Noe Valley Voice December-January 1998-99

Short Takes

By Erin O'Briant

Ready for an Acting Class?


"People tell me all the time that they'd love to act, but they just feel too scared," says acting teacher Jessica Sage. "My aim is to create a safe, supportive environment where they can let go of their concerns about what others think."

That's just what she'll be doing this winter. Starting in January, Sage will be teaching two courses -- Acting for Beginners and Improvisation Games -- at the Noe Valley Ministry.

"I love seeing students who haven't acted since high school step into their creative power as the course progresses," she continues. "It's a real thrill!"

Sage has been teaching acting for five years. She has 15 years of professional acting experience, and also directs, produces, and writes plays and musicals.

Acting for Beginners is on Thursdays from Jan. 14 to March 4, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Improvisation Games takes place on Saturdays from Jan. 16 through March 6, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Each eight-week session costs $195 and will be held at the Ministry at 1021 Sanchez St. near 23rd. There is a 10 percent discount if you take both classes concurrently. For more info, call 824-ACT1.

Painter Shows Off Landscapes


You may have seen local artist Sherrod Blankner at the corner of 23rd and Noe streets -- she's been painting a landscape of the yellow Victorian there for the past few weeks. Now that painting, along with a number of other landscapes of Mission District and Noe Valley locations, will be on exhibit in December.

Blankner admits it can be a bit embarrassing plying her trade in broad daylight -- especially when she's in the early stages of a painting. "But the Noe Valley shoppers, dog walkers, and children make very pleasant company," she says. "The most enthusiastic comments come from the kids who pass by and say, 'What are you doing!? Are you an artist?'"

Blankner's two-weekend exhibit and sale will be held in her home at 3963A 24th St. (above 17 Reasons gift shop). You can stop by any time from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 5, 6, 12, or 13. For more information, give her a call at 824-8945, or e-mail

'Grandeur' Fills Ministry


Choral music fans will be excited to hear that the acclaimed Sanford Dole Ensemble is coming to our neighborhood as part of the Noe Valley Chamber Music series. Eight solo singers will perform a concert entitled "Intimate Grandeur," featuring Renaissance and 20th-century masterworks by Heinrich Schutz, Arnold Schoenberg, Charles Ives, and others.

This performance is part of the sixth season of Noe Valley Chamber Music, which was recently named Best Chamber Presenter by San Francisco Magazine. The series gives audiences a chance to hear chamber music the way it was intended -- in a small venue -- and to meet the artists informally.

"Intimate Grandeur" will be held at the Noe Valley Ministry at 1021 Sanchez St. on Sunday, Dec. 6, at 4 p.m. Admission is $10; $5 for students and seniors. For more information, call 333-9444.

Synergy School Opens Nearby


A progressive, private elementary school is relocating near Noe Valley. Synergy School, now housed at 975 Grove St., is remodeling the former Anderson Funeral Home at 1357 Valencia St. near 25th for occupancy in September of 1999. The new location marks a return home for Synergy -- the school was founded in 1973 at a building near 25th and Castro.

The new 13,000-square-foot location will allow the Synergy School to expand from four to eight classrooms, add five new teachers and aides, and increase the student body from 100 kids to around 170. Though Synergy is currently for elementary students only, a seventh grade will be added in the fall of '99, with eighth grade to come the following year.

Synergy School actively recruits a diverse student population, and offers financial aid based on need. There will be openings for approximately three to five new students for all grades this fall. (Parents should note the application deadline for kindergartners is Jan. 30.)

Look Synergy up on the web at, or give the school a call at 567-6177.

Holiday Choral Concert


Get into the spirit of the season with a choral concert featuring lots of holiday classics. On four dates in December, the Golden Gate Men's Chorus will sing a variety of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa tunes in both new and traditional settings. This 17th annual holiday concert also boasts the world premiere of A Stable Lamp Is Lighted, a commissioned piece by San Francisco composer David Conte. In addition, the chorus will perform pieces by Gustav Holst, Vaughan Williams, and Gallus Handl.

Concerts are at 8 p.m. on Dec. 5, 6, 8, and 15, and will be held at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church at 3281 16th St. at Dolores. Tickets are $15 each and are available at A Different Light bookstore on Castro, at the door, or by calling 863-6202.

Elf Workshops for All Ages


Santa's smallest elves will have a chance to make and wrap Christmas gifts for family and friends -- and have their pictures taken with Santa himself -- on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The free workshop at St. Aidan's Episcopal Church is open to 50 children ages 6 to 12 (kids ages 3 to 5 are welcome if accompanied by an adult), and refreshments will be served. Look for the red and green balloons at 101 Gold Mine Drive, across from the Diamond Heights Safeway. Call 285-9540 for more information.

Meanwhile, the Randall Museum is also hosting holiday workshops at 199 Museum Way. Elves of all ages (8 and under should be accompanied by an adult) can take classes in making pottery, candles, wreaths, and other gifts. There's even a bird feeder workshop. Most classes cost $7 to $10, or whatever you can afford. You'll need to sign up early for holiday classes, so call the museum at 554-9600 for a complete schedule.

Cancer Support Group Study


Women with breast cancer can get the support they need -- and help researchers determine the best format for cancer support groups -- by participating in a study sponsored by the Cancer Support Community, the Wellness Community, and Stanford University.

Volunteers should be people with breast cancer who have no evidence of metastasis or recurrence, are no more than 18 months from the end of their initial treatment, and are not currently in a cancer support group. All participants receive four months of free support group participation and $40. Four research assessments will be done during the course of one year.

The groups will meet in either San Francisco or Walnut Creek. For more information, please call 1-877-4GRPHLP.

If you are not interested in volunteering but are looking for counseling or a support group, the Cancer Support Community in San Francisco offers a Caregivers Support Group, a Grief Group, and counseling for cancer patients and their friends and families. For more information, call Brian Gerrard at 422-2137.

Miracle on 21st Street


Noe Valley's "Christmas Tree Man," Tom Taylor, will have his house decked out for the holidays again this year. For the past eight years, Taylor, along with his partner Dr. Jerome Goldstein, has transformed his home and yard into a magical tableaux, complete with a 30-foot Christmas tree surrounded by giant gift-wrapped presents and stuffed animals.

Taylor says Santa will be at the house -- at 3650 21st St., between Church and Sanchez -- from 7 to 10 p.m. starting Dec. 15 until Christmas Eve. Mr. Claus has promised to hand out candy canes to all his visitors (especially to those who can keep their voices extra low while marveling at the tree).

Each year Taylor asks that those who appreciate the festive display make a donation to the charity of their choice.

"I started suggesting this because people wanted to give us money," Taylor explains. "But we're a couple of wealthy fags, and we don't want to take any money from anybody. This is our present to you. Use it as an example of doing good."

Dreaming of a Green Christmas


Experts at the San Francisco Recycling Program predict that Americans will generate 10 billion pounds of waste this holiday season. But we can all help reduce the strain on the environment by following these tips:

- Give presents that benefit the environment -- like handmade items, gardening tools, ceramic mugs, or water-saving shower heads. Or take your loved ones on an environmentally friendly camping trip instead.

- Use a canvas bag or backpack when you shop instead of paper or plastic bags.

- For holiday parties, send invitations printed on recycled paper, buy bulk foods, and provide reusable utensils and dishes. Decorate with plants and flowers instead of plastic streamers and balloons.

- Try air-popped popcorn or crumpled newspaper as a packing material instead of styrofoam peanuts. Wrap gifts in recycled paper or reusable items like cloth napkins, scarves, and handkerchiefs. Remember to save old cards and wrapping paper for reuse.

- Instead of cutting down a tree, consider a live or reusable one. Hortica (863-4697), Potrero Gardens (861-8220), and Sloat Garden Center (752-1614 or 566-4415) all sell live potted trees, and provide delivery and pickup. If you do use a cut tree, be sure to recycle it on your street's first recycling day after Jan. 3.

If you'd like more information, call the Recycling Program hotline at 554-RECYcle for a free copy of the Have Yourself a Green Holiday Guide.

This month's Short Takes were compiled and written by Erin O'Briant, with help from Dodie Hamblen.