Arts & Culture

Broad City for Los Angeles: Ladywood on YouTube

Fans of Broad City know how important the representation of Abbi and Ilana’s friendship is in today’s media landscape. And it wouldn’t be on Comedy Central today if it hadn’t started out as a popular webseries by the same name. If you’re searching for more non-hegemonic representations of modern femininity on YouTube in a sea of makeup tutorials, I cannot recommend Ladywood highly enough.

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This webseries is the result of an award winning filmmaker and a Groundlings actor living together and making a thing inspired by their real life friendship. With a healthy list of cast and crew, this project was certainly not shot on an iPhone. To learn more about it, read Auri and Dani’s about page.

I have to be honest, I haven’t watched Broad City nearly as much as I know I should. As a California native, I find it harder to relate to the East Coast themes in the show. The challenges West Coast life presents for 20-somethings are much different from those Abbi and Ilana face in New York City.

In LA’s Little Armenia, Auri and Dani grapple with when to sage their apartment, who to allow as a couch surfer, and how to break a ruinous juice habit. You know, pretty normal stuff for Californians.

Here’s the first episode of four:

You may recognize Auri from the “Guys Experience Periods for the First Time” Buzzfeed video she produced. It went viral and you should watch it, if you haven’t already. But first, warm up with Ladywood‘s “WTF is a Diva Cup,” also known as episode 2.

If you’ve got a lady wood (it had to be said) for this show, check out MyLadyWood.com and share the videos with all your lady friends.

 

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Arts & Culture, Photography

NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences

If you think science is sexy, then the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco has the date night for you! Every Thursday, Cal Academy hosts NightLife from 6 – 10 pm for a 21+ crowd.

Not only are NightLife guests able to wander through the exhibits with cocktail in hand, but every week there is a different theme with special events and guests. So far I have heard Adam Savage speak, watched a movie with Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and watched Lower Dens play.

But my favorite part is how intimate each of the exhibits feels after hours.

The rainforest exhibit is a sealed off area that retains humidity and feels like a futuristic greenhouse

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Butterflies flutter freely

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Terrariums house amphibians and camouflaged reptiles

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This is not a two headed monster: just a gecko and his reflection

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Then there are the aquariums

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And the dioramas

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10 out of 10 recommend

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Photography, Travel

The Beautiful Details of the Montana State Capitol Building

When I was learning the state capitols in 5th grade, I remember wanting to travel to all 50 — even despite the knowledge that Sacramento was far from the most exciting city in California.

15 years later, and I’ve still only been to 5 state capitols.

  1. Sacramento, California
  2. Providence, Rhode Island
  3. Boston, Massachusetts
  4. Phoenix, Arizona
  5. Denver, Colorado

Visiting my friend Kate in Helena, Montana this summer provided an excellent opportunity to add another capitol to my list — only 44 more to go!

While exploring Helena, I paid a special visit to the Montana State Capitol Building. 

The first thing I noticed about the building was its intricate door knobs.

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And this beautifully carved bench was in the ladies restroom of all places.

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My favorite painting by E.S. Paxson in the building shows Sacajawea directing Lewis & Clark.

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“Welcome to the House of Representatives”

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If you look closely at C.M. Russell’s painting, you can see a wolf snarling just above the Speaker of the House’s podium.

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My shoes matched the carpet.

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Photography, Travel

Picture Perfect Breakfast in Montana

If there’s anything I love more than breakfast food, it’s my friend Kate’s pictures of breakfast food.

In her reluctant hometown of Helena, Montana, Kate has captured some of the most delectable pictures of dark diners I have ever encountered. For years I have lusted over her beautiful photographs — which you can find on her blog Ze Photographist —  but it wasn’t until this summer’s road trip that I was finally able to experience her favorite haunts first hand.

Behold, No Sweat Cafe, with its handwritten menus, motown music and strict “no cell phones allowed” policy

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This breakfast table was crowded with multiple cameras and good friends.

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The most picturesque buttered toast I have ever seen.

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Walking away from the cafe, Kate pointed out downtown Helena’s restored brick wall advertisements and the spot where the used bookstore leaves free romance novels out on the street.

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KQED

Ed Drew’s ‘Native Portraits’ Drawn from Talking Circles, Fixed on Tintypes

On July 21, Spayne Martinez walked into the California Historical Society at the corner of Annie and Mission Streets in San Francisco. As an Academy of Art University alumna, she probably walked past the building countless times on her way to class in SOMA, but never with a 12-foot picture of her on display in the front windows. Inside, Martinez enthusiastically greeted Ed Drew, the photographer of behind Native Portraits: Contemporary Tintypes, on view at the CHS through Nov. 27.

"Spayne"2014-2015 Tintype by Ed Drew. Courtesy of the artist and Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco.
“Spayne”2014-2015 Tintype by Ed Drew. Courtesy of the artist and Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco.

Martinez beamed as she pointed out her son strapped to her back in the portrait and her cousin’s portrait a few frames down. As a professional portrait photographer herself and a tribal community member of the Klamath Basin, Martinez has a unique insight into the photographic representations of Native people.

Continue reading on KQED Arts

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KQED

Primer Stories Saves the Internet from Itself One GIF at a Time

When was the last time an animated GIF left you breathless? (And not just because you were laughing so hard you couldn’t breathe.)

Whether you pronounce the file format with a hard G or a soft J, the medium is undeniable. GIFs often feature a series of still images ripped from popular videos to create an animated loop. The result is easily shareable and usually hilarious, but rarely an example of fine design.

Joe Alterio. Courtesy Primer&Co.
Joe Alterio. Courtesy Primer&Co.
Tim Lillis. Courtesy Primer&Co.
Tim Lillis. Courtesy Primer&Co.

This is where Joe Alterio and Tim Lillis hope to challenge your idea of what the internet should look like. The designers created Primer Stories in 2015 to share thought-provoking articles that integrate text and visuals for an interactive dual narrative. Based in San Francisco and Seattle respectively, Lillis and Alterio both draw inspiration from the Bay Area’s fusion of art and tech culture. . .

Continue reading on KQED Arts

This article was originally published on KQED Arts on 27 June 2016.

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Arts & Culture

So You Watched Stranger Things and Want to Play Dungeons & Dragons?

30 years from now, will there be a cinematic ode to childhood in 2016 that revolves around Pokémon Go? Probably not.

Here’s why: children staring into their phones is not a compelling visual. You know what is? The opening scene of Stranger Things, showing four boys animatedly playing Dungeons and Dragons.

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Stranger Things follows this group of boys as they grapple with supernatural happenings in their small town. Drawing heavily from D&D mythology and ethos, the entire plot of Stranger Things could have easily been a collective creation of these boys’ table top role playing.

But you don’t have to be a prepubescent boy living in the 80s to appreciate Dungeons & Dragons. If you’ve never tangled with a 20-sided die, there’s no better time than the present.

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Photo by Diacritica via Creative Commons

I began playing D&D in 2014 after watching Freaks & Geeks and listening to the Harmontown podcast. I even wrote an article for KQED Arts about how Judd Apatow and Dan Harmon have rewritten the roleplaying geek through their television characters.

I was lucky enough to have not one, but two amazing Dungeon Masters in my life, but not everyone is so lucky. So how can you start playing Dungeons & Dragons?

If you start talking about D&D, friends and family may come out of the woodwork to show you their old character sheets and pass along their materials and wisdom. Maybe no one has ever given them the opportunity to share their nerdom before!

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But if you and everyone you know is removed from nerd culture (AKA too cool for school), you can bet there’s a comic bookstore or hobby shop in your area that has its finger on the pulse of the local D&D scene.

Often, these stores have a bulletin board where you can find calls for D&D players and Dungeon Masters. This is a great way to join a campaign or game or seek a seasoned Dungeon Master.

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But if even this fails, buy a Dungeon Master Guide, a Player Handbook and a Monster Manual and start your own campaign from scratch. It’s definitely not easy, but if 12 year-olds in the 80s could do it, so can you!

Here’s A Step-By-Step Introduction D&D for Total Beginners. It includes 7 articles that cover the following:

“Article 1: Introduction – Deals briefly with game philosophy, the basic mechanic, the adventuring party, and some important terms

Article 2: Character Creation: Mechanics – A step-by-step guide to building a first-level character

Article 3: Character Creation: Story – Some tips to building a well-rounded and interesting character

Article 5: Leveling – A check-list of things to remember when leveling up

Article 4: Basic Combat – The basics of combat: attacks, damage, armor class, movement, saves, skills

Article 6: Advanced Combat – More advanced combat techniques, spell usage, situational modifiers

Article 7: Beyond the Core – A brief discussion of non-core classes and systems (psionics, Tome of Battle, Magic of Incarnum, etc.)”

Have fun and try not to summon a Demogorgon!
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