Sunday, January 8, 2017

Movie Review: Rogue One--A Star Wars Story

(Image from:
Last week, my wife and I managed to get some time off--even on some of the same days.  On one of these "date days" we caught matinee of Rogue One.

To be honest, I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this latest Star Wars movie since I wasn't all that crazy about The Force Awakens...

(Image from:  Independent) I just realized I never wrote a movie review for The Force Awakens (8.1 stars out of 10 on IMDb), which we saw about this time last year.

Well, since I'm lazy I want to save blog space, this review by Honest Trailers... funnier than anything I could write nails the good, the bad and the ugly about The Force Awakens.

Okay, now back to Rogue One.

Ever wonder how the Death Star plans ended up in Princess Leia's possession?

Well, Rogue One, which fits right into Episode IV A New Hope...

(Image from:  Muvi Blast) the story of the ragtag bunch of misfits who steal the plans, deliver them to the Rebel Alliance and--Spoiler Alert!--pay for it with their lives.

I loved this movie, and consider it one of the best Star Wars films made to date. 

I'm wondering if I'm just being a fanboy by rushing to give the film a 5-star rating.  (It also received 8.1 out of 10 stars on IMDb).  I'll probably have to watch it a few more times to actually see any plot holes.

While I love the Star Wars franchise overall, it's easy to become cynical about it, especially since it falls into the trope of having the main characters doing everything.

Seriously.  Can't the "...galaxy far, far away..." even in the expanded universe, function without Luke, Liea, Han and Chewie?

Rogue One breaks this pattern.  And this is what I love most about the movie.  Swiping the Death Star plans cost the Rebel Alliance dearly.  It's not just red shirts dying on-screen, but the main characters.  All of them.

Even though this was a story about new characters on a one-way mission, there were plenty of appearances by iconic characters, thanks to cool, but sometimes unsettling CGI.

I'm not merely referring to Grand Moff Tarkin or Princess Liea either.  I got the biggest kick out of recognizing some of the rebel fighter pilots.  I didn't see Porkins, but some fans claim they did.

If you've never seen a Star Wars movie (I know of some people who haven't), then you only need to watch the original, Episode IV: A New Hope to fully appreciate the plot.

I use to love reading movie novelizations, because I'd gain deeper insights into the characters, setting and action.  However, haven't read movie-to-book in ages.

I think Rogue One will be worth reading.

Oh, and I'll probably be purchasing any Rogue One related wargame and role playing game materials once they're published.

(Image from:

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

RIP Carrie Fisher

(Image from:  Entertainment Weekly)
Yesterday, when I woke up from my nightshift nap, my wife asked me if I heard about Carrie Fisher.
My wife doesn't follow pop-culture and I hadn't gotten around to checking the day's headlines.  So I thought she was referring to Carrie Fisher's hospital stay over the Christmas Weekend.

When I mentioned this, my wife said:  No, she's dead.

The Seattle Times ran this article:  'Star Wars" Actor Carrie Fisher, known for her acerbic comic flair dies at 60.

I'm usually don't go ga-ga over the handful of celebrities I've met, or weepy when the ones I haven't met pass away.  But I must admit Carrie's passing surprised me.  I thought she pulled through, and compared to the average life-span here in America, she died relatively young.
Of course, like every other hetero-male fan, I'll always remember her this way:

(Image found on:  Rob.Nu)
Where as Chewbacca will remember this tender moment:

(Image from:  Ink Tank)

Rest in Peace Carrie.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Preventing Being Labelled an "Orphan Series"

The other day, I was trolling the internet for tidbits to add to my post about the TV series Castle that my wife and I just finished binge-watching.

While on the site TV Tropes I came across the term orphaned series.  That is, an abandoned storyline, series, etc.

I'm trying not to have Breakout from Bongolaan fall into this category, which webcomics seem highly susceptible to.  Yes, even mine.

I know I haven't posted anything about the webcomic for several months now.  My wife's nephew has been residing with us for nearly a year as he out processes from the Army.  This is relevant because the room I would use to do my photo shoots is his bedroom.  I hope to resume shooting next year, when my nephew-in-law moves out and the Holidays are over.

No, I'm not going to declare this as my New Year's Resolution, since such promises become orphaned in their own way.

But having physical creative space isn't my only issue.  I was planning on posting pages of Breakout from Bongolaan on to Tumblr, which seems to be a more picture/comic-friendly site than Blogger.  The problem is that I've been using the program Comic Life that converts pictures into a bmp file, which is a format Tumblr won't accept.

So I'm looking into using another comic program.

I've also made a tiny, but I think significant change to this blog.  This started out as a Star Wars Legacy Era Campaign journal.  That is, I'd post about any Star Wars games and role-playing sessions my friends and I'd play.  Unfortunately, the gaming group broke up a while ago.

So I thought I'd expand this blog to cover all types of sci-fi gaming, and decided to change the sub-title to:  Ted Henkle's science fiction gaming blog.

If I think of a catchier subtitle I'll change it.  But until inspiration hits me, I'll keep this boring, yet practical one.

In the meantime, I'll troll TV Tropes' orphaned webcomics list to make sure Breakout from Bongolaan isn't on it.

That is, if TV Tropes even knows this exists.

Thank you for your continued interest and patience.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Star Wars Games at Enfilade 2016

A star-fighter "furball" during the First Day's Star Wars Armada game.
Shortly after my last post on this blog--four months ago--I've been busy with another project.

Our regional gaming group, NHMGS, hosts its annual convention, Enfilade!, every Memorial Day Weekend.  This year, I was asked to be the Event Photographer.  To prepare for this task, I bought a new camera, a XXX, and spent a few weeks getting familiar with it.

I spent the entire three days during the convention prowling the game room floor snapping pictures--
1,163 usable photos to be exact.  Of this grand total, I transferred 923 via Dropbox to our group's Event Coordinator and Website Administrator.

The NHMGS website will be updated shortly and will include the massive gallery of the pictures I took.

But as a "sneak peek" for you readers, here are some sample photos of the Star Wars games played during Enfilade 2016.

Scott hosts a Star Wars Armada game on Day 1 
A traffic jam--IN SPACE!
On Day 2, Chris hosts The Battle of Hoth (As It Should Have Been) game using Star Wars X-Wing.

Imperial fighters and shuttles approach the Rebel Ion Cannon and defensive positions.
The Rebel Ion Cannon is from an vintage Battle of Hoth Playset made by Kenner.
On the last day, Scott hosts a "youngling-friendly" Star Wars Armada game.
Scott instructing a couple of padawans.
The Rebel Fleet closes with their Imperial opponents.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Two New Tools of the Trade

(Image from

Back in February, I announced on my Stern Rake Studio blog that I got a new camera, which I'm still trying to figure out all the functions.

If that wasn't enough, I thought I'd use the funds in my tax return to buy a new laptop.

The influx of funds wasn't the only factor in this decision.

For years I've been using a Toshiba Satellite a305-s6905, which actually got a decent review on CNET--back in 2009.

But it wasn't the age of my laptop that was bothering me.  Starting about a month ago, anytime I logged on to the internet, I'd get a message along my toolbar notifying me that Google Chrome won't be supporting Windows Vista.

So I was presented with choice to either upgrade my laptop to Windows 10, or buy a new laptop.  (Later I found out my old Satellite doesn't seem compatible with Windows 10).

When I began my search for the best laptop for my needs,  (or as any computer illiterate like me could fully fathom what I need), I discovered that every laptop, along with just about every other techno-gadget on the market, were better than my current model.

Based on the performance statistics--and the price discount offered--I decided to buy an HP Pavilion Flagship with a 15.6" screen.  I was thinking about buying the version with a 17.3" screen, but I liked the handiness of the 15.6" screen my Satellite has and thought the larger one would be too big.

My New Tool of the Trade was hand-delivered to me two days after Easter.  Seriously.  The UPS guy arrived just as I was heading to the gym that afternoon.

Since then I've been transferring files and learning the ins & outs (mostly outs) of my Flagship.  While I'm certainly experiencing "growing pains," I'm happy with my purchase because even if I don't learn everything there is to know about my Flagship, I can at least tell it's a better model than my Satellite.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Webcomic Chapter 15 Posted

Chapter 15 (pages 438-479) of Breakout from Bongolaan is now available.

For this chapter's theme song I chose Love & Loss, by Two Steps from Hell.

I thought this song, which I found rather quickly, fit the "big reveal" made my one of the characters in this story.

The way I have the rest of the story plotted-out, there's eight chapters left.  However, it seems like nearly all my previous chapters end up multiplying into two or three scenes.  So for now, let's just say there's eight more plot-points to go.

I'm still in the process of learning about my new Nikon CoolPix P530 camera.  I hope to start using it by the time I start taking pictures for Chapter 16.

In the meantime, I  hope you enjoy the latest chapter.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Webcomic Chapter 14 Posted

Chapter 14 (pages 424-437) of Breakout from Bongolaan is now available.

For this chapter's Theme Song, I chose Prepare for the End uploaded by xDarkLegacyx2. I think this tune fits the epic, space opera aspect of Star Wars, while it's steady--almost monotonous--beat, implies impending danger.

I'm now in the process of re-writing Chapter 15, which is giving me some trouble narrative pacing-wise.  Once I'm satisfied this chapter is good enough to post, then it's "back to the drawing board" for the Chapters 16 onwards.  That is, I'll need to snap a batch of new photos.

In the meantime, I've been looking at some webcomic hosting sites to determine which one I'd like to join in order to make a "second home" for Breakout from Bongolaan.

Until then, I hope you enjoy this latest chapter.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Webcomic Chapter 13 Posted

Chapter 13 (pages 383--423) of  Breakout from Bongolaan is now available.

Since I wrote Chapters 12--14 in one fell-swoop, which took me several months to complete, the "only" thing I had to do was some editing on Chapter 13.

For this chapter's theme song, I chose two pieces of music.

Since our heroes are still dealing with the aftermath of the initial attack in a planetary coup, I thought the Coruscant Thug Boss Fight Music from the game Jedi Power Battles, Episode I, fit the overall mood.

And for the last few pages, I felt the "traditional" Imperial March was appropriate for the chapter's finale.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Webcomic Chapter 12 Posted

Chapter 12 (pages 364--382) of Breakout from Bongolaan is now available.

The pace at where I work didn't slow down any since my last chapter posting.

Not only that, but Chapter 12 was originally much longer than it currently is.  As the page length lengthened, I ended up dividing the narrative into more chapters as I found more appropriate stopping points.  So this part of the story grew from Chapter 12 and 13, to Chapter 12--14, and finally to Chapter 12-15.

By the time I reached this point, I decided to quit writing additional material and work on editing and revising.

By the time I was satisfied with most of my recent work, I did some final tweaking of Chapter 12.

My "cunning plan" is to do the similar tweaks to Chapters 13 and 14 within the next couple weeks and then post them.

Which brings me to Chapter 15.  I'm not currently happy with it.  I feel this portion will require some major re-writing, but I'll wait until Chapter 14 is posted before I even start.

In my last webcomic update, I said I'd launch a new format for Breakout from Bongolaan by 4 January 2016.

Well, I'm afraid I have to postpone the launch date.  With the little time I've had to spare, I devoted it all to getting these chapters written.  I'm hoping the delay won't be more than a month.  I appreciate your patience.

For this chapter's theme song, I chose Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

You might think this is an odd choice for a chapter's mood music, especially since Star Wars is and epic  space opera, not a space western, like Firefly.

But I think the song fits for a few reasons.  First, in this chapter Callithea expresses her desire to return to her home planet.  This segways into a hint of what society on Callithea's home world, Tarsus, is like.  Finally, our heroes are essentially planning for a "road trip--IN SPACE," and depending on what list you read, Home ranks anywhere from #13 in Paste Magazine to #1 on BuzzFeed.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Force Has Awoken!

(Image from:  Star Theatrical Poster)

By now, thousands of fans have probably seen midnight showings of Star Wars:  The Force Awakens.

From initial accounts at the premiers in Hollywood and London, audience response has been enthusiastic.

It will be about a month before I see it due to my wife's and my own work schedule.  But at least we have reserved seats in a deluxe theater!

In the meantime, I submitted my picture of my Tantive IV fighting a couple of TIE fighters to the Seattle Times.  It was included in the gallery of an article asking Star Wars superfan? Share pictures of your favorite collectibles.

(Image:  From my Tantive IV product review, and Picture #3 in the article's gallery)

For those who'll see the movie before I do:  I hope the movie and the big-screen experience was everything you hoped it to be.