Monday, January 31, 2011

Bob Schneider sings!

I had never heard of this guy until I saw him on Austin City Limits this week.  Now, I'm a fan.  He's one of those amazing musicians that continue to be turned out in Texas.  He doesn't look like he does in this video.  The hair is shorter but shaggier and he has a full beard.  In a brief interview after his performance he said he can't figure out why people pay money to come and listen to him sing songs he wrote in his bedroom.  He reportedly has a repertoire of 400 songs.  This one . . . performed on an earlier ACL show . . . reportedly is his trademark.  Get up on your feet and prepare to "shake your booty!"



This next one is even better.


Well would you look at this!

I've been poking a bit of fun at residents of other parts of the United States this winter.  Parts that seem to be covered in snow and cold weather.  But look what happened in my part of Arizona this morning.


video


Oh, I know.  It's not much.  Only a dusting.  But it certainly gave Blackwell an idea about how to spend the day.



Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lana

Allow me to introduce a good, no, a very good friend of mine.  Her name is Lana.


Lana Elmore Cochrun is the full name.  And she is an artist.

I have known her for more decades than either of us would want to admit.  She spent the bulk of her life as an art teacher in Indiana, trying to inspire the youth of her area to indulge in their gifts and their talents.

Now, she lives in California, on the Central Coast, where she has had the opportunity to indulge herself, her talent, her gifts.  She has had great success and I believe she has a great future.

You can see her most recent show at the Windward Gallery here.  If you are in her area (Cambria) I would suggest you buy her work now.  It can only get better and more dear.

Congratulations, dear friend.

Cooking follow and The Ocean View Restaurant

My attempt at making Lemon Souffle Pancakes (from James McNair's Favorites) was a fair success this morning.  Pretty simple recipe, though you wouldn't have known it by the amount of dishes I had to clean up afterwards.  I topped them with the rest of the blueberry sauce from yesterday's Dutch babies and SWMBO fried up some hickory smoked bacon to accompany.  Cooking is fun but eating is better.

And now a story of life that a good friend has just e-mailed to me.  Men may appreciate it more than women but I think you'll all enjoy it.




A group of 15-year old guys discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Dairy Queen next to the Ocean View Restaurant because they only had $6.00 between them, and Jannie Johnson, that cute girl in Social Studies, lives on that street, and they might see her, and they can ride their bikes there.


Ten years later, the group of 25-year-old guys discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the beer was cheap, they had free snacks, the band was good, there was no cover, and there were lots of cute girls.


Ten years later, at 35 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the booze was good, it was right near the gym, and if they went late enough, there wouldn't be too many whiny little kids.


Ten years later, at 45 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the martinis were big, and the waitresses wore tight tops and tighter pants.


Ten years later, at 55 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the prices were reasonable, the wine list was good, and fish is good for your cholesterol.


Ten years later, at 65 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the lighting was good, and they have an early bird special.


Ten years later, at 75 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the food was not too spicy, and the restaurant was handicapped accessible.


Ten years later, at 85 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because they had never been there before.

(Thanks, Lori!)
 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cooking

I'd like to have photos to show you but I have to master my camera and its intricacies first.

I go through one of these "spasms" from time to time.  I love reading about food, watching t.v. food shows, imagining all the recipes I could concoct or at least master. 

Well, as SWMBO pointed out tonight at the dinner table, cooking is mastered (or at least made competent) by doing it every day, for days and weeks and months at a time.  I have in the past taken on some recipe that was way beyond my talents, gotten frustrated by the results and said some version of "I'll never cook again!"

But then, at some point in the future, having watched Bobby Flay or Mario Batali or the sexy Cat Cora easily polish off a wonderful gourmet dish . . or having read some fabulous recipe in a magazine or a cookbook . . . the juices get stirring again. 

I have recently taken a look at one book in our (SWMBO says) "massive" cookbook collection.  It is "James McNair's Favorites" and I have fallen in love with the kitchen again.  This time I've decided to take it from the beginning, trying some of his simple recipes from the very front of the book, then working my way forward.  Thus I came to his second recipe - "Oven-Puffed Pancakes", which he says also are known as "Dutch babies".  They're very simple and my first attempt was successful.  I used the "standard" lemon juice and powdered sugar on them, then tried some "out of the bottle" pancake syrup.  They were o.k.  Today, I made them again, for SWMBO and I.  This time, I filled the cavity with a heated and sweetened blueberry syrup which was in the refrigerator and topped them with a bit of powdered sugar.  We both loved them.

Well, what can encourage a fledgling in the kitchen except success, right?  So this afternoon I tried one of Mark Bittmann's recipes for red pepper puree.  Again, success. 

And that led, of course, to something more complicated.  Chicken saltimbocca, which I've made before, and fettucini alfredo, which I've also made before. 

First was a salad and I found, to my despair, that the refrigerator held only a quarter of a dessicated head of iceberg lettuce for the greens.  Oh, there was some bok choy but I think that's for cooking and some romaine hearts, but I usually just tear one of those leaves off, dip it in some ranch dressing and munch it along with Friday night pizza.  So I experimented, chopping up what remained of the iceberg, adding some chopped radishes, green onions and orange peppers.  As I told SWMBO at the table, I guessed it what is called these days "a chopped salad."  It wasn't bad.

Then on to the entree.  I had some trouble with the chicken.  Ended up with one fairly large piece, one slightly smaller piece and a couple of little pieces.  The prosciutto may have come out of the refrigerator too soon as it tended to shred, rather than peel off nicely in a slice.  Then the basil leaves were smaller than I had expected so instead of two per piece of chicken, there were four or so and fastening them and the prosciutto with toothpicks became somewhat of a problem.  But I got it done, after a fashion.  (Kind of looked like a Civil War soldier sutured up on the battlefield by some guy whose previous experience was as a blacksmith.)

Then there was the pasta.  Damn!  One of my front burners just doesn't put out enough heat so I struggled getting the fettucini to a fair resemblance of al dente.  Then I (as I usually do) undercalculated the amount of alfredo sauce.  So, the pasta was a little tough and a little dry.

But. . . wonder of it all . . . the saltimbocca was wonderful.

So I am a moderate success.  And, as SWMBO was good to point out (as she cowered in the other room), I neither screamed in agony during the process nor yelled the F word once.

Tomorrow morning . . . McNair's lemon souffle pancakes.

Finally!!!

TRADER JOE'S IS COMING!!!

After years of pleading the Corporate Office has confirmed that TJ's will open a store in Prescott this year.

Here is the story as reported in today's Daily Courier.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cool cellos

I have to thank my good friend, travelin' man Tom "Tombo" Check for bringing this video to my attention.  All I can say is what I said to him on hearing it: "wow"!

Pigeons . . . for pie?

When I looked out my back window this morning, I saw a pair, a couple, a brace, of pigeons sitting on the fence.  Innocently looking around, taking in a coolish but sunny morning, thinking about plans for the day.  Or perhaps, as I am wont to surmise, thinking about nothing because their brains are too small.  But they certainly are plump.



Perhaps, if one were inclined to shoot and eat them, perfect for a pigeon pie.


Which introduces British chef Simon Goodman.



Well, I'm sorry.  Not to my taste.  But it's up to you.  At least you now know how to do it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stay Around A Little Longer

Buddy Guy (on the left) is 74.  B.B. King (on the right) is 85.  They both still play and sing some remarkable blues.  Enjoy.

Experiments with morning sweet light




Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Read It and Weep!

Here's what the national weather forecast map looks like for the United States this afternoon.


And here's what the thermometer was reading on the outside of our front window at about the same time.


Now I just ask "where would you rather live?"

Monday, January 24, 2011

True Grit

SWMBO and I went to the movies this afternoon to see True Grit.  That's the new Joel and Ethan Coen version of the great movie originally made by the late John Wayne.  Wayne won his only Oscar for playing the scruffy lawman Rooster Cogburn in 1969.  And he was great.


The new version of True Grit, while basically following the same story as in the original (which was based on a novel by Charles Portis) is perhaps a bit darker than the original.  And Rooster Cogburn is even scruffier than Wayne's version, as played by Jeff Bridges.


But he, too, is great in the role.  I was talking to another couple as we were leaving the theatre and we all agreed that while the stories were pretty much the same the two movies were different and the portrayals of Cogburn were different.  But both great performances.

The Coens are fine movie makers.  SWMBO thinks they're a little too violent but she loved "Fargo", as did virtually everyone I know.  I don't think she saw "No Country For Old Men" but I did and thought it was another great movie.

This kind of rambled.  Just go see "True Grit".  Either one.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Football Follies

I've never prided myself on being that much of a fan of NFL football.  I much prefer NCAA college games.  But nevertheless that didn't stop me from making predictions about the two championship games today.  I predicted Green Bay would beat Chicago in the NFC and the New York Jets would beat Pittsburgh in the AFC.  I further predicted that the Jets would then go on to win the Super Bowl.

Looks like I'm going to be 33 percent when today is done.  Green Bay did indeed beat Chicago.  But at halftime, Pittsburgh is leading New York 24 to 3 and the Jets only got that field goal in the last 10 seconds of the half.

So it's looking like Green Bay will play Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl and, if so, of course the New York Jets will not be in the game and thus have no chance to win it.

All I've got to say is it's a good thing I don't bet on these games.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Silly Saturday

I have to thank my pal, Forrest Proper of the blog Mutterings of a Mad Bookseller for tipping me off to this little ditty.  Hope it brightens your day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Just messin' around

Sunnny days are always good for photographing shadows in the backyard.




Thursday, January 20, 2011

The King's Speech

SWMBO and I have just seen "The King's Speech", the story of King George VI and his struggle with his stammering.  Colin Firth should easily win the Oscar, as he already has won the Golden Globe, for Best Actor in an amazing performance.  But Geoffrey Rush also should have at least a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.  Both were sensational in this enjoyable movie.

As a curious sidenote, just as we entered the theatre and were trying to adjust our eyes to the darkness, we encountered the BRD who was unexpectedly in attendance.  May I say that we all loved the movie.

Long live the King!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

By the way . . .

I would be remiss if I failed to mention yet another new blog from an old friend of mine, one Frank Phillippi who writes from the environs of Virginia near to the power elite.  He is one who keeps a weather eye on those in power in Washington.  But his blog reveals another interest all together (or should that be altogether?  Oh, never mind.)

You may inspect his blog at Vinyl Stats.  Enjoy!

Trader Joe's and construction updates

Some good news to report on the long desired Trader Joe's location in our area today.  Prescott Valley Economic Development Director Greg Fister told a meeting of the town's Chamber of Commerce yesterday morning that he'd "bet his paycheck" that Trader Joe's will be coming to this area this year.  He said it's more likely that the store will be located in Prescott than Prescott Valley but we can live with that.  There's been a huge urge by the communities to have TJ's locate here with, up until now, no positive reaction.  Of course, Greg could be just optimistic but as tight as he is I doubt he'd risk a paycheck in such a cavalier fashion.  So we wait.  But the anxiety level has been raised a notch.

Up on the north side of town, construction work is continuing on the Highway 89-A overpass over Viewpoint Road.  Workers are taking advantage of the great weather recently to make some progress.



Saturday, January 15, 2011

A turnaround?

Much has been made of President Obama's speech in Tucson this week.  Pundits are asking (and sometimes answering their own questions) if it means a turnaround in the mean-spirited politics that has been going on for way too long.  Like many of the punditry I'm not so sure the new spirit will last.  But since I have said rather mean things about Arizona's Senator John McCain a couple of weeks ago, I feel I owe it to him to praise him now.

McCain has written a very complimentary and, has been said by others, "graceful" op ed piece which will appear in print in tomorrow's Washington Post.  I suggest you read it and join me in thanking the Senator for his kind words. 

In politics as in life one can be wrong sometimes and right (no pun intended) at other times.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Space talk

Recently I recommended a new blog to you written by a long time friend of mine, Tom Cochrun.  Now Tom can get a little spacey at times, like when he sent me an e-mail with a link to this article.

Go ahead, I'll wait here while you read it, if you have the patience.

Now I've picked on Tom for years about his undependable spelling though it appears he's gotten better at that since Spell Checkers became common in computer programs.  But, spacing between sentences?  As you have probably already noted, I always put two spaces between sentences.  Now this writer at Salon says I've been doing it all wrong.  Well I'm sorry.  At this late date I don't think I can change.  It's automatic with me.  So, if you're one of those one spacers you'll just have to live with my errors.

As for Tom, here's a message for you, buddy:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Update

Work is slowly getting underway on the Highway 89A overpass over Viewpoint Road.  Slowly because as it was about to start a snowstorm blew in and it took awhile for everything to melt away.




I'll try to remember to keep you posted.

================================================

There's a function around here called the "Tuxedos and Tool Belts Ball."  Having neither a tuxedo or a tool belt, I've never been to it but here's what I'd like to hear to get those outfits dancing.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1-11-11

Today is January 11th, 2011.  In abbreviated form, that makes it 1-11-11, as I realized when I read my friend Judy's blog this morning. 

Those numbers kept rolling around in my head all day.

At first (there's another 1) I put meaning to it when I heard SWMBO stir and I went to the kitchen to make her a cup of tea.  Normally I get her teabag and grab a packet of sweetener at the same time to put in my second cup of coffee.  But today those numbers had me thinking about something I'd read recently about multi-tasking.  We seem to have become accustomed to multi-tasking, doing two and more things at once.  For example, surfing the Internet while also checking our e-mail and half-listening to the news coming from the nearby radio or television set.  Add to that thinking about tasks coming up ahead in our day, wondering if we have some English muffins in the kitchen, re-living last night's exciting football game, considering whether that was what kept me from getting to sleep until nearly 3 a.m., and a plethora of other things.  It's enough to make anyone more than a little addled as the brain struggles to keep up.  The article I read said that multi-taskers generally don't do any one of the tasks well.  We have become adept at keeping many balls in the air but we're finding less and less applause for our act.  It's the old thing of heading into another room to do something but forgetting what it was you were going to do.  That's usually blamed on getting older.  But I think it's more and more because we're all trying to do too many things at the same time.  At least, thinking about doing them.

So, I resolved to try to change that and do just one thing at a time and to try to concentrate on that one thing.  But it's not easy.  For example, just now I was thinking ahead about where I want this little essay to go in the next paragraph while I was typing this one.  That may take multi-tasking to a ridiculous extreme but I think you can get the idea.

O.K.  It's another paragraph and this is the second thought I had.  It came from the television newscast where a scientist of some type or another was saying that Jarred Lee Loughner, the man who murdered a handful of people in Tucson Saturday morning, was almost certainly schizophrenic.  He claimed this was 99 percent certain because of things we have learned about him since his heinous act.  And various pundits are now saying words to the effect of "he may not have been influenced by right wing talk radio or Sarah Palin and her map because, while he seemed to be a fan of Ayn Rand and the gold standard he also seemed to favor the Communist manifesto and books like 'To Kill a Mockingbird'."  Maybe his brain couldn't handle all that multi-tasking and just . . broke.

So where do I go from here?  I don't believe I have any good solutions to anything right now, except to go to sleep tonight and be thankful that tomorrow will be merely 1-12-11.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Assassination: A Way of Life

We were stunned today to hear of the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson.  As it stands now, she is out of surgery and expected to survive, even though she was shot in the head at a political event outside a grocery store in Tucson.  Also as it stands now, 17 other people were shot and at least five of them were killed, including a 9 year old girl and a federal judge.  The perpetrator of all this violence was said to be a young man, 21 or 22 years of age, armed with some type of automatic weapon.  Amazingly in this day and age, he was taken into custody before he could do damage to himself.

This sad news brings me to think of other such tragedies.  Too close together were the murders of President John F. Kennedy, his brother Senator Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King and the wounding of Governor George Wallace.  There also was the murder some years later of John Lennon.  When all of those horrible acts took place, I was working as a newsman in radio and television.  While I was thrown into the frantic scuffle of trying to report on those incidents it was also a sad and horrifying event for me as well as the great majority of my fellow Americans.

Will this madness never end? 

When will we ever learn?

Friday, January 7, 2011

A fantasy day

So I was out today admiring the show being put on by the clouds in a beautiful blue sky.



When something came into view!  I snapped a quick picture, almost out of frame of this . . . could it be?  An honest to gosh flying saucer?

Then something else appeared.  A helicopter!  Apparently in pursuit of this unearthly object.

Maybe I wasn't crazy after all.  Obviously the helicopter pilot had seen what I had seen.

But then the helicopter came lower and lower and eventually landed at a nearby hospital.  It wasn't chasing the flying saucer after all.

So - - - -

Oh, all right.  The mystery is over.  I actually inverted the photo.  Here's one taken from a little further away, not inverted.


My flying saucer was actually the top of a street light, with a little trickery by me in the photo editing stage.  There are many of these modernistic light poles in our town.

So back to the clouds, where apparently my head has been today.  This time I included a bit of the mountains in the lower right corner for perspective.



You're probably thinking "it's about time you got some perspective, Catalyst!"

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Big Bucks!

I noted the other night that one of the two winners of a 380 million dollar jackpot in the lottery game Mega Millions bought his/her ticket in Post Falls, Idaho.  I happen to know someone from that town, up there between Washington and Montana.  I just sent the person an e-mail saying I hoped it was theirs.

Tonight on television the other winner, a man from Washington state not far from Post Falls, was shown after he came in with his wife to claim his 190 million dollar prize.  He told how he had come in to the bedroom, wakened his wife and showed her the winning numbers and his winning ticket.  He said it would last for generations because "we're not going to blow this!"

I have dreamed for years about "winning the big one".  Quite a while back, we won around $1,200 in a lottery game right before Christmas.  I don't remember what we did with the money but it certainly made that year's Christmas bills go away.  Incidentally, we've probably spent that 12 c-notes on more lottery tickets with never a big winner.  $3, $4, $7 . . that's about our take and lots and lots of losing tickets. 

SWMBO and I have seriously thought for a long time how we would handle a super big money win in one of those games.  Of course, our heirs would be well-fixed, probably even the ones that rarely speak to us.  You just know the phone would start to ring more regularly.  We used to travel quite a bit and, hopefully, we would do much more of that.  But, we're pretty well fixed with "things".  So, other than a new car, a new place to live and . . and . . and . .    Well?  What would we do with all that money?

But as the commercials say - "You can't win if you don't play."

-----

update: My acquaintance in Idaho has just e-mailed back to say he didn't win.  He said when he went in to the office to claim his share of the big prize he was told he had to buy a ticket to win.  As he put it: "Details, details."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cold Lake Watson

 Brrrrr!


No kayaks on the lake today.


But if you click on these photos to magnify them, you will see quite a few ducks enjoying nice cool swimming weather.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Maverick changes

I was driving past a gas station/convenience store today and noticed the sign: Maverik.

I guess I'm like most everybody else.  Whenever I hear that word, no matter how it's spelled, I think of one thing: John McCain.

There was a time, in 2000 and again in 2008, when McCain claimed that title.  I think the news media first branded him with it but McCain took it on proudly.  Now . . . he says he never was a maverick.  Huh?

Of course, McCain spent part of his early adulthood bombing the Vietnamese.  Then, after being shot down, he spent quite a few years being mistreated as a prisoner of war.  Now?  Hugs.


Speaking of which, McCain has become quite a hugger.  Here he is with Rudy Giuliani.


And George W. Bush.


And his Independent but mostly Democrat pal Joe Lieberman.


And, of course, his running mate in 2008, loony Sarah Palin.


Even the guy who trounced him in the 2008 election, President Barack Obama.


So, what became of John McCain?  The Maverick?  The lovable hugger?  Well it's a mystery to most everyone but he still seems bitter about losing the presidency.  Twice, if you count Bush knocking him out in the primaries in 2000.  He seems to do nearly nothing except oppose everything Obama proposes.  Many people have said he just seems like a bitter old man.  In short, he has become this:


Monday, January 3, 2011

January 3rd

I've been quiet since my burst around the end of one year and the beginning of a new one.  There's nothing wrong.  I just haven't been inspired.  Watching a lot of football on television, including tonight's stunning trouncing of Virginia Tech by Stanford at the Orange Bowl.  I had an uncle once who spent time at Stanford, actually living in Herbert Hoover's house for a time, snitching oranges from his tree outside an upper floor window.  I saw that Condoleeza Rice made it to the game, as she did when the Stanford women's basketball team ended Connecticut's run at 90 victories.  Guess she needs a little face time these days. 

I'm presently reading "The Last Stand" by Pulitzer finalist Nathaniel Philbrick about the campaign that led up to Sitting Bull's decisive victory over George Armstrong Custer and his troops.  It all took place in southeastern Montana, not too far from where I was born and spent my first 29 years in the Dakotas.  Good book.  If you like histories of the West.  The Indians win . . . for a time.

So . . . enough until another day and some more inspiration.

Oh, almost forgot.  It's warming a bit.  Temperature rose to 40 today under sunny skies.  It will get slightly warmer throughout the week.  And that makes me glad!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Yet another year

Made it.  Again.

The eve was quiet.  I was fiddling with my computer.  Didn't even watch the ball come down in New York.  Tuned in for a moment earlier and got sick of Anderson Cooper and that horrid woman they team him with so turned to PBS and a program of piano music featuring Lang Lang and the New York Philharmonic.  Much more peaceful.

To bed long before midnight and a good sleep.

It is very cold outside.  21 degrees in the early afternoon.  Got down to 3 below zero last night.  But . . it's a new year and the sun is shining.