Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Unsanitary conditions found at New Yung Wah's McKees Rocks warehouse.

An October inspection by the Food and Drug Administration revealed unsanitary conditions at a local warehouse of a distributor for Asian restaurants, writes DailyFinance.
Among the findings in the inspection of the company's McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, warehouse:
* A rodent's nest with multiple rodents in a plastic-lined box in a cooler that had thawing rib meat on top of melons.
* Four dead rodents.
* Birds flying throughout the warehouse.
* A pallet of pineapples in boxes gnawed on by rodents, an apparent nest they made and rodent feces.
* Rodent feces in a cooler.
* A path of rodent feces leading to a hole in a bag of flour.
* Rodent feces, urine and nests in and around bags of monosodium glutamate.
* Workers smoking while handling food being prepared for distribution.
The full warning letter sent to the Brooklyn-based New Yung Wah Trading Company is available on the FDA website.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Japanese Sword Dance performance by Tadashi part of First Night Pittsburgh on New Years' Eve.


From Tadashi's website.

A Japanese Sword Dance will be one of many performances in downtown Pittsburgh on New Years' Eve as part of First Night Pittsburgh. The performer, Tadashi Kato, will present "a sword dance based on the mixture of traditional Japanese martial arts and American modern dance." A fuller profile on Tadashi is available at his website. He most recently performed in Pittsburgh at Kennywood's Asian Day last May.

There are two free performances scheduled at Pittsburgh CAPA School: 6:45 to 7:00 pm, and 9:00 to 9:15 pm. The school is located at 111 9th St. (map) in the Cultural District.

Pitt graduate putting Japanese skills to use for Asahi Shimbun.

In December, the Snapshot newsletter of the University of Pittsburgh's School of Arts & Sciences profiled Joelle Metcalfe, a 2011 Pitt graduate using her Japanese skills to cover the UN for the Asahi Shimbun:
A self-proclaimed "foreign policy junkie," Metcalfe is a staff reporter for the major Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, covering its United Nations beat. This means Metcalfe—who graduated magna cum laude from the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences in 2011 with a BA in East Asian Languages and Literatures and a minor in political science—has had to become a generalist proficient in a broad array of international issues. Right now, hot topics include Syria, Palestine, the Central African Republic, the Ebola epidemic, Yemen, South Sudan, Iraq, and Ukraine.

"As someone who had been concentrating solely on northeast Asia for the past couple years, I had to learn fast about the recent events in the Middle East and Africa and get on top of the history behind these issues while the crises were still unfolding," says Metcalfe. "It may sound hectic, but I enjoy keeping fresh on different issues at a rapid pace."

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Korean film Oldboy (올드보이) at Row House Cinema from Friday.



Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville will show the 2003 Korean film Oldboy (올드보이) from December 26 through January 1. 올드보이, the 21st-century classic not to be confused with the 2013 Spike Lee remake, is summarized in a 2005 Roger Ebert review:
A man gets violently drunk and is chained to the wall in a police station. His friend comes and bails him out. While the friend is making a telephone call, the man disappears from an empty city street in the middle of the night. The man regains consciousness in what looks like a shabby hotel room. A bed, a desk, a TV, a bathroom cubicle. There is a steel door with a slot near the floor for his food tray. Occasionally a little tune plays, the room fills with gas, and when he regains consciousness the room has been cleaned, his clothes have been changed, and he has received a haircut.

This routine continues for 15 years. He is never told who has imprisoned him, or why. He watches TV until it becomes his world. He fills one journal after another with his writings. He pounds the wall until his fists grow bloody, and then hardened. He screams. He learns from TV that his blood and fingerprints were found at the scene of his wife's murder. That their daughter has been adopted in Sweden. That if he were to escape, he would be a wanted man.
. . .
When he suddenly finds himself freed from his bizarre captivity 15 years later, he is a different person, focused on revenge, ridiculously responsive to kindness. Wandering into a restaurant, he meets a young woman who, he knows from the TV, is Korea's "Chef of the Year." This is Mido. Sensing that he has suffered, feeling an instinctive sympathy, she takes him home with her, hears his story, cares for him, comes to love him. Meanwhile, he sets out on a methodical search to find the secret of his captivity. He was fed pot stickers, day after day, until their taste is burned into his memory, and he travels the city's restaurants until he finds the one that supplied his meals. That is the key to tracking down his captors.
Showtimes are available online. The theater is located at 4115 Butler St. (map).

Monday, December 22, 2014

Pittsburgh Pirates win bidding for Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang.



The Pittsburgh Pirates have won the bidding for Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang (강정호). From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Their posting fee was $5,002,015, as reported by his team, the Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization, and the Heroes accepted the bid Saturday.

The Pirates have 30 days to negotiate with Kang’s agent, Alan Nero of Octagon. If the two sides reach an agreement, Nexen receives the posting fee. If not, Kang cannot be posted again until next winter.

Kang, 27, hit .356 with a .459 on-base percentage and 40 home runs in 117 games for the Heroes this season, though those impressive offensive numbers came against lower-level competition in the KBO.
Pirates scouts, among those from many other teams, were seen at Korean Baseball Organization games throughout 2014. If Kang signs with the Pirates and makes their roster, he will be the second Korean player in the team's history after pitcher Chan-ho Park, who would set the record for wins by an Asian player in the Major Leagues during his late-2010 stint in Pittsburgh. Relief pitcher Byung-hyun Kim never made it out of spring training in 2008, while several others have played in the Pirates system.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter at Hollywood Theater, March 27.



The Hollywood Theater in Dormont announced today it will show the 2014 film Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter on March 27. A summary from the Sundance Festival homepage:
Kumiko lives in a cluttered, cramped apartment in Tokyo with her pet rabbit, Bunzo. She works as an office lady, robotically preparing tea and fetching dry cleaning for her nitpicky boss. But on her own time, she obsessively watches a well-known American film on a weathered VHS tape. Rewinding and fast-forwarding repeatedly, she meticulously maps out where a briefcase of castaway loot is buried within the fictional film. After hours of intense research—convinced that her destiny depends on finding the money—Kumiko heads to the United States and into the harsh Minnesota winter to search for it.
The American film stars several Japanese actors, including Rinko Kikuchi, and will debut in US theaters in March 2015.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Dress Designs Reflections of Visit to Pitt Nationality Rooms".



Speaking of the Chinese Nationality Room, a Pittsburgh Press article from December 31, 1944 followed dress designer Dorris Varnum [sic] to the Cathedral of Learning to profile "a delightful collection of dresses" inspired by her visit to Pittsburgh. "[T]he dress expressing her notion of the Chinese Memorial classroom" is pictured on the right.
Smooth rayon jersey was the fabric chosen for the print, and black designs are splashed against grounds of pale jade green, lotus blossom and Ming blue.

The black designs could be taken to express one conception of plum blossoms seen on the carved doorframe of the classroom. These blossoms, which grow out of snow and ice, blooming before the winter is past, are Chinese national flowers.

Very appropriately, this bright dress makes its bow during a season of snow and ice.

Monday, December 15, 2014

"Classical Piano in Performance: The Piano Music of Quentin Kim" at CMU, December 16.

Pianist Nathan Carterette will perform the works of Quentin Kim (김정권) on December 16 at CMU's Kresge Theater (map), to mark the release of the former's CD of Kim's music. From Carterette's site:
To announce the release of my CD recorded last year in Busan, Quentin Kim is coming to Pittsburgh to attend a once-only concert featuring his solo piano works.

The event will be at Kresge Theatre in the Fine Arts Building on the campus of Carnegie-Mellon University, Tuesday December 16 at 2 pm. This event is free and a reception follows.

Included will be his great Sonata in g# minor, Lilies: A Ballad-Fantasy, Springtime Glances, Variations on an Ancient Korean Melody, the Prelude and Fugue in c# minor (dedicated to myself), and other short works.
Please note, elsewhere on Carterette's site and on other event listings the start time is 3:00 pm (map).

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Japan Times profiles Pittsburgh Pirates trainer Kiyoshi Momose.

On December 6, the Japan Times profiled Kiyoshi Momose, a Nagano native who works as a trainer for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Momose speaks Japanese, Spanish, and English, and was the strength and conditioning coach for the Major League Baseball squad that toured Japan in November.
Momose is one of several Japanese nationals currently working for MLB clubs as trainers, video coordinators, scouts and, of course, translators. He is one of the more versatile because of his skills in leading exercise and stretching sessions with the players and his language abilities. He has worked stints at the Pirates Academy in the Dominican Republic and has accompanied Pittsburgh scouts to Japan to serve as their advisor and interpreter.

Pirates scouting director Tyrone Brooks said, “Kiyoshi has been a valuable member to our organization these last 14 years, thanks to his ability to be a such a great asset with our major league staff and players, our Latin American players in educating them about proper strength and conditioning methods and in assisting our efforts to make inroads in scouting Japanese baseball.

“His ability to communicate in various languages makes him such a rare commodity, and we thank him for his efforts. His personality and work ethic is so greatly appreciated.”

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Pittsburgh receives delegation from Sister City Wuhan; Mayor Peduto to visit in 2015.

Pittsburgh received a delegation from Wuhan, China, on Friday, according to a December 12 release:
The delegation will meet [Friday] afternoon with Chief of Staff Kevin Acklin, Innovation & Performance Chief Debra Lam, Chief of Urban Affairs Valerie McDonald-Roberts, Chinese entrepreneurs, and community and education leaders from the Pittsburgh region. Michele Heryford, the Managing Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Pittsburgh will be presenting on the educational exchanges. Renee Piechocki, Director of the Office of Public Art for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council will be presenting on the public art scene in Pittsburgh as well as giving the Chinese delegation a public art tour. Other community groups have also supported the planning and welcome for the delegation, including The Idea Foundry and the Pittsburgh Chinese Chamber of Commerce.
And mayor Bill Peduto will travel to Wuhan next year:
The city announced [on Friday] that Mr. Peduto will travel to Wuhan, China, next year to deliver "a keynote address on urban transformation" at a conference in the central Chinese city of 10 million that straddles the Yangtze River.
Pittsburgh and Wuhan have been sister cities since September 1982. A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article from March 29 of that year mentions some of the similarities between Pittsburgh and "China's steel capital":
The central China city also has a geographic similarity to Pittsburgh--it, too, has three rivers.

Art of Origami: Holiday Edition, downtown, December 20.


"Little Christmas Wreath", by Jeannie Fletcher.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Downtown & Business branch will host "Art of Origami: Holiday Edition" on December 20.
Just in time for the holidays! Join us for an interactive workshop on the art of Origami.

Origami is the traditional Japanese art of paper folding where flat sheets of paper are transformed into simple or elaborate sculptures and arrangements.

Bring in your holiday gift wrap paper for neat holiday themed sculptures!
The event is free, and runs from 2:30 to 3:30 pm at 612 Smithfield St. (map).

Friday, December 12, 2014

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫の物語) and From Up on Poppy Hill (コクリコ坂から) at Row House Cinema from tomorrow through December 18.



Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville will present the GKIDS Animation Festival from December 12 through 18, including two animated films from Japan and Studio Ghibli: 2013's The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫の物語) in its Pittsburgh debut and 2011's From Up On Poppy Hill (コクリコ坂から). The movies will be shown in Japanese with English subtitles.

A.V. Club provides a summary of The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫の物語):
A humble bamboo cutter named Okina (translation: “old man”) happens upon a glowing stalk in the grove near his house. When he investigates, the shimmering tree blossoms reveal a baby nested inside. Believing this discovery to be a gift from the heavens, Okina brings her home to his wife Ouna (“old woman”), with whom he begins to raise the child as their own. Dubbing her “Princess” Kaguya, Ouna and Okina marvel at how rapidly the girl begins to grow, racing from infancy to pre-adolescence in a matter of days.

While Kaguya busies herself with a normal childhood, making friends with the local kids and bonding with an older boy named Sutemaru, her adopted father becomes distracted by Kaguya’s value to him—the bamboo shoot from which she was born begins producing gold. As Kaguya transforms into a teenager, Okina relocates their family to the capital city, where the girl receives lessons on how to be a proper woman, and is celebrated as a rare beauty. When five aggressive suitors come calling—followed by the emperor himself—Kaguya begins to feel trapped, things falling apart as she imagines a different life for herself.
It goes on to say the film has "some of the most beautifully expressive animation that Ghibli (or anyone else) has ever produced".

Wikipedia provides a brief summary of the latter:
Set in 1963 Yokohama, Japan, the film tells the story of Umi Matsuzaki, a high school girl living in a boarding house, Coquelicot Manor. When Umi meets Shun Kazama, a member of the school's newspaper club, they decide to clean up the school's clubhouse, Quartier Latin. However, Tokumaru, the chairman of the local high school and a businessman, intends to demolish the building for redevelopment and Umi and Shun, along with Shirō Mizunuma, must persuade him to reconsider.
And the Pittsburgh City-Paper adds, in a review of the film when it was last here in 2013:
The film's small story is set against a larger cultural one, as Japan transitions from the sorrows and hardships of the last generation's wars to being a modern world power. Nearly every scene contains visual cues that show Japan's mish-mash of old and new, while the story illustrates this new generation, caught between the nostalgic pull of the past and the responsibility of leading this new Japan.
Showtimes are available at the theater's website. The theater is located at 4115 Butler St. (map).

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pitt Chronicle on Chinese Nationality Room in Cathedral of Learning.


The Chinese Nationality Room in 1939; via Historic Pittsburgh.

The December 8 issue of the Pitt Chronicle profiles the Chinese Nationality Room, which turns 75 years old this year.
A group of Pitt students from China petitioned the Chinese government in 1920 for a donation to begin fundraising for the room’s development. The Chinese government pledged $5,000 in gold, but the eruption of The Chinese Civil War in China in 1927 put that donation on hold. Not to be dissuaded, the committee of students and Pittsburgh business owners canvassed neighborhoods of Chinese residents up and down the East Coast to solicit donations, eventually raising the initial $5,000 deposit.

Following 15 years of fundraising, the Chinese government in 1935 forwarded its contribution to Pittsburgh, and the room was dedicated four years later. It cost the equivalent of about $250,000 in today’s dollars, and is one of 29 Nationality and Heritage Rooms housed in the Cathedral of Learning. Each represents a different nation or heritage, all of which played a part in the historical development of this region.
A good bit of the history of the China Memorial Room---as it was then called---and its design is available in the October 6, 1939 Dedication Ceremony program, preserved in full by Documenting Pitt. Introducing several pages on the design and decor, the program writes "The design and decoration of this Room attempt to express something of China's 4,000 years of culture and wisdom." It concludes:
The China Memorial Room has been designed, decorated, and furnished with the hope that it will give the people of Chinese descent in Pittsburgh a just reason for pride in their ancestral heritage. At the same time the Committee believes that the Room will command the respect and admiration of all other people in America.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Taikoza to perform at Clarion University Venango College, Penn State Dubois and Fayette campuses, Spring 2015.

The touring Japanese drumming ensemble Taikoza will make several stops in Pennsylvania in 2015: Oil City, Dubois, and Uniontown on this half of the state. From Taikoza's self-introduction:
Taikoza uses the powerful rhythms of the Taiko drums to create an electrifying energy that carries audiences in a new dimension of excitement. The Taiko is a large, barrel-like drum that can fill the air with the sounds of rolling thunder. Roughly translated, Taiko means big drums-and that’s exactly what Taikoza brings. Big Drums, powerful rhythms, and electrifying, room-thumping energy. This exciting group draws from Japan’s rich tradition of music and performance to create a highly visual performance. Drawing from Japan's rich tradition of music and performance, Taikoza has created a new sound using a variety of traditional instruments. In addition to drums of assorted sizes, Taikoza incorporates the shakuhachi, the fue (both bamboo flutes) and the Koto (a 13 string instrument).
The Penn State Dubois show is scheduled for Wednesday, March 25, and the Clarion University Venango College show for April 3. Both towns are roughly two hours northwest of Pittsburgh. The Penn State Fayette campus show, in Uniontown, is scheduled for April 7 at 11 am.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Pitt-Bradford has had "very positive" experience with Confucius Institute.

One of the University of Pittsburgh's branch campuses reaffirmed its satisfaction with the Confucius Institute on Friday after the PRC-sponsored language and culture academies were again the subject of scrutiny and criticism by American lawmakers and academics.
Pitt-Bradford President Livingston Alexander issued a statement to The Era Friday, relating that several years ago, the university worked with an agency in the Chinese government to first establish a Confucius Institute program on the Pittsburgh campus and then facilitate the creation of additional programs on other campuses, including the one in Bradford.

“We were invited to establish an Institute at Pitt-Bradford and enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to familiarize our students and the local community with Chinese language and culture,” Alexander said. “We’ve operated our program for three years and both students and faculty find the Institute beneficial and instructive.

“Each of the Chinese instructors assigned to our campus have been knowledgeable, warm and engaging. Our friends in the community who participate in activities sponsored by the Institute instructors speak very favorably about their experience,” Alexander added. “I’m certainly mindful of the criticisms made about the Confucius Institute programs; however, our experience with the Institute thus far has been very positive.”
The University of Pittsburgh's Confucius Institute was named one of the 2013 Confucius Institutes of the Year last December.

NAAAP Pgh End of the Year Party, December 11.

The Pittsburgh chapter of the National Association of Asian American Professionals [NAAAP] will hold its End of the Year Party on Thursday, December 11, in Market Square.
Join NAAAP PGH for our last event of the year! We will be meeting at NoLa on the Square in Market Square at 7:00pm for dinner, and then ice skating at the rink at PPG Place (see prices for skate rental and admission to the rink below. Super affordable). We hope that you have been able to make it to some of our past events this year. We had a blast hosting them, and we look forward to an even more exciting and eventful 2015!
The event begins at 7:00 pm.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Korean film Oldboy (올드보이) coming to Row House Cinema, December 26 - January 1.



Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville will show the 2003 Korean film Oldboy (올드보이) from December 26 through January 1. 올드보이, the 21st-century classic not to be confused with the 2013 Spike Lee remake, is summarized in a 2005 Roger Ebert review:
A man gets violently drunk and is chained to the wall in a police station. His friend comes and bails him out. While the friend is making a telephone call, the man disappears from an empty city street in the middle of the night. The man regains consciousness in what looks like a shabby hotel room. A bed, a desk, a TV, a bathroom cubicle. There is a steel door with a slot near the floor for his food tray. Occasionally a little tune plays, the room fills with gas, and when he regains consciousness the room has been cleaned, his clothes have been changed, and he has received a haircut.

This routine continues for 15 years. He is never told who has imprisoned him, or why. He watches TV until it becomes his world. He fills one journal after another with his writings. He pounds the wall until his fists grow bloody, and then hardened. He screams. He learns from TV that his blood and fingerprints were found at the scene of his wife's murder. That their daughter has been adopted in Sweden. That if he were to escape, he would be a wanted man.
. . .
When he suddenly finds himself freed from his bizarre captivity 15 years later, he is a different person, focused on revenge, ridiculously responsive to kindness. Wandering into a restaurant, he meets a young woman who, he knows from the TV, is Korea's "Chef of the Year." This is Mido. Sensing that he has suffered, feeling an instinctive sympathy, she takes him home with her, hears his story, cares for him, comes to love him. Meanwhile, he sets out on a methodical search to find the secret of his captivity. He was fed pot stickers, day after day, until their taste is burned into his memory, and he travels the city's restaurants until he finds the one that supplied his meals. That is the key to tracking down his captors.
Showtimes are available online. The theater is located at 4115 Butler St. (map).

Monday, December 1, 2014

Devils on the Doorstep (鬼子来了) at Row House Cinema, December 5 - 11.



The 2000 Chinese movie Devils on the Doorstep (鬼子来了) will play at the Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville (map) from December 5 through 11 as part of the WWII International Reflections series. The theater summarizes the film:
A Chinese villager is forced to take two Japanese Army prisoners into custody. This black comedy won of the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2000.
The movie played at the Three Rivers Film Festival in 2002. Showtimes for it and the other four films in the series are available on the theater's website.

Colloquium "The Everyday without Depth: Hong Sang-soo and a Cinema of Paradox" at Pitt, December 5.

The Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh will present a colloquium with Seung-Hwan Shin, "The Everyday without Depth: Hong Sang-soo and a Cinema of Paradox", on December 5. The abstract:
Hong's arrival in the mid-1990s marks a new phase in the development of Korean cinema in the post-democratization era. He responded to the post-epic condition by rediscovering everyday life (its contingency and disjontedness) via a minimalist gaze. Yet instead of putting his films under such blanket terms as postmodernism or deconstruction, I read them as hinging upon the urge to scrutinize and embrace life without "good sense". Notably, his cinema is marked by the lack of center and depth to build our perception on it; depth gives way to service where events prove to be governed by paradoxes instead of good senses that oblige us to pick one direction over the other. We thus recurrently witness in his films such motifs as drifting, idling, waiting, drinking, chatting, doubting, hesitating, wavering, forgetting, etc. Notable in this regard is Hong's peculiar sense of humor, which I attributed to his effort to make sense of life without good sense, viz., the everyday that continues without an ultimate solution to its paradoxes. It is also intriguing to note how his minimalism shows a viable way of independent cinema between maximalism (e.g., big-budget films) and protectionism (e.g., publicly funded films).
Dr. Shin is a part-time instructor of Korean and East Asian Cinema, and earned his Ph.D. from Pitt in April. The talk will take place in 4130 Posvar Hall (campus map) from 12:00 pm.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Kung Fu Fest at Row House Cinema starts tomorrow.




Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville will present Kung Fu Fest from tomorrow through December 4.
Watching old Kung Fu films is both an honest & fantastical experience. The action is the focus... sure sure, but there are no explosions nor fancy gadgetry, just extremely athletic, hand to hand combat.
The films to be presented are: Enter the Dragon (龍爭虎鬥); Fists of Fury (精武門); Master of the Flying Guillotine (獨臂拳王大破血滴子); Once Upon a Time in China (黃飛鴻); and Drunken Master (醉拳). A schedule is available on the theater's website and in .pdf form. Movies will be shown in their original languages, with English subtitles. The theater is located at 4115 Butler St. (map).

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫の物語) and From Up on Poppy Hill (コクリコ坂から) at Row House Cinema, December 12 - 18.



Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville will present the GKIDS Animation Festival from December 12 through 18, including two animated films from Japan and Studio Ghibli: 2013's The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫の物語) in its Pittsburgh debut and 2011's From Up On Poppy Hill (コクリコ坂から).

A.V. Club provides a summary of The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫の物語):
A humble bamboo cutter named Okina (translation: “old man”) happens upon a glowing stalk in the grove near his house. When he investigates, the shimmering tree blossoms reveal a baby nested inside. Believing this discovery to be a gift from the heavens, Okina brings her home to his wife Ouna (“old woman”), with whom he begins to raise the child as their own. Dubbing her “Princess” Kaguya, Ouna and Okina marvel at how rapidly the girl begins to grow, racing from infancy to pre-adolescence in a matter of days.

While Kaguya busies herself with a normal childhood, making friends with the local kids and bonding with an older boy named Sutemaru, her adopted father becomes distracted by Kaguya’s value to him—the bamboo shoot from which she was born begins producing gold. As Kaguya transforms into a teenager, Okina relocates their family to the capital city, where the girl receives lessons on how to be a proper woman, and is celebrated as a rare beauty. When five aggressive suitors come calling—followed by the emperor himself—Kaguya begins to feel trapped, things falling apart as she imagines a different life for herself.
It goes on to say the film has "some of the most beautifully expressive animation that Ghibli (or anyone else) has ever produced".

Wikipedia provides a brief summary of the latter:
Set in 1963 Yokohama, Japan, the film tells the story of Umi Matsuzaki, a high school girl living in a boarding house, Coquelicot Manor. When Umi meets Shun Kazama, a member of the school's newspaper club, they decide to clean up the school's clubhouse, Quartier Latin. However, Tokumaru, the chairman of the local high school and a businessman, intends to demolish the building for redevelopment and Umi and Shun, along with Shirō Mizunuma, must persuade him to reconsider.
And the Pittsburgh City-Paper adds, in a review of the film when it was last here in 2013:
The film's small story is set against a larger cultural one, as Japan transitions from the sorrows and hardships of the last generation's wars to being a modern world power. Nearly every scene contains visual cues that show Japan's mish-mash of old and new, while the story illustrates this new generation, caught between the nostalgic pull of the past and the responsibility of leading this new Japan.
Showtimes will be released shortly. The theater is located at 4115 Butler St. (map).

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New "Asian Noodle Bar" coming to Oakland.



Signage went up today for Asian Noodle Bar at 3531 Forbes Ave. (map), in a storefront that was most recently the Pittsburgh Pretzel Sandwich Shop.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Nak Won Garden Korean Restaurant (낙원가든) opens in Shadyside.



PG Plate wrote on the 10th about a new Korean restaurant that opened in Shadyside on the 14th. Nak Won Garden Korean Restaurant (낙원가든) is located at 5504 Centre Ave. (map), next to Market District. PG Plate has scanned and posted the menu, which includes most of the standard appetizers, dishes, and soups.

WholeChi (豪吃匹兹堡) delivery service.

Flyers recently went up around Oakland for WholeChi (豪吃匹兹堡), which offers a delivery service from local Asian markets to customers' homes in parts of the Oakland, Squirrel Hill, Shadyside, Greenfield, and Uptown neighborhoods. It's run by the group behind WholeRen, a locally-based Chinese education consulting and placement firm.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Shim Eun-kyung chose "한국 사람이 없는 피츠버그".


Korean actress Shim Eun-kyung might be best known to readers in Pittsburgh for starring in the 2011 film Sunny, which was part of the 2012 Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival.

A story from four-and-a-half years ago, but worth sharing: Korean actress Shim Eun-kyung chose Pittsburgh as a study abroad location back in 2010 because there are few Koreans here. From the Chosun Ilbo:
영화 '반가운 살인자' 배급사 롯데엔테테인먼트 측은 "심은경이 오는 9월 미국 피츠버그로 유학을 떠난다"며 "심은경은 어린 시절부터 연기를 시작해 지친 심신을 위로하고 연기자로서의 삶과 대학생활 중 어떤 것을 선택할 것인지 본격적으로 고민하기 위해 일부러 한국 사람이 없는 피츠버그 유학을 결심했다"고 전했다.
Unlike most interested in studying abroad, Shim---who by the age of 16 had been in several successful TV shows and movies---sought refuge from years of media attention in order to focus on her studies. A location with few Koreans, though, is a selling point for some programs, and to those students who might wish to avoid certain crutches.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thai Loy Krathong Festival at Pitt, November 24.



The Office of International Services at the University of Pittsburgh and the Thai Student Association will present a Thai Loy Krathong Festival on November 24. "Loi Krathong takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar", says Wikipedia.
The name could be translated as "to float a basket", and comes from the tradition of making krathong or buoyant, decorated baskets, which are then floated on a river.
The free festival runs from 11:00 to 1:00 pm in room 310 of the William Pitt Union (campus map).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chinese short "Carry On" part of Competitive Shorts Program at 3RFF, November 21 and 22.



The 2014 Chinese short film "Carry On" will play in the Competitive Shorts Program on November 20 and 21 as part of the Three Rivers Film Festival. Director Yatao Li provides a summary of the 17-minute film, which served as his thesis project for his MFA in Film and Animation at Rochester Institute of Technology:
Carry On tells a story set in Japan-occupied China during World War II. In 1944, the tide turned against Japan and the war began winding down. Prior to their retreat, Japanese troops looted every Chinese village in their path. They took only food and women from these villages followed by massacring all others and burning everything to the ground. To save his daughter, a Chinese father in my film stuffs her into a large bag disguised as food. As he loads the bag onto the back of a truck along with other bags with food, a Japanese army officer spots his secret. But, surprisingly, moved by the Chinese father's love and courage the officer plays along and lets the daughter go.
The Competitive Shorts Program plays at the Melwood Screening Room (map) on Friday, November 21 at 7:30 pm and on Saturday the 22nd at 1:30. Tickets for each are $9.

"Chinese Time" for children at Carnegie Library in Oakland, November 20.

Since October the Carnegie Library in Oakland has been holding "Chinese Time" for children on Thursday evenings.
Experience Chinese language and culture through books, storytelling, songs, games and more!
The next meeting is November 20 from 6:30 to 7:00 pm, and it will continue on Thursday evenings through December 18. The event takes place in the children's library, to the right of the main entrance.

Kung Fu Fest at Row House Cinema, November 28 - December 4.




Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville will present Kung Fu Fest from November 28 through December 4.
Watching old Kung Fu films is both an honest & fantastical experience. The action is the focus... sure sure, but there are no explosions nor fancy gadgetry, just extremely athletic, hand to hand combat.
The films to be presented are: Enter the Dragon (龍爭虎鬥); Fists of Fury (精武門); Master of the Flying Guillotine (獨臂拳王大破血滴子); Once Upon a Time in China (黃飛鴻); and Drunken Master (醉拳). A schedule is available on the theater's website and in .pdf form. Movies will be shown in their original languages, with English subtitles. The theater is located at 4115 Butler St. (map).

Peking Acrobats coming to Pittsburgh in April.



Tickets went on sale earlier this month for the Peking Acrobats at the Byham Theater on April 2, 2015. Prices run from $15 to $35.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Dynamic Supports Association for Chinese Students (匹兹堡大学首个华人心理社团): A Lecture and Discussion" at Pitt, November 21.

The Dynamic Supports Association for Chinese Students at the University of Pittsburgh (匹兹堡大学首个华人心理社团) will present "A Lecture and Discussion" at Pitt on Friday, November 21, as part of the campus's International Week.
A Global Classroom event that focuses on introducing Chinese thinkers and their critical thinking of the world. The event will begin with a lecture followed by a group discussions. Snacks and drinks will be provided.
The group "provid[es] psychological support. Our goal is to serve as a platform for international students to share their difficulties and seek for solutions."

The event will take place in English and will be held in room 527 of the William Pitt Union (campus map) from 2:00 pm.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

15% off Jeff Guererro Ceramics items in November.



Jeff Guererro Ceramics is offering a 15% discount on his Asian-inspired pottery in November for those who use the coupon code FACEBOOK on his Etsy site. A bit about the artist, from his official site:
I began making pottery in the fall of 2007 when I was hired to teach digital arts at a non-profit arts center in Pittsburgh, PA. I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside some great artists and learn from a variety of master potters. Early in my ceramics journey I spent a month in close contact with a 14th generation Japanese living national treasure who specialized in tea ware.

As a result, I’m highly influenced by Japanese pottery, and I am a student of chado (Japanese tea ceremony). I also enjoy creating a variety of utilitarian forms and I occasionally create very commercial-oriented pieces that incorporate ceramic decals.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (夢と狂気の王国) at Harris Theater, November 16; in Oakland, November 18.



The 2014 documentary on Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (夢と狂気の王国), will play at the Harris Theater on November 16 and at the Melwood Screening Room on November 18, as part of the 2014 Three Rivers Film Festival. The festival's website summarizes:
Go inside Studio Ghibli, the renowned Japanese animation studio that created such beloved classics as “Spirited Away,” “My Neighbor Totoro,” and “Princess Mononoke,” with this fascinating new documentary. The film, fresh off the screens in Toronto, offers unprecedented access to the work of producer Toshio Suzuki and world-renowned filmmakers Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, and establishes the studio as an enchanted workshop. Talking, drawing, musing – to watch these artists in conversation with their teams is to begin to understand the success of Studio Ghibli.
The Harris Theater showing is at 2:00 pm (tickets), and the Melwood Screening Room showing on the 18th (tickets) starts at 7:30. Tickets for both are $9.

Golden Dragon Acrobats performance at Pitt on 11/14 cancelled.

The Chinese American Student Association at the University of Pittsburgh informs us that the Golden Dragon Acrobats performance scheduled for November 14 has been cancelled. The nearest the troupe will come to the city is Grove City College on November 20.

Golden Dragon Acrobats at Grove City College, November 20.

The Golden Dragon Acrobats will be at Grove City College on November 20.
The Golden Dragon Acrobats represent the best of a time honored tradition that began more than twenty-five centuries ago. The Golden Dragons are recognized throughout the United States and abroad as the premiere Chinese acrobatic touring company of today.

The reputation of the company is solidly rooted in a commitment to the highest of production values and an attention to artistic details that is unparalleled in the art form. World renowned impresario Danny Chang and choreographer Angela Chang combine award-winning acrobatics, traditional dance, spectacular costumes, ancient and contemporary music and theatrical techniques to present a show of breathtaking skill and spellbinding beauty.
The show starts at 7:30 pm in Ketler Auditorium of the Pew Fine Arts Center (map). General admission tickets are $15, while tickets for children and current Grove City College students are $5. Grove City College is located in Mercer County, roughly 60 miles north of Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Taiwanese-French movie Stray Dogs (郊遊) at Harris Theater on November 14, Melwood Screening Room on November 19.



The Taiwanese-French drama Stray Dogs (郊遊) will play at the Harris Theater on November 14 as part of the 2014 Three Rivers Film Festival, and at the Melwood Screening Room on November 19. The festival's website summarizes the 2013 film:
A father and his two children live in the margins of modern day Taipei. By day he scrapes out a meager income as a human billboard for luxury apartments, while his young son and daughter roam the supermarkets and malls surviving off free food samples. Each night the family takes shelter in an abandoned building. One day the family is joined by a mysterious woman. Might she be the key to unlocking the past? This existentialist study of human endurance won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2013 Venice Film Festival.
The Harris Theater (map) show starts at 4:30 pm on the 14th (tickets), and the Melwood Screening Room (map) show at 7:30 pm (tickets). Tickets are $9.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Japanese film R100 at Waterworks Cinemas on November 13.



The Japanese movie R100 will play at Waterworks Cinemas on November 13, part of this year's Three Rivers Film Festival. The festival's website summarizes the 2013 film:
A fixture in film and comedy in his native country, director Hitoshi Matsumoto is raising underground cinema to an impressive level. This midnight film is about a frustrated, mild-mannered salesman with a secret. He spends his days at his meaningless office job, at night he cares for his young son and comatose wife. When he enters an unbreakable contract with an S&M club, his routine is upended and his life turns increasingly outrageous. This surreal sex dramedy includes detours into genre parody, dreamlike imagery, even a meta-themed subplot in which a censorship committee attempts to classify the movie itself.
The movie starts at 9:00 pm, and tickets are $9 for general admission and $5 for children 12 and under. The Waterworks Cinema multiplex is part of the Waterworks Mall near Fox Chapel, across the Allegheny River from Highland Park (map).

Kano: Soul of Baseball at Taiwanese Film Festival at CMU, November 13.



The Taiwanese Film Festival at Carnegie Mellon University, which will begin on November 12th, will finish on the 13th with Kano: Soul of Baseball and a discussion with its director Umin Boya. The Taiwanese Scholar Society summarizes the 2014 film:
This movie based on an inspiring Taiwanese history in 1931 when Taiwan was ruled by Japan. A high school in southern Taiwan overcame all the odds and obstacles to form a baseball team. The team presented Taiwan to compete at Japanese High School Baseball Championship at Koshien Stadium. The underdog team advanced to the championship game in the tournament beyond all expectation.
The movie starts at 6:00 pm and is in University Center McConomy Auditorium from 6 (campus map). Tickets are $10 and may be purchased in advance online with Paypal. To purchase tickets or to read more about the film festival, visit the event's website.

"The Politics of Migration Control in Asia" lecture at Pitt, November 14.

The University of Pittsburgh's Asian Studies Center will host Dr. Erin Chung of Johns Hopkins University and her lecture "The Politics of Migration Control in Asia" on November 14.
[I]n South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, where immigration is tightly controlled and integration programs are at their infancy, the catchword, “multiculturalism,” has gained popularity among policymakers and the public alike. This paper argues that the variants of multiculturalism developing in the three countries represent each society’s attempt to improve upon what policymakers view as the failures of multiculturalism—and, more broadly, diversity—in traditional countries of immigration. Multicultural discourse and programs ostensibly attempt to promote greater diversity and openness in South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan; yet, they are more notable for the ways in which specific categories of foreigners are included and excluded. Whereas “multicultural society” in Korea signifies a broadened definition of Korean national identity to include specific categories of “overseas Koreans” and foreign spouses, “multicultural coexistence” in Japan has further narrowed conceptions of Japanese national identity to exclude ethnic Japanese (Nikkei) foreigners. The arrival of new immigrants to Taiwan has shaped a type of hierarchical “multiculturalism” with native ethnic groups at the top, non-Chinese migrants in the middle, and mainland Chinese marriage migrants at the bottom. Using interview and focus group data of the major foreign communities in each country, I analyze how government officials, the media, pro-immigrant advocacy groups, and immigrants themselves define and negotiate these frameworks.
The lecture begins at 3:00 pm in 4130 Posvar Hall (campus map), and is free and open to the public.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Winds of September (九降風) and Monga (艋舺) at Taiwanese film festival at CMU, November 12.



Carnegie Mellon University will host a Taiwanese Film Festival on November 12 and 13, presented by the Taiwanese Scholars Society, with the movies Winds of September (九降風) and Monga (艋舺) on the first day. Tickets for these two movies are $5 a piece, and comprise the "Taiwan Classical Movies" set on the 12th. LoveHKFilm.com summarizes Winds of September:
Tang is one of seven friends of varying high school years. Collectively, the group is known as a bunch of troublemakers, though some of the gang are worse than others. The charismatic assumed leader is Yen , a handsome playboy whose prim girlfriend Yun has to put up with incessant stories of his infidelity. The problem reaches a tipping point when Yen sleeps with another girl and her angry boyfriend comes calling. Tang is mistaken for Yen and assaulted in his place, and the incident ultimately drives a minor wedge in the group. The situation is exacerbated by the other boys' individual conflicts and issues, and Yen and Tang nearly have a falling out. The two do seem to patch things up, but the cracks in the group's camaraderie begin to worsen. Some boys are pressured to drop the group, while others continue to misbehave, ignoring the damage it may have on their future. Ultimately, the boys' aimlessness results in a tragedy that further drives them apart, revealing the anger, cowardice, fear, jealousy, and helplessness that lives within them.
A South China Morning Post review says of Monga:
Set in Taipei’s once notorious Monga (known officially as Wanhua) neighbourhood in 1986-87, the narrative is part history lesson and part mob tale, but primarily an exploration of the ties that bind a group of sworn brothers.
The movies will be shown in Doherty Hall 2210 from 6:00 pm. Tickets may be purchased in advance online with Paypal; to purchase tickets or to read more about the film festival, visit the event's website.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Pirates are scouting Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang.



The Pittsburgh Pirates are among the teams scouting Nexen shortstop Jung-ho Kang (강정호), who is expected to enter the Major Leagues next year. Star News spotted a Pirates' scout at Mokdong Stadium on the 7th for Game 3 of the Korean Series, the Korean Baseball Organization's championship round.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Welcome to the Space Show (宇宙ショーへようこそ) at Waterworks Cinema, November 9; in Oakland on November 13.



The Japanese animated movie Welcome to the Space Show (宇宙ショーへようこそ) will play at Waterworks Cinema on November 9 as part of the 2014 Three Rivers Film Festival, and at the Melwood Screening Room on November 13. The festival's website summarizes the 2010 film:
This sci-fi anime begins when a group of youngsters find an injured dog in the woods. But they discover he's not a dog at all, but Pochi, an alien botanist sent to Earth to track down a rare plant. Before long Pochi has whisked the kids away to a space colony on the dark side of the moon, an interstellar gathering place of humorous alien creatures, jellyfish spaceships, dragon trains, and – if that weren’t enough – a theme song from UK pop star Susan Boyle. This family film is suited for ages 7 and up. Dubbed in English.
The Waterworks Cinema (map) show starts at 1:30 (tickets), and the Melwood Screening Room (map) show at 9:00 pm (tickets). Tickets are $9 for general admission and $5 for children 12 and under.

Japanese film Why Don't You Play in Hell? (地獄でなぜ悪い) at Hollywood Theater in Dormont, November 13 - 16.



The Hollywood Theater in Dormont will show the Japanese film Why Don't You Play in Hell? (地獄でなぜ悪い) from November 13 through 16. A summary, from The Japan Society:
A tribute to old-school yakuza cinema and shoe-string amateur filmmaking based on a screenplay Sion Sono wrote 17 years ago. The Fuck Bombers, a group of film geeks led by Hirata (Hiroki Hasegawa), try to turn brawler Sasaki (Tak Sakaguchi) into their new Bruce Lee but are nowhere near making their action masterpiece. An ambush set up by a yakuza clan comes to a gory end in the home of boss Muto (Jun Kunimura) with only one man, Ikegami (Shinichi Tsutsumi), surviving. When Mitsuko, the Mutos' young daughter, makes an unexpected entrance, Ikegami is instantly smitten. Ten years later, she has become one sultry mean mess of a girl (Fumi Nikaido). Determined to make Mitsuko a star, her father gives Hirata a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make his movie, with the yakuza as film production crew and the Bombers joining the "real" action--the ultimate sword battle between the Muto and Ikegami clans.
Tickets are $8 for general admission and $6 for students and seniors, and are available online by clicking on the movie calendar on the theater's site. The theater is located at 1449 Potomac Ave. in Dormont, and is accessible by Pittsburgh's subway/LRT at a block south of Potomac Station. The movie was first in Pittsburgh last spring as part of the 2014 Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival.

Korean Culture Association at Pitt's annual Night Market, November 7.



The Korean Culture Association at the University of Pittsburgh will hold its annual Pojang Macha Night Market tomorrow, November 7, in the William Pitt Ballroom.
Come out to get an authentic experience of what food you would encounter on the modern streets of seoul at night! It will be a time filled with free food and fun people!
Pojang macha (포장마차) are tented street food vendors that are a ubiquitous part of Korean nightlife.

Spring Roll Workshop at Pitt, November 7.

The Vietnamese Student Association at the University of Pittsburgh will host a Spring Roll Workshop on Friday, November 7, at 3:00 pm in room 630 of the William Pitt Union.

Spring rolls are a famous national appetizer made of rice vermicelli, mint leaves, sliced cucumbers, and shrimp/pork/tofu, all rolled up in a rice paper wrapper. It is enjoyed with a sweet and salty hoisin sauce. We'll have all these ingredients for everyone to enjoy for this workshop!

So come out to our event and we'll teach you how to make these delicious spring rolls to eat (for free)!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Shinil Kim named University of Pittsburgh Legacy Laureate.


The 2014 honorees; Kim is third from right.

Former South Korean Minister of Education and longtime professor at Seoul National University Shinil Kim was named a Legacy Laureate by the University of Pittsburgh last month. Kim was one of ten alumni honored at a ceremony during Homecoming Week in October. He earned a Ph.D. from Pitt in 1978, writing his dissertation on "A Cross-National Analysis of the Determinants of Public Efforts in Education", and received a University of Pittsburgh 225th Anniversary Medallion in 2013 as a distinguished alumnus. On October 21, he presented an overview of education in South Korea at a Department of Education colloquium.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

"Hawker Stand" temporary restaurant coming to Oakland, bringing Southeast Asian street food.

Spice Island Tea House will be taking a brief hiatus, says its Facebook page, and will be replaced by "Hawker Stand,"
a temporary restaurant featuring classic street foods of South East Asia.

We will serve tasty snacks and curries popularized by Asian food stalls, some of which you may recognize from the original Spice Island Tea House menu. We will post a working menu up as soon as possible. The menu will be posted on www.facebook.com/hawkerstand.

Spice Island Tea House will return in late 2014 or early 2015.

After nearly 20 years, 6 days a week, we think that Spice Island Tea House deserves an extended vacation. But we are excited about exploring this new territory, and hope that you will be too.
The spot is located at 253 Atwood Street in Oakland (map).

Monday, November 3, 2014

"Huun Huur Tu and Alash–A Festival of Khoomei (Tuvan Throat Singing)" in Oakland, November 8.


via Facebook.

Pittsburgh will host two Tuvan throat singing performing groups on Saturday, November 8. The groups, Huun Huur Tu and Alash, will perform at Synod Hall on N. Craig St. in Oakland. The event is free for Pitt undergraduates who register through the PITTArts website, and $30 for the general public ($25 in advance). Doors open at 7:00 pm. For profiles of the two groups, and for ticket information, visit the Calliope website.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し) at Waterworks Cinemas, November 8.



The Japanese animated film Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し) will play at Waterworks Cinema on November 8, the first full day of the Three Rivers Film Festival. A brief summary of the Hayao Miyazaki / Studio Ghibli classic from a 2002 A.V. Club review:
Spirited Away centers on Chihiro, a sullen, fearful Japanese girl whose parents are moving so far out into the country that they predict they'll have to drive to the next town just to shop. While traveling to their new home, they discover an abandoned, disintegrating theme park, which they cheerfully explore in spite of Chihiro's shrill protests. Suddenly, a boy approaches her and commands her to leave before nightfall. But before she can gather her wayward parents and escape, night does fall, in a breathtakingly eerie sequence that almost subsumes Chihiro's danger with its technical achievement. Chihiro is trapped in the spirit world, and in order to save herself, her parents, and eventually her new friend, she has to come to terms with herself and her unwitting captors. Gradually, in a series of almost episodic adventures, she learns to be brave and face up to her responsibilities to herself and the people she loves.
Wikipedia sums up its reception:
When released, Spirited Away became the most successful film in Japanese history, grossing over $274 million worldwide. The film overtook Titanic (at the time the top grossing film worldwide) in the Japanese box office to become the highest-grossing film in Japanese history with a $229,607,878 total. Acclaimed by international critics, the film is often considered one of the greatest animated films of all-time [and it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards, the Golden Bear at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival (tied with Bloody Sunday) and is among the top ten in the BFI list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14.
Spirited Away is one of four Japanese movies part of this year's festival, and will also play on November 15 at the Regent Square Theater.

The November 8th show starts at 1:30 pm, and tickets are $9 for general admission and $5 for children 12 and under. The Waterworks Cinema multiplex is part of the Waterworks Mall near Fox Chapel, across the Allegheny River from Highland Park (map).

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Tickets still available for Royal Ballet of Cambodia in Pittsburgh, November 7.


A 2010 performance in Paris, by Jean-Pierre Dalbera (Creative Commons).

Tickets are still available for the November 7 performance of the Royal Ballet of Cambodia at the Byham Theater. It is considered an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO, and is described thus:
Renowned for its graceful hand gestures and stunning costumes, the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, also known as Khmer Classical Dance, has been closely associated with the Khmer court for over one thousand years. Performances would traditionally accompany royal ceremonies and observances such as coronations, marriages, funerals or Khmer holidays. This art form, which narrowly escaped annihilation in the 1970s, is cherished by many Cambodians.

Infused with a sacred and symbolic role, the dance embodies the traditional values of refinement, respect and spirituality. Its repertory perpetuates the legends associated with the origins of the Khmer people. Consequently, Cambodians have long esteemed this tradition as the emblem of Khmer culture. Four distinct character types exist in the classical repertory: Neang the woman, Neayrong the man, Yeak the giant, and Sva the monkey. Each possesses distinctive colours, costumes, makeup and masks.The gestures and poses, mastered by the dancers only after years of intensive training, evoke the gamut of human emotions, from fear and rage to love and joy. An orchestra accompanies the dance, and a female chorus provides a running commentary on the plot, highlighting the emotions mimed by the dancers, who were considered the kings’ messengers to the gods and to the ancestors.
The Friday night show begins at 8:00 pm, and tickets range from $20 to $45. The Byham Theater is located at 101 6th Street, in the Cultural District downtown (map).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jin Shan at Carnegie Mellon University School of Art, November 4.

Carnegie Mellon University's School of Art will host Chinese artist Jin Shan on November 4 as part of its Fall 2014 Art Lecture Series. The school, via Brown University, offers a profile:
A leading voice in an emerging generation of socially engaged contemporary artists in China, Shanghai-based Jin Shan is an agent provocateur. Preferring wit and satire to aggression and conflict, his work uses humor and play to draw audiences into a confrontation with the social, cultural and political problems of the modern world. While specifically describing elements of contemporary China, his investigation of human motivation extends beyond national boundaries to the seemingly insatiable desire for power programmed into humanity’s DNA.
The lecture starts at 5:00 pm in Kresge Theater (map), and is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Taiwanese Film Festival 2014 at CMU, November 12 and 13.



Carnegie Mellon University will host a Taiwanese Film Festival on November 12 and 13, presented by the Taiwanese Scholars Society and featuring the movies Winds of September (九降風), Monga (艋舺), and Kano: Soul of Baseball. Tickets for Winds of September and Monga are $5 a piece, and comprise the "Taiwan Classical Movies" set on the 12th. LoveHKFilm.com summarizes Winds of September:
Tang is one of seven friends of varying high school years. Collectively, the group is known as a bunch of troublemakers, though some of the gang are worse than others. The charismatic assumed leader is Yen , a handsome playboy whose prim girlfriend Yun has to put up with incessant stories of his infidelity. The problem reaches a tipping point when Yen sleeps with another girl and her angry boyfriend comes calling. Tang is mistaken for Yen and assaulted in his place, and the incident ultimately drives a minor wedge in the group. The situation is exacerbated by the other boys' individual conflicts and issues, and Yen and Tang nearly have a falling out. The two do seem to patch things up, but the cracks in the group's camaraderie begin to worsen. Some boys are pressured to drop the group, while others continue to misbehave, ignoring the damage it may have on their future. Ultimately, the boys' aimlessness results in a tragedy that further drives them apart, revealing the anger, cowardice, fear, jealousy, and helplessness that lives within them.
A South China Morning Post review says of Monga:
Set in Taipei’s once notorious Monga (known officially as Wanhua) neighbourhood in 1986-87, the narrative is part history lesson and part mob tale, but primarily an exploration of the ties that bind a group of sworn brothers.
Tickets for Kano: Soul of Baseball are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. The screening of Kona on the 13th will be accompanied by director Umin Boya. The TSS summarizes the 2014 film:
This movie based on an inspiring Taiwanese history in 1931 when Taiwan was ruled by Japan. A high school in southern Taiwan overcame all the odds and obstacles to form a baseball team. The team presented Taiwan to compete at Japanese High School Baseball Championship at Koshien Stadium. The underdog team advanced to the championship game in the tournament beyond all expectation.
The movies on the 12th will be shown in Doherty Hall 2210 from 6:00 pm, and Kano in University Center McConomy Auditorium from 6 (campus map). Tickets may be purchased in advance online with Paypal; to purchase tickets or to read more about the film festival, visit the event's website.

Pittsburgh Sakura Project Fall Planting Day, November 8.


The Pittsburgh Sakura Project will hold its 5th annual Fall Planting Day on Saturday, November 8, at North Park. As the flyer says, the group plans to plant an additional 12 trees near the Boathouse (map) from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. Those interested in participating should RSVP by emailing PittsburghSakuraProject at gmail.com. Equipment will be provided, but work clothes and gloves are recommended.

The Pittsburgh Sakura Project has been planting cherry blossom trees, and other foliage, since 2009:
We plan to plant 250 ornamental cherry trees around the greater Pittsburgh region over a 10-year period, in honor of the 250th anniversary of the founding of Pittsburgh in 1758. Our aim is for lovers of cherry blossoms to enjoy beautiful, mature cherry trees in the Pittsburgh region. The PSP will enable visitors to Allegheny County parks to enjoy the unique scenery of Sakura and strengthen bonds within the local Japanese community by creating a focal point for cultural and personal exchange. By adding the new element of Sakura to existing park scenery, we create a new aesthetic while preserving the woodland scenery, an example of cultural harmony and environmental sustainability for future generations.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"Hidden History: Asians and Pacific Islanders and the Civil War" at IUP, November 3.



Indiana University of Pennsylvania will host author Ruthanne Lum McCunn and her lecture "Hidden History: Asians and Pacific Islanders and the Civil War” on November 3.
She will be talking about her research and writing on Asian American history and, in particular, her recent book Chinese Yankee, which deals with Thomas Sylvanus (Ah Yee Way), a Chinese-American Civil War veteran and Indiana County resident.
The lecture begins at 7:00 pm in room 201 Stapleton Library (map), and is free and open to the public. McCunn will also be giving a talk on this topic Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County on November 1 at 1:00 pm.

Monday, October 27, 2014

"The Memory Project and New Voices in Chinese Documentary" at Pitt, October 31 and November 1.

The University of Pittsburgh will host "The Memory Project and New Voices in Chinese Documentary" on October 31 and November 1. The Film Studies Program provides a summary of the touring documentary exhibition:
WU Wenguang, one of the founding figures in Chinese independent documentary, brings three young filmmakers from China to present their collective work, “the Memory Project.” The project is based at Coachangdi Workstation in Beijing. From there, young filmmakers fanned out to return to family villages and their own pasts, real and imagined, to inquire about The Great Famine of 1959-61 — a disaster of whose memories have been actively abandoned by the state. Aiming to create a “folk memory archive,” the project, which combines documentary films, oral history records, and live performances, presents an alternative narrative of Chinese history than the one written in official textbooks. As these young filmmakers search for the distant memory from an old generation that is still living in rural poverty, their encounter with the past reveals as much about the wish for memory as of memory itself and of the interesting role of film in such projects of retrieval.
The Department of English has a schedule for the two-day event. On October 31, two documentaries by Zhang Mengqi will be shown from 7:00 pm: Self-Portrait and Three Women and Self-Portrait: At 47 KM. On November 1, from 1:00 pm: Huamulin, Boy Xiaoqiang and Children's Village. A discussion with the filmmakers and with Pitt faculty members will begin at 4:10. All events will be held in 224 Langley Hall (map), and all are free and open to the public.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Korean Buddhist monk's tour stops in Pittsburgh, October 27.



The Buddhist monk Beop-ryun Sunim (법륜스님) is on another speaking tour of the world, and will be in Pittsburgh on October 27. The Korean-language talk begins at 7:00 pm in the Korean Community Church Rectory at 623 High Street in Sharpsburg (map).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hot pot place moving into to old Pizza Sola location in Oakland.



Temporary signage just went up at 114 Atwood Street (map) for TOP Shabu-Shabu & Lounge. Until July, the space was home to Pizza Sola.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Four Japanese movies, one Taiwanese, part of 2014 Three Rivers Film Festival in November.




The Three Rivers Film Festival, which runs in Pittsburgh from November 7 through November 22 at nine local theaters, announced its schedule of films today, a lineup that includes five Asian movies, four of which are Japanese: the Hiyao Miyazaki classic Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し); the animated Welcome to the Space Show (宇宙ショーへようこそ) ; the adult comedy R100; and a documentary on Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (夢と狂気の王国). The Taiwanese-French drama Stray Dogs (郊遊) is included among the roster of foreign-language movies .Schedules are currently available online, and there will be more detailed posts on the movies in the next two weeks.

Angry Asian Man blogger Phil Yu at Pitt, October 25.

The University of Pittsburgh's Asian Student Alliance will host Phil Yu, the blogger behind Angry Asian Man, on Saturday, October 25. A 2010 KoreAm profile described the site as
the whirling core of the networked Asian American community, the hyperconnected hub where tens of thousands of people dock each day—sometimes hourly—to find out what’s happening in the cultural, media and political landscape of the nation’s most dynamic emerging population.
The event starts at 7:00 pm and is held in the William Pitt Union Ballroom (campus map).

Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania Student Halloween Mixer and movie Dark Water (仄暗い水の底から), October 24.

The Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania is hosting a Student Halloween Mixer on Friday, October 24, at Point Park University. The event includes free candy, an introduction to local Japanese-related student groups, a presentation on yōkai, and a screening of the 2002 film Dark Water (仄暗い水の底から)).

The evening runs from 6:00 through 11:00 pm in Lawrence Hall's 2nd floor multipurpose room (map). More information is available on the event's Facebook page.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Documentary Last Days in Vietnam at Harris Theater, from October 24.



The 2014 documentary Last Days in Vietnam will play at the Harris Theater from October 24 through October 30. A synopsis, from the film's official site:
During the chaotic final days of the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese Army closes in on Saigon as South Vietnamese resistance crumbles. The United States has only a skeleton crew of diplomats and military operatives still in the country. As Communist victory becomes inevitable and the U.S. readies to withdraw, some Americans begin to consider the certain imprisonment and possible death of their South Vietnamese allies, co-workers, and friends. Meanwhile, the prospect of an official evacuation of South Vietnamese becomes terminally delayed by Congressional gridlock and the inexplicably optimistic U.S. Ambassador. With the clock ticking and the city under fire, a number of heroic Americans take matters into their own hands, engaging in unsanctioned and often makeshift operations in a desperate effort to save as many South Vietnamese lives as possible.
A September 4 New York Times review says of the documentary and its filmmaker, Rory Kennedy:
Perhaps the most striking thing about “Last Days in Vietnam,” Rory Kennedy’s eye-opening documentary about the 1975 evacuation of the American Embassy in Saigon, is how calmly it surveys what was once among the angriest topics in American political life. The story is full of emotion and danger, heroism and treachery, but it is told in a mood of rueful retrospect rather than simmering partisan rage.
Showtimes haven't yet been announced. The Harris Theater is located downtown at 809 Liberty Ave. in the Cultural District (map).