Contributed by John Menier
In modern English, the word “amateur” is often used in a condescending or pejorative sense, which is unfortunate. It is a borrowed French word that derives from the Latin “amator,” meaning “lover.” Hence, the term amateur was originally applied to someone who does something purely for the love of it rather than for compensation and was not a comment on competency.
It is in the spirit of “for the love of it” that Scott Paulson, Exhibits & Events Coordinator for UC San Diego Library, solicited fantasy and science fiction pieces of no more than 250 words for a live reading. The inaugural event in an intended micro-fiction project, “Short Tales from the Mothership” was inspired by magazine editor George Hay. In the 1970s Hay challenged such well-known authors as Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov to submit stories for publication that could fit on a postcard. Following Hay’s example, Scott Paulson encouraged writers from the campus and San Diego communities to publicly showcase their short-short fiction. The stories presented that evening proved to be both diverse and diverting, encompassing a range of styles from comic and satirical to dystopian and experimental. All of the stories are evocative, and several of the works assumed the characteristics of poetry in their economy of language, their heightened descriptive imagery, and their attention to tone.
The result is a celebration of both micro-fiction as a distinct art form and the power of the spoken word – and yes, the joy of doing something for the love of it.
Watch Short Tales from the Mothership
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Contributed by John Menier
Listed by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2012, Ann Patchett is a true woman of letters: novelist, essayist, anthologist, and co-owner of Parnassus Books in Nashville. Patchett is also a frequent and accomplished public speaker, noted for her anecdotes about the literary life, her insights into the creative process, and her wry wit.
One of Patchett’s favorite topics is the ever-changing relationship between readers and books. As an example she cites her own evolution reading (and re-reading) the works of John Updike, Leo Tolstoy, Pearl Buck, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and others, noting that “the books don’t change, but we do.” Put another way, the reader’s evaluation of a particular book is shaped as much by the reader’s life experience and circumstances as by the work’s innate qualities. As such our appreciation (or lack thereof) for a particular title may change over time, but the consistent commonality among the books we treasure is that they never fail to evoke a strong response. Patchett believes the writer’s primary task is to elicit that response by inviting the reader to become an active participant in their story.
Patchett’s approach to the reading public is refreshingly un-elitist. She stresses the importance of what she calls “gateway drugs,” books of dubious literary worth that may encourage readers to explore other authors and genres. She applauds the success of “trashy” pop novels such as “Fifty Shades of Gray” and “Twilight,” no matter their pedigree, for their role in re-vitalizing book sales and energizing the publishing community. What matters most to Patchett as both author and bookstore owner is that the reading habit is fostered and encouraged, and in that endeavor, there’s no place for snobbery.
Click here to watch An Evening with Ann Patchett
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We first met Dr. Lusting in 2009 when UCTV presented his “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” lecture. That viral video now has over 7 million YouTube views, and more every day.
His latest program, “The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains,” coincides with the publishing of his new book of the same title.
In this half-hour interview, Lustig, a UCSF endocrinologist, explores the reward system in our brains – serotonin, cortisol, and dopamine – chemicals that drive our pleasure-seeking behaviors including overeating, drug use, and that ever-present cell phone. But he goes beyond just neural pathways and brain chemistry to impute the underlying economic machine that creates industries that profit off processed foods full of sugar.
He recommends a “four Cs” solution — connect, contribute, cope, and cook — urging a slowed-down lifestyle for the sake of our health and happiness.
In addition to the interview “The Hacking of the American Mind”, you may enjoy these short videos:
The Difference Between Happiness and Pleasure
Corporate Responsibility vs. Individual Responsibility
Are All Calories the Same?
Responsibility of the Food Industry
Processed Food and Pleasure
For a deeper dive, watch the video that started it all and other programs with Dr. Robert Lustig:
Sugar: The Bitter Truth
The Skinny on Obesity
Fat Chance: Fructose 2.0
Healthcare has never been as important to peoples’ lives as it is today. Staggering advances in technology and science stand alongside major changes — and controversies — in policy and payment. In this new series, Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of UCSF’s Department of Medicine, bestselling author, and rated in 2015 by Modern Healthcare magazine as the most influential physician-executive in the U.S., interviews leading lights in medicine and healthcare.
In addition to finding out what’s happening now and where medicine is going, these individuals talk about the experiences that shaped their careers.
The first two programs are available now with more coming monthly to UCTV.
Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo
From self-described army brat to a renowned physician and scientist, Dr. Bibbins-Domingo is the immediate past-chair of the US Preventive Services Task Force. Find out how she balances the various demands on her time, including being a mom.
Dr. Lloyd “Holly” Smith
Dr. Smith came to San Francisco in 1964 and transformed UCSF into a world leader. His ability to steer that change is as much about management as medicine.
Join host Dean Nelson for the 21st Annual Writer’s Symposium, a witty and informative interview-based experience where the audience gets to eavesdrop on conversations between authors about the art and angst of writing. Three new programs are sure to inspire!
Author, spoken word artist, poet, essayist, professor, Nikki Giovanni has been electrifying audiences for more than 40 years, earning her one of Oprah Winfrey’s Living Legends distinctions. In this fun and insightful interview, Giovanni reads some of her work and talks about her relationships with Toni (Morrison), Miss (Rosa) Parks, Maya (Angelou), and others. Find out why she has a bone to pick with Obama and hear the story behind her tattoo. She also reveals that she loves to inform readers with her poetry, and that she’s a real “space freak”!
If you’ve listened to sports on the radio or watched it on television anywhere in the world, you have heard Dick Enberg exclaim “Oh My!” His essays on sports are as legendary as his voice. In addition to his autobiography Oh My!, he wrote a play about basketball coach Al McGuire that still travels around the country. Enberg was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015 for his broadcasting excellence.
Robin Jones Gunn
Robin Jones Gunn has a gift for writing about relationships that reflect depth, values, and eternal love that appeal to everyone. Her books (including the Christy Miller series, Sierra Jensen series, Katie Weldon series, Sisterchicks series, Glenbrooke series, fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books) have sold 5 million copies.
Watch these programs and browse others from The Writer’s Symposium by the Sea.