Thursday, August 27, 2015

Kat Birthday

Tomorrow, Boots and Mittens turn one year old. Happy birthday, Boots and Mittens!
In case you don't remember, Boots and Mittens are the kittens that my family adopted last December. It's hard to believe that they're already considered "adult" cats. They're big - Boots is over eleven pounds, and Mittens is nine pounds. It seems like just a few days ago that they were tiny scraps of fur that you could hold in one hand. Now, when Boots sleeps on my lap, it's like carrying a bowling ball on my thighs. He's a bowling ball's worth of cat.

It's been a lot of fun having them around. I used to hate it when a fly got in the house, but now I don't mind as much, because it's like a free toy for the cats. They chase it all over the place and have a grand old time. Even when there aren't any flies, they occasionally growl at stare at what, to me, seems like nothing, but I'm pretty sure it's like a poltergeist or something. I am convinced that cats - and animals, in general - can see and sense stuff that we lowly humans cannot. And I'm not just talking about the fact that they have better hearing and can see well in the dark. Pet owners, you know what I'm talking about.

My cats also apparently have short-range teleportation powers, kind of like Deadpool or Nightcrawler. One moment they'll be lying down on the kitchen island, then the next moment they'll appear on the stairs. I swear this is true. It's such a cool thing that I incorporated this ability into Book Two, as you shall see.

Boots is the big eater (as you may have already guessed) and is not very picky at all. Mittens is a bit more finicky; after serving them the same chicken-flavored soft food for months, she started to eat less and less of it, until finally, she started ignoring it altogether. I suspected that it wasn't an appetite issue, as she still enjoyed her dry food just fine, so I switched to a turkey-salmon concoction, and sure enough, she gobbled that right up.

We won't be doing any kind of birthday cake, but at my daughter's suggestion, we will be buying a catnip treat or two. Happy birthday, Boots and Mittens, and here's to many more!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Spectraland Saga: Origin Story, Part Three

Read Part One here.
And Part Two here.

After I finished the first three chapters of my fledgling story in June 2010, I went back and spent another month working on stuff like world-building and backstories. The people who could create magic with music were dubbed "Minstrels," while the alternate world became "Moonland." I put together a ten-page document that included descriptions of Moonland's history and geography, character sketches for Joel and Marshall, and a basic synopsis of the whole story.

Then, one fateful day, I had a horrible realization: the idea of creating magic with music was already done many years earlier by Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series, which I read when I was a kid.
"Noooo," I cried. All of that work I had done over the past several months - for nothing! So on July 12, 2010, I officially gave up.

But then I realized that I couldn't quit. After all, the whole reason why I started working on this project in the first place was because my son had asked me to write him a book. I couldn't stop now! So, I cycled through a bunch of other ideas, none of which appealed to me. Then, finally, three months later, I told myself: "You know what? I'm just gonna go with it." I figured that even though my original Minstrels/Moonland concept shared a common concept with other novels - namely, the whole music-is-magic idea - I could still create a story that would be unique enough to set it apart from the rest. After all, the fact that there had been books about wizardy boarding schools since the '70s (and probably earlier) didn't stop J.K. Rowling now, did it?

I forged ahead. Two weeks later, my ten-page document had grown to twenty-two pages, as I fleshed out the synopsis, added ideas about themes, and expanded the world-building details. "Minstrels" became "Wavemakers." Cain went away, and Greenseed took his place. Felicity turned into a normal girl from Earth. The concept of the Aura was born, along with the idea that Joel's unique brain waves would combine with the sound waves of music to create magical effects.

Then, during the winter break of December 2010, I sat down and started writing the actual book.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Quickie Status Updates

I'm on summer vacation this week, and my usual guest bloggers (Joel and Felicity) are out of town - back in Spectraland, perhaps? - so we'll make this quick....

Book Two Update: Feedback from editor received, now moving into final revision stage. Getting very close now - still on track for a launch date before the end of the year.
Album Two Update: Tracking for "Deep" and "Comets" is done, just waiting for the mixdowns to be completed. Boot camp on the next three songs - "Demon's Kiss," "Never Let Me Down," and "Circles" - is underway.

Video Game Update: Finished High Strangeness a while ago (it was pretty short), and finished Alphadia Genesis - a surprisingly good game despite its mixed reviews - last night, with bouts of Splatoon still mixed in. Next up will be Golden Sun: The Lost Age, which recently came out for the Wii U Virtual Console.
TV Update: The latest episode of Gravity Falls was great, especially when it poked fun at itself ("that was the big twist we've been waiting for??") Can't wait for the new season of Doctor Who next month.
Now where did I put my Mai Tai....

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Why Are Bad Guys Always Single?

Part Two of a not-so-ongoing series. Read Part One, Why Are Mentors Always Single? - here.

Bad guys are bad at a lot of things (as I briefly touched upon in this previous post), like finishing off the hero quickly; coming up with fool-proof plans; etc. On top of that, they also seem to be particularly inept at starting and maintaining romantic relationships. Why is that? After all, isn't there a popular notion that ladies are attracted to the "bad boys"? Shouldn't their dark, brooding natures lead to tons of text messages and right-swipes? Or are they just too busy working on their latest world-domination scheme to even bother?

Here are a few examples off the top of my head:

[Mild spoilers ahead]

Lord Voldemort, aka Tom Riddle - Being a very charismatic guy, you would think that Voldemort would have had a lot of success on the Death Eater Dating circuit. Okay, the lack of a nose may be a little off-putting, but that sure hasn't seemed to stop Bellatrix from developing a big ol' crush on Mr. Riddle - which he doesn't appear to reciprocate in the least. Maybe she's not homicidal enough for him?
"Um, well, I'm kinda busy this weekend."
Emperor Palpatine, aka Darth Sidious - Well, sure, he's not much to look at now, but c'mon, people, he's the ruler of the Galactic Empire! And even before that - when he was still a non-disfigured Senator and Chancellor - wouldn't having someone to bring along to official Republic events have been, at the very least, a helpful cover-up for his long-term machinations? Like, you know, "oh, he can't be the Sith Lord we're looking for, he's a family man!"
"My interests include coming up with convoluted schemes and throwing Jedi out of my office window"
President Snow - At least this guy has a granddaughter. But who knows, maybe she was just some kid he adopted and brainwashed into calling him grandpa, 'cause we never find out any details about his private life, and he's never seen with anyone throughout the entire Hunger Games trilogy. My guess is that he did have a wife or something at some point, but like with most everyone else around him, he didn't trust her and had her thrown into a room with a bowlful of berries.
"Why won't she call me back? Oh, right, I had her executed."
Deus Ex Machina - Okay, fine, he's a machine. But hey, machines can be capable of love, or whatever passes for it, right? And we only saw him at the very end of the trilogy, so maybe he does have a significant something or other back home and we just never got to see...whatever it was.
"The view of the Fetus Fields from my apartment is really awesome, you should come check it out"
Anyway, leave it to the Avatar universe (the Aang/Korra one, not Pandora - Colonel Quaritch: also apparently single!) to turn this trope around. Just like how Tenzin was the only mentor-figure I could think of who was in a relationship, most of Avatar's baddies were also versed in the ways of romance - sort of, at least:

Ozai - Yeah, so Ursa was never really that into him, and she was already long gone by the time the events of the show took place, but hey, at least there was confirmation that he had been married.

Amon - All right, not so much. But he's the only one, out of five.

Unalaq - We never get to see his wife/consort/whatever, but he has two kids, Eska and Desna, who say "how will we explain this to mother?" at the end of the season.

Zaheer - Now we're talking. This dude had a girlfriend, P'Li (who was a powerful combustion bender and part of his Red Lotus gang, to boot), and they couldn't keep their hands off of each other.
Okay, enough already
Kuvira - engaged to Baatar Jr., she really does seem to like him, before she tries to kill him later on after he wimps out on their plan.

So...see, Other Bad Guys? These folks prove that you can find room in your life for both a relationship as well as a devious plot to take over the world. Just open your heart and be a little more trusting, and then maybe you, too, can find true love. Who knows, you may even come to see that having a partner in crime can help your scheme move along that much faster (and maybe they'll even stop you from doing typical dumb bad-guy things!)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Blog Birthday

Today, this blog turns three years old. Can you believe it? Happy birthday, blog!
This blog's very first post, on July 30, 2012, was titled "Discovering Bands." Appropriately, the same friend who turned me on to In This Moment and B'z back in those days recently introduced me to a relatively recent Japanese phenomenon that I talked about a couple of weeks ago - "kawaii metal," or cute-metal.

My absolute favorite artist to emerge out of this movement so far has been an act called Fruitpochette. They're not really a band - they basically consist of two anime-worthy girl singers, a bunch of virtuoso studio musicians, and some incredibly talented outside songwriters - but the music they produce has really melted my face. So much so, that I've spent seventy bucks buying their seven-song EP and debut full-length album.
Seriously, I've been listening to that EP three times a day, or more. Like a friend once told me, "you don't care about a lot of stuff, but the stuff you do care about, you care about a lot." Indeed.

Anyhoo, this blog's birthday isn't the only reason to celebrate - I also finished the revisions for Book Two! After one more read-through, I'll be turning in the draft to my editor in a few days. Really excited. With any luck, this thing just might see the light of day before the end of the year. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Stuff That Is Happening

As we speak, Second Player Score is in the middle of two days in the studio. Drum tracks were laid down yesterday, and we'll be doing guitars, bass and vocals today.
Also, DJ Kyelzbub will be broadcasting his radio show live in the recording studio tonight from 6-8pm Pacific Time! He'll be featuring bands that have been recorded by our awesome engineer, Stephan Hawkes, at Interlace Audio. Be sure to check it out!

Then, after a recovery day tomorrow, I'll be at the 7th Annual NW Book Festival this Saturday from 11am to 5pm Pacific Time, along with some of my fellow authors from the Northwest Independent Writers Association.
It'll be at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland, and we're in Booth 10. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Summer Status Updates

Album Two Update: Boot Camp for "Deep" is done. Finishing Boot Camp for "Comets" this weekend. Recording still scheduled for next week. Super stoked.
DJ Kyelzbub recording his vocals for the "Deep" boot camp demo while I stand around wondering what's for dinner
Book Two Update: Re-writes are 90% complete. I've contacted my editor to let her know it's coming soon. Super stoked.
Video Game Update: Team Cat lost to Team Dog in the 4th of July Splatfest, even though Team Cat won more matches. Not stoked. Up to level 18 now. Signed up for Team Water Slide for this weekend's Splatfest. I can only play this game for around thirty minutes at a time before I get burnt out, so I found a new hidden gem to take up the time in between: High Strangeness.
So far, this game is like Zelda-lite with a dash of Earthbound-style humor thrown in, which means I totally love it. The 8-bit/16-bit switching thing is very reminiscent of the 2-D/3-D flipping technique in Super Paper Mario or the wall-merging ability in A Link Between Worlds, which is really cool. The puzzles are straightforward and relatively simple, which is good for players like me who have to resort to using walkthroughs to solve the more complex ones in the Zelda series.

TV Update: The new episode of Gravity Falls, "A Tale of Two Stans," aired on Monday. Watched it, came away super stoked.
Daughter and I loved that Ford was voiced by the same guy who did Tenzin in Legend of Korra (and yes, I know that he's done some other stuff, as well). Spent too much time afterwards geekily trying to reconcile the timeline with all of the characters' ages (if Shermy - Dipper and Mabel's grandfather - was an infant when Ford and Stan were seniors in high school, then that means he would have been around twenty-nine when the twins were born??)

Music Fanboy Update: My good buddy from Hawaii turned me on to something cool going on in Japan called "kawaiimetal", or cute-metal. This is when you take the sugary-sweet vocals and choreographed dance routines of J-pop (Japanese pop music) and forcibly graft it onto brutal, face-destroying metal riffage. The result is something like this.
P.S. I bought their album.