Monday, June 12, 2017

Sexless in the City

When it comes to Japan I've only lived here for two years and am no expert on the problems in this country. However, I've seen one issue with my own eyes and it's not just that they call bald people skinheads.

Yeah, there's a nationwide consensus it's what you call bald people because in katakana their word for bald is スキンヘッド pronounced su kin he do. 

Katakana is their version of English, so Japanese people believe English speakers also call bald people skinheads. They have other terms, but this is the agreed upon one everyone uses.

A few times I've told Japanese friends, "Just say bald."

"That's offensive," for some reason they believe. 

"No," I would argue as someone bald and Jewish. "Calling someone a neo nazi white supremacist is what's offensive." 

It's so difficult to explain 
this is a skinhead:


This is a bald guy:


These are thirty minute conversations that often still go misunderstood. The listener's mind is blown and they still say "su kin he do" in Japanese like it's not offensive. 

I digress. 

Although my one desire is Japan stop referring to people with shaved heads as neo nazi white supremacists by some kind of countrywide mega language barrier fumble, this topic is about a real problem in Japan.

In recent years Japan has been worried about the decline of their population's birthrate. 

People here are very concerned. General fear is there won't be any Japanese people in a few hundred years. 

Blame goes to overworking and women being treated unfairly. 

True and true. 

However, a larger reason is people in this country are afraid of sex. 

As someone who has taught jr high school and high school, I know the most education on the topic is as follows:

"This is a condom." 


"You shouldn't have sex. If you do, use one of these or you will get aids and die a painful, slow, death." 

There's a cute character of some kind explaining it in Japanese and that's the end. 


What happens? 30-year-old virgins here cringe from the very word "SEX."

In Japan you try to have sex with someone who likes you and you've been on three dates with, and they will probably say, "No. I'm pure," (whatever that means), and will be afraid to go out again from fear that you two might have:

They want to text and talk for months before maybe holding hands and then becoming a couple like they're in some 1930s classic film. Nothing's wrong with courtship for the right reasons. When you have to do so because of fear, it's unhealthy. 

Sex is the purest action two people can do together. In Japan the masses don't want any part of it. Of course there are exceptions. 

They have a saying here:
"The nail that sticks out should be hammered down," which is why you might meet a lot of foreigners like me who say Japanese people think in one way. 

Most of them believe you work, maybe get married and have kids somehow magically, then die. 

One way to solve the decline is to educate their young on sex before they're too old and stubborn to take action. 

Don't just teach about one disease in a vague way and show a cute bear to trick people to think one way. Teach the positive aspects on the sexual, beautiful body that people have an inherited right to explore. Let them decide for themselves.

Often the best way to find stuff out is to ask people involved what they think. As a writer, I questioned a grown Japanese woman, asking her opinion on older virgins in Japan, why people were afraid of sex. 

She was too scared to talk about it. Yes, scared of even talking about sex. This was a freaking bartender! Where I'm from these are some of the most foul-mouth people on the planet. Here, bartenders think about Disneyland and Doraemon


Hey, who doesn't love Doraemon?

Anyway, I told a friend this point on Japan's population decline. He remarked, "They have sex education. It's called anime and manga."

A funny joke, yet in actuality anime and manga teaches you the following about sex:

If you find a woman attractive, you're a hentai: pervert! 


If you tell a girl she's beautiful, you're a pervert.


If you think about sex, guess what, you're a pervert.


Much like the problem with Japan's whole country believing you call bald people "skinhead," they just won't change this false ideology. 

Sexualizing someone in this country is considered perverse and wrong. This is why they're trapped in a downward spiral of self-destruction and population doom. 

It's a shame. Japan is one of my favorite places in the world. The people are fun and friendly. I'll smile at strangers and they smile back. If you lose something, i.e. money, it'll probably be returned because they're an honest society. The customer service in most establishments is so great it's from another planet. 

I'd argue it's better here than in most other places for several reasons. Yet they won't survive if they continue to think about sex as perverse and impure. 

Europe had the sexual revolution. 


In the States they have prom to secretly promote procreation to the young. Don't tell.


Japan has had no sexual revolution and there are no proms or dances. Instead they separate boys and girls during all sports activities and almost any chance they get. Girls on one side, boys on another. 


And men and women follow suit into adulthood. I'll often see a group of three men and three women on dates in a large group. The women sit on one side of the table talking to each other and holding hands. The men do about the same on their side. Meanwhile everyone casually ignores the opposite sex.

In my jr high school days in Texas we had girls on the football team. In the first high school I taught at in Japan a girl told her teacher she liked baseball. He corrected her, "You like to watch baseball, because girls play softball."

She didn't argue.

It's natural to be shy around the opposite sex. Here people accept segregated, sexless, shy traits as if this was the way of the world. 

Then you have all of these grown ups walking around thinking sex is scary, weird, and unnatural. They have festivals to make light of sex as if it's some sort of unspoken thing you joke about at parties:


One could toss the problem onto the laps of married couples and say they don't have time to raise more than one or two children or there's not enough childcare. Yet there are still thousands of virgins in this country who are terrified of sex and say they'll die before they try it. 

The lack of sex education needs to be addressed; otherwise, the problem of population decline will steadily rise. 

To be frank, Japan is fucking itself by being overly chaste.   

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Friday, May 12, 2017

How to Write an Author Biography

(Image from flickr)

Author biographies aren’t standardized and you don't have to feel like you're being attacked. They can be fun to write.

This is to aid you. Take from the information what you will.
Within the last four years, I’ve submitted my writing to roughly 400 magazines, journals, and reviews. On average, short story and poetry journals ask for a brief bio.
This doesn’t mean 100 words or less. Sure, keep it under 100 words unless otherwise noted. I’ve seen guidelines requesting one-sentence bios. It’s very important to read the publisher’s submission guidelines carefully. It gets tiresome, but take my word it’s worth the extra mile because an editor will notice you took the time and cared about their rules.
Creating a bio isn’t difficult if you think of it like a sandwich with layers:
In third person:
· Your name and educational background
· Five or less of your most relevant publications if any
· Where you live and what you do
· Your website or writer page if any
Beforehand in your email, write something personal and include the word count. It’ll act as your cover letter, which you should keep as short and equally friendly and professional as possible:
Dear editor,
My 750-word horror flash, “Killed to Death,” is attached. I love your magazine and recently got a kick out of your publication of Mary Ann Cotton’s “Poisoned 20 Victims.” Thanks for your consideration and dedication to the written word. Bio below as per your guidelines:
Now write your bio in third person (unless it’s your personal one you’ve written somewhere ex: a Facebook group or your website).
First time publication? Make a huge deal about it as your bio.
Along with a medical degree from Oxford Jack the Ripper has a decade of experience overseeing real life test subjects. This, however, is his first short story about the most sterile way to remove a human heart from a living subject. Prof. Ripper lives in London with his two cats.
Not new to publication bio:
Jack the Ripper has a medical degree from Oxford. He has publications with Hack Lit, Slash Mag, Carved Review, and in Scalpel Journal’s tenth Anthology to name a few. His piece, “The Prostitute That Almost Got Away,” won the Horror of Excellence Award with Bludgeoned to Death Publications and was featured in their first anthology. Professor Ripper lives somewhere in Europe where he kills prostitutes, that is he writesfictional stories about a serial killer. Website:
And that’s a bio in under 80 words.
In one sentence:
Jack the Ripper went to Oxford and has publications here and there—check out his website:
Now a 6-word bio with the same information: Jack the Ripper’s stories here:

Good luck on your journey to publication and as always~

Remember to remember . . .

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Time to end the handshake

On being a germaphobe: Why is this a term? To be aware of what can get you sick and staying safe rather than sorry shouldn't be shunned. 

Pneumonia and influenza are leading causes of death, which start off as the flu virus or cold. 

Figuring this out at a young age, I passionately hated one thing people did:

Shaking hands is an easy way to pass germs. Even if you wash your hands and have a cold, you can still give it to someone else. 

Yet it's popular among English speaking cultures. I've heard many theories on how this happened. My favorite one is during wartime a soldier would use their sword hand to shake the hand of a foe to show they wanted to call a truce. So you're telling someone you're friends. 

Cute, right?

I thought upon moving to Japan people would finally stop trying to shake my hand. Refusing makes me seem like the jerk, not the handshaker for wanting to pass their germs onto me. 

Come on though. Shouldn't we evolve?

The strange part: Since living here more people have wanted to shake my hand now than ever before. It's mostly locals, too. Oddly, they mostly shake hands with foreigners rather than each other. 

After some investigation, one reason was: There's this nationwide assumption foreigners like to shake hands. When Japanese people are young, a teacher tells them something like, "When you say hello and goodbye to a foreigner, reach your palm to them, squeeze theirs, and move it up and down. This is called a 'handshake.' All westerners do it as a rule. If you forget, they will think you're rude." 

Worst part is the majority of locals don't wash their hands before they eat. Instead they use a wet napkin or towel, which just soaks up and spreads germs around their hands. Then take into account a huge number of people don't wash their hands after using the restroom. There isn't even soap in several public toilet centers. 

By the way, I told some local friends who assumed foreigners liked shaking hands: "No, not every foreigner wants to shake your hand. You shouldn't offer unless they offer. It's actually rude to assume someone likes something just because they're from a different country. It's like me assuming you enjoy eating sushi and watching sumo during your free time."


After telling a lot of people this, I got tired of explaining and just started shaking hands again to avoid seeming impolite and would wash my hands soon after. 

Then a sick friend shook my hand. Low-and-behold I caught their cold. I got better, but it inspired me to plea to everyone out there to stop the insanity.


If you stop shaking hands and tell others to stop and mention it's an easy way to avoid spreading sickness, we can all live happier, healthier lives. So, please stop shaking hands. 

Try a bow. 

Here's more info 
Skip the Handshake

Remember to remember . . .

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hand Gestures


My favorite lesson this year was teaching about hand gestures in America vs Japan. 

USA's "come" gesture:

Japan's gesture for "come" is similar to go away in English.

The first time I was beckoned in Japan, I thought the shop keeper was telling me, "No foreigners allowed." Turns out she was welcoming me in.

Gestures get weirder.

This is the sign for money in Japanese:


This is the sign for asshole in American sign language, which is well-known thanks to the film Mr. Holland's Opus:

Okay is also the hand gesture for money in Japan.

No one asked me what it meant in English. 

I just explained it was a bad word and that was enough for them. The culture here isn't that curious.

You of course know this sign:

Turn it around:

In many parts of the world, that means:

And finally, I noticed that in Japan if you move your hand while doing the sign for "a little," it means no thanks:

What's your most commonly used hand gesture?

Remember to remember . . .

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

From A to Z

Three years ago my friends and I started a group to help authors find publication. After we stopped meeting, I realized my last story to see the light of day was with a local magazine a decade ago.


Then a writer from one of the critique groups I attended made a comment, "He doesn't have anything known out, but he writes cool, weird stuff."


This challenged me to Try (Just a Little Bit Harder).
It was tough to find publication because my focus was on three novels. Self-publication wasn't right for me, so I knew it'd be a long road ahead until a manuscript was accepted. In the meantime, I needed to have works out there: Build a writer portfolio.

Edgar Allan Poe came to mind. A big motivator due to our commonalities.

Let me count the ways:
Same birthday
Same middle name (named for my OBGYN)
Writers of dark stuff
Eye bag issues
American authors
Scarves look terrible on both of us
We're rather tormented
A few of my bar buds have compared me to him at random
And my first name, Bertram, is Germanic for bright famous raven
As you're probably aware, he wrote about one of those. So I bought this:

Just a quick shout out to my cousins. No worries, I do love you all, but not in a Poe way.


The famous quick fic author, inspired me to get on the short story train.

I looked to mine from university and wrote a bunch of others. Then set a goal:
Have a story published from

Roughly 400 rejections came. One magazine wrote back that my story wasn't good enough for them. Between us, there was a typo in their rejection letter, so I was able to laugh about something at least. I got an email from one editor that read, "I didn't like your story." Readers have done this as well. A lot of publishers rejected my first, second, and third submission. All of this pushed me to improve and keep at it.

Back when Ishaan Literary Review honored me with my first short story publication, Poisoned Heart, I'd read the response as if a rejection and didn't realize it was accepted until a writer friend posted the story on her social media page.

Studied line-editing and works of authors such as Ernest Hemingway and Shirley Jackson to learn to use my words sparingly. Soon email requests from editors for microfiction stories started to come my way. One editor told me, "We'll pass on the short story you submitted, but please send us one of your micros," which was accepted a few hours after its submission.

My goal was reached within three years time through hard work and long hours of writing, editing, submitting, and repeating. I know this will lead to my novels getting accepted one day. Diaries of Karma has already won two awards. People often email me asking about Demon Blade Bearer and Milhama's release, so I know it's a matter of patience.
Enjoy the stories below, share them if you have time, and please check out my other works. Note: This wasn't to brag, rather to motivate others to try.

Australia Day in Costa Rica with Thought Notebook
Bummed with MicroLiterature

Crimson with Yellow Mama
Death Pie with Bartleby Snopes

Evolution with Antiphon and the UK Library Archives
Fly Me to the Moon with Over My Dead Body!
Gumshoe with Akashic Books
How My Life Changed the Time I Almost Got Mugged with Writer's Ezine

It's Always a Good Time with Tiny Text
Japanese School with Escarp 
Kindness and Decency with Crack the Spine
Like, Joe with Talking Soup 
Mizu with A Quiet Courage
Not You Again forthcoming with The Stray Branch and past This Very Breath

On the High Hour with RoundUp Ezine
Pit Fight with Skrawl and
Quickest Romance Ever with A Quiet Courage
Rejected with Oddville Press

Standoff with The Fable Online
Tale of Autonomy with Dead Guns Press
Untimely Demise with 101 Word Short Stories and FFM's first Anthology

Voitex's Poison forthcoming in the Dialogual Anthology

Wagashi with Silver Birch
X + Y = Z with Sygyzy Poetry Journal
Yelling Unheard with Story64
Zeitgeist forthcoming with HellBound Books Shopping List Anthology

This blog post was inspired by a friendly email from the folks at Prolific Press Inc. They have a new book of poems called, "Harborton" which I plan to review soon. Keep your eyes peeled.

Remember to remember . . .