When the ancient Polynesians invented surfing, they often used a paddle to help them navigate. Fast-forward a few millennia, and Stand-Up Paddleboarding, or SUP, finds itself trendy again. Part of its increasing popularity is that standing upright allows surfers to spot waves more easily and thus catch more of them, multiplying the fun factor. Paddling back to the wave becomes less of a strain as well. The ability to cruise along on flat inland water, surveying the sights, is another advantage. Finally, its a good core workout. If youre sold on the idea, schedule an intro SUP lesson, free with board and paddle rental, and you may find yourself riding the waves like a Polynesian king.More
In the past 30 years, light artists have reimagined an art form that has always had the ability to turn the night sky, or a simple window, into luminescence. Last fall, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts turned its southern glass wall into a parade of sound-sensing lights, Lightswarm, that changes with the movements of nearby people and things. Future Cities Lab, the San Francisco design company behind Lightswarm, has originated another notable light sculpture. Located by the YBCA's steps at 701 Mission, Murmur Wall will light up in arresting ways as it incorporates local trending search engine results and social media postings. Onlookers can offer their own contributions, which will feed into the Murmur Wall's data stream and light up the sculpture. What's trending in San Francisco? If you're walking by the YBCA, you can see firsthand — at least through light patterns that reflect the city's volatile internet habits.
Murmur Wall debuts Thursday at 6 p.m. and continues through May 31, 2017, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., S.F. Free; 415-978-2700 or ybca.org. More
Ben Greenman, the novelist, New Yorker editor, and satirist responsible for 2001's McLovin-less short story collection, Superbad, has alternated between arch humor and bluntly affecting short stories over the course of his career. Greenman takes the latter approach with his latest book, What He's Poised to Do, which he discusses tonight with Oscar Villalon. The collection is an extension of Correspondences, a 2008 project that collected Greenman's dispatches from disintegrating relationships in a letterpress accordion-bound art book. Despite his reputation for scabrous cultural satire for the New Yorker and McSweeney's, his tone in Correspondences and What He's Poised to Do is generous and empathetic. He captures relationships both romantic and platonic, in various states of breakdown, the characters baffled by their predicaments. Whether examining a business traveler grasping for connection in a nondescript hotel or a broken family escaping to a moon colony in hopes of a second chance, Greenman is concerned with people reaching for meaning or connections, adrift in situations that defy understanding. The collection reads as a bittersweet complement to his 2007 work, A Circle Is a Balloon and Compass Both: Stories About Human Love. While these are compassionate portrayals of characters unable to navigate the landscapes of their emotional worlds, Greenman's light wit and deft touch keeps the stories moving, even when the characters themselves are unable or unwilling to.
Thu., June 24, 7 p.m., 2010