Jul 31, 2013

2013 Sand Sculpting Festival

This year marked the 10th anniversary for the Revere Beach National Sand Sculpting Festival. I try to go every year because the artists' work is always stunning. And I thought we picked the cooler day of the weekend but we had a 99 degree record breaking day. Even though the event has National in its name, the participants come from all over. 
The top four were from Canada, US, Mexico and Holland respectively.

And just to humble brag before getting into the pics...
One of my shots was featured on the Flickr Daily Blog on July 30th

The first thing that greeted us as we approached the beach was a flight of kites.

2013 revere beach sand sculpting festival kites

Sure it's not every day you see a giant panda flying in the sky but there was a slightly more unusual kite flying up there. That one right in the middle of the shot...

Jul 29, 2013

Mailbox Invaders - Retro-y Goodness

Recently, relatively new League of Extraordinary Bloggers member Trash Man over at Pop Pop! It's Trash Culture hosted a crazy giveaway or as he called it "free junk!" While the winner's circle was occupied by Goodwill Geek, TM (can I call ya TM?) was awesome enough to send out consolation prizes to all who entered the contest.

We didn't know we were getting anything until after the contest was over so that was a nice surprise! Come to find out, the two of us live in the same state not too far away so I'm probably the first one to get their consolation prize.

What I got was an envelope packed with "retro-y goodness"™

First, we got comics! Cap and The Defenders are from the 80s and the Tales book is from '77. Although it's a reprint, the cover and pencils were done by Gil Kane. The Defenders was always one of my favorite books because it had Doc Strange in it, added bonus: Scarlet Witch is in this ish! Cap's going at it with Anaconda on his cover. I've never really liked her.
I mean, how can you not call yourself Ana Conda?

Trading cards? We got those! I think they're all from the 80s, I'm not up on my GPK history. I'm going to tear these open but I ain't eatin the gum! Some of them will get recycled into the Random Box O Stuff that I grab from when I send to other bloggers. I'm most interested to see just how 3D the Jaws 3D cards are!

And I realized that I left out the what's probably the coolest, and smallest, part of the prize pack: a LEGO Series 1 Robot Minifig! I've actually had this guy on my want list for some time. Now I can finally have the good and evil robots fight each other.

A huge thanks to Trash Man! Be sure to swing by his blog and twitter: @ItsTrashCulture

Jul 26, 2013

World War II Documents

A couple months ago my step-dad acquired a bunch of stuff from an estate sale. There were lots of postcards, some hand painted from Italy and others more "recent" like this one from 1972 Iowa. There were also quite a few antique photos from the early 1900s, most of which are creepy! But what really caught my eye was a bunch of WWII era documents.

Unfortunately, I don't have any context for these things but I thought they were pretty cool and wanted to share them. It's one thing to read about history but I enjoy reading and handling things like old newspaper clippings which are physical parts of history.

You can click on images to see them bigger and/or browse them on Flickr.

The majority (and possibly even all) of these items are from 1945. The below letter was sent by Pvt. Charles Rochette who was assigned to the 38th Armored Infantry Battalion (AIB). Taunton is my home town.

World War 2 WWII WW2 World War II soldier letter envelope 1945World War 2 WWII WW2 World War II soldier letter 1 envelope 1945
World War 2 WWII WW2 World War II soldier letter 2 envelope 1945World War 2 WWII WW2 World War II soldier letter 3 envelope 1945

It's just a soldier writing home to his wife and recently born daughter. The last part is what really paints a picture for me where he talks about being out on patrol, gathering fire wood and then making some coffee to have with a fruit cake.

I wasn't sure if the remaining items were tied to Pvt. Rochette because they're from the 7th Armored Division ("Lucky Seventh") and he's in the 38th AIB. (I  have no idea how military hierarchy works!) But I did learn me something after some Wiki exploration!
The 38th Armored Infantry Battalion was part of the 7th Armored Division, a-ha!

Here's a flyer from a salon in Aywaille Belgium.
Shave and a haircut, 27 cents!

World War 2 WWII WW2 World War II salon flyer aywaille belgium 1945World War 2 WWII WW2 World War II salon flyer aywaille belgium 1945

The 7th Armored participated in the Battle of St. Vith which was part of the Battle of the Bulge. These are all cut out from newspapers at the time. Not much of interest on the backs.

World War 2 WWII WW2 World War II 7th armored division st vith battle of the bulge 1945 newspaper

World War 2 WWII WW2 World War II 7th armored division st vith battle of the bulge 1945 newspaper

Here's a typewritten account of troop movements. Unsure if it was written by Rochette.

World War 2 WWII WW2 World War II 7th armored division st vith battle of the bulge 1945

Lastly, here's the equivalent of the company newsletter for the 7th. One side is world news, the other specifically about what's going on with the 7th.

World War 2 WWII WW2 World War II 7th armored division st vith battle of the bulge 1945World War 2 WWII WW2 World War II 7th armored division st vith battle of the bulge 1945

Jul 22, 2013

Mailbox Invaders - Custom LEGO Halloween Scene

So I happened to be browsing Ebay a few weeks ago, as I'm wont to do, when I decided to look for LEGO Halloween stuff. If you've been around these parts for a bit, you know my LEGO minifig focus has mainly been contained to the monsterous/Halloween-ish ones. I found all sorts of interesting things from custom zombies to a Headless Horseman for sale. 
I will have a LEGO Horseman one day if I have to custom one up myself!

But what really caught my attention were a few auctions from seller jzieglemeier10. She puts together custom Halloween scenes and displays. One of the things I really like about what she's doing is that she isn't just doing the same sets over and over. It seems like each one is a little bit different even if it may be a similar idea behind the sets.

custom LEGO Halloween scene witch pumpkin bat skeleton spider

There were a few different sets but this is the one I decided to go for. There were no bids and only a few hours left. I don't have a skeleton in my monstorium yet and the witch is different from the one that was released in the blind bag minifig series. The starting price was about $10 which is really good just for 3 minifigs, never mind the scenery, spiders and pumpkins. But the whole reason I wanted this set is that guy right in the middle. 

LEGO pumpkin head minifig Halloween pumpkin spider

I don't know why, but I have an affinity for pumpkin-headed people. Maybe it's loosely related to my love of the Headless Horseman, although I'm pretty sure Disney were the ones that gave him a flaming gourd for his noggin instead of the tale's original severed head. Anyway, he's ready to MC the festivities with his dapper top hat, suit jacket and bat staff.

I won't get into the boring details but I had a problem with the PO getting this to me. It was scanned in as "delivered" but I didn't receive it until a week later and the bubble mailer had been opened! Luckily, the seller packed it all well so nothing was missing. I opened a case on Ebay to let the seller know, called the PO, yadda yadda yadda. The seller was great and very responsive, which is why I'm mentioning her by name: jzieglemeier10.

I'd probably mention her anyway so other people can find some cool little Halloween LEGO that you can't get in the store but I had a very good experience with her during my situation and that's worth all the free publicity I can give! She's been collecting LEGO and Halloween related things for a number of years and decided to try her hand at putting them together. Also check out her Facebook page called Creative Primworks where she shows off her mostly Halloween handcrafted works.

Just 101 days til Halloween!

Jul 17, 2013

League Post - Robots!

League of Extraordinary Bloggers

The League of Extraordinary Bloggers wants to say "Dōmo arigatō" to this weeks topic:


This is another one of those general topics that I could probably do a post a day on for a couple of weeks and still not cover everything I want to mention. I'm going to try and limit myself to the bots of my childhood.

My first exposure to robots, that I can remember, was seeing Star Wars when I was a kid. I had a book called The Star Wars Album that tells the story and covers a lot of things that influenced the movie. Of course there is a section on robots/androids. Ten bonus points if you can i.d. the still in the lower right and an extra point if you know why it's relevant here.

Image from ioffer, but don't buy there. It's too expensive!

Jul 15, 2013

Mailbox Invaders - Boss Monster

I recently got my first Kickstarted physical game in the mail and wanted to show it off. 
It's got a perfect storm of things going on that made it a must buy for me:
 it's a card game, it's fantasy based and the 8-bit artwork.

Brotherwise Games Boss Monster card game
The shiny gold Zelda-like box sleeve was one of the backer exclusive perks.
While I played a good amount of Nintendo back in the day, I know my experience is pretty sparse. I stuck mainly to Mario, Zelda and licensed games like Star Wars or Indiana Jones, so I don't have a lot of the nostalgia that most Nintendo players have for many of the fantasy games like Castlevania. Nope, never played a one!

I think Nintendo and D&D fans would like this game. There's a lot of sly winks to both.

I'm not going to go into too much detail of how the game is played, I mainly wanted to show some of the cards to give a general impression. You can read more on the Boss Monster site.

The premise of the game is a bit different from what you might expect. Instead of the intrepid adventurer questing for loot: you get to be the Boss Monster!

Brotherwise Games Boss Monster cards
Zyzax's name is inspired by Gary Gygax, creator of D&D.
As a Boss Monster, your goal is to lure Heroes into your dungeon and collect 10 of their souls before they can do enough damage to kill you.

Brotherwise Games Boss Monster Hero cards
Take a closer look, you might recognize some of these Heroes!
You accomplish this by building dungeon rooms laden with traps and hungry monsters. Each room has one or more types of Hero specific treasure icons. The Heroes will be lured to the Boss Monster's dungeon with the most matching Treasure icons. The rooms all have something special to help you conquer the Heroes and the other Boss Monsters.

Brotherwise Games Boss Monster Room cards
The Dark Lab art reminds me of a piece of fantasy artwork but I can't remember what it is.
And no devious Boss Monster's arsenal of tricks would be complete without some Spells to help overcome the greedy Heroes!

Brotherwise Games Boss Monster Spell cards
A few familiar faces?
I haven't had a chance to actually play it yet, but I'd say it's a safe bet that if you like the art and sense of humor that it's up your alley. They're currently working on the first expansion called Tools of Hero-Kind. They've also mentioned a standalone expansion, to be a future Kickstarter, code named Crash Landing which has something to do with aliens coming into the fantasy realm of Boss Monster.

I got some really neat-o things for being a backer, like holo-foil versions of the Boss Monster cards and gold  arcade inspired "level up" tokens. Even without those added goodies,
I think $25 is a great price for a boxed game with 148 cards.

Head over here to order and/or check out a gameplay video.

Jul 13, 2013

Happy 2nd Blog-i-versary!

What do you call it when you hit the anniversary of the day you made your first blog post? No, really. What do you call it because I don't know.

Whatever it is, we're celebrating the 2nd one today!
That's right, AEIOU and Sometimes Why has been on the webs for two years.
This is the 384th post to the blog in that time.

No, no. Gifts aren't necessary!
But if you're feeling charitable, why not share one of your favorite posts
 to your social network of choice.

Party on and be excellent to each other!

Jul 12, 2013

Remember That Girl in That Music Video?

If you're of a certain age, like me, the above image will likely flood your brain with nostalgia for the early years of broadcast's first 24/7 music channel. For you younger people, it may be hard to believe but there was a time oh-so-long-ago when Mtv played music videos 
and ONLY music videos around the clock.

While the young ladies of the 80s were swooning over the likes of Rick Springfield and Duran Duran, there weren't a lot of female artists in rotation for us young men to fawn over. 

What we lacked in artists was more than made up for by the male bands (usually hair bands) having attractive women in their videos. Sure, you probably remember Tawny Kitaen gyrating her way through Whitesnake videos or Bobbi Brown in Warrant's "Cherry Pie" but there's a lot more you've probably forgotten by now. For example, Signy Coleman from the Huey Lewis videos "I Want a New Drug" and "Heart and Soul". 

Did you have an "Oh yeah, I remember her now!" moment? If so, you should head over to the blog Noblemania hosted by pop culture archaeologist Marc Tyler Nobleman. He's taken it upon himself to track down and interview many of these women who gained fame as being "that girl in that video." Be aware: although he has many links listed, they are going live one per day starting today so everything below Signy Coleman will slowly be revealed.
Personally, I'm looking forward to hearing from the ZZ Top girls.

Throughout the series of interviews he promises to reveal the identities behind a few notable pop music names such as Josie ("Your Love" by The Outfield) and Annie ("Smooth Criminal" by Michael Jackson). And with crowd sourcing, perhaps you can help locate the three ladies he has yet to contact! 

This isn't the first time I've mentioned Marc. Previously I wrote about his amazing archive of interviews with superhero icons from the 70s and 80s. If you're a pop culture junkie, he is definitely someone you should be following.

Jul 9, 2013

League Post - Return to Hake's

league of extraordinary bloggers

For this week's League of Extraordinary Bloggers assignment, we're going shopping again! 

Go on a fictional shopping spree at Hake’s current auction #209 to make your collection a little more amazing. 

Surprisingly, I didn't find a lot to get excited about this time around. Sure, I wouldn't say no to any of the vintage Star Wars toys, especially that Early Bird Kit with the double-telescoping Luke figure (it's not as dirty as it sounds, really!), but those would be more for displaying in their sealed glory than anything else.
 If I'm adding to the collection, it has to be something special. 

Jul 3, 2013

Space Janitors

Yes, it's Wednesday and this isn't a "Star Wars Wednesday" post. 
But it is Star Wars adjacent!

Space Janitors is a comedy/science fiction web series created by Davin Lengyel and Geoff Lapaire. It chronicles the lives of two janitors, Mike and Darby, who serve aboard an evil iconic space station. After all, someone has to buff out the blaster burn marks from the halls and mop up the hero guts from the not-so-bottomless shaft, right?
In a distant corner of the universe, a galaxy is at war. Rebels battle for freedom; villains fight for control. But the true heroes are the ones cleaning up the mess…

While they do draw a lot of inspiration from Star Wars, sharp eyed fans can spot other blatant and sometimes subtle franchise references including Tron, Halo and even Reboot.

The series is distributed by Geek and Sundry on YouTube. They're almost done with season 2 and have started an IndieGoGo campaign for season 3. And I have to say I'm a little sad that they're only a third of the way to their goal with 11 days to go. Seriously, these guys should be doing a Spaceballs sequel!

I think even if you're not a huge sci-fi nerd, it's still pretty funny, but you may miss some of the more specific jokes. Either way, I can't recommend this enough. It's one of the few web shows I get truly excited about when I see a new episode has been posted.
Go watch it!

Jul 1, 2013

Monthly Movie Recap - June 2013

Hey, it's July! And you know what that means...just about four months til Halloween!
Let's get this recap started!

Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1974) aka They Call Her One Eye
I'm still not sure if Shawn Robare of Branded In The 80s and Cult Film Club deserves thanks or blame for introducing me to this one. For the record, there are two cuts of this, one of which has extra sex/prostitution/rape scenes and that's the one I saw, lucky me. It spends way too much time on Madeline's predicament and gets uncomfortable. I understand a girl being forced into drug addiction and prostitution shouldn't be easy to watch but I wish I'd watched the shorter version.

Cool: Seeing her use her prostitution money to get training so she can kick some ass; trenchcoats and slo-mo bullets are always a good time; rumor has it they used an actual cadaver for the eye removal scene!
Lame: Even once the revenge starts, it's still kinda boring; way more anus than I ever want to see, seriously, watch the shorter cut!
Rating: 5.5/10

28 Weeks Later (2007)
I really liked 28 Days Later but I just didn't "get" this one. Sure it had some really intense scenes with the infected and parts that can get a little hard to watch (in a good way) but I didn't feel like there was much of a story. Yes, there's the whole survival thing but none of the characters are given much to do except try not to die.

Cool: Lots of now familiar faces in the cast; plenty of carnage
Lame: The helicopter vs infected scene was cool but I guess they forgot the blood can infect you?
Rating: 6/10, still better than some of the zombie overload we've been given

Man of Steel (2013)
I don't know I would have ever thought to take Superman the sci-fi action route, but I like it! After the last one, I'm glad we're getting away from the romance. I really enjoyed the way they avoided doing the same old origin story first movie. Is DC finally getting their movie act together?

Cool: The Kryptonian ships and gear; some great moments with young Clark
Lame: During non-actiony parts the camera should not be shaky! Overuse of the "quick zoom" tracking shot; Smallville will never recover unless Superman helps them rebuild
Rating: 7.5/10, where do you go with the sequel after saving the Earth?

Superman: Unbound (2013)
I know they likely released this to capitalize on the Man of Steel release, but it felt equally about Supergirl as it does Superman. Overall, it was just ok for me compared to some of the other DC direct to video movies.

Cool: Where else would you get Stana Katic, Molly Quinn and John Noble in a Superman movie? As an extremely casual DC fan, it was good to see why Kandor is stuck in a bottle.
Lame: Brainiac is kind of a dick in the way he "preserves" things
Rating: 6/10

Month Total

Year to Date
New: 42, Rewatch:1