Thursday, December 9, 2021

Volume Seven (?!) Status Update

While Volume Six is with my esteemed editor this month, I have started working on (gasp) Volume Seven.
Can you believe we've gotten to this point already? I mean, I know I've been doing this whole Spectraland Saga/Joel Suzuki/blogging thing for nearly a decade now, but...c'mon. It feels like just yesterday that I was struggling with Mystery of the Moonfire/Volume Two (actually, it's been eight years).

In case you're new here, Volume Seven will be the final entry in the main story arc of the Joel Suzuki series. There are plans for four additional volumes, but they will be "post-stories" that deal with events that happen after the primary adventure is complete (there will still be stakes and conflicts, possibly even very large ones, but that's a subject for another day).

I'll save details about Volume Seven for future status update posts, but for now, suffice it to say that I am up to 1500 words, or about six pages. Yes, I know, not much, but everything has to start somewhere. My hope is to finish at least the first chapter or two before the end of the month when the Volume Six draft comes back from my editor and I start the revising/rewriting process in earnest, but seeing as it's the holiday season, who knows if I'll actually get there. At the very least, I'll have a little bit of something to read several months(?) from now (when Volume Six goes back to my editor for a line edit), after which I will either say "well, that's off to a pretty good start" or "what the heck was I thinking?"

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Boots Does Not Care That You Are Trying To Watch Avengers: Endgame On Cable TV

Me: Excuse me, sir.
Boots: Wot
Me: Move, please.
Boots: No
Me: Aw, c'mon.
Boots: Why are you even watching this, anyway?
Me: What do you mean
Boots: I mean, you've seen this movie a million times already.
Me: I know, but -
Boots: While you're watching this, there are tons of other shows and movies you haven't seen, yet claim to want to. I mean, have you checked your streaming queues lately?
Me: Right, I get your point, but sometimes I just want to veg out with something familiar.
Boots: If that's the case, then why are you watching this on cable?
Me: Um...
Boots: You do know you have Disney+, right?
Me: Yeah.
Boots: Then why aren't you watching this on that? It's commercial-free and you're already paying for the service.
Me: This is just easier since it's already on.
Boots: It takes literally four clicks of a remote to pull it up on your Fire stick.
Me: True, but there's just something communal about watching it on live cable TV. It's like, you're subconsciously aware that there are other people watching this at the same time you are.
Boots: Humans are so weird.
Me: We are. So could you scoot over, just a little?
Boots: Nah

THE END

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Random Thanksgiving Thoughts

The tryptophan in turkey does not make you sleepy. The overeating does. And, depending on your beverage of choice, the overdrinking. And also quite possibly having to watch the Detroit Lions play football (hey, the Seahawks are 3-7, so my favorite team's not doing so hot, either).
Speaking of football, which would you rather have as an official national holiday: the day after the Super Bowl, or the day after Thanksgiving? My answer: how about both? And get rid of Daylight Saving Time while you're at it, please.

On the subject of giving thanks: thank you to Dan, the bass player in my band Second Player Score, for turning me on to this hilarious song & video by the popular Malaysian recording artist Namewee. It's been stuck in my head on a continuous loop for days, and during the rare times that it hasn't, I've consciously reminded myself about it due to its effect as a natural antidepressant (your results may vary; do not take medical advice from a writer/musician).

The word "bakayarou" (Japanese for, let's call it, "big idiot"), as heard at the end of the aforementioned song/video and in a good amount of anime shows is, besides being very rude (WARNING: DO NOT SAY THIS WORD IN JAPAN!) is also probably one of the hardest, if not the hardest, Japanese words to pronounce. It's spelled "ba-ka-ya-ro-u" but is pronounced something more like "ba-ka-yaero" with a sort of weird combination "ah-eh" sound. What this has to do with Thanksgiving, I have no idea (Brian, you bakayarou).

Speaking of Japan, turkeys are not really a thing there, at least from what I've heard (despite my seeming expertise, all my knowledge about Japan actually comes secondhand from books, anime, and the Internet). Something about there not being enough space to raise turkeys, or whatever. But Kentucky Fried Chicken at Christmas is a big deal.

For some reason, I seem to have a thing about writing scenes that take place on Thanksgiving. Like in Volumes Four and Five of the Joel Suzuki series. Or in the unproduced screenplay currently known as Jinx, featuring Joel's cousin April Hayashi. Here's an actual excerpt from the script:

    Ralph goes back to eating. J.J. leans over to April.

    J.J.: Sorry about that. I don't know why Thanksgiving family drama always has to be a thing.
    April (chuckles): No worries. If you think this is bad, wait until you meet my family.

This raises all kinds of questions for me. Like, since April's family is basically Joel's uncle, aunt, and grandparents, would whatever drama that occurred have been confined to them, or would it have included Joel and his immediate family? And if so, would this have been before or after Joel's parents got divorced? What kind of drama took place? And could said drama be the reason why Joel and his family are eating Thanksgiving dinner by themselves during the events of Volumes Four and Five, even though they live in the same city (Seattle) as April and her parents? I'm really curious to know the answers...oh, wait, I guess I would need to write them, wouldn't I? Maybe I should work on that while Volume Six is with my editor next month...

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Portland Holiday Market

Do you live in the Portland/Vancouver area* and are looking for something fun to do this weekend that doesn't involve staring at your computer screen? Then consider checking out the new Portland Holiday Market at the Portland Expo Center! It's going on from Thursday (today) through Sunday, 10am to 6pm each day. It'll be a great place to do your holiday shopping, especially if you are interested in BOOKS.
I say that because one of the exhibitors is none other than the illustrious Northwest Independent Writers Association, who will be there with all kinds of great books for all kinds of great people, including the Joel Suzuki series (I won't be there, but my books will, pre-signed). Of course, there will be lots of other cool stuff there as well (including Santa), so definitely check it out! You can find more information on the event here.

* or elsewhere and have access to a mode of long-distance transport, like a car, an airplane, or a TARDIS

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Dates For December

No, not dates as in "meet-me-for-drinks" or "dinner-and-a-movie,"* but actual, literal calendar dates when cool stuff is happening next month:
November 24: Hawkeye on Disney+ (okay, it's not starting in December, but close enough)
December 3: Release date for the first single from Second Player Score's upcoming EP, Four-D: The Autumn Suite
December 16: Aggretsuko season 4 on Netflix
December 17: Spider-Man: No Way Home in theaters AND the release date for the second single from Four-D: The Autumn Suite
December 22: The Matrix Resurrections in theaters and on HBO Max
December 29: The Book of Boba Fett on Disney+
December 31: Due date for the initial manuscript edit/evaluation for Joel Suzuki, Volume Six
December 5, 12, 19, 26: boot camp pre-production sessions for a special Second Player Score project (details forthcoming)
January 1: Doctor Who special (okay, not technically December, but close enough)

Fun and exciting times!

* Felicity says: "are those really the best date ideas you can come up with? No wonder you're still single."

Thursday, November 4, 2021

April and Lydia Recap the 2021 MLB Season

Hey there, baseball fans! Yes, now that the World Series is over, it's time to do our traditional recap of the season with our in-house baseball experts/die-hard Seattle Mariners fans, April Hayashi and Lydia Sanchez.
Brian: Welcome.
Lydia: Or, you mean, youkoso. That's Japanese for "welcome," right?
Brian: It is.
Lydia: See, April? I've been studying.
April: Good for you.
Lydia: Did you know what that word meant?
April: I did not, actually.
Lydia: What? What kind of Japanese person are you?
April: The American kind?
Brian: Okay, let's get to baseball, please. What did you think about the World Series?
Lydia: At least the Astros didn't win.
April: Kind of interesting that an 88-win team took it.
Brian: Gives you hope for the Mariners.
April: Exactly.
Brian: Speaking of the Mariners, let's move on to them, since there's a lot of ground to cover.
Lydia: For sure. Fun differential, baby!
April: Your new favorite expression.
Lydia: That's right.
Brian: The end of the season was pretty fun, actually. Winning 90 games and almost making the playoffs was a pleasant surprise.
April: For a while there, I thought they were going to make Lydia's preseason prediction of 92-70 come true.
Lydia: But then the Angels had to go and mess it all up.
Brian: What do you think should be the team's priorities for the offseason?
Lydia: You go first, Grape Ape.
April: Well, I know lots of people are saying that the Mariners should open their wallets and spend big on free agents. Personally, though, I'm kind of wary of that.
Brian: How come?
April: A number of different reasons. For one, getting locked into an expensive, long-term contract can really hamstring your flexibility down the line. Two, you really have to be sure of the reasons that a free agent's current team isn't trying harder to retain them. Is it a budget issue? Are they rebuilding? Do they have a young player at the same position they want to see play? Or is it that maybe they just don't value the free agent player enough? And three, you also have to be sure of the player's character - like, once they cash in, so to speak, will they lose some of their motivation? I just think you have to be really careful with free agency, overall.
Brian: I guess a lot of it depends on how much you trust the judgment of the front office.
April: Yeah. I do like their philosophy of trading for well-regarded prospects who are blocked with their current teams. I think that's the new Moneyball. So, I prefer that route.
Brian: What about you, Lydia?
Lydia: I want them to sign Kris Bryant, Marcus Semien, and Max Scherzer! Oh, and that Suzuki guy, too. Not your cousin, April, the outfielder from Japan.
April (laughs): I know who you're talking about. Are you serious? You want them to go all in like that?
Lydia: Heck yeah. Live for today! Besides, I think the fan base would riot if they didn't sign at least one of those guys.
Brian: Maybe the amount of options in the market will help keep the prices reasonable.
April & Lydia: I doubt it.
Lydia: Jinx!
Brian: Yeah, you're probably right.
Lydia: Besides, honestly, I think they really have to go for it over the next year or so. I mean, you can always trade those guys later if it doesn't work out. Or, if you get stuck with an albatross contract, at least you know you gave it your best shot.
April: True.
Brian: Okay, how about we wrap up with predictions for the regular season awards. Go.
April: You first this time, Lyd.
Lydia: American League MVP, Vlad Jr.
April: Not Ohtani?
Lydia: I still have a grudge against that dude for signing with the Angels.
April (laughs): Okay.
Lydia: Cy Young, Gerrit Cole. Rookie of the Year, Not Jarred Kelenic, obviously. I'll go with Wander Franco. And Manager of the Year, our own Scott Servais.
Brian: Those are some good choices. What about the National League?
Lydia: I don't care about those guys.
Brian: Very well. April?
April: AL: Ohtani, Robbie Ray, Arozarena, and Servais. NL: Soto, Wheeler, Jonathan India, and Kapler.
Brian: All right, well, we'll see what happens on November 18th. Thanks for being here today.
April: You're welcome.
Lydia: You mean, dou itashimashite.
April: Wow, you really have been studying.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Anime Roundup

That's right, it's time for another edition of Anime Roundup!

Fire Force
Kind of like Avatar/Legend of Korra, except everyone is a firebender? Sort of? Actually, not really, but there is a lot of fire being thrown around. Basically, (cue movie announcer voice) in a world where a special fire brigade called the Fire Force is fighting and investigating cases of spontaneous human combustion, one boy with special pyrokinetic powers (that are more special than other people's "regular" pyrokinetic powers) and who flashes a creepy smile whenever he's nervous joins the Fire Force in order to become a hero while discovering who was behind the murder of his mother (who was, naturally, killed in a fire). Fun fact: the manga upon which it's based is made by the same guy who made Soul Eater!

Fena: Pirate Princess
As you may know, I watch a lot of stuff on both Crunchyroll and Adult Swim (Rick and Morty, etc.), so this show being an original joint production of the two, I had been getting routinely bombarded with ads and promos for it. It looked like an interesting story with some fantastic art, so I decided to give it a shot. And was not disappointed! A historical fantasy about an orphan girl rescued from an arranged marriage and swept up into a quest to find the meaning behind her late father's last words, it's a new show that is made in Japan (by Production I.G) but comes out in the U.S. first, which is an interesting twist.

Star Wars: Visions
Star Wars and anime together? Yes, please! This is an anthology of original anime shorts set in the Star Wars galaxy that were created by some of Japan's finest animation studios, including the aforementioned Production I.G. Totally awesome and mind-blowing, although my only gripe is that I couldn't figure out how to change the Disney+ settings to Japanese with English subtitles, which a few reviewers of this series recommended doing (and is how I watch all my anime). Editor's note: I have since figured out how to change it and am considering doing a full rewatch

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
With a title like Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai, I was expecting a lighthearted romantic comedy romp along the lines of Don't Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro! or maybe even Toradora! What I got instead was a wistful, melancholy drama with some really cool supernatural elements (time loops, body swaps, doppelgangers, etc.) that reminded me more of something like Clannad. Once I got used to the tone (and got past the third episode, which seemed like it was the natural ending for the story but totally was not), I really got into it, especially as it started landing one surprisingly deep and emotional moment after another.

Love is Like a Cocktail
A series of short episodes about a hard-working office woman and her stay-at-home husband who dutifully mixes her favorite drinks for her at the end of a long day, I liked this one so much (being a fan of light and fluffy slice-of-life rom-coms) that I wanted each episode to be thirty minutes instead of three. Bonus points for the actual cocktail recipes at the end of most episodes.

Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!
Two high school girls discover that they not only have a mutual passion for anime but that they are also super-talented artists - one is great at character design, the other at backgrounds. Meanwhile, a third girl (the best friend of one of the two) is not an artist but has expert-level business acumen. So, what happens? Naturally, they form an anime club - which is technically called the "film club" because their school already has an anime club - and set about to create the ultimate anime. This show, which started off good and got better and better as it went along, is a must-watch for anyone who is interested in going into the anime industry and/or just wants to know some of the things that might be going on behind the scenes of their favorite shows (sleepless nights, creative differences, budget issues, etc.)