Archive for June, 2009

Yolicious is delicious

Yolicious at night

Since trying them for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I’m a new fan of Cafe Yolicious in downtown San Jose. They have a unique gimmick for a frozen yogurt shop. Their “orignal tart” flavor yogurt tastes like…yogurt. Like fresh homemade yogurt, slightly sour and slightly sweet.

They also have two rotating alternative yogurt flavors besides original tart, fresh fruit and candy toppings for the yogurt, more than a dozen flavors of gelato, coffee from Barefoot Coffee Roasters and tea from Harney and Sons.

Cafe Yolicious, 110 E. San Fernando Street, downtown San Jose. Open til 10:00 Sunday – Wednesday, until 11:00 Thursday – Saturday.

Free Family Fun in Willow Glen – Dancin’ on the Avenues

Dancin' on the Avenue 2009 in Downtown Willow Glen Looking for something fun and free for the family this evening? The 14th Annual Dancin’ on the Avenue in downtown Willow Glen runs today (June 20) from 5-10pm. This is always a fun event with lots to do for everybody. There’s a kid’s court full of games,arts and crafts  and face painting and of course dancing and music just  for  kids too.

Lincoln Street shuts down from Minnesota to Willow, with three stages of music and dancing throughout the event. Entertainment ranges from bluegrass, jazz and salsa to classical ballet, hip hop and belly dance. Visit the official site for a  list of performers. Look for plenty of great food and drink, much from local vendors as well.

Last year 30,000 people attended the event, so parking fills up fast. If you decide to park in the neighborhood, please be respectful of the neighbors. Here’s a map of the event and suggestions on parking.

Father’s Day Weekend Freebies 2009

gift-tieHappy Father’s Day!

Dads celebrate Father’s Day this Sunday June 21. Take dad out for a free frozen yogurt, a free burger (when you buy one), and then head on over to Vallejo for The Northern California Pirate Festival free or get very adventurous and visit one of 100 National Parks for free! Don’t tell dad this is all free, act like a big spender.

Weekend events are Saturday and Sunday June 20–21. Here is some info to get you started…

Free TCBY frozen yogurt cups and cones for dads on Father’s Day.

Free 1/3 burger at The Counter to all dads all day on Father’s Day. Offer is limited to one regular 1/3 Burger per father who brings in a paying family member/child and purchases a Burger of equal or greater value.

Yo Ho Yo Ho a Pirate’s Life for Me! Spend Father’s Day Weekend near Vallejo’s pirate-infested waters at The Northern California Pirate Festival; it is free!

Fee-Free Father’s Day Weekend at over 100 National Parks; including Yosemite, Lassen, Death Valley, Lava Beds, Sequoia, and Joshua Tree. Special activities planned at many of the parks. There will also be Fee-Free Weekends in July and August.

TCBY and The Counter locations

Worldwide music festival hits San Jose. Did I mention it’s free?

It’s billed as the largest music festival in the world, and it’s landing in San Jose for the first time. The Fête de la Musique is an annual global music explosion that happens in 350 cities on five continents on the longest day of the year, June 21. (San Jose thought it was better than the rest of the world and bumped it up to tomorrow, June 20.)

The rules of the festival: Admission should be free, the musicians should perform for free, amateurs must be just as welcomed as professionals, and there should be a diverse range of genres represented. By every measure I can find, San Jose’s participation will do exactly this.

It’s happening at Santana Row, where headliners include Tété, who is being called the “French Ben Harper,” and Eric John Kaiser, who calls himself “Portland’s French Troubadour.” The rest of the crazily diverse lineup can be found at the San Jose Jazz website. And when I say diverse, I mean there’s hip-hop, jazz, rock, folk, classical, funk, gospel, blues, pop, indie and swing on the lineup. Crazy diverse.

For more info, check out the international home page (in English). The Merc also does a writeup here.

What: Fête de la Musique
Where: Santana Row, at Winchester and Stevens Creek boulevards, San Jose. Free parking. (Directions)
When: Saturday, June 20, 2009, 1 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Contact: 408.551.4611.

Wicked Plants: A Lecture & Slide Show

Amy Stewart

Amy Stewart

Growing up in Modesto, Ca. I was fascinated with the Oleander bushes dotting the median strip of highway 99. As I remember it, my mother had told me, “Never go near them!” At the young age of two-and-a-half I knew not to walk out in the road, so I asked the, “Why?” She said that they were poisonous, and then explained that poisonous meant get very sick.

This decorative plant will never find a spot in my garden. I saw White Oleander (film). All of its parts are poisonous and ingesting one little leaf could be a fatal dose. Symptoms are: nausea, vomiting, accelerated or retarded heartbeat, and cardiac arrest.

Other poisonous plants include: Primrose, Azalea, Holly, Daphne, Ivy, Peony, Lily of the Valley, and Daffodil. Chewing the leaves of the Coca plant will give a pleasant euphoria, but could lead to premature aging, physical and mental breakdown, and death.

None of this bothers Amy Stewart. She encourages wicked varieties of possible sickness and death in her Eureka, Ca. garden of Foxglove, Poppies, Castor Beans, and more.

Amy, the author, also cultivates minds with her books:

• From the Ground Up: The Story of a First Garden
• Flower Confidential: The Good the Bad and the Beautiful Business of Flowers.
• The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms
• Gilding the Lily: Inside the Cut Flower Industry
• Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities

Amy Stewart is in San Jose tonight.
Thursday, June 18, 6:30 PM
Wicked Plants lecture & slide show a free event.
Children’s Discovery Museum
80 Woz Way San Jose, CA
(408) 298-5437

Free Orange Julius Light Smoothie – June 19

free-smoothieThis Friday June 19 participating Orange Julius is offering its new 20 oz. Light Smoothies free with a downloadable coupon, redeemable all day.

The new real fruit smoothies come in three flavors: Strawberry Delight (strawberries, banana and tropic fruit juice blend), Berry-Pom Twilight (raspberries, blackberries and pomegranate juice blend) and Tropical Sunlight (mango, pineapple and tropic fruit juice blend); all three are blended with ice, non-fat milk and sweetened with Splenda.

Download coupon here (PDF).

For other days, there is a $1.00 off coupon good through October 31, 2009 here.

Orange Julius – Free Light Smoothie
Friday June 19, 2009
Call for store hours and participation:

Oakridge Mall
San Jose, 95123

Westgate Shopping Center
San Jose, 95129

New Park Mall
Newark, 94560

Capitola Mall
Capitola, 95010

Southland Mall
Hayward, 94545

News Hour interviews Joe Claus

Joe Claus on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer

Joe Claus on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer

Just saw San Jose photographer Joe Claus, who we’ve mentioned here a couple of times before, was interviewed on PBS’s News Hour with Jim Lehrer. It looks like they interviewed him while he was shooting his series “Let Go”, which you can see printed in CONTENT Magazine‘s “Dirt” issue. A written article connected to the televised report is available online.

Creative Dramatic Workshop for kids

hamlet1If you have a creative child with a lot of imagination who needs something to do this summer, check out the San Jose Repertory Theatre‘s Creative Dramatics Summer Workshops.

San Jose Repertory Theatre is a great place for children and teens to spend their summer. The Creative Dramatics Summer Workshop is a series of two-week programs that teaches youth improvisational and play-building skills. Sessions are offered for children and teens between the ages of 5-16, starting June 22 through July 20. All workshops are held at San Jose Repertory Theatre’s Fourth Floor Studio Theatre, located at 101 Paseo de San Antonio, in downtown San Jose.

“We’re delighted to offer a summer program for kids and teens that focuses on their ideas and their creativity,” comments Karen Altree Piemme, San Jose Rep’s Director of Outreach. “There are many opportunities out there for kids to perform in a play. At the Rep, we celebrate kids’ imaginations by giving them the opportunity to create their own plays.”

Led by San Jose Repertory Theatre professionals, participants develop their improvisational acting and play-building skills. In each two-week program, the first week focuses on character creation, communication, scene building, storytelling, and the collaborative nature of the improvisational process. During week two, participants use those skills to develop their own short play or improv showcase. At the end of each two-week session there is a final presentation of the participants’ finished works. Families, friends and the community-at-large are invited to view the final presentations.

“The program was originally started to fill a void in the offerings of summer arts programs in the community. There were lots of great programs that allowed kids to perform in plays or musicals that already existed,” Altree Piemme continues. “There wasn’t much available, though, that focused on the creative process. Kids’ natural impulses are to imagine – characters, stories, whole new worlds. We see it in children from a very young age. The Rep’s Creative Dramatics Summer Workshops help kids capitalize on those imaginative impulses and learn to use them in a nurturing, supportive, collaborative environment.”

 Creative Dramatics Summer Workshops Sessions:
 • Session I:   Ages 5-7   June 22-July 3,  9:00am-12:00pm
• Session II:   Ages 11-13   June 22-July 3,  1:30pm-4:30pm
• Session III:   Ages 8-10   July 6-July17,  9:00am-12:00pm
• Session IV:   Ages 14-16   July 6-July 17,  1:30pm-4:30pm
• Session V:   Ages 5-7   July 20-July 31,  9:00am-12:00pm
• Session VI:   Ages 11-13   July 20-July 31,  1:30pm-4:30pm

For more details contact Melissa Locsin at 408-367-7292 or

Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum

I visited the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum last weekend so I could see two independent films that were playing Saturday night: Around the Bay, by Bay Area filmmaker Alejandro Adams, and Passion Flower, a short film by Tennessean (soon to be Bay Arean) Jarrod Whaley.

Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum

Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum

The museum is located on Niles Boulevard in Fremont and there is free parking on the street. As soon as I walked through the front doors the friendly museum docents asked if they could give me a tour. The theater was built in the 1920s and was the first movie theater in Fremont. Soon business was booming so nicely that a newer, bigger theater was built next door and Niles was closed down. During the next 80 years it spent time as a dance hall, photography studio, and sometimes just a storage room. The newer theater burned down in the 1950s but it wasn’t until 2004 that the Niles was bought by its current owners and in 2005 they opened up the theater.

Inside the theater, Museum in back

Inside the theater, Museum in back

The theater holds about 80 wooden chairs with comfy leather cushions. There is a piano where live music is played for many of the silent films. It had never occurred to me that the old silent films had live music accompaniment – but duh. If they could record music, they would have sound, right? I found that an interesting silly fact that I should have already known. The actual museum part is in the back of the theater and there you can find several old style cameras and projectors along with many photographs and other film paraphernalia. The gift shop is in the lobby and there are many books, pictures and cards to look at.

Old projectors in the museum

Old projectors in the museum

Their schedule of silent films varies so you should check their website for specific days, or give them a call. The 12th Annual Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival is coming up on June 26-28 and it is recommended that you pre-order tickets. June is also Independent Filmmakers Month and the theater will be visited by John Korty, Les Blank, and the Scary Cow Short Films Show among others. You can also rent the museum and theater for lecture discussions, musical concerts or a movie showing for family and friends – they even have the original 1933 King Kong film!

Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum
Open: Noon – 4PM Saturday and Sunday
Telephone (510)494-1411
37417 Niles Boulevard
Fremont, CA 94536

Around the Bay, a film by Alejandro Adams

Viewed Saturday, June 12 at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, along with Passion Flower (review following).

Daisy rides the train with her brother Noah

Daisy rides the train with her brother Noah

If TS Eliot came back to life reincarnated as a filmmaker, he would be Alejandro Adams. This is what I wrote on my notepad halfway through this movie, and while I firmly believe this comparison, it also makes a review of his movies very difficult. How could you write a one page review of Eliot’s The Waste Land and make the average reader understand the greatness of the work? I missed this film when it played at Cinequest 2008, so I was very happy to have this second chance to see Adams’ first feature film.

Like The Waste Land, it is difficult to adequately review an Adams film without writing an entire 10 page essay. His films defy a one or two paragraph blurb; there is far too much going on, too much you have to figure out yourself. This is the beauty of his first two films; he will never tell you what is happening, and nothing will be explained to you. You are merely an observer in the film’s world and it is up to you to decide what the story is about. While this film had more of a beginning-middle-end configuration than did Canary, his second film, it is still just a section of time in the lives of these characters.

Around the Bay is a movie with four main characters: all four are protagonists of their own story, and antagonists in another. Such is real life. The four characters are all interrelated in some way: you have a father, a daughter and a son by two different ex-wives, and a girlfriend. The truth of this plot is that none of the four characters really know any of the others as they should, and they battle through the film trying, and failing, to understand each other. I could spend time explaining the intricacies of the plot, but the experience of watching the film is much more important than the details of the story.

Little snippets of scenes spliced here, there, and everywhere; some with jarring blackout cuts, some scenes and their dialogue simply overlapping each other. An unsettling puzzle of quiet scenes that ensure you will never know for sure what is coming next. Such a quiet movie with so little written dialogue, but it also contains so much noise; there is a constant stream of crickets or train noises drowning out everything else. Adams knows how to manipulate this minimalist use of sound to create a cacophony of unrest. If you took out all background sound and dialogue, and replaced it with Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, you would still have the same experience watching this film.

Instead of written dialogue, many scenes are spent watching the characters sit silently; it is up to us to read their thoughts. This can frustrate the average moviegoer, but is also the beauty of Adams’ films; like a great poem, the viewer must interpret what is going on in the minds of the characters. This contributes to the feeling of being a voyeur into this world. At times the screen just goes silent – often when the character of the father is almost experiencing some emotion, as if he’s trying to use silence to drown it before it surfaces.

Will Alejandro ever get rich with his films? Probably not with this film, but I don’t think he cares. He is a true artist-slash-genius such as many literary authors who were never given the fame they deserved while alive. I predict his films will be taught in film school one day, but this does not mean the average viewer should forget his name. If you ever get your hands on a DVD of Around the Bay I suggest you set aside 96 minutes of quiet time to sit and observe the entire film in one viewing. When it is over you will be happy that you gave the film the attention it deserves.

I also saw the documentary film Passion Flower, by Jarrod Whaley.

Skip Cisto prepares the tattoo for Ann Law

Skip Cisto prepares the tattoo for Ann Law

This was a beautiful film about a woman with a double mastectomy who decides to get a passion flower tattooed around the area of her scars. The woman, Ann Law, is a dancer who has decided against being fitted with prostheses or submitting to reconstructive surgery. The entire film is set in the tattoo parlor, and Ann arrives with friends while chatting happily. Throughout the film she explains her story as tattoo artist Skip Cisto proceeds with the process. We see everything from the drawing being transferred to her skin, to the coloring in of the tattoo. Cisto treats Ann and her story with great respect, almost reverence, and appears to be aware of the part he is playing in this metamorphoses. Ann even chats happily about the rain outside. She says that the rain makes her glad she’s there in the parlor, that if it were sunny she would want to be playing outside. But of course the rain is also a symbol of rebirth, and it marks the transformation of Ann from cancer survivor to a work of art. When it is over she stands up and admires with the rest of us her perfectly smooth torso that is now a canvas for the passion flower. There is no cringing or wincing from anyone on film or in the audience as she displays her bare chest, just as there is no longer any sign of a scar. Her metamorphosis into a whole woman again is complete.

Bay Area filmmaker Alejandro Adams‘ first feature, Around the Bay, appeared on several critics’ top ten lists at the end of 2008. His second feature, Canary, prompted Dennis Harvey of Variety to hail him as “an arresting talent.” Babnik, a Russian-language sex-trafficking thriller, is currently in post-production. Amity and Child of God are currently being filmed.

Jarrod Whaley of Oak Street Films currently resides in Chattanooga but preparing for his move to the Bay Area this summer. He has also written and directed the upcoming dark comedy Hell is Other People.

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