Thursday, January 31, 2008


Mark and I went to see the production of 'Amadeus' at the Pittsburgh Public Theater on Saturday night. It was extremely well done and we enjoyed it very much.

The play centers around Antonio Salieri (Tony Abatemarco) who says that he is in the last hours of his life and wants to confess what he has done. He claims to be the reason that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died. The play flashes back to young Salieri making a bargain with God to be committed to him if he allows Salieri to become a composer. Salieri is granted this and is a successful composer in Vienna. All seems to be going well until Mozart moves to Vienna. Salieri hears Mozarts music and realizes it's genius and claims that it is God's own voice. Salieri has tried to live a pius life and by contrast Mozart is a rude, crude, selfish and childish man. Mozart even beds Salieris' secret love and student. Salieri then claims that he is an enemy of God and will do everything in his power to destroy God's musician.(Mozart)

Salieri pretends to befriend Mozart but instead trys to harm his career by limiting his opportunity for students and making bad suggestions. He also ensures that when Mozart is given a post at court that he is payed almost nothing. Mozart suffers from depression and delusions, claiming that he has been poisoned. He dies at the age of 35 a pauper. Instead of rejoicing in his victory Salieri suffers because as time goes on his music is forgotten and Mozart's is played all the time and celebrated. (which is true I even own 'Baby Mozart' and they never made a 'Baby Salieri')

One of the things that made the play so enjoyable is that the acting was excellent. I particularly loved Harris Doran who played the part of Mozart. He took a very difficult role and made the most of it. I also saw Mr. Doran play the Emcee in Cabaret last year. Those roles are so diverse I feel that he can do almost anything now.

Another thing that we liked about the play is that they mentioned a lot of locations in Vienna. Mark and I travelled to Vienna a few years ago and remembered the locations and had toured several of them. We loved Vienna and would love to get back there.

In the program one of the older actors said he "is happy to make his debut at the O'Reilly Theater in such a powerful contemporary play." We found this statement kind of funny since the play is set in the late 1700's. Although to his credit it was written in 1979. (which is still a while ago)

I highly recommend this play and the O'Reilly Theater is a wonderful venue to see a production.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


The reason that I have not posted lately is that I have been watching the Australian Open tennis championships. The tournament has been taking place the last two weeks and ended today with the final men's match. Novak Djokovic (from Serbia) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (from France) in an exciting 4th set tie breaker. The only thing that I don't like about this tournament is that I like to watch the matches live and with there being a 16 hour time difference that made for some late nights. ESPN2 had the tournament on starting coverage at anywhere between 9pm and 11:30pm. I went to bed between 1 and 1:30 am every night.

I was disappointed that the Americans didn't fare better. James Blake lost to Roger Federer in a good match. Now that Djokovic beat Federer maybe Roger isn't looking quite as invincible. I have high hopes for James this year. Serena and Venus Williams both lost to young Serbian players. They both seemed rather lethargic in their last matches I hope that they are feeling okay for the upcoming season.

I wish that the Australian Open would move forward about a month to make it closer to the other major tournaments. I am sure that the players feel the same way. It would give them a longer off-season to recover and work on their game. Oh well, I doubt anyone will listen to me on this issue. I would really love to go to Melbourne and see the tournament for myself.

Now that the Australian Open is over I can get back to all the things I have put off doing.

Friday, January 18, 2008


I love to play games. In particular solitaire games on my computer. I tend to have a particular favorite for a time and then switch to something else. Laurel has me hooked on a game called Peggle right now. Peggle is a pinball type game with different challenges . The only problem is that I am very competitive and want to have the high score on all of the levels. So I play and play until I am the champion. This can be very time consuming and I get little else done.

I went through a Spider Solitaire phase recently and have achieved a 42% win record on the most difficult level. (which is the only one I play now) I have won 1682 games and lost 2295 games. Obviously that is a lot of games and covers many years of playing. I consider this to be a really good statistic but I'm not sure how it compares to other players. It may be better for me to not find out.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Book I Read Over Christmas Break

I actually read several books but the choice I made for this report is 'Breaking Back', How I lost everything and won back my life' by James Blake. The main focus of the book is the year 2004 when James went through major Job-like difficulties. His biggest decision to this point was to shave off is signature dread-locks but then he had a freak accident and broke his neck, his father died of stomach cancer and then he had a bout with zoster a virus that left his face half paralyzed and the very likelihood that his tennis career was over.

There is a lot to be impressed about with James. He is a constant reader as was his father. Education was very important to the Blake household and both James and his elder brother Thomas went to Harvard University. James left Harvard after winning the NCAA's to try his hand at the pro-tour. He promised his mom that he would go back if the pro-thing didn't work out. I have a feeling that he won't go back now, but that would be really cool if he did.

James has many good and loyal friends that saw him through his trials including his coach Brian Barker. Brian has been James coach since he was 11 years old. It is practically unheard of to stay with a coach that long especially one that is not a family member. Brian and James' father both stressed that improvement is the important thing. As long as you keep getting better the results will take care of themselves. Work hard, get better was the mantra.

When James came back form his 'bad' year he participated in challenger events even though he was granted wild-cards into tour-level tournaments. He felt the need to earn his way back and the wins gave him the confidence to move forward more match-tough. In the weeks heading toward the US Open in August 2005 James started to really come back. He made it to the final in the Washington DC tournament losing to Andy Roddick. Then came the Pilot Pen tournament in New Haven Connecticut.

This tournament was a big moment in James life. He grew up in Connecticut and many of his friends were able to come watch him play. All those friends that kept his spirits up during the rough times the year before could cheer him on. The director of the tournament sat his fans together and they became the J-Block. They had matching t-shirts and cheered James on as if their lives depended on the outcome. James won this tournament on the backs of his beloved J-block. I loved reading about this because I watched the matches on TV and wished that I could have been right there, wearing a blue t-shirt and yelling at the top of my voice for James.

The J-Block continued to cheer James on at the US Open where he made it to the semi-finals. His opponent was Andre Agassi. I remember being very conflicted during this match because I wanted James' streak to continue, but I loved Andre and I knew he wouldn't have many more years ahead of him. (Andre retired the next year) Andre won in a fifth set tie-breaker. Always the gentleman Andre said "I wasn't the winner tonight, tennis was." I agree.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it whether or not you are a tennis fan. James Blake is a remarkable man and quite good-looking I might add. He was put on people magazine's sexiest man list in 2002 which earned him a lot of ribbing from his friends. Some day I would like to go to a tournament and have James sign my book. Maybe I'll even buy a J-Block t-shirt.