Deborah Taylor is Producing Results

If Broadway awarded a Tony for Rookie (Producer) of the Year, Danville’s Deborah Taylor would have won the award in a landslide victory in 2010. That year she was one of the producers who brought both American Idiot (nominated for Best Musical and winner of two Tony Awards), and a revamped production of La Cage aux Folles (Tony Award winner for Best Musical Revival), to the New York stage. Deborah quickly established herself as someone who could produce results due in large part to her love of the art form, the ability to network and bring the right people together and the importance she places on the non-profit theatre world’s influence on big stage productions.

Deborah arrived at our meeting following a one-hour spin class that she teaches at the new Danville Fit.  Dressed in an oversized knit sweater and leggings, she has the sultry good looks of a successful TV or film actress. She is of Mexican heritage (sir name, Barrera. Taylor is a “stage name”) and possesses a poised warmth reminiscent of a Julianna Margulies. A jazz dancer by training, Deborah began taking acting classes on a dare. She graduated from the Drama Studio in London and began life as a stage actress in the Bay Area and beyond. Along the way, she met and married, settling into a home at the base of Mt. Diablo in Danville. She has a daughter who graduated from Seven Hills School in Walnut Creek and then Bentley School in Lafayette, and is now attending law school in Boston.  Living amongst the well-manicured homes and business parks along I-680, one might think that suburban life could potentially slow down or derail Ms. Taylor’s passion for the theater, but Deborah continued performing and in 1992 she won a Best Actress award for her portrayal of Anne Boleyn in Anne of a Thousand Days which was performed at the Dean Lesher Theater in Walnut Creek.

In 2004, while working at the Marin Theatre Company (2004-2007), she was asked to start a new works program. While there, she began developing relationships with new writers, which began her shift from acting to producing. “I became more interested and intrigued by the process of the writer than playing a role as an action,” Deborah shared, “I wanted to understand what it takes to develop a new work. I wanted to work with writers, helping them go from an idea, to a draft, to a reading, to a workshop with a creative team and eventually get a production to the stage.”

“Deborah has an incredible work ethic and a keen sense of what will transfer from page to stage. Playwrights at every level adore her. What makes her different is her ability to gather a disparate group of artists, inspire and support them to enable them to do their best work.”  Gabriella C. Callicchio -Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Family Museum

“The Bay Area theatre community is a thriving, eclectic, intelligent mix of artists. It was and is a great place to experiment, collaborate and grow as an artist. This community supports taking risks as an artist and it empowered me to take risks as a producer,” Deborah says. Her first full producing credit was bringing the Tracy Letts play, Killer Joe, to the Magic Theater in San Francisco. Reviewed as one of the best Bay Area plays of that year, Deborah had her first hit and a refined focus. Her theater life was beginning a new phase.

In 2008, she performed in her last show as an actor at the Majestic Theatre in Boston with the Commedia dell’Arte company’s production of Tartuffe. Shortly thereafter, she assumed the position of Producing Director of the Zephyr Theater in the West Hollywood. One of the shows she produced at the 99-seat venue was The Last Schwartz, which had an impressive eight month run. “The Zephyr experience was great, but it became clear to me that if I wanted to produce theatre, I needed to look at working in New York,” said Deborah.  In January of 2009, she enrolled in the Commercial Theatre Institute in New York City, a fourteen-week program run by and for theatre producers. Despite her cross-country commute she still proudly holds the distinction of being the only student to never miss a class.

During her down time at CTI, she began making the rounds on Broadway. Never one to shy away from a networking opportunity, she called on heralded producers such as Tom Viertel (The Producers), David Stone (Wicked) and Bob Boyett (War Horse) simply to learn more about the business of producing. Around this time, Deborah heard from friend, Tony Taccone, Artistic Director of the Berkley Repertory Theatre, about a new project they were developing. It was a musical based on the concept album, American Idiot, by the band, Green Day. She invited a fellow producer from LA to come to Berkeley to see the show. They met with creator, Michael Mayer, along with Tom Hulce and Ira Pittleman (Spring Awakening) and a few months later she was asked to join the producing team to move the Berkeley Rep production to Broadway. While working on American Idiot, she was offered the chance to participate in another project headed for Broadway that same year, La Cage aux Folles, starring Kelsey Grammer. And, just like that, Deborah had producing credits on two Tony-nominated Broadway musicals.

Every rookie has an occasional slump and the theatre game can be very volatile. Life is not all big hits and Tony awards. Deborah’s next project, Elling, a 2011 play staring Brandon Frazier, based on the Oscar nominated Best Foreign Film in 2002, opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theater and closed just three weeks later. “It was a major blow to everyone and a huge learning experience for me.  I trust my instincts more now and am much more comfortable sharing my ideas,” Deborah states, “You think you’ve done everything right, but you just don’t know and Broadway can be extremely fickle.” Given her early successes, a flop was unexpected and painful. It was acclaimed producer, Jean Doumanian, who, after the final performance of Elling said, “Now, you’re a real producer!”

Deborah has since gone on to other projects including The Mountain Top, a play about Martin Luther King, which takes place at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis the day before his assassination. The play, which starred Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, played to rave reviews at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on Broadway. She also worked with respected producers Bob Boyett and Tim Levy on the transfer of the National Theatre’s production of One Man Two Guvnors, on Broadway, which won James Cordon a Tony Award for Best Actor. One of her current projects is The Old Man and the Old Moon, an off-Broadway production conceived by the very hot new band, PigPen, which is currently running at the Gym on JUDSON. It is billed as a play with music. “But it is so much more than that,” Deborah proudly shares, “I am constantly looking for work that pushes the envelope. Whether it’s something new or one of the classics, I look for projects that will excite, engage and entertain the audience.”

“Deborah has a very special ability to facilitate great artistic partnerships. She has an indefatigable passion for theatre artists and seems at her happiest when she is supporting, encouraging and nurturing them. It makes her a great supporter of Not for Profit companies and a great commercial producer – as the instinct always comes from the quality of the work itself.”  Tim Levy, Broadway Producer

Despite her busy schedule, Deborah has been on the San Francisco Ballet’s Auxiliary Board since 2006. After hosting the student showcase in 2010, she was asked to chair the GALA for the 2013 season opening night, one of the major social events of the year in San Francisco with over 900 guests. “I hope to bring a new vibe to the event and encourage a new audience to discover the amazingly cool work of the SF Ballet,” she says. This includes a Patron party at the Netherland’s Consulate and a Benefactor’s Party at Germany’s Counsel General’s personal residence. This season, the SF ballet will be co-producing a new adaptation of Cinderella with the Dutch National Ballet in an exciting work by renowned choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. Deborah and Mr. Wheeldon are also actively involved with a project in development, a musical version of An American in Paris, ultimately headed for Broadway.

Debora continues to run her own production company, FireMused Productions (the idea for the name comes from a prologue to Henry V). This spring she is producing a new musical, Hands on a Hard Body, opening on Broadway in March. Additionally, she is working on a musical odyssey project, with Trey Anastasio of Phish fame, at the La Jolla Play House in Southern California. She continues to serve on the New York based board for TECHTONIC, a non-profit theater project supporting new works such as the Laramie Project, I Am My Own Wife and 33 Variations. When asked to define her typical day, Deborah chuckles before saying, “A producer’s role changes with every new project. We essentially oversee all the details, hopefully preserving the integrity, voice and vision of the piece. Staying passionate and curious about the work is the only way to stay in it.”

Deborah Taylor’s inherit ability to value the contribution of our community based non-profit theaters as it relates to maturing a production to the grand stage is proving she has the skill set to produce results anywhere.

My Resolutions Report Card

Last year, I didn’t so much as make a list of New Year’s resolutions as much as I put together a “To Do” list for the upcoming twelve months. I haven’t historically had much luck with resolutions so this was a psychological ploy to attack the procrastination and avoidance demons I live with on a daily basis. Unlike years past, I actually think I did a pretty good job of accomplishing my personal and professional goals in 2012. I suppose the only way to truly measure a man’s success is with a report card.

I have retrieved my list of goals and objectives from last year’s humor lifestyle piece entitled My New Year’s “To Do” List, published in the February 2012 issue of Alive Magazine. I will systematically go through each targeted task and give a check to those I accomplished and deny myself a check if I don’t feel there was significant evidence to support my effort or accomplishment. I can be pretty tough on myself so feel free to look away if it gets too ugly.

  • Make More Money – I’m happy to say it was a better year for me financially in the field of commercial real estate. There was a little bit of trepidation during the first half of the year, but the market came on strong the second half thanks in part to the hiring surge in the technology industry. Perhaps you’re familiar with a few of these little companies; Twitter, Facebook, Salesforce.com, Google and Apple. They’re not my clients, but I wish they were. I supplemented my primary income this past year with a writing project you may have heard about (or not). I published my first book, Alive and Kickin’: Sideways views from an Upright Guy. I don’t want to say I am rolling in dough, but let’s just say the literary field is quiet lucrative, even if you only sell 10-15 first editions copies. A big check here.
  • Get Out and Vote – I did get out the vote, several times at a variety of polling places to be precise. Sadly, my candidate didn’t win, (See my Donald Trump Presidential Conspiracy Manifesto on the Huffington Post website), so now I have elected (get it…..elected) to support President Obama’s efforts to fix the problems facing this great nation. Check!
  • Read More – I don’t know that I read more, but I sure didn’t read any less thanks to People Magazine and the TV Guide. I even went so far as to read my first book on a tablet. Those iPad things may actually catch on eventually. Let me take this opportunity to suggest a couple of really good books from my library. For business, I highly recommend It’s Your Ship by Michael Abrashoff, and for pleasure, you might enjoy 11/23/63 by Stephen King, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern or Alive and Kickin’ by Michael Copeland. Checkaroony!
  • Write Another Screenplay – I was so busy writing my book, or should I say organizing a compilation of past articles that make up my book, that I didn’t have time to write a screenplay! This is something I promise to get to this year, maybe. No Check on this one.
  • Commune with Nature – We got into the habit of walking the dogs on the hill behind Snake Park and we circled the Lafayette Reservoir with them once or twice last summer. We played on the beach in Hawaii and took walks during in the snow during our weekend in Lake Tahoe. The entire family got into the television show, Survivor, which was shot in Costa Rico or Borneo. There was lots of nature there and you could say we lived vicariously through the contestants. Okay, half a check.
  • Learn to Appreciate the Arts – Let’s see, if by arts I was referring to music, theater and culturally enriching exhibits than I think we struck gold here. As a couple, we went to a couple of music concerts (Snow Patrol, The Fray and Toto), we saw the musical of Bring It On (theatre), we took visiting family members to the Blackhawk Auto (Museum), and we visited countless summertime art and wine festivals (with a heavier emphasis on the wine than the art if I’m being honest). We also used both our iPhone and iPad cameras (photography). I may have mentioned that I released a book (writing) and finally we saw a few movies (cinema). Check, check and checkmate.
  • Be More Romantic – Not too sure I turned up the old Romantic thermostat like I had planned. Valentine’s Day was nice and naughty, with the silk pajamas, scented candles and Barry White mood music. I just wish my wife had been in town to appreciate it. Romance is hard when you have two teenage daughters and an antique poster bed. The best I could take in the romance department was the occasional chick flick, foot massage and a bottle of inexpensive wine from Trader Joes. Subtract a check.
  • Get in Shape – LOL. Those 20 pounds I found after completing the Chicago Marathon in October of 2011 are now being kept company by five more of their lb. friends that I picked-up somewhere around Halloween. It’s not that I’m a couch potato; it just keeps getting tougher and tougher to consistently work out and watch what I eat. Long gone are the days of a fast metabolism. In fact, I think my metabolism has completely shut down and laid everybody off. No check..
  • Do Not Buy in to the End of the World Prognostication – Contrary to the Mayan Day Planner, I didn’t actually think the Earth would be ravaged by a variety of cataclysmic astronomical events on December 21. That said, I think I better return those overdue library books now. Check.
  • Take Regularly Scheduled Naps – I added this one to my list last year because making my list made me sleepy. I do take the occasional nap on Sundays so l will take a check for that one.

Looking back, I may have set the bar a little high for myself in some areas. I was just so inspired and motivated way back then. I was truly bound and determined to accomplish everything on my list and at 11:59 P.M. on December 31st, my plan was to go out to the back yard, wearing only a loin cloth, and in a ceremonial gesture, raise my hands to the sky and shout out to the stars above, “I DID IT!” That didn’t happen. No check for this one either.

Regardless whether they are Resolutions or To Do’s, making a list at the start of the New Year isn’t a bad idea. It gives us all something to strive for. Since I’m sitting here at the computer anyway, I think I’ll just jot down a few notes and ideas for the next twelve months. Start a list … Check.

 

Knock, Knock…Who’s There?

Change is not a welcome guest in many of our homes. In fact, when change comes a-knock-in’, some of us lock the door and hide under the bed. Meanwhile, the longer we try to resist change—the louder the knocking becomes. Sound familiar?

Whether we like it or not, our lives are always changing. Let’s face it, as long as we’re still breathing, we’re a “work in progress.” So the truth is, we humans are continually changing on numerous levels that include mind, body, and spirit. This may sound simple and straightforward, but the tricky part is keeping up with our own transformational process (without taking refuge under our beds).

Since stress management is often a goal of my clients, the topic of “transitions and change” comes up a lot in my private practice. In fact, I see people at a variety of ages and stages in their lives. Some clients are in the midst of change in their professional lives. For example, they are changing jobs, exploring new career paths, or retiring.

I also work with clients who are in the midst of change in their personal lives. They may be transitioning to a single lifestyle after a divorce, or after the death of a spouse, or after their children go away to college and leave behind…an empty nest. Clearly, transitions come in all colors, sizes, and textures. Can you relate?

Meanwhile, if we look closely at the various transitions each of us faces in a lifetime, we’ll see a common thread: that feeling of disorientation and resistance to the change at hand. “What will happen next?” and “Will I be okay?” can be common questions swirling in our minds when we’re in the midst of a life change. Unfortunately, these turbulent energies are a vital part of the change process.

When my clients are in the throes of change, I clarify that uncertainty, confusion, and disorientation are natural feelings during these times. For example, after one of my clients, Karla, was laid off from her job, she initially felt angry. As a result, she tossed and turned at night, unable to sleep, as her mind tried to process her underlying feelings of shock, confusion, and sadness.

I explained to Karla that change is a process. In the interim stage of transition—the period between two events—it’s natural to feel a variety of emotions, including heightened vulnerability and increased anxiety. The truth is, this interim stage can be the hardest part of change. We have left the known and familiar—but we haven’t reached our destinations yet. Thus, our lives and IDENTITIES are in limbo.

For a couple of months, I worked with Karla regarding her grief process and her fear of expressing her vulnerability to her family and close friends. Being the eldest of five girls, Karla had always seen herself as “the strong one” and admitted to feeling ashamed of her current “shaky” emotional state.

During our work, Karla courageously released some of her emotional “armor” and integrated her vulnerability into her sense of self. As a result, she felt closer to her loved ones and experienced deeper emotional connections. And, with her new sense of internal balance, she landed a job that was more fulfilling than the job she’d lost.

Nevertheless, no matter how we frame it, a major life transition can feel scary. After all, who likes to be in the midst of uncertainty? I know I sure don’t. However, transitional times often encourage us to move beyond who we think we are—enabling us to own and integrate more parts of ourselves.

So, the next time change comes a-knock-in’, let’s consider opening the door and offering it a comforting embrace. By doing so, we’ll expand our depth with the addition of each new part of our selves that we s-t-r-e-t-c-h into. Then, as we continue to move forward, we’ll nourish our ever-changing lives…with courage and compassion.

Name and client details changed to protect confidentiality

Join Trina and attend her Walnut Creek workshop for women and men: Managing Emotional and Compulsive EatingJohn Muir Women’s Health Center: Monday, February 11, 6:30-8:30 pm. Cost: $40. Seats are limited—register today: (925) 941-7900 option 3. For more info, go to www.TrinaSwerdlow.com & click on “Private Sessions & Workshops.”

Trina Swerdlow, BFA, CCHT, is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, an artist, and the author and illustrator of Stress Reduction Journal. She currently has a private practice in downtown Danville. You can reach her at: (925) 285.5759, or info@TrinaSwerdlow.com.

Start your year out right—get Trina’s inspiring FREE newsletter “Transformational Tips for Mindful Living.” Sign-up here: www.TrinaSwerdlow.com

Certified Clinical Hypnotherapy services in California can be alternative or complementary to licensed healing arts, such as psychotherapy.

 

 

 

 

What Can Go Right in 2013

What if the future is more bullish than the bears assume? All the fiscal cliff talk has certainly increased stock market volatility. In addition to this constant seesawing, the market is contending with anxieties about Europe, with the Eurozone now officially in another recession, and the strong possibility of higher taxes on capital gains and dividends in 2013 plus surtaxes on varieties of net investment income.1 Even so, 2013 may turn out to be a good year for stocks. Our economy looks to be healing, and that may give investors around the world more optimism.

A housing comeback appears evident. Our economy won’t fully recover from the downturn until the housing market does. We have strong indications that this is happening. The October report on existing home sales from the National Association of Realtors showed a 10.9% annual improvement in the sales pace, with the median sale price rising 11.1% in a year to $178,600. (The median sale price increased in October for an eighth straight month.) The Census Bureau noted a 17.2% annual rise in new home sales in October. Lastly, the Conference Board’s November consumer confidence poll found that 6.9% of respondents planned to buy a home in the next six months. In November 2010, less than 4% did.2,3,4

QE3 is open-ended. The Federal Reserve will keep buying mortgage-linked securities for as long as it sees fit, and the Wall Street Journal has reported that the Fed will likely broaden the effort to include the purchase of Treasuries in 2013 (compensating for the absence of Operation Twist next year). So cheap money should be around in 2013 and beyond thanks to the Fed’s bond-buying efforts and its dedication to maintaining historically low interest rates.5

Earnings could improve. This last earnings season was as disappointing as analysts believed it would be, but we could see gradual improvement across upcoming quarters. Citigroup sees earnings growth of 5% this year even with minor fiscal tightening.6

Consumer confidence may be translating into personal spending. Back in November, the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index reached a mark of 73.7; the highest level since February 2008. Chain-store sales were up 3.3% during Thanksgiving week from the week before, and up 4% from last Thanksgiving week according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.7

There are economists who think 2013 could be a key transitional year, a step toward a more robust economy at mid-decade. If solid economic indicators inspire companies and consumers to spend and invest more, 2013 might surprise even the most ardent stock market bears.

  1. cbsnews.com Return of Europe recession is bad news for U.S. 11/15/12
  2. investorplace.com Existing home sales climb in October 11/19/12
  3. latimes.com/business LA new home sales 11/28/12
  4. wsj.com/economics Price rise shows a better balanced U.S. housing market 11/27/12
  5. marketwatch.com Treasury’s Operation twist program & long term rates 11/28/12
  6. cnbc.com Earnings Outlook Now in Congress Hands 11/21/12
  7. investors.com Fiscal cliff fears don’t sink durable goods confidence 11/27/12


Damien helps individuals invest and manage risk. He is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and a principal of Walnut Creek Wealth Management. These are the views of Damien Couture, CFP® and not intended as investment advice. Your comments are welcome. Damien can be reached at 925-280-1800 x101 or Damien@WalnutCreekWealth.com.

The Cliff Ahead: What Will It Mean?

For the past two years, like Thelma and Louise driving through the country in their fun convertible Thunderbird, we have been enjoying ourselves in the days of a large $5M estate tax exemption and a low top tax rate of 35%. Unfortunately, just like for Thelma and Louise, these heady times were bound to come to an end. At the end of 2012 the estate tax exemption will default back to $1M and the top tax rate will rise back up to 55%. So here we are revving our engines and staring out over the hood of the Thunderbird at the cliff that is December 31, 2012. Are we destined to drive off the cliff or will some kind of legislative miracle save us – and getting Congress to agree on anything will be a minor miracle?

We all knew this day was coming so many made large gifts out of their taxable estate in order to take advantage of the generous exemption amount before it comes to an end. The decision to make such large gifts is unique to each individual as many factors go into it: financial composition of the individual, assets available to gift, etc. Many also took pause because of the potential for a “claw back” tax. I doubt it is a coincidence that this concept takes such a menacing name. The basic idea is that there is a possibility that the government will still be able to collect the taxes you avoided by taking advantage of the high exemption and making an exempt gift in 2012 if ultimately the estate tax exemption is lowered.

Some planners thought that after the election results were in we would get a better idea of how things might play out. Some Republicans want a complete repeal of the estate tax, while others would like to extend the current law. However, as President Obama was re-elected, his plan to lower the estate tax exemption to $3.5M and raise the top tax rate to 45% might be more of a reality. However, he is also fighting hard with Republicans on a plethora of other tax issues, including income taxes. It is possible that the estate tax debate might be conceded by the President in an effort to make gains on other tax policies. There is also division amongst the Democrats about the looming reversion back to the $1M exemption as such a “low” exemption could negatively impact many farms and ranches.

There is still a lot of uncertainty on how the estate tax will play out at the end of this year but as we get closer to the deadline we should start to see how resolved each party is on their position and what concessions will or will not be made. With any luck by the time this article is published in January Congress will have come to an agreement on the estate tax and we can all plan accordingly. Let’s just hope we don’t find ourselves with a white knuckle grip on the steering wheel of our Thunderbird as we fly off the cliff into the default of a $1M estate tax exempt

 

0113-Legal-Lines

Christopher Jew- Associate Trial Attorney – Mr. Jew practices in the area of trusts and estates, including estate planning, conservatorships, probate of decedent’s estates and trust administration. He also has extensive experience in probate and trust litigation often involving undue influence and financial elder abuse. Mr. Jew serves as court appointed counsel for proposed conservatees for the San Francisco County Superior Court. Additionally, Mr. Jew contributes to De La Housaye & Associate’s transactional practice, including contract drafting and negotiations.

Sakura

There is an anomaly in the dining out universe. Have you ever noticed that when we encounter a positive dining experience our first reaction is eagerness to share the details with the people closest to us while simultaneously planning our return visit, except when it comes to sushi? With sushi restaurants it seems to be this covert operation of research and development. Hours of sampling and analyzing. Picking that one restaurant that you will call “your sushi restaurant” but like a poker player with pocket Kings, you keep it close to your chest, only to dole out the information when the situation calls for it. An important date or out of town family member will benefit from your research but you’ll be damned if your going to tell the guy in accounting; you don’t want the whole world to know!

Today I will share with you “my sushi restaurant.” Sakura in Crow Canyon Commons, San Ramon is my Japanese home away from home. No other place I know greets you like Tony does, and he has been doing it for over 17 years.

I didn’t realize how special it was until my 3rd visit, and here is why. My first visit was the research part. Fish focus heavy and Sakura nailed it. At the same time I got to meet the gregarious character behind the bar named Tony, who (in hindsight), paid close attention to our names upon introduction.

The second visit was developmental—a bit more daring in the fish selection. A real “let’s open this thing up and see what she’s made of” outing. Again…nails, and Tony, who had us repeat our introductions from the first visit months prior with little to know fanfare. The third visit was well over a year later. I walked into Sakura at 7pm on a fairly busy night.—“TOBY-SAN”—a genuinely excited Tony yelled from behind the roll he was constructing. Game-Set-Match!

No matter how much time passes between my visits, it’s always the same sprinkled with the knowledge he gained from my life on the prior visit. “TOBY-SAN, how is your wife?”; “TOBY-SAN, how old is your baby now?” He is incredible. Fifteen plus years in the business and I have never seen such light in another human soul so effortlessly shared with hundreds.

Okay, what about the fish? Tony does what true Sushi Chefs have been doing in Japan for generations. Every morning before you have even thought about your snooze button, Tony makes his way to the fish market to find out what is fresh. If it’s good, he buys it, then trucks it to San Ramon and prepares it with the artistic ability reserved more for those with brushes rather than knives. Knowing there is nothing I won’t try, he seems excited to peel back my head and drop previously un-heard of creations directly on my brain. I have had an oyster with layers of flavor and texture that would have Narsai David quitting his job for lack of anything better to write about. I have had Bonito fish that transform me into a samurai and my wife a geisha. I have had whole pickled baby octopus that looked as though it may actually leave my plate in a mad dash for the sanctuary of the ocean. And Tony always has OO Toro!

I always ask Tony how business is, and with an obvious heavy heart his last three responses have been, “Not good Toby-San. Not good.” This will not happen on my watch. Sakura is a goldmine of everything we look for in a dining experience. The Oakland A’s call this place home. A friend of mine, in her mid-twenties, has celebrated her birthday there every year since she was eight.

I’m not suggesting you should go — I’m telling you! Support the things that make this area so special before we wonder “what happened?”

Sakura Japanese Cuisine
3151C Crow Canyon Place, San Ramon, CA Tel.925-277-1628

Wedding Bells For The Bride This Year? Choosing The Right Bridal Make-Up

Weddings are so very special. Planning a wedding can take months and can be very time consuming with all the details involved. One detail you don’t want to overlook is your make-up. When choosing your make-up style for your wedding you want to make sure you look updated and use the right cosmetic colors.

Plan as we might, unforeseen wedding day crisis may pop up from unwanted blemishes to under eye circles. Luckily, you have choices to seek out good beauty professionals that will assist you and make your day effortless and help you look your best. I have seen so many ruined bridal pictures by wearing the wrong color foundation to wearing purple or blue eye shadow. A bridal consultation is about what the bride wants. We like to use soft and natural tones to enhance the beauty of the bride. Remember, you will be taking a lot of pictures on this most special day; so wearing the correct make-up colors is vital.

Beauty and the Bride
The ultimate make-up application for a bride should be polished and formal without taking away from her own natural beauty. The right make-up for wedding photography creates refinement and pushes a look forward with a natural simplicity with a bridal trendy look. Using soft colors and warm undertones are keys to complimenting the bride’s own style and skin tones, which will photograph beautifully. We, as make-up professionals have a keen eye for detail, color balance and we will help you and your wedding party look their best in pictures.

When a bride comes in to our studio for a consultation, we always ask them what they want to look like and what they are looking for. Usually girls know what they want but they just don’t know how to achieve it; the consultation should be a collaboration of what the bride truly wants and what the artist suggests. This is a formal event, so being finished, flawless and a little above natural should be the option, but also looking like yourself, “soft and glowing.”

At The Rouge we specialize in wedding make-up and have been doing so for over 20 years. Our brow and beauty experts stay current with the latest trends and styles, giving the bride and wedding party the best and the utmost updated looks that are formal yet polished. We do pre-bridal consultations Tuesday through Saturday by appointment only. Please come by and enjoy our gorgeous line of cosmetics by Fleur Visage. Starting the year off right and choosing the right wedding make-up artist is just one more thing off the bridal checklist!

Baseball’s Steroid Era Coming to a Head with this Month’s Hall of Fame Vote

The Baseball Hall of Fame is announcing the results of this year’s election on Jan. 9, just about when this issue of Alive will hit the street. The results for two recent players will be of particular interest.

Barry Bonds was perhaps the greatest hitter since Babe Ruth and won seven MVP Awards. Roger Clemens was perhaps the greatest pitcher since World War II and won seven Cy Young Awards. Both are eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Neither is likely to get in. How is that possible? In a word, steroids.

Bonds and Clemens are widely believed to have used performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) during their big league careers. Both played far longer than normal and put up incredible numbers. Many of us in the Bay Area were thrilled by the performances of Bonds during his 15 seasons with the Giants. During that time he set the single season and career record for homeruns.

Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro each had what would be considered Hall of Fame careers and have been up for election for several years. Both are associated strongly with PEDs, and neither has come close to receiving enough votes for enshrinement.

For many, it is an easy choice. If it is known or strongly believed that these players cheated and broke laws by using PEDs during their careers then they don’t deserve Hall of Fame status. Some think they’re fortunate not to be in prison. Others point out that the Baseball Hall of Fame is filled with dubious characters, so why single out steroid users? Yes, PEDs set a bad example for young fans, but so does racism, alcoholism, wife beating, and drug addiction. There are members of the Hall of Fame who are known to have done all those things.

Another point of view is that the steroid era is just another phase in baseball history, and that since many players from the 1990s and early 2000s were likely using PEDs, all we’re doing is recognizing the best of the best in what was likely a reasonably level playing field.

Before Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers, major leaguers achieved what they did in a time when a large segment of the American population was actively excluded from the game. Would players like Ruth and Joe DiMaggio achieved what they did if they had to face the best possible competition instead of just the best possible white competition?

International scouting has enriched the major leagues to the point where only about 65 percent of players were born in the United States. Would Sandy Koufax and Willie Mays have achieved what they did if their competition came from around the world instead of essentially from around the country?

The real shame is that players with absolutely no direct connection to PEDs, Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza are two examples, have to bear the increased scrutiny of Hall of Fame voters because they played in the steroid era and displayed unusual power.

Ten years ago one could reasonably assert that the very best players in the history of our national game were enshrined in Cooperstown. That is no longer true. Now, Hall of Fame status has to be explained and qualified, which takes something away from the honor for those who have achieved it and also for fans making a pilgrimage to honor the greats of the game.

So … are Bonds, Clemens, McGwire and Palmeiro Hall of Famers? What would you do if you had a vote?

Let’s Make a New and Different Resolution

In my December column I introduced a new reason for avoiding non-thinking, overindulgent eating. That new reason is saving your telomeres. Telomeres are relatively newly discovered protective caps at the ends of our chromosomes, quite similar to the plastic caps at the end of a shoelace. Basically, as you grow older each time the cell divides, the telomere becomes shorter and life ends when it is gone.

Protecting the telomere from undo damage can not only extend life and youthful appearance, but help to avoid many common diseases. The way to do this was my concluding sentence of the last column—stay as close to nature as possible. This means eating natural, organic foods and avoiding anything that you can eat straight from a box.

Nature definitely does not include smoking, processed foods and trans-fats. Another villain is genetically altered foods. Recently it has been proven that excessive stress over long periods can do serious damage as well.

The good news is that it looks like science is on the verge of reversing the shortening of your telomeres and therefore extending your life expectancy. An enzyme called telomerase can increase the length of the telomere, essentially reversing the aging process.

In 2011, Dr Ronald DePinho, professor of genetics from Harvard Medical School, shocked the world by taking elderly mice (the equivalent of humans in their 80’s) and returning them to youthful form, including the ability to reproduce. They regained their vision and grew back a normal, youthful brain.

One of the leaders in what it takes to reverse aging, and is involved in making supplements available, is Dr. Al Sears of Royal Palm Beach, FL. He has published extensively on this subject and his work is available online. Although reversing the aging process has yet to be fully accomplished, the reports of patients that have been following his regime are incredible and it appears that a virtual fountain of youth is on its way. The important thing is that we are now aware of what it takes to prevent accelerating the aging process and how to slow it down drastically.

The key factors that accelerate the aging process are: excessive stress; a poor diet high in processed foods, dairy, empty calories (sugar, junk food and alcohol); and trans-fats. There are many supplements that can be taken to stimulate your body’s production of telomerase. One of those is TA-65, an extract of the Chinese herb astragalus. This extract is available on the internet at $219.00 for a one month’s supply. Since the discovery of TA-65, many other far less expensive supplements have been proven to help, including Resveratrol, Green Tee extract (EGCG), N-Acetyl-Cysteine, Vitamin D3 and Vitamin E.

The discovery of the impact of the telomere and telomerase should be taken very seriously. There is no wonder why diabetes, breast cancer, heart disease and arthritis are epidemic in our society. Why bother cooking breakfast for your kids when you can open a box of ready-made cereal (or better yet, they can) and they can enjoy all that sugar and processed grains, not to mention the fact that they lose a chance to eat with you and relieve stress by talking their plans for the day? For dinner, grab something from a box and nuke it so that you don’t have to take the time to share your love through cooking nutritiously, and then why not turn on the TV so that you can avoid conversation?0113-Dr.-Brown

We evolved without these modern “conveniences” and distractions and it’s time to get back to a more natural lifestyle. That path has been scientifically proven to extend your life. I can’t over emphasize the most important factors that would already have you looking and feeling younger: an all-natural diet without drug, tobacco or alcohol abuse; sensible stress relief; proper exercise and plenty of laughter and love.

Include a commitment to follow the above guidelines in a New Year’s resolution and you could have a vital, active and meaningful life for you and your loved ones in 2013 and beyond.

Robert Brown, DDS has a TMJ and sleep apnea practice in Danville and thoroughly enjoys discussing holistic medicine. You can contact him at 925-837-8048, at info@aodtc.com, or visit his web site at www.aodtc.com.

Trivial Matters – January 2013

Shouldn’t keep talking about places I have been, but am doing this little exercise sitting at Cascada de Baja in Cabo San Lucas. What better excuse to ask a few puzzlers about the land south of the Border?

  1. In the song “South of the Border,” what told the cowboy that he “should not stay south of the border”?
  2. What “mania” possessed the Los Angeles Dodgers in the early 1980s?
  3. Who played Pancho Villa in the 1934 movie “Viva Villa”?
  4. Mel Blanc played a Mexican character on the Jack Benny radio show in a hilarious, oft- repeated bit. What was this character’s very un-Mexican name?
  5. What was the name of the astronaut played by Bill Dana on the Steve Allen TV show?
  6. Who was hailed as the liberator of Mexico from French rule in the 1800’s?

December Answers

  1. “Dr. No”
  2. Ursula Andress
  3. Oddjob
  4. George Lazenby
  5. Timothy Dalton
  6. Barry Nelson

DECEMBER WINNER:
MARIA BARANDICA OF SAN RAMON

WIN LUNCH ON BEN!
The first person to email or mail, no calls please, the correct answers to all of the above questions will win a $25 gift certificate for Restaurante Forli in downtown Alamo, compliments of Ben Fernandez! Entries must be received by Jan 20, 2013. In the event of a tie, the winner will be drawn at random. Please email your answers to info@aliveeastbay.com, or mail to ALIVE East Bay, 3200 A Danville Blvd., Ste. 204, Alamo, CA 94507. Employees and family members of employees of ALIVE East Bay are not eligible. Restaurant may be changed without notice.