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Aug 27th
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A&E

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Indie Spirit

Indie Spirit

Santa Cruz native subject of Sundance-winning documentary

Edmund McMillen remembers the moment when his professional ambitions became apparent. He was a freshman at Soquel High School, when a local independent artist named Clay Butler visited as a guest speaker.

“I just thought he was the coolest guy in the world,” says McMillen. “I knew that I wanted to do exactly what he did, which was whatever he wanted. Just to get paid for being creative and doing your own stuff. And I knew it wasn’t a very lucrative career because you risk a lot to do it, but I could just tell right away that if I had the ability to do that I would be very happy.”

That revelation was only the beginning of a long process of making his dreams a reality, but the payoff has been substantial. Now an independent video game developer, McMillen is a subject in the documentary Indie Game: The Movie, winner of the World Cinema Documentary Editing Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and an official selection for the SXSW Film Festival later this month. The film will be screening at The Rio Theatre on March 2, followed by a Q&A with the film’s directors, Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky, as well as McMillen and his partner Tommy Refenes.

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A Picture’s Worth

A Picture’s Worth

Local photographer Kalie Ilana Cassel-Feiss weaves art and activism

Brightly colored strands of cotton slant taut into the hands of an indigenous Guatemalan woman weaver, wearing an intricately patterned skirt. Similarly elaborate shawls and scarves hang in the background and hint at the handiwork the woman is about to create. The scene is captured in a photograph taken by local photographer/painter Kalish (Kalie) Ilana Cassel-Feiss, as part of a series entitled “Weaving Women Guatemala.”

Cassel-Feiss explains that the woman in the photograph is weaving with thread made of cotton flowers, which the women in an indigenous Mayan village spun and colored by hand with dyes from local plants.

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Circles of Mathematical Women

Circles of Mathematical Women

Dancers pay homage to mathematical foremothers

The relationship between women and mathematics is historically underappreciated. But despite adversity, women, often self-taught, have made significant discoveries in the field.

The earliest known female mathematician was Hypatia, an intellectual in ancient Alexandria. She was murdered in AD 415 by a Christian mob for what they called pagan, unladylike behavior. Émilie du Châtelet cross-dressed so she could attend lectures in the 1700s, Sophie Germain published under a male pseudonym in the early 1800s, and Emmy Noether gave lectures under the name of a male colleague in the early 1900s.

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Blurring Borders

Blurring Borders

Lila Downs to perform a multicultural show of ‘sins and miracles’ at The Mello

Singer-songwriter Lila Downs’ work has always been about blurring borderlines—international, cultural, racial, and musical. The daughter of a Mixtec Indian singer and Scottish-American professor, she grew up listening to her mother rendering Lola Beltrán’s heartfelt rancheras and her father crooning Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.”

From her early multicultural influences, Downs began to create music that was a cutting-edge synthesis of traditional Mexican ballads with American jazz, folk, blues and rock, infused with indigenous sounds. She lives a cross-border life, residing and performing in both Mexico and the United States. And the songs she sings often tell the story of people whose lives straddle cultural and international boundaries, giving voice to the uprooted and disenfranchised, as well as honoring the stories they carry from their homeland.

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Beautiful Disaster

Beautiful Disaster

Local artist Glenn Carter invites Santa Cruzans to discover beauty in the mess

Powerful reactions are commonplace when it comes to Glenn Carter’s art. During the 2011 Open Studios tour, the Santa Cruz artist recalls being approached by a spectator who had come through the exhibit feeling intensely affected. “It was toward the end of her visit and she remarked how stirring all the work was for her on a very deep level,” Carter says. “And then she welled up with tears, saying ‘Thank you for this.’ Seeing someone moved to that level of deep and sincere feeling is the highest compliment I could hope to receive.”

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Happy Endings

Happy Endings

UCSC alumna returns with one-woman show about her experience in hospice

It was during one of her first visits as a hospice worker that Taren Sterry realized something significant. “His name was Don,” says Sterry, as she recalls her patient. “We were sitting at his kitchen table. And I had a very clear thought that none of the books or studying or papers that I had read up until that point had prepared me for the job that I was there to do, which was simply to be present with another human being.”

The visit was just one of many during a six-month ethnographic field study as part of the community studies major at UCSC. Inspired by a course taught by Wendy Martyna about death and dying, Sterry chose to work with terminally ill patients and their families. “After about three classes I knew that was what I wanted to study,” she says. “I loved stories, I still do. I love learning about people’s lives. I love hearing about how people make meaning out of their lives.”

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Pushing the Envelope

Pushing the Envelope

‘What Is Erotic?’ makes its seventh run at The 418

ll through history, artists have been pushing us to examine our views of what is and isn’t erotic, with subjects ranging from the relatively tame (Francisco Goya’s “La Maja Desnuda”) to the extremely challenging (Mapplethorpe’s photography, Rod Stewart’s “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?”). Santa Cruz keeps this tradition alive via “What Is Erotic?”a festive and daring fundraiser for The 418 Project. Themed “In the Boudoir,” this year’s event—the seventh overall—hits The 418 on the weekends before and after Valentine’s Day.

The fun, bawdy character of “What Is Erotic?” will be evident right from the Pre-Show Erotic Salon: Staying in character, the actors will playfully interact with audience members. Moondance O’Brien, one of this year’s performers, reveals that the show’s cast and crew refers to the members of this “welcoming committee” as “fluffers.” “Some people might be feather ticklers; some people might be reciting poetry; some people might be offering spankings,” she explains. Other performers will hand-feed chocolate-dipped strawberries to audience members. All such interaction is consent-oriented, but O’Brien ventures that “the majority of people who come to this show have a sense of what they’re going to experience. They’re pretty eager.”

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The Poems of David Swanger

The Poems of David SwangerEditor’s note:  This week’s Poetry Corner features David Swanger, the second Santa Cruz County Poet Laureate. Swanger has received fellowships in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council. He has written a book about poetry, “The Poem as Process,” a book about aesthetic education, “Essays in Aesthetic Education,” as well as four books of poems. His most recent book of poems, “Wayne’s College of Beauty,” won the John Ciardi Prize in Poetry, and was a finalist in Fore Word’s Book of the Year Awards.
Natural Disaster
(January 1982, Santa Cruz County)
 
Overflow advances across strawberry
fields, insinuates streets and suddenly
everyone has a house on the water. And
such rich, redolent water, water carrying
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In Style, In Love

In Style, In Love

Local ‘green’ fashion designer infuses Buddhist teachings into her clothing and bag line

Spirituality and fashion. They seem so … out of style. How often do you run across an article in Vogue about a leading designer who’s focused on putting a spiritual spin on the construction of his or her garments? Praise God and wear high heels? Follow Buddha and slip into something slinky? It seems like an unlikely pairing—as unlikely as wearing a trench coat in the dead heat of summer. But there are some fashion designers who are trying to make a difference with their creative work by way of constructing fashionable attire that offers a positive message. Case in point—Anastasia Keriotis, the 51-year-old founder of Dharma Love, a wildly successful local “green” design company whose wares can be seen in stores around the county and in numerous Whole Foods markets.

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Ready to B.I.K.E.?

Ready to B.I.K.E.?

Bike Dojo unveils new program that links kids in need with bikes—and exercise

In 2010 the Outdoor Foundation reported that cycling is the second most popular activity. But while that may not be “news” to the many avid cyclists here in Santa Cruz, another factoid may raise eyebrows and force people to take action: More than 50 percent of children don’t have a bicycle or don’t even know how to ride. The statistics also note that more kids know how to play video and computer games than those who know how to ride a bike.  

But not for long.

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The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

His Dinner With David

Author + reporter = brainy talk in ‘End of the Tour’
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Land of Plenty

Farm to Fork benefit dinner for UCSC’s Agroecology Center, plus a zippy salsa from Teresa’s Salsa that loves every food it meets

 

If you knew you had one week to live, what would you do?

Make peace with myself, which would allow me to be at peace with others. Diane Fisher, Santa Cruz, Network Engineer

 

Comanche Cellars

Michael Simons, owner and winemaker of Comanche Cellars, once had a trusted steed called Comanche, which was part of his paper route and his rodeo circuit, from the tender age of 10. In memory of this beautiful horse, he named his winery Comanche, and Comanche’s shoes grace the label of each handcrafted bottle.

 

Cantine Winepub

Aptos wine and tapas spot keeps it casual