Thursday, March 31, 2022
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
Monday, March 28, 2022
Sunday, March 27, 2022
Saturday, March 26, 2022
Books with Skull
Friday, March 25, 2022
Poker in the Coals
Thursday, March 24, 2022
The Eyes Don't Quite Have It
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
Monday, March 21, 2022
The Magic Handcar, Part I
For many years now, I've indulged a number of pleasant fantasies about strange magical journeys. Sometimes I'm sailing or rafting down an endless river through tropical jungles; sometimes I'm slingshotting from star to star. But most often I'm pumping the walking beam on my magic handcar.
When I bought my first Walkman, I often listened to music late into the night while voyaging through the theatre of my mind. I don't remember the exact song that sparked the creation of the magic handcar, but it hit the radio around the time of Elton John's "I'm Still Standing."
In most versions of the journey, I'm walking along the rails through a heavily wooded forest on a summer afternoon when I come across the abandoned handcar, which leads me to believe that the rail line I'm following must also be abandoned. On a whim, I hop aboard and start pumping the walking beam. There's a long, groaning squeal that sounds like a cry of mixed pain and relief, and after some hesitation, the handcar sluggishly moves forward. Once that inertia is overcome, it takes very little effort on my part to keep the handcar going; indeed, it seems like just a couple of pumps keeps the handcar in motion for dozens of kilometres at a speedy clip, fast enough that I'm afraid to pump much harder. During the time it takes me to experiment with speed and braking, I've already journeyed perhaps a hundred kilometres through a forest that's grown so dense that it's formed a canopy overhead that filters out perhaps three-quarters of the sunlight. Some branches grow so close to the rails that I can easily pluck berries and fruits from the bushes and trees, a harvest so delicious and sweet that I can hardly believe it's real (and of course, it's not - but it is).
As my adventures and explorations continue, I find that the handcar has an endless cache of supplies accessed by a small trapdoor near one corner of the vehicle. Even though the space revealed when you open the door seems to be only a couple of feet square, it seems to have whatever you need: a book, a beverage, socks and underwear, toiletries, binoculars, and so on. Moreover, along the course of the railway there are occasional rest stops where one can find bathrooms, showers, a picnic site, more supplies, and a myriad of other self-service options that seem tied to the particular function of each rest stop.
The long journey is solitary but pleasant, and the rails take me across jungles, deserts, mountains, along coastlines, through ghost towns and mines, and sometimes forwards and backwards through time. I never seem to see anyone, and yet I sense that there are multitudes just beyond my reach.
Sunday, March 20, 2022
Minor Wordle Triumph
Saturday, March 19, 2022
Friday, March 18, 2022
Thursday, March 17, 2022
Here's a companion for yesterday's hooded villain. Looks crude, amateurish. Still trying to apply Jeff's tips, but while the spirit is willing the flesh and eyes are weak. Well. More practice required.
Wednesday, March 16, 2022
The Crimson Murderer
Tuesday, March 15, 2022
Earl's Lumon Business Card
create your own custom Lumon business card--even if the thought of working at Lumon fills you with dread, as it should.
Monday, March 14, 2022
Sunday, March 13, 2022
Civilization? I'll Stay Right Here
Saturday, March 12, 2022
The Creature and the Count
Friday, March 11, 2022
If you're so inclined, you can buy fake eyelashes to enhance your appearance. And yet, as far as I'm aware, you cannot purchase fake ear hair or nose hair. Imagine thick, lustrous noselashes and earlashes sprouting from nasal and aural cartilage! It would be difficult to bat them, though.
Thursday, March 10, 2022
The sun's kiss
Bathes my laptop in golden rays
Beams that obscure this text and all text
For my monitor is covered in dust
And my keyboard is filthy too
In astra, veritas
Where are my wet wipes?
Wednesday, March 09, 2022
Tuesday, March 08, 2022
Monday, March 07, 2022
Here is Flash arch-enemy Captain Boomerang in 28mm scale. My results here are mixed. I like the base and his jacket, but his boots, gloves, scarf and shirt--all the white parts, essentially--look mottled and unnatural to me. I was painting with the lightest coats I possibly could, but the white paints I've found have a bad habit of clumping. Oh, I know what I should have done--thin the paint with water, maybe?
Sunday, March 06, 2022
A Man and his Mules
Saturday, March 05, 2022
Themes & Nanogenres Makes Earl Look Like a Maniac
Friday, March 04, 2022
Left Sylvia's food at the drive-through after paying for it, got high-centred and stuck in the snow just before getting home (some folks came to rescue us after about 20 minutes), and then overcome with nausea and other unpleasant symptoms from a new medication. A less-than-ideal start to the weekend.
Thursday, March 03, 2022
An Engaging Beginning
SPOILERS AHEAD for the season two premiere of Star Trek: Picard
Season two of Star Trek: Picard begins with "The Star Gazer," a surprisingly well-constructed and thematically cohesive premiere. There's a compelling flash-forward teaser that puts the crew in exciting jeopardy, followed by a more thoughtful exploration of Picard's emotional journey as he closes in on being a century old. Laris is back from season one, and very welcome she is as she pushes Picard to explore something other than outer space--his need for love and companionship. But Picard is still Picard, and though sorely tempted, he can't manage to break through his own emotional barriers. But to his credit, he realizes Laris is right--he's missing something, and he seeks the counsel of his old friend Guinan, now tending bar in 10 Forward--a terrestrial 10 Forward, that is, in 25th-century Los Angeles. It's fan service to be sure, but it offers a sensitive and thoughtful conversation about Picard's fears and weaknesses. Both Patrick Stewart and Whoopi Goldberg are great here, and clearly still in control of their characters. And the 10 Forward set is absolutely gorgeous; it's spacious and completely believable as a bar, but with little touches of the future.
Meanwhile, we take a quick tour of the quadrant to check in on the other lead characters: first, Jurati and Soji. Much to my delight, Dr. Jurati's murder of Maddox in season one is addressed, removing a huge plot and worldbuilding oversight from that initial season. Her characterization here is better than last year too; she's a bit more seasoned, a bit more vulnerable, clearly feeling some remorse and a little less sure of herself than in her first appearances. Synthetic being Soji is at peace with herself among her people, and she and Jurati clearly have a friendly relationship, demonstrate efficiently through dialogue and acting choices. Here too, the production design is amazing; the Jurati and Soji's scene takes place on a planet in the Beta Quadrant, and they're having a dinner party in a very luxurious indoor-outdoor patio with a stunning pool feature.
Seven of Nine is out doing her thing, defending far-flung colonists from space pirates, when she runs into Captain Rios, now a Starfleet officer again, and commanding the new USS Stargazer, the namesake of Picard's first command. Characterizations are again on point here, as is the production design; the Stargazer is a thing of beauty inside and out, sporting a modernized version of the four-nacelle design fans will remember from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Picard is on Earth saying goodbye to other cast members from season one: After a nicely-done speech to Starfleet Academy, he sees young Romulan Elnor off on his first starship assignment, while his former adjutant, Raffi Musiker, back in Starfleet's good graces, takes command of the USS Excelsior. It's nice to these characters progress; Elnor, though seen only briefly, is more relaxed and at peace with himself, while Raffi clearly has her mojo back after her troubles in season one. The Starfleet facilities are, again, stunning, a great showcase for Star Trek's utopian vision.
The main plot begins as the Stargazer is sent to investigate that great Star Trek trope, the mysterious space anomaly. Turns out it's broadcasting a plea for help--specifically for Jean-Luc Picard. Picard, of course, interrupts his self-reflections immediately to answer the call of duty, and what follows is not what anyone expected--including me, and it was nice to be taken by surprise. One element of the incident at the anomaly was poorly staged, making Picard look indecisive when clearly the audience wasn't supposed to take it that way; they should have taken one more pass in the editing room for this sequence.
The episode ends with a big bang followed by a compelling denouement that ties back to themes from the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation and sets out the story arc for this season--a story arc that was somewhat outlined in the trailers for this season, but that I now believe (and hope) may be somewhat more interesting than those trailers suggested.
Oh - there's also a great scene of young Picard with his mother, one that reveals a painful family secret that provides critical context for Picard's emotional journey through the series and this season.
All in all, a strong opener for what I hope will be a more consistently good season than we were offered in season one.