For someone who absolutely loved the intelligent, slow burn that is Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation novel, I had a hard time swallowing Alex Garland’s film version which recently hit theaters. I spent the better part of two weeks thinking over the similarities between the two because, let’s face it, they are almost two different stories with only a couple of shared aspects between them. Garland had intended Annihilation to exist as its own entity which almost begs the question, why not call it something else…and well, make the last couple of changes that it needed to be its own unique entity. While I spent a solid week being kind of upset that it wasn’t a screen adaption of what I’d read, I have come to the acceptance that as its own film, it did some really amazing things and I do understand why so many people have given this amazing reviews. Now…where do I begin?
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Yeah. I haven’t written a blog post since September…and I don’t feel great about that. But it is the end of 2017, a glorious end, and I felt as though I shouldn’t skimp on tradition. I’ve done this post for the last three years (maybe four) and it is one of my favorite topics to compile a list of. Every year, some amazing game composers create phenomenal soundtracks. Often the games are ones that not a lot of people have checked out being they are made by indie developers with small teams.
This year was a bit tough, being that I indulged in discovering and listening to soundtracks from older games more than playing newer ones. Because they came out so long ago, they aren’t eligible for the list. I also listened to WAY more new movie and television scores this year (which should have their own list, but will probably end up in future Inspiration Through Music blog posts. (I say that with the intent to actually write new Inspiration Through Music blog posts… *snigger*.) I honestly shouldn’t keep such rigid rules for this…it would make things so much easier. But, be as it may, I do have several soundtrack scores to share with you. So, let’s begin the countdown, shall we?
#10. Stories Untold Soundtrack by NoCode
Why: So here’s a syth-pumped short playlist of music that feels very 80’s inspired and comes right along on the heels of the very popular Netflix series, Stranger Things. Stories Untold is a text-based adventure game which tells four separate suspenseful stories that intertwine. These four stories (The House Abandon, The Lab Conduct, The Station Process, and The Last Session) guide the player through small interactive environments featuring various puzzles. What’s most gripping about Untold’s soundtrack is its intensity. It always feels as though there’s more to the situation, a gravity that hovers just out of sight. It’s haunting and brilliant in its repetition and has been wonderful to listen to while working on climactic scenes in projects over the year. Track picks: Stories Untold, We Move Together in Unison, Utterly Consumed By It
**Horror-Fail Friday is a blog where I go back and share some of my early writing with you and include my reactions in italics alongside the unedited document. When I say “unedited”, it means I’ve left in spelling errors, poor grammar, and ridiculous plot devices. Be prepared to delve into the horror that is middle school age writing.**
Today, we’re continuing with chapter 2 of “Rising to Escape” a dumb techno thriller that I tried to write back in 6th or 7th grade. So far, police officer Samantha Bynes, recovering from the death of her partner (who was hit by a motorcycle), discovers that the nuclear missile codes have been stolen via fax from the police department. I’d repeat that sentence but I have a feeling that certain parts of my brain will shut down if I do. Due to the idiocy of a rookie cop, they discover that the thief snuck in through the roof. Upon realizing this, Samantha concludes she is a useless human being and cannot do anything right. Now, onto our new character…who’s life is somehow worse than Samantha’s.
On we go.
If you’ve been following the Monstrum Chronicles blog for some time now, you’ll know that I love discovering new music and writing alongside said music. Recently, my boyfriend introduced me to a musician whose style can only be described as part Ray LaMontagne, part phenomenal guitar, and part…sunshine and coffee. Have you ever listened to someone sing and been able to practically see them smile through their voice? Peter Mulvey is this musician.
I was lucky enough to meet him at a recent performance in Hallowell at the beginning of June. He’s one of those people with a charming personable presence, the kind who can entertain with word and song and that you can never grow tired of listening to. He’s become my go to for car rides, down time in the house, and yes, even for certain story ideas. As I’ve been thinking more and more about starting a sequel for Night Time, Dotted Line (my dramedy), I’ve found that Mulvey’s voice resonates with both of the main characters, Calleigh and Spencer, well; particularly with Calleigh though.
Today, I’m going to share a few of Peter Mulvey’s songs with you along with some of the images that his songs conjure in my mind. This is a fun little exercise that you can do in your own spare time. Just take a pencil and paper, play to the songs below, and see what comes to mind when you listen. Enjoy!
Admit it: If you are a writer, you have old material, likely from when you were a kid or you were just beginning your burgeoning career in the literary world. After some time, you happen upon these old papers or files and give them a nostalgic look-over, maybe to see how far you’ve come, maybe to remember that first spark that excited you about writing. So, you read.
…You realize just how bad your writing was.
Horror-Fail Friday is a blog where I go back and share some of my early writing with you and include my reactions in italics alongside the unedited document. When I say “unedited”, it means I’ve left in spelling errors, poor grammar, and ridiculous plot devices. Be prepared to delve into the horror that is middle school age writing.
Our new story is “Rising To Escape”, an unfinished techno-thriller which I wrote in seventh grade, when I had untamed curly afro hair, zero social skills, and many a tie-dyed t-shirt. I’m going into this blind; I don’t actually remember this story, nor what it was about. I have a terrible feeling about it though, like there’s going to be something in it that will give me a full-body cringe. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Hello! Remember back in January when I said I was hoping to write all kinds of new Cooking Adventures this year? Well, that hasn’t exactly happened. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t been cooking new and exciting things in my kitchen, it just means that not all of them have been worthy tales to tell on the blog. And I’ve been busy; super busy. But I’m not going to get into all that business now. Instead, I’ll tell you the horrifying tale of trying to make this blasted grapefruit pound cake.
Now, the first thing to keep in mind is that this pound cake is delicious and was well worth all the effort it took to put it together. I’d found the recipe on Pinterest not too long ago and was interested in the idea of making some kind of dessert/breakfast crossover that didn’t have any chocolate. My hope was to give my parents some of it and neither of them eat chocolate.
The original recipe comes from FakeGinger. Thank you to Amanda for sharing the recipe with everyone.
This week, I had the pleasure of listening to the ultra-talented Ben Webb, a performer whom I’d never heard of before, but whose music instantly reminded me of several other artists. Webb’s music is dynamic, multi-faceted, and speaks of people’s many transitions through life.
Don’t let the title fool you; this entry in itself is not a Cooking Adventure yet. But I have toyed with the possibility of bringing back video Cooking Adventures this year and the desire to do it is slowly overtaking me. One of the biggest reasons that I didn’t try to do them last year were because I was in the process of buying a new house and since I’ve moved into said house, I’ve been coming to grips with all of its various quirks. The kitchen is one of these.
It’s a beautiful kitchen. There are open beams, a large window overlooking the lawn, plenty of counter space, and lots of light and warmth…in the summer. In the winter, it has become the coldest room in the house due to a lack of insulation and the fact that it was an added room to the 1890 cape. So, in order to ensure that it’s warm enough for me to spend time in there, I’ve had to put up an insulated curtain over the big, light-bringing window and put on a space-heater. Filming in such a dark room isn’t very easy.
I’m often drawn to the understated elegant soundtracks. They don’t sound grandiose; they don’t sound imperial or adventurous or over-the-top. The smallest nuances in how the individual tracks are composed, the development in the pieces that grow along with the characters and plot… These are the soundtracks I hunger for.
Recently, I found myself checking out the nominees for best original soundtrack for the Golden Globes. Of course, “La La Land” was the winner of the award with its whimsical, jazzy soundtrack. It’s something fun and different and puts people in a good mood when they listen to it. It’s a phenomenal soundtrack and for cooking or hanging around the house, it’s a joy to listen to. But for writing…I look for the darker more serious soundtracks. This is why I was immediately enamored by Nicholas Britell’s score for the Golden Globe best drama motion picture winner, “Moonlight”.
And just like that it’s the end of 2016. I realize I wasn’t as active as I’d purported I’d be at the beginning of the year. I owe that to moving into a new house though. The transition has eaten up a lot of my valuable time. Not only that but I’ve spent much of my autumn beginning a new book and when I do that, I tend to dig in deep and not come up for air. That being said, I’d like to change the topic back to what this blog post is really all about: my top ten picks for video game soundtracks this year!
Several of you readers know I’m a sucker for video game soundtracks. I’ve always been a fan of film scores and in the past few years have developed a love for these equally arresting and inspiring albums. I didn’t want to break with tradition so here I am at midnight on the 30th/31st of December to share with you the soundtracks writers who love music should buy. But why you ask? Keep reading and you’ll see…
#10: Dead Secret Soundtrack by Ben Prunty
Why: The Dead Secret soundtrack begins with jazz-inspired flavors and some Asian influences to fit into the storyline. Because it’s a murder mystery, there’s an air of suspicion and curiosity in each piece, growing darker and darker as the game progresses. However, it’s the tracks that are most ambient that stood out most to me. In particular, WOODCUTTER (the theme of the antagonist) is one of the most bone-chilling on the soundtrack and inspires fear from its minimalist drumming. Another is “Permanently Altered” which I listened to several times while working on my latest novel. I recommend this to anyone working on crime or noir fiction, or perhaps something historical in the 1920-1950’s. Track picks: WOODCUTTER, Kwaidan, Permanently Altered, What were you up to?