Self Awareness and the World

How many times have we heard this expression spoken to us”

“You are special.”

Everyone, right?

How about this one?

“You are unique, just like everybody else.”

A smartypants way of putting perspective on the fact that you are unique, but that unto itself is a paradoxical awareness that being unique makes you no longer unique.  Individual and collective truth collide and nothing happens.  The two ricochet off each other like billiard balls and carom about the pool table of life.

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The working title and the map for “A Light Rises in a Dark World”

Lately I’ve been dealing with my own narcissism and struggles with getting my book out there.  It has been good to see the impact I have had so far.  The people who have read it and spoke to me about it have had almost universal glowing responses.  They’ve all gotten something deeper out of the adventure, and that is what I hoped would happen.  I desire to make this series something more than just a popcorn nom-fest, and have things to it that stick around with you for long after.  Ideas that make you consider the world a little different, or maybe be that “Shakabuken” that changes your entire perspective on life.

What author doesn’t want that, right?  Yeah, you know it.  I see it in your face.

It’s that desire to live up to the accolade “You are special”.

But then comes the sharper edge realization as you watch your book rank drop, and you question whether or not what you wrote was any damn good.  You go through the stages of ‘poser syndrome’ just like every other artist in the world and you come to realize another universal truth out there.

“I may be special, but the world don’t care.”

There’s not much you can do to make the world care either.  Why?  Because there are almost 8 billion other people in the world wanting to declare “I am special” too, and that just means you are another spike in the static of the global zeitgeist.  Just another set of subatomic collisions producing incalculable numbers of quarks beyond that which go unnoticed

But, what we do not always know is that when we are that one particle that starts a chain reaction.  Plus, we have the benefit of being fired out of the proton gun of personal will as many times as we choose to try.  Fire.  Nothing.  Fire.  Nothing. Fire.  Something?  No nothing.  Fire again.  And again, and again, again again.

But then you hit something and the chain reaction starts.  Now the world sits up and takes notice because your idea, your creation is impacting the world in a way that cannot be ignored.  You are breaking down the status quo, releasing energy into the world and creating or destroying to bring about something new.  In a world of static, new is always good.  New means something is happening that can be interacted with.

Or perhaps you are the particle just sitting there till something hits you and how you respond to it is what does the trick.  Sometimes you are in the right place at the right time when the right particle just nails you in the keister and you light up the world around you with your reaction, be it good or bad.  Just remember, for every quark created, you could be a cute or charmed reaction.

pew pew pew.

So, be aware of these simple facts.

You are special

The world doesn’t care

But that shouldn’t stop you either.

And if you keep trying, someday, you may change the world on purpose or just by being in the way of someone else who is.

 

Sanitized For Your Protection?

With the book in final review stage, waiting on the cover to go, I’ve been picking at it, finding little stray hairs of errors and cleaning up the glossary of things I should have caught long before.   Then, I had something come to light that forced me to look hard at my creation.

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The Prodigal Son by James Tissiot

One of my reviewers, whom I thank for taking up the task, let me know that the book was inappropriate because of something that happened in it.  Now I bring this up not to bash, nor to seek to shame or take to task, but to help myself and others understand my work.  I keep the book relatively clean.  There are only a couple points where the language gets ‘blue’, but there apparently is one thing in here that someone found unforgivable.  It was put to me the challenge of whether or not I should remove the phrase from the book to make it ‘safe for a Christian audience’.  That caused me to think about it over the course of a day on what was the purpose of the use of the offensive/blasphemous oath.

I asked myself about the phrase.  Was it gratuitous or unnecessary?  No to both.  What the phrase did was set the tone for the kind of environment the characters were about to enter.  It was not a completely safe place and not everyone there were good citizens or Christians.  They were complex fallible people who sinned, but also gives a hint to several things deeper in the future and serves as a warning sign to the reader that not everything is as it seems.  Yes the phrase is blasphemous if you want to strictly adhere to the law violating taking God’s name in vain.  Something that we in modern times are often guilty of dozens if not hundreds of times a day.  But for a sailor in the 16th century… this is right in line with the speech and attitude many had despite being a faithful person.

What I then realized is that the reviewer’s statement was not going to be uncommon.  There will be thousands if not tens of thousands of Christian readers who will see this one statement get very offended and ban the book from their own libraries and possibly others.  I was heartbroken about this realization.  I did not foresee it.  But I also saw the solution.  Remove or soften the phrase.  Now, I’ve done this once before already, and I’m still troubled by it being the right choice.  Is leaving this phrase in the book a hill I want to die on?

I finally realized yes.  It is going to stay and here is why.

Although I want this book to be edifying and uplifting to Christians, they are not my target audience.  It is not primarily for legalists and purists of the faith.  I will be ecstatic if they read the book, get something out of it and love it none the less.  I really hope they do.  If my beta readers and some of my reviewers are good indicators, this will be the case.

The main audience I hope to gain with this book is not just nerdy Christians who have been in the faith all their lives and have never been outside God’s grace like I had been.  This is a book aimed at nerds who have never been exposed to Christianity in this way.  Who don’t want to be preached to.  Those who do not want to hear a sermon and talked down to like they are the sinner and must be saved.  I think I accomplished that even though the characters in it live their faith out loud.  You are talking a monk dealing with ecclesiastical problems who is being punished by his superiors for failing to toe the line and is caught in a crux of the plans of others.

I want those people to find a book that is entertaining… scratch that… I want them to be THRILLED by the book!  I want those Christians who are slipping or doubting their faith or wondering if they are good enough for God to be encouraged by what they find.  I want them to see characters who are not perfect Christians and fail and sin and are hot messes but God loves them and is with them inspite of themselves, while others who seem pious and in God’s good graces to have to take a step back and realize that is not all sunshine they’re standing in.

I want them to the little heresies of life to be evident, because it might inspire someone to look at their lives in a new way.  Under all the entertainment, that is what I want them to find if they look for it.  I want those who have never seen Christianity in the same ‘cool’ lighting and stagecraft before like we so often see paganism, pantheism, atheism and other occult philosophies.  How often have we read fantasy novels or even Sci Fi novels that are chock full of “ancient weapons and hokey religions” and nobody blinks an eye at it being preached and praised?  That’s what I am doing with Christianity.  “Azeroth Metrion Xinthos…” see nobody bats an eye at something that although made up, it stands in for praise of something occult when you boil everything away.  Change that to “In the name of Jesus, demon come out!” and you get the point.

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This also speaks to the other reason I am leaving the blasphemous oath in.  I have a hard time reading most Christian fiction because everything seems to be… sanitized.  Even the villains seem to be only Disney Channel level of menace.  Even demons seem that way at times, but people are sanitized the most.  Nothing that could besmirch the squeaky clean image of the Mouse is there.  A lacquered Jesus that doesn’t even get dusty.  Never do we see the real challenging aspects of faith in a mud and blood spattered mess that is mankind.  I mean even JRR Tolkien is grittier than them and he never cusses or deals deeply about crisis of faith in any of his books, but the people there feel more real than the glossy clean brand image you’d expect with people’s Easter Sunday behavior.  This is what I hope to avoid as a writer, because I want these characters you root for to be relatable because they walked in situations like you have and do on a daily basis sometimes because being a faithful Christian can be hard and we fail over and over again, which necessitates God’s forgiveness more and more.

On the other hand, you can completely gloss over the Christianity and just treat it from a historical POV slapped into a fantasy setting like you would if you watched the movie “Kingdom of Heaven” or “The Name of the Rose” (Nobody but crazy literary people and scholars actually read Umberto Eco do they?  I love the movie though!)  The rest you can treat as typical low/historical fantasy with heavy steampunk elements thrown in on top.  Nobody will fault you for it and honestly, if you don’t care about the spiritual stuff, just enjoy the story.  So I pray what I put together actually stands up that way and does not rely on faith and sermonizing to work.  It’s part of the setting and historical context, but I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m evangelizing them deliberately.

That means I now realize even more than ever this book is in God’s hands.  Hell, this whole SERIES will be in His hands!  He’s gonna do with it as He sees fit.  But then again, when doesn’t He?  ;c)

Lastly, I also realized two things that form a viscous worrisome stew in my head.

1. I realized that if this book somehow only ends up on the shelves or pages of Christian Bookstores or online retailers, I will have failed in my mission to deliver something good for nerds and fantasy geeks.  I will have missed my intended audience and gotten my secondary one.  That’s not bad, mind you, but it will go against my hopes.  And I refer back to “God’s gonna God”.

2. I’m probably going to get hate mail from multiple sides over religious purists who will not like my handling of the faith, spiritual warfare or history, despite this is a fantasy and fantasy twist that comes from a historical basis.  It is biased to my understanding and is not perfect as theologians may say.  In fact, I deliberately have mistakes in it because it’s part of the setting and/or based on historical precedents of the medieval Catholic Church and monastic system.  This will piss off legalists who will come up with a laundry list of reasons to hate this.  Ultimately I will unashamedly refer to “It’s fantasy and welcome to the liberal use of Handwavium.” if I must.

But you know what?  I am going to have to learn to deal with it.  I wrote all this because I really felt it appropriate in the book itself.  This novel is what I felt God wanted me to write, and so I’m going to do it the way my understanding guides me and let see what happens.

Just like I cannot pick my fans (thanks artists who demanded Ivanka Trump remove their art from her walls for teaching me that… but did not offer to buy it back.)  I just need to say, “Thank you.  I am grateful that you love my work.” and respect the fact that I touched someone I didn’t intend.  But God knows what He’s doing, and that is what I’m going to have to rely on.

Thank you for reading.

 

The Breakers: Mad Max:Fury Road -Something Wicked This Way Comes

The Breakers was the original idea for this series title.  Its more of what I was thinking of but derped when trying to name it.

Just for those who didn’t guess it by the title:

spoilers

 

Originally, I was going to write about only one movie, “Something Wicked This Way Comes”.  A gem of a little film and the first horror film that Disney ever really did.  Sure there are scary parts throughout many other films (The Black Cauldron or Darby O’Gill and the Little People), but this one was devoted to it.

What I was going to discuss was the dissection of story with the Hero’s Journey again, but had an epiphany about it while talking to a friend on what I was going to write.

I realized that Joseph Campbell’s “Clock” denoting the 12 main ideas of the Hero’s Journey were handed extremely differently between Mad Max: Fury Road and SWTWC.  I further realized that this is not an isolated thing, save for MMFR.

First, here’s a reminder for those who don’t remember what the clock looks like.

What is this monster realization?

Well, first off, In SWTWC (and also in T5E I looked at last time) is that if you look at the clock, and treated it as proportional time given to a story, proportionally.  On the other hand, when you watch most movies, the first six steps take up well over three quarters of the plotline, leaving sometimes only 15 minutes of a two hour story  (and in some cases even less… I’m looking at you SW:ANW).  For the last three steps (Return, New Life, Resolution) it is somewhat short shrift IMHO.

Furthermore, sometimes half the movie is spent in steps 1-3 and then spends most of the last half shoving through 4-9, while leaving 10-12 hanging.  I realized that I saw this in many films actually, but this is the first time I realized that Roger Miller did something very different from this in MM:FR.  He flipped it to a certain extent.  Now, the setup (Status Quo, Call to Adventure, Assistance and even Departure) are all crammed into the first 15 minutes, while the ending four slices of the clock take up almost 30-40 minutes on their own.  Even better that it works astoundingly well.

Mind you, Roger Miller got to cheat a little.  He was not establishing anything new.  If you were going to this film you had either seen all of or at least some of the previous movies so you knew what the status quo was.  In such an apocalyptic setting, it didn’t take much for him to get that call to adventure, nor help… though he does get it twice (The first when Nux demands him up front on his car and the second when Furiosa includes him on the escape getting him to drive the war rig)

The best part of this film is that it pays off with an all in royal flush even though a lot of the action occurs after a lovely trick of a “Lesser Reward”.  They are already looking a “New Life” and ready to start their resolution when Max shows them a greater reward and that is to reverse the “Return” and try to stealth by Immortan Joe and the rest and steal the coveted green space from him.  I am not sure if this is a pushing back of the clock to the “Crisis” point again, or an expansion of the Return.

But with them going back regardless of how you look at it, the return, is fraught with its own peril akin to the “Result” on steroids.  Immortan Joe is defeated… messily, they take the citadel and begin their new lives, with only Max deciding to be Max in the end.  Oh well.  Helloooooo new sequels!  (Which apparently are already started).

Such a bad trailer… I mean wow.  Marketing really didn’t know what to do.

 

On the other hand, SWTWC spends almost 30 minutes setting up the Status Quo alone.  Now, this is definitely NOT a poorly spent 30 minutes.  It is immersive and very much a pleasant departure to a pastoral 1930’s small Illinois town that is somehow untouched by the Great Depression.  It’s one of the first times you will see a writer “Chew the Scenery” like Ray Bradbury does, and Disney lets him get away with.  Some of my favorite in cinema.  It sets up the dichotomy between the evil that is coming and what I think so many of us wished we still lived in.  Not only that, the “Call to Adventure”, “Assistance” and even the Departure almost take a full 50 minutes or so into the 90 minute film before the approach starts.  I like to consider the Departure to be synonymous with the breaking of Miss Foley’s window.  Although we have been watching the damage done by Dark’s Pandemonium and Carnival, its been set up for the trials or at least dangers that threaten Will and Jim and Mr. Halloway.

The final conflicts of the movie occur in 2 points, and they are mostly internal in nature.  Heavy on the temptation and the ultimate failure of Mr. Halloway to stand up for the boys in the face of evil, but he is only toyed with as Mr. Dark retrieves his McGuffin (the boys) and is satisfied with having suitably cowed Mr. Halloway into cowardice.  Of course, this fails, and the final confrontation of inner demons happens at the mirror maze in what could be viewed on one angle as cheesy, but on another, it makes a great morality play on the power of love over regret and sorrow.  Even if you call that the “Result” stage which culminates in the freak storm, it has stepped over the “Reward”, which it turns out has become a bitter sweet reward of a new, changed perspective while retaining a lot of what was loved about the first 30 minutes of the film in protecting the status quo.  Yes, it has changed for poor Mr. Tetley, Miss Foley, Ed the Barman, and Mr. Crossetti forever, but that is to be expected, and thank God Disney did not insist that they be saved from their choices.

BTW, the Reward, Return, Result and New Life take place in the final 3 and lasts less than 1:50 of the movie before the credits roll.  But on the other hand, the handling of those final 110 seconds is masterfully done.  In that, the establishing shots reconnect the viewer with the original ideals, explain what had changed for the characters but yet what was still retained.  In this, Ray Bradbury, who wrote this screenplay as well, was sublime.  It takes real skill to provide a satisfying ending like that in so short a time and not leave us feeling cheated.  Of course, having good skill in using the narrator’s voice helped a ton.  The use of voice-over at the beginning and end are well handled and appropriate as it is done by an adult Will.

Now, why do I consider though this to not be bad goes back to a ‘throw away’ piece of set design.  When the Barber, Mr. Crossetti is discovered to be missing, the only indicator is his pole is still turning and a sign in the window saying “Closed due to Illness”.  Now, I find this brilliant because of something I know of history.  The nation had become numb to many horrors thanks to WW1, which is hinted at with Tom Fury walking with his army uniform and Campaign Hat on with chin strap.  But also a sign like that in Mr. Crossetti’s would have been very familiar thanks to the Swine Flu epidemic which ravaged the US in 1918.  That influenza epidemic was horrifically deadly and often killed those who seemed healthiest in society (by a process which we now understand called a Cytokine Storm), and left many a house behind the quarantine sign.  Which made the excuse perfectly legitimate and believable as well being a very subtle touch for authenticity.

Honestly I thought the movie was more into the early 1920’s, but then realized that the bar was operating openly during a time of prohibition.  Therefore, it must have been after, and I doubt it would have been before because of the cars.  Otherwise it goes into that magical Disney era of Walt’s youth that blends the most pleasant aspects of society from a child’s point of view during that era.  Walk down Walt Disney World’s Mainstreet USA and see what I mean.

What this all is teaching me is that there does not be a balance in how much time is devoted to each “hour” of the Hero Journey clock, but rather how it moves the story forward.  Not only that, sometimes the reward is not always what you think it means.

Scrapyard: Improving My Craft

First, a hat tip to David Lawrence, another aspiring author, head of The Seraphim Regiment : Christian Online Gaming Guild and co-inspirational goofus for driving me in this drive towards making writing my career and really working at my craft.  Thanks for the inspiration to try this out.  Go check his blog out.

Two resources have been put front and center in my writing life right now.  First is one I found and latched onto like a lamprey, while the other has come up behind me and clubbed me a good one thanks to Dave.

The first is “The Story Grid” by Sean Coyne while the second is “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey.  The two are revolutionizing how I write and work with my stories.  What’s even better is to realize how much I used before learning more about these things on instinct.  I think I can blame 30 years of being a GM for various RPGs and participating in oral storytelling for most of my life.

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So last night, I started analyzing some of my favorite films.  Yes, 2am, Christmas Eve/Day is a good time to watch a movie when you should be keeping your regular schedule.  What did I pop in?  “The Fifth Element“.  Not the most holiday-like of a film but it was what I wanted to see as I resisted the re-watching of “Blade Runner” because I’m on a giggly anticipatory edge for the sequel.  That, I will watch later today.  What I wondered was why, although “The Fifth Element” is an incredible movie, it doesn’t quite go over the ‘critical hump’ to make it a masterpiece.

What I realized is that it did not quite manage the “Hero’s Journey” in a completely satisfying manner or its delivery of obligatory scenes was not quite up to snuff, and made up for the gap in the storytelling with a richness of top notch production design (which nobody can disagree with.  Nope sorry, your argument is invalid because reasons.) and good acting.

Luc Besson spends a long time building the universe, and although it’s fun to watch everything up to the point of Korben Dallas getting into the story (the true personification of the hero in the story) it is about 20 minutes of setup that is more or less dithering on establishing the “Status Quo”.  It doesn’t really dig into the actual story, which in effect is a very short and basic.

You have also have a lot of parallel villains and macguffins.  Now this isn’t bad per sey because Zorg (and Mr. Shadow) with the Mandalorians are all seeking the stones.  The three threats are all striking similar chords and add some delicious betrayal and complexity, but each time, it slightly weakens the overall whole.  Mr. Shadow is a “Man Vs. God” level threat, and the other two are “Man vs. Man” threat.  You have a small “Man vs. Self” threat in terms of Korben’s depression and helplessness but that is almost an afterthought to create the ambiance of his character as the burnt out veteran. Even though the man vs. self does a quick return at the finale, it’s got no real power other than some base sentimentality and emotional manipulation to make the “gets the girl” trope work.

The movie does spend some good time with the next three steps of “Call to Action”, “Refusing the Call”, “Assistance” and “Departure” which comes in many various flavors.  The movie is more like a rope in this manner rather than a beam.  Many things working together, providing great flexibility and art, which is good, but it is not as strong in the end as a singular focus.  The call comes to adventure comes to Dallas through multiple sources, same does his assistance.  Again, although they are alloyed together and echo each other, it is not as strong.

As for the “Trials” honestly, this is almost non-existent and is wrapped up in the coupled fights before and after the Plavalaguna’s Concert, but it’s also mixed up in a disorderly mess where two of the three villians (Zorg and the Mandalorians) are dispatched leaving only the real Man vs God threat as Mr. Shadow goes right for the temple to kill everything and so too must our heroes.

“Crisis” is present when Leeloo is wounded, but again, it is easily overcome, which hurts.  Yes Leeloo is wounded with some great buildup and diminished, and then we get some angst out of Korben, but that’s about it.  Combine with that the emotional shock of the self sacrificing Diva, we are back to that “rope” I’ve referred to.  Good, flexible, textured, but again, not as strong.  The obligatory scene of “Hero at the mercy of the villain” is here with Zorg vs Leeloo, but again, its a little weak on its own, but with the death of the Diva and Korben trying to figure out where the stones are, it’s strengthened.

Then comes the final battle which combines “Crisis”, “Treasure”, “Result” and “Return” all into one quick 10 minute event.  Leeloo is fully realized, Korben gets the girl, evil is defeated for another 5000 years and they’re all back on Earth.  Badaboom, it’s resolved and for me, the first time I saw this movie, it was satisfying, beautiful and fun just like every good thrill ride.  But why did the movie not make the jump to true “classic” film?  I think it’s because it used rope versus versus a steel beam of singular sources of hero and threat.

We even get an “all is lost” moment in when they assemble the weapon only to not understand how to make it work.  As I think about this movie, it works a lot on thematic echoes.  Protagonist Korben is echoed by Leeloo and to some extent Father Cornelius.  The Villains are echoed.  The Macguffins are singular, but in four parts.  The departure (boarding the spaceplane) is repeated FOUR TIMES!  The “Crisis” and “All is Lost” moments are echoed as well.  And again, what it does it sets up a nice harmonic, but goes back to my basic criticism I think to where it keeps this movie from being considered a true classic, but rather an “Honorable Mention”.

The movie itself hits a ton of obligatory tropes:

  • spaceship with FTL
  • Flying cars
  • Megacities
  • Aliens
  • Cool new technology (that nanoreassembly is an incredible bit of SFX)

They even give a few 1990’s cultural twists that were popular ironic social observations.

  • Cynical former military hotshot
  • Benevolent or at least benign but incompetent government
  • Big Business cooperating with evil blinded by profit
  • Damsel in not so much distress (Damsel saves Knight)
  • Scatterbrained priest with undefined strange religious trappings (Dem robes y’all)
  • Shallow uber-sexual narcissist media figure idiot
  • Stoner ground crew of the Reggae variety

But how about obligatory scenes/events common to sci fi/space opera?

  • We get a few battles in flying ships.  (Flying cars and spaceships)
  • Learning about the alien culture (Leeloo learning human culture… now with nudity!)
  • Big spaceship explosion (So long, Fhlostan Paradise)
  • Hokey Religions and Ancient Weapons (Meet Leeloo the deified ancient weapon)
  • Plucky Rebel against insurmountable odds (Korben and Leeloo vs a cast of several)
  • Last second salvation  (The rainbow barf pew pew that saves the universe)

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Now I’m not trying to minimize how much fun this movie is, because dagnabbit, it’s a blast and I like to watch it regularly.  But as I learn more about my craft, I realize why it’s not a seminal classic or rated among the best films ever.  Now I get it.  Hold this up to say “Blade Runner” you can see how it differs in that manner (even though this is light space opera adventure versus a cyberpunk film noir thriller).

Anyhoo, this is me having fun with mah new skills.  I think I may make this a regular series when I sit down and tear into other movies using the ideas from Shawn Coyne and Joseph Campbell.  If not to help myself improve my craft, but to give observations that may help other writers, or just be entertaining.  So, let’s see if my “Scrapyard” will become a regular series of articles.

<Insert awesome sign-off tagline here>

 

 

Penultimate Logo Poll!

One more poll after this one I think and that will determine the winner of my logo competition.  The five remaining artists have really stepped up their game.  I mean just wow!  A little tweak here and there for the font, but I think these are it.

So which logo speaks strongest to you?

https://99designs.com/contests/poll/fl534v

Vote for only one, rate and comment on all you desire!

Rough Grace

My own personal comments are below. Great retelling of a great memory, Mr. Teemley.

Mitch Teemley

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It was 30 years ago today, on the Friday before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel days of the year. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) was crawling with pre-holiday misery. Planes were late and tempers were flaring. The holidays might be impending, but the holiday spirit was nowhere to be seen. And then the announcement came: Our flight to Denver had been cancelled. No reason was offered. Which meant the airline was responsible; if the airport or weather were to blame, it would be the first thing they’d say.

Cranky passengers were greeted by an even crankier Steward. Allen (my partner in the comedy act Mitch & Allen) and I knew that FAA regulations required them to put us on a competitor’s flight if they didn’t have one of their own leaving within four hours. We also knew they would not offer this unless it was demanded.

The only person who…

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Writing Playlist

Yes.  I have a writing playlist that I use to put me in the mood.

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Many people listen to music while writing.  Others do not.  Some can even do it with the TV going and other distractions.

I like writing to music.  Tea at the ready in the wee hours of the morning.  I seem to not get really rolling till after 4am lately.  This I think has more to do with working nights, but I prefer to write when its dark out.  Just the way I am in my inconsistent manner.  So what do I listen to?  Here’s a list of songs and artists I have in my playlist.  I wish I could put up an actual playlist so you could all enjoy, but hopefully you then have enough information to look on your own if you are interested.

Okay, maybe some samples will show up if they are on youtube or something.

The “Official” Akiniwazi Playlist (exerpts)

Two Steps from Hell

  • Moving Mountains
  • Heaven Hell
  • Nero
  • Norwegian Pirate
  • Heart of Courage
  • Strength of 1000 Men
  • Breathe
  • Cry
  • El Dorado
  • Ocean Princess

Vangelis

  • Conquest of Paradise
  • Monastery of la Rabida
  • Light and Shadow
  • The Bounty

Mychael Danna:

  • Phoenix Anastasis
  • Nakawe
  • Visions of Bernadette

Loreena McKennitt:

  • Prologue
  • Marco Polo
  • Night Ride Across the Caucasus
  • Dante’s Prayer

James Horner:

  • Jack Dawson’s Luck
  • On Hallowed Ground
  • The Oglala Sioux
  • Proud Nation
  • Thunderheart

Dead Can Dance

  • The Host of Seraphim
  • Ascension
  • Circumradiant Dawn

 

Hans Zimmer:

  • Progeny
  • The Emperor Is Dead
  • Reunion

Other Cinematic music from:

  • The Civil War
  • The Fog
  • The Island
  • Schindler’s List
  • The Passion of the Christ
  • Hannibal
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  • The Professional
  • The Crow
  • Prince of Egypt

Various Medieval music, both classical, modal and re-envisioned:

  • Hildegard Von Bingen “Illumination”
  • The Empire Brass: “Passage”
  • Gregorian Chants from the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos
  • “Sing We at Pleasure”
  • Native American Flute by Coyote Oldman’s “Thunder Chord”
  • Nordic Roots Albums

Classical classics like:

  • Faure’s Requiem
  • Night on Bald Mountain
  • Mussorgsky “Pictures at an Exhibition”
  • Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” plus a re-envisioned version.
  • Hall of the Mountain King  (you just knew it was going to be in there, didn’t you?)

And several dozen from various artists I found for free on Soundcloud and other sources.  I shall leave you with a favorite of mine.  I use all three “versions” out there.  The full, acappella and instrumental:

 

Vacation: Achievement Unlocked

My Minnesota Adventure is now complete. I have to say that it has been both a good time and revealing time to go out and remind myself a place I called home for just about 5 years. I would had a grand time seeing old friends, and going to some of my favorite places that I used to enjoy when I lived there.

Unfortunately I was also reminded all those reasons why I fled living in a big city like that. It wasn’t that I dislike the place, no I cannot tolerate the oppressive atmosphere hopelessness and anger that pervades the areas where I was forced to live. Don’t get me wrong, the Cities are fine if you have money. Then you can live safe and content, generally avoiding most of the areas which would cause worry and fear to be touchstones of your daily life. Unfortunately I had neither money or safety when I lived there. So I was able to see personally and within touching distance how bad life can be for people who have limited means. Plus, I worked in a job that kept me in constant contact with some of the best as well as the worst Elements of Life in the Twin Cities. That unto itself is an education. How I managed to get through this time without being assaulted, robbed, or worse, yes, living there taught me there probably is worse than those two things, is amazing. I know friends thought I was a big chicken, because no one was going to assault someone who looked like me according to them. It didn’t matter. I did not come from this kind of a background. So that meant I was not willing to take the risks or assume that the behavior of the people around me that was, shall we say, less-than-stellar was acceptable or normal me Big City radar. That isn’t to say that I wasn’t able to recognize danger, or realize you always had to be aware of your surroundings, but those activities were exhausting and painful to undertake.

Another pleasing aspect was I got to revisit one of my favorite places to go when I was in the Twin Cities, The Source. It had moved, which was good because it took it to a much more convenient place as far as I was concerned right across from the HarMar Mall. For those who do not know, the HarMar is a dumpy little place with the best Barnes & Noble you could possibly want to find. With a penchant for really good events. Unfortunately the first time we went to that Barnes & Noble for old time sake, it was completely overrun with Harry Potter fans. As I have stated to many people, I will never read, nor watch anything Harry Potter.  They were holding a youth event and within 30 seconds I was over stressed. But that is when we discovered the source was directly across the street.

Unfortunately, by the time we got there, it was closed for the evening. So, the following day we went back, not only for my edification, but because my friend’s daughter had just been introduced to Magic: the Gathering. Her friends were nice and gave her a deck and which to learn to play… of all the cards they did not like or had a few extra. No, it’s not often that generosity sometimes leaves you with a bitter spike in the back of your head. These were not good cards nor a good design really.  That is being a bit unfair, for one or two of the cards were good.  But that was all. This left her completely at the whim of her friends to beat up on her when they play the game. I decided to remedy that.

Thankfully, they had a Bargain Bin. $0.20 a card and we took full advantage of it. There were a few tricks that could enhance her deck so i used the. With a few choice cards and a starter box, that all changed. I took the skills that I had earned as an old-school Magic the Gathering player from way back when and it became a frustratingly naughty little deck. I just loaded myself up with squee thinking about how her friends thinking they knew what she had would react once they dealt with a deck that was tuned to play in tournaments  when they themselves we’re not familiar with how to play in a tournament.

I must admit that was probably the highlight of my vacation, of going full-on nerd and making a teenage girl the alpha nerd of her social circle.

Of course that’s not quite true. The highlight was being able to go to my favorite “always gotta go there” restaurant for brunch on Sunday. If you ever get the chance to go to brunch at Jax Cafe in Northeast Minneapolis, do so! It’s expensive, and worth it. None of my friends who came to be there with me I never been there before. So I was given the wonderful response being able to introduce them to a real gem the restaurant scene in Minneapolis.

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All in all, I’m glad I went. The time away from work was refreshing, and it provided me with more experiences to enjoy in my memory.

We shall now engage in our regularly scheduled posting.  See you Friday.