Thursday, November 19, 2009

E. T. Phone Home

Boy Finds Own Real-Life E.T.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Murder in Puerto Rico...

Over the weekend the brutalized body of gay teen George Steven Lopez Mercado was found by the side of a road in Cayey, Puerto Rico. The police investigator suggested that he deserved what he got because of the "type of lifestyle" he was leading.

Uninformed people love to bash Cleveland as backward and homophobic. But I could never imagine any investigator here implying the victim had it coming. (In fact, Cuyahoga County has an openly gay deputy.) The Federal government needs to step in and, under the Matthew Shepherd Act, take over the investigation.
As to the killing itself: I doubt this was the work of a garden variety gay basher. Most homophobes would not go to the trouble of dismembering, decapitating, and burning a corpse. That speaks to someone with a truly sick mind - going far beyond mere homophobia. Apparently, there was recently another murder in of a gay man in Condado - San Juan's predominently gay neighborhood. But without knowing more about the victim or his death, it's impossible to know if there is a pattern indicative of a serial killer.
11/17/2009 - Follow up
Police in Puerto Rico have arrested a 28 year old man, who is now the prime suspect in the murder. The police investigator, Angel Rodriquez Colon, who made the remark which outraged gay activists, has been relieved of duty and placed on administrative leave.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Review: Horowitz plays Schumann

Schumann: Kinderszenen Op15
Schumann: Toccata, Kinderszenen, Kreisleriana, Arabeske, Blumenstucke
Vladimir Horowitz,

5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring and inspired Kreisleriana..., November 11, 2009
By Hank Drake (Cleveland, OH United States) - See all my reviews

Schumann was Vladimir Horowitz's favorite German composer. (Once, when asked why Horowitz felt "at home" in Schumann, his wife responded that "they were both crazy".) This compilation, recorded from 1962-1969 and issued on CD in 1987, offers both the Florestan and Eusebius sides of Schumann's dual nature.

Here we have a reflective Kinderscenen, featuring some remarkable voicing. Horowitz obviously plays the work as an adult looking back on childhood, which is how Schumann wrote the work. This recording is notably more straightforward than the pianist's live 1982 performance, yet somehow less moving emotionally than the wizened recordings from Horowitz's final concerts in 1987.

Less successful is the Toccata, which is pianistically unstable and was heavily, and audibly, spliced. This does not rise to the remarkable level of the pianist's famed 1934 recording.

I vividly remember the first time I heard this 1969 recording of Schumann's Kreisleriana. It was September of 1985 - I was fresh out of high school. I worked at a classical record store and bought a cassette tape (it was a "Masterworks Portrait" reissue that also had the 1962 Kinderszenen and Toccata).

Dusk was falling and it was misting outside, as I slipped the Walkman headphones on. I had already heard Rubinstein's recording of Kreisleriana about a year earlier and thought "this piece is boring." The rapture of Horowitz's performance sent me into another world. Every moment held me spellbound. By the time I got home, I was soaked through. During my walk I took no notice of the weather.

Horowitz learned Kreisleriana in the 1930s, but did not play it in public until 1968. Several attempts to record the work in concert were not successful, and Horowitz came to the conclusion that he needed the peace and quiet of a recording studio to achieve the concentration for a performance suitable for posterity. Horowitz recorded the work at one inspired session on December 1, 1969, and this may well be the most successful Kreisleriana ever recorded. Ironically, Horowitz, who often had trouble holding together a Beethoven Sonata, makes this structurally splintered work emerge as one piece. This is one Kriesleriana which is never rambling or boring. There is virtuosity here, but never for its own sake, and there is poetry in plenty. This stands alongside the 1932 Liszt Sonata and 1951 Rachmaninoff Third Concerto as one of Horowitz's greatest recordings. It should be pointed out that this is the only CD reissue (MK 42409) of Kriesleriana where I can guarantee that Horowitz's approved takes are used. All issues from 1993 onward (with the possible exception of the Blu-spec release, which I have not heard) use alternate takes, which are noticeably different from the original LP and this CD issue. Although the performance is basically similar, there are several important differences in detail.

It's interesting to compare this version of Schumann's Arabeske, from 1968, with Horowitz's studio recording from 1962. The earlier version features swifter tempos, more delicate colors, and a more structural approach, which contrasts with the comparatively laid-back, yet somehow bolder performance given here.

The Blumenstucke (Flower Piece), Op. 19 is almost a companion to the Arabeske. Horowitz plays the piece in a rather breezy manner, with less rubato than his 1975 recording.

The sound is more than acceptable here, and especially fine in Kreisleriana.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dog in need of a home...

Please pass this on to all your friends in the Cleveland area:

This is Marley, a female Labrador/Pointer mix. Marley is 11 months old and has been spayed. She is sweet, but like many puppies, rather rambunctious. She is good with people, including children. Marley is looking for a home. Ideally, Marley would like to live with people who can match her energy level, take her on walks, and play with her.   (I'm tempted to adopt Marley, but Danny & I already have a dog who is a handful).  

If you know anyone who would be interested in Marley, please email:

Music at the White House

At a time when there is so much violence in the world, it is heartening to see young people adding to our culture, and our leaders taking an interest.

Monday, November 2, 2009

1 Year with Mason

The time change was to my benefit this weekend. I slept a lot – more than I have over one weekend in many months. Saturday, I awoke at 8:30 - which is phenomenally late for Mason. Sunday, I awoke at 6:45 – which was really 7:45 without the time change.

For my latest house project, I have decided to match the fixtures in the bathroom. The sink has Franciscan fixtures, and I installed a matching towel rack a few weeks ago. Now, I am searching for matching fixtures for the bathtub, but am having trouble. The bathtub is a lower priority, however, because the fixtures are concealed by the shower curtain. I found a match for the toilet handle, and will get it shortly. This it what my life has been reduced to: toilet handles.

Just one short year ago, Danny and I adopted Mason. It has been quite a year! Observing Mason’s growth – physical, mental, and in confidence – has been enthralling. We celebrated Mason’s anniversary with extra treats and a long walk. I also gave him a haircut and nail trimming, which he patiently accepted.

Mason at 8 weeks. 11/9/2008

Mason in October, patiently waiting for me to take the photo.