Kavalier Calm's Crowdsource Inspiration

I'm KC, The People's Bard. I write songs and poems inspired by the people I meet on the internet. Ask, and I’ll write something for you.
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  • Lara Croft of Tomb Raider fame is the protagonist in this adventure-ballad. When Meagan Marie—who manages Official Tomb Raider Blog—suggested I write songs for the women of gaming, I happily accepted the challenge. Lara is probably my favorite female character ever, so I wrote her an epic. At five minutes plus, this is Homeric in scope. Fandom big or go home, I say. In my story, Lara raids the tomb of an ancient Undead Kingdom; rather than highlight her physical traits or her weapons, I focused on her cleverness—her distinctly feminine wisdom. The art of this is in the storytelling—the music merely provides a chugging rhythm. A lot of thought about gender differences and music went into this; you can read about the whole process here if you wish. And this is actually the second version of this song; the original was an even longer version about a race between Lara and Indiana Jones. It’s worth a listen, too, but it is less attention-span friendly. Free downloads of this epic are available here, and you can stream it on YouTube

    This song is dedicated to the many blogs that I read during my extensive research on Lara Croft: Of course, Meagan Marie and the Official Tomb Raider Blog, and also larahcroft.blog.cz, Eidos’ Tomb Raider Forums, tombraideraddiction, captivatingcroft, raidercroft, twinpistolsf***yeahlaracrofttombraider, effyeahtombraidergirls, fyeahtombraider, lara-croft, tombraidingb*tch, and laracroft. Thanks for the inspiration, bloggers! I hope you all enjoy because I am certainly enjoying playing as the #Gaming Bard. – Kavalier Calm    

         A Woman’s Clever Ways

    When Lara reads about The Kingdom of Undead, her eyes light up, dreams fill her head.
    She makes plans to raid that tomb—the Skeleton King’s Temple of Doom—
    for great treasure waits in its vault: The Queen of Bone’s solid gold skull.
    Our raider smiles because she knows:
    No man, beast, or magic game
    can beat a woman’s clever ways.
    The tomb’s first room is dark as night; Lara lights a torch and to her surprise
    the floor is covered by undead tigers, restless in their slumber.
    They smell blood, and they smell meat, but Lara is ever-quick on her feet.
    She can see they’re blind as bats, from years living in darkness;
    they hunt with their nose and ears; she needs to trick them that she’s near.
    The cave’s high ceiling plays with sound, so Lara screams louder than loud.
    Her voice bounces off all the walls, hits those cats like a hundred war calls.
    In confusion, they begin to roar—adding to the echo score.
    As they crash and claw each other, Lara slips by without a bother.
    CHORUS
    The next room is home to a ghost, he appears to Lara, a demanding host:
    “In the next chamber awaits your prize, but passage comes at a high price;
    The toll is a life or limb; nothing less will get you in.”
    Facing this grave toll, Lara uses what she knows from old scrolls:
    these undead worship cats as gods; she says this to help her odds:
    “Sir, like many of your people, I am part feline—on my mother’s side;
    this makes me swift and nimble and gives me nine lives.
    I have one I can give to you if you agree to let me through.”
    To this, the ghost responds: “I know this is a clever trick,
    but I respect its guile, so I accept.”
    CHORUS
    Into the throne room Lara steps, and right away she spies her get:
    she takes a step towards the prize, the golden skull shines;
    and then—-
    she jumps back in fear! as the King from thin air appears,
    carrying a royal club of wood, smiling as only the dead could.
    But Lara’s heart doesn’t skip a beat; she falls to her knees,
    and palms stretched forward on the ground, she humbly sings:
    "My King, do you not wish to rest?
    At this he halts his march, at this he drops his arm:
    "At times I tire of my task, but someone must guard my wife
    against thieves like you, against their greedy vice.”
    CHORUS
    “My King, I can be your guard. I can give your wife a new temple,
    a modern home called a museum where people will line up to see her,
    where she will be worshiped every day and be treated like royalty.”
    The King taps his chin and weighs the choice, turns his ear to his queen’s silent voice.
    “The Queen says she likes this idea, and I learned early in my rule
    never to argue with that woman—it’s a duel I always lose.
    So, raider, we have a bargain, then, and I declare it a win-win:
    You get to keep your life, and I finally get to end mine.”
    He extends his hand in thanks, and as they shake, he fades away.
    And as Lara grabs the skull, she hears the Queen say:
    CHORUS

    EDIT: I decided to make a Lara-only version of this song, too. Check it out here.

    Tonight’s song is about a race between Lara Croft and Indiana Jones to see who is the Best Archaeologist Ever Known. When Meagan Marie—who manages Official Tomb Raider Blog—suggested I write songs for the important women in gaming, I happily accepted the challenge of highlighting the strengths of women in games. Lara is probably my favorite female character ever, so I wrote her an epic. Really, at seven minutes plus, this is Homeric in scope. Fandom like a boss. In my story, Lara and Indy have the strength and intelligence we expect; but it is Croft’s womanly wisdom that matters most in the end. The art of this is in the storytelling—the music merely provides a chugging rhythm. I painstakingly enunciated so you could understand the words, but they are a fun read. I put the lyrics and a full explanation of the songwriting process in a separate post; the lyrics are also in the video details on YouTube. Free downloads of this epic are available here.

    This song is dedicated to many blogs that I read during my extensive research on Lara Croft: Of course, Meagan Marie and the Official Tomb Raider Blog, and also larahcroft.blog.cz, Eidos’ Tomb Raider Forums, tombraideraddiction, captivatingcroft, raidercroft, twinpistolsf***yeahlaracrofttombraider, effyeahtombraidergirls, fyeahtombraider, lara-croft, tombraidingb*tch, and laracroft. Thanks for the inspiration, bloggers! I hope you all enjoy because I am certainly enjoying being the #Gaming Bard. – Kavalier Calm

    Listeners: Who do you think is the better archaeologist? Lara or Indy?

    Croft and Jones in the Temple of Bones

    When Meagan Marie—who manages Official Tomb Raider Blog—suggested I write songs for the important women in gaming, I realized my whole next song project should be character-centric. I’m slowly building an album of character-based songs. I plan to have an even number of songs for male and female characters, and Meagan gave me a strong list of characters for the female half. I decided to write for Lara first because she is one of my favorite characters ever. Writing these #gaming songs is fun, but I like to think they can have a message. After all, gaming has never been simply about fun for me; I’ve learned much about life when gaming; thus, a song about gaming should achieve the same thing. Megan essentially challenged me to highlight the strengths of women—to create a girl power moment!—and this was a challenge I was ready to take on. I actually believe the distinction between genders is often overblown; in general, I don’t think very much separates men and women. But the women in my life collectively have a few traits that I envy—traits that Lara has exemplified over her career as well. Primarily I mean: infinite patience; an incredible strength of spirit; compassion; and a cleverness, which is often used against me. Both men and women are clever, but I am dumbfounded by feminine cleverness; the women in my life have such subtle and smart tactics to get what they want. They know how to plant seeds, make something they want seem like my own idea, and they know how to ask for things with the slightest whisper of guilt—a feeling that makes me cave every time. Some people will argue about these distinctions I’m drawing, and that’s fine. I only claim they are based on my experiences with women. And I love the women in my life for these traits—these strengths. So, when it was time to write a song about Lara, I imbued her with the qualities I know she has from playing Tomb Raider games, but I also gave her strengths I believe all women have.

    The second important part of this song is my use of Indiana Jones as a foil. When defining characters, it is useful to compare them to someone. In my research I read that Lara was initially designed as a man but was changed to a woman partly because the developers felt that the original design was too similar to Indiana Jones. This got me wondering about the differences between these two world-renowned archaeologists. The song highlights some of their unique characteristics.

    Tomb Raider’s music is beautiful, but it’s orchestral. I am many things, but an entire orchestra is not one of them. So I had to do this my way, and my way is a chugging rhythm and Homeric-like storytelling. The rhythm is constantly leaning forward; it creates the feeling one gets when falling out of a chair. And I am proud of the lyrics; the rhyming, the near-rhyming, the word play, etc. At seven minutes, this is not for those with short attention spans; but considering the immensity of the two characters I am comparing, the length seems fair.

    My devotees are listed in the separate audio post.
     
         Croft and Jones in the Temple of Bones

    Gather round, ye friends and foes, and I’ll sing the tale of Croft and Jones,
    the tale of two adventurers great who made a wager, a bet for the ages:
    the first to the treasure in the Temple of Bones earns the title:
    Best Archaeologist Ever Known.

    This dungeon is ideal for their bet; the Skeleton King, as DM, is no novice.
    Cursed to a cave with two entryways, he strove to shape a very fair maze.
    Whether raiders enter East or West, they will face the exact same test—
    two paths in a symmetrical tomb, leading to its heart, the throne room.

    At a time on which they both agree, Indy enters West, and Lara enters East.
    The very first room is full of giant spiders; Indy’s revolver makes short work of them.
    One small bite and their poison will kill; nothing Lara can’t handle with her pistols.

    The next room is dark as night; Indy lights a torch and to his surprise
    the floor is covered by undead tigers, restless in their slumber.
    They smell blood, and they smell meat, but Indy is ever-quick on his feet.
    He cuts his palm on a nearby rock, covers his leather bag in blood.
    Just as those tigers near, he tosses his bag in the air.
    As one, those cats chase his scent, and he slips right by them.
    Facing tigers of her own, Lara’s flare casts a pink glow.
    She can see they’re blind as bats from years living in darkness.
    They hunt with their nose and ears; she needs to trick them that she’s near.
    The cave’s high ceiling plays with sound, so Lara screams louder than loud.
    Her voice bounces of all the walls, hits those tigers like a hundred war calls.
    In confusion, they begin to roar, adding to the echo score.
    As they crash and claw each other, Lara slips by without a bother.

    The next room is home to a ghost, he appears to Indy, a demanding host:
    "In the next chamber awaits your prize, but passage comes at a high price;
    The toll is a life or a limb; nothing less will get you in.”
    Indy wonders until his light bulb’s lit: “Ghost, I will give you my dear bullwhip;
    so often has it saved me from harm, I think of it as my third arm.”
    To this, the ghost responds: “I know this is a clever trick,
    but I respect its guile, so I accept.”

    In the east Lara faces the same grave toll; she uses what she knows from old scrolls:
    these undead worship cats as gods. She makes this bold claim to help her odds:
    "Sir, like many of your people, I am part feline—on my mother’s side;
    this makes me swift and nimble and gives me nine lives.
    I have one I can spare for you if you agree to let me through.”
    To this, the ghost responds: “I know this is a clever trick,
    but I respect its guile, so I accept.”

    Lara enters right, thinking she’s best, and in walks Indy from the left.
    They meet eyes in a long stare. They both know they’re almost there.
    As one their heads turn to the prize on the throne: the solid gold skull of the Queen of Bone.
    Though a scholar and a Doctor, Indy is still just a man—
    and men can’t bear to lose, and sometimes, they act too soon.
    But ever-patient Lara smells a trap—her wisdom screams  hold  back.
    She watches as Indy charges for treasure, hears as he calls out in pleasure,
    mere steps from victory—

    and then he cries out in fear! as the King from thin air appears
    and gives a swing of his club of wood—as only a king could.
    Jones crumbles to the floor, knocked out cold, he starts to snore.

    The King then takes a step towards Lara; she falls to her knees, palms stretched forward.
    In his language she humbly speaks, “Do you not wish to rest, My King?”
    And on this question he halts and says: “At times I tire of my task.
    But someone must guard my wife against ill intent.”
    "My King, I can be your guard. I can give your wife a new temple,
    a modern home called a museum where people will line up to see her,
    where she will be worshiped every day, where she will be treated like royalty.”
    The King taps his chin and weighs the choice, turns his ear to his queen’s silent voice.
    "The Queen says she likes this idea, and I learned early in my rule
    never to argue with that woman—it’s a duel I always lose.
    So, raider, we have a bargain, then, and I declare it a win-win:
    You get to keep your life, and I finally get to end mine.”
    He extends his hand in thanks, and as they shake, he fades away.

    Lara grabs the Queen’s Gold Skull and kneels to pinch Indy’s nose.
    She gives his cheeks a gentle pat; when he wakes, she hands him his hat.
    With a smile of jest, she says, “Let’s go home, Mr. Second-best.”