Posted in: Comic Books, Conventions, Dungeons and Dragons, Reviews, Role Playing Games, Star Trek, Star Wars, Website

A bunch of geeky stuff on May 7th

So there were a bunch of geeky things planned for today. I thought that some of the events would make for an interesting blog post. This will cover several topics from comics to conventions to role playing games.

Art Con:

So first was something that I saw advertised on Facebook, and nowhere else. Art Con was going to be held on May 6-8 at the Salt Palace. This is the same location where FanX: The Salt Lake Comic Convention is held every year. Admission was free, but you had to sign up for tickets. It sounded like something that my geeky wife and my art inspired kids would be interested in attending. We would already be in the Salt Lake City area to help my college aged kid get her stuff out of the dorm, so we could swing by afterwards to check it out. Here are some photos I was able to sneak in while at the con.

At various conventions one of the attractions are the art shows and artist alley. You can see unique works of art (paintings mostly, but there have been other mediums). It is also an opportunity to meet various artists and see some inspiring ideas.

Art Con was advertised as a convention displaying art from Star Wars, Dungeons and Dragons, Harry Potter, DC & Marvel Comics, Star Trek and more. It sounded like it was going to be quite large. It was… quite disappointing. Instead of being in one of the convention halls, it was in two side rooms. You can see from the photo with the Darth Vader painting that the room was divided in half and you could walk past tables displaying reproductions of art for sale. Yes there were two artists there, but they were working on some actual paintings at the time and I didn’t feel comfortable going up and asking them questions or getting a photo. The photos above were of the largest pieces available at the con and none had been used in any actual publications that I was aware of. I was hoping to see something that had been in an art book or RPG manual. Yes there was a small print of a beholder, and a few other fantasy things, but nothing that I recognized. There was a lot of prints of various superheroes and anime characters on the toilet (that gag got old very fast). We were only in the room for an hour.

My college age art student actually got upset because some of the pencil drawings appeared to be from artists not at the event. Yes they were licensed to sell these IP items, but other than a large sale, there was nothing here. In the hallways outside the rooms, I saw a couple of cosplayers who looked disappointed. They got dressed up an there was nothing for them to express their cosplay. I think if this had been more of an actual convention instead of a yard sale, it would have been OK. As my oldest put it, if we had come down just for this, they would have been very upset. I’m wondering if they take this “event” from city to city as a traveling sales show? If they made it more like an “Artist Alley” where we could see many different styles of art from different artists that we could meet, I could see this being something we would want to attend more. As it was presented today, I doubt we’ll be back.

Free Comic Book Day:

We had skipped going to our local comic book stores for Free Comic Book Day to attend Art Con. Since that was a bust and we still had a ton of time left, the family decided to head to the Valley Fair Mall to see if we could hook up with some cosplay friends who were going to make an appearance at the Nerd Store. While we made it to the store, we had missed our friends. But I was able to pick up a free Doctor Who comic and a free issue of Red Sonja. My kids were able to pick up some comics as well. The store didn’t have any of the Star Trek or Star Wars comics that I was missing, so we checked out a few other stores before hitting the food court for lunch. One of the places was Hammond Toys and Hobbies. I had many memories picking up 1st edition and 2nd edition Dungeons and Dragons books there in the past. Unfortunately I didn’t see any RPG books now. It had been years since I had been in a Hammons.

Random RPG Book Club-May Delivery:

When we arrived home there was a package waiting for me. The May delivery of the Random RPG Book Club. Here is what was in the package.

Selection delivered in May 2022.

As you can see there was another hardbound book that came in. At first I thought it was duplicate of what I had in my collection. But I had the Dungeons and Dragons v3.5 Monster Manual, but this book is the 3.0 version of the Monster Manual. So this does fill a hole in my collection. Perhaps I could write up a comparison between the two books in a future blog entry.

The second book is The Strange In Translation: The Strange Character Options. It is a sourcebook for a roleplaying game called The Strange from Monte Cook Games. I had never heard of this RPG before so I have no idea how the system works. From my initial view through the book, it looks like it is of pretty high quality and art. If I can find out more about this game, perhaps I’ll write up a review.

I did look up both books on ebay and they were well above the $8.00 a piece mark. So the club continues to deliver what it promised.

An unexpected tip of the hat:

Apparently my blog has been inspiring. Thank you.

So yes it has been a geeky day with ups and downs. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got pizza waiting and an episode of Svengoolie and Creature Features to watch.

Oh, before I go. I’ve been working on some of the fan pages on this site. I’ve got more details for the FASA Star Trek RPG, the LUG Star Trek RPG and I’m working on fleshing out more of the website.

Posted in: Archer, Character Creation Challenge, Comic Books, Conventions, Cosplay, Doctor Who, Dune, Fan Club, Horror, Horror Hosts, Humor, James Bond, Movies, MST3K, Music, No One Lives Forever, Reviews, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Spy-Fi, Star Trek, Star Wars, TV Review, Video Game, Website

2021 is in the rear view, now onto 2022

So another year has come and gone and I am glad. While 2021 was not as bad as the year that shall not be named, it wasn’t the easiest. There are still some challenges in this world that I really hope that our society can come together to get past. I’m still trying to focus on the positives of the past year.

==Role Playing Games==

2021 started out with the first #CharacterCreationChallenge. Amazingly enough I was able to knock out 31 characters in 31 days. I loved reading all of the different responses that the other participants and even made a few new friends along the way. I’m looking forward to the 2022 Character Creation Challenge.

There was also the #RPGaDAY2021 Challenge during the month of August. I really had a struggle with this one, but I was glad that I had participated in it.

I also had a chance to finally play an online Star Trek Adventures game. We have a second session in our “one-shot” planned very soon. The kewl thing is, the game was announced with less than a 24 hour start time. I was able to use my Star Trek Adventures entry in the Character Creation Challenge to quickly drop into the game. Playing on just Zoom is difficult, but doable.

I also had some friends get me into an online Starfinder game that lasted several months (with 1-2 sessions per month). It was interesting, but it really turned me off using Fantasy Grounds as an online platform. It’s an app instead of a browser based system and it is a resource hog like nothing else. Even the players with high end computers were having issues. Unfortunately real life caused the game to end after a few months. The Starfinder system is ok, but a bit crunchy to what I’m use to. The Pathfinder in space mentality didn’t really appeal to me either. I know I was gaming more for the company than I was for the system and universe.

I still want to get into a D&D 5th edition game or a regular Star Trek Adventure game. I’d also prefer to get back together with gaming in person, but with the way the variants are running wild, I’m not certain that will happen any time soon. I’m open to an online game if the schedules can be worked out (the same old problems).

There were several new additions to my role-playing game collection. Between purchases and donations from friends I’ve been able to add to my gaming shelf. I also took advantage of several PDF sales. Instead of listing them all here, I’m planning to save them for my Character Creation Challenge entries. I also added to my dice collection including a special die.

==Video Games==

I’m still playing my old standbys of No One Lives Forever and Tron 2.0. However thanks to a gift card for GameStop (actually ThinkGeek) I was able to pick up a few other video games that I’m looking forward to trying out. I’ve been playing Balder’s Gate and it’s been… interesting. I think I might be playing it wrong.

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order has been good so far, but I think my daughter is enjoying it more than I am.

==Movies==

Even though it came out the year before, I had the chance to see Wonder Woman 1984 and I enjoyed it. I wished I could have seen it in the theater. 2021 was also the 25th Anniversary of the Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.

Through streaming I was able to enjoy Black Widow and Godzilla vs Kong (wish I could have seen this in the theater).

Finally getting back into the theater I was able to enjoy watching the latest James Bond movie. We finally saw the sci-fi epic Dune and loved watching the new Ghostbusters film. I still want to watch the latest Matrix movie, Spiderman movie and The King’s Man while they are in the theaters.

I’ve also watched a ton of cheesy sci-fi, fantasy and horror films on streaming services. Some were good, some were not so good.

==Television==

Creature Features held it’s 50th Anniversary. During the summer I had my photo aired on a segment of Svengoolie and my kid’s artwork promoted on Creature Features.

Netflix’s Army of the Dead was a good adventure. Amazon’s The Tomorrow War was interesting to watch. Ice Road was also interesting, but probably not a repeat watch. The Wheel of Time didn’t catch my attention at first, but slowly got a little better. I never read the books so I don’t know how it compares. I really enjoyed Foundation after I was worried how the books were going to translate to the screen. Invasion was an interesting concept, but starts out really slow. I’m glad I stuck with it. I need to finish Y: The Last Man and I’m really disappointed that we will only get one season of Cowboy Bebop.

Thank you What We Do In The Shadows, Archer and South Park for being funny. Crossed Swords was a challenge, but I was able to get into it. I’ve really enjoyed the animated Disenchantment series on Netflix. It was also good to see Animaniacs again.

On the Star Trek front, Star Trek: Prodigy has been interesting. I’ve also been enjoying Star Trek: Discovery as well. I really think that Star Trek: Lower Decks has knocked it out of the park. I am really looking forward to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. I wish there was more Short Treks. Wil Wheaton’s after show “The Ready Room” has been very enjoyable and informative.

Disney+ brought us several good entries for 2021. The Muppet’s Haunted Mansion was really, really good. I really wish that they would give us more Muppets Now. WandaVision and Loki were really good from the Marvel entries. Falcon and the Winter Soldier was ok. I haven’t seen the Hawkeye series yet but plan to sit down and watch it. I really liked the What If!?! series. On the Star Wars side, The Mandalorian continued to be great. Visions was ok, but I wish I hadn’t binged it since it probably would have been better in smaller doses. The Bad Batch was also enjoyable. There has only been one episode of The Book of Boba Fett so I’ll be watching to see where this goes.

Because I missed a lot of Doctor Who episodes while I was studying for college, I spent part of the year catching up. Not only was I able to complete this task, I was able to watch the latest season as it aired. I’m looking forward to the New Years Day special.

2022 will finally get us the third season of The Orville and I’m really looking forward to the next season of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

==Books and Comics==

I really enjoyed the Star Trek: Picard novel, Last Best Hope. There are several other books that I’ve been reading on my kindle and in dead tree format. I’ve been trying to read The Dying Earth series by Jack Vance as well but I haven’t completed them.

The War of the Bounty Hunters in the Star Wars comic series was good, but frustrating. I really wish that they had a better system to follow the flow of the story that spans across several publications. I felt like a few times I was re-treading over the same ground.

The Mirror Universe stories and Star Trek Year Five was really good from IDW Publishing. I’m looking forward to reading more of these stories.

Doctor Who, James Bond and The Orville was other comics I had been pulling from my local store.

==Cosplay and Conventions==

I was able to add the Admiral Picard uniform to my collection. I had a chance to wear this at FanX: The Salt Lake Comic Convention. It was the only con I attended in the year. Hopefully 2022 will be better convention wise. I’d love to get an Admiral Vance uniform from Star Trek: Discovery or a Monster Maroon from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. However those are long term goals.

==Live Events==

Thanks to 103.1 The Wave, we were able to take the family to Lagoon. With the vaccines helping out, we’ve been able to attend the Trans-Siberian Orchestra performance and the live Mystery Science Theater 3000: Time Bubble Tour. I’ve already got several concerts and events planned for 2022. The Beyond Van Gogh experience was probably the closest I’ll ever get to a holodeck experience. The Egyptian exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Utah was very enjoyable.

I was also interviewed on the radio for the Star Trek Day 2021. That was an interesting experience. But also not the first time I’ve been interviewed on the TV, Radio or even print.

Our Seventh Fleet and USS Ticonderoga meetings and events have been able to get back in person. This was a very good thing as we are a close knit Star Trek family. We’ve been able to grow and succeed because we get together and see each other’s smiling faces.

==Website==

I was able to get some photo albums online and I’ve added to them as I’ve found more photos. I’ve been able to keep to a regular schedule of several blog posts per week (counting the Star Trek Quotes listings). I should do more gaming articles and reviews of things I’ve watched/read/enjoyed. However, I still need to get some of the other sections of my website filled out. I’m a little upset with myself that I haven’t gotten more of the website completed. This will be a goal for 2022.

It’s good to have goals. I think I’m going to spend 2022 trying to achieve more of them.

Posted in: Community Service, Conventions, Cosplay, Fan Club, Rant, Star Trek

FanX after-con report

Salt Lake Magazine interviewed me at FanX 2021
Salt Lake Magazine interviewed me at FanX 2021

FanX: The Salt Lake Comic Convention was held at the Salt Palace on September 16-18. In my duties as Commander-in-Chief of Starfleet Command’s Seventh Fleet, I helped man the charity booth that we were running at the con. The club was raising funds for the Best Friends Animal Society of Utah.

While I was there, I was able to get some additional photos for my online photo gallery. I was also able to obtain some new Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars autographs for my autograph collection. Spending time with Larry Nemecek and John Eaves was a highlight of the convention. I was even interviewed by Salt Lake Magazine in one of their FanX video reports. The video is posted below.

Salt Lake Magazine interview

Some of the additional good things included how most people were following the health guidelines. Watching the attendees from the booth I’d say that 99% of the people were wearing masks. Hopefully enough people will take steps to make the conventions next year a safer event. I also really loved the wider aisles that were mapped out on the vendors room floor. While the con was still crowded (I was told that more tickets were sold for 2021 than 2019) it wasn’t crazy sardine packed on the vendors floor. I really hope that FanX keeps the wider aisles for future years.

I’m going to go a little bit on a soapbox here. I really think that autograph prices are getting way too high. There were several guests that I ended up skipping because I didn’t want to pay that much for a signature on a photo. I think that managers hear the term “Comic Con” and automatically hike the prices up by 30-50%. It also bugs me that the autograph prices are not advertised before the con so I can budget ahead of time. The con website posts the photo op prices, but the autograph prices are always listed as TBA. When I show up and find out that someone wants $90 for an autograph that I didn’t plan for in advance, I turn it down. Speaking of photos, what is the deal with charging for a selfie? Yes an autograph creates a value on an item that can be resold, so I can understand a guest charging for that. But you can’t really re-sell a selfie. All of the selfie-style photos that I have posted on this website were obtained without extra payment. While they are kewl and I thank the guest for posing with me, I don’t see myself paying for a selfie. If I wanted to pay for a photo with a guest, I’d get a professional photo done. End of rant.

After not being able to attend a convention for two years, it was good to see my convention friends and geek out. There are a certain number of people that I only see at these events. It was good to see who had kept themselves safe. I hope that things will get better so we can continue to have more events and conventions. The new uniform worked great and I may pick up a few more from that manufacturer.

Here are some of the photos that were taken at the con.

Posted in: Collecting, Conventions, Music, Sports, Star Trek

Why I collect autographs

I was thinking about this subject the other day and realized that it would make for a good blog post. I’ve been collecting autographs ever since I first met several members of the Utah Jazz at a mall in downtown Salt Lake City in the 80’s. The team was trying to drum up interest in fans and they had several of the players at a table signing autographs for anyone who happened to be there. I was able to get four of the five players who were present (the fifth had just run out of photos to sign). I still have memories of going through the mall to that chance encounter. It was one of the many of my teenage times when I would just go wandering off on my own not knowing what I would find while exploring.

Mark Eaton

As I started going to Star Trek conventions I had the opportunity to meet several different actors. Some I’ve been able to get photos with that I’ve added to my Star Trek Actor’s Photo Gallery. From these conventions I’ve been able to get autographs from several of the actors that I’ve seen on television and movies. To get an autograph, especially when you can see them sign it yourself, is to have something that they have interacted with. I will never forget meeting with James Doohan. Especially since he was staying in the hotel I was working in at the time. I was able to interact with him on the phone after the convention.

Jimmy Doohan

Not all encounters were pleasant ones. Sometimes you have to plan to attend conventions out-of-state, make arrangements to get something to sign, think about what you are going to say to the celebrity since you only get a few seconds with them (if you are lucky it could be a few minutes). At a convention in Los Angels I had the opportunity to get an autograph from Dwight Schultz. While he is famous for his role as Howling Mad Man Murdock in the 1980’s television series, The A-Team. I wanted to get a signed photo of Lt. Barclay from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I went by his table before he arrived and noticed all of the A-Team photos, but there were no Trek photos. I enjoyed watching the A-Team. But I knew what I wanted. In the dealers room I found a vendor who had a stack of Lt. Barclay photos for sale and snatched one up. I remember being in the first dozen people in line at the appropriate time for autograph signings. Several people had commented that they liked my Barclay picture. When you get to the table, you hand the assistant your money along with the photo. My photo was the first Star Trek picture of the day for Mr. Schultz to sign and he said “oh” and reached down with his pen to sign the photo. Suddenly from behind him, a hand reached out and yanked the picture away from him. Shocked I looked up to see some woman shaking the picture at me and screaming “Where did you get this picture? This is an illegal picture!” As I started arguing with the woman that I had already paid my money and that I was owed an autograph on the item I selected, Mr. Schultz’s face went back and forth between me and the woman as we yelled at each other. I think she was his agent or something and she wouldn’t budge. I wouldn’t budge either as I had already paid for my product and stated so. Suddenly she whirled around and grabbed one of his photos, slapped it down in front of him and yelled “Sign it!” The poor actor quickly made it out to me an not wanting to fight any more, I thanked him for the autograph. Then the woman grabbed me and stated “You’re going to show me where you got this in the dealers room.” As I was being dragged past the line, I noticed how many other fans with the same photo I had quickly hiding them. I knew that while she was away, they would be trying to get them signed as quickly as possible. Not wanting to get the dealer mad at me, the moment we got into the room, I waived my hand in the general direction and said “he’s down that way.” and I walked in the opposite direction. I couldn’t have been more than a minute later before I heard the harpy scream of this person yelling at the vendor. Every time I see the photo below, I think about that encounter. To this day, I wonder what Mr Schultz thought of what happened. I don’t blame him for it, but I could tell that he was embarrassed by it.

Dwight Schultz

I wish I could say that I’ve met everyone that I’ve got an autograph from. I’ve had several friends, knowing of my hobby to collect and of my interests, provide me with autographs that they have come across on their own. I’ve enjoyed several “Weird Al” Yankovick concerts, but I’ve never had a chance to meet the artist in person. Two different friends procured an autograph for me at different meet-and-greets that they participated in. I am very thankful to these friends. And yes, someday I’ll get a chance to meet Weird Al in person. Until then I’ll continue to enjoy his music and his sense of humor.

Weird Al Yankovick

I’ve got a quite a few autographs. Not just photos in an album but on artwork, books, action figures, hats, comics, games and other collectibles. And while some have gone up in value, especially with the celebrity passing on from this life, I’ve never thought about selling these items. These are memories for me. Memories of efforts to collect the autograph. Memories from meeting these human beings who have done extraordinary things. Memories of friends who have gone out of their way to help me with my collection. I’m sad that large scale events and online auctions have pushed autograph prices higher and higher. But I am also grateful for the opportunities to meet these people. I still get a smile on my face when I look over my autographed items.

Posted in: Art, Conventions

The things you find in boxes

Carl Stark cartoon by Howard Tayler

So I’ve been trying to get all of my stuff out of cardboard boxes. While cardboard boxes are good for short term storage or getting pizza delivered in (mmmm… pizza) they are not good for long term storage of items you want to keep safe. One of the goals that I have set for myself is to get everything that is still in a cardboard box out of said box. Sometimes I even feel like Indiana Jones uncovering the hidden ark. From there I can decide if I want to trash it, donate it, trade it or keep it. When I uncovered this bad boy in his protective sleeve (now scanned and posted above), I knew I wanted to keep it.

Over thirteen years ago I went through a period of insanity where I was a Con-Chair for a local fan-run convention. A Con-Chair is basically the president of the committee (a Con-Com) that puts together the convention. One of our primary guests at this convention was an artist named Howard Tayler. Howard is one of those fellow geeks that when you see what he’s done, you have to be inspired. Twenty straight years of publishing the web-comic Schlock Mercenary without missing a date. He has also designed role-playing games, written short stories and participated in a weekly podcast which has won a Hugo award.

Howard made a caricature of me at the convention. I was in “Con-Chair” mode with my body in an injured Captain Pike wheelchair. Like Pike, I could beep ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but I also had the option to ‘delegate’. I thought it was hilarious. I have fond memories of those conventions and seeing this image reminded me of some of them. Now that I have an office, I will be framing this and putting it up on the wall. Thanks Howard.

Now I wonder what I will find next? I’m motivated to get more boxes emptied.

Posted in: Conventions, Star Wars

Farewell David Prowse

David Prowse was an English actor who recently passed away at the age of 85. According to his daughter, he passed away due to complications to Covid-19. As fellow geeks, you probably know David Prowse from his most famous role as the actor in the Darth Vader suit from the first three movies. He was also seen in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (the BBC TV mini-series), Space: 1999, The Benny Hill Show, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (as The Monster), The Tomorrow People, A Clockwork Orange, The Horror of Frankenstein (again as The Monster), The Saint (TV series), the 60’s Casino Royale movie and Doctor Who.

In 2007, David Prowse was one of the guests at a local fan-run Science Fiction convention that I chaired. I cannot tell you how much of a gentleman he was. Even when he was in pain (which he suffered from a lot) he was always gracious to the people around him. He appreciated his fans who came a long way to see him and made the meeting a memorable one. He posed with my daughter and myself for a photo just before getting ready to return to England. Farewell good sir, you’ve earned your rest.

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