Find Me at Gen Con Indy

I will be at GenCon Indy this weekend. I arrive on Tuesday for setup, and won't fly home until Monday the 18th, and yes, this means the convention is eating a week of buffer. Like a voracious monster with 70,000 mouths... GenCon2014-1437-ZubTaylerHickman

Find me in Booth 1437 with Jim Zub and Tracy Hickman. We're pretty much smack-dab in the center of the exhibit hall, facing the Asmodee folks. Is there convention-exclusive merchandise? Yes, there is!

Exclusive pins

(Note: for those unable to attend GenCon, these exclusives can be purchased during the month of August if you've got the "Schlock Troops" level of patronage ($2.50/mo) over on Patreon.)

We'll have plenty of other goodies, including the sale-priced ten-book bundle, and the latest Schlock Mercenary title, Longshoreman of the Apocalypseand not only can you get me to sketch in the back of that at no charge, Zub can sign it for you too! He wrote the bonus story (and it is awesome). Zub will have Skullkickers collections, and will happily tell you all about Wayward, his new project. He'l also be signing comic books galore - PathfinderSamurai JackFigmentSkullkickers, and more - and maybe, just maybe you'll be able to coax a commission out of him. (Hint: use money.)

Tracy will be signing books and books and books (thirty years of writing will do that), and will have his Sojourner Tales game! Brand new!

My schedule is pretty packed. If you have to pick just one thing, you should pick my solo presentation at 7pm on Thursday, "Crafting Humor for the Page."

Here's my full schedule:

THURSDAY
  • 12pm -- Room 245:  Cliches and Stereotypes, with Susan Morris, Erin Evans, David B. Coe, and Brad Beaulieu
  • 1pm-6pm -- Booth 1437 (with occasional breaks)
  • 7pm -- Room 245: Crafting Humor for the Page, my solo presentation!
FRIDAY
  • 10am-1pm -- Booth 1437
  • 2pm -- Room 243: Author Networking 101, with Kerrie Hughes, Kameron Hurley, Marc Tassin, and Carrie Harris
  • 3pm-5pm -- Booth 1437
  • 6pm - Room 243:  Getting Great Reviews, with Susan Morris, Steve Diamond, and Kelly Swails
SATURDAY
  • 10am-12pm -- Booth 1437
  • 1pm -- Room 245: Writer's Life: Tales from the Trenches with Don Bingle, Howard Tayler, Ed Greenwood, Michael Stackpole, and James Sutter
  • 2pm -- Westin, Capitol III: XDM - X-treme Dungeon Mastery, with Tracy Hickman (note: I'll be a little late and a lot out of breath.)
  • 4pm-6pm -- Booth 1437
SUNDAY
  • 10am-3pm -- Booth 1437 (note that Jim and I will be there, but Tracy will not! If you want to catch up with Mr. Hickman, don't wait until Sunday to try.)

Lots of folks, including business partners, peers, fans, and fellow gamers, have asked about my evening schedule, or about "catching lunch" at the convention. Unfortunately, lunch is taken on the run, and my evenings are booked with private meetings or crash time.

There is one, and only one free-floating event, and that is the GenCon Indy Schlock Mercenary RPG playtest. I made that sound WAY MORE OFFICIAL than it really is. Alan will be holding a few of these, catch-as-catch can. Find Alan at GenCon!  I will be able to attend (as a player) exactly one of these. I don't know which one. If you want to maximize your chances of playing or watching, follow @AlanBahr@HowardTayler, and/or @Schlocktroops on Twitter.

 

(crossposted from howardtayler.com)

Three Tweets, because Robin Williams

Three tweets from me. These aren't my full thoughts on the matter, but for 140-character distillations, they come surprisingly close.

(cross-posted from howardtayler.com)

What's That Music in the Background?

I listen to a lot of music, and sometimes I listen to the same music a lot.

I studied music at BYU (Bachelor's degree in Music Composition with an emphasis in Sound Recording Technology) and for a long time I thought my career path was a musical one. Turns out I was wrong.

Shattered dreams aside, I love listening to music while I work. This post is a quick run-down of my top five albums for "getting work done." With just one exception, these are film scores, which seem particularly well-suited for evoking emotion without having a singer tell me what I'm supposed to be feeling.

Counting down to #1, then:

Pacific Rim Soundtrack from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legen

5) Pacific Rim Soundtrack from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, by Ramin Djawadi

The movie did not work its magic on me, not the way it did for many of my friends. I guess I had physics on the brain, or something.

Fortunately, the album doesn't require any suspension of disbelief. It's lively, and does a good job generating a contemporary/futuristic feel using a pretty standard suite of orchestral and electronic instruments.

My first and last track playcounts: 89 and 79.

Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters - Music from the Motion Pic 24) Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters - Music from the Motion Picture by Atli Örvarsson

When I first heard this score I thought that Hans Zimmer was channeling Danny Elfman.

As it happens, Atli Örvarsson was under Zimmer's direction, and they were shooting for "dark and quirky," so I don't think I was that far off.

My first and last track playcounts: 101 and 82. This isn't in the #1 slot because as of this writing it's feeling just a little played-out. For now, anyway.

Godzilla_ Original Motion Picture Soundtrack3) Godzilla: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, by Alexandre Desplat

I had a physics problem with Pacific Rim, but I let Godzilla get by me? DON'T YOU JUDGE ME.

This score had a long history of Godzilla scores to live up to, and I think it works wonderfully. Like a lot of modern scores it is reminiscent of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring (especially Dance of the Adolescents,) and while that heavily dissonant, crunching arrythmia isn't for everybody, I think it's great for the big guy.

Also, great for writing to. This is the newest addition to the list, but it's been a real go-to album for me lately. My first and last track playcounts: 25 and 25.

Pirates of the Caribbean_ On Stranger Tides (Soundtrack fro2) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture), by Hans Zimmer, featuring Rodrigo y Gabriela

I'm a sucker for Zimmer's work. Say what you want about his stuff all sounding the same, I find him incredibly versatile, and the way he worked Rodrigo y Gabriela's virtuousity into the score is brilliant and delightful.

The remixed tracks at the end of the album are huge fun and very punchy. My first and last track playcounts: 38 and 25. I use this one "sparingly," but have been coming back to it a lot in recent weeks. 

Random Friday

1) Random Fridayby Solar Fields

It's not a soundtrack. It's a through-composed electronic-atmospheric dance album, and there's a super-cool feature to it: The 86-minute collection of 10 tracks has been concatenated into a "Continuous Mix" track that is 78 minutes long.

This album is perfect for a long work session, especially penciling or inking. It starts nice and easy, then picks up the pace, and then tapers off right at the end... and then does it again, with 8 minutes of padding shaved off. It is a two-hour-and-forty-four minute workbeat to which a lot of Schlock has been written and illustrated.

The continuous track has 82 playcounts. First and last of the other tracks are 49 and 56, because I will sometimes start in the middle of the "regular" track list in order to build a playlist that is exactly as long as I have time for.

These are just my current top five, mind you. Of course, while I was writing the list I was listening to Jablonsky's score for Ender's Game, which is far, far better than that film was. Also note that while I've linked all of these to their Amazon pages (which is where I'm buying most of my music lately) they're available on iTunes, and probably lots of other places.

(crossposted from howardtayler.com)

Into the Storm

Into the Storm had a lot of tornadoes in it, but no sharks.  ZERO. Nary a one. Into The Storm

One of the tornadoes caught fire, and that kind of made up for it. Another one was full of tractor trailers, and several tornadoes filled up on barn components. I could be wrong, but I get the feeling that if you can name a common thing (but not a shark) this movie put that thing into a tornado.

Surprisingly, at least two of the tornadoes had Thorin Oakenshield in them, though he was in his six-two, beardless Richard Armitage form. No axe. Pocketknife.

Enough silliness. This movie was far more enjoyable than it had any real reason to be. The "found footage" conceit worked against it, at least to my tastes, but even when they were talking directly to the cameras for posterity, every character on screen was more interesting, more engaging, and more believable than the Megan Fox incarnation of April O'Neil. And I include the four characters who died in the first scene.

In 1996's Twister our excuse for seeing lots of funnel clouds was that we were following storm chasers, and they were chasing storms pretty effectively. Into the Storm took a different approach, the "what do you mean there's ANOTHER cell coming?" approach. Remember that scene in Twister where Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt get to look up into the eye of the tornado? Into the Storm one-ups that moment in a beautiful way.

That said, Into the Storm is very much middle-of the-pack fare. It feels like a high-budget, made-for-TV movie, and I don't think you have any reason to see it in theaters if Guardians of the Galaxy is still playing, and you still have movie money, and friends who have not yet seen Guardians of the Galaxy. As of this writing, Into the Storm comes in at #15 for me for the year.

(cross-posted from howardtayler.com)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I think I've figured out what it is that Michael Bay is doing wrong.

I don't know exactly how he does it, but what he seems to be doing is bringing really fun stories to the live-action silver screen while draining as much fun from them as possible. Then he bottles that fun and hoards it, no doubt as part of a nefarious plan to digress from the review and oh... okay, right.

TMNT-2014So. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There's this scene where captured turtles are being drained, literally, with tubes, and it felt just a little too on the nose. Like "this is what I'm doing to this franchise, GET IT?"

It's not all bad, though. The portrayal of the turtles themselves was fun. The character designs were spectacular, the performances were spot-on, and the dialog was pretty clever. Oh, and the downhill chase scene in the snow was pretty cool, too.

Sadly, the film follows the wrong POV. Perhaps a different actress or a different script could have gotten me to care about April O'Neil's career as a journalist, but following her around was boring. Also Megan Fox failed completely to convince me that she was an ambitious reporter, anxious to get off of the fluff-piece-of-the-day beat. When the turtles weren't on the screen, the movie dragged.

The audience at our 10:30pm showing seemed to be predominantly 20-something males, with a few 10-year-olds out late with their parents. This crowd laughed in many of the right places, but it sounded like nervous laughter. These were the laughs people make when they're desperately hoping this is the point where the movie turns around and gets good. But it wasn't. It never was. I joined them, laughing as if to believe, but it wasn't enough.

Michael Bay's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles did not destroy my childhood, nor did it ruin my enjoyment of the comics, the Nickelodeon series, or even the side-scrolling video game. It also did not clear the Threshold of Disappointment. If that region is a sewer, then the turtles of  metaphor are probably too on the nose. And their noses looked weird. And this review ended in a strange place.

(post mirrored from howardtayler.com)

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