Sat10252014

News

Election flyer mimics newspaper coverage

Election flyer mimics newspaper coverage

A flyer is being distributed across Los Altos that looks like it is from the Los Altos Town Crier but was neither created nor distributed by the community’s weekly newspaper. The flyer, pictured at right, is being distributed by workers from Pyrami...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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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

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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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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Linden Tree talk: From video games to novel


Photo By: Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Photo Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier

Local author Max Doty heads to the Los Altos main library to pound out the prose.

If you check the correct sunny corner of the Los Altos main library on weekdays, you may catch local novelist Max Doty typing away on his newest project. But the script may not be at all what you expect.

Doty, 30, followed a well-known path as a young author, majoring in creative writing at Stanford University and pursuing a Master of Fine Arts at Arizona State. But somewhere along the way, he stumbled into an alternate world of code and devices – serialized like Dickens, dramatized like “Dallas,” but delivered … to your phone.

He is scheduled to discuss how serious writing and video games can coexist – and even feed off each other for inspiration – 3 p.m. Saturday at Linden Tree Books, 265 State St., Los Altos.

Doty writes for Electronic Arts, one of the world’s largest gaming companies. From its Redwood City-based office, Doty and a team of writers craft episodic narrative games like Surviving High School under the same masthead as famous video games such as The Sims, Madden NFL and Medal of Honor.

“I’d grown up playing a lot of video games, but it never occurred to me that professional video-game writing was a place you could get a job,” he said.

Yet his track record of writing stories focused on high school scenarios suited him perfectly for his first job out of college – the first writer on a game that addressed high school quandaries.

“It’s sort of like playing a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book on your phone,” he described.

Each episode, one plays as a different member of the cast, reading dialogue and then making choices for the character.

“Storytelling is always the thing we hang our hat on,” Doty said, explaining why Electronic Arts proved receptive to his taking time to create a stand-alone novel, “Surviving High School” (Poppy, 2012), which delves in deeper prose detail into the story of a few characters from the game.

Each Thursday, players can tune back in (on their smartphones) to see what the large cast of high school characters is up to. With a tone akin to “Saved by the Bell” or Disney Channel programming, Surviving High School is suitable for players age 12 and older, although Doty said that because “it’s a pretty innocent take on high school life,” the content would be appropriate for even younger players. And parents and senior citizens number among the series’ fans.

As a prodigal son straying from the hallowed path of literary fiction, Doty is unapologetic about devoting so much of his creative life to work that is downright family-friendly.

In the text, we follow protagonist Emily Kessler as she balances Olympic-level athletic ambition, academics and friendship – and then wonders if it will all fall apart as romance gets thrown into her overscheduled world.

“‘Surviving High School’ is a glossy take on teen life – it’s a universe that feels very welcoming and safe. That’s not necessarily a realistic universe, but I would say there is a value to that. Sometimes it’s nice to go to a safe place,” Doty said. “I think it’s a shared experience in our society. Everyone goes to high school. It’s a time in your life when you’re thrown together with groups entirely unlike you. It’s the time when you’re probably doing the most mixing of your life, and also the time when you’re figuring out who you are.”

Despite his pride in the text, readers will observe that “Max” contracts to “M.” on the book jacket. The pen name derives from a market where male writers are so rare as to stick out as anomalies. Doty figures he can sympathize with the insecurities of high school life as a girl, but he turns to co-workers for advice on gender deal breakers like fashion.

“Going shopping and trying to pick out brands is too far afield for me,” he said. “I had the luxury of getting six different opinions after I wrote the draft.”

Doty credited the writing staff of Surviving High School with making life less lonely.

“One of the hardest parts of being a writer is loneliness, being out in the wilderness,” he said, adding that at Electronic Arts, “you get feedback right away.”

Graphic artists draw portraits of each character and developers create code to build the game and then set everything up so that writers can produce each weekly episode independently, with artistic control. The game’s pricing model depends on authors who can craft a narrative to keep readers coming back.

For more information, visit www.ea.com/surviving-high-school-iphone.

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