Like fantasy without magic, movies without memorable music totally miss the mark

beauty-and-the-beast2Most people remember their favorite movies through unforgettable scenes or great quotes. There are many, though, that you remember from a few notes of music or humming a tune. Add to that, there are so many memorable songs and music from movies, you don’t know where to start.

There’s a great scene in the movie The Holiday where Jack Black’s film composer character runs through a litany of movies and music and how they changed cinema. It’s what made me want to look at some of my favorite movie soundtracks, composers and songs. I hope they’re some of your favorite too.

First and foremost, I’ll start right off with John Williams who is, without a doubt, the greatest composer that movies have ever scene. From Star Wars and Indiana Jones to E.T. and Harry Potter, he has written some of the greatest movie soundtracks EVER. His music has been heard by generations who will always know the movie by the chord struck by the orchestra. He is the Gandalf of movie soundtracks.

Next thing I’ll throw out there is any Disney animated movies. Disney has a history of making the best animated films and, with it, unforgettable songs and music. From Snow White singing “I’m wishing” in that high-pitched voice of Adriana Casrlotti to Indina Menzel “Let it Go” from Frozen,  Disney has brought the best singers and songwriters together for great movie soundtracks. The best part is that these are songs you sang as a kid and with your kids too.

rocky_horror_throne_screencapNext is great movie musicals. I’m partial to West Side Story and The Sound of Music because I grew up on these movies. However, my all-time favorite has to be The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I was a teenager going out every Friday and Saturday night to dance the Time Warp, ask “Whatever Happened to Saturday Night” and wonder if we’re having Meatloaf fir dinner. The music is intoxicating and holds your heart and soul captive like a trans-sexual transvestite from Transylvania.

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to one of the greatest rock-n-roll bands of all time and the music that holds a place near-and-dear to us geeks. Queen has written songs for two classic sci-fi/fantasy movies … Highlander and Flash Gordon. If you hear the opening chorus of either one of these movies opening songs, you know exactly what it is. They are that recognizable, especially with Freddie Mercury’s incredible vocals. At the same time, I have to give a shout-out to the greatest movie singer of 80’s movies, Kenny Loggins. “Danger Zone” from Top Gun, “I’m Alright” from Caddyshack, “Footloose” from Footloose and so many more. Kenny Loggins was THE soundtrack of a generation of great movies.

No matter what your favorite movie or music, I know I only touched on a few favorites here. There are so many more to add and not enough space to write about them. All I can hope is that by reading my blog here today, you now have a song stuck in your head. Gotcha!


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.


Doctor Who will always be the heart and soul of sci-fi/fantasy adventures

all_There are many TV shows, movies and books that are considered the “standard” by which all others are compared. There are many that try to lay claim to that title in the realm of science fiction, fantasy and adventure genre. Lord of the Rings, Star Trek and Star Wars are among the top contenders for those top spots. To me, none can compare to what I consider “the standard” and that is Doctor Who.

The Doctor crosses multiple genres and reflects the heart and soul, the good and the bad, of humanity in its stories, characters and vision from it’s conception in the 60’s to today. Though he’s a 2000-year-old Timelord from Gallifrey, his time among humans allows him to tell us when we’re right and when we’re wrong. That’s what makes him something beyond time and space. In one sentence, he can cross that boundary with such little effort or ease.

“I hate to read about good wizards in fairy tales; they always turn out to be him.” — River Song

It’s sentiments like that, simple yet profound, which shows the range of Doctor Who writers. They can tell his story throughout our history in a single sentence. That’s powerful. And yet, at the same time, the words of the Doctor can still the night air, take your breath away and bring armies to their knees.

“Great men are forged in fire, it is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.” — War Doctor

Those words were spoken by the late John Hurt. Though he only played the Doctor once, in that short time, he embodied the spirit of the Timelord perfectly like all those actors who portrayed the Doctor before him. That says something about the actors picked to portray him but also to the writers who have created stories from original mythology as well as moments in history. The Doctor has been present at the destruction of Pompeii, with Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest, and he’s saved the Kings and Queens od England on more than one occasion.

One of the best Doctor Who stories was “The Girl in the Fireplace” from 2006. Take Madame De Popmpadour and have a living spaceship break through the time/space continuum to get her brain to run the ship. As crazy as it sounds, this episode showed the romantic, loving side of the Doctor. Here was a woman who took “the slower path” just to see him again. The chemistry between the Doctor and Reinette is so real, you can’t help but fall in love. There’s also a point, like so many in the series 50 year history, where you understand why the Doctor is feared as much as he is loved.

Young Reinette:  “Monsieur, be careful!”
The Doctor:  “It’s just a nightmare, Reinette, don’t worry, everyone has nightmares. Even monsters under the bed have nightmares!”
Young Reinette:  “What do monsters have nightmares about?”
The Doctor:  “Me!”

And now, Peter Capaldi, the latest incarnation of the Doctor, is ending his run at the end of this season. So now the question begs to be asked, who will take his place? Who will step into the mantle and become part of history. My vote is for Haley Atwell of Agent Carter. Just to see the “girl banter” between her and Missy (Michelle Gomez) would be priceless.

The Doctor is,without a doubt, one of the greatest characters ever created. He is in books, television, movies, cartoons, comic books and more. You can find pictures of the Tardis (Time and Relative Dimension in Space for the non-initiated) on practically every continent. He is a part of the many cultures around the world. That’s what makes Doctor Who an undeniable part of history, which is exactly where he (or she) belongs.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.


Magic has brought us some of comics best characters via Avalon

jld01You can always find that some of comics best characters were created by or empowered by magic:  Shazam, Zatanna, Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange just to name a few. As a fantasy writer, these magical characters have inspired me in many ways. Many of them have their origins in  the Arthurian legends, which is where I based the Forever Avalon series.

My favorite has to be Etrigan the Demon. First off, he was created by the legendary Jack Kirby. That is enough of a pedigree for me, but his origin is way cooler. Merlin bound the demon Etrigan to Jason Blood, a knight of King Arthur’s court. He’s immortal and works in Gotham City from time-to-time. Cool pedigree, wicked origins from the Arthurian legend and he speaks in rhyme. I mean, you can’t call yourself a comic book geek if you can’t recite the spell to release the demon.

“Gone, gone, the form of man; arise the demon Etrigan!” 

Recently, the magical side of DC has come out through its TV franchises. Matt Ryan as John Constantine was the best casting decision ever made. He is all that is John Constantine, that Keanu Reeves wasn’t, and a bag of chips. He’s had a guest shot on Arrow and took the lead in the Justice League Dark animated movie. I can’t wait to see more of him, especially if Guillermo del Toro still moves ahead with a live action Justice League Dark movie.

Marvel’s also had its fair share of bringing magical heroes up with a touch of Arthurian legend. If you want to read a great Avengers series, The Morgan Conquest is a classic. Morgan (not Morganna) le Fay casts a spell that changes the entire planet into her own magical realm with the Avengers subjected as her own imperial guard. Even their names are more medieval (Captain America is now Yeoman America, She Hulk is the Jade Giantess, you get the idea).

They also have a cavalcade of superheroes tied to the magic of Avalon, Merlin, and more. Dane Whitman, The Black Knight, wields the Ebony Blade (forged in Camelot from a meteorite by Merlin). Captain Britain’s powers come from Merlyn (spelled different but supposedly the same man) as a protector of the multi-verse in the Captain Britain Corps. Union Jack was empowered by the Spirit of Pendragon, a magical energy in the form of Sir Lancelot, to defend the British Isles. You can’t shake a stick in the UK in the Marvel Universe without hitting a magic-related superhero or villain for that matter.

Though magic is the tie that binds all these great characters together, is the artists and writers that made them so memorable. Some of their origins are now part of history, of legend, and that makes them immortal. Like Avalon, they will live on FOREVER.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.


It’s not parents, but rather Hollywood, that just don’t understand

hollywood_politicsI can’t begin to understand actors, actresses and other “entertainers” getting political. I understand that a lot of them don’t like the President or his policies, but using their  position as a platform is often suspect. They’re using social media, television and other forms of digital media to promote their discourse. The problem is that they’re alienating the part of the country that disagrees with them. The people they’re calling “deplorables” are the same people who help them earn a living by buying tickets to a movie or downloading their music. It doesn’t make sense for them to “bite the hand that feeds them” as it were.

Hollywood and political diatribe have been walking side-by-side since even before the movies learned to talk. Charlie Chaplain was famous for poking fun at the government from both his silent movies (kicking an immigration official in “The Immigrant”) and especially when he did his first “talkie” (watch his speech from “The Great Dictator” and you’ll know why). Everyone knows about Jane Fonda and her visit to North Vietnam during the Vietnam War and how Vietnam Vets still hold it against her today.

So what’s different about today? I think that you can easily point to social media. With so many platforms to make a statement, artists use it to fuel the fire, and sometimes, it gets way too hot. Don’t get me wrong, this is America and everyone has the right to their own opinion. Freedom of Speech is an essential part of what makes America great, something that many other countries don’t have.

There are some artists that chose to make a statement and some who don’t. Take the Broadway musical “Hamilton” as an example. When Vice President Mike Pence decided to take his family to see the show, the cast decided to take the time to make a political statement against him and President Trump. Some people applauded their bold statement while others returned their tickets and vowed never to see the show. Did it affect their ticket sales? No, not really.

Then there’s the Dixie Chicks … remember them? They spoke out against President Bush and the Iraq War while performing overseas. Their records were burned, crushed and discarded. Some radio stations refused to play their music. While most music and media applauded their bravery for speaking out, the fans did not. They are no longer together and rarely perform, except when they want to make a stand for something else.

So there are many pros and cons for artists to get political. As a writer, I try to stay in the world of fantasy and avoid politics. The most political thing I did was in The Dark Tides where I named Chief B’Rak of Togo, a colony of former African slaves, after President Barrack Obama. I was going to name the Goblin King after him, but my wife thought that “crossed the line” and I agreed, so I changed it.

The one thing I do agree with is a statement made by actor Mark Wahlberg. In an interview, he said “A lot of celebrities did, do, and shouldn’t,” when speaking about politics. “They might buy your CD or watch your movie, but you don’t put food on their table. You don’t pay their bills. A lot of Hollywood is living in a bubble. They’re pretty out of touch with the common person, the everyday guy out there providing for their family.”

You can see who follows this philosophy by looking at who is out there speaking up and who is not. There are many who realize that people want actors and musicians to entertain them, not preach to them. Look at how successful politically charged movies have been over the past few years. I remember when anti-Iraq war movies came out, one after the other, at the end of the Bush Administration. They had A-List actors in them (Tom Cruise, Robert Redford and Meryl Streep in “Lambs for Lions” comes to mind) but they barely made a dent at the box office.

There is a time and a place for political commentary. Movies and TV shows like “Lone Survivor” and “24” address these charged political issues like terrorism, immigration and religious tolerance without taking sides or making a speech. They use it to entertain and let the audience make their own determination. That’s the fine line that other artists need to understand before they decide to go the way of the Dixie Chicks.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.