Two alma maters

Even though it’s Saturday, and even though there’s the UCLA logo on the right, it’s not really a football post. Honest.


any people who have gone to graduate school have gone to two different schools… at least. I went to UCLA to get a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts. My BA is in Japanese–whatever that means. I mean, that would be like someone in Japan majoring in “American”: A little bit of US culture, four years of English, 200 plus years of US history, a semester on Whitman or Hemingway or Fitzgerald. In majoring in Japanese, there is more than 1000 years of history, a written language than applies words pronounced in both Japanese and Chinese to thousands of Chinese characters, and scores of well known authors and poets that predate Columbus. So saying I majored in Japanese in college doesn’t necessarily mean I was an expert at that time.

My MA is in East Asian Languages and Cultures. To be honest, that is even vaguer than my BA degree. Why? Because I focused on Japan. I was required to take a year of another East Asian language and some other East Asian topic, so I studied Chinese for a summer at the University of Washington and I also took medieval Chinese history. But I am a far cry from being an East Asianist. I mean, if Japan was too vast topic to master in four years, then what the heck am I gonna do in two years with 3000 years of history, tens of thousands of Chinese characters, and more dead Asian males than you can shake a stick at. I don’t mean to suggest that I didn’t study, and I do know more about Japan than most people, but geez, Japan–let alone East Asian–is so vast that I’m wary of calling myself a specialist even now with a Ph.D.


Speaking of which, I got that little baby at Stanford. I got a great education there, and made contacts that have been indispensable in my career. But lets face it, I had my best years during my undergraduate years, and my loyalties reside there. So when UCLA plays Stanford today on the Farm, I will not hesitate to root for my Bruins. I mean, I’ve been rooting for them since my childhood before I enrolled there, so I wouldn’t be changing alliances so easily anyway.

However, I root for Stanford when they play anyone else, but I gotta tell ya’, rooting for this school is an experience in itself. The mascot is a tree–a TREE! Seriously, do you know how hard it is to give the ol’ Stanford yell when the Tree is encouraging you on? And the band! Hahahahahha. They are the most unique… wait, that’s not the word. Let’s be honest. It’s more like the weirdest band of them all. They have absolutely no discipline. They wear cardinal red blazers–usually wrinkled and soiled. They wear hats that most people associate with fishing. Indeed, I’ve seen some have hooks and flies attached to them. This is not a reflection of their musicianship, mind you. They play marvelously. But they are crazy. When the team played Notre Dame one year, the band played music that included a tribute to the Irish potato famine. I kid you not. And when the Bruins were in the midst of the handicapped parking scandal, the Stanford band marched in the formation of a handicapped parking sticker. This was amazing when you consider this band can barely march in a straight line. And in step with each other? Pshaw! That would be too… too… too much like a MARCHING band.

But I gotta tell ya, they are a riot to watch and a pleasure to listen to, when they are not dissing you or your team or your school. I mean, they don’t even respect their own school. One year, the football team was playing Cal (I think), and the team played so badly that the Band–already drunk–decided to take their frustration out on their own mascot. A few grabbed the tree and others began to urinate on it. They were pissing on their OWN mascot. I think someone later said they were just relieving themselves on the nearest tree… Hahahaha. These guys are out of control.

Anyway, Go Bruins! Beat the Cardinal…

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