Today, in anticipation of tonight's festivites, we went to the Hachimon shrine - the big, local Shinto temple and cleaned our souls of last years sins. It was a conviniently simple procedure. It goes as follows:
1. Write your name
2. Wipe paper on self
3. Blow... oooh, sexy momma.
6. Recieve a fortune.
Plus the satisfaction of having a sparkly, squeeky clean soul for the New Year.
Yup, did X-Mas this year. We even got a little X-Mas tree from the 100 yen shop (basically the same as a $1 store back in the States).
I would've never, EVER considered getting one when we were living back in Brooklyn, much to the dismay of Miyuki who always celebrated it when she was growing up. Because, even though the default religious setting for most Japanese born here is both Buddhism and Shinto, Japan is a PROFOUNDLY irreligious place and X-Mas has never been Christmas. There has never been any Christ in it at all. It's a secular holiday through and through. I wrote more about this last year which you can read here.
But were also doing Hanukah. Or as Miyuki has called our combined nod to nostalgia, "Chrisnukah".... I like it.
I've joined in a new internet thingy courtesy of my talented pal Marcus Villaca. Marcus is a graphic designer extrodinaire who is currently hanging his hat in sunny Barcelona, Spain. He's asked me to join him in an ongoing series of cellphone pix taken everyday from different locations around the world. I'm doing my part for Takayama, Japan. I've already posted a few days worth. You can find them here, here, here, here and here.
If you'd like to subscribe, well then, please click here!
Before the holidays I was furiously working to get a couple of short movies done, one cobbled together from my parent's visit to us here in Takayama and the other a little tribute to Nico's 1st 3 months with us. I used the Mac program iMovie to put 'em together. It's amazing how easy the process is. I can see it becoming slightly addictive. You can click on the pics above to see them or click here and here.
Part of my recent work load was a plum assignment for the Chicago Reader, a well established free weekly paper. When I was stomping around Chi-town winters, fueled by strong drink and welding fumes (doing big metal, kinetic sculptures another lifetime ago), I always made sure to pick up the latest issue. So when they asked me to do a cover for them, I was psyched. And when I found out it was for their annual "Pure Fiction" issue AND I would have carte blanche on the illustration I was doubly (triply even) psyched.
For my subject matter I worked off some old Japanese pop culture from the mid 70's, the Kamen Riders, a line of cybernetic half-human, half-grasshopper motorcycle riding superheroes. Kind of the like if the officers from C.H.I.P.S. had been cultivated from magic mushrooms. The old Kamen Rider shows are incredibly bad and trippy and somehow seemed (to me at least) to fit the notion of "pure fiction" well. There's really no logic to my choice, it just seemed to work. Here's a larger view of the illustration:
If you like to know more about the freakiness that is the Kamen Riders, go here. And if you'd to read a pdf of the "Pure Fiction" issue, go here.
OK, I've been slack on posting for the past 10 days but several factors have conspired against this. For one... dang! having a baby is lot's of work! I'm sure this comes as no surprise to the parents who have gone before us (me & Miyuki that is) but the care and maintenance of a young un' somehow magically(?) consumes the entire day. Wake, clean, soothe, feed, lather, rinse, repeat.... you'd think that after 3 months this wouldn't be news, but it just is amazing how fast the day goes...
Also, it's been snowing pretty much continuously for the last week. It's easily dumped 4 feet on the ground and there are places where the drifts are probably hitting 6 feet. It's been a VERY white x-mas. Here's a few shots of me and my brother-in-law, Yuichiro, shovelling waist deep snow... off the roof(!).
But nothing feels better afterwards than a nice soak in a nice big, deep Japanese bathtub.
The day before she got pampered with a nice baby massage when Miyuki took her to a class for new Mom's. There Nico met her new friend Kosei, a handsome little fella.
For her birthday Nico celebrated with a ride on her favorite stuffed rabbit.
The 3rd month of life is considered a developmental marker for most babies. Nico showed off her newest skill, grabbing. Well, holding actually; she got some help from Dad in getting the rattle (courtesy of Grandma Rachel from her and Grandpa Joel's visit, thanks folks!). But once she got it, she really took that sucker for a spin...
Y'know, we left America because I couldn't stay in a country that could re-elect Bush AND support an unnecessary war in Iraq. The kind of stories above don't make me want to rush back anytime soon...
I can understand the need for aggressive interrogation techniques up to and even including torture, but only under extraordinary circumstances. But not when they have become such a common, standard operating procedure that the WRONG men are routinely abducted, tortured and released without even so much as a "sorry". Doesn't strike me as a valid defense of freedom, not anyone's.
OK, well it's been a week since the folks went back home and I've been smacked with work. I'm not gonna have time for a full on post of all the pictures from their trip, but if you'd like you can see more of them (and us) in the flickr link I posted previous. Here it is again.
But here's a couple to show what a good time we had....
Joel being the lovable goof he can be...
and Rachel playing leaf "angel" with Nico.
On the work front I just finished up some illustrations for the American Airlines in-flight magazine. Does anyone ever read those in-flight magazines except to find out what the movie lineup is? Actually, there's quite often some good stuff in them; at least when it comes to illustration... obviously.
I did several pieces for them to accompany an article about famous bank robberies. I guess crimes are OK to highlight, so long as no highjackings are involved. Here's one of the pieces:
It's about how some robbers were foiled because they left a half-eaten sandwich on the scene. That pesky DNA dontcha know. I did it in a kind of "old-timey" treatment that I've been playing with recently. I did a few pieces for GQ in a similar style. Here's one:
mckible (aka "mckibillo") in nihon...
Hence "mckib in nihon" (go figure), where I'll strive to provide the occasional, piquant observation on the life of a gaijin in the mountains of Japan.
Since November 2004, adding to an already crowded field of ex-pat observation.
is Josh McKible. I'm an illustrator living and working in Kanagawa, Japan. My work has appeared in the New York Times, Esquire, GQ and many other publications. For more information please visit my portfolio site. For commissions, collaborations or just to say "hi" please email me. Thanks.