There has always been a part of me that really wanted to write a fairytale. While I can really lose myself in fantastical elements being twisted into our every day lives as seen in The Monstrum Chronicles speculative fiction series, I’ve never actually sat down and pushed myself to try something completely in the realm of magic. Several months ago, though, I was introduced to a weird and wonderful game called Year Walk by the company Simogo for tablets and phones. The game has since now been made available on Steam. In it, an unnamed protagonist leaves his young lover and goes on his year walk, an ancient Scandinavian ritual that is supposed to help the individual foretell what will happen to them later in life. The games atmosphere is deeply unsettling, fraught with strange mythological monsters and an eerie landscape of snowy woods. The combination of images and the incredibly creepy musical score by Daniel Olsén left me with a taste in my mouth for dark folklore.
So, I had the pleasure of watching the newest adaption of “The Tempest” this past weekend, directed by Julie Taymor and starring an ensemble cast of Helen Mirren, Chris Cooper, Alfred Molina, Djimon Hounsou and others. I’ve regarded “The Tempest” as my absolute favorite of Shakespeare’s plays because of the interesting range of characters, of human emotion displayed, and the story itself. I was pleased with Taymor’s adaption of the play. The cinematography was breathtaking, the action sequences terrifying and realistic, and the acting superb. I thought the cast all did a wonderful job getting into their characters heads. I especially liked the turn of changing Prospero’s character into a female version. During my brief stint at college, the theater department put on a production of “The Tempest” using a woman to portray ‘Prospera’. I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the play, putting a woman in that position of power. It made the performance fresh and put a new spin on the character’s relationships with one another, most notably the dynamic of a mother/daughter relationship with Miranda versus a father/daughter relationship.
Even more recently, I re-watched Joss Whedon’s brilliant film adaption of “Much Ado About Nothing” again and fell in love with it even more. Being a fan of most everything that Whedon does, I was delighted to see actors from several of his projects show up in this fabulous film. Each actor in each role was absolutely perfect. I don’t know how else to describe it. I particularly loved seeing Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker play off one another. Being a fan of “Angel”, I was a little more than upset by the way things ended with the show and took this matching, in spirit, of how things should have really ended. The idea of setting the play during modern times, having it’s actors be so easy-going and having so much fun only made me crave more of this. I’d also really like to see what he could do with a play that’s got a little more of a darker tone, like “The Tempest”.
So, please, Mr. Whedon…please do a rendition of “The Tempest”?
This recipe. Oh my freaking word. It has taken me a week longer than usual to just have the right time to sit down and knock this recipe out. Between working crazily on Book 3, working on yet another writing project, work, presentations, birthday parties, and other what not, I wasn’t able to finally complete this one until last night. And, my dear folks, as I’m sure you’re more than likely aware, it didn’t quite come out like it should have due to three cardinal reasons: A.) Laziness, B.) Missing ingredients, and the all popular C.) Time constraints. I really tried my hardest to have everything assembled and to do it correctly. But let’s face it; when you’ve just gotten home after a long day at work, the last thing most of you want to do is slave over a kitchen stove, trying to assemble something that’s going to take another two hours before its done. I didn’t eat last night until close to 10. I basically looked like this. On the upside, I have a bunch of leftovers for the rest of the week. Pluses and minuses, folks. Pluses and minuses.
Once again, we find today’s subject of Inspiration Through Music is a story-driven, emotional, and beautifully designed game. The Last of Us, which debuted last year for Playstation 3 by Naughty Dog, is among one of my top favorites in video games. The story of a childless father and a parentless girl as they cross a post-apocalyptic America, hiding from people and frightening creatures is portrayed so realistically that it locks you into the gameplay and immediately makes you care about the characters and their journey. And of course, like every other game I’ve mentioned, the music adds an extra layer of immersion to this stunning game. They couldn’t have picked a better composer than Gustavo Santaolalla, who can pinpoint even the most difficult human emotion to emulate through music and make it dig right into you.
The title of this Cooking Adventure might give you some idea as to my thoughts when diving into it. This is probably one of the strangest recipes that I’ve ever made with some of the most random ingredients. But, the person who gave me the recipe is a fantastic cook and it comes out of an old cookbook called “The Silver Palate” which is apparently quite renowned. And after making a wonderful Shepard’s Pie and eating the whole thing before I could get a picture of it, I figured this would be a worthy fill-in for my Cooking Adventure post…even a more adventurous candidate. This wasn’t easy. I had to face cooking and eating several foods that I wouldn’t eat at all normally and prepare the entire thing with a level of patience that I didn’t know I possessed. But…and I don’t say this often…it was all worth it in the end.
Yup, you now know that I’m a Tomb Raider girl. I love absolutely everything about the series and I think that Lara Croft is one of the best feminine heroes ever created. And while the first five games were really iconic and featured lots of globe-trotting, cave-spelunking, yeti-tackling, and deep-sea diving adventure, plus the occasional tomb exploring, my adoration for the series really took off with the release of the sixth title, Angel of Darkness. Unlike most of the other games, Angel of Darkness takes place in only two cities: Paris and Prague. I liked having the chance to stay in one place longer and explore all the different facets of each city, the building tension, and uneasy atmosphere. This game played a lot darker than the previous titles and that also drew me to it. But one of the things that really made me sink my teeth into the game was the music.
COOKING ADVENTURE #87: Asian Lemon Chicken Tenders
Anyone who is anyone can appreciate fried food in some shape or form. Usually, I prefer to think of fried goodies as “the lazy treat”, something that I can order out somewhere and enjoy without any cares in the world except for how said fried goodies will affect my skin. I was expecting the act of frying chicken tenders in my own kitchen to be somewhat of the same joyous feeling, a blissful extravaganza of fun eating and feeling as it I had not a care in the world. If only that were meant to be. Let’s be honest: frying food takes a lot more work than people make it sound. Unless you happen to own a deep fryer and have incredible disposable methods for all of that dirty oil, frying food at home is kind of a hassle. And for me, it took longer than it probably should have. Figures.
Let us descend into another dark and utterly spectacular world given to us by Telltale Games, the creators of The Walking Dead Game. Inspired by Bill Willingham’s Fables comic series, the game “The Wolf Among Us” drops us into the seedy and sinful atmosphere of Fabletown and right into the shoes of our main character, Bigby Wolf. The characters are the real world versions of characters taken from popular fables and fairy tales, some of whom have moved to the city and others whom have remained behind in that other world.
What I learned this week is that no matter how cathartic cooking may be for some, for me, it isn’t a good idea to attempt if I’m in a bad mood. There are sharp objects, often hot pots and pans, and little space available to spread everything out. After having a particularly bad day, I decided “What the hell? What more could possibly go wrong?” It’s best not to ask those questions. I had found a pretty spectacular recipe that was just calling my name. I’ve been craving Mexican food for a couple weeks and this seemed like just the thing to take care of that hankering. Well, it would have been if I’d paid a little more attention to what I was doing. But we all know what it’s like, to be so angry that you’re trapped in your head and can’t step away from it. I tried a number of times. My declaration of “I AM NOT GOING TO LET THIS EMPANADA BEAT ME!” is what finally made me put my rear in gear and pound these things out. And now, the terrible tale…
As of late, I’ve been busy with thoughts about my comedy, “Night Time, Dotted Line” and the potential sequel for it that has been rolling around in my noggin. When I wrote this book, it was because these characters had been speaking to me since I’d started a book with them close to ten years ago. I knew that I had to write a book with them and that was this book. But, I’d expected them to stop talking to me once I’d finished the book. No such luck. If anything, they are more persistent than ever… I realize that this makes me sound a little like a schizophrenic. Writing does that. Dozens upon dozens of characters begging for attention and wanting to be voiced through you… To make a long story short (too late!), I’ve started brainstorming for the sequel to “Night Time, Dotted Line” and one of the bands I’ve been listening to pretty much non-stop to help with that inspiration is Amarante.
Amarante is a husband and wife indie duo from California that I was introduced to only a few weeks ago by one of the Youtube LPer’s that I follow. He used one of Amarante’s songs at the end of the video and since then, I’ve had their songs playing on repeat on my way to work, when I’m home writing, and even in my head while I’m at my day job. They really know how to get a tune into your head and make it stick. Catchy tunes with intelligent lyrics and a unique pairing of voices. They’ve really pushed thoughts of this sequel into the foreground and made me want to work on it (despite being committed to another project at the moment). They help to take me away from the cold and dark of Midcoast Maine’s winter and put me back in late summer, across the country, in the lives of two very different people who are more alike than they care to admit.Today, I’ll be sharing four of their songs with you and what it is that I see when I hear them. Enjoy!