Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Thank God It's Not January Anymore

Thank God It’s Not January Anymore

The end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 has been quite possibly the most difficult time of my entire, ancient, eon-spanning (according to my daughter) existence.  Spending a month being reminded by anonymous people on the internet that my problems are my own fault, and that I am stupid (amazing how often that word was used) and naive and gullible, has been humbling and somewhat depressing.

If anyone is reading this blog wondering if I’m going to use this as a platform to fire back, or defend myself overly, you’re going to be disappointed.  I say only two things: 1. People are right—I am stupid, naive, and gullible; and 2. It is still wrong to blame the victim. Always.

The remainder of my time in January seemed to be spent getting beaten up by lower elementary school kids and trying to write again.  I had more success with the little kids than with the writing. 

The kindergarten kids, led by my niece, Audrey,  jumped, fell down, counted, rolled, and flipped me on my head with such enthusiasm that my head was still spinning four days later.  Wow! At least they liked me.  Perhaps the secret to my being popular is letting people beat me up…that certainly explains my wife claiming to be in love with me…J

The younger elementary students also enjoyed dumping each other on their rear ends, and even relished, for the most part, taking spectacular “falls” for their partners.  The semi-obligatory “victory dances” after each move needed filmed and put on youtube.  Some of these farm kids got moves!

All too soon, my time at West Branch Schools was over, and I had to truck the mats back home, and leave Mr. Arp’s kids to his nefarious devices again.  Next year, West Branch!

After that, being stuck in snow and cold covered Iowa began to overwhelm me…three weekends in a row without performing at a convention, during the worst weather of the year, with motorcycle riding completely out of the question, have made me the housebound writer from hell.  Remember Jack Nicholson from The Shining? Yeah, like that, only without those two creepy twins to talk to…

However, we are on to February! It’s time to start looking for signs of spring (yeah, right!) and a certain flying archer, known to hover around flower shops and candy stores around the country.  I suspect my wife of having an ongoing relationship with this terrifying menace, and I believe that the two of them plot against me every year.  From jewelry to flowers, chocolates, musical balloons (don’t ask!), and dates that involved the puppies, my Valentine’s Days have been a conspiracy against my sanity and pocketbook that has gone on for years. 

And I have only one thing to say about that: IT’S WORTH IT! I love Valentine’s Day.  Seeing Jillian’s eyes light up when I do something right is so awesome.  Makes me think that I should do that more often…J

This weekend we will be performing at Kawa-Kon in St. Louis, and I can’t wait! In addition to our usual con shows and panels, I get to sit in on a Japanese ghost/monster storytelling panel, and tell a scary story.  After much deliberation about which tale I should tell, I regretfully passed on my mother-in-law story and decided on an oni versus samurai conflict, which I thought was pretty close to the same thing (I love you, Theresa, really!).

We also get to bring our lovable fuzzy beasts along, so Naya and Kuma will be upstaging me at every turn, stealing hearts (and treats) and generally being adorable.  So really, it’s a mixed blessing.  I love the dogs, and hate leaving them home while we travel, but is it too much to ask that people like me, and not just fawn over the fuzzies?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

It's January... :(

News from the frigid ice bowl that is the state of Iowa…it is cold. That is all. Not really, but that does seem to be the biggest part of this week’s update.  If anyone actually enjoys the weather here in January, please raise your hand…I thought so.

I didn’t have a convention this past weekend (sad face), but Jillian and I did begin our school teaching tour for the year.  West Branch Upper Elementary and Middle School students were subjected to three days of arduous torture with “Sensei and Mrs. Sensei”, and the results were pretty much as expected.

The forty minute classes started off with basic rolling exercises (ukemi), from kneeling and then standing, followed by “bonus round”—where the kids got to choose between rolls, somersaults, cartwheels, one-arm cartwheels, round offs, handsprings, and in one case, aerials (I hate that kid!).

These exercises are my least favorite part of teaching in schools, but probably the most important.  Learning how to control a fall, and land without damage, is far and away the most practical self-defense that I teach in any school.  Hopefully no one will need to use the really cool “moves” that I teach them to defend themselves against a bad guy (statistically they have a better than 1 in 4 chance of needing it), but EVERYONE falls down.  Some of those kids don’t make it through an entire day without managing to faceplant or otherwise crash, and helping keep them from injuring themselves is a daunting but important task.

Most of the kids throw themselves into the rolls, if you’ll pardon the pun, and seem to enjoy the tumbling.  However, even the previously injured ones that aren’t supposed to participate in class are ready to jump in when it’s time to knock each other on their rear ends. J

This year’s self-defense edition featured a side entry knock down known as sokumenuchi in Japanese, roughly translated as “side entry” in English.  The younger kids practiced the move against someone grabbing both of their arms, and the older ones got to practice against the grab AND against someone punching at their faces.  This was, of course, closely supervised by both instructors and the PE teacher. 

No matter how effective the techniques are, the best (?) part of each move is the final count, after controlling the attacker, where the victorious student gets to perform his/her “Victory dance.”  This addition, made by the tall, frequently silly main instructor (me), may have gotten out of control, and grown way beyond the scope of what was originally envisioned.  By that, I mean that 4th graders were running into the gymnasium by the second day, shouting “Sensei’s gonna do Gundam Style!” and lining up expectantly. No matter how much trouble they had performing the technique itself, they all could do the dance. J

I didn’t see the harm…but Mrs. Sensei spent three days doing the long-suffering wife look paired with the rolling of the eyes technique that only women seem to really master.  She’s good at that move.  Of course, she’s had a lot of practice.

Oh well.  She has two days to recover, and then we start round two, with the little kids! On to the kindergarten through second grade!  I am brushing up on my dance moves…I was thinking about “the sprinkler.” It’s been a while…

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Before starting with travel stories and bad puns and other tales of my stupidity/naiveté, I need to address an issue that has taken over my life recently.  With apologies to those who just wanted to read funny stories about Samurai Dan’s foibles, let me tell you about my ongoing horror story (about being a horror author)…

Most everyone who will be reading this blog already knows about my indiegogo page, trying to raise funds to cover my being scammed by a bogus publisher.  To say that this has been the most trying time of my life would be an understatement of epic proportions.  I need to add that going public with a begging, pathetic cry for help in the form of money has been the most difficult and depressing thing that I have ever done—and I’ve been married twice! J

The overwhelmingly concerned and loving response of most of the convention scene has been humbling and a source of strength and joy during this nightmare, but doesn’t make me feel any less guilty and stupid.  There are so many worthy charities and legitimate needs in this world, and I feel terrible asking people to give to ME when there literally are starving children out there. 

One of the things that makes me feel somewhat better, and was not mentioned on the indie campaign, is the charity that I have been putting together since first signing my (bogus) book deal.  It has been my dream to establish and fund an organization that rewards people for being…human.  “Pay It Forward”, “Man In The Mirror”, “Golden Rule Rules”, and other monikers have run through my head, none winning the race for being the title, yet.  In short, though, the charity would reward those who give of themselves, expecting nothing in return.  It is my dream to reward them anyway, and encourage others to take the same approach.  If everyone helped each other out just a little, think how much better the world would be?

I digress…as usual.  The charity was being put together, with a prospective person for running it, and a time frame.  I would launch and fund the charity with my seventh novel, Vengeance, tentatively scheduled to be released in 2018.

That project is obviously completely on hold now, with no publishing contract and schedule for books being released and having any money to fund the charity with.  I am also working on a project designed to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project, benefitting our returning injured soldiers.

Being scammed and lied to by an unscrupulous publisher didn’t just take a rich and famous lifestyle away from me—it hurt my wife immensely, cost my children, affected my personal assistant (no job now), and put all of my charity work on hold.  It isn’t about me—those of you that know me at all know that nothing I do is all about me.  It’s about helping those around me.  Being a successful author simply meant that I would have a louder voice for making a difference in the world.

These projects and plans are not dead, and will never die.  They are on hold, though, while we scramble to get out of the hole we’ve dug ourselves into because of one man’s lies and criminal activities. 

Enough of that, though.  If anyone has questions, by all means contact me…I like to talk…

Last weekend we performed in New Jersey for a small but growing like wildfire community college anime con, Kotori Con.  This convention is run by Susan Glenn, one of the sweetest, kindest, yet misguided (she likes ME) women that I’ve ever met. 

We shared a stage with an English-by-way-of Canada singer, aptly named Kieran Strange, who absolutely rocks.  Check out her youtube stuff, okay? She uses her name, and also the moniker “Hitbox” with her partner, Sara.  Kieran actually dedicated one of her songs, “Girl Crush” to my wife, Jillian, which made me uncomfortable and yet guiltily intrigued…

The convention was wonderful; the drive out…not so much.  Due to the nasty weather the Midwest has had of late, our 16 hour drive took 27 hours.  Yeah.  The trip back was fine, at least. It just happened too soon.

If I have one complaint about Kotori Con (are you listening, Dr. Glenn?) it is that it’s only a one-and-a-half day event.  It needs to be longer.  More fun, right? Of course, then New Jersey would have to put up with me for another day.  Perhaps that’s why it’s a shorter event.  I have been told that I am better in controlled doses…

An Introduction

Konnichiwa! –That’s my Japanese opening to this new blog, and will likely be my LAST foray into foreign languages in this endeavor.  So enjoy it. 

Obligatory introductions and statement of purpose to follow…

My name is Dan Coglan, better known as Samurai Dan among otaku (oops, another Japanese term, sorry) around the country.  My wife and I travel most weekends, driving to and then performing at some of the coolest conventions on the planet. 

This has been an amazing and rewarding journey, and I want to be able to share some of the highlights of these travels, along with a healthy dose of the stupid things that I seem unable to avoid doing. 

It is my sincere hope that these anecdotes and entries are of value to you as readers, if only as amusement at my expense, or to appreciate the long-suffering support and understanding of my wife, Jillian.