Thursday, November 26, 2020
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Thursday, November 12, 2020
Thursday, November 5, 2020
Thursday, October 29, 2020
Lydia: Then that's fine.
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Thursday, October 8, 2020
Thursday, October 1, 2020
Thursday, September 24, 2020
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.
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 Gozaimasu! Gracias!
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Here's a list of some life tips (or "hacks," as they are now popularly called) that I have found to be personally useful and/or beneficial. Some of these I learned from other sources, while some of them I discovered on my own. I present them this week with hopes that you, loyal blog reader, may find them helpful in your own life.
(Disclaimer: view any bits of advice given to you by a writer/musician with a healthy amount of skepticism. Except for maybe the ones that have to do with writing or playing music. Or, perhaps, organizing your daily schedule.)
- Pay off your credit card balance in full every time. And then get one of those cards that gives you cash back on purchases. Seriously.
- Set up an automatic transfer at your bank that will move a certain amount of money from your checking account to your savings account each month.
- Use coupons. Also, buy the generic brand equivalent of things that don't depend on taste or texture (e.g., vitamins, aspirin).
- Don't buy too many expensive cat toys. They will not care. Cardboard boxes, crumpled-up sticky notes, and a flashlight will do just fine.
- To fall asleep faster, use the following four-step routine: (1) relax your face - you'd be surprised how tense that thing is, I know I was; (2) release the tension - imagine it escaping through your pores like pollen floating away; (3) clear your mind - let the thoughts fly in and out like butterflies; (4) focus on your breathing.
- When you don't feel exercising, tell yourself you're going to do just one (easy) thing. And then just one more. And then just one more. Before you know it, you'll have done your entire workout. Honestly, the hardest part is getting started.
- Wash your hands a lot, even when there isn't a pandemic.
- A standard page in a book is roughly 250 words. So, if you just write 250 words (less than the length of this blog post so far) every day, you'll have a completed 300-page manuscript in under a year.
- Don't stop to self-edit. Just keep writing. Fix it later. Also, whatever you're writing is probably better than you think it is while you're writing it.
- For sci-fi/fantasy authors, listening to epic music soundtracks while writing might be helpful and even inspirational. I know it is for me.
Thursday, September 10, 2020
I haven't done one of these posts since the 2016-2017 season (when I did three of them), so I figured it was time. Hopefully I won't be jinxing the entire season - which is scheduled to begin tonight - by doing so.
Arizona Cardinals: apparently you guys are supposed to be pretty good this year, especially with your shiny new DeAndre Hopkins. We shall see.
Atlanta Falcons: did you know that Fort Storm, from my band's comic book series Glorified, is modeled after Mercedes-Benz Stadium? Well, it is.
Baltimore Ravens: one of those teams with annoyingly good luck at drafting quarterbacks (at least recently, anyway). I'm sure Cleveland hates you even more now.
Buffalo Bills: apparently you guys are supposed to be even better this year - maybe even division champs. We shall see.
Carolina Panthers: are not scheduled to play the Seahawks during the regular season for what feels like the first time in forever.
Chicago Bears: So, not Nick Foles, then? Remember, like Jason Mendoza said in The Good Place, "that guy won a Super Bowl!"
Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow? Well, I guess he won a National Championship.
Cleveland Browns: yeah
Dallas Cowboys: back in 2016 I described this team (who I used to follow when I lived in Hawaii due mostly to lack of options) as like "an ex, where you just peripherally take notice of stuff they're up to but you try not to get too involved." So...contract issues with Dak? Releasing Clinton-Dix? Okay, whatever, I'll look away now.
Denver Broncos: So, wait, who is your quarterback this year? Drew Lock? Honestly, I lost track after Manning retired.
Detroit Lions: I have friends who moved from Portland to the Detroit area, so there must be something to it.
Green Bay Packers: another one of those teams with annoyingly good luck at drafting quarterbacks... or not?
Houston Texans: I still kinda feel sorry for this team for blowing a 24-0 lead in last season's divisional playoff game.
Indianapolis Colts: Philip Rivers? Sure, why not, I guess.
Jacksonville Jaguars: not tanking for draft position, huh? Right...
Kansas City Chiefs: I'm sure will be missing their crowd noise as much as the Seahawks will. Congratulations on last season, by the way.
Las Vegas Raiders: I went to Las Vegas last year when doing stuff like that was still a thing. It was fun.
Los Angeles Chargers: will always be San Diego to me.
Los Angeles Rams: that new logo...
Miami Dolphins: So, not Tua Tagovailoa, then? Oh well, whatever.
Minnesota Vikings: you guys got Ngakoue from Jacksonville for just a 2nd and a conditional 5th? Man, why didn't the Seahawks do that? I mean, since we're trading the future for the present anyway (see "Seattle Seahawks" below)...
New England Patriots: the first real test to see if the Patriots are Belichick (great Subway commercial, by the way) or Brady. Although, Cam Newton isn't exactly a slouch.
New Orleans Saints: I wouldn't mind going to New Orleans one day when doing stuff like that is a thing again.
New York Giants: I wouldn't mind going to New York one day when doing stuff like that is a thing again.
New York Jets: enjoy all those first-round draft picks you got from the Seahawks.
Philadelphia Eagles: the team that the aforementioned Nick Foles won a Super Bowl with (see "Chicago Bears" above).
Pittsburgh Steelers: your city reminds me of Stranger Things, season 2.
San Francisco 49ers: I'm hoping for a post-Super Bowl-loss hangover. Because rivalries are fun, but I prefer when division opponents are just flat-out bad.
Seattle Seahawks: honestly, I think this year is kind of Super Bowl or bust. After all, you traded away a million draft choices for Jamal Adams, who you're going to have to pay a billion dollars to starting next year, not to mention the other guys in the secondary along with some other key players. Also, Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson are not getting any younger. So, you know, Go Hawks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: the first real test to see if the Patriots are Belichick or Brady. Although, you do have that Fournette guy now.
Tennessee Titans: no offense to Chiefs fans, but I wanted you guys to make it to the Super Bowl last year.
Washington Football Team: I like that they're finally changing the name, but doesn't "Football Team," even as an interim moniker, seem a little, I dunno, sulky? Or spiteful? Kind of like, "SIGH okay, fine, I'll change the name...to this. Happy now? Huh?"
Thursday, September 3, 2020
- I also love that Manaka is 26 years old but still chasing her dream of becoming a pop music idol - while working part-time at a konbini (convenience store).
- Haida can really rock the bass. And his origin story ("I started out on acoustic guitar, but then my friends and I formed a band and we needed someone to play bass") is pretty much the origin story of all bassists everywhere. Because, as you know if you've been reading this blog for a while, no one ever starts out wanting to play the bass.
- Speaking of Haida, my opinion is that he should give up on Retsuko. I mean, c'mon, man, you already told her how you felt back in the Season 1 finale, and she rejected you. That ship has sailed. Move on.
- Haida and Inui seem like a perfect match - their meet-cute in the vinyl record store was classic - but hey, I get it. He's just not that into her. Better to be clear about that up front rather than settling or stringing her along. That said, see the bullet point above. Maybe you should just stay single and start a new band instead, Haida-san.
- Speaking of bands, Hyodo making the OTMGirls learn how to play instruments reminded me of how the K-On! voice actors had to do something similar. That whole bit about the F chord being an impenetrable wall was hilarious.
- Speaking of voice actors, I think the OTMGirls' voice actors are actually an idol group in real life? Does anyone know for sure?
- Fenneko is the best.
- Anyway, can't wait for Season 4!
Thursday, August 27, 2020
Boots and Mittens
Happy Birthday, Boots And Mittens!
And Now, Cats!
Here Are Some Cat Pictures To Brighten Your Day
And yes, catnip will be forthcoming...
Thursday, August 20, 2020
Kickstarter campaign for Issue #3 back in June was successful (yay!) thanks to the support of 29 awesome backers, so production on the issue has been moving along nicely and we're on track for the targeted release date of November. A couple of backers will appear as characters in the issue, and another couple will be guests on upcoming episodes of Second Player Speaks (the official podcast of Second Player Score).
So, if everything goes according to plan, we should see three SPSU projects all released within roughly the same time period of late 2020 - early 2021. Keep watching this space for more details, including title announcements and cover reveals!
Thursday, August 13, 2020
Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
over two years ago, I was somewhat daunted and intimidated by the fact that the Fullmetal Alchemist franchise had TWO long-running series based on the original manga, one called "Fullmetal Alchemist" and the other called "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood." I was like, which one to watch? Where do I start? So confusing! But since then, I have become a grizzled anime veteran who has navigated his way through dozens of series including multiple incarnations of the "Fate" franchise, so two iterations is nothing to me now. The explanation of why there are two different series can be found all over the Internet, but here's the short version: the original 2003 series was made while the manga was still going on, so about halfway through its run it started to make up its own storyline, Game of Thrones-style. The 2009 "Brotherhood" series was made after the manga was complete, so it's a more "faithful" adaptation. I guess that explanation wasn't very short at all. Anyway, while you can watch either of them in any order, I decided to watch them more-or-less concurrently, and let me tell you, it's kind of a trip. They both start off basically the same (although Brotherhood condenses the beginning of the story into fewer episodes) but then eventually they seem like parallel universes or alternate timelines where you have the same characters (and the same voice actors!) doing vastly different things. I prefer - and would recommend, if you're only going to watch one - Brotherhood, as it's faster paced and more expansive in its world-building, but the original has its moments and wraps up certain threads in a more satisfying fashion. Both are now among my top favorites.
Dropkick on My Devil!
Made in Abyss
A Whisker Away
Thursday, August 6, 2020
Stuff That Will Probably Happen on a Particular Date
- Still my second-favorite anime of all time (behind K-On!). This promo picture fills me with questions. Is Retsuko learning the guitar now? Will she be forming a band? With Haida (who plays the bass and looks pretty aggro himself in this picture)? Who are those new characters with the matching purple bows? CAN IT BE AUGUST 27 ALREADY???
Bill and Ted Face The Music (September 1)
- Which will apparently be released simultaneously in both theaters and via on-demand/streaming. Pretty sure I know which option I'll be going with.
Season Two of The Boys (September 4)
- Looks like more gory fun. You can hear me discuss my thoughts on the first season with the guys from Second Player Score in the inaugural episode of our podcast, Second Player Speaks.
Mulan (September 4)
- To be released on Disney+ for an additional... $30? Seriously? Okay, fine.
Season Two of The Mandalorian (October something)
- Because, duh. You can read my thoughts on the first season in this post.
Stuff That Will Probably Happen But Not Sure Exactly When
Joel Suzuki, Volume Five
- Which is now formally scheduled for a final line edit in October. Assuming I do enough prep work in advance (like getting the cover art finalized) and I don't run into any snags on the back end with formatting and printing and such, I might be able to launch this thing before Christmas...maybe? Either way, keep a look out for an official title announcement.
Four-D: The Winter Suite (1st EP from Second Player Score's upcoming album)
- Studio dates have been tentatively booked for late September and boot camp is well underway. Hopefully by then, gatherings of less than five people that are not from the same household will still be allowed (it'll just be the three of us from the band and our engineer). Fingers crossed that we can get the songs released in time for Winter (a more detailed explanation of why is in this post).
Stuff With Release Dates, But Will They Really Happen?
The 2020 NFL Season (September 13)
- I really want to see what the Seahawks can do now that they have Jamal Adams. It will be strange to possibly witness home games at CenturyLink Field without fans, but it'll be better than nothing.
Wonder Woman 1984 (October 2)
- This thing has been rescheduled four times and apparently could have been released last year before all the you-know-what went down.
Black Widow (November 6)
- Disney is saying that this one won't get the Mulan treatment and be released on Disney+ for an additional fee, but we shall see.
No Time To Die (November 20)
- What might be even funner than the film itself (which will be the last one with Daniel Craig) is the speculation on which actor will play the role of James Bond next.
Thursday, July 30, 2020
4. Sometimes a Fantasy
3. All for Leyna
4. Infinite Dreams
3. Aces High
1. The Trooper
4. Damage Inc.
3. Seek and Destroy
2. Creeping Death
2. Drive-By Kiss
1. Slo-Mo Kikaida
4. Never Look Back
3. Stand by Me
1. Hitohira no Hanabira
Thursday, July 23, 2020
Japanese bands. Tune in and you'll get to hear hits from big-time anime theme song artists like Stereopony, Scandal, and Asian Kung-Fu Generation as well as awesome indie bands like Wait For Sunlight, Punk Ass Summer, and Sneakin' Nuts. A live chat room runs during the show so you can jump in on the fun and tease me about my substandard Japanese language-speaking skills. Anyway, hope you all tune in!
Thursday, July 16, 2020
Brian: Welcome back.
Brian: So, I was -
Lydia: You know, I'm starting to think that maybe this was a bad idea.
Brian: Why do you say that?
Lydia: No reason.
April: Lyd thinks that WE might be the curse.
Lydia: April, shh!
Brian: Wait, what do you mean?
April: Can I tell him?
Lydia: Ugh, all right, fine.
April: Okay, remember how you guys made a deal not to talk about Lyd's prediction from last year?
Brian: Because it seemed to have jinxed the Mariners?
April: Yeah. I mean, the day you published that post, the M's were 13-2 and in first place. Then after that, they went on to lose six games in a row en route to a 55-92 record the rest of the way and another last place finish.
Lydia: And then this year after we made all these predictions for this season, the whole thing blows up right after that. I mean, all we wanted for the team in 2020 was for the prospects to develop and get experience, but did that happen? No! Instead, the entire minor league season gets cancelled!
April: They'll still get experience.
Lydia: As part of that taxi squad, or whatever? You know that's nowhere near the same thing.
April: I guess.
Lydia: Plus, what if a bunch of players test positive and then even this 60-game-dealio gets scratched? I could definitely see that happening, especially since we're here, talking about this.
April: Lyd, we are not the curse. Seriously.
Lydia: I dunno...
Brian: Okay, let's hope we're not and then make some predictions for this shortened season, assuming that it does get played to completion. All right?
Lydia: You go, April.
Lydia: Yeah. I'm-a sit this one out.
April: Oh, c'mon.
April (sighs): All right. Well, I still think the Dodgers are going to win the World Series.
Brian: Fair enough. What about the Mariners?
April: In a shortened season, anything could happen, so it'll be kind of interesting. But in the end I'm going to say...23-37.
Brian: Last place?
Lydia: Nah, ahead of the Astros, who will finish 8-52!
April: I thought you were going to sit this one out.
Lydia: I'm still mad about those guys. And besides, if we're using our jinx powers here, me saying that they'll be bad will cause them to be good, but then since the season will get cancelled anyway, it won't matter in the end! Mwuahahaha!
April: I think you need some professional help.
Lydia: Nah, just a beer. Or three.
Thursday, July 9, 2020
What could it possibly want?
I have no carrots
Enemy cat detected
Wait it's just TV
A stage show in my garage
Practice on Sunday
Almost no one got the joke
Play Doki Doki
Cats love cardboard containers
As Captain America says: I can do this all day. But I'll spare you and stop here. For now.
Thursday, July 2, 2020
B: Okay, so first off - due to the lack of regular Spam that I mentioned in this previous post, I ended up buying something called "Bacon Spam."
J: I thought Kyle brought over a bunch of Spam from another store.
B: He did, but I bought this before that happened.
B: So, yeah, what did you guys think of this?
J: I thought it tasted fine.
F: Anything "bacon" has to try hard not to taste good.
B: It did have a richer flavor than regular Spam, I will say that.
J: Actually, what you used to buy all the time is Spam Lite, not regular. And regular Spam is actually called Spam Classic. And Bacon Spam is actually called Spam with Real Hormel Bacon.
F: Surprisingly, Spam Lite has more sodium than Bacon Spam.
J: But Bacon Spam has twice as much saturated fat. And two-point-five-times as much regular fat.
B: Yikes. Okay, so what's the verdict - would we eat this again?
F: I would.
J: Since Kyle brought over a bunch of Spam - officially, Spam Less Sodium - shouldn't we eat all of that first?
B: Yeah, good point. All right, moving on.
F: Which were...
B: The "pear and coconut" and "honey citrus and shea butter."
F: Oh, right - you liked the "pear and coconut" because it's green and supposedly matches the color scheme of the house.
J: It really doesn't, though.
B: I didn't care for this "antibacterial ripe melon" at first because it doesn't lather up as well and is harder to wash off. But after using it for a while, I started to get used to it.
J: I thought Kyle also brought over a bunch of hand soap that he wasn't going to use.
B: He did, and we're using them in a couple of the rooms now, but the kitchen sink still needs the old-style soap containers, partially due to the size and also because the cats will probably attack anything that's different from what they're used to.
F: Ah, cats. Gotta love 'em.
B: Anyway, you guys have used this "ripe melon" soap, right?
B: So, verdict?
J: I don't like it.
F: Me neither.
B: All right, I'll try to look for alternatives. But we still have a couple more to use up first.
F: Really, though, I'm just grateful that we have soap at all.
B: Sounds like you absorbed the lesson in appreciation that I was trying to impart in Volume One.
F: What? Volume One?
J: What is that?
B: Never mind. Okay, finally, we have -
J: That seems smart to me.
F: What I don't understand is why you didn't use them before.
B: I actually did, but I had been finding that I never really used less than a "whole" sheet anyway, and I was paying a little extra for the additional perforations.
B: But since the full-size sheet option seems scarce now, I went back to these. And you know what?
B: I kind of like them. Having to use these has forced me to figure out ways to be more efficient with my paper towel usage and get by with a half sheet where before only a whole would do.
J: Well, that's good, but you already were pretty efficient with paper towel usage.
B: I was?
F: Yeah, because you'd reuse sheets. That's why there are always those little balls of used towels by the sink.
B: True. Anyway, I think I'll continue to use this variety even if and when the full-sheet option becomes more available.
F: Okay. Can we go now?
Thursday, June 25, 2020
The virus-induced lockdown threw a wrench into the plans for Second Player Score's fourth album, as we were neither able to get together for rehearsal nor did we know when we might be able to go back into the studio. After three months our area moved into Phase 2 reopening which allowed the three of us to be in the same room together once again, so now we're starting to get back on track. Since the fourth album (entitled Four-D, more details here, here, and here) will be split into four seasonal "suites" of four songs each, we targeted the "Winter Suite" as being first up since it seemed to be the most likely one that we'll be able to bootcamp (i.e. do pre-production on), record, and then release during the time period in which it's set (the winter). Two of the songs are already fully written and arranged, which leaves two others in need of things like lyrics and vocal harmonies. Oh, and a guitar solo.
I recently wrapped up yet another read-through of Joel Suzuki, Volume Five, making a few updates and edits along the way before I sent it off for a sensitivity-reader check. While that's being done, I've actually started on Volume Six(!), crafting a basic outline along with around 2000 words or so. Granted, said words are pretty terrible, but I needed to - as part of the process for Volume Five - at least get the beginning of the story down on paper, making sure that the continuity jives so that I don't find myself stuck in a corner that I can't write myself out of later on.
I also finished a seven-week script-writing workshop with Jonathan Stark and Tracy Newman, two Emmy Award-winning writers who created the Jim Belushi show According to Jim, among their other numerous accomplishments. It was a fun and educational experience that I got to share with a group of writers from L.A. and elsewhere (all done via Zoom, of course), all of whom are extremely cool and talented people. Each week, we took turns critiquing one another's scripts (I submitted Hold My Beer for consideration) and exchanging ideas. It was supposed to end after the sixth week, but John and Tracy were generous enough to add an extra week where we would each write a single five-page scene and then we would review them all and try to guess who wrote what. For my scene, I wrote a fictionalized account of the time when my son asked me to write him a book (which, as you probably know, was the actual genesis of the Joel Suzuki series). Everyone's scenes went over so well that we're all now developing them into full pilot scripts that we will send to John and Tracy later and possibly meet up again to discuss at some point in the future.
So that's mostly what's been going on, along with managing the Kickstarter campaign for Glorified Issue #3 (which ends next week), applying for a screenwriting development program from Imagine Impact (writers, you should check it out), continuing to learn Japanese (kanji is so dang confusing), and recording weekly episodes of the Second Player Speaks podcast. If that sounds like a lot, understand that I'm just doing it all in bite-size chunks in between checking the news and watching anime. It's like if you eat three blueberries every day, after a little over a month you'll have eaten a hundred blueberries. Okay, never mind, terrible example, but I think you get the idea. The important thing is that, like a shark, you just have to keep moving - and that's my productivity tip of the week.