Japanese-language skills.

They grow, they do.

One thing I can say about having been to Oahu recently is that it gave me ample opportunities to read Japanese language — and overhear conversation, which isn’t of much use at this point, except for distinguishing regional dialect.

I read the name of what is likely my family’s dialect [chugoku-ben] in one of my books (Okamura, 2014), based on the region my ancestors came from, combined with the historical context (that is, why and when they came). It’s fairly clear to D and I that there are some speakers (mostly older, at this point) who are easier for us to understand; this likely has to do with both dialect and generation. That is, if it is chugoku-ben that we recognize and understand, it’s likely the chugoku-ben of older generations, not as it is moving on (as many things continue to do) in Japan.

I can only read nihongo partially right now, due to the fact that I don’t know a lot of kanji as things stand. However…if we do move to Oahu, it’s a pretty sure bet that I will have the resources and immersion necessary to actually learn the language. That, in turn, should give me greater access to one of the cultures which has been likely key in my formation. (Most of my adult life has been spent seeking out my own identity; so to be able to recognize the influences on me, would help.)

As stated prior, there are a good number of kanji that I see and recognize, but of which, I just don’t know the corresponding meaning or reading. I was reading through the Table of Contents of a Genki textbook the other day, and found a bunch of these. Because I have so many resources, I’m thinking of hacking it and taking bits and pieces from multiple sources to hasten my learning.

Right now I’m trying to figure out if and where to get rid of my old Japanese-language manga (these are tankoubon, not like an issue of Shounen Jump [I don’t know the technical term for one of these: zasshi?], which would be more akin to a large phone book with multiple individual installments of various running manga published by Jump Comics).

I’ll probably end up taking them to a comic-book store or a used-book store. The thing is…I would give them to the library, but I suspect they’ll be sold at $1 a piece in the bookstore, which is far below their value. I also am not certain they would sell Japanese-language books. However, I’m not sure they’re worth packing up and taking to Oahu (especially given that these series are so old).

Not that I think I’d ever really get back to these, but for the sake of records:

  1. Bastard!! #5 (this is the actual title, I’m not randomly cursing)
  2. Inu Yasha #22
  3. Last Final Election, The (a collection of YYH slash doujinshi)
  4. Rurouni Kenshin #1
  5. Tenshi Kinryoku (Angel Sanctuary) #1
  6. Yuu Yuu Hakusho #7
  7. Yuu Yuu Hakusho #14

When I got these, I was so young that I may have colored in some of the graphics, but I honestly can’t remember in which of my manga I may have done this…

And yeah…my Japanese instructor from college told me that it’s best not to learn Japanese entirely from manga and anime, or your frame of reference gets distorted (that is, you end up talking weird, and thinking it’s normal).

Nevertheless, these (like my Sailor Moon books which compiled screenshots of the multiple series that never made it into official English translation) did provide me translation fodder when I was a kid.

Now if I found something like Urusei Yatsura, or another classic, that would be different…(come to think of it, a lot of the anime we had [like Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer] was on VHS, and is thus unreadable without a working VHS player…HELLO OBSOLESCENCE).

Then again, it’s what — seven books?

And holy…I just opened to a random page of Inu Yasha and knew what point the story was at, because I could read most of the words with the help of furigana. I also knew who the characters were, and what the time period was, in which the story was taking place.

I still don’t want Rurouni Kenshin or Tenshi Kinryoku, though. That latter one is super depressing, and the former…just too silly. Though Samurai X (the movie), which was the precursor to Rurouni Kenshin, was good.

So now I’m down to what — five? (I’ll just have to cut something else out.)

I picked up Bastard!! because I liked the drawing style, though seriously, that manga is basically adult, for the U.S. I have one of the videos, too, which is kinda soft-core. Not kidding. Don’t try to watch that one with your parents in the room. Not even if you’re an adult. Just don’t.

And…yes, I actually would be okay with giving away Tenshi Kinryoku and Rurouni Kenshin to the Friends of the Library…

…but not the other ones.

I’VE MADE STRIDES! 😀 😉

I’ve also found that letting go of the desire to create a graphic novel has paradoxically made it easier to play around with paper, pens (I’ve recently discovered [non-desiccated] Posca markers), and Washi tape, and make some interesting stuff.

I’m thinking of trying to write letters (physical ones) to family on the island, now. It would give me motivation and an aim in getting back into Art Practice, though it would likely be Art Letters or something, where I’m doing something that’s between an art journal and a letter. I’m thinking back to Van Gogh here, but I’m sure that illustrated/designed letters have existed elsewhere in the past.

Anyhow…I’ve got way too much to read, especially if I’m going to be dumping a lot of this stuff. I won’t be able to tell what’s worth keeping without looking at it, that is.

Maybe I should set aside things that are on my shelf which I have never read…

Works Cited:

Okamura, J. Y. (2014). From race to ethnicity: Interpreting Japanese American experiences in Hawai’i. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

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Getting back around to art.

Apologies for the lack of images: today was the first time I really allowed myself to explore with art materials for over two years (or that’s what it feels like, anyway). As such, I’m not entirely to the point of displaying what I made, though I like it well enough to continue.

So…this started out with an outing today. D and I went to a small Asian knickknack store (Japanese-branded stuff, but the name of the store doesn’t sound Japanese) to try and find a replacement for the pouch that got littered full of shredded foam (as I mentioned in my last post). I guess there’s something to be said for the creativity of a culture which routinely uses gifts to show goodwill…the new pouch has a good-luck cat face on it. It was the only thing in the store that came close to what I needed.

As it turns out, it was easy enough to rinse and hand-wash out the pouch that used to hold my jump drives. The cat-face pouch is holding all of my jump drives now, so if the other one gets ruined, I still have an option.

It’s kind of weird that these little purses are my go-to for holding jump drives, but whatever. (They’re padded, and nice.) I could imagine, though, being a little kid and getting this as a present, with stuff inside…it would actually be really cute, and a nice gift.

The major trouble I’ve had in the past with Christmas is that it perennially seemed to be a day where people showed me how much they didn’t know who I was (with the exception of my nuclear family). This is the reason why as an adult, I am purchasing the stuff I really want, on my own. I don’t think that’s the way it’s supposed to work (buying oneself Christmas gifts), but it’s a way I could see things going in the future. Anyhow…

What began with cleaning up my craft table eventually turned into prioritizing and shifting storage (I got the 30 half-stick set of Rembrandt pastels, which needed some place to live), which turned into playing with charcoal and huge flat pencils (which I had to sharpen with a knife), and coming up with a design I liked.

The design itself looks like a red lantern, but it’s basically a back-and-forth motion that I surrounded with strategic areas of darkness, indicating a glow. In turn…I’m thinking I can expand this and make it a motif of a larger drawing.

The major drawback to using marker (as I used on my 4th and 5th iterations of this sketch) is that I can’t get that real subtle shading from dark to light which is so easy to attain with charcoal, unless I use a large number of markers. (Markers also have the drawback of fading, which is just something of which to be aware.)

I also then scribbled in some color, first with a red (Scarlet?) LYRA Color-Giant pencil; then on another working, with red Tombows. The black marker I used was a Pitt Big Brush Pen, which is good for mimicking the mark of a broad piece of round willow charcoal.

After I had done this, it was really apparent that my drawing was very, very “graphic” looking. By that I mean, it’s really bold. At that point I realized that maybe I shouldn’t be fighting the fact that my art looks bold, and got out my dip pen nibs and inks.

I actually have too many inks; this is from a time before I knew how to use decent graphics programs and scanners, so I had been on a quest to find the “blackest” black ink. I used Speedball Super Black tonight, which was fairly nice…I just didn’t realize that I had never opened the bottle!

So it was me and this big pad of drawing paper, and a nib and nib holder (I forget what the nib was called, but it was the Hunt Ex-Fine Bowl, I think: it looks like the Speedball #512. For an “Extra Fine” pen, though…it didn’t really make fine lines).

And to answer that question: no, I still haven’t gotten a replacement lighter to burn off the anti-rust coating of most of these nibs. What I did today was use a nib that my sister gifted to me. Since it was already used, I knew it would hold ink. I did read that the anti-rust coating could be removed with alcohol — or pen cleaner — which is what I may try with my newer nibs (before singeing them as a last resort).

What’s weird is how easily illustration (particularly, with people) is coming to me, now. Maybe I need to stop calling it, “weird,” though. If I’ve been doodling characters for 20 years and have taken multiple life-drawing classes, it’s no longer, “weird,” if it’s easy. I should rather expect that.

It’s also really easy now for me to control a stiff pen point. I think I can thank my Pilot Metropolitan for giving me practice with that…

I also have a sheet of extra Bristol Board that I’ve been screwing around on with my fountain pens, and gave it a go with the dip pen. Other than needing to steady my hand, the Bristol presented no problems with feathering, unlike the drawing paper I was messing around with. I also have DELETER paper, which is basically ultra-smooth, but I’d have to look around a bit to source it again!

I would ideally want to plan out a composition (and, you know, get a script) before I went to Bristol and pen-and-ink, but practice has to start, sometime.

I still have to test out those Princeton Neptune brushes — as I was reminded of by reading backposts, the other night. I’m pretty sure Bristol can handle light washes; I’m not sure about the DELETER paper (as I don’t think I’ve ever tried it with washes).

Of course, then, there’s the option of filling with hatching…hmm. But I’d have to think carefully about that. Unless, that is, I used the Microns, Copic fineliners, and Copic markers (in addition to dip pen?!). I don’t think I ever did try using the Copic markers on Deleter paper…

Expanding life.

Today has been kind of interesting. I’ve made inroads to inhabiting my office, again (it used to be a kind of third space between the kitchen/main living area, and the bedroom). Amazingly, not a lot of dust has accumulated in here.

D and I braved the rain so I could pick up a set of 30 half-sticks of the Rembrandt soft pastels, though I haven’t yet been gutsy enough to open them and see how fresh they are. (If they are ancient, I may need to take them back.) It was about $45 for 30 half-sticks, which amazingly enough is a good price for this brand. I intend on using this as a basis from which to branch out.

In addition, I’ve been installing some stuff on my machine. It took some effort to get around to it, because as is obvious to me, my anxiety pushes me away from installing anything…but if followed to an extreme, this kind of leads me to a place where I’m just running basic programs, and not really using the computer’s entire potential.

In any case…the laptop is now basically my primary computer. This is especially as I’ve reduced my time on the smartphone: I’ve started not to feel comfortable browsing the web with it — even my own stuff, here.

I’m also trying to figure out whether I should take pictures with my phone rather than my camera, given that my phone is much newer, and with it, I can actually select what to focus on, even if it isn’t in the middle of the frame. This isn’t really an option with my digital camera, which means essentially that my camera is training/forcing me to take naive pictures.

The thing is that I’ll need to have my transfer cable at the ready, because I only have about 5 gigs of space on my phone. Although…I did take a ton of photos about a week ago, and they take up less than four megs — but this is from the digital camera, which records in JPEG by default.

Unfortunately for this post, I think I’m going to have to get to bed sooner, rather than later. There’s still a lot to do. I am going to need to clean the office, the bedroom, and the bathroom. But, not tonight.

Changes are coming.

Well, the air is fresher, today; helped in good part by yesterday’s rain. Of course, though, as can be expected for mid-November, it’s cold! (It also looks like the termites are out, judging from the little fluttery things I’m seeing outside my window.)

I’ve been getting pretty sick of seeing four ads pop up on my blog every time I visit it when not logged in to WordPress, so I’ve started setting up a separate domain. Setup isn’t totally done yet, so I won’t give out the HTTPS address at this time…but it’s coming.

I’m not totally sure exactly how I want to set up the new domain, but I did it largely as a way to publish my fiction. As for the art stuff, I’m really not sure whether it will go up, there — granted that I’m not doing art right now, and haven’t had the time to, for several months. (Buying art supplies is different from using them.) As mentioned previously, though, it will be good to try and integrate text and image. It’s something I’ve wanted to do, for a long time.

I had been looking at downloading a new text-editor (Scrivener), but I was stopped by my anti-malware program. Thank you, anti-malware program.

So it looks like it’s back to MS Word…depending. I could use one of my really basic pieces of software to write, considering it will likely end up on WordPress; or I could compose in MS Word, paste the text into Notepad to clear out the formatting, then work with it, from there.

It could also be cool if I could create PDFs of the work, and let people print it out that way. I’d need to experiment to see if that will work with images, though; I suspect, not.

It’s also very apparent that I need to do a thorough cleaning and organization of everything. I’ll just leave that, there. I know what I mean.

I also need to get some new clothes, and wash what I do have. I’m not looking forward to clothes shopping, but it has to be done.

Aside from this…I suppose I’m lucky in that I don’t have too much going on. I should really start looking for another job, though…

Literary magazine perusal

Last night I was looking though Granta (144) and the Iowa Review (48)2. This issue of Granta is fairly heavy for me; I didn’t read the beginning of it before picking it up, but patriarchy is the theme of this issue (as stated in the Introduction). Apparently, Granta has a theme every issue, if I were to take UlrichsWeb as authoritative (which is a fairly safe bet).

UlrichsWeb is a database of information about serials, though I have mostly used it for academic work. I had thought it was free to access, but it looks at this point like it is a subscription database.

As I’ve found to happen often, sexuality goes along with gender concerns, in this issue of Granta. I’m not sure why the two are so often linked, unless sexuality is what gender is about, for some or most people. As I’m kind of unmotivated on the sex portion of that and also gender-nonbinary, I suppose that it wouldn’t be something I would necessarily know a lot about, except as an observer.

I think I’ve just spent so much time dealing with gender issues that I kind of miss the stuff outside of my own context. Sometimes all of this just gets overwhelming.

There’s something different about reading a printed paper copy of the literary magazine (litmag), though, as versus a digital surrogate. It’s something to keep in mind if I ever get to the point of publishing, offline. Depending on the publisher, though, the articles may be available anyway via digital access.

The most obvious point of the difference between digital and print, is the lack of a nearby dictionary. (I didn’t bring my phone with me for a period, today.) Just like the old days…

Over the course of investigating periodicals for my Collection Development class, I’m kind of getting more insight into…well, serials publishing. I probably don’t have the time or patience to go into all of it now, but digital surrogates of print journals (including peer-reviewed material, magazines, trade publications, etc.), so far as I can tell, are becoming almost the norm. Then again, I’m biased, not having easy in-person access to my own Library.

The thing is that the growth of the cost of licensing these resources (for libraries) — at least had been increasing at unsustainable rates in the recent past, leading to novel funding schemes from pop-up vendors, publishers, and the Open Access movement. I’m kind of holding back some information here, which I didn’t start this post intending to share. Maybe later I can come back to it, or maybe after I do more research, I can come back to it. Before I endorse anyone, I should be sure they’re actually legit, that is.

Publishing online is just a method which enables wide distribution at relatively little cost, as versus paying for printing and binding and shipping, in addition to editing, promotion, and design.

I almost started getting into this big thing about database licensing (when the databases carry journal articles or links to such), but I probably shouldn’t go there right now.

At the beginning of this post, I was intending to write about having connected some ideas last night. The good part is that I have a feasible story concept. The thing about it is that it’s basically literature/speculative fiction. I’m not certain I have it in me to make that story, in specific, and in full, into a graphic format; it’s just so rich in detail that I feel it may be beyond the level of my current art skills.

Of course, that provides me with reasoning to practice my art skills, but still. 🙂 I’m wondering whether concept art might be of more use right now than attempting a webcomic, or maybe I could sketch out some (not all) sequences into webcomic format (for its own sake), and let the literary narrative (likely to be much more extensive) stand on its own.

I had thought of making this an episodic, speculative-fiction slice-of-life, possibly paranormal-incorporating webcomic series…but to understand the whole of it would take knowledge granted in multiple installations.

But that would add interest, and an episodic series would mean I only directly work on one part at a time. Maybe I can do it?

Right now, I don’t have an idea of how long this story will run, largely because I have a premise, my own background to draw from, and one subplot. It’s also tough to develop this and keep it relatively offline: right now, it’s just on paper.

I also need to stop writing about it, and start writing it.

Prepping for creative work.

Surprisingly, I was able to get out of the house today. A lot of people are staying indoors because there’s still a lot of smoke here from the Butte County fire. Not to minimize the destruction of that fire, but the air has been unhealthful for days.

Depending on the air quality, I might be working later this week more than I had anticipated; my school work-load has recently sharply decreased. I decided to hit the art store, today, in celebration of having free time again.

This time, I actually had a medium and project in mind. As you may have seen, very early this morning I was playing around with WordPress’s new editor. It’s inspired me to try my hand at webcomics. Kind of interesting how something like the structure of a content editor can matter…

Anyhow — just to remind myself in the future; today I got a bottle of ink and some brushes which were approximately $35 for a set of 5, due to multiple discounts. They’re Princeton Neptune brand. I had originally set out to get one good-sized natural hair brush, but seriously, good natural-hair watercolor brushes in a decent size are fairly expensive, and I didn’t see any with the dimensions I wanted.

(It is easier to want a brush before you’ve actually seen and held it.)

The Neptunes are supposed to be good at holding paint. Maybe late Tuesday or Wednesday, I’ll be able to play with them, more than just washing them out, as I did tonight. Then I’ll be able to see if they dispense paint (or ink) as well as they hold it.

I still haven’t decided whether to go in to work more later this week…

And — right! I also got a copy of the Iowa Review 48(2) and one of Granta 144. They’re both literary magazines, and as such, aren’t available at my library. I may have to do this, more. Because I’m so new to litmags, I don’t yet have a feel for what type of stories and poetry each magazine tends to have.

However, if I’m going to be writing stuff, it would help to read again. Litmags have short stories and poetry from different authors, so there isn’t too much of an investment in any one. They’re also fairly contemporary, and a good way to keep one’s finger on the pulse of new talent.

I still haven’t decided whether I want to get seriously back into writing, and if so, what I want to do with it. There’s the possibility of contributing to magazines, publishing directly to the Web as a staff writer or blogger, or running my own website. In long-form, the choices are self-publishing in an eBook or Print-on-Demand format, or going through traditional Publishing houses.

Due to my experience in Collection Development this semester, I’ve found some interesting outlets for eBooks and online litmags — though still, nothing compares to going to a bookstore and being able to browse. It’s just easier.

And then…there’s the possibility of just dealing with this here. I could run a blog, and publish comics to it. Of course, given my background, they’re likely not to be…well, intentionally funny.

Unless I go there. I can go there. It’s just not my first goal.

Anyway — for now, I’ve decided to work with Microns plus ink wash, for any comics I make. Or — I could use dip pens plus the ink I just got, though that requires some preparation of the nibs; and that requires either flame or boiling in a chemical-safe, non-food container. I do need a new lighter, but that’s easy enough to replace. I also need to find the Third Hand — it’s basically a pair of tweezers on a base.

The problem with holding nibs in pliers and then burning off the anti-rust coating with open flame is that it also heats up the plier nibs. That can distort them and make them useless. I learned the hard way.

By the way, it’s not my responsibility if you try this. It only takes a touch of the lighter, but you can get burned or worse, especially if there’s any grease.

Aside from this, I should work on my project due tomorrow. Not that I think any of us in the class, actually want to. It’s tough to write to a standard format. Kind of sucks all the joy out of it.

But I can do it. Just for the sake of not washing my GPA down the drain as my last action in this program. 🙂

Conversations with myself #1

So yeah, I…tried to do homework tonight, until I was no longer able to function, with regard to studying. That is, I started researching why my tomato plant smells funny, and eventually came here.

I am thinking there must generally be some limit on the amount of writing to a format that can be done before one’s brain quits.

At the time I’m beginning this post, it’s near 1:25 AM. I’ve just taken medication, so I should have until about 3 AM before I become entirely useless.

Yes, I am playing with the color settings on the new editor. Why?

Anyhow…what I’m working on now, is a collaborative project. Since I got my ePortfolio turned in, I’m trying to stay motivated. I did need to use one of the projects for this class within the ePort (I actually used two), but I really should have taken this class…before. At a different time.

So right now I have what I’m working on, due early this week…and three more weeks to go of this class. I can make it. The issue is feeling “done” with the whole thing, when I’m not. I have three more weeks to go. But only three more weeks.

Right now, I’m just wondering about resuming my artwork.

newly washed rondelle beads
This is a test photo. I could use this editor for comics, couldn’t I? I mean, if I really wanted to.

I’m thinking about getting back into painting. I have two more weeks before I go back to my regular schedule at my job, unless I pick up more hours, in the meantime.

I should have the opportunity at the end of this week, but it means working through Black Friday — and I have things I want to do, on that day. Like get a paintbrush. But then again, if I go to work, I can afford to pay full price.

Right now, I’m looking at the different way the new Editor on WordPress encourages me to break up my text. It’s much more suited to Web-optimized writing; as versus longform nonfiction, as was my working default, before.

I could do something with this, hmm? I’m thinking two or more B&W side-by-side panels in each Block. Maybe with narrative in between? I might want to review my CSS to see if I can adjust the padding or margins here, though.

Even the background colors of the text could symbolize different characters talking (if the colors repeat), though it wouldn’t be entirely accessible. It could also be narrative.

Just have to pick a story to work on…see which pens to use…

(does longevity matter? If so, use the Microns. If not, Sharpies — or anything else — works.)

Yes, I have tried to use Photoshop to create drawings, before. I’m better off working by hand…

…but that was pretty sweet when I could illustrate with the Wacom. I just didn’t have a story.

(Shut up about the Wacom!)

–But I could use a Wacom!

I have a proposed solution. Do some comic art, scan it in, and see what you can do with your current image editor and a mouse, before you jump on the Wacom thing again.

…or just buy a Wacom. Whatever. If you’re willing to pay full price, it doesn’t matter when you get it.

I gotta try this…