Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas and Rock Bands

A couple days ago I googled my name. I like to do that once and while because I always find strange things. This week I found a website about a band called Tools of The Trade. It turns out that this is a band I was part of in Cedar Falls, IA with my best guy friends when I first moved there. They actually included my name in the section that mentions former band members, even though the band didn`t even have a name when I was part of it. I can`t believe it has been almost nine years since then. I wonder where those guys are now...

The other strange band I was in was called Chariot. The site is under construction at the moment but you can get the gist of our aesthetic... much different than Angel Fire. Glitter is so much more my style! Will Glitter Chariot do a tour of Japan??? We can only pray for it.

So far this has been a strange Christmas. On my way to work/school I gave the bus driver a candy cane. He is the driver who never talks to me and always looks miserable, so I think it was meant to be that he was my driver today. I really mean MY driver, not THE driver because, like usual, I was the only one on the bus. I think I shocked him out of his funk a little. Maybe he will talk to me next time. Of course All I could say is, "nice weather, isn`t it?" and, "Thank you very much." Another bus driver once told me how to say "mistress" in Japanese; in reference to what, I can only guess because the rest of the sentence was way out of my comprehension... and judging from the word I DID understand, it is probably better left that way.

I am the only festive person at Nichu-- like usual. I decorated my desk and gave candy canes to everyone. I don`t think Christmas will really start until after work when Mikel meets me up her to pick up our car!! Yay. It is a Mitsubishi Minica. It is so cute and tiny that my Board of Education, who we got the car through, is afraid that Mikel is too tall for it. No worries though because Tony has the same car and we ride in it all the time.

Rock bands and tiny cars... good times.

Time to try and spread more Christmasiness!

Monday, December 17, 2007


This is the view across the pond near our apartment. We still don`t have snow in our area but the mountains are beautifully dusted.
Today I am thinking about The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. Did you know it was originally written in German? I didn`t. I had only seen the movie until this week when I started reading the English version of the book--not that I could read any other version, but seeing as I am in Japan, and I just mentioned it was written originally in German, I though I should clarify.
It is a magical story, in case you haven`t checked it out. The heroes are young boys in two different realms who are joined by adventure and a book. I like the layers of reality, and I like that I can escape into the book just as the boy Bastian escapes into his book.
Escape is an interesting theme right now, mainly because I have been noticing my desires to escape from things that are difficult. These desires are strong now as it is getting darker outside, Christmas is approaching and it will be spent far from family other than my lovely husband, and soon after Christmas, Mikel will leave for a month or more.
My escape? Books and art. They are also my way of changing my experience so that I no longer want to escape. Interesting...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Nichu Day

Nichu is the name of the second middle school that I work at-- ni being two and chu being middle. The other is Iichu. Ichi is the number one, and it certainly is number one in my book compaired to here. Since today is my first day back at Nichu, I have left over energy from last week, and my fun weekend, to be determined not to let the collective anxiety and unhappiness of Nichu teachers get me down. No way. Thank goodness I teach elementary school today and I have brough W00t along.
He looks a little nervous, but he won`t let me down.

Another good thing about today is that there is a little snow up here in Nino where this school is. It is so much higher than the part of my town that I live in, that it is quite a bit colder too. Yay, snow!

I also got to enjoy some grape flavored gum offered to me by the bus driver on the way to school. It`s official. We`re buddies.

I had a fantastic day in the studio yesterday which topped a fun weekend. Here are some uncorrected images of what I am working on.

This painting is only about 12"x 8" or so...Sorry the lighting isn`t very good, but I think the texture shows well.

Here is my most favorite wall sculpture I have been working on. It is a combo of my painting and jewelry with some fake fur thrown in for good times. It is about 15 inches at the longest stretch.

Here is another dark image of a painting...

Anyway, when the powers of good computers and internet combine, LOOK OUT! I will have totally swanky images to post.

I also did some more Christmas shopping this weekend in Iida. I found only a few gifts but I did buy a sweet pair of snowboard boots from the thrift store for my future snow adventures. They were super cheap! Only $13!! Craziness. I may be a bad snowboarder, but I don`t have to drop too much dough for it!

Ok, time to play with W00t and 15 third graders!!


Craft Land has been blog-less for days now, so here comes a long one.
W00t is the name of my new puppet.
And, not to sidestep the everyday announcement of a new puppet, w00t is also a new word recently added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as either woot or w00t or w007. It seemed at first to me like a reference to James Bond with a little extra W left on the beginning. It turns out it`s an expression that can pretty much replace "cool" in any situation to express excitement. I thought, "w00t! I can`t get enough of those words." I mean, I can only use "sweet" and "rockin`" so much in a day.
As I was looking up the new word, I found Merriam-Webster`s Open Dictionary where anyone can submit words. Although they aren`t all going to be inducted into the official dictionary, I think the list is evidence of flexibility in language. I have been thinking about this flexibility a lot lately. As I am learning Japanese, and have multiple chances to use the little bit of other languages that I know, I realize that communication is so much more about what my vice-principal would call "heart speak." In a normal day, I may use worse Japanese and sometimes more ridiculous English than a toddler does, but I still find a way to communicate. When I finally get to spend time with a fluent English speaker, all of my dammed-up words come gushing out. Speaking any language seems more like a game now. I notice other people`s word choice all the time. Some of our new friends are from England and have strong accents. They use words like rubbish and wank, that we don`t normal use. Those words are more like new colors and textures rather than just funny differences that I might not otherwise notice.
Anyway, back to my puppet, W00t. He will help me teach my elementary school students about the ABCs tomorrow and forever after. I suppose they will also learn the word w00t... so much English in so little time!! I can`t post a photo of him today because I am at home on our broken computer. I will say that he does look a lot like Squidward on Sponge Bob, but not as grumpy, with more feathers on his head, and pink. I also made sweet ABC flash cards where each letter is a different glittery, colorful character with cool eyes. These kids haven`t learned the Roman alphabet yet-- they will next year in 4th grade-- so I want to make this a crazy ABC play-date. They will sing the ABCs, run around, make letters out of clay and find the letters in a worksheet, which is pretty much an embellished version of our Christmas card. They may not retain anything, but I hope they will at least feel like language and learning is fun. Whatever I teach, ever, that is what I want my students to learn.
Speaking of learning through fun, and not so much fun, Mikel and I learned very important information this week. The first week Mikel was in Japan with me he got very, very sick. We thought he had a 24 hour bug, but the fact that he swam in a new river the day before was suspicious. This week we learned that the river directly receives waste water from Iida City. A local recently caught a fish out of it and gutted it right on the shore due to its bulging belly. Indside was used hospital gauze. Enough said.
It is time to check the glittery stripes on W00t`s nose and eat some apple crisp made by my hubby. W00t w00t!
Just another day in Craft Land.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Longing for Art Basel

One of my favorite writers about all things art, is Megan Voeller. She is a sassy lady currently kickin` up the dirt in the Tampa/St.Pete, Florida art scene. Here is her new blog which is really fun to read. She spent last week in Miami and blogged about what she saw. So inspiring!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Art Basel Miami

Last year at this time I was surpassing my ability to take in art by walking around Art Basel in Miami. This year I actually have work there at the Red Dot Fair --part of the Art Basel weekend-- but I am in Japan. Funny how life works. I would love to go to Art Basel Miami this weekend. I`m dying to see some hot contemporary art. I have been checking out sweet Art Basel artists on the internet. I came accross Sandy Lytchfield, Jen Garrido, Frank Owens and Reed Danziger. They don`t all hit the spot exactly but have something exciting for me. I always love Julie Peppito and Sarah Sze.
Oh Sunday! How can a weekend end so fast? So little time to settle into the studio. Less writing, more painting/cutting/gluing!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Large Frogs and Butter-Futter

This is a castle in Matsumoto. It`s made of wood! Castles are traditionally made of wood in Japan which is why not many are still around: a tiny spark does a real number on wooden structures. This castle has a secret floor to hide in! I think all houses should have secret floors! I went to Matsumoto last week for a conference. It was very fun to meet other English teachers from all over the world. I also found some cool Christmas gifts and a few tiny hidden bars that I would imagine to be more at home in Europe. I almost bought a pair of gloves which had a different finger puppet on each finger...I don`t know why I didn`t...I think I may be one of the only people who would wear and five-year-olds. They were pretty rediculously fun. One puppet was an octopus!!
The visual highlights of the trip:

A giant foam frog fighting a fatter...frog? toad? They welcomed me to the appropriately named "frog street." I don`t know why it had that name but all the buildings on this street were traditional Japanese shops with mini ceramics, second hand stuff and many weird frog souvenirs.

GIANT polka-dot flowers by an artist named Yayoi Kusama. She also makes steller room installations.
Speaking of second-hand stuff--like five minutes ago-- I recently was introduced to Japanese thrift stores. WhooooHoooo!! Serious finds! I will be bummed when I have only thrift stores in the US to go to. Better stock up now!
Craft Land News:
I have been in a bit of a slump. It`s time to ask new questions! I think I am finally settling in here a bit more so maybe my paintings won`t have to mimic my busy, full and confused mind as much as they are now. I usually need to have a few long studio days-- more than 5 hours-- a week, to really settle into my studio and spend time with my work. My job doesn`t make that easy so my process feels slower. I will post some new works soon... it`s easier--only possible maybe-- to talk about art when it can be looked at.
Until then, I will be making a newspaper with my special English class. All the stories will be murder stories with stellar collaged images. Violent? yes. But fun? Of course!