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Music Monday: Retro hour August 27, 2018

Posted by thejinx in music.
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Lo and behold! I haven’t forgotten about my “weekly” feature. I’m just terrible at sticking to it.

This week, I wanted to share some arrangements with a retro, vintage, even old-fashioned flair. I’m always amazed at the imagination of arrangers, and these songs in particular impressed me.

HyperDuck SoundWorks – Punk Hairdo Kid (download)

We’ll start back in the ’80s with this synth-pop arrangement of “Chrono Trigger” from the SNES classic Chrono Trigger. This one delighted me on first listen, both for the kitschy-ness and the quality of the arrangement, and I can totally picture this music to the opening of a cheesy 1980s cartoon about Chrono Trigger.

 

Cyril the Wolf – Dancing in the Jungle (download)

Going further back now with this arrangement of “Brinstar Green Soil” from Super Metroid that makes me envision a ’70s cop show in which Samus Aran hunts down aliens while driving a muscle car and wearing an orange and yellow pantsuit with padded shoulders. In fact, listening to this song spawned an entire novel idea just a couple months ago, which took over my mind and made it awfully hard to focus on anything else for a few weeks, at least.

HyperDuck SoundWorks – Yearnings na Gaoithe (download)

HyperDuck SoundWorks delivers again with this gorgeous ’60s ambient rock style arrangement of “Longing of the Wind” from Chrono Trigger. The mellow beat, lo-fi instruments, and added record scratches are expertly woven into an authentic-sounding tribute to early synth rock and smoothly transforms this classic tune into something almost timeless.

Brandon Strader – Terra in Jazz (download)

Now it’s time to go way back, as Brandon Strader arranges “Terra” from Final Fantasy VI in a Prohibition-era jazz style that feels so real, you can almost smell the cigarette smoke in a dingy little speakeasy. Once again, the arrangement is so smooth, it feels like the original song was made for this style.

Scrab Cakes – Silent Film Partita (download)

And I’ll close out this week with another completely unexpected yet brilliant arrangement, a piano solo of “Wood Carving Partita” from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in the particular style of ragtime used in classic silent films. What else can I say? Like the other tracks, it’s an ingenious transformation of a singular original song, and it was a well-deserved win for the March 2017 Dwelling of Duels.

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To Boldly Go July 28, 2014

Posted by thejinx in writing.
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As a mother of a now 3-year-old daughter, I tend to watch a lot of movies aimed at young girls. And my daughter fits the trope perfectly – her favourite things are princesses, faeries, and My Little Pony. She more or less came into these interests on her own; I didn’t really let her watch movies or TV shows until this year, and when I let her sit in front of the TV, she has pretty strong opinions about what she wants to see. Yes, we might have been the ones to originally introduce her to these things and allow her to continue watching them, but I try to offer her a well-rounded selection to choose from. And I’ll admit it, I just don’t want to let her watch something I can’t stand.

Oh, sure, there are exceptions – she likes some gender-neutral things like Winnie the Pooh, she has seen and enjoyed Thomas the Tank Engine, she does have a particular interest in Disney’s Planes, and she loves watching me play Mario Kart – but primarily, she likes the girly things. In fact, when it comes to Mario Kart, she insists upon me playing a princess as driver.

I don’t think Disney princesses are bad role models. Nor do I want to try to mold her into liking the things I prefer; I would rather she decide on her own what she likes. (Yes, this means I do not believe that putting Star Wars or Firefly costumes on kids far too young to be watching those is “parenting done right.”) But after watching so many of these movies and shows targeted to young girls, I find myself yearning for some variety. Why can’t we have a simplistic, kid-friendly story with a happy ending that takes place in present day, or the future?

So the bug bit me. I want to write one. I want to write a middle grade or younger story about a space princess. Or something like that. I want the main character to be female, because there’s not enough of that out there and I want it to be someone my daughter can relate to, and I want her to be independent and the hero, but not at the expense of her femininity. I want little girls like my daughter to read/hear this story and think that girls can do anything.

But beyond that, I didn’t know where to start. I got stuck trying to think of the theme or message of the story. I don’t want it to be about the girl learning that she can do anything, because then the conflict would center around the assertion that she can’t, which is not the message I want to send. But then, what should the theme be? I tried looking to my daughter for inspiration, but – fortunately for her and unfortunately for the sake of a story – I just don’t see any problems in her that might help to be resolved through another medium. Maybe I’m just overthinking things, but as someone who tends toward dark endings, complicated conflicts, and villains that are more grey than black, a story like this is quite a leap.

Then, my daughter gave me an idea in another way. I was listening to music and she asked me what song was playing, as she tends to do. It was an arrangement of a track from the Metroid video games. I immediately saw this as an opportunity. I showed her one of my Metroid game cases and told her about Samus Aran, fearless and strong warrior for justice in space – and female.

And I was overthinking things, because that’s all I need for this story: a space heroine. I’ll just go to a new galaxy and let the girl save the day. The rest is just details.

It’s still going to be quite a challenge for me to write, especially if I want a story I can read to my daughter. But just as I believe there’s too much stagnancy in speculative fiction for adults, I think too many kids’ stories are the same, and the best way I can combat that is to write something new.