Monday, June 30, 2014

Chiharu Shiota "Traces of Memory" exhibition still at Mattress Factory.

"Stairway", from Chiharu Shiota's official website.

An exhibition by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota that was scheduled to run through May 31 will remain on display for the foreseeable future. "Traces of Memory" is at the Mattress Factory's new satellite gallery, located at 516 Sampsonia Way (map), a few houses down from the museum's main building and down the street from the City of Asylum. The museum's website summarizes the exhibit:
Central to the artist’s work are the themes of remembrance and oblivion, dreaming and sleeping, traces of the past and childhood and dealing with anxiety. Shiota explores the relationship between waking life and memories through hauntingly beautiful installations that incorporate everyday objects like shoes, pianos and hospital beds encased in webs of yarn. Stretched in multi-layers in a gallery space, Shiota weaves disorienting cocoons of black yarn that reflect the artist’s desire to ‘draw in the air’.

The site-specific installation of new works by Shiota will fill the eight rooms in the building at 516 Sampsonia Way—a 19th-century row home with a storied past—which is suited to the artist’s work. Its interior is cosmetically untouched; the raw condition of the building lends itself well to reflections on the past and the conjuring of memories.

Friday, June 27, 2014

July's Let's READ English book selection, The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida, July 11.

"Let's READ English" is a monthly book discussion group at the Carnegie Library in Oakland for English as a Second Language readers.
We will read one book each month and then meet to discuss the story, improve our vocabulary and practice our English reading and conversational skills. And have FUN!
July's selection is The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida. A summary from NPR:
A journey into the mind of a remarkable 13-year-old Japanese boy with severe autism shares firsthand insights into a variety of experiences associated with the disorder, from behavioral traits and misconceptions to perceptions about the world and social awareness. Translated by David Mitchell and KA Yoshida.
Further commentary in this 2013 New York Times review.

The next meeting is Friday, July 11, from 2:00 to 3:00 pm in the Large Print Room of the Carnegie Library in Oakland (map). Registration is required, and can be done so online at the event listing.

Taiwanese pitcher Liao makes debut with Pirates' farm team.

Earlier in the week, pitcher Jen-Lei Liao (廖任磊) made his debut with Pittsburgh's Gulf Coast League affiliate, "giving up," as Bucs Dugout reports, "a run on three hits in an inning and a third, while striking out two." The Pirates signed the 20-year-old pitcher in February. He's listed at 6'6" 260-ish pounds (198 cm, 120 kg), and he joins catcher Jin-De Jhang (張進德) and pitcher Yao-Hsun Yang (陽耀勳) as the Taiwanese players currently in the Pirates' system. In February the website Pirates Prospects profiled these three players and the Pirates' brief history of scouting in Taiwan.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg with the mayor of Pohang, Lee Kang-duk (이강덕) , on June 24. Nordenberg was in South Korea's steel capital giving talks at Pohang National University of Science & Technology on the 24th.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Pitt's Chancellor Nordenberg to speak about Pittsburgh, Pitt at Pohang University of Science and Technology, June 24.


University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg will speak in Pohang, South Korea, on the 24th as part of this year's Advance Pohang Forum at the Pohang University of Science and Technology. He will give a lecture in the morning on "Pittsburgh and Pitt, The Rebirth of a Great American City" (피츠버그, 위대한 미국도시의 재탄생), and a lecture open to the public in the afternoon on "The Role of Research Universities in 21st Century America" (21세기 미국 연구중심대학의 역할).

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Taiwanese inventors win 76 medals at INPEX 2014 in Pittsburgh.

Via the CNA and Yahoo! Taiwan.

At the 2014 Invention and New Product Exposition (INPEX), held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center from June 18 through 20, Taiwanese inventors were again the big winners, earning 32 gold and 44 silver medals at the annual international invention trade show.

Green tea cake, from Sumi's Cakery.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Chinese, Korean shorts at the Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival this weekend.

The Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival begins today---sorry for the late notice, blame the local papers---and a few short films are of relevance to this website, including: one on "a group of renegade Chinese artists"; "Winter Shower" by Kyoungju Kim; and "Door God" by Yulin Liu. Steel Cinema has a full schedule and list of synopses. Movies are shown at the Ryan Event Center in McKees Rocks (map), and as the paper says, beware road construction if you go.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ai Wei Wei: The Fake Case at Harris Theater, from June 27.

From the official website.

The 2014 documentary Ai Wei Wei: The Fake Case will play at the Harris Theater from June 27. A summary, from the distributor's website:
After 81 days of solitary detention world famous Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is put under house arrest. He suffers from sleeping disorder and memory loss, 18 cameras are monitoring his studio and home, police agents follow his every move, and heavy restrictions from the Kafkaesque Chinese authorities weigh him down. Picking up where Alison Klayman's Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry left off, AI WEIWEI THE FAKE CASE is more explicitly political, reflecting Ai's battle against the gigantic lawsuit thrust upon him by the Chinese government in an effort to silence him. Ai Weiwei is shaken, but during his year on probation he steadily finds new ways to provoke and challenge the mighty powers of the Chinese authorities in his fight for human rights and free expression.
The Fake Case made its US debut in New York on May 16. Times and dates for the Pittsburgh run have not yet been announced, but should be on the Pittsburgh Filmmakers site shortly. The Harris Theater is located at 809 Liberty Ave., downtown, in the Cultural District (map).

BonChon coming to Philadelphia.

Bonchon, a chain of Korean fried chicken places, is coming to Philadelphia, writes
[I]t's being built on the ground floor of a new apartment building at 1020 Cherry St. That is across the street from Simply Shabu, the hot-pot specialist.

BonChon will have a liquor license and is pegged for a September opening.
BonChon will open in the middle of Philadelphia's Chinatown; here's a map.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pittsburgh police brutality makes the Korean news.

From the "Korean news watching us" category, the front page of Daum, the second-largest portal in the Korean internet, Tuesday morning has screen captures from a cellphone video showing alleged police brutality at the Pittsburgh Pride parade on the 15th.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

K Missing Kings at Hollywood Theater in Dormont, July 19 and 20.

On Friday, the Hollywood Theater in Dormont announced on its Facebook page it would be participating in the United States premier of the Japanese animated film K Missing Kings on July 19 and 20. The distributor Eleven Arts provides a brief summary:
Based on the hit anime K, K MISSING KINGS picks up where the series left off. Featuring the same director and scriptwriter as the series, this movie brings the characters that you've grown to love in the same spirit of action, honor, and loyalty. K MISSING KINGS also sees the return of popular voice actors such as Daisuke Namikawa, Daisuke Ono, and Tomokazu Sugita, reprising their roles for the first time on the big screen.

The story starts some time after the Island Academy Incident, in which four of the seven great Kings crossed paths. Since this time, silver clansmen Kuroh Yatogami and Neko have been searching for their master, Yashiro Isana, the Silver King. Their search having turned up fruitless, the two begin to give up hope, until they encounter Anna Kushina and Rikio Kamamoto, two members of the red clan HOMRA being chased by someone.
According to Anime News Network, the movie will premiere at the Anime Expo in Los Angeles on July 5 and will have a limited US release from July 18. There are three shows scheduled on the 19th and 20th: Saturday at 7:00 pm, Sunday at 4:00 pm, and Sunday at 7:00 pm. Tickets for the Dormont shows will be available online, though online ticket sales are currently paused.

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. It frequently shows newish Japanese animated films on or near their US release date, including, in recent memory: the Madoka Magica series, Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo, Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, and Tiger & Bunny: The Rising.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Taxi fights in the old news: Pittsburgh almost had 대리운전, too.

Advertisements for a designated driver company lined up in Gangnam, from Sisa Channel.

Big local news in recent months has been the arrival of ride-share companies Uber and Lyft to Pittsburgh, and the pushback by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the entrenched taxi services. Several years ago, Pittsburgh briefly had another para-taxi company called BeMyDD, which functions like the designated-driver (대리운전) services ubiquitous in South Korea. From an August 26, 2010 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article:
BeMyDD (Be My Designated Driver) started operations in Pittsburgh this week after launching in three Ohio cities earlier this year, he said.
"BeMyDD is a new twist on a transportation service which gives people an affordable alternative to the usual limo or taxi. The premise is that 'We drive YOUR car, so you don't have to,' " Mr. Simanovsky said.
The company offers two services: A customer can reserve a driver ahead of time who will meet them at a location of their choice, chauffeur them around in their own car, wait for them and take them home, for $12.50 an hour.
For those who are already out and in no condition to drive, the company will dispatch two drivers to take them and their car home. That costs $25 plus $2.95 a mile for the first 10 miles and $1.50 per mile thereafter.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"I want to repay the love I received"; local adoptee pays it forward in Korea.

On March 27, Yonhap--the South Korean wire service--ran a profile on Sarah Lynch, a local woman and Korean-American adoptee who recently visited Korea and volunteered with a Seoul orphanage. The Eastern Social Welfare Society (동방사회복지회) has the story in English; an excerpt:
On May 21, a truck which was full of diapers came out at Eastern Social Welfare Society.

The person who appeared with the truck was one of ESWS adoptees, Sara Lynch(24). She was adopted to a family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when 6 months, and she has been working as a tennis coach for two years, under the influence of her father who once a tennis player.

Sara Lynch visited ESWS to present diapers to the babies waiting for a loving home. She organized this drive to pay it forward and show appreciation for the love given to her from ESWS, by putting her story on the online fundraising site and asking people join in it on Facebook.

She put on it on online fundraising site( on January 1 for a guide of 2,000USD, however, it passed the initial goal and she finally received 5,710USD within 4 months to her surprise.
With 5,700USD, she purchased rice cereals, body lotions, toys, blankets and ointments of the worth of 1,600USD in person in the U.S.A. And she purchased 85 boxes of diapers after a discussion with Eastern Social Welfare Society with the rest of fund.
Loads of photos and stories from her visit in April and May are on her trip's Facebook page.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Carnegie Library Oakland Comics Decoded Book Club does Sunny by Taiyō Matsumoto, June 16.

Sunny, Vol. 1 cover, via Amazon.

The Comics Decoded Book Club, which meets at the Carnegie Library Oakland (map) once a month, will look at Taiyō Matsumoto's Sunny next.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

"Chicken bites and bubble tea" place almost here.

Signage went up yesterday at 117 Oakland Ave. (map) in Oakland for Chick'n Bubbly, a restaurant serving "Chicken bites and bubble tea". Work started late last year on the former nail salon, and it will become the sixth Asian place on that block of Oakland Avenue between Fifth and Forbes.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Chinatown bus stop still running in Oakland.

There's a sign on the door of a papered-up Oakland storefront that reads:
Retail opportunity on the ground floor of one of
Pittsburgh's hottest technology co-working spaces
116 Meyran Avenue is available for lease
116 Meyran Avenue (map) has for years been the home of a Chinatown Bus station. In spite of the sign on the door, the bus station is still up and running, a phone call to a local ticket salesman confirmed. The daily bus to New York's Chinatown leaves at 12:20 am and costs $45 each way ($65 at the door, though $45 if you mention "George", says George).

Chinatown buses enjoyed their highest popularity here before Megabus and other alternatives to Greyhound emerged. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did a short profile on some of the lines servicing Pittsburgh in 2006, and their popularity among non-Asians given the lack of affordable intercity public transportation.
Kin Yeung of McCandless said that when he took a Fung Wah bus from New York's Chinatown to Boston, more than half of the passengers were non-Asian.

Nonetheless, "a lot of people in the Chinese community in Pittsburgh are using these bus services because they're so cheap," he said.
The Chinatown bus lines followed a business model similar to the discount lines today:
[Greyhound spokeswoman Anna] Folmnsbee said Greyhound's generally higher bus prices, for the most part, subsidized buildings and staff.

"We put a lot of money into our facilities, to make sure our passengers have a safe, comfortable, warm place to wait and customer service agents who tell you where to go to line up," she said. "Plus our passengers know we offer more schedules, a dozen to New York per day as opposed to maybe a handful."

While Ms. Folmnsbee declined to discuss how Greyhound regards the advent of low-cost Chinatown bus services, the company did sue Fung Wah in 2004 for lacking proper permits.
Google will help you learn why they aren't as popular anymore.

AppalAsia at Three Rivers Arts Fest, June 6.

AppalAsia, a Pittsburgh group that "combines the influences of Appalachian and Asian music traditions with original composition and inspired improvisation to create their unique musical voice", will perform at the Three Rivers Arts Fest on Friday, June 6, at 7:00 pm. (The festival website says 5:00, but the band says 7:00). The performance will take place at the Second Stage at Gateway Center and, like all others at the festival, will be free. The festival runs from the 6th through the 15th at several downtown locations.

A performance of "Wild Horse" in 2012, uploaded by erhu player Mimi Jong.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

"The Asians Among Us".

The local papers have been running articles on immigrants recently, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's "Pittsburgh's economy has gained from high-skilled immigrants" on May 18 to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's "New Pittsburgh initiative attempts to bring more immigrants to city" on the 28th. Both articles feature Asian immigrants prominently, and both comment sections are ugly and xenophobic.

Historically, the local papers have, on occasion, taken interest in local Asian immigrants and communities; one such article, a four-pager called "The Asians Among Us", ran in the Pittsburgh Press on April 26, 1981. It profiles some of the earliest local community leaders from Korea, China, and Japan, though some of the stereotypes--"who said Asians are inscrutable?" and the overtly othering headline--are uncomfortable a couple generations later.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Local bonsai cultivator profiled in Post-Gazette ahead of annual show.

Ahead of the Bonsai Show next weekend, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week profiled a local bonsai cultivator, Daniel Yobp of Plum. An excerpt:
Having a Japanese roommate gave him the opportunity to visit Japan, which only fueled the flame. After graduation, he returned to Japan to live. He taught English and art while trying to learn everything he could about bonsai.

“I loved it. I started going to bonsai nurseries,” he says. “I quit my job and worked at Yoshoen bonsai nursery in Osaka. I got better and better.”

Eventually, he became skilled enough to teach bonsai classes there. Now back in the States with his Japanese wife, Mari, he’s an active member of the Pittsburgh Bonsai Society, and also one of the younger members at age 32.

At 11 a.m. June 7, Mr. Yobp will be offering a tree styling demonstration at the Bonsai Society’s annual show at the Phipps Garden Center in Shadyside.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sukhothai Bistro opens in Squirrel Hill.

Sukhothai Bistro opened in Squirrel Hill on the 24th, in the spot formerly occupied by Cool Ice Taipei. It becomes the fifth Thai place in the neighborhood, joining Bangkok Balcony, Silk Elephant, Sun Penang, and Curry on Murray.

Cutie and the Boxer at Harris Theater, June 6, 9, and 12.

The 2013 documentary Cutie and the Boxer will play at the Harris Theater on June 6, 9, and 12 as part of the Three Rivers Arts Festival's "Art on Film 2014" series. A synopsis of the Oscar-nominated film, from the distributor's website:
A reflection on love, sacrifice, and the creative spirit, this candid New York documentary explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of renowned “boxing” painter Ushio Shinohara and his artist wife Noriko. As a rowdy, confrontational young artist in Tokyo, Ushio seemed destined for fame, but he is met with little commercial success after he moves to New York City in 1969, seeking international recognition. When 19-year-old Noriko moved to New York to study art, she fell in love with Ushio—abandoning her education to become the unruly artist’s wife and assistant. Over the course of their marriage, their roles shifted. Now 80, Ushio still struggles to establish his artistic legacy, while Noriko is at last being recognized for her own art—a series of drawings entitled “Cutie,” depicting her challenging past with Ushio. Spanning four decades, the film is a moving portrait of a couple wrestling with the eternal themes of sacrifice, disappointment and aging, against a background of lives dedicated to art.
Cutie and the Boxer, as well as the other films in the series, is free and open to the public. The Harris Theater is located downtown at 809 Liberty Ave. in the Cultural District (map).

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