Secular Music Friday: Coming Out Of The Dark

Another one of those secular songs that is sacred in its own way.


it is art to conceal art

or “ars est celare artem” in the original Latin as written by Ovid

Terry and I enjoy the spontaneous interaction among the hosts on Food Network’s The Kitchen. Well, the scripted spontaneous interaction. They all make appear it so simple, easy, and straightforward. Turns out, unsurprisingly, that it’s not.

TheKitchenlogoI have gained some behind-the-scenes insight into the production process of The Kitchen by following the hosts on Instagram. First, Marcela (@chefmarcela) posted a photo of a sit-down read-through with a room full of hosts, producers, and staff. Really. Just like a scripted prime-time drama or situation comedy. (Do they still make those?) Then Sunny (@sunnyanderson) posted a 360° video view of The Kitchen soundstage. Two of the cameras had big teleprompters attached.

They do a great job of engaging their audience and making everything look unscripted and spontaneous, but the art is in hiding the art.


variant meanings

The good folks over at Snopes soundly debunk the oft-repeated story that the popular Chevy Nova sedan did not sell well in Spanish-speaking countries in the 1970’s because “no va” in Spanish means “doesn’t go.” It just wasn’t true. Too bad. It’s a good story.

But here is a true story directly from my own experience.

In the high tech industry, and perhaps others, there is the term “FUD.” It means “fear, uncertainty, and doubt.” As in “The competition is trying to spread FUD about our new product.” In fact, I spent many years in high tech never having heard the term. It was only after that big merger that I heard management from the other company use it.

Logo_fudOnly recently have I become familiar with the Latino food company FUD. From the first time I saw one of their trucks I thought that was strange name for a food company. Fŭd? Really? So I decided to look them up and see what this was all about. According to Wikipedia, the company name is pronounced fo͞od, not fŭd. And it is in fact an acronym for Fino, Único y Delicioso (Fine, Unique & Delicious). Very much the complete opposite of the tech industry FUD.

A little research can clear up a lot.


I don’t like the math

I received a fresh copy of the Pitzer College alumni magazine, The Participant, last week. It contained a piece about the retirement of a professor who arrived at Pitzer ten years after my graduation.

PitzerftnsmHow could that be possible?

I graduated from Pitzer in 1975. I would have attended my 40th year reunion last year with my friends Laurie and Ron had Terry and I not been right smack dab in the middle of our move from Silicon Valley to the eastern reaches of the Inland Empire.

This woman joined Pitzer in 1985 and retired last year. That’s thirty years. By any standards I guess that is a career.

The math works out. But I do not like the math.


movie careers

Hollywood is a fickle place.

MusicManTerry and I watched The Music Man on the 4th of July. It was a great experience watching the DVD using our Blu-ray player on our flat screen television with the sound bar and woofer. It is a marvelous movie and it holds up well after 54 years. Robert Preston and Shirley Jones were superb in their respective roles and seeing them at the time I am guessing that Hollywood producers and critics would have expected them to have stellar movie careers.

So what happened? Robert Preston never got past being stereotyped as the Harold Hill con man. He played that role in both Victor Victoria and in The Last Star Fighter. He really didn’t have any other significant movie roles. (That’s not to say that The Last Star Fighter was a significant role.)

And Shirley Jones? There were her four years in The Partridge Family. But she never did anything that came close to her role in The Music Man.

Hollywood. It’s a fickle place.


Sacred Music Friday: Lord, for the years

The National Service of Thanksgiving celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday from St Paul’s Cathedral, 10 June 2016. Director of Music – Andrew Carwood, Organist – Simon Johnson.


a simple solution

Ever since Google Calendar discontinued their capability to sync with the Outlook calendar I have used a third party product to do that task. It has always worked well.

After my OutlookCalendarWindows 10 fiasco, in which I had to set up a new user account and set up all of my applications all over again, I discovered that I could sync not only my own Outlook calendar to Google Calendar so Terry could see it, but I could grab Terry’s Google Calendar and sync it into my Outlook calendar. Now I don’t have to open up Google Calendar to see Terry’s schedule. That is great.

The only problem was that, unlike looking at Google Calendar on the web where different calendars are color-coded, there was no distinction between my calendar items and Terry’s.

There was, however, a simple solution. Outlook desktop has a feature called Categories, which allows you to color code calendar items. For my events, I selected the color green, relabeled it “Mike” and tagged all of my events with that category. Now I have both Terry’s calendar and my calendar right there in Outlook, and my events are highlighted in green.

It’s a great solution.


The Abundance

TheAbundanceThe Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New
Annie Dillard
HarperCollins Publishers, March 15, 2016, 309 pages
Kindle Edition $12.99, Amazon hardcover $17.76

I have loved Annie Dillard since my Claremont Cockroach days. I devoured her first book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, in which she recounts a bucolic, rural, Thoreau-like lifestyle. That is the only one of her books in that genre. All of her other books cover different territory. Nonetheless, I have read most of her nonfiction since.

The Abundance is an anthology of her writings from her various nonfiction works. In reading the essays in this book, I remember most of them from when I read them decades ago. Dillard is a master of English prose, and those who appreciate that will love her work.

That said, this may not be the best introduction to Dillard. The book contains excerpts from An American Childhood, but not the best excerpts. The parts I loved most about that book revolved around Dillard’s mother, who loved to cheat at family board and card games, and who loved to play practical jokes. (Walking up to a random, unknown young man and his girlfriend sitting on a park bench, with the young Annie in tow: “Well, there you are! I’ve missed you, you know. You see little Annie here. She has your eyes, doesn’t she?  Ah, but you’ve moved on. I wish you all the best. Do take care.” And then walking off, leaving the young man to explain all this to his girlfriend.)

If you want a fresh start with Annie Dillard I’d suggest that you skip this book and read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, followed by An American Childhood.


reuse and repurpose

When I was laid off from my job in July 2014 I bought a magicJack. A magicJack is a device that plugs into both your Internet router and your landline telephone. It allows you to use your internet connection make unlimited local and long distance calls. The technology is called VoIP – voice over internet protocol. With the magicJack you get the service for the price of the device the first year and for a low annual fee thereafter. I bought it because I knew that I would be making a lot of phone calls into Silicon Valley from Gilroy, and our phone service was metered for anything beyond our local South County area. It also meant that Terry could talk to her sister in San Diego for as long as she wanted without me worrying about her running up the phone bill. We definitely got our money’s worth. The only down side was that it was only connected to the phone in my office, and people would see that number on their caller id and call back on it when we might be downstairs.

MagicJackWhen we moved here to Hemet we no longer needed it as our Verizon (as it was then) fios service gave us unlimited calling in the U.S. for the price of our phone service. Fortunately, devices such as my magicJack tend not to get tossed or recycled, but rather end up in my infamous “wire box,” full of wires, cords, cables, and various unused electronic devices.

I’ve been actively working on updating my freelance web site, and have been following the guidelines in a webinar at the Freelance Writers Den, to which I subscribe. One of the things that the moderator emphasized was the importance of having a phone number as a part of one’s contact information. Obviously I didn’t want our home phone number out there on the web, nor did I want to use my cell phone. The moderator said that she used a voicemail box that she checked occasionally. That’s when I thought, “magicJack!”

I pulled the magicJack out of my wire box and set it up. I paid for a year of service along with an additional $10 to change my phone number from a Silicon Valley area code to an Inland Empire area code. Done, ready, up and running.

The big difference, of course, is that while previously the magicJack was for outgoing calls, it is now called back into service for incoming calls. Still an economical, practical solution.

Reuse and repurpose.

My updated web site, by the way, is here: http://www.csquared.com


Pat Summitt

Terry and I were saddened by the passing of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt last week. The Monday newspaper said that she was declining rapidly and family members and former players were arriving to be close to her. On Tuesday the news spread rapidly online of her death that morning.

PatSummittThe two of us loved watching her on television during the women’s NCAA Tournament. She was an intense and energetic coach, beloved by her players. She had the best winning record in all of Division 1 college basketball – men or women.

It was hard for both of us to learn that she retired from her position after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

The morning of her death the doctor guy on the local morning news was talking about how a study said that extensive brain training exercises could help stave off the effects of Alzheimer’s in its early stages. But who used their brain more than Pat? Her career was all about using her brain all the time.

And you know what else? Pat was only a year older than Terry and me. Sobering.

Life is fragile. Embrace it while you can.