Thu10022014

News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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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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Pratchett’s ‘Snuff’ not his best, still better than others in genre

Like millions of other people, I would happily crawl across a large field of broken glass to read a new Terry Pratchett book.

But in the case of “Snuff” (Harper, 2011), it would have to be a medium-size field of glass. Although the book is still a very enjoyable read, it does not reach the high standard of his former works.

Pratchett, an Englishmen who specializes in comic fantasy novels, has an astonishing number of books to his credit, some for adults, some for young children and others in the young-adult genre. Apparently, “Snuff” is intended for the young-adult crowd, hence the many references to “poo.”

“Snuff,” part of Pratchett’s beloved Discworld series, presents mostly familiar characters, including Commander Sam Vimes, the hero; Lady Sybil, his wife; Willikins, Vimes’ trusty butler and strongman; and most of the cast of the Ankh-Morpork city police force. Thus, it seems fair to compare “Snuff” with the other “Disc- world” novels and not with his pleasant but less provocative youth series and books such as “The Johnny Maxwell Trilogy” (SFBC Science Fiction, 1996) or “The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents” (Perfection Learning, 2003).

Pratchett’s Discworld novels are remarkable creations. Somehow, he manages in each book to do several things at once: introduce dozens of new, highly developed characters while resurrecting many familiar and beloved faces; craft two or three amazing plots that meld together by the end; satirize our current social mores and conventions; create the highly authentic city of Ankh-Morpork; and play with the English language and its idioms with hilarious results. Not bad in a day’s work.

So how does “Snuff” stack up against Pratchett’s earlier works? It’s a complicated question.

The premise of the book is simple. Lady Sybil demands that Commander Vimes take a vacation with her and their young son to her vast ancestral home in the countryside. Vimes is uncomfortable at first, given his deep roots in the city, but soon happily finds himself enmeshed in a sinister plot that involves the systematic bullying and subjugation of an entire species – the goblins – and even the murder of a young goblin girl. Meanwhile, back in the city, one of Vimes’ policemen has fallen under the spell of a mysterious tiny clay pot.

It sounds like the beginnings of a classic Pratchett tale, but “Snuff” is curiously heavy-handed. He details the crimes against the goblin people in such repetitive, brutal detail that at times I wanted to shout, “I get it, I get it – discrimination is really bad!”

And where are the legions of colorful new characters? One of the few worth mentioning is a novice policeman, Feeney Upshot, whom Vimes takes under his wing during the ultimate chase. The chase itself is bold and exciting, but it feels somewhat overplayed and at times plain unbelievable.

Despite the minor shortcomings of “Snuff,” a fairly good Pratchett novel is still better than most other best-selling works of fiction, so I can recommend it to book clubs that enjoy fantasy and satire. If you’re not familiar with Pratchett, start with my favorites: “Reaper Man” (Nal, 1991) and “Thief of Time” (Harper, 2001). All of the Discworld books are brilliant, so you won’t go wrong diving into any of them.

Leslie Ashmore is a Mountain View resident who belongs to two book clubs.

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