Monday, December 31, 2007

Books read Sept/Oct - Dec 2007

One of the girls at work posted the books she had read so I started keeping track of mine.
From about the end of September/October or so, while working on other projects I read:
Peter Jackson – A film-makers journey by Brian Sibley
The Rants by Dennis Miller
Ranting Again by Dennis Miller
The Rant Zone by Dennis Miller
I Rant therefore I am by Dennis Miller
Napalm and Silly Putty by George Carlin
Comic Book Nation – The Transformation of Youth Culture in America by Bradford W Wright
The Art of Animation Drawing by Don Bluth
Behind the Mask of Spider-Man: The Secrets of the Movie by Mark Cotta Vaz

In November, I had read:
Monster Kid Memories by Bob Burns and Tom Weaver
Bring Me That Horizon: The Making of Pirates of the Caribbean by Michael Singer
How to Tell a Secret by P.J. Huff and J.G. Lewin

Finally in December, I read:
The Art of Demotivation by E.L. Kersten, Ph.D
The Starbucks Experience by Joseph A. Michelli
Making Great Boxes by Wood Magazine
Basic Model Railroading! Getting started in the Hobby – edited by Kent J. Johnson
Project Railroads You Can Build – selected by Kent J. Johnson
Ship Models from Kits by Colin Riches
No Plot? No Problem! By Chris Baty
Freight Car Projects and Ideas – selected by Kent Johnson
Give our Regards to the Atomsmashers!: Writers on Comics – edited by Sean Howe
Scale Model Buildings by Michael Andress
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing for Young Adults by Deborah Perlberg
The Usborne Introduction to the First World War – by Ruth Brocklehurst & Henry Brook
Writing Handbooks: Writing Sitcoms by John Byrne & Marcus Powell
The DC Comics Guide to Pencilling Comics by Klaus Janson

My bedside book was JRR Tolkien by Katharyn W Crabbe. I don't get to read as much in bed as I used to back in the day so this was one that I worked away at for several months.

Currently, I'm halfway through Warships in Miniature by Michael Ainsworth and should finish it over the next day or so.

Prior to this list, I had read a bunch of World War One books for the Canvas Eagles at Wincon. Some I will reread in the new year when I get back to finishing the model planes. My tastes seem to be heavy into whatever bright light has caught my eye at the moment. This doesn't include the graphic novels or kids books that we read to the kids.
Magazine wise, I normally read White Dwarf, Star Wars Insider, and Robot magazine each month, and Reader's Digest, People, Macleans, and Comic and Games Retailer magazine in batches when the wife finishes with them.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

post X-mas wrap - up (unwrap-up?)

I saw a lot of family on my mom’s side over the holidays – all the aunts and uncles were over for chicken noodle soup on boxing day. As well, on Christmas eve we had my whole family except for my younger sister and her brood (BC’s a bit of a journey to make it over for dinner). It was good to see my nieces again – they don’t visit enough now that they are in that fun age.

I now have 4 Star Wars Miniatures AT-ATs, 3 AT-STs (and a 4th one with different armament), and 8 snowspeeders. Except for the 6 towers (1 en route already) and people, I now have enough to play Assault on Hoth super upsized. I could still use 1 extra AT-AT though – there is an event card that gives a bonus AT-AT to the Empire side. That’s going to be hard to swing by the wife though, she already feels that four is pushing it. I already have the extra three snowpeeders for the Rebel Reinforcements event card.

We also got a load of movies – including White Christmas, Red Dawn, Sean of the Dead. We did finally get Serenity in fullscreen – so I can still justify getting the newer version on widescreen. With the boxing day sales, I finally picked up a set of the Matrix trilogy, Beetlejuice, and League of Extrordinary Gentlemen. So I’m good for late night work again with extra features galore.

I finally got a quality digital camera, so I should be able to update more often with pictures instead of just words. As long as I can upload directly, I won’t have to wait for the films to get developed onto a CD for the images.

Now to see if I can still get a Alive Chimpanzee at Walmart.

Monday, December 24, 2007

the night before Christmas

We went out to Pinawa for the weekend for a quiet Christmas with Shan’s folks. Shan’s mom had a stroke about 6 weeks ago and is still recovering from it. She seems fine – a bit more frail than normal – but gets tired quickly and often takes naps. The prognosis is good, and she is expected to make a full recovery, but it will take some time.
The drive out Friday night was slow as the snow was blowing but the traffic was light and we made it there without any mishaps. The kids were quite wound up and ended up opening their gifts on the Saturday. Shan had made the ham on Saturday and the turkey on Sunday and both were wonderful.

They are all home together today while I am at work so we’ll see how high the excitement levels will get. The kids aren’t ones for getting up early on Christmas Day though. Often, Shan and I will have to wake them by 9am to get the day started.
D3’s having a crisis of faith this year. About half of the kids in his class don’t believe in Santa Claus. He has asked for coal for his stocking – not that he feels that he has been bad but more to help prove Santa’s existence.

Shan doesn’t put out my gifts until the last moment. I’m usually very good about being about to guess my gifts by weight and package size. I remember our early years together. She had said that I could shake my gifts but then was appalled as I slowly tipped the box back and forth. This I had learned from science class where you have to determine what was in a sealed box by observing whether objects rolled or slid when the box was tipped in various ways. Since then, I’m not allowed to shake my gifts or even look too closely at them.

A very merry Christmas to you and yours from me and mine. Happy holidays to the more secular of you. A happy Christmaka to those who understand it and a happy Festivus for the rest of us.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Birchwood - bad dealership?

We had gone in to Birchwood to talk about the rust on quarter panels that had come back one month after they were to have fixed it. It turns out that in order to fix it properly, they would have to replace the entire door assembly and they feel that that cost’s too much for them. Even though this was something that they had approved as a condition of us buying the van, and that had delayed us for a week in picking up the car as they sent it off to get fixed, they don’t want to do it. Not that they are saying that they can’t do it, just that they don’t want to.

We explained to them that, one of their managers approved this and if they had an issue with that manager’s decision, they should take it up with them. Also, if they had sent this off to get fixed and the place merely painted over the rust instead of fixing it, that is something that they could take up with the body shop.

They were thinking of just giving us some minor financial compensation. We proposed that, since they had said that they would fix this, but now don’t want to, we could take the amount it would take to get fixed. They explained that this cost was almost what we had paid for the vehicle and that they didn’t think that was fair to them.

Shan also proposed that they could give us another similar vehicle in a straight trade for this one that they sold us under false pretenses. They had two other Windstars on the lot – both newer. They were all excited to show us them and were ready to make the trade because they weren’t listening and thought that we would pay then another $6000 for the difference. When Shan repeated that we would do a straight trade but not pay more, they were less enthused about the idea. You have to wonder at their mentality – “I know that we lied about fixing this vehicle that we sold you, but how about giving us that one back, plus more money again, and we’ll give you a newer vehicle that will be fine this time, we promise”. Isn’t that the whole definition of bait-and-switch?

Andrew wasn’t able to make that kind of decision so he had to get his manager to call Shannon back. When he did the next, he basically offered her the same deal that she had already turned down. So we’ll have to go back and see them after the holidays. At least we have out vehicle back. Since they weren’t fixing it after all, they didn’t see the need to keep paying for a rental.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas cookie scam

Every year some people organize a cookie exchange. The idea is, you bake extra batches of cookies (usually in dozens) and trade them with other people for the extras they’ve made. I can’t ever think why this would be a good idea.

I suppose there is a modicum of time saved in buying various ingredients and mixing different batches for the various cookies when instead you just crank out an assembly line of one type of cookies. My issue is, why would I make extra batches of cookies I do like and trade them away for cookies that I may not like? I suppose there are some Martha Stewarts out there who are lovingly crafting several hundreds of cookies so that they can show off their prowess but if not, and standards are slipping with the larger batches, why would I want those cookies? Our time seems better spent making a few small batches of the cookies that we actually know we like and having those for ourselves. If someone else finds making different batches of cookies boring and a hassle, do I really want to trade my cookies for theirs?

be the guy

When we were last at the local Games Workshop, the clerk mentioned that someone had bought one of the ForgeWorld titans and brings it by from time to time for Apocalypse events. It turns out that we know the guy.

He had been selling games by mail order and had a booth at the weekend flea market for a while. Since I had experience in this, we had been pushing him to go to GAMA.
I had sold games by mail order for several years and had looked into opening a store front for a while but never got enough together to take that step. We had been doing booths at comic shows and conventions but they didn’t have the same permanent flea market set-ups at that time. We had kids and it became more difficult to set up and watch these temporary booths so we let it slide and looked into what we needed to open a storefront.
Those things never materialized so we ended up closing out that venture for now.

The GAMA trade show was a great resource though and we highly recommend it to anyone who is in the retail game business. We were pushing him to take his wife with him so she could see how much of an actual business this can be. With his impending wedding though he wasn’t able to get to it. I just found out he is out for now as well.

I had also been pushing him to go to GAMA and Gencon so he could be ‘the guy’. At both of these venues, you get to meet the game designers, see the new products, and learn about what’s new and coming up soon. You get to be ‘the guy’ that knows these things and has met these people and can talk to others about this. People who visit the store and run into you can seek your opinion and knowledge in these matters because you’re ‘the guy’.
I used to be the guy but, since I haven’t been to Gencon in several years, haven’t done an open Wincon in years, and haven’t been around Keycon as much these last few years, a lot of the new crowd doesn’t know me as the guy anymore.

When I found out that it was him who had bought the titan, I was able to congratulate him on being ‘the guy’ after all. Anyone else who wants to congratulate him or see his titan can pop by the Games Workshop on Dec 29 or Jan 6 (5th?).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I am Legend

Okay, I haven’t read the book. I haven’t seen the entire The Omega Man with Charlton Heston in 1971 and have only seen clips of The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price from 1964. I did see Night of the Comet in the theatre and saw the Australian film The Quiet Earth on Superchannel – both of which I liked.

That said, we did see the Will Smith movie I Am Legend last night at Silver City and I believe that we did like it. It’s being promoted as an action film and it really isn’t. They gloss over the technology of the virus so it doesn’t get caught up on its own pseudo-science like some of the science-based movies do (like The Core). They have some nice topical phrases like “jumped species” that hint of the impending avian flu.

It dealt a bit more with the introspective part of being the only person around and keeping up a routine. I’ve been told it’s part of the book, but the military scientist rings a bit odd. Shan had more issues with the degenerates. We were okay with their look and the CG didn’t cause us any trouble. The only this was the lack of damage they seemed to inflict upon themselves and their robustness after the undetermined time. We can understand that they might be able to do some incredible things in their condition with ignoring pain and damage to themselves but that they seemed a bit invulnerable. The one scene where the leader repeatedly smashes his face into the glass should have smashed his nose and cut up his forehead at the least.

Plus at the end, the girl might want to think about carrying the vial in a container or box in case she slips and drops it.

All in all, it was a good film. It is definitely not an action film, but it does have enough action in it to drive along the otherwise dry story.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

what was your name again?

There are always people who, after knowing them for several years, suddenly decide to re-invent themselves. These are the people who decide to go by their middle name or even their initials instead of using their actual first name. Usually, it happens when they introduce themselves to a new group of people outside the circle in which they are already known. This only causes confusion when later these groups meet.

You’re always going to have the people who have used a shortened form of their name or even a nickname suddenly decide that they want to be more mature and now use their full name. So Chuck becomes Charles, Chris becomes Christine, Don becomes Donald, and JP tries to become Jean-Paul.
Sometimes they’ll go the other way and, after using their full name for years, decide they now want the shorter version. In these cases Katherine becomes Kate or even Cat, Michael is now Mike, Elizabeth is now Liz, and Alexandra becomes Alex or Lex or even Andi.
There will even be time when someone will change their name due to a conversion in their religious beliefs. With these, Lou becomes Kareem, Cassius becomes Muhammad, and Christine becomes Kedma.

The level of success with these changes varies depending on how resistant the people in your former circles are and how often the circles intersect. Plus, how pretentious or cloying the name change is has a big factor on it’s eventual success or failure.

The people in fandom seem to have embraced this concept wholeheartedly. Granted, when you only run into people at conventions and they only know you by the name that you have put on your badge, going by an altered name is easier that you might think. Plus they let you put almost anything on your badge.
It’s just that some of them then take this acceptance and try to go by these names out in the real world. Thus you have Althea, Terrakian, and Bodi. I’m all for letting people change their identities but, if you’re going to be serious enough about it to get people to call you by your new name, spend a few bucks and get it legally changed. If I can’t write a cheque to you under your new name that you can cash, I’m not going to be quick to adopt that name.

Just saying is all.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Big Breakfast / sausage McMuffin

When did McDonalds change the eggs in the Big Breakfast? As a youth, the breakfast choices were Egg McMuffin, pancakes, or the Big Breakfast. I didn’t like the formed egg or the ham in the Egg McMuffin so I would often get the Big Breakfast and then make a sandwich out of the scrambled eggs, sausage patty, and English muffins. It lacked the cheese but in my mind was far superior to the Egg McMuffin. Later, the Sausage McMuffin was added but it lacked the egg part until the Sausage McMuffin with Egg became available.
Granted, I haven’t often ordered breakfast from McDonalds in the last few years but did have the occasion to pick up a few over this last summer before work. One on of my last times, I had a taste for a Big Breakfast-made Sausage ‘n Egg McMuffin. To my surprise, when opening the package, instead of the mass of scrambled eggs, I found two folded scrambled egg squares. I guess they are the ones from the other breakfast sandwiches but it was a bit of a shock to me. I haven’t had a chance to try again to see if it was an aberration or a new paradigm.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I've got the power

When it comes to electricity and computers, I’m certainly not at the top of the class. While I do understand how the components work together (from 2 years of Comp Sci at university), I couldn’t currently trace the pathways and check the chip sets to see where the problem lies.
That said, I am able to crack open the case and swap out some basic components. If they don’t work though, I am back to relying on percussive maintenance. Besides the basics like keyboards and changing out the nasty mouse for a trackball, I have added a video card, dvd drive, and changed out the power supply.

That’s what I had to do last night. The home computer had been freezing up occasionally and finally wouldn’t start at all this week. Since the wife confirms that this isn’t really something that can wait, I went out to get a new one.
We got the last one at Computer Avenue but, from the website, I figured I’d give Computer Boulevard a try this time. Like most computer parts, power supplies seem to range from about $40 up to about $200. Since this computer will likely be replaced in the new year, I didn’t need anything too fancy. I found a nice one that looked basically similar to the old one and that also happened to be on sale for about $30.

At home, I cracked open the case and blew out much of the dust that had collected inside the bowels of our tower. We should probably do that more often. I took out the old power supply and put in the new one. I carefully removed each set of the old wires and quickly replaced them with the new ones before I could forget where they went.
I had to power it up three times before it finally caught and loaded into the system. This caused be a bit of concern at first but everything seems fine now.

Of course, I have to keep the old supply. It goes on the pile with its predecessor waiting to one day be opened and gutted for parts for scenery.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas wish list?

It’s less than two weeks before Christmas, and there still isn’t anything on my must-have list for this year. I’m not sure if that’s a sign that I’m getting more mature and Zen about possessions or, more likely, I’m jaded and have already gotten everything I really wanted by now.

Last year, I was looking forward to the Star Wars Starship Miniature Battles game. I had been able to download the rules from the Wizkids site and was drawing ship counters in the proper size over the holidays – just in case my wife didn’t come through. [More than a bit obsessive? – Sure] I now have a complete set of the actual ships and only need a few more duplicates of some of them for playing. [Can one really have too many Star Destroyers?] It plays well enough and we will definitely upsize it, when I have space to keep the upsized figures.

This year, there isn’t a new game that is on my must-have list. There are a few older games that I have on their way from ebay as I write. The Mechwarrior Solaris VII looks nice, and I’ll probably get some packs with and eye to upsizing, but I don’t HAVE to have it.
Even the Warhammer 40K Apocalypse rules, which REALLY appeals to me, won’t really be something I can make good use of until I can find more space to really work on my 40K figures and store the vehicles (and Titans!) that I now need to build.

Movie-wise, there are still a few DVD sets I’m chasing down from previous Christmas wish lists but, again, nothing I must go out on Boxing Day and buy if I do not get. I’m still needing the Back To The Future set as well as the Legacy collections for Dracula, the Mummy, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
The bins have been pretty good this year for getting DVDs at low prices.

I’ve gotten most of the shop tools I can get without having a garage or a workshop to put/use them in. So the table saw, chop saw, drill press, metal brake (for folding metal), and lathe I need will have to wait for the addition to the house.

We’ll probably get a new computer next year, so I’ll have all the computer goodies on next year’s birthday or Christmas list. The wife’s resigned to the fact that we will probably need to get a mac to do the video work and graphics I want to do. At that time, we’ll probably also get a small PC as well.
There’s no big game out there for us. We’re not into first-person-shooters (FPS) or real-time-strategy (RTS) games and the Diablo / Diablo 2 and Heroes of Might and Magic are still holding up well when we find the time. I’m desperately looking forward to a new Monkey Island, but that doesn’t seem to be on the radar either. I am looking forward to playing some City of Heroes with the upgrade though.

There are a few books and graphic novels that would be great to have, notably some of the Marvel Essentials and the rest of the Hellboy GNs and Cerebus phonebooks, but those can wait until the dollar stabilizes – or until we take a trip down to Barnes and Noble. Since the game room will absorb most of the books as well, we should then have more room in the 6 other bookcases that we presently have jammed with books for even more books.

The wife is usually very good at surprising me with a few things. I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with this year.

D & D?

For those who liked the Lord of the Rings as RPG comic, another comic has come forth - Darths and Droids. It's basically the same idea but with the Star Wars RPG. It's still being created, so it hasn't completed the story yet. It starts with The Phantom Menace and I'm sure you'll find that it's certainly worth a look.

Monday, December 10, 2007

the Winter haircut

I grew up in the 70s. Big hair was in style back then. I used to get my hair cut three or four times a year with the same cut – to the hairline in the back, around the ears, and thin the top out (I had, and still have, very thick hair). My hair is mostly straight but when it hits a certain length it starts to get wavy.

In the late 80s and 90s, I even grew my hair out a few times and wore it back in a ponytail. The longest I have had it was when my bangs reached back over my head to between my shoulder blades, or about three fists length of ponytail from my hairline.

In the last few years, I’ve eschewed even the Singletons or MagicCuts haircuts and have been cutting my hair at home. We bought some clippers and about three times a year, I buzz my hair down to the longest clipper setting we have – the number 4 one. The timing on this is always critical as, after the first week when it is fine, it usually takes a month for it to grow out to an acceptable length. It used to be easier, as one could pace it for birthday / driver’s license photos and Christmas photos. Now, however, they have split off the driver’s photos to two months after your birthday, which makes it harder to keep track when to cut it. It’s not that hard really, I just have to cut it shortly after my birthday – which is just in time for summer.

For the holidays, while having longer hair is warmer, our winters usually necessitate the use of a touque. Long hair, dry weather, and a touque are usually not a great combination. The winter haircut takes this into account. Having the shorter hair is much easier to take care of plus, with the savings, we could buy a new set of clippers every year and still be ahead (and these ones have lasted over 5 years already).

Friday, December 7, 2007

conventions - counting memberships

Many conventions like to post their membership numbers to show how big they are. This is also important when dealing with manufacturers and advertisers for prize support and ad rates. Most conventions also use very sketchy numbers about counting you.

If you attend a three-day convention on all three days, they often count you as three people towards their numbers. If you buy a weekend pass and only show up on two days, they would still count you as three people. Many conventions boasting 500+ memberships could really have less than 200 attendees using this method.

With Wincon, we always listed our attendance numbers as individual members. If you showed up all three days or only on Saturday, you were only counted as one. If you came on Saturday as a day pass and then came back on Sunday as a day pass, you still only counted as one person. This did make Wincon seem a bit smaller that some of the other conventions in the area but we didn’t feel that doing it any other way was giving an honest number. It also helped that we had highly competent people in charge of our registration process who were able to track people for day memberships.

So when you see conventions boast of their membership size, keep this in mind.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Finally - the costumes

Here are the photos from the Comiccon of the kids' costumes.

The helmet came out very nice for painted cardboard. The armor is cardboard on foam sheets. My mom sewed the vest and the Batgirl costume - I did the Bat-symbol.

Even without the gauntlets and kneepads, he still fit in as 'young Boba Fett'. We were going to get a shot of him next to the standee as well but didn't in time. He looked pretty good next to this great looking Boba. His gun was the Rebel Blaster nerf gun that we had picked up in the states.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Manitoba Comiccon update

Okay, I’ll give my thoughts on the Comiccon compared to the other conventions I’ve been to – Gencon, Keycon, and Valleycon. There was a good crowd – it seemed like several hundred people in the main room. I have tremendous trouble believing the 11,000 attendees that they have reported but could easily believe 1100 over the weekend. That would make it bigger than Keycon and Valleycon but tiny compared to Gencon. I’ll rant later about the way conventions count attendees.

The dealer's room was easily as big as Valleycon but nowhere near the Gencons that I recall. There was a good mix of comics, games, collectibles, and a few clothing dealers. There was a good mix of prices from crazy expensive to super reasonable.

They had an Anime room that was always dark and seemed busy; a programming room that was decently attended; a gaming room that was quite busy with a good mix of card gamers, miniature tables, and open tables.

As mentioned earlier, I didn’t get to much of the programs. I did attend the costume contest. This could have been handled much better. There was a delay in starting as they hadn’t thought to get proper information when signing up the costumers. The prizes were also the minimal, near-insulting prizes that we who do costumes have come to expect from most conventions. There were quite a few costumers about in the dealer hall both on the Saturday and the Sunday and many of the costumes were of respectable quality with a few stunning costumes - like the guy who made Halo armor.

The guests were very visible and easy to get to. They charged for autographs, which is pretty standard, but were pretty good about posing for pictures. There were a lot of comic book artists in attendance as well who were also good about chatting with the fans.

Originally, there was some talk of them losing the contract for the hotel for next year, but it sounds like they are fine after all. It was a good time and, with the low cost, we were able to bring the entire family and stay in the convention hotel. There were none of the party rooms that Keycon or Valleycon have, but since the cost was only a fraction of Keycon’s admission, they weren’t missed all that much.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Walk with Dinos

We took the kids to see Walking With Dinosaurs when it came here. We were unsure about going but feel that it was well worth the cost. We were in the balcony on the end opposite where the dinos come out and had a good view of the arena, the side screens and a fair view of the back screen. The show was a nice mix of information and entertainment. The kids were quite impressed.
They have sales booths up and Shan got a program book ($20), I got the making of DVD ($25), and the kids each got a set of dino cards on a lanyard ($5 each). With the tickets, parking, and loot, we spent about $200 for the four of us. I think we did okay in value for money. I watched the dvd while getting the playmobile advent calendars ready. It was over an hour and a half, and covered the show from concept to first show.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

dark future

I recently read the Essential Marvel Team Up volume 2 (as well as the Essential Dr Strange volume 1). They are basically tradebacks reprinting about 25 issues of the old comic books. They are in black and white only to keep the cost down and they are good value – about $20 each depending on your exchange rate. I have some of the MTU issues starting at the end of this volume until the end of the run.
The Ditko Doctor Strange art is pretty neat – the stories seem to have paled a bit by the time lapsed and the lack of color. Most of the stories have him fighting Baron Mordo again and again. It might not have been so noticeable on a monthly issue, but read together, seems a bit repetitive.

The MTU had a story arc where Spidey gets shunted through time to the past and then flung into the far future. Since these stories had been published in 1975, their idea of the future differs from what we are now experiencing.
He first went ahead to 2019 (issue 45) and teamed up with Kilraven in fighting in a New York devastated in the Second Martian Invasion of 2001. He then hopped back slightly to a then-future 1990 (issue 46), where he teamed up with Deathlok to battle mutates.

Your experience with the future may have varied.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

dealership delays

Birchwood has had the Windstar in for two weeks now getting the rocker panel fixed. When we called last week to check the status of it I had been told that the part had been fixed and was just waiting to be repainted. They said there were about 20 cars waiting so it would probably be sometime this week.

Yesterday, we came home from the movies to a message on our machine telling us that they were unable to fix the panel and have been having trouble trying to find an aftermarket part to replace it. They mentioned that they might have to order the whole assembly from Ford and have to cut and weld it. Shan will call back later today to find out what’s up. Either they were lying to us (again) when they told us last week that it had been fixed or they had fixed it and someone realized that the fix wasn’t good enough after all.

Either way we’re driving around in a Nissan Sentra. It’s tiny. In many ways it reminds me of the old days of driving around in my old Chevette – except that had more interior room.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Grey Cup

We don’t really follow much in the way of sports teams. Certainly not baseball, hockey, soccer, or the NFL. I used to follow the NBA about 2 decades ago but haven’t really kept up with all the expansions. We do keep a bit more aware of the CFL though.

We don’t always closely follow the season but do have more of a celebration on the Grey Cup. Granted, we don’t always watch the game, but do like to have a Grey Cup party. It started one year because I was feeling the need for the pomp and food of a sports party. Like a Superbowl party but without having to actually wait through the game in order to see the fun commercials.
We were freshly married and I had made wings, chips, cheese and crackers, veggies and dip and so on with which to eat with the game. It occurred to me that I liked the party and food aspects more than the game itself. The wife had said that if I was going to put out this much food anyways, we might as well have people over.

The next year, and for many years after that, we hosted a Grey Cup party. Most of our friends weren’t into football much either, but came for the food and company. We would play board games and chat. It was a good time. While it sometimes referred to as such, it was never actually an anti-Grey Cup party; we just didn’t always watch the game. This did cause an issue in 2001 as the Blue Bombers (our home team) were actually in the Grey Cup again.

The following year we moved to our new house. Shortly afterwards we took a few years off from the party. With the Bombers back in the Grey Cup this year, we made up the food again but actually watched the entire game this year. It was a close game but Saskatchewan beat us out in the end. Maybe next year we’ll start back with the party again.

Friday, November 16, 2007

boxes full of figures

Another box of love from ebay showed up yesterday. I have gotten two boxes with close to 200 cheap Heroclix figures to fill in some of my many gaps in my sets. I've brought a few more sets closer but haven't completed any more yet.
Ebay is presently dangerous. Our dollar topped out recently at $1.10 US and is now back to par. I've won a few items I've tried off and on for over the last few years to buy. Shipping is still a bit but I'm hoping they will survive the trip. With Christmas coming, I'm trying to pace my purchases.

I had to take the Windstar in for repair. They were supposed to have fixed the rusty rocker panel when we bought it but it looks like it had only been painted over. With the rust module and the repair, it shouldn't have visibly rusted through again in just a month. So that's back in getting fixed.

Friday, November 9, 2007

I love my wife

Today is our 11th anniversary. We have a bit of a flu or cold going through the household, so the wife ended up staying home. I, of course, am well enough to go in to work. Having Monday and Tuesday off is enough incentive for me to make it in today.

We picked up the second season of How I Met Your Mother for our anniversary. “Suit up!” I was thinking back to when we were going out and some quotes from the movies we saw back then. We have a similar, broad taste is movies and a similar comedic sense that’s a little bit off.

“Head! Pants!”and “We’ve got a piper down.” from So I Married An Axe Murderer with Mike Myers and Nancy Travis. It’s very charming and sweet, as well as wickedly funny.

“Yeah, well you’ve got a Captain Hook complex” from One Fine Day with George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer, in response to being told that he has a Peter Pan complex.

“Just trying to find our song” from Speechless with Michael Keaton and Geena Davis.

I wasn’t so impressed with Bullets Over Broadway with John Cusack (I’m sure I was tired) but we later loved Gross Point Blank – “No meetings!”

She was good with Highlander but, for some reason (again I blame lack of sleep), she showed me Nightmare Before Christmas and I didn’t appreciate it the first time I saw it. Despite this, she still married me and both us and our kids love Nightmare.
She also reintroduced me into watching the x-files by showing some of the more comedic episodes. The two episodes I had caught from the first two seasons were both spaceship ones – chasing through the woods so I hadn’t been watching.

Once again I marvel at how lucky I am to have someone with which to share such a large part of my life interests. She’s my schmoopy, my lobster, my Lady Red.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Gord died

I don’t seem to be able to post from home so have been unable to update while on holidays last week. The Comiccon went well, got the costume mostly done, Halloween was fine. I’ll update on all that later but I must deal with this first.

At the Comiccon, Shan found out from his daughter Meghan that Gord from Face-Off had died on September 29. We were both stunned. He was 65 but we always remember him as a nice old man. When we used to do the comic shows, he was always there. I recall him as usually cheerful – more ready to shrug and laugh at something than let it get him upset. I used to judge Heroclix at his store back in the day and he was always super pleasant with which to deal. I had seen him get frustrated rarely but he usually was able to shake his head and let it pass.
He never closed – only two days a year and was always making crazy good deals for the customers. Since my office moved, I haven’t been out his way as much lately as I had been.

We will miss him terribly. He was one of the few old men in the gaming community left and definitely the sweetest. His son Rob will carry on running the store. Comiccon had a memorial poster up for him during the convention with his big grinning face by the registration desk.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I used to be hyperthyroidal in my formative years. It had both pluses and minuses. I always felt like the room was about 5 degrees warmer than it really was (nice in the winter but killer in the summer); I used to be able to eat vast quantities and yet was never over 150 pounds (which has skewed my portion sizes and diet since); and I was able to go without as much sleep (and would often read into the wee hours until I would finally pass out, or not). About twice a month, I would lose a night’s sleep by staying up reading or playing computer games until I was required to interact with a new day.
In my late teens, I was diagnosed, medicated, and ultimately treated for this by drinking radioactive iodine. The nurse puts the lead apron on you, brings out this tiny pill bottle-sized container encased in the center of a 6 inch diameter lead canister and then tells you to drink it. I did, and it seems to have worked fine. Sometimes it kills off too much of the thyroid and one becomes hypothyroidal, again requiring medication.

Sometimes I miss the not being as affected by the lack of sleep. Now, for instance. Although considering how much of a sleep debt I have accumulated these last two weeks, I am not doing too badly.

Quick status report: Helmet done and painted, all armor pieces glued. Not much time left and a lot left to do to pull everything together. A lot has been started, need to finish more.
With the Slave of Starro tournament finale tonight, I’ll have to work late again tonight to have a chance of finishing up tomorrow night. I was able to watch the Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back dvd commentaries while painting.

Friday, October 19, 2007

costume progress

I’m alternating late nights (or early mornings) while working away on the costumes. Last night I finished modifying the gloves for G. The dollar store gloves are close to the right color but way too big and long. So I trimmed and sewed the fingers and thinned the palms. The cuffs were elbow length but, rolled twice, look right.
Mom has sewn the main outfit already and it looks good on G. She’ll finish the cape and hem the skirt tonight. Dad already made boots out of leatherette that she can wear indoors. I still have to make the bat symbol for her chest, finish the mask, and do a belt.

For D3’s Boba Fett, I started making the armor plates by laminating sheets of cardboard. I’m taping then to a bucket while they dry to give them a bit of a curve. I have a lot of soft parts to work on over the next week – vest, gloves, pouches, belts, as well as the spats and extra pockets. The backpack may be out of the picture for next weekend. For this weekend, I want to finish the helmet enough to start painting, start the armor/vest, and make good headway on the gauntlets.

While working away the hours, I usually have some DVD commentary running in the background. Lately, I’ve been rewatching episodes of Firefly and finally going through the Alien Quadrilogy features. I'm going to sleep between 11pm and 2am nightly. So far, I haven't had to pull any allnighters yet. I remain optimistic.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

costume update - good shape?

The weekend was beautiful so we finally were able to pack down the pool. We barbequed up some burgers for dinner on Sunday and set up some of the basic Halloween yard decorations – the leaf pumpkins and yard spiders. I also did some touch up work on the face on our tree as it was getting a bit soft in a few spots. My can of mistint paint that I use as my base color started to rust solid so I won’t be able to touch up for too much longer without a complete repaint.
In the hands, there are small holes as if a bird had pecked into the tree limbs. These have been patched and need to be painted and covered with urethane. They’ve downgraded the forecast for this week – it was supposed to be nice all week and now they are saying rain. So I can’t really leave it for the weekend again.

G wants to go as the new cartoon Batgirl. This shouldn’t be a major problem as we found a pattern that should work with minor alterations and we picked up fabric. Mom is sewing this and dad is making some boot covers out of vinyl. We picked up some purple gloves that will need some minor sewing and some yellow plastic plates for her belt. She wants this done for Boo-at-the-Zoo so we’re in not too bad a shape for the parts I have to do. The bulk of it is out of my hands though.

D3 wants to go as Boba Fett. I’m working away at his costume. If I had more time, I would sew a proper jumpsuit, as we finally found a pattern. Instead, we picked up some pants and a shirt at Value Village that we can alter. (We will use the pattern later for an upgrade and for sewing newer Ghostbuster jumpsuits.) The helmet details are coming along nicely – I have to remember to finish up in time to paint. I am ready starting on the gauntlets and will do the backpack this weekend. He wants to go to Boo-at-the-Zoo in a different costume so I have a bit more time on his.

Friday, October 12, 2007

why I love the web

This morning I was browsing the web and checked out Steve Jackson Games’ state of the union for 2007.

While there, I found a link to a site where the cover the Lord of the Rings as if it were an AD&D campaign. It’s very clever and true.

When I got to the part where they confront Saruman after Helm’s Deep (How long of a pause? Longer than six seconds?), I was laughing too hard to breathe.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

pre Halloween

Another tourney – another loss, win, loss. I had a good pull this week (drew a Lobo!) but had 6 figures over 100 points with the remainder all 60 or 70 points – making it hard for me to throw together a team. I settled on either Lobo and Captain Boomerang or Luthor and Aztek. I ended up playing the Lex/Aztek combo. I believe part of my problem is that I don’t know the DC characters as well as the Marvel ones and so am not positive who I should be focusing on to attack.

I am working away at the kids Halloween costumes. Well, I gave the pattern for my daughter’s costume to my mom to sew. The son wants to be Boba Fett. I’m finishing the side details of the helmet and have the plans for the armor, wristbands, and backpack from . I’m going to be close for time with finishing and painting. I’m hoping we can find some pants and shirt we can use at Value Village instead of having to sew that as well.

Luckily, my evenings and weekends are mostly open now. I do have two more Slave of Starro tourneys, and we still have to finish putting away the pool and getting the yard decorated.
We’re big into decorating for Halloween. The kids are still young, so the gore factor is way down. I have to touch up the face on our tree (that’s held up very well this last year), hang out the skeletons in the tree, and set up the gravestones. Closer to the date, we put out the lights and figures. We have done a Nightmare before Christmas theme for the last few years, building on to it each year. We have the Pumpkin King scarecrow, the tree with the skeletons, gravestones (including Witch Hazel and Deadly Nightshade ones), a floating Zero, and an eight foot tall Jack Skellington. As well as the normal pumpkin and spider garbage bags.
I have a fog machine and made a fog chiller (you need to chill the fog so it hangs on the ground instead of rising up) but it wasn’t as useful without a timer – which I got last year. That’s another thing I’m looking to try out this weekend.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

slave of Starro

I'm certainly more of a Marvel fan than a DC fan. Although, when I think about it, I started reading DC first. That said, I don't chase the DC Heroclix sets as much as the Marvel Heroclix sets.
Notwithstanding, I am playing in the Slave of Starro event as well. The completest in me likes being able to get the extra slave figs. Last week I lost the first game, won the second, and lost the third. This week I won the first game, lost the second game, and won the third.
I had drawn a Superman as my pull and teamed him with Gypsy for a Stealth shield. On the upside, I finally understand how Hypersonic works - it's evil.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

they're magically delicious

The weekend after Wincon, we were able to play a few games of RoboRally as well as play some Fairy Meat. For figures, I had bought three sets of the Disney Fairies from the Disney store and had left one set unchanged, painted one set alternate colors, and painted the third set in Dark colors (like wannabe Goth Fairies).
For counters, I had bought a bunch (bunches?) of plastic grapes from the dollar store. Green for live, purple/red for meat, and yellow for twinkle. I also picked up some little plastic holders which ended up being too small but work well in holding the live and meat counters when the fairies die.
We only played the intro rule with the intro fairies from the main rulebook (live 3, meat 3, twinkle 1).

Even with the large fairies, we kept the distances the same and they seemed to work out very well. In fact, in the artwork in the book, you could now use Smurf as other figures (gnomes or goblins) and they would match well.

The first game was pretty slow as we worked out the logistics, but the second game was quite fun. We'll probably have to give this another go with the full regular rules.

Monday, September 24, 2007

home again, home again

Just a quick update. I popped in to work to send out the email for the work Survivor pool. I had cleaned down my wallet for the trip and had forgotten to put back in my security ID so I had to get a visitor tag.

We're back from the states - since we had already booked the week off for the Valleycon that was moved, we decided to still go down for the weekend. As holidays go, it was pretty relaxing. The vehicle handled well, and we had no trouble with it.
Crossing back over the border was as easy as it usually was. We came back earlier on Sunday afternoon so the lines weren't anywhere as bad as they were last year.

More and more of our stores are closed. On Friday we did a day trip to Albertville and Bloomington. The KB Toys outlet used to be a fantastic place to shop. I had picked up a trunk of Star Wars models for $1 - $5 back in the day. This time, we hardly found anything worthwhile.

The Mall of America was a bust as well. We still managed to spend a lot there, but more of our stores are on the missing side. Suncoast and Magic Max join Scientific Revolutions, the Bone Store, Techno Comix, KB Toys, Gamekeeper and the other stores that used to make the drive worthwhile.

With Suncoast and the Media Play out, I was unable to find any of the Master Replica's Pirates of the Caribbean things I was looking for. I did finally find some foam cutters at the Hobby Lobby. That was something that I've been trying to find again since I passed on them at GenCon close to a decade ago.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

at par

The Canadian dollar is at $0.986 US today. Hey, 98.6, it’s good to have you back again.
I remember, as a child, the dollar used to be close to the US dollar. We would often seen ‘at par’ signs in Fargo and Grand Forks when on holidays. Comics used to be 25 cents, 30 cents, even ‘still only 35 cents’ and it didn’t matter which side of the border you were on.

Later, the dollar slipped, and comics would have two prices, a US price and, in tiny print, a higher Canadian one. In my early trips to Gencon, the dollar was firmly fixed in the .60s and you had to really work out whether it really was a good deal, especially since the weekend limit was only $50. It was like having metric money – with $1 US being worth $1.6 Canadian.

Last year, with the dollar in the upper .80s, the wife was buying books in the US on holidays as it was cheaper paying the regular US price than paying the higher Canadian price at home. This year, at almost par, the math becomes very easy on looking at the deals and with the limit raised to $200, it becomes dangerous.

I remember the last trip back from Gencon, and we were close to the limit, depending on how the dollar had done over the week. We pulled up to the border and the Custom’s officer asked us, “Just the four of you?”
It took me a second to realize that the kids also counted towards our limit. “Yes, yes indeed.”

A happy TLAP day to all of you scurvy dogs out there.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fly like the Windstar

So, it’s become that time again. We need to buy a newer vehicle. We have two vehicles right now – a Ford Crown Victoria and a Mercury Grand Marquis. The Crown Vic has been out of service for a while now – some problem with the electrical system. The Grand Marquis is fading fast. Both are well over ten years old, we got them as hand-me-downs from our respective parents when our Taurus wagon passed on about five years ago.
My wife and I hate shopping for vehicles. I’m over 6 feet tall and she is just over 5 feet tall. Finding a vehicle that fits us both well can be a bit of a challenge. In looking around, my dad was trying to get us to pick up a Montana but, sitting in it, I couldn’t even see out of the window because the roof was too low.

We were impressed with the trunk space of the Taurus sedan but a 2000 Ford Windstar caught our eye. It was less than a decade old and the price was in our range. We test drove it and it handled well. We both fit in and it was decided that we would buy it.

Then the dance begins.

We finally settled on a price that was amenable to us and included some minor repairs – squeaky windows, stone chips, rust on the rocker panels. Then we had to talk to the guy to see if we wanted to add the extras. We definitely wanted undercoating and fabric protection and were intrigued by the ‘magic box’ that prevents rust. The science behind the rust inhibitor module is sound, whether it works in practice will be something about which we’ll have to let you know.
So, $1000 later, we’re getting the full package and they tell us to come and pick it last Friday.

We go to get it, and the rocker panels haven’t been done. The back windows still squeak. I test the fabric guard and the water does bead minimally, but mostly just soaks into the fabric – like someone did a halfhearted spray with a can of scotchgard. So they promise to get it done for this week, Monday or Tuesday. Both of which have now passed and we still don’t have the vehicle yet.

Birchwood Super Centre, the used car division of Birchwood Saturn, so far you haven’t impressed us.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Wincon 2007 - post game

All in all, Wincon seemed to go okay this year. We didn’t get badges done, and ended up not running Fairy Meat, but everything else that had been scheduled ran. We did have people bring in extra, uninvited guests beyond the extra guests they had already brought. We had 18 people (including 3 extra guests I knew about) plus kids plus a further 3 tag-alongs that I didn’t know were coming. I had been trying to keep the numbers low due to the limited number of games scheduled. There was also a mix up with the pizza we ordered resulting in them getting the order wrong twice before we were able to clear it up.

The Canvas Eagles went over well. We had 6 people playing – no one had read the rules beforehand. They were a bit front end heavy but once we started it went pretty easily. The planes and the stands worked out very well. We’ll definitely be playing this one again and I’ll keep an eye out for planes while in the states. We didn’t start until a bit later so we ran a bit long. I took a few photos so we’ll see how they turn out.

We didn’t upsize RoboRally after all but had the regular version played.

The RaceDay was as brutal as it usually is. We ran the basic rules on the expanded map and one car won through attrition about a round before the lead car would have finished their fifth lap. The next time we’ll probably try the expanded rules.

We skipped the Fairy Meat during the supper period. I had gotten picked up three sets of the Disney Fairies and repainted two of them, one in alternate colors and one as Goths. I also picked up plastic grapes for the counters: green for live, red for meat, and yellow for twinkle. It looks quite nice – we’ll be playing this soon.

We finished the scheduled events with a Circus Imperium game. I had finally painted my decade-old “temporary” beasts that I had made out of hacked-up plastic goats. The cardboard chariots are still holding up okay considering the use they have gotten. I will need to rebase and paint the drivers at some point.

Unscheduled games, we also had Scrabble, Descent, and both Settlers of Catan and the two player Setters of Catan played, as well as some Apples to Apples that we played at the end of the night.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Wincon 2007 - pregame

I stayed up early this morning working away, getting ready for tomorrow. I didn’t have time to upsize the RoboRally after all – which is okay, as I don’t really have the space to keep it anyways.
I did finish making enough planes to use but didn’t get to paint them all. I still have a few fairies to paint as well. And after about 10 years, I am finally giving my temporary Circus Imperium beasties a coat of paint.

I’m not doing badges this year. I had 11 people actually let me know that they were coming and only 2 badge requests. I did have three of those people invite along another 6 extra people. So we may end up having more people than games. We’ll see how it ends up.


death of a Princess

Yesterday the news mentioned that it was the tenth anniversary of Princess Diana’s tragic death. I remember the day she died. I had been at home when the news came over the TV - I had called the wife at work to break the news. We were freshly married at the time – still not quite a year.
I had watched part of the wedding back when – big into the pomp and circumstance thing. It was a real fairy tale wedding for me. Too bad about the way it all ended up. I always thought she was a sweet bird.

Monday, August 27, 2007


We were at my cousin’s wedding out past Gimli on Saturday. It went well and the kids had fun. The wedding was at 1 and the dinner wasn’t until 6:30 so we were going to pop over to Gimli to kill some time betwixt. We found out that they had planned family photos and my mom brought some social food so we ended up going to my uncle’s place in between and then popped into a craft place in Arborg that was having a sale.

The hall in Riverton was lovely and the food was really quite good. There were no bad speeches and they gave out matches and candles. I could see the gleam in my son’s eye as he was almost lighting the little candle from the centerpiece candle.

My daughter was dancing the whole night and I got to expose both kids to the Butterfly – this is a dance when three people link up and dance along slowly and occasionally break into a flurry where the two people on the wings take turns spinning the center person between them. I learned early on as a child to be sure to be on the wing and not in the center.

Sunday, we spent a great deal of time raking up the crabapples and then mowing the lawn. Then we did groceries and I popped over to my folks to see if they needed help moving furniture as they are redoing their kitchen floor but my brother had already finished by the time I got there.
Tonight we’re going to pop out to a few places to look for a newer car.

I got a few small packages from ebay last week – a few more Heroclix figs from some of the older sets. I painted some more fairies and worked on the planes. I drilled the bases to hold the magentic pickups and worked on the smoke and flame trails.

Monday, August 20, 2007

summer chores - done!

This weekend my brother came over and helped me change the front fascia on the roof. It was in a bit of rough shape. We’ve been putting off a few repairs as we hope to be able to expand the house in the next few years and this will necessitate getting a new roof.

Since I had to get paint anyways, for the fascia, I picked enough to paint the trim as well. That’s the last two summer chores I had left on my list. I still need to finish the trim and touch up the fence, but I’m backdating that until after Wincon.

I’m at that crux point for Wincon. Time-wise, I’m in a good spot for the games. I like to do something big and impressive each year. This year we have a lot of little improvements that are pretty impressive but no real accessible show-stopper. The Canvas Eagles will be pretty impressive but it’s a bit over the curve for some and the Fairy Meat will be impressive but not as visual as I would like. The live action Devil Bunny Needs a Ham would be a show-stopper, but we’ve already done it before years ago.
I had hoped to upsize RoboRally but may not be able to do so in the time left. I’m still borderline about attempting it. It would eat up more of my time and make a few more late nights, but it would certainly be worth it. To me anyways.

Friday, August 17, 2007

a Gencon too far

This is Gencon weekend. It started yesterday and, in a perfect world, I would be there. Gencon is a huge game convention that used to take over MECCA in downtown Milwaukee. Yearly we would make our annual pilgrimage to MECCA to see what were the new games coming out, meet the game designers, be able to purchase the new games or even find some obscure copies of old games, and most of all to game.

A few years back, Gencon moved out to Indianapolis and we had a second child. These two factors combined to make it unfeasible for us to make it down anymore. Now that the kids are getting older, we have hopes to make it down again sometime – while there is still a hobby for it.

I highly recommend it to anyone who’s into gaming. Even for those who aren’t into gaming, it’s still a blast. The dealer’s room used to be a thing of beauty. There were celebrities to meet and from which to get autographs. And the gaming was something else.

One day, we shall be together again. Until then, I’ll bury myself in getting everything ready for Wincon 2007.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Galactus denied

The Coming of Galactus final was last night. I had the bye so I was able to skip the first round. I was torn between playing the Terrax or the Stardust. I got a nice pull – just nothing that really helped either one. I could either play a Terrax and Giant Man team or Stardust, Living Laser, Moon Knight team. I ended up going with the hard to hit, 19 defense, Stardust/LL team.

Apparently not quite hard enough to hit. I ended up losing my next two games. No Big G for me but I did get one of the maps to add to my collection. I was also able to do a bit of trading and now am only missing 10 regular figures and 8 super rares from the Avengers set. It was a fun event and a good group to play with.

I’m looking forward to the Slaves of Starro event coming at the end of September.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Godzilla vs MST

Two weeks ago we saw Sunshine. As a hard science fiction film is was pretty good. Avoid the actual website though if you don’t want to know who dies. There was a bit of a logic jump near the last third that didn’t click for me and made the endgame pretty odd. But in discussing it afterwards I worked it out so it’s all good then.

Last week we saw the Bourne Ultimatum. It was a fun spy action film. The only downsides were some of the jerky camera work and a throwaway line. There is a static scene with two people talking and the camera is twitching and jerking around as if the cameraman is hyped up on espressos.

I mention these as I’ve finally seen one of the Mystery Science Theatre programs. We saw Godzilla vs Megalon. I had seen this in my youth at the Hyland theatre. I remember it as being much better. Or at least less bad. It was very bad. The MST crew really helped watching this one.
I remember seeing a few Godzilla films at the Hyland. Godzilla vs the Smog Monster for sure. We used to sit in the front row right over on the left side and look way up at the creatures. Good memories.

Friday, August 10, 2007

quick weekly update

Another great pull at the Heroclix tourney on Wednesday. I got two super rares – the Colonel and the Hulk. I was going to play Terrax again but couldn’t pass up a chance to play the Hulk. I lost the first round so I switched to Terrax and the Scarlet Witch for the next two rounds to get a feel for how he plays for the final. I won my second game (against Perry) but finally lost in the third game to a Silver Surfer, Scarlet Witch, and 2 pogs. Nasty Jimmy Woo caused a solid 3 points to Terrax. I ended up getting stuck on a frenzy click vs the Surfer’s hypersonic and couldn’t recover.
I might still play him on the final. It all depends on my draw that day.

I had picked up some nice bases for the planes for Canvas Eagles. I hope to have at least 6 to 8 done for Sept. People could always try some print out more on their own from this site:
He has an Albatros model in 1:72, the Fokker Dr1 and D7 need to be scaled down. Someone with more photoshop skills than I can mod the ships before printing.

I read the Deadly Hallows over the long weekend. It tied up a bunch of story lines. Per my previous rant – 2 semi-major characters die, and a lot of minor characters don’t make it as well.


Friday, August 3, 2007

WOTC cancels Dragon and Dungeon

Two notes at the start: First, these are the two magazines, Dragon and Dungeon not the actual role-playing game itself (or even the miniature game).
Second, for some this is old news already – as it was originally announced back on April 19 -

Talk about a real blow to the stomach. Now, let me be up front and say that while I did read these both back in the day – Dragon from about issue 50 and Dungeon from its inception, I haven’t really bought either in about 100 issues. That’s close to a decade. I have picked up the occasional Dragon magazine here and there and have peeked at them in Walmart but haven’t really subscribed since back when.

Even more painful is the fact that the only reason I found out was in searching the web for info about the old D&D cartoon ads that ran back in late 70s/early 80s. I had been thinking about when I had make the change from standard board games (Monopoly, Scrabble, Risk) to RPGs and wargames. I know I had bought the second edition Dungeons & Dragons set at Eatons while in elementary – based on the ads in the backs of comic books. I’m trying to recall if that was before or after getting Attack on Moscow or Attack of the Mutants from comic ads as well. Hence my search for the ads – whether the art was Jeff Dee, Erol Otis, or Bill Willingham but I am leaning towards Jeff Dee.

The last issues will be Dragon 359 and Dungeon 150. I’ll be keeping an eye out for them. Hopefully they will rerelease the collections on CD again. They had released issues 1-250 in PDF on CD but, having most of those issues, I had failed to pick it up then. I wouldn't make that mistake again.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

the God of War

I played another round of the Coming of Galactus last night. I was all set to sub in the Terrax figure from the previous set – until I opened my boosters. I got both the Living Laser and Ares. LL is reputedly a beast in this format and, not only is Ares one of the super-rares, Ares is a monster. He’s an army unto himself – but at 275 points (in a 300 point battle) he would have to be.

It was a bit of a number crunch, but I decided to go with the Ares, a pog, and the Inferno card. I easily won the first game. I won the second game through some good maneuvering and lucky rolls. The last game was down to the bitter end. It started with Ares and pog in the Xavier’s mansion ruins against Gargoyle, Giant-Man, and Iron Man. It ended up being Iron Man and Ares slugging it out and I finally defeated him on my last click. I had lost the pog in all three battles – but he had only been there for zone control and as a distraction.

When the numbers came in, there was one other person with threes wins, but I easily won on points due to keeping Ares alive. That means that I will get a bye in the final battle for Galactus and a better shot at actually pulling off a win. It’s good to see that I’m picking this back up pretty quickly. Since the big guy goes for over $200 on ebay, this would be the only way for me to get one. Well, there is always a 1 in 500 chance of pulling a ticket for one in a booster but, even with 20+ people at the final, that’s still about a 1 in 12 chance for me.

Here’s hoping.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


We had started watching 24 on Friday night – but only managed to get through 5 hours on the weekend due to the barbeques – both good, but they really cut into our viewing time. So we should be finished after the long weekend instead.

We did find out that Valleycon has quietly moved their convention from Sept 21-23 to Oct 27 – 28. While this does give me an entire extra month to finish the costumes for the kids, it does kind of mess up the holidays that I already had to book back in April. Plus, the weekend it is now on will conflict with the Manitoba Comicon. So we’re a bit torn.
Links: - which might have William Shatner (Denny Crane!) - which will have David Prowse and Richard Hatch

Even though it’s too hot for much else, I was able to work on a few planes – finishing the paper DVII and assembling the ERTL Spad XII. I also started work on an Airfix Avro 504K. My planes are two Central, two Allies – but they are deeply balanced towards the Central side. Once I finish the Albatros and another Spad and a Nieuport, we should be able to try Canvas Eagles.

Friday, July 27, 2007

the boy who had lived?

So we had picked up a copy of the new Harry Potter book on Monday. Shan read the ending and a few parts and skimmed through it but hasn’t actually read it yet. I won’t get to read it until she does though. She seems to be in no rush to start though, so who knows when I will know.

I can speculate though – I meant to get this up on last Friday – so those who have read the book can smile knowingly. To start, there are rumors of 2 major characters (see other rant about what classifies a “major” character) being killed in this book. This is also rumored to be the final book. Rowling has previously said that she didn’t want anyone else writing her characters.
- Harry dies. It would make a final end to the series and prevent others from writing sequels. I also feel that it would work well with the “in order for one to live, one must die” quote from the last movie. Most had disagreed with me on Friday but I pointed out that he doesn’t have to stay dead.
- Ron or Hermione die. One of them could die but people felt that it would be too cruel to the other character. If they both died though, that would work – but people didn’t like that idea as they felt it would be too cruel to the fans.
- Snape dies. Most people at work, plus Shan, believed that Snape will die protecting Harry. This would redeem him as most of us never really believed the fact that he abandoned Harry in the previous book.
- Voldemort dies. Okay, as the big bad (a phrase from Buffy – means major villain) of the series, he is expected to die. He’s a borderline major character in that he’s mentioned in all the books and he is behind the scenes in a lot of the action. He’s really more of a strong supporting character and an easy cop out as one of the two deaths if he is.
- Hagrid or McGonagall die. Strong secondary characters again. Shan did believe this as valid as it helps to remove Harry’s support before the final battle.

There is also some debate about whether Dumbledore is actually dead. A person who has a phoenix for a pet is playing with heavy foreshadowing. Being alive though makes it harder for Harry to take over as head of the school though - unless Snape lives and gets to take over.

Anyone else dying is either a secondary character at best, and a late add-on disposable red shirt (old Star Trek OS reference for a disposable character) at worst.

I mention it now as we’re off to a barbeque on Sat and discussion may inadvertently come up. Knowing smiles all around, I’m sure.

Since we’re speculating, for those who saw the 1-18-08 trailer before Transformers and were wondering, what the heck? There were a few websites devoted to it already. It looks like a Blair Witch Project meets Godzilla (HSX agrees with us). We’ve been keeping up with the rumors at work and, according to JJ Abrams from Comicon, it’s not Godzilla but sort of his version of that kind of story. Since a lot is on handheld, I don’t expect we’ll really see much more of the monster (or monsters) than feet and silhouettes.
In many ways though, I was really hoping for another Godzilla film. The roar in the trailer certainly sounded like the big G to me.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

sweet, blessed rain

It finally rained - a quick, solid downpour that dropped the humidity immensely. It was much, much better.

The second round of the Coming of Galactus event was yesterday night. I opted not to play the Silver Surfer from the previous week and instead played a theme team since I had three figures with the Avengers keyword – Starfox, Black Panther, and Luke Cage. I easily lost my first game to RagingMadboy, an old player back from when I used to judge, mainly due to the fact that I had no ranged attacks.
I had thought about changing out my team between rounds, but kept with it. I still lost the next two rounds, but both were very close – each with the opponent only left with one figure at the end. I’m getting used to the zones of control and followed my strategies through on both games but lost focus at the endgame. I’m really looking forward to next weeks matches.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

too hot to breathe

We're experiencing a bit of a heat/humidity wave at present. The temperature is hitting highs of 308 Kelvin - and that's before factoring the 62% humidity. (Kelvin = Celsius + 273.15, for those who are still using the archaic Fahrenheit system - you're on your own). We've had overnight lows of 298 K (25 C) - that's a nice summer high not an overnight low. Since we don't yet have central air, we are coping as best we can.
It's actually nice to come to work, where they have the AC cranked down to a balmy 293 K.

We finally saw Live Free or Die Hard. It was a fun explosion romp but no Transformers. It's good to see Mary Elizabeth Winstead getting good notice. We remember her from Wolf Lake - which we have yet to find on DVD. A surprise to me was seeing Kevin Smith in the movie - he is becoming more known lately as an actor instead of a director as his last five projects in HSX have all been for acting.

Here's hoping the rain will actually cut the humidity enough to be able to do things at home again.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Old faces

Played the first round of the Coming of Galactus last night. I won my first game, lost my second, and closely lost my third. I haven't really played Heroclix since Ultimates when I used to Judge, and even back then I didn't play that much. It was a huge turn out - over 20 people - and the judge kept everything running pretty well. I don't hold out much hope for me winning a Galactus against this crowd, but you still get a herald for showing up - and that's worth the 2 boosters cost for me.

I saw a few faces I vaguely remember from back in the day. Not enough to put a name to, especially not their actual name. A few of the board names seemed familiar but I couldn't match the faces to my memory of the faces. I did run into Perry though. I didn't even see him until between the second and third round. He had been out of Heroclix for a while too but had been pulled back in by the Galactus event.

He asked about when we were doing another Wincon. We get asked that from time to time. It brings a smile to my face to know that it was warmly remembered by a few. Someday I'll go back over the tales - of it's inception, it's start, it's run, and it's return.

Until then, stay Cosmic.


Monday, July 16, 2007


Procrastination pays off again. Our neighbours have taken down the fence and replaced it. It took a few weeks, but it crosses another of my chores off my list.

We took the kids to see Surf's Up at CinemaCity - it's a second run theatre where you can see movies for $2 instead of $8. The popcorn is much better as well. The film was fun. I didn't have a lot of hope in it - but it hearkened back to the fun surf films like North Shore.

We are all caught up with our TV viewing. We watch a lot of TV so we normally tape the shows and watch later on the other machine. After a few weeks we usually fall behind until some of the shows start getting cancelled. This season, a lot of our old shows ended and quite a few of the new ones washed out - so, even with catching Hidden Palms and Traveller, we are all caught up.
Except for 24. Since season one, we have been taping the entire season and watching it in a single weekend. Sort of like waiting for the tradeback instead of following the limited series.

We've been reading the tradebacks of Fables by Bill Willingham - who I've like since before Elementals. It's a great updating of the classic characters from the fables dropped into a modern setting. We've been picking them up from the library but will have to get them for our own.

I have a package slip to cash in one the way home today. They tried to deliver it on Sunday when we were out. It should be my Green Lantern Corps Heroclix set but we'll see after work.

Speaking of Heroclix - the Galactus tourney I was supposed to be in on Saturday didn't happen. We drove out there and were told that it would actually be happening on Wednesdays. As a former judge, I'm not sure they can do that, but they are. We'll see how it all plays out.
Not that I'm bitter. Well, not too bitter anyways.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Order of Phoenix

We saw the movie last night. It was okay - certainly no Transformers. It hit most of the points from the book (from what I remember) and it was neat seeing all the actors grow but, theatrically, it didn't grip me as the early ones did. The wife liked it a lot, so it might just be me. It was a lot of ground to cover and did seem to hold together but, to me, the final battle wasn't as much of a spectacle as it could have been.
Plus, the death didn't have much of an effect on me - which was how I reacted to the death in the book when it came out. As I normally react when a "major character" in a series, who isn't one of the main characters and has only come in part way through. They do this in TV all the time - A major character dies! Could it be the new character that was just added this season? Usually, it is.

I finally got my big box of heroclix figs from ebay. I picked up a bunch on sale - mostly from Sinister and Supernova. My Sinister list is now 57+12, my Supernova 26+5, and my Origin is 77+12. I haven't picked up any Avengers yet or even the Freakshow set from Horrorclix.
I did pick up the Legion of Super Heroes starter on sale at Comics America (used to be Styx Comics) as well as the Warhammer General's Companion. I'm reading through the rules now in preparation for the Galactus Tourneys, starting on Saturday. I haven't really played Heroclix in about 3 years, so we'll see how I hold up.

The LSH box set had a blank dial figure - Shrinking Violet. These are Heroclix bases without a figure on them. I always thought they were a cool idea. They have done Ant-Man, Yellow Jacket, Atom, Invisible Woman, and now Shrinking Violet. I recently got the Invisible Woman by mail so I'm still current.


Monday, July 9, 2007

glass display cabinet

I crossed off another summer chore this weekend. I was able to move the large glass display unit from Michelle's garage to Crystal's garage. I had picked it up many years ago when I still had a mail-order games business with the hopes of using it when we opened up a retail store. With that being repeatedly pushed back, we had looked for someone else who had achieved a storefront who might want it. Now it is over at Crystal's for their fall garage sale. If it goes to a good home, I'll be glad.

I also got some more magnetic pickups at Dollarama - for a dollar. They have smaller heads and have longer sections but fewer of them. We'll see which works better. Or if I can move the head over to the other pickups. I forgot to look for alligator clamps though.

I had two post office tags - which I was able to cash in for two packages from ebay. I got an old Yaquinto album game called Adventurer. They had published a bunch of old boardgames/wargames that had always been on my want list. The only I did have was the Attack of the Mutants small pack. That was great fun - I really need to dig it out again.

The other package had the Iona shoe polisher. It actually works still but what I want it for is to make a PKE detectr from Ghostbusters. I'll either modify it or use it for measurements to make some.

I'm still waiting on a big box of Heroclix figures from early June. When it comes in, I'll update my status list.


Thursday, July 5, 2007

More than meets the eye

We saw Transformers in the theatre on Tuesday night. It was phenomenal. I'm not really the big Transformer fan that my wife and child are but still found it wildly fun.

I finished the 1:72 paper Fokker Dr1 - and glued a paperclip inside. I picked up a bunch of magnetic extendable pick-ups at Princess Auto (or, as my daughter calls it, the robot store) for $1.50 each. Canvas Eagles recommends using antennas with alligator clips for stands and either L- hooks or pins on the planes. These pick-ups are much cheaper and can feel the paperclip inside even the plastic planes. I am working on a second plane so we are pretty close to being able to actually try the rules. If I can find someone to play with.


Saturday, June 30, 2007

knights of the air

I was able to pop into Spare Time Hobbies. They were very helpful and have been there for about 3 years. I managed to pick up a Revel SPAD XIII and Nieuport 17c, an ERTL French SPAD XIII, an Airfix SPAD VII, and a Warbirds vacuform Junkers D.1. With the paper Fokker Dr 1, Fokker DVIII, and Albatros I found on the web, we should have enough planes to start. So, I will definitely be able to try out the Canvas Eagles rules - once I build these up and assemble the stands.

I just missed out on a Tamiya 1/48 Panther G at a great price. At least now I know it is the right kit I need for a scratchbuilt Jedi Training Remote. He will see if he can get another one in for me.

Gooch's is able to get a few more of the Revel 1:72s in at a decent price. Spare Time is also checking. I'll see what I can get. I'm busy reading through a pile of WWI aviation books from the library right now.