Tuesday, September 30, 2008

my thoughts on the Cleveland Orchestra

This afternoon on the way home from work I caught this story on NPR's All Things Considered. It seems The Plain Dealer's long-time classical music critic is ceasing to be just that via possible 'demotion' for writing less than stellar reviews of the Cleveland Orchestera. Or at least that's what it looks like to most people, despite the refutations of the newspaper's editor.

Being a former resident of Cleveland and one who attended many, many Cleveland Orchestra concerts, I have a special attachment to all things Cleveland. I read The Plain Dealer regularly because it was delivered to my house every day. I also read Don Rosenberg's reviews of Cleveland Orchestra concerts with some degree of religiosity, especially since I was in attendance at a lot of those performances, even after college was over.

I like to brag that while in Cleveland, I got to hear quite a few famous musicians, including Alfred Brendel, Mitsuko Uchida, Vladimir Ashkenazy, and Joshua Bell. I was at a performance when it was learned that the great Robert Shaw had died, which prompted a spontaneous rendition of Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen (How lovely is thy dwelling place) from the Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem.

Christoph von Dohnányi was the Music Director back then. As a theory and composition major in college I was even fortunate to attend one of the master classes he occasionally gave down at Severance Hall. It was more like a lecture, but really, it was Dohnányi so who cares what it was? Back in those days, I used to watch him conduct the orchestra and fantasize that is was me up there on the podium, flailing my arms around, commanding those glorious harmonies to come forth. He was a fascinating, intense personality to observe in action.

When it was announced that Franz Welser-Möst would be taking over for Dohnányi in 2002, I admit I was shocked. Not long after, I went to a concert under the new direction. The difference in energy was noticeable. It wasn't as exciting or captivating, and I remember hearing similar complaints from friends. There was a reason why good old Franz Welser-Möst earned the nickname "Worse-than-Most" among us.

So, in summary, I agree with you, Don Rosenberg. I knew what you meant when you said, in your review of a performance of a Mozart symphony, that "the key of C had never sounded so mirthless." I hope everything works out for you. It's good to know there are people out there who still refuse to sacrifice honesty and integrity.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

so long, summer

Tomorrow is the final day of summer - the Autumnal equinox is September 22nd this year. In celebration, Ryan and I spent a lazy afternoon in the backyard, savoring the warmth at the end of the day.

We spent some time earlier running errands. I also re-filled the bird feeders, pruned the tomatoes a bit and yanked out a few errant weeds. Around 4:00 we settled down in the backyard with some Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA. (Wegmans, Aman's and Herrema's are all carrying Great Lakes beer, which is very close to my heart. Seems their distribution problems are over!)

Autumn is both Ryan's and my favorite season. We are both looking forward to the Fall migration period, changing leaves, soups, stews, braises, and our Harvest Party, which we've started to plan. We're hoping to host a gathering in early October to honor our favorite time of year.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I was tagged by Julia. Again. Thanks, Julia. :) Here is my meme of 7 fun or interesting things about me.

1. I make pretty accurate-sounding monkey noises to get the cats all riled up. Oooo-ooo-ahh-ahh!

2. Too much wine gets ME all riled up.

3. I must make the bed every night before going to sleep, no exceptions. I'm obsessive-compulsive about it.

4. I cry when I laugh too hard. Really, I mean seriously crying. It's like some weird switch gets flipped because I'm wired so strangely.

5. Ryan thinks a I sound like a seal when I laugh hard.

6. I treat gardening, birding, and all outdoor things as religious experiences.

7. I've been to both Australia and New Zealand. I think that's pretty interesting.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

sweet dreams

I'd like to just mention that Vicodin can be a very effective sleep aid. I'm still experiencing some residual pain from my fall last month. At the end of the day, sometimes my ass really hurts so I take a pill before going to bed. Last night, I had a dream that Ben and I were socializing with the Bennet sisters from Pride and Prejudice.

Friday, September 12, 2008

9/11 date night

Last night, in addition to it being the 7th anniversary of 9/11, it was also date night. Ryan and I went down to The Little to hear Lumiere play some French freedom -style jazz.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

choir picnic croquet

Everyone looks forward to our annual church choir picnic because it usually involves lots of food, lots really bad musician jokes, Croquet, and, yes, drinking. (Note the beer bottle in Ryan's shirt pocket.)

Monday, September 08, 2008

supporting my sweetie

I hadn't been to a lot of Varnish Cooks shows lately, so I went to one at Johnny's Irish Pub right before we left for Cape May. (Ben was my date for that show.)

When I wasn't indulging in the many Pale Ales that kept showing up in my hand somehow (even people I barely knew were buying me beers!), I was doing a lot of picture-taking of the band, and of the friends who attended the show.

I love how the lights are swirling around in some of these shots. It's almost an exact pictorial representation of my slightly inebriated, happy state of mind at the time.

Last weekend, I tagged along with Ryan and the other guys to the Turtle Hill Folk Festival. There was something serenely relaxing about sitting in a church pew listening to the band while casually thumbing through the Presby hymnal in front of me. Maybe it was because I never get to sit in a church pew and meditate because I'm always sitting behind the piano instead.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

bye, bye Ben

A few weeks ago, our friend Ben moved to NYC after accepting a position at the American Museum of Natural History. On the eve of his departure, he invited Ryan and me over for a pretty swank dinner.

We had some lovely appetizers, but the main course of surf and turf was a real hit.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

caption needed

Lauren took this photo of Isabel last weekend and I think it is just screaming for an 'I Can Has Cheezburger' LOL Cats caption. Any other suggestions?


Friday, September 05, 2008

Skywatch Friday - 9/5/08

I love looking at the Skywatch Friday posts on the other blogs I usually read . I have a lot of photos of the sky, so I decided to participate. My contribution this week:

I took this photo* a few weeks ago. This was the view of a protected nesting site in the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge. I love how three-dimensional the clouds look in contrast with the flat beach.

[*at the suggestion of a commenter, I enlarged it and re-posted.]

Thursday, September 04, 2008

gross incompetence

Yesterday, something so ridiculous and asinine happened to me, I just had to share it.

I got home from work at the usual time. I walked in through the back door, into the kitchen, and set my purse and lunch bag down on the kitchen table. Isabel mewed at me so I gave her some love and then wandered into the dining room to look through the mail.

Me: "The RG&E bill AGAIN?? I just paid this! I can't believe we're getting ANOTHER bill!"
Ryan: [grunts from his office]
Me: [sigh as I open the bill]

What I see nearly takes my breath away: Total Natural Gas Cost........$8,714.73.

That's right, $8,714.73. That's almost NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS.

I didn't make it up. Really, I didn't. Here's the proof, just in case you're not sure if I'm telling the truth.

I immediately got on the phone. Of course, I was on hold for 15 minutes before I actually spoke to a living, breathing, cranky customer service rep. I explained to her that the electric portion of my bill (only $52.00) was ok, but that I was particularly alarmed by my alleged natural gas consumption.

She pulled up my account and said, "Well, I can see why you're concerned about this."


Now, let us consider that last month we paid a mere $72.00 for our gas usage. Let us also consider that the highest our entire RG&E bill has ever been, in the nearly two years we have lived in that house, even in the middle of Winter, was roughly $467.00.

If you look at the bill closely, it says the reading for the electric was an estimate, while the reading for the natural gas was actual. Now, in order to get to the gas meter, which is LOCKED UP IN THE BASEMENT, the meter reader would have to knock on the door and ask Ryan or me to let them in. The electric meter, on the other hand, is on the side of the house, easily accessible. Last week we did get one of those yellow Sorry-We-Missed-You hangy tags on the front door handle and the fence next to the electric meter had been KNOCKED DOWN.

I think the idiot meter reader thought the electric meter was the gas meter.

What galls me is the following: Surely it says in my account somewhere that the gas meter is INSIDE. And, at some point, the numbers from the meters have be entered into a computer and linked up with our specific account. Wouldn't the person doing the entry notice the enormous difference between last month's usage and this month's? Don't you think a warning bell would have sounded and maybe someone over there at RG&E would have called me to read the meter? Or, perhaps they would want to come out and check to see if their meter had been damaged somehow or is just flat out broken.

Of course not. Not in a million years. Instead, the send out a clearly inaccurate bill. Did they think we would not notice the error? Worse, still, did they actually think we would pay almost nine thousand dollars without thinking there's a problem here? Come on.

Conclusion: they don't get paid enough to care.

I gave Cranky Customer Service Rep the meter read that Ryan had taken while I was on hold. She said that will lower our bill considerably. No kidding. We also have a scheduled meter read set up for next week, and an adjusted bill should be coming to us in the near future.

To be continued.