Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Night Of The Lepus Vs. Food Of The Gods

* = Your welcome David...

Vampire Jesus’ Day is in the rearview mirror and I’m hoping that just like the Big ‘J.C.’ I’ll be ‘rising’ from the proverbial grave. My knee gets better day by bloody day, but it is an uphill battle. My lovely wife is sick as a dog, and that sucks because it makes me feel very helpless. The house is a wreck and next weekend we’re going to have to spend the entire two days getting it back to where we want it. It just feels as if it’s not one thing it is another. I’m tired. It has made me tired.

Sure it could be worse, but I just need a friggin’ break. I don’t even need a big one, any break will do. Even something small to remind me that even though the last 4 to 5 months have sort of sucked good things are on the horizon, that we can see a light at the end of that dark tunnel. I’m currently not seeing that light. At all. However, all I can do is put my head down and charge into the dark unknown of life hoping that it will turn around.

I guess all I can do is have faith; in my wonderful wife, my amazing Friends, my family, and in myself. Faith is such a strange thing; it feels so damn irrational to me. I can put it unconditionally into people I know and trust, but otherwise I tend to be such a pessimist that it’s hard to find it in anyone or anything else that inspires it. So I’m trying to wrap my head around thinking that the future will be anything more than the same, but it has to be. It just has to be.

More of this would be unbearable, and I won’t stand for it. I simply will not. Enough of that crap how about we get onto something a bit less crusty and introspective.

I finished R.A. Salvatore’s ‘The Sellswords’ trilogy (*** ½ out of 5).
I’ve never been a huge fan of the concept of the anti-hero as the main protagonist, but I have to admit that Salvatore drew me in with this trilogy of the journey of Jarlaxle and his ‘friendArtemis Entreri. For those that don’t know in Salvatore’s Drizzt books Entreri has been one of if not THE main antagonist. He’s a brutal assassin obsessed with defeating the heroic Drow Ranger in a battle to the death. Enteri is generally written as being detached, antisocial, and completely in control of himself. However as the books progress we are led to believe that he also has a moral code, as messed up as it is. He is possessed of a brilliant mind, if not obsessive in nature. And more than anything he is shown to be a fundamentally damaged human being. This is especially true when he is forced to live among the debased Drow of the Underdark, which makes his ‘friendship’ with the Drow mercenary Jarlaxle all the more puzzling. Jarlaxle is a contradiction in terms. He is a male in a female dominated culture that is in power. He is cunning, but bizarrely caring. He has a wicked wit and sense of humor, and is more of a trickster than a murderous zealot to a Goddess obsessed with Chaos. He is one of my favorite characters Salvatore has created because you never know what you are going to get. Everything Jarlaxle says and does are simple strands in a MUCH larger scheme that he may abandon at any moment as his whim sweeps him. The thing is he DOES look at Artemis as his ‘Friend’, and it becomes abundantly obvious through these three books that while ‘Friendship’ is important to Jarlaxle it doesn’t quite mean the same thing that it would to a human. See and there is the ‘rub’ of my feelings on the books. I want to like them, hell in spots I LOVE them, but overall it’s the fact that you KNOW it isn’t going to end in a satisfying manner that kills it for me. You know that no matter what happens, Artemis, no matter his personal growth and journey, he will never find happiness. It will simply be a dangled carrot above his head. That to me makes it difficult to enjoy. I also know that there is no chance of the two characters being killed, and in that it saps a bit of the threat out of the book. As much as I adore the idea of Jarlaxle being this cat that always lands on his feet character there are little consequences to his actions or failures, he doesn’t seem to grow. Couple that with the addition of Athrogate, who I find annoying, and you have some built in issues that prevent me from loving these books the way I want to. I know you are thinking, “…but Ben just tell me about the F’Ning books!” No. I’m not going to go into details, but I’ll say that the first tale dealing with the crystal shard from the previous Drizzt tales is good, but not great, although it did have Cadderly the Cleric in it, which was awesome. The second tale regarding the Witch-King’s legacy is far better and more enjoyable. The third tale is the best, but strangely uneven. I liked the ending moments with King Gareth with Jarlaxle having a small speech that was BRILLIANT, but the resolution to the trio’s time in the Bloodlands and the subsequent trip south so Enteri could resolve his ‘issues’ felt tacked on. The other thing that really irritated me was the way the final book ended. No matter what is said you KNOW that this isn’t the end of the two main characters relationship, and that bothers me. Salvatore’s characters would be far better served if he would leave some of them dead, retired, or leave their tales told. He feels this need to go back and add more. I would have loved for Enteri to have just gone back to old haunts and disappear to never be seen again. Instead it turns into, ‘for the next chapter in the adventures of…’ so it loses any impact it may have had. I know it sounds like I most likely didn’t like the trilogy based upon on all the complaining that I’m doing, but the reality is they are a solid three book ‘chapter’ in a MUCH larger tale. Good, but not great stuff.

Since it was another week that means we received another round of Skulls And Shackles Pathfinder miniatures previews!
First up this week is Lirianne. She is the ‘Iconic Gunslinger’ of the Pathfinder world. I know some people HATE the idea of guns in their fantasy settings, but I for one am all for it. A limited amount of black powder weapons, especially when they are unreliable adds something interesting to the mix. I like this miniature quite a bit. I like the pose as it almost has a cowgirl-ish, Kate Beckinsale in Van Helsing vibe to it. I can’t really tell how good the face looks from this picture, but the rest of it is rock solid. There are a lot of do dads and thingee-ma-jigs on her belt, the cape has great flow to it, and it’s enough of a static pose mixed with the beginning or ending of ‘action’ to be dynamic. This would be a superb PC mini or a great NPC, especially in the 2nd D&D Group’s more pirate adventures. This one is a MUST BUY for me.
Next up is Tsadok, a Half-Orc Pirate. I like the fact that they are making a concerted effort to match the palate tone of the previous Orc and Half-Orc minis they have produced with some slight variations. That being said he seems a bit ‘bright’ green to me. Perhaps that is just because he has a rockin’ red coat! I really dig the colors with the red and gold trim, with the dark clothes beneath. The pose is solid, and I like the blade and pistol in hand. It feels like an ‘Under Boss’ or strong NPC. Overall this mini just screams PIRATE! Again though I really wish I could get a better look at the face. Even without a better gander at its mug I’m calling this one a MUST BUY.
Last, but not least is Kerdak. In my opinion THIS is the best of the lot. First off he’s obviously a Pirate Captain, look at that sweet beard and hat. Secondly, he’s sluggin’ down a mug full of gods knows what, which really gives the piece some interesting character. Thirdly, that mug is NOTHING compared to the fact that the hand holding the pistol is SKELETAL! So he’s a Human Pirate Captain and he has an Undead Hand? That demands that he has an incredible backstory. I haven’t taken the time to peruse through the Skulls And Shackles Adventure Path, but based upon this miniature I now NEED to. The pose is just alright, but it is oozing personality which makes up for it being so static. The colors are perfect, and something I wish that I as a painter was a bit more comfortable with. There is something to be said about being able to paint in subtle to no variations of a color and having it work without coming off as just a blob. I’ve noticed in the Pathfinder Miniatures line they have been able to do this VERY effectively whereas in the later sets of the DDM line they could not. Setting that observation aside I adore this miniature and WILL be picking it up. This one is a MUST BUY for anyone with or without a pulse.

How about we wrap this thing up with some…


- The next round of E-bay lots went up yesterday and within 2 hours one had sold. Perhaps my E-bay luck is turnin’ around. Oh, thanks to David & Cassandra for their help!
- If you are looking for interesting miniatures then look no further than Hardwood HobbiesSinbad’ line. They have a really cool old school Sinbad movies feel, seem to be well sculpted, and are a very reasonable price. In fact so much so I picked up the two new additions; Niyaf The Slave Girl & Vizier Of Morabia, both of which were on sale. I’m looking forward to painting them, especially the Vizier who could make a really cool cult leader, NPC Wizard, or even a mysterious PC.
- The NFL Draft is this month. I think I have goose bumps.
- It looked like Saturday was going to be in the 60’s up until yesterday evening. I had high hopes that would be the case so we could bust out the fire pit. For whatever reason I don’t think I’ll really feel that winter has ‘ended’ until we pull that thing out and burn some wood. There isn’t much in the world I enjoy more than just hanging out around the pyre laughing and joking with my wife and friends. It is beyond relaxing and refresthing.
- To my knowledge my Reaper Bones haven’t shipped yet. I think when they do I might spaz out. Seriously.
- Dungeon Crawl Miniatures Kickstarter has sort of stalled. Sure it is already funded, but DAMMIT I want more! Just take a look at the painted glory that is the Botanimoth painted.
First off I have to say it matches the color of the previous DCM release of ‘Tentacles’, i.e. the vine in that set. Which you can see in the top left hand shot. The greens are perfect; the drawing red and yellow of the maw is absolutely gorgeous, and I think the shade in the leaves is fantastic. I like the open mouth pose, but with the paint you can now see all the tiny heads of the plant nestled under the main ‘bud’. This thing is just a deadly beauty to behold. The only thing I’d like to see it get is a good dark wash to bring out all those subtle lines and crevasses and take the ‘brightness’ down a smidge. I still can’t get over the sheer size of this monstrosity. It is enormous. They need your support to get it to this level, so go forth and pledge.
If that doesn’t inspire you how about the massive tentacle! This fits perfectly with the previous tentacle release, seen here looking up at its massive progenitor. It also fits perfectly with the Kraken that is already ‘unlocked’ and funded by the project. As I’ve stated before I love the detail and texture in the sculpt itself, it gives it an ‘otherworldly’ feel. Secondly, I adore the color choices. It elicits a feeling of being underwater. Thirdly, it’s a BIG ASS tentacle! What more do you really need? WHAT?! As I’ve said before I adore this company and what they are trying to get done with this Kickstarter, which I can’t state enough is FUNDED, and their line of miniatures. If you pledge you can also purchase their other previous pre-painted releases or get them for $1.30 in their ‘Natural’ (Unpainted) form. I know that is where a significant amount of my pledge is going. So again, go forth, check out their Kickstarter, and please PLEDGE!
- There isn’t much better than hot tea with a spoon of honey.

I’m sure I might have had more to yammer on about, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it would have been. Stay tuned as I’m going to put up a Photo Blog today of miniatures that Cassandra and I painted a while back.

“She says she loves these United States of America
and the flag for which it stands, of thee I sing
And she tells me she's a liar but I don't believe her
She'll tell me almost anything

Placin' your bet on a horse that never left the gate now
got nothin' left on your plate
but it's better than walkin' around
lookin' for another man to subjegate
better than wondering what it was she just ate

Did I make a mistake when I turned it on?
Was my dance pattern right?
Was my dance pattern wrong?
Did I make a mistake when I sang the song?
Was my vox too sexy?
Was my vox too strong?

Now you navigate your way around the treacherous terrain
try not to step in the Darvocet and the Novocaine
and you're stuck in the corner listening to some guy talk about his screenplay
and the crazy things he did one night in Spain

Did I make a mistake when I turned it on?
Was my dance pattern right?
Was my dance pattern wrong?
Did I make a mistake when I sang the song?
Was my vox too sexy?
Was my vox too strong?

My dance pattern is everything that matters to me
The blood splatters, you should see the suckas scatter
Man it really is a sight to see

Well we've seen the years go by
but it seems we've reached the end of the line
And there ain't no happy ending
when you're constantly pretending
that the good lord ripped you out of my side

and this time there are no feelings
and it feels like there's no time
and it feels like it's time to let my feelings do some talking
some time, every time, every time I dance with you

Did I make a mistake when I turned it on?
Was my dance pattern right?
Was my dance pattern wrong?
Did I make a mistake when I sang the song?
Was my vox too sexy?
Was my vox too strong?

Did I make a mistake when I turned it on?
Was my dance pattern right?
Was my dance pattern wrong?
Did I make a mistake when I sang the song?
Was my vox too sexy?
Was my vox too strong?”

    * = Cassandra, David, & Mick I'm looking at you...

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