Obscurity Knocks

Earnest, empathetic, industrious, unpretentious, gay Virgo in Milwaukee with a great life, amazing friends, and a wonderful family.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Symphony report

I went to the Milwaukee Symphony on Saturday with my friend Anne B. from work. The opening piece was "D&C from Surrogate Cities" by Heiner Goebbels (born 1952 and no relation to the infamous Goebbels from the Second World War). It was very interesting, particularly the percussion part, which included crumpling paper, ball bearings in a coffee can, large sheets of metal, and other unusual elements. Next the orchestra played Aaron Copland's Clarinet Concerto, which I had not heard before. The first movement was exceedingly beautiful and reminded me of watching dawn break in a green Irish field. The second and third movements were much more jazz influenced, which makes sense since Copland wrote the concerto for Benny Goodman. The final piece was Schubert's Symphony No. 9 "The Great," which is a favorite of mine. All in all, it was a very nice evening. I didn't realize until I read the program notes that Schubert died when he was 31. It's too bad that he couldn't have lived longer to compose more beautiful music.

Lipstick on Your Collar

While trying to find a good song on XM Radio, I stumbled across a little gem, "Lipstick on Your Collar," by Connie Francis. Connie is a true legend. I find numerous aspects of her history fascinating: that her father wanted her to learn to play the accordion so she could teach others and not have to be dependent on a man for income; that she was the most successful female recording artist of the 1960s; and that what she thought would be her final recording ended up launching her to stardom. That song, of course, is "Who's Sorry Now" from 1957. Without Connie, there could be no Madonna, let alone some of today's lesser singers such as Gwen Stefani and Kelly Clarkson. In any event, "Lipstick on Your Collar" tells the story of how the singer, presumably Connie herself, discovers lipstick on the collar of her boyfriend at a record hop. The lipstick on the cad's collar is red, and Connie's is baby pink. Mary Jane, Connie's best friend, returns to the record hop with her lipstick "all a mess." Turns out that Mary Jane was smooching Connie's man, and Connie is none too pleased about it. She dumps the man, which is good because someone as wonderful as Connie doesn't need a man to be fabulous.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Abby can smile now!

Isn't she cute?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

symphony catch-up #3

The most recent MSO concert I attended was with Michelle SD. We had dinner at Elsa's prior to the performance. As has been our tradition for many years, we each had the Truck Garden sandwich. The concert included Haydn's Symphony No. 85 "La Reine." Haydn is nearly perfect and incredibly talented, but so devoid of emotion that he doesn't do much for me. It was easy on the ears, but not stimulating at all. Next was Coleridge-Taylor's Hiawatha's Wedding. Coleridge-Taylor doesn't appear much on programs these days, so it was a treat to hear one of his compositions. This particular piece was engaging and entertaining. I wouldn't want to listen to it regularly, but it was from that fin de siecle genre that I enjoy, and the super titles made it quite fun. Last was Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3 "Scottish," which is a wonderful piece. Michelle and I enjoyed the evening.

symphony catch-up #2

Another MSO concert I attended this winter included Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1. Ordinarily seeing Shostakovich on the program causes my mood to sour, knowing that I'll have to endure about 40 minutes of dissonance. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The Violin Concerto No. 1 isn't as bad as most of Shostakovich's compositions. Plus I had the pleasure of hearing this piece played by Sarah Chang, who is most certainly one of the world's premier violinists. It was worth it for Ms. Chang's performance alone. In addition, the orchestra played Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, which is always enjoyable.

symphony catch-up

I want to note the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concerts I attend in this blog, and have fallen behind. In January, I heard the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 played by Adam Golka. Golka had both the technique and artistry to play this extremely complicated piece, often considered to be the most challenging piano concerto in the classical repertoire. The piece itself pales in comparison to the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, but the No. 3 is more popular these days after the mediocre film "Shine" about pianist David Helfgott's mental breakdown involving the Rachmaninoff No. 3. The orchestra also played excerpts from Prokofiev's Cinderella Ballet which were quite lovely.

almost, except for a wedding ring

While I was at the gym on Monday, minding my own business, this guy came up to me, said hello, and asked me for directions to a business where he was going for a meeting. I knew more-or-less where this office was, told him, and that was it. Except he kept talking with me. By the end of the conversation, I knew quite a bit about him. After a while of his continuing the conversation even though I was trying to be a bit off-putting, I wondered if he was hitting on me. I'm usually off-putting at the gym because I know that it's mostly straight guys, and I don't want to get my ass kicked or anything. This guy was totally my type - short light brown hair, clean-cut, hot chest hair, and a great smile. Except for one minor detail: he put a wedding ring on after his workout. Damn.

Uncle Steve's first babysitting

Abby, my niece, is almost six weeks old. On Friday I emailed Sara, my sister-in-law, saying that if she and Dave wanted to go to dinner on Saturday, I would babysit for a few hours. They took me up on my offer, and overall things went pretty well. Abby had just finished eating when Dave and Sara left for dinner, so I didn't have to worry about her getting hungry. She was quite content and happy for about the first 45 minutes, and was particularly interested in looking at my orange baseball cap. I think that she can see bright colors now. Getting overly confident, I thought that this babysitting thing was pretty easy. But then she got fussy and was not satisfied with me holding her or in her baby swing. Usually she enjoys the swing. So I walked around the house with her, and eventually she fell asleep, even though she was really fighting it. While asleep, she went number two and woke up wanting a clean diaper. Changing the diaper went well. By that time, Dave and Sara had arrived home. So I survived the experience and so did Abby. When babies are this little, though, it's a bit daunting since you're never sure what might upset them or how you can help make things right. When I arrived home, I drank a bottle of beer in about three minutes as a reward. But I'm definitely game for babysitting again.

A good evening

Ruben and Mark emailed on Friday afternoon looking for dinner companions. As some of you know, my definition of hell is having to eat alone, so I was in for sure. It ended up being Sarah French, Ruben, Mark, and me. It was good company and fun conversation. It's always a good day when I don't have to eat alone. Thanks, guys!

New sheets

The sheets I had for my bed were three years old and of mediocre quality. Yes, they were 100 percent cotton, but they were old and used, sort of like their owner. As a result, I had been thinking about buying new ones. I mentioned this to Ruben and Sarah French on Friday night. Ruben and Sarah French said that 100 percent Egyptian cotton is essential and they also recommended that I go for a high thread count. With this information in mind, I went to Macy's yesterday since all of their bedding was on sale, plus I had a coupon for 15 percent all home furnishings. I was all set to buy these pretty cool Ralph Lauren sheets in a fun green color called honeydew. However, they weren't Egyptian cotton and the thread count was "only" 250. Ruben and Sarah French's recommendations were gnawing at me. So then I looked at the Macy's Hotel collection. There were two options: (1) 500 count pima cotton or (2) 600 count 100 percent Egyptian cotton. I felt both options and even closed my eyes to try to see if I could tell a difference. I couldn't really detect any difference between the 500 and 600 count varieties, but the comparison ruled out the Ralph Lauren 250 count, since those felt like sandpaper compared to the Hotel brand. I would have purchased the 500 count, but I was mindful of Ruben and Sarah French's advice. So I ended up buying the 600 count in gold. Original price for queen flat, fitted, and pillowcases was $350, but you'd have to be a fool to pay full price for any home item at Macy's. Sale price was $259.97. Fortunately, I had my 15 percent off coupon which made my price $220.97. Since I like to have two sets of sheets, multiply that by two and I paid $441.94. Ouch!

I wondered if I'd have buyer's remorse. I washed them yesterday afternoon and had my first night's sleep in them last night, and I'm pleased to report that I'm quite pleased with my purchase. They're quite wonderful. Very luxurious.

Ruben told me that with these nice sheets, I'd better be discriminating in allowing a guy to share my bed. As usual, sage advice from Ruben, but it's been so long since anyone but me was in that bed, I don't think I have to worry.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

My personal inflation calaulator

My lunch of choice is a 6" veggie sub from Subway. I get it on wheat bread with all the veggies except onions and banana peppers. I also get a small bag of Original Baked Lays. Since I'm a Virgo and have some OCD tendencies, I eat this lunch most weekdays unless I have a lunch meeting or other plans. I enjoy the walk to Subway, which is about four blocks from my office; it's nice to get out of the building for a few minutes. I typically eat at my desk while reading USA Today. I've been eating this lunch since 1996 and I never tire of it. The present cost is $3.90. I use the cost of this lunch as my personal inflation calculator. Here are the prices over the years: $2.84, $2.46, $3.15, $3.26, $3.56, and presently $3.90. Sometimes people ask me why I don't pack a lunch at home. Well, $3.90 is still far cheaper and less labor intensive than it would be for me to buy the ingredients for a similar sandwich and make it at home. So why not stick with Subway?

Virgo-tastic day

Yesterday was a Virgo-tastic day for me. I started the morning running about 6.5 miles with Dave (my brother), spent a little time with Abby (my niece) and Sara (sister-in-law). Then showered, ate a 6" veggie sub and Original Baked Lays at Subway, ran a few errands, came home and changed my sheets, cleaned my condo, scrubbed the floors, did laundry, ironed. Then I had dinner at Elsa's with Michelle SD and we went to the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concert. The main piece was Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3 "Scottish." All in all, it was a great day.

Melissa Manchester - where are you now?

Sunday late morning/early afternoon Channel 8 on XM Radio plays "American Top 40 with Casey Kasem" shows from the 80s. It's my favorite programming on XM, since the play lists aren't filtered by some ignorant DJ in 2007. A few weeks ago they played an AT40 episode from February 1980. One of the songs between #30 and #40 was amazing, but I didn't remember hearing it before. I was so captivated by this song that I almost had to pull my car over to the side of the road to fully appreciate it. Casey, speaking from 1980, told me at the conclusion that the song was "Just You and I" by Melissa Manchester. It's an amazing ballad. When I got home, the first thing I did was purchase this gem on iTunes. Since then I've played it 22 times according to the iTunes play count feature. I'm now convinced that Melissa Manchester is completely under appreciated, particularly considering her stunning vocal talents.

If I ever had a musical act, I would open with Eydie Gorme's "If He Walked Into My Life" and close with "Just You and I" by Melissa Manchester. I would never be a drag queen, but thinking about my non-drag act makes me wonder why more drag queens aren't including Melissa Manchester songs in their repertoire. You could easily have a superb drag act of Melissa numbers: "Through the Eyes of Love (Theme from Ice Castles)," "Don't Cry Out Loud," "You Should Hear How She Talks About You," and "Just You and I" are all top-notch songs. All except "You Should Hear How She Talks About You" are brilliant torch songs, the bread-and-butter of any good drag act. You throw in "You Should Hear..." as an up-tempo number. It makes for an A+ act, if you ask me.
Melissa is in touch with universal human emotions, and her voice conveys those feelings. "Through the Eyes of Love (Theme from Ice Castles)" is her homage to finding that one special someone; "Don't Cry Out Loud" provides consolation and inspiration after a depressing and devastating break up (plus it has a wickedly wonderful key change); "You Should Hear How She Talks About You" is Melissa at her sassy best, persuading a male friend to pursue romance with...her ("She's in love with you, boy! Can't ya see, it's me!"). "Just You and I" is a show-stopping, bring down the house, love song from Melissa to her audience; all listening are convinced that she's singing directly to them. The message is that even if everyone else lets you down, Melissa will be there for you.

I'm now on a one-man mission to increase appreciation for Melissa Manchester. She's wonderful.