Sunday, June 29, 2008

Tortilla Beef Bake Recipe

I made a fantastic recipe tonight, and I'll have plenty of leftovers for the week.

Here's my doctored up recipe.

Tortilla Beef Bake

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 can Mexican style kidney beans (liquid drained, and then mash beans)
2 1/2 cups crushed toritilla chips, divided
1 (16 oz) jar salsa
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar or Mexican cheese


In a skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in soup and mashed beans. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups tortilla chips in a greased shallow 2 1/2 qt. baking dish. Top with beef mixture, salsa and cheese.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with the remianing chips. Bake 3 minutes longer or unitl chips are lightly toasted.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Jeffery Deaver - The rest of the story

We went to see Jeffery Deaver today, and he was great! He has such a dry sense of humor, with a lot of irony. Who would know from his scary books?

He read from his writer's diary, which was really funny. He did everything he could to avoid writing the "dreaded" last chapter. Bought dog food, etc. And, he told really funny stories. All of that, plus pictures, are on my blog.

What isn't on my blog is the story of how Jim met him in the restroom. He saw him arrive outside, and told us he was here. Well, we were way early, because I always want a good seat. So, Jim went to the restroom, and he and Deaver were standing beside each other, and Jim said, "I love your Lincoln Rhyme books." And Jeffery said, "Well, thanks, but I don't think now is a good time to shake hands." Well, after they'd washed, they shook hands, and talked politics. Jim had on his "Obama is my Homeboy," shirt, and Jeffery said he really liked Jim's shirt. And, he asked about McCain and Arizona. Jim said he isn't as popular in Arizona as people think. So, Jeffery told Jim a really funny story about Texas politics.

Anyways, when it came time for questions after the program, Jim raised his hand, and Jeffery said, Jim, I'll get to you. I'm going to call on this woman first. So, he even remembered Jim's name. And, then he did say, Jim, when he called on him. So, by the time it was time for autographs and pictures, I just asked if I could get a picture of him with Jim. I didn't have to say my husband, or anything. And, Jeffery whispered to him, "Now, we can shake hands."

So, here's the blog entry that was posted on Lesa's Book Critiques.

Jeffery Deaver was in the Valley today, to appear at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, promoting his latest Lincoln Rhyme book, The Broken Window. Since he was in town, he appeared this afternoon at Sunrise Mountain Library in Peoria, and The Poisoned Pen sold the books at the library.

He was introduced as the winner of the Ian Fleming Dagger Award. His books have been translated into twenty-seven languages. He's an Edgar nominee, who has been writing since 1988.

Jeffery Deaver began by asking the audience a series of questions that we were to silently answer. These were questions such as, have you ever been married? Have you ever been divorced? Have you ever had a credit card? Have you ever sent email? Have you used loyalty cards at a grocery store? Have you done research on Google? He said, if you've done any of these things, you are in deep trouble. At least, according to The Broken Window, you're in
trouble. Deaver said he loves creating villains. His villain in this book is called 522, because his first apparent murder was on May 22.

Data mining is important in this book. He explained data mining as getting access to data by going through information to get gold. For instance, you may receive direct mail for a product you bought before. Data mining has good parts. But, his villain takes all that mined information, and uses the information to get close to the victims, and then uses it to find innocent individuals in an area, with no alibi, and plants the evidence at that person's home. The mistake 522 makes is in picking Arthur Rhyme, Lincoln's cousin, to frame. He picks the wrong person. The evidence lines up too carefully for Lincoln. The book reveals more about Rhyme's family and childhood. As in other books by Deaver, it covers a period of 48 hours, and has lots of twists and turns. It has lots of esoteric information, about identity theft, data mining, and loss of privacy. Deaver then said, he wrote the book, but he won't read from it to the audience. He said his job is to write it, and ours is to read it.

Instead, he told us he would read from his diary. What a terrific experience! Jeffery Deaver has a very dry sense of humor, with a very ironic tone. He skipped from one year to another, to give us a taste of an author's life. He related the story of his first tour, and an appearance with a big author. When the moderator asked her whether she outlined, she went on about no author worth his salt would outline, and it was just she and her muse. She said only hacks outline. Deaver, who spends eight months outlining a book, could hardly respond that he was a hack who outlined. Instead, after listening to her, he said he outlined just a little.

In Italy, he was asked "When are you going to write real books?" He responded, "Who says crime books aren't real books?" and when the interviewer mentioned critics, Deaver ranted about critics who sit in ivory towers and can't write. Afterward, he was told the man was one of the preeminent Italian critics.

Throughout the diary reading, on various days, he mentioned the "dreaded chapter," as he tried to write the last chapter of the book. He had every excuse in the book, from buying dog food, to stopping at five o'clock. He hates writing that last chapter.

When he would mention a bad experience, he would often follow up with the silver lining. The contrasts were amusing.

One entry told of a conflict with dealing with a Hollywood studio over Deaver's book, A Maiden's Grave. They wanted to call "Dead Silence," because it had no maiden, and no grave, and the movie audience wouldn't get the subtle meaning from the book. Deaver said, well, this same studio made "Barbarians at the Gate", and it didn't have barbarians, and it didn't have a gate. They still wanted to call it "Dead Silence." Deaver is very fatalistic in accepting the worlds of publishing and Hollywood. He said there is some stupidity in the world, and these were just some crazy anecdotes about writing.

After finishing his reading, Deaver asked for questions from the audience. He said he does teaching, so he was perfectly willing to call on us if no one had questions.

He was asked about the submission of his first book, and he said he submitted it to fifty publishers before it was accepted. According to Deaver, "Rejection is not a brick wall. It's a speed bump." He said it's all subjective with publishers anyways. When he was working in publishing, William Styron passed on Michener's Hawaii. He was later fired. At the time Jeffery Deaver submitted his book, authors could send them directly to publishers. Now, everyone has to send it to agents first.

Jim asked how he came up with the character of Lincoln Rhyme. Rhyme is a forensic detective, and The Broken Window is the eighth book in the series. He is a quadriplegic. He can breathe on his own, and has a little motion in his hands. Deaver said an author writes for his readers. He wanted to write something new. What would be fun to read. He said Lincoln Rhyme is pure mind, and he's universal. We're all minds before bodies. He never thought it would be a series, but he even has Lincoln Rhyme fans in Latin America and Japan

He was asked about Denzel Washington playing Rhyme in the movies. He said Denzel has moved on, and the franchise itself is in litigation over money. His book, The Sleeping Doll, is supposed to be made into a movie with Uma Thurman playing Kathryn Dance.

Deaver said he'd forgotten to do the shameless self-promotion. He has a second book coming out this year, in November. He's been writing fewer short stories, and working on novels instead because fans wanted two books a year. The next book, The Bodies Left Behind, is a standalone thriller. He calls it, "Thelma and Louise meets Deliverance."

When someone mentioned all of the twists and turns in his book, he said he comes up with the twists by outlining.

The audience was surprised at the humor in his diary entries. He said he once challenged a class to answer the question, who were his influences. He said they mentioned different people, including Shakespeare, but finally one bright young woman answered correctly, Seinfeld. The multiple stories are interrelated. He said his humor is based on the unexpected. That's scary in the context of Deaver's books. He said Lincoln Rhyme does get in some zingers. Lincoln is a stickler for grammar and punctuation, and there is a running gag in the books about language. However, Rhyme is a curmudgeon.

He said he once turned down dinner with Angelina Jolie, since he was too busy writing his next book. Besides, she scares him.

Jim asked if he ever wrote a standalone, and then thought it would have made a good series. Jeffery Deaver said he's alternating the Lincoln Rhyme books and the Kathryn Dance books, so one will be out every June. He's written them so they can solve any crime, so those books are open-ended. But, his standalones couldn't sustain a series.

When he was asked about his favorite book, Deaver said it was Garden of Beasts: A Novel of Berlin, 1936. It did well in Europe, but he was disappointed with the reaction in the U.S. It explores more interesting ideas than his other books, and has the most heartfelt character development. It's 100% accurate historically. It has lots of research, and he likes that. It has good surprise endings, and he thinks readers will be surprised. It's the story of a hitman hired to kill Hitler's armaments director. It wasn't published in Germany. They wouldn't touch it.

Jeffery Deaver said he stays on top of new technology by subscribing to blogs and websites. A question brought him back to The Broken Window. Was he ever a victim of identity theft? He said someone once stole his credit card information, and the identity number and charged $3000 online. Worst of all, they changed his address so he never received the bill, so he didn't pay. The damage was done by the time he realized it because he had moved. By the time he realized it, his credit rating had been trashed.

Jeffery Deaver was nice to everyone, and patiently signed books, and posed for pictures, including one with Jim. And, if you get the chance to see him, you'll enjoy Deaver's quiet, dry humor.

Thanks to The Poisoned Pen Bookstore and Sunrise Mountain Library for hosting Jeffery Deaver. And, I bought two books and had them autographed, so they'll be the prizes in the next contest. Watch for that tomorrow night!

(Jim with Jeffery Deaver)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The End - Tim Russert's Memorial

Tim Russert's Legacy

Wednesday Jun 18, 2008
A Toast To Luke

Television and Washington has a new idol: Luke Russert. Perhaps Betsy Fischer put it best during her remarks at the Kennedy Center today, when she summarized what she would tell Tim Russert if she could have one more conversation:

"There's a son, your son, that has comforted us and lifted us up with his strength. He is your true legacy and you'd be so proud of him as you always, always are."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Tim Russert

Maria Shriver's Poem Reading To Russert
If Maria Shriver's reading of this poem during today's ceremony didn't move you, then, well, your heart's not beating:

The Little Ship

I stood watching as the little ship sailed out to sea. The setting sun tinted his white sails with a golden light, and as he disappeared from sight a voice at my side whispered, "He is gone".

But the sea was a narrow one. On the farther shore a little band of friends had gathered to watch and wait in happy expectation. Suddenly they caught sight of the tiny sail and, at the very moment when my companion had whispered, "He is gone" a glad shout went up in joyous welcome, "Here he comes!"

Tim Russert, The Lawyer

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tim Russert - 1950-2008

Luke Russert talks about his father, Tim

Tim Russert’s son ‘eternally grateful’ for his dad’s love
Luke Russert shares his memories of a man who loved sports, music, family

Luke Russert recalls his father
June 16: Luke Russert shares memories of his father, Tim Russert, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” who died last week of a sudden heart attack.
Today show

Slide show

NBC’s Tim Russert
The life of the political journalist
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'Our issues this Sunday'...
"Meet the Press" pays tribute to its host of 16 years

By Mike Celizic contributor
updated 5:45 a.m. MT, Mon., June. 16, 2008
Luke Russert painted an intimate portrait of his dad, Tim Russert, on TODAY Monday morning — a portrait of a man who loved sitting around drinking beer with young people, a man who loved the honesty of children, a father who never let a day pass without telling his son how much he loved him.

“It was truly remarkable,” Luke told TODAY’s Matt Lauer in a wide-ranging interview that ran at length without interruption. “My dad would rather drink beer with my college friends than have a steak dinner. My friends loved him just as much as I did. Boy, did he love to eat at those tailgates.”

Luke spoke for 15 minutes about his dad with remarkable poise. He never lost his composure, not even when he was talking about being on the set of “Meet the Press” on Sunday and touching his dad’s empty chair — a moment captured in a moving photograph by The Associated Press.

“I’m going to keep that chair forever,” Luke told Lauer. “That’s my chair now.”

The memories are still raw: Russert died Friday at the age of 58 of a massive heart attack while recording voiceovers for his top-rated Sunday political interview show, “Meet the Press” on NBC. But Luke shed no tears. There were too many happy memories, too much that was good about Tim Russert to talk about.

Uncommonly close
Luke, 22, is the only child of Russert and his wife, Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth, and the two were uncommonly close.

“I spoke to him at least two to three times a day,” Luke told Lauer. “It had to do with the election coming up, sports, or just about life. There was always a lot of love from him. We would always hug. There’s not a day that goes by that I have not known my father loves me. For that, I’m eternally grateful.”

Lauer said that he could never remember talking to Russert over the past 12 or 15 years that Russert didn’t mention his son, and never in a bragging way. And that always led to questions about Lauer’s own family.

“People come up to me and say, ‘We may not know you personally, but your father always
Tim Russert with his son Luke as an infant.

spoke about you,’ ” Luke said. “He loved kids because they were so sweet, they were so honest, and that was important to him in life. The thing he cared about more than anything was everyone else’s kids.”

Tim Russert had written a best-selling book, “Big Russ and Me,” about his father, a sanitation worker in Buffalo, N.Y. When the book was still in manuscript form, Luke sneaked into his father’s file cabinet and read it. A senior in high school, Luke said he was so taken by the relationship described in the book that he had his grandfather’s and father’s initials tattooed on his torso. That Christmas, while trying on a shirt he had gotten as a gift, his undershirt rode up and his parents saw the tattoo.

Luke said his father’s shock at seeing the body art softened when he saw what it was. Luke also said that his advice to other kids is, “If you get a tattoo, show it to your parents on Christmas.”

Buffalo boy
Tim Russert had been named one of the world’s most influential people, but, Luke said, as a young man, he was just a hard-working kid from Buffalo who worked his way through law school in Cleveland. Tim met his wife-to-be in 1976 when he was working for New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and she was a star writer for Vanity Fair.

“In the 1970s, she had a real cool job. She had a Springsteen cover story. She interviewed Bob Dylan,” Luke told Lauer. “So when my dad was dating her, he was shooting out of his league.”

Alex Wong / Getty Images for Meet the Press
Luke Russert touches his dad’s empty chair on the “Meet the Press" set.

Orth and Russert were deeply in love. “My mom is a tough-spirited, outspoken woman,” Luke said. “I think that’s why my dad loved her so much. My mother is one of the smartest people I know, and my dad was one of the smartest people I knew. She used to say, ‘I took a bland Buffalo boy and turned him into a Washington pol,’ ” he added, laughing.

Luke said his mother is coping as well as can be expected. “She grieves like a wife. I grieve like a son,” he said. “She’s a tough-spirited woman.”

Luke said that Big Russ, Tim’s father, who is in a care facility in Buffalo, is aware that his son has died.

“I think he realizes what happened,” Luke said, adding that his grandfather translated it into sports terms. “He said, ‘He was the pitcher, you were the catcher and I was the umpire. We lost our pitcher.’ ”

Sports fan
Luke has said that his father began taking him to Yankee games when he was just 4 or 5 months old. Together father and son attended countless games together, often with James
Tim Russert took his son to countless baseball games.

Carville, the political strategist and pundit. Tim Russert and his son shared season tickets to the Orioles, Nationals and Wizards.

In a story on Luke, The Boston Globe once reported, "By the time he was 16, he had attended two Super Bowls, a World Series, five Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star Games, an NBA final, four NBA All-Star Games, two NCAA Final Fours, an NHL Stanley Cup Final, a U.S. Open and The Preakness Stakes.”

Two years ago, Carville and Luke Russert teamed up to host a weekly XM Radio show, “60/20 Sports With James Carville and Luke Russert,” the 60/20 being a reference to the generational split between them. Luke had also interned for Conan O’Brien and for ESPN, working on that network’s highly popular “Pardon the Interruption” show.

Tim Russert said he named his son Luke after Saint Luke the Evangelist, who wrote, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

Luke Russert attended St. Alban’s School in Washington, D.C., and graduated in May from Boston College. To celebrate, Tim had sneaked away from his many duties as NBC News Washington Bureau chief as well as host of “Meet the Press” to be with Orth and Luke in Italy.

Shout-out from Springsteen
Tim was a big fan of music as well as sports, and Bruce Springsteen was both one of his favorite acts and favorite people. And Luke said that his father was thrilled when Springsteen gave a concert on Rockefeller Plaza last year and paused in the middle of a song to give him a shout-out.

“I never seen my dad happier than he was that day — he got a Springsteen mention,” Luke said.

On Saturday, Springsteen was playing a concert at the Cardiff Millennium Dome Stadium in the United Kingdom. Before playing “Thunder Road,” Springsteen addressed the crowd, saying, “I'd like to do this tonight for a longtime friend of the E Street Band who passed away suddenly.

“Tim Russert was an important, unreplacable voice in American journalism. I watched him hold our politicians’ feet to the fire on many Sunday mornings. He was always a strong voice for honesty and accountability in American government ... but beyond that, he was a lovely presence, a good father, husband, and good guy. He was a regular at many E Street Band shows and I'm going to miss looking down and seeing that big smiling face in the crowd.

“We send this out all the way back to the states tonight for his son Luke, his wife Maureen, his dad Big Russ, and all the Russert family.

“Tim, God bless you. We will miss you ....”

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Cats

I wanted to post pictures of the cats.

Dickens turned 8 in March. It's hard to believe his sister, Lammie, has been gone almost four years now. He was born behind the bookcase in our bedroom in Estero, FL on March 22, 2000. He was one of a litter of four born to Ocelot.

Annika Nicole is our princess. We have a sign over the doorway that says, "Nikki's World." She's almost four, a gorgeous Desert Lynx, with a sweet disposition. Nikki is a true daddy's girl.

And, then there's Josh, a little terror. He's now almost 11 months, but he was about 9 months at the time of the picture. He's a sweetie, except he chewed on cords, and hasn't yet learned not to attack me with claws and teeth in bed at night. But, he loves to be walked on a leash.

This is Stormy Roy Ann Weatherly. She's going on twelve. She showed up on a rainy night, and poor Jim spent time out in the rain trying to entice her into the garage. She's named after a baseball player, Roy "Stormy" Weatherly.

Shadow was the cat we had to put to sleep. We adopted Josh afterward. Shadow was
twelve when he died. What a kind cat. No cat ever loved me as much as he did, or probably ever will. He looked at me with more love in his eyes than I've ever seen. He was Uncle Shadow to all of the young kittens. He took them under his wing, particularly Dickens. Dickens only made it on the cross-country trip because Shadow was in the same cage as him.

And, then there was Ocelot. She was the mother of Dickens and Lammie. But, she wanted to be an only cat, so I gave her to a friend, Marge Early. And, according to Marge, they're just two old ladies growing older together.

Our cats. We love them, and miss Marmalade, Lammie and Shadow.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Jim McKay died today

Sportscaster Jim McKay dies at 87
By DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer

NEW YORK (AP)—Jim McKay, the venerable and eloquent sportscaster thrust into the role of telling Americans about the tragedy at the 1972 Munich Olympics, has died. He was 87.

McKay died Saturday of natural causes at his farm in Monkton, Md. The broadcaster who considered horse racing his favorite sport died only hours before Big Brown attempted to win a Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes.

He was host of ABC’s influential “Wide World of Sports” for more than 40 years, starting in 1961. The weekend series introduced viewers to all manner of strange, compelling and far-flung sports events. The show provided an international reach long before exotic backdrops became a staple of sports television.

McKay—understated, dignified and with a clear eye for detail—also covered 12 Olympics, but none more memorably than the Summer Games in Munich, Germany. He was the anchor when events turned grim with the news that Palestinian terrorists kidnapped 11 Israeli athletes. It was left to McKay to tell Americans when a commando raid to rescue the athletes ended in tragedy.

“They’re all gone,” McKay said.

The terse, haunting comment was replayed many times through the years when the events of Munich were chronicled.

He won both a news and sports Emmy Award for his coverage of the Munich Olympics in addition to the prestigious George Polk award.

“In the long run, that’s the most memorable single moment of my career,” said McKay, an Emmy Award winning broadcaster who was also in the studio for the United States’ “Miracle on Ice” victory over Russia. “I don’t know what else would match that.”

A veteran of the U.S. Navy in World War II, McKay was the first on-air television broadcaster seen in Baltimore. He worked at CBS Sports briefly, but did his most memorable work at ABC Sports when it dominated the business under leader Roone Arledge.

“He had a remarkable career and a remarkable life,” said Sean McManus, McKay’s son and the president of CBS News and Sports. “Hardly a day goes by when someone doesn’t come up to me and say how much they admired my father.”

McKay was the first sportscaster to win an Emmy Award. He won 12, the last in 1988. ABC calculated that McKay traveled some 4 1/2 million miles to work events. He covered more than 100 different sports in 40 countries.

“There are no superlatives that can adequately honor Jim McKay,” said George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN and ABC Sports. “He meant so much to so many people. He was a founding father of sports television, one of the most respected commentators in the history of broadcasting and journalism.”

My Moment in Time

Welcome to My Moment in Time, a blog about the world as I see it, and at times, as I remember it.

It's a perfect day to start such a blog, as the world is changing this year, as Barack Obama kicks off his Presidential campaign, and Hillary Clinton speaks and endorses Barack Obama. It's been a history-making campaign as an African-American man, and a woman competed for the Democratic nomination.

Hillary gave a rousing speech, celebrating the height her campaign reached, and endorsing Barack Obama, asking her supporters to vote for him. It's been a fascinating campaign, and the Presidential campaign looks equally interesting.

As Rep. Gregory Meeks (D - NY) said, "The camera of history is rolling."

June 7, 2008 - My mother's 72nd birthday.