Monday, July 16, 2012

XVIII: Deja Vu, Illumination!

During the first weekend of July, I was busy attending Paizocon. We did a tiny bit of garage sailing on Sunday after the convention, but Sundays are never really very good for it. We picked up so little that I just decided to roll it all into the post for the next week. And as it turns out, this Saturday was really good. So lets get to it!

As always, I really enjoy finding DVDs at yard sales. Largely because I don't put the kind of value on movies which the movie industry does. When I own a DVD, it provides me with 1-2 hours of entertainment, maybe once every few years when I decide to re-watch it. Some people seem to think that is worth $20-35 per movie. But with that same amount of money, I could buy an indie video game, get 20-30 hours of enjoyment out of it right now, AND have the satisfaction of directly supporting a small game developer.

For me, most DVDs are worth $1-$3. That's the amount of pleasure I get out of them. And that's the amount I pay for them.

Here we have "Warlock," which is a fun little suspense/fantasy film from the 80s which I first encountered while doing research for another project. I haven't actually seen Face/Off or Chicago, but I've heard a lot of good things about both of them so I look forward to giving them a watch. I purchased Sideways entirely on the recommendation of the Nostalgia Critic. Vincent Price is always amazing (though I now own three copies of The Last Man on Earth) and Resident Evil: Extinction is a guilty pleasure which...I already own. Oops.

I was particularly happy to find a copy of the first season of Castle--still in the wrap! It's not uncommon to find seasons of TV shows, but most often they're in pretty terrible shape and not worth buying. I can't count the number of Friends DVDs I've seen over the years, always sold one or two at a time for some reason. (Why do these people own *just* season four of Friends?)

We picked up a few supplies for terrain building over the last two weekends. The saw should be handy for cutting the wood bases which are used for the pieces. The timer will be nice because having a second one will allow us to cook, and time drying plaster at the same time. And the vice can be used to hold two flat surfaces together while glue dries--very useful when attempting to make stepped hills.

As a bonus, we also found someone giving a bunch of these away for free:


Sand is really useful for this terrain stuff, but it's funny how difficult sand is to find once you need it. Without any beaches nearby, I was kind of lost for what to do, short of buying sand somewhere, which seemed a little silly to me. I realize there are times when you need to buy sand for landscaping purposes or something, but I wasn't going to shell out money for the tiny amount of sand we needed.

Speaking of, I've mentioned our terrain building a shit-ton on this site. So here's a little marker of our progress. Morrie's first completed piece:

I must confess, she's proving much more dedicated than I am.

Moving on...

Morrie is often cold living up here in the North West, so we've been on the lookout for extra blankets. Neither of us was too impressed with this threadbare comforter. Not only has it been very well used, but it came with a bunch of pillows and pillow covers, and other stuff we didn't want. Plus it was marked $10. We exchanged a few glances over it, but ultimately walked away.

Out of nowhere, a middle aged woman appeared and said "You can have it for $7!"

"No, thanks. We don't really need it."

"Hokay, $5 just to get rid of it!"


I have a standing DVD rack, and over the years I've come to despise it. Don't get me wrong: it was a very thoughtful gift, and I'll even grant that it's a very clever space saving idea. But it just has too many drawbacks. I never have anywhere which I would call a 'good' place to put it, so instead it goes in three or four nebulous locations, and I move it around whenever I need to get at something it's covering. I don't really like the look of it, and worst of all, it falls over FAR TOO EASILY I've had to place all of my DVDs back into it many times over the years.

But THESE are different.


There is really nothing special about this dragon. I got it for 25 cents because I thought it would be good for Morrie and I to practice painting miniature figures with. It's roughly to scale, so if we do a good job, I may even end up using it.

Speaking of, here's our first attempt at painting minis:

We kinda need the practice!

During my recent Vacation, I did a semi-thorough cleaning out of my old junk. There's a lot of stuff which I'm very emotionally attached to, which takes up a lot of space and has no function in my life. I'm actually going to be doing a post about some of these things in the near future.

Anyway, one of the things I cleaned out was my old Magazine collection. I really love magazines, and I had a massive tub filled with them. I didn't throw away all of my old magazines, mind you. Star Wars Insider is sacrosanct, and any gaming magazine from my childhood is a cherished treasure--but I felt no real sorrow when parting with more recent gaming magazines. I probably threw out about 100 pounds worth of old magazines.

Theeeen a few days later I come home with a few new ones. But these are different, for serious!

First off, in the upper left is an original strategy guide for Final Fantasy VI, back when it was still being published as Final Fantasy III (the numerology of that series is confusing). This is, in my most humble opinion, the strongest entry in that series of games. And while Final Fantasy VII has a strong emotional hold on me, FFVI is also my favorite.

The other three are Nintendo Power magazines from the 90s, which as I mentioned above, are cherished treasures for me. I didn't find out until I got home that these three issues were there because they contain a 3-part series on Final Fantasy VI!

Also funny: I got this at a garage sale which I've been visiting for 3 years straight at this point. There's a lot of pictures of the place in V: Critical Load Time. I don't think we actually bought anything from her last year, but I assure you were there.

This is a duck clock. Morrie immediately regretted the $1 she spent on it. I will say no more on the matter.

These are two of the coolest books I've ever found at a yard sale. On the left is a book of medieval history. I don't know why we don't learn medieval history in school. What's so cool about the American Revolution that we need to spend our entire primary education on it?

On the right is Dante's Comedia. The Inferno is one of my favorite pieces of classical literature, but I never had an opportunity to read Purgatorio or Paradiso. And now I do!

Aside from being lights, these two items have nothing to do with one another. But the orange one is boring and has no story: lights which can be stored in a small space, but moved around easily, are very useful.

The other light has a bit of a cooler story. Because I found one EXACTLY like it last year. You can see for yourself in VIII: Some Kind of Bizarre Quirky Name, and it was one of the best purchases I ever made. Not only did I get to feel manly for a few minutes when I installed a switch on the cord for the light (as is, they're always on when you have them plugged in) but it's probably the light I use the most in my home. It graces my work space:

^That's where I'm sitting right now. It's pretty much the coolest desk ever.

Any day where I find NES games is a good one. Neither of these have tremendous nostalgic value for me, but Galaga is a very well remembered game, and who doesn't love Pac Man? The sidescrolling Castlevania games are always good as well.

I know next to nothing about Escape from Monkey Island save: It's an adventure game, published by LucasArts, and everybody in the world loves it. That's reason enough for me.

These last three all come from the same place. The older couple running it were very kind, and everything they had was in astounding condition. This copy of backgammon, for example, not only has all of the pieces. It has extra pieces! And it's built into a briefcase, which just looks slick. (Are all backgammon boards built into breifcases? I dunno, I've never actually played it.)

Same with Go, really. I'm familiar with it, but never played it. To be frank, I wasn't intending to buy either one of these. But the old woman was so friendly and chatty, and I do like board games, so I gave in and made the purchase. I'm glad I did.

Lastly, and also from that same sale:

A motherfucking crystal ball, bitch.

This thing is hardcore. You could kill someone with this, and it wouldn't be hard. It's that heavy.

I honestly don't even know what I'm going to do with it. But as someone who spends so much of their time working in Fantasy worlds, it is fun to actually handle the kind of MacGuffins which exist in those worlds.

Funny story: I was holding it in my hands for a good few minutes when suddenly I felt an extreme burning sensation. The ball was focusing sunlight on my hand, and I didn't notice it until it hurt like hell.

This was a damned good week.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Garage Sailing XVII: Of Drunken Wizards and Tiny Dragons

Garage Sailing was good to me today. Morrie and I ventured off in a new direction, and enjoyed some very pleasant scenery. I spend so much time in town that I sometimes forget that much of Washington is beautiful woodlands. We wandered around so much, actually, that we got completely lost and didn't care. I spent maybe 4 to 5 hours today with no idea of how to get home, and I just kept driving around at random. In the end it wasn't even that hard to find a road I recognized and follow it home. So meh.

Aside from having a generally pleasant time together, we both found some really amazing treasures. And one of the sales we visited may have been the second best sale I've been to in three years of doing this.

But enough of that, lets get to it:

As always, there is boring stuff. We have a lot of Pasta, so Morrie thought the colander might be useful if we can fit it inside one of our larger pots. Also, one of the pots Morrie brought with her when she moved in is on its last leg and will probably need to be thrown out soon. I've been keeping an eye out for a replacement, and this copper-bottom pot is really nice.

Morrie likes to grow things, and she likes these pots. Growing stuff in our apartment hasn't worked out well in the past, since we get no real sunlight in here. But she might be planning to make another attempt at it, I'm not sure. Which might be why she later picked up these:

A box set of books from the '70s about growing plants in your home. In particular I think she's interested in "Growing Plants Under Light" and "House Plants To Grow If You Have No Sun." She's primarily interested in seeing if we can grow any food here, so hopefully there are some edible plants that will work with these techniques.

Almost every Garage Sale has a few DVDs out, and most weeks I come back with one or maybe two. Unfortunately, I run into two problems when buying DVDs: many people have tastes which do not even slightly parallel my own, and many people price DVDs at $3-$5 each. That's not a bad price, but it is a prohibitive price. I'm not going to spend $30 on a handful of DVDs.

Today, though, we found a place that wanted only a single dollar per DVD, and had a number of movies I was interested in.

Taxi driver is a landmark film which I've been wanting to see for years now. Jurassic Park can be a bit campy, but it's still a mid-'90s classic, and one I've really wanted to see again. The Brotherhood of the Wolf comes highly recommended from my uncle, and the Pianist comes highly recommended from just about everyone.

All three Spiderman films were available there, but I already picked up the 2nd movie two years ago. So these will round out that trilogy.

This set of historical texts was hidden amongst a bunch of college textbooks. They're all filled with artwork and photographs of artifacts from the cultures they detail. The writing is very compelling from what I've been able to read so far, and I'm excited to expand my knowledge a bit on each of these cultures.

This novel was from the same pile I got the above history books from. It just looks fascinating to me. As best I can tell, it is a fantasy novel about three princesses, written by three women. Each of the three is on a separate quest to save their kingdoms.

Aside from being a cool concept, I'm drawn to the book because it stands alone. Most fantasy books I find at garage sales are part of a series. A series which is almost never sold in its entirety. There came a point a few years ago when I realized I had a lot of second hand fantasy books, and most of them were in the middle of a series which I didn't own the rest of.

That's annoying.

Edit: God damnit. There are four sequels to Black Trillium. >.>

Boots and a bag! These are things Morrie needed for working and for school. It's always nice to find the necessities on the cheap at garage sales.

Finding this was an absolute shock to me. I was floored. I almost never find anything this specific to my interests. I mean, I know that I'm not exactly the only Final Fantasy fan out there. But there are not many fans who go so far as to buy the CDs.

Now, by the time I got my hands on Final Fantasy IX, I was past the point where I could easily sink weeks into an RPG. I never did finish the game, though I did get pretty far in it. But even if I had never played it at all, Nobuo Uematsu's music is unmatched. The man knows how to write compelling music, and this CD is a special arrangement which he ostensibly set up himself!

Everything else today all came from the same sale--the really great one I mentioned earlier. As I mentioned both to Morrie and to the guy running the sale, it seems as though his interests were adjacent to my own. It didn't seem like we were quite on the same wavelength, but there was a bit of overlap.

To be frank, I'm thankful we didn't have more in common. I spent $25 at that sale. And if all the cool stuff he was selling had been more relevant to my interests, I probably would have spent $100 or more.

The above is a really nice metal storage space for documents. Being a half-assed writer, I've got a lot of notes, binders, folders, and other such things cluttering up my work space. I did pick up something like this at an office supply store awhile ago, but it's cheap plastic junk. This is much nicer.

These are a little goofy, but I actually got them free because I was buying a bunch of expensive stuff. At the bottom of the picture is my new deck of Star Trek playing cards. I've never even watched The Original Series, it's far too campy in my opinion. But Star Trek playing cards are cooler than the playing cards you pick up at a grocery store.

Above them is a little stack of art cards. These are just small reproductions of art done by a guy named Christos Achilleos. There's some really cool art in here, which I tried to display in the photograph. Not sure how well that worked, though.

As mentioned last year, I think Steins are awesome. I'm not a fan of decorative, collectible steins, though. I prefer functional steins, which are appropriately sized to actually use.

This was clearly intended to be a display piece. The staff held by the pewter wizard isn't very strong and bends quite easily. I still intend to drink soda out of it during D&D games though. Because that's how I roll.

So, surely everybody knows I'm a tabletop RPG nerd. It's kinda my schtick. Well, in order to help visualize battles, tabletop players traditionally use miniatures made of lead or pewter. I've never been a huge fan of them, because I feel they limit the imagination potential of the game. None the less, they can be really cool looking, and if handled correctly, can greatly enhance the gameplay experience.

This unassembled dragon miniature is almost 30 years old. Aside from missing its horns, it appears to be entirely complete. Plus it comes with a topless lady. The box art lies. The figurine has nipples.

Now I just need an excuse to make my players face a black dragon.

While I wouldn't call this my favorite find of the day, it is certainly the most unexpectedly valuable. Being a huge Star Wars fan, I merely thought the idea of a nice weighty statue depicting a scene from my favorite of the films would be fun. Personally I think Jabba the Hutt is a little over represented in Star Wars merchandise (probably because of Slave Leia), but none the less it was cool.

After spending $10 on it, I noticed that it had a certificate of authenticity attached to it. I also noticed that it was a numbered piece from a collection of 5000. And, as it turns out, sells fro about $100 online.

I'm not going to sell it. I wouldn't have paid $100 for it, but I like it all the same. I just count myself lucky to have picked up something cool for a very reasonable price.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Garage Sailing XVI: I Ought to find a Larger Sheet

On Friday I needed to do just a little work on my car while at an auto part store. Nothing major, but for safety reasons I needed to disconnect my car's battery. I absent mindedly returned the tools I was borrowing before I reconnected the battery. But the place is only about 3 minutes from my home, so since the work was done I figured I'd just hand-tighten the battery connection, and use my own tools when I got home.

Which I promptly forgot to do.

So on Saturday morning, when I was driving around garage sailing, guess whose car suddenly died in the middle of a busy street? Yeah, that was fun. Fortunately a nice young fellow offered to help me push my car to the side of the road, where I again hand-tightened the battery connection. It was enough for me to limp to my parent's place, where I borrowed a wrench.

A fun start to the day.

I guess Morrie recently broke a picture frame at work. Nothing major, but these frames cost next to nothing. Ten cents for the two small ones, twenty five for the two larger ones. Not our most exciting find of the day.

Last week, Morrie and I got some sticks and some brushes for our new hobby, terrain building. In the week between, we also managed to get into a terrain building seminar which is being hosted at a convention we'll be attending. And while garage sailing today, we also found a few additional tools. The knives will be useful in cutting and texturing the Styrofoam which is used for most of the large objects. The glue gun will have numerous uses. Though--and you'd be surprised how often this happens--we ended up finding 4 better glue guns throughout the day. We didn't buy them, since we already had one, but goddamn it.

Morrie and I both have a bit of the comic book nerd in us. Neither of us are really hardcore, but I've been following Wonder Woman for a few years now, and she reads a lot of Batman.

This lady had a HUGE box of comics for a dollar each. The box was almost entirely made up of Catwoman comics, and something called 'cyberforce' or some nonsense. Neither of those interested me, but I did find these two Batman comics. The center comic is from an iconic Batman storyline actual, where Batman is defeated by Bane. The comic on the left is actually a Dungeons and Dragons comic book put out by Marvel. I had never heard of this before, but it was actually not a bad read. At least compared to other comics of that era. I wouldn't mind learning more about it and maybe finding the other comics in that series.

Nothing like finding hardbound classics for 75 cents apiece. And nothing beats Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle's style remains accessible despite the fact that his world has become so far removed from ours.

I actually hate reading Jules Verne, and 'A Journey to the Center of the Earth' is particularly bad. But I respect it as the progenitor of modern Science Fiction. It's nice to have a copy for reference if nothing else, and I really ought to give reading it another shot.

Last year Morrie was excited to find a leaf press kit, which she has used pretty frequently. This is a much higher quality leaf/flower press kit, with a larger surface area. The bolts will provide a lot more pressure than the Velcro straps did as well, so this was a great find for her at $4.

This is just some random junk, really. Top left is a model of Squidward's house (from Spongebob Squarepants) which is meant to be used in a fish tank. Morrie really enjoys that cartoon, and there are some fish at work. The thing cost 50 cents, so meh.

Top right is another Beanie baby that Morrie had as a kid. She's been slowly collecting the ones she remembers playing with from her childhood whenever we find one.

Bottom left is a water skin. Because Morrie likes to go hiking and whatnot, and these things are cool.

Bottom right is about 20ft of Cat5 cable, which saves me a trip to the store, because I needed that. Plus I got it for about a dollar.

I've got a thing for ancient greek art, so I was pretty happy to find this knock off depiction of bull leaping. I know very little about this particular part of Greek culture, or this painting in particular. None the less, I really enjoy the style, and the Bull's erect, square dick makes me giggle.

I will need to research the origins of this piece further.

Scrabble! Not just Scrabble, but SUPER Scrabble!

As mentioned before, I love board games. And as evidenced by the whole 'writer' thing, I also enjoy words. So Scrabble is a game I really enjoy, even if it's not a game I'm particularly good at.

This edition of scrabble comes with a lot more letters, a much larger board, and is in brand-new condition. Now I just need to find somebody else who wants to sit around for an hour trying to come up with the longest words possible.

Okay, this is kinda cheating. I didn't get these at a garage sale. However, we stopped to go to the Bathroom at a place that rents videos. They were selling old videos for "but one, get two free," which is a pretty great deal. Even if the one I had to pay for cost $10.

The Immortals was supposed to be terrible, but I was impressed by the trailer when I saw it a year ago, and I want to give it a look see for myself. Conan similarly received mediocre reviews, but I enjoyed the original Schwarzenegger film, so again I'd like to give it a try. I've never heard of 'An Education,' but judging it by its cover, it's probably a film of higher quality than the other two. It says it won awards and shit!

And that's everything we got this week. I'm particularly excited for the bull jumping print, and the scrabble game. Those are just cool.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Garage Sailing XV: Year of the Third, And Fuckit, the Wacky Titles Were Awesome

It's really strange writing a seasonal blog. It's out of my life for most of the year, but I keep coming back to it.

Things are a little different for me this year. I have a little more money, a lot less time, and a blog about tabletop role playing games which I update much more frequently. I'm a much more disciplined writer now, so it's doubtful I'll put these posts off for any reason. However, given how much more I'm writing (and the fact that I now have a regular gaming group) I'll probably be visiting sales somewhat less frequently.

But enough of this nonsense, lets get to the pictures and stories. Today was a good haul!

In recent months I've become seriously interested in board games. Which isn't to say I've become interested in the kinds of games most people pciture when they think of "board games." Fuck monopoly, that game is a piece of shit.

Most of the games I like are games which people haven't heard of. Games like Hero Quest, Arkham Horror, and Broadside. (That last one I actually got during my first year of garage sailing!) These games aren't simply intended to keep children occupied, or give families with nothing in common something to do together. They generally have a lot more strategy to them, and a lot less random chance.

There are, however, a few common games which I enjoy. Chess and checkers are both obvious examples. Stratego is another good one. There are a massive amount of pieces on the board, with only subtle difference between them. How you position them at the start of the game has a lot of bearing on how the game will play out. And since the pieces' values are kept secret, players who are able to track pieces and notice small details are rewarded.

Plus, I love getting old copies of games. Old box art and piece/board design is always cool. Unfortunately, the blue army is missing 3 out of 40 pieces. The loss can be offset by simply removing those same pieces from the opposing army, but it's still a bit of a pain.

I got a number of great books today. Though, full disclosure: I got some of these from The Good Will. Morrie and I visited it after we finished our sailing for the day, because she was looking for some crafting supplies (which I'll discuss later).

Going left to right, we've got two Goosebumps books. Like everyone else my age, I loved these when I was a kid. They were some of the first books I really became engaged in. As I was graduating from picture books to slightly longer and more advanced books, I was becoming aware that there didn't seem to be any books which I found exciting. Nothing which connected to my interests or involved any real danger. At least, nothing which was available in my school's library. Most books tried to engage me by writing stories about kids 'like me.' What I wanted to read was fantastic tales of adventure, and Goosebumps delivered.

Thinking back on it, R.L. Stine may have saved me from losing my love of reading.

Years ago I turned in all of my Goosebumps books to a bookstore, so I could earn store credit for more books. But recently I've been thinking it would be fun to read some of those books again, and see what it was that engaged me as a kid. I got both of these for a quarter, so I'd say it was a good choice.

By the way, I opened to a random page and read this:
"Nooo!" Nat let out a terrified wail and tried to bury his head in his sister's wet T-shirt.
Aw yeah. This'll be fun to read.

Next is a book written by George Carlin. I like that fellow. He had a big impact on my life.

Following that is a Star Trek novel. I do not normally read Star Trek novels, because they have a much lower standard of quality than Star Wars novels do, and because they are not considered canon. However, I just finished watching Star Trek: Voyager for the first time, and Captain Janeway is fucking awesome. So the story of her life might be a fun read.

Far right on the top row is "The Nitpicker's Guide for Next Generation Trekkers." Essentially it's an episode guide which points out continuity problems and whatnot. I've watched through Star Trek: TNG so many times that I thought it would be fun to pull this out next time I do. Might be fun to watch for all the little problems in the episodes. Though I think 2/3rds of the book is just episode synopses. Not worth more than the dollar or so I paid for it.

On the bottom are some random fantasy novels, and an anthology of Ray Bradbury's works. I've never read Bradbury, despite his writing being mostly in genres that I read. I guess he was on my mind due to his recent death, so when I saw his name I grabbed it. Incidentally, that's also how I first encountered George Carlin. Everybody was whining about how sad it was that he died, so I decided to find out who the hell he was.

Remember that bed we got last year? We eventually got mattress and box spring for it, and its quite nice. But do you have any idea how much sheets cost for a bed like that? A single set of sheets costs over $60 god damned dollars! Fuck that noise! I could buy a board game for that much.

This extremely soft comforter was $8. That is a much nicer price.

Remember above when I said Morrie was looking for some crafting stuff? Well, this is the stuff she found while we were out. (Incidentally, none of it was from the Good Will.)

During a recent visit to a gaming store, Morrie encountered wargaming landscapes for the first time. If you're not familiar, it's a little something like this:

That's, obviously, a pretty extreme example. But you get the idea: miniature landscapes. There are numerous games which make use of these things. Generally the idea is that all the players have miniature armies, and battle each other using a set of rules put forth in a book.

She became quite fascinated with the idea, and determined to start making some landscapes of her own. This is great, because making landscapes is actually something I've always wanted to do as well. Neither of us is particularly invested in how the landscapes are used. At present we're thinking of using them for our Pathfinder games (a role playing game similar to Dungeons and Dragons), but if we really start to get into it I'll probably start looking into miniature wargames. Those have always seemed cool to me.

All we found today was some brushes, some construction sticks, a triangle, and some paints. Nothing too exciting, but anything we can get cheaply is a bonus! This is a pretty expensive hobby.

Last, we've got some boring-ish stuff. Some book-ends, and a box full of binders. The binders are great for me, because I produce a lot of notes. I also print out old books sometimes. Mostly stuff which has been out of print for 30 years or so. It's really helpful to have a cover to keep them safe, rather than just clipping everything together.

Funny story: the guy who sold me the binders initially balked at my offer of $2 for the whole box. He said he was expecting to sell them for $1 per binder. I told him I could go as high as $4, and he went accepted it. But the whole time he had this attitude like I was being ludicrous, and ripping him off.

I kinda wanted to remind him that he's allowed to turn my offer down. But it's probably bad form to give advice to your negotiating opponent.

Next sale we went to had a binder for 15 cents. lol