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Dec 19th
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Arts, Entertainment, Dining, Calendar

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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A&E

Shut Up, Skinny Bitches!

Shut Up, Skinny Bitches!

“Shut up, and eat something!” That’s my new motto for 2011. It’s also one of the messages found in the new book, “Shut Up, Skinny Bitches—The Common Sense Guide to Following Your Hunger and Your Heart” (NorLightsPress), which I co-wrote with an eating disorder specialist Dr. Maria Rago.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: It’s the new year; we should all be “dieting.” We should limit our food consumption. Dammit … we should just get skinny!

Think again. Eat! Skinny is not the cure.

Blasphemy?

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A&E

Running on Full

Running on Full

The fuel that fires Jackson Browne’s green activism
Jackson Browne has never been one to stay quiet. As introspective poet or volatile protester, he’s emblematic of the singer-songwriter that doubles as a sign of the ever-changing times. At 61, while he’s a classic when it comes to California folk rock troubadours that emerged in the prolific ’60s, he continues to modify his lyrics and his life to accommodate some cutting-edge concerns. So don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the solo sound and Gibson acoustic guitar he’s bringing to the Santa Cruz Civic this Wednesday, Feb. 23, because the man is clearly plugged in.

These days the staunch environmentalist is driving a new Chevy Volt electric car, and he certainly doesn’t “Take It Easy” when it comes to taking political and green-minded stands. When GT catches up with the founder of Musicians United for Safe Energy, and Nukefree.org, his thoughts are preoccupied with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—and the plastic that feeds it.

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Literature

Into the Eye of the Storm

Into the Eye of the Storm

Sacred Activism as a path of transformation
What breaks your heart?” Andrew Harvey believes that when we each answer this question we’ll be inspired to engage in compassionate and radical action to transform humanity. The India-born poet and translator is also director of The Institute for Sacred Activism and author of many books including “The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism” and “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” with Patrick Gaffney and Sogyal Rinpoche. His newest book, with Karuna Erickson, is “Heart Yoga: The Sacred Marriage of Yoga and Mysticism.”

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A&E

Bold Moves

Bold Moves

Indie film ‘Bold Native’ explores the ethos of animal liberation
"What is freedom? Are we born with it, or do we earn it? And if you deny freedom to the quiet ones—those who have no voice—can you be free yourself? Or are you caged by your own lack of compassion?”

These are the opening words in the film Bold Native, as spoken by the film’s protagonist, a young man named Charlie Cranehill. Charlie is a strong believer in American freedom. But he’s also a domestic terrorist wanted by the F.B.I. and his own freedom survives only so long as he can evade the authorities.

As the leader of a small cell of animal liberators who call themselves Bold Native (and whom the government are after for millions of dollars in property damage), Charlie’s life and livelihood are dedicated to freeing animals from injustices inflicted upon them by humans. The fiction feature length film follows Charlie, documentary-style, over a two year period as he organizes 35 simultaneous liberation actions—the largest ever coordinated in the decentralized, loosely organized movement known as the Animal Liberation Front, or ALF.

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Theater

A New Jewel

A New Jewel

Jewel Theatre Company takes over the Actors’ Theatre space
Julie James has some big shoes to fill. And we think she’ll do just fine. As the artistic director of Jewel Theatre Company, one of Santa Cruz’s only equity theater companies, James has decided to ratchet things up significantly with her constantly sold-out theater performances by securing Jewel a home base—the old Actors’ Theatre digs. Actors’ Theatre, a long-time Santa Cruz venue for plays created by the resident company at the time (Actors’ Theatre), and many other shows that have passed through its halls, has moved out of the building. The empty space paved the way for James and her company, Jewel, to take over as the resident company.

The big shoes are the memories that Actors’ Theatre leaves in that building on Center Street. There, the annual 8 10s @ 8 has happened (and will continue to as James is already in conversations to keep that event ongoing). In addition, Actors’ Theatre raised up a cadre of directors, producers, and actors in Santa Cruz, and offered classes, workshops, and much more throughout the years.

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A&E

The Poems of David Thorn

The Poems of David Thorn

Editor’s note: In this week’s Poetry Corner, we feature the work of poet David Thorn. He has been published in Poetry Canada, in England, and many literary magazines across the United States, including the Porter Gulch Review, and has been the Poet of the Year three times. He is a writing teacher at UC Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College and is considered Santa Cruz’s original surfing poet.

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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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Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire