Bouquets to Art 2014, de Young Museum of San Francisco

Tuesday, March 18 thru Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bouquets to Art is one of the great treats of early spring each year at the de Young Museum of San Francisco. Floral artists create bouquets that complement and play off of the surrounding artwork via color, form, texture, and content.

The earlier you go, the fresher the flowers will be. You are welcome to bring a camera if you would like (at least for the current year). And don’t forget to allow time to see the Georgia O’Keefe exhibit, which runs through May 11.

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Corina Vacco, My Chemical Mountain, YA Author Talk at Book Passage

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Corina Vacco, local author and SCBWI member, spoke at Book Passage last night about her Delacorte Press Prize winning YA novel, My Chemical Mountain, which was just released by Random House in June.

Transferred by her husband’s job to Upstate New York, Corina discovered that her new home was next to one of America’s most toxic waste dumps, which contained over one thousand tons of waste, including radioactive material from the Manhattan Project of WWII. Having been raised by an environmental activist mother, Corina attended a neighborhood meeting where community members addressed their concerns to a panel of chemical industry executives and local politicians.

One woman told the spokespeople that 22 neighbors on her street had cancer. Another said that when her son stepped into a puddle at the base of the landfill, his shoe melted. To all their statements and questions, the experts asserted that the environment and drinking water were safe. Basically, they said the companies were not responsible for any cleanup or safety measures.

Corina saw the hope in the people’s hearts dying before her very eyes. They were just ordinary men and women trapped in terrible circumstances being snowed over by sophisticated, monied interests. The experts were smug and dismissal until one seventeen-year-old boy took the mic. He raged against the pollution and that no one was doing anything about it. That’s when Corina knew she had a story to write.

A few days later, her protagonist popped into her head, and she began to ask him questions. Soon, two more characters joined in. Each character’s voice was strong and distinct. It was as though the story had come to her to be written, as if it were a living thing with its own heartbeat and life force.

Central to the story is this question: When you are in real danger and no one listens, no one cares, and no one will do anything to help, then what is the right way to go about driving meaningful change? The plot revolves around three different boys with three different answers, and all are addicted to the danger and thrill of landfill culture.

For more information, see: http://www.corinavacco.com/.

Congratulations, Donna Weidner!

Donna Weidner, fellow member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and kidlit critique group member, recently signed on with agent, Stephen Fraser of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. Donna pitched Stephen at the SCBWI Spring Spirit Conference in Citrus Heights, CA earlier this year. Congratulations! Yeah, Donna! You go, girl!

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Debut Author, Donna Weidner

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Agent, Stephen Fraser

Marin Theatre Company Quotes My Blog!

This is so cool! The Marin Theatre Company quotes my blog on their webpage about The Beauty Queen of Leenane! See http://marintheatre.org/productions/beauty-queen/

Here’s a screen shot:MarinTheatre_BeautyQueen

Review: Arcadia, A.C.T, San Francisco

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I have to admit, I just don’t understand the rave reviews everyone gives this play. I consider it more an intellectual exercise than a drama. There are no guts to it. It is all about head trips and casual sex with nothing in between. I really wanted to care, but I couldn’t find anything to care about.

For a play supposedly about so many types of knowledge and its pursuit (romantic, literary, mathematical, and so forth), I came away feeling that I really hadn’t learned anything. It was so much chatter by characters for whom I had no empathy. Is that the point of it? The uselessness of knowledge and the lack of meaning once youth and innocence have gone?

The beginning of the play has freshness and wit. In the year 1809, a young girl asks her handsome tutor the meaning of “carnal embrace.” What a wonderful way to start. Then, a farcical plot of the cuckold husband emerges as the audience realizes that the tutor is the rogue lover. I’m not a big fan of farces, but the pacing is good and the mathematical and existential musings of the brilliant young student are promising.

However, when the action switches to the modern era, the energy and interest drop off. The characters are bloated, islands of ego who pursue pet theories on Byron, a fictitious hermit, and an algorithm based on an old hunting log, which all refer back to the period of the first scene.

Throughout the play, the scenes switch back and forth between the two time periods and finally merge in the end. Slathered on top of this literary acrobatics is a good dose of Stoppardian wisdom. Much of it I do not buy. The young pupil, Thomasina, expresses grief at the great loss of Greek knowledge and theater during the burning of the Library of Alexandria, and her tutor replies:

We shed as we pick up, like travelers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those left behind. The procession is very long and life is short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it.

Does this really sound like something a handsome young playboy who shags everyone’s wife would say? These are words of someone who has given up, the musings of middle age or later life, not those of an impassioned young man. Has he not heard of the Dark Ages? From what galaxy is he looking back at the Earth?

The play ends on a touching scene–when there’s nothing left to say, it is better to shut up and dance…the waltz, of course. It is true that much of the science and math were over my head (Fermat’s Last Theorem, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, Chaos Theory, and so forth). But even if I had boned up on all of these and read the script ahead of time, I still need to have characters that I care about–none of them seemed real to me. Despite Stoppard’s brilliance and the professional acting, I give the production a B rating. The setting and lighting were excellent.

Thank goodness for real people, the audience. Here’s a fellow who has something to share (a t-shirt from his wife’s high school in beautiful Arcadia, Wisconsin):

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Performances are extended through June 16. For more information, see: http://www.act-sf.org/1213/arcadia/

Discount tickets are available at: http://www.goldstar.com/events/san-francisco-ca/arcadia

Rebels with a Cause: How a Battle Over Land Changed the Landscape Forever; Rafael Film Center

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Why don’t the Marin Headlands look like an upscale Daly City? And why doesn’t Pt. Reyes have a six-lane highway? Because a small handful of citizens banded together to protect the land for future generations.

This is the story of how homemakers, lawyers, farmers, ranchers, activists, and a few politicians, worked together to sign into law the first National Seashore, and to protect open space and agricultural land in San Francisco and Marin County over the last 60 years. Prepare to be moved and inspired. If you care enough, you can change your world.

Screenings:

June 7-13, 2013: San Rafael (Smith Rafael Film Center); Berkeley (Elmwood Theater); Sebastopol (Rialto Cinemas)

6:30PM, Saturday, June 8 and 1:30PM, Sunday, June 9: Screenings followed by discussions (for 6/9 info see http://www.climate-one.org/upcoming-events/rebels-cause-film-screening-and-discussion)

June 14-16, 2013: San Jose (Camera 3)

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Filmmakers Nancy Kelly & Kenji Yamamoto, and Rebels Huey Johnson and Doug Ferguson, received standing ovations at the Rafael’s post screening Q&A last night.

Huey Johnson is co-founder of Trust for Public Land, as well as founder of the Resource Renewal Institute. Doug Ferguson is a lawyer and environmental activist

Rebels will be broadcasted on KRCB next year.

For more information, see: http://rebelsdocumentary.org/ and  http://krcb.org/video-on-demand/rebels-with-a-cause