Archive for July, 2010

Ukulele Party in Japantown

Herb Ohta, Jr., played with Ukulele Source's Smiley Kai, and Rodney from Ukulele Jams.

Japantown’s Ukulele headquarters, Ukulele Source, celebrated its two-year anniversary today with a ukulele party outside the store that lasted through most of the afternoon.

Rodney from the nearby Ukulele Jams ukulele school, a man who apparently has little use for a last name, played with some of his students. The ukulele band from the Wesley United Methodist Church just down the block brought more than a dozen uke’s. Dancers joined a couple of the songs to add a kinetic element.

Finally, Herb Ohta, Jr., played for nearly an hour to wrap up the day. Ohta’s website bills him as “one of the world’s finest ukulele virtuosos”; and it’s hard to deny his skill, though I’m hardly a connoisseur of the ukulele. Where mention of the ukulele brings to mind the sound of slow strumming, Ohta’s style featured mostly picking. From browsing his website, this may be a style pioneered by his father, known as Ohta-san, in the 1950′s.

Easily a hundred people attended the party to hear a bit of island music. I only heard about it Friday in an email from Carol at Roy’s Station to my local neighborhood newsgroup, but this was definitely one of the funnest events I’ve had pop up on short notice for quite a while.

Berkeley Kite Festival 2010

We are not talking about the type of kites you flew as a kid. We are talking giant creature kites as big as a barn along with an assortment of other kites.

The annual Berkeley Kite Festival & West Coast Kite Championships will take place this weekend (July 31 and August 1) 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 the 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.

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, worlds largest octopus kite, 20,000 sq. ft. of giant creature kites from New Zealand, kite sales tent, manufacturers’ demonstrations, Taiko Drummers, 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. Parking prohibited along either sides of major roads in the Marina including University Avenue, Marina Boulevard, and Spinnaker Way. Vehicle access will also be significantly restricted on Marina Boulevard and Spinnaker Way.

The City will exercise zero tolerance for cars parked illegally or on unpaved surfaces.

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

Berkeley Kite Festival
Cesar E. Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina

Saturday, July 31 & Sunday, August 1
11:00 am to 5:00 pm

510-535-KITE

Admission: Free
Parking: $10.00

heyyaa! Read about Asian American Entertainment

heyyaa!
heyyaa! is a new and very sharp looking entertainment news website based in Sunnyvale, focusing on Asian American Entertainment. That means entertainment that appeals to young Asian Americans, and it includes local and national Asian American entertainers, as well as popular music, film, and video coming to the US from Asia. Recent articles have highlighted bay area artists, and their coverage of Left Coast Live performers April Chase and Kero One, and an LCL link on Facebook, is how I caught on to them.

heyyaa! has been online as a YouTube channel since May, and on their own website since June. Producer Yick Lee is a Hong Kong-born Californian with a degree in biomedical engineering, but also experience working in TV. Video host Mae Cruz is a San Jose native who’s also a full-time student in communications and psychology, and has previous acting and modeling experience.

In addition to local coverage, recent posts have covered k- and c-pop, Asian American theater, and the difficulty of Asian American actors to get strong roles in Hollywood, even when the source material is Asian-themed. In addition to their own video reporting and writing, they have posted a translation from a Chinese-language magazine, and also have a BBS area for readers to join in.

I asked site producer and founder Yick Lee in an email about the motivation for the site. She told me, “heyaa! aims to provide entertainment news from an Asian American angle and to support Asian American artists who deserve exposure to a larger audience”, but also, “many young Asian Americans now enjoy Asian entertainment featuring Asian artists as much as they enjoy mainstream entertainment”. Of course, “by covering the Asian pop scene in English, not only do we reach out to fans residing in America, but all English-speaking populations globally,” so the site has a huge potential to grow. The website has an appeal for new contributors, but Lee told me they’re more focused on quality and focus than immediate growth.

I also asked about trends in Asian American entertainment that heyyaa! will be following, and Lee wrote back, “heyyaa! is particularly interested in original productions (mini web series, music, music videos) by Asian-American artists, especially those released on the web. Currently, we notice a trend where more young East Asian artists are attempting to enter the US market while some Asian American artists are thriving in the Asian entertainment circle.”

I wondered if as it grows the site might shift focus from the local scene to national and international entertainers, and Lee wrote me, “given that we are based in the SF Bay Area, it is easier for us to be aware of interesting things that are happening locally. In the future, we would love to cover national/international events and even more big name celebrities. However, heyyaa! will continue to support rising Asian American artists by introducing their works to our readers/viewers. We strive to be the outlet for Asian American talents recognized locally or internationally.”

heyyaa! looks to me like a great addition to the local (and world) web scene, and they’re covering an area that’s often overlooked by outsiders in the mainstream media. I’ll be reading and watching them to keep up with Asian American music and film.

SJPD: EveryBlock – Crime Reports – Stats & Maps, and More

Sometimes you just want to know what is going on around you. You saw the PD flash by with their lights on, or you heard sirens in the night…

* Enter a ZIP Code on EveryBlock and a neighborhood will open up to police calls for service, medical calls, alarm, and traffic/accident calls. There will be published media reports, real estate listings, and restaurant inspections.

* Crime Reports will open your eyes. Just look at all of the assaults marked by the As, and the Vs where some poor soul had their car stolen…

* The official SJPD Crime Statistics and Maps.

* California Megan’s Law: Please go over the information and read the disclaimer. Pay special attention to Legal and Illegal Uses.
The site is available to protect the public – not to be used to harass an offender.

Food 4others Drive

The second Food 4others Drive benefiting the Second Harvest Food Bank will take place on Saturday, August 7th.

The food bank serves 236,500 people every month. One in four people in our own county are at risk for hunger. The Food 4others Drive will conduct a one-day city-wide food drive. The goal is to collect 20,000 pounds of food in just eight hours.

Can you help? Volunteers are needed to pass out fliers to interested incoming customers and help receive donations at participating grocery stores. Donations can be dropped into the barrels located on site. All of the resources – fliers, poster, name tags, barrels, etc. will be provided for volunteers.

This event will take place from 9 AM to 5 PM on 8/7/2010

Together we can make a difference in our community!

Please let April know if you can volunteer during this time. She will give you all the details.

April Hunt

(408) 717-1488

April@4others.org

Food 4others

facebook ~ Food 4others

Badwater for Good Water Walk

Check back with San Jose Metblogs for a list of participating grocery stores taking donations on Aug. 7th.

Festa Italiana Street Fair 2010

This Sunday, July 25, is the 20th Festa Italiana Community Street Fair in downtown San Mateo.

The Street Fair features art, handmade goods, Italian cuisine, entertainment on three stages, chalk art gallery, antique cars, Bocce Ball, along with other events and activities.

Booths include fashion items, hats, scarves, not to mention toe rings and a plethora of jewelry. You may also find kitchen items, children’s items, and toys, even birdcages.

You cannot imagine having a street fair without face painting, kettlle korn, and snow cones.

Festa Italiana Community Street Fair
North B Street between Tilton and 2nd Avenues, San Mateo

Sunday, July 25, 2010
10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Parking, driving directions, and public transportation (PDF)

$1,453 Refunded for FEMA Mistake

IMG_1399

Hooray! Today, after over a year of protesting, we were finally refunded the full $1,453 for flood insurance we had to buy because of a FEMA map mistake. Sometimes, you can fight City Hall and win!

On 7 July 2009, my husband and I received a letter from our mortgage holder that FEMA (the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency) had changed their FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) such that our house was now in a high-risk SFHA (Special Flood Hazard Area). We were required to buy annual flood insurance for the life of our mortgage loan because of FEMA’s map change.

Our house was built around 1930 next to the Guadalupe River, also known as the Lewis Canal in what is now the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose, California. The Lewis Canal is named after its engineer, Frank Lewis (who was husband to Martha “Patty” Reed Lewis of the Donner Party). The canal was built about a hundred years ago. The property line behind our house runs down the middle of the river and includes a steep embankment that rises five feet above ground level and then drops twenty feet to the river water.

How did the FEMA map of a hundred-year-old canal and eighty-year-old house change? FEMA maps used to be drawn on a plain background. Some clever person decided to take the old maps (as is – with no change) and superimpose the lines on a background of satellite photos. The resolution of the original map and the satellite map were different. The old map was drawn on square grids and the satellite photos were taken with a round lens – so there was some mismatch and alignment error. A flat picture of the round Earth will always have such errors.

The creation of the new map caused the mortgage company’s flood area determination company (LPS National Flood) to review the situation of the mortgaged properties which might be effected. Although FEMA’s new FIRM did not include any new information with regard to the relative location of our house and the river, the new picture’s misalignment appeared to make the line indicating our house touch the line of the river. That our house is ten feet from the edge of the embankment’s retaining wall did not matter. Taking the most conservative approach, the mortgage company required us starting immediately to pay $1,453 annually for flood insurance for the duration of the mortgage.

We talked with our mortgage company with no good results. We contacted FEMA with no good results. We contacted LPS National Flood with no good results. We talked with the insurance company with no good results. Everyone said that even though the new map did not correctly reflect the physical circumstances of our house and the river, the mortgage company could require us to buy flood insurance in perpetuity based on the map. We signed up for flood insurance and continued to fight.

We eventually hired J.P. Tanner of Scotts Valley to work with FEMA to correct their map. We learned in the process that hundreds of other San Jose home owners along the river were in the same bureaucratic map-insurance mess as we were. Eventually, in April 2010, FEMA issued a LOMA (Letter of Map Amendment) formally removing our house from the flood zone. It took until today for our mortgage and insurance companies to issue paperwork and send a refund check.

New (old) building grand opening at History Park

The Andrew P. Hill House

The Andrew P. Hill House (photo: VPA)

History San Jose and the Victorian Preservation Association of Santa Clara Valley (VPA) are holding a grand opening this Sunday for the Andrew P. Hill House at History Park.

The house was the home of Andrew P. Hill, a San Jose resident and co-founder of the Sempervirens Club, which was responsible for the creation of California’s first state park at Big Basin in 1902. The house was moved from its location on Sherman Ave in 1997, and underwent restoration led by the VPA over the following 12 years. VPA also collected period artifacts and items from the Hill family to exhibit in the house. The house was opened to visitors in April, 2009.

The grand opening event will feature a ribbon-cutting, antique cars, tours of the house, and costumed actors. It runs from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 25. History Park is at the south end of Kelly Park, on Senter Road, near Alma Ave.

Local storyteller presents “Remedial Girl”

masks

The Adventures of Fat Woman and Remedial Girl is the blog and audio book of local storyteller Sarah Lau. The audiobook is based on Lau’s live performances, in a style she calls “story theater”. She compares it to an author’s reading without the reading, or improv with a script. “The Adventures of Fat Woman and Remedial Girl” combines straight narration with voice acting to present the story of 11-year-old Louise Pang, trying to make sense out of the confusing world around her and struggling to live up to the high expectations of her family.

Lau had written the stories as a creative writing project that developed into a novel. She created the story theater format when she acquired a new interest in acting, and then began recording audio-only performances to allow her to put the whole story in one piece, as opposed to the shorter excerpts she was able to find stage venues for. She has brought the project to the web over the past year or so.

“The Adventures of Fat Woman and Remedial Girl” is, like a lot of good stories, driven by characters — Lousie, her friends, her family, and the inevitable bullies of childhood — and Lau’s dramatic style brings them all to life. Asked about influences, she mentioned Flannery O’Connor, and the wide variety of characters in her work. The other key element in “Remedial Girl” is humor. I haven’t yet heard the complete collection, but I’ve sampled beginning, middle, and end, and every chapter combined at least a good chuckle with the drama of 11-year-old Louise’s life.

You can start listening to The Adventures of Fat Woman and Remedial Girl with the prologue, or go to the site main page and download multiple chapters at a time for listening on your portable MP3 player. Lau has “semi-firm” plans to perform at the open mic at either The Venuez in Santa Clara (no web page, see Yelp!) on July 27, or at Red Rock Coffee Company in Mountain View on July 26. She’s also available to perform story theater in a 30-45 minute presentation for schools, libraries, community groups, or not-for-profits.

Sweet Mango

CINDY LIU

I was curious when I first heard about Sweet Mango from Katy. Since it opened, and soon became the talk of the town (Willow Glen), I grew even more interested in giving Sweet Mango a try.

I was welcomed graciously by the owner, Cindy Liu, who then she assisted me with my choices. I told her that I would be doing take-out and needed one main dish.

I took home a bit more than planned. I chose Mixed Vegetables & Tofu for the $7.50 lunch price, and then the Samosas at $5.00 looked too good to pass up. And listed just below was Roti prata an Indian bread dipped in curry sauce. For another $2.50 – why not?

Ok, it wasn’t a balanced meal, but I enjoyed every bite.

Sweet Mango
Chinese & Burmese Cuisine

1040 Willow Street
San Jose, CA 95125
Open 7 Days A Week

Sunday – Thursday
11:00 AM – 2:30 PM
4:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Friday – Saturday
11:00 AM – 2:30 PM
4:30 PM – 9:30 PM

TEL: (408) 293-2268
FAX: (408) 293-5599

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