The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #391: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About Ofelas (Pathfinder, 1987)

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #391: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About Ofelas (Pathfinder, 1987)

https://archive.org/download/podcast-391/Podcast%20391.mp3

This week, my brother and I are watching the 1987 Norwegian film, Ofelas (English title = Pathfinder) which we watched as kids.  It is quite hard to find now, as it is not streaming anywhere and to my knowledge, is out of print, at least in the US.  Of course, you can go flying the Jolly Roger route, but if you like looking for physical media, you are in for a hunt, at least in the US.  You may be able to find an old VHS copy (we originally watched it on VHS; our local library had it) on eBay at very high prices, but unless you have a multiregion DVD player, it’s pretty hard to get on DVD as well.  Just before recording the intro, however, I looked again and found a region 0 DVD (playable anywhere) version of the film in Europe and snagged it.  When I went to see if there others out there to post here, there were now no more listings!  So that means these versions are out there, just hard to find.

Here are some clips, however.

This is the only film I have seen that features the Sami language (the people indigenous to parts of Scandinavia).  I got interested in their culture some years back when researching dwellings for Logan and Aurora for The Thirteenth Hour sequels.  I originally wanted to given them a house made out of the side of a hill but thought that would be highly unrealistic for two people with hand tools and zero heavy machinery.  So I started looking at how indeigenous people created their habitations, and for a snowy envionment (as I expected Logan and Aurora’s island to be, far down in the southern hemispshere of their realm), I figured that if something worked for the Sami, who dealt with snow and ice for much of the year, it would work for my protagonists, too. 

A traditional turf "Goahti", a sami hut constructed with 3… | Flickr

The Sami traditionally lived in, among other dwellings, circular yurts called goathi (in Northern Sami) which were wooden framed huts covered with sticks and other natural available materials, like earth.  They’re basically like tepees used by Plains Native Americans.  Because of the conical design, snow would slide off, and it would be (I would think) a bit easier to pile material on top in a more seamless way due to the absence of sharp angles.  Also, if the earth started to meld with the dirt, and vegetation started to grow from it, you’d have basically what I originally was thinking about – a dwelling in an above ground hole (maybe like a Hobbit hole).  You can see many examples (covered with skins and snow) in the film.   While I imagine you’d get cold in the winter quickly if the heating source went out, the small quarters probably would warm up quickly.  There’s even a clip of some of the villagers in the film sitting in a goati converted to make a sauna.

In this clip from the sparse and quite brutal into of the film, you can see steam coming out of the snow covered dwelling where the main character’s family lives.

In this scene, the main character, Aigin, gets some wisdom dropped on him from the local shaman/mystic/bear killer/village pathfinder, Raste, who serves as a kind of mentor to the hero.  You can see some details in how the inside of the structure was constructed and probably insulated (with skins).

Check out Jeremy‘s work over at Pixel Grotto, CBR.com, and Classic Batman Panels on IG.  You can support his work on Ko-fi and get access to in-depth, exclusive Batman content here.   If you are of the DnD persuasion, his articles on DnD Beyond may be right up your alley.  Thanks, Jeremy, for coming on the show!  

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #390 and Like a Hood Ornament #47: Rocketeer Minifigure Resin Casting Updates and Making a Game Piece 2

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #389 and Like a H90 and Like a Hood Ornament #47: Rocketeer Minifigure Resin Casting Updates and Making a Game Piece 2ood Ornament #46: Rocketeer Minifigure Sculpt-along

https://archive.org/download/podcast-390/Podcast%20390.mp3

This week, I’m continuing a project started back in episode 384, making a little game piece of the Rocketeer.  My progress on that project was forestalled due to a batch of bad silicone, and it took awhile to get a new batch.  I ended up switching to a different line within the Smooth On catalog called Mold Star 16 (since I could find it), and it ended up working out great.  To celebrate, I made little cup molds of all the pieces of the Rocketeer mini figure parts I made last time (arms, legs, torso, head) as well as finally making a mold of the Rocketeer board game piece I prepared for molding in episode 384.

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I had fairly low expectations of how the game piece would turn out, but once I broke in the mold, it actually worked quite well despite the complexity and intricacy of the game piece.  

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I used one of the copies of the game piece to extract copies of the rocetpack and the helmet to modify the Hero Clix figure to the left (which I sanded down a bit to prepare it for the clay additions below – adding to the arms, making the chest bib with the buttons, and the jodhpurs).  It will then need to be sanded down once cured to smooth it all out.    

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I attached the head using a pin to hold it in place (in addition to some superglue).  I also angled the hed so it is looking a bit right, toward the upraised hand.  It just felt more dynamic a pose.  I just need to flesh out the smoke in back with some additional clay, sand things down, and then prime it for painting.

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The first resin Rocketeer minifigure duplicate made from the figure we created last week.  So far, I made four of them.

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Thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #389 and Like a Hood Ornament #46: Rocketeer Minifigure Sculpt-along

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #389 and Like a Hood Ornament #46: Rocketeer Minifigure Sculpt-along

https://archive.org/download/podcast-389/Podcast%20389.mp3

This week, we are trying something slightly new.  I’m sculpting a custom Rocketeer minifigure from a base Flash figure (the DC superhero) with Aves epoxy clay in real time, and am doing my best to describe the process just through audio so you can do it at the same time if you so wish.  If you want to follow along, here are the base materials:

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Tools are pretty minimal, but it may help to have an X-acto knife, some tools or pieces of thin wood to shape the clay, some Vaseline to smooth over the clay, and a Dremel for cutting down parts of the figure (if you wish – I shaved down parts of the shoulder to make the figure less top heavy) and sanding the final product.  Because of the size of the figure, it may also help to have a pair of reading glasses or a magnifying glass, though that is not required.  Good lighting, though, is very helpful (a camping headlamp can really help).

We are going to be sculpting jodhpurs, adding the front bib of the Rocketeer’s jacket, adding cuffs to the sleeves, and making the helmet.  The first four parts are basically adding pieces of clay and a bit of definition. 

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The next part is a bit more complex – adding clay to the head and then a piece of carboard to provide structure for the helmet’s fin.  Adding clay to the outside of the cardboard piece will be stronger when it all dries than just trying to make the fin out of clay alone. 

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Here is the final result.  After it all dries, I will do some final sanding to touch up a few spots.  I will also be reworking the shoulder joints a bit so they fit better.  I may also consider making molds of all the parts to be able to make resin casts of the pieces so make some duplicates.  

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I am using the same rocketpack I used for the Lego minifigures since the scale is about the same, though you could make your own (for the movie version – two torso sized bullet-shaped cylinders connected by a central rectangle).  Next step after all this will be priming and painting.

If you made one of these along with this episode, send me a picture or tag me on social media!  Would love to see wat you created.

Thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #388: Mega Contrux Custom DnD Thirteenth Hour Figures

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #388: Mega Contrux Custom DnD Thirteenth Hour Figures

https://archive.org/download/podcast-388/Podcast%20388.mp3

This week, I’m discussing a discovery I made awhile back when considering how to showcase figures in The Thirteenth Hour DnD style campaigns we have been doing over on the Patreon via Discord.  (I typically have a second camera set up to show an overhead view of the figures – so far, just during battles – this is an ongoing work in progress.)  I thought it would be fun to include some miniatures but wasn’t sure how to find ones that would fit. Plus, I wanted them to be able to hold things in their hands and be somewhat customizable.   Enter Mega Contrux minifigures.

Mega Bloks are a long time competitor of Lego that originally started as large scale bricks for young children, though just like Lego, they now have a number of highly complex, licensed properties more appropriate for the fingers and brains of older kids (and adults).   Mega also has much more detailed, articulated, and realistically proportioned minifigures, and those are the ones I used for making The Thirteenth Hour minifigures.  I started with a figure from their Assassin’s Creed line (I’m not sure who this guy is, but his costume has a number of similarities to the Imperial Ranger uniform – a tunic with large shoulders, grey pants, a hood, and a midsection piece that can be modified to make the triangular belt they wear).

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Just like Lego minifigures, the Mega ones break apart for easy customization.  

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This skirt can be flipped around to make belts when painted.

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From left to right – Aron, Blake, Lance, and Wander the wizard.

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Wander was made very quickly with the same base figure with a tunic and wizard’s hat made of the same material.  Added a bit of epoxy clay for hair and a beard.  As you can see, there is a Lego baseplate in the background which I have used for positioning the figures during the game.  One of the advantages of using these kinds of figures is that they have holes in their feet, making them easy to position.  Mega figures also can use the full range of Lego hand held accessories (of which there are many), which makes it nice to customize them.

Want to learn more?  Check Thirteenth Hour Arts out on Patreon!

Thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #387: Packaging for Upcoming Toy Projects!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #386: Packaging for Upcoming Toy Projects!

https://archive.org/download/podcast-387/Podcast%20387.mp3

This week, I’m discussing packing for some of the upcoming toy projects I have been working on – 3.75″ Rocketeer action figures, the similarly sized Thirteenth Hour figures, and the Thirteenth Hour magnet dolls (the later two are basically part if the same project – the upcoming Once Upon a Dream LP launch.   Each of these creative projects require some way to contain their respective parts, necessitating some kind of box with decorative coverart.  While I can’t say it’s my favorite part of the whole process, I do think the packaging is of similar importance to the piece of art itself – the package is for protection, foremost, and makes it easier to ship, but it is also an accessory in its own right.  It adds to the overall experience of the toy since it may add context, additional information or other pieces to collect, and a place to house the figure when it’s not being used.   

Here are some visuals to go along with the audio.  

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Thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #386: The Marginal Utility of Time, Reflections on 2022, and Future Goals

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #386: The Marginal Utility of Time, Reflections on 2022, and Future Goals

https://archive.org/download/podcast-386/Podcast%20386.mp3

Happy new year, and welcome to 2023!  This first episode of the new year is all about time.  Though time exists independent of all of us and will go on and on regardless of whether we exist in it or not, it is a finite resource for us living creatures.   I think of an expression (which I might be paraphrasing) that my mother, who studied economics in college sometimes used (one I thought was humorous due to the extravagance of the words) – “diminishing returns of marginal utilities.”  If I’m getting this correct, the “marginal utility” part describes the satisfaction that one experiences by consuming one unit of something.  While economists are usually referring to “utility” in terms of as a product, I think the concept applies to some nonpurchasable items as well, including time.  In some cases, the more time you have, the less you value it; yet when you have less, it becomes more and more precious.  Gaining even a bit more would yield a net positive marginal utility.  But none of us, regardless of our station in life, can get more of it.  We all have however much time we are given, and none of us know how much.

There is a quote from the novel “The Sheltering Sky” by Paul Bowles that is inscribed on Brandon Lee’s tombstone (it came up in one of his last, if not the last interview he did prior to his death) that is particularly poignant and gets at this idea:

“Because we do not know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. And yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you cannot conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, or five times more? Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”

Rocketeer creator Dave Stevens echoed similar sentiments when it came to his own work in ways I think many artists will be able to relate to.  In the podcast, I include a segment from one of Dave’s journals read by Billy Campbell from the documentary Dave Stevens: Drawn to Perfection

When I was initially writing The Thirteenth Hour as a teenager, I think I was trying to put these idea into words in my own way.  I suppose I had a different view of time since I was younger, but looking at it decades later, I think that is one of the underlying messages of the book – taking life by the reins and making the most of it, that the world can what you make of it if you believe in your dreams and don’t sit passively by, letting time pass you by.

Interestingly, the Buddhists have a slightly different take on this since they believe in do-overs.  Life, from a Buddhist perspective, is about suffering, and escaping this cycle of birth and rebirth is to finally find peace (a.k.a. nirvana).  But for those of us still in the world, there are some interesting insights in this drawing below of the samsara (wheel of life).  There is a segment of the wheel below (the one with the animals in it) that is called, not surprisingly, the animal realm.  The Buddhist view of non-human animals is that they are not as evolved, not as intelligent (human-centric, I know) and so creatures born into this part of the samsara earned their lot in life though past negative karmic action.  I don’t know if I agree with that, but I think you can also use aspects of this as an analogy for parts of human existence.  When we are in the animal realm, we are focused on survival – just getting through the day.  But when we get a breather and have better resources, we can enter into the higher realms where we have increasing ability to reflect on our situation and focus on more than day to day needs.  Times like the new year sometimes give us cause to stop, pause, and reflect on where we want to go.   So in this episode, I not only reflect on some of the positives of the past year and some goals for the one to come.

The Wheel of Life - Samsara | Thangka Mandala

Thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #385: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About Gremlins (1984)

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #385: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About Gremlins (1984)

https://archive.org/download/podcast-385/Podcast%20385.mp3

This week, my brother and I are watching the 1985 film, Gremlins, as this year’s Christmas episode.  It also will be the last episode of 2022 and a fun one to close out on.  Oddly enough, this was our first time seeing the film, and we both got a kick out of the fact that the whole movie was essentially based around a furry creature obtained in one of the New York Chinatowns referred to as “mogwai.”  I’m guessing this was supposed to be Cantonese, not a dialect I know, as it has quite a number of different sounds than Mandarin, which is more widely spoken.  The characters are usually the same from one dialect to another, but there may be slight variations to try to get a closer sound to the original spoken language.  After doing a little more digging, I found two possibilities for the characters – 魔鬼 (mo2 gui3 in Mandarin) or 魔怪 (mo2 guai4 in Mandarin), depending on who I talked to or where I looked – both general phrases that just generally mean “monster” or “demon.”  It was interesting that Gizmo, as he would later be called, seemed to be referred to as “mogwai” as his given name also, kind of like referring to your pet dog as “dog.”

At any rate, neither here nor there; quite an enjoyable film in our opinion!  A few notable scenes:

The kitchen scene where Mrs. Peltzer (Lorraine’s mom in Back to the Future!) goes medieval on a bunch of gremlins invading he kitchen.

There is a brief shot of a gremlin in pink legwarmers doing a backspin about 2.5 min into this clip where the delinquent gremlins are wreaking havoc on a local bar.

For a slightly different take on Gremlins, check out the episode from about 2 years ago on I Used to Like This One.

Check out Jeremy‘s work over at Pixel Grotto, CBR.com, and Classic Batman Panels on IG.  You can support his work on Ko-fi and get access to in-depth, exclusive Batman content here.   If you are of the DnD persuasion, his articles on DnD Beyond may be right up your alley.  Thanks, Jeremy, for coming on the show!  

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast Episode #384 and Like a Hood Ornament #45: Making a Rocketeer Game Piece 1

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast Episode #384 and Like a Hood Ornament #45: Making a Rocketeer Game Piece 1

https://archive.org/download/podcast-384/Podcast%20384.mp3

This week, I’m starting the process of casting part of the game piece that came with the Rocketeer board game to make a helmet and rocketpack to modify a Heroclix figure into a Cliff Secord!  We will pick this up in the new year (once I get some new silicone).  

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In this episode, we’ll be taking the Rocketeer game piece, adding some vents (toothpicks) to the protruding parts of the figure when it’s upside down, since the pour spout will be the base of the figure.  I’ll be using the helmet and pack to hopefully add to the Technocrat figure 

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These toothpicks will form the vents once the mold is made to carry the air out and hopefully help the areas that protrude fill.

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Turns out there wasn’t enough silicone to fill even this K-cup container, so we will shelve this project until next year.  But, I was able to case the upper body, which should be enough for my original intention.

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And here are some cast torsos next to the original Hero Clix game piece.  To be continued!

Lastly, last week, I was talking about a film called Max Q with Billy Campbell who plays a very Cliff Secord type of character.  If you liked the Rocketeer, you’ll probably like this film as well.  I really enjoyed it.  Sadly, it’s very hard to find, though a kind soul uploaded it to Youtube.  Check it out!  The entire playlist of all eight parts is here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQt_32e40QXFA5414DrH8SiyMtyax_VmP

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast Episode #383 and Like a Hood Ornament #45: Troll, Dave Stevens – Drawn to Perfection, Max Q, Airbrushing Rocketeer Figures, and Cleaning up a Resin Minifigure with Hot Water

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast Episode #383 and Like a Hood Ornament #45: Troll, Dave Stevens – Drawn to Perfection, Max Q, Airbrushing Rocketeer Figures, and Cleaning up a Resin Minifigure with Hot Water

https://archive.org/download/podcast-383/Podcast%20383.mp3

This week, I thought I’d start by sharing a few things I have seen recently.  They all relate to the Rocketeer / previous show guest Billy Campbell in some way, though that was mainly coincidental.  If you get the chance to check out a Norwegian film Billy has a small role in, Troll (it’s on Netflix), I think you’ll definitely enjoy it if you like monster movies in the vein of Godzilla.  Interestingly, Billy plays a paleontologist whose last name is “Secord” … coincidence?  Hmmm …

In addition, a documentary about Dave Stevens also was just released.  If you have any interest in Dave, the Rocketeer, or comic book writers and artists in general, it was really well done.  They do a nice job at capturing the inherent loneliness that sometimes besets almost anyone who engage in a creative disciple (most of whic, in my opinion comes from the fact the artist alone know what is inside and there are always translational errors in making that vision something real in the world bound by time, skill, and other finite resources.  

Interestingly, I happened to see this comic magazine from 1983 on eBay the other day.  It was an impulse buy mainly because it had an interview with Dave Stevens in it.  Thought I would include it here since it just came in the mail and is very much in line with what was discussed in the documentary.  

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Lastly, while I was looking for Dave Stevens stuff, I randomly found a film called Max Q that also has Billy Campbell in it.  He again plays a flier ut this time a shuttle commander.  So far, it has reminded me a bit of Spacecamp, one of my favorite films as a kid, and I’m quite enjoying this look at the space shuttle (which NASA no longer uses) as well as the score of the film.  Not sure where you can watch it, but a kind soul uploaded it on Youtube, which is where I found it to begin with.

Welcome to a special edition of The Thirteenth Hour Podcast with guest Billy Campbell (a.k.a. the Rocketeer)! This was initially done as a thank you for supporters of a series of charity auctions of custom Lego Rocketeers done to benefit the nonprofit Hero Initiative. You may also be watching this if you are a listener of The Thirteenth Hour podcast and unlocked this interview by answering a few trivia questions related to our guest. Or, you are watching this at some future date, probably for a slightly different but related charity project. However you got here, thanks for joining, and thank you to Billy Cambell for a fun, wide-ranging conversation about the Rocketeer, comic books, drawing, Dave Stevens, and more.

Next, I thought we’d wrap up with some more hands on stuff.  I’ve been experimenting with using an airbrush to lay down at least the first few coats on the Rocketeer action figures 

@13thhr

I’ve started painting the #resin #customactionfigures of the #Rocketeer and working on the cases. First time using an #airbrush for this kind of thing #resintoyartist #davestevens

♬ Rocketeer To The Rescue: End Credits from The Rocketeer – Dan Redfeld

Lastly, I record a section where I am using hot water to warm a resin figurine I made of Logan from The Thirteenth Hour to make the cleanup of flashing and other bits that would need to be sanded or filed away a bit easier.  I’m not sure if you can do this with all resin but at least the clear stuff it works for.

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #382: Making Rocketeer and Thirteenth Hour Xmas Decorations

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #382: Making Rocketeer and Thirteenth Hour Xmas Decorations

https://archive.org/download/podcast-382/Podcast%20382.mp3

This week, I’m working on Christmas decorations!  Gingerbread cookies and ornaments!  Here are some of the cookies I made with my kids and then decorated:

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The Rocketeer and Logan rocketing through the air (so to speak).

Since I’ve been doing resin work for a number of years, I have a bunch of mini figures lying around, so I took two and made ornaments – one metallic blue Logan and a painted Rocketeer figure:

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I also took one of the last Rocketeer figures I made (made with clear epoxy resin with blue mica powder mixed in) with silver highlights and made an ornament out of him, too.  This one felt a bit like the tin soldier from the Hans Christina Anderson story.  He came out of the mold in a way that all his parts were mismatched by a few mm, meaning they needed to be filed and Dremmelled even, and even then, did not quite fit together right.  He is, as a result, somewhat skinnier and slighter in build than his brothers.  HIs limbs did not quite fit in their joints very sturdily, either, but after enough reshaping, I got them in.  I don’t think the joints are that sturdy, though, just because the resin I used was not terribly durable to begin with and due to all the reshaping that had to be done.  However, I painted him up with silver highlights and decided that he just needed a new, different job befitting a Rocketeer – hovering in place as guardian of the tree.  I’m glad I salvaged him from the trash heap or the Kingdom of Misfit Toys and think he looks great.
 
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Thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #381: Making a Styrofoam VHS Case for the Thirteenth Hour Action Figures

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #381: Making a Styrofoam VHS Case for the Thirteenth Hour Action Figures

https://archive.org/download/podcast-381/Podcast%20381.mp3

This week, I’m working on making a reusable case out of styrofoam to fit in a paper VHS case that will house The Thirteenth Hour action figures I made plus their accessories.  I’m using a hot knife this episode to cut out styrofoam rectangles and then inserts in them to house the various parts.  I’ll have to try isolating the sound of the knife cutting through the foam – it sounds really cool!

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The first one I did to house Logan, Aurora, and their accessories.

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Here they are!  Now, just need to clean up the edges and make five more.  These will be for special editions of the next Thirteenth Hour album, Once Upon a Dream, which is coming soon.

Speaking of albums, there is a Thanksgiving weekend sale going on until 12:59 PM UTC, 12/1/22.  Grab Long Ago Not So Far Away, the first Thirteenth Hour soundtrack, on CD or cassette tape at 25% off list price on Bandcamp.

https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/merch

Use the following codes – thankful13cd for CDs and thankful13tp for tapes.
 
Plus, you’ll get a free gift thrown in (specify in checkout) – an adjustable Thirteenth Hour triple layer face mask (child or adult sized) or a iron/sew on patch.
 
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Thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #380: Making Homemade Shrinky Dinks

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #380: Making Homemade Shrinky Dinks

https://archive.org/download/podcast-380/Podcast%20380.mp3

This week, I’m discussing how I made homemade shrinky dinks using polystyrene (#6 plastic).  I experimented with both forms commonly found mostly in food packaging – styrofoam meat trays and clear plastic takeout and baked goods containers.  Of the two, I liked the clear ones best, since not only did I find they worked better, but you could color both sides (e.g. outline one side but color the back).  I found that adding a piece of parchment or freezer paper (which has a nonstick coating on one side) over the top of the film would keep the shrinky dink from folding in on itself (a problem I experienced with both the foam and clear kinds of polystyrene).  This tip I owe to Crafsman (see below), who did a video on making DIY shrinky dinks that I serendipitously saw when I was fiddling with this.  Check out his video:

In pictures:

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For this project, you can reuse #6 plastic, which is often hard to recycle anyway.

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Both the styrofoam and clear plastic forms work, though I personally found the clear form worked better.

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You will want to draw your design on, aiming for on the larger side if you can, as the picture really will shrink about at least 50%.

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One advantage of using styrofoam is that the colors stick better.  Light colors are fine, since they will darken when shrunk.

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My son colored most of this one in and added the rainbow and a little dedication 🙂

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I’m glad I took a picture beforehand, as my results were not great – the picture did shrink, just not in proportional ways.  It may have been a fluke, though.  I wonder if it stuck to the piece of freezer paper I put over it or the piece that was on the bottom.

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I had better luck with clear polystyrene takeout container lids.  I used Sharpie markers to color in these.

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Not all of these survived, unfortunately.  Some were victims of the experimentation process as I tried a variety of unsuccessful ways with a heat gun or uncovered in the oven. Regarding the latter, without someonthing over them, the pieces would commit suicide, essentially – they would shrivel up and fold on themselves, and the hot sides of the plastic would fuse together, rendering the image unintelligible.  

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This one worked pretty well.   Had a pretty big piece.  It shrank relatively proportionally.  Below are some of the more successful shrinky dinks made with this method.

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Give it a try!  Thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #379: Making a Thirteenth Hour VHS Cover

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #379: Making a Thirteenth Hour VHS Cover

https://archive.org/download/podcast-379/Podcast%20379.mp3

This week, I’m discussing the cover art for the custom Thirteenth Hour action figures I’ve been working on.  In an effort to reduce plastic (which I also can’t easily work with), I decided to package them in recycled styrofoam cases made to fit inside a VHS paper sleeve.  This is the cover art I’m planning on the front:

thirteenth hour movie poster

I have been experimenting how to arrange the figures to fit inside with all their accessories:

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More to come as I figure this out.  Thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast Exclusive Preview and Like a Hood Ornament #44: A Conversation with Billy Campbell of the Rocketeer!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast Exclusive Preview and Like a Hood Ornament #44: A Conversation with Billy Campbell of the Rocketeer!

https://archive.org/download/podcast-rocketeer-billy-campbell-preview-for-13th-hr-pod/Podcast%20Rocketeer%20Billy%20Campbell%20preview%20for%2013th%20hr%20pod.mp3

 

The Rocketeer Is Getting A New Movie With A Black Lead And A Brand-New  Backstory | Cinemablend

 

Welcome to a special edition of The Thirteenth Hour Podcast with guest Billy Campbell (a.k.a. the Rocketeer)! This was initially done as a thank you for supporters of a series of charity auctions of custom Lego Rocketeers done to benefit the nonprofit Hero Initiative. You may also be watching this if you are a listener of The Thirteenth Hour podcast and unlocked this interview by answering a few trivia questions related to our guest. Or, you are watching this at some future date, probably for a slightly different but related charity project. However you got here, thanks for joining, and thank you to Billy Cambell for a fun, wide-ranging conversation about the Rocketeer, comic books, drawing, Dave Stevens, and more.

Speaking of Dave, none of this would have happened were it not for his many talents (writing, penciling, coloring, etc). Dave Stevens’ high flying hero went on to capture the nostalgia of a bygone era – the sights, speech, and zeitgeist of the golden age of aviation and the promise of the world of tomorrow – much of which eventually ended up on the silver screen in the 1991 movie. Unfortunately, Dave left this world for the next adventure all too soon. In honor of his work (40th years since the Rocketeer comic was first published – 1982), we wrap up the episode by speculating in “what-if” fashion about Cliff’s adventures in the early days of World War 2 in a Choose Your Own Adventure style interactive story.

Now, this episode is just a preview (about 20 minutes), but you can unlock the rest, annotated with pictures and video, by answering these four questions:

1.) In 1991, Billy Campbell played Cliff Secord, Gee Bee pilot, and of course, the Rocketeer. In the late 90s, Billy played another flyer in the film The Brylcreem Boys with Irish actor Gabriel Byrne. While Mr. Byrne wasn’t in The Rocketeer, he was in another Disney film made around the same time. Which one?

a. Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken

b. White Fang

c. Shipwrecked

d. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

 

2.) Billy Campbell currently calls Norway home, and Shipwrecked was a Norwegian film directed by Nils Gaup. Earlier, in 1987, Mr. Gaup wrote and directed another adventure film, released in Norway as Ofleas. The US title was:

a. The Neverending Story

b. Time Bandits

c. The Young Magician

d. Pathfinder

 

3.) Speaking of the 80s, Rocketeer creator Dave Stevens penned the comic of the Rocketeer’s first flight in 1982. The Rocketeer comic had some information on Cliff’s background that wasn’t in the film. In the comic, prior to being a stunt pilot, Cliff was:

a. a circus performer

b. a grocery store stockboy

c. a mechanic

d. a short order cook

 

4.) Speaking of the Rocketeer, one of the beloved parts of the film, comic, and cartoon is the Bulldog Diner, modeled after a real Depression era diner shaped like a bulldog. The Great Depression spawned many infamous diner dishes using available resources. Which one of these real dishes was known as SOS (shite on a shingle)?

a. prune pudding

b. Hoover stew

c. peanut butter and mayo sandwich

d. creamed chipped beef on toast 

Put you answers in the password field below, all lowercase, no spaces, to access the rest of the episode (with pictures)! 

 

 

Dave Stevens The Rocketeer Signed Print (c. 1991).... Memorabilia | Lot  #13920 | Heritage Auctions

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #378: Revising “I’m Here, You’re Not” (for The Thirteenth Hour Soundtrack) and Updates on Toys and Future Episodes

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #378: Revising “I’m Here, You’re Not” (for The Thirteenth Hour Soundtrack) and Updates on Toys and Future Episodes

https://archive.org/download/podcast-378/Podcast%20378.mp3

This past week, I worked on finishing a track started back in Episode 364 accompanying a short segment from The Thirteenth Hour where Logan meets his crewmates again in a dream.  When I finished the episode, I put it aside since it didn’t quite feel done, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it needed.  I tossed around a number of ideas for a time, but it was not until recently that I hit on the right sound – the additional of a choral backing track and modifying the bell-like lead with a wah-wah sound to make it sound more ethereal.  I do think this is the last track for the second Thirteenth Hour soundtrack!  Now, I have to put it all together, make sure it has the finishing touches, and make the packaging.  I think the Thirteenth Hour action figures (basically done!) and the magnet dolls will be accompanying this album.

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Aurora in her original outfit

 

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Logan has magnetized feet to stick on Lightning

Thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #377: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #377: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)

https://archive.org/download/podcast-377/Podcast%20377.mp3

This week, my brother and I are watching the 1985 film, Young Sherlock Holmes, which we had both seen as kids but not recently.  This is probably both our favorite of the ones we have watched for this series of 80s fantasy films.  This one has many fine elements that make it an enjoyable adventure movie, even if (or perhaps especially if) you’re not that familiar with Sherlock Holmes from the original books.

Young Sherlock Holmes - Rotten Tomatoes

Jeremy and I do a little DnD style interactive adventure ourselves in the latter part of the episode.  You can follow along by using the rule set depicted below.  This was an attempt to come up with a more nuanced combat system with health, stamina, and combinations using an 8 sided die, so picked since the number 8 figures into a lot of Thirteenth Hour imagery, and I wanted to pilot a more advanced combat system for the Thirteenth Hour Patreon DnD campaigns here.

YoungSherlockDnD1

YoungSherlockDnD2

The 3 playable characters


YoungSherlockDnD3

The bad guy


YoungSherlockDnD4

Based on some ideas from the martial arts Sherlock supposedly practiced, bartitsu

YoungSherlockDnD5

YoungSherlockDnD6

Just using an eight sided die …

YoungSherlockDnD7YoungSherlockDnD8

Check out Jeremy‘s work over at Pixel Grotto, CBR.com, and Classic Batman Panels on IG.  You can support his work on Ko-fi and get access to in-depth, exclusive Batman content here.   If you are of the DnD persuasion, his articles on DnD Beyond may be right up your alley.  Thanks, Jeremy, for coming on the show!  

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #376: Jeremy Lesniak from Whistlekick on Faith: Book One of the Katana Chronicles and Martial Arts DnD

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #376: Jeremy Lesniak from Whistlekick on Faith: Book One of the Katana Chronicles and Martial Arts DnD

https://archive.org/download/podcast-376/Podcast%20376.mp3

This week, Jeremy Lesniak from Whistlekick joins the show as a guest to discuss his martial arts-themed novel, Faith. It’s been awhile since we last worked together, but if you’ve been a listener of the show for awhile, you may recall our collaborations from before around a number of classic martial arts movies – The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, Ong Bak, First Strike, Wheels on Meals, Dragons Forever, and Showdown in Little Tokyo. We had a great conversation on various aspects of the story as well as martial arts in general and then wrapped up with a little theater of the mind, using the post-apocalyptic setting as a way to see if it were possible to mesh interactive story telling with nuanced turn based combat.  This ended up being the basis for the combat system piloted in The Thirteenth Hour DnD Patreon mini campaigns.  Click on the cover below to find your own copy:

Faith - The Katana Chronicles Book 1 - Autographed

If you happen to read this in time, you may be interested in an event that Whistlekick is hosting, Free Training Day, which is exactly like what it sounds like (a day of martial arts training, various styles, no cost, no ego) being held in Keene, NH on 11/12/22.  If you happen to be there, you may see some Thirteenth Hour swag floating around …

Next week! Just in time for Halloween, my brother and I revisit Young Sherlock Holmes!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #375: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About Ladyhawke (1985)

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #375: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About Ladyhawke (1985)

https://archive.org/download/podcast-375/Podcast%20375.mp3

This week, my brother and I are watching the 1985 fantasy film, Ladyhawke, which we had both seen as kids but not since.  I got the impression when rewatching it this time is that what they wanted to do is create a modern fairy tale.

Ladyhawke (1985) - IMDb

They do have the elements.  There’s a dark wolf …

ONCE UPON A BLOG: The Legend of 'Ladyhawke' (A Deep Dive)

…who transforms by day into a man in black who has a hawk …

Ladyhawke / The Dissolve

… that transforms by night into a lady …

Before 'Maleficent 2,' Michelle Pfeiffer's First Fairy Tale Was 'Ladyhawke'  in 1985 – The Hollywood Reporter

… and since they are never both wild animal or both human at the same time, they need some intervention in order to break the curse that keeps these star-crossed lovers apart.  Their go-between comes in the form of an escaped convict / thief: 

Watch Ladyhawke | Prime Video

Ladyhawke 35mm Film Clip Slide Etienne Navarre Rutger Hauer Crossbow LH-3 |  eBay

Don’t think too hard and enjoy it for what it is.  There is a cool (probably impractical) double crossbow that the Rutger Hauer character uses that I have never seen elsewhere.  That was one of the few things I remembered from the film. 

Jeremy and I will be back next month to discuss the 80s fantasy film, this time in Victorian England – Young Sherlock Holmes!

Check out Jeremy‘s work over at Pixel Grotto, CBR.com, and Classic Batman Panels on IG.  You can support his work on Ko-fi and get access to in-depth, exclusive Batman content here.   If you are of the DnD persuasion, his articles on DnD Beyond may be right up your alley.  Thanks, Jeremy, for coming on the show!  

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #374: Finishing Dragon Fall, Part 9

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #374: Finishing Dragon Fall, Part 9

https://archive.org/download/podcast-374/Podcast%20374.mp3

This week, we are finishing Dragon Fall (1984) by Lee J Hindle.  This was a fun one.  I have a few of similar vintage that I may read on the show.  Stay tuned =)

BKTG06250

Did you check out the podcast exclusive bonus episode preview with actress Catherine Mary Stewart (about Night of the Comet)? 

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Excerpt from “Empty Hands” by Joshua Blum

The following is an excerpt from the novella, Empty Hands, a stand alone interlude to The Thirteenth Hour.


Tagline: Sometimes the best weapon is nothing at all.

Cover blurb:

“…I stand before you with open hands that carry no weapons. And though they may prefer to create than destroy, when the time is right to stand, either to defend or protect, then these shall be my weapons, my empty hands …

Legend has it that during the Drawing, His Majesty’s elite, the fabled Imperial Rangers, receive sidearms magically assigned to their strengths and talents. As the first Ranger class in decades, none of the eight Rangers-in-training really knows what the Drawing will entail. In fact, Logan, the youngest, smallest, and seemingly least capable Ranger frankly couldn’t care less which weapon he’s assigned; he’d settle for surviving the rest of his training in one piece. Can he and the others work through their differences and finally come together as one unit? Can they learn enough to take their rightful place beside the exalted ranks of the Rangers of old? Find out by reading this blissfully self-aware martial arts fantasy that owes much to Saturday morning cartoons, Hong Kong kung fu cinema, Dungeons and Dragons, and 80s action films. The true connoisseur of obscure 80s trivia can find clues to a surprise bonus hidden inside the pages of this story.

Like other works by the same author, this novella is a stand-alone expansion to The Thirteenth Hour and comes with its own retro 80s concept EP so while going through the story, readers can click on embedded links to hear the digital synth soundtrack created to accompany the text.”


The punch came sailing toward my head faster than I expected.  No matter how much or how long one trained, the shock of actual combat always came as a bit of a surprise.  There really was something to that adage about falling to the lowest level of one’s training rather than rising to the occasion.  The dodge my body reflexively did at the last moment was neither particularly smooth nor graceful, but I’ll say this – I didn’t get punched in the face.

The big man who had swung the haymaker looked a bit surprised when his hand struck nothing but air, but he, too, had some previous training.  With a snarling yell, he checked his momentum enough to deliver a backhanded blow with the same hand.  It collided with my forearm hard enough to send a shock up though my arm which would have registered as pain had I not been focused on cocking my leg to my chest and thrusting my body weight forward so my heel would collide with the big man’s lead upper thigh.  At least, that’s where I aimed.  It would have made a follow-up shot to the head or neck easier.  But the adrenaline surge pushed the trajectory of the kick higher than I’d intended, and my foot hit his exposed chest instead, sending him stumbling back into the barstools.

Face red, eyes bulging, he roared something in the Capital City brogue that I didn’t quite catch.  I think the general gist was about him copulating with my mother.  Or maybe with my brother.  I don’t know.  The northern accent was still hard for me to understand sometimes.  He dusted the dirt off his shirt where my boot had left a fairly obvious imprint.  I did catch his next words: “Mind your gods damned business, small fry!  I don’t care about you!  It’s him we want!  He ooooooowes us!”

He shoved a finger as fat as two of mine at the drunken figure sitting propped up against the bar to my rear, mumbling incoherently to himself.  I’ll be honest, the guy sitting on the floor wasn’t my favorite human.  He wasn’t even a friend.  He’d been a thorn in my side since the first day I’d met him, and chances are, the bastard wouldn’t even remember I’d put my posterior on the line to keep him on this side of the ground a little longer.  But he was an Imperial Ranger, and we were supposed to take care of our own.

“Hey, I’m talkin’ to you!” the big man roared, pulling out a wicked curved blade.  “You hearing me … Aron?” 

The Ranger on the floor looked up suddenly and slurred through bloodied lips, “It’s … bronounced ‘Aay – rohne,’ you athhh.” 

“What??”

Aron spat out a mouthful of blood, coughed, and cleared his throat.  “Sorry.  ‘You ass,’ is what I meant to say.  Your buddy got me good.” 

And that’s when all hell broke loose.

********

Let’s take a step back about nine months. 

Before that fateful night at the Crimson Blade where a motley group of eight Imperial Rangers-in-training fought a band of fifteen thugs from the Tartecian underground over a monetary dispute stemming from the behaviors of a certain ‘Aay-rohne,’ that very same group of eight, eyes still full of wide-eyed wonder, were lined up at attention in the training hall deep in King Darian IV’s castle in the Capital City.  The room had tall ceilings and a large, blue carpeted training floor made for tumbling and taking tumbles, both of which we would come to know well. 

Our three instructors would eventually turn the eight of us into experienced, agile, and highly competent combatants – a far cry from our first day, when we were mostly raw recruits.  Although two of us had been in the military for some time, we were all basically foot soldiers who had received a rougher-than-rough introduction to hand-to-hand combat by the same drill instructors who been churning out infantrymen for decades.  “Pack mules ‘n arrow fodder – that’s what you is!” our drill sergeant would shout.  It was his way of motivating us to do more pushups. 

Over the next year, under the steady guidance of our instructors, we would go from arrow fodder who might as soon accidentally stab ourselves with our own spears into warriors skilled in not only all infantry weapons but unarmed combat.  Of course, it didn’t take long for some of us to realize that while hard work and repetition was unavoidable, natural abilities could significant shorten the learning curve.  This was a reality that those with natural talent, like Aron, reminded those of us with little talent, like myself, at least once daily.

“Since I’m the man, at the Drawing, I’m gonna get the double sickles for sure,” Aron would boast, referring to the rumored ceremony near the latter part of our training where we would be given weapons that fit our unique talents and personality.

We’d caught a glimpse of one of the instructors whirling around a set of those weapons when we’d arrived early one day, and since then, Aron had been fascinated not only by the flying sickles but by the Drawing.  The idea was not that a weapon was chosen for you by the instructors or the castle wizards, but rather that the weapon chose you based on some combination of your personality, fighting style, strengths, and a dash of magic.  No one was really sure how it worked, which lent an air of nonsense to the whole thing, but after the wizards mentioned it enough times, we couldn’t help but wonder when we looked at the display rack of weapons beside the blue carpeted floor.

“In the days of old,” Wally the wizard said after one training session, “when Rangers started their training in childhood, the Drawing was the ceremony that signaled that a Ranger was no longer a child.   He or she was now a fully-fledged Imperial Ranger fit for active duty.  But, that was long ago.  We have shortened the training down to the barest essentials with your class.  As you know, there haven’t been Rangers in many years.  And now …”  He cleared his throat and paused.  “And now, with the King’s decree to reinstate the Rangers, we felt there should be at least some of the traditions of old.  And so, for the first time in decades, there will be a Drawing ceremony.  It won’t serve as your graduation, but it will signify the start of the more advanced aspects of your training.  After which, you will be fine-tuning the basic skills you have acquired up until now.”

After Wally left, we milled around the wall of weapons, chattering excitedly.

Lance, who had been a fencer prior to joining the Army and already favored the sword above all other weapons, said, “I hope I get the sword.  I’d have to change my whole way of fighting if it were something else.”  He employed the same lunging attacks for unarmed combat as he did with the sword, and even though it wasn’t always effective, since his only real weapon was a lead-side punch, it was a strategy of sorts and kept his style consistent regardless of whether there was a weapon in his hand or not.

“I’m sure you’ll get a sword,” said Ben, a tall, sturdy fellow who moved and talked slowly.  “And if not a sword, at least something you could use like one.  A stick or club, maybe.”

“Hmm, not the same,” Lance said, nervously eyeing the other choices.  He reached out to finger one of the blades hanging on the wall and, in the process, knocked over a staff that had been balanced precariously near it.

Aron caught it and smirked.  “Like I always say, it’s all in the reflexes.  Let me tell you what else I usually say in situations like this …”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” said Jake.  There was no official leader of our group since all had the same rank, but if there were one, he’d be it.  His leadership didn’t extend to offering me a spot at the card table at night, but then again, he’d never denied me a spot, either.  “We know.  You’re the man.”

“I am.  And let me tell you.  Those twin sickles are a man’s weapon,” Aron said with a nod.

“Why do you guys want to get so close?  I like my opponents right where I can see them – far away,” said Blake.  “Give me a bow, crossbow, or blowgun any day,” he said.

“Yup,” said Phil.  “Second that.  Hell, I’d take a shepherd’s sling and a few rocks.  You guys can keep your sticks and swords.  I don’t go in for that caveman stuff.”

Aron shrugged.  “Real men know where it’s at.  Ain’t that right, Logan?” he said, jabbing me in the ribs with the point of his elbow.  I stumbled to the side, and Allan, the largest Ranger, caught me.

“Why must you insist on tormenting him?” Allan asked Aron, looking him square in the eye.  Aron eventually started to squirm under his intense gaze and muttered something under his breath about me reminding him of his kid brother, who “is also kind of an idiot.”

Like Ben, Allan spoke and moved slowly.  Fighting him was like hitting a tree trunk – the guy just didn’t budge.  But as he often said himself in his deep, slow voice, “I detest violence.  I would much prefer a more civilized way of dealing with problems.” 

“I think you’ll get one of the staves, Allan,” Jake said, referring to the selection of magic weapons adorning the shelf.

“Ahh, yes, I do hope so,” Allan said.  “And what about you, my friends?” he asked, referring to Jake and Ben.  As the heavyweights of the group, they were typically matched together for most of our sparring drills and were alike in the amount of damage they could dish out.  Although our trainers suggested that hitting each other full contact all the time was not a great idea, we sometimes forgot, especially in the heat of a match.  I learned quite quickly that the best way to stand a chance against big men like Jake, Ben, and Allen was simply to stay out of their way.   

“I like the quarterstaff,” Ben said.  “It’s simple, and I like the fact I can make one easily from any stout hardwood branch in the forest.  And, I’m not as fast as some of you guys.  So it gives me a reach advantage.”

“Hmm.  Good points.  I’m tempted to say the staff as well.  Or maybe the twin rvygerns,” Jake said pointing to the curved Elven blades that were part bush knife, part short sword.  “I really like how they fit my hands.”

“Yeah, that’s a good choice,” nodded Aron.  “Don’t get me wrong; I’ll take the sickles any day.  But the rvygerns are solid.”

“Glad I have your approval,” Jake said, rolling his eyes.

The voice of Clavus, one of our instructors, suddenly came from behind us, startling everyone.  “Don’t get too attached.  You’re still expected to pass proficiency tests with all the basic weapons and unarmed combat prior to graduation.  You’ll just be spending a bit more time with the weapon you’re assigned following the Drawing.  But remember, the idea is to be able to use any of these.”

In decades past, the instructors would have been former Imperial Rangers who’d managed to live to the age where they could still do the physical skills required of the profession but also had enough experience to teach it to a new generation.  But since there had not been Imperial Rangers in years, our trainers were pulled from other parts of the Imperial Army.   Clavus, our lead instructor, had been teaching King Darian’s all-female Imperial Guard hand-to-hand combat prior to this assignment.  Rizor had been a weapons instructor for the regular Army, and Tershel, who’d been an acrobat in a travelling circus prior to joining the Army, was teaching physical fitness to the regular Army when the wizards came with orders direct from the King.

Although none of them were Imperial Rangers themselves, they were better instructors than any of us had ever had up to that point.  Unlike the “pack mule ‘n arrow fodder” attitudes of the senior officers and drill sergeants who had taught us in regular Army basic training, Clavus, Rizor, and Tershel weren’t just there for the paycheck.   They could also each do everything they asked of us and perhaps because of that, gave direct and practical advice. 

“The first thing I want you to do is burn that damn thing,” Clavus had said on our first day as Imperial Rangers, when we’d entered the training hall carrying the little manual we’d used during basic training.  “I’ve been trying to get the Army to rewrite it for years.”  He took one of the manuals and started flipping through the pages, shaking his head at the combat techniques illustrated with black and white line drawings.

“That technique is garbage.  That one might work with a compliant partner.  And this one … this one will probably get you killed.  Burn it.  Make a gods damned bonfire and stay warm tonight.  That’s about as much good as this shit will get you.  We’ll have to start from the ground up.”

True to his word, we had.  Forgetting the techniques we’d learned in the crash course on being a soldier hadn’t been hard for me since I had no basis for comparison and could never get any of it to work anyway.  It was a bit more difficult for Jake and Allan, who’d been in the Army for years, but they were naturally bigger, stronger, and more coordinated, so they relearned fast.  They very rarely got the critiques of, “No, that’s not right.  Again!” that I did every few minutes. 

Looking back, I have to commend Clavus, Rizor, and Tershel for having superhuman reserves of patience.  Not only did they endlessly correct incompetents like myself, they very rarely became angry or flustered.  They might have gotten irritated when we did something truly boneheaded, but it was usually to teach us a lesson.  I’m not so sure I could have been as accommodating. 

As a case in point, one afternoon many months into our training, we were working on a sparring drill where one partner would advance with a series of attacks.  The defender had to either counter, parry, or avoid the blows.  “Every move you make should have a purpose!” Clavus shouted amid the flurry of arms and legs.  “Remember, economy of movement!”

“Aron!  Go easy on the jumping, okay?  Remember, at the very least, you’re probably going to be carrying 10-15 pounds of additional gear with your uniform, boots, and survival belt.  And a few times that amount if you’re wearing packs, not to mention body armor.  If you’re going to jump, at least cover some distance or use it to gain height to do an attack you can’t do with your feet on the ground.”

Aron bounced like a human pogo stick, shadow-boxing in place, while repeating “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” in a monotone suggesting lip service compliance only.  He then adjusted his pads and readied himself for the next flurry of attacks from Blake, his partner for this round. 

Blake advanced with a jab to Aron’s head, which Aron avoided by leaping backwards, putting him a bit too far out of range to effectively counter Blake’s next move, a lunging side kick done in an unsuccessful attempt to chase Aron down the floor.  Aron skipped backwards again, then delivered a jumping roundhouse kick to Blake’s head followed by a jump spinning backfist – both of which missed, by the way.  This didn’t stop Aron from congratulating himself. 

“Yeah.  Nailed it,” he said as he continued hopping from foot to foot. 

Clavus looked on the verge of saying something in response but seemed to contain himself.  “Time!” he shouted, and we all stopped.  “Blake, if you’re going to go chasing Aron like that, at least don’t leave yourself wide open.  Aron, you had a perfect opportunity to capitalize on Blake being overextended and off-balance.  Here, do the same attack at me, Blake,” he said.

Blake threw the same lunging side kick.  Instead of leaping, Clavus simply slid back with both feet still on the ground, shifting his hips back to avoid the kick.  For a split second after his kick missed, Blake was off-balance, making it easy for Clavus to bring his lead arm down to both parry and strike the incoming leg, making Blake hop, then stumble to the side.  With a few deft movements, he mimed a few follow-up counterattacks.  “It doesn’t have to be so complicated, Aron.”

“But what happens if you can’t avoid the kick in time, Sir?” Blake asked, rubbing his calf.  “You’ve obviously practiced that and knew what I was going to do.”

“Yup,” Clavus said, with a shrug.  “What happens if you can’t avoid it?  You get kicked.”  He shrugged again.  “Remember, the Imperial Rangers are not foot soldiers.  Your main goals have historically not always involved fighting.  We spend a lot of time on fighting, yes, but that’s just insurance.  It’s also why we say avoid fighting unless you have to.  Because if you can’t, you’re probably going to take some damage, as most of you have already figured out – even in here, where things are relatively controlled.  Imagine I were doing this in the snow or in mud.  What then?”

“I don’t think I’d be kicking,” Blake said.

“Probably not,” Clavus said.

Aron continued shadowboxing in place, exhaling forcefully though his mouth with every strike.  Clavus gave him a slow burn with his eyes before continuing.  “After the Drawing, we’ll lower the amount of contact you’ll be doing, but you’ll be training in all the gear you’ll normally be wearing – your uniform, survival belt, boots, your preferred weapons, and body armor.  “Things may be a bit different then.  You’ll need to move differently based on the extra weight.  It’s fine to try the fancy stuff or the more advanced techniques here – you have to work on them somewhere – but just remember, things don’t always go as planned.  In a stressful situation, you don’t rise to the occasion.  You just fall to the lowest level of your training.”

Aron’s hand shot up.  “I know you always say that, Sir, but shouldn’t it be ‘to the highest level of your training’?” 

Clavus shook his head.  “I say ‘lowest’ since, in a stressful situation, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to pull off something that you haven’t learned very well.  But you’ll be able to rely on a basic technique that you’ve drilled a thousand times or more.  And keep in mind that your ‘basic’ is going to be much more refined than the ‘basic’ of a raw recruit.  Yeah?”

There were nods of understanding.  Even Aron stopped bouncing around and seemed to be contemplating the answer to his question with some consideration.  Clavus raised his arm for the drills to recommence.

Tershel chimed in, “Hold up, Clavus.  Before we start again, Logan, show me what you did with Lance.”

I paused.  I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d done.  “Ahh, I …”

“What did you do with your glove?”

“Oh.  Well, it … came off, Sir.”

“Yea, in my face,” Lance sputtered, twitching his moustache. 

“Oh, really?” Tershel asked.  “It just happened to fly off his hand into your face then.”

“Yes, he threw it or something, Sir.  It was unfitting behavior for someone of our station … and very unsporting,” he said with a nod of his head and a swipe of an imaginary saber.

“Really?”  Tershel exclaimed with a wide grin. “You know, that is … fascinating.  Now, I’m no Imperial Ranger, and after you graduate, you gents can do whatever you want.  But, for now, indulge me,” he said, eyeing every single one of us, “exactly how ‘sporting’ do you think anyone you face out there is going to be?  You think, for example, that some giant Nevan weighing a deuce and a half who’s used to eating Imperial Army soldiers for breakfast is gonna … care about your code of conduct?”  Tershel shrugged while we all squirmed.  “I’m just saying.  So – you two, show us slowly what you did.”

Lance repeated his usual lunging punch attack but at half speed.  I blocked his arm, and Lance advanced again with the same lunging lead side punch.

“My glove started to come off here, Sir,” I said, looking down at the lacings going up and down my forearm.  “I couldn’t get back it on in time so … I ripped it off, and I guess I kinda threw it.”

“You ‘kinda’ threw it.”   

“Well.  I meant to throw it on the ground and just get out of the way.  But it ended up going a bit higher, Sir.”

“I see.  But you didn’t stop there.”

“Well.  He was open, so …”

“So, you took the opportunity to kick a distracted, helpless man.”

“I … I … um.  Well, I guess I did, Sir.” 

Lance sniffed and wiggled his moustache indignantly.

Tershel looked at the other Rangers then stared at me.  I could hear Aron stifling a giggle, and I felt my ears going red. 

Tershel finally nodded.  “Good,” he said, and I snapped my head up, confused.

“Keep in mind that the pads you wear on your arms and legs are there not only for protection in here but also because they simulate the body armor that you might be wearing out there.”  He walked over to the weapons wall and picked up one of the gauntlets that covered the knuckles, wrist, and back of the forearm.  It was made of layered sheets of steel riveted together on top of a fine layer of chain mail to protect the areas that needed to bend.  Underneath the metal was a leather and cloth-padded area to add a cushioning layer between metal and body.  He tossed it casually from one hand to the next then flung it to Phil.  “Here, catch,” he said.

While Phil fumbled with the gauntlet, Tershel said, “It ain’t light, is it?”  Phil shook his head.

“Now imagine getting whopped in the face – even lightly – by something like that,” Tershel said, eyeing us closely.  “I’m making a point here because even though Logan losing his glove might have been an accident, things like that will happen, and you can use them to your advantage.  Like I said, there might be rules in here.  There are none out there.” 

Tershel let that sink in for a moment before noticing Aron’s hand.  “Yes, Aron?”

“Sir, if these pads are supposed to simulate body armor, why is it I don’t got nothing to protect my nuts?  The regular Army guys do.”

Tershel looked at Rizor and Clavus.  They shrugged and smiled.  Tershel turned back to Aron.  “That’s the first sensible thing I’ve heard you say today, Aron.  I don’t know.  You guys didn’t historically wear that much armor, including helmets, from what I can see in the texts.  We have you wear headgear in here for safety, since it’s what we do with the regular Army guys.  But as far as we’re concerned, you can wear whatever armor you want in here or out there.  Just remember that you’re going to need to move differently with it on, though.”

After we’d finished for the day, I eyed the wall of weapons.  Frankly, I wasn’t especially attached to any of them.  Not the way Aron was to the sickles or Lance to the sword.  In fact, the idea of cleaving someone open with a bladed weapon and seeing their tortured expression was nauseating.  I’d grown up around bows, since they were tools to put meat on the table, and while the Army ones were nicer and more powerful than the rough ones people in my village had used, I didn’t think of them much differently than, say, rakes or fishing poles.  The only one I’d taken any interest in was the sling, and that was only really because in order to use it, we had to go hunting for smooth stones to use as ammunition.  The stones reminded me of one of my favorite pastimes as a child – skipping rocks over the water – though my accuracy was so horrendous that I might as well have thrown the damn things. 

The only weapons exercise I actually enjoyed didn’t even involve weapons in the traditional sense.  It was a weekly session jointly taught with the wizards where we were given random objects from daily life, like umbrellas, gardening rakes, toothbrushes, and in one case, potted plants.  We then had to defend ourselves from a partner coming at us with a haymaker or an overhand sword strike (supposedly the two most common attacks we would be facing).  You could use whatever orthodox unarmed or magical techniques you wanted to defend yourself … or you could think fast and come up with a creative way to jury rig the household item you were given for your defense.  I was only fair with the unarmed stuff and horrible with magic, but coming up with a new way to use an ink bottle or a folding chair for self-defense was probably the only fun I had in our combat training.  However, that was a very small part of the curriculum, and before long, it was back to more repetitive drills with the sword or spear.

Of course, there were no household items on the weapons rack for the Drawing.  Like I said, the whole thing seemed overhyped to me.  But I did have to admit, I was attracted to the idea of how the Drawing worked.  Did the weapon pick its wielder?  What about that person made an inanimate object gravitate toward him or her?  Did the weapon actually float to its new owner?  Was there a flash of light or some other magical sign that signified what had happened?  Finding answers to these perplexing questions made me look forward to the ceremony regardless of what weapon I was assigned.

I’d asked Wally the wizard about the magic behind the Drawing at one point, and he’d simply smiled and said that I’d find out in due time, which wasn’t very helpful.  When I’d asked one of the Imperial Guards that I sometimes ran into, she’d just shrugged and had said it was a weird Ranger tradition and was probably a crock cooked up by some wizard a long time ago. 

“No offense, kid,” she’d said.  “But the Rangers have always done some really cockamamie shit.  If there were any left, you could ask them, but … you guys are the first ones in a long time.”  Then she’d thrown in her usual line about Rangers not living very long and how I’d better take my opportunities now if I wanted to reproduce. “Better get with the program, kid; you might not be around tomorrow, you know?  Make those gorillas take you along with them next time they hit the pubs.  You never know.  You might get lucky, eh?”

She’d taken her own advice and had three rambunctious little ones of her own that were constantly getting in trouble during mealtimes.  I’d once asked why their father never seemed to be around to help out.

“Fathers,” she’d corrected.  “One dead, second a deadbeat, and the third – disappeared.”

“Oh,” I’d said.  “Sorry …”

“Nah!  The hell with those guys.  Never did a damn thing to help anyway.  I get plenty of help here during the day, and the kids get free schooling.  Better than anything I ever got as a kid.  And as for the menfolk, let’s just say I’d like to think I have higher standards now than when I was younger.  Hope I learned a thing or two.  For everything else,” she said with a wink, “there’s my stash,” she said, holding a finger over her lips as she referred to her secret trove of ragged pornographic magazines she’d somehow acquired and hidden in a treasure vault only known to the Imperial Guard.  I’d accidentally stumbled on one location a number of months back, resulting in its relocation, but the new spot was unknown to me.

“So,” she’d said, “you looking forward to the Drawing?  Rumor has it everyone has already picked out which weapons they want.  We girls are placing bets.”

“With who?  Aron?”

“Naturally.”

I’d shrugged. “Of course.  I don’t really care which one I get.  I’m more interested in seeing the magic behind how they match the weapon to the person.”

The guard had nodded.  “Yeah, me too.  I’ve never seen one of these ceremonies, so it’ll be a first for me as well.  Hey – I gotta run and get the kids down for a nap.  Good luck at the Drawing if I don’t run into you before.”

As it turned out, I needed luck a little sooner than that.  At that afternoon’s training session, Rizor was leading us through another spear drill.  The spear was the standard infantry weapon, and its natural reach advantage meant that we tended to spend more time with it than anything else, but to be honest, it bored the hell out of me.  In retrospect, boring would have been preferable to what happened next.

The drill had been a simple one – parry the incoming spearthrust to the midsection by side stepping and deflecting the spear with your own followed by some kind of counter attack – and we’d done it hundreds of times.  We weren’t wearing any protective gear, since we were told to stop any attack short of actual contact, and in a way, perhaps that led some of us to pay less attention than we should have.  I’m not sure if it was my natural disinterest or the fact that I was still in the post-lunch slump, but I never even saw the tip of Ben’s practice spear until it nearly skewered my ribs.  Even though the tip and edges of the spear were not sharpened, the spearhead still managed to rip a hole in my shirt and leave a long gash on my abdomen.  An inch to the left, and my ribcage would have had a painful new addition.  I felt the glancing impact, but the pain of the cut didn’t immediately register.  It was mostly shock that caused me to gasp and drop my own weapon, grabbing onto Ben’s spear for stability. 

“Hey, let go, Logan!” Ben shouted amid the din of clanging weaponry when I continued clinging, stuck in a catatonic freeze.  At least that’s what I thought he said.  There was a whooshing ringing in my ears that muffled everything.  “Let go!” I think he yelled again.  I detected anger in his voice, but my body seemed to be moving in slow motion.  To emphasize his point, he jabbed again with the spear, overextending himself.  Following the path left by the previous blow, it missed me but ripped an exit on the other side of my shirt.  I felt my knees buckling. 

“Time!” I heard Rizor yell, but it seemed a long way off.  “Get a medic!”  But in anger and desperation, I don’t think any of that registered.  Survival mode kicked in, and I continued with my own counterattack.  I tugged the spearshaft towards me, then slingshotted the butt-end back towards Ben.  It was more a reflexive shove than anything.  I don’t know if his hands were sweaty, making his grip faulty, or whether he was caught unawares in his off-balance position, but the shaft passed through his hands, and like a pool cue striking the last ball home, came to rest firmly in the pocket of his groin.  Despite the pain that now registered in my abdomen, I winced.  Ben’s eyes bugged out a minute, and he slowly sank to his knees, head to the floor.

“Make that two medics!” I think I heard Rizor yell.  Ben’s face, now a snarling crimson red, lifted, and he looked at me with bulging eyes, spitting through clenched teeth, “That was not a good idea, pipspeak!”  Anger was inescapable in our line of work, and Ben had a temper known to all of us.  But I had never, ever seen Ben this angry before, and it was the first time I’d ever heard him insult someone, which was impressive given that we were surrounded by guys like Aron who dropped insults every five minutes.  Then again, I did ram the butt-end of a spear into his genitalia.   Most men are protective of such things.

With a primal scream, Ben lunged forward at me, both arms outstretched.  He caught me around the neck, slamming me to the floor before I knew what was happening.  The floor was matted, but it still knocked the wind out of me.  As I gasped, my vision started to go spotty as Ben’s massive hands squeezed for what seemed like forever.  A few Rangers tried to pull him off, but he bucked and elbowed them away.  I tried levering the point of my chin under his hands to give me a little more room to breathe, but he was too strong, and I was too late in attempting it to do much good.  With my remaining strength, I tried slamming my hands down on whatever parts of his body I could in a vain effort to get him to let go, but it was no use.  I saw a few of the other Rangers standing over me, doing not a damn thing.  I remember thinking, “Screw you guys.  Why don’t you help, you bastards?”  I would have shouted it if I weren’t dealing with a 250 pound gorilla, teeth clenched, face contorted in rage, trying to choke the life out of me.

More black spots danced before my eyes, and my head started to swim.  It was hard to form thoughts, and my mind and body seemed to slow to a crawl.  The only thing keeping me going was some primal urge from deep within.  Perhaps it was a small inheritance I had received from my parents and those innumerable generations before, going back to when the world was young – that little bit of instinct that we humans still retained – the will to do whatever it took to preserve life.   

My hands, empty of anything that could help preserve whatever life they still carried, finally settled on something small and hard – a rectangular amulet Ben wore around his neck that was now dangling in front of me. “For good luck,” he often said.  That day, it may not have been lucky for him, but it was for me.  I couldn’t see it from where I was, but my fingers wrapped around the thin metal bar.   I blindly tried to ram the end into his Adam’s apple.  The amulet hit the soft pocket of skin below instead.  He yelled in pain but only applied more pressure.

I was desperate now, and for better or worse, I did what desperate men do – the same damn thing over and over, hoping despite evidence otherwise that it will work.  With every strike, I could feel myself growing weaker, and by the last one, there was barely anything left. 

But it must have been enough, because Ben sputtered, loosened his grip, and, color draining from his face, let himself be pulled away by Jake and Allan.  He clutched his neck, which had started to bleed, and sat on the floor, rocking slowly back and forth as he panted heavily, eyes shut, sweat dripping from his brow. 

It was hard for me to move, and as I welcomed gusts of cool, wonderful air, I was only dimly conscious of a medic ripping open my shirt to clean the wound on my abdomen.  The medic was a grey haired woman wearing an officer’s uniform sporting a long scar along one cheek, leaving a pale slash in her otherwise dark skin.    

“I’m Captain Hayes.  You were lucky.  A little more this way,” she said, motioning to the wound, “and …”  She didn’t finish.  “It’s not too bad, though.  I don’t think I’m going to put any stitches in.  It’s not really deep enough, and you’ll just blow through ‘em.  Just try to keep it clean and wrapped tight.  Come back tomorrow, and I’ll change the dressing.  How’s your head?”

I croaked out something that must have satisfied her while she looked at my neck, eyes, and in my mouth. 

“Aside from a few burst vessels in your eyes, I think you’ll be okay,” she said, shaking her head.  I recognized her as one of the Imperial Guards.  Although we didn’t share practice sessions with them, we did sometimes cross paths, and a few of them moonlighted as medics or Army instructors to make a little cash on the side.  We had gotten to know a succession of medics in our training, though this was the first time I’d met Captain Hayes. 

She and a few of the other Rangers helped me into a seated position against a stack of mats, and then she stood.  Looking straight at Rizor, Tershel, and Clavus and then at the rest of the Rangers, she shook her head, and said, “What little I saw, I did not like.  Lieutenants Rizor, Tershel, and Clavus, please explain.”

I could see their faces reddening.  Either they were embarrassed or weren’t used to being questioned.  Maybe some of both.  Our medics weren’t usually senior officers, either.   

“It … it was an accident, Captain Hayes,” Tershel said quickly.  “We probably should have had the men use the fencing gear,” he added, motioning to a pile of protective equipment at the base of the weapons wall.

“That’s up to you.  Look, I’m not here to police you.  I’m here as a medic today.  But a word of caution coming as a fellow officer in this Army.”  Her eyes narrowed as she glared at our trainers.  “Accidents, like anger, are unavoidable in our line of work.  But what I saw, men cheering on the equivalent of a schoolyard brawl, was avoidable.  There is a difference between battle and training.  In battle, all the animal instincts come out.  It is unavoidable.  But that is what the training is for.  We train for control.  To control ourselves.  In a few months, these men will be on their own.  They will need to work together, as a unit.  Clearly, they are not there yet.  But you have time.  You three can still shape them.  Am I clear?”

Our instructors weathered the critique with silence and slight nods of assent, which clearly did not convince Captain Hayes.  She continued staring them down until Rizor finally started, “You make good points, Captain.  I … I think …”

Aron, who had been jostling side to side like a Labrador itching to be let out, shot his hand up at that moment, blurting out, “This all would have been avoided if we had something for our nuts, Ma’am!  Maybe you can tell the King that we …”

He was silenced by incredulous glares from the instructors and an upheld hand from Captain Hayes.  “Thank you for that enlightening piece of information, soldier.  But were we talking to you?”

She held his gaze until he ground his foot in the mat and said with downcast eyes, “No, Ma’am.”

Captain Hayes turned back to Rizor. “As you were saying, Lieutenant?”

Rizor nodded.  “Thank you, Captain.  With the Drawing coming up, perhaps we should be thinking of ways to have the men function more cohesively rather than pitting them against each other.”

The Captain shook her head.  “That is not what I meant.  People in this Army have always learned soldier against another.  How else are they supposed to?  Training dummies,” she said, pointing to a worn, stuffed mannequin suspended from the ceiling that we used to practice strikes, “don’t hit back.  Look, like I said, it’s your job to teach these men.  I’m not here to interfere.  What I’m saying is that …” she paused, sighed, and looked around to see who might be listening.  “… there’s a lot of shit in this Army, especially at the top.  But that doesn’t make it right.  Any monkey can learn to use a spear.  But not everyone can use it in the right way, at the right time, and know when to show restraint.  We don’t always expect this of our regular rank and file.  But we do of our Imperial Rangers.  Or, at least, we used to.  Do you catch my drift?”

The instructors mulled this over and straightened up to attention, saluting their assent.  As if on cue, at that moment, Ben, who was still rocking on the floor, vomited.

After Captain Hayes examined and bandaged him, she motioned for us all to come over.  She looked at Ben, put a hand on his shoulder, and said, “Son, I’m not trying to make an example of you or embarrass you.  But this is one of those things that … happens.  Aside from your neck, your body is fine.  But the part of you that makes your body do what it needs to – the nerves, they’ve had a shock.”

Ben nodded, eyes still on the mat, drool dripping from his lips. 

She turned back to us. “Have you seen a stress dump before?”

“Sometimes when I’m nervous, I get the shits,” Aron blurted out.  Clavus turned sharply to him, mouthing an incredulous “why?” and put a finger to his mouth.  “Please, Aron.”

Captain Hayes smiled.  “It’s alright, Lieutenant.  That wasn’t the kind of dump I was thinking of, though I suppose I set myself up for that one.” 

She turned to the rest of us.  “After the battle is over, assuming you lived, sometimes the body rebels.  Occasionally, it’s just fatigue.  But at other times, the hands start to shake, the legs twitch, and the stomach flips flops.  And, yes, Aron, sometimes so does the rest of the gastrointestinal system.  And that is to say nothing of the mind.  Sometimes the body heals fine, but the mind, which you can’t see, does not.  The point is, the more you understand these things, the more you will understand yourselves.  And the better you will understand your enemies and how to defeat them.  If you can get some sense of that and how to work together as a unit in these final months, this Army will have done its job.  Got it?”     

“Thank you, Captain Hayes,” our instructors said. 

Then Tershel added, “We appreciate the impromptu lesson, Ma’am.  I’ve never been sure why you have not been added to the training curriculum.  I mean, that would only make sense.”

The Captain smiled and shrugged.  “Politics.  And … to be honest, I’m out of date.”

“The basic training methods haven’t really changed, though, Captain.”

“Well, tell that to the King.  Besides, I’m mostly retired these days.  I just help train the Guards and do occasional medic duty.”

“Well, it’s not like we have a whole lot of guidance on how to do this job, Ma’am, so … any time you want to drop by and … drop a little wisdom, I know we’d appreciate it,” Clavus said.

“Thank you, Lieutenant,” Captain Hayes said, smiling warmly. 

When she was gone, Clavus turned to us and said, “Captain Hayes is the only surviving Imperial Ranger trainer.  I think she did their hand-to-hand training back … well, that must have been forty years ago or so, right?” he said, looking at his co-instructors.

“Yeah, probably.  Right before they were disbanded,” Tershel said.

“She was a Ranger, Sir?” Jake asked.

“No, just a regular soldier.  Like us.  It wasn’t always easy to find Rangers to do the actual instructing, so … sometimes they pulled from other parts of the Army.  One of those people was Captain Hayes.  Somewhere around here, there’s a picture of her,” Rizor added, waving his finger around, scanning the plaques on the wall.  “You’ll see it if you look.  She’s a little younger there,” he added.  “So, hopefully you took something from what she said.  It’s given us a few things to think about as well.  It’s not like we always know exactly how to train you.  There haven’t been Imperial Rangers in a long time.  Speaking of which … back to the present.  Logan, Ben … what are we going to do with you guys?”

Ben and I looked at each other until he averted his eyes to the puddle of vomit on the mat.  He took a towel someone had given him and started mopping it up.

“Don’t worry about that, Ben.  I think we should probably stop for today,” Rizor said.  “Why don’t we wrap up with the usual conditioning exercises.  When you guys are done, meet back here to stretch out.  Ben and Logan, stay here a minute.”

While the rest of the guys went off to do pullups and other calisthenics, Rizor took us aside.  “Alright, look.  I realize this is awkward given that you two, umm … just tried to kill each other, but … you guys got to work this out.  Like the Captain said, at the end of the day, you eight are just going to have each other out there.”

After an awkward silence, I said, “I guess Aron was right … groin protection and all.  I’m sorry, Ben.  It was more a reflex than anything.  The butt end of the spear to the … cockerel region, I mean.”

Ben gave a short laugh and shook his head.  “It’s okay, Logan.  I’ve been hit harder there before; I don’t know why it made me so mad this time.  When I get like that … it’s like I have blinders on.  I had no idea I’d skewered you with the spear.  I’m sorry about that.  I just …”  He paused and stared at his hands, which were trembling.  “I just can’t … I can’t believe … Logan, I … I was going to kill you.  That was the only thought going through my head when I had you on the ground.  I almost killed you, Logan.”  There were tears forming in his eyes when he turned to Rizor, and his voice choked when he said, “I don’t know if I can do this, Sir.  I think … maybe I should have been a farmer like my father said I should’ve.”

Rizor nodded.  “Well, to be fair, there are a lot of things you’ve said your father told you to do that …”

Ben nodded.  “… yeah, that weren’t that great.  But … maybe he was right on this.  He always said my temper would be the death of me.”  He gave another sad laugh and looked at the mat.  “I got my temper from him.  Except I don’t need to be drunk to lose it.  Thanks, Pops,” he muttered, giving an imaginary toast.

Rizor put a hand on Ben’s shoulder and squeezed.  “You know, my first commanding officer was in the Army since he was kid.  Lied about his age to get in.  He’d been in for, I dunno, twenty years by the time I was assigned to his unit.  He taught me most of what I know about the sword.  And it was all practical stuff – what I try to teach you guys now – learned the hard way.  But anyway, after this battle – my first – he looked out on the battlefield, and it was just … blood, guts, fire, smoke, crying, and screaming … all the stuff no one ever tells you about when you enlist and get the shiny boots and polished armor.  And there he was, looking out on it all, and I’ll never forget what he said.  ‘Boys, I got you through this – at least most of you – but the fact remains that I also carried out the orders that did this.  And I can’t do it anymore.’  He took off his sword belt and his officer’s insignia and threw them in one of the fires burning near us.  ‘It’s been an honor to serve alongside you,’ he said and then turned around and started walking the other way.  And I never saw him again.  Of course, there was all the usual shit.  Desertion charges and all that.  But I don’t think the Army ever found him.  Or if they did, they didn’t get any help from us, because we certainly weren’t going to rat him out.  I guess that’s a roundabout way of saying we all have our limits.  Like fire, a temper, Ben, can be helpful in certain situations, assuming you can control the blaze.  But you probably stand a better chance of learning to control it here than in a lot of other walks of life.”    

As I was leaving for the barracks that evening, Rizor pulled me aside.

He looked a bit uncomfortable, as if not sure how to begin.  Finally, he said, “You know, I didn’t get a chance to say this before, but you did alright today, Logan.”  His words didn’t really register at the time, since our instructors seldom doled out praise, and what little there was had generally been for the ears of other men.

I must have looked at him dumbly, so he continued.  “I’m sure it doesn’t feel like it.  But you fought a man who wanted, however temporarily, for you to no longer be in the land of the living.  And, by your own hands, you lived.  No one will give you a trophy, and there won’t be any fanfare or celebration like at the Drawing.  Your reward is another day on this side of the ground.  A lot of times, that’s all that counts, Logan.  Do you get what I’m saying?”  I nodded but left as confused as ever.  In time, I would understand.  I don’t know if the others ever got that lesson.  Sometimes, even now, I wonder and wish I could ask them.  But it’s too late.

And although Ben’s neck and my ribs healed after a few weeks, as Captain Hayes alluded to, the mental side of things took much longer.  I would see Ben’s face, contorted in rage, at random times in the day, and sometimes I had to stop what I was doing at the moment and try to clear my head.  And although we were paired together for drills and sparring matches a number of times after that incident, Ben was never quite the same around me.  It was as if there was always a part of him that was afraid the same thing would happen again.  And, if I could talk to him knowing what I now know, I’d tell him not to worry, to live every moment fully, since, as we were often told, the typical Imperial Ranger didn’t come with a long life expectancy.  But that’s another story told elsewhere.

********    

That evening, I was sitting outside, looking at the stars.  Although I was generally left alone since the others were busy playing cards, tonight, I had purposefully sequestered myself under the awning on the far side of the barracks.  I could dimly hear the sounds of the men laughing over their poker game but could not make out any words.  I let out a sigh that had been building up since the incident at the training session. 

The night sky had always been a source of comfort for me, having grown up mostly without the comfort of a mother or father’s embrace.  There had been a big window near my bed at the Aquarian orphanage where I’d been raised, and sometimes, when I hadn’t been able to sleep, I would look out into the distance, above the tall treetops, into the void.  The little orbs of light, ever glowing, were small sources of security.  Sometimes, my childhood friend, Aurora, who was two years older and had been in the orphanage even longer than I had, would join me next to the window, and we’d sit there until the morning rays peeked through the clouds.   

I’d known Aurora since I entered the orphanage at age five, and the last time I’d seen her was when I’d left for the Army at eighteen.  She had been such a consistent part of my life until that point that sometimes I forgot she was elsewhere and got excited, hoping to tell or show her something.  Then I’d realize I couldn’t and wasn’t sure of the next time I could, which filled me with a mix of sadness and a kind of bittersweet longing that I wouldn’t understand until I was a bit older. 

I wondered what she would have said had I told her about the events of that afternoon.  Could I have even explained them?  I looked down at my hands, which had started to tremble slightly, and recalled the time when I had left the orphanage for the Army, when Aurora had taken my hands, placed her favorite skipping stone in my palm for luck, and closed my fingers over hers.  She had held them there against her chest before giving me a sad smile to send me off.  Perhaps because of my early childhood, crying was not something that came especially easy for me as an adult.  But that day, it had been easy, though I had tried my best to conceal it.  And now, as I looked down at my trembling fingers, remembering Aurora’s hands cupped around mine, I felt tears welling up in my eyes again.  There, under the eaves in the stillness of the night, I hunched over my knees.  Covering my eyes with those same hands that had given me “another day on this side of the ground,” I wept.  

Afterwards, I continued sitting outside until my eyes grew heavy.  Eventually, I stumbled off to bed.  In the morning, I did feel a bit better.  The other Rangers never mentioned the incident again.  The only person who ever did, strangely enough, was the Imperial Guard I sometimes ran into.  She was coming out of Captain Hayes’ office when I stopped by for my follow-up visit, and after greeting me, she stopped, as if not quite sure what to say.  Finally, she asked, “You alright?”

I asked why.  She simply said, “Heard you got into some shit.  Are you … alright?”

When I didn’t answer, she said, “Well, none of my business, I guess.  But, let me ask this – are you gonna be alright?” 

That I was confident in, so I said yes.  She nodded, and that was that.


Thank you for reading this excerpt. To read more of Empty Hands, look for it for the Kindle on Amazon.

You can listen to the soundtrack that was composed for the book, to be listened to concurrently, here.

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #373: Tweaking the Thirteenth Hour DnD Combat System 1 (The Warlock of Firetop Mountain) and Dragon Fall Reading Part 8

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #373: Tweaking the Thirteenth Hour DnD Combat System 1 (The Warlock of Firetop Mountain) and Dragon Fall Reading Part 8

https://archive.org/download/podcast-373/Podcast%20373.mp3

This past week, we did our first Patreon Thirteenth Hour DnD session using a homebrew role playing system made from hybrid Dungeons and Dragons / Quest RPG rules.  I thought we’d read some of the combat rules used in this game book, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, just to review one way they do combat with one person and 2 six sided dice.  I thought it’d be interesting to see how these gamebooks employed combat game mechanics since their emphasis was primarily interactive story telling, just like our Thirteenth Hour DnD system.

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The combat rules used in The Warlock of Firetop Mountain.  As with many of these rule sets I’ve seen, there is not much emphasis on the nature of the attack or where it is targeted – more of an assumption that the attack happens in a binary sense – it is either successful or it is not. 

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The example we went through in the episode.

In the second part of the pod, we are reading Chapter 6 in Dragon Fall (1984) by Lee J Hindle.  One more chapter to go!

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More from Dragon Fall next week!  Did you check out the podcast exclusive bonus episode preview with actress Catherine Mary Stewart (about Night of the Comet)? 

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast Exclusive Preview: A Conversation with Catherine Mary Stewart about Night of the Comet

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast Exclusive Preview: A Conversation with Catherine Mary Stewart about Night of the Comet

https://archive.org/download/podcast-cms-preview/Podcast%20CMS%20preview.mp3

This past summer, I recorded an interview with actress Catherine Mary Stewart (Night of the Comet, Weekend at Bernie’s, The Last Starfighter), who supported a little Lego project I did kind of on a whim – making Lego minifigures of Samantha and Regina Belmont from Night of the Comet, one of my favorite movies.  

This is just a 10 or so minute preview of the full interview, as the original was meant as a surprise thank you to the auction winners of the figures. 

But!  You can unlock the rest of the conversation by answering the questions below.   Your answers will be the password. 

1.) In the 1984 film, Night of the Comet, Regina  (Catherine Mary Stewart) is shown playing an arcade game.  Which game?

a.) Pac Man

b.) Pong

c.) Tempest

d.) Mario Brothers

 

2.) In another 1984 film with Catherine Mary Stewart, roles are reversed, and she plays the girlfriend of an arcade game ace.  That film was:

a.) Wargames

b.) Real Genius

c.) Sixteen Candles

d.) The Last Starfighter

 

3.) According to Catherine Mary Stewart, her previous training in which discipline helped prepare her for the physicality (e.g. fights, stunts) in Night of the Comet?

a.) dance

b.) dirt bike racing

c.) synchronized swimming

d.) falconry

 

4.) In this film, Reg and Sam face off against killer zombies.  In 1986, Kelli Maroney, who was Sam in Night of the Comet, was in a film where she faces off against killer robots.  Both films feature a key component of US 1980s culture.  That was:

a.) Teddy Ruxpin

b.) the shopping mall

c.) trickle down economics

d.) video rental stores

 

Go to https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/749825591 and enter your answers as the password (no saces, all lowercase) to access the conversation.  I annotated the audio with pictures and some video, so there are some additional tidbits on the vimeo version that provide a bit more context to the audio.

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #372: Making more Rocketeer Figure Castings, Dragon Fall Reading Part 7, and More

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #372: Making more Rocketeer Figure Castings, Dragon Fall Reading Part 7, and More

https://archive.org/download/podcast-372/Podcast%20372.mp3

This week, I’ve been casting Rocketeers using the mold I made recently.  Working on the third copy now.  Surprisingly, I’ve been pretty happy with the mold, especially since the resin I am using to cast the limbs (Smooth On 65D) has a working (pot) life of only about 2.5 minutes before hardens, so you have to work fast.  Here is the latest guy to come out of the mold with parts from the first one post priming scattered around.

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I think part of the difference here was that I used a base figure that was a little easier to work with and I got a better mold to be begin with.  

In the second part of the pod, we are reading Chapter 5 in Dragon Fall (1984) by Lee J Hindle.  

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More from Dragon Fall next week!  Soon – stay tuned for a podcast exclusive episodes with actress Catherine Mary Stewart (about Night of the Comet) coming this week.

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #371: Making a Rocketeer Figure Mold, Thirteenth Hour Figure Updates, Dragon Fall Reading Part 6, and More

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #371: Making a Rocketeer Figure Mold, Thirteenth Hour Figure Updates, Dragon Fall Reading Part 6, and More

https://archive.org/download/podcast-371/Podcast%20371.mp3

This week, I’ve been finishing up the Thirteenth Hour action figures.  I’ve gotten almost all of them put together and am now putting on the finishing touches.  I ended up revising the color scheme when I had to redo all the limbs so be simpler and now am glad I did – no shading, brighter colors – simpler, just like the original 5 points of articulation Kenner figures of the 70s and 80s.  Logan and Aurora on Lightning below.  Aside from some finishing touches, I just need to add some clear blue-green resin to the console on Lightning the hoverboard’s front.  You can see a slight depression there at the front, near Aurora’s feet, where the clear resin will go.

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Hopefully, some of the knowledge gained there will help when making 5 points of articulation Rocketeer figures.  I just finished the mold this week.  It’s always exciting to see if your hard work and planning will pay off when you crack open the mold for the first time.   

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In the second part of the pod, we are finishing Chapter 4 in Dragon Fall (1984) by Lee J Hindle.  

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More from Dragon Fall next week!  Soon – stay tuned for podcast exclusive episodes with actors Catherine Mary Stewart (about Night of the Comet) and Billy Campbell (about the Rocketeer) that you can unlock!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #370: A Look Back at 80s Choose Your Own Adventure/Endless Quest Style Books, DnD, and Dragon Fall Reading Part 5

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #370: A Look Back at 80s Choose Your Own Adventure/Endless Quest Style Books, DnD, and Dragon Fall Reading Part 5

https://archive.org/download/podcast-370/Podcast%20370.mp3

This week, I’m taking a little trip down memory lane, talking about some of the Choose Your Own Adventure style books I recall liking as a kid. 

Endless Quest Series OneTime Machine #06: Rings of Saturn: Cover, Arthur: 9780553244243:  Amazon.com: BooksBattleblade Warrior - Fighting Fantasy Books 31: Ian Livingstone, Steve  Jackson, Marc Gascoigne: 9780140324129: Amazon.com: Books

One of the show’s previous guests, Chad Derdowski (on episodes 107, 108, and 119), wrote and illustrated his own (hilarious, I might add) 80s inspired Choose Your Own Adventure style fantasy books, Fortune Favors the Bold and its sequel that are brilliant.  Look up his work on IG here!

I’ve been reminded of books like these since I’ve been working on something specific for Patreon members – a Thirteenth Hour specific Dungeons & Dragons style series of scenarios.  I’m modding an existing rpg platform called Quest and adding some additions to the combat system to allow for more nuance there and hopefully make it less dependent on pure luck.  Patreon members – stay tuned.

My brother, Jeremy, wrote an article on his blog about the one issue of Dragon magazine we had as kids.  We read it often (even though we didn’t understand what it was about) due to the great fantasy art and the fact we knew it was about games, and though we couldn’t really comprehend what role playing games were, the game books, the imagery, the rep (Satanic panic and all), and the miniatures all made it an alluring mystery.

And another Jeremy!  Shout out also to a different Jeremy – Jeremy Lesniak from Whistlekick.  We’ll be recording a show this week about his martial arts-themed novel, Faith.  Maybe we’ll even get to discuss some of these things in the context of his story.

In the second part of the pod, we are starting Chapter 4 in Dragon Fall (1984) by Lee J Hindle.  

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More from Dragon Fall next week!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #369: Rocketeer Custom Action Figure Updates and Dragon Fall Reading Part 4

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #369: Rocketeer Custom Action Figure Updates and Dragon Fall Reading Part 4

https://archive.org/download/podcast-369/Podcast%20369.mp3

This week, I finished a prototype of a 3.75″ Rocketeer figures made from adding clay to an Iron Man action figure I found in Walgreens.  A few pictures:

This picture shows the almost completed prototype on the left and on the right, the second one which I succeeded in taking apart before adding the clay.  I also modified the right hand to be able to hold a pistol.  The black thing on the floor is an EVA foam so the pistol can slide into it:

These are the things I used to make the head.  I cut the Iron Man head off at the neck (sorry, Iron Man) and inserted a screw into the base.  I drilled a hole in the resin Rocketeer helmet and screwed the red base into it.

This was for the second version, since in the prototype, I wasn’t able to get the parts apart first, but the process was basically the same.  Speaking of which, here’s the completed prototype:

In this version, there is no functional Mauser holster; it’s just sculpted on.  Of course, in the Dave Stevens comic (aside from a few covers) and in the film, the Rocketeer has no holster.  I think it the movie, he uses his pants pocket.  But I figured, eventually, he might opt for a holster as being more secure and convenient.  I drew him as having a holster in the game as well.

 

I have also made some sow progress on the Thirteenth Hour figures of the same size (3.75″).  I had to recast most of the arms and legs, repaint them, and then individually fit them to the torsos again after the last mishap, so at this point, hopefully that learning experience will help when making the Rocketeer figures.

In the second part of the pod, we are reading Chapter 3 in Dragon Fall (1984) by Lee J Hindle.  

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More from Dragon Fall next week!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #368: Rocketeer Custom Action Figure Updates and Dragon Fall Reading Part 3

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #368: Rocketeer Custom Action Figure Updates and Dragon Fall Reading Part 3

https://archive.org/download/podcast-368/Podcast%20368.mp3

This week, I give some updates on the making 3.75 inch Rocketeer figures from the 3.75″ Iron Man toy as reading the next part of Dragon Fall (1984) by Lee J Hindle.  

A few pictures of the process of painting the figure.  The next to last photo shows a duplicate I’m sculpting except this one should be able to be dissembled for resin casting.  

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More from Dragon Fall next week.

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #367: Custom Action Figure Updates, Final Faction, and Rocketeer Video Game Updates

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #367: Custom Action Figure Updates, Final Faction, and Rocketeer Video Game Updates

https://archive.org/download/podcast-367/Podcast%20367.mp3

 

This week, I talk a bit about a few concurrent projects such as making 3.75 inch Rocketeer figures from a 3.75″ Iron Man toy as well as the Rocketeer video game I’ve been working on.

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The Rocketeer prototype so far with the mold for the pack as well as one of the resin casted packs and the helmet (ironically, the same size helmet that I used for the Lego Rocketeer minifigures).

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I did successfully get a separate stock figure cracked open and will be sculpting some clay over these parts to look like the prototype to allow for making a resin copy.

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Looking forward to painting this guy and adding some details.  Speaking of painting …

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I’ve been repainting The Thirteenth Hour figures (even parts that didn’t need to be painted) to reflect a simplified color scheme with more bold, primary colors.  Also reworked Logan’s arms to hopefully fit better and be more stable.

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I recently went to a Dollar Tree and found the Final Faction line of toys – only $1.25 each!  It’s a surprisingly good value for the price.  There are accessories, comics, and apparently, even a cartoon show.  They may be good bases for making future Thirteenth Hour figures if I can get them apart (which I think should be easier than something like the Iron Man figure since there are screws in the back).

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This is the first issue of the comic …

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Someone writing it clearly had a sense of humor having a back page like this … 

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Just like in GI Joe, the back of the packing has a short bio and some stats.  There’s also a QR code for the cartoon!

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Progress of the Rocketeer game …  Did a bunch of pixel art and story creation this week, adding to aspects of the world of the game, like this NPC enemy, a German foot soldier.

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I finally figured out flying and shooting straight and added some backgrounds.  There is now a full fledged short story behind the game as well.

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More coming soon!  Will get back to reading Dragon Fall next week.

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #366: Adding a Synth Layer to “I’m Here, You’re Not” and Reading from Dragon Fall, by Lee J. Hindle, Part 2 (1984)

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #366: Adding a Synth Layer to “I’m Here, You’re Not” and Reading from Dragon Fall, by Lee J. Hindle, Part 2 (1984)

https://archive.org/download/podcast-366/Podcast%20366.mp3

This week, we’re doing two things – adding to a track we started in episode 364 and reading another segment from Dragon Fall by Lee J. Hindle.  The track I’ll be adding to is for the next Thirteenth Hour soundtrack album.  It’s an additional layer to complement what we did before.  I also came up with a variation of it for another part of the book that uses the same central theme; just a different voicing. 

We will also be starting Chapter 2 of the 1984 novel, Dragon Fall. It’s pure 80s overload!

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More coming in subsequent weeks!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #365: Reading from Dragon Fall, by Lee J. Hindle, Part 1 (1984)

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #365: Reading from Dragon Fall, by Lee J. Hindle, Part 1 (1984)

https://archive.org/download/podcast-365/Podcast%20365.mp3

This week, we’re starting to read from a short fantasy novel from 1984, Dragon Fall.  When I was reading some reviews of it, people mentioned they liked it, though there were plenty of 80s references that might get annoying if you weren’t into things that might date a book (not a negative in my mind).  It seems like the sort of thing that would come right out the era of Dungeons and Dragons, heavy metal, and the Satanic panic. 

More coming in subsequent weeks!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #364: Musical Interlude – Creating “I’m Here, You’re Not”

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #364: Musical Interlude – Creating “I’m Here, You’re Not”

https://archive.org/download/podcast-364/Podcast%20364.mp3

This week, I’m making one last track for the next Thirteenth Hour soundtrack album.  Just when I think it’s done, I think of another track I want to make.  I think that’s because I really do think of all these tracks as accompaniments to various sections in the books.  The nice thing about that is once you find a central theme (e.g. elements of The Thirteenth Hour theme is one), you can repeat and vary it throughout depending on the needs of the scene.  This one goes along with a short segment from The Thirteenth Hour where Logan meets his crewmates again in a dream:

For awhile, all was dark, and I could hear nothing. Then the familiar elements of my recurring nightmare aboard the ship came into focus. But this time, I wasn’t afraid.

And there before me, were all seven members of my crew, smiling, looking down as I lay in my bed. It was like I was in the hospital, recovering from an injury, and they’d stopped by, flowers and get–well cards in hand, to wish me well.

“Guys?” I ventured. “You’re … okay?”

“We are now,” Jake said softly, laying a hand on my arm. The other men nodded. I looked for traces of resentment or anger in their faces, but I saw none.

“I’m sorry, guys, I don’t know what to say … I …”

“It’s okay,” they said.

“You’re not mad?”

“Why would we be mad?” Ben asked.

“I … I dunno. I’m here, you’re not … it just seemed like it should have been the other way around.”

“But it wasn’t,” said Phil, shrugging. “We’ve been watching, the whole time, and in some ways, we’re glad it’s you, and not us,” he said, laughing. The others nodded.

“We’re … we’re really proud of you,” Jake said. “The cards were stacked against us from the beginning. That asshole, Darian.” Other nodded vigorously. “We’ve been amazed you’ve made it this far. I certainly don’t think I could have, not alone.” More head nods.

I wasn’t sure what to say. “Thanks,” I said finally. “I’m glad we could meet again.”

“Well, we’ve been trying to get in contact with you as soon as we could, but … it never quite worked until now.”

The nightmares. “I’ve been having the same nightmare over and over since the ship went down. It always ends the same way.”

“Well, now you know how it ended. Here. Today. Now.”

It felt as if a weight had begun to be lifted from my chest.

The track we’re making today is basically a slow reworking of The Thirteenth Hour theme, similar to what I did with Empty Hands and the meditative theme that became the music video of pixelated Logan flying through the clouds.  This track is most similar to the latter but won’t have the angelic accents that that track ended up with.  I’d like to give it a more somber tone to fit with the nature of the passage above so will be thinking about which sounds would best pair with the base layer I made this week.  I was thinking of something haunting, kind of like the sounds of a Theremin, but am not sure I can make that with my midi keyboard.  But I may be able to find something close.  We shall see!  Stay tuned!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #363: Starting to Make Video Games Again!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #363: Starting to Make Video Games Again!

https://archive.org/download/podcast-363/Podcast%20363.mp3

This week, I talk a bit about two upcoming projects – starting to make video games again after a few decades of not doing it!  Though I’ve used a number of the animations and sprites I made in various things, most recently the music video of Logan using the music Jeff Finley and I made, for the most part most of the work I did making games using engines like Klik ‘N Play and The Games Factory sat mostly unused all these years.  But every now and then, I’d take a look at the games making software out there, since the dream of making a Thirteenth Hour game in some capacity has never really gone away.  Fast forward to now, and I discovered a freeware games making program called GDevelop, which seems to have the abilities of the programs I used before with more user-friendliness.   So, I decided to learn how to use the program by making a simple, one level game of the Rocketeer where he runs, shoots, and flies to escape from a facility where he’s (almost) been taken captive.  Turns out, I’ve been able to reuse some of the animations I did in the past, which has saved a lot of work of creating everything from scratch.

rocketeer idlerocketeer run

So, more updates to come as I learn the program and advance the game!  

Speaking of games, the second project I’m working on is learning more about becoming a DM to be able to host DnD games set in the Thirteenth Hour universe for Patreon members.  So far, I’m looking at modifying some of the existing systems out there to fit the world and the ideas I have.  So stay tuned!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #362: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About Lionheart (1987)

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #362: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About Lionheart (1987)

https://archive.org/download/podcast-362/Podcast%20362.mp3

This week, my brother and I are watching the 1987 fantasy film, Lionheart starring Eric Stoltz and Gabriel Bryne.  Not one I’d seen as a kid but I have a feeling that if I had seen it, I would have liked it and watched it over and over despite it being kind of dark and understated in parts.  It has some very cool, unrepresentative-of-the-film box art, but despite that, if you’re interested in something a bit different than the usual hack and slash, give it a go if you can find it.

Lionheart - Rotten Tomatoes

Amazon.com: Lionheart [VHS] : Eric Stoltz, Gabriel Byrne, Nicola Cowper,  Dexter Fletcher, Deborah Moore, Nicholas Clay, Bruce Purchase, Neil  Dickson, Penny Downie, Nadim Sawalha, John Franklyn-Robbins, Chris Pitt,  Alec Mills, Franklin J.

Lionheart (1987) – Military Gogglebox

This film has a really nice score done by Jerry Goldsmith:

Jeremy and I will be back next month to discuss the 80s medieval film, Ladyhawke!  

Check out Jeremy‘s work over at Pixel Grotto, CBR.com, and Classic Batman Panels on IG.  You can support his work on Ko-fi and get access to in-depth, exclusive Batman content here.   If you are of the DnD persuasion, his articles on DnD Beyond may be right up your alley.  Thanks, Jeremy, for coming on the show!  

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #361: Making a Retrowave Music Video, Night of the Comet, Toys, and Being a Kid Again

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #361: Making a Retrowave Music Video, Night of the Comet, Toys, and Being a Kid Again

https://archive.org/download/podcast-361/Podcast%20361.mp3

This week, I finished the music video I started recently using the two synth – handpan tracks Jeff Finely and I worked on together.  I finally figured out enough of Adobe Premiere to accomplish pretty much what I was going for in the video – i.e. flying through fantasy landscapes with a trail of smoke coming out of Lightning.  Now, in the book, it’s actually three rainbow smoke trails, but sometimes, I will just draw it as one large rainbow that trails afterwards.  I couldn’t quite get the rainbow effect but did get the smoke trail to change to the colors of the rainbow, which is good enough for now.  Here’s a short clip of what I started with (pixelart Logan superimposed over stock fantasy landscape animations I purchased off pond5.com):

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And here is the full video:

 

This was the last collaboration Jeff and I did, by the way, based on some ideas originally conceived by Brent Simon:

You can find out more about Jeff on his previous appearances on the show (episode 101, 102, and 176).

I also recently rewatched the 1984 film Night of the Comet to prep for a conversation with one of the leads from the film, Catherine Mary Stewart about the movie.  This is a little addition to the Lego Friends minifigure package I made of Sam and Reg from NOTC, but if you’re on the Patreon, you will be able to find the interview there.  If you’re a regular podcast listener, you will also be able to unlock the interview to listen to it.  Yes, that’s right, gameification!  Since Regina Belmont was an avid arcade gamer in the movie, it only seems right.  Stay tuned for details.  The Night of the Comet figures will be auctioned off starting in August, most likely, all proceeds to benefit the nonprofit Alliance4girls.org

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I also recently went back to my parents’ house and brought back a few things from my childhood for my own children and took pictures of some of the things I wanted to remember:

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A collection of some of my and my brother’s old figures to share now with my kids.

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Remember some of these guys?

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 We saved a bunch of the boxes from the computer games we had as kids.  Little did we know that ot only would most games not comes with big boxes anymore but people would collect these things for exorbitant prices on eBay! 🙂

More on Patreon … but in the meantime, let it be known that 7/8/22 is “Be a kid again day!”

In other words, a great excuse to play with some toys!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #360: Flash Gordon (1980) with Obi, Joe, and Adam

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #360: Flash Gordon (1980) with Obi, Joe, and Adam

https://archive.org/download/podcast-360/Podcast%20360.mp3

Today, I’m joined by my friends Joseph Esch, Adam Crohn, and Obi as we talk about the 1980 film, Flash Gordon. This film was a blast, and it was a hoot to record as well.  The show goes off the rails within the first few minutes, but I think that makes it all the better.  I’m not sure I would have entirely gotten the humor had I seen this as a kid, but as a adult seeing it for the first time, I thought it was great fun.  If you haven’t seen it before or even if you have, here are a few clips of scenes from the film:

This is a fun compilation set to the theme song by Queen (warning – the theme song may get stuck in your head!)

If you enjoyed this outing, just know the four of us will be back soon.  In the meantime, you can find Adam, Joe, and Obi all together on Adam’s Star Wars podcast, I Have Spoken, episode 19 (thought on the Boba Fett series).  You can find more Adam and Joe on our first joint collaboration on The Lost Boys parts 1 and 2 as well as on Rambo: First Blood Parts 1 and 2 as well as their epic collaboration on Steakuums:

We will return on Patreon for more discussion on Flash Gordon cartoons, serials, comics, and toys!

Last but not least, if you’re in the US, happy 4th, and belated happy Canada Day to our Northern friends 🙂

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #359: Musical Interlude – Adding to a C#m Chord Progression on Synth with Jeff Finley

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #359: Musical Interlude – Adding to a C#m Chord Progression on Synth with Jeff Finley

https://archive.org/download/podcast-359/Podcast%20359.mp3

This week, I’d adding to the second repeating chord progression in C#m that I did with with past show guest Jeff Finley on the handpan.  We started this track in episode 354.  This track ended up having the repeating chord progression C#m B C#m B C#m B / C#m B C#m B A B at 100 bpm.   In this episode, I’m adding to Jeff’s arrangement with a little synth layer to hopefully complement what is already there.

For the first track we did, Jeff did an amazing job with accompanying and arranging the track started in episode 352.  That track is showcased in a music video on Adobe Premiere I started this episode with  pixelart Logan superimposed over some stock fantasy landscape video I purchased off pond5.com.  Here is a preview:

premierepremiere2

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I’d like to try to figure out how to add some rainbow colored exhaust to Lighting’s tail like I envisioned in the book:

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #358: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About The Heroic Trio (東方三俠, 1993)

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #358: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About The Heroic Trio (東方三俠, 1993)

https://archive.org/download/podcast-358/Podcast%20358.mp3

The Heroic Trio in 2022 | Jackie chan movies, Martial arts movies, Action  movie poster

This week, my brother and I are watching The Heroic Trio (東方三俠 – literally – “Eastern three heroes”), a 1993 film we first saw on cable TV as kids, around the time of the British / Hong Kong handover in 1997.  Whatever network it was (TBS or TNT, I think) showed a bunch of Hong Kong films back to back during that 24 hour period (if I recall correctly).  This was one we watched, and man, or man, what a weird one we sat through.  I’m surprised that it was shown on network TV given some of the stuff that’s in it, but who knows, maybe no one had watched it beforehand.  I recall hoping we’d catch one or two kung fu flicks, and though this one does have some high flying wire-fu martial arts, it’s hard to classify this film, since it has a lot of variety – noir, superhero, action, comedy, and horror, not to mention the particular feel of Hong Kong cinema at the time.  Click on the coverart below to buy your own copy or check here where you can find it streaming.

The Heroic Trio (1993) - IMDb

If you really want to capture the spirit of Hong Kong cinema, you may want to see if you can find the film on VCD.  VCD was a format that never really took off in the States, but in many parts of the world, like in Asia, where VHS had issues (humidity / heat and thin film aren’t a great combo), VCDs were a low cost alternative that was comparable in quality to VHS, especially in the days before DVDs and DVD players were widely available.  Jeremy and I talk on the show about places in NYC where you used to be able to find tons of these discs, but they (probably) are much harder to come by now, though occasionally, you can find copies on eBay.

Here are a few clips – a trailer, another fan made one set to the intro song sung by Anita Mui, one of the leads, and a clips of one of crazy fight scenes from the film.

Jeremy and I will be back next month to discuss the 80s medieval film, Lionheart!  Perhaps in the future we’ll do more Hong Kong cinema of the era.

Check out Jeremy‘s work over at Pixel Grotto, CBR.com, and Classic Batman Panels on IG.  You can support his work on Ko-fi and get access to in-depth, exclusive Batman content here.   If you are of the DnD persuasion, his articles on DnD Beyond may be right up your alley.  Thanks, Jeremy, for coming on the show!  

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #357: Making Minifigure Packaging and Finishing Night of the Comet Minifigures

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #357: Making Minifigure Packaging and Finishing Night of the Comet Minifigures

https://archive.org/download/podcast-357/Podcast%20357.mp3

This week, I wanted to share the final product of the Night of the Comet minifigures!  They’re done!  I figured out how to make the lettering on Sam’s cheerleader uniform and do the packaging so the two figures can both nest in a protective case.

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This short video shows how I made the coverart to look like the original poster.

notc box art

This is what the Night of the Comet coverart looks like.  Like the other similar ones I’ve done, I’ve used Chinese characters for the title – in this case, a literal translation of Night of the Comet (彗星之夜).  I’ve taken to not using the English title with these toys partly since it makes it a little harder for the movie studios / eBay to flag it as objectionable for copyright reasons. However, the biggest reason for the dual language packaging is that it reminds me of the imported toys (which were mostly robots and little figurines from places like Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan) I remember seeing on the streets of Chinatown when I was a kid in the 80s.  Like the others I’ve made so far, these will be charity auctions, this time to raise money for the US nonprofit alliace4girls.  I don’t know if this was something that was done intentionally when NOTC was written, but it’s a bit unusual for the time since it’s an action movie with two female leads who not only survive but thrive by virtue of their own resources.  So I figured pairing with a nonprofit that helps support and empower girls and women would fit.

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There are now three such figures in these cases!

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Making the cases for the NOTC figures.  I used paper covered foam for these (don’t know if I will use that material much in the future, though).

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This technique for foam pieces looks promising – using a hot knife or soldering iron to essentially cut though the foam easily with little to no mess and cleaner lines than with a traditional blade.

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By the way, I had the chance this past weekend to make it to a drive in showing of a double feature of Chopping Mall and The Last Starfighter.  It was a fun time!  More coming on a Patreon exclusive episode with additional pictures, audio footage from the event, and more!

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Sam, Reg, and Cliff all approve of the drive in action.

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #356: Making Night of the Comet Minifigures!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #356: Making Night of the Comet Minifigures!

https://archive.org/download/podcast-356/Podcast%20356.mp3

This week, I wanted to share a little bit of a recent project.  After finishing the Lego Rocketeer and resin Beverly Switzler figurines, I thought it be fun to do figurines of Reggie and Sam from the 1984 cult classic, Night of the Comet.

If you haven’t seen the film, it’s great! You can actually watch it for free on YouTube, that is until YouTube flags it and takes it down.  But until they do, it’s available here: 

Ever since I first saw this film over 20 years ago, I’ve been trying to get people to watch it.  It used to be only on VHS, but now you can also find it on DVD. If you can catch it, it’s a lot of fun.

Anyway, I used the model bases for the Lego friends minifigure line to create the main characters, which are more elongated and a bit more realistic looking that the traditional, squat Lego minifigure body.

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Prior to painting Sam’s cheerleader outfit …

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After painting … still working out how to do the lettering on Sam’s uniform (see below):

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This scene, by the way, is available here:

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The lettering on Samantha‘s cheerleader uniform is too small to realistically paint, but I think I should be able to edit some images on Photoshop that I can print out.  The tricky part, as always, is getting the dimensions right, but I think it should be doable. 

Like the Lego Rocketeer and Bev figures, I think I going to house them in a clamshell case and auction them off on eBay as charity auctions. 

More updates shortly!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #355 and Like a Hood Ornament #43: Welcome Obi from Obi’s Toybox As We Talk All About the Rocketeer!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #355 and Like a Hood Ornament #43: Welcome Obi from Obi’s Toybox As We Talk All About the Rocketeer!

https://archive.org/download/podcast-355/Podcast%20355.mp3

This week, I’m joined by special guest Obi of Obi’s Toybox as we talk all about one of our mutual favorite topics – the Rocketeer!  We were introduced by our mutual friend, Adam from AC Toy DesignThe Rocketeer is a pretty hopeful, optimistic film, so I think it’s no wonder that people that like it tend to be nice people.  Yet, I seldom meet folks in day to day life that know much about the film or the comics, so aside from my family and this podcast, I mostly keep that interest to myself.  So it was a rare pleasure to be able to talk with someone else on all manner of things Rocketeer related.  A few things we touched on for reference:

The comics by Dave Stevens:

Dave Stevens The Rocketeer Signed Print (c. 1991).... Memorabilia | Lot  #13920 | Heritage Auctions

Serials that influenced Dave Stevens, e.g.:

The 1991 film:

The Rocketeer Is Getting A New Movie With A Black Lead And A Brand-New  Backstory | Cinemablend

The board game

The animated series:

Toys!

The Rocketeer Action Figure By Diamond Select Disney Toy Walgreens  Exclusive 699788835654 | eBay

The trading cards (we open a pack on the show):

I just found this wonderful looping clip of ambient sounds and music from inside the Bulldog Cafe made by Saint Ambience.

Thanks, Obi, for coming on the show!  We will be back soon for a discussion on anther pulp hero, Flash Gordon!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #354: Musical Interlude – Making a C#m Descending Chord Progression on Synth 2

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #354: Musical Interlude – Making a C#m Descending Chord Progression on Synth 2

https://archive.org/download/podcast-354/Podcast%20354.mp3

This week, I’m making another repeating chord progression in C#m for a little collaboration with past show guest Jeff Finley, who recently told me about an instrument called a handpan, which is kind of like a steel drum you play with your hands, that, at least to my ears, sounds a bit like a synthesizer.  He did an amazing job with accompanying and arranging the track I started in episode 352, and this is another track that hopefully we can work on together.  

This track ended up having the chord progression C#m B C#m B C#m B / C#m B C#m B A B over and over.  Like the last one, this track was recorded at 100 bpm to make room for the handpan and allow it to breathe.   

This was our last collaboration, by the way:

You can find out more about Jeff on his previous appearances on the show (episode 101, 102, and 176).

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #353: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About Mazes and Monsters (1982)

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #353: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About Mazes and Monsters (1982)

https://archive.org/download/podcast-353/Podcast%20353.mp3

This week, Jeremy and I are tackling the 1982 TV movie, Mazes and Monsters!  This was a movie (based on a novel by Rona Jaffe) released in the midst of the popularity of Dungeons and Dragons as well as the public fear/backlash of the Satanic panic and all that.  Not surprisingly, it’s a bit of a shlock fest, but we have a surprisingly nuanced discussion on a variety of topics related to the film, role playing games and adjacent activities, distant parents, 80s social panics, steam tunnels, and more.  You can watch the film for free on Tubi (click on the VHS cover below to watch) 

Mazes and Monsters (TV Movie 1982) - IMDb

Ironically, the showing of this TV movie was sponsored by Proctor and Gamble, who acquired the stomach discomfort drug Pepto Bismo also in 1982!

Mazes and Monsters (TV Movie 1982) - IMDb

Mazes and Monsters (TV Movie 1982) - IMDb

The main cast of Mazes and Monsters with their characters and game paraphernalia.  Below, the article about the book the film is based on from the 7/1983 issue of Dragon magazine is below.

dragon1dragon2

There are a few things that are notably positive about the film that I think deserve some mention.  I liked the scene where two of the characters are painting their miniatures.  I liked the fact they had game notebooks.  Then there’s the interesting subject of gender, which has an interesting history in DnD.

I think it was notable that the story actually included a female character at all, and she took a more active role in the story (the fact the book was written by a woman may have had something to do with it).  Glacia (Kate Finch) was the party’s only fighter, which I think is notable since Dungeons and Dragons was still fairly overtly unbalanced in its gender roles.  At the time of the filming of this game, DnD was still in its first edition, where female characters of different races had lower stats (e.g. lower strength) and the game was generally written using only male pronouns (e.g. “fighting men”).  Although the female : male player ratio is more even today (about 60% male : 40 % female), it was apparently much more male dominated at the time (estimated around 10 % female in one source I found). 

As we talk about in the episode, DnD drew heavily from earlier (more male dominated) historical wargames, so it’s interesting to hear what female players of the time thought of it (here’s a interview with RPG pioneer Jean Wells, the first woman hired by TSR).  However, my main exposure to DnD as a kid in the 80s came not from the actual game but from TSR’s Endless Quest books, many of whom were written by a woman, Rose Estes, a TSR employee who, like many other women of the time, was frustrated at the male centric nature of the game and the play – centered around stats, dungeon crawls, and combat – which she felt took away from the telling of a cohesive story. 

So I think it is admirable that this film gave the fighter class role to a woman, who, though she does feature in a requisite love triangle, is not passive in her involvement in the main story.  She seems to be the only one for most of the film that actually owns a car, and the movie does not relegate her to passenger status in favor of having one of the male characters drive it.  Again, perhaps the film was just staying true to the original source material, but in that case, good on them for not changing it. 

Also, as mentioned in the episode, my interpretation of the film’s ending differed from most of thoughts found in the reviews I read at the time or since.  As much as the game was depicted as an experience potentially blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, I thought they also seemed to be saying that this was a way, separate from the world of distant adults, where four lonely young adults could connect with each other.  Such is the power of make believe (normally relegated to the word of children), even, in the end, cutting through psychosis.   When I saw it, the ending seemed to be saying that while aspects of day to day adult reality can be drab, disconnected, and limiting, it doesn’t have to be that way as long as there is still a human connection that binds people together.

Check out Jeremy‘s work over at Pixel Grotto, CBR.com, and Classic Batman Panels on IG.  You can support his work on Ko-fi and get access to in-depth, exclusive Batman content here.   If you are of the DnD persuasion, his articles on DnD Beyond may be right up your alley.  Thanks, Jeremy, for coming on the show!  We will be back with another look at another fine piece of cinema!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #352: Musical Interlude – Making a C#m Descending Chord Progression on Synth

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #352: Musical Interlude – Making a C#m Descending Chord Progression on Synth

https://archive.org/download/podcast-352/Podcast%20352.mp3

This week, I’m making a repeating chord progression in C#m for a little collaboration with past show guest Jeff Finley, who recently told me about an instrument called a handpan, which is kind of like a steel drum you play with your hands, that, at least to my ears, sounds a bit like a synthesizer. 

He mentioned that his handpan is in the key of C#m, so we thought it’d be fun to make another piece of music together.  So this is me just starting something, and then I’ll send that over for him to add to, and we can go back and forth and see what we come up with, kind of like a remote jam session.  

After playing around with a few, I ended up liking the descending chord progression C#m A E B and thought it might be fun to see what we could come up with around that.  Though there is a bit of a melody, for the most part, I purposefully didn’t add much.  It is just those 4 chords repeated again to allow Jeff to add to it.  (Jeff – recorded this at 100 bpm with each chord held for about an 8 count.)  Looking forward to what we can make together!  

This was our last collaboration, by the way:

You can find out more about Jeff on his previous appearances on the show (episode 101, 102, and 176).

In other news, I’m almost done painting the Beverly Switzler figurines for Ernie Trinidad’s postproduction backers for his Howard the Doc film.  These were tough!  I used reading glasses to see the tiny details and am glad I chose to make her eyes closed rather than open since trying to paint eyes on a figure this small is always a headache in more ways than one.  I didn’t realize I’d made so many – nine painted ones and four glow in the dark ones.  There’s definitely more than I need, so I may auction some off for charity like I did with the Lego Rocketeers.  Speaking of which, this past week, it was Star Wars Day (5/4), which is also United Nations Anti-Bullying Day (as of 2012).  Combined those two things and the Lego Rocketeer in a little skit.  There are some stills below the ones of Bev.

And the clip:

Stay tuned to episodes on more 80s fantasy and Rocketeer content coming soon! 

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #351: Masters of the Universe (1987) with Joe and Adam

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #351: Masters of the Universe (1987) with Joe and Adam

https://archive.org/download/podcast-351/Podcast%20351.mp3

Masters of the Universe (1987) - IMDb

Today, I’m joined by my friends Joseph Esch and Adam Crohn to talk about the 1987 film, Masters of the Universe, which despite being a fan of the toys and the cartoon as a kid, I missed seeing at the time or since.  I went in with no expectations, not having watched the cartoon in decades.  I knew it was different from the source material, having read some reviews prior, though as an isolated 80s sword and sorcery movie, I think it works just fine.  As a Masters of the Universe property, I’m not so sure, but Joe and Adam, who know much more about the franchise than I do, had a lot more to say about that I could offer, so I felt like we went into a fairly balanced discussion on the film, with both positives and negatives.

I want to thank one of the concept artists on MOTU, Edward Eyth (who also helped design the silver art deco version of the Cirrus X-3 on my favorite movie of all time, The Rocketeer), for helping to provide some insights into the design of the film.  Hopefully we weren’t too harsh!

In the meantime, check out more Adam and Joe on our first joint collaboration on The Lost Boys parts 1 and 2 as well as on Rambo: First Blood Parts 1 and 2 as well as their epic collaboration on Steakuums:

In addition, check out the links below for some of Adams original MOTU designs.  We will return on Patreon for more discussion on the toys.

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #350: Musical Interlude – Making a 30 Sec Synthesizer Countdown Track

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #350: Musical Interlude – Making a 30 Sec Synthesizer Countdown Track

https://archive.org/download/podcast-350/Podcast%20350.mp3

This week, I thought I’d make a little piece of music as an unsolicited surprise for my friend Jeremy over at Whistlekick, who also does a little morning show called First Cup where he and other martial artists often congregate over his livestream (weekdays at 6 AM EST) to discuss various martial arts things as well as giving each other encouragement for the day.  It’s a nice little group (check it out on Youtube, Twitter, Twitch, and FB!), and lately, I’ve been trying to get up early to work out and do other things at that time to start the day with them.  I, as a perennial night owl, have always loathed mornings, but, you know, I gotta say, it’s nice to get your workout done in the morning, since at least then it gets done.  Time tends to slip away later in the day.  First Cup has thus been a motivating factor in helping me drag myself out of bed :).

Anyway, lately, Jeremy has been using some instrumental music to accompany a screen where he shows the countdown until the livestream starts.  I think he’s had a few difficulties where Youtube will flag his intro music as being proprietary even though he used royalty free stock tracks, so I figured I’d make a ~30 sec track to accompany that bit so if he wants, he can use it.  But even if not, no music ever goes to waste here at The Thirteenth Hour podcast!  I can also use it later for something else – e.g. I sometimes use musical bits to bookend podcast tracks (like into between the intro and an interview). 

This track was made entirely on the synth and was comprised of 5 different layers mixed together.  It is also one off the few times I actually used the pitch bend effect there to simulate electric guitar note bending.  

Next week, we’re going to start covering Masters of the Universe from 1987!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #349: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About Highlander (1986) Part 2

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #349: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About The Highlander (1986) Part 2

https://archive.org/download/podcast-349/Podcast%20349.mp3

This week, my brother, Jeremy, rejoins the show to talk about the 80s movie, Highlander.   You can listen to the first part of this episode here  and, if you have not seen the film, you can actually watch the entire film for free on Tubi as well as some sequels, like the director’s cut version of the sequel, the animated series, and the TV show, which a kind soul also uploaded to Youtube).  After the conversation with Jeremy is done, I pop back in for a bit to give a few thoughts on the sequel and the cartoon.

Amazon.com: Highlander : Movies & TV

Like last week, I thought I’d post some period specific articles on Japanese swords since the movie cites their history and borrows from the mythos even though it’s superficial.  This article comes from the June 1980 issue of Black Belt magazine and talks more about the swordmaker Masamune, who is cited in the film:

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As much as folks rag on the sequel (and for good reason – just don’t take it too seriously), I have to say, I really like this quote, the bits with Sean Connery, and the bagpipes in the background.  RIP, Sir Connery / Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez and Godspeed!

And check out the music in the intro of the animated series.  Always loved the electric guitar lead mixed with the symphonic backing track.  I think I only watched the show a few times as a kid and had no clue what was going on (since I hadn’t seen the movie yet, not that it matters; they’re only tangentially connected), but after poking around on Youtube, I found this clip of the ending theme.  I don’t remember it at all, but it sounds a bit like The Thirteenth Hour theme in a different key, which is maybe why I like it).  Love the guitar there.  Possible unconscious reference?  

It was really nice to be able to share this little slice of the 80s with my brother, since he not only did he remember a lot more than I did, but he’s one of the few people who knows the influence films like this, however obscure, had on the writing on The Thirteenth Hour books (more next week).  Check out Jeremy‘s work over at Pixel Grotto, CBR.com, and Classic Batman Panels on IG.  You can support his work on Ko-fi and get access to in-depth, exclusive Batman content here.   If you are of the DnD persuasion, his articles on DnD Beyond may be right up your alley.  Thanks, Jeremy, for coming on the show!  For those on Patreon, stay tuned for a bit for you guys!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #348: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About Highlander (1986) Part 1

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #348: Welcome My Brother, Jeremy, as We Talk About The Highlander (1986) Part 1

https://archive.org/download/podcast-348/Podcast%20348.mp3

 

This week, my brother, Jeremy, rejoins the show to talk about the 80s movie, Highlander.   This was a film I watched in high school I believe for a history class report on 1980s movies, and I recall watching the cartoon series probably a few years earlier.  While there are quite a few sequels and associated properties (like a TV show), this is probably the best of them, highlighted by a great soundtrack done by Queen with a score by Michael Kamen.  (You can actually watch the entire film for free on Tubi as well as some sequels, like the director’s cut version of the sequel, the animated series, and the TV show, which a kind soul also uploaded to Youtube).

Amazon.com: Highlander : Movies & TV

The film starts in quite dramatic fashion:

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It was interesting watching this film in over 20 years.  This clip is one of the few parts I actually remember.

This week and next, I’ll post some period specific articles on Japanese swords since the movie cites their history and borrows from the mythos even though it’s superficial.  This article comes from a 1982 martial arts magazine:

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It was really nice to be able to share this little slice of the 80s with my brother, since he not only did he remember a lot more than I did, but he’s one of the few people who knows the influence films like this, however obscure, had on the writing on The Thirteenth Hour books (more next week).  Check out Jeremy‘s work over at Pixel Grotto, CBR.com, and Classic Batman Panels on IG.  You can support his work on Ko-fi and get access to in-depth, exclusive Batman content here.   If you are of the DnD persuasion, his articles on DnD Beyond may be right up your alley.  Thanks, Jeremy, for coming on the show!  Look for more in part 2 next week!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #347: March/April 2022 Question and Answer Session

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #347: March/April 2022 Question and Answer Session

https://archive.org/download/podcast-347/Podcast%20347.mp3

 

This week, we have out last question and answer session!  

My brother, Jeremy, who will be on soon to discuss the film Highlander, returns this month with these questions:

1) Do you have any preference between the fantasy and sci-fi genres, and if so, why do you think that’s the case? I’m asking because some people are strictly in favor of one versus the other, and then there are those who hate traditional “elves and orcs” fantasy but really love Star Wars, which is basically “wizards in space.
 
The Last Starfighter (1984) - IMDb
 
2) The villain of The Thirteenth Hour, Klax, underwent quite a few changes in all of the novel’s drafts, moving from a fairly 2D bad guy to somewhat sympathetic in the final product. What makes a memorable villain in your opinion and who are some of your favorite bad guys?
 
klax faceplateRM
 
 
Why I'd like to be … Tim Curry in Legend | Movies | The Guardian
 
3) What are some of your favorite fantasy creatures? The Thirteenth Hour has dragons and unicorns but not too many other fantastical beasts – are there some creatures that you’re interested in featuring in later books?
 
logan with unicornWM
dragon aurora color small
 
Check out Jeremy‘s work over at Pixel Grotto, CBR.com, and Classic Batman Panels on IG.  You can support his work on Ko-fi and get access to in-depth, exclusive Batman content here.   If you are of the DnD persuasion, his articles on DnD Beyond may be right up your alley.  Thanks, Jeremy, for coming on the show!
 
These next five comes from frequent show guest Adam from