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Oct 21st
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Area Opinions

Columns - Opinion

Friend Without a Facebook

Friend Without a Facebook

Did you see The Social Network? Jesse Eisenberg plays Harvard undergrad Mark Zuckerberg, on the brink of founding the Facebook phenomenon, as a snarky, sarcastic, and rude narcissist, peering out a the world with cold-eyed disdain. When his girlfriend dumps him, all he can think of is rushing back to the dorm to go online and have his revenge. Nowadays, we call this online bullying. In 2003, it was the birth of a $41 billion empire.

I have no idea whether this portrait of Mark Zuckerberg is in any way true or accurate. But I've always found something a little creepy about the Borg-like stealth of Facebook and the way everyone needs to plug in, hook up, and drop out of real life. Resistance is futile, all right; every time I delete one invitation to join FB out of my inbox, six more pop up in its place.

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Columns - Opinion

‘So Far, I’m Immortal’

‘So Far, I’m Immortal’

Thanksgiving is always a good time to take stock of your luck. At the table, many families take turns relating something to be grateful for. In such a shared setting, we usually talk about nice things in the world that we can all be thankful for: friends and family, roofs over our heads, California weather, Smartwool socks, anyone who makes the political landscape look less bleak or at least funny, the rise of the American microbrew.

This year, I felt thankful for something of a more selfish nature. I was thankful for being alive, because I recently realized the odds were against me. And I suspect that if you did the math, you would feel the same.

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Columns - Opinion

Thanksgiving for the Ungrateful

Thanksgiving for the UngratefulLet’s be frank. We should be grateful for so much, every single day of the year, and most of us understand that. In fact, there are plenty of irritating souls among us who, willingly, and without solicitation, share their daily gratitude at the drop of a hat. (Yes, you can be grateful for the sunshine and your smoothie, but keep it to yourself.) And yet, it’s so much easier (and more fun) to whine and mope, isn’t it? Three hundred sixty four days a year we get away with this sour attitude, and we fit right in with almost everyone we know. However, one day a year we are called to task, quite often in public, and suddenly the complaining about your fingernail shape, the color of your living room rug or the annoying personal hygiene of your investment broker no longer fits in with polite conversation. This day is upon us—Happy Thanksgiving.

Lights up on Thanksgiving dinner, a table burdened with delights and surrounded by friends and/or family. Cue background music, something simultaneously calming and festive, with a slight hint of a football game from an adjoining room. Enter the host or hostess, tapping on a glass, with the announcement, “Why don’t we go around the table and share what we’re thankful for this year. Grandpa, why don’t you start?

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Columns - Opinion

Now How About Serving The Public?

Now How About Serving The Public?

Now that the election season is over, it’s time to hit the reset button. Political arguing has had its place. And there’s a lot to bat back and forth: the Republican sweep, the Democratic win in California, the role of the Tea Party and whether 72-year-old Jerry Brown can turn things around in California.

But none of that really has much to do with what comes next. Too often, observers of the political scene get taken up by who wins, who loses, and who’s going to run in the next election.

It’s time to get over it. Now it’s time to actually run the government and serve the people. Doing so takes different skills entirely. It’s not about the horse race anymore.

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Columns - Opinion

Wallace Baine: An Appreciation

Wallace Baine: An Appreciation

I remember when Wallace Baine was the new kid on the block, back in the early 1990s, when he first arrived at the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
Back then, the local literati got together weekly over stale popcorn and coffee for film screenings, held at the Nickelodeon, to promote the latest cinematic faire on the theater’s schedule. It was there that I was first introduced to this fresh-faced kid just hired by the Sentinel to serve as its new arts writer.

For those of us who came of age during the Counter Culture here in Santa Cruz, the Sentinel— with its conservative political leanings and Wall Street Journal sensibilities—was considered enemy territory, particularly for those of us who wrote for the two or three weeklies always in distribution here since the early 1970s, including Good Times.

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Columns - Opinion

West Meets East, Smiling Politely

West Meets East, Smiling Politely

As I prepare myself physically and mentally for an impending minor surgical procedure (nothing life-threatening, nothing to increase or decrease specific body parts, nothing I couldn’t discuss over cocktails in polite society), I look back at my journey to this point, the helpful advice received from friends and strangers, and the research into all of the options available to me. Then I smile and thank someone’s god for western medicine.

Before you get your yoga pants in a knot, allow me to continue.

I collect medical practitioners like kitchen appliances, and count among my handiest helpers chiropractors, acupuncturists, osteopaths and Rolfers, alongside ear, nose and throat and orthopedic doctors. I’ve had psychic readings from afar and visited gastroenterologists … for within. But my sigh of relief at western medicine stems from memories of my first brush with eastern medicine, a day I like to refer to as The Day My Black Heart Stood Still.

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Columns - Opinion

Empty Nest, Lined with Cash

Empty Nest, Lined with Cash

When I was 12, I told my friends that I didn’t intend to have kids. “Yeah right,” they said. “You’re totally the type.”

“Wanna bet?”

After long negotiations held during a Wiffle Ball game, we settled on a two-stage wager: If I’m childless by 30, they owe me $5,000. At 50, it’s $30,000. Each.

Today, the warm feeling I get looking into the soft dark eyes of the fussy baby girl in my lap is surpassed only by the relief of handing her back to her mother. Kids are interesting, but I don’t need to own one any more than I do a Rototiller. In both cases, I can always borrow one. If I want to blend in at a Pixar or teen vampire movie, consider me a free babysitter for a few hours. And when it’s time to turn the garden soil, I’ll trade you a case of beer for the loan of your machine. If it’s busted, just send over your kid with a shovel. Work builds character.

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Columns - Opinion

The Campaign Commercial You'll Never See

The Campaign Commercial You'll Never See

Two-time Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson refused to appear in televised commercial during his campaigns in 1952 and 1956, saying that doing so was beneath his dignity.

Too bad that Adlai's not on the ballot today. He'd get my vote.

Election season once was the political junkie's most exciting time of year. It was like draft day for the fantasy football fanatic.

Alas, no more. The barrage of television commercials is as depressing as it is offensive, with messaging and negativity aimed squarely at manipulating the least informed voters. Attack ads do two things: they make anyone running for office look greedy and/or crooked; they also effectively win elections. Alas, that's the problem. No one—winners or losers—emerge unscathed.

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Columns - Opinion

Halloween

Halloween

How Many Times Can I Say ‘Sexy’?
I feel it in the air, sense it in local thrift stores and smell it on the breath of every remotely hip person in town. No, not curry—Halloween is almost upon us. Although it’s often hard to tell here, what with “keeping it weird,” “doing your own thing,” and “year-round Burning Man,” I found proof at Target: Christmas decorations side-by-side with candy corn. Trick and treat.

This won’t be a nostalgic comparison with Halloweens of my youth. And it won’t be a rant about our fabled downtown antics, either; as a fan of public outdoor gatherings, cross-dressing and martial law, it’s sort of a perfect night for me.

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Field Work

Santa Cruz Mountain winemakers explain how the harvest works, and what kind of wine to expect from this year's crop

 

Libra's Two Choices

Libra (our last week) is the sign of creating right relations and values. In Libra we are asked to choose how to be, our identity in the world. We can maintain a hermetic sealed-off attitude (my life, my work, my money, etc.) or we can gain knowledge of world events and learn more about those in need. Libra is a group sign—self with others. Here are some events occurring in our world this week concerning food, poverty, spirituality, values and global realities. The UN (a spiritual experiment) each month places a “light” upon world problems. This week a light shines on Rural Women, Farms, Food & Poverty. Before we choose to respond we must have knowledge. “So we can each do our part.” Oct. 15 - International Day of Rural Women (unrecognized with few resources); Oct. 16 - World Food Day & Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth; Oct. 17 - Eradication of Poverty Day (international). During the month of Libra (with Saturn exalted), we pause, contemplate and assess what it is we know, don’t know, and need to know. Libra receives and distributes Ray 3 of divine intelligence, right relations, right choice and right economy (Venus). Use your intelligence “tips the Libran scales” in terms of being able to see and then choose between the two paths Libra offers (return to the past or step forward into Scorpio’s Discipleship). Libra (the oscillating light) prepares us for the great tests and conflicts in Scorpio. In Libra we are subtly tested as we learn the nature of polarized energies (s/he loves me, s/he loves me not). In Libra we learn more about ourselves through others. Libra’s Ray 3 asks us to become more adaptable and skillful. And then we are to teach each other what we know. In Libra, we all become teachers. In all these ways love is cultivated.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Docs Without Borders

United Nations Association Film Festival showcases documentaries from around the globe
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Nut Kreations

Co-owner Craig Olsen goes nuts over nuts

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Friends who are wine club members of Martin Ranch invited us to the winery’s fun and festive annual barbecue, where the wine is flowing and the food just keeps on coming. Music and dancing are part and parcel of the action, and a good time is guaranteed.

 

Beer Bus

Santa Cruz’s new Brew Cruz, award winning ales, mole by el Jardín, and Wildcat Ridge Chardonnay