Thursday, March 16, 2017

quick post... I swear I will try to get back to doing this regularly. been a rough couple of years with mom being in and out of the hospital, and too much mandatory overtime at work. but things (knock on wood) seem to be slowing down enough for me to actually have some semblance of a life again.  started playing STO again recently, and upgraded my main ship some... here's a couple of pics of the refitted USS LoPresto.

with that, I close this post. Hopefully more "fuller bodied" posts to come soon.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Free Spirit Gathering 30: MY Family Reunion.

I know I've been a bit lax with my posts of late, but now that things have slowed down a bit here, the posts should flow a bit more.

This past week, Kat and I attended Free Spirit Gathering #30 in Darlington, MD.  After the past year of forced moves, family losses and other family emergencies, mandatory overtime, and other stuff that made life unpleasant, FSG 30 was a pleasant diversion from the mundane. Although the weather was quite unbearable at times, the whole event was still quite enjoyable.  I had volunteered to help my friend Tom Swiss with the entertainment track this year but ended up being commandeered into assisting Kat with making sure Grandmother Elspeth got to where she needed to be, making sure her booth was tended to while she and her teaching partner, John, presented their classes, etc. The rest of the staff was phenomenal, and it was refreshing to see some of the younger generation helping out this year.  There were some changes this year from years past. One of the most notable was the dining hall fare provided by Harry and the Camp Ramblewood staff. There was a new Sous Chef hired this year, and the meals were a vast improvement. I really wanted to kidnap the cook and bring him home with us- at least for a few weeks. Somehow, the TV dinners we ate upon returning home were blasé compared to what we ate the rest of the week.

Next, there was the entertainment.  David London performed his magic show on Thursday night, right before the bardic circle.  I had seen him at last year's event, but was actually picked to participate this year.  Mr. London's show was fantastic, and enjoyed by all. Immediately following his show was the annual FSG bardic circle. The turnout was a bit smaller than last year, but there were also a few new faces.  Sadly, it was cut short after two rounds so Tom could attend to the fire circle.

Friday night and Saturday was the nights for the highlighters.  First came the main ritual, which was phenomenal in its own right. Those that participated in, or who were an actual part of it, made it equally enjoyable and uplifting.  Following ritual, FSG's own "homegrown" troupe of performers, HVBRIS, took the stage on the ritual lawn. All who were in attendance were awed and amazed by their elite fire-spinning skills. They are one act that I always look forward to each year.

Saturday night, we were gifted with the enchanting music of S.J. Tucker and Betsy Tinney. For those who haven't experienced these ladies' performances, I highly recommend you check out their tour schedule at Their music is a delightful mix of folk music, story-telling, and more. And while there was a massively severe storm occurring during the concert, thanks to an unscheduled visit by the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill, these ladies continued to put on a fantastic show for everyone, even going acoustic for a period of time while the sound equipment was shut down as a result of the storm. Oh yes, and an added bonus, during a brief conversation with S.J on Sunday morning, I found out what a tiny, tiny world it really is.  S.J worked with my friend Dara Korra'ti on her Bone Walker CD. WOW!

Last, but not least, I would like to give a shout out to old friends, and new, that made FSG 30 an even more memorable experience. Most notable were the couple that helped us break down our campsite and "schlep" our stuff up the hill to load into the cars, Miles and Snoozpossum. Those two were such a great help, and deserve extra kudos.

Now, we have all returned to our respective homes, and are looking forward to FSG 31 next year.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

(A)D&D Musings on 5th Edition and What's to Come (Speculations)

So, Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons has been out for about 8 or so months now, and I've had some time to read up on bits and pieces of the new edition, having purchased all but one of the new Core Manuals (Some good friends bought me the new Players Handbook for my birthday last year.), the first two adventure manuals, and preordered the third.  From the looks of it, it looks a lot better than the D20 3rd edition, which was the last I even attempted to buy- That one I looked at, and was so lost by the rules, that I didn't even bother with it again.  This edition looks to be easier to grasp and play, even for beginners, or someone like myself who hasn't played in twenty years, and needs a bit of time to acclimate to the game.  I have also been checking up on release dates or speculations on upcoming modules or campaign settings.  The two I am most eagerly awaiting are Ravenloft and Dragonlance, having spent a lot of time in the "Mists" back when I did play 2nd Edition (a lot of time having my characters turned into vampires, or just go insane in some instances) and also having read approximately 80% of the whole Dragonlance book collection.  Thus far, it looks as if Wizards of the Coast is only going to be releasing two campaigns per year at this point, and there is no definite answer as to when and if those particular campaign settings will be released. So, I wait.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

More Than Meets the Eye

Just recently, I purchased the entire DVD collection of one of my staple cartoon shows from my youth, the original Transformers series. Yes, I admit, I was fully around 17 years old when it first aired, but any true geeky person who was alive enough to enjoy the show when it originally aired on TV who claims that they never watched it, or didn't like it, in my opinion, is lying.  I would always get home from school and rush through my chores and whatever homework I had so I could watch it when it came on at 4pm.  I even collected some of the figures, some of which I still have somewhere. But I digress, as that is not the topic of this post.

As I was watching the first disc in the set, and singing along to the opening theme like a total geekwad, it occurred to me that we are all like the Transformers in that there is more to each of us than meets the eye. Think about it. Each one of us has an outer persona that everybody sees, regardless of who we encounter. That persona is what we put forward, our front, so to speak. However, there is always more below the surface that people do NOT see. That is our innermost being, those things we either do not share at all, or share with a select few people. That underlying identity can hide many things, from past trauma, to secret desires, fears, dreams, etc.  What we choose to share from this "hidden" persona depends mainly on who we trust enough not to use that information against us. In my case, it's usually only close friends and family members that I share my inner-being with.

Sometimes, that outer facade cracks, or fails, and what is kept hidden is revealed. Sometimes, this is a good thing, but more often than not, it is not. Take, for example, the leader who puts on an outer facade of fairness, honesty, and integrity. That facade fails to reveal someone who is completely opposite of what was put forward for everyone to see, and he is revealed to be unfair, unjust, completely dishonest, and has no moral integrity at all. What happens then?  Said leader will most likely keep the weaker-minded followers (let's call them the sheep), but lose those who are able to think for themselves and see him for the fraud that he really is. Always keep in mind when dealing with people that there really is MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

And the Winners Are....

Thanks to those who participated in the Faerie Blood/Bone Walker giveaway.  Though it didn't generate as many responses as I thought it might, I still think it got the word out enough to help support Dara and Anna.  Anyway, I will dispense with the babble and get on with the announcement.  Along with the help of my best bud, Raistlin, and my little buddy, Dude, (who each batted a name out of the bowl) the winners were decided as follows:

The winner of the Books/CD bundle is Dria Howlett.
The winner of the digital books is E Susan Baugh.

Dria, I will pass your information on to Anna so the books can be mailed to you this week.
Susan, please leave a comment with your email, so I can pass it on to Anna and make arrangement for payment.

And special thanks to Kat for throwing her hat in the ring to help get the ball rolling. She got copies of the book and CD for her birthday, and is enjoying them. (though she bought the digital copies so her books wouldn't get crinkled.)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Completely Unsolicited Review of "Bone Walker" by Angela Korra'ti

Once again, I was not disappointed by the talents of my friend, when I opened my copy of her latest book, Bone Walker. From the first chapter until the last, it was a never-ending experience full of adventure, intrigue, and suspense. Bone Walker picks up shortly after the events of Faerie Blood, with our two main heroes, Kendis Thompson and Christopher MacSimidh, enjoying an outdoor concert in a Seattle park. With the sudden, and quite unexpected appearance of a somewhat battered unseelie bard, things rapidly get out of hand, and draw our heroes and their friends into a battle of life or death for them and those around them, no thanks to the queen of the unseelie court, and the ghost of an unseelie mage that is out to destroy not just them, but the entire west coast if she can.  The usual mix of elves, kitsune, warders, and non-magic-using humans joined by a family of nogitsune and a dragon child in trying to destroy the bone walker, keep a city from being destroyed, and restore order. To sum it up, Bone Walker is a roller coaster ride for the imagination. Ms. Korra'ti succeeds in holding the reader's attention through a variety of twists and turns and wrapping it all up neatly at the end.  I give Bone Walker five stars, and recommend it to any fan of urban fantasy.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Second Star to the Right, and Straight On 'Til Morning. Farewell, Spock!

It saddens me to report that one of the most iconic figures in the entire Star Trek universe has passed away.  It was reported this morning that Mr. Leonard Nimoy, the actor who portrayed the pointy-eared vulcan, Mr. Spock, on the original 1960s TV series, motion pictures, and various appearances in later series, as well as cameos on other television shows, has passed away at the age of 83 due to complications from end stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Mr. Nimoy had been a heavy smoker up until three decades ago, and verified a year ago the diagnosis. He was hospitalized earlier in the week, and though at that point, I sort of expected his passing, it still hits me hard.  I was at work when one of my co-workers out of the blue, assuming that I had already heard the news, asked how I was. Thinking he was asking if I was over the cold I had been fighting for the past few days, I said I was feeling a little better. When he asked if I'd heard of Mr. Nimoy's passing, it was as if I had swallowed a rock. I admit, I expected it, but it hit me hard none-the-less. I had to fight back the tears and felt myself choking on them the rest of the day. Since I have no access to social media at my job, I had to rely on the internet during my breaks to get as much information as I could. I read statements from former cast-members and fans alike, but I think the most touching was the tribute left by Wil Wheaton on his site:
Mister Spock made it okay for me to be the weird kid who eventually grew into a slightly-less weird adult, but it was Leonard Nimoy who made Mister Spock live, and who made Star Trek — and every science fiction TV series since 1966 — possible.
Thank you, Leonard, for making it okay to be me, and for making it possible for me to explore brave new worlds, and boldly go where you had gone before. I wish I’d gotten to know you the way so many others did, because everyone says you were as awesome and wonderful as I hoped you would be. Rest in peace, sir.
Mr. Nimoy was preceded in death by fellow cast members DeForrest Kelley, James Doohan, Mark Leonard, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, and the show's creator, Gene Roddenberry.  This leaves only William Shatner, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, and Walter Koenig of the original series cast.  Mr. Nimoy will be missed by Trekkers old and new alike.  Fly with the Great Bird, Mr. Spock.

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