It’s a bad morning for old friends. It seems that Sammy’s Steak Den suffered a pretty bad fire this morning. A family lunch destination in Newport News when I was growing up for years, I remember the food almost as much as I do the waitresses and the clown painting on the wall. My dad had been going to it since before I was born.
It was a classic Greek burger and steak joint, with big burgers, mountains of fries, tasty (and cheap) steaks, and Greek salads (though honestly mostly I remember the burgers and the fries). I hope they’re able to rebuild; I was looking forward to taking my family some day.
Update: The original link is borked, but there are two follow-ups: it was an electrical fire sparked by a faulty outlet, and the structure has been condemned. So if they’re going to reopen it won’t be there. Waaaaaah, indeed.
I learned this morning that a Virginia Glee Club friend, Steve Bognaski, died two months ago on Valentine’s Day of a heart attack. He was 38, and left a wife and two children.
I’m kind of flabbergasted. Steve always was one of the most bighearted guys I knew, full of life, a dedicated singer, and capable of highly vocal joy. It doesn’t seem fair that he’s gone.
I count myself fortunate that I was able to meet up with him when I was in Charlotte in September 2007 for the iTSMF show. He was excited about his family’s upcoming move to Suffolk, Virginia. I am sorry I didn’t see him more often in the time since graduation.
I apologize for the plethora of linkblog posts here over the past little bit, and for their relative paucity. It’s been a busy few months. I got a new boss and transitioned from a “second product manager” to more of a lead role, at about the same time that we launched a set of significant initiatives (c.f. press release if interested, if not, c.n.f.). We launched last night, a day after I got back from a holiday visit to my in-laws, and two days into the rehearsal cycle for the last Boston concert of the 2009-2009 Tanglewood Festival Chorus season, the Berlioz Te Deum.
Like I said: busy.
Not too terribly bad, though. I’m batching it for a few days and enjoying the ability to just sit and catch my breath. Did you know that there’s this thing called television? And that, mercifully, Google Reader maxes out at reporting “1000+” unread items?
I may owe my optometrist my vision.
I was running low on contacts and considered simply calling in an order, but thought maybe I should go and have my eyes checked. Normally I only change prescriptions every few years, but about a year ago I had an eye infection and a more indepth visit. While I wasn’t experiencing any real pain, I thought I should check in anyway.
It was a good thing I did. My optometrist used a number of diagnostic tools to check up on my eyes, concluding with anterior segment photography. She then said, “You have a corneal ulcer.” She went on to explain that my eye infection had recurred in my left eye, and that a slight cloudiness in my cornea was an indication that my white blood cells were fighting the infection and that the surface of the cornea was opened as a result.
She put me on aggressive antibiotics drops, told me not to wear my contacts, and asked me to come back in two days to check the progress. So I’m not out of the woods yet, but the prognosis is pretty good. On the other hand, if I had followed my first instinct and simply dialed in the order for the new contacts, I might have seriously damaged my eye.
If you wear contacts and you haven’t been to the optometrist in a while, you might want to schedule a visit–or at least write them a note. I think they’re underappreciated.
I finally got around to ordering copies of the BSO’s Brahms Requiem recording (BSO Classics 0901); thanks to commenter SteelyTom for the prompt. I don’t, alas, have a SuperCD player or even good speakers at my disposal and am listening to it in my car and over headphones. But I’m enjoying it nonetheless.
As I wrote earlier, it’s a marathon of a piece, and the astonishing thing for me listening from the perspective of the audience is how little it sounds like a marathon. The opening is a little tricky: it’s a slow meditative movement, and there are distracting audience noises. But the second movement… I was listening in my car, which has superior sound reproduction (I love my Sennheisers, but with or without noise cancelling they trim off too many high frequencies), to this movement this morning, and had the volume cranked up to hear the quiet opening “Denn Alles Fleisch.” Brahms uses low strings and timpani to set the stage for the first statement of the theme by the chorus, then adds horns and an implacable crescendo underscored by the heartbeat of the timpani. When the chorus enters at forte it’s still a shock, a wall of sound that pushes the listener back, but is totally under control and comes back down to a simmer until it erupts again into another reprise, and then into the first fugue of the work. And I knew what was coming, and I had listened to the radio broadcasts, and I still had tears in my eyes.
I’m not an objective judge of the performance, so I’ll just note that despite some technical glitches, the final movement had me in tears again. Regarding the recording quality, I will say that if the rest of the work sounds like the first and second movements did in my car, this is to be listened to on good speakers turned up, where it will transport you squarely into Symphony Hall. If Maestro Levine’s goal was transparency, he got it: if you close your eyes, you can tell from the stereo imaging that the chorus was arranged soprano, bass, tenor, alto on the risers, and each of the instruments are clearly audible, yet there is still that fine sheen of ambience from the hall that places you precisely in the room. It’s a wonderful recording and a great souvenir for me, and I’m hoping to hear how it affects you.