But where is the razor blade?! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So in Orphan Heirs & Shades of Night, Robin reflects upon the real and imagined dangers of Halloween, including the popular fear of tainted candy. However, Robin says, the risks are actually quite low, as there has never been a confirmed case of Halloween candy poisoning.
Every year, parents are lashed into a panic by hyberbolic warnings of trick or treating dangers. Alternative candy-grab events are promoted, at shopping malls or store parking lots. (I’m really not sure how accepting candy from a stranger at a shopping mall is significantly safer than accepting candy from a neighbor on your street, but whatever makes you happy.) But the risks are somewhat overstated. Let’s look back on this last Halloween and see how we did. Continue reading
This isn’t a real release.
Not really. It’s not a big splashy thing and it’s not a full collection of stories. It’s a novella, the next tale about Robin Archer. I’d like to do a whole series of short stories and novellas about Robin, a whole Circles & Crossroads series, and then release them in one set, but that’s not ready yet. But in the meantime, I’d like to share a new one with you, just because people have liked Robin so.
It’s a Halloween tale and takes place in Irvington, an Indianapolis neighborhood boasting the oldest and largest Halloween festival in the country. (I’ll be doing posting about some of the local scene soon.) When children begin to disappear from the festival, Robin and Jimmy offer to help search, and Robin recognizes a crime out of time.
Books traditionally release on Tuesday. But because this isn’t a real release, just a story for Robin fans, it hits virtual shelves on Friday, halfway around the week from Tuesday. That seems an appropriately Fae-like way to do it. Continue reading
Multi-talented reader Emilia sent me this photo of an origami kitsune she folded. (Folded? Created? What’s the right verb there?) The original origami design is by Hideo Komatsu.
Emilia lamented that she could not find any designs with multiple tails. But if you recall, Tsurugu folded an origami fox with just one tail, so I think that makes this “authentic to the scene” or something.
Thanks for sharing this, Emilia!
So I took your advice and suggestions on colors, and now the shirts are coming.
The shirts are coming.
You want to see one of the designs? Continue reading
Living only for the moment, turning our full attention to the pleasures of the moon, the snow, the cherry blossoms, and the maple leaves; singing songs, drinking wine, diverting ourselves in just floating, floating… refusing to be disheartened, like a guard floating along with the river current: this is what we call the floating world. Asai Ryoi, Tales of the Floating World, approx. 1666
Once “the floating world” referred to the Buddhist concept of detachment, but by the 17th century it had come to mean a hedonistic approach to life’s pleasures.
“In the Buddhist context, ‘ukiyo’ was written with characters that meant ‘suffering world,’ which is the concept that desire leads to suffering and that’s the root of all the problems in the world,” according to Laura W. Allen, the Asian Art Museum‘s curator of Japanese art. “In the 17th century, that term was turned on its head and the term ‘ukiyo’ was written with new characters to mean ‘floating world.’ The concept of the floating world was ignoring the problems that might have existed in a very strictly regulated society and abandoning yourself, bobbing along on the current of pleasure.” A creative boom developed in the “pleasure district” of the yoshiwara in Edo (today Tokyo), amid the tea houses and the theaters and the brothels.
It is an impressive bridge.
The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco has a special exhibit on ukiyo-e, images of the floating world, so after a brisk walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and back, just to say I did, I made a visit. And I took pictures.
In an attempt to distract myself after returning Mindy, I used the next day to go over training homework and then I took myself hiking. And I made sure to find some sequoias, because we don’t have those at home.
the American Chestnut tree was typically enormous and grand
We used to have amazing trees in the Midwest, too. Accounts remain of nuts lying too thickly to reach through to the ground, and we have photos of trees with diameters of 12 and 15 feet. But we logged many of them before the lumbermen ever got to California. (The rest died when we imported non-native species, releasing the disastrous chestnut blight.)
My arm is just not long enough for a selfie with a redwood.
Midwestern conditions allowed our trees to reach incredible size in just a couple hundred years. The redwoods are much longer lived, though, a full four digits of years, which demands another level of respect. Continue reading
So today’s just a brief announcement: I’ll be the Author Guest at Anime World Expo in Chicago, August 2015.
AWX is a small but mighty con with an emphasis on Japanese culture, not just anime and manga fandom (although there’s certainly that too). Previous editions have included seminars and hands-on workshops on Noh theater, martial arts, and Japanese dance, so I’m very excited to be able to speak on traditional folklore.
I’ll also be speaking on general writing and the publishing industry, and then be sure to catch my reading of antique translations of classic Japanese fairy tales. It’ll be fun!
Last time I talked about the weird appearances of Little Drummer Boy figurines in Nativity scenes and the fascinating historical research I got to do for So To Honor Him. Today I’m going to talk about the obligatory soundtrack for the book: “The Carol of the Drum” or “The Little Drummer Boy,” depending on when it was recorded and by whom.
I’m not even going to try to list here all the myriad covers of this song, or even just the better ones. I’ll simply point out some really stand-out recordings and explain why I think they deserve a mention. I know I’m leaving out a lot of favorites; feel free to comment below with a plug for your choice!
This is more than a bit ugly. And why does he come with a dog?
Maybe it’s always been there, but a few years ago I started noticing a curious trend of Drummer Boy figures in Nativity sets. Had the carol become so prominent in our Christmas traditions that we were now including the recent and wholly fictional character in depictions of the scene? And why were so many of them oddly inappropriate to the setting? I was simultaneously a little weirded out and a little intrigued.
I’d always liked “The Carol of the Drum” at least a bit. It’s simple and not terribly authentic, but it’s got a decent message (“your best is your gift”) and anyway it’s catchy, pa-rum-pum-pum-pum. It was only written in 1941, allegedly based on a similar Czech song but the original (according to Wikipedia, anyway) has never been found. It probably has more to do with the carol “Patapan.”
It became hugely popular after the Von Trapp family (of The Sound of Music fame) recorded it and Harry Simeone recorded it two or three times, renaming it “The Little Drummer Boy.”
K.K. Davis’ original “Carol of the Drum” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So I’d always enjoyed the song. But it bothered me. I mean really, who plays a drum for a baby? Most of my time around infants is filled with admonishments to make no noise, lest we wake the sleeping screamer. I know people who even travel with white noise machines for their young children. And how did the Wise Men happen across a renegade drummer from an anachronistic military band? Because that’s how the kid is usually depicted in illustrations. And where are his parents, anyway?
If you want skip ahead to the story, jump to the bottom of the page.
If you want to hear about the research, read on for a bit.
This has bothered me off and on for years. And then I found my brain starting to do something about it. Where did this kid with the drum come from? Continue reading
To celebrate the recent release of Fae, an anthology of fairy tales like you haven’t seen them, some of the anthology authors are taking turns interviewing one another. Today I have the pleasuring of sharing a virtual chat with Shannon Phillips, author of “The Fairy Midwife.” Continue reading