Surprising Fettuccini 

This month's East Bay book news.

Eat your greens: Released from prison, he knew that failing a drug test would wreck his parole. So he began a bit of research and worked out a formula for passing urinalysis tests via "rapid detoxification methods, keeping active, eating certain foods, and drinking tea." Calling himself Kenn A Biscranium (say it slowly, aloud), the Fremonter wrote a chapter called "Eat, Drink, and Detoxify" for the second edition of The Marijuana Cookbook (Green Candy, $13), whose author calls him — or herself "S.T. Oner." Among the recipes, "my favorite main course is Chicken and Asparagus Fettuccini Surprise," Biscranium tells Press Here, "although the Mushrooms Stuffed with Silly Spinach is a close second."

Bow wow Tao: During the fourteenth annual Pugtacular, at the Contra Costa Fairgrounds on December 8, Berkeley's Nancy Levine — whose series about a wrinkly Taoist dog includes this fall's The Ugly Pugling (Studio, $19.95) — enjoyed pug races and a parade involving some 150 pugs, "some in costume," she tells Press Here. "Chewbacca was my favorite. Spiderman, second." Vendors sold Pug Wine (, which "contains no actual pug ingredients," Levine was glad to learn. Fans urged her to write "a pug lexicon: a pugipedia, if you will, with entries including 'pugtacular,' 'puggerific,' and ... 'mother pugger' — not quite heartwarming, but I like the edginess."

That takes guts: As "celebrations of torture" that "try their best to capture the look of a snuff film," Japanese horror films make viscera so vivid. In The Films of Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Master of Fear ($19.95), new from Berkeley's Stone Bridge Press, Jerry White offers a portrait of the artist whose oeuvre includes Bumpkin Soup, Agonized Addict to Letters: Miso-Flavored Dictionary of Hell, and the Suit Yourself or Shoot Yourself! series. He's not related to Akira Kurosawa, as White helpfully points out.

Back in the day: "I heard a helicopter. It dropped a cloud of tear gas right over me ... the cops were gassing and shooting ... I was helping this poor old Mexican woman who didn't know English." The 1969 People's Park Riot figures prominently in Dorothy Bryant's new novel The Berkeley Pit (Clark City Press, $25), in which righteous '60s dreams undergo a "dreary transformation" as decades pass. The narrator reminisces about the future Black Panther Huey Newton being enrolled in an English class she taught at Merritt College, "until he was arrested and sent to jail for knifing a man at a party." Eldridge Cleaver drifts through, too — both before and after becoming a born-again Christian.

It's all Greek: The Olympics occur every four years because the ancient Greeks held annual athletic festivals on a rotating cycle in Delphi, Isthmia, and Nemea, too. Now boasting 2,000-plus members worldwide, the Society for the Revival of the Nemean Games stages tunicked, barefoot races: The next ones are set for June 2008. This month, Professor Kim Shelton of UC Berkeley's Nemea Center for Classical Archaeology hosted a slide show revealing recent diggings and doings at the Peloponnesian site. Along with Linear B tablet fragments and thousands of pots found down a well, "a major accomplishment," said Shelton, author of The Late Helladic Pottery from Prosymna (Aström, $54.60), "was the construction of a small toilet" for security guards.

Raw, hide:One day, Cathy Silvers put into a bowl a banana, green olives, coconut, seaweed, strawberries, almonds, cashews, pine nuts, goji berries, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cherries, and slices of orange, mango, cucumber, onion, bell pepper, parsley, and squash. "To top the mixture off I chopped up some red-hot chili peppers," she remembers. She stirred it, dubbed it "Texas Chainsaw Chili," ate it raw, and deemed it "the meal to end all meals" — but in a good way. New from Berkeley's North Atlantic Books, Happy Days, Healthy Living ($18.95) is her account of transforming from sugar addict to vegetarian to vegan to raw-foods enthusiast. Silvers portrayed zany teen Jenny Piccolo on the '70s sitcom Happy Days, hence the title of what is, for the first third, a Hollywood-kid memoir. Silvers' father, famed comedian Phil Silvers, "was a mysterious, almost supernatural force, a god" who was so busy filming episodes of Gilligan's Island and other shows that his five kids barely knew him.

Spy vs. spy: Spies infiltrate Marcus Garvey's African Legion, the African Blood Brotherhood, and the KKK in Eugene Stovall's new novel Blood and Brotherhood (Stovall, $25.95). The Oakland author calls it a "story of the military's obsession" with African-American World War I veterans: Because "the military trained Negroes to kill whites in Europe, [it] now believes these Negroes will to do it again in the United States." Stovall is also a renowned pin collector. Having authored such books as Stovall's Guide to Disney Pins of the Twentieth Century, he sells collectibles at such as a Disney Cruise Lines Happy Holidays 2000 pin and a Hard Rock Cafe-Amman pin (depicting a djellaba-clad guitarist atop a camel).

If you build it: A Moderne medical building "provides a bit of Space Age whimsy" to San Leandro, and thousands more structures are detailed in Susan Dinkelspiel Cerny's handy An Architectural Guidebook to San Francisco and the Bay Area (Gibbs Smith, $29.95).

Inmate and out: Don't believe everything you see in prison-themed lesbian porn flicks, insists Silja J.A. Talvi in Women Behind Bars ($15.95), new from Emeryville's Seal Press. In this impassioned cri de coeur that faults the criminal-justice system for racial disparities, anti-hugging protocols, insufficient tampon distribution, and more, the Mills College grad calls Lust for Freedom, Ilsa the Wicked Warden, and Nymphos Behind Bars "great fodder for the male imagination" — but recounts romances such as that of the felon called "Chopper" who, "for the first time in her life ... found real, unconditional love in the arms of another female prisoner."

Lights, camera, action: As for everything you see in Asian-themed porn flicks, Celine Parreñas Shimizu admits in The Hypersexuality of Race (Duke, $23.95): "I love Asian women porn stars delivering silly lines in broken English." A UCSB Women's Studies professor and filmmaker who cites many East Bayites in the book including Elaine Kim, Luisah Teish, and Judith Butler, Shimizu adds: "In my own short films, I am obsessed with fucking and other sex acts to illustrate the dynamics of power, desire, and colonial history regarding Asian/American women."

Free ride: A new program is afoot that brings low-income kids, their teachers, and parents to the library for free. Funded by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the program provides round-trip shuttle-bus service between local schools and the West Oakland Library.

Graphic manual: The graphic-arts portfolio of former East Bay Express contributor Jason Walton just got bigger and longer. He provided 150 illustrations for's new manual Position of the Day: Expert Edition (Chronicle, $12.95), which suggests new uses for such household items as rolling pins, toilets, and chin-up bars. "You'd be amazed how dull drawing sexual positions can be" after the first 140 hours or so, Walton admits.

Bogosity alert: A Hare Krishna blogger describes hawking copies of the Bhagavad Gita in Berkeley earlier this month: Confronted by atheists, he writes at, "I presented strong arguements against their atheistic theories and defeated them. ... Here they are, intellectual sophisticated Berkeley college students, and they are being defeated by a Texan country hick like myself." Such experiences further convinced him that "Western society turns men into weak effiminate homosexuals, and turns women into whores and prostitutes. Seeing this increases my desire to distribute Prabhupada's books to help revive the Vedic culture, so that these misguided people can start following a civilized way of life, and stop acting like cats and dogs." Arf!


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