Thursday, December 29, 2016

2017: Stuff I'm Looking Forward To

2017 seems to be shaping up as a pretty big year in terms of fun stuff - movies, TV shows, video games, etc. - coming out. The big question is, with all of this stuff, how will I ever get anything done? We shall see.

Movies that I plan on watching and writing about in future Movie Roundup posts:
- Wonder Woman. Yes, I will give it a chance. Don't let me down again, DC.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Because, Marvel movie.
- Spider-Man: Homecoming. Because, Marvel movie and it's Spider-Man.
- Logan. Because, an R-rated Wolverine film? Finally
- Thor: Ragnarok. Because I think I may be the only person on the planet who liked The Dark World better than the first one.
- Power Rangers. Will this be anything like the gritty 2015 short film? I'm guessing no.
- Justice League. Assuming Wonder Woman is at least ok. Oh who I am kidding, I'll probably see it anyway.
- The Lego Batman Movie
- Despicable Me 3
- Kingsman: The Golden Circle
- And, of course, some little flick that doesn't even have an official title yet known only as "Star Wars: Episode VIII."

TV shows that I will clear time in my schedule for because I don't have a DVR:
- Doctor Who. The new Christmas special was silly and fun. It's cool that they're keeping Nardole around.
- The Magicians. Oh man, I cannot wait for this. Is it January yet?
- Miraculous Ladybug. Assuming they actually show it in the U.S. Comcast, why did you take this off of your On-Demand list? It's your best show
- Legion. Maybe. I'll watch the first one and see if it hooks me.

Video games that my daughter will watch me play while she creates her amazing artwork:
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Duh. I've only been talking about this for a few years now.

Assuming that I'll be able to get anything done amidst all of this fun stuff (and I will, I promise), there is also a little something coming out in March or April called Legend of the Loudstone. Stay tuned for the Big Announcement.

P.S. "Rejoice for those around you who have transformed into the Force." - Yoda

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Movie Roundup: Holiday Edition (Feat. Rogue One)

I can't believe I'm writing this post, because it means that the year is almost done. Time goes by so quickly that I guess we must be having a lot of fun, right? Fun = a partially-functioning TARDIS that only sends you forward in time. Anyway, I'm getting off track here. Welcome to the holiday edition of Movie Roundup! If you've been here for previous Roundups, you know that (1) these are not really reviews, they're just my random thoughts about movies I've seen, and (2) there will be massive, massive spoilers. So if this is your first Roundup, consider yourself warned.

Doctor Strange
I was really excited to see this movie for some reason, despite the fact that I was never a huge fan of the character in the comic books. Although, I have been enjoying the iteration of Stephen Strange in the Ultimate Spider-Man series, and the previews looked amazing. So did I like it? Yeah, I guess I did. The effects were pretty mind-blowing, although the story itself was kind of meh. The way he defeated Dormammu in the end was cool, although it reminded me a bit of another Doctor and how he broke out of the Confession Dial prison last season (a fantastic episode).

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
My first impression of this film after I watched it was "you know, I liked that more than I thought I would." I guess I didn't really know what to expect going in. Does anyone else think that Newt Scamander is on the spectrum? Oh, and Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald - no thanks. Not sure why they didn't just get Jamie Campbell Bower to do it. Maybe they felt like they needed some kind of flashy hire, like the Los Angeles Rams trying to lure Jon Gruden out of the announcer booth?

The Jungle Book
I wanted to see this one because they apparently filmed the whole thing in a Los Angeles sound stage and created the entire jungle environment with CGI. My thinking was that "hey, if that approach works for this movie, then they could do that for the Spectraland movies as well." So did it work? I thought so. It also helped that this was just a great, well-done story (yes, the original source material is terrific, but modern reboots can sometimes muck up old classics). I think I actually enjoyed this one more than the first two movies in this Roundup.

Rogue One
And that brings us to our headliner. This is a movie for Star Wars fans. If you're not a fan, you will probably be bored and confused. If you are a fan, then let me tell you, you are in for two hours and thirteen minutes of sheer bliss (in case you're wondering, I fall into the latter category). It's like the best Star Wars fan film ever made, which makes sense when you consider that the director is a fanboy himself and he had a gazillion-dollar budget to work with.

Bullet point thoughts:

- I had heard bad things about the Tarkin and Leia reconstructions going in, but I thought they were fine.
- Vader's gait was kind of a feminine sashay, don't you think? His boarding scene at the end was awesome, though. Wow.
- I have to admit, Chirrut Imwe's mantra started to become a little annoying after a while.
- I love love love how they made the Death Star flaw into an actual thing. You know what I mean.
- The music was serviceable, but not memorable.
- Why would Vader and his crew even consider the possibility that the Tantive IV was on a diplomatic mission at the beginning of New Hope? Didn't they see it coming out of the rebel flagship that had just attacked the Imperial facility on Scarif?
- Please, Lucasfilm, don't make it so that Jyn survived and becomes Rey's mother or something like that. I'm begging you.
- I plan on seeing this one again. And again. And again, probably.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Snow Day, Spectrums Magazine, And Book Three Title Announcement!

All of us here at the Brian Tashima Blog are taking a snow day today!
But be sure to come back next week when we'll be doing the special holiday edition of Movie Roundup, including my comments on Rogue One (which I already have IMAX RPX 3-D super ultra mega awesome smellovision tickets for so no amount of snow is going to keep me from seeing it). See you then!

UPDATE: We are featured in the hot-off-the-presses current issue of Spectrums Magazine! Check it out here. We're on page 18, but the whole issue is worth reading. There will also be print versions distributed throughout the Portland/Vancouver area over the coming days, snow or no snow. Big thanks to Spectrums for the article!

UPDATE #2: I just realized that I made a first-time announcement about Book Three's title in the Spectrums article, so go check it out! A direct link to it is here. Man, this snow day turned out to be pretty eventful!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Status Report!

It's been ten weeks since the last set of status updates, so you've all probably been wondering what's been going on, right? Of course you have! Well, wait no longer...
Book Update: I finished 10,000 words (approximately 40 pages) of Book Four's first draft when I received the Book Three line edit back from my editor, so now I've switched out my writing hat (which I imagine looks sort of like a fedora) for my incorporating-the-edits hat (a Doctor Who-type fez). The cover art process is also underway, so right now we're still on track for the planned launch date of March or April 2017. And as I promised in this post, there will be a big announcement to come.

Also, this coming Saturday I will put on my reading/signing/selling hat (a beanie) for the third annual Holiday Litera-Cheer event at Another Read Through Bookstore in Portland from 1:30-3pm.

Band Update: I'm a big believer in second chances, so if you missed the first CD release party in Vancouver, you can still join us at the Ash Street Saloon in Portland tonight!* Festivities start at 8pm and we will again be playing every song off our second album, Nobody's Hero, in order from beginning to end. Also on the bill are the ever-rockin' Cellar Door and the always fun Kings & Vagabonds.

The writing process for Album Three is well underway. We have ten songs that are basically done music-wise; now I just need to hunker down and crank out some lyrics. It's looking like this record will also be a quasi-concept album (like Nobody's Hero), and this time it'll focus on a female protagonist named Gloria whose prequel story was told back on our first album, Fortress Storm Attack. More on that later.

Video Game Update: While we all anxiously await Breath of the Wild, I've been passing the time with the virtual console versions of Spirit Tracks and (at my daughter's request) Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team. Spirit Tracks is fun and challenging - because it's a Zelda game, duh - but I have to admit that the dungeon I'm on now (Tower of Spirits, Part 6) is so long and difficult that even with a walkthrough, it was starting to feel like work. So I switched over to Blue Rescue Team, which is light and fluffy but gets a bit repetitive after a while. Been eyeing up Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE and wondering if I should plunk down the sixty bucks...

TV Update: Speaking of light and fluffy, I've been pretty good at keeping up with Supergirl, which moved to The CW for its second season. I also started Attack on Titan, which is definitely not light and fluffy (nor young-kid-friendly) by any means. Can't wait for the Doctor Who Christmas special and season two of The Magicians starting next month.

So there you go, Captain. And Mr. Sulu was just kidding about the entire ship being underwater, I promise.

* If Snowmaggedon 2016 doesn't happen, that is

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Release Party Recap

Mahalo to everyone who braved the rain and made it out to Shanahan's last Saturday for Second Player Score's CD release party! I had tons of fun and I hope you did too.
We shared the stage with 100 Proof and The Welkin Dim, both of whom seriously rocked. Always cool to play with other great hometown bands.
Rockradam, my good friend and former Tone Deaf Teens bandmate from Hawaii, made what is now becoming his biennial surprise visit, along with Mr. Jones, another good friend from Hawaii who recently moved to the area. It was awesome to see them.
So in case you missed it, you'll have a second chance next Thursday, December 8th, at Ash Street Saloon in Portland, where we'll be playing with Cellar Door and Kings & Vagabonds. It'll be a great time!

Oh, and then the Saturday after that (the 10th), I'll be putting my author hat back on and appearing at this year's Holiday Litera-Cheer reading & signing at Another Read Through Bookstore in Portland from 1:30-3pm, along with the other brilliant authors listed below. Come and hang out with us, there will be food!
See you all next week!

P.S. On Sunday, Rockradam and I went to eat at the local Cafe Yumm, after which we left to go watch the Seattle-Tampa Bay game. A short while later, this happened. So even though that was a dismal performance by the Seahawks in the actual game, at least they saved us from getting smooshed. Thanks guys!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thank You! Plus, CD Release Party

Today I would like to give thanks to all of you who have supported Autism Empowerment and The Spectraland Saga. Whether you're a newcomer to the cause or have been with us since day one, believe me when I say that your efforts, contributions, purchases, and fandom have been and will continue to be greatly and sincerely appreciated.
Anyway, regardless of what you're doing today (eating turkey? watching football? both?) and tomorrow (waking up early to buy socks?), come on down to Shanahan's in beautiful and suddenly trendy downtown Vancouver, WA this Saturday night and help celebrate the release of Second Player Score's second album, Nobody's Hero.

We'll be playing the album in its entirely and in order from beginning to end, and I'll be talking about the concept behind the songs, so it'll be kind of like VH1's Storytellers. The festivities begin at 9pm, and two other awesome bands - 100 Proof and The Welkin Dim - will also be performing. It'll be tons of fun (and you can work off some calories by jumping around), so hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Post That Is Sort Of About Football, Mid-Season Edition

Two months ago, I wrote a blog post called A Post That Is Sort Of About Football in which I gave my one-line thoughts about each NFL team following the first game of the season. Now that the season has reached the halfway mark (or gone a little past it, actually, but who's counting), I thought it'd be fun to revisit this subject and see just how much jinxing power I actually possess.
Arizona Cardinals: two months ago, I said that they've become "annoyingly good." Since then, they've gone 4-4-1 and traded missed winning field goals with the Seahawks. Jinxed?

Atlanta Falcons: I said nothing jinx-worthy, and now they are 6-4 and in first place in their division.

Baltimore Ravens: please beat the Cowboys this weekend (check back in January to see what kind of effect this statement had.)

Buffalo Bills: as promised, for one week I hated them with a burning passion. Their quarterback is a lot better than I thought.

Carolina Panthers: they play the Seahawks next month, so I think I will keep my mouth shut.

Chicago Bears: like I said last time, they were fun in the '80s.

Cincinnati Bengals: I said nothing jinx-worthy, and now they are 3-5-1 and in third place in their division. Hmm.

Cleveland Browns: hey, at least your baseball team reached the World Series, something the Mariners have yet to do.

Dallas Cowboys: last time I said "Now they're like an ex, where you just peripherally take notice of stuff they're up to but you try not to get too involved and when you see they're having problems you just kind of think 'man, am I glad I don't have to deal with that drama anymore." Well, now the ex has gotten a new makeover and/or a fancy car and suddenly looks way hotter than you remember them.

Denver Broncos: I took a little swipe at them last time, thanking them for Super Bowl XLVIII. Good thing they don't play the Seahawks in the regular season.

Detroit Lions: it's almost Thanksgiving and these guys are tied for first place in their division. What?

Green Bay Packers: two months ago, I said "Stop being so cool. And so good." And then they listened to me. Jinxed?

Houston Texans: I said nothing jinx-worthy, and now they are 6-3 and in first place in their division.

Indianapolis Colts: at 4-5, I'm not sure I'll get a chance to abhor them with the fury of a thousand suns.

Jacksonville Jaguars: maybe they'll fire Gus Bradley and then he can come back to the Seahawks?

Kansas City Chiefs: I guess loud stadiums pay off.

Los Angeles Rams: two months ago, I said "Unlike the Cardinals, they are not annoyingly good, but they are annoyingly good at beating the Seahawks for some reason." Since then, they've amassed a losing record while beating the Seahawks along the way. I'm not sure if that's a jinx or not.

Miami Dolphins: have made a nice recovery since week one. Good job, fish.

Minnesota Vikings: started off hot, cooled down a lot recently. Maybe they're following the Minnesota weather?

New England Patriots: No comment.

New Orleans Saints: I zinged them last time, teasing them about losing at home to the Raiders. Then they went out and beat the Seahawks. That's a total jinx. On me, not them.

New York Giants: I said nothing jinx-worthy, and now they are 6-3, in second place in their division, and just a half-game behind the Seahawks' record.

New York Jets: I said nothing jinx-worthy, and now...never mind.

Oakland Raiders: I zinged them indirectly by teasing the Saints about losing at home to them. Now they are 7-2 and tied for first place in their division.

Philadelphia Eagles: they play the Seahawks this coming Sunday, so I think I will keep my mouth shut.

Pittsburgh Steelers: you just couldn't beat the ex, I mean, the Cowboys, could you. Dangit.

San Diego Chargers: I still like your powder blue uniforms.

San Francisco 49ers: eeeyeah.

Seattle Seahawks: No comment.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: see "Carolina Panthers" above.

Tennessee Titans: even though Marcus Mariota, a Hawaii native, is their quarterback, this is the one team that always seems to elude my mind for some reason whenever I'm doing a Joel Suzuki and thinking up a list of AFC teams in my head.

Washington Redskins: I said nothing jinx-worthy, and now they are 5-3-1 but in third place in their division. I think the conclusion here is that my jinxing powers are probably more confirmation bias than anything else. Still, though, I will stick by my "no comment" statements above, just in case. Go Hawks!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Joel and Felicity: A Portrait

If you follow The Spectraland Saga's Facebook page (and if you don't, you totally should, it's fun) then you've probably seen this already. But that's okay, because it's so epically awesome that I just had to talk about it again here.
This is a portrait of Joel and Felicity that my daughter drew for me. It''s so perfect. I don't even really have the words to describe just how incredible it is. So you know what? I'm not gonna even try. I'm just gonna stop talking here and let you bask in its glory. You're welcome.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Album Two Is Here!

Yes, the second album by Second Player Score was officially released on November second, um, I mean, first! It's called Nobody's Hero.
It contains eleven brand new tracks and is available on CDBaby, Amazon, iTunes, or direct from our website if you want an autographed physical copy!

As I may have mentioned before, it's a quasi-concept album that tells the story of...ah, well, why don't I just let our esteemed biographer (who goes by the name of "Suzi" and doubles as my blog editor) tell you all about it! Take it away, Suze...

Thanks Brian! Well, prior to a show that Second Player Score played at a bar in downtown Vancouver, Washington, the bar’s manager — possibly influenced by “Chosen One,” a song off of SPS’s debut album, Fortress Storm Attack — was asked by a patron to characterize the band’s sound. His reply? “Like if Bad Religion wrote songs about video games.” Would that be an accurate description?

“It could be,” Brian Tashima, guitarist/vocalist, says with a chuckle. “But I think it goes a little deeper than that. We don’t actually have songs — besides “Chosen One,” of course — that contain specific references to video games per se, but pop culture as a whole is where a lot of our inspiration comes from, so I guess that description kind of captures the spirit of who we are as people in general.”

Indeed, most of the material on Fortress Storm Attack and the band’s newly-released sophomore album, Nobody’s Hero, does not so much reflect a direct relationship to the topics adored by Comic-Con attendees (of which the band members proudly count themselves as being among) as they do a certain vibe and sensibility that can only come from people who have been steeped in that particular scene since childhood.

For example, while it never explicitly says so, the cover art of Fortress Storm Attack is a direct tribute to the “All your base are belong to us” Internet meme that grew out the 1989 video game Zero Wing. And now, with Nobody’s Hero, the band returns with a quasi-concept album that tells the Dungeons & Dragons-esque story of a man, granted magical powers by an evil spirit, who ends up destroying the world.

“Basically, this guy gets seduced by a female demon who gives him these special abilities, and initially, he tries to help people with them, but then he eventually succumbs to the temptation of using them for selfish and corrupt purposes,” Tashima explains. “Having done that, he becomes worthy of being her consort and siring her child — a daughter who will grow up to continue the cycle. The demon then betrays and abandons him, leaving him for dead. He survives, though, and uses what’s left of his powers to stop her in the only way possible, which is to cause an apocalypse that wipes everyone out, including them. It’s like a Greek tragedy.”

Sounds fun. How did the band come up with such a story?

“It actually sort of wrote itself,” drummer/vocalist Kyle Gilbert says. “We didn’t set out to make a concept album, but as we were developing the songs, the story just appeared. That’s how we tend to do things, for the most part — we don’t plan it, we just go with the flow and take things as they come to us, whatever happens naturally, whatever feels right.”

“We try to plan, but that usually never works out,” bassist/vocalist Daniel Downs adds with a laugh.

The eleven songs on Nobody’s Hero reflect a darker, heavier sound that still manages to retain the anthemic hooks and vocal harmonies that have become the band’s signature. From the crunching riffs and beer bottle-slide solos of the opening track, “Bonestorm,” to the ska-like verses that give way to an epic instrumental finish in the closer, “Comets,” this album showcases the growth of a band that counts not only artists like Bad Religion and Green Day among its influences, but all of geek culture itself. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Mini Movie Roundup: Spectrum Edition

This is not a roundup of mini movies. This is a mini roundup, meaning that I'll be talking about less movies than I usually do in similar posts. And why am I doing that, you ask? Because I felt like it. Also, I really want to talk about The Accountant. And as always, there will be spoilers! (By the way, in case you haven't read my past movie roundups, be aware that these are not really reviews. I leave stuff like that up to the professionals.)

The Accountant
First off: I enjoyed this movie. It was a competent action thriller. I love that the titular protagonist is on the autism spectrum, and that the movie made that fact explicitly clear. It would have been nice if they cast someone who was actually on the spectrum for real, but I understand that a big marquee name is needed to sell a movie like this (and Dan Aykroyd wouldn't really have been right for the part).

The one thing I kept thinking, though, was this: it's cool that we now have an autistic action hero in a big-time mainstream movie, but it's too bad he has to be a morally ambiguous mass-murdering vigilante. I mean, seriously, he was more antihero than hero, like if you gave Batman some assault weapons (yes, Ben Affleck seemed to be channeling one of his other roles a good portion of the time) and injected him with Deadpool DNA, minus the wisecracks. A review that I read afterwards even said "Is the viewing public ready for an action franchise featuring an autistic hero? I hope so. But moviegoers and people with autism alike deserve one better than The Accountant." Hmm, now where could you possibly find something like that, I wonder...?

Now, I'm not saying that Joel Suzuki is necessarily better than Christian Wolff. I just think that they can and should coexist in a world that, in general, needs more characters like them. Morally ambiguous can be interesting in the right context, but Chris Wolff shouldn't be the lone standard-bearer of fictional autistic role models (and, to paraphrase Charles Barkley, he's definitely not a role model in the traditional sense). He can exist in the area of the pop culture landscape that is geared more towards adults (The Accountant is rated R, after all), while Joel can take up residence in the space that is focused on younger audiences as well as other people who appreciate that kind of positive, kid-friendly vibe. Kind of like Neo and Harry Potter - there's room for more than one Chosen One. And so we should thank Mr. Wolff for opening the door, at least.

While we're at it, shouldn't actors that are actually on the spectrum have more opportunities to become big marquee names themselves? One candidate already comes to mind. Just saying.

Life, Animated
This is a nonfiction biopic of a young man on the spectrum whose interest in Disney movies helps him to connect. There are some slow stretches as well as spots that seemed to unintentionally veer toward condescension, but overall, I found it to be a moving and inspiring film that shows how we are all alike in many ways.

Alice Through the Looking Glass
I finally got around to seeing this one, and it goes with today's theme because Lewis Carroll, the author of the Alice in Wonderland books, is rumored to have been on the spectrum.

Okay, so this movie wasn't as good as the first one. Still, I didn't think it was as bad as a lot of critics were saying (it did get a 6.3 on IMDb, after all). The visuals were spectacular, I like how they handled the time travel aspect, and they managed to fit in some semi-touching moments of character development. I do have to admit that Borat as Time was kind of distracting, though.

And so that wraps up this edition of Movie Roundup. As previously promised, the next one should include Doctor Strange, Rogue One, Fantastic Beasts, and whatever else happens to make its way into my viewing rotation. Now go see The Accountant!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

I Can Hack You Back In Time, Just Like A Time Machine

One of the neat things about having a blog like this, or a journal, or a diary, or whatever, is that it can help you travel though time. I mean, not literally, of course, but if you've been doing it long enough (writing a blog, not time travel), you can go back and see what it is you were thinking and/or doing at this same time a year or more ago. So strap on your Power Gloves, my friends, and take a journey with me. It's hacking time!
October 22, 2015
"Book Two Cover Unveiled!"
Man, has it been a year already? In this post, I officially revealed the cover art for Mystery of the Moonfire along with the back cover copy. It was the culmination of a long and awesome journey that, at times, seemed like it would never end. And now I'm almost ready to do a similar announcement for Book Three!

October 23, 2014
"Believe Me, I Am Still Working On Book Two"
Speaking of a long journey, if you go back another year, you will see that I was still wandering in the proverbial darkness with regards to writing Book Two. Pretty hilarious, right? And by the way, that Kikada reboot movie was disappointingly terrible.

October 24, 2013
"Quick Hits"
I was still talking about Book Two here, saying that it was "making progress." Ha! I also just bought my awesome Hylian Shield and Master Sword, which I have yet to proudly hang up on my wall since I've been too bulazy (busy + lazy) to drill the requisite holes and such. Yes, that's three years and counting now. I also mentioned that Second Player Score's first album was coming out soon, and now we're about to release our second one!* So maybe by album four or so I'll finally get around to mounting my Zelda gear in a place of honor where it belongs. We shall see.

October 22, 2012
"Monday Awesomeness Alert and Book Two Status Update"
Wow, I was posting on a Monday back then! And I was still talking about Book Two, bahaha, saying that it was "coming along." At the time, I was at 4000 words. How cute. Heck, I'm over 4000 words on Book Four already! Which I guess makes this post a Book Four Status Update? Hmmm...sure, why not.

* Speaking of which, be sure to tune into Neue Regel Radio next Tuesday at 10am Pacific, when I'll be doing a live interview to talk about said album!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Liveblogging With Felicity: The Freemaker Adventures

It dawned on me the other day that Felicity and I haven't done a liveblog of a TV show episode in a long time - in fact, the last one was in January of 2015. There's been some good TV going on since then, including the Miraculous Ladybug show I talked about a couple of weeks ago and something called LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures. Both shows wrapped up their first seasons already (I think the latter is a one-season only deal), so I figured that it was safe to do a liveblog post without worrying about spoilers. So, here we go!
B: Freemaker or Ladybug?
F: Let's do Freemaker
B: Ok. Which episode
F: I already made one decision. Your turn
B: All right, let's do "Return of the Kyber Saber"
F: Isn't that the last one
B: Yeah
F: That's dumb
B: Well you said for me to decide
F: Yeah but make a smart decision
B: Why is watching the last one dumb
F: Because that spoils it for everyone who hasn't watched the show yet
B: But the season ended in August. Everyone should be caught up by now
F: You didn't start watching Ladybug until it was over for a while
B: Touche. How about the first one then
F: There ya go. Fire it up
B: The Emperor saying "meh" is the highlight of this whole deal
F: "Nobody could have anticipated that"
B: Too funny. You know that they were originally gonna use Luke's lightsaber for this, right? But then the movie people were like, um, no you can't do that. So they had to change it to the Kyber Saber
F: Ur such a nerd
B: I know
F: Why does Zander have to say "ah, the Wheel." I mean, they all live there. THEY KNOW WHAT IT'S CALLED
B: These characters are endearing because they have real life problems, like not having enough money to pay the rent. Speaking of which, you still owe me for last month
F: And you still haven't fixed the bathroom sink
B: Making a repurposed battle droid their droid assistant and calling him "Roger" is a stroke of pure genius
F: I had that idea years ago
B: No you didn't
F: I'll bet you last month's rent I did
B: I wonder what bantha milk tastes like
F: Is it blue?
B: Hmm good question
F: Not even 10 minutes in and someone has already said the line
B: "I have a bad feeling about this"
F: Where were dianogas from again?
B: The trash compactor on the first Death Star
F: Oh yeah. NERRRD
B: Hey, you asked
F: "Imperial inspector OU812"
B: I know, too funny. And her picture
F: Ya
B: The Kyber Saber is sort of Songshell-ish
F: Sort of what?
B: Never mind
F: I have paid my rent in full
B: I see what you're doing there
F: Was worth a shot
B: All right, well that's it. Good stuff. Ladybug next time?
F: Sure why not. Just don't wait another two years or whatever

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Big Announcement Teaser

Ever had an idea pop into your head but then you were like, "eh, I'll think about it some more" and then you just put it aside and forget about it for a while? And then every so often, something happens that reminds you of that idea, so you explore it a little further, maybe even going so far as to write it down?
Then, as time goes by, more and more stuff happens that start to make you think "hey, you know, maybe this is a pretty good idea after all." So you write a list of all the pros and cons of what would happen if you actually acted on this idea. At first, there seem to be more cons, so you say "okay, never mind," and you stop. But then even more stuff happens and the pros start to pile up. It's almost as if the Aura or the universe or whatever is trying to push you in the direction of this idea.

Eventually, it gets to the point where you're like, "okay, yeah, this is a good idea, and I would totally do it, if only I could get past this one last issue that's bugging the heck out of me." That one last issue sticks around for a while until finally, on a day that seems to have been uncannily predestined, you wake up and think about the idea because the Mariners have been eliminated from postseason contention and you have nothing particularly better to occupy your brain with while you take a shower and then -

It just hits you. Like a puzzle piece falling into place in your head.

So then you're like "OMG" and you can't wait to get out of the shower and after another minute you can't stand it anymore so you cut the shower short and race down to your computer wearing only a towel and your cats are like "what are you doing, man??" and you write down the idea and you think "now why didn't I come up with this before?"

Well, that whole scenario happened to me. And the result will be a huge change to something that you all read about in this blog from time to time and I hope that you will love it, because I do. I have a few ducks to line up before I can announce it, so keep watching this space...

P.S. I'll be at the Portland Home and Garden Show tomorrow (Friday 10/7) from 6-8pm, signing books and hanging out with my buddies from the Northwest Independent Writers Association. If you come down and catch me in the right mood, I might tell you more about the big change!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

All Kinds Of Updates

Lots going on, so let's get to it!

Album Two Update: IT IS DONE. I have CDs in my hands as we speak. The official release date is November 1st, but you can get the lead single "Head Of Sin" on iTunes as part of a pre-order starting October 4th. You can also hear some advance tracks at our website and on Neue Regel Radio every Tuesday at 10am Pacific until the album's release. Stay tuned for an announcement about the CD release parties!

Book Three Update: The revisions that I was talking to Joel about last month are done. Now I'm just doing some pre-final proofing, and then it's off to my editor for a line edit. Getting excited...

TV Update: My daughter turned me on to a great new (or relatively new, anyway) series called Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir, or Miraculous Ladybug for short. Yeah, it's a cute kids' show, but that's what we do around here! It may be geared toward a younger audience, but the writing is smart and sharp, the characters are completely charming, and they do the whole "villain-of-the-week" thing that was a staple of my favorite tokusatsu shows like Kikaida and Kamen Rider.
The two leads, Ladybug and Cat Noir, are high school students by day and secret identity superheroes by...well, still mostly day, and they have huge crushes on each other. Only, she likes him when they're regular kids, he likes her when they're in costume, and neither knows about each other's identities (even though it's so totally obvious). Doesn't that sound like fun already? And the theme song is great as well. I binge-watched the entire 26-episode first season with my daughter, and immediately thereafter I filed the whole thing in my "I wish I had created this" bucket. I can't wait for the Halloween special, the Christmas special, and season two next year.

Video Game Update: Anxiously awaiting Breath of the Wild. In the meantime, I took my kids to the Legend of Zelda Symphony concert a couple of weeks ago, which was ZOMGAMAZING

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Give More 24!

Yes, it's that time of year again - the time when you have an opportunity to make a positive difference in the autism community! Of course, every day of every year is a chance to do something cool, but today is extra special because it's Give More 24, southwest Washington's largest day of giving.
Organized by the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, Give More 24 is the one day when everyone in the region and beyond shows their generosity by donating online to their favorite nonprofit organization. And the favorite around here is, of course, none other than Autism Empowerment.

Our goal is to raise $10,000. If we do that, we will unlock a $5000 match from the Community Foundation! So please, before midnight tonight (Pacific time), go to this link and make a donation. Even the minimum $10 will help. And remember, besides the fact that all donations are 100% tax deductible, giving just feels good! Trust me on this. I donate a portion of all profits from The Spectraland Saga to Autism Empowerment, and I will also be giving today, as well.

Thanks for your support!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Post That Is Sort Of About Football

It's football season again! As I've said before, I know that having an emotional investment in spectator sports is basically silly - I mean, there are much more important things to get worked up about, like these questions, for example. But again, it's fun, and that's sort of the whole purpose.
The Seahawks won their season opener in major heart-attack fashion, but I won't be doing a game recap or an analysis or anything like that - there are a lot of other good places you can go for that sort of thing. Instead, I thought I'd share with you a random train of thought I had on Sunday night when the Patriots-Cardinals game was on, which was: what are my feelings towards the other thirty-one teams in the league?

I know that sounds kind of weird, but it was sparked off by my wondering "which of these two teams do I detest more?" The answers to that question and the other question I posed above are now presented to you here as a public service to those who actually care about the strange things that go on in my head (which is sort of why you're reading this blog in the first place, right?)

Oh, and if I happen to diss your favorite team (do people still say "diss"?), just remember that this is all in good fun and that I still love you as a person. We are all in this together.

Arizona Cardinals: I only dislike this team because they're in the same division as the Seahawks and have become annoyingly good.

Atlanta Falcons: I kinda like their old logo better. The one they have now makes the falcon's wings look like legs.

Baltimore Ravens: Cleveland is a town known for its sports-related suffering. I can only imagine what they must have been thinking after the Browns left, became the Ravens, and then won the Super Bowl.

Buffalo Bills: don't really care, other than the fact that they're on the Seahawks' schedule this year. So for one week, I will hate them with a burning passion.

Carolina Panthers: the Seahawks are playing them again? Sheesh.

Chicago Bears: they were fun in the '80s.

Cincinnati Bengals: I like their helmets. Much better than the old ones that had "BENGALS" written across the sides.

Cleveland Browns: see "Baltimore Ravens" above. Hey, at least the Cavs won the NBA championship.

Dallas Cowboys: they were my favorite team when I was growing up in Hawaii, mainly because (a) Hawaii has no professional football team, and (b) all the local TV stations showed either Cowboys games or 49ers games (or both). I even have Aikman and Smith jerseys stashed away somewhere. But then I moved to the Pacific Northwest and the Cowboys started doing some strange things with Bill Parcells and whatnot, so I sort of broke up with them. Now they're like an ex, where you just peripherally take notice of stuff they're up to but you try not to get too involved and when you see they're having problems you just kind of think "man, am I glad I don't have to deal with that drama anymore."

Denver Broncos: thank you for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Detroit Lions: this team makes me think of Thanksgiving, which makes me hungry.

Green Bay Packers: I love how this is a fan-owned team. They are very cool. Stop being so cool. And so good. You already have nine NFL titles and four Super Bowl wins. Heck, the Super Bowl trophy is named after one of your coaches. Stop it. Let someone else have a chance. Still, I can't hate you because you are so cool. Unlike some other really good teams that I will talk about later.

Houston Texans: I love how they named their team the "Texans" in an effort to try and prevent another relocation like that of the Oilers. News flash, guys - if the team moves, they will just change the name.

Indianapolis Colts: I like this team for some strange reason. Except, of course, when they're playing the Seahawks, which isn't scheduled to happen this year, unless they meet in the Super Bowl in which case I will abhor them with the fury of a thousand suns

Jacksonville Jaguars: what is with the two-tone helmets, you guys? Seriously.

Kansas City Chiefs: okay, your stadium is loud. Fine. Whatever.

Los Angeles Rams: another team that I only dislike because they're in the same division as the Seahawks. Unlike the Cardinals, they are not annoyingly good, but they are annoyingly good at beating the Seahawks for some reason.

Miami Dolphins: yes, Sunday sucked. I know.

Minnesota Vikings: it looks really cold there in the winter.

New England Patriots: okay, this is probably - no, definitely - the team that I detest the most. Not only do they win everything in sight no matter who is on their roster, but they won the Super Bowl-who-will-not-be-named, they're proven cheaters (that link is just one example), and Tom Brady is just plain irritating. But despite all of that, I found myself rooting for them to win on Sunday night because the Cardinals are in the same division as the Seahawks and man is professional football silly or what.

New Orleans Saints: see "Indianapolis Colts" above, but replace "Super Bowl" with "NFC playoffs." Which, if you're gonna lose at home to the Raiders, is probably not gonna happen this season ZING

New York Giants: I've always wanted to visit New York. Looks like a fun place.

New York Jets: I've always wanted to visit New York. Looks like a fun place.

Oakland Raiders: sort of cool because when you watch A's games, the football markings are still on the field. And their fans in the south end zone (the "Black Hole") have awesome costumes.

Philadelphia Eagles: I like their uniforms. They were always pretty cool with the green and the wings on the helmet and whatnot. Apparently their fans hate Santa Claus, which is funny.

Pittsburgh Steelers: probably my second least-favorite team, next to the Patriots. They used to beat up on the Cowboys when I lived in Hawaii, they (and the refs) beat the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL, and they're just annoying in general. Still, I will root for them to beat NFC teams, like the Redskins on Monday night. Football is so weird

San Diego Chargers: I dig those powder blue uniforms.

San Francisco 49ers: okay, I dislike this team because they're division rivals of the Seahawks, but also because they were the "other" team in Hawaii when I was growing up (see "Dallas Cowboys" above). The highlight of Frank Clark making that catch in the end zone still makes me groan to this day. I love San Francisco, the town, but I hate San Francisco, the football team.

Seattle Seahawks: at first, I became enamored with this team because I after I relocated, they were the only thing that local TV showed on Sundays. But then, after Pete Carroll was hired (which, I will admit, I was skeptical about) and Russell Wilson became the starter at quarterback, I really began to buy into the whole "positive thinking" approach that they and the team adopted. I'm sort of a pessimist by nature (exacerbated by my fandom of the neighboring Seattle Mariners), but I noticed that the whole never-say-die attitude seemed to be paying off for the team in improbable last-minute victories (like this past Sunday), so I got a little inspired by that. I'm not a bandwagon fan, though, because I lived though the whole early 2000s deal with Super Bowl XL and the rest of that stuff (see "Pittsburgh Steelers," above.)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I love their uniforms, both old and new. I mean, c'mon, that Creamsicle orange was epic.

Tennessee Titans: um...yay, Marcus Mariota? I guess that's what I'm supposed to say, being from Hawaii and all.

Washington Redskins: nickname issues aside, I feel predisposed to dislike this team because of their rivalry with the Cowboys and how annoying their owner appears to be. Although, I've never actually met him, so I wouldn't really know. Just like how you shouldn't idolize people that you've never met (Joel, I'm talking about Marshall Byle here), you shouldn't demonize them either, unless it's really totally obvious that they're a complete jerk because the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle and this is getting way too heavy for a post about football so I'll just stop here. Go Hawks!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

What I Did On My Vacation

You may recall that a few years ago, I went to Spectraland for my summer vacation. This year, I went to a similar location - a little tropical island known as O'ahu - to attend a friend's wedding.
Now, I'm originally from O'ahu, but it had been several years since I went back, so it look a little while for me to get adjusted to the heat and the humidity. I mean, it was hot in the Vancouver/Portland area when I left, but it was a dry heat - the moment I got off the plane in O'ahu I immediately felt like I needed to take shower.

Aside from that, however, it was great to be there, primarily for the three Fs: family, friends, and food. Man, I ate so much. The funny thing is, I don't know if it's being in vacation mode or if it has something to do with the fact that I'm from there, but whenever I go back I find that I can eat mounds of stuff that ordinarily would place me in an instant food coma and then feel totally fine afterwards.
And this is just the appetizer
The wedding was on the beach at the North Shore and it was as beautiful as you can imagine. I danced continuously for about an hour even though I can't dance. It was awesome. I also learned how to fly a drone (thank you, video game training) and drive a two-seater with dual manual/automatic transmission. Yup, my rental car was a convertible sports car. I originally signed up for something small and cheap, but when I got there they had run out of those kinds of cars, so the rental agent was like, "well, we have...this. Is that okay?" I didn't cost me extra, so I said sure. It was fun just sitting in the parking lot putting the top up and down. It was like having my own actual Transformer.

The rest of my time there was spent mostly relaxing, checking out a friend's band, catching up with people, and eating. Did I mention eating?
Much mahalos go out to Flyin' Lanaian and Neko Sixx for allowing me to crash at their place, and to everyone else I was able to hang out with. It was a way-too-short trip. Hopefully I can stay longer the next time.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Movie Roundup: End of Summer Edition

And so we come to the end of another summer movie season. Where did the time go? Into some kind of Madeleine L'Engle-inspired tesseract, apparently, whose sole purpose is to ensure that I notice a movie out on DVD/Blu-Ray that makes me say "Wasn't that just in theaters, like, a week ago?"

As always, these are not really reviews - I just riff randomly about films that I've watched. And besides, I don't think that one can actually say whether a movie is "good" or "bad," you can just say whether you liked it or not. "Good" or "bad" are totally subjective adjectives when it comes to art. Unless, of course, you're talking about this. So here we go, and watch out for the spoilers...

The Secret Life of Pets
I think this movie threw me off by casting Louis C.K. as Max, the lead character. I kept expecting him to break into some kind of angsty, profane rant, but, of course, this being a kids' film, he never did. I'm a big Louis C.K. fan, and that might actually have led to my enjoying this movie a little less than I expected. I liked him better as The Horrifyingly Sweaty One-Armed Monstrosity in Gravity Falls.

Dug the casting. The movie itself? Not so much. I caught myself giving it courtesy laughs and then thinking, "Wait, no one actually cares if I'm really laughing at these jokes or not. Unless there's some kind of secret audience-monitor-camera recording our reactions that will determine whether or not the sequel gets greenlighted. In which case, you're welcome, Mr. Feig."

Star Trek Beyond
I loved this movie. Loved it loved it loved it. Did I mention that I loved this movie? And no, I am not being sarcastic. Why do you think I'm always being sarcastic? I guess it's kind of hard to discern sarcasm without context and/or body language, which is why there are so many misunderstandings with electronic communication and people need to resort to emojis and whatnot. Having a couple of novels under my belt, I try to think of myself as a writer, someone who can communicate these sorts of things effectively without using that kind of stuff, but, well, I guess nobody's perfect. Anyway, I loved this movie. Go see it. :)

Suicide Squad
Remember when I said that I didn't hate Batman v Superman as much as everyone else seemed to? And you all probably thought I was some kind of softie who doesn't like to say anything really negative in his blog and if I do, my blog editor (an imaginary friend that we will call "Suzi," just because) will censor it, because after all, I have copped, numerous times, to not hating the Star Wars prequels? Well...this movie...I have to say that I [censored, too negative. -- love, Suzi. xoxo]

Kubo and the Two Strings
I probably went into this one with my expectations set way too high. I mean, it got a great percentage rating on Rotten Tomatoes, like 9999.99% or whatever, but then I realized that that rating just basically indicates the proportion of reviewers that said they didn't exactly hate it, which means that if you make something that is generally pleasing across the board and doesn't really hack too many people off, you stand a pretty good chance of getting a solid score on the good ol' tomatometer (many fun ways to pronounce that word).

Anyhoo, I think that some of my disillusionment with this one is my own fault, because of my authorish background. I found myself saying the characters' lines in my head before they said them, and (correctly) predicting exactly what was going to happen next. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Seriously! It's more know, after you take an advertising class in college and then you can never watch TV commercials the same way again. Or, I dunno, okay, maybe it's not really like that, but you know what I mean, right?

Anyhoo, it was a good movie, and I loved the magical musical instrument aspect of it, and please go see it many times and buy multiple copies of the Blu-Ray when it comes out and give them to all your friends, because I really want this movie to succeed so that it paves the way for a film adaptation of the Spectraland Saga. Think of it as a personal favor to me. Mahalo.

And with that, summer officially comes to an end. Coming up in future roundups: Doctor Strange, Rogue One, Fantastic Beasts, and all the movies I didn't have a chance to fit into my schedule but will undoubtedly be showing up on DVD/Blu-Ray within what feels like the next 48 hours or so. Thanks, Madeleine L'Engle.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Book Three Status Update: A Scene

BRIAN walks into the family room, where JOEL is sitting in front of a computer, paying full attention to the monitor screen.

     BRIAN: Hey Joel - guess what?

     JOEL (not looking up): What?

     BRIAN: I got the draft of Book Three back from my editor last Friday!

     JOEL (still not looking up): Oh, um, cool...wait, what's Book Three?

     BRIAN (hesitant): It's, uh...never mind. (He recovers his composure.) Anyway, the good news is that she had a lot of great suggestions, but overall, it's not really gonna take me too long to incorporate them. So after this round of revisions, it should be ready to move into the final edit stage, and then it'll be good to go.

     JOEL: Okay.

     BRIAN: Yeah, I'm pretty excited. I had originally planned for a 2017 release, but now I'm wondering if I should move it up...

     JOEL: To 2016?

     BRIAN: Yeah. I dunno, probably not though...we'll see. Early 2017 maybe. There are some other things I have going on as well that may require extra time to put together. Either way, I'm just really happy to be at this point in the process.

     JOEL: Great. Congratulations.

     BRIAN: Thanks. Besides, I really want to get it out before the new Zelda game is released, since I know that'll take up a bunch of my time.

     JOEL: Yeah, me too.

     BRIAN (leaning in): So what're you playing there?

     JOEL: Just some game I made.

     BRIAN: You made that? Wow, that's pretty cool. It looks kinda familiar...what is it?

     JOEL: It's called "Sparkleblock." It's a computerized version of a handheld puzzle game I played in Spectra -

JOEL pauses, as if he has suddenly become aware that he just might have said too much.

Um, I mean, 2015.

     BRIAN (squinting at the screen): Huh. That's really similar to something that I wrote about you doing in Book Two -

JOEL shoots an curious glance in BRIAN's direction. BRIAN blinks rapidly and takes a step back.

Um, I mean...that's...that's pretty cool.

     JOEL: Yeah.

     BRIAN: Yeah.

JOEL and BRIAN look at each other. A long, awkward pause ensues. Then, finally, BRIAN claps his hands together.

     BRIAN: Alrighty then, I'll let you get back to it!

     JOEL: Okay.

BRIAN exits stage left.

- Fin - 

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Last week my son got his driver's license. To me, it felt like just yesterday when he first took the wheel and started practicing, but then he reminded me that it was actually almost two years (!) ago.
Not the actual license
He's a really good driver, so all of you on the road can relax. I think part of his skill comes from his attention to detail, while another part undoubtedly comes from years of Mario Kart training.

Also last week, my daughter successfully put in and took out a pair of contact lenses for the first time. She has sensitive eyes, but she's really motivated because she wants to have colored contacts as part of a costume that she's putting together. We must all suffer for our art...

Finally, fresh off of our show at the Ash Street Saloon, my band Second Player Score performed a daytime set at the Vancouver Brewfest.
Courtesy of Missy Fant Photography
We had a great time and the audience was awesome. The cool thing about this particular gig is that three years ago, Kyle (SPS drummer) and I were at the Brewfest as attendees, and he said, "One day we'll be playing at this event." And lo, it came to pass! Big mahalos go out to Cody Gray (Brewfest organizer) for having us and Al Jones (soundman) for a rockin' live mix. We're looking forward to doing it again next year.

Coming up next time: another Book Three status update!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pokemon Go - Um, I Mean, Wilsonville Fun In The Park & Ash Street Saloon Recap

Last Saturday was an epic story of friendship, books, music, and, yes, Pokemon. Sit back and relax while I tell you the tale...

It all started in a scenic little town known as Wilsonville, Oregon, where the annual Fun In The Park event was taking place. I got there bright and early to unload. The Northwest Independent Writers Association booth, graciously set up for us by my friend and fellow author/musician April Bullard, was in a great spot close to the parking lot and next to something known as "The Whizzer," which turned out to be a kid-powered ride and not the old Marvel Comics superhero.
Other fellow authors were there as well, including (pictured above from left to right): Marilyn Owen (who, I found out, was also born and raised in Hawaii), Leigh Goodison, Leah MacKenzie, Lillian Jolie, the aforementioned April, Roslyn McFarland, and Gwendalyn Belle. We all had a great time hanging out, reading from and selling our books, and enjoying the sunny weather.

I also enjoyed the fact that this particular park was absolutely loaded with PokeStops. Admit it, you know what I'm talking about. Every once in a while, I would take a break from our booth to go walk around and reload while catching the occasional Pidgey or Weedle along the way (I even found a Jigglypuff). Our booth itself was basically located right on top of a stop as well, so that was highly convenient.

After Fun In The Park, I had a little dinner break before I switched gears and headed over to the Ash Street Saloon in Portland to play a show with my band Second Player Score. As it turned out, this particular area of downtown Portland was also teeming with PokeStops and Pokemon. After I unloaded my gear, I stopped to catch 'em all and noticed some of the members from the other bands (The Shrike and The Adarna) doing so as well - a nice bonding moment that started the night off on the right foot.
We opened the show and played a set that consisted of a mix of songs from our first album Fortress Storm Attack (Anything At All, Falling Forever, Gloria) and our upcoming second album Nobody's Hero (Head Of Sin, Demon's Kiss, Origin Story, Comets). The sound was great - thanks, Heather! - and so was the audience, which included the boys from Anarchy Radio.

Equally as great were the two bands that followed - The Shrike, from Portland, and The Adarna, from Seattle. I had not realized this until I got to the venue, but the frontman for The Adarna used to be the guitar player for The Slants, another great regional Northwest band that I had met before. I was thinking, "man, that guy looks familiar!" Turned out, he was thinking the same thing about me. Small world, this is.

With the day's amazing journey thus concluded, we all loaded up our gear and headed off into the night. But not before catching a couple more Pokemon. Seriously, that place was loaded. I'm thinking that someone might have set up a lure or something...

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Summer Picnic Recap And Book Four (?!) Status Update

This past Sunday was Autism Empowerment's second annual summer potluck picnic, and it was a blast! The weather was perfect - cool and slightly cloudy to start, clearing and warming up as the day went by.
The turnout was great and we collected a lot of canned food for the Clark County Food Bank. The Portland Superheroes Coalition made an appearance, as did the superstar llamas Rojo and Smokey.
Also, some dudes with musical instruments stood around and played acoustic versions of '80s songs as well as a few tunes by Second Player Score...oh, wait, that was us.

And yes, I am actually moving on to Book Four now! Well, sort of, anyway. While the draft of Book Three is being reviewed by my editor, I'm using this time to flesh out the summary for the next installment of the Spectraland Saga.

You may recall me doing something similar before. I think it's an important step, not only to get a jump on the next book, but to make sure the overall series arc is flowing along smoothly before Book Three gets pressed into canon.

I will, however, be taking a break from writing this coming Saturday to be at two awesome events: the NIWA Children's Author Reading Booth at Wilsonville Fun In The Park 2016, and Second Player Score with The Adarna and The Shrike at Ash Street Saloon. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Favorite Book Two Scenes

Part of my editing and revision process for Book Three includes re-reading Books One and Two. You know, to check for continuity (which eye was Darkeye missing again?), ensure consistency in tone, and to make sure I'm still following the overall series arc. While doing so, I was reminded of some of my favorite Book Two scenes, one of which I'll share with you today (I already shared one of my favorite Book One scenes in this post.)
Just like in that Book One scene, Joel and Felicity are sitting together, talking. This time, instead of being in the Forest of Light, they're on the beach at the Coast of Fang, waiting for [deleted, spoiler alert]. A lot of readers have told me that they also enjoy these quiet moments of one-on-one conversation, and I don't blame them - it's a nice respite from all of the slammin' action sequences, and it gives my two main stars a good opportunity to bond and show off some character development.

Like the climax scene of Book One, I wrote most of this one in advance. This time, though, I actually didn't know where it was going to end up fitting in the story, exactly. Fortunately, I found the perfect spot as I was cycling through the various drafts and versions of Book Two, and I was able to work it in there without missing a beat. So, without further ado, here it is...oh, but wait, it contains some possible spoilers for Book One, so I'll hide it under the jump break. If you've already read Book One but not Book Two, feel free to proceed!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Book Three And Album Two Status Update

I know it's only been three weeks since the last status update, but I have exciting news to share: both Book Three and Album Two are done! At least, the heavy lifting parts are.
The second draft of Book Three clocked in at a robust 81,110 words, or roughly about 325 pages. I got all the way through the story outline and am really happy with the results. Now I'll be spending the rest of July polishing it up, and then it's off to my editor come August 1st. There will be, of course, more rounds of rewriting, but at least the initial full draft is complete. And ahead of schedule to boot! Super stoked.

I actually finished the draft last Friday, and then I took the weekend off before hitting the recording studio on Monday and Tuesday to track the last three songs for Second Player Score's upcoming sophomore album, Nobody's Hero. Our engineer will now be hard at work mixing and mastering them, and the cover art is well underway, so we are right on target for a fall release. Feels good to have those done, because we already have some new songs written for the third album that we want to really start diving into.

So that's the latest! Oh, and now would probably be a good time for me to announce some upcoming events that you can catch me at:

Sunday, July 31st, 11am-3pm
Autism Empowerment 2nd Annual Summer Potluck Picnic and Canned Food Drive
Salmon Creek Park/Klineline Pond
1112 NE 17th St
Vancouver, WA 98685
Free to attend, potluck item and/or canned food donations are encouraged
I - and possibly the other members of Second Player Score - will be there to play some acoustic jams for you all. More details here!

Saturday, August 6th, 10am-4pm
Wilsonville Fun In The Park 2016
Town Center Park
29250 SW Parkway Ct
Wilsonville, OR
Free admission
I - along with six other awesome local authors - will be there at the NIWA Children's Author Reading Booth, reading, signing, and selling books. More details here!

Saturday, August 6th (yes, the same day as Fun In The Park), 9pm-12am
The Adarna/The Shrike/Second Player Score at Ash Street Saloon
225 SW Ash St
Portland, OR 97204
I - and definitely the other members of Second Player Score - will be there to play a loud and rockin' set opening for local luminaries The Shrike and, all the way from Seattle, The Adarna. More details here!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Movie Roundup: A Harrowing Age of Seafood Wars

Here we go with another installment of Movie Roundup! In case you've missed some of the previous editions, these posts are where I share my thoughts on movies that I've watched recently, all neatly packaged into nice little easy-to-digest blurbs. They're not really reviews per se, although if you've been following this blog for a while and you find that your tastes run similar to mine, then sure, you might find some value in my opinions. Otherwise, just take what I say with a grain of salt. And, as always, there will be spoilers.

X-Men: Age of Apocalypse
You know what? I loved this movie. I know it got bad reviews. I don't care. Angel listening to Metallica's "Four Horsemen" when Poe Dameron - I mean, Apocalypse - comes to recruit him? Hilarious! That little scene with Jean and Scott and Logan when Scott says "Hope that's the last we see of that guy"? Also hilarious! I also love that they gave Professor X a semi-heroic, plot-related reason for becoming bald, as opposed to just falling asleep in Cerebro one day and accidentally frying off all of his hair.

Finding Dory
Cute, fun, pleasant...I dunno, it was okay, I guess. I think I'm probably the only person in the world who didn't absolutely love love love Finding Nemo (I'm not gonna even link to it because I know you already know all about it). And you think I would have, because it's about a dad and his son and it's a quest story and it has sharks and explosions and stuff. Oh well. I did like the octopus in this new one, though, especially the part when he's driving the car. Kinda reminded me of Octodad.

The Lobster
Since we're on the subject of seafood - I mean, marine life - I figure I'll talk about this one. This is a completely non-kid-friendly film that may also be non-people-in-general-friendly as well if you don't appreciate dark humor or quirky, artsy cinema. Not to sound like a hipster, but I really enjoyed it. Very powerful, poignant stuff that is also very funny in a laugh-at-yourself-because-it's-painfully-true kind of way. There were many moments when I felt like it was actively mocking me. I also snorted at one point. Oh, and weeooo weeooo spoiler alert spoiler alert at no time does an actual lobster appear.

And now back to the kid-friendly portion of our show! Okay, so as opposed to Dory, which got super great reviews but was just meh-all-right-that-wasn't-bad to me, this one got super great reviews that I completely agreed with. Great animation, great story, just...great. No, seriously. Amazing, fun, super-entertaining movie. I got so wrapped up in it that I totally did not see the whole actual-bad-guy twist coming until it had already hit me in the face. Highly, highly recommended.

This movie was very confusing to me, mostly because of two reasons: (1) I've never played the Warcraft game before (I know, gasp), and (2) I went to see it after eating Korean barbecue at J-Town in Portland, so I was falling asleep from time to time. I should probably give it another chance on an empty stomach once it comes out on DVD.

Non-kid-friendly, even though it stars a kid - who does an excellent job, by the way - and contains scenes where he's watching Dora the Explorer. I had read the book so I already kind of knew what to expect, but I was wondering how they were going to pull it off because so much of the story, like The Hunger Games, takes place inside of the protagonist's head. Suffice it to say that they did an excellent job. Twenty minutes in I said to myself, "man, this is harrowing" and later when I looked up reviews of the film, most if not all of them also contained the word "harrowing." Maybe that should have been the title. Hard to watch at times, but brilliant and totally worth it.

Coming up next time, possibly: Life, Animated, The Secret Life of Pets, Ghostbusters, Star Trek Beyond, Suicide Squad, Nine Lives (if I can get my daughter out of the house to see it - I told her "It's about a man who gets magically turned into a cat. A man! Who gets turned into a cat! Don't you want to see this?"), Kubo and the Two Strings (which looks to be part of the grand pantheon of stories that contain magical musical instruments, wink wink I wonder what else I could be talking about), and yes, Sausage Party. Man, it's gonna be a busy summer...