Pixel Vision

Barbie gets a makeover, San Francisco-style

|
(12)

Last Wednesday, Shotwell 50 Studio launched its 11th annual San Francisco AlteredBarbie Exhibition, “The Doll That Has It All!” The show features the doll that dominated so many of our childhoods as she has never appeared before. Statues, dioramas, paintings, and photographs created by dozens of artists test the limits of the familiar figure in this unusual creative reuse exhibit. “To alter Barbie is almost a religious thing,” states Julie Andersen, who curates the exhibit each year. “It’s very blasphemous. That’s how strong the icon is.”

Read more »

The Performant: This is Halloween

|
(0)

Nothing quite says “Happy Halloween” like an evening full of splatter gore and general mayhem, and this year there were several options to choose from, including an interactive zombie apocalypse battle royale at Chez Poulet and a multi-level haunted house extravaganza at the Old Mint which promised similarly to let patrons “live the horror movie,” hopefully sans actual evisceration of ticket-holders, but these are dangerous times we’re living in. On the theatrical front we had the Thrillpeddlers strutting their creepy stuff onstage at the Hypnodrome (through Nov. 23), buckets of blood and teen angst at Ray of Light’s Carrie: The Musical, and a brief, yet enGROSSing run of the thematically-appropriate Grand Guignol, co-produced by Pianofight.

Read more »

A big Oscar contender opens! Plus: two politically charged docs, 'Diana,' and more new movies

|
(1)

The movie you need to see this weekend, ASAP, is 12 Years a Slave — one of the most important releases of the year, and a likely contender for all possible awards, including Best Actor and Best Picture. (Review here.) Also new to theaters is the Cannes-winning, controversy-stirring Blue is the Warmest Color. (Review here.)

Read on for more short takes on today's new releases, plus a 1979 cult classic that's ripe for rediscovery. Read more »

The Performant: Alley up!

|
(1)

Clarion Alley Block Party still standing strong

It’s an age-old paradox of urban living that no matter how much there is to do and see it’s a) impossible to experience it all and b) so easy to take it all for granted. And it’s really not such a stretch to figure out that the more we take for granted the more chance there is that one day those things we love will disappear.

Of course a certain amount of flux is healthy, and part of what makes a city vibrant is that it’s a place where new ideas and new energies take root and flourish far more readily than in more insular, more homogenous spaces. And for every street corner band that’s moved indoors, every homey café long gone, every poetry brawl, punk rock peepshow, robot sex symposium, marching band parade, and nomadic dance party that have dropped off the radar, there’s bound to be a new crew of upstart art-agonists rising up to fill the empty spaces, it’s just finding the will or time to seek them out that can be daunting. They’re worth the effort. But sometimes we don’t want to have to put in so much effort.

Like comfort food for the underground, some perennial events are still staking out the remnants of, if not the long-distant past, at least the 90s, where the foundations for much of what is now taken for granted were formed. The Clarion Alley Block Party is one such remnant, and still going strong, as Saturday’s event proved.

Read more »

New movies! Including a few scary ones (no thanks to Hollywood)!

|
(0)

Incredibly, Hollywood is allowing this hallowed weekend to pass without releasing a single horror movie. (Unless you count Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, which I don't.) Frights galore exist in local rep houses, however (right this way for a calendar), and for those who'd simply like turn off the lights, pretend nobody's home, and eat all the Fun Size Snickers themselves, there's some non-seasonal fare worth checking out (plus, two of those rep-house chillers!) in the below reviews.

Read more »

Sister looks explode: Project Nunway V kicks fashion into "Dissident Futures"

|
(0)

You want looks? Here's looks.

For the fifth year, Sister Baba Ganesh and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence will put on their eye-popping, charitable fashion show Project Nunway -- an extravaganza seriously not to be missed if you want some only-in-SF flavor. Or, as head sis Sister Roma puts it: "In my 25-plus years of being a sister this is one of the most amazing, jawdroppingly beautiful events we've ever produced."

On Nov. 2 at YBCA, the big Sisters event will delve into the realm of Big Brother, with the theme "Dissident Futures." Expect chills! Read more »

The Performant: Cheers for fears

|
(0)

If you consume the news at all you'll find a lot to be afraid of that seems endemic to the modern age: swine flu, restless leg syndrome, Ellis Act evictions, terrorist sleeper cells, compromised data privacy, zombie attacks. But despite its almost constant presence in our lives, this kind of fear merely creates a continuous low-grade malaise, an emotional state which appears to benefit only the evolution of pharmaceutical companies and the self-help book publishing trade.

So it's no wonder that in our search for "real" sensation, we often turn towards a more primal state of fear. The sort of fear that compels us to skydive out of airplanes, ride roller coasters, and surf giant waves, activities designed to trigger that survivalist fight or flight instinct that we then harness for our own adrenaline-generating, sensation-seeking purposes. The kind of fear that compels us to visit that most seasonal of attractions: the haunted house.

There are haunted houses designed to make you laugh and haunted houses designed to make you scream, and ideally a bit of each, a giddy state of being which San Leandro's Fear Overload makes a considered effort to provide.

Read more »

'Long Shot' doc follows Bay Area hoops star Kevin Laue

|
(0)

Perfectly timed to coincide with the start of basketball season: the release of Franklin Martin's Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story, billed as "Hoop Dreams meets Murderball," with a healthy shot of Linsanity (now playing) to boot.

Martin spent four years following the Pleasanton-raised Laue, who was born with a left arm that ends just below his elbow. We see the budding hoops star — an honor student at Amador Valley High School as the film begins — mature from tousle-haired teen standout to Division I hopeful, refining his skills at a tough Virginia military academy along the way. Read more »

Sweet 'n' local: chocolate-making with Dandelion at the SF Botanical Garden

|
(45)

"My name is Kaylen, and I'm a chocoholic," I announced at the Mesoamerican cloud forest at the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society (SFBGS), where users like me met for a recent course taught by Dandelion Chocolate. But what else is there to know about chocolate, apart from learning how to quit?

A whole botanical and cultural history, as it turns out, including tribal trading spats, terroir to make a oenophile envious, and ancient medicinal remedies — so don't stop drinking just yet. (Sound enticing? Sign up for SFBGS's upcoming class with Dandelion Chocolate and Four Barrel Coffee on Nov. 9; more Dandelion events here.) Here's the report.

Read more »

Docs, docu-dramas, and one verrrry angry high schooler: new movies!

|
(0)

This week's fare includes a thoughtful doc about the debate over late-term abortions, Benedict Cumberbatch's star turn as Julian Assange, the Carrie remake, and more.

Read more »