Needless to say this book is printed in Australia.

Yesterday I went to the Gulf station on Colvin and bought propane. This was a big step. We were not only out of propane for Howard's Millennium grill but our last propane tank had been stolen, I forget from what property. Anyway, it cost me an arm and a leg to get a new one.

On top of the expense my debit card did not work for some reason or other.

"It was declined," the store clerk said.

I tried it again. It was declined again!

I raised my hands. "What can I say?" I declaimed. "God is telling me not to buy this propane."

This guy in line behind me burst out laughing. That was funny because it was this guy in his 20s buying beer. Normally we would have had nothing in common, the authorized biographer of Leonard Pennario and this little man out buying beer, I am sorry. But all of a sudden he was looking at me adoringly because I was in his universe. When you are in your 20s you are used to debit cards being declined.

Unfortunately the card went through again and was accepted, ruining our camaraderie.

The good news was, I went home with the propane. Howard hooked it up to his old Millennium. Then we sat and laughed because as Howard said, his grill looks like an old boiler.

Old boiler or not, I am on my way, cooking my way through "400 Barbecues."

Tonight I made New York Strip Steaks with artisan mustard barbecue sauce.

One barbecue down.

399 more to go!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Over the rainbow

Today I met Howard over at Office Despot, I mean Office Depot, to get some equipment I needed. Ha, ha! I take this seventh-grader delight in Howard's nicknames for office stores. There is Office Despot and Office Whorehouse. Ha, ha!


Anyway, what I was getting at was, I was reminded how much I love office stores. Here it was, a brilliant bright afternoon, and I am the only person in the whole world happy to be in an office store.

All the packaging!

They hit you when you come in with all these sparkly gizmos. There were fluorescent flashlights and rainbow-colored gel pens and sticky pads with flowers on the side. Everything for a buck or two. You could not make this place up.

Little plastic boxes of sparkly colored push pins and paper clips.

Magnets for your fridge. Little clips for papers. Round Zumba-colored calculator keychains that cost $1. And I loved this: Stylish file folders!

Imagine, I could organize all of Leonard Pennario's concerts stylishly from city to city and year to year.

Speaking of year to year, it is funny how so many things are cheap at office stores. However. However!

They still stick you ...


... ... for yearly planners. You know, those nice little books you can carry around with you with the year organized by months and weeks.

They should be cheap as heck. I mean, right next to them are notebooks just that size, not much different, and they are, oh, $2. But these yearly planners, it does not even matter that now it is June. They still want $10.99!


That is why I just walk around with my year in my head.

La la la la la la la.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

My book list

My mom and I went to the book sale today held by the, ahem, Association of University Women, something like that. It was at the old Park Edge Plaza on Sheridan. It was fun because books were only something like $1.

Here is some of what I bought.

1.) "Am I Too Loud?" This is the memoir of the great British pianist Gerald Moore which I have always wanted to read. That is Moore up above! Today we would call him an, ahem, collaborative pianist. He called himself an accompanist.

Should the spirit move you, and I hope it does, you can watch the incomparable Mr. Moore accompanying a baby-faced Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in a vintage "An Die Musik."


Where was I? Oh, right, my purchases at the book sale.

2.) A vintage cookbook on what to do with your Weber grill. We have a Weber grill at Big Blue! The book is rather rugged. There is one chapter on how to cook a whole pig in your Weber grill. I cannot see doing that, but still, this book is a classic, and I am glad I got it.

3.) A Rush Limbaugh book for Howard. Darn, it turns out he already has it. Win some, lose some!

4.) There was one book I actually went looking for specifically. There was a fiction table for authors with letters W-Z. And there it was, lo and behold, a nice cheap paperback of Evelyn Waugh, "Brideshead Revisited." I have been wanting to read this ever since I got more into my, ahem, Catholic faith. Because I have no time to read, I was looking for a nice cheap paperback I could read in bed or in the bathtub or wherever.

I never actually watched the famous TV series, by the way. I will be the only person in the world reading this book without having watched the TV show.

5.) David Dubal's "Evenings With Horowitz."  I have gotten this out from the library and read it before but now I own it. This book is fun. David Dubal is this pianist who made friends with old Horowitz and you just trail after him as he goes to Horowitz's house and hangs out with Horowitz and Wanda. Chapter after chapter passes and that is all that happens. Fine by me, I could read this kind of thing forever. In some ways it reminds me of my experience with Leonard Pennario but in other ways it does not. Pennario was just more fun, I am sorry.

I do not think Horowitz would have been able to do this.

Anyway, lots of reading in my future!

It might be 10 years until I get to it, but better late than never.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Weaving down memory lane

For my birthday Howard gave me...


We are sitting here drinking it.

It made me remember this night in Flagstaff. I was there with my brother George. We were driving cross country and we wound up at some Super 8 or something in Flagstaff. It was night and we looked out the window and there was this lurid neon sign in the darkness that read "The Desert Martini."

I actually remember the sign as more lurid than this picture. But perhaps it has grown in my memory.

In any case George said, "Let's see what's going on at the Martini."

With which we went into the night. We got to the Martini and sat down at the bar and got talking with locals and a gentleman, I remember, got me a shot of tequila.

George still laughs about it, how I suddenly sat up straight, anticipating that shot of tequila.

After drinking the tequila I took this snapshot of George dancing on the bar at the Desert Martini. It is not quite in focus but you can sort of make him out.

Just yesterday, how about this, I interviewed a conductor from Flagstaff! He conducted Gershwin's Concerto in F with Pennario as soloist. It was in 1971 but you do not forget an experience like that and so this maestro and I had a long conversation.

He asked me if I had been to Flagstaff and I said yes. I said I crashed a rental car in Flagstaff. Later I realized that was wrong, that I crashed the rental car in St. Louis, not Flagstaff. I wish I had remembered things correctly, that it was in Flagstaff that I drank the tequila at the Desert Martini.

I could have asked him if the Desert Martini is still there! Well, now we are friends and so I will email him and ask him.

Hmmm. I wonder if this is it. "No trip back home is complete without coming here!" That is what someone writes.

Our trip was not complete without the Desert Martini, that is for sure.

Flagstaff forever!