The Ironic Universe


The universe is heavily into irony. At least that is what I am left to conclude after today’s shopping find.

Let’s step back a bit and get some historical perspective. I like video games, but I am not a huge gamer. I like simpler games. I like games I can complete. I am always looking for games from my childhood, or at least late teens. Things like Galaga, Scramble, Amidar, berzerk….stuff like that. Yes, I know, I can play them on am emulator (though I haven’t found Scramble or Moon Unit–if you know a site, please send me a link).

One game that I loved playing at the arcade (more often than not this tended to be the airport or other equally inconvenient and expensive places to play) was Gunblade. I enjoyed this game probably because I loved how the bullets hit everything when I missed the actual targets. The road got chewed up. The window shattered. Trucks blew up. It was all cool.

gunblade 3The only platform I could find the game for was the Wii. I didn’t have a Wii, but I actually thought about buying one, just for this game (which only lasts about 15 minutes–so I have been told). I finally was given a the system by someone who didn’t need it, and I went to Amazon and purchased the game. I think it cost me around 20 bucks to get this game. I was okay with the price because I never found it in the stores, and I never saw it in a discount bin.

Today, while at the grocery store, I came across a bin of games. Wouldn’t you know it, there it was in a two pack for 20 bucks. Since, I wasn’t really into the other game, it didn’t frustrate me all that much. Of course that was until I saw that the games were 75% off the sticker price. Yes, that’s right. Five bucks!

gunblade4Thank you universe for your irony. I hope you enjoy your laugh.

For my part, I did pick up some other games for a that 5 dollar price, and one for even less. I should be happy for my bargain, but part of me doesn’t enjoy the universe laughing at me.

I Finally Found It

Despite being into model trains, I really don’t know a whole lot about them.  I have learned a lot in while pursuing this hobby, but I am nothing like the people I meet at the hobby shop.  These people are way into the hobby.  They quote rail lines and dish out engine numbers like I could recite comic book characters.  They have a name for every part of every car.  It amazes and astounds me.  Granted, sometimes it makes me feel rather uninformed.  It also makes me feel that I just don’t take this hobby as serious as other people.  I have to admit, that doesn’t really bother me.

Nonetheless, I do want to continue to educate myself.  I participate in online forums, search the web and do a lot of reading.  If you have seen my other post, you will know that I have amassed a library of interesting books.  Here is a link to that post.

Unfortunately, one book has eluded me.  I considered it my white whale (thanks Melville).  Since I started this hobby, I have wanted to read The Model Railroaders Guide to Freight Cars.  The problem was that the book was no longer in print and the prices people were asking for existing copies was rather astronomical.  We’re talking over $300 in some cases.  I wanted to read it….but not at that price.

I have scoured hobby shops, hoping that a stray copy was lurking in an overlooked bin.  I have gone to flea markets, train shows, and even hoped that some unlucky hobbyist’s wife or husband had decided to put their copy into a garage sale.  I have gone so far as to contact the publisher to see if they had a copy or if they ever planned to reprint the book.  They didn’t even bother to respond–Thanks Kalmbach.  I have had the book on my favourites list at Amazon for quite a number of years.

Luckily, I continuously check my lists, because someone decided to part with theirs for a price I deemed reasonable (profitable for sure, but nonetheless reasonable).  It arrived yesterday and I couldn’t be happier.  This seller will no doubt get a five star rating from me.

I haven’t started reading it yet, but after leafing through it, I feel quite happy with my purchase.  I know, most of this information (if not all) is available online, but I like books.  I like sitting on my deck (when it isn’t bitterly cold outside or snowing) and reading.  There is just something so satisfying about the tactile experience. If I feel the need, perhaps I will do a review of the book.

All of  this got me thinking….is there anything out there that you consider your white whale?  Is there something you are on the lookout for?  I imagine it could be an original Star Wars figure still in the package, or Wayne Gretzky’s Rookie card, or ….. who knows.  I would love to hear what you are looking for.

As for me, next on my list is either a 1:12 Mustang convertible model kit, a book on the history of the Starlost, a collection of Park tools for my bicycle, or…… I had better stop before I say too much.

A New Hobby Called Darts

So it is a new year, and for the Jack of all Hobbies that can only mean one thing… (actually it means many things involving resolutions, but I won’t bore you with those)….it is time for a new hobby.

A new hobby you shake your heads ponderously.  Of course, I answer.  I am the jack of all hobbies because I pick up and put down hobbies with ease.  This time the hobby is darts.

It all started innocently enough.  I came across a game of darts on a sports channel (I guess there was no poker to be shown) and was instantly mesmerized by it.  I am not sure if it is the dramatic score calling, the hot women accompanying the often overweight and less than handsome dart players, or just the overall skill that allows them to place those darts so accurately.  Despite what you might think, it is probably the last one.

Whenever the mood for a new hobby hits me, I turn to the internet.  The amazing tool that allows me to share with you my stream of consciousness ramblings allows me to fulfill most of my hobby dreams as well.  I have searched the price of darts and a dartboard as well as several other accessories that I had no idea existed.

The real clincher was the local dart league.  I discovered a weekly league playing at the Legion.  A quick email elicited an invitation.  I showed up and the head of the league unhesitatingly loaned me his rather expensive set of darts to practice with.  He spent time giving me pointers (as did several other people) and then invited me to play in that evenings matches.  I would certainly call that hospitality–and it didn’t hurt that the prices for beer at the Legion were incredibly fair.

When asked what kind of darts I should purchase, the same people said they would supply me with darts for the next couple of weeks so I could try different ones out before I spent my money.  Can’t really beat that for an invitation can you?

So now I’ve got darts on my mind, several new websites in my favourites, and several new items on my Amazon wish list.  This all sounds like it is moving in a positive direction.  All that remains is for me to make it out to dart night again.

Nanoblocks to the Rescue

What do you do when you aren’t making any hobby progress?  Most people would preach patience.  That would be fantastic, if I had any.  When I get stuck, I tend to switch my focus.  That is how I became jack of all hobbies, after all.  I don’t box things up and walk away (though that might be the wiser thing to do) but just sort of amble onto other things.  Presently, I have so many projects on the go that it shouldn’t have been a problem.  Unfortunately, I really wasn’t feeling inspired.

Ziploc package of nanoblocks
Nanoblocks to the rescue.

I decided to poke around Toys R Us (if there is a way to make that R like they do at the store on this computer, I don’t know what it is) in search of inspiration.  I probably should have gone to a hobby shop, but the toy store was much easier–it’s in the same building I take the subway home from work in.

I came across some fantastic Lego train sets that I had not seen before.  I was painfully tempted to buy them, but I have an N scale train that needs building, and working on a Lego train set would be like having an affair.  I should remain faithful (at least for now).
When you open the package

While browsing I came across some Nanoblocks.  I love Nanoblocks, but had no idea they were now being sold at Toys R Us.  I had to go to Scholar’s choice, or Amazon to get them before.  They didn’t have too many sets left, but I managed to find a couple of projects for me.
For those of you who don’t know (and haven’t ready my previous posts on the subject) Nanoblocks are a locking brick toy from Japan that is similar to Lego, but much smaller (I guess Japan has a reputation for miniaturizing things, don’t they).  They have quite a few architectural sets, animal sets. and all purpose sets.  They aren’t cheap, but they won’t break the bank.  They are a little challenging for small children (and they are certainly a choking hazard for little ones) those they require nimble fingers.  They usually turn out quite well.

Everything sorted out and ready to go
This morning, after my morning coffee, and before I have to rake the leaves, I tackled the drum set.  This was the first time I purchased a set that didn’t come in a box.  This one came packaged in a zip lock bag.  It wasn’t too difficult, but my fingers are a little large, and not particularly nimble.  I needed tweezers, and some restraint.  I only dropped the pieces onto the carpet 10 or 11 times.  Fortunately, I was able to find them before frustration set in. 

the remaining pieces
I managed to put it together in the length of time it took me to listen to Rod Stewart’s Every Picture Tells A Story. It turned out quite well, and I have a bunch of parts leftover for some future project or some abstract art if I can’t figure out what to do with them.  And to answer your questions, before you ask them, the leftover parts were intended–There are always leftover parts.

I have included a few extra pictures, so that you can get a better idea of what comes in the package and what you have left at the end.