First OBCZ in Hong Kong!!

Sorry this post is a few months late, but back on March 20, 2010 I was in Hong Kong to meet with some BookCrossers. We met at a restaurant called Brunch Club & Supper, which serves an American menu, with salad, egg benedicts, crepes, sandwiches, appertizers, coffee and the like. It was a nice meetup, with several oldtimers (azuki, ktp28 and wandering-B) since the first Hong Kong meetup (about three years ago?), and a few new faces (criminologeek, penejoe and yukihosnow). Watakeet, who was the first HK BCer I met, was unfortunately not available but was 100% there in spirit. : ) Nice chat, lots of good books piled on the table, wandering-B brought some book thongs and azuki some labels, so everybody went home happy.

What’s more, we found that Brunch Club has two big mahogany bookshelves. (Is that mahogany? I have no clue, just some very awesome looking wooden bookshelves.) They are full of books, mostly English titles, as this is likely a place favorited by exprats longing for the taste of home. We spoke with the manager, explained what BookCrossing is, and with her blessing the shelves are now an Official BookCrossing Zone!!!

There’s well over a hundred titles on the shelves. We put some of our books on the shelf, and needless to say, my resolution of not taking books home totally crumbled. I haven’t visited many OBCZs, but I’d proudly say that this is probably among the biggest and best OBCZs. Oh how I wish I have an OBCZ closer to home! If I were to live in Hong Kong, I’d totally haunt that place.

So now Hong Kong has its first OBCZ, and a very nice one at that. Please come by for a visit when you have the opportunity!

Brunch Club is located at:
1st Floor, 13 Leighton Road
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: 2890-2125
http://www.brunch-club.org

The restaurant is an easy walking distance from the Causeway Bay MTR (subway) station.

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Published in: on August 17, 2010 at 7:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hana Kimi

Argh. I have been staying up late these few nights. Why? Because I got suck into Hana Kimi.

The original title is 花ざかりの君たちへ, Hanazakari no Kimitachi e ~ “For You in Full Blossom”, which is really a mouthful in any language. It is a Japanese manga series about a girl who disguised herself as a guy to attend an all-boys high school. Mizuki Ashiya is a Japanese girl who lives in the United States. One day, while watching a track and field competition on TV, she becomes enamoured with one of the high jumpers, Izumi Sano, and decides to transfer to Japan to attend the same school that Sano does.

Needless to say, there are plenty of jokes and funny scenarios of a girl living with a dorm-ful of high school guys, including overtones of homosexual loves. One of her classmates starts wondering about his sexual orientations when he finds his heart fluttering at the sight of her(him). Yes, a manga with a harlem of ikemen!! I don’t know how Mizuki manages not to blow her cover (to the whole world). I mean, Asian guys tend to be less muscular and hairy, and more androgynous, but still, to have her walking around in shorts… maybe she does have some hairy legs? Then I remember reading Norah Vincent’s Self Made Man, in which she disguised herself as a man with remarkable success, and mentioned that people choose to believe what they believe, and once they identified her as a male, she could be careless and still maintain her cover. Either way, once you let go and enjoy the manga, it’s actually a lot of fun.

It has been a while since I got that into a manga. The last one was Hikari no Go. I only have vol 1-9 on hand, so after blowing through them, I went on to YouTube to see what anime version they have. To my surprise I found that there are in fact two TV dramas made from this title, one Japanese and one Taiwanese.

This is a pic of the cast:

I am not sure about the Japanse Mizuki. I mean, NO ONE will for a moment mistake her for a boy. She looks like a girl with short hair, period. Not effeminate, but outright female. The Taiwanese girl, Ella, does a better job passing for a guy. In fact, I think most of the Japanese male cast scale a higher kawaii factor… I haven’t watched the Taiwanese version and opted instead for the Japanese first, but from what little I’ve watched, looks like the Taiwanese one is a very close redition of the original manga, while the Japanese one just takes the title and run away with it. They also changed the school, Osaka, from one that excels in academic and athletes to one that uses looks as admission criteria (and as a result the average IQ drop at least 3o points).

As for Sano… I didn’t know at the start that he IS Hanazawa Rui from Boys Over Flowers. Oguri Shun has lost a lot of baby fat since then… and most definitely handsomer… I like the manga version better though. Oguri seems to bring in too much of Hanazawa into this series, at least in the beginning. Moreover, being a monosyllable, expressionless, moping guy is one thing, but acting mean is not cool at all. The manga Sano is not mean. He does say a few angry words, but he’s a yasashii person through and through. There are a lot of tender moments in the manga. It’s really cute and heart warming how he goes from “what the heck do I do with a girl?” to “I want her by my side and protect her” from one moment to the next. He makes me wish I had a boyfriend like this. But in the TV drama, Sano is rather cold and said some very rude and hurtful things.

Nakatsu in the TV drama is excellent! Ikuta Toma totally steals the show, and deserves the Best Supporting Actor award he received. No wonder some fans would rather wish him to be Mizuki’s love. I would have picked him too. Interesting how the chemistry is different than the manga. In the manga, it’s so obvious Sano and Mizuki are deeply bonded, sorry Nakatsu you don’t stand a chance.

On the other hand, Umeda is so much more fun in the manga. Campy and sexy.

And… Nakao… This is the actor, Kimura Ryo’s pic on his official site. I am like, gosh, he can be Mizuki!!! What big beautiful eyes!

The handsomest of them all? My vote goes to Shirota Yuu. He’s Kagurazaka Makoto, Sano’s competitor from another high school. He’s half Spanish.

Ahem, really, it’s embarrassing to be oogling over boys a decade younger than me… Last week another BookCrosser commented that she wishes there were more manga in America that are not the typical shoujo high school romance genre, as she’s grown out of them. What failure I am!

Published in: on August 8, 2010 at 10:42 pm  Comments (2)  

The Food of a Younger Land

A Portrait of American Food–Before the National Highway System, Before Chain Restaurants, and Before Frozen Food, When the Nation’s Food Was Seasonal

by Mark Kurlansky

I didn’t know that Mark Kurlansky is considered a food historian, I simply consider him one of my favorite yummy book authors.

The background of the material in this book is intriguing on its own: The Federal Writers Project (FWP) was established during the Great Depression to improve employment. Hundreds of writers are put on the government’s payroll. Some may be established writers, some journalists, some just worked marginally with writing. The FWP’s first project was a series of travel guides of the states and deemed a success. However, when the guides were completed in 1938, and there was still no end in sight to the Depression, a new project was started. America Eats was intended as a guide to regional recipes and social traditions involving food. The project was halted after Pearl Harbor, and the materials collected thus far were archived in the Library of Congress.

Author Mark Kurlansky dug through those old papers, and from them emerged an interesting look about American food circa 1938. Some of the original writings are recipes, and some are valuable and illuminating glimpse into the past of how American, especially ethnic Americans and Native American tribes, prepared and enjoyed their food. Which, needless to say, is very different from what we have today.

While some parts, such as recipes, of the book are rather boring, some of the articles included are writing with zest and humor, and reflect the different personalities of the authors. Mark Kurlansky’s introduction to each session binds the articles together beautifully. It was delightful to read about the origins of dishes, and the description of the parties certainly makes me wish I were there, even if those were food I don’t usually crave for. It’s a shame that with ease of transportation and travel, as well as the disappearance of local wildlife, many of these regional specialties only survive in memory now.

My favorite line is the one about geoduck clam: “There is no polite way to describe geoduck clam. It looks like a giant clam which has bitten off an even larger penis.” Ha ha ha… It also surprises me to hear of the preparation of duck wrapped and baked in clay… it’s similar to a Chinese dish called beggar chicken (supposed the beggar didn’t have anything to cook the chicken with after he stole it, so he just wrapped it in mud and baked it in a fire). I also didn’t know of the Basque population in Boise, Idaho. Indeed, this is an eye-opening book.

Published in: on August 8, 2010 at 7:44 pm  Leave a Comment