June 2003


I finally compiled a partial reading list from piles of slips of paper, text files, and my notepad. It daunts me in its length, and I have no idea anymore where to start. Some of these I’ve read part of and stopped, and many many books that are on my shelf are not on this list, but it’s a start at least.

Fiction
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Truman Capote)
Maps (Nuruddin Farah)
Petersburg (Bely)
The Fall (Camus)
Gravity’s Rainbow (Thomas Pynchon)
An Underachiever’s Diary (Anastas)
The Melancholy of Resistance (laszlo krasznahorkai)
(Tsao Yu)
Little, Big (Crowley)
Otherwise (Crowley)
Everything is Illuminated (Jonathan Safran Foer)
Born Confused (Tanuja Desai Hidier)
The Course of the Heart (M John Harrison)
(John Sladek)
Mumbo Jumbo (Ishmael Reed)
(Gwendolyn Brooks)
King of Shadows (Susan Cooper)
Eden (Lem)
India Song (Marguerite Duras)
The Waved (Woolf)
Mrs. Dalloway (Woolf)
Carter Beats the Devil (glen david gold)
My Name Is Red (Orhan Pamuk)
Tigana (Guy Gavriel Kay)
The Road to Wellville (T.C. Boyle)
Summertime (Chabon)
Where Do We Go From Here? (doris dörrie)
The Procedure (harry mulisch)
Stories of Your Life (Ted Chiang)
(Nalo Hopkinson)
(Shashi Tharoor)
Eye In The Sky (Philip K. Dick)
Gertrude and Claudius (Updike)
Another Reason (Gyan Prakash)
Revenge (Stephen Fry)
Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
The Corrections (Franzen)
(Sherman Alexie)
Riddley Walker (Hoban)
Esau and Jacob (Machado de Assis)
The Cheese Monkeys (Chip Kidd)
Disgrace (Coetzee)
Meatless Days (Suleri)
The Clown (Boell)
The Setting Sun (Dazai)

Theater
Guernica (Fernando Arrabal)
Modern Arabid Drama (Jayyusi & Allen)
Masked Performance (Emigh)
The Playful Revolution (Eugene van Erven)
The Playwrights Guidebook (Stuart Spencer)
Performance Analysis (Counsell/Wolf)
Signs of performance : an introduction to twentieth-century theatre
Glass Menagerie (Williams)
Dinner With Friends (Donald Margulies)
Topdog/Underdog (Suzan Lori-Parks)
Prick Up Your Ears (Lahr)
Contemporary Greek Theater (Pavlos Matesis)
Angels In America (Tony Kushner)
The Three Uses of The Knife (Mamet)
The Way of the World (Congreve)
Zoot Suit (Valdez)
Under Milk Wood (Dylan Thomas)
The Heidi Chronicles (Wasserstein)
A Streetcar Named Desire (Williams)
Dream Play (Strindberg)
Our Town (Thornton Wilder)
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (August Wilson)
The Convent of Pleasure (Margaret Cavendish)
Black Theater USA
A Full Moon In March (Yeats)
The Actor and Alexander Technique (Kelly McEvenue)
(Harry Kondoleon)
(Romulus Linney)
The Darker Face of the Earth (Rita Dove)
The Substance of Fire (Jon Robin Baitz)
Shakespeare, Race, and Colonialism (Ania Loomba)
Seriously Funny (Nachman)
Dream on Monkey Mountain (Walcott)
Tales of the Lost Formicans (Congdon)
A Slight Ache (Pinter)
Fool For Love (Shepard)
Speed the Plow (Mamet)

Nonfiction General/Humanities
Elements of Typographic Style (Bringhurst)
Virtual Music (David Cope)
Market Killing (Greg Philo & David Miller)
Jazz Age Jews (Michael Alexander)
Postcolonial Transformation (Bill Ashcroft)
Post-colonial Studies (Bill Ashcroft)
A Concise Elementary Grammar of the Sanskrit Language (Jan Gonda)
Spaces of Difference — Ethnic Identity in British South Asian Families (Dhooleka Sarhadi Raj)
Disciplined Minds (Schmidt)
Development as Freedom (Sen)
Plagues and Peoples
The Power of Myth (Joseph Campbell)
A History of Russia, Central Asia, and Mongolia (Christian)
The Empire of the Steppes : a History of Central Asia (Grousset)
The Flash of the Spirit (Robert Farris Thompson)
The Puzzle Instinct (Danesi)
How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America (Manning Marable)
Globalization and Its Discontents (Stiglitz)
A Problem From Hell (Samantha Power)
The Death and Life of Great American Cities (Chris Burden)
The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen (Peter Berley)
The Man Who Deciphered Linear B (Andrew Robinson)
Myths of the Dog-Man (D.G. White)
The Wind of the Hundred Days (Bhagwati)
In the Chinks of the World Machine (Sarah Lefanu)
The Honors Class (Benjamin Yandell)
One World (Peter Singer)
Rethinking Multiculturalism (Bhiku Parekh)
Five Moral Pieces (Umberto Eco)
A Journal of the Plague Year (Daniel Defoe)
The Immediate Experience (Robert Warshow)
Color Conscious : The Political Morality of Race (Appiah and Gutman)
Perfume (Patrick Suskind)
The Greens Cookboook (Deborah Madison)
Sunset Vegetarian Cooking
Urban Injustice : How Ghettoes Happen
The Classic Era of Crime Fiction (Peter Haining)
Brown : The Last Discovery of America (Richard Rodriguez)
Trust In Numbers (Porter)
Anime : from Akira to Princess Mononoke (Susan Napier)
Deconstructions : a Users Guide (ed. Nicholas Royle)
Coming Home to Eat (Gary Paul Nabhan)
Ambient Century (Mark Prendergast)
Yellow : Race in America Beyond Black and White (Frank Wu)
I Have Landed (Gould)
The Power of Babel (John McWhorter)
Fat Land (Greg Critser)
Fat Cats and Running Dogs (Vijay Prashad)
The Intellectual Origins of the English Revolution (Hill)
Sound States
Wireless Imagination

Nonfiction Science/Engineering
Graph Connections (Beineke and Wilson)
Chance and Choice by Cardpack and Chessboard
Random Matrix Models and Their Applications (Bleher, Its)
Conceptual Mathematics (Lawvere & Schanuel)
On Numbers and Games (J.H. Conway)
The Blind Watchmaker (Dawkins)
Proofs and Refutations (Imre Lakatos)
The Logic of Scientific Discovery (Popper)
The Lady Tasting Tea (David Salsburg)
Difference Engine (Doron Swade)
Safe food : bacteria, biotech, bioterrorism (Marian Nestle)
A Wavelet Tour of Signal Processing (Mallat)
Listening (Handel)
Theoretical Neuroscience (Dayan & Abbott)

At 8th and Clement. Another small dim-sum place, but one I was told is “more authentic.” The food here was pretty good, and pretty cheap, if you stay away from the high-price items like the jellyfish (which was spicy and good, but there was too much of it for us to finish). The shumai were some of the best I’ve had, as were the turnip cakes, a little crunchy on one side.

Since it’s a smaller place, there aren’t people with platters or carts wandering around — you order off a menu like you would a la carte sushi. The only downside of this setup is that the service is a little slower, and we got things one at a time at first. The full-on barrage of bite-sized options didn’t manifest itself until we had demolished some of the earlier courses. If you like to mix things up, you have to have to be patient, which isn’t easy if you skipped breakfast.

There are tons of dim sum places like this in the Richmond, of course, and chances are most of them are better than the similar places closer downtown. If you’re up for the commute out there, you won’t be disappointed.

On 4th between Market and Mission. Within view of the Metreon, Annabelle’s is a pretty standard bar and grill kind of place, with some tasty fresh seafood. Since we didn’t want to miss our movie, we ended up getting just a main course, although my fellow diners told the appetizers were a mixed bag. I ended up with grilled salmon on a mushroom risotto, which was sort of lacking in mushrooms. The fish was delish, though, and I was pretty happy with my meal overall. If you’re a steak fan, they can certainly accomodate that too.

The only downside to Annabelle’s is the price. Good luck finding a place that will serve up this kind of chow for less, but my tastebuds were not particularly wowed here. It would be a good place to take midwestern relatives with somewhat conservative (American) eating habits, while leaving yourself flexible for trying something a little more Californian. On their dime, of course.

On Telegraph between Channing and Haste. Intermezzo wins my vote for best place to eat on Southside. They serve up huge salad bowls, tasty soups, and gigantic sandwiches on their delicious honey-wheat bread, and all at around 4 to 6 bucks. The vegetarian sandwich is avocado and cream cheese with the works, and I heartily recommend it if you don’t mind making a little mess. For a lighter but still substantial lunch or dinner, try one of the salad bowls — I usually stick with the tossed greens, but they have one with every conceivable bean for your protein needs.

There’s usually a line out the door at this place, and for good reason. It’s a bit crowded inside, but the turnover’s pretty fast. I’ve never had to wait for a table. And if you’re feeling fat and lazy afterwards, you can waddle across the street to Cody’s Books or Amoeba Music and browse around.

On Telegraph between Channing and Haste. Slurp is a brand-new noodle shop on Southside, serving up various noodle dishes at slightly elevated costs. I had their lime-coconut noodles with bean sprouts and chicken, mainly because it was cold, and Berkeley was sweltering. It was a passable noodle bowl, but it was almost drowning in a somewhat disappointing sauce. I cannot speak for the other dishes, but it seems to be another one of those low-bang-for-your-buck places that Berkeley specializes in.

On Hayes at Laguna. Ahh, Frjtz, bastion of creperies in San Francisco. Frjtz calls itself a Belgian crepe and fries place, but having never been to Belgium, I cannot speak for its authenticity. However, it is a fine place to go for a pre-Symphony or Opera snack, or if you happen to find yourself in Hayes Valley for lunch. The Crepes are neat squares of chewy bread and tasty fillings, and they have a wide variety on the menu, all named after famous painters. I’ve only had the savories — I recommend the Duchamp, Brancusi, Dali, and Caravaggio, although the salmon ones are supposed to be good as well.

A trip to Frjtz is not complete without having som frjtz, delicious fries that come with your selection of dipping sauces — one with a small, and two with a large (groot). I recommend the caper-onion ketchup and the honey mustard, although there are more adventurous choices as well. I found the wasabi mayo kind of disappointing, and the spicy peanut was more like peanut butter. For a truly authentic experience, top it all off with a nice Chimay, although that’ll cost you extra.

On Euclid, half a block north of Hearst. La Val’s is your typical bad pizza/pasta joint catering to the college crowd. For $2.50 you can get a huge slice of pizza and a soda, and it will be fast. For $5 you can get an individual pizza which will be pretty filling, and they have good veggie options. For $5 you can also get a sandwich or pasta. But really, there’s no need to eat here unless you need it fast and near Northside.

by Larry Gonick. This book was recommended to me by my friend Ann, who claims it’s the best introductory genetics textbook out there. And I would agree, if the person reading the book doesn’t know anything about genetics already. Unfortunately, I had seen most of the material before, in an introductory biology class, so it was not news to me. But the book is very clear in most of its explanations, which made it ideal as a review of that knowledge for me. It cleared up some of the gene regulation mechanisms that I had forgotten about, and the cartoon approach certainly made what was going on more intuitive.

I recommend this book to anyone who thinks “I’d like to know something about genetics” or “I wish I remembered more of that genetics stuff.” It’s not really for the crowd that wants more than nerdy cocktail conversation topics, but it will certainly teach you something while entertaining you, which is more than you can say of most textbooks. The best thing about it is the way in which it follows the historical development of genetics (something I missed in the class I took), which turns the whole subject into a story of sorts to follow. So go to the library, pick up a copy, and kick back on a rainy summer afternoon, and expand your brain.

I went to this place again to sample different dishes this time. Rather than going for the noodle options, we went with some of the rice dishes. For an appetizer we had the dragon dumplings, which were somewhat disappointing veggie pot-stickers. I felt that the dumpling wrapper was a little too thick and chewy for the drab interior. The citrus short-ribs were sweet and tender, and came with a side of sticky rice — delicious! The mango chicken was very dry, which was strange, but the glaze helped make up for it.

The strong point of Nirvana is certainly in the sweeter dishes — meats glazed with fruit. If you want something spicier or less cloying, I would recommend going somewhere else, but if you have a sweet tooth but don’t want to pig out on ice cream for your meal, Nirvana is a good bet.

I’m really frustrated by the lack of information about Chinese food and vegetables on the web. I go to the local grocery and buy some “yau choy” from the produce section, and then come home to find only 3 hits when I look for recipes on google, and none of those have actual recipes for it. I found out it’s also called “oil seed rape” or “broccoli rabe.” The first sounds dirty, and the second sounds like a a underground techno party for vegetarians with colds. I see a lot of chinese cookbooks out there, but since I don’t know if any of them are any good, or authentic, or whatnot, I have no idea what to buy.

This goes along with my frustration at identifying the dish “Ling Gao with Sezuan Pickles,” which is served at King Fung Garden in Boston’s Chinatown only if you ask nicely (since it isn’t on the menu). Ling gao seems to refer to small 1-2″ long noodles that are oval, thick, and chewy. But I can’t find any information anywhere about these noodles, where to get them, what else they might be called, etc.

California has great produce, only I have no idea how to cook most of it. It’s not that I can’t make something up, but I would rather have some recipe at least point me in the right direction.

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