Sacred Music Friday: Magnificat

Magnificat in D by Herbert Brewer (1865-1928) sung by the Choir of St Stephen’s Church, Canterbury

recipes and pictures

There was a discussion a few years back on the pressure cooker group on Yahoo! about pictures with recipes. To some folks it really makes a difference. To others it’s not so important.

GardenChickenAlfredoFor me, I like to have pictures with my recipes. If I’m adding a recipe to my database from a place like (where the recipes from most of the Time-Life mags live: Cooking Light, Sunset, Coastal Living, etc.) I make sure to download and include the picture. If the recipe is from a print publication and is not available online, I scan both the recipe and the photo if there is one.

Somehow my presentation is never like what is portrayed in the picture. Still, the photo helps to give me a sense of what I should be trying to get to.

Doonesbury revisited

I complained rather bitterly here when Gary Trudeau stopped doing new Doonesbury comics and his syndicate began doing reruns of the earliest strips. But you know what? I’m enjoying them. The strip was much more crudely drawn in those early days, but the humor is sharp. More importantly, the content reflects the values of the 1970’s. I loved the 1970’s when I was there. I still love the 1970’s. So I’m really getting a kick out of those old Doonesbury strips.

Did I tell you how much I love the 1970’s?


Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

MrPenumbraMr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
Robin Sloan
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 305 pages (October 2, 2012)
Kindle Edition $8.99, Amazon Hardcover $17.64, Amazon Paperback $9.97

Images from times I look back upon with nostalgia are a sure way to get me hooked on a new novel. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore had two of those at the outset. There was the image of ladders on rails along the walls of a bookstore. And there was the description of an ancient Mac used to manage customer accounts in the store. The first took me back to my days at B. Dalton Bookseller in the mid and late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The second reminded me of our local used book store in Mountain View in the late 1990’s.

Those images sucked me in, but the plot and the writing kept me engaged.

The narrator is a graphic designer in San Francisco who found himself unemployed when his startup went bust. He finds a job in a strange used bookstore which turns out to be a front for a secret society. That society, we learn later, is engaged in trying to untangle a code left by one of the pioneers from the early days of the printing press and typeface design. We also get a picture of the culture inside Google, down the peninsula in that same Mountain View where my used bookstore was. Google culture, as the author sees it, is every bit as much a cult as is the secret society at the bookstore.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore says a lot about our values and priorities. It was entertaining and thought-provoking. What more can one ask of a novel?

walking the 5k

Terry and I walked the Mushroom Mardi Gras 5k on Saturday. This was no small matter.

MushroomMardiGrasbibSaturday is my one day for sleeping in. And I really love taking advantage of this time. To get to the race location, get parked, and get registered for the 8:05 start (the 10k began at 8:00), we had to get out of bed at 6:15. On a Saturday.

But we had both registered in advance and paid our money. We had both been training, and I had done two walks in excess of 5k over the past month. So we did it. We were near the end of the pack, but that was fine. It was a nice walk along a pleasant trail, and we enjoyed it.

There is something rewarding about making a commitment and following through.


Sacred Music Friday: Abide with Me

Abide With Me, St. Olaf Cantorei and Congregation

Top 10 Reasons to be an Episcopalian

This has been around for a while, but I absolutely love it, and I think it’s spot on. From Robin Williams:

quote10. No snake handling.
9. You can believe in dinosaurs.
8. Male and female God created them; male and female we ordain them.
7. You don’t have to check your brains at the door.
6. Pew aerobics.
5. Church year is color-coded.
4. Free wine on Sunday.
3. All of the pageantry – none of the guilt.
2. You don’t have to know how to swim to get baptized.

And the Number One reason to be an Episcopalian:
1. No matter what you believe, there’s bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you.

a few language tidbits

I got an email with the following subject line:

Michael, Stop Fracking Now

I thought that was interesting. First, I prefer to go by Mike. Second, I am not doing any fracking. As far as I know, there are no oil or gas deposits in my back yard.

Of course, what they meant was for me to send them a contribution so they can lobby congress to put an end to fracking. I think, though, that there must be a better way to phrase that subject line.


I saw the following ad on a Web page a while back:

Simple Steps to Dating Beautiful Women Most Guys Ignore

Is it saying they will tell you how to date those beautiful women whom most guys are inexplicably  ignoring? Or is it promising to teach you the steps on dating that most guys ignore? The second, of course. But on a quick first reading I initially took it as the first.


I’ve read one Lillian Hellman book,  Pentimento. Another book of hers is entitled Scoundrel Time. I always took it as “a time for scoundrels.” But I recently read an essay in the Sunday New York Times which made clear that the phrase means, “that scoundrel, time.” How about that?

I do love the English language.


This place has been around for a while, but I haven’t written about it. Tacomania has a few locations in the South Bay, but the Gilroy location only opened up last fall. They moved into an old building that had been a variety of fast food places. They took a taco trailer, put an awning over it, and made it part of the building. I believe it was the same trailer that had been selling tacos at various locations around town. If not, the fact that the trailer disappeared at the same time they started working on this place is a very strange coincidence indeed.

In any case, they did a nice job of remodeling the interior. Nothing fancy — simple and plain, but comfortable. You go inside and place your order at the counter. The order is transmitted to the trailer, so you go outside to wait for it. When it’s ready the cook rings one of those old-fashioned front desk bells and hands you your order.

Tacomanina doesn’t work for Terry, as they rely heavily on onion and cilantro. For me, though, it’s a nice lunch when I’m getting it on my own.

Why I Read

Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books
Wendy Lesser
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (January 7, 2014), 239 pages
Kindle Edition $10.67, Amazon Hardcover $18.63

I have seen several mentions of this book since it was first published. I read an almost loving review, which I believe was in the Sunday New York Times Book Review. Most recently I heard Wendy Lesser interviewed on Forum on KQED radio. The conversation was fascinating, but perhaps that was to be expected since Forum host Michael Krasny is a professor of English at San Francisco State. In any case, I had trouble focusing on the work I was supposed to be doing since I wanted to give my full attention to the interview. It was that interview which prompted me to finally pick up Why I Read as my next book.

The book was enjoyable enough, but I realized that I would rather hear Lesser talk to a sharp interviewer than read her on the printed page (or Kindle iPad app screen, as the case may be). That said, the book was still well worth my time. As some of the Amazon reviews suggested, the book has a conversational style. And I’d much rather that than be preached at, certainly.

Lesser’s chapters have titles like “Character and Plot,” “Novelty,” and “Grandeur and Intimacy.” She covers a lot of territory. In one chapter she moves from Cervantes to Shakespeare and Chaucer to Swift and on to Mailer and Capote and their “nonfiction novels,” as she calls that genre.

One nice thing about Lesser is that she makes no pretensions about offering up any sort of canon, à la Harold Bloom. She does, however, provide a list of “A Hundred Books to Read for Pleasure,” ordered alphabetically and without comment.

In the end, I’m glad I read the book. Lesser had some interesting comments about mystery novels and books in translation, to mention just two topics.

And that KQED interview is here, if you’re interested.