Tuesday, January 15, 2019


In all of the many doctors' appointments Walt has had, someone probably the neurologist, suggested that to help clear his brain fuzziness, he should read a book, work puzzles, and learn a new word every day.  So we have Alice Nan's puzzles here (we've finished two), he's started the first book by Dick Francis' son, Felix, and the dictionary is downstairs, but we haven't checked out words yet.
However, the weirdest thing happened last night. It was about 3 or 4 a.m. when I woke up with the word "iatrogenic" on my brain.  I don't know why.  I don't remember ever having seen it, spoken it, or typed about it, but I couldn't stop thinking about it so after about an hour, trying to get to sleep while thinking about the word "iatrogenic" I finally got my cell phone and Googled  it.  You know what it says?
Iatrogenic disease is the result of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures undertaken on a patient. With the multitude of drugs prescribed to a single patient adverse drug reactions are bound to occur. ... Iatrogenic (of a disease or symptoms) induced in a patient by the treatment or comments of a physician.
That's IT!  That's what my "whatever it is" was.  An iatrogenic disease caused by taking the wrong statin.  

Now why in the world would my brain do that?  And how did it know the word "iatrogenic."  I was vaguely familiar with the word enough so I knew how to spell it, but didn't have a clue what it meant or even that it was a medical term.

The oddest thing is that in the morning, after I woke up, when I was going to tell Ned and Walt about it, I could not remember the word at all.  (Eventually, with some mental gymnastics, I did, but it took awhile.)

We are very happy that Walt's fuzziness is starting to clear up.  He's frustrated at what he has difficulty remembering and concentrating on, but this is a new person from the one we took to the emergency room two weeks ago, and that is very comforting for Ned and me and I hope in time it will be comforting for Walt too.

I should have expected something like this.  But after 19 years with only one complaint letter, I let my guard down.  The youth theater presented two plays this month, back to back, and I reviewed both of them.

The first one was excellent; the second one was bad.  In 19 years of reviewing this company this is the very first bad review I have given and they deserved it.  The comparison between the two shows was striking.

Welllll.....that didn't sit well with one of the young actors who took to Letters to the Editor to write a very long screed including, in part:
This treatment of the play was quite unfair and lacked any appreciation for the fact that it was a youth community theater production with a volunteer cast.
By printing Ms. Sykes’ review, you really failed your readers. I can’t imagine that you would have printed similar coverage of the high school basketball or football teams. A local paper like The Enterprise exists to connect and support its community. Much like community theater, it is fair to say that the quality of your paper — its writing, editing, and graphics — pales when compared to publications like the New York Times or San Francisco Chronicle. Despite this, our family subscribes to the Enterprise because it is a way to support and connect with our community. Ms. Sykes’ review calls into question whether that is worthwhile. The Enterprise should print an apology.
The head of the theater company whom I have known since she was an actor in this group, and I have been talking.  She is very upset about the letter and says she will write an apology letter to the paper.
The thing that gets me is that whenever a bad review appears for one of the local companies, someone invariably points out that they are not professionals, that they are volunteers and the critic needs to take that into consideration.

Before I started reviewing, the then-critic was taken to task by someone who said something along the line of "we are all volunteers.  We work day jobs and by Friday (opening night) we are all tired."  (I came to the critic's defense and asked the writer if they charged less on Friday nights and if they warned the audience that they would be seeing a production by people who were not at their best because they were tired?)

The thing about this company is that Jeri and Paul were founding members and so we have watched them for 39 years and I have been very generous with reviews over the years.  We don't consider this a "children's theater" because they want to be considered on an adult community theater level and I have always reviewed them that way.  I told the head of the company that if I have to start patting them on the head to make them feel good, I'll just stop reviewing because they are just "children."
The thing about criticizing critics is that it (a) calls more attention to your production which was not reviewed favorably, and (b) will have zero impact because there is no way that a revised review will be printed.  It's a lose-lose situation for the writer.  I learned that over many years of being publicist for theaters here and in San Francisco.  If you don't like the review...do better next time!  That's the best revenge.

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