Friday, February 26, 2021

I'm back for one post only to plug my first book, If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You

So much shit has happened since the time I wrote my final blog post here in 2017. A pandemic that's killed so many. The current and upsetting rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans. An unfortunate wave of anti-Black police violence. The worst American president in my lifetime. (His final three years in Washington were responsible for tons of terrible shit, including the mishandling of the pandemic, the aforementioned rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, concentration camps full of immigrant kids, and a white supremacist insurrection at the Capitol.) The climate crisis. My mother's stroke symptoms. (Her condition led to me gradually moving back to my parents' house to help my father take care of her, as well as to stay safe from the dual dangers of COVID and MAGAt dumbfucks who want to kill me because they think I'm Chinese. I still haven't even finished the process of moving yet, mostly due to a wintertime lockdown in the Bay Area.)

And yet in the midst of those messy three years full of countless (and sometimes stress-inducing) distractions, I was somehow able to write and publish my first book.

The new book is why I've briefly returned to this blog, despite saying farewell to the blog in 2017, to promote it. (Even though I don't write posts anymore for this blog, I still come back to Blogspot from time to time to remove from my blog any dead links or dead embeds for videos that were deleted from YouTube.) If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You: The Movies and TV Shows Some of Us Regretted Not Catching Until Later ($14.99 in B&W paperback form or $9.99 in e-book form and available only on Amazon) came about because, after I was fired from a coding job I grew to hate, I was unable to find another job for eight years, so I gave up on the job search and kept myself busy by writing content for both this Blogspot blog and the Tumblr blog Accidental Star Trek Cosplay (a blog I continue to update and post content for because it has always been a much less time-consuming and stress-inducing blog, and it also has way more readers than this one did). But I got sick and tired of writing long-form blog posts and online articles for free, so in 2017, I quit this Blogspot blog and vowed to myself that I would never again write for free anything that's long-form. (This long-form post to plug If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You is an exception.) I wasn't ready to start a Patreon or a Ko-fi to earn some money, so I decided instead to write and self-publish a book. (I was also tired of getting rejected every time I pitched a short story idea to an editor or tried to get a writing job. That's why I've gone the self-publishing route.) At first, the book was supposed to be a comedic sci-fi novel, but then a little something called writer's block got in the way.

After three failed attempts at writing novels, I chose to do a non-fiction book instead. I began working in May 2018 on the book that evolved into If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You. I took a few of my blog posts about watching older movies for the first time and did updated or expanded versions of those posts while surrounding them with tons of completely new material. The new stuff in If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You includes essays on Lawrence of Arabia, Playtime, Blue Thunder, Near Dark, The Heroic Trio, MTV's Daria, Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy movies, and Schitt's Creek.

Here's me in 2009, signing copies of a book I contributed material to, but I developed mixed emotions about the book 10 years after its publication. Sunny Kim was totally right about her frustrations with the book and its colorism, and that's all I'm going to say here about that book. The one great thing about the book though was that it led to me becoming friends with Janice Chiang, a former Marvel Comics letterer whose work I liked when I was a kid who read issues of Alpha Flight and The Transformers.

If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You took me two years to write and self-proofread. From November 2019 to October 2020, I was either proofreading the book by myself or making lots of minor tweaks to the book's longest chapters, like a chapter in which I discussed watching seven of the eight Harry Potter movies for the first time. (Yeah, that became a particularly interesting chapter to rewrite during J.K. Rowling's transphobic meltdown.) November 2019 to October 2020 will go down as a really unusual year for me (just as how it was an unusual year for everyone who survived it): In addition to finishing work on my first book, I was dealing with life during COVID while acting as a caregiver to a parent and learning more about how my deep hatred of certain sounds like leaf blower noises is the neurological condition known as misophonia.

Despite having a lot on my plate in 2020, If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You is finally out, and it's the type of book a Filipino American film nerd like myself has always wanted to see out there: a book written from a point of view that just does not get a lot of representation in journalism or publishing simply because there aren't a ton of Filipino American writers who write about film or TV. I was a fan of the YouTube channel National Film Society, which Patrick Epino and Stephen Dypiangco founded to give voice to Filipino American film nerds like themselves (the channel went inactive for a couple of years, but it came back in 2018 without Stephen as a co-host), and I always thought Patrick and Stephen should have put out a book about film. I would have bought such a book in a heartbeat.

This is a peek at If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You's chapter on The Spook Who Sat by the Door, one of the late Nipsey Hussle's favorite flicks, as well as a forgotten film about Black liberation that became especially resonant in 2020.

So why should you buy If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You, even though the "I was late to the party regarding this popular movie or TV show, and here's what I think of what I finally watched..." thing has been done to death by film discussion podcasts and pop culture blogs? First of all, the book gives a spotlight to the same type of underrepresented voice that makes National Film Society's videos stand out on YouTube. Second, despite the book's length (462 pages), it's irreverent and full of humor, and during a time when COVID has confined you to staying home and watching lots of streaming services with so much fucking content, you need a guide like my book to simplify your search for content and direct you to movies and shows you missed out on before COVID and now have probably become curious about while in lockdown.

Another thing that makes this collection of essays stand out is the fact that it contains recipes for movie and TV-related meals and cocktails. Before COVID, I was becoming fascinated with movie-inspired cuisine and themed meals that are meant to be enjoyed while watching a movie, whether they were items on the menus at Alamo Drafthouse and Nitehawk Cinemas or the chimichangas I bought for myself and then ate while watching a DVD of Deadpool 2 I rented from Nowadays, of course, I don't think I'll be going back to the movie theater any time soon, especially when the pandemic is still killing people (I discuss at length my refusal to set foot in a theater again in the book), but the sidebars for several of the chapters in If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You reflect my pre-COVID enjoyment of movie-inspired cuisine. One of the chapters is on the 1980 cult classic Used Cars, which I never watched until 2015, and, to me, the perfect snack for a rewatch of Used Cars is lemon bars, so the Used Cars chapter is accompanied by a sidebar on how to make lemon bars.

Another chapter is on Invader Zim, a show I never watched until 2019, and it's accompanied by a recipe for, of course, GIR the robot's favorite snack: taquitos.

Like I say in the book's introduction, these sidebars are intended to get you out of your chair or couch and into the kitchen.

Writing If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You was an easy but rather long process. And now I'm finding out that publicizing the book on my own is much more challenging and frustrating than writing it. I produced a bunch of book trailers to promote If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You, but nobody paid attention to them.

None of my Twitter followers gave a fuck about my new book in October. Fuck 'em. So I gave up on trying to promote my book on Twitter, and I went over to a site I like even less than Twitter and hadn't visited in two years: Facebook. Mentioning my book to a few people on Facebook sort of worked. Almost all the people who bought If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You so far are Facebook friends.

I got The Solute, a film discussion site I like way more than Letterboxd and Film Twitter, to post a full excerpt from my book. I've also been trying to get podcast hosts to interview me. Only one podcast host has been eager to have me as a guest on his show. At the time of this writing, my one guest shot on a podcast right after the release of If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You hasn't been recorded yet, but I'm really looking forward to it because it'll be the first podcast I've been a guest on since 2010, and unlike all of the previous podcasts where I was a guest, it's a podcast I genuinely like and have listened to more than 10 times.

So there you have it: If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You was what I was up to creatively after I quit this Blogspot blog. The $14.99 B&W paperback edition is the edition I want everyone to get. It has a lot less typos than the e-book edition does. The paperback edition was originally supposed to be in color, but Kindle Direct Publishing wouldn't let me lower the full-color edition's price, and they wouldn't let me delete the full-color edition from Amazon either. So that's why there's a $55.99 full-color paperback edition of If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You on Amazon.

I'm currently in the middle of trying to write my second self-published book. It'll be much jokier than If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You, and it'll be a parody of inexpensive coffee-table movie books made by TCM and Entertainment Weekly. It's currently titled The Most Poorly Researched Book About Movies Ever.

Trying to begin work on The Most Poorly Researched Book About Movies Ever has been tougher than when I began work on If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You back in 2018, with very little distractions around me that year. I wrote most of If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You in an apartment where I lived alone with my headphones always on to keep me from getting bothered by misophonia triggers (I don't want to live there anymore because the building and the neighborhood are full of too many misophonia triggers), before my mom had her strokes. But with The Most Poorly Researched Book About Movies Ever, I started writing it in a house where there's a lot more commotion, even when I have my headphones on to block out my parents' neighborhood's frequent leaf blower noises (my dad is trying to sell his house and move himself and my mom to a smaller house that would be more wheelchair-friendly for her, so there's been so much cleaning and rearranging for realtors going on), plus my mom requires constant care from both my dad and I. So because of those things, it's been harder to get into a rhythm with this second book. But the stuff I've written so far for The Most Poorly Researched Book About Movies Ever's manuscript has turned out well. To me, it has a lot of potential as a humor book.

In the meantime, I won't be coming back to this Blogspot blog to post any new content after this post (however, I'll continue to re-edit old posts to get rid of any dead links), but I can still be found at Accidental Star Trek Cosplay over on Tumblr.

In 2019, Adam Chau, a fellow Southeast Asian American blogger, pointed out over on his blog Slantyapolis that when Asian American bloggers quit their blogs and delete all of their prior content, a lot of valuable Asian American content is eradicated, and all those deletions end up contradicting the purpose for why many of those deleted posts were written in the first place, which was "Stop ignoring or dehumanizing us because we're human beings too, goddammit!" I understand why those bloggers would choose to delete everything: Many of their opinions in those posts have changed or they said things about other marginalized groups (like maybe trans people) that they wouldn't say today. I know I've deleted a few a.k.a. DJ AFOS posts where my opinion about something is not the same opinion I have about it now.

But even though all of my Blogspot blog's most frequent readers stopped reading it and went away by around 2016, and I stopped writing posts here in 2017, I've chosen not to delete the blog completely because some of my posts here are still being read by newcomers. For instance, a bunch of Hannibal fans suddenly became ecstatic on Twitter last year about a 2015 post I did on Hannibal's score music. So don't worry, Adam, this now-defunct blog won't be deleted. Well, except the really dumb posts I don't like anymore.

Anyway, I'm also on Goodreads. My Mixcloud and HearThis pages are still up. I haven't updated the Mixcloud and HearThis pages in a while because I was busy with If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You, but if you miss the online radio station that this Blogspot blog acted as a tie-in to from 2007 to 2015, the audio content on those pages should satisfy you.

What the fuck are you doing? Go get If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You now!

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