Thursday, August 14, 2014

Talkin' With Joel: Most Annoying Zelda Mini-Games (#9 - Salvatore's Squids)

...Aaaand we're back with our special guest, Joel Suzuki of the Spectraland Saga! Today we're going to be continuing our review and discussion of what I consider to be the most annoying mini-games from the Legend of Zelda series.

B: Morning, Joel. How's it going?
J: Good.
B: Do anything fun since our last show?
J: Yeah.
B: Like what?
J: I dunno...lots of stuff.
B:
J:
B: Okay, cool! Well, let's continue...

#9 - Salvatore's Squid Battleship Game (from Wind Waker)
B: This one is annoying because it's so random. There's really no consistent strategy that you can use other than spray and pray.
J: Yeah, mostly.
B: It wouldn't be as bad, I think, if it didn't cost rupees each time. 'Cause what always happens to me is that I play a bunch of times, run out of money, and then I have to go back out and smash pots and stuff until I can play again.
J: Yeah.
B: It's really just a lot of luck - not much skill involved.
J: My best score is ten.
B: Whoa - how did you pull that off?
J: It was mostly luck, but there are some things you can do to maximize your odds. Like, once you get a hit, look at the spaces around your hit and identify the more likely directions that you should try to go in - you know, like if there's more empty squares, or whatever. I dunno, I'm not really sure how to explain it. It's like Battleship, basically.
B: Hey, yeah, Battleship...isn't that the strategy you used to pass the Heatwraith's first test in the Flaming Fields?
J: What?
B: Oops, that's all the time we have for today! Join us next time as we count down to number eight....

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Talkin' With Joel: Most Annoying Zelda Mini-Games (#10 - Fun Fun Island)

Today, my special guest in the studio is none other than the star of the Spectraland Saga, Joel Suzuki! We'll be talking about a very important subject that is near and dear to both of our hearts: the most annoying mini-games/side quests from the Legend of Zelda series.

B: Hey Joel, thanks for being here.
J: Um, okay.
B: So, the first thing I want to say before we begin is that I haven't actually played all of the games in the Zelda series, just so you know.
J: All right. Which ones have you played?
B: Mostly just the console-based ones. Not really any of the DS-only ones.
J: Does that include, like, virtual console?
B: Yeah, I guess.
J: What about the Famicom Disk System? That's technically a console, although it's an add-on. And what about the GBA? That's a handheld, but still technically a console, and you said that you didn't really play any of the DS-only ones, but you didn't say anything about the other handhelds. And, you know, actually, the DS is also technically a console, so what you said doesn't really make sense.
B: Hmm, yeah...good point. Okay, let's put it this way - the games that I've played are: A Link To The Past, Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword, and a little bit of A Link Between Worlds.
J: Ocarina of Time or Ocarina of Time 3D?
B: Just the regular Ocarina of Time. The non-3D one.
J: Wind Waker or Wind Waker HD?
B: Both.
J: Okay.
B: Great, let's begin!

#10 - Fun Fun Island (from Skyward Sword)
B: This one was super hard. So hard that I started calling it "No Fun Island."
J: Okay.
B: But I eventually did do it, so I guess it couldn't have been that bad.
J: How many tries did it take you?
B: I dunno, like dozens. I spent several hours on it.
J: Wow.
B: What about you?
J: What about me?
B: How many tries did it take you?
J: Two.
B: You're kidding.
J: No.
B: How did you do that?
J: Once you know how to dive, then the rest is just timing. I almost had it the first time, but Taylor was bothering me.
B: That's amazing. Well, that's all the time we have for today. Join us next time as we continue counting down the list!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

My Musical History, Episode 12: Evicted

After a handful of shows, Upper80 wasted no time in prepping a few songs for recording. For a studio, we chose Jackpot! Recording, since I had met the owner/engineer (Larry Crane of Tape Op magazine) at the NxNW music festival and he seemed like a really cool guy.

So, we went in and laid down four tunes, including a version of something that you may have heard in Second Player Score's set. Then, we decided to name the EP...oh wait, I'm getting ahead of myself...
Holy cow, look at that hair!!
Right around the time that this was all happening, there was an interesting little incident at our practice space. If you recall from Episode 11, the space we were renting was a storage unit in downtown Portland - basically a small room in a building where the other tenants were mostly just people looking for a place to stash their excess junk.

Portland, however, is home to approximately two-and-a-half gajillion bands, and the amount of available practice space is so limited that most places have a waiting list longer than whatever is super incredibly long. So, once word got out that our landlords were renting out storage units to bands (us) and letting them (us) practice there, other bands descended upon the building like a mad swarm of hungry termites.*

Next thing we knew, we had tons of new neighbors that not only practiced their music at the place, but also did a lot of...let's call it "hanging out." Now, I'm not judging them one way or another, but what ended up happening was that, one particular night - when we weren't there, mind you - a fire was accidentally set in one of the rooms. Yup, that's right, a fire. Fortunately, no one was hurt and nothing was really damaged, but needless to say, the landlords were not too pleased. They immediately terminated the leases of every band that was renting a room there, including us.

So now, we were out of a practice space. Fortunately, we were already well-rehearsed for the already-booked recording sessions, so that wasn't an issue, but since we had no place to practice once the sessions were finished, the forecast for Upper80's future was cloudy at best (see what I did there? Upper80, like a weather forecast? You know, "high temperatures in the upper 80s, lows in the lower 70s"...okay, never mind. You can stop groaning now)

Oh yeah, so to memorialize our getting kicked out, we ended up naming the four-song EP Evicted. We sent it out to a few places, sold a few copies, and then slowly faded away into the place that bands fade away into when they have no place to rehearse.

Next: Hiatus, Then A Chuck Palahniuk Novel Reference

* If the building were made of wood, which it wasn't, but you know what I mean

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Status Updates

Second Player Score
First off, thanks to everyone who came out to Shanahan's to see us, Rocket 3, and Stab In The Dark! We had a great time, and we hope you did too.
We also managed to secure our first instance of airplay, on the Parker Bombshell podcast. I would suggest listening to the entire show as it's all pretty cool, but the best part comes in at around 39:30.

The Spectraland Saga
The Book Two rewrite is coming along nicely - not much else to report there. I will, however, be giving a live reading tomorrow night for Books & Beers at the Three Mugs Brewing Company in Hillsboro. (6-9pm, 2020 NW Aloclek Dr, Suite 108)
Other authors scheduled to appear include April Aasheim, Miriam Lambert, John Copp, Linda Mercury, and our esteemed host, Jason Brick. Should be a blast. Hope to see you there!

Video Games
I finished my Xenoblade replay, and while I didn't come anywhere close to my goal of completing all of the side quests (there are hundreds of them), I at least managed to rebuild Colony 6, so woo!
I'm now currently playing the Lego Movie game. Great movie, and decent game (although it's basically just like any other Lego video game). I'm also concurrently doing a replay of Ocarina of Time, since I realized the other day that I never actually finished that game, for some odd unknown reason. But the real question is, where are my pants?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How To Become A Rock Star

As I mentioned in my last post, I used to teach a music business class at Mt. Hood Community College. The subjects that I covered basically consisted of everything I learned during my years of playing in bands and running my indie label (Crash The Luau Records) - sort of a "learn from what I've done and don't make the same mistakes that I did" kind of thing.
One day, one of my students asked me the following question: "So, how do I become a rock star?" Now, not being one on the level of what she was talking about (e.g. The Beatles, Elvis, etc.), I didn't feel qualified enough to answer that question in the way she was hoping, but what I could offer her was my take on that subject based on my experiences and observations. Here's a six-point summary of what I said:

1. Do everything you can, and then some. Even if you have two day jobs and lots of other responsibilities, make the time to do at least one thing every day - think of a vocal melody while you're in the shower, post a flyer on your way to the store, e-mail a radio station on your lunch break.

2. Try anything and everything, because you just never know. My rock band in Hawaii, Tone Deaf Teens, sent a press kit to the producer of a local TV show that featured mellow "Hawaiian music" artists - it turns out that he was actually an AC/DC fan and was happy to book an appearance for us.

3. Get rid of self-limiting thoughts, like "I'm too old" or "No one plays this kind of music on the radio" or whatever. Other people will be more than happy to try and put limits on you, so don't help them out. Be your own biggest fan.

4. Don't compare yourself to others. Just because the members of that other local band all live with their parents and can spend eighteen hours a day working on their music and promotion doesn't mean that they'll go somewhere and you won't.

5. It's okay to get discouraged from time to time, but don't give up. Keep going. Remember that while a big part of becoming the Next Big Thing is luck, you can't win if you don't play.

6. Have fun. Relax. Work hard, but don't try hard, if you know what I mean. After all, the main reason why you make music in the first place is because you love it - right?

Or, of course, as readers of Book One know, you could try to find your way over to Spectraland to learn the secret of how sound waves affect human emotions, enabling you to write one undeniable hit song after another...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

My Musical History, Episode 11: A Really Big Change

After the record label debt was paid off, a really big change happened: I relocated to the mainland. Vancouver, Washington, to be exact. For those of you who don't know, Vancouver is a town on the Washington/Oregon border, right across the Columbia River from Portland (the home of this particular TV show.)
It was funny trying to describe to my friends in Hawaii where, exactly, it was that I moved to. A typical conversation usually went something like this:

Me: So, yeah, I'm in Vancouver now.
Friend: Vancouver? You mean Canada?
Me: No, um, Vancouver, Washington. Washington state.
Friend: What? Washington? So, like, Seattle?
Me: No - Southwest Washington. Near the Oregon border. We're actually right next to Portland.
Friend: You moved to Portland?
Me: Forget it

Anyway, once I arrived here, I got straight down to the business of putting together a new band. Since this was still in the days before Craigslist and Facebook - seriously? - I went back to the tried and true process of running some classified ads in local music zines and posting flyers in music stores. Eventually, I managed to find a drummer who you will be hearing about in future episodes of this serial (and have already heard about before.)

At the same time, I also began teaching a music business class at Mt. Hood Community College. As luck would have it, one of my students was a guitarist that I ended up getting along with pretty well. So, after the aforementioned drummer and I cycled through a bunch of bassist candidates, we contacted this guitarist and forced coerced asked him to play bass with us.*

With the lineup now set, we found a rehearsal space in downtown Portland (a storage unit) and put together a bunch of new songs. And thus, Upper80 was born. I was pretty excited, because I had heard a lot of positive things about the Portland music scene, and during my short time as a resident of the area I had already seen a bunch of good bands at cool clubs that seemed to support and appreciate original rock music. So, world domination plans, back on track, right? Right? Well...

Next: Evicted

P.S. Don't forget to come out to Shanahan's this Saturday @ 9pm to check out Rocket 3, Stab In The Dark, and Second Player Score!

* Because remember, nobody actually wants to - aw, you know already

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wisdom Teeth

So, my son has to get his wisdom teeth pulled. He normally doesn't want me to post pictures of him in my blog or anywhere else, but I think in this case he won't mind.
He does mind, so this is not actually his picture

I had my wisdom teeth removed when I young - fortunately, I only had two instead of four - and it was actually not that bad of an experience. The oral surgeon used local anesthesia plus nitrous oxide, and I got to listen to music on headphones while he operated. My music of choice? The album Powerslave by Iron Maiden. I recall basically just rocking out to that while I felt odd tinkering sensations in my mouth. Neat.

While the operation itself went more smoothly than I expected, it was what came afterwards that was the challenging part. A fair amount of discomfort, along with a liquid diet and whatever it is I had to do with salt water made the following few days less than fun. What helped make it better? Books. I couldn't eat much food, so instead, I devoured the entire Original Shannara Trilogy - all 1800 or so words of it.

I was hoping that by the time my kids had to go through something like this, some smart people would have perfected the technology to simply vaporize the teeth with lasers, or maybe transport them out of the mouth, Star Trek-style. No such luck, but I know that my son will get through it with his own distractions of choice. Hopefully that kind of advanced technology I described will be ready for the next generation (see what I did there)