Thursday, August 31, 2023

Things Are Happening

Exciting times!
First of all, remember the film project tentatively titled Hold My Beer? In the last status update post about it back in April, I mentioned that I was working on an application for a grant from the Vancouver Culture, Arts and Heritage Commission that would help fund the project. Well, on Tuesday, it was announced that the grant has been awarded! (it's going to Autism Empowerment, who is coproducing the film with my band/multimedia production team Second Player Score). So now, we can move full speed ahead, which means you'll be seeing a lot more status update posts. In the meantime, Second Player Score has been developing our filmmaking chops by creating a music video for "Daily Grind," the song mentioned in this previous post (the picture above shows one of the sets of the video, complete with green screen).

Second, the secret recording project that I talked about in this post has been unveiled! It's called "Welcome to Punky's MixTape," and it's the new theme song for the internet variety show "Punky's MixTape" on Twitch. We've been good friends with the show and its host/creator, Punky Bruiser, for a number of years now (you may recall us having a virtual launch party on the show back in February 2021, and also playing Dungeons & Dragons as a fundraiser for Autism Empowerment a month after that), and we are honored to now be the official soundtrack for their opening credits. You can check out the song and its awesome accompanying footage on YouTube at this link, and be sure to tune in to Punky's Mixtape every Wednesday on Twitch at 4pm Pacific/7pm Eastern.

And finally, tomorrow another track off of Second Player Score's new album 4-D will be released! It's from the album's Spring Suite, it's called "Fourth Quarter Comeback," and it's about...well, it's basically about what it says in the title. Also, it features guest backing vocals from Dan's wife Molly and Kyle's daughter Fallon. We wrote it with the idea that it would make a good anthem for high school football games across the country. Here are the lyrics:

Let's see those rally caps go on
We'll seize this chance before it's gone
Stay calm I know we got this now
It's not too late to show them how

We're never giving up
We're never giving in
We're never gonna stop
Not until the end

You know there's still a lot of time
And fortune can turn on a dime
It isn't over 'til it's done
And then we'll see just who has won

We're never giving up
We're never giving in
We're never gonna stop
Not until the end

Check it out on all the usual streaming platforms!

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Volume Nine Status Update

That's right, I said Volume Nine!
In this previous post from last month recapping the Volume Seven launch party, I said something along the lines of Volumes Eight and Nine possibly being short story anthologies featuring "bonus fan material" that would fill in gaps from the main series. Also, in this other previous post from January, I said that I was considering taking a break, maybe even a very long one, before writing any more Joel-related material.

As it turned out, I did not take a break. Not a long one, anyway. Instead, I ended up writing the first draft of a 9,000-word (approximately 36 pages) short story told from Felicity's point of view that fleshes out some events of Volume Seven. You don't have to know what happens in this story to enjoy and understand Volume Seven, but I think that for those who have finished Seven, you would find this bonus material to be interesting and entertaining (I hope). And since it is related to Volume Seven, it will probably, eventually find its way into Volume Nine, which, as the "ultraviolet book," will expand on the story contained in the "violet book," i.e., Volume Seven. Hope that all made nerdy sense.

Anyway, with that done, I will put it away for a while before starting work on revisions (at which point I'm sure it will expand to probably around 10-11,000 words), and in the meantime, I'll turn my attention back to other projects...or, I might work on an idea I had for Volume Eight, which, as the "infrared book," will expand on the stories contained in the "red book," i.e., Volume One. We shall see.

Speaking of other projects, tomorrow will bring the launch of another new track off Second Player Score's new album, 4-D! This one is called "This Won't Be So Easy After All," which is basically a warning not to underestimate your opponents (like when the Mariners played the Royals recently). Here are the lyrics:

Thought I had it in the bag
But I suppose it was too soon to brag
Because the moment that I felt so smart
Was when it all began to fall apart

I tried to walk before I knew how to crawl
I tried to run but then I hit the wall
I could've won if I hadn't dropped the ball
Guess this won't be so easy after all

Feeling overconfident
I underestimated your intent
I overlooked the things that you can do
So now I've bitten more than I can chew

I tried to walk before I knew how to crawl
I tried to run but then I hit the wall
I could've won if I hadn't dropped the ball
Guess this won't be so easy after all

Assuming this would be a snap
You wandered right into my trap
Expecting just a piece of cake
You found out what it would really take

You tried to walk before you knew how to crawl
You tried to run but then you hit the wall
You had my number, I won't return your call
Guess this won't be so easy after all

Check it out on all the usual streaming platforms!

Thursday, August 17, 2023

So, I Have Thoughts About The New Miraculous Ladybug Movie

As long-time readers of this blog may know, I am a fan of the French children's animated series Miraculous Ladybug (officially, Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir). Heck, it was the reason I signed up for Netflix in the first place. I was originally turned on to it by my youngest back in 2016, but while they've outgrown it, I am still watching it to this day, since I am a fifty-something-year-old with the heart, soul, and mind of a fifteen-year-old er, I mean, who is a kid's fiction writer that needs to keep up with the latest marketplace trends.
In case you're not familiar with it, here's a brief description: it's a superhero show that is like a cross between Sailor Moon and Spider-Man where the two leads, Ladybug and Cat Noir, are high school students by day and secret identity superheroes by...well, still mostly day, and they have huge crushes on each other. Only, she likes him when they're regular kids, he likes her when they're in costume, and neither knows each other's identities even though it's totally obvious to us, the viewers (the show makes some in-universe explanations about how the costume distorts other people's perceptions of you). It mostly follows a monster-of-the-week format and is currently in its fifth season. For some reason that I'm sure has to do with complicated licensing and contractual rigamarole but ends up feeling like the film studio equivalent of a coparenting arrangement, Disney+ has all five seasons plus some bonus material, while Netflix has seasons one through three plus a newly-released full-length movie that is based on the show and is the subject of this post.

WARNING: Spoilers to follow!

Okay, so I watched the movie and...well, I have thoughts. Like:

- Why is it billed as "the long-awaited origin story"? The show has already devoted a lot of time to telling the origin story of its heroes. Also, I'm not sure I care for the movie's version of the origin story. In the show, Marinette (Ladybug) originally dislikes Adrien (Cat Noir), thinking that he's just a snobby rich kid, but ends up falling for him after Adrien proves to instead be a nice guy (if I recall correctly, he lends her his umbrella). In the movie, she basically just seems to be smitten right off the bat by his good looks. I get that you don't have as much time in a movie to flesh these things out, but to me it makes Marinette a shallower version of herself.

- Along those lines, I found Movie Marinette to be much more annoying than Show Marinette. I don't know about you, but I thought she was whiny and insecure (yes, Show Marinette is like that once in a while, but aren't we all? Movie Marinette was kind of the distilled essence of that). And wasn't it weird that Gabriel (Adrien's dad and also the Big Bad, Hawk Moth) was a hippie when he was young? The whole thing was like an alternate universe version of the Ladybug world where people randomly break out into song - oh right, I forgot to mention, it's a musical. Which also threw me off, because Marinette's singing voice sounds so much different from her speaking voice.

- I got the impression that the whole "watermelon" joke (as in, Ladybug's red costume with the black spots makes her look like a watermelon) was derived from some fan comments that the writers decided to incorporate into the script in a meta, self-deprecating kind of way.

- The movie, since it was a self-contained, entire arc, ended up resolving the main conflict of the show, which is basically derived from the fact that Marinette, Adrien, and Gabriel didn't know each other's secret identities. As the credits rolled, I wondered - now that the movie has done the "Big Reveal," how is the show going to top it?

- I did like the use of the Wilhelm Scream.

Anyway, I will say that I was entertained, and am still a fan of the franchise in general. And the fact that I have these thoughts only means that I care. I will simply think of the movie as the aforementioned alternate universe version (the show does have time travel, so it would make sense) while I continue to enjoy catching up with Season Five (Disney+ did not alert me to the fact that it had come out last fall).

On another subject, tomorrow will bring the release of another new track off Second Player Score's new album, 4-D! This one is called "Daily Grind," whose title basically says it all. Here are the lyrics:

The time goes flying by so why am I not having any fun?
'Cause when I get up, I'm so fed up I just want it to be done
Don't wanna die, don't wanna live, I'm sick of giving all I've got but fooling no one
This can't be all there is, it's like I'm free but I'm still in a prison

I'm gonna lose my mind, can't take it any more
Stuck in the daily grind, I'm tired and I'm bored
I've got to find some kind of brand-new line before I break down

I'm like a player in a game that's all the same and much too real
Go through the motions, no emotions, now I'm way too numb to feel
Don't wanna live, don't wanna die, I'm simply trying to survive through this ordeal
I know my place in the rat race is right here on the hamster wheel

I'm gonna lose my mind, can't take it any more
Stuck in the daily grind, I'm tired and I'm bored
I've got to find some kind of brand-new line so I can break out

Check it out on all the usual streaming platforms!

Thursday, August 10, 2023

More New Music Tomorrow: Challenge Accepted

Continuing with my band Second Player Score's once-a-week new music drops, tomorrow will see the debut of "Challenge Accepted," the second track from the Summer Suite and the 4-D album as a whole.
The song is an upbeat, no-frills pop-punk tune in the vein of Green Day and other similar bands about, well, accepting challenges. It's the sunny, optimistic beginning to the story behind the album (before things start to go sideways, as they always do). Of course, you could always interpret it independently from the story and just apply its positive message to your own life circumstances. Here are the lyrics:

Minding my own business when today you came along
Offering an opportunity to prove the doubters wrong
You said, "You don't have to do it," but I said, "Oh, I insist"
Because that's the kind of challenge that I just cannot resist

Bring it on

People always have their doubts, but they don't bother me
When they say that something can't be done, I tend to disagree
I don't look at obstacles and get discouraged or depressed
I just find a way to persevere and keep on doing my best

Bring it on

Living in the moment while pursuing some big dream
That I thought might be impossible or so it may have seemed
But the harder something is, the more I want to make it real
You may think I'm being stubborn, but, well, that's just how I feel

Bring it on!

Check it out on all the usual streaming platforms!

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Band Update: Ridgewalker Brewing and New Music

This past Sunday, the guys in Second Player Score and I had a great time hanging out with our good friend and SPS super-fan Jeff Alberghini at Ridgewalker Brewing in Forest Grove, OR.
Ridgewalker (discovered by drummer Kyle) is just our kind of place, with pop/nerd-culture decor and themed beers, including the India Pale Jones and the Last Cascade IPA and the Predator-inspired If It Brews, We Can Drink It! lager. About an hour drive from Vancouver, WA, we highly recommend checking it out, especially if you're into the same kind of stuff as us.

Also, starting tomorrow Friday 8/4, we will be dropping a new track off our finally-finished-after-four-years fourth album, 4-D, every Friday for the next eight weeks, at which point the album will be officially released in its entirety. First up will be the lead track from both the Summer Suite and the album as a whole, something appropriately titled "Dimension No. 4." It's an especially nerdy song that serves to sort-of-explain the whole fourth spatial dimension concept (including references to obscure historical figures like Charles Howard Hinton and Ambrose Bierce) and will also be the introductory theme song to the 4-D animated series if when it gets produced. Check it out on all the usual music streaming platforms!