Saturday, February 29, 2020

Creepy Footprint

I just returned from an evening of gaming at Sean's place to find this wet footprint on the ramp leading into the house from the garage. The print looks like it was made by a bare foot, and it's larger than my foot...the main garage door was closed...I'm at something of a loss. I know Sylvia certainly didn't make this footprint, as she doesn't walk in bare feet and her feet are tiny. Did someone manage to get through the main garage door while I was gone and then try to get into the house? Yikes. 

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Fountain

This fountain may be my most ambitious painting project yet. I don't consider it finished. Why is the statue painted? Because my friend Jeff informed me long ago that in ancient times, statues like this were painted quite brightly; we only see them as white today because the paint has long faded. At least, I think that's what Jeff told me; if that's untrue, the blame lies with my faulty memory. 

Still needs shading for better definition, of course, but I'm getting slightly better at attaining full paint coverage without straying "outside the lines" too much. Except for those blue toes on the god's right foot...ah well. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Bounty Board

Here is my freshly-painted bounty board! I used technical pens to scrawl some tiny details onto the papers tacked to the board. I think they'll be pretty effective at this tiny scale. 

I also used the technical pens to add a bit of shadows and weathering to the crates below the bounty board. The next technique I really need to explore is shading. 

Monday, February 24, 2020

Earl’s Brown Period

Here is a lot of brown stuff: pallets, a trough, hides and tanning racks, a rabbit being spit-roasted, a cooking pot, a suit of armor, some wares and shelves, and a couple of wells. It's not all brown, but there's a lot of brown. 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Bad Idea of the Day

Glass floors on double-decker buses. It came to me during the second part of a two-part dream I had last night. In the first, I was part of a Starfleet crew that had been captured and taken aboard a Romulan bird of prey; we managed to overpower the Romulans and set the self-destruct on their ship before beaming back to our own vessel. 

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Grilled Applewood Smoked Cheddar and Parmesan on Sourdough, 2020


I cooked this a few minutes ago, and then I ate it. It was really good! I can cook! I can cook...this. 

Friday, February 21, 2020

Safety Moment

These are not my hands
And these are not my flames
It's plasma flaring and
I am not to blame

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Crates and Barrels

I'd like these to look a bit more weathered, but they're not bad...maybe? 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

There's Something About Mary Tyler Moore

A few weeks ago I picked up The Mary Tyler Moore Show on DVD. The price was right, and the show has a superb reputation on top of my fond memories of the few episodes I saw back in the 1970s in Leaf Rapids.

I've watched the first dozen episodes, and the show holds up; the comedy is organic, character-based, rarely cheap, and the dramatic moments are well-earned. Yes, there's an annoying laugh track, but that's part of the package for TV programming of this era.

For reasons I'm struggling to articulate, however, this show has struck a deeper chord than simply enjoying well-crafted entertainment. From the moment I started watching the pilot episode, which begins with the famous theme song played atop a montage of Mary's move to Minneapolis - her new beginning after a failed engagement - tears sprung to my eyes, despite the hopeful theme of both the music and the narrative. The show is about Mary building a new life for herself in an exciting environment, making new friends, and being free and single at 30. There shouldn't be anything sad about that, and yet as I watch the show I can't help but react strongly to everything that's been lost from that era; not just the surface things, like the fashion, the interior decor, the old analog technology, but also the sense that western civilization was not yet a dystopia. Decaying, perhaps, and ridden with crime, malaise, and poverty, but somehow still alive and vibrant and rich with the promise of better days to come.

This is of course not a true reflection of the show, but my own particular demons at this moment in time. I think I must be looking for escape to a simpler time, even if I know that, objectively, the 1970s was as fraught with existential threats as the 2020s.

I'd feel differently, I think, if the past wasn't sealed off; if we could visit once in a while, like we would another country, just for a month, a week, a day, even. Just to smell the air and rediscover things long forgotten. Maybe then I'd feel like we might just make it after all. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Warriors Three

A rifleman, a barbarian, and a legionnaire went into a computer lab...there is no punchline. The legionnaire isn't quite finished, but I think the rifleman and barbarian look okay. In the background are two retro computer terminals; I spent a little extra time on them to make the display screens look like they might actually be showing some data, at least at table scale. 

These are the last three of five metal 28mm miniatures that came with the special edition of Civilization V. Technically, they are an infantry, a brute, and a swordsman, according to the lexicon of the game. 

Monday, February 17, 2020

Quick Takes: The Intruder

In The Intruder (Roger Corman, 1962), William Shatner delivers a delightfully hateful, coldly calculating, and ultimately unhinged performance as a racist who, with insidious charm and diabolical plots, riles up a southern town against the then-new integration of public schools.

The Intruder is cheaply made but powerful; its low budget and c-list distribution might very well have contributed to its frankness, because lacking in production value the screenplay and direction really had to sell the narrative. And a challenging narrative it is, holding nothing back when it comes to the open vitriol and hatred many whites had (and have) for their black neighbours. Kind old ladies, children, and respected businessmen alike toss around the n-word and hateful stereotypes openly and without provocation, assuming everyone with white skin shares the same views. And in this film, virtually everyone does, with exception of one public school teacher and the wavering newspaper editor and his wife and daughter.

This isn't an easy film to watch, because it doesn't gloss over deep-seated hate, nor is the ending really a happy one. Shatner's character gets run out of town when one of his schemes finally goes a little too far, yes, but with the exceptions noted above, the people of the community are as hateful as they were prior to Shatner's arrival. Its black citizens are no more welcome, especially the vulnerable black children and teens who will have to continue living with the hate and scorn they endure at the newly-integrated public school. 

The Intruder is an overlooked gem I'd never heard of until a few days ago, and while an uncomfortable watch, I think it's an important one. How far have we really come, deep down?

Saturday, February 15, 2020

The Painter’s Progress


Here's some 28mm furniture I painted today. The barrels and table probably look best, but the bookshelves were more ambitious. I'm still having trouble properly applying thin, even coats, and there are still tiny unpainted spots that really bug me. But little by little I'll get better. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

My 2020 Valentine


How lucky I am to share my life with this wondrous person! Happy Valentine's Day, Sylvia. It's too bad we're both too sick to go out for dinner like we planned, but there's always tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Earl and a Garden Gnome

Here's another of the images my cousin David sent over: me with a garden gnome, maybe a day or two before or after yesterday's image. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Summer of '70

Here's a nice discovery - a photo of Mom and Dad and me that I've never seen before, shot in the summer of 1970 in southern Manitoba. My cousin David has been going through some old family photos and thoughtfully sent this along. 

Monday, February 10, 2020

My 2020 Oscar Ballot Results

20 out of 24! That might be my best showing ever. And for the first time in years, I really have very few quibbles about the Academy's choices. (I saw all the Best Picture nominees, nine out of ten of the screenplay nominees, all of the sound and VFX nominees, all of the production design nominees, all of the score nominees, all of the editing nominees, all of the costume design and cinematography nominees, two out of five of the documentary features, and about 75 percent of the acting nominees. I didn't see any of the feature films or the shorts, only one of the international features, and only two of the makeup and hairstyling nominees.)

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Earl's 2020 Oscar Ballot

Here are my best (read: wild) guesses as to which artists go home with Oscars tonight. I'll update after the show is over, which I may or may not watch live. The writing bug has hit today and if my creative juices keep flowing, I don't want to stop them prematurely. 

Saturday, February 08, 2020

The Fall of Seafall

Tonight, after  two  three years to the month of playing, Scott, Sean, Mike, and I completed SeaFall, a so-called "Legacy" game with a board, pieces, characters, and rule set that evolve as you play.  In SeaFall, players take on the role of a provincial leader who competes with other leaders to explore the sea and unlock its secrets and treasures. Players earn points for building colonies, upgrading ships, finding treasures and secrets, trading goods, and accomplishing tasks. Player choices alter the way the map looks and plays, as well as their own characters and ships, and there are several important strategic and tactical decisions to make every turn, and, more widely, over the course of the long arc of the total number of games that it takes to finish the game. 

The game has a number of strengths and weaknesses. Exploring the sea and its islands and uncovering its secrets for uncertain rewards is fun, and provides a sense of progress and accomplishment. You get to customize your ships, colonies, islands, and advisors with names of your own choosing, often to humorous effect. Each game ends with a set of rewards commensurate with the number of points you earn, and those who finish last need not fear, because there's a balance mechanic that gives you a leg up on other players the next time you play. 

On the other hand, it's very hard to switch your overall strategy midway through the campaign, so once you focus on a particular playstyle, you're incentivized to stick with it or fall further and further behind your rivals. We also suspected early on that Scott was going to run away with the win, and that certainly proved to be the case. Congratulations, Scott, Emperor of the Provinces! 

All in all, I'd say it was a rewarding experience, but having completed the game, I can't say I'm tempted to return to it for the post-conclusion play options. Our heroes have earned their rest. 

Friday, February 07, 2020

Dune Thing

Washed ashore, this fine debris
Hard-shelled bounty from the sea
Found by Gilligan, first mate guy
Baked by Mary Ann into coconut cream pie


Wednesday, February 05, 2020

52-48

Fib
Poem
Good fit
For today
Don Trump's acquittal
Gives lie to the lie that lies count

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Wax On, Beard Off

Sometimes I wonder how many times a man would have to wax his facial hair before follicle damage stops it from growing back, freeing him from the tyranny of shaving. If you started at, say, the age of 15, would your facial hair stop growing by 25? 35? Would you eventually get used to the pain of ripping out your beard?

Hmmm. 

Monday, February 03, 2020

Today's Little Frustration

For many months now, I've followed all the tips and tricks I can find to get my Windows 10 computer to recognize my iPhone 7 for long enough to transfer over my movies and sync my music. But noooo, I'll get one or two images across from one folder to another, or midway through a sync, and then the dreaded "lost connection to computer" appears. Man is this frustrating, especially when the recommended solutions do nothing. Yes, I'm running the latest version of Windows and the latest iOS and the latest version of iTunes, yes, I've restarted both the computer and the phone, yes, I've updated the drivers, yes, I've tried on other computers, yes, I'm using an official Apple lightning cable, yes, I've tried more than one official Apple lightning cables...sigh.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Arrow Strikes Home

Arrow has had its ups and downs over its eight-year journey, from the heights of the early seasons to the lows of the middle seasons to its final course corrections in its final years. Arrow's eighth and final season was devoted mostly to serving as the lead-in to the ambitious Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, and that role reinvigorated the show with new storytelling techniques and the highest possible stakes to keep the action and drama taut and exciting. While the final season stumbled with its dreadful penultimate episode, a backdoor pilot to yet another spinoff, the show's finale features all the best elements of the series - its character building and its exploration of what it means to be a good person - combined with a well-earned, bittersweet happy ending for all concerned. It's also chock full of cameos from seasons past, and it all feels very organic and authentic. The final episode also teases what's to come in Arrow's world even though we won't get to see it all onscreen, but those teases, and one in particular, should delight fans of the show and the world it's created.

Plenty of television shows leave their fans with weak finales that make us feel like we wasted years investing our time. Arrow's finale leaves us glad we stuck with the show.