Archive for November, 2010

Women and Girls Thriving in the New Economy 2010

The Women & Girls 2010 Summit is a interactive forum to find ways to move women into education and training in non-traditional careers, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

This free event is Thursday (12/2/2010) at New Venture Hall, The Tech Museum.

Women are increasingly prominent in medicine, law and business, yet there are few women scientists and engineers. This forum provides an opportunity to address promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education especially for girls and other underrepresented populations along with reducing gender barriers in these fields.

Keynote Speaker: Victoria Plaut, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Law and Social Science, UC Berkeley


Alana Conner, Ph.D., Vice President, The Tech Museum

Isaura S. Gaeta, Global Director of Corporate Affairs, Intel Corp.

Barbara Kamm, President & CEO, Technology Credit Union

Alyssa Newman, Corporate Sustainability, SunPower Foundation

Online registration here.

The Tech Museum, New Venture Hall
201 South Market Street, 95113

Thursday, December 2, 2010
11:30 am – 1:30 pm

Downtown sports bars: not great for college football

The ClubHOUSE in downtown San Jose

I’ve been looking for a place to watch college football in downtown San Jose all season, and I found some good choices, but I’m still not sure I found a really great sports bar.

Today I watched the first half of the Cal-Washington game at Fourth Street Pizza, where you can get the classic football-watching combination of pizza and beer while watching the game on your choice on any of about a dozen screens.

I saw the second half of today’s game at the brand-new (open 3 weeks) ClubHOUSE restaurant and “sports lounge”. This place has a lot of potential, with friendly staff, a hip (maybe too hip for me) atmosphere, and a few different items on the menu. The beer selection includes Belgian brews you don’t see everywhere and a scotch ale that took the edge off a disappointing game. The main issue with the place is that they have plenty of tables, and plenty of tv screens, but somehow very few of the seats seem to be placed to give good views of the screens. If you’re sitting at the bar there’s only one screen, positioned way down at one end of the bar, to watch.

I saw the previous couple of weeks’ games at the San Jose Bar and Grill. Here, there’s a good beer selection, including Ranger from New Belgium Brewery, and the menu of sandwiches and burgers had some nice choices. If I were trying to save a buck, there were great special prices on chicken wings and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer during college football games this season—maybe they’ll be back next year. There’s good sightlines to 3 screens from pretty much anywhere at the bar. The bartenders were always friendly, but not intrusive.

Earlier in the season, I took in a couple of games at the Brit, which had the best crowds of any of these locations. For three games I watched there, there were always at least a couple of other parties in the place, which is more than the other bars had. Usually there was a pack of 2-3 regulars at the bar trading jokes with the bartenders, which gave the place a friendly feel. Food here runs toward pub grub, including shepherd’s pie and fish & chips, as well as more regular American bar fare.

What all of these places lacked, including the Brit, is a real crowd of enthusiastic customers getting into the games. Even a crowd watching a different game from me would have been something. It’s hard to get really into a game if you’re cheers are going to be echoing across an empty bar, or getting you looks from people who’re just looking for a quiet lunch or drink. It might be different during a Sharks game or during Sunday football, but college football just doesn’t seem to be this town’s game.

I know there are some options farther afield, like Double D’s in Los Gatos, or the Old Pro in Palo Alto, but I’d really like to find a place I can walk home from. I know I missed the Blue Chip on South First Street; but otherwise, where should I check out for an enthusiastic college sports crowd on a Saturday afternoon next season?

December show round-up

December is a lighter month in terms of scheduled shows, but that just makes it easier to attend them all!
These are the shows Metblogs plans to attend and review this month:

Backwards in High Heels
The San Jose Repertory Company
November 24 – December 19
The remarkable life of the legendary actress Ginger Rogers comes to life onstage!
This intimate musical dances its way through Ginger’s life with unforgettable music, show-stopping dance numbers and a captivating story that chronicles her journey from hometown to Hollywood and from one love affair to another. Best known as Fred Astaire’s dance partner, Ginger defied her overly-protective mother to become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars and one of the industry’s first women to demand equal pay. Funny, moving and a visual feast, Backwards In High Heels is a toe-tapping, swirling, gliding account of her ambitious public and private life.

A Wonderful Life (Musical)

A Wonderful Life (MUSICAL)
Hillbarn Theatre
December 2 – 19
Frank Capra’s film classic has been brought to vibrant theatrical life through the remarkable collaboration of Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winner Sheldon Harnick and Grammy and Emmy Award-winner Joe Raposo. The story of George Bailey and his wonderful life in Bedford Falls remains a timeless fable of dreams, disillusionment and the power of love. An uplifting chronicle of the extraordinary lives of ordinary folk, A Wonderful Life exhilarates the mind and heart as it celebrates the innate goodness in us all.  Memorable songs include One of the Lucky Ones, In a State and Christmas Gifts.

San Jose Short Film Festival
Camera 3 Cinemas
December 9, 11, 12
If you can’t wait for Cinequest 21 to begin (March 1) here is a great festival that will feed your film hunger: Presented by Emerging Artist Productions, the Second Annual San Jose Short Film Festival is dedicated to honoring and promoting short films while providing an outlet where local and national filmmakers, scriptwriters and all-around movie mongers can showcase their creative talent.

Ballet San Jose
December 11 – 26
I don’t believe we will be attending this show, but no Holiday show list is complete without mentioning our own beautiful Nutcracker ballet.   This triumphant tale of Maria and her beloved nutcracker will delight audiences, young and old alike.  The theater itself is a wonderland of surprises, replete with lavish lobby decorations, a boutique of ballet and holiday treasures, choirs singing carols, the “Pocket Lady” passing out free toys, and characters from the show posing for photos and patrons.  A Not-to-be-Missed Treasure of the Season, and a Gift for the Holidays!


The Color Purple proves a perfect holiday production

“Push Da Button” featuring Taprena Augustine (Shug Avery). Photo by Scott Suchman.

The Color Purple is an award winning book by Alice Walker, and an excellent and amazing read that I highly recommend (ditto the 1985 film).  But with much disturbing and depressing subject matter, I was not sure how successfully Broadway would manage to adapt this book into a musical — or if I wanted to start out the Holiday Season by watching it.  Even so, it was one of the shows I was looking forward to the most this season.

Dayna Jarae Dantzler (Celie) and Traci Allen (Nettie). Photo by Scott Suchman.

I definitely was not expecting to exit the Center for Performing Arts Tuesday with a smile on my face, but that is exactly what happened.   From the very beginning of the show the CPA was filled with bodies swaying to the music, toe tapping and jiving in the seats.  The show is emotional and moving, sexy, violent, sweet, heartbreaking and heartwarming.  The show does touch on the hardships that Celie must endure through much of her life, and the horrifying events that lead up to her losing her children and her sister at age 14 (yes, 14).  Most people who have read the book or seen the film will always remember the truly horrendous things that happened to her – but many people do not remember on what an uplifting note the story ends.  And this ending is only the exclamation at the end of a very uplifting story.  The unredeemable are redeemed in the story, the downtrodden are lifted up, and the meek rise to the top.  No one rides off into the sunset to live happily ever after here, but hope and faith are restored to Celie, and there was not a dry eye in the audience when it was over.  The last few minutes of the show were filled with sniffling and inconspicuous eye wiping – but they were all happy tears!  What better Thanksgiving story than this – if Celie has something to be thankful for, so do we all.

The production itself is the best of the season so far.  Every detail was top notch; it is hard to pick out any one thing to gush over.  Set design, lighting, costumes, it was all great…  but this is the first time I was really, really impressed with the choreography.  Donald Byrd was nominated for a 2006 Tony award for The Color Purple, and it is evident why.  He impressively draws the audience in to participate in a lively church service in the South, we work on the farm with the handsome, shirtless field workers, we join in with the joyful dances of the 20s to the 40s, and then we sit in awe as we watch the native African dancers perform their unfamiliar but breathtakingly beautiful moves.  Every dance was simply outstanding.

The cast performs “African Homeland”. Photo by Scott Suchman.

Every single actor is incredible in the show.  Everyone from stars Dayna Jarae Dantzler (Celie), Edward C. Smith (Mister), Taprena Augustine (Shug Avery) and the awesome Pam Trotter (Sofia), down to every single background actor – it was all played to perfection.  There were often anywhere between 17 – 22 people on stage at a time, but they were all set in smaller groups playing perfect individual characters so that you wanted to take in every individual little scene at once. The singing, dancing and acting talent on stage at any one time was just unbelievable.

The show is playing through November 28 and I definitely recommend you take a break from the holiday rush to see it.  It was a packed house on Tuesday and everyone had a great time.  Despite some disturbing content, it is really a joyous story about love and triumph over life’s obstacles and the restoration of faith; it is about forgiveness and redemption, and most of all, never ever ever giving up hope.

It is my favorite of Broadway San Jose’s shows so far this season. Go see it. You will leave the theater happy and ready for the Holidays.

The Color Purple
San Jose Center for the Performing Arts
November 23-28
Tickets:  415 792-4111
Not recommended for young children. Fine for high school age at parent’s discretion. Some scenes depicting or insinuating sexual, physical and psychological abuse.

700 Turkeys for the Needy

Yesterday, my husband John and I were at Britannia Arms pub (5027 Almaden Expressway, San Jose CA) with a crowd of other wet volunteers helping with their 8th annual “Brit Turkey Drive”.* Michael North and John McKay and pub regulars collected enough donations to buy 700 Thanksgiving turkeys to distribute to the hungry of our community. The turkeys and other food will be given out through the programs of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and Santa Maria Urban Ministry (SMUM) of San Jose. Dignitaries helping with yesterday’s delivery and distribution included The Very Reverend David Bird (Dean of the Cathedral), San Jose Vice Mayor Judy Chirco, and SMUM’s Executive Director, Rev. Lawrence Robles. Channel 7 ABC news was there to film the story.

There were several dozen individual turkeys waiting in the freezer of the Britannia Arms but the morning’s drama was provided by the arrival of four large pallets of frozen birds emerging one by one from the frosty mist of a large delivery truck. Within minutes of the last touchdown on the parking asphalt, individual turkeys and boxes of turkeys were passed from arm to arm into the backs of cars and trucks driven by volunteers to the programs waiting to distribute them. Three cheers for the generosity of the Britannia Arms!

The Channel 7 cameraman said that they might be back to film SMUM serving a full turkey dinner to 200 homeless people under one of San Jose’s bridges – later this month.

* “The Brit Almaden is your authentic neighborhood San Jose British Pub, restaurant, live music venue and Sports bar.”

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Images Copyright 2010 by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher

Downtown Ice opens

A tradition for the past 15 years, Downtown Ice has returned to the circle of palms near the San Jose Museum of Art. The rink will be open from tonight until mid-January. A grand opening ceremony featuring Olympian Kristi Yamaguchi will be held Monday, November 22, at 5 pm. Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation is a co-sponsor of the ice rink this year.

Despite a sprinkling of rain, a few brave families were out on the opening night to take to the ice. Most of the kids on the ice were still learning to keep their skates underneath them, but I’m sure they’ll be zipping around the palms by the end of the season.

Roosevelt Radio at the Cupertino Brit

San Francisco-based indie rock newcomers Roosevelt Radio will open Saturday night’s playbill at the Cupertino Britannia Arms with “punchy, high-energy indie rock” (I’d say borderline pop) with “irresistible synth lines”. The sound on their video “Midnight” (see below) is snappy and the lyrics are catchy. But I might prefer the raw energy and what sounds like Elvis Costello-influenced opening bars and chorus of the Antique Heart live video, even if the recording sound is nothing to shout about.


Roosevelt Radio has also just released an EP, which you can find on their website.

Other bands appearing on Saturday night are The Cryptics, Everyday Tragedy, and Cadent.

  • When: Saturday, Nov 20, 9 pm – ????
  • Where: The Britannia Arms of Cupertino, 1087 S. De Anza Blvd., San Jose CA
  • How much: $5
  • For who: 21 and over

San Jose loses its champion pro sports team

As reported by Center Line Soccer, a mere two months after winning the championship of the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league, San Jose’s FC Gold Pride will cease operations for financial reasons. The team’s private owners had sought a buyer for the club, but were unable to find anyone willing to support likely million-dollar-per-year losses. The team apparently lost about $5 million in the two years it played. The WPS is expected to announce the league will continue in the 2011 season, despite the loss of its top team.

Keep an eye on Center Line Soccer for further details about the fate of the team and its players.

The Opera Novice goes to TOSCA

But this time I took a friend who was more familiar with opera!  And she thought it was beautiful.

Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste as the fiery opera diva in Puccini's passionate, political thriller Tosca at Opera San José. Photo by Chris Ayers

The story of Tosca is a tragedy of grand proportions:  there are tortured political prisoners, executions, shattered romances, and the tragic death of almost every major character.  Even the set designs are dark and gloomy, though still rich and sumptuous.  But to me, the novice, it seemed that this opera was much more about the singing and the music than the story.  While this might be good news for the seasoned opera lover, it was a little difficult for me to pay attention.  My loss, absolutely.

But there is nothing about Tosca to complain about.  The music really was beautiful, perfection as always at Opera San Jose, and the singing too was amazing.  This was my first time seeing Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste (Tosca) in a role and she was certainly a treat.  Her huge expressive eyes made her appear vulnerable and childlike, however Tosca really was anything but.  I loved her voice and the petulant way she directed her lover to repaint the eyes of a portrait on the church wall.  Jean-Baptiste also gives Tosca a certain ferocious quality, and a will to get done whatever is required.  Tosca is quite the tragic heroine.

I thought the singing and music were beautiful as well, but Tosca might be less newbie-friendly than my previous two operas.  It is slightly less exciting or overtly entertaining.  On the other hand, it seemed the audience of opera aficionados was much happier with Tosca than with the previous two operas.  My guest, the opera-lover, was overjoyed to finally see this opera, but I was just not so excited about this one as I have been with the others.  Both of these summations can be correct.

My recommendation for this one:  Opera fans should absolutely go see it!  The knowledgeable opera critics I have read appear to love it and as far as my untrained ear could tell it was fabulous.  My fellow Opera Newbies might want to wait for the next show:  The Barber of Seville. I am sure that one will be a delight for us all!  (But don’t let me stop you — go see it and report back your own opinion!)

by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica
Based on the drama
La tosca by Victorien Sardou
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
November 13 – 28, 2010
California Theatre

345 South 1st Street, San Jose
Ticketing Information

Karaoke Tuesdays


Every Tuesday night something completely different happens at The California Billiard Club.

Players and non players alike can choose a song title out of the book and then give the Karaoke a try.

Two players, Don and Dan, put down their cues long enough to entertain the room.


The California Billiard Club
881 E. El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA
Telephone: (650) 965-3100

Karaoke Tuesdays – 9 PM Start


Coors Light Draft – $2.50 (4 PM till 12 AM)

College Students 1/2 off Pool Time (6 PM till 2 AM)

All on Tuesdays !

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