Monday, October 29, 2012

"Happy little trees": Bob Ross' 70th Birthday

If you watched any daytime PBS programming from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties, you're certain to have seen The Joy of Painting with artist Bob Ross. Google celebrates what would have been his 70th birthday today with a Bob Ross Google Doodle on their main page.

My own artistic talent is confined to three-dimensional work such as gaming miniatures and terrain. Starting with a blank canvas and creating a scene is a huge challenge for me. If you watched Bob's show -- or attended his painting classes -- he encouraged you and made you believe that anyone could create art and love the process.

I think it's particularly fitting that the "g" in the Google art is blue. I can remember him saying on the show many times,"Perhaps a little more Phthalo Blue here... Phthalo Blue..."

Always upbeat, always engaged with the viewer, and always full of wonder for the beauty of the natural world, he created miniature worlds in his landscape paintings, and invited you to do the same. What I will remember is that optimistic joy, love of animals, and genuine passion for life that he projected on every show.

Bob Ross passed away in 1995.

Mental Floss has a great list of "5 (Happy Little) Things You Didn't Know about Bob Ross."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Still here

A busy time of work and other life issues has kept me from posting recently. I intend to be back to a more regular schedule soon.

The spambots have been hitting the blog without mercy this month. I've temporarily turned on the word verification step for comments in the hope that it will force them to look for different prey.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Gen Con 2012 report, part 3

Following from Part 1 and Part 2.

Saturday: Met our friend D. downstairs at the hotel restaurant for the breakfast buffet, then went to the show.

I dropped Mrs. Kaiju off at the Writers' Symposium room and then went to my first seminar of the day. Dennis Detwiller and Ken Hite presented their ideas on using alternative history in RPGs. Ken Hite is always entertaining and informative, and I had not heard Dennis Detwiller speak in person before. Overall, it was a very worthwhile seminar.

I had a free hour before my next seminar and while Mrs. Kaiju was in her Ghosts and Spirits seminar, so I went through a few more aisles in the dealer's area. On this go-around, I found Troll and Toad's bargain booth area for the first time. The stock area built up using magazine-sized longboxes and storage crates. On this day, all items were $2 each, and there were still boxes and boxes of gaming goodness -- plenty of the usual d20 book overstock, but also some oddball and out-of-the-ordinary items. I saw older military history and wargaming books, and several Judges Guild publications, including Traveller star maps, issues of their magazine Pegasus, and surprisingly, many copies of Ready Ref Sheets, one of the JG items I've wanted for a while. I also grabbed a copy of Tales of the Caliphate Nights, a fantasy Arabian Nights setting book for True20 developed by Paradigm Concepts.

Back upstairs to the seminar room for "History, Panic, and History Panic", featuring Ken Hite and Jason Morningstar on the running a campaign in a historical setting without tears. This was another great seminar. Beedo wrote about the seminar in detail at Dreams in the Lich House, and Jason Morningstar posted the audio of all his Gen Con seminars on G+.

I missed out on meeting Beedo after the seminar; however, I did meet Trey of From the Sorcerer's Skull and got a copy of his setting book Weird Adventures.

At some point on Saturday, I found the Media Blasters booth. Although mostly known for anime, MB also releases Asian live-action movies, including Shaw Brothers kung-fu and Toho monster flicks. They had a stack of their new Godzilla vs. Megalon DVDs -- a week before the official release date -- for a show special price of $10.

Saturday night we met up with another set of people from our local gaming scene at The Ram. Following dinner, Mrs. Kaiju and I got together with D. and crew in the hotel bar for the start of an ongoing Gen Con campaign. D. ran the session and we used B/X characters. There was some talk of converting to AD&D for Part 2 next year, and converting up through the editions following. We all had a great time.

Sunday: Mrs. Kaiju and I met D. again for breakfast before going to the convention center. With no scheduled events for either of us, it was a day of wandering the Exhibit Hall for the final time this year.

I returned to the Troll and Toad bargain booth to find that much of their stock had been cleaned out, as if vultures had picked through it. Prices had gone to $1 an item. All of the longboxes were missing, with some scattered items left on the tables and a glut of d20 books remaining in the storage crates. I should have picked up more of the Judges Guild material the day before. Some good gaming books remained, so I purchased Argos and Zingara for the Mongoose Conan RPG and another copy of Caliphate Nights for a friend.

Wandering back toward the OSR booth, I saw a small group standing and talking in front of the tables. We had turned the corner before I realized that the skinny tie one person was wearing had to signify that it was Dr. Rotwang!. He and his wife were there chatting with Trollsmyth. We talked for a short time before moving on in our separate directions.

By 1pm, we decided to pack up and begin the trip back home.

This year's Gen Con had a strange vibe for me. Nothing went horribly wrong, most everything went smoothly. We even had some extra time at the show this year. Even so, it didn't feel like the usual full Gen Con experience. We were on the move a lot, going here and there, and still didn't see everything that I had hoped to see. Even so, we had very fun times with the usual crew that we meet up with. I played in two games (which doesn't seem like enough for a gaming convention). The highlights of the show were being with our local gamer friends and meeting very cool people we know though gaming blogs and G+.

The countdown begins for next year!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Three New Mario Bava DVDs/Blu-rays

Two weeks ago, Kino Lorber released three DVDs and Blu-rays of director Mario Bava's films Black Sunday, Hatchet for the Honeymoon, and Lisa and the Devil/House of Exorcism. These had been previously released on disc by Image, and new editions of more Bava films should be on the way from Kino soon.

Of these three releases Black Sunday is the one to check out first, as an important film in the history of horror cinema. You can find my observations about the film here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Season of Monsters

As a kid, September was a drag because it meant the end of summer vacation and back-to-school time. What got me through was thinking about October following after.

I never thought of October as my favorite month, although it is fun. It wasn't so much about costumes and Trick-or-Treat-ing for me; instead, it was all about haunted houses and the plethora of monster movies and specials shown on TV at Halloween time. That doesn't happen so much anymore on network television, aside from the marathons on Turner Classic Movies. With some luck, I might get my Cult Classic movie series restarted this month.

Later this week: the third and final installment of my Gen Con report, and new DVD/Blu-ray releases.