Monday, December 26, 2011

The Grue Cafe #5: Top of the Table, Ma!

The Grue Crew is back with an end-of-year-holiday special.  This episode stars Rox of Spazhouse, Kim, Dom and Kevin Pettway, author of the webcomic Heroes of Lesser Earth.  I linked Kevin's site and it can be found under the On Line Comics tab.  I'm particularly interested in reading Kevin's work, because one of the characters is none other than my sister, Rox.

Meanwhile, back here on AfterChristmasSales Earth, the Grue Crew takes on the following issues:  Game Master (GM) techniques, character knowledge vs player knowledge, the pitfalls of on-line gaming and recommendations for newly released and upcoming games.  One clear favorite among the pack, at least with Kim, is Skyrim.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wisdom of the (New) Ages

Geek culture continues to infuse itself into mainstream consciousness.  Now, sci-fi and fantasy stories can be viewed as a source for inspiration and other life lessons.

Of course, most of us geeks knew this all along...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

How to Be a Better Blogger

This is my blog.  Yup, one of many among the cacophony of internet noise. So, can I, or any other blogger, improve their presence in the ether?

Ann R. Allen, author of the Camilla Randall mystery series, has 20 steps to starting an effective blog.

Many writers jump on the blogo-wagon, but don't really have any interest in blogging.  This, according to Jane Friedman, the former publisher of Writer's Digest, is a critical mistake.  What non-blogging writers need is a static web page.  A professional one can be expensive and may yield minimal returns.  So Miss Friedman came up with an idea on how to constuct a freebie website using WordPress.

I've had a WordPress account for several years.  While WordPress has the larger slice of the blogosphere pie, I find Blogger to be easier to use and appears to be popular among gamers.  But I took Miss Friedman's advice and created my internet portal which links all my blogs.  As I become more tech-savvy, I'll make improvements on all my sites.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sci-Fi Technicals

Last year, I constructed several "Dust Devil" reconnaissance craft I downloaded from Paper Make It! 

However, none of my vehicles are armed, because prior to assembly, the weapons look like this...

...which is just a bit too complicated for my meager skills.  So my collection languished, weaponless for several months.

Later, my friend Daryl gave me and my gaming group his ENTIRE Star Wars Miniatures collection.  After the joyous feeding frenzy, all that remained were several Snowtroopers manning e-web blasters (Collector's # 17/17 Imperial 18), that no one wanted. 

After talking with my friend Dan about saving every spare piece from models and miniatures, I came up with a "cunning plan."  I bought a package of NW-215 washers.

Then I removed the e-web blasters from the snowtrooper figures.  If they were generic stormtroopers, I would have been very reluctant to do this, but the snowtroopers are too unique to Hoth-like environments.

I sprayed the washers with black primer, then dull black paint to match the weapons. 

Finally, I glued the blasters to the washers using superglue gel.  I prefer using the gel, because it doesn't run--usually on to my fingers--like the regular stuff.

And presto!  I can now field armed vehicles.  None of the weapons are permenantly mounted on any of my paper models.  The washer's weight keeps the blaster in place, as long as the vehicles aren't flung around the game table.

This gives my collection some versatility, where players can encounter military or civilian vehicles, depending on the scenario.  Nor are these heavy weapons limited to my Dust Devils.  I have several open-topped vehicles, like this Floater Truck I downloaded from Ebbles Miniatures.

Unfortunately, Christopher Roe is no longer producing his fine line of paper models.  Some of his work though, is still available on World Works Games.

As long as there's a big enough surface, I can plop down one of my blaster cannons to convert a sci-fi pick-up truck into a futuristic technical.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Program Review: The Clone Wars, Seasons 1 & 2

Last week I just picked up the DVD set to Star Wars:  The Clone Wars, Season 3.  While Season 4 started back in September, I'm just now finishing-up Season 2.  Due to my active life-style and rotating work schedule, I don't watch much television.  Even when a show has been on the air for a few years, as the The Clone Wars has been, it may take a while for me to get around to viewing it.

I managed to catch a few episodes at a friends house, which spurred me on to buy the DVD sets.  I could say the shows are better than the movie prequels--but that would be setting the bar too low.  Based on their own merit, the shows are decently written and are entertaining.  The show even explores the lives of the clones, some of whom fall in love, desert and betray their comrades. 

What I really like is each episode runs under 30 minutes in length.  This is a perfect amount of time for me to watch a complete show, without having to set my DVD player on pause, before I turn in for the night. 

For as long as the Star Wars franchise has been around though, The Clone Wars still suffers from a few defects.  While the animation and special effects are superb, the small unit tactics employed by the droids and clones are often absurd.  Both sides march against each other, with blasters blazing, in close-order formations, as if they were Greek hoplites facing the Persian horde.  On a personal level, Padme and Anakin's love story is still awkward, clunky and grates on my nerves at a fingernails-on-the-chalkboard level.  I find the relationship between Obi-Wan and Satine, the Duchess of Mandalore to be far more interesting and feels more natural.  (Spoiler alert:  Obi Wan considered leaving the Jedi Order for Satine?  Who knew?).

Overall, The Clone Wars is a good investment of my sparse free-time and I give the series a 4-star rating.