Found in the comments in a post by Chris Schwarz about Lost Art Press’ book By Hand & Eye, this is really great: Divide into equal parts. Very cool.
Reaper Bones – Satheras, Elf Warlock
I have been working on this figure for weeks, on and off. But I decided I needed to finish it so I could actually use it in my friend’s Dungeon World game. This is really the first figure I’ve painted to completion, and the first of our Bones Vampire reward level miniatures that I’ve painted.
I was attempting to get an inner glow on the crystal, but I think I need to work on my blending. I also trimmed the pointy elf hood to make it less, well, pointy. I think that worked well. And I’m really happy with the shading on the robes.
Although it has some issues, I’m quite happy with it. I have reigned-in my perfectionism and actually called something finished. This is actually a big deal for me.
Roll20.net for in-person games
I’ve been running a Dungeons & Dragons 5e game at work during lunch on Fridays, which has been quite fun, but also has a few challenges, one of which has been the participation of a player who frequently works offsite. Since we usually play in a conference room with a beautiful, big screen TV, I thought that using a virtual tabletop might help with that and some other issues. I decided to give Roll20.net a try, and after using it for two sessions, I’d say it’s working reasonably well.
If you haven’t heard of Roll20.net, they have some good introductory videos on youtube, including a Crash Course, and overviews for player and GM, and lots of good information in their wiki.
Star Trek Attack Wing – Star ship combat
Over winter break, I spent time reading through the space ship miniature combat games on Board Game Geek. I had no idea there were so many games. For example, check out the Tactical Startship Combat Geeklist. I have played a few of the more well known games, mostly at Carnage, including Star Fleet Battles, Federation Commander, and Firestorm Armada.
But I recently I’ve seen a number of discussions of the Star Wars and Star Trek themed star ship battle games that use the FlightPath maneuver system. It reminds me of Wings of War, to which my friend Ted introduced me some years ago. And because I have a number of Trek fans in my family, I treated myself to the Star Trek Attack Wing Starter Set.
Jamie and I played the quick start game, and then a game with the full rules. As you might expect with strategy games, Jamie won both battles. But there’s lots to like about this game. Not only is the FlightPath system quick and easy, but you add upgrades and crew to your ship(s) to provide additional capabilities and replay variety. It’s a lot of fun, very much in keeping with the Star Trek theme.
Of course, now I’m eyeing the next ships that I’ll be adding to the fleets. And I’ve even seen videos of people repainting their minis. Very cool.
Mythica, a low-budget indie fantasy movie
Those direct-to-DVD movies are usually disappointing, but this review from Alex Bledsoe has piqued my curiosity:
Hmmm. Might be worth checking out.
Winter storm of 2014
The wooded landscape has been transformed into a winter wonderland..
Everything is caked in sparkling snow. As you look closer, you notice the snapped trunks of the red pines, the fallen limbs of the white pines, the birches and beeches that have bent to the ground under the burden of ice and snow. The sky is a threatening grey.
Most painful to me is the damage to a relatively healthy elm; most of the top branches have broken, and doubt it can be saved. At least it won’t go to waster; we’ll cut it up and use it to keep warm next winter, maybe during a power outage, when our small wood stove is our only source of heat.
Speaking of power, I’m so grateful to the line crews that have worked for days to restore electric power to our communities, sometimes multiple times. We were without power from Wednesday night through last night, with a couple-hours of service on Thursday afternoon. For three days, we had no central heat, no running water, no phone service, no Internet access! We had our cell phones (not smartphones), but rationed their usage for contacting Green Mountain Power’s outage center, and for emergencies.
It was fun to cook creatively on the wood stove, eating down the food that we didn’t want to lose from the fridge and freezer. The pizza dough that Jamie made for Wednesday night turned into flatbread. Sausages and oatmeal, french toast and bacon, we definitely worked the breakfast theme.
I was really intrigued by the way our daily rhythms changed. We went to bed early — 7:30 pm early — feeling very tired, and awoke at 5 or 5:30 and set about getting the wood fire going again. I think there is something restorative about living in a way that reflects the changes in daylight. I know we’re going to return to the work-drive schedule of the modern world, but I may try to be more aware of how the diminished light affects my level of activity.
Now we need to replenish our emergency supplies, and give some thought to ways to work around some of the more difficult parts of this outage.
Thanksgiving prep and snow
I got a bunch of cooking prep done yesterday, including cutting up the turkey, making vegetable stock and brine for the turkey, and then roasting the turkey trimmings and making turkey stock for use today in the stuffing and gravy.
Meanwhile, the snow continued to fall for most of the day, and we awoke to a foot of snow in some places.
I hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving with family and friends.
Response to “Violence is Easy, Sex is hard.”
My friend Adam, the Tenor Dad, recently wrote a post Violence is Easy, Sex is Hard which describes the evolution of his thoughts around the violent and sexual content of movies that he chooses let his children view. It’s a thought-provoking post, and I find myself disagreeing wholeheartedly with him on several points, so I thought I’d respond with a post of my own.
I recall seeing a young boy at a PG-13 film being terrified by the trailer for The Mummy Returns, which features some very graphic, scary monsters, and stabbings and shootings aplenty. I was surprised that parents would bring their young child (five-ish, if memory serves) to a PG-13 film and expose him to such frightening imagery. I also think it’s ridiculous that bare breasts can bump a movie up to an R rating, but decapitations and disembowelings only warrant a PG-13.
I haven’t made great choices all the time, though. I let my son watch the Lord of the Rings movies too early. He did a really good job of letting me know when a scene was too scary, and we’d skip it. What I found interesting was that he wasn’t afraid of goblins or orcs, Sauron or the Balrog. He was frightened by Frodo getting stabbed on Weathertop, and by the hill man swearing a blood oath to Saruman (cutting his palm). Even when you think you know what will be frightening or intense for your child, you may surprised.
Violence is easy?
It’s easy because you’ve taken a very simple stance; it’s always bad. But an answer like “violence is always wrong” feels oversimplified and hard to reconcile with real-world experience.
Would you defend yourself or your family with violence? Would you intervene physically in defense of someone who is being attacked? Police officers and military forces injure and kill in the defense of our communities and our nation, but that isn’t without its own problems. How does your family’s faith or philosophical tradition inform your choices about violence?
Now, I wouldn’t stop the film to have a deep conversation about this when Peter Parker beats the snot out of Flash Thompson, nor when Iron Man is liberating the town of Golmira. But you definitely could talk about lots of things. Only in the movies does the bullied science geek get bitten by the radioactive or GMO spider. What options do bullied kids have in real life?
The first Iron Man movie had strong connections to the war in Afghanistan, and there’s lots to talk about there, too.
Sex is hard?
America’s prevailing attitudes towards sex are at the same time puritanical and prurient. Sex — the glamorous, airbrushed, tidy kind — is used to sell everything. Everything. The clothing styles that are marketed to school-aged girls often imitates the sexually provocative styles of adults.
But we can’t show naked bodies; naked means sex.
But really, it doesn’t. News flash: seeing naked bodies doesn’t harm kids. Kids have bodies, and know that other people have bodies that are more or less similar. Kids can handle appropriate information about what they see. In fact, they might have an easier time with body image related self esteem if they saw more normal bodies to balance out the fake, unrealistic ones the media bombard us with every day.
When my son was old enough to use the computer by himself, we had several conversations about things you might see by accident on the Internet. It went something like “if you see a picture of a naked person, let me know. Sometime grown-ups share pictures like that, but they aren’t meant for children.” We tried to be pretty matter-of-fact about it. We also kept the computer in the family room so we weren’t far away.
In the same way that I don’t think a discussion of the geopolitics of the middle east is necessary context for watching Iron Man, I don’t think you need to talk about monogamy with your seven-year-old just because Tony Stark and Christine Everhart have a consensual one-night encounter, or about slut shaming when Pepper Potts says that she does everything for Mr. Stark, including “taking out the trash.” I doubt any questions would even come up, but if they did, you could answer in an appropriate way. Maybe something like:
Sometimes, you might play with the kid you’ve just met at the beach for a wonderful afternoon, and then never see her again. Or maybe you see her at school sometimes, but don’t really want to play or hangout again, and that’s OK. When grownups play, sometimes they do the same thing.
Pepper was a little rude to Christine, but I think she was feeling hurt. She really likes Tony and wishes she had gotten to snuggle with him. I think Christine was rude first, but you know how two wrongs don’t make a right.
So give enough information at an appropriate level to answer questions or to share important values. No need to psychoanalyze Tony.
For me, the harder part of Iron Man might be the torture scenes during Tony’s captivity. That’s much more intense and important to the story than the bedroom scene. Or the Ten Rings terrorizing the citizens of Golmira, or Stane’s clean-up crew murdering the Ten Rings mercenaries (off camera).
I’m also thinking about the British TV shows that I enjoy, many of them mysteries and police procedurals. Many of them show a breast here, a buttock there, uncovered naked people in the morgue. (I even saw a penis, once! ) It seems much more natural and reasonable to me.
It’s been a while since I watched it, but I can only think of a handful of sexually suggestive scenes in Ghostbusters.
- The ghost that undoes Ray’s belt and fly, and (off camera) goes down on him. (was he dreaming?)
- Peter visits the possessed Dana Barrett, and she tells him that she wants him inside her.
- Luis and Dana appear disheveled (Luis’ fly is down), presumably after having had sex to summon Gozer the Gozerian.
Maybe there’s something more salacious that I’ve forgotten, but I’m betting most of that would go over the head of a seven-year-old. And if she asks what’s going on you can say:
- Ray’s dreaming about grown-up sexy touching with a ghost.
- She possessed, and either she wants to have sex with him, or she wants to eat him.
- The demons that possessed them — oh look, now they’re dogs — had to do some magic to open the gate and summon… Gozer the Gozerian
I don’t think sex always has to be as complicated as you suggest, Adam. I think the violence we are steeped in as a culture makes it seem easy to deal with, even when we argue against it. Often the violence in stories and movies makes a clearer distinction between the virtuous and the villainous than we have in real life.
On the other hand, we have a culture that denies the inherent sexuality of children and young people, while at the same time fetishizing and sexualizing youth. People accuse loving parents who share photos of their own children without clothes of making kiddie porn. People (mostly women) have laser removal of pubic hair and surgeries to make genitals more youthful. It’s contradictory and confusing, and yes, complicated.
But you don’t have to explain all of it. Just enough honest information to answer the question or address the concern that emerges at the time.
I hope this makes some kind of sense.
The Secrets of Cats (FATE CORE)
Now this looks like fun, reminiscent of John Wick’s Cat.
The Secrets of Cats: A World of Adventure for FATE CORE is an urban fantasy/horror setting for use with Evil Hat’s FATE CORE and FATE CORE ACCELERATED in which the players take on the roles of sentient mystical felines who save mankind from the powers of darkness!
Dungeons & Dragons blogs
So many gaming blogs, so little time. But ENWorld posted a list of particularly useful blogs recently, and I’m finding lots of good content among them. For example, I found DM David’s exploration of the Inspiration mechanic really interesting.