Tuesday, May 24, 2016

First Chapter, Free

Hey kids!

I just put "In the Shadows of Myrmidons" on Tablo Publishing where the first chapter is absolutely FREE! Soon after it will be available for purchase through the Apple store I guess. A word of warning, all of my stuff if formatted for Kindle and Createspace, so it came out a little strange on Tablo, but I plan to delete what I've uploaded and upload a better formatted version.

You can find me on Tablo here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Soundtrack of the Novel of In the Shadows of Myrmidons

I post this with little formatting just to get it out there with the intention of maybe cleaning it up. For now, enjoy it as it is. I'll have to at any rate, as I notice it's short like 5 videos...I can account for a couple, but not sure on the rest..

The idea to come up with a soundtrack for the novel "In the Shadows of Myrmidons" is not exactly hubris, though perhaps there is some, but created from a desire to share with everyone part of the whole vision that I, and maybe Nick, had for these stories. As far back as my senior year of high school I was coming up with soundtracks for stories I wrote and this is a continuation of that premise.

It's also birthed from the desire to, I guess, emulate things that came before. I guess I'm bitin' on someone else's style. 

I've loved star wars books since middle school, and not only does "Myrmidons" sort of follow the format of a star wars book (each character has separate, but ultimately related, adventures) but it also takes a page from "Star Wars:  Shadows of the Empire" specifically. This book had a soundtrack, and it was excellent, on par with anything Williams did. Of course it also had a videogame, toys and comics, but those are beyond my ability. For now. Although I have a couple ideas for board games if anyone is interested in such. OR if anyone wants to work on a phone game or toys, I'd be down for that.

"Shadows of the Empire" did a soundtrack in the tradition of classical music works being inspired by literary works. While I haven't found any specific examples of that, I took Joel Mcneely's's liner notes at face value and sort of extended the idea in this way because I can't read, write or play music outside of pressing play.

As I was working on Myrmidons, there was a good chunk of music I listened to for inspiration, some of which ended up in this list. Much of it, though is stuff I put a lot of thought into as I reread the novel and tried to think of music that would work as a soundtrack. Many tracks are really what I would use, many are "close enough" and convey the mood, but not quite. Many songs would also use just a small portion, but it's beyond my ability to do that, so you get the whole song.

My rules for selecting songs were that any in-story songs which generally meant songs with lyrics had to be from prior to 1996, because I didn't want to be anachronistic. Meanwhile instrumental pieces I viewed as a score being written in modern times, so some of the instrumental pieces I chose are relatively recent
So below, here is the track list for the YouTube playlist (link). The format is as follows. The queue/scene from the novel, the actual song name (because I have no doubt some clown will have some of these songs removed sooner or later, and in fact this has already happened) and maybe a description of why I chose it or another amusing anecdote.

So until someone with a musical talent contacts me and wants to write a score for the fun of it or needs a novel to inspire them to write a score, this is it. Also, please buy the book on Nook or Kindle. Maybe Createspace once I can get the price down.

1 phantom bowman sneaks in
(La resa dei conti - morricone)

The early part of this song, aka the music box part, has kind of a sad and ominous feeling to it, which also sounded to me quiet enough to double as a stealth song.

2 in the lair
(Earthbound - cave of the past)

3 in the lair
(Earthbound giygas path(?) )

4 in the lair
(Earthbound giygas intro)

5 battle with Cycloptika
Super metroid mother brain battle

Songs 2 - 5 were games I had thoroughly enjoyed in middle school all the way thru to adulthood. Creepy at times, scary and epic. A perfect assortment for a final battle. 

6 hospital
Moonlight sonata

It's classical for a reason. 

7 theme song
Invincible - pat benatar 

When we were young and idealistic enough to have absurdly expansive dreams, Nick and I wrote these stories out as if they'd be scripts for comics or TV series. Every good TV show needs a good theme song, and pat benatar was the only artist epic enough to do ours. This song was always Nick's choice for our theme song, and I liked it so much I agreed.  

8 & 9  Chaz's abduction
Soul reaver underworld theme
Soul reaver cathedral (reaver) 

Kurt Harland, formerly of the band Information Society, is probably one of the most underrated musicians of our day. He did the soundtrack for X-Men 2: Clone Wars and the Soul Reaver games. Creepy, moody and sometimes chilling, the music of Soul Reaver is an excellent fit for this scene and others to follow. 

10 Snake awake
Chronotrigger Ruined World Eternal Derelict from Overclocked Remix by CotMM-68030

This song conveys kind of a hopeless, bleak outlook. Probably because it's a post-apocalyptic...uh... ruined world. I chose this version because I really have a thing for ambient soundscapes and blurring the lines between regular sounds and music to create something otherworldly. In this case, I like how the ambient sounds create an atmosphere that matches the scene I wanted.

This will hopefully also introduce you to the work of a talented musician you might otherwise never heard. 

11 the gates of alphacowomooga
The Advantage Castlevania intro and stage one by Elf-titled

This scene where snake stands at the entrance to Alphacowomooga was written as an homage to the intro to the first Castlevania game, thus the music. I like this version because it is a harder rock version and it's an indie artist. Though the intro is all that I needed, it's a good song. 

12 &  13 Locker Room Brawl
Steel bars by Michael Bolton
Concrete Jungle by the Specials

Without spoiling too much, the choice of Steel Bars was inspired by a friend from my church who had been in a gang. It was one of his favorite songs, and really, gangsters like love songs too, because they're human beings too. He also listened to boy bands. Once, he put a CD in my car and I was expecting Lil Jon, but out came Backstreet Boys. What I felt is like when Charlie Murphy said Prince made him pancakes. I have since gained some respect for the work of BSB, actually.

Concrete Jungle, just because it's a good fight song.

14 Gazzo and Malcolm
Agahnim's theme from zelda 3

From the early parts of Zelda 3 I believe, this was the song for the evil wizard that you fight prior to ending up in the Dark World. I thought it had an ominous feel for a villain, but not a villain who's at the top. Certainly it works for two antagonists plotting out some wickedness.
Which of the two characters does it represent? Is it a clue? Read the book! 

Still, I'm not sure why someone felt the need to extend this song out to 30 minutes, 3 would probably suffice. Skip once you've had enough.

15 Dan, From a Locker
Strago's theme from Final fantasy VI

Poor Dan! Just a goofy theme for a goofy intro. 

16 Los Tiburones in the Alley
Maximum Carnage - Supervillains 

Green Jell-O, and yes that is what I was introduced to them as, first captured my attention with their 3 little pigs video when I was in maybe 7th grade.  Not long after that I picked up Maximum Carnage came out, and while the game was impossibly hard, it made an impact on me. Great cameos, great characters, impossible odds against Spider-Man, and most importantly, an awesome soundtrack. Supervillains was probably my favorite track in the game and really is great battle music.

17 (re)Introducing, Robbie D'Imperio
Lifting Shadows off a Dream

I started this list so long ago that I can't remember why I chose this as a song here. So...let me BS something quick. Robbie is a character who has suffered great loss, as you'll recall...since I assume you're reading the book. When he meets Snake, that baggage comes with him but so does some small glimmer of hope that things are going to change. This song by Dream Theater has a hopeful feel to me while at the same time possessing an ominous and wary undertone.

18 Chat With Robbie
Final Fantasy VII - Trail of Blood

An excellent instrumental piece, again with multiple emotional undertones. There's more than a few FF7 songs on here because the game came out in my senior year, which is also when I started writing in earnest. My friend Kevin gave me a tape with some songs from FF7 and I guess they stuck with me. Especially since I later bought the soundtrack.

19 Malcolm and Mitchell
Xizor's theme - Star Wars Shadows of the Empire

Prince Xizor was a top dog in the underworld, it only makes sense that his theme be used for nefarious dealings.

20 Snake's new Routine
Standin' on the Top - Rick James
Compared to living homeless on the streets, Snake's life has taken a drastic shift for the better. He's on top of the world you might say. Rick James has the energy someone on top of the world might.

21 snake and Scarlett talk
Look of love - the zombies

Nuff said.

22 chaz's solitude
Beginning of the nightmare 

Chaz gets all the cool songs, the moody RPG and videogame pieces. Probably because videogames are full of people with dark powers, and RPGs in particular. Again, FF7 was a favorite in my senior year of high school which is when I started writing, and this song sets the mood.

23 Robbie's basement
Everybody Wants some

Better Off Dead, where I first heard this song, burned this song into my mind as something heard while some tortured genius is at work. Which is why it's perfect for a gym, because gyms are all about torture.

24 hangin with dan
Super mario 2 gypsy jazz

They're playing mario 2 in this scene, and it's a unique take on the song.

25 the museum
Dr. Andonuts lab theme from earthbound

This song may also appear in the fourside museum in earthbound. Not sure, it's been a while.since I played it. It works as a nice calm museum ambient music. 

26 Tiburones in the museum
Soul Reaver 2 overland

While not specifically a theme for los Tiburones, this music fits the mood of the scene. Menacing, but not overtly filled with danger, the promise of potential conflict is well conveyed.

27 the gangs of alphacowomooga
Officer cadet - final fantasy tactics

An analytical feeling song for snakes commentary of the gangs.

28  brought before principal Malcolm
Chronotrigger the trial in concert oc remix version

A farcical meeting/trial should take place with this music. If it weren't for this song being a tad cheerful, it'd be an excellent fit for Franz Kafka's novel, the trial. 
This is not the only time this song appears.

29 chaz vs los Tiburones
Twist and crawl by the English beat
30 powdered milk man - the aquabats

31 ironside excerpt - QuincyJones

These 3 songs encapsulate the brief fight that ensues. Two of the songs are fight songs  played by Frank on his tape-deck, the last is just a good song excerpt for some about to lose their mind, as seen in Kill Bill. So sadly, I did ripoff, I mean "homage" Tarantino. But he's been doing to others for  like twenty years, so I'm sure he won't mind me borrowing the idea for one totally unrelated story and situation.
Especially since no one buys my novel.

32 snakes discovery
Bloody excrement - final fantasy tactics 

33 ovelias anxiety - final fantasy tactics
There's an uneasy sense of danger and later a sad feeling that goes with these two songs respectively. Given what snake finds in the alley, it's appropriate.

34 the pink shirt gangs enter the school
Turks' theme from Final fantasy 7

35 axe gang theme from kung fu hustle

The Turks in final fantasy 7 were well dressed thugs with a cool theme song to match. Though well dressed, they weren't exactly a pushover. 

The them for the axe gang in kung fu hustle conveyed a similar sentiment, but with a little more edge, pardon the pun. 

Both songs work well for the early ventures of the pink shirt gang, a gang which took fashion to the next level with their pink dress shirts. But they not only took fashion to the top, they took power with them. 

36  pool hang out
She bop - cyndi lauper

A fun, 80s, hanging out with friends song. I'm not a huge cyndi lauper fan, and in fact, this is one of two songs of hers I really like, but nick is a huge fan and so it's there for him.
In the late 90s, the 80s music was my thing, as was classic NES and 80s movies. Nick was into all that too, so we were hipsters nostalgic for the 80s about 20 years before the 80s nostalgia began. So for this group of friends to listen to 80s songs while hanging out would be something that we would have done. In theory...

37 Dine 'n Dash
Cait sith theme - final fantasy 7 

Playful theme for a playful scene about a couple of kids committing petty larceny. 

38 warlock house and battle
Final fantasy 7 heavy mako song

39 final battle with gannon ocarina of time
A tense build up to a battle between two evil magic users. Gannon was always a hardcore evil wizard and his music was pretty intense as well.

40 Robbie's recruitment drive
Final fantasy tactics hero theme

This music is from one of those lull moments between battles in FFT, it implies action isn't far away, because in game, it isn't.

Here, too, Robbie is doing his part to clean up the streets giving people a fresh start, but there's also the promise that preparation for a conflict is happening.

41 a new morning routine
The Crowd - operation ivy

The lyrics in this song are so spot on sometimes with how I see life in our society. We zip through our mornings getting ready to go be part of an impersonal crowd, to become a cog in the big machine. We sacrifice our time of solitude to blindly join the crowd.
Snake gets ready with a new daily routine, and a better one, but in the end he's still going out to join the crowd. But Snake, as a Christian, is in the crowd, not of the crowd. 

42 history paper
Soul Reaver - ruined city

An ominous and spooky song for what snake uncovers in his history paper.

43 Malcolm and chaz
Axe gang theme

If this were a real score written by a real musician, this meeting between chaz and Malcolm would feature a reprise/variation of the pink shirt theme, which for now is represented by the axe gang theme.

44 cafeteria battle: pink shirts vs the vendors
Trisection - final fantasy tactics 

What can I say? A game about battles has great fight music.

45 the past ain't what it used to be/contact with Robbie
Il tramanto 

For some reason, ennio morricone's music has found its way into a scene with Robbie. Morricone's earlier work is certainly a favorite of mine and here the somber tune helps Robbie's story gain needed weight.

46 Robbie remembers
The last day of the world - chrono trigger

Robbie remembers the past, and tells his young audience how different it was, because a conspiracy changed it. The day of lavos music here conveys a lost past that is unrecoverable.

47 Malcolm (?)
You...who are you?

48 chaz meditates
Soul Reaver 2 dark dangerous combat

The dark music of the soul reaver series finds another spot during this scene where chaz increases his dark powers. 

49 Myrmidon's lessons
Palpatine's teachings 

Alternative track 

50 - folds of color - ten72 

The evil spirit Myrmidon passes on dark powers to his pupil/ward in the physical realm. Palpatine's music is always a great way to convey evil.

The alternate track is from a Minnesota band/musician and has to be listened to here as they are not on YouTube. The spacey, ominous droning and ambient sound is also disconcerting in a way. If you like that song, buy his album and support an independent artist. You can also click on the "Folds of Color" hyperlink above to hear that specific song.

51 snake vs butcher block and soul glo
Instruments of destruction - N.R.G.

Just another hard core battle song for yet another fight.

52 exp?!
Fanfare final fantasy 7
A successful battle deserves good fanfare.

53 B Train South
Rescue from cloud city (5:07 and after )


54 NYC riding an empty r142-(7) train

55  subway sax
Too many zoox baritone sax

56 library
Resident Evil 2 front hall police station 

Light piano and some ambience in the background. The main hall of the raccoon city police department is deserted, yet in the midst of many hostile zones. This part of the story, the characters in this scene are in a safe place, yet what they learn could put them in danger, and in fact before and after  danger could find them.

57  cafe claudio
1/1 music for airports - Brian Eno 

Background music at it's best.

58 jerome jones
Lost pieces - chrono cross disc 1 

Lost pieces indeed are what our heroes find here when they meet Jerome Jones. The information he provides is vital to uncovering the threads of conspiracy, and perhaps more.

59  refunds in study hall
We're not gonna take it - twisted sister

Because, we're not gonna take it! 

60 duchamp
Pick up the pieces - the average white band

For whatever reason, duchamp was whistling this after cleaning up some defeated gangsters. Ask Nick, it was his idea.

61 J, on the hunt
In pursuit - final fantasy tactics

Another track that's kinda self explanatory. Final fantasy usually has good music for any situation. 

62  display case
Spinach rag, final fantasy 6 disc 2

Bunny-suiting and then putting defeated enemies into the school's display case is humiliating. This song is playful enough to get that across.

63 the throne of chaz
Ultimate koopa - Mario 64

Final boss music almost always is awesome and really intense. And although this is final boss music, this is not the final battle by any means. In fact, this is just the intro to the battle!

64 chaz vs snake!
Option 1 - new world symphony 4th movement- dudamel 

Hands down, Dudamel conducting this piece is the best I've ever heard. Its full of frantic energy, and if you watch the video, the perfomers look like they're playing like their lives depend on it. Too bad I can't find him doing all 4 movements, so instead the Willemberg version is the best version of all 4 movements.

65 Option 2 - Carmina Burana - o fortuna
O fortuna was one of Nick's excelent choices, and though it's one of those overused pieces, like vivaldi's 4 seasons, it's an excellent high energy piece 

66 - defeat
Earthbound - a bad dream

Early in earthbound, this song becomes quite familiar. It's disheartening. 

67 chaz plays myrmidon's game
Blue flowers - kool Keith (dr. Octagon) 

Dr. Octagon is a rather dark album, and as such I rarely if ever listen to it anymore. This song in particular has rather dark feeling music behind it which really fits chaz's new direction. 

68 subway ride back
Subway sound effects new.York subway station

If I had the talent, this would be an ambient piece with real subway sounds and some somber lite tunes. Since I don't, this is all you get. Keep buying the book and I'll take some music and fiction lessons.

69 Snake, meet lou starblazer
Gold lust theme, gold dust 4th theme
This song sounds way, way more epic than it really should. As a result, it's the only music epic enough, in the right way, to work in this situation where snake meets the father of Scarlett, the girl he loves.  

70 cyndi starblazer
Soul reaver sunlight glyph suspense 

71 soul reaver drowned abbey

72 soul reaver sunlight glyph

73 soul reaver sunlight glyph 

Any or all of these tracks would serve for the introduction of cyndi starblazer, Scarlett's older sister. Interesting that the soul reaver music has been mostly for chaz up until this point, does it mean something? It's something to think about.

74 chaz's bender
9volt - man or astroman

75 - bottle down - the assassinators (not available on youtube)

76 - onyonghasayo - skankin pickle

Chaz goes out and gets wasted to deal with recent events. Man or astroman has some excellent tunes that are perfect for a bender. The other song, I couldn't find on YouTube and don't know how to upload. Bottle Down was on the 2nd American Skathic album, which is an album you should buy if you like ska.
The skankin pickle song is just another good, late 90s ska song. 

77 backdoor...
Metal gear solid alert theme (two tracks, but should be one)

It makes sense when you read the story. 

78 more power
Seven notes in black - Vince tempera orchestra 

79  fanatics - final fantasy 6

Chilling, yet powerful. A perfect introduction to chaz gaining more power. The music grows darker as chaz takes more steps into the darkness.

80 church
Prayer - Castlevania symphony of the night

Not especially biblical or Christian, but a nice quiet song reminiscent of going to church I guess.

81 snake vs handsome phils and grabass
Backfire - final fantasy tactics 

Another good battle song, followed by in story battle music which is...

82 Copacabana - barry manilow

I wrote that scene before manilow came out as gay, and so the commentary in the story is meant to accurately reflect the time it took place in, when "gay" and "retarded" were used in less PC ways, especially by teen boys. And to be honest, I hate political correctness anyways. If something I say truly offends you so deeply, then you've given me far too much power over you. In any event, I do not mean it as an insult to Mr. Manilow as I do like his music. And although a character in my story uses a pejorative, I would not do so in real life to someone as I try to respect everybody I interact with.

83 chaz stalls
One - apocalyptika
No real comments here.

84 audience with top jimmy
The stick - the time

Nothing like morris day and the time to set the mood for the nicest pimp in the five boroughs. 

85 snake's war council
Forest of cutting shadows - chrono cross

Not much to say here other than I chose this song because it's thoughtful, sad and has something else beneath the surface that I can't place.

86  connerlee's bathroom accident
Holy diver - dio

A hard rockin song for someone who's rightfully angry.

87 montage
Crazy train - ozzy Osborne

Good montage music for new phantom bowman to get dressed too. Because you'd have to be crazy to be a supehero.

88 return of the phantom bowman
Exhibit 13  - blue man group

This piece reminded me, sort of, of the western music Of morricone, but different and new. Well, the phantom bowman is different and new, but the similar theme was warranted.
And a couple more montage songs maybe, or just background music while the bowman chats.

89 we don't need another hero - tina turner (M6P, this is for you, and well everyone)
90 holding out for a hero - Bonnie Tyler 

91 bowman: first interrogation
Jouney in the dark - fellowship of the ring 

Interrogation, and actually torture to get "desperately needed" information is a journey in the dark, no matter what it is. But do the ends justify the means? 

You, dear reader, have to figure that out. Especially give. The worldview of the character doing it.

92  warlock house
Soul reaver 2 overland 

93 soul reaver 2 overland combat

Good old fashioned, danger filled skulking music. Yes it appeared earlier, but it works well here too. In a real music score, they'd be different pieces, but in my OST here, we're just going for mood in most cases.

94 fire!
destruction of xizor's palace (alternate)

95 Lower Norfair
Because Norfair is hot!

96 ashes of victory
Cohkka - apocalyptica

97 unforgiven - apocalyptica
Couple good songs for brooding and reflection.

98 meeting with the Senate
The trial in concert - overclocked remix 

Another farce of an official meeting. 

99 scarlett discovers a mission
Red sky at night - david Gilmour
A somber tune for a somber mission.

100 stakeout
Faraway - apocalyptica

Another mood setting piece, moving us into darker places.

101  the phantom bowman cleans school
Hammer to fall - queen

The hammer falls, and the bowman takes on alphacowomooga.

102 phone call to gazzo's overlord
Earthbound - cave of the past

Well, there's a reason for recurring themes...

103 purvis' alarm
Ironside excerpt

Reused song, but this time it's because it sounds like an alarm.

104 lockpicking
Sneaking under the shield - the clone wars 

105 strelnikov
Destroying the shield - the clone wars 

A couple songs from the otherwise mediocre score for the clone wars theatrical movie. Just some suitable sneaking then action music.

106 searching krueger's house
Radical Dreamers - sneaking around 

Sneaking around in Krueger's house is not for the faint of heart. The radical dreamers soundtrack is amazing, and this song from it brings us some much needed creepiness.

107 encounter with top jimmy
Get it up - the time

Because Morris Day, as seen in purple rain and graffiti bridge, is the epitome of a well dressed, professional pervert. And a good musician/performer.

108 Krueger pt 2
The last of us - outbreak

The creepiness intensifies.

109 Krueger pt 3
Soul Reaver 2 overland 

110 soul reaver overland combat
Again, for mood.

111 snake vs top jimmy
Jerkout - the time

112 confronting Krueger
Suite from restless - buffy the vampire slayer

More creepy stuff.

113 cappafaroe catwalk
Don't be cruel - bobby Brown

Bobby Brown was IT in the late 80s. That's all I have to say. Between him and Prince, I don't think I heard much else worth listening to on the radio. And prince's stuff might have been mostly Purple Rain stuff.

114 consulting cyndi starblazer
Creepy music box extended 

More creepy music, but for cyndi? One of our heroes? Something isn't right here...you'll have to wait and see.

115 chaz at full power
Battle with the masked man - mother 3 - 244

Just before the N64 came out Nintendo advertised two things that i will never forget. The first, that you could play as darth vader, something that wasn't possible until the episode iii game or the force unleashed. The second was that Earthbound 2/Mother 3 was going to be on the N64. 

I watched the "Coming Soon" or future releases section. There Earthbound 2 sat for several years and one day disappeared. It disappeared, not because it was released, but because it was cancelled. 

It wasn't until years later, probably like ten, when the game was actually finished and released for the gameboy advanced - exclusively in Japan. Luckily, there are ways to play it and get through the story and listen to the music. For this reason, I refused to buy a Wii, even though I had bought a Gamecube. While the gameplay and music isn't as good as earthbound, it's still good, and this song was one I wanted to use from the game. It's kinda sad, but also conveys a sense of power. 

116  Girl Encounter
Just a dream - nena

This is just a song by one of my fav 80s bands that I used to listen to when I was thinking about girls I had a crush on - but was way too shy to talk to.

117 girl encounter - alternate track
Will you still love me tomorrow - the zombies 

Because, believe it or not, there are men who wonder about that too.

118 another alternate track 
She's a lady - tom Jones 

Because tom jones is the sh#$.

119 frank's answer
Tell her no - zombies 

Sometimes, men and boys, you should just tell a woman no.

120 chaz threatens Malcolm
Soul Reaver 2 elder theme basic 

I don't know why or how, but Kurt Harland really stepped his game up for the music in soul reaver 2. This music is filled with ominous danger, despite nothing really happening in the game.
Kurt Harland, if you read this, give us more music! And give us more music! Just start doing scores for novels or comics and selling them online. You can do more X-Men, then do all the other comics.

121 Scarlett...kidnapped!
zero's theme mmx4 played by cezar bastitao 

Great rendition!

122 Snake Vs Malcolm
Mourning Bell - lunar the silver star

The music of lunar games are something that I really enjoyed in my younger, more idealistic days. This song in particular is especially fitting for someone worrying about the status of a loved one, which, snake is. 

123 dan in chaz's pad
Dark ambient subway 

Dark ambient is kind of an emerging genre. I don't like all of it, and would actively discourage you from listening to some of it, but it fuses industrial sounds and deep music.  

124 auditorium hijinks
Final fantasy vii - it's difficult to stand on both feet 

A playful song for a silly scene.

125 dan comes through
Final fantasy ix - cid's theme

126 sal and mal meet
Final fantasy tactics - the cardinal's anger

When dark forces plot, they need a good song.

127 church
Prayer - Castlevania symphony of the night

128 bowman vs gary and easy hopper
Reverb 10,000 - man or astroman

Man or astroman, while not my favorite band, certainly has some good music. Especially for fighting. 

129 interrogation
Super 16 Neu 

This music really helps drive home the point that certain characters are treading into darker territory that they shouldn't be.

130 chaz's power grows
Soul Reaver sound glyph

131 bowman bursts in
Metal gear alert phase

132 jango's escape - star wars  episode ii

133  nerd night
Star trek deep space 9 theme

Star trek ds9 was the first time, and the last time, that I was interested in star trek AND a new one was coming out. Though I wanted to, I didn't catch every episode. I did catch every episode I could, but for a variety of reasons I missed probably most of the episodes thst aired. Still, whenever I had the chance, ds9 was on my to do list. It's probably my favorite of the series that have been made.

134 party interrupted
Blackstreet - no diggity

Alternate track 

135 dance floor - zapp and roger

136 sneaking to mitchell
Succession of witches - final fantasy 8

137 chaz vs Mitchell
Kurgan's theme

Chaz believes he's becoming a god among men. The Kurgan, from Highlander, probably felt the same way. 

138 the bowman's failures
Jerkin' back and forth - devo

139 hallways chase
Count on me - Spider-Man rock reflections of a super hero

There's two reasons for this song being here. First this concept album based on Spider-Man and the life of peter parker really touched me as I entered adulthood. I had found the cd for sale in the comic store and loved it. Each song is a different genre of music, and for someone who had much in common with Peter Parker, it really touched my heart.

The other reason is that this scene, for no particular reason, was reminiscent of scooby doo. And scooby usually had some sort of goofy, upbeat song that played while the monster was chasing everyone and the gang was trying to capture them. The songs for scooby doo chase music that i could find didn't have the right feeling for a scooby doo chase, which sounds strange. Even stranger, this song did. 

You figure it out...

140 snakey, snakey, time to wakey
El Bimbo - paul mauriat

Laugh while you can. Yes, this is the song from the blue oyster bar in police academy. Yes I like this song, and I don't care what you think. 

Now, this song also has one other claim to fame, other than being someones's song. And yes you should listen to Mauriat's other music. This song was basically used as the hotel music in earthbound. Why? I don't know. 

141 growing pains theme song
It makes sense when you read the story. Please buy it and do so.

Honestly though, I never had a problem with the show growing pains. I rarely got to watch it though, because my mom hated Alan thicke. 

142 interrogation
Esperanto del futuro - man or astroman

Just another awesome song by them. I probably actually would have used Prince's "computer blue" because it's alluded to in the book, but he had such a tight (purple) reign on his music that it really wasn't on YouTube or anything I could use. 

When I started this list, he was still alive, and with his passing, I don't expect that will change. At least not til his heirs find out how to make money selling his vault and making money by putting his music on a vevo channel. 

Prince heirs, if you want me to work at the prince museum that you should make in Paisley Park, let me know.

143 confronting malcolm
Zero's theme again

144  race to save Scarlett
Minecart chase - john Williams - Indiana Jones and the temple of doom

145 jailbreak
Ballroom blitz - tia carrerre 

Her's was the first version I heard, and personally I like it better than the others. And that's all I'll say about Ms. Carrerre without incriminating myself should anyone I know read this.

I believe a version of this song was also in the trailers for kung fu hustle, so there's another connection. 

146 your princess is in another castle!
(Song from mario) 

While it was the most frustrating thing playing the first super mario game as a 5 - 6 year old, it eventually became kind of a running joke that anyone who's played the game would understand. And Scarlett just has that kind of humor.

147 chaz's surprise
Fatal weakness - goldeneye soundtrack

When Goldeneye 007 came out for N64, I played the HELL out of it. To boot, it increased my love for the movie and got me on board with Brosnan as 007. So I bought the soundtrack and listened to that. When I started writing, this song has always been staple song in all the reptilian authority stories.I've written. Usually it was for the third book, but well, it's been burning a hole in my playlist. 

148 escape plans
Mary jane - rick james

While I don't condone marijuana use, and in fact abhor it, it did play a role in this scene. In case the rick james song didn't give it away. I do admit I kind of borrowed from the movie "stir crazy".

149 fire!
Fully functional - star trek first contact

Despite starting the ruination of the Borg, First Contact had a couple redeeming moments. This was one of them.

150 robbie consoles snake
With magypsy - mother 3 

Mother 3 (Earthbound's sequel) had alot of good stuff going for it. Including this song.

152- rabble rousing
Snoke - star wars the force awakens

Probably one of the few redeeming points from the force awakens. The soundtrack was OK, I had hoped to see williams pass the torch on to joel mcneely or someone else. The movie was ok, but not as good as the EU I've been reading for half of my life.

Long live the EU rebellion! 

Oh yeah, this song is dark and moody for chaz marshaling his forces.

153 preparing for battle 
Hot night - Ghostbusters

I don't remember this song being in the movie at all. Maybe it was. But when I heard it on the soundtrack, I knew it was awesome.

154 myrmidon and chaz
Dark forces plot - star wars episode I 

Using Palpatine's music is a cheap shot, admittedly, but I haven't heard anything else that would come close to working for myrmidon's theme.

155 B & E
Infiltration of the shinra building

Nobuo Uematsu's music to the rescue again.

156 Frontal Assault
Rebel Yell - Billy Idol

Another good fight song.

157 Clue:  hanoi-phil, in the auditorium, with the explosives
Danger man theme song

Patrick mcgoohan, aka john drake, was danger man and also the prisoner. He was so awesome as a spy, he was top choice for  

James Bond, and turned it down. There's no better music to defuse a bomb to...in a fictional story I mean.

158  Inspector Gadget theme

Frank needs working music for bomb disarming.

159  sprinklers
Blame it on the rain - milli vanilli...I guess?

Do you want to know what I'm talking about? Read the book!

160 spotted in the cafeteria
From man to man - ennio morricone 

Probably my favorite song from the first kill bill movie, and the blasted thing wasn't even on the soundtrack. It definitely is a good pre-rampage song.

161 rooftop rumble
Il trielo - ennio morricone

In an interesting turn, snake as the new phantom bowman gets 2 ennio morricone songs in his scenes when previously they're more linked to the original bowman. Does this signify that he's given into the persona?
Still, despite what I wrote in the book, this scene does apparently get an ennio morricone track. Or it would if I could manage it.

162 arrows fly, battle
Chronotrigger - 61 - last battle


163 - earthbound - final battle (the porky spider robot battle) 

RPGs have the best battle music, because there's so many, and especially when you come to bosses.

164 dark power
Giygas - stage 3 

165 dark power 2 

Giygas - stage 4 

In the words of someone at Marvel, 'nuff said. 

166 pray
Jesus paid it all

If you haven't read the novel, you really should before getting to this point.

OK. Done? Great!

Not surprisingly, I was of course inspired by earthbound for this confrontation in the novel. But more than that, I have put my own real life experience (sort of) here as well. Because, Ephesians 6:12 in the Bible tells uswe are not in a physical war, but a spiritual one. 

I don't want to spoil the novel, but, I have personally had experiences with dark power in the form of demonic attacks in the night also known as sleep paralysis, and it was only by calling out (mentally) by faith to Jesus Christ that the sleep paralysis stopped. 

So, when faced with the power of darkness, there's no one else that can save you. And while earthbound did not get that specific, it did show that the only way to defeat the ultimate evil is by praying. 

This is something I hope to explore in later novels. How does a Christian know when to pray, and when to act? Where do you draw the line between keeping law and order, and turning the other cheek?

167 mr. Suit
Atmospheres - gyorgi ligeti

Ligeti's music is as beautiful as it is strange. Not quite what I want for my men in black, but it's good. 

168 fruits of victory
Halcyon on on - orbital 

I guess there was a reason it was at the end if mortal kombat.

169 mr suit questions snake/chaz's captivity
Ligeti - atmospheres again

170 the sunset men
Ligeti's Lontano

Though the sunset men are accompanied by a deep bass sound, they should also continue to benefit from ligeti's music.

171 snake's notebook
Final fantasy vii - staff roll

Just a good wrapping up song.

172 the lair
Tourian base music - super metroid 

Not only does this convey the environment in the story, it also harkens back the music at the start and the character. 

173 the mastermind
Elder god - soul reaver 2

174 - 176 school dance
Night train, earth angel and johnny b goode from the back to the future soundtrack 

No comment on this...it does make sense though. Trust me. It will be explored in future novels.

177 frank's plans
Dimensional unity - ten72 

I love this album, and want you to like it and buy it also. They're not on YouTube, so go here to listen to the album.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Who are the Myrmidons?

The characters of "In the Shadows of Myrmidons" were largely left undescribed intentionally, even though Nick and I have in our minds "canonical" images of the characters. However, it was mainly my decision to describe the characters only up to a point, to leave the characters deliberately vague, so you readers and teens can insert you and your friends into the stories. Sure, Snake is overweight and has curly hair, but that will surely mean something different to you than it does for me.

In fact, if you want to, please upload your fan art of the characters to deviantart and share a link to it in the comments.

That being said, I want to take a step back. Myrmidons takes place a good 20 or so years after the final adventures of a superhero group called the Myrmidons of Hope. One day I would hope to get into some prequel novels for them, because in working on their backstories, I've actually been seeing alot of interesting potential in their stories. At the moment, and this is a scoop, I am working on a book that gives a little more of the background of the original Myrmidons. I'm not sure if it will be a solo effort or if Nick will add anything. Perhaps he can do a small solo book in the same vein, and I would actually like to see that.

So, just for kicks...when we get around to a myrmidons of hope story, this is what it might look like. Nick may have his own ideas though.

While "In the Shadows of Myrmidons" is populated by characters who are largely anonymous, the original Myrmidons of Hope would be cast like so: 

Robbie D'Imperio - the only Myrmidon to appear in story so far would be played by Michael Biehn. For his younger adventures, I would cast the younger version of him from Terminator. For his older version that mentor's Snake, the currently aged Michael Biehn is perfect. While I have yet to draw a good picture of him in costume, this is the man for the job. He was tough as nails in two of my favorite James Cameron movies, but he also has a vulnerable human "everyman" quality.

Dean Garrett, aka Shadowcloak - For the man who is Robbie's longtime and closest friend, the man who has abused the superhero fountain of youth so much that he remembers 7 different origin stories, I can think of only one man to play this character. Just based on pictures of the man. He is incredibly handsome, the
ladies love him. He has got serious acting ability as evidenced by his earlier career. And he's also got some good butt kicking ability. He can pull off the "man about town" and "dark vigilante" better than anyone. I'm talking about Adrian Brody. He is the master pimp.

Next up is a character who is only mentioned a couple of times, but her role in the past was quite important. Her name...

La Pistolera Plata - Not much has been revealed about her, other than she was a gun toting heroine on the Myrmidons of Hope. More of her back story will be unveiled in the next book that comes out. Her actual adventures will have to wait until the prequel stories come out. Whatever the case, Nick and I were both in agreement that Monica Bellucci was the only woman I think who could pull it off. Just look at this picture I posted, because most of the ones of her on the web are racy. Just saying. If we feature her in a 90's story, obviously her current look would be sufficient.

The next character has only been mentioned briefly in the sole book we have published. His name - Mr. Invulnerable. For Mr. Invulnerable, who is rather undeveloped at this point, I always had a vibe similar to Recoom from Dragon Ball Z. The only human alive, past or present, who even came close to giving off this
vibe is Dolph Lundgren. As a kid, my dad watched Rocky IV a lot. His focus was especially on the boxing matches with Dragov and the training montages. I don't know why, but even when I was young I was captivated by it. And actually, the Rocky series is a damn good movie series as I recall. Mr. Invulnerable's young version would be Dolph in his prime as Dragov. But don't fret, if he needed to make a modern day appearance, Dolph could still break you in half. He'd ideally look a little less old, but not by much, and that could still be achieved with good makeup and a little CGI.

There are a couple more characters to consider, but at this time, this is a good start. When I get my (possibly) independent small project out, I will do a casting call for those characters.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Do Teens Read E-Books?

I was just thinking, primarily because the book I wrote is an e-book (Nook also), about whether or not teens read e-books.

On one hand, I don't see why they wouldn't. I'm sure many teens have smartphones and tablets, which of course are the main ways to read e-books. On the other hand, as a formerly poor teenager myself, I realize that smartphones and tablets are not cheap, thus limiting the opportunity for teens to read e-books.

I also recall when I was a teenager, I really liked having my physical actual book, and can recall as recently as 2009 seeing teens still reading the hard copies of books. The hard copy section of the YA section at Barnes and Noble doesn't seem to be going away. But will it some day?

Most likely it's some sort of mix of the two, teens reading both, but with the cheapness of e-books, what's the best way to get one's e-book into the hands of teenagers?

Any suggestions? Please comment below! 

Friday, January 1, 2016

A review of the force awakens

This review is not spoiler free. Deal with it. You've probably seen it 5,000 times already.

I just saw The Force Awakens a week or so ago. While this movie has gotten mostly positive reviews and even a really bad one from the Vatican, not surprisingly, this review that follows is more middle of the road. Mainly because that's what this movie left me with. While I found there were some really great moments, some of which nearly brought tears to my eyes, the film as a whole and other elements within it were really sub par. Like the ridiculous storyline, for example. Despite what the movie reviews say, The Force Awakens certainly did not feel like a return to old star wars at all and I really don't think it was better than the prequels. Any of them. The reviews that say "forget the prequels" are way off base, and probably written by casual fans who only liked the originals and never read any of the expanded universe books. I actually like the prequels a lot, but I was watching them from a different perspective than most people. I also think if you watch all six movies a few times in order, you'll see a much deeper story. The prequels are not perfect, but they are enjoyable. George Lucas, if you read this, I enjoyed the prequels a lot. The OT defined my childhood, the PT defined my early adulthood. Let's talk sometime, I really would love to tell you what impact Star Wars had on my life.

I got to tell Timothy Zahn once.

Back on track, The Force Awakens was a mediocre film, which is more than I should be able to say given my feelings about Abrams' Star Trek reboot. I hated the first one so much that when my dad gave me the second one, I never removed it from the plastic. On the whole, TFA didn't really add anything new to the series, rendered moot my 20+ year old collection of Star Wars novels, was a confusing mess in places, and killed Han Solo.

Despite that, it was not the worst movie I've ever seen. That honor goes to this gem.

I guess starting off I had terribly low expectations for TFA going in, so that may be why I liked the film overall despite its flaws, the movie wasn't terrible. My expectations stem from having read many of the Expanded Universe books, and having bought nearly all of them, thankfully mostly second-hand. I really thought the books, up to a point, really continued the Star Wars story in the right direction. Having enjoyed those stories, I figured there was no way TFA could measure up to the movies in my head. And considering the director. Thus I expected a terrible film.

I suspect that everyone who loved the movie had low expectations due to the prequels and probably hadn't paid much attention to Star Wars since Return of the Jedi.

My first thought upon sitting in the theater, apart from how can I find a seat with this many people, was a tinge of excitement, like when I saw the prequels. I also felt something when I heard the opening crawl music and saw the episode number. But my excitement was short lived. As I watched the crawl unfold I was struck by how strange and cheap the text looked when compared to what I recalled from the prequels and even special editions. It looks super fake and animated. More than normal I mean. Cartoonish even. Something was off. I'm not sure what they did different, but it is strange.

From there, the opening with the First Order star destroyer was kinda cool. I applaud Abrams for showing us a different angle than what we've seen previously, while still having the traditional OT style opening involving a star destroyer. It wasn't aesthetically blowing me away, but it was a risk and it was refreshing. Actually, despite changing the names and places from episode iv to make Episode VII and largely remaking a new hope, I thought TFA at least gave us some great visuals at times.

The landing assault on the Jakku village was really stunning and I was really, really happy to see solid, actual people in solid actual stormtrooper costumes. The clones in the prequels were obvious CGI, though the ones in Revenge of the Sith were leaps and bounds above the ones in attack of the clones, but using real troopers was an improvement. I would have liked to have seen the First Order use an updated version of the Republic gunships (I loved those) but it didn't happen. Flesh and blood stormtroopers though added tangibility and menace and was a great move.

Once Kylo Ren was on the scene, and actually before the attack even started, the film gave off the vibe of a TV movie. The same kind of vibe that the Phantom with Billy Zane gives off (at least with my Blu Ray player and inability to stop the Soap Opera effect on my BR movies). Yes Max von Sydow is a good actor, I guess, but this part and the arrival of Ren felt like a TV movie. Not sure why, but it just did.

Some people are baffled at this point by why Finn chickened out during the raid, but it's pretty obvious. He reveals later on that he had previously been in sanitation, hardly a battle hardened veteran. After seeing his comrade die, and then watching villagers get massacred, what Finn had was a normal, human reaction. And because of this, Finn's character was one that I liked. He also had a lot of funny moments that weren't over the top. It was refreshing too that Finn wasn't exactly the most forthright at times, which is kinda new for heroes in star wars.

I'm also glad to see a black character take such a prominent role in this series, though I still feel that Lando got the shaft this time. Billy Dee needs to be in more stuff. So does Ernie Hudson.

As the escape and "out of the reactor core and into the supernova" moments unfolded, I was interested and surprised, but I found that the camera was often too close to the actors making the movie seem cluttered. This was a gripe throughout the movie, too many, too close shots. In the prequel and classic trilogy, there was a good balance of close ups and wide field shots, and even the close ups were typically far enough away that you see multiple characters on the screen without it feeling cluttered, and you could often see a lot going on in the background. Those shots felt epic. The close ones in force awakens felt less so.

I think that these close shot contributed to the TV movie feel of the film. On TV, it's more crowded and intimate because you're dealing with a medium that is viewed upon a smaller screen, and a lower budget that can't get away with showing much on the sidelines because of budget. Another foot to the left on TV and you've gotta build a new set.  But even when Star Wars was low budget, it never conveyed the squished screen and showed us an expanded world on the periphery. Lucas gave us enough on the sidelines to imagine more, Abrams did not.

Whatever you say about the prequels, Lucas was right. He often had his creative team making changes to a storyboard, scene or an art piece because it looked like it was on a set. He'd have them open up the frame or pull back. The more money Lucas had to make his films, we got to see more and cooler stuff. And it worked aesthetically because Lucas knows how to make his shot visually appealing. Looking like a set isn't always bad, but going back to that look of a set so completely after the prequels was not a good move, especially since we got to see more exotic stuff in the PT. It was aesthetically jarring to see a complete return to average sets. What Abrams should have done, besides pulling the camera further back, is used a better balance of CGI and practical and not eschew CGI except as a last resort. Practical effects are not the be all end all, and neither is CGI. There's a way to do both, Im sure. Naboo is a perfect example of how to balance both for optimal effect. There are some Naboo shots that I can't tell where practical ends and the cgi begins. Unfortunately, this movie went too far in the opposite direction of the prequels trying to use the nostalgia of practical effects to woo the audience.

It seems to have largely worked for people.

Back on track, after the hijinks have ensued and the heroes are looking to escape Jakku, we get the Millenium Falcon. This to me was kind of a big kick to the groin, but also bittersweet and a great film moment. For some unknown reason, Han Solo has been without the Falcon for a number of years, which is a travesty. The bad part of this, is that it flies in the face of everything the old trilogy and EU sold us. The Falcon was Han's ship. Period. Ok, it was sometimes Lando's, but it was HAN'S SHIP. The EU books also kept this as a solid foundation, Han always got his Falcon back whenever it was lost. Even that time that it was taken by Thrawn and the time it got shot down on Kessel. I find it hard to believe that the Falcon could have been lost to Han for however long he'd lost it, which seemed like a while. Especially since he was in the neighborhood, which comes in a moment.

The great part of this moment as a film moment though is when the Falcon is revealed and Rey's line about the ship being garbage was soon disproved, and seeing the falcon about to save the day again, as a viewer, was a high point. So, good, bad and ugly, the Falcon, Han's absence and Rey's reaction to the Falcon made for a bittersweet moment.

One that kicked me in the groin, then gave me an ice pack and an aspirin.

This was followed by another bittersweet moment, and one of the biggest deus ex machinas in cinematic history. Once in space, the Falcon is picked up by none other than Han Solo! Convenioincidence of all time, because wouldn't you know it, Han was delivering a shipment of hideous hell-beasts to...well, it's never made clear who and we move on from there qucikly. Han solo's appearance nearly brought a tear to me, and I have to say that as much as Harrison Ford has badmouthed playing Solo in the past, the man delivered probably the best performance in the movie. He was still able to pull off Han Solo convincingly, and even portray that Han's life has been full of hardship. He gave us the Han we remembered, but he also showed us that the years had been unkind. Even with this joyful reappearance, it was truly sad to see Solo regress back to owing lowlifes money for botched jobs. It sort of regresses his character arc from the OT too, because we see him go from being a scumbag to becoming a hero because of the love he and Leia had. To see him sans Leia and back worse off than he started was heartbreaking, in a bad way. That's kind of another sore point for me, the ending of Jedi didn't accomplish much, and we might just as well have had the ending were Han dies, the Falcon is destroyed and Luke goes off ala Clint Eastwood.

At least the EU had a significant victory and the EU kept Han and Leia together, respecting and extrapolating on the growth he had in the OT. She made him an honest man, and like most men, Han married up. Even when Chewbacca cacked in the books and Han went Mr. Depresso he and Leia made up and reunited.

Come to think of it, TFA that whole sequence on the freighter with Han, Rey, Finn, and Chewie, minus a few redeeming moments, was kind of stupid and pointless. The performance and the acting was great, but the setup was contrived and unnecessary. It was kind of filler.

Han's little spiel of exposition was most welcome, and frankly could have been longer. Thirty years is a big gulf to fill, and we almost need a prequel trilogy to the force awakens that fills those holes in. We'll probably get it too...

The next part that comes to mind is the whole sequence with Maz Kanada, which is hopefully not a play on the song Mas Que Nada, though probably is. I found Maz and her den of scalawags to be uninteresting and unappealing on the whole. With the exception of this guy, I didn't find ANY of the aliens (even in the whole movie) that compelling and didn't feel that they possessed a Star Wars feel. This section, though just felt wrong. We could have had some familiar aliens sprinkled in for good measure, that typically makes introducing new aliens easier. In the EU (comics, etc.) new aliens are shown with old or put in Star Wars familiar aesthetics. Even in the books you can use the the alien guides to imagine the new aliens with the old.

Aside from some much needed exposition, and a really cool Force vision, the like of which we've never seen before, the whole section at Maz's place was just a contrived way to get Rey the Skywalker lightsaber. How did Maz get it? At least the retrieval of it in the EU made sense. In the EU, Vader retrieved  the lightsaber and Luke's hand pretty quickly from some poor ugnaughts and sent the pair of trinkets off to Palpatine's trophy room for "top men" to look into. There it waited until Zahn's The Last Command. The chain of events in Zahn's book at least makes some sense.

Here in Episode 7, nope. It's just there in Maz Kanada's basement, ready to be donated to space-Goodwill or sold on Watto's Pawn Stars. Seems just anyone can walk down there too, which in a den of reprobates is probably not that good of an idea if you want to keep something valuable. But this sort of makes you wonder if Kenobi's, Yoda's and Mace Windu's lightsabers are down there too.

It couldn't hurt to look. Dibs on Windu's.

The next thing I recall was the appearance of Supreme Leader Snoke, a villain who did not live up to the hype, in my opinion. He was absolutely the least threatening antagonist since that time Captain Tarpals zapped Jar Jar with that electro staff. Aside from having cool and ominous theme music (that is similar to, but quite different from the Darth "Jake" Plagueis seen in Episode III) there is not much to be scared of. Snoke's design isn't that compelling and he just seems like a randomly inserted retcon character. A character who looks like he's been around a while like Maz Kanata, but who is strangely absent in any existing material. I suppose you could say the same about the old EU stuff and EU villains, or even Yoda, but at least some of those villains had origins in the original material, or at least tried to mesh well with it. Yoda at least fit pretty well too. In the EU, the later stuff like Yuuzhan Vong, lost tribe of the Sith and several other villains give off a similar vibe to Snoke, that is, they're villains created just to prolong conflict and make stories/money. So I guess it's par for the course, but there's nothing about him that feels like Star Wars, and little about him that's threatening. In fact, Snoke is one tummy ache away from being Lord Nebula from Captain Simian.

Andy Serkis is great at motion capture and I've enjoyed his work, as Gollum, King Kong and Caesar but he just is not that menacing. Especially when he talks. I felt the same way with his Klaw performance in Avengers:  Age of Ultra-Cash. In contrast, Ian McDiardmid as Palpatine has menace. The dude smiles and it's loaded with evil. Snoke just doesn't measure up to Palpatine, Vader, Dooku or even General Grievous. And Grievous was way overhyped.

Perhaps that will change.

And while I know many people think he's Darth "Jake" Plagueis, I have a wildly different theory. But you'll have to wait for that blog. I think it's obvious in looking at Snoke that he is not a Muun and it's pretty well accepted that Plagueis is a Muun.

Rounding out this section of weak elements in the force awakens is Starkiller base. The super weapon thing was already done enough times in the EU that EU fans complained, and the refrain was like so:  no more super weapons. Now in the EU there were a few superweapons that made sense, but not every EU story had a super weapon. Heck, a lot of them didn't even have really good lightsaber duels. I had really hoped this movie would not have had a superweapon, because Timothy zahn gave us a whole trilogy with no super weapons and very minimal lightsaber action. And it was excellent.

Starkiller base looks like a scaled down Unicron, and while I was wrong about its functionality, I was right that it did destroy suns. I mean, with a name like that, what else would it do? But here's my problems with it, besides rehashing the superweapons thing and being kinda lame. So, 1) it was unclear what planets were blown up, and there was no emotional impact to me when that happened and when the sun was drained. Were they in the same system? Another system? How close were they together? How could people see it on Maz's planet? 2) if the Death Star is the size of a small moon, and the Starkiller is slightly bigger, how does the Starkiller suck up an ENTIRE SUN, then blow up at the end and then when it's gone, there's a whole sun again? Did the makers of this film have any concept of physics at all? Even Star Wars physics? 3) How was it even made and where was it all this time? Was it moveable? Could we get some explanation about this? It's basically just there to have some threat. Like Snoke, Starkiller is a threat from nowhere for the sake of creating conflict. It sucked.

Megamaid from Spaceballs was more believable and more threatening.

I guess that's it. Starkiller base went from sucks to blows.

The rest of the movie was pretty entertaining, though again full of convenient plot devices and deus ex machina. The infiltration of Starkiller was kinda cool as was Rey's interrogation and use of the force. It actually makes sense to me how quickly she picked it up, she had been surviving for years and the force likely helped with that. She also had to have picked up good street fighting skills. The actors were all spot on, even if the story and plot weren't, and this is what saved the movie for me. Han's death at the hands of Ben was sad, and I have to say that Kylo Ren was an A-hole for it.

Adam Driver looks a bit like Han, and he's a good enough actor. Certainly not what I'd envisioned for Jacen Solo, but driver does have a Harrison Ford-ishness. I hope we get some background on his fall to the dark side, because I'm not really invested heavily in his character at this point.

Daisy Ridley also gave a good performance. I'm curious as to who her parents are. I initially thought she was Ren's twin, but after seeing the movie that seems unlikely. Unless Han left Leia pregnant and Luke had Rey hidden after Ren's fall.

Which brings us to the end. Seeing Rey seek out Luke was a touching scene. Mark Hamill was instantly recognizable and the look he gave Rey was quite curious. His was the only character that seemed like he was where I'd expect him to be, given Disney's reboot. He's the only character who, despite the lack of screen time, didn't get totally dissed.

Despite all of the weak moments I pointed out, uninspired designs and being full of plot holes, The Force Awakens was a decent movie. It's not one I'll go to the theater again to see. It was good, but not great. Like I said, it felt kind of like a TV movie. Sort of like the cinematic and theatrically released Clone Wars that was a pilot. In contrast to TFA, with the prequels I saw Episode I three times in the theater, Episode II twice and Episode III five times. The prequels answered questions I had (and some I didn't) and really expanded the original trilogy. I can watch the OT and see different things now, and that is awesome. Episode 7 glossed over 30 years of time and left us with more questions than answers, probably incentive to sell Disney's new expanded universe materials to replace the old EU material.

The stuff in the movie doesn't always feel like a natural progression from what we left in ROTJ. It sometimes feels like an obvious retcon, which it really kinda is. Luke's exposed robot hand being one thing. The names of planets like Jakku, Takonada. The existence of Snoke and Maz Kanada. The Falcon getting lost. The lack of any familiar aliens in the bar scene. None of it fits in my eyes. It's like my favorite characters and factions from Star Wars were sucked into an alternate universe.

At the risk of sounding like a butthurt fanboy, I think the old EU was a more faithful continuation of Star Wars post Episode 6, at least to a point. And it was even approved, to a point by George Lucas. So I will consider TFA as "legends" and the old EUas canon. Heck, TFAis basically Expanded Universe with a budget, kind of less so since George Lucas had no involvement with it. The old EU had had the power to say yay or nay when he wanted.

It would have been nice, since Disney is using EU ideas anyways, if they would have kept a majority of the EU intact and made movies from that point. At least then there'd be some available background story going into Episode 7. They could have kept everything up until the New Jedi Order and cut everything thereafter, and that would have been fine with me. I am more curious of what Lucas' treatments for Episodes 7 - 9 were than ever before.

But like as not, Disney jettisoned all that and the old EU because they couldn't make money on it, but they could by rehashing the same timeframe with new stories. In short, by replacing the stories they can make money and own the rights to the new stories.

So, I didn't hate TFA, but I didn't love it either. It was good seeing a new Star Wars movie, but it also hurt a little. As a mindless cinematic popcorn muncher, it did its job. I was entertained. I enjoyed seeing a movie with my wife. But as  longtime Star Wars fan who reads the books, I was greatly disappointed in the attempt to redo the EU.

Long live the EU Rebellion!

PS, please share your thoughts in the comments!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Book About the 90's

 I was a teenager in the 90's, and it was a good time. Ironically, during the 90's I was doing the whole 80's nostalgia thing. I got a classic NES for Christmas when I was 16. I was watching 80's movies and listening to 80's music. I was watching old Transformers G1 and the original (good) movie. So when the 80's nostalgia hit big a few years ago, I was sort of happy to remember it. But, I already did it when I was in high school.

I guess I was ahead of my time.

Well, fast forward to 2009, I started writing what would become "In the Shadows of Myrmidons" and I referenced plenty of 80's moments. And this was, I would say right about when the 80's nostalgia started to kick into high gear. I also decided at this point, well before Hunger Games was huge and before Arrow was an awesome TV show that I would give Snake a bow and arrow to fight crime with. The book wasn't really published until late 2012, early 2013 so I was still before my first viewing of Arrow. Though to be fair, I did choose Robbie as a Green Arrow-esque hero and Snake taking up the bow to contrast with Nolan's Batman which was popular at the time.

I digress.

"In the Shadows of Myrmidons", in addition to boasting some 80's nostalgia also has some 90's nostalgia. The key ones that I can recall are more than a few references to the videogame "Earthbound", some Deep Space Nine references.

Book 2 will prominently feature a C&C Music Factory song, which Nick and I decided upon a few years ago. The last few golden years of video rentals will also be important, because back in the 90's, and even once DVDs were introduced, no one really thought video stores were going anywhere. Let alone being completely replaced by Red Box and Netflix. Sad. 

Well, if you're looking for a book that has some creative references to the past, set in the 1990's, but yet is not completely derivative of other stories (I'm looking at you "Ready Player One"), then "Myrmidons" is the book for you. Though in the past I have used a variety of price points for Myrmidons, I have decided to permanently lower the price to $0.99 for Kindle and Nook 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

If Dracula and Saruman had a Fight

"Someone asked me yesterday if Dracula met Saruman and there was a fight, who would win. I just looked at this man. What an idiotic thing to say. I mean, really, it was half-witted."
Christopher Lee

While this quote by Christopher Lee is kind of spot on, he also didn't mention how awesome it would be. Especially when done with Legos. Too bad I don't have the Count Dooku Lego.