Toren’s Birthday Original Art Sale!

Offering these at the $52 sale prices from June 1 to June 28

I’m 52 this June and to celebrate I’m offering all of these original D&D and other RPG pencil/ink drawings for only $52* each! I’ll be posting new pieces weekly.

*(USD, unless you’re in Vancouver and can pick up, then $52 CAD)

CONTACT ME at :

You can see more D&D art going all the way back to AD&D/2nd edition at https://torenatkinson.com/dungeons-and-dragons-original-art/ and I’ll be giving discounts on offsale stuff too if you buy two or more pieces!

From BONDS OF MAGIC (Malhavoc Press)

From MINDSCAPES: BEASTS OF THE ID (Malhavoc Press)

From MONSTERS OF THE MIND (Green Ronin)

From CAVALIER HANDBOOK (Green Ronin)

From Temple Quarter (Game Mechanics/Green Ronin)

From Advanced Players Manual (Green Ronin)

From Advanced Bestiary (Green Ronin 2004)

From Traps & Treachery (Fantasy Flight 2002)

From Minions (Chaosium, Call of Cthulhu)

From Monte Cook Presents: Year’s Best d20 (Malhavoc Press)

From Wrath and Rage: A Guidebook to Orcs, published by Green Ronin

From Spaceship Zero: The Roleplaying Game (2001 Green Ronin)

From Liber Bestarius (Eden Studios 2003)

From Egyptian Adventures: Hamunaptra (3rd edition, Green Ronin Publishing)

From Black Sails Over Freeport (Green Ronin)

From Book of the Righteous (Green Ronin)

From Monte Cook’s Arcana Unearthed D&D 3rd edition pencil on paper

From Bastards & Bloodlines D&D 3rd edition (Green Ronin Publishing) pencil on paper:

From Black Company (Green Ronin Publishing):

Book of Fiends (Green Ronin Publishing)

Aasimar and Tiefling: A Guidebook to the Planetouched (Green Ronin)

Mindshadows (Green Ronin)

Noble’s Handbook (Green Ronin)

From ORK! The Roleplaying Game (Green Ronin)

Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)

In the spirit of Buck Rogers, a pilot is propelled into the far future and learns everyone he knows is dead. This time it’s because of a cosmic radiation storm (enabled by nuclear weapon testing) which causes a plague of ‘mutation’ in humans. The last bastion of a dying civilization is run by an old man with deaf/mute daughter who can read minds. Most humans are deaf/mute – it’s the first stage of mutation – and also sterile, except the daughter. The boss’ plan is to mate his daughter with the pilot to repopulate the species (not sure that’s how biology works). There’s also three other ‘scapes’ who escaped the plague (who are not in the repopulation program for some reason) who have the ire of the security chief while they set the pilot up with their own plan to undo the apocalypse.

Despite the fact the film is a hodgepodge of established sci-fi tropes, it was moderately interesting. I can imagine the producers saying “if we make most of the characters mute, we can save on dialogue and acting costs!” Many elements (sound effects, architecture) are recognizable from Forbidden Planet, with the addition of spiffy triangular wipes. When the mutants escape their confinement the scene is surprisingly visceral (for a completely bloodless sequence). The whole affair would be shorter if they had cut out all the unnecessary walking and driving scenes.

Tropes: ladies are catty to each other; future women wear skirts and high heels; exposition with a blackboard; double & triple crossing, sexy lady goes for a swim.

Toren’s rating: 5/10

Now back to Toren’s Post-Apocalyptic Movie Guide

Overdue Who Review: The Sun Makers

Season 15, 1977, 4 episodes.

An evil corporation on Pluto has a stranglehold on the economy and freedoms of mankind. But The Doctor, Leela and K-9 foment rebellion! Surprise, the creep in charge is an alien!

This is a less gonzo episode than the past few and that’s welcome. It’s perfectly serviceable and apart from K-9’s errant laser beam there’s not much groanworthy special effects. The characters are standard but fun, especially the smug tax collector who reminds me of a greedy pompous Fred Willard who really loves his job. Apparently the writer of this episode really had a grudge with taxation.

You’d think an episode called the Sun Makers would have more focus on the artificial suns around Pluto. But really it seems just a way to justify the typical English grey skies when the characters are outdoors.

Next up: Underworld

Overdue Who Review: Image of the Fendahl

Season 15, 1977, 4 parts.

Some unethical scientists do some kind of sciencey-scan on an unusual, possibly alien, skull. This ‘activates’ the skull which slowly transforms the lady scientist into a gold, gorgon-like woman and summons beasties reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond…I think so that it can manifest into it’s previous gestalt form and do some bad things to the universe. Luckily, old local Mrs. Tyler is a disciple of the ‘old religion’ AKA witchcraft and knows some tricks, and she teams up with our heroes.

This is one that probably could have been done in 2 episodes, especially considering The Doctor and Leela don’t do much until the climax. As usual it’s a mix of occult and space/time gobbledygook. The most mad of the mad doctors has a bad accent but the other doctors are less hammy. Overall, another germ of an interesting concept, left out so long that it becomes stale, and tentatively kicked down the hall a bit.

Next up: The Sun Makers

Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: The Noah

THE NOAH (1975)

A lone soldier, having survived the nuclear war, washes up on a tropical island and slowly goes crazy, inventing imaginary friends and foes.

Compelling acting, dialogue and cinematography, but the third act devolves into a sound design student’s film school project. 

Tropes: biblical themes; castaway’s friend is named Friday; firing a gun into the night and screaming; prostitution is derided

Toren’s rating: 6.5/10

Now back to Toren’s Post-Apocalyptic Movie Guide

Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: Raiders of the Sun (1992)

Raiders of the Sun (1992) Cirio H. Santiago 

The story starts ‘in media res’ as the traitorous splinter group led by the unscrupulous and power hungry Colonel Clay tries to outgun the democratic Alpha League. Sequence after sequence of explosion-laden gun fights are interrupted by a semi coherent narrative of a willful captive woman, and her husband trying to infiltrate her captors gang to free her. Meanwhile the spin-kicking mad max analogue has a montage training a peaceful mountain tribe to defend their mine of gunpowder from the bad guys.

Not much inspired content here. Overacting and video game level fight scenes that drag the film on much longer than need be. Old standby tropes are just as recycled as much of the battle footage is recycled from previous Santiago films.

TROPES: 

Black leather vest with no shirt; spiky cars; sexual assault: sports gear armor; wasting bullets on downed victims; Thunder Dome like duel; Little people; guy laughs evilly after every line; man vs snake bar contest

Toren’s rating: 3/10

Now back to Toren’s Post-Apocalyptic Movie Guide

Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: Teenage Caveman

Teenage Caveman (1958)

A clearly older than teenage caveman is curious about what is across the river in the forbidden zone and returns with tales of dinosaurs and bountiful game. For breaking the ancient unquestioned law of the tribe is sentenced to be ignored by his tribe, but it doesn’t stick and he goes back into the forbidden zone to find the secrets of the God that kills with a touch, invoking the wrath of the law keeping authority figure 

It’s weird to see a young Robert Vaughn. Reuses old footage of fighting reptiles with fins glued to them to look like dinosaurs. Only the older “wise men” have any hint of facial hair. As schlocky as the effects and dialogue is the film has heart and is blessedly short.

Toren’s rating: 4/10

TROPES: rites of manhood; perfect groomed hair in primitive jungle; twist ending: quicksand; naked woman bathing in pond; narration at end explains movie

Now back to Toren’s Post-Apocalyptic Movie Guide

Toren’s Taiwan Trip: Quarantine (the First 2 weeks)

In excruciating detail!

We were surprised how full the plane was, giving that it’s a pandemic, but also it’s around Lunar New Year so maybe we should not have been quite so surprised? All the paperwork leading up to this moment (COVID test, etc) was a nightmare of stress and confusion. I don’t recommend it. It was even worse for my wife, who actually handled it! The flight was 12 hours, not including the usual preflight waiting. I’m not sure about the benefit of waking passengers for 2 meals between (what was for me) midnight and noon, but okay. The movie selection on the plane was not great, the ‘classics’ were essentially old Bond films, so I finally watched Goldfinger. Yes, I had never seen Goldfinger.

IMAGE: I was number 29 to take the test, I was NOT number 29 to get my results 🙁

Once we landed everyone had to take a COVID test. This involved waiting to be called, in order of your passport number. Fun fact: Taiwanese passports start with numbers and Canadian ones start with letters, so I was pretty much dead last out of around 250 people.

IMAGE: A small army of Taiwanese health personnel. Now I truly feel I’m in a pandemic movie

Then we had to go through the rigmarole of getting simcards and setting up apps for the government to check in on us that we were quarantined and doing our regular self-tests. All that business took about 4 hours. Then we got into the quarantine taxi for the long drive from Taoyuan to Kaohsiung, which is were my wife’s fam lives.

IMAGE: Getting hosed down for the quarantine taxi

The highway from the airport is SO HIGH UP! Higher than the buildings and trees! I love the shape of the tree line in Japan and Taiwan, always reminds me of M.A.S.H. even though M*A*S*H was filmed in Malibu Creek State Park in California.

IMAGE: driving driving driving from Taoyuan Aiport to Kaohsiung

It’s over 3 hours drive from Taoyuan airport to Kaohsiung, which I spent with a spider in the back seat. Overall we were in transit roughly 22-23 hours!

IMAGE: my first close encounter with Taiwanese fauna

The quarantine hotel was adequate and our room was on the second floor. Mother-in-Law’s house was just a few blocks away so occasionally relatives would drop off stuff for us – like fruit!

We would spend the next 2 weeks confined to this hotel room. They provided us with enormous amounts of disposable plastic (ugh…) including disposable razors, many toothbrushes and tiny toothpaste bottles, etc, of which we used maybe 10%. Plastic waste is a huge problem in Asian countries, as far as I can tell. We took the leftovers to mom’s place, as I’m sure the hotel would just throw the unused items in the trash.

IMAGE: disposable plastic toiletries

The hotel provided meals (which my wife prepaid for) but they were crap, so we cancelled that service after a few days. Luckily, Uber Eats was there for us. My closest contact with non-wife life was oriental turtledoves that frequented the trees outside our hotel room window.

IMAGE: oriental turtledove eating the crumbs I left for ’em

I spent the next two days drawing, working on Ruin Nation, and watching movies. There were 4 reliable Hollywood movie channels on the hotel TV, and while the audio was in English, the sound on the TV was not great so it was hit and miss (English subtitles were not an option). Old movies on youtube were my go-to.

I also did a lot of sampling of the local cuisine! If you’re on facebook or twitter use the hashtag #torentries to see all the details

The government also left us a care package! A big bag of snacks, masks and bleach. I learned something interesting about Taiwan garbage collection – but more on that later.

“Do You Ever Rate A Movie 9 or 10?”

Yes! Yes I do! And here they are. Keep in mind some of these were rated decades ago and my tastes change:

9/10:

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Roman Holiday (1953)
The Apartment (1960)
Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
Seppuku/Hara Kiri (1962)
The Graduate (1967)
Joi-uchi/Samurai Rebellion (1967)
Harold and Maude (1971)
The Four Musketeers (1974)
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
Life of Brian (1979)
Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986)
The Princess Bride (1987)
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Dead Poets Society (1989)
Army of Darkness (1992)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Leon/The Professional (1994)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Casino (1995)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Fargo (1996)
Schizopolis (1996)
The Impostors (1998)
The Big Kahuna (1999)
Magnolia (1999)
City of Lost Children (1999)
Toy Story 2 (1999)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
American Beauty (1999)
The Cider House Rules (1999)
Spirited Away (2001)
Amelie (2001)
Monsters Inc (2001)
Metropolis/Metoroporisu (2001)
Noqoyqatsi (2002)
Spellbound (2002)
American Splendor (2003)
Lost in Translation (2003)
Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
No Country for Old Men (2007)
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Moon (2009)
Locke (2013)
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Annihilation (2018)
Toy Story 4 (2019)
Soul (2020)

10/10:

Casablanca (1942)
12 Angry Men (1957)
Alien (1979)
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The Thing (1982)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Nausicaa (1984)
Brazil (1985)
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Rushmore (1998)
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Miller’s Crossing (1990)
the Iron Giant (1999)
The Incredibles (2004)
WALL-E (2008)
Roma (2018)