Saturday, April 30, 2022

The Master Detective

What ho! Something's afoot in the drawing room, eh what? A knife in the back and yet all doors and windows locked tight from the inside before we arrived. A perplexing pickle indeed! 
 

Friday, April 29, 2022

Green McRoth Steamobile

This is my second McRoth Steamobile. I painted the first in shades of purple; this one, as you can see, in shades of green, with gold accents. 

I wasn't quite as successful in applying natural-looking highlights as I had hoped. It's not just about applying the paint, it's about understanding how light works and where highlights would appear. 
Even so, I judge this one of my better recent efforts. 


Thursday, April 28, 2022

Oregon Trail Mixup

Woe is me
I've posted again
AI artwork that's the same
A post repeat I much regret
Causing me to fume and fret

Thanks be to Jeff
Faithful reader
Who spots it when my effort's meagre

What can I do but
Add a poem
Edit title
Nourishing loam? 

Woe is me
A repeat post
Overstaying its welcome
Unfriendly ghost



 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Monday, April 25, 2022

Oyoubyourys

I made this simple map of a fantasy planet with a browser tool called Inkarnate. Even using the limited tools available with the free version, you can generate a pleasing map for display or your favourite roleplaying game. Pretty nifty. 
 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Another New Dream Job

When awareness comes, I'm sitting in a four-person cubicle, one person intended for each quarter. But there are only two other people here, two young women, one blonde, one brunette; the other quarter of the desk has no chair or equipment; it's given over to storage. 

I'm wearing a suit, and I have a typewriter. There's a sheet in it, but it's blank. 

I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. The two women pay no attention to me; they're focused entirely on their own work. 

Bewildered, I rise. Our cubicle is but one in a sea of them, a sea that covers the expansive floor space entirely save for one walled office in a far corner. I make my way there through the narrow passages between the cubicles, certain that the office must have a supervisor. 

The door is open. I rap gently on the doorframe, and a dark-haired woman in her mid-forties turns away from her conversation and looks at me blankly. 

"Earl? What's up?" 

"When you have a minute, can I talk to you?" I ask. 

"Sure," she says, and goes back to her business. 

On my way back to my cubicle, I take a closer look at my surroundings. Everyone is working on typewriters and using notepads. There are no computers, no monitors, no smartphones. I spot a Telex machine nestled into the corner opposite the office. 

My heart starts to pound. Something's wrong here. 

The dark-haired woman comes to collect me before I even reach my cubicle. "Let's go take care of that pitch meeting with the executive producer," she says. 

She escorts me to an office I hadn't noticed before and shuts the door behind us. A grey-haired executive is leaning back in an expensive-looking wood and leather chair, feet propped up on an even more expensive-looking desk. The office is crammed full of books and magazines, with old movie posters on the wall. 

"Who've you got for me today, Amanda?" the executive asks. 

"This is Earl Woods. He has some ideas for the Star Trek movie that's been stalling us for so long." 

I do? I think. 

"Great, let's hear them. Can't be any worse than some of the other pitches." 

It takes me a moment to collect my thoughts. Given the setting, I realize they must be talking about the first Star Trek movie to debut after the original show. 

I reply with a bit of a stammer at first, but I find my footing quickly enough. "Let's say it's five years after the Enterprise has returned from its five-year mission. Captain Kirk is an admiral now, and Spock is the captain of the Enterprise. We have a bigger budget for effects than they did in the original show, so we can establish that the Enterprise has been refit - she's completely new, with the same basic shape, but she's sleeker, faster, more powerful." 

I feel bad about stealing so much from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but it's all I can think of at the moment. But maybe I can get creative from this point. 

"There's a new first officer, Will Decker - the son of Commodore Decker from 'The Doomsday Machine.' You remember him. Spock is thinking of leaving Starfleet, and he intends to recommend Decker to command the Enterprise when the time comes. 

"But there's a signal from a deep-space communications station. Their extreme-range scans have picked up evidence of a megastructure long imagined but never seen: a ringworld, a vast living space built in the habitable zone of a star, with a total surface area of millions of Class M planets. It's an incredible scientific discovery, and only the refit Enterprise has the advanced labs and sensors to do justice to an exploration mission. 

"The Federation wants diplomatic and high-ranking Starfleet representation on this mission in case the ringworld is inhabited. Admiral Kirk ensures he's the Starfleet officer that gets to go, and as ambassador the Federation sends Ilia, an empathic Deltan gifted in the diplomatic arts. 

"The journey to the ringworld will take months, even at warp speed, but we'll just cover the most important events: building our new characters, reintroducing our original characters, and showing the Enterprise crew preparing for the scientific and diplomatic aspects of the mission.

"When the Enterprise finally reaches the ringworld, it's important that we show the mind-boggling scale of the construct. The Enterprise is but a gnat compared to the ringworld; close up, it will look like a vast, flat wall in space. The ring's curvature can only be perceived with enough distance. 

"The science teams perform sensor scans as the Enterprise approaches this strange new world. But not long after the crew catches their first glimpse of the star-facing side of the ring--revealing vast seas, forests, cities, farmlands, mountain ranges, jungles--world after world after world, laid out flat on a giant ring--it happens.

"While Admiral Kirk, Ambassador Ilia, and the senior staff are discussing first contact protocols, Mr. Spock, Lieutenant Commander Uhura, Lieutenant Chekov, and Commander Scott vanish from existence. 

"Admiral Kirk immediately takes command of the ship, much to the consternation of Commander Decker, who really should be next in line. Kirk says his experience on the five-year mission trumps Decker's greater familiarity with the Enterprise refit. 

"Admiral Kirk hails the ringworld, but no one answers. Kirk orders all shuttles launched to perform sensor scans of different sections of the ringworld, but with such a massive amount of territory to cover, the effort could take years without the wildest stroke of luck. 

"But on the ringworld, we, the audience, learn that Spock Uhura, Chekov, and Scott find themselves in the arid foothills of a desert mountain range...with no equipment. Atop one mountain is a spire that reaches toward the stars until it disappears, extending out of the atmosphere and into the darkness. With no other obvious clue to what they should do, they set out for the spire on foot..." 

"I like it so far," the executive says. "Spend the weekend with it, finish it up. I have a golf game coming up." 

I'm relieved, because I had no concept of an ending. But I do have more immediate concerns. 

When we leave the executive's office, I ask Amanda to sit down with me in a little lounge area. 

"Have you heard of DVDs or Blu-Rays?" I ask. 

"No," she says. 

"Smart phones?" 

"What's that?" 

"Nine eleven?" 

She shrugs. 

I tell her that I have no memory of being hired, or what my job is. She looks concerned, and said I should get checked out for a concussion or amnesia. 

"It's worse than that," I tell her, almost crying. "This is the part that's going to make me sound crazy. What year is this?" 

"What year? It's 1976," she answers. 

"Oh, god," I groan. "I'm from 2022. I'm not supposed to be here. Oh god, what's happening?" 

Thankfully, I transition back to the other world, the one with Sylvia and COVID-19. 


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Earl's Pizza Commandments

Just minutes ago I was involved in a group text discussion with Sean, Jeff, and Stephen, and there was some disagreement on acceptable pizza toppings. For the record, here's my comprehensive list of toppings I would and would not eat willingly: 

My Favourite Toppings
Cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, feta) 
Tomato sauce
Bolognese sauce
Pepperoni
Ham (including prosciutto)
Salami
Ground beef
Red pepper
Green pepper
Yellow pepper
Onion
Green onion
Shrimp
Pineapple
Fresh tomato
Bacon
Jalapenos 
Various savory herbs and spices


Toppings Good in Certain Combinations
Potato slices
Sour cream
Marinara sauce
Chili peppers
Sundried tomatoes
Spinach
Taco shells

Toppings I'll Choke Down to Be Polite or if I'm Really Starving
Mushrooms (though I will pick them out on the sly if I can do so unseen) 
Chicken
Sausage
Donair meat
Steak (too chewy, plus risk of fat and gristle, eewwww)
Carrot slices (raw only) 

Uncivilized Toppings Fit Only for the Demented
Beets
Yams
Sweet potatoes
Liver
Fish
Black olives
Pickles
Ketchup
Mayo
Relish
Kale
Kimchi
Turnip
Cauliflower
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Green olives


These choices seem reasonable to me, but when it comes to the human palate, tastes may, of course, vary. 

Monday, April 18, 2022

A Pair of Rangers

These figures struck me as Dungeons and Dragons rangers, so I painted them in earth tones, and I think it works. For once I'm even happy with how the faces turned out. 
 

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Meet the Hammersmashes

Here are a pair of dwarves. Sean dubbed the man "Donny Hammersmash," so I dub the woman "Dorothy Hammersmash." They seem made for each other. 
 

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Nash Layfayettes

Here we have a 28mm-scale Nash Lafayette and a Nash Lafayette convertible, each with its own driver. I think the hardtop needs another thin coat of blue, while the convertible looks pretty decent. 

I painted the individual model parts before gluing them together, which really helped me keep the colours where they should go. 





Friday, April 15, 2022

First Baron, Last Baron

Readers of this blog will know that the Burger Baron chain holds a special place in the hearts of many Canadians, among them my brother and me. Behold this poster for The Last Baron, a documentary about the strange history of Burger Baron, for Sean gets a special credit on that very poster for being one of the very first to back the film's production. How amazingly cool is that? I hope this gets released on physical media, because I'll definitely pick it up. 
 

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Paintin' on the Dock of the Bay, Wastin' Time

Here's a small dock. I painted it to appear as though wear and salt from the sea damaged the wooden bits over time. I think I'm happiest with the rope, though; just a couple of thin coats of sunset yellow, followed by a black ink wash. 


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

What's in the Box?

Here are some relatively fancy but well-used cargo containers of the sort used by the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance. What could be in here? Spice? Blasters? Exotic matter? 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Fire Pit

When I'm disappointed with the results of a tough painting project, I tend to retreat to something simpler. In this case, it's this 3D-printed fire pit. I'm quite happy with the textures, which I accomplished with a couple of light coats of medium grey, followed by a black ink wash, followed by an off-white dry brushing. 

I can't take credit for the glowing rocks, as that's done with an LED. 
 

Monday, April 11, 2022

"Sorry," I replied. "Out here, I really don't need a protocol droid." 

"Clearly not, sir," the droid said. "But I'm programmed for over thirty secondary functions..." 

"What I really need is a droid that understands the binary language of moisture vaporators." 

The droid seemed to perk up, even though its metal face was eternally frozen. 

"Vaporators! Why, my first job was programming binary load lifters, very similar to your vaporators in most respects." 

This caught my interest. "Do you speak Bocce?" I asked. 

"Of course I can, sir. It's like a second language for me..." 

"All right, I'm sold. Uh, I need an astromech, too." 

I was about to tell the Jawa salesthing that I wanted the robust-looking R5 unit, but it blew its motivator before I could get the words out. I quickly changed my mind, hoping that the only other alternative was in better shape. Almost as though he was reading my mind, the protocol droid piped up: 

"Excuse me, sir, but that R2 unit is in prime condition. A real bargain." 

"Yeah, sure, I'll take that one," I said with a shrug. 

"I'm sure you'll be very pleased with that one, sir. He really is in first-class condition. I've worked with him before," he said. 

I led the droids over to the garage. "My wife will drop in to say hello soon, I'm sure," I told them. "In the meantime, give yourselves some maintenance and an oil bath. I'll take you out to the sand fields after lunch. 

"You can lead a droid to water, sir, but you can't make him drink! That's a little joke," the protocol droid said. "Because we don't drink water, you see." 

I raised my eyebrows. "I imagine it's funnier in Bocce," I said. 

I met Sylvia in the kitchen. "Any luck?" she asked. 

"I think so," I said. "See what you can make of them." 

She took a swig of blue milk and put the empty glass in the dishwasher. One day we'd farm enough moisture to justify a 'washer that used water, but sandblasting would have to do for at least another season--assuming they stayed that long. 

"You left something for the Lars, I hope?" 

I winced. "To be honest, it was pretty slim pickings. I think we might have gotten the best of the lot." 

"Well, make sure you let Owen and Beru know they can borrow the droids when they need them." 

"Sure, sure," I said, rifling through the cupboard for some bantha flakes. 

"I'm going to go see what our credits bought," she said. "Maybe I'll take them out to see the fields." 

"Shouldn't I do that?" 

"You go talk to the neighbours. You could use the walk." 

Well, that was fair. Generally life on Tatooine kept you pretty thin, but the last couple of harvests had been pretty decent and I'd definitely put on a few pounds thanks to overindulging in blue ice and beskar in a pan. 

When I returned from my visit with the Lars, Sylvia was waiting for me in the courtyard with the droids. 

"This little robot claims he belongs to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Do you think he means old Ben Kenobi?" 

"Oh, man. I hope not. Otherwise I just threw away 250 credits and probably contributed to the sale of stolen goods. Argh, those jawas..."

"Well, we'd better ask him," Sylvia said. 

I wasn't keen on driving into the Jundland wastes, but Sylvia was right--we had an obligation to ask if old Ben had been a victim of droid theft. So we piled into the landspeeder and jetted over to the Kenobi homestead, a modest little place. 

The trip went by without incident, thankfully, but at first Ben denied ever having owned a droid. The R2 unit went mildly apoplectic, rocking back and forth on its stubby legs and whistling and hooting like a thing possessed.

"Artoo insists he has an important message for you from Princess Leia," the protocol droid--C3PO, Sylvia had informed me--translated. This prompted an even more raucous response from the astromech. "Well, you didn't tell me I shouldn't say that in front of Master Earl and Mistress Sylvia!" Threepio protested.  

"It's fine, it's fine," the old man said, waving a hand. "Let's see your message, little one." 

"We don't want to intrude," Sylvia said. "We should be getting back." 

"Sure," I added. "If this isn't your R2 unit, we can come back for it later. Threepio, stay here in case Mr. Kenobi needs your help translating." 

The old man smiled beatifically at us as we took our leave. 

"Princess Leia? Isn't she a senator from Naboo?" Sylvia asked as we pulled away from the Kenobi home. 

"Alderaan," I said. "Who would have thought Ben Kenobi would have connections like that?" 

"Well, it's none of our business. At least it looks like we'll probably get the astromech back," Sylvia said. 

"And then just a couple more seasons until we've saved up enough money to buy a little ship that can take us someplace far, far away from the Empire," I replied. "It'll be a long, hard couple of years, but after that we can finally relax and be free." 

"If the Force is with us," Sylvia said. 

I was an atheist, but I nodded anyway--I wouldn't turn away divine intervention if it could get us out from under the Imperial heel. Maybe we could take old Ben and the Lars and their nephew with us. They were all good people...

Well. Time would tell. 




 

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Keeping in Touch with Your Enemies

I picked up some Star Wars scatter terrain a little while ago, and the package include these three communications stations. As you can see, I painted two white and one black to represent the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire, respectively. These little models are rife with teeny weeny details to which I applied my finest (in terms of teeny-weenyness) brush. 

These look all right, but I think they'd have more realism if I were only brave enough to add some texture or weathering. I'll leave them for now, but maybe I can improve on them when I have more confidence and better ideas. 

Painting these made me sorry we never saw any high-level diplomacy between the leaders of the Empire and the Rebellion. In the real world, even implacable enemies communicate through special channels for a number of reasons, including attempts to de-escalate or set rules of engagement, issuing ultimatums, metaphorically drawing lines in the sand, demanding or offering surrender, setting terms for said surrender, and so on and so forth. I think it would have been neat to see the diplomatic corps of the two factions at work, even just for a scene or two to establish the stakes or the scope of the conflict. 

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

A Dream of Grogu

Dream . . . or nightmare? Talk about taking a long stroll into the uncanny valley. 
 

Monday, April 04, 2022

Sean's Birthday Sleep

This morning, Sean asked for more sleep for his birthday. Here's how wombo.art interpreted that wish. 
 

Battle at the Gates of Silandis

Let's see if I can drive Jeff further into insanity by posting another wombo.art creation. As you can see, I wrote "USS Enterprise vs Klingon D-7," and in response is something that almost maybe looks like it could be a space battle, sort of? 
 

Sunday, April 03, 2022

Peace, Order, and Good Government


This is fun: at wombo.art, you can type up to 100 characters in a prompt, and an AI will generate a painting based on that prompt. The results range from grotesque to uncanny to somewhat pleasing. I don't think human artists have much to worry about yet. 

Friday, April 01, 2022

All of Everywhere and Everything at the Same Time Sometime Soon

 

Michelle Yeoh is a wonderful actress and I love parallel universe stories. But the main reason I'm excited to see this is how quickly it's jumped to the top of Letterboxd user ratings before it's even been released. I hope it's as good as they're claiming!