Friday, June 24, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
And then there's this guy. When he started working toward his Ph.D., Nixon was still in office, the Beatles had only just broken up, Jim Morrison was still alive, and "All in the Family" was the number-one TV program. I think it's good to remember, in this era of instant gratification, that worthwhile goals can take a long (long!) time... I was so surprised by his story that I decided to write something about it. Here's my recent posting:
Earning an advanced degree can seem to take forever.
In the case of one recent UCSC graduate, it almost did.
History of Consciousness Program grad Peter Miller received his Ph.D. last week at the Graduate Division commencement ceremony. It took him 40 years.
"I'm probably the person who has the record of how long it took to complete a doctoral degree (at UCSC)," said Miller, 66, who lined up with a crowd of students, some of them as much as four decades younger than him, last week at the Graduate Division commencement ceremony on the East Field.
Technically speaking, he's been pursuing his UCSC advanced degree in political theory and community technology since 1971. Back in 1975, he wrote his qualifying essay and passed his oral examination. All that remained was to write his dissertation.Why did it take so long? Read the rest of the story here:
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
But unsentimental does not mean devoid of feeling. In this debut novel, there is a palpable sense of yearning for a better time that never really existed.
I admired these characters just for getting by.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Last year I was proud to be the inaugural author featured in the brand-new Atherton Book Club, otherwise known as Reading In Good Company. Now the book club continues with a whole new lineup of great events. Book Club leader Annie Pena tells me that Mary will be participating via Skype during the June 14 meeting about Roach's latest book, Packing For Mars.Even if you don't live on the Peninsula, this is worth the drive. (Mothra/Godzilla photo from Toho Archives.)
Sunday, June 12, 2011
So there I was, chomping away, but when I got to the pit, there was a fat, juicy, disgusting earwig sitting in the middle of that apricot, clacking its mandibles, wiggling its antenna, with a "what the &%$@ are you looking at?" expression on its face.
The weird thing is, the bug was so much bigger than the hole it must have crawled into to go inside the apricot in the first place. I guess he hung out there for a while, eating the inside of the apricot and getting so fat that he couldn't get out again, like the squirrel protagonist in Timmy Tiptoes. Next time I'll stick with the nectarines.
Friday, June 10, 2011
As part of my due diligence for this story, I asked for (and received) permission from Hank Card of the Austin Lounge Lizards to use their unofficial UCSC banana slug fight song in the story. You can hear it in both video clips. By the way, Hank Card was kind enough to give me a bit of background about the song.
"As far as the origins of the song go, you're right that we've got a connection to Santa Cruz and have played at the Kuumbwa (concert venue) many times. We always thought the banana slugs mascot was really funny and even got slimed at the Strawberry Festival."
"I'm from Oklahoma, where football is big, so the college fight song is part of my culture. I just got curious to see if there was a UCSC fight song. Since there wasn't, my wife Kristen and I wrote one just for fun. The S-U-L-G-S spelling in the middle was a mistake we made at practice, but we thought it was funny so we left it in."
And here is the story. The video is by Mara Waldhorn.
Thursday, June 09, 2011
The Cactuseaters List of Backcountry "Don'ts'' (the unexpurgated version!)
NEVER bring a fondue maker into the woods with you. The bread crumbs, fruit wedges, gas and molten cheese will form a white magma that will spew all over you, leaving fourth-degree burns all over your entire body.
NEVER cook a meal while sitting inside your tent, even when it’s raining outside. (Trust me. Your tent will explode.)
NEVER forget that “freeze-dried’’ and “chili’’ is a very bad combination. (Trust me. You will explode.)
NEVER try to reason with anyone riding an All-Terrain Vehicle --- especially if he or she is drunk and holding a 12-gauge Mossberg hunting rifle and wearing a knit cap that says "I Like Big Jugs.''
NEVER try to make your girlfriend, or boyfriend, hike faster by calling out a military cadence in a fake Southern accent. ("Sound off, sound off, one, two, three, foe!")
NEVER attempt to brush your teeth in total darkness. Preparation H does not fight gum recession. And it tastes fishy.
NEVER bring artisan-quality cheddar cheese into the Mojave Desert with you in mid-June. A horrid white pus will extrude from the cheese, and you will vomit.
NEVER set up your tent in the middle of a mule trail in the North Cascades. Brighty, Big Snort and Old Thunder will trample you to death in your sleep.
NEVER underestimate the amount of toilet paper you will use in the backcountry. Sticks and stones won't break your bones but they will leave nicks and abrasions on your derriere.)
NEVER camp at a suspiciously beautiful, yet strangely empty, lakeside campsite. It is probably empty for very good reasons (think “flood plain,’’ “poisoned water’’ and “spaniel-sized mosquitoes.’’)
NEVER eat the freeze-dried stroganoff. It has been mummified and sealed away for good reason.
NEVER cut the handles off the toothbrush “to save pack weight.’’ Toothbrushes weigh less than an ounce – and if you try to brush your teeth with the head of a toothbrush, it will fall down your throat and lodge in your trachea, and you will die.
That's all for now. Stay tuned for my comprehensive history of the banana slug mascot, and for my report on the Wicked Bugs reading. But I can't be rushed. I've got brain freeze and it might take me a while to upload all this stuff.
Sunday, June 05, 2011
Thursday, June 02, 2011
There is a violent gardener in my neighborhood.
I've read so many memoirs that skirt around issues like race, class, family dynamics and the "prestige track," the rut that can trap aspiring editors and authors into low-paying but impressive and privileged positions. Ben Ryder Howe's My Korean Deli jumps into these issues right from the beginning.