A few more days and we'll be leaving for Japan. We are all excited but I think my youngest son, Sam, and I are the most excited about the trip. I thought it might be interesting to make a list of the things that I am most looking forward to now and then compare it with the things that I enjoyed the most after our trip is over. It's been six years since we were last in Japan so I imagine that there will be some surprises in store for us. 

In no particular order the things I am most looking forward to.

  • yakitori
  • tonkotsu ramen –the best kind of ramen if you ask me
  • Ichiran and Ippudo ramen
  • meeting up with old friends
  • visiting my old stomping grounds
  • walking around Fukuoka City
  • hanami–cherry blossom viewing party
  • karaoke
  • onsen and sento
  • Japanese bathtubs–my in-laws have a great tub
  • gardens–even the small private gardens in people's homes
  • tiled roofs
  • traditional architecture–especially the old, wooden houses
  • all the crazy buildings in the city
  • saké
  • convenience stores
  • bookshops–I am going to buy a ton of manga
  • riding the trains
  • the service
  • eye candy
  • tatami
  • sleeping on a futon
  • visiting shrines and temples
  • eating at yattai in Fukuoka
  • sashimi
  • Mosburger
  • visiting our old apartment in Iki no Matsubara
  • yakiniku


Books Read 2016

Another year and another year's worth of books. I did meet my goal of reading fifty books last year, which isn't very many to be honest. I did a poor job of keeping track of them and managed to leave a few off of my list. I am all about big goals this year, so for 2017 I am aiming to read 100 books. This will include listening to audio books and reading comics if they are of sufficient length; think more trade collections not single issues. I am off to a great start. I listened to an excellent BBC reading of T.S. Elliot's The Wasteland by read by Jeremy Irons on New Year's Day. A fitting poem to start this year for Americans. Anyways here's the list for 2016.

  1. All The Light We Cannot See 1/5/16
  2. Ms. Marvel Vol. 1 /12/16
  3. Bamboo Blade vol. 1 3/9/16
  4. Usagi Yojimbo saga bk 1 3/10/16
  5. Usagi Yojimbo saga bk 2 3/12/16
  6. In Praise of Shadows
  7. Usagi Yojimbo saga bk 3
  8. Usagi Yojimbo saga bk 4 4/5/16
  9. Tokyo Vice 4/10/16
  10. Summerland 4/25/16
  11. The Creeps: Night of the Frankenfrogs 5/2/16
  12. The 47 Ronin 5:21/16
  13. Revenge 5/22/16
  14. The Man Who Gave Up his Name 5/24/16
  15. Legends of the Fall 5/31/16
  16. The Night Parade 6//6/16
  17. Kendo: Culture of the Sword 6/10/16
  18. Usagi Yojimbo Saga vol 6 6/10/16
  19. Usagi Yojimbo Saga vol 3 6/19/16
  20. Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians 6/23/16
  21. The Thief 6/26/16
  22. Skink No Surrender 6/27/16
  23. Skin Tight 7/3/16
  24. Lucky You 7/9/16
  25. In the Heart of the Sea 7/22/16
  26. Hannah's Winter 8/15/16
  27. Barbarian Days A Surfing Life 8/20/16
  28. Before The Wind 8/23/16
  29. Big Trouble In Little China Vol 1 8/24/16
  30. Big Trouble In Little China Vol 2 8/27/16
  31. Big Trouble In Little China Vol 3 8/28/16
  32. Hilda and the Midnight Giant 8/30/16
  33. Hilda and the Black Hound 9/8/16
  34. Hilda and the Troll 9/9/16
  35. Barbarian Lord 9/14/16
  36. Razor Girl 9/19/16
  37. Odd and the Frost Giants 9/23/16
  38. The Everything Box 10/5/16
  39. The Northlanders Vol. 1 10/7/16
  40. H Is for Hawk 10/21/16
  41. The Creepy Case Files of Margo Mako 10/21/16
  42. The Volsung Saga audiobook
  43. The Mouse Guard: The Black Ax 11/10/16
  44. The Forever War 11/26/16
  45. Usagi Yojimbo Saga vol 7 11/29/16
  46. Demon 11/29/16
  47. Tower of Treasure 11/29/16
  48. 47 Ronin 11/30/16

Books Read 2015

I didn't do as well last year in many ways as I had hoped. This includes the number of books I read in 2015. The total came in at a measly 38 books. Yes, I included graphic novels in this list. I also listed individual volumes as multiple books. For 2016 I am aim to read at least 76 books.

Fourteen of the books I read were fantasy. My favorite fantasy new read was Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen. 

  1. HP The Half Blood Prince 1/21/15
  2. Krabat And The Sorceror's Mill 2/12/15
  3. The Bone Clocks 2/19/15
  4. White Fang 2/23/15
  5. A Darker Shade of Magic 3/4/15
  6. The Hobbit 3/19/15
  7. The Last Season 3/31/15
  8. A Drifting Life 4/6/15
  9. Escape From Manuki Island 4/17/15
  10. Under The Cherry Blossom Tree 4/15/15
  11. The Grey King 4/25/15
  12. The Complete Calvin And Hobbes Vol. 1 5/22/15
  13. Bridge of Birds 5/26/15
  14. Stormy Weather 6/27/15
  15. Kill City 7/8/2015
  16. Station Eleven 7/19/15
  17. The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck 8/8/15
  18. TAOT Red Rackham's Treasure 8/8/15
  19. The Yiddish Policemen's Union 8/16/15
  20. A Wrinkle In Time 8/21/15
  21. Crogan's March 8/24/15
  22. Crogan's Vengeance 8/24/15
  23. T Minus the race to the moon 8/28/15
  24. Go Set A Watchman 8/30/15
  25. To Kill A Mockingbird 9/10/15
  26. Crogan's Loyalty 9/16/15
  27. The Deathly Hallows 10/29/15
  28. The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Vol1
  29. and Vol 2
  30. The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion
  31. True Grit 11/3/15
  32. The Water Knife 11/9/15
  33. Wake of Vultures 11/24/15
  34. Wolf Brother 11/30/15
  35. Jade Dragon Mountain 12/9/15
  36. The Map To Everywhere 12/15/15
  37. The Martian 12/19/15
  38. The Buried Giant 12/27/15

Updates Michigan

My wife has a new job in Michigan, which it turns out, is a pretty rocking state. She likes her job although she’s a bit swamped at the moment. We decided to let the boys finish the school year at their current school and we’ll move up and join her this summer.

But I’ve spent the last week up in Michigan with her. I was supposed to be looking for houses and interviewing schools for the boys. N had a short-term apartment picked out, ready to lease before we left, but after I took a look at it we decided that it was not safe. So instead of looking at schools I spent the week looking for short-term apartments.

She is now set and I am writing this in the airport as I wait for my delayed flight. I don’t know how much time I’ll have to write now that I am a de facto single dad, but I will make time to write. I am going to finish the second draft of the big book; my excellent teacher has threatened to go full zombie on me if I don’t! I also have an excellent side project in the works with an awesome pal on Twitter. It’s still on the down low, but there will be a lot of stuff going on behind the curtains as we get ready. So just because there aren’t a lot of new posts here don’t think that I’ve fallen off the wagon already. I’m still writing. Even if you aren’t reading it.

A few thoughts on Michigan. The roads suck. No really. If you’ve never been there it is hard to imagine how poor the roads are. Hint —think post apocalyptic. Oh, well I suppose we’ll get used to them.

There are a lot more Japanese ex-pats living in Michigan than there are in northern Kentucky which is pretty cool for us. N is pretty Americanized at this point, but we eat a lot of Japanese food, most of it home cooked, and there are some great Japanese markets with huge selections of everything from squid jerky -try it with ice cold vodka shots–, to curry pan to fresh octopus and more. I think we will be cooking more nihonryori than ever before.

There are also some great Japanese restaurants. We ate at a couple of them. I had tonkotsu style ramen and a beef bowl at the first place. The tonkotsu was pretty good, the broth was okay but a little on the light side and the noodles were completely wrong but it was still pretty darn good. The second place was an izakaya and it felt almost like we were in Japan. If only they had had tatami mats to sit on it would have been perfect. We had the duck hot pot and it was awesome. We’ll definitely be going back again.
More tk.

Kamo nabe –duck hot pot– at Izakaya Sanpei

2015 Goals

Another New Year Resolutions post. I know, I know and even worse it's a listicle. It’s awful isn’t it? But as you may have noticed in the title these are not resolutions. It’s easy to resolve to exercise more, to finish that second draft of your novel *cough, cough*, to stop having breakfasts comprised of coffee and chocolate chip cookies, but as we all know time marches ever forward and as the calendar moves farther away from January it becomes far too easy for the resolutions of the new year to be thrown on the midden heap along with the Christmas tree and that last bit of fruitcake from your Aunt Agnes.

But these are not resolutions. No. They are goals. An entirely different beast altogether. And I am making my goals for 2015 public. I want to be held accountable, by you, dear reader. And to be sure there will be an accounting at year’s end. Without further rambling here are my goals for this year.

1. Write every day. You’ll notice that I did not say ‘publish every day,’ or even ‘write well every day.’ It is enough to write. Time and perseverance will take care of the rest. Or so I’m told.

2. Finish the middle grade novel that I’ve been working on for far too long. Seriously. I am sick, sick, sick of it. Most of it is still in first draft. The first chapter is finished but perhaps in need of a polish. I want to finish the rest of the damn, smelly, old thing so I can start querying it and write something else. 

3. Get a new personal website up and post to it semi-frequently. See? You’ve already helped me to knock this goal off the list. Ok, we’ll wait till the end-of-the-year accounting before we cross it off the list, but we’re off to a great start.

4. Finish the first draft, and illustrations for the picture book I’ve been working on for far too long. See no. 2 above.

5. Read more books. Thanks to the app I was using on my iPhone to keep track of the books I read–Ita if you are curious– I lost my list. I managed to reconstruct most of it from memory, although I know that there are books that I have left off it. I was surprised to find out that the library does not keep any kind of record of the books one checks out. I mean, I can see why they don’t. It seems like a fairly large privacy issue. You can tell a lot about a person by what they read after all. But still. I would expect that there must be a database with my name on it and a record of the titles I checked out last year. Alas, it seems there is not. From my reconstructed list it appears I read a mere 34 books in 2014. Lets go ahead and round that up to 40 as I’m sure that there are a few books I’ve forgotten. Let’s shoot to double that for 2015. Eighty books. There. I have put myself on notice.

6. Exercise more. I know this is on everyone’s list, but every year it seems harder to do the things I used to do with ease. I don’t want to get too bogged down with this so let’s shoot for 10,000 steps a day and three days a week of squats, pull-ups, curls, and pushups. 

7. Read more comics. For someone who would like to write comics I read an abysmally small number of them this year; about 5-6 titles at best. Let’s triple that shall we?

8. Pitch more nonfiction.