Saturday, December 30, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
The best Christmas Eve ever! My sister Beverly (second from left) came from San Francisco, with her husband Tom (far right). I haven't seen them in years, but we email and phone all the time. Tom has a great series of podcasts featuring 60's music, called Sonic Daydream . Check it out! You'd think Tom had spent his former reincarnation hanging out in Haight/Ashbury.
We all had dinner, then sat around the Christmas tree and had such great energy together, telling stories, laughing until out sides split. It made the season. Beverly and Tom are an extraordinary couple. They complement each other perfectly--Beverly is gregarious, extroverted, witty, funny and smart. Tom is laid back, measured and equally smart. They're so much fun together.
That's my brother Matt on the far left, then Beverly, my daughter Anna, my sister Leslie (who has the most infectious laugh EVER) and Tom.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
All the stuff we ordered for this project is stored in an old mining company building with shafts inside. When the United Mining Co. was in business, they built a little mock mining village to show what the city looked like in the 19th century. Here's my friend Leon in front of a mural made from an old photo of miners in the region.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Well, it was tons of work getting everything ready. The lighted Peace symbol/wreath has been hung on the eaves (13th or 14th year); the Nativity en masse is set up (attending: the usual suspects, as well as robots, travelling salesmen, Homer Simpson and more) and the 9' Blue Spruce with our Xmas ornament collection and lots of lights. Obviously, Christmas here is a big production. But it's all worth it. Just to sit and look at the tree is one of the most visually pleasing and peaceful things to do. It does for my eyes and brain what a massage does. Total relaxation, and all is right with the world.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
I had to go dig out some old photos from one of my trips to Tokyo, because my sister Beverly got to travel there for her job, and I just got an email from her this morning. It is her first time. She could hardly contain herself, my exact first impression (and second, third, fourth). Tokyo is one the great world cities culturally, if not the greatest. Bev lived in Italy for a while, and says in her email that Tokyo makes Paris, London and the other major European cities seem quaint. Tokyo is überhip, space age, other worldly, and a total sensory overload.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
I started collecting Japanese toys in the very early 1980's. The collecting eventually led to going to Tokyo to find these cool toys, and opening a Japanese toy store in 1985, originally called ModernToys (sm), and later RightBrain/LeftBrain (sm). Japan has been making THE coolest toys for a very long time, and most of them are not made for export, so they stay in the country. Except for a few Japanese-owned toy stores on the West Coast, and in New York, you couldn't find these toys in the States. So, I opened a store in Dallas, Texas, and ran that until the late 90's when the dollar became too weak AND there was a sudden growth in Japanese collectors. In the 80's, the Japanese didn't care that much for their own toys. Funny, huh?
What attracted me to the toys was the breadth of imagination. Japanese toy designers applied everything from Native American iconography, Kabuki imagery and insects to streamlined, futuristic Space Age forms. They also have the greatest sense of humor (see above).
I've put a few of my toys on my website for anyone interested. Check out my ModernToys (sm) Museum. You can click on each thumbnail to see the whole toy.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Every once in a while, I have to drive through the South to meet up with my rock n' roll partner and friend Roger, and I just made the drive again this weekend. I drive from Dallas to Meridian, Mississippi. The most thrilling part of the trip is coming in from Louisiana on I20 and crossing the Mississippi River into Mississippi. It's a grand entrance, as you cross a majestic steel bridge over the mother of all rivers. I have the distinct feeling I'm suddenly in the South, the real South. Hard to describe the feeling exactly, but it's a thrilling experience. Unless you live near the Mississippi River, there's hardly an American living anywhere else who knows what a river can be. THIS is a river, a force of nature with all this power and history, just in its presence.
Friday, December 01, 2006
One of my customers from Boston called today, to order some KIMBA THE WHILE LION tote bags for her 15-year-old daughter, who wants to be an animé illustrator. We had a long conversation about Osamu Tezuka, the creator of KIMBA and ASTRO BOY. Visit the Tezuka World website, where you can play a game making ASTRO BOY dance here!
TEZUKA was the Walt Disney counterpart in Japan, but created with more intelligence and consciousness toward world peace than the more corporate Disney. Tezuka's themes dealt with friendship, nature, war, animals, dreams and other themes that dealt with humanity. It's sad that he never caught on here in the U.S. in a big way. And it added insult to injury when Disney ripped off Tezuka's KIMBA big time, to "create" THE LION KING. If you're interested in more detail about that rip-off, read Remake of Tezuka's Popular Story Turns Into Denial?