WonderFest 2019

Posted June 9th, 2019 by Devin and filed in Modeling, Travel

Last weekend I attended the annual WonderFest sci-fi model show, in Louisville, KY. For those that have attended JerseyFest, now at the Newark Intl. Airport Marriot, during the fall, this is a somewhat similar show, yet much larger, and the break-down between ships/hardware and figures is about an even split (whereas the JerseyFest show is predominately figures). WonderFest set a record this year, it’s 30th, with over 800 models entered in the contest. The quality of work is amazing, and I was quite stunned to take away a bronze award for my USS Sentinel kit build. This year I also took part in a group build display, with the theme of Star Wars Concept Models. Each of us picked a Joe Johnston concept drawing and built a model based on it. My B-Wing wasn’t finished, but that didn’t stop me from taking it to the show as an in-progress.

The show’s dealer’s room is quite impressive as well, with at least 125 individual dealers, according to the show’s flyers, as well as personalities taking photos and signing autographs. The two conference rooms taken up by the dealers is easily 1.5 or 2 times the size of our usual MosquitoCon.

If anyone’s looking for an excuse to visit Louisville the weekend after Memorial Day, I highly recommend WonderFest. They have the date set for May 30-31st, 2020, with more information on their website: https://wonderfest.com/

I took photos, per my usual of not trying to get everything, just the stuff that really catches my eye, all of which have been posted HERE.

Wonderfest 2018

Posted June 9th, 2018 by Devin and filed in Modeling, Photography, Travel

Wonderfest is a sci-fi and fantasy model show that happens every year, just after Memorial Day, in Louisville, KY. This was my second year in attendance. Once again, the talent on display was amazing and humbling. I’ve posted my photos here:

http://njipms.zenfolio.com/p630515407

I’m already looking forward to next year.

 

2017 IPMS Nationals Photos

Posted August 1st, 2017 by Devin and filed in Modeling, Photography, Travel

I made the trek to Omaha, Nebraska, last week, to attend the 2017 International Plastic Modelers US National Conference. It was the first time in many years that I didn’t compete, but I did see plenty of fantastic work on the contest tables.  I’ve posted my photos here:

http://njipms.zenfolio.com/p610049940

The 2018 show will be in Phoenix, Arizona.

Save

Driving through History: Visits to the USS Monitor, Smithsonian Air, Richmond, Gettysburg and Brawner’s Farm

Posted July 6th, 2016 by Devin and filed in Civil War, History, Ironclads and Gunboats, Travel

2016-06-24 09.32.14

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” ― William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

William Faulkner famously struggled with the history of the South. Born and raised at a time when Civil War veterans still lived, he didn’t have to walk the battlefields at Gettysburg in order to be able to write his stirring piece on how those days in 1863 have never left us. But once the people who lived during significant events have passed into that same history, no longer to tell their stories, we have to find other ways to touch the past.

Recently, I was made aware that the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Virginia, the home of the restoration of the USS Monitor turret and other recovered artifacts, was giving tours of the facilities and the turret itself. See, the turret is kept in a tank filled with water the majority of the time, fresh water and a slight electrical current leech the accumulated salt from metal that spent 140 years on the bottom of the Atlantic. Once I heard of the tours, I made plans, borrowed a car, and drove south on a Thursday afternoon.

The USS Monitor had a short lifespan, yet was a truly revolutionary ship. After careful perusal, I can actually recommend the Wikipedia article on her as a good source for her history during the Civil War, and post recovery in 2002. I’ve read a lot about the Monitor during years of model building, general historical curiosity, and research for my New York Times pieces, so I was well versed in her past when I arrived at the museum on Friday morning. I was greeted by Hannah, who took me through the initial  Monitor related exhibits. These artifacts include, among many other items, a busted Dahlgren cannon fired from the CSS Virginia, and a full-sized partial depiction of the Virginia herself. Several preserved artifacts recovered from the Monitor’s wreck are displayed, the most impressive of which is the red signal lantern at the top of this entry. The red lantern, the distress signal the Monitor raised on New Years Eve in 1862, was the last thing anyone ever saw of her as she sank. 140 year later, it was also the first thing found of her wreck, spotted laying on the ocean floor, literally rolling in the sand and current, several hundred yards from Monitor herself. Continue Reading »

Writing on the Run

Posted March 23rd, 2015 by Devin and filed in Photography, Travel, Writing

devin and kristenWriting, and any art, is a ritual. Show up at the same time every day, sit at your desk or stand in your studio. Keep showing up and your muse will show up as well, and all will be right with the world.

But what happens when you or your muse get bored with the same ol’?

This is the third year that Kristen and I have done the Reboot Camp in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, with Michael Andreula. We came here for the work out, and work out we do. Every morning we’re up with the sunrise and do a full hour on the beach, punching and kicking with a group of other morning warriors, working with hand and knee pads, round house kicking in the surf, yoga stretches in the sand. Breakfast and decompress immediately after it all, and then it’s 10 a.m. and I’m in a hammock on a rooftop deck with a view of the Pacific, writing.

Something about the workout clears my mind, a sort of meditation. Regular meditation has never Continue Reading »

Tamarindo Monkeys

Posted February 19th, 2014 by Devin and filed in Travel

IMG_5147I always say I’m going to shoot more photos and video when in Costa Rica, but I always get caught up in the working out (Kristen and I take part in the ReBoot Camp Retreats) and the other activities and forget to do much of anything else.  I happened to have my camera the other morning as we were heading out, however, and caught this video of monkeys on the move.

Click the photo for the video.

Battle of Brawner Farm: August 28, 1862

Posted August 29th, 2012 by Devin and filed in Civil War, History, Iron Brigade, Travel, Uncategorized

Yesterday evening, August 28th, I sat on our deck in Hoboken, New Jersey, right before sunset.  I watched the sun sink below the horizon and thought about what was kicking off down in Virginia, 150 years ago.  The battle at Brawner Farm began just before sunset, at about 6 p.m. in 1862, but now with time zones and other factors, it was nearly 8 p.m. here by the time the sky had turned to a gradient of orange upwards to dark blue, and everyday objects replaced their hard lines with shadows.

Brawner Farm was the first battle for the Union unit known as The Iron Brigade, a unit I’ve developed a particular fondness for.  They didn’t have that name 150 years ago at Brawner Farm, though, not yet.  They’d earn that at the battle of South Mountain in less than a month.  On August 28th, they were known as the Black Hats.  The unit was made up of entirely “western” soldiers, men from Wisconsin and Indiana; the only brigade in the eastern theater to be made up so.  In order to further distinguish them, their commander John Gibbon outfit them in the regular army uniform of tall black hats, long blue frock coats, and even dress leggings.  Imagine going into battle wearing that.

The unit was formed in late 1861, Continue Reading »

The USS Arizona Memorial

Posted April 24th, 2012 by Devin and filed in History, Travel

When I was in the sixth grade and at a book fair, I chose a book based on its cover: a listing ship ablaze, black smoke in the sky, aircraft hurtling overhead. It intrigued me, to say the least. I didn’t realize it then, but I’d just selected my first book of many about WWII in the Pacific.  That book wasn’t about Pearl Harbor, and I’ve never been a big student of that particular battle for several reasons, but I’ve always known the Arizona Memorial was one of the few places that I could “be where it happened” for a WWII naval battle. And so, for most of my adult life — and for a good chunk of my childhood — I’ve looked forward to visiting the USS Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor.

We got to the memorial visitor’s center early, and even at 8 a.m., Continue Reading »

Hawaii in Words and Photos

Posted March 27th, 2012 by Devin and filed in Travel

It’s been nearly a month now since Kristen and I returned from our Hawaiian Honeymoon.  We are still in our post-Aloha depression.  It gets better day by day, the freakishly-warm weather we’ve had on the East Coast helps a bit, but it’s still taking some adjustment.

I took several hundred photos during the trip, and while I posted quite a few while we were there, there are still too many to post (and almost too many to sort!).  I’ve put up a page with a few dozen images that I picked for… well, I picked them for some reason.

We started our trip in Waikiki, because Continue Reading »

150 Years Ago Today: USS Monitor vs. CSS Virginia

Posted March 9th, 2012 by Devin and filed in Civil War, History, Ironclads and Gunboats, Travel

In a state-of-the-art museum and conservation lab in Newport News, Virginia, sit large tanks of fresh water that hold large rusting chunks of iron that are over 150 years old.  150 years isn’t a long time for some museum artifacts; in Manhattan one can visit the Metropolitan Museum and see Buddhist statues over 500 years old, then walk several yards down the hall and see mummies thousands of years old.  But the significance of the rusted iron from USS Monitor that rests in The Mariner’s Museum in Virginia isn’t in its age; it’s in the revolution that it brought.

The battle between USS Monitor and CSS Virginia 150 years ago today is one of the few naval battles, Continue Reading »