Local artist displays work for community at show benefitting SMMEF

Local artist James Crowley (right), Ed Burke (center) and Diego Vinals talk during a showing of Crowley's work at the Spindle and Canister store at Malibu Country Mart on Saturday, March 7, 2015.

Local artist James Crowley (right), Ed Burke (center) and Diego Vinals talk during a showing of Crowley’s work at the Spindle and Canister store at Malibu Country Mart on Saturday, March 7, 2015.

For local artist James Crowley, a family trip to the Four Corners monument, winning and losing at gambling in Las Vegas, and his father’s death all have one thing in common — they inspire his art.

“Almost every piece has something personally to do with my life,” Crowley said while standing next to a piece called “Heart Luck,” which was inspired by his father’s heart attack.

Crowley’s work was shown at the Spindle & Canister clothing store in Malibu Country Mart on Saturday, March 7.

Crowley, 53, has been showing his art in various ways for 32 years in locations throughout the country and even overseas.
Michelle Geft, who started Art Space Malibu, put together the show at the store after she coincidentally happened upon Crowley’s art.

“When I first saw it, I was drawn to his abstracts immediately,” Geft said. “It just drew me in.”

Geft said the hidden meanings behind Crowley’s pieces are what make them attractive to art lovers.

Crowley uses mixed media for his creations. Using screen printing, oil sticks and acrylics, he puts together colorful pieces that all have a special meaning for him.

Crowley has been an artist since he was old enough to use coloring books, he said. His parents constantly encouraged him to take art classes, leading to the career he is actively engaged in today. His mother was also an artist.

Malibu Art Show_50

In order to financially support his passion, Crowley said he photographs professional surfers, does graphic art and produces sculptures.

However, the mere act of creating art is what really matters to Crowley.

“Everyone needs money to create art, but the art is the most important thing,” Crowley said.

Crowley’s art was for sale on Saturday, and a portion of the proceeds from the pieces and the clothing bought at the store that night was donated to the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation, Geft said. Two books of Crowley’s handmade drawings were also on display and the individual works were being sold.

At the showing, dozens of people attended and were treated to wine, cupcakes, and various finger foods.

Crowley said he sits outside and makes his art pieces, and seems to have a positive view on living in Malibu.

“I’m just very grateful to still be a part of the Malibu art community,” Crowley said. “I’ve lived here for three years … and I’m stoked to be here.”

Geft wants to coordinate more art showings from local talent so the community can start paying attention to the art world in Malibu.

“I think it brings arts to the community, which we don’t really have here, which is unfortunate because we have so many artists in Malibu,” Geft said. “So I really want to break that open for our community and show as many artists as possible.”

Permalink: http://www.malibusurfsidenews.com/local-artist-displays-work-community-show-benefitting-smmef

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Middle school actors execute ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ performance with precision

Milo Sposato (foreground) deilvers a monologue as Tevye during Malibu Middle School's performance of "Fiddler on the Roof" on Thursday, Feb. 26, at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Milo Sposato (foreground) deilvers a monologue as Tevye during Malibu Middle School’s performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” on Thursday, Feb. 26, at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Students from Malibu Middle School sang and danced their way into the audience’s hearts with their rendition of “Fiddler on the Roof,” which opened on Thursday, Feb. 26, in the Malibu High School amphitheater.

Produced, directed and choreographed by MMS science teacher Mark Larsen, “Fiddler” is a story about Tevye, played by Milo Sposato, and his five daughters as they fall in love with various men with whom their father does not approve.

One by one, Tevye’s daughters get engaged to men of their choosing, which goes against the traditional idea of men asking Tevye for his daughters’ hands in marriage and other Jewish customs. Even though Tevye hesitates at first, he ends up granting his blessing to all but one daughter, who marries a Catholic man against her father’s will.

The middle school’s rendition of the popular musical was well-executed and well-performed. Sposato as Tevye sang well throughout the show, and delivered his monologues perfectly and with the confidence and stage presence of a seasoned actor.

Claire Anneet, who played Tevye’s wife, Golde, was convincing as a woman who was strict and traditional, and expected her husband to be traditional as well.

Milo Sposato (right) and Claire Anneet act as Tevye and Golde during Malibu Middle School's performance of "Fiddler on the Roof" on Thursday, Feb. 26, at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Milo Sposato (right) and Claire Anneet act as Tevye and Golde during Malibu Middle School’s performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” on Thursday, Feb. 26, at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

The entire cast of characters gave justice to the music of the show, performing hits such as “Tradition,” If I Were A Rich Man” and “Matchmaker” in key and with precise harmonies.

One unique aspect of the musical was the stage background. Instead of going with traditional set pieces to tell the audience where a scene was located, there was a digital backdrop that was able to be manipulated in real time.

For example, during a scene when Tevye was walking gingerly from stage right, he mimed that he was carrying a heavy wagon behind him. To illustrate that, there was a wagon on the digital background that moved as Tevye pretended to pull it, making it seem like he was actually interacting with the wagon on the screen.

In the instances where the cast danced choreography, they were in rhythm and did not make mistakes. During a scene where four characters were in a wedding reception, they each put a bottle on top of hats they were wearing, and balanced them on their heads while doing their choreography. The crowd erupted in applause after that particular section of the musical.

Overall, the musical is a delight for both the eyes and the ears. For only being in sixth, seventh and eighth grades, the students at MMS conduct themselves with professionalism and know how to entertain.

Malibu Middle School also performed “Fiddler on the Roof” on Feb. 27 and 28 at 7 p.m., and Mar. 1 at 2 p.m.

Students from Malibu Middle School dance to a song during their performance of "Fiddler on the Roof" on Thursday, Feb. 26, at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Students from Malibu Middle School dance to a song during their performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” on Thursday, Feb. 26, at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Permalink: http://www.malibusurfsidenews.com/school/middle-schools-actors-execute-‘fiddler-roof’-performance-precision

MHS students showcase writing talents at poetry reading

Malibu high school senior Ede Bellcrowder recites her poem during the Kids on Coffee event on Thursday, May 29, 2014 inside the Bank of Books bookstore in Malibu, Calif.

Malibu high school senior Ede Bellcrowder recites her poem during the Kids on Coffee event on Thursday, May 29, 2014 inside the Bank of Books bookstore in Malibu, Calif.

Members of a Malibu High School creative writing class recited their original poetry in front of friends, family and members of the community on Wednesday, May 28, and Thursday, May 29, for the Kids on Coffee event inside the Bank of Books bookstore in Malibu.

Pamela Eilerson, manager of the bookstore, said it is important for teenagers to have an outlet for their feelings during their adolescence.

“The teenage years are so difficult,” Eilerson said. “I think that the more they can put their thoughts into words and the words to paper and express those thoughts orally, I think it’s a really great thing. I think it’s great for their mental health, if nothing else.”

The two-night event included mostly seniors from the high school, who will graduate on Friday, June 6. Their poems centered on their perspectives on living in Los Angeles.

Naomi Joshi, 17, said her poem about L.A. compared an outsider’s and insider’s view of the city. It was her first time reciting her original writing in front of an audience.

“It was actually pretty scary,” said Joshi, a senior in high school. “I haven’t done something like this before, so it was definitely something new, but I felt really good after. I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I felt kind of enlightened, too. It was really nice, I enjoyed it.”

Ede Bellcrowder, who is also a senior, said her experience in theater helped with her nerves while reciting her poem, and said it was also her first time reading her work in front of others.

“It was a great experience,” Bellcrowder said. “It was kind of cool to get direct feedback from people as I was reading and after.”

Eric Carrier, who teaches the creative writing class at Malibu High, recited a poem called “Schoolsville” by Billy Collins at the beginning of the event to set the mood for the night. He said he tries to teach his kids to be themselves through their writing.

“I tell them at the beginning of the year that they’re all strange people, they have strange ideas and strange thoughts, and to embrace that and celebrate that and to understand that that’s who they are and not hide it, but become a part of who they want to be instead of who we’re telling them they should be,” Carrier said.

Emma Dangaard recites her poem during the Kids on Coffee event on Thursday, May 29, 2014 inside the Bank of Books bookstore in Malibu, Calif.

Emma Dangaard recites her poem during the Kids on Coffee event on Thursday, May 29, 2014 inside the Bank of Books bookstore in Malibu, Calif.

Mainly an English teacher, Carrier likes being able to tell his budding writers to let go of restrictions in their work.

“It’s nice to be able to say to them in a creative writing class, ‘forget about it, forget about the rules. Let’s express in the way that you feel most natural and the way that you want to express yourself,’” Carrier said. “It’s nice to give them the freedom to choose how they want to be themselves instead of making them be a certain way.”

Bellcrowder said Carrier has had a great impact on her development as a writer.

“I think I am the writer I am because of his teaching,” Bellcrowder said. “We’ve gotten really close and he just influences a lot of how I write.”

Joshi said she likes how Carrier can be constructive about her writing, but also be truthful.

“He’s very honest, but he’s not judgmental in any way,” Joshi said. “He can explain his opinion to me and I won’t take it offensively in any way because I know that he’s trying to help me out, and he does help me in many ways.”

Carrier will no longer be teaching the creative writing class at Malibu High, which left his students reflecting on what he meant to them as a teacher.

“I feel like he cares a lot, not just about your grades or anything, but just as you as a person,” Bellcrowder said. “Especially with writing, I think it’s kind of important to have somewhat of a personal connection with your teacher because then it’s more of a mentor and it’s not so much someone telling you what to do and then grading it. So it’s more of like a friendship-type thing and that makes it easier to express yourself fully.”

Reagan Brewster recites her poem during the Kids on Coffee event on Thursday, May 29, 2014 inside the Bank of Books bookstore in Malibu, Calif.

Reagan Brewster recites her poem during the Kids on Coffee event on Thursday, May 29, 2014 inside the Bank of Books bookstore in Malibu, Calif.

Eilerson said Carrier taught her children when they were in high school, and is proud to hold an event at Bank of Books because of those ties.

“It’s terrific to hear the students reading their wonderful poetry and it’s terrific to host an event for the school because I still have very strong, positive feelings toward the school,” Eilerson said.

Bellcrowder felt that having the event in a bookstore was fitting.

“Obviously books are great literature, so it was a just kind of like influence and inspiration around us while we’re reading what we’ve written and it’s like the younger generation surrounded by the older generations that have already done this for years,” Bellcrowder said.

Joshi believes the poetry-reading event gives the community a chance to get to know the writers in a different way.

“I think it brings everyone together, which is really nice,” Joshi said. “It shows the community a lot about people that they didn’t even know.”

Malibu high school senior Naomi Joshi recites her poem during the Kids on Coffee event on Thursday, May 29, 2014 inside the Bank of Books bookstore in Malibu, Calif.

Malibu high school senior Naomi Joshi recites her poem during the Kids on Coffee event on Thursday, May 29, 2014 inside the Bank of Books bookstore in Malibu, Calif.

Permalink: http://www.malibusurfsidenews.com/mhs-students-showcase-writing-talents-poetry-reading

Bixler bids farewell following final concert

Bill Bixler acknowledges the seniors in his jazz band in between songs during the Malibu Band Concert on Thursday, May 16, 2014 at the Malibu High School auditorium in Malibu, Calif.

Bill Bixler acknowledges the seniors in his jazz band in between songs during the Malibu Band Concert on Thursday, May 16, 2014 at the Malibu High School auditorium in Malibu, Calif.

On a night where Malibu High School’s winds and jazz musicians took the stage for their annual spring concert, an era was ending.

Bill Bixler, teacher of instrumental music, conducted his last concert at the high school on Thursday, May 15.

“I thought I was going to fall to pieces emotionally,” Bixler said. “But the music does something to you. It rescues you, in a way, emotionally. So I just got inside of the music.”

Bixler had taught at the high school for the past 19 years, and said he almost didn’t get the job initially.

During a speech after the concert, Bixler’s wife, Leslie Bixler, told the story of how the school lost his application and the position for which he applied had already been filled. But when the position opened up again one week before the school year, Bixler was called in and took the job.

“There was barely a music department at all before he came,” said Robben Bixler, who added that his father started at Malibu a couple of years before his birth. “By the time I knew what was happening, he already started to bring everything up from the ground.”

Bixler said he had 14 kids to teach when he started in the early 1990s. Since, he has grown the music department and touched the lives of many, including Malibu alumnus Jared Weinstein, who played saxophone at the concert.

“It was really nostalgic being back up on stage because I remember doing performance after performance up here with him conducting and him playing along sometimes,” Weinstein said.

Weinstein went on to study at New York University and graduated in 2011. He said Bixler taught him “how to vibe, how to go with the flow and just play.”

“I think that really resonated with me,” Weinstein said. “Instead of ‘read this chart, read this chart, play it perfect,’ it was kind of about feeling the music and experiencing the music at the same time. That’s what I like to carry along with me.”

The spring concert featured music played by Malibu Middle School and the high school jazz and winds bands. Many of the students, including Robben Bixler, had the chance to perform solos with their respective instruments.

After the music, Bixler’s wife, son and colleagues gave emotional speeches and shared stories about Bixler’s impact on them and the school as a whole. Bixler was given a bouquet of roses after conducting the last number.

“They were saying things that I’d forgotten about,” Bixler said. “I just realized what wonderful people I have as my family.”

As a special tribute to Bixler, lyrics were written to the tune of “Hey Jude” by The Beatles. The song was renamed “Hey Bill,” and sung by the entire audience as Bixler stood listening on the right side of the stage.

“And after school has come and gone, you will live on, we cherish the music that you gave us,” said one lyric of the song.

Now that he is retired, Bixler said he will reconnect with his wife, tend to his garden, work on his house and visit some of his friends.

But while Robben Bixler may be losing a teacher to retirement, he is not losing the man he considers his best friend since fifth grade.

“I’m still going to be around him,” Robben Bixler said. “He’s still my dad.”

Permalink: http://www.malibusurfsidenews.com/bixler-bids-farewell-following-final-concert

Pack up the yellow umbrella kids: “How I Met Your Mother” says goodbye

Warning: If you haven’t watched the How I Met Your Mother finale, you probably should. Like now. We’ll wait.

The series finale in two paragraphs. Ready? Go!

The mother dies. She’s been dead for the entire series. There, it’s out there. Oh, and her name was Tracy. Barney and Robin get divorced, and Barney is randomly given a daughter after knocking up one of his floozies, apparently changing him forever.

Ted reveals that “the mother” gets sick, but doesn’t say from what. Then, his daughter suggests that the entire story — and hence, the entire 9-year series — was only told because Ted had the hots for Robin and wanted to ask her out. Ted then goes out, gets that blue french horn HIMYM fans know all too well, and shows up on Robin’s doorstep. The end.

Say it with me, fans: “Um…what?”

From an emotional standpoint, the finale is a definite tear-jerker, especially when Ted announces abruptly that he has to leave Barney and Robin’s wedding reception, leading to one-by-one, heart-wrenching goodbyes with each character. Ted was supposed to be leaving for Chicago in the morning, but when he meets Tracy at the train station, that plan gets abandoned because, well, it’s Ted.

Cute sentiment, but after that, the storyline veers off into a weird territory.

Robin and Barney’s marriage falls apart in three years, fueled by her insane workload and constant traveling. What’s disappointing is that, for many seasons, we saw Barney slowly transform from a disgusting, womanizing person to one who can commit to a relationship. And after all that (plus a vow to Robin saying he’ll never lie to her again), their romance gets derailed by Robin’s profession as an international news reporter?

For a divorce between two emotionally unstable, yet completely right-for-each-other people, their end was incredibly anti-climactic.

Marshall and Lily make plans to move into a bigger home now that they are expecting third child, and Marshall gets another call to become a judge, cementing the fact that their story throughout the entire series was the least depressing. This was probably the only part of the finale that made sense, much like their entire relationship over the course of the show.

What’s upsetting is that the entire series, which took millions of viewers on a journey of laughter and borderline emotional turmoil for nearly a decade, was essentially just a ploy to get Robin back. Ted meets the woman of his dreams, has children, and his beautiful wife dies, but he’s still hung up on Robin?

The disaster here is one of “character trueness,” which is a term I just made up five seconds ago: Mosby spent the entire series making us believe that he was a die-hard romantic who would do anything to find the perfect woman. Then he finds her. Then she dies. And after all that, he goes back to another woman who couldn’t keep her own marriage going? This is not the Ted Mosby we’ve all come to know and love.

The writers could have done so much more with the ending. For instance, when it’s revealed that Barney’s going to be a father, it would have been great for the mother to be Robin. And Ted could have been telling the story about their mother to his kids for a sweeter reason, rather than just getting their permission to chase Robin…again.

Make the series finale totally awesome? Seems like it was challenge not accepted.

Permalink: http://sundial.csun.edu/2014/03/pack-up-the-yellow-umbrella-kids-how-i-met-your-mother-says-goodbye/

Not all condoms are created equal

After a romantic dinner and a hand-in-hand walk down the beach, you and your date are back home and things are getting steamy. Right before the moment of truth, you reach into your pocket and pull out your protection: a condom. All systems go.

But for those who either have never used a condom during sex or have never had to buy one themselves, the choice on which type is best can be daunting. Condoms come in enough different shapes, sizes and colors to confuse even the most promiscuous Don Juan.

Here are five kinds of condoms, rated on a scale of 1-5 (Rubber Rating), which could help you make the right choice for you and your partner.

Trojan Classic

There are three words every man wants to hear when it comes to managing his manhood: reliable, comfortable and solid. A classic choice, the garden-variety Trojan is simple, yet effective. It’s sturdy enough not to break and there is minimal slippage. The only gripe about these is they are a little on the thick side, leaving it less pleasurable for the wearer. Opting for the spermicide-coated version could leave your hands smelling pretty funky and partners won’t want that stuff anywhere near their mouths. Still, for those who are looking to make their first condom-buying experience a positive one, you can never go wrong with a classic.

Durability: 4

Pleasure: 2.5

Package opening time: 1-3 seconds

Overall Rubber Rating: 4

Trojan Her Pleasure

The name says it all. These condoms were made for achieving the big O. With two different areas of ribbing, this condom will have your partner wondering when you became such a stud in the sack. When you put it on, it looks like the condom doesn’t fit because there is some extra material in the top-half, but little does your lover know that this is what is going to make their toes curl for the latter half of the night.

Durability: 5

Pleasure: 3

Package opening time: 1-3 seconds

Overall Rubber Rating: 4.5

Lifestyle

You get what you pay for. These babies can be found on the way out of your friendly neighborhood women’s clinic and at our beloved Klotz Health Center on campus — for free.

But don’t let the easy access fool you. This brand of condoms are by far the worst form of “protection” for any couple. They slip off often and break easier than an iPhone screen after a date with the pavement. When you can’t have a decent night of sex without worrying about a trip to Planned Parenthood the next morning for a quick hit of Plan B and penicillin, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your lifestyle.

Durability: .5

Pleasure: 2

Package opening time: 3-10 seconds

Overall Rubber Rating: 1

Durex

Slightly more durable and just as easy to obtain, these condoms are the slightly hotter cousin of Lifestyles. Much like Trojans, Durex condoms come in different styles and varieties, which makes them more consumer-friendly than the aforementioned red-wrapped disasters. But wearing them is a slippery slope, as they too can come off easily with even the tamest of kinky nights. However, they hardly break.

Durability: 3.5

Pleasure: 3

Package Opening time: 3-7 seconds

Overall Rubber Rating: 3

Trojan Ultra Thin

Made to feel like you’re doing the deed without a condom (even though you are), these condoms definitely feel the best for the one wearing a latex hat on his Johnson. The thinner design also means more pleasure for the partner. However, less is not always more. These condoms are so thin that they’re prone to slipping. However, true to the Trojan brand, they are not in danger of regular breakage.

Durability: 3.5

Pleasure. 3.5

Package Opening time: 1-3 seconds

Overall Rubber Rating: 3.5

Remember, lube is your friend

Usually associated with dry nether regions, lube can serve as a useful tool in any couple’s bedroom bonanza. A drop of lube in a condom adds another level of pleasure for men during sex, and adding lube into the mix reduces friction, thus reducing the chance of a broken condom and a ruined evening. Arousing lubes, such as KY’s Warming Jelly or their Yours & Mine Couples jelly, provide a warm zing that can get partners tingling. Desensitizing lube is another option for men who want stay in the game longer than usual.

When choosing a lube, it’s important for couples to know what they want — water, silicone or oil. Water-based lubes tend to be free of chemicals and easy to clean up, but require more applications during sex. They’re also great when paired with toys. If partners are looking for a lube that’s one application only, silicone is their answer. Silicone should  never be used with toys, due to silicone-on-silicone chemical reactions. Due to its sticky base, silicone lubes tend to stay on longer, but are a lot harder to wash off of bedding – so beware of stains, and stay off the couch with this one. Finally, oil based lubes such as vaseline, are thicker and not to be used with condoms, as they break down the latex. This method is best for handsy couples.

It’s important for partners to test the jellies on sensitive areas of the skin in order to avoid an unsexy infection. And as with any sexual act, it’s important to know what your partner wants.

Taylor Villescas wrote section on lube. 

Permalink: http://sundial.csun.edu/2014/02/not-all-condoms-are-created-equally/

New executive director announced for Valley Performing Arts Center

A new executive director was named for the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC), Harry Hellenbrand, provost and vice president for academic affairs, announced Wednesday.

Thor Steingraber, former vice president of programming at The Music Center in downtown Los Angeles, said he was pleased and looking forward to the opportunity.

“The plans that are in my mind currently include broadening the array of programs at the facility, incorporating the students, faculty and also the local community in Northridge and San Fernando Valley to the maximum extent possible,” Steingraber said.

Steingraber also said he wants to honor the previous successes of the VPAC.

Steve Thachuk, interim director of the VPAC, said Steingraber will be great at helping to connect with the community.

“This was an extensive search,” Thachuk said of the process of finding a new executive director. “Of all the candidates, what impressed me most was he has deep artistic background and rich administrative background, which makes him perfect for the job.”

Since 1997, Steingraber has held various positions as a stage director and assistant director at many international venues, opera houses and festivals.

Steingraber wants to make events at the VPAC more tailored to students.

“I look forward to working with students to bring to the venue performances and events that they’re interested in and more generally integrating the performing arts with campus life and vice versa, the campus community with the Performing Arts Center,” Steingraber said.

Permalink: http://sundial.csun.edu/2014/01/new-executive-director-announced-for-vpac/