Sunday, July 31, 2011

Counting sheep

Great phrase from church today.

"In millibus agnorum pinguium."

That means:

"In thousands of fat lambs."

It was part of a verse that reads, in English, "As in holocausts of rams and bullocks, and as in thousands of fat lambs, so let our sacrifice be made in Thy sight this day...." It is from the Book of Daniel.

I'm sorry, after you read about thousands of fat lambs, you are good for nothing except fun and games. Here is a picture from 1935 of fat lambs being judged at a 4-H convention.

In other words it was one of those Sundays.

After Mass I went to Zumba at the Boulevard Mall and then I went to Jazz at the Albright to hear the saxophonist Don Rice with the Bobby Jones Trio. My friend Rimus joined me while I was waiting for my brother and my mom and my niece and nephew. When the family got there, little Barbara wanted to know who Rimus was, so I introduced them. Ha, ha! I told Howard, if I dropped dead tomorrow, my nieces and nephews would have the weirdest memories of me. I can see them all talking years hence: "Hey, remember that aunt we had, all she talked about was this old concert pianist named Leonard Pennario, and she used to like to drink wine, and we would see her picture in the paper, and every time we saw her she was with a different guy."

Barbara is fun because she is so adorable. I walked back to talk with these friends, these Philharmonic patrons, and it is funny because I have this enchanting little girl clinging to me.

Then we went home and ate jambalaya at my house. By this time little George Andrew, our 3-year-old, is starting to melt down. Whatever his sister does, he wants to do.

"Here, Barbara, can you carry these forks out on the porch?" That is what I ask Barbara.

And immediately Georgie is clamoring: "Give me a job! I want a job!"

"Here, George Andrew, carry these spoons out on the porch."

You always have to stay one step ahead of them.

Midnight and finally the house is quiet. And I have to get this written because here it is 11:57 p.m. and I only have three minutes if I am to get this posted and not miss another day.

It was a pleasure checking in today.

It was a long and eventful Sunday!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Torch song

Howard and I were fascinated by the story about a Buffalo car dealer accused of hiring arsonists to torch the Department of Motor Vehicles office on Dingens Street and also the personal car of one of the DMV's inspectors. And I guess he pulled it off! No one was hurt because the fire at the DMV happened on Christmas Eve when no one was there. The inspector's car was parked in front of his house.

No one appears to have gotten hurt, thank God for that.

With which, the big elephant-in-the-room question is:

What did the DMV do to this guy to push him this far?

It is not hard to imagine!

"You need to go to the back of the line."

"No, I'm sorry, we do not accept that form."

"This is the wrong line. The line you should be in is the one over there."

I know a thing or two myself about the DMV and the things it can do to drive a person crazy. Remember when I went to renew my driver's license? Hahahahaaa .... I was just reading over that. I had forgotten so many of the details! For instance, the woman who said she had been to the DMV a few days before that. "I was there for four hours and I never did make it through."

The woman saying to me, as we neared the window: "I'm excited. Isn't it stupid? But this is exciting, finally getting here." I am so glad I wrote that down!

Then the idea of Leonard Pennario writing: "Midnight at the DMV." That would have been one sinister piece! Virtuosic, no doubt, but sinister.

Also the comments, I am laughing at them. I had not realized I had gotten comments. My friend Larry talking about the DMV's in Virginia: "Here, they are ALL lazy, rude, inconsiderate, incompetent, mean, sadistic, egotistical, etc. slugs!"

Honest, I am not saying you should go around torching DMV's. But I could understand what made this guy want to do it.

It is bad enough just being a normal motorist and having to deal with the DMV. 

Imagine being in the car business!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Hello, world

Today at work at The Buffalo News I have to do live chat at noon. This is a first for me! It took me forever to decide what to wear. I will get mocked out no matter what so finally I just settled on a blue sleeveless top. I am also wearing a pink skirt I bought when I was in San Diego with Leonard Pennario. But you will not be able to see the skirt.

One trouble was, I have misplaced both strings of my, ahem, signature pearls. But I have an emergency double-strand string in the Vic's glove compartment so all is not lost.

Listen to me!

Ain't I just like a woman?

Here I am supposed to be talking about my live chat and instead I am talking about my clothes.

Anyway. For the live chat I am going to be appearing with our Arts Editor, Jeff Simon. He normally does this chat with Jeff Miers, the pop critic. They go on as the Jeffs. But Jeff Miers is on vacation and so Jeff Simon asked me to do it and I said yes.

If anyone asks a question of me please do not make it one that makes me look stupid, OK?

Ahahahaa... One friend, for my research on Leonard Pennario, sent me a recording of Pennario on live chat in Los Angeles. Well, it was not exactly live chat because this was before the computer, but they had him on the radio, and people called in to ask him questions.

And what happened was, his friends were calling in. You could tell. The very first question, about how many concertos were in his repertoire, I was listening and I said out loud, "Plant! That's a plant."

And Pennario called it! Out loud! He said, "Oh, I recognize that voice. It's Freddy Sheinwold, the bridge master. Hello, Freddy."

Next call, he said, "Oh, that's George, the head of the Santa Monica Symphony. Hello, George."

Ha, ha! Here these people thought they were helping, calling in. And Leonard would not let them remain anonymous.

Dear Leonard. He was the greatest.

Well, with our chat the questions are texted and so I cannot recognize voices.

I will have to recognize typing!

"That must be my brother George. He always misspells Saint-Saens. Hello, George." (I am just joking. George can probably spell Saint-Saens.)

"That must be my husband. He never can get that apostrophe straight. Hello, Howard."


Anyway, the chat starts at noon. Should the spirit move you, you may find it here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The usher from the black lagoon

You know that classic type, the grouchy volunteer usher? I just encountered a great specimen.

That is how I am trying to train myself to deal with annoying people. I am trying to think of them as specimens to be studied and savored. The clerk at the supermarket who checks out your purchases without ever meeting your eye. The girl in the locker room at the gym who says "like" seven times in one sentence.

The mean usher, in my extensive experience, is a volunteer, and over the age of 60, and female. They are everywhere, not just at the Philharmonic. One of the worst ones I encountered ever was at Shea's.

I will probably never top the unbelievable specimen I encountered at Artpark two --- aaaaiiiee, three -- years ago, the one who blocked my path and would not let me leave when the music was over. Wow, I cannot believe that was three years ago. Pennario had just died. I had braces on my teeth.

But tonight's usher was a classic all the same.

The Philharmonic was playing Tchaikovsky. My little brother George was with me. We were trying to bring in what I guess was contraband -- i.e., a box of crackers. George had the crackers in a plastic bag along with some leftover pasta with zucchini that he had filched from my fridge.

We were trying to enter the hall from the lawn when an usher blocked our path.

"You can't bring anything in," she said.

I am thinking, come on. Last time I walked in with a bottle of wine and two glasses and nobody stopped me. But you cannot mention that to the ushers. You do not want to antagonize them.

Never antagonize a volunteer! That goes for athletic events as well as for cultural events. They hold the power. Your best bet is to behave.

Luckily for George and me we are old hands at this. We actually enjoy it. We went around to another door and another usher and, dusting off skills we had not used in some years, we walked in.

Upon discussing it later, we realized it cheered us up.

It made us feel alive, to be smuggling something in!

Even if it was just crackers and pasta.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The restaurant at the end of the universe

Do you ever have a day when you have bad luck with restaurants? That happened to me yesterday.

My sister came over and we walked around Delaware Park and then we wanted to go somewhere and eat. First we thought of Santasiero's down by the river. It was such a beautiful, cool, breezy night.

Then we got to Santasiero's. How do you spell that name, anyway? The computer keeps questioning it. Then again I do not know why the computer would know the name Santasiero's. It does not know the name Pennario.

Anyway, at Santasiero's we had problems, No. 1 being that it was inside and air-conditioned and there are times when you do not want or need that, and No. 2 being that it did not take credit cards. You would not believe how much cash I had with me. I had $1!

So we thought we would go to the Swannie House. They have a patio. That was downtown but my sister said no problem. Surely there were good options closer. Now I am wishing I had thought of Mark Goldman's new place in Black Rock. But I have been having one of those weeks when I cannot think. I am underslept and I have what I think of as brain burn -- too many thoughts in your mind all at once.

Downtown we go. And what do you know, the Swannie's patio is playing host to a private party.

What in the world?? The bartender said it never happens, that this was the boss's daughter, something like that. Thanks, that and $2 will buy me a Genny Light.

Now we feel like the Flying Dutchman, wandering the world. Long story short, we wound up at Pearl Street. They have a patio there that is not too bad. Although, this is funny, Katie and I were joking that the view of the patio, with its brick, hanging plants and cast-iron railing, is prettier than the view from the patio, which is pretty much parking lots and cloverleafs.

No wonder going out to eat stresses me out! I was thinking about that.

First of all, in the summer, Buffalo does not have enough patios. Most places have no outdoor eating.

When they do have patios, everyone else in town has had the same idea to go there, and so you have to grovel and pray to get a seat.

When they do seat you -- well, maybe it is me, but the host or hostess almost inevitably shows me to the worst table. I do not know what it is! I always try to dress nice and look nice. I think they are under orders to try to fill up the worst tables first. Anyway I am always on edge about this. I expect a fight! And usually I get one.

All this hassle makes your own back porch look awfully attractive, you know?

Why didn't I just eat there? That is what I was thinking last night.

Oh well. Today is a new day.

Three whole new meals await me!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

'It cures everything'

Bargain alert!

There are great buys to be had right now -- some in Buffalo, some elsewhere as well.

At Tops, Carrington brand chamomile tea is $1 for 20 bags. Twenty bags!! It is not fancy Celestial Seasonings, but chamomile is chamomile. I bought two boxes and am going to go back for, oh, 150 more. I get a kick out of Tops. It is the only supermarket that survives from when I was a kid and though you have to know how to play them, they have great stuff.

It is worth it in itself just to use Tops' animated checkout. How entertaining is that? This robot talking to you: "Do you have any coupons?" Yessirree I do!

So, Buffalo Leonard Pennario fans, get to Tops, get that cheap chamomile tea which, as the Germans say, alles zutraut. It cures everything!

Another thing, CVS is giving away pens.

You go there and buy this big pack of ballpoints and they give you your money back as Extra Bucks. You will see the sign. Go find them.

Plus there are notebooks four for a dollar. Back to School is the greatest time of year! I am telling you.

Yesterday I picked up four of those notebooks just to luxuriate in them. I got home and picked out one with a bright green cover, and I opened it, picked up one of my free pens, and wrote:

"I will finish my book on Leonard Pennario in 2011."

There is nothing like getting something like that in writing! It works magic in your head, is what I think.

Then I turned over a new leaf -- literally I mean, and wrote "To Do." I started listing everything I had to do to tie up loose ends and pull this masterpiece together.

I made a cup of my cheap Carrington chamomile tea and slept like a stone and this morning I was up early and at it, checking things off.

Already the magic is working!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Joke! Joke!

Here is a joke. Bear with me. My brother George is always saying how much he hates "prepared jokes" and normally I agree. But still.

I heard this joke the other day and cannot stop laughing about it.

An old woman is sitting on the porch drinking a glass of wine with her husband. They are there for a long time, a-sittin' and a-rockin'.

And finally the old woman says:

"I think it's time I told you, I love you, and I cannot live without you."

The husband says:

"Is that you talking, or is it the wine?"

His wife says:

"It's me talking -- and I'm talking to the wine."


Is that me in 100 years or what?

Heck, is that me right now?

You would never believe where I got this joke.

It was in our church bulletin! It had the title "Lasting Companionship."

I have told the joke to about a dozen people and all of them, when they pick themselves up off the floor, say: "That was in your church bulletin?"

Yes indeedy! Unfortunately I happened to glance at it during Mass and that was the end of my concentration.

A toast to St. Anthony of Padua Church, always cool because it was the home church of Leonard Pennario.

Even cooler now that it has printed this joke in the bulletin.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Blue skies, smiling at me

I have been enjoying kvetching because of the heat but it is time to break for good news. Here is something you can do really fast and it is fun. List 10 things that you are happy about. But you must do it fast! Set an egg timer or something.


1. My checks arrived from M&T. After only maybe five business days! Miracles happen.

2. I have been in touch with this pianist who is planning to perform Leonard Pennario's "Midnight on the Cliffs" -- with orchestra! This is a major and challenging endeavor but I am doing what I can to help and I think he just might be able to pull it off. And not to give anything away just yet, but the performance is to be at a very nice venue. It is far but I will go. This is the greatest! I love when people love Leonard.

3. I hear that Mark Goldman's Black Rock bar is now open and has a fine selection of beers.

4. Most days this week I have been up before 7 a.m. Also I think I said the Rosary every day and it is not every week, trust me, that I can say that. And thirdly, I filled out my Lose It! app.

5. The publishing world is changing rapidly and it is all tremendously exciting. We live in an era of great writers of whom I am one.

6. I have this fab new Zumba bracelet. I have been wearing it to work every day.

7. I went to the Clinton-Bailey Market for the first time this year and the farmers said they missed me!

8. Four words, Jazz at the Albright.

9. My friend Gary is having a party.

10. I hear the chickadee.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Letter from the dark side

It is hot so we can continue to kvetch.

Yesterday I get a letter in the snail mail from the New York State Senate.

"Dear Ms. Kunz," it begins.

"You deserve a representative that takes your concerns directly to the State Capitol. This is what I have worked hard to do ..." 

It is from Senator Mark Grisanti.

Can you believe it??? 

Here is a snapshot Howard took of me reading Mark Grisanti's letter in disbelief.

First of all as a may I point out his odd grammar. Under normal circumstances it would be "who" and not "that." A representative is supposedly a person. A person is "who." "A representative who takes your concerns."

But whatever. Mark Grisanti is something less than a person anyway so in this case his grammar might be correct.

He wants to take my concerns to Albany. Please! 

He will have his little joke.

Whatever you think on whatever issue there is something about Mark Grisanti that everyone can share an across-the-board laugh about. He kept going on along the lines of "I am doing research." "I searched my soul." "I have been thinking." 

As if he had been elected because he was some kind of great...

... thinker.

Mr. Grisanti, we did not hire you with the misunderstanding that you were some brilliant mind like Aristotle or Plato, both pictured here ...

....or Leonardo da Vinci ....

You are, for your information, the guy on the next bar stool. We hired you because of how you said you would vote on certain things. That is how, ahem, democracy works. Then you go and flip after meeting with the big guy a couple of times, and maybe getting the airport or something named after you, who knows. 

Then -- just as I was beginning to forget about this, you know? after all, what's one more crooked politician? -- he has to rub it in by writing me this letter.  "Historic." "Transparent." "Nuanced." OK, I did not exactly see "nuanced" but you know it is in there somewhere.

The little weed winds up the letter by saying, "Please stop by my office and let me know what is on your mind."

A little late for that, honey.

Do not write to me again.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Slug ahoy

After my cooldown yesterday, today I turn up the heat! In my eagerness to share my thoughts on the Woody Allen movie ("Midnight in Paris") I forgot to write about slugs, schufts and oiks. That is a slug up above! Not that I ever forget what one looks like.

Here is my slug story for today.

My mother is very limited when it comes to movies. She will only go on the Dipson Theaters' Bargain Day which is Tuesday. I had trouble making it on Tuesday so I offered Wednesday instead.

"No," she said. "It's against my principles."

So, Tuesday, there we are, in the Vic, headed to the Amherst Theater for the 7 p.m. show. Enough with this "theatre" business, you know? The word is theater.

We get there and this woman behind the counter coolly informs us that the 7 p.m. show is canceled because there is a special screening.

My mother is acting as if the world is ending. "Oh, no," she is saying. "Oh, no."

This sort of thing has to happen to me when I am with my mother, you know? It happened once when I was with Pennario, too. A showing coolly canceled. And with minimal apologies, is what makes it worse. If they just sincerely apologized that helps you feel better.

The girl did tell us the movie was showing at Eastern Hills.

"What time?" I asked.

She said at 7:15.

OK, it's a straight shot out Main Street, we would just be a little bit late. Back into the heat, back into the Vic, and we got there just before the opening credits. On the bright side the classical station was playing one of my favorite Mozart piano concerto, No. 14.

But the experience got me thinking just how oblivious people are! Not me! I am different! When I answer my phone at the paper and someone has been transferred to me by mistake I always fall all over myself apologizing. I tell them I am the music critic. I ask, "Do you have any questions about Beethoven or Brahms?" Then I transfer them where they need to go and give them the number in case anything screws up.

As a matter of fact here is a picture someone recently took of me at my desk on the phone with a mistake caller.

I mean, be nice, you know? It is not as if my record is perfect but I try.

The other day I also was confronted with a slug at the bank. This is M&T where I keep most of my money. After making a transaction I thought to mention to the teller that I was out of checks for my checking account, and could I get new ones? She said no problem, talk to customer service on the way out.

No problem, right. That is another thing, everyone lies to you. Like the cop in Kenmore lied to me. And I am always so nice. Back to M&T. I go to the customer service counter. The customer service woman, cracking her gum and not meeting my eyes, snarled at me, "It'll be 18 business days."

I asked if they could give me any starter checks to tide me over. The answer was an unapologetic no. She cracked her gum again.

This is why I hate banking. I will do anything not to walk into a bank.

Oh well. I am listening to that music and it reminds me, when the going is tough, there is always Mozart.

There is always Leonard Pennario.

I need a fix.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Last night to get out of the heat my mom and I went to the movies. We saw "Midnight in Paris."

It was fun although I could have done without the comments on Tea Party conservatives of whom I am, ahem, one. But you expect this in movies. Movie makers are herd animals. There is no getting away from it. And in this movie it was pretty easy to ignore.

What I loved best about this movie were its Woody Allen phony intellectuals.

Woody Allen loves this type and he always has great people playing them. The movie has Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdam, I think her name is, as this engaged couple in Paris with her parents. And right off what happens is, in a restaurant, they run into this hilarious couple, Paul and, I forget his wife's name.

Rachel's character, Inez, idolizes this pair. "I used to have a crush on him in college," she tells Gil (Owen).

Then Paul and his wife just take over their vacation and invite them here and there. And you see Paul trying to correct the guide at Rodin's studio (I was there!) and gassing on at Monet's house (I was there too!), etc. That couple was my favorite thing in the movie. I could watch them all night.

Meanwhile Gil's girlfriend, Inez, keeps putting him down. "Why don't you be quiet? You might learn something." She never lets up. The un-subtlety is part of the fun. She is just this hilariously nasty Woody Allen character.

There is a great scene where her mother calls these chairs in a shop "a steal" for $22,000. When Gil hesitates, the mother shrugs and goes, "Cheap is cheap." My mom and I could not stop laughing about that.

It was fun seeing F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway and Cole Porter but the real fun were these phonies. I kept wanting to go back to them.

I was thinking -- I know, predictable! -- how much Leonard would have liked this movie. He would have gotten a kick out of it. We saw at least one Woody Allen movie together, "Cassandra's Dream." I still have the ticket in my wallet! I just ran across it the other day.

Ah, nostalgia!

Now, back into the heat.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Playing chicken

The James Beard Fireside Cook Book has already paid off!

Last night when the folks were over to dinner, I knew enough to grill the chicken breasts bone side down.

Last week I was grilling chicken breasts and following a stupid Cooking Light page that advised me to do this and that with them, but never said, duh, grill them with the bone side down. Ergo, I singed them.

Last night they came out great. Cooked perfectly, golden on top. Yay James Beard!

He said in his book to grill them like that and that is what I did.

Cooking Light continues its slide south, I hate to say. They persist in saying, on the cover, "90 (or however many) Recipes and Tips." As if there is no difference between a recipe and a tip.

And trying to sell you on expensive kitchen stuff.

And lecturing you on politically correct this and sustainable that. Look, just tell me how to cook, OK?

My life as Leonard Pennario's authorized  biographer leaves me no time to suffer fools. I am sorry.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Afternoon with kids

Today my little niece Barbara and my little nephew George Andrew went with me and my brother George (their dad) to Jazz at the Albright. The Latin jazz artist Wendell Rivera was playing.

That is Barbara pictured above! She is a living doll and there is something so great about girls her age, which is 5 or 6. She has this car seat. I was supposed to sit on the driveshaft in the back seat between her and George Andrew. They are both in their car seats.

Barbara got out of the car and waited for me to get into my middle spot. Instead I stopped and sat down in her car seat.

"This is great!" I said. "This is my seat! I love this seat! Thank you, Barbara!"

And Barbara gets all agitated and laughing: "No, Aunt Mary! That's my seat!"

"No, it's my seat!" I actually sat in it. Thank you, Zumba, for making my butt fit in a kid's car seat!

"Aunt Mary! Aunt Mary! It's my seat!"

Kids are so funny!!

So after that we had a great day. We were listening to Wendell Rivera at Jazz at the Albright and all these hip-looking people were up dancing. And Barbara goes: 

"Aunt Mary, want to dance?"

So we got up and danced. Barbara was the brave kid who broke the ice and soon we were joined by six or seven other little kids, some with their parents in tow. The kids all started dancing together and I was dancing by the side with one of the moms.

Then, crisis!

Not one crisis but two crises!

Crisis one: Barbara was joined by George Andrew and they got into a fight. Over me! Both of them wanted to dance with me. Georgie started pulling Barbara's dress and she started pulling his hair and there was this very embarrassing meltdown with me trying to separate them and all these people laughing.

Crisis two happened after Crisis One was resolved. Wendell Rivera, on stage a few feet away, made the mistake of inviting the kids up on stage. They all took to this idea. This one mom and I, we were nervous and tried to put them off. We kept saying, "Wait till Mr. Rivera starts his next song, and then maybe..."

Finally we relented and let them get up there. These 3- and 4- and 5-year olds. It was so funny. Immediately -- within seconds! -- the woman in charge of everything swoops down in. She was nice about it, but she let us know she couldn't have these kids on stage, liability issues, etc.

This mom I was standing with and I, we swung into action, scooping up toddlers -- ours, and other people's -- and getting them off the stage. I felt awful! Because that woman in charge, I had just talked to her on the phone this week, writing a story. Now here I am wrecking the show. I am apologizing all over the place. 

Then later I thought, well, maybe she doesn't know it was me. 

Why would she know it was me? It's not as if she sees me out a lot or anything. We just talked on the phone.

So I cling to this hope of anonymity.

After that we went back to my house and Barbara and Georgie helped make dinner. I taught them to use a salad spinner and they washed and dried the lettuce, fighting over who got to do what. Then they designed a salad. They decided they liked walnuts so walnuts should go in. They crumbled feta cheese. Barbara wore a beautiful vintage dress-up hostess apron I got at some garage sale and she wanted to take it home and I told her yes. We got Georgie into a crisp white Sorrento Cheese apron. It was too big for him but he insisted so we wrapped the belt around him several times. He looked like a little Italian chef! Too funny.

Why can't they stay like this forever, and not grow up to get tattoos and piercings, you know?

They will think I am uncool with my classical music and Latin Masses.

On the bright side by the time they are at the tattoos and piercings stage, my book on Leonard Pennario will be long out and it will have swept the world and been made into a big-budget movie. So there will be that.

Surely that will make me look cool!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fireside chat

Garage sale find o'the day: "The Fireside Cook Book," by James A. Beard.

It is not James Beard. It is James A. Beard!

Perhaps this was his first cookbook. It dates from 1949.

I started looking through it because it looked charming and I was struck by how useful the recipes seemed, and how simple and doable. Next I was struck by the old clippings from the bygone Courier-Express that someone had carefully tucked inside.

One was a column by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. The headline read, "Man Finds Strength In Weakness."

Then there is another clipping headlined: "Drug Abuse Called Escapism by Rabbi." It is an interview with Rabbi Samuel I. Porrath, of Temple Beth Israel in Niagara Falls. There is a photo of the good rabbi shaking hands with Governor Rockefeller.

I am going to keep these clippings neatly tucked inside "The Fireside Cook Book." Years from now my heirs will puzzle over them.

Was she a drug addict, they will wonder.

Did she know Rabbi Samuel I. Porrath?

Continuing to page through this treasure, I was struck also by the retro drawings in the book. That is one pictured above! It begins the "Vegetables" chapter. Charmed, I flipped to the front.

That was when I noticed it was by James Beard. Ahem, James A. Beard.

No wonder the recipes are so good! I have other books by The Author, many of which were garage sale finds. One I found recently was "Beard on Bread." A great title! Before that I had, already, "Beard on Pasta." These are books I use over and over.

My mother gave me "James Beard Entertains" and I have memorized whole paragraphs from it the way I have memorized Pennario's performances.

Above is the illustration that begins the "Vegetables" chapter. The script reads, "When beans are in flower/The fools are in power." That is the truth! Well, the fools are always in power.

Here is a typical page from "The Fireside Cook Book."

Isn't that illustration a hoot? Click on the page and you may read it and cook from it.

I have an, ahem, first edition but that is not saying much. The James Beard cookbook is a classic but from looking around the Internet I see that like the great Leonard Pennario vinyl records, it can be had for not much money. The best things are life might not be free but they sure tend to be inexpensive!

I paid $1.50. On Amazon you can find "The Fireside Cook Book" for 30 cents used, plus shipping which will run you another $5 or something.

Mighty good eating for the pennies it costs!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Moon over Buffalo

Last night I went to Artpark and it was a beautiful night with a full moon. My friend Lizzie went with me. Lizzie is a corrections officer and she was telling me that when there is a full moon the inmates go crazy.

That sounds like something out of "Carmen" but it is true! Well, a lot of things out of "Carmen" are true.

My Uncle James used to be in charge of the Psych Center, the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, and my dad said that Uncle James said that when there was a full moon they had to put on extra staff.

Pennario had a hilarious story about what a woman said to him once after he played Clair de Lune.

Perhaps there was a full moon then!

It is fun to wonder what exactly happens when the moon is full. It is a barometric pull, or a magnetic pull? On the other hand I do not actually want to know. Once I saw a book all about what actually happens when you hear a Beethoven symphony, the neurons that fire in your brain, things like that. I stayed well away from that book! Talk about ruining the pleasure for yourself. What if you went tonight to "Beethoven Rocks the Harbor" on the Buffalo waterfront? When you heard the Allegretto from the Seventh Symphony you would be thinking all about your neurons.

TMI, as our public officials in Buffalo like to say!

It is best to savor the mysteries of music and the moon.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The straight and narrow

Today I went piously to Pilates class. We do not worship Vishnu in Pilates class the way the yoga class did that I went to the other day.

This is what I love about Pilates.

Instead of worshiping Vishnu we worship the corkscrew!

Above is a picture of the Corkscrew pose. It is actually a killer. What you do is, you keep your legs straight and move them in circles like a corkscrew.

And people ask me why I love my Roman Catholic faith. Not only does the Church frown on yoga but have no problem with Zumba, it forbids you to worship Vishnu but allows you to worship the corkscrew.

O Great Corkscrew, I bow down! Well, I would, were I not flat on my back on my mat.

With luck you are doing the Corkscrew in an environment like the woman in the picture has. By which I mean, under a blue sky, at a spa, by a pool. Such was not my luck today, I admit that. But after sweating out the Corkscrew, the woman and the picture and I may both enjoy the same reward.

We may go and drink a bottle of wine! 

We have earned it! That is because the great corkscrew in the sky is smiling down on us.

I enjoy my reward with Pennario playing Chopin.

That third Prelude. Oooooh.

It goes great with wine!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The road to hell...

You know how I am not supposed to go to yoga classes? Now I can see why!

Yesterday I was at the gym doing Zumba at lunchtime. I am trying to go to the gym sometimes at lunch time so I can devote my mind to Pennario after work. Anyway, after the Zumba class there was a Pi-Yo class after it and it was only 45 minutes so. I thought, well, I am not allowed to do yoga, but most Pi-Yo classes I run across are mostly Pilates. I decided I would stay for it.

What a nasty class this was!

The teacher started out with this long routine involving squatting down so you were on your toes and your fingertips with, as she kept putting it, "your knees in your armpits." Try it. See what it is like. At first it is not too bad but after, say, 30 seconds, you have had it. We were like this forever. From time to time you were supposed to lift one or the other of your feet.

Ow ow ow ow ow! All around me were the sounds of unpleasantness. Grunting, groaning, as everyone submitted to this torture. The teacher was walking around, correcting people. The minutes stretched.

Finally I thought: You know what? Enough of this. I collapsed on my mat and just sat there and waited for this portion of the program to be over.

I was not the only one, either! I looked around and there was this guy nearby just lying on his mat. He was not even going through the pretense of sitting!

The one thing was, the teacher looked great, so I wanted to do what she was doing. Other than that I would have left. So I stayed, and I sweated it out.


Ow ow ow ow ow!

But then luckily for me ....

She uttered the name of Vishnu.

It was part of a longer word but I caught it.

Prudently I left the class.

Religious rules are there for a reason!

Monday, July 11, 2011

For the man who has everything

Wow, my weekend was packed! My weekend was a lot of work. I am glad it is the week!

I greet Monday morning with a smile and a song!

Just yesterday, I was running absolutely all day. What happened to Sunday being the day of rest, you know? 

The good news was, on Saturday morning I stole a few hours for the book and three chapters I had been struggling with fell into place, boom boom boom. It is amazing what two hours can do if you can scrounge them. On Saturday I even skipped Zumba. Well, I am not sure there was Zumba to skip. All our instructors went to a convention this weekend and so the classes have gone to hell. Friday my class was canceled without notice. Well, without notice to me, anyway. Fie on Zumba, fie!

But back to my Saturday. Saturday afternoon when I took my mom around to garage sales I nailed two treasures for Howard.

One was Bowling Alley Paste. I paid I think 50 cents for this can and I think two thirds of the stuff was still there. Howard had it open and was feeling it and smelling it. He had me do the same. it smelled strong and old. You can use this stuff on any kind of wooden surfaces. 

I knew I could find a picture of this stuff and sure enough.

The other treasure I found was Simonize car wax, pictured above. It was so old that the address on the can was listed as Chicago 16. Probably it dates from the glory years of the 1950s. When Pennario was recording for Capitol.

Howard knew about the car wax. He was excited about it. He said he was going to go Simonize one of his old cars.

I am lucky I have a husband who is so easy to buy for!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Haunted by a hippo

A steamy, sultry day! And Pennario's birthday on top of that.

I worked on the book all morning and it went swimmingly, to use a summer adjective I love. It is coming into shape! I will keep you posted. After that I ran to Tops for my mom. It was like being a kid when I always had to run to Tops for my mom. Then we hit a few garage sales.

My mom had to restrain me from buying this flashlight I loved. It was a plastic hippopotamus and when you pressed on a lever, the hippo made a comic groaning sound,  and then its mouth opened and the flashlight was inside.

That is it up above! I actually found a picture of it.

But zut alors, my mom worried, rightfully I guess, about how many batteries it took.

And I desisted.

Now I regret it!

I bought other treasures including a variety of pie plates and a pastry blender and a beautiful chafing dish. A copper chafing dish, for ... you would not believe this ... 50 cents. Ha, ha! No bargaining there. I will pay that price!

But the hippo haunts me. Never not buy something you like, is the moral of this story.

You will regret it!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sage advice

Yikes, I fell off the Web log wagon!

When you fall off the Web log wagon it is hard to climb back on. Things collect that you want to explore in print and there are too many to choose from and it gets overwhelming. If you skip just one day it begins to collect.

So... as Oprah would put it, "What is going on??"

Imagine me sitting on the couch being asked that on her show.

For one thing I am the person in my colleague Susan Martin's column today with the sage plant being stifled in the car trunk.

As I said in her column, hijacked for my purposes, the sage plant survived. I soared like an eagle and actually planted it! I pulled up bishop's weed so there was enough room. The bishop's weed is not hard to pull up but the trouble is, it comes back. So every few days I have been pulling it up again.

It is a war I will ultimately lose. But still, it makes me feel as if a little sliver of the garden is under my control. Also I do have this sage plant which is not dead yet. To reward myself I went and got a basil plant. It is not in the dirt yet but today I think I can get it in there.

I will then have an herb garden!

If you have two herbs that is an herb garden.

And the beauty of an herb garden is, it is never too late to add to it. It is probably too late to put in tomato plants or anything else but I can continue to add herbs. On a conservative basis of course. Every time I actually plant one, after that I am allowed to get another one and plant it.

The great thing about sage, and the reason I planted it first, was because it can last through the winter. I used to have a sage plant. I used to have a lot of plants! I do not know what happened, only that everything died.

But my sage plant, I remember digging for it in the snow and it was there! That is a wonderful feeling, in the middle of winter, to have fresh herbs from your garden! And sage is delicious on pumpkin and squash.

BLP ... Before Leonard Pennario ... I used to do a lot of gardening. Well, I will not lie and say I was any great shakes at it. But I used to give it the old college try. That was before I started writing this book which, I feel sometimes like an ant climbing a mountain.

On the bright side, if my garden is a mess now, at least I have a darn good excuse!