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[whitespace] Stanford Theater Play Place: Diehard theater-goers and novices alike agree Palo Alto's Stanford Theatre is the place to catch a classic on-screen.

Photograph by George Sakkestad

Arts & Entertainment

Best Way to Avoid Depreciated Music

Jah's Music and Rhythms of Calypso
on KKUP 91.5FM 408.260.2999

Unlike people in towns like New York City who have radio stations solely devoted to reggae music, we in San Jose have to settle for three reggae shows a week (that air before midnight). Just when it seems as if no there's no avoiding Eminem, salvation arrives every Monday at noon with DJ Papa John's Jah's Music show on KKUP (91.5 FM). Take a break from the fast-paced world, crank up the bass and get irie. Also worth checking out is Rhythms of Calypso, a show that sometimes follows Papa John's. Infectious calypso and soca rhythms conjure up images of feathers and sequined-thong-clad booties shaking through the streets of Carnivale. JDT

Best Symphony Seats

Wash America
330 E. Santa Clara St., S.J. 408.998.2218

When it comes to good seats at the symphony, money talks. But for those of us who shirk the long lines, inflated prices and froufrou frocks for listening to Liszt, Wash America is just the ticket--in fact, there are no tickets at all. Nestled between a liquor store and a gift shop, the laundromat pipes out classical riffs from Mozart, Schubert and the ever-potent Wagner. As in Mozart's time, this is music by the people, for the people. Rather than shift uncomfortably in a symphony seat, suppressing the inevitable cough, listeners at Wash America can move about freely, folding laundry all the while. DC

Best Place to Experience (Nile) Valley Life

Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum & Planetarium
1342 Naglee Ave., S.J. 408.947.3600

What strikes a visitor most about the museum building and the artifacts is the color. The ancient Egypt of our mind's eye consists mostly of brown pyramids in sand-choked deserts. But the Egyptians were remarkably subtle in the use of colors--all shades of blue to blue-green reach out from across the ages. The mummies and the reconstructed tomb are perhaps the most popular exhibits, but the more personal, everyday items deserve pause too. The fishhooks are so sharp they look ready to be cast into the Guadelupe River. And the necklaces and amulets appear eerily modern, as if removed only last night from their owners and set out on a table beside the bed. Block out about three hours for a full tour. JDT

Best Cinematic Investment

Camera Cinemas
366 S. First St. and Second and San Carlos streets, S.J. 408.998.3300

No other theater chain in Silicon Valley beats the little chain that could, the local Camera art-house cinemas. What other chain boasts a Cinema Club for cinéastes or a cafe like Camera 3's, with its top-notch sandwiches and irresistible blue tortilla chips? And it isn't necessary to be a devotee of their artsy offerings to enjoy such Camera festivals as the Towne's "Asian Pop Cinema" showcase of Chinese and Japanese hits (currently on hiatus but due to resume) or midnight movie events like Camera One's recent John Waters marathon. Best of all, because of the mature or offbeat films the theaters show, audiences don't have to deal with that current fixture of blockbuster multiplexes: those annoying 14-year-old chatterboxes who ought to be smacked around with a tire iron. JA

Best Place to Crash a Wedding Reception and Never Know It

WORKS/San Jose
30 N. Third St., S.J. 408.295.8378

WORKS/San Jose bills itself as an interactive kind of gallery, though not in the Children's Discovery Museum sense (messing with some of the exhibits here might result in electrocution or other bodily harm). The nonprofit gallery embraces art well beyond what's hanging on its walls. Frequently, in addition to more traditional receptions and lectures for its exhibits, the gallery hosts performance nights that feature local bands, poets and everything from multimedia displays and punk shows to a concert by the washing-machine-trashing Gas Chamber Orchestra and performance art that imitates a wedding reception--or is it actually a wedding reception that imitates performance art? One of the cool things about WORKS/San Jose is, no one can quite tell. (The next performance night is Oct. 28.) HZ

Best Investment of Kids' (and Grown-ups') Time

Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo
1451 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto 650.329.2111

Although this museum and zoo are geared for the pint-size audience, their charm draws children and adults alike. Within walking distance of downtown Palo Alto, work-weary souls can escape their cubicles for the wild world of animals--from rotund raccoons to prowling bobcats, not to mention all the little tots exploring hands-on exhibits with huge smiles on their faces. Parents, too, will enjoy the place. Unlike other museums that display ubiquitous "Do Not Touch" signs, the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo encourages kids to interact with what they see. Older children can also cash in on the fun by joining one of the educational camps or classes where curiosity is warmly embraced. RC

Best Place to Find a Movie That Richard von Busack Has Never Seen

4546 El Camino Real #A12, Los Altos 650.947.0800

OK. What other video store in the Bay Area stocks Ghi-Rah, The Three-Headed Monster, co-starring Rodan, Mothra and Godzilla? Or a complete set of the Emmanuelle soft-porn series, including Emmanuelle the Queen, Black Emmanuelle, Emmanuelles 4 through 6, Emmanuelle in Soho, Forever Emmanuelle and, sadly, Goodbye, Emmanuelle. Or more horror films with blood in the title than seen on any video-store shelf anywhere: Bay of Blood, Bloody Moon, Blood Mania, The Legend of Blood Castle and The Torture Chamber of Baron Blood. Sure, every Blockbuster carries the Christopher Reeve Superman series, but what about George Reeves in Superman and the Mole Men? Started in 1982 with 15 videotapes to rent, Videoscope now has a library that includes 23,000 videos, 17,000 laser disks and 8,000 DVDs. Dramas, family movies, classics, opera, international titles from Italy, France, Britain, China, Japan, Germany. Wow! They've got Female Mercenaries on Zombie Island. Awesome! JDT

Best Place to Check Back on Wallflower Stock

Oaks Cupertino
21275 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino 408.446.0472

Ever wonder where movies go before they die or, rather, head to video? Try the Oaks. This surprisingly clean-looking discount theater, known for its reasonably priced membership cards, is perfect for catching that recent blockbuster you wanted to see but kept putting off. For instance, last spring, I wasn't sure if my bladder could endure the three-hour-plus Magnolia, but I was dying to watch it in a theater anyway (where its wide-screen compositions play best), so after months of agonizing, I finally went to see it at the Oaks a week before it disappeared. The Oaks also provides a nice alternative to the neighborhood video emporium, which often runs out of copies of its best rentals at the most inopportune times. A Cupertino fixture, the Oaks is in danger of being replaced by an upscale supermarket. As if Cupertino doesn't have enough of those. JA

Best Place for Making the Technological Connection

The Tech Museum of Innovation
201 S. First St., S.J. 408.294.TECH

I'm a sucker for this violet-domed, orange-colored marvel of a building. I love everything about this place: the hardwood floors, the interactive exhibits, the high ceilings and the gee-whiz thrill of it all that makes me go, "So that's where it came from." Call me a geek, but I have fun learning about what causes earthquakes and how bullet-proof vests work (many layers of Teflon), being reminded of the importance and history behind the written word (in one spring exhibit), and grasping space exploration. At the IMAX, I capped my day with the film Mount Everest, which chronicled the tale of several climbers who made it successfully or died tragically in their attempt. Above all, the Tech serves as a reminder of how and what got the valley rolling in the first place. GR

Best Capitol Gain

Capitol Drive-In Theaters
3630 Hillcap Ave., S.J. 408.226.2251

Every Tuesday night at the Capitol Drive-In Theaters, in the comfort of a reclining car seat, two movies cost only $3.50. I often choose to rebel against outrageous theater ticket and food prices by stocking up on munchies with the money saved by going to the drive-in. It's fun to chomp on a pizza or some yummy Thai food during the movie and laugh at the thought of those suckers next to you eating an overpriced wiener or too much stomachache-inducing candy. The Drive-In, located near the corner of Capitol Expressway and Snell, offers double features for $5.75 on the other days of the week (but it's closed Mondays). The first show starts around 7pm. and kids 11 and under get in free. Best of all, it's much more comfortable to fall asleep here than in a regular theater if the movie turns out to be a snoozer. JT

Best Place to View a Valley Investment

Stanford Theatre
221 University Ave., Palo Alto 650.324.3700

Nothing satisfies like seeing Audrey Hepburn--always a vision of sprightly charm and glamour--on the silver screen. After years of watching her on TV, whether it was chasing Cat in Breakfast at Tiffany's or dancing with Fred Astaire in Funny Face, I finally went to the Stanford and caught Roman Holiday, sitting among other mesmerized Audrey fans. Before the movie, David Woodley Packard--the benefactor who purchased and restored the 1,175-seat theater--also proclaimed his love for Audrey. Then, telling the audience that critics had recently blasted him for showing only the movies he wanted to play, he proudly announced that, by God, he--who had invested millions into the Stanford and funded the preservation of crumbling films at the UCLA film archives and the U.S. Library of Congress--was going to do just that. GR

Best Place to Get a Seat Close Enough to Slip the Actors a Mint

San Jose Stage Company
490 S. First St., S.J. 408.283.7142

If a real-estate agent tried to sell the theater where the San Jose Stage Company performs, he or she would likely describe it as "cozy" or "intimate." In real estate, such terms are euphemisms for cramped; in the world of live theater, they are good things. Just ask Randall King, the Stage Company's creative director, who co-founded the theater group 18 years ago. The theater seats 200. The stage is within 10 feet of the front row. "In our theater, you can't distance yourself--even if you wanted to," King boasts. "You're right there with the characters in the living room, or you're right there with them in the insane asylum." But don't get the impression that these guys are amateurs. The Stage Company just finished a three-month run of comedian Steve Martin's play Picasso at the Lapin Agile. And it is preparing to unveil its production of 1999 Pulitzer Prize winner Wit. For South Bay theater lovers who don't want to make the grueling trek to San Francisco, the Stage Company offers a great reason to save on gas. Call the box office for ticket prices. WH

Best Jack-and-the-Bean-Stock Options

Children's Discovery Museum
180 Woz Way, S.J. 408.298.5437

Suffering the deleterious effects of adult-onset cynicism? It's time to rediscover the world through the eyes of a child. Take a break and visit the Children's Discovery Museum, a decade-old wonder that--unlike the rest of us--only gets better with age. Designed with the curious tot in mind, the museum uses creative ways to show how things work. How do cities function? How does electricity flow and money circulate? What makes a garden grow, and who moves the mail from Cincinnati to Oahu? Obviously, it's not just kids scratching their heads at these questions. Anyone can learn and anyone can have the pleasure of watching the lights go on for the tiny ones. KL

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From the September 28-October 4, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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