Secular Music Friday: Auld Lang Syne

courtesy of Celtic Women’s Lisa Lambe

the decline of the alternative news weekly

The Los Angeles Times recently paid a lot of attention to the sale of the alternative news weekly LA Weekly. It turns out that the sale was to a group of Orange County investors with a record of making donations to Republican candidates.

Why do I care?

I have a long history with alternative news weeklies. During my Claremont cockroach years of the mid 1970s I could walk across Arrow Highway from my Olive Street apartment and find the Village Voice at the newsstand in the strip mall there.

When I was in central Oklahoma I was classified advertising manager and later business manager at the community newspaper in Moore, Oklahoma. When that paper changed hands I responded (right as I was getting laid off) to an ad in Oklahoma City’s alternative news weekly, the Oklahoma Gazette, for a classified advertising manager. I got the job.

LA Weekly logoWhen my late first wife Ruth and I made plans, for a variety of reasons, to move to the San Francisco Bay Area, I saw a notice in a publication that covered the alternative news weekly scene. It said a new alternative news weekly was starting up in San Jose. This was 1985, so it was snail mail and long distance phone calls, but the publisher, David Cohen (who came from the LA Weekly), hired me sight unseen as San Jose Metro‘s first classified advertising manager.

I mostly hated the environment while at the same time was happy to be part of an alternative news weekly.

So what, exactly, is an alternative news weekly? Mark Oppenheimer had a great discussion in the LA Times about this, partially in the context of the LA Weekly sale. In short he says it’s free + local politics + local arts. Exactly right.

The sale of the LA Weekly means, in all probability, one less such outlet.

That’ sad.

tostada shells

Terry and I have been making good progress learning how to use our tortilla press. We pretty much have the process down. It’s a team effort and we’re doing it well.

tostada shellRecently I decided that I wanted to try tostada shells. That is less of team effort since the tortillas are put on a baking pan and then into the oven rather than being cooked on the stovetop. We gave it a shot and Terry helped where I needed assistance. I tried 10 minutes at 400, but that wasn’t enough so I made it 15. That worked.

I pulled out what I thought was leftover tostada beans from the freezer. It wasn’t. It was leftover carnitas. It still worked. We had carnitas tostadas with fresh-out-of-the-oven shells.

A pretty good weeknight dinner, really.

an easy way to scan a document

Dropbox appI have long had the need to scan documents for various reasons. I’ve always used one of our all-in-one (printer, scanner, fax) devices, using the flat bed and letting the light bar do it’s thing. It was slow, tedious, and time-consuming.

It turns out that my Dropbox iPhone app, which I installed primarily to move photos from my iPhone to my desktop computer, has a neat scan function. You simply center the document, hold your phone still, and the app draws a boundary around the page and scans the document. It creates a respectable PDF file which you can sync to your desktop computer or send to whomever you wish. It’s much quicker and less tedious than using the all-in-one flatbed.

It works well. How cool is that?

Happy Christmas!

Here is something different for your Christmas Day: Shepherd’s Pipe Carol by John Rutter

Sacred Music Friday: Prepare the Way O Zion

Form a lectionary standpoint this belongs on Advent 2, but it’s still Advent nonetheless.

using what’s on hand

Recently I initiated a leftovers week in order to clear out all that stuff we had in our freezer. One day I pulled out the turkey we had brought home from Terry’s sister’s condo at Thanksgiving. I had sealed it up in the FoodSaver and frozen it.

Turkey Vegetable SoupThere wasn’t that much there, so I decided to make soup. I chopped it up and put it in the saucepan. I added some celery we still had from an earlier meal and then added some frozen mixed veggies that Terry had bought, wanting to to get more vegetables in her diet. I added vegetable broth I had in the pantry and then filled out the difference with water. I threw in some Penzeys Mural of Flavor seasoning. I let it simmer on the stove for a while.

I served the turkey and vegetable soup with garlic bread.

Terry loved it. It worked out well.

born to herd

When we took Tasha to the vet for the first time after bringing her home in 2005, she told us that Tasha looked like a beagle-terrier mix. We agreed given her appearance and behavior. We further refined our breed designation when Terry opened a new page on the dog calendar that a friend used to give her every year. Terry looked at the picture and looked at the name of the breed and she immediately knew that was correct: border terrier! Tasha has to be a beagle-border terrier mix.

TashaShe certainly knows about herding. If I don’t head into the kitchen about 6:30 to start dinner she’s nearby trying to get me in there. If we don’t head into the bedroom right after dinner to put our feet up on the bed and read the paper, she makes clear which direction she wants us to go.

One recent evening I didn’t need to worry about dinner as it was going to be leftovers in the microwave. We were watching the The Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special which we had recorded. It ran longer than I had expected and it was about 7:00 when we turned the TV off. Tasha made sure that I headed right into the kitchen. Then as I was getting dinner on the table, Terry went off into the front hall for some reason. Tasha went trotting after her to get her back into the dining area. (“What does a puppy do have to do to get these humans to stick to the schedule?”)

That’s our Tasha. Born to herd.

Chicken Marsala

Chicken MarsalaI recently made Chicken Marsala for Terry’s birthday. I have long had a Weight Watchers recipe in my database for this dish. It simply called for thin-sliced chicken breasts, salt, black pepper, olive oil, sliced mushrooms, flour, and Marsala wine.

I made some alterations, of course. I could never season something simply with salt and pepper. You know that. I seasoned the chicken with lemon garlic seasoning. I added butter for sautéing the mushrooms and threw in garlic powder. I used cooking sherry in place of the Marsala wine, and threw in some vegetable broth.

It all worked out well. Terry definitely enjoyed her birthday dinner.

The History of Spain

History of SpainThe History of Spain: Land on a Crossroad
Professor Joyce E. Salisbury, Ph.D.
The Great Courses
Audio download $34.95 when on sale
If the course is not on sale, check back– the sale price will come around again

This was a fascinating course that spans a vast amount of time. Professor Salisbury covers the history of the Iberian Peninsula from the stone age up until the modern day. She describes the Roman period, the coming of Christianity, the Islam conquest of the peninsula, and the Christian Reconquista which returned the peninsula to Christian control. She talks, all too briefly, about al-Andalus when Muslims, Christians, and Jews all co-existed peacefully. She discusses the Spanish empire and the various royal houses that ruled Spain. She discusses the wars of the twentieth century and on to the current decade.

As always I bought the audio version as I listen to these lectures on my walks. I could tell that I was missing a lot from not having the video, as there were lectures on the visual arts and architecture. Nonetheless, this course was well worth the price. Salisbury is an entertaining lecturer and I learned a great deal.