We assume the Chron ran the huge feature on English professor and poet Robert Hass because he’s been nominated for yet another award, but there’s little mention of that in the biographical piece. Nevertheless, we’ve got to admit we’re stoked to see a Berkeley professor on the front page of any section of the Chron. Now that’s when you know you’ve made it.With his collection “Time and Materials,” Hass is currently one finalist of five for the National Book Award for poetry. Previously, in 1996, Hass was a finalist for his book “Sun Under Wood,” which, btw, is amazing if we must say so ourselves. The Chron also notes his being poet laureate from ‘95-’97 and more:

He’s a MacArthur Fellow, a two-time National Book Critics Circle Award winner and a UC Berkeley faculty member since 1989. Like most poets, he’s little-known outside his field. Among his peers, he’s regarded as one of the best.

Hence the piece on Hass, we assume. Like we said, we’re not really sure what prompted the piece now, but we’re not complaining … that much.

The article gives a brief account of his life and influences and accomplishments in what we’d call an “interesting” narrative. It’s not horrible, but it does sound like the writer is trying too hard.

In one part, the piece pulls a quote from Mary Karr, whose relationship to Hass is unclear. Friend? Colleague? Student? Mentoree? Whatever–something else to nitpick. She says that his face had an expression “like he just stepped out of a jungle.” Then she added:

You could almost hear the palm fronds snap closed behind him.

OK … uh huh. Then the writer cuts to his encounter with Hass, meeting him and looking at his face:

On a recent morning, Hass opens the door to the hilltop Kensington home that he shares with his wife, the poet Brenda Hillman. He’s wearing jeans, a neatly pressed dress shirt and, as Karr described it, “a great, kind of beautiful wondering expression on his face.” Soft and largely unlined, it’s the face of a man who retains a wide-openness despite age, career competition and the inevitable setbacks and disappointments.

The palm fronds snap shut.

Groan. We bet the writer was so proud of that too. So full of cheese! So scripted!

Well, perhaps that’s why the writer is writing about Hass and his accomplishments and not the other way around. These things have a way of working themselves out in the nature of the world.

Thank goodness.

Image Source: Sakeena Ahsan, Daily Cal
Poet Robert Hass goes back in time with new work [SF Chron]
Professor Nominated for Poetry Award [Daily Cal]

Cal Dining just birthed a new babe, and its name is Common Grounds. All you central campus denizens, rejoice! The new establishment is located on floor F in 370 Dwinelle Hall (not that you know where that is), and it offers a fairly nice selection of Peet’s Coffee favorites–including iced beverages and various other roasts. Furthermore, it’s not meant to be a one-stop caffeine shop for overworked linguistics majors. As a former conference room, there is ample couch space for chillin’ on your laptop between classes. Oh, and they accept meal points.

The Clog visited when the new hot spot was already closed–their hours are 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.–so we’re not exactly sure if they sell pastries. We heard a rumor that they do, but there were no pastry selections on the menu board. In addition to the coffee bar, however, there’s a fridge selling sushi and your typical microwavable Japanese cuisine. No microwave included.

Contrary to Dwinelle Hall’s reputation of swallowing students in its merciless labyrinth of hallways and badly labeled floors, Common Grounds is actually quite accessible if you take the correct elevator. One tip: On the elevator down, remember that the main floor is floor C. Don’t press the star–you’ll end up in a scary storage room for mops and dead bodies.

In other news, we felt a little shaking around 8:04 p.m earlier tonight. Naturally, we had to hit up the Berkeley LiveJournal to see if anyone else was freaking out, besides us. They were.

Well, at least we weren’t lost in Dwinelle Hall.

Image Source: Patrici Flores
Common Grounds [Cal Dining]
was that an earthquake, or my neighbors? [UC Berkeley Livejournal]

A tentative ruling Monday afternoon said that whether protesters provide legal names or not, UC Berkeley is tentatively allowed to remove the tree people fenced in at Memorial Stadium’s oak grove since a couple of months ago.The university and tree people have been at odds with one another since folks set up camp in the Nuclear-Free-Vegan-Save-the-Trees Zone almost a year ago.We share sentiments with folks at The Patriot on this one, but Beetle’s probably more realistic in suggesting nothing will happen until construction is set to begin. After all, nothing has happened since Oct. 1 when the court first ordered the tree people to leave or face $1,000 fine and five days in jail.We noticed stuff at the NFVSTTZ seems to happen about once a month. Hormones? Couldn’t be. The vegetables they aren’t cooking on propane tanks don’t have hormones.And it is the University of California. Expect efficiency? Pay thousands of dollars more for it at a school that cares.While we wait for the NFVSTTZ to become Tree People-Free, at least we can reflect as deeply about the issue as the girl on her cell phone (see picture).Image Source: Ted Kwong, Daily Cal. Edited by Krista LaneNew Ruling: Tree-Sitters Must Go [Daily Cal]Cal can boot all tree-sitters, judge says [SF Gate]Falling Excrement Prompts Court Order for Tree-Sitters [The Paper Trail]Vegan Nutrition with Dina Aronson, M.S. R.D. [Vegan Family Living]

Halloween is coming up on Wednesday, and we figure you’ve got the costume situation all sorted out already. You’ve also hit up the weekend’s parties, and now you have to brave a Castro-party-less night in your Chipotle burrito wrap. Being such generous people, we came up with some other ideas to perk up your holiday:

10. Trick-or-treat with the co-opers. We’re serious about this one–it’s actually happening.
9. Don’t watch old seasons of “The X-Files.” Search for real X-type things with fellow alien-obsessed astronomers on top of Campbell Hall.
8. Wait for the Great Pumpkin to show at the oak grove. Find Zachary RunningWolf instead. Offer to “trick-or-treat” for acorns with him.
7. Be a real zombie. Stay up all night and go CRRRAZAAAY.
6. Work on your paper. Everyone knows it’s all about the weekend shindigs anyway.
5. Visit a little shop of horror … for real.
4. Realize that it would probably be easier and cheaper to just buy a big bag of mixed candy yourself. Completely break free of your childhood’s sense of fun and adventure. Cry, and pour yourself a drink. Repeat.
3. Go to class in costume. Feel really, really stupid.
2. Go to the Castro anyway. 50 cent got shot nine times. So can you.
1. Give yourself a good fright by not only liking Britney Spears’ new album, but also buying it off iTunes.

Earlier: Top Ten: Your Metaphorical Security Blanket

Determined astronomers from the Radio Astronomy Laboratory in Campbell Hall really want an answer to the question of life on other planets.They’ve already teamed up with the Seti Institute to build a little something that the Clog likes to call the Alien Telescope Array:

Funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the finished array will have 350 six-metre antennas and will be one of the world’s largest.The Allen Telescope Array (ATA) will be able to sweep more than one million star systems for radio signals generated by intelligent beings. Its creators hope it will help spot definite signs of alien life by 2025.

OK, we admit: We’re super excited. We Cloggers have an affinity for the weird–whether it be of the ghostly, extraterrestrial or hippie sort. Alas, our school doesn’t offer a Bachelor of Science in Supernatural Phenomenon. Our campus doesn’t have any haunted buildings, really–and though Astronomy 10 fueled our curious imaginations, it still left us with an ugly smudge on our freshman transcripts (whoever said the class was easy was lying).We’re crossing our fingers for some interesting results from this project. If not, we’ll just stick to secretly watching “Unsolved Mysteries” reruns on Lifetime.Radio Astronomy Laboratory [Homepage]The Seti Institute [Homepage]Skies to be swept for alien life [BBC]

Not all of us here at the Clog know or care much about football, but we do know that many of you readers love it and know a lot more than we do about it.

We do suspect, though, that the Cal sports bloggers out there may or may not be sober enough to post their condolences (yet) to what appears to be a rapidly diminishing football season.

We don’t know what tonight’s loss against the Sun Devils means, but whatever it is, it can’t be good.

Image Source: Shamim Pakzad
Early Hibernation: Bears get run over after taking 20-7 lead in first half [SF Gate]

We humanities majors don’t ordinarily pay attention to new scientific studies, but this one just happened to be relevant to what we theoretically should do each night: sleep.

Last week’s release of a UC Berkeley study revealed that sleep loss is correlated to deteriorated mental health–or, more specifically, psychiatric disorders. And even more scientifically, it points to increased activity in the parts of our brains controlling alerts to our logical reasoning, making the sleep-deprived more sensitive to stress and prone to overreaction.

It’s nice to think that we have a medical excuse for being irritable during midterms, but it doesn’t compare to the spiderwebs-on-different-drugs experiment we read back in Drugs and the Brain class.

Sleep loss linked to psychiatric disorders [UC Berkeley Newscenter]
Lack of sleep linked to emotional imbalance, imaging study suggests [SF Gate]

Several members of the Berkeley City Council abstained from voting on a matter concerning nine highly contested new cell phone towers (uncertified examples pictured above) for two companies, Verizon and Nextel.

Naturally, many Berkeleyans opposed to the towers believe the cell towers will cause irreparable damage to the landscape and radiate our already Nuclear-Free-Vegan-Save-the-Trees liberal minds.

Others are just sick and tired of crappy phone service.

But the City Council doesn’t seem as ambivalent about subsidizing solar panels for city residents–it’ll discuss on Nov. 6 a plan to purchase solar panels for residents who will reimburse the city through increased property taxes.

Houses with such modifications could use almost exclusively solar energy to power their homes. That kind of self-sustainability could increase their property values and reduce greenhouse gas emissions AT THE SAME TIME OMG IT’S SO ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY.

The plan doesn’t, however, address the some 40 percent of Berkeley residents who rent their housing, which doesn’t make it quite so attractive.

Either that, or it’s just another reason Berkeley residents who own their homes can stick up their noses at the renters.

Berkeley council takes no vote on cell-phone towers [SF Gate]
City May be Headed to Court Over Verizon, Nextel Cell Towers [Daily Cal]
City Looks to Promote Solar Use Through Property Tax Program [Daily Cal]


 The People’s Park Advisory Board is scheduled to meet to hear public comments on a report and the state of People’s Park on Nov. 5. On Dec. 3 the Board will make recommendations to the University of California about the study and future steps.The draft can be viewed at the Web site of Office of Community Relations.It’s not so surprising that some people want change in People’s Park. It’s not exactly the most groomed, family-friendly place.What might be surprising, though, is that the university owns People’s Park. Yeah, we also thought the university only owned manicured lawns and buildings with metal grading that is supposed to look like bamboo.Now, tell us if this is surprising: the people fighting against the university for the fate of People’s Park also list “Saving the Oak Trees at Memorial Stadium” on their agenda.We were also surprised at some of the recommendations people had for the park, as the Daily Planet reports:
“I have said in the past that it would be great to have something small like a cafe to mark the history of the place and have a cup of coffee,”(Board member George Bier) said. “That’ll attract young people.” 

 Then, there is a whole Web site dedicated to “community members who are working towards improving the children’s play area at People’s Park in Berkeley.” Everyone has their own agenda, even the kiddies.And, of course, the University of California has plans of their own. It summarized in a press release several broad findings about the park, which indicate the direction the changes will actually go.

  • There is a broad desire for People’s Park to remain, to some extent, a publicly accessible open space.
  • The park should better fit the needs and interests of the local community and UC students.
  • There is a lack of coherent guiding principles, long-term planning, and programming to anchor the park to the local neighborhood.
  • The park is not an optimal place for providing food and social services.
  • Greater intervention and oversight of the park is needed to make it safer and more welcoming to the broader community.
  • Thinning and/or removing vegetation along the park’s corners and in wooded areas would improve sightlines and provide better pedestrian access points to the park.
  • There should be formal recognition of the park’s history at the site.
  • Image Source: George Derk, Daily CalPress Release: Ideas and reaction sought on report examining People’s Park future [UC Berkeley]University Seeks Community Input on People’s Park Report [Berkeley Daily Planet]People’s Park [Web site]People’s Park News [Web site]Office of Community Relations [UC Berkeley]

    To help kick off the flurry of pre-Halloween parties (though maybe a few days too late), the Clog has compiled a list of verbs to help get your costume ideas off the ground.We know what a pain it is not to have a costume five minutes before the party starts. Though, we know that for those who wear a minimal amount of clothing to said Halloween parties, five minutes is more than enough time to get in your costume.Here are a few, more festive options than going nearly-naked or being lame and not wearing a costume at all:GO:To Halloween Headquarters, at 1500 San Pablo (formerly McNevin Auto Dealer). Shopping is sometimes the easiest option for *cough* uncreative *cough* people.To Spirit Halloween, at 2201 Shattuck Avenue (formerly Eddie Bauer).DECIDE:To be the first inanimate object in the room that you see. A stapler: bend a hanger into a staple. A baked potato: stuff your shirt with pillows, and wrap yourself in aluminum foil. (If you decide not to add cotton balls for sour cream, just tell everyone you are a Chipotle burrito.) C’mon, with a little cardboard or aluminum foil, you can be anything.SEARCH:At thrift stores, and think of a fantastic, nondescript label for your new ensemble.TRADE:Clothes from a bum, and pose as Berkeley personality. Better yet, dress up as the Happy Happy Happy guy, or the Lennon Murder Truth guy … though we’re not so sure that they will be willing to trade for their iconic signs.BE:Nice. OK, so this isn’t really a costume, but if you trick or treat for UNICEF, it makes up for not having a costume in our book.Halloween Headquarters [ShopInBerkeley]Spirit Halloween [ShopInBerkeley]Berkeley Used & Vintage Clothing [ShopInBerkeley]Bears for UNICEF [Web site]

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