Thursday, November 28, 2019

Arigatou! Gracias! Thank You!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
We here at the Brian Tashima Blog just wanted to say:

Thank you for reading our weekly posts (even the ones that are about basically nothing).

Thank you for your support of the Joel Suzuki series and Autism Empowerment.

If you backed the recent Kickstarter campaign for issue #2 of Glorified and/or have helped to spread the word about Gloria's story, thank you.

Thank you for listening to Second Player Score's music and/or our podcast.

Thank you for being awesome!

and the entire SPSU family

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Favorite Classic Arcade Games

As you may have guessed by now, I used to spend a lot of time in video game arcades when I was young. In fact, during the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school, a group of friends and I made daily treks to the nearest outlet of a mini-chain of arcades called Fun Factory, a business that still exists today, albeit in different locations.

For whatever reason, life has been sending me a lot of reminders about this lately, from the podcast episode that my band did last month where we discussed this very subject to the classic game arcades I visited in Las Vegas to the anime convention I attended with my kids this past weekend (which included a large gaming room). So, I thought I'd share with you some of my old favorites.

Mat Mania
Back in the day, due to a shortage of funds, I needed to find a way to stretch my quarters so that I could still make those aforementioned regular trips to the arcade and not have to sit around twiddling my thumbs while my friends used up their comparatively larger budgets. The answer, of course, was to find a game that I could get good enough at so that a dollar or so would go a long way. I'm not sure why (maybe my adolescent fondness for watching professional wrestling played a part), but this game ended up being the one. I got so good at it that I was able to last hours on a single token, even getting to the point where I could "flip" the score - i.e., amass so many points that the game's counter would reset to zero. If that sounds like I'm bragging, it's because I am. But then again, what I had in video game talent was directly offset by a lack of girl-attraction ability, so you decide which was more important.

Super Pac-Man
I liked the original Pac-Man, especially when it first came out, and I liked Ms. Pac-Man as well, but this one, for some reason, really struck a chord with me. I think it was probably the power rush that came from crashing through locked gates at a high rate of speed with a gigantic, invulnerable Pac-Man that did it. My skills with this game eventually reached the point where I entered a contest for it and took second place. Later, as an adult, I bought the home hand-held version and proceeded to set a high score that no one in my family has yet been able to beat (mind you, this is the only game that I'm better than my kids at).

Space Ace
Dragon's Lair, the original laserdisc game (for you younger folk, you may have seen it featured on Stranger Things), was HARD. At least it was for me. But maybe it was for other people as well, because this game seemed to be a little bit easier. Or perhaps I just liked the "energize" feature that allowed Dexter, the protagonist, to change into "Ace" in a manner similar to how Pac-Man could change into Super Pac-Man and then go around kicking some serious butt. Either way, I did manage to finish the game, albeit on the easiest setting *humblebrag*

Donkey Kong, Jr.
Okay, here's a game that I was never particularly good at, but for some reason I've always enjoyed it anyway, even 'til this day (it's one of my first choices whenever I visit a so-called classic game arcade). Lord knows I tried to get good at it when I was young, but I could never get past the second go-around of the fourth stage, where Junior finally rescues his dad. Could this all be due to some kind of repressed psychological angst stemming from my relationship with my real-life father, as documented here? Eh, probably not.

So there you have it, a foursome of my old faves (others include Gyruss, Q*bert, Joust, Defender, and many, many more). I'd love to hear what some of yours are, so feel free to let me know in the comments!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Learning To Fly

I'm back! Thanks (sort of) to Felicity for filling in while I was on vacation. This year, instead of going to Spectraland, I visited another exotic location known to most people as Las Vegas, Nevada. While I was there, I finally got to do something that Joel and Felicity learned how to do a while ago: fly. Or, well, as close as I could come to it without the use of a flying wavecast.
That's me on the Slotzilla Zip Line on Fremont Street. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, it's a zip line that starts eleven stories up (for the longer, more expensive option) and travels five blocks down the entire street. You can read more about it here. The short review is: it's an exhilarating experience. Despite the fact that I, like Joel, have a slight (okay, maybe more than slight) case of acrophobia, I really wanted to do it as both a bucket-list sort of thing and also so that I could experience something close to what Joel felt when he first flew back in Volume One.

We were able to sign up and get on pretty quickly, which was nice - I think that waiting in a long line would have just exacerbated any nervousness I was feeling. Another good thing is that for the most part, you're not really aware of just how high up you are. The one iffy moment came when a woman in the group before us kind of freaked out once she was suspended in air and demanded to be let off. I thought, "is that going to be me?" I mean, it's one thing to think "yeah, okay, this will be fine," but then - based on my prior experiences with roller coasters and other scary-ish carnival rides - once you're actually in it, sometimes it's more than you bargained for.
To my relief, though, once I got going, I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't nearly as frightening as I had expected. I think the key was - upon advice from my friend Adam, who had done it before - to not look down the moment you leave the gate. Would I do it again? Sure. The question is, would I (as suggested by my friend Monica) now attempt the Stratosphere Tower SkyJump on the Las Vegas Strip, which starts from 855 feet up? Well, I'll have to think about that one. I know that in Joel's subsequent adventures, he's flown from much greater heights, but let's face it - he's a lot braver than I am.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Anti-Greatest Hits

Yo. Felicity here. Brian is on vacation this week, so he asked me to fill in. Thing is, I had no idea what to write about, so I decided to be lazy - um, I mean, take a page from Joel's playbook and do a so-called "Greatest Hits" post, kind of like the one he did in February of last year where he listed the five most popular posts from this blog based on their view counts.
Being me, though, I'm going to do the opposite - I'm going to list the five LEAST popular posts, based on view counts. Ha! So, here we go:

#5 - Speech! Speech! - June 12, 2013

Proof that no one wants to watch you talking, Brian. Although the fake English accent is kind of funny.

#4 - Band Rec O' The Day - October 8, 2012

The Zoobombs are awesome, so I'm just going to blame this one on the fact that this blog was just getting started at the time.

#3 - Just Dad - July 31, 2012

Same goes for this one, as it was just the second post ever. Brian, I think if you had included a picture of your kids, it would have been more popular.

#2 - This Saturday - September 19, 2013

I guess no one cared what your weekend plans were back then, dude. Kind of a shame, actually, because the Hillsboro Farmer's Market is really cool.

#1 - On Originality - January 10, 2013

All right, I guess this one probably deserved a little more attention than it got, as it contained some pretty decent advice about creating stuff that's both original and appealing. Also, there was a picture of a maple bacon bar.

Aaaand now I'm craving donuts. So, Smith out.