Thursday, December 22, 2022

TV Tropes!

Recently, I had the pleasure of discovering that someone (not me, honest!) took the time and effort to create a page on the TV Tropes website for the Joel Suzuki series.

In case you're not familiar with it, the TV Tropes site is, in their words, "a wiki, sort of like Wikipedia but using different software and with a different purpose. (They) describe and collect examples of tropes in media. (They) also host reviews, liveblogs, and have forums where you can talk with other tropers."

Oh, and a trope is (again, in their words,) "a narrative device or convention used in storytelling or production of a creative work." For example, one of the tropes listed on the Joel Suzuki page is "Alien Sky," with the description "Spectraland has two moons, which are closer to the horizon than Earth's." This is considered a trope because the concept of the "alien sky" - especially one with two moons - can be found in many different works of fiction.

I have to say, I'm honored and flattered that someone (I don't know who, seriously!) found Joel Suzuki worthy of inclusion in the TV Tropes website alongside other heavy hitters of pop culture. The page, which includes tropes from Volumes One through Six, is also very insightful and well-written - whoever did it appears to have a firm understanding of everything that has happened so far in the series, and in some cases their paraphrasing of events is worded in such a way that it made me think, "huh...that actually sounds better than the the way I put it."

So, whoever you are, arigatou (thank you) and otsukaresama deshita (good job)! I'm happy and grateful that you seem to have enjoyed reading the series so far (at least enough to feel inspired to create the page) and I really loved reading each of the spot-on tropes in the list. Rest assured, I am hard at work on Volume Seven and should be able to have it out sometime in 2023.

And for everyone else, you can check out the Joel Suzuki TV Tropes page at this link!

Thursday, December 15, 2022

My Japanese Language-Learning Experience, Part Five

In the last edition of My Japanese Language-Learning Experience, I said that it was going to be part of "an ongoing series of posts detailing my Japanese-language-learning journey."

And then I proceeded to not write another one (this one) for almost THREE YEARS.
What have I been doing in the meantime, you ask? Well, aside from dealing with a worldwide plague, writing and publishing books, and recording music, I've... oh, you meant what have I been doing with regards to my Japanese language-learning.

The answer is...not much, sadly. I mean, I've still been watching anime (as you know from last week's post), doing a daily dose of an app called Drops (does one "do" an app? I have no idea), and watching an occasional YouTube video here and there, but I have to admit, I've been slacking. Badly.

Granted, I (and my band, Second Player Score) did sign on with a Japan-based entertainment agency and released an EP sung in Japanese, but other than that, I haven't been doing much serious studying (benkyou shite inai, I believe is the way to say that) at all.

The aforementioned worldwide plague was a factor, as I had discovered a Japanese Meetup group in Portland (the "alternative" I had hinted at in Part Four) and attended one session but then everything shut down. They continued online after that, but I had Zoom fatigue and just didn't feel into it.

But mostly, my own laziness was to blame.

So recently, I've decided to get back on track. I've started re-reading Speak Japanese in 90 days, and have been watching the YouTube channels Japanese Ammo with Misa and Learn Japanese with Tanaka-San. I even tried sample questions for the JLPT N5 (Japanese-Language Proficiency Test, easiest level) and got a 10/14...not bad, I guess (the picture above is my results).

Hopefully, I'll remain diligent about it and actually start to make some tangible progress. And maybe even write Part Six of this so-called "ongoing series of posts" before three more years go by...

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Anime Roundup

Yes, despite the fact that I haven't done an Anime Roundup post since May, I have still been watching anime. Besides the new, ongoing episodes of Spy x Family and My Hero Academia (so good) and catching up with Demon Slayer (the Mugen Train and Entertainment District Arcs suddenly showed up on Hulu while I wasn't looking), I've checked out the following (beware mild spoilers):

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation
A loser in his early 30s gets hit by a truck and wakes up as a baby in an alternate, magical fantasy world while retaining his prior memories. He grows up to become a highly proficient wizard and goes on a bunch of adventures that were crammed into 23 episodes (plus an OVA) - not nearly enough, in my opinion (fortunately I've heard there's more on the way). Terrific coming-of-age story that checks all the boxes on my list: magic, isekai (portal fantasy), action, drama, comedy, romance.

Uncle from Another World
While we're on the subject of isekai, this one is about a thirty-something-year-old man - who looks much older, if you ask me - who had been hit by a truck as a teenager (what's with all the truck-hitting?) and was in a coma for 17 years... or so everyone thought. In show-reality, he was transported to a magical fantasy world where he became a proficient wizard (sound familiar?). Now, back in our world, he still has his magical powers but is a fish out of water when it comes to present-day technology. So far, the story is mostly him telling/showing his experiences in the other world to his nephew via a magic TV screen of sorts while his nephew (and his nephew's female friend) help him adjust to life back on Earth. It's supposed to be an ongoing series, so we'll see how it develops.

Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn't Exist
Warning: not for kids! But, I mean, there's lots of adult animation out there, right? South Park, Rick & Morty, etc., etc., etc. Anyway, this is a...what's a good word...raunchy (there you go) comedy about a dystopian future where the government aggressively represses any form of, uh...risque content or action or even thoughts (if this show itself were in this future, it would be in serious trouble). So then, of course, a rebellious organization forms and fights back by, just have to watch it for yourself.

My Love Story!!
Now for something much more wholesome! I'm a sucker for light-hearted rom-coms, and this show fit the bill perfectly. The main characters are a tall, muscular, super-athletic dude with a kind heart who apparently scares girls off with his appearance (frankly, I find this hard to believe, but maybe it's a Japanese thing), his ikemen (good-looking, dashing) best friend, and a girl that our loveable giant saves from a groper. The first few episodes see them in a typical sitcom situation where the girl falls for the big guy but due to misunderstandings, he thinks she likes his friend instead. Fortunately, they do away with this premise pretty quickly and proceed to spend the rest of the series mostly just documenting their lovey-dovey relationship. Sure, there are some things that happen (including the introduction of your usual romantic interlopers), but mostly everything is happy and upbeat in a way that you wish real life could be (I lost count of how many times I said to my TV, "this show is just SO CUTE"). Apparently, there is a live-action adaptation, which I need to hunt down.

Romantic Killer
While we're on the subject of romance, this is a rom-com where a girl who is totally uninterested in dating (she's an otaku who loves video games, cats, and chocolate) finds herself the subject of a cupid-like wizard's mission to, well, hook her up, basically. The wizard, who can assume both male and female forms, turns our heroine's life into the equivalent of a dating sim game, guiding her into situations with various archetypal ikemen (there's that word again): the transfer student, the childhood friend, the rich boy, etc. It's a lot of goofy fun (with a fresh take on your usual anime-isms) for most of the season until (spoiler alert!) it takes a rather abrupt turn in tone near the end, which was slightly jarring but cool at the same time and totally in sync with the overall story. After it was done at only 12 episodes, I found myself wanting more.

Next week: while we're on the subject of things Japanese, we'll be doing Part Five of My Japanese Language-Learning Experience!

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Baseball Review With April and Lydia: Hot Stove Edition

Back on October 6th, we had a special playoffs edition of our usual Major League Baseball recap since the Mariners actually made the playoffs for the first time in a gajillion years. At the end of that post, I asked our resident baseball/Seattle Mariners fans April Hayashi and Lydia Sanchez to come back for a postseason wrap-up later in the month. And so, we're doing that today, Tuesday, November 29th, even though this post will be published on Thursday, December 1st. As such, moves may have been made in the meantime. [UPDATE: the Mariners signed a relief pitcher and filled their assistant general manager position, but that's about it]
Lydia: They'd better have! I'm getting impatient. And bored.
April: I don't think anything's going to happen until the Winter Meetings next week, at the earliest.
Lydia: But the Astros just signed Jose Abreu! Come on, Jerry and Justin, do something cool.
April: The Teoscar Hernandez trade was pretty cool.
Lydia: Yeah, but what have you done for me lately?
Brian: All right, I think we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. Shouldn't we talk about the postseason first?
Lydia: Meh. Beating the Blue Jays was great, but that Astros series sucked.
April: At least the M's lost to the eventual champs.
Lydia: Small consolation. I hate those guys.
April: It was kind of cool to see the Phillies make it, at least.
Lydia: Whatever. Enough postseason talk. Hot stove time!
Brian: Okay, well, what kinds of moves would you folks like to see the Mariners make? Considering they're probably in the market for an outfielder, a middle infielder, and maybe a pitcher or two.
Lydia: I would like to see them sign Aaron Judge, but I know that's not going to happen. Instead, I want Brandon Nimmo, Trea Turner, and Kodai Senga.
Brian: Going big as usual, huh?
Lydia: Heck yeah.
Brian: What about you, April?
April: I'd say try to sign Andrew Benintendi or maybe Michael Conforto for the outfield, then trade for either Kolten Wong or Gleyber Torres for the second base spot. Oh, and yeah, Senga would be great for the rotation, but I've heard he wants to go to a big-market team.
Lydia: So conservative.
April: Hey, like I said last year, I'm wary of expensive, long-term free agent contracts.
Lydia: So is the team, apparently.
Brian: April, do you think those options would help the Mariners close the gap with the Astros?
April: I think so. And it would allow them to maintain more flexibility financially and roster-wise.
Brian: I assume you're counting on internal improvements, as well.
April: Well, yeah, I mean, Luis Castillo will be there from the start, as will the improved version of Cal Raleigh. Hopefully.
Lydia: And Julio won't spend a month getting jobbed by the umps.
April: Right.
Lydia: Still, though, I want them to make a big splash. Win now, baby!
Brian: Okay, well, I guess we'll see what happens. In the meantime, have a great rest of the holiday season, and we'll see you folks back in the spring.
April: Sounds good.
Lydia: Go M's! Sign Trea Turner!

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving Time Capsule

I was looking through some posts from Thanksgivings past to see what I had written and make sure I wasn't going to repeat myself and I thought it was pretty cool that a few of them reminded me about stuff that was happening at the time, like last year when I was really into this song. So I figured this year I'd just make little notes about what's currently going on so that when I read this post in future years I'll be like, "Oh hey yeah, that was a thing."
The Seattle Seahawks are currently 6-4 and tied for first place in the NFC West with the San Francisco 49ers. The Denver Broncos, who owe the Seahawks their 1st and 2nd round draft choices in next year's draft courtesy of this trade, are 3-7. Will these trends continue? I don't know, that's not the point of this post. And also, I don't want to jinx anything.

I've not only finished the first draft of Volume Seven, I've also just completed a read-through in which I incorporated all the revisions I wanted to make. Now I think I'll let it sit, untouched and un-looked at, for at least 3 weeks or so before I do another read-through.

I just finished Season 2 of Warrior Nun and Part 2 of Inside Job, both on Netflix. Hurry and make more.

The Spring Suite of Four-D is in the can and awaiting mixing.

Anxiously waiting to see how the Mariners are going to address their offseason needs. Maybe Benintendi or Yoshida for left field, Wong or Torres for second base, and Senga for the rotation? I don't know why, but I have a funny feeling I'll be reading this post in the future and seeing that my ideas were completely different from what actually took place.

Anime currently watching: Spy x Family, My Hero Academia (so good), Demon Slayer (newer stuff finally out on Hulu), Romantic Killer

Lunch rotation is largely the same as in March, except the green tea has been replaced by hibiscus tea, the tuna is now the flavored type (Thai chili or lemon pepper), and for some reason Fred Meyer has been out of the 32 oz. bag of precut broccoli florets for some time now so I've had to make do with the "vegetable medley" option. How hard can it be to cut and wash enough broccoli to fill those bags? Then again, I guess I could do it myself, but I'm too lazy, and for whatever reason it tastes better when they do it.

I have a first draft of a novella adapted from the screenplay for Try Again Tomorrow (fka Jinx), the baseball-adjacent rom-com starring April Hayashi and Lydia Sanchez, which I tried working on last week but just felt stuck for whatever reason. Maybe I'll go back to it now that I'm letting Volume Seven simmer for a while. Or maybe not.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Album Four Status Update

In the last Album Four Status Update post from July of last year, I said "We're trying to push the timeline so that we can get the album - along with, hopefully, the accompanying novelette and card game - out by May/June 2022."

Ha! Ha ha! Ha ha hahaha!

Obviously, that didn't happen.

What did happen was we ("we" meaning my band, Second Player Score) got sidetracked with "The Fear" (cover art below, Spotify link here) and Beer & Ramen, and also of course I was quite occupied with Volumes Six and Seven of the Joel Suzuki series.
But I'm glad to say that today and tomorrow we are back in the studio, finally laying down tracks for the Spring Suite of Four-D. The songs are titled "Fourth Quarter Comeback," "Divide and Conquer," "Battle Royale," and "Everything's Fine."

As for the novelette and card game, I don't think the former is going to happen any time soon (I finally settled on what I believe is the story outline, but at this point I think I want to save the project for later), but the card game is back on and is in process. Will we get it and the Summer Suite done in time for a Summer '23 release? Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Volume Seven Status Update

The first draft, anyway.

It's clocking in at 90,000 words (360 pages), right on target with my outline and tied with Volume Six as the longest installment in the Joel Suzuki series. Which makes sense, given that it's the final volume in the main seven-book story arc and is sort of the second half of a duology made up of the previous book and this one.

It's hard to believe that just four months ago, I was less than halfway done at 42,000 words. Despite my being busy with a lot of other projects (including the launch of the aforementioned Volume Six), the manuscript really started to gain momentum once I got into the third act, and there were times when I just couldn't stop writing - in fact, I broke my record for daily word count many times over.

As I neared the end, it was a strange feeling to be writing the scenes that had been in my head in some form or another for the last ten years or so. Even though I didn't quite know exactly how I was going to get there, I always had a pretty clear vision for what the climactic moments were going to be. It was like I was reaching the conclusion of my own epic journey right alongside Joel.

Anyway, as with all previous first drafts, I'm going to let this one sit and cool off for a while before returning to it for edits and revisions (I already know there are some parts that need fixing up). The odd thing is that this time, I don't have a subsequent volume to work on in the meantime (well, I sort of do, but not really), so I guess I'll just have to turn my attention to other parts of the SPS-Verse, including the recording of the Spring Suite for Four-D, which will take place next week.

Until then!

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Virtual JDC Visit

As part of the ongoing sixth annual Words & Pictures Festival, I had the privilege of doing a virtual author visit to the local Juvenile Detention Center yesterday.
I was joined by my friends and fellow authors LeeAnn McLennan, Karen Eisenbrey, and in a last-minute surprise appearance, Sheryl Scarborough. We had a lot of fun, and not enough time! I'm flattered to say that interest was expressed in not only Joel Suzuki, but Glorified as well, so I'll be donating copies of Volume One and Issue One to the JDC.

Big thanks to Rachael Ries, Branch Manager of the Cascade Park Community Library, for arranging and hosting the event, and of course also to Christy Peterson for organizing the W&P Festival once again. Looking forward to next year!

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Harvest Festival

That's right, more live events! This Saturday, I'll be at the Special Celebrations Harvest Festival in Vancouver, WA from 2-4pm with books, candy, and a big smile.
Details are in the flyer above. If you're in the area, hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Words & Pictures 2022

This Saturday 10/15, I'll be at Three Creeks Community Library in Salmon Creek, WA from 3:30-5pm for part of the sixth annual Words and Pictures Festival!
The festival has been growing each year, so this time around the events have been split up across various dates and locations. I'm honored to be part of the Sci-Fi & Fantasy Author Night along with fellow authors Curtis Chen, Neil Cochrane, Adam Copeland, LeeAnn McClennon, and Karen Eisenbrey. We'll be doing readings, answering questions, and signing and selling books. Come check it out if you're in the area! Three Creeks Community Library is located at 800 NE Tenney Rd Bldg C, Vancouver WA.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Playoffs? Playoffs!

Hey there, baseball fans! Normally, we wait until after the World Series to do a season recap with our resident baseball experts/die-hard Seattle Mariners fans April Hayashi and Lydia Sanchez, but, well, a thing happened in Mariners-land last week...
Brian: You beat me to it.
April: She's been just a little excited.
Lydia: Hey, you have been too.
April: I know.
Brian: Were either of you a bit nervous after that bad road trip that ended in the Kansas City collapse?
April: A little.
Lydia: Nah, I knew we had it all the way.
April: No, you didn't. You were freaking out.
Lydia: Okay, fine, I was.
Brian: I don't blame you. Despite what all the oddsmakers were saying, I think all of us long-time fans have just become accustomed to having a feeling of impending doom.
April: Yeah. But in the end, it all worked out.
Lydia: In about as dramatic a fashion as you can imagine. I mean, I would've gladly taken an Orioles loss earlier in the day and just gone into the game on Friday having already clinched, but the way it ended up happening was much better.
Brian: Think next year they'll have a Cal Raleigh drought-buster, walk-off homer bobblehead?
Lydia: Duh.
April: For sure.
Brian: So how do you think the postseason will play out from here? Do you think the M's can go far?
April: For me, personally, I'm just glad they ended the drought. That always seemed to be kind of the goal for this year, which sets the stage for a bigger goal next year. But to the team's credit, they have been talking about winning the World Series now, which is good to hear.
Lydia: Yeah, man, you gotta do it now! Nothing about the future is guaranteed. And if the Braves could do it last year -
April: - or the Nationals in 2019 -
Lydia: Right, then so can the M's.
Brian: They do seem built pretty well for the playoffs, with pitching, defense, and power being their strengths. Care to go on record with a prediction?
Lydia: No thanks. No more jinxing for me!
April: It'll be hard to get past the Astros in the AL, or the Dodgers in the World Series, but anything can happen in the playoffs, and the M's do seem to thrive on so-called "chaos." So we'll see.
Brian: All right, well, the fun starts tomorrow. Will you come back for a postseason wrap-up later in the month?
April: Sure.
Lydia: You bet. Go M's!

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Recap Of Recent Good Stuff

Happy to report a couple of recent successful events: the launch party for Volume Six at Kazoodles Toy Store, and Autism Empowerment achieving our goal of raising $15k during Give More 24!
Of course, these events wouldn't have been successful without the help and support of some very awesome people: Leah at Kazoodles, my son Torin, and, of course, everyone who came out to the launch party (including the people who weren't there for it but ended up buying a copy of Volume One!) as well as the folks who donated to Autism Empowerment last Thursday. You all rock.

And with that, we are now moving on from coverage of Volume Six and will be turning our full attention to Volume Seven, of which you will see status updates in the near future. I'm also going to be making more in-person appearances, the next of which will be the annual Words & Pictures Festival next month. The festival is in a different format this year, with multiple events spread out across multiple time slots and locations, but it's shaping up to be just as (if not more) awesome as usual, so stay tuned for details!

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Give More 24!

Today is Give More 24! What is that, you ask? Why, it's 24 hours in which you can make a positive difference in the world by donating to any one of the awesome nonprofit organizations based in the Southwest Washington area. "Sounds great," you say, "but which organization should I donate to?" Well, each organization is definitely worthy of your support, but allow me to make a suggestion: Autism Empowerment.
Why, you ask? Well, because not only are we dedicated to improving the quality of life for people and families in the autism community both locally and worldwide via our various programs, support groups, events, resources, and more, but also because we promote a global culture of acceptance for people of all abilities.

If that sounds good to you, then simply go this link and make a donation. Even just the minimum of $10 will be greatly appreciated. All donations are 100% tax-deductible, and best of all, giving feels good! I know this first-hand, because not only have I donated already, but I also donate to Autism Empowerment (on an ongoing basis) one dollar for every Joel Suzuki book that is sold.

Thank you! Mahalo! Arigatou Gozaimasu! Gracias!

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Volume Six Launch Party & Book Signing

Just a reminder that I will be at Kazoodles Toy Store in Vancouver this Saturday from 3-5pm to celebrate the launch of Joel Suzuki, Volume Six: Dance of the Darkeye!
Kazoodles is located at 13503 SE Mill Plain Blvd, Suite B-3, Vancouver WA 98684. In case you can't make it, fear not! I have two more appearances scheduled for October that I will be announcing later, so stay tuned...

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Volume Six Is Here!

Yes, after weeks of my usual build-up posts, Joel Suzuki, Volume Six: Dance of the Darkeye has been officially launched!
Thank you so much to everyone that has helped make this journey possible so far: Karen and John from Autism Empowerment, editors Susan DeFreitas and Kristen Hall-Geisler, cover artist Jill Colbert, my fellow authors in the Northwest Independent Writers AssociationSociety of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and Willamette Writers, all the fans, readers, teachers, media, bookstores, schools, nonprofit organizations, and everyone else who has supported the series, and, of course, my two amazing kids.

If you want to get your hands on a copy, it's available online from these sources:

Barnes & Noble - Paperback Edition

You can also ask your favorite brick & mortar bookstore to order it for you. Some fine establishments that already carry the Joel Suzuki series include:

Speaking of Kazoodles, I'll be there on Saturday, September 17th from 3-5pm for a Volume Six launch party and book signing. If you're in the Vancouver/Portland area, I'd love to see you! Kazoodles is located at 13503 SE Mill Plain Blvd, Suite B-3, Vancouver WA 98684.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

What Is "Indigo," Anyway?

So if you've been following along with the whole Joel Suzuki series thing, then you probably know that Volume Six is meant to be the "Indigo Book."
In case you don't recall, there's a blog post from way back in March 2013 when the series was still called The Spectraland Saga where I explained why there were going to be seven books (later changed to a possible eleven - maybe) and that the whole idea was going to be that each book would correspond to a color on the visible light spectrum aka the rainbow.

When I first started working on cover concepts for Volume Six, I had informed my cover artist (the awesome Jill Colbert of Manfish Inc.) of the indigo color scheme, and in the end, the cover you see now is what came out. I was very happy with it, but it wasn't until after I had approved the proof copy and set all the launch mechanisms into motion that a thought suddenly hit me:

What the heck, exactly, is "indigo," anyway?

It's funny that I had never really given it much thought before. There were just vague notions floating around in the back of my mind based on my work with Indigo Editing as well as the color scheme on my own Joel Suzuki website. I had even made a fake cover for the Volume Six title announcement post where I used Microsoft Paint and chose a color that the program calls "purple."

So this led me down a rabbit hole where I wanted to find out what the actual definition of indigo really is. And as it turned out, the answer is a lot more complicated than I had anticipated. Apparently, there is some argument as to its actual position on the electromagnetic spectrum, with some people claiming that it isn't even really part of the spectrum at all. And for those who do acknowledge its existence, there are multiple different tones of indigo, each of which are quite distinct from one another.

At first I was a little distressed by this. All kinds of first-world-problem thoughts swirled through my mind, like "do I need to have Jill redo the cover?" and "if so, what should the color actually be?" and "does this mean I need to order yet another proof copy?" and "do I need to push back the launch date?" and so on and so on.

But then I realized that for a story that is set largely within the multiverse*, it actually makes a kind of sense for the color of its cover to be the enigma that indigo is, and that the interpretation of indigo that we went with is perfectly fine, because it can be considered this particular universe's version of indigo (whereas another universe might prefer the one that is more a shade of blue, etc.)

A cynic might say that I'm just trying to come up with a justification to be cheap and lazy and not do any more work, but I feel like there must have been a reason why I didn't stop to think more about "indigo" before the book was finished (after all, I had driven Jill crazy with a number of other nitpicky changes, none of which included questioning the color), and that this whole multiverse connection was that reason.

Or, you know, whatever, maybe I'll have it changed later.

P.S. Now whenever I see a color that is some shade of purple on anything from cars to cat toys, I think to myself, "could that be considered indigo?" Yes, I'm weird.

P.P.S. Also, at least I got a blog post out of this whole thing.

* I realize that multiverses are kind of the "in" thing right now in science fiction, but I swear that the idea for Volume Six to take place in the multiverse was planned out years ago. I mean, it's not a new concept, after all. The timing just happened to work out.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Volume Six Proof!

The proof copy of Volume Six is here! And Boots approves of it! has that new book smell. Official launch date coming soon, so stay tuned!

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Vancouver Brewfest 2022

We interrupt this series of Volume Six-related posts to say a few words about the Vancouver Summer BrewFest that took place this past weekend, where my band Second Player Score performed.
And those words are: Fun! Beer! Music! Seriously, though, we had a great time. It was our third BrewFest (the first two being in 2016 and 2017) along with being our first full electric performance (we did a casual acoustic jam at last month's Autism Empowerment picnic) since you-know-what (starts with a "C" and rhymes with "Ovid").

We'd like to thank Matt and Eric from the Washington Beer Commission for having us and being awesome hosts, Al Jones from A&L Productions for being a super cool and proficient soundman, Cody Gray for hooking us up with the gig, all the breweries and food vendors, and everyone in the crowd who enjoyed our hour-long set of nerd-punk rock.

Speaking of the set, here's the list, for posterity's sake:

Liberty's End
Game On
Demon's Kiss
Winner Takes It All
Eye of the Needle
Death and Glory
The Fear
Level Up
The Flow
Ragged Town
Falling Forever
Anything, Anything

Hoping to be back next year!

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Volume Six Cover Reveal!

Here it is, courtesy of artist extraordinaire Jill Colbert of Manfish Inc.
And here's the back cover copy:

(WARNING - Contains spoilers for Volume Five)

"With the help of an enemy-turned-ally, Joel Suzuki has returned to the magical, musical island of Spectraland. He's ready to learn the licks and riffs he needs in order to stop his nemesis from conquering all of existence.

But after an unexpected betrayal, that plan is no longer practical - if it was ever possible. Joel's only choice is to embark on a hazardous journey through alternate realities, gathering the energy of multiple Songshells through a perilous process that jeopardizes not only his own life, but the integrity of the multiverse itself.

Meanwhile, another threat has emerged as forces from faraway worlds conspire to destroy both Spectraland and Earth. Faced with foes on all sides and racing against time, Joel must find a way to complete his mission while dealing with romantic distractions, fading memories, and - maybe the biggest danger of all - the corrupting influence of his own growing power."

Next step: the proof copy! Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Volume Six Title Announcement!

We are getting very close to finalizing Volume Six of the Joel Suzuki series! And so, here's the official subtitle:
That's right, the official subtitle is "Dance of the Darkeye." Those of you who are familiar with the series might be thinking, "Wait - Darkeye, as in the character Darkeye? That old dude who was mostly a bad guy throughout the first four books but then [SPOILER ALERT] became a good guy in the fifth book?" And the answer is: yes, that Darkeye. And yes, he's the only character (besides Joel, of course) to get his name in a book title (so far).

Coming next: the cover reveal!

Thursday, July 28, 2022

TV Roundup, Episode Six

Previously on TV Roundup, I said "I'm sure it won't take me another fifteen months to post episode six of this roundup series." And I was right! It was only five months. And what an eventful five months it's been, in TV-land at least. So here we go (beware of mild spoilers):

Obi-Wan Kenobi
For me personally, the emotions that this show generated outweighed the logic gaps by a fair margin. I also liked the way it checked off all the continuity boxes shopping list-style (especially the reason why Obi-Wan calls Anakin "Darth" in Episode IV). I mean, that's what I was here for, after all! The only thing I felt they missed was why Vader said "Obi-Wan once thought as you do" in Episode VI. Maybe they could've had Obi-Wan try to convert Anakin back to the light after apologizing but before Anakin said that Vader is all that's left? Oh well. Anyway, I won't get into the whole trench coat-rescue business, or the lack of a tractor beam on Vader's Star Destroyer (maybe it was under repair?), or the constant leaving-people-for-dead (Felicity's pet peeve), or anything like that, because Tala's blaster holster being a perfect carrying case for Lola was just too good.

(on Disney+)

The Time Traveler's Wife
A romantic dramedy involving time travel adapted from a popular novel by former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat*? Sign me up! I really don't understand why this show seems to have bombed with critics. I don't care, I enjoyed it, just as I enjoyed Moffat's run with the Doctor (this has been pointed out elsewhere ad nauseum, but Moffat actually used the book this show is adapted from as inspiration for the Matt Smith-Eleventh Doctor episodes with Amy Pond, because apparently he couldn't get the rights to the book back then). I'm hoping for a season two, but if not, they did a nice job with the ending.

* Moffat did the adaptation, the novel was written by Audrey Niffenegger. In case that wasn't clear.

(on HBO Max)

All the Marvel Shows on Disney+ Since Hawkeye Up to Now
As you probably already know, I am there for all the Marvels. Not just Captain and Ms., but everything the MCU wants to put out. I enjoyed Moon Knight, and of course Ms. Marvel was mind-blowing in multiple ways. I appreciate how Marvel/Disney seems to understand that people like me are their audience, what with all the Easter eggs and fan service moments (no, anime folks, not THAT kind of fan service) and their completely having given up on trying to make their theatrical releases make any kind of sense if you haven't been watching the shows on Disney+.

(on Disney+)

Stranger Things, Season Four
Things I said out loud to my TV as I was watching the latest season of this show:

"An hour and a half went by already??"

"As a writer, I know exactly what they're doing here, but I'm still moved by it."

"Does Metallica really need more money and publicity??"


"Oh man, this show is SO GOOD" (about twelve times)

(on Netflix)

The Boys, Season Three
Just when you think this show couldn't get any more over-the-top, well... I mean, no one is spared, everything is fair game, and it's simply glorious - as long as you're not easily disturbed or offended, that is. Among the many chuckles it generated from me was for the name "Payback" for the other superhero team (because, you know, "Avengers"). I missed the commentary after-show that accompanied season two, why did you not do one, Amazon? But anyway, the animated spinoff The Boys Presents: Diabolical made up for it.

(on Amazon Prime)

Killing Eve, Season Four
It had been a while since I'd seen season three, as I had waited until season 4 (the show's final season) was available on a streaming service without having to pay extra charges. Thus, there were times when it veered into "I have no idea what's going on, but I'm enjoying it anyway" territory. And yeah, I guess the ending was a bit unsatisfying, but really, how else was it supposed to end? I do want to know who the sniper is, though.

(on Hulu)

Honorable mentions: Undone season 2 (Rosa Salazar is amazing and hilarious and I really would love to cast her as Lydia opposite Jessica Henwick as April in my baseball rom-com Try Again Tomorrow), The Orville: New Horizons (which gets into some pretty heavy subject matter. There are still moments of juvenile humor, but they are now few and far between), Maggie (a sitcom that features a character that originated in a horror movie - pretty cool premise), Solar Opposites season 3, Letterkenny, Harley Quinn, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, Love on the Spectrum: U.S., Rebel Without a Crew, and others that I've probably just forgotten about. Man, I really do watch a lot of TV.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Joel and Felicity's Birthday Party: An SPS-Verse Skit


There is a birthday party going on. Besides BRIAN, 52, there are a number of other people here, all members of the SPS-Verse: two women in their 20s, APRIL and LYDIA; a man in his late 40s, DOUG; two men and one woman in their 20s, OLEN, DIRK, and PATTI; one woman in her 20s, GLORIA; one woman in her 30s (with green skin), FIREFLOWER; and the guests of honor, JOEL and FELICITY (ages unknown, probably late teens to early 20s). Everyone is mingling and having drinks and refreshments.
BRIAN (to Joel and Felicity): Hey, so this was a pretty good turnout, don't you think?
FELICITY (nursing a diet cola): Sure, yeah, whatever.
JOEL: Is Gibson coming?
BRIAN: No, they said something about being stuck in the fourth dimension.
FELICITY: What about that other woman...Brenda something.
JOEL: The serial killer?
BRIAN: I, uh... I didn't invite her.
BRIAN: Pretty much, yeah.
FELICITY: Just like when we had that thing back in March.
BRIAN: Well, I didn't want any unnecessary drama.
FELICITY: You don't think continuing to leave her out will end up causing even more drama later on?
BRIAN: I'm sure it'll be all right.
FELICITY: Famous last words.
BRIAN: What?
FELICITY: Nothing.

April and Lydia approach.

APRIL: Happy birthday, cuz!
JOEL: Thank you.
APRIL: And you too, Felicity.
FELICITY: *mumbles*
LYDIA: I didn't know you two had the same birthday.
FELICITY: We don't. They're four days apart. El Cheapo here (points thumb at Brian) just likes to combine them.
APRIL: If I'm not mistaken, you folks didn't even have a party since 2018, right?
BRIAN: Well, you know, Covid.
FELICITY: That doesn't explain 2019.
APRIL: And instead, you had me and Lyd come in for midseason interviews about baseball and the Mariners.
BRIAN: Right, well, I figured that was okay, since it was just the three of us.
FELICITY: Excuses, excuses.
JOEL: Speaking of the Mariners, isn't it amazing that they've now won fourteen games in a --
LYDIA (holding hands over ears): LALALALALALALALA
JOEL (to April): Why is she doing that?
APRIL: She doesn't want to jinx them.

Elsewhere in the house, three separate conversations are going on: between Olen and Doug, Patti and Fireflower, and Dirk and Gloria.

DOUG: So, uh, I hear you're a superhero.
OLEN: Sort of, yeah.
DOUG: Who got his powers from... the Devil?
OLEN: Yup.
DOUG: Doesn't that make you more of a supervillain?
OLEN: It's a long story. What about you, what do you do?
DOUG: Oh, I'm a brewer. Of, you know, beer.
OLEN: Oh, cool. I love beer.
DOUG: Good beer, right?
OLEN: Of course.
DOUG: Hey, I have an idea. I have this recipe for a dark IRA called "Head of Sin." Maybe we can do some kind of collaboration, since, you know, you're associated with...
OLEN: Well, I'd really prefer not to make a big deal out of that.
DOUG: You can be the taste tester.
OLEN: Okay, I'm in.

PATTI: I love those little leaves on your arm.
FIREFLOWER: Thank you. But why?
PATTI: I dunno, they're just kind of cool. Like Poison Ivy, or something.
FIREFLOWER: Ah, a reference to the comic book character.
PATTI: Exactly.
FIREFLOWER: Are you a devoted reader of the comic books?
PATTI: Kinda, yeah. My boyfriend, Dirk, works at a comic book shop, so he brings home a lot of free samples. Or, at least, he says they're free samples.
FIREFLOWER: What are you implying?
PATTI (lowering her voice): Between me and you, I think he five-finger-discounts them.
FIREFLOWER: Five-finger discount?
PATTI: Yeah, you know...
PATTI (whispering): He steals them.
FIREFLOWER: Oh, I see. Your boyfriend does not sound like a person of high moral standards.
PATTI (rolling eyes): You're telling me. But he's a good person at heart. Mostly.

DIRK: Hey, Gloria, right?
GLORIA: Correct.
DIRK: Aren't you, like, an assassin from the future?
GLORIA: Not exactly. I'm an Enforcer. Or, at least, I used to be.
DIRK: Oh, right, like a supercop-slash-soldier.
GLORIA: That is a more accurate description. Although, Enforcers do perform assassinations from time to time as part of their regular duties.
DIRK: Well, either way, it's pretty hot.
GLORIA: I beg your pardon?
DIRK: Nothing. Hey, so, while you're hanging out here in the past, maybe you'd like to grab a drink with me sometime?
GLORIA: Grab a drink with you?
DIRK: Yeah, you know, so we can get to know each other a little better.
GLORIA (narrows eyes, looks over in Patti's direction): Isn't that your relationship partner over there?
DIRK (surprised): What? Oh, um, yeah, I guess.
GLORIA: You guess?
DIRK (sheepish): I mean, yeah, she is.
GLORIA: I may have been trained to be an unemotional human weapon, but I could still tell what you were just attempting to do.
DIRK: What? Oh, hey, no, I wasn't attempting anything, I swear.
GLORIA: I think this conversation is over.
DIRK: Okay, okay, whatever you say.

The party continues. Later, everyone sings "Happy Birthday," Joel and Felicity open presents, and cake is served. As people eat cake and resume casual conversation, we pan to a window where we see a SHADOWY FIGURE peering into the house. The camera slowly zooms in on the figure until we see that it is BRENDA, the serial killer that was mentioned earlier. She smiles.


Thursday, July 14, 2022

Go Go Kikaida!!

If you follow my band Second Player Score on any or all of the social medias, and/or are friends with me personally on Facebook, then you probably already know that our cover version of the opening theme song from Kikaida (off our Beer & Ramen EP) got some recent spots of publicity in Hawaii.
If not, then here are the links where you can check them out:

Much mahalos to Maleko, Stephanie, and Michael Tsai for featuring us! We're really happy that we can inject some fun and levity into people's lives, and for those who were fans of the show back in the day, remind them of some joyous childhood memories. If you haven't already, you can hear the song and the rest of Beer & Ramen here. Go go go!!

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Volume Six and Seven Status Update

At the last status update eight weeks ago, I said that Joel Suzuki, Volume Six (exclusive sneak peek in the photo below!) was ready for formatting and cover art, and that Volume Seven was up to 30,000 words (around 120 pages).
I'll admit, progress since then has been on a little bit of the slow side, but that's mainly because I've been busy wrapping up some other projects, including Second Player Score's new EP, Beer & Ramen.

Still, though, steady strides are being made. The formatting for Volume Six is done, and we have a preliminary sketch for the cover art (which looks really great, by the way), so we're still on track for a launch date by late summer or early fall.

And Volume Seven is now up to 42,000 words (around 168 pages) and is coming along nicely. I said in the last status update post that it was shaping up to be around 100,000 words in total, but now I think it might actually clock in at roughly the same length as Volume Six (~90,000 words). Of course, it's still early, and as I'm sure you know, things can (and probably will) change by the time I'm done. Especially since - did I say it was coming along nicely? Well, I kind of lied - I think I may need to make some serious revisions to what I have so far. But we shall see.

More updates to come!

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Beer and Ramen Is Here!

Yes, the brand-new EP from my band Second Player Score has been officially released!
You may recall this previous post from February that showed us in the studio, laying down tracks. Since then, the song count has been whittled down from seven to five, as the Japanese-language version of "Gloria" didn't make the cut and the "Collab Song" is being saved for another day, but otherwise everything else is what I said it would be.

So, where you can hear the end result? Well, just go to the Second Player Score website at, where you will find links to all the streaming options (courtesy of an exclusive arrangement with TuneCore Japan) as well as a CD purchase option. You'll also find a video we filmed for one of the songs ("Ue wo Muite Arukou") that features us drinking beer and eating ramen out of beer steins (hat tip to Yuu Japanese Tapas in Richmond, B.C.). Special shout-out goes to Visual Reel Entertainment, our representation company in Japan, for helping set up the distribution and promotion efforts.


Thursday, June 23, 2022

Coming Soon: Stuff

You know how when you write a weekly blog post and you know you're going to have a bunch of stuff to talk about in the coming weeks* but for one week there just isn't really much of anything to say? Well, this is one of those weeks. So in the meantime, please enjoy these pictures of food and cats.

* Including a new music announcement, status updates on Volumes Six and Seven, a TV Roundup post, and more

Thursday, June 16, 2022

I Knew Representation Was Important When I Was A Kid

As you've probably already guessed by now if you've been following this blog or any of my other activities, I'm a huge Star Wars fan. Have been ever since I was a kid. Even as an eight-year-old, however, I noticed that there was nobody in the original movie (Episode IV) that looked like me, specifically someone of Asian descent.
I didn't let this fact bother me or deter my fandom, however; I simply came up with the idea - apparently this process is now called "headcanon" - that all the characters in the film were technically aliens and therefore not of any one particular race or ethnicity, at least far as we know them on Earth (embarrassing admission alert: if I remember correctly, I believe I even wrote some short fanfic that said that Luke, Han, Leia et al were all descended from an original race called "Force-ians," or something like that.) Anyway, with that justification in mind, I was able to continue enjoying the subsequent entries in the franchise even though there were still no Asian actors (in George Lucas' defense, I've heard - whether this is true or not, I have no idea - that he originally wanted to cast Toshiro Mifune as Obi-Wan or Darth Vader, but was turned down).

Since then, diversity and representation in Star Wars and other works of pop culture in general has increased, which I obviously view as a positive development (there are many, many articles on the Internet that explore this topic in more detail; I'm just relating a bit of my own personal experiences here). Again, if you've been following this blog or any of my other activities, you know I'm a big proponent and supporter of diversity, inclusion, and representation. My Joel Suzuki series of novels has an Asian-American on the autism spectrum as its lead protagonist and includes a number of other characters from various minority communities. Some of my other projects (Glorified and Try Again Tomorrow being examples) also feature leads of Asian descent. I think it's important for kids to see reflections of themselves in the media that they consume, and so it's my hope that I'm doing my part so that nobody has to come up with a label as embarrassing as "Force-ian."*

* Although maybe Luke and Leia, being the children of Anakin who some theories say was directly conceived by midichlorians, could actually be considered "Force-ian"? Don't get me started