Thursday, September 17, 2020

Random Life Tips That Work For Me

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.)

Finances

- 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.

Health

- 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.

Writing

- 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

A Post That Is Sort Of About Football: 2020 Edition

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

OTMGirls Rule: Aggretsuko Season 3 Bullet Point Reaction Post

This is not an Anime Roundup post. Nor is it a review (there are lots of other good places for that on the Internet). This is simply a spoiler-filled reaction post to Season 3 of my all-time second-favorite anime, Aggretsuko (which I finished watching in two days).
- I love that Retsuko felt more satisfaction from earning a little bit of money from her work as the accounting manager for OTMGirls than she ever did as a corporate OL ("office lady").

- 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

Happy Birthday, Cats!

How is it that these two are SIX YEARS OLD ALREADY?? HOW?? I swear, some kind of timey-wimey shenanigans must be afoot.
Anyway, tanjoubi omedetou (happy birthday), Boots and Mittens! Here's to many more. To help celebrate, here are links to some previous cat-related posts:

Boots and Mittens
Kat Birthday
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

Whoops! I Forgot To Mention Glorified Issue #3

Two weeks ago I wrote a post called "Fun Things To Look Forward To During The Rest Of 2020 (Hopefully)." The list therein included a couple of my own projects - Four-D: The Winter Suite (the 1st EP from Second Player Score's upcoming fourth album) and Joel Suzuki, Volume Five. For some reason, I forgot to mention a third, very important project: Glorified, Issue #3.
Our 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

Anime Roundup: New Favorites Edition

If you've been following along with these Anime Roundup posts, then you know that my list of top favorites includes K-On!, Aggretsuko, Madoka Magica, Akame ga Kill!, Re: Creators, and others. Well, now they may have some new company...

Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
When I first really started getting into anime 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.

Food Wars!
I had gotten a sample of this one at my bass player's house, so I was pretty stoked when I heard it was coming to Netflix. And then once I started watching it, it quickly developed into one of my all-time favorites. I mean, most anime have depictions of food that make me hungry (I'm looking at you, ramen shop from Naruto), but this is almost too much. Every dish on this show looks and sounds delicious - maybe with the exception of the stuff that Soma and his dad try to make disgusting on purpose - and they seem like things that can actually be made in real life (in fact, my bass player made an omelet recipe based on one from the show). And it's not only the food that makes me enjoy this show so much - the dialogue is witty, the characters are interesting, and the plot moves along at a nice, brisk pace. I devoured the entire 24-episode first season in record time and found myself wanting more. Much, much more. I then discovered that there are, in fact, four additional seasons, which prompts me to ask: why do you not have them, Netflix? WHY?? Anyway...

Dropkick on My Devil!
Slice-of-life meets supernatural in this fun comedy about a witch who summons a demon but doesn't have the spell to send her back, so they end up as roommates who alternate between unsuccessful attempts by the demon to kill the witch - the only way she can return to Hell - and cooking hot pot dinners for themselves and their friends (I swear, I just love the premises that manga and anime creators come up with). Everything about this show is delightfully over-the-top, from the hilarious theme song (which, naturally, is kawaii-metal) to all the super-meta references (their own maga/anime exists as a real in-universe thing within the show) and fourth-wall breakages.

Made in Abyss
Despite its kawaii-ish appearance, this is definitely not a show for young children, as it's a beautiful yet slow-paced, harrowing depiction of what could actually happen if a couple of barely trained kids went down into a certain death trap filled with vicious monsters and other life-threatening hazards. In other words, the consequences - injury, fatigue, etc. - are about as realistic as you can imagine given that one of the kids is a cyborg who can fire a killer death ray from his right hand (note: this does not solve as many problems as you might expect). Not to give too much more away, but if you make it all the way to the end of the first season (there's a sequel movie yet to be released in the U.S. that continues the story), be prepared for some major feels.

A Whisker Away
This one is a feature-length rom-dram that was originally meant for a theatrical release in Japan, but due to the pandemic it was sold to Netflix instead. Which I guess was a silver-lining result for all of us around the world who love rom-dram, anime, and/or cats. Anyway, it's a cute and touching story about a girl who accepts the ability to turn into a cat from a mysterious mask-seller in order to get closer to her crush. What could possibly go wrong? (Lots, naturally.) I recommend this one because behind the fable-like magical realism premise there's actually a lot of emotional depth that I think would resonate well with audiences of all ages, so round up the family (even if all it consists of are cats) for a weekend movie night and enjoy.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Fun Things To Look Forward To During The Rest Of 2020 (Hopefully)

We all need some fun pop culture things to look forward to right now. Here's my list, separated into categories based on probability (because, you know, who knows what will happen these days, right?):

Stuff That Will Probably Happen on a Particular Date
Season Three of Aggretsuko (August 27)
- 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

Favorite Five By Five

I was recently invited to play a game on Facebook where we would name our top five-to-seven favorite songs by Billy Joel, who just so happens to be one of my five all-time favorite musical artists. It was fun, so I decided to reprint my list here along with my favorite songs from the rest of my top five (and remember, these are just my personal preferences and in no way reflect the "best" songs by these artists, because all art is subjective. I'm sure you probably have your own list - which you can feel free to share in the comments).

Billy Joel
5. You May Be Right
4. Sometimes a Fantasy
3. All for Leyna
2. Vienna
1. Honesty

Iron Maiden
5. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
4. Infinite Dreams
3. Aces High
2. Killers
1. The Trooper

Metallica
5. Blackened
4. Damage Inc.
3. Seek and Destroy
2. Creeping Death
1. Battery

The Dambuilders
5. Shrine
4. Digitize
3. Smell
2. Drive-By Kiss
1. Slo-Mo Kikaida

Stereopony
5. Sweet Blue
4. Never Look Back
3. Stand by Me
2. Nakanaide
1. Hitohira no Hanabira

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Guest DJ Spot

Minasan, konnichiwa (hello everyone)! I have an exciting announcement. You see, every Thursday there is a radio show on 99WNRR.com from 2:30-4pm Pacific Time called "Gettin' Squatchy" hosted by my good friend DJ Dex where he plays the best pop-punk music from the Pacific Northwest and around the world - and for today's show, I will be the special guest DJ!
During those ninety minutes, I will be going by my alter ego alias "MC Manga" and I will be playing (with DJ Dex's help) some of my favorite pop-punk songs from - you guessed it - 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

Talking Baseball With April And Lydia

The last time we spoke to our in-house baseball experts/die-hard Seattle Mariners fans April Hayashi and Lydia Sanchez - a zillion years ago on March 12, 2020 - they offered their predictions about the upcoming Major League Baseball season. Later that very same day, MLB cancelled the rest of Spring Training and pushed Opening Day back two weeks. Four days later, they announced that the season would be postponed indefinitely due to a global health issue you may have heard something about.
Since then, there have been labor disputes (which we won't get into), spikes in virus cases (which we also won't get into), and KBO (Korean baseball) games played in front of empty stadiums and televised in the U.S. at ungodly hours in the morning. Now, finally, Major League Baseball will be starting its 2020 season next week, July 23...hopefully. And so, here to talk about it once more are April and Lydia.

Brian: Welcome back.
Lydia: Uh...yeah.
April: Thanks.
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.
April: Me?
Lydia: Yeah. I'm-a sit this one out.
April: Oh, c'mon.
Lydia: Nope.
April: Really?
Lydia: Yup.
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?
April: Yeah.
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

Haiku Hour

For those of you who don't know, a haiku is a Japanese poem that consists of 17 syllables divided into three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. I used to write these for fun when I was younger (I once wrote a collection of them for a college creative writing class assignment and called it "Haikus from Hell," much to my instructor's amusement) and I figured that since I've been getting back into Japanese culture that I would try my hand at them again. Bear with me:
Bunny in my yard
What could it possibly want?
I have no carrots
Intruder alert
Enemy cat detected
Wait it's just TV
Band rehearsal space
A stage show in my garage
Practice on Sunday
Look I made a meme!
Almost no one got the joke
Play Doki Doki
Why buy fancy beds?
Cats love cardboard containers
Boxtown, U.S.A.

As Captain America says: I can do this all day. But I'll spare you and stop here. For now.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Pandemic Products Review

All right, today we're going to talk about pandemic products - not products that are directly related to the pandemic (masks, etc.), but rather, products that I've tried out due to shortages of the stuff that I usually buy. And here to help me out are special guests Joel and Felicity.
B: Say hi, you two.
J: Hi.
F: Whatever.
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.
J: Oh.
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.
B: True.
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.
B: So here we have "antibacterial ripe melon" hand soap. Which, for whatever reason, has been more available than the types of hand soap I used to buy.
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?
J: Yeah.
F: Sure.
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 -
B: "Select-a-sheet" paper towels. Which, for those who don't know, are the kind where the perforations come at smaller intervals so you can just tear off what is essentially half a sheet.
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.
F: Ah.
B: But since the full-size sheet option seems scarce now, I went back to these. And you know what?
J: 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?
B: Sure.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Statii Update

It's hard to be productive at the moment. Even though I'm used to working at home by myself (or with cats), there are - obviously - a lot of world-event-level distractions going on, and frankly, it's all a bit exhausting. That said, I'm trying my best to keep pushing forward, little by little, day after day, making as much progress on my projects as I can even if that means just writing one paragraph in a draft that might get thrown away later, or coming up with a vocal harmony for a single line in a chorus. Here's the latest on what I've been up to:
Music
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.

Writing
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.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Anime Roundup: Art Imitates Life Imitates Art Edition

Here we are with another edition of Anime Roundup! This time around, we have some fun shows that are about people who create art, people who ARE art (literally), and people who symbolize life and society in general. As always, mild spoilers are to be found. Ikimashou!

Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend
At first, you might think that this is one of those animes about several teenage girls who all inexplicably like the same boring dude (yes, that's a subgenre), but...well, it is sort of like that, but the fun part is that it KNOWS it. The basic gist of the story is that there's an otaku (nerdy) guy who wants to create his own dating sim game, so he recruits some friends/classmates/relatives - that are all way more talented than him - to join his doujinshi (essentially, indie creator) team, and then, of course, all sorts of hilarious and dramatic escapades ensue. I especially enjoyed the meta moments where the characters spoke to each other as if they knew they were in a show ("You can't start vying for screen time now, it's the third act! Especially after you were essentially missing for the entire second half!")

Re: Creators
Speaking of meta, this is an anime about anime/manga/video game characters ("Creations") from different genres - mecha, fantasy, magical girl, dating sim, etc. - who come to life in the "real" world and then join forces against one main villain (herself a Creation) and a few of her flunkies in order to save all worlds, fictional or not, from total destruction. Kind of like if the members of the Avengers or Justice League were pulled not only from Marvel/DC comic books, but also from Star Wars movies, Harry Potter novels, My Little Pony, etc. (can you imagine a super-team consisting of Spider-Man, Luke Skywalker, Hermione Granger, and Twilight Sparkle?) It's a great concept and very well-executed with a nice blend of humor, drama, and action - in fact, this show just might have cracked my personal Top 10 list. I often found myself wondering if the "real world" characters knew that they, themselves, were also in a fictional realm of existence (which we may ourselves be??). I also pondered what some of my own creations would think and feel if they found themselves in a similar situation - Gloria, for example, would absolutely hate my guts for having made her world a desolate, post-apocalyptic nightmare.

Gekkan Shoujo (Monthly Girls') Nozaki-Kun
A light-hearted rom-com about a girl who has a crush on a hunky dude who is secretly a romance manga writer-artist but who is completely oblivious to romance in real life and then she tries to get closer to him by becoming one of his assistants since she's also a really good artist but any attempt on her part to initiate anything with him ends up with him interpreting her actions as simply a good example for a storyline that he can incorporate into his work, this one was a lot of fun and I wish there were more than twelve episodes.

Seven Senses of the Reunion
I'm sure I'm not the only one who has pointed this out, but this show is totally a straight-up mashup of Sword Art Online and Anohana. Which - to me, anyway - is not a bad thing, mind you. There's even a little bit of Uploaded with the concept of dying in the "real" world but living on in a "virtual" one. Good times.

Promare
My daughter tipped me off to this one. Her track record of pop culture recommendations in general is pretty impeccable (Doki Doki Literature Club, Animal Crossing, Ouran High School Host Club, Legend of Zelda, etc.), so I figured I should check it out. Conclusion? You have excellent taste, my dear. A full-length feature film, Promare starts off being about a brash firefighter who clashes with a fire-generating mutant (kind of like Pyro from X-Men), but then it develops and goes off into a bunch of different storyline directions, some predictable, some not. It has a unique animation style that I've never seen before and a great sense of humor (I especially loved the part where Galo slept through Deus Prometh's expository dialogue), and it's very fast-paced with astounding action sequences. It also reflects some serious themes about prejudice and diversity that are always relevant, but especially now.

Anyway, on to the next batch!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Second Player Stir-Fry

So ever since I posted my recipes for Garlic Spam-ghetti and Spam Curry and then followed those up with a shout-out to Spam in general, it appears that the trend of pandemic-related hoard-shopping has moved on from toilet paper to - you guessed it - Spam. Weeks have gone by and only once during my more-numerous-than-is-probably-prudent grocery shopping expeditions have I found even one can of Spam on the shelves (I found two, actually - the last two, which I immediately snatched up).
The good news is that in crisis lies opportunity; necessity is the mother of invention; etc., etc., because behold! In the wake of the Spam shortage, I have come up with a new bachelor chow pub food recipe that is just as cheap, almost as easy to make, and quite possibly even more delicious. I call it: Second Player Stir-Fry.

Ingredients:

- One box thin spaghetti (angel hair was my preferred form of pasta, but that's been in short supply as well, for some reason)
- One gallon of water
- Two eggs, scrambled
- Two or three Vienna sausages, sliced into 1/3 - 1/2" segments
- Sliced mushrooms (I use the canned kind)
- Baby spinach leaves
- Broccoli florets, small
- Minced garlic
- Cooking oil, about 1 tablespoon
- Dash of salt

Directions:

1. Bring the gallon of water to a boil in a large pot. Add a dash of salt.
2. Boil the spaghetti in accordance with the directions on the box (usually 8-10 minutes, until the noodles are reasonably soft)
3. In a separate pan, combine the sausages, mushrooms, spinach leaves, broccoli florets, and minced garlic. While stirring, fry on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes or until the spinach leaves start to shrink and turn dark green, then move the mixture to one side of the pan.
4. On the other side of the pan, add the cooking oil and scrambled eggs. Fry the eggs for 1 minute, then mix with the other ingredients. Continue to stir and fry for another 1-2 minutes or until the eggs achieve a rubbery consistency.
5. Top the spaghetti with the stir-fried ingredients and then add shoyu (soy sauce) to taste.
6. Say "itadakimasu" (optional, but it makes the food taste better for some strange reason) and dig in.

(Note: makes 3 large servings)

Now, if after this blog post is published there is a sudden run on Vienna sausage, don't blame me. Or do. Whatever...

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Glorified Issue #3 Kickstarter

Hey there! Just wanted to let everyone know that the creative team behind the Glorified comic book series has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds for the next issue in the series. I know that this is a tough time financially for many folks out there, but for those who can afford it, we have some fun rewards available, including the chance to appear as a character in the issue (and maybe even get killed by a young Gloria)!
Issue #3 ("Broken Ecstasy") features flashbacks to Gloria's past as she grows up in Fort Storm, trains to become an Enforcer, and eventually assumes the position of Alpha. These scenes are intercut with the present-day action of Gloria and Gage heading across the wasteland in a hovercraft toward the settlement of Tiger's Tree, where Gloria hopes to rekindle more of her lost memories.

Anyway, the Kickstarter campaign can be found here, and Issues #1 and #2 are available from the good folks at IndyPlanet. You can also find more information on the series itself here and here. Cheers!

/end commercial

Thursday, May 28, 2020

TV Roundup, Episode Three

Welcome to Episode Three of TV Roundup! If you've seen either of the first two episodes, then you know that in addition to anime and sports (well, not so much sports right now), I watch a truckload of "regular" shows as well. Here's some of what's been on lately:

Killing Eve
I was a huge fan of this show from the beginning. Now, Season 3 is wrapping up, and I have to say that it's reached that certain point - like The Magicians and some other shows before it - where I don't really know what's going on half the time but I enjoy it anyway. Some of you more savvy viewers are probably following along just fine, but for me, I need a scorecard to keep track of who's working for The Twelve, who used to work for them, and who's still working for them but doesn't want to any more. Also, obligatory SPSU reference #1: I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I had Jodie Comer in mind for the role of Thana when I was writing the scripts for the Nobody's Hero trilogy. I know that that particular piece of fantasy casting will probably never happen (unless, by some improbable miracle, the films get greenlit and put into production within the next couple of years or so), but, hey, I just wanted to mention it here for the record. Obligatory SPSU reference #2: when the show introduced Dasha (Villanelle's mentor) this season, I was like, "hey, that's kind of like The Matriarch and Gloria!" Because, you know, older mentor has love-hate relationship with their younger prodigy whose primary skill is killing people...anyway, moving on.

(on BBC America)

The Mandalorian
I said basically everything I wanted to say about this awesome show in last week's post.

(on Disney+)

After Life
A dramedy in which Ricky Gervais plays a character who is mostly a jerk to everyone after his wife dies of cancer but tries to become a better person as he slowly works through his grief. I have to admit, I'm a sucker for any kind of dark comedy featuring a lonely, grouchy, middle-aged single man, which I why I also enjoyed novels like We're All Damaged by Matthew Norman and One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper. I mean, not that I'm one of those kinds of people myself, mind you, but...anyway, moving on.

(on Netflix)

Upload
A fun action-comedy whose premise is that, in the near future, those who can afford it can get their consciousnesses uploaded into a digital afterlife (this show is more about a literal afterlife than After Life, discussed above) where there is an unlimited supply of maple bacon doughnuts - that is, until breakfast ends at 10am, at which time they all disappear. I have to say, this show checked all the boxes for me. Cool science-fiction-y concept? Yep. An "A" plot involving mystery, intrigue, and betrayal? Check. A "B" plot with an awkward but fun love triangle? Got it. Potty humor? Oh yeah. The funny thing is that I actually had a similar idea for something called "Uploaded" which was meant to be an episode of 200BPM back when 200BPM was going to be more of a Black Mirror-ish anthology before it turned into something resembling Killing Eve (see how we came full circle with that), except that it was going to be full-on psychological horror. Because, I mean, as appealing as computerized immortality may sound at first, you have to realize that you'd be at the mercy of the programmers of your world, who could change it into a complete hellscape at any moment if they so chose. Like, you know, getting rid of the doughnuts. P.S. I loved the blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment when the TV at Nathan's funeral was showing the Los Angeles Rams beating the New England Patriots, 45-17. I think someone may still be bitter about Super Bowl LIII.

(on Amazon Prime)

Living With Yourself
I wonder if this whole Avenger-actor-in dual roles thing is going to become a trend? I mean, first you had this dark comedy with Paul Rudd (Ant-Man) playing some everyday dude and his clone who is an improvement on himself in every way, and now there's this HBO miniseries called I Know This Much is True featuring Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk) as identical twins. I mean, what's next, Don Cheadle playing a rebooted version of Tuvok from Star Trek: Voyager in which he visits the mirror universe and confronts the evil mustachioed version of himself? Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing something like that. Heck, I'll even write it. Hire me, CBS!

(on Netflix)

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Okay, So I Finally Signed Up For Disney+

I had resisted signing up for Disney+ for the longest time (well, maybe not that long, compared to my Netflix holdout). My main reason? Because I really didn't want to add yet another monthly bill to the pile. I'm sure you know the feeling. Plus, I had been accessing my streaming services through my Wii U, which didn't support the new offering from the House of Mouse.

I knew it was inevitable, though, because I mean, c'mon, the forthcoming Obi-Wan series is mandatory viewing for all card-carrying nerds like myself once Lucasfilm finally figures out their scripting issues and actually produces the darn thing. Not to mention all the MCU shows that are in the works, as well as this. In the meantime, I knew there was already The Mandalorian, which I had heard nothing but good things about and had even managed to catch the first few episodes of over at my bass player's house.

There were some other factors that really cinched it as well, including (1) the fact that I was getting tired of my Wii U running out of power after a couple of hours at most, prompting my desire for a new interface (I can't leave it plugged in because my cats will chew on the charging cable); (2) a credit that I got from Amazon that I could apply toward a Fire or Roku stick, which would both replace my Wii U as a streaming device and allow me to access Disney+; and (3) the stay-at-home orders brought on by the current world situation you may have heard something about.

So I took the plunge and signed up, after which the first thing I did was to binge the aforementioned Mandalorian. Man, is that show good. To be honest, unlike most fellow Star Wars fans, I was never really into any of the Mandalorian-related story arcs in both the Expanded Universe/Legends canon or in The Clone Wars or Rebels series. I mean, Boba Fett is a great character, as is Sabine Wren, but once they started going into the whole background of their culture and civilization I was just like "meh, let's get back to the Jedi and Sith stuff. Lightsabers, Force powers, woo!" But this show turned all of that around for me. Maybe it's because its Western-style plot is reminiscent of Glorified's volume one arc. Or maybe because the main character is a middle-aged single dad just trying to make a living in an unfair galaxy. I mean, it couldn't just be all about Baby Yoda, now, could it? Anyway, can't wait for Season Two (as much as I'd like Ashley Eckstein to play the live-action Ahsoka Tano, you have to admit, Rosario Dawson looks like the character).

After that, I rewatched Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, and Rise of Skywalker, which I said in December I'd be seeing again, but I didn't say where! Turns out, it wasn't in the theaters, it was in my living room. I've also started on the Disney Gallery series featuring - what else - The Mandalorian, which they've been releasing single episodes of every Friday. Oh, and of course, I watched the final season of The Clone Wars, which was also pretty awesome and further reinforced my newfound interest in all things Mandalore. This is the way.

So, yes, Disney+ has been quite worth it so far, and I imagine it will only get better as it goes along especially since Disney basically OWNS EVERYTHING I LOVE (I wonder how soon it will be before they buy a Japanese anime studio?)

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Glorified Issue #2 Released!

Great news - Glorified, Issue #2 ("Ragged Town") is now available on IndyPlanet!
For those of you who are new here, Glorified is the comic book series written by me and my fellow members of Second Player Score and wonderfully illustrated by the awesome Jenny Ho (aka Jenny Ling). It tells the story of an elite soldier in a post-apocalyptic future who goes on a rogue search for both her home and her humanity. If you like John Wick or The Mandalorian but with a butt-kicking female lead a la Kill Bill or Mad Max: Fury Road (because, let's face it, Furiosa was the main character of that film, not Max), then you'll probably like Glorified.

In Issue #2, Gloria - after escaping from Fort Storm in a stolen ship - crash-lands near a settlement called Ragged Town, where she's rescued by a benevolent machinist named Gage. The problem is that in Gloria's former role as an Enforcer for Fort Storm, she conducted raids on Ragged Town that involved her killing a bunch of people, so naturally, if the townsfolk found out she was in their midst, you can bet that there would be trouble.

For them, that is.

Because, you know, if they tried to get their revenge on her, she would go all Beatrix Kiddo on them. Gage, being the pacifist that he is, wants to avoid all of that, so he tries to sneak Gloria out of town quietly. Of course, that doesn't quite go as planned.

Anyway, the issue is available in both print-on-demand and digital formats, and you can get it at this link here. You can also catch up with the story by getting Issue #1 here. As for Issue #3, it's currently in development and is slated for release later this year!

(P.S. Glorified the comic book series is a tie-in to Glorified the music album, which you can find here. Each issue corresponds to a track on the album.)

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Anime Roundup: Love, Baseball, and Darkness Edition

Welcome to yet another edition of Anime Roundup, where I offer brief comments and random thoughts on various anime shows and films that I have watched. What? You're saying that you already know what Anime Roundup is? Well, then, ikimashou!

After the Rain
This is a wistful slice-of-life comedy/drama that, on the surface, is about a teenager who develops a schoolgirl crush on the middle-aged manager at her part-time job. Trust me, this is not as creepy as it sounds, because actually, the show is more about themes like loneliness, friendship, broken dreams, and, ultimately, discovering - or rediscovering - one's purpose in life.

Teasing Master Takagi-San
Netflix kept recommending this one to me, but I kept resisting, because it starts with Season Two. I mean, who wants to begin watching a show with Season Two? I finally gave in, and it turned out that it didn't really seem to make a difference, because this cute rom-com mostly consists of little vignettes featuring a girl who teases the boy she likes and his futile attempts to get back at her (she's Master Takagi-San, by the way, not him). There's continuity as far as the passage of time is concerned, but there's really no plot per se, so it was easy to pick up what was going on. I imagine that Season One was basically more of the same (apparently it was shown on Crunchyroll and Funimation but not on Netflix because the latter only picked up the show with the second season).

Eromanga Sensei
This quirky comedy is about a high school student who moonlights as a professionally-published (albeit not overly successful) light novel author who discovers that his reclusive younger stepsister is actually the person who illustrates the erotic pictures that go into his books and then they...develop sort of a crush on each other? Trust me, this is not as creepy as it sounds...okay, maybe it is a little creepy, but the show is obviously aware of that, playing up its "erotic" nature while never going too far over the edge. In other words, if you're fine with most Piers Anthony novels, then you should be okay with this. Underneath it all, there's a heartfelt message about how books and reading can bring happiness and joy to people's lives, which is a theme I totally endorse.

Battery the Animation
Do you miss baseball? I miss baseball, which is why I decided to give this one a shot. What I ended up finding was a quiet, contemplative, slow-paced show that is not really about baseball, but more about the complexity of interpersonal relationships. So, yeah, a typical sports drama, this is not. Plus, the protagonist was unlikable and everyone seemed much too tall and sulky to be middle schoolers. Still, though, the time went by pretty quickly as I was watching it, so I must have been having fun (either that, or I'm more starved for anything baseball-related than I thought).

Tatsumi
And now for something completely different. This feature-length animated film, which follows the real-life career of legendary manga artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi (intercut with segments based on his short stories), is not what you would expect from contemporary anime...in fact, it wasn't what I was expecting even after reading the description and watching the trailer. It is, however, a perfect representation of Tatsumi's gekiga subgenre, which typically deals with darker, more mature themes. It's a bleak and harrowing journey (I had to take several breaks) that may not be good to watch during challenging times...or maybe it is, because of the perspective that it provides. I'm not sure. Either way, if you decide to brave it, just know that the adjectives most commonly associated with this film are "sad" and "beautiful," which pretty much sums it up quite nicely. Trust me, you'll be thinking about it long after you finish watching.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Volume Five Status Update: Good News, Everyone!

Yes, the latest draft of Volume Five - a version that incorporates most of the revisions suggested by my editor - is now complete.
It took about 3 1/2 months since I had received her notes, and as usual, it involved many, many hours of work, but whew! Here we are. At one point during the rewriting process, I actually veered pretty far off course and ended up writing thousands of words before realizing that the direction I was heading in just would not work. The details of what happened will make for a funny story one day, after the book is released.

Anyway, the draft now clocks in at a little over 80,000 words (320 pages), which is about where I expected it to be last July when the first draft was completed. Of course, the original launch date of early-to-mid 2020 will not happen, but that's okay.

What happens next? Well, I will soon be asking for some beta reader feedback (while giving the draft yet another once- or twice-over myself), after which I will then ship the draft back to my editor for a line edit. During that time, I'll also start thinking about cover art! Then depending on how things go from there, I would say that we're now looking at a late 2020 or possibly early 2021 release. Better late than never, right? Either way, I'm really looking forward to sharing the latest installment of Joel's story with all of you. Hope you're all being safe and staying healthy!

P.S. While you're at home, why not catch up with the Joel Suzuki series if you haven't done so already?

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

Thursday, April 23, 2020

April 23rd: The Day That Joel First Went To Spectraland

INT. BRIAN'S LIVING ROOM - DAY

A young man is here, sitting on the couch and fiddling on a guitar. This is JOEL. A young woman is also here, sitting on the ground and playing a video game. This is FELICITY. After a few moments, an older man enters the room, carrying a small cake with a lit candle on it. This is BRIAN.
B: Hey, guys.
J: Hello.
F (not looking away from her game): Whose birthday is it?
B: What? Oh - the cake. No, it's no one's birthday. It's for an anniversary.
F: Anniversary of what?
B: April 23rd, 2012 is the day that Joel first went to Spectraland.
F (to Joel): Is that right?
J: Yes. I thought you knew that.
F: Maybe I did. I probably forgot.
B: So, yeah, I figured that since the day falls on a blog post day this year, that we would have a little celebration.
F: What kind of cake is it?
B: Chocolate.
F: Okay, I'm down.

Brian puts the cake on a table and cuts it into three pieces.

J: Did you know that April 23rd is also World Book Day?
B: That's right!
F: Man, they have a day for everything now, don't they?
J: It started back in 1995, as a way to honor several famous authors who died on that date.
B: Including Shakespeare, right?
J: That's correct. He might have been born on April 23rd, as well.

Brian serves the cake to Joel and Felicity.

B (to Felicity): Are you gonna pause your game?
F: Hold on, I'm in the middle of a boss fight.
J: Also, the number 23 has a lot of interesting facts about it. It's the smallest odd prime number that isn't a twin prime. The Earth's axis is tilted at about 23 degrees. And human reproductive cells have 23 chromosomes.
F: There's also that Jim Carrey movie. And Michael' Jordan's jersey number. And the first half of the emergency code in Monsters, Inc.
J: True.
F: I think every number has interesting stuff about it, if you look hard enough.
B: Well, at any rate, happy Spectraland anniversary, Joel.
J: Thanks.
F: Wait, what about MY anniversary? I went to Spectraland a few days before Joel did and we didn't celebrate that.
B: Well, because it didn't fall on a blog post day. And also, that day wasn't chronicled in a book.
F: But Joel's was?
B: Um...no, just kidding. Anyway, I'll go get some diet soda. You finish your boss fight.
F: Whatever.

SMASH CUT TO BLACK

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Magic Number Four

If you've been reading this blog for a while (or, at least, for the last year or so), then you know that I and the other guys in Second Player Score are nerdy fans of numerology and thus have decided to name our fourth album Four-D and have it contain nothing but four-chord songs. In celebration of today's date - 4/16/20, all multiples of four! - I will go into more detail about why we think four is such an interesting number.
First of all, there's the power of the four-chord song. Many of you are probably already aware of "4 Chord Song" by the Axis of Awesome, which is a medley of a bunch of hits that all use the same four chords. If you've never heard it before, check it out (warning: there be swear words) and come back. We'll wait.

Okay, so besides that, what is the most common time signature in music? 4/4, where each measure contains four beats, and each beat is a quarter note. If you're not a musician, trust me on this one - most of the songs that you hear, especially in pop music, are in 4/4.

Another musical example is in phrasing. One of the secrets to writing a catchy tune is to have it follow a four-phrase pattern that goes like this: intro - rising action - climax - resolution (kind of like story structure!) For example, think of the "Happy Birthday" song, and you'll know what I mean.

And, of course, there are lots of examples outside of music: four elements, four seasons, four compass points, four mathematical operations, four blood types, four DNA components, etc. But don't just take my word for it, there are lots of places on the web (like this one) where you can read a long comprehensive list of number-four-related facts and trivia.

Interestingly enough, the number four has kind of a bad rap in East Asian countries, where the word for four ("shi") sounds similar to the word meaning death. So, in Japan, China, and other places you'll find buildings that skip over the fourth floor much like how some buildings in Western countries skip over the number 13. Still, though, that doesn't make it any less significant; in fact, it probably enhances its mystical nature.

Anyway, since we're on the subject, I should give you an Album Four status update. Boot camp has been put on temporary hold due to the current stay-at-home orders, but never fear, we are still writing songs and making plans to hit the studio as soon as conditions allow. Once we are able to record again, there's a chance we may begin releasing songs four at a time before the entire physical album comes out. Since the album is divided up into four seasonal suites (Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring), it might be neat if we could get the timing of the releases to line up like that, but we shall see...