It’s Halloween! My favorite day from childhood until today. I used to shop fabric stores with my mom, running my fingers along bolts of fabric like a designer – before I was ten years old. My mom sewed me Batman, Star Trek uniforms…and some spookier ones too, but it wasn’t a day for me; it was the crowning jewel of months of creepy-crawly planning. When I was a teen, and in my 20s, Halloween DJ gigs, Halloween remixes, and tracks were always a priority to me. Some years I even juggled 2-3 costumes and 2-3 gigs (even occasionally in different cities but sitting on a plane dressed as a DJ-Frankenstein does tend to upset and disquiet the grannies flying red-eye)… sometimes it’s better to savor the moment.
Well, consider this moment savored. All my life, I’ve loved reading, especially horror, science fiction, and fantasy, and although Kai’s Diary (The Invisible War- more to come on that) was a real achievement and triumph and reporting on a severe issue felt really important, taking the time to lovingly write an homage to the childhood books I loved… Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter, R.A. Salvatore’s Drizzt Saga, Roger Zelazny’s Xanth and Amber novels, anything and everything by Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, and Stephen King, The Name of the Wind, the Dragonlance novels… and so many more.
Amos the Amazing, my Solarpunk offering of a science fiction epic fantasy, one part cross-cultural Chinese-Western folklore, another part fairy tale, another part absurdist ‘Alice in Wonderland, and another part Lord of The Rings meets Game of Thrones meets Harry Potter cosplaying as Percy Jackson. It was really fun to write, but I’m sure I grew some white hairs in October getting it ready to publish. In the end, I never really finished, but the Chinese translation and publishing team was demanding the book, and the English publisher said if we didn’t get it sent, we weren’t going to make Halloween, and the only thing that was more important to me than the book being perfect (which nothing ever is) is that I could have it ready by Halloween. And I did.
And mixed in with the fabulous, scary, sexy, wild, fun pictures of all my friends old and new romping around doing their ‘Mad Max mutant lyfe forever look teasers,’ was a small but growing snowball that is rolling into an avalanche of positive messages, retweets, praise and great reviews for Amos the Amazing.
This was probably the last, most ambitious, and greatest ‘bucket list’ item I had from the first half of my life: publish a beloved epic fantasy/sci-fi novel. Now I’m on a new playing field and looking forward to the next set of incredible goals. So, of course, I did what any normal me would do and treated myself to the most amazing socks I’ve ever seen: ‘Stance Bruce Lee Enter the Dragon’ socks. They’re super comfortable and make me fearless when I wear them.
It’s hard, but I’m going to take a couple of days and relax, go outside and walk around, get some Vitamin D (still very important in the age of COVID) and then get into November’s National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO), hoping to do several important things. But for today… it’s a picnic with Xiaolin at Ehling park.
In a few days, I’ll going to start a new book in the mornings that I hope to draft by December 1. I’m going to edit a past draft in the afternoons and hope to finish revising it by the new year. I’m going to take two books and edit them. I hope to publish them soon in the evenings, all between classes and my daily writing assignments, a new media project with national news agencies that will take me around Chongqing, telling Chinese stories for a 1.4 bn person Chinese audience and also create more empathy and cultural understanding in the western world for one of the world’s most ancient and esteemed cultures, sadly, still maligned due to colonialist empire media’s really tone-deaf take on recent history. But that’s politics, and I try not to dwell on politics; rather, I’m happy to focus on climate, the environment, the beauty of ancient cultures, and the rapid technology that might save our beautiful world. So that’s what I’ll do.
I’ve teamed up with the amazing Solarpunk magazine and will be trying to amplify their message even as they promote my #Solarpunkfantasy book, Amos the Amazing. It’s a match made in heaven. I made a little video for their readers especially, but I’ll link it in my blog, because I think the message is good and deserves to be heard. It’s a bit tongue in cheek – I think humor is how I deal with climate anxiety. That, and taking action, and using agency to affect change.
In China, I’ve found out we call it Sunpunk or (太阳朋克), and the media is starting to talk about it, which is really cool.
Life today feels a little less frantic since the book is out and feels like a new normal, but one with many new opportunities on the horizon that I’m eager to explore.
My guitar playing is going really well, so fun for relaxing, but I had the courage to play it for my Amos The Amazing book trailer in front of an old-school punk rocker and friend, a world-class videographer, and we had a good time. I got a few nice pedals and a decent Orange amp and came across a Crybaby Slash wah-wah pedal that is just the best when I want to get funky. Another friend who moved across China left me a Roland JDXi micro-synth, and between the two, I can have quite a blast whipping up mini tracks and patterns and then jamming lead guitar on top. If I had this when I was a kid, in the heyday of my festival DJing and Root Sellers live shows, wow, it would have been a whole new ball game, but I’m grateful for it all the same. It makes living on a mountain in China a little more rock and roll.
A new inhalable COVID vaccine is sucked in through the mouth and trialed in China. “It was like drinking a cup of milk tea,” said a Shanghai resident in a video posted online. The vaccine, a mist sucked in through the mouth, is being offered for free as a booster dose for previously vaccinated people, according to officials in the city of Shanghai – hopefully soon to Chongqing and around the country. Scientists hope “needle-free” vaccines will make vaccination more accessible in countries with fragile health systems because they are easier to administer. They also may persuade people fearful of needles to get inoculated. I’m personally hoping for some universal COVID blocker, possibly related to the research done on Superdodgers – the idea that if ACE2 (angiotensin 2) receptors remain the primary replication vehicle for SARSCOV2 transmission, then perhaps some lucky folks have ‘super ACE2’ or … no ACE2’s at all. The funny thing that I reported on two years ago, from JAMA studies to Sofia Reigna University studies that showed correlations between low Vitamin D levels and serious covid outcomes (ICU, critical cases, and death) versus high/healthy Vitamin D levels and mild-asymptomatic covid has to do with the bodies natural replication of ACE 2 based on Vitamin D levels. If you are getting enough sun (or food-fortified Vitamin D3 or vitamins), you don’t need more, and you don’t need a lot of ACE2 receptors to soak up more. But suppose you have dark skin (which protects you from sunburn but makes you more likely to be vitamin D deficient in today’s world) or are just a pale vampire DJ boy turned writer who spends too much time indoors. In that case, you should be taking your vitamins to avoid having so many vitamin D-seeking ACE2 receptors, like having a million holes in your bulletproof best. As my old friend Heineken once said when he wrote the Canadian Rap classic ‘What’s Up,’ we don’t want that.
“When I grab the mic, I do what I do best; I spit rhymes like bullets from my bulletproof vest,” – Heineken, Broken Bridge
Yes I really did make that shirt, and you really can buy it here.
Indeed, our bulletproof vests are made of VitaminD3 pills that close off those ACE2 holes. Anyway, strangely, this is all I’ve gleaned from reading with an open mind. However, JAMA is a super-recognized and respected medical journal, and neither the Canadian dietary association recommended this advice that all Canadians receive healthy levels (perhaps 2000-4000 international units a day based on body weight/size) of Vitamin D fortification. Even when the UK trialed it, they gave such a paltry amount (less than 500 IUs a day, enough for a small dog, perhaps) that they dismissed it outright when it didn’t show a positive impact. But anyway, that’s enough of that. I hope to travel again soon… maybe do a book tour! And see my family.
In the meantime, with the help of iChongqing and the Chongqing publicity department – fingers crossed – we hope to do a series of live streams and events around Chongqing sister cities and other cities I have some relationship with to do virtual book release parties. Some cities that are on that list are Bangkok, Beijing, Brisbane, Budapest, Busan, Chengdu, Chiang Mai, Chicago, Chongqing, Córdoba, Detroit, Düsseldorf, Guelph, Halifax, Hiroshima, New York City, Ottawa, Prince Edward Island, Sanya, Seattle, Shanghai, Sør-Trøndelag, Toronto, Vancouver. What do all these places have in common? Maybe of them are sister cities of Chongqing, or places I have a lot of history with.
Chongqing is doing well. It’s much better than summer when we battle incredible catastrophes, simultaneous fires, drought, low power, and the COVID outbreak. Still, after the travel from National Holiday Oct 1-7, there has been a little COVID situation, and people are mostly staying in their areas and limiting exposure. My school went from daily tests for all staff and students to 2-3x a week; now it’s weekly, but to get into the shopping mall, you need a 72-hour test result, which means maybe 2x a week. At least they’re free and everywhere, and basically, you can show up, scan a code, say AHHHHHh, and within a few hours, you’re good to do whatever you want.
Things change, and things stay the same, but a whole new world is out there, and I can’t wait to see it.
Amos the Amazing is live on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books, Scribd, Goodreads, and many other platforms. More details at jorahkai.com/amos.