Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

This photo was taken in 1969. It was our first Thanksgiving in California. That summer we moved from upstate New York (by way of Johnson City, Endwell, and Yorktown Heights, NY) to Los Gatos, CA.  That is me on the right.
45 years later we are all celebrating our last Thanksgiving in this house. My parents have just sold their 5-bedroom house and are moving to a nearby senior living community. Cheers.

The 2014 version...

And the rest of the family...

Friday, November 21, 2014

Make Holiday Cheer

On December 12-13, my talented and handsome husband will be singing with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus in their holiday extravaganza, "Dancers, Prancers & Vixens!" It's going to be an incredible show that you absolutely do not want to miss. Get your tickets now:  or at City Box Office 415-392-4400
Performances for this festive, heart-warming and simply not-to-be-missed concert are at Nourse Theater, 275 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA.
Dates and times are:
Friday, December 12, 2014 at 8:00pm 
Saturday, December 13, 2014 at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm
PS. There will also be an ugly sweater parade, 1980’s nativity and some of the most beautiful, familiar holiday music you have ever heard.
Featured guest is Well-Strung, the Singing String Quartet

Additional holiday dates are:
Saturday, December 6, 7:30pm in Santa Rosa, CA at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. A benefit concert for Face to Face Sonoma County AIDS Network. Tickets.

Sunday, December 7, 5pm in Santa Cruz, CA at the Peace United Church of Christ.
With The San Jose Choral Project. Proceeds to benefit the Santa Cruz AIDS Project, the Santa Cruz Diversity Center, the Queer Youth Task Force, and PFLAG, as well as Peace Church's community projects. Tickets.

Wednesday, December 24, Christmas Eve at the Castro Theatre, SF; show times 5pm, 7pm 9pm. This holiday season marks the 25th year that the chorus returns to the Castro Theatre on Christmas Eve for the Home for the Holidays performances. Tickets.
Featuring: Donna Sachet and Lisa Vroman

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Most Produced Plays This Season

American Theatre magazine came out with their list of “American Theatre’s Top 10 Most-Produced Plays Of 2014-15 (Actually 11 because of ties).”

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang: 27**
Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Shanley: 10
Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon: 8***
Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz: 8****
Around the World in 80 Days adapted from the novel by Jules Verne: 7(note, 6 for the Mark Brown adaptation and 1 for the Toby Hulse adaptation)
Peter and the Starcatcher adapted by Rick Elice from Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson: 7
The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez: 7
Tribes by Nina Raine: 7*****
4000 Miles by Amy Herzog: 6
Into the Woods, book by James Lapine, music and lyricsby Stephen Sondheim: 6
Venus in Fur by David Ives: 6
*American Theatre omits Shakespeare productions and holiday-themed shows A Christmas Carol and Santaland Diaries from the list. But if you really want to know, this season, Christmas Carol is getting 46 productions, Santaland Diaries is getting 8 productions and the most-produced Shakespeare plays are A Midsummer Night’s Dream (10) and Romeo and Juliet (8).
**Christopher Durang’s Chekhovian Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike made the Top 10 list last year in eighth place, with 11 productions. That list, plus a 2013 best-play Tony Award, was apparently enough to propel Durang’s play to the top this year.
***American Theatre has printed the complete playscript to two of the Top 10 plays—Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon and 4000 Miles by Amy Herzog. We’re not saying we’re arbiters of not-for-profit theatre tastes, but…
****This marks the third year in a row that Jon Robin Baitz and Matthew Lopez and their plays (Other Desert Cities and The Whipping Man, respectively) have made the Top 10 list. Congratulations on those royalty checks, guys!
*****It seems last year’s female-packed Top 10 list was a temporary trend (last year, women made up half the list). The male/female ratio of this year’s list is 8:2.
This information is tallied from 404 theatres that self-reported their season to us. There were 1,876 entries that credited a playwright and/or a composer, and all productions are playing from Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015. For the numbers from past Top 10 lists, click here

We have seen 9 of the 11 listed plays in the last couple years. Apparently no theatre in the San Francisco Bay Area is currently scheduled to do “Outside Mullingar” by John Patrick Shanley. “Around the World in 80 Days” which was the other play we have not seen was last done in 2008 by the now defunct San Jose Repertory Theatre.

Outside Mullingar” was just on Broadway stage this past winter. It featured Debra Messing in her Broadway debut. Synopsis of the show: “Anthony and Rosemary are two introverted misfits straddling 40. Anthony has spent his entire life on a cattle farm in rural Ireland. Rosemary lives right next door, determined to have him, watching the years slip away. With Anthony’s father threatening to disinherit him and a land feud simmering between their families, Rosemary has every reason to fear romantic catastrophe.”

All 9 of the above plays that we have seen, we highly recommend them. We have even seen 3 of them (Peter and the Starcatcher, Tribes and Into the Woods) twice done by different theatres.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Another Colon Update

Ready for another procedure.
It has been 3 months since my last chemotherapy cycle treatment for stage 4 metastatic colon cancer in my lungs. So far, the follow up tests have been very good. I have a monthly CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) blood test that is used to diagnose and track certain types of cancers, especially cancer of the colon. This tumor marker test has given me 3 normal scores. I also had a PET/CT scan at the end of August that no longer showed signs of cancer in the lungs. There are still a number of very small nodules but they are not lighting up as cancerous. My next scan is scheduled for next month. All in all, good news. However, the oncologist reminds me that the cancer will be back at some point in the future, she just can't predict when.

The biggest side effect that I am still dealing with is chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (numbness and tingling in my hands, feet and mouth). Both my hands and feet continuously feels like I have been handling or walking on ice with no protection. I find it hard to walk or stand for more than a half-hour. The oncologist says there is no treatment cure for it. The best they can do is to ease the symptoms. In some cases the neuropathy is short-term; in others it can take years to go away. In severe cases it may never go away. She suggested looking into acupuncture. Many people have found relief with it. So far I have had a dozen acupuncture sessions. It is hard to say if they have made much of a difference.

In my case, the rectum has been removed and the
colon has been pulled down and attached to my anus.
Next on my health agenda is finally dealing with the anal fistula issue that has plagued me for over a year. The whole thing started last summer when a cyst formed in the scar tissue from my colorectal surgery of 5 years ago. The cyst became infected and abscessed while we were on a bike trip in France last summer. Last fall I had two operations under anesthesia to clean up the infection. At that time a seton stich was put in place. Wikipedia best describes it as: “The procedure involves running a surgical-grade cord through the fistula tract so that the cord creates a loop that joins up outside the fistula. The cord provides a path which allows the fistula to drain continuously while it is healing, rather than allowing the exterior of the wound to close over. Keeping the fistula tract open can help keep from trapping pus or other infectious material in the wound.”  The intention was to surgically remove the fistula at the beginning of this year after the infected area had healed. Instead, I was informed that my cancer had come back and spread to my lungs and that it would have to be treated first. I would have to wait and put up with its side effects until my chemotherapy treatments were through.

The two of us out and about.
The side effects of the anal fistula were not painful, just unpleasant and depressing. I had to wear a pad in my underwear 24x7 to capture leakage. I couldn’t swim or use a hot tub. Biking was impossible and running was difficult. It seemed like I was in constant cleanup mode. Despite this, I kept on going. I am not one to sit around home moping. We spent 2 weeks in Fort Lauderdale over Christmas/New Years, spent over a week in NYC attending Broadway shows, extended weekends in Ashland, Oregon (Oregon Shakespeare Festival) and Guerneville, CA (twice) and numerous weekends in San Francisco. So far this year alone, we have attended over 90 performances of plays, operas and ballets and went to the World Series.

This fall I have had two more operations under anesthesia to deal with the fistula (a fistulotomy, where the fistulous tract is surgically cut open and allowed to heal). My ass is a real piece of work. I am in the “wait and see” mode to determine how well things heal and solve my leakage and control issues. The surgeon and I are optimistic that the outcome will be good.

I leave you with some colon humor:

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