Miscellaneous and Useless Information


Just in time for the end of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month:

Secret Asian Man Secret Asian Man by Tak Toyoshima is a nationally syndicated comic strip (one of the few, if not only, by an Asian-American), that often deals with racial issues in the U.S. I first saw it in the Mercury News.

GeneYang-AmericanBornChinese-cover One book on my reading list is American Born Chinese [review], a highly regarded graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang, which won the 2007 Michael L. Printz Award for literary excellence in young adult literature. (So maybe I’m not in its primary target audience…) The author relates his experience growing up as an Asian-American through three different stories.

Fortune Cookie Chronicles Another book on my reading list is The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee. The author’s original purpose was to track down the origin of the fortune cookie, which is basically unknown in China, but the book broadens out into a general discussion of Chinese food in the U.S. Lee makes an amusing appearance on The Colbert Report to promote her book.

fortunecook-790146 There is also a film on the origin of the fortune cookie, The Killing of a Chinese Cookie by Derek Shimoda. It focuses more on the fortune cookie than on Chinese cuisine in general. I saw this movie at the San Francisco Asian American International Film Festival, and it’s thoroughly entertaining.

Asian-American comedians are hitting their stride, from 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors to the Kims of Comedy. I saw a bit by one of the “Kims”, Dr. Ken Jeong (who is also a real physician), about his previous girlfriend:

My last girlfriend: 5-foot-10 white woman. I’m a 5-4 Korean boy. Ok, we’re walking down the street, you’re not thinking, “What a cute couple.” You’re thinking, “Oh look, she’s got a tutor.”

Finally, Jeff Wong writes a column for SFGate covering Asians in pop culture, appropriate titled Asian Pop [archive]. In his latest column, he asks whether Asian-Americans in their thirties and older (e.g., me), obsessed with our depiction in movies, books, and TV, are fighting yesterday’s war. While traditional media are still important, teenagers and twenty-somethings are increasingly focused on other types of media, especially online. Have I become curmudgeonly already?

Remember this slogan? “If you paid full price, you didn’t buy it at Crown Books.” Another company bought the naming rights to Crown after it went bankrupt in 2001, and the chain has opened a store in Cupertino. This incarnation of Crown Books buys remainders and overstock at big discounts and passes the savings onto customers. It may not be a first-run bookstore, but it’s the closest thing to a mainstream bookstore Cupertino has, and I’ll take what I can get. Time to pay them a visit.

Recently I scored great deals on a few books. At Moe’s Books in Berkeley I bought:

And then at Compass Books (owned by Books Inc.) in San Francisco Airport, I bought:

Total amount:  $73.83 $22.98. Saved over $50. Sweeeeet.

Kepler's Books in Menlo Park may have barely survived, but other venerable indies are hurting. The main Cody's Books store on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley is closing. I have fond memories browsing through (and even buying!) books there. Although its two smaller stores will remain open, this hurts.

The San Francisco Chronicle has a profile on Arcadia Publishing, which puts out those slim 128-page Images of America books, full of historical photos, that you may have seen in the “Local Interest” section of your bookstore.

A miracle happens: Kepler's Books is saved! And in a timely article, the San Jose Mercury News describes how several independent bookstores have adapted to survive the chain bookstore and Internet era, including the Berkeley institution Cody's taking the gutsy move of opening a branch in Union Square.

Kepler’s Books might not be doomed after all. A group of investors is trying to help Clark Kepler save the bookstore his father founded 50 years ago.

After celebrating its 50th anniversary just a few months ago, Kepler’s Books suddenly closed its doors yesterday. What a shock, and what a shame — it was one of the most prominent independent bookstores in the U.S., akin to City Lights in San Francisco, Vroman’s in Pasadena, or Powell’s in Portland. Situated in Menlo Park near Stanford, Kepler’s had a long storied history. It was another victim of the economic downturn and the spread of chain and online bookstores.

Nothing deep here, just some stuff that interests me:

Two books on the history of Daylight Saving (not Savings) Time were released earlier this month, within two days of each other. What are the chances of that?

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