Posts tagged ‘entertainment’

Cooking Light (and Veg!) for the Holidays

I love the smell, taste, and feel of fall – the crisp, clean air, the warmth of vegetables roasting in my oven, and getting cozy with a steaming hot cup of cocoa and a book.  Fall is also a time of holidays and for many of us Boomers, a season of abundant eating and quality time with family and friends.

Although a day of stuffing probably won’t derail your diet plans all that much, there’s no reason why holiday fare can’t be comforting, wholesome, and delicious.  In the spirit of a healthy holiday, I’ve listed some dishes you may want to incorporate into your menu this year.

To start, I consulted some of my favorite go-to food and lifestyle magazines  – Cooking Light, Martha Stewart’s Whole Living: Body & Soul in Balance and Living, and Everyday with Rachael Ray. The November issues of these magazines have many features on holiday recipes.   Many of these publications also have ideas for what to do with dinner leftovers (sweet potato biscuits, turkey tacos…and more!), as well as meal planning tips and festive decorating ideas.   All magazines are available at the Katy Geissert Civic Center Library and at many of the library branches.

Here’s a sample of what I found to be some of the most tantalizing dishes, making use of seasonal produce and fall flavors, and not too taxing on your waistline!

For sides and starters, how about Cauliflower Leek Puree, a savory and sweet Brussel Sprouts Salad with Apples, Pecans, and Manchego, or Sweet Potato Soup with Cranberry Cream (a good way to use up leftover cranberry sauce)?

Try Spicy Moroccan Chickpeas as an alternative to a meat main course, and round out the meal with these sweet delights – Spiced Persimmon and Pecan Muffins or Pear Tarte Tatin.

The Internet abounds with recipes.  Here are some of my favorite places to hunt:

  • Chow – THE source for foodie conversation, recipes, and advice.
  • Epicurious – Includes recipes from the publications Bon Appétit, Gourmet, and SELF, plus there is an Epicurious app for your smartphone!
  • 101cookbooks – My absolute favorite blog for fresh and modern vegetarian fare using whole foods and always a source of inspiration!

Finally, here’s a link to a photo collage of delicious vegetarian holiday recipes that’s sure to tantalize your palate – Happy Holidays!

– rs

November 22, 2010 at 11:37 pm 12 comments

Film Festivals Part Deux – AFI Fest

It hardly seems possible that it’s been a full year since we posted about the pleasures of attending film festivals.   One of the biggest and best, the AFI Fest, is about to begin this coming week. AFI Fest is Los Angeles’ longest running international film festival and the 2010 event will be held in Hollywood, California, November 4-11.  AFI (the American Film Institute) is a national institute providing leadership in screen education and the recognition and celebration of excellence in the art of film, television, and digital media.

The week-long event offers film lovers a full schedule of screenings and exposure to the very best of world film. Check out the schedule and ticket policies – you may get lucky and snag some free tickets.

Also, if you’re a true film buff and would like to attend other film events in the LA area, here’s a link to a list of festivals through May 2011.

Can’t make it to the festival this year?  Don’t forget to check out audiovisual holdings at any Torrance Public Library location. You can obtain lists of notable films from the AFI website and consult the Library’s catalog or browse the shelves to pick up a classic or two.  DVDs circulate for one week and there is no fee – all you need is a Torrance Public Library Card!

October 30, 2010 at 7:45 am 4 comments

ACK! and the Single Girl

Cathy Guisewite has penned the final panel of that forever dieting, forever shoe-shopping, forever everywoman, Cathy. For more than 30 years, Cathy was the picture of the stressed-out career woman trying to juggle love, work, body issues, mother-daughter relationships, and whatever else modern society threw at her. Cathy ran in 900 newspapers, won an Emmy for an animated special, and had even been parodied on Saturday Night Live. And now she’s gone to that great “four panel” in the sky!

But Cathy was also a product of the Boomer generation. Guisewite was born in 1950 and came of age during the rise of feminism. “You’ve come a long way, baby,” may have become the slogan of Virginia Slims in the late 1960’s, but the growing feminist response was “No, we haven’t, and don’t call me baby.” By the time Cathy was first published by the Universal Press Syndicate in 1976, it was during the push to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified by enough states before the 1982 deadline.

Cathy was not seen as a feminist role model. Even though there were very few female cartoonists at the time, the strip was considered anti-feminist. As Guisewite related in a recent New York Times article, “A big problem at that time was you had to be in one camp or the other. There wasn’t a camp for ambivalence. You were a liberated woman or you were or a traditionalist. To even voice vulnerability if you were a feminist was wrong and to voice interest in liberation if you were a more traditional woman was wrong.”

Guisewite was willing to voice that ambivalence and found an audience of other Boomer women who struggled with the same things Cathy did. Cathy was that girlfriend you could laugh with about insecurities, guilt, and doubts that modern women weren’t supposed to have. At its height in the 1990’s, Cathy ran in more than 1400 newspapers. Obviously, she spoke to other generations, too.

Cathy evolved from a single gal to married with dogs. And although the strip has ended, her life will continue with even more adventures. You can read the last strip here.

If you need to reduce the stress of dressing rooms, an overflowing “to-do” box, and men who don’t understand the need for fifteen different pairs of black shoes, the Library carries a couple of Cathy collections:

Another Saturday Night of Wild and Reckless Abandon

Wake Me Up When I’m a Size 5

The library also has comic strip collections by other great Boomer cartoonists:

Were you a Cathy devotee?  Do you have a favorite among the cartoonists listed above?  Post a comment and share with our readers.


October 18, 2010 at 8:16 am 4 comments

Anticipation and Old Friends

Seeing the trailers for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part One) conjured up (ha ha) bittersweet feelings. Although the seventh novel of the Harry Potter series was published back in July 21, 2007, the release of each movie has been something I have looked forward to over the years. I could relive the wonder, the excitement, and the sorrow of each book again. These movie adaptations, hugely successful in their own right, will be coming to an end. J. K. Rowling began with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 1997 and, at this time, the final film is due out July 15, 2011.

With nostalgia, I’ve thought back to my own childhood, and to those series I couldn’t wait to read as each volume came out. Remember the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books? Mind you, I did not read them when they were originally published in the 1930’s. However, I could not get enough of the adventures of Frank, Joe, Chet, Nancy, Bess, and George and the sweet anticipation of knowing I would be spending time with these old friends still brings cherished memories. I kept a dog-eared sheet of paper where I dutifully wrote down the volume number of each book I read. Later, I discovered that librarians had a hard time with my list. I couldn’t ask them for the titles that I wanted to read, because I didn’t know the titles – I only knew the numbers! This problem was easily remedied, as I just browsed the shelves looking for those numbers to fill the gaps on my list.

Many years later I was astounded to observe the staying power of these childhood favorites of mine. My son’s elementary school was having a book swap. Students were encouraged to bring in gently used books for their reading level, and could exchange them for books donated by other students. The volunteers mentioned that the younger grades, K through 3, always have lots of donations, but the higher grades have far fewer items donated at their reading level. I happened to strike up a conversation with the School Librarian and she also reinforced how parents or organizations donate children’s picture books however, for some reason, titles for older kids don’t have the same appeal.

Luckily, the Friends of the Torrance Library maintain an ongoing display of books for sale and I was able to buy some Harry Potters, Lemony Snickets, and other series titles for extremely reasonable prices and donate them. One of the other volunteers pointed out they had a number of nice Nancy Drew books, as well. When I gave these books to the school librarian, I was surprised to hear that 5th and 6th graders love Nancy Drew books. I had to ask, “regular, old school Nancy Drew”? Yes, Nancy Drew, to my amazement, still captures the imagination of kids today. Needless to say, I went back and donated a huge stack of Nancy Drew books. There happened to be a 5th grader in the school library when I dropped off the books. A big smile on her face, she wanted to know when they would be ready to check out. Old friends have found yet another generation.

July 19, 2010 at 7:14 am 2 comments

Dancing With the Stars

The dance shows Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance are immensely popular, perhaps expressing many of our secret desires to be great dancers and showcase our talents to the world. If you haven’t seen DWTS, the premise is that celebrities and professional dancers are paired up for ten weeks. Every week, the professional dancer teaches the celebrity a different ballroom dance. The couples are judged by a team of judges as well as audience polling. Winners leave with a cash prize, as well as the increased fame from being a show contestant.

The 2009 champion of Dancing With the Stars was Donny Osmond – a true Boomer born in 1957 (featured in the picture above).  Other famous Boomer dancers are Gregory Hines (1946), Mikhail Baryshnikov (1948) , Paula Abdul (1962), Michael Jackson (1958), Madonna (1958), and Liza Minelli (1946).

Several Boomers played important parts in dance movies that left a huge cultural impact on multiple generations.  Patrick Swayze (1952) played the role of suave dance instructor, Johnny Castle, to Jennifer Grey in the sleeper 80’s hit Dirty Dancing. John Travolta (1954) made his name in Saturday Night Fever, kicking off the disco dancing trend. And finally, Kevin Bacon (1958) played the role of Ren McCormack, a teenager who moves to a town where dancing and rock music are banned (!) in Footloose.

Far from being an activity for the very young and infinitely limber, dancing can be taken up at any age. While watching TV the other night, I was inspired by a woman well into her 60’s who was so taken with tango dancing, she purchased an apartment in Buenos Aires, Argentina to practice and be in the heart of the local tango community.

Below, I’ve listed some local venues to either learn or practice dancing. I haven’t tried any of them myself, so feel free to share your thoughts and reviews in the comments!

Torrance Recreation Center (Torrance): Affordable and great variety of classes offered through the city – ballroom, belly dancing, flamenco, line dancing, plus cardio dance classes. Check the recreation centers of other South Bay cities for more offerings.

You Can Dance (Hermosa Beach): Primarily focusing on typical ballroom dances – rumba, foxtrot, tango, waltz, cha-cha-cha, and swing.

Hype Studios (Torrance): Highly-rated dance studio offering a wide variety of classes – hip-hop, Afro-Cuban, salsa, zumba, tap, aerial arts, ballet, and more!

Soul Tree Center (Manhattan Beach) : Not your traditional dance studio. Offers a core mind-body vertical pole workout for women. Also offers pilates and yoga.

Alpine Village (Torrance): Live music and dancing – check out their events calendar for the schedule of bands and/or style of dance (e.g. Tuesday night features salsa dancing and free lessons, Thursdays are swing nights).

The popularity of DWTS has led to the creation of dance DVDs and a book for fans interested in dancing at home for fitness. We offer these titles at the library:

In addition, we have other dance/fitness DVDs as well as materials focusing on technique for all amateur ballroom dancers out there:

Do let us know where you like to kick up your heels and follow the advice of the Bee Gees…You Should Be Dancing!

– rs

May 11, 2010 at 8:01 am 3 comments

The Elusive Film Festival


I don’t know about you, but I always miss film festivals. I have the best intentions – marking off the dates on my calendar, browsing through the list of films online, and selecting ones I would like to see – but the festival usually comes and goes without me.

Here in Los Angeles, we are blessed to host several annual film festivals. These festivals are a great opportunity to see international films, independent films, and documentaries that may never make it to mainstream movie theaters.

I recently stumbled upon a listing for a homegrown film festival right here in the South Bay. There isn’t much information about the South Bay Film Festival online, but it is a local event that may be worth checking out! The festival is on Nov. 12, just a little over a week away, at the James Armstrong Theatre.

If you prefer larger film festivals, the American Film Institute Festival is just about to end on November 9 and one of my favorites, the Pan African Film Festival, is just around the corner in February.

Plan your film festival going for next year! This list covers film festivals in Los Angeles for 2009, but gives you a sense of when the festivals are generally scheduled as they usually occur around the same time every year.

Of course, if you don’t want to leave the comfort of your home movie theater, you can check out films at the Torrance Public Library. We carry an impressive collection of VHS and DVDs – feature films, documentaries, international films, educational and workout videos, and more!

In the comments, share where you see your favorite films – what are the festivals, movie theaters, and movie rental stores (for those that are still in business!) that you frequent?

– rs


November 4, 2009 at 11:17 pm Leave a comment

How Not To Act Old

HowNotActOldBookThe best part of working in a library is being able to see all the new books that come in. Occasionally when examining a new book, staff will find something so amusing, they have to share a few tidbits with fellow workers. The most recent title to have my Boomer co-workers and I laughing is Pamela Redmond Satran’s How Not to Act Old. Satran, creator of a popular website with the same name,, has provided an irreverent guide with advice for how old folks like me can avoid embarassing their kids or themselves by eliminating behaviors and viewpoints that are clearly passe.

The book features at least two-thirds all new material that’s never appeared on the website and while Ms. Satran clearly has her tongue in cheek, much of what she includes is funny because it is so spot on.  For example, tip #1 is Stop Using E-mail.  As the author says, “Leave it to the evil young to get all of us old people addicted to e-mail, and then to abandon the form in favor of texting and Facebook.” I know this to be true because my 23- year-old daughter tells me the only way to reach her is by text – it’s a good thing I have a smart phone!

With each tip the author provides context and explanation. For example for tip #33 Don’t Advise People to Carry an Umbrella, she explains you don’t need to be the world’s mom and with all the energy you’ll save once you stop “nannying the entire world,” you can do something really productive like find a way to reverse the aging process!  She also provides 16 other things you need never say to another adult, such as “Bring some money along if you’re going out” or “Don’t stay out too late.”  I’ve certainly been guilty of repeating all of her list of annoying parental warnings at one time or another.

As Satran says in tip #163 Hold the Moo Goo Gai Pan…”when we first tasted ethnic food, what counted as exotic and exciting was some stew made of indefinable ingredients…but in this era of McDonald’s sushi… and Indian frozen dinners, it’s time to update your palate.”   Her chart of old food/young food is a hoot.  Don’t order or eat pork chops – try pork belly.  Chicken teriyaki – no! Go for chicken lollipops.  Shrimp cocktail is so old school when you can have Kumamoto oysters.  While listening to today’s edition of KCRW’s excellent food program, Good Food, I smiled knowingly, basking in my new found knowledge of old food/young food.  Guest Ruth Reichl, author and editor of the recently defunct Gourmet magazine, spoke about all of the great foodstuffs available to us now and when she mentioned pork belly* I was ready for it!

So when you’re looking for information on how to be cool, when you’re afraid you’ve forgotten how, don’t forget to check out the Library – it’s always got what’s new and hot!

* click here for a recipe for pork belly

November 1, 2009 at 7:13 am Leave a comment

Finding Fun and Cheap Entertainment

free sign by klbusta -

free sign by klbusta

Right now we are all looking for ways to cut back our expenses, and reinvigorate those old values of frugality and thrift.  Some of the recent economic forecasts have predicted that we will not make major gains in employment until 2017!  With over 7 years of a potentially sluggish economy, many of us will be in need of cheap (or free), wholesome ways to enjoy ourselves, spend time with family and friends, and lift our spirits.

First, let’s start with some different strategies you can use to find things to do locally.  You may be familiar with some of these suggestions and some might be new. Set aside a few minutes before your weekend to explore your options and plan an awesome day!

1. Check out the City of Torrance’s City Events Calendar. The calendar is a relatively new feature of the city website and is designed to make locating city-sponsored events easier to find. Events hosted by other agencies may also be included. Library events are listed here!

2. Pick up a copy of your city’s recreation calendar. You can get print copies of the Torrance Seasons at the library or online. To access the recreation services of other cities in the South Bay, sign up for Redondo Beach’s e-zine or see Rancho Palos Verdes website. Recreation guides don’t only feature ongoing classes, but other one-day programs that have been planned in advance.

3. Scour your local print mediathe Daily Breeze, Los Angeles Times, Easy Reader, Palos Verdes Peninsula News. Browse the entertainment and calendar sections of the print and online versions of your favorite paper. Don’t forget the Los Angeles Weekly’s vast entertainment calendar.

4. Browse through Yelp. Yelp is a community review site where you can find information on the best restaurant in your neighborhood, where to fix your shoes, upcoming events, and more. Become a “Yelper” yourself and contribute your opinions. Here are some recent lists created by Yelpers on restaurants and bakeries in the South Bay.

5. Sign up for Yelp’s weekly email. If you are adventurous and like to explore new neighborhoods, Yelp spotlights different parts of town, as well as different themes.

6. Explore Upcoming. This event site is owned by Yahoo so you can log in using your Yahoo id.  Enter your hometown in the search bar and see all the events nearby. You can browse events by type as well – music, family, sports, etc.

7. Word of mouth. Truth be told, most of us discover things to do through people we already know. Reconnect with your family, friends, and co-workers some of the best fun there is.

8. Boomer-specific fun. Last but not least, visit the list we created especially for local Boomers with links to some of the local events you might be interested in.

More ideas, suggestions, and featured events to come, so stay tuned. By the way, many of these sites are good ways to promote your own events!  If you have any additional suggestions or tips, please include them in the comments – we would love to hear from you.

– rs

October 21, 2009 at 11:27 pm Leave a comment

Spare the Rod – Manipulate the Child?

6a0105368f4fef970b0120a58d528f970b-200wiAs a Boomer child growing up in the 50’s, my parents were heavily influenced by one of the best selling authors of all time – Dr. Benjamin Spock (not the Spock of “Live long and prosper!”) Dr. Spock’s seminal work, Baby and Child Care, was filled with practical and radical (for its time) information that helped millions of parents cope with their fears about caring for and raising their children.

Dr. Spock offered a reassuring alternative to the rigid rules and practices fostered by the medical establishment prior to the publication of his manual. His contention was that parents know their children best and could be trusted to make good decisions. In particular, he stressed that providing natural affection and responsiveness to your children, adopting a more permissive and communicative style, and allowing your children to explore and experiment was not going harm them and, in fact, would result in healthy, happy children.

Fast forward some sixty odd years since the penning of Dr. Spock’s masterpiece to the present day confusion of child rearing advice and techniques. While the methodology advocated in her book may not win any prizes from pediatricians and family practice physicians, the Torrance Public Library Foundation is delighted to be presenting “An Evening with Elizabeth Beckwith” this coming Wednesday, October 7 at 7:00 p.m. (Foundation members only are invited to a reception with the author beginning at 6:30 p.m.*) at the Katy Geissert Civic Center Library Community Meeting Room.

Ms. Beckwith
, a stand-up comedienne and author, has appeared on The Late Late Show and was one of seven comics featured in the Time magazine article “Funny: The Next Generation.” She has just written a book entitled Raising the Perfect Child Through Guilt and Manipulation. While the book is a satire of traditional parenting guides, it does have some sage advice mixed in with autobiographical information about the author and her family. Ms. Beckwith will be reading from her book, as well as talking about her experiences raising her children, and will answer questions from the audience.

An Evening with Elizabeth Beckwith is free to the public; however, the Foundation is suggesting a donation of $10.00 to help defray the cost of the program.  Copies of Raising the Perfect Child… will be available for purchase at the event.  And if learning about the real way to effectively raise children inspires you, try checking out one of the hundreds of titles the Library owns on the subject of child rearing.

* Attendees who wish to become members of the Foundation on the night of the program may purchase a membership between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

October 4, 2009 at 1:07 am Leave a comment

Faces of the Harp and Memories of Music

wildcat-383x308Many Boomers had the good fortune to attend school when budgets were better and the arts were considered a necessary element of a child’s education. Growing up in LA and being a product of LA City schools, I took several music appreciation classes, and that was before I attended college. In those good old days, all students learned a bit of musical notation, were introduced to musical forms (symphony, concerto, opera, etc.) and the structure of the orchestra, listened to and were able to identify musical instruments by ear and sight, and were given an overview of classical music history including exposure to the great composers. I can still remember one of my favorite records from my youth, Said the Piano to the Harpsichord, written by Douglas Stuart Moore, featuring an amazing duel between a harpsichord and a piano during which they squared off about which was better, couplers or keys! I also learned who Bach, Brahms, and Beethoven were and read biographies of several of my favorite composers including Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven.

In addition to learning about classical music in the classroom, many children had the opportunity to see an orchestral concert and/or view an entire opera as part of their school curriculum. Students traveled by bus to venues such as the Shrine Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles to see works such as Engelbert Humperdinck’s opera, Hansel and Gretel or Rossini’s Barber of Seville. After learning about classical music, seeing it performed live greatly enhanced the experience and certainly gave me an appreciation that has stayed with me all these many years.

In the past, the Library rarely offered musical concerts, as until recently the acoustics and space in the Katy Geissert Civic Center Library Meeting Room did not afford a good listening experience. However, the Meeting Room has recently been refurbished and staff has arranged for a highly acclaimed musician to perform this coming Wednesday evening, August 26, at 7:00 p.m. Dr. Vanessa Sheldon, a teacher and classically trained harpist will perform a diverse array of musical works that will demonstrate the range of her very special instrument, the harp. While the program is not recommended for small children, older youth able to sit quietly and listen to music for a 60-minute period, would be most welcome. Attending an intimate concert such as this may provide special memories for you and your family. And all adults who love classical music and/or are interested in learning about, listening to, and watching a master play should take advantage of this unique opportunity!

August 25, 2009 at 8:25 am 2 comments

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