Category Archives: Movies

Update – The RPG History Project

As I have mentioned multiple times [see below], I am a backer of the Patreon for the RPG History Project.

I got permission from Pat Kilbane to mention two dates in the latest backer update.

  1. The last of the interviews will be recorded during Gary Con in March.
  2. There will be an announcement of the film’s title in April.

It’s getting closer to the finish line, and the other two D&D documentaries are still in legal limbo. Support this Patreon and help get this one out faster!

Please consider helping Pat and crew get this film done sooner.

Pat also does other videos on various aspects of RPGs, such as how strength and hit points translate to the real world.

My Articles to Date on The RPG History Project:

Rebuilding Trust

Tim Kask – First 5 years at TSR

The Great Kingdom Mess

Patreons I Support

My posts from Gary Con last year:

One

Two

Three

 

Hard Work Sometimes Pays Off

My boss appreciates me jumping in and picking up after two people on another team resigned in the same two week period.

He’s only been my boss about seven months. He gave me an Amazon gift card to show appreciation. I used that to knock some items off my Amazon wish list, and also splurged when it didn’t cover everything. [In the nearly two months since I drafted this article, I got another Amazon gift card from my boss, and an appreciation Amazon gift card from our division VP. ]

I’d been wanting a copy of the Rankin & Bass The Hobbit, and the other cartons of the era. I don’t have many DVD’s, as there are not a lot of movies that I want to watch multiple times. Some that I have, I have fond memories of them, but I watch them again, and it doesn’t seem like the movie I recall. I remember the whole family gathering around the TV to watch The Hobbit, I miss those days.

Unfortunately, I have yet to watch all of these movies, and with all the chaos of moving my office and adding three people to my house, I don’t know where they are at the moment. I did squeeze in The Hobbit last night.

The Hobbit
The Hobbit
Return of The King
Return of The King
Lord of The Rings
Lord of The Rings

I also splurged to get the table top Hobbit and Lord of The Rings, two hefty volumes. I haven’t had time to just sit and enjoy them. At least I know that they are on my nearly organized gaming shelves.

Art of The Hobbit
Art of The Hobbit
Art of The Lord of The Rings
Art of The Lord of The Rings

 

Ant Man

I saw Ant Man yesterday. It is a good movie and I really enjoyed it.

After it was over I reflected on a couple of points in the movie. The second one made mention of something from the first, but the second mention required the character to know something that was not shown. I suspect it will be shown as a deleted scene in the DVD that was cut to make a bigger surprise.

I was purposefully vague about these points because I don’t like reviews that repeat the movie, book, or whatever. A review shouldn’t regurgitate a movie, especially since so many trailers grab some of the best parts of a movie. Any spoilers then leave little to the imagination. Why go spend money on a movie when the surprise is ruined?

I never read an Ant man comic. I have seen cartoons from the 90’s and later with Ant Man, so I know a bit of the back story.

What I like about the Marvel movies, is that they give enough of the back story, so that one does not need to know all the details from the comic books. If you have not read any of the Ant Man comics, or think Ant Man is a dumb idea, try this movie anyway. It is fun, entertaining, and action packed.

As with all the other Marvel movies, you will want to wait until the end of the credits.

The Conquereor – 1956

The medievalist.net has an article calling The Conqueror, starring John Wayne as the worst movie ever made.

It depends on what qualities you are judging this movie. John Wayne as Timojin, AKA Genghis Khan is a stretch. The acting and script may not be the best, but the action scenes, as I recall them from 30+ years ago were a lot of fun. I only saw the movie once.

I watched the trailer and the cavalry charges and other fighting scenes are cool. The clip with the dancers wasn’t bad either. Of course, my judgement is as a 1950’s action movie. There is action and adventure and challenges to the hero. There is also a love interest.

I don’t think this is the worst movie I have ever seen. I think it is one that I will track down and watch again. It fits a lot of the stereotypes of the fantasy adventure genre of RPG’s. If you play D&D or a similar FRPG, this movie should be a fun little diversion.

R.I.P. Blaine Gibson – Disney Imagineer

Today, I saw a post on my sister’s FB wall that our maternal grandmother’s cousin, Blaine Gibson, died.

Many don’t know his name, but he is a credited artist in several Disney cartoons: Fantasia, Bambi, Song of the South, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, and One Hundred and One Dalmatians, and others.

His desire was to always be an animator, but when Walt Disney found out that his hobby was sculpting, Walt made Blaine the chief sculptor.

Blaine always sent hand made Christmas cards to my dad and others, with sketches of him walking his dog in the snow. He also sent a nice color sketch to my parent’s for their 40th Anniversary.

As a sculptor, his first famous work was the head of Abraham Lincoln for the audioanimatronic exhibit at the 1964 World’s Fair. He went on to do the heads of all the presidents, except Obama, and came out of retirement to add H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and G.W. Bush. His apprentice did Obama. My mom’s favorite story from Blaine about creating all the audioanimatronic heads was the response from a glass eye manufacturer when asked for pairs of glass eyes. The mere idea was absurd and took some convincing that it was a serious request.

He also did the sculpture, Partners, that has Walt and Mickey holding hands.

The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and other figures also relied on his sculpting talent.

I wonder how many more of the rides and attractions with your sculpted heads will be made into movies?

Hall of Presidents? Partners?

Way back in fourth grade we had to write a letter to someone and have them write us back. Getting a letter back from a real Disney artist with a sketch of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck on official Imagineer paper was a big hit. I wish I still had his letter. I do still have the sketches.

Cousin Blaine will be missed. He was the last of his generation on that side of the family.

As the keeper of the family tree started by my parents, it is with sadness that I enter the last piece of information about Blaine. He is survived by his son and grandson, who will miss him most of all.

Mickey Sketch
Mickey Sketch

Several news outlets mentioned him:

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/disney-670361-walt-sculpted.html

http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/blaine-gibson-designer-of-lifelike-robots-at-disney-pa-1716008151

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/06/blaine-gibson-dead_n_7732992.html

http://www.themeparkinsider.com/flume/201507/4646/

http://thedisneyblog.com/2015/07/05/disney-legend-blaine-gibson-has-died/

He doesn’t have his own Wikipedia page, but has an IMDB and d23 pages, and is mentioned on lots of other Wikipedia pages.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0316863/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm

https://d23.com/blaine-gibson/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Moments_with_Mr._Lincoln

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disney_Legends

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Disney_Main_Street_window_honors

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deaths_in_2015

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hall_of_Presidents

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Disney_Gallery

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_a_Small_World

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Haunted_Mansion_characters

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disney_Partners_Statue

Battle of Waterloo – 200 Year Anniversary June 18, 2015

It’s approaching 200 years since the founding of three communities in Missouri, since it is also 200 years since the Battle of Waterloo, on June 18. I assume these three towns were founded or named not long after the battle. I wonder if any other groupings of 3 communities happened after that battle.

One time, my mom related how she was talking with her father’s aunt Elsie, and were talking about Wellington, MO. When my mom asked where it was, Elsie replied, “Between Napoleon and Waterloo.” My mom broke out laughing to an unamused blank stare.

Napoleon and 600 troops escaped Elba on February 26, 1815, and landed on the south coast of France on March 1, 1815. Napoleon entered Paris on March 20, 1815, which marked the beginning of the Hundred Days, which were actually 111 days, that ended July 8, 1815.

I want to break out my Avalon Hill board game, Waterloo. I haven’t played it in decades. My brother, Robert, and I played somewhat frequently, back in the 80’s, and took turns as the French or the Allies, and were tied at who won as each side.

The movie, Waterloo, with Rod Steiger, Christopher Plummer, and Orson Welles is an interesting look and details many of the major events of the battle. I’m in the mood to watch it again. I haven’t tried very hard, but I’m not finding this movie online in one complete piece that I can watch in one go. I am considering buying a copy on DVD, if they are available. {Yikes! $52.00 on Amazon, or $21.00 for a used one! I’m not sure I want to watch it that badly! ]

Here is an interesting article on a diorama built in the 1970’s and restored in time for the 200th anniversary.

I was 11, almost 12 on July 4th, 1976. The Bicentennial was a big deal, and in 5th grade we had a unit on the American Revolution. I’ll be a few months shy of 51 in June. Thinking about the 39 years since 1976 and how much has happened, helps put in perspective how much happened between 1776 and 1815. February marked the 200th anniversary of the end of the War of 1812. Some have argued that if not for the British being tied up with the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, that the young American Republic would have once again been a colony of Britain. Speculative fiction and setting an RPG in such a situation could be interesting.

Way back in college, I wrote a paper about how Europe would be much different had Napoleon not risen to power. Napoleon’s actions led to the end of the Holy Roman Empire and the rise of Austria-Hungary. The rest of the German states were consolidated into far fewer separate countries, which simplified the rise of Prussian power and influence, and German unification in the 1870’s. The list of such things is a long one. One can easily see how the actions of The Congress of Vienna helped set the stage for events that would lead to WWI, and 100 years later the incomplete resolution of WWI leading to WWII. The Cold War after WWII has lead to the current problems in Europe, and the potential powder keg of Ukraine, which is 100 years after WWI. Three, four, or five generations is all it takes for major events to seem to “repeat” themselves.

In any RPG setting, one can see how the short-lived humans can muck things up by not remembering lessons from the past. In the lead up to WWI they had telegraph, telephone, trans Atlantic cables, and early radio for communication; and the lag time of getting news out was hours or less, and still things escalated. In a fantasy setting, there might be long lived gnomes, dwarves, and elves, but humans are wont to ignore the wisdom of elders.

If the races that were involved in issues 100 years ago are still represented by living eyewitnesses, it does not stop us from ignoring it. Some groups led by wise rulers, might listen, but there could be all sorts of reasons to ignore such advice. While real history has lots of complex issues involved, there is still a tendency to forget or ignore similar issues in the past, and familiar patterns emerge. One need not detail lots of historical events, but develop a general series of wars, invasions, and other disagreements that ebb and flow in similar patterns over the ages. Mix in how humanoids and demi-humans affect the mix, and you can come up with your own interesting blend that explains why your world is the way it is.

Other posts touching on my use of the board game Waterloo: No.1, No. 2.

Star Trek – Transporter Technology Is Far More Powerful Than Any Of The Series Explored

Transporters are more than just for transportation.

The full potential of transporter technology was touched on briefly in a couple of episodes. Forget the episode where someone grabbed something out of the stream in TNG. How can someone reduced to their component molecules do anything? SMH

They can be used to combat all disease. You break someone down to the molecular level and put them back together and you can’t leave out the crazy germs from the planet below? Quarantine is only needed if you travel to and from the planet surface by shuttle. Even then, avoid two or three weeks in quarantine – just run them through the transporter.

Cancer? Just run them through the transporter.

Dementia? If it is from the build up of plaques, just run them through the transporter.

Heart disease? If there is a build up of a blockage, just use the all-mighty transporter.

One can be practically immortal. Even if they are killed, clones are no big deal. Run an appropriate amount of mass through the transporter and generate the last scan of the deceased, and there you have it, no more death.

The computing power alone is immense. Being able to store the data to transport 6 or more crew is more data than has been stored to electronic media to date.

Any major injury is easy to fix, use he technology of the transporter to mend bones, fix tears in arteries and veins, and ruptures in organs.

If it is possible to disintegrate a person and put them back together, then aside from metaphysical, religious, and philosophical arguments about the soul and what it means to be a person, no one would ever die again. I think of the Daffy Duck, Duck Dodgers cartoon where he steps into the disintegrater and emerges from the re-integrater.

The wealthy and powerful would have ultra secure computers to store scans of their younger selves in peak condition, and there would be a way to blend the healthy younger brain with current memories and knowledge. This would give rise to people hundreds of years old with the body of a 25 year old. They could even allow themselves to age for a few years, then use the transporter to refresh their bodies. They could work to reach a peak physical condition and make that their new baseline body.

The only injury one could not recover from is one that destroys all transporter scans of an individual. This would make the computers responsible for transporters the most secure and well defended. If anything happens to the computer responsible for handling all the data, even if the device itself is fully functional, no one could manage to make it work.

If one takes the idea of a transporter to its logical conclusion, you end up with something far more powerful and valuable than the plot device invented to limit TOS special effects budget.

I have not read a lot of the books and novels based on Star Trek, so I don’t know if this was ever explored, or retconned to say that the Federation and its allies have their transporters programmed to not allow this. However, what would stop the enemies of the Federation from doing so? there is always some rogue element in every society that uses things in a way that the rest of society considers immoral.

I read a science fiction short story, I don’t recall the name of the story or the author, back in high school or college, where they finally had the technology to revive those who had been frozen until cures could be found. The main character had to take care of his great-great grandmother or something. She was young and beautiful, and it touched on his thoughts of incest. I don’t recall if it got into actually acting on it. It turned out that those brought back were merely the shells of the actual individual and that some alien forms that did not have bodies had inhabited them and they went on killing sprees, eating their victims. They were able to access some of the memories of the deceased. I recently saw a preview online for a movie that explores this and a woman brought back from death is not really the woman. That was a few weeks ago and I don’t recall the name of that one either.

Talk about the walking dead….

Rakshasa

As a kid I remember watching Kolchak the Night Stalker, the movies and the TV show. I don’t recall all the details, but have been watching the TV show online. I managed to find the movies from before the TV show on YouTube and watched them. If you are interested in watching these, then spoiler alert!!

The other day, I watched an episode that dealt with a rakshasa and the method of slaying them was a blessed crossbow bolt, as it is in the AD&D Monster Manual.

I found that interesting. I am not familiar with most of Indian mythology. There are times I wish I had footnotes for the source, or the inspiration used for these creatures. Until the Monster Manual, were any of these monsters from myth and legend in any single book?

I find that the Night Stalker series gets a bit repetitive, but having him be the only one or nearly the only one who gets what is going on, makes it interesting. With all the creatures he killed, what level would he be?

Going from memory, and I have not finished the series, he has killed two vampires, one werewolf, one zombie, and one rakshasa. There are other creatures, but some I don’t recall, or they do not have a creature stated. I’m not going to stat out creatures for this exercise. Assuming average hit points, I came up with 5,265 experience points which is halfway through 3rd level fighter. Since AD&D does not reward as much XP for monsters, this is reasonable. Karl never gets any treasure, and is the reluctant hero because he knows the truth and if no one is going to do anything about these creatures, then he must do it. Karl’s only reward is that he has save the city or the world.

In some shows, he does not kill the creature, but drives them off, or for the android episode, tries to help. In the electricity monster he gets people to listen, but the usual cover up, similar to the first movie with the vampire, is of no benefit to him.

So after two TV movies and one season of a TV show, I would estimate he earned the experience to be a 5th level fighter, perhaps 6th. If a thief, it would be higher. He did not use magic or pray to the gods, but did use items blessed by others, or had others bless an item. Karl does not gain in proficiency in fighting, but rather uses his mind. He is more like a sage out to do good based on his experience, knowledge, and research.

I can see how these shows can give ideas for a “modern fantasy” setting, or some variation on a science fiction or horror genre.

This show also takes me back to sitting around the TV as a family and talking about the show during the commercials. Unlike today, where it seems that everyone has their own media device and the household is in their individual media world.