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Music Monday: Smile! November 7, 2016

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Because everybody could use an extra smile on a Monday, right?

My “feel better” playlist has a few different types of songs on it to help combat a bad day. There are some with uplifting lyrics, some sweet or bouncy tunes that always bring a smile, and some that are just silly for various reasons that make me laugh. After a very lengthy hiatus from my so-called weekly feature, I thought I’d share some of these favourites in case it makes anyone else feel a little better about their day.

 

Owl City – When Can I See You Again?

It’s no secret, and probably no surprise, that Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph is one of my favourite movies. While my enjoyment of this song, the ending theme, is probably increased by my love of the movie, it has great energy and inspiring lyrics and tends to make things feel a little better.

The Big Band of Rogues – Super Mario 64 Opening Theme

While we’re on the topic of energy, check out this delightful jazz ensemble arrangement from Super Mario 64 (going all the way back to the Nintendo 64, 20 years old now). This rendition of the track couldn’t be better in my opinion, and it never fails to cheer me up.

Mirai – Open Up Your Mind

For a more traditional feel better song, here’s a track from the soundtrack to the anime Saiyuki. It’s a sweet and hopeful song with a lovely sound.

Helen Trevillion – Ode to My Cake OH CAKE

A lot of Helen Trevillion‘s music belongs in my feel better list – such as “Waiting For the Snow”, which has sad lyrics but a lovely melody, or “Stepping Stones” which has hopeful lyrics but a sad tune – but one of my absolute favourites of hers is this track, which also helps bridge the gap between the happy and silly music. It’s adorable, it’s catchy, it’s got a sweet bouncy melody, and it’s about cake. What more could you want?

Sir Jordanius – Interstellar Sasuke 5ever Space Funkadet (warning: includes NSFW lyrics)

Who wants some funk? Truth be told, when I first heard this song, I wasn’t sure if I hated it or loved it. It is so unlike most video game arrangements I’ve heard that only the weirdness struck me at first. But it grew on me fast. The production quality is great, the fact that it arranges the old 3D Pinball Space Cadet game from Windows XP never fails to amuse me, and I love the weirdness.

anterrior, Chimpazilla, timaeus222 – They See Me Rollin’ (includes NSFW lyrics)

Disclaimer: This song probably won’t be as enjoyable if you haven’t played The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. But if you have, it’s pretty darn funny.

I think that’s enough for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into part of my music collection. Maybe if there’s interest, I’ll share some more tracks on this list at another time.

As a bonus, I’ll close with some more music that never fails to calm me down: the Secret of Mana original soundtrack. Yes, the 16-bit instruments are a bit dated at this point, but I love the sound of them in a way no real instruments can quite capture and the tracks themselves are beautiful.

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Music Monday: Video Games Live February 23, 2016

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In the interest of posting more about the things I enjoy, I am resurrecting my short-lived feature highlighting some of the music I listen to. This week, I want to talk about Video Games Live.

VGL is pretty much what the name suggests – a concert series that performs live arrangements of video game music, with a symphony orchestra as well as electric guitar usually played by the creator of the show, Tommy Tallarico.

I heard about VGL pretty much right from its beginning in 2005. It seems like something that I would have jumped on, but it took me a couple years to get into it. Live shows aren’t usually my thing and I’m generally more interested in recordings I can listen to later, which weren’t available for VGL for the first few years. Mainly, though, on reading about it, I was convinced that they primarily performed music from new games, and it’s been about 20 years since I was anything close to current in my video game habits.

But, in the summer of 2007 or 2008, I was alerted on short notice to a free concert that they were playing in downtown Toronto. I decided it was worth a trip into the city to see what they were all about.

I am so glad that I did. What I discovered that afternoon was not just masterful orchestrations of video game music both new and old, but an amazingly fun and engaging live show. There was a game of Frogger with the symphony providing the music live as it happened, with the player – a member of the audience – using herself as the controller. There was a Guitar Hero competition on-stage with two winners of an earlier competition before the show where they played Guitar Hero Aerosmith, which was not yet released, and the winner absolutely killed it.Tommy Tallarico himself brought so much energy to the show and drew the audience in and had everyone singing along. And I embarrassed my company by screaming my head off when the encore started, a medley of music from Castlevania, which I recognized from the first two notes while Tommy Tallarico was still introducing it.

I have since gone back to VGL at Gen Con and Toronto. I’ve seen lots more great features, special guests, post-show meet and greets, and even a proposal. I’ve never had so much fun at a live concert as at Video Games Live.

And, of course, I’ve bought the music. I purchased the first two CDs at shows, both of which are signed. For the third and fourth albums, Tommy Tallarico used Kickstarter to fund them and I contributed enough for digital copies. I love them all thoroughly, even the songs from video games I’d never played.

Now, he has started a Kickstarter for VGL’s fifth album. As a previous contributor, I was alerted to it right away, and I’m thrilled to see that barely five days in they are already within 85% of their goal, and I sincerely hope that they will reach at least some of their stretch goals and add more tracks to the album.

I’ve already contributed and I implore you to consider doing the same. For $10 you can help bring this project to life and get high-quality digital files of the entire album when it’s released, along with a bonus disc of an assortment of music from various guest artists – and I can tell you from experience that these bonus tracks are almost as good as the new album itself.

To give you a taste of the kind of music to expect, I’ll leave you with my unexpected joys from each album so far, tracks from games I haven’t played but ended up loving these arrangements.

From the first album: Kingdom Hearts suite

Video Games Live: Level 2 – Civilization IV – Baba Yetu (Duet Version)

Video Games Live: Level 3 – Secret of Monkey Island

Video Games Live: Level 4 – Too many favourites to choose, but for a taste of something different, Metal Gear Solid – Snake Eater

16-bit nostalgia October 5, 2008

Posted by thejinx in art, ff6, writing.
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Final Fantasy VI, released in North America as Final Fantasy III for Super Nintendo, has been one of my favourite video games ever since I first watched my brother play it when I was still in elementary school. I loved the characters – well, most of them – the story and the gameplay, little say the music.

Growing up and revisiting this old favourite, I have since realized that some of the characters are inconsistent at times and other parts of the script could stand to be cleaned up as well.  I still love the game, but, well, it could be improved upon – and what can’t, right?  So, I decided to rewrite FFVI.

The events of the game will still happen, though they may not necessarily happen the same way.  Likely much of the dialogue will be different, at least slightly, and some character interactions will be different, some drastically.  There will be scenes added that were never in the game, primarily for more character interaction that I wish had been in the game.  I can’t say how often I will update this story, as it is far from priority in my endeavors, but it is fun and easy to write – after all, the story’s already there.

As this idea has been on my mind of late and I’ve been revisiting the game script – and more recently the game itself – of course I had to add Final Fantasy VI fanart to the collection I’ve begun drawing in the hopes of getting a convention table:

This is a scene from the beginning of the game, when Locke protects Terra from the Imperial soldiers that come after her.

For those familiar with the game, I hope my novelization/rewrite of FFVI does justice to the game and gives you a fond stroll down memory lane.  For those who aren’t, I hope you enjoy my rendition of this classic and well-loved game, as well.

Now, without further ado, here is Final Fantasy VI: Remix. (more…)

Bizarre kind of flattery September 9, 2008

Posted by thejinx in art.
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Well, would you look at that.  Somebody’s stolen my art.

Ennki on DeviantArt

I’m surprised and, yes, a little flattered that this person likes my art enough to… want to be like me?  I don’t know.  I’m not angry or upset, more surprised than anything.  I’m really not concerned about people using my art or even wanting to claim it as their own; people who would do that clearly have bigger problems with self-esteem, delusions, or some other issue for me to be very worried about it, and I get something much better out of saying I drew something than someone else – satisfaction for a job well done.  This, incidentally, is why I was completely happy with a friend of mine claiming my art as his own when he asked me for help with homework assignments, but that’s another story.

I know my art is open to all sorts of unsavory uses on the internet, but the point is that I’d like it to be seen.  I don’t believe in slapping huge watermarks over my art, ruining the picture I’m trying to share.  And if someone gets some misguided satisfaction from being given credit for something they didn’t do, well, good for them.

Still, it’s hard not to leave a mischievous comment with a link to my DeviantArt image page about Ennki’s image being too small.

I’ll leave you now with an updated scan of the Simon Belmont sketch, which I was able to work on during the flight out west:

Pictures from the trip will come soon, once I have the time to go through them.  It’s a busy week.

Experiencing technical distractions August 8, 2008

Posted by thejinx in books, life, writing.
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Last weekend, we bought a Wii. This is a terrible, terrible thing for all my other hobbies. Needless to say, I am not close to finishing any new art this week. My biggest accomplishment is starting to get the hang of powersliding in Mario Kart. Curses, but that game is fun.

Unfortunately, I haven’t done a lot of writing this week, either. After having the 2007 Writer’s Market sitting on my desk for two weeks, I finally took down information on publishers and writing contests before having to return it to the library today. As such, I’ve spent a lot of time at work this week, my last as a receptionist without much to do most of the time, researching and compiling information on writing contests. It has consumed my life a bit too much at the moment, though I think my list is pretty stable now. I did write a new short story this week, one I’m sorry to say I’m not going to share online yet simply because I want it to remain unpublished for contest purposes, and I’m going to be entering some contests in the near future. Wish me luck.

I also finally read a steampunk novel.

The Difference Engine, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling – I found numerous references to this novel as a quintessential steampunk story online, so I put it on the reading list and checked it out of the library recently. It’s difficult to summarize this book, as even after having finished it, I still don’t really know what the point of the story was. In a world where the computer is invented more than a century ahead of its time, three people come into contact with an extremely powerful and mysterious program, and the story chronicles their struggles as they deal with the ramifications the program presents.

This book was a bit difficult to get into. There were a lot of period terms and the authors’ own invented devices thrown in right off the bat, most – but not all – of which I could pick up in context, but rarely on the first instance. I’ll credit the authors for effectively blurring the line between actual period technology and the devices unique to their world, but it was all a little difficult to follow at least at first. In addition to this, passages would abruptly switch tense and purpose entirely out of context to the rest of the story, and the whole last part of the story, at least fifty pages or so, was written completely different to the rest of it and seemed jarring and out of place, little say extraordinarily difficult to understand.

I enjoyed the second part of the story. Some questions, some of them very essential ones, were still left unanswered at the end of it, but the events of that part of the story were interesting enough, the narrative itself taking me into the story enough for it not to matter much. It had an effective beginning, exposition, and ending, and even though I didn’t like all of it, it did keep my interest well throughout. That a good hundred or so pages followed it didn’t really detract from the enjoyment of that segment, but I simply didn’t feel as compelled to keep reading as I did before. The conclusion of the second part of the story made me feel like the rest of it should have been denouement, when it was meant as a complete story of its own, one which never really took off the ground the way the second, and to a lesser extent the first, parts of the story did.

It was different, and I’m sure it’s more to some people’s taste than others. I found it a bit jarring, and honestly, even setting those flaws aside, I’ve read better books. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great, either.