Kitsune-bi and Kitsune no Yomeiri – foxfire and fox wedding

In a Western forest, when you see lights drifting over your path and beckoning into darkness, you might call them a will-o’-the-wisp. And you should know better than to follow them. Continue reading

Where Do Plot Ideas Come From?

There’s a joke among fiction writers about people who offer, “Hey, I’ve got a great idea for a book. You write it and then we’ll split the profits.”

There are a few problems with this, but one of the most obvious is that the idea is the easiest bit. It’s the writing that actually takes time. Ideas are everywhere.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a walk and look for plot ideas. How about last week’s Country Living Fair in Columbus, Ohio? Continue reading

So, What DOES the Fox Say?

キタキツネ (北狐 kita kitsune), a Vulpes vulpes schre...

キタキツネ (北狐 kita kitsune), a Vulpes vulpes schrencki native to Hokkaido (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At times, life is strangely kind. This time, it was both kind and strange. Foxes became a hot internet meme, and in an… unexpected way.

Continue reading

Polite “Bowing” Deer in Japan

Sika Deer (Cervus nipal) in Kadzidłowo, Poland.

Sika Deer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you heard of the bowing deer of Nara?

Sika deer (probably from shika, Japanese for “deer”) are spotted into maturity and still have a strong population in Japan. They were once sacred, considered divine messengers, and now they are protected. In Nara Prefecture, they roam freely and harass visitors for treats. Continue reading

Alpha Males & Fiction

English: Samson, alpha male (leader) gorilla i...

Samson, alpha male gorilla in Givskud Zoo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had an interesting Twitter conversation a while back when World Weaver Press tweeted a link to an article about hot alpha males (“dangerous,” “possessive,” “dominating,” etc.) in paranormal romance. Being a total behavior nerd, I replied that most of these “alpha males” were actually displaying lower-ranking behavior – real alphas don’t posture, act aggressive or defensive, etc. — and we chatted briefly about the implications for fiction and PNR in particular.

Don’t confuse the “alpha male” and the “bad boy.” They’re different things. It’s a common myth, the posturing alpha male, but it’s a myth. Simply put, if you’ve got it, you don’t have to flaunt it. Only those worried about their position waste time, energy, and other resources in reminding others of their position. Continue reading

I Dine with Ninja

Ninjutsu (Naruto) (246375091)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I talk a lot about Japanese folklore here on the blog, for obvious reasons, but I haven’t talked much about ninja. And ninja have certainly entered national pop culture and folklore, so they’re as valid a topic as any other.

Plus, I got to have dinner with some lately. I don’t mean I dined with students of Bujinkan Taijutsu or other martial arts heirs of ninjutsu skill, I mean the dressed-in-black, popping-out-of-ceilings legend of thousands of movies and cartoons and books. Those ninja. Continue reading

Ben-Hur: Drama, Conflict, and Parody

Cover of "Ben-Hur (Four-Disc Collector's ...

Cover of Ben-Hur (Four-Disc Collector’s Edition)I love Ben Hur.

I love Ben-Hur.

Yes, it’s become somewhat fashionable in recent years for critics to wave their hands disdainfully at the film which was previously held in such esteem. Fine, they can have their pretense of superior taste. And okay, sure, trends in acting have changed in the last half-century. But I still love the film.

No, seriously, I once calculated that I’ve spent maybe half a week or so of my life watching Ben-Hur. Step aside, amateurs. Continue reading

The Fourth Day of Kitsune – the Brief History and Use of Chopsticks

This entry is part 4 of 12 in the series Twelve Days of Kitsune
A painting of a Japanese woman using chopstick...

A painting of a Japanese woman using chopsticks, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today we will learn an important aspect of polite society — chopsticks! Or, as they are known in Japanese, hashi. Continue reading