Thursday, July 28, 2011


En garde! Prepare for serious roistering in The Three Musketeers, the second production of Shakespeare Santa Cruz's 30th Anniversary season. Adapted from Alexandre Dumas' evergreen swashbuckling classic, it's beautifully staged by director Art Manke outdoors in the Sinsheimer-Stanley Festival Glen. In this dynamic production, plots are hatched, troths are plighted, honor is impugned and defended, wars are fought, and swords are crossed at every opportunity. If it all feels a bit breathless, it's still rousing good fun.

Dumas' picaresque novel was first published in serial format in 1844. This new adaptation by playwrights Linda Alper, Douglas Langworthy, and Penny Metropulos (commissioned for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1999) is impressive in its fidelity to the breadth of Dumas' novel. Plot-furthering climaxes chase each other across the stage at breakneck speed. Manke keeps the action fleet and fluid, in and out of the many compartments, balconies, terraces, draperies, and stairwells of Michael Ganio's formidable set. Some incidents feel rushed, but it's worth noting that director Richard Lester needed two feature-length films to tell the same story this adaptation covers in a fast couple of hours.

The story is set in 1620s France. D'Artagnan (Leigh Nichols Miller), a gauche and earnest youth from provincial Gascony, arrives in Paris hoping to join the king's elite guard of Musketeers. On the way, in a single morning, he manages to insult three of the most famed Musketeers, each of whom calls him out for a duel: vain popinjay Porthos (Kit Wilder), noble, philosophical Athos (Allen Gilmore), and chivalrous romantic Aramis (J. Todd Adams). (Read more)


Longtime local theatergoers may remember Danny Scheie's original staging of The Comedy of Errors as possibly the single funniest production ever mounted at Shakespeare Santa Cruz. Premiered in the 1988 season and encored in 1993, it made full use of the outdoor Festival Glen, including a bicycle-built-for-four that came roaring down the hillside, and a massive upstage wall with Laugh-In style open-and-shut windows that turned Shakespeare's frolicsome early comedy about two sets of twins, mistaken identities, and male-female relations into a literal slamming-door farce.

In celebration of SSC's 30th Anniversary season, Scheie returns with a lively reboot of The Comedy of Errors. Although scaled back for the indoor Mainstage with John Iacovelli's single, functional wall and a couple of chairs for a set, and eight intrepid performers handling some 20 speaking parts, this Comedy retains all of the laughs. Indeed, the smaller venue adds a whole extra layer of laughs when we can see all the actors' facial expressions, while giving Scheie the chance to further hone his brilliant idea of a somewhat seedy troupe of traveling players putting on a show for "the rubes."

Terrific SSC stalwarts Mike Ryan and Brad DePlanche play dual roles as two sets of twins—the traveler, Antipholus of Syracuse, and his manservant, Dromio, who wreak havoc in Ephesus when they're mistaken for their local counterparts, twin brothers from whom both were separated in infancy. (Read more)

(Above: Jonathan Shue, Mike Ryan and Brad DePlanche. Photo by rr jones.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


You say you have the next Great American Novel (or the next non-fiction bestseller) burning a hole in your software? Wouldn't you give absolutely anything for one minute in which to pitch your brilliant book idea to a publishing industry insider?

Well now's your chance, when the renowned speed-dating-for-writers event known as"Pitchapalooza" comes to our own Bookshop Santa Cruz. The dynamic duo officially known as The Book Doctors (Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry), authors of the how-to Bible "The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published" will appear live at this book event this Thursday, July 28, with "an all-star panel of publishing experts" ready and willing to hear your 60-second pitch on why your book is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Whoever is judged to have the best pitch wins an introduction to an appropriate publishing industry honcho (agent or editor). In addition, anyone who buys a copy of the Eckstut/Sterry book gets a free consultation (worth $100).

Here's a note to starry-eyed newbie authors. Your time is short: don't waste it attempting to compare your book to other bestsellers, or, conversely, explain why your book is superior to Book A or Book B in your genre. (Chances are someone on that panel of experts sold or edited Book A or Book B; you never know.) Instead, come up with a couple of killer sentences (or plot points, or "hooks") that position yours as the best book idea ever, and convey the flavor of your writing. If your book is funny, make 'em laugh. If your book is a thriller, give 'em goosebumps. Show, don't tell. You only have one minute. Make every syllable count!

(No ticket or pre-registration is necessary, but be warned: depending on the size of the crowd, pitch-time may be awarded on a lottery basis.)

"Pitchapalooza" hits BSC Thursday, July 28, 7:30 pm. For more info visit the BSC website, or call 423-0900.

(Above: What would Shakespeare pitch? Joseph Fiennes in Shakespeare In Love.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Next to pirates and Robin Hood, one of my absolute favorite swashbuckling properties is The Three Musketeers. I just about went nuts when I heard that Shakespeare Santa Cruz will be mounting a live-acton production of the Akexandre Dumas classic this summer—outdoors in the Redwood Glen, yet! Consider the possibilities for dueling, romance, and general rollicking. I can't wait!

The show opens this Saturday, but in the meantime, let's get in the mood by revisiting some previous incarnations of this durable tale. First and best, of course, is the book, which I devoured in college about the time the Richard Lester movie came out (see below). Written in 1844 and originally published as a magazine serial, the novel is set in the court of Louis XIII. The exploits of the upstart young Gascon, D'Artagnan, and his initiation into the ranks of the King's Musketeers explode across the page with swordplay, wit, honor, pathos, hairsbreadth escapes, illicit trysts, and excellent food and wine (as only a Frenchman could describe them). For all its dramatic and tragic plotlines, it's also a very funny book, highly recommended.

For my money, the adaptation that most closely captures the joie de vivre of the original is Richard Lester's 1974 film, The Three Musketeers. It's a delirious take on Dumas, bursting with fabulous costumes, excellent swordfighting, kinetic slapstick comedy (don't forget, Lester directed the first two Beatles movies), and buoyant camaraderie. Michael York makes a stalwart D'Artagnan, and the great Oliver Reed is a brooding Athos; Richard Chamberlain, at his prettiest, is the romantic Aramis, and Frank Finlay provides comic relief as fussy epicure Porthos. Raquel Welch proves herself an adept comedienne as Constance, the queen's lady-in-waiting (and D'Artagnan's beloved), who involves the swordsmen in palace intrigue. Charlton Heston and Faye Dunaway are terrific villains as scheming Cardinal Richelieu and his accomplice, Milady De Winter.

(A so-called sequel, The Four Musketeers, came out in 1975, but both were shot together, intended to be a single film. When the running time soared to three hours, the footage was chopped into two films, but watch both films together to get Dumas' whole story.)

It's not a singing-dancing role, but Gene Kelly in his prime makes an impossibly athletic, charmingly naive, and thoroughly stout-hearted D'Artagnan in the lavish, 1948 MGM version of The Three Musketeers. All-American June Allyson, however, is severely miscast as Constance (just look at her '40s page-boy hair-do!), and Ven Heflin, Robert Coote and an embryonic Gig Young play the Musketeers with varying degrees of success.

But Lana Turner is an interesting femme fatale as Milady DeWinter, and Vincent Price makes a fine and ruthless Cardinal Richelieu. Well worth seeing for its rich Technicolor cinematography and Kelly's outrageous acrobatics.

In The Man In the Iron Mask (1998), it's a great treat to see savvy screen veterans Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Gerard Depardieu, and Gabriel Byrne as Aramis, Athos, Porthos and D'Artagnan in the autumn of their lives. Leonardo DiCaprio is fun too, in the dual role of bratty young King Louis XIV and his mysterious, noble-hearted double, the masked prisoner who becomes the catalyst for the aging Musketeers' last adventure together. Writer-director Randall Wallace (Braveheart) overdoes the comic buffoonery a bit, but he constructs his story with economy and care, and the finale packs an emotional touché. Byrne is wonderful as a haunted and poignant D'Artagnan, but the entire terrific ensemble brings these familiar characters exuberantly to life in this rich adaptation of the last of Dumas' three Musketeer novels.

I'm also looking forward to a new version of The Three Musketeers due onscreen this coming October. Logan Lerman seems a bit young, even for D'Artagnan, but I love the idea of Matthew Macfadyen (Darcy in the most recent Pride and Prejudice) as Athos, and Luke Evans (the sexy handyman in Tamara Drewe) as Aramis. Not to mention the deliciously sinister Christoph Waltz as Richelieu.

This is not a comprehensive list, by any means. The less said about Peter Hyams' 2001 The Musketeer, the better, with its unfortunate attempt to graft trendy Hong Kong action-style stunts onto a western swashbuckler, and its ineffectual puppy of a DArtagnan (Justin Chambers). I opted out of ever watching the 1939 Three Musketeers starring (shudder) Don Ameche and the Ritz Brothers. Ditto the 1993 update with Chris O'Donnell, Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, and Oliver Platt. (Young Swords, anyone?) (Although I have heard good report of Tim Curry as Cardinal Richelieu.) Barbie and the Three Musketeers? Oh, please.

But I must admit, I'm curious about the 1939 version of The Man in the Iron Mask directed by that great moody stylist, James Whale (Frankenstein). I'll try to catch up with it one of these days, and let you know.

Meanwhile, sharpen your blades and cock your hats, and I'll see you in the Glen!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


As the beloved Professor Dumbledore tells Harry Potter during their brief encounter in limbo in the final chapter of the film franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, "Of course this is all happening in your head! But that doesn't mean it's not real."

For 14 years, the Harry Potter universe has been utterly real to its worldwide legion of fans as it plays out in the heads of J. K. Rowling's readers (and, to a lesser extent, onscreen)—especially the generation of kids who grew up with the books. It is first and foremost an irresistible world of magical fancy, where young wizards and witches-in-training can blossom in the secure, loving environment of Hogwarts School, while hanging out with an eccentric cast of giants, elves, centaurs, dragons, and comical ghosts.

But as Rowling's book series progressed, Harry's world began to reflect our "real" world in wry, but often unsettling ways. Her magical world became infested with corrupt politicians, tyrannical petty bureaucrats, amoral bankers and tabloid journalists, ineffectual leaders, evil racist hate groups, and factions warring for power. It became a place, much like our own, where the people you love might be flawed and imperfect, and the people you hate may be more sympathetic, noble-hearted and courageous than you can ever know. Above all, it became a place where people of conscience—at any age—might have to face the challenge of giving up their comforts, or pleasures, or possibly even their lives, for the good of the community.

With series veterans David Yates (directing his fourth Potter film) and Steve Kloves (screenwriter on all but one of the films) at the helm, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 does its damnedest to honor all of these subtexts. And considering the enormity of the task, they fare surprisingly well, serving up one of the most thrilling, yet elegiac films in the series. It's not a complete success (fans of the book always despair over characters and subplots left out), but a conscientious mix of action, humor, and emotional backstory will leave most Potter fans fulfilled.

Yates doesn't waste a single frame on explication. Even before the Warner Bros. logo appears, we see evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) steal the powerul Elder Wand—which he believes will make him invincible—from the tomb of deceased headmaster Dumbledore. Then it's back to the seashore, where Dobby, the noble house elf, was buried at the end of DH Part 1. With a brief pit stop to hear the wand maker, Olivander (John Hurt) explain that a wand can switch its allegiance and choose which wizard to follow, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson), and Ron (Rupert Grint) are off to find and destroy the last of the Horcruxes where Voldemort has hidden bits of his rotting soul to keep himself alive.

Obviously, none but a rabid Potter fan will have a clue what's going on, so if you've never seen a Potter movie before, don't start with this one. But the initiated will adore the wild thrill ride into the underground vaults beneath Gringott's, the goblin bank, and the trio's escape via a giant albino dragon guard, too long shut away from the sun; they break his bonds and ride his spiny back out again on his flight to freedom. Their return to Hogwarts is exhilarating too, even though it's become a gloomy place, surrounded by death-breathing, wraithlike Dementors, with Harry's nemesis, the officious Snape (Alan Rickman) the new headmaster.

Once Harry and the gang are smuggled in, followed by what's left of the resistance army, the Order of the Phoenix, a ferocious professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) puts Snape to flight and takes charge of the school. All the usual suspects are assembled, and even though some have only a line or two of dialogue, it's good to see them all again: crusading Hogwarts students Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright), Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), and the rest, along with Order stalwarts Lupin (David Thewlis), Tonks (Natalia Tena), Mr. and Mrs. Weasley (Mark Williams and Julie Walters), and the Weasley twins (James and Oliver Phelps). The stage is set for the final showdown between Harry and Voldemort, to fulfill the prophecy that neither can continue to live as long as the other survives.

When the Hogwartians reject Voldemort's ultimatum to send out Harry or face the consequences, the battle begins; Voldemort (imbued by Fiennes with a creepy, dusty laugh like splintering twigs) and his evil minions march on the school and the night sky is ablaze with dueling curses and fireballs. This is as tedious as most fantasy film battle sequences; the action is often confusing, and there's little time to mourn the characters lost.

But the redemption of Snape, is beautifully handled. In Dumbledore's Pensieve (a device for looking into the past), Harry finally sees Snapes' life story, from wretched boy to betrayed adult, and the unshakeable devotion from which Snape never swerved that bound his life to Harry's. There's no time for Yates to go into as much depth as Rowling did. (In fact, the story of the previous generation—Harry's parents, Lily and James Potter, and Snape, Lupin and Sirius Black—has always gotten regrettably short shrift in the films). But this moving montage of Snape's backstory, threaded into little Harry's backstory (from previous films) brought me closer to tears than any other sequence throughout the series.

One great pleasure of the series, in addition to watching Harry evolve from fledgling "boy wizard" to compassionate hero, has been the emergence of Daniel Radcliffe from cute little kid into an assured young actor of considerable presence. That he can hold the center of a movie so crowded with activity (among so many scene-stealing veterans, like Rickman, Smith, and Helena Bonham-Carter's giggling psycho Bellatrix LeStrange) is a testament to his focus and quiet intensity. He laces Harry's decision to sacrifice himself to save his friends with a heartbreaking mix of trepidation and resolve. His subsequent interlude in limbo with Dumbledore (the irrespressible Michael Gambon), a buoyant moment of affection, humor and solidarity, is a welcome breather for the audience before Harry dives back into the story for the duel with Voldemort that has been his destiny since Book One.

The upside to cutting out all those subplots and backstories is that Yates and Kloves are able to focus and streamline the narrative of this final act, while sticking to the essentials of Rowling's theme: that love, friendship, and loyalty are greater than any other power, magical or otherwise. Deathly Hallows 2 delivers this message with affecting grace and heart.

But, hey, I'd still line up for a movie about Lily and James and Snape. Not to mention the untold story of James, Lupin and Sirius, their shapeshifting pact, and the origin of the Marauder's Map. Rowling has already written it. Hollywood, are you listening?

Thursday, July 14, 2011


The winning streak continues at Cabrillo Stage with its new production of "The Last Five Years," the second offering in the company's 30th Anniversary season. More of a song cycle than a conventional musical play, the show is a tightrope duet that takes its two performers through an entire romance, from joyous beginnings to bitter end. The songs won't be familiar to most audiences, and the staging is intense: two people onstage in the intimate Black Box Theater for an hour and a half, without an intermission. But as a showcase for two terrific Cabrillo Stage veterans, Andrew Ceglio and Ariel Buck, it's a knockout.

Written and composed by Jason Robert Brown, the story-songs in "The Last Five Years" touch on every aspect of love and romance (goofy jubilation to disenchantment, rage, and poignant regret) in the five-year relationship of Jamie Wellerstein (Ceglio), a young novelist on his way up, and Cathy Hiatt (Buck), an aspiring actress whose career has stalled. In the show's high-concept structure, Cathy sings her story starting at the end of their marriage, going backward in time, while Jamie moves forward through their relationship from beginning to end.

While both characters are onstage throughout, they rarely participate in the same song together; their opposing viewpoints (one always looking backward with regret, the other looking forward with hope) play in counterpoint to each other. (Read more)

And speaking of Cabrillo Stage, this weekend is your last chance to catch up with their insanely fun and frisky production of The Full Monty. I loved this show to pieces, so don't you dare miss it! (Click here for details.)


For years, Trish Black Melehan has worked with the Scotts Valley Performing Arts Youth Shakespeare program, mostly adapting and directing Shakespearean plays and Broadway musicals to be performed onstage by local high school and middle school kids. This weekend the theater group will perform Melehan's adaptation of The Tempest, relocated to medieval Japan.

But this year, Melehan also decided to do something completely different. In response to fans and parents asking for a production that younger children could participate in, Melehan came up with a second show, Journey Fantastique: Art and Poetry in Motion. It's a cycle of 12 poems written by Melehan that were inspired by 12 of the whimsical, kid-friendly paintings of artist James Aschbacher. Reconceived as a theater piece called "Verse in Many Voices," the poems are now designed to be recited (and at times, enacted) onstage by a cast ranging in age from five to 65, while an image of each of James' paintings is projected on a scrim behind the stage.

We crept into rehearsals last week at Bethany University Community Theater for a sneak preview. Melehan gives fanciful names and backstories to the characters in each painting, and the young performers take on those personae in voice and movement. The verse was a bit demanding at times for some of the smaller children, but seeing these exuberant little kids dance around onstage as various cats, birds, frogs, or other Aschbacher-style critters is just about the cutest thing ever! (That's Sebastian Hardison, Elli Streller, and Makenna Damhorst above, in front of James' painting Wild Horsey Ride.)

We all know how important it is to get kids involved in the arts, especially in this era of criminal under-funding. Big kudos to Melehan, co-director Lisa Kirk-Williams, and the tireless folks at SVPAA for providing this literal platform to help launch local kids into theater. (Darwin Garrett, currently on the boards in Cabrillo Stage's terrific production of The Full Monty, is an SVPAA alumnus.)

The Tempest: Revisited In Medieval Japan plays July 14, 15 and 16 at 7 pm, and July 17, at 2 pm, at Bethany University Community Theater, Scotts Valley.

Journey Fantastique: Art and Poetry in Motion plays July 16, 2 pm, and July 17, 6:30 pm, at Bethany University Community Theater, Scotts Valley. For more info, visit the SVPAA website.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


It's been a long time coming, but Harry Potter finally meets his destiny this week when the eighth and final installment of the movie franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, opens on Friday. 10 years, seven books and eight movies later, it all comes down to this: Harry vs. Voldemort. Of course, readers of the books already know how this smackdown plays out, but J.K. Rowling made the finale edge-of-your-seat suspenseful in the book. Here's hoping series veteran David Yates (directing his fourth Potter film) and scriptwriter Steve Kloves can do the same onscreen—especially after the somewhat meandering middle-act that was Deathly Hallows Part 1 last fall.

In some ways, this last Potter film, like the last book, is a thing to dread, knowing we'll have to bid the long goodbye to some favorite characters. But that was always part of Rowling's game plan, introducing young readers to both the joys and perils of growing up and accepting the adult world with all its responsibilities and inevitable losses. In the fourth book, Goblet Of Fire, the spectre of death oozed out of the past into Harry's present for the first time. After that, through the tragic finale of the sixth book (Half-Blood Prince) and on to the devastating, yet inevitable showdown of Deathly Hallows, fans agonized over which beloved character would meet an untimely demise with each new installment. Commentators, and therapists lined up like spectators at a Quidditch match to pontificate on how to guide young children through these sad and scary bits.

Here's a news flash: Kid Lit is not for sissies. The land of Oz is beset by warring factions. Wonderland is a nightmare of adult irrationality. And don't get me started on Neverland, where pirates and Indians routinely slaughter each other for the pleasure of a tyrannical little boy.

In my day, we didn't have grief counseling every time a beloved fictional character expired. When Bambi's mother was shot by hunters, we just had to get over it. Kids were expected to process these tales as way-stations out of sheltered childhood into the more complex realities of grown-up life. Of course, some of us kids were better at it than others; I still remember the tantrum I threw at about age 7 when I read the book, Lady and the Tramp, in which (unlike the Disney cartoon version) Trusty, the old bloodhound, actually drops dead after chasing down the dog-catcher's wagon with Tramp inside. I was inconsolable.

(in the Disney universe, good dogs get to live forever.)

I have to admit, I still miss having a new Potter novel to look forward to every couple of years, now that the book series is over. I was on a "book tree" with a few other friends; whoever bought it first would read it fast (the only possible way to read a Potter novel) and then pass it on to the rest of us. This involved some down time whilst waiting for the book to come down to me in the food chain, and it was a big challenge in the meantime not to accidentally learn any spoilers re: the plot. This meant no reading book reviews (natch!), nor any kind of media essay or chatroom discussion, and no conversations with anyone who had read the book (which was basically everyone else on earth).

When Goblet of Fire came out, we all knew one character in the book was going to die.; the big secret was, who? For weeks, I went around like Helen Keller, deaf and blind to all external stimuli. One morning, I was sitting in my doctor's waiting room before my annual check-up, when a young mother and two little children came in and sat down a few seats away. She opened up a suspiciously large book to nearly the end (GoF, of course), the kids crowded around, and almost the first words she read aloud to them were, "(Character's Name) was dead!" D'oh!

(Say goodbye to Daniel Radcliffe & the gang this Friday)

I'll be brushing up on my Deathly Hallows notes this week, in preparation for the final film. (After 13 years reviewing books for the SF Chronicle, I always take notes now when I read a book, especially a humungous book whose details my tiny brain is likely to forget.) Let's hope Yates, Kloves, Daniel Radcliffe and the rest give Harry the worthy send-off he and his legion of fans deserve.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


If you were a book, what would your cover look like? This was the question, more or less, posed to the fourth-grade students at Bay View Elementary in the course of producing the school's latest mural. Created by local artist Katharina Short, the mural, "Reading Broadens Your Horizons," celebrates books and the adventure of reading. Tina designed and painted the main image, but as usual at Bay View, the fourth graders got to participate.

This year, each student's challenge was to design and paint a book cover based on his or her life or family or hobbies, or anything else that popped into their minds. They worked on paperback-sized wooden panels in art class, and the panels were then fastened to the wall surrounding the central image, forming a border of fantasy book covers.

The mural isn't quite finished yet, but the faux "books" have just gone up, and they are completely enchanting! My camera malfunctioned the other day when I went to check it out (okay, I ran down the batteries before I could take the close-ups I wanted to share), but here are some of my favorite titles:

My Life As a Kid, by Jesselle; Why Davenport Rocks, by Isaiah; Me and My Crazy Family, by Kalela Hatfield; Sock Monkey Beach Baby, by Alyssa Pack; The Awesome Hamster, by Isaac Marquez; Life Of Hand, by Jacob Cardenas (featuring a riff on cartoonist Jim Phillips' famous surf hand); How To Become Rich and Famous in El Salvador, by Edward Alfaro. And these are just the ones I could scribble down in a few minutes. There are dozens more, all of them irresistibly illustrated, and so worth the time it takes to search out the mural on the Bay View campus. (Hint: it's way around the back, facing the playing field.)

Oh, to be in fourth grade again! (Seriously; I had a huge crush on my fourth-grade teacher, Mr. Sindak, at Hermosa View Elementary School, Hermosa Beach, but his thing was science, not art, unfortunately for me.) But boy, would I have loved to paint a book cover for this project! In fact I think I'll do it anyway, just for fun, and post it here. Anyone else who wants to create a vision of your life as a book cover, send it to me & I'll post yours too. In the meantime, run don't walk to Bay View and enjoy this new mural. Prepare to be beguiled!

"Day In the Bay," 2005

Btw, the tradition of an annual Bay View mural began in 2005, when the Home and School Club (spearheaded by parents and artists Lynn Guenther and Sandy Cherk) hired artist James Aschbacher (aka Art Boy) to design a mural project that would involve the fourth-graders. They wanted something to dress up the boring bunker-like wall that faced the intersection of Bay Street and Mission, and also let people know there was a school back there, behind the wall.

James envisioned "Day In the Bay," with an underwater theme, and invited every single fourth-grader to draw an undersea creature, which James then composed into a mural-sized design, offsite. As the mural went up, each student came out to paint his or her creation up on the wall. By way of a signature, each student left a handprint on the blue border around the central image—a tradition James has continued with the nine other elementary school murals he's painted with local kids since then.

PS: The Santa Cruz County Office of Education has a great website about local school murals. A little out of date, but still a fascinating overview.