Wed05062015

News

LASD, city move toward land discussions

The ice may be thawing a bit as the Los Altos School District and the city of Los Altos consider resurrecting discussions on the potential use of public land as a school site.

The city voted to discontinue conversations about civic land with the sch...

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Schools

Mental health expert dispels myths

Mental health expert dispels myths


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Palo Alto University Professor Paul Marcille addresses a crowd of psychology students and mental health activists last week about myths surrounding mental illness and violence.

In the wake of the 2011 Sandy Hook Elementa...

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Community

Q&A: Meet the city's new public works and administrative services directors

The city of Los Altos has hired three new department directors in the past ten months. The Town Crier recently profiled new Recreation Director Manny Hernandez. This week, the Town Crier profiles Susana Chan, new public works director, and Kim Juran-...

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Comment

Familiar icon pops up in Los Altos: A Piece of My Mind

I was walking to my car parked on State Street when my eye fell on an old familiar acquaintance from my early childhood, totally unexpected to meet in Los Altos. It was the “Steinway” logo over the door of the new Steinway Piano Gallery,...

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Special Sections

New Los Altos shop brews milk tea for gourmands

New Los Altos shop brews milk tea for gourmands


Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Teaspoon, the milk tea shop at Village Court in Los Altos, above, serves a range of bubble teas and snow ice drinks, right.

Los Altos made it onto the milk tea map this spring with the opening of Teaspoon, a new bubble tea ...

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Business

Ed center scores spot in Foothills Crossing

Ed center scores spot in Foothills Crossing


Alicia Castro/ Town Crier
C2 Los Altos tutor Max Shih, left, instructs Homestead High School student Rajesh Suresh.

Los Altos families have a new resource for helping their children ace the test.

C2 Los Altos – a recently opened education cente...

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Books

People

DOROTHY RUTH MATHIS PUDER

DOROTHY RUTH MATHIS PUDER

9/17/1918-4/15/2015

Dorothy Puder died on April 15th in Sunnyvale, California. She will be remembered for her gentle, loving, positive and caring ways and will be greatly missed by family and friends.

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Travel

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers


Natalie Elefant/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident Natalie Elefant noted the vibrant street performances as a traveler in Cuba.

The U.S. restored diplomatic relations with Cuba late last year, enabling Americans to import $100 worth of cig...

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Stepping Out

 PYT's comedic musical opens this weekend in Mtn. View

PYT's comedic musical opens this weekend in Mtn. View


Lyn Flaim/Spotlight Moments Photography
The cast of Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Once Upon a Mattress” includes, from left, Sophia Graziani (of Los Altos) as Winnifred, Chris Gough (Sunnyvale) as the Prince and Reilly Arena (Palo Alto) as the Queen. ...

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Spiritual Life

Mercifully in His grip: Exploring our true position in Christ

I recently read a wonderful analogy about our true position in Christ. It was shockingly contrary to the messages impressed upon me in church, but deeply rooted in the Bible. The analogy is that of child and a parent. If you have ever taken a small ...

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Magazine

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon


tanya kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Shrub manzanitas are known for their sinuous mahogany trunks and branches. If the foliage hides the bark, prune selectively to open the center so that the bark is visible year-round. This Montara manzanita is ...

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Inside Mountain View

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth


Courtesy of Challenge Team
Jeanette Freiberg, bottom of pile, has fun with family members. The Challenge Team named Freiberg, a student at Mountain View High School, its 2015 Youth Champion.

There’s an ongoing joke among members of the Challenge...

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‘Beautiful Ruins’ weaves complex threads of love


Rarely do I read a fiction book that feels like a true work of passion on the part of the author, but the best-seller “Beautiful Ruins“ (Harper, 2012) by Jess Walter is just such a work.

“Beautiful Ruins” is a crazy-quilt kind of novel – virtually every chapter skips to a different period in time and a different location with many new characters. Readers travel from Italy in the 1960s to Hollywood in the present, with multiple stops in between in Seattle and Sandpoint, Idaho.

At its heart, “Beautiful Ruins” is a love story. There is the “love at first sight” variety explored at the beginning of the book, when hero Pasquale Tursi first sees heroine Dee Moray: “Tursi watched the arrival of the woman as if in a dream. … She smiled, and in that instant, if such a thing were possible, Pasquale fell in love, and he would remain in love for the rest of his life.”

Other forms of love are shown, too, such as the love of Pasquale’s aunt for his mother, and Dee’s love for her challenging son, Pat. Other themes include the absurdity of the Hollywood obsession with youth and money and, my favorite, the role that casual encounters can play in making a profound difference in one’s life.

“Beautiful Ruins” is a complex novel that is difficult to summarize, and it would spoil many surprises for a reader to do so. But I can share that the book follows three major tracks: the story of Pasquale’s life and the relationship that develops between him and the beautiful young actress, Dee; the story of Claire, a plucky young film assistant who acts as the right-hand woman to Michael Deane, a first-class jerk of a Hollywood producer; and the story of Dee, who moves back to America to forge a normal life outside of movies. Suffice to say that the various threads are woven together and concluded happily by the end of the book.

Walter’s well-drawn characters amaze, surprise and generate loud laughs. Walter is a very good, versatile writer who throws in some lovely descriptions of the Italian countryside, some partial novels supposedly written by some of his characters and even some poetry. My favorite passages are his humorous sketches: “Upon meeting Michael for the first time, many people stare open-mouthed, unable to look away from his glistening, vaguely lifelike face. … Trying to picture what Michael Deane looked like as a young man in Italy fifty years ago based on his appearance now is like standing on Wall Street trying to understand the topography of Manhattan Island before the Dutch arrived.”

The only false note in the book involves the character of the evil Hollywood producer – a selfish, scheming, Machiavellian individual. I’ve already seen my share of greedy Hollywood producers, thank you very much, though I understand the need for at least one bad guy in the story. I expected that the Richard Burton cameo would be rather stereotypical as well, but it is quite charming and amusing and leads to a life-changing epiphany for Pasquale.

“Beautiful Ruins” is a most entertaining novel, and I believe the author when he claims that it took him 15 years to write. All types of book clubs should enjoy the story, particularly those that tackle engrossing fiction stories like “The Night Circus” (Random House, 2011) by Erin Morgenstern and “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” (Scholastic Press, 2007) by Brian Selznick.

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

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