Halloween Spooktakular Family Fun Fest

halloween02For pre-school aged children and their parents, the 2016 Halloween Spooktakular Family Fun Fest, Tuesday, October 25th from 10am to noon at Park Valencia, Santana Row.
The Halloween Fun Fest features free entertainment, interactive games, hands-on activities and educational activities. Wear your costume and trick or treat The Row. There will be arts and crafts, face painting, pumpkin decorating, halloween photos at more.

Park Valencia, Santana Row
368 Santana Row, San Jose
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Mountain View Oktoberfest

oktoberfestThe 4th Annual Mountain View Oktoberfest will feature authentic German Beer, Cuisine, and Entertainment (Alpiners USA, SF German Band and Big Lou’s Accordion Princess).

The Mountain View Oktoberfest is open free to the public and is an all ages event but you must be 21 or older to drink. Proper Identification verifying legal age will be required.

You must purchase a stein and tickets if you would like to drink:

per beer ticket

4 beer tickets

0.5L size Stein
(Requires 1 tickets to fill.)

1.0L size Stein
(Requires 2 tickets to fill.)

The free kids area will include jumpy houses, face painting, games and prizes.

Mountain View Oktoberfest
Bryant St. at Dana St., Mountain View, CA 94041

Parking – parking lot behind Steins Beer Garden & Restaurant – 1 block West of Castro Street

October 1st and 2nd from 11:00am to 7:00pm

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Thunderbirds on the Wharf

The 19th annual Thunderbirds on the Santa Cruz Wharf is this Saturday (9/24) from 9:00 am to 3:00pm featuring the classic 1955-1957, the 1958-1965 vintage and the retro, 2002-2005 Thunderbirds.

Guest may join in the events and participate in the raffles.

21 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz

Admission: Free

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Weekend Citywide Garage Sale – Cupertino

garagesale01Cupertino’s Citywide Garage Sale is Saturday and Sunday September 17-18 from 9 am to 4 pm.

Looking for something special? No need to drive allover Cupertino looking from an item. Check this list.

Which locations are selling on Saturday, Sunday or both? Check this map (PDF).
Saturday only sale is indicated by a black circle, a Sunday only sale indicated by a blue triangle and both days are indicated by a red star.

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Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney will be in concert October 4 & 5 at Sacramento’s new Golden 1 Center arena at 8:00 PM.

He will perform songs from his solo career and as a member with the Beatles and Wings.

Good luck getting tickets

Paul McCartney
Golden 1 Center
547 L St, Sacramento, CA 95814

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Free Outdoor Movie Night in St. James Park

This Wednesday August 31 – Jurassic Park.
In September (21), the movie will be Beetlejuice.

Pre-movie games for kids start at 6 p.m.
Movies are free and begin at dusk.

Movies are free; however, parking: $5 parking after 6 p.m. is available in city-owned garages, including those at Third Street near Santa Clara Street, Market and San Pedro streets, San Carlos and Second or Third streets and Fourth and San Fernando streets.  Public lots near St. James Park also offer plentiful parking. More info here.

St. James Park, San Jose
Second and St. James streets

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Doggie Sale! $20 at San Jose Animal Shelter

Through May 31

Through May 31

There is a major sale for lovable dogs needing forever homes at the San Jose Animal Care Center throughout May.  Until May 31 all full grown dogs (not puppies) are only $20! Even better, any dog who has been at the shelter for more than two weeks is ABSOLUTELY FREE.

I adopted a dog at the shelter last December, and Simon is now a wonderful addition to our family. I can’t recommend the shelter enough. Dogs are spayed/neutered, have their shots, and are microchipped, all for the one very low price. You also get a certificate for a free first vet appointment. My dog Simon is wonderful with children and came home already housetrained and knowing all his commands. Shelter dogs are wonderful dogs and will love you forever.

The San Jose Animal Care Center is a full-service animal shelter serving the cities of San Jose, Milpitas, Cupertino, Los Gatos and Saratoga, located at 2750 Monterey Highway, San Jose.

There are currently four pages of dogs up on their website. Here are just a few who need homes today – for only $20!! Dogs are first come, first serve, so get down to the shelter today!

MEISHA $20 ID#A987556

MEISHA $20 ID#A987556



JACK $20 ID#A992511

JACK $20 ID#A992511


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Radio Girls, by UCSC alumna Sarah-Jane Stratford

Coming June 14

Coming June 14

Summer is almost upon us, and we should all be starting our beach reading lists.  There is a book called Radio Girls that PopSugar recommends for Best 2016 Summer reading, and you should have it on your own list too. The book was written by UC Santa Cruz alumna Sarah-Jane Stratford, and it is one fantastic read.

Radio Girls is the best kind of historical fiction in that it tells a real story with real people, but from a fictional character’s point of view. I am not sure what I initially expected of this book, but it is definitely much more than I had imagined!

It covers part of the story of the beginning years of the BBC. As I read, I started googling the guest speakers they mentioned and found these very real people to be fascinating, but then I googled Hilda Matheson, a prominent character who works at the BBC in the book, and discovered she was a real person too. After discovering that most of the characters were real-life people, I realized this was actually a fairly true story told from a (fictional) assistant’s point of view. This upped my fascination level even higher than it was when I began the book.

I had never read a book that revolved around radio’s beginnings, and it really brought to light not only how much the world changed with that one invention, but how similar the change was then to these new internet days now. There was so much talk of the world becoming a smaller place, and how everyone with access to a radio could now get so much knowledge they had no access to before, and how it would help people who felt alone in the world. These are all things they say about the internet now. As far as we’ve come in the last 100 years, the radio also gave us a huge jump in technology and knowledge and connection with the world.

Sarah-Jane Stratford

Sarah-Jane Stratford

With this knowledge however comes the question of who will control the dissemination of that knowledge. BBC’s beginnings came at the same time as Women’s Suffrage in the UK, and those grumbling times are remarkably similar to today’s political atmosphere. Women’s Rights also meant loss of the men’s complete control of the world, and they certainly were not happy about it. World War I had just ended, governments were reorganizing, and businesses across borders were forming new alliances. The stock market crash in the US had just as great an effect across the Atlantic. There were at least two opposing views on each of these topics, and control of the BBC meant control of the information the world received.

In the middle of all this is young Maisie, our fictional heroine who lands a low-level job at the BBC hoping to find a husband, but instead finds a career and a new life plan. A life plan she could barely comprehend as it wasn’t even a possibility just a few years before. Along with Maisie comes a fictional storyline starring the BBC, Nestle and Siemens, and the Nazis. As Sarah-Jane Stratford mentions in the very informative Author’s Note, the actual storyline is fictional, but many of the events surrounding it are not, and many similar events were taking place.

Stratford earned a degree in History at UCSC and went on to obtain a Masters in Medieval History at the University of York in England. She wrote this book because of her fascination with Hilda Matheson from the BBC, and this fascination is transferred to the reader. She was an amazing, high-level career woman in times when there was no such thing, and she was a lesbian to boot. She is a fantastic role model to young women even in our own times.

And so is our young Maisie, who follows her dreams of being a reporter with various levels of success. But in Maisie’s case as it is always, it doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, it matters how many times you get back up. She takes her role as reporter very seriously, and even takes on some spy traits as she works to save free speech in the UK and retain women’s new rights as well.

This is an outstanding book that gets better and better as it goes along. I love that I learned so much, I love that I’ve developed a great interest in the amazing Hilda Matheson, and I really enjoyed the fictional plot. The fictional plot doesn’t get going until the second half, but spending the first half on Maisie’s moving up the ranks and learning about all the real-life changes that happened in those few short years was worth it all.

Sarah-Jane Stratford is also the author of two previous books, and has also written articles and essays for a range of publications, including The Guardian, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Marie-Claire, Bitch, Slate, Salon, Guernica, and BOMB.

Radio Girls will be released June 14. Many thanks to Penguin Books for an advance copy, this book is FIVE STARS without a doubt.

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Wings of History Air Museum Free Open House

Wings History Museum
Wings of History Air Museum free open house to the museum and displays Saturday May 14, 2016 from 7:00 am to 3:30 pm.

Airplanes of all kinds, including antique, modern and Warbirds will be on display, along with antique farm equipment and steam engines.

Take a free ride on a tethered balloon between 7:00 am to 9:00 am, weather permitting, wind calm.

Kids get a free airplane ride for those 8 years to 17 years old —  limited space, pre-register.

There will be kids’ activities including model-making and a maze.

Breakfast (from 8am) and lunch (11:00am to 2:00pm) will be available for purchase.

Wings of History Museum
12777 Murphy Avenue, San Martin, 95046
(408) 683-2290

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Free Cone Day at Häagen-Dazs

Häagen-Dazs_logoIt is Free Cone Day Tuesday May 10 at participating Häagen-Dazs Shops from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM. You may get one free kiddie size ice cream in either a cup, sugar cone, or cake cone. No, you do not need to be a kid.

Participating Häagen-Dazs Shops:

Valley Fair Mall
2855 Stevens Creek Blvd.
Santa Clara, 95050
(408) 260-8882

Westfield San Francisco Centre
865 Market Street
San Francisco, 94103
(415) 896-1550

AT& T Park
24 Willie Mays Plaza
San Francisco, 94124
(415) 371-0727

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Finding a New Earth

Wednesday, May 11, Stephen Kane, Ph.D., will discuss Finding a New Earth: Exoplanets and the Habitable Zone, an illustrated, non-technical lecture in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College.

A key to finding a new Earth will be to identify rocky planets that occupy the Habitable Zone of their stars.

Dr. Kane has been researching planets around other stars for more than 20 years and has discovered and characterized hundreds of exoplanets.

Dr. Kane is professor of astrophysics at San Francisco State University (SFSU). He is also the chairman of the Kepler Mission Habitable Zone Working Group and the director of the SFSU Planetary Research Laboratory.

The lecture is free, but there is a charge of $3 for parking on campus and exact change is appreciated.

Smithwick Theater at Foothill College
12345 S El Monte Ave, Los Altos, 94022
May 11, 2016
7:00 p.m.

Admission: Free
Parking $3.00

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A Streetcar Named Desire – Opera Style!

Opera San José resident artist Matthew Hanscom as “Stanley” and guest artists Ariana Strahl as “Blanche” and Stacey Tappan as “Stella”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Opera San José resident artist Matthew Hanscom as “Stanley” and guest artists Ariana Strahl as “Blanche” and Stacey Tappan as “Stella”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Opera San Jose has really been outdoing itself this year, as it does every year.  February’s Carmen was outstanding, and now they have taken a dip in the theatre-pond, bringing us Mr. Tennessee Williams. Did you know A Streetcar Named Desire was also an opera by André Previn? Well there was no way I was going to miss this. I was so excited to see this show, in a completely different way than I usually am.

As soon as you step into the California Theatre you can see this opera is going to be different. The curtain was already up and there were actors already on stage sitting on chairs! And not a velvet gown in sight. These were manly men, shirtless and dirty, drinking from bottles as they lounged in the chairs waiting for us to sit. Also, the orchestra was behind the stage. All of this was so different from anything I’d seen at the opera before, I was bouncing in my chair waiting for it to begin.

Opera San José resident artists Matthew Hanscom as “Stanley” and Kirk Dougherty at “Mitch”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Opera San José resident artists Matthew Hanscom as “Stanley” and Kirk Dougherty at “Mitch”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Now I’ll be honest. It had to grow on me. When Ariana Strahl as Blanche DuBois strolls onstage and starts singing my mind had a terribly difficult time connecting what I was seeing to what I was hearing.  My heart fell just a tiny bit as I realized I might not enjoy it as much as I had anticipated. But the music was outstanding, it has the feel of a 1950s film score.  And of course the story of Blanche, and Stanley, and STELLAAAAAAAAA is fantastic no matter what, so I sat and tried to enjoy the show as much as I could.

Fear not, it was already growing on me before the first intermission (there are two).  And it wasn’t long before I realized Streetcar is actually your typical opera story: the male is somewhat of a… trying to come up with a family friendly adjective here… jerk.  Yeah, let’s call him that.  So your main male character is a big, fat, jerk, and the main female that the story revolves around is basically a whore.  Sigh.  And because Streetcar is no Comedy, we know what’s going to happen to the “whore” in the end.

If you’ve never seen or read Streetcar in any version before, note that this is not a show for young children. There is talk of homosexuality, suicide, “loose women”, domestic violence and a choreographed rape.  The setting is a tough time in a tough neighborhood where men earn the money and the women do what they’re told. But it is also an amazing, touching story, and the entire production is done extremely well.

Stacey Tappan is a luscious Stella, Matthew Hanscom is as manly a Stanley as you can get, and I adored Kirk Dougherty as Mitch. But another standout for me was Cabiria Jacobsen as Eunice. She has a smaller role, but it was a great one.

Opera San José resident artist Kirk Dougherty as “Mitch” and guest artist Ariana Strahl as “Blanche”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Opera San José resident artist Kirk Dougherty as “Mitch” and guest artist Ariana Strahl as “Blanche”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

The finale of the show at opening night got the standing ovation that it deserved.  From the catchy, more “modern” music, to the 1950s era costumes, to our amazing resident opera singers, and even the sparse, perfect staging, this is an outstanding production. It did grow on me, and then it bloomed, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see the show. I think the show might be a very good introduction to opera newbies, but the music and voices are the usual perfection to please long-time opera fans as well. Perhaps even some English majors can get their noses out of their books and get out for a night to see a story really brought to life.

I’m so glad the show is going to be playing all the way through May 1. It is a great show to end the season with, while we look forward to next year which will include:

Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor
Rossini’s The Barber of Seville
Puts & Campbell’s Silent Night
Puccini’s La bohème

Don’t miss this amazing modern opera at the California Theatre.

A Streetcar Named Desire
Opera San Jose
playing through May 1


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Jazz on the Wharf

Santa Cruz WharfSunday, April 24, 2016 enjoy jazz on the century old half-mile Santa Cruz Wharf. This free family-friendly event starts at 11:00 a.m. on the Wharf Stage.

The wharf has shopping, dining and recreation.

For adults, a variety of wines will be available for sale, proceeds benefit the Friends of Parks and Recreation.

Parking is available on the Santa Cruz Wharf — parking rates

Jazz on the Wharf
21 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, 95060
(831) 420-5273

04/24/2016 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Admission: Free

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Northern California Regional Botball Tournament

botballMiddle and high school aged students in the Bay Area pit their home-made autonomous robots (no remote controls allowed) against each other in the Northern California BotBall tournament Saturday, April 16, 2016. Students use science, engineering, technology, math, and writing skills to design, build, program and document robots in a hands-on project.

The robot’s actions are based on information from the sensors, combined with the computer program (C, C++, and Java) written by the students in advance. Botball robots are completely autonomous and rely on this computer programming to start, stop, and maneuver on the game board.

The free to watch tournament begins 10:00 am and is held at the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field.

Tournament Event Schedule:
• 8:00 am- Registration / Open Practice
• 10:00 am – Seeding Rounds Begin
• 1:00 pm – Lunch Break
• 5:30 pm – Awards Presentation Begins

Northern California Botball Tournament 2016
NASA Ames Research Center
N152 Conference Building, Moffett Field

Saturday, April 16, 2016
10:00 am
Admission: Free

Getting there — Go on the US 101 freeway to the Moffett Field exit, then:
Show your drivers license to the guard at the gate, and say you are attending the Botball Tournament in the NASA Conference Center, N152.
You can get a map at the visitor’s control, or just drive straight, down Clark Rd to just before the Shuttle model, turn right on Wescoat Rd, then in a couple blocks, turn right on McCord Ave, and in one block, stay right at the ‘Y’ (note sign to N152) to Dailey Rd for another block and you’ll see N152 on the right. The parking is on the left, across the street.

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Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 is Free Cone Day at participating Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops in the Bay Area.
Since 1979, it’s Ben & Jerry’s way to celebrate and say thanks to their fans for another year of support.

115 East San Carlos
San Jose, 95112
Free cone: Noon – 8:00 pm

Find a participating Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop here.

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