Sunday, September 21, 2014

Religion, the final word

I have long tried to explain why I am an atheist/agnostic/whatever-you-wanna-call-it.
So far, that has usually led to long, convoluted discussions or even arguments with friends or co-workers, simply because i failed to somehow get my point across.
So here it is, another, and hopefully final, attempt:

All religions have the same inherent flaw: they all derive legitimacy from only one source, their god. but this god only exists in the sacred texts of that particular religion. So the Christian god tells his followers in the Bible that he is the only real god, but his followers made up the Bible in the first place. How can a fictional character you created give you any sort of authority in the real world? It's like saying that Gandalf is real because Tolkien has him say that he is real in the Lord of the Rings, and then in the next chapter Gandalf declares Tolkien to be his pope.
All religious works were of course written by men, and not by gods. men invented the gods, and then these inventions declared that they were real and that we should serve them. It is beyond absurd.

A god in the biblical sense (or in the sense of any other religious work) simply does not exist. Period.

But is there a god in the sense of a creator? An entity that created the universe?

I am not going to pretend to be intelligent enough to carry on a discussion about how a creator could have created the universe out of nothing, or whether there was simply never a beginning to the universe (thus eliminating the need for creation), but I do know one thing: the existence -or lack of existence- of such an entity has absolutely no impact on my life.

So why spend time thinking about it?
Curiosity, of course; just as I would like to know who Jack the Ripper was.
But would knowing change my life?

Hell, no.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Another "Tetsuya" update

I have decided not to pursue a specific schedule with "Tetsuya" anymore. It will be done when it's ready. Period. Anything else would be dumb, because I want this book to be good. So you'll have to be a bit patient, alright? Anyway, here is a tiny little update, not much really, but I hope you'll like it.

"There are some problems that stay with you. Forever. You run and you run and you run... and then you run some more," he almost whispered the last words. "But they stay with you. And all you can do is pretend that it doesn't matter, that everything is alright; but at night, when you're tired and you can pretend no more and you're filled with this cold and grey emptiness... then, all you can do is numb your pain with whatever medicine you have. Some drink. Some put needles in their arms. I kill. It's what I do. It makes me feel alive."

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Half Distance

I feel alone in the world, with no real friend
I hate people, or is it myself I cannot stand?
Music and whiskey are welcome distractions
But dear Mister Daniel: I need a stronger blend

Lived through 3 dozen years of misery and pain
Half distance reached, but do I want to do it again?
Another 3 decades worth of failure and regret
No matter when I go, the ending's always the same

Wouldn't have made it this far without rock n' roll
If I had one I'm sure it would've saved my soul
Sabbath, Maiden and Priest make me live in the now
When the past mercilessly threatens to take its toll

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tetsuya: an update and a preview

Well, for some time now (about 3 years, actually), I've been working on my first novel. It's a vampire story set in Japan, and it stars a samurai, Tetsuya, who is turned into a vampire during a fateful battle. Faced with the prospect of eternal life, he travels the world in search of answers, as he also tries to deal with his own need to kill people in order to live.
I am now in the last stages of rewriting and proofreading all the material I have, and I believe that I will finally (!) be able to complete this thing by January. So, here's a little preview for you. If you like it, be sure to share this post with your friends, because I could always more fans. :)


Hiroshima, 1994
It was a cool October night in Hiroshima. The leaves had begun to turn, the days had become shorter. It was cold outside. Inside the massive Hondori mall, a young woman named Keiko has just finished her shift in a small but upscale shoe store. Hondori was Hiroshima’s signature shopping mall; a unique construct in what was in many ways a typical Japanese city. Hondori did not consist of a single, large building; it was an entire city street that had been covered with a richly illuminated and beautifully decorated roof. It was always filled with shoppers on foot or on bicycles, and many tourists browsed through the varied shops. The small shop in which Keiko sold fashionable footwear to the wives of office workers who wasted away the hours in the nearby office towers was located toward the east of the long shopping street. She herself was now headed west, to the Hondori station of the Astram train line. The train would bring her to Ozuka, to the west of Hiroshima. Downtown Hiroshima itself was located on an island in the Ota River, but Ozuka was on the mainland. Ozuka station was only 8 kilometers from downtown, but the Astram line’s commuter trains circled the city: first the line went north, and then in one giant half-circle it came down again on the western mainland. Keiko walked briskly toward the train station, she longed for a warm meal, a warm shower and an even warmer bed. Tomorrow was Saturday, and she could sleep in. She smiled. In her hurry, she did not notice the tall, thin figure that was silently following her. This was not the first night on which she’d had a stalker; the creature had been watching her for some time. It had noticed her slender frame, her small yet perfectly shaped breasts, her elegant face, her graceful demeanor. It had noticed all these things from the safe anonymity that the crowds in Hondori afforded it, and it had grown hungrier each day.
It followed her to a small noodle shop. It waited patiently near a bike rack until a small bespectacled man handed her a bag containing soup. She continued on her way, hoping to catch the 9:21 PM train. The station had only opened a few months before, and she was glad that she no longer had to take a bus to get back to her apartment. The train saved her a lot of time, and it was usually on time. The creature followed her onto the platform, blending in perfectly with the myriad other travelers. Once a long time ago, it had preferred to approach its victims directly, fearlessly. These days, the police made it ever harder for it to satisfy its hunger, and it was forced to stalk its prey carefully. It had to be careful not to leave fingerprints. It had to be smart. But it also had long lost the nerve to look into its victim's eyes when the moment came; it needed drugs to calm its nerves. If Keiko had turned her head toward the creature, she would have seen the two enormous teeth it bared as it smiled at her. But she was looking in the other direction, hoping for the impeccably clean gold and black train to appear soon. The ride to Ozuka would take about half an hour, and she'd walk a few minutes from the station to her apartment. She saw the light of the train approaching and readied herself to fight for a seat with the other passengers as it slowed down in front of the platform. She waited for the hiss that signified the imminent opening of the doors, and pushed her small body inside. She found a seat, and after scanning the other travelers she closed her eyes, tired from a long, boring day at work. The creature, meanwhile, stepped into the very same wagon as her, but she still didn’t notice it. It was dressed in the smart businessman uniform that so many Japanese office workers wore: a black suit, a white shirt, and an unremarkable blue tie. It had a clean-shaven face, a shiny bald head, and was quite tall. It gave no indication that it was anything other than a typical Japanese office worker, at least not to the casual observer. Had Keiko given the creature more than a passing glance, she would have noticed that it never blinked. She also hadn't paid any attention to the ice chest the creature was carrying. It was filled up with ice cubes and was quite heavy, but the creature seemed to handle it as easily as if it were made of paper.
The train began to move, and the creature managed to find a seat. It bore no ill will toward Keiko, but knew that it would have to kill her. It was going to drink her blood and eat her heart. That's just the way things were. The way things had to be. Why Keiko? Why not someone else? Well, that was complicated. Back in the old days the creature could have simply taken a victim in the night, and no one would have suspected it. Life -and death- were easier back then. These days its need to be careful had driven it to seek out people who lived alone because it was easier to kill loners, and because no one would miss them for a while. It had to subdue its instincts, and perform clean kills. It had to be methodical, precise. This didn't prevent it from enjoying its victims in other ways, which was exactly why it almost always chose young women to be its plaything, but there was something else about Keiko, something that it couldn't quite understand, and that unsettled it. As the train pulled out of the station, the creature thrust its index finger into its inner jacket pocket. When it removed the finger it was coated with a fine white powder, which the creature quickly rubbed onto its gums. Soon the drug would be flowing through its veins, soon it would feel lighter... it wondered what Keiko's blood would taste like and, knowing that it still had some time before the train reached its destination it let its head fall back against the window. Its thoughts drifted back to a time before cocaine, before trains, before ice chests, before shopping malls, before, before, before...

Hiroshima, 1672
Tetsuya hated early mornings with a passion.
"Procrastinating is of no use," his wife said without an ounce of compassion. He smiled at her as she handed him his armor. They'd been married eight years now, and he was as much in love with her as he'd been back then.
"I know, Emiko, I know. Asano wants us all to be there early, so I've got no choice. I'd much rather stay here with you... " Emiko glanced at her husband. He was handsome, his thick black hair framing a  face that at the age of 26 had lost none of its boyish charm. She hated for him to leave her so early as well, but he was right: he didn't have a choice. His daimyo, or Lord, had declared war on a rival, and as his master’s soldier he had to go into battle. ‘Why do we always have to do these things early in the morning?’ he wondered as he drank some water. He splashed the remaining water on his face and then he opened the thin bamboo door that separated his humble dwelling from the world outside. His look fell upon the courtyard right in front of his hut; usually it was bristling with activity, farmers selling or trading their wares, warriors bragging about their exploits, women gossiping… but not today, and certainly not this early. The sun had yet to rise. Presently the courtyard was overfilled with soldiers; samurai, who illuminated their gathering place with torches and waited silently and patiently for the arrival of their master. Tetsuya left his home and mingled with the other samurai, each of whom was accompanied by his most prized possession: a magnificent sword. A few quiet greetings here, a few nods of the head here, time to find a good place to stand, and then daimyo Asano was there: a short, stocky man, maybe about 45 years of age. He wore a scar on his face, in witness from a past battle. His armor was far more exquisitely detailed than Tetsuya's. His sword was the biggest here, truly befitting his station, for a daimyo was a rich man who owned a lot of land and employed the samurai who lived on his property, and he never let them forget that he was their master and benefactor. The samurai, in return, protected his lands and his people from rival daimyos. Daimyos often fought each other for more land or political advantages. In theory they were all citizens of the greater Japan, under the control of His Majesty, the Emperor; but he was just a figurehead, a boy of barely 7 years, and the real power lay with the Shogun, the Imperial War Lord.
Asano stepped onto a small platform in the center of the courtyard, and addressed his warriors: “Men! Samurai! Our honor has been insulted! A daughter of our clan has been violated” – Tetsuya knew that she had not in fact been violated, she had merely decided to see someone from another clan, but the truth didn’t matter when a lie could be exploited for political or financial gain- “and it is our duty to avenge this infamy! We will begin at once! We will march toward Akinakano, encircle the main houses, and assault the town from all sides at once!” The perhaps two thousand men assembled in the courtyard of Hiroshima Castle erupted into cheers and began the trek toward the forest, from which they would stage their assault.
About an hour and a half later Tetsuya glanced over at his friend, Shigeru. They were in position on the far side of the village they were about to attack. Their force numbered about 800 men, and Asano had remained with the main force of about 1200 on the near side. The daimyo would signal them when it was time to commence their assault.
“Nervous, Tetsuya?” Shigeru inquired.
“No,” Tetsuya lied.
Shigeru smiled knowingly. Soon their lives would be on the line, and no matter how well prepared they were, no one could ever foretell the outcome of a battle. They had an advantage now, in the darkness, but once that was gone the enemy would fight back.
The signal came, a burning arrow splitting the night with its fiery glow. Tetsuya, Shigeru, and the rest of their force lunged forward, swords drawn. They were a fearsome sight, with their facemasks sculpted to resemble wild beasts and demons. Their tough leather armor protected them from the simple weapons of the villagers, but Tetsuya felt uneasy as he ran toward the first row of houses. Too often he had lost friends in battle; too many times the blood of boys who were barely old enough to kiss a girl had been spilt. ‘Why do we keep doing this’, he asked himself under his helmet as he ran. ‘Why can’t we all just live in peace, there’s enough land here for everyone.’ He knew the answer: because the daimyo had ordered it. Of course his power was merely based on people’s beliefs that he did in fact have power; if people stopped believing then he would stop being their leader… but alas, the masses always swam with, and not against the stream, and if they perceived the majority to follow the daimyo then they would, too. His thoughts were rudely interrupted by a villager who had appeared out of nowhere; he had undoubtedly been awakened by the commotion of hundreds of armored men running through the narrow streets. The man was dressed in the simple garb of a farmer, and was wielding a pitchfork. He screamed at Tetsuya and his comrades, and Tetsuya skillfully danced around him, turning his back towards him, and plunging his sword into the man’s neck in the same movement, neatly severing his head.
The battle had begun.

 I'd appreciate any comments and suggestions! 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Random musings about cars

So, I'm finally getting around to getting my driver's license. A bit late, I know... but better late than never. Or so I keep telling myself as I cry myself to sleep each night, thinking about that empty space in the garage.
Completing the driver's training program here in Quebec takes a whole damn year, so that gives me time to contemplate what kind of car I want. Not being rich (you bastards need to buy more of my books), I will have to get either an econobox or something used. Since I'm not a fan of things that scream "poverty" at the top of their lungs, a Hyundai Accent or Chevy Spark are out of the question. So a used, bigger car it shall be then.
But what?
I only have a short commute to work, but I'd like to travel a bit. I need reliability and legroom (being 6'3"). I want something good-looking, and preferably something that not everybody else has. No Accord or Camry, please. Gas mileage is also of concern; what good is a car when you can't afford to go anywhere in it?
So I began looking at Prii. A decent late-model Prius can be had for less than 12 grand; they look different, the interior has a nice sci-fi feel to it, and mileage is impressive. But they have no soul. They are appliances, like a microwave. Very impressive pieces of engineering, but there is no joy in them. Why would I want something that makes it decidedly difficult to enjoy driving?
Many people of course do buy a Prius, and then can't shut up about how they are so much better than the rest of us because you know, they are single-handedly saving the environment. That, however is a lie. Even if a Prius consumed no gas at all and were powered by the hot air escaping from its driver's mouth, it would never make up for the tremendous amount of energy and resources that are spent building any new vehicle. If you were to buy a used Hummer, a vehicle that already exists out there in the world, you'd be doing much more to save the environment than a guy who just bought himself a new Prius. A Hummer driver might indeed have issues with the size of his penis, but a Prius driver has issues with the size of his brain as well.

Of course, used Prii already exist and the gas savings would be nice, but I wouldn't want to be mistaken for an enviro-moron. Luckily for me, my casual browsing through various car auction sites revealed that one can now buy a Corvette C5 (1997-2004) for well under 20 grand... And Mustangs (2005- and up) go for below 10 grand... Why would I buy anything else? Why would anyone? I mean, if you've been afflicted by the terrible illness known as "kids", then you need something bigger. That is the price you pay for having cheaped out on rubbers.

Another option I looked at is hearses. Not newer ones, but older, body on frame, early 90's Cadillac monsters with rear wheel drive and big engines. They are only lightly used (the trip from church to the cemetery is usually a short, slow one), offer lots of space, and they're bloody cool. A black Caddy hearse, lowered, with a sound system and a mattress in the back (for uh, napping on those long trips) would be niiiice. But they're terrible on gas and difficult to insure. And spare parts for the bodywork are very hard to get, since they're low-production volume cars.

Ah, decisions, decisions. I got another year before I pick something.
Got any suggestions for me?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A poem

The River
Still hurts when I see your face somewhere
Thoughts of your grace still linger in the air
No other woman has quite the same flair
Your cruel absence drives me into despair

Sitting alone in this cold, empty place
Wondering who could fill this space
You left in what seemed like a race
And you disappeared without a trace

You found another and you moved on
My sorrows I drown in Walker's John
Oh where, oh where has my love gone?
I used to have joy, but now I have none

My life must go on, as hard as it seems
Though I still see you in nightly dreams
But no longer I cry and painfully scream
For new love I look in life's raging stream

- This poem is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, "Reflections", which will be available on Amazon, Apple's iBookstore, and other online bookstores in the next few weeks. Follow me on for release info!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The verdict is in

The verdict in George Zimmerman's murder trial is in: not guilty.
Celebrities (always quick to grab the spotlight), civil rights leaders (just as quick) and ordinary folk are outraged.
How could Zimmerman get away with murder?
Well, he didn't. He's free because he's legally innocent.
A lot of people will stop reading now and write angry rebuttals and personal insults in the comments section; but to those of you who can control their emotions long enough to finish reading this article: I congratulate you.
Emotions make people upset, and they forget facts. They exaggerate rumors and hearsay, and then believe in the lies and myths that they helped to create and spread.
A common myth is for example that George Zimmerman is a racist. People believe that he called the police on that night to report a "black man" walking through the neighborhood. This is actually how NBC first aired a recording of the police call, but they edited it so that it would show Mister Zimmerman as having a racist motive. The actual, unedited police transcript shows that Zimmerman reported a suspicious person, was then asked if that person was white, black or hispanic by the police dispatcher, and only then answered that the person in question was black.
Zimmerman himself has black family members, identifies as hispanic. His neighbors and coworkers have nothing bad to say about him; and a black acquaintance - Joe Oliver, TV news reporter- said "I'm a black male and all that I know is that George has never given me any reason whatsoever to believe he has anything against people of color."
It is also known that Zimmerman was unhappy with how the Sanford Police were treating the case of Sherman Ware, a black homeless man, who was beaten by the son of a Sanford police officer in 2010. On a recording of a January 2011 community forum (well before the Martin shooting), Zimmerman can be heard condemning the Sanford Police Department and its former chief Brian Tooley. Zimmerman said that Tooley had engaged in a cover-up and should lose his pension. Later in 2011, Zimmerman distributed fliers with details of the case in the local community to get more people involved.
These are not the words or actions of a racist.

Another fact, verified by one of Martin's friends at trial, under oath, is that Martin referred to Zimmerman as a "creepy-ass cracker." If anyone was racist here, it wasn't George Zimmerman.

Yet another fact is that only Zimmerman suffered wounds during the struggle with Martin; only he had cuts and bruises. these were on his face and on the back of his head. Martin meanwhile suffered no wounds, except for the fatal gunshot. Does that not make it obvious that Zimmerman was being beaten up by Martin, and not the other way around?

So does this mean that Zimmerman's actions were reasonable? No, not in my opinion. He should have stayed in the car. He should have waited for police. And if he hadn't had a gun, he might just have done that. But in a country where people take 9mm pistols with them when they go to buy milk, "reasonable" isn't something that you expect. Zimmerman had apparently only bought a gun (in 2009) to fend off a pitbull that sometimes ran through the neighborhood. Seriously, the man bought a gun because there was a dog running around in his neighborhood! Now, dogs have never been friends of mine, but I think pepperspray or a taser might have done the trick, don't you? Imagine what would have happened if Zimmerman had tasered Martin? He'd still be here, and Zimmerman's life wouldn't have been ruined by a very public trial.

And if you can imagine that, imagine a situation that you could reasonably face in America where a taser would not be enough. Dark parking lot. Bank robbery. Break-in. Do you really want to kill somebody?

Think carefully, because if you answer "yes" you might find yourself in the same position as George Zimmerman one day. A position that you'd deserve.