Friday, October 31, 2008


To get away from all the political noise, I watched these two movies. Both (almost) the same story; one from Germany and one from the US. The German version was far superior; better casting ~ although the little girls who play the niece in each film are both excellent ~ better acting and a more believable unfolding of plot. The role of Martha is played by Martina Gedeck, her niece by Maxime Foerst. When we come to the American version we have Catherine Zita-Jones and Abigail Breslin. Zita-Jones had no "camera chemistry." I must admit that when they were both over I did think about cooking something.

The "Rightie-Tighties" are getting more vicious every day. Their sulfurous messages offer nothing but hate, fear and despair. There is not a word of hope, of uplift, of a brighter day. It saddens me that at this time in our nation's life this sort of meanness can fill the airwaves, TV screens and newspapers. Instead of telling voters what the Republicans will do for the nation, they talk about what they can't allow the Democrats to do. That's a campaign of ideas? With this sort of talk no national consensus will ever be reached. I fear it will not get better after Tuesday, either.

Three days until the election. Don't forget to vote, early and often!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

going to Colorado

If I could, this is why I would go to Colorado to get out the vote.

Four days until the election. Don't forget to vote, early and often!

playing for change, playing for peace

Listen to this very moving rendition of Stand by Me. The song was played simultaneously by musicians all over the world. It is the brain child of Mark Johnson who believes in the transforming power of music. I believe it, too. Enjoy, and pray for change, pray for peace. Thanks to Babz for sending me this.

An interview by Bill Moyers about Mark's project and documentary can be seen here. Click on Playing for Change.

Four days until the election. Don't forget to vote, early and often!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

the thousand-word picture

Click picture to enlarge

Six days until the election. Don't forget to vote, early and often!

Monday, October 27, 2008

the annual arts festival

Each year there is an arts festival at the Convention Center in Sacramento. I have been a faithful attendee (and patron) for several years. This year was no exception. My friend Gina and I browsed up and down the aisles checking out the jewelry, paintings, weaving, sculpture, clothing, leather goods, prints, and other artistic offerings. I bought a few small things on behalf of Santa. I am always impressed how these artists are so willing to put themselves and their goods out for public scrutiny and, of course, purchase. When I bought a couple of small things the artist was SO grateful, and said so several times. I guess business was slow this year.

Then we to lunch at the Rio City Cafe on the Sacramento River. That tower you see in the background is part of the drawbridge. It was a beautiful, sunny Indian Summer day. The patio area along the river was full of happy diners enjoying good food in the last of the warm days. Rain is predicted to move in to the valley on Thursday; possibly snow at Lake Tahoe on Friday.

Last night I watched an excellent PBS program, The Choice 2008 about ~ what else? ~ the election. It was one of those well-researched Frontline productions. Revealing footage, good interviews (including several spots with Ryan Lizza, he of the New Yorker), lots of information. If John McCain had been able to decide on his "message" and had stayed on it, he'd probably be way ahead. His is a compelling story. Instead, the chaos in his campaign and his risky VP pick have probably doomed him.

Seven days until the election. Don't forget to vote, early and often!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

my campaign wardrobe

With so much ink being used about Governor Palin's pricey campaign wardrobe purchases and make-up artist fees, I thought I'd offer some badly-needed advice to her and the RNC.

My total wardrobe outlay for this campaign has been $12.95. I shopped via the internet. If the governor had spoken to me first I could have saved the campaign $159,987.05. Think of the stir she would have made all tricked out in that terrific T-shirt. And she wouldn't have to donate it to the Goodwill when she goes back to Alaska.

As for the $20,000 for her traveling make-up artist, I could have offered a much more economical way to do this. She could have gone to the cosmetics counter in any department store in the various cities in which she has appeared. She buys a lipstick (or two; one for her, one for the pit bull), for example, and gets a FREE make-up job. Think about it; Clinique one day, Estee Lauder the next, Chanel the next, Lancomb, Yves, and so on. It's easy. She would have spent maybe $15 for each tube, probably never used it, and donated them to a women's shelter. If her appearance is advertised, hundreds of women flock to the store, buy goodies, spend money. This is an all-around winner; she gets made up for free, women buy stuff, the store makes money, women in crisis get a treat, and the economy soars. She (and the RNC) could have avoided one of the campaign's more embarrassing PR disasters. But then, it wouldn't be any fun, would it?

Nine days until the election. Don't forget to vote, early and often!

Friday, October 24, 2008

the pleasure of tapas

I had a marvelous luncheon at Aioli Bodega Española today with my friend Aggie. The charming and friendly owner was born in Algeria, raised in Cordova, Spain. The menu is full of tempting treats, but the best thing to do is head for the tapas selections. We shared four dishes, and left stuffed and satisfied. The food is delicious, the service excellent. I ordered two dishes: mejillones (mussels in cream sauce; Aggie doesn't like mussels so I got to eat them all!) and albondigas (spicy meatballs; I was full by now so brought left-overs home for dinner); she ordered salmón in a caper-infused sauce with lemon and ravioles with cheese and yerbas (herbs). I have not been to this delightful spot in quite a while. I was happy to return; I'll go again soon. Maybe after the election to celebrate an Obama victory with a bottle of cava!

Ten days until the election. Don't forget to vote, early and often!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

unlikable people

The Tuesday matinee feature was "Friends with Money." This was the most unlikable group of folks imaginable. Money or no money.

Monday, October 20, 2008

the inflation Christmas gift list

I received the Neiman Marcus (Needless Mark-up) Christmas Book today. It's glossy pages are jammed with glitzy, expensive, luxurious gifts for the one who has everything and wants more.

This year's WOW! list has a couple of nice things for the yard.

First, if your yard is of a modest size, you can put 530 square yards of sporting history into your own backyard: An entire Dallas Cowboys Texas Stadium end zone. Our exclusive package also includes the VIP treatment for the last regular season Cowboys game in Texas Stadium. Your crew gets pre-game photos in your zone with Jerry Jones, a luxury suite for the game, and a once-in-a-lifetime post-game tailgate party on your soon-to be new backyard (with the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, no less). Now what more could you ask for in these perilous financial times? Price tag? $500,00, installation not included. The house isn't either. If I hadn't used up my back yard space with a pool and a deck, you know be thinking about it.

If your yard it a bit bigger, you might like the Jack Nicklaus custom backyard golf course.

He'll create a formal design plan and color renderings for up to three holes and a practice area, depending on the size of your back forty. Your construction crew (Get that? Your construction crew. Site preparation and construction costs NOT included) builds from it, with supervision from Jack's world-class design team. Now to sink the winning putt; when your course is finished, the Golden Bear himself will stop by to play the first round with you, personally. He'll throw in a custom set of Nicklaus clubs, including a personalized bag. The cost of this fanciful gift? Beginning at $1,000,000.

Some of my friends are doing house repairs/remodelings. Here's a nice addition to any home, providing you do have some extra space not taken up with a pull-out sofa for the visiting in-laws or an Exercycle.

This is an authentic Guinness Home Pub. Celebrate the 250th anniversary of that first delicious keg with our exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime gift. The folks at RiRa Pubs® will design a fully functional, traditional Irish pub and build it in your home in 2009. It will be crafted from historic Irish architectural elements and authentic Guinness artifacts. There's also a VIP trip for two to Dublin with first class airfare, luxury accommodations, and insider access to the magic still being made at the historic working St. James's Gate brewery. Plus fresh Guinness Stout for your pub. For an entire year. The catch? Aside from having to be 21 or over, site preparation costs not included. In other words, you build it and they will come. Method of delivery of beer will be subject to legal restrictions and requirements in the gift recipient's state of residence. But for $250,000, you surely won't care.

Since I am in the market for a new car, I took a look at this offering.

This black beauty BMW comes with every bell and whistle you could imagine, all for $160,000. Oh, and price excludes all taxes, title, licensing, registration fees, and transportation costs. So add another, um, $10,000.

There's also a wedding bonanza at the Resort at Pelican Hill® in Newport Beach, CA for $1,300,00, but it does include the cake. For $110,000 you can play with the Harlem Globe Trotters during the 2008-09 season (maybe the Patient would like that), have a life-sized life-like sculpture of yourself made of Legos® for a mere $60,000, or pick up on some medieval- and Renaissance-era rings being fobbed off for a mere $25,000 to $45,000.

Compared to these extravagant toys the rest of the catalog looks positively cheesy. If these goodies are just what you are looking for, call 1-877-9NM-GIFT. And call soon. Quantities are limited and you wouldn't want to miss out.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

a chicken in every pot

Last week, my friend MAS posted a photo of the chicken she was serving at a dinner party. She put me in mind of my own Romertopf clay cooker that gets used infrequently. I cook almost exclusively in clay in Mexico; that's just the way they do it. I decided to drag it out and roast a chicken for dinner. I leafed through my recipe book and found my favorite Roast Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. Off I went to the super, loaded up on ingredients, and set to work.

The recipe calls for pearl onions but I couldn't find any, so I used small yellow onions, cut in quarters. The marinade calls for thyme; I'm not a thyme fan so I omitted it. The biggest chore in this recipe is dealing with the garlic. Each clove has to be peeled and it took about 20 minutes to do all 40 cloves. Some years ago my Mother gave me a very handy gadget for accomplishing this in seconds, but it is at the beach house, alas. It's a flexible rubber tube, about 1" in diameter, 4" long. You put the garlic clove into the tube, roll it around on the counter top and the pressure breaks the hard shell on the clove and it slips right off.

What I ended up doing was laying the flat side of a paring knife over the clove and giving the blade a smart smack with the heel of my hand. That broke up the shell, didn't smash the clove and worked just fine.

Next I made the marinade in a large plastic freezer bag, sealed it up and mushed it around to combine the ingredients. I let that sit for 15 minutes to mix the flavors.

I put all the chopped veggies into the bag to marinate for awhile.

The clay pot has to be "bathed" before being used, at least the first time. But I haven't used it in so long I decided to do it again. The bottom and top get immersed in water for 15 minutes.

Then it was time to put it all together. The chicken goes into the pot surrounded by all the well-seasoned-by-now vegetables. The chicken is rubbed with the left-over marinade, gets a dusting of salt and pepper, and is ready to go into a cold oven. I added a splash of white wine here.

After an hour and a quarter I took the cover off to let the chicken to brown. I had sauteed some mushrooms and tossed them in the pot. I basted the chicken with the accumulated juices. In another 15 minutes, this succulent, flavorful, and beautifully cooked dish emerged from the oven.

The veggies were perfectly done, the garlic cloves nutty and creamy, and juices flavorful and rich. All of that, a salad, a luscious Viognier will make you a lovely Saturday night dinner. And it was also lots of fun. The Patient does the lion's share of cooking around here so it's nice for me to get into the kitchen every now and then.

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic


* 2 Tbsp olive oil
* 1/2 tsp crumbled rosemary
* 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
* 1/4 tsp crumbled sage leaves
* 2 Tbsp lemon juice
* 40 cloves garlic, peeled
* 3 carrots, cut into chunks
* 6 small red or new potatoes, quartered
* 1/2 pound pearl onions, blanched and peeled
* 1 whole large frying chicken (4 to 4-1/2 pounds)
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Soak top and bottom of 3-1/4-quart (3.25 L) clay cooker in water for 30 minutes; drain.

Combine olive oil, rosemary, thyme, sage, and lemon juice in a large zip-top bag. Squish to combine. Add garlic cloves, carrots, potatoes, and onions. Seal bag and turn until all vegetables are coated. Let sit 10+ minutes. Scoop out the vegetables (reserving the marinade) and place them around the outer edge of the clay cooker, leaving room for the chicken in the center.

Use the remaining marinade to coat the chicken, rubbing it into the skin. Place the chicken in the center of the clay cooker, breast-side up. Sprinkle chicken and vegetables with salt and pepper. Cover. Place in a cold oven and set temperature to 475 degrees F. (250 degrees C.). Bake until chicken is tender and juices run clear when thigh is pierced, about 1-1/4 hours. Remove cover, baste, and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes until chicken is crisp and brown.

Carve chicken and drizzle with pot gravy. Serve with the whole garlic cloves and vegetables.

Friday, October 17, 2008

scenes from the political season

The New Yorker Magazine held its annual New York Festival last week. Jeffrey Toobin, legal affairs writer for the magazine, moderated. I offer for your consideration the closing remarks made by Donna Brazile. Her words are those we should consider carefully in these contentious times.

My friend Deborah sent me this photo taken, I believe, after the last debate at Hofstra. Is this for real?

McCain reminds me of that photo of Charlie Chaplin taken by Richard Avedon.

Today's quote, thanks to Erin S.:
“She's governor of a state, mom to five kids, one of whom is 4 months old with Down's syndrome, and dealing with a pregnant teenage daughter. I wouldn't even ask her to bring a salad to a potluck!"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

factoid of the day

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic, we learn that Joe the Plumber has had more press conferences than has Sarah Palin.

Whatever happened to Joe Six-Pack?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

the ballot is in the mail

I am a vote-by-mail sort of person. I voted yesterday. I sent off my ballot with the hope that my hopes for my country would be realized. I missed the in-person vote in both 2000 and 2004. Fortunately I managed to cast my vote in 2000 before I was transported off to a wonderful 3 weeks in Paris (I watched the Supreme Court debacle in an apartment in the 5th Arrondisement in Paris, in French). In 2004, we had asked that our ballots be sent to an address in Paris that, unfortunately, had no address delivery available. We never got our ballots so we watched the results on Italian TV in Vicenza. This year we are here to see and hear every last result as it comes over the wire.

As for tonight's "debate", I think McCain tried his best, but Obama bested him at every turn. There is something to be said, in these perilous times, for a person who doesn't lose his cool.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

how was your Monday?

Mine was spent in the ER at Kaiser. A combination of low BP, high pulse rate, dizziness over the past several days led me (and my doc) to the conclusion that I should get checked out. So off I went, prepared to stay overnight if necessary. I am mightily impressed by how that ER works; no time wasted, everyone knows her/his job and does it well. Efficient, informed, attentive. I had an EKG, was hooked up to a heart monitor, had a battery of blood tests, a chest X-ray, talked to the doc on call. The end result is that they have no idea what's going on. Suggestions included some meds I am taking and not getting enough fluids. (The current election race was not considered a factor.) They let me let me come home, but on Thursday I return to the hospital to get a heart monitor to wear for 2 days to see if that can pick up changes in heart rate and pulse and shed any light on this problem. Meanwhile, I take my BP regularly, drink lots of water, and breathe deeply. And I should probably stop reading so much about the election.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

winter comes to Bozeman

Just in from Caitlin, this is what they woke up to this morning. This is a shot of the back of their house taken from their meadow.

It is also Ike's first snow. He seems to have caught on right away!

Meanwhile, here in the valley the wind is still blowing, the temperature has dropped, and we used our new heater for the first time last night. Time to start packing up and heading south.

Friday, October 10, 2008

at least ten tissues

The afternoon matinee movie was A Feast of Love, based on Charles Baxter's novel which I read some years ago. Morgan Freeman and Jane Alexander~ it doesn't get any better. A sweet, funny, poignant story about the human condition. I loved it. I recommend it. Bring Kleenex®.

I am joining with neighbors for a garage sale tomorrow morning. I always bring home more than I sell. That's not the idea.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

a two tissue afternoon

While the north wind howled around the house, stripping all the trees and dumping the leaves all over the place, including in the pool, I watched Something the Lord Made. I am an Alan Rickman fan; he didn't disappoint in this role as Alfred Blalock, the pioneering heart surgeon. Mos Def delivers a compelling performance as Vivien Thomas, the brilliant and talented lab assistant who carries Rickman's character to fame and fortune. As I say, only two tissues.

A couple of days ago I saw Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day with a luminous Frances McDermond doing a pretty good English accent and, my new favorite actor, Ciarán Hinds. He and Rickm are either twins or the same person.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

let the woman do the dirty work

Last night's Town Hall proved telling, not only for what was said but also for what was not said. It is now clear that McCain has sent Palin out onto the hustings to deliver his campaign's message of hate and fear. Once again, a man gets a woman to do his dirty work for him. I was positive Lee Atwater dropped dead in 1991. But his acolytes are still around. According to liberal, conservative and independent pollsters, we the people are sick to death of such tactics.

I'm tired of the nastiness of it all. So here's something stunningly beautiful for your enjoyment. This is one of the latest pictures of Mercury taken by the NASA Messenger probe. The colors are so vivid and rich. It looks like a peaceful place. I wonder if they have elections there.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

getting ready for the town hall debate

The chap who cleans our carpets arrived bright and early this morning. Yesterday we spent moving furniture out of three rooms ~ everything else is now tile, thank heaven ~ into the front patio. He started at 8 o'clock and was done by 10 am. It looks beautiful. I decided to do this now in case Belmont University has a mechanical failure and tonight's debate has to be moved west. If so, I'm ready.

All the conventional wisdom says this format is not Obama's strongest. We'll see. I am hoping it will be a substantive debate, not mere finger pointing and mud slinging. With the economy down the drain, health care a mess, education in need of salvation, who talked to whom over the past 20 years is totally irrelevant. I thought guilt by association was quashed with the Army-McCarthy hearings. McCain's numbers are falling daily, even in key red states. The hate and fear tactics are the actions of a desperate campaign. And I fear it's going to get worse. I find it telling that Palin is not living up to her "There you go again, Joe, bringing up the past" remark in the Veep debate. Am I the only one who has noticed this?

So folks, gather round your flat screen TV, get your six-pack nice and cold, and hang on to your hat. It's could be a bumpy night.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

the smear

These people will do anything.

an evening of bliss

Last night I was treated to the opening gala of the 7th season at the Mondavi Center with a performance by baritone Thomas Hampson. What an extraordinary voice he has. The recital went all over the musical map, from lieder to opera to ballads to folk songs. We heard Shubert, Liszt, Stephen Foster, Aaron Copeland, Charles Ives, Philip Glass, Paul Bowles. Each piece was a perfect gem.

Now for your Sunday enjoyment, here's a sample from Leonard Bernstein's "On the Town." And for you opera buffs, here's Eri tu from Puccini's "La Ballo en Maschera". Enjoy. If you listen to the Met Opera every Saturday, you'll hear him in two roles this season.

Friday, October 03, 2008


I knew what we were in for when I saw the governor emerge from her plane carrying the new baby. She'd been to the State University of Rove where she learned well the lesson that it's all about appearances.

As for the debate itself, it was so polite and civilized that it verged on boring. The governor had learned her lines well at SUR and delivered them with (too) bright assurance. She seemed to understand what she was talking about. It was too pat and insubstantial. The senator already knew what he was talking about and spoke with the underpinnings of experience and reflection. Her debate persona has been characterized as lively, I would call it shallow; his has been characterized as serious, I would call it knowledgeable. There was little give-and-take between them; it was more a series of forgettable one-liners. She stumbled once or twice; he overstated once or twice. She was expected to bomb; she didn't. He was expected to rant; he didn't. Both smiled but neither sighed or rolled the eyes. The WSJ loved her; the NYT didn't; the Washington Post called it a draw. No surprises. She may have disappointed and/or alienated the fundamentalist base when she agreed with Biden on rights for gays and lesbians. That may have cost her some of the base's support; it didn't cost him anything. Palin was a bit too coquettish for my taste in a vice president - too much eye-batting and winking (or is that a nervous tic?). Biden was statesman enough to overlook such silliness in an adversary. It was the triumph of form over substance.

My ideas about her have not changed. My advice: it's back to Alaska, keep your eye on Russia and polish up your maverick status. (If you and McCain are really such mavericks you wouldn't have to remind us about it quite so often.) Subscribe to a newspaper, any newspaper, and read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the content of the country you want to lead. Perhaps in 8 years we can talk again. And by then, please learn to speak without dropping your "ing"s. I'm f**k'n sick of listen'n to it!

This from the Daily Kos It's the best description I've read.

". . . I had the uneasy feeling throughout that I was witnessing a data dump from a very appealing droid. The Palindrone. Pull the string and out comes the canned reply. Don't interrupt or she'll lose her place."

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Turandot in Bejing

Before settling down to watch tonight's highly-anticipated (non)-event, about which I may or may not have more to say tomorrow, I want to report on this gorgeous documentary experience. "The Turandot Project" chronicles Zubin Mehta and Zhang Yimou (Chinese movie director who made, among other wonderful films "Raise the Red Lantern" and "Ju Dou") as they collaborate to bring Puccini to Beijing. The music is, of course, glorious, the costuming is eye-popping, the sets incredibly sumptuous and complex, the problems are legion and must be solved in a combination of English, Italian and Chinese. But they manage to pull it off.

Now let's see what Gwen Ifill et al. can pull off tonight. And they only have to speak (some form of) English.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

wordless Wednesday

You've heard of Meatless Fridays? This is a Wordless Wednesday. No words needed.