Thursday, June 25, 2020

Statii Update

It's hard to be productive at the moment. Even though I'm used to working at home by myself (or with cats), there are - obviously - a lot of world-event-level distractions going on, and frankly, it's all a bit exhausting. That said, I'm trying my best to keep pushing forward, little by little, day after day, making as much progress on my projects as I can even if that means just writing one paragraph in a draft that might get thrown away later, or coming up with a vocal harmony for a single line in a chorus. Here's the latest on what I've been up to:
The virus-induced lockdown threw a wrench into the plans for Second Player Score's fourth album, as we were neither able to get together for rehearsal nor did we know when we might be able to go back into the studio. After three months our area moved into Phase 2 reopening which allowed the three of us to be in the same room together once again, so now we're starting to get back on track. Since the fourth album (entitled Four-D, more details here, here, and here) will be split into four seasonal "suites" of four songs each, we targeted the "Winter Suite" as being first up since it seemed to be the most likely one that we'll be able to bootcamp (i.e. do pre-production on), record, and then release during the time period in which it's set (the winter). Two of the songs are already fully written and arranged, which leaves two others in need of things like lyrics and vocal harmonies. Oh, and a guitar solo.

I recently wrapped up yet another read-through of Joel Suzuki, Volume Five, making a few updates and edits along the way before I sent it off for a sensitivity-reader check. While that's being done, I've actually started on Volume Six(!), crafting a basic outline along with around 2000 words or so. Granted, said words are pretty terrible, but I needed to - as part of the process for Volume Five - at least get the beginning of the story down on paper, making sure that the continuity jives so that I don't find myself stuck in a corner that I can't write myself out of later on.

I also finished a seven-week script-writing workshop with Jonathan Stark and Tracy Newman, two Emmy Award-winning writers who created the Jim Belushi show According to Jim, among their other numerous accomplishments. It was a fun and educational experience that I got to share with a group of writers from L.A. and elsewhere (all done via Zoom, of course), all of whom are extremely cool and talented people. Each week, we took turns critiquing one another's scripts (I submitted Hold My Beer for consideration) and exchanging ideas. It was supposed to end after the sixth week, but John and Tracy were generous enough to add an extra week where we would each write a single five-page scene and then we would review them all and try to guess who wrote what. For my scene, I wrote a fictionalized account of the time when my son asked me to write him a book (which, as you probably know, was the actual genesis of the Joel Suzuki series). Everyone's scenes went over so well that we're all now developing them into full pilot scripts that we will send to John and Tracy later and possibly meet up again to discuss at some point in the future.

So that's mostly what's been going on, along with managing the Kickstarter campaign for Glorified Issue #3 (which ends next week), applying for a screenwriting development program from Imagine Impact (writers, you should check it out), continuing to learn Japanese (kanji is so dang confusing), and recording weekly episodes of the Second Player Speaks podcast. If that sounds like a lot, understand that I'm just doing it all in bite-size chunks in between checking the news and watching anime. It's like if you eat three blueberries every day, after a little over a month you'll have eaten a hundred blueberries. Okay, never mind, terrible example, but I think you get the idea. The important thing is that, like a shark, you just have to keep moving - and that's my productivity tip of the week.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Anime Roundup: Art Imitates Life Imitates Art Edition

Here we are with another edition of Anime Roundup! This time around, we have some fun shows that are about people who create art, people who ARE art (literally), and people who symbolize life and society in general. As always, mild spoilers are to be found. Ikimashou!

Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend
At first, you might think that this is one of those animes about several teenage girls who all inexplicably like the same boring dude (yes, that's a subgenre), but...well, it is sort of like that, but the fun part is that it KNOWS it. The basic gist of the story is that there's an otaku (nerdy) guy who wants to create his own dating sim game, so he recruits some friends/classmates/relatives - that are all way more talented than him - to join his doujinshi (essentially, indie creator) team, and then, of course, all sorts of hilarious and dramatic escapades ensue. I especially enjoyed the meta moments where the characters spoke to each other as if they knew they were in a show ("You can't start vying for screen time now, it's the third act! Especially after you were essentially missing for the entire second half!")

Re: Creators
Speaking of meta, this is an anime about anime/manga/video game characters ("Creations") from different genres - mecha, fantasy, magical girl, dating sim, etc. - who come to life in the "real" world and then join forces against one main villain (herself a Creation) and a few of her flunkies in order to save all worlds, fictional or not, from total destruction. Kind of like if the members of the Avengers or Justice League were pulled not only from Marvel/DC comic books, but also from Star Wars movies, Harry Potter novels, My Little Pony, etc. (can you imagine a super-team consisting of Spider-Man, Luke Skywalker, Hermione Granger, and Twilight Sparkle?) It's a great concept and very well-executed with a nice blend of humor, drama, and action - in fact, this show just might have cracked my personal Top 10 list. I often found myself wondering if the "real world" characters knew that they, themselves, were also in a fictional realm of existence (which we may ourselves be??). I also pondered what some of my own creations would think and feel if they found themselves in a similar situation - Gloria, for example, would absolutely hate my guts for having made her world a desolate, post-apocalyptic nightmare.

Gekkan Shoujo (Monthly Girls') Nozaki-Kun
A light-hearted rom-com about a girl who has a crush on a hunky dude who is secretly a romance manga writer-artist but who is completely oblivious to romance in real life and then she tries to get closer to him by becoming one of his assistants since she's also a really good artist but any attempt on her part to initiate anything with him ends up with him interpreting her actions as simply a good example for a storyline that he can incorporate into his work, this one was a lot of fun and I wish there were more than twelve episodes.

Seven Senses of the Reunion
I'm sure I'm not the only one who has pointed this out, but this show is totally a straight-up mashup of Sword Art Online and Anohana. Which - to me, anyway - is not a bad thing, mind you. There's even a little bit of Uploaded with the concept of dying in the "real" world but living on in a "virtual" one. Good times.

My daughter tipped me off to this one. Her track record of pop culture recommendations in general is pretty impeccable (Doki Doki Literature Club, Animal Crossing, Ouran High School Host Club, Legend of Zelda, etc.), so I figured I should check it out. Conclusion? You have excellent taste, my dear. A full-length feature film, Promare starts off being about a brash firefighter who clashes with a fire-generating mutant (kind of like Pyro from X-Men), but then it develops and goes off into a bunch of different storyline directions, some predictable, some not. It has a unique animation style that I've never seen before and a great sense of humor (I especially loved the part where Galo slept through Deus Prometh's expository dialogue), and it's very fast-paced with astounding action sequences. It also reflects some serious themes about prejudice and diversity that are always relevant, but especially now.

Anyway, on to the next batch!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Second Player Stir-Fry

So ever since I posted my recipes for Garlic Spam-ghetti and Spam Curry and then followed those up with a shout-out to Spam in general, it appears that the trend of pandemic-related hoard-shopping has moved on from toilet paper to - you guessed it - Spam. Weeks have gone by and only once during my more-numerous-than-is-probably-prudent grocery shopping expeditions have I found even one can of Spam on the shelves (I found two, actually - the last two, which I immediately snatched up).
The good news is that in crisis lies opportunity; necessity is the mother of invention; etc., etc., because behold! In the wake of the Spam shortage, I have come up with a new bachelor chow pub food recipe that is just as cheap, almost as easy to make, and quite possibly even more delicious. I call it: Second Player Stir-Fry.


- One box thin spaghetti (angel hair was my preferred form of pasta, but that's been in short supply as well, for some reason)
- One gallon of water
- Two eggs, scrambled
- Two or three Vienna sausages, sliced into 1/3 - 1/2" segments
- Sliced mushrooms (I use the canned kind)
- Baby spinach leaves
- Broccoli florets, small
- Minced garlic
- Cooking oil, about 1 tablespoon
- Dash of salt


1. Bring the gallon of water to a boil in a large pot. Add a dash of salt.
2. Boil the spaghetti in accordance with the directions on the box (usually 8-10 minutes, until the noodles are reasonably soft)
3. In a separate pan, combine the sausages, mushrooms, spinach leaves, broccoli florets, and minced garlic. While stirring, fry on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes or until the spinach leaves start to shrink and turn dark green, then move the mixture to one side of the pan.
4. On the other side of the pan, add the cooking oil and scrambled eggs. Fry the eggs for 1 minute, then mix with the other ingredients. Continue to stir and fry for another 1-2 minutes or until the eggs achieve a rubbery consistency.
5. Top the spaghetti with the stir-fried ingredients and then add shoyu (soy sauce) to taste.
6. Say "itadakimasu" (optional, but it makes the food taste better for some strange reason) and dig in.

(Note: makes 3 large servings)

Now, if after this blog post is published there is a sudden run on Vienna sausage, don't blame me. Or do. Whatever...

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Glorified Issue #3 Kickstarter

Hey there! Just wanted to let everyone know that the creative team behind the Glorified comic book series has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds for the next issue in the series. I know that this is a tough time financially for many folks out there, but for those who can afford it, we have some fun rewards available, including the chance to appear as a character in the issue (and maybe even get killed by a young Gloria)!
Issue #3 ("Broken Ecstasy") features flashbacks to Gloria's past as she grows up in Fort Storm, trains to become an Enforcer, and eventually assumes the position of Alpha. These scenes are intercut with the present-day action of Gloria and Gage heading across the wasteland in a hovercraft toward the settlement of Tiger's Tree, where Gloria hopes to rekindle more of her lost memories.

Anyway, the Kickstarter campaign can be found here, and Issues #1 and #2 are available from the good folks at IndyPlanet. You can also find more information on the series itself here and here. Cheers!

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