Thursday, December 1, 2016

Release Party Recap

Mahalo to everyone who braved the rain and made it out to Shanahan's last Saturday for Second Player Score's CD release party! I had tons of fun and I hope you did too.
We shared the stage with 100 Proof and The Welkin Dim, both of whom seriously rocked. Always cool to play with other great hometown bands.
Rockradam, my good friend and former Tone Deaf Teens bandmate from Hawaii, made what is now becoming his biennial surprise visit, along with Mr. Jones, another good friend from Hawaii who recently moved to the area. It was awesome to see them.
So in case you missed it, you'll have a second chance next Thursday, December 8th, at Ash Street Saloon in Portland, where we'll be playing with Cellar Door and Kings & Vagabonds. It'll be a great time!

Oh, and then the Saturday after that (the 10th), I'll be putting my author hat back on and appearing at this year's Holiday Litera-Cheer reading & signing at Another Read Through Bookstore in Portland from 1:30-3pm, along with the other brilliant authors listed below. Come and hang out with us, there will be food!
See you all next week!

P.S. On Sunday, Rockradam and I went to eat at the local Cafe Yumm, after which we left to go watch the Seattle-Tampa Bay game. A short while later, this happened. So even though that was a dismal performance by the Seahawks in the actual game, at least they saved us from getting smooshed. Thanks guys!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thank You! Plus, CD Release Party

Today I would like to give thanks to all of you who have supported Autism Empowerment and The Spectraland Saga. Whether you're a newcomer to the cause or have been with us since day one, believe me when I say that your efforts, contributions, purchases, and fandom have been and will continue to be greatly and sincerely appreciated.
WE LOVE YOU ALL
Anyway, regardless of what you're doing today (eating turkey? watching football? both?) and tomorrow (waking up early to buy socks?), come on down to Shanahan's in beautiful and suddenly trendy downtown Vancouver, WA this Saturday night and help celebrate the release of Second Player Score's second album, Nobody's Hero.

We'll be playing the album in its entirely and in order from beginning to end, and I'll be talking about the concept behind the songs, so it'll be kind of like VH1's Storytellers. The festivities begin at 9pm, and two other awesome bands - 100 Proof and The Welkin Dim - will also be performing. It'll be tons of fun (and you can work off some calories by jumping around), so hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Post That Is Sort Of About Football, Mid-Season Edition

Two months ago, I wrote a blog post called A Post That Is Sort Of About Football in which I gave my one-line thoughts about each NFL team following the first game of the season. Now that the season has reached the halfway mark (or gone a little past it, actually, but who's counting), I thought it'd be fun to revisit this subject and see just how much jinxing power I actually possess.
Arizona Cardinals: two months ago, I said that they've become "annoyingly good." Since then, they've gone 4-4-1 and traded missed winning field goals with the Seahawks. Jinxed?

Atlanta Falcons: I said nothing jinx-worthy, and now they are 6-4 and in first place in their division.

Baltimore Ravens: please beat the Cowboys this weekend (check back in January to see what kind of effect this statement had.)

Buffalo Bills: as promised, for one week I hated them with a burning passion. Their quarterback is a lot better than I thought.

Carolina Panthers: they play the Seahawks next month, so I think I will keep my mouth shut.

Chicago Bears: like I said last time, they were fun in the '80s.

Cincinnati Bengals: I said nothing jinx-worthy, and now they are 3-5-1 and in third place in their division. Hmm.

Cleveland Browns: hey, at least your baseball team reached the World Series, something the Mariners have yet to do.

Dallas Cowboys: last time I said "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." Well, now the ex has gotten a new makeover and/or a fancy car and suddenly looks way hotter than you remember them.

Denver Broncos: I took a little swipe at them last time, thanking them for Super Bowl XLVIII. Good thing they don't play the Seahawks in the regular season.

Detroit Lions: it's almost Thanksgiving and these guys are tied for first place in their division. What?

Green Bay Packers: two months ago, I said "Stop being so cool. And so good." And then they listened to me. Jinxed?

Houston Texans: I said nothing jinx-worthy, and now they are 6-3 and in first place in their division.

Indianapolis Colts: at 4-5, I'm not sure I'll get a chance to abhor them with the fury of a thousand suns.

Jacksonville Jaguars: maybe they'll fire Gus Bradley and then he can come back to the Seahawks?

Kansas City Chiefs: I guess loud stadiums pay off.

Los Angeles Rams: two months ago, I said "Unlike the Cardinals, they are not annoyingly good, but they are annoyingly good at beating the Seahawks for some reason." Since then, they've amassed a losing record while beating the Seahawks along the way. I'm not sure if that's a jinx or not.

Miami Dolphins: have made a nice recovery since week one. Good job, fish.

Minnesota Vikings: started off hot, cooled down a lot recently. Maybe they're following the Minnesota weather?

New England Patriots: No comment.

New Orleans Saints: I zinged them last time, teasing them about losing at home to the Raiders. Then they went out and beat the Seahawks. That's a total jinx. On me, not them.

New York Giants: I said nothing jinx-worthy, and now they are 6-3, in second place in their division, and just a half-game behind the Seahawks' record.

New York Jets: I said nothing jinx-worthy, and now...never mind.

Oakland Raiders: I zinged them indirectly by teasing the Saints about losing at home to them. Now they are 7-2 and tied for first place in their division.

Philadelphia Eagles: they play the Seahawks this coming Sunday, so I think I will keep my mouth shut.

Pittsburgh Steelers: you just couldn't beat the ex, I mean, the Cowboys, could you. Dangit.

San Diego Chargers: I still like your powder blue uniforms.

San Francisco 49ers: eeeyeah.

Seattle Seahawks: No comment.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: see "Carolina Panthers" above.

Tennessee Titans: even though Marcus Mariota, a Hawaii native, is their quarterback, this is the one team that always seems to elude my mind for some reason whenever I'm doing a Joel Suzuki and thinking up a list of AFC teams in my head.

Washington Redskins: I said nothing jinx-worthy, and now they are 5-3-1 but in third place in their division. I think the conclusion here is that my jinxing powers are probably more confirmation bias than anything else. Still, though, I will stick by my "no comment" statements above, just in case. Go Hawks!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Joel and Felicity: A Portrait

If you follow The Spectraland Saga's Facebook page (and if you don't, you totally should, it's fun) then you've probably seen this already. But that's okay, because it's so epically awesome that I just had to talk about it again here.
This is a portrait of Joel and Felicity that my daughter drew for me. It's...it's so perfect. I don't even really have the words to describe just how incredible it is. So you know what? I'm not gonna even try. I'm just gonna stop talking here and let you bask in its glory. You're welcome.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Album Two Is Here!

Yes, the second album by Second Player Score was officially released on November second, um, I mean, first! It's called Nobody's Hero.
It contains eleven brand new tracks and is available on CDBaby, Amazon, iTunes, or direct from our website if you want an autographed physical copy!

As I may have mentioned before, it's a quasi-concept album that tells the story of...ah, well, why don't I just let our esteemed biographer (who goes by the name of "Suzi" and doubles as my blog editor) tell you all about it! Take it away, Suze...

Thanks Brian! Well, prior to a show that Second Player Score played at a bar in downtown Vancouver, Washington, the bar’s manager — possibly influenced by “Chosen One,” a song off of SPS’s debut album, Fortress Storm Attack — was asked by a patron to characterize the band’s sound. His reply? “Like if Bad Religion wrote songs about video games.” Would that be an accurate description?

“It could be,” Brian Tashima, guitarist/vocalist, says with a chuckle. “But I think it goes a little deeper than that. We don’t actually have songs — besides “Chosen One,” of course — that contain specific references to video games per se, but pop culture as a whole is where a lot of our inspiration comes from, so I guess that description kind of captures the spirit of who we are as people in general.”

Indeed, most of the material on Fortress Storm Attack and the band’s newly-released sophomore album, Nobody’s Hero, does not so much reflect a direct relationship to the topics adored by Comic-Con attendees (of which the band members proudly count themselves as being among) as they do a certain vibe and sensibility that can only come from people who have been steeped in that particular scene since childhood.

For example, while it never explicitly says so, the cover art of Fortress Storm Attack is a direct tribute to the “All your base are belong to us” Internet meme that grew out the 1989 video game Zero Wing. And now, with Nobody’s Hero, the band returns with a quasi-concept album that tells the Dungeons & Dragons-esque story of a man, granted magical powers by an evil spirit, who ends up destroying the world.

“Basically, this guy gets seduced by a female demon who gives him these special abilities, and initially, he tries to help people with them, but then he eventually succumbs to the temptation of using them for selfish and corrupt purposes,” Tashima explains. “Having done that, he becomes worthy of being her consort and siring her child — a daughter who will grow up to continue the cycle. The demon then betrays and abandons him, leaving him for dead. He survives, though, and uses what’s left of his powers to stop her in the only way possible, which is to cause an apocalypse that wipes everyone out, including them. It’s like a Greek tragedy.”

Sounds fun. How did the band come up with such a story?

“It actually sort of wrote itself,” drummer/vocalist Kyle Gilbert says. “We didn’t set out to make a concept album, but as we were developing the songs, the story just appeared. That’s how we tend to do things, for the most part — we don’t plan it, we just go with the flow and take things as they come to us, whatever happens naturally, whatever feels right.”

“We try to plan, but that usually never works out,” bassist/vocalist Daniel Downs adds with a laugh.

The eleven songs on Nobody’s Hero reflect a darker, heavier sound that still manages to retain the anthemic hooks and vocal harmonies that have become the band’s signature. From the crunching riffs and beer bottle-slide solos of the opening track, “Bonestorm,” to the ska-like verses that give way to an epic instrumental finish in the closer, “Comets,” this album showcases the growth of a band that counts not only artists like Bad Religion and Green Day among its influences, but all of geek culture itself. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Mini Movie Roundup: Spectrum Edition

This is not a roundup of mini movies. This is a mini roundup, meaning that I'll be talking about less movies than I usually do in similar posts. And why am I doing that, you ask? Because I felt like it. Also, I really want to talk about The Accountant. And as always, there will be spoilers! (By the way, in case you haven't read my past movie roundups, be aware that these are not really reviews. I leave stuff like that up to the professionals.)

The Accountant
First off: I enjoyed this movie. It was a competent action thriller. I love that the titular protagonist is on the autism spectrum, and that the movie made that fact explicitly clear. It would have been nice if they cast someone who was actually on the spectrum for real, but I understand that a big marquee name is needed to sell a movie like this (and Dan Aykroyd wouldn't really have been right for the part).

The one thing I kept thinking, though, was this: it's cool that we now have an autistic action hero in a big-time mainstream movie, but it's too bad he has to be a morally ambiguous mass-murdering vigilante. I mean, seriously, he was more antihero than hero, like if you gave Batman some assault weapons (yes, Ben Affleck seemed to be channeling one of his other roles a good portion of the time) and injected him with Deadpool DNA, minus the wisecracks. A review that I read afterwards even said "Is the viewing public ready for an action franchise featuring an autistic hero? I hope so. But moviegoers and people with autism alike deserve one better than The Accountant." Hmm, now where could you possibly find something like that, I wonder...?

Now, I'm not saying that Joel Suzuki is necessarily better than Christian Wolff. I just think that they can and should coexist in a world that, in general, needs more characters like them. Morally ambiguous can be interesting in the right context, but Chris Wolff shouldn't be the lone standard-bearer of fictional autistic role models (and, to paraphrase Charles Barkley, he's definitely not a role model in the traditional sense). He can exist in the area of the pop culture landscape that is geared more towards adults (The Accountant is rated R, after all), while Joel can take up residence in the space that is focused on younger audiences as well as other people who appreciate that kind of positive, kid-friendly vibe. Kind of like Neo and Harry Potter - there's room for more than one Chosen One. And so we should thank Mr. Wolff for opening the door, at least.

While we're at it, shouldn't actors that are actually on the spectrum have more opportunities to become big marquee names themselves? One candidate already comes to mind. Just saying.

Life, Animated
This is a nonfiction biopic of a young man on the spectrum whose interest in Disney movies helps him to connect. There are some slow stretches as well as spots that seemed to unintentionally veer toward condescension, but overall, I found it to be a moving and inspiring film that shows how we are all alike in many ways.

Alice Through the Looking Glass
I finally got around to seeing this one, and it goes with today's theme because Lewis Carroll, the author of the Alice in Wonderland books, is rumored to have been on the spectrum.

Okay, so this movie wasn't as good as the first one. Still, I didn't think it was as bad as a lot of critics were saying (it did get a 6.3 on IMDb, after all). The visuals were spectacular, I like how they handled the time travel aspect, and they managed to fit in some semi-touching moments of character development. I do have to admit that Borat as Time was kind of distracting, though.

And so that wraps up this edition of Movie Roundup. As previously promised, the next one should include Doctor Strange, Rogue One, Fantastic Beasts, and whatever else happens to make its way into my viewing rotation. Now go see The Accountant!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

I Can Hack You Back In Time, Just Like A Time Machine

One of the neat things about having a blog like this, or a journal, or a diary, or whatever, is that it can help you travel though time. I mean, not literally, of course, but if you've been doing it long enough (writing a blog, not time travel), you can go back and see what it is you were thinking and/or doing at this same time a year or more ago. So strap on your Power Gloves, my friends, and take a journey with me. It's hacking time!
October 22, 2015
"Book Two Cover Unveiled!"
Man, has it been a year already? In this post, I officially revealed the cover art for Mystery of the Moonfire along with the back cover copy. It was the culmination of a long and awesome journey that, at times, seemed like it would never end. And now I'm almost ready to do a similar announcement for Book Three!

October 23, 2014
"Believe Me, I Am Still Working On Book Two"
Speaking of a long journey, if you go back another year, you will see that I was still wandering in the proverbial darkness with regards to writing Book Two. Pretty hilarious, right? And by the way, that Kikada reboot movie was disappointingly terrible.

October 24, 2013
"Quick Hits"
I was still talking about Book Two here, saying that it was "making progress." Ha! I also just bought my awesome Hylian Shield and Master Sword, which I have yet to proudly hang up on my wall since I've been too bulazy (busy + lazy) to drill the requisite holes and such. Yes, that's three years and counting now. I also mentioned that Second Player Score's first album was coming out soon, and now we're about to release our second one!* So maybe by album four or so I'll finally get around to mounting my Zelda gear in a place of honor where it belongs. We shall see.

October 22, 2012
"Monday Awesomeness Alert and Book Two Status Update"
Wow, I was posting on a Monday back then! And I was still talking about Book Two, bahaha, saying that it was "coming along." At the time, I was at 4000 words. How cute. Heck, I'm over 4000 words on Book Four already! Which I guess makes this post a Book Four Status Update? Hmmm...sure, why not.

* Speaking of which, be sure to tune into Neue Regel Radio next Tuesday at 10am Pacific, when I'll be doing a live interview to talk about said album!