Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Happy 113th Birthday, Robert E. Howard

Today marks the 113th anniversary of the birth of pulp writer Robert E. Howard. It has become a
tradition on this date for Howard fans to read a favorite story and raise a toast.

Howard wrote something for every interest: sword and sorcery, hard-boiled detectives, weird horror, historical fiction, boxing, westerns, pirates, and poetry.

Two-Gun Bob's fans who are also tabletop gamers are seeing another resurgence of products, with the Conan adventure board game (recommended), and the main rulebook and many sourcebooks for the Conan RPG out now. This month Marvel Comics released the first two issues of their new Conan comic series, with Savage Sword and other new books on the way.

One of the best brief introductions to Howard is the mostly true, somewhat fictionalized film THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD (1996), based on the writings of Novalyne Price Ellis.

For more information on his life and career, start with the following sites:

I highly recommend Mark Finn's Howard biography, the Locus and World Fantasy Award-nominated Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard available as an expanded edition from the REH Foundation.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Update, part 3 -- Board games

Forgot to mention in one of the previous posts -- I'd like to get in more board games this year. I have Monolith's Conan and Everything Epic's Big Trouble in Little China, and of those I've only played Conan once.

I'd also like to play some of the games that friends of mine own, like Rising Sun and the different flavors of Zombicide.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Update and what's next, Part 2

Part 1 is here.

Podcast Idea
Interviews and discussion linking two of my favorite things: games and movies.

Movie-watching Projects
This year, in an effort to keep more data and as reminders to myself, I started tracking each film I watch and creating a separate to-be-watched list. Right now the lists live in a notebook. I keep forgetting to sign up for Letterboxd, where I'll eventually post these for myself. So much good stuff is out there waiting to be seen, and I'm trying my best to carve out more viewing time to fit in as much as possible, especially over the holiday break and the rest of the winter.

With that in mind, a few themes are showing up in the watch lists:

John Carpenter -- Pure Cinema Podcast's fantastic two-part Carpenter retrospective, where they examined all the films and paired each with another film as a double-feature, gave me the idea to try a back-to-back watch of the catalog myself. It's an opportunity to revisit old favorites and discover some of his films that I've haven't seen yet.

Charles Bronson -- Over the last year or so, several Bronson movies have hit Blu-ray, either singles or in affordable multi-packs. A collector's edition Blu-ray of the action/thriller/slasher 10 TO MIDNIGHT is out early next year. All this recent attention has inspired me to take a deep-dive into his catalog of films. Bronson has always been a favorite of mine, but like Carpenter there are many that I missed. I might try watching chronologically if possible, but that might depend on availability. More likely I'll just pick and choose at random.

Spaghetti Westerns -- Like the recent Bronson releases, we've had a couple of good years for Euro-Westerns. The recent Blu-ray of Corbucci's THE GREAT SILENCE, Kino Lorber's releases of Leone films, Arrow's Ringo and Django films, along with their box set of Sartana movies, just to name a few highlights. This year I also picked up Mill Creek's 44-movie DVD box for a cheap sale price. It's an economical way to see many of the popular titles (a good hit/miss ratio) and it was the only way to get Monte Hellman's CHINA 9, LIBERTY 37 on disc. Over the holidays I'd like to dig into this set and The Complete Sartana box.

Cyberpunk movies -- Continuing my research for a cyberpunk RPG by moving down the list of cyberpunk and related near-future sci-fi movies. Next on my Netflix queue is RUNAWAY (1984) with Tom Selleck.


Thanks for reading this far. I hope that this gives some idea on what to expect here at the blog in the new year -- more gaming and movie reviews, more game setting and mechanics ideas -- and an incentive for me to keep it going.

End of the year update and what's next

I'm trying to write a catch-up post, and hardly knowing where to begin. With the death of Google+ being moved up closer, I think longer posts will end up here on the blog more often.

Game Ideas in the Works
I've got two game ideas that have been percolating for quite a while: first, a smaller kaiju-themed RPG code-named "The Kaiju Hack", and the second is a D&D 5e-based cyberpunk game -- my version of Shadowrun. I'll post more notes about those games here. It's time to stop thinking about them, and actually get something tangible done and completed. I thought that I'd work through these games in posts on G+, but alas... if you can't tell, I'm really bummed-out about the loss of G+ and its gaming scene.

The next month with 30 days is April, which might be a good opportunity to post something about one of these games everyday using the #DIY30 hashtag.

Secret Santicore
No Santicore this year, and we are still working though layout for Santicore 2017. A new layout designer is looking over the project, and I hope to have more to report about that soon. Eventually we will have a free PDF, entries posted to the blog, and (with luck) an at-cost print-on-demand book.

After the holidays, I'll send out some requests to get the band back together again for an early start to Santicore 2019, along with finding a new home for the G+ Santicore production community.

Folk Horror (gaming and movies)
I backed the Kickstarter for Howard Ingham's excellent book We Don't Go Back: A Watcher's Guide to Folk Horror, and I'm hoping to read it over the holiday break. It's an expanded version of his blog posts covering aspects of Folk Horror in movies and other media, and well-worth a look for gaming inspiration or for those interested in the subject on its own. I also have the more academically-minded Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange by Adam Scovell (a gift from Age of Ravens) which I have also started, and I need to finish.

More in Part 2 later today...

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A quick word

Was my last post four months ago? Time moves quickly. Expect a longer post here soon to catch up on what has been happening, what to expect here in the future (More posts! A new look for the new year?), and so on.

I've been much more active on Google +, but of course the long-rumored demise of  The Plus was moved up in a dramatic way, so reviving the blog seems like a logical way to proceed. Game design ideas I would have posted on G+ will be here instead.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Gen Con 2018 Loot

 

I didn't have a big shopping list this time. In recent years I've been more on the lookout for limited items not available later or stuff that is heavily discounted for the show. My main goals were to pick up Mothership and Dead Planet, the art print, and The Hobonomicon.

  • Art print by Stefan Poag of a isometric dungeon map, signed.
  • The Hobonomicon #0 from Doug Kovacs and Stefan Poag for DCC, signed by both.
  • The Free RPG Day modules for this year from Pelgrane Press (freebie in my GM bag).
  • Gen Con program book (smaller, being the first year that event listings are not printed)
  • Crystal Caste Gen Con 2018 d6 (green)
  • Scotty's Brewhouse Gen Con 2018 d6 (red, Thursday)
  • Mothership sci-fi horror RPG, signed by author/artist Sean McCoy
  • Dead Planet (adventure module toolkit for Mothership), signed by co-author Donn Stroud
  • Rackham Reversible Gaming Tiles Set D for Cadwallon, half-price at the Chimera Hobby Shop booth

Special "don't procrastinate" note:
I was at the Half-Price Books booth between games mid-day Thursday, and someone brought out two more packing boxes of DVDs and Blu-rays. Some good stuff, including a nice full set of Star Trek movie 2-DVD special editions. The one item that caught my eye was Anchor Bay's 2004 DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) Ultimate Edition 4-disc DVD set -- sticker-priced at US$15. The DVDs were loose, scratched-up, and in rough shape, so I set it back to check on later. The next time I could get into the dealer's hall was 1pm Friday, and of course it was already gone. The set usually goes for north of US$100 on the secondary market.


Update: I completely forgot about the Count Dante-inspired DCC shirt I bought (in gray). It was packed with my clothes, not my gaming stuff. Now I'll need to get the rest of their "Deadly Hands" shirts.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Happy 112th Birthday, Robert E. Howard

Today marks the 112th anniversary of the birth of pulp writer Robert E. Howard. It has become a
tradition on this date for Howard fans to read a favorite story and raise a toast.

Howard wrote something for every interest: sword and sorcery, hard-boiled detectives, weird horror, historical fiction, boxing, westerns, pirates, and poetry.

Two-Gun Bob's fans who are also tabletop gamers are seeing another resurgence of products, with the Conan adventure board game (recommended), and the main rulebook and several sourcebooks for the Conan RPG out now. Marvel Comics recently announced that the Conan comic book rights are going back to them from Dark Horse Comics.

I've been thinking about re-reading his sword-and-planet novel Almuric soon, so for his birthday this year I might read one or two chapters, or maybe watch THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD (1996).

For more information on his life and career, start with the following sites:

I highly recommend Mark Finn's Howard biography, the Locus and World Fantasy Award-nominated Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard available as an expanded edition from the REH Foundation.


Wednesday, May 03, 2017

60 years of Hammer Horror

 
I missed an important anniversary yesterday -- it was on that date, May 2nd, 60 years ago, that The Curse of Frankenstein was released by Hammer Film Productions. Although the studio had been around in one form or another since the 1930s, it was the release of Curse in 1957 that ushered in the age of Hammer Horror and made the studio's name known worldwide.

The British Film Institute posted a short photographic retrospective for the occasion, highlighting one Hammer film for each year during its prime.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Happy 111th Birthday, Robert E. Howard

Today marks the 111th anniversary of the birth of pulp writer Robert E. Howard. It has become a tradition on this date for Howard fans to read a favorite story and raise a toast.

Howard wrote something for every interest: sword and sorcery, hard-boiled detectives, weird horror, historical fiction, boxing, westerns, pirates, and poetry.

It's a great moment for Howard fans who are also tabletop gamers, with the Conan adventure board game out now and the core rulebook for the Conan RPG available sometime later this year.

For his birthday this year I might read one of the stories from Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures.

For more information on his life and career, start with the following sites:
I highly recommend Mark Finn's Howard biography, the Locus and World Fantasy Award-nominated Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard available as an expanded edition from the REH Foundation.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

50 years of Star Trek

It's 1991, and I'm sitting in the crowded Shrine Auditorium in LA. My parents scheduled a trip to visit my aunt and uncle so that we'd be there for the 25th Anniversary Creation Star Trek Celebration. The only part of the con I attended was the main event -- a showing of the teaser trailer for ST VI: The Undiscovered Country, followed by the Original Series main cast members and Gene Roddenberry on stage together. It would be the last time they would all appear together in one place.

The Undiscovered Country was billed as the farewell to the original cast, one last send-off before turning the future of the franchise over to The Next Generation. If you haven't seen it or don't remember, the teaser was a series of scenes from the Original Series as if they were projected on the surface of the Enterprise. It was a powerful and special moment seeing those scenes together in the loud appreciative audience of fellow Trekkies.

Star Trek had an enormous impact on me. I literally grew up watching these characters every week, and traveled the galaxy on adventures along with them. I watched the movies, collected starship blueprints, read articles in Starlog, and made up my own fan theories. Seeing that teaser was the highlight of the trip. I thought maybe someday it might be available on VHS to watch again. I couldn't have guessed then that "in the future" it would be available anytime on YouTube on a networked pocket computer more powerful than a Starfleet communicator.



What I find most compelling about the Original Series besides the great storytelling and action, even more so than the later series, is a vision that the future can be better. We can work together to make it so, like the crew of the Enterprise -- not in spite of our differences, but because of them.

Happy 50th to Star Trek, and to all of us who kept it alive. Live Long and Prosper.