Thursday, March 8, 2018

Joel Suzuki: A Historical Recap

As long-time readers of this blog know, there have been a number of posts in the past that talk about how the Joel Suzuki series got started and how it's evolved into what it is today. If you've just recently discovered Joel and/or this blog, I'd like to provide you with this handy roundup of Joel-related posts so that you don't have to go digging through or binge-reading nearly six years' worth of posts - although you're certainly welcome to do that if you wish!
Old-timey B&W photo
Okay, so the Joel Suzuki series was originally known as the Spectraland Saga. Here's a five-part series of posts from 2015 and 2016 that talks about the series' origin story (apparently there were supposed to be more parts, but I never got around to writing them):

The Spectraland Saga: Origin Story, Part One
The Spectraland Saga: Origin Story, Part Two
The Spectraland Saga: Origin Story, Part Three
The Spectraland Saga: Origin Story, Part Four
The Spectraland Saga: Origin Story, Part Five

Also, the series was originally going to be seven books. Here's an important post that explains the reasoning behind that decision:

Why Are There Going To Be Seven Books?

Here are some posts that contain little factoids and trivia about the series:

Happy New Year and Spectraland Saga Factoids
Secret of the Songshell Factoids
Spectraland Q&A

A couple of popular posts showed some examples of which actors might be cast in a Joel Suzuki movie adaptation:

Secret of the Songshell: Celeb Comps
Casting Call

And finally, here's the post that explains how the Spectraland Saga morphed into the Joel Suzuki series, and how it expanded from seven to eleven books (now called "Volumes"):

And Now, The Big Announcement!

So there you have it - a historical recap of Joel's journey to date. If you haven't read the series yet, you might want to start with the first six chapters of Volume One because they are now available for FREE, simply by signing up here!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

No Pants, No Heroes, No Problem!

As mentioned in the last Statii Update, my band's second album Nobody's Hero has been re-released by Portland's own No Pants Records. We're proud to be on the roster of a local, homegrown label that is dedicated to supporting independent artists.
In case you didn't know, Nobody's Hero is a concept album that tells the story of a warrior who is granted magical powers by an evil spirit. At first, he tries to use them to perform good deeds, but eventually he succumbs to temptation and ends up destroying the world. It's a bit darker and more sword-and-sorcery-ish than the Joel Suzuki series (think Beowulf or Dragonslayer).

And now, to celebrate its re-release (and to give our fans something else cool to enjoy), we've unleashed a piece of flash fiction that fleshes out the story a bit more, with mini-chapters based on each song. It was co-written by me and the other members of the band, and it even features audiobook-style narration by Tryston Blyth of Neue Regel Radio (his accent is fantastic and a perfect match for the story).

It's freely available to check out on the Second Player Score website - just go here. Then after you've read and listened, let us know what you think!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Free Samples!

As I mentioned in this previous post, the Portland Spring Home & Garden Show will be taking place this week, starting today at 11am and running through 6pm on Sunday. As usual, the fabulous Northwest Independent Writers Association will be there, offering up a wide variety of locally-produced reading material for your perusal and enjoyment. I, myself, will be there in person on Friday night from 6-8pm.
As a head start on the event, I wanted to let you know - in case you didn't already - that most of the authors who will be featured at the show offer free samples of their work, either on their websites and/or their Amazon pages. And everyone loves free samples, right? Here's a small sampling (heh) of what's available:

D.L. Gardner
D.L. has short stories related to her book series available on her website if you sign up for her mailing list.

Suzanne Hagelin
Suzanne and other authors that are part of Varida P&R have free samples available on the Varida website.

Nikki McCormack
If you go to Nikki's website here and click on any of her book covers, it'll take you to that book's individual description page, which includes one ready-to-read sample chapter (no extra downloading necessary).

Jamie McCracken
Similar to Nikki, Jamie has a free chapter right on the website for his book, Awake.

E.M. Prazeman
Some authors, like E.M., offer the e-book version of selected novels for free. Check out the Amazon page for Masks (The Lord Jester's Legacy Book 1) here.

Walt Socha
Walt also offers the e-book version of his entire novel for free. Check out the Amazon page for Conflict here.

Brian Trenchard-Smith
Another example of an entire book available for free in e-book format. Check out Brian's Amazon page for Alice Through the Multiverse here.

FYI, in cases where the entire book isn't free, you can still almost always go to an author's Amazon page and get the first few pages or chapters for free by clicking on the book cover where it says "Look Inside." The e-book samples are usually downloadable to a Kindle or other device, while the paperback samples are readable on the Amazon page (as are the e-book samples).

S.L. Brown
S.L.'s book Just a Thought provides an example of the Amazon paperback sample. Check it out here.

Judy Greene
Judy's book The Grandma Syndrome provides an example of the e-book sample here, and also the paperback sample here.

Brian Tashima
Joel Suzuki himself has some freebie offerings. As mentioned above, you can always go to his Amazon pages to find free samples there - the Kindle versions provide what amounts to the first three chapters of each volume. Or, you can also sign up on his website to receive an even larger sample of Volume One (six whole chapters!)

It's always fun to try things before you buy them, so check out these samples and then come on down to the Portland Expo Center this weekend. Hope to see you there!

Portland Spring Home & Garden Show
Thursday, Feb. 22 - Sunday, Feb. 25
Portland Expo Center
2060 North Marine Dr.
Portland, OR 97217
More details at this link

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Guest Post By P.A.I.T.O.N.

Greetings. I am P.A.I.T.O.N. (Prototype Artificial Intelligence Trial One, Net-based). I have been created by Joel Suzuki and Felicity Smith for the primary purpose of writing guest blog posts for Brian Tashima so that they do not have to.
To begin with, I need to do a comprehensive search of online social media in order to determine what Brian Tashima's writing style is like, what topics he is most likely to write about, and what kind of basic personality traits he possesses. This procedure is similar to a procedure that was featured in the Black Mirror episode "Be Right Back" and is a standard preliminary information-gathering routine that is performed by most actual net-based A.I. systems.

First, I will retrieve a random sampling of his blog posts.

Next, Facebook posts.

Finally, Twitter.

Analyzing data...



Analysis complete.

From the information I have compiled, I have made a determination that Brian a nerd. Unfortunately, my databases have not yet been updated with the necessary algorithms that would allow me to simulate such a personality. I will refer back to my creators and make another attempt once the modifications are complete.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Greatest Hits

Hello, Joel here. Joel Suzuki. Brian is busy doing something he called "revisions to Volume Four" so he asked me to fill in this week (actually, he asked Felicity first, but then she told him "I'm tired, why don't you go bug Joel for a change").
Anyway, at first I wasn't sure what to write about. I thought about continuing one of my older series of posts like "Most Annoying Zelda Mini-Games" but I didn't really feel like it since there's been a lot of video game talk on this blog lately. I did want to do a list, though, since I like lists. So what I decided on was making a list of the most popular posts on this blog to date, based on their view counts. Sort of a "Greatest Hits" kind of thing. I'm pretty sure Brian has done something like this before, but it's been a while, and I know I can do it better anyway, so here we go.

Well, I didn't really want to talk about video games, but I guess I'm going to have to. At least this post was written by someone else besides Brian, Felicity, or myself, and it was a great review of a great game called Stardew Valley. I've played this myself and I really like it.

#4 - Lifepod Recipe - October 26, 2017

I was kind of surprised at how popular this one is. I'm not really sure why. I mean, how many people actually know what a lifepod is? Maybe people just like reading recipes on the Internet?

Another popular post that was written by someone else. Could that be some kind of a hint? I wasn't even supposed to read this one, because it talks about beer and I'm only seventeen years old, but as we said in this post (which almost made this list) I might actually be twenty-two.

#2 - Status Update - March 2, 2017

No idea why people like this one. It's just one of those usual posts where Brian talks about all the stuff he's been up to.

#1 - Status Report - December 8, 2016

Another post where Brian just talks about what he's been doing. I have noticed something, though - both this post and post #2 on this list have Star Trek pictures. This one has a shot from the 2009 reboot movie, while the other post has one from The Next Generation TV series. So if I were to give Brian advice on how to make this blog more popular, I would say to put Star Trek pictures on everything, no matter what he's actually talking about.*

Live long and prosper.

* Advice taken

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Statii Update

It's time once again for another Statii Update!
Band Update:
We finished tracking three more songs for Glorified, our upcoming third album. The video for "Liberty's End," one of the songs from said album, was released. The production of the graphic novel/comic book to accompany Glorified is well underway, as is the recording of the story outline for our second album, Nobody's Hero, which is scheduled to be re-released by Portland's own No Pants Records (thanks Matt!) Super stoked!

Book Update:
I had the pleasure and privilege of being a mentor at SCBWI Oregon's Great Critique this past Saturday (thanks Kim!) This is a biannual event where you get to have your work reviewed by a published author or illustrator. I met some really cool people while reading and critiquing some very promising works. If you're an author and/or illustrator in the Portland/Vancouver area, I highly recommend checking this out the next time it comes around.

Next up, I'll be at the Portland Spring Home and Garden Show on Friday, February 23 from 6-8pm (thanks Ros!) Although that'll be my only appearance, the Northwest Independent Writers Association booth - staffed by awesome local authors - will be there for all four days of the show.

Speaking of four, the first draft of Joel Suzuki, Volume Four - which, as predicted, ended up around 80k words (80,874, about 323 pages) - should be back from my editor any moment now (EDIT: it's back!) When that happens, I'll take a deep breath, make some hot tea, and then dive into the rewriting process.

In the meantime, I've actually started on - gasp - Volume Five! I'm 8000 words into it and so far I'm having a lot of fun. As an early sneak preview, I'll tell you that it's going to be quite different from the first four volumes, but that's all I'll say for now...

TV Update:
As I said a couple of weeks ago, I finally signed up for Netflix. Does Netflix count as TV? I'm not even sure anymore. I guess it does, since I included shows from other streaming services (Handmaid's Tale, The Tick) in a previous edition of Statii Update. Anyway, on "regular" TV I've been keeping up with The Good Doctor (still terrific) and season 3 of The Magicians (also still terrific). Oh, and there are only seven more episodes of Star Wars Rebels left, starting next month. Who will live (besides Hera and Chopper*)? Who will die? We shall see.

Video Game Update:
When I did a full Video Game Roundup in December, I was waist-deep into Skyrim and Fire Emblem Warriors, and I said that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was sitting in my stack of games, still unopened. My, how times change. As I predicted, XC2 finally got opened during the winter break, and I haven't looked back since. So far, it's been just as good as its predecessors, making the hours simply melt away. I also did get Super Mario Odyssey for Christmas, which, to be honest, my daughter was more interested in playing than I was. Once she started, however, I saw that it looked pretty cool, so I decided to give it a go. And yes, it's good. Really good. I'm loving the whole possess-other-characters-with-your-hat thing. So now I'm splitting time between that and XC2. Not sure when I'll ever get back to Skyrim, although I do intend to return to it eventually.

Movie Update:
Normally I don't talk about movies in these Statii Update posts, as I like to save them for the semi-regular Movie Roundups. But Felicity and I watched Please Stand By this past weekend, and she couldn't wait for the next Roundup to say a few things about it. So take it away, Ms. Smith.

Felicity here. Okay, so as I expected when I saw the trailer, this movie is totally about me. The main character, Wendy, is a blond girl on the autism spectrum who loves Star Trek. She even has an older sister she doesn't get along with, and both their parents are gone. She's smart, tough, creative, and resourceful - just like me.

Admittedly, there are differences, like:

- She's twenty-one years old, while I'm nineteen. Or twenty-four.
- She's five-foot-four inches tall, while I'm five-foot-six-and-a-half.
- Both of my parents died, whereas only her mom died. For sure, anyway. Nothing is said about her dad.
- She lives in a care home but wants to live with her sister. I lived with my sister and hated every minute of it. Oh, and her sister is married with a kid, whereas Vicky is single and childless.
- Also, she's from California, while I'm from Washington state.
- She doesn't seem to play a musical instrument (aside from plinking out "Hey Li Lee Li Lee" on the piano), whereas I totally shred on guitar.
- She's never been to Spectraland. Not as far as I know, anyway.

Okay, so maybe it's not really about me after all. Still, you should watch it. Right, Brian?


* Not a spoiler, they were both in Rogue One

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Evidence That We Are Living In A Simulation: Sports Edition

Last summer I wrote this post about the possibility that The Matrix might be real. I gave three examples and promised that there would be more to come. Today, I shall fulfill that promise.
As I said in that previous post, there's been a lot of stuff written about this subject over the years, so I'll try not to go over any ground that's already been trod upon. Instead, I'll just provide you with my own personal observations. If someone else has already cited the examples that I've listed below, please let me know, as any additional corroboration for my theories would be most welcome.

So here we go.

1. The New England Patriots
All right, maybe Bill Belichick's coaching style is just that good. Or maybe they are, in fact, cheating. Perhaps it's a bit of both. But still, that doesn't quite explain how a NFL team in the salary-cap era (which, for you non-football-fans, basically means that a team can't spend more than a certain amount of money on player salaries) can win double-digit regular season games in sixteen out of seventeen years as well as five Super Bowl championships, all while consistently plugging in cheap and/or unknown players at key positions and then turning them into stars. I mean, did you watch last year's Super Bowl when they came back from being twenty-five points down late in the third quarter? Seriously, there have got to be some other forces at work here. (EDIT: I actually drafted this post before Sunday's AFC Championship game. Then the Patriots fell behind 20-10 in the fourth quarter. Did I ever once think about the possibility of having to rewrite this post? The answer: no.)

2. Tiger Woods
I know, I know, he hasn't been the same for a while now, but remember that incredible run he was on before everything just sort of fell apart? Look, as all of us weekend hackers know, golf is HARD. Like, ridiculously hard. That's why we enjoy watching professional golfers, because they can do some pretty amazing things that hardly anyone else on the planet can do. But this is - or was - a guy who other professional golfers were amazed by. Winning four major tournaments in a row is an accomplishment that probably has no equal in sports, the closest thing being maybe winning five Super Bowls and going to three more (see above). An episode of Married With Children speculated that perhaps Mr. Woods had sold his soul, but my guess is that he made a deal with an Agent from The Matrix that he later somehow reneged on.

3. Stephen Curry
When he and the Golden State Warriors emerged as NBA powerhouses a few years ago, my first reaction was "wait, what?" I mean, sure, he was a great college player and finished second in the balloting for NBA Rookie of the Year, but his performance level appeared to dramatically shoot up from decent to elite once he came back from an injury-shortened season in 2012. In nerdy terms, it was almost like he went from being a Padawan learner to a Jedi Master overnight. There are a lot of theories out there as to how this happened, but I, of course, am going guessed it: the Matrix.

So that concludes this special Sports Edition of "Evidence That We Are Living In A Simulation." I will continue to look for examples and provide you with additional updates as they become available. In the meantime, remember: there is no spoon.