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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...