The Best of Silicon Valley 2013

Arts | Editors' Picks

James Franco JAMES FRANCO: Best Multi-Talented Palo Alto Born and Bred

Best Multi-Talented Palo Alto Born and Bred

James Franco

Palo Alto born/Lockheed-Martin intern/PA High School alum/actor/director/short-story writer/adjunct professor of literature at USC/freak/TV geek/juvenile delinquent/Selena Gomez and Kenneth Anger co-star/self-inflicted amputee/SNL host/Spider-Man villain/wizard/serial killer/Oscar host/Columbia MFA holder/Gucci model. (RvB)


Best Community Art-Boxer

Tina Morrill

Thanks to the leadership of Tina Morrill, dozens of artists have now painted those hideous utility boxes on street corners all over San Jose. Thanks to Tina Morrill, San Jose is a less boring and a less embarrassing place. Even the politicians understand this signal fact. Now, some background: A few years ago, Tina took the initiative and spearheaded what's now known as the Art Box Project, beautifying neighborhoods from downtown and out into the neighborhoods. Another muse, Cherri Lakey of Phantom Galleries, functions as the connection-machine to a large pool of creative talent throughout San Jose, resulting in artists of all shapes, ages and sizes taking their brushes to these repulsive boxes. As a result, communities are bonding with artists in ways they never have before, sponsors are emerging left, right and sideways, and even city council members are kicking in some pocket change. (GS)

Best Local Vintage Character Actor

Hank Worden

Once just another engineering student at Stanford, Hank Worden (1901–92) was discovered by Cecil B. DeMille, and went on a 60-year acting spree that encompassed 100 films. Pretty much the most prestigious Western ever made co-stars this former area-man: in The Searchers, Worden plays Mose, a touched-in-the-head sidekick with a gift for uncanniness (as when he merrily pantomimes the way John Wayne's character mutilated an Indian corpse). Capable of likable Western warmth and oddness, Worden was featured in the second season of Twin Peaks. He was one of David Lynch's walkers between worlds, a slow, towering, elderly and cryptic waiter at the Great Northern, who brought clues along with the room service. (RvB)

Best Place for a Budding Balenciaga

Camp Fashionista

1702 Meridian Ave., Unit K, San Jose. There is a world of difference between casually picking up a book on sewing and actually enrolling in a fashion school. Fortunately for South Bay residents, there is Camp Fashionista, a viable middle ground available to both adults and to kids (as young as 6). Dori Duncan, who founded Camp Fashionista in 2010, teaches classes covering everything from design to actually working with a sewing machine. People can take as many or as few classes as their interests dictate. It's perfect for kids wanting to dip their feet into fashion design to see if it's a good career fit, or for moms just looking to make their own Halloween costumes for their kids next year. Duncan, who has more than 20 years' experience in the fashion industry, studied at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and ESMOD in Paris, France. (AC)

Best Place to Express Your Inner Geek

After Hours at the Tech

The Tech Museum of Innovation, 201 S. Market St., San Jose. Love science? Love partying? Surely, there must be one place to indulge both interests at once. And so there is. Once a month, on the first Thursday, 7pm–midnight, the Tech Museum of Innovation hosts a special "after hours" party. The events boast booze, music, dancing, moody lighting and science, as in, you can still look at all the displays in the museum, only while getting a buzz on and listening to house music. Each month features a slightly different theme. Just recently, After Hours was devoted to the "science of suds." There was a "create your own foam explosion" display as well as a lively game of beer-related trivial pursuit. Admit it: This is exactly the kind of thing you've been dreaming of. (AC)

Best Economist

Alvin Roth

In the microeconomic theory of matching markets, there's an algorithm, invented in the 1950s, which calculates the best match among, say, 10 husbands and 10 wives based on their individual preferences. The formula ensures that no two people would prefer anyone else besides their given partner. For decades, it remained an interesting idea at most. It wasn't until the 1990s that Stanford University professor Alvin Roth figured out how to apply the algorithm to real life, revolutionizing the way colleges find students, hospitals find doctors and organ donors find matches.

The 60-year-old academic got a call last year from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences telling him that he and 89-year-old colleague Lloyd Shapley, professor emeritus at UCLA, had won the 2012 Nobel Prize in economics. Roth's work, they said, spawned a "flourishing field of research" that's literally saved lives while illuminating the importance of microeconomics outside of academia.

In talking to the media after the Nobel win last year, Roth said he also hopes the notoriety makes his students listen more intently in class, realizing that theories could hold powerful sway on the world around us and that economics can not only be studied but also altered and engineered to work better. (JW)