Thursday, October 26, 2017

Lifepod Recipe

With Halloween just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to share my recipe for an alternative kind of treat that you might want to consider handing out in lieu of candy this year: lifepods.
As readers of the Joel Suzuki series know, lifepods are a type of fruit that is indigenous to Spectraland. Introduced in chapter five of Volume One, it's described as "a small, round blue fruit...[that has] a chewy texture and taste[s] like banana and watermelon, with a very slight minty aftertaste." Sounds delicious, right? It's also very filling - after one lifepod, you won't have to eat for the rest of the day. Felicity, in particular, seems rather fond of them.

Lifepods don't grow on Earth, and for whatever reason, Felicity and Joel have been unsuccessful at bringing one or more of them back here from Spectraland (I suspect that they eat them all before they're able to make the trip, but who knows). So, a while back I decided to use Earth-based ingredients in an effort to replicate a lifepod as closely as possible. My initial efforts were met with some skepticism, but over time I've tweaked the recipe until I arrived at what I feel is the ideal formula:

- Honeydew melon, cubed, 1/2 lb.
- Watermelon, cubed, 1/2 lb.
- Blue food coloring
- Banana flavoring
- Mint extract
- Tupperware or other covered, sealed container

1. Using the flat side of a spoon or similar utensil, crush the watermelon cubes, extracting as much of the juice as possible. I've tried other watermelon juice substitutes, but the real thing provides the most accurate flavor.

2. Place the honeydew melons in the Tupperware (or similar) container. The reasons I use honeydew as the base fruit rather than the watermelon itself are that it has the right texture, and it can take on the blue coloring easily (see step #5 below).

3. Add the watermelon juice to the honeydew melons. Be sure no seeds or watermelon pieces slip through.

4. Add 2 tablespoons of banana flavoring to the mixture. You can get banana flavoring from the spice department at your local grocery store - the same place where you would find the food coloring and the mint extract.

5. Add 6-7 drops of blue food coloring, sprinkling them over the melon cubes.

6. Add one drop of mint extract to the mixture. Trust me, this will be enough.

7. Close the container and shake up the mixture for 20-30 seconds or until the blue coloring has been spread out evenly to all the melon cubes.

8. Drain the liquid and transfer the cubes to a new container or dish.

9. Voila!

Felicity and Joel will now provide their testimonies as to just how close this comes to the real deal.

F: Ugh. Are you doing this lifepod recipe thing again?
B: Yup. For Halloween.
F: Well, it's certainly scary, all right.
B: Just try it and tell the readers what you think.
J: Um, will it be any better than last time?
B: Now I'm using real watermelon juice and I substituted mint extract for the mint sprinkles, so yeah.
J: I dunno...
B: Just try it. Please.
(Joel and Felicity take small, tentative bites. After chewing for a few seconds, Felicity grimaces and Joel wrinkles his nose.)
J: I guess it's...all right?
F: (to Joel) You're so polite. (to Brian) Dude. This tastes nothing like a real lifepod.
B: What? What are you talking about? Of course it does.
J: Well, it does have banana, watermelon, and mint flavors in it, should I put tastes...what are the words I'm looking for...
F (spitting out her bite): Terrible. Horrible. Awful.
J: I was going to say "not quite right," but those work too.
B: Aw man, are you serious? I thought I really had it this time. I was even going to hand these out on Halloween.
F: Do you want this house to get TP'd? If not, I strongly suggest you reconsider.
J: Let's go pick up some candy.
F: Good idea. I'll drive.
B: Wait! Don't you want to try my recipe for replicated stripeclaw steak?
(Car zooms off)
B: Hmm. Guess not.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Statii Update

Wow, it's been over four months since the last Statii Update! Let's get right to it.
Book Update:
Had a great time at both the Barnes and Noble B-Fest as well as the Fall 2017 Portland Home and Garden Show. Thanks again to Bjorn Sorenson for setting up the former and Roslyn McFarland for arranging the latter!
Volume Four is at 62,000 words and counting. It's kind of at that tricky stage now where the whole thing is like one of those puzzles where you have to make sure all the pieces interlock at the same time. But it is coming along nicely, and I'm still on track for having the initial draft done before the end of the year.

Band Update:
Lots happening on this front. We finished recording three songs for our upcoming third album and are now boot-camping the next three. We just wrapped up filming a video for one of those songs. We found an artist for the graphic novel/comic book that will accompany the aforementioned third album. We also wrote a story outline for the second album that will be narrated by the amazing Tryston Blyth from Neue Regel Radio and released as bonus content. Whew!

TV Update:
I am loving TV right now. The Handmaid's Tale? Excellent. The new Tick? Even better than the old one (I know, how could they find a replacement for Patrick Warburton? But they did it). The Good Doctor? Apparently a hit, and deservedly so. The Orville? Lots of fun and way better than I - and a lot of other people, apparently - thought it would be. Still need to catch up with Rick and Morty, though. And where is the new Miraculous Ladybug??

Video Game Update:
Now that Breath of the Wild is basically over, I've started on Stardew Valley, which just came out for the Switch and was reviewed on this very blog by our special guest blogger Connie Jasperson a couple of months ago.

I have to admit, I'm not very good at these "lifestyle" kind of games where the gameplay is really open-ended and there isn't a single defined goal like defeating Ganon or whatever. The first few times I tried it, I ended up working myself to exhaustion and passing out in my farm. I thought I finally got the hang of it, but then my daughter saw the plots I had dug to plant my seeds in and she laughed and said "why does that look so weird?" And so far, my meal choices have eerily resembled my real-life dietary habits (spaghetti and beer six days a week). But really, I think most of my problems come from the controls, which for some reason are so confusing to me that I had to take a picture of the screen where they show you which button does what.

At any rate, I have been having fun playing this game so far, if only for the fact that it gives my daughter enjoyment when she sees how terrible I am at it. And anyway, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is coming out soon...

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Indie Author Day

This Saturday is the second annual Indie Author Day! But really, for us here in the beautiful Vancouver/Portland area, it's more like Indie Author Extended Weekend, because the Fall 2017 Portland Home & Garden Show is taking place Thursday (that's today!) through Sunday at the Portland Expo Center.
As always, the Northwest Independent Writers Association will be there in full force, thanks to my good friend and fellow local author Roslyn McFarland (seriously, check out her books. You won't be disappointed.) I will be there in person tonight from 6-8pm, Friday night from 6-8pm, and Saturday from 11am-2pm to sign books and possibly give away inside info about Volume Four to anyone who's interested (which is everyone, amirite?)

But if you can't make it during those times, come on down anyway, because Joel Suzuki will be there the whole time (in book form) as will lots of other great local authors who write awesome books in a wide variety of genres, so there'll be something for everyone. And while you're at it you might even find some cool stuff for your house or garden!

Portland Expo Center
2060 N Marine Drive
Portland, OR 97217
Thursday 11am-8pm
Friday 11am-8pm
Saturday 11am-8pm
Sunday 11am-6pm

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

You Guys Age Funny

The 21-and-over nature of last week's post - because of the beer talk - prompted Joel and Felicity to finally sign up for Facebook accounts, mainly so that they could comment on my announcement of said post where I essentially told them that they were too young to read it. Felicity offered up her usual snark ("whatever") while Joel pointed out that technically, they're both over 21 depending on what timeline you used. This caused a bit of confusion in the household known as my brain, so I decided to call the two of them in for a little family meeting.
Brian: Thanks for being here today.
Joel: Um, you're welcome.
Felicity: This better be quick. I'm teaching a karate class at four-thirty.
B: All right, so Joel - you said that you and Felicity are more than twenty-one years old?
J: Well, yes. You see, in April of 2012, I was sixteen, while Felicity was eighteen. And since my birthday is July 17, and hers is July 21, then technically, since it's now October of 2017, that would make me twenty-two years old, and her, twenty-four.
B: I guess I understand that logic,'re actually now only seventeen, and she's nineteen.
J: I know.
B: You know?
J: Yeah. We're seventeen and nineteen, but we're also twenty-two and twenty-four. Kind of at the same time.
B: Huh? I don't get it.
F: Does it really matter?
B: I'm just trying to understand.
J: It's a timeline issue. This is what happens when you get involved with things like alternate dimensions, multiple realities, quantum mechanics, and so forth. Time moves a lot slower on Earth than it does on Spectraland, relatively speaking. And then when you throw in time travel, it makes it even more complicated.
F (with terrible faux-English accent): "It's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff."
J (with similarly terrible faux-English accent): "Timey-wimey? Do you have to talk like children?"
(Joel and Felicity laugh, exchange high-fives)
B: Okay, as much as I appreciate the Doctor Who references, I'm still not sure I'm getting it.
F (sighing): All right, I really have to run, so I'll try to make this simple for you. You know the comics you like to read, in that thing called a...a...
B: Newspaper?
F: Yeah, that. And you know how the characters in, like, say, "Sally Forth" or "Luann" seem to sort of get older, but really slowly?
B: I guess.
F: C'mon, you know what I'm talking about.
B: Well, yeah, okay, sure. Like how Luann went from being thirteen in 1999 to being eighteen in 2014.
F: Exactly.
B: But those are cartoon characters. You guys are...
F: Are what?
B: People. With actual Facebook accounts.
F (looking at Joel): We are, aren't we?
J (shrugs): I'm pretty sure we are.
B: So are you trying to tell me that two-dimensional cartoon characters have access to time travel?
F: Sure, yeah, why not. Can I go now?
J: I don't think that's really her point. She was just trying to give you an example of how some people can age slower than others.
B: Oh, like how Kyle keeps getting carded when he tries to order a beer.
J: Um...
F: Yeah, no. It's nothing like that at all. Look, can we continue this some other time? My students get really antsy when I'm late. They start breaking all the boards and stuff.
B: All right, fine. Joel, can you stick around?
J (glancing at Felicity): Well...
F: He's coming with me. He has to...iron the black belts.
B: Do people really do that?
F: Of course they do. Later!
J (waving): Bye.
B: Grrr

Will Brian ever learn the secret behind Joel and Felicity's aging process? Will Felicity make it to her karate class before her students start breaking things? Do cartoon characters really have access to time travel? Tune in next week when we present the shocking conclusion to..."You Guys Age Funny"!*

* or not