New voice for the arts

The WXXI Public Broadcasting Council is proud to introduce an important new voice for the arts: Penny, the Artsy Hamster.

Born in a plastic bin in Petsmart, she recently accepted a new post as family pet, relocating to a cage in a private Western New York home. Inspired by Skitty, the popular author of “Secret Confessions from Skitty,” Penny now offers to share her considerable knowledge about the arts with you.

Her first question comes from Anonymous in Hightstown, New Jersey:

Dear Penny,

I just don’t get classical music. Most of my CD’s are from the 90’s and up, and honestly, when I listen to my classical station on the radio, I get sleepy. My problem is, I like this girl who really likes it, and when she starts talking about Bach and stuff, I have nothing to say. Please help!



* * * * * *
Dear Anonymous,

I empathize with your plight, since I feel the same way when my friends go on about the Foo Fighters.

The best thing you can do is to, a) admit your ignorance, and b) pair that with an insatiable, persistent curiosity about Bach. Ask your new love to be your guide. You might be surprised by how much heat you can generate at the concert hall.

But if you’re not comfortable being honest, then I suggest the line, “I don’t know about Bach (or whomever she’s referring to), but Mahler (pronounced ‘MAH-ler’) symphonies do it for me every time!” With this statement, you’ll declare yourself to be among the most sensitive, passionate, and obsessed of all classical music lovers and definitely worth a second date. Or at least a sympathetic pat.

If confronted with a follow-up question about which Mahler symphony you like best, always say, “The Resurrection, of course.” As you do so, lower your voice, shake your head, and choke up, implying an inexpressible depth of feeling. This will, I hope, discourage more questions and save you from exposure.

Finally, I suggest you get a classical CD and listen to it while doing something you love such as cooking, driving, or playing Resident Evil 2. Thus will you make happy, mind-altering associations.

After all, the Foo Fighters might seem a little stale when you’re in your seventies.

Good luck!

All the best,


Editor’s note: Please send your questions to Penny via this blog. Wild-Berry Nutriphase Yogurt Drops may be mailed directly to Penny, the Artsy Hamster at 280 State Street, Rochester, NY 14614.




Welcome, Penny the Insightful. Looks like you fit in pretty well around here.

Re: Penny --

Dear Animal Lover,

Thank you for sending us the link to the pest control agency. Upon reading your message, Penny gave a nervous chuckle and ducked into a pile of wood shavings. Perhaps you have a question for her about the arts? ;)

In defense of the Foos

Dear Penny,
I must disagree with your predictions regarding the staying power of the Foo Fighters. It has already been thirteen years since their debut album, and I don't think it's lost any of its appeal. Just ask my children.

Given that I will be in my seventies in a little over thirty years, I will note that the Foo Fighters are at least on par with the likes of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. Although you are no doubt similarly predudiced against these performers, it is worth noting their music is popular with old and new listeners alike, even though it is over thirty years old. So it is reasonable to expect that I will still enjoy the Foo Fighters, even then.

Of course, we should expect that the Foo Fighters, like many aging rock bands before them, will eventually perform live with a symphony orchestra. Probably at Red Rock, but maybe Carnagie Hall. It will be simultaneously released on two audio CDs or one hi-def Bly-Ray video. But I digress.