Thursday, June 27, 2019

Glorified Release Party Recap

The Glorified launch party was epic! If a picture is worth a thousand words, then prepare yourself for a 6000+-word post.
The night kicked off with Matt Danger of Ninjas With Syringes and No Pants Records, laying down a tasty solo acoustic set.
Next up were The Fauxriginals with their awesome hooks and killer vocal harmonies.
They were followed by The Doom Generation, who rocked the house.
Second Player Score then proceeded to take the stage, where we performed every song off of Glorified, in order, accompanied by our brand-new anime teaser trailer and video game montage.
All SPS photos courtesy of Neko Sixx
We even had a very special guest guitarist - Adam Tolentino from Hawaii - join us on our last song.
Then, after a pause to give away the Glorified guitar, we finished the night with a cover of Stereopony's "Hitohira No Hanabira." We had a great time and would like to thank the bands who played, everyone at Lola's Room/Crystal Ballroom for having us, and all of our fans, friends, and family (some of whom flew all the way out from Michigan!) for coming to the show and helping us celebrate. Now, on to albums four and five!*

* Yes, we're writing both of them at the same time

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Glorified CD/Comic Release Party Tonight!

Remember when I talked about my band's third album and the accompanying comic book last month? Well, the release party is tonight!
As a reminder, here are all the details:

Thursday, June 20
Lola's Room at the Crystal Ballroom
1332 W. Burnside
Portland, OR
All ages
$8 pre-sale/$10 door

Special musical guests will include Matt Danger, The Doom Generation, and The Fauxriginals, and there will be a free drawing for a Second Player Score-themed guitar signed and customized by us.
We'll also be bringing along our usual video game merch booth setup while premiering not only the teaser trailer for the Glorified anime show, but also a entire video narrative that will play in the background while we perform every track, in order, off the new album. On top of that, part of the proceeds from sales of the album and comic will be donated to the Oregon chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Lens of Acceptance (a.k.a. the "Dad Story")

Here's an article I wrote for the latest issue of Spectrum Life Magazine. The issue is packed with lots of other great stuff as well, so you should check it out for free at this link!
This is a story about my dad.

As I was growing up in Hawaii, we had what you could call a strained relationship. He would often do things that I didn’t quite understand, like stare at strangers in the grocery store or decorate the side of our family car with a bird made from pieces of reflective tape. He would also get very upset about what I thought were relatively minor annoyances, like when he sneezed more than three times or when soda manufacturers changed their cans from pop-tops to stay-tabs (an obvious attempt, he said, to poison the population by making us immerse the aluminum tab into our drinks).

As far as I could tell, he also never really had any friends. There was one gentleman who I suppose my dad considered a friend, as they used to talk on the phone quite a lot. Only—from my perspective, at least—these conversations appeared to be mainly one-sided, as my dad would talk nonstop about all these ideas he had while the other guy patiently listened on the other end.

Everything in our household had to function in a very particular and oftentimes peculiar way. For example, if you took out the garbage, you would have to change all your clothes before you could fully reenter the house because the “garbage fumes” would have “infected” whatever you had been wearing. Also, he hated to admit when he was wrong or had made a mistake, so when something didn’t go according to his (extremely specific) plans, he would blame it on whoever happened to be around, which was usually me or my mother.

All of this led to a fair amount of arguments and strife. Needless to say, I was more than happy to move out of the house when college arrived and I could live at the dorms. I hate to admit that I didn’t mind putting even more physical distance between us when later, as an adult with a family of my own, I left Hawaii for the mainland.

Years passed by and I eventually discovered that my young son was on the autism spectrum. Not having known anything about autism prior to that, I dedicated myself to learning as much as I could about his condition while also getting involved in the local autism community via the Autism Empowerment organization. I would communicate some of this information to my parents back home, especially once I started writing the Joel Suzuki series of young adult fantasy novels and becoming an active advocate not only for my son but for autistic kids everywhere.

Then one day I thought about my dad and said to myself, “Hey…wait a minute.” Because besides the behaviors that I had considered to be quirky, he was also always a very smart and talented person. He could surf, he had a black belt in judo, he could fix cars—all of these things that I couldn’t do. He could also see details that other people usually missed (which is something my son can do as well) and oftentimes perceived events in such a way that it almost seemed like he was predicting the future. On top of that, he was an excellent high school biology teacher who developed a personal philosophy of education that was probably ahead of its time, one in which every student had an equal chance to succeed regardless of their background or level of ability.

So, when I went back to Hawaii one year for a visit, I sat down with him and, in the middle of a conversation about autism, asked, “Do you ever think that maybe you’re, you know…?” And his answer was, “Oh, yeah. I figured it out.” As it turned out, after having read the information I’d been sending back, he’d self-diagnosed as being on the spectrum.

It made a lot of sense. It explained so much. And so after that, with me viewing him through this new lens of acceptance, our relationship improved significantly because now I understood him that much more. I understood his behavior. I understood why we had all those fastidious household rules. I understood his challenges as well as his strengths. I looked at him and saw my son in him, and vice versa. Now, instead of getting upset when he does stuff like call at midnight and leave cryptic messages about my mom’s health failing (she’s fine) and then turning off their phone until the morning not thinking that I would be calling back right away in a panic, I just nod and smile (after confirming that my mom was okay, of course). Now we agree on many subjects that in the past we might have argued about, and some of the things he used to do actually seem rather brilliant in retrospect (the bird on the car was pretty epic).

As an added benefit, this lens of acceptance has also improved how I view other people and the world in general. Whereas before I would have gotten all road-ragey at someone who cut me off in traffic, now I just think, “Okay, maybe it was a mistake.” Or when I hand-carry a misdelivered package to a neighbor who doesn’t say thanks and slams his door in my face, I think, “Okay, maybe he’s just having a bad day.” Because really, most of the time we don’t know what’s going on beneath the surface with other people, right? So I think it’s to one’s own benefit to show some understanding and empathy in cases like these, because not only does it help keep your blood pressure down, it helps make the planet a more positive place. It’s practicing what I like to call active acceptance, where—as opposed to passive acceptance, like when you allow yourself to be taken advantage of—you are making the choice to forgive and embrace others despite whatever differences and disagreements you may have.

I wish we’d had the same amount of autism awareness and acceptance back when I was a kid that we do now. I think it would have made a big difference in my family’s life and in the lives of others as well. Because this isn’t just a story about my dad, it’s a story about everyone.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Eating On A Budget

So, if you're like me and you find that one of your largest expenses is food but you need to be allocating scarce resources to much more critical things like album covers and book editing, you can cut corners by eating on a budget. This doesn't have to mean skipping meals or doing the Retsuko thing of having bread crusts dipped in mayo for lunch; there are other options that are more satisfying and probably healthier while still being cost-conscious.
Here are some of the ideas I employ (note: I'm not a doctor or a nutritionist, so I don't endorse these ideas as ways to lose weight or anything like that. This is coming purely from a financial perspective. Remember: don't take health advice from authors, musicians, or especially author/musicians. It will not turn out well.)

The Stardew Valley Diet
I named this idea as such because when I tried - unsuccessfully - to play the open-ended role-playing game called Stardew Valley a while back, the only thing my character would eat for dinner was spaghetti, day in, day out. This was done partially out of laziness but also for budget reasons. Being lazy and cheap in real life as well, I thought, "hey, why not apply that idea to my actual diet?" So I did, and the results were great. For about two or three dollars worth of ingredients, I can make three huge servings of pasta in just a few minutes with no cooking knowledge whatsoever other than how to boil water (by the way, if you want my recipe for Spicy Asian Fusion Garlic Spam-ghetti, just let me know.)

Choppin' Broccoli
I've always liked broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, but it was only recently that I started consuming it in bulk. While it's fairly cheap if you buy it whole from the produce section, I tend to go for the bags of pre-cut florets, which are a bit more expensive by volume but saves you some time. The cost savings comes from the fact that broccoli is very filling, so if I eat a bunch of it along with some other small stuff (like bread crusts dipped in mayo) it ends up feeling like a meal, tiding me over to the next one quite nicely. I now literally eat broccoli at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and as a late-night snack.

Tea and Water
In addition to doing the above, I also drink copious amounts of water and hot green tea. I mean, I guess it's supposed to be healthy, but I mainly do it for the same reasons that I eat broccoli: it's filling and I like it. For those of you who don't like plain water, seltzer can be a good alternative if you buy the cheap store-brand variety.

Other obvious ideas: don't waste food (you can always make a decent toast out of the loaf-ends) and eat cheap stuff (in my twenties I used to have a cup o' noodle and a PBJ for lunch every day). I'm sure there are many more ways to effectively eat on a budget, but these are just some of the things that have worked for me that I'm sharing with you today. Employing them has, in part, allowed me to not only invest in my various artistic endeavors but also to enjoy a nice pizza every once in a while.