Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Yojimbo (用心棒) at Oakland's Melwood Screening Room, July 30.



Oakland's Melwood Screening Room will present the 1961 Akira Kurosawa film Yojimbo (用心棒) on July 30. An excerpt of a 2005 Roger Ebert review:
[Kurosawa] was deliberately combining the samurai story with the Western, so that the wind-swept main street could be in any frontier town, the samurai (Toshiro Mifune) could be a gunslinger, and the local characters could have been lifted from John Ford's gallery of supporting actors.

Ironic, that having borrowed from the Western, Kurosawa inspired one: Sergio Leone's "A Fistful of Dollars" (1964), with Clint Eastwood, is so similar to "Yojimbo" that homage shades into plagiarism. Even Eastwood's Man With No Name is inspired, perhaps, by the samurai in "Yojimbo." Asked his name, the samurai looks out the window, sees a mulberry field, and replies, "Kuwabatake Sanjuro," which means "30-year-old mulberry field." He is 30, and that is a way of saying he has no name.

He also has no job. The opening titles inform us that in 1860, after the collapse of the Tokugawa Dynasty, samurai were left unemployed and wandered the countryside in search of work. We see Sanjuro at a crossroads, throwing a stick into the air and walking in the direction it points. That brings him to the town, to possible employment, and to a situation that differs from Hollywood convention in that the bad guys are not attacking the good guys because there are no good guys[.]
The show starts at 8:00, and the theater is located at 477 Melwood Ave. in Oakland (map). Part of the Essential Cinema series, tickets are $2.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Four Pitt student-athletes visit Vietnam in Coach for College program.


Campers from the 2014 program, via the Coach for College Facebook group.

An excerpt from a July 16 Pitt Athletics press release:
Brianna Kiesel of the Pitt women's basketball team, along with three member of the swimming and diving team will be representing the Panthers as they joins fellow student-athletes from around the country on a month-long trip to Vietnam with the `Coach for College' program.

"I'm so excited for this opportunity," Kiesel said. "I can't wait to go to Vietnam and immerse myself into a culture I don't know much about. It is an amazing opportunity to build relationships with the kids in Vietnam and also with my peers from the United States."
. . .
The student-athletes will serve as a member of a "coaching group" while in Vietnam, along with other student-athlete from the States and two bilingual Vietnamese college students. The program consists of three activities: sports classes, academic classes and life skills sessions. Each coach will serve as a teacher for one sport, one academic subject and as a mentor to a specific team of children.
The release this year is a bit sparse, but there is more information on the Coach for College Faceook page, the official website, and on a post here on Pitt student-athletes from last July. Coach for College is a program among ACC schools and other select universities "that brings together US student-athletes and Vietnamese university students to teach academics, sports and life skills at summer camps to children in rural Vietnam."

I Live in Fear (生きものの記録) at Melwood Screening Room, August 5.



The 1955 Akira Kurosawa film I Live in Fear (生きものの記録) will play at the Melwood Screening Room (map) in Oakland on August 5. An overview from a 2002 A.V. Club review:
One of Kurosawa's oddest works, it arrived on the heels of The Seven Samurai, one of his most immediately accessible. Mifune, almost unrecognizable under layers of make-up, stars as a graying patriarch whose fear of nuclear annihilation leads him to make plans to move his large family to a farm in Brazil. Thinking his fears irrational, and expressing grave concern over the dispensation of his estate, they take him to court and, like a good judge, Kurosawa lets both sides exhaust themselves without drawing a premature judgement. Perhaps a bit too loose and leisurely to be entirely effective, Fear still offers a hugely compelling glimpse at the post-war Japanese mindset, and at the Cold War mindset in general. It's also a fine showcase for Kurosawa's nearly unparalleled visual style, and, like its companions in this set, a must-see for the director's admirers even if it's not quite among the very best entries in his formidable filmography.
The film is co-sponsored by Remembering Hiroshima, Imagining Peace as a commemoration of the 69th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the 6:00 pm screening is followed by an 8:00 pm Skype interview with Japanese students. The movie is in Japanese with English subtitles.

"The U.S. Pivot to Asia: Why ASEAN Matters", July 24.

The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh will present "The U.S. Pivot to Asia: Why ASEAN Matters", a Breakfast Briefing on July 24 with Ambassador (Ret.) David Carden.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Performances of Takasago, Hagoromo by Noh Training Project in Bloomsburg, August 1 and 2.



The Noh Training Project at the Bloomsburg Theater Ensemble will perform two Noh plays, Takasago (高砂) and Hagoromo (羽衣), on August 1 and 2. The Noh Training Project runs from July 13 through August 3 in Bloomsburg, PA, and is
a summer three-week intensive, performance-based training in the dance, chant, music and performance history of Japanese classical noh drama. The Noh Training Project offers the most intensive and extensive noh training available in the United States.
As the poster above says, the evening's performances begin at 7:00 pm at the Bloomsburg Town Park Band Shell (map) and will include two plays, Takasago and Hagoromo.



On Saturday the 2nd is a lecture "Stop-Motion Noh: Kawamoto and the Puppet Screen" by Dr. Linda C. Erlich of Case Western University. The talk will take place at the Alvina Krause Theater (map), roughly one mile from the park.

All events are free and open to the public.

Jen-Lei Liao is a large man.



Here is 20-year-old Pirates pitching prospect Jen-Lei Liao (廖任磊) at a New Years Party at Kainan University in Taiwan back in February. Liao currently pitches for Pittsburgh's Gulf Coast League affiliate, and has a 3.12 ERA in six appearances. He's listed at 6'6" 255 lbs. (198 cm, 116 kg).

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

AppalAsia live at Marty's Market, July 18.


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

AppalAsia will be performing on Friday, July 18, as part of the monthly "Music @ Marty's" series at Marty's Market in the Strip District. AppalAsia is a Pittsburgh trio featuring an erhu, dulcimer, and banjo that "combines the influences of Appalachian and Asian music traditions with original composition and inspired improvisation to create their unique musical voice". Music @ Marty's events feature music "paired with amazing cuisine influenced by the artist", and Friday's performance will include an "Asian inspired menu".

The event runs from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Tickets are $25 and are available online. Marty's Market is located at 2301 Smallman St. in the Strip District (map).

Monday, July 14, 2014

Back in 2008, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review profiled Bubble Pi, the first---and now third---Asian bakery on Murray Ave. in Squirrel Hill (map). The Pittsburgh City-Paper followed a year later. From the latter:
Bubble π has been on Murray Avenue for two years now; before that, Lin operated Asia Tea House, in Schenley Plaza. "I was selling my bubble tea. That was my specialty at the time," she says. Though the tea sold briskly in the warm months, "when it cooled down, nobody bought it. Now I'm more focused on my pastries and designed cakes."

Open seven days a week, Bubble π also offers its namesake beverage -- the fruit- or tea-based drink with tapioca pearls -- as well as coffees, shaved ice and a few simple lunch items.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

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



Last month, 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 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. The movie is in Japanese with English subtitles, and the theater will include movie-related giveaways while supplies last.

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.