Wednesday, December 27, 2006


I've changed around some of the links in the menus on the right side of the page and added a couple of categories.  I might be moving a few other items around, or changing the template of the entire blog to something else.  I'd like a template that is a little more tidy and shows more of the links without a lot of scrolling.  Any comments, stick them here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Solomon Kane RPG art preview

The folks at Great White Games just posted a three-page PDF preview of art from the forthcoming Savage World of Solomon Kane RPG due next year. It's difficult to judge these without context; most are so-so but a couple are really great. The first bit of art that was seen at Gen Con '06 -- Kane blasting at ghouls on page one of this preview -- is still the best so far.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Heavy Metal Fantasy D & D

At the last goober pizza night, I spent some time talking to Derek about present and possible future campaigns, and somehow we got on this topic. He mentioned how he'd want to run a campaign like this, and we discovered that we had both read the same thread on

What am I talking about? Read a bit of that thread linked to above for more, but basically it would be a outlandish, gonzo, heavy metal rock fantasy game -- much more over-the-top than the wildest Conan comic or pastiche, more like Wagner's Kane stories or Lin Carter's Thongor. Imagine having adventures in the worlds depicted on rock album covers by artists like Roger Dean or even Frazetta -- shaking the pillars of Heaven and knocking down the very gates of Hell itself. The kind of campaign you wanted to play in when you were 12. Now you understand...

Update: Rodney Matthews' art, too!

And on a related note, for Derek (and the rest of you dear readers), I present The Ronnie James Dio Lyric Generator (scroll past the server errors).

Trek Remastered -- "The Corbomite Maneuver"

Saturday night's episode was "The Corbomite Maneuver". This was the first regular episode filmed for the series after the pilots ("The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before"), and a frequently-cited fan favorite. As usual, the review can explain it all much better than I can -- dialogue, lighting and camera angle choices, and much more. It's been years, literally, since I've seen this one, so I had forgotten some of the dialogue and situations, especially between Kirk and McCoy. Even with some slight differences you can already see the interplay between the characters is strong.

I haven't even mentioned the updated effects! CBS Digital just keeps getting better and better. It's also nice that, with the original interiors being so well done for the time, the new effects blend easily into the overall look of the show. "Corbomite" is an outstanding entry in the series.

Pour yourself some tranya and take a look at the screenshots and FX video.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Trek Remastered -- "The Menagerie, Parts 1 and 2"

The new episodes from last weekend and this past weekend were "The Menagerie, Parts 1 and 2". These are a couple of great eps that use footage from "The Cage", the original unaired Trek pilot. Just taken on their own, these are wonderful self-contained sci-fi stories, but they really add depth and history to the Trek universe. I have to agree with one comment on which said that The Cage and Forbidden Planet are a perfect double-feature. I can see many similarities in the style and the look of them.

Part 1 had more updated effects shots than Part 2, including the fantastic backgrounds for Starbase 11, the shuttlecraft, and the fly-through transition from outside onto the bridge of Pike's Enterprise.

  • Screenshots from Part 1 and 2
  • Reviews of Part 1 and 2

Next week, "The Corbomite Maneuver"! The rest of December will be reruns of previous eps, but all of them are good.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Dungeon Tile Mapper

WotC is producing sets of 2-D dungeon tiles for D&D. These are really nice full-color images on thick glossy cardboard. A fan created a drag-and-drop dungeon tile mapper that WotC is now hosting on the official site. More details here at The Miniatures Page.

Trek Remastered -- "Mirror, Mirror" and "Space Seed"

I'm running behind on posts again... two weekends ago saw the premiere of "Mirror, Mirror" and a rerun of "...Tribbles", and last weekend was "Space Seed" and a rerun of "Mirror...". The effects were fantastic, especially the new shots in "Space Seed" of the Botany Bay and the Enterprise. The new model of the Enterprise that CBS Digital is using (first seen in "...Tribbles") looks great, and the low-angle view of the Enterprise gave an impressive illusion of the size of the ship. Very well done!
This weekend's new ep is "The Menagerie, Part 1". This is the one with Captain Christopher Pike and clips from the original pilot, "The Cage".

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Is R'lyeh rising from the Pacific?

Mariners report new island in South Pacific

"WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- A new volcanic island has risen from the South Pacific near Tonga, according to reports from two vessels that passed the area."

The rest at CNN.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More Trek YouTube Videos

To go along with my earlier post, I thought I would pass along these links to other interesting videos:

Deep Space 9 - Trials and Tribble-ations VFX reel (compare the new remastered "Tribbles" to the fx done for this time-travel DS9 ep.)

Battle Montage - several minutes of the best starship battles from later episodes of TNG, DS9, and Voyager.

Star Trek Tribute - I think this guy stole the footage from the one linked above.

Trek Remastered -- "The Trouble with Tribbles"

Saturday night's episode was a rerun of last week's "Catspaw", and the new version of "The Trouble with Tribbles" was on early Monday morning. "Tribbles" has a large amount of exterior shots, which all have been redone. I really like the changes and updates. The remastered print looks great, at least on a regular TV.

From those fine folks at, here's a review, several comparison screenshots, and a link to a 2 min. 25 sec. YouTube video of all the new FX. The video's creator promises to post a visual FX reel for each new episode going forward, so if he does I wil post links here. It's a wonderful way to preview and review all the changes.

We are at the start of a great run of episodes: "Tribbles" this past weekend, then next week is the outstanding fan-favorite "Mirror, Mirror", followed "Space Seed" ("Khaaaaaannnn!"), "The Menagerie, Parts 1 and 2", "The Corbomite Maneuver"... Good times.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"By this axe, I rule!!"

Yesterday was the official street date of the latest Robert E. Howard trade paperback volume from Del Rey and Wandering Star, Kull: Exile of Atlantis. It collects all of the Kull stories, poems and fragments without any editorial changes or story completions, and illustrated by Justin Sweet. If you're looking for brooding Pre-Cataclysmic sword-and-sorcery action, pick up a copy!

Trek Remastered -- "Catspaw"

"Catspaw", the Halloween Trek episode, was the Remastered ep this past weekend. The local Fox station had it in the Saturday night timeslot which had been a rerun of the previous weekend's show. I tried to stay up and watch the late Sunday night showing but I fell asleep, so I don't know what ep they had at that time.

The major revision in this episode was the new matte of the castle. You can see a screenshot here or read a review here.

Next week is another highly-anticipated episode: "The Trouble With Tribbles". There's a great preview on the official Star Trek site showing a before-and-after view of Deep Space Station K-7. They say that the ep will not re-use any of the CGI FX shots created for the DS9 ep "Trials and Tribble-ations."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Trek Remastered -- "Arena"

This isn't turning into "The Trek Blog", honest. I'll have other things to comment on soon, I'm sure.

"Arena" is the Trek episode that aired late last Sunday night. That night's ep has typically been rerun on the following Saturday, so you can check it out later if you miss it. I had forgotten some of the events that happened when the crew was attacked at the outpost, including the mortar they use against the Gorn. Check out screenshots and video here.

This weekend's show is the Halloween episode, "Catspaw". Sneak peek here and video preview here. It's another favorite of mine, so I can't wait!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Incident at Blood Pass (1970)

Last night I went over to DVO's house to watch Incident at Blood Pass (1970). We hadn't seen it before, and we were very happy to finally have the chance to view it. It's a excellent samurai film with plenty of twists and double-crosses, starring the great actors Toshiro Mifune and Shintaro Katsu. There's a not-so-subtle insinuation that Mifune's nameless samurai in this movie is the same character from Yojimbo and Sanjuro. The other product of Mifune and Katsu's 1970 collaboration is Zatoichi meets Yojimbo.

I love Katsu's Zatoichi movies, but Toshiro Mifune is The Man.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Trek Remastered -- "City on the Edge of Forever"

Last weekend's ep was "City on the Edge of Forever", one of the best of The Original Series. Updates on this episode included a beautiful panning flyby shot of the Enterprise in orbit. Maybe if the studio wasn't under such a time crunch, they could have included more establishing shots of the planet. It might not even be something they were looking at, but I hoped that they would have added in some of the scenes that were in Harlan Ellison's original script showing the epic grandeur of the ruins on the planet. Maybe I'll talk about that in another post.

This past weekend's episode should have been "I, Mudd", but there wasn't an ep on Saturday night (baseball playoffs), and in the Sunday night/Monday morning slot was a rerun of "City...". That's disappointing. We'll see what's on the lineup for next weekend, as the newspaper TV guide says that there should be a Saturday ep then. According to the schedule, it should be "Arena", the one with the Gorn and Kirk's makeshift gunpowder cannon.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Christie's Auction of Trek Memorabilia

You may have heard on the news that there is currently an huge auction of Trek props and costumes from CBS/Paramount's storage, including items across its 40 year lifespan. Unfortunately, the only thing I could afford is the auction catalog (Woo-hoo! It's discounted down to 60 bucks now!).

The news coverage of the event has triggered one of my pet peeves. Every reporter who ends a Star Trek news segment by "beaming up" owes me a dollar.

More Trek Remastered -- "The Naked Time"

Last weekend's episode were a repeat of "The Devil in the Dark" on Saturday night and "The Naked Time" on Sunday night/Monday morning. The only real updates to "The Naked Time" were a new establishing shot of the planet and new viewscreen effects.

I'm not sure what the schedule will be this weekend. The Major League Baseball playoffs begin this week and one of the games is on Fox during the Saturday night Star Trek slot. This weekend's scheduled episode is the great Harlan Ellison-penned "The City on the Edge of Forever". I assume (and you know what that means) that "City..." will air early Monday morning.

'Til then, go easy on the cordrazine.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


testing, testing.

Edit: Hey, that worked.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The (many) Rules of the Game

I mentioned here before that I have been looking at Green Ronin's True20 RPG rules. In addition to True20, I'm reading the rules for Pinnacle's Savage Worlds (which will also power their upcoming Solomon Kane RPG) and Politically Incorrect Games' Iron Gauntlets. Each of these have huge followings of fans on the internets. I'm trying to get the gist of each and determine if they might be a good fit for the playing styles of our groups. Have a look at the sample rules here and here (haven't found a free sample for IG). Sometime soon, when I get my basement cleaned up, I'd like to playtest these rules and put them through some goober stress testing.

Edit: Forgot to mention Mongoose Publishing's RuneQuest 4th Ed. The SRD and Developer's Kit is available here.

Thoughts on Trek Remastered

This past weekend, Fox showed "Balance of Terror" in the 6pm Saturday slot and "The Devil in the Dark" in the 1am Sunday night/Monday morning slot. I don't know if "Miri" was shown at all. Our local Fox station was behind one week, then, but now seems to have caught up -- unless the Saturday night showing is a re-run of the previous week.

If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend that you check it out.


Fandom has a way of often jumping the gun on things, especially now in the age of instant Internet communication. There are plenty of reviews that went up right away after just the first episode. I agree somewhat that there are some missed opportunities, but I'll reserve final judgment until they get some more episodes in the can. From what I've read, the studio seems to be on a tight schedule cranking the Hi-def episodes out as fast as they can. I hope, with more practice, that they get better and better at it. Since I don't have a HDTV, the episodes look good but not astounding. I would guess on a better TV there would be more of a difference.

The point of contention with the reviewers is the updated FX. I agree that the CBS/Paramount seems to be "too respectful" to the original material. Many of the new visual effects are duplicates of the original shots, including camera angles and model movement that was a result of effects technology of the time. The new inserted effects could be so much more dynamic and interesting. There are hints, like the three-quarters view over the top of the Warbird in "Balance...", or the emergence of the Horta from the cave wall in "Devil...", that really show what the new CGI can do. The closing flyby of the Enterprise in "Devil.." is particularly nice. I think there will be more of this as time and the episodes go on.

In my opinion, the best thing about Trek Remastered is that it has people talking and excited about Trek again. Especially, for me, because the Original Series has always been my favorite.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Trek Original Series clarification

OK, Fox showed an episode of Enterprise on Sunday night instead of the enhanced Original Series. However, I saw a commercial that gave the day and time for TOS as Saturday at 6pm. Next week's ep is "The Devil in the Dark". If you don't recall, that's the one with the Horta.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Star Trek: The Original Series digital remasters in syndication!

I first learned about this project from some links that Edige passed along to me, showing some CGI effects test footage. This was some kind of well-kept secret in the entertainment community, because the news has just been breaking in the past few weeks.

CBS/Paramount has been remastering episodes of TOS for syndication (and possibly later DVD issue). They will take the place of Star Trek: Enterprise, which now moves to the Sci-Fi Channel. Stations that had been airing Enterprise will now be showing the updated TOS episodes (which includes, locally, Fox on late Sunday nights).

So what is new about them? The image quality gets an upgrade, so they should look better than ever. Plus, many of the visual effects are getting CG makeovers. This could be as little as extra moving images in the static matte painting backgrounds to completely new CG starship exteriors. The opening credits are supposed to be new as well.

From the little I've read about it, they are still in the works, so they literally are getting them done week to week. The proposed schedule is on the offical site, and some of the backstory on what is being done can be found at The Digital Bits, here, here, here and here.

The first week's ep is "Balance of Terror", although the Tribune's TV Guide says "Miri" is on instead. We'll see in just about an hour from this posting. If you don't remember, "Balance..." is one of the better eps, very much like The Enemy Below but set in space.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

High Tech Noon

I'm glad I watched High Noon during my attempt at 100 Films in 100 Days. Not only for the obvious reason, that it's a great film, but so that I'd get the jokes in this parody. Although parody isn't the right word for it. Maybe a..."re-imagining"?

I like the mix of sci-fi and western tropes, Firefly being the most obvious example. Take a look at the movie (4 min. YouTube video), it's really well done!

Speaking of Firefly, the complete series DVD set is on sale this week at Target for $18.99.

Flyboys and other movie surprises

I haven't been keeping up on new movie releases the way I normally would. I need to do better to retain "movie guru" status. Several late summer films have taken me completely by surprise -- De Palma's adaptation of James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia; the story of George Reeves' suicide (murder?), Hollywoodland; and Ong Bak 2 (a.k.a. The Protector) -- and these are movies that I should have known all about long ago.

Here's another one that came out of nowhere: Flyboys. I saw a preview of it that makes it seem like a WWI twentysomething "buddy" movie, but the CGI visual effects in the commercial were great! If there's just ten total minutes of aerial battle scenes like those, including the strafing of a zeppelin, then I'll be satisfied. It's out September 22nd.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Steve Irwin, R.I.P.

CNN - Irwin's last moments caught on videotape

Yahoo - Steve Irwin - Main News Page

CNN - Irwin died 'doing what he loved'

Not much I can add to what's already been said. I didn't watch all of his shows but I always enjoyed whatever I saw, and tried to catch his appearances on other shows like Jay Leno and Conan O'Brian.

I feel a little guilty for going as the Crocodile Hunter for Halloween once. It wasn't malicious mocking, but heartfelt respect, at least I hope it came across that way.

I think he'll be remembered as someone who who used his energy and enthusiasm to entertain and to share his care and concern for the natural world with others. He will be missed.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Gen Con 2006

I'm sorry about not writing my con report before now, but I've had severe writer's block this week.

Last weekend was Gen Con 2006. Brian, DVO and I drove down to the show Friday morning. We went to the hotel, checked in and dropped off our bags, then we went on to the show. The dealer's hall had already opened so we missed the crush of goobers. We stopped for a quick snack from the concession stand and then pressed on through our dealer's hall trek. I tried to call John B. but the cell phone reception in the convention center was lousy (it's partially my phone provider's fault too, I'm sure).

We met up with Bob along the way, then we had the annual on-the-dealer's-floor meetup with Mr. H.G. Walls. Gen Con is usually the only time that I run into him, although I also saw him at the local Game Con this spring.

The four of us (Bob, DVO, Brian and myself) had our customary dinner at Alcatraz, then I went on to the ENnie Awards Ceremony. DVO went to a poker tournament while Brian stayed back at the room to relax. We all met up later and had drinks in the hotel bar before calling it a night.

After breakfast at the Red Eye Saturday morning, we went back to the con. I met up with the 20b20l crew and went back into the dealers room. DVO got to play in a really great game of 40K while Brian went to a seminar by Golden Daemon award-winning miniature painter Jennifer Haley on basing figures. I went to the seminar Mastering Your GM-Fu and after that went to a seminar on Robert E. Howard game licenses and creators. Shortly after that the three of us met up in the dealer's room and stayed until they closed it up. We left right after and headed for home.

The freebie goodie bag was really great this year -- the customary d6 from Crystal Caste, a d6 from, a pack of Pirates of the Revolution, a free CD of City of Heroes, a Guild Wars trial CD, a metal Deck Vault from Ultra-Pro, the Orcs of the High Mountains module for Legends of the Ancient World, and Inquest Gamer #137. I got three more Pirates packs from the guys, along with an extra Deck Vault from Bob.

Here's the rest of my swag:

A factory-second Chessex MegaMat
Film Frenzy: Action Movie Edition card game ($2 from Comic Images)
A Green Ronin t-shirt
Six loose D&D minis for $5 and two loose Mage Knight minis for $1
Free Exalted 2nd Edition quick-start rules, adventure and map
Two Reaper Dark Heaven minis for $2.50 in the Auction Shop
Free Sir Hawthorne Heroscape promo figure
GURPS Egypt, Age of Napoleon, and Low-Tech (seems like there's a Rosetta Stone adventure in there somewhere... SJG 3 for $10 rack)
Conan RPG: Pirate Isles (50% off)
Nyambe: African Adventures (finally!), Rune: Enter the Viking, Kingdoms of Kalamar Villain Design Handbook, and a Starship Troopers Mobile Infantry squad box (Titan Games Buy 1, Get 3 Free table)
The Fantasy Role Playing Game: A New Performing Art (50% off from McFarland Publishing)

Again this year I didn't have much time to explore the Forge booth, although I did get a look at Burning Empires. Wow, is that a gorgeous little book! Incredibly well done for a small-press RPG.

The show didn't seem as crowded on Saturday as it has been in past years, but I heard that the other days, even Sunday, were very strong for sales and traffic. Maybe it seemed less crowded because things were more spread out. It will be interesting to see how things go in the next few years when the Convention Center is under renovation and the new stadium is under construction. We'll have to see.

I got to meet several industry folks whose work I admire -- Martin Ralya from, Robin Laws, Matt Forbeck, Mike Stackpole, and Shane Lacy Hensley (Solomon Kane RPG...oh yeah!). Too bad Ken Hite wasn't there this year...

The big news, at least for me, is that next year's show will have a Robert E. Howard Day. The creative panel this year was a precursor for that. According to the on-site program guide, REH Day will include a museum, special guests, panels, seminars, film screenings, and of course, games. I can't wait to see Two-Gun Bob get the recognition due to him from the gaming community.

Dreamblade was possibly the big mainstream release of the show, with RuneQuest 4th Edition close behind. We'll be discussing the new releases, the ENnie Awards and other things, including interviews, on the 20b20l podcast over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Getting ready for Gen Con

Sorry about the long pause here. The last few weeks have just flown by.

This week is Gen Con prep. It's not so much that I have to prep something to bring to Gen Con, but "prep" as in information gathering. I try to find all the press releases about new games, con exclusives and other swag.

There are only a few things I am planning to get while I'm there -- a discount factory-second Chessex mat, a coffee cup of cheap random Chessex dice, at least one indie RPG from The Forge, goodies from Titan's Buy One Get Three Free table...I'm sure I am forgetting something. Mostly I like to flip through books and look at minis that I can't see in the local shops.

I also want to look through the OOP and used bins for discounted minis and RPG products. I wonder if the availability of OOP materials in PDF format has done anything to the used gaming market. I know Titan Games is doing more business in used video games, and it appears (on the floorplan, anyway) that Crazy Egor's booth is smaller this year...

This might be my last post before Gen Con...if so, see you next week for the wrap-up!

Update: I just read that Green Ronin will have several discount bundles at their Gen Con booth, including:
"Ancient World Campaign Bundle: You get Testament, Trojan War, and Eternal Rome for only $30."

I bought Testament from them last year for $10, but getting the other two for $30 is still a deal.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Putin quizzed on robots, octopus and that kiss

Oh, yes, beware of "the Cthulhu"...

It was not clear what had prompted 8,600 Russians to ask Putin if he planned to employ "giant, humanoid war robots" or why 7,300 people were interested in the Cthulhu, a cosmic cephalopod invented by novelist H. P. Lovecraft which is said to be sleeping beneath the Pacific Ocean.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Oh, by the way, which one's Pink?"

I'm more familiar with the Dave Gilmour-era Pink Floyd than the early days, but I had always heard stories about Syd Barrett, one of the original "eccentrics" of rock music. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

Pink Floyd legend Syd Barrett dies

The Old Car Manual Project

If you're like me, and you love old advertising, old cars, and old car advertising, then you need to check out The Old Car Manual Project.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Column 1
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Friday, June 30, 2006

"A planet where apes evolved from men...?"

(Insert your favorite Planet of the Apes joke here)

Demanding rights for great apes

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's parliament is to declare support for rights to life and freedom for great apes on Wednesday, apparently the first time any national legislature will have recognized such rights for non-humans.

Ancient Artifacts

A couple of recent news stories about amazing artifacts from the ancient world:

Did ancient Amazonians build a 'Stonehenge'?

2,500 year-old sarcophagi uncovered

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Master of Champions, continued

I watched the first episode tonight. It was good, but a little disappointing. MoC is a competition much like Star Search or American Idol. The early commercials I saw made the show seem like something else completely. I'll tune in again next week and give it another try.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


One of my fond memories of TV while growing up was all the oddball series and specials about stunts and record-breaking attempts. I remember a bunch of these during the early '80s -- shows such as That's Incredible, Guinness World Records, Games People Play (and to a lesser extent, Real People). There were a few good ones later in the '80s and '90s, like The World's Greatest Stunts.

So it should be no surprise that the commercials for a new ABC series have caught my eye. Master of Champions premieres on Thursday night this week. It looks like it will be over-the-top enough to be a worthy successor to those great classic stunt shows of yore.

Get the Led Out

When I was growing up and I would hear Led Zeppelin, the most prominent instrument I heard was the genius guitar work of Jimmy Page. In the last few years, the most prominent feature of Led Zeppelin for me has been the genius drumming of John Bonham (see When the Levee Breaks, Fool in the Rain, Kashmir and Moby Dick, specifically).

And if you ever get the chance, check out Dread Zeppelin.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

What is...the Library Thing?

I discovered this site tonight. It appears to be similar to CD and DVD tracking sites like DVD Tracker. It allows you to "catalog" your book collection online, get recommendations, and contact other users with similar tastes. Maybe I'll give it a try in the next few weeks. There are a couple of blogs associated with it for more info.

This is pretty interesting from a library science perspective. One issue (mentioned in their blog) is how information is categorized on the web (tags) compared to the library world by LC subject headings. Worth checking out.

The 100 Years, 100 Cheers special

The American Film Institute's special on inspiring films, 100 Years, 100 Cheers, was on CBS tonight. I can't argue with the choices -- no doubt you could fill a list of 200 pretty easily. It's nice to see Mr. Smith..., Mockingbird and It's a Wonderful Life so high on the list, being some of my favorites. Harry Bailey's line at the end of Life, "...the richest man in town!", always gets me weepy, even just a clip like this.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Zero Energy Home Enters Affordable Range

From Discovery Channel News, here's one of the better news stories I've read recently. It's still expensive, but like anything else, over time the price of the components will come down. All new houses should be built this way.

And this is another story about the potentials of wind energy.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The True History of True20

Green Ronin head honcho Chris Pramas posted a series of short articles detailing the history of True20 on his personal blog back in April: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Final.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Gaming Podcast News

Dawg, Buck Mulligan, Gunthyr, KennKong and I started recording a gaming podcast show at the end of April. Using Skype voice-over-IP, we can conference call and have Dawg record the show without any of us leaving home. We’ve used Skype for some role-playing also, and it has worked out really well.

"Twenty Buttons and Twenty Levers" is informal and we're still working on some technical issues. At some point, we'd like to set up a blog so listeners could comment. So far we have five episodes in the can, and this past week we had our first special guest interview: Vincent Darlage, a Robert E. Howard expert, freelance author and illustrator involved with most of the Conan RPG supplements from Mongoose Publishing.

If you'd like to give it a listen, here's how:

It can also be found on iTunes by searching the iTunes Store under Podcasts > Arts and Entertainment > Gaming.

Here's the "subscribe to" iTunes link: itpc:// (this only works if you have iTunes installed)

and here's the generic feed that will work with any podcast/rss/xml software:

Let us know what you think!

Back Again

OK, I know it has been a long time since I last updated. I’m still really busy with other things, but I’m feeling like I can manage to post more. Let’s say…twice a week or so…look for something new here. I’ll do my best.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

100 Films -- Still on the List

Some of the titles that were on my list but I didn't get to them (in no particular order):

All That Heaven Allows (1955)
Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Days of Heaven (1978)
Detour (1945)
Diabolique (1955)
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Duel in the Sun (1946)
Eyes without a Face (1959)
Faces (1968)
Gun Crazy (1949)
High Sierra (1941)
Interview with a Vampire (1994)
Jules and Jim (1962)
Key Largo (1948)
Last Year at Marienbad (1961)
Le Samouraï (1967)
Lolita (1962)
Mean Streets (1973)
Mildred Pierce (1945)
Nights of Cabiria (1957)
Of Mice and Men (1939)
Pickup on South Street (1953)
Sullivan’s Travels (1941)

100 Films -- The End...?

I discussed this with Mrs. Kaiju this weekend, and I decided that it would be best to stop the 100 Films project right now. I have plenty of other things that I should be working on right now and making time to watch movies isn't one of them. Things were different when I planned to do this months ago and I didn't expect to be where I am at the moment.

In the final tally, I saw 48 films in 63 days. The only one missing from the list I posted last Monday is the final film, Bottle Rocket (Buck Mulligan should be happy to hear that).

I can't really complain. I had the chance to see 48 classic movies that I might not have made the time to see otherwise. I'm just disappointed because I started something (again) that I was not able to finish.

I'd like to thank those people who have put in their comments on this site for their support. I hope you have found my scribblings interesting or at least amusing.

This isn't the end of the blog. I started writing these entries before this project, and I'll continue when I can. I have many other topics I would like to write about. I would also like to comment further about some of the films I watched but didn't go into depth about. Also, I am sure that I will watch the movies that I didn't get to yet, on a more relaxed schedule, and make some comments about them here.

Monday, March 06, 2006

100 Films -- Past the Half-way Point

Here's an update on what I've seen so far and where I'm at regarding the timing. The list is in order from the start until now.

Stalag 17
(These two are bonus "freebies". I restarted the following weekend)

The Warriors
The Killing
On the Waterfront
The Big Heat
Dog Day Afternoon
It Happened One Night
12 Angry Men
Easy Rider
High Noon
The Philidelphia Story
Sunset Boulevard
The Bicycle Thief
Roman Holiday
The Sweet Smell of Success
The Last Picture Show
To Be or Not to Be
Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song
Shaun of the Dead
The Third Man
The Seventh Seal
Meet Me in St. Louis
Grand Illusion
Scarlet Street
Zorba the Greek
The Bad and the Beautiful
Strangers on a Train
Anna Karenina
The Manchurian Candidate
La Strada
Adam's Rib
All About Eve
The Public Enemy
Seven Days in May
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Modern Times
A Night at the Opera
Leave Her to Heaven
La Dolce Vita
The Night of the Hunter
8 1/2

47 movies in 61 days. Not bad, but I need to catch up eventually.

100 Films -- Days 57 through 61

I didn't watch a movie on Thursday night.

Friday I saw La Dolce Vita.

Saturday's film was The Night of the Hunter.

Sunday I watched 8 1/2.

Tonight's movie was Stagecoach.

More discussion later...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

100 Films -- Days 48 through 56

Another Wednesday night, and another Frankenheimer political thriller, Seven Days in May with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. I enjoyed this more than The Manchurian Candidate (if you can call something so disturbing "enjoyable"). Lancaster is suitably scary, and Kirk Douglas' chin is all over the place. Seeing the way this and Candidate were shot, I think Frankenheimer was really ahead of his time.

Thursday night I watched Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. This is a film I've seen before, but it was a long time ago. Compare this movie to Seven Days in May. Being made right before WWII, Capra uses patriotic music and scenes to build up the emotion, and I believe it still works. You want to believe that an ordinary person like Jefferson Smith can still get into the political process and do something for the public good against the political and press machines of the world.

No movies on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Speaking of machines, on Monday I saw Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times. Good movie; Chaplin's critique of Depression-era America and a last hurrah for the silent cinema that made him famous.

Tuesday night's movie was A Night at the Opera with the Marx Brothers. The only Marx Brothers movie I've ever seen was The Big Store and that was when it aired on WGN one Sunday afternoon when I was 9 or 10 years old. Besides that, I've seen some clips on TV, so I knew what to expect. Night started out a little slow but it eventually picked up and had some really good moments. The scenes of Harpo and Chico playing music show just how talented they really were. Groucho's one-liners got some out-loud laughs from me, especially during the "stuffing 15 people into the tiny stateroom" bit.

Tonight I'm watching Leave Her to Heaven.

Update: Leave Her to Heaven is a creepy movie, and an oddity in that it's a Technicolor noir. Pretty depressing, too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

100 Films -- Days 40 through 47

Has it really been a week since I last updated this? Oops...

Last Tuesday's movie was Anna Karenina. I wanted to finally see a Greta Garbo film during this challenge. I thought maybe it would be Grand Hotel, but there was a copy of AK on the shelf at the library. It was fair; a little melodramatic, but that's probably the point.

Wednesday night's film was The Manchurian Candidate. That had some moments I didn't expect from a movie from that era. Also I didn't expect the performance from Sinatra -- he usually doesn't show that vulnerability in his roles. Another great movie.

No movies on Thursday and Friday.

On Saturday I saw Fellini's La Strada and Adam's Rib with Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. La Strada was very touching and beautiful. Adam's Rib is Tracy and Hepburn at the top of their game. Very nice.

All About Eve was Sunday's movie. Bette Davis's "comeback" picture, and rather true-to-life...

Monday night's film was The Public Enemy with James Cagney. One of the gritty Warner Brothers gangster pictures from the early 1930s, this is a really great film and the source of the famous "grapefruit scene".

No movie this evening.

Monday, February 13, 2006

100 Films -- Days 35 through 39

Thursday night I saw Scarlet Street, a really great noir from Fritz Lang.

No movie on Friday night.

Saturday night's film was Zorba the Greek. This is just the kind of movie I need to see. It's all about taking what life gives you and making the best of it.

Sunday I watched both Blow-Up ("Swingin' London, Baby") and The Bad and the Beautiful. I've been wanting to see The Bad and the Beautiful for a long time, since I had seen clips from it in documentaries. It was a decent movie. I'll have to re-read Ebert's essay on Blow-Up so I know what the heck is going on there.

Tonight's movie was Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train. That's a twisted little movie. You can really see where Hitch was going in his later work while watching this.

Bonus: The list of 400 candidate films nominated for the AFI Top 100 Films.

Still five days behind...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

100 Films -- Days 32 through 34

No movie on Monday night.

Tuesday we saw two films: The Seventh Seal and Meet Me in St. Louis. How's that for a double-feature?

Today I watched Grand Illusion, Renoir's film about war and humanity. Excellent.

Still five movies behind.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

100 Films -- Days 24 through 31

Sorry again for the long delay. Because of a recent life-changing event, I thought about scrapping this project. With all of the thoughts and prayers of family and friends, there is a temporary solution (starting tomorrow), so I'm going forward.

I took an involuntary break for a few stunned days, but on Wednesday I saw To Be or Not to Be. Friday night's film was Chinatown. I watched Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song on Saturday afternoon, then Mrs. Kaiju and I spun the DVD of Shaun of the Dead. This afternoon we saw The Third Man, and this evening I watched Sunrise. Sunrise has some great tracking shots and visual effects, including one matte shot that I didn't think was possible in 1927. What a beautiful film!

I caught up a bit this weekend, so I am only five movies behind schedule. Somehow I need to pick up the pace.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

100 Films -- Days 19 through 23

This is just a quick post to catch up on where we're at on the list.

Tuesday: Roman Holiday
Wednesday: The Sweet Smell of Success
Thursday: The Last Picture Show

No movies on Friday or Saturday, so I'm three movies behind schedule. Today is Day 24, and I have some more titles at the ready. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, January 23, 2006

100 Films -- Days 17 and 18

Time for some European classics. On Sunday we watched The Bicycle Thief and tonight's movie was Breathless. These critically acclaimed films are milestones in cinema; the former the epitome of Italian Neorealism, the latter the beginning of the French New Wave.

I really liked both of these films. They are very European. Breathless is the sort of thing that I would think of if someone said the phrase "French film". They are very much of their time and place, yet also timeless and profound. Here I'm thinking particularly of Thief -- it doesn't conclude the way you would expect. Much like real life it just continues on. This is not a modern Hollywood movie where you know how it will turn out before the last reel. But that is OK, and there is a message there for those who look for it.

I'm very glad I finally got to see these movies, and both are highly recommended.

Still one day behind on viewings. I'll have to catch up this weekend.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

100 Films -- Days 14 to through 16

Thursday night I watched The Philidelphia Story. I really like Jimmy Stewart, I like Cary Grant and even Katherine Hepburn, but this was my least-favorite movie on the list so far. It's a nice little screwball comedy, but it didn't do much for me.

Because I'm taking on this challenge, you can probably assume that I love movies. It should be no suprise, then, that I enjoy "movies about movies", or even movie-making scenes in unrelated movies -- a classic example is the brawl that spills over onto the Warner backlot in Blazing Saddles, or even the chase scene in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. I have a few of these "movies about movies" on my list: 8 1/2, The Bad and the Beautiful, and the film we watched Friday night, Sunset Boulevard.

This is a well-deserved classic; great dialogue, great cinematography. It is both a love letter and hate mail to the Hollywood system. The casting really is perfect, considering the histories of Gloria Swanson and Erich von Stroheim. It's a timeless, compelling story and beautiful to watch.

This evening we saw Amadeus. Finally, a movie that Mrs. Kaiju has seen and I haven't! This is another one that I somehow missed seeing, despite it winning all the major awards of 1984. A great film about jealousy and beauty; I found it interesting that it was more about Salieri than Mozart himself.

Still one day behind. I'll try to catch up tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

100 Films -- Days 11 through 13

No movie on Monday, instead we watched the Golden Globes (OK, we're award show junkies. If there is ever an Award Show Channel, we will be in trouble). I'm one day behind again.

Late Tuesday I watched D.O.A. It's a really great atmospheric flick, especially if you are a fan of film noir. It's not the typical noir, however. Much of it takes place in daylight! Admittedly I got a little lost with some of the twists, turns and names being thrown around. It's different, and well worth checking out.

Tonight we saw High Noon, which was excellent and much different than I expected. There are many different interpretations of the movie, but I think that it's powerful just taken at face value. It's a story about having the courage to do what's right, even if there is a much easier choice available, and this message still resonates today. Some of the dialogue could have been pulled from a modern movie, very timeless. Great camerawork and editing, too. There were a couple of scenes that I believe inspired Mel Brooks to parody in Blazing Saddles.

I suppose it's the mark of a good film to elicit strong emotion from the audience. In this movie, it was the indifferent townsfolk. They really made me mad!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

100 Films -- Day 10

I watched 12 Angry Men this afternoon. It is because of movies like this that I’m taking this viewing challenge. What a great film! And such great performances…since nearly the entire movie takes place in a jury room among 12 people, it’s very much like a stage play, with the sort of long-take acting that was more common in movies long ago. Outstanding.

A man went looking for America and couldn't find it anywhere…

Later in the evening we watched Easy Rider. This is a movie that is so famous, so influential, I’m surprised I haven’t seen any part of it before. The first modern "road movie", there is a sense of disillusionment and danger hanging over the entire film – the beginning of the end of "The Sixties". This was also one of the first big hit films produced outside the conventional studio system.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

100 Films -- Days 7 through 9

"Attica! Attica!"

Thursday night's movie was Dog Day Afternoon. It's quite a little time capsule of the early '70s. I liked it, but a real downer ending, though.

Friday night was Lowell's game, so no film-viewing. I'm now one day behind schedule.

We usually rent from Hollywood Video, and I can tell by their Classics sections that I'll soon exhaust their supply. I drove over to Morris Movie Classics today in search of more films. I had not been there in...9, 10 years, maybe. I wasn't sure if they were still in business. They are still there, packed in tiny aisles from floor to ceiling. That's the good news. The bad news is that the entire collection is VHS. I can understand, because replacing them with DVDs would be an expensive proposition. The trouble is that I'm trying to watch these movies in as complete form as possible, and many VHS titles were not released in widescreen but in the fullscreen 1.33:1 TV format. For some movies, especially those released before the '50s, that shouldn't a problem. Which leads us to today's choice...

Tonight we watched It Happened One Night with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. We really enjoyed this '30s screwball comedy. Some great dialogue, the kind that you don't hear in movies any more. It has a sentimental sweet side, no doubt due to direction by Frank Capra. And I didn't know that Gable's character was a big inspiration for Bugs Bunny.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

100 Films -- Day 6

Tonight's movie was The Big Heat, one of the most highly-regarded films noir. Mrs. Kaiju and I were blown away by how good this was. Glenn Ford and Lee Marvin in a Fritz Lang can you go wrong? And why didn't I see this years ago?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

100 Films -- Day 5

"I coulda been a contender...I coulda been somebody."

We watched On the Waterfront tonight. I'd only ever seen clips, especially the cab scene quoted above. What a great, powerful film.

On another note, Yog, Space Ameoba is due for release next week, along with (hopefully) Atragon.

Monday, January 09, 2006

100 Films -- Days 3 and 4, and Bond TV

I restarted the challenge on Sunday. I watched The Warriors (in between watching the conclusions of Diamonds Are Forever and Thunderball on AMC) yesterday and The Killing tonight. I'll have some commentary on these at some point.

Speaking of which...AMC is currently running a 24-hour-a-day Bond marathon. It's just too bad that AMC is a shell of what it used to be -- running commercials, full screen prints, and many movies that are hardly "classics". Oh well, at least Fox Movie Channel and Turner Classic Movies are really great. And I'll still tune in anywhere for Bond movies, even though I have all on DVD....There's something comfortably nostalgic about watching them on broadcast TV.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


I think I'll postpone the 100 Films project until possibly Sunday. I watched Laura on New Year's Day and Stalag 17 on Monday, but I just haven't been in the mood to watch anything else this week.