Arts & Culture Newsletter: ‘Sides’ is a smart web series with local artists ‘cranked up to 11’

Good morning, and welcome to the U-T Arts & Culture Newsletter.

I’m David L. Coddon, and here’s your guide to all things essential in San Diego’s arts and culture this week.

What happens when four struggling actors seek side jobs at a restaurant? That’s the premise of “Sides,” a web series created by six talented artists from the San Diego theater and filmmaking communities. The episodes available so far on the “Sides” YouTube Channel were written by Jordan Jacobo, filmed by Michael Lewis Foster at the Brew Bar in Chula Vista, and star Jacobo, Eric Casalini, Allison Pearce, Beth Gallagher and Mike Sears.

“Sides” is a collaborative project that sprang from a discussion Casalini and Pearce had at Lestat’s Coffee House.

“Allison wanted to get some screen time,” Casalini recalled. “Michael and I had been working together on previous projects and Jordan is a mainstay of San Diego storytelling on screen. It started with Mike Sears and I doing some scenes to get content for our respective reels.”

Once Gallagher was on board, “We all started coming up with stories together,” said Casalini.

The “Sides” characters are not unlike the actors who portray them … sort of. “They are versions of the types we usually play,” said Pearce, “the types we usually get cast as.”

For comedy’s sake, “It’s us cranked up to 11,” added Jacobo.

The series’ budget is virtually nil, but you wouldn’t know it. Credit Foster, whose 2018 film “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This” starred Casalini and Gallagher, for the web shows’ crisp look and brisk pacing.

With “Sides” itself being just a side project for all concerned, how long will episodes keep being produced?

“My sense is that we’re going to gauge the response to Season 1 and hopefully start writing Season 2,” said Gallagher, whose character has all the scripts’ straight lines. “As long as we’re all available, I’m happy to keep getting together with these hilarious people and being not quite as funny as them.”

Watch a full Zoom interview with the “Sides” team here.


Joel Castellaw as King Bowman and Eliza Hugee as Penelope, Queen of Plastic "Our Earth"

Joel Castellaw as King Bowman, who rules the kingdom of Brick, and Eliza Hugee as Penelope, Queen of Plastic, in “Our Earth,” the final installment of Vanguard Culture’s “The History of Joy” series.

(Courtesy photo by Susanna Peredo-Swap)

Just in time for the holidays: “a post-apocalyptic re-imagining of the three little pigs story.” That’s how San Diego’s Vanguard Culture describes the fourth and final installment of its yearlong cinematic series “The History of Joy.” This one, titled “Our Earth,” premieres tonight at 7.

As I pointed out in October prior to Part 3 of the series, “Womxn,” these multimedia performances stem from the eight pillars of joy articulated in “The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World” by the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams. Playwright/poet Gill Sotu ties it all together.

Tickets to stream “The History of Joy: Our Earth” are $15.

Jazz/classical music

Musicians on an ornate stage, gathered around a small Christmas tree

The Queen’s Cartoonists perform a holiday show at La Jolla Music Society.

(Courtesy of La Jolla Music Society / photo by Lauren Desberg)

You could rightly refer to the music accompanying our favorite classic cartoons as the art beneath the art. On Saturday that music rises to the top when La Jolla Music Society presents The Queen’s Cartoonists in the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center’s Baker-Baum Concert Hall.

This six-person ensemble from Queens, N.Y. that formed in 2015 combines jazz and classical idioms in providing a soundtrack to the manic and whimsical animation that so many of us grew up with and cherish to this day. You’ll see clips from these cartoons as you watch and listen. Here’s more on the Queen’s Cartoonists.

Showtimes Saturday are 3 and 8 p.m. Tickets start at $31.

Read more about The Queen’s Cartoonists in this story by the Union-Tribune’s Nina Garin: The Queen’s Cartoonists can make a jazz lover out of anyone


Charlie Brown and Linus appear in a scene from "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

Charlie Brown and Linus appear in a scene from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”


One of the most beloved animation works ever, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” can be viewed on demand via AppleTV+ and will air on PBS stations on Dec. 19. Of course the cartoonist who created Charlie Brown and the rest of the “Peanuts” gang was the great Charles Schulz.

Schulz is honored at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, Calif. If you can’t make the trip this holiday season, there’s always the Schulz Museum At Home programming. As you’ll discover, the site includes myriad activities for, as they say, kids of all ages: games, a scavenger hunt, tutorials on drawing all of your favorite “Peanuts” characters and even a downloadable “Lucy’s Psychiatric Advice Teller.” Could anything come in more handy than that during the stressful holidays?

Pop music

Mr. Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffet

Mr. Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffet

(Dave Martin / Associated Press)

Parrotheads need not be in Orlando, Fla., Saturday when their main man, Jimmy Buffett, takes the stage. This show, like many of Buffett’s, can be streamed online. The portal is dubbed Margaritaville.TV.

The site also includes the “At Home with the Friends of the Coral Reefers” web series with guest performers like blues guitarist Sonny Landreth and singer/songwriter Marshall Chapman.

Meanwhile, Buffett’s 2022 tour schedule isn’t yet complete, so you’ve got time to look for that lost shaker of salt before a San Diego date — if any — is revealed.

More music? Read this story last weekend by the Union-Tribune’s George Varga: John Mayall, famed ‘Godfather of English blues,’ on final concert tour, at 88, after bout with COVID-19

Classical music

The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park

The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park

(Photo courtesy of San Diego Symphony)

I’ll be heading to the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park on Saturday for the return of the “Noel Noel” holiday program of music and storytelling. Joining the San Diego Symphony Orchestra are the San Diego Master Chorale and the San Diego Children’s Choir. Tickets start at $25. Hope to see you there.

For more holiday music, check out this Union-Tribune roundup: From ‘A Black Family Christmas’ and Noel Noel to ‘Frozen,’ local arts groups bring holiday cheer

Last chance

Paco Tolson plays Vincent van Gogh in La Jolla Playhouse's "to the yellow house."

Paco Tolson plays Vincent van Gogh in La Jolla Playhouse’s “to the yellow house.”

(Rich Soublet II)

Sunday winds up La Jolla Playhouse’s world-premiere staging of playwright Kimber Lee’s “to the yellow house.” Check out U-T theater critic Pam Kragen’s review of this production about Vincent van Gogh in the final years of his life.


Dr Jonas Salk gives an 8-year-old boy a trial polio vaccine at the Frick Elementary School in Pittsburgh in February of 1954.

Dr Jonas Salk gives an 8-year-old boy a trial polio vaccine at the Frick Elementary School in Pittsburgh in February of 1954.

(Underwood Archives/Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

University of California Television invites you to enjoy this special selection of programs from throughout the University of California. Descriptions courtesy of and text written by UCTV staff:

“Exploring Ethics in Communication and Dis-/Misinformation and Fake News”: The rapid rise and popularity of social media comes with some pitfalls. Popular apps like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have given everyone with a smartphone the power to broadcast their voice and their message to the masses with the touch of a button. During the early moments of the COVID-19 pandemic, the big tech companies of Meta (formerly Facebook), Google and Twitter were forced to take measures to prevent the increased presence of disinformation, misinformation, and fake news that had been propagated across several social media outlets. Brian Spitzberg, PhD, examines the ethics in communication through the lens of the pandemic.

“The Magic of Mushrooms: Revolutionizing the Future of Food, Farming and Medicine”: Mushrooms play a crucial role in our natural ecosystem — they have been used medicinally by indigenous cultures for centuries, their nutritional value and hearty fiber make them an excellent meat substitute for chefs, and the mainstream medical community is evaluating psilocybin benefits in combating PTSD, anxiety, addiction, and other conditions. Michelle Ciccarelli Lerach hosts spiritual healer Matthew Alvarado, Mindful Mushrooms owner Ivo Fedak, CEO of M2 Ingredients Jan Hall, Mark Kalia, MD, Gordon Saxe, MD, PhD UCSD, environmental scientist Danielle Stevenson, and co-owner and chef at The Plot and Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub Davin Waite for a discussion on the amazing impacts of mushrooms.

“The Legacy of Jonas Salk”: In 2015, the Library Channel presented an evening of conversation and celebration at the close of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Jonas Salk featuring his sons Jonathan and Peter, author Mary Walshok and Gary Robbins, science editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The panel reflects on how Jonas Salk, his wife Francoise Gilot and his Institute shaped San Diego and its fledgling biomedical community, the interplay between Salk and other leaders in building the civic infrastructure, and other remembrances from the Salk brothers about their father’s discovery of a vaccine for polio.

And finally … Top Weekend Events

two people dressed as Santa standing back to back

Here are the top events happening in San Diego from Thursday, Dec. 9 to Sunday, Dec. 12.

Angelia S. Rico

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