I haven’t been able to apply much energy towards social media these past couple years in part to many things. Even preparing the wedding last May was a relatively simple task compared to all the anxiety following my job, the flooded home, our battles with the insurance companies and the ongoing renovations that forced my wife and I to change apartments seven times last year. It took so much out of me, I’ve long since abandoned karaoke, geek debates and blogging just to take time for myself whenever I can get it.
The good news is that this year, we found ourselves a nice new home. We got married, took time out for Paris, have frequent board game nights, and in a week’s time, I’m leaving Nerdcorps and starting at my new animation job at Icon Creative. While I knock on wood as I write this, I feel like my brain’s been spending 2015 slowly recovering from the trainwreck that was 2014. I feel like Uma Thurman in “Kill Bill” finally wiggling her big toe.
It’s not to say I have given up my ambitions, but I approach a lot of my projects at a much slower pace now for sanity’s sake, even at the cost of going dark for extended periods of time.
Marriage in May
Marriage-wise, Ning and I didn’t do anything too fancy, just a combination wedding/reception in an Italian restaurant with 40 friends and family members in attendance back in May. My aunts were kind enough to make a cake (pictured right) and set up treats and we even got a bilingual commissioner to translate for my Chinese in-laws.
Honeymoon in Paris
Honeymoon in Paris went well enough. We ticked off all the essential must-sees, visited the countryside, and had lots of croissants. I also learned that, despite being bilingual, my French still sucks enough that no one in France wants to hear it.
Novels in Progress
My sequels to “Ancients’ Royale” were meant to come out over the course of last year, but I found the problem with releasing books is waiting for the editors who don’t have time to read them. So for a year and a half, I’ve had two nearly-finished books sitting in Google Docs waiting for proofreads. I’m tempted to release both as-is and suck up any criticism over my grammar.
New Game in the Works
Life might be a little easier if I stuck to AGS for all my game design needs (Wadjet Eye Games gets along with it great, so why not?), but part of me just REALLY wants to learn Unity so that I can get all those extra perks that come with 3D animation (camera angles, higher frame rate, choice of hats, etc.) I’ve been prototyping a small game since the summer to learn Unity for demo purposes. With luck, my three room game “Chester Cornfield: Old Timey Detective” could be out later this year (or halfway next year at this rate), and if public interest allows, could be expanded into a full-sized commercial game. Which then begs the question…
Do I need a new company name?
Something that’s been bugging this past while is the future of “Box of Mystery”. To me, I feel my personal brand hit its stride with the “Ducktalez 7” finale and SQInc’s “secret” ending. To work on commercial games like Cornfield requires either a new brand name or a complete overhaul of the site, which I’m not too keen on. Does “Mystery Sandwich” or “Socks of Mystery” grab anyone as a good game company name? Ning insists the name include “Ramen” or “Monkey”. “Ramen Monkey Games?” Sorry – don’t mind my textual rambling. Just brain-farting here.
Sorry for the extended silence, everyone. Thanks to work, life, and my new-found appreciation for napping, it’s been hard to keep up with my blog and I really wanted to provide some updates on future projects.
For starters… I’m getting married! I know this seems out-of-left-field since I rarely blog about my personal life these days, but for anyone following my Facebook, you were probably well aware that the last year of my life featured a lot of pictures of myself and a special someone being that disgustingly cute couple so many people love to hate. Sorry, folks, I’m a hopeless romantic. She’s a wonderful woman, sings like an angel, cooks like a pro, and was patient enough to let me stay up until three in the morning every night working on “Ducktalez 7”. And when that was done, she kept encouraging me to make another, so I’m 99 + 1% sure she’s a keeper.
“Ducktalez 7” opened well, got a lot of positive reviews, and then the buzz died down. A lot of people have been asking if this is going to be my final episode and quite honestly… I want to say yes. It’s been a ride, and I really wanted to make thirteen of these in total, but this might have to be where I cut the line and set it free. My voice has been giving out and constantly rerecording the voices for this episode was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. It would be nice to revisit this series every decade with a couple new episodes, but if that ever happens, expect shorter stories. For now, I’m almost inclined to retire the “Box of Mystery” brand on this episode so I can move on to original work.
Speaking of original work, a lot of this year will be devoted to writing. Since I already spend eight hours a day animating at work, I’ve been burning out a lot more frequently at home. Writing is more relaxing, so I’m going to continue my “Ancients’ Royale” series with two more installments. I also want to get some design documents together for a few games ideas I have and see if any are worthy of a Kickstarter. I really want to get a team together for my next project, so when the time comes, I want to make sure I know what we’re all getting ourselves into. I don’t know what that project will be yet, but something in the vein of “Final Fantasy” wouldn’t be too far off.
Otherwise, the rest of this year will be renovations, wedding planning, and a few trips (including Vegas and China). I’ll keep you all posted on developments as they come. Thanks for sticking with me all these years! More to come.
(And I’ll post my Top Movies after I finished going over a few more of them. Too many good ones come out in December!)
Quick additional update: Sometime last year, I got to storyboard and animate my own solo “slug-isode” for Slugterra. The company just put it up on their channel, so watch and enjoy!
I’ve mentioned in an earlier post that I do a heck of a lot of karaoke these days. Over the course of the year, I’ve grown into one of those table-hopping guys who knows the karaoke bars inside out and has no qualms about going up on stage and completely embarrassing themselves singing Alanis Morissette just to see if I can. It’s pretty fun. Plus, it’s a great way to collect high-fives if your song selection is just right.
But there are some unwritten rules for karaoke that non-regulars have to figure out for themselves. One in particular involves knowing which songs not to sing, no matter how much you want to. So I picked out five particular songs which always seem like a good idea at first until they happen. Avoid these and both the host and regulars will not secretly plan your demise for the next several minutes.
1. Frank Sinatra – My Way
Nothing against Sinatra; the song itself is great. But because this is a front-runner for his greatest hits, it’s also the go-to song for any guy who wants to show off his pipes. The problem is, much like Semisonic’s “Closing Time”, it’s a show-stopper. It only delivers the impact you want if it’s the last song of the night. Otherwise, you’re just screwing with everybody’s biological clocks. Sing Instead: Anything else by Sinatra. Heck, try Tony Bennett. Maybe even Michael Buble. You’ve got options here.
2. Elton John – Don’t Let Your Sun Go Down On Me
This is the #1 most frequent Elton John song I hear at these venues. Usually, the people singing it are coming out of bad relationships, but no one should ever bring this baggage to karaoke. Your sadness is poisoning the venue and driving away business. The host doesn’t need your attitude. Either perk up or get out. Sing Instead: Crocodile Rock. Philadelphia Freedom. Benny and the Jets. Hakuna Matata. Damn it, just pull yourself together! And stop creeping on young girls! You’re the reason they stop coming to these things!
3. Eminem – Stan
You remember how awesome this song was in high school? I bet you also remember that it’s seven minutes long, right? And that for karaoke, you HAVE to sing the rap part? You can’t just go up, sing the Dido part, and wait for the rap part to be over. And if you’re actually rapping, this is once again a buzz-kill of a song since it’s about a guy who descends into insanity and kills himself and his pregnant girlfriend. Also, it’s completely unsing-alongable. Sing Instead: “Without Me”, “Just Lose It”, or “The Real Slim Shady”. People love singing along with these ones and they will thank you.
4. Pussycat Dolls – Hush Hush Hush Hush
No. Stop. Just stop. No more. Ever again. I will strangle something. Sing Instead: No. If Pussycat Dolls is your first go-to song, you’re not allowed to sing.
5. Gotye – Somebody That I Used To Know
This is a cursed song. Every instance I’ve seen of two people going up to sing it has ended badly, either on-stage or on the floor. Arguments break out, the song rotation gets out of whack, cats and dogs sleep together – total anarchy. Something about it brings out the worst in people. Not to mention it always features a guy singing while a girl awkwardly stands there for three minutes waiting for her part and pretending to be naked. This song in particular always boasts the most uncomfortable four minutes of stage time and will ruin your night somehow. Sing Instead: Love Shack.
Hope that helps!
UPDATE: New songs will be added here as they start re-surfacing.
6. The Beatles – Hey Jude: This is three minutes of singing followed by four minutes of “Na na na na na”. You have been warned.
Sorry this one’s been taking so long! Do I have good excuses? Absolutely. Karaoke, girlfriend, writing a novel, working on Slugterra and dressing like a unicorn are all good excuses. So don’t worry – this one will get out the door eventually. And hopefully, the final cut won’t be 40 minutes long either.
Time for some updates on that whole “Geeks vs. Nerds” thingy I’m doing.
So back in December, I decided to go nuts and tackle two debates at once for one show. This was a monstrous mistake as prepping for a debate about four characters ate up way too much of my time.
First up was “Mr. Freeze vs. Sub-Zero: Who’s the coolest, cold-blooded killer”. I was on Team Freeze and I’ll damned if we didn’t have one hell of a case. Mr. Freeze should have been an automatic win on the grounds that 1) He is freakin’ Tony Stark meets John Lennon as far as being cool goes. 2) he is literally cold-blooded, and 3) you know those people he freezes? They’re dead. Nobody who gets covered in ice gets preserved or we’d have woolly mammoths popping out of glaciers. Ever see the same Gothamite twice? No, because Freeze killed them. Let’s match that up against Sub-Zero. Sub-Zero is 1) not the coolest because he’s a terrible ninja. Can you see him? Yes? Then he’s a terrible ninja. 2) Not cold-blooded. He is warm-blooded and can actually freeze himself solid by accident. 3) Killer? No. Everyone he kills comes back for the sequel. Also, take note: Sub-Zero can only do two things: freeze and hit. He can’t freeze Mr. Freeze, and even Batman can’t punch through his tank armor (that only ever worked once). The only way Batman beats Freeze is with science, and he needs more and more science every time to do it. Sub-Zero doesn’t have science. Therefore, Sub-Zero cannot beat Freeze. Unless all the loudest people in the room are rooting for him no matter what.
Secondly for December was: “Jack Skellington vs. The Grinch: Who’s the greatest unintentional holiday savior?” I landed on Team Jack and we got wasted just because Team Grinch decided to do theirs in rhyme. We could have sang, but didn’t have time for rehearsal. In any case, we had to argue on who saved Christmas most by accident, so we busted out some long-term effects for Jack’s screw up. 1) He made Santa go public, reaffirming people’s belief in Santa and therefore Christmas. 2) Jack’s merchandise helps boost the economy every holiday, and our heavy-hitter 3) By scaring people into carrying weapons on Christmas, Jack has accidentally helped us prep for the onslaught of Santa-Bot in the year 3000, along with any other holiday threats, thus saving not only Christmas, but the world. Our arguments against Grinch? Well, in reality, Ron Howard’s movie alone ruins Christmas every year, but our arguments meant diddly-squat when the other team is rhyming.
My major mistake with the last two debates was over-preparation. Reason being that the audience absolutely, positively, did not care about any “expanded universe” BS. Nobody had ever seen “Grinch Night”, so my arguments about the Grinch developing chemical weapons were lost. And nobody reads comic books, so when I say that Freeze can bust out of prison with just his bare hands and a crayon, then once again, I might as well be writing fan-fiction.
Ultimately, this led me to an epiphany: nobody comes to these shows to see anyone win. So let’s screw with their heads.
So, tonight: “Yoda vs. Gandalf: Who’s the wisest mystical mentor?” I did almost no research in prepping for Team Yoda, yet in spite of our Superman win a couple months back, tonight’s loss was still one of our best debates. Quick: what’s Yoda’s greatest accomplishment? If you said getting a Wookie ride from Chewbacca, then you are right. If you said teaching Obi-Wan to set Hayden Christenson on fire, you are also right. If you said appearing on a napkin doing it doggy-style with Gandalf as part of our new “expanded universe”, then damn, you were probably sitting at our table. Our tomfoolery even made the host shoot himself with his own nerf gun (a first for the show).
Ultimately, we lost because most of the audience had watched “The Hobbit” in the last week and still remembered the Star Wars prequels, but I can honestly say, we generated some heavy-duty laughs tonight. On the way out, some guy even stopped to thank us for saving the show.
And all we had to do is make everyone crave Wookie rides.
I think I’ll take a break from this stuff for a while now. Granted, next month it’s an all-women show, so I’m out anyway. But at this point, it’s starting to feel like work and I think I’d spend my nights doing something else. Like making Vegeta dance Gangnam Style.
P.S: My knowledge of Mr. Freeze and Sub-Zero came in surprisingly useful the other night at Denny’s, when at three in the morning, six of us randomly realized that these two characters could safely play ice trombones without melting them. I don’t know how this qualifies at useful, but it sounded useful after a couple tequilas and a Grand Slam. Do with this information as you will.
P.S.S. Any other time, Yoda should have taken this. His wisdom even doubles as relationship advice when you add “in bed” to anything he says.
P.S.S.S. I do agree with Gandalf’s non-pedo stance on Hobbits. They’re like the towels of Middle-Earth. Never leave home without one. Just never leave home with Gandalf. There will be spiders.
After months of addressing stage fright through karaoke, I put my mettle to the test by participating in a live “Geeks vs. Nerds” debate at Yuk-Yuk’s Comedy Club tonight. “Geeks vs. Nerds” is a comedy debate show where two teams of three argue over which fictional character is better. My roommate hosts it, so that’s sort of how I got involved. Tonight’s show featured the match-ups “Tintin vs. Indiana Jones” and “Superman vs. Goku”. I wound up on Team Superman.
I seriously had no idea that Superman costume of mine would get so much mileage this year.
The first debate between Indy and Tintin went hilariously wrong as Team Tintin berated Indy’s “let’s use child labor and get Hitler’s autograph” policy, while Team Indy printed out some portrait-sized images of Tintin punching black people in the Congo. In the end, Tintin won the “Best Globe-Trotter” award on the grounds that by calling dibs on the moon, he’d effectively trotted more globes than Indy.
Our following debate was a bit more dramatic. The audience was clearly pro-Goku when we started, but as time went on, we think we pulled a “Rocky IV” with the crowd. By the end, it was a close call, but Team Superman pulled through.
My friend Zach had the best one-liner of the night with his “Goku is the #1 cause of world hunger” jab. As the debate was in regards to who was better suited for protecting Earth, it was in our favor that Goku was a walking natural disaster who allowed three planets to be destroyed under his watch. The other team pulled out some great jabs too, and even produced a skit depicting the climactic battle. Our version of the battle ended in Superman using rainbow-colored kryptonite to turn gay just so he could memory-erase Goku with a kiss.
All in all, it was a great night. Plus we followed it up with drinks at the EXP Bar (this fancy new video game bar in the city where I’m now apparently known as ‘Commander Shepard’ just because the waiter encourages nicknames at the table to make separating bills easier.)
Not sure what else to write. That’s what I did today.
Here’s an inspirational picture I’d been looking at to pump myself up for the debate.
I’ve been going to karaoke a lot since March. And no, it’s not just because it’s a good opportunity to network with people and have drinks with many beautiful women every week. Those parts are perks. No, I’m actually a singer at heart.
I’ve been attending about six different karaoke bars since I moved to Vancouver. At first, it was myself and my friend Tegan as we cruised the city scoping out locales. Once we met more people, our karaoke crew grew and grew until it actually performed mitosis and separated into two different crews (well, three, but one of them turned into a D&D crew instead). Eventually I had to cut back on places just to keep track of everyone. But the funny thing is, in my travels, I’ve discovered that essentially each karaoke bar is host to the exact same crowds (some rowdier than others, of course). There are ongoing patterns with the people who come and their song choices. It’s almost predictable in an eerily welcome kind of way.
I’ve managed to break these personality-types down to a list of twelve. This isn’t a straight-up list of the ONLY kinds of karaoke people, but rather a list of the most frequent types I’ve seen perform thus far. See if you can spot yourself in here.
The New Guys
The first thing new guys will do is look for the book and then read the WHOLE THING. This takes them about twenty minutes. Then they find one of their favorite songs, go up on stage and discover first-hand that just because you know the chorus to a song doesn’t mean you know the rest. We’re cheer them on anyway because the new guys are entitled to some slack. That is, providing they don’t attempt singing both the guy and girl parts of “Love Shack” by themselves.
The Happy Camper
He is a regular. He is the worst singer you’ve ever heard. He will somehow be up on stage at least five times a night. He will always sing the same songs. He’s completely unaware of how terrible he sounds. Yet his passion for getting up there and raping our eardrums is infectious. Do not allow this guy anywhere near Pink Floyd. Especially “Comfortably Numb”; he is not aware that this is a seven minute song. He might also attempt to sing both the guy and girl parts to “Love Shack” as well. I cannot stress enough that this is never a good idea.
Not always necessarily married, but they might as well be. They insist on singing duets. The girl is usually the talented one. The guy’s just really, really drunk and laughing his ass off though most of the song. They will always pick songs from “Grease” or they’ll jump right on “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” and apologize in advance for the next eight minutes. “Love Shack” is not recommended in this case either, but they WILL sing it.
They sing Madonna. They sing Lady Gaga. They sing ABBA. They might be good. They might be awful. They always travel in packs. The crowd can easily sing along with them, or just as easily tune them out. They are always the first ones to start dancing, even if there’s no room for it. The party-girls are the background noise at every karaoke night. For guys, they are also the eye candy, and we will cheer on their singing regardless of talent. Except for “Love Shack”.
Some guys are usually mediocre singers at best, so they only sing songs with novelty value where the crazier they perform, the better the song becomes. They always put on memorable performances as they insist on jumping around on-stage, over-doing lyrics, and singing Spice Girls songs with their bros for laughs. They can sometimes do “Love Shack”, but more often than not, they can’t.
These girls can SING. Much like the attention-deprived males, they’re also entertainers at heart, but they tend to replace comedy with sheer talent and heart-stopping sexiness. They dominate at Beyonce, Carrie Underwood, Christina Aquilera, Mariah Cariey, and even nail “Lady Marmalade” every time. Any time one of these girls is on stage singing Adele’s “Someone Like You”, most guys will forget they hate that song long enough to throw out some whistles and cat calls. They never sing “Love Shack” because they know better.
The Guy Who’s Stealing All The Girls!
Seriously! This guy is up on stage every twenty minutes doing a duet with another girl. And when he’s not up on stage, he’s on the dance floor teaching them to salsa. I’d hate this guy if I wasn’t so desperately trying to be him. Or if he sang “Love Shack”!
Do you remember the 90’s? Because the hipsters do. Alanis Morrisette, Garbage, Nirvana, Marcy Playground, No Doubt, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, Weezer, and Stone Temple Pilots are just the beginning for their song selection. They’re also Amy Winehouse fans and like to dress the part. They’re normally very good singers and have never heard of “Love Shack”.
I love how the bartender, chefs and waitresses always have a few songs ready to go. And they’re always awesome at it. And none of those songs are ever “Love Shack”.
Not just Sinatra, but these guys sing anything slow and old school that’ll get the ladies swooning. Elton John, Billy Joel, Bing Crosby, Marvin Gaye, Elvis Presley – and it always sounds authentic. They even look the part. Always wearing fancy suits with just the right amount of musk. I’d hate these guys if I didn’t want to be them so much. Also, blah blah blah “Love Shack”.
The Stealth Bomber
Nobody knows where she came from, but she blows us all away. She out-performs the original song. She hits notes we’ve never heard. She makes the room go quiet. She is always a she. Why doesn’t she have a record contract yet? Nobody knows. And then she’s gone. She could probably nail “Love Shack” too if she tried.
Me & Bobby
So one time, me and my cousin Bobby went up and sang “Love Shack” at my bro’s wedding. We kicked ass.
It’s taken me forever, but I’m finally back in the animation field. And this time, it’s at a real animation company. Not like that other place where I got hired just because I knew which button made a cube.
I started work Monday at Nerd Corps Entertainment here in Vancouver. Nerd Corps is famous for their Saturday morning cartoons, including “Dragon Booster”, “Storm Hawks”, and “League of Super Evil”. I’ve been watching these shows for years, and have been applying to this company for just as long, so I’m stoked to be a part of their new project. It’s been really exciting getting acquainted with the studio environment and I frequently find myself more and more eager to wake up in the morning just so I can go back to work. As for what I’m working on… well, I’ll let you know when we get the trailer online. But I can say this much: it’s going to rock.
So if you notice me slacking on Ducktalez or anything else I’ve been promising, this is why. I’ll get back on my other projects eventually. Always do. Until then, I’m off to do what I love.
I wasn’t going to post this cartoon until the final audio was in place, but I think I’d like to take advantage of my site’s seemingly enormous web traffic. I just submitted my final project “Wasabi Guy” to the CG Students Awards, and I need your help in getting a ton of votes so I can win lots of cool stuff. And all of that cool stuff can be used to create more cool stuff for this site down the road. Everybody wins!