This time has not passed idly. While I haven’t stuck to my New Year’s resolution about blogging more consistently, I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping to everything else on it. And I’m proud of myself for those things. Life feels as though it’s on an upswing at the moment and I’m not going to complain about it (even as I suffer from a particularly debilitating head cold).
Instead of apologizing like I have many times over, I thought I’d share with you some of the things I’ve accomplished/started over the last few months or so.
Hello! Remember back in January when I said I was hoping to write all kinds of new Cooking Adventures this year? Well, that hasn’t exactly happened. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t been cooking new and exciting things in my kitchen, it just means that not all of them have been worthy tales to tell on the blog. And I’ve been busy; super busy. But I’m not going to get into all that business now. Instead, I’ll tell you the horrifying tale of trying to make this blasted grapefruit pound cake.
Now, the first thing to keep in mind is that this pound cake is delicious and was well worth all the effort it took to put it together. I’d found the recipe on Pinterest not too long ago and was interested in the idea of making some kind of dessert/breakfast crossover that didn’t have any chocolate. My hope was to give my parents some of it and neither of them eat chocolate.
The original recipe comes from FakeGinger. Thank you to Amanda for sharing the recipe with everyone.
This week, I had the pleasure of listening to the ultra-talented Ben Webb, a performer whom I’d never heard of before, but whose music instantly reminded me of several other artists. Webb’s music is dynamic, multi-faceted, and speaks of people’s many transitions through life.
Don’t let the title fool you; this entry in itself is not a Cooking Adventure yet. But I have toyed with the possibility of bringing back video Cooking Adventures this year and the desire to do it is slowly overtaking me. One of the biggest reasons that I didn’t try to do them last year were because I was in the process of buying a new house and since I’ve moved into said house, I’ve been coming to grips with all of its various quirks. The kitchen is one of these.
It’s a beautiful kitchen. There are open beams, a large window overlooking the lawn, plenty of counter space, and lots of light and warmth…in the summer. In the winter, it has become the coldest room in the house due to a lack of insulation and the fact that it was an added room to the 1890 cape. So, in order to ensure that it’s warm enough for me to spend time in there, I’ve had to put up an insulated curtain over the big, light-bringing window and put on a space-heater. Filming in such a dark room isn’t very easy.
I’m often drawn to the understated elegant soundtracks. They don’t sound grandiose; they don’t sound imperial or adventurous or over-the-top. The smallest nuances in how the individual tracks are composed, the development in the pieces that grow along with the characters and plot… These are the soundtracks I hunger for.
Recently, I found myself checking out the nominees for best original soundtrack for the Golden Globes. Of course, “La La Land” was the winner of the award with its whimsical, jazzy soundtrack. It’s something fun and different and puts people in a good mood when they listen to it. It’s a phenomenal soundtrack and for cooking or hanging around the house, it’s a joy to listen to. But for writing…I look for the darker more serious soundtracks. This is why I was immediately enamored by Nicholas Britell’s score for the Golden Globe best drama motion picture winner, “Moonlight”.
Writing the first draft is a wondrous experience for the most part. You have all these ideas swirling around you that you want to incorporate: characters that seem cool, smart, funny, and sexy; places that will make your readers long to travel there (or stay as far away from it as possible); a plot so Machiavellian, you wonder if you should be examined by a psychologist… The possibilities are limitless.
And just like that it’s the end of 2016. I realize I wasn’t as active as I’d purported I’d be at the beginning of the year. I owe that to moving into a new house though. The transition has eaten up a lot of my valuable time. Not only that but I’ve spent much of my autumn beginning a new book and when I do that, I tend to dig in deep and not come up for air. That being said, I’d like to change the topic back to what this blog post is really all about: my top ten picks for video game soundtracks this year!
Several of you readers know I’m a sucker for video game soundtracks. I’ve always been a fan of film scores and in the past few years have developed a love for these equally arresting and inspiring albums. I didn’t want to break with tradition so here I am at midnight on the 30th/31st of December to share with you the soundtracks writers who love music should buy. But why you ask? Keep reading and you’ll see…
#10: Dead Secret Soundtrack by Ben Prunty
Why: The Dead Secret soundtrack begins with jazz-inspired flavors and some Asian influences to fit into the storyline. Because it’s a murder mystery, there’s an air of suspicion and curiosity in each piece, growing darker and darker as the game progresses. However, it’s the tracks that are most ambient that stood out most to me. In particular, WOODCUTTER (the theme of the antagonist) is one of the most bone-chilling on the soundtrack and inspires fear from its minimalist drumming. Another is “Permanently Altered” which I listened to several times while working on my latest novel. I recommend this to anyone working on crime or noir fiction, or perhaps something historical in the 1920-1950’s. Track picks: WOODCUTTER, Kwaidan, Permanently Altered, What were you up to?
(I wrote this back when the Oscars were happening… yeah.)
I have always, and will always be a fan of music composed by Thomas Newman. I own a number of his impressive film scores, several of them Oscar nominated or winning and all of them gorgeous in their own right. Little Women, Phenomenon, The Horse Whisperer, Meet Joe Black, American Beauty, The Green Mile, Finding Nemo, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Help, Skyfall…(and let’s not forget TV show Six Feet Under and Miniseries Angels in America)! And now, the dramatic and emotional score for the Oscar nominated film, Bridge of Spies.
It’s been months since the last update. I was thinking (hoping) I’d be on a more regular schedule following my move but it’s been harder than ever to stick to one. I’ve barely had time to write (a sentence I hope I never have to utter again) during these last several weeks. The house has required a butt-load of attention. I’ve been doing lots of painting, yard work, and decorating to make it feel more homey. It’s coming along. It won’t be done this year. It probably won’t be done next year. But at this point, I have a few rooms completed or nearly completed.
At least once in your lifetime, you’ve put on the radio in your car or on the internet or your digital music player and went about your daily activities. Somewhere within the mix of songs you listened to, there came that one song, the one that made you stop and listen in awe to it, one that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It impressed you, thrilled you, made you want to listen to it over and over again. Years ago, I found that feeling with Austin Wintory’s soundtrack to the game “Journey”. It was plaintive, arresting, and called to a deeper part of me. Now, I’ve found a similar impression again with Wintory’s soundtrack to the game “Abzu”.