Interview with ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ Author Hai Doan

Today, the Edmonton Writers’ Group is happy to announce that ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ is now available on Amazon.ca.

Edmonton: Unbound’ contains fourteen stories by twelve local authors, unified only by the common theme of their current hometown, Edmonton, AB. Ranging from simple domestic interactions, to futuristic sci-fi adventures, to deep psychological introspections, these stories take a look at Edmonton from viewpoints as different as the writers themselves. This anthology is a love letter to our hometown, and demonstrates our incredibly varied approaches to literature, and to life.

As a gesture of our gratitude, all proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to the Edmonton Public Library, which has been gracious enough to host our humble group at the Capilano branch for over a decade and a half.

Click the Image to buy ‘Edmonton: Unbound

To celebrate this release, we have an interview with one of the ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ authors, Hai Doan.

1. What was your initial inspiration for the story you included in this anthology, and how the story changed from its original conception?

Hai Doan: My goal was to write a story that was based in Edmonton and since I love riding on the LRT, it seemed natural that I would include our transit system. Plenty of people take the LRT, all from different walks of life, so I wanted to share a story from a viewpoint of one of those passengers. I enjoy light hearted comedies so it is surprising that the plot ended up being rather dark but the ideas flowed well and I just went with it.

2. What events in your background led you to want to write?

Hai Doan: When I was a child, I loved to take books out of the library and read them (and I still do). Two of my favorite authors were Roald Dahl and Gordon Korman. I especially enjoyed the books from the “McDonald Hall” series; I found the stories to be hilarious! This made me want to become an author too because then I could try to make people laugh as well.

3. What difficulties did you encounter while writing this story, other than finding the time to do it?

Hai Doan: I think the most difficult thing was probably getting started and putting some writing on the paper (or computer screen to be more accurate). Once I got started, the writing became easier. For this short story, I didn’t plan the plot out as much as I normally do and just wrote down the ideas as they came to me.

4. Are you writer that plots out all the different angles, or are you more free-form. Why do you think you write this way?

Hai Doan: I tend to plan out my stories. Actually, I would say I plan so much that I often don’t complete the story! I like to jot down notes about the plot, daydreaming about what could happen next but I have a hard time putting all these ideas into a completed work. I remember starting a fantasy genre story and I had all the main points of the plot figured out; I even had drawn maps of the world I had built. I never finished the story though. I think this could be due to the fact that I find world building and plot creation so much fun and actually writing the story can be “hard work”. I think I should take the advice of some authors and just write since the first draft is never perfect anyways.

5. What is your typical response to “writers’ block”?

Hai Doan: My response to “writers’ block” is similar to my approach for working on homework assignments. If I find myself wracking my brain for a long time with no success then I would temporary stop working on the task; I would either take a break or work on something else. I find that allowing my mind to focus on something else for awhile that once I do return to the original task that sometimes I somehow “magically” have an epiphany which makes the solution very clear.

Hai Doan’s story, “LRT Ride”, is featured in ‘Edmonton: Unbound’, which you can purchase now on Amazon.ca.

-Brad OH Inc.

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Interview with ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ Author Brad OH Inc.

Once again, the Edmonton Writers’ Group is proud to present an anthology of stories by it’s members. ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ contains fourteen stories by twelve local authors, unified only by the common theme of their current hometown, Edmonton, AB.

Ranging from simple domestic interactions, to futuristic sci-fi adventures, to deep psychological introspections, these stories take a look at Edmonton from viewpoints as different as the writers themselves. This anthology is a love letter to our hometown, and demonstrates our incredibly varied approaches to literature, and to life.

As a gesture of our gratitude, all proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to the Edmonton Public Library, which has been gracious enough to host our humble group at the Capilano branch for over a decade and a half.

To celebrate this release, we have an interview with one of the ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ authors, Brad OH Inc.

1. Freedom is important to Jeremy. What do you feel limits your freedom (as a writer or in life) and how do you resolve that?

Brad OH Inc.: The first thing that comes to mind would simply be time. There never does seem to be enough of it, does there? I try to juggle a lot of different projects in my off-time, and it can be tricky to maintain the right balance, but I think I’ve managed alright. This publication was a lot of hard work, but I’m thrilled with how it turned out, and all of the authors should be proud of their contributions.

2.  Was there a time when you were able to see through another person’s eyes like Jeremy wanted to do in your story?

Brad OH Inc.: Through my background in Psychology, I’ve done a lot of work where empathy is certainly important. I hope that I manage to bring that into my daily life as well, I think it’s an important thing to be able to consider the perspectives of others. I imagine the world would be a more pleasant place if everyone made a conscious effort to do so.

3. Jeremy really didn’t like Lucky Lager. What beverage would you recommend to quench one’s thirst or to prepare a person for a writing session?

Brad OH Inc.: That’s a fantastic question! It really depends on how deep into the writing you want to get, but my two recommendations would be Big Rock’s Traditional Ale, or Jameson Whiskey (neat). Happy writing!

4. Is there a time and place where you felt like you had entered a completely new world?

Brad OH Inc.: In my story, “A Good Place for a Miller”, Jeremy is eager to go to “The Gathering of the Juggalos”. I was fortunate enough to attend that event when I was Jeremy’s age, and twice since. Those events definitely feel like another world, and I’ve had many fantastic memories made there.

5. Congratulations on the pending publication of your debut novel, “Edgar’s Worst Sunday”. Can you share a brief synopsis of the book?

Brad OH Inc.: Thanks! I’d be happy to share a brief tease of “Edgar’s Worst Sunday”!

In life, Edgar Vincent always maintained one great passion—himself. A semi-successful composer, his rock star lifestyle suited him well, and his narcissistic outlook ensured he was a man with few concerns. Callous comments, thoughtless promiscuity, binge drinking, and excess sufficient to shame Caligula were standard Saturday night fare.

Sundays for Edgar had always been a painful haze of sickness and regret.

So when Edgar finds himself in the cloudy planes of the afterlife on one particularly bleak Sunday morning, he determines that in order to find peace, he must put aside his ever-present hangover and try to figure out how he got to this point…and where he’s meant to be going now. But as Edgar makes his way through this surreal spiritual realm, he realizes that facing his death is hardly as difficult as facing himself.

Heaven, however, presents Edgar with an unending smorgasbord of hedonistic delights, so he’s in no particular hurry to change his self-serving ways. After all, considering he’s already dead, what more could he possibly stand to lose?

Brad OH Inc.’s story, “A Good Place for a Miller”, is featured in ‘Edmonton: Unbound’, which you can purchase now on Amazon.ca. Stay tuned here for interviews with the rest of the authors in the anthology, and information on promotional events.

-Brad OH Inc.

“Edmonton: Unbound- Another Anthology by Edmonton Writers”

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Here at Brad OH Inc., we are thrilled to announce the impending release of another anthology by the Edmonton Writers’ Group. Like our previous anthology, ‘Between the Shelves’, ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ features stories from twelve different local writers, this time unified by the theme of their hometown, Edmonton, AB.

Through fourteen short stories, these writers take us to places as wildly different as the writers themselves. Further, all profits from ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ will be donated to support the Edmonton Public Library (EPL), who have been gracious enough to house our humble group for over a decade and a half.

Once again, the book will be available through Amazon as both a paperback and an e-book, and will be sold by contributing members of the Edmonton Writers’ Group at live signings and events—to be announced soon.

So, stay tuned to us here at Brad OH Inc. for all the information you need. The final proofs are currently in our hands, so the full release will be upon us soon. We hope you enjoy reading this book as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it!

-Brad OH Inc.

Project FearNaught: ‘Welcome to Project FearNaught’

‘Project FearNaught’ is a very simple idea. I want to start the conversation that changes the world.

This needs to be clear right up front—for I make no denial of my intentions, nor do I intend to play coy. I am an idealist, who believes without a doubt that humanity can and will be better. To this end, I hope not to be a solution, but a catalyst for the surge of decency so needed in this tired world.

My intention is to create a fitting code for the future of humanity. I seek to address the corruption that surrounds us daily, but more important still, the moral impotence which has allowed it to do so.

No doubt, you may think this sounds like an overly high ambition, but not I. The long-term goal of ‘Project FearNaught’—which starts right here, today—is to compile an ultimate ‘Book of Truth’. I want to discuss, explore, and finally settle upon the fundamental precepts which drive humanity—a moral code to which we can all subscribe and from which we all may benefit.

But high-minded discussions like these are better suited—I am aware—to beer halls and dorm rooms than they are to internet forums and personal blogs. So why start such a seemingly naive endeavour? Why strive to create unity in spite of the history books, and Corporate officials, and media outlets which constantly tell us that division is the natural way, and that economic control is the only power which can ever bring humanity to heel?

The proposition is not an easy sell, so let’s consider the reality of our situation. It’s rare to meet anyone these days who will sincerely claim to be optimistic—or even comfortable—about the current direction of our society. This isn’t an inspiring thought in a nation which still claims to be democratic. Every aspect of our lives is controlled by corporations and brutes. Even our elected officials are simple amalgams of surface-level popular opinion, designed to pacify the public while furthering the goals of those with real power.

We are divided on all fronts. We are separated by civil parties that have little impact, by religions that sedate while offering nothing in the way of solution—by every imaginable difference! But that’s just what they are—imagined. They are products of fear, and they keep us blinded to our potential.

Fear itself—that is the enemy. It turns one against another, and keeps us from realizing our true nature. Fear has subdued us, and daily we struggle simply to get by, rather than to grow or thrive. Fear breaks our spirits, and divides our intentions.

But united toward one purpose, humanity is an unstoppable force, and that’s just the reason why such a coalition of hope is the most contested and embattled notion of our times. It is a simple fact that systemic change cannot occur without its ideals first taking root within the hearts of all people. Personal change comes first, and that is the purpose of ‘Project FearNaught’.

My intention is to create an understanding of the universal and immutable human dignities—to remind us of all that fosters hope in mankind. In so doing, we may turn the tides of despair we are now faced with, and work together towards a better future for all.

So now I ask of you, my readers, to continue this discussion. Speak among yourselves—your friends and your enemies. What drives you? What do you hold as the core tenets of decency? Of humanity? What concerns do you have with the present direction of our world?

Consider these things, and then return to me. Challenge me. Push me to be better, and together, we may all be. I want to show you that we can be more than what we’ve been told.

So, come you nihilists and fanatics, you theists and you skeptics. Bring me your hearts, your minds, your input, and together we will find that higher ground. For I promise you this, as I set out upon this great and final task of mine: so long as there is a will towards improving our world, so long as there is a dream for greater virtue, there is a light to guide us. No doubt the days are dark, and the shadows of old terrors once again hold us in their sway. But we are capable of better, and we must remember this now more than ever.

Talk, think, explore. For when we work as one, with common purpose and with righteousness on our sides, there is truly nothing to fear.

 Be part of the debate:Project FearNaught is an effort to start the conversation that changes the world. As such, your voice is key to our ambition. To add your input, questions, or comments, click here.

-Jeremy Arthur

‘Truth Ink.’

Humanity vs. the Corporate Mindset

Of all the unfortunate ills in this world, the Corporate mindset may be the chief. It is this idea which keeps society unbalanced and desperate, which controls our information and divides us against one another. Laws are changed, rules are broken, people are robbed of their potential, and the world at large is injured by this idea that more is better, and that the ability to take more is self-justifying.

It’s often preached about as ‘freedom’, or ‘capitalism’, or even ‘fairness’—all hair-brained explanations for one of the greatest con’s ever. The system supports only itself and those at it’s very top, while actively trying to quash out any popular movement attempting to return to the people some semblance of the power which is theirs by right.

Let’s look briefly at two examples to illustrate this point.

The first is the idea of a universal basic income. The concept here is that if the highest earners paid a higher level of taxes than the pittance they currently do (if they pay at all), then a universal basic income could be provided to each citizen, raising them out of poverty, and allowing them to participate in the economy and society in a meaningful way. This would reduce suffering, and build up communities across the nation, and the world.

To the Corporate mindset, this is the highest of heresies.

They would argue that having successful people pay taxes for less successful people discourages big ideas, and that if the ability to lord unimaginable wealth over the rest of the population wasn’t available, then any incentive to be productive would go with it.

What unimaginable hogwash.

The true reason for such objections is a little more obvious, and far more believable. It’s greed, of course…good old number three.

The truth is that at some point, the motivation of money is no longer about providing for you and yours—Maslow’s hierarchy and such. It ceases to be the calculated pursuit of betterment or provision, and becomes instead the reckless pursuit of an addict. Wealth fast becomes an addiction, and like most addictions, people resort to increasingly terrible extremes to feed it. A Corporation, in essence, is this wealth addiction made manifest. Pursuit of money as a drug in this way breaks the market, the chain of trust, the social contract, and capitalism in general.

Another fine example of the destructive nature of this Corporate mindset can be found in the realm of art and creativity. Corporations have no interest in crating thought-provoking materials or fresh ideas—the very opposite in fact. Their goal is to create easily consumed, content devoid filler. They rehash the same tropes and keep people clapping along to the same tired old ideas. It’s about placation and distraction, never enrichment.

The end result can be seen in the relentless struggle before any true artist—in their need to cut through these quagmires of idiocy to ever have a chance at being heard by the desperate ears of people starving for original content. Examples can be found in free-speech warriors such as Howard Stern or the Insane Clown Posse, who have struggled through great adversity and opposition from the Corporate market, despite having a product which many people desired.

If something’s not in line with a Corporation’s vapid tripe, and especially if it’s not making an obscene amount of money for people who already hold far too much, it has little chance of significant exposure without amassing a devoted underground following in spite of Corporate adversity.

More about the negative impacts of the Corporate mindset on the entertainment industry can be found in our article, ‘The Disgraceful Suicide of ‘Old’ Media’.

In the end, the crux of the issue is that the Corporate mindset influences our society—making us callous and suspicious of one another, rather than supportive and loving. Indeed, it can easily be argued that the Corporate mindset is the very antithesis of the human spirit, and yet it holds us tightly in its sway; controlling our media, our art, our economy, and our very perspectives on life.

What would it take to break free of this influence, and begin to live like the compassionate and caring society we are undoubtedly capable of being? We look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments below.

-Brad OH Inc.

Something Wicked

‘Tradition’ is not likely a word commonly associated with Juggalos, yet when it comes to that odd and often maligned little subculture, there does exist a unique sense of custom, ceremony, and certain things which might even be considered sacred.

This past Tuesday, Oct. 31st, Juggalos from around the world gathered at the Russell Industrial Center in Detroit, MI, for a double dose of Dark Carnival sacrament, coming in the form of the 24th annual Hallowicked Clown Show.

Hallowicked—the annual Halloween-night concert put on by the Insane Clown Posse—is one of the longest running traditions among the Juggalos. Halloween has always been the most beloved holiday in the Juggalo world; it’s reliance on masks and face paint fits right in with the whole clown thing, after all. It’s a night about self-expression and freedom, which are some of the most crucial ideas behind the Juggalo culture. That’s why the night has been celebrated with the annual Hallowicked Clown Show since 1994.

This year however, Juggalos gathered anticipating even more than the yearly celebration and family reunion. At this year’s Hallowicked, ICP will be unveiling the 4th Joker’s Card of the Second Deck.

Admittedly, that does warrant a bit of explaining.

The Joker’s Cards are the central albums of ICP’s mythology—each one expanding on the key themes of the culture while providing enough shocks, laughs, and groans to keep the masses content until the next release. The albums—each a fairly simplistic face on a (usually) black background—fast become icons of the Juggalo community.

While the original set was capped at 6 cards (7 albums), ICP began a second deck of Joker’s Cards with 2009’s phenomenal ‘Bang Pow Boom’.

Since then, they have released ‘The Mighty Death Pop’ (2012), and ‘The Missing Link’ (2015), among other non-Joker’s Card releases.

The Joker’s Cards simple symbolism makes them easy rallying banners for the uninhibited passion of the Juggalos, and their more often than not highly theatrical unveilings rank among the most anxiously anticipated events short of their actual release.

The faces and names of future Joker’s Cards have been revealed by phone numbers obtained by solving riddles on side-project Eps, hidden in the liner notes of other albums, and other such creative methods. More recently however, the custom has shifted towards huge public unveilings.

At Hallowickeds, Gatherings, and other such events past, ICP unfurl giant banners revealing the names and faces of their next project, and enthusiastic chants ensue. This is the sort of event Juggalos will travel for. Sure, they’ll travel just to see the band, or to hang out with other Juggalos, or to buy Faygo—but the unveiling of a Joker’s Card—that’s something truly special!

Which brings us back to the matter at hand. At Hallowicked this year, ICP promised to share the face of the fourth Joker’s Card of the second deck, just as they did for ‘The Mighty Death Pop’ (Revealed at Hallowicked 2010), and ‘The Missing Link’ (Revealed at Hallowicked 2014). The combination of the annual Hallowicked Clown Show, and the revealing of a new Joker’s Card makes this a truly thrilling event for Juggalos worldwide.

And so, they gathered; with painted faces and countless variations of clown-themed t-shirts. With lines forming at the crack of dawn, the Juggalos descended en masse upon the Russell Industrial Center in Detroit, MI. Naturally, this was an all-day event—with myriad musical acts, wrestling matches, exhibits, and countless other attractions throughout the day. Of course, it was to be capped off at the end by the main event—the Insane Clown Posse.

So when the time came, the eager Juggalos packed together tightly, and waited. Then, they waited some more. But the stage time came and went. So did midnight.

Not until nearly 1:00am local time, with Halloween technically behind them, did the ICP take the stage and the epitome of Hallowicked begin. As soon as they appeared, the wait seemed of little concern to the frantic Juggalos.

The Clowns rocked the audience with live standards such as ‘Hokus Pokus’, and ‘Chicken Huntin’, while adding in some scary surprises befitting the occasion, covering rare Halloween singles such as ‘Halloween on Military Street’, and ‘Sleepwalker’.

As the intro to 2015’s ‘Falling Apart’ teased in the background, Violent J took centre stage to proselytize that while Juggalos are usually weirdos and outcasts, on Halloween it’s cool to be scary. Its our night!

Late in the show, ICP broke into the old family favourite, ‘Dead Body Man’, bringing the congregation to a fever pitch.

Then, all went silent.

A cryptic chanting oozed from the speakers, and the first banner fell, bearing the name, ‘Fearless Fred Fury’.

The next banner held the face.

Juggalos roared their excitement for this new chapter of Dark Carnival lore.

The beat for ‘Real Underground Baby’ began—a rare song live, this closed the gruesome 2004 album, ‘The Wraith: Hell’s Pit’. This choice of closer may prove meaningful, as both the name and face of this new Joker’s Card forebode wicked times ahead.

‘Real Underground Baby’ continued as the party raged, with confetti, smoke, and eventually a full blown Faygo Armageddon—a storming of the stage and massive Faygo war which has become the traditional ending to any ICP event.

As the music faded away and the final Faygo flew, the crowds began to dwindle at last. Halloween was long over, but the feeling of Hallowicked still held strong as soaking and exhausted Juggalos filed out, dancing between chants of ‘Family’ and ‘ICP’, with grateful smiles beneath the smeared remains of their clown paint.

-Brad OH Inc.

Playing by the Rules

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Tennessee Williams once wrote, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

It’s a terrible approach, and apt to get you killed.

Of course, there’s another thematically similar, yet significantly different expression from an unknown source, “You’ll end up really disappointed if you think people will do for you as you do for them.”

Pretty disparate points of view, to be sure.

Why is this?

It presents a strange conundrum. People, in general, try to be good. This can certainly be disputed, and there’s no doubt there does exist some number of people who are simply, downright rotten. But we can all agree on our strong dislike of those jerks, so let’s not hang ourselves on that point.

As a very broad rule, I believe it can be argued that people tend to try their best to play by the rules. For the most part, we do try. We try to be honest, to do the right thing, and to stick within the general moral boundaries of the society in which we reside.

That brings us to the topic of these so-called ‘rules’, and just where we tend to go wrong. In its simplest form, the problem is that the rules are agreed upon by all, but interpreted by the individual. Each in his or her own heart decides in the moment what is right. Therein lies the issue.

All red tape and political shenanigans aside, it’s not the most difficult task to agree on a simple set of principles behind which almost all of us may stand. The most fundamental values are very similar on every side. No one really wants innocent people to get shot, or children to be hurt, or women to be victimized, or minorities to be afraid. Admittedly, this is a broad generalization, and in this wide world there is no shortage of morally bankrupt imbeciles, but once again, we’re talking about the general population here—not those creeps.

I do believe you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would object to any of the simple values above, nor to a litany of others we could easily agree on.

The problem then, becomes how we define these ‘rules’ in the moment, and how we react to prevent these things from happening.

When it comes to immediate interpretation, it’s an easy thing to draw exceptions based on personal mindsets, current context, or any other number of feeble yet potent personal justifications. This is wrong in every scenario. It is by drawing these distinctions for our own actions that the entire social contract begins to break down. If we cannot expect decency from our neighbour, even the best of us will falter in our application of decency ourselves.

The other side of the coin, then, is how we react to prevent these universally defined tragedies. This bit is a little more complex, and happens to be where we find the concept of political polarities. More often than not, our reactions or views on prevention are defined not by logic, values, or virtue, but rather by who we surround ourselves with, and what we are told.

Let’s use the simple example of not wanting innocent people to get shot. No matter if you are on the far right or the far left of the political spectrum, the prevention of needless death is a fairly ubiquitous desire. The response is something entirely different.

To use somewhat hyperbolic examples for the purposes of this argument, we will say that the left tends to prefer the elimination of guns, while the right prefers their propagation—arguing that the only defense against a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Both are reasonable interpretations on the surface, and both are driven by the shared value of not wanting innocent people to get hurt. That last bit is essential here.

The same—or a very similar—analogy can be made for gender neutral washrooms, minimum wages, and most any other issue being dragged across the fetid political landscape at any given moment.

Is there any solution to this madness? That’s a far more complex question. When it comes to the universal interpretation of rules, I suppose that’s where lawyers come in. If they are up to the job, then the courts can handle those who think they’re an exception.

What about the reactions? Well, as established, this tends to be a matter of what we’ve learned. If we are taught that guns protect, we’ll favour increasing ownership. If we’re taught that guns kill, we’ll tend to favour prohibition, or something in that vein. Neither approach is unreasonable on the surface, but both require a great deal more investigation, testing, and above all—knowledge.

That’s what it all comes down to in the end, as it always does. Education, and access to accurate, replicable data is one of the—if not the absolute—keys to finding a clear and actionable way to fixing the dreadful state of our society.

Sadly, in a world where science and fact are as viciously disputed as all the rest of these issues, we find ourselves in dire straights indeed.

To teach the wrong thing, or anything motivated by a pre-defined political agenda, is propaganda. And, considering where we get the vast majority of our information, this tends to be the case more often than not. Access to legitimate, unbiased information is among the only changes that can set us back on the right course. The final question then, becomes how?

That, unfortunately, is a question above my station. So, I turn it over to you the readers—what do you think? Is education truly the key to solving these problems? Is unbiased education still possible at this point? If not, what other options do we have? Weigh in by posting your comment below!

-Brad OH Inc.