The Neil is coming!

I’m excited. I managed to get tickets to a speaking event with my all time favourite author. The one, the only, the infinitely estimable Neil Gaiman. It’s my birthday present to myself. I can’t wait!

I’m way more excited for this than knowing  that both David Tennant and Matt Smith will be at the comic con this weekend. I’m a huge Doctor Who fan but even that pales in comparison to The Neil.

I’ve never drank deeply from the kool-aid offered by the cult of celebrity. I understand that they’re just people and while I respect their work and it’s contribution to my imagination, I just feels off to me to idolize them.

All that being said, I am definitely doing just that with Neil and I  have with other authors. I remember meeting Guy Gavriel Kay just after he released Ysobel and was practically dumbstruck trying to articulate the profound effect his works had on me. I dont really have an explanation. I guess I’ll always be a bigger book nerd than tv nerd.

I’m okay with this.

A Problem Unwritten

Well, I just looked at my stats and as of this post, I’m sitting with more posts in the past three months than I have written in the past 9 years prior to that.

I’m somewhat proud of myself for this. I may not be posting daily, or even weekly, but I am posting and actually making time to write a post and to formulate ones in my head. In fact I know I had a post I wanted to write instead of this one, but I’ll be damned if I can remember what it was.

I am aware that not many people are reading this any more (an average daily visitor count of 2-3 tops) but this doesn’t overly bother me. I didn’t do this originally for other people’s entertainment. I did it as an outlet for my own creativity and as a personal catharsis. If you care to come along for the ride, you’re more than welcome. If not, it’s no big deal either.

I’ve noticed that a lot of my more recent posts (this one included) tend to be somewhat more introspective than those I posted in the past.  I don’t really have a solid answer as to why that is. Maybe it’s fatherhood. Maybe it’s the state of the world these days. Maybe it’s age. It’s certainly not wisdom (that’s a dump stat).

I can’t say why, but I’m not going to stop. The muse says write, and I write. If the words tumble out of my brain and turn introspective, I’m not going to say otherwise. I’m just the vessel. Along for the ride. Let’s see where we go.

Shameless Self-Promotion

In case the picture of a metal D20 in the top left corner didn’t clue you in, I’m a bit of a geek. Specifically, I’m a roleplayer and like all roleplayers I desire a place to roll my dice in style.

To that end, I’ve wanted a gaming table to set up in my place for some time (since I was like, 12). Last year, there was an amazing kickstarter called the Table of Ultimate Gaming that suited the bill just right. I backed without hesitation and it would have been glorious… except it was a bit more expensive than I would have liked and after some serious self-reflection and adult conversations with myself, I backed out and missed out. Part of me regrets that decision still.

However, the dream has not died. One day, I will have both the gaming room and the table to go in it. Because the nice folks over at Table of Ultimate gaming are mind readers and fellow geeks and they want to help me out, they decided to run a contest and another kickstarter for a new table style they’ve created. I figured I would enter and see if I could get lucky. If you’re a gamer yourself, I highly suggest you follow this link and enter for yourself.

“Dovie’andi se tovya sagain.”


Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once and awhile, you may miss it.

Ferris Bueller… You’re my hero.

He’s not wrong.

My two girls started the new school year this week. Grade 7 for the eldest, grade 4 for the youngest. Like all parents who look at their kids at this moment as they head off to school or board the bus, I too got a dose of “Holy shit, my children have grown so much!”.

Time is a subtle bastard. He sneaks up on you when you least expect it and bumps you just hard enough to jostle your comfy rose coloured glasses off and as you look around in a daze, you catch a glimpse of reality in the harsh light of day and see your children, not as you always see them: as your little girls, but as the young women they are quickly becoming.

It can throw you for a pretty big loop because you’re not expecting it. One moment, you’re holding this tiny infant in your arms, bursting with love and the next they’re giving you the universal teenage brush-off to signify how uncool you are: “Whatever, dad.”

Thankfully the eldest hasn’t fully crossed to the dark side yet and five minutes later she’s back to “I love you daddy. Can we play Little Big Planet together?” One of these days though, I’ll blink and even that will be just a memory. Ahh, Time, you bastard. I hate you just a little bit in times like this, but at the same time, without that subtle jostling, I wouldn’t see the beauty right in front of me and cherish the moments I do have.

No. You shut up! I’m not crying. You’re crying….

Errr. Anyways. I’m just going to sit in the corner here clinging vainly to the false hope that they’ll always be my little girls. At least until the next time Time comes along and knocks me spinning…

Enjoy The Silence?

So, Tam and the girls went down to the states for a week to visit her mom on her birthday. Due to blackout restrictions at my work, I wasn’t able to make it.

While I was sad to not be going and enjoying some quality fam-jam time, the introverted nerdy recluse that lurks in the core of my being secretly reveled in a week without the wife or kids.

My week of bachelor life however started off to mixed results. I woke up on the Saturday and managed to pull a stupid: I locked myself out of the house. I knew I’d done it the second I closed the door behind me. Yay for having to climb in my kids bedroom window. Double yay for not having the neighbours call the cops on me.

Thankfully, the afternoon turned out somewhat better. Managed to have a few of the guys over and we played board games for most of the evening. Not something that I regularly get a chance to do, and the fact that we all had piles of shame we needed to work through was incentive. I would have liked to get through more, but we’re not as young as we used to be.

The rest of the week passed somewhat uneventfully. I mostly just worked and came home to an empty house. Too empty to be honest. When I’ve been alone in the past, I’ve thought nothing of it. It’s part of the background. This time though, there was definitely silence. Sure, the cats were racing about being shitheads, but the lack of people in the house was definitely noticable and once I noticed, it became somewhat disconcerting.

You know that feeling you get when you’re alone and your mind starts playing tricks on you and your imagination goes into overdrive? Yeah? Picture that amplified over a whole week. I’m not ashamed to admit that I slept with a light on. It didn’t help the silence, but as I’m a hardcore Doctor Who nerd nothing really does…


Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that as much as I’m a nerdy introvert, having a connection to the world is a necessity. The noise and chaos of my life has become part of who I am and without it, I don’t feel normal.  Who knew?!?!

A Night of Games & Geekery.

As an kid I dreamed that as an adult I would sit around a table with my friends every weekend and we’d roll dice, slay monsters, rescue princesses (metaphorically… cause as a nerd kid I had no idea what to do with a princess when I rescued them), and generally nerd out to our hearts content.

As an adult, that dream was dragged into an alley by reality and beaten senseless with responsibilities, jobs, honey-do lists, and life. I blame reality for the state of my adult life. I hold a grudge.

These days, my friends and I are lucky to get together once a month (or every other month) to roll our dice, slay our princesses and fly away in a facsimile millennium falcons. If we’re extra lucky, we’ll get together prior to our RPG sessions and play a couple of board games that we’ve collected.

Recently, my wife was taking the girls down to the states to see her mom and that left me all alone for a week. My inner child rejoiced. The perfect opportunity to go hardcore like we did back in the day. An all day game session? Why yes please.

Sadly, reality took one look at my glee and bitch slapped me sideways. Not everyone else’s schedules coincided. An all day RPG fest was off the table as not enough people were going to be around to make it worthwhile.

However, enough people were interested in an evening of boardgames so some fun would at least be had. Boardgames are not  something that I regularly get a chance to do, and the fact that we all had piles of shame we needed to work through was incentive.  We managed to get through 3 off my bucket list. Sakura, Deja Vu: Fragments of Memory, and Planetarium. I was kind of hoping we’d get through a few more of mine and perhaps even get a game of Bloodbowl or Necromunda in but alas, time was not on our side and we’re not as young as we used to be.

Of the six that we played, my personal favourite was Planetarium. I enjoyed the concept of trying to create a planet and (potentially) messing with other people’s planets as well. I didn’t win, but I definitely had the most fun with it and would gladly play again. My next favourite was Yokohama. It’s a Japanese take on a worker placement game and it plays really well. Enjoyable, simple to learn, hard to master with multiple victory paths. Again, I’d gladly play it again.

While we tried to keep to games we hadn’t played before, Tiny Epic Defenders snuck in because the 2nd Edition and the expansion, made it a much more compelling game to play. We did not win that one and while I enjoyed it and would play it again, it doesn’t jump out as a “go-to” game that I’d play. Definitely better than the 1st Edition though.

Sakura was an interesting, simple trick taking game that took a little bit to master, but once we understood the card effects, it became a little more fun and a whole lot easier. I’d definitely play it again with a few more people but overall it falls in my “was fun but not spectacular” category.

I have mixed feelings about El Dorado. It is a gorgeous looking game and is well designed, fun and with it being tile-based, it definitely has replayability but I felt there was something missing. It lacked something, and I’m not sure what exactly. Even though I won the game, it fell a little flat for me. It wasn’t the best game I’ve played. Either there was something we missed in the rules, or something that will be addressed in the forthcoming expansion. I don’t know. I’ll certainly give it a go again just to see though.

The final game on our list, Deja Vu, was visually very pretty with an anime-esque art style, but a frustrating game to play. A lot of that frustration stemmed from the rulebook not being concisely translated into English so there were paragraphs that didn’t make sense and then became contradicted two paragraphs on. Once we figured out the basics, it became a little more strategic and a little more fun, but I was definitely underwhelmed by the game itself. Oh well. Live and learn.

Next time the wife’s away, I’m going to take reality out back and shoot it. I needs me a nostalgic game night.

The Forest Was Looking Rather Grimm

Tonight was game night. Again one of those cosmically aligned nights that allowed us all to socialize with each other as a family instead of basking in the glow of various electronic devices. Sadly days like these are too few and far between so I grab them at every opportunity. Nobody complains too much anyways, it’s just another chance for them to pick on daddy.

Tonight we delved into the faerie tale realm of The Grimm Forest. A wonderfully fun game that I found on Kickstarter last year and have had the pleasure of playing about 5 or 6 times now, both with my usual gaming crowd as well as a couple of times around the family table.

The game premise is pretty simple. You’re the nieces and nephews of the 3 Little Pigs. The aforementioned Trio are retiring and it’s your job to impress the king with your building skills. First piglet to build 3 houses gets the job.

As in the classic tale you can build from either straw, wood or brick. And as this is a faerie tale, there are some non-standard building obstacles that you might come across, such as giants and dragons, bridge trolls and of course, the big bad wolf. Thankfully their are also some friends such as Rapunzel, Tom Thumb, Rumpelstiltskin etc to help you (or hinder the other players) along the way.

It’s a pretty simple game to learn and while not hard to master, there is definitely some strategy in it that allows for replayability. My 8 year old asks for the occasional clarification on what the friends cards effects are, but once she knows, It’s really all downhill from there as she’ll invariably use the card to great advantage (usually against me).

It doesn’t take up a lot of real estate at the table  and set up and take down are a breeze with the built in trays inside the game.

Overall it’s a great game. 4/5 small medieval dictators agree that it should be played at every table.

 

And no… I didn’t win.

 

 

Paint Night!

My kids have been bugging me to have a paint night again. I haven’t painted anything since the last time I painted with the kids which was about a month ago, if not longer. The creative juices just haven’t been flowing in that direction lately. It’s  been more writing and adventure building in Star Wars than anything else but sometimes a change is needed because I could feel myself starting to burn out.

Recognising that need (plus the need to spend quality time with my children) is something I’m becoming much more acutely aware of and I try to act on it when I see it. It is often hard to arrange painting  around my work schedule but last night was one of those nights where the universe aligned in our favour. I gave them the option of painting or playing some board games and they chose painting. Who am I to get in the way of the creative urge.

The girls have long since decided that dad’s miniatures are cool but they would rather I paint them. They have been having more fun altering their littlest pet shop toys in  various colour schemes and then getting me to seal them. While i twitch a little at the “misuse” of my brushes and paints I would much rather they be doing this than playing on their phones all night watching puerile youtube videos.

So once dinner was cleared, we grabbed our gear and started to paint. It took me some time to focus, like I said the creative muse was not with me paint-wise, but I did eventually get in to a groove and put paint on minis.

I have so many ideas of what I want to paint I tend to be all over the place and put x colour on y miniature then rather than continue with the next colour on the same miniature I move onto a completely different miniature and different colour. The result is I often have a pile of 80-90%  completed figures that I should finish but don’t. Last night however I grabbed an old mini that has been sitting at the 40% mark for the past 10 years or so and started painting with the goal to finish it.

I broke out my new wet palette that I’d backed via Kickstarter and started painting. It was my first time using a wet palette and it was a dream. I’ve used palette paper lots but having the moisture that kept my paint from drying out was a godsend. It allowed for some very smooth blending of colours that I’d always have trouble with before. Unfortunately I did not get completely finished with the miniature but I’m a breath away from it and it makes me happy. I’ll post some pictures once I have access to the ones I took last night.

Yay for nerd nights!

 

                          

Edit: Obviously I’ve posted pictures. The Yhetee on the right is the miniature I was speaking about. He’s for my Norse Bloodbowl team that I’m slowly scratch building. He’s been a drab grey for the past 10 years. I’ve finally added some blue wash and increasingly blue-white highlights to him to bring him up. I still need to detail the face, talons and the couple of bones tied into his hair and then tidy up the accoutrements

The ghost on the left is a reaper miniature. He’s a better example of the wet blending I was talking about. He’s still not done either, but he only really needs his chains, eyes and a bit of tidy up here and there to be done.

In The Beginning…

Growing up I was shy, quiet and very reserved. These days, I’d be labeled an introvert but back when I was growing up I was a considered a nerd and had very few friends. I’d tried Hockey but it wasn’t for me. I’d tried Cubs and it wasn’t for me. I’d tried soccer and I liked it but I wasn’t amazing at it. While I was never picked on or harassed like the extreme end of the nerd spectrum, I wasn’t ever part of the cool kids cliques either. I was a blip on the school radar and that was it. Which made me very happy. I enjoyed the invisibility (though the slew of 80s teen movies had me secretly dreaming to be the hero of my own story). I  survived by telling stories inside my head and hanging with the few friends I did have.

My mind was a far better place than this drab reality that we currently subscribe to. My cousin had turned me on to Tolkien and Lewis and they fueled my early imagination. Narnia and Middle Earth were my homes away from home, along with Treasure Island and a thousand other fantasies. My imagination roamed these worlds created by others and dreamt of something more. Then, in the summer of ’84, I met a kid named Brian Henderson and everything changed. Continue reading “In The Beginning…”