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Dec 18th
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Arts, Entertainment, Dining, Calendar

Theater

Xanadu: Roll With It, Baby, And You’ll Have a Ball

Xanadu: Roll With It, Baby, And You’ll Have a Ball

Dreams do come true—“Xanadu,” that curious movie musical/box office blunder of the 1980s, is still worthy of our attention. After morphing into a stage musical several years ago, it surprised everyone by becoming one of Broadway’s rockin’ hits. It broke box office records for the stage at the time and somehow managed to warm hearts in the process.

Why?

The original film, which starred Olivia Newton-John as a beautiful mythical Greek muse trying to help an L.A. artist’s dreams come, took itself way too seriously. True, there were hit songs like “Magic,” “Suddenly,” “All Over The World” and, of course, “Xanadu,” but on stage, thanks to crafty creative shenanigans of the show’s creators—Douglas Carter Beans (book) and Jeff Lynne and John Farrar (music and lyrics)—camp is taken to a new level. And on roller skates to boot! Fun.

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A&E

Finding Futzie Nutzle

Finding Futzie Nutzle

Bruce Kleinsmith’s creativity shine at Cabrillo Gallery
The name was too long. Kleinsmith. It took up too much space at the bottom of a drawing. He wanted something phonetic instead, something that “jumped right off the page.” A cartoon figure he liked was called Futzie Nutzle—his own cartoon. He’d done the lettering with his left hand: “an avenue into another brain hemisphere.” The Z’s jumped right off the page.

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A&E

Space Invaders

Space Invaders

Musicians find prime practice space at Santa Cruz Rehearsal Studios

Practice makes perfect. But what about when you don’t have a place to hone your instrumental and vocal jiu-jitsu—then what? With the sound ordinance and party-crashing police pretty ubiquitous in town (just ask your local bemoaning band about it), Santa Cruz Rehearsal Studios (SCRS) is serving up soundproofed rooms for players to get loud in, one hour at a time. After all, if lovers can get it on at an hourly rate, so should musicians.

When SCRS owner Paul Gallacher moved to Santa Cruz in 2003 he, like most musicians, just wanted to jam. For the seasoned bassist who’d previously lived and gigged in the big cities (New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco), finding people to play with wasn’t the problem. It was finding where to play.

“There was a place in town that had a monthly lockout rental,” Gallacher recalls his arduous search for an affordable spot to rock. “But the concept of having a monthly lease didn’t work with my budget, and I didn’t want a lease to just jam with people or get a band going.”

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A&E

The Exhibitionist

The Exhibitionist

Rich Harvest at Pajaro Valley Gallery

Landscapes lushly compose themselves of fog and sedge and water while an ocean hides beyond the trees. Irrigated fields march in all directions in bold grids while bees make their way through dramatic clouds. A perky crop of houses erupts on a hillside; birds stalk and stare and rise in flight everywhere and a pantheon of noble vegetables pose for their close-ups. “A Harvest of Images: Pajaro Valley Impressions by the MPC Printmakers” at Pajaro Valley Arts Council Gallery serves up that promised harvest in 100 fine art prints by 48 artists in an exhibition curated by painter Howard Ikemoto.

The humble appearance of the PVAC gallery is all part of the act of the quietly essential powerhouse hidden within a converted bungalow on a residential street in Watsonville. PVAC uses the homey feeling to relax viewers into a receptive relationship with the art, then in room after tiny room builds a story around powerful social or educational themes.

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Literature

The Poems of Brad Crenshaw

The Poems  of Brad Crenshaw

Editor’s notes: Brad Crenshaw received both his MFA and PhD in English from the University of California, Irvine. He later obtained a second PhD in clinical psychology and neuroscience from the University of Massachusetts, where he teaches neuropsychology in the graduate psychology program. For many years he worked as a neuropsychologist in a New England medical center. His poems and critical articles have appeared in various magazines, including Chicago Review, Parnassus, Massachusetts Review, Shenandoah, The Formalist, The Sandhills Review, Illinois Quarterly, Faultline and others. Greenhouse Review Press has published his chapbook, Limits of Resurrection. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, and part of the year in Fallbrook, California.

 

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Literature

Eco-venturous

Eco-venturous

Ecology mixes with art in T.C. Boyle’s fascinating new environmental novel, ‘When the Killing’s Done’
Everything is set in motion by the quote from Genesis in the beginning,” says author T.C. Boyle, speaking about his newly released novel, “When the Killing’s Done.” By citing the heavenly dictate for people to multiply, subdue the land and have dominion over “every living thing that moveth upon the earth,” Boyle raises a string of questions in the mind of the reader:

What gives us the right to raise animals in feedlots, slaughter them and eat them? To set pigs free on islands, destroy natural ecosystems, then exterminate the animals we translocated there in the first place? Is the life of one animal worth more—or less—than that of an entire species? Is it okay to kill one species to save another?

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A&E

The Art of Nature

The Art of Nature

Two diverse artists get close to nature with grants from the Creative Work Fund
Claudia Stevens is the surgeon of artists—exact and patient. She examines the intricate parts of a monkey flower under her microscope, then renders the seed pods, leaves and root structures perfectly in gouache, silver point and dry brush water color.

A photograph might depict these details well enough, but Stevens’ art translates the ethereal quality of live plants through translucent layering techniques.

Stevens studied printmaking and scientific illustration at UC Santa Cruz, and continued her art education at San Jose State University where she earned a master’s degree. That was 20 years ago. Since then, her illustrations have been commissioned by Sunset magazine, Rodale Press, Bantam Books and University Press. By necessity, teaching has dominated her art career.

Creating an art series requires a significant time commitment, which is hard to meet without the promise of compensation.

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A&E

Herbal Outfitters

Herbal Outfitters

Quirky new downtown shop dispenses natural highs
Only a longtime resident of this town can fully grasp the meaning of the slogan “Keep Santa Cruz Weird.” There was a time when the Pacific Garden Mall teemed with eccentric characters, bohemian shops and offbeat events. For every Average Joe, there was an unusual street performer, a hippie harlequin wielding devil sticks or a flamboyant hipster in A Clockwork Orange-like apparel.

Santa Cruz’s quirk factor has taken a significant plunge in the past decade or so, but lately there have been some encouraging signs that our town is getting its weird back. One example is the pair of gentlemen whom your narrator recently saw reclining on the lawn of the Capitola New Leaf in sleeping bags. Another is an unambiguously psychedelic shop on Pacific Avenue called Truthlab, which proclaims itself an “antidote to the ordinary.”

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Literature

Now, You’re Thinking

Now, You’re Thinking

In ‘Brain Rules,’ John Medina hopes to open up your eyes and mind
If terms like “interactive synchrony,” “mirror-neuron activity” and “inductive discipline” make your eyes glaze over, join the club. As the learning-on-the-job father of a scrappy eight-month old, I entered the world of developmental molecular biologist John Medina with skepticism. After all, the author of “Brain Rules” and “Brain Rules for Baby” isn’t doing any actual scientific research on the brain or on child rearing, he’s merely formatting the science that’s already out there into an interface the rest of us can hopefully use.

The author Medina doesn’t shy away from the occasional mouthful; “In the brain, the fights appear to be between deferred-imitation instincts and moral-internalization proclivities” is one sentence that springs to mind, in the section he devotes to “aversive stimulus,” i.e. punishment. But if you bear with him, Medina’s conclusions are practically bulletproof. Although 94 percent of Americans have spanked their child at least once by their kid’s fourth birthday, Medina is against the practice. The 3-year-olds who were spanked more than twice in the month prior to a recent Tulane University study were 50 percent more likely to be more aggressive by age 5. Hence imitation is a stronger force than “moral internalization.” It all makes sense, when you stop to think about it.

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Literature

The Poems of Dian Duchin Reed

The Poems of Dian Duchin Reed

Editor’s note: In this week’s Poetry Corner, we feature the work of Dian Duchin Reed, the author of “Medusa Discovers Styling Gel” (Finishing Line Press, 2009). Recent poems appear in “Prairie Schooner,” “Poet Lore” and “Poetry East.” She has been the recipient of a Sundberg Family grant for literary criticism, the Mel Tuohey Award for writing excellence, and the Mary Lonnberg Smith Award in Poetry.

Suspension
Not of disbelief, but animation,
like this dun-colored spider that’s been waiting—
pensive, anxious, oblivious?—
in the navel of an orange in the refrigerator

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Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
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Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

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Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire