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Monday, April 24, 2017

Uncle Yuta has an Adventure -- Photography

Book 4 in the Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy series is in the FINAL stages of construction.  Right now I'm searching for illustrations, and have come upon a surprising development:  Photography!

With the advent of photography, woodblock printing didn't go out, exactly.  In fact, modern artists make prints to this day.  They're very different from the playbills, portraits of actors in roles, senic views and nature folios that went before.  Myth and folklore seemed to vanish as subjects, when there was so very much innovation to portray!

Change came with the foreigners in 1858, and by 1871, when Book 4 more or less takes place, Japanese innovators had started using analine inks to create Yokohama-e prints, which are brilliant to the point of harshness, and also full of life and innovation as Japan lurched forward into its embrace with the West.  Folklore and secenery fell by the wayside as technology surged.

Further change came with the introduction of photography, both by foreigners for historical and journalistic records, and by Japanese people themselves, as everybody explored this new medium.

This makes illustrations a little hard to come by!  I've seen photographs of the Empress Shoken in a Western Dress visiting a silk factory.  (I've also seen the actual dress; she was tiny as well as tough!)  I've seen photographs of people harvesting nori and making bricks in Shinagawa.  These photographs are in museum collections and not available on-line for public use.  Many photographs are public domain, however, yet they're often not easy to view due to fragility and age, and few subjects have been preserved.

This photograph is a colorized image of women working at a silk mill.  The Empress -- and the smiles -- are nowhere in sight.

I very much prefer the prints also though those will by stylized.  I've found some good representative ones, though, especially among the Yokohama-e!  Things changed so fast!


Saturday, April 15, 2017

A new season! A new book!

Spring has finally spring.  The ski areas are closed and the lakes are open!  I have to get the new annual permit for my kayak.

The local Dollar Store sells solar lights for a dollar each.  About half of the ones I use stop working each year.  I got the new ones in place yesterday.  The Thundercloud plum is blooming and I have planted Snow Peas.  The needles are raked up and the house looks good.
Now we wait until the second week of May to plant most garden crops.  It's still too cold at night, but right around 60F for daytime highs.  Great for hiking and boating, but not swimming yet!

While I wait, I am right into production mode for Uncle Yuta has an Adventure, Book 4 in The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy series.  I am proofreading again, and touching up usage as I extract Japanese words for a glossary.  At the same time I'm selecting illustrations.  I'll write the back cover and other front and back matter, and put it all together before it goes to the Formatter, then copy editing, and then...IT WILL BE OUT!

This series grows in complexity as the characters grow up.  While Book 1 is short and simple, each book increases in length, the issues become more complex as the times change at breakneck speed.  This latest book was so much fun to research and write!  I know you'll enjoy it.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Quiet Competence

I've had a very productive day.  I left my hotel at 9:45, spent a while trying to figure out how to get on the freeway, and arrived at the dentist right on time.  Less than an hour later, with clean teeth and no needed work, I arrived at the eye doctor.  By 4 PM, having accomplished more than one might think possible, I was on my way back to the hotel.
This is Mexico.  Among other things, I got a pedicure, got my hair trimmed, got one pair of glasses repaired, got one set of lenses replaced and a new pair just for the computer.  They ARE nice!
This is Mexico, where things seem a little different -- decor and utilities can be a bit funky -- but everywhere where it counts, things are clean, in perfect repair, the very latest technology, but a lot of quick professionalism, a desire to be efficient, and an ability to enjoy the gorgeous hot day while getting, for example, two pairs of glasses ready to roll from walk in to pick up in less than three hours.
This is Mexico, where things are done with a quiet efficiency, a competence so solid you don't need to shout about it.  Perfection is the norm.
Everything is done without a desire to put on a show but a desire to do a first-class job as quickly as possible, but without stressing out over it.  That will happen 95% of the time and the other 5% isn't your doing anyway.  Why worry?  Just fix it.
Now I will sit by a lovely pool and drink whatever beverage is on offer tonight, and enjoy the sunset and stars.
I like Mexico.