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Ch-Ch-Ch-CHANGES: the end of Borders, Tokyopop and my day of reckoning.


Ever have something catch your attention and then find yourself stumbling down a rabbit hole? I DO. ALL THE TIME! But this is the first time in a long time I’m actually sitting down to pontificate on it.

So, it ain’t no secret that a bunch of Borders are closing down all over town.  This kinda makes me sad.  Cuz when I was broke and straight outta college, that’s where me and the dude I was with would go for dates all the time.  We’d track down the nearest Borders and just read all day long without buying anything.  It was GREAT!  But, in retrospect, it’s probably that kinda behavior that’s putting spacious, chain bookstores like Borders outta business.  –__–;;

I’ve read entire novels over the course of 1 or 2 dates.  If it particularly tickled my fancy, I’d put it on a wishlist and buy it used from Amazon.com six months later.

SHAMELESS.  Yes, for when you’re young, broke and Asian, it isn’t uncommon for shamelessness to become a character-building trait.

I once had a boyfriend in college that would drive to Costco with two large Tupperware containers, walk up to the condiments section where they’d sell their hot dogs and pizza, and then fill them with the freshly diced onions you’d self-churn out of the dispenser.  To give a little context, Costco was really, REALLY close to campus, he grew up poor and was one of the youngest in a vagabond family of 8.  And he was Vietnamese.  So, in his mind, it was resourcefulness.

Me, I did blush a little — I admit, I was kinda embarrassed — and yet, at the same time, it was mixed in with a little admiration.

He didn’t take the relish, ketchup or mustard.  Just the onions, for diced onions normally act as the base for any soups and sauces.  Also, he didn’t like chopping onions because they made his eyes water.  So in some ways, this was an obvious no-brainer: free onions and he wouldn’t have to chop them.

As for me, I thought it was fair enough.  We were regular customers at Costco anyway and we more than paid for the onions in exchange for my embarrassment.

BACK TO BORDERS.  What drew me were the enormous “EVERYTHING MUST GO!  50-75% OFF, CLOSING!!” signs plastered in the windows.

Can’t help it.  I’m Korean.  And that kinda thing kinda makes you stop in your tracks and look twice, regardless of what the store’s selling.  And THIS store was selling books.  And lots of it.

It’s kinda sad and interesting, though, when you go to a table advertising David Sedaris books on sale, but there aren’t any David Sedaris books on the table.  On top of that, there are hot pink signs alerting you to the fact that not only are the BOOKS on sale, but the TABLE THEY’RE SITTING ON.

you know what's sad about this?

Not that it’s empty…

...but that it's on sale.

Yes.  Corporations cry, people.  They cry in neon orange and pink stickers affixed on all furniture fixtures.  They were even selling trash cans.

I’ve gotta admit, though, if you were to buy just one or two books, it still would’ve been pricier than buying them used on Amazon.com in most cases….which is why I’m glad I paid attention to one of THESE fliers.

8 or more and you get an EXTRA 25% OFF!!!!11oneone

Frak the fiction, I went straight to the manga — which was already automatically reduced to 50% off!!!  Double-u-Oh-Oh-Tee.  Woot.  And I never say that.

MANGA IS NORMALLY $10-13 a pop, peoples!!  So with my 50% discount and 25% on top of that and for having a Borders card, my total came out to roughly $40 for 8 pieces of manga.

And not just any manga, but Gakuen Alice manga, which is the sh*t.  I’d highly recommend checking out the anime if you’re curious as to whether or not you’d want to commit to the manga.  It’s about a school for children with special abilities, though it’s more like X-Men than Harry Potter except that it’s the actual SCHOOL (so Professor Xavier himself) and the government who are working together to exploit the children who have been classified as having “dangerous abilities”  — take note, though, that on the surface, you’ve got a delightful comedic shoujo (geared towards girls) tone that allows for the surface to sparkle in contrast to the grittier implications of its darker inner plot line.

Manga’s a great investment iffen you’re a true fan of a series, cuz scanlations can only hold you over for so long.

This got me hunting for the missing volumes of Gakuen Alice, which lead to me this discovery:

As it turns out Gakuen Alice‘s publisher Tokyopop has folded all of its North American operations, which kinda leaves you hanging.  Imagine Harry Potter was 22 volumes long and originally published in French and the publishing company that translated those tomes into English folded around volume #15 or so.

Manga sales dropped dramatically the past few years, which has been linked to the closing of bookstores across the country, coupled with piracy and scanlations.  In my opinion, though, I think there might have been too much of a good thing.  So it’s hard to value and appreciate the true worth of each volume of manga when it’s ever-present in bookstores across America. In some ways, the uncertainty of Gakuen Alice‘s future is SOMETHING THAT I HAVE BROUGHT UPON MYSELF. :*(

Is this blog post getting too nerdy for you?

If not, you’re gonna LOVE what’s coming up next!!!

HAS ANYONE HEARD OF THE META COOKIE???!!

photo courtesy of redicecreations.com

It’s like the prototype for a Matrix-like reality.  So that big, scary, heavy-looking thing has VR (virtual reality) goggles that project whatever flavor or kind of cookie you’d like to select as each of those tentacles pump scented air into your nose that basically intensify as you put the cookie closer to your mouth.  The actual cookie itself is a bland sugar cookie stamped with a code that the VR goggles recognize, hence changing the appearance of the cookie before your eyes.

Apparently, for some reason, not only does this trick your brain into TASTING something completely different, it also somehow tricks your brain into a different understanding of the cookie’s actual texture, though I’d have to try it to really accept that as truth.

The nerd in my finds this FASCINATING!!!! And can’t wait to jump on her first chance to try it for herself. And would be willing to pay good money to try it, too!

The rest of me, however, finds this kinda disturbing — a further separation of reality and illusion. And it’s kind of a clunky, more sophisticated version of what’s already happening.

Ya know, food tasting like other food. It’s common in most Japanese snack products and pretty prevalent in the chip aisle at your local grocery store. We’ve had Pizza Hut-flavored Doritos and potato chips mimicking the taste of hot wings and bleu cheese dressing in the past, and even greater variety and more “authentic” mimicry in our present. In my master’s thesis, I called it “mimetic food,” like yogurt that mimics the taste of German chocolate cake or vegan frankenmeat masquerading as “chick’n” and burger patties.

I wonder if a day of reckoning shall be upon us, like a generation that has no idea what the actual source tastes like. For example, a generation that knows very well what udon-flavored snacky snacks taste like, but not what udon actually is.

Of course, as I was wondering this, I stumbled upon a trailer for a documentary that’s making the festival circuit called Play Again.

You know, I get you little girl, I get you. The one who called the dandelion a “wish flower that’s half-blown.”

That said, it was kinda spot on to hear the dude say, “What they do not value, they will not protect. And what they will not protect, they will lose.”

Here’s a longer preview of the film — basically, they take these kids who have a heavy diet in tech-fed popular culture and put them out into nature for a few weeks to see what happens.

I have a feeling we’ll probably get a heavy dose of “concerned parenting,” guilt, lecturing and “shoulds” in this film, but I think the greater payoff is seeing the contrast in how children interact in two very, VERY different realities!

So, the thesis of the film is pretty obvious: connect kids to nature, for technology is robbing them of their childhood and robbing the planet of any environmental guardians in the near future. But I’m not interested in the thesis or end goal of the film. I’m interested in observing where it takes me.

Also, these kids are not too far off from where we are now, are they?

Love and tacos,
Aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice

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One Response to Ch-Ch-Ch-CHANGES: the end of Borders, Tokyopop and my day of reckoning.

  1. Sleepyhead says:

    Actually, your Costco boyfriend sounds like a pretty cool guy…I’ve done some pretty sketchy things like that to stretchy the $$$ during my days of academic probation, er, I mean stellar collegiate career..although borrowing communal onions is above and beyond the call of duty…

    I always brought my Border’s discount/member card into Barnes & Noble, and visa versa, and thus, I only read food blogs, cereal boxes and SkyMall magazines now…
    Ciao Borders!

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