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.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A mid-year update

I was reminded over the weekend that I haven't posted since the beginning of the year. What is happening right now:

Getting ready for Gen Con: As always, the time before the con gets shorter and shorter, even if I try to prepare earlier to avoid the crunch time. Although in the past I tried to keep my schedule fairly light, making it easier to wander the halls and play in whatever pops up, in recent years it's become busier. This year my schedule is packed.

I'm running three demo games for Pelgrane Press, two sessions of Night's Black Agents ("Four Days of the Bat" in the morning and "The Van Helsing Letter" in the afternoon) and one session of Trail of Cthulhu on Saturday morning ("The Innsmouth Investigation").

Friday night I'm running Trail of Cthulhu off-the-books for a group of friends, then playing with the same group in our annual Pathfinder game on Saturday night. I hope to pop into various other panels along the way.

Mrs. Kaiju will be hosting a writing workshop on therapeutic expressive freewriting, and co-hosting a presentation on using women's medieval history as flavor for fantasy fiction writing and gaming.

Game writing: I have been watching 80s/90s sci-fi and cyberpunk movies to get inspiration for a cyberpunk RPG project, and then I had the idea flash into my head for yet another hack of a popular rules-light hack game which would be faster to develop and finish first.

Secret Santicore 2015: Compiling and editing entries took much longer than expected, and therefore missed the window of availability for our layout folks. I'm learning Scribus with the goal of completing layout and pushing the project out the door next month before we begin planning for this year's Santicore.

Today is Gary Gygax Day and (coincidentally) Awesome Gamer Day. Celebrate appropriately! Meanwhile I'll try to get back to a normal posting schedule.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Happy Birthday, Robert E. Howard

Today marks the 110th 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.

This will be a big year for Howard fans who are also tabletop gamers, with the adventure board game being released soon and the Kickstarter for the new RPG from Modiphius scheduled for next month.

I'm going with my wife to an open-mike poetry night at a local coffeehouse so I might not have a chance to read a story this evening. Maybe I should bring the first Del Rey Conan volume along and recite "Cimmeria" for the crowd.

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, December 30, 2015

Three film articles


For the last blog post of the year I wanted to highlight three web posts that I have read recently on the history and current state of two distinct branches of home video releases: Hammer Horror films and Shaw Brothers kung-fu films.

DVD Savant’s Guide to the New Wave of Classic Hammer Blu-rays -- Glenn Erickson, DVD Savant, hosted an guest article in October by an anonymous film industry transfer expert and Hammer fan about Region B (UK,  Europe, Australia) Blu-ray releases and how they compare to each other and US discs. Many of these titles are not yet available on Blu-ray in the US.

How The North American Release of the Shaw Brothers Movies Was Botched -- An in-depth article from January 2015 detailing the history of how the Shaw Brothers kung-fu films were released in the US, from the first theatrical release in 1973, the bootleg VHS copies in the 80s, the Celestial Pictures DVDs of recent years, to the current TV broadcasts on the El Rey Network.

I'm not sure of the identity of this anonymous author. While this person does seem to know insider information about the home video industry and appears to match what I have read elsewhere, sources are not cited, and Celestial Pictures has said the article contains "a ton of inaccuracies." I might also quibble with the author's opinion of certain films and their importance to collectors, but that could be a matter of my own incomplete knowledge.

Diggin' Kung Fu with Johnnyray Gasca -- This interview from 2013 details the other side of the previous article and as a counterpoint, being a first-person account of 42nd Street grindhouse movie theaters and the origin of SB Video, which supplied the VHS boots found in stores all over New York City and elsewhere in the 1980s, contributing to the legendary status of Shaw Brothers films in the US. A fascinating look at an otherwise hidden world.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Happy 100th Birthday, Leigh Brackett


Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leigh Brackett, one of the great authors of fantasy and sci-fi's Golden Age. I haven't read as much of Brackett's work as I should, but I'm working to correct that. And maybe later this week I'll watch Rio Bravo as a tribute.