I had an absolutely fantastic weekend. One of which I haven’t experienced in a long time, probably since my college days back in Fargo. I need more weekends like this!

Friday night was originally slated for watching the Presidential Debate on television. There was a marginal chance that a friend and I were going to catch up over food and beers (that was a bit overdue for a couple years) instead. Being that she was a medical student in addition to having other commitments, I really wasn’t expecting it to come through. Surprisingly, she did manage the time in and we had a nice time catching up at Tully’s. I am quite pleased with the Irish Egg Rolls there, especially since I only recently took to trying sauerkraut, not even a week or two ago.

I never did get to watching the debate that night, although I did listen to some snippets of it on the drive back home from Tully’s. I had plans to watch the remainder of it when I returned home, but Holly had the TV otherwise occupied watching something else. Leaving the TV relegated to her since the debate was being recorded on the DVR, I settled into retiring for the night.

Saturday was a mildly loaded day from the start. I had plans to see Choke with another friend at the Amherst 9 in the afternoon. It was a well-spent seven dollars, thoroughly enjoying the majority of the film. It might come off a little awkward to those who haven’t read the novel, but I feel one could thoroughly enjoy it otherwise if nothing else for all the quick wit and comical situations positioned through it.

The remainder of Saturday was reserved for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra‘s opening night performance at Kleinhans Music Hall. What really enticed me into opening night was the guest artist, Itzhak Perlman. I think it’s been somewhere on the order of a decade since I last saw him perform, and I hard recall it even back from those days. Anyways, I had a mild dilemma on my hands as Holly had come down with a rapidly developing cold that morning and hardly felt in any condition to go to the performance come late afternoon. An hour and forty minutes prior to concert time (I was planning to be there an hour ahead of time), I bounced the idea off my crazy-busy friend from Saturday night as a random thought as I have very few acquaintances that would be interested in attending such a performance. Much to my surprise, she agreed to after only minor hesitation. I could only imagine how much of a wrench I threw into her busy plans for the weekend after these two nights!

The opening night concert was fantastic! The opening number (Hector Belioz’s Roman Carnival Overture was just the thing to set the opening night: something to keep me enraptured with shivers up my spine and emotional movement with the music! The applause demonstrated just how good the piece was. The second piece was 23 minutes of the Roman Festivals composed by Ottorino Respighi. Every movement flowed together beautifully and kept me as thoroughly entranced as the first piece even though it was nearly three times the duration!

Itzhak Perlman’s guest performance came in the third piece after intermission: Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1. As can be expected, Itzhak did a marvelous job with his piece. Unfortunately, I felt the piece just didn’t have as much luster and flair after listening to the two pieces before intermission. However, all in all the entire concert was well worth the ~$100 a seat I paid for it!

Upon departure from Kleinhans, it was decided we should really eat some dinner. I was introduced to a much talked about tapas restaurant on Elmwood, ¡Toro!. It was my first experience in any sort of a tapas bar. A bit on the pricey side, but the food was delicious:

    Toro Calamari, crispy with hot peppers, olives & shaved parmesan…no sauce – This is probably some of the best calamari I’ve had to date. Unfortunately, the few places I tend to eat it at have only been Chinese or eastern-Asian restaurants of not the highest quality.
    Tuna Package, Panko crusted, sushi grade Ahi tuna over spicy cherry-chipotle salsa – This was my first time eating essentially raw tuna, and it was far more pleasant than the smoked salmon I had in a Wegmans salad roll (far too chewy, the texture was just wrong). The sauce on this tuna was right up my alley…it reminded me of a hot chipotle and barbeque blend.
    Cassoulet of Duck Confit, with orecchiette pasta, cannellini beans, leeks & roasted peppers in a rich broth – This was my 2nd favorite behind the calamari, being a wonderful blend of ingredients, I could hardly pick them out individual bites of this dish. I will have to get Holly to try this…I hardly think she’s discern the peppers of the beans out of it!

So between good food, a little bit of whiskey and a lot of catchup of life and other things, we burned the evening away until midnight. It’s not often I get a friend (or more) that are comfortable just running with the night like that. I miss those dear friends from Fargo to whom I still talk to (and will get to see over Christmas, thankfully).

The whole weekend has done a marvelous job of distracting me from the looming doom of the financial bailout on Wall Street (just saw that the proposed bill is in writing, all 110 pages of it) and the painful drama of the Presidential campaigning. Shoot, here it is Monday already, and I haven’t gotten the chance to watch the debate yet. It has been a good weekend that I can look back on and smile about. Hopefully I will make more over this year…I have not had enough of them since moving to Buffalo. Between five more BPO concerts, and season tickets to the Bandits again this year, I think I shall if I play my hand right.

Let me see what I can make out of this week going into it on such a good note! *wink*

Passing along some important information. Make your voice heard if you don’t approve of this folks! Especially after McCain’s disappointments Wednesday at CBS. I don’t think he’s in much of a hurry to go anywhere that important.

Image copied from DemandTheDebate2008 website to prevent secondary server burden

And so on that note, many people including myself are upset to see that none of the independent party candidates are going to be present at these debates. Looking into this a little bit, I saw what the requirements were for participation in these debates (my own bolding below):

Pursuant to the criteria, which were publicly announced on November 19, 2007, those candidates qualify for debate participation who (1) are constitutionally eligible to hold the office of President of the United States; (2) have achieved ballot access in a sufficient number of states to win a theoretical Electoral College majority in the general election; and (3) have demonstrated a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate, as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recent publicly-reported results.

The Board of Directors of the CPD convened today to apply the criteria with the assistance of the Editor-In-Chief of the Gallup Polling Organization, Dr. Frank Newport. Of the declared candidates, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain were found to have satisfied all three criteria Accordingly, Senator Obama and his running mate, Senator Joe Biden, and Senator John McCain and his running mate, Governor Sarah Palin, qualify to participate in the September 26 presidential debate and the Oct. 2 vice-presidential debate, respectively. No other candidates satisfied the criteria for inclusion in the September 26 and Oct. 2 debates.

Fifteen percent of the national electorate seems like a rather high number considering the partisan spreads in the elections. I personally feel this number should be lower (say perhaps 7-10% range) so that way these debates can be broached with more thinking outside of partisan alignments. Granted, that’s the way the debates should already be, but I feel that with the way this election campaigning has gone so far, the questions will be answered in order to polarize their respective parties as best they can (at least for the Republicans at a minimum) and not really be a genuine reflection upon the candidate’s true thoughts and feelings on the issue.

Next election, I’m going to try to make a mental note to see if there is any way the public can influence these requirements set forth by the Commission on Presidential Debates.