Sacred Music Friday: In the Lord I’ll Be Ever Thankful

First Plymouth Church, Lincoln Nebraska,  Ariel Merivil, conductor.


The Gang That Wouldn’t Write Straight

The Gang That Wouldn't Write StraightThe Gang That Wouldn’t Write Straight
Marc Weingarten
Three Rivers Press, March 25, 2010, 338 pages
Amazon Kindle edition $4.99

I learned of this book in another book that included it in its references and bibliography. It was a fun and entertaining read.

The bulk of the book is about the new journalism of the sixties and seventies. The author goes into detail about writers such as Tom Wolfe and Hunter Thompson (friends and rivals) as well as the editor/publishers, such as Clay Felker and Jann Wenner, who bankrolled and supported them. Fascinating stuff.

But in the beginning of the book Weingarten takes pains to point out that Tom Wolf and his generation did not invent the new journalism, a methodology in which the writer inserts him or her self into the story rather that trying to remain objective. He describes how Charles Dickens did it in the nineteenth century and George Orwell did the same in the first half of the twentieth century.

At the end of the book the author describes how Felker for the most part, though not entirely, abandoned new journalism in New York magazine in favor of lifestyle stories catering to the Manhattan wealthy, and then in his overreach lost the magazine to Rupert Murdoch.

This is a fascinating read for anyone interested in twentieth century American journalism.


the oddities of the calendar

Ash WednesdaySometimes the calendar falls in such a way that there are weird correspondences. Sometimes the secular and liturgical calendars intersect in such a way that those correspondences are strange indeed.

This is one of those years. Today is Valentine’s Day. It is also Ashbaseball Wednesday. This year Easter falls on April Fools Day. It is the sort of cosmic goof that Tom Robbins wrote about in Another Roadside Attraction. I never knew that the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter matched the time between Valentine’s Day and April Fool’s Day. There’s got to be some significance there, though I’m not sure what it is.

To add another layer, after reporting to training camp yesterday the Dodgers pitchers and catchers had their first workout today.

I’m not sure what it’s all about, Alfie, but maybe we can figure it out. Or maybe we don’t need to.


by jove, I think I’ve got it!

I have been sharing with you my attempts at simplified homemade pizza: weeknight pizza, if you will. It revolved around Trader Joe’s pizza dough and canned pizza sauce.

whole pizzaI think I finally have this figured out. Forget the Trader Joe’s pizza dough. Keep the canned pizza sauce. The Trader Joe’s pizza dough sticks to the pan unless I coat it with a thick layer of Crisco. Even then it’s difficult to work with.

In my latest iteration I made my own pizza dough using a recipe I’ve had for many years. It’s straightforward and not difficult. You just have to plan ahead. I baked the crust for five minutes before adding the toppings. I used half a can of pizza sauce. The real effort and time sink with pizza is when you try to make your own sauce.

It worked out really well. I was quite happy. I think I’ve got the formula down for simplified weeknight homemade pizza.

pizza slices


appreciating Wesla

We lost one of the finest interpreters of the Great American Songbook on Friday. Wesla Whitfield died at age 70. She announced her retirement from performing some months back as she was working to overcome an infection. More recently she was diagnosed with bladder cancer, and not long ago her husband and accompanist, Mike Greensill, let us know in an email that she had chosen to go on hospice care. She had been a paraplegic since 1977 when she was hit by a bullet. She was tired and she left on her own terms.

Terry and I were both big fans of Wesla. We knew her as a regular guest on the West Coast Live radio program. We have many of her CDs. We saw her in person multiple time. I believe the first time was at the Carriage House, part of the Villa Montalvo venue in Saratoga. We also saw her at the Mountain View Performing Arts Center.

The last time we saw her was at the Plush Room in San Francisco. It was located in the York Hotel (if I recall correctly) and we made it into a date weekend, staying at the hotel. When we got there we were surprised at the lack of eating choices in walking distance. We ended up ordering a pizza from a shop down the street and taking it up to our room. But it was good pizza and it got us ready for the show.

We loved the performance. After it was over Mike came out and mingled with the guests. He said to us, “We saw you smooching.” We were. They were romantic songs. We saw Wesla turn a wheelie in her wheelchair (or so it seemed to me) as she left the room.

She has now left the room for good, but I trust she is performing the Great American Songbook somewhere else without the need of a wheelchair.


Sacred Music Friday: We’ve Come This Far By Faith

I’ve shared this before, and more than once. It’s time to do so again, however. Mostly because I need it for myself. And besides, I love the 1970s look.


our new wine strategy

When we lived in Gilroy we had it easy when it came to wine. We had a BevMo in town which always had a good selection of wines. And we would order wine from our favorite winery, Navarro. They all sat properly chilled in the wine cooler which we included in our remodeled kitchen.

Wine RackHere in Hemet we have nothing like a BevMo, and financial constraints no longer allow us to order from Navarro. There is a BevMo about thirty minutes away, but we stopped going there when I found my scotch was cheaper at Smart & Final here in town and they settled a class action lawsuit in which they were found to be manipulating prices in their “buy one, get the second for one cent” sales.

Then Terry discovered the new Total Wines, in the same city as BevMo a half hour south of us. She was amazed at the selection. We were both wearying of the limited rotation we had with our supermarket and Smart & Final, and we agreed that we could visit Total Wines every couple of weeks to stock up. We found a wine rack on Amazon which Terry, with the proper amount of snarling and swearing, put together.

It’s good new plan and I think it will work.