BREAST CANCER AWARENESS 2021
OCTOBER 7 - 13, 2021 • TUCSONWEEKLY.COM • FREE
Conquering Cancer A Local Group is Providing Vital Support for People who are Facing a Tough Diagnosis By Emily Dieckman
Plus: Why You Should Get a Cancer Screening Now MUSIC: Celtic Notes TUCSON WEEDLY: Vets and Cannabis CINEMA: A Low Note for the Sopranos
OCTOBER 7, 2021
OCTOBER 7, 2021
OCTOBER 7, 2021 | VOL. 36, NO. 40
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CONTENTS THE SKINNY
GOP candidates for U.S. Senate want to ban abortion
Music, classes and exhibits around town this week
The Many Saints of Newark doesn’t do justice to the Sopranos
ADMINISTRATION Steve T. Strickbine, Publisher Michael Hiatt, Vice President
EVERY OCTOBER, IN HONOR OF Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Tucson Weekly joins with its sister papers in the Tucson Local Media empire to bring a special focus to a disease that will affect nearly 6,000 Arizona women and their families in 2021. Fortunately, the treatment for breast cancer has come a long way, although the American Cancer Society estimates the cancer will kill nearly 900 women in the state this year. With the COVID-19 pandemic, being treated for cancer has been even more challenging than usual. Contributor Emily Dieckman talks with women who had to be extra-cautious during chemotherapy because the procedure takes such a toll on their immune system. Plus, at times, they couldn’t bring family to the appointments for support. But they nonetheless found help thanks to Cancer Conquerors, a support group that lets women share their stories and work out to rebuild their strength. Another important key to fighting breast cancer is early detection through screening. But with the novel coronavirus outbreak, many people have put off those screenings. Carol Roder of the American Cancer Society explains why it’s so important to catch the disease early and start treatment. Finally, Tucson Local Media health
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columnist Mia Smitt examines the different kinds of breast cancer as well as various treatment options. Bottom line: If you’ve put off your breast cancer screening—or any cancer screenings or health appointments—it’s time to get back on track. Elsewhere in the paper this week: Tom Danehy shares some stories from newspapers from across the USA; The Skinny examines the positions of Senate GOP candidates on abortion rights; movie critic Bob Grimm says The Many Saints of Newark doesn’t live up to The Sopranos; arts writer Margaret Regan previews this weekend’s concert of Celtic music; Xavier Omar Otero previews many of the other concerts happening this week; Tucson Weedly columnist David Abbott looks at a new Senate bill aimed at helping veterans who use medical marijuana; and we have plenty more in our pages, including your guide to fun in City Week, lots of cartoons and plenty of other diversions to keep you busy flipping our pages. Jim Nintzel Executive Editor Hear Jim Nintzel talk about how to have fun in this burg at 9:30 a.m. Wednesdays during the World Famous Frank Show on KLPX, 96.1.
RANDOM SHOTS By Rand Carlson
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Quebec band brings traditional Celtic music to Tucson
A new Senate bill aimed at helping veterans who use medical marijuana
Cover image courtesy of Tucson Cancer Conquerors
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OCTOBER 7, 2021
DANEHY AN AMERICAN ROADTRIP VIA NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS By Tom Danehy, firstname.lastname@example.org SO THERE’S THIS NERDY MARRIED couple I know. When they were dating, their idea of a hot date was to go to dinner and then work on a jigsaw puzzle together. Now that they’re married, they go to museums and stuff, but they do so in other cities so that they have to stay over in a hotel…together! Born to be wild, huh? Anyway, a few weeks ago, they flew to the Midwest to do married nerd stuff. It sounded like a vacation that they had seen on a rerun of Malcolm In The Middle. They were about to fly home from Chicago when flights started getting canceled due to the surge in COVID cases involving the Delta variant. So they made a snap decision and rented a vehicle and decided to drive back to Tucson. Considering
the cost of car rentals these days, they could have used the money to buy a house in Chicago and just live there until COVID passes. They’re very thoughtful people. They know not to bring me stuff like state magnets for the side of the microwave or anything edible. Because they know what I like, they bring me newspapers. I love newspapers; always have. One of my earliest memories was of my high-school-educated dad sitting at the kitchen table, reading the Los Angeles Times from front to back. He was a voracious reader and the L.A. Times back then was a prodigious undertaking. I remember an urban legend about Barbara Bain (a cast member on the original Mission:
Impossible TV series) filing a huge lawsuit because her dog was killed by the Sunday L.A. Times that was thrown over her wall. It was possible to trace their trip by the papers they brought me (and the highlights therein). First: • From The Gazette (Eastern Iowa’s independent, employee-owned newspaper), there’s this. “An auto racing announcer from southern Minnesota is out for the rest of the season following a racist rant he made during a side gig in Iowa last month…” Complaining about people who wouldn’t stand for the national anthem, announcer Lon Oelke said (on the loudspeaker) that he wanted to make a “public service announcement.” He then said, “I’ve got four words for you. Find a different country if you won’t (stand). Get the hell out of Dodge.” He went on to say that his remarks were “for those folks, I guess the darker-toned skin color. I’ll just say, Blacks. They want a different national anthem and the NFL is thinking about doing
it. I say just shut the TVs off and let them play in front of nobody.” • From the front page of the Iowa City Press-Citizen, we learn that local author Rachel Yoder sold her debut novel. It’s called Nightbitch. According to the Random House website, the premise of the book is: “An artist turned stay-at-home mom becomes convinced that she’s becoming a dog.” OK. What the hell, if people are willing to buy a book by venom-spewer Mark Levin about supposed Marxists in America (seriously?!), there will probably be an audience for Nightbitch. One of the reasons I mentioned this is that Yoder holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Fiction from the University of Arizona. But she also has an MFA in non-fiction from the University of Iowa. Dude, make up your damn mind. Also from the Gazette comes word that Cedar Rapids Prairie High lost a heartbreaker to Pleasant Valley in the State baseball semifinals. Because of the brutal weather, Iowa has always
OCTOBER 7, 2021
held its high-school baseball seasons in the summer after the seniors have graduated. It’s kinda’ cool. • In Ellsworth County, Kansas, the Independent Reporter tells us to “Czech out our Czech Festival Edition.” The front page has an article about how Larry and Donna Ptacek were selected as grand marshals for the Czech Festival Parade. Early in the article, we’re assured that Larry is “100 percent Czech.” Larry and Donna own Mike’s Plumbing and Heating. Wait, who’s Mike and what have you done with him? • Then it was on to Boise City, Oklahoma, which, according to Google Maps, is not near anything. As I’ve said, I love newspapers and I want all of them to survive and thrive. But I don’t know how the Boise City News is going to make it. In the upper left-hand corner of the front page, in 40-point type, it says that the paper costs .75¢. How can they make any money that way?! And how do they make change for a penny?
Down the left-hand side of the front page, they have the Boise City Senior Citizens Menu. Wednesday was Italian Baked Fish, with Cole Slaw, Potato Wedges, and Strawberry Shortcake. Thursday was Pimento Cheese Sandwich with Tomato Soup and Coconut Cream Pie. Then it says “Closed on Friday.” What the heck?! If they haven’t passed out from hunger, they can come back on Monday for Meatloaf with Brown Gravy. • The Santa Fe New Mexican had a front-page editorial about how the woman who is becoming the acting majority leader of the state House of Representatives should not take the position because she’s married to a high-powered lobbyist. The reason that she’s moving up is that the person who held the position is suspected of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Albuquerque Public Schools. Ah, traditional politics. ■
OCTOBER 7, 2021
THESKINNY By Jim Nintzel email@example.com WITH A SUPREME COURT THAT’S looking for an avenue to overturn Roe v. Wade (or at least whittle away at it until it’s irrelevant), abortion rights have never been more threatened in United States. Texas has already found a workaround that has shut down access to most abortion services (at least for now) and other GOP-led states are eager to follow suit. Republican leaders in Arizona make no bones about wanting to see the end of Roe v. Wade. Gov. Doug Ducey has come right out and said he wants to see the landmark 1973 ruling gone. It appears that none of the major Republican candidates seeking to oust Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly
support abortion rights. Tech edgelord Blake Masters, who is making his political debut backed by bazillionaire Peter Theil, told the Relatable podcast last week that he’s “unapologetically pro-life” and believes Roe v. Wade was a “horrible decision.” He said he believed Congress should pass a “personhood law.” “Absolutely no abortions,” said Masters, who then qualified that a compromise might allow states to allow “some amount” of abortions. He added that abortion rights supporters see abortion as a “religious sacrifice.” “I think it’s demonic,” Masters said. “And I think we have to put a stop to it.” Masters campaign manager Amalia C. Halikias did not reply by deadline regarding whether Masters supports an exception to his proposed abortion ban
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OCTOBER 7, 2021
The GOP candidates running for Senate next year want to end abortion in the United States when the pregnancy results from rape or incest. Masters’ position suggesting that pro-choice Americans were in the thrall of Satan may be the most radical of the 2022 GOP Senate candidates, but Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has called for overturning Roe v. Wade as well. (It’s a shame Brnovich’s pro-life stance doesn’t extend to the living, but given his recent anti-vaccine pandering, it’s pretty clear that he’s cool with more than 200 Arizonans dying every week from COVID. Mick McGuire, the retired Air Force major general and adjunct general of the Arizona National Guard, said during a radio interview that he believes “life begins at conception and it’s a states right issue.” He fully supports the Texas law that allows any citizen in the United States to seek $10,000 bounties not only
from abortion providers, but also women who seek abortions and even Uber drivers who take them to the clinic. Jim Lamon, the power-plant and solar energy developer who is making his first foray into politics, says on his website that he will support “every person’s—born or unborn—unalienable right to life.” Kelly, who supports abortion rights, will likely face one of these four candidates. (There are other Republicans in the race but they don’t have much of a chance of prevailing in the GOP primary.) And given that Arizona still leans Republican and the party in the White House frequently loses seats in the midterms, he’s got a tough race ahead of him. But one thing is clear: The pro-choice Republican has definitely been terminated in today’s GOP. ■
OCTOBER 7, 2021
Editor’s Note: While we are delighted to see Tucsonans once again gathering for fun events, we are also aware that the Delta variant is circulating and case counts in Arizona are on the rise. Please consider getting vaccinated against COVID if you haven’t yet and following CDC guidance, which includes wearing masks at crowded indoor events. Keep yourself and others safe—the pandemic isn’t over yet. Tucson Meet Yourself. TMY is back, and in person this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with all the performances, folk art and, of course, food booths! There’s a wide selection of events, but just one of them is Ted Warmbrand, a folk musician who has used songs to build community, protest injustice and bring joy. His show “Music From the Living Room” was one of KXCI Community Radio’s original programs, and aired for 17 years. Ted says he expects to share songs with “some humor, some sorrow and some vision.” 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 8. Lawn Stage (south of the downtown library and Jacome Plaza). Return of the Mercado Flea. Did you know the Mercado Flea is just about to start its fourth season? It feels like it’s been a part of the community for much longer. This second Sunday open-air market, held from October through May, features dozens of vendors selling antiques and an array of other used and collectible items. It happens down in the Mercado District, and all the restaurants and coffee shops are open, so it’s a perfect Sunday morning adventure. Treat yourself to something from Decibel Coffee, Presta Coffee, Dolce Pastello, La Estrella Bakery or elsewhere, then stroll through the aisles. 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10. Sidewalks along Avenida Del Convento between Congress & Cushing. Silver City Art Association Weekend at the Galleries. In a mood for a spur-ofthe-moment road trip? Silver City, New Mexico, has the perfect weekend all set up for you. This annual event, featuring 18 art galleries and the work of more than 100 artists, is in its 21st year, and it just keeps getting better. Aside from viewing all the art, you can also watch art demonstrations, enjoy live music, meet the artists, purchase local art and enjoy some of Silver City’s finest dining. Saturday, Oct. 9 from 11 am. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Receptions are 4 to 7 p.m. on Saturday. Downtown Silver City.
Sundays in the Garden. There are a lot of reasons we look forward to this time of year. One of them is the return of this lovely fall concert series at Tohono Chul. Stroll through the gardens in the afternoon, and, if you’re so inclined, visit the cash bar for some beer, wine, prickly pear margaritas or prickly pear lemonade. The show is free with admission, so we recommend coming early or staying late so you can enjoy the sights as well. This week, Grupo Riken is playing folkloric music from Latin America and the Caribbean. Their sounds come from folk instruments like the Puerto Rican cuatro, the Peruvian Cajon and Afro-Caribbean percussion bongos. 1:30 to 3 pm. Sunday, Oct. 10. Tohono Chul, 7366 Paseo del Norte. Admission is $15 general, $13 for seniors, military and students and $6 for kids 5 to 12.
by Emily Dieckman
Pumpkin Fiesta. The Sonoran Glass School is serving up fall vibes all month long this October with a series of events. Stop into the glass studio (open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday) to catch some free, live glassblowing demonstrations and browse a huge selection of beautiful glass pumpkins they created. They’re also hosting a series of “Make-Your-Own-Pumpkin Experiences” throughout the month, so you can try your own hand at glassblowing. Call 884-7814 to reserve a spot in one of the classes, and to make sure they’re ready for you before you swing by for a demonstration. 633 W. 18th St.
Lizzy and the Triggermen at Hotel Congress. The LA Weekly once dubbed this group “10-piece jazz sensations.” And you know what they say: The words of an alt weekly are as good as gold. The band makes their Arizona debut in this concert co-sponsored by the Tucson Jazz Festival. They’ve got horns, they’ve got rhythm, and they’ve got killer vocals. With a mix of originals and re-imagined gems, they end up with something that sounds like Count Basie meets Fiona Apple. And who wouldn’t want to meet those people? 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8. Hotel Congress Plaza, 311 E. Congress St. $20. 21+.
LADY HAHA Comedy Open Mic for Women & LGBTQ+. We love a comedy show that represents a variety of people! And that’s what this show is all about. Hosted by local comedians Priscilla Fernandez, Mo Urban and Amber Frame, this is a night full of all forms of comedy. Come on up and do five minutes of stage time (or seven if you buy a drink). If you’re not the type, you can always just come to watch and have a good laugh. Sign up starts at 7 p.m. and open mic starts at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13. 191 Toole. Free. Casa Marana Oktoberfest. So, real Oktoberfest was cancelled this year, and it would be over by now even if it wasn’t. But we won’t let that get us down! We’re just going to head up to Marana to celebrate with an afternoon full of beer, wine, spirits, vendors, games and live music! Vendors include Desert Dweller Threads, Hobo Bags, Zonalove, Jaegerfarmhaus Rubs and Crystal Riha creations. There’s also a stein-holding contest and beer pong from 5 to 7 p.m. Live music is from 7 to 9 p.m. The whole shebang is from 3 to 9 p.m. at Casa Marana, 8225 N. Courtney Page Way. St. Philip’s Plaza Market – Mimosas, Music and Market. If you’ve been to the St. Philip’s Plaza Farmer’s Market, you already love it. Gorgeous jewelry, yummy food, beautiful plants, and plenty of quirky and creative products from local makers. We love the luxurious skincare products, cozy socks and huge tea selection as well. This week, take a mid-shopping break to grab a mimosa or cocktail from either Reforma Modern Mexican, Union Public House or Proof Artisanal Pizza and Pasta. Chat with friends while you enjoy the live music and decide what you’re going to buy next. 4280 N. Campbell Ave. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9. Turquoise Trail Guided Walking Tours. Sometimes it’s good to take a day to be a tourist in your own town. This is a perfect chance. Led by docents from the Presidio San Agustin del Tucson, this tour covers the 2.5-mile Turquoise Trail, which goes through the heart of downtown. See some of the Old Pueblo’s architectural gems with new eyes when you learn all about the history behind them. Register to reserve your spot, either for this week’s tour or through one of the other dates being held through December. 6 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9. 196 N. Court Ave. $15 Presidio members, $20 nonmembers.
OCTOBER 7, 2021
The Many Saints of Newark doesn’t do justice to the Sopranos them get the kind of focus that makes them anything near worth your time. There are multiple storylines and characters at play as the action begins in 1950s FOURTEEN YEARS AFTER THE screen went to black (I’m in the Tony’s dead Newark, where race riots interrupt the flow camp!), The Sopranos returns with a prequel of mafia business and Christopher Molisanti’s (Michael Imperioli) father is leading a movie that proves to be a miscalculation troubled life. Alessandro Nivola portrays in continuing the franchise. It’s proof that, Dickie, Christopher’s dopey daddy, a fancy sometimes, it’s a little too hard to go back. With The Sopranos TV series, viewers got gangster whose own dad (Ray Liotta) brings home a beautiful wife from Italy. used to storylines that could breathe and The relationship between Dickie and his build with the comfort of multiple episodes stepmom and eventual mistress, Giuseppiand seasons. Guest actors, like Steve Busna (Michela De Rossi) takes up the majority cemi, could bloom over many hours before of the movie, and that’s the main problem getting shot in the face. With The Many Saints of Newark, creator with the film. There isn’t enough runway to make these characters sympathetic. For David Chase and company try to tell a bunch of Sopranos old history in two hours, that matter, younger versions of Soprano favorites like Silvio, Paulie, Junior and, of and something about the whole enterprise course, the biggie, Tony Soprano, feel equalfeels wrong. Characters are introduced, ly underdeveloped. some brand new and some younger Young Tony Soprano (played by Michael versions of characters fans know. None of By Bob Grimm firstname.lastname@example.org
Gandolfini, son of James, as a teen) idolizes his Uncle Dickie. Gandolfini is OK here, but probably not ready to truly carry a movie just yet, so Anthony/Tony is more of a supporting character. Saints feels like a warmup movie for him, with perhaps a meatier role featuring Anthony busting skulls in his 20s in a future chapter (although, the dismal box office for this chapter might signal an end to the franchise). There’s some coolness in the movie relating to Soprano’s lore, like Anthony meeting crying-baby Christopher, who doesn’t seem to dig his uncle (and eventual killer) that much. It’s sort of the reverse of young Anakin (soon to be Darth Vader) meeting Self Serve Buffet is back!
Obi-Wan in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan not knowing that the cute kid is going to kill him someday. Corey Stoll steps in as younger Junior Soprano, who at one point utters an easter egg line involving varsity sports. Comedic actor Billy Magnussen convincingly portrays a young Paulie Walnuts, with only subtle hints of the older Paulie’s eccentricities, a wise choice. John Magaro brings a little too much Stevie Van Zandt mugging to young Silvio Dante, who winds up being a little too cartoonish. A teenaged Carmella Soprano makes a blink and you’ll miss it appearance at a phone booth. CONTINUED ON PAGE 12
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OCTOBER 7, 2021
FIDDLES AND BOOTS Quebec band brings traditional Celtic music to Tucson By Margaret Regan email@example.com THE CELTIC FIDDLE FESTIVAL, organized by Kevin Burke, was of the best concerts that ever landed in Tucson Burke, the great player of Irish fiddle, had the idea to put together three fiddlers from three different nations to celebrate the varying Celtic music of Ireland, French Brittany and Quebec. All three musicians were mesmerizing but the one I remember best is Andrés Brunet. Brunet, born and bred in Quebec, represented French Celtic music in the new world. Not only did he play a dazzling fiddle, he sang and danced at the same time. He was like a jockey winning the triple crown, using every part of his body to deliver his extraordinary performance. In a rare piece of luck in these sour COVID times, when many concerts have been canceled, Brunet is making a return appearance to Tucson. Now with the Quebec band Le Vent du Nord (Wind from the North), he will play with five other musicians this Friday night at Berger Performing Arts Center. He’s still got the moves. “Yes, I tap the feet when I play the fiddle, and I sing at the same time,” he says cheerily from his rural home in Saint-Sévère, Quebec, in eastern Canada. “There is no dance without the music and no music without the dance.” Speaking English in a charming French accent, Brunet points out that he’s not the only “tap the foot” guy in Le Vent du Nord. Olivier Demers, a founder of the 19-year-old group, taps his feet and also manages to work both the mandolin and the fiddle. Those without toes duty are still plenty busy. The three lead singers also play multiple instruments. Besides singing, Nicolas Boulerice wrangles both the piano and the rarely seen hurdy-gurdy. Simon Beaudry plays guitar and Irish bouzouki. And Réjean Brunet, Andrés’s big brother by a year and
Le Vent du Nord 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8 Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Reserved seats $25 general, $23 seniors www.inconcerttucson.com
a half, commands the button accordion and the guitar. The band, which Andrés Brunet joined just four years ago after a long gig with La Bottine Souriante (Smiling Boot), has won Artist of the Year in the Juno Awards, regarded as the Grammys of Canada. The musicians are unabashed champions of the history and culture of Quebec, the only French-speaking province in an immense nation of mostly English speakers. “All the singing is in French, absolutely,” Brunet says, though he cheerfully speaks in English to the audience. “Our traditional music is a big blend of French, Irish, Scottish and English.” The band finds many of its songs in archives in Quebec City and Ottawa, the Canadian capital. “We love the archives,” he says. “We listen to old songs recorded in the last century. We are keeping alive the tradition of singing stories.” Their new album, Territoires, has an old song featuring a sorrowful soldier mourning the 1758 defeat of New France at the hands of the British. The tale, Brunet says, reminds Quebecois that “we were strong one day.” But the Le Vent’s music is jolly as well, especially with all those instruments and foot tapping going all at once. The Brunet brothers were “lucky to be born into a family where music was everywhere,” Andrés says. Their father, one of 11 children, sang and played guitar, and their mother, from a family of 8, played organ. One of their father’s brothers was a master fiddler and the two played together constantly. Every Sunday the giant clan gathered at the uncle’s home or the grandma’s, and everyone sang. “It was a nice blend of music and love,” he says. It also gave him his life’s work. One Sunday when he was 3, he became aware of his uncle playing. He told his mother, “I will play fiddle one day.” He kept his promise and he’s still immersed in the music, “because of the joy my uncle had playing fiddle.” ■
Breast Cancer Awareness 2021
Tucson Cancer Conquerors provide community and direction
The Northwest’s Newspaper
Breast Cancer Awareness 2021
Breast Cancer Awareness 2021
Breast Cancer Awareness month:
Screening, survival and support
very October, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, all of our papers in the Tucson Local Media group—The Explorer, Marana News, Foothills News, Desert Times, Inside Tucson Business and Tucson Weekly—bring a special focus to a disease that will affect nearly 6,000 Arizona women and their families in 2021. Fortunately, the treatment for breast cancer has come a long way, although the American Cancer Society estimates the cancer will kill nearly 900 women this year. With the COVID-19 pandemic, being treated for cancer has been even more challenging than usual. Contributor Emily Dieckman talks with women who had to be extra-cautious during chemotherapy because the procedure takes such a toll on their immune system. Plus, at times, they couldn’t bring family to the appointments for sup-
To do list: Self-Check Get Mammogram Shop at Goose
port. But they nonetheless found help thanks to Cancer Conquerors, a support group that lets women share their stories and work out to rebuild their strength. As one cancer survivor in the group explains, “Without a group like this, especially during this time, I mean, where you do you get the answers? How do you get perspective? How do you see someone who’s been through it, and they’re doing great, and they’re happy? And they’re happier than they were before because they’re more grateful from everything they’ve been through?” Another important key to fighting breast cancer is early detection through screening. But with the novel coronavirus outbreak, many people have put off those screenings. This March, the National Cancer Institute reported that the pandemic initially led to sharp decreases in the use
of recommended cancer screening tests, and due to cancer’s generally slow growth, the impact of the pandemic on overall cancer deaths will not be clear for many years. In these pages, Carol Roder of the American Cancer Society explains why it’s so important to catch the disease early and start treatment. Finally, Tucson Local Media health columnist Mia Smitt examines the different kinds of breast cancer as well as various treatment options. She even shares an inspriring story about how it’s never too late or hopeless to recover from the disease. While it’s easy to put off medical appointments, especially during a pandemic, be sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor for a breast cancer screening if you’ve put it off. It could make the difference in your survival. Jim Nintzel Executive Editor
Charity, the Golden Goose
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Breast Cancer Awareness 2021
Cancer and COVID: ‘Two Things That Can Kill Me’ Breast cancer patients face treatment and isolation and amid the pandemic Emily Dieckman
Special to Tucson Local Media
he doctor said it was probably nothing. Fatty tissue, if anything. Nina Shelton said she’d like to get a mammogram anyway. The lump didn’t feel like nothing to her, and it didn’t feel normal. She passed the time waiting for her mammogram results with fastidious, furious researching. It was March 2020, and COVID-19 had turned the world into a whirlwind of case infection updates, while also making it feel
eerily still. Shelton had just moved to Tucson a few months earlier, so she didn’t have anyone to bring to her appointment with her. She dialed her sister and brought her to the appointment on speaker phone. She’d researched so much that her cancer diagnosis didn’t come as a surprise, but her bad news felt almost like screaming into a void. She wrote later that, though it felt selfish to say so, it was almost like COVID-19 stole her thunder. “I felt a little selfish thinking that, but at the same time, I just thought,
‘This is a big deal.’ And my friends and family were so sympathetic and comforting from miles away,” she says. “But it was at the same time thousands of people were dying at a daily rate, and people were in panic mode and wearing masks. It felt like it just diminished my issue a little bit.” Shelton is the first to acknowledge that, in a lot of ways, she was fortunate. The pandemic made it easy for her to work from home with her suppressed immune system, since almost everyone in her office was working from home as well. She had a friend drive
out to stay with her for the first two weeks of chemotherapy, and then her sister came to visit. In another sense, it was just good she’d noticed the lump at all. Institutions across the country are publishing research showing that the number of people coming in for routine annual screenings, including mammograms, declined during the pandemic. But, in another sense, having cancer during a pandemic meant facing a unique sort of isolation. Shelton didn’t have family in town, but even if she did, they wouldn’t be allowed to accompany her to appointments. Sometimes she would go into work, masked up and sitting far from her coworkers, just to be around other people. Some of her coworkers would bring her meals, or check in on her periodically. It meant a lot. “I think a lot of people were experiencing loneliness, and the sting, was, I think, a little bit lessened because a lot of people were experiencing it,” she said. “There were people going through their own trauma with their own pandemic issues and they were stepping up to help me in the ways that they could. It was always this back and forth of feeling incredibly grateful and feeling a little pity and anger.” At the same time that
she felt steeped in loneliness, cancer also became something of a constant companion, living with her, telling her what to do and feel, trying to control her. And Shelton felt compelled to learn everything she could about this new shadow following her everywhere. When she read stories about how people with the same diagnosis as her had fared, she says it felt almost like looking up the exes of a person she was now dating. “Is cancer still affecting them? Has he left? Have they gotten over cancer?” she wondered. She says one of her biggest tools to fight against the cancer, and against the potential for inadequate medical care, was using her voice. So, when her doctor told her the lump was probably benign fatty tissue, she insisted on a test. When she was having lung problems during chemotherapy, doctors thought it might be COVID-19, or maybe allergies. Shelton suspected she had a temporary, rare condition in which the chemotherapy was attacking her lungs. Her doctors said it was unlikely, but Shelton insisted on a test. She was right. “I had to learn to be more vocal about my care,” she says. “I had to learn to be a bigger advocate. That was trial and error: When do I listen to my doctor
and where do I push back? But when I spoke up, I pushed back [about the initial mammogram], that literally saved my life.” Lisa Yiu: “It was very scary.” Lisa Yiu’s particular flavor of struggle was closer to denial. She felt a breast lump in the shower in November 2020, and mentioned it to her husband, even though she was sure it would be fine. She ate healthily, she’d been exercising regularly since she was a teenager and she only drank the occasional glass of wine at dinner. Still, her husband wanted her to get it looked at right away. She got the call that it was cancer on Thanksgiving Day. She kept asking herself—and she keeps asking herself—what she did wrong? Was it the hysterectomy she’d had in her 40s? Or the stress from the pandemic? Was it that she’d been drinking a little more than usual (adding a martini into the dinner rotation here and there) to cope with the stress? She’d been on a safari in Africa in early 2020, and arrived home to self-quarantine and COVID-19 chaos. The months of stay-at-home orders threw the whole world out of whack. See Cancer Conquerors, P5
Breast Cancer Awareness 2021
Photo courtesy Tucson Cancer Conquerors
Cancer Conquerors founder and president Liz Amli (second from left) with Dawn Messer, Ken Harvey, Mary SpecioBoyer and Deb Helig . Continued from P4
“I didn’t think about doing health visits, mammograms,” she says. “All I could think about was, ‘Do I have enough toilet paper? Am I stocked up on canned foods?’” After they found the cancer, and as the pandemic raged on, Yiu started chemotherapy, and having a weak immune system made social distancing more critical than ever. Now, she says, it felt like there were two things that could kill her: cancer and COVID-19. Going to the store felt dangerous, because other people felt dangerous, like potential sources of infection. “My husband couldn’t go to appointments with me, my parents couldn’t go to appointments with me,” she says. “I was really in this alone. It was very scary.”
When vaccinations started rolling out, she was relieved, and her doctor recommended she get one, but it was nerve wracking. How would her weakened immune system respond? Would the vaccine affect the effectiveness of her chemotherapy? There weren’t yet studies on how the vaccine affected cancer patients, though University of Arizona Health Sciences released one last week that found the Pfizer vaccine is less effective for patients actively undergoing chemotherapy. The first round wasn’t bad, but the second shot had her down for four days—after the week she was already down due to chemotherapy. Now, she’s on the upand-up, having recently got her booster shot and finished with her treatments. She’s trying to exercise every day, and en-
joying that she now finds herself craving organic vegetables. As she watches her daughter in her first year of college at the University of Arizona, she’s filled with hope for the future. Tucson Cancer Conquerors Shelton, Yiu and dozens of other cancer survivors can be found most Saturday mornings at Brandi Fenton Memorial Park, exercising with Tucson Cancer Conquerors, a local nonprofit established in 2014 and dedicated to empowering cancer survivors by promoting healthy survivorship. Liz Almli, the organization’s president and one of its founders, is a physician. When she went through breast cancer diagnosis and treatment more than 14 years ago, she says she
Breast Cancer Screening can save your life. It saved mine! ...sur v ivor for 8 year s ! —Lisa Bayless Long Realty
Breast Cancer Awareness 2021
had a large support network and plenty of resources. But after her treatment was over, she felt unsure about what to do next. “I remember getting in my car kind of sitting there in the silence thinking, ‘Now what? Do I just wait for it to come back?’” she says. “At least when you’re going through treatment, you’re there every other week. You know you’re doing something to kill the cancer. But when you stop treatment, you feel like you’re waiting for it to come back, and I needed to have a way to do something proactive. And what can you do? Exercise, nutrition, education.” The group started as a small group of survivors getting together to exercise at the park, but has grown into an organization of more than 100 cancer survivors and “buddies,” who come along for support. They’ve got a book club, a gardening group, retreats and monthly birthday dinners. As Almli likes to
put it, they’re not a “sit-inthe-circle-with-a-tissuebox” kind of group. “TCC is just such a beautiful thing,” Shelton says. “They were such a godsend for me…. You’ve got this whole group of people who understand you in a way none of your friends or family do.” On Saturday mornings, there are three separate workout groups: The “Get Fit” classes, led by certified personal trainers, are suitable for all levels and take into consideration the healing process of cancer patients. There’s also a “Get Started” group with lower impact exercises, and a third group of people who walk around the park together. Almli, decked out in a TCC shirt, hat and even socks, explains that they encourage people to change walking partners every 10 minutes, so they can get to know more of their fellow survivors. On Saturday morning, the workouts are all winding down, and we smile
and wave at Shelton as she comes back with the walking group. Most everyone is chatty and high-spirited as they begin making their way over to a plaza area near the butterfly sanctuary for morning coffee and announcements. A woman named Jennifer Moulton, another breast cancer survivor, bounds up to Almli and says she’s thinking about bringing a new person to the group – a friend of a friend who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. They’d met up at Starbucks last week to talk, and Moulton even offered to show the woman how her own reconstructed breasts looked. “I’ve never met you before—you’re a friend of a friend, and that makes you a friend of mine,” she says. “Let’s go in the bathroom, lock the door. I stripped down. I’m like you can touch ’em, you can look at ’em. Side view, under view.” Shelton and Almli laugh along knowingly.
This fearless sharing of experiences is very much in the spirit of the group, because many of the members recall what it was like to feel clueless and scared at the beginning of their own journeys. Now that they’re further along, they’re happy to tell others a little bit about what they can expect. Almli says its’s not uncommon for people at meetings to ask, “Is anyone here willing to show me their scars?” or, “Is anyone here with implants willing to show me what they look like?” At least a few women raise their hands yes for the offer. “Without a group like Photo courtesy Tucson Cancer Conquerors this, especially during this time, I mean, where you Dawn Messer and Jean Thomas found support with Tucson Cancer Conquerors. do you get the answers?” Yiu says. “How do you get perspective? How do you count themselves in the strengthened her relationsee someone who’s been camp of people who are ship with her siblings. through it, and they’re now more grateful for “I’m not going to be doing great, and they’re the little things. Yiu jokes here forever,” Yiu tells her happy? And they’re hap- that when her arms get daughter sometimes. “But pier than they were be- sore during a workout, I’m going to be here for a fore because they’re more she remembers she’s lucky long time. We can enjoy grateful from everything to have arms at all. Shel- what we have, and just be they’ve been through?” ton says the isolation of happy—pandemic or not, Shelton and Yiu both the pandemic and cancer cancer or not.”
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Breast Cancer Awareness 2021
Health & Wellness: Breast cancer can affect anyone at any age Mia Smitt
Special to Tucson Local Media
ctober is breast cancer awareness month, an annual campaign to raise both awareness and money for research and treatment. Many organizations participate with fund raising activities such as the Susan G. Komen march, the Association of Flight Attendants “get your pink on,” and Avon cosmetics “Pink Yourself.” Even the National Football League has its “A Critical Catch –Annual Screening” and Dick’s Sporting Goods decorates its stores in pink and donates $250,000 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation every year. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women (skin cancer is first). While the vast majority of those who develop breast cancer are women, this disease also can affect men. The most recent stats available, from 2017, show that 42,000 women and 510 men died of breast cancer that year. It is estimated that there will be 284,200 new cases diagnosed this year. According to the National Cancer Institute, 12% of women in the United States (that’s one in eight) will develop breast cancer during their lifetimes. One in 800 men, .12%, will be diagnosed. While most breast cancer occurs in women over age 55, young women are not immune and 12% occur in women under 45. So what is cancer? It is the rapid growth of abnormal cells when the DNA in normal cells somehow
becomes damaged. Sometimes the body can destroy these aberrant cells, but more often they proliferate and divide more quickly than healthy cells. They form a mass or lump and can spread to other parts of the body invading healthy tissue. There are several types of breast cancer depending on where it is located in the breast. • Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) is an early form of breast cancer. The abnormal cells inside a milk duct have not spread to other parts of the breast or adjacent lymph nodes. Treatment may include surgery and radiation therapy. • Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) is the most common type of breast cancer and starts in those cells that line a milk duct. Cancer cells break through the duct wall and spread in to adjoining breast tissue and can then spread to other parts of the body though the bloodstream or lymph system. • Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC) starts in the milk producing glands, or lobules. This too can spread to other parts of the body. Of interest is that this form of breast cancer will affect both breasts in about 20% of women. What can be confusing is Lobular Carcinoma in Situ. This is not actually cancer but the precursor and is often found on biopsy or imaging studies other than mammograms for another suspicious lump or mass. There are other, less common, breast cancers also. Treatment of invasive breast cancers will depend
on the type and “stage” of the cancer—how advanced it is and where it may have spread. Different surgeries include lumpectomy (just tumor removal), mastectomy (breast removal) and lymph node removal. Radiation treatment may be an external beam to target either just the cancer site or the entire breast. Systemic treatments include chemotherapy, anticancer drugs that may be given as intravenous medication on a scheduled basis or an oral pill taken daily depending on the particular cancer. Hormonal therapy is used when the cancer cells have receptors for estrogen or progesterone (a receptor is a site on a cell surface that can bind with a particular substance). Hormone blockers help prevent cancer growth and may be taken for many years. Then there is “targeted therapy” which kills cancer cells by interfering with specific proteins in the cell that promote growth. Research has opened new avenues for successful treatment and continues to explore ways to treat breast cancer. The five-year survival rates are approximately 99% for localized disease (breast tissue only), 86% for regional involvement (cancer affecting nearby lymph nodes) and 28% for distant reach (a farther spread such as to bones, lungs and liver). But these statistics change with improved treatment and should be individualized. There are breast cancer symptoms that warrant evaluation. A lump that is
new and not associated with the menstrual cycle (but not all breast lumps are cancer!), changes in the appearance of the nipple, any change or puckering of breast skin, any nipple discharge, and changes in the size or appearance of a breast compared to the other need to be evaluated. Breast pain is NOT a common symptom of cancer. Breast cancer cannot be prevented but there are ways to reduce the risk of any cancers. Not smoking, physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and eating vegetables and fruits every day are healthy lifestyle choices. As with many other illnesses, screening is essential. Monthly self breast
exam is recommended by some organizations and health care providers but has not been found to be as effective as clinical exams. Routine mammograms, ultrasound imaging, and MRIs can detect the smallest cancers for earlier treatment. Screening rates vary by state, with Rhode Island taking the prize at 87% and Alaska the worst at 67.3%, as reported by the National Cancer Society. Arizona’s screening rate was 71%, not bad but we can do better. Unfortunately the COVID pandemic halted or delayed many screening exams (and treatment) for numerous people and health care institutions across the country. Hopefully we can get back on track in 2022.
If I may share a personal note: My dear grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 99. Yes, 99! She had a total mastectomy followed by oral chemotherapy, tolerated both and lived alone until she was 102. She had no cognitive decline when she died (not from breast cancer) just before her 104th birthday. So don’t let age stop you from following up on any suspicious symptoms and enjoying good health. Mia Smitt is a nurse practitioner with a specialty in family practice. She recently retired and settled in Tucson. She is originally from San Francisco.
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Breast Cancer Awareness 2021
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Breast Cancer Awareness 2021
Guest Commentary: Cancer screening saves lives Carol Roder
Special to Tucson Local Media
he American Cancer Society is urging women to talk to their doctors about the time and breast cancer screening that is best for them. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, elective medical procedures, including cancer screenings, were largely put on hold to prioritize urgent needs and reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in healthcare settings. One consequence of this has been a substantial decline in cancer screening. According to ACS Senior Development Manager Denis Cournoyer, “Health care facilities are providing cancer screening during the pandemic with many safety precautions in place so now, more than ever, it’s time to get back on track with screenings.” For the American Cancer Society, the end of breast cancer begins with research. ACS’s research program has played a role in many of the prevention, screening, and treatment advances that help save lives from breast cancer today. “Breast cancer mortality has declined in recent decades—31% between 1991 and 2018—due in
part to progress in screening technologies and an increase in screening services like mammograms. That translates to approximately 3.2 million cancer deaths averted during that timeframe,” reports Cournoyer. In Arizona, it is estimated that 5,850 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021; about 900 will die of the disease. Breast cancer is sometimes found after symptoms appear, but many women with breast cancer have no symptoms. This is why regular breast cancer screening is so important. Finding breast cancer early and getting state-ofthe-art cancer treatment are the most important strategies to prevent deaths from breast cancer. Breast cancer that’s found early, when it’s small and has not spread, is easier to treat successfully. Getting regular screening tests is the most reliable way to find breast cancer early. The American Cancer Society has screening guidelines for women at average risk of breast cancer, and for those at high risk for breast cancer. The ACS guidelines are for women at average risk for breast cancer. For screening purposes, a woman is considered to be at average risk if she doesn’t have a personal history of breast cancer, a strong fam-
ily history of breast cancer, or a genetic mutation known to increase risk of breast cancer (such as in a BRCA gene) and has not had chest radiation therapy before the age of 30. (See below for guidelines for women at high risk.) • Women between 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year. • Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year. • Women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live at least 10 more years. • All women should understand what to expect when getting a mammogram for breast cancer screening—what the test can and cannot do. The American Cancer Society is on a mission to free the world from cancer. We invest in lifesaving research, provide 24/7 information and support, and work to ensure that individuals in every community have access to cancer prevention, detection, and treatment. For more information, visit cancer.org. Carol Roder is with the American Cancer Society’s South Region.
Breast Cancer Awareness 2021
OCTOBER 7, 2021
By Xavier Omar Otero firstname.lastname@example.org Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies. This week, Asleep At The Wheel, Lizzy & The Triggerman, Tommie Sunshine, The High Kings, Robert Earl Keen, Limbeck and others perform at a venue near you. Read on.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS… THURSDAY, OCT. 7 An integral figure in the Nashville songwriting community, Dana Cooper has collaborated with renowned writers like Tom Kimmel, Kim Carnes and Don Henry. His upcoming release, I Can Face the Truth (slated to drop in early 2022), finds this insightful storyteller facing hard truths head on with humor and unfeigned expression. Dana Cooper spins yarns. At Monterey Court...
FRIDAY, OCT. 8 In 2020, in the penumbra of the pandemic, as the wheels of the music industry ground to a halt, so too did Asleep at the Wheel’s 50th anniversary plans. Since the band’s inception, in 1970, Ray Benson has been the only constant. “I’m singing, playing and writing better than ever. I’ve made it this far and [won’t] be slowing down anytime soon.” The title track to Half A Hundred Years (2021)—with appearances by country greats George Strait, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett and Lee Ann Womack—finds Benson in a celebratory mood. He sings, “Start the jam, roll
one up, and ice another beer. I’ll tip my hat and raise a toast to half a hundred years.” Austin western swing institution Asleep at the Wheel celebrate their golden anniversary. At Fox Tucson Theatre... As word-of-mouth began to spread, true to their Prohibition Era vibe, channeling the electrifying swagger of ’20s and ’30s big bands, playing exclusive L.A. speakeasies, the band quickly rose from the shadowy underground to bookings in storied Hollywood venues. Their brash debut EP, Good Songs for Bad Times (2020)— with smoky songs about getting high to devil-may-care romps about dancing ‘til the end of the world—quickly rose to No. 3 on iTunes jazz charts. Fronted by the sultry voiced, flame-haired femme fatale, Liz Shapiro, big band jazz sensations Lizzy & The Triggermen travel through time. At Hotel Congress (Plaza)... After a decade of stimulating the ears of bassheads worldwide — performing as SPL — L.A.-based producer Sam Pool realized that in order to evolve musically, he had to keep pushing sonic boundaries. With a new dubstep sound, built around elements of blippy 8-bit sounds, arpeggios, and ‘80s synths, Champagne Drip extends the limits. At 191 Toole...
SATURDAY, OCT. 9 The stuff of legend. Riding the cutting edge of the ’90s rave scene, as a clubber Tommie Sunshine was inspired to launch his career after attending a seminal warehouse rave thrown by “The Godfather of American rave culture” Frankie Bones; credited as the birthing ground of the PLUR (peace, love, unity and respect) movement. Thirty-five years as an integral figure of the EDM scene, Sunshine keeps an eye peeled on the horizon. Recently, remixing tracks by Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, Lizzo, Sofi Tukker, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fall Out Boy, and a plethora of others. DJ/producer/remixer Tommie Sunshine remains “Untouchable.” At 191 Toole... From the Ivory Coast (now calling Tucson home), international reggae ambassador General Tchefary performs at Tucson Meet Yourself... In 2019, Billboard noted this band as “one of the most important in broadening the scope of what hardcore punk is.” Featuring members of Turnstile and Trapped Under Ice, Baltimore punk supergroup Angel Du$t are out touring their latest release, YAK: A Collection of Truck Songs (2021). At Club Congress... In addition to collaborations with Tony Gilkyson (X, Lone Justice), John Densmore (The Doors), and his longtime gig as bandleader for Kevin Costner & Modern West, this award-winning (folk/country rock) singer-songwriter has released five solo albums and composed numerous songs for film (Dances With Wolves) and television (Hatfields & McCoys). “The lone coyote howling in the desert.” John Coinman performs with his ace band. At Hotel Congress (Plaza)...
SUNDAY, OCT. 10 Laden with angular guitars and minimal new wave-y synths, these Austin (via Cambridge) post-punks conceived their DIY debut Hunger for a Way Out in a “disused and reverberant concrete laboratory.” Utilizing a primitive “single-mic technique,” as fate would have it, they finished recording just in time to enter quarantine. CONTINUED ON PAGE 12
OCTOBER 7, 2021
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Now, taking to the road, Sweeping Promises headline a bill that includes local indie pop-punks The Exbats and Stripes. At Club Congress...
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 13 Not for the faint of heart. With savage execution and an atmosphere that evinces darkness, Exsul, Fleshrot, Savage Necromancy and Neyquam congregate for a night of death metal. At Club Congress...
THURSDAY, OCT. 14 MONDAY, OCT. 11 [As per Testament’s social media posts dated Oct. 1.] Regrettably, the North American leg of the Bay Strikes Back Tour featuring Testament, Exodus, and Death Angel has been postponed until 2022...
TUESDAY, OCT. 12 With a repertoire that ranges from heavenward religious songs to earthbound pub music, The High Kings have risen to the top of Billboard’s World Music charts. Having received the stamp of approval from Ronnie Drew (The Dubliners)—the man behind one of Ireland’s most recognizable and enduring voices—these Irish balladeers are charting a new course. “The gigs were getting bigger and bigger, and we felt we were breaking down barriers.” To include a 2012 performance for President Obama at The White House, presiding over the St. Patrick’s Day celebration. “Rattlin’ o’er the bogs. Frightenin’ all the dogs on the rocky road to Dublin,” The High Kings traverse Memory Lane. At Rialto Theater... Tucson Studio Live features the Sonoran soul of queer black artist Mattea paired with the moody downtempo electro-pop of Sharkk Heartt. At Club Congress. With Stevie Rose...
Tabbed a “country and Americana cult hero” by Rolling Stone, this raspy-voiced, Texas songwriter’s truth-filled songs have been recorded by country heavy-weights: George Strait, Lyle Lovett, The [Dixie] Chicks, The Highwaymen and others. In 2012, Robert Earl Keen joined Lovett and the late Townes Van Zandt as an inductee into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame. For all that, he’s never quite fit in. “The guys who’ve ‘made it’ from Nashville can’t hold Robert’s guitar pick,” producer Lloyd Maines told Rolling Stone. “He never conformed to the business norm. He really wanted to stay true to what he was doing, and to his fans.” For Robert Earl Keen “The Road Goes on Forever.” At Rialto Theater... You may not be familiar with Limbeck. After forming in 1999 they asked themselves, “How can we continue to do this and not live with [our] parents?” Before updating social media feeds became de rigueur for bands, in the aughts, these SoCal alt. country/emo rockers took to the road and never really left, developing a cult following in the process. “We were [just] some dudes that used to play a whole lot of shows and drive all over the place,” Patrick Carrie recalls. Playing for the rank and file, Limbeck recently played an impromptu acoustic set at an Oklahoma Waffle House. True story: After a ghost caused a Hotel Congress room recording session to come crashing to a halt, Limbeck returns. At Club Congress... Until next week, XOXO...
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Vera Farmiga, saddled with a big prosthetic nose, plays Tony’s mom, Livia. There are some hints of the eventual total unpleasantness that will engulf Livia in the TV series, with Farmiga and Gandolfini sharing a couple of decent scenes (including a very good one involving a cheeseburger). The movie needed more scenes like that one. Farmiga is making a name for herself playing evil dude moms in prequels (She played Mrs. Bates, mother of psycho Norman, in
Bates Motel). A solid offering by Ray Liotta and a surprise voice cameo aren’t enough to bring this one together as a film worthy of a trip to the cinemas. Leslie Odom Jr. does decent enough work in a subplot that probably deserved its own movie rather than jockeying for time with the Soprano family. Fans and non-fans alike are going to find The Many Saints of Newark underwhelming. Fourteen years is a long time to make people wait for a prequel. The story that really mattered belonged to older Tony, and with James Gandolfini gone, it’s probably best to just let the story end. ■
OCTOBER 7, 2021
A jammed U.S. Senate can’t seem to get cannabis legalization to the finish line By David Abbott email@example.com CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS are still trying to advance the legalization of cannabis on a federal level, despite opposition by most Republicans at all levels of government. Senate Bill 1183, the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, has gained the support of Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly, while the SAFE Banking Act is back for a fourth encore, albeit with a new tactic for passage. Introduced in April by Hawaii Sen. Mark Schatz, S.1183 would allow veterans to “use, possess, or transport medical marijuana and to discuss the use of medical marijuana with a physician of the Department of
Veterans Affairs as authorized by a state or Indian tribe, and for other purposes.” Given the federal status of cannabis as a Schedule I drug, on the same level as heroin, cannabis use among qualified veterans is currently driven by Directive 1315, a policy originally put in place in 2011 and updated in 2017 to guide VA care of qualified patients and allow them to discuss medical marijuana use with their VA physicians. The directive emphasizes that “veterans must not be denied VHA services solely because they are participating in state-approved marijuana programs.” Whether or not VA doctors follow that directive is the subject of another column, but the intent of the rules are clear: Veterans in states where medical marijuana is legal cannot be punished for use, or even discussion of use.
Last week, Kelly signed on as a cosponsor of the bill, joining Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.). There is a companion bill in the House of Representatives, cosponsored by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Dave Joyce (R-Ohio). “Sen. Kelly wants veterans suffering from chronic conditions such as cancer and PTSD to be able to get the same medical advice and treatment at the VA that other Americans get from their own doctors,” Kelly spokesman Jacob Peters said, via email. “There is more work to be done getting this over the finish line. Sen. Kelly will continue working with Republicans and Democrats, and will continue elevating the message from Arizonans who know how much this can improve the lives of their fellow veterans.” The legislation attempts to address such pressing vets’ issues as opioid abuse and overdose that has become endemic in the veteran community and has been a factor in an increase in veteran suicides over the years. The Veterans Action Council, a group of veterans dedicated to gaining cannabis access through the VA, is glad to see something happening, but some do not think the legislation goes far enough. “I thought the United States was a Safe
Harbor for us already,” Tucson veteran Ricardo Pereyda said. “It would have been better if this bill was proposed in 2010.” Pereyda is a founding member of the group and has been an outspoken advocate for medical pot since 2013. Other members of the group see it as another step in a process that has played out over the course of generations. “This is about veterans speaking for ourselves instead of having others speak for us,” the group’s governmental liaison, Virginia-based Michael Krawitz, said. “Veterans deserve the same access to quality of care that [other] citizens would expect. Especially in a hospital setting, veterans need to be able to use medicine that improves their quality of life and that has proven benefits reducing pain and suffering.” Krawitz said problems with the way the VA deals with cannabis goes back to the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, which put “marihuana” and “marihuana extracts” on the same legal level as heroin and prohibited the medicinal use of cannabis. “This medicinal prohibition was never consistent with our treaty obligations,” he said. “To correct this, several pieces of federal legislation have been put forward, one of them being the Veterans Safe Harbor Act.” A recent paper published by the VAC CONTINUED ON PAGE 14
OCTOBER 7, 2021
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and distributed to the offices of the bill’s cosponsors is pushing for the VA to qualify and require access for all who need it and provide cannabis in the same way they dole out opiates, so they don’t have to purchase “overpriced” cannabis on the commercial market. VAC is working for federal legislation that will, in part: • Provide for the VA to grow cannabis for veterans. • Promote and support home cultivation and medicinal access to a broad variety of
cannabis products, especially those grown by small farmers for use in traditional and complementary medicine. • Provide for a voucher system for veterans to access cannabis under state-run medicinal programs, patterned after the VA Disabled Veterans Clothing Allowance program. • Provide an identifier on VHA patient data cards identifying veterans as federal cannabis patients, eliminating threat of prosecution/incarceration for possessing cannabis while traveling in the U.S. or on federal property. The legislation still has a long way to go though, so stay tuned for updates.
SAFE TUCKED INTO NDAA The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act is making its fifth appearance in the halls of Congress. In a change of tactics, Democrats have attached the bill to the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2022. The law would allow licensed cannabis businesses to operate like any other legal business, with unfettered access to banking services, including the use of credit cards, access to loans and the ability to make deposits and write payroll checks. The bill passed through the House as part of the NDAA funding package in a 316-113 vote on Sept. 23 and will head to the Senate, where it will likely be stripped out during committee. SAFE enjoys wide support, both in the cannabis and banking industries, but Republicans in the Senate have consistently killed any efforts to pass this or any other legislative attempts on the federal level. “With legalization polling at all-time highs and myriad states operating controlled markets for both medicinal and adult-use, it is past time for the cannabis industry to be able to enter into relationships with banks and other financial institutions,” Arizona NORML Director Mike Robinette said. “The SAFE Banking Act would enable
state-licensed and legitimate cannabis businesses to be able to operate like all other legal businesses. Because of this, we fully support the SAFE Banking Act and urge readers to contact their senators to urge them to pass SAFE as part of the NDAA.” The legislation may see resistance from Senate Democrats though, such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who chairs the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and may hold out for more comprehensive legislation, such as the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, or the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (H.R. 3884—MORE Act).
NEWS NUGGETS ARIZONA DES WON’T RECOGNIZE CANNABIS BIZ AS LEGITIMATE The Arizona Department of Economic Security, Division of Employment and Rehabilitation Services is seeking comment on a new policy that will not allow the use of Workforce and Innovation and
OCTOBER 7, 2021
Opportunity Act funds for anything related to the state-sanctioned, legal cannabis business. The WIOA is designed to “help job seekers access employment, education, training and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The new policy seeks to “clarify that federally funded programs are bound by federal law, and legislative changes by states do not alter the federal law prohibiting the use of federal funds to assist businesses in the marijuana industry.” Due to the federal status of cannabis, WIOA funds cannot be used for a number of services provided by the DES for job seekers and/or business services in the marijuana industry containing THC, including: • Referrals and/or posting of job orders; • Trainings for jobs at a dispensary; • Work Experience (WEX) at a dispensary; or • Support Services for a job at a dispensary. In addition, with respect to marijuana containing THC, this means federal funds shall not: • Support a customer in entering or retaining employment that is related to the
growing, selling, producing, handling, or distribution of marijuana in any form; • Support education in fields of study specific to the marijuana industry; • Support self-employment or small business goals, or ventures associated with marijuana industry. This includes any business that has related activity that involves marijuana as a component of the business, including self-employment plans that result in the establishment of a dispensary or other marijuana-based industry employment; • Be used to support businesses that include marijuana production, processing, transportation, sales or other marijuana-related activities as a component of their business; or • Be used to purchase marijuana in any form on behalf of a customer nor assist a customer in the acquisition or consumption of marijuana in any form. There are no exceptions to this prohibition. Comments regarding this draft policy should be submitted to the TitleIPolicy@ azdes.gov mailbox no later than Wednesday, Oct. 13. Federally funded programs shall not support WIOA Title I-B. More details can be found at des.az.gov. Pot prohibition is alive and well, despite a majority of Americans living in a state with legal access to pot. ■
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FREE WILL ASTROLOGY
By Rob Brezsny. Go to RealAstrology.com to check out Rob Brezsny’s EXPANDED WEEKLY HOROSCOPE 1-877-873-4888 or 1-900-950-7700 $1.99 per minute. 18 and over. Touchtone phone required.
ARIES (March 21-April 19): Aries poet Anna Kamieńska said her soul didn’t emanate light. It was filled with “bright darkness.” I suspect that description may apply to you in the coming weeks. Bright darkness will be one of your primary qualities. And that’s a good thing! You may not be a beacon of shiny cheer, but you will illuminate the shadows and secrets. You will bring deeper awareness to hidden agendas and sins of omission. You will see, and help others to see, what has been missing in situations that lack transparency. Congratulations in advance! TAURUS (April 20-May 20): “There is something truly restorative, finally comforting, in coming to the end of an illusion—a false hope.” So declared author Sue Miller, and now I’m sharing it with you, Taurus—just in time for the end of at least one of your illusions. (Could be two, even three.) I hope your misconceptions or misaligned fantasies will serve you well as they decay and dissolve. I trust they will be excellent fertilizer, helping you grow inspired visions that guide your future success. My prediction: You will soon know more about what isn’t real, which will boost your ability to evaluate what is real. GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Afghan-American novelist Khaled Hosseini writes, “People mostly have it backward. They think they live by what they want. But really what guides them is what they’re afraid of—what they don’t want.” Is that true for you, Gemini? The coming weeks will be an excellent time to meditate on that question. And if you find you’re motivated to live your life more out of fear than out of love, I urge you to take strenuous action to change that situation! Make sure love is at least 51 percent and fear no more than 49 percent. I believe you can do much better than that, though. Aim for 75 percent love!
CANCER (June 21-July 22): “Sometimes dreams are wiser than waking.” Oglala Lakota medicine man Black Elk said that, and now I’m passing it on to you. It’s not always the case that dreams are wiser than waking, of course, but I suspect they will be for you in the coming weeks. The adventures you experience while you’re sleeping could provide crucial clues to inform your waking-life decisions. They should help you tune into resources and influences that will guide you during the coming months. And now I will make a bold prediction: that your dreams will change your brain chemistry in ways that enable you to see truths that until now have been invisible or unavailable. (PS: I encourage you to also be alert for intriguing insights and fantasies that well up when you’re tired or lounging around.) LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): “Don’t hope more than you’re willing to work,” advises author Rita Mae Brown. So let me ask you, Leo: How hard are you willing to work to make your dreams come true, create your ideal life, and become the person you’d love to be? When you answer that question honestly, you’ll know exactly how much hope you have earned the right to foster. I’m pleased to inform you that the coming weeks will be a favorable time to upgrade your commitment to the work and therefore deepen your right to hope. VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): “To be truly visionary, we have to root our imagination in our concrete reality while simultaneously imagining possibilities beyond that reality.” This shrewd advice comes from author bell hooks (who doesn’t capitalize her name). I think it should be at the heart of your process in the coming days. Why? Because you now have an extraordinary potential to dream up creative innovations that acknowledge your limitations but also transcend those limitations. You have extra power available to harness your fantasies and instigate practical changes.
SAVAGE LOVE QUICKIES
By Dan Savage, firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m a cis woman. I had a quasi-relationship with a man last year that only lasted a couple of months. The sex was great, and sexting was always a big part of our connection. Since the breakup, we’ve fluctuated between staying in touch and radio silence, sometimes going months without speaking. During our periods of contact, though, sexting always makes a comeback. It’s hot until the frustration of not actually being able to have sex with him sets in. (We live in different countries now.) My issue is, if it weren’t for the sexting (which he really pushes), I don’t think he would converse with me about life in general. And there are other
ways I feel this dynamic is detrimental to my post-breakup life. For example, he is really into cuckolding. He wants to hear about the dates I go on, the other men I have sex with, how they fucked me, etc. It’s fun to tease him and make him jealous by texting him, especially while I’m out with other men, but I wind up feeling like my attention is divided between him and whoever I’m with, sometimes to a point where I can’t come with others because of how distracted I am (by him) and how disconnected I feel (from them). —My Ex’s Sexy Sexts Are Getting Exhausting, Sorta
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): “Some people are crazy drunk on rotgut sobriety,” wrote aphorist Daniel Liebert. I trust you’re not one of them. But if you are, I beg you to change your habits during the next three weeks. According to my reading of the astrological omens, you have a heavenly mandate to seek more than the usual amounts of whimsical ebullience, sweet diversions, uplifting obsessions, and holy amusements. Your health and success in the coming months require you to enjoy a period of concentrated joy and fun now. Be imaginative and innovative in your quest for zest. SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Scottish Poet Laureate Jackie Kay, born under the sign of Scorpio, writes, “It used to be that privacy came naturally to everybody and that we understood implicitly what kind of things a person might like to keep private. Now somebody has torn up the rule book on privacy and there’s a kind of free fall and free for all and few people naturally know how to guard this precious thing, privacy.” The coming weeks will be a good time for you to investigate this subject, Scorpio—to take it more seriously than you have before. In the process, I hope you will identify what’s truly important for you to keep confidential and protected, and then initiate the necessary adjustments. (PS: Please feel no guilt or embarrassment about your desire to have secrets!) SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): “All our Western thought is founded on this repulsive pretense that pain is the proper price of any good thing,” wrote feisty author Rebecca West (1892–1983). I am very happy to report that your current torrent of good things will NOT require you to pay the price of pain. On the contrary, I expect that your phase of grace and luck will teach you how to cultivate even more grace and luck; it will inspire you to be generous in ways that bring generosity coming back your way. As articulated by ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu, here’s the operative principle: “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”
omens, I urge you to be bold and lucid about asking for what you want in the coming weeks. In addition, I encourage you to ask many probing questions so as to ferret out the best ways to get what you want. If you are skilled in carrying out this strategy, you will be a winsome blend of receptivity and aggressiveness, innocent humility and understated confidence. And that will be crucial in your campaign to get exactly what you want. AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): “Few persons enjoy real liberty,” wrote poet Alfred de Musset. “We are all slaves to ideas or habits.” That’s the bad news. The good news is that October is Supercharge Your Freedom Month for you Aquarians. I invite you to use all your ingenuity to deepen, augment, and refine your drive for liberation. What could you do to escape the numbness of the routine? How might you diminish the hold of limiting beliefs and inhibiting patterns? What shrunken expectations are impinging on your motivational verve? Life is blessing you with the opportunity to celebrate and cultivate what novelist Tim Tharp calls “the spectacular now.” Be a cheerful, magnanimous freedom fighter. PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): The brilliant Piscean composer Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849) wrote, “I wish I could throw off the thoughts that poison my happiness, but I take a kind of pleasure in indulging them.” What?! That’s crazy! If he had been brave enough and willful enough to stop taking pleasure in indulging his toxic thoughts, they might have lost their power to demoralize him. With this in mind, I’m asking you to investigate whether you, like Chopin, ever get a bit of secret excitement from undermining your own joy and success. The coming weeks will be a favorable time to dissolve that bad habit. ■ Homework. Hold your own hand and tell yourself what you will do to end a nagging discomfort in your life. https://Newsletter.FreeWillAstrology.com.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no,” declares author Nora Roberts. In that spirit and in accordance with astrological
If you feel like your ex is just using you for sexts and you don’t enjoy being used like that, MESSAGES, stop sexting with your ex. Maybe you’ll hear from him again after the sexting stops—maybe he’ll reach out now and then just to catch up—but even if you never hear from him again, that could be for the best. I mean, if you have a hard time resisting his sext requests and sexting with him leaves you feeling frustrated (because you can’t fuck him) and prevents you from being in the moment (with the guys you are fucking), you should probably block his number. But if you enjoy sexting with your ex— you did say it’s fun for you too—and you can reset your expectations to avoid disappointment (if you stop expecting more from him than just sexts), go ahead and sext with him. But don’t do it when you’re with someone else. Go out on dates,
enjoy your dates, fuck your dates. And the next time you’re home alone and bored, MESSAGES, text your ex and tell him you’re out on a date. You’ll get all the same enjoyment out of making him jealous—and he’ll get all the same enjoyment his cuckold fantasies—without you being distracted during your actual dates. After many years of a fulfilling sex life, I’ve begun to embrace the perv side of my sexuality and couldn’t be happier! But I’m looking for a better term than “perv.” While accurate, that term seems to carry negative connotations. I’m looking for something that communicates the same thing while being sex positive. Any suggestions? —Positively Exploring Rhetorical Variety I’ve always liked “perv,” an affectionate
OCTOBER 7, 2021
diminutive for “pervert,” and I consider it sex positive in the same spirit that “slut,” having been reclaimed, is considered sex positive by people who cheerfully and defiantly self-identify as sluts. And since pretty much any word that communicates the same thing “perv” does in one catchy/percussive syllable has similarly negative connotations—deev for deviant, dej for degenerate, debbies for debauchers/ debauchees—this perv thinks you should embrace the term “perv,” PERV, instead of trying to come up with something new. Where can I buy e-stim devices and urethral electrode sounds in the Detroit area? —Sounding You Out You’ll find a nice selection of e-stim devices and urethral sounds—electrode and otherwise—at all Crowley’s Department Store locations in the greater Detroit area. You’ve said that one way to get over a crush is to masturbate about it until it passes. I’m going on 2.5 years. I had surgery in 2019, and I’m still obsessed with my surgeon. I think it’s trauma bonding, as I had complications and had to have three follow-up surgeries, plus a ton of office visits. I know logically that he’s arrogant, overly impressed with his own sense of humor, and just generally not my type. I haven’t seen him in a year, but I still think about him all the time. Can you help? —Can’t Understand This If masturbating about your arrogant, unfunny, and perhaps incompetent surgeon (three follow-up surgeries?!?) hasn’t done the trick… maybe it’s time to try masturbating about something and/or someone else? (Or, even better, maybe talk with a therapist about this?) You recently told a healthy and active 72-year-old man practicing orgasm de-
nial that “multiple studies have shown a link between frequent ejaculation and a lower incidence of prostate cancer.” I’m a healthy and active 78-year-old man who began masturbating at age 10. I continue to masturbate as frequently as my body will allow, which is about every other day. Yet, I was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent a procedure that reamed out most of my prostate tissue. I am now back to masturbating, but not ejaculating. Still, a dry orgasm is better than no orgasm at all. So, studies may show one thing, but life can show you something completely different. —Totally Wrong About That I’m sorry to hear about your prostate tissues, TWAT, and I’m glad to hear you’re able to enjoy the orgasms you’re still capable of having. But I gotta say—for the record—that I didn’t claim frequent ejaculation prevents prostate cancer. I cited studies showing a lower incidence of prostate cancer in men who masturbate regularly. “Lower incidence” ≠ “zero incidence.” You drew the short straw here, TWAT, and I’m sorry about that. But I can’t imagine you spent all those years masturbating solely for your prostate’s sake, TWAT, which means you still got something out of all those wet orgasms. It’s the same thing you’re getting out of the dry orgasms you’re enjoying now: pleasure. After reading the question asked by “The System Called Reciprocity,” the lesbian who wanted a man to do chores around the house in exchange for a handjobs or blowjobs, I had to write in. I’m not sure where she’s located, but if she’s on the South side of Chicago, I would be down for some light housework! Feel free to connect me to any of your readers for a deal like this! —Helping Out The Dykes And Making Nice
I don’t know where TSCR lives either, HOTDAMN, but even if I knew where she was, I’m not allowed to put my readers in touch with each other. (My lawyer has forbidden me to play matchmaker.) That said, HOTDAMN, there’s nothing I can do to prevent my readers from reaching out to each other in the comments. So long as ALPHA—the straight guy who likes to demean and degrade thicc gay boys he finds on Grindr—is upfront with these guys and tells them he’s straight and tells them he has no intention of ever hooking up with them IRL, then what he’s doing is OK, I guess. But if he’s not disclosing all those facts about himself, Dan, then he’s pretending to be something he’s not and that is not OK! Straight guys leading gay guys on for attention is repulsive. We’ve got enough problems out there without you giving straight guys permission to fuck with our heads! —Too Pissed For Acronyms Grindr and other hookup apps are full of guys leading each other on—sometimes intentionally (not interested in hooking up IRL), sometimes unintentionally (circumstances and/or guy
trouble can derail a wanted hookup). Everyone who gets on Grindr knows or soon realizes that not every chat or exchange of pics leads to sex. Like author and Grindr user Alexander Cheves said in that column: “We all enter Grindr chats willingly, and we should do so knowing that anyone we talk to may have no plans of following through with their promises to meet.” And in ALPHA’s case, I don’t think he’s leading anyone on. He seeks out gay guys who fantasize about masculine, domineering, and unavailable straight jocks. He may be fucking with some guys’ heads, TPFA, but he’s only fucking with the heads of guys who get off on having their heads fucked with in exactly this way and by exactly his type. I mean, who better to fulfill the hot unavailable straight jock fantasy than the hot unavailable straight jock? email@example.com Follow Dan on Twitter @FakeDanSavage. www.savage.love
OCTOBER 7, 2021
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Part of V.A.T. 6 Curious 9 Taste 15 Aerial view provider 16 “I was stuck in traffic,” maybe 17 Titania’s spouse, in Shakespeare 18 Fencer’s cry 20 Like “h” among “h,” “i” and “j” 21 Link between two names 22 Sean of “Stranger Things” 24 Scene in Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” 25 Wishy-washy R.S.V.P. 27 Style of diamond with a flat base 29 ___ dog 30 Apple on Apple Music 31 Tesla had one in 2010, for short 32 K-12 subj. 33 Like someone receiving baseless accusations, maybe? 35 Generates dubiously, with “up” 37 Spot for a dinner plate 40 Takes (down) 41 Actor Rhames 42 Sign of a hit 45 Gen ___ 46 Rapper featured on Flo Rida’s “Low” 49 Long Island home of Brookhaven National Laboratory 51 Roadside restaurant sign 53 Roger on the high seas 1
54 Giant on both the Nikkei
and N.Y.S.E. indexes 55 N.B.A. great with a doctorate in education 57 Screening grp. 58 “Alice in Wonderland” cry 60 On and on … or how to read 18-, 27-, 37and 51-Across to understand this puzzle’s theme? 63 Fix, in a way 64 Expert 65 Spouts 66 Completely cover 67 Ottawa N.H.L.er, to fans 68 Discussion group
1 Wood-shaping tool 2 “Pigs will sooner fly!” 3 Rumble in the Jungle
promoter 4 Get involved 5 Org. with strict schedules? 6 Parents and grandparents, in slang, with “the” 7 Slimming aid 8 Co-star of 2019’s “Joker” 9 Scatter 10 Bear 11 Something that nearly one million Americans practice regularly 12 Union agreements? 13 Not beat 14 French lead-in to “chat” 19 Snitch 23 Prefix with binary 25 Contents of a certain shelf 26 Hilton alternative
28 Astronomer Carl
45 Buckingham Palace
34 Throw it away
30 Key ring item
36 He can help you after a
crash Spreadsheet command 38 Prints, perhaps 39 Low point: Abbr. 40 First name on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” 42 Harold who sought the Republican presidential nomination nine times over 48 years 43 “I” 44 It appears twice in the Fibonacci sequence 37
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