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…”

Storied Dreams Come to Life

Multimedia adaptations of books have long been a thing. Some are successful. Some are not. Either because they only have a 2 hour window to visually depict a world that’s been described in detail in thousands of words or they deviate from the author’s vision or the fan’s expectations too much.

My favourite author, Neil Gaiman, has had a spate of recent adaptations of his works with a fair amount of success. Stardust was awesome. American Gods is a wildly fantastic show. Lucifer is decent. Neverwhere was great and even How to Talk to girls at parties was quirky and off-beat but cool just the same.

While rumours swirl constantly about Gaiman’s opus, a movie of Sandman, I can’t see it happening any time soon. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see it visualized, but I can’t see it being done with the right tone or with enough justice to the source material for it to be truly successful.

Another one of Gaiman’s works that I always thought would be difficult to adapt to the screen, was his collaboration with the late, great, Terry Pratchett. Good Omens. However, I was wrong. They’re doing it as a mini-series over at Amazon Prime. Not only that, but it has David Tennant (the 10th Doctor for those of you playing along at home) and Michael Sheen as two of the main characters.

Right then. I’m in and I’m looking forward to this. Moreso now that they released a teaser/trailer at this year’s Comicon. It looks amazeballs…. but don’t take my word for it.

 

 

Where Do We Go From Here?

So, you may have noticed that this post constitutes the fifth day in a row where I’ve added content to the site. *boggle*. I don’t think I’ve had a run this long since late 2010 or so. I’m not guaranteeing that I’ll post daily, but I am trying to update more regularly, even if it is only just a meme or something silly that catches my fancy.

As I said a few posts ago. I’m trying to keep the blog focused on writing, rpgs and painting. with the predominance being on roleplaying and painting which will hopefully lead to more creativity in the writing.

In my last post I showed off a recent WIP miniature that I’ve been working on and I expect to show more in time. My focus with miniatures is for fun and show. I always hated painting “bulk” armies. In fact I have a whole chapter of old Ultramarines kicking around my bitz bin that will probably never see a lick of paint by themselves because I just can’t stomach repetition.

Most of my painting lately has been on cool minis that I can use in my Star Wars campaign or just cool show pieces.I also have teams of Blood Bowl and Necromunda that I plan to paint for the new editions of those rules.

I don’t play D&D anymore, but I still love the cool and unique minis. The ones I like best are ones with some sort of dynamism to them. Whether it be a flowing cape or a non-standard pose, as long as it has character I’m usually attracted to it. Usually what gets me into trouble is I see an amazing painter’s work on a particular figure and I have to have it because I want to do the same thing. This can be frustrating as my skills aren’t there yet but I’m always trying to be better. One of these days I will master my airbrush, the wet-blending technique and paint OSL and NMM in my sleep.

My gaming recently has been intentionally limited. If I’m lucky and the stars align, my group gets together once a month for a couple of hours. Usually we’re playing in a Star wars campaign that I’m running using Fantasy Flight Games’ Edge of the Empire narrative rules. Occasionally we’ll play something else. If you’re at all interested, we (I) keep a campaign log over at Obsidian Portal.  It’s usually somewhat up to date.

When I’m not playing Star Wars, I’m more than likely involved in a new board game. While I’m not the most prolific board gamer, I still enjoy most of the ones I’ve played. One of these days, my friends and I will manage to play through every game we have at least once….. one of these days.

Right I think that’s enough babbling for one night. Off to bed.