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Aug 29th
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Arts, Entertainment, Dining, Calendar

A&E

Nun on the Run

Nun on the Run

Suzanne St. John’s debut documemory is a blessing

Maybe they were sipping warm cups of coffee, or nibbling on licorice. Suzanne St. John isn’t quite sure. All she remembers is that her mom, Nancy St. John, said something along the lines of “I used to be a nun.” The 20-year-old Suzanne was floored. But even then, and now, 16 years later, she says it all sort of makes sense. The bizarre twist in her mother’s life is the puzzle piece that was missing for so many years.

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Literature

A Rare Bird

A Rare Bird

Favorite local author James D. Houston pens another engrossing novel

When James D. Houston walks into your office and kindly asks if you might be willing to review his latest book, the answer, of course, is yes. Houston, a long-time local scribe who has achieved national acclaim for his writings, is a master of the written word. His books, including the recent release, “Bird of Another Heaven,” are gems. In addition, the fact that Houston is a down-to-earth gentleman puts yet another gold star in his grade book.

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A&E

Green Things

Green Things

Renee’s garden keeps on growing

Renee, Renee, how does your garden grow? With Asian greens and seedlings, and pretty flowers all in a row. OK, so that’s a spin-off of an old nursery rhyme, but somehow it seems fitting for a local woman who’s the master of her own garden—Renee Shepard.

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A&E

Everything is Illuminated

Everything is Illuminated

Jewish Film Fest offers an insider’s glimpse at life in Israel

These days, film festivals are aplenty. There’s one being hawked every few months (or so it seems). So how do you plow through the weeds to pluck a gem of a festival? In the case of this month’s latest offering, you won’t have to do much hemming and hawing. GT can fully endorse the following festival fare: On Sunday, March 11, audiences will be whisked overseas to the heart of Israel, which serves as the backdrop for five powerful films offered in the 7th Annual Temple Beth El Jewish Film Festival.

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Literature

Hollywood in the Hills

Jane Smiley takes on Tinesltown

Last year, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley slipped into a UC Santa Cruz class. While she might be a bit older than the general stock of students, no one paid attention to her. Week after week, Smiley sat in on Loren Steck’s class about Hollywood, how the showbiz industry works and the movies that it makes. Smiley, a famous author, with her signature light hair, big glasses and wide smile, took notes. If only the students had known who was amongst them—Smiley was attending a class about movies to do research for a book she was writing about Hollywood and the people who make movies.

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A&E

Wild Tiger

Wild Tiger

How former Santa Cruzan Aaron Platt nabbed an Independent Spirit Award nomination


The phone rang at 8:30 in the morning in November 2006. Aaron Platt roused himself from sleep and grabbed it. On the other end was his friend and movie-making cohort, Cam Archer, “freaking out on the phone,” Platt says. Still in a sleepy stupor, it took Platt a little time to catch on to what Archer was so excited about. “It was straight out of that movie, For Your Consideration, where the kid is not expecting the Oscar nomination and he’s in his apartment passed out,” Platt says. “Cam said I got nominated for something. I had no idea what he was talking about.”

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A&E

Lymphedema

Lymphedema

What is it? Patients with this frustrating disease speak out and offer help

In 2000, Stephanie Mungai received one of those pesky insect bites. Most people would just slap on some soothing balm and forget about it. But for Mungai, that was hardly the case. Within an hour her arm was red and puffed up to nearly an inch larger than its normal size. She had to rush to an emergency room.

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Theater

The Real Thing

The Real Thing

New theater company raises the curtain for Tom Stoppard

Santa Cruz has long been a haven for theatrics (both on stage and off). The town is hardly lacking in drama. While virtual “plays” are often seen downtown everyday amongst our colorful cast of locals, theater companies in town also keep audiences delighted.

In a coastal community that’s saturated with creativity, our actors, playwrights, directors and their ilk are a close-knit crew. Many of these artists and the companies they perform with are firmly rooted in town, sort of like concrete. They’re not going anywhere.

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Literature

V for Vendela

V for Vendela

Identity issues surface in Vendela Vida’s captivating new read

Dad has just died. Mom split when she was just 14. Her brother is “mentally challenged.” Clarissa Iverton has had a rough life. But things are about to get even more gritty for the thirtysomething woman. Growing up in a dysfunctional household has hardly prepared her for a cross-continental trip that will tear back years and layers of family secrets, as well as invent a few new ones.

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A&E

women in film

women in film

Women’s issues hit the big screen at the Rio

Pop quiz: Name five hot-shot, female, Hollywood directors. Penny Marshall and … stumped? Me too. Sadly, the odds of watching a movie that was directed by a woman are slim.

In 2005, “only seven percent of film directors were women,” says Brooke Golden, director of LUNAFEST, a film festival that comes to the Rio Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 27. “Of the 250 top domestic Hollywood grossing films in 2005, women comprised only 17 percent of all the directors, producers, writers and cinematographers.” Those are alarming statistics for any woman trying to break into this boys’ club. But Golden and her pals at the company that fills us up with nutritious Luna bars have been making strides to change those statistics over the last six years, by hosting a traveling film festival that features movies about women, made by women.

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Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
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Himalayan Kitchen

Chef Purna Regmi on the secrets of Nepalese cooking

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.