Monday, March 25, 2013

Do I hear a waltz?

Last night's Movie Night feature: Disney's "Cinderella."

I love the visuals in the waltz scene. When they go drifting over the footbridge, the water sparkling beneath them. "So this is love..."

Wait, was this movie for me or the kids?

The kids were patient and paid attention. We have made great strides in this department. Of course they loved the crazy mice. Our little Georgie, it was funny, at one point it looks as if Lucifer, the evil cat, has caught the one mouse, and Georgie just gasped.

Today it is funny, that song "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes" was on my brain, and it was unfortunately on my brain in the nattering mouse version. The mice sing that song in a crazy, sped-up performance as they work on Cinderella's dress for the ball.

I do not want to post it lest it wind up on your brain! You do not want it there, trust me.

Listen to a waltz instead.

May we suggest...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Pig in the city

Yesterday morning it felt like Thanksgiving because I started cooking early in the morning.

I got up and while I was drinking my austere black Lenten coffee I put Arista in the oven!

Arista is, ahem, Tuscan roast pork loin. This was a pork loin I had gotten from Albrecht Discount. It roasts for not too long, but an hour and a half, longer than you will likely have after work.

This recipe works! It is by Bruce Aidells. It is easy. It is generous. I have pork to share with my mom and my brothers.

And it is perfect! You take the pork loin and rub it with herbs -- for once they give you measurements for dried herbs -- and olive oil. Then into the oven it goes and off you go to listen to Leonard Pennario or do whatever your little heart desires.

Just make sure you take it out of the oven when you are supposed to.

It is frustrating how many recipes are for pork tenderloin as opposed to pork loin. Pork loin is a wonderful roast. Isn't it funny how cooking magazines concentrate so predictably on the more expensive stuff? I realize pork tenderloin is faster but still. It is like the situation with fish recipes. Ninety percent of the recipes you see are for shrimp and scallops which are very expensive.

Why? What about swai?

But anyway. With this pork I was a winner. I keep thinking I should amass a Hall of Fame of perfect recipes that are easy and yet are impressive enough so that you could invite your friends over.

This would be on the list!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Warren Buffett speaks out about Leonard Pennario

Warren Buffett, above, stopped in our office yesterday for our party honoring our publisher, Stan Lipsey. And I wanted to get my picture taken with him but son of a sea cook, my cell phone stopped working!

It would not charge!

That was a big pain because I wanted to post a picture immediately on Facebook and make Howard wig out. Also, I was worried that my battery was kaput and I would have to buy a new one. These batteries are not cheap! They cost over $70, zut alors.

When I finally got home I plugged the phone in here and there. No luck. Still that sliver of red! No green.

Son of a tequila-swilling sea cook!!

I was desperate and so I did this emergency measure I have read about and tried before. You hold down the top button and the bottom button. You press them and hold them, for about 10 seconds. It is not for the faint-hearted but sometimes it must be done. I did it and held my breath.

At first, nothing. Then the phone went completely dead. As if I had killed it! It sat there and sat there.

Then, after about five agonizing minutes, it flashed to life. With the battery completely green!

All fixed! All ready to go! Thank you, God!

So that is good news. Also good news is that I was able to get my picture taken anyway with Warren Buffett, who was extremely nice to all of his employees, all of the cogs in his big wheel of which I am one. I will post the picture as soon as I get it.

Meanwhile I had a unique conversational gambit prepared to take advantage of having Warren Buffett's ear for 10 seconds.

I said, "Mr. Buffett, I am Mary Kunz Goldman, the classical music critic. I am writing a book on the great pianist Leonard Pennario. He played you in bridge."

Warren Buffett, posing patiently with his arm around me, said: "Did he?"

And it was time for the next picture.

This was a big charity bridge match and was covered in all the papers. Pennario was on a music and entertainment team and Buffett was on a finance team. Four on each side. The musicians won, hee hee.

Perhaps that explains the cool, "Did he?"

On the other hand, Buffett has a busy life, you never know, he is used to being in the papers, he could forget that bridge game. Perhaps, though I cannot imagine how, he might even have forgotten meeting Leonard Pennario.

Whatever the reason, it lingered in my mind. Later in the party I was talking with a few of my friends and in the middle of it, I couldn't help it, I mused:

"I am kind of proud of Leonard for beating Warren Buffett in bridge."

I am.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tweet and re-tweet

Today, for the first time this year, and on this freezing morning ...

I hear the chickadee!!

It is always a magical day when that happens. I am late this year. Last year I heard the chickadee in February. But better late than never, you know? I will have to get on Twitter and Tweet that I hear the chickadee. That is the most appropriate medium in which to announce this particular good news.

The chickadee sounds a little weak but it is there all the same. If it is a little demoralized I am in sympathy! I have had it with this cold weather. It is especially nasty downtown. The winds whip across the frozen lake and it goes right through you. Fighting my way into work the other day all I could think of was Tom Waits singing, "Colder than a well digger's a--."

 I hear you, chickadee.

I hear you!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Vegging out

Last weekend I went to the Clinton-Bailey Market for the first time this year. I took that accomplished picture up above.

Guess what I bought!?

1. Apples. I was supposed to buy Deer Apples but they were out and so I bought Human Apples. They are last year's apples, obviously, but they are big and beautiful.

2. Parsnips. I've never had them!

3. Carrots. With the parsnips.

4. Green cabbage.

5. Savoy cabbage.

6. Red cabbage.

(What can you say, I'm a kraut.)

7. 10-pound bag of onions cause I hate running out.

8. Wildflower honey. I selected it while listening to Elaine, the honey woman, telling me about her trip to Hawai'i. She climbed a volcano! Imagine that.

That might have been it for my haul. Tomorrow I will weigh in about it if it is not. I have already eaten half the cabbage. I made Two-Cabbage Salad with clementines out of my Monastery Cookbook and an Asian cabbage salad.

It is great to be back at the Clinton-Bailey Market.

When it is a little warmer, and they carry Leonard Pennario records, it will be perfect!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Habemus bunting

St. Anthony's downtown had gold and white bunting this morning because habemus papam -- we have a pope! There is the church up above, with City Hall looming overhead. Yellow and white are the papal colors.

Here is a closeup! Notice the sweet old sign over the cross, reading "S. Antonio." It is a beautiful historic detail, besides of course the church's association with Leonard Pennario.

It is rare to see churches with the festive bunting even on an occasion like this. I could not remember seeing it before. One woman at church told me you used to see it more years ago. If someone had died you might see purple bunting over the door.

I wonder if any other churches around Buffalo have the bunting.

I will have to go around and see!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Messages from Mars

 In the department of Why Do We Live Here? lastnight Howard filmed this video up above of Jackie Jocko teaching him in Lounge Academy.

Why do we live here?

Look at all this snow!

That desolate feeling!

It is like my video of a few years ago of Leonard Pennario's Chopin etude.

In both videos a bus goes past. I love that.

Also in both videos the city looks just desolate. Like Mars.

Why do we live here??

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Meet the new pope!

Such excitement today! I watched as the white smoke went up and as the new pope was introduced. I was at work. We gathered around the TV sets.

This is funny but when they brought him out, I hate to admit this but I felt a little embarrassed.

After all that pageantry, here he was, this humble, nondescript man.

There was all this unbelievable pageantry in St. Peter's Square. You could watch it on the telecasts. These marching bands, troops of Swiss guards, all of them moving in columns this way and that, before buildings that were unbelievably huge and imposing. All this happened at night, with lights twinkling.

And after all this, again, Pope Francis looked like -- well, like any old man.

You could see attention around the TV was fading. People were kind of looking at him as if to say, OK, now what?

And I was looking at him, too, kind of pained, thinking, can you smile, can you do something?

I bet ol' John Paul II was ready with a big grin! I'll bet he waved. Francis just looked in shock. for the longest time.

He seemed kind of reluctant and probably he was. I read that when Benedict XVI was elected, the man who is now Pope Francis was the runner-up, but he put a stop to his own election by making what I read was an emotional appeal to the cardinals, saying, please, don't elect me.

Today I have read all over the place that he had been Benedict's "challenger." Not true. It is amazing what a difference a choice of word can make and do not think writers do not know that.

Anyway, back to Francis and his demeanor as he was presented to the crowd. Later I felt silly that I had felt kind of embarrassed for him. I thought, you know what, the great saints of the past, they were probably like this. They were not about acting like a Rockstar. They were humble men and they would have behaved exactly as this pope behaved today.

Pennario loved Pope Pius XII and he gave me a picture of him with him and Pius XII just looked like some dishrag, too, standing there. And look how holy he was.

I like Pope Francis.

I like the Jesuits. Remember when they gave me a pass for drinking too much wine?

My mother says that is a great name, Pope Francis. And I like how journalists are all chewing over whether he meant Francis of Assisi or Francis Xavier. What about Francis de Sales? He is the patron saint of journalists and I think he should have a horse in this race too.

Oh well. It is time now to go out partying.

It is not every day that we elect a pope!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Motor mouth

We did Movie Night again on Sunday with the kiddies. We watched half of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang."

It is impressive, the ground we have covered! "Peter Pan," then "Dr. Doolittle," then "Mary Poppins," then "Bambi," then "Snow White," then "Pinocchio," and now this. Now this! That is an expression Howard loves.

The kids are getting better at watching movies. At least I am now cautiously optimistic anyway. "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" is an unhurried, meandering kind of pic. There is a lot of Dick van Dyke singing and dancing. You can get an hour into the movie and he has not even bought the car! "The Fast and the Furious" this is not.

But the young 'uns watched placidly, munching their popcorn. The secret is popcorn! You need a lot of it. With a lot of butter.

The dance number up above is a riot. My brother George and I were talking about it. We had completely forgotten it.

We had completely forgotten this whole movie!

I do kind of recall that it gets dark, although it will have to get pretty dark to be darker than "Pinocchio." "Pinocchio" was no joke! I do not think I will ever watch that movie again, to tell you the truth.

This is funny, after every movie George and I get on Google and sort of research it. Researching "Pinocchio" I found that the guy who voiced Geppetto was actually a German character actor, from Bavaria, named Christian Rub. The guy who was the voice of Stromboli, a very stereotypical Italian, was a Dutchman, Charles Judels. He appeared in Laurel and Hardy's masterpiece "Swiss Miss."

With which, there is this Laurel and Hardy site with which you may waste a lot of time. You can click on actors and their pictures and it is all cross-indexed as far as what Laurel and Hardy movies they were in. I wish I could have shown it to Leonard Pennario. He loved those movies and probably he knew half those guys.

Movie Night does not end with Sunday.

It lasts all week!

Monday, March 11, 2013

West Side story

Yesterday I went with lounge sensation Guy Boleri to Mass at Annunciation Church. That is where Guy was baptized and so he wanted to go there.

That is the church pictured above! It is funny, I played the organ there when I lived in that neighborhood. I do not think I have been back there since. I had forgotten how beautiful that church is.

They like to switch the names of churches around for confusion's sake and Annunciation is now known as Our Lady of Hope. It is almost completely immigrant. Guy and I were mostly guessing but we reckon there were Burmese, Cambodian maybe, Vietnamese, African, we are not sure what else. They are from the neighborhood. If you get there early you see them all walking to the church from all directions, sitting on the steps, talking, getting ready for Mass. It was really sweet to see.

OLH is run by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the order Leonard Pennario liked. There were tons of little kids from every imaginable race. Haha.. my little niece Barbara heard me telling my brother George about that. "I want to go there!" she said.

I can understand why.

This Mass was an adventure!

It was comfortably crowded and had all these exotic touches. They had an African Choir, mostly young men, who performed at the Offertory, with drums. And a Gesture Choir, all girls, who performed at Communion. Black and Asian girls mostly, looking like angels in their white robes.

I will be honest, this is not my style of Mass and I had hedged my bets by going to my usual Tridentine Mass at St. Anthony's earlier.

I do not like piano at church, or applause. T'ain't fitting.

Also the mass was too long. There is way too much wiggle room in modern masses and what happens is, people are always adding things. This Mass was weighed down with a long recorded message from the bishop with New Age piano behind it, about Catholic Charities. It went on for at least five minutes. There was also a prayer for Catholic Charities.  "Lord, we beseech You, grant us blah blah blah..." No one in the world wants to bother with this prayer, I am sorry. I do not even think God wants to bother with hearing it!

On the bright side, though, I liked how people's hearts were in this Mass. Also it gave you a real world view!

There was a Burmese Mass scheduled for that afternoon. There was a leaflet that translated prayers into what looked like Vietnamese. It was fun seeing these kids of every stripe. Guy is not shy and immediately became involved with them and their parents, entertaining, assisting. Too funny.

I loved the announcement that an African priest was going to be available to hear confessions in Swahili. That will probably be my next confession adventure, wandering by mistake into a booth where they are doing confessions in Swahili!

I do wish everyone worshiped according to the Tridentine Latin rite. It would be simpler and everyone would be happy and equal.

But it is fun to be able to go around the world in your own home town!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Creme of the crop

I have been away working on my book and also tending to the bathroom garden. Remember the bathroom garden?

One spring it yielded Lever soap.

And last spring it was paper towels.

Every spring the bathroom garden yields the first fruits of the season. Today it was a full bottle of a shampoo called Creme of Nature. It is called Creme of Nature because it grows naturally!

I looked it up and found it goes for $6.50 or something at Walgreen's, way more than I would ever pay for a shampoo. That is why you grow your own! It is like arugula, it is expensive to buy but cheap and easy to grow.

Surely this will be a fruitful season!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

In the night kitchen

Howard has been busy at Big Blue. He has been working on the kitchen.

Up above is a photograph of his handiwork!

I tell him it is like me and my book, sometimes the progress is not visible to the naked eye. I have pouring a lot of time lately into my book. I get up early and when that doesn't work, I stay up late. Like Howard and his kitchen it is not drudgery. It is a labor of love!

And the good news is, I realized last week how much progress I had made. There is all this research, all this info I have collected and processed over the last few years. So often along the way it has become discouraging because I cannot always see the progress I am making. And people look at me and all they see is, no book.

For a while recently I was afraid even to look at it. It just seemed monumental and impossible. This is terrible but a while ago I read about this poor woman, I forget her name, who tried to write a book on Billie Holiday. She went and interviewed everyone Billie Holiday had known and then after all that she could not put the book together and went crazy. She is dead now.

I hated reading about that!

What if that were me?

Here I have interviewed so many people who ever knew Leonard Pennario and to tell you the truth, now I am not sure if that was a great idea. I should have just slapped this thing together. I see these other books on musicians, nobody interviews anybody. And at least the thing is done.

Oh well. In the case of Billie Holiday you have to consider the subject matter. I would go crazy writing about Billie Holiday. I go crazy just reading about her. It is a depressing story.

The story of Leonard Pennario is not depressing. It is a life and a world I love.

Back to Howard and his kitchen. Both of us work and work in our respective universes and for long periods of time nobody else sees our progress. We have to be our own critics and cheerleaders. It gets solitary and disorienting. In my case it sometimes seems I am floundering around endlessly in my sea of papers and red wine and Red Zinger and Shur-Fine diet pop. Any writer would know what I mean. However.

One day you get it together to step back and take a look at what you have done ... and you see that it is good.

Last week I was able to take a good look at my progress on my book and I was very encouraged.

This thing is in good shape!

Now it is a race to see what gets done first, the book or the kitchen at Big Blue.

Great things take time!


Monday, March 4, 2013

A hippie happening

This was a surprise even to me, but I went to Tops and what did I buy? Red Zinger tea!

Remember when I bashed Red Zinger?

This is funny but after my Red Zinger zinger my friend Dave got in touch and he said, "Mary, don't you remember, I ordered Red Zinger after we went to confession." It was true! He went to confession with me a couple of months ago and after confession I had coffee and he had Red Zinger. How could I forget something like that? But I did.

Anyway, I had a coupon I was doubling at Tops for their 99 cent coupon doubling special this week. Yikes, there has to be a better way to word that. Well, I take greater care when working on my book.

And I remembered Dave and Red Zinger. I picked up the box and looked at it. The herbs that go into Red Zinger are just so attractive! There is peppermint and licorice and something yummy sounding, Wild Cherry Bark.

Plus I also like Red Zinger's pedigree. It was introduced in 1972. What was Leonard Pennario doing in 1972? Let me check. Ah! He played at the grand opening of Chrysler Hall in Virginia. Also he stopped by Buffalo that year and stayed at the Lord Amherst down the street from my house. Did he drink Red Zinger while he was there? I think not.

It is a bit of an acquired taste, I have to say that. Howard and I drank it with dinner last night and it tastes kind of like hot Kool-Aid. I admire those beardos over at Celestial Seasonings for being able to make it so sweet without any sugar or sweetener. But red wine goes better with dinner than Red Zinger.

Still, it's good, in its Age of Aquarius way. This summer I think I will take the box's advice and try it over ice.

The thing is, when I am working on this book, arranging and rearranging info on Leonard Pennario, I just need something to quaff. If I am not ingesting something I am just not happy.

Hahaha.. looking back on what I wrote a while ago, I read: "Does anyone know anyone who drinks Red Zinger?"

I guess I do!


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Scary movie

We did Movie Night again with the kiddies. We saw "Pinocchio."

Anyone ever see "Pinocchio"? I do not think I ever did before tonight.

It is a very strange film!

Fevered, was the word I came up with afterward when it was over and we were all sitting there in shock.

My brother George said he looked it up in some movie guide and it is considered the scariest of the Disney masterpieces. There is this one scene in particular where Pinocchio has made this bad friend and the friend is sitting around playing pool and smoking cigars and drinking beer and all of a sudden he starts turning into a donkey and there is no stopping it.

He gets terrified and it is awful to see! He crashes into a mirror and he starts screaming. Really, not fun.

Hahahaa... I am reading the comments to that YouTube video and somebody writes: "I threw up when I saw this for the first time."

The movie takes all kinds of strange turns. You think it's all sweetness and light, "I Got No Strings" and "When You Wish Upon a Star." Ha. Ha. HA. (As Laurel and Hardy used to say.)

Then they have to go underwater and find Gepetto in the belly of this whale. Disney is unhurried as heck through this part, having fun filling something like an hour with all kinds of weird bubbles and fish.

One funny thing, the part everyone thinks about, about how Pinocchio's nose grows when he tells a lie, that is actually a very brief and minor episode.

There is a Leonard Pennario connection with this movie that I will have to make sure to put in the book.

One good thing, this was hands down the most successful movie with the kids. They were glued to it. It was not like last time, I will tell you that. There was hardly any talking, just one whimper from our little Georgie that it was getting too scary.

Secretly I agreed.

I think we are all going to have bad dreams!