Thursday, December 13, 2018

Launch Party #2 Recap

Joel, Felicity and I had a rockin' good time at the second Launch Party for Volume Four this past Saturday! (Joel and Felicity used their over-21-year-old personas in order to attend.)
Oh, those two people in the picture with me aren't Joel and Felicity, by the way - they're Daniel Downs and Kyle Gilbert of Second Player Score, one of three awesome bands that played at the party. The other two were STAB in the DARK:
and Old Cross:
Big thanks to Matt Danger of No Pants Records for booking the show, Gil's Speakeasy for hosting us, and everyone who came out. It was a lot of fun.
There will be one more post about Volume Four next week, and then that will be it, I swear!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Spectrum Life Magazine: Volume Four Article

Big thanks to everyone who came out to the family-friendly Volume Four - I love that there's a link for that now - Launch Party at Kazoodles this past Saturday! And don't forget, if you're into loud rock 'n' roll and cold adult beverages, Launch Party #2 (the non-family-friendly one) is taking place this coming Saturday at Gil's Speakeasy in Portland from 7-11pm.
Oh, and just in case you're not hyped up enough about Volume Four yet (despite my having blogged about it for the last six weeks in a row), you should check out this cool interview in the latest issue of Spectrum Life Magazine! In it, I reveal which is my favorite of the four Joel Suzuki books so far (or maybe I just dance around the question), offer a handy little writing tip, tell you where I would go if I could time travel, and lots more. And after you're done reading that, the issue has many other great articles as well!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Volume Four Is Here!

That's right - Joel Suzuki, Volume Four: Fable of the Fatewave, is now officially launched!
Want to know where you can get your hands on a copy? Well, I am happy to tell you. It's available online from these sources:

Amazon - Paperback Edition
Amazon - Kindle (ebook) Edition
Barnes & Noble - Paperback Edition

You can also ask your favorite brick & mortar bookstore to order it for you. Some fine establishments that already carry the Joel Suzuki series include:

Another Read Through
Barnes & Noble - Eugene, OR
Barnes & Noble - Vancouver, WA
Chaparral Books
Conrad Books
Harbor Books & Gifts
Kazoodles Toy Store
Vintage Books

Speaking of Kazoodles, there will be a Volume Four Launch Party and Book Signing on Saturday, December 1st, from 4-5pm, where you can get your copy signed by me in person! It's free to attend and family-friendly. Kazoodles is located at 13503 SE Mill Plain Blvd, Vancouver WA.

And, as some of you long-time fans know, because Joel and Felicity (and I) are rock musicians we also always do a second Launch Party that is a bit louder and not quite as family-friendly, featuring my band as well as other special guests. This time around, it will be on Saturday, December 8th at Gil's Speakeasy from 7-11pm. It's 21 and over, $7 cover, and includes performances by Old Cross, Stab In The Dark, and, of course, Second Player Score. Gil's Speakeasy is located at 609 1/2 SE Taylor St., Portland OR.

Finally, to help celebrate the launch of Volume Four even more, here is the Exclusive World Premiere of a brand new book trailer for the Joel Suzuki series, created by the awesome Greg Zschomler of Harbor House Writers (who is also a brilliant author himself). Enjoy!
In case you're not already familiar with the Joel Suzuki series, you can catch up by visiting the Joel Suzuki website and/or binge-reading the first three volumes:

Joel Suzuki, Volume One: Secret of the Songshell
Joel Suzuki, Volume Two: Mystery of the Moonfire
Joel Suzuki, Volume Three: Legend of the Loudstone

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Countdown To Volume Four: Special Thanksgiving Edition

This is the final week of the countdown, because next week Joel Suzuki, Volume Four: Fable of the Fatewave will be officially launched into the world!
Since today is Thanksgiving, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who had a hand in bringing Joel and Felicity's latest adventure to life: Karen and John Krejcha of Autism Empowerment, Susan DeFreitas of Indigo Editing, Jill Colbert of Manfish Inc., all the members of the Wavemaker Order, my fellow authors in SCBWI and NIWA, and everyone else who has read and supported the Joel Suzuki series over the years. Oh, and course, my two awesome kids, without whom these books never would have existed in the first place. Gracias. Merci. Mahalo. Arigatou Gozaimashita. Thank you.

And now, the video of the week! This is Part 5 - the final part - of The Insider's Scoop, a series of short documentary-style films directed by the talented and brilliant Imani Chapin. In this installment, I travel one year back in time to when Volume Four was just a first draft and the subtitle had not been officially announced yet. I also talk a little about what happens in the story as well as provide some background info on Joel's special power, The Sight. Enjoy!
In case you're not already familiar with the Joel Suzuki series, you can catch up by visiting the Joel Suzuki website and/or binge-reading the first three volumes:

Joel Suzuki, Volume One: Secret of the Songshell
Joel Suzuki, Volume Two: Mystery of the Moonfire
Joel Suzuki, Volume Three: Legend of the Loudstone

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Countdown To Volume Four: Week Four

It's getting close!
This is week four of the countdown to Joel Suzuki, Volume Four: Fable of the Fatewave. As you can see, I have a proof copy in my hands...or, er, hand. It turned out great, so a supply of books have been ordered and everything is getting ready to go live.

If you've been reading the previous few posts, then you know that each week leading up to the launch of Volume Four, I'll be posting a Joel-related video for your viewing pleasure. This week, it's Part 4 (how many times can I say the word "four" today?) of The Insider's Scoop, a series of short documentary-style films directed by the talented and brilliant Imani Chapin. In this particular installment, I talk about Volume Three: Legend of the Loudstone and explain how that book expanded Joel's world. Enjoy!
In case you're not already familiar with the Joel Suzuki series, you can catch up by visiting the Joel Suzuki website and/or binge-reading the first three volumes:

Joel Suzuki, Volume One: Secret of the Songshell
Joel Suzuki, Volume Two: Mystery of the Moonfire
Joel Suzuki, Volume Three: Legend of the Loudstone

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Countdown: Week Three (Plus Bonus Status Update)

Here we are with week three of the countdown to Joel Suzuki, Volume Four: Fable of the Fatewave! If you've read the previous posts, then you know that each week leading up to the launch of Volume Four, I'll be posting a Joel-related video for your viewing pleasure.
In addition, this time around we have a bonus status update!

Writing:
- The first draft of the screenplay adaptation of Joel Suzuki, Volume One: Secret of the Songshell is now up to 111 pages. It's looking like it will probably come in at around 150 pages or so, which amounts to a 2.5-hour movie. Long, I know, but hey, the Sorceror's Stone film was even longer than that (and yes, I'm comparing Joel to good ol' Uncle Harry).

- The first draft of Joel Suzuki, Volume Five is up to 85 pages, so it's about twenty-five to thirty percent complete.

- I'm also working on a new secret project novella, the first draft of which is up to 20 pages (about twenty percent done). It's not directly related to Joel, but, like everything else I do, it's part of the Second Player Shared Universe.

- The romantic comedy that involves baseball, anime, philosophy, and magic that I mentioned in the last status update post is finished. It clocks in at 114 pages, so a bit under two hours in movie time.

- The pilot teleplay that I mentioned in that same status update post is up to 31 pages - a little over halfway there.

Music:
- Second Player Score is in the studio as we speak, cutting tracks for two more songs from our upcoming third album. We also have our basic cover art design finished.

And now, the video! This is Part 3 of the Insider's Scoop, a series of short documentary-style films directed by the talented and brilliant Imani Chapin. In this particular installment, I reveal some of the challenges that went into writing Volume Two: Mystery of the Moonfire, and I tell you how I eventually managed to break through and get it done. Enjoy!
If you're not already familiar with the Joel Suzuki series, you can catch up by visiting the Joel Suzuki website and/or picking up copies of Volumes One through Three at the links below:

Joel Suzuki, Volume One: Secret of the Songshell
Joel Suzuki, Volume Two: Mystery of the Moonfire
Joel Suzuki, Volume Three: Legend of the Loudstone

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Countdown Continues

Here we are with week two of the countdown to Joel Suzuki, Volume Four: Fable of the Fatewave! If you've read the previous post, then you know that each week, I'll be posting a Joel-related video for your viewing pleasure.

This week, it's Part 2 of The Insider's Scoop, a series of short (this one is under two minutes) documentary-style films directed by the talented and brilliant Imani Chapin. In this particular installment, I talk a little about what went into the making of Volume One: Secret of the Songshell, as well as which particular scene from that book is my favorite. Enjoy!
And don't forget, you can catch up with Volume One and the rest of the series to date by visiting the Joel Suzuki website and/or picking up copies of Volume One through Three at these links:

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Countdown Begins

No, not the Final countdown, but the one to the launch of (drum roll)...Joel Suzuki, Volume Four: Fable of the Fatewave!
That's right, folks, the long-awaited Volume Four is on its way. So to celebrate, we here at the Brian Tashima Blog will be posting one Joel-related video for your viewing pleasure each week leading up to the release.

This week, it's Part 1 of The Insider's Scoop, a series of short (around three minutes, the length of a typical pop song) documentary-style films directed by the talented and brilliant Imani Chapin. In this particular installment, I give you some background information about the origin of - and inspiration behind - the Joel Suzuki series. Enjoy!
Oh, and in case you're new around here, you can catch up with the Joel Suzuki series by visiting Joel's website and/or by picking up Volumes One through Three at the links below:

Joel Suzuki, Volume One: Secret of the Songshell
Joel Suzuki, Volume Two: Mystery of the Moonfire
Joel Suzuki, Volume Three: Legend of the Loudstone

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Anime Roundup: Death & Demons Edition

Hello, and welcome to the third installment of Anime Roundup! Last time, I said "let's see if I can wait another ten weeks before writing the next installment," and, well, here we are, exactly ten weeks later. Trust me, though, it was hard to resist - I've caught the anime bug big-time, and it took a fair amount of willpower not to just start babbling about this stuff right away.
During those ten weeks, I've been binging a bunch of shows like nobody's business. One thing I've noticed is that a lot of them tend to deal with the themes of death and demons. What's up with that, anime writers? Like, for instance, the word "shinigami" - "death god" - has shown up in three series that I've watched so far (Death Note, Bleach, Soul Eater), and devils and/or demons have played a major role in three others (Devilman Crybaby, The Devil is a Part-Timer, Blue Exorcist). The neat thing, though, is that in all of those cases the shinigami or devil tends to be the good guy, or at least on the side of the protagonist/main character (sort of, anyway, in Ryuk's case). I think that's pretty cool, and it makes for an interesting premise. Maybe that's why the writers do it. Okay, I just answered my own question. (Editor's Note: guess what, Brian, there are waaay more shows with similar themes that you haven't watched yet)

Anyway, let's get to it. As you know if you've read the previous posts, these are not reviews, they're just my own personal thoughts and opinions about these various shows. And just because a particular show didn't catch fire for me doesn't mean that it's bad, or that you won't love it. Art is subjective, and we all like different things. That's why art is so awesome!

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

Bleach
This is one of the aforementioned shows that features a shinigami, or, in this case, lots of shinigami. Some are good guys, some are bad guys, some are bad guys who become good guys. And wow, do I love this show. Now I see why it's considered one of the big names of modern anime. I zoomed through the first three seasons on Netflix before it ran out. I understand that the other 13(!) seasons are available on Hulu, so I might have to sign up for YET ANOTHER streaming service. Argh! Oh, also, I thought the live-action version was solid, and the fact that Hitohira No Hanabira by Stereopony was one of the show's many theme songs simply puts it over the top for me. Bohahaha!

The Devil Is a Part-Timer!
This show was so much fun. Just the premise alone - that the Devil has to get a job slinging burgers at "MgRonald," and he ends up enjoys it - makes me smile. To say any more would be getting into spoiler territory, so I'll just end with this: the season was way too short (only 13 episodes). Are we ever getting a second one??

Perfect Blue
Not a series, but a movie. And a classic. Pure psychological horror. Kind of hard to track down (and I was only able to find it with English dubs, not subtitles, which - mild spoiler - ruins what I think is supposed to be a really creepy moment) but totally worth it.

Previous category S shows: Death Note, Aggretsuko (Season 2 coming in 2019, woo!), Sword Art Online, Soul Eater, One Punch Man

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

Blue Exorcist
It took a little while for me to warm up to this one, but once I did, I enjoyed it. The protagonist is a devil - the son of Satan, specifically - but he's totally a good guy (he actually goes to a school to learn how to become a demon-fighting exorcist), which was cool. I've heard there's a second season, so I'll have to track that down somehow.

Your lie in April
I started watching this one mainly because of a screenplay I was writing that involves, among other things, two of my main characters watching various anime shows. This show is name-checked in the script for plot-related reasons, so I figured "well, I guess I'd better watch it so I know what my characters are doing." And guess what, it was good! It's a cute, kid-friendly drama-comedy with heart, music, and kind of a, well...I won't say it, because spoilers. Watch it yourself and find out what I'm talking about!

Flavors of Youth
Another stand-alone movie. Netflix kept relentlessly pushing this one at me so I finally gave in and watched it. And hey, it was cool, so thanks, Netflix. It's very quiet and low-key compared to most other anime I've seen, which was a nice change of pace.

Previous category A shows: Devilman Crybaby, Ouran High School Host Club

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

The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
This one was fun and quirky (each episode consists of five "mini-episodes") and I think I would've kept going with it, but then other stuff just sort of overwhelmed it. Yes, I'm looking at you, Bleach.

Children of the Whales
I watched the first few episodes and couldn't figure out why it was rated TV-MA. I believe I stopped right before I was about to find out.

Seven Deadly Sins
Another one that Netflix was pushing at me relentlessly. I gave it a shot.

Previous category B shows: Fullmetal Alchemist, Kill La Kill, Violet Evergarden, Gurren Lagann, Attack on Titan

Yeah, so obviously, I've been busy! Join us again in ten weeks or so (but keep reading the other posts in the meantime - or don't, whatever) when I will talk about another heavyweight title that rhymes with "Ga-ru-to."

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Words And Pictures Festival

Hey-o! If you're in the beautiful Vancouver/Portland area (or happen to have access to some form of inter-dimensional transportation device), please consider checking out the annual Words and Pictures Festival at Cascade Park Community Library this Saturday, October 13th.
It runs from 11am through 3pm, and I will be there along with a whole host of other cool authors, so there's sure to be something for everyone. The always-amazing Barnes & Noble-Vancouver, WA will be handling book sales, and a portion of all proceeds go to the library (not to mention the usual Joel Suzuki donations to Autism Empowerment on top of that) so anything you buy will be doing all sorts of awesome.

Hope to see you there! (AND IF YOU REALLY DO HAVE AN INTER-DIMENSIONAL TRANSPORTATION DEVICE PLEASE LET ME KNOW)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The SPSU

I have a very special announcement to make - today, October 4, 2018, brings us the official public unveiling of the Second Player Shared Universe (SPSU).
What is the SPSU, you ask? Well, similar to other shared universes like the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), DC Extended Universe (DCEU), and so on, the SPSU is the connecting hub and overarching umbrella for a number of related franchises that are all loosely centered around my band, Second Player Score.

The concept of the SPSU began to take shape once I started working on the screenplay adaptation of Nobody's Hero this past summer. As I wrote it, I began to realize that all the different projects I had going on at the time had at least one element in common: the band. Yes, Second Player Score even shows up in Joel Suzuki (Volumes Two and the upcoming Four).

The various projects also reference each other; Glorified (the upcoming third SPS album as well as the title of the accompanying manga) makes an appearance in the first Nobody's Hero script, and there are some well-hidden Joel Suzuki Easter Eggs in another screenplay that I wrote and mentioned in this post.

But really, it all comes back down to the band. We make cameo appearances in just about everything I'm working on, kind of like Stan Lee. We even have our own series of short film scripts, the first of which is hopefully going into production soon, and our own line of beer (not publicly available yet, but we hope to remedy that someday).

Anyway, you'll be hearing more about the SPSU in the weeks and months to come, as we have some pretty big plans in store as well as some other projects that are still being kept under wraps for now. So stay tuned!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A Nerd's List Of Reasons To Keep On Going

Hello! I'm Art, today's guest blogger, with the second installment of "A Nerd's List of Reasons to Keep On Going." Can you believe that the first installment was posted over a year ago? Time sure flies when you're having fun. Anyway, for a little background information on who I am and why I'm writing this post, you should probably check out that first installment before you continue reading this one.
Done? Good! So let's get to it. Basically, the purpose of these posts is to show that even though life can be challenging sometimes, there are always many, many reasons to hang in there and keep on going. And if you're a fan of pop culture like I am, you know that we're really living in golden age where there is just so much good stuff coming out all the time that it's hard to feel down for long, even if something that was on your list didn't really live up to your expectations. So here we go!

A Nerd's List of Reasons to Keep On Going (as of September 27, 2018)

1. The next Autism Empowerment event
2. Daredevil Season 3
3. Doctor Who Season (or Series, in the UK) 11
4. Halloween
5. Joel Suzuki, Volume Four: Fable of the Fatewave (I have no idea what that is, Brian just asked me to include it)
6. Thanksgiving
7. The new live-action Avatar series (I mean, it might be good, after all!)
8. Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa
9. Captain Marvel
10. Korean BBQ
11. Avengers: Endgame (I'm not sure if this is really the title - it's just a popular fan theory. Wouldn't it be cool, though?)
12. The rare Japanese anime DVD that you ordered that is taking four weeks to arrive but will get to your house eventually
13. Pizza
14. Aquaman (I mean, it might be good, after all!)
15. New Year's Eve
16. Venom
17. Super Mario Party for the Switch
18. Bohemian Rhapsody (the movie)
19. Naps
20. Ralph Breaks the Internet
21. Dark Phoenix

That's it for this time! If you have anything you'd like to add to the list, feel free to leave a comment.

-- Art

(Editor's note: you can read more of Art's wisdom in the first three volumes of the Joel Suzuki series, listed below.)

Joel Suzuki, Volume One: Secret of the Songshell
Joel Suzuki, Volume Two: Mystery of the Moonfire
Joel Suzuki, Volume Three: Legend of the Loudstone

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!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

This Is What We Do All Day

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this new music video for Demon's Kiss, the latest single off of Second Player Score's album Nobody's Hero!
Directed, filmed, and edited by our very own Kyle Gilbert (he's taking after Dave Grohl already!), the video features the band members playing some good old Guitar Hero, engaging in a contentious round of D&D, and drinking some delicious Second Player Suds (brewed by Kyle). Oh, and also, cats!

So check it out, and if you like what you see (or not, whatever), please consider subscribing to the SPS YouTube channel. Mahalo!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Can't Blog. Writing

I've been in an interesting headspace lately. It seems that the Flow that began back on June 22nd has never really stopped.
And it's been over a month now! See, what happened is that after I finished the screenplay for Nobody's Hero on June 29, I thought I was done. I was floating in the afterglow, with no ideas or concepts for anything that might happen to these particular characters after their final scene. In fact, I was pretty sure that I was finished with it - that this would be a one-and-done, standalone story.

That lasted for all of three days.

On Monday, July 2, at 4:51pm, I texted a question about the screenplay to the other guys in Second Player Score that was meant to be completely rhetorical - I wasn't expecting an answer, or if there was one, it was just supposed to be humorous at best. But then lo and behold, one of their answers unlocked an entirely new level: a clear path to Nobody's Hero II.

Just like that, the ideas started to pour in. By the next day, I already had a 10-page scene written that actually ended up becoming a "bonus DVD-only scene" but was the basis for what was to come. By July 6, I had a complete story outline. By July 9, I was up to 17 pages. And then, eight days later on Tuesday, July 17, the 112-page script for Nobody's Hero II was complete.

It didn't quite end there, though. Unlike the first installment, this second installment was constantly suggesting another part to come after it; basically, it was setting things up perfectly for Nobody's Hero III. The ideas for the final leg of the trilogy (yes, that's what it looks like it's going to end up becoming) required that I do a little bit of research, so I spent a few days looking up and absorbing the information I would need. But then once that was over with, I went right back to the writing grind.

And so now as of today, July 26, the script for NHIII is up to 55 pages and counting. When will it be done? Who knows. All I can say at this moment is: excuse me, but I have to stop blogging now, because there's a screenplay that I need to get back to.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Joel and Felicity's Birthday Party

Hi everyone! Today, all of us here at the BTB (Brian Tashima Blog) are celebrating the birthdays of our resident superstars, Joel Suzuki and Felicity Smith. We have cake, punch, games, and more cake, so won't you join us?
Not actual picture
B: Happy birthday, you guys.
F: Yeah, whatever.
J: Um, thanks, but you know that today isn't our actual birthday, right?
B: Right, no, yeah, I know. Yours was on Tuesday, the 17th, and Felicity's is this Saturday, the 21st. I just figured we'd have a joint celebration today since it's right in the middle of both days.
F: What a ripoff.
B: Huh?
F: Doing one party for two different occasions. It's like when your birthday falls on Christmas.
B: Hey, it's not my fault you guys have birthdays that are so close together.
J: Actually, it kind of is.
B: Anyway, I've given up trying to figure out how old you both really are, which is why the cake only has two candles on it. You know, one for each of you.
F: Oh, I thought you were just being cheap.
B: I mean, besides, who wants to eat a cake that has dozens of candles dripping wax all over it, right?
F: You mean, like the one we got for you last year?
B: C'mon, be nice.
J: Why do you think she's not being nice?
F: Because I'm making fun of how totally ancient he is.
J: Oh, okay, I get it.
B: Let's just sing the song.
(Brian and Joel sing "Happy Birthday to You" while Felicity sits there, looking bored.)
J: Good thing that song is now considered public domain.
B: I know, right? Okay, you guys, blow out the candles.
F: You don't have to direct our every move, you know.
(Felicity and Joel blow out the candles.)
B: Yay!
F: All right, let's get to the presents.
(Joel and Felicity unwrap their first presents. Felicity's is a copy of Far Cry 5 for the XBox One, while Joel's is a copy of Xenoblade Chronicles 2.)
J: I already have this.
F: *snorts*
B: Oh - wait, you do?
J: Yeah. And I finished it. This game came out last December.
B: Right, but I thought...
F: Apparently, you didn't think hard enough.
J: Um, it's okay. I can keep it as a backup, or something.
B: No, no, I'll return it and get you something else. I still have the receipt.
J: Are you sure?
B: Yeah. Let's just move on.
(Joel and Felicity unwrap their next presents, which are sets of guitar strings and picks.)
J: Cool, thanks.
F: We can never get enough of these, at least.
B: All right, let's do another one. How about the ones you got for each other?
J: Okay.
F: Sure, yeah, why not.
(Joel and Felicity start unwrapping the presents. Felicity finishes first.)
F: Yay, lifepods.
J: Does that mean you like it?
F: Dude, we can get lifepods almost any time we want back in Spectraland.
J: Um, I know, but they're usually kind of hard to bring back to Earth, and I know you like them, so I figured I'd -
F: Yeah, now that you mention it, how did you get these back here, anyway? They usually spoil when they go through the Rift.
J: Well, you know...
F: Time travel?
J: Yeah. Sorta.
F: Ah, ok. Well, thanks.
J: You're welcome.
F: All right, now finish opening yours.
(Joel finishes opening his present, which is a piece of parchment with musical notes written on it.)
J: Oh, cool!
B: What is it?
F: It's a wavecast. I wrote it myself.
J: What does it do?
F: Play it and find out.
J: Okay.
(Joel picks up his wavebow.)
J: Do I have to visualize anything while I'm playing?
F: Nah. It'll do its thing automatically.
(Joel plays the wavecast. A giant sparkleblock, like the one from Volume Two: Mystery of the Moonfirematerializes in the middle of the room.)
J: Whoa, nice!
F: I knew you'd like it.
(Joel gets up and dives right into the sparkleblock.)
J: Woo!
F: Hold on, I'll join you.
(Felicity enters the sparkleblock as well. The two of them swim around inside of it, chasing the little lights around.)

Well, I guess they'll just open the rest of their presents later. In the meantime, feel free to help yourself to more cake, and we'll see you next week!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Movie Roundup: They Are Coming Out Faster Than I Can Watch Them! Edition

Talking about the subject of movies last week reminded me that we are way overdue for another Movie Roundup post!
Is it just me, or does it seem like there are so many need-to-watch movies coming out these days? And on top of that, time goes by so fast that before you know it, a movie that was on your to-see list is - whether you actually did get around to seeing it or not - already available on DVD/Blu-Ray, Netflix, or even cable TV (Deadpool from 2016, I'm looking at you).

In the last Movie Roundup post from back in January (again, how does time go by so fast?), I said that I would probably offer thoughts on six different upcoming films. Because of scheduling issues, I actually haven't gotten around to seeing two of them. One of them is already out on home video. The other is still hanging on in theaters but just may end up eluding me this time around.

Anyway, on to it! And as always, remember that these are not really reviews, these are just my random thoughts, and those thoughts could and probably will include big-time spoilers (although I'm sure you've probably seen some of these movies a bunch of times already by now).

Black Panther
I really, really, really want to go to Wakanda. With their amazing advanced technology, can you imagine the kinds of video game consoles that place could produce? Or maybe they already do produce them, and I just missed it. Wait, what? Wakanda is a fictional country? How dare you even suggest that!

Ready Player One
Read the book, loved it. Saw the movie, also loved it. Yes, I know a bunch of things were changed, but I think the changes were both necessary and well-executed. Totally worth seeing in IMAX 3-D. Unbelievably, this is one of those that are already out on home video.

Avengers: Infinity War
This movie was everything I wanted it to be. Beyond that, I'm not sure what else I can say that hasn't already been said in this previous post.

Deadpool 2
The "Deadpool Kills Deadpool" and "You're Welcome, Canada" post-credits scenes were just THE BEST. Also very cool: the X-Men full cast cameo and the Thanos joke. I'm such a sucker for meta humor.

Incredibles 2
Jack-Jack is awesome. Hoping he gets his own solo feature someday. Maybe he can be like the Wolverine of the Incredibles franchise. Who's with me here?

Okay, well, that's it for this edition of Movie Roundup. I know, I know, the comments were kind of short and spoiler-free, but that's what happens when you have to save time for watching even more movies (as well as writing your own). Tune in next time when I might possibly talk about Ant-Man and the Wasp, Solo: A Star Wars Story (yes, this is one of the movies that was on the previous list), I Kill Giants (an adaptation of one of my all-time favorite graphic novels, out on Amazon), Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (seriously!), Venom, and Aquaman.