Tuesday, December 25, 2007

2007 in Review.

2007: A Year in Review.

  • Dec. 25th, 2007 at 10:47 AM

2007: A Year in Review.

Being half-gypsy:
At the beginning of 2007 I had recently arrived from a very short stint in Seattle. It was fun, but brief. Maybe it was the gods telling me to get back to Wisconsin, but things worked out at the end of 2006 to get me back to lovely Mount Horeb Wisconsin.

For the first half of the year I got to play Illustrator. Lots of work got done, but little hit the presses. Such is the nature of doing freelance illustration for small-press publishers. Made little fundage, but did get some interest from much larger publishers...just in time for the CAR-MA (heheh, play on words...karma...CAR-MA...get it?) to kick in!

So Katie was still working for Cuna Mutual Group: a monstrosity of an Insurance Company. An evil empire if there ever was one.

In maybe late April, early May, things took a turn for the worse. Car failures. bits started breaking. In May I decided to get back in to the tech field and drop the pretense of being an illustrator as we needed the money. I got a contracting gig...at CUNA Mutual Group no less.

After some serious hardships, some $2400 in repairs out of pocket and getting behind in everything...things started to balance out.

I ended my contract at CMG and got another gig at a smaller, but much cooler place.

Where CMG was a matter of a great wage but dealing with a lot of Corporate BS and politics...as well as shamming my ass off and doing as little as possible during the day and working for an outfit that was ethically shady and more interested in staying with the company to gain tenure and get to retirement while doing as little as possible...

...The NEW job is a smaller outfit, geared towards working hard, and getting the job done as fast and accurately as possible. All about efficiency, and quality. VERY little politics and corporate BS. The leadership are all pros, and the people I report to have all done my job, and can do it better than I can (I can't explain what a relief this is. Nothing sucks as much as working for people who have no idea what you do: administrators who can't relate to you or your job and simply push mandates from on-high.).

So the new job is good. I'm a rock-star and fit in well as I like to work and get in, get the job done, and have pride in my work so that when it is done, and I put my name on it, it is guaranteed to be A-J Squared the fuck AWAY! In addition, to work in a place that expects that and rewards it.

So the Nissan is in the garage in the basement with a hole in the fuel line (and a dozen other issues), un-driveable until I fix it. I'm keeping it as a back-up...just in case.
The Volvo is out #1, "Good" car, and is in the driveway. It's getting really crappy fuel economy, but it's a solid runner with good tires, so I'm not going to bitch.

We have a $500 Honda which I drive as a daily runner. Looks like crap, but really...as long as it runs I'm satisfied.

Well...I've played in a couple campaigns, and ran a couple as well. I'm (for those who know me) a PT GM. Only a relief GM. Not a FT guy. I usually do pretty well on a short run, but run out of steam in the stretch. The Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay campaign I was running I think is officially dead. I know people still want to play, but I'm burned out. Lots of stuff I'd love to PLAY...but my GMing batteries are worn out. This year we also got to play a bit of Savage Worlds in a variety of settings. MAN! I LOVE that system! Shadowrun 4th Ed has been a blast too.

We have been able to play a bit of Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy Battle this last year. Our primary hobby is collecting, assembling, converting, painting and occasionally playing Warhammer.

Apocalypse has been a blast.

So many games...so little time.

Life and Myself:
I've learned a bit about myself this year. I've gained more patience in some areas...and less in others.

I've found that there are some people who are friends...real friends. The kind of friend who you can respect, and respects you back. The kind that are willing to actually listen.

Then there are those who are simply "friends of the moment"...friends who are there for a common cause but really aren't there for you at all.

I learned that cliques don't necessarily end in high school. I learned that I'm not necessarily one of the cool kids...and I learned that I'm okay with that.

I guess it's a matter of having patience with those that matter and less with those that don't.

I haven't had the time to spend with people like I would have liked. Partly because of wasted time with folks who really I shouldn't have. Partly due to unforeseen circumstances with vehicles. This coming year I intend to rectify that.

It's all about priorities...and keeping them straight. Dealing with the important stuff and letting the stuff that doesn't matter...really slide.

Goals for Next Year:
Again we're planning on going to conventions. We love them and the opportunities they present for getting to hang out with people we care about. GamesDay Chicago and GenCon Indy are the two most likely candidates, though there may be others to add to the list.

I've put on a bit of weight since dropping out of the SCA. My physical activity has tapered off, and it's starting to show. I need to work on that. I don't have any need to be a hard-body or anything...I don't need to impress anyone, I'd just like to be healthier (well...not like I'm ever sick or anything...but need to build up my wind again. It's hard to believe I used to be able to run a marathon and hike 30+ miles a day. Sad really.

Hopefully the vehicles will stay solid for a bit and we can save up to replace them as needed. We're indifferent about cars that look fancy or using them as status symbols...really, they are only a means to get to work, and what they look like means something between jack and shit to us. Same goes for pretty much everything material. We just don't care. We work, and we have our hobbies and our friends. Pretty straight-forward, simple life really.

I'd like to strengthen our ties to our friends, people local and distant. I'd like to reconnect with some local friends, maybe do some gaming, maybe just hang out.

Work seems solid and I'm digging it. Maybe get some certifications. Not really interested in advancement. I like being hands on, and don't really like my Manager's job (meetings, process documentation, etc).

Well...that's about it.
2007 in a nutshell.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Descent of Angels: Summary and Review

Well...I finished Descent of Angels and as promised here is the Summary and Review:

Descent of Angels

(Horus Heresy)

By Mitchel Scanlon This Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: October 30, 2007

The Summary:

The story obviously is about the Dark Angels...the First Legion of Astartes during the Great Crusade. The story is told from the perspective of Zahariel, an "Aspirant" to a knightly order on the planet Caliban. The story progresses through his youth, training, questing and knighthood...all set under the eye of the Primarch Lion'El Jonson. The tale details the beginnings of the Order and how cool the Primarch was, surpassing even the greatest living Legends of the Age, Luther, Ramiel and others and how impressive even the mere mortals were...much less the nigh-godlike Lion.

Early on you can see where tension would arise between The Lion and his Knights. One of the main characters is Luther. Easily the greatest hero of all time. A knight who had surpassed all who had come before in honor, fighting ability, sheer charisma. "A Perfect Knight" by any measure. Luther is the one who found the child Lion'El Jonson. The story details how The Lion was found, how he somehow survived alone on a deadly planet full of "Great Beasts" which were usually the object of numerous "Quests". Of course...with the arrival of The Lion, everything changed.

Being a Primarch, The Lion surpassed everyone rapidly and soon became a knight, created "The Order" and through this "Order" changed the shape of Caliban's politics and civilization forever. Being a world of Knightly Orders...the Lion's "Order" ...called "The Order" BTW, soon consumed or destroyed all competition and set about a quest to rid the planet Caliban of all Great Beasts. This of course was revolutionary.

In the end The Lion's quest was successful, the main characters, teenagers become knights and the last vestiges of the old regime were wiped away.

Soon after the completion of his Great Quest (and about 2/3 of the book) was the "Descent of Angels". The 1st Legion, Angels in Black, Astartes...coming to herald the coming of The Emperor of Mankind. The story fast forwards to the point where Zahariel, his best friend and cousin as well as several others are prepared for their transformation to astartes.

As the reader may understand, only the young can become astartes, so many members of The Order are given surgical improvements, but cannot become astartes. This leaves out many, including the Great Hero Luther.

Fast forward again to the arrival of the Emperor. There is a plot hatching within The Order. Some members don't like what The Emperor and his Imperium mean...a loss of their identity, of their traditions, their religion...etc. Zahariel is brought in by his cousin to join this secretive cabal of rebels, but he won't be a party to it.

Zahariel foils the plot, and and the story fast forwards again to the Legion taking over the conversion towards compliance of a planet currently held by the White Scars. A brief interlude and the Dark Angels as they are now called relieve the White Scars so they can move to another area to continue the Great Crusade.

Of course, there is a plot and soon a nice, simple, peaceful transition becomes open warfare. The war goes quickly, and through the use of some psyker power and some of the newer astartes and older knights (non-astartes) the planet is certified "compliant". The Lion, seemingly uncomfortable with some of the members of the expedition and the way the campaign was concluded...sends some prominent members back to Caliban to gather more recruits and train them...including Luther, who at this point is starting to chafe in the shadow of The Lion as well as several older "Knights" as well as younger ones like Zahariel.

The Review:

That's it. They introduce a new character and we see him grow to be a superhero...and then he becomes an Astartes. A latent psyker to boot.

The Lion isn't much more than a background superhero who instigates a conflict with the other orders in order to get what he wants, as well as easily alienates his best and brightest.

Although you can see how dissent could easily form, there is little of it. A few veiled glimpses from minor characters, and a few understandable questionings from characters such as Luther are it. The one threat came from the secret cabal and that was put down immediately.

I guess you can see how some turned away from The Lion, but the book doesn't really get in to it. No split in the ranks, no "Fallen" and "Unforgiven". None of that. Just the merest glimpse of how the dissent began...barely.

Honestly, I wanted to see less of Zahariel as a teenage wonderboy and more training as an Astartes. More Dark Angels as a Legion and more meat as far as why the split happened.

In reading Descent of Angels, I kept wondering...when are we getting to him becoming an Astartes, and then wondering when the mutiny would happen. It never did.

Maybe the book was too subtle. Maybe I've been led down the primrose path by too many Black Library books that lay it out all nice and neat in four-color style. I kept thinking there just HAS to be a sequel in order to finish the story.

It wasn't a bad book. I did enjoy it. I was let down though. I expected more. Maybe that is on me.


Of all the Horus Heresy series, I'm grading this one the Lowest thus far. That being said, on a scale of One to Five Stars, One meaning it Truly Sucked and Five being an All-Time Classic....I'm giving Descent of Angels Three Stars. (***)

ooooOOOOOOooohhhh...gotta have it!

...the only thing I want for Christmas (well...in January at least.)



Deluxe and very limited!

This lavishly produced deluxe collectors edition Dark Heresy Rulebook is limited to 200 copies worldwide.

With a gold embossed black leather cover, matt-finished paper with gilt edging, three marker ribbons and two A2 sized poster maps of the Calixis Sector, this highly desirable tome is only available direct from Black Industries and while stock lasts!

Each book comes with an official numbered certificate, signed by one of the two hundred Inquisitors of the Ordos Calixis - making each one totally unique.

Available to advance order soon.

PLEASE NOTE: Mock-up images, not final product.

Deluxe Hardback : UK £65.00 : January 2008 : 400pp : ISBN 978-1-84416-496-7

I'll gladly pay the UK £65.00 if someone could secure me a copy. (I don't have a "real" cc so I can't buy stuff from BL directly.)

Seriously folks...if ANYONE can secure a copy I'll gladly pay for it, even in advance.