Sunday, March 17, 2019

3 Views of K-7

Jeff asked if the Amazon Portable Photo Studio comes with different backdrop colours; alas it, does not. It's too bad, because K-7 would have looked more at home against a black background. But I guess that's what Photoshop is for...

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Muhammad Ali vs. Kal-El

Thanks to the generous gift of an Amazon gift card, I was able to purchase Amazon's well-regarded portable photo studio. I tested it for the first time today, somewhat carelessly, using my smartphone with no regard for the proper shutter speed, iso, etc. Even so, this action figure homage to Neil Leifer's "Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston" turned out okay. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Ye Olde Yearbook Editor

Here's one of a handful of images of my time as the editor of Leduc Composite High School's yearbook. Could there be a nerdier responsibility? Well, it was fun. And I just noticed the red and black bag behind me, which I used to carry my bags not only for high school, but university.

I recognize Angela Avery beside me, but I'm afraid the name of the other young woman is lost to history. I last ran into Angela sometime in the 1990s; she was a lawyer then, and perhaps remains one today. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


Here's a damaged photo of my Aunt Jean and the Etsell horse, Thopsy. The damage on this photo might be beyond my ability to repair. But it might have made the photo a little more interesting. In the real world, both Aunt Jean and Thopsy were reacting to something on their right, out of frame. In the photograph, it now appears they're alarmed by the blob of off-yellow gunk spreading out toward them. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

USS Equity

In sharp contrast to yesterday's Exemplar, I'm actually pretty happy with how the U.S.S. Equity turned out. The decals are almost where they shoot be, the colours are better than I reasonably manage, and, thanks to a flaw during the 3D printing process, there's even a bit of built-in battle damage on the starboard ventral  dorsal side of the primary hull. I figure the damage control crews had to make some makeshift repairs during combat, resulting in the scar you see here. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Exemplar

Not, sadly, an exemplar of modelling or painting skill. Luckily, these little ships always look far better from a distance. 

Saturday, March 09, 2019

On the Precipice of Disaster

On tonight's exciting adventures of Northern Shield, the villainous Lightning Bug and perfidious Dr. Apocalypse put our heroes, shackled and helpless, at the edge of a boiling pit of lava for "pest disposal." They escaped with seconds to spare - but was it all a ploy? The last -minute salvation seemed a little too easy...

Friday, March 08, 2019

Superman and Krypton

I finally brought Jeff Shyluk's amazing bespoke globe of Krypton to work, setting it up in my cubicle alongside a small Superman statue. The globe looks great, and has already drawn some attention from my colleagues. However, I foolishly shot against the light. When we start getting some sunlight, I'll reposition and shoot from the other direction for a better shot. 

Jeff never fails to create beautiful art, and he takes commissions. Visit Jeff Shyluk's Visual Blog today! 

Here's another look at Krypton and the other bespoke world Jeff crafted, Mongo, now in my brother Sean's possession. Flash! Ahh-aahhh! 

Thursday, March 07, 2019

USS Encke with cargo pods

Here is the USS Encke carrying a pair of cargo pods. I presume the Encke was named for German astronomer Johann Franz Encke. Not at bad legacy. 

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

USS Encke

Many old-school Star Trek fans will remember one of the early in-universe "non-fiction" Star Trek books, the Starfleet Technical Manual by Franz Joseph. Joseph's book included several non-canonical Federation starship designs, the first fans had ever seen that didn't look like the Enterprise. One of those designs was the Ptolemy-class tug, seen here painted by me with decals now firmly in place. This one's called the USS Encke, the name taken straight from the Technical Manual. 

I'm quite happy with how this model turned out. The paint is pretty even, and I managed to position the decals pretty close to where they should be. 

Why does the large cylinder have a different registry number than the main body of the ship? Because this is actually two different ships: the tug, which consists of the main hull (the saucer), the warp nacelles, and the spine extending downward to the cylinder. The cylinder itself is an independent sublight starship, an unnamed passenger liner. This is one of the configurations Joseph illustrates in the Technical Manual; the tug can also carry cargo pods, and I'll post a second version of the Encke to demonstrate tomorrow. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Never the Same Show Twice

I've been rewatching The Office on Netflix for the past few weeks, and even though I've experienced this phenomenon before, I'm startled by how much binge watching changes the experience. Story arcs that took years to evolve as the series originally aired are now over in what feels like, comparatively, the wink of an eye. Jim and Pam's relationship is essentially set by the beginning of season four, and yet there are still several seasons yet to play out. I had once thought the original will-they-or-won't-they narrative extended much later into the show's run, but no. It only felt that way because we had to wait literal years for those events to occur.

This isn't a good or bad thing; I just find it interesting.

Monday, March 04, 2019

Fearless Fed Five

Here at last are my very first fully completed Federation miniatures - the original five metal miniatures from the squadron box that Steve ordered for me I don't know how many years ago, now painted and with decals in place.

You can see a slightly bluish cast to these ships, as I originally tried to emulate the sort of off-green look of the ships on the original show. Alas, my efforts resulted in denim-blue ships, so I painted over them with shades of grey. 

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Excalibur Escorts

Here's my flagship, the U.S.S. Excalibur, with a robot ore freighter and and old Daedalus-class starship. Poor Excalibur is off-kilter because I drilled the hole for her stand incorrectly. 

Friday, March 01, 2019

Enterprise and Exeter

More "e" ships, including "The Big E" herself, the U.S.S. Enterprise. To her right is the Exeter. Once again, we see the difference between the 3D printed model at left and the die-cast metal version at right. You can also see an improvement (such as it is) in my painting skills, as I painted the Exeter quite some time ago and the Enterprise only recently. Actually, it looks like poor Enterprise needs some touching up...but I don't know if I'm brave enough to try now that I've applied her decals. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Eris and Edmonton

Here are two more finished miniature starships for A Call to Arms: Starfleet. On the left we have the U.S.S. Eris, a dreadnought (though not as powerful as the three-nacelled dreadnought), and the U.S.S. Edmonton, an "old light cruiser," as the game calls it. These two ships are from the first small squadron I purchased; they're made of metal and had to be assembled as well as painted. These metal ships are more detailed than the ones I've had 3D printed, so they have more texture, but it's also more difficult to apply decals to some surfaces. 

Why Eris and Edmonton? Well, since this was my (Earl's) first squadron, I chose ship names that all begin with the letter "e." 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

I’m a Hi-Def Hero!

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is my favourite, alongside the original series, of the various Star Trek television shows. So when showrunner Ira Steven Behr and several other members of the cast and crew organized the production of a brand-new documentary about the show, I contributed to their Indigogo campaign right from the beginning. Later, when an opportunity arose to remaster select scenes from the show into high definition for the documentary, I threw some more coin their way - and was rewarded with this nifty DS9 challenge coin and a letter from Behr! 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Two Enigmas

Some time ago, I wrote about the U.S.S. Enigma, a Constitution-class variant capable of cloaking, a tool of the nefarious Section 31. Originally, I had envisioned the black ship you see at right as the ship's standard look; when it cloaked, I was going to swap the black ship for a non-painted, translucent model. This was Steve's suggestion, and while I love it (and could in fact still do it), I really wanted a version of the ship that could masquerade as a legitimate Federation vessel. So here's the U.S.S. Enigma in standard Starfleet livery. I now imagine the black ship as the cloaked version, but since it's not truly invisible (as the translucent model would have implied), maybe this, in-universe, could represent a more or less powerful cloaking device than the standard Romulan model. 

More importantly, I'm getting better at applying these finicky little decals. 

Monday, February 25, 2019


Better than the alternative, I guess. 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Thomas Earl Etsell and the Mystery Machine

Here's another photo of Granddad from 1918. I'm not sure what contraption he's operating, but  it's a farming tool of  some kind. 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Tractor and Pitchfork

Here's a photo from 1918! It's granddad on a tractor. Note the pitchfork leaning against the wheel. 

Friday, February 22, 2019

Thomas Earl Etsell Reads a Book

Here's a badly damaged print of my maternal grandfather reading a book.
Here's my attempt to repair the image - a little clumsy in some spots, but an improvement, I think.

I wish I could make out what Granddad is reading. It looks like the title might be The Prime Minster - 1961, but obviously I'm extrapolating that from the visible text "PRIME," "STER," and "1961" (or perhaps it's "1962"). A search failed to turn up a match. John Diefenbaker was Prime Minister in 1961, but the image on the back cover doesn't really look like him...of course, that could be an author photo. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Marching through Lenore

Here's another scanned photo I can't identify, except to say that it was probably taken in the 1950s, presumably near Lenore, Manitoba. Perhaps this was a Canada Day parade? 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Photo of an Unknown Woman

Here's another image scanned from Mom's first photo album. This one is undated and includes no helpful metadata (that is, no one has written any names, times or places on the back). If you look at the wheels driving the belt, you can see that they're spinning! Cool. Truth be told, though, I don't understand the technology we're looking at. Is that big tub a washing machine? 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Etsell Horse

Here is a photo of one of the Etsell horses, shot sometime in the 1950s.

The Etsell horses were all gone by the time I arrived on the scene, so I had to wait until a junior high horse-riding field trip to learn that I'm allergic to horses, as I seem to be to all things with fur. 

Monday, February 18, 2019

USS Flin Flon

Here's another finished starship for A Call to Arms: Starfleet. This time it's the U.S.S. Flin Flon, NCC-1969. This time around, the decals on the nacelles and dorsal side turned out a bit better than the feature decal on the ventral side of the saucer. As you can see, it's somewhat misaligned, but when I got it into this position I figured I'd better stop or risk ruining the decal. It should look fine on the playing surface anyway. 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Constitution and Eagle

I've finally applied decals to some of my models for A Call to Arms: Starfleet. Here are the Constitution and Eagle. Applying the decals is slow, frustrating work; they're tiny, and the starships have weird angles and obstructions that make it a challenge to get the decals in the right spot. Plus, as I feared, I painted the ships such a dark colour that the black and red decals don't show up very well against certain parts of the hulls. Fortunately, they look okay on the saucers, which is important since this is where the ships are identified. 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Margaret Ferguson

Here's Margaret Furguson (later Margaret Leask), my maternal great-grandmother, circa 1882. The legend at the bottom names the photographer and location (Ontario). Dig that crazy...end table? Whatever it is she's leaning on, I want one. 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Alice Etsell and Mrs Euart

I'm scanning a bunch of Mom's old photos, and this one stood out. According to the back, this is Alice Etsell (a relative on my mother's side) and the mysterious Mrs. Euart. This may have been taken, based on the rough chronology of the album, anytime between the 19-teens and the 1940s. I presume it was shot in Manitoba. I think the cross form in the middle of the photo must be an artifact of the photographic process (judging by the way the horizontal bar overlaps the windows), but I haven't corrected it because it adds some strange, arcane interest. I wonder where this was taken, and what sort of building stands behind the two women. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

My Little Valentine

Back in the summer of 2003, I brought Sylvia to Leduc to meet my parents for the first time. They were pretty pleased with her. Nearly 16 (!) years later, I'm still pretty darn pleased, if not astounded by my good fortune. Happy Valentine's Day, Sylvia! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Wrath of the Titanpointe

If, like me, you're curious about the goings-on at the creepy, windowless 33 Thomas Street, enjoy (?) Project X, a10-minute documentary by Laura Poitras and Henrik Moltke. Don't worry, you're already on an enemies list of one sort or another. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

I Do Declare

The Criterion Collection kindly sent me a new Eraserhead disc to replace their flawed first printing of David Lynch's bizarre film. I find it amusing that Criterion felt it necessary to label the package as "nonporno," though I'm sure more than a few censor-minded folk would love to burn Lynch's creepy ouvre. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Two Toilets and a Little Lady

Some months back, I ordered two 3D-printed shapeshifters disguised as toilets and a 28mm nurse miniature. I modified one shapeshiting (typo, but I'm not fixing it!) toilet, carving off its teeth and tongue to create a normal (if plugged) commode. I painted the other toilet with grotesque poo-boscis extended and diarrhea stains overflowing the bowl. In between this noxious duo stands Nurse Cherry Bubbles, Paladin of O.R.D.E.R., a character based on Susan Shyluk.

One might ask why I went to such lengths. It's because Jeff Shyluk has been working on a Toilet Chase board game for a while, so I thought these trinkets could serve as rough prototypes for game pieces. I mailed him the pieces a few weeks ago, and he sent me this photo at my request, since I forgot to capture them myself. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Granddad and some Ladies

Here's my paternal grandfather with the Kellington sisters (his cousins?) and, we think, their mother, listed only as Mrs. Tom Ralahan. Which doesn't seem to line up at first glance, but I'm tired and I could be missing something...

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Broken Hovercraft

One more for the graveyard of childhood, a Matchbox hovercraft from the 1970s, probably purchased in Thompson, Manitoba. Kind of amazing the stickers are still in place. I don't remember what might have run along the top; you can still see the holes where some kind of plastic detail was once anchored. 

Friday, February 08, 2019

Alexander "Sandy" Leask, 1827-1895

Here is a photo of Alexander "Sandy" Leask, my maternal Great Great Grandfather. Born in Scotland in 1827, he came to Canada with seven brothers and two sisters in 1841. I am guessing Sandy was in his early 30s when this photo was taken, which would date this image sometime in the early 1860s. He looks a bit Lincoln-esque. 

Thursday, February 07, 2019

1896: The Thomas Etsell Family

This is among the oldest photos I've ever scanned. That's my maternal grandfather, Thomas Earl Etsell, on the knee of his namesake father, Thomas Etsell. Standing are Henry and Mary Ellen Etsell; the girls and women in the front row are Pearl, Clara, and Alice (Kellington) Etsell - the elder Thomas' wife? Hopefully Mom will weigh in. 

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Colour Me Blood Red Howitzer

Tonight I'm throwing away some old broken toys, including this die-cast howitzer that I inexplicably painted red with old model paint sometime in my mid-teens. 

I'm torn my my relatively recent and ongoing urge to toss aside the detritus of my life. On the one hand, it's nice to get rid of things that simply take up space without offering any value. On the other hand, it feels like I'm finally acknowledging my mortality. Maybe it's silly to get so riled up over old toys, but at some point this thing (and others like it) brought me joy, and it feels like betraying the me that was to let it go. 

But go it must. 

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Happy Chinese New Year

I must say, these guys were very impressive, especially when they reared back to tower over the crowd. Unfortunately I didn't capture a photo of that. 

Monday, February 04, 2019

Will Pete Hate Nightflyers as much as he Hates Event Horizon?

My friend Pete hates Event Horizon, the 1997 SF/horror hybrid that deeply offended his artistic sensibilities. Ask Pete about his experience with Event Horizon, and he will supply you with a passionate string of invective, which the film richly deserves.

I'm only two episodes in, but Nightflyers, SyFy's adaptation of George R.R. Martin's titular novella, reminds me of nothing so much as Event Horizon writ large, spread over ten hours. Both are set on dimly lit spaceships encountering doom  on their maiden voyage; both are haunted in some way; and there is gore and terror and bickering among the crew.

It's almost certainly unfair to judge Nightflyers after only two episodes, but so far the comparisons are hard to avoid. I wonder how Pete will react.

(Nightflyers was also adapted to film in 1987, but I haven't seen that version of the story.) 

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Have Your Mind Blown by Jelle's Marble Runs

Jelle's Marble Runs is a a YouTube channel featuring amazing marble runs with colour commentary. His "MarbleLympics" series is particularly charming. I'm astounded by the amount of time and energy Jelle has devoted to these runs, up to and including throngs of marble fans in the grandstands.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Blog Housekeeping 2019

As you can see if you're reading this between today and the next time I change the blog theme, The Earliad looks a little different. Aside from refreshing the theme, I've also started a bit of cleanup, removing some dead blog links and updating a few of my sidebars to include fresher content. Sometimes I berate myself for posting a lot of fluff, but I think some small percentage of it is entertaining or educational in some way. One hopes!


Friday, February 01, 2019

Butchered by Bottles

It was the summer of 1992. I was driving a parts truck, delivering auto parts for Norwest Automotive, my first job after graduating from the University of Alberta. Upon returning to the store after dropping off some parts to customers, one of the partsmen warned me to be careful around the big cardboard box we used to store empty soda bottles and cans.

He was a burly fellow with curly black hair, with a laconic manner. Almost lazily, he gestured toward the box of bottles.

"Hey Earl, watch out," he said, and as he spoke he leaned into the box, pointing with an extended middle finger. "There's a broken bottle in here and you don't want to EARRGGHHHH!"

I watched, goggle-eyed, as the partsman impaled his index finger on the sharp tip of a shattered bottleneck. He jerked his hand back and started flailing, spattering blood all over the box of bottles, his own clothing, the walls, and the clipped-out SUNshine Girls that adorned them.

At that moment, Ron, the manager, rounded the corner.

"What the hell is happening?" he cried. "It looks like Freddy's final nightmare in here."

I don't remember if I managed to control my laughter or not. I hope so, but...

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Apollo 11 Trailer

I just heard about this: a new documentary about Apollo 11, created from 70mm footage of the original event. The few shots in the trailer look absolutely spectacular, and I cannot wait to see the entire spectacle. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Dad at 18

Today Dad would have turned 77 years old, had he not died back in November. I still miss him, and I still haven't processed the sudden loss.

Here's Dad at 18, back in 1960. Hope you're soaring, Dad. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Dad and Granddad

Here's a nice shot of Dad and Granddad from 1959. In Dauphin, Manitoba? You can really see the father-son resemblance here. 

Monday, January 28, 2019

Inappropriate Absurd Selfie

Sometime in 2016...

"Look, Sylvia, I'm in the Batcan."
"Why are you taking a picture of yourself in Steve's bathroom?"
"Bat-room, actually."
"...Never mind, I'm sorry I asked. As usual." 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

My Old ATCO Cubicle

Oh, how I miss my cubicle. I hate open office plans, and I always will. So wrongheaded. 

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Pete's Big 5-0

By all rights, Sylvia and I should be over at Mike's place helping celebrate Pete's 50th birthday. Unfortunately, we've been battling a water/electricity problem all day (turns out the two don't mix). But we're there in spirit, and I hope Pete is doing exactly what he's doing in the photo above right now. 

Friday, January 25, 2019

DC Editor for a Day

Let's say, for some insane reason, DC Comics decided to give me editorial control over their line of comic book titles, but only to the extent that I could create a slate of comics based strictly on existing characters.  

Well, I'd create the line that I would want to read, without regard for sales viability. Here's what it would look like, imagining that each title has an incredible creative team: 
Superman Books
Action Comics (anthology led by Superman, just the way it started back in 1938)
DC Comics Presents (Superman team-up stories)
Lana Lang (Lana Lang, on-again off-again girlfriend of Clark Kent, goes on archeological adventures from Qurac to Skartaris to Atlantis) 
Lex Luthor (diabolical tales of Lex Luthor's infamies great and small) 
Lois Lane: Woman of Steel (Lois Lane's adventures as a brave, bold reporter) 
Man of Tomorrow (Superman's adventures with the adult Legion of Super-Heroes)
Man of Steel (Superman's adventures as a radical 
The Private Life of Clark Kent (Clark Kent's day-to-day adventures in journalism, dating, grocery shopping, etc.) 
Supergirl (stories of Kara Zor-El, Superman's cousin) 
Superman (Superman's main title, with his biggest adventures)
Young Clark Kent (Clark Kent's life in Smallville, as his powers were developing; frequently crosses over with Legion of Super-Heroes, below)

Batman Books
Batgirl (the adventures of congresswoman Barbara Gordon, AKA Batgirl, in Washington, DC)
Batman (Batman's main title, two-fisted street crime adventures) 
The Brave and the Bold (Batman team-up stories) 
Legends of the Dark Knight (Batman stories told from the perspective of his villains) 
Detective Comics (anthology led by Batman, just the way it started; detective stories) 

Team Books
Birds of Prey (Batgirl, Black Canary, Huntress, and Hawk and Dove fight street-level crime) 
Blackhawks! (a squad of pilots from around the world fly into danger wherever they can find it!) 
Doom Patrol (DP members from all incarnations of the team gather to fight the weirdest threats ever) 
Freedom Fighters (the heroes of Earth X have freed their world from tyranny, only to be stranded in ours!) 
Gorilla Soldiers (Congorilla, Detective Chimp, Beppo the Super Monkey, Angel and the Ape, and xx versus their arch-rivals the Ultra-Humanite, Gorilla Grodd, Titano the Super-Ape, and Monsieur Mallah and the Brain.)  
The Haunted Tank (ghostly adventures in World War II) 
Justice League of America (DC's greatest heroes team up to face the biggest threats) 
Justice Society of America (the greatest heroes of the 1930s and 40s fight the Nazis and other fascists and mad scientists) 
Legion of Substitute Heroes (good-hearted Legion rejects try to do the right thing despite their shortcomings) 
Legion of Super-Heroes (dozens of super-powered teenagers of the 31st century explore the galaxy and combat interstellar evil)
Secret Society of Super-Villains (super-villains work in secret, hatching sinister conspiracies to rule the world--but can they avoid killing each other?) 
Suicide Squad (super-villains and anti-heroes reluctantly work together under threat of government sanction, performing secret missions so dangerous that not everyone comes back alive)
Suicide Squad Secret Missions (Suicide Squad anthology)  
Tales of the Green Lantern Corps (anthology series about the non-Terran Green Lanterns) 
Titans (generations of sidekicks work together to prove themselves) 

The Other Heroes
Animal Man
The Atoms (scientists Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi explore the microverse) 
Black Canary
Black Lightning
Blue Beetle
Captain Atom
Elongated Man (back to the original concept, the Nick and Nora Charles of the superhero world; lighthearted mysteries of the jet set) 
Fury of Firestorm (Ron Raymond and Martin Stein take back the Firestorm matrix - but they're not happy about it!) 
Flash Legacy (anthology of stories of the fastest men and women alive, from World War II to the far future) 
Green Arrow
Green Lantern
Hawks (the adventures of Katar and Shayera Hol, police officers of Thanagar) 
Red Tornado
Shazam! and the Marvel Family
Swamp Thing
Vixen and Bronze Tiger (solo adventures of the Suicide Squad team-mates) 
Wonder Woman

A pretty solid selection of titles--at least from my selfish perspective. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Stone Faced Bunny

A few years ago, Mom and Dad picked up this stone bunny (along with three baby stone bunnies) at a roadside art stand in British Columbia. I joked that it would make a good weapon to defend oneself against home invaders, with the added bonus that if you bashed a miscreant just the right way, the bunny might wind up with blood on its mouth, like a predator. 

Morbid, yes. And certainly violence should always be the very last resort, used only when imminently threatened with death. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Colors by Beck

Until recently, I only knew Beck through "Loser," which he released in...good heavens, 1993. I really didn't like "Loser," and so I dismissed Beck. I even though perhaps he'd been a one-hit wonder, when I thought of him at all.

A couple of years ago Sean mentioned that he really liked Beck, so I've been more open to his stuff. I quite like the song posted above, Colors, which I find really fun and catchy. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

All the Colours of Flin Flon

Maybe not all the colours. It's the Flin Flon Station Museum! Shot on an overcast day back in 2009. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

In the Green Room

This photo reminds me of nothing so much as the trash compactor scene in Star Wars.