So, once again, it’s been far too long since I’ve posted here. I’ve been a little better about posting on my FB page (I just added today’s manga self portraits, the first in about 20 days), but not much in the last few weeks. I’ve had other obligations, I’ve been renovating the guest room in our house, prepping for the holidays, etc.

One thing I did get around to though (aside from seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens on opening night and the following night), was filming my latest entry video for American  Ninja Warrior. I’ve got a long history with this show, dating back to right around the year 2000. Through my karate training and travels, I befriended a Japanese exchange student at Boston University. During some break, or after college ended (I can’t quite recall), he sent another friend (who happened to be another karateka and one of my close friends from high school) a video tape (yes, a video tape. You remember those, right? Big, clunky, full of tape. You had to rewind them…). On said magical tape was several hours of Japanese television, one of which was Iron Chef, and the other was Sasuke-which would later be translated into Ninja Warrior in the U.S. It was the fourth ever tournament, the one in which diminutive powerhouse crab fisherman Kazuhiko Akiyama became the first person ever to complete all four stages of the obstacle course. I fell in love with the show and immediately started dreaming about one day traveling to Japan to compete.

Flash forward a few years, American tv station G4 began showing a few subtitled episodes under the name Ninja Warrior. I was ridiculously excited. It apparently gained enough fans here for them to air more tournaments from previous years, and to start making a big spectacle of the current tournaments. In 2007, they announced a contest to send an American to Japan to run the course. Unfortunately for me, it coincided with the birth of my third son, so I didn’t enter. The contest was a success, however, so when they announced it again in 2008, I entered. I didn’t get selected (though snippets of my submission video made it on air, which was kinda cool). For the next few contests I was either battling injuries or there was too much “life” happening for me to consider trying out.

Unexpectedly, in early 2012, I received an email and phone call from a casting agent informing me that G4 and NBC were putting together their own version of the show to be held in the U.S. Oh, and was I planning on entering the contest again because they were looking to make this a big deal in the states? I did, and I actually got the call inviting me down to Miami, FL to run in the Northeast Regional Tryouts a few months later. It was a fantastic adventure, with a disappointing end for me. I made some dumb mistakes and went out on the fourth obstacle (the jump hang).

I have entered the contest every year since, whether injured or not, but I have yet to get another call. Along the way, I’ve refined the way I train, but I’ve also learned a few useful things about video editing. This year, for the first time, I edited my video in Photoshop. I half wanted to post it because I was proud of some of the editing I learned how to do, but I was conflicted because the video feels very much like showing off. I mean, that’s kind of what you have to do in these video submissions to get yourself noticed, but that aspect always makes me uncomfortable. However, it’s what I gotta do to get another chance to run the course. Anywhat, the fine print says I can’t post the video anywhere until after the show airs, because if I do, NBC runs into copyright issues should they need to show it. So, it will have to wait.

In the process of working on this year’s video, I decided to spend more time showing who I was and a little less time trying to physically compete with the younger acrobats and free runners (because I can’t compare to them, like, at all. There are some flat out amazing athletes that make it on the show). I wanted to talk a bit about my being an artist, and of course I had to mention Plunger Monkey. I can’t show you the video yet, but I can show you an image I created for it:

Cartoon self-portrait with Plunger Monkey, created for the author's American Ninja Warrior submission video.

The video has a voice over for this.

This in many ways is the culmination of the work I put into Inktober and my subsequent, ongoing, manga self-portrait project. This is also a bit of me testing out a future PMD project…but more on that when…well, when I know more.

And since you just read through all that boring nonsense about my history with the awesomeness that is Sasuke/Ninja Warrior/American Ninja Warrior, here’s a somewhat related t-shirt design that will be available at some point (I promise):

T-shirt design of my character Plunger Monkey Dynamo dressed as a ninja

If I get on the show for 2016, I’m going to have to get some of these shirts printed…

Happy holidays, folks! Hopefully I’ll get another post or two in before the end of the year…