Monday, June 29, 2009

a busy week for the Grim Reaper

Ed McMahon died on June 23. Some remember him as the host of Star Search or from waiting for him to delivery the Publisher's Clearing House prize, but I remember him as the announcer from the Tonight Show when Johnny Carson was the host and from the Al Yankovich song "Here's Johnny."

Farah Fawcett died June 25. She was one of the original Charlie's Angels, replaced by Cheryl Ladd. She was also famous for her posters - most remember her from her red bathing suit one by I remember my cousin Kevin had the one of her on the bike. She was a babe who also played some pretty serious roles - like the Burning Bed and Saturn-3.

Both will probably be overshadowed by the death of Michael Jackson on June 25.
Say what you want about his plastic surgeries or his penchant for hanging out with monkeys and kids, he also played a major part in the music and entertainment of our youth. People tried to dress like him - with the red leather outfit and the one glove; tried to act like him - from the moonwalk to the crotch grab; and people tried to sing like him.
His impact on the then-fresh vidoes was immense - Bill Jean, Bad, Ebony and Ivory, not to mention Thiller. I've been trying to get a copy on DVD of Thriller - especially with the Making of Special with John Landis. As a Werewolf in London and Vincent Price fan, the Thriller video and song had a big impact on my youth.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer School for gamers?

Sorry for the late notice - but I just heard about this from Steve Jackson Games.

Game Design Concepts
This is going to be an online course covering the process of making a game from idea generation to prototyping to playtesting. The instructor is Ian Schreiber, who wrote Challenges for Game Designers , and has been teaching game design at Ohio University for a couple years.

The course has no registration fees except for the required text, but classes start on Monday, June 29. Go to the site above and send them an email that you are joining in. If you are intruiged, but don't have the time to commit or don't have the required text, then you can follow along with the lectures on the blog.

Having designed a few small games already, it sounds like it should be pretty interesting. Plus, the book looks like a good buy. I'll let you know when it arrives.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jugger quotes

In getting together my notes, I watched the Blood of Heroes again - more with an eye to the game and an ear for quotes. The following are some of the good ones.

The opening scrawl: People no longer remembered the Golden Age of the 20th Century. They didn’t remember the miraculous technology or the cruel wars that followed. They didn’t remember when juggers first played The Game or how it came to be played with a dog skull . . .

When he found out how long they had lasted when Sallow's team had challenged the League team:
Young Gar – 26 stones! That’s all, 26 stones and you received the attention of the League?
Sallow - We were the only ones who ever lasted that long – and two of us were still standing. Was a good game. Played very well.

In the elevator down to the Red City:
Kidda – How deep do we go?
Sallow – Very deep.

Sallow's old league teammate Gonzo warning him not to challenge:
Gonzo – Sallow, you’ve got one eye and two good legs. It’s bad enough up top. But don’t f*ck with the 9 Cities.

and my favorite one; the one that sums up the game:
Gonzo – Lord Vile, I’ve broken juggers in half, smashed their bones, and left the ground behind me wet with their brains. I’ll do anything to win. But I never hurt a soul for any reason but to put a dog skull on a stake, and I never will.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bone - Daddy

In cleaning out older emails, I found this one I had sent to (when they were still active). It explains how we made the Jack Skelington (and how to make similar figures). It never made it on their before they were lost so I'll post it up here.

For the body of Jack - we used pvc pipes - the grey ones are electrical conduit ones - they were cheaper than the water ones. The joints are all pvc fittings. The chest was bulked out with layers of 1' foam and bubble wrapped to soften the edges.

The costume was cut from scrap material and hand sewn. The limbs were covered in black foam pipe wrap and the legs and arms were glued together after the costume was attached.
The head was sculpted in plasticine and a copy was made in paper mache. Blank newspaper was torn into thumb-sized pieces. Instead of fiddling with dipping them into glue and applying them, slightly thinned (with water) white glue was painted on, a few pieces were applied, and more glue was brushed over them. The teeth were more fiddly, so facial tissue was used there. After about three good layers were applied, the head was flipped and paper mache was applied the same way to the back of the head - not quite overlapping. The two halves were gently removed and the plasticine was removed - using a plastic spoon and fingers mostly. Two small squares of foam with holes for the neck were paper mached to the front piece and then the back was paper mached on. Once the two halves were joined by more paper mache the face was painted - primed black then off white.

The hands were wire around a foam palm. The fingers were wrapped in masking tape and the entire was painted - primed black and painted white.

The suit still needs the pinstripes painted on and the spider bow-tie needs to be made. All told he is about 8' tall.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Short for a trooper?

So, even those I had lost my camera, I was able to find some pictures of the kids in their Clone Trooper armor from the Valleycon website.

Friday, June 12, 2009

compost portability

So with the eventual renovations, we will lose our current side yard. I will miss the nice shaded area for the barbeque and the patch of green right out the door. In preparation for this, I moved the composter we had by our side door.
Inside the bottom third of the unit was a nice, dark earth – perfect compost. I used this to put around the base of most of our trees and tossed some in the garden when we turned it. The top third was still in progress so I used it to start the new location.

I’m quite impressed with the amount of composting that occurred. I’m not really on top of keeping it moist or turning it often. I do try to keep a decent mix of ‘green’ (nitrogen based items – fruits, vegetables, etc) and ‘browns’ (leaves, cardboard, ash). That’s one of the things that attracted us to composting – we could be as low-key about it as we wanted and it would still break down eventually.

The new location at the back of the yard will a bit more difficult to add to during the winter so we’ll probably switch to the other one at that time. With the kitchen bucket we got last time we only have to empty it once a week.

(pics to follow)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

one less David

Last week we also lost David Eddings. I did read and enjoy his novels High Hunt (the line “I always pack my .38s” still cracks me up) and the Losers, but I first encountered him through the Belgariad – a fantasy series of 5 novels. I quite enjoyed the series and thought the sequel, the Malloreon – another series of 5 novels, was a familiar visit with old friends. I think the maps were what first drew me to it. I always have a soft spot for a good map. The world was very in-depth and the different races/countries were well thought out. I’m going to have to check to ensure I have the three extra books - Belgarath the Sorcerer, Polgara the Sorceress, and The Riven Codex and read the whole lot again.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Goodbye Grasshopper

It sounds like David Carradine died last week on June 3 at the age of 72. I remember watching him in Kung Fu when I was younger. I recently picked up Season 1. It seems that there were only three seasons made. I will have to track down the other two seasons and watch them through.

I used to bear him a bit of enmity for getting the role of Kwai Chang Caine over Bruce Lee but have since relented. I also remember him in several roles from Circle of Iron – which I recommend. He also starred in Death Race 2000 (a cheesy-but-fun 70s race film), and had a small cameo in the new Death Race film (which is basically Car Wars - the movie - and also fun).

We also have one of his Tai Chi tapes that I still use from time to time.
Too bad. With Kill Bill, his career was on a solid comeback.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The monkeys are calling!

LucasArts is rereleasing Monkey Island in a Special Edition version. This will have both updated graphics and the capability to use the original pixilated version we grew up with. As adventure games go, this was right at the top of my list. I loved the insult swordfighting – a great concept that still holds up.

My son and I are working through the series even now – we’re up to MI3.

Perhaps the best news about this is that it sounds like they have made up with the original designer Ron Gilbert. This sounds like we will get more new Monkey Island content – and maybe even learn the true Secret of Monkey Island.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jugger - The Blood of Heroes

I had seen The Blood of Heroes about two decades ago. I am fairly sure I saw it in the theatre and I know I saw it many times on cable and recently picked it up on DVD for very cheap. It stars Rutger Hauer and Joan Chen. It’s basically Mad Max meets Blood Bowl.

Like most gamers, I thought it would make a neat game. I know Chris MacLaughlin had talked about designing a Blood Bowl team based around a Jugger team – naming his catcher a Kwik, etc. I thought about it again recently and did some searching online.

It seems that there are people playing this as a sport. There is a league in Germany and in Australia.
While it looks like fun, and I’m fairly certain that I could get enough people together to field two teams for a game, I’m not so sure that we could play without too much trouble from the Park Police. We’ll have to keep it on the back burner for now and let it mull.

Further searching seems to come up with a lack of a Jugger board game. So I finally put together rules for one. I had an epiphany moment about the movement and it all came together from there. I had a bit of an issue with the board but sorted that out yesterday.
When I get my notes together, I'll post the rules up here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Get your PHD in Horribleness

I’m not sure – I thought I had mentioned it here before. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog is wicked funny.
It was only on the internet for free for a while, and then was available at many places that aren’t in Canada. It has been out for a bit on Amazon but it has finally come to “actual” stores. We picked it up last night at HMV but it is also at Best Buy and Future Shop and, though I haven’t confirmed it, probably at Walmart.

It’s well worth the money. If you haven’t seen it yet, give it a try. If you have, you don’t need me to convince you. My family was singing the songs all the last half of last year. I'm looking forward to the commentary.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A bit behind

So, with most of the season finished, we're still a bit behind.

We currently have well over 100 hours to catch up with. We're currently about mid-February in viewing. I'm certainly willing to believe that we watch far too many TV programs. Luckily, natural selection has pared back a fair number of these for next year.