Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Four Nations Ensemble Performs at King's College

On a stormy Thursday night, the Four Nations Ensemble played in the Burke Auditorium of King's College.

From the ensemble's website:
Founded in 1986, The Four Nations Ensemble brings together soloists who are leading exponents of period instrument and vocal performance to present great music from the Renaissance through the Viennese Classical masterpieces of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.
The four performers played works from Baroque & Renaissance composers Couperin, Telemann, Domenico Paradies, and Fran├žois Devienne.

As an introduction, harpsichordist Andrew Appel gave an eloquent description of emotional elements of the pieces, the lives of their composers, and the courtly settings in which they were played. The grandest of these courts was Versailles, a Castle complex like a small city, having 20,000 inhabitants. In sum, his speech gave a helpful frame of reference to the casual listener.

Although older adults made up the majority of the audience, a sizable proportion were students, including seniors Corey Roccograndi and Matt Kotch. Kotch was impressed with the how violinist Krista Feeney produced rich sounds during Telemann's Quartet IV. Roccograndi and Kotch, both casual musicians, seemed mesmerized that the four people in the ensemble could produce so much music.

I must confess that I am relatively unfamiliar with Baroque music outside of having casually listened to a few of Bach and Vivaldi's most famous pieces. It seemed the music the ensemble played had little discernible melody, and when it did in the harpsichord solo, it seemed rather unprolific. Perhaps discernible melodies were unnecessary in 17th & 18th century French courts, where lineage, as Appel related in his introduction, largely determined the important parts of one's life. Perhaps in such a static, relaxed environment, a moving, determined melody would have seemed out of place. The most notable quality of the music seemed to be encapsulated in harmonious meetings of the instruments which, I imagine, mimicked the daily assemblies and activities of courtly figures in France. With these sonic movements Kotch and Roccograndi seemed impressed.

Although Appel mentioned his like for what he called delightful subtleties in the music, besides those in the beginning of Couprin's piece, these subtleties must have all escaped me. Perhaps I have listened to too much sensational music.

My callosities aside, the audience members expressed their pleasure with enthusiastic applause. The ensemble played with prowess and the live music made the event worth attending. And who's to say the intellectual quality if the music did not affect me in a good way? Special thanks to King's College music director Robert Yenkowski for organizing the event.

For more on The Four Nations Ensemble, visit

Praise with Context

A one Dan Skok took the liberty of writing a letter to the editor in the Times Leader praising Phyllis Mundy. Because the letter was wantonly lacking context, I thought I'd provide some. I hope Mr. Skok doesn't mind. My additions are in bold, and all else is his.

Most elected officials are not volunteers; they do get paid. Some earn it, while others do not. Some give above and beyond what is expected for their pay.

I have seen the works of state Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Kingston. I have seen her help any citizen in need. She does not ask how you are registered to vote; she does not ask if you’re registered at all. She will ask, “How can I help you?” [except when it came to her pay raise, when she asked the reverse]. She will stand shoulder to shoulder with a group of volunteers to complete a project for which she gained the funding [from other people's money].

I was there when my school district, Wyoming Area, received $30,000 in grants [which she taxed from other people] to help build the Tenth Street and Montgomery Avenue elementary schools’ playgrounds. I was there when she dedicated the new fence [which she paid for with other people's money] at the Wyoming/West Wyoming Sixth Street Little League field, built with another $10,000 grant. The new police vehicles that protect us were a result of her hard work [in allocating other people's money.].

I am disturbed to hear some election-year “politicians” try to portray Rep. Mundy as self-serving. I have seen the total opposite [except for when she buys votes using other people's money].

I believe that Rep. Mundy’s picture or an article about her good works could be in the newspaper every day. I believe her interest is serving the people she represents [when she can give them other people's money].

Thank you and good job, Rep. Mundy.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fire Marino

Lift him up and carry him along
Fire Marino right away
And lay him down where he belongs
Fire Marino right away
[adapted from "Fire Maringo" shanty]

The latest Times Leader article about Tom Marino features his unwillingness to address the fact that a source in the US Justice Dept. claims no letter was issued granting Marino permission to serve as a character reference for Louis DeNaples. Indeed, it seems that along with Scranton Republican Ernie Preate, Marino has an unnatural affity for DeNaples--a casion mogul whom many NEPA residents hold with contempt.

As predicted, Chris Carney has begun to assert most tendentiously that Marino is horribly corrupt for allegedly having lied. If Carney chides Marino for a lack of transparency, however, Carney reveals himself to be a hypocrite, because he, along with Pelosi, "passed the healthcare bill in order to see it." Moreover, Carney never made any inquiry into President Obama's refusal to produce a copy of his original long-form birth certificate; I'm not equivocating Marino's lack of a document with Obama's; I'm merely illustrating that Carney is no better when it comes to transparency than Marino.

Steve Corbett claimed on air yesterday that he twice telephoned Tom Marino, with Marino answering and each time acting like he couldn't hear Corbett by saying "hello? hello? hello?" when Corbett identified himself as the caller.

Although Corbett doesn't like Obama (because Obama defeated Hillary), he has endorsed Paul Kanjorski and seems to be fond of Joe Sestak. Moreover, Corbett has a blind-eye for statist agression, and is a big-government liberal. So he may be a little biased in his thoughts about Tom Marino; but nonetheless, it does seem disturbing that Marino may have lied about the letter and then pretended not to hear Corbett in order to dodge answering questions about it.

Tom Marino has been a successful lawyer, and I believe the success has went to his head. He should have known his relations with DeNaples would cause him serious problems in the fall. (How smart it was for Carney to wait until Marino won the primary to begin hollering about his DeNaples relationship.) I believe Madeira or Derk would have been much better suited for reclaiming the 10th District for the GOP. Madeira, in particular, would have schooled Carney on the Healthcare issue. I believe it best for Marino to resign from his campaign and for the GOP to put in his place David Madeira, the primary runner-up. But this seems highly unlikely.

At the Issues & Eggs breakfast held by the Luzerne GOP last spring, Marino's short speech seemed rather hackneyed. He lauded his past as a factory worker and restaurant employee. But anyone who has worked in either industry knows that there are plenty jerks in both. Having a history of working in them would only appeal to a weak-minded populist. What I was looking for in Marino was a commitment to principles of liberty and conservatism, and in that regard he seemed to come up a little short of what I was looking for.

A certain dilema for conservatives in the Wyoming Valley is whether they'd rather put up with another two years of Carney and then possibly get a better candidate than Marino in 2012, or elect Marino now and be stuck with him until he either gets caught in corruption or becomes too old to serve. Because I don't know the extent of Marino's relationship with DeNaples & Co. and how sincerely liberty-minded he is, I cannot say which I prefer.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Quid Pro Quo for Kanjo?

News has surfaced of $1 million in grant money that Representative Kanjorski has secured for an energy institute that will focus on researching the Marcellus Shale. It will be administered by Wilkes University, Kings College and Earth Conservancy.

Despite Kanjorski's past schemes, such as the "Kanjorski Center", the $10 million dollar earmark for "Cornerstone Technologies", and plans for the thankfully never-built inflatable raft, Democrat residents of NEPA will likely be pleased that their proverbial Robin Hood has come home with more booty from taxpayers. To them, he may not be as flamboyantly satisfactory as Dan Flood, but he still gets the job done. The problem of grants such as these was covered in an earlier post, but I'd like to focus on the possible source of this million-dollar grant.

Remember when Paul Kanjorski voted for the health care overhaul last spring? His vote was necessary to ensure that a change in the funding of federal college loans became law. Kanjorski knew that the passing of the bill would mean that the handling of federal college loans would be tranferred from the former GSE Sallie Mae to the federal government.

Local Sallie Mae workers protested the linkage of the education funding change with the health care bill, and begged Kanjorski not to vote for the latter. This vote was signiicant for him because he had taken credit in the past for bringing jobs to the call center in Hanover Township.

Although Sallie Mae's stock price hasn't (yet?) exactly taken much of a hit, the Times Tribune reported in July that about 100 people lost jobs at the Hanover Twp. call center. Though it is not clear whether Kanjorski's vote and the student loan leglisation it enabled have directly led to the 100 layoffs, it cannot be doubted that his vote did seem to have a negative impact on the center.

So, I conjecture, maybe Rep Kanjorski was given a deal that went something like this:
Paul, we'll give you that environmental thing you wanted if you just bite the bullet and vote for the health-care bill.

NEPA Democrats who wanted Pelosi-care supported Kanjorski's healthcare vote, so I imagine they're happy with him. And now, NEPA Democrats concerned primarily with creating or saving local jobs using other people's money (via federal tax revenue and/or incurred debt), can say Kanjorski made up for any NEPA jobs lost via his healthcare vote with his newest "center" scheme.

On second thought, most NEPA Democrats will probably just loyally vote straight party ticket again, without needing any such justifications.

And it is certainly possibly that my conjecture is wrong, and that the energy institute is just a regular conveniently-timed, pre-election publicity bill.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

King's College Students Stop Thieves

King's College Senior Stuart Mulzac wrestled one thief to the ground while his classmate Dan Danoski chased the other thief until police could arrive at the scene.

For more, go to,0,579776.story
The main story is the heroism of the King's College students. But there are two sub-stories. First, Wal-Mart has in the past taken flak for not providing adequate security in their parking lots. Wal-Mart, it has been said, is too cheap to protect its customers once they leave the store.

Wal-Mart was cheap when it gave the heroes only $25 each, because the two probably did more security work in the 10 minute span during which they thwarted the theives' getaway than the female security guard did in her whole tenure at Wal-Mart. In other words, Stu and Dan should have gotten a lot more of a reward from the notoriously cheap Wal-Mart. Moreover, the inefficacy of unintimidating female security guards (an obvious phenomenon), may make Wal-Mart think twice before trying to appease feminists by hiring less-than adequate female security guards.

However, let not aforesaid things overshadow the heroic and noble acts of the King's College students Mulzac and Danoski.