With just two chapters left (technically, I need only write one, and in truth only half, because I’ve written about half of it already), time for some random Rocket Fox stuff.
The Rocket Fox Soundtrack
As the inevitable ending to the first series draws nearer, I complied a soundtrack of music that really helps out with the universe (star system) I created. These are out of the epic background like music of Two Steps From Hell.
So, in no particular order:
- Starships: Nicki Minaj
- Cosmic Castaway: Electrasy
- Over My Head: Lit
- It’s My Time To Fly: The Urge
- Magic Carpet Ride: Steppenwolf
That’s a short list, but it’s what I’ve listened to at times when I’ve been writing and plotting.
Rocket Fox covers
New cover designs for Rocket Fox. The first draft is almost complete.
Actually a pretty catchy tune and it features a lot of starships, from the Millennium Falcon to the Enterprise to Serenity to Voyager. Also, I don’t listen to many Nicki Minaj tunes, but the music is pretty catchy. Just a random find while cruising through Tumblr and Youtube and Vimeo.
Sources include: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien/Aliens, Apollo 13, Archer, Battlestar Galactica (2004-8), Cocoon, Community, Doctor Who (2005-), Dune, Farscape, The Fifth Element, Firefly/Serenity, Forbidden Planet, Futurama, Galaxy Quest, Independence Day, The Muppet Show, Odyssey 5, Planet of the Apes (1968), Spaceballs, Star Trek (TOS, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager; movies II, IV, VII, VIII and XI/Reboot), Star Wars IV & V, Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate SG-1, Sunshine, Superman (1978), Toy Story 2, Virtuality, WALL-E.
It’s not so much that it’s new, but it’s really sort of exploded in the past couple of years. Thanks to youtube, blogging, tumblr, twitter and all manner of social networking, people are doing things in a very creative way with something that for the longest time had been just about playing. I’m talking about video games.
Video games have evolved from a very linear style to something that becomes different with each play. But it’s gone further than that, as some very creative people are coming together to create some very good works of art. This comes in the form of fanfiction and fanart, but also comes from an area of video games that for the longest time nobody really cared about. The video game soundtrack.
Soundtracks and music have been a staple part of video games for a long time, but now, people are getting together to create their own recordings of what are becoming iconic video game soundtracks. These are just three of my favourites that I’ve found lately.
What’s also pretty mind blowing is just who is creating these impressive collaborations. Well, not so much the who, but it is something that sort of shatters a stigma about video game culture. It’s not a culture that women aren’t familiar with, as seen by these videos. Women have been playing video games for a long time, but thanks to the different outlets to talk about love for video games or video game franchises like Skyrim and Elder Scrolls and Guild Wars, it’s becoming a lot more common place.
I really love seeing these kind of collaborations and really creative people who are using a venue from something they love in order to create something incredibly wonderful.
One of my … well, not so much a New Year’s resolution, is to actually finish two works I’ve had on the go. One of which happens to be the first in the Rocket Fox series.
That includes writing, illustrating some of the characters and gathering together an appendix for the last section of the book. And maps, can’t forget maps.
The other is the rewriting of Black Mask & Pale Rider, which has sort of expanded in a way. Not at all difficult, as I’ve already got the original work to go by.
So, tonight, part of my home time regimen will be to sit down and write and work on some illustrations for Rocket Fox.
Anyone is free to needle and prod me to get me going.
This quote isn’t necessarily about writing, but it does relate. It’s from Henry Rollins, who many may recognize as the front man for the punk band Black Flag.
How do you show that you like your fans? You don’t ding’em for money every possible chance you get. You make CD’s long and add a lot of cool bonus cuts. You don’t charge $50 for a t-shirt. When kids download your stuff for free off of the… internet and tell you about it, you don’t get mad at them. My parting line is ” I’D RATHER BE HEARD THAN PAID.” Am I going to come after you like Lars Ulrich, demanding my 35 cents, nah man. If you can’t afford to listen to my music and you gotta get it off the internet, at least you’re rockin’. ~Henry Rollins
This is a philosophy I’m using with my writing. Yeah, I’ll get my stuff published and people will buy it, but I also have it available in different electronic formats so if people download it and read it, then I guess I’ve done my job.
The only payment I want is that people mention they’ve read it, that’s all. Download it or buy, I don’t care. Just read it and enjoy it.
Do the same in return.
“And I heard, as it were, a noise of thunder. One of the four beasts saying ‘Come and see’ and I saw. And behold, a white horse.”
“And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts. And I looked and behold, a pale horse, and it’s name that sat on him was Death. And Hell followed with him.”
Revelations 6: 7-8
This was a verse I used in the original writing of Black Mask & Pale Rider, and I want to use it again as a way that the public begins to see Shani and Pania. They’re elves, they use magic, they have magical companions in a pixie and a pseudo dragon. So the general populace may indeed foresee them as the coming of the four riders. Pania is identified as Death, and Shani becomes identified as War.
But those who meet and come to know the pair find something completely different. They are merely adventurers and explorers.
It’s going to be a continuous theme to try and bring about until Shani and Pania finally meet up and take down a vampire. Then, their legend changes in another way.
While the musical influences that began the first writing of Black Mask & Pale Rider leaned more towards Big & Rich and Nightwish, Johnny Cash’s storytelling style has really sparked new life and new ideas for the rewrite.
At one time I wanted the story to have a lot of spaghetti western tropes and play off of cliches, however that’s changed a great deal as I want to focus more on a story about two women (yes, elves, but still women) who meet a variety of people.
So this story will have people of colour, and I hope that I treat them well, and not as a stereotype. One of the first to be met will be Slowhand Johnson, a former slave who earned his freedom and became a gunslinger. Interesting fact, most gunslingers in the United States at that time (mid 1800’s) were black. Either freed slaves who needed a way to survive, were protecting their new found freedom, or escaped slaves trying to make their way in a nation that saw them as no better than cattle.
Clayton Johnson will help Shani a great deal, but by the same token Shani will also help Clayton.
From Pania’s side, we’ll meet Cassidy del Ray, a former slave who was freed by Aurela Dorchester, and decided she could do with helping to free more. While Aurela fronts her operation as a brothel, neither Aurela nor Cassidy are common whores. Cassidy is Aurela’s right hand, so to speak, and she and Pania will form a friendship as the elven songstress stays in the boarding house in Chicago.
- Let the madness begin! (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- The Faces of Black Mask & Pale Rider (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
I’ve been searching for this forever. I used to have this album by the Northern Pikes, a band from Saskatoon whom I followed in my late teens and early twenties. Their first commercial album was Big Blue Sky, and the first single was Teenland. I liked the song, and still do, even if it is a little dated.
There were three more albums that came out by the Pikes before their final album which was a live offering. It was really cool, had all their hits that they did at a show in Le Spectrum in Montreal and another at The Music Hall in Toronto in 1993. Like any live album it had some pretty good live versions of their original material.
Including this version of Teenland, where they just break out into Ghost Riders in the Sky, right in the middle of it. It was awesome (only wish I got to witness it live). So, when I did up 31 Days of Ghosts back in 2009, I really wanted to add this to the Wild Hunt topic I posted. Alas, I couldn’t find it. Fortunately, almost three years to the day since I posted it, I find the video.
Here it is.
It’s interesting to listen to the radio and hear different top 40 and chart toppers on different stations. In my car, I listen to Rock 102 FM in Saskatoon. Only because my CD player is broken (with a Within Temptation CD stuck inside it), and I don’t have the ability to play mp3s on it. At least not right now.
But I’ve noticed something when certain songs play. Like this morning there was a Theory Of A Deaman tune playing and a lot of the lyrics were bleeped out (or it was the radio edit). Instead of playing the song, so as to save most from hearing Theory Of A Deadman (which is akin to hearing Nickleback), I’ll list the lyrics.
How come I never get laid, nice guys always lose.
How could she have another headache
There’s always some kind of excuse
I still hate my job, my boss is a dick
“I don’t get paid nearly enough
To put up with all of his shit”
I hate my job, all of my rich friends
I hate everyone to the bitter end.
Nothing turns out right, there’s no end in sight
I hate my life!
I hate that I can’t tell when a girl’s underage,
You know, I tell her she’s a nice piece of ass,
Then her daddy punches me in the face
So if you’re pissed like me
Bitches, here is what you gotta do
Put your middle fingers up in the air
Go on and say fuck you
That’s the uncensored version, with the areas that are censored highlighted in bold. It’s pretty safe to say that there’s a lot in there that’s really not often heard on the air on commercial radio. When I worked in radio, this song wouldn’t even have been considered. After all, it was hugely controversial to play the edited version of Alanis Morissette’s You Outta Know on the air. And then, there’s the Tragically Hip.
I think they get a pass, but not sure why. Their songs aren’t really controversial, but they do have a serious message, and often times tell a story. But they also don’t hold back when they want to drop and F-Bomb.
The lyrics in this one are “you said you didn’t give a fuck about hockey i never saw someone say that before”. While the F-Bomb is pretty subtle in the song, it’s still there, unedited. And that’s not the only Hip song to get a pass while sneaking in the F-Bomb. There’s several others that have snuck into commercial radio unedited from anything profain (though, to be honest, an F-Bomb is a lot less profain than some things). And while I love the Hip, their songs quite possibly aren’t the most recognizable throughout the world, which may be a problem with our Canadian identity (which I honestly don’t see as a problem). Or, maybe the Hip have put in a subliminal message that goes something like this:
Love each other, Love your neighbour, Love your country, Be good to everyone, Don’t be a dick, and say fuck once in a while
While traipsing around The Plains of Ashford in Guild Wars 2 with my thief Shani (not pictured above, because Shani’s armour looks cooler and at least covers her up), I really began listening to the music recently.
So, yeah, I’ve been playing a lot of Guild Wars 2. My main character is already level 44 (highly disappointed that I didn’t realize the new hat I have can’t be used until level 45). There are a great number of reasons why I love this game. From crafting, to the design aspects of the characters, to the fact you don’t need to buy more dyes to recolour your armour. But one thing I did notice is the music. Jeremy Soule composed all of the music for Guild Wars 2 (just as he did for Guild Wars) and I came to realize something. The music reminded me a lot of another game, which was also composed by Jeremy Soule. A game I’ve played since it’s release in 2002. Neverwinter Nights.
The music in Neverwinter Nights was very encompassing, and I’m one of those players who likes the music in a game (because it’s part of the game, people worked hard to add it in). Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2 and Neverwinter Nights had music that matched the atmosphere of the world, and add to the epicness that surrounds it.
The music is also very familia, as that piece from Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, sounds very similar to this piece found in the Plains of Ashford.
Whatever a person wants to say, they can’t say that the composer is plagiarizing, as Jeremy Soule composed the music to both Neverwinter Nights and the two expansions as well as the music to Guild Wars, Nightfall, Factions, Eye of the North and Guild Wars 2.
It’s been that kind of day where I need large amounts of classic rock to get through. Here’s just a sampling.
From Ian Morrison of Friends of the CBC:
I have just received the following note from my friend, Margaret Atwood.
Margaret and her team have developed a new way for artists and creators everywhere – including Canadian fiction and non-fiction writers, musicians, graphic novelists and others — to reach out to new audiences here and around the globe with webcast events, personal connections, and individual signing possibilities. It’s called www.fanado.com.
This project offers an important new way for the world-class art of Canadian creators to find and reach new audiences. I have supported this important project. I invite you to consider supporting it too by visiting www.indiegogo.com/fanado.
For a project like this to work, there must be a groundswell, and a wide base of support – just as for public broadcasting, of which Margaret is a steadfast supporter.
Writing projects, fiction and non-fiction, writers, musicians, graphic novelists and more! This might also be a great opportunity for women creators in Canada to showcase their work as well.
- Margaret Atwood joins story-sharing website Wattpad (guardian.co.uk)
- Margaret Atwood starts raising funds for Fanado (teleread.com)
- Margaret Atwood joins Toronto-based writing site Wattpad (business.financialpost.com)
- Margaret Attwood joins the Wattpad community (teleread.com)
I usually have one tune that runs through my head when I’m about ready to come home on a Thursday. It’s been a tiring couple of days, what with a very late Wednesday (last night at 9:00 p.m.) and a very early Thursday (this morning at 6:30 a.m.) so when one o’clock rolls around, it’s good to get home.
The song going through my head on the way home:
I was a young tyke when that song first played oh so long ago. As luck should have it, along with a great amount of coincidence, a friend sent me a link to another youtube video, which happened to be a cover tune of that very tune by the Knack.
I’m not usually big on cover tunes, but this one’s pretty good, especially when it’s a Scandinavian metal band doing the work (Hammerfall).
The Hip have a new album. Entitled And Now For Plan A, the first single is At Transformation. Familiar stylings of the Hip’s sound that’s finished off with the poetic lyrics of Gord Downey. Here’s a listen.
I’ve had a soundtrack bouncing around in my head for Black Mask and Pale Rider. So, I thought I’d share. The first book is still available in trade paperback and digital download.
- Shameless self promotion of the evening. (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Black Mask & Pale Rider – rewriting the adventures (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
Miracles is the theme of today’s series of quotes. Only because it all kicks off with a quote of miracles. Or love, depending upon how you read it.
“Where there is great love there are always miracles.” ~Willa Cather
“Life is 10% what you make it, and 90% how you take it.” ~Irving Berlin, songwriter
“Cherish all your happy moments: they make a fine cushion for old age.” ~Christopher Morley
Here’s one for a belated father’s day.
“The best fathers not only give us life but also teach us how to live.” ~author unknown
And just because the first thing that popped into my head when I read miracles was hot chocolate, I’m now going to make everyone else get this song stuck in their head too.
That depends on what I’m doing at the time, really.
And, whether I have headphones on or off.
With headphones on, as loud as possible. Without breaking my eardrums, that is.
Without headphones, I try to keep the noise level to a minimum so as not to disturb my neighbours.
The name Two Steps From Hell may not conjure images of music that would inspire, but for the past week, it’s been doing just that. As the wikipedia page describes:
Two Steps From Hell is a production music company based in Los Angeles, California. Founded by Nick Phoenix and Thomas J. Bergersen, the company produces music for movie trailers and top ten classical albums on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby.
In particular, the group’s music has been used in trailers for such films as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Star Trek, The Dark Knight, The Fighter, Avatar, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, No Country For Old Men, 2012, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Matrix, Inception, Drive Angry, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, The Town, Priest and Prince of Persia, as well as video games such as Mass Effect 2, Mass Effect 3, Killzone 3, and Star Wars: The Old Republic and television shows such as Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Blue Mountain State, Merlin and Frozen Planet.
Their album Nero was released officially on 1st October 2011.
Their official website has a great deal more information about the group. This music has really been helping a lot to inspire some expansive scenes in Rocket Fox. An example below of their music, from Mass Effect 3, Two Steps From Hell – Protectors of the Earth.
- Mass Effect 3 Launch Trailer Premieres (bnbgaming.com)
- Meet the Composers Behind Mass Effect 3 (g4tv.com)
- The Perfect Writing Music (mitchallan.wordpress.com)
At this time of year, many will look to Christmas with joy and hope and laughter. I do to. Many will also partake in the touring of Christmas lights, and I admit I enjoy taking the usual tours around communities to view what people have crafted with their light displays. Can’t forget food. Having a wonderful feast is great and satisfying. There’s also Christmas music.
Which I tend to distance myself from.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind Christmas music. For about three hours on Christmas day itself. But the rest of the time, I can totally do without it. My aversion from Christmas music can be blamed on my working ten years in radio. From December 1st right up until Christmas day, the frequency of Christmas music increases. At a few stations I worked for, it would start with one tune a day for a week. Then one tune an hour, then two tunes an hour, followed by three, and then Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were crammed solid with 100% Christmas music. There’s only so many versions of Jingle Bells one person can take.
So my tastes changed. I lean more toward classical fair. Dramatic music of certain movies, or video games, that come out around Christmas or announced around Christmas, and I listen to those.
The following is a large sampling of music I listen to around this time of year.
From Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
From Guild Wars 2
From The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Also from Guild Wars 2, the Norn Theme.
Basically, this is usually what I’ll listen to. Not that I don’t like Christmas music, I just got very tired of it after ten years working behind a mic and playing tunes at radio stations.
However, in whatever way you celebrate the season, whether that be Festivus, Christmas, Hanukkah, the Solstice, or just getting together for good food, good friends and good times, have a Happy Holiday Season.
Music for the morning, just something to get started.
Just finishing the very short story How I Wish I Was In Sherbrooke Now, an adventure of Black Mask & Pale Rider, readers will notice that there are three Stan Rogers songs I make mention of (including the Northwest Passage, that Pania and Shani sing). They are sort of sea shanties, and songs of the sea, that I found fitting (and was listening to heavily).
Firs things first, here’s a quick list of the parts to the story.
- Black Mask & Pale Rider: How I Wish I Was In Sherbrooke Now – Pt. 1
- Black Mask & Pale Rider: How I Wish I Was In Sherbrooke Now – Pt. 2
- Black Mask & Pale Rider: How I Wish I Was In Sherbrooke Now – Pt. 3
- Black Mask & Pale Rider: How I Wish I Was In Sherbrooke Now – Pt. 4
Stan Rogers was a Canadian folk musician who wrote and developed many songs that had the sound of a good sea shanty. Born in Hamilton, Ontario, he would spend most of the summers of his youth visiting relatives in Nova Scotia. It was there that he learned the history and way of life in the Maritimes, which had a profound influence on his musical development. He was given his first guitar at the age of 5, and often used the Celtic sound in his music. He most often performed using a 12-string guitar. His best known works are Northwest Passage, Barrett’s Privateers, The Mary Ellen Carter, Make and Break Harbour, The Idiot, The Field Behind The Plow, Lies, Fogarty’s Cove, White Squall and Forty-five Years.
His life was cut short in 1983, when he and 22 others died of smoke inhalation on an Air Canada Flight from the Kerrville Folk Festival. The plane was forced to land in Cincinnati after a fire broke out in the cabin.
Here are the three songs that helped inspire the piece Black Mask & Pale Rider: How I Wish I Was In Sherbrooke Now.
I have such an eclectic taste in music. I listen to everything and anything. Country, rock, metal, blues, jazz, world music…
There isn’t one genre I’m really tied to.
Blind Guardian‘s awesome Turn The Page is a good start to this, I guess you could call it a rant. It’s all about movies and television and what’s out there right now. There have been an extremely good number of books and television shows and movies over the last little while. Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, Hunger Games, even Marvel Comics taking a hold and fully embracing the silver screen with smash hits like Iron Man, Hulk (the second one with Edward Norton), Spider-man, Captain America, and next year’s Avengers on the horizon. If only DC would do something like that instead of trying to push two of it’s three mega star characters (and the third they somehow have a problem with because it’s a woman in the title role).
But there’s also this other very sad effect going on, and that’s to reboot or remake classic movies. I just read a review of two of them, and both got startlingly different ratings. They are Fright Night and Conan the Barbarian. Fright Night was pegged as an excellent movie that has updated itself quite well, while the remake of Conan was called, essentially, a steaming pile of shit.
Hollywood has a tendency of doing this, remaking a movie that did incredibly well decades ago in a hope to cash in on the popularity. Most have been complete and utter failures that couldn’t even stand up to the original. This has seriously gotten me thinking, has Hollywood started scraping the bottom of the barrel and realized they don’t have anything original to do? If so, they aren’t looking hard enough to find new ideas.
A lot of those new ideas rest in the hands of online web fiction authors. Some of those web fiction authors have gone onto land publishing deals. Some of those web fiction authors have taken advantage of podcasting, such as James Melzer with his Zombie Chronicles. But there are tons of unique and interesting stories out there, and I wanted to use this time to introduce people to a few of them.
Scryer’s Gulch in a nutshell: Undercover Treasury Agent Annabelle Duniway is on the trail of a brilliant, twisted spellcaster in a 19th century mining town full of demons, ghosts and werecritters in this weekly fantasy western series.
Welcome to Crescent Manor. Where the rent is cheap and your neighbours are dead to the world.—The Landlord
Mark and Nathan Connor are twins, but in name only. There is little to connect them, save their current residence in Crescent Manor, an old building situated in the centre of a mid-sized city.
They are unaware the tenants of Crescent Manor are never housed at random. With its large, brooding stained glass tree bearing down on them from the fourth floor down to the first, it watches, and waits for one world to topple angrily into the next.
The Astonishing Adventures of Lord Likely by Mr. Andrew D. Fanton
BEHOLD! The most THRILLING tales ever committed to the inter-net!
OBSERVE! As Victorian adventurer and gentle-man of action, Lord Likely, solves BAFFLING mysteries and battles TERRIFYING foes!
GASP! As Lord Likely and his hapless man-servant, Botter, encounter killer prostitutes, undead gentlemen, female pirates and HORRIFYING beasts!
THRILL! As Likely beds a succession of gorgeous females, while keeping his top-hat on!
WINCE! As his lordship gets completely and utterly drunk and falls into a hedge!
Bought to you using the very finest pixels, and only the best electrons money can buy.
These are just three very good web fiction series that are entertaining and while using some classic hooks, use them in a very unique and interesting way. I encourage anyone to find these and start reading.
The last song I added was actually an entire album. The Cult – Sonic Temple. I have that on vinyl, but ripped it into mp3 from a friend’s disc just so I could have it. I’m thinking of buying a USB turn table so I can play some of my old LPs again. Sgt. Peppers, The Wall, Pat Benatar, The Cult and several others.