Features & Columns

A Fighting Chance

Mixed martial artists from around the globe flock to San Jose's American Kickboxing Academy for a shot at glory in the Octagon Read More

Features

A Fighting Chance

At 11:30am on a Monday, the American Kickboxing Academy is quiet, cool and hidden from the world. Recessed within a suburban block somewhere between strip mall and business park, the 27,000-square-foot gym is almost peaceful, a relief from the unrelenting heat of California's still-cranking Indian summer. Inside, the lights are still off. Gloves and pads lie unused on the edge of a black boxing ring, heavy bags hanging in silence. At the front desk is Joanna Takacs, who, between greeting guests, is preparing the gym's tax filing. It's easy to think that here, in this building between the DMV and the McDonald's, nothing interesting ever happens. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Author's Old Lowrey Genie Organ Recalls Noteworthy Music Store in Willow Glen

My entire camp humor identity began on that machine, so its demise calls for a twisted eulogy of sorts. But first, some history. Stevens Music, which existed from 1951 to 1984 at 1202 Lincoln Ave., was an institution in Willow Glen, selling and repairing instruments, plus sheet music and related products for thousands of people throughout the valley. Entire generations got their chops inside that building, operated by Tom Stevens and his son Gordon. After the main retail business closed, Reik's music eventually moved into the ground floor, with the upstairs then converting into more lesson rooms and other independent music businesses, including Stevens Violin Shop. Up until Gordon sold the building in 2013, he claimed the oldest » Read More

Advice Goddess: I Never Know What to Say When She Cries

Putting it in general collegiate terms, the female mind majors in psychology; the male mind majors in physics. Research by psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen finds that women tend to be the "empathizers" of the species, driven from childhood on to identify others' "emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion." Men, on the other hand, tend to be "systematizers," driven to understand the inner workings of the blender. The good news is, there's a secret for comforting an upset woman, even for the most emotionally inarticulate man. You don't have to be Shakespeare; just don't go all shutupspeare. For example, last week, when I was bummed about something to the point of tears, I was on the phone with my boyfriend, and » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of November 14, 2018

Interior designer Dorothy Draper said she wished there were a single word that meant "exciting, frightfully important, irreplaceable, deeply satisfying, basic and thrilling all at once." I wonder if such a word exists in the Chamicuro language spoken by a few Peruvians or the Sarsi tongue spoken by the Tsuu T'ina tribe in Alberta, Canada. In any case, I'm pleased to report that for the next few weeks, many of you Aries people will embody and express that rich blend of qualities. I have coined a new word to capture it: tremblissimo. » Read More

Department of Corrections

It's a warmer than average Friday in late October, and at 4pm plenty of folks would be itching to get a jump on the weekend. But not Raj Jayadev. The youthful-looking 43-year-old community organizer is still running around the offices of the non-profit he helped co-found, Silicon Valley De-Bug, as he prepares to head over to the Santa Clara County Main Jail. The office is buzzing. In one corner, a couple of young boys are horsing around with a De-Bug staffer. In another, a man is pouring over a stack of legal paperwork with another De-Bugger, as staff and volunteers are called. Jayadev and his team are preparing to head over to the jail to support the family of Isai Lopez, a 23-year-old man who died in custody several days prior. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Exhibit Shows How WWI Hit Local Community

During World War I, members of a vigilante organization calling themselves "The Knights of Liberty" kidnapped an American citizen living in downtown San Jose and accused him of pro-German sentiments. They drove him out to the corner of Penitencia Creek and Piedmont Roads for a mock "trial," after which he was tarred and feathered and then chained to the brass cannon of the McKinley statue in St. James Park. San Jose police had to rescue him. The May 2, 1918, San Jose Mercury Herald report of the crime is included in San Jose and World War One: A Centennial Exhibition, a simple exhibit at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Main Library, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918, when the war ended. We get personal stories » Read More

Advice Goddess: Should I Leave Him Since He's Still in Love with His Ex?

The good news is, you two may be able to break up without it breaking your kid. My friend Wendy Paris and her former husband did this--splitting up as a couple while staying together as parents of their young son. Wendy writes in her book "Splitopia: Dispatches From Today's Good Divorce and How To Part Well" that they even relocated together from New York to Los Angeles, moving to separate places a few blocks apart. They hang out and do activities as a family. Her ex often comes over to make breakfast for her son and coffee for her. He even takes out the trash! Sure, he did that when they were married, but Wendy was too preoccupied with her issues with him as a husband to appreciate it like she can now. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of November 7, 2018

In 1994, Aries pop diva Mariah Carey collaborated with an associate to write the song "All I Want For Christmas Is You." It took them 15 minutes to finish it. Since then it has generated $60 million in royalties. I wish I could unconditionally predict that you, too, will efficiently spawn a valuable creation sometime soon. Current planetary alignments do indeed suggest that such a development is more possible than usual. But because I tend to be conservative in my prophecies, I won't guarantee anything close to the $60 million figure. In fact, your reward may be more spiritual in nature than financial. » Read More

Listening to the Cosmos

Almost 60 years ago, as a young Harvard-educated physicist, he conducted SETI's first serious experiment, convened its first all-star scientific conference and later drew up the equation that bears his name and still forms the fundamental framework from which to figure out whether there is life elsewhere in the universe. Now, at 88, from his home in Santa Cruz County, Drake can contemplate an unlikely turn of events only slightly less miraculous than contact with an alien species: a second life for SETI. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Museum's 'Tech for Global Good' Program Fosters Humane Innovation

Each of the five laureates' projects are then presented in the museum via interactive exhibits that remain until next year. Visitors empathize with the problems at hand and then walk away inspired by the young laureates and their attempts to make the world a better place. The Tech for Global Good main event Saturday also includes the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award. This year's recipient is the legendary entrepreneur, environmentalist, author and ecological activist Paul Hawken, whose resume goes all the way back to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s efforts in the '60s. Currently Hawken is the leader of Project Drawdown, an elaborate and rational roadmap toward reversing global warming. » Read More

Advice Goddess: How Can I Be More Assertive?

This is like your telling somebody who wants you to dog-sit, "Sorry, I'm allergic to dogs" and having them come back with, "Actually, he identifies as a parrot." To understand why you basically defaulted to smileyface emoji mode when the poo emoji better fit the bill, it helps to know a few things about the psychology of personality. There are five major domains of personality that drive how a person acts, and they tend to be fairly stable across time and situations. These include conscientiousness, which reflects a person's level of self-control and sense of responsibility to others. Another is extroversion, reflecting where a person falls on a spectrum from outgoingness to seeing social events as a form of torture that should have been » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of October 31, 2018

U2's singer Bono, born under the sign of Taurus, says that all of us suffer from the sense that something's missing from our lives. We imagine that we lack an essential quality or experience, and its absence makes us feel sad and insufficient. French philosopher Blaise Pascal referred to this emptiness as "a God-shaped hole." Bono adds that "you can never completely fill that hole," but you may find partial fixes through love and sex, creative expression, family, meaningful work, parenting, activism and spiritual devotion. I bring this to your attention, Taurus, because I have a strong suspicion that in the coming weeks you will have more power to fill your God-shaped hole than you've had in a long time. » Read More

Paint The Town

Rising high above the intersection of East San Carlos and South Second streets, a massive crane delivers a load of materials to the top of The Graduate, a new apartment tower geared toward San Jose State University students. The construction site is buzzing with workers. Some are fitting floor-to-ceiling windows above; others hammer away inside the giant development. Directly across Second Street, another piece of heavy equipment carries two men up and down a four-story wall. Like the crews at The Graduate, Raoul and Davide Perre are feverishly working to meet a deadline. But unlike the contractors drilling, welding and pipe-fitting, the Perre brothers are working with hundreds of cans of spray paint, methodically constructing a gargantuan » Read More

Silicon Alleys: SJSU Honors Alumni 50 Years After Olympic Protest

Last week, San Jose State University celebrated one of the most historic anniversaries in campus history, and perhaps even San Jose history as well. Exactly 50 years earlier, on Oct. 16, 1968, SJSU Spartans Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on the Olympic podium in Mexico City after winning gold and bronze medals in the men's 200m event. During the national anthem, Smith and Carlos each bowed their heads and raised a black-gloved fist into the air, reflecting the strength of the human spirit and cementing what's now one of the most iconic images in Olympic history. The third person on the podium, Australian Peter Norman, stood motionless with the silver medal around his neck, but in full support. Smith and Carlos were also part of the » Read More

Advice Goddess: What is Charisma and How Can People Create It?

The good news for anyone who lacks height, hots or eyes that burn a hole in people is that how a person acts seems to be the main driver of charisma. And though some people are naturally (that is, genetically) equipped to be more charismatic through their set of personality traits, there are charismatic behaviors that anybody can learn and practice (or, perhaps in your case, engage in more often). The behaviors that drive charisma are those that reflect a combination of "high power and high warmth," explains business coach Olivia Fox Cabane in her research-based book "The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism." » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of October 24, 2018

In her poem "Shedding Skin," Harryette Mullen compares her own transformation to the action a snake periodically carries out to renew itself. Since you now have an excellent opportunity to undertake your own molting process, you may find her thoughts helpful. (I've rendered them in prose for easier reading.) "Pulling out of the old scarred skin—old rough thing I don't need now--I strip off, slip out of, leave behind. Shedding toughness, peeling layers down to vulnerable stuff. And I'm blinking off old eyelids for a new way of seeing. By the rock I rub against, I'm going to be tender again." Halloween costume suggestion: snake sloughing its skin. » Read More

Lens Craft

Blakesberg, 56, is one of the most prominent names among the Bay Area's contributions to the list of the world's greatest rock & roll photographers. In the last decade or more, he estimates he has shot about 2.5 million photos, of which he has kept and archived about 1.5 million as digital files. But to hear him tell the Almost Famous-like story of his earliest years as a rock-loving aspiring photographer is to experience a world that, in today's Instagram-ized iPhony environment, sounds positively antique. Blakesberg was a teenager in the late 1970s in New Jersey. He would regularly sneak cameras into concerts and take performance shots of the rock gods that he idolized, just because he wanted memorabilia for his bedroom. "I had a » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Kronos Quartet Opens Musical Borders with New Show

So last year when Donald Trump decided to implement a travel ban targeting people from specific Muslim-majority countries, the quartet responded by researching, commissioning and now presenting a program of music from those parts of the world. This Saturday, "Music for Change: The Banned Countries," takes place in Stanford's Bing Concert Hall. While the program is not limited to the countries on Trump's original list, music from Egypt, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Azerbaijan and other countries in or near the Middle East will be emphasized. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Love Me Tinder

In fact, Schultz's research suggests that "novel rewards" may be two to three times more dopamine-elevating than delishy stuff we've previously experienced. This motivational downshift comes out of how dopamine neurons are, in a sense, fortune-teller cells; they predict how rewarding things or situations will be. Dopamine, contrary to what countless books and articles contend, is not a "pleasure chemical." It does not generate a heroin rush-type euphoria. It's stimulating. It drives wanting and seeking, motivating us to explore new stuff that might enhance our ability to pass on our genes. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of October 17, 2018

Humraaz is a word in the Urdu language. Its literal meaning is "secret sharer." It refers to a confidante, a person in whom you have full trust and to whom you can confess your core feelings. Is there such a character in your life? If so, seek him or her out for assistance in probing into the educational mysteries you have waded into. If there is no such helper you can call on, I advise you to do whatever's necessary to attract him or her into your sphere. A collaborative quest may be the key to activating sleeping reserves of your soul wisdom. » Read More

Making the Impossible Possible

While at the Paris Climate Accord in December 2015, Patrick Brown noticed something peculiar about the mass of environmentally conscious politicians and ardent activists attending the momentous summit. Despite spending days advocating for more stringent regulations around greenhouse gas emissions, he observed that many of these conservationists would end their day not with a salad, but instead with a juicy steak.
While there's nothing inherently wrong with prime rib, it's a bit of a daring choice for environmental advocates: Livestock alone generate 7.1 gigatons of greenhouse gases each year, about the same amount as the entire global transportation sector, and are also the biggest driving factor of biodiversity loss in the world » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Novelist Finds the Funny in Growing Up Under a Drug Lord's Rule

A dark elegiac story about young girls growing up in the Pablo Escobar era of drug lord violence in Colombia, Fruit of the Drunken Tree, the debut novel by Ingrid Rojas Contreras, grew out of her own life experiences. Next week, on Thursday, Oct. 18, Rojas Contreras will be one of seven authors reading at Story is the Thing, a quarterly series at Kepler's Books. In the book, the lives of two sisters, Chula and Cassandra, ages 7 and 9, along with that of their maid, Petrona, 13, anchor the story. The sisters live in Bogota in a gated two-story house with all the comforts, while Petrona lives in a guerrilla-occupied slum, caught up in whether or not she should work for the guerrillas. One by one, car-bombings, kidnappings and political » Read More

Advice Goddess: I Don't Want My Jealousy to Ruin Another Relationship

Interestingly, it seems that the reassurance doesn't have to come in spoken word form. Psychologist Brooke C. Feeney found that in the context of a close relationship, "affectionate touch...was an effective buffer against jealous feelings" for relationship partners at times when anxious attachment levels were high. Sending the message physically like this takes advantage of how, according to research in "embodied cognition," our body and actions, independent of conscious thought, are surprisingly powerful and efficient tools for changing our habitual emotional reactions. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of October 10, 2018

In his book The Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiessen describes his quest to glimpse the elusive and rarely seen creature in the Himalayas. "Its uncompromising yellow eyes, wired into the depths of its unfathomable spirit," he writes, give it a "terrible beauty" that is "the very stuff of human longing." He loves the snow leopard so much, he says, that it is the animal he "would most like to be eaten by." I bring this up, Aries, because now would be a good time, astrologically speaking, for you to identify what animal you would most like to be eaten by. In other words, what creature would you most like to learn from and be inspired by? What beautiful beast has the most to give you? » Read More

The Golden Browns

On its face, California's Brown family political dynasty is the story of two men, but metaphorically it's really the story of three. In the dialectical tale of the Browns, the thesis is Pat Brown, the buoyant old-school liberal who served as California's governor in a time of expansion and optimism. Antithesis would be Brown's brainy, aloof and austere son Jerry, who moved in to the governor's office at the insufferable age of 36 with rock star Linda Ronstadt by his side, in a time of cynicism and retrenchment. Then, in 2010, came synthesis, with the unlikely election of an older but wiser Jerry Brown, still the intellectually restless ex-Jesuit seminarian who, at the same time, had internalized much of the practicality and human touch » Read More

Silicon Alleys: EnActe Arts Seeks Feminine Inspiration

EnActe Arts, a local theater production company that produces plays touching on the South Asian diaspora but with universal appeal, presented Madhuri Shekar's masterfully scripted play, Queen, in which the ethical dilemmas of corporate-funded scientific research go head to head with environmental activism. In the play, two female scientists at UC Santa Cruz, Sanam and Ariel, explore the degree to which corporate pesticides are destroying the bee population. Colony Collapse Disorder is a real-life systemic problem, bees are dying everywhere and governments don't know what to do. Sanam and Ariel are days away from publishing an explosive paper about the results of their research, but the experiment model they wrote and the data they spent » Read More

Advice Goddess: How Can I Change My Passive-Aggressive Ways?

I'm a 30-something woman questioning the long-term viability of my relationship. I work for a nonprofit in a community with a high level of volunteerism. My boyfriend is a therapist, so I think he wants to help others. He's kind and thoughtful toward me and his friends. However, he does no volunteer work or charitable giving. He'll sometimes offer a lower rate for people who can't afford therapy, but he'll qualify it by saying he needs to get people talking about him to generate more business. I'm put off that his ego and career advancement are motivating the only signs of charity I see from him. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of October 3, 2018

Electra is an action-packed story written by ancient Greek playwright Sophocles. It features epic characters taking drastic action in response to extreme events. In contrast to that text is Marcel Proust's novel In Search of Lost Time, which draws from the sensitive author's experiences growing up, coming of age and falling in love, all the while in quest for meaning and beauty. Author Virginia Woolfe compared the two works, writing, "In six pages of Proust we can find more complicated and varied emotions than in the whole of the Electra." In accordance with astrological omens, I recommend that you specialize in the Proustian mode rather than the Sophoclean. Your feelings in the next five weeks could be as rich and interesting and » Read More

Hiding in Plain Sight

At the age of 16, Jose Antonio Vargas rode his bike to the Mountain View DMV across the street from Target and tried to apply for a driver's permit. He did not know the green card supplied by his relatives was fake until the attendant told him. Just over a decade later, still undocumented, yet now a journalist, Vargas was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team of reporters at the Washington Post. Vargas, who went to Crittenden Middle School and Mountain View High after arriving from the Philippines via Los Angeles, ignited a firestorm in 2011 by revealing his story in a New York Times Magazine article, essentially making him the country's most famous undocumented immigrant. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Krazy George Earns Spot in SJSU Sports Hall of Fame

On pages 94 to 97 of Krazy George's book, Still Krazy After All These Cheers, old grainy photos accompany a March 1974 story he tells about a hockey game between the Boston Bruins and the hometown Oakland Seals. Not even 30 years old at the time, George bashed on his trademark snare drum and verbally insulted the visiting Bruins players during the game. He wasn't getting paid for his talents that night, so he was not yet "pro," as they say, but George's actions riled up a few drunk Boston fans in the crowd, triggering a brawl, and also coerced Bruins legend Terry O'Reilly to climb the glass and swing his stick at Krazy George. O'Reilly's teammates, including Phil Esposito, soon followed him up the glass, but did not ultimately enter the » Read More

Advice Goddess: How Can I Change My Passive-Aggressive Ways?

Yet, in the 1950s, a group of psychiatrists writing the mental disorders bible, the DSM, took a big, unscientific leap. They willy-nilly added passive-aggressiveness to the list of personality disorders in the book, perhaps because without an official "disorder" label (and diagnostic codes that go with), health insurance companies wouldn't pay therapists to treat it. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of September 26, 2018

Do you have any skills at living on the edge between the light and the dark? Are you curious about what the world might look like and how people would treat you if you refused to divide everything up into that which helps you and that which doesn't help you? Can you imagine how it would feel if you loved your life just the way it is and not wish it were different from what it is? Please note: People less courageous than you might prefer you to be less courageous. But I hope you'll stay true to the experiment of living on the edge between the light and the dark. » Read More

Wild Cats

A hundred years ago, the word "teenager" had yet to make its debut in the American lexicon. Not only was there no word to describe that awkward stage between childhood and adulthood, there was also very little social context to explain the concept that we so easily identify today. But a few decades later, when suburbanization spread and the middle class grew, so did a young, new market audience. Automobiles brought autonomy, and suddenly, young people had a vehicle for exploring and understanding the world around them. Cue the Thunder Road drag race scene from Grease. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Writer Makes Labyrinthian Connections with Poet Jorge Luis Borges

Two-and-a-half years ago, the anti-man-about-town visited the gravesite of legendary author Jorge Luis Borges in Geneva, Switzerland. Borges was a unique figure at the top of 20th century literature and a major influence on me, so in Geneva I made a desperate pact with him. Standing at his grave, I said: "Alright old man, I will keep writing, just show me how to make a living. Give me a sign. Anything." Sure enough, I was awarded a fellowship soon thereafter. I guess he was looking over my shoulder. That was in 2016, but just a few weeks ago in downtown San Jose, Borges spun back into my orbit from multiple dimensions at once, just to make sure I was still writing and keeping up my end of the bargain. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Stop Blaming Millennials

You might also give some consideration to your look. I'm not saying you should wear a monocle and carry a cane, but maybe grow a little facial hair and dress and accessorize like an adult. Finally, there's a little secret to getting treated as somebody's equal, and it's acting the part. If some graying co-worker makes age-related cracks about your tech usage, don't go all woundypants. Laugh and tease 'em right back, telling them they should just ask you directly when they want your tech-savvy millennial help with texting nudies from their side-entry bathtub. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of September 19, 2018

In one sense, a "patron saint" is a Catholic saint who is a heavenly advocate for a person, group, activity, thing or place. St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes, for instance. St. Francis of Assisi is the guardian of animal welfare, and St. Kentigern is the protector against verbal abusers. "Patron saint" may also be invoked poetically to refer to a person who serves as a special guide or influence. For example, in one of his short stories, Nathaniel Hawthorne refers to a veteran nurse as "the patron saint of young physicians." In accordance with current astrological omens, I invite you to fantasize about persons, groups, activities, things or places for whom you might be the patron saint. To spur your imagination, here are some » Read More

Stand Up & Play

Fifty years ago this October, Tommie Smith and John Carlos climbed atop the Olympic medal podium in Mexico City and threw up a fist against racial inequality. As they each removed their shoes and raised a clenched, black-gloved hand in the air, the pair of San Jose State sprinters bowed their heads, symbolically refusing to acknowledge their country's national anthem as it played over the stadium's loudspeakers. Immediate and intense backlash followed. Avery Brundage, the chairman of the International Olympic Committee, called for the two runners to be suspended from the U.S. Olympic Team and banned from the Olympic Village. The U.S. Olympic Committee attempted to defend the athletes, but after Brundage threatened to kick the entire U.S. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Exhibit Marks First Viet-Japanese Collab for ArtObjectGallery

Ken Matsumoto's compound, the ArtObjectGallery, sits on a legendary Japantown parcel, near a Zen meditation studio and an artist's supply shop. Including an exhibit space along with an outdoor sculpture garden where one finds Matsumoto's own work, the complex usually exudes serenity, but last Saturday, the entire property came alive thanks to Salt Stained, a new exhibit of mostly Vietnamese visual artists that runs through Oct. 26. Chopsticks Alley, a local organization that promotes Southeast Asian cultural heritage through food, art and shared expression, organized the exhibit in cooperation with the San Jose Museum of Art's Vietnamese Community Outreach Initiative, New Terrains: Mobility and Migration. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Do I Have to Pick Just One Guy?

The first few dates are the free trial period of romantic relationships. Think of it like accepting a sample of lox spread at Costco. You're seeing how you like it; you aren't committing to buy a salmon hatchery. It sounds like you instead see a date as a Wile E. Coyote-style trapdoor dropping you into a relationship. You and the guy have sex for the first time, and assuming he doesn't fake his death afterward or ditch a burner phone he's been texting you from, you two become a thing, right on track to sign up for those cute side-by-side burial plots. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of September 12, 2018

Author Anne Carson describes part of her creative process in this way: "Sometimes I dream a sentence and write it down. It's usually nonsense, but sometimes it seems a key to another world." I suspect you might be able to benefit from using a comparable trick in the coming days. That's why you should monitor any odd dreams, seemingly irrational impulses or weird fantasies that arise in you. Although they may not be of any practical value in themselves, they could spur a train of thought that leads you to interesting breakthroughs. » Read More

Burning Man's Startup Culture

Twenty-five years ago I wrote, arguably, the first "mainstream" newspaper story about Burning Man, which ran on the cover of Metro. I got the Burning Man phone number from someone at a secretive monthly underground club called the "Anon Salon." Daniel Kottke, Apple Employee No. 1, invited me there. (I met him while writing a story about Apple for Metro.) Maybe Daniel told me about "the burn." But it could have been Burning Man founder Larry Harvey himself. When I dialed it, I heard a crackly message on an answering machine that instructed me to mail in a check for $40 along with a formal request for a ticket. » Read More

Silicon Alleys Joins the '700 Club'

As of right now, this column officially joins the 700 club. That is, a total of 700 weeks have gone by since I started writing Silicon Alleys in 2005. Milestones are better than gallstones, I suppose. The history here is two-pronged. Back when I was still sitting at Cactus Club's happy hour with the cockroaches, the washed-up strippers, the Satanists and the homeless punks, Eric Carlson was writing a Metro column called, "Notes From the Underbelly"--a major influence on me. He moved away in 2002, leaving serious shoes to fill. By the time I came on board, Metro also featured a front-of-book column called "Biter," an irreverent dose of random alt-San Jose snark. It was a rotating column, meaning, any one of us wrote it whenever we had an » Read More

Advice Goddess: I Try to Look Cute, But He Mocks My Appearance

But in mating, as in life, we tend to be on a budget. Evolutionary social psychologist Norman Li and his colleagues recognized that, and instead of asking research participants the open-ended sky's-the-limit question, "So, what do you want in a mate?," they gave them a limited "mating budget." This, in turn, forced participants to decide which traits and qualities were "necessities" and which were "luxuries." The Li team's results echo a body of cross-cultural findings on mate preferences. Men in their study overwhelmingly deemed "physical attractiveness" a "necessity." (Consider that the female features men find beautiful correlate with health and fertility in a woman.) Meanwhile, the women they surveyed, under these "budgetary" » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of September 5, 2018

Now is an excellent time to feel and explore and understand and even appreciate your sadness. To get you in the mood, here's a list of sadnesses from novelist Jonathan Safran Foer: sadness of the could-have-been; sadness of being misunderstood; sadness of having too many options; sadness of being smart; sadness of awkward conversations; sadness of feeling the need to create beautiful things; sadness of going unnoticed; sadness of domesticated birds; sadness of arousal being an unordinary physical state; sadness of wanting sadness. » Read More

Coming Back Around

He took the post down not long after he threw it up. The records, which came with handwritten memorabilia and were priced at $200 each, got snapped up almost immediately. Dredg haven't put out a new album since 2011 and they haven't played live much since touring behind their last release, Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy. Still, Roulette says, "When we put out vinyl, it goes in seconds." And individual sellers offering sealed copies of the El Cielo double 12-inch LP on eBay are pricing the item at upwards of $300. To be sure, all of this speaks to the band's potent songwriting and dedicated fanbase. It also speaks to the continued resurgence of vinyl records, which have steadily risen in popularity since sales of the medium cratered sometime in the » Read More

Silicon Alleys: King Library Bookstore a Trove of Random Titles

Last week, I sauntered into the Friends of the King Library Bookstore on the SJSU campus, just as I'd done on a regular basis for years. But this time, the cosmic muse of synchronicity exploded right off the table in front of me. A book I recall a professor purchasing 20 years ago was sitting right there in the middle of the store, on the sorting table, atop a stack of books he'd apparently just donated. Tucked into a corner space on the ground level of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Main Library in downtown San Jose, the Friends of the King Library Bookstore satisfies the definition of a "hidden gem." Located near the campus-side entrance, this little place is jammed to capacity with thousands of books, most of which come from donations. » Read More

Advice Goddess: What Causes Agoraphobia? Is It Treatable?

The term "agoraphobia" starts with "agora," the word for the ancient Greek version of a ginormous open-air shopping mall and outdoor auditorium. However, agoraphobia is not simply a fear of big open spaces. Agoraphobics also fear (and avoid) unfamiliar environments and situations that leave them feeling their safety is beyond their control--like being in a crowd of strangers with little room to move. (To an agoraphobic, a free pass to Coachella is like a coupon for a free hour of electric shocks at a CIA black site.) » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of August 29, 2018

In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, our heroine encounters a talking caterpillar as he smokes a hookah on top of a tall mushroom. "Who are you?" he asks her. Alice is honest: "I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then." She says this with uneasiness. In the last few hours, she has twice been shrunken down to a tiny size and twice grown as big as a giant. All these transformations have unnerved her. In contrast to Alice, I'm hoping you'll have a positive attitude about your upcoming shifts and mutations, Aries. From what I can tell, your journey through the Season of Metamorphosis should be mostly fun and educational. » Read More

Fall Arts 2018

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That's a maxim. It's also more than a bit trite. In the face of the ever-evolving flow of the universe, it takes discipline to maintain a meaningful practice. As the Sunnyvale Community Players and San Jose Taiko celebrate their 50th and 45th anniversaries, respectively, the Chicano music-melders at the San Jose-based Sonido Clash music--and party--promotion collective are nearing the decade mark. While each of these outfits continue to work in their own distinct idiom, the cumulative effect of their dedication is a diverse and interesting South Bay scene, consisting of classical and cutting-edge art forms. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Steinbeck Fellows Record Experiences of Asian-American Women

If people can trace Kerouac's footsteps in North Beach or harmonize the vibes of Dashiell Hammett at John's Grill, then certainly there should be Vanessa Hua literary tours through the underbelly of Chinatown. Released last week, Hua's debut novel, A River of Stars, gets rolling right away when two pregnant Chinese women escape an illegal maternity clinic in SoCal before stealing a van and driving to San Francisco. A San Francisco Chronicle columnist, Hua is also one of three Asian-American women, along with R.O. Kwon and Kirstin Chen, who in recent years received a Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing from San Jose State University, and who released a novel to rocking fanfare in 2018. Every academic season, the Steinbeck Center at » Read More

Advice Goddess: Should I Wait for Him to Say 'I Love You' First?

Research on sex differences in "parental investment" by evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers suggests that it's probably a bad idea for you, as a woman, to go first with the ILY. Trivers explains that in species like ours, in which females get stuck with the burden of parental care (should sex lead to the creation of toddlers), they evolved to vet males for ability and willingness to invest—more than that initial teaspoonful of sperm, that is. Men coevolved to expect to have to prove themselves to women to get sex. In short, men chase; women choose. Sure, there are couples out there in which the woman chased and things ended up just fine. But those evolved differences in male and female psychology are still driving us. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of August 22, 2018

The two pieces of advice I have for you may initially seem contradictory, but they are in fact complementary. Together they'll help guide you through the next three weeks. The first comes from herbalist and wise woman Susun Weed. She suggests that when you face a dilemma, you should ask yourself how you can make it your ally and how you can learn the lesson it has for you. Your second burst of wisdom is from writer Yasmin Mogahed: "Study the hurtful patterns of your life. Then don't repeat them." » Read More

Get Married Get Serious

Though they're wary to admit it, Get Married has a longstanding Elvis obsession. His smoldering black-and-gray portrait is inked on the arms of both singer Jaake Margo and bassist Kayla Gonzalez. Lead guitarist Randy Moore's been known to wear a jacket emblazoned with the King's name, and half the band rocks modern-day pompadours. And that's just what you can tell by looking at them. It's no coincidence, then, that Margo first met guitarist Tarif Pappu and keyboard player Nick Kenrick when they were all cast as leads in the Palo Alto Players' production of Million Dollar Quartet, a musical inspired by the eponymous Sun Records recording session that redefined rock & roll as we know it. Margo was cast as Presley, while Pappu played the role » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Summer Jazz Fest Invokes Spirit of Musical Adventure

As usual, if one is a spirited adventurer, as most jazz fans are, then unexpected cosmic revelations appear around every corner. With the stipulation that Western linear summaries do not accommodate such a festival, the indoor/outdoor polarity erupted right off the bat. My opening-night infiltration began with the Tango Jazz Quartet at Cafe Stritch and then eventually continued with a total surprise, the Pascal Bokar Afro Blue Grazz Band in the Fairmont's Club Regent room. With probably a dozen musicians, Bokar served up a wild bouillabaisse of West African rhythms, American bluegrass, French chansons and 12-bar blues seemingly layered with Moroccan textures. Dancers took over the aisles and the floor in front of the stage, with everyone » Read More

Advice Goddess: Working From Home, Alone and Lonely

Avoid any temptation to kidnap strangers lingering in your building's lobby. "Are you going to cut me up and put me in your freezer?" the terrified UPS man will ask. You: "Uh, I thought we'd just hang out and have coffee, but whatever works for you." Healthier (and less felonious) forms of coping start with unpacking what loneliness is. The late neuroscientist John Cacioppo explained loneliness as a painful feeling of disconnection from others. He differentiated loneliness--the aching longing for human connection--from a desire for solitude, "the pleasures of sometimes being by yourself." And he and his wife and research partner, psychologist Stephanie Cacioppo, noted that loneliness has been associated with serious negative effects on not » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of August 15, 2018

Author and theologian Thomas Merton thought that the most debilitating human temptation is to settle for too little, to live a comfortable life rather than an interesting one. I wouldn't say that's always true about you, Taurus. But I do suspect that in the coming weeks, a tendency to settle for less could be the single most devitalizing temptation you'll be susceptible to. That's why I encourage you to resist the appeal to accept a smaller blessing or punier adventure than you deserve. Hold out for the best and brightest. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Jackie Gage Debuts Song About San Jose at Jazz Fest

San Jose native Jackie Gage is flying back from the Big Apple this weekend, just to film a music video for a song she wrote about her hometown. Gage will debut her new tune, "A Secret Place," Saturday night at Cafe Stritch during the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest, followed by an exclusive VIP after-party at a separate location. If the performance sells out, as Gage's gigs often do, tickets for the after-party will still be available. To raise money for the video shoot, friends, family and distant admirers all contributed to an Indiegogo campaign, 80 percent of which was raised in 24 hours. As of last Sunday, the goal was officially shattered, but anyone can still donate. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Double Standard, Much?

Consider men's general lack of interest in wedding planning. Of course, if men did the organizing, there'd probably be a paintball duel to the altar, strippers serving nachos and a minister who ends the ceremony with, "You may now have a threesome with the bride and her sister." However, what we could call the "wedding-industrial complex"--with $56 billion in sales in the U.S. in 2017 (per The Wedding Report)--is driven mainly by women (and, more recently and to a lesser extent by very stylish gay men). So we often hear about "bridezillas"--human nightmares losing it over picky-wicky wedding details--but it's the rare man who even comes close to caring enough to be called a "groomzilla." » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of August 8, 2018

Palestinian American writer Susan Abulhawa writes that in the Arab world, to say a mere "thank you" is regarded as spiritless and ungenerous. The point of communicating gratitude is to light up with lively and expressive emotions that respond in kind to the kindness bestowed. For instance, a recipient may exclaim, "May Allah bless the hands that give me this blessing," or "Beauty is in the eyes that find me beautiful." In accordance with current astrological omens, I propose that you experiment with this approach. Be specific in your praise. Be exact in your appreciation. Acknowledge the unique mood and meaning of each rich exchange. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Local Activist Jose Villa Was a Driver for Positive Change

When Jose D. Villa retired from San Jose State University in 1992, a gala party unfolded at the Le Baron Hotel on North First Street. Local legends from the Mexican-American community spoke of Villa's 23 years of leadership, diplomacy and community organizing, both in and out of academia. Even then, he had already left a formidable legacy of activism and heroics on behalf of Mexican-Americans, Latinos, Chicanos and other underrepresented communities in San Jose. Among numerous other achievements, Villa was the first faculty member of SJSU's School of Social Work in 1969, where he also started the first graduate level program in Mexican-American Studies. Villa's mentor was Dr. Ernesto Galarza, whose legacy is honored by the "Man of Fire" » Read More

Advice Goddess: Am I a Coward for Putting My Guard Up?

Resilience comes out of what clinical psychologist Salvatore Maddi calls "hardiness." He writes that hardiness "provides the courage and motivation to do the hard, strategic work of turning stressful circumstances from potential disasters into growth opportunities." His research finds that hardiness is made up of three "interrelated attitudes" he calls the three Cs: Commitment, Control and Challenge. Commitment is the desire to engage with people and life instead of pulling away and isolating yourself. Control is the motivation to take action to improve your life "rather than sinking into passivity and powerlessness." Challenge is the willingness to face the stress life throws at you and use it as a learning experience "rather than playing » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of August 1, 2018

I predict that August will be a Golden Age for you. That's mostly very good. Golden opportunities will arise, and you'll come into possession of lead that can be transmuted into gold. But it's also important to be prudent about your dealings with gold. Consider the fable of the golden goose. The bird's owner grew impatient because it laid only one gold egg per day; he foolishly slaughtered his prize animal to get all the gold immediately. That didn't work out well. Or consider the fact that to the ancient Aztecs, the word teocuitlatl referred to gold, even though its literally translation was "excrement of the gods." Moral of the story: If handled with care and integrity, gold can be a blessing. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: How a House in San Jose Inspired the Beat Generation

A new book of lost imagery from the Beat Generation has emerged, triggering this columnist to reflect on those celebrated literary troublemakers, some of whom spent some serious time here locally. The Beat Scene: Photographs by Burt Glinn is a landmark collection, much of which is in color. A successful photographer on numerous fronts, Glinn took the shots between 1957 and 1960 in San Francisco and New York. All the usual suspects are included. Now, since Neal Cassady's old house still exists at 1047 E. Santa Clara St.--the sizable den of iniquity he shared with his wife Carolyn and their three kids in the early '50s--I feel obligated to foreground the history for Metro readers who may not have flipped through Allen Ginsberg's journals, » Read More

Advice Goddess: Hubby and I Need to Spice Up Our Sex Life

The good news is, there's a way to perk up the sexual excitement level in a long-term relationship, and it doesn't involve attending parties where they have a bowl of keys at the door. You just need to get back to really being there while you're having sex. This means truly feeling--that is, really being present for--the moment-by-moment sensations, like you did the very first time you got together. You know...back before you started (let's be honest) sexual multitasking--running through your to-do list while getting it on--and your sex face started to become a yawn. Your husband looks up from, um, down there: "Oh, sorry--was I boring you?" » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of July 25, 2018

Be extra polite and deferential. Cultivate an exaggerated respect for the status quo. Spend an inordinate amount of time watching dumb TV shows while eating junk food. Make sure you're exposed to as little natural light and fresh air as possible. JUST KIDDING! I lied! Ignore everything I just said! Here's my real advice: Dare yourself to feel strong positive emotions. Tell secrets to animals and trees. Swim and dance and meditate naked. Remember in detail the three best experiences you've ever had. Experiment with the way you kiss. Create a blessing that surprises you and everyone else. Sing new love songs. Change something about yourself you don't like. Ask yourself unexpected questions, then answer them with unruly truths that have » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Fundraising to Restore Dancing Pig Sign Passes Halfway Mark

A local grassroots effort to fix San Jose's most iconic sign, the Stephen's Meat Products neon dancing pig masterpiece, has raised more than half the money it needs. The Preservation Action Council of San Jose (PAC*SJ), as well as passionate enthusiasts like Heather David, have tapped their networks and pooled their resources, so far raising more than $25,000 toward an estimated goal of $40,000. The plan is heroic: Paint the sign, fill up the bullet holes, re-illuminate the neon components and get that pig dancing again. Over the years, many of San Jose's neon signs have disappeared, while others have been rescued and saved in storage. The Stephen's sign still occupies a minuscule piece of real estate in a parking strip infested with » Read More

Advice Goddess: Why Do I Feel So Jealous Lately?

"Hey, where's the boyfriend?" your friend asks as she plops down on the couch next to you. You look at your phone: "Well, according to my tracking device, he's at the end of Main, turning right onto Slauson." Jealousy gets a bad rap. Sure, it's sometimes a sign that your self-worth is in the toilet. But it can also be a sign that your boyfriend has been sneaking off to the toilet at work with his boss's busty assistant. Evolutionary psychologist David Buss notes that sexual jealousy appears to be one of the "mate guarding adaptations" that evolved over human history--a sort of police dog of emotions to protect us from being cheated on. Buss observes that sexual jealousy is activated by "threats to mate retention," including "the presence » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of July 18, 2018

"Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic." Whenever that quote appears on the Internet, it's falsely attributed to painter Frida Kahlo. In fact, it was originally composed by poet Marty McConnell. In any case, I'll recommend that you heed it in the coming weeks. You really do need to focus on associating with allies who see the mysterious and lyrical best in you. I will also suggest that you get inspired by a line that Frida Kahlo actually wrote: "Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are a bourbon biscuit." (If you don't know what a bourbon biscuit is, I'll tell you: chocolate buttercream stuffed between two thin rectangular chocolate biscuits.) » Read More

Silicon Alleys: New Book Chronicles Young Da Vinci's Obsession with Spheres

I first met David Eastis 15 years ago when he presided over the Silicon Valley chapter of Slow Food, originally among the first five chapters the U.S. Eastis was the Shakespearean "mine host" of a gluttonous event at the upscale Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park, where 56 gastronomes of all shapes and sizes feasted at a snail's pace for over three hours. The resulting May 1, 2003, Metro cover story was the first one I ever wrote and one of the first major features on Slow Food anywhere in the Bay Area. I contributed a bottle of Benedictine to the meal, which felt like a Fellini movie in the slow lane, and then quoted Rabelais and John Ruskin in the story. Such were the days. » Read More

Advice Goddess: I Don't Want to Go to AA Smelling Like Weed

Surprisingly, the road to respect and good standing in the 12-step world does not involve strolling into meetings smelling like you live in a one-bedroom bong. Your taking care not to show up all "I just took a bath in Chanel No. 420!" at meetings lest you trigger any recovering potheads is what I call "empathy in action." I write in my book, Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck, that empathy--caring about how your behavior affects others--is "at the root of manners." Rudeness, on the other hand, is the lack of consideration for what one's behavior does to another person. I explain it in the book as a form of theft--theft of "valuable intangibles like people's attention (in the case of cell phone shouters who privatize » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of July 11, 2018

Your key theme right now is growth. Let's dig in and analyze its nuances. 1. Not all growth is good for you. It may stretch you too far too fast, beyond your capacity to integrate and use it. 2. Some growth that is good for you doesn't feel good to you. It might force you to transcend comforts that are making you stagnant, and that can be painful. 3. Some growth that's good for you may meet resistance from people close to you; they might prefer you to remain just as you are, and may even experience your growth as a problem. 4. Some growth that isn't particularly good for you may feel pretty good. For instance, you could enjoy working to improve a capacity or skill that is irrelevant to your long-term goals. 5. Some growth is good for you » Read More

Silicon Alleys: For Harlan Ellison, Writing Was a Revolutionary Act of Guerrilla Warfare

In that book, at the height of the Vietnam era, when racist slobs supporting George Wallace predated the racist slobs in the Cult of Trump, Ellison never hesitated to thrash the bejeezus out of any xenophobic rube, anywhere. The same hollow-headed conspiracy trash about blacks, Mexicans, liberals, atheists, commies or hippies "taking over the country" existed then as it does now. The same deranged right wing ammosexuals and their medieval fears poisoned all rational conversation then as they do now. Nothing has changed. What's more, Ellison never sunk to giving ersatz accolades in The Glass Teat. It wasn't his job to be a PR person or a "community builder" for every giddy feel-good show on TV. In one passage he referred to Johnny Carson as » Read More

Advice Goddess: How Do I Move On From Getting Ghosted?

It's hard on the ego to learn why somebody's leaving you, but it beats needing a Ouija board. It's the mystery that's causing the problem. Typically, when rotten things happen to us, our feel-bad emotions rise up--driving us to take a wiser course of action the next time so we'll keep those bad feelings from popping by again. Knowing the wiser course starts with knowing what to avoid. But all you've got is a terrible itch--the itch of uncertainty about why this guy vanished--and little hope of yanking him in to give you answers. However, you can probably dupe your mind into believing it has the answer. Research by cognitive neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga suggests our mind is quick to create stories to fill in and make sense out of » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of July 4, 2018

Twentieth-century French novelist Marcel Proust described 19th-century novelist Gustave Flaubert as a trottoire roulant, or "rolling sidewalk": plodding, toneless, droning. Meanwhile, critic Roger Shattuck compared Proust's writing to an "electric generator" from which flowed a "powerful current always ready to shock not only our morality but our very sense of humanity." In the coming weeks, I encourage you to find a middle ground between Flaubert and Proust. See if you can be moderately exciting, gently provocative and amiably enchanting. My analysis of the cosmic rhythms suggests that such an approach is likely to produce the best long-term results. » Read More

Recovering The Satellites

As a professional photographer, Mike Rasay has shot three NBA Finals, but he prefers the excitement of his day job at Santa Clara University, where he's the head of day-to-day operations for the school's satellite program. Long seen as the little sister to Stanford University, SCU's satellite program owns the impressive distinction of being the only university to trust undergraduate students as operators of NASA missions. Now working on his PhD, Rasay started in this lab as an undergraduate and said he still "gets more excited" while controlling objects in orbit than taking shots of Steph Curry. "There's a bunch of people who have worked an NBA Finals before," Rasay explains. "There are a very select number of people who have operated a » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Plaza de Cesar Chavez Heated up in More Ways Than One Last Weekend

Since there is no absolute beginning, for the sake of this column I will start with the SVArts Awards at Mexican Heritage Plaza. Every year the SVLaureate program recognizes achievement in the arts and creative contributions to Silicon Valley cultural life. This year, a former professor of mine, Joel Slayton, received a brand-new award called the SVNexus Award for those who pioneered efforts at the intersection of arts and technology. I owe Joel a lot, going back to the SJSU Art Department when he was a professor, an artist and the genre-shattering hero in charge of the CADRE Institute, an acronym for Computers in Art, Design, Research and Education. At CADRE, Joel presided over a radical interdisciplinary goulash of unclassifiable » Read More

Advice Goddess: Why Won't Men Approach Me?

I'm a 28-year-old woman who has been single for over five years. I'm steering clear of dating sites right now because of how so many guys portray themselves in ways that are very different from how they are in person. But then, in day-to-day life, when I smile at a guy I like, he'll usually smile back but he still won't come over and talk to me. Call me traditional, but I want a guy who has the courage to approach me. Guys are meant to do the pursuing. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 27, 2018

Your best ideas and soundest decisions will materialize as if by magic while you're lounging around doing nothing in a worry-free environment. So please make sure you have an abundance of relaxed slack and unhurried grace. Treat yourself to record-setting levels of comfort and self-care. Do whatever's necessary for you to feel as safe as you have ever felt. I realize these prescriptions might ostensibly clash with your fiery Aries nature. But if you meditate on them for even two minutes, I bet you'll agree they're exquisitely appropriate for you right now. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Final Resting Place of Beethoven's Biographer a Hard Shot to Come By

The anti-man-about-town has a long history of making mystical pacts with deceased authors at their gravesites. It usually goes along the lines of: "I'll keep writing, you just show me how to pay the bills." In fits of desperation, I have done this with Joseph Campbell, Hermann Hesse, Jorge Luis Borges, James Joyce, Leonard Cohen and a few others. Although a recent attempt to track down Beethoven's first biographer, Alexander Wheelock Thayer (1817 to 1897), in Trieste, Italy, was not successful, the whole ridiculous adventure ultimately confirmed that I have not wasted my life. First things first: The Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San Jose State University, aka the Beethoven Center, is loosely affiliated with the SJSU » Read More

Advice Goddess: Dating Up the Corporate Ladder

The problem with dating largely based on looks is that you tend to end up with the sort of woman who's frequently hospitalized for several days: "I was thinking so hard I dislocated my shoulder." However, your friend isn't wrong; arm candy appears to be the Prada handbag of male competition. Research by social psychologist Bo Winegard and his colleagues suggests that a man's being accompanied by a modelicious woman functions as a "hard-to-fake" signal of his status, as beautiful women "have the luxury of discriminating among a plethora of suitors." In the Winegard team's experiments, men paired with attractive women were consistently rated as higher in status than the very same men when they were paired with unattractive women. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 20, 2018

According to my analysis of the astrological omens, you have cosmic permission to enjoy extra helpings of waffles, crepes, pancakes, and blintzes. Eating additional pastries and doughnuts is also encouraged. Why? Because it's high time for you to acquire more ballast. You need more gravitas and greater stability. You can't afford to be top-heavy; you must be hard to knock over. If you would prefer not to accomplish this noble goal by adding girth to your butt and gut, find an alternate way. Maybe you could put weights on your shoes and think very deep thoughts. » Read More

Ready Player Fun

TMy afternoon begins with a leisurely stroll through downtown Campbell, but the quiet is soon interrupted as I step through the door of the former Gaslighter Theater. I am immediately greeted with the sounds of bells, whistles, laughter--and a very distinct "wakka, wakka, wakka..." that I hadn't heard in years. I peer into the corner and witness a group of young adults sipping on cold draft beers while playing four-player Pac-Man Battle Royale, then I almost trip over a pack of young kids darting across the room. They move from machine to machine like bees pollinating flowers, but instead of buzzing, they laugh and are enthralled by these 8-bit relics of days past. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Walking Among Ghosts of Literary Greats in Trieste

The author James Joyce harbored a love-hate relationship with his hometown of Dublin, so he exiled himself to Trieste, a city at the tip of the Adriatic Sea, in what's now Italy. Since I've already written about Joyce's birthplace and gravesite, Trieste was the next logical destination. Although Trieste is where Joyce wrote Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, as well as The Dubliners and significant portions of Ulysses, he was not the only one whose ghost began to follow me around. An unapologetically trans-ethnic type of place, Trieste was for centuries the main port city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After World War I, it became part of Italy. After World War II, it became a free independent territory administered in two different » Read More

Advice Goddess: Paint the House Red

Some people are just irritating. It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with their ovaries. Women's house paint preferences, sadly, have not been a prolific area of scientific study. However, there was a bunch of research suggesting that women's mate preferences shift with their hormone levels during the menstrual cycle--for example, findings that women went for more masculine faces in the fertile phase of their cycle. But these studies had methodological shortcomings, which can lead to false positives. When psychologist Benedict Jones and his colleagues ran a study using more rigorous methodology to check these findings, they found "no compelling evidence that preferences for facial masculinity track changes in women's hormonal » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 13, 2018

My Aries acquaintance Tatiana decided to eliminate sugar from her diet. She drew up a plan to avoid it completely for 30 days, hoping to permanently break its hold over her. I was surprised to learn that she began the project by making a dessert altar in her bedroom, where she placed a chocolate cake and five kinds of candy. She testified that it compelled her willpower to work even harder and become even stronger than if she had excluded all sweet treats from her sight. Do you think this strenuous trick might work for you as you battle your own personal equivalent of a sugar addiction? If not, devise an equally potent strategy. You're on the verge of forever escaping a temptation that's no good for you. Or you're close to vanquishing an » Read More

No Laughing Matter

Is it really a joke if no one's laughing? One would think a professional comedian, especially one who is often mentioned in the same sentence as Lucille Ball and Mary Tyler Moore, would have a ready answer to such a question. But at some point in the middle of the night after the three-day Memorial Day weekend, Roseanne Barr's comic instincts--honed over three decades at the top of her field--failed her spectacularly. For reasons that still mystify her fans and her critics alike, Barr tweeted a "joke" that compared a prominent African-American woman to an ape ... in 2018. By the next morning, she had apologized, but the news cycle was already madly churning. An hour and a half after Barr's apology, African-American comedian Wanda Sykes, » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Memories of Failed 'Jeopardy!' Tryouts Return with Champ's Appearance

After 28 years of operating on San Fernando Street in downtown San Jose, Gordon Biersch (GB) will close its doors for good this weekend. Every bartender and former employee that I can remember, at least those within driving distance, will descend upon the establishment for one last blowout on Saturday. For anyone to appreciate the absurdity of this, I must take you back to an early-'90s version of downtown San Jose, before laptops, cellphones and the World Wide Web, and back when real estate syndicates were scrambling to "revitalize" the neighborhood. Much of the area was still abandoned since the '70s, while other parts of it featured crumbling retail, empty parking lots, stray halfway-house denizens, panhandling transients and fledgling » Read More

Advice Goddess: I Dunno, Maybe Padlock Your Diary?

Having regular sex with you does not give another person the right to rake through your diary like it's the $1 bin at Goodwill.Your boyfriend probably equated your approaching this other guy with an attempt to cheat, but it sounds like it was something different--a sort of preliminary investigation into whether you had any chance with that guy. It turns out that we have a sort of inner auditing department that gets triggered to calculate whether "the one!!!" should maybe be that other one. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 6, 2018

According to my analysis of the astrological omens, you would be wise to ruffle and revise your relationship with time. It would be healthy for you to gain more freedom from its relentless demands; to declare at least some independence from its oppressive hold on you; to elude its push to impinge on every move you make. Here's a ritual you could do to spur your imagination: Smash a timepiece. I mean that literally. Go to the store and invest $20 in a hammer and alarm clock. Take them home and vociferously apply the hammer to the clock in a holy gesture of pure, righteous chastisement. Who knows? This bold protest might trigger some novel ideas about how to slip free from the imperatives of time for a few stolen hours each week. » Read More