Category Archives: Good Times Weekly

Photo Credit: Soif Wine Bar

Sweet Treats in Santa Cruz

While Santa Cruz is quite a health-conscious community, the city has their fair share of tempting sweet treats. From ice cream and cookies to crepes and even chocolate-covered bacon, the options are plentiful for when that sweet tooth strikes. Tickle your taste buds with our picks for top sweet treats and desserts in Santa Cruz.
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Arctic Surfing, Norway © Chris Burkard

Things to do in September in Santa Cruz

Among the innumerable things to do in Santa Cruz in September are dozens of cultural, food and nature festivals, plays and concerts. As summer winds to an end, it’s prime time to head outdoors to soak up those last days of sunshine. If you’re looking for events and activities in Santa Cruz in September, our favorites below will be sure to heat up your social calendar.

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Good Times Weekly Best of 2011


A local spot for frozen treats since 1958, Marianne’s has a stock of more than 70 flavors at any given time. Unique flavors include, but are not limited to, licorice, garlic and the 1020, a mouthwatering combination of caramel ice cream with fudge swirls and Oreos. If you do not enjoy taking a walk on the wild side, they offer the classic flavors of vanilla and chocolate, as well. Thing To Know: Some popular matches include the Macapuno, a coconut ice cream, and the pineapple ice cream to create an alcohol-free Pina Colada; the Mexican chocolate flavor with the horchata for a taste trip south of the border; and mix the lychee and green tea flavors for an Asian-inspired treat. | Christina Kharbertyan

Pizza My Heart

Regular pepperoni pizzas get boring after a while and Pizza My Heart comes to the rescue with unique flavors and toppings, a refreshing change to the mundane. Their award-winning pizzas are topped with tasty ingredients such as organic tomato sauce, Portobello mushrooms, ricotta cheese, artichokes, and even apples. Pizza My Heart has many vegetarian options for the eco- and health conscious consumer with toppings so delicious, the meat is not missed. Thing To Know: The pizzas here bear names from classic Santa Cruz landmarks such as Depot Hill with sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, and chicken; Natural Bridges with pesto, ricotta and Roma tomatoes, but without any red sauce; and 38th Avenue Special with spinach, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes & feta cheese. | CK

Felix Kulpa Gallery

Home to your favorite art exhibits, Felix Kulpa Gallery features unique pieces such as ceramic sculptures and abstract paintings. The entrance of the gallery houses astounding sculptures in metals, rock and water. A permanent fixture of the gallery is the collection of fascinating guitars fashioned from skateboards, vacuums and shovels. Thing To Know: Many events are held in the gallery such as poetry readings and exhibition openings. The current exhibit is ceramic sculptures from the studio of Coeleen Kiebert. Artists including Peggy Snider, Sharon Bosley and Kathleen Pouls will be showcasing their work along with a few others. The exhibit deputed on a First Friday, the city’s effort to make Santa Cruz art culture more accessible to all residents. All of the sculptures revolve around a common theme and the title of the exhibit, One’s Own Voice. Each piece focuses on translating the artist’s personal imagery and manners of self expression into artwork made of clay. 107 Elm St., Santa Cruz, (408) 373-2854, | Christina Kharbertyan

Loose Cannon Theater

A divergence from the typical dinner and a movie night, seeing an improvisation show entices laughter while releasing feel-good hormones. Loose Cannon Theater has perfected the improv show by creating unique characters, exciting actions, hilarious dialogue, sensational sound effects and original songs spontaneously. Dixie Cox and Clifford Henderson founded the Fun Institute in 1997, which is stationed at the Broadway Playhouse. The troupe provides entertaining shows like their most recent Night Falls which cajoled a never ending amount of laughter and fun, helping to relieve stress and improve moods. The Fun Institute spreads laughter by teaching regular people how to improvise and become funny. Upcoming workshops include a weekend workshop at the Esalen Institute at Big Sur which focuses on teaching its adult students to break out of their narrow-minded “adult” thinking and stretch their sense of self through play and improvisation. Participants will have the chance to break out of their daily routine and try on bigger than life personas and other improv exercises. Thing To Know: Check its Facebook page for updates on upcoming events. | CK

Toadal Fitness

If the French-speaking staff does not give you an incentive to stay and workout, the many enthralling classes will. With five locations in Santa Cruz county, everyone has easy access to a Toadal Fitness gym. Some classes that are offered at Toadal Fitness that are not available at other gyms are Superman, steps, Kick Boe, and Toadal Cross Training. Not only does the gym provide a place for members to exercise, it also helps them lose weight faster by composing eating and meal plans for those who sign up. Thing To Know: All types of memberships are rewarded with free training orientations, which affords them a two-hour training session with one of the personal trainers. | Christina Kharbertyan

Garth Taylor

Garth Taylor’s favorite part of being a Jiu Jitsu instructor is “being able to share the beautiful art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with people.” Taylor has been teaching students for many years, ever since he was at the blue belt level. A seasoned fighter, he has been doing Jiu Jitsu for 16 years and has been a black belt for 10. His most well-known achievements are his title of Black Belt Masters/Seniors World Champion and his fights in Abu Dhabi, a mixed martial arts competition in the United Arab Emirates. The only time he visited Abu Dhabi for a competition in 1999, he won first place. Thing To Know: The reason why he enjoys competing is because “Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a mentally and physically demanding sport.”  | CK

Cabrillo College

An extensive class list and affordability make Cabrillo popular in GT’s readers poll. Anyone wanting to expand their horizons can partake in one of many foreign language, horticulture, dance or welding classes. A major multi-million facelift and the new additions to the campus, including the sleek Crocker Theater, certainly make Cabrillo stand out. Thing To Know: Cabrillo’s Corporate Training and “Leadership Academy” have been receiving great attention. | Christina Kharbertyan

Santa Cruz Waves

At first glace, the site seems to be made by wave riders for wave riders, but upon closer inspection, it’s much more. Thing To Know: The masterminds behind this are Tyler, a long-time surfer; Shawn Hatjes, a photographer and photojournalist; Eliza Cole, a journalism and philosophy student; and Bradley King who is passionate about travel, food and art. | CK

Gotta Be Green: Greenspace Shows Us How

With 4,000 square feet of space, Greenspace Company is filled to the brim with every green product imaginable to decorate, improve and maintain a home. There is everything from cleaning products, paints, and office supplies to gifts, bedding, and baby products. Thing to know: the staff at Greenspace prescreens all of its products before they hit the shelves to ensure that the item is eco-friendly. GT connected with owner, manager and creator Lydia Corser to discover the Top Seven green products we need to use right now.

Organic Cotton Linens
Using organic cotton sheets, pillowcases and comforters will allow you to sleep well at night knowing that your bedding is produced in a way that replenishes and maintains soil fertility, reduces the use of pesticides, and builds biologically diverse agriculture. Purchasing organic linens helps increase demand, keeps field workers safer, and significantly lessens the amount of toxic chemicals poisoning water, air, land, and wildlife. Although they cost more, they are made of higher quality materials and last longer than conventionally-made sheets.

Thermal Cup
In addition to carrying reusable water bottles, thermal cups should be used to reduce waste build-up in landfills. Thermal cups keep coffee and tea hot for up to 4 to 6 hours.  As Corser states, “It doesn’t make sense to use a cup for the few minutes it takes to consume these beverages and then throw it away.” By using thermal cups, we can enjoy our delicious beverages for a longer period of time without cluttering the earth we live on.

Bamboo Spork
For the same cost as a morning cup of coffee, a bamboo spork (a utensil of spoon and fork) is an inexpensive and easy way to reduce the amount of plastic spoons and forks that pile up in the world. Corser says that bamboo sporks are a necessary investment so “you never have to use another plastic, disposable or supposedly biodegradable spoon or fork again.” Other eco-friendly household products include special occasion dishware made of 100 percent recycled glass and napkins, and aprons made of hemp.

Natural Linoleum
The vinyl flooring industry has skewed the term for linoleum to mean plastic vinyl flooring—that can be found in many bathrooms and kitchens. Natural linoleum is the real product and is made from linseed oil, where linoleum gets its name, in addition to cork and wood flour, mineral pigments, and jute backing. Natural linoleum can be used in homes and businesses, lasts longer than vinyl, is inexpensive, and is available in an array of colors and patterns. Compared to other types of flooring, the performance of natural linoleum improves over time because exposure to air makes it harder and more durable.

VOC-free Paints
Paints which make a room smell like chemicals for the first few days are full of VOC, or volatile organic compounds. VOCs are known carcinogens that are emitted as gas from certain solids and liquids such as paint, permanent markers, and glue. The products at Green Space Company are colored with only non-toxic and VOC-free paints. Paints that are free of VOC cost the same as conventional paint from mainstream brands and look just as great, or even better.

Cork and Bamboo Flooring
To keep floors eco-friendly, a redecorator should use cork or bamboo flooring because these materials are sustainably harvested, renewable and recyclable. Cork floors are comfortable to walk on and are ideal for homes with children because they are soft and resilient, resistant to fire, insects and moisture and are able to dampen sound. Bamboo is also a great material for floors and the environment because it is grown without pesticides and herbicides.

Indoor Composter
Anyone who has ever tried to compost kitchen waste for their home garden knows that the process is odorous and complicated. Indoor composters make composting easy and fun. By removing composting restrictions and allowing meats, cheeses and other previously non-compostable products to be included, indoor composters take out the guesswork for beginners and simply make the job easier. Christina Kharbertyan

Embrace the Santa Cruz Challenge

challenge“Start with Yourself,” is the motto created by local LeTa Jussila and it encourages concentration on one’s own health before helping others. In a country filled with citizens who are overweight and stressed out, Jussila is hoping to help the country become healthy physically, mentally and spiritually with the Santa Cruz Challenge. According to Jussila, change needs to “start local if you want to create a ripple effect.” Keeping that in mind, beginning on March 7, participants will have the opportunity to visit various fitness studios around town and attend seminars to learn how to improve their diets, relationships, and their lives as a whole.

Every week, locals can engage in different challenges: one to enhance their physical health and another to better other parts of their life such as their finances, their actions to help the environment, and their relationships. Weekly fitness themes include yoga, martial arts, dance and spinning. By offering many different types of exercise, Jussila hopes to “match people up with things that excite them.” Unlike other fitness competitions, the Challenge urges participants to focus on improving every part of their lives rather than just their bodies.

The seminars each week are one-hour long and help contestants achieve overall health—because … when a person’s finances or relationships are disordered, for instance, it affects their mental and physical health, as well. One of the seminars dealing with improving relationships is led by Rev. Deborah Johnson, the founder of the omni faith institution, Inner Light Ministries. John Amaral, a prominent energy healer whose work in the field of Network Spinal Analysis, will also host a seminar on how to reduce stress through increased consciousness and breath work.

The challenge can unravel in one of two ways. Participants can choose the measurable option in which they take a fitness and endurance test and have their body composition evaluated using BioImpedance Analysis. After 12 weeks of exercise, participants are re-evaluated and the one with the greatest percentage of improvement wins the grand prize of $2,000. Runners up receive a surfboard, a bicycle, and a Santa Cruz weekend staycation at the Dream Inn.

In the second option, contestants gain points by exercising, eating healthy and participating in weekly events. Although this option is still challenging, participants will not qualify for the major prizes. Instead, they can win massages and acupuncture treatments, Feng Shui services in their homes, and spa visits.

The holistic methods used in the course of the Challenge stem from Jussila’s background in Chinese Medicine. Jussila, who was born during the Vietnam War, found comfort and inspiration amidst the beauty of Santa Cruz when she moved to the city a decade ago to work toward her master’s degree in Chinese medicine from Five Branches University. While residing in the picturesque town, she became struck with the idea that, “We all want to live in a place where people make good choices.” From this seed that was planted grew a movement to encourage complete health and create long-lasting lifestyle changes. |  Christina Kharbertyan

Night of the Alien Film Review



In true Santa Cruz fashion, the movie, Night of the Alien, playing at the Santa Cruz Film Festival, revolves around themes of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, not to mention the psychedelic and supernatural. The movie was written and directed by Vaughn Verdi and co-produced by Pia Helm, who grew up in Santa Cruz. Night of the Alien is a micro-budget film about a mind-bending compilation of strange occurrences all in an effort to save the world.

A mash-up of many different cinematic genres, Helm claims the movie was once described by Verdi as, “The Hangover meets Starman somewhere in the Twilight Zone.” It goes like this: A group of stoners and pill-poppers are convinced by a hitchhiking alien from the planet Zoltran to go on a mission to save Earth by creating a band to win American Idol. Throughout the film, the characters are constantly high or drugged out, begging the question: Is all the action in the movie a consequence of their hallucinations or is it a reality?

The quasi-schizophrenic plot may take a second or third viewing to fully understand and will make you wonder if you are, in fact, the one that is high. The “magical crew” is composed of actors who worked on the film without pay and portray a wide array of characters. From the main character, The Lord of Evil and Darkness, played by Scott C. Leeds, a Johnny Depp doppelganger, who is never sober throughout the film, to the silver clad, amulet wearing, drumming alien who wants to save Earth, your mind will be swimming as the story takes you through the deserts of Southern California and into the Vortex of Destiny. In all senses of the phrase, “It’s a trip,” and the creators intended it to be that way.

The non-linear plot is “completely out of the box” and goes along the lines of Quentin Tarantino. Fran, an aspiring singer, is completely dependent on her father for money and she wants a pet that is easy to take care of. On her way to pick up a fish tank with her best friend, The Lord of Evil and Darkness, they stop to pick up a hitchhiker claiming to be an alien. She reveals to them that they must form a band, since Fran is a singer and The Lord of Evil and Darkness used to be a guitarist.

Along the way, they meet many unscrupulous characters such as an effeminate drug lord who threatens to shoot all who cannot answer the question, “Who is the 24th president of the United States?”; a medieval reenactment battler who gives out prescription drugs; an heir of a huge sum of money who is obsessed with conspiracy theories and has dreams of creating a porn empire; not to mention Helm’s favorites, King Taco, a stoner security guard who plays bass guitar, and Danny, a mentally challenged window washer who finds clarity only when on drugs. The lives of these complicated individuals intertwine in an attempt to save the world from imminent destruction.

Shooting of the film began in December 2009 and the film was not completed until March of this year. With all the work she put into making the film a success, from scheduling to props to sending the film to multiple film festivals in hopes of being accepted, Helm admits that the film was really a “labor of love.” A graduate from San Francisco State University with a TV production degree and having worked as a manager of a video store for five years, Helm has always had a passion for the television and film business. She truly got her start when moving to Los Angeles and meeting fiancé and co-producer of Night of the Alien, Rob Howeth. Due to all of her efforts, Helm hopes that “people go out and see it. There’s a lot to be got from it. It’s refreshing and something they’ve never seen before.”

The local motto, “Keep Santa Cruz Weird,” is perfectly exemplified in this film and fits in among the many unique residents. Helm is “thrilled to have Night of the Alien shown in Santa Cruz. It feels cool and surreal” because the Rio Theater is where she saw E.T. with her grandparents as a child. Everyone in Santa Cruz who watches Night of the Alien will be able to relate to the funky, psychedelic vibe of the characters and plot because they closely resemble the aura of our own small town. Although the end of the movie poses many questions, Helm hopes that after viewing the film, audience members will discuss and interpret the movie over a cup of java in a coffee shop.