Basic Instincts

Last week I wrote a “neutral” report about the contents of the Tokyo Motor Show, today though I’d like to explain, why I would never ever pay for a Tokyo Motor Show ticket by myself and go there voluntarily.
While there are of course many people going to car shows because of the vehicles, there is also a tribe of (male) people who don’t give a rats ass about cars, but who go there with the sole purpose of taking photos of pretty young women in short skirts.
These people are male, ugly, many of them are a bit older, and I find it simply disgusting to see these drooling farts eagerly shooting pictures of pretty women with huge, fat, expensive, compensating for something cameras.

There is a lot of talk at the moment, finally, about hordes of men in the show business and elsewhere abusing women sexually. You don’t have to look at Hollywood for that, it’s everywhere.
I stood at the booth of my company for only one afternoon and I’ve seen enough. There was a dude, ugly, in his fifties, slimy, drooling, fat camera, who was talking to one of the miniskirt girls with her laughing embarrassed. I am very glad they were too far away for me to hear what they were talking about…
Another creature, same description as above, but a different guy, tried to “get in contact” with one of the girls by having printed out a still he had shot of her… Yet another creature, same description, different guy, printed out the girls’ names (dunno where he got them from) and gave them attributes: Sexy XX, beautiful YY, sultry ZZ. Then he made them pose for him holding up their big lettered printouts……. I could have vomited.

As long as the human society is tolerating such behavior, as long as car show producers work with sexy girls, as long as we pay women for doing such things, there will be sexual harassment. For the women at car shows it’s of course easily earned money and some of them looked like they were truly enjoying the attention, teasing and playing with the drooling creatures. But the thought of what these creatures do with the photos, the thought of one or the other of them masturbating onto print outs for example… Humans are still ruled by instincts and we are not too far away from our animal brethren…
And now I need a drink.

Tokyo Motor Show 2017

The Tokyo Motor Show for passenger cars happens every two years and the last time I’ve been there was 2009 (OMG! ;-)) 2009 definitely wasn’t a good year to go to the Tokyo Motor Show because it was right in/after the financial crisis and all non-Japanese car makers had pulled out and the Japanese ones had minimal booths spending as few money as possible.
By the way, I’ve never been to the show as a private person, only when I had booth duty for the company I work for. This year I volunteered to do half a day of booth duty on the last day of the show, a Sunday and went a bit earlier than I had to to take a look around.

In 2009 there were also very few visitors, but now 2017 things have long returned to “normal” for such a show. It was well visited but not painfully crowded either.
Non-Japanese car makers have returned, but not too many actually, well, only the ones that actually have some sales in Japan.
Zero US car makers and from Europe only French and German. Peugeot and Renault were there, then Mercedes Benz, Audi, VW, Porsche (of course), BMW. The Italians = Ferrari didn’t bother.

But let’s put things a bit into perspective here. A colleague told me that for example at the Shanghai Auto Show there are 2000 exhibitors (!), at the Tokyo Motor Show there are 180… well, but one has to consider the market size of course too, 120 million, who have maybe the world’s best train system, vs. 1.4 billion people in China.
The motto of this year’s Tokyo MOTOR Show was: Beyond the Motor… eh? Interesting concept to make the motto of a “motor” show “beyond the motor”.
That topic was supposed to suggest that the car of the future is your “extended living space” where you can do something else than drive thanks to highly or fully automated driving dreams. It also had the undertone though, at least for me, that the times of the combustion engine are coming to an end. Almost everyone showed automated driving concepts and electrical vehicles of whatever sort.

I have at length described my problems with driving a car in this blog during the years when I still rode one, thus I am a front row customer when it comes to a fully automated car.
I want something like this: Once I am retired and live on the Japanese remote island of my choice 😉 I want to take out my smart phone, open an app, call/order/book a car and it comes (without driver) to my apartment at the designated time and I hop in and say: car! Drive me to the beach/the supermarket etc. and when I get off after the car has driven itself to my destination the fee for the ride gets deducted from my credit card via the app. So please, dear automotive industry: make it so until I retire! 😉

Loud Park 2017 Day 2

I started the second day of Loud Park with the opening act Cry Venom, a new formation which plays “neo-powermetal” whatever that is 😉 It sounded more like hard rock to me.
What was in the time schedule listed as a “secret act” turned to be the band Black Earth comprised of former and current members of Arch Enemy with male vocals.
Next up the Japanese hard rockers Outrage and I watched them from the arena half that was waiting for Apocalyptica.

Is a Finnish cello quartet playing instrumental heavy metal. This time they played Metallica songs. While it is amazing what these guys do with their cellos and while it is also amazing that you can headband while playing cello it’s tough to whip the crowd into action without vocals and cellos. It was interesting and I enjoyed it, but I do need vocals to get excited about something 😉
I took a bit of a rest and lunch during Japan’s Loudness, another 80ties heavy band that fiddles a bit too much with the guitars for my taste.
Devin Townsend Project sounded interesting, but I made the mistake to google him and landed at a devastating article which was not very kind to the gentleman and wondered what the heck was that all about 😉

Black Star Riders
Every year Loud Park has some rock band that in my opinion does not belong into the line up because it ain’t metal. This year it was these never heard of before Black Star Riders. They consist of old and new members of Thin Lizzy. Now that’s a band whose name everyone knows. Anyway, they were much much too soft for my taste.

Cradle of Filth
Right after the soft Black Star Riders was a bit of a shock 😉 I was already in the arena to try to get a good place for Sabaton and was close to the mayhem 😉 Cradle is a gothic metal band from the UK and they dress up nicely 😉 Despite my obligatory ear plugs I was struggling, since Dani Filth has an incredible falsetto that can shatter your eardrums. There was one Japanese girl head banging constantly and I just found it amazing that she doesn’t fall over!

After the cradle, I managed to grab a spot at the inner balustrade and had a good side view at what was going on on the other stage for Meshuggah. I saw them once at Brutal Assault in 2013 and they freaked me out a bit, but while still freaking me out, man these guys can play. They have a very clear and powerful sound that you can feel in the mark of your bones. Extreme metal from Sweden by the way.

Then the personal highlight of this year’s Loud Park – Sabaton. It was only their second time in Japan and both times they played at Loud Park. For the first Loud Park in 2015 many people had not yet heard of them here and the crowd was rather neutral with a few excited people who already knew about them. Meanwhile though, more Japanese have heard about them and the arena was madness. People pushed for the stage and you got squeezed from all sides. I was very happy for my spot at the balustrade. The Sabaton “virus” has reached Japan. That was probably also why they did not signing session for Sabaton unlike the first time, since their presence at the signing booth might have caused a panic. While they sang my favorite song Carolus Rex in Swedish the first time around in 2015, they did me the favor to sing it in English this time ;-). It was amazing, but now you can’t watch Sabaton even in Japan anymore without the crowd freaking out 😉
Well, I thoroughly enjoyed it and the Japanese crowd did too.

I must admit that I left Loud Park after Sabaton and did not see the Gene Simmons Band and Michael Schenker Fest anymore. Frankly, both are “too old” for my taste and I had the long ride home etc. to consider.
Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the 2017 Loud Park again and am already looking forward to what kind of line up they’ll have next year!

Loud Park 2017 Day 1

Every year in autumn there is Loud Park, Japan’s biggest heavy metal festival in the Saitama Super Arena.
I went every year since 2012 and this year as no exception. As (almost) every year it was raining for Loud Park and hallelujah that it’s indoors! 😉
On Day 1 I saw the following bands: Beyond the Black, Anthem, Brujeria, Opeth, Overkill, Alice Cooper, Emperor, Slayer
Not bad for one day 😉

Beyond the Black
Is a young German band founded only in 2014 with a female vocal. They do symphonic metal / power metal. I saw the in Wacken just two months earlier and liked their sound. They are a bit “soft” for my taste but make up for that with good melodies that stick in your head.
A nice opening for my Loud Park weekend!

Is an old school Japanese heavy metal band originating in the 80ties in Tokyo. I saw them a couple years back at a former Loud Park already. It’s lovely, no frills, classic heavy metal. The 80ties flavor comes a bit through at times, but these guys can still rock!

Is quite a different beast. Extreme metal from Mexico. They’re not exactly easy listening and their shouting style reminds me too much of hip-hop, but these guys are brave and male no secret out of their political stance. They don’t exactly like the USA and especially not Agent Orange. They made us sing “Fuck Donald Trump” and the Japanese crowd and myself were happily sining with them!

Is a progressive metal band from Sweden and while they were interesting, they are a bit too “elaborate” for my taste with too much “fiddling”, if I may say so. I had always wanted to see them though, which is now accomplished and I shall leave it at that.

Is an American thrash metal band and I already saw them on the boat this year (70,000 Tons of Metal). They were also formed in the 80ties, but yeah, there is still a damn lot of power in these guys. They are fun to rock to.

Alice Cooper
Needs no introduction. Man, I saw the guy for the first time in the 90ties and then he was already old. The gentleman is 69 years old, by the way. I also saw him in Wacken just two months ago and he did the same show in Japan. Albeit, somewhere revealing a pretty katana, which I cannot remember from Wacken 😉 Alice, you’re a legend and it’s always a pleasure to see you again.

Is a black metal band from Norway formed in the early 90ties. They disbanded and got back together several times. A Japanese friend of mine (who is a huge black metal fan and plays herself in the band Sungoddess) had come to Loud Park (which she hasn’t done since 2006 (!)) mostly to see them and we went together into the arena. My friend feared the crowd would go berserk for Emperor, but they were rather quiet and we stayed in the back of the first arena block where it was nearly “empty”. Well, that gave us the opportunity to watch them in peace. Emperor was good, but I found them a bit “sterile” is that’s the word and maybe that’s also why the crowd did not freak.

Needs no introduction either. They love Slayer in Japan and they are coming to Loud Park every two years or so 😉 It was my third time to see them there. I was never that close before, afraid of the berserking crowd 😉 It was okay though in the other arena half and man, has that guy an amazing beard 😉

Day two of Loud Park with the highlight Sabaton: in next week’s blog entry.

Japan Writers Conference 2017 Report

It’s been a while since I attended the Japan Writer’s Conference, but since it happened in Tokyo this year, I was able to go for one of its two days.
It was great to meet some old friends and acquaintances.
The seminars were a pleasure to attend and a nice distraction from the day job.

The first seminar I went to by Marie Orise dealt with the “downdraft” and the “updraft” of a work of fiction. The downdraft is the first draft, the updraft is the refining, self-editing part of the fiction writing process. Marie made a poll concerning who has more trouble getting the story on paper and who has more trouble refining it. The audience was divided nearly fifty-fifty. I definitely belong into the category of finding the updraft harder to do. I have no problem at all getting a story written. But then refining it, oh my, what an act.
Some hints from Marie what to look for in the updraft were:
If something doesn’t “spark joy”, delete it.
Delete mundane details, no matter how much you like them.
Sometimes it helps to keep the three unities of theater in the back of your mind: The unities of action, place and time and to streamline your story with their help.
Always ask yourself what you want to say, how much of it and in what order.
I shall keep on struggling with the updraft and thanks for the tips, Marie.

Hans Brinckmann did a great seminar on how he turned his WW2 memoirs into two publications and it was fascinating to listen to his memories of when he was a twelve year old boy in Nazi Germany occupied Holland. It’s been a while since I listened to an eye witness report from WW2.

SciFi trilogy author Eli K.P. William’s topic was author voice and other voices like the narrator’s or the characters’ voices in a work of fiction.
Especially since I’m writing in a foreign language, I think it’s difficult to acquire a distinctive author’s voice. I was especially grateful for Eli’s tips on how to make your different characters sound less “the same”. His suggestions were: make “rules” for each character what kind of words they use (e.g. Someone has a Scottish accent), major characters have “dialogue tags” (e.g. Someone says “Oh Lord” all the time and you know it’s that guy speaking and you don’t need an “Z said” so often.), vary the rhythm of speech, imagine characters voices in your head while you write and edit, never let your character say something that’s obvious to the others present (also known as the “as you know, Bob” phenomenon. ) though sometimes this is very tricky, when you have characters explaining essential plot things to each other.
Let’s see if I can implement that into my future stories 😉

The last seminar I attended was on how to get an anthology together. Susan Laura Sullivan and Suzanne Kamata presented their long journeys as anthology editors and I admire the persistence and stamina they had in putting these anthologies together. I especially liked the cover of Susan’s anthology. That’s one nice display of muscles which I’d like to have 😉

The evening dinner had a special feature to offer too, five writers, including the author Peter Marsh, performed songs for a musical Peter wrote. Now that’s something you don’t get to hear or see every day! Congrats to a great performance!

Even though the next Japan Writers Conference will be held in Hokkaido, I hope to be able to attend!

The Wasen Festival

Autumn is beer festival time in Southern Germany and of course the whole world knows about the October Fest in Munich.
More or less at the same time as the October Fest is the “Wasen” in Bad Canstatt next to Stuttgart, which is the same as the October Fest only a bit smaller.
Wasen means wiese by the way and wiese is the German word for lawn. Also the October Fest is known as the “Wiesen” among locals.
On the lawn you put up beer tents and merry-go-rounds, raffle ticket booths and food stalls and there is your festival.

I’ve lived in Munich for a couple of years and thus of course know the October Fest quite well, but the Wasen in Stuttgart could be even handled as an insider tip, since it is apart from its smaller size an exact copy of the October Fest.

I went on the weekend during my business trip to Germany together with an old university buddy of mine and we went on a Sunday afternoon, which should have resulted in large crowds but while the festival was well visited, it was not crowded and there were no significant queues anywhere and you got a table in the beer tent without a problem.
I don’t know why the Wasen was so “empty”.

While I didn’t go on any of the rides, I did enjoy the food around and the atmosphere. Even my little home town had a fun fair like this every year, if without beer tents. The rides, raffle ticket booths and the food stalls haven’t changed really over the years.

What has changed is security. At the entrance to the Wasen were guards and they checked your rucksacks and made you throw away soft drink bottles… more security before entering a beer tent and the guard there was complaining of the size of my rucksack and making an “exception” letting me in with it. It’s sad that the world has come to needing security guards for a fun fair.
Thankfully, nothing happened and my liter of “Radler” (“pale” beer with Sprite) was very good 🙂

A Bit of Ireland

I moved on by bus again to Ireland and arrived in Dublin in the afternoon, did some exploring of the Trinity college and a garden with a statue of Oscar Wilde before heading home for a short home-stay at a friend of mine who happens to live in Ireland. He lives in a suburb of Dublin called Celbridge and that was my base for the last few days of my trip this summer. He was super kind and took a day off to show me some sights, the only downer was that it rained the entire time. All in all it was my only day in Ireland and Scotland with constant rain and thus I guess I can consider myself lucky, since it does happen to rain loads in both countries.

We drove out into the Irish mountains for a look out to a lake then went to Glendalough which has two things to offer, the ruins of a church and monastery which is from the 13th century and two more beautiful lakes. Despite the rain, we rounded the smaller lake and took a look at the bigger one.

Especially the bigger one is very scenic and even in the rain and mist it looked beautiful. After lunch at a very Irish pub, we drove on to the coast and in the wind and rain the Irish Sea was quite rough for its usually quiet standards. It looked great but we soon left the beach again due to high winds and lashing rain.

On my last day in Ireland, I went to Dublin again on my own and did the Guinness storehouse tour. I am not a beer drinker at all but it was interesting to see the storehouse which explains how Guinness is made and is being very modern and smartly arranged for a “museum” like that. Your entry price includes a pint of Guinness and I managed to drink a quarter of it, which is a personal beer drinking record of mine, hahaha.

Next I went to the Dublinia museum, which tells the history of the city of Dublin starting with a Viking settlement and ending with an exhibition of how archeologists work. The museum is right next to the Christ Church of Dublin which started to exist in this spot since almost a thousand years ago. It has a nice crypt with a strange highlight, a mummified cat and a rat. It appears that the cat was chasing the rat and both got caught in a organ pipe where they starved and died sometime around 1850. They mummified there and when the organ was repaired a hundred and fifty years later the tragic pair came to light.

I greatly enjoyed the Ireland trip which had just the right mix of nature sights and history. Apparently most Irish are okay with the north-east being not a part of their country, but thanks to the Brexit idiocy a lot of problems are ahead for the people in the region. At the moment there is a soft border and you can come and go from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland as you please. It is weird enough that you have pounds in the north and miles and when you drive into the south it’s suddenly Euro and kilometers. It remains to be seen how the British want to deal with the soft border after Brexit but in my humble opinion, as mentioned before, Brexit is the stupidest thing the British have ever done and the people of Ireland won’t have fun with its self-made disaster.

A Bit of Northern Ireland

I was very happy about my hotel choice in Belfast, the Holiday Inn, since it was right in the city center and only a few meters away from the bus tour pick up point and the bus stop to Dublin. The bus tour down to the Antrim coast was great and we had big luck with the weather, some rain before and after the major attractions and sunshine in between. The bus stopped at the Dark Hedges, a row of magnificent trees used for several movies and TV shows, the most famous of them being Game of Thrones. Much of Game of Thrones is shot in Ireland and there are entire bus tours themed around the series, which reminded me a lot of the bus tours through New Zealand back in the day when the Lord of the Rings hype was at its peak 😉

Next up was the rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede, where we had an hour and fifteen minutes of time and you needed them to get there and back due to a queue at the rope bridge, the coast is very beautiful and also a nesting place for seagulls.

After lunch in a Game of Thrones themed restaurant, the journey went on to the Giants Causeway, a formation of hexagonal rocks. There is one just like it in New Zealand too. They are formed by lava hitting the cold waters of the Atlantic or the southern pacific.

The rocks look fantastic but too many people were there. It’s a world heritage site and more or less the most popular destination in Northern Ireland. Last but not least the tour led to Dunluce castle ruins, which look quite spooky even from a distance.

All in all it was a great tour quite comparable to the Scottish Highlands trip. I did not see too much of Belfast, but then again, Belfast is the youngest city of Ireland and not spiked with ancient history. I regret a little bit that I had not enough time for the Titanic museum, but one can’t see everything 😉

From Scotland to Ireland

Instead of flying, I decided to use ground transport to get from Scotland to Ireland. I wanted to go by bus to the ferry port but those buses were fully booked and ended up going by train. The train journey was less stressful than expected, since it was Sunday morning and rather empty and the two transfers in Glasgow and a town called Ayr were less of a hustle than I had thought. However, arrived at the end point, a place called Stranraer, I faced troubles going the last ten miles or so around the bay to the ferry port in Cairnryan, which has no train access.

Stranraer and Cairnryan are tiny villages with NOTHING there. The ferry is basically made for people with cars. At the station in Stranraer is nothing. Not even a taxi booth. A family had booked a taxi and it came to pick them up and I asked the driver if he could help me to call another cab or whatever. After some back and forth he packed me into the car as well, which I was very grateful for. It was a bit ridiculous. You can see the ferry at the other side of the bay, but how to get there??? I was not aware of the tinyness of Stranraer 😉

I made it to the ferry port all right and was one of the very few people checking in by foot. I had a nice chat with an elderly security guard before they let me into the waiting room. The ferry is fairly big and was booked out to its capacity limit, I suppose. Thanks to a fine day one could see the coasts of Ireland and Scotland and also the Isle of Man and several other Scottish islands during the two and a half hour ride.

Arrived in Belfast things were a bit easier thanks to the size of the town and a public bus came to the port to pick up the few pedestrians without cars. Apart from the hustle to get to the ferry, it was a nice trip and I enjoyed my time on a large boat.

A Little Bit of Scotland

After two days with the family in Germany, I headed on to Scotland. I visited England several times to go to London, Brighton and to Bloodstock heavy metal festival, but so far I had not made it to Scotland yet. Arrived in Edinburgh by plane from Cologne I felt like arriving in Tokyo. The town was packed with people for the Edinburgh international festival that on top of everything celebrated its 70th birthday. Frankly, I had not even known about the festival before I arrived. I went to the Edinburgh castle in the afternoon of the arrival day and thus did everything I had wanted to do in Edinburgh and escaped the crowds into the hotel. 2017-08-09 15.15.16
That hotel wasn’t a real hotel but a brand new student dorm vacant over the summer and not lived in yet by students. The rooms and facilities were all brand new and thus it was a pleasant experience. I was to spend four nights in Scotland and had booked two tours with a tourist bus company. A two day tour to Inverness and back and a one day tour visiting Stirling castle and a distillery. The Inverness tour was great. We drove over the highlands, visited some castles and famous Loch Ness. I had deliberately chosen a small bus with only 16 passengers and there was a lovely crowd on board and the guide was great too.

The highlands are very beautiful and at times reminded me a bit of the Great Plains of Mongolia. However, the highlands are more rocky and the mountains are higher too. 2017-08-10 09.36.24
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In Inverness I stayed in a sweet little bed and breakfast and two American ladies from my bus stayed in the same place. We went out together for food and spent a few minutes in a pub with live music. On the way back to Edinburgh we visited Culloden battlefield and mysterious Neolithic stone circles followed by a whisky distillery. That one delivered mostly to big whisky brands where the stuff gets blended and wasn’t so super interesting to be honest.
The one day tour led me to Stirling Castle, which is where Mary Queen of Scotts was born and it lies beautifully on a hill with 360 degree views and it was well visited but less crowded than the Edinburgh castle.
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Over country roads we went to Loch Lomond which is ripe with sailing boats and a holiday destination. Last part of the day was “real” distillery, Glengoyne, still in private ownership and originally Scottish. I still am not a whisky fan, the stuff is too strong for me and I prefer my port wine, but it was interesting to learn how whisky is made.
Apart from the too full Edinburgh, which is a city of 700,000 people and not laid out for double that during festival times, I thoroughly enjoyed the Scotland trip and got what I wanted, some old castles and beautiful landscapes.

A word on politics. Both tour guides were Scottish and greatly in favor of Scotland leaving the U.K. and becoming their own country. The desire for independence from the U.K. was freshly renewed after the Brexit idiocy. The most recent vote for independence was held before Brexit happened and both Scotsman said they are dead sure that if the vote had been held after the Brexit decision, it would have looked different. I don’t know how representative those two guides are of course, but they both said that many of the 52% who voted to remain in the U.K. were scared by propaganda that the U.K. said “you guys cannot survive economically without us”. Now though the sentiment is even worse, since at least those two Scotsman think they cannot survive without the EU but can well survive without the U.K. Both were totally against Brexit and said that Brexit was the stupidest thing the British have ever done. I find myself agreeing with those two guides. Get out of the U.K., Scotland and remain in the EU!

Wacken 2017 Report

After three times you can start to call it a tradition to go to Wacken Open Air festival. Two British friends of mine and myself have been going to Wacken every other year in 2013, 2015 and now in 2017. The first Wacken was superb, nice weather, hot, only a bit of rain on the last day and a tiny bit of mud. Our second Wacken was mud-hell with constant rain a week before the festival, constant rain on the first day and knee-deep mud. 2017 Wacken greeted us with only a tiny bit of mud and spirits were high until a flash flood in the afternoon of the first day, which I would like to call Odin’s Wrath. Everyone got wet to to bones and the holy ground of Wacken turned into a mud battle equal to the one of 2015. 2017-08-04 10.13.41
Nevertheless it was a great festival, because it’s Wacken 😉 I wonder what makes Wacken special. I have been to quite a number of festivals by now, Artmania in Rumania, Sziget in Hungary, Nummirock in Finland, Brutal Assault in the Czech Republic, Bloodstock in the U.K., Vagos in Portugal, Loud Park in Japan and the 70.000 Tons of Metal on the high seas. The only two festivals that have this special flair and air about them are Wacken and the boat (70.000 Tons of Metal). They are, for one, both truly international festivals, on the boat as well as in Wacken there are people from all over the globe. There are people from Australia, North and South America, Asia, all over Europe. They are (almost) all happy to be there and that they can enjoy their favorite music together with like minded people. This Wacken or 70.000 Tons atmosphere is special and no life stream can compensate for it. You gotta be there to feel it.
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A small highlight for me was the Grave Digger gig, which was excellent, 2017-08-04 15.27.25
but the big highlight was seeing one of my favorite bands, Amon Amarth live for the very first time. Despite them being super popular, I managed to sneak into the first row at the left hand side of the stage and it was a blast to see them live from a first row for the first time. Tons of crowd surfing interrupted the experience, but hey, that’s part of an Amon Amarth gig.2017-08-05 20.38.47
I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am looking forward to my next time in Wacken. For me the next time will be already next year, since I cannot stand to not go to Wacken if my number one band Amorphis is playing there 😉 Unfortunately, my two British friends will not be able to join, but we already made a pact to go again in 2019. It will be weird to go to Wacken without the boys next year and I still have to figure out a hotel and a means of transport, but it’ll work out somehow 😉

The Road to Wacken and the Rest of Europe

In three days I’ll be on the road again and I’ll have a full program. At first there will be Wacken, baby, Wacken. That’s where the world’s biggest heavy metal festival happens. It’s a tiny town in German’s most northern state of Schleswig-Hollstein, just below Denmark, and once a year the population of the town swells from 5000 people to 85,000 people when the metal heads fly in. It will be my third time at the festival and I’m looking forward to it mightily.
I just hope the weather will be better than the incredible rain and mud battle from two years ago.
On I’ll go to visit my sister and my Dad for two days and then I will fly to Scotland, since I’ve never been to Scotland yet. I’ll go on two bus tours in Scotland visiting lochs and castles and whisky distilleries 😉
Then on goes the journey via ferry to Ireland. Two nights in Belfast and two nights in Dublin with more bus tours and castles and scenery.
I have decided on this trip rather than going to the World Science Fiction Convention in Finland, because frankly, the convention would only frustrate me. I’ve had enough of aloof agents and publishers and more or less frustrated authors running around begging for attention between a few established authors who get all the attention that the newcomers and nobodies would need. I still want more people to read my books, but I’ve had it with having to do things I don’t like doing for that.
My time is too precious to waste it with crap I don’t wanna do. I love going to places I haven’t been to yet. I wanted to go to Scotland since kinda forever and that seems to be a much much better thing to do than hanging around on a convention that will bring me zero joy.
The weather will be a challenge though! It’s been over thirty degrees for nearly every day in July in Yokohama and now I’m going to places where it’s barely twenty during the day. It feels weird to be packing warm clothing tomorrow 😉
So, beautiful cliffs, green meadows and whiskey, here I’ll come and relax my neck from the highly welcomed headbanging in Wacken before that. It will be a great pleasure to see Amon Amarth for the very first time! (Yeah, I know, unbelievable, but I’ve never seen them yet!) And I’ll see Grave Digger again and Alice Cooper and Powerwolf and and and. Raise your horns, metal heads and rejoice in the holy land of Wacken!

And Then There Were Three

I just received the proof copy of Jeronimo and all looks fine. So I pushed the publication button and the novel should be available on Amazon worldwide within the next few days.
The trio looks good! 🙂

For Jeronimo, the Keeper’s tower is actually in the center of the picture, but since the picture bends around the spine, just looking at the cover, the tower seems off center. But, I kind of like it because the centrist world of Jeronimo is about to be unbalanced mightily by the course of events 😉

The trio looks good from every angle and it also shows the mightiness of the Anatomy of Anarchy, which is a bit longer than its two brothers Dome Child and Jeronimo 😉

I’m already looking forward to add number four to the bunch – I’m writing it right now. The fourth Dome of Souls novel will be called “Red Angel 42”.

I’m now working on the Kindle conversion of Jeronimo. Let’s see how long that will take, since the process seems to be changed compared to a year ago. Well, it’ll work somehow!
In the meantime I’ll have a juka2 (I wish) and enjoy the ride.
Happy birthday, Jeronimo!

Twenty Years of the “Dome”

As long as twenty years ago, I had the first idea for the “Dome of Souls” series.
It all started with the world of Jeronimo, and twenty years on, the story will finally see the official day of light. It has changed a lot over those twenty years.
Here is the gorgeous cover by Katho Sensei.
Jeronimo started as a television series screenplay, became a role playing game for a few session, then continued as a screenplay.

After Jeronimo, I wrote (in screenplay format) it’s prequel The Anatomy of Anarchy, which saw the light of day last year, then I wrote two sequels, which are not yet published.
Next, I abandoned the whole series and switched from screenplays to novels. I wrote the pre-prequel of Jeronimo, the Dome Child and published it in 2011.
After Dome Child came out, I thought I was done with the Dome for good and turned to other stories, some of which have been published under my name, others under a pseudonym.
But then, in around 2014, the Dome bug bit me again. This story has been with me my entire adult life and it wanted to make its way out into the world. This time I stayed in chronological order and completely rewrote the Anatomy of Anarchy without even looking again at its old screenplay version. I highly enjoyed writing the Anatomy and it flowed very well. I published it exactly one year ago, then turned to the center piece, to the idea and world that started it all and I found rewriting Jeronimo to be a tough job. Maybe half of its original version was scrapped.
In the next few weeks, I’ll proudly publish the new Jeronimo, twenty years after its first version. Many of its characters feel almost like real people to me. I know them for twenty years! Most of all the protagonist of course, Jiroemon, or short Jiro. Jiro actually did not change too much from his original version, but the story around him changed quite massively over the course of time. He’s like my younger brother, kind of 😉

At the moment I am rewriting the Jeronimo sequel from scratch, which is also a tough exercise, since the Jeronimo sequels have to change a lot after the changes applied to Jeronimo. But I’m getting there, I think, 200 pages of the first Jeronimo sequel are already written. At the moment six Dome of Souls novels are concretely planned, three and a half are written. Considering writing time, I might be finished with the Dome of Souls series after twenty-five years. Well, only five more to go and twenty behind me.
Good luck out there in the big world, Jiro, I hope a few people read about you 😉
It truly does feel like I’m releasing my little brother who I cared for and nursed twenty long years out into the wild!
And when you read Jeronimo, you will finally find out why my homepage is called juka-productions, some ten years or so since it came into existence. 😉

More Movie Reviews

Loved it. The aging superhero whose every joint hurts was a new twist not seen before. I’m a huge Patrick Stewart fan and it was hard to see Xavier go. At times it was a bit of an overkill with all the suffering and hats off to Hugh Jackman for suffering through two hours of movie time 😉 The little girl was wonderfully annoying. So, if there are sequels in demand, here is your new set of x-men and x-girls. It was a mature movie for not only aging super heroes but also the audience who aged with them 😉 Great piece and a long lasting series has come to an end, maybe.

Guardians of the Galaxy II
Hm. It was fun, yes, and I enjoyed it, yes, and I even squeezed out a tear for Yondu, yes, but I kinda had expected more after the hype that the second guardians movie is supposed to be soooooo good. Hm. Yes, it was good, but it wasn’t epoch making. While Kurt Russel was great as the nasty Ego, the appearance of Sylvester Stallone totally threw me out of it. He just doesn’t belong into that universe! Lol. The wicked golden lady was fun though and I hope we will see more of her in the movies to come. Maybe I was also a bit “bored” by Gamora and Nebula reconciling. That made it so normal, so American, somehow, family is our greatest value and all that blah. It felt like: because they had to kill off Star Lords daddy, they needed to confirm the American family values via reconciling Nebula and Gamora. I found them hugging pretty damn lame. I was also annoyed by the pressing on the lacrimal glands for Yondu. The dude is a killer, who just wasted half of his former crew in the most brutal fashion and then they make you cry for him. I didn’t like that manipulative side of the second guardian movie. It was fun, yes, but not as fresh and mean as the first one, being watered down by too many traditional “values”.

Assassin’s Creed
Let me say I found this movie watchable. I’ve never played the game and cannot judge whether it represents a fair image of the game. Michael Fassbinder is a cool guy though and managed to pull it off. Jeremy Irons is always lovely, especially as the bad guy. The movie won’t go down in the annals of history, but if you wanna switch off watching some action for two hours and pretty people, it’s fine.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
I apologize to all Star Wars fans, but the movie bores me out of my mind. In my defense, I’m more of a Trekkie than a Star Wars fan. But come on, what was new about this movie? Nothing. It was a replay of “a new hope” kinda with other heroes and bad guys. The space battle was more or less the same that we have seen in previous Star Wars movies. The bad guys were copies of other bad guys from previous movies. I also found it disturbing that the movie was entirely humorless. Further, you knew at every instant what was going to happen next. While I’m interested in the continuation of the Luke Skywalker plot, this was just a complete remix of stuff we have seen before.