An update: Broken Pieces

I am in the process of writing up “Broken Pieces,” which is one of the blog-only novels I had promised a long time ago. Many of you guys are already doing weekly series like this where you post a chapter at a time and often don’t worry about how good the grammar is or how well-developed the characters are.

I think its a chance to step out of the mindset I have had with the newspaper and my novel where I fight and fight and stress over being perfect. I mean, it happens when you win 10th place for newspaper at a national convention, but it probably isn’t healthy.

I am at the stage where, like in the music world Def Leppard reached in about 1993, where you work so hard on one thing and doing that one thing right, that it becomes tiresome and repetitive. I’m ready to play around for a while by writing a novel that comes straight from my dreams and didn’t become victim to excessive outlining.

So, I present to you a teaser for “Broken Pieces,” a look at what the first chapter will be about:

What happens when an advanced alien race stumbles upon a distress signal from a planet only seen from laser technology? They go find it obviously, but what happens when the planet under distress happens to be Earth, and an even more advanced alien race is warring with humankind?

“Broken Pieces” will attempt to answer those questions.


Band of the week: Van Halen

Van Halen is one of the greatest bands to ever exist. They started out with David Lee Roth on vocals, releasing six amazing hard rock albums from 1978 to 1984. Then the band picked up the red rocker, Sammy Hagar on vocals. With Hagar they released four albums on par with Roth’s work with the band from 1986 – 1995.

Like many Van Halen fans I choose to forget about the Van Halen III album in 1998 and their newest 2012 studio effort with Roth, A Different Kind of Truth. The latter just shows that Diamond Dave isn’t shining so bright anymore.

Still, the band has left a legacy and I chose them as band of the week because I have been on a Van Halen kick. Yesterday I listened to Van Halen, Van Halen II, Women and Children First, Fair Warning, and Diver Down. Today I listened to 1984, 5150, and OU812. I will finish listening to the other Hagar albums tonight. It feels great to own all of these great albums and I hope that if you are not a fan currently that you will give them a listen.

Here are a few of my favorite Van Halen songs:

Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love (1978)

So This is Love (1981)

Finish What Ya Started (1988)

Don’t Tell Me (What Love Can Do) (1995)

A great dream

I had a dream this morning that was so incredible and vivid that I have to write about it.

I watched a sci-fi movie last night about an alien invasion with some pretty wicked looking creatures and a human that happened to be given an ability by an alien he had killed where he lived the same day over and oven again each time he died.

So, I dreamed about a sci-fi Earth where aliens had invaded, except that they were legitimately creepy. The aliens in my dream where like a cross between the Lambent on the video game Gears of War and a sophisticated religious experience-seeking hordes like in Halo. Pretty intense like I said…except creepier.

The dream was a little strange and there seemed to be some influence from my own life, such as my actual ring appearing in the dream as some sort of weapon.

I won’t get into the details because it would be fun to eventually write as a weekly occurring short story for this blog.

My Saturday of nothing

I didn’t accomplish much on Saturday. I slept in, went to a family barbecue for a few hours and then came home and did nothing but go on social media and watch a movie.

The movie was “Edge of Tomorrow,” which came out last year. It stars Tom Cruise. The movie was interesting and definitely better than the last Tom Cruise movie I watched. It wasn’t bad, I just didn’t really feel it was memorable.

I wish that I had been able to get some writing in m novel done today, but it doesn’t look like that will happen until next weekend.

On another note, I leave for the national high school journalism convention in Denver on Thursday! I can’t wait.

Album review: Three Days Grace, “Human”

I originally wrote and published this article with JagWire newsmagazine on their website and it has been submitted to Best of SNO for possible inclusion on their website. 

– Chase –

Rock group Three Days Grace released their fifth studio album, “Human,” March 31 to stores everywhere and for digital download.

The album is the first with new vocalist Matt Walst following the departure of Adam Gontier in 2014 to pursue a solo career. Matt Walst, who rose to fame as the vocalist of rock band My Darkest Days following the band’s breakthrough album in 2010, is the brother of bassist Brad Walst.

Matt Walst had worked with Three Days Grace before and is credited as a composer on the band’s 2012 album “Transit of Venus.”

The band is known for mainstream rock hits such as “I Hate Everything About You” in 2003, “Animal I Have Become” and “Pain” in 2006 and “Never Too Late” in 2007.

“Human” follows a generic 21st century mainstream rock formula with repetitive lyrics and that somewhat muffled and electronic sound that all modern bands seem to have. The album isn’t exciting like the 20th century work of groups such as Van Halen or Def Leppard, but no one expects it to be either.

The album starts out with its third promotional single, “Human Race.” The beginning of the song sounds like awful electronic pop music for about 40 seconds, but the hard rock guitar riffs and vocals start right after and the electronic sound disappears until later in the song. Matt Walst’s vocals are strong during the verses, but they are a bit underwhelming during the chorus. The guitar solo starts at the last third of the track and it is probably one of the better guitar solos of all of the mainstream rock bands today. The song is definitely a standout for the album.

The album then proceeds to the mainstream rock radio hit “Painkiller,” a fan favorite off of the album. KISW – the Rock of Seattle – seems to play the song every two hours or so and has been doing so since the single dropped in late 2014. The song doesn’t differ too much from other rock hits of the century, but that doesn’t mean its bad. The song is the best one on the album.

“Fallen Angel” is a slower song that seems hit ready, yet has not been released as a single. The song does offer a glimpse at the upper vocal range of Matt Walst and an easy to follow chorus and lyrical structure, but not much else.

“I Am Machine” was the second mainstream rock hit from the album, played about as frequent as “Painkiller” was. The song’s chorus comes off as catchy and odd as it cruises through at multiple points of the song in a crescendo of intensity.

The seventh track on the album, “So What,” is fierce and on the verge of being a rock n roll anthem, which was likely the point. The song’s lyrics are rebellious in nature like all great rock anthems. It is hard to resist the urge to throw both fists in the air as the bend belts out big backing vocals during the chorus that make it a standout on the album.

“Car Crash” is a self explanatory title. The entire album seemed to be heading in the right way until this song came up. It is metaphorical for a love gone bad, but the song really just disappoints, sounding very much like the car crash it mentions.

“One Too Many” is very reminiscent of the type of music Matt Walst made with My Darkest Days: dark and disturbing vocals about love that lead up to powerful choruses. The verses of the song come across like whispers and warnings, low and scratchy.

Overall, the album is surprisingly pleasant. The first half rings true as a rock album while the second half seems to slowly taper off and fade. Vocalist Matt Walst has proven himself to be superior or at least as talented as Gontier on “Human,” as the album is better than “Transit of Venus,” which shows that Three Days Grace can continue to make good music in the future.

Public speaking

I passed my qualifying speech for Senior Boards today. As a part of my school district’s graduation requirements I had to create a portfolio of my high school work and future plans, complete 20 hours of community service, and prepare a 10-15 minute speech that answers four questions the judges ask.

Today was the qualifying speech, which I had to pass to move onto Senior Boards. I passed the speech with “exceeds expectations,” so I guess public speaking is an undiscovered strong suit. Now I just have to wait until May 1st to complete my final speech, which will be in front of a panel of 3-4 community members.

Catch up on what you may have missed

The following have been posted on my blog during the past 10 days:

March 28, 2015

Current writing project: a dystopia – I introduce my new novel and its main points

March 29, 2015

World-building: how far do you go? – I pose the question, how much do you world-build?

March 30, 2015

A great article – I share an inspiring story by the New York Times about a Grunge-era rocker turned American war hero. One of the better pieces I have read by the Times.

March 31, 2015

Introducing the cast of the Peacemakers – I introduce the main characters of my new novel, the Peacemakers

April 1, 2015

Camp NaNoWriMo blues – I share my struggle with Camp NaNoWriMo this year.

April 2, 2015

Expanding my music library – This past week I have added lots of new (and old) music to my collection, including a few vinyl records.

April 3, 2015

Rock chicks: funny Easter video – A little bit of fun for Easter

An opening scene – I share my thoughts on the opening scene for my new novel, the Peacemakers.

April 4, 2015

Paladins: a novella that never happened – I share the first few paragraphs of a novella I tried to write in 2014.

Cars – What is my dream car? What car do I currently own? Find out by reading this blog entry.

Band of the week: Silvertide – Listen to what one of the greatest musical groups of the 21st century have to offer.

April 5, 2015

A FOCUS article sneak-peak – High schoolers reporting on sex-trafficking? Well, its happening.

Spring flowers – A few photos of the flowers blooming in my yard.

The Peacemakers: the opening – The opening scene of my new novel, the Peacemakers.

April 6, 2015

Chinese flag at Washington State Capitol: my response – My response to the tea party/conservative backlash over the flying of the Chinese flag at the Wash. State Capitol building April 6.

First day back – Spring break is over. What does that mean for me?

Chinese flag at Washington State Capitol: my response

On April 6 the flag of the Peoples’ Republic of China was flown in the honorary position at the Washington State Capitol building in Olympia. A group of tea party conservatives marched on the capitol and demanded that the flag be taken down, with many conservative news outlets calling Governor Jay Inslee a communist and a traitor.

The entire thing has been not only taken out of proportion but out of complete disregard of the reasoning and the law behind it. Allow me to take you in for a closer look at why this isn’t a big deal.

The Chinese ambassador to the United States was in Olympia to meet Governor Inslee. It is customary to fly the flag of a visiting country, as seen frequently at the White House over the past century when foreign leaders and diplomats are in town. There is no difference at the state level. It is customary to do so and always has been.

Second, it is written in state law that the flag of another country be flown in the honorary spot to the right of the flag of the United States and to the left of the state flag, as seen here from the Washington Secretary of State website:

  1. U.S. flag in the position of highest honor (the observer’s extreme left or the highest point in a grouping of flags).
  2. The flag or flags of other nations ranked in alphabetical order.
  3. The Washington State flag.

Yes, China has some pretty bad working conditions and human rights problems. I understand that and I will not support the Chinese government, but the tea party has gone a little too far this time in trying to publicly shame democrats. Nothing was unusual about the event except that a few conservatives got angry at state protocol and it proceeded to be blown out of proportion on social media.

And to all the conservative-slanted websites saying “patriots” tore down the Chinese flag, they did not. A state worker took it down on routine schedule, as seen on the video feature on the Huffington Post website. Get your facts straight.

First day back

Spring break is officially over. Thousands of students in my district forced themselves out of bed bright and early this morning to go to school, crying at the red flashing light of their alarm as it read “5:30” or “6:30” or maybe even “7:30.”

It was so nice not having any homework or tests or busywork for nine days, only a blank canvass to begin writing on and lots of time for my eye infection to heal. Now its back to the beat of the senior year drum, pushing all of us towards the end of high school.

April will be a stressful month, but its also the home stretch.

Spring flowers

I did a bit of yard work yesterday because it wasn’t raining  or hailing. I mowed the grass in the backyard and helped trim the trees and bushes a bit. Many of the flowers are starting to bloom, such as the tulips.

I also helped to design our plan for the yard. This spring and summer we are adding in new garden boxes, replacing the old garden boxes, making a new fire pit area with benches, and digging up and resurfacing the French drain system.