Ted Talks: Rock ‘N’ Roll Star

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What truly motivates you, constant reader, to build your MOC’s and share them with the masses?  We already know you enjoy building your castles, and trains, and SHIPs (oh my).  You also do it to help your fellow builders with tips, share techniques, and provide positive feedback… for the good of the building community.  What more could anyone ask for, right?  Gee, Wally. How altruistic of you.

C’mon, people… you know, and I know, there is something else stirring underneath the surface…

It starts out as a little burning ember at first.  You’re hooked on getting the MOC views, and now you are yearning for a little more recognition. Fanned by the faves and encouraging comments from other builders, it burns brighter and grows inside you.  Eventually it consumes you, in a raging inferno that craves the FULL ATTENTION of the community!  You’re not looking for mere recognition from your peers anymore.  You’re looking for acclaim!  It is your DESTINY to become one of the “LEGO ROCK STARS”!!!

♪♫ “So you want to be a rock ‘n’ roll star? / Then listen now to what I say”.♫♪ – The Byrds

Look at me! Blog me! Love me! Name a build technique after me! Put my MOC’s onto trading cards… Hire me to be a designer at LEGO!”

 ♪♫ “Just get a [LEGO set] / then take some time and learn how to play.”♫♪

Well, duh!  Starting out, I think everyone understands that essential step of honing your craft.  It’s a long way to the top, if you want to Rock N’ Roll.  There’s not much else that really needs to be said.  If for some reason you are considering a spiritual training camp with an Indian guru to be further enlightened, let me save you the trouble.  Your meditation mantra is this: “Build my collection… Build some MOC’s… Build my collection… Build some MOC’s…”

33357057533_f0c2e9daa1_o.jpgthereeljames – Ommmmm

♪♫ “And in a week or two if you make the [blogs] / the girls’ll tear you apart”♫♪

If you’re a “LEGO savant”, maybe it does only take you a week or two to get your first blog post.  Typically though, it’s a gradual build up, as your skills and parts collection improve over time… but either way, it has finally happened!!!  You’ve made the “Cover of the Rolling Stone”  and have gotten your first “Top-40 hit”.  The web-traffic and views on your photo page have gone through the roof!!!  …But slow down there, “Stillwater”.  Don’t get ahead of yourself.  You’re still only a one-hit-wonder and merely “Almost Famous”…

If you start racking up more blog hits, you’ll also start racking up the favorites and the followers too.  At some point those builders that you considered “Rock Star Legends” will actually start following you.  Eventually, you build up enough confidence to go out on the LEGO CON-cert Tour with them.  You’ll play your solo act on stage, and then play in a collaborative jam session for the final encore.  Once the public has gone home, you play late night poker after the show with the roadies, sitting around a DUPLO table and trading your MOC’s for a few cans of “The Brown Note”… Rock N’ Roll, baby!!!

6045417123_fe1d4ea2a8_o.jpgcaptainsmog – On The Stage

Fame can be fleeting though, and new acts are always appearing on the scene.  To stay on the radio play lists, you’ll need to keep “Feeding that Monster!” by churning out those pop song hits.  Building a MOC in a popular licensed theme is a smart choice (Star Wars builds are always perineal chart toppers – the exception being “clones on a plate”)… might I also recommend participating in an Iron Builder contest?

♪♫ “Sell your soul to the company / who are waiting there to sell plastic ware.”♫♪

There are plenty of “LEGO Rock Stars” that reached the pinnacle and cashed in to become TLG “company men” and “company women”.  You’ll notice that they seldom get the time to build/post their own MOC’s anymore.  They don’t even want to build after a full workday of pushing brick-shaped pixels around a monitor screen.  Now they are just another Technic gear in TLG’s “hit making machine”.  They are chained to their desks, creating watered-down “Danish pop songs” that can appeal to everyone, especially to kids ages 8-and-Up, and that fit neatly into a certain market-determined piece-count/price-point.  They’re “getting’ hygee with it”… ♪♫ Happy Happy Joy Joy…♫♪

Stinky Wizzelteats – “I’ll teach you to be happy!…  I’ll teach your grandmother to suck eggs!”.

 Even if you don’t catch the eye of the major TLG Label and become a full-time contract-artist, don’t worry.  You can still get a taste of the action as a one-time guest performer.  Maybe you submit a few LEGO set ideas to CUUSO, IDEAS, or whatever it is that “American Idol” reality show is called these days.  If your idea goes “GOLD”, at least there’s still a modest chance the final design will maintain some modicum of your artistic vision.  But first you’ll need to thoroughly humiliate yourself by pimping for those votes… week… after week… after week….  Once you DO hit ‘GOLD’, and if TLG thinks you’ve handed them a bona fide hit, they’ll start pumping out the plastic.  They’ll even give you a 1% royalty on every record sold!  ONE PERCENT!!!

But that’s not the only way to cash in on your “Rock Star” acclaim.  You can also sign on with an independent label, or create your own. Rather than “selling yourself out” to TLG, you’re trying to sell out of your commissioned MOCs, custom printed figures, trading cards, action wear, etc.   You take your “Don’t Tread On Me” concert T-shirts with you on every stop of the LEGO CON-cert Tour, and then sell them on-line when you get home.  If your fans really like what you do, then surely they will pay up and support you, right?  They know you’ve got bills to pay, and more bricks to buy?  Maybe giving away MOAR free prototypes will entice them? Or maybe you need to find some other way to promote your wares? (…might I recommend sponsoring an Iron Builder contest?)

Pine Barons – Clowns “I am just a clown like you, and we fake smiles for pay…feeling so transparent.”

♪♫ “The money, the fame, and the public acclaim… ”♫♪

Up to this point I’ve been talking about “Rock N’ Roll” stars. They still have to crank out that “rock n’ roll” music that appeases the masses… “FREEBIRD!”  …But then there are the “MEGA STARS” that Leg Godt on a whole different level.  They can build whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want.  They are the trend setters (sometimes accidentally) and meme creators (sometimes purposefully).  They have been featured performers in Block-umentaries.  You know of whom I speak.

“Mega Stars” have followers in the thousands (like > 7,500).  Those large numbers have only gotten worse (I mean better) with LEGO being in the mainstream now.  On a bad day, they get 20 more new flickr followers, 15 of which have empty photostreams and those generic flickr camera avatars. On a bad day, they only get 150 favorites on a new MOC that hasn’t even been blogged yet.

"Fried Chicken!" - A tribute to Freddie Mercury

Ochre Jelly and “Fried Chicken!” (yum)

For their ‘fans’, which even include the “Rock Stars”, there is almost no hope of making any deep personal connections with the “Mega Stars” anymore.  Don’t get me wrong.  They aren’t cold hearted elitists.  They just can’t keep up with all the fan mail, let alone all of their fans’ photostreams to reciprocate the love. I wonder if they even fave other people’s MOCs anymore, let alone comment. (Perhaps they need to hire personal assistants – actually, I know that has already happened…. “Hey mom. Can you check my flickr to see if there is anyone I need to respond to while at BW?”).

When you are a “MEGA Star”, you don’t need to connect with everyone on a one-on-one basic anymore.  “We ain’t one-at-a-timin’ here! We’re mass communicatin’!”   Your MOC concerts are filling MEGA-STADIUMS now! You’re headlining ROCK FESTIVALS!  YOU Control The Action!  You have truly arrived.

Orange Stage at LEGO World

♪♫ “The price you paid for your riches and fame, / was it all a strange game? You’re a little insane”♫♪

Jonatha Brooke – “Careful what you wish for…”

There is a price to be paid for being a “Mega Star”.  To avoid the paparazzi, they have to build their own private LEGO Neverland compounds, and only invite the people over who knew them “before they were famous”.  They have to register at LEGO CON-cert hotels under false names too (…psst… I know who you are Mr. Bricky McBrickface).  When they walk through the LEGO CON-cert hall, they overhear jealous comments about their latest hairstyle, and the MOC’s they brought with them (btw – does TLG print the “Law of Jante” in the fine print of every instructions booklet, or something?)

LEGO “Mega Stars” must miss those halcyon days when they were up-and-coming builders, trading critiques on Lugnet and playing the “open-mic night” at the Corner Café.  I can’t fathom what it is TRULY like to be a “Mega Star”, and I’m too lazy to reach out to some of them and ask.  I’m no “Rock Star” myself either; being put onto a trading card just isn’t my goal in life (however, I’m always down for a lunch box lid).  I’m happy simply being an “Almost Famous” kind of builder; doing just enough to be relevant, but not enough to edge over that slippery slope.  Having seen the various endings to this cautionary tale, I don’t aspire to fly much higher.  I have my “Piece of Mind

 

Boston – “Piece of Mind”

Despite dragging my feet, I still net a couple new random flickr followers a week, for God knows why.  I’m at 1,800 flickr followers right now, which is a little insane, and with no hope of ever keeping up with them all…. Speaking of being “a little insane”, aren’t most creative types?  We’re never gonna’ survive unless we get at a little crazy… (…being A LOT crazy is a whole other matter…).

♪♫ “Don’t forget who you are, you’re a rock and roll star!”♫♪

So, where does this chase for “fame and acclaim” lead in the end?  Right back to the same question I asked at the very beginning: “What truly motivates us to build and share with the community?” Why are we doing all this?  To what end?  When our heads start to swell up from the moments of praise, we should probably ask ourselves this question time and again.

If it IS to become a “LEGO Rock Star”, now’s the time in this article for the reality check.  Remember that “Rock Star” status is mainly limited to within our own FOL Universe, and in our own minds.  It’s no more than that juvenile battle in the “LEGO High School” cafeteria to climb the lunch-table pecking order.  I assure you, no one outside of our FOL Universe gives a rat’s ass.  To most outsiders, we’re ALL just bunch of neo-maxi-zoom-dweebi’s, no matter where we are sitting; man-kinder, women-kinder, and sometimes actual kinder, just playing with toys.  That’s right.  They’re toys; we should be out there having fun with them, and playing well with each other.  Why so serious?

Space Cafe

BricksTreasure – Space Cafe

If our personal motivation is to become better builders, then we need to remember that all of these counts of views, faves, and awards are but arbitrary measures.  The means to become better builders comes from continually pushing ourselves to improve, by learning from others who inspire us, seeking out feedback, and not being overly defensive in the face of an occasional critique.  We’ll rise up by helping others rise up with us.  As cliché as it is, in The End, “the love you take is equal to the love you make”…  But don’t just take it from me.  Take it from the Walrus…

Paul McCartney – Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End

“ENCORE!  … ENCORE! … ENCORE! …”

With that, I think this musically themed satire has rambled on long enough.  It’s time for YOU to step up to the mic for the encore, and take over the comments stage.  Bring it on home!  Tell us about your stardom, or just rip on my playlist choices.  If you not a “Rock Star” yet, then you can just give us your best Neil Diamond cover (or whatever it is that your generation listens to these days).  This is your chance to shine!

 

 

Friday Night Fights [Round 22]

Welcome back fight fans, to Sin City Nevada for another Indiana-hook edition of Friday Night Fights! This week’s bout is all about making a scene, with the customary bragging rights and a discount coupon to the Pancake House on the line.  Without further preamble, let’s go to the tale of the tape.

Fighting out of the red corner, from the other side of midnight, it’s the always dangerous “Fabulous” Fabio Maiorana and “The Red Room”.

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And fighting out of the blue corner, from an abandoned oil rig in the north Atlantic, it’s “Relentless” Revan New and his “Abandoned Factory.

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As usual, constant reader, you are tasked with deciding the outcome of this pugilistic endeavor and determine who will receive a week’s worth of bragging rights.  Simply leave a comment below and vote for the model that best suits your individual taste. I will tally up the votes next Friday and declare a winner before announcing the next bout.

Last week, on Friday Night Fights….

It was a little girl tag-team death-match, with the Intercontinental Champtionship belt on the line.  In the end,  “Madman” Moko and his Love Laika scored a 7-3 victory over “Lightning bolt” LegoWyrm and his “Ladybug & Chat Noir”.  Mr. Moko records his first win and improves his record to (1-0) while Mr. Legowyrm falls to (0-1)

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Ted Talks: An AFOL’s Journey to Enlightenment

Welcome back to the third edition of Ted Talks, where friend of the blog and bon vivant Ted Andes tackles topics that are near and dear to his heart.  Without further ado, take it away Ted!

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I’M THE DARK KNIGHT!!! Artwork by polywen

Are you ready to read yet another AFOL’s boilerplate “coming-out” backstory?  Me neither.  Despite that consensus, it does make perfect fodder for an article (along with minifigs, replica models, and critiques).  This one’s my story:

My 1st LEGO set was…

Lame.  Seriously lame.

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I received this police set for my birthday in 1977, and I was not impressed.  My aunt was telling us that LEGO was a toy company in Denmark, and that their building block sets were the “hottest toys around”.  This police set was one of the only sets she could find.  “What eva”. Spider-man was my thing back then, and soon after the original Battlestar Galactica (and that recalled  Cylon Raider toy I had was so rad!!!).  Besides, who the heck were these stumpy, no-armed torsos that LEGO called police men going to arrest anyway?  Some random stack of 1×2 bricks?  Pfft, please.  Maybe they could hop around like pogo-sticks, or play “steamroller” with each other, but that’s about it.

“Steamroller!!!”

That birthday, I also got a set with some of those moon-faced maxi figs (or whatever the heck they are called – I don’t keep up on all our LEGO geek-speak). It was probably the set below.  I remember that it had some big spoked wheels.  I sure hoped that LEGO would include more wheels in their sets someday…  They could keep all of those stumpy, no-faced figures to themselves in Denmark for all I cared.  You’ll find no nostalgia here.

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What eventually got me hooked on LEGO was…

Space minifigs and the “Space Shuttle” set!  Hot damn, were they cool!  Maybe those toy builders in Denmark knew what they were doing after all!… Minifigs with posable arms AND legs!… And faces?!…And look at all those GREEBLE PARTS!…  And angled plates!?…  And a RAY GUN!?!  … And what a cool space logo!!!

The “space shuttle” flew into my life on Christmas Day, 1979.  I swooshed that thing everywhere.  I had an epic swoosh-fest when we went to Christmas mass later that morning too.  Those church pew kneelers made the best space runways… Swoosh!….Hey. Maybe that’s why they are called pews… “PEW! PEW! PEW!”  From that point on, Space was always where my heart belonged.

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“Pardon Me. Would you have any “LEGO Dark Age”? 

But of course…  My “dark age” began when I was 12 years old.  That was around the time that the LEGO catalogs started getting stale.  It was just more rehashed Classic Space sets, Castle sets, City sets, a Monorail we wanted but couldn’t never afford – rinse and repeat for next year.  I just got bored with it all.  I had diverse toy interests anyway.  At home, there was all the Star Wars playsets, the Erector sets, the original die-cast Transformers, and by then home video games started appearing on the scene;  TRS-80 Color Computer FTW!!!

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My Dark Age became official when I gave my entire LEGO collection to some undeserving neighbor-kid… (despite being nice to him, he turned out to be such an annoying, lying weasel; any time he got into trouble, that turd would try to pin the blame on me somehow… sheesh.  EVERYONE knows you’re supposed to blame it on those anonymous “kids on the school bus”).  My LEGO collection wasn’t all that large at that point, so “don’t cry for me Argentina….”

 “The truth is I never left you…”

So a few months after I gave away my entire LEGO collection, we learned that my mom was pregnant with my soon-to-be younger brother.  Damn.  Sorry bro.  No “hand-me-down” LEGO sets for you!… But this was actually a blessing in disguise.  We would need to get him new LEGO sets now.  By the time he was of LEGO-age, LEGO themselves were starting into their first “Golden Age”; the advent of Blacktron, Forestmen, and those wondrous Pirate ships.  I was off at college by then, but on my visits home I would always look forward to helping him build his latest sets (and I was soooo tempted to take a Blacktron minifig back to college with me when I left).

And once he got too old for it?  Well, he never truly did, but around the time he might have my sister gave birth to my nephew.  The “Circle of LEGO” would remain unbroken.  I’d eventually get my nephew a new LEGO set every Christmas, which got me back onto that wonderful LEGO Catalog mailing list.

“All Aboard the AFOL Train!”

Sometime in 2002, I was flipping through the latest LEGO catalog and there I saw it; the Santa Fe Super Chief.  Wow, that was pretty damn cool!  I always wanted one of those expensive LEGO trains/monorails as a kid (again, who didn’t?). It was then that I first thought, “Hey! Why not buy a LEGO set for myself?”…  But getting a LEGO train layout started was still going to be pretty damn expensive, as I’d need the engine and at least 5 train cars, all that 9v track, a motor, power converter…and what will the wife think?  Hmm… It was probably best for me to save up and wait for next year, or so I thought.

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New year.  New LEGO catalog.  No Super Chief.  WTF!?!  I went on-line to find out where it went.  Flippin’ retired?  RETIRED!?! It was during that desperate search for answers that I came across the Lugnet Train forum.  They had all the answers that I was seeking, and then some (SAVE 9V TRAINS!!!).  More importantly, I realized that the Super Chief was a fan designed engine, and these gents in the train forum were designing their own MOC’s too.  Well, of course they were!  “LIGHTBULB!”  So it was LEGO trains, Lugnet, and the builders in that community that brought me out of my nearly 20-year Dark Age.

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Q: “What’s black, and white, and red all over?”

A: My LEGO part collection starting out again.

Starting over from scratch, my part selection sucked horribly, and my building skills were admittedly no better.  The starting point for my collection was the Hobby Train Set and the Corner Café (and all that 9v gear).  Lacking in bricks, eventually I designed a train using LDD and purchased the parts via LEGO Factory / “Design by Me”.  I thought it turned out great given the constraints.  I proudly took pictures of my “Pennsylvania Rail Road T1 Class Duplex Drive 4-4-4-4 Steam Locomotive” and shared them on MOC Pages and the Lugnet forums for all to see…

Well, that build that I thought was “pretty close” was a dud in retrospect (and let’s not even talk about my photography skills at the time – cringe).  Sava and Cale were kind enough to give this newbie AFOL a pat on the head, and some words of encouragement… but deep down, I knew I just built the equivalent of a rainbow warrior in the train world.

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Look what I can do!

Trains weren’t the best place for a newbie AFOL like me to be starting out.  The creativity used for trains is predominantly focused on finding the right parts to make a replica model look as close to its real-life inspiration as possible, and to scale… and preferably in 7-wide.  Not having the parts to accomplish this, or the OCD passion that is hard-wired into these train folk, my train MOC’s were going to be DOA.

After that, I took a break from building and focused more on photography (only natural with that FOL migration to flickr).  Eventually, I was inspired to start building in the more “openly-creative” themes.  That’s when my heart found space again.  That’s also when I started plaguing brickshelf, flickr, the Classic Space forum, and the YCTA contests with photos of anything I could make out of those damn parts from the Hobby Train Set and the Corner Café.  I milked those sets to death, man!  Beat them into submission!  If you dare delve into the depths of my flickr photostream (I don’t recommend it), you’ll be able to tell.  The MOC’s are truly “black, and white, and red all over.”

Progress

But I kept at it, slowly building up my collection, poly-bag by poly-bag, clearance sale by clearance sale, holiday by holiday, and eventually Bricklink order by Bricklink order.  Note for any new AFOL’s out there; the sooner that you can “come out of the storage closet” as an AFOL to your friends and family, the better.  LEGO sets will become their go-to gift idea for you, and your collection will grow exponentially.

I built more and more, with various on-line contests being both my muses and measuring sticks on how my skills had progressed.  Eventually I got my first blog-age by the TBB back in April 2011 for the Bionicle/System infused beast below.  That was just the encouragement and validation that I needed.

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The Parasite

So if you’re counting, it was roughly 8 years from when I took the first steps on my AFOL journey until I finally got blogged. I finally built something worthy of recognition by the “building legends” that I had been chasing for so long.  I wasn’t looking for any acclaim (and I’m still not… but that’s a topic for my next article…).  I was just looking for something to indicate that I was making some progress, and closing the gap between me and those AFOL artisans that I continue to admire.

I wouldn’t get blogged again until 15 months later, but that was even sweeter.  It was for the MOC that would eventually become my first significant on-line contest win; The “M-Wing” (not to be confused with Jon Palmer’s M-Wing… )

Enlightenment                                                                                                            

It was none other than Dan Rubin that blogged my M-Wing version… and it was none other than Dan Rubin who subsequently commented “Ok, the underside is a little disappointing …”  I could have just let the comment pass, but I wanted to know more.  If I was going to accept his favorable opinion of the top, then I needed to equally accept his unfavorable opinion of the bottom.  I reached out for his candid critique.

An aside: I know we’ve beaten the critique topic to death, but if you want a critique, ask for a critique.  Dan cracked open the door of the opportunity, and I threw it wide open. In this brave new on-line world, you have to ask for what you want.  It is YOU that controls that action!  Don’t just whine about how no one throws critiques around like they’re parade candy anymore…

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“No one critiques my builds anymore…”

Dan replied, “I would either smooth out the bottom or greeble it up substantially more. Right now, it holds a middle ground that’s a mix of boring and ugly (those anti-studs make a bad impression)… I guess it either needs more style or more substance, but it’s currently not offering enough of either for me.” Truer words were never spoken.

This would eventually lead to my moment of “AFOL Enlightenment”, which is this:

-= Building a MOC based on a cool idea is not enough.  You have to give equal importance to the rest of the build, and commit to it like you will never take it apart again. =-

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The “M” shape of the M-Wing from above was my “cool idea”, and I had nailed it… but Dan opened my eyes to the fact that I just ‘settled’ on many of my other part choices.  I thought they were ‘good enough’ in relation to the “M”, but in reality they were anything but good. Since then, I’ve taken that lesson to heart, and try to consider all aspects of the build.  If I can go at least a full 24 hours without thinking of some kind of improvement for it, the build is usually pretty well baked… admittedly though, I still settle from time-to-time, even if it is as small as a 1×2 slope.

The Journey Continues…

So from there, it has been a matter of having the personal motivation and inspiration to build.  Some times that motivation has been sparked by on-line contests.  Other times, it has been sparked by seeing a cool build from someone else that gets me thinking of building in new ways.  Sometimes it’s taking on a self-inflicted project, like the 8×8 x 52week vignette series.  Lately it has been driven internally, by wondering how I can expand certain themes in unique ways (steambugs, aeronaut speederbikes, space nouveau, etc.).

Finally attending a LEGO Convention in 2016 was like receiving that final “sacrament of confirmation” as a FOL. There is no more lurking anonymously behind on-line avatars anymore, and wearing the FOL badge when it is convenient.  That brick badge is etched with my name now, for all to see. The next phase of the journey has begun…

It has been great to finally get to know fellow builders in person, and put some real faces (and personalities) to their otherwise anonymous avatars.  It helps to keep people strait too, since so many have on-line screen names with “Brick”, or “Block”, or “Builder”, or “Model”, or “MOCs”, or “Lego” embedded into them.  (BTW – maybe it’s just me, but the people with “Master” in their screen names always seem to be the sketchy ones?…  Those “MOCs” guys?  Well, they’re ok, I guess…). We can certainly be a dysfunctional family at times, but that’s what makes for the most entertaining family reunions of all… Now, get over there and give your Aunt Carol a big hug.

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“Public hours begin in 5… 4…. 3….”

“SWOOSH…”

And with that, it’s time to end this edition of “Ted Talks” with a mighty “SWOOSH….”  Shoot your flick-fire missiles at me down in the comments below.  “PEW! PEW!…” (…but please don’t shoot them down your own wind-pipe.  We don’t need another toy recall…)

– How did you find the FOL community (or did they find you)?

– Did you have a similar FOL journey?  What makes yours unique?

– Have you had any “moments of enlightenment” yourself?

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Editors Note: By including this final photo, the author issued a clear invitation to critique by the Manifesto’s Style Council.  Unfortunately the photo is viciously cropped and therefore not ideal for a comprehensive analysis, nevertheless a verdict must be rendered.  The ubiquitous T-Shirt is boilerplate attire for the hungry, unwashed Lego-nerd masses, but this one breaks a couple of rules.  First of all, the shirt advertises a corporate football team instead of a corporate toy and everyone knows that sports and Lego are not compatible.  The other big problem is the particular sports team being promoted is objectively terrible, with an overall franchise win-loss record of  344-408 and no Superbowl victories in their 50 year history of mediocrity .

Since Ted is only pictured from the waste up, the Style Council must assume that he is not wearing any clothing from the waste down which actually elevates his status from mild to wild.  The pose also works in his favor, it’s evokes the flair of a Vegas off-Strip magician or a particularly snappy waiter.  After considerable deliberation the verdict is in:

th

 

Friday Night Fights [Round 21]

Welcome back fight fans, to Sin City Nevada for another camel-clutch edition of Friday Night Fights! This week’s bout is all about the ladies, with the Intercontinental Tag Team Championship belt on the line as well as the eternal love of constant reader Pascal.  Without further preamble, let’s go to the tale of the tape.

Fighting out of the red corner, from way down in Goblin Town, it’s the always dangerous “Lightning bolt” LegoWyrm and his “Ladybug & Chat Noir

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And fighting out of the blue corner, from his Jovian orbital platform, it’s “Madman” Moko and his Love Laika.

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As usual, constant reader, you are tasked with deciding the outcome of this pugilistic endeavor and determine who will receive a week’s worth of bragging rights.  Simply leave a comment below and vote for the model that best suits your individual taste. I will tally up the votes next Friday and declare a winner before announcing the next bout.

Last week, on Friday Night Fights….

It was the battle of the Bat-Cave, as dueling Batmobiles fought for supremacy of Gotham’s highways and byways.  In the end, Mike “Psycho” Psiaki and his “Batmobile“ scored a tight 8-5 victory over Nathan “The Punisher” Proudlove and his “Arkham Knight Batmobile“.  Mr. Psiaki records his first win and improves his record to (1-0) while Mr. Proudlove falls to (0-1).

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The Prasad Report: LEGO CAD!

The Manifesto is proud to present the first installment of The Prasad Report, by frequent contributor Achintya Prasad.  This highly irregular series will cover anything and everthing that falls outside the scope of his (Great Debates!) feature.  Without further ado, take it away Mr. Prasad!

Hello everyone!  After the quite literal great debate over the minifigure, I thought it would be a good idea to present a more…calming review of a few LEGO CAD software programs I’ve recently used, to allow everyone a nice breather before I find something else to throw the comments section into chaos. Here we go, the first ever review, by yours truly, an enthusiast who has never built using software, ever.

Today, constant reader, I do have a special treat for you. Not only will I be bringing you a more-or-less (un)comprehensive review of Bricklink’s new program, Stud.io, and LDD, I will also be showing you sneak peaks into a massive new build I’ve been teasing on this blog and on Flickr. I assure you (or well, I mostly assure the editorial overlords of The Manifesto) that this isn’t a shameless plug for my builds, but rather, an example of taking the program to the ragged edge. Or at least, that’s what I’m telling myself. I should explain, that I have used CAD programs before, such as Microstation Powerdraft, and Model Smart. I’m actually quite good at technology, but LEGO CAD has been a mystery to me. So, while I’m not a total idiot in this field, I’m not exactly Steve Wozniak either.

So, let’s first do some background. While the traditional LEGO brick has been around for decades, the new century has brought about a new and very exciting form of building, via various CAD software. Now, while there is a debate about whether or not these electronic elements are on par with “real” LEGO creations (whatever that means), there is no doubt that there is a fair amount of skill and patience necessary to create anything meaningful in these programs.

Arguably, the most wildly known program is the LEGO group’s offering, Lego Digital Designer, or LDD for short. This program was amazing, it offered an advanced program that allowed even some more complex creations to be built within the program. While it was supported by LEGO, the program quickly became the favorite tool for LEGO’s CAD enthusiasts, from beginner-novices to advanced experts. Perhaps the most amazing feature of the program came from its Design By Me program, which allowed you to upload your creations to the LEGO website, create a box design for your creation, and have it shipped to your front door. Of course, such models weren’t cheap, and the program was often plagued with quality control issues. This eventually resulted in the company pulling the plug on the subsection, ending one of the most convenient tools in the pocket of the LEGO builder. The program, as a whole, soldiered on until 2016, when the Denmark headquarters officially terminated support for LDD. While you can still download and use the program, the elements guides are no longer updated by the LEGO company, and there are no planned bug fixes or updates.

Now, when I decided to embark on my insane nine baseplate large project, I initially turned to LDD as the method for keeping a tally of the number of elements I would have to buy. See, my idea is build an island, a complex undertaking that would require me to learn techniques in everything from rockwork to waterfall building, not to mention stretch my capabilities as microscale builder. LDD seemed like the cheapest way to try out all sorts of different ideas without having to invest time and effort into failed prototypes. Also, I was really attracted to the idea of having an instruction manual that could guide the entire building process, though the instructions I eventually generated made little sense and weren’t physically possible in our universe.

During the construction process, I did feel the program was lagging a little in features. For instance (and perhaps I’m a bit thick in figuring this sort of stuff out) I ran into massive issues when trying to duplicate rows of tiles to cover the baseplate. This was a huge problem: at the time of writing, the project consisted of 3,100 trans-light blue tiles. Every single last one of them was manually cloned and individually placed. Yes, it was as terrible as you can possibly imagine. Another issue that consistently plagued me was the camera movement. It was hopelessly difficult to try and move the viewing angle, leaving me to just guess and hope that I was placing elements in the right place.

By the time I finished with the general outline of the island, I was really starting to look for alternatives to the program. The relatively limited element cache was hampering my attempts at utilizing every possible technique and element available. Furthermore, the sheer number of elements in my project (number at over 3,000 at that moment) were blending into each other, making it difficult to differentiate between elements.

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One day, as I was scrolling through the money trap that is Bricklink, I discovered a new software: Stud.io. I decided to give it a shot, mainly because I was so woefully out of touch with the LEGO digital crowd that I actually believed that LDD and LDraw were the same thing (and to be honest, I’m still not 100% sure of all the differences). Not bothering to read any of the web page, I went straight into the download stage, completely unaware of what I was getting myself into.

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Thankfully, my LDD file imported quickly into Stud.io. Instantly, I have to say, the camera angles and flexibility was lightyears ahead of the LEGO group’s offering. The expansive Bricklink library was at my fingertips. Each element was easy to search up, and each search would result in beautiful renderings of the part, complete with 360-degree rotation. Basically, it was heaven.

Stud.io. also banked quite a bit from LDD. As far as I can work out, the placement options for elements is about the same (or again, I’m being really thick, and some smart commenter is going to telling me something that will actually enrage me) but the connections were oh so much clearer. Stud.io also showed when an element was connected impossibly, as in the element could not exist in that connection in our dimension, and when a piece had clicked with another. These two features alone saved me hours of troubleshooting and hair pulling.

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Also, unlike LDD, the program recognized that LEGO’s illegal connections aren’t actually all that awful, and usually allow such odd combination to exist. Stud.io also began to show up LDD in its model analysis. It was very easy to get a break down of the entire elements list and associated costs from the Model Info Section. These valuable information points are difficult to gain access to from LDD, and requires the model to be exported into other software, such as BrickSmith or LDraw (unless LDraw is actually LDD in which case I’ve completely lost it). This all sounds like a positive, but unfortunately, I have a very sad story to tell you.

At around the 5,200-element mark, I realized that significant portions of my build (especially the support structure) were now submerged in hundreds of detailed rocks and trees and other elements. While I was nowhere near completion, I tore a page out of the US defense industry’s playbook, and started the dangerous game of concurrency.

To those innocently unaware of what concurrency is, think of the impossible proverb “building an airplane while it’s flying.” Effectively, I started construction of the model before finishing the entire CAD file. It’s a terrible idea, but the time savings are honestly astounding. Of course, if the method didn’t work for Lockheed Martin and its F-35 program, what chance would a middling TFOL have with such an advanced concept? After all, I still didn’t know how to use Stud.io to its fullest.

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Anyways, as I began to try to ascertain some of the hidden elements in my project, I thought it would be a good idea to get a copy of the building instruction. Except for one thing: Stud.io doesn’t have that feature. See, when I didn’t bother to read the website before downloading, I didn’t realize that the program is still in BETA, and was missing some key features. I desperately attempted to contact Bricklink, who graciously never returned my emails. I attempted to export the model into the mysterious LDraw, only to have the program fail at creating instructions. At this stage, my laptop had been working extremely hard, and, after dedicating the entire processing power to running the intensive program, began to expel hot exhaust from its heatsink, very painfully burning my hands. This was especially worrisome, as my computer, a relatively new MacBook Pro, rarely behaved in such a way. Any further jaunts with the program were limited to 20 minute installments, usually ending with burned fingertips and realizations of the fruitlessness of the instruction less CAD model I had created.

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This leads us to today, where I have decided that CAD software is absolutely rubbish (for me) and the rest of my model will be built the old-fashioned way: using hands, Bricklink orders, brick separators, teeth, paper and pencil (so I can do my scaling calculations because I’m pedantic), a baseplate, various random snacks and drink, and bucket of unorganized LEGO elements.

FINAL VERDICT:

In my opinion, Stud.io has quite a bit of potential. The ability to upload creation to Bricklink and interface with its massive database is a quantum leap for the community. Recognizing the full potential of LEGO, from the expanded database, to the illegal connections, is nothing short of amazing. BUT FOR GOD’S SAKE read the directions before you begin. Anyways, there you have it, all I can think of about Stud.io. Have you used the program, or another LEGO CAD software? Tell us your experiences in the comments down below.

Fire for Effect: Consensus! The Truth Killer!

This is the improbable seventh salvo in Michael Rutherford’s regular column, Fire for Effect. Without any further ado, take it away Mike…

I keep trying to write this installment of FFE, and you guys on the blog keep changing reality… so then I try to re-write this installment… and you change reality again.  I’m behind, and I know it… so piss off.  Originally, this was intended to be an appeal for readers to submit new material for the Manifesto.  Then Andes, and Prasad started cranking out articles and I had to adjust.  And that article from Infinity was an excellent bolt out of the blue.  Bang!  Boom!  Doors flapping in the wind… Fresh air, and discourse.  Also, I’m going to throw out a preemptive acknowledgement to Vitreolum, because he also seems to “get” what I’m trying to say in this article.   What am I trying to say in this article?  Well, that’s in the article isn’t it!  What do you think this paragraph is called: The preview paragraph?  The introduction?  WRONG.  This is the namby pamby excuses paragraph.  You will find no real substance here fools!  So enough with all my disclaimers, qualifiers, and excuses.  Steel on target!  Fire for effect!

Keith and I agree on a lot of stuff, that’s why he lets me run my mouth so much here. But we disagree on some stylistic issues (like when Keith is WRONG for example).  For the most part though, we strike a harmonic cord.  And, many of you constant readers, seem to agree with us.  You are here because our tone, or our focus, or our slant appeals to your sensibilities.  So… we all agree on a lot of points and tend to downplay differences.  We agree with one another… a lot.

This climate of agreement or consensus is fine, wouldn’t you agree?

You are now entering the thesis paragraph.  Please pay attention.  While consensus is fine and good… it’s not the best, or most important, super ultimate goal in life.  In fact, consensus can be quite dangerous.  The desire for consensus can hurt dialogue, obscure important truths and in the Lego Hobby, it can curtail growth and inclusion.  We should guard against its seductive nature, and in fact, our hobby is best served by a culture that embraces not consensus, but rather which embraces the chaos of discourse and discord.  It’s true in much of life… but today I urge you to examine the hazard of placing consensus before discourse, as it applies to our Hobby, and specifically, right here, how it applies to our conduct on this blog.

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Now I don’t mean to dump on consensus here.  It’s not a vile or weak thing.  It’s not a “false virtue”. In fact, it’s a crucial and often lacking ingredient in any endeavor involving more than one person.  Consensus allows for participatory decision making, progress, unity, focus, team, commitment, sacrifice and lots of other cool stuff.  Consensus gets us past awkward issues like conflict, loss of face, embarrassment, and isolation.  Consensus gets “us” all into the same club house, and keeps the “them” outside, in the rain, with the zombies.  It puts the right sign on the door.  Consensus is inclusive and cozy. In the context of our hobby, consensus is essential for activities like conventions, LUGs, and even on line forums (what?  It’s both good and bad?  Is that possible?).  Consensus feels good, and so… we tend to seek it.  It’s not a crime.  It’s perfectly natural.  But “natural” is not a synonym for “best”.  Picking at your own scabs is natural, and what did our mamas tell us all about that?  Keith, sorry… your mama probably didn’t tell you… but don’t pick at your own scabs, it causes scarring

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Consensus is important, and the desire for it is very human.  It can be constructive.  But is can also be a seductive poison.  Consensus Poisoning (CP) happens when we value consensus to much.  When the need to be in agreement moves us to compromise our values or moves us to squelch the messages of others.  (no, I don’t think we do that on The Manifesto… but we easily could).   CP is an easy condition to deny, easy to ignore, and absolutely deadly to any forum concerned with the pursuit of truth.  We agree with everything we say, and we are doing all the talking… the perfect incubator for a raging case of CP.  El Manifesto may be a comfortable room full of comfortable people who are slowly and comfortably succumbing to CP.   Some of you may be thinking:  Consensus Poisoning?  Don’t you mean Groupthink?

Well, no… but almost!  Groupthink doesn’t quite fit here because The Manifesto is not really an organization that makes decisions.  Sure, every member of the reading audience is a decision maker, and sure… we would like to affect your decisions (editorial slant and what not).  But the decision making WITHIN El Manifesto is fairly autocratic.  Keith is the owner, chief editor, and El Alcalde.  Anybody else pretty much just offers opinions or recommendations.   Decisions about the blog might be made collectively from time to time, but only at the Alcalde’s sufferance.  So, no… I’m not really talking about Groupthink in the purest sense.  Although, it is a deadly and pervasive condition that affects many organizations and you should read all about it right here in this short concise article!

No, for our purpose today, let’s stick with our invented malady: Consensus Poisoning.  But let’s do take a look at two of symptoms of Groupthink I just stole from the above link:

  1. Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views.
  2. Self-censorship – Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed.

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As I said, Groupthink is more about “decision making”, as opposed to my focus today, which is “dialogue and Discourse”.  I highlight these two Groupthink symptoms, Pressure on dissenters and Self –censorship… because they overlap with CP and are the most relevant to what DOES happen on The Manifesto: Discussion.

Discussion is a mainstay of this blog.  Discussion, entertainment, and maybe a small slice of actual information or news… brought to us by our readers, mostly in support of goal #1, Discussion.  Most of us would agree (Yet again!  Cursed agreement!) that we do discuss LOTS of stuff here.  Brother, we got nothing if we aint got discussion!  So maybe… CP is not a threat here huh?  I mean, maybe we have a healthy climate of aggressive debate.  Open exchange of conflicting ideas… maybe CP isn’t really a thing here… Look at Prasad on the pen, and guys like Vitreolum keeping us honest.  Look at Infinity jumping in with both feet… Looks like we got CP beat… Wrong answer!

Because discussion itself is the beating heart of this otherwise ghetto little blog… we the citizen readers must be even more vigilant against CP than we would be other sites.  Other blogs show pics of new product.  They may have a fairly conformist culture, or a culture that dampens conversation… but so what?  You go to those sites to see pics of new product.  Once that’s done, that site has accomplished its mission.  But here?  If we lose the fragile guttering flame of discourse?  Then we have to join primitive man on a Quest For Fire!

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Remember, CP is like ground water around a dry basement.  Not a problem today, but always trying to seep in through tiny cracks… an ever present tendency.  I don’t complain about CP on El Manifesto right now, so much as I urge vigilance against complacency and the CP that follows right behind.  It’s a comforting belief that CP is not a threat on The Manifesto, but in reality, it’s always a threat.  And dismissing the threat, only increases the hazards likelihood exponentially.

I suppose the good news is that when CP is recognized (when, not if) it is easily treated.  TRUTH cures CP in a heartbeat.  Right now, I think The Manifesto is pretty good at truth.  I would give us a strong B, maybe an A minus in “Truth”.   We say lots of stuff, and then we talk about what we say.  Everybody has their say, and with a very few exceptions, people are not censured.  (but yeah… even we have to maintain a small, one cell “thought prison” for people who want to use El Manifesto as a platform for crazy talk.  Such is modern life).

So truth is an easy cure.  Truth is not found through the rapid establishment of a consensus. In our shared tendency to seek consensus, we often trample the truth!  Truth is not comfortable.  Truth is not the product of back slapping and “atta boy” rhetoric.  Truth is not always elegant or funny (but humor is one of truths favorite tools!).  Truth is not the BIG part.  Not the husk or the shell.  It’s the TINY part in the middle, the hard core.  A large group usually finds the truth through discourse (and discord!).  Argument, debate, even a little eye gouging at times… often reveals truths not initially known to either party when they started talking.

As I mentioned, Discourse (and Discord) is one of the corner stones of The Manifesto!

Discourse is something we seem to have lots of here on The Manifesto, but CP is an insipid toxin!  You don’t taste it, or smell it.  You don’t’ even feel it!  But you can PREVENT it.  In fact, ONLY YOU can prevent it!

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I wish many more readers would write stuff for this blog.  All credit to Simon, Ted, Achintya, and Infinity, your stuff is great!  Your insights, humor, candor… it’s the basic food stuff sold in the market place of ideas!  But I would like it if you guys were reduced from the excellent post of “Major Contributors” and relegated to the also cool but lesser post of “Trend Setters”.  I urge more readers to write stuff that you believe!  F popularity!  F common practice!  F the police!  Sting was better on his own!  Then spell check your stuff just like I never do… and send a draft to Keith.

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REALITY CHECK… BRACE FOR IMPACT… REALITY CHECK… BRACE FOR IMPACT…

Keith has to edit stuff.  He edits every word on this blog.  He has to!  He is responsible for every syllable that gets posted here, and he TAKES RESPONSIBILITY for the same.  Keith will edit, and that is good.  You think my spelling and punctuation are bad?  Foolish Samurai!  You have no idea how many juvenile errors Keith scrubs out of my shite before he puts it up!  So yes, Keith WILL edit your submissions… and yes, you WANT him to!

Second point: Don’t be an over sensitive Nancy about it!  He almost never hits the content.  Unless you’re going to try and post some crazy social, religious, political, gender, giant insect, or Mega Block extremist tripe… you’re inspired insights will survive the editing process!

So shut up and speak already!

Tortured artist… you people kill me… “Oh the Gods!  That blood stained editor has crushed the fragile flame of my thoughts under his jack booted right foot.  The horror!  The horror!… Think, re-think, write, and re-write already you filthy rabble!  Your thoughts contain truths… so share these truths already!  In fact, don’t just share them.  Impose them upon us!  Force your beliefs into our resisting minds with well-crafted arguments and persuasive examples!  Stick your truths into our brains as you would a bayonet into the chest of a remorseless invader!  If it’s the truth, it’s not an attack.  It’s badly needed aid!

You might ask about some administrative details at this point…

“What about the administrative details?”

Ah yes!  So glad you asked!

Write your article/essay/rant using your preferred program and send it to Keith through the contact form on this site, Flickr or Legomankeith@aol.com.  Include any pictures, videos or links you want embedded in the article.  No pics?  No problem!    Keith will pick some pictures for you!  (No!  How dumb are you?  You’re comfortable with Keith picking your pictures for you? It doesn’t end well!  What if he asks ME to pic the pics?  How do you think THAT will work out for you?)

So let’s summarize and ensure shared understanding by using a… using a… using a MISSION STATEMENT!   YES!

MISSION FOLLOWS:

WHO: Anyone except Matt rowntRee

WHAT: Writes an article for publication

WHEN: As soon as possible

WHERE: on El Manifesto

WHY: In order to fight Consensus Poisoning and support an ongoing search for TRUTH with discourse and discord!

Ah!  I thank that phantom Prometheus, who did steal the science of MISSION STATEMENTS from the blood-stained gods and who did then delivered it unto our unworthy and mortal hands.

I know that CP seems like a distant threat from where we stand right now.  We already have discourse, and discord.  We already have a pretty low threat environment.  We we we… lots of good stuff.  This place doesn’t suck ass.  I know that what I’m saying is counter intuitive.  Especially with the excellent new articles we just ran, and the excellent reader author point/counter point tradition we have established.  I got all that.  And I agree (yet again!  Ah the gods do mock me!).  But have a little respect!

Wait.  Respect?  I think we have that already… No, I don’t mean respect for one another.  I don’t mean respect for the people who are here, now, on this blog with you today.  I mean look back across the bow.  Look at the fleet of derelict vessels rotting at anchor behind us.  Blogs and LUGs and Web sites that were once busy, and are now empty and lifeless.  Why?  Why were they once mostly at mostly decent, and now totally dead?  Were they peopled by idiots?  Staffed entirely by morally weak or corrupt dullards who lacked vision and all succumbed to their own evil ways?  NO!  That is a stupid and simplistic assumption.  We should respect the people who built many of these groups.  We should respect what they built, and we should therefor “respect” the seriousness of whatever destroyed so many of them.  Respect for those who have gone before us is not just a romantic thing we say… there is a reason for it.  They built cool sites, and now many of their efforts have ground to a halt.  Respect the notion that these groups, or LUGs, or blogs succumbed to difficult challenges.  Many now dead sites were once banging joints!  Now silent.  Why?  What will stop us from the meeting the same insipid fate?  Not but our culture.  That’s what I mean when I say “have some respect”.  Respect the architects of now dead sites, and respect the serious nature of the threats that took them down and that stalk us even now.

Another angle.  El Manifesto seems to have a pretty good bead on discourse and discussion.  We do it, value it, and enjoy it.  OK.  True enough… as far as it goes.  But how many people in the hobby still don’t speak here?  Why not?  How many train heads?  Why not?  Castle heads?  Why not.  Bionicle folks?  How many people out there read this blog and still feel they can’t really “Open up and give those bellicose wind bags what for?”  I think we have established a tone (a pretty good tone actually) but… the stronger the tone gets, the more “Not any other tone” it becomes.  I like flavor and character.  I don’t want to write for a blog that is the Coors Beer of Lego Blogs (lacking in flavor, but generally inoffensive).  Character matters.  But while we enjoy it, let’s not forget the passive way it can “block” or “stymie” input from new comers.  Look at the number of first time comments we had in the wake of Infinities article.  Great!  But why only now?  Why are we not attracting more new commenters?  There is no ONE reason.  And I don’t say it IS BECAUSE OF this one thing… I only want us to remember the importance of celebrating new and contrarian perspectives, and the importance of trying to live up to an ideal of an open forum.  It’s hard to do, and easy to screw up.

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I think this is the vaguest FFE I have written yet.  It’s certainly proven to be the slipperiest topic to grab a hold of.  We are not yet suffering from CP.  In fact, right now, I think we have it on the run.  But I also don’t think we are so unique in this.  Things like tradition, convention, and “the way we do it here” are all notions that grow stronger over time.  They also contribute to CP.  I just wanted to try to get out ahead of it.  If you’re still reading at this point, then I have exceeded my expectations.  This entire article is more about a cautionary message than about identifying a current problem.  As I mentioned, the truth kept evolving as I tried to write this piece.  If I’m off the mark, I know I can count on some of you to sock it to me.  Poke my eye out with a stick, but I had to take a stab at this topic.  Orthodoxy, complacency, casual exclusion… the notions haunt me, maybe not because they are so vile and distant, but because they come so easily and so quickly.  If you think they’re not in your kit bag… I council another inventory.

I just want us all to think about where truth is found, and to celebrate the clash of ideas in the arena and the spectacle of influence achieved … over the soothing din of a harmonious banquet and the torpid stupor that follows… leading eventually to silence and the death of though.    Wow bummer!  I think I need to watch some more Monty Python or something… Geez.

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Think.

Re-think.

Write.

Re-write.

Submit.

Attack!

 

Please take a moment to self-assess your level of pain.

I was browsing through the seemingly never-ending catalogue of photos from last month’s BrickWorld Chicago, when I was stopped dead in my tracks by the intoxicating creature you see below.  She has the shoulders of a linebacker, the elegant hands of a Hebrew golem and the open-mouthed visage of a blow-up doll that loosely resembles the dreamy Lucius Malfoy.    For those of you not in the know, the subject matter is the current version of Captain Marvel / a.k.a. Miss Marvel, a.k.a. Carol Danvers, a second tier superhero from Marvel comics, not to be confused with the DC hero of the same name.

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Photo courtesy of John Tooker.

IowaLUG’s own Doug Kinney is the builder responsible for creating my next wife and I must give him some whole-hearted praise for not relying on the crutch of a metal frame, or resorting to glue.  Even if our pin-headed hero here enjoys some odd proportions and even stranger abdominal muscles, it’s all legit and Doug seems like a good dude who definitely succeeded in giving me a chuckle.  I’d argue that Captain Marvel here is much more entertaining and thought-provoking than the much ballyhooed artsy statues of Certified Lego Professional Nathan Sawaya Esquire.  I think Doug may be on to something here, re-inventing the full-size sculpture genre with non-traditional proportions and facial composition.  Think Superman with a beer-gut or Wolverine with spindly old-man legs.  If it’s not yet clear to new readers, I offer this kind of post in the spirit of good-natured ball-busting, and not mean-spirited attack (I’ll save that for another Brickworld-related post).  I doubt very much I could do as well as Doug managed.

The builder also clearly demonstrates that he’s got a sense of humor about the final product, as he apparently gave a well received presentation on the topic entitled: “Captain Marvel: Keeping It Together“, where he explained the challenges of creating a giant sculpture with no previous experience.  I wish I could have attended and asked Doug in person about the odd decision to put the trans-yellow letters in her palms and if he’d be willing to part with her.  From the official BrickWorld website:

How a glueless amateur kept it together. Doug Kinney will describe his trials and errors in building a life-size statue. This will be an in-depth look into how he keeps the statue together without using either glue or a metal skeleton.

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On the great LPAT scale (created by Brendan Powell Smith) I’m a solid 6 because this photo definitely interfered with my concentration to the point that I had to write this post in order to get some relief.  I’m also pained because I will unfortunately never know Captain Marvel’s impure caress in person.  I once took advantage of an Iron Man statue at a convention in Texas, but it was quite brief and unsatisfying and I’ve been looking to erase that memory.

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It has nothing to do with the sculpture, but I’d also like to mention the big IOWALUG standee next to Carol, that’s a slick piece of work!  It’s also a far cry from the basic banners that have been the norm for advertising LUGs at conventions.  It’s freaking huge!  It looks like something you’d see outside a shopping mall Optometrist’s office, advertising a free eye exam and two pair of frames for the price of one.  I thought it was my ticket to identifying the builder (who was not credited in the photo), but when I went to IOWALUG.com as the standee suggested, I was greeted with a redirect to a domain name sales website.  Apparently they changed the address to IowaLUG.org but obviously couldn’t change the standee.

So please take a moment to self-assess your level of pain in the comments.