Features & Columns

Silicon Alleys: Circle-A's New Cafe Isn't Just Skating By

Iconic downtown San Jose skate shop now serves coffee and tea Read More


Silicon Alleys: Circle-A's New Cafe Isn't Just Skating By

The song "Black Juju" by Alice Cooper is blasting at 8am. A cocktail-style table sits in the center of the room, constructed with a circular piece of glass atop some tires from a 1963 Belvedere. I am in the corner drinking a cup of English breakfast from Satori Tea Company. Artwork created with skateboard decks surrounds me. There are no hipsters anywhere. I'm not describing my apartment. This is the newly revamped Circa-A Skate Shop, operated by Bob Schmelzer in downtown San Jose, a swirling-glass retail space across from Hammer Theatre, a business approaching 22 years, making it one of the oldest continuously operating retail establishments in all of downtown. People already come here to get trucks and wheels installed on boards all day » Read More

Advice Goddess: He Loves Me More Than I Love Him

And even if a woman is a staunch feminist, all "I don't care who the earner in the relationship is," the psychological operating system driving us right now is adapted for ancestral times and the problems that arose then. So it just keeps on keepin' on, pushing a woman to go for men who can "provide," even when she's on the birth controlliest birth control (like a copper IUD). In other words, you are not getting the long end of the stick here, financially or commitment-wise, and evolution has programmed you to be nagged by feelbad emotions until you do something to change that. Your boyfriend, meanwhile, surely has some feelbad of his own. Because men coevolved with women, male psychology leads men to anticipate that female romantic » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 15, 2019

According to humorist Dave Barry, "The method of learning Japanese recommended by experts is to be born as a Japanese baby and raised by a Japanese family, in Japan." As you enter an intensely educational phase of your astrological cycle, I suggest you adopt a similar strategy toward learning new skills and mastering unfamiliar knowledge and absorbing fresh information. Immerse yourself in environments that will efficiently and effectively fill you with the teachings you need. A more casual, slapdash approach just won't enable you to take thorough advantage of your current opportunities to expand your repertoire. » Read More

Hit Me Baby, One More Time

Three levels into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, the evil samurai Shredder makes his first appearance. "My patience is wearing thin," the caped super villain announces from within a sewer. "I'm banishing you to a timewarp from which you'll never return." The next instant, the dreaded Shredder emits a pattern of concentric circles from his forehead, forming a net around the Turtles. An aperture opens in the sky. Sucked in, our heroic reptiles are cast back through time, diverting them from their goal of defeating the evil brain Krang and returning the Statue of Liberty to its rightful place in New York Harbor. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Japanese Pop Composer Bests Bacharach's Tune

As part of the city of San Jose's Creative License Ambassador program, Maestra Barbara Day Turner of the San Jose Chamber Orchestra isSilicon Alleys: Japanese Pop Composer Bests Bacharach's Tune a concert of original 60-second songs about San Jose, written by community members, all to be performed at City Hall on June 21. Anyone can write a song and submit it for consideration. As part of the performances, in addition to the one-minute songs, there will be audience participation and other community crowd-sourced composition projects right there and then. » Read More

Advice Goddess: It Still Feels Like 'Our Place,' and It's Hard to Move On

In other words, your friend is on to something, and you might use this to get her onto another thing: a ladder in your living room. I suggest a painting ritual: painting over your old life (in stylin' new hues, of course) to transform the house you shared with your ex into a colorful new home of your own. Per the research on ritual, ceremony would be an essential part of this, including explicitly calling what you're doing a "ritual" and saying a few words, the way you would at a funeral. Incorporate a ceremonial tearing-up of a photo of the two of you together, and have your friends chant, "Out, out, Steve! You are no longer welcome here!" Then have everybody accompany you to toss the pieces into the dumpster. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 8, 2019

Time to shake things up! In the next three weeks, I invite you to try at least three of the following experiments. 1. See unusual sights in familiar situations. 2. Seek out new music that both calms and excites you. 3. Get an inspiring statue or image of a favorite deity or hero. 4. Ask for a message from the person you will be three years from now. 5. Use your hands and tongue in ways you don't usually use them. 6. Go in quest of a cathartic release that purges frustration and rouses holy passion. 7. Locate the sweet spot where deep feeling and deep thinking overlap. » Read More

Digital Artifacts

I don't know why exactly, but I've always been a collector. My first memories are filled with scenes of me picking up rocks and keeping them in a box to look over later, or sifting through my parent's change to find old coins to keep (I still have a penny from 1896). Once I got into comic books at 8, I found a hobby that let my imagination soar. I collected several thousand comics from Spider-Man to Swamp Thing, lovingly placing each book in a plastic sleeve to protect it. But comic books soon got expensive, old pennies stopped turning up, and the rocks found their way back to the fields where they belonged. I was a collector in need of an obsession. In 2007, I found what I was looking for: a dead media format called LaserDisc. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: SJSU Takes Big Step a Metropolitan University

Last week, a gala groundbreaking hoedown for the new Interdisciplinary Science Building (ISB) at San Jose State University unfolded to serious fanfare. Clocking in at eight stories and $181 million, it is the first new academic building on campus in 30 years. They even had ice cream. The ISB will transform the status of several academic departments, offering a refreshing update from crumbling facilities and decrepit buildings left over from 50 or 60 years ago that many are forced to tolerate. In the new building, teaching, research and collaboration will converge in ways previously unseen in the old, outdated structures. » Read More

Advice Goddess: 'This is Ridiculous. Grow Up, Ladies!'

If only these two would do as a 60-year-old dude in the U.K. just did to dispute a ticket he got on his motorcycle: He invoked what The Telegraph called "the ancient right to trial by combat." Not surprisingly, local magistrates decided to stick him with a fine instead of accepting his proposal of a duel "to the death" with a motor vehicles clerk, using "samurai swords, Gurkha knives or heavy hammers." » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 1, 2019

"How prompt we are to satisfy the hunger and thirst of our bodies," wrote Henry David Thoreau. "How slow to satisfy the hunger and thirst of our souls!" Your first assignment in the coming days, Aries, is to devote yourself to quenching the hunger and thirst of your soul with the same relentless passion that you normally spend on giving your body the food and drink it craves. This could be challenging. You may be less knowledgeable about what your soul thrives on than what your body loves. So your second assignment is to do extensive research to determine what your soul needs to thrive. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Biographer Spent Decades Poring Over Beethoven's Life

Thayer would eventually become the first writer to produce a reliable biography of the irascible composer, which is why a new exhibit, The Art of Biography: Beethoven and Steinbeck, just opened in the Martin Luther King Jr., Main Library. Organized by two SJSU institutions on the library's fifth floor, the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies and the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies, the exhibit celebrates Thayer's life as well as that of Steinbeck. In the latter case, a new Steinbeck biography, written by William Souder, Mad at The World: John Steinbeck and the American Century, is in the works. Souder will keynote the upcoming 2019 Steinbeck Conference at SJSU May 1 through 3. » Read More

Advice Goddess: I'd Kill Myself Before I Don a Blazer

Gino explains that a person who is seen to be deliberately violating workplace wardrobe norms sends a message that they are so powerful that they can shrug off the potential costs of not following convention. Anthropologists and zoologists call this a costly signal: a trait or behavior that's so wastefully extravagant that only the most mojo-rific people or critters could afford to display it. This suggests to observers that it's more likely to be legit and not false advertising. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of April 24, 2019

In the U.S., the day after Thanksgiving typically features a spectacular shopping orgy. On "Black Friday," stores sell their products at steep discounts and consumers spend their money extravagantly. But the creators of the game Cards Against Humanity have consistently satirized the tradition. In 2013, for example, they staged a Black Friday "anti-sale," for which they raised their prices. The coming weeks will be a favorable time for you to try something similar. Is it possible you're undercharging for your products and services and skills? If so, consider asking for more. Reassess your true worth and seek appropriate rewards. » Read More

Silican Valley

This Saturday marks the second fully legal 4/20 in California history. However, according to the letter of the law, smoking, vaping, sipping or eating cannabis in public remains illegal, creating a cloud of uncertainty and paranoia for those who would prefer a pre-roll over a cigarette on the patio of their favorite pub. This is certainly true in San Jose. The Capital of Silicon Valley is also the South Bay's capital for cannabis dispensaries. But when it comes to open displays of consumption, the city comes up short--especially compared to northerly neighbors, such as Oakland and San Francisco, where it is still easier to find openly advertised THC-infused activities. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: A Tramp Through Chaplin's World, From San Jose to Switzerland

In 1915, when Charlie Chaplin made his short film A Night Out, the Tramp's exploits included some footage in downtown San Jose, at the Alcantara building, the red brick structure at Post and Market streets. It wasn't Chaplin's only appearance in this neck of the woods, of course. Some 20 years later, Chaplin would also visit his good friend John Steinbeck, while the author was writing The Grapes of Wrath in Los Gatos. This means without even leaving my own neighborhoods I can walk in the Tramp's footsteps. Yet this wasn't enough. It's never enough. So, last month, it was time to "expand my outreach," as the power-networking gurus say, and go straight to the source: Chaplin's World, a museum unlike anything I've ever visited, in » Read More

Advice Goddess: Shouldn't Invitations for House Guests be a Joint Decision?

Hearing feelings instead of blame allows you to empathize with each other. (Hint: You should actively try to empathize and, in mediator lingo, validate feelings, meaning let the other person know that you get where they're coming from.) For example, in addressing this guest issue, you might've said to your wife, "I hear how important family is to you." Hearing that you understand eliminates the need for her to try to make you--meaning she can approach the conflict between you more like a loving partner than a "GOT" swordsmistress. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of April 17, 2019

French writer Simone de Beauvoir sent a letter to her lover, Aries author Nelson Algren. She wrote, "I like so much the way you are so greedy about life and yet so quiet, your eager greediness and your patience, and your way of not asking much of life and yet taking much because you are so human and alive that you find much in everything." I'd love to see you embody that state in the coming weeks, Aries. In my astrological opinion, you have a mandate to be both utterly relaxed and totally thrilled; both satisfied with what life brings you and skillfully avid to extract the most out of it; both at peace with what you already have and primed to grab for much more. » Read More

Bonfire of the Absurdities

The book begins with a metaphorical prologue about the fictional Palo Alto Sea Park, which cannibalizes itself overnight in a tidal wave of blood and salt water. As the sharks are loosed from their tanks, they first feed on the nearby dolphins, then on the lesser marine mammals, smaller fish and birds. The lone survivor, a one-eyed sea lion, makes it through all the carnage by sheer luck. He is celebrated by the community, named Fred and eventually made Anahata's mascot. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Poetry Festival Highlights Elemental Verse

On the campus of San Jose State University, poets and meteorologists will join together to raise awareness about the effects of climate change, via an interdisciplinary festival over several days next week. Each April, SJSU celebrates National Poetry Month and Earth Day Week by hosting the Legacy of Poetry Festival. This year, faculty scientists will participate in a symposium with poets who regularly explore issues of ecology, sustainability and climate change in their work. The theme of the festival is Water and Fire, after two of the five main elements. Both elements can either sustain life or destroy it. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Am I Crazy to Want Eye Contact When I'm Talking?

Chotpitayasunondh's research suggests that being phubbed by friends and acquaintances threatens our fundamental need for "belongingness." Other research on phubbing's effects in romantic partnerships finds (again, not surprisingly) that it erodes intimacy and makes for less-satisfying relationships and diminished personal well-being. Regarding phubbers' skewed priorities, the title of a study by communications prof James A. Roberts says it all: "My life has become a major distraction from my cell phone." » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of April 10, 2019

The Qing Dynasty controlled China from the mid-17th century to the early 20th century. It was the fifth biggest empire in world history. But eventually it faded, as all mighty regimes do. Revolution came in 1911, forcing the last emperor to abdicate and giving birth to the Republic of China. I'm inclined to think of your life in 2019 as having some similarities to that transition. It's the end of one era and the beginning of another; a changing of the guard and a passing of the torch. The coming weeks will be a favorable time to be very active in deciding and visualizing the empire you want next. » Read More

The Giving Machine

A tip for any aspiring tech networker or VC stalker looking to exchange business cards and make impressions at the next Silicon Valley mixer: Avoid mentioning the name Anand Giridharadas. That probably won't go well. The journalist and author has positioned himself right up there with Elizabeth Warren among names that can trigger dirty looks in the cafes of Mountain View and Palo Alto. In recent months, Giridharadas has received texts from friends in the Valley that describe fights breaking out at dinner parties at the mention of his 2018 book Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Montreux Archives Hold Tens of Thousands of Hours of Music

Last week, Thierry Amsallem laughed out loud while telling numerous stories about the Montreux Jazz Festival. When he gave me a tour of the Montreux Jazz digital archives on the campus of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), his laughter evoked a true passion for all things Montreux and all things music. "Montreux is a live recording studio with an audience," Amsallem said, emphasizing how the festival has regularly pioneered advances in audio and video recording technology. Claude Nobs launched the festival in 1967. Amsallem came on board 20 years later while still in grad school. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Is My Messy Place Keeping Me Single?

When a guy you're dating wants to buy you something, it shouldn't be a vacuum. That said, there's being dirty (that is, unclean) and there's being untidy, and they're two different things. In research looking at relationship deal breakers by evolutionary psychologist Peter K. Jonason and his colleagues, 63 percent of men named a "disheveled or unclean appearance" as the single biggest turnoff in a potential partner. However, it's important to note that this measure was about personal hygiene, and you apparently don't have mossy teeth or BO that sets off CDC scanners. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of April 3, 2019

A mushroom shaped like a horse's hoof grows on birch trees in parts of Europe and the U.S. If you strip off its outer layer, you get amadou, spongy stuff that's great for igniting fires. It's not used much anymore, but it was a crucial resource for some of our ancestors. As for the word "amadou," it's derived from an old French term that means "tinder, kindling, spunk." The same word was formerly used to refer to a person who is quick to light up or to something that stimulates liveliness. In accordance with astrological omens, I'm making "Amadou" your nickname for the next four weeks. » Read More

The Best of Silicon Valley 2019

Rising rents and wrecking balls are transforming the valley at a pace we haven't seen. As owner-operated institutions exit to make way for the latest and greatest--ramen from Tokyo, shirtings from across the Atlantic--and modest mid-century buildings give up their seats to accommodate another cluster of rectangles with big numbers on them, we can take comfort in knowing that some traditions persist. Since starting the valley's first and longest-running reader-chosen "best of" list more than a third of a century ago, Metro has provided a yearly snapshot of a dynamic region's perpetual evolution. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: SJSU Alumnus' New Opera Envisions 'Frankenstein' as Futuristic Dystopia

In Brussels last week, SJSU School of Music alumnus Mark Grey debuted his first full-length opera, a work based on Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Over six years in the making and running two hours and 40 minutes, the opera completed a nearly sold-out run of eight performances at La Monnaie, Belgium's federal opera house. Originally slotted for 2016, the production was put back a few years due to renovations of the La Monnaie building. The afternoon matinee on Sunday, March 17, felt particularly historical because three other School of Music alumni and former classmates of Grey's from the same era, but now living in three different countries, all descended upon the performance. Of course, yours truly was one » Read More

Advice Goddess: My Friends Don't Understand the Pressure on Straight, Single Women

So I do understand the desire for dermatological intervention in lieu of a little windup thingy behind your neck that you could crank to tighten the face flesh. That said, your friends probably feel they have a right (and maybe even a mandate) to tell you what to do--probably because they're trying to look out for you. The problem is, criticizing people doesn't make them want to change; it makes them want to clobber the person doing the criticizing. And this seems to be the case whether that person is giving unsolicited advice to a friend or muttering "Dude, seriously on the 24-pack of doughnuts?" to that stout stranger in the supermarket. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of March 27, 2019

Kermit the Frog from Sesame Street is the world's most famous puppet. He has recorded songs, starred in films and TV shows, and written an autobiography. His image has appeared on postage stamps and he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Kermit's beginnings were humble, however. When his creator Jim Henson first assembled him, he consisted of Henson's mom's green coat and two halves of a white ping pong ball. I mention this, Aries, because the current astrological omens suggest that you, too, could make a puppet that will one day have great influence. APRIL FOOL! I half-lied. Here's the whole truth: Now isn't a favorable time to start work on a magnificent puppet, but it is a perfect moment to launch the rough beginnings of a project » Read More

Stand Up Guy

For most of his life, Joe Sib has made his own way. The Santa Cruz native--who grew up in the Olive Springs Road outlands of Soquel before moving to San Jose in his teens--had a major-label contract with his pop-punk band Wax by his early 20s. In the mid-'90s, he co-founded SideOneDummy Records, the indie label that launched the careers of bands as diverse as Flogging Molly, the Gaslight Anthem and Gogol Bordello. In 2009, he toured a one-man show called California Calling, based on his memories of the 1980s South Bay punk-skate scene that produced Steve Caballero, Corey O'Brien and many others. Not long after, he started touring as a stand-up comedian. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Cinequest Films Give Voice to the Dispossessed

Thanks to Cinequest, the gritty underbellies of Cincinnati and Tucson took over downtown San Jose, in the forms of Emilio Estevez and Brian Jabas Smith, whose films depicted the margins of society without exploitation or judgment. First of all, a trailer opened up every Cinequest film this year, with a wise man declaring that everyone who journeys through the festival will expect the unexpected. At least for me, this is already a prime characteristic of Cinequest: The unexpected experience that emerges without any possible planning. Weird connections, either professional, artistic or just plain crazy always seem to occur. Serendipitous moments of synchronicity appear on both micro and macro levels, even in a stretch of less than 24 hours. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Should We Go to Therapy?

You're in a relationship, not a coma. That said, your worries are understandable. There's been a belief that crushing on somebody other than one's partner is the gateway to cheating. Obviously, crushy thoughts about, say, a co-worker can lead to a hookup (or more) in a way that matter-of-fact thoughts do not. However, it turns out that researchers failed to make the distinction between having a crush (an attraction to a person other than one's partner) and having a high degree of what's called "attention to alternatives" (basically, eyeballs ever on the prowl for "attractive alternatives" to one's current partner). » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of March 20, 2019

In the animated kids' film Over the Hedge, 10 talking animals come upon a massive, towering hedge they've never seen. The friendly group consists of a skunk, red squirrel, box turtle, two opossums and five porcupines. The hedge perplexes and mystifies them. It makes them nervous. There's nothing comparable to it in their previous experience. One of the porcupines says she would be less afraid of it if she just knew what it was called, whereupon the red squirrel suggests that from now on they refer to it as "Steve." After that, they all feel better. I recommend that you borrow their strategy in the coming weeks. If a Big Unknown arrives in your vicinity, dub it "Steve" or "Betty." » Read More

Blood Sport

A gaggle of photographers stands in the courtyard of downtown San Jose's federal building on a cold January day. It's clearly a bigger deal than the hacker trials or corporate battles, such as Apple v. Samsung, that unfold there and sometimes attract media attention. "Which case?" I ask. "Theranos," a paparazzo replies. A reporter spots the 35-year-old founder and former CEO in a hallway, before she ducks into a room by the exit. "She's fixing her hair," the reporter speculates. A few minutes pass and Elizabeth Holmes emerges with her attorney. She's dressed in an all-black pants suit, with hair tied back. She looks straight ahead as she takes long, purposeful strides and the cameras follow her to the crosswalk by Original Joe's. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Tandoori Fusion Grill Gets a Makeover

If the hideous beige buildings of downtown San Jose tend to bring you down, if the neighborhood's decades-old color palette of faded brown, off-white and jaundice yellow depresses you, then hire Patrick Hofmeister. Especially if you're trying to bootstrap an Indian fusion restaurant. Situated directly across from City Hall in a location formerly occupied by a seedy pho joint, Tandoori Fusion Grill opened a few years ago, but now finds itself with a brand-new matrix of resources. Hofmeister initially showed up as a customer, but soon realized he could provide additional skill sets and connections to accentuate the eatery's already intriguing culinary delights. As a result, he became business partners with owner Jagath Ranasinghe, who then » Read More

Advice Goddess: Why Can't He Figure Things Out on His Own?

Still, it isn't a surprise that you'd go, "Wait...faithful to the first one, faithful to the next one; must've been why these relationships tanked!" This leap you're making probably comes out of how uncomfortable our minds are with uncertainty. According to research by cognitive neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga, a mechanism in our brain's left hemisphere that he calls "the interpreter" steps in to fill in the blanks, to save us from the cognitive chaos by coming up with an explanation. Unfortunately, it's like the world's sloppiest detective. It quickly scans for any patterns or vaguely plausible meanings and then just goes with them, creating a narrative that seems to make sense of our experience (and never mind the tedious snore of » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of March 13, 2019

The coming weeks might be a good time to acquire a flamethrower. It would come in handy if you felt the urge to go to a beach and incinerate mementos from an ex-ally. It would also be useful if you wanted to burn stuff that reminds you of who you used to be and don't want to be any more; or if you got in the mood to set ablaze symbols of questionable ideas you used to believe in but can't afford to believe in any more. If you don't want to spend $1,600-plus on a flamethrower, just close your eyes for 10 minutes and visualize yourself performing acts of creative destruction like those I mentioned. » Read More

The Shape of Film To Come

This year's Cinequest embraces art's capacity to surprise, shock and challenge. Rebranded as the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival, the theme for 2019 is "The Unexpected." Along with movies, the festival will feature more live dance, poetry and on-stage performance than ever before. And, as it has for the past several years, Cinequest will continue to showcase the latest in virtual reality and augmented reality, with demonstrations, workshops and talks focused on the state of the art. The idea is to give fans and film professionals a glimpse of what the future of virtual reality storytelling might look like. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Dinner at Montalvo Proves an Enlightening Experience

For almost six months, the stunning light-based works of Bruce Munro have illuminated the nighttime spirits of Villa Montalvo. Ranging from enormous landscape installations to more intimate projects, the 10 exhibits, collectively titled Stories in Light, transform the Montalvo environs until March 17. So far, several thousand visitors have parked at West Valley College and paid to ride a shuttle into the grounds, where the lawns, gardens, terraces and other structures now conjure up wonderlands based on C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, thanks to Munro. When Stories in Light began to wind down its run few weeks ago, the anti-man-about-town showed up to witness a panel session inside the Carriage House Theatre, titled, "Artists on Light » Read More

Advice Goddess: She Doesn't Want to Wait, and I Don't Want to Lose Her

Men coevolved to expect this, and feel they need to rise to the occasion in order to get (and retain) the ladies. In other words, you, as a man, are psychologically driven to feel unsettled when, in terms of sheer earning power, you're just this side of living in your car. This might lead you to wonder why, if you're so wigged out about being broke, your girlfriend's evolved psychology seems to be all "yeah, whatever." Well, there was no such thing as wealth in ancestral times, so cues to the ability to acquire resources seem to point to mate quality. As I've written before, a woman's seeing ambition, entrepreneurial thinking and high intelligence in a guy who isn't exactly raking in the bucks with a crop harvester may ring enough of her » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of March 6, 2019

Genius inventor Thomas Edison rebelled against sleep, which he regarded as wasteful. He tried to limit his time in bed to four hours per night so he would have more time to work during his waking hours. Genius scientist Albert Einstein had a different approach. He preferred 10 hours of sleep per night, and liked to steal naps during the day, too. In my astrological opinion, Aries, you're in a phase when it makes more sense to imitate Einstein than Edison. Important learning and transformation are happening in your dreams. Give your nightly adventures maximum opportunity to work their magic on your behalf. » Read More

Escape from the Bay

In a sprawling Santa Clara business park, on a former Memorex building's third floor, a human-sized plastic dragon stands poised to attack. Teeth bared and legs akimbo, it resembles a boss in some medieval-themed video game. Stroke its scaly neck just right, and it will roar. Opposite this mythical beast, two retro arcade gaming consoles are hooked up to large flat-screen monitors. They are loaded with thousands of old school titles, from Dragonball Z and Street Fighter II to Space Invaders and Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Cinequest Opener Chronicles Struggles of a Literary Troublemaker

Next Tuesday, March 5, Cinequest opens its 2019 festival in soaring fashion, as the illustrious Nandita Das shows up in person to present her film about Manto's life, simply titled Manto, at 7:15pm. Many of Manto's stories do not conform to creative writing teacher requirements in that they don't have a resolution, an obstacle to overcome or any dramatic transformation of the protagonist. They function more as sketches or vignettes, vividly rendering the despair, displacement and madness of the Partition era. And Manto spared no one. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Am I Wrong for Wanting Him to Stop Talking to Her?

I'm a 35-year-old woman who's been married for a year to a 70-year-old man. My husband's closest female friend is also one of his exes. He's known her for 40 years. She's a real sore point for me. She stayed at our apartment while we were away. She wouldn't reply to any of my emails but constantly emailed my husband. Recently, I saw a text my husband sent telling her to just email him at work because I have access to his phone. (That's how I discovered that she was dissuading him from fixing things with me when we were fighting.) I feel that a husband shouldn't have marriage-undermining friendships. I want him to stop talking with her. Am I wrong here? » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of February 27, 2019

The astrology column you're reading is published in periodicals in four countries: the U.S., Canada, Italy and France. In all of these places, women have had a hard time acquiring political power. Neither the U.S. nor Italy has ever had a female head of government. France has had one, Edith Cresson, who served less than a year as prime minister. Canada has had one, Kim Campbell, who was in office for 132 days. That's the bad news. The good news is that the coming months will be a more favorable time than usual to boost feminine authority and enhance women's ability to shape our shared reality. And you Tauruses of all genders will be in prime position to foster that outcome. Homework: Meditate on specific ways you could contribute, even if » Read More

Broken Book

Nowhere in his new book, Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe, does McNamee make such a claim. The problem is that when a CEO lives in a filter bubble, everything that happens downstream from him will probably reflect the CEO's own predicament. McNamee, a decades-long Silicon Valley investor, has held significant positions in many firms over the years, leading growth-stage investments in Electronic Arts, Sybase and Radius before co-founding Integral Capital Partners, a fund created in tandem with Kleiner Perkins, which put him at ground zero for the internet revolution. He was there on the very day Jeff Bezos pitched Amazon and when Larry and Sergey pitched Google. His most recent fund, Elevation Partners, included U2's Bono as a » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Play on Words Lets Storytellers See Their Works' Flexibility

Call it migratory collaboration. This Sunday, thanks to the San Jose Museum of Art and a local literary performance series, Play on Words, an international program of stories will erupt in conjunction with the museum's current initiative, New Terrains: Mobility & Migration. Whoever registers in advance to attend the literary event won't have to pay museum admission. Play on Words began six years ago. To date, the series has migrated through a variety of venues, from Cafe Stritch to Saint James Park, uniting performance artists, actors, theater enthusiasts, fiction writers and community gadflies. Play on Words operates via a submission process similar to literary journals, in that anyone can submit work for consideration: poetry, fiction, » Read More

Advice Goddess: Why are Men So Intimidated by Funny Women?

As a powerful, confident woman, you can make a man feel like a real animal: a Chihuahua in a bee suit nervously peeking out of a little old lady's purse. Social science research finds that there's a bit of a chasm between what men think they want in a female partner and what they actually end up being comfortable with. For example, when social psychologist Lora E. Park surveyed male research participants, 86 percent said they'd feel comfortable dating female partners smarter than they are. They likewise said they'd go for a (hypothetical) woman who beat their scores in every category on an exam. However, when they were in a room with a woman who supposedly did, the men not only expressed less interest in her but moved their chairs away » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of February 20, 2019

In December 1915, the California city of San Diego was suffering from a draught. City officials hired a professional "moisture accelerator" named Charles Hatfield, who promised to make it rain. Soon Hatfield was shooting explosions of a secret blend of chemicals into the sky from the top of a tower. The results were quick. A deluge began in early January of 1916 and persisted for weeks. Thirty inches of rain fell, causing floods that damaged the local infrastructure. The moral of the story, as far as you're concerned, Aries: when you ask for what you want and need, specify exactly how much you want and need. Don't make an open-ended request that could bring you too much of a good thing. » Read More

Generation Q

When Justin Pomariga turned 18 last year, he dragged his mother to San Francisco to shop with him at Mr. S, the legendary leather and fetish store. He'd been anticipating his birthday for months, awaiting the day he could legally jump into the BDSM scene after years of Internet research. "My mom is a very liberal person," he says. But she hadn't quite understood what her kid was into before they entered the store. "When she walked in there, she was like, 'Justin, look at this!'" he remembers. "She picked up a dildo, and I'm like, 'What are you doing with that? Put that away!'" » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Downtown Tattoo Studio's Vibe is More Than Skin Deep

Out beyond the darkness and the light, there is a milieu of Tibetan prayer flags, cholo artwork, posters, mirrors, spiritual knickknacks and demon masks. To riff on Rumi, I will meet you there. To be more specific, I speak of Paco Excel's Death Before Dishonor tattoo studio, a fixture at the otherwise constantly changing area of Third and San Carlos in downtown San Jose. The multi-story faded brown Victorian house first housed the legendary New Skool Tattoo shop back in 1995 until a bifurcation of historic proportion spawned an offspring, Death Before Dishonor, in 2008. One room, the separate yet related Bodhidharma Gallery, will host an art show by Joe Demaree this Sunday from noon to 5pm. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Am I a Magnet for Guys with Mommy Issues?

Buss notes that there are some stumbling blocks for men in short-term mating mode. A major one is "the problem of avoiding commitment." That's where you older but still hot ladies sometimes come in. Older women are less likely to demand a relationship with an age-inappropriate partner, and are also likely to be sexually experienced and sexually adventuresome in a way younger women aren't. And unlike younger women, who are often shy about expressing what they want in bed, older women can stop just short of going all Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: "Faster, you maggot! And 3 millimeters up and a centimeter to the left!" » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of February 13, 2019

When directors of movies say, "It's a wrap," they mean that the shooting of a scene has been finished. They may use the same expression when the shooting of the entire film is completed. That's not the end of the creative process, of course. All the editing must still be done. Once that's accomplished, the producer may declare that the final product is "in the can," and ready to be released or broadcast. From what I can determine, Aries, you're on the verge of being able to say, "It's a wrap" for one of your own projects. There'll be more work before you're ready to assert, "It's in the can." » Read More

Low & Slow

It took Inda more than a year and a half to amass the materials now on display in "Story & King: San Jose's Lowriding Culture," a multi-floor exhibit at the MLK Library. The hardest part, she says, was getting people to respond to her requests for materials. Many of those she sought had moved out of the area and didn't have Facebook accounts or email address that she could readily look up. Nonetheless, Inda pressed on. And in the end, around 100 people contributed to the exhibit. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: 'Moby-Dick' Gets Operatic Treatment at SJICA

This week, you can call me Ishmael. When I walked into the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (SJICA) for Opera San Jose's preview of Moby-Dick, I felt like the existential outcast narrator of that book, or maybe even Queequeg, compared to the genteel opera fans who jam-packed the gallery for the presentation. Many of them had never before entered SJICA, while, at the same time, some of the gallery folk did not even know composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer had written an opera after Moby-Dick. Opera San Jose's version sets sail this weekend at the California Theatre. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Are Guys Cool with Cosmetic Surgery in General?

They give the example of what I call "Popsicle birdie"--how "a black-headed gull will show its normal aggressive response to a stuffed gull's head mounted on a stick, with no body." And then there's the male stickleback fish, which gets red on the underside when in mating mode and will attack any other red-bellied male that enters its territory. In fact, mail also seems to be a problem: A researcher's male sticklebacks were observed attacking the side of their aquarium when a red mail van passed by the window of the lab. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of February 6, 2019

Climbing mountains has been a popular adventure since the 19th century, but there are still many peaks around the world that no one has ever ascended. They include the 24,591-foot-high Muchu Chhish in Pakistan, 23,691-foot Karjiang South in Tibet, and 12,600-foot Sauyr Zhotasy on the border of China and Kazakhstan. If there are any Aries mountaineers reading this horoscope who have been dreaming about conquering an unclimbed peak, 2019 will be a great time to do it, and now would be a perfect moment to plan or launch your quest. As for the rest of you Aries, what's your personal equivalent of reaching the top of an unclimbed peak? » Read More

Aesthetic Growth

But the SVP, as it has come to be known in shorthand, fits as snugly into 2019 as any other start-up in the Valley. The aspiring arts academy is not new; it first opened its doors near the Children's Discovery Museum in 2013. But in the last few months, it has relocated to a dramatically larger space at 1065 The Alameda, directly across the street from Recycle Bookstore in the building that generations of San Jose denizens will remember as Fontanetti's Batting Cages. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Diverse, Talented Authors Spice Up Local Literary Scene

A vibrant matrix of author events will enhance the landscape of San Jose this spring, slaughtering the Western literary canon of dead white drunks. First up, an open house for San Jose State's MFA program in creative writing erupts from 6:30 to 8pm Thursday in the Steinbeck Center of the MLK Library. All are welcome, especially those who want to meet professors and MFA students, or learn anything about applying to the program. Finding a tribe of writers in San Jose to hang with anywhere can seem impossible, so this event can be a great place to start. » Read More

Advice Goddess: They're Just Pictures ... What's the Big Deal?

Research by C. Daniel Batson suggests that trying to feel what another person is feeling leads us to have empathy, "which has been found to evoke altruistic motivation." In contrast, though imagining how we would feel if we were in the other person's shoes produces empathy, too, the researchers found that it also produces "personal distress, which has been found to evoke egoistic motivation. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 30, 2019

Here are your fortune cookie-style horoscopes for the next five months. FEBRUARY: You'll be invited to make a pivotal transition in the history of your relationship with your most important life goals. It should be both fun and daunting! MARCH: Don't waste time and energy trying to coax others to haul away the junk and the clutter. Do it yourself. APRIL: The growing pains should feel pretty good. Enjoy the uncanny stretching sensations. MAY: It'll be a favorable phase to upgrade your personal finances. Think richer thoughts. Experiment with new ideas about money. JUNE: Build two strong bridges for every rickety bridge you burn. Create two vital connections for every stale connection you leave behind. » Read More

Winter Arts 2019

Now that the holidays have passed, it's time for Silicon Valley to get back to work. It can be tough to muster the energy--what with the cold, the rain and the weak sunlight. But that's not stopping the local creative community. All over the South Bay, dancers and performers are limbering up, live music venues are switching on the amplifiers, theaters are drawing back their curtains and museums are splashing some color against the dull, gray of winter. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: At 60, KFJC Keeps College Radio Sounding Fresh

When I first started to listening to KFJC 89.7 FM in the mid-'80s, diamonds were nowhere to be found. It was the height of the college radio era, when "alternative" still meant alternative and the station at Foothill College featured the most forward-thinking, provocative, blasphemous and necessarily unpredictable music programming anywhere. I'd hear thrash metal, surf, reggae, film noir, Wayne Newton at the wrong speed, ukulele music and children's instructional records from the '40s all on the same program. Or maybe all at the same time. I didn't even know where Foothill College was, but that didn't seem to matter. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Am I Prudish and Out of Touch?

As in the advertising world, in the natural world there are many, shall we say, less than truthful messages--from humans, animals, and even some nasty little con artists of the plant world. Take the flower Ophrys apifera, aka the bee orchid. The bee orchid puts out fake female bee scent, and it's got markings and a slight coating of "fur" like female bees. The poor little sex-mad male bees try to hump the bee orchids and, in the process, pick up orchid pollen that they end up transferring when they try their luck with the next orchid in a lady bee suit. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 23, 2019

We might initially be inclined to ridicule Stuart Kettell, a British man who spent four days pushing a Brussels sprout up 3,560-foot-high Mount Snowden with his nose. But perhaps our opinion would become more expansive once we knew that he engaged in this stunt to raise money for a charity that supports people with cancer. In any case, the coming weeks would be a favorable time for you, too, to engage in extravagant, extreme or even outlandish behavior in behalf of a good or holy cause. » Read More

Last Man Standing

He was probably the least likely person on Earth to be taken for a seminal figure in the annals of the Beat literary movement, but lanky, easy-going, sweet-smiling Al Hinkle was certainly a critical lynchpin in that history. Raised in pool-hall Denver with his childhood pal, the iconic Beat figure (and writer) Neal Cassady, it was the recently married Hinkle (along with his bride, the former Helen Argee) who jumped into Cassady's brand-new maroon-and-silver Hudson sedan for a crisscross continental journey that eventually included Jack Kerouac (then an unknown writer), Luanne Henderson (one of Cassady's many girlfriends), and an assortment of other hitchhikers and hangers-on who were all immortalized in Kerouac's seminal 1957 Beat novel, » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Homage to SJSU Athletes is More Than Sum of Its Parts

Some serious political tightrope-walking took place, right from the initial idea stage and through the fundraising process, then with the request for proposal, and all the way to the final unveiling in October of 2005. None of it was a piece of cake. Now, thanks to local gadfly and filmmaker Cotton Stevenson, a 20-minute documentary, STAND, includes original rare footage of the statue being created, as well as footage of Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Peter Norman speaking at the unveiling ceremony in 2005, an event this columnist attended. On Friday, Jan. 18, the San Jose Peace and Justice Center at 48 S. Seventh St. will screen the film at 7pm, followed by a Q&A session with the filmmaker. » Read More

Advice Goddess: Do I Have a Valid Reason for Feeling Ignored?

If your girlfriend imagined what you'd be doing in her absence, it probably wasn't standing over the phone for 72 hours straight, willing it to ring. Chances are she isn't entirely tuned in to how insecure you are about her commitment to you. Also, wedding weekends these days tend to be packed with activities from breakfast to nightcap. So...there's an initial idea of how much alone time one would have, and then there's the actual free time between sleep, showering, and "Our ride's here! You can take your rollers out on the way to the church!" » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 16, 2019

In 1917, leaders of the Christian sect Jehovah's Witnesses prophesied that all earthly governments would soon disappear and Christianity would perish. In 1924, they predicted that the ancient Hebrew prophet Moses would be resurrected and speak to people everywhere over the radio. In 1938, they advised their followers not to get married or have children, because the end of civilization was nigh. In 1974, they said there was only a "short time remaining before the wicked world's end." I bring these failed predictions to your attention, Aries, so as to get you in the mood for my prediction, which is that all prophecies that have been made about your life up until now are as wrong as the Jehovah Witnesses' visions. In 2019, your life will be » Read More

High Fiber Showdown

In an age cluttered with Instagram influencers, YouTube stars and Russian Twitter bots, it may feel as though we've reached peak internet. There is more on-demand content to consume than ever before, and it is possible to access from just about anywhere--as long as there is decent WiFi or cellular service. But in her new book, Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution--And Why America Might Miss It, Susan Crawford argues that we are only scraping the surface of the web's potential. Furthermore, the John A. Reilly clinical professor at Harvard Law School says there is much more at stake than crystal-clear 4K television. In fact, Crawford argues, if the United States continues to lag behind on its adoption of direct-to-consumer fiber optic networks, » Read More

Silicon Alleys: New Book Explores Church of UFO

Pasulka, a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, will speak about American Cosmic on Jan. 17 at Cubberley Theatre in Palo Alto, sponsored by the Commonwealth Club-Silicon Valley, at 7pm. She is not a current or former government agent or conspiracy theorist. Instead, she analyzes the UFO phenomenon from an academic religious studies perspective, meaning she studies the resulting effects rather than whether or not anything is true. She also takes the approach of a media archaeologist in that she uses examples of forgotten media from previous eras to help examine how the current media landscape of cinema, TV and social media exacerbates and distorts the phenomenon. More than anything, American Cosmic » Read More

Advice Goddess: Aging is Especially Unkind to Women on Dating Sites

Men's continuing attraction to 20-something women makes evolutionary sense, as, the researchers note, the highest fertility in women "has been estimated to occur in the mid-20s." However, when older men are asked to think practically, women more similar in age have a shot. For example, research led by evolutionary social psychologist Abraham Buunk found that "men of 60 years old would marry a woman of 55." » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 9, 2019

Computer-generated special effects used in the 1993 film Jurassic Park may seem modest to us now, but at the time they were revolutionary. Inspired by the new possibilities revealed, filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas and Peter Jackson launched new projects they had previously thought to be beyond their ability to create. In 2019, I urge you to go in quest of your personal equivalent of Jurassic Park's pioneering breakthroughs. According to my analysis of the astrological omens, you may be able to find help and resources that enable you to get more serious about seemingly unfeasible or impractical dreams. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: Animal Houses

After leaving Tenth Street, I lived near the SoFA district, then moved to N. Sixth Street, S. Seventh Street, S. Fifth Street, S. Ninth Street and then finally a friend's living room on Second Street as Y2K emerged. Beethoven lived a similar life in Vienna, moving from place to place. Same thing with Kafka in Prague. So they've got my back. Together, all of the dwellings served as fodder for novels I started and failed to finish, so now I'll reflect on some of the highlights I think influenced columns in the current era. At 361 N. Tenth, for example, each of the five roommates paid about $200 a month to live in the house. We converted a detached garage into a venue, where bands played at our parties. One band, The Nowhere Men, featured a » Read More

Advice Goddess: Tough Puppy Love

I felt like the second coming of Cruella de Vil. Then I remembered something about dogs: they have a sense of smell on the level of superhero powers. Maybe my dog didn't have to be in bed; maybe near bed would do. I snagged a big see-through plastic container (maybe four feet long and three feet high) that my neighbors were tossing out. At bedtime, I put it next to my bed and put my dog in it with her bed and a pee pad. She turned around three times, curled up and went to sleep--after giving me a look I'm pretty sure said, "Hey, next time you're gonna throw me in 'the hole,' gimme some notice, and I'll menace the mailman with a sharpened Nylabone." » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 2, 2019

Millions of years ago, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, Antarctica, and North and South America were smooshed together. Earth had a single land mass, the supercontinent Pangea. Stretching across its breadth was a colossal feature, the Central Pangean Mountains. Eventually, though, Europe and America split apart, making room for the Atlantic Ocean and dividing the Central Pangean range. Today the Scottish Highlands and the Appalachian Mountains are thousands of miles apart, but once upon a time they were joined. In 2019, Gemini, I propose that you look for metaphorical equivalents in your own life. What disparate parts of your world had the same origin? What elements that are now divided used to be together? Re-establish their connection. » Read More

A Year in Review - 2018

The year began with a puff of smoke as California's legalization of recreational cannabis use went into effect on Jan. 1. Everyone from cardholders to newbies and recidivists lined up outside of pot clubs all over San Jose--the only South Bay city to allow dispensaries. Even those who don't indulge in the devil's lettuce could be forgiven for wondering whether they were in the grips of some kind of terrible trip. Paranoia and the kind of magical thinking many of us engaged in while listening to Pink Floyd in our freshman dorm rooms seemed to be the norm in 2018. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: A Year in Review

In the words of of Old Blue Eyes, it was a very good year for Silicon Alleys. As we put the lid on 2018, it is time yet again for me to review some of the most memorable material that crystallized on this page over the last 52 weeks, including local history, literature, music, sports, travel and the interstices between them all. Even though I hit 700 weekly columns last September, that reflective screed was only one of my most grateful moments. Many others throughout the year seemed to resonate across demographic boundaries, enabling me to at least pretend I knocked something out of the park. » Read More

Advice Goddess: How Do I Kindly Turn Them Down?

Because, for a woman, having sex can lead to nine months of soccer ball-like ankles and other pregnancy fun, plus (eventually) a child to feed, women seem to have evolved a protective bias toward under-perceiving men's level of commitment. Men, on the other hand, have a chance to pass on their genes every time they have sex. So they tend to have a sexual overperception bias—seeing signs of mere friendliness or even utter apathy as "This babe wants me!" » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of December 26, 2018

I suspect that in 2019 you'll be able to blend a knack for creating more stability with an urge to explore and seek greater freedom. How might this unusual confluence be expressed in practical ways? Maybe you'll travel to reconnect with your ancestral roots. Or perhaps a faraway ally or influence will help you feel more at home in the world. It's possible you'll establish a stronger foundation, which will in turn bolster your courage and inspire you to break free of a limitation. What do you think? » Read More

New Year's Eve 2019 in Silicon Valley

It's always darkest before the dawn. At least that's what they say. And as the sun sets on 2018, we find ourselves working increasingly in the sterile, flickering glow of artificial light. This Friday marks the winter solstice. We are entering the long dark. This time of year lends itself to contemplation and self-examination--as the weather drives us indoors and as tradition calls on all of us to strive toward self-improvement. And that's great and all ... but it can really be a bummer. » Read More

Silicon Alleys: A Poor Italian Village Boasts a Rich Cultural History

Just off Via Ridola in Matera, Italy, a dramatic view presents itself from a balcony in Piazzetta Giovanni Pascoli, a little plaza named after a local poet. From the landing, I can see the Sassi, the ancient cave dwellings of Matera. Many locals as well as tourists regularly gather at this vista point for the view.The Sassi date back to pre-Christian times, but one can make comparisons to ancient Jerusalem, which is why both Pier Paolo Pasolini and Mel Gibson filmed parts of their respective Christ movies here. It is the poet Pascoli, however, that informs my entire presence in Matera from the first moment. On my first night I stay at a humble bed and breakfast named Myricae, after Pascoli's first book of poetry, although I did not know » Read More

Advice Goddess: What's the Difference Between Chivalry and Politeness?

Research has found that benevolent sexism can be undermining to women, even leading them to feel less competent at their job. However, complicating things a bit, new research by social psychologists Pelin Gul and Tom R. Kupfer finds that women--including those with strong feminist beliefs--are attracted to men with benevolently sexist attitudes and behaviors despite finding these men "patronizing and undermining." The researchers theorize that what women are actually attracted to is the underlying signal that a man is willing to invest in them and any children they might have together. » Read More

Free Will Astrology: Week of December 26, 2018

Consumer Reports says that between 1975 and 2008, the average number of products for sale in a supermarket rose from about 9,000 to nearly 47,000. The glut is holding steady. Years ago you selected from among three or four brands of soup and shampoo. Nowadays you may be faced with 20 varieties of each. I suspect that 2019 will bring a comparable expansion in some of your life choices, Aries, especially when you're deciding what to do with your future and who your allies should be. This could be both a problem and a blessing. For best results, opt for choices that have all three of these qualities: fun, usefulness and meaningfulness. » Read More