Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Terrain: Rocks and ruins, watertower and wire

I pulled my finger out last night, thanks to the film Aliens. I find it a joy to work to. So I popped that on in the background and got down to work. I had knocked up some asteroids from polystyrene foam ages ago, and now I finally painted them (Figs.1&5). There are three basic shades: ruddy iron ore, grey rock and brownish dust. Then I set to work on a big ruin that I found in the attic the other day (figs.2&3). I put it up there ages ago, because I had no sand, and quite forgot all about it. I've dabbed it with side and roof hatches, and sprinkled some sand on there, but I need to get some decorations to PVA onto the sides. Just a matter of looking through boxes of bits, that!

Next I made flesh an idea I had while working on my WWI/40K barbed wire the other week. I shan't link to Wikipedia to back this up, because they're down for the day, protesting some tyrannical American legislation (Come back, Colonies, all is forgiven. ;-) ). Erm, seriously, though, as I understand it barbed wire turns up in the American West, used to fence in large areas cheaply. So I fancied I'd turn my hand to replicating that kind of barbed wire, rather than the defensive structures of WWI. I had a spare piece about, into which I had long ago secured wood and foam. So I got some of the plastic mesh, and wound it round the bits of dowel at two heights, and once on either side (Figs.4&6). Whether this is strictly historically accurate or no, it gives a reasonable impression of the sort of barbed wire I see hereabouts. Having done so, I found a water tower I had delayed work on for want of PVA glue. I quickly fashioned some iron bindings for the wooden sides out of thin plasticard, glued on some rivets, and then secured some tissue paper atop the whole with diluted PVA (Fig.6). One of these days I must get back to painting a few figures rather than constantly making terrain!

Still, it's important to do what one loves. Speaking of which, I haven't been getting quite so much done of late, because I have been remedying my empty boxes of books by ticking off literary classics. Amazingly, some of these are turning out to be rather good in defiance of all the times I was ordered at school to enjoy a dull book! Then again, a thirty-one year old ain't the same as a teenager, so maybe my younger self was right at the time. No, that's unfair. I've read To Kill A Mockingbird, in which one character, Jem, is described thus, ""no tutorial system ever devised could stop him from getting at books". So let it be with Caesar, er, Pete! Delusions of grandeur. I have also begun Captain Corelli's Mandolin, which is - again - a rather good read thus far (about a hundred pages in of a total of 434).

It is a shame how certain didactic methods wreck reading for people. I've mentioned Mum's travails in school with The Wind in the Willows: having been told they would be reading it, she went home and read it, only to discover that they would spend the next term in an agony of slowly going through it. I was chatting to the lady at the Job Centre on Monday about it, and she confided in me how school had put her off Shakespeare. Hah! So it isn't just me who wanted to bash that Bard, I thought. I am no Jem, and some authors I am intensely wary of: John Steinbeck, Charles Dickens, Austen, the Brontes and the peerless Dan Brown.

Tolkien I am just about scared of by now. I have attempted to read the snore-fest that is Lord of the Rings about a dozen times now, the last time even soliciting a passage I was assured by a fan was intensely exciting (I think it was the escape from the Ring Wraiths at Weathertop and Frodo's instalment in that Elven City). I managed not to fall asleep, but I am now too frightened to reread The Hobbit (which I enjoyed as a little boy) lest it turns out that it is unreadably dull. I have fragmentary memories that it, too, contains Hobbits singing at least once a chapter. If ever I were to become a terrorist (rather unlikely, but bear with me), the Americans could quite easily torture me by giving me only that as a book. The films were good, though, albeit a bit long. Anyway, I have probably enraged half the readership now by attacking Tolkien's abilities and another quarter by saying how dreadful I find Shakespeare, so I shall quit while I'm behind, relying on the pics to restore my good favour in your hearts, gentle readers. Until next time!


  1. You know two things when I have misconstrued your first sentence as you having dislocated your finger instead of working.

    1) It's too damned early in the morning.
    2) Teaching kids is making me lose my mind.

    Steinbeck was intensely boring. Instead of doing a creative writing piece my English teacher wanted us to re-write it from a different character's perspective. I think she was surprised when most of us failed.

    Shakespeare's work that I have dealt with I enjoyed (R&J and Macbeth). Watching good adaptations as we were dealing with the text helps.

    Tolkein's work at times is bad. I know it was one of the first high fantasy tales that wasn't mythology, so he had no one to really bounce ideas off, but I wish he'd killed Tom Bombadil and made everyone have crap singing voices. GODS! I hated the songs!

  2. I'd better say it's only the second option, that way I can use your bad opinions of these writers as ammunition. ;-)

    Part of my problem with Steinbeck is the teacher who taught it, and him letting me be bullied incessantly, but a major part is just as you say: dull! Dull! Dull! I went from happily reading The Prisoner of Zenda to reading a story about a red pony dying. How to turn kids off literature is the sort of class that old fella ought to have been teaching!

    I just can't enjoy Macbeth. I recently tried to watch the version with Judi Dench and Ian McKellen, and just hated it. I agree in general about enjoying the plays when watching them as opposed to reading them. I saw two of Branagh's versions last year, and they were definitely worthy of my time.

    I do respect Tolkien's expenditure of effort, but I've always preferred C. S. Lewis of the two. No bloody songs for starters!

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