I am thinking of trying a new gym class called "ABC." In addition to Zumba, not replacing it.
Yesterday I was at lunch time Zumba at the downtown, ahem, Buffalo Athletic Club. And when it was over I ran into my Pilates teacher, Jim. Remember Jim? I ran into him at Founding Fathers that time.
For a long time I was not taking his class because it is hard to get away from the office at noon time, partly because I have been so carried away by Zumba. But I have managed to get back to it a few times recently. It is funny because in something like two years absolutely nothing has changed. Except one thing, whereas Jim used to talk a lot about Joseph Pilates now he calls him simply Joseph.
They are on familiar terms!
And so am I with my Pilates teacher, Jim.
Yesterday I was in my Zumba outfit which, in yesterday's case, were bright turquoise pants and a black and pink tank top. Jim could not stop laughing at me.
"What is this, Mary?" he was teasing me. "Your shirt says 'Zumba'! And those are Zumba pants! With pockets! Your pants have pockets! What's in the pockets? Credit cards? Do you have a Zumba credit card?" He shoved his hand into one of the pockets. I was giggling like a four-year-old.
But anyway, Jim was telling me about this ABC class. Apparently it is this real challenge which, you know me, as the biographer of Leonard Pennario I have sure demonstrated that I like a challenge. Jim says that by the end of ABC class there is a foot of sweat on the floor. How is that for an image? And he says people are lying around dead.
He does not teach the class. He takes it as a student. Jim is in great shape so for him to call it a challenge is a real compliment. Especially since the class appears to be only a half hour long!
Here is the description of ABC:
“ABC – Absolute Body Conditioning is a class for everyone. This class will help you tone , tighten and strengthen. ABC combines traditional sculpt with cardio intervals and athletic drills and uses all types of equipment to maximize your workout and increase your level of fitness.”
Today is the Feast of St. Wenceslaus! Every day an email bounces up into my inbox to tell me whose saint's day it is. That is St. Wenceslaus up above looking over Prague. He is the patron saint of the Czech Republic.
Now all day I am going to have "Good King Wenceslas" on my brain.
St. Wenceslaus was born in Prague. But I get the idea "Good King Wenceslas" is an Irish song. The Irish Rovers do a good version.
There is a joke someone wrote on that video.
"How does St. Wenceslas order his pizza?
"Deep pan, crisp and even."
Ha, ha! Pennario would have loved that joke. He loved puns.
How adorable is this?
I am reading up on St. Wenceslaus and I see he was murdered by his brother, Boluslaw. He is supposed to inspire Catholics to political activism. Haha, that would go over big in Buffalo, if I got into political activism! Variants of Wenceslaus' name are Vaceslav and Vaclav. He is the patron saint of the Czech Republic, hence Vaclav Havel.
St. Wenceslaus died in 935 in a place with a wonderful name, Alt-Bunzlau. On Sept. 28. That is today! Saints' days are often the day the saint died. His body was hacked to pieces but three years later his brother repented and moved the body to Prague's Church of St. Vitus. If you are ever in Prague you must take that opportunity to visit St. Wenceslaus' relics and pay your respects.
The Feast of St. Wenceslaus sounds to me as good a reason to start the Christmas season.
A good way to kick it off would be to open a beer! Besides being the patron saint of the Czech Republic, St. Wenceslaus is a patron saint of brewers.
Today after work I stopped by to see my mom and on the way I decided to stop by the liquor store I always go to. This is the liquor store where I like to by the Tisdale wine. Remember Tisdale? That is not the liquor store pictured above by the way. I wanted a picture and so I used that. Is that the coolest sign ever or what?
But back to what happened today. I head on over there and the liquor store is gone!
It is boarded up!
It turns out that is the liquor store that, someone drove through its front window last week.
We had all those situations of people driving through windows by mistake and this was the liquor store that happened to. I had not realized it was this store! Whoever told me about it said, "Harlem and Kensington," not "Kensington and Harlem." The liquor store is on Kensington and if I had heard that, I would have known.
As it was, I was sitting there thinking, Harlem and Kensington? How could there be a liquor store at Harlem and Kensington I did not know about?
Anyway, I feel bad about this little liquor store. We do not think it will reopen. It was never a very big business and I and my Tisdale are not about to make anyone rich.
At first I heard no one was hurt. I figured that was because the Irishwoman who owned the liquor store normally sat in the back, eating her dinner or doing whatever. She would go into the front when there were customers.Now I am looking up the story, which somehow I missed when it ran, and I see the owner was hurt. So was a customer, though the customer was treated at the scene.
What a shock! You never think you will get hurt standing at a counter. That liquor store owner and I were always standing at the front counter, gabbing. She would always ask me how my book was going and I always liked that about her even though I was never sure she knew who Leonard Pennario was.
She has a thick brogue and was fun to listen to. She and I were up there in the front yakking the day that Congressman Chris Lee resigned because of the shirtless photo...
... on Craigslist. Another customer came into the store and told us about it. I did not know him but he knew all about the situation and filled us in. I remember he had just been on the phone with the local head of the Republican Party. That is so Buffalo, strangers talking to each other. We were all distraught.
Now I am distraught learning what happened!
Wasn't that crazy last week? There was that tragic situation with the car crashing into that cheeseburger restaurant, with the two people killed. Terrible to think about. Then there was the Family Dollar where the lady who crashed into it supposedly went next door to eat afterwards. When they approached her about it in the restaurant she said, "Get out of here!"
And in between those two places was dear little Kenwin Liquors.
It was as if half the drivers in Buffalo lost their compass!
Yikes, I have been away from my post for a week! I do not know what happened. Well, yes I do. Tons of stuff, is what happened in addition to as usual working away at the Pennario project. This week was busy mostly on account of my job.
That is us up above! Howard took that picture. I love the look on his face compared with the look on mine. The reason I am laughing is, I did not know he was taking a picture of me. I thought the camera was facing the other way and he was taking a picture of these people a couple of rows down. Ha, ha! I guess the joke was on me!
Before that I went to Oktoberfest at the Central Terminal. What else do you do before you go hear "Carmina Burana"? Surely Carl Orff, who wrote it, was smiling down.
After "Carmina Burana" Howard and I played the piano for each other. Howard was playing jazz numbers and kept working in the riff from "O Fortuna" which, admit it, is kind of catchy. Last week I wrote a story on Carl Orff and it was fun exploring how Orff would use rhythm. He could take just a few notes and do ingenious things with them.
Later I sat down and started playing Brahms and Schubert.
Tonight was the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame Awards. Our friend Shane, Brother Shane was being honored and it made Howard and me happy and proud to sit with him at his table.
At the top of this post is Shane on the video screen making his acceptance speech. It was an insane speech, wonderful. It started out slow and then built, and built. Like Mark Antony's funeral oration in "Julius Caesar."
Like Pennario playing the mighty Toccata from Ravel's "Le Tombeau de Couperin."
Where was I? Back to the Broadcasting Awards. Here is a picture Howard took of me at the table. That is where I usually am, at the table!
I kept thinking about when Pennario came home to Buffalo to accept an award from the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, which was when I met him, yikes, four years ago. There were some similarities between the two situations. I was remembering Pennario making his speech. Luckily Pennario was not knocking back shots of tequila and disappearing every two seconds, which was what Shane was doing. We were getting so nervous! We kept worrying that Shane would be missing in action when it was time to make his speech.
But like Shane, Pennario was kind of nervous and needed a couple of moments alone to get his thoughts together, moments I did not hesitate to interrupt him during. Haha, luckily he did not get mad. I might not be writing this book if he had gotten mad.
Shane, Brother Shane is not exactly from Buffalo but he spent most of his life here. He was extremely popular up and down the Eastern seaboard.
It is strange but kind of sweet how these people who are used to being listened to by millions can get nervous when it comes time to make a little speech in Buffalo.
We went to Bonefish Grill. That is a picture up above of Stephen unwinding at Bonefish Grill. Howard took the picture and I cribbed it off of his Facebook page. That is a haunting picture, you know? Stephen should use it on the cover of his next album.
I had never been to the Bonefish before and I found it good! What put me off was the name. They have this bony fish skeleton ...
... and all I can think is a bony fish and fishbones getting stuck in your throat. That happened to me once when I was a kid. In modern times I would have probably be rushed to the emergency room but at the time my parents said, "Oh, you have a fishbone stuck in your throat? It'll work its way out."
Sure enough it did. But I never did quite forget about it.
I spent a few hours having to swallow around that fish bone!
Luckily I ingested no fish bones at the Bonefish. Actually, all I ingested was red wine. That is one way to get around swallowing a fish bone.
Another thing I like about the Bonefish is, it styles itself Grill, not Grille. I hate when restaurants tack that extra "e" on the end which makes it like a car grille.
On the way to the Bonefish Grill, out in Amherst where I do not wind up all that often, we passed all these interesting-looking places. Joe's Crab Shack, I want to go there even if it is a chain. Kyoto Steakhouse.
It reminds me of where I lived when I was in San Diego with Leonard Pennario. There were all these chains in the part of town where we were. California Pizza Kitchen. Jamba Juice. Coldstone Creamery. All these places bring back memories.
My piano teacher, Stephen Manes, is in town and last night we went to Oliver's. At first our plans were to go to Gabriel's Gate but then at the last minute Howard changed our course.
I called Stephen. "Stephen," I said. "Howard wants to take us to Oliver's and I do not think we should argue."
We did not! There we are up above, not arguing. That is me in the middle and Stephen on the right and Howard on the left. Howard keeps laughing about that picture and he got me laughing about it. He said, "I look like some guy on the way to the men's room."
At Oliver's I was thinking how way leads on to way and how funny it is that when I was a college kid cutting classes, being a loser, following an ignorant agenda, there was no way I would have imagined that a couple decades from then, I would be sitting with my piano teacher at Oliver's, celebrating our shared love of red wine. Isn't that a great phrase, "following an ignorant agenda"? I got that from an interview I heard once with Branford Marsalis, the saxophone player. Branford talked about when he was being a kid and a jerk and he said, "I was following an ignorant agenda." I loved that! You are being a moron but at the same time you are being a moron with purpose.
Anyway, back when I was following an ignorant agenda I had no idea I would one day be friend with Stephen Manes.
Or that I would have bagged this nice husband like Howard. How in the world did that happen?
Life sneaks up and surprises you!
Now to the big question, what did we eat. I am a herd animal and I followed Stephen. He ordered a seafood chowder and I did too. Then he ordered the heirloom tomato salad and I did too. No one will ever accuse Oliver's of giving you huge portions. You do not go home guilty! They do not stuff you like at E.B. Green's where you go home groaning.
It is like the musical "Oliver!" "Please, sir, can I have some more?"
Ha, ha! I could not resist that. But seriously I have to say, the food was delicious, and it went the distance. I did not go to bed hungry even though you know me, I am used to eating like an ox. Plus we loved the ambience. No one annoyed us. That is a rare thing to be able to say when you are out in a restaurant!
Howard got some lobster thingie. And I loved Stephen for siding with me in the argument of whether lobster tail was actually part of a lobster, or a different animal. For years Howard has tried to tell me it is from a different creature. Stephen said I am right and it is actual lobster. Yay me! I am right!
One more thing, they have half-price bottles of wine on Sundays at Oliver's, who knew? No wonder the dining room was crowded. This was funny, I asked the waiter if the crowd was because of the half-price wine. I liked how he did not go so far as to say yes, it was.
Suddenly there is football and it is autumn! Today there was this long silence all afternoon while I cleaned my house and tended to Leonard Pennario business. And the rest of the city watched the Bills.
You can go out in the street and there is nobody there! And it is a great time to go to Wegmans.
When the Bills won you knew without watching because it is in the air. The guy next door roared, "Buffalo!" at the top of his lungs. Car horns blasted.
Let's go, Buffalo!!! Yay us!! We beat the Oakland Raiders. "The hated Oakland Raiders," as the paper put it.
I love these Sundays! This gets the fall off to a good start.
Here is what does not get the fall off to a good start. I stopped by the downtown library the other day, and what was in the entrance way but a display of Halloween books for kids. There were all these books on Wicca and Tarot cards and how-to books on witchcraft.
Zut alors and ick!!
Tarot cards give me the creeps.
I do not even want those pictures on my Web log! Tomorrow I will take them down. But for now I just want to illustrate what I mean.
Plus isn't it funny how it is allowed to promote certain religions but not others? I do not see the library promoting my religion. Why not ...
On the bright side it is the fall eating season. And time to make fruitcakes. If you play your cards right (NOT your Tarot cards) and get started now you can have yummy fruitcakes on your holiday table in December.
Today I went to the Clinton-Bailey Market in my Zumba clothes because I forgot my sandals and so could not change into the dress I had brought along. Ha, ha! I looked like a Moroccan, running around in my pink and purple.
As a mental exercise I am going to try to tally up everything I bought. Let me think.
2 cucumbers, $1.
Big thing o' tomatoes, $5.
Use 'em or lose 'em peppers, $4. I was good and used up all the peppers I bought last time I did this. So as a reward I let myself buy more.
Corn, 12 ears for $3. That is a term I love, an ear of corn. Is there anything else there is an ear of? I think not.
So far we are up to $13. Oh! I bought a big cantaloupe for $1. Now it is $14.
I know I bought other stuff. Let me continue to think.
Concord grapes: $2 for a quart.
I ate most of that quart of grapes because I had forgotten to eat breakfast, plus they were so good and so sweet. So I had to buy another quart, and that is another $2.
Gala apples, huge basket for $2. It is a beautiful apple, the Gala apple, flushed with pink.
Leonard Pennario used to play the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra gala, back when Josef Krips was conductor. And you wondered how Pennario would figure in this post. That is how.
Back to my market haul. Did I forget anything? I think that is it.
Plus my brother George dropped off peaches and cider. I have made peach chutney.
Yesterday Howard played a gig at the Statler. It was the first payoff he got from his successful efforts to find the old hotel a buyer. He got to play a cocktail party for Business First.
That was Howard's hope when he saved the Statler, that he would be able to play there!
Business First is a business newspaper and they were giving out the Brick By Brick Awards. People were walking out carrying bricks.
That is Howard up above playing his gig. He is the Leonard Pennario of the Statler! What I like about the picture is how it makes him look like a cardboard cutout. As if he is just faking playing the Statler. But he was not. He was there! But I was not. I was at Parings Wine Bar with my mom. The picture was taken by his friend Zbigniew Bielinski.
The good side of that is, I get to mention someone named Zbigniew on my Web log. That makes me feel cool.
Will someone please tell me if this week is over yet??
It has just been so long!
The other day I walked out of work and I am afraid I was kind of shopworn because I went to Budwey's to do shopping for my mom and the checkout girl asked me, "Do you have Wik?" At least I think that is how it is spelled. I know that is how it is pronounced.
"Wik?" I said. "What's that?"
She looked kind of awkward and said: "It's basically free food for pregnant women."
I said, "What, do I look pregnant?"
Then she got flustered and said something about well, it's also good for women with kids one year old or maybe two years old.
Hahahahaaa! I was not really mad. I had just been to Zumba. I just thought it was funny. I was thinking: this has really been one long day! For me and for her.
The girl and I then launched into a conversation, this being Buffalo where strangers discuss things, about her school situation. She had failed her senior year of high school and was repeating it and after that she was going to go get her LPN. I said, "Stick with it. You got to get through it. I hated school so I understand if you hate it but you have to get through it."
You do not get to be the biographer of Leonard Pennario by dropping out of school.
Anyway, I walked out of Budwey's smiling because the whole situation was just so absurd. When I went to my mom's I told her about how I had been mistaken for a pregnant welfare mom.
My mom told me the girl was ridiculous. She said, "You don't stick out in the right places."
Hahahaaa! My mother always knows the best way to put things.
My friend Jerry left a comment. "I know the owner," he wrote.
Privately he wrote to me a note saying that I had bought the missal most likely from his garage sale a couple of months ago. Ha, ha! I remember that garage sale. Jerry is great. As my mom and I were approaching his driveway he came running out yelling, "No more Leonard Pennario stuff! We sold it all!"
Jerry also has this unusual talent. He can do the best imitations of the guys who used to be in the underwear ads for Kleinhans, the old Buffalo men's clothes store. His wife made him do his imitation for me. It is classic! Jerry points out that the models were always pointing at something. He was there in his garage striking these poses and we were all cracking up. Hahahaa!
But back to this missal.
Jerry wrote to me that it had belonged to his uncle and he had not looked at it closely enough when he sold it to me. He said it would be useful for family genealogy. It sounded as if he regretted having sold it.
I started feeling all guilty for having snapped this thing up. Maybe I should give it back to him, I said to Howard. At least maybe I could give him some of the holy cards.
"No!" Howard said. "I'll tell you what you should do!"
Howard said I should tell Jerry, "I want to see you at Latin Mass, at St. Anthony's, every week, for two years!" Actually he said four years. I am giving Jerry a break here.
I wish I could remember the rest of Howard's speech. It went on and on. I was laughing too hard to retain it. But the reasoning is, only after attending Mass in the Extraordinary Form, to use its proper title, and by protracted exploration of this intricate and confounding and true and beautiful faith would Jerry begin to realize the worth of this missal which, as we have discovered, goes far beyond family history. As the poet Goethe wrote:
That which thy fathers have bequeathed to thee Earn it anew, if thou wouldst possess it.
I got that quote from "The Joy of Cooking." It is the opening quote!
Anyway as Howard said, and he is right, that would be the way for Jerry to honor his uncle. My guess is that the uncle wants him to do this. Jerry says his uncle was always praying for everyone in the family.
So anyway, Jerry, out there in Blog-O-Land, I am at St. Anthony's every Sunday at 9 a.m., usually on the right near the front.
Today I was at Mass and there was this gentleman sitting behind me. He always sits behind me. I do not know who he is but he always comes to church by himself and that is the pew he sits in.
I took it into my head that maybe I should bring this guy a missal, a prayer book. Because when I was new at the Latin Mass someone, an anonymous benefactor, gave me a missal. My life, welcome to it! Other people's lives are boring. But mine, I am the biographer of Leonard Pennario so my life is not normal. I have anonymous benefactors.
Anyway, I get to thinking, this man of mystery behind me, he does not have a missal, and maybe he should have one. So I thought of this missal I bought at a garage sale a few weeks ago. I spent maybe $2 on it. I like to buy things like this up when I see them because I want them in good hands.
I go home and I start chattering to Howard about my plan to give this guy, this stranger, this missal. And I find where it is on my dresser. And I opened it up and I looked at it closely for the first time.
This missal is unbelievable!
It is copyright 1951, with the imprimatur by Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York. It says on the cover "Saint Mary, My Everyday Missal." That is nothing special, probably, but what is special is how the person who had this book treated it.
The missal appears to have belonged to someone who cared deeply about the faith and worked on it passionately over years and years. There are holy cards between the pages. The owner might have been Italian. Some of the cards are from the Maggadino Funeral Home in Niagara Falls. But that is only part of it. There are little typewritten notes slipped between the pages. There are tiny yellowed newspaper clippings.
On the inside front cover is taped a tiny clipping reading: "The Blessing of St. Anthony is well worth memorizing, and repeating in time of temptation. It works like an exorcism against the devil."
There follows the prayer, which I have to say is new to me:
"Behold the Cross of the Lord!
Begone, ye enemy powers!
The Lion of the Tribe of Juda,
The Root of David, has conquered.
I had never heard that prayer but I will tell you this, I said it as soon as I read that.
There followed a blank page. I turned it over. On the next page was written in pencil, in an old-fashioned handwriting:
"Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!" "O God come to my assistance! O Lord make haste to help me!"
This felt like a Nancy Drew mystery. I turned the page and on the next page was old-fashioned writing in a fountain pen. This broke my heart. The person had written:
"Too late have I known Thee; too late have I loved Thee; O Beauty ever ancient and ever new."
"Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord; and our hearts will never rest untill they rest in Thee." St. Augustine.
What a haunting and beautiful quote. The two l's in "until" are as they are written. I honestly got choked up. I thought: whoever this person is, he (or she) now rests in Thee. Well, you have to figure.
The next few pages are covered in tiny fountain-pen writing. The missal's owner has written out Psalm 50: "David prays for the remission of his sins, for perfect sanctity," it starts. The psalm follows: "Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy. ... For I know my iniquity, and my Sin is always before me. ... For behold, I was conceived in iniquities: & in sins did my mother conceive me..."
It is beautiful handwriting. It is tiny but precise. There is not one cross-out on the page. I should take a picture. And the phrasing is so old-fashioned: "Create a clean heart in me, O God; & renew a right spirit within my bowels." That is sure not phrasing you hear very often!
On the next page, another whole page of this precise ink script. It ends: "Look down, we beseech thee, O Lord, upon this thy family for which our Lord Jesus Christ did not hesitate to be betrayed into the hands of the wicked and suffer the torments of the Cross..."
This is incredible! All through the book are penciled notes: "Christ is called the desire of nations," is written on one Sunday. On Good Friday, where it says, "to His passion's deathly throes," the person has underlined "throes" and written: "the agony of death." Some of the pages have ancient Scotch tape.
On August 7 (St. Cajetan, Confessor) I found an ancient sheet of paper folded in thirds and covered in Latin, written in fountain pen. I recognize some of the lines. I wonder if maybe the person served Mass and this was a cheat sheet. It is just a guess.
There is a holy card inscribed to someone in 1928. And a narrow strip of paper with lines written on an old typewriter. "Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus, Christus imperat."
Fascinating. Oh, and this is strange: There is a newspaper clipping about how you baptize a fetus, in case of miscarriage. The newspaper does not treat this as anything strange or morbid. There is even a jocular kind of type font over the headline, reading "What they ask us...."
You know what, I am starting to wonder if this missal was owned by a priest. It seems to have a lot of notes written in it, notes on the saints, the feast days. There is one note about what to do if you are celebrating the second or third Mass of the day.
Well, one thing is for certain. I think this book is a keeper. Howard says you cannot give it to just anyone and I agree! I want to keep this, this prayer book owned by someone who loved it so much. I want to take it to church and pray out of it.
That mystery man at church will just have to wait.
Yesterday I finally, after a week away from it, got to go to Zumba.
What a relief that was!
You do not realize how much you need exercise until you have to go without it.
This week was a mess. There was Howard's birthday and then there was Labor Day weekend. Over Labor Day weekend the gym I go to, the Buffalo Athletic Club, saw fit to scramble all their schedules and move all their classes around. There were virtually no Zumba classes on the holiday itself and on Sunday it got moved to when I was at Mass.
Plus when I am not in the office, when I have a day when I can stay home, I like to concentrate on Leonard Pennario because I feel, better to exercise after work when I am not good for anything else anyway. So I did a lot of work on the discography for my book. That is a lot of work because Pennario made a lot of records!
Anyway. However lofty my motives a week without Zumba turned out to be a disaster. The biggest problem was, I stopped sleeping. I would wake up and not be able to go back to sleep. I was late for work a couple of times. Heinous!
This evening I went to my friend Melinda's for a glass of wine. They have a house full of little kids. And one of them came running up to tell us that Melinda's husband had used the bathroom.
"He needs a stamp!" the girl was insisting.
Melinda did not understand.
It turned out that in kindergarten whenever one of the kids uses the bathroom the kid is rewarded with a stamp. Mike needed a stamp as a reward for using the bathroom.
Hahahahahaaa! Next one of the little boys came solemnly into the room. He said he had found some money and he wanted me to have it.
"No, Holden, you should have it," I said.
"No, you should," he said. He put it on the coffee table in front of me. It was a dime and a penny. He looked up at me with these big blue eyes and said, "Now you can buy whatever you want."
What hilarious darling kids!
Looking back on this day it seems long. I started it out listening to Leonard Pennario playing Schumann, remember? I ate some leftover chicken stew from last night. I packed up our lunches.
I took the laundry out of the washer and sorted it. Howard was late waking up so while he was still lying in bed I woke him up by just talking and talking, mostly about the laundry.
I went to work. What did I listen to on the way to work? I listened to this lute player I have on this new CD, whose name I forget, singing Stephen Foster songs. Tom Bauerle was on WBEN talking about things your teachers used to say to you.
My teacher ...
... would say: "You'd forget your head if it wasn't attached." That is still true!
And: "If you swallow your gum it'll take seven years to digest."
And: "Tell the truth and shame the devil."
And, when you were griping: "Offer it up."
All these things coming back to me! All because I sat down, for the heck of it, and started to write.
It is fun to go over your day and list all the little things you remember.
Will someone please tell me where the weekend went?
One thing I remember, I went with my mom to see "Water For Elephants." That is a bad title, you know? I know it was the book title but it is still bad. I keep wanting to say, "Like Water For Elephants." As in: "Like Water For Chocolate," another ridiculous title. People kept explaining to me the meaning behind "Like Water For Chocolate" and I never could remember it and I still think it was dumb.
But anyway, "Water For Elephants" was about a Depression-era circus. This guy is trained as a veterinarian and he joins the circus and promptly falls in love with the ringmaster's wife.
There were good scenes of trains and animals. They had the cutest elephant and one scene that I loved had them putting up the big top. You could tell they knew how good a scene that was.
Reese Witherspoon looked kind of trashy all the way through but I think she was supposed to be that way. She was a circus babe!
One thing about "Water For Elephants," it did not know when to end. There was one ending and then another and then another. Personally I think it should have ended the first time around, when the hero and heroine have escaped, jumped out of the train or something, I forget what happened. My mind is too full of Leonard Pennario. Want to hear what happened to him in the spring of 1951? I can tell you. Name a year, any year.
I am loving this cool weather. All day it was quiet and I could work. Take your summer! I do not miss it.
Where was I?
Oh, right, the endings for "Water For Elephants." It ended once and then it ended twice. Sort of like the end to Beethoven's Fifth. ...
You are going, OK, Ludwig, enough chords, wrap it up. Time for the artist to lift his brush, as Howard likes to say.
But all in all the movie was fine and my mother liked it which is good enough for me.
My mom and I have been going to the movies once a week but I cannot help thinking, pretty soon we are going to run up against a week with no good movies. There are not many good movies out there and very few you can take your mother to, that is for sure. It is living on the brink, trying to go to the movies once a week.
Next week, what? It adds to the challenge that we go only to the cheap theater, i.e., Movieland 8.
Ha, ha! That reminds me! Before the movie we went to the Wehrle Restaurant. And the waitress there, we mention we are going to the movies and we need the check. She brings and asks what movie we're seeing. And we tell her.
"Ah," she says. "The cheap theater!"
We all call it that here in Buffalo! They can go ahead and call themselves, ahem, Movieland 8. But it is the cheap theater. Two nights a week, Wednesday and Friday, admission is only $2.
I have to admit it: I like heat. I do not like many of the things that go with it, like blaring car stereos and people swearing in the streets. But I get a kick out of a hot day. And today was one!
I got up late because I could not sleep in the heat. I took a shower and drank a cup of coffee and then my friend Michelle and I went walking around the park. That was one hot walk! We did twice around.
After that I took another shower and then I went to the Clinton-Bailey Market. It was like the Deep South. White men, black men standing around together, fanning themselves. Heaps of zucchini and eggplant and peppers.
You know it is summer when you are called "Mama." That happened to me! One farmer is packing up his truck -- it was late by the time I got to the market -- and he calls over to me, "Hey, mama, gettin' it all packed up, lock, stock and barrel."
I love that old phrase lock, stock and barrel so I started laughing.
He called out: "Thanks for the smile!"
La la la la la la la.
I picked up peaches and tomatoes and corn and cucumbers and a basket of green beans for my mom. Then went to my mom's and we lay around on the porch and drank beer and ate watermelon and listened to "Porgy and Bess." It was being broadcast live from the San Francisco Opera.
My mother was telling me about when "Porgy and Bess" came out, in 1933, she was a little girl and still she remembers it, the melodies drifting from the car radio. She was in her older sister Adelaide's car, with Adelaide's husband (or boyfriend, or whatever he was at the time) and they would be listening to "Bess, You Is My Woman Now."
Imagine when that was pop music! My mother has a great ear for music and she recognized right away, even as a little girl, how wonderful "Porgy and Bess" was. That is a scene from "Porgy and Bess" up above.
We used to talk to Al Tinney about George Gershwin. Al Tinney was a pianist in Buffalo, in case you are new to this Web log, and when he was a young teenager he had the job of being George Gershwin's rehearsal pianist, when Gershwin was readying "Porgy and Bess" for Broadway.
Al Tinney was a very gifted jazz pianist who gave Charlie Parker his first job in New York. When I was in California with Leonard Pennario, my friend Charlie who is a big jazz fan called and said, "If only you could have done this with Al!" Meaning, take down his memories.
I said, "But Charlie, Al wasn't a talker!"
Leonard was a talker. At least to me, he was. But Al was not.
Reminds me, I should make the case in the book that Pennario is the greatest Gershwin pianist. I believe that and I would not be alone in that opinion.
There is a thought for a blazing hot day!
Anyway, this day has been sort of sweet and slow. Hot days tend to be very loud days so that is one thing that I will not miss when it is cooler.
I made this cake for Howard's birthday with the help of my friend Lizzie and I have to say, it is insane.
It is sort of like brownies in that it does not rise too much. But it is so rich and gooey. I think the zucchini gives it the gooey part. Try it and you will see what I mean. I have to honestly say it is one of the best chocolate cakes, or brownies or whatever you want to call it, that I have ever eaten in my life.
I had to take a break from Pennario yesterday to deal with Howard's birthday and this is a lasting thing that came out of that. This recipe. Try it! Or maybe it is wiser you do not.
And now for the frosting.
I frosted this cake with this chocolate frosting recipe from my 1940s edition of "The Joy of Cooking." This cookbook is where I turn for simple recipes for frostings and glazes and all that other good stuff. It is not as complicated as in later editions. Why did they ever update "The Joy of Cooking" anyway? You cannot improve on perfection.
Close to perfection, anyway. for some reason "Chocolate Butter Icing" is listed under Uncooked Icings. It is a little bit cooked anyway.
You can use chocolate but I used cocoa.
Melt over a low flame: 1/4 cup cocoa, 2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons butter (I used two tablespoons).
Then add 1/4 cup hot water, cream or coffee (I used coffee) and 1/8 teaspoon salt.
Remove from the fire. Cool and add 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Next you sift and add gradually 2 cups confectioner's sugar.
That is it! That is all. It is easy and fun. Plus, this is a shocker: I learned to use a sifter! The powdered sugar I had was a little lumpy and I was taking care of it with a whisk but then I thought: Did I not buy a sifter at one of those garage sales? I looked in a drawer and there it was! I could not believe it.
So I sifted sugar for the first time in my life. This sifter is a classic. It is metal and bears the lettering "Bromwell Measuring-Sifter Guaranteed." It is just like the one in the picture above which is described as being at least 70 years old. Ha, ha! the description begins: "Charming reminder of days past when life was slower and people had time to bake cookies, pies and more."
It is fun to use old equipment. Anyway, success. And tremendous feeling of accomplishment the likes of which I will not feel again until I finish my book.