There's a new podcast up called No Time to Kill. It insults Wisdom publications! I'm sorry about that, Josh. It comes off less funny and seems more truly angry than it was intended to. I wasn't angry. But you guys should have put the book out. It's true.
And speaking of wasting time, lately I've been wasting a lot of time doing my own version of Guitar Hero. I've discovered that if you go on YouTube and type in the name of some song you like plus the words "bass cover," you will find tons of guys who have taped themselves in their bedrooms playing that song on the bass. By watching these, one can learn the bass lines of these songs!
So far I have learned the following songs by KISS: Christine Sixteen, Love Gun, She, Strutter, Deuce, Detroit Rock City, Black Diamond, Rock and Roll All Night and Sure Know Something. Plus Lady Madonna by the Beatles, Substitute by the Who, Beat It by Michael Jackson and most of Money by Pink Floyd. Phew!
Zero Defex is playing a gig on February 9th at the Matinee in Akron, Ohio. Every time we have a gig, which lately has been about once a year, I get serious about the bass again and start practicing like crazy. It's not that the Zero Defex bass parts are that tough, except for the one from By The Day. It's just that I feel like I ought be really good before I get out on stage in front of people.
And speaking of really good, here's one thing I'm not really good at. I've been trying to catch up with some of the emails people send. I'm just getting to ones from October. I'm sorry I'm so lousy at this! But it just takes up so much time. I can't give a half-assed answer. If you receive a one-liner from me, you can trust that it's probably the distillation of a few paragraphs. Ugh.
Still the #1 most frequently asked question is, "I live in Bumfuck, Egypt, how can I find a Zen teacher?"
I wish I knew. I think one thing is that you probably don't need a teacher that urgently. Secondly, you probably don't need me to be your teacher as much as you think you do (often writers of this question seem to imply they want me to teach them). You can relax about it a little. Just do your home practice by yourself for a while and see if anyone groovy turns up in your life.
A number of people want me to be their long-distance on-line teacher. But I'm still working in emails I received three months ago! I'm really not reliable as anyone's on-line Zen teacher.
I have a problem with the on-line Zen teachers I've seen. Some of the on-line forums I've checked out are packed with dubious "Masters" spouting dogma that sounds like the worst forms of authoritarian religion. But, I'll admit I have not checked out this world very thoroughly because I'd rather be writing a book or learning new bass parts.
I know a bunch of commenters are gonna think I'm taking digs at someone specific (if you must know, the one that grinds me most is e-Sangha). But really, the on-line option is one that lots of people who send this question seem to want me to endorse. I'm trying to say why I still have serious reservations about it. I can't do that without saying why I still have serious reservations about it.
A couple people have recommended I go into on-line teaching and charge for Skype chats and suchlike with students. A guy I know argued very rationally that I would not be charging for the dharma but for my time. People who go to in-the-flesh teachers usually donate to their centers, so why shouldn't people who get Skype chat time with a well-known teacher contribute some dana? But I just don't know. It feels weird.
Plus I feel like it's not the proper way to meet a teacher. One of the other problems I have with on-line Zen is the celebrity aspect. Instead of going to the Zen teacher down the street, you can pick out a more famous guy on line. I know for certain this happens because I've watched it happen. It's not all shut-ins and people in the boondocks who inhabit the on-line sanghas. It's often people who live right near a Zen center but like the on-line guy better.
Too much choice and too much convenience in this kind of thing just seems somehow off to me.
I'm not saying I'll never do it. Especially since hardly anyone seems to be hitting my little donation button anymore. But I am still not convinced it can be done in a way that is truly ethical.