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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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West Bay offers different approach to "Flying Dutchman"

West Bay Opera demonstrated its willingness to stage a major opera with an experimental approach in its production of The Flying Dutchman, by Richard Wagner, May 23-25, and May 30-June 1, at Palo Alto's Lucie Stern Theater. The Flying Dutchman was one of Wagner's first big hits, premiering in Dresden, in 1843. The emphasis is certainly on the "big" part. It is long, it is weighty, it is makes great demands on it singer-actors, and on its audience, too. Taking an innovative approach to helping the audience envision the setting of the opera, West Bay used the creative resources of video designer Chad Bonaker. During the overture, images of water play on the transparent screen on stage. At other times during the performance, the screen returns to allow images to aide expression of the setting, relationships, and mystery of the story. While the audience listens to a sea chanty sung by the Steersman, it also sees ghost ships with red sails and black mast floating into view. Der Fliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman) is based on folklore about a Dutch sea captain, Philip Vanderdecken, who is said to have sworn that "in spite of the devil" he would sail around the Cape of Good Hope, even if it took him forever. The devil, apparently listening and never one to miss a chance for a joke at someone else's expense, condemns the captain to roam the seas for eternity, seeking "redemption." There is only one way he can gain it. He must find a woman who will love him faithfully "unto death." Opera goers can hear that as a clue to all that follows. It is also a bit of male-chauvinist piggery on the part of the devil as it implies that such a woman is so impossibly difficult to find, that the Dutchman will indeed be a lost soul until Judgment Day. The opera is set in an eighteenth century Norwegian sea port. The colorful costumes, designed by Callie Floor, enliven the stage and add a sense of historical place to the strange ghost story of the opera. Fortunately for the Dutchman and for West Bay Opera, Senta, the pure though slightly dippy woman who loves the Dutchman even before they meet, was portrayed on opening night by Paula Goodman Wilder. Her singing was strong and beautiful. She captured the difficult music and characterization securely enough to insure redemption of the Dutchman and of the whole presentation. The Flying Dutchman is a good match for the Bay Area. Our focus now is more on freeways and parking spaces, but much of the area, especially San Francisco, of course, came into being, at about the time the opera premiered, because of sea ports. In the opera, when the ships are tied to the dock, the sailors are greeted by their wives and sweethearts. When the sailors and townfolk invite the crew of the Dutchman's ship to join in the revelry, they hear voices from inside the mysterious ship with red sails. Those sailors sing about their damnation to the eternal voyage. This puts a stop to the partying. As is often the case in opera, even a happy ending is not exactly happy. Senta proves her devotion by jumping into the sea to her death. The Dutchman prepares to set off again, but, fortunately, his ship sinks. Senta and the Dutchman are joined together forever, rising toward heaven. The ending of the opera offers a challenging problem for staging. How should the transfiguration and rising to heaven be shown? Should it be shown at all? Director David F. Ostwald chose to use the screen with pictures of the now heavenly pair seen first very small as though far away and then growing bigger as though coming closer, as the other performers pointed heavenward from behind the screen. This was in keeping with the choice to employ video techniques as a visual theme for the production, and yet might have been both more and less literal than necessary. Transfiguration, however, not having been witnessed, how to suggest it at all may be more than even the greatest stagecraft can attain. West Bay Opera casts outstanding professional singers in leading roles and similarly outstanding amateurs in chorus and smaller roles. The Flying Dutchman was double-cast with the extraordinary, powerful Douglas Nagel on opening night, and Bryan Glenn Davis playing The Dutchman, Ms. Goodman Wilder and Gail Sullivan as Senta. John Bischoff and Peter Graham portrayed Daland, Senta's avaricious father; Ben Bongers and Vincent Chambers portrayed Erik, Senta's more normal suitor. Donna Olsen and Sally Mouzon sang the role of Mary, a leader of the local ladies who sings while they spin. West Bay's General Director, Jose Luis Moscovich conducted, Mr. Ostwald directed, and sets with realistic ships and interiors were designed by Peter Crompton. He also designed the nautical images. The performance was sung in German with the excellent English supertitles easy to see on either side of the stage, making the grand, spooky opera accessible to all.

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