Archive for the ‘2014’ Category

The Awesometacularity that was LepreCon 40   3 comments

The 40th annual LepreCon science fiction convention was held at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Mesa, Arizona on the days and nights of May 8-11, 2014. This is Phoenix’s oldest science fiction convention. Believe it or not, I helped start it back in 1974 or so, and was Con Chairman in 1979. I usually attend–as a guest or participant. I think I’ve only missed 3 of them. I went again this year, mostly to see my friends. I’m long past the stage of gathering autographs, buying things, and paying any attention to the panels.  I took a lot of photos this year, and I’m going to share most of them with you here.  You should take my comments with a pinch of salt or pepper, as I’m frequently crossing my fingers and/or distorting the truth in what I say about things.

THURSDAY NIGHT

When I walked into the Con on Thursday night, the first person I saw was Jason Youngdale. Jason is a friend of mine. I joined him to listen to some music and drink some beer.

When I walked into the Con on Thursday night, the first person I saw was Jason Youngdale. Jason is a friend of mine. I joined him to listen to some music and drink some beer.

The band is called Squid Dog. They are a motley and aged crew, but they produce a rocking sound.

The band is called Squid Dog. They are a motley and aged crew, but they produce a rocking sound.

 

This is my artistic composition in honor of LepreCon. You can see the program book in the foreground, and the best drink I had for the weekend in the background.

This is my artistic composition in honor of LepreCon. You can see the program book in the foreground, and the best drink I had for the weekend in the background.

Paul Tanton, Jason Youngdale, and I went off and played some card games. I took a selfie shot of myself while I was playing cards, but it's way too accurate in representing the real me, and thus too horrible to look at. I'm not gonna show it.

Paul Tanton, Jason Youngdale, and I went off and played some card games. I took a selfie shot of myself while I was playing cards, but it’s way too accurate in representing the real me, and thus too horrible to look at. I’m not gonna show it.

FRIDAY

They gave me a grilled cheese sandwich in the staff lounge.

They gave me a grilled cheese sandwich in the staff lounge.

 

Griller of cheeses. With volunteers like this, the future of LepreCon is in good hands. Of course, this is the only volunteer like this that LepreCon has, so maybe it's doomed!

Griller of cheeses. With volunteers like this, the future of LepreCon is in good hands. Of course, this is the only volunteer like this that LepreCon has, so maybe it’s doomed!

2014-05-09 02.19.40

I went to the Art Show. I was mostly not impressed, but I did like this troll skull, so I bought it. I'm sure I'll find all sorts of uses for it. Troll skull by amateur artist David Perrine.

I went to the Art Show. I was mostly not impressed, but I did like this troll skull, so I bought it. I’m sure I’ll find all sorts of uses for it. Troll skull by amateur artist David Perrine.

 

Back in the gaming room, my main home at conventions, we wound up playing Magic for the rest of Friday afternoon.

Back in the gaming room, my main home at conventions, we wound up playing Magic for the rest of Friday afternoon.

 

Late Friday night, I walked into the command center for the whole convention. Yes, friends, this is what the high command of these affairs look like when no one can see them.

Late Friday night, I walked into the command center for the whole convention. Yes, friends, this is what the high command of these affairs look like when no one can see them.

Saturday, I spaced it and left my camera at home.  I have no pix from the most important day of the Con.

SUNDAY

Walking into the Marriott Convention Center from the rear. The Marriott in Mesa has been quite the popular convention site for SF fandom in Phoenix for the last 5 years.

Walking into the Marriott Convention Center from the rear. The Marriott in Mesa has been quite the popular convention site for SF fandom in Phoenix for the last 5 years.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here! Beyond these doors lies much that is fannish.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here! Beyond these doors lies much that is fannish.

Some of the usual suspects. From left to right: The Flash (out of uniform), Paul Tanton, Victor Bugg, Jason Youngdale, and ???. I should know the last guy, but I don't.

Some of the usual suspects. From left to right: The Flash (out of uniform), Paul Tanton, Victor Bugg, Jason Youngdale, and ???. I should know the last guy, but I don’t.

The entrance to the Dealers' Room. There are many wonderful things and even more wonderful people inside this room.

The entrance to the Dealers’ Room. There are many wonderful things and even more wonderful people inside this room.

The woman in white is author Gail Carrigher, our Guest of Honor, best known for her steampunk fiction: The Parasol Protectorate.

The woman in white is author Gail Carrigher, our Guest of Honor, best known for her steampunk fiction: The Parasol Protectorate.

An ever-changing cityscape lived on this table. I don't know why.

An ever-changing cityscape lived on this table. I don’t know why.

The fans of David Weber and Honor Harrington owned this real estate. Spiffy space marine uniforms they have.

The fans of David Weber and Honor Harrington owned this real estate. Spiffy space marine uniforms they have.

Lobby,

Lobby,

Flag desecration in poster form.

Flag desecration in poster form.

Artist, dealer, weird female person. I like her.

Artist, dealer, weird female person. I like her.

Oooh, oooh! That fan might buy something!

Oooh, oooh! That fan might buy something!

Bennie Grezlik, author, nice  guy, creator of Princess Pain.

Bennie Grezlik, author, nice guy, creator of Princess Pain.

Since she was all painted up like a mime (Harley Quinn for DC Comics) I asked costumer Krysta Crawford to do the "I'm Trapped in a Glass Box" routine.

Since she was all painted up like a mime (Harley Quinn for DC Comics) I asked costumer Krysta Crawford to do the “I’m Trapped in a Glass Box” routine.

Local authors. I ought to know everybody. They know me, but I don't know these guys.

Local authors. I ought to know everybody. They know me, but I don’t know these guys.

I don't know this guy either, but he has some cool steampunk weapons for sale.

I don’t know this guy either, but he has some cool steampunk weapons for sale.

I took her picture because she was wearing a mask. Doesn't she look like someone just hit her in the head and knocked it sideways?

I took her picture because she was wearing a mask. Doesn’t she look like someone just hit her in the head and knocked it sideways?

Fabulous artist, friendly guy. I don't know him.

Fabulous artist, friendly guy. I don’t know him.

You, too, could be wearing a fabulous mask. Buy them here.

You, too, could be wearing a fabulous mask. Buy them here.

I took her picture because she was wearing a corset. You can't really see it very well.

I took her picture because she was wearing a corset. You can’t really see it very well.

A complete gallery of the bizarre art of Steam Crow.

A complete gallery of the bizarre art of Steam Crow.

Friendly woman, weird art.

Friendly woman, weird art.

Intentionally weird art for a weird magazine.

Intentionally weird art for a weird magazine.

Steampunk grandees. I vowed to photograph every corse that came my way.

Steampunk grandees. I vowed to photograph every corset that came my way.

Phoenix has another small sci-fi convention called CopperCon.

Phoenix has another small sci-fi convention called CopperCon.

Artist Gilead (yes, that is his whole name) teaches a few people the finer points of drawing tentacles for fun and profit.

Artist Gilead (yes, that is his whole name) teaches a few people the finer points of drawing tentacles for fun and profit.

They'll let anyone on these panels--even officers from Star Fleet.

They’ll let anyone on these panels–even officers from Star Fleet.

I was trying to take a picture of a table full of fannish t-shirts when a woman wearing a fannish t-shirt walked into it and blocked out half the picture.

I was trying to take a picture of a table full of fannish t-shirts when a woman wearing a fannish t-shirt walked into it and blocked out half the picture.

The "mand" in Mandy stands for "Command". She ran the art show, helped with registration, and generally tried to keep the convention functioning normally.

The “mand” in Mandy stands for “Command”. She ran the art show, helped with registration, and generally tried to keep the convention functioning normally.

Scientce!

Scientce!

The hotel has a beautiful fountain. We've been here before in earlier blogs.

The hotel has a beautiful fountain. We’ve been here before in earlier blogs.

Would you believe that Curt Stubbs here was once known as Captain Coors, and that he helped bring the World Science Fiction Convention to Phoenix in 1978? It's true. He was also Con Chairman for LepreCon 1, I think. I was there, but I can't really remember that far back.

Would you believe that Curt Stubbs here was once known as Captain Coors, and that he helped bring the World Science Fiction Convention to Phoenix in 1978? It’s true. He was also Con Chairman for LepreCon 1, I think. I was there, but I can’t really remember that far back.

The Staff Lounge--where hard working staff and con participants like me could go to party.

The Staff Lounge–where hard working staff and con participants like me could go to party.

The staff lounge had food . . . and television, and comfy places to sit.

The staff lounge had food . . . and television, and comfy places to sit.

My favorite hangout was the game room. Here's a game much too complicated to even consider playing.

My favorite hangout was the game room. Here’s a game much too complicated to even consider playing.

The Pathfinder role-playing game over there ran for the whole weekend.

The Pathfinder role-playing game over there ran for the whole weekend.

Many goodies were to be had in the Barry Bard movie previews panel late Sunday afternoon.

Many goodies were to be had in the Barry Bard movie previews panel late Sunday afternoon.

Eager fen wait for their number to be called.

Eager fen wait for their number to be called.

Mark calls the numbers. There was a prize for everyone who attended. I got a black t-shirt (of course).

Mark calls the numbers. There was a prize for everyone who attended. I got a black t-shirt (of course).

They call your number. You go up and claim a prize.

They call your number. You go up and claim a prize.

My son James is developing a bald spot (and he's only 23). He looked so frustrated every time they called a number that was almost his number. It was kind of funny to watch him from across the room.

My son James is developing a bald spot (and he’s only 23). He looked so frustrated every time they called a number that was almost his number. It was kind of funny to watch him from across the room.

 

With the loot all distributed, James and I went back to the game room for a few more games of cards like Parade, which uses an Alice in Wonderland deck that I want. By 5 p.m. it was time to go home, and so farewell to another fabulous science fiction event!

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If you have things to tell about LepreCon or funny stories from other sci-fi cons, why not leave a comment?

–end

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Tabletop Games Day 2014   5 comments

Saturday, April 5, 2014 was National Tabletop Games Day, an occasion for people to get together face to face and play board games, card games, role-playing games, miniatures. Savvy game store owners all over America promoted this event by making space available for people to come in and game. I say it proudly. I’m a gamer. I would not miss it. What follows is my record of the day. I hope the rest of you had as much fun as I did.

2014-04-05 01.59.59

Here I am at the front door of Imperial Outpost Games at 49th Avenue and Thunderbird in Glendale, Arizona, ready for action.

2014-04-05 02.00.42

Darrenn is owner/manager of the Imperial Outpost. Hard to find a friendlier, nicer guy. He has done more to promote the cause of face to face gaming in Phoenix than anyone else I know, and in the process has built the best game store and hangout for gamers in the city.

2014-04-05 02.01.56

It’s a room full of gamers having fun.

2014-04-05 02.02.13

Yes, it’s true. Gamers are mostly male, but look there’s a woman in the mix enjoying herself, and also an elf.

2014-04-05 02.02.30

Shelves full of games . . .

2014-04-05 02.02.59

Elf playing Firefly, a science fiction game based on a Joss Whedon television program and movie. Is that Family Guy sitting next to her?


2014-04-05 02.05.04

Finally, some people I know. Starting with the purple t-shirt and going clockwise: Jessie Foster, Unknown Gamer Guy, Will, Devon, Heather. (I admit that I am terrible with names. I’ve never met Unknown Gamer Guy, and it’s only thru years of friendship that I know Jessie’s last name.)

2014-04-05 02.05.18

A second room full of gamers.

2014-04-05 02.15.50

The first game I played–Ticket to Ride, USA. I took second (out of five) in this game.

2014-04-05 03.16.28

The second game I played. Sushi Go. I learned more about sushi in one game than I had ever known before. Came in tied for last out of five players.

2014-04-05 03.52.40

Bwa ha ha ha ha! I am a terrible photographer. My plan was just to get the t-shirts without heads because I wanted to focus on t-shirt messages, but the camera’s field of view was a little higher than I knew, and so I caught the excellent gamer beards of James St. Andre on the left and Jessie Foster on the right. It’s kind of weird how they both assumed the same stance for having their pix taken. I did not notice it at the time.

2014-04-05 05.21.41

My friend, Vic, stops by to say hello to Jessie during our game of Bohnanza. Believe it or not, this is a German game about being a bean farmer. Supply side economics meets Diplomacy and the Wall Street Stock Exchange. The real action is in bean trading.

2014-04-05 05.22.12

Munchkin was there.  It was kind of hard to get Devon away from computer games on her Kindle.

2014-04-05 05.28.44

I don’t know this woman, but she has bright green hair. That comes straight out of Japanese anime.

2014-04-05 06.40.34

Jason Youngdale and Vic are playing Qwirkle. Something like a non-numeric form of dominoes. I don’t know the game, but it looks like fun.

2014-04-05 06.41.17

I don’t know this game either, but it’s impressive in its complexity and graphics.

2014-04-05 07.01.30

Starting with the guy in the red shirt, Rob, James, Nathaniel and the empty seat is mine. The game is Seafarers of Catan, and I won by a single point. This was the last game I played at the Outpost. I had been there for over 7 hours, and was getting very hungry.

2014-04-05 08.35.10

I saw this great miniatures setup on the way out. Look at those dice pyramids in the background!

2014-04-05 08.36.15

John Wick (black t-shirt), his wife Ro (in purple), Gillian and two guys I don’t know were having supper near the front door as I exited. This was the last shot I got, but it shows gamers still having fun even when I was calling it enough for the day.

The gaming party probably continued until midnight or later. I had a great time. I saw some friends. I got some laughs. I exercised my brain (yeah, gaming makes you think.) I pronounce Tabletop Gaming Day in the Phoenix area a great success.

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If you did some face to face gaming on Gaming Day, why not leave a comment? This is the perfect opportunity to boast about your victories or moan about your defeats and mention the games you played. We’re gamers. We’ve all been there, and we know how you feel. As Wil Wheaton says, “PLAY MORE GAMES!”

–end

Laughing Moon Con 2014   Leave a comment

Today’s entertainment was a trip to Litchfield Park, west of Phoenix, for a mini gaming event held by a high school gaming club. It is called Laughing Moon Con, and is named after the Laughing Moon rpg created by Todd VanHooser, a high school teacher there. This is the second time I’ve gone.  I like it a lot. Go in. Do some gaming. See  your friends. Leave when you’re ready. No muss, no fuss. A good time is had by all.  I had my little camera and took a bunch of pix, and this is how I spent Saturday, March 22, 2014.

2014-03-21 23.12.37

2014-03-21 23.17.00

Jessie Foster, leader of the Arizona Men in Black, is, I believe, the best known, and most popular gamer in Phoenix. He was the  fourth person I saw that I knew at the con, and the first to get his picture taken.
2014-03-21 23.18.59 2014-03-21 23.22.53 2014-03-21 23.23.54

I spent a little time teaching Purple Warrior Girl how to fight. Great costume and makeup!

2014-03-21 23.27.14

I spent a couple of quality minutes with my favorite pirate queen author. Her trolls aren’t quite as big and mean as mine.

2014-03-21 23.47.21 2014-03-21 23.47.59 2014-03-22 00.09.14 2014-03-22 00.30.36

I invented anew game for the occasion. Troll Race used components from the Cave Troll game to serve as a board. Used some minis that Trollhallans sent me as game pieces. The combat system was rock/scisssors/paper and worked well. It was a game about trolls. It started as a race, but always ended in thuggery, with the winner of the last fight also winning the game.

2014-03-22 00.52.08 2014-03-22 00.52.27 2014-03-22 00.52.42

The Arizona Men in Black were playing Munchkin.

2014-03-22 00.53.19

Jim Miller spent his time playing Dust–sci-fie World War II action.

2014-03-22 02.24.28

You know, Frankenstein’s monster was a zombie.

2014-03-22 02.26.02

Kitt, the car in the old Knight Rider TV series, lives in Arizona now, and sometimes shows up for car shows and game conventions.

2014-03-22 02.28.02 2014-03-22 02.32.02 2014-03-22 02.32.36

Con Chairman Donald Jacques was promoting the upcoming (May) LeprecCon with firings of his home-made trebuchet.

2014-03-22 02.32.57 2014-03-22 02.35.03

Don let me shoot it once. You see that tree behind the Con pavilion. My 5-pound shot knocked a piece out of it (just a branch) As a gunner, I was no threat to whoever might have been living in the target castle.

I spent a little over 3 hours at the Convention, had a good time, left when I got hungry. James and I went home, got some pizza, and went back to doing computery things–my life most of the time.  Wrote a blog, this one, so it’s time now to adjudicate turn 4 of the Dominance 12 game I’m running for members of Trollhalla.

If you’ve ever fired a trebuchet, or gone to a mini-gaming event like Laughing Moon Con, or hugged a pirate queen, why not leave a comment?

–end