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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in vanguardcdk's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016
9:47 pm
Moving!

I signed a lease tonight. So it's real, I'm going to be moving next month to a studio apartment in the Winter Hill area of Somerville. (so literally just down the street away a bit)

First time moving in 13 years and first time I'll be living by myself. So definitely a bit of an adventure.

(for those curious the move is entirely opportunistic. The landlord wants to do some major renovations, followed by a rent increase, so going for my own place now makes sense. No drama with landlord or roommie or anything)

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016
8:33 pm
2015 stuff
2015 was an up and down year.  Some highs, some lows.
I managed to make it down to Philadelphia for a few days in between performance weekends and met up with the family, including meeting my niece for the first time.

Survived Snowmeggeden

Several curves sent my way during the Spring, so my travel plans for early 2015 all went down the drain.

Got to game more!  Although not as much as I would've liked.

Was terrible at making it to the movies in the theaters.  Let's see, I made it to: The Poltergiest remake, It Follows, Jurassic World, Avengers 2, Ant-Man, Cooties and Star Wars.  (although I did manage to catch Babadook and We Are Still Here on dvd)

I'm not sure I made it to any of the Festivals this year (although I did support the BUFF as is right and proper) nor was I able to go to the Coolidge Halloween Horror Marathon.

I had a fairly busy 2015 in regards to shows I worked on.

I worked on:
Star Trek: Space Seed (Arisia and reprise)
The Mousetrap
Knight of the Burning Pestle
Spring Adventure Spectacular
Night of the Super Sleuths
Festival@First 8 (consulted)
Monster in the Mirror
The Importance of Being Earnest
Slutcracker

Also got a fair amount of work done on The Four Chaplains studio project.

So yeah, busy busy busy.  Hopefully 2016 will be as well, only, y'know, not quite so roller-coastery.
Monday, November 16th, 2015
12:36 am
Additional Oracle Society stuff
Hmm...The Devil Pills is not the first adventure of Season 4.  I also had "Behold the Glory" and "Luck" which I swore I had written entries on...but they're nowhere to be found.

With Oracle Society entries I usually write them up "in my head" before getting them down in writing..so it's possible I had just thought about them and forgot to actually do the journal entry.

Anyway "Behold the Glory" was about a painter who actually managed to paint a picture accurately depicting Heaven...which is one of those "man's little brain can't handle that knowledge" things and basically started a spiritual plague that was wiping out a small town.
(had a fantastic seance scene in it too)

"Luck" was a St. Patrick's Day adventure where the party got to fight a pissed-off Leprechaun who was granting cursed wishes.  Fairly basic story but the players had fun.  Also had a possessed hay thrasher and as many references to the Leprechaun movies as I could cram in.

Might go back and do full entries for these later.  But for now wanted to get this written to keep my Season 4 list current.
Sunday, November 15th, 2015
11:28 pm
Oracle Society: The Devil Pills
Catching up on my Oracle Society Posts, I present the Oracle Society's adventure The Devil Pills.

A few weeks prior a new drug for mental illness started a trial run in a couple of Massachusetts health centers.  A few days ago suddenly a small set of those patients turned violent, assaulting the doctors and damaging the facilities before escaping.  As the patients showed inhuman strength and other frightening abilities the Oracle Society was quietly called in to investigate.

So did a batch of demonic drugs get dispatched?  Or is there more to the story...

Geekery after the cutCollapse )
Monday, October 5th, 2015
3:10 pm
RetroPC Toy Story
Inspired by:
Leigh Alexander (@leighalexander) "I got a new laptop... Next Pixar movie should be about the old laptops that get put under the bed with their merry stickers still on ;-;
"https://twitter.com/leighalexander/status/651094848074702848" October 5, 2015

Continued:

And in the final act the old machines have linked together to form a beowulf system to defeat the "tragic-backstory-but-still-kinda-evil" NewMachine..but still can't beat it...

AmigaAmy:  "Oh no!  We don't have the power to defeat it!  We need more memory space!"

iMacMaddy:  "What will we do??"

AspireAndy: "No choice.  No choice at all... Everyone cut your year entries by the first two digits!!"

(all the computers gasp in horror)

AmigaAmy:  "But..but..that procedure was banned after we nearly triggered the apocalypse.."

AspireAndy: "We have no choice.  End of Line AmigaAmy..."  (single digital tear icon goes down screen)

AmigaAmy:  "End of Line...."

(all character screens switch one by one to flying toasters as music swells)


Current Mood: silly
Tuesday, May 5th, 2015
11:49 pm
I saw Age of Ultron
I saw the second Avengers last weekend.  For the most part I liked it, although I would rank it on the lower end of the assorted Marvel films.  Mostly just way too much story/too many characters shoved in.  But it also had some nice bits and some great sequences.

Finicky spoiler stuffCollapse )
Wednesday, March 4th, 2015
12:40 am
Oracle Society Season 3 wrap-up
With The Stonehenge Massacre Season 3 is a wrap for my horror campaign: The Oracle Society.  This batch had 20 episodes/adventures!  Woo!

The players have had great fun pointing out that Season 3 took several years real time...but I just like to think of it as Cable Network scheduling.  Anyway, here is Season 3:

Sooo much gaming geekeryCollapse )

And that is Season 3!  Some really fun adventures there and I got to use a ton of classic monsters and stories.  On to Season 4, which will be interesting as the group is getting to high levels and garnering quite the reputation among occult circles (both human and... not)

If you're curious about the previous Seasons click here for Season 2: http://vanguardcdk.livejournal.com/331324.html
And Season 1: http://vanguardcdk.livejournal.com/261661.html
 
Sunday, February 1st, 2015
5:50 pm
Oracle Society: The Stonehenge Massacre
And The Oracle Society faces off against their Third Season Finale!   The Stonehenge Massace.

Who has been funding and running these rituals across the globe?  What are there horrible plans?  And when one of the Society members can't make it, will the group survive??

Gaming GeekeryCollapse )
Saturday, January 31st, 2015
12:25 pm
Oracle Society: Humans Don't Combust
Playing catch-up on my Oracle Society posts.

Humans Don't Combust was the fourth lead-up adventure in the Logic Arc, the big "end of Season 3 finale" storyline.  At this point after clearing out a haunted sea-based oil rig, a possessed aerial drone and the underground were-rat protected etchings the party had figured out I was going for a classical element theme.

So we start off with the characters noting that in the Norwegian village of Gravdal there had been a rash of Spontanious Human Combustion cases, it got their attention.

Assorted gaming geekeryCollapse )
Wednesday, January 7th, 2015
1:21 pm
2014 Theater projects
2014 was a decent year for projects.  I worked on 10 shows (of assorted sizes) altogether:

Trouble with Tribbles (Arisia, May Reprise and Boston Comic-Con performances)
Top Girls
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Summer Radio Mystery Theatre: Super Sleuths
Alterna-Tease
Henry the 4th
Tomes of Terror: Nevermore
Slutcracker

Alas I didn't get to work all of Theatre@First's main-stage season due to a November conflict, but still managed to work both Davis Square Theatre shows which were neat.

There were two milestones this year, R&G was the 10th anniversery for Theatre@First!  Woo!  And Slutcracker had their 100th performance on Dec. 19th.  (of which I've worked 93 of those)

And now on to 2015!  Which, of course, is already crazy scheduled.  Cuz it's me.  
Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
1:09 pm
Almost pursued a play
There's an article bopping around my freind's list about women's plays on stage (and the lack there-of).  You can read it here: http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/2014/12/08/theater-needs-more-stories-women-about-women/SCnyaSemyZ83KSv7HOVphI/story.html?event=event25

While I was reading it one of the plays caught my eye.  "The Flick" by Annie Baker.  Hmmm..I looked it up.  It's a drama about a group of movie theater employees at a small Massachussetts cinema.

Me:  oooooh!

And it's available!  Samuel French has it.

Me: OOoooooh!

I would like to produce that project!  And I y'know I work with local community theatre!!

Alas as I looked closer there are some problems. :(     It has only four characters, too small for one of our mainstage shows.  And sure it's a female playwright, but the gender breakdown doesn't win any favors at 3M and 1F.  Hmmm...

Maybe it could be the characters could be swapped or cross-cast?  And it could be pitched for the staged reading program (which allows for works that don't qualify for main stage)

Sure thing!  I mean the play is only.... three hours long.

Me:  Aw crap.

So the project goes back on the shelf for me.   To be clear this is not to bash the play itself, I still really want to see it sometime! But at the moment it's not one I'll pursue.
Monday, October 20th, 2014
12:20 pm
Tomes of Terror: Nevermore opens Friday!
The Post-Meridian Radio Players’ annual Halloween show starts this Friday!  Join us as we present three adaptations of classic Edgar Allan Poe stories along with a special radio drama style reading of The Raven.

Our stories will include original adaptations of The Masque of the Red Death, The Fall of the House of Usher and even a 1920s version of The Cask of Amontillado.

Tomes of Terror: Nevermore awaits you for six performances!    This Friday at 8pm and a matinee on Saturday at 2pm!  Then next week 8pm shows from Wed. the 29th through Saturday Nov. 1st!
This includes a special Halloween performance with costume contest!

Come join us as we present our tales in the style of the Golden Age of Radio!  See the sound effects performed live on stage!  Marvel at the retro candies and sodas we have available!

And as an extra Poe treat, our version of The Tell Tale Heart will be available on CD at the merch table!

So come join us at Responsible Grace Church in Davis Square for the shows.  Tickets are $15 or $12 for students and seniors.

For more details please visit http://nevermore.pmrp.org
Thursday, October 9th, 2014
8:08 pm
Oracle Society: Lights in the Sky
Catching up on the Oracle Society posts as I'm two adventures behind.

The PCs are called down to New Mexico to invesitage reports  of lights in the skies, odd mechanical fluctations and people with lost time.

Will the Oracle Society find Litle Grey Men?  Or something even worse?

Cut for gaming geekeryCollapse )
Wednesday, August 6th, 2014
9:59 pm
Stripping, Burlesque and Pole-Dancing
There are three types of performance that use or are related to the art of striptease that I have been involved with at various times (most notably as working with the Boston peformances of The Slutcracker and other local Burlesque shows) and I wanted to discuss the differences between them.

These are all my personal opinions and should not be taken as a rigorous academic study. Also please note this is a discussion about modern stripping and burlesque, not historical (which is an honestly fascinating topic but beyond the scope of this post).

As the title implies this is a discussion of the differences in stripping and burlesque with a quick note about pole dancing.

Pole Dancing
Pole dancing is the art of dancing around a pole, including using grips and moves to hold yourself up on the pole with no other support.  The really talented dancers can often do routines that basically tell gravity to shut up and go away. (talented Aerial silk dancers often do the same)
Pole dancing is heavily involved with stripping, both in clubs and some private life, but it can also be performed entirely on it's own for entertainment or competition.  Note the Pole Sport Organization:
pso-logo-300x300
(partially included because it's a cool logo)
Unfortunately pole dancing is sometimes smeared as not a "real" activity, which a few years ago actually led to a pole dancer being denied entry into the US for an international competition because the official didn't believe it and accused it of being a flimsy cover for a sex ring.  ~sigh~
It's a real thing.  And one of the more eye-catching performances at Slutcracker.

Stripping and Burlesque
Strippers and burlesque performers use the art of striptease to give a performance.  It's not just taking off one's clothes when music plays, for any success there is an artistic/skilled side to it.  The differences come down to intent.

Strippers use striptease to arouse the audience.  It is primarily sexual although there may be comedic or dramatic elements involved as well.  Strippers usually go as nude as the law allows in their area.

Burlesque performers use striptease to tell a story.  This can range from comedy to horror to political satire/statements.  This is not to say arousing the audience isn't part of it, and is usually considered a happy bonus.
Burlesque usually only goes down to thong and pasties, depending on the show and the laws in their area.  This allows Burlesque to be performed in a lot more venues.  There are exceptions where performers will do nudity and there are other routines where the performer may disrobe very little.

There are some other differences, such as stripping can be a job and providing a much larger income, while burlesque performers tend to be independent artists, with the related money issues tagging a long.

Some performers believe there is a hard and fast line between the two styles and some who feel the line is blurred (a few burlesque performers that I know will casually use the term stripper for themselves).   But aside from marketing (in the ads you want to be very clear if it's a burlesque or strip show or other variation) the differences aren't that important.

They're performers there to entertain, to give people an escape or to inform, and they use their costumes (as skimpy or as elegant as they may be) to do it.
 
Friday, June 13th, 2014
1:53 pm
Not theft! Yay!
I had ordered some DVDs from Movies Unlimited a few weeks ago. The order went out in two shipments (one disc got delayed for whatever reason).

The second shipment arrived, but the first one never did. So I sadly concluded that it had been swiped from the porch.

But today I got an email, the package had been damaged by the post office during transport and returned to the shipper. So they're sending a replacement.

Always glad to know something wasn't people being horrible. (albiet too bad about the USPS screw up).
Saturday, June 7th, 2014
1:33 am
Haunted Hollows DVD Pack
So the other day I saw a DVD collection "Haunted Hollows". 8 films about haunted houses, all crammed on 2 dvds and only $5! How could that possibly go wrong??

Much like the 8 Horror Film collection I wrote about a few months ago, I have made it through each one. And for $5...it was okay.

The 8 Films:

The House that Would Not Die
This one proved to be an old TV Movie from the 70s 'movie of the week' fame. Very heavy on the atmosphere, and obviously constrained by being for broadcast, but not a bad film. It's a bit slow but the story is interesting enough.

The Haunting of Fox Hollow Farm
A no-budget found footage film. Ghost investigators spend the night in a house, don't find anything, make up for it with lots and lots of cheap editing tricks. Boring, boring, boring.

Evidence of a Haunting
Another group of investigators talk about their freakiest cases. Again, low budget and suffers from a weak start but gets interesting near the end. Actually has some character development and some interesting plot ideas (some of them don't quite work, but I give the movie bonus points for trying)
Still, worth watching.

7 Nights of Darkness
Another found footage film, this one is a group of people who have to stay in a an abandoned asylum for 7 days and nights to win a bunch of money. As one might expect things go very, very badly. Cliched, but not nearly as bad as the other films. Even has an interesting bit every now and then.

Children of the Corn 666: Isaac's Return
Awww..a Hollywood film shoe-horned in to the collection for the name value. Doesn't even have a haunted house. Terrible Hollywood direct-to-video horror.

Darkness
Another Hollywood horror film, this one with a young Anna Paquin, but this one actually has a haunted house in it. Unfortunately while it's nice to have a movie that was competently made (actual lighting! you never miss that until you get films that can't afford it...) it's still dreadfully boring. IMDB says it was heavily cut to drop from R to PG-13 film, and still sat on the shelf for 2 years.
Run of the mill Hollywood flick.

Ominous
The worst movie of the bunch. No-budget film about a family goes to haunted cabin movie. Ghosts that love to pop up and look scary behind the actors but don't actually do anything. Cheap editing tricks that don't work. Oh, and the plot is a complete and total downer. Blugh.

The Haunting of Winchester House
Oh boy! It's the movie by The Asylum. So sit back for people who are competent in their jobs but didn't have the time or interest to put any work into it. Lots of bad CGI. Dreadful plot and characters.

So a couple of movies that were worth watching, a few movies that really weren't and a lot of middling bits. So $5 was just the right price point but I was hoping for more.
Thursday, March 20th, 2014
4:33 pm
So much cool stuff coming to Blu-Ray this summer...
Scream Factory (http://www.shoutfactory.com/screamfactory) puts out horror films on Blu-Ray, and they do an amazing job of it.  Pretty much every week is "oh btw we're putting out [awesome title] next week, just because".

Well, they announced their summer release list and it is crazy: (! my faves)

MAY
Final Exam
Evilspeak
Nosferatu !
House in the Alley
Sleepaway Camp (Collector’s Edition)

JUNE
Ravenous
The Monkey’s Paw

JULY
The Final Terror
Lake Placid (Collector’s Edition)
Deadly Eyes
Ginger Snaps (Collector’s Edition)

AUGUST
Phantom of the Paradise (Collector’s Edition)
Motel Hell (Collector’s Edition)
Leviathan !
The Legend of Hell House !
Dog Soldiers (Collector’s Edition)  !!!
**Mystery Title**

Yes...Leviathan and Phantom of the Paradise are getting blu-ray special editions.  Cuz that's how Scream Factory rolls.

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014
1:52 pm
Oracle Society: Rats and Skulls
This last weekend we sat down for another episode of Torture the Players..err..The Oracle Society.  This time the investigators were summoned to Paris to investigate some odd goings on in the subway system there.

Amusing as the DM (me) doesn't speak French so I got to butcher the pronunciation of quite a few character and place names.

I also didn't check how many of the PCs spoke French before deciding on the setting.  I was kind of hoping that none of them did, but alas 2/5 were fluent so there wasn't too much fish-out-of-water goofiness.

This was not the first international adventure (that would have been 3 Skulls of White down in Mexico) but it was the first time they left North America.

Cut for gaming geekery and French historyCollapse )
Monday, January 6th, 2014
10:48 pm
2013 in review
So it's 2014, and time to look at the last year.  2013 was just stupidly busy but I managed to survive it.  Whee!

I did 12 shows!!!  Crazy!

Shows I worked on in a significant way:

The Vagina Monologues
Arisia:  The Day the Earth Stood Still reprise
Lysistrata
Spring Scifi Spectacular 2
Baltimore Waltz
The Sign of Four
Alternatease Festival
Twelfth Night
The Bully Plays
Night of the Living Dead
Long Island Dr. Who/Starship of Madness
The Big Broadcast of 1962: A Byfar Christmas Carol
The Slutcracker

Admittedly a few of those were one night bits but still quite busy.  And I managed to make it to the Coolidge's Midnight-Noon Halloween movie marathon.  Very important that.

I made it to Philadelphia for the first time, which was a lot of fun.  Also the first time in Long Island for that matter.

Things continue to go well with Z, which is really nice.

My horror campaign suffered badly, with only a few sessions all year.  Hopefully I'll be able to pull it back up this coming year.

Oh, and I managed to expand my walks from Powderhouse to Sullivan Sq. Station to Powderhouse to Bunker Hill.  I even managed one walk past Bunker Hill to the USS Constitution.   I'm going to try to do a walk from Powderhouse to Boston Common (by way of the Freedom Trail) and back sometime next year, once the weather gets nice again.

All in all, not a bad year.
Monday, December 30th, 2013
2:27 am
Backing up my DVDs
So I've been playing with the Vudu streaming media service.  It's a streaming movie rental place that also acts as an Ultraviolet provider.

Ultraviolet is the digital copy system a few companies are doing now on DVDs.  It offers a streaming copy, which has some benefits (streaming off the cloud to multiple devices) and some drawbacks (proprietary file format, odd restrictions).

I had UV copies of films from a few DVD purchases, and had those put in (cuz, y'know, free).  And the companies began pushing a "disc to digital" service where you can get UV copies of films you already have DVDs for.   It's $2/disc but if you do a purchase of 10 or more you get them half-price.  With a library my size that wasn't hard to do, so I figure a buck a disc is doable.
Plus I noticed a crack in my Terminator 2 dvd.  So backups suddenly seemed like a good idea, and this was an easy and legal way to do it.

Of course, these are Hollywood services...so the whole thing was designed by a committee of Studio lawyers.  Frankly I'm amazed the thing got off the ground in the first place.

Still, over all it's been some ups and downs
Read more...Collapse )
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