Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Importance of Being Jane

Every once in a precious while, a person enters our lives that leaves such an unmistakable and indelible impression, that you know with great certainty that the mark they have left is uniquely permanent. My friend Jane unreservedly falls into this category. I have written several accounts of past dinner parties that were inevitably punctuated by Jane's always entertaining tales. This past Sunday, we returned to Jane's fabulous home for another gathering and soon, found ourselves under her spell once again.

The usual suspects arrived and exchanged hugs, filled wine goblets and caught up on each other's lives. We nibbled on assorted cheeses including group favorite Boursin, a soft Camembert, and some excellent spicy Indian cheese that Ronnie and Jeff brought. Linda and Jane were constructing their much-adored Shrimp Scampi on the stove. The ladies graciously gifted me with an antique vase and a copy of The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama for my birthday. We gathered at the table, digging heartily into a light and citrussy salad, warm bread and the bright, lemony Scampi. K and I provided dessert which became another excuse for us to make homemade ice cream. The ice cream maker hummed on the deck while we enjoyed dinner. We made Petite Fudge Cakes from Beyond Parsley, the Junior League of Kansas City cookbook that my coworker Julie lent me. They were little, sugar-dusted bundles of chocolatey gooeyness and we served them with homemade mint chocolate-chip ice cream. The ice cream recipe came from fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, of all people, and can be found online at Epicurious here. It was a wonderful meal throughout.

As we sat back in our chairs in expected fashion; filled with great food and gratitude, we were once again directed toward Jane at the head of the table, sipping from her Big Lebowski glass, as she proceeded to weave her sometimes jaw-dropping and always hilarious tales. One was prompted by me; about the very first time I would meet her... setting up our bookstore for its grand opening a few moons ago, when Jane swept in, her robust voice capturing everyone's' attention with a ribald story of encountering an apparently well-endowed zebra at a zoo. I was mesmerized by her and told my new friend Jo that I must meet her. We've been fast friends since. On this past Sunday night, she would carry on with other tales concerning a variety of subjects, including what is an obvious distaste for massage therapists.

So far, this Sunday night dinner party did not seem, on the surface at least, to be unlike any previous one. Even the most casual reader of this blog would know that the food is quite often the highlight with me and while this dinner was typically delicious, the truly cherished moments with this particular group revolve around the conversation and companionship that always evolve, and this night was no different...an evening with this group is like a security blanket for me and I cherish each and every one. However, this particular dinner party did indeed differ from previous ones. Our Jane has some challenges ahead in the coming months. We tend to look upon Jane as a somewhat indestructible force of nature and we have all, especially Jane, gotten a strong reminder of her humanity in recent days. During the course of this dinner, there was an unspoken but inescapable thread of concern that coursed through all of us but this night was not meant to dissolve into grim waters but instead keep afloat with the humor that these dinner parties are known for.

It is not Jane's style to wallow or even draw attention to herself. In fact, she will probably be displeased with the fact that I am writing about her at all. Jane seems to feel much more at home with hosting wonderful parties that highlight a friend or coworker and she has hosted them all: parties for engagements, farewells, baby and wedding showers. Now that Jane is foremost in our minds, our fierce devotion to her has us all inclined to surround and smother her with all of the powerful love we can manage. Those of us who truly know this great lady, though, know that it is not her inclination to be doted on. So we hover but don't impose, and keep a watchful eye on her. Linda will stay with Jane for some time and we will all remain ready to do whatever is asked. So allow me to once again simply offer a reminder of the delicious joy it is have Jane in our lives...

One of several tales Jane told on Sunday night was a recounting of when she and a group of her friends were asked a question: If you were only given one person to spend eternity with, who would it be? One by one, everyone in her group answered, "Jesus". Finally, it was Jane's turn and she answered, "Oscar Wilde. He could just read The Importance of Being Earnest over and over to me and I'd be just fine." Another gale of laughter boomed forth from us all and as we eventually quieted down, Jane said,

"You all have to go home now."

Shaken from our reverie but chuckling once again over Jane's signature wit, we cleaned up, gathered our belongings and bid our farewells. We all felt and continue to feel a bit reluctant to let Jane out of our sights, but her astounding attitude alone will most likely carry her through whatever is coming. Whatever she can't carry, we will all most assuredly carry for her.

We love you, Jane.

The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were and modern literature an impossibility!-The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde




Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Visit With Carolyn; A Dinner With Jim

Saturday night, we took the birthday celebration to Excelsior Springs, first stopping off to for a hospital visit with Carolyn. Jim and the hospital have requested visits be somewhat quiet and brief and so we spent a few peaceful moments with our girl. We did as had been requested and re-introduced ourselves to her as we will every time we visit Carolyn until otherwise advised. She followed us with her eyes around the room and for that day; that movement will serve as our little victory. The nurse tried to clean out her mouth with a small brush and she wasn't having it. We would later learn that success came by dipping the brush in her favorite Chardonnay. That's our girl.

We shared a soul-nourishing meal with Carolyn's husband Jim and a few Posse members at their home later in the evening. That lovingly appointed kitchen was once again alive with people and food and cooking and laughter and I was so gratified to see Jim, despite all of the external forces conspiring to bring him down, laughing and enjoying himself.

Considering all that Jim has on his personal plate, its quite astounding that he was still capable of producing such gourmet plates for us. K and I and Charlotte were recruited to help out and soon, Keith was stirring sauce and cutting fresh basil and I was rolling pita dough made from scratch and tossing it on to that screaming pita maker. Kiko arrived from a a dog show day at Topeka and brought some of her eggplants fresh from the garden and Jim mixed us some of his patently lethal margaritas: each pitcher has a secret ingredient of one can of beer. Jim then zipped about the kitchen, checking the sauce and preparing the Chicken and Eggplant Parmesans with the freshest of ingredients. The pasta maker hummed with thin strips of fresh-made pasta and the aroma of made-from-scratch foccacia bread filled the kitchen. A Caesar salad was tossed with a lemony dressing. The final result was not unusual for anyone familiar with the loving care Jim takes with his cooking...every component was a pure delight. I could have drank the sauce alone and bread freak that I am; I'm still dreaming about that incredible focaccia.

We retired to the downstairs English Pub-designed bar area where we ate, drank, laughed and commiserated with Jim. He regaled us with tales of the progress of a screenplay that he's written. It was good to see Jim unwind in a time of such personal strife. Yesterday, Jim would have a crystalline moment of pure joy that only he could and should describe and you can find it here at his CaringBridge journal. Jim and Carolyn have worked so hard to have this moment and I'm so grateful that they did.

The birthday train rolled on and it was good...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Art Appreciation

On the morning of my birthday, the K-Man indulged me with an early visit to two Kansas City jewels: the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. We recently strolled the sculpture garden at the Nelson with Ronnie and Jeff and that did indeed whet my appetite to return to stroll the art and artifacts inside the museum. Spending time taking in the wonders of art and history constitute a form of therapy for me...I find myself simultaneously relaxed and recharged once done.

I return to the comment "indulge" as Keith is, admittedly, not a museum fan and had not even visited the new, world-class Bloch Building addition. In the end, he enjoyed our visit almost as much as I did.... and I was gobsmacked. It had been such an embarrassingly long time since we had visited, that I found the architecture itself utterly breathtaking all over again. The original neoclassic building was opened in 1933 and still today its an absolute stunner. I remember feeling a tad overwhelmed on our first rushed visit and, on this day, it was to my deepest satisfaction that we were able to stroll this beautiful building at a more leisurely pace.

The original Nelson Atkins building opens into a jaw-dropping grand central hall with stately columns and abundant flourishes that have you looking in every direction. We had a delicious lunch at the atmospheric Rozzelle Court restaurant (pictured upper left, top of page); situated in a fabulous recreation of a 15th century Italian courtyard. Lunch is set up self-service counter style, but the creative food is a contrast to that style: a flavorful California Club filled with fresh avocado and a salad of mixed greens with feta cheese crumbles, dried cranberries, mandarin oranges and black olives with an herb vinaigrette. The central fountain with the zodiac theme is the tranquil centerpiece of this lovely setting.

We soon strolled the Egyptian galleries, gasping at the actual mummy (pictured at left) on display named Ka-i-nefer, meaning "my ka is good". Ka refers to the vital life force and beside the display is a prayer or "spell" which can be spoken; asking for bread and wine to "feed the ka" in order to preserve the life force. The mummy is thought to originate from 525-332 BC and the Nelson recently partnered with ATF agents to use special facial recognition software to help identify the mummy. A special presentation of their discoveries will be happening at the Nelson on Sept. 12. Go here for more info.

Continuing through the Ancient and Egyptian galleries, I found myself endlessly mesmerized by the displays. The regal terra cotta sculpture of young god Apollo (pictured upper right), ancient Roman sculptures and two magnificent crypts are a small representation of the treasures to be found in this area alone.

We walked along through the European galleries, taking in the details of paintings by famous artists and admiring the 18th century stained glass. I found some wonderful food connections in the Decorative Arts Galleries: the Folgers Silver Collection, including a stunningly detailed cake server and a seriously intimidating wine pitcher. We enjoyed the African and Native American galleries and in particular, the Asian galleries. Welcoming us to the staircase ascending to the Asian galleries is a powerful-looking Buddha statue and a display of samurai-style ancient warrior garb. Beautiful vases and ornate Shiva statues in the Southern Asian galleries were abundant. The ancient Chinese cave carving was almost hypnotic; every angle bringing a new perspective. Another carving that pairs with this one resides in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art. For me, this was all glorious.

In the newish sleek and spectacular Bloch building, more of Roxy Paine's influence could be felt in addition to the Ferment tree in the sculpture garden. The artist's computer operated sculpture-making machine, called a Scumak, is programmed by the artist to create these dendroid sculptures from molten plastic. The Scumak is always creating on full display and its a fascinating process to behold. We walked the rest of the Bloch addition; taking in the many displays of contemporary Pop and Conceptual Art, but mostly I am utterly intrigued with the architecture; a Steven Holl Architects-designed work of art itself. Every angle in the Bloch addition provides another unique portrait of the building's interior. It was also tres cool to see some of artist Robyn Nichol's gorgeous silver artwork on display. We met Robyn a few years back and attended a fabulous gallery show she created that featured the traditional dressing of an actual Geisha...it was amazing. What a grand visit with the Nelson-Atkins.

We moved on to the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art a couple of blocks away, driving past the historic Art Institute building. The setting of the this museum is certainly unmistakable, thanks to the giant Louise Bourgeois spider sculptures on the lawn and at the entrance. The Kemper's smooth and glossy interior is also uniquely adorned with beautifully delicate Dale Chihuly glass sculptures. We took in the various artwork and checked out the next place we certainly intend to have lunch: the whimsically designed Cafe Sebastienne. Chef Jennifer Maloney does amazing things with fresh, local ingredients at this little hotspot. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting this lovely chef when she attended one of the much-missed John Glenn wine tastings at the Elms. I used to assist John with those tastings and when Jennifer attended, it was clear she had a delightful personality to match her cuisine.

I was much blessed and grateful to Keith to be able to enjoy a morning of art appreciation. I felt a singular elation over this great experience but also not a little shame. These museums are free and open to the public, why am I not here on a far more regular basis? Choose your poison...ignorance, laziness, whatever. These museums are fantastic gifts to this community; absolute treasures. I am making a vow here and now to return far more often. I'm looking quite forward to the upcoming show titled After Ghostcatching at the Nelson and the exhibition The Map As Art at the Kemper.

Fully sated with creative vision and food, we drove home but not before stopping to see one more artwork on the way home, this one a tad controversial. This artwork is deliberately situated across from the KC branch of the Federal Reserve. A giant, seven-story creation, consisting of 117 multi-colored shipping containers that spell out "IOU" on one side and "USA" on the other. Clearly a statement on the federal budget that faces the FR building, its quite the sight.

That's another example of one of the big reasons I love KC. There is art everywhere in the city, from the airport to Overland Park. The art is in a wide range of styles and evokes every kind of reaction from admiration to provocation to bewilderment. That, to me, is why art is a beautiful thing.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Birthday Dinner at Lidia's; Watching Irene

Lidia's was the luscious locale for the Friday night birthday dinner. As referenced in my last post, my thoughts have been heavy with concern over loved ones and Friday itself brought some more sobering news, but we were determined to continue on in celebration and not sit home crying in our milk. The approach of monster storm Irene was also on our minds as I had been watching coverage a fair part of the day as the hurricane took its historic path up the coast towards NYC. Today, we watch as it moves into Massachusetts and breathe a small sigh of relief that Irene was not the catastrophe it was predicted to be.

As I get older, I find having a birthday during hurricane season to be an ongoing and powerful distraction. Distracted fashion would indeed be the way I'd check out hurricane coverage during younger birthdays as hurricanes didn't seem as prevalent during my childhood. I remember later being concerned for friends and in particular, for one or both sisters when they lived on the coast in Florida or North Carolina during hurricane season. Hurricane Andrew gave us some tense moments of being concerned for some relatives. My first real hurricane experience came days after moving to Jekyll Island, Georgia with Keith in 1999 to take resort jobs. In fact, it was my birthday and all managers were called to an emergency hurricane meeting in our friend and general manager Patrick's office. After a brief but intense discussion on preparedness that barely elicited a yawn from local residents but had my hair standing on end, a cake was brought in and a birthday was sung in my honor. I put on my best fake smile, thanked everyone and upon leaving the meeting; promptly proceeded to begin a session of orderly blind panic. Dennis passed by without incident but then badass Hurricane Floyd bore down and we AND the locals would find ourselves shocked to have this serene little section of the Golden Isles under mandatory evacuation. Suddenly, I'm in my new friend Annette's cramped car with her two Cocker Spaniels crawling through endless evacuation traffic towards a Holiday Inn in Macon; worried about Keith who stayed behind to help close the resort. We had lived on Jekyll Island for two weeks.

Years later, we would be packing to leave Santa Fe, New Mexico after a truly magical little birthday the prior day and watched the flickering TV detail the approach of Hurricane Katrina towards New Orleans. Little did we know how devastating that would become a day later. As this year's birthday celebrations got underway, Irene was always being watched at least out of the corner of our eyes. Thankfully again, Irene wasn't as bad as feared.

Lidia's, though, was every bit as scrumptious as anticipated. Famed TV chef and cookbook author Lidia Bastianich opened this Kansas City restaurant in the Freight House District near Union Station. Lidia's is a favorite of ours and one of my favorite aspects is the restaurant's design. Designed by famed NYC restaurant architect David Rockwell; the interior manages to be stunningly sleek but far from impersonal. In fact, even with the eye-catching flourishes such as the wine wall and the gorgeous overhead lighting fixtures, Lidia's manages to feel like a cozy farmhouse. Fresh baked bread and two house spreads lured us in to begin...fresh basil in one and the other consisting of a silky mixture of cannellini beans and black olives. Next came a tasty Caesar salad with savory croutons and a glass of Lidia's son (and MasterChef judge) Joe's signature Sangiovese. We have yet to venture from Lidia's Pasta Tasting Trio for our entree; a daily tasting of three fresh made, seasonal pastas. In this case, the Trio featured was a fettuccine sauteed in olive oil and fresh market veggies, fusilli pasta with a hearty house-made Bolognese sauce and the clear winner for both of us, a corn and leek filled homemade ravioli topped with a pancetta and shallot cream sauce. These little pillows of flavor had us sighing in bliss. We still managed two sample two desserts: a Torta Di Limone, lemon cake with blueberry jam, cardamom streusel, and buttermilk ice cream and a Budello alla Nutella; featuring chocolate and Nutella custard, caramel bananas and a crispy chocolate hazelnut crunch.

It was a lovely evening, serene and delicious at the same time.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Breathe

I sit and think and ponder and wonder....on the day before my latest birthday; my mind is blessedly alive with thoughts toward the future, but my heart is heavy for friends in distress. I just finished reading Jim's latest post and I just ache over what he and his wife Carolyn have endured these past several weeks. I encourage you to read his latest post here. Jim, as he points out, is not into self-pity, but his ordeal concerning Carolyn's health is more than anyone should have to bear. Sadly and frustratingly, though, he is indeed asked to bear even more than he should. Jim has had to weather some seriously unfortunate negativity of late and I realize once again how grateful I am that he and his family are surrounded by that most outstanding group of friends: The Posse. Jim's post also reminds me of the importance of measuring one's words carefully when speaking with a loved one...you truly never know when they may be your last.

I was re-reading an older post last night. This was titled A Surreal Day In The Life and it chronicled a particularly oddball day that ended with a first Friday Posse night at a Moroccan restaurant and a drag show. That night was great fun, a tad bizarre and we were all celebrating away; blissfully unaware of what was just ahead for all of us. After writing about the strangeness of the evening a day later, Carolyn was one of those later commenting on the post. Re-reading her comment just freezes my blood as it ends with "and its only June. Just imagine what the rest of the year can bring". Twelve days and six posts later, we would instead learn the unimaginable.

Jim speaks in an eloquence that is beyond my own imagination when he writes of his life with Carolyn and the heartbreak of her current condition. He reminds us of that vitally important lesson of measuring our words. When my sister Mona died, our relationship had been frosty and fractious for many years, mostly borne of my own fierce protectiveness of my parents. We had reconnected during the last year of her life and we talked frequently on the phone and through email. We had sadly exchanged many an angry word over the years prior to her passing but blessedly, our last conversation was heartfelt, with tinges of that rarely seen but treasured humor of Mona's and it ended with an "I love you" from each of us. I wrote of the last moments with my father in this blog and that conversation was also loving and humorous, just as it should have been. Not long before that,though, when he and Mom were in my care, tough and sometimes even heinous words were tossed my way on a daily basis. I'm so grateful that at the end, once again, "I love you" were the last words we spoke to each other. I completely stand by Jim in this and echo his statement.....the next conversation you have with a loved one may be your last. Remember to just breathe before you speak.

Jim also writes of taking care when you write because once its out there, it can't be taken back. Looking back over the blog on my anniversary date, there are indeed moments that make me wince but one perk of blogging is that I can go back and delete if needed. I haven't, though....I find even the embarrassing moments help form the progression of the blog, in some odd way. The point of The Confounded Cook was to capture my life, foibles and all. Watching this chapter of Jim and Carolyn's life unfold, I am driven even more to write this blog. What may read as astoundingly trivial to a casual reader could be a treasured moment for Keith and I or another loved one and I want to have a record of our life should anything happen to either of us. This particular record just happens to include recipes and details our passion for food as well.

So, as I look towards the birthday, I'm going to break the rules a bit. When one gets their birthday cake, they blow out the candles and make a wish. Said wish is supposed to be unspoken; lest it not come true. I'm going to take my chances and make my wish known....

...I wish for some sorely needed positivity. If you visit Carolyn in person or simply the CaringBridge journal, please offer positive thoughts, comments, prayer and/or energy to Jim and Carolyn both. Folks in my hometown: send some positive energy to our classmate Jane who needs some uplift. If I'm sounding preachy, bear with me, but its a tough reality out there these days and we need to look out for our fellow man.

Angry words are all the rage (pun intended) in the media these days, but I would like to offer some words that I won't regret...

Keith and I are honored to be considered part of the amazing Posse. They had our attention early as a fun and adventurous group to hang with, but their dedication to and affection for Carolyn has been a wonder to behold. Thank you for including us.

I am grateful for Carolyn's continued improvement. Is it happening as fast as we all would like? No. Is she making progress, though? Hell, yes. That's enough to warrant continued therapy and positive encouragement. Girlfriend's a fighter; she's got the Posse on her side to boot and we're gonna love her through this, dammit.

I am grateful for Keith's family and for my own. I'm thankful for my sister Shirley keeping watch over my Mom and for Dad watching over all of us. I'm lucky to have hometown friends who mean more to me than ever and for treasured friends here in KC. One group of my favorite friends will be getting together this weekend to help another cherished friend facing a health crisis of her own and help her through it; we will.

I am, as always, most grateful for the K-Man himself. My life with him has been the best gift of all.

As I embark on another birthday; I've got nothin' but love and gratitude in my heart, even if that ticker's feelin' a bit heavy. One final thought and a repeated one:

Breathe. That breath could work wonders. It could stop you from speaking in anger, or worse, ending a conversation with a loved one in anger. It could calm your nerves. It could help you collect your thoughts, as mine are usually scattered in the wind...hence this rambling post.

That breath is also precious. I quit smoking (again) and every day without those damn cigarettes, I relearn how sweet that breath is. My most vivid lesson in remembering how precious that breath is has been watching Carolyn be taken off a ventilator to breathe on her own.

Just breathe.



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Strange Days

Living 1000 or so miles from my hometown, I'm often understandably out of the loop and find myself calling to check on my mother and sister. Of the many concerns that swim in my addled brain, earthquakes were not even on my list. They live in St. Marys, WV and they, like many out East, experienced some rocking and rolling of a different sort yesterday. An earthquake? Really? My sister Shirley was blissfully unaware she'd been through an earthquake until I'd called her to tell her....and that makes us even as she had to call me to alert me to tornadoes touching down around me; minutes before the tornado sirens blared. My friend Kristy, on the other hand, was so excited by the earthquake, she wanted to slap a saddle on the nearest piece of quaking furniture and scream her "Yahoo"s for all to hear. Now, Hurricane Irene is barreling towards the coast and it feels like a world gone mad. 2011 has been such an oddball year, that you have to wonder if the Aztecs weren't on to something about 2012. At the very least, 2012 looks to be another stretch of strange days, so might as well have some laughs, eh?

Laughs we had indeed this past Sunday night when we joined our friends Kiko and Deb for a delicious Mexican dinner at El Patron and a night at Starlight....Starlight Theater, that is. KC's beloved outdoor theater under the stars was a beautiful locale to enjoy a live flashback to the 8o's courtesy of the road show of Xanadu. First, of course, the food..

We met at Deb and Mike's after my personal skirmish with our GPS that wound us up in a neighborhood we had no business being in. In fact, I got some great shots of the new Paseo Bridge as we crossed it a good four times, due to being lost. Once arrived, we learned that Deb and Mike were well into their second day without power thanks to the recent powerful storms. Mike accompanied us to diiner at El Patron (dig the Pitbull tune on the website!) for some Mexican grub. I committed the usual error of feeding too heartily on tortilla chips, salsa, queso and guacamole before the main entrees arrived. Keith and Mike enjoyed some hearty burritos and I loved my Tacos Marineros or fish tacos; lightly breaded tilapia with fresh avocado, lime and pico de gallo with tangy mango salsa. Vegetarian Kiko dined on Tacos Dorados De Papa; flour tortillas filled with deep-fried potatoes and toppings.

As to that musical flick of 80's excess, I have a vague memory of watching the original movie of Xanadu. The soundtrack was making the rounds on local radio, including the sounds of star Olivia Newton-John and composers ELO. The music was relatively tame and unmemorable, as was the flick. I watched the movie with Kristy, her sister Kara and their mother Mary Alice as they had HBO and we didn't (I still suffer from HBO envy; True Blood, I miss you!)..... Mary Alice, never one to mince words, proclaimed the movie craptastic and indeed it was. The one moment in the film that stood out to me was the big dance scene because not only did it feature The Tubes, one of my favorite 80's bands (LOVED their song She's A Beauty) but also some of my favorite Solid Gold Dancers, including the most badass SGD of all, Darcel. Yes, I had favorite Solid Gold dancers (gay? why do you ask?).

The show at Starlight was far more entertaining than the film, for sure. The leads were engaging and while the musical paid homage to the film, it mined a lot of laughs from teasing the film as well. I loved that they used some other ELO hits and added in some extra cameos from Greek mythology as well (the minotaur has to be seen to be believed). We got loads of laughs from Xanadu; although my biggest laugh may have come from the curmudgeon in front of me who grunted to his wife, "What the hell is going on?" She calmly answered, "Its a flashback, dear." Poor guy never recovered and took more heartily to his beer, frequent smoke breaks and occasional grumbling. Everyone's a critic.

I have to take a moment to throw some big ups to Starlight Theater; a truly unique event venue. This gorgeous, historic outdoor stage is something to behold and an under-the-stars boon for theater and concert lovers. We were blessed with a pristine evening to enjoy the show and we also indulged in some sweet chocolate and pistachio Italia gelato to make the night complete. In fact, this particular Sunday night would be the last performance of the theater season and the very next night the concert season would kick off with none other than Janet Miss-Jackson-If-You're-Nasty. Two of my coworkers, Dennis and Matt, attended Janet's show and regaled us with tales of her concert last night. I expected Dennis, our own theatrical genius, to be dancing and singing Janet tunes at work last night but silly me, I soon realized there was something far more important happening on this Tuesday. As I walked across the parking lot towards work, I heard a loud voice singing from a car pulling into the lot. Dennis then burst from his car, sporting a Barbra Streisand t-shirt and performing one of her songs in full voice. Dennis reminded me that she was releasing a new album this fine day and no sooner did we enter the music department than he saw the display complete with new Barbra cds and Barbra cutout. Squealing like a stuck pig, I thought he might get the vapors and pass out (gay? why do you ask?). Dennis went on to swoon over Miss Hello Gorgeous in the most entertaining fashion the rest of the evening. Go, Dennis!

We all have our musical tastes, some tasteful, some not so much, and all of us have a guilty pleasure song or two out there. Whatever it may be, while the world goes mad you might as well sing it out loud and dance to it with abandon. Live and let live, baby.