Archive for July, 2009

Hospital in Los Gatos Re-Opens

doctorCommunity Hospital of Los Gatos, which closed its doors back in April, has re-opened as El Camino Hospital Los Gatos.

El Camino Hospital purchased the former Community Hospital of Los Gatos then renovated the buildings, installed new medical equipment, and added a new electronic medical records system that ties into the system at El Camino Hospital Mountain View.

The hospital is having a community fair this Saturday, August1, where you learn about what is new and to meet staff members. There will be health lectures by local physicians, BBQ, face painting, teddy bear clinic, tours of emergency vehicles, and more.

El Camino Hospital Los Gatos Community Fair
815 Pollard Road
Los Gatos, 95032

Saturday, August1, 2009
11:00 am to 3:00 pm


Summer Film Series at the California Theatre

California Theatre

California Theatre

The best kept cinema secret in San Jose (even among typically well-informed local cineastes) is the summer Friday and Saturday evening programs at the California Theatre.  I recently spoke with filmmaker Alejandro Adams and Cinebanter podcaster Michael Vox about their trip to the Cal Theatre to watch PLAYTIME with fellow filmmaker Jarrod Whaley and Cinequest screenwriting competition winner Mary Szmagaj and her husband Bill.  The beautiful, refurbished Cal Theatre has shown films on its large screen for several years as part of the Cinequest Film Festival, but most film fans aren’t aware that at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, a classic film is unspooled in front of a small, but devoted group of viewers.

The price: $5.  The balcony: available.  The ushers: incredibly polite.  Saturday night popcorn price: free.

For the first time anyone can remember, popcorn and drinks were not only allowed, but encouraged. Take it from someone who has personally been told to put their water bottle away by Mr. Packard himself, this last piece of news is a big deal. Up in Palo Alto, the Stanford Theatre has been showing classic films for years, and now we have our own version of that program right on First Street, a few steps from Original Joe’s. Where else can you listen to a live organist play famous movie scores before the show starts? Where else can you sit in an actual full-sized balcony where the image on the screen will complete with the beautiful design and colors of the theatre itself?

This summer, the programming runs from the much-seen: LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, WEST SIDE STORY, SOUND OF MUSIC to the little-seen: PLAY TIME to the silents: KID BROTHER, BLACK PIRATE. This weekend, July 31-August 1, they are playing 1967’s CLEOPATRA.

The price can’t be beat and while watching, it is hard not to feel as if you’ve been transported back in time, when grand movie halls still existed. Do yourself a favor. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.

The complete summer schedule can be found here.

Revealed revealed?

San Jose Inside, a blog associated with Metro Newspapers and former mayor Tom McEnery, dropped a bomb on the local political blog scene with a post that claims to reveal the identity, or at least the team directing, combative political blogger “San Jose Revealed.”

Recently, the only somewhat Santa Clara-centric blog Mission City Lantern had been posting speculations about possible identities behind Revealed, but little conclusive evidence. In their latest post, Inside are effectively claiming that several of the people named by the Lantern are working together to direct Revealed’s blog, though admitting that a not-yet-identified third party may actually be writing Revealed’s words.

The people named by the Lantern and Inside are a fairly close group of advisers around former city councilmember Cindy Chavez, who ran for mayor in 2006. The Lantern specifically identified Revealed to be Philip Bump, formerly political director of the South Bay Labor Council, of which Chavez is currently CEO. In return, Revealed has posted a denial that the other blogs have him correctly identified.

I’ve always read Revealed as the kind of blogger who likes to poke a stick into a hornet’s nest, just to create some excitement. He has a certain group of local political figures who he regularly jabs at, and reading his stuff has been like watching over-the-top political rhetoric brought to the local stage. He strikes me as the “Rowdy” Roddy Piper of local politics. I always figured the people he took issue with were all grown-ups and could certainly stand up to Revealed’s somewhat clownish jeering.

On the other hand, I haven’t been reading Revealed long enough to see some of the more mean-spirited things Inside and the Lantern have pointed out, such as posting a map to the home of political aspirant (and gang prosecuting attorney) David Pandori’s. This, at least, clearly crosses the line from entertaining political bloviation to dangerous invasion of privacy.

Berkeley Kite Festival 2009

octopile-kitesWe are not talking about the type of kites you flew as a kid. We are talking giant creature kites and kites made from fine paper and bamboo along with an assortment of other kites.

The 22nd Annual Berkeley Kite Festival will take place this weekend (July 25-26) at the Cesar Chavez Park in the Berkeley Marina.

The Berkeley Kite Wranglers are the foremost giant creature kite team in the world with nearly 30,000 square feet of giant show kites in their collection. Watching a group of these giant kites fly in formation is stunning.

Highlighting this year’s festival is a group from the Sode-cho Kite-Flying Society of Hamamatsu, Japan, which will present its traditional Machijirushi kites, made from fine paper and bamboo. The Machijirushi kites used in a nearly 500 years old kite-fighting competition, the goal of which is to force the other kite out of the sky using just your kite.

For the kids there is free kite making (11:00 – 1:00) and kite flying lessons (11:00 – 4:00) and a designated area for families and their kites.

Event highlights include: world-record attempt for giant creature kites, team kite ballet, Japanese-style Rokkaku Kite Battle, humongous kites & windsocks, kite sales tent. manufacturers’ demonstrations, Taiko Drummers from Taiko Spirit, and more.

Bring your own picnic as food is usually expensive at most events.

Parking is $10.00 at the Berkeley Marina and of course, there will be traffic. An option would be to park on the other side of the freeway (near University and 6th) and use the walkway overpass to get to the park. The event is free.

AC Transit bus line 9 goes to the Berkeley Marina; line 9 is available from the Downtown Berkeley BART station.

22nd Annual Berkeley Kite Festival
Cesar E. Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina

Saturday and Sunday, July 25-26, 2009
11:00 am to 5:00 pm


Admission: Free

Founders Day Fandango

A quick heads-up: History San Jose’s annual Founders’ Day Fandango event is this Sunday, July 26.

Visit the History San Jose website for more details.

  • What: Reading of the Pueblo Charter, accompanied by music, singing, dancing, and crafts.
  • When: Sunday, July 26. Noon – 6 pm.
  • Where: Peralta Adobe-Fallon House Historic Site; 175 W. St. John Street, San Jose.
  • Cost: Free

Report unsafe rail crossings

Rail crossing at 7th and Jackson in Japantown.

Rail crossing at 7th and Jackson in Japantown.

If you’re a bike commuter, one of the most dangerous parts of your ride is probably that rail crossing. The one with broken pavement and giant potholes all around it and a Himalaya range of mounded up pavement running along each rail. To cross this track without landing on your face, you’ve got to pick your path carefully, and that might mean swerving out into the traffic lane to cross at a relatively flat spot.

In my case, that rail crossing is at the corner of 7th and Jackson Streets, just on the east edge of Japantown. Getting to my old job, it was on 10th Street, just north of Hedding. There’s probably a few crossings just as bad scattered around other parts of town too.

For years, whenever I mention these problem crossings to city staffers, they’ve told me they rely on Union Pacific railroad to maintain railroad crossings, and there’s little they can do to get them fixed. But just this week, I had a chance to mention that crossing again to a group of city transportation engineering managers, and I learned something new.

Jay Thorstensen from the Transportation department emailed me a day later and let me know its possible to contact UP directly to let them know about dangerous track crossings. Contact details are found on the UP website. Basically, for non-emergency track or crossing maintenance issues in California, the number is (916) 789-6114. That gets through to a real person, though its not clear how quickly he can actually respond to problems. I’m hoping at least that enough calls about a particularly problematic crossing can move it to the top of the list for repairs.

A new tool to fight graffiti

Graffiti in bathroom at Backesto Park

Graffiti in a bathroom at Backesto Park

Starting tomorrow, the San Jose Police Department will be providing a new tool to allow residents to help fight graffiti. A new web page will allow us to report graffiti, including uploading pictures.

SJPD will use the reports to identify taggers for further investigation. The photos will be kept in a database to ensure that when caught, taggers can be held accountable for more of their actual offenses.

I sure hope this works. There’s too much graffiti out there. For the city, it means parks and library workers are busy repainting things when they could be doing other important maintenance in their facilities. Small business owners are forced to pay for clean-up at their businesses. And for the rest of us, graffiti makes us feel like we live in a city run by gangs instead of citizens.

It’s ‘Play Time’ in San Jose


I am passionate about my film collection. I love them all, from ‘Bad Day at Black Rock‘ to ‘Harold and Maude‘, from ‘The Vanishing‘ to ‘The Last of Shelia‘, from ‘Tampopo‘ to ‘A Certain Smile’, and even my precious copy of the 1950 TV cartoon, ‘Crusader Rabbit‘.

‘Play Time’ (1967) is not yet in my collection, though I have been advised that the 70 mm version is best viewed big screen in the cinema. Thanks to Team San Jose and the Stanford Theater Foundation, ‘Play Time’, is showing in San Jose tonight.

See you there!
The California Theatre
345 South First Street, downtown San Jose.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
7:00 PM
Tickets: $5 (at the door only)

Rotten Tomatoes

Yo, If you Love Willow Glen… 3 PM Today


Head over to the Willow Glen Branch Library if you are looking for a way to amuse the kids, or if you need to learn a new party trick.

Kyle Zampaglione will be there to demonstrate his expert skill with the yo-yo.

Bring your yo-yo to the Willow Glen Branch Library
1157 Minnesota Ave, near Lincoln Avenue.
Saturday, July 18 at 3:00 p.m.
Yes, it’s free.

About the yo-yo

Moonfest 2009: From Apollo to LCROSS, and Beyond

moonfest09On Sunday July 19, NASA Ames will host Moonfest 2009 a celebration of all things related to the moon; including the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moonwalks and NASA’s Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission.

The Apollo 11 mission was the first manned mission to land on the Moon. In 1969 on July 20, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon, while Michael Collins orbited above.

The event will have a variety of hands-on activities and presentations by NASA and space industry experts. Some of the Moonfest exhibits and activities include:

Ask a Lunar Scientist
Ask NASA experts about their jobs. This will be a chance to informally interact with lunar/ space experts about their work, career paths, or other topics.

Small Spacecraft Division, NASA Ames Research Center
Visitors will get an overview of current and future Ames’ satellite missions, build their own little satellite, and have the chance to talk to people directly involved in those missions.

Moon Rocks
The real deal.

Model Rockets
Scale models of the Apollo Saturn V, scale models of other spacecraft from the Apollo era will be launched between noon and 2:00 pm at the airfield (shuttle buses will be available).

The Planetary Society allegedly will be handing out mini MoonPies.

Kids’ Activities for preschool through middle school will include puzzles, coloring contests, and quiz games.

There will be speakers from various backgrounds throughout the day (click name for time and topic): Lawrence Krauss, Anthony Colaprete, Susan Hackwood, Diane Wooden, and Donald Pettit.

Astronaut Donald Pettit is veteran of two spaceflights and lived aboard the Space Station for 5-1/2 months. Recently, he was aboard the STS-126 Endeavour Shuttle/Station assembly mission.

The event organized by the NASA Lunar Science Institute, a new organization that supplements and extends existing NASA lunar science programs and LCROSS. Follow them on Twitter.

Moonfest 2009
NASA Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, 94035

Sunday, July 19, 2009
12:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Admission: Free
Free parking, limited public transportation is available.

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