Category Archives: Sci-Fi

Star Trek Adventures: Outpost 51; The Inquiry

The crew returned from the Shakedown Cruise of the U.S.S. Adventure two months ago. Since then, the vessel has been docked at the Denali substation at Outpost 51 pending an inquiry into the loss of Captain Boardman and the subsequent actions taken by Commander Logan, particularly those that caused a diplomatic incident with the Cardassian Union and the Ferengi Alliance. The ship received minor repairs, mostly cosmetic; while the data collected on the mysterious alien vessel was analyzed and processed. The Maquis agents discovered at the mining colony were sent to Security for interrogation.

The Adventure‘s captain’s chair remained vacant while Starfleet conducted an inquiry. Over the next few weeks, all senior staff and department heads were interviewed by a panel of four of Starfleet’s top brass. The panel was chaired by Admiral Alynna Nechayev, and consisted of Fleet Admiral Shanthi, Admiral Owen Paris, and Captain Tomek.

It was not a trial, at least officially; but it sure felt like one. One by one, the officers were all called before the panel to give statements on their role during the maiden voyage of the U.S.S. Adventure. They faced some hard questions, particularly from Admiral Nechayev, who lived up to her reputation for being no-nonsense, tough-as-nails, and–quite frankly–scary.

“So, to be clear,” she said at one point, “On her very first mission, the Adventure lost her Captain and her Chief Science Officer, both of whom seem to have been mentally unbalanced; and managed to provoke and antagonize both the Cardassians and the Ferengi, both of whom are demanding concessions and satisfaction from the Federation. Sounds like a resounding success.”

Despite this, Admiral Nechayev seemed mostly concerned with the Cardassians; what they were doing, why they crossed into the Neutral Zone, and what the crew’s opinion was of the Cardassian officers they interacted with: Legate Jabrel and Gul Drazel. Fleet Admiral Shanthi and Admiral Paris questioned Commander Logan’s decisions and the decisions of Captain Boardman, up to and including his rash decision to abandon ship on a seemingly suicidal mission. They asked if there was any warning of Boardman’s tenuous mindset beforehand; any indication that he should have been relieved of duty by his First Officer ( Commander Logan) or by the Chief Medical Officer. They also asked about Chief Science Officer Shazak Fulexian; wondering aloud how anyone so unstable could be tapped to lead the science department on a Federation starship.

Throughout the proceedings, Captain Tomek said very little. In fact, he seemed to accept the official version of events presented at face value.

Eventually, the discussion turned to who would captain the Adventure now that Boardman was gone. As a new, Akira-class vessel; the Adventure would need a strong captain. Although Commander Logan assumed command under dire circumstances, was she the right person to sit in the captain’s chair permanently?

Admiral Nechayev made the case that Commander Logan is known to the Cardassians now; that putting her in command of the Adventure may be sending a message to the Cardassians that “cowboy diplomacy” is an option that is on the table, should it be required. This term elicited a collective chuckle from the three admirals; but predictably, Captain Tomek, a Vulcan, showed no reaction. Rather, he began to speak.

“I feel it is necessary to remind everyone that I never supported the decision to give Captain Boardman command of the Adventure.”

Fleet Admiral Shanthi sighed. “Gloating doesn’t become you, Tomek.”

“Gloating is something humans do,” said Tomek. “It is illogical to take pleasure in the knowledge you were correct when your counsel went unheeded, nonetheless. Rather, it is more productive to consider a future course of action in light of past lessons. I merely state that I believe now, as I did then, that there are better candidates for command of the Adventure. Commander Logan has exhibited sound judgement and has performed her duties competently. But she is not the best choice.”

Admiral Paris spoke up: “I feel like we’ve discussed this before.“

“That is because we have discussed it before,” Tomek said. “Ronan Lyko should captain the Adventure. It is only logical.”

“Captain Lyko commands the Ostrander,” said Admiral Nechayev.

“An antiquated, Cheyenne-class vessel, well past its prime,” said Tomek. “His abilities and experience would be better utilized in command of the Adventure.”

Fleet Admiral Shanthi cleared her throat. “After Wolf 359, Captain Lyko was offered his choice of vessels. He has made his feelings on the matter clear. He wishes to remain in command of the Ostrander.”

Tomek looked at each of the admirals in turn. “It is my understanding that Captain Lyko’s is still a Starfleet officer, and thus subject to assignment, regardless of his personal wishes.”

“Might I suggest we table this conversation for now?” Admiral Nechayev rang the bell to adjourn the inquiry. “This inquiry has concluded. You will be notified of our findings within a few days.” Everyone slowly filed out of the room.

The Adventure was docked for the duration of the inquiry; thus the senior staff was assigned to other duties around Outpost 51 and the Denali substation until it was concluded. Lieutenant Kl’rt Beta, Helm Officer, had to content himself with piloting shuttlecraft between the outpost and the substation, carrying personnel and cargo back and forth. It was a big step down from being at the conn of an Akira-class starship. Since all he really did was pilot the Adventure, his actions weren’t in question as far as the inquiry panel was concerned. His testimony was brief, merely verifying the version of events as presented by Commander Logan and the ship’s own combat data.

Chief of Security Daris Pak had a bit more to account for. She was in charge of the tactical station; so it fell to her to explain every phaser blast and photon torpedo launched during the course of the Adventure’s clash with the Cardassians and Ferengi. Until the Adventure was flying again she was assigned to menial duties aboard the Denali docking substation; cargo inspections and routine security details: a complete waste of her talent and ability. She supplemented her time by teaching self-defense classes to enlisted personnel who would likely never have need for her training. One of her classes was disrupted by a few rowdy Klingons who scoffed at Starfleet security training, since it emphasized de-escalation and non-injurious conflict resolution. Commander Pak took the opportunity to instruct one Klingon in particular about the danger of underestimating an opponent.

Chief Engineer Suvak was most worried about retaining his post aboard the Adventure; not because of anything he did or failed to do; but rather because he never would have been assigned to the Adventure in the first place if it wasn’t for Captain Boardman. Boardman was a strong advocate for the Vulcan, despite the fact the Suvak had spent decades in an alternate dimension. As a result of a transporter accident, he was now somewhat behind as far as current Starfleet technology was concerned. Nonetheless, Boardman saw something in Suvak that made him pass up more qualified candidates in favor of the Vulcan. In light of his obvious mental instability, would Boardman’s favor ultimately harm Suvak?

Suvak decided to spend his time as productively as possible. He proposed some modifications to the Adventure: remove the extensive shuttle bays in favor of improved power systems. After all, the Adventure didn’t need two runabouts and six shuttlecraft. It seemed destined for a more martial role; improved power systems would ensure the ship had power to phasers when it needed to fight, or power to warp drive when it needed to flee; and it would still allow Adventure to carry one runabout and three shuttlecraft. HIs proposal was accepted. He and Chief Station Engineer Malcolm Khofi spent most of the two months overseeing the modifications.

Commander Logan, meanwhile, was temporarily relieved of command duties while the Inquiry was ongoing. When not answering the panel’s questions, she spent most of her time in her quarters, wondering if she made the correct decisions in light of what had occurred. She was confident she had; in hindsight, she would not have done anything differently. She did not know either Captain Boardman or Commander Fulexian well, nor was she a counselor. She had no way of predicting their aberrant behavior.

She received an unexpected visit from Captain Tomek, who came to her quarters to inform her that the Maquis operative, Hoddek, had finally cracked under interrogation and was giving up some valuable information. Tomek was on his way to the Denali substation to meet with Kalar Duren, the Betazoid interrogator who was questioning Hoddek, and wanted Logan to accompany him. Duren was both Counselor and Chief of Security aboard the substation, dividing his time between the two positions as needed. Tomek seemed to hold him in high regard.

Tomek and Logan met in shuttle bay 3 an hour later to find Lieutenant Beta awaiting them. It was the first time Logan had seen her helm officer since the Adventure’s return. Beta flew the two senior officers to the substation, where he left them to pass some time playing dom-jot with Master Chief Engineer Holt Belmont, a likeable enlisted man whom everyone–including Beta–seemed to owe a favor. Along the way to the interrogation room, Logan picked up Commander Suvak, who took the opportunity to brief Logan on the modifications to the Adventure as they walked. All three arrived at the Security Office to find Lt. Commander Pak was there already, checking her duty roster.

Suvak, Pak, Logan and Tomek met with Kalar Duren to hear the results of the interrogation. Hoddek revealed that a high-ranking individual operating around Deep Space Nine was a key Maquis agent. He claimed not to know the person’s identity, and Duren believed him. Still, it wasn’t long ago that Lieutenant Commander Calvin Hudson had deserted Starfleet to join the Maquis; causing a significant amount of damage and security risk. Tomek recalled that Hudson was a personal friend of Commander Benjamin Sisko. Now, news of another high-ranking Maquis operating around Deep Space Nine was of great concern, and a bit too coincidental for the Vulcan’s liking.

Upon leaving the Security Office, Tomek pulled Logan aside. “I see no need to draw this out. The panel has decided that you are to retain command of the Adventure. Congratulations, Captain Logan. Unfortunately, there will be little time for formal recognition. Please ensure the Adventure is ready to depart, and make any changes to your personnel as you see fit. We leave for Deep Space Nine in three days.”

Logan saluted Captain Tomek, who returned the gesture solemnly. “Thank you, Captain.” She said. It sounded odd to her, not having to call him “sir” any longer.

Word of the Adventure’s destination spread rather quickly as Logan assembled her crew. Over the dom-jot table, Holt Belmont grinned at Lieutenant Beta. :So,” he said, “I hear you’re back behind the wheel, headed to DS9.”

“That’s what they tell me,” said Beta.

Belmont’s smile widened. “Beta, buddy…I was wondering if you could do me a favor…”

Star Trek Adventures: The Big Sleep Conclusion

After a brief hiatus to play some D&D 5th edition, I have started up my Star Trek Adventures campaign again. While preparing to document the continuing adventures of the U.S.S. Adventure, I realized I had left the story hanging several months ago, and never returned to it. Sure enough, in my unpublished WordPress posts, there was this account of our last gaming session: the end of the “Shakedown Cruise” of the U.S.S. Adventure, The Big Sleep: Conclusion. If you need a recap, the story immediately preceding this can be found here.

So, to resume:

Aboard the alien cylinder, Commander Fulexian was losing his patience. Despite his best efforts, the hatch to the interior of the object remained inaccessible. To make matters worse, the Cardassian boarding party was on its way to the away team’s location. Soon they would be trapped between them and the hatch. The Andorian was the Adventure’s science officer, not security chief; but even he could see that this was not a strategically advantageous position to maintain.

He ordered the team withdraw to avoid contact with the Cardassians. They would likely have no more luck accessing the hatch than he had, anyway. The Cardassians pursued the away team, pausing just long enough to vaporize the helpless Ferengi salvage crew in retaliation for the attack on their ship, when a stroke of luck occurred: the outer walls of the cylinder shifted suddenly, cutting of the Cardassians from the away team. With a little more room to breathe, Fulexian ordered his team to resume their exploration.

Meanwhile, aboard the Adventure, Lieutenant Beta informed Commander (now Acting-Captain) Logan that the Cardassians had some reinforcements on the way…three Hideki-class cruisers were entering the system, course uncertain but probably bound for the cylinder. The odds were changing, and Logan knew she needed to protect the science outpost as her primary duty. She ordered Beta to lay in a course to intercept the Sindral before Gul Drazel could reach New Coriolanus.

The conflict was swift and decisive. Gul Drazel was not inclined to further discussion, especially since once the Adventure gave chase, the Ferengi took the opportunity to destroy the helpless Cardassian ship. The Sindral fired on the Adventure, but the shields held. In response, Lieutenant Commander Pak targeted the Sindral’s weapons and engines with the phaser arrays. The shots blew through the Cardassian shields, disabling the vessel and leaving it adrift. Commander Logan berated Daimon Nogrix (who had returned to the bridge) for the cowardly actions of his crew and banished him from the bridge once again, while the crew of the Adventure took the brief respite to restore power and repair the shields before the Cardassian reinforcements arrived.

It was then that Lieutenant Beta informed Commander Logan that there was another Cardassian vessel on a course to the system, Legate Jabrel’s ship: the Ma’bran, a Keldon-class destroyer, bigger and more heavily-armed than the Sindral. To make matters worse, some kind of dimensional disturbance was forming several million kilometers away from the cylinder’s present position, directly in its path.

Aboard the cylinder, the away team discovered a strange anomaly of thier own. There was some kind of portal opening in the very corridor they were presently exploring. Wasting no time, and in accordance with his value “Defeat Ignorance”, Commander Fulexian ordered the away team through the portal. They arrived in the vast expanse of the interior of the cylinder, somehow separated from where they were by a dimensional barrier.

The away team found themselves surrounded by crisscrossing lattices and struts containing row upon row of smooth, ovular pods made from the same alien metal that seemed to defy tricorder classification. Although there were no life signs present, both Lieutenant Suvak and Ensign Tamral could sense the pervasive presence of a great many consciousnesses, all utterly alien and incomprehensible. Scans of the pods revealed there was indeed organic matter inside; but matter that showed no signs of life or decomposition. After several more scanning attempts, they were able to determine the pods contained vaguely humanoid forms, roughly 2.5 meters tall, with long limbs and featureless faces.

There was no power to any of the pods; or indeed, to anything in the cylinder, so far as they could tell. If these were stasis pods, they were not being maintained by any conventional means. The away team was metaphorically and literally in the dark.

Repeated attempts to reach the collective consciousness, either telepathically or empathically, had failed. Commander Fulexian, thoroughly frustrated, made the decision to open one of the pods, heedless of the possible consequences or ramifications. He simply had to know…

Meanwhile, the Adventure’s readings of the alien cylinder showed something alarming: it was beginning to accelerate, heading straight towards the now fully-formed dimensional rift. It would pass through it in a little under ten minutes, taking the entire away team with it unless Commander Logan could get them back aboard Adventure in time. The Sindral was disabled, and the Prized Possession was soon to have its hands full with the Cardassian reinforcements. For the time being, New Coriolanus was out of danger. She ordered the Adventure to close with the cylinder and beam the away team back, once they were in transporter range.

“Open it up,” ordered Commander Fulexian. The rest of the away team exchanged glances.

“But, sir…” protested Ensign Tamral, “we don’t have enough information..”

“I said open it!” yelled Fulexian, his Andorian antennae quivering. But before anyone could do anything, the entire away team was beamed back aboard Adventure to be met by the smiling face of Transporter Chief O’Malley.

“I got ’em, Commander..er, I mean, Captain,” said O’Malley.

“Good news,” said Logan. “Away team, report to your posts.”

The away team filed out of the transporter room. All except Commander Fulexian. He pulled his phaser and shot O’Malley, stunning the hapless transporter chief. Then he hurriedly set the transporter controls to beam himself back aboard the cylinder.

He had to know.

By the time Commander Logan got word of Fulexian’s actions, it was too late. Defying physics and logic; and seemingly without any known propulsion system; the cylinder accelerated to warp speed and entered the rift. It closed seconds later, taking both the alien cylinder and Chief Science Officer Shazak Fulexian with it.

All that was left was to mop up. Daimon Nogrix was beamed back aboard his ship, the Prized Possession. Since there was no profit to be had now that the alien cylinder was gone, and since he was soon to be facing three Cardassian corvettes and a Keldon-class destroyer on his own (Commander Logan made it clear he could expect no further assistance from the Adventure), he made the tactical decision to withdraw, vowing to report the actions of Captain Boardman and Commander Logan to his government. Legate Jabrel’s ship, the Ma’bren, went to the aid of Gul Drazel’s ship, the Sindral; while the three corvettes pursued the Ferengi. The Adventure took up a protective position around New Coriolanus, warily watching the Cardassians; but once repairs were complete, the Cardassians left the system without a word. Strange.

The Adventure remained in orbit around New Coriolanus until a small detachment of Federation ships arrived. These ships would maintain a presence in the system to ensure the Cardassians didn’t return. With the safety of the science outpost sorted, Commander Logan ordered the Adventure to break orbit and return to Outpost 51.

She was not looking forward to making her report…

#oldorcs finis

My #oldorcs submission took me longer than anticipated; after all, it’s just one orc model. I should have been able to complete that in an hour or so. But the more I looked at it, the more I put off actually beginning to work on it. I really wanted to capture the Oldhammer painting style; a style I haven’t used since, well, since the Oldhammer days of my youth. I painted the basic green skin tone and left the model to sit for a bit while I prepped my Vamp for Vampifan, the Red Duke.

I’ve been having an odd sleep schedule lately, and I found myself thinking about him at 3 am. It was a night of soaking rain here. Usually that helps me sleep, but I had Ork on the brain. I got up and went to my painting table, and I stared. I stared at the Ork for 15 minutes or so, while the rain came down on my bulkhead. I stared, and he stared back. And then I knew what I was going to do.

I decided to make him a Death Skull; because I’ve always been partial to their blue facepaint. Once I did that, the rest of the model came pretty quickly.

When I painted my Warhammer Orc and Goblin army decades ago, I used the same orc skin recipe on almost all the models: Snot Green base, Goblin Green tone, Scorpion Green highlight (all are avialable through Coat D’Arms nowadays). I didn’t want to do that here, so instead I used a base of Citadel Caliban Green, followed by Reaper’s Turf Green and Meadow Green. This resulted in a slightly darker skin tone than I liked, so I once again added some Scorpion Green highlights. For the blue face paint, I based it in Vallejo Prussian Blue, highlighted with Reaper’s Dragon Blue, and then a final highlight of Vallejo Andrea Blue.

The rest was pretty easy: I just went back to the brightly-colored John Blanche/Mike McVey Oldhammer palette that was the norm when I first started playing. You can see plenty of examples of it in old White Dwarf and Dragon magazines, if you have them; or of course any old codices, catalogs and army books of the time. Barring that, there’s always the Internet…

This was a fun little diversion and my first Instagram painting challenge. Thanks to Old Man Paints for hosting it! There are prizes to be won, but they weren’t my motivation. I really just needed the kick in the pants to get back to hobbying.

Now, back to the bloodsucker…

#oldorcs

The other day I stumbled across an Instagram painting challenge for Orctober. Old Man Paints is running his Old Orcs Challenge. The rules are on his site (which is a cool site to visit anyway), but put simply they are: paint an old orc miniature from the Oldhammer era (mid 80’s-early 90’s) and post it on Instagram by the end of the month. (There are hashtag requirements and stuff like that, but that’s about the gist of it.)

Well, if there’s one thing I have a lot of, it’s Oldhammer Orcs. Sadly, all of mine are painted already, and one of the rules is a “before” picture is necessary. It seems I was out of luck.

Well, it just so happens I have had a 40K Ork army as a planned project for about 10 years. This makes no sense, as I don’t play 40K anymore; but who among you can say you don’t have similar nonsensical ambitions in your pile of shame? I have a ton of Orks, most still on the sprue, just waiting for assembly and painting. (I’m in no hurry.) The vast majority of these are from this millennium. In other words, most of them.

Then I found this guy, along with a handful of other Rogue Trader-era Boyz. I’m back in business.

I have no expectation of actually winning this challenge, considering the level of talent I see on Instagram; but I figure I can pretty easily paint one ork in my sleep by the end of the month, so why not participate? Next time you see this guy, he’ll have paint (and arms) on him.

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!

Grimjack

First off: I hate this WordPress theme, and I’m looking to change it as soon as possible. I just need to find a theme that doesn’t screw up my photos. This was what I could find on short notice. Change to come soon.

When I was a lad, I collected mostly Marvel comics, with the exception of a couple of black and white titles my friend introduced me to in high school. The only one of note was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Unlike most comics, TMNT didn’t come out monthly; it came out whenever the creators made a new issue. As a result, we were always hoping for more turtles, and were often disappointed. So, when my Friendly Comic Shop Owner slid a copy of Grimjack #26 in my reserve box, I wondered why… until I discovered the back-up feature, Munden’s Bar, had a story featuring the turtles…and it was in COLOR.

I bought it, of course. The turtles story was fine. The main story was much better. Thus I was introduced to one of my favorite comic books and comic characters of all time: Grimjack.

From Wikipedia: Grimjack is the street name of John Gaunt, a sword-for-hire, ex-paramilitary, war veteran and former child gladiator. He operates from Munden’s Bar in the Pit, a slum area of Cynosure, a pan-dimensional city to which all dimensions connect. All this is true. but it’s pretty bare-bones as far as the character’s full biography goes. He’s a war veteran, sure…but he’s a veteran of the Demon Wars, which has given him some sensitivity to magic; which is also a thing, depending on where you are in the pan-dimensional city of Cynosure. Although this hardly needs be said, he’s also a fucking badass.

There were three main incarnations of the character throughout the comic’s 81-issue run, the entirety of which was written by John Ostrander. A small British miniatures company, Wayne’s World of Wonder (available through Matchlock Miniatures), makes a version of all three. Thanks to the kindness and generosity of a friend, specifically the lovely and talented Carrion Crow, I now own these miniatures. A real bon homme, that Crow…when I opened the unexpected parcel last holiday season, I almost squealed with girlish glee. (OK, I did squeal.) As some of you may know, I have been in a bit of a painting slump lately…so these figures were just what I needed to get my groove back.

First up, the “original” Grimjack; as immortalized by the great Tim Truman’s artwork. This is the version we see at the beginning of the series: Gaunt as a man slightly past it, pushing fifty and hardened by a life of violence and loss. Hands-down my favorite version of the character, this is also the version they brought back when they finally began publishing Grimjack comics again, some fifteen-plus years after the comic ceased production upon the demise of First Comics. (I converted my own versions of two other First Comics characters, Nexus and Badger, for Forgotten Heroes back in June. Forgotten Heroes: a Carrion Crow joint.)

After a while, Grimjack comes to inhabit a much younger, cloned body of himself, and goes by the name “Chaney”. It doesn’t really fool anyone for long, kinda like when Wolverine started calling himself Patch but still popped his claws every issue. Tom Mandrake took over the bulk of the pencils for this incarnation, and it is the version of Grimjack I like the least. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s more that what came before and what comes after is so much better…

Then, in Grimjack #55, the timeline jumps a couple of hundred years. Grimjack is reborn (in fact, he’s doomed to be reborn forever) in the body of James Twilley. Twilley didn’t know he was Grimjack until he was in high school and killed someone; then it all came rushing back. Some of the best Grimjack stories were written during this run, which lasted until the series’s end; and Flint Henry’s artwork is so, so good….

Of course, while painting these miniatures I had to dig out my comics for visual reference. This prompted a re-read of the series, currently ongoing. I’m on issue 31, and aside from some unfortunate, racially-insensitive language (you could get away with that stuff back then, although it adds nothing to the story) and the horrid (yet blissfully temporary) art of Tom Sutton, it holds up pretty well. I remember why it’s so great and I’m looking forward to what I know is coming.

This post also marks the return of my long-neglected Insanity Pile tracker. Sadly, This year I haven’t painted as many miniatures as usual, but neither have I been purchasing many. Once again, I do not count miniatures I repaint (like Heroclix), or Gaslands cars that I convert.

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Purchased: 30

Miniatures Painted: 46

Total +16

Lower Decks: TNG

My latest Modiphius Star Trek set is one of my favorites: The Next Generation Away Team. Like the Original Series Landing Party, you get a pair (one male and one female) of Vulcan, Human, Denobulan, Tellarite and Andorian miniatures, for a total of 10 crewmen you can customize by Division as you see fit. Of course, ten is not evenly divisible by three, so you have to pick which uniform color you want to assign to the extra miniature. Once again, I chose the blue shirts (Science and Medical Division), which is weird, because I distinctly remember telling myself I needed more gold uniforms (Security and Engineering). Not sure how that didn’t happen. Must have been my subconscious at work.

This is a good set. Putting aside my problems with Modiphius in general, the poses are good and the miniatures look great. I have no complaints. These sculpts look a lot better than the TNG bridge crew, which was a real missed opportunity for Modiphius, in my opinion.

My favorite miniature is the male Andorian I’ve painted as a security officer; followed closely by the Human female to the left (I painted her in Command red). My least favorite is the female Tellarite (same as it was in the TOS set), but it’s still a perfectly fine miniature and it’s not like I hate it.

This brings my Star Trek painting almost to a close. I only have 5 more Modiphius Trek miniatures to paint, and they’re all from the “Iconic Villains” set. With the exception of Gul Dukat (my favorite Trek villain), I have no immediate need for any of them (and probably no long-term need, either), so they’re pretty low on my priority list at the moment.

I still hope to get one more submission in for Forgotten Heroes by month’s end, so check back soon!

My Dinner with Mugato

The following excerpt is from my forthcoming book, Domo Arigato, Mr. Mugato, soon to be available at fine booksellers everywhere.

From a small part in a popular 60’s science fiction show to the entertainment tour-de-force he is today, Mugato has been a giant on stage and screen over the last five decades. I caught up to him in London, where he was in the midst of a two-month engagement at the Southwark Playhouse. His portrayal of Torvald in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House has been called a masterclass in the Stanislavsky method.

AP: Mr. Mugato. It’s truly an honor. Thank you for meeting with me.

M: Please. Call me Mugato.

AP: Thanks. Sorry, I’m just a little nervous.

M: Don’t worry. I don’t bite. Not anymore, anyway (laughs).

AP: Do you mind if we talk about Star Trek?

M: Why would I mind?

AP: Well, it’s just that some people have said…

M: That I don’t like talking about it? Nah. I’d like to think I’ve done better work, that’s all.

AP: Of course. But…

M: Ask your questions, kid.

The role that started it all…

AP: Do you remember how you got the part?

M: Right place, right time, I guess. In ’67 I was working as a caterer in the Hollywood hills. Serving drinks, wiping tables…you know. One night I was working a party at Roddenberry’s house. He must have liked my look, because he told me to come to Desilu the next day. Couple of hours after that, I was tackling Bill Shatner on planet Mongo, or wherever the hell they were that week (laughs).

AP: And from there a star was born.

Mugato and Lucille Ball.

M: Not quite…I got offered a lot of parts after that, became the toast of the town. Everyone wanted me around. I was Hollywood royalty. But then came the seventies…

AP: Right. The blacklisting, because of the war.

M: Well, they didn’t call it that, not officially. Everyone was still raw from the fifties. But, Jane (that’s Jane Fonda; I call her Jane) Jane and I sure as hell couldn’t get any good work once everyone found out how we felt about the war. If that’s not a blacklist, I don’t know what it is.

AP: Still, you managed to find work…

M: Sure. My unique look gave me an advantage. I’m lucky. I’m a humanoid, apelike creature with a lethally venomous bite, so obviously I can play just about anything. It’s tough to typecast me, so no one ever tried. Melvin hired me, then Russ…it was an interesting time.

AP: You mean Melvin Van Peebles? And Russ Meyer, right?

M: You got it. Mel gave me that part in Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song and Russ gave me the lead in Watch It Jiggle.

AP: Do you regret any of those movies?

M: Nope. Both gave me the chance to show my range as an actor, and Russ helped me understand that I like boobs. (Chuckles).

AP: About that…over the years you’ve been linked romantically to Raquel Welch, Uschi Digard and Serena Grandi, to name a few. But the most persistent rumor is that Carly Simon’s famous song, You’re So Vain, is about you. Is it?

M: I dunno. We dated for a while. You’d have to ask Carly. Anyway, I don’t kiss and tell.

AP: In an April, 1987 interview with Cinema Verite, Stanley Kubrick claimed that the five greatest actors of the last 100 years were Olivier, Welles, Streep, Day-Lewis…and Mugato.

M: I saw it. That was kind of Stan to say.

AP: What do you think?

M: I mean, I’m flattered, but I think Bobby D and Marlon got screwed (laughs).

AP: Yet you never worked with Kubrick, even though it’s rumored he had you in mind for Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket.

M: Yeah…Stan thought I’d be all over that because of my not-so-private stance on Vietnam. But I was ready to move on from that. I was doing a lot of coke at the time, too. That’s probably what cost me the lead in Children of a Lesser God earlier that year. Still, Bill Hurt did ok, I guess. So did D’onofrio.

AP: That brings us to the nineties…

M: Yeah, look…not to be rude, but I have a curtain call in 10 minutes. I do mostly theatre now. Back to basics. But remember, I didn’t get my start in the theatre. I’m doing things in reverse. Make sure you write that in your book.

AP: OK, one last question?

M: Sure.

AP: Why don’t you go to Star Trek conventions?

M: You’re kidding, right? (sighs). Look, I was practically a kid when Star Trek aired. Bill, De, Leonard…they were ok to me, but I wouldn’t call them my friends. Jimmy Doohan and I once ran into each other over at Pink’s, getting hot dogs. That was years later. By then I was a bigger name than him. But hey, Jimmy was all right.

The short version is that those guys and me…we only worked together long enough for me to attack Kirk and then get disintegrated. There wasn’t much chance of a recurring role after that happens to your character, and I was in demand elsewhere. I guess I’ll always be grateful to Roddenberry for giving me my shot. But I took it and managed to do pretty well. I managed to make some decent coin in this business, and I’m not looking back. Those conventions are just…sad. Anyway, thanks for dropping by, kid.

Thus, for a brief time, I had been in the presence of a master of his craft. I still had a million other questions for Mugato, but that was undeniably a dismissal. Regretfully, I shook his three-clawed paw and took my leave.

Monster May(hem) is winding down, and I’m happy to say I still have one more contribution to make, most likely on the last day. But…it’s my big ‘un this year, so if all goes well I will be happy indeed.

Be sure to check out all the other participants. Harry posted some pictures of his completed High Elf Dragon, Matt made the most terrifying (and clever) monster of all, and Ken completed a couple of Displacer Beasts that look great! That just leaves His Crow-ness, and I have faith he’ll deliver by the end of the month. (But even if he doesn’t, he’s been up to some pretty impressive Dr. Who gaming and diorama-making over on his site. You should go there and see.)

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well!

Giant Scorpion

Monster May(hem) continues with my latest submission: a Giant Scorpion (and some smaller, yet still quite large scorpions). from Reaper. These Bones miniatures are define what an “impulse buy” is to me. I had no need for either the huge scorpion or its little brothers, yet I bought them to “pad” an order to get free shipping, as I recall. I’ve had these for a few years now. Since I’m finding any excuse NOT to work on the big monster I have vowed to paint by month’s end, I painted these guys instead.

The good news is that even though I don’t really have a use in mind, much like Rrrraaaaaang, this beastie can be quite versatile.

Kip Kincaid and Sarah Litmus are beginning to regret exploring Planet X…
Perhaps Lara should have done more research on why it’s called “The Temple of Stingy-Sting-Sting.”
The wizard said hunting for spell components was quick and easy work. The wizard lied.
Epitaph: “Clean Head” McGee. Never backed down from a fight.

Matt from PMPainting just completed an amazing-looking Cthulhu model for his third submission of the month, and Harry painted a Warhammer High Elf Dragon, after painting a Wood Elf Dragon just last month. Now I literally have no more excuses not to tackle my own big fellah…but I’ll probably find one before long.

Check out all the other participants in Monster May(hem). Visit their sites and see what they’re up to!

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well!

Happy Painting!

The Coming of…Rrrraaaaaang!!!!!

Beware! Despair! Rrrraaaaaang is upon us!!!  Rrrraaaaaang, Destroyer of Worlds! Rrrraaaaaang, Bringer of Doom! Rrrraaaaaang, Devourer of Civilizations! Rrrraaaaaang! Rrrraaaaaang! RRRRAAAAAANG!!!!!!!

A bit of background: when I was in college, I spent a fair amount of time in the Fine Arts building, as one of my best friends was an illustration major. One day, I noticed something odd affixed to a wall in the main lounge. It was an orange. Someone had drawn a mean face on the peel and stuck it on a hook. They put a small, open box below the orange. It contained several coins of varying denominations. This, proclaimed a nearby sign, was Rrrraaaaaang, and he was a fearful god. Only through donations could Rrrraaaaaang be appeased.

Well, Rrrraaaaaang remained on his hook throughout the entire school year, long past when he became a withered, hardened husk of an orange with a sunken, glaring face. I think the custodians must have had a sense of humor; either that or, like the art students, they feared Rrrraaaaaang’s wrath should his physical body be molested in any way. I think there may have been about $2.00 in coins in that box by the end of the year, which is pretty impressive, considering college students are notoriously poor, and many are not above stealing change to raid a vending machine. Even so, none dared to defile the offerings to Rrrraaaaaang and risk his displeasure.

Rrrraaaaaang did not return the next semester. He vanished into the ether, as gods often do. He offered no explanation to those of us he left behind. I firmly believe Rrrraaaaaang will return one day, to visit divine retribution upon us all.

Until that time, I bring you my version of the great and terrible Rrrraaaaaang. My Rrrraaaaaang is an early Reaper miniature, Conjunctivus, the eye beast. He is a versatile monster, able to bring death and destruction in a variety of game settings.

They said nothing could make the Galacteers and the Imperials put aside their hostilities…but both fear Rrrraaaaaang!
Foolish mortals! Now you face Rrrraaaaaang!
“By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth, Wong! My wards have failed! Rrrraaaaaang is upon us!
On Planet X, Biff Banning and Sheila Starr unwittingly awaken…Rrrraaaaaang!!!!

This miniature has been awaiting completion for years. In fact, I began composing a Rrrraaaaaang post in April of 2018, and he already had a basecoat on him back then. I’m glad he’s finally done, and I hope I can get to some other long-incomplete projects before the end of Monster Month.

Check out all the other participants in Monster Month. Dave Stone converted an awesome Kroot beast for Warhammer 40K, then did an amazing paint job on an Oriental Dragon he sculpted himself! That’s two submissions, one more than me so far, and I’m the guy HOSTING the challenge! Way to go, Dave! Coyotepunc completed a Reaper Frost Giant and it looks great! Matt painted a Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath named Tracy. (Really!) Carrion Crow plans on painting some miniatures sculpted by Dick Garrison himself, another participant! Visit everyone’s blog and see what they’re up to!

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well!

Back to the painting table!

Star Trek Adventures: The Big Sleep Part 3

With the Cardassians powering up their disruptor banks and the Ferengi vessel responding in kind, things were not going well. Remarkably, Commander Logan managed to convince the leaders of both ships to meet aboard the Adventure, to see if they could somehow resolve their differences without armed conflict.

Daimon Nogrix and Gul Drazel met across the table in Captain Boardman’s ready room. Commander Logan took the lead and tried to negotiate a peaceful resolution, mindful of her own away team aboard the alien cylinder. Nogrix began to angle for the best deal he could, a deal which would include, ideally, sole possession of the object and the protection of the Adventure. It soon became clear that Gul Drazel had no intention of negotiating anything. He once again insisted that the mysterious object was the property of the Cardassian Union, and that he fully intended to destroy the Prized Possession for their previous attack on a Cardassian vessel. Staring daggers at Nogrix, Drazel abruptly declared that the meeting was over and left the room, transporting back to his flagship, the Sindral.

This left Nogrix alone with Captain Boardman and Commander Logan, a situation he found to his liking, at least until Lieutenant Beta informed the Captain that the Sindral had broken ranks with the other two Cardassian ships and set a course inbound towards the science outpost on New Coriolanus. While the crew discussed this development, the other two Galor-class ships powered up their weapons and opened fire on the Prized Possession.

Meanwhile, aboard the alien cylinder, Commander Fulexian had his hands full; a Ferengi salvage team had covertly beamed aboard and had taken up positions around the away team. The crew was not prepared for an assault, as they weren’t expecting any trouble when they initially transported over. Acting quickly, Lt. Commander Suvak decidd to modify the mass spectrometer to emit a high-frequency sound wave, inaudible to the crew but overwhelming to sensitive Ferengi ears. Assisted by Chief Specialist J’zhara, Suvak managed to make his engineering modifications successfully. The entire Ferengi salvage team collapsed, stunned!

Fulexian gave orders and the Ferengi were quickly disarmed. With this threat dealt with, he turned his attention back to the hatch. He could find no obvious way to open it, and it defied brute force attempts. While they searched for a solution, Suvak and Ensign Tamral tuned their attention to the mysterious consciousnesses they could sense all around them. It’s was as if they were in a darkened theater; aware of the other patrons and hearing their whispered conversations, but they could not make out any meaning or message.

Suvak decided to attempt communication by means of a Vulcan mind-meld. As there was no physical being present, he attempted to meld directly with the cylinder. Ensign Tamral assisted him with her empathic abilities, but the mind-meld was unsuccessful, revealing only that the consciousnesses aboard the cylinder were concentrated behind the hatch, deeper within the object, despite there being no detectable life signs. They didn’t have much time to ponder this, however; as Ensign Tamral sensed the presence of a more immediate problem; a team of Cardassians just transported over to the cylinder. Their intentions were most definitely hostile.

Understanding the Sindral posed a threat to the Federation science outpost, Captain Boardman leapt into action. Leaving Commander Logan in command of the Adventure, he took the remaining runabout, the Yoruba, and set off in pursuit of the Sindral. His intent was to evacuate the science outpost using the Yoruba and the runabout they left at the outpost. It was a really stupid plan, and Boardman was never seen again. Most likely he’s counting lights in a Cardassian prison somewhere.

(The group had previously discussed getting rid of Captain Boardman and promoting Commander Logan to captain, as Boardman was more of a hindrance than an asset to group play. My reasoning for having an NPC captain is because I wanted to avoid having one player dictate the actions of all the characters. My heart was in the right place, but Boardman just got in the way. I was going to kill him off in the coming battle, but the group decided his fate for me. This was much funnier.)

The Ferengi Marauder traded fire with the two Cardassian ships. Commander Logan ordered Red Alert status and Lt. Commander Pak raised shields. Unfortunately for everyone, Daimon Nogrix was still aboard the Adventure, not having had an opportunity to transport back to the Prized Possession before both ships raised shields. He immediately made himself a nuisance on the bridge. I spent some Threat to add the Scenic Trait: Annoying Ferengi on the Bridge. Nogrix’s presence would make any Tasks the bridge crew might attempt more difficult for as long as this Trait was in place.

Fortunately for Commander Logan, this wasn’t for long. Lt. Commander Pak, Chief of Security, politely escorted the Ferengi from the bridge after overwhelming him with her formidable presence. In Main Engineering, Ensign Mokta (a supporting character, as Chief Engineer Suvak was on the away team) tried to scan the Galor-class ships for weaknesses. In response, one of the Cardassian ships fired on the Adventure, taking a good chunk out of her shields. But the shields held, and the ship suffered no damage.

In response, Lt. Beta ran an attack pattern, setting up a counterattack. Commander Logan ordered Pak to fire the phaser arrays, targeting the Cardassian ship’s engines. The blast crippled the ship, knocking out the shields, disabling the engines and causing a further breach to the sensor systems. The Cardassian ship was effectively dead in space.

Before the other Cardassian ship could come about, Logan ordered the launch of the rapid-fire torpedo launchers, full spread. The resulting damage was devastating, annihilating the other Galor-class vessel in a fantastic explosion.

Commander Logan was now faced with a dilemma: pursue the Sindral, and leave the away team unprotected; or remain with the cylinder and leave the outpost to the mercy of the Cardassians. Meanwhile, Lt. Beta reported the Prized Possession was largely undamaged and about to make a run at the helpless Cardassian cruiser. Logan hailed the Ferengi vessel and warned them off, but not before Nogrix returned to the bridge and insisted the Adventure finish off the Cardassians.

Logan ignored him, and set off in pursuit of the Sindral, hoping to catch it before Gul Drazel could use the science outpost as a bargaining chip in pressing his claim to the mysterious object. Once again, hailing frequencies were opened.

Gul Drazel promised Logan and the crew that they would regret their interference in this matter and their decision to assist the Ferengi. He knew all about the Adventure from Legate Jabrel, who informed every Cardassian vessel in the sector of their previous treachery involving the Maquis. Logan reminded Drazel that he was leaving behind Cardassian soldiers to die, as the Ferengi were unlikely to show them any mercy if the Adventure had to chase the Sindral. Drazel stated flatly that death in service to the state is the highest honor a Cardassian can achieve. With a wicked grin, he said he hopes the scientists on New Coriolanus feel the same way…