Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Call Your Name - Gateway Worship

One of the best worship songs in the last couple of years. I was blessed to be in the congregation the night this was recorded.

Sing will surprise you.

Gateway Church The singer/songwriter is Zach Neese. Here is a link to more of Gateway's worship music.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gastronomic Stimulus

Here are some random food links that I like.

First, a sweepstakes to enter to win lots of groceries. Yes, there are coupons and recipes involved for those interested in such things. If you're hardcore and you like to make your own pasta noodles by hand, don't bother. The rest of you go check it out.

Secondly, here is a link to the arepa con queso recipe that I like. In fact, I'm cooking some now. This is a very simple, good recipe. You need the right kind of flour, though, or it won't be right. You need the PAN Harina Precocida de Maiz Blanco which is available from many Latino or specialty grocery stores. While you're there you can get the queso blanco, too.

Thirdly, and I've probably said this before, but it bears repeating. I am a big fan of Mark Bittman. His blog, his books, his online cooking video segments. Everything he does is aimed at helping you and me, the non-professional home cook learn to prepare better food with simple techniques and better ingredients. He gets it. He knows we aren't making foie gras...but he will show you how easy it is to make an excellent curry, a superior pasta sauce, what to do with a pound of ground lamb, or how to grill vegetables in the oven. It's real cooking for real people, but it's really GOOD cooking. If you want to eat better and still live your life, you will like Mark Bittman.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Visitor

Among the several good things about Netflix is how easy they have made it for us to watch movies for which we would not normally have either the time or, because of where we live, the access to conveniently see films that have limited release.

One such was the independent film, "The Visitor," written and directed by Thomas McCarthy, who also wrote and directed 2003's wonderful "The Station Agent." "The Station Agent" is really one of my favorite films, so artfully done. I had read good things about "The Visitor" and was pleased to find it in the mailbox.

One thing I had previously noticed was how "The Visitor" shares a similarity with the former movie in that reading the plot synopsis is completely misleading. Both feature simple, almost banal, stories that are, in fact, rich and deep, and are brilliantly and beautifully told.

Although "The Visitor" boldly violates one of my few but firm rules about what constitutes a "good" movie, I still must recommend it most highly. It centers on the the unlikely relationship that emerges among an interesting quartet of characters. The only recognizable actor is the lead, Richard Jenkins, and he is not a movie star. He's one of those guys you see 3-5 times a year in various minor roles and say, "Oh, yeah...that guy." In this movie, his work is very, very good as the tightly wound (and unwinding) professor Walter Vale.

Although each of the actors is strong, Hiam Abbas, an accomplished Palestinian actress from Israel, as Mouna Khalil, is especially striking in her role. Her performance is captivating, nuanced, complex, and powerful.

It is so seldom that a film can really successfully unpack a story as well, or develop characters as deeply as a book does, but that is what McCarthy does with "The Visitor." It is a difficult story, but one well worth telling. Here is a link to the trailer - check it out.

Rent this movie.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem

"The request reads: "Children wanted for Future Temple service. Ultra-orthodox Jewish sect is searching for parents willing to hand over newborn sons to be raised in isolation and purity in preparation for the rebuilding of the biblical temple in Jerusalem. Only members of the Jewish priestly caste, the Kohanim need apply..."

Words from an ancient scroll disovered in a recent archeological dig? Or perhaps an excerpt from a Hollywood screenplay for some biblical epic? Actually, those words appeared in the contemporary Israeli newspaper, Haaretz."

Read the whole thing. The last couple of paragraphs tell why this is important.

Believe it.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


Hey, remember blogging? Way back in like 2008 when everybody would write on their blogs and stuff, sharing their innermost thoughts, posting recipes, pictures of puppies and kittens, and all about stuff their kids were doing and things like that? Yeah, those were the days.

Well as long as I'm here, I'm going to do a brain dump.


I was surprised at the visceral, emotional reaction I had today when I read this story about how the idiot dictator of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, is talking trash about Colombia. My first thought was, "Hey, I know those people, you butthead. Leave them alone!" Those are my friends he's threatening and I don't like it one bit.


I think the recent proliferation of vampire fiction, including all of it's cinematic variants, is just plain weird. I'm definitely not into it, mostly because it's ridiculously popular and because I really don't have the time for that kind of reading. But, still, I think it is a peculiar sub-genre. Okay, I confess...I did enjoy the early years of Joss Whedon's Buffy series, especially when it was in syndication and was broadcast every morning during coffee time. I also think 1987's "The Lost Boys" is a kind of modern classic, but most of the rest of it is just not that interesting to me. Somewhere, though, I bet there are several hundred graduate students in English Literature analyzing this phenomenon and cranking out the definitive theses. I don't want to read those, either.


I recently saw the Clint Eastwood movie, "Gran Torino," and liked it very much, charmed even by it's imperfections. It really is one of the best movies I've seen in the last year. I also finally saw the award-winning "There Will Be Blood," starring Daniel Day Lewis. What an absolute waste of time that movie is. Hated it.


"Sometimes people may be so appalled, so offended by what you have to say that they don't stick around long enough to hear your explanation, much less your apology."

I dreamed this statement, in this morning's pre-dawn slumber. There was a dramatic context, of course, but I barely remember it. The statement, though, I remembered loud and clear upon awakening


It is absurd, but the Indiana Symphony Orchestra is heavily promoting on TV their upcoming concert featuring the greatest hits of Queen. Please. What is this going to accomplish, really? They are going to butcher this music while simultaneously selling their artistic soul for a little coin. What a complete waste of time, money, talent, and effort. And, no, I don't have to hear it first to justify my opinion any more than it is necessary for me to drive off a cliff in order to understand how terrible it would be to die in a fiery crash.