Saturday, December 03, 2011

Top of the Book: How "Inside the Changing Circus" Was Designed ... A Pithy Primer on True Dark Chocolate ... And It's All Free!

Special impartial consultant Boyi Yuan ponders eleventh hour question: Which photo of Big Apple Circus director Guillaume Dufresnoy should I use in my book?

Really excited about the cover design for my book Inside the Changing Circus, due out around next January. The designer, Brian Pierce, sent it to me last week for comment; my publisher gives author's the rare right to approve cover designs. A FIRST for me. I love the look of the book. And then, I discovered Brian's own blog, where he talks about his thoughts behind the sudden creation of the design.

Second excitements: Inside my changing frigerator now, there are tons of fabulous turkey, American to Chinese leftovers from a big haul yesterday, first as a guest at the house of my nephew, Jeff, and his lovely wife Gannimed, from the Philippines. While I was there, gobbling down, shamelessly, chocolate chip cookies (well, once a year, right? The others times, functionally delicious 85% cocoa chocolate bars ... ) I got to "skype." Oh, please, don't laugh too hard. I've heard the word, but kept the concept out there, resisting the onslaught of new technology (I am usually 7 years behind the cutting edge). Anyway, call me a Skypester now (had I known, I would have dressed up for the occasion) ... I skyped and skipped all the way across the Big Ocean to talk to Gannimed's sister and brother, and they gave me a virtual Skype tour of their lush green neighborhood in the southern region of the Philippines. Wonderful new experience. Jeff and I discussed my hankering for a smart phone, which I call a "toy," but, heck, we all deserve one of those now and then.

Great old fashioned Thanksgiving day feast, the durables -- starring thick gravy, and Chef Jeff evoked rare insight. "This is American soul food." The absolute best I've had in years ...

I might be the last person on earth to finally give up his land phone. Really, it's about economics, not trying to be eccentric (a bent that comes naturally, I fear). I'm on the verge of hitching my rotary to a droid, because the company I get dumb phone connection from at such flexible rates is now offering to help the dumb set go smart.

Back in Oakland, my friend Boyi came by with a container of more turkey, and oh so delicious, with all the sauces and seasonings his dad, a professional cook, applies so cunningly well. Back to chocolate: I tried a different form of 85% smart dark chocolate on Boyi. It's new from Trader Joe's (it tastes remarkably NOT like the other bars) and he fell for it! When he left later to drive many miles for a midnight whatever on a dark Turkey day sale blowout, he took the complete box with him.

OK, onto my book. Boyi helped me make a critical decision between the straight ahead face shot of Guillaume Dufresony that's in the page proofs, and one that I just got from Phil Thurston at Big Apple Circus, of Mr. D. sitting out in the seats watching the show at the gala opening in Gotham. After serious meditation, lifting my room into Buddhasphere, Boyi broke loose in a bolt of common sense favoring the new image and making me feel a tad off my game. "He is looking at the show!"

And the COVER! Remember the book, The Circus: Garden of Eden to Pittsburgh? (aka: The Circus: 1870-1950, among many changing names, guises and shapes) That book's original cover featured a great Braathen shot of the Ringling-Barnum marquee and ticket wagons. Well, folks, I've also got a shot at Big Book Coffee Table Overkill, too! I've got another image of the same wagons and marquee up in Canada in '53! And, no, not cause I suggested anything; it would be improper for an author to push for photos -- unless asked. Brian had just asked for suggestions from me, but before I could lurch, he jumped off his perch in a flash of creative lightning, and out came a great design. Among its many assets, the type face is NOT the usual old fashioned circus script ...

Boyi, on the subtler side, was nearly as excited as was I. My only quibble when I first saw this draft you will see, if you go there, was that four of the six images are Asian. I suggested it might be better to diversify and sent some ideas. Brian went with one of them, and design looks even stronger. I'm not telling which. Yes, you'll just have to wait and see. By the way, is anybody still reading this?

And Boyi last night rushed off to San Jose to stand in line and play with his new iPhone 4G and maybe spend not a penny, while I am mustering up the nerve to dump my land line from Ma Bell, bury my Dumb phone, and go hi tech all the way ..

After two or three more chocolate chip cookies. True dark chocolate had to wait.


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