Tuesday, October 31, 2017

My Weak Spot

When I first agreed to become a critic, some 17 years ago, I was unsure of my ability to do the job.  I knew I could write but I had no training, and while I had gone to musicals, especially Gilbert & Sullivan for most of my life, my experience with straight theater was quite limited.  I had never studied playwrights like Ibsen or Wilder, or any of the classic French comedies by Moliere and others.  And I knew I didn't like Shakespeare.  This did not seem to make me the most logical choice for the job.

But I decided to try it and over 17 years, I have seen a lot, learned a lot, and even have learned to enjoy Shakespeare.  We see about 60 shows a year.  My comfort zone is still musical theater, and those reviews come quickly when I get home, but I seem to have been able to express my opinion in an entertaining and helpful manner.  

When I read other critics, I realize that I would never pass in a big city newspaper, but I have had a lot of very positive feedback and I enjoy what I do.  Most of the time.

But I do have an Achilles heel.  I know nothing about dance and am asked twice a year to review a concert given by our local Pamela Trokanski Dance Theatre.  We've known Pamela for most of our time in Davis and the first time she asked me to review one of her shows, I confessed that I knew nothing about dance.  She told me that made me perfect to review her shows, which are intended to appeal to anybody, even people like me.

So I've stumbled through several of her shows and though when I re-read my reviews I sometimes cringe, I think I've managed to serve her well.  But I still never feel comfortable.  I'm always happy when her shows come on a weekend when I have two or three other shows to review and am unable to make it to her performance.

This weekend, we went to her latest fall concert, Turning Corners.  I was all prepared this time.  I took copious notes (none of which I could decipher when I got home!!)  The review is written and submitted but, as always, I feel uncomfortable hoping that I got it right.

The theme for this show is exploring what happens when you look at familiar scenes from a different perspective.  You take the same road to work every day but what happens if you suddenly take a different street.  What will you find? 

(The amazing thing about this group of 8 dancers is that the youngest, young Asher Habicht is only 9 years old.  I don't know how long he has been dancing, but this is the third year I have reviewed him.  He's as talented as the adults with whom he dances.  The oldest in the group is Allegra Silberstein, who is 87 and who has been dancing with Pamela for many years -- both Asher and Allegra are on the right side of this photo)

Trokanski's choreography is always athletic and wonderfully synchronized...and also fun.

We enjoyed the show and were surprised to find one of my colleagues from the News and Review also there, with his wife.  They suggested we go out for dinner together, which we did.  Jim and I know each other only through emails and passing in various theaters.  It was nice to get to know them both a bit more personally over Thai food.

I was so focused on getting the review finished and submitted this morning that I forgot to open the door for the dogs after I fed them and Walt came downstairs to find a gigantic doggie toilet extending from the living room down the hallway.  Lizzie looked embarrassed and I apologized to both her and Walt for forgetting.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Halloween for Old Folks

For those intrigued by my comment about pumpkin pies yesterday and who have not heard the story, here is a link to the home movie.

This is the decoration outside the door to the Memory Care Unit at Atria:

I found macabre humor in the idea of skeletons hanging on this particular wing of Atria, where everyone is--let's be honest--waiting to die.

I did take exception to the scarecrow sitting in the chair across from this display.

She's sitting in the chair where I sit while waiting for someone to come and let me into the locked unit.  Harumph.

There are a few skeletons and pumpkins hanging along the halls, but I suspect nobody knows what day it is and has no concept of Halloween.  I know my mother didn't, when I went to see her yesterday.

I hadn't seen her in almost a week but fortunately she didn't realize that.  I told her about my fall and how my back hurt too much to walk the long walk down to the Memory Care unit (the back is fine now, by the way) and she was solicitous, which interrupted any feelings she might have had about my not being there in such a long time.

The visit was back to the usual discussion of age, how old she is, she can't be that old, etc. She asked me what I had been doing with "Mom" lately.  She misses her mother so much and occasionally thinks she sees her, though it's not in a hallucination sort of way, but more when she is asleep.  Of all the relatives who have gone before her, her mother is the one she most wants to see again.  She never mentions her father.

She talked about how many activities there were to do at Atria and smugly and proudly let me know that she never participated in ANY of them.  That always makes me sad, knowing how many opportunities she missed since she moved to Atria.  She wouldn't even go to the theater to see a movie, she was so uncomfortable, afraid she would do something wrong--and this was when she had it all together mentally!

I remember how involved she was in so many things when she lived alone.  Her calendar had an activity for every day of the week, it seemed.  Lunches, fashion shows, meetings, volunteer work.  But she lived in the mobile home park for a long time -- maybe 20 years? -- and never participated in any of the many activities there and refused to get to know her neighbors, so maybe this isn't so much a dementia/Alzheimers thing as it is a personality thing.  Still it seems a shame that she never took advantage of anything she was paying big bucks to have available to her!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sunday Stealing

In honor of the approaching Halloween, I found this weirdly formatted set on a question meme site.

    ghost: what would you like on your tombstone?
Funny the World (that is also something on our sons' grave markers)

    dracula: are you afraid of aging? or death?
Not afraid of death; I'm more afraid of dying.  Not really afraid of aging, as long as I can do it gracefully.

 nosferatu: what, as a child, did you imagine went bump in the night?
There were snakes under my bed.  I always had to jump way out away from the bed to prevent being grabbed when I woke up in the morning.  Even when I went back home to visit as an adult and knew it was ridiculous, I still took a big step away from the bed when getting up.  Just in case.

    godzilla: what do you do when you are angry? are you ever destructive?
I'm never destructive.  I may say a few bad words (sometimes loudly)

    the blob: do you collect anything? if so, what & why?
I have, over my life collected several things which are all now dust catchers, so I don't deliberately collect anything any more.  Anybody want a magnet from a zillion different places?

    zombie: when was the last time you trusted your gut? was it successful?
I can't remember, but as a general rule, my gut has never served me well when I count on it.

    mothra: what is something dangerous that attracts or fascinates you?
I am fascinated by tornados, and very happy that I do not live where they form. (I was probably strongly affected by The Wizard of Oz as a kid!)

    king kong: what are some questionable choices you've made lately?
Some impulse purchases, perhaps.  I can't think of anything else.

    alien: what is your strangest feature?
The curl has returned to my hair and there is a curl on top of my head that stands up and curls over and will not be tamed.  I'm kind of an old lady version of Alfalfa (The Little Rascals)

    cthulhu: do you like the ocean? why or why not?
I love the ocean.  I am never happier than when I am somewhere where I can hear and smell the sea (not interested in being IN it, though)

    nessie: have you ever felt invisible to people -- the feeling of not existing?
Oh my god...all the time!!!  Standing in a group of people, trying to contribute to the conversation and ignored, writing e-mail to a group of people who don't seem to realize you have written anything.

    mutant spider: what is one of your biggest fears?
Alzheimers.  Or being incapacitated by some physical situation that forces me to be dependent on others for everything.

    werewolf: if you could change into any nonhuman animal and back at will, what animal would you change into and why?
An elephant.  I am endlessly fascinated with elephant societies and would love to be able to learn to communicate with the rest of the herd.

     golem: if you could make up an imaginary friend, what would they be like and why?
I don't have enough imagination any more to do that, but in grammar school, I anthropomorphized the toilet paper dispenser of the grammar school bathroom into a friend that I could talk to when I felt lonely (is that pathetic, or what???)

    leprechaun: what is your "pot of gold" (or white whale, if you'd rather)
Any time we drive to San Francisco and it is a sparkling clear day, I feel like I've found my pot of gold.

    sharktopus: what is something you've done that was ridiculous or a bad decision?
Let's forget "bad decisions."  Things I've done that are "ridiculous" are some of my more fun activities -- like the time my friend Char and I baked 10 small pumpkin pies for our kids to throw at each other.

     robot: what is a habit you do without thinking?
Put my glasses in the same place each night (or else I can't find them in the morning)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Saturday 9

If you're looking for Saturday 9, scroll down to find it.

The Internet is both a wonderful resource and often very frustrating.  It used to be much easier to find contact information for people.  Now you have to sell your firstborn child and mortgage your house to MAYBE find what you are hoping to find.  Damn that internet security protection!  (lol)

It started simply today.  Remember that graphic about the Random Walk problem that I posted yesterday, and how indignant I was at the grammatical error "it's" when it should have been "its" and how I was certain that I had not made that typo and that if I had, Fred would have caught it.

Well, this morning I checked the source--the original book--and there it is, in all of its vindicated glory:  "its" not "it's."

Amused, I decided to write to Fred, which I did, but the email was returned as undeliverable.  This is the same email address at Carnegie Melon University (where he is an emeritus) that I have used ever since I have had email.  We exchange one or two notes a year.

Last year, he did not respond to my birthday card to him, or my Christmas letter, or a personal letter I had written.  I wondered if he had died and so I contacted the head of the Physics Department at Carnegie Melon, who told me that as far as he knew all was well with him.

Now he IS 12 years older than I am, so it's not unlikely that he might have died, but I took the physicist at his word.  But now I have this returned e-mail and no apparent way to contact him, other than thru Linked-In, which offers no guarantees that messages will get to him.

Then I realized that being a computer hoarder is a good thing.  YEARS ago, I had a database file of Christmas card contacts in the days when I mailed Christmas cards.  I no longer have that program, I no longer send Christmas cards BUT, at some point I did a WordPerfect file of that database, and there was Fred's address.  So I was able to send off a letter asking for an update, and requesting his wife to contact me if Fred was unable to do so.

Now I wait to see what happens.  But the important part of the story is that yes, the original book did have "its" correct, and it was not printed "it's."  I hope I get to tell Fred this story.

I was a bit more sore when I woke up this morning, but not nearly as bad as I feared it might be.  My tail bone was the most sore, but not all that bad, especially when I was just sitting.

After lunch, I decided to mail the Randomness Journal to my partner and then go to see my mother.  As I left the post office, my tailbone was killing me and the thought of having to walk the entire length of Atria to get to the Memory Unit was just too unpleasant a thought, so I came home and slept for a couple of hours.  The tail bone is still a bit sore, but much better than it was this afternoon

This is Saturday and I normally do Saturday 9, but I had so little to say in answer to the questions, I will just add them here as kind of an afterthought. In keeping with the "spirit" (get it?) of the season, the theme is "Monster Mash"
1) In your younger days, did you ever trick or treat while dressed as a monster or ghoul?  No that I remember

Do you enjoy being frightened by celluloid boys-gone-bad, like Michael Myers (Halloween) or Jason (Friday the 13th)? No.  I have never watched those movies.

3) When you were a kid, did you ever TP a neighbor's house or indulge in any other Halloween acts of vandalism? (Don't worry, the statute of limitations is up.)  No...I was surrounded by flats and apartment buildings.
4) Will you be attending any Halloween parties this year? If so, will you dress up? No, No.
5) Can you see any Halloween decorations as you answer these 9 questions? No (my office window faces our back yard)

While Halloween is most popular in the United States and Canada, and isn't really celebrated at all in Japan or South Korea. How would you explain our Halloween customs to a visitor from another land?  I have no idea.
7) "Monster Mash" is one of Halloween's most played songs. Are you happy to hear it every year? Or does it set your teeth on edge?  I kind of like it.

8) This week's featured artist, Bobby "Boris" Pickett, started as a stand-up comedian who incorporated his imitations of Boris Karlof and Bela Lugosi into his act. Can you impersonate anyone?  Nope
9) Dick Clark was an impossibly young looking 33 in this week's featured clip. Are you often told you look good for your age?  Not in so many words, but most people can't believe I'm 74.

Friday, October 27, 2017

I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up

You know how we have all giggled for years about the old lady lying on the floor whining "Help!  I've fallen and I can't get up!"  The commercial made the rounds and then disappeared for several years and lately I've seen it back again...might even be the same woman.  I hope someone eventually came to help her!

I bought one of those buttons for my mother when she was living in San Rafael.  She dutifuly wore it but didn't have a clue what it was for.  Had she fallen, she never would have thought about pressing the button.  She also wore one for about 2 years when she first came to Atria, but she finally "lost" it (I found it hidden in a drawer) and I didn't make an issue of it because she was beyond understanding what it was for.

I have periodically wondered if I should get one, then shove the thought away because I'm not old enough to need one, I say, with all the pride my mother would muster if she could.

Today was the first time I ever thought that maybe it's not such a bad idea.

Walt had gone off to San Francisco to a matinee performance of Finlandia by the San Francisco Symphony.  He took the train down and I dropped him off at the train station at 9 a.m., then came home to finish my Randomness Journal.

At some point I went to check on the mail and noticed that our Home Chef box had been delivered.
Now you have to kind of imagine our front hall.  It's short--the length of a closet with two sliding doors.  At one end is the front door.  To the right is the sliding door of the closet.  To the left is a staircase, which is blocked by a laundry hamper with a heavy weight in the bottom which holds a gate in place so the dogs can't get upstairs  To the left of the stairs is a chair, on which this morning was a laundry basket with clothes I had just taken from the dryer and was planning to hang up.  Behind me is the bathroom door and between the bathroom door and me is the two dogs, because I had gone to the front door and they wanted to see what was going on.

I brought the mail in and then leaned over to pick up the Home Chef box to bring in, but it was heavier than usual, a weight I hadn't expected and when I went to get it, it kind of flipped over and, in so doing, it knocked me flat on my keester  Well, not only my keester, but my whole back and bonked my head on the floor.

So there I was on the floor and had to figure out (a) how to get up, (b) how to get the box inside and (c) how to keep the dogs from running outside while I was doing it.  I suspect that the dogs would not have run outside because both were very worried about me.  Lizzie kept nuzzling me and Polly kept barking (Walt pointed out later that Lizzie was probably concerned, but Polly was just hoping I'd give her something to eat).

Now, normal people would just bounce up and that would be that.  But I'm not normal people.  Getting up is a major difficulty because of my bulk and the fact that my knees are shot and don't like weight being put on them.  Add to that the fact that the box was still outside and that I was pretty much wedged in among all the stuff in the front hall, all of which were plastic and not strong enough to hold me if I grabbed onto them to try to get to my feet.  And I couldn't grab the doorknob because the door was still open and I was trying to keep the dogs inside. 

I made three more attempts to get the box, but each time, it flipped over again until I finally managed to get one edge over the step up into the house.  This took about 5 minutes and a lot of 4 letter words and a few tears.  That was when I began to realize the value of one of those buttons.  I knew that I could get up eventually, but what if I had been hurt worse?  I have a cell phone, sure, but it was in the family room.  

With the box now safely inside, I got the front door shut, which eliminated worry about the dogs getting out.  The box also had the advantage of being at the right height (and sturdy enough) for me to hang onto while I dragged myself up to my knees, apologizing to them for the pain I was causing them.

The phone rang about the time I finally stood up, and I tripped over the damn box and nearly fell again.  Ginger Rogers I ain't!

I finally collapsed in the recliner, still shaky, and angry with myself for (a) being fat, and (b) feeling helpless when normally I never feel helpless.  But I realized how things might have gone worse and how your life can change in an instant.  

I stayed quiet most of the afternoon and as I write this (midnight), I am a bit sore and wondering if this is one of those things that's worse after you've slept for a night, or if this is as bad as it's going to get.

I did manage to finish the Randomness journal.  I was trying to decide how to decorate the front cover and then had an odd idea and headed to Google Images to see if I could find what I was looking for.  And I did!

This is an illustration from "Fundamentals of Statistical and Thermal Physics," by Fred Reif, a 650 page text book I typed (3 times) when I was working for the physics Department at UC Berkeley.  How well I remember the Random Walk Theory and that damn drunk Fred used to illustrate the problem.  When the book was finally published, I found a statue of a drunk hanging on a lamppost and gave it to him as a souvenir along with the teeny tiny nub of a red pencil that he used for editing--it was about an inch long--which I had the guys in the glass shop make a domed cover for.
(Oh, and BTW, I feel compelled to point out that the "it's" in the first line is NOT my typo.  Obviously made by the publisher's staff)

So anyway, that is now the cover of the Randomness book.  The journal is HUGE

I'm sending it in a flat rate box, and tried to wrap it in bubble wrap first.  I had to use two small sheets of bubble wrap, taped together and I am too tired to try to figure out how to describe the contortions I had to go through to do that, since the tape kept sticking on itself, the book kept falling off the surface on which I was trying to work and it was almost more frustrating than trying to get up off the floor...but I didn't think that even an emergency button could have helped THAT situation.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A. Malcolm

If you are not a fan of the Outlander books, and in particular the TV series (now in season 3) from those books you probably won't be interested in this entry.

And if you are following the TV series, but have not yet seen the latest episode, you might also want to wait until you have seen it because even though you know what is coming, it still may have plot spoilers.

It has been a surprise to me that though my favorite genre of books is crime drama, that I got so hooked on this historical romance.  I rarely read romance novels.  Some critics accuse author Diana Gabaldon of writing "bodice rippers," and there may be some truth in that, but the characters are drawn so realistically and the history so well researched that libraries and book stores have a difficult time knowing into which section the books belong.

I might never have become so hooked on the books were it not for Audible's audio books.  Narrator Davina Porter is so good that I decided I could listen to her read the telephone book.  All of the books are on my iPod and when I am not otherwise reading a different book and am only driving a short time, I might pick one of the books and just listen to it for awhile.  I can pick up any volume in the middle and it doesn't make a different that I'm reading out of order because I know the whole story, all 8 books worth.

For those still with me who have not read the books, it's the story of a World War II British nurse, Claire Beauchamp, who falls in love with a historian, Frank Randall, marries him, and on their honeymoon to Scotland, by accident she happens to walk through a cleft in one of the famous standing stones which are found everywhere in that country and finds herself back in the 18th century.

She happens to get captured by the sadistic Black Jack Randall (coincidentally and conveniently husband Frank's long-lost ancestor) who intends to rip her bodice and do unspeakable things to her, but she is rescued by a band of Scottish highlanders, who hide her from Randall.  

(I always wanted to know how Claire could ride for two days
with no proper clothes, and never once complain about a sore butt!)

The only sure-fire way to save her, however, is to marry her to one of the Scots, young Jamie Fraser.  As his wife, she will be protected by law and apparently even Black Jack respects the law.  Needless to say, Claire is none too happy with this solution but agrees to go through with it, including the mandatory consummation of the marriage.

Many adventures ensue, including Claire and Jamie falling hopelessly in love over the first two books, but Claire knows that the Battle of Culloden is coming, the battle which ended the Jacobite uprising of 1745 and the clan system in Scotland.  Jamie, an honorable man, realizes that he will be killed, but must fight with his fellow Scots.  He also realizes that Claire is pregnant and he insists that she go back through the stones so that his child can live.

The anguished goodbye ends Season 2 of the TV series, as Claire returns to the 20th century and to Frank, having to explain that she has been living with an 18th century Scotsman for 2 years and is carrying his child.
Twenty years passes.  Frank dies.  Daughter Brianna grows up, learns Frank was not her real dad.  Through research, a historian discovers that Jamie survived Culloden.  Then they find him on a census role in Edinburgh.  Claire realizes that he lived.  Thus ends Season 2 of the TV show.

In Season 3, the producers of the show drove us nuts for five episodes, taking both Claire and Jamie separately through the 20 years separation, what they did, who they did it with, etc.  Finally Claire makes the decision to leave now-adult daughter Brianna and return to Scotland to try and find Jamie.  She quickly finds herself in Edinburgh (we miss all the preparation, the stones, getting to Edinburgh, etc.), gets direction to the print shop of A. Malcolm (which she has assumed was Jamie), goes to the shop, dramatically climbs the stairs.  She sees him.  He has his back to her and thinks she is his assistant and begins talking to "Geordie."  As I knew it would, the episode ended with Claire saying "It's not Geordie, it's me -- Claire."  Thinking she's an apparition, Jamie faints and the episode ends.

Then, those guys made us wait two whole weeks to continue the scene.  But it continues in an episode called "A. Malcolm" and they reunite.  (Interviewing Caitriona Balf, who plays Claire, Stephen Colbert said that he heard this was the sexiest show on TV.  And yeah...lots of sex, including a violent and much too realistic rape of Jamie by Black Jack in Season 2).  But better is the re-igniting of the passions that made the relationship between Jamie and Claire work to begin with.  Their reunion awkwardness at first, the "dinner scene" so reminiscent of their wedding night, etc.)

Now, the reason I wrote all this is because many Outlander fans are crazy.  At least crazier than I am.  They get upset about everything.   They intimately know every scene, every bit of dialog and if the TV version doesn't get it right, or leave something out, they are going to let someone know.
Am I the only who is bothered by Jamie saying he was responsible for Geneva’s death? It wasn’t his fault!!! Firstly, she made him come to her bed. And in the book he specifically told her to plan a time when he couldn’t get her pregnant. Her dying in childbirth was not his fault at all and it kills me when he says that.
I was one of those people who were not thrilled with the change made to the Bree scene.
LEAST FAVORITE PART OF THIS EPISODE: "Oh cool, "we" have a daughter, that's nice, but let me tell you about *my* bastard son...
Not a fave. Immediate jump to Willie ruined the scene.
guess they could still have a discussion on how he came to take care of Willie but it was more dramatic in books IMHO
There are literally hundreds of comments on Twitter and Facebook, pro and con, about this episode alone.  The one comment I made, similar to my comment here, received the most comments I have ever had on one Facebook posts--nearly 100!

I admit to having read each of the books at least twice but I can only remember the high points and it does not bother me that this or that "crucial" scene was omitted or that so-and-so does not match the mental image some had of him/her.  I am enjoying the TV series as a TV show, and the books as books, both different and similar to the TV series.

Whatever, though--it's obvious that this series is wildly popular as they are already filming the 4th season (which will record my least favorite part of the saga and I'm hoping I will like it more than the book!)

I try to just ignore the negative comments, but I feel sorry for the writers, who are missing something very special by trying to hold the TV show to the exact same standards as the books.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Battling the Bugs

The plan for today had been to start restoring order to my office, which was piled high with detritus from the last two journal projects, so high that I couldn't find anything.  Any time I touched anything, a stack fell over.  I decided "consolidating" was in order.

Of course by the end of the day, very little consolidating or restoring order had been done because every time I started to look at anything, I got immersed in memories.

The thing that amazed me was the photos I found.  My god I have boxes...BIG boxes...filled with photographs I don't know what to do with.  These photos weren't overwhelming in their quantity, compared to what I already have stored, but what amazed me is the variety.  I was constantly trying to figure out how THIS picture got in THAT pile of pictures.

For example in one stack was a photo of my mother with my grandmother's horseback riding club, before I was born; there was a group picture of a group of grammar school girls who all took ice skating lessons from former Olympian Harris Legg in 1955.  There were the photos my parents took in their first home in Pasadena, long before I was born.  There was a picture of the 3 boys holding their diving medals at a pool somewhere.  There was a photo of Ned with Ann B. Davis (Alice on The Brady Bunch) when she visited the first radio station where he worked.  There was a picture of David's grave marker (before we removed it and replaced it with one that had both his and Paul's names on it.  Someday we are going to sell this house and the buyers will be very surprised to find the grave marker in the back yard.  It now marks the grave of some a a cat and a dog).  

There were a couple of pictures from our wedding and only one picture from the reception following our Malaysian son's wedding.  The wedding was the week after David died and we were seated with some poor unsuspecting couple who must have wondered why every so often we would get up and leave, one or two of us, and sneak out the back door and then return red-eyed.  We finally told them what was going on.  At one point, all of us, including the groom, where standing out on the patio, hugging each other and crying.

But then there was this picture.

Not particularly noteworthy--and quite faded, even with PhotoShop manipulation--but it took me back to about 1953, shortly after I got my very first camera, a Brownie box camera.  I had been invited to go to Lake Tahoe for a week to be a mother's helper for the family I occasionally babysat for (you may remember my talking about a Robert Yates, who turned out to be my 2nd cousin, recently...this was the family of the other Robert Yates and I was to help with the care for him and his sister Diane).

I brought my camera and one day I walked down from our cabin with the kids and their father.  We were going to the lake.  At some point I turned around and saw these rocks and for some reason it just hit me how beautiful they were, arranged like that.  I wanted to capture the artistic vision of it.   Of course the father thought I was nuts, and as you can see, there is nothing special about the photo, but today, more than 60 years later, it still makes me smile and remember how struck I was by the beauty of that pile of rocks.

There were lots of memories from that trip.  The parents went off to gamble every night and I waited up for them to come home until they told me there was no reason to wait up, so I went to bed.  Well, it just so happened that particular night they forgot their keys.  They knocked, they called out to me (and woke the kids).  I was sleeping in an upstairs bed under a window and then climbed up, opened the window and stepped OVER me to open the front door, then put the kids back to sleep again  I slept through it all and after that they told me I had to stay awake when they went out!

There was also the night of the June Bug.  June bugs are big ugly beetles and while I'm not as terrified of them as my friend Lynn is of spiders, I do. not. like. them.  This one was about the size of an avocado (maybe a little smaller) and was bouncing off the walls all over the place while I chased it with the poker from the fireplace.
I finally managed to hit it.  And I felt like a battered woman who has finally faced her attacker.  I hit it over and over and over again with the heavy poker, then threw it in the fireplace, in the part where it was still smoldering.  Vinceró !

I went to bed, having vanquished my foe, and in the morning when I got up, I looked toward the fireplace and there was that damn June bug crawling out of the ashes.
After #45 and Kim Jung Un finish their nuclear squirmish and we are all dead, I am convinced the beetles will still be here and will make the planet their own.  The wheel goes round and round and if you wait long enough, it's finally your turn

(OK, movie buffs...what movie is that from and who says it?)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Good Day

Jeri called late this afternoon and at the conclusion of our conversation she said "you sound less stressed than usual."

That was good to hear.  Must be because I've been so obsessed with the randomness journal.  The end is almost in sight--still lots to go, but I'm amazed at how many pages I've been able to create.  One thing I did today was a Day of the Dead altar for Paul and David.  I think it's my new favorite page

I also did a page on elephant poaching in Africa, juxtaposed with a Far Side Cartoon about an elephant enjoying himself at a party until he noticed the ivory keys on the piano.  Heck, might as well do a bit of proselytizing if I have to fill 160 pages!

I had not been to Atria in 4 days, so I decided to take my mother out to lunch. When I got to her apartment, she was dressed, but asleep on top of the covers of her bed.  I was in no hurry and we had no deadlines, so I just sat and read until she woke up.  She woke up more awake than anybody I've ever seen 10 seconds after they wake up!  When I suggested lunch, she said she was so tired and I asked if she preferred not to go, but she got into it and started to get excited about going out to lunch.  I gave her a choice of Chinese food or Denny's, and she chose Denny's.

On the way to Atria, I had passed on of my favorite trees, which has only half changed color so far, but I really thought it was cool looking.

So though Denny's was in the opposite direction, I drove around Davis so I could pass by this tree and she loved it.  I put on my 40s playlist and she sang every word to every song all the way to the restaurant.

At Denny's they are having new holiday meals, and so I decided to have cranberry-orange pancakes and she said she would too.  They came with eggs, hash browns and bacon.  My mother looked at the plate and I could see that she was overwhelmed by the amount of food.  I kept assuring her that she didn't have to eat it all.

By the end of the meal, she had eaten more than I had and was considering ordering a strawberry shake, but we decided not to get one.

On the way to Woodland, we had passed a place that is in the process of putting together their pumpkin patch.  Right now it's just a big empty field, but the pumpkin and the dinosaur attacking it were kind of interesting, so I got off the freeway and drove around so that we could see it closer and I could take a photo.

When we got back to Atria I took advantage of the front desk's offer to have someone come from the memory unit to take her back to her apartment so I didn't have to walk all the way to the back of the building.  I was very happy to turn her over to them, so I could get to the store to buy dinner fixings.
The whole day, including my afternoon nap, was just so pleasant that I'm not surprised I didn't sound stressed to Jeri.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Sunday Stealing

I love it when things work out.  I found a great picture of the Wicked Queen from Snow White in the Post Office's Philately catalogue and thought it would be a fun page for the Randomness Journal.  But what to put on the opposite page (I like to make them match, when possible).  I decided to go looking for some sort of recipe that took apples and in going through old Food Network Magazines, the very first apple recipe I came to was for poison apple punch.  Perfect!

I don't see punch much these days, at least not alcoholic.  Seems like we drank a lot of it in our college and young married years.

Of course the king of punches was our friend Dick's rum punch.  The first time he made it for the "Newman Innmates" (the guys who shared a house rented from the Newman Club, before it was torn down to build a fancy new church), it was an instant hit and whenever Dick was coming to a party, we asked him to make rum punch.

I don't know exactly how he made it but it was simple syrup, rum, limes and maybe something else.  The key was the rum, though.  He always bought Mr. Fernandez, which you could only by in Trinidad, where he often visited his relatives.  Maybe you still can only find Mr. Fernandez in Trinidad.  

I remember the New Years Eve where Dick spent the evening seated in the kitchen, surrounded by squeezed limes making batch after batch of rum punch.  We loved it, but I don't think he did, after awhile.

I had some good hangovers after a night of Dick's rum punch.  Now whenever we visit him and his wife, he always makes rum punch, but we only have one glass.

However, for hangovers, you couldn't beat Char's recipe for a Velvet Hammer, which is very appropriately named (recipe courtesy of Trifles from Tiny Tots)

1 bottle of champagne
1 bottle of soda
1 bottle of Sauterne
1/2 pint of vodka
1 oz orange curçao

Believe me, you were aware of the liquor, but I think the primary flavor was the orange curaçao, so you weren't aware that it was as loaded as it was.

Oh the days of my misspent youth!

I don't drink any more, or rarely drink (I still can't pass up one of Dick's rum punches)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sunday Stealing

Welcome back to Sunday Stealing which originated on WTIT: The Blog authored by Bud Weiser. Here we will steal all types of questions from every corner of the blogosphere. Our promise to you is that we will work hard to find the most interesting and intelligent questions. You may have heard the expression, “honor among thieves”. In that age-old tradition, we try to credit the blog that we stole it from, if possible. We also provide a link to the victim's questions in our "Previous Victims" widget. (It's our way of saying "Thanks!") Sometimes we edit the original meme, to make it more relevant to our global players, to challenge our players, to select the best questions, or simply to make it less repetitive from recently asked questions from a previously post. Cheers to all of us thieves!

Bud stole a meme from Sleepy Rambles several years ago.  I checked the site out and found a lot more. (Someone complained it took a long time to answer these memes, so I only chose 15 questions this time!)

Have you ever eaten at restaurant and you realized you forgot your money?
I don't think so.  Sometimes I have no money, but then I have a credit card.

True or false-you can pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time.
No.  I probably can't walk and chew gum a the same time either.

Do you prefer to drink out of cans or bottles?
Well, my preference is a glass glass (not a plastic glass), but if I have to make a choice, it would probably be bottle.  I drink a lot of bottled water.

Do your socks match today?
They almost always do.

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it
Dan Brown's new book, "Origin," which is another page turner, after the first 40 chapters or so.  There was a point when I was ready to quit, but then it got so good, I did nothing for the rest of  the day but read it.

Are you currently borrowing something from someone?
Well...I have a book on the history of Ireland which I got from a friend.  Walt thinks she loaned it to me.  I thought she gave it to me, so I don't know.

Write an extremely random statement.
The largest elephant on record was an adult male African elephant. It weighed about 24,000 pounds and was 13 feet tall at the shoulder! Elephants can live to be over 70 years old.

Are there any major holidays you don’t celebrate?
These days holidays are hardly celebrated, compared with previous years, with family spread out over the country, several in-laws in the mix, and my mother not recognizing holidays at all.

What is one thing you will never understand?
Why Trump supporters still think he's doing a good job.

Have you ever stepped on a bee?
No, but I did have one fly into my arm and sting me when we were driving on the freeway.  I don't open my window in the car any more.

What helps you wake up in the morning
Hungry dogs.

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

What is your favorite thing in your room?
Hmmm....I guess it would have to be this computer.

Who was your first kiss with?
Bill.  I was 13, he was 16.  We dated for 3 years until he decided to become a Jesuit.

Do you worry about small things
Not as much as I used to.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Saturday 9

Welcome to Saturday: 9. What we've committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions every Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do "random questions," so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don't have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today's meme!

Saturday 9: Voices Carry (1985)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
This song was chosen because October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Please share this link to The National Domestic Violence Hotline. Let's spread the word that there's help out there.

1) In this song, a woman is "hushed" by her lover. When were you last told to "keep it down?" I can't remember, but it would be some time when I had the TV volume too high.  Now that I have hearing aids, I don't get that complaint much any more (unless I've forgotten to put the devices in my ears)

2) Her lover tells her tears are something to hide. Researchers tell us that crying can be good for us, because by releasing emotional stress, it lessens physical stress on the cardiovascular system. Are you comfortable crying in front of other people?
Oh good lord, I'll cry in front of anyone.  After two memorial services for our sons where most people in town came for each, I have no qualms about tearing up and boo-hooing in front of anyone.

3) In this video, the woman makes a scene by speaking up in a theater. Today theater goers are more likely to be disturbed by a cell phone ringing or its screen illuminating. Are you careful to turn your phone off in the theater, church, etc.?
VERY RARELY, I forget, but as a theater critic, who attends at least one theatrical program a week, I am very good about remembering to turn off the phone!

4) When this group, Til Tuesday, was still struggling, Cyndi Lauper was already a star. Cyndi offered to record this song, which would have brought the group some fast cash, but only if they agreed not to record it themselves. Obviously they didn't take the deal. Tell us about a time you took a risk on yourself, and it paid off.
Well, back in 1975 or so, the Lamplighters sent out a letter to all subscribers saying that someone was going to put together a book celebrating the company's 25th anniversary.  Even though we now lived 80 miles away from San Francisco, I took the plunge and volunteered, along with one other woman.  The three of us got that book published in 1977 and it ended up being the project that changed my life, introduced me to people who became my best friends, and set the principal activity of my life for the next decade.

5) Til Tuesday's lead singer, Aimee Mann, went to Open High School in Richmond, Virginia. This charter high school is dedicated to helping students become "self-determined thinkers and learners." Do you recall your high school as permissive or regimented?
I went to a Catholic high school in the 1950s.  Does that answer your question?

6) Aimee has been on the road through 2017 and, like most artists, sells tour merchandise. Her line includes reusable tote bags. Do you bring your own bag to the grocery store?Always.  Sometimes I forget to bring them into the store, but there are big signs everywhere reminding people to bring their bags.
7) Aimee has tried her hand at acting and appeared on Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. From Dracula to Barnabas Collins to Lestat, vampires are a popular culture staple (especially in October). What do you suppose accounts for their enduring popularity? Not only do I not understand their enduring popularity, I can't understand why they are popular to begin with.  I have never been a fan.

8) In 1985, when this song was popular, Bruce Springsteen was at the top of the charts with Born in the USA. A massive commercial success, Born in the USA has sold more than 15,000,000 copies in the United States alone. Is it in your collection?
No.  In 1985, I was herding young children and didn't pay attention to songs that had massive commercial successl.
9) Random question: In which race would you do better -- the Iditarod, with sled dogs in Nome, or speeding in a car at 200+ mph at the Indianapolis 500? Good lord.  I'm one of those people who drive the speed limit or under and get very nervous when a car is going too fast.  Also I love dogs.  There is no question about my participating in the Iditarod.  I'd come in last, of course, but I'd enjoy myself, if I could find a way to stay warm.

Friday, October 20, 2017


I did not sleep at all last night.  In fact, it was about 9:30 a.m. before I finally dozed off for an hour and a half.  I don't know why. I just could not get to sleep.  I've taken to writing my journal entries in the morning instead of at night, but I've never started one so late!  Thank goodness I don't have a show to review tonight!

I met Alice this week.

Alice is the UCD student who is partnered with my mother, to be her "buddy" and establish a relationship with her.  She will visit her every Wednesday, she tells me (a day of the week I don't have to feel guilty about staying home!)

She's a lovely girl, in her second year at the University.  I can't remember what she said is her major, but picked up on her brother, who is looking at UC Santa Barbara (where Jeri graduated) and Cal Poly (where Tom graduated).  I recommended both schools highly, Santa Barbara over Cal Poly because he thinks he might like to major in theater.

We tried to talk to include my mother who was lost, of course.  Turns out Alice is a theater fan and we both like the same shows, which really left my mother in the dust while we talked about shows and songs and her other brother who is doing theater in San Diego.

I guess Alice sat with us for about 45 minutes until time for her to leave.  I was so pleased to have her there because she got my mother talking animatedly, and when she left, the two of us had little to say to each other again.  

We were sitting at the end of the hall, the opposite end from where she lives and I made some comment about her apartment being at the other end of the hall.  I had to tell that to her about three times and she finally shook her head and said "Well, I'm going to have to think about that because I can't understand a word you're saying."

I think Alice will be good for her.

I came home to turn on the news and what a depressing day it was.  It started at 3 a.m. with Morning Joe talking about General Kelly and his comments in support of #45 and how shocked he was that an Amercan Congresswoman would dare to listen in on the private conversation between the president and a grieving widow.  He didn't seem to know that they were in a car and that the grieving widow was listening on speaker phone and that her mother was as incensed as Congresswoman Wilson was, so it was hardy anything circumspect.

But then he said a few things that confused me.  The prez has said that he has called, he thinks, all the grieving families of soldiers killed since he took office.  That's 27 of our military who have lost their lives in defense of this country since January.  If you discount the three who died with LaDavid Johnson, that's 24 phone calls he has supposedly made.

So Kelly says that before he makes the call, he says to Kelly "How do I make this call?  What do I say?"  What did he say the previous 24 times he made that difficult call?  Or maybe 23 times, since at least one family says they were never contacted.

And isn't it convenient that Kelly says he told him, word for word, what he actually said in the "disrespectful" phone call.  Except when Kelly said it he added something to the effect that he was "doing what he wanted to be doing," which softens it a bit, I guess.

Johnson's mother was upset that he didn't seem to know her son's name.  Nor did Kelly.  They also referred to her as "the wife."  

I listened to a recording made by another family that 45 did call.  He said something like "this is a terrible thing."  He never mentioned "death" and he never mentioned that young man's name either, but just that he knew he was a wonderful man and a hero.

I'll give the prez marks for trying, but given the call I heard and the report by Congresswoman Wilson, I think I'd rather not receive a call at all.  

The problem with it -- and with everything with this president -- is that he won't let it go until he gets an apology.  He was still attacking Congresswoman Wilson in tweets this morning.  The whole thing would have blown away quickly had he not made a cause celebre out of it.  But at least more people know of LaDavid Johnson now than would have known of him before.

Today Kelly seems to be trying to trash Wilson and every news report is now centered on that.  "White House chief of staff Gen. John Kelly on Thursday erroneously claimed that Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida, claimed credit for securing "$20 million" in federal funding to build a new FBI field office in Miami in 2015, according to a video.  Accusing her of being an "empty barrel," Kelly said Wilson focused more on her own actions than the heroism of the two FBI agents for whom the new building had been named.

"While Wilson took credit in her speech at the dedication ceremony for shepherding legislation naming the FBI building after two FBI agents who were killed in a 1986 gunfight, she did not claim credit for helping to fund the building, according to the video.

"Wilson also spent a considerable portion of her remarks praising the valor of law enforcement, retelling the story of the two slain FBI agents and calling on those who work in the field to stand and be recognized."

Why does this administration have to attack everyone who has anything negative to say.

Other than fuming at the news and finally turning it off after about the 10th replay of Kelly's statement.  I spent most of the day working on the new "Randomness" journal and am happy with how it's coming along.  The notebook is 80 sheets of paper and I have to decorate front and back, or 160 pages!

One of the things I included was an article, I think from the BBC, which says that scientists have proven that our brains still work after the body shows no signs of life, so it may be that we "hear" our own death.  "There is evidence to suggest that there's a burst of brain energy as someone dies." Creepy. 

So if a loved one...or maybe more appropriately someone you didn't like all that much...has just died, be careful what you say about them.  They may be taking that memory into the afterlife.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Unusual Things

This is the reason I was wide awake at 3 a.m., and up and working before 5.

I'm doing another Swap Bot journal, this one a book of "unusual things."  The instructions were that the journal was to include:

1 page introducing yourself and explaining why you wanted to join this swap.
10 lists/pages of top 10 (topics are your choice)
10 pages of some type of art form - drawing, photos, painting, collage-ish etc.
5-10 pages of some type of paper fun stuff - think receipts, used movie/concert/transportation tickets
10 pages of diary type entries detailing your day, your thoughts, your feelings...
5-10 pages of Wreck this Journal type entries

I had no idea what "Wreck this Journal" meant, but googled it and discovered the w-i-d-e variety of ways to wreck a page, from pouring substances on it, to punching holes in it, to burning part of the page, tearing the page....the possibilities are endless.  I got this idea of pouring wine on a page and found a chianti bottle to use as a graphic and then dripped wax down the side of it...it wasn't quite what I wanted, but it was OK.  Then last night I poured wine on the page and liked the effect, but it needed something more.  I thought about it while I was going to sleep and decided to google "glass spilling wine" and found the perfect graphic, which I downloaded at 4 a.m., doing some PhotoShop editing of the color of the wine and then pasting it on the page,  If I were more clever, the page would look better, but I'm happy with how it came out.

I'm always interested in journal prompts that suggest using "used movie tickets," since I have an endless supply of tickets from shows that we have attended, plus a lot of old programs (though most of the programs I throw away after writing the review).  But I had fun putting together this journal.  This page has become a favorite of mine to add to these journals.

Depending on which state the recipient is in, I wonder what the response will be.  Marijuana is legal in California, so ads like this are common, as are billboards.  But I don't know how it will be received in Ohio, where I think medicinal marijuana is legal, but recreational is not.  The News and Review (for which I write reviews) has a wide section each week dedicated to ads for pot merchants and it makes a great collage.

Another page I always include is one about Compassion.

I've done the pages several ways but I think this is my favorite so far.

The contents of my purse is always good for a miscellaneous collage

I wanted to do something interesting for a cover page and googled "unusual things."  Amazing what you find when you do that.  There were lots of choices, but this one made me giggle and so I decided to go with this.

You gotta admit this is pretty unusual!  

So the book is finished and off to the post office and now I have another one to make in the next month.  It's called a "Randomness Journal."  The instructions for this one say "For this journal swap, you will fill your journal with whatever strikes your fancy which means this is all YOU. Take a composition notebook (9.75in x 7.5in journal size) or as close as you can get and fill it up completely from front to back. Every page (front & back) should have something on it. You DO NOT have to completely cover each page. Decorate the cover in some way so it is not plain."

I'm glad I have a month to do this because it's going to take some time to get junk to collect in my purse again!

My life used to be so interesting.  Read "The Mama Caper, Part II"  Priscilla was a woman with AIDS that I used to drive to get her methadone injections once or twice a week, when I was doing transport for "Breaking Barriers."

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

If It's Tuesday

If it's the third week of the month, it must be time for lunch with my friend Kathy again.

We're kind of homeless and wandering at the moment.  For the first 12 or so years that we met monthly for lunch, we ate at the Olive Garden in Sacramento, which was near where she worked.  I didn't work and I enjoyed the drive to Sacramento (got to listen to my audio book), so I didn't mind the 30 minute drive to meet her.

When she retired, she decided it was her turn to do the driving and, despite my protests that I really enjoyed the drive, she started coming to Davis.  For a couple of years, we ate monthly at Cafe Italia.

We at in one of these uncomfortable booths and had our "regular," usually a roast beef sandwich for me and spaghetti for Kathy (usually with the sauce on the side).  It was a nice tradition.

But Cafe Italia has had to close its doors due to expansion of the motel which owns it, and while we cringed each month wondering if "this" would be our last lunch, it lasted longer than we expected, but that day did finally come and so we had to find a new place.

We both like Mexican food, so we tried Tres Hermanas last month.  I had only eaten there twice before, and what I like most about it is the decor.

It wasn't as good as I thought it would be.  i wasn't feeling all that well, so just had a plain tamale.  Kathy didn't like the menu, so just had rice and beans.

When we were choosing where to eat this month, I suggested Ding How, the Chinese restaurant where we ate with (the other) Jeri and Phil last month.

We both had a lemon chicken lunch and it was delicious, but waaay too much.  I intended to finish mine for dinner, as did Kathy.

I've mentioned before that we usually talk politics.  For years it was moaning about G.W. Bush, then we had 7 happy years until Trump started looking like a viable candidate and our lunches were rife with "how can we stop this man?" and comparing what horrible things he had done/said now.

But now it's over and what do we talk about?  It's a done deal, he is more horrible each day (telling a pregnant widow "he knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it still hurts" ???) and there is no point in wallowing in the depression that will be with us until the next campaign.

So we talked about our kids, books, TV shows and, you know, regular stuff.  It was nice!

Have we found another "regular" restaurant?  Well...no.  But there is a Dickey's BBQ nearby, which I have never been to and Kathy likes, so that is our spot for next month.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


In an afternoon press conference, Trump said that over the weekend, he wrote letters to the families of the four service members, who died in the deadliest U.S. combat operation of Trump’s term thus far. The letters, Trump said, either have been sent already or will be sent Monday night. He also said he intends to call the families.

Trump then took a moment to compare himself favorably to former presidents, saying he likes to call families “when I’m able to do it.”

“The traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents ― most of them didn’t make calls. A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it,” Trump said. “They have made the ultimate sacrifice, so generally I would say that I like to call. I’m going to be calling them. I want a little time to pass.”

According to someone from Obama's staff, either Obama himself or Joe Biden greeted every plane arriving in D.C. carrying fallen heroes. 

"The commander in chief told a totally irresponsible and disgusting lie in the Rose Garden today, claiming past presidents did not call the families of fallen service members," said a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, Brian Gabriel. "Trump's jaw-dropping, disrespectful lie is not based anywhere in reality and is another symptom of a deep-seated obsession with tearing down President Obama."

Former White House communications director and Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer slammed Trump as “a deeply disturbed ignoramus who is a pathological liar,” while former Obama deputy chief of staff for operations Alyssa Mastromonaco called Trump a “deranged animal.” 

“I know he wrote to the families and I often was with him when he met with families at military bases to commiserate in person,” Fleischer said.
Pete Souza, White House photographer under Mr. Obama, posted a photograph on Instagram of the former president and first lady Michelle Obama consoling the parents of a slain Medal of Honor winner.

“I also photographed him meeting with hundreds of wounded soldiers, and family members of those killed in action,” he wrote. 

Ari Fleischer, who served as spokesman for President George W. Bush ― who launched the United States into the Iraq and Afghanistan wars ― said Bush frequently went out of his way to interact with the military community.

Toward the end of Bush’s presidency, The Washington Times reported that Bush “met privately with more than 500 families of troops killed in action and with more than 950 wounded veterans,” often during private sessions. 

Even the sainted Ronald Reagan was there to honor the heroes when they returned home

What was Trump doing when the four soldiers killed in Niger returned home?

Since the ambush that claimed those four servicemen’s lives, Trump has golfed five times. He doesn't even know if the letters that were supposedly written have been sent yet.

Why does this man lie about everything, even something as easily misproven as this.  Has he never heard of photos?  News coverage?

I find that I am physically ill at the thought of the press conferences this man gave this week, including laughing about how Pence wants to hang all gays.  Big funny joke.  He wants to take away health care from children, birth control from women, health care from a huge percentage of the population.

I won't even talk about all the saber rattling...
When is someone in the GOP going to notice?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Magic Flute

I do love Amazon.

We went to the Lamplighters Gala yesterday.  The gala is always preceded by a silent auction of things members of the company have donated, and other larger items they've been able to coerce people to give.  

One the table of thing that had been given by Lamplighters I saw this book.  Patricia Minger is a woman who performed with the Lamplighters for 3 years in the mid-80s.  I knew her name, I kinda sorta remembered what she looked like.  I didn't bid on the book, but looked at it and saw that it was praised by mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade.  The plot sounded interesting (flautist on her way up is involved in a terrible acccident that ruins her hand and she must find another way to add meaning to her life). 

It was about 45 minutes before the show was going to start and I was not interested in checking the other auction items because we are looking to divest ourselves of things rather than to add things.  I had my Kindle with me, so I went to shop on amazon and in a matter of minutes, I had purchased Magic Flute and was happily sitting in the lobby reading my new book.  And so far, it's good!  

I saw Pat at the party after the show and told her what I'd done and how much I was enjoying it so far.
As for the Gala, this was the 51st anniversary of this fund-raising show, and we have been  to most of them, including the very first one at the Harding Theater.  In those days there was unlimited champagne after the show and for several years, I went home definitely in my cups.  Now the champagne is still there but there is less of it and we do manage to go home sober (in fact, I drink water, not champagne).

Every year there have been Lamplighters manning the bar at the party and this year it looked like they had hired a professional company to do it.  There were snacks.  Last year there were bowls of snacks at several spots throughout the big room, but last night they were all concentrated in one tiny spot right next to the bar.

Most ridiculous set-up ever.  Several hundred people all wanting drinks and food and all trying to get into this teeny, tiny area.  There was a big box of snack bags in the back so bowls were filled as soon as they were emptied (almost immediately), but if they had been spread out throughout the room, things would have worked MUCH better (especially for people like me who don't drink alcohol, who were feeling overwhelmed by the crowd and the noise and who just wanted to sit somewhere and observe, while eating).  I also caused a problem asking for water instead of champagne.  First they couldn't find any and then they found one big bottle and couldn't get it opened.  In previous years I was able to pick up a bottle of water and take it with me. We needed Paul and Henry!!!

As for the show, it was, of course, very funny.  This year it was based on Saturday Night Live, so the format was more a throwback to the earliest days, when there was no plot line, but individual funny numbers, some funnier than others.  I think people who are fans of Saturday Night Live and Game of Thrones got more out of it than others.

At intermission was my least favorite part of recent shows;  the auction.  After the silent auction has closed in in the lobby, a live auction starts in the theater....the big ticket items.  There is a professional auctioneer who drives in from Davis to run the auction.  He's good, but very irritating.  And he raised over $50,000 for the company in half an hour, so an asset, but I truly hate it.  One of the big ticket items was this fancy framed tribute to the Golden State Warriors (here held by Jonathan Spencer, one of the writers for the Gala):

I'll give the auctioneer credit.  He did his darndest, but finally had to admit that this was a theater audience, not a sports audience and the thing went unsold.  The week trip in a villa in Italy, however, was so popular, he managed to get three different people to spend $5600 (each) for it.

I had to smile at the original lyrics for this show.  Back in 1983 when office manager David Witmer and I convinced Gilbert to do the first of the plot galas, his argument against it was the the chorus would never be able to learn new lyrics to songs that were not from shows they had done during the previous season.  We wrote a plot for Major General Hospital and a few of the songs had new lyrics and the chorus did a beautiful job.

That ushered in the era of plot galas and each year they have become more and more elaborate.  The first was written by Gilbert, David and myself, but then we started adding new people to the committee and by the time Gilbert died, in 1986, there was a viable committee to take over for Gilbert.  That committee has exceeded any expectations Gilbert ever had and the resulting show is worth the $100 ticket price.

When it ended, our friends Diana and Jill agreed with us that it had been too long...but then it always is, but somehow it doesn't matter.

The best part of the evening was the surprise for outgoing managing director, Sarah Vardigans, who is leaving to join the Peace Corps in Senegal.  The tribute to her was a complete surprise.

There was also another complete surprise of a Legacy Award for Chris Focht, who has been with the company for 50 year (we predate him by about 3 years, but we never performed).  I looked at all those people on stage and remembered all of the back stories -- who used to be married to whom, who had had live-in relations with whom, whose children have problems, whose children now perform with the company, who is no longer with us, etc., etc., etc.

It's an expensive evening, but it is always a full mix of emotions thinking back over all the galas I remember from previous years, and makes me so proud of having been a part of this San Francisco tradition for nearly 60 years.

Even if all my cheese doodles fell on the floor.