Thursday, September 27, 2018

Iron Fist

Iron Fist written in black writing, the letter O written in the form of a stylized dragon.

Marvel Cinematic Universe Netflix series about a man named Danny Rand who is the only survivor among his family of a plane crash in the Himalayas, is taken in by monks, becomes the eponymous hero, and returns to New York City to deal with a changed world, whilst fighting crime. I thought the first season wasn't that bad, though the second was definitely better.

White Serpent, Black Dragon

White Serpent, Black Dragon by Joe     Jackson

The first sequel of Joe Jackson’s Eve of Redemption series opens with a marshal surveying a crime scene, with many possibilities of the killer such as being a rir, half-demon, vampire, or woman. The main chapters open with Kari, the female protagonist of the last book, married to Grakin and having a son colloquially called Little Gray. Kari’s work largely consists of dealing with the belongings of the previous Avatar of the Demonhunter Order, Jason Bosimar, who lost his life in the Apocalypse. Kaelin Black, the Earl of Southwick County, reports on a killer in his city.

Many of Kari’s in-laws are on assignment elsewhere in the book’s world, with Little Gray mentioning a “Fuzzy Man” in his room that plays some role later on. Kari wants to leave to investigate the murder, and while Grakin is reluctant to let her, he leaves the decision up to her, and she goes. Some suspect that Lord Black is lying about the murders, given the position of the corpses, and Kari has business with Elias Sorivar, or Eli for short, who nearly finds himself victim of the aforementioned killer, which could possibly be a succubus or half of one.

Transportation via griffon plays some role in the book’s events, with Kari and Eli flying to the Great Marsh to meet the lizardfolk czarikk. Kari meets old acquaintances at a certain renamed inn, and hears rumors about possible zombies which necromancers are raising. She ultimately gets the name of the killer, or one of them, Emmalikas, or Emma for short, another mystery playing part in the novel being whether Lord Black and another suspect, BlackWing, being separate or the same individual. The aforementioned succubus also ultimately gets a name, Turillia, and is somehow antagonistic with Emma.

Werewolves, or rather humans that can shapeshift into wolves, have their own part to play in the sequel, with some action towards the very end that amounts to a satisfying story very much on par with its predecessor, with the ending indicating more to come. Some reminders as to the species description and colors of the characters within the main text would have been welcome, however, with clarification of the different races mentioned throughout the story only occurring after the main text and preview of the series’ next entry. Even so, fans of fantasy will likely enjoy this yarn.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Art by Marie

1537412033.lilbluefoxie C18123
by jmg124 on DeviantArt

The Fires of Heaven

WoT05 TheFiresOfHeaven.jpg

The fifth main Wheel of Time novel opens with a fictitious quote “inspiring” its title, followed by a prologue (the book’s immediate precursor lacking one) where the current Amyrlin Seat, Elaida do Aviny a’Roihan hears a report about civil war in Shienar, and how Mazrim Taim is loose, and wants the Aes Sedai to be loyal to the Dragon Reborn Rand al’Thor; meanwhile, the surviving Forsaken conspire against the fated warrior himself. The main chapters open with the same windy motif present in prior entries, the action opening at an inn called Good Queen’s Justice, where news abounds of one of the False Dragons, Logain, being loose.

In the meantime, Rand is in the city of Rhuidean among Aiel, with the Aes Sedai Moiraine showing him one of the seals of the Dark One’s prison. Among the central narrative threads is regular visits by Aes Sedai such as Nynaeve and Egwene to Tel’aran’rhiod, the World of Dreams, with the latter having a long westward journey to Tear throughout the story. Accusations of Black Ajah abound, whilst the banner of Manetheren, the Red Eagle, is raised in Two Rivers. A battle against Sammael and followers known as the Golden Bees occurs in the first half of the novel, with Rand and the Shaido sweeping through the city of Eianrod at one point

An old acquaintance of Nynaeve visits her in the latter half of the narrative, and a critical battle occurs, Rand regularly channeling the saidin, the tainted half of the One Power. The action ends with a major character’s demise and afterward a key conflict in the World of Dreams, accounting for another satisfying entry of the series that, while clearly inspired by franchises such as Star Wars, is on par with its predecessors, although characters such as Perrin are completely absent, and the book could have done without bouncing between different groups of characters within the same chapters.

Seiken Densetsu: Legend of Mana arrangement album Promise

This arrange album opens with a jazzy piano-centric rendition of the Domina theme that generally sounds pleasant, with many soft and energetic portions, and which definitely made this reviewer snap his fingers and whistle along. The second piece is the tropical-sounding “To the Sea,” which is equally toe-tapping, full of percussion and woodwinds, and definitely gives the impression of being out on the seas. “Polpota Harbor,” in contrast, is a much softer piece played on piano, starting out subdued but ultimately picking up steam with a nice rhythm that also enthralled this author.

Afterward comes a jazzy version of “Legend of MANA” that is vastly different in tone from its original version, given its upbeat disposition instead of sad like the initial piece, but it’s still a nice take on the track. “Picturesque Landscape” is somewhat more subdued, a version of the field track with piano, violin, and accordion flourishes, having a jazzy feel as well and being enjoyable. “Traveler’s Road” is even more subtle than its precursor on the album, with some violin overtones that really enhance its cheery demeanor and account for a peaceful guitar number.

Next is “Singing Wind, Journey’s Path,” another guitar piece that’s just as serene, having piano flourishes and twinkles that enhance the tune a way in, with percussion and flute making it livelier as it goes on. “Tango Appassionata-As the Heart Wills” is a jazzier piece played with piano, harmonica, and violin that definitely fits the genre its title implies, with guitar later, not to mention softening of the beat, although the pace picks back up afterward. “Such Cruel Fate” is true to its name a far more somber but still lively piece opening with melancholy guitar strings followed by violin highlights.

The following piece, “Seven Shades of Life-Bejeweled City in Ruins,” has a somber start on piano, with some harmonica and surprisingly, English vocals, a welcome change from preceding tracks, sounding like a song one would hear at a nightclub. “Nostalgic Song Reprise-Finale,” a remix of the title screen theme of the game, is another melancholy piece that starts out on piano, with some guitar thrown into the mix, and ultimately like its precursor sounds like a nighttime club beat. Concluding the arrangement is “Song of MANA,” which opens softly with violins and ultimately has vocals, although this reviewer couldn’t tell if they were Swedish like the original version or Japanese.

Overall, an enjoyable album for fans of the game, series music, and jazz enthusiasts in general.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Rock of Ages

I watched the movie a few years back some time after it came back, and there are definitely differences in the show version, although the off-Broadway cast definitely did a nice job.

Art by Dolar

Viewable here.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Mexican Independence Day Art

Reyodino Galloermo
by jmg124 on DeviantArt

Salvation's Dawn

Salvation's Dawn by Joe     Jackson

This fantasy novel opens with one of the chief protagonists, Karian Vanador, or Kari for short, titled the Shield of the Heavens, haven been conscripted to fight in the Apocalypse against the Devil Queen and her subordinates. She intends to go with her own subordinate and friend, Captain Lawrence Machall, to help him with his farm outside Gavean. However, once the eight-year conflict ends, a church summoning brings her to the city of Barcon, a haven for organized crime. Kari is a terra-dracon, a type of dragon-like species, who stays at the inn The Bloodied Blade for a drink and a bath.

Kari has been an alcoholic since her teenage years, with a terminal disease worsening her drinking problem. She travels with a caravan headed by a rir named Nurrik Orndrom to Sarchelete, whose protector is Kris Fletcher, a human paladin commonly referred to as the Ghost. Early on, the main antagonist, a terra-rir general named Braxus Gaswell, is revealed to be bolstering his garrisons and recruiting his army for enigmatic reasons, with some speculating that he yearns to invade the Isle of Kirelia much like one of his ancestors, with Kris in the meanwhile befriending Erijinkor Tesconis, or Erik for short, to investigate demonic activity at Tsalbrin.

Kari and fellow draconics ultimately form a band called the Silver Blades, and take the ship Karmi’s Sword, one of its stops being the archipelago of Salkorum, with Kari and Grakin forming a romantic relationship in the meantime. On the island of Tsalbrin, Erik and Kari enter the wilds in search of a beast known as the sylinth, meeting a group of people called the czarikk along the way. Aeligos and his siblings have their own adventures, although the Silver Blades ultimately reunite for the conflict with Gaswell that ends the book.

The nature of the eponymous Salvation’s Dawn isn’t clarified until late in the novel, which is overall an enjoyable first entry, although there is a little lack of creativity concerning things such as a town named Dune and a symbol called the Sword of Truth, not to mention Gaswell being a somewhat asinine name for an antagonist. An appendix somewhat clarifies the differences between the draconic races, although throughout reading this reviewer found it somewhat difficult to visualize specific characters. Even so, fans of anthropomorphic fantasy will likely appreciate this series beginning.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

We Meet with Manners Spotlight

Book Details:

Book Title: We Meet with Manners by Cheryl Esposito
Category: Children's Fiction, 24 pages
Genre: Friendship, Social Skills, Manners, Growing Up & Facts of Life
Publisher: Mindstir Media
Release date: May 31, 2018
Tour dates: Sept 3 to 28, 2018
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

We meet with manners is all about being polite and respectful to people throughout the day. From people you know to strangers passing by, simple kind gestures not only lift the spirits of others but for ourselves too. The pictures demonstrate sign language to assist with the early communication and development.

Buy the Book:

Meet the Author:

Cheryl Esposito has come from a corporate background and has since become a full-time Mom with three children under 4 and an amazing husband. I have always enjoyed writing but my children are the one’s who inspired me to write about our everyday routines and family fundamentals. My husband provides me the support to believe in myself and never lose faith in who I am. I believe, if there is something you have always thought about doing, you should always follow through. Having children has given me one more reason to follow through. Sharing everything that is good in life is a reward by itself. I am blessed to be able to do just that. So please enjoy these books and I hope it can help your life with children be just a little bit easier.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

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Ends Oct 6, 2018

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Piano Collections Final Fantasy X

It’s fitting that the tenth entry of Square-Enix’s long-running Final Fantasy franchise receive a piano collection since there are quite a few tracks played on piano in the first place. The album opens with one of the first pieces heard when playing the game, “To Zanarkand,” originally played on piano and thus sounding as good as it did within the game. Protagonist Tidus’s theme follows, somewhat sounding like a superhero’s theme, but still being nice on piano. The theme for Besaid Island then comes, having a bit of a bouncy feel and sounding at first a little like a band’s marching song, but having lovely flourishes a ways in.

“The Hymn of the Fayth” was originally a vocalized piece, but its piano rendition definitely does its original iteration justice, and it does indeed sound like a religious hymn. “Travel Agency” is another peaceful theme, and definitely fits the titular facilities found throughout the game, sounding a bit like easy-listening music one would hear in such places in real life. Rikku’s theme is happy and upbeat, fitting the character well, and the track for the city of Guadosalam has a similar sense of serenity. The theme to the Thunder Plains was another track originally performed on piano, opening with an original flourish native to the album that prevents it from sounding like a rehash.

“Raid,” in contrast, is a bit of an odd duck, definitely not sounding like a theme one would hear during a conflict, but it’s good nonetheless and quite lively. “The Way of Purgation” is a softer theme that sounds beautiful, and the piano rendition of the game’s main theme song, “Suteki da ne” (“Isn’t it wonderful?”), very much does the vocal version justice. “Yuna’s Decision” definitely sounds like a piece that would play during a critical time in the game’s narrative, and is lovely, too. “People of the Far North” also sounds like a tune that would play in a cold environment within the game.

The final battle theme is a bit of a change of pace for the album, sounding muh faster than its precursors and seeming appropriate for a critical conflict. The ending theme terminates the album on a high note, definitely making it a recommended soundtrack for videogame aficionados, music enthusiasts, series fans, and so forth. This reviewer definitely believes that the works of contemporary videogame composers, mostly from Japan and some abroad, are very much on par with those of classical musical composers, and need more love, recognition, and possibly awards.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Birthday Art for Sister

Nytylaea, Duchess of Woelfcastyl
by jmg124 on DeviantArt

Seiken Densetsu: Legend of Mana OST

The quality of this game is somewhat polarizing, but one thing most can agree on is that it has a good soundtrack, the first in the series by composer Yoko Shimomura, opening with a beautiful piece that commences with piano flourishes then intensifies with other instruments, before softening again. It proceeds to the title screen theme, “Nostalgic Song,” which is a somewhat somber piece consisting mostly of woodwinds in the beginning but again flourishing with other instruments before looping. “World of Mana” is a soft piece that plays on the overworld when the player is placing objects to symbolize towns and dungeons.

The “Song of MANA” is the main opening theme that plays once the player places the mailbox symbol on said overworld, with Swedish lyrics that would sound alien to both American and Japanese players. “Places of Soul” is another peaceful piece that plays at the player’s base of operations, with lovely use of woodwinds. The theme for the town of Domina follows, which is another lovely piece, although some reviewers for some reason have said that Shimomura’s town themes were weak, with which this writer adamantly disagrees, given the bounciness of the tune.

“Daedal’s Organ” is another piece played in said town, which, true to its identity, emphasizes the organ, sounding bouncy as well. “Wanderer’s Path” indicates a change of tone, given its intensity, and somewhat rocky nature, with nice orchestration. “Pain the Universe,” one of the boss themes, also indicates a change in tone, given its electric disposition, and while some may argue it clashes with the rest of the soundtrack, it’s still a nice, energetic piece. The soundtrack softens back up with the theme of the town of Gato, which starts off softly but has intense orchestral flourishes.

The soundtrack intensifies again with “Earth Painting,” which effectively captures the earthly tone of its moniker. “Marginal Beast” sounds to be another boss theme, less intense than “Pain the Universe” but nonetheless with a nice rocky feel. The theme for the town of Roa is one of the softest themes in the album, with its main notes consisting of bells, with some woodwinds in the mix. “Everyday Dream ~Spirit’s Song” is another soft piece with synthesized vocals alongside the harp notes that give it an enigmatic feel. “To the Sea” has a tropical feel that very well conveys the theme of sailing.

The theme to Popula is played mostly with piano, and has an upbeat nature with xylophone and accordion flourishes. “Everyday Dream” is another vocalized piece that sounds beautiful an enigmatic like its longer-titled predecessor. “Calmly Traveling,” despite its name, is a slightly-intense piece with an emphasis on drums that give it a good rhythm. “Bedight Orbit” is a funky-sounding track emphasized by percussion and having flourishes that make it feel somewhat like a disco piece. “The Wind Sings of a Journey” further continues the soundtrack’s dive into various genres, nuanced by Celtic woodwinds.

The theme to the city of Geo sounds somewhat bouncy, starting out softly but intensifying at points, with many xylophone flourishes. “Memory of Running” is another piece containing hard and soft sections, with drums mainly emphasizing its intense parts. “Darkness Nova” is in contrast a mostly hard piece with electric guitars augmenting its intensity. In contrast, “Pastoral” is a peaceful piece played mostly with woodwinds that definitely gives a feel of the countryside. “Ranch Night” is a similarly serene track, although it doesn’t seem exactly to fit an evening at a ranch or farm, despite being good.

“Maker’s Gallop” is an upbeat piece that sounds somewhat mechanical, as if one is riding a mechanized animal or other form of transportation. “Dreamseed Fruit,” true to its identity, sounds like someone is in a dream, and is mostly a soft-sounding piece indicative of a calming lullaby. “Good Things Happen!” is a brief jingle that likely plays during a positive gameplay moment during a playthrough, and fits the rest of the soundtrack. “Let’s Play the Organ” is another brief track that sounds like a partial organ remix of the town theme for Domina, having two “parts.”

“Nocturne” appropriately sounds like a nighttime piece played with a piano and is mostly soft and calming. “Digger’s Song – Song of Spelunkers” appropriately sounds like an earthy jingle with vocal flourishes of evident miners. “Peaceful Song,” unsurprisingly, is a peaceful track played with woodwinds and a harp. “Sorrowful Song,” moving on, is a sad-sounding piece that very well conveys a saddening moment. “Joyful Song,” like its other brief entries in the “Song” series, is a cheerful piece, played with strings and woodwinds. “Mysterious Song” rounds out the series of brief tracks, appropriately sounding like an enigmatic piece.

“Where Truth Can Be Found” is a dark, but not satanic, sounding piece that very well conveys the crusade in finding fact. “Two Feelings – Lucemia” has an enigmatic feel to it, with a constant xylophone instrumentation and woodwind flourish. “Irwin on Reflection” is another rocky piece, albeit slightly softer, which sounds like it would belong during a battle. “Distant Truth” is softer, but has significant drum flourishes, and definitely does sound like the characters accompanying the music are seeking distant truth. “Overlapping Destinies” is another mysterious piece that well upholds its moniker, starting softly before intensifying.

“Bondage Bestowed” is by contrast a mostly-sad piece likely played during a somber cutscene, performed mostly with woodwinds. “Fiery Castle” sounds to be a dungeon track, definitely sounding as though it would be played in a fortress of flames, given its intensity. “Leading into Prosperity” is another intense track, and doesn’t seem to uphold its name very well, given its brief soft moments, although it’s still a good piece. “The One Who Waits for the Breath of Destiny,” however, does indeed uphold its longwinded moniker, sounding peaceful at first but evolving into a militaristic tune.

“Blue Gloom” is a peaceful-sounding twinkly piece that does sound like it would play during a somber moment emphasizing azure color. The brief “Jewel Thief Sandra Appears!” has a Middle-Eastern feel to it, and definitely fits the character. “Sparkling City of Ruin” is a mostly peaceful yet melancholy-sounding track, with occasional violin flourishes and played mostly with piano. “Treasured Love” is definitely different in style, played mostly with the organ, and while it doesn’t exactly sound like a romantic piece, it is good and has a “dark” feel to it.

“Of Glittering Tears” very much sounds like a sad piece, with harp flourishes symbolic of teardrops, and woodwinds accompanying. “The Great Virtue of Gathering Mana’s Spirit” is a beautiful piano piece that has a very mysterious feel to it. “Holy Palace of Mana” sounds to have an opening similar to its predecessor, but proceeds to sound like music from another of Shimomura’s soundtracks, that for Parasite Eve, definitely indicative of her overall style. “The Gloaming (Silence of Time)” opens softly with piano before receiving “dark” flourishes from instruments like the electric guitar and organ.

One of the final tracks is a remix of “Nostalgic Song” played on the violin, which is absolutely gorgeous and does the original version justice. Another remix, that of the opening vocal track, concludes this soundtrack, which is easily one of Yoko Shimomura’s strongest works, beating out many of her later work including her Kingdom Hearts soundtracks, and while some may protest the various styles used within the music as inconsistent, given the variation of emotions and instruments, it’s still recommended to fans of the series and videogame soundtrack aficionados in general.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sitting at the Kitchen Table with God Spotlight

Book Details:

Book Title: Sitting at the Kitchen Table with God by Sandi Smith
Category: Adult Fiction, 192 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction, Christian Fiction
Publisher: Mindstir Media
Release date: May 10, 2017
Tour dates: Sept 3 to 21, 2018
Content Rating: PG-13

Book Description:

MARIANNE HAD PLENTY OF TIME ON HER HANDS TO DO NOTHING, so she decided to clean the placemats that she had collected over the past fifty years. Fifty years of a wonderful life together with her husband and best friend, Andrew. Fifty years that should have turned into sixty, but would not even turn into fifty-one.

Her wonderful Andrew was dead. Andrew…her friend and caretaker of her soul and mind and being. Loneliness, darkness, and guilt extended their hungry fingers out for Marianne, desperately trying to pull her even further into their world…a world with no escape. How could she live without her Andrew? She had been so sure that she would be the first one to die in this relationship. But now there was a stronger component to her loneliness and darkness that was starting to make its presence known to Marianne. Anger.

Anger had been a companion of Marianne’s for a very long time, but usually she had the ability to quiet its demand to be set free. This time, though, Marianne was not sure she would be able to control this anger. It was different somehow…stronger. She was afraid and weak. She had lost her faith in God, and she was so angry with Andrew for leaving her behind. Leaving her all alone in this dark, insane world. A world that was in such a hurry to go nowhere. A world that was in such a hurry to destroy everything in its path. Marianne was in its path, but this time she was alone. Sitting at the kitchen table, Marianne closed her eyes, and then she prayed that, today, she would die.

Buy the Book:

Meet the Author:

Sandi Smith spent her time as a young girl combing the shelves of the public library. She has always enjoyed the magic that books have to offer and was inspired by her high school English teacher, Mr. Coolidge to embrace the arts. The author found her calling as a writer early one morning as her first story came to her in the form of a poem. Since then she has written more than 15 children’s books, with her most popular series about the adventures of an adorable spider in the A.R. Achnid series.

Sandi is happily married to her inspiration and husband of 40 years, John. She continues to write for her two precious grandchildren. When she’s not penning a new story, Sandi and John like to camp, kayak and to enjoy the simple life in their home in Pembroke, NH.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest

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Ends Sept 29, 2018

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Piano Collections Final Fantasy VII

This reviewer somewhat feels that doing a piano collection for the seventh Final Fantasy game would be difficult, given its soundtrack’s techno feel and the more contemporary setting, although there are luckily plenty of tracks within the game that lend themselves well to piano renditions, the first being Tifa’s theme, proceeding to the peaceful overworld theme that doubles as the main music for the game. Afterward is the seventh game’s version of the chocobo theme, “Cinco de Chocobo,” which, despite its name, doesn’t really sound Spanish or Mexican-influenced, but is still good.

“Ahead on Our Way” is the first town theme once the party leaves Midgar early in the game, and definitely has a peaceful feel. The main battle theme, “Those Who Fight,” is well-replicated on the piano, and definitely feels more intense than prior tracks in the collection. “Valley of the Fallen Star” is the theme that plays in Cosmo Cannon, Red XIII’s hometown, which in the game has two iterations, one for the town itself and the other during a revealing cutscene, and has a somewhat ethnic Native American feel to it.

The Gold Saucer theme appropriately has a carnivalistic touch to it, with some original flourishes that make it sound upbeat and does the original justice. “Farm Boy” is the music first encountered when visiting the chocobo farm early on in the game, and has a rustic agrarian feel to it, although the flourishes indicating the Final Fantasy franchise’s main music for the avian mode of transportation are far more muted. The theme for the Shinra Corporation follows, having an upbeat while militaristic style, sounding like the kind of music one would hear during a parade.

Next comes a piano rendition to the boss theme that plays during battles in the game with various incarnations of Jenova, and sounds beautiful and enigmatic. Aeris/Aerith’s theme is very soft and beautiful, definitely difficult to listen to without shedding a tear. The album quickly returns to battle music with “One-Winged Angel,” the final boss theme, which has soft and intense portions, and an operatic feel, and fortunately does the original version justice. Concluding the album is “Descendant of Shinobi,” Yuffie’s theme, which has a happy upbeat feel to it, definitely reflecting the character.

Overall, this is another enjoyable Final Fantasy piano collection that defied this reviewer’s expectations, with the selection of tracks being nice and sounding good on the piano, even those whose original versions didn’t really seem like they would come out well on the instrument. Being a videogame music aficionado, this writer definitely believes that the works of many Japanese composers are on par with those of musicians overseas, perhaps even classical musicians, and he would very easily recommend this album to those who liked the game and maybe even those with affinities for piano music.

Art Trade, 10 September 2018

Milkshake (Art Trade)
by jmg124 on DeviantArt

Their half:

by jmg124 on DeviantArt

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Seiken Densetsu 3 Original Sound Version

There isn't a whole lot of music fans of this game's predecessor, released as Secret of Mana in North America, will recognize, aside from a remix of "The Angel's Fear," also used in the introductory track "Where Angels Fear to Tread," but the music is still good, even without overreaching central themes to connect the pieces.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Deadpool 2

Deadpool lounges on a swan boat, backed by flames and multiple characters
Definitely one of the funniest superhero films, given its endless fourth-wall-breaking humor, and its use of music was pretty brilliant.

Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale

This is a collection of orchestrated tracks from Final Fantasy VI, opening with the theme that plays during the introductory cutscenes before transitioning to Tina/Terra’s theme, doubling as the overworld music in the World of Balance, with some nice flourishes such as bells. Next comes Cefca/Kefka’s theme, which has some soft and hard moments that reflects the character quite well. Afterward is the orchestrated version of “The Mystic Forest,” though within the game it was also used for many caverns, using flutes for the main notes, and sounding beautiful and enigmatic.

Then comes Gau’s somber theme, played mostly with violins, a piece that is difficult to hear with dry eyes afterward. “Milan de Chocobo” is an upbeat version of the Final Fantasy franchise’s chocobo theme, with soft and hard portions and original flourishes. “Troops March On” is an intense militaristic theme played for the Empire’s army, conveying its force quite well with drum highlights. “Kids Run Through the City Corner” is one of the main town themes, sounding beautiful when played with harpsichords and violins. “Blackjack” is the World of Balance airship theme, much softer than it is in the game but gorgeous and adventurous nonetheless.

Relm’s theme is a somber piece played with bagpipes for some of the main notes, somewhat reflecting its instrumentation within the game. The penultimate piece is the train theme, which sounds somewhat jazzy with piano flourishes. The last theme on this soundtrack is “Aria Di Mezzo Carattere,” better known as Celes’ theme and one of the pieces played during the opera in the game, which has actual vocals, and while this reviewer couldn’t really tell which language they were in, they were definitely poignant, and the tune rounds out the soundtrack nicely.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Art Trade with Deerge

Lino the Dinosaur (Art Trade)
by jmg124 on DeviantArt

Their half:

Germaine Sheffield
by Deerge on DeviantArt

Seiken Densetsu 2 (Secret of Mana) Original Sound Version

This reviewer has fond memories of Secret of Mana during the 16-bit era, and one of its highlights was its soundtrack by Hiroki Kikuta, which opens with "Fear of the Heavens" which itself commences with a digitized dragon's roar that really enhances the music that follows. The other tracks aren't always in chronological order, although most of them are solid, such as the intense battle themes. One theme that really enhanced the ending is "Now Flightless Wings," which is difficult to hear with dry eyes afterward. Overall, definitely recommended listening.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Central Texas Writers Society Anthology

An anthology in which my poem "Spinning Toy" (viewable here) is published is up for sale on Amazon. Proceeds will go to fund my guild's website:

Brazilian Independence Day Art

Sepparotember - Reiodino Papagaio
by jmg124 on DeviantArt

Unlimited SaGa OST

The quality of the game I've heard is questionable at best, but the soundtrack by Masashi Hamauzu is definitely good, with each character having their own themes, and a central theme incorporated into many tracks such as the battle tracks. Definitely worth a listen.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Paradise PD

Paradise PD Logo.jpg
Sort of a cross between the Keystone Cops and Family Guy, but racier and more violent, which is somewhat off-putting. Characters include a police chief who has to use testosterone patches after an incident years before the show's present, and a drug-addicted police dog named Bullet. The city of Paradise's police are literally bad cops, with the overarching arc of the drug Argyle Meth. It had some okay laughs, but I think one season was enough for me.

Final Fantasy V Piano Collections

One of the strengths of this album is that it has a central theme from which some of the other tracks are derived, "Ahead on Our Way," and the game was first to feature the Moogle theme, "Critter Tripper Fritter." There are also piano versions of two of the town themes, the Gilgamesh boss battle theme, the chocobo theme, and the ending themes. All in all, a recommended listen. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Gift Art from World Reviver

1536109685.worldreviver512 Image
by jmg124 on DeviantArt

The Sword of Truth Fanart / Gift Art

Spiked Punch Wolf as Emperor Jagang
by jmg124 on DeviantArt



In Terry Goodkind’s conclusion to both the first main plot arc of his Sword of Truth saga and the Chainfire trilogy, Richard has become a player of the Imperial Order’s favorite sport of Ja’La dh Jin, the so-called game of life, going by the name Ruben Rybnik to mask his position as Lord of D’Hara, playing a few games throughout the story. In the meantime, his wife Kahlan, the Mother Confessor, is still suffering from amnesia as a captive of Emperor Jagang, and Chase’s adoptive daughter Rachel is on the run from the sorceress Six.

The boxes of Orden and The Book of Counted Shadows hold the key to the future of the New World that culminates in a series of battles and twists towards the end, with many characters from earlier novels in the series having time in the spotlight. This reviewer had read all the original books in the series in physical form, and while the writing could have definitely been tighter, and Goodkind’s editor as usual didn’t do a very good job, he still enjoyed the series, although he can certainly understand why others don’t like it as much.

Ys & Ys II Eternal Original Sound Track

The soundtrack of the rereleases of these games on Microsoft Windows at the turn of the millennium, and in a rare case for a videogame soundtrack, the pieces have definite beginnings and ends instead of ultimately looping and fading out. Has some great tracks like "Tower of the Shadow of Death" and others and is a good listen.

Monday, September 3, 2018


Phantom SoT.jpg

Author Terry Goodkind dedicates the second installment of The Sword of Truth’s Chainfire trilogy and the penultimate entry in its plot arc to Phil and Debra Pizzolato, for reminding him of the value of life, and proceeds with the philosophy that those who hate betray themselves. The action opens with Kahlan at the White Horse Inn, the captive of Sisters of the Dark, responsible for the Chainfire spell that rid all but Richard Rahl of the memory of the Mother Confessor, who seek their colleague Tovi, gone for Caska. Meanwhile, Nicci and Richard’s friends seek to reverse the amnesiac sorcery.

Emperor Jagang, leader of the Imperial Order, in the meanwhile, seeks the power of the boxes of Orden and the secret of The Book of Counted Shadows, warring with Kahlan’s homeland of Galea. Richard acknowledges that to fight the Order, with its massive forces, would be futile even with the Sword of Truth he gave to Shota in exchange for information about Chainfire, and seriously considers surrendering the D’Haran Empire to Jagang. The Seeker of Truth hears stories about the ancient war wizard Baraccus, which he hopes may help with fighting Jagang.

Chase also returns from many books prior, attacked by Samuel with the Sword of Truth, his adoptive daughter Rachel further kidnapped by old antagonists. Richard himself takes several symbolic tests, such as one with the transportive sliph, and meets the night wisps with whom he met in early books of the franchise. The book ends with Richard interested in the Imperial Order’s favorite sport Ja’La dh Jin, or “the game of life,” and accounts for another satisfying entry in the series, although Goodkind’s editor obviously failed at their job.

Labor Day 2018 Art Trade

My half:

Starlight (Art Trade)
by jmg124 on DeviantArt

Their half:

1536006349.yukiin At
by jmg124 on DeviantArt

Final Fantasy IV Piano Collections

This piano collection opens with the twinkly-sounding prelude to the Final Fantasy series, following which is one of the central themes, the “Theme of Love,” which does a good job conveying romance throughout the game. Then comes the prologue theme, another of the main themes of the Final Fantasy franchise, followed by the peaceful town theme. The overworld theme comes next, as does the chocobo theme, which has its own twist in this particular album. The main dungeon theme, “Into the Darkness,” further does a good job conveying the enigmatic nature of the fourth entry’s dungeons.

Next is Rydia’s theme, which somewhat sounds like the main theme from the movie Summer of ’42, but definitely fits the character. After that is the piano version of Gilbert/Edward’s theme (I always thought this name change was odd since there’s already a character named Edward Geraldine, or Edge), which in its original incarnation was renditioned with a harp, but has its own beauty. Golbez’s theme follows, having a nice satanic disposition, with the Troia Castle theme coming afterward, having its own sense of beauty like many of the other themes.

The various battle themes heard throughout the game are combined in a medley that sounds nice, with the epilogue pieces following, collecting remixes of tunes such as the love theme and the Red Wings track, the latter sounding like it came out of the Star Wars franchise, the album concluding with a brief orchestrated version of the theme of love. Overall, this is an enjoyable piano collection that fans of the game and classical-sounding piano music in general will likely appreciate, with this reviewer definitely thinking that many of the works of videogame composers are on par with that of classical musicians.