Thursday, September 29, 2016

All Kinds Of Updates

Lots going on, so let's get to it!

Album Two Update: IT IS DONE. I have CDs in my hands as we speak. The official release date is November 1st, but you can get the lead single "Head Of Sin" on iTunes as part of a pre-order starting October 4th. You can also hear some advance tracks at our website and on Neue Regel Radio every Tuesday at 10am Pacific until the album's release. Stay tuned for an announcement about the CD release parties!

Book Three Update: The revisions that I was talking to Joel about last month are done. Now I'm just doing some pre-final proofing, and then it's off to my editor for a line edit. Getting excited...

TV Update: My daughter turned me on to a great new (or relatively new, anyway) series called Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir, or Miraculous Ladybug for short. Yeah, it's a cute kids' show, but that's what we do around here! It may be geared toward a younger audience, but the writing is smart and sharp, the characters are completely charming, and they do the whole "villain-of-the-week" thing that was a staple of my favorite tokusatsu shows like Kikaida and Kamen Rider.
The two leads, Ladybug and Cat Noir, are high school students by day and secret identity superheroes by...well, still mostly day, and they have huge crushes on each other. Only, she likes him when they're regular kids, he likes her when they're in costume, and neither knows about each other's identities (even though it's so totally obvious). Doesn't that sound like fun already? And the theme song is great as well. I binge-watched the entire 26-episode first season with my daughter, and immediately thereafter I filed the whole thing in my "I wish I had created this" bucket. I can't wait for the Halloween special, the Christmas special, and season two next year.

Video Game Update: Anxiously awaiting Breath of the Wild. In the meantime, I took my kids to the Legend of Zelda Symphony concert a couple of weeks ago, which was ZOMGAMAZING

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Give More 24!

Yes, it's that time of year again - the time when you have an opportunity to make a positive difference in the autism community! Of course, every day of every year is a chance to do something cool, but today is extra special because it's Give More 24, southwest Washington's largest day of giving.
Organized by the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, Give More 24 is the one day when everyone in the region and beyond shows their generosity by donating online to their favorite nonprofit organization. And the favorite around here is, of course, none other than Autism Empowerment.

Our goal is to raise $10,000. If we do that, we will unlock a $5000 match from the Community Foundation! So please, before midnight tonight (Pacific time), go to this link and make a donation. Even the minimum $10 will help. And remember, besides the fact that all donations are 100% tax deductible, giving just feels good! Trust me on this. I donate a portion of all profits from The Spectraland Saga to Autism Empowerment, and I will also be giving today, as well.

Thanks for your support!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Post That Is Sort Of About Football

It's football season again! As I've said before, I know that having an emotional investment in spectator sports is basically silly - I mean, there are much more important things to get worked up about, like these questions, for example. But again, it's fun, and that's sort of the whole purpose.
The Seahawks won their season opener in major heart-attack fashion, but I won't be doing a game recap or an analysis or anything like that - there are a lot of other good places you can go for that sort of thing. Instead, I thought I'd share with you a random train of thought I had on Sunday night when the Patriots-Cardinals game was on, which was: what are my feelings towards the other thirty-one teams in the league?

I know that sounds kind of weird, but it was sparked off by my wondering "which of these two teams do I detest more?" The answers to that question and the other question I posed above are now presented to you here as a public service to those who actually care about the strange things that go on in my head (which is sort of why you're reading this blog in the first place, right?)

Oh, and if I happen to diss your favorite team (do people still say "diss"?), just remember that this is all in good fun and that I still love you as a person. We are all in this together.

Arizona Cardinals: I only dislike this team because they're in the same division as the Seahawks and have become annoyingly good.

Atlanta Falcons: I kinda like their old logo better. The one they have now makes the falcon's wings look like legs.

Baltimore Ravens: Cleveland is a town known for its sports-related suffering. I can only imagine what they must have been thinking after the Browns left, became the Ravens, and then won the Super Bowl.

Buffalo Bills: don't really care, other than the fact that they're on the Seahawks' schedule this year. So for one week, I will hate them with a burning passion.

Carolina Panthers: the Seahawks are playing them again? Sheesh.

Chicago Bears: they were fun in the '80s.

Cincinnati Bengals: I like their helmets. Much better than the old ones that had "BENGALS" written across the sides.

Cleveland Browns: see "Baltimore Ravens" above. Hey, at least the Cavs won the NBA championship.

Dallas Cowboys: they were my favorite team when I was growing up in Hawaii, mainly because (a) Hawaii has no professional football team, and (b) all the local TV stations showed either Cowboys games or 49ers games (or both). I even have Aikman and Smith jerseys stashed away somewhere. But then I moved to the Pacific Northwest and the Cowboys started doing some strange things with Bill Parcells and whatnot, so I sort of broke up with them. Now they're like an ex, where you just peripherally take notice of stuff they're up to but you try not to get too involved and when you see they're having problems you just kind of think "man, am I glad I don't have to deal with that drama anymore."

Denver Broncos: thank you for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Detroit Lions: this team makes me think of Thanksgiving, which makes me hungry.

Green Bay Packers: I love how this is a fan-owned team. They are very cool. Stop being so cool. And so good. You already have nine NFL titles and four Super Bowl wins. Heck, the Super Bowl trophy is named after one of your coaches. Stop it. Let someone else have a chance. Still, I can't hate you because you are so cool. Unlike some other really good teams that I will talk about later.

Houston Texans: I love how they named their team the "Texans" in an effort to try and prevent another relocation like that of the Oilers. News flash, guys - if the team moves, they will just change the name.

Indianapolis Colts: I like this team for some strange reason. Except, of course, when they're playing the Seahawks, which isn't scheduled to happen this year, unless they meet in the Super Bowl in which case I will abhor them with the fury of a thousand suns

Jacksonville Jaguars: what is with the two-tone helmets, you guys? Seriously.

Kansas City Chiefs: okay, your stadium is loud. Fine. Whatever.

Los Angeles Rams: another team that I only dislike because they're in the same division as the Seahawks. Unlike the Cardinals, they are not annoyingly good, but they are annoyingly good at beating the Seahawks for some reason.

Miami Dolphins: yes, Sunday sucked. I know.

Minnesota Vikings: it looks really cold there in the winter.

New England Patriots: okay, this is probably - no, definitely - the team that I detest the most. Not only do they win everything in sight no matter who is on their roster, but they won the Super Bowl-who-will-not-be-named, they're proven cheaters (that link is just one example), and Tom Brady is just plain irritating. But despite all of that, I found myself rooting for them to win on Sunday night because the Cardinals are in the same division as the Seahawks and man is professional football silly or what.

New Orleans Saints: see "Indianapolis Colts" above, but replace "Super Bowl" with "NFC playoffs." Which, if you're gonna lose at home to the Raiders, is probably not gonna happen this season ZING

New York Giants: I've always wanted to visit New York. Looks like a fun place.

New York Jets: I've always wanted to visit New York. Looks like a fun place.

Oakland Raiders: sort of cool because when you watch A's games, the football markings are still on the field. And their fans in the south end zone (the "Black Hole") have awesome costumes.

Philadelphia Eagles: I like their uniforms. They were always pretty cool with the green and the wings on the helmet and whatnot. Apparently their fans hate Santa Claus, which is funny.

Pittsburgh Steelers: probably my second least-favorite team, next to the Patriots. They used to beat up on the Cowboys when I lived in Hawaii, they (and the refs) beat the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL, and they're just annoying in general. Still, I will root for them to beat NFC teams, like the Redskins on Monday night. Football is so weird

San Diego Chargers: I dig those powder blue uniforms.

San Francisco 49ers: okay, I dislike this team because they're division rivals of the Seahawks, but also because they were the "other" team in Hawaii when I was growing up (see "Dallas Cowboys" above). The highlight of Frank Clark making that catch in the end zone still makes me groan to this day. I love San Francisco, the town, but I hate San Francisco, the football team.

Seattle Seahawks: at first, I became enamored with this team because I after I relocated, they were the only thing that local TV showed on Sundays. But then, after Pete Carroll was hired (which, I will admit, I was skeptical about) and Russell Wilson became the starter at quarterback, I really began to buy into the whole "positive thinking" approach that they and the team adopted. I'm sort of a pessimist by nature (exacerbated by my fandom of the neighboring Seattle Mariners), but I noticed that the whole never-say-die attitude seemed to be paying off for the team in improbable last-minute victories (like this past Sunday), so I got a little inspired by that. I'm not a bandwagon fan, though, because I lived though the whole early 2000s deal with Super Bowl XL and the rest of that stuff (see "Pittsburgh Steelers," above.)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I love their uniforms, both old and new. I mean, c'mon, that Creamsicle orange was epic.

Tennessee Titans: um...yay, Marcus Mariota? I guess that's what I'm supposed to say, being from Hawaii and all.

Washington Redskins: nickname issues aside, I feel predisposed to dislike this team because of their rivalry with the Cowboys and how annoying their owner appears to be. Although, I've never actually met him, so I wouldn't really know. Just like how you shouldn't idolize people that you've never met (Joel, I'm talking about Marshall Byle here), you shouldn't demonize them either, unless it's really totally obvious that they're a complete jerk because the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle and this is getting way too heavy for a post about football so I'll just stop here. Go Hawks!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

What I Did On My Vacation

You may recall that a few years ago, I went to Spectraland for my summer vacation. This year, I went to a similar location - a little tropical island known as O'ahu - to attend a friend's wedding.
Now, I'm originally from O'ahu, but it had been several years since I went back, so it look a little while for me to get adjusted to the heat and the humidity. I mean, it was hot in the Vancouver/Portland area when I left, but it was a dry heat - the moment I got off the plane in O'ahu I immediately felt like I needed to take shower.

Aside from that, however, it was great to be there, primarily for the three Fs: family, friends, and food. Man, I ate so much. The funny thing is, I don't know if it's being in vacation mode or if it has something to do with the fact that I'm from there, but whenever I go back I find that I can eat mounds of stuff that ordinarily would place me in an instant food coma and then feel totally fine afterwards.
And this is just the appetizer
The wedding was on the beach at the North Shore and it was as beautiful as you can imagine. I danced continuously for about an hour even though I can't dance. It was awesome. I also learned how to fly a drone (thank you, video game training) and drive a two-seater with dual manual/automatic transmission. Yup, my rental car was a convertible sports car. I originally signed up for something small and cheap, but when I got there they had run out of those kinds of cars, so the rental agent was like, "well, we have...this. Is that okay?" I didn't cost me extra, so I said sure. It was fun just sitting in the parking lot putting the top up and down. It was like having my own actual Transformer.

The rest of my time there was spent mostly relaxing, checking out a friend's band, catching up with people, and eating. Did I mention eating?
Much mahalos go out to Flyin' Lanaian and Neko Sixx for allowing me to crash at their place, and to everyone else I was able to hang out with. It was a way-too-short trip. Hopefully I can stay longer the next time.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Movie Roundup: End of Summer Edition

And so we come to the end of another summer movie season. Where did the time go? Into some kind of Madeleine L'Engle-inspired tesseract, apparently, whose sole purpose is to ensure that I notice a movie out on DVD/Blu-Ray that makes me say "Wasn't that just in theaters, like, a week ago?"

As always, these are not really reviews - I just riff randomly about films that I've watched. And besides, I don't think that one can actually say whether a movie is "good" or "bad," you can just say whether you liked it or not. "Good" or "bad" are totally subjective adjectives when it comes to art. Unless, of course, you're talking about this. So here we go, and watch out for the spoilers...

The Secret Life of Pets
I think this movie threw me off by casting Louis C.K. as Max, the lead character. I kept expecting him to break into some kind of angsty, profane rant, but, of course, this being a kids' film, he never did. I'm a big Louis C.K. fan, and that might actually have led to my enjoying this movie a little less than I expected. I liked him better as The Horrifyingly Sweaty One-Armed Monstrosity in Gravity Falls.

Ghostbusters
Dug the casting. The movie itself? Not so much. I caught myself giving it courtesy laughs and then thinking, "Wait, no one actually cares if I'm really laughing at these jokes or not. Unless there's some kind of secret audience-monitor-camera recording our reactions that will determine whether or not the sequel gets greenlighted. In which case, you're welcome, Mr. Feig."

Star Trek Beyond
I loved this movie. Loved it loved it loved it. Did I mention that I loved this movie? And no, I am not being sarcastic. Why do you think I'm always being sarcastic? I guess it's kind of hard to discern sarcasm without context and/or body language, which is why there are so many misunderstandings with electronic communication and people need to resort to emojis and whatnot. Having a couple of novels under my belt, I try to think of myself as a writer, someone who can communicate these sorts of things effectively without using that kind of stuff, but, well, I guess nobody's perfect. Anyway, I loved this movie. Go see it. :)

Suicide Squad
Remember when I said that I didn't hate Batman v Superman as much as everyone else seemed to? And you all probably thought I was some kind of softie who doesn't like to say anything really negative in his blog and if I do, my blog editor (an imaginary friend that we will call "Suzi," just because) will censor it, because after all, I have copped, numerous times, to not hating the Star Wars prequels? Well...this movie...I have to say that I [censored, too negative. -- love, Suzi. xoxo]

Kubo and the Two Strings
I probably went into this one with my expectations set way too high. I mean, it got a great percentage rating on Rotten Tomatoes, like 9999.99% or whatever, but then I realized that that rating just basically indicates the proportion of reviewers that said they didn't exactly hate it, which means that if you make something that is generally pleasing across the board and doesn't really hack too many people off, you stand a pretty good chance of getting a solid score on the good ol' tomatometer (many fun ways to pronounce that word).

Anyhoo, I think that some of my disillusionment with this one is my own fault, because of my authorish background. I found myself saying the characters' lines in my head before they said them, and (correctly) predicting exactly what was going to happen next. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Seriously! It's more like...you know, after you take an advertising class in college and then you can never watch TV commercials the same way again. Or, I dunno, okay, maybe it's not really like that, but you know what I mean, right?

Anyhoo, it was a good movie, and I loved the magical musical instrument aspect of it, and please go see it many times and buy multiple copies of the Blu-Ray when it comes out and give them to all your friends, because I really want this movie to succeed so that it paves the way for a film adaptation of the Spectraland Saga. Think of it as a personal favor to me. Mahalo.

And with that, summer officially comes to an end. Coming up in future roundups: Doctor Strange, Rogue One, Fantastic Beasts, and all the movies I didn't have a chance to fit into my schedule but will undoubtedly be showing up on DVD/Blu-Ray within what feels like the next 48 hours or so. Thanks, Madeleine L'Engle.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Book Three Status Update: A Scene

BRIAN walks into the family room, where JOEL is sitting in front of a computer, paying full attention to the monitor screen.

     BRIAN: Hey Joel - guess what?

     JOEL (not looking up): What?

     BRIAN: I got the draft of Book Three back from my editor last Friday!

     JOEL (still not looking up): Oh, um, cool...wait, what's Book Three?

     BRIAN (hesitant): It's, uh...never mind. (He recovers his composure.) Anyway, the good news is that she had a lot of great suggestions, but overall, it's not really gonna take me too long to incorporate them. So after this round of revisions, it should be ready to move into the final edit stage, and then it'll be good to go.

     JOEL: Okay.

     BRIAN: Yeah, I'm pretty excited. I had originally planned for a 2017 release, but now I'm wondering if I should move it up...

     JOEL: To 2016?

     BRIAN: Yeah. I dunno, probably not though...we'll see. Early 2017 maybe. There are some other things I have going on as well that may require extra time to put together. Either way, I'm just really happy to be at this point in the process.

     JOEL: Great. Congratulations.

     BRIAN: Thanks. Besides, I really want to get it out before the new Zelda game is released, since I know that'll take up a bunch of my time.

     JOEL: Yeah, me too.

     BRIAN (leaning in): So what're you playing there?

     JOEL: Just some game I made.

     BRIAN: You made that? Wow, that's pretty cool. It looks kinda familiar...what is it?

     JOEL: It's called "Sparkleblock." It's a computerized version of a handheld puzzle game I played in Spectra -

JOEL pauses, as if he has suddenly become aware that he just might have said too much.

Um, I mean, in...in 2015.

     BRIAN (squinting at the screen): Huh. That's really similar to something that I wrote about you doing in Book Two -

JOEL shoots an curious glance in BRIAN's direction. BRIAN blinks rapidly and takes a step back.

Um, I mean...that's...that's pretty cool.

     JOEL: Yeah.

     BRIAN: Yeah.

JOEL and BRIAN look at each other. A long, awkward pause ensues. Then, finally, BRIAN claps his hands together.

     BRIAN: Alrighty then, I'll let you get back to it!

     JOEL: Okay.

BRIAN exits stage left.

- Fin - 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Milestones

Last week my son got his driver's license. To me, it felt like just yesterday when he first took the wheel and started practicing, but then he reminded me that it was actually almost two years (!) ago.
Not the actual license
He's a really good driver, so all of you on the road can relax. I think part of his skill comes from his attention to detail, while another part undoubtedly comes from years of Mario Kart training.

Also last week, my daughter successfully put in and took out a pair of contact lenses for the first time. She has sensitive eyes, but she's really motivated because she wants to have colored contacts as part of a costume that she's putting together. We must all suffer for our art...

Finally, fresh off of our show at the Ash Street Saloon, my band Second Player Score performed a daytime set at the Vancouver Brewfest.
Courtesy of Missy Fant Photography
We had a great time and the audience was awesome. The cool thing about this particular gig is that three years ago, Kyle (SPS drummer) and I were at the Brewfest as attendees, and he said, "One day we'll be playing at this event." And lo, it came to pass! Big mahalos go out to Cody Gray (Brewfest organizer) for having us and Al Jones (soundman) for a rockin' live mix. We're looking forward to doing it again next year.

Coming up next time: another Book Three status update!