Her Wild Oats

HerWildOatsHer Wild Oats
Kathi Kamen Goldmark
Untreed Reads Publishing (June 17, 2014), 244 pages
Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook $5.99

Kathi Kamen Goldmark was a musician, author, author liaison, and radio producer. Kathi lost her battle with cancer a couple of years ago. I knew her as the producer of the radio program West Coast Live. She wrote this book shortly before her death, and her husband helped to complete it after her death.

The novel is about Arizona, or Ari, a high-powered executive assistant in the movie business with a philandering husband. When the philandering becomes too much she hits the road with her faithful GPS. Oats of the title is Otis, a thirteen-year-old harmonica prodigy on tour with a band for reasons too complicated to go into here. For the first third of the book we see their activities separately, until their paths cross at an off-ramp oasis on Interstate 5 in Central California with one of those diner cum gift shop places that are all too familiar on that stretch of highway.

There is plenty of wit, humor, tragedy, and redemption. The climatic moment of the novel provides for more than enough karma and guilt to go around for every character, all of whom are flawed and fully human.

Don’t let the cover of the book fool you. Arizona doesn’t play the guitar, and if she wears jeans it’s only on the last page of the book.

That’s OK – the book is full of real people facing real issues and trying to cope. In my novel meter of “was I sad to leave this world?” there answer for Her Wild Oats is yes.


a new library card

Last Thursday afternoon I drove over to our local public library. It was an unusually hot day for this summer. Our backyard thermometer topped out at 104°. It reminded me of those summer days growing up in Hemet when I would spend part of an afternoon at our local library and check out books to read under the air conditioning at home. My mission on Thursday was, in fact, to get a library card.

On Wednesday Terry had taken some books she no longer needed to the library, along with a few DVD’s from The Great Courses that I didn’t think I’d ever watch again. She decided that while she was there she would get herself a library card. That got me wondering about ebooks for checkout. Most libraries have them today, so I figured the LibraryCardGilroy library, part of the Santa Clara County library system would have them. I checked out the Web site and indeed they do. I downloaded the iPad app from OverDrive, the company that handles ebook access for many library systems, including Santa Clara County. Shortly after I got home on Thursday I had accessed my account on the library Web site and connected my account to the OverDrive app. In no time I had borrowed my first ebook.

How very cool, especially since I’m needing to curtail my Amazon Kindle habit given my current career transition status.

And that’s not all. There’s a wide variety of library resources that I can access from my home computer. Those include the full, complete Encyclopedia Britannica and the Oxford English Dictionary. And I mean the original, real, costs-a-lot-of-money OED, not the (still highly useful and fun to browse) free Oxford Dictionaries Online.

All of that for free, because that’s what libraries do and what they have always done. It’s just in a different form, since libraries have kept up with technology.

How cool is that?


Sacred Music Friday: Lord, Thou Hast Been Our Refuge

Concordia Choir: Lord, Thou Hast Been Our Refuge


Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This?

DorothyParkerDorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This?
Marion Meade
Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 3, 1989), 500 pages
Kindle Edition $5.12, Amazon Paperback $14.51

Earlier this year I read a book about Lillian Hellman, so I felt it appropriate to follow that up with a book about another great American woman of letters who came of age a bit before Hellman: Dorothy Parker.

Parker, of course, is known, as the wit of the Algonquin Round Table, but contrary to what the popular mythology would have us believe, that was a comparatively short-lived phenomenon. Meade’s book covers the entirety of Parkers life, and does so in great, and sometimes excruciating, detail.

Parker’s father was Jacob Henry Rothschild, but her mother was Christian, as was her step-mother whom Rothschild married after her mother’s death. Dorothy attended a Catholic school, and her upbringing was far more Christian than Jewish. Whether for these or other seasons, she hated having the name Rothschild, and married Edwin Parker more to take his name than for reasons of love.

That marriage ended in divorce, and she was married to and divorced from Alan Campbell more than once. Campbell, however, was for many years the mainstay of her writing career.

As one might expect, Parker and Hellman did cross paths, and they became friends, if not the best of. Hellman, however, was instrumental in looking after Parker and apparently often bailing her out financially at times in Parker’s later years.

As with the Hellman book, What Fresh Hell gave me almost too much of Dorothy Parker. Nonetheless, I am glad that these detailed, well-documented books about the leading literary figures of the twentieth century are available to us.


nachos

Sometimes on Sunday Terry and I will have a late dinner/early supper, or lupper, at a local restaurant or high-end hamburger place (or at our favorite Philly cheesesteak place the next town up the road). So that raises the issue of what we eat in the evening when we get hungry. Sometimes we’ll pull some Trader Joe’s snack food out of the freezer. (You know, the kind that you wouldn’t want to admit to your doctor that you eat.) Other times we’ll put popcorn into the microwave. Then there are times when we plan ahead, and I fix nachos.

The way I fix nachos is fairly time-consuming. I bake my own nacho chips from corn tortillas. I then add refried beans, chili powder, cheese, and hot sauce to each individual chip. It actually takes more time than many of the dinners I fix.

Still, it does make for a nice snack on a Sunday evening.

nachos


life in the theater

Terry and I love live theater. We saw Phantom of the Opera multiple times during its run at the Curran Theater in San Francisco. We saw it for the first time at a matinée in Los Angeles and it was that evening that we got engaged. At the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts we have seen Cats, Chicago, Spring Awakening, Rent, and Wicked. I’m sure I left out a few. We’ve see a national tour of A Chorus Line and were at the Curran to see the opening of the revival before it headed to Broadway.

I’m grateful for the people who choose this life. It has to be hard work. You’re out there five or six times a week, and you have to get it right every time. Some of the actors on national tours have television or film experience where it may require multiple takes, but once the taping is complete it’s complete. Tim Kazurinsky, who was the Wizard in the national tour of Wicked that we saw, was on Saturday Night Live in the 1980s. That show was live, yes, but once a week’s show is done it’s done. It’s not the same on stage, but he’s out there doing it, and doing it well.

If you’re on Broadway, or on a national tour, or in a regional theater troupe somewhere, you’re out there delivering your best every time. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, anyway. Terry and I once saw a national touring show of the original A Chorus Line here in Silicon Valley. The actor playing Zack was clearly phoning in his lines. Or perhaps better, he was stepping all over them.

That is a rarity. The other 99.99% of the time the actors are out there giving it their all.

I love that. I deeply appreciate that. I salute those who choose that life.

#476806559 / gettyimages.com

knowing when to step aside

Terry and I try to make Saturday dinner a cut above the rest of the week. It’s the only night of the week that we have wine with dinner. Usually I cook, sometimes Terry cooks, and at times we split the responsibility.

Those split-the-responsibility nights are when we do surf and turf. I have my halibut and Terry has her steak. It works out well. I throw the baked potatoes in the oven and prepare the marinade for my halibut and then get out of the kitchen. Terry can then come in and cook my halibut and her steak.

Last Saturday, however, it was a bit trickier. Terry wanted my roasted red roasted potatoes, and those take less time than baked potato. So I prepared the potatoes, rather more work than baked, fixed my halibut marinade, and did some other kitchen maintenance tasks. I had barely completed everything when Terry appeared in the kitchen. It was time for me to step aside.

Terry and I cooperate well in the kitchen, but not with both of us in there at the same time. In our Mountain View rental years ago we had a galley style kitchen with its parallel configuration. We liked that. We could both be doing things and not bump into each other. But here in Gilroy, even after the remodel and the additional eighteen inches or so, it’s still a square configuration. This is not to say that we do not love our remodeled kitchen, because we absolutely do love it and are grateful for it and appreciate it every day.

It’s just that the square configuration means that means I need to know when I need to step aside. But I do know, and so it all works out well.


Sacred Music Friday: Te Deum in C

Te Deum in C by Stanford at Westminster Abbey – 50th Coronation Anniversary


synching up

I have long been in the habit of synching my Google calendar with my personal Outlook calendar. I was very annoyed that Google discontinued that capability on August 1. I guess I shouldn’t have been annoyed, since Google announced they were ending that capability two years ago. Still, the timing could not have been worse, since my company had decided that they no longer needed my services and I had a lot of Webinars and such with the career transition firm that I needed to keep Terry apprised of. I used the feature in Outlook 2013 that allowed me to export my calendar information and email it to Terry. Of course that is not optimal, since schedules change.

I was then struck by the obvious. There must be a third-party application that syncs the two. Duh. There were several, of course.

I tried a free application that did not work well at all. I then bought gSyncIt, which at $19.95 I thought to be a reasonable expense. Perfect. It does the job. I told Terry that she can always find my current schedule on Google calendar. She is happy with that.

It all works.


glad to have it back

You’re aware that we switched from DirecTV to cable back in 2011. Our Verizon DSL Internet was slower than dial-up, and we had to do something about it, particularly since Terry was working out of the house and I was working almost exclusively from home as well. We knew it to be fruitless to talk to the cable company about Internet without including television service also, and anyway we were sick of DirecTV’s death by a thousand small cuts policy of minimal but annoying annual price increases.

So we made the switch. We’ve been happy with the decision, and there has been almost no down side. We even gained access to a couple of the Monterey television stations, which was nice.

The one thing that I missed, and I had continued to miss up until now, was that our cable company didn’t have The Cooking Channel. As I wrote at the time, I enjoyed the Cooking Channel because they actually had cooking shows, rather than the reality and competition programming found on the Food Network.

For the past six weeks or so our cable company has been barraging us with reminders that they were going all-digital on 26 August, and that we should get set-top boxes if we didn’t already have them. (We did.) When they sent out the new channel guide I noticed that the Cooking Channel was one of the new additions. I didn’t dare get my hopes up, because the package and tier names listed on the guide were all new, and I didn’t know whether Cooking Channel would be part of our package.

As you can appreciate, one of the first things I did when I turned on the television on Tuesday 26 August was to see if we got The Cooking Channel. We did.

Am I 100% pleased? Well, no. They do throw in some of those reality and competition show reruns from Food Network. But am I mostly pleased? Absolutely.