I told the story of this in Hardcore Zen. Now you can see the video of me filming my bit in Ultraman Tiga episode 51 in 1997. I originally taped this on a VHS camcorder (remember those?). I transferred it to DVD later. Then I used the clip as a way to test out a software program that rips video from DVDs. Which is why it's watermarked. Now I don't know where the DVD is. I'm sure it's still somewhere in all my stuff, packed away.
Well, today I officially turned in the final edits of both Sin Sex And Zen and Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way: Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika. Editing a book is a multi-part procedure. I turned in my "final" versions of both books months ago. Then they came back to me with editor's comments. Then I fixed it again. They they come back to me with a second round of fixing. And now I've sent those back as well. I'll get one more look-see at the books before they go to the printers. But at that point I'm only allowed to make the most minor corrections. This is because by then the typesetting is being done and if I make anything but the very most minor corrections it throws the page numbering off and all kinds of hell breaks loose.
So at this point they are both pretty well done. If you click on those Amazon links I provided you'll see place-holder covers that will not bear much resemblance to the real covers. At least that goes for Sin Sex And Zen whose cover is being drawn even as you read this by the magnificent Mr. Alex Wald. It'll be a whole lot better than what they sent to Amazon to hang out there till Alex finishes. I'm not sure if Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way will be changed or not.
Fundamental Wisdom will be released first, in August, followed by Sin Sex And Zen in September.
For now I'm just hanging out at an undisclosed underground facility in the back hills of North Carolina until I jet off to Europe on May 2nd. This just in, it looks like I will also be be doing a gig or two in Israel this summer. That's pretty exciting.
As the books get more popular, my life gets continuously weirder. I'm still not getting rich. But I am getting noticed. I think I mentioned here how two different people spotted me in random locations in Austin a couple months back. That happened to me once in Saint Paul -- at a party of all things -- and once in Los Angeles. It's not, by any means, a regular event. But it is a very odd thing when strangers stop you on the street and know your name as well as significant details of your personal life.
I sort of hate it.
I understand this goes along with the territory. I am in complete agreement with Dogen's view that one shouldn't pursue fame and profit. But when Hardcore Zen was about to be issued I had a long talk with Nishijima Roshi about it. I knew that putting a book out would lead to a certain degree of fame (though the profit, as I said, has been very slow in coming, which is why I'm couch surfing these days). He said that this was all right. In his view it was a completely different matter. I wasn't writing books in order to become famous. I wrote because that's what I like to do. And fame sometimes follows if people like what you do. The same thing, he said, happened to Dogen. He got famous even though he did not pursue fame.
To a certain degree, in order to make a living at any kind of artistic endeavor, you need to be famous. It's part of the job. I find it alternately fascinating, bizarre and scary. I like doing interviews. I like getting to travel around and be a performing circus monkey for people. I'm fascinated by the mechanics of the industry.
It's bizarre, though, how people sometimes interact with me these days. I don't get it when they get all excited just to talk to me. I can't understand it. I mean, intellectually I can. I'll admit to nearly peeing myself when I got to actually hang out with Gene Simmons and Alex Cox. But to have someone react that way to me is just weird. I don't know how to respond. Which is why, if you act that way around me I tend to look funny at you.
Scary is encountering people who don't understand that just because they know the parts of my life I've chosen to reveal in books that they are not actually my buddy. This doesn't happen much, but it has happened a couple times. I always try to duck out as quickly as I can when I meet someone like that.
I was in a threeway Skype chat the other day with two friends. One had seen me at talks a few times, while the other had only seen it once. So I got to listen as they compared notes about how weird it was to watch total strangers react so strongly to the presence of someone (me) that they just knew as their friend.
From here on in I'm only gonna get more of this stuff, not less. The only way to stop the snowball I started rolling would be to quit writing and go live as a recluse. But I have no plans for that. I'm just gonna keep on doing this stuff for a while. So suck it.