Back from Orlando!

Hi everyone! We’re back from Orlando safe and sound… and tanned, my arms almost match colours now! We arrived home around 10:30pm last night after a lengthy drive from New York City, which was preceeded by a flight from Orlando to La Guardia airport.

We had a great time and managed to see and do pretty much all the parks in Orlando except for the water parks. For most parks we did two days so that we could cover everything at them that we wanted to.

Disney’s Magic Kingdom was a lot of fun, it’s boken up into several main parts. There’s Mainstreet USA, which is filled with all kinds of neat shops. Then there’s Frontier Land, which is all western themed. The next one, Adventure Land, was all the adventurous Disney themed stuff, like Agrabbah from Aladdin and the caribbean port towns from Pirates of the Caribbean. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride was cool, I got some snazzy souvenirs from the gift shop for that one, including a cursed Aztec coin medallion. Liberty Square is another USA themed area of the park, this one borders Frontier land and is the civilized counter-point to the wild west of Frontier Land, it had a huge steamboat that you could ride along a large circular river, as well as the Haunted, House, which I didn’t get to see. Fantasy land was your typical Disney magical themed stuff like Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, basically all the princess themed stuff. Also in Fantasy Land was the It’s a Small World Ride, which I have to admit, I really enjoyed. And lastly in the ring that is the Magic Kingdom, there’s Tomorrow Land, which is where the attractions for the various sci-fi themed Disney characters are, like Buzz Lightyear and Stitch, Buzz’s ride was fun, it was a rail-shooter ride, which was fun.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Deb Bry and I rode the the Star Wars Star Tours ride a couple times, it was really fun, we got to visit Coruscant, Hoth, Kashyyk, and Naboo. And of course Bry and I built ourselves lightsabers in the gift shop afterwards. The Disney animation studio at Hollywood Studios was really neat, you get to see how the animators at Disney do their work, learn about the creative process they follow, and do some interactive stuff, to try it out yourself. We got to meet characters there, too, like Winnie the Pooh, Mickey, and ever Mr Incredible and Frozone, I got my picture taken with them. Deb’s favourite part at the animation studio was the drawing lesson classes. You get to sit in a room lined with rows of light tables and learn how to draw a disney character from an Disney animator, I really enjoyed it, too. At Holloywood Studios, we also went and saw the Muppet Vision 3-D, which actually got Bry to like the Muppets and really got me stoked for the new movie coming out. We also saw the Little Mermaid stage show, which was actually really cool and had all kinds of lights, sounds and water effects mixed in with the show to make you feel more immersed in the story. We took a quick walk through the Walt Disney One Man’s Dream museum, which was very interesting. And of course, we couldn’t visit Holloywood Studios without checking out the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular which shows you a behind the scenes look at how the stunts are done and it was awesome. You can feel the heat from the pyrotechnics halfway up the seats and Deb, Bry and I sat third row, closest to the finale with the exploding jet fuel. I was almost worried I’d come back without eyebrows, but it so much fun to watch.

We also visited Disney’s animal Kingdom where we went on safari and saw the Lion King show, which was incredible. We also saw the Finding Nemo musical, which was really neat.

Epcot was probably my favourite of the Disney parks, though, all because of two things. The first is the ride inside the epcot sphere, called Spaceship Earth, which was really fun and interesting, and was narrated by none other than Judy Densch, which was even more awesome. And the second was the Epcot World showcase, which is a huge area that circles a large lake in the center and covers countries from around the world, each country is organized into a little town embodying the most well-known aspects of that country, with authentic cuisine, shops run by people from that part of the world, as well as music and street shows related to those countries. The countries, in counter-clockwise order (which was the order we did them in thge first day) are: Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, the US, Italy, Germany, China, Norway, and Mexico. My favourite countries to visit in Epcot were the UK, Morocco and Japan. In the UK on the first visit, we ate at the Rose and Crown, an honest-to-God english pub, complete with traditional english fare and a full range of beers and spirits. I had bangers and mash with a pint of Guinness and felt like I had died and gone to heaven, it was so good. In the Japan Pavillion, which was done up like Tokyo’s Imperial Palace, had the largest shop out of all the countries in the showcase and carried everything from kimonos, to katanas, to paper fans, to pokemon, to pocky, to tea, to domo-kuns, to miyazaki toys, to paper umbrellas to Gundams. And even a choose your own clam pearl stand where you buy a chance to choose a clam from their tank and they open it for the first time in front of you to see what pearl you’ve bought, sometimes coming away with some exceedingly rare pearls worth far more than you paid. As for Morocco, I pretty much just liked the way the whole thing looked and smelled and even sounded like an arabian market, lots of incense, tile mosaics, stone archways and winding roads.

Another place I loved was Downtown Disney. Honestly, if it hadn’t started raining both times we went or I had been able to fit more in my luggage, I would have spent so much more time shopping around there. Downtown disney has the largest stores out of the entire range of Disney resort attractions. There was even a large Lego store, that’s right, an entire store devoted to nothing but lego. I ended up finding one of my favourite purchases from the entire trip, the thing I splurged on the most there. It’s one of those Lego board games they’ve been releasing lately, but one that hasn’t been released in Canada yet. It’s called Heroica and there are four sets to it, which, of course, I bought all of. What makes it so great is that it is essentially, drum roll… Lego Heroquest. As for Downtown Disney itself, though, I highly recommend it, especially if you’ve spent a couple weeks checking out the parks and want to bring back souvenirs for family, pretty much any souvenir you can get at any of the Disney parks, can also be bought at Downtown Disney somewhere, which the exception of some really specialized stuff, like they had a bunch of cool books at the Pirates of the Caribbean gift shop in the Magic Kingdom, that were not available elsewhere, even downtown Disney as far as I had seen.

I have to say, though, one place I really enjoyed was Universal Studios Islands of Adventure There was so much stuff to see and do there.The Spiderman ride was cool. And it was fun visiting Jurassic Park and walking through the Visitor’s Centre Pavillions. But my favourite part of Universal was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Deb, Bry and I got to drink butterbeer (which is delicious by the way and tastes somewhat like a butterscotch vanilla float, but smoother and so much more addictive). We also got to visit Ollivander’s Wand Emporium and we each got ourselves a wand appropriate to us based on a signifcant date of our choice, using the old Celtic calendar of 13 months. Bry and I ended up getting the same style of wand since he chose his birthday as his signifcant date (January 10th) and I chose the day my mother died (January 2nd), which both fall in the same range on the celtic calendar and so we both have the same design of wand (a long, rough-looking almost druidic style of wand), though every wand has slight differences. Deb also chose her birthday (May 20th), which ended up giving her a short, finely carved, smooth wavy wand with rings of colour along it’s length. I also got a leather-bound hardcover pocket notebook with a metal Hogwarts crest on it, which is really nice. I almost bought a house Ravenclaw robe, but didn’t because it was too expensive, good thing, too, since I found out later I would be house Gryffindor, not Ravenclaw as I originally thought. Although Bry is Ravenclaw, so the baseball cap I got I gave to him, which he was happy about.

There was lots more stuff we did and saw, but off the top of my head I can’t remember them all now, I’m sure they’ll come up in conversation at some point. So, I apologize for not updating during the trip but I was so busy just enjoying it that it was hard to find the time.

Keith Olbermann – There Is No ‘Ground Zero Mosque’

If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you might’ve heard about this whole “ground zero mosque” debacle in the US. The long and short of it is that some Muslims want to open a community centre in downtown Manhattan, some distance away from where the WTC once stood, and a lot of people have blown their tops over the whole thing.

I think Keith Olbermann sums up why this reaction is all a pile of horse shit quite succinctly, and I think you should watch it if you haven’t already.

Patrick Swayze dies at 57

Oh man, that sucks. Definitely an icon of the 80s and I really liked him in later roles like in Keeping Mum and Donnie Darko.

Actor Patrick Swayze, best known for his roles in the films Dirty Dancing and Ghost, has died after battling pancreatic cancer.

The Houston-born performer, who studied dance before tackling a career on stage and screen, was 57 years old.

“Patrick Swayze passed away peacefully today with family at his side after facing the challenges of his illness for the last 20 months,” said a statement released Monday evening in Los Angeles by his publicist, Annett Wolf. No other details were given.

via CBC

Last minute wedding stuff

Ok, we’re getting down to the last couple days before the wedding and I need to ensure that everyone knows what they need to do and where they needs to be, and when. Since most were unable to come to the rehearsal last night, I will provide what info I can here.

So first, it looks like Deb and I will be able to save about a grand on wedding costs by decorating the hall ourselves the night before the wedding. So it looks like I probably won’t be able to make it for a barbeque Friday night, which really sucks. But I’m pretty sure we can all agree that saving a thousand dollars (possibly more) is a pretty strong motivator and should count as a good excuse.

Bry and I will be sleeping at home Friday night and will likely be up and about some time around 10am (although Bry probably much earlier), I’m going to aim to have a good night’s sleep and try to be as well-rested as I can. The wedding photographer will be coming by around 1pm, I think (maybe a bit later), to take photos of “The Boys getting ready”, apparently. So all Groomsmen should try to be at my place by around 12:30 so we can make sure we’re all dressed and ready to go. My address, for those who don’t know, is:

328, Westminster Ave N.
Montreal-Ouest

A quick Google maps search should bring that up no problem. From there we’ll kinda just hang out and do final preparations until around 2:30 when we head over to the Church. At the chruch you guys will be ushering the guests in and showing them to their seats in the pews. Deb’s parents and my Aunt Sue and her boyfriend are seated on the isle in the second row on the groom and bride’s sides respectively. The front row will be for the groomsmen and bridesmaids on the groom and bride’s sides, obviously.

Once the guests have been seated we all retreat into the minister’s room and kinda just relax there until we’re called out. Once we’re called out, we file out, me at the head and make our way across the isle and form a line going out from me to the right of the altar (to the right when facing the altar). Then When Deb comes down the isle and I stand next to her, the minister will tell you to sit and you guys (and the bridesmaids on the other side) can then go caterpillar like in-file into the first row of pews from the outside. That is to say, Bry and Alex, at the head of the group, will start to walk back past you guys to the right and around the end of the pews, then make their way towards the isle end of the first row, you guys just follow in the order you’re standing (we can work out order when we meet up before we go to the church).  From then on, most of you are done your jobs and can just enjoy the wedding, Alex and Bry still have stuff to do, but they know what and should be fine. Once the wedding is over everyone just kinda makes their way out the front doors of the church.

The only other thing to note is that Deb wants to film ther wedding ceremony. We’ve got a great new digital camcorder and we need someone to do the recording of the wedding. Deb’s suggestion was Joe, and that works for me. I also would have suggested Carl, but being a groomsman, that would make for some weird camera angles and POV changes.

So anyway, any and all who read this and are coming to the wedding (groomsmen especially), reply and let me know if it’s clear enough or if you have any questions.

Concerning the hunt for Green Stuff

Hey guys, decided I’d make a post out fo this rather than flooding the chat some more. Well, after some poking around, the best overall price for buying any of the epoxies commonly used for miniature modifying is either www.greenputty.com or www.thewarstore.com. The only place that beats them is, of course, eBay. Now, greenputty.com sells their green stuff for $20, but has much lower shipping ($7.59 for an order of one roll of Green Stuff and a brick of Brown Stuff, which I’ve read is better for sharp details). The war store sells Green Stuff for $12.99 but has twice the shipping price ($15.00 flat rate to Canada). This might make it seem like a no-brainer to go with The War Store, but greenputty.com offers bulk bundles, for an extra $18, you triple your order of Green Stuff (or add ), so now, you’re looking at $38 for 3 bricks as opposed to $39 at the War Store, which seems negligible until you remember the lower shipping at greenputty.com. This comes out to a final total of $45.59 from greenputty vs $53.97 from the war store. Both places offer both the tape and rod varieties of Green Stuff at the same prices.

So really it’s a matter of what you want to get a lot, or a little. By the same token, If you really wanted to go nuts, greenputty.com offers a bulk bundle of 24 units of green stuff by adding $200 to the base of $20. So, to compare if you really needed a lot of green stuff, to say, build a bookshelf out of or something you would be looking at $227.59 from greenputty, or $346.76 from the war store. The savings!

And just for the fun of it, what does Games Workshop charge you for the same amounts of green stuff? Well, assuming you go the cheapest route and buy it in-person at the GW store.  For one package of the stuff it comes out to only$13.80 after tax! But oh, wait, that’s for a third of the amount so it’s really $41.40 for the equivalent of one brick. Or, if we wanted 3 bricks worth, it would be $124.20. And lastly, how does GW compare to the massive bulk order of 24 bricks of green stuff? With a whopping $993.60 after tax, that’s how!

The moral of the story, don’t go with GW unless you really only need a little of the stuff and don’t ever intend to use it again.

Goodbye Dom Deluise

Sad news. It seemed when I was growing up, at least in the 80s, Dom Deluise was in just about everything, so it’s sad to hear that he’s gone.

Dom Deluise passed yesterday.  I remember watching him as a kid on both Cannonball Run I & II, and who could forget him in Spaceballs in the most disgusting costume ever.

Heres some outtakes from Cannonball Run I.  One of my favorite parts of both of those movies.  Especially when Dom can’t stop laughing.

via TIFR

John’s Warhammer Adventure

Hey all, figured I’d post a progress update on how my army is coming along. Biggest bit of news, Deb’s birthday present to me was a trip to Le Valet on Saturday, whereupon she had me pick a bunch of stuff and bought it for me. Most notably a Seer Council boxed set for my Eldar army. This now means that I have 2 farseers and 3 warlocks at my disposal. She also got me several boxes of the new D&D miniatures, the pre-painted ones, we’re thinking of introducing Bry and his Cousin Jasmine to D&D and felt that using the minis, which are really inexpensive by miniatures standards, would be a good visual appeal to the whole process.

Hey all, figured I’d post a progress update on how my army is coming along. Biggest bit of news, Deb’s birthday present to me was a trip to Le Valet on Saturday, whereupon she had me pick a bunch of stuff and bought it for me. Most notably a Seer Council boxed set for my Eldar army. This now means that I have 2 farseers and 3 warlocks at my disposal. She also got me several boxes of the new D&D miniatures, the pre-painted ones, we’re thinking of introducing Bry and his Cousin Jasmine to D&D and felt that using the minis, which are really inexpensive by miniatures standards, would be a good visual appeal to the whole process.

Anyway, that aside, and back to my eldar army. I also did a re-count of my figures and it turns out I had a fieldable squad of Warp Spiders all along! So, after updating my army list, my totals are:
Army Total w/o Wargear: 1576
Fieldable Army Total w/o Wargear: 1386
Current Battleforce, Wargear in: 1249

So that puts me at a current battleforce build of:

HQ
2 Farseers
3 Warlocks

Troops
4 Dire Avengers + 1 Exarch
10 Guardians
8 Ranger Pathfinders

Fast Attack
4 Warp Spiders + 1 Exarch

Heavy Support
1 War Walker
1 Heavy Weapon Platform
1 Wave Serpent Transport

So I’m quite pleased with my army list and now that I’ve got that taken care of, I’ve started on assembly the units for my battleforce that you guys go tme for my birthday, and even have some photos!

So, I spent a couple hours carefully picking through my battleforce box on Saturday night checking to see which units I had instructions for and which I didn’t and which would be the easiest to start with. So eventually I realized that I had no instructions for heavy weapons platform and its two accompanying guardians. The had pretty easily identifiable pices and since they had no instructions I figured if I could puzzle them out, there would be less guess-work later when I moved on to the guardians, which also had no instructions. So, first I put the weapons platform together and opted for the eldar missile launcher mount as it offers two missile choices and provides a blast weapon with a good range and strength. I got it together quite easily, and the turret portion turns nicely should I want it to move, and the hover base seats cleanly into the baseplate, so I was pleased. I then moved on to the two crew guardians for the platform, they had their legs, and chests as a single piece on the sprue, so I only need to glue on the back, arms, heads and any accesories, which I did. There was a loose Shuriken catapult for the guardian that couldn’t hold his, so I glued it fo his back, making it look kind of like an antenna, which sounds weird, but actually fit the styling of the eldar units surprisingly well. Please excuse my pictures, I took them with my cell phone.

Surveying the field
Surveying the field
Assault at White Loaf
Assault at White Loaf

So, quite pleased with my assembled minis, but very tired, I went to bed. Then last night, Deb was tired and decided to turn in around 10:30, so I took the opportunity to assemble the rest of my guardians. Having done the other two succefully, I felt more confident to tackle the rest of the little buggers. Of course, the standard guardians, unlike the weapon crew ones, come in 10 pieces instead of 5. So, I very carefully cut the pieces for one guardian out fo the sprue, made sure they my cuts were clean and satisfactory, then began meticulously glueing them together in sequence. It went really slow, but went well. So I tried another, my morale boosted, quicker, but just as well-assembled. So here I was now fully sure of what I was doing, and what sorts of freedoms and lee-ways I had when assembling the figures and I began to carefully stream-line the process. By the time I had finished the first 4, I had determined a method to quickly, effectively, and easily assemble the last 4 guardians simultaneously, adding slight variations to poses and placements to make the squad look more dynamic and life-like. Take a look:

image013

Hanging with the Heavies
Hanging with the Heavies

So far I’m very pleased with my progress so far, next up is likely going to be the war-walker and then the dire avengers. The Wave Serpent I’m likely going to leave for last as I need to do it in two parts since I have to prime and paint the cockpit before I can fully glue the thing together. So, I’ll leave you with two more pics, one of my Seer Council units, and a very blurry one of my currently fieldable army.

image012

image008

Dave Arneson

Dave Arneson It’s a sad day for gamers everywhere, as Dave Arneson, the co-creator of D&D and the first DM ever, has passed away from cancer. He was lesser known to a lot of gamers simply for no other reason than Gary stuck around longer at TSR. This is no less reason for him to be mourned, however. He was the first DM with his Blackmoor campaign setting (the first ever, even before Greyhawk), and paved the way for a few of the most fun parts of this hobby: creating worlds and great story telling. He will be missed.

There were originally some conflicting reports on whether he had truly died or not, so I was waiting for some decent confirmation before I said anything.

RIP Dave.

PS: This latest Order of the Stick comic is a brilliant homage.

via Escapist Magazine

Birds Linked To al-Qaeda Attack Plane

Yesterday, in the skies over New York, birds believed to be linked to al-Qaeda attacked US Airways flight 1549. Thankfully, due to the actions of veteran pilot Chesley Sullenberger III, the plane completed a textbook emergency water landing in the Hudson River, after which all 155 souls on board were rescued.

According to US intelligence agencies, numerous radical Islamic websites posted a statement by Ayman al-Zawahiri claiming that the birds had been trained at a secret al-Qaeda run camp in Pakistan. Unnamed US intelligence sources have said that they believe that the operatives most likely arrived in the US in the fall and covertly assimilated themselves into the migratory patterns of North American birds.

The White House has yet to confirm the link between the birds and al-Qaeda, though it is believed that the FBI has taken several hundred birds into custody since the incident and is holding them at an undisclosed location.

via Matthew Good’s Blog

Jack Thompson Disbarred

Is it finally game over for Florida lawyer and violent video game opponent Jack Thompson? Judgment has been entered in the case that started last year and came to a head when Judge Dava Tunis recommended permanent disbarment for the bombastic, showboating law man. The court has approved the report and has ordered that JT is official disbarred as of 30 days from today.

Via Kotaku

Some Still Believe the Earth is Flat

“The BBC reports on a scientific community still holding to flat earth theories. From their article: ‘Are there any genuine flat-earthers left? Surely in our era of space exploration — where satellites take photos of our blue and clearly globular planet from space, and robots send back info about soil and water from Mars — no one can seriously still believe that the Earth is flat? Wrong. Flat earth theory is still around. On the internet and in small meeting rooms in Britain and the US, flat earth believers get together to challenge the ‘conspiracy’ that the Earth is round.'”

via Slashdot

RIP Erick Wujcik

Erick Wujcik, author of our beloved TMNT roleplaying game, along with alot of other books for the abysmal Palladium line of RPGs passed away earlier this month after a long bout with cancer. While I didn’t follow his work closely, I know that we all had great fun with the TMNT RPG, and it pretty much is the sole reason we discovered RPGs outside of D&D, so I think he deserves at least a little bit of our respect.

Besides, without him we wouldn’t have had anything as creative as a nitroglycerin-laden, artifically intelligent, murderous van run amok!

http://forums.palladium-megaverse.com/viewtopic.php?f=49&t=90372

8th Annual Indies

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

8th Annual 2The weather was horrible but it didn’t stop the droves of people from attending the 8th Annual Independent Music Awards. The Canadian ballroom in the Royal York was packed as hundreds of performers and fans huddled together like cows to the slaughter. Everyone bright eyed and blissful with the promise of music to come.

8th Annual 3Even I stood there in Awe as the first band took that stage, not ever hearing them or at least the song they opted to play; They where Amazing, with my Camera in hand I tried to edge closer and closer to get that perfect picture. Being denied access about halfway by a rude enforcer at the VIP area. That is, however, until Christy worked her magic and using her XM connections and social prowess snagged not 1 but 4 VIP passes and as many drink tickets her little hands could carry.

8th Annual 8The night was very formulaic, award, award, DJ, band, rinse and repeat. And every bit of the night was just as entertaining as the bit that came before it. Awards were presented by the Bands, Miss Canada, Kyle Gass a veritable cornucopia of who’s who. We stood inches away from the Giant that was Majormakers lead vocalist. They won best website.

8th Annual 4But the highlight of my night was Tokyo Police Club, they took the stage after the awards and they blew the lid off the Royal York . They played some music from their new album that will be released April 22nd as well as a full set from their current release. They had the crowd clapping as the steadied my belief in the genre. I hope the next time they are playing we have the opportunity to go see them.

8th Annual 6

After Tokyo Police Club the New Pornographers came on stage, I snapped a couple of pics but we didn’t stay for the entire set. We wanted to beat the masses to the coat check. Coats in hand it was just a matter of a quick subway ride home. Still pumped from the night I could barely sleep.

An Amazing end to an Amazing day.
Click the link below to see all the pics I shot from the show.
Joseph’s Flickr Page

*EDIT: I originally said Attack in Black blew the lid off. While they played they where not the highlight. It was Tokyo Police Club. They have a new album on the 22nd called Elephant Shell.