Thursday, September 27, 2012

Upcoming Earth-Shattering Events & Thursday Linkage

Got a lot of stuff coming up in October, so check back for more sexy, fun-filled blog content!

On tap:
- Live reading of Secret of the Songshell at Authors in Pubs
- Wordstock
- Couple of Second Player Score gigs
- More riveting episodes of Spooky Hero
- Book Two "You Head It Here First" updates

And much more! Well, probably not much more. Maybe a little.

Some cool sites you should check out right now:

Life with Aspergers

Bookingly Yours

Better Days

Ramune Rocket 3

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Spooky Hero

A few years ago (okay, more than a few), my band in Hawaii put out a little fanzine we called Cageliner. Having dabbled in cartooning as a kid, I decided to create a comic strip to be included in the Cageliner. This comic strip was dubbed Scat The Frisbee, after the name of the fictitious hard-luck hard rock band depicted in the strip.

The Cageliner lasted about four or five issues, and the hand-drawn Scat The Frisbee appeared in two of them. The main character was a bitter, jaded guitarist/singer named Joel (no relation to Joel Suzuki, the protagonist of The Spectraland Saga) who swore, smoked, drank, and was badly in need of a shave.

Anyway, a few years later (okay, more than a few), I decided to re-draw the strip on a computer, make some new installments (under the new name Spooky Hero because I wanted to avoid the inevitable lawsuits from Wham-O, the owners of the Frisbee trademark), and then possibly publish them as a webcomic or something. I accomplished the first two out of three, and then forgot about the whole thing for a while.

Yesterday, for some reason, I remembered that I had done this cartoon thing at one time, and decided that it might be fun to finally publish them, on this blog. So here, for your reading enjoyment, is the long-delayed world premiere of Spooky Hero, the webcomic.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ghost Peppers - Yes, Very Scary Indeed

Here's the confession of the day: I thought I was prepared for the "Marine" at local burger joint Killer Burger.

I love spicy food. I ask for extra jalapenos on my tuna sandwiches; I eat kim chee like candy; I pour sriracha sauce on my morning waffles. Okay, not really the last one, but you get the idea.

But this...this was not spicy. This was something totally different.

At Second Player Score practice one day, for some reason we started talking about ghost peppers. I'd never tried them before, but the word was that they were incredibly hot. I thought, "Mm, sounds good." So when, a week or so later, I saw an article in the paper about Killer Burger that mentioned their "Marine," a burger that contains ghost peppers, I thought, "Hey, we should try that!" So we put it down on the calendar as something fun we could do one day after practice. It even turned into an official band event of sorts, with band members' relations planning to bring cameras and such.

Weeks went by, and the event kept getting postponed by schedule conflicts and last-minute show opportunities. In the interim, I noted that Killer Burger makes you sign a waiver before you eat the burger, which I thought was a brilliant marketing move. "Oo, a waiver, how scary!" I also spent the time ratcheting up my Tabasco consumption, to the point where it hardly registered a tingle on my tongue. I was going to be ready for this.

Anyway, the big day finally arrived. We got there and saw the warning on the hand-written menu above the registers: "The Marine Hot! - DON'T ORDER THIS!!" I smirked. The cashier tried to talk us out of ordering it. I smirked again as I reflected on the genius business tactic of telling your customers not to buy your product. People will always do what you tell them not to do.

Ten minutes and a signed waiver later, they brought the burgers out with the same fanfare reserved for birthdays at chain restaurants. People looked at us like we were nuts. I thought, "Okay, seriously? Come on now, it's a spicy burger. Everybody relax."

I decided to start by dipping a french fry in their "lava sauce," which also apparently contains ghost peppers. THIS WAS A BIG MISTAKE. The moment it hit my mouth, I could tell that this was no ordinary kind of spicy. You know how, when you're eating spicy food, the heat seems to accumulate over time? Well, there was no "time" involved here. This was an entire Thai-green-curry-with-the-"hot"-option-reaction condensed into a single second.

And it got worse from there. My eyes started to water uncontrollably as I tried to remain calm. My lips were on fire, but my mouth and head weren't - instead, they were on something beyond fire; it was like they had been transported to some kind of unholy realm of torture where someone was inserting power saw blades into my skull.

And it wasn't just my facial region feeling the wrath, my stomach was a helpless victim as well.

Stomach: I'm hungry, isn't it dinner time?
Stomach: Okay, great, here comes something.
Stomach: Whoopee, it's a french fry. Can't you do better than that? Wait, it's covered in some kind of sauce that -

And mind you, I hadn't even started eating the burger yet. Through my haze of agony I could barely make out some kid at a nearby table egging us on, saying things like "C'mon, it's like Man Vs. Food!" I figured, okay, I have to at least take one bite of this thing. THIS WAS A BIG MISTAKE.

After a tiny bite, I was done. The pain and nausea increased exponentially until I was in a Homer-Simpson-Guatemalan-Insanity-Pepper-like state of psychosis. All I could do was sit there, staring into space, as my intestines quickly shriveled up and turned into dust. The kid at the nearby table was now saying things like "blrkjkg alijoit ghlkj ahiogh," or at least that's what it sounded like to me.

And it wasn't over. After feeling like I had recovered somewhat, more waves of pain ensued. This evil cycle continued for about an hour afterwards before I was finally confident that I had escaped from the ghost pepper dungeon.

So yeah, they weren't kidding about the waiver.

Once coherency had returned, I did some research and found out that the ghost pepper, or Naga Bhut Jolokia, is roughly TWO HUNDRED TIMES hotter than Tabasco sauce. And that it can be used as a weapon. Well, duh.

I thought I could handle spicy foods. Turns out I had absolutely no idea.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Flow

This past Saturday I woke up in the Flow. Basically speaking, Flow is the state of mind where you are fully immersed in what you are doing, to the exclusion of the outside world. There's been a lot of research and discussion on this topic, which I won't go into simply because I'm too lazy and it's already well-documented in this Wikipedia entry.

Anyway, I got out of bed way earlier than I intended to because there was a melody swimming in my head. I rushed over to my guitar and searched for a chord progression that would fit under that melody. Once I found it, a chorus immediately suggested itself and I started working on that. To my dismay, after I nailed down the chorus, I found that I had forgotten the original melody that inspired the whole thing to begin with (when this happens, I try to make myself feel better by saying, "If I can't remember it, it must not have been that good in the first place.")

So I came up with a new verse melody, and "Sad & Glamorous" was born. Being still in the Flow, I finished up another song that I had been working on (using some riffs from Dan), and that became "Burn." It felt like only a few minutes had gone by, but after I was done, I realized that a couple of hours had passed and I hadn't eaten breakfast or taken a shower or done any of the other stuff that I usually do when I get up. We ended up practicing both songs that afternoon and playing Sad & Glamorous at a show that night.

I love being in the Flow. Mostly it's a state that just occurs randomly, and the conventional wisdom is that it cannot be forced. But I think that as far as creative endeavors are concerned, you can prime yourself for possible Flow entry by simply staying creative - write or play anything, no matter how silly or stream-of-consciousness it may be. Write aimless blog entries about what you did on Saturday morning. Read books and listen to music to gain inspiration. I had spent time the night before thinking about plot details for Book Two, and I believe that doing so led directly to my Saturday Flow experience.

Just don't forget to shower before you head out the door.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Book Two Status Update

A few people have already expressed their desire for the second book in the Spectraland series. Which is great! I'm really glad that they found Book One to be captivating enough that they want to know what's next in store for Joel and company.

I must confess, though (I seem to do a lot of confessing on this blog)...Book Two isn't anywhere close to being done yet. Rest assured, I am hard at work on it. Really, I am.

As of this moment, I'm pretty sure that I've settled on a title. I had a working title that I didn't care for, but this past week I came up with something that I like a lot more. I won't reveal it yet as it still may change, but once it's set in stone, you, my faithful blog readers, will be the first to know (HINT: it's similar to the title of Book One in certain ways. And it has something to do with Spectraland's astrology. You'll never figure it out. You'll just have to keep reading this blog for more hints.)

But aha, I don't just have a title! I'm also waist-deep in developing the detailed outline. It's a really fun process. No, seriously, it is! I'm not being sarcastic this time. Stephen King compared the writing process to archaeology, where the writer is simply uncovering a pre-existing world as opposed to creating something from scratch. Not to say that I'm in the same league as Mr. King (and I plot in advance while he, as I understand it, does not) but there are definitely times that I feel like I'm doing just that. The same goes for songwriting, by the way. I think Sting may have said something on that how we're just radio transmitters for these great songs that are floating around. Was that Sting? I can't remember. (If you know, please tell me in the comments. It's driving me crazy.)

Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, the outline. I have the broad story arc sketched out, and the details of about five chapters are pretty much solid. That is, until something happens in chapter six that will require me to re-shuffle everything that happened before that. Sometimes writing feels like archaeology, where what you've uncovered is a puzzle with many moving parts that change the very nature of what you have as you dig it up. It''s a pot! No, it's a spear! Wait, no, no, it', it's a pot again! But this time with four handles instead of two!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bookingly Yours

I wrote a guest post for the award-winning book review blog Bookingly Yours. Drop whatever you're doing and check it out.