Thursday, May 28, 2015

...Aaaaand I'm Back!

Did you miss me? Felicity really wanted to take a break from filling in for me this week, so I agreed to step back in and take over again for a while. Don't worry, it's cool, I'm still hard at work on the Book Two revisions, and in fact, I'm happy to say that I'm a little ahead of schedule so far. So, I figured I'd give you all an update on what's been going on besides that.

Second Player Score played a couple of great shows this month. On Saturday the 9th, we did Anarchy Radio's 3rd Birthday Party at the Oak Grove Bar and Grill along with our good friends Stab In The Dark and Laurelhurst. Tons of fun, great crowd, and cake! Mmm, cake.
We also played a couple of new songs live for the first time: "Demon's Kiss" and "Origin Story." Both of them will be on our upcoming second album that is due out next year. More on that below!

Then, on Saturday the 16th, we rocked out over at the Adams St. Bar in beautiful downtown Camas. We were joined by our usual showmates Stab In The Dark, along with Kings and Vagabonds and a great band that had just come out of semi-retirement, The Secludes. I'm glad they're playing again, 'cause those guys kick some serious butt.
As for our second album, Boot Camp continued in earnest once those shows were done. What is Boot Camp, you say? Go back and refresh your memory by reading this post from a couple of months ago! We have studio time booked for July, and we're planning on recording two songs: "Deep" and "Comets." So, we set up the good ol' 8-track and made a demo of "Deep" this past Saturday.
Intense guitar face
Then on June 13th, we'll be back at Shanahan's in Vancouver along with Stab In The Dark and another great band, Medium Size Kids, who you should really check out. Seriously, do it now. In fact, here's a link to one of their cool videos. Once you hear them, you're really not gonna want to miss this show. I know I'm looking forward to it.
Video game update: there is none! I stopped playing Fire Emblem after I got to the final-final boss because I had basically screwed up along the way and didn't add the right characters or whatever to be able to beat it, so I gave up. After that, I gave Pier Solar and the Great Architects a try, but it hasn't really caught on for me just yet. I might give it another shot, but in the meantime, I'm really just waiting and waiting for an announcement about the new Xenoblade's release date. C'mon, Nintendo, you're killing us here...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Guest Post #3: Felicity Talks Avatar: The Last Airbender

Yo, Felicity again. I really didn't feel like doing fill-in blog-duty this week, but that dude kept whining and begging and stuff (ed: no I didn't) so finally I felt sorry for him and said fine, whatever. Seriously, I don't know what the heck he's spending so much time working on. It's like he's trying to write a novel, or something.

Anyhoo, I'm just gonna ramble aimlessly until I fill enough space to call it a day. So, last week I was talking to Joel about his favorite female sci-fi/fantasy characters - again, not my idea - and when he mentioned Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender, it brought back some memories about that show, which I actually kinda liked when it was on.
For those of you who aren't familiar with it, it was a TV show that was on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008, and it was about a kid named Aang who could manipulate - or "bend," as they called it - all four elements (air, water, earth, fire) while other folks could only do one, if that. It was set in kind of an alternate world that was like Earth, but not really, because, you know, of all the bending and stuff, and it had this totally Asian anime-type flavor to it.

There were three seasons, so it was like a trilogy, and the storyline was sort of your basic reluctant-chosen-one-saves-the-world-from-the-evil-warlord kind of deal. But the writing was really good, and there was a nice balance of action and humor and all that stuff that makes things fun to watch. Since I have a black belt in karate, I also appreciated all of the realistic martial arts moves, which I've heard they put a lot of effort into to make them look authentic and stuff.

I also liked how the girls in the show were portrayed. Like Joel said last week, Aang's co-star Katara was a strong character who wasn't just tagging along and healing Aang whenever he got hurt. Well, I mean, she did that too, but she really kicked some serious butt with her own waterbending skills and saved the day on her own more than once (in fact, at times I felt like Aang was a little too dependent on her). And other female characters like Toph (I looove Toph), Suki, and even crazy Azula were independent, powerful ladies who could more than hold their own against anyone.

So, yeah, in case you haven't guessed by now, I would say that if you haven't watched this show yet, you should totally check it out. But don't watch the movie adaptation of it - seriously, just don't. It's bad. Not like the so-bad-it's-good kind of thing - it's just bad.

Well, I think that's enough for this week. Maybe next time I'll do one of those liveblog dealies where I'll watch an episode of this show and talk about it while it goes on. Or maybe not. Laters

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Guest Post #2: Joel's Favorite Female Sci-Fi/Fantasy Characters

Okay, Felicity Smith here, back for another week of boring busy work filling in for what's-his-name while he's off working on some kind of manuscript or something. I actually think that he's taking a vacation, but whatever.

So, last time we left off with me interviewing Joel about his favorite female sci-fi/fantasy characters (not my idea). We decided that we were just gonna do his top five because there's no way I'm gonna sit through one of his entire lists, which can easily get into the hundreds. I'm not kidding. All right, here we go.

Me: Yo
Joel: Um, hey.
Me: So, top five female sci-fi/fantasy characters. Go.
Joel: Wait, what?
Me: Don't you remember? We talked about this last week.
Joel: Uh, well...
Me: Don't think about it too much.
Joel: Okay. Well, number five would be a tie.
Me, sighing: Of course it is.

#5 (tie): Katara (from Avatar: The Last Airbender) and Korra (from The Legend of Korra)
Joel: So, yeah, it's these two.
Me: Okay, tell me why.
Joel: Why what?
Me: Why do you like them.
Joel: Oh, uh, well...I dunno, they're just really strong characters who can fight and do awesome stuff.
Me: ...and?
Joel: And, uh, you know, Katara really helped Aang with his journey, like teaching him waterbending and stuff, and she was supportive of him, but independent too. Like, you know, she wasn't just a sidekick or something like that. She played a big part in the whole story. And Korra, I mean, well, she's the Avatar. You can't get much more awesome than that.
Me: Those are actually pretty good reasons.
Joel: Did you know they're both from the Southern Water Tribe? I thought that was kind of cool, because -
Me: Yes, I've seen the shows. Let's go to the next one, shall we? Who's number four. And please don't tell me it's a tie.
Joel: It's not.

#4: Princess Leia Organa (from Star Wars)
Me: That's a pretty obvious choice.
Joel: Yeah.
Me: So, reasons?
Joel: Well, kind of similar to Katara and Korra...she's strong and does her own thing. She's in charge of the Rebel forces, she can use a blaster, and she's even Force-sensitive, although she doesn't really know it.
Me: Dude, I am so glad you didn't mention the metal bikini.
Joel: I, uh, well, I, um...
Me: Moving on.

#3: Katniss Everdeen (from The Hunger Games)
Me: Hold on, I need to grab a soda.
Joel: Okay.
Me: All right, I'm back. So - Katniss Everdeen, eh?
Joel: Um, yeah.
Me: Why.
Joel: To be honest, I actually didn't like her too much at first, because she seemed to be kind of mean and grouchy. But then the more I read, the more I started to like her. She really cared for her sister, and she made friends with Rue instead of killing her, and all that stuff. Plus, she was really good with the bow and arrow, which was cool.
Me: And who can forget "Thank you for your consideration."
Joel, laughing: Yeah, that was sweet.
Me: Sure. Okay, who's number two.

#2: Hermione Granger (from Harry Potter)
Me: You realize that these are all, like, really well-known characters. Don't you have some obscure favorites?
Joel: Well, yeah, I mean, I didn't have much time to think about this, so I just kinda went with the ones off the top of my head. I can list a whole bunch more if you like, just give me a few minutes to -
Me: Forget it. Hermione Granger, yay. Tell me about her.
Joel: You don't know who Hermione Granger is?
Me, sighing: Of course I do. What I meant was, tell me about why you like her.
Joel: Um, she's smart, good at spells, strong, independent...
Me: I'm starting to sense a recurring theme here.
Joel: Huh?
Me: Never mind, continue.
Joel: Well, uh...that's it, really.
Me: Okay, great. number one, here we go.
Joel: Should I do a drum roll?
Me: No.

#1: Princess Zelda (from The Legend of Zelda)
Me: I should have guessed.
Joel: I like her 'cause she's -
Me: Yeah, yeah, I know, she can fight, she can use light arrows, and even though Link has to rescue her a lot, she does seem to be able to hold her own, especially in the later games. She's even a pirate in Wind Waker, and her Sheik alter ego kicks some serious butt.
Joel: Wow, you seem to know a lot about her. I though you didn't play video games?
Me: I don't. I just read all this stuff somewhere.
Joel: Um, okay. So why did you ask me for this list, anyway?
Me: I dunno, it was that other dude's idea - you know, the guy who runs this blog.
Joel: Oh, right.
Me: But yeah, that's a good question - why would he want me to talk to you about your favorite female fictional characters?
Joel: Yeah, I mean, it's not like you're a fictional character or anything.
Me: Wait, what did you just say?
Joel: Um, nothing.
Me: Hmm. Well, anyway, I think that's good enough for this week. Even though I don't really want to, I'm pretty sure I'll be back next time to talk about something else. Hopefully something that I choose. So, until then, later.
Joel: Bye.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Guest Post #1: Felicity Interviews Joel

Hey, what's up, I'm Felicity Smith. The dude that normally writes this blog said that he's busy revising "Book Two," whatever the heck that is, so he asked me to fill in for him this week. Now normally, I would have told him no way, but I guess I owe him for all the diet sodas I've been drinking out of his fridge, so here goes. Keep in mind that I'm not a writer (I hated English class, even though I always got As, thank you very much), so I know that this post won't be as good as - oh, who I am kidding, I've read some of this guy's posts and they're actually pretty terrible, so I'm sure that whatever I throw together will be better than anything he's done so far.
Anyway, when I asked him what I should write about, the first thing he said was "anything you want," but then when I said "okay" he said "on second thought, why don't you interview Joel about his favorite female sci-fi/fantasy characters." I was all like "that's a strange subject to be talking about" but then he was like "oh please please just do it I'll buy you more soda or anything you want" [ed: I didn't say it like that] so I was like "fine, whatever." So I grabbed Joel and sat him down for this interview.

Me: Sup Joel.
Joel: Hey, uh...
Me: Felicity. C'mon, you know who I am.
Joel: I know, I just...what are we doing here?
Me: That weird old guy who writes this blog wanted me to babysit his deal while he's working on some crazy project. I dunno, just go with it.
Joel: Um, okay.
Me: All right, so the subject he wanted me to talk to you about is "favorite female sci-fi/fantasy characters."
Joel: Whose favorite?
Me: Yours, I guess.
Joel: Mine?
Me, sighing: Yes.
Joel: Uh, well...
Me: I know, that's kind of a strange topic, right?
Me: Kinda borderline creepy, if you ask me.
Joel: Sure.
Me: Why don't we do your top five. I know you're all into top-whatever lists, so this should be pretty easy.
Joel: Oh, okay, yeah. So are we going to start from number five, and then count backwards to number one?
Me: Sure, yeah, whatever.
Joel: Okay, well, number five is -
Me: I'm gonna stop you there, 'cause I'm supposed to be doing this for a while and I think we've taken up enough space for now - I mean, since I know how to stretch things out pace things properly, we'll save that for next time.
Joel: Uh, all right.
Me: Cool. Smith out.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Book Two Status Update: False Ending Alert!

Okay, so as it turns out, this previous post saying that I was almost done with Book Two was a false ending. The Bilbo picture must have been some sort of prophetic omen*, because remember the movie version of Return of the King, where it never seemed to end? Yeah.
In that previous post, I said that I could see the dragon's lair a short distance away. Well, what happened was that I got to the lair and defeated the dragon, only to find out that it was actually being controlled by a triumvirate of evil dark wizards that were disguising themselves as a harmless forest gnome the whole time. And now, those wizards are attacking.

Translation: even though I was happy with the initial draft, my editor and beta readers suggested some revisions that would make the book EVEN BETTER. The revisions won't alter the basic underlying story that much, but they will require a bit of work beyond just simple tweaking. Being the perfectionist that I am, I don't want to put out a book that I know could be better than it already is, so I decided to bite the proverbial bullet and go back to the rewriting grinder.

I'm still hoping to release the final product this year, but if that doesn't happen, then so be it - it will come out when it's ready to come out. The good news is that this isn't a setback, it's simply another point along the journey to the finish line; in other words, you can't get to the true Final Boss until you go through the false ending first.

*Another picture that I used was also an appropriate omen, but I won't specify which one it is because, well, spoilers

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Exclusive Interview With Marshall Byle, Part Two

For Part One of the interview, click here.

A lot of your lyrics are pretty dark, although not in what you would consider the usual "heavy metal" way. Where do you get the inspiration for your songs?

Heavy metal way? (laughs) I've never heard that one before.

Not actually Marshall Byle
You know, like "arrrgh, death, destruction, I hate you all."

Ah, yes, well, I do try to be a bit more literate than that. I read a lot, and I do fancy myself a bit of a writer as well - not just songs, mind you, but poetry, short stories, and so on. I'm even working on a series of novels. They're still in the outline stage, but the basic concept is absolutely brilliant.

As for inspiration, I get it from everywhere. My mind is always running, you know? I can be inspired by practically anything - the daily news, a really good book, even what I had for lunch. (laughs) I always find myself waking up at three in the morning with a fully-formed song in my head. I'm like a lightning rod for ideas.

Let's back up. What is your book series about?

It's going to be an epic science fiction horror saga about a music reporter who asks too many questions about projects that haven't been released yet, and gets dissected and eaten by undead alien spider-monkeys as a result.

I see what you did there. That actually sounds pretty good, though.

(Laughs) It does, doesn't it? Blimey, I'm a genius.

I'm sure your fans would agree. Speaking of which, you have a reputation for being really good with your fans - like, staying late after shows to sign autographs, replying to emails, even inviting them to hang out with you and the band at your hotel and in the tour bus.

Well, they're the ones who pay me bills, right? No, I dunno, I think it's . . . it's fun to talk to people who recognize and appreciate the work that I do, I suppose. I mean, who wouldn't want to be constantly surrounded by adoring mobs telling you how clever and brilliant you are? (laughs)

Makes sense to me. So I haven't been lucky enough to attend one of your tour bus parties yet - can you tell me and my readers what kinds of things go on at those?

Oh, you know, the usual . . . we sit around and play chess, drink tea, discuss politics. (laughs)

Of course you do! Anyway, what are you going to be doing with your time between now and when the band starts working on the next album? Writing your sci-fi horror saga, perhaps?

That, and a load of other things. I have a short solo tour planned where I'll be playing acoustic versions of Biledriver songs as well as a bunch of me other material, and I also have three side projects that I'll be doing some recording with.

Wow, that's impressive. Where do you find the time and energy?

Well, like I said, I simply cannot sit still. I dunno, it's just something that comes naturally to me. If I knew the secret, I'd bottle it and sell it. (laughs)

Like a Marshall Byle energy drink.


Well, thanks again for speaking with me today. I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview.

Oh, are we done already? Very well.

Your manager said I only had ten minutes. We can go on, if you like.

Me manager? Oh, that bird is such a killjoy. (laughs) Well, if she says so, I suppose the end it is. Between me and you, she's quite a fright when she's angry. It's like She-Hulk. So cheers, mate, nice talking to you. And watch out for the undead alien spider-monkeys!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Exclusive Interview With Marshall Byle, Part One

(Editor's note: this interview took place four years before the events of Secret of the Songshell. Just thought you'd like to know.)

After the release of their breakthrough third album, Rulers of the Universe, and the subsequent thirteen-month-long world tour, you would think that Marshall Byle, the lead singer and guitarist of the now multi-platinum rock band Biledriver, would want to take a well-deserved break. But you would be wrong. As I found out during this entertaining and enlightening interview, the irrepressible dynamo known affectionately to his fans as "Stack" (as in, a stack of Marshall amplifiers - c'mon, you knew that) was just getting started....
Thanks for talking to me today. I know you must be exhausted after just coming off of that tour.

Oh, not at all. In fact, I feel like I could go another three months, you know? (laughs) I really despise sitting still, it just bores me to death. I have to always be doing something.

I'm sure your fans would love it if you continued touring.

And, believe me, I would love it as well! But, you know, me mates in the band were starting to get a wee down, I suppose is a nice way to put it. They needed a break.

This album has been such a huge success. Is that something you were expecting at all?

Well, to be honest - and I say this in all modesty - yes, I really was. I had a feeling, instinctively, that our first two albums were not as brilliant as they could have been, but with this one, I was quite certain that I had stumbled upon sort of a magic formula, as it were. A way to write songs that really connected with people, at a deep, core emotional level.

Where do you suppose that came from? Was it something that you had been gradually working towards, or was it more of a sudden epiphany?

A little of both. Although, I will admit, there actually was a moment where the switch flipped on, so to speak.

Can you tell us more about that?

No. It's a trade secret. (laughs)

Fair enough. Do you feel any pressure about having to follow it up?

Oh, not at all. In fact, I already have all the songs for our next album written. It's going to blow your (bleeping) mind. I can't wait to get to work on it.

And I can't wait to hear it. Will it be kind of a quasi-concept album, like Rulers of the Universe?

It may be...or not. (laughs) I mean, blimey, mate, I'm not going to give anything away this early, you know? But trust me, it will be amazing.

Coming up in Part Two: Where Marshall gets the inspiration for his songs from, and what the band does on their tour bus after shows....

P.S. Tune in to the Portland Radio Project this coming Saturday (April 18) at 10:30am Pacific to hear a live interview and in-studio acoustic performance with - no, not Marshall Byle - Second Player Score!