Thursday, March 23, 2017

Movie Roundup: I Go To Extremes

Confession: I've always been a big Billy Joel fan. In fact, that's sort of how Joel Suzuki got his name. One of Joel's (Billy Joel's, that is, not Joel Suzuki's) songs, "I Go to Extremes," off of his Storm Front album, isn't one of my favorites - as the cliche goes, I like his older stuff more - but it does capture the theme of today's Movie Roundup quite nicely. Because for whatever reason, the last batch of films I've watched have veered from colorful kid-friendly fare to dark, grim adult stuff and then back again. It's enough to give a viewer some kind of metaphorical whiplash. Hence, the "I Go to Extremes" idea.

Anyway, in case this is your first Movie Roundup, here are ye olde standard disclaimers: (1) these are not really reviews, these are just my random thoughts about various movies I've seen, and (2) there may be massive spoilers, even to the point where I give away twists and endings and stuff. So with that out of the way, here we go!

Lego Batman
I enjoyed this one, although not quite as much as the Lego movie from which Lego Batman was spawned. It did make me really hungry for lobster thermidor, though, whatever that is. And the whole meta-ness of including Voldemort as a character while casting Ralph Fiennes as Alfred was pretty amusing. Favorite joke: "British robots - ask your nerd friends." Kid-friendliness rating: 92%.

Logan
The second-best movie in the X-Men franchise (there's just no beating Days of Future Past in my book), this one was almost as if Wolverine and Professor X stumbled into a horror/western flick and had to claw their way out of it (see what I did there? Okay, I can hear you groaning from here). Dark and violent from start to finish, this is definitely not one to take your young kids to. It paints a future so bleak it makes you wonder if Logan and Charles would've actually preferred the other future with all the sentinels and stuff, because at least in that one they got to wear cool futuristic suits and go out in (almost literal) blazes of glory. If all of what I just said makes it seem like I'm down on this movie, I'm not - it was awesome, I saw it twice, and I'll certainly watch it again when it comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray. Daphne Keen was amazing - kind of reminded me of Millie Bobbie Brown. Where do they keep finding these intense young actresses? Kid-friendliness rating: 5% (only because of the fact that the movie cast a bunch of cool young people to play X-23, Rictor, and other kid mutants)

Pete's Dragon
Yes, I'm late on this one. I actually watched it on a bus while I was serving as a chaperone for one of my daughter's school band trips. It was light and airy and low-key and served as a fun little distraction while we rode up to Bellevue. I did wonder at one point how no one could have seen the dragon before, given that there's not much going on in the nearby town and the dragon certainly wasn't ashamed of flying around whenever it felt like it. By the way, after watching three Star Trek reboot films, I cannot see Karl Urban as anything else but Dr. McCoy. Kid-friendliness rating: 95%

John Wick 2
My son actually turned me on to this franchise, having seen the first John Wick movie before I did (he's 18, so its cool). Both installments are like ultra-violent video games - they're so over-the-top that you can't really take them too seriously. At least no dogs died in the second one. And the Neo/Morpheus reunion was fun. Kid-friendliness rating: 0%

Moana
This one exceeded my expectations, kind of like Zootopia did. Disney, you're on a roll! Heartfelt and beautifully animated, it hit all the right notes at mostly the right times (I did feel that it took longer than necessary to finally get Moana past the reef, but whatever). Moana and Maui's friendship felt natural and completely earned, which is a harder thing to pull off than you might expect. I should have guessed who Te Ka really was, but then again, like Zootopia, these Disney movies have a way of distracting me with their bright colors and bits of snappy dialogue (the "you're welcome" reprise near the end was especially awesome). Kid-friendliness rating: 99%

And thus endeth another installment of Movie Roundup! Join us again next time when, I suspect, the kid-friendliness ratings will be a bit more consistent, based on what I expect to be seeing (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, Wonder Woman, the Power Rangers reboot, Despicable Me 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets).

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Cover Art Reveal: Volume Three

Here's the cover art for Volume Three! Again, much thanks go out to the marvelous and talented Jill Colbert. Check out her other work here.
And here's the back cover blurb:


"Joel Suzuki and friends have saved Spectraland—the island of music and magic—once again. But now those responsible for the island’s near destruction have gone missing, and all clues point to a mysterious land across the Forbidden Tides known as the Six States beneath the Shroud.

At least, it used to be—since a new leader rose to power, it has been called the Mono Realm, a place where diversity isn’t tolerated. For people on the autism spectrum like Joel and his bandmate Felicity Smith, it’s a hostile environment indeed.

And now, to make matters worse, Joel discovers that the fugitives they’re pursuing are not simply hiding in the Mono Realm, they’re intent on taking it over—with potentially dire consequences not only for this world, but for Earth as well.

A rebellion is stirring in this land of magic and tech, and if Joel can just get his mind off Felicity—and her prickly love interest, Thornleaf—his unique gifts and abilities might just save the day."

I'm super excited about this latest addition to Joel's saga and I can't wait to share it with all of you! Come and help celebrate its release at one or both of the planned launch parties:

Saturday, April 15
8pm - 1am
Shanahan's Pub & Grill
209 W McLoughlin Blvd
Vancouver, WA
Featuring live music by Stab In The Dark, Cellar Door, and Second Player Score
Also special guest authors Jonathan Chase (From Surviving to Thriving) and Shawna Reppert (Hunt by Moonlight, the Ravensblood series)
No cover, 21 and over

Saturday, April 22
4pm - 6pm
Kazoodles
13503 SE Mill Plain Blvd Suite B3
Vancouver, WA
Free, all ages

See you all soon!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Cover Art Reveal: Volume Two

Aaand here's the new cover art for Volume Two! Again, thanks to the awesome Jill Colbert for her hard work and artistry. Check out her website here and buy some stuff. Seriously.
In case you missed it somehow, here's the cover art for Volume One:
Volume Three is coming soon. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Status Update!

Whoa, is it March already?
Book Update:

- You've all seen the awesome new cover art for Volume One. The art for Volumes Two and Three will be revealed shortly!

- The first draft of Volume Four is coming along nicely. I did have to backtrack a bit and rewrite a bunch of stuff, but it was going to happen eventually, so it was cool to get it done now. Officially, I'm at around 16,000 words (64 pages or so), but I do have chunks of other scenes that may still work their way back into the draft.

- As always, I had fun at the Portland Spring Home & Garden Show last week. Much thanks to Roslyn McFarland for putting that together. Tomorrow, I'll be doing a Skype in the Classroom lesson with a school in Hollidaysburg, PA, followed by a local appearance at Burnt Bridge Creek Elementary right here in good old Vancouver (thanks to Susie Slanina for setting that up!)

Band Update:

- The lyrics for our third album Glorified are done, and now we're on to working out the vocal harmonies.

- Additional distribution and promotion of our first two albums by the UK-based indie label Fusion Records has begun!

- Tonight, we'll be doing a live interview and acoustic performance with our friends from Anarchy Radio, on location at Flying Pie Pizzeria in Milwaukie, OR. The fun starts at 6pm. Check it out!

TV Update:

- Season 2 of The Magicians has been epic so far. Favorite bits: "Where are my stuff touchers?" and "FU Fighters."

- Watched the first episode of Legion...I think it was exactly what they wanted it to be, which was pretty cool, but not really my sort of thing. I dunno, maybe I'll give it another shot.

- Season finale of Star vs. The Forces of Evil: about as compelling as a kid's cartoon - or really any show, for that matter - can get, on par with the best episodes of Gravity Falls. I couldn't look away.

Video Game Update:

- Been trying furiously to finish Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE before Breath of the Wild comes out TOMORROW but man, those Cosmic Egg puzzles are actually pretty confusing. I might have to shelve it and come back to it later.

- Did I mention that Breath of the Wild is coming out TOMORROW? My daughter and I are just a little bit excited. Because it's coming out TOMORROW.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Volume Three Launch Date Announcement!

Torin and I put together a short video announcing the launch date of Volume Three (full official title - Joel Suzuki, Volume Three: Legend of the Loudstone). In it, we also talk about the Earth-based chapter of the Wavemaker Order. So check it out!
Much mahalos go out to Torin for doing the video editing, some band called Second Player Score for providing the background music, and my friend Kara McCollum for giving me the selfie stick that we used to film this. You guys rock.

Oh, and don't forget, I'll be signing copies of Volumes One and Two at the Portland Spring Home & Garden Show tomorrow (Friday) night from 6-8pm. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cutting Room Floor

As I mentioned in last week's post, one of the perks of joining the Earth-based chapter of the Wavemaker Order is going to be unlimited access to the Wavemaker Archives, a members-only page on the Joel Suzuki website that will contain all kinds of cool exclusive content, like deleted scenes.
I store most of my deleted scenes in a document I call "Cutting Room Floor." With the way my writing process works, I don't like to keep stuff I don't want - ranging from single sentences to entire scenes - still sitting in the active draft, but I also don't want to dispose of them entirely either, so what I do is I cut and paste them into a separate document that I keep open alongside my working draft (how people ever wrote books before the advent of word processors, I have no idea.) This way, if I ever want to restore anything I've sliced out, it's all right there, ready and waiting.

There are currently 37,698 words in my Cutting Room Floor, roughly the equivalent of 150 pages' worth of stuff. That doesn't even count the other documents I have - basically complete and semi-complete drafts of the entire books - that contain larger unused passages and chapters. You've heard the expression "kill your darlings," right? Well, I'm pretty sure I (along with most authors that have several novels to their name) have, by now, committed the equivalent of darling-genocide. I've also killed a lot of non-darlings as well. Basically, I have a massive, overflowing graveyard of words. Which means there's a good supply of deleted scenes for all of you to enjoy!

I've already given you one of them in this blog post. And since I'm feeling generous today, I'll give you another one below the jump. If you want more, you'll just have to sign up for the Wavemaker Order!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Wavemaker Order

So, as promised in the Big Announcement post from about a month ago, I have another exciting new development to share with you!
Wavebow graphic courtesy of Roslyn McFarland
To help celebrate the launch of Volume Three and the rebirth of the Spectraland Saga into the Joel Suzuki series, my son Torin and I are starting up a virtual community called the Wavemaker Order. For those of you who don't know, the Wavemaker Order is the group of music-magicians from Spectraland - plus Joel and Felicity - who use their powers to help people and perform good deeds. The Earth-based chapter won't be able to perform any mystical wavecasts, unfortunately, but we will have a similar purpose. More than just a fan club for the book series, we will be a force for positive cultural change. Our goal will be to make this world a better place not only for people on the autism spectrum, but for people of ALL abilities.

And just how are we going to do that, you ask? Well, if you sign up, we'll share the master plan with you. Joining the order is free and easy - all you have to do is provide us with your email address. And as a bonus for joining, you'll gain access to the Wavemaker Archives - a members-only page on the Joel Suzuki website that will contain all kinds of cool exclusive content, including deleted scenes and more. You'll also receive regular emails from us that will contain updates on our mission's progress along with personal - and by personal, I do mean personal - messages from me that will reveal things not found in any public forum (including this blog!)

A sign-up page will be added to the website soon, but why wait? Email us at joelsuzukiseries@gmail.com right now and say "Yes, I want to join the Wavemaker Order!" Torin and I look forward to working with all of you on this very worthy and epic quest. Mahalo.