Thursday, May 26, 2011

T FOR TEX-ASS!


Before I forget, this weekend I'll be in Houston, TX. On May 29, 2011 I'll be speaking at the Houston Zen Center 1605 Heights Blvd., Houston, TX. This is also a one-day retreat. All of you people who constantly gripe at me about "why don't you lead a retreat?" here's your chance to stop belly-achin' and come do some zazen.

I've also updated the tour page with a talk in NYC, some more Zero Defex gigs and other talks and things. Go look.

*****

Also remember my new/old book Death To All Monsters is available now as a downloadable eBook or print-on-demand. Here are the links where you can get it:

http://tiny.cc/dgrnx (Amazon)
http://tiny.cc/g38eg (Barnes & Noble)
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/BradWarner (print-on-demand available)


For your entertainment, here is the afterword to the book:

I tend to assume that a number of people who have purchased this book did so because they are fans of my other nonfiction books, Hardcore Zen, Sit Down and Shut Up, Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate and Sex Sin and Zen. Thank you.

I wrote this book between 1996 and 1998. So it predates my first nonfiction book, Hardcore Zen (2003), by several years. I sent Death To All Monsters out to a number of publishers at the time and collected a lot of rejection notices. One publisher expressed some interest and I rewrote the book according to their suggestions. But in the end they passed on it as well. The version you just read contains some of their suggestions but not all of them.

Like my nonfiction books, this one is a true story. But unlike those books it is not a factually true story. I’m not contending, for example, that the Japanese Imperial Army really shot down an alien spacecraft at the end of World War II. That part of the story is made up. But much of the rest of this book is essentially true.

In many ways this novel is almost as autobiographical as my later nonfiction books. Bob Morningstar, the protagonist, is based on me and this is the story of my life working for Tsuburaya Productions in Tokyo, one of the world’s leading producers of Japanese science fiction films and TV shows. Although there was no real movie Death To All Monsters, there really was episode 12 of the TV series Ultra Seven.

Ultra Seven was a Japanese television series featuring a superhero from outer space named Ultra Seven who stood 40 meters (120 feet) tall and routinely battle equally gigantic alien monsters who wished to take over planet Earth. It was a follow up to the company’s more well-know superhero TV show, Ultraman. The monster in episode 12 of Ultra Seven came from a planet whose dominant species had destroyed their own environment in an atomic war. They desired to steal the white corpuscles from human blood in order to heal their dying species. The story and the imagery (see the photo on this page) in this episode proved to be too much like the real story of those who had survived the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So after a few broadcasts in the late sixties and early seventies, this episode was withdrawn from circulation. The other 48 episodes of the series played countless times in reruns and continue to play even today. From the time of its withdrawal, episode 12 was never included on any home video or DVD release and was not mentioned in any official publications. Official episode guides all cryptically skip straight from episode 11 to episode 13 without explanation.

Ultra Seven spawned a following of dedicated and often obsessive fans not unlike fans of Star Trek in the USA and Doctor Who in the UK. These guys really, really wanted to see the mysterious episode 12. The company had in its possession a single print of the show. For reasons I never could quite understand, this print often found its way into really weird places. For a while it was stored in an unlocked locker of one of the employees. At one point it disappeared for several weeks causing major concern within the company. People were constantly trying to get at it as if it contained some sort of bizarre secrets.

Some time just before I started working for the company, my predecessor at the international sales division sold the broadcast rights to the Ultra Seven series to Turner Network Television in America. Unlike me, this guy wasn’t really a fan of the shows we made. He had no idea that there was any problem with episode 12. So he sent the entire series to America.

I got word of this and made a quiet decision not to pursue the matter. As I hoped, the episode was shown on American TV, allowing me to see it for myself when someone sent me a VHS tape. And, of course, that version subsequently made its way back to Japan. By the mid-1990s any hardcore fan who really wanted to see the show could track down a bootleg tape. Yet officially the episode still does not exist even today.

Whenever the subject of releasing the episode came up the company people reacted to the idea in much the same way someone in the US government circa 1950 might have reacted to the notion of supplying the secret of the hydrogen bomb to the Soviet Union. It was dangerous even to mention the idea lest someone believe you were a traitor! I found this highly amusing. Much of that air of paranoia became the basis for the plot of the novel. I wondered what would happen if episode 12 of Ultra Seven really did contain some deep dark secret.

Unlike Bob, I never got in trouble for allowing Turner to broadcast the show because technically I really didn’t. I had plausible denial on my side. It wasn’t me who sent the films to America and it wasn’t my job to monitor what went on after they were sent out. I only learned about the broadcast when a description of the episode appeared in TV Guide and some friends of mine in America who were obsessive fans of the show told me about it just days before the intended broadcast. All I did was to pretend I hadn’t heard.

That was the situation upon which I based the story. What’s also true in this fictional story are the people. All of the characters are based to one degree or another upon people I actually knew. Some have been highly fictionalized. Some not.

Jackie Satsuma is based on my first boss at Tsuburaya Productions, the late Jimmy Ugawa. Ugawa had been in the Japanese Imperial Army during the war. And, although he was not stationed in Manchuria like Satsuma was, another important person in my life was. The Zen teacher from whom I received ordination, Gudo Wafu Nishijima, actually had been stationed in Manchuria where he saw no action at all during the war. Lucky for him. Both men had a deep impact on my life. Gudo makes a cameo in this novel as well.

The character of Charlie Lo isn’t anyone specific but is based on a number of people I interacted with during my time at Tsuburaya. There were a lot of guys in various Asian countries who ran film distribution companies. Many of these people were quite ruthless. The line in the novel about how people would kill each other over the rights to Disney films was something I actually heard from one of my coworkers. I have no reason to doubt it. Some of the people I dealt with were kind of scary and I often wondered how far they would go if they felt their financial interests were threatened.

Even some of the really outlandish characters in this book have real life counterparts. There were American fans of our shows every bit as obsessive as O’Dell and Daisy. There were ex-pats living in Japan just as weird and wonderful as Nick and Emily. There was even an extremely enthusiastic fan in Southeast Asia who built his own completely unauthorized museum of our shows much like the one owned by the fictional Ajrat Gupta.

The story of the people making a Gorezolla film in America is based on real events that took place when Tsuburaya attempted to hire a team to remake Ultraman in Hollywood in the early 90s. The results were a complete catastrophe and the program was never shown in the USA, though it appeared on home video in Japan.

In addition to the people in the story, many of the events contained in this novel actually happened. Some of you will recognize a few scenes that I wrote first in fictional form here and then later rewrote for Hardcore Zen. The scene in which Bob passes out while dancing in a monster costume actually happened to me, and some of the stuff that occurs in temples in the novel actually happened to me at Zen temples in Japan. Most of the set visit stuff is also essentially factual.

This was a fun novel to write. But it took a lot of work. I’d written loads of short stories by the time I decided to write this, but never a full-length novel. In order to keep all the action straight I had post-it notes all over one wall of my apartment so that I would know where each character was and what they were doing even in chapters in which they didn’t appear.

It took a couple of years of daily work to turn that vague idea of making a novel based on the story of Ultra Seven episode twelve into a coherent book. At the time I was working a regular five-day-a-week job, so I had to dedicate all of my free time to the book. It was a massive amount of work. Yet even when the book failed to find a publisher I never felt like I had wasted my time.

I hope you have enjoyed this book as much as I did.

Thanks for reading!

Brad Warner
April 21. 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Two Random Questions and a Plug


RANDOM QUESTION 1:
I have sat with both Soto and Rinzai teachers and I am still debating about which school is the best for me. I was wondering what I should look for in myself to help me decide which suits me better. I realize you don't know me to answer that question, so any advice on how I should decide would be helpful. I am 28 years old and have practiced (admittedly off and on) for 12 years. I am not sure about the outlook of both of these schools when it comes to women and equal rights, I wouldn't think either are misogynistic, however, I would like to know their differences, due to the fact that I am a woman and such issues matter a great deal to me. Last but not least, your books are great, they are down to earth and a great read. I appreciate your writing style a great deal and your straight up answer.

RANDOM ANSWER 1:
There really is no answer as to what the views of the Rinzai and Soto schools are in terms of women and equal rights.

As for Rinzai, there is no real school as such. At least as far as I'm aware, there is no central organizational body. So it would be impossible to determine the school's views on anything at all. You might try looking up the words of Master Lin Chi (aka Master Rinzai). But I wouldn't know where to find anything regarding women and equal rights. These were probably not big concerns in medieval China. Besides that, the Rinzai school doesn't necessarily derive from the teachings of Master Lin Chi in the way that Christianity supposedly derives from the teachings of Jesus and Islam from the teachings of Mohammed.

Dogen Zenji is generally considered to be the founder of contemporary Soto Zen. In 1240 he composed a piece called Raihai Tokuzui, which means roughly "Bowing to What (or Who) Has Attained The Marrow (of the Truth)." In this piece he is very clear that women, children and even animals can attain the truth as surely as any man. It appears to have been written to counter what we today would call sexist and racist views among the monks who practiced under his guidance.

Here is an article I found in a very lazy Google search on the subject. I typed in "Dogen women" and this was the first thing that came up.

Here is one translation of Raihai Tokzui. I just skimmed over it, but it seems like a good one. The scholars who made it are pretty reputable.

However, even this isn't really what you might call the view of the Soto School. I doubt that the Soto-shu headquarters in Japan has ever issued anything resembling an official statement on the subject of women and equal rights.

The book Zen Women: Beyond Tea Ladies, Iron Maidens, and Macho Masters might be useful to answer your question more thoroughly. The book The Zen of Meeting Women probably will not.

RANDOM QUESTION 2:
You describe zazen in the last chapter of Hardcore Zen. In it you say that you don’t need to try and stop your thoughts. You go on to say that straightening your posture should slow your mind. I’m a little confused about this. Is it not a goal of zazen to clear your mind of thoughts?

RANDOM ANSWER 2:
No. The goal (or even "a goal") of zazen is not to clear your mind of thoughts. There is no goal of zazen.

This is the hardest part of zazen practice; that there is no goal or point to it. You just sit and experience what you experience while sitting. That's it.

If you think a lot, then that is the content of your experience. If you transcend all thought and zone out into pure white light or whatever, then that is the content of your experience. Neither one is better or worse than the other. Our habit of defining certain experiences as better or worse than others is the problem.

Of course it's best not to use your zazen as a time to sit and ponder stuff. You are encouraged to let your thoughts go as soon as they appear. But that's not the same as trying to clear your mind of thoughts. Attempting to clear your mind of thoughts is just another type of goal-oriented intentional activity. Goal-oriented intentional activity is always problematic because it separates you from the real moment of the present.


PLUG FOR SHOPLIFTING FROM AMERICAN APPAREL:
The folks who are making the film I'm in, are getting down to the wire in their fund raising campaign. Below is a message from the director.

Note that for a donation of $25 you get all kinds of neat stuff including a DVD of the film, a T-shirt and the soundtrack. I don't know how he's doing this. But it's a really good deal if you ask me. $25 is less than you'd pay for all that stuff if you decided to buy it retail after the movie came out.

Take it away, director Pirooz Kaleyah:

"This is our very first fundraising drive for SHOPLIFTING FROM AMERICAN APPAREL and we are aiming to raise $10,000 for production costs. This includes casting, location scouting, art direction, equipment and crew. Any remaining funds from this drive will go straight to post-production. Almost as importantly, other potential donors and investors will use our success at IndieGoGo as a gauge by which to measure the public appeal of our project, so your donation may be worth twice as much!

"Also, be sure to let everyone know that there are all kinds of PERKS for donating depending on how much one donates. For $25 they get a t-shirt, soundtrack, special thanks credit AND a DVD! For $100 they also get a limited edition chapbook of poetry with contributions from all the writers involved in the film and a movie poster, ETC."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

MANTRA 101


Last time I said:

A good example of this is the way we deal with the Heart Sutra, which is considered by many to be the single most important sutra in Zen, the one that defines Zen as a distinct form of Buddhism. It ends with a whole big long section that says how wonderful this one mantra is and how everyone should proclaim it. I do not know, nor have I even heard rumors about, a single Zen Buddhist who chants that mantra.

When I wrote that I took it for granted that most readers had the same understanding as I do as to what it means to chant a mantra. What I was referring to was the way mantras are chanted in Hinduism and Hindu-based religions.

The Hare Krishnas, for example, chant the mantra Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare over and over and over sometimes for hours on end. In Trancendental Meditation, one is given a mantra by one's instructor guru. One then repeats this mantra silently while one meditates. It's usually just a few syllables long. Repeating this sacred word or phrase is supposed to help focus the mind on the divine. Here's a page that talks about the practice.

I just checked Wikipedia's entry on mantras and it appears that what I'm referring to is "mantra japa," which they define as follows:

Mantra japa was a concept of the Vedic sages that incorporates mantras as one of the main forms of puja, or worship, whose ultimate end is seen as moksha/liberation. Essentially, mantra japa means repetition of mantra,[8] and it has become an established practice of all Hindu streams, from the various Yoga to Tantra. It involves repetition of a mantra over and over again, usually in cycles of auspicious numbers (in multiples of three), the most popular being 108. For this reason, Hindu malas (bead necklaces) developed, containing 108 beads and a head bead (sometimes referred to as the 'meru', or 'guru' bead). The devotee performing japa using his/her fingers counts each bead as he/she repeats the chosen mantra. Having reached 108 repetitions, if he/she wishes to continue another cycle of mantras, the devotee must turn the mala around without crossing the head bead and repeat.

That's what I was talking about. And that is what the end of the Heart Sutra appears to me to be telling us to do with the mantra gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha.

But loads of people wrote in to tell me that at their temple they chant the Heart Sutra every morning or every Sunday or whatever. Yes. This is true. But I've never been to a Zen temple where they chant that mantra more than once.

I suppose one could read the Heart Sutra in such a way that it doesn't tell us to do "mantra japa" with that mantra. But I've never read it that way. I've always thought it was clearly telling us that we should repeat gate gate etc. over and over and over again.

Sorry for creating confusion.

M'kay?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"LA Story" and "Is Zen Nutty?"


I arrived back in Akron, Ohio at about midnight last night. I don't have car insurance. I thought I did. When I was in California I called my insurance company and discovered that my insurance had lapsed in December. Today I'll sign up with another company. But I'll have to drive to that company because this is Akron, Ohio and you can't get anywhere on foot. I hope I don't crash.

We finished filming the Los Angeles scenes of the movie Shoplifting From American Apparel on Monday. The photo above is from the scenes we shot on Saturday on Hollywood Boulevard. The people in the picture from left to right are me, director Pirooz Kaleyah, novelist Jordan Castro who plays "the real Tao Lin" as opposed to me who is (I who am? I whom am?) playing "Brad Warner as Tao Lin," and author Noah Cicero, who I think is basically playing himself.

Also in the film are internet hottie Bebe Zeva, actress Jennifer Angela Bishop, comedian Travis McFarland and James Roehl, who is acting, co-producing, holding the boom mic and all sorts of other stuff.

It's slowly dawning on me that I am playing the largest role in this movie. I play the nameless main character of the novel Shoplifting From American Apparel (this is an excerpt) based on the real-life writer of said novel, Tao Lin. As such, I have the most lines and am the focal character. I'm playing the guy who shoplifts from American Apparel, the title character. I'm glad I didn't realize this until it was too late or I'd have been intimidated to even do it.

Saturday and Monday were the most interesting scenes to film. They were two parts of a scene in which Tao Lin (me) does a reading at Skylight Books in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. It's one of my favorite bookstores in LA in spite of the fact that they turned my publicist down when she tried to schedule a reading for me there and I didn't see any of my books on the shelves (though I have seen them there in the past). Are you reading this, Skylight Books people?

Tao's reading is attended by Audrey (Bebe Zeva) and Jeffery (Travis McFarland). Tao is trying to get with Audrey. But Jeffery keeps hanging around and may, for all Tao knows, be Audrey's boyfriend. Tao doesn't care and keeps acting like a dick to Jeffery to try to get rid of him. Eventually this works and Tao bags Audrey. But the next morning he is cold and distant to her. It's clear the whole thing meant nothing to him and she is hurt by this.

I suppose I should have put "spoiler alert" before that explanation since it's a key scene near the end of the film. But by the time the movie comes out most of you will have forgotten this, I hope.

Anyhow, I had to play this character who goes through this stuff. The weird part for me is that I have been in situations somewhat similar to this. Every writer has, especially those of us who are single. You meet fans of your preferred gender who seem to be attracted to you. But often they're with someone else.

In my case I have all this Buddhist morality shit hanging over me. When I'm in that situation I deliberately try not to interfere with people's existing relationships. I don't think it's right to do so. And I know that my own life will also be improved if I behave in a way that is morally sound.

But I found myself having to play a character who does all the things I am often very much tempted to do but don't do. It was difficult overcoming my own inhibitions and becoming this character. It was even harder playing the scene in which I had to be cold and distant to "Audrey" the next morning. As Bebe (playing Audrey) got more and more into character I began to feel worse and worse about myself. Even though it was all completely fictional, and even though there were all kinds of people with cameras and microphones and all kinds of retakes and so forth, as I said the lines it began feeling real. I was getting cotton mouth during the shoot.

I think a good actor gets a sense of what Buddha meant when he talked about the unreality of the permanent self. In order to act out a scene as a character you have to drop your attachment to the person you think you are and, at least for the duration of the scene, become someone else.

It's funny how easy that can be once you find the ability to drop who you think you are. There seems to be a corner you can turn or a switch you can flip after which you just slide into being this other person. After a few hours of shooting I found I had to make a certain degree of effort to return to my normal self.

As Mr. Spock would say, "Fascinating."


***

In the past week I have received three different variations on the same question. There must be something in the air. The latest goes like this: "I guess my first questions are 'does Zen Buddhism have any crazy and hard to digest stories and ideas behind it? how much does it differ to other forms of Buddhism? And if these stories/concepts/mantras exist in the Zen world, do you take them with a pinch of salt?'."

The answer about crazy and hard to digest stories is yes and no. But mostly no. In Zen there is no importance attached to matters of belief. What you believe is largely irrelevant. Belief is just more stuff that your mind does. It might have some relevance, but only in terms of how your beliefs affect your behavior. There is no God or Buddha or anyone else who gives a shit one way or the other what you do or do not believe.

That being said, there are as many weird hard to swallow stories associated with Zen as with any other religion. The Lotus Sutra, Dogen's favorite sutra, has passages in which Buddha does all kinds of crazy miraculous things like shooting beams out of his forehead and suchlike. The koans have stories about people transforming themselves into animals or chopping off other people's fingers just to prove a point. If you took that stuff literally it would be pretty much like any other religion.

The great thing about Zen, though, is that there is never any pressure to believe any of this stuff. You can take it any way you want to. Very few Zen people take most of it literally. Gudo Nishijima used to be adamant that it was all metaphorical, especially the references to reincarnation.

A good example of this is the way we deal with the Heart Sutra, which is considered by many to be the single most important sutra in Zen, the one that defines Zen as a distinct form of Buddhism. It ends with a whole big long section that says how wonderful this one mantra is and how everyone should proclaim it. I do not know, nor have I even heard rumors about, a single Zen Buddhist who chants that mantra.


***

Cool?

OK. Also remember my new/old book Death To All Monsters is available now as a downloadable eBook or print-on-demand. Here are the links where you can get it:

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/BradWarner
http://tiny.cc/dgrnx (Amazon)
http://tiny.cc/g38eg (Barnes & Noble)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

CELEBRATE THE RETURN OF CHRIST WITH ZERO DEFEX!


As everyone knows by now, Jesus Christ will begin the Rapture in which all the faithful are taken up to Heaven on May 21st. In honor of His second coming Zero Defex will play a special show on that final day on Earth for all the faithful on May 21st at Annabelle's Lounge in Akron with Don Austin, Cheap Tragedies and Weird Penis. The show is free.

So, since this is the final day for Planet Earth as we know it, I recommend that all of you in far flung places spend your last savings to come see us rock out the Rapture. How better to spend your final hours if you're one of the faithful, or to prepare for seven years of torment and the coming reign of the Anti-Christ if you're not?

Here's a preview of what to expect that day:



For more on the second coming, check out this article from LA Weekly.

For those of you with pets who want to know what to do with Fido or Felix or Crackers the parrot after you are taken up to meet Jesus in the air, we recommend Eternal Earthbound Pets or After The Rapture Pet Care. These kindly atheists have set up organizations to lovingly care for the pets of the faithful after Jesus calls their owners home.

Filming on Shoplifting From American Apparel has been going nicely. Yesterday we shot a whole bunch of scenes on Hollywood Boulevard near Vine. Weird homeless-looking people kept trying to walk into the shots. We had two guys tell our director they would pray for him to go the Hell because he wouldn't give them some of the granola bars he'd bought for the actors and crew. We had a human beatbox try to beatbox his way into the production. Oh the fun of Hollywood!

I'd try and think of something Zen to say. But I gotta go now.

I'll see all of you on May 21st!

THIS JUST IN

Pics from the Shoplifting From American Apparel shoot:

http://shikow.blogspot.com/2011/05/hollywood-shoot-shoplifting-from.html

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tonight at Against The Stream, Saturday Zen & Yoga, Death To All Monsters


Tonight, May 12, 2011 (Thu) at 7:30 pm I'll be speaking at Against The Stream 4300 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA. I'll talk about Buddhism and Dogen and sex and zen and the Three Stooges. So be there!

On Saturday May 14 there's a Zen and Yoga one-day sesshin at the Hill Street Center 237 Hill Street in Santa Monica, CA. This will be led by Nina Snow. Nina's one of my closest friends and an experienced Yoga teacher and Zen practitioner. She'll lead a one-hour Yoga session suitable for all levels of experience at the beginning of the day (10 am) followed by zazen until around 3:30 pm. I'm going to see if I can make it. I'm not sure at this point.

Why am I not sure if I can make it? Glad you asked! It's because on Saturday I am filming scenes for the movie Shoplifting From American Apparel, in which I am arguably playing the main character. I say arguably because the character I'm playing, author Tao Lin, is being played by no fewer than three people, of whom I am one. This will be a very fun and funny and weird movie. If my scenes finish early enough and if I can get a ride out to Santa Monica, I'll be at Hill Street Center before things wrap up there. If not I won't.

My talk on Tuesday at the Ventura Buddhist Temple was a whole big bunch of fun. I thought it came out pretty well. The folks in Ventura are always a good audience. They participate actively in the discussion, which is what I always look for.

And it was a gas for me because someone brought along a printed copy of my new/old book Death To All Monsters! for me to sign. That was the first time.

For those who don't know, Death To All Monsters! was my first novel. It was completed in 1998 when I lived in Japan and worked for Tsuburaya Productions. The book is available as a download or print-on-demand at the following websites:

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/BradWarner (print-on-demand available only here)
http://tiny.cc/dgrnx (Amazon)
http://tiny.cc/g38eg (Barnes & Noble)

The downloadable e-book is only a mere $5! How can you pass up a bargain like that? The answer is you cannot.

Here's what the book is about:

When Bob Morningstar started working for Nakajima Productions, Tokyo's leading producer of trashy man-in-a-rubber-costume monster-on-the-loose movies he had no idea the job would involve danger, international espionage and the possible destruction of all life on planet Earth. Bob has a problem. It seems he sent Death To All Monsters, the legendary “lost” film starring Gorezolla, Emperor of Monsters, to Shanghai by mistake.

What’s the big deal? Death To All Monsters, like every other Nakajima Productions movie, is a juvenile fantasy about the giant monster Gorezolla battling it out with one of his warty rubber enemies. But it’s a very big deal to Bob’s boss, Junichi “Jackie” Satsuma, chain-smoking, dirty joking veteran of the Japanese Imperial Army who treats the only surviving print of the legendary “lost film” like it was the sort of classified document he used to deal with during the war against the Yankee pigs. And it’s a big deal to the Joe Tortelli, president and CEO of Great Destruction Productions, Nakajima Productions’ LA based US distribution arm, a man with shady connections to the secret services. And it’s a matter of major importance to Charlie Lo, thoroughly sleazy self-styled Ted Turner of Hong Kong in whose hands the missing movie has mysteriously ended up. How exactly did that happen? Could it have anything to do with BJ Cheng, Nakajima Productions’ “China expert” who seems to spend most of his workday doing the Japan Times’ crossword puzzle? What’s his relationship with Charlie Lo, anyway? And just what is in this movie that makes it so damned valuable to everybody?

As if that’s not enough, Bob’s girlfriend Keiko is kidnapped by a couple of half-crazed monster fans. Their demands are simple; release Death To All Monsters to people of the world, all of whom are dying for a glimpse of this classic piece of Japanese trash science fiction. Then there’s the little matter of Bob’s close encounters with a certain “alien being” who just happens to resemble a man in a cheap rubber costume. The alien tells Bob that Death To All Monsters contains secrets of cosmic importance, secrets that could lead to mankind’s total destruction.

Now Bob must undertake a journey through the wilds of Hollywood, the jungles of Tokyo, the mazes of Hong Kong and the slums of Calcutta to get the movie back and save his girlfriend… Or die trying.


It's fiction. But it's all true.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Nobody Loves Me (But My Mom)


Happy Mother's Day to all moms living or dead! Here's a song for you! It's Nobody Loves Me (But My Mom) by The F-Models, one of my favorite Akron/Kent bands of the early 80s. Enjoy!

And if you're in Southern California you can enjoy hearing me speak at the following places next week:

May 10, 2011 (Tue) 7:00 pm Ventura Buddhist Center 901 S. Saticoy Ave, Ventura, CA 93004
May 12, 2011 (Thu) 7:30 pm Against The Stream 4300 Melrose Ave Los Angeles, CA

Note that the appearance at Against The Stream is on a Thursday (May 12) not a Wednesday as is their norm. So don't show up on Wednesday and be all like, "D'oh!" But do show up on Thursday because a lot of the regulars might not be there and I need all the support I can get!

And speaking of support, don't forget about my new/old book, Death To All Monsters, which is now available as a handy and dirt cheap download from the following places:

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/BradWarner
http://tiny.cc/dgrnx (Amazon)
http://tiny.cc/g38eg (Barnes & Noble)

For those coming out to the talks in So Cal, I have printed up ten (10) copies of the book and will have them for sale there. These are super ultra limited and amazingly rare. So get them while you can!

This was my first novel, which I was unable to find a publisher for at the time. It was an attempt to write a real Zen science fiction novel. As opposed to a sci fi novel by a guy who has read a bunch about Zen but has no clue what the actual practice is like. The Zen bits are scattered throughout the text and never call attention to themselves.

Plus it is a rollicking good story! I was scared when I first dug this up a couple years back that it would turn out to suck. But it's actually really good. Way better than a lot of crap out there that does get published.

This is Hardcore Zen before there was Hardcore Zen.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Selling Out, Osama bin Laden, and Fuck Mother's Day


There you have it folks, the stub from my most recent bi-annual royalty check from New World Library. Check out those numbers! That's $1, 615.58. There is no misprint. I received one thousand six hundred and fifteen dollars and fifty-eight cents. This represents six months worth of royalties for three books. That's half a year's pay. So all you people who write me emails about "how you make a buck" or assume I am getting filthy rich off my book sales take a good long look. This will probably be the largest royalty check I receive in 2011.

There's a handy donation button to your left if you want to help supplement that (or click on the words "handy donation button").

Needless to say I am now in the process of looking for a "real job." This means that I most likely will not be touring in 2012. I've still got a bunch of live gigs left this year, so see 'em while you can.

***

People keep asking me what I think of the recent death of Osama bin Laden. The fact is I don't think about it a whole lot. One guy said:

“I woke up this morning and read the news headline about Osama Bin Laden finally being killed. My first reaction was, ‘It's about Goddamn time -- thank you!’ Does this viewpoint/emotion have a place in Zen?”

I don't even understand the question. Whatever viewpoints/emotions you have are just your viewpoints and emotions. It's not as if the Zen Committee is out there somewhere deciding which viewpoints are acceptable and which are not.

Another email I got went like this:

“Just wanted to ask your opinion about Osama Bin Laden's death. Many here in Europe, including me, are sad that people are actually celebrating Osama's death. I can understand 9/11 issue and all, but celebrating Osama's death like some baseball game? A human being is a human being, even he is a mass-murderer. I understand killing Osama but I don't understand celebrating it. Celebrating someone's death is just barbaric. There are no excuses for it. Although I'm a peace activist and Buddhist, as a human being, killing someone or someone's death is not a happy thing. Never, ever.”

The same person sent me a photo that shows Palestinians celebrating the collapse of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. 2001 next to photos of Americans celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden and asks, "What's the difference?"

I have to say that there is a monumental difference. Those Palestinians were rejoicing in the deaths of thousands of people whose only crime was showing up for work on a Tuesday morning. The Americans were celebrating the death of a man responsible for the attack on the World Trade Center and several other mass murders, a man who would have gone on to murder as many more people as he possibly could had he not been killed.

(And yes, lots of the Palestinians in those photos from ten years ago were little kids who didn't have any real idea what they were cheering about. I do not consider those photos to be in any way representative of most Palestinians, and certainly not of the Palestinians I met and befriended last year in Jerusalem or of Arabic people in general.)

There seem to be two permissible responses to the death of bin Laden. One is to hoot and holler like it's some kind of game your team just won. The other is to sit around and write thoughtful essays about how the celebrations speak to the violent nature of blah-blah-blah....

I don't find either response particularly useful. I didn't like bin Laden and I'm glad he's dead. He was a truly awful human being and it was right to kill him before he inspired more mass murders. Yeah, I know, maybe he'll be seen as a martyr now. So what? And yes, terrorism and the conflicts between the West and the Arab world will not end with his death. I don't think even those revelers in Times Square with their big-ass flags imagine it will. And yes, violence is not good. But sometimes there really is not any other way to deal with certain problems. And this was one of those times.

I think some of the revelry is stupid. But it's to be expected.

And that's how I feel about that.

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I am now officially fed up with Mother's Day. This is just my personal feeling since my mom is dead. I'm tired of getting emails telling me the things I ought to buy for her.

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Anyone want to hip me about how a person goes about getting into grad school? Do they make a "Grad School For Dummies" book?

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How do you like the new look for the page? It blows, huh? I'm workin' on it...