Daily Archives: May 11, 2012

A visit to the Marine Corps Museum at Quantico, VA

USMC Marine Corps OPD, Quantico, VA

Yesterday, we conducted an OPD (Opportunity for Personal Development) session at work. This is not always a lecture in a conference room about a dry technical topic; sometimes we go out on a field trip, as was the case today. Our destination was the US Marine Corps museum in Quantico, VA. If you have ever been heading North on I-95 at night just north of Fredericksburg, you can’t miss this signature structure, being a giant triangle with a big projecting bit sticking up in the sky. It’s impressive at night.

You can’t miss it.

The museum is a series of galleries roughly running in a semi-circle pattern around a large atrium with a few large scale dioramas in it. Here’s one:

A rather fanciful writer’s embellishment of the Okinawa landing Diorama in the atrium.

The Galleries off of the main atrium (the “Leatherneck Gallery”) follow a roughly historical order of precedence; starting with the origin of the Corps, early actions in the Revolutionary War and 1812, Mexican War and Civil War.

The artifacts in the Marine Corps museum are almost too numerous to mention; standouts for me were the 19th century armory items, such as the Maxim gun, the experimental boarding guns, swords of the early Marine Corps heroes, and the actual sledgehammer head from the assault on the Engine House at Harper’s Ferry!

The World War I section was great, including the much maligned King Armored Car, small arms and dioramas from the conflict, and some interactive video created by the museum staff.

As one might expect… the World War II Pacific section of this museum is the largest gallery by far, as befits a service that had such a huge impact on that theater of World War II. The standout exhibits for me were the actual Second Flag that was raised on Iwo Jima (the one that is featured in the classic flag raising photograph) and the memorial wall for the fallen at Iwo Jima. Alas, the Korean section was somewhat short and the Vietnam section was half bottle up for renovations, so we didn’t see much more. Thanks to Roger from the museum for showing us around!

SLIDE SHOW follows. If this doesn’t work, here is the DIRECT LINK to the show.


The First Tabletop Show hosted by Wil Wheaton

As I reported back in March 2012, Wil Wheaton has launched an internet review show in conjunction with Felicia Day dedicated to tabletop boardgaming called, appropriately, Tabletop. I just viewed the first episode– featuring Wheaton playing Days of Wonder’s SMALL WORLD with his guests. I really am enjoying this show (for now). Watching people play boardgames can be as interesting as watching paint dry sometimes, but in this instance the selection of players (two people I’ve never heard of and Grant Imahara from Myth Busters, plus the host) made the show successful. There’s a lot of smirking at the camera and witty bon mots with popular culture references thrown in, and in general, it’s pretty funny when it doesn’t seem forced. The real strength of the show is the slice of time Wheaton takes to explain the game in depth before the actual play session starts. I’ve seen a ton of Youtube boardgame reviews in my day, and most of them suffer from the same problem– the person conducting the review isn’t a professional, in-front-of-the-camera person, and is usually a little rattled. Wheaton, Imahara, and the other goons seemed comfortable and at ease in front of the camera and they conveyed the game to the audience nicely. Sometimes the humor is a bit.. well, forced. Most of my friends are smartasses and enjoy throwing out wisecracks during a game, but the volume level Wheaton uses for the in-game commentary made it seem like he was trying to add humor needlessly. Things that worked very well were the little stings with graphics here and there during the game that explained exactly what was going on and why a choice was being made. Very professional. I’m hoping the Days of Wonder folks showered Wil with gold pieces after this, as it’s a very effective commercial for SMALL WORLD.

As for the show, I liked it, I loved it, I could watch some more of it!  Keep up the good work, Wil Wheaton!  You’re doing good things.  I can’t see this show featuring games much MORE complicated, or longer, than Small World, but there’s definitely a niche for this kind of program out there.

Sylvester Stallone, Time Traveler and Pope Gregory IX fanboy

Hollywood’s Eternity Problem rages on. First we experienced Nicolas Cage, possible vampire. He denied it. Then we witnessed John Travolta, Time Traveler. No denials, which is sinister. Maybe time travel is possible at the Tom Cruise level of Scientology. Now, we are seeing tangible evidence that no less august a personage than Sly Stallone, star of Rocky, Rambo and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot!, has turned up back in the High Renaissance. Sharp eyed observers observed the inclusion of the brooding hunky actor in a fresco panel of a wall in the Apostolic palace in Rome, painted by no less than Raphael. The fresco, entitled “Pope Gregory IX approving the Vatical Decretal”, was part of a much larger decoration scheme thought to have been sketched out by the famed Renaissance painter and filled in by Lorenzo Lotto, a student of Raphael. Apparently Stallone borrowed Travolta’s time machine and took it much farther back than the Civil War, which appears to be the hangout for Hollywood these days. Given Pope Gregory’s high handed treatment of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick, could this be Sly’s sly way of affirming papal infallibility? The jury is still out! Observe the evidence:

Side by side comparison

You thought you could hide in the background, Sly!

I leave it to the readership as to whether Mr. Stallone followed the FIRST RULE OF TIME TRAVEL: be discrete, or you will change the past!!

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