Archive for April, 2011

Oakland Museum Free First Sundays 2011 Continues

Oakland MuseumExplore and learn more about California’s environment, history, art and people at The Oakland Museum of California free first Sundays.

The museum has permanent Art, History, and Natural Sciences Galleries along with special exhibits. Note that the Natural Sciences Gallery is currently under renovation and will reopen in 2012.

The Art Collection features over 70,000 works from the early 1800s to the present that are by California artists. The collection includes California landscape paintings from the 1850s to the 1880s; Gold Rush era artwork; furniture and decorative arts from the Arts and Crafts period; figurative painting and sculpture; California ceramics and jewelry.

The History Department’s collections are in photography; California native baskets and other material; Gold Rush era artifacts; and material that relates to California technology, agriculture, business and labor, domestic life, and significant events.

Tour the building with members of the Museum’s Council on Architecture at 1:00 pm; take docent-led tours of the Art Gallery at 2:00 pm and the History Gallery at 3:00 pm. May’s Free First Sundays (5/1/2011) offers docent-led tours of the special exhibition Splendors of Faith/Scars of Conquest or the Art Gallery at 2:00 pm.

Michael C. McMillen: Train of Thought spans the 40-year career of the internationally renowned Southern California-based mixed-media artist, the exhibition features large-scale multisensory installations, assemblages, sculptures, paintings, drawings, and films that invite viewers into a made-up world, a skill for which McMillen is best known. The exhibit runs through August 14, 2011.

Arrive early, admission is free; however, tickets are required (first come first served basis). Free First Sundays are open to all Bay Area visitors.

Parking: enter the Museum garage entrance on Oak Street between 10th and 12th streets. Parking fees are $2.50/hour for the public, $1/hour for Museum visitors with validation. Bring your ticket to the Ticketing booth on Level 2 for validation.

The Museum is located one block from the Lake Merritt BART station (between 8th and 9th streets at Oak Street).

Oakland Museum of California
1000 Oak Street, 94607

First Sunday of the month
11:00 am to 5:00 pm

Spring in Guadalupe Gardens

The Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, the City, and a variety of sponsors interested in environmental issues put on a nice event today: Spring in Guadalupe Gardens. This was a great chance to enjoy spring weather, maybe pick up a few new plants for the garden, and see how the park is developing. For people with kids there were a bunch of booths with educational presentations on recycling, water conservation, and other environmental topics. On top of that, there was live music and other fun activities.

Shed House Bluegrass Band

Zero Bag Day/Bag Exchange on Earth Day

All Whole Foods Markets will save some trees on Earth Day.


In honor of the day Whole Foods will not “bag” up your purchases. It will be Zero Bag Day at Whole Foods.

Bring in your own reusable bags!

From 4pm to 7pm bring 10 plastic bags to the Whole Foods Market Blossom Hill and “American Assistance for Cambodia” will give you 1 free reusable Clementines Whole Foods Market Bag! (while supplies last)

And at their table (behind the customer service booth) sample a planet earth cookie.

Where: Whole Foods Market Blossom Hill

When: Earth Day – Friday, April 22nd – From 4pm to 7pm.

1146 Blossom Hill Road
San Jose, CA 95118
(408) 266-3700

American Assistance for Cambodia

KraftBrew Fest this Saturday

The folks (by which I mean Chris Esparza and friends) at Giant Creative and the Naglee Park Garage are on a roll, with another intriguing event at the San Jose Woman’s Club this weekend (last week they brought us the Bean Bag Film Fest).

This week’s event is the “Inaugural 2011 KraftBrew Fest”, a celebration of fine beer, food, and music. The event features nearly a dozen mostly local craft breweries and a bunch of Belgian imports, served in either a tasting size or a “full pour”. In addition there will be food for sale from the Naglee Park Garage, and a series of speakers talking about homebrewing and microbreweries.

Finally, there will be music provided by Hurricane Roses and Ben Henderson.

The best rundown of the event I’ve seen on line is at Better Beer Blog (web home of one of the homebrewing speakers).

  • What: Inaugural KraftBrew Fest
  • When: Saturday, April 23. Noon – 6 pm
  • Where: The San Jose Woman’s Club, 75 S 11th St, San Jose
  • How Much: Entry free, beer $2-$6, food $4-$8

An impressive production of CHICAGO brings a perfect commentary on current times

Shannon Self seeks fame as chorine Roxie Hart, Michael Mulcahy charms as slick lawyer Billy Flynn and Mary Kalita struts as vaudevillian Velma Kelly. Photo: Chris Ayers

The famous musical Chicago might be even more relevant today than when it was first produced on stage decades ago.  These days we move smoothly from Britney’s craziness to Tiger’s shenanigans to Lindsay’s legal woes to Charlie’s “winning”…  and no one really cares what these people have done, we just shell out our hard earned cash to hear stories of tiger blood and porn stars.  Until the next train wreck hits.  As the show says, “What the hell does innocence got to do with it?”

Marquee Productions presentation of Chicago, now playing at the Montgomery Theater in San Jose, is definitely not a train wreck, and still perfectly mirrors our current fascination with celebrity.  I can remember attending at least eight different live performances of Chicago in my life, plus the film, and it is still one of my very favorite shows.  Of course, it’s hard to mess up a show that revolves around sex and murder, with a stage full of scantily clad women and men thrusting and grinding to the Fosse style choreography.  This particular production, put on by Marquee Productions as a benefit for the Children’s Musical Theater, is not only a decidedly adult show that entertains on every level, but it really showcases the talents of the performers who have graduated from our own CMT.

Assistant Choreographer Kikau Alvaro strikes an iconic pose. Photo: Chris Ayers

Michael Mulcahy, who started with CMT forty years ago, is absolutely the star of this production as Billy Flynn.  He has an excellent stage presence and voice, and just the right touch of sinister smarminess.  He is possibly the best Billy Flynn I’ve ever seen.  Mary Kalita and Shannon Self also shine as Velma and Roxie, respectively, and I felt they presented a more realistic version of their characters than I have seen before.  In previous productions it always seemed that Velma was the established Vaudeville star, with Roxie the upstart newcomer. In this production they are presented on more equal footing, realizing – as in real life – that “established” means nothing, it’s all about the press of the day.  That is exactly what this show is about, so I’m very impressed to see this slightly new feel with Velma and Roxie.

At first I felt that Amos, played by Michael Johnson, was a little weak, but then he presented “Mr. Cellophane”.  His character came strongly to life with this song, as it should, and his excellent talents in this scene really emphasized the purpose with which he underplayed the role in the first act.  He was fantastic.  Also fantastic was D. Jaques, who played Mary Sunshine to transvestite perfection.  Kudos to Marquee Productions for including the cross dressed character and really not shying away from any of the adult themes.

Breana Taylor vamps as Annie. Photo: Chris Ayers

Kudos also go to the rest of the cast including the cell block and male dancers.  I could hardly take my eyes off Cynthia Pariente and Sarah Marino of the sexy cell block, and my guest was quite impressed with Breana Taylor.  But we were both impressed and quite enjoyed the entire cast of male dancers as well.  Although they were mostly chorus dancers, they were quite amazing and helped round out this production to the highest enjoyment level.

A huge thank you to director/choreographer Kevin R. Hauge for putting on this thoroughly entertaining show.  It was one of the most fun nights I’ve had in theater in recent memory.

All tickets are $30, and the small Montgomery Theater makes every seat a good one.  The show is a benefit for our local Children’s Musical Theater, and this production of adult performers shows what excellent training comes through the CMT. There are baskets at the exit doors for donations as well, and my guest and I dug into our purses to find every last scrap of cash we had.  It is definitely a worthwhile cause.



A Marquee Production


Through April 23
Montgomery Theater
271 S. Market Street, San Jose
Tickets available at or call 408-792-4111
Use promo code LUVIT for $5 off each ticket


Earth Day 2011 Weekend Events

Earth DayEarth Day on the Bay celebration at the Marine Science Institute is this Saturday April 16 from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

This free family friendly event will feature programs with tide pool animals, sharks, fish, plankton, along with fish and shark feedings. Touch a crab, fish, eel or snail. There also will be an exploration of Hawaiian ocean culture, an environmental information fair, arts & crafts, and more.

Marine Science Institute
500 Discovery Parkway
Redwood City, 94063

Saturday April 16, 2011
8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Admission: Free

Full Circle Farm’s annual Earth Day Festival this Sunday, April 17 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

An Earth Day celebration of all things fun, vibrant, and fiercely local here in Silicon Valley; this free festival features local food, local musicians, fun and games for all ages, tours of the Farm, and kids activities including: face painting, petting zoo, seed creations, veggie stamping, flower power bookmarks, and more.

Full Circle Farm
1055 Dunford Way
Sunnyvale, 94087

Sunday, April 17, 2011
10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Admission: Free

Coming up: Going Native Garden Tour

Visitors at the 2010 Going Native Garden Tour

A highlight for South Bay gardeners this weekend is the annual Going Native Garden Tour, which we’ve written about a couple of times before. This is a great chance to see how to build a beautiful garden from low-water California native plants. Gardens on the tour typically include everything from large estate-scale hillside gardens to small urban backyards.

The tour will be held on Sunday, April 17 from 10 am to 4 pm. Advanced registration is required to get the list of gardens on the tour, but there’s no charge for the event.

A Contagious Cacophony at STOMP! Excites, Entertains, and Energizes

Photo credit: Junichi Takahashi


Broadway San Jose brings one of the best deals in town to the Center for Performing Arts this week with STOMP. This amazingly energetic ode to the love of rhythm, music and dance will be in town only until Sunday, but it’s a show that no one in the family should miss.

It’s a fully complete entertainment extravaganza.  Eight muscled percussionists wordlessly dance and pound away on any conceivable item that might make a sound.   Each performer has their own character and personality that comes across even without words, and these characters continue storylines throughout the show as they joyously entertain with their music.

If you have never seen this show, throw away any preconceived notions you might have about it.  It’s not just the banging and clanging of metal garbage cans, although there is certainly that.  There are also incredibly choreographed syncopated dances with push brooms and giant tractor tires, and soothing music from lighters and match books.  Music is made with plastic bags, paper bags, soda cups, just about anything you can think of INCLUDING the kitchen sink.

It’s visual eye candy as well, from the colorful set to the constant lighting shifts to the very charismatic and handsome troupe of performers.  Six men and two women give everything they have to entertain the audience, and you will be quite amazed at the energy involved.  There were only a few short breaks for each performer, but they gave 100% every moment they are on stage – and then somehow manage to double their energy for the final number.

Photo credit: Steve McNicholas

But most of all these eight performers bring their love of music (and I’ve never met a percussionist who wasn’t drumming on everything in sight, every minute of the day) to every member of the audience, and hopefully, most especially, to the young people with their imaginations.  They quite explicitly show that music can be made from anything; from anything that makes the slightest, softest sound to anything that makes a head throbbing crash, and everything in between.  The creation and love and enjoyment of music, the medicine for the soul… this is what STOMP brings to its audience.

STOMP is not about banging trash cans.  It is amazing, genius choreography, it is extremely talented and attractive performers, it is imagination and beauty AND the love of music which is a quality from which everyone can benefit.  It also brings community service: Read to the end to find out how you can help “STOMP OUT HUNGER” when you see the show.

STOMP your way into the theater, and clap and snap your way out of it with a smile on your face and a rhythm in your step.  And by all means, bring your kids.

Broadway San Jose
WHEN:    April 12-17, 2011
WHERE: San Jose Center for the Performing Arts
255 Almaden Blvd, San Jose
TICKETS: Single tickets ($20-$69) can be purchased by calling (408) 792-4111 or visiting

Audiences can help to “STOMP OUT HUNGER” by entering the code word HUNGER when ordering tickets and a $5 donation will be automatically made to Second Harvest Food Bank–enough to provide 10 complete, nutritious meals. Bins will also be available at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, while the show is in residence, to collect canned and packaged foods. Foods most needed include: peanut butter, canned meat such as tuna, and meals in a can with pop-top lids (soup, stew, chili).  Collection cans will also be available in the lobby for monetary donations.

Like the first robin of Spring…

…these Andy Diaz posters tell us we’re entering a new election season.

So far, Barack Obama has declared for the US Presidency, and Diaz is apparently running for Senate. Now please let me sleep for another 12 months before anyone else declares for anything.

Body Worlds Vital

The set of Gunther von Hagens’ works, Body Worlds Vital, has enjoyed an amazing run in San Jose, but there is an end to everything, to good things as well.

This will be the shows final weekend in San Jose.

The museum will remain open until midnight on Saturday, April 23rd.

What people are saying about BODY WORLDS Vital!

Information from The Tech Museum:

BODY WORLDS Vital, which has received high marks in major media outlets and on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, closes April 24th, marking the success of yet another blockbuster that has attracted thousands of visitors to downtown San Jose and millions of dollars to the Silicon Valley neighborhood’s restaurants, hotels and shops. The exhibition heads next to the Science Center of Iowa.

“BODY WORLDS Vital has definitely provoked thought and inspired action toward living healthier lifestyles,” said Elizabeth Williams, vice president of Marketing, Membership and Sales. “Presented in explicit, vivid depictions, the exhibit leaves little to the imagination – illustrating how not to leave our health to chance.”

Developed specifically for the American audience to educate people on common diseases and preventive care, BODY WORLDS Vital is a specially curated collection made up of real human body plastinates and a large arrangement of individual organs, arterial configurations and translucent slices that give a complete picture of how the human body functions. Using multi-media installations as a backdrop, the exhibit shows the body in disease and distress by comparing healthy bodies to bodies that have succumbed to a host of illnesses and medical conditions.

As an added educational value, representatives with the Diabetes Society of Santa Clara Valley, the American Heart Association and Breathe Lung California will be on hand to answer related questions and provide healthy tips to visitors. The Diabetes Society of Santa Clara is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday, April 16. The American Heart Association, 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., and Breathe Lung California, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sunday, April 17.

BODY WORLDS Vital is the latest chapter in the HUMAN SAGA project – a series of curated museum blockbusters that began with exploration of the brain and neuroscience, cardiology and the heart, human development and longevity and aging. BODY WORLDS exhibitions have been hosted by more than 50 museums and venues in North America, Europe, and Asia – and seen by more than 32 million visitors worldwide.

The Tech Museum

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.