Archive for April, 2016

Finding a New Earth

Wednesday, May 11, Stephen Kane, Ph.D., will discuss Finding a New Earth: Exoplanets and the Habitable Zone, an illustrated, non-technical lecture in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College.

A key to finding a new Earth will be to identify rocky planets that occupy the Habitable Zone of their stars.

Dr. Kane has been researching planets around other stars for more than 20 years and has discovered and characterized hundreds of exoplanets.

Dr. Kane is professor of astrophysics at San Francisco State University (SFSU). He is also the chairman of the Kepler Mission Habitable Zone Working Group and the director of the SFSU Planetary Research Laboratory.

The lecture is free, but there is a charge of $3 for parking on campus and exact change is appreciated.

Smithwick Theater at Foothill College
12345 S El Monte Ave, Los Altos, 94022
May 11, 2016
7:00 p.m.

Admission: Free
Parking $3.00

A Streetcar Named Desire – Opera Style!

Opera San José resident artist Matthew Hanscom as “Stanley” and guest artists Ariana Strahl as “Blanche” and Stacey Tappan as “Stella”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Opera San José resident artist Matthew Hanscom as “Stanley” and guest artists Ariana Strahl as “Blanche” and Stacey Tappan as “Stella”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Opera San Jose has really been outdoing itself this year, as it does every year.  February’s Carmen was outstanding, and now they have taken a dip in the theatre-pond, bringing us Mr. Tennessee Williams. Did you know A Streetcar Named Desire was also an opera by André Previn? Well there was no way I was going to miss this. I was so excited to see this show, in a completely different way than I usually am.

As soon as you step into the California Theatre you can see this opera is going to be different. The curtain was already up and there were actors already on stage sitting on chairs! And not a velvet gown in sight. These were manly men, shirtless and dirty, drinking from bottles as they lounged in the chairs waiting for us to sit. Also, the orchestra was behind the stage. All of this was so different from anything I’d seen at the opera before, I was bouncing in my chair waiting for it to begin.

Opera San José resident artists Matthew Hanscom as “Stanley” and Kirk Dougherty at “Mitch”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Opera San José resident artists Matthew Hanscom as “Stanley” and Kirk Dougherty at “Mitch”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Now I’ll be honest. It had to grow on me. When Ariana Strahl as Blanche DuBois strolls onstage and starts singing my mind had a terribly difficult time connecting what I was seeing to what I was hearing.  My heart fell just a tiny bit as I realized I might not enjoy it as much as I had anticipated. But the music was outstanding, it has the feel of a 1950s film score.  And of course the story of Blanche, and Stanley, and STELLAAAAAAAAA is fantastic no matter what, so I sat and tried to enjoy the show as much as I could.

Fear not, it was already growing on me before the first intermission (there are two).  And it wasn’t long before I realized Streetcar is actually your typical opera story: the male is somewhat of a… trying to come up with a family friendly adjective here… jerk.  Yeah, let’s call him that.  So your main male character is a big, fat, jerk, and the main female that the story revolves around is basically a whore.  Sigh.  And because Streetcar is no Comedy, we know what’s going to happen to the “whore” in the end.

If you’ve never seen or read Streetcar in any version before, note that this is not a show for young children. There is talk of homosexuality, suicide, “loose women”, domestic violence and a choreographed rape.  The setting is a tough time in a tough neighborhood where men earn the money and the women do what they’re told. But it is also an amazing, touching story, and the entire production is done extremely well.

Stacey Tappan is a luscious Stella, Matthew Hanscom is as manly a Stanley as you can get, and I adored Kirk Dougherty as Mitch. But another standout for me was Cabiria Jacobsen as Eunice. She has a smaller role, but it was a great one.

Opera San José resident artist Kirk Dougherty as “Mitch” and guest artist Ariana Strahl as “Blanche”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Opera San José resident artist Kirk Dougherty as “Mitch” and guest artist Ariana Strahl as “Blanche”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

The finale of the show at opening night got the standing ovation that it deserved.  From the catchy, more “modern” music, to the 1950s era costumes, to our amazing resident opera singers, and even the sparse, perfect staging, this is an outstanding production. It did grow on me, and then it bloomed, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see the show. I think the show might be a very good introduction to opera newbies, but the music and voices are the usual perfection to please long-time opera fans as well. Perhaps even some English majors can get their noses out of their books and get out for a night to see a story really brought to life.

I’m so glad the show is going to be playing all the way through May 1. It is a great show to end the season with, while we look forward to next year which will include:

Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor
Rossini’s The Barber of Seville
Puts & Campbell’s Silent Night
Puccini’s La bohème

Don’t miss this amazing modern opera at the California Theatre.

A Streetcar Named Desire
Opera San Jose
playing through May 1
Tickets

 

Jazz on the Wharf

Santa Cruz WharfSunday, April 24, 2016 enjoy jazz on the century old half-mile Santa Cruz Wharf. This free family-friendly event starts at 11:00 a.m. on the Wharf Stage.

The wharf has shopping, dining and recreation.

For adults, a variety of wines will be available for sale, proceeds benefit the Friends of Parks and Recreation.

Parking is available on the Santa Cruz Wharf — parking rates

Jazz on the Wharf
21 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, 95060
(831) 420-5273

04/24/2016 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Admission: Free

Northern California Regional Botball Tournament

botballMiddle and high school aged students in the Bay Area pit their home-made autonomous robots (no remote controls allowed) against each other in the Northern California BotBall tournament Saturday, April 16, 2016. Students use science, engineering, technology, math, and writing skills to design, build, program and document robots in a hands-on project.

The robot’s actions are based on information from the sensors, combined with the computer program (C, C++, and Java) written by the students in advance. Botball robots are completely autonomous and rely on this computer programming to start, stop, and maneuver on the game board.

The free to watch tournament begins 10:00 am and is held at the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field.

Tournament Event Schedule:
• 8:00 am- Registration / Open Practice
• 10:00 am – Seeding Rounds Begin
• 1:00 pm – Lunch Break
• 5:30 pm – Awards Presentation Begins

Northern California Botball Tournament 2016
NASA Ames Research Center
N152 Conference Building, Moffett Field

Saturday, April 16, 2016
10:00 am
Admission: Free

Getting there — Go on the US 101 freeway to the Moffett Field exit, then:
Show your drivers license to the guard at the gate, and say you are attending the Botball Tournament in the NASA Conference Center, N152.
You can get a map at the visitor’s control, or just drive straight, down Clark Rd to just before the Shuttle model, turn right on Wescoat Rd, then in a couple blocks, turn right on McCord Ave, and in one block, stay right at the ‘Y’ (note sign to N152) to Dailey Rd for another block and you’ll see N152 on the right. The parking is on the left, across the street.

Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day

freecone
Tuesday, April 12, 2016 is Free Cone Day at participating Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops in the Bay Area.
Since 1979, it’s Ben & Jerry’s way to celebrate and say thanks to their fans for another year of support.

115 East San Carlos
San Jose, 95112
408-275-8827
Free cone: Noon – 8:00 pm

Find a participating Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop here.

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