San Francisco Women’s March 2019

I just got home from the third Women’s March in San Francisco. The crowd size at Civic Center Plaza was a lot smaller this year. I got there earlier than usual so I could take a lot of photos. By the time the march started, about 45 minutes later than scheduled, my feet and lower back were protesting. I didn’t make it too far down Market Street. Still, I met some great people, and dogs, and enjoyed the day.

(Click on any photo to scroll through larger versions.)

 

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My Year End Wrap Up 2018

I always prepare for my year-end wrap up by reading what I posted at the end of the previous year. 2017 was “a tough year.” 2018’s response? “Hold my beer.” School shootings, children separated from their families and dying in detention, horrific wildfires, daily awfulness from the Trump administration, and now a government shutdown with no end in sight. I’m more grateful than ever for the things that entertain me and keep my spirits up. Here’s my best of 2018.

Best Books

My 2018 reading list began with the final five books in my Dorothy Dunnett marathon. I read a lot of Jack Reacher novels and two of Robin Hobb’s fantasy trilogies. I finished the year with a number of classics, including novels by Elizabeth Gaskell and George Eliot. I especially enjoyed The Physician by Noah Gordon. The nonfiction book that had the biggest impact on me was Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven.

Best Movies/DVDs

I only saw five movies in the cinema, and three of them were in January. I most enjoyed Paddington 2 and Love, Simon.

I learned a good strategy for the library waiting list for new DVDs, so I’ve seen a lot more recent releases than average. 2018 movies I liked: Lean on Pete, The House of Tomorrow, Game Night, Alpha, Ideal Home, Ant-Man and Wasp, Blindspotting, and Crazy Rich Asians.  The biggest disappointments were Avengers: Infinity War, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and Hot Summer Nights. Older films that stuck with me after watching include War on Everyone (2016), and The Guard (2011). The weirdest film I watched was Mænd & høns (Men & Chickens) (2015).

Permission wasn’t a great film, but there was this:

Francois Arnaud, Rebecca Hall, and pancakes in Permission

François Arnaud, Rebecca Hall, and pancakes in Permission

Best Television

Most of my television viewing was with DVD sets from library, continuing my trend of watching less live TV. I binge-watched Prison Break, and I finally saw the first season of Stranger Things. I really enjoyed The Heart Guy (called Doctor Doctor in Australia), Shetland (Scotland), Montalbano (Sicily), Anne with an E (Canada), and The Brokenwood Mysteries (New Zealand). Bodyguard kept me on the edge of my seat. The Last Post was worth watching for Jessie Buckley and Tom Glynn-Carney. I’m finishing out the year with Yellowstone, Gotham, and The Orville.

I’ll miss François Arnaud now that Midnight, Texas is cancelled, but he deserves a better series. Code Black deserved to continue, and I miss it a lot.

Best Concerts

This year I made a real effort to get out to more live events. Living in San Francisco is expensive, but there are lots of free things, and Goldstar for discount tickets has been very useful.

I had a great time seeing Ed Sheeran at AT&T Park, and I also enjoyed concerts by Aaron Tveit, Ramin Karimloo, and Ola Bilińska.

It doesn’t count as a concert, but I did go to Stars on Ice with Olympic skaters and favorite songs from Dear Evan Hansen and The Greatest Showman.

Best Theatre

Any live theatre is the best! I saw the musicals In the Heights, Into the Woods, A Walk on The Moon, Miss Saigon, and The Boy From Oz. My one play was We Swim, We, Talk, We Go To War.  I also enjoyed the Black Arts Festival at ACT’s The Strand.

As for theatres themselves, I went for my first time to the Throckmorton, the Herbst, Marines’ Memorial Theatre, the Orpheum, The Rueff, Potrero Stage, and the Gateway Theatre.

Best Music

I added a lot more theatre cast albums to my playlist, including Spongebob Squarepants, Mean Girls, Come From Away, and Hamilton. I love Eric & Happie’s Hamavdil, Michael Lee Brown’s EP, and Appleseed’s 21st Anniversary: Roots and Branches 3 CD set.

Best Tweets

Let’s face it, Twitter is no longer as fun as it used to be. I deleted all but one of my accounts, and I seriously considered leaving the platform altogether. I’m still hanging on, because it’s addictive getting the almost-as-it-happens news.

My most popular tweet of 2018 was this year’s #DuvetKnowItsChristmas photo.

Best YouTube

I spent a lot less time on YouTube in 2018. I mostly watched Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, and Trevor Noah.

Biggest Time Sucker Upper

I’m still spending too much time reading daily news briefs from The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. I enjoy the daily trivia from Now You Know. My favorite newsletter is The Levin Report from Vanity Fair.

My Entertainer of the Year

I didn’t obsess over any one actor, which is probably for the best. Honorable mentions go to Tom Glynn-Carney, Rodger Corser, Jessie Buckley, Richard Madden, George MacKay, Jack Lowden, Ben McKenzie, Charlie Plummer, Paul Rudd, François Arnaud, Adam Rippon, and Wentworth Miller.

This year’s Entertainer of the Year is Paddington Bear, because he’s kind to everybody. We all need more kindness, and that’s my wish for 2019.

Paddington 2

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Merry Castaways Christmas from The Ugly Bug Ball

When you’ve lost a relative, endured earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, avalanches and lightning storms, been captured by cannibals, & snatched by giant condors…but it all works out okay because you’re with Maurice Chevalier, it’s truly a Castaways Christmas.

Peace on earth, goodwill to all!

This is a Christmas card from the 1962 Disney film, which I found at my local thrift store. It didn’t have an envelope and had never been written on. I guess cinemas were provided with these as part of the promotional material with the film. I’ve never considered In Search of the Castaways a Christmas movie, but now I know better!

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Hamavdil by Eric & Happie

Last spring, I saw Eric & Happie perform at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. I really enjoyed their original music, and I also enjoyed chatting with Eric after their set. Their song Oklahoma has been on my morning playlist, and now I’ve added their new EP, Hamavdil. I like all five songs, with Modeh Ani an immediate favorite. Check it out!

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We Swim, We Talk, We Go To War

We Swim We Talk We Go To War

Today I went with a friend to see a preview of the play We Swim, We Talk, We Go To War,  written by Mona Mansour. I knew Mona many years ago in San Diego Junior Theatre during our teen years. I knew she was a playwright, a good one, but this is the first time I’ve seen her work. What took me so long?! Please, if you’re in the Bay Area, support small theatre companies like Golden Thread, and see this play if you can.

I don’t want to spoil anything by sharing too much about the piece, which opens tomorrow night. The description on the Golden Thread website is just the right amount of info to know going in. The piece is timely, human, intelligent, and thoughtful. It’s a serious topic, but there’s some humor as well. Just like life. What more can we ask for from live theatre?

Thank you, Mona!

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The Kids Are Alright: Peggy’s Day Out

S01E4

William (Andy Walken) reading science fiction

The Secret of Quaytar by J. Eldon Gutierrez with William (Andy Walken) and Frank (Sawyer Barth)

William (Andy Walken) reads The Secret of Quaytar by J. Eldon Gutierrez to Frank (Sawyer Barth)

In the fourth episode of The Kids Are Alright, Eddie and his no-longer-secret girlfriend Wendi take center stage, as they cope with the fallout of a broken bottle of Detroit’s finest cold duck. Timmy gets roped into Pat’s odd idea of fun, and in a parallel story, mom Peggy tests Wendi’s loyalty with a trip to a fancy beauty salon. William has a captive audience reading his latest sci fi to Frank. All the boys (and dad Mike) had good moments in the episode, and even baby Andy gets a great reaction shot.

Best seventies reference: dad Mike turns on the TV during a report about the Watergate hearings. I well remember how much daytime television was preempted for those endless hearings. As a kid I couldn’t make understand any of it, so mostly I just resented not being able to watch regular TV. Fortunately a neighbor introduced me to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys that summer.

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The Kids Are Alright

I turned nine in 1972. The early seventies were a traumatic time for my family, so I’ve never been particularly nostalgic about those years. The fashions, decor, and hairstyles were mostly awful. Brown, orange, and avocado are still my least favorite colors. With some trepidation, I checked out the pilot to new ABC sitcom The Kids Are Alright. I’m happy to say, I really love this show and encourage everyone to check it out.

The Kids Are Alright is a 1965 song by The Who, as well as the 1979 documentary that followed. Set in the summer of 1972, the sitcom is about a working class Irish-Catholic family with 8 boys. Show creator Tim Doyle narrates, and the series is centered on middle boy Timmy Cleary (Jack Gore), a redhead with dreams of stardom. All the boys are distinct enough that, after only three episodes, I have a grasp of their personalities.

The oldest son is Lawrence (Sam Straley), a long-haired liberal soon-to-be ex-seminarian. Eddie (Caleb Foote) gets no respect at the second oldest, and he’s usually fighting Frank (Sawyer Barth), an eavesdropping tattletale. Joey (Christopher Paul Richards) is precocious, cunning, and probably amoral; an old soul in an adolescent body with raging hormones. Sweet, smart William (Andy Walken) is a bookworm and the kid I relate to the most. Little Pat (Santino Barnard), in glasses, is timid with a questionable grasp on reality. Baby Andy (Sawyer and Jax Laucius)…well, hopefully we’ll be with the Cleary family long enough for him to walk and talk.

Mary McCormack plays the mom to perfection. Peggy Cleary is tough, acerbic, and an expert at economizing. Dad Mike (Michael Cudlitz) works for a defense contractor and literally brings home the bacon; he’s in charge of the grocery shopping. He wants better things for his boys, even if that doesn’t include fresh vegetables.

The seventies references are fun for us older viewers. These include The Partridge Family, Sonny & Cher, Bob Hope TV specials, the Nixon administration, grape and lettuce boycotts, film developing, and Jiffy Pop. I won’t mind if the heavier stuff from that summer is left out, like the Munich Olympics massacre. So far, the older boys aren’t fretting about the draft versus college, and that’s fine with me.

William is usually reading a book, and he’s clearly a fan of science fiction. I enjoy checking out the titles.

Dune by Frank Herbert

High Vacuum by Charles Eric Maine

Anybody’s guess!

Are there enough people who remember the seventies to keep this show on the air? I have a friend in his 30s who says, “It’s SO GOOD.” I guess you don’t have to understand all the references. Besides, we have Google now. ABC has ordered more episodes, according to Tim Doyle on Twitter, so that’s encouraging. Hopefully The Kids Are Alright will be around long enough for the Bicentennial, dittos pants, satin jackets, clackers, pop rocks, pet rocks, Roots, A Chorus Line, and Star Wars. Oh, geez, even disco.

You can watch the first three episodes streaming online, and new episodes air on Tuesday nights at 8:30/7:30c on ABC.

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