Saturday, December 28, 2013

Conflict Kitchen in the Korea Times.

Conflict Kitchen, located in Oakland (map) and "a restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict", is the subject of a lengthy profile in the Korea Times.
In an interview with The Korea Times at a coffee shop in Hongdae, Seoul, Weleski explained why North Korea was an obvious choice for Conflict Kitchen.

“Our only interest is for people to create a space for them to be curious and to develop their own opinions,” she said.

“Initially, the restaurant was conceived to be a North Korean and South Korean restaurant. We wanted to talk about the conflict between the two nations and also the relationship that the U.S. has with the conflict between the two nations ... (To prepare for the project), we shopped in the market with North Korean defectors and cooked with them.”
Earlier in the month Conflict Kitchen was profiled in the Korean-language 서울신문 (Seoul Shinmun). The restaurant is closed through January 5th.
In September there was a bit of a controversy ahead of the Rubber Duck's visit, when the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust stopped a local museum from profiting off t-shirts depicting the generic bath toy. That, um, flap was relatively minor compared to the hullabaloo in Keelung, Taiwan, where the Rubber Duck has caused a "commercial circus":
Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman was upset about the arrangement for his Rubber Duck installation on display in Keelung and criticized the organizers for turning it into a “commercial circus,” local media reported yesterday, citing a letter written by the artist.

A day earlier, Hofman canceled his trip to inaugurate the duck display in the northern city, expressing disappointment over how the sculpture is being portrayed in Taiwan.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Almost got it. Helly Kitty tree at Kranyak's in Hermitage, PA (map).

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Troy Hill house inspired by Naoshima's Art House Project. recently looked at La Hütte Royal (The Royal Hut) at 1812 Rialto St. (map) in Pittsburgh's Troy Hill neighborhood.
German artist Thorsten Brinkmann has transformed a dilapidated, abandoned family home – and a particularly unattractive take on the suburban vernacular style at that – in the Troy Hill area of Pittsburgh into a (still slightly dilapidated) permanent art work.

The house, built in 1912, was bought from the city by local art collector Evan Mirapaul in 2011. Inspired by the Art House Project on Naoshimi Island in Japan, where artists have had their creative way with abandoned houses, Mirapaul invited Hamburg-based Brinkmann to come and see the house and think about what he might do with it. Multiple long-hauls later and every room in the three-storey (four storeys if you include the basement where Brinkmann has installed a boxing ring) has been wildly re-imagined.
Visits to La Hütte Royal are arranged by appointment only; email for more information.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Former Pirates pitcher Masumi Kuwata on Japanese Hall of Fame ballot.

Via Kyodo Photo.

On November 30 the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame announced its ballot for the Class of 2014, and former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Masumi Kuwata (桑田真澄) made the list. Kuwata, the first Japanese player in Pirates history, pitched briefly for Pittsburgh in 2007 as a 39-year-old rookie. He accumulated 173 wins in Japan, 106 of which came before an elbow injury in 1995. Results of the Hall of Fame voting will be announced on January 17.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない) at Hollywood Theater in Dormont, January 18.

The Hollywood Theater in Dormont announced today a one-time showing of Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない on January 18. The movie was released in Japan in August 2013 and is based on an animated television series. Wikipedia summarizes the plot of the TV show:
A group of six childhood friends drift apart after one of them, Meiko "Menma" Honma, dies in an accident. Ten years after the incident, the leader of the group, Jinta Yadomi, has withdrawn from society and lives as a recluse. One summer day, the ghost of an older looking Menma appears before him and asks to have a wish granted, reasoning that she cannot pass on into the afterlife until it is fulfilled. Since Menma does not remember what her wish is, Jinta gathers his estranged friends together once again, believing that they are the key to resolving this problem. However, hidden feelings, internal conflicts, and lingering feelings of bitterness from Menma's parents result in complications for the group as they struggle to help not only Menma move on, but themselves as well.
Says the Anime News Network:
The original Spring 2011 television anime followed several childhood friends who try to reconnect in high school after drifting apart due to tragedy. The film will retell the anohana story from the character Menma's point of view.
The theater, like the others hosting the North American premiere, is participating in a giveaway:
Those who attend screenings will receive limited quantities of an exclusive "Letters from Menma" replica of letters the character "Menma" writes to her friends in the film. Attendees will receive real flower seeds with the replica letters.
The movie starts at 2 pm on the 18th and tickets are currently available online. The Hollywood Theater is located at 1449 Potomac Ave. in Dormont (map), south of Pittsburgh. And if you'd like to take the subway to the theater, it's a little more than a block southeast of Potomac Station.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas cakes at Paris Baguette.

Korean bakery chain Paris Baguette has a location in Pennsylvania---and a bunch more in New York City and New Jersey---and will be selling their Christmas cakes from December 19 through 25.

Paris Baguette Christmas PororoParis Baguette Christmas Fresh Cream CakeParis Baguette Mocha Christmas
A few varieties available on the East Coast: Pororo Chocolate Cake, Fresh Cream Chocolate Cake, and Mocha Cake.

Christmas cakes are a tradition in Korea, where chains like Paris Baguette, Baskin Robbins, Dunkin Donuts, and Tous Les Jours accompany relatively ornate cakes with celebrity endorsements and cutsey gifts each year.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Pirates lose Taiwanese pitcher in Rule 5 draft.

The Pittsburgh Pirates lost one of its two Taiwanese minor-league players to the Milwaukee Brewers on December 12 in the Rule 5 draft. Pitcher Wei-chung Wang was signed by Pittsburgh in 2011, was injured during the 2012 season, pitched at the Pirates' lowest level last year, and was selected by Milwaukee in "the day's most creative selection". The signing means Wang, 21, will have to pitch in the Major Leagues next season in order for the Brewers to keep him. Pirates Prospects has more on Wang and the day's other activities.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Build yourself a Himeji Castle.


A nanoblock Himeji Castle model, seen at the Waterworks Mall Barnes & Noble. It goes for around $160, and is described thus by its manufacturer:
With micro-sized building blocks, 3D buildings are constructed like never before! Watch in amazement as buildings are erected to even the tiniest detail.

Japan’s hilltop Himeji Castle is regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture. Watch as this gorgeous castle takes shape right beneath your fingertips with over 2200 assorted color and size pieces, perfect for any nanoblock enthusiasts. Finished size: 7.9” w x 7.9” d x 5.625”. Includes detailed instructions. Not designed for children under age 14.
Last April I found a discontinued Lego Sungnyemun kit at the Cranberry Barnes & Noble, though as I posted at the time, if you're into Korean architecture or models, Korean companies produce more, and better, sets.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Teumsae Shin ramyeon

This variety of Teumsae Ramyeon is three times as spicy as Shin Ramyeon, says an improvised in Many More Asian Market at 3050 Smallman St. It opened in October, and because of the prices, selection, and parking, it's my new go-to Asian grocery store in the area.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"A Window to Japanese Culture", T'ai Chi classes at Pitt's Lifelong Learning Institute this spring.

The University of Pittsburgh's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers non-credit classes for adults aged 50 and over, and this spring's course catalog includes "A Window to Japanese Culture" and three levels of T'ai Chi.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo (ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版:Q) at Dormont's Hollywood Theater, January 10 and 11.

Evangelion 3.0

On December 2, The Hollywood Theater in Dormont announced it will show Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo (ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版:Q) on January 10 and 11. It's the third installment of the Rebuild of Evangelion tetralogy, of which the eponymous EvaWiki has lengthy summaries.

The 2012 movie is being released in North America on January 10, and The Hollywood Theater will be the only one in the state showing it. Tickets are $10 and are available now online for both English-subtitled and English-dubbed shows:
- January 10, 7 pm (subtitled)
- January 10, 9 pm (dubbed)
- January 11, 7 pm (dubbed)
- January 11, 9 pm (subtitled)
The theater is located at 1449 Potomac Ave. in Dormont (map), south of Pittsburgh. And if you'd like to take the subway to the theater, it's a little more than a block southeast of Potomac Station.

Friday, December 6, 2013

"Pearl Harbor tarnishes American dream".

Harold Sasahara

Thirty-two years ago the Beaver County Times marked the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack by talking with Squirrel Hill resident Harold Sasahara about his and his family's journey from California to Japanese internment camp to Ohio and eventually to Pittsburgh.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Documentary Danny from North Korea at Duquesne University, December 7.

Students for Human Rights will present the Liberty in North Korea documentary Danny from North Korea at Duquesne University on Saturday, December 7. LiNK describes the subject of their film thus:
Every year thousands of North Koreans make the dangerous journey across the border to escape oppression and poverty.

In March of 2005, Danny was one of them. Danny crossed into China and escaped a life of indoctrination, routine public executions, and starvation. As Danny traveled, he saw a world he never knew existed. A world where movement was not monitored by the government, information was readily available, and most importantly at the time, there was enough food to fill his empty belly.
The film is free and starts at 7:00 pm in room 105 College Hall (map). Those not attending can watch it on the Liberty in North Korea website.

Yayoi Kusama is still here.

jazz hands
"Jazz hands" in Repetitive Vision in the Mattress Factory, via imagesystem (Creative Commons). Not what's on display in New York City, but the best image available on Flickr.

On December 1, the New York Times writes about visitors lining up for a new installation, Yayoi Kusama's "Mirrored Room", that opened in November at the David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea.
“Mirrored Room” offers a little something for everyone. It is a reflection on death and the afterlife. It is a planetarium contained in a room the size of a large walk-in closet. Cosmic and intimate at the same time, it merges inner and outer space, science and mysticism, the personal and the impersonal.
According to the gallery's website, "[o]n some days the wait is between 1 and 3 hours."

As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reminds us, though, locals can see a version of it at the Mattress Factory.
Fans of Ms. Kusama can have a similar experience with a lot less trouble at the Mattress Factory museum on the North Side, where two of the largest extant Kusama installations remain on long-term view from a 1996 retrospective, "Infinity Dots Mirrored Room" and "Repetitive Vision." Both have the repeating hall-of-mirrors quality, one bright, the other darkened, a contrast of exterior and interior in one visit. And "there's no time limit," said Alexis Tragos, museum director of development.
The museum is located at 500 Sampsonia Way on the Northside (map), and its webpage has more information on Kusama's permanent exhibitions.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Korean sandwich chain Sandpresso closes its Pittsburgh location.

Sandpresso announced today on its Facebook page that it closed its Pittsburgh location over the summer.
With great sadness, Sand Presso Coffee Shop closed on August 2, 2013. To all our customers we thank you for your business and support. It has been our honor & pleasure to serve you this past 2 years. We will miss you!
Sandpresso (샌드프레소) is a coffee and sandwich shop in South Korea common in and around the capital, and one of many that offers expensive-but-wimpy sandwiches there. It arrived in Pittsburgh in September 2011, the first and only Sandpresso in the country, and was the subject of one of this blog's first posts. It was located at 1125 Penn Ave., between the Strip District and downtown, and had some good reviews---"the best egg salad I've ever eaten in my life"---but ultimately couldn't survive with limited hours, an awkward location, and high rent.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fukuda's Toro Fest 2013, December 10 - 16.

Bloomfield's Fukuda restaurant is holding Toro Fest 2013, "Pittsburgh's First Annual Toro Fest", from December 10 through 16. A summary of events posted to their Facebook page and reiterated on the above flyer:
Whole Bluefin Tuna cutting demo, Bonsai creation demo, Japanese language and culture class, Sushi making sessions, and delectable fish will be flown in from all over the world with an exquisite menu never before seen in Pittsburgh during the festivities only at Fukuda.
The toro in this festival's name refers to specific part of a blue fin tuna, again depicted on the flyer. Fukuda is located at 4770 Liberty Ave. (map).

Pirates catching prospect Jhang named to Topps Short Season-A/Rookie All-Star Team.


Pittsburgh Pirates catching prospect Jin-de Jhang (張進德) was named to Topps Short Season-A/Rookie All-Star Team on Monday, writes. Jhang
hit .277 with five homers and 34 RBIs for the Jamestown Jammers. The catcher threw out 47% of base runners attempting to steal and had a .992 fielding percentage.
He was one of two Taiwanese players signed by Pittsburgh in 2011, was ranked #20 on a list of the organization's top prospects in January 2013, and was considered by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette representative of the "scouting revolution" in the Pirates organization. Lengthier and more technical amateur scouting reports are available on Pirates Prospects and U Gotta Believe.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Samuel C. Kang, the first Asian-American member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, has died. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes:
South Korean native Samuel C. Kang arrived in the U.S. in 1953, shortly after the end of the Korean War to study viola at the New England Conservatory in Boston.

He later returned to his native land but, in 1962, moved to Pittsburgh after he beat out 100 other violists to become the first Asian-American invited to join the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Kang, who played with the symphony until his retirement in 1996, died at his McCandless home on Wednesday at age 83.

Every Day is a Holiday at Sewickley Academy, February 9.

Very advance notice for the recently-announced Silk Screen Film Series coming to Sewickley Academy next year. Of relevance to this blog is the 2012 documentary Every Day is a Holiday, which summarizes itself thus:
Chinese-American filmmaker Theresa Loong creates an intimate portrait of her father, a man fifty years her senior. In this documentary, we explore the bonds of the father-daughter relationship and place themes of growing older, immigration and racism in the context of “living history.” Paul Loong talks of his experiences as a POW in Japan and his subsequent quest to become an American. We discover why, despite much suffering, “Every Day Is a Holiday.”
The film starts at 2 pm and is free, though online registration is required. Sewickley Academy (map) is a private K-12 school in the suburbs of Pittsburgh.

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