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Food & Wine

Humble shortbread cookie appears around the world, but with local twists

Humble shortbread cookie appears around the world, but with local twists


Blanche Shaheen/Special to the Town Crier
Ghraybeh shortbread cookies use sweet-tasting ghee in lieu of butter.

 

When Americans think of the shortbread cookie, they often imagine the traditional Scottish cookies, shaped like oblong rectangles and ...

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Your Health

CSA connects families with fresh, nutritious food

CSA connects families with fresh, nutritious food


Courtesy of Community Services Organization
CSA staff load groceries to take to Castro Elementary School as part of a new outreach program for children and families enrolled in the free and reduced lunch programs at Castro and Mistral schools.

Maureen...

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Your Home

Healing art: Restoration 'doctor' preserves damaged objects

Healing art: Restoration 'doctor' preserves damaged objects


Photos by Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Art restorer Rho Brown performs delicate preservation work in her Los Altos studio, above. Once fully restored, below left, it’s difficult to tell which cherub was previously missing its head. Brown’s studio conta...

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On The Road

American muscle in the modern age: Bolting to Blackhawk in the Chrysler 300S

American muscle in the modern age: Bolting to Blackhawk in the Chrysler 300S


Photo by Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier; Bottom Right Photo courtesy of Chrysler
The Andersons recently drove the new Chrysler 300S to Danville’s Blackhawk Museum, where they saw “The Spirit of the Old West” exhibition.

 

When you have a p...

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Senior Lifestyles

Local pianist performs, volunteers and finds 'keys' to a good life

Local pianist performs, volunteers and finds 'keys' to a good life


RAMYA KRISHNA/TOWN CRIER
Doreta Strotman performs the classics with her signature jazz-style improvisations at Los Altos Grill Sunday evenings. The Mountain View resident has been playing since the age of 4.

Sunday evenings, Doreta Strotman’s job is to...

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Wedding To Remember

Ring options on Main Street range from traditional to unorthodox

Ring options on Main Street range from traditional to unorthodox


 

With nine fine-jewelry retailers concentrated along the Main Street corridor, downtown Los Altos offers a wealth of options for engagement and wedding ring shoppers. From one end of Main to the other, the choices range from the traditional to t...

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Your Kids

Living Classroom grows lessons for next-gen science standards

Living Classroom grows lessons for next-gen science standards


 

Providing local students with a tangible outdoor learning experience, the Living Classroom program aims to support a new generation of students who are excited about the environment.

The Living Classroom serves 9,000 students locally in the Los ...

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Back to School

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Doctor Noize: an antidote to Barney

His two books – “The Ballad of Phineas McBoof” (Pictoria Books, 2008) and “The Return of Phineas McBoof” (Doctor Noize Inc., 2011) – and CDs are jam-packed with crazy characters, including Phineas, a cheeky monkey.

“It’s a story about McBoof – based on Paul McCartney – and his International Band of Misunderstood Geniuses,” said Cullinan from his home in Colorado, as his two daughters, Sidney Grace, 9, and Riley Max, 7, made noise in the background. “What the band has in common is their openness to trying all kinds of music.”

 

Deep roots

It’s hard to get more excited about music than Doctor Noize.

This is a man on a mission – to help youngsters discover their “song of life” and have the courage to share it, he said.

His work is particularly poignant to him, because his brother, Tracey, a computer genius who passed away from brain cancer at 18, taught him the importance of living life to the fullest. They both attended Los Altos High, and Cory, who was student body president, graduated in 1988.

“It was an amazing thing for me to observe,” Cullinan said of his brother’s illness. “Steve Jobs came to visit him twice, he was interviewed by Jane Pauley because he had started his own computer company.”

Jobs took both boys on a tour of Next Inc., Cullinan recalled.

“I was into soccer, so it didn’t mean much to me, but for Tracey, it was like visiting with Joe Montana,” he said.

Realizing that his brother had already put his mark on the planet by the time he received his cancer diagnosis, Cullinan determined that it was important to have a purpose to one’s life.

“Plus, I had every opportunity anyone could hope for,” he said.

Cullinan’s roots in the community run deep. His father, Terrence, was on the Los Altos City Council and served a stint as mayor. His mother, Leola, was active in the PTA.

Cullinan said his wife, Janette, who voices Backbone the Octopus on his recordings, reminds him of his brother because of her strength in facing life’s obstacles. Legally blind, Janette has worked her way up in the business world of learning design and has been a singer her entire life.

“I knew she would inspire our children,” he said. “Plus, she’s cute – the bomb. She’s the backbone of my life.”

He conducts his concerts interactively, encouraging children to get up on stage. Cullinan sings and plays keyboards, kazoo, guitar, saxophone and percussion.

SiriusXM Live Kids’ Radio has played “The Ballad of Phineas McBoof” several times, and he’s notched a number of top 10 hits on the station. Early on, Dr. Toy named the album a “Best Product,” and it’s also received a Parents’ Choice award.

 

Don’t quit your day job

Not too bad for a Stanford University classical music and political science major.

“I had as few practical skills when I got out as a guy could get,” joked Cullinan, who nonetheless concentrated on releasing his first album, “My Oyster,” after he graduated from college.

Although he said he didn’t come “even close to making a living” with his music, it was used in the Brad Pitt film score for “Spy Game” and on television shows.

Needing a day job, Cullinan called on Pinewood School, which didn’t have a music department at the time. His Music History class became quite popular with students, and the choir he directed produced eight CDs.

“We would write and record songs, then buy more toys for the recording studio, which was really my classroom,” he said.

In Music History, Cullinan prided himself on creating a challenging environment and appealing to sophisticated tastes.

“I don’t do three-chord Barney music,” he said.

In fact, listening to his daughter’s Saturday-morning cartoons inspired him to continue making Doctor Noize records.

His partner, Coert Voorhees, who was an English teacher at Pinewood, convinced him to collaborate on a grammar CD, the newly released 21-track “Grammaropolis,” which includes tunes about how the band spent its summer vacation. Voorhees plays the stuffy mayor of Grammar-opolis, and Doctor Noize defends Slang, an unorthodox – but more creative element – who’s a “word artist,” according to Cullinan.

One funny bit on “Grammar-opolis” showcases a radio program in which Gabby Verbose – a parody of Terry Gross of National Public Radio – interviews the mayor, Slang and Doctor Noize. Placido Flamingo, played by opera star Nathan Gunn, makes an appearance on the CD.

While “Grammaroplis” features a lot of fun wordplay, it’s also educational, clarifying nouns, proper nouns, verbs and adjectives for young learners.

 

Coming attractions

Doctor Noize recently created the iPhone game app Bananas! based on his hit song “Banana” from the McBoof album. It’s been downloaded in 25 countries through the Apple iTunes store.

Next up is his “Phineas McBoof Crashes the Symphony” CD, due May 17. Gunn will once again play Placido Flamingo.

“What I want to do is expose kids to symphonic music – to smart concepts at a younger age,” Cullinan said.

Doctor Noize has scheduled a “Triple Release Party” to celebrate the debuts of “Grammaropolis” and his “Return of Phineas McBoof” book and CD 3:30 p.m. April 1 at Cubberley Community Theatre, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. Tickets are $10.

For tickets and more information, visit www.doctornoize.com.

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