I Hate You

I’m returning to the origins of Brave New Deadline. It was a regular column I wrote for a weekly newspaper way back in the day. I had shifted gears somewhat, having focused on writing fiction for the last eight years, but the eternal struggle in my writing life – nonfiction vs fiction – never seems to settle. I still work in journalist, I still write fiction.

My other blog, josephmarkbrewer.wordpress.com, is where you’ll find posts from the writing world. Here at bravenewdeadline, I’m ending my sabbatical, and my silence, on current events. At least for the time being.


courtesy NBC news

In discussing this election year with my friend Jack Donaghy, I held out trying to describe it. The paint-by-numbers answers, the “Tastes great! Less filling!” chorus whenever Trump’s and Clinton’s names are mentioned, the woeful lack of civility – I really didn’t know what to say, much less write.

But it’s clear to me that this election is a harbinger. It has nothing to do with the Obama legacy. It has to do with a nation and its political process and the voters who participate it creating a new way of voicing their politics.

It’s the politics of hate.

I trace it to the first Clinton Administration and the vituperations hurled at the first lady, Hillary Clinton. The Lee Atwater legion joined forces with bareknuckles Arkansas political brawlers and the GOP, then licking their wounds after the sound Bush defeat and smarting from another election where it found itself the minority in the House of Representatives, flat out put a bull’s eye on Mrs. Clinton and said ‘fire away.’ This was 1993. Within two years, the Contract with American gained the House for the Republicans and Roger Ailes created Fox News in order to control the emerging reality of the 24-hour news cycle. Hate television was born. The Clintons were the targets. It’s become the norm.

The Obamas took the place of the Clintons for the last eight years, but with Mrs. Clinton’s hard-won success in securing the Democratic nomination, hate has followed her every step of the way.

What’s insidious about hate is it is almost never ground in facts or truth. Just not liking the cut of one’s jib has become a justification for hate.

The festering “I hate Hillary” disease is the what fuels the engine of the Trump campaign. At the presidential debate on Sunday in St. Louis, it became clear that even the gross cad that Trump is cannot help himself. His hatred was evident in these words: I’ll put her in jail.

Trump supporter cheered. Hillary haters blew up Twitter.

Worse has been said about Mrs. Clinton by Trump and others, but really, what rhetoric is left to abuse?  Trump supporters don’t even necessarily like the man, they just hate Clinton.

I hate you.

That is what 25 years of faux news hate has led to. And we’re stuck with it.


New directions in blogging

Over the past few months I’ve taken a sabbatical from writing and blogging. My world was turned upside down, as it were, when a career lifeline was thrown my way.

newspapersI have been a journalist my entire working life – the part that starts after quitting college and part-time jobs. I enlisted in the Navy as a journalist, learned reporting and editing and photography and pubic affairs, and spent five years telling the Navy’s story. Then I graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism. From that time on, I’ve worked for a variety of publications, and exclusively for newspapers since 1996.

Up until this past January I worked at a newspaper that imploded due to strife between its publisher and the staff and a once-good newspaper is now a pokey little publication treated as an afterthought by the owners. I was watching my career die as a part of that news team.

But that ended with a new job in a new state with a company that read the tea leaves of today’s media economic realities and developed a plan to remain viable.

I’m back from sabbatical. One of the things I decided to do was split my journalism and my fiction writing into two blogs. So if you come to visit to know more about my Shig Sato mystery series, I have some blogs saved on here, but all the news stuff is at josephmarkbrewer.wordpress.com. That’s where the mysteries, flash fiction, and trials and travails of being an indie author-preneur will reside.

Once upon a time I wrote a column for a newspaper called Brave New Deadline. I’m once again taking up that job: comments, criticism, essays, or whatever comes to mind.

My good friend Jim refers to me as a news man and a mystery writer. May I live up to both honorable monikers.


The World of Shig Sato: Food in Japan

A reader discovering the world of Shig Sato will soon learn that food becomes in interesting side character – Miki’s breakfast of miso soup and rice, Abe’s early life growing up in a ramen shop, Ses Fujimori’s love of okonomiyaki, Shig’s lunchtime katsudon, even Mos Hishida’s nickname, a result of his steady diet of Japanese-style hamburgers. Any reader not familiar with Japanese cuisine might wonder at it all. In truth, the food of Japan is as simple as it is varied.

The simple: fish and rice. But is that really all there is? It doesn’t begin to encompass the world of sushi, much less the whole of Japanese cuisine. The popular Japan Talk website lists 100 types of sushi. Notice that fish, vegetables, eggs, meat – it’s all included. Sushi, sashimi, makiit can take minutes to prepare, a lifetime to master.sushi

The importance of rice in Japanese culture cannot be overstated. The language uses the word gohan for “meal” as well as “cooked rice.” Gohan is a part of each word signifying breakfast, lunch and supper. In feudal times, wealth was measured how much rice one possessed and peasants were keenly appreciative of a payment in rice for their labor – coins were no good to them when they had to eat. Japan’s propensity for natural disasters, and it’s involvement in war, often led to a scarcity of food. Rice stockpiles were worth fighting for.

As an nation comprised of many islands large and small, a reader would be right in thinking that all types of seafood is a part of the Japanese cuisine, from the common tuna to the exotic –  pufferfish, anyone?

What many Western readers of the Shig Sato series may not realize is that farming – livestock, grain, vegetable, fruit, any combination and variety – can be found in most of the nation’s 47 prefectures. Almost any grocery store or market will have fresh local produce, seasonal fruit, cuts of meat and poultry, and packaged foods like curry mixes and spices. (When my in-laws came to visit from Canada, flour and vanilla were found and donuts were produced in an afternoon!)

One may not think of baked goods when thinking of Japanese cuisine, yet the tasty sweets and snacks appeal to young and old. And it doesn’t take much to find pan – bread – and some have even embraced the staple, when it’s made with rice flour.bakedgoodies

The varied: Being an international city, Tokyo is home to an array of dining experiences any world traveler would appreciate. Michelin stars are not unknown in the city. Gourmets and foodies alike can find were the finest food is served, and also the stores that sell the products for those daring and talented enough to create at home.

Regional specialties abound. I’ll conclude with this list of a prefecture’s favorite dish. See if you don’t recognize some, and have probably eaten some others (and some not!).

Hokkaido – Grilled mutten

Aomori – Sea urchin and abalone

Miyagi – Oysters

Yamagata – Potato stewsweetpotatoes

Fukushima – Pickled herring

Ishikawa – Turnip sushi

Gifu – Potatoes with sweet chestnuts

Nagano – Buckwheat dumplings

Aichi – Deep fried chicken wings

Tochigi – Giyouza (potsticker) dumplings

Chiba – Steamed peanuts

Kanagawa – Curry

Mie – Lobster

Shiga – Duck hot pot

Osaka – Okonomiyaki

Hyogo – Kobe’s famous beer-fed beefkobebeef

Tottori – Snow crab

Tokushima – Buckwheat porridge

Nagasaki – Sasebo burger (thanks to the navy base there)

Kukamoto – Sliced horsemeat

Miyazaki – Kyushu-style fried chicken

Okinawa – Fried pork belly

To get a copy of  The Gangster’s Son click here . To get a copy of  Shig Sato Book 2 The Thief’s Mistake click here — and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter and enter the World of Shig Sato. 

Diligence is the word

I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order and thdiligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.
– Charles Dickens

Some writers can only write when inspired. Some suffer from writer’s block. Other’s cave in to popular culture or conventional wisdom. So, when they get around to writing words, they write words that are false, sentences that are flat, stories that are dead the moment the final period is placed on the page, then wonder why their their writing isn’t up to scratch. These writers become dejected, and repeat the process again and again. I know I have.

I think this because for writers, even young writers, the enemy is time. We are all guilty in luxuriating in the nonsense that is ‘waiting for inspiration’ or ‘ I need to research this in order to understand the subject’ or ‘when I accomplish ___________ then I can REALLY get down to writing.’

My first notion of writing a story came at 6 years of age. I wrote my first story at  10.  By age 14 I had written, in large print, on white ruled paper, nearly 100 pages of forgettable juvenile nonsense. I knew I had writing deep in my bones, but allowed interests in other things to overwhelm me – I lacked punctuality, order and diligence to keep at writing regularly.

And when I acquired a modicum of those habits, I really had no idea what to do with them, so far as writing went. Because I had no sense of urgency. I still believed I had time on my side. Then I turned 40. Time had slipped through my fingers, and I had nothing to show for my efforts but notebooks and short stories and a life contemplating writing without really doing anything about it. So I set out to write what was in my heart and on my mind. I resolved to be published in my 40s and earn my living from my stories  by the time I was 50.

I’m 58. Things are just now starting to come together.

It’s inevitable that one’s life takes over one’s art, unless one’s art is one’s life. I’m not talking about earning a living, raising a family, or being a productive member of society. It’s making time to write, or paint, or compose, or build, or cook – whatever it is – because, as every athlete or musician or painter or writer knows, it’s all about practice, practice, practice. And that takes habit, punctuality and diligence.

Jeff Goins says writers need to focus on resolve: that a write needs to commit, to develop new habits. I agree.

Still, I think Charles Dickens said it best.

Time to get back to it.

What about you?

To download a copy of my Shig Sato mysteries, click here for  The Gangster’s Son and here for The Thief’s Mistake.

See you soon!