Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wednesday Wishlist: Better Signage in San Jose

There are many great attractions and restaurants in San Jose that people have no clue exist. This could easily be solved with improved signage in the Downtown core and other parts of San Jose such as Japantown.

SPUR recently took a field trip to London and found some of the best signage around. Each post had a full directory of major attractions and what you can find within a 5 minute walk and a 15 minute walk. The signs are also consistent, so once you get used to one you can easily use any of them.

Not only should we consider something like this for San Jose, but I think we should take it a step further and put a Silicon Valley spin on it. We should make interactive digital signs. Not only would they stand out even more and look cool, but they could easily be modified when new restaurants and attractions come in. A portion of the sign could even be used to promote events similar to the signpost banners that are being used today.

Imagine all the creative things you could do with an interactive digital sign. With a cheap camera you could look into another location such as another part of San Jose or even a sister city. You can turn the signs into a game (explore Downtown and find them all, be submitted for a drawing of some kind). They could be used to display local art. The possibilities are endless.

Source: SPUR

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Largest Ramen Event in the US Coming to San Jose!

The largest ramen event in the country is coming to the San Jose Convention Center on October 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 11th, and 12th. Given that we have one of only three remaining Japantowns in the country and a large population that enjoys Japanese cuisines, San Jose is a logical destination for this event.

9-10 Ramen Shops will be participating each day, and the food looks awesome! Have a look at the press release below and a few photos from the participating eateries.


Ramen Yokocho festivals by the Ramen Yokocho Association ( have been hugely popular, attracting over 100,000 ramen lovers throughout the last 5 events in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco.

The next Yokocho will take place at the San Jose Convention Center's ( South Hall in downtown San Jose on October 3, 4, 5 and 10, 11, 12 (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). This Japanese noodle festival will feature the best ramen from Japan and the US. From America, the original ramen burger creator will unveil a new dish. Two of the best ramen shops from Kyushu, where tonkotsu ramen was born, will present their special bowls. From ramen hot spots, Tokyo and Osaka, renowned ramen chefs will bring both traditional and innovative dishes. 10 ramen shops are scheduled for the first week, and 9 are scheduled for the second week.

Some of the notable ramen shops include: Kohmen from Ikebukuro, Tokyo where many ramen shops are competing to be the best. They are known for its slow cooked tonkotsu and chicken blend soup (they call it “jyukusei soup”). Kohmen has nearly 20 years of history in Ikebukuro. Chanpon-Tei offers ramen noodle soup topped with pork, seafood and vegetables, called “chanpon ramen”. Tonkotsu has been the popular broth in the U.S. Chanpon-Tei’s seafood broth is unique and gives Ramen Yokocho attendees an option to try something different. There’s also beef based Kamitoku Ramen from Ginza, Tokyo. Pioneer in beef based soup, Kamitoku Ramen’s soup is often compared to French oxtail soup. Keizo Shimamoto of ramen burger fame just announced that he’ll be joining Ramen Yokocho, and bringing “Burger Ramen” (a soupless noodle dish, not his usual ramen burger).

For all ramen line ups, please see the attached poster.

Dates: Friday-Sunday; October 3-5 and 10-12, 2014
Time: Fridays: 4PM-9PM; Saturdays and Sundays: 11AM-9PM
Venue: San Jose Convention Center South Hall
Address: 435 South Market Street, San Jose, CA 95113
Price: Admission $5/person (children 12 and under are Free); ramen $8/bowl **Cash Only
VIP ticket $60 (presale on website; includes admission, 2 ramen, souvenir, ramen express lane)

Ramen Yokocho Association was established in Southern California in 2013 to promote the understanding of the delicious Japanese noodle soup, Ramen. “Yokocho” means alleyway in Japanese. When you visit Japan, you will see small alleys filled with a variety of shops. Following that tradition, Ramen Yokocho Association is eager to please ramen enthusiasts and ramen novices alike by bringing different styles of ramen noodles to events. There are many kinds of noodles, toppings, and soups depending on the region. Ramen Yokocho is planning to bring the event nationwide.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Some Details re: AFK Gamer Lounge in Downtown SJ

Last week a friend of mine asked me if I knew what happened to the Los Gatos Brewing Company on Santa Clara Street. If there was any news or gossip about why it abruptly shut down. I actually didn't even know it had shut down, but I was not very surprised. The last time I had been there I was not very impressed with their food, and since there are so many other wonderful options downtown, LGBC never made it back to the top of my list. (But that is just *my* experience.)

So I did a quick search and found out that taking the place of the restaurant will be the AFK Gamer Lounge, a new eSports bar & PC gaming center. One-hundred gaming PC's networked together installed with some of today's most popular online games. 

Gamers will gather, play games, enjoy food and enjoy beverages from the bar. There will be memberships and access for casual guests. 

The whole concept is interesting to me as former (short term) player of World of Warcraft and The Sims, but a much longer term player of video games in general. Most of any recent online game exposure is due to my husband (and friends) playing of Starcraft, EverQuest (back in the day!), World of Warcraft, and League of Legends to name a few. 

A few days ago I exchanged emails with one of the owners, Tyler Peckham, and asked a few questions.

JO: In reference to your press release, will you be open on October 18/19 for the League of Legends tournament being held at the SAP Center?

TP. We will be open for some sort of event - however its unlikely it will be a full grand opening.

JO: What popular games will you have installed? Starcraft? WoW? The Sims?

TP: Users will have access to their own library of games (ie. Steam libraries, games that require an online account: LoL, WoW, SCII and many more).  Full list of games is unknown, but the main concept is to first provide access to the games users are already playing, and then second, provide access to some games they may not already have or play. 

JO: Are users limited to only MMORPGs or can they hop on Facebook and play their favorite casual games as well? 

TP: By no means are they limited to MMORPG's. Web browser access is likely, however not 100% (potential security issues).

JO: Members and guests are encouraged to purchase drinks from the bar, what is your plan of attack for keeping liquids away from the computers? 

TP: We are going to start off with some experimentation on methods to allow everyone to game/drink/eat peacefully without restriction. 

JO: Will you be holding tournaments?


I inquired about some renderings but they didn't have any updated ones on hand yet. Hopefully I'll be able to update soon with a few. For now, if you're still interested be sure to either sign up for email updates via the AFK Gamer Lounge website or follow them on their Facebook page

For a more in-depth read, if you can follow Reddit threads, check out their post and the conversation happening over there.

I'm looking forward to checking this place out with my husband and a few friends. I'd like to see what they think about it!

New BART Trains Will Come Just In Time for San Jose Opening

Now that BART is just a few years away from coming to San Jose, we can talk about some of the improvements that you can expect to the system in addition to just the new stations. BART is spending well over $2 billion to replace its aging fleet of 669 train cars and add 300 extra train cars to support increased ridership and future expansion.

The new trains will be quieter, cooler, more comfortable, bike-friendly, and have digital signage on the inside (which you can see in the video down at the bottom). They will also have 3 doors per car instead of 2 in order to make it easier and faster to get in and out of the train. This is especially important since BART functions not only as a commuter train but as a Metro system in dense areas (SF, Oakland, and eventually Downtown San Jose).

I really hope this will be a system we can be proud of since we will be living with these trains for the next 30 or so years. So far, the plan looks pretty solid. The first 10 "pilot cars" will be delivered in 2015, the first batch of new train cars will do into service in 2017, and the rest of the cars will be delivered over the next four years. .

Sources: BART, SVBJ

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Playful People Productions Presents: Disney’s Aladdin Kids and Aladdin Jr

Welcome to Agrabah, the City of Enchantment, and experience the fantastic tale of the street urchin who became a prince! Aladdin, a kind but wily street urchin, falls in love with the beautiful Princess Jasmine. It just so happens that the Sultan has declared that Princess Jasmine must choose a husband by the next day. After she turns down the offers from many wealthy suitors, Aladdin and the evil Jafar battle for Jasmine’s love. With a little help from a wacky genie, Aladdin manages to win Jasmine’s hand in marriage. All of your favorite characters from the hit Disney film – Aladdin, Jasmine, Iago, Jafar, the Genie, and more – are here in Disney’s Aladdin Kids and JR. A musical adventure filled with magic, mayhem, and flying carpet rides, audiences spirits will sore with excitement. This tuneful award-winning score with songs including “A Whole New World” and “Friend Like Me” will have your entire family dancing in their seats.

Our shows often sell out prior to the show weekend so be sure to buy your tickets early, you won’t want to miss out on this fantastic production.

All Shows at the Historic Hoover Theater, 1635 Park Ave  San Jose, CA 95126

Aladdin Kids Show Times:
Friday, October 3rd - 7:00pm
Saturday, October 4th -11:00am, 3:00pm and 7:00pm
Sunday, October 5th - 2:30pm and 6:00pm

Aladdin Jr Show Times:
Friday, October 10th - 7:00pm
Saturday, October 11th - 2:00pm
Sunday, October 12th - 10:00am  

Tickets available at
$12 attendees 12 and up, $8 children 11 and under,  and $6 Children’s floor seating

Tickets at the door (30 minutes prior to curtain)
$15 attendees 12 and up, $10 children 11 and under, and $6 Children’s floor seating

Playful People Productions provides a quality, caring environment in which children, youth & their families have positive theatre experiences, while being involved in many aspects of on-stage/ back-stage theatre. Our company fills a need of providing beginning through advanced theatre for the whole family to the community. The founders have expanded the program to include classes & summer camps.

Playful People Productions is run by mother-daughter team, Barbara Galiotto & Katie D' Arcey, who between them have approx 50 years experience in the musical theatre world. Both are Positive Discipline trained & worked as early Childhood Educators as well as in theatre. Both have worked as professional directors with children's theatre for many years.

For each production, Playful People Productions employs professional designers, artists, choreographers and directors to guide our students. The company also hires experienced college & high school students to do jobs in the production such as directors, stage managers, lighting, make-up, & set designers, choreographers and assistants. This allows students to gain work experiences in all aspects of theatre. The goals of Playful People Productions are: to provide the community with a variety of performing opportunities for children, youth & families to experience; to challenge young people in the community; provide a safe, caring environment; and to involve parents in a wholesome, well-rounded activity. The founders believe that a good theatre experience will greatly improve the lives of the children.

The San Jose Stage Company Presents: The Rainmaker

N. Richard Nash’s Romantic Comedy
The Rainmaker
Directed by Jessa Brie Moreno
October 1st - 26th, 2014
Previews: October 1st, 2nd, 3rd

San Jose, CA (September 2014) - San Jose Stage Company’s 32nd season launches with a true piece of Americana in N. Richard Nash’s Romantic ComedyThe Rainmaker. A beautiful, timeless tale of what it means to take a leap of faith in desperately hopeless times.
As described by Nash, “The play takes place in a Western state on a summer a time of drought. I tried to tell a simple story about droughts that happen to people and about faith.”
In The Rainmaker Lizzie’s hopes and dreams have run dry when the charismatic Starbuck arrives out of nowhere, selling promises of rain - Lizzie must decide: is he a con man, or does he hold the key to everything she desires?
"The notion of dreams coming true might seem a preposterous conceit in a more cynical era, yet The Rainmaker, N. Richard Nash's unabashedly optimistic 1953 teleplay-turned-Broadway-hit, still has the power to keep disbelief at bay...
After nearly half a century, ‘The Rainmaker’ still makes a handsomely staged case for miracles." - LA Times
The cast includes Randall King* as HC, Johnny Moreno* as Bill Starbuck, Allison F. Rich* as Lizzie Curry, Will Springhorn Jr.* as Noah Curry, Michael Bellino as Sheriff Thomas, Brandon Leland as Jimmy Curry and Joe Estlack as File. [*Actors’ Equity Association]
Previews: October 1st & 2nd @ 7:30 pm / October 4th @ 8:00 pm
Opening: October 4th @ 8:00 pm
Run Dates: October 1st - 26th, 2014
Wednesday & Thursday @ 7:30 pm
Friday & Saturday @ 8:00 pm
Sunday @ 2:00 pm
WHERE: San Jose Stage Company - 490 South First Street, San Jose, CA
TICKETS: For tickets ($20-$65) or more information, please call the box office at 408.283.7142 or order online
   - - - - - - - - - - - - -
“San Jose Stage Company’s 2014-15 season continues to bring bold, diverse and innovative works to The Stage,” said Randall King, Artistic Director and co-founder of the San Jose Stage
“Our 32nd season reflects the climate of today’s of socio-political, economic, emotional and atmospheric turbulence of our times”, said King.
The Rainmaker by N. Richard Nash / Oct 1 - 26, 2014
A Weekend With Pablo Picasso by Herbert Siguenza /Nov 12- Dec 7, 2014
Venus In Fur by David Ives / Feb 4 - Mar 1, 2015
Death Of A Salesman by Arthur Miller / Apr 1 - 26, 2015
New Musical (soon to be announced) / Jun 3 - Jul 26, 2015
“The plays examine the thirst for love, the need for acceptance, our passions, hopes, faiths and fears - a theatrical season framed in tales of romance, art, politics, seduction, and book-ended in la familia. The Stage is set to traverse these provocative landscapes,”added King.
San Jose Stage Company has extended its offer to honor SJ Rep subscriptions. Please call the box office 408 283 7142.
The Stage is located at 490 South First Street at William Street in the SoFA district of downtown San Jose.
Season 2014-15 Subscriptions available at 408 283 7142 or
   # # # 
About San Jose Stage Company:
Launching its 32nd season, San Jose Stage Company is recognized as the San Francisco Bay Area’s Premiere Off-Broadway Theatre and is now the South Bay’s only fully professional resident theatre. The Stage is known for its devotion to new and cutting-edge work and for its commitment to showcasing high-quality local talent.
Ranked the 2nd largest theatre and 8th largest performance arts organization in Silicon Valley (Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal), San Jose Stage Company is a vital force in the community. The Stage has earned a reputation for artistic excellence by providing high quality, edgy theatrical experiences that engage, educate and provoke audiences. San Jose Stage Company has produced over 150 productions, including 13 world premieres and 45 regional new works.
Annually, The Stage employs over 150 artists, serves a diverse audience of 25,000, offers five core education and outreach programs and has housed over 300 independent performance groups. Located at the Gateway to the City’s Arts and Entertainment District, San Jose Stage Company, the SoFA Districts first arts anchor organization, continues to promote San Jose’s stature as a burgeoning regional arts center by providing live theatre experiences that enrich the quality of life in the community.
   # # # 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday Stats: San Jose is the #2 Job Market in the US for Recent Grads

The Atlantic has crunched some numbers to find what the best job markets are for recent college graduates. They took the largest 100 metros in the US and looked at the following five factors:

  • The percent change in jobs requiring post-secondary education from 2010 to 2014. 
  • The percentage of 25-34 year olds who hold these positions.
  • The average wages for these jobs requiring post-secondary education.
  • The concentration of these jobs based on their "location quotient," or LQ for short.
  • The share of new jobs requiring post-secondary education that can be attributed to local economic conditions or competitiveness.

The San Jose metro crushed it, with a #2 ranking. The SF Metro took the top spot in this one, with New York in 28th. You can see the Top 10 below; head to the source link for the full list.

Source: The Atlantic, hat-tip to Dan De La O

BASIS Independent Now Open in Silicon Valley

BASIS Independent in North San Jose is off to a good start with the largest first-year enrollment recorded by any private school group in the country. BASIS Independent is a private school with a strong emphasis on STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and I'm sure will be a huge asset to the San Jose community. Check out the press release below.

BASIS Independent Schools open flagship schools on both coasts

BASIS Independent Silicon Valley and BASIS Independent Brooklyn welcome founding classes in California and New York; Largest private school opening in history

September 16, 2014 (Silicon Valley, CA) – In an unprecedented move, BASIS Independent Schools announces the opening of not one but two new private schools in the most globally advanced and competitive educational markets in America. BASIS Independent Silicon Valley and BASIS Independent Brooklyn begin classes with the largest first-year enrollment recorded by any private school group in the country.

“The American demand for global quality education has never been greater,” said BASIS Independent Schools CEO Dr. Mark Reford. “Parents on both coasts recognize that an internationally benchmarked curriculum featuring rigorous studies and passionate faculty is critical to our children’s success and happiness.” 

The two new schools are based on the proven education model of the BASIS charter school network led by Michael and Olga Block, deemed by scholars, national rankings and international tests as amongst the best in the world. BASIS.ed schools offer a STEM-focused liberal arts and sciences curriculum benchmarked against the highest international standards and employing the most talented teachers from around the world.

On the west coast, BASIS Independent Silicon Valley, is a stunning redesign of a former IBM office building located in San Jose, the capital of Silicon Valley. The state-of-the-art glass-front, three-story 80,604 square foot building will be completed with the additions of a 7,501 square foot gymnasium and 6,000 square foot cafeteria. The school opened to grades 5-11 with an enrollment of nearly 600 students, a record number for a first-year private school. The 12th grade will be added next year. The school can accommodate 800 students.

The east coast school, BASIS Independent Brooklyn, is completing construction of its brand new modular-constructed 90,000 square foot architectural masterpiece in Red Hook. Built 12 feet above ground level, the new high tech, six-story school will feature abundant indoor and outdoor learning spaces with views of lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and New York Bay. The school opened to grades k-8 with high school grades to be added over the coming years. Various transportation options are available. The school will accommodate 1000 students.

The new schools are founded on the educational leadership of Michael and Olga Block, known for their relentless pursuit of academic excellence and as the founders of BASIS.ed, the management company for the highly successful charter school network of sixteen schools and counting. The new Independent Schools will be the first of a separate network of private schools to open across the country. Michael Block is a Stanford-educated economist and former university professor and Olga is a former vice dean of Charles University in Prague. Their education model marries exemplary world-class standards with the American spirit of creativity.

BASIS Independent Schools CEO, Dr. Q Mark Reford, is an international school leader and educator. Born in Northern Ireland, Reford was educated at Oxford University and later taught there in their Stanford University program. He moved to America in 1993 and has since been a teacher, administrator and Head of School in some of the most outstanding independent schools in the country.

“As President Roosevelt said in his first inaugural address, ‘Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort,’ quoted Dr. Reford. “That describes the essence of BASIS Independent schools and the spirit you feel in our classrooms, hallways and playgrounds.  Our students are taught a love of learning that will serve them a lifetime.”


BASIS Schools were founded in 1998 by Michael and Olga Block. In 2009, they created BASIS.ed to manage the growing network of BASIS charter schools, with 2014 marking the introduction of their first two private schools. The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, and Newsweek consistently rank BASIS.ed schools among the best high schools in America. For more information, visit or