Arts + Letters

Debugging the Novel

When Vikram Chandra started writing his best-selling novel, Sacred Games (2006), he knew it was going to be a big book. And he was right: All told, the novel is 947 pages, includes over 100 characters, and spans a 60-year timeline. To make the writing process smoother, Chandra set out to find a software program he could use to store, organize, and keep track of the details of his novel. But no off-the-shelf program met his needs. Read more about Debugging the Novel »

From the Fall 2017 Bugged issue of California.

An Entomological Etymology

Over the centuries, bug has become an astonishingly versatile little word, with roughly six common meanings and 170 slang uses. But why? Where did the word come from and how did it manage to so infest the English language?

The question was buggin’ me, so I called up Geoffrey Nunberg, renowned linguist and professor at the Berkeley School of Information, to see what he could tell me. Read more about An Entomological Etymology »

From the Fall 2017 Bugged issue of California.

A Disruption in The Force: Peter Nicks’s New Documentary Has a Hella Big Plot Twist

Pete Nicks thought he knew what he was getting into when he started filming the Oakland Police Department in the fall of 2014. The department had long been under the thumb of a federal judge due to a series of lawsuits exposing poor management and pervasive abuses, but the OPD had a new chief who seemed poised to reform the troubled department.   Read more about A Disruption in The Force: Peter Nicks’s New Documentary Has a Hella Big Plot Twist »

This Berkeley Painter Is the Best Surrealist You’ve Never Heard Of

This summer, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) will be presenting the first US museum retrospective of artist Charles Howard’s work since 1946, charting the trajectory of his career from the early 1920s to the 1960s. Howard was a prominent figure in the surrealist and abstract art movements, and brought together the European and American movements of his time. Read more about This Berkeley Painter Is the Best Surrealist You've Never Heard Of »

WATCH: Flashback to When the New US Poet Laureate Read at Cal

In describing  poet Tracy K. Smith’s work, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden says: “Her work travels the world and takes on its voices; brings history and memory to life; calls on the power of literature as well as science, religion and pop culture. With directness and deftness, she contends with the heavens or plumbs our inner depths—all to better understand what makes us most human.” Hayden named Smith  the 22nd U.S. poet laureate this Wednesday.  Read more about WATCH: Flashback to When the New US Poet Laureate Read at Cal »

Vijay Iyer Jazzes Up the Ojai at Berkeley Music Festival

A couples counselor could have warned Vijay Iyer that the relationship was doomed, but he needed to figure it out for himself. When he arrived at UC Berkeley in the summer of 1992 to start a graduate program in physics, Iyer was also nursing a simmering passion for jazz. The pianist quickly started connecting with some of the Bay Area’s leading improvisers, and after two years, he found himself in something of a crisis—uninspired by his academic courses while increasingly drawn to intensive jazz sessions. Read more about Vijay Iyer Jazzes Up the Ojai at Berkeley Music Festival »

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