Thursday, September 20, 2018

Give More 24!

Today is Give More 24! What is that, you ask? Why, it's 24 hours in which you can make a positive difference in the world by donating to any one of the awesome nonprofit organizations based in the Southwest Washington area. "Sounds great," you say, "but which organization should I donate to?" Well, each organization is definitely worthy of your support, but allow me to make a suggestion: Autism Empowerment.
Why, you ask? Well, because not only are we dedicated to improving the quality of life for people and families in the autism community both locally and worldwide via our various programs, support groups, events, resources, and more, but also because we promote a global culture of acceptance for people of all abilities.

If that sounds good to you, then simply go this link and make a donation. Even just the minimum of $10 will be greatly appreciated. All donations are 100% tax-deductible, and best of all, giving feels good! I know this first-hand, because not only will I be donating today, but I also donate to Autism Empowerment (on an ongoing basis) one dollar for every Joel Suzuki book that is sold.

Thank you! Mahalo! Arigatou Gozaimashita! Gracias!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Joel And Felicity Discover Stereopony

INT. BRIAN'S LIVING ROOM - DAY

A young woman is here, drinking a diet cola and watching a video on YouTube. It's hard to tell whether she's 19, 24, or somewhere in between. This is FELICITY. After a few moments, a young man enters the room. He could be 17 or 22, depending on the lighting. This is JOEL.

J: What're you watching?
F: Oh, dude - it's this band that your cousin turned me on to.
J: My cousin?
F: Yeah, you know, the one who watches a lot of anime? Apparently she discovered this band from the theme song of one of her favorite shows.
J: What are they called?
F: Stereopony.
J: Stereopony?
F: That's what I just said.
J: It sounds like they're singing in Japanese.
F: They are. They're from Japan.
J: That would explain it.
F: They're, like, the best band from Japan I've ever heard. Heck, they might be one of best bands I've ever heard, period. Here, I'll start this one over again.

Felicity replays the video, which is "Hitohira No Hanabira." Joel watches it along with her.

J: Wow, yeah, they really are good.
F: Right? This is probably the greatest song in the history of the universe.
J: They look really young.
F: They started in high school. Kind of like us.
J: Not really, 'cause I was the only one in high school when we started.
F: Whatever. Anyway, this band is even better live. Check it out.

Felicity plays Stereopony's live performance of "Sweet Blue."

F: They have so much energy, and joy, and passion. Even their darker songs just have this vibrancy to them that you hardly hear in any other bands these days.
J: They sound like a cross between The Go-Gos and Green Day.
F: Yeah, it's like if you put The Go-Gos and Green Day into a microwave and pushed the button for "Japanese."
J: I'm not sure how that would work, exactly.
F: You know what I mean.

The video segues into a live performance of "Aozora Very Good Days."

F: Here's one of their more upbeat numbers.
J: They're really good songwriters. I can tell from just a few songs.
F: Yeah, I mean, you know me - I don't cry about anything, but their music makes me tear up.
J: Wow.
F: Maybe they've been to Spectraland. Maybe they're Wavemakers!
J: Huh? Why would you say that?
F: Remember that thing Marshall told us about how wavecasting trains your brain so that you can see how music affects human emotions?
J: I thought that was just a lie.
F: I don't know how else to explain it.
J: Maybe they're just geniuses.
F: Could be.

The video ends. Felicity clicks on a live performance of "Stand By Me."

F: Man, do they rock.
J: We should go see them. Are they on tour anywhere?
F: Uh, well...that's the problem.
J: What's the problem?
F: They broke up.
J: Recently?
F: No. In 2012.
J: Oh.
F: Yeah, this video is from their farewell concert.
J: Is there any chance of a reunion?
F: I've been looking into that, and from what I can tell, it doesn't seem like it.
J: Okay. Well, I have an idea.
F: Time travel?
J: Right.
F: That's not a bad idea.
J: Yeah, in fact, it might actually be 2012 right now. It's kind of hard to tell sometimes.
F: That's what happens when you keep messing with the timelines, dude.
J: Sorry.
F: Don't be.
J: All right, so should we travel to one of their shows?
F: Let's do it.
J: Which one?
F: How about the farewell one.
J: Okay. Oh, but we'll need money for tickets. And merch.
F: Right. Good thing I have Brian's credit card right here.

Felicity holds up Brian's credit card.

J: Does he know you have it?
F: Yeah. Or no. I dunno. Who cares?

An older man walks into the room. This is BRIAN. Felicity quickly hides the card.

B: Hey, what're you guys up to?
F: Oh, just checking out this killer band. You should take a listen.
B: Sounds good, I will.
F: In the meantime, Joel and I are just gonna step out for a bit. Be right back.
B: Okay.

Joel and Felicity leave the room, get their wavebows, and travel to the site of the Stereopony farewell concert. Everybody is happy, even Brian, who - despite the fact that Felicity is now racking up a huge bill on his credit card - is rocking out to Sterepony's music.

FADE OUT.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Quickie Status Updates

Reading:
The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann (very inspirational, great message)
Writing:
- New songs for Second Player Score's fourth album (I know, the third album isn't even out yet)
- A new feature-length screenplay for a romantic comedy that involves baseball, anime, philosophy, and magic (I am not kidding)
- A teleplay for the pilot episode of a TV show that is a sci-fi thriller involving augmented reality, secret government agencies, and teaching college English (I am also not kidding)

Watching:
Bleach (20 episodes down, only 346 more to go!)
Listening to:
Shadow Arcana, the new album from Undone (awesome!)
Various Stereopony tracks, especially "Hitohira No Hanabira" (quite possibly the best song in the history of the universe)
Various Scandal tracks, especially "Shunkan Sentimental" (a close second)

Drinking:
Kona Brewing's Hanalei Island IPA (tastes kind of like POG, but with alcohol!)
Looking Forward To:
Watching Michael Dickson punt for the Seahawks.
He's so good at his job, I almost want the team to not convert on 3rd downs just so I can see him do his thing. Almost.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Happy Birthday, Boots And Mittens!

Question #1: Can you believe these two are four years old already?
Question #2: Can you guess who is who? (The answer is below the break.)

Here's a recap of cat-related posts:

Boots And Mittens
Kat Birthday

Wait, there are only two? And this one makes three? Sheesh, I'm going to have to start writing more posts about my cats. Anyway, happy birthday, you guys!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Volume Four Title Announcement!

Joel Suzuki, Volume Four is back from editing! So to celebrate, I'm going to announce the official subtitle in 5, 4, 3...
The official subtitle of Joel Suzuki, Volume Four is "Fable of the Fatewave." And here's the back cover copy (which is still subject to change, but will give you a general idea of what the book is about):

- WARNING - Contains Mild Spoilers for Volume Three - 

"It was a bittersweet victory for Joel Suzuki and his fellow Wavemakers. The Six States under the Shroud were liberated, Spectraland was spared a possible invasion, and the Earth was kept safe for now. But it all came at a heavy cost.

There's no time to wallow in sorrow, however. After Joel gains some amazing new abilities - time travel among them - an unexpected attack occurs, placing Spectraland in jeopardy once more and fatally injuring the one person who can safely guide Joel to his potential destiny as the most powerful Wavemaker to ever live.

Now it appears that the only way to put things right again is for Joel to travel back in time and prevent the attack long before it even happens. But doing so might mean that he never comes over to Spectraland in the first place! Will Joel be able to change the past, preserve the present, and save the future...all at once?"

So now the next steps are for me to polish the manuscript, finalize the cover, and get all the ducks lined up for a possible launch date sometime this year. I can't wait to share Joel and Felicity's latest adventure with all of you!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Screenwriting Update: This Stuff Is Addicting

Before you read this post, I would recommend catching up with the story by reading the following previous posts. You don't have to, of course, but then that would be like starting on the Harry Potter series by reading Prisoner of Azkaban (am I comparing the Brian Tashima Blog to the as-of-this-moment best-selling novel series of all time? Only you can decide).

July 5, 2018: My Surreal Screenplay-Writing Experience
July 26, 2018: Can't Blog. Writing

Okay, so anyway, I told you in "Can't Blog. Writing" that the script for Nobody's Hero III was up to 55 pages and that who knows when it would be done. Well, now we know. It was completed six days later, on August 1st. After that, the story of those characters was pretty much complete, wrapped up with a neat little bow (and a tiny, tiny cliffhanger). So then the question was: now what? The draft of Joel Suzuki, Volume Four was still with my editor, so working on that wasn't an option. Should I get back to Joel Suzuki, Volume Five (which was sitting patiently at 8000 words)? Should I get back to the screenplay adaptation of Joel Suzuki, Volume One? Should I start on the unnamed secret project I mentioned in this Quickie Status Update post from July 21st?

As it turned out, the answer was: none of the above. What I did end up doing was writing a bunch of scripts for some short films that are loosely based on actual events regarding my band, Second Player Score. The whole concept behind them was to take the traditional structure of a full-length screenplay and distill it down to 1/10th of its normal size. I'm not sure where the idea to do something like that came from, but my guess is that it's the same source that basically used me as a human typewriter for the original Nobody's Hero script (which you'll know all about if you've followed my advice and read the "My Surreal Screenplay-Writing Experience" post first).

I need to digress here to establish something, which is that I've found screenwriting to be really, really, really enjoyable. Addicting, even. Its stripped-down format really forces you to focus strongly on story, dialogue, and character, removing the luxury of being able to lounge around in endless descriptive paragraphs about what your protagonist is wearing or eating or how many grooves are in the mandibles of the black-furred insect-demon creatures that are currently threatening to tear her to shreds (which, actually, sounds like kind of a fun idea. Excuse me while I add that to my list of projects to work on). And, to be honest, story, dialogue, and character have always been my favorite things to focus on, whether I'm writing my own stuff or reading other people's works.

So I guess you can imagine that, as much fun as I've had writing the scripts for the Nobody's Hero trilogy, I would have even MORE fun writing these short films, since they would have to be stripped down even MORE. And you would be pretty much correct. They were like a writing exercise that would be assigned at some kind of writing conference, only I got to pick the subject matter and I wouldn't have to read them aloud in front of thirty-five strangers if I didn't want to. The whole point was to try to convey the drama and the humor and the satisfying story beats of a two-hour film in, basically, eleven minutes. Which, come to think of it, is probably the goal of the writers who craft all of those excellent television cartoons like The Amazing World of Gumball and Star vs. the Forces of Evil, among others. Hey, you guys, let me know if you ever want me to guest-write an episode.

Anyway, I've written four of these things so far, and I figured I would share with you the loglines for each of them. For those of you who don't know, loglines are those little one- or two-sentence descriptions of a movie or show that you see when you're surfing through the choices in Netflix and/or your local cable provider.

Second Player Score Short Film #1: O-Story
A stoner bassist has twenty-four hours to finally put a promising band together before his practical-yet-stuffy girlfriend sells all of his gear for rent money.

Second Player Score Short Film #2: Gam & Honey
A musical and romantic duo that gets lost on the way to their next gig must find their way back before their career - and, possibly, their marriage - is irrevocably ruined.

Second Player Score Short Film #3: Battle of the Bands
A new band enters and wins a battle of the bands, only to get disqualified. Now they must work to clear their names before this setback leads to dire consequences for everyone involved.

Second Player Score Short Film #4: The Chronic-les of Beernia: The Architect, The Alchemist, and The Assembler
When three slacker bandmates are given special abilities by their alternate universe counterparts, they must use their new powers to complete a series of tasks before an uncertain fate befalls them.

And there you have it! I deliberately wrote each of these short films so that they could be easily produced on a relatively shoestring budget (i.e. iPhone video + Adobe Premiere Pro, for which I'm piggybacking on my son's student account), so maybe, just maybe, you might start seeing them pop up on the Second Player Score YouTube channel in the near future. Maybe.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Anime Roundup: Shows That Start With The Letter "S" Find Themselves In An Appropriate Category?

Okay, so it's only been ten weeks since the inaugural Anime Roundup post, but man - I am so into this stuff now that I just have to talk about it.
Anime Hair
If you've read the original post, then you know that these are not really reviews, they're just my random thoughts and feelings about shows that I've watched or am watching. And also, I group the shows into categories with Japanese-style rankings, as you shall see below.

Category S: Loved Them So Much That Once I Got Going I Couldn't Stop

Sword Art Online & Sword Art Online II
Wow, did I enjoy this. Its premise is similar to Ready Player One in that they both feature fully immersive virtual reality worlds; the film version of RPO even makes a reference to SAO. Can someone please hurry up and develop this technology for real already? Also, I found out that there's a full-length SAO movie, but then when I tried to rent it, only the English dub version was available. C'mon, people, I need the original Japanese version with English subtitles, otherwise it just doesn't seem like the same characters! Can you please make that available? I want to give you money! (Edit: I discovered that there's a DVD version available for purchase, which I just might have to do.)

Soul Eater
I actually noticed references to this show in the comic strip "Sally Forth" when the Forth family went to their local Comic-Con and Hil and her friend Duncan cosplayed as Maka and Soul. At the time I thought I sort of recognized them, based on seeing Maka and Soul elsewhere in a peripheral, subconscious fashion (probably at a Comic-Con in real life). So when I saw that the show was available on Netflix, I figured, why not give it a try. And wow, am I glad I did. Love it, love it, love it. The main theme song even inspired me to translate - poorly, I'm sure - the verses of an upcoming Second Player Score song into Japanese, which you may get to hear me attempt to sing if you attend the yet-to-be-scheduled release party for our third album.

One Punch Man
In the inaugural post I noted that this show was on a fast track to Category S. And, well, here it is. And yes, I know, it doesn't start with the letter "S," but whatever.

Previous category S shows: Death Note, Aggretsuko

Category A: Didn't Love Them, But Liked Them Well Enough

Ouran High School Host Club
This seemed kind of fun, and my daughter really liked it, so I thought I'd check it out. And yeah, it is fun. Lots of humor and probably the most "anime-ish" out of all the shows I've seen so far (i.e. the sweat drops, the exaggerated expressions, etc.). It's somewhat culturally progressive, too, which is awesome. Throw in some well-timed meta jokes and fourth wall-breaking on top of that, and it's be still, my heart!

(UPDATE 8/11/18: I just finished watching the last episode. Wow, so good. Not enough to elevate the entire series into Category S, but it definitely deserves a top ranking as far as individual episodes go.)

Previous category A shows: Devilman Crybaby

Category B: Tried To Get Into Them But Just Couldn't For Some Reason; Might Try Again Someday

Fullmetal Alchemist
Sorry, Dan. I watched fourteen episodes but then never really felt like picking it back up again. And I have no idea why. I mean, technically, this should be a show that I absolutely adore. I'm guessing that I'll give it another chance eventually.

Kill La Kill
Got through three episodes. I dunno, it wasn't bad, but I think the issue was that I was sampling Sword Art Online at the same time, and that show just sort of took off and squeezed everything else out.

Violet Evergarden
Saw two episodes. Was kind of slow for my taste. Seeing as how it appears to be - at some level - about writing, you would think I would've liked it more?

Gurren Lagann
Another show that, on the surface, should've rocketed its way straight to Category S. However, it stalled after three episodes.

Previous category B shows: Attack On Titan

Well, that's it for now. Let's see if I can wait another ten weeks before writing the next installment of Anime Roundup!