Pixel Vision

Vegan idol Isa Chandra Moskowitz brings ‘Isa Does It’ to SF, reveals restaurant name

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The first thing you need to know about Isa Chandra Moskowitz is that she's a punky legend in the global vegan community. She started the DIY Post Punk Kitchen public access show in Brooklyn and (perhaps more importantly) created the vegan hub website of the same name exactly 10 years ago.

While maintaining PPK she has authored or co-authored eight popular cookbooks, right up to this fall's unfussy workday vegan cookbook, Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week (320 pps, Little Brown, $30). (She’s on a book tour that brings her to SF this Wed/13 at Book Passage in the Ferry Building, and there will be rosemary chocolate chip cookies there to share.) Read more »

The Performant: Games people play

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Ask any gamer, or specialist in pedagogy, and they'll say the same thing: games are as important to human development as any the rest of our skill-building activities. There’s evidence of game-playing in almost every culture dating all the way back to ancient Sumeria and Egypt. They also offer an entrance point into other cultures, whether by playing a familiar game like chess and seeing how it translates in an unfamiliar environment, or by learning a game representative of a particular place — Xiangqi (Chinese chess), say, or Ghanaian Oware.
 
But while some games have been around for literally thousands of years, other games seem to drop off the radar almost as quickly as they appear. What essential component gives games like Go, hide-and-go-seek, poker, Monopoly, and Super Mario Brothers such staying power over some of their, perhaps best forgotten peers? This is a question the game designers of San Francisco’s annual Come Out and Play Festival must ask themselves each year, as they present their latest inventions in the hopes of capturing the imaginations, and just maybe the funds, to bring their games to the public at large.

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Chocolate + 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' = irony that tastes gooooood

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When I got to work Friday morning, I found the Arts and Culture editors, along with our publisher, huddled outside a cubicle, mouths agape. I joined them. A large rectangular box sat on the desk. Reminiscent of the strange stone tablet from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), it rose up from the desk, black, and ominous, only this one gleamed with golden letters, spelling out “Catching Fire.” Inside, I found chocolate.

(Here’s a quick rule of thumb in the newsroom: You will get promotional gifts. Another one: rarely will a promo grab your attention. But my favorite is: Do not let thy promo go to waste.)

I did what any food writer would do. I tasted each and every last chocolate bar — a total of 12, one for each “District” inside the post-apocalyptic world of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy The Hunger Games. (The timing of this delivery, of course, is to whet one's appetite for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, out Nov 22). Crafted by chocolate makers Vosges through their American farmer-sourced Wild Ophelia line, each chocolate bar incorporated aspects of American geography, on which Panem, the segregated, classist country where heroine Katniss lives, was based.

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Hunky Vikings! Crusading Texans! And more new movies!

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Two big 'uns this week: blockbuster-to-be Thor: The Dark World (review below), and the very fine drama Dallas Buyers Club, featuring standout performances by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto (Dennis Harvey's review here). If you seek a respite from Hollywood, check out San Francisco's own South Asian International Film Festival (some recommendations from me, here), or read on for more short takes on this week's new offerings.

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Barbie gets a makeover, San Francisco-style

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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.”

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The Performant: This is Halloween

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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 »