Sunday 31 July 2011

Once more unto Ebay

I have still failed to win the lottery, so it's back to Ebay again to finance my deplorable habit of being present at friend's birthdays. I can't say I don't like being at friend's birthdays. Dan's last night was wonderful! Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket so my chance of winning will increase! Until then, tanks for the memory. Stormblade above, and below a Hellhammer, an experiment with Griffons: one in green and the other in yellow, which will do better? Then there's a Chimera or Salamander, a Forgeworld Bombard, a wee Banewolf and a kitbashed Leman Russ Annihilator.
The Chimera-cum-Salamander and the green Griffon are newly completed. It's a lamentable thing to be completing things solely for them to go to Ebay. That said, if any of my readers like this work, and would like to commission me to make them a bespoke vehicle, please do drop me a line! Auf wiedersehen!

Saturday 30 July 2011

Dreaming of you

An odd dream last night, which means it's like most of the dreams I remember. At first I was in my car, setting it up so that I could drive from the back-seat. I wanted to do some writing and reading during the drive, and this was easier back there without the steering wheel in the way. Don't ask how I'd have steered. No idea. The car somehow got itself started, and ignored my increasingly-pointless pressing of the brake-pedal. Stuck halfway between the front controls which didn't respond, and the back controls which I couldn't reach, I suddenly realised that my friend, Nathan, was in the back seat, and that I could get him to steer the thing. Unfortunately, I blocked his vision, and then we trundled onto an elevated motorway. Somehow we must have got out of this, because the scene shifted. I may have woken and fallen back to sleep.

Next, I was holidaying with friends, and we had to go to a hotel. On packing to leave it turned out that I must have stayed in the same room the previous year, as books I own in bags I recognised as mine were stored under the bed. Entrusting two or three bags to friends, I was about to follow them downstairs when a Greek girl began weeping. Rory McGrath, who was her brother, told me that she was weeping on account of their sister. The mother sat in a chair looking sad. We went outside onto a patio area, with a steeply-sloping unrailed roof. Rory ran down it, and flung himself off the building in a fit of despair. The girl, her mother and I hurried as fast as safety would permit after him.

By the time we got to the edge of the roof we could only see his body tumbling mannequin-like and lifeless across scrub and a small railway line. My attention was arrested momentarily by what appeared to be a portable toilet on railway wheels, somehow going up the track. It had no windows, so attempts to signal the driver to stop and help us look for Rory were in vain. Realising we would have to find a safe route to Rory, I outpaced the others, hastening back up the slope. I hurried downstairs, and then realised that I was in danger of missing my flight. In the dream this was far more important than checking on the health of Mr McGrath. Apologies for my callous unconscious mind, sir, on the off-chance that you're reading this.

So I rushed back up the spiral stairs, which seemed to be pressing down on me, allowing barely enough room to squeeze through. Unsure whether this was an illusion or a dream, I put my back into lifting the stairs, and they easily got out of my way. I over-stepped my target and reached the sixth or seventh floor (rooms labelled 6xx, note difference between US and British use), where Frankenstein's monster was working as a room cleaner. He recognised me as a fellow worker as we both were wearing fluorescent safety jackets. I started hurrying downstairs again, but woke up before reaching the airport or finding out if Rory was ok. I think either he was dead or it was an insurance scam.

Friday 29 July 2011

Giving in to the Dark Skies (sorry, Obi-Wan!)

Image hence.

I revel in bad puns, so expect no apology. You may recall the other week that one of the episodes I long ago recorded onto VHS was unwatchable. I wept and gnashed my teeth. My dentist tells me I shouldn't do that. Last night I resolved with sangfroid to let it pass me by. I would be as a rock in a stream. "Not breathing?" No, unbothered! Stop deliberately misunderstanding, you blackguard! I put aside the useless tape, and picked up the next one. It's useless too! It was always a problem with videos. Sometimes they'd just be dodgy, and then you were stuck with no sound or lines through the whole thing or something else designed to give you a migraine. We didn't have any of that fancy high-falutin' digital recording teck-know-low-ghee back in the '90s. Two episodes on that tape, so that's three I can't watch, plus a few I didn't record.

Bugger that for a game of soldiers. Er, no offence intended to wargamers or fans of anal sex, obviously. So in a moment of weakness I sent for the DVD. Knowledge will be mine in a few (business) days. The funny thing is that I mean to have a nostalgic weekend with some friends, contemporaries of mine, two of whom haven't heard of half the shows I remember, and quite possibly the others are just too shy of offending me to have mentioned it. My classmates at school did always say I watched too much TV. They may have been right.

Heh, of course they were. Nary a friend from school lived within miles of my house, so I just hung around indoors, getting fat, reading and watching TV. It's not too different today, except that I watch stuff on the PC as a rule. That said, I decided last week to watch an episode of Castle, since it contains Nathan Fillion, and was quite taken with it. So I'll be watching tonight's in a little under a quarter of an hour. The précis of tonight's episode is that some rich woman was murdered and then shoved inside her wall-safe.

Like the previous six, this victim was found folded neatly in place inside the glove compartment of a sanitation truck.

Am I about to watch an episode of a TV show based on a throw-away background gag from Hot Shots: Part Deux? Awesome! I'll let you know. Au revoir, mes amis!

Wednesday 27 July 2011


Yep, it's another day like yesterday. Hah! I deceive you, of course. An order turned up from 4D Modelshop, so I am now rich in plasticard. I went out to a small local shop and acquired some foamboard and more poly cement. The Post Office experienced a nationwide failure of its PIN machines, preventing pensioners from drawing their pensions and everyone else from paying for postage with their debit cards. That said, like yesterday I have been working on this and that. I have again been watching black and white comedies. I just concluded I'm All Right Jack, which had followed Private's Progress. It's tedious to apply this many rivets to that model and that many to this vehicle. Mais c'est necessaire! I assure you, mesdames et messieurs, that I speak the truth. Vraiment!

I babbled yesterday about how one should expose oneself to different authors, and I will very briefly expand on that. A relative of mine by marriage stowed away as a child on a Norwegian ship, where he remained for more than a year, apparently. I presume they had some unusual schedules or the Second World War interposed. On the ship only the captain spoke English, so he was compelled to learn Norwegian to have even a slightly normal life. There's something in that, you know. He was totally immersed in a foreign language, and picked it up. It directed his mind onto new and unexpected pathways. Travel, as the phrase goes, broadens the mind. You can broaden your mind with reading, expanding your mental horizons by means of the written word, but some things really are better experienced in full. A book can tell you of love, but it cannot make you feel all the right emotions.

"What the Hell has this got to do with a wargaming blog, you red-headed idiot?" Erm, good question albeit a little rude. A little rude? Very! "What do you think you're playing at?" Shall I extemporise a lie? Here we go. Mm, right. I have plasticard. I don't know if I can make anything of it until I cut, file and shape it, adorn it and make a simulacrum of a vehicle. The theory then meets up with the practice. This doesn't make the theory bad. It simply lacks completeness until it is tried. The British Admiral Jackie Fisher once declared "The best scale for an experiment is twelve inches to the foot." In short, make a test as realistic as it can be. With that I leave you. Be well, dear reader!

All that work gets in the way of work

I meant to sit down and begin writing something yesterday, but I had foolishly set my Ebay auctions all to end on the same day, so most of Monday was taken up with wrapping and posting parcels. The latter part was spent on a productive wargamery pursuit. I managed to knock out sufficient of those templates for six Chimera-type vehicles last night, and have spent this afternoon and evening detailing the sides. I finished a few more vehicles to a tabletop-standard, and will be sticking them and some other rather more nicely-done vehicles, including two supers, up on Ebay in a few days. I made an order for some more plasticard so I can get to work making ever more vehicles for this line of things.

Weather here is intolerable, so I slept outside last night, leading to a little bit of sunbathing this morning. When I remark on the terribleness of the weather, some readers may mistake this for me bewailing temperatures in the 30s or more on the Celsius scale. No, it's currently 23 on that gauge. I am not a hot weather individual, which means I lose a lot of my brainpower when temperatures rise. I always thought it was a particular cruelty that school (and university) end-of-year exams took place at the time of year that was both warmest and the hayfever season. "Take a boy at his stupidest, distracted by having to blow his nose every two minutes, and test his brain!" Tsk-tsk!

I chanced upon a cache of old films on Youtube, and have been distracting myself from applying rivets by applying my eyes (well, mainly ears) to a variety of black and white comedies from the thirties, forties and fifties. For some reason, doubtless nostalgia and distrust of novelty, one every so often runs into people who decry current films and their stars as dreadful. Indeed, my newspaper had just such a letter the other day, remarking how when the author was a lad (or little girl, I forget), that there were such actors and actresses that everyone went to see them. Brad Pitt and other modern luminaries seem to have passed that scribe by.

S/he also remarked on the quality of the films then as opposed to now. The handy thing about films from then is that the bad ones have vanished. Heck, even some of the good ones are AWOL. There's a similar lament often raised in music: "The '50s/'60s/'70s/'80s was the only true era of music! This stuff today is all manufactured rot! And these singers just remake songs!" Funnily enough, a cursory glance through the back-catalogues of singers will reveal half a dozen big names, Sinatra, say, reworking their contemporaries' warblings. The Beatles, to take another example, get a lot of praise, but nobody can honestly listen to Love Me Do and take it for more than the boy-band sap it is. I don't mind such froth. I've still got an S-Club 7 single in my car, though off-hand, despite listening to it on Saturday, I cannot recall its name. It's full of cheer and vigour rather than sound and fury, although it too signifies nothing.

Speaking of Shakespeare, the estimable Jane Horrocks recently gave an interview to The Radio Times in which she remarked on the Bard's inaccessibility. Some people have misconstrued this as criticism of old Billy. Last year I was reading Tristram Shandy, which is closer to our day than Shakey's plays and poems. It would be a silly person who didn't admit that language has changed over the course of a few centuries. I would recommend Sterne to anyone, as he's such an amusing writer, but I am forced to admit that linguistic changes can render him inaccessible. Happily, my edition contains a big crop of explanatory notes at the back. I've tried to battle my way through Marlowe before now, but my family's dated OUP edition is the text of his plays and nowt else. I gave up. If I want to translate French, Ancient Greek, Latin, German, Italian, &c, &c, I have dictionaries I can consult. These days there's the internet, but I admit I should feel odd tapping at keys then reading a sentence, then tapping again. But I could look puzzling words up. That's impractical with Marlowe. I have access to Dad's twenty-volume OED, but would you stumble back and forth with great books in your arms like that? I meant by reading Marlowe to improve my mind. Damned waste of time; but if I'd grabbed a volume whenever I didn't know a word, I'd probably still have arms like tree-trunks despite subsequent years of neglect.

Don't misunderstand me, please. When I wrote the other day that this business of being put off "classics" by incompetent schooling is a bad one, and that one should try to get over it, I meant it. But I don't think one should beat one's head against a wall for neither reward nor enjoyment. Hence these old films: their value is not derived simply from their age. There were bad films in the past, too, albeit perhaps not quite so tedious as Tomb Raider, to name something horrible from the last several years. No, their value derives from the script, the players' performances and so on. They have outlived their weaker brethren, but even then they might be inaccessible to a modern audience. Boys recording car number-plates? Whatever for? That's in at least two black and white British comedies, and is unthinkably dull to a kid with his X-Box nowadays. My father and his younger brother were taken by their mother to write down train numbers and models at the nearby railway station. So I, despite never doing so, can see the parallel. Will such awareness persist? Probably. Boys make lists even these days, I'm sure. Shakespeare might have Caesar waffling on about wanting fat men around him because Cassius has a lean and hungry look, and we can still get what he's driving at.

I must apologise. I've lost my train of thought. It might be the heat or it might be that I am just dull. Either way, fare well until next time, dear reader!

Sunday 24 July 2011

What a great weekend!

Let's pass over it being expensive now with a simple "Ow!" from my wallet, lying wounded on the bed. ;-) The important thing about money, I have always believed, is what using it can achieve, not just having it. Strange I never worked at a bank, eh?

Friday was the first incision, with an excursion to a Chinese restaurant and elsewhere for some secret planning and noble deeds. Then I picked up a new book by a favourite author - but not for myself, in a display of deplorable altruism. I singly failed to do something blogworthy when I spent an hour reading Graham Greene's The Quiet American. There must have been some reason they didn't give us this sort of interesting literature at school. Popped over to a friend's, then out in Newcastle-under-Lyme to celebrate Mo's birthday. Mo is a grand fella, but he nearly missed the evening after falling asleep at the end of a long day of work: a sure sign he is getting old. He's almost a year younger than I am, alarmingly!

Beer? Yes. Strange cocktails at Revolution (a vodka bar)? Yes. Something called a Strawberry Cheesecake? Yes. It was pink, liquid and had a strawberry on the side, so don't imagine we fed him a cake. Cider? Yes, when I saw Mo today, he remarked on how unpleasant was the hangover on Saturday, poor guy! I almost persuaded him to let me play "Have you met Mo?" This game will be familiar to fans of How I Met Your Mother, but not to anyone else. As I was on the verge, though, a mysterious stranger passed the window, and we recognised one another from back in school. We were just settling in to do a bit of a catch-up, but I had to dash when the birthday boy decided now was the time for curry. To be fair, it was about midnight at that point.

Nathan was advised by Mawbs to select an acari (I may be mis-spelling this, as when I hear the syllables, I think of this, not an Indian dish). This went badly awry, as it's apparently jolly hot. So he got some stick from another inebriate diner, whom he then challenged to eat his chilli. Said fellow having done so with no ill-effects, Nathan was profuse and charming in his praise. Still, this has rather undermined Nathan's image as our group's Dave Lister. Time to add chilli to everything to emerge victorious next time, perhaps.

I drove people home and got back myself a little after 2am. Needless to say, I got back this morning from the next night's excursion at about 2.30. Yes, while Mo was holding his head in his hands, B, N and I were off to celebrate Tammy's 25th in a very cool pub-cum-restaurant. I wasn't the only one to remark on the odd juxtaposition of celebrating life (a birthday party) while surrounded by the skulls of long-horned cattle. Still, there was vegan food and in copious quantities. I have worn larger trousers today in honour of that meal. Tammy's boss made the birthday cake, and it was a work of art. I shall try to get a picture up here of it. Edible "sushi bowls", edible "chopsticks" and other accoutrements: it was a visual Meisterwerk! Everyone eating it seemed to enjoy the taste, but I can only give a report of that at one remove for reasons mentioned long ago.

So back in the car, drop people off, then back up here again, and stumble into bed after 2am again. Sleep for six and a bit hours, then up for church. Last night's meal causes a slight contretemps to occur between my trousers' waistband and my waist, but the disagreement is smoothed over. I feel like Hercule Poirot in having such an attitude to my belly. Tsk! Back from church, change, to Festival Park, Hanley, where I find Mo and Mawbs. I was sure I'd be late, as we had agreed on 12.30, and I arrived at the rendezvous at 12.33. That I assumed they'd gone off already, and that they turned up at 12.38 tells you a lot about me. To Pizza Hut, in the end, cue cutting remarks: the menu includes a swankier section titled "If you're feeling a bit posh..." which all but demands the rejoinder "Then why are you at Pizza Hut?" Pulling the sting from such cruelty, I drew wide the door, and ushered the others within.

Did you know that you can have a wide-ranging conversation about horror films and their frightful contents in a family restaurant, with nobody the wiser and leave the kindly waitresses with the impression that you're sweet and nostalgic for youth. Well, nobody connected our discussion of the events of Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferox, Saw 2 (3?), and the frankly underwhelming The Fog (proscribed until my brother and I were both past eighteen by our perturbed parents, as it had so unnerved them. I can imagine that it could frighten people, but that is as far as I shall go. Anyway, we ended up discussing a nasty bit of business with barbed wire in the second of those pointless Human Centipede films, which we broke off on our waitress bringing the bill. We changed our topic of conversation to our intention to visit Toys 'R' Us to indulge in a little nostalgia.

You may be relieved to hear that our knowledge of that last film is divorced from having seen it or even having an inclination to. Then again, you might feel us frightful milksops for failing to push our faculties to some limit or other. My ex got very quiet and curled up after about ten minutes of American Psycho, which is a charmingly bonkers black comedy, so I cut that off, then I did the same to a friend's showing of one of those two Cannibal films above on humanitarian grounds. Not everyone is a fan of gore. What most upset me about one of those Cannibal flicks was not the impaled people, realistic though they were (my friend told me that an Italian court took the director to task for murdering his stars), but that some poor turtle or tortoise had been butchered alive during the filming. Poor creature. Give me an actress pretending to be impaled with hypodermic needles any day rather than real human monstrousness.

Anyway! We then adjourned to do a spot of bowling. I quite enjoy the sport, despite my poor eyesight. I have perfectly good vision, but I have inherited from my mother along with the good eye for detail a slight wonkiness of targeting which means I'm always a bit off. I have to aim slightly to the right of my target. I was on fine form this afternoon, with my corrective aiming sometimes working perfectly, and then again yielding gutter ball after gutter ball! You can safely surmise that I came third of three both times, with Mawbs and Mo each winning once. A spot of air-hockey took place between matches, when my aggressive style was remarked on after I had three times sent the puck flying off the table in the course of one game. Oops!

We then went next-door to the motion picture house, where we elected to see Horrible Bosses. This is a rather engaging film, which is probably in the mould of The Hangover - which I have not seen. Three friends decide they must kill their awful bosses, and eventually decide to kill each other's bosses so that there's no link. Everything goes wrong, needless to say, with "hilarious consequences". If you know anything of films, you're saying Strangers on a Train, which it takes the characters half an hour longer to say than it does the viewer. For people who get all their information about how to kill someone from those cop shows we see everywhere these days (CSI, Law and Order, &c, &c), they don't seem to have picked up everything those shows hammer home.

That's about as far as criticism can go. They skewer that source material with lines such as "Yeah, and semen. The solve most of those cases with semen: the silent killer." I'm not quoting verbatim, but you can pretend I am Doctor Watson if you wish. Jason Bateman is absolutely gorgeous, as is Jennifer Aniston with dark hair in the role of nymphomaniac boss. Kevin Spacey revels in his part as a diabolical monster of a boss. Foxx, as a "murder consultant" is utterly priceless, and Jason Sudeikis has a string of delightfully entertaining lines when he tries to speak to any black character. I'll steal a snippet from imdb to show that isn't the only stuff happening.

Detective Hagan: You wanna explain why you were speeding?
Nick Hendricks: I was drag racing.
Detective Hagan: In a Prius?
Nick Hendricks: I don't win a lot.

It's a very entertaining black comedy. Well, I found it so, as my mates can attest. Indeed, anyone in the cinema will probably mention "that bloke with the booming laugh". I'll stop now as otherwise I'll just turn this into an overlong film review. Suffice to say that jokes in terrible taste will dominate our conversation for some time to come. With the suggestion you watch that film on my lips (er, fingers?), I promise to suggest something less diabolical in future! Until next time, dear readers, be well.

Thursday 21 July 2011

Initial Thoughts on an Apocalyptic Scenario: Hold the Line!

Gunfire deafening the men, shells scooping new holes out of the landscape, steel and death in every direction: all the fun of Warhammer 40K! I have recently returned to working on a trench board. I have a little work to do on two others, but this one is the least advanced. Once complete, I shall have twelve feet of trench (each board is 4' by 2'), and I want to do something to mark this event. What better than an Apocalypse battle? Here is my thinking thus far.

The three boards will be manned mainly by infantry. The central board has two turret emplacements, in which I mean to mount Vanquishers for their AT capabilities. There is also a central bunker on this board, where I will probably locate my command unit. I think that there's scope for some special rules (perhaps based around the Imperial Guard's "Orders" system) for so long as this bunker remains intact. Given it will be the focus of a lot of enemy heavy firepower. I intend to have a 12' by 6' table, with assorted Imperial bunkers, razor-wire nests, ruins, shell blasted woods and so on filling in a lot of space. I'll decide details closer to the time. I'm a great fan of scenery, so I'll have to get someone to twist my arm and remind me that in Apocalypse too much scenery impedes the flow of the game greatly.

Am I getting ahead of myself? What do I want to see? Well, I'd like to recreate the sort of thing one saw in the Great War: an assault by elite men (and tanks) on a heavily-defended trench-line, with both sides supported by copious artillery resources. As Baldrick would put it: "Boom, boom, boom." Lots of explosions, deformable terrain, plastic (and resin and metal) carnage. So let's grab some books and peer at 'em, eh?

The Apocalypse book suggests 8' wide battlefields, which I assume is because all GW employees are gargantuan behemoths as tall as fully-armoured Space Marines. Those of us of more modest height can cope with about 6'. So that comes to about 7,000-8,000 points on either side. Now onto Strategic Assets: Obstacles: yes, Tunnels: quite possibly. I have modelled tunnels onto the trench boards. Now, the command bunker: we want this to have longevity, so Supreme Headquarters and Shield Generator are both good choices. Anti-Plant Barrage could be a good idea for the attacker, if I can't restrain my terrain-planting instincts! Blind Barrage, Orbital Bombardment, Precision Strike and Scheduled Bombardment are all great choices to represent the firing of heavy artillery from off the table. How about Apocalypse Reload? Anything good in there? The Lord Castellan's Supreme Command is a possibility, and the Imperial Shield Infantry Company, with its predilection for calling down fire on itself, is all but a certainty. The Strongholds, Defence Line and On My Coordinates! assets. It's worth noting that the LCSS and ISIC include strategic assets in the purchase price of the formations.

So here we have a broad range of assets to choose from. There are also rules in one of the Imperial Armour books for off-table artillery fire, but we can look into that later on. If we say 8,000 points and 3-4 players a side, we'll have a nice speedy game, and one of each side's players can even serve as a C-in-C without being too distracted. I think we're getting an idea now of how to mesh things together. If we pop Creed and his merry men in and around the central command bunker, an ISIC in the trench-line proper, then we can spend the 4 points on buying 12' of Defence Lines or Obstacles. We'll blur the lines here, and give the IG another 8' of razor-wire, but allow them only a single bunker. So there's the defender dealt with. Broadly speaking.

What about the attacker? Well, he gets 4 points to spend on Strategic Assets, and he should want to soften up the defender and advance across No-Man's Land taking the smallest number of casualties. So Blind Barrage and Scheduled Bombardment are the two obvious choices. We'll leave the other two spots open so he and his sub-commanders can flavour their army, be it Tyranids or Marines, Dark Eldar or Orks. Let's sum up.

7,000 points

Imperial Shield Infantry Company (modified to reflect current IG codex)
Lord Castellan's Supreme Command
Strategic Assets:
Defence Lines (12')
Razor-wire (4' covering frontage of the central trench board, and 4' available for deployment elsewhere)

8,000 points
Strategic Assets:
Blind Barrage
Scheduled Bombardment
2 more assets may be selected

Appearance of the Table:
While a moon-surface is visually appealing, it is a nightmare to drive vehicles across. In defence of the players' sanity, let's say there can only be 4 craters or so (the contents of one GW box), scattered across the table. We should have a wood (say 12" by 12") located either at the edge of the board or centrally. It should be at least 18" from the trench-line for reasons of basic common sense. Then again, the Imperium is suffused with idiots, so if you fancy saying they have an officer dumb enough to build a trench that is right near handy cover for any attackers, I really can't gainsay you! ;-) A piece of high ground should stretch along part of the table. It will serve to give cover to one flank of the attackers and it even sits thematically with the defenders deploying behind it in a reverse slope position: one that protects them from direct fire enemy weaponry. We have a small wood, a few craters, and a hill or two, all of which should provide a little cover for both sides without making it a hair-tearing experience for a 'gamer to move his models. A few more things can be added here and there, but this seems a pretty good basis for an initial layout.

I shall return to this by and by, dear reader. Until next time!

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Building a better world: Chimera scratchbuilding

Well, building a somewhat different Chimera, anyway. First don't catch your hare as it's unkind to animals. But do set asides the materials you will need: a pencil, a sharp blade, 2mm thick plasticard, 0.5mm thick plasticard, glue (poly cement) and a ruler or two. I have an aluminium ruler on which I can read the markings, but which is too soft to use when cutting, and a dreary steel ruler, which is sturdy but marked with invisible darknesses. So you have your ruler(s), knife, glue and plasticards. Click on a photo if you wish to see it at full resolution.

Of the 2mm thick plasticard take a piece 115mm by 40mm, and mark it as above. Then take a piece of 0.5mm plasticard (230 by 20mm) and mark it as follows.

Return to your 2mm thick plasticard, and cut along the lines you made before. Then use a file or sandpaper to smooth the edges. Place this rounded piece atop the 0.5mm plasticard so.

Trace with a pencil around the edges so.

Take another piece of 0.5mm plasticard, and measure a space 15 by 20mm. Make two such pieces. These will be the side hatches.

Carefully cut the 0.5mm plasticard to fit onto the 2mm plasticard as shown in the picture above.The circles are of 0.5mm plasticard and made with a hole-punch. Decorate with rivets, handles,
hinges as desired.

I hope this has been handily didactic, but if not, please let me know so I can edit it suitably! Until next time, beloved readers!

P.S. If you have yet to see them, I have recently made posts concerning my disposing of some doodahs on Ebay: here and also here.

Monday 18 July 2011

Philistine! O uncultured lout! Procul este, o profani!

I needed to go to Manchester today, and the reason is exciting and glorious to recount. No, it isn't, but did you momentarily take me for a millionaire  spelunker and basejumper? More fool you. Anyway, I was having lunch. Alone. Cue violins and mourners. So I had a potter round Blackwell's bookstore and picked out Graham Greene, The Quiet American. I was drawn to Greene as last week I discovered a quartet of his works (Our Man in Havana, Brighton Rock, Travels with my Aunt and The Honorary Consul adorning a bookshelf downstairs), and happily chanced on the first, which is an utter delight - making me more tolerant of his depression-riddled other works. It turns out Dad just picked these things up in '83, and they've been an unread adornment on the wood ever since. I knew we had books nobody else would read: I have my Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, Dad has histories of the LNWR and Mum has genealogical thingummies, but I didn't know we had unread books in the house.

Why hadn't I spotted this before? Well, there's the origin of the title. Back in school my teachers worthily introduced us to classic literature, and I spent nigh on twenty years too shell-shocked and appalled to approach anything bearing such a title again. I confined myself to interesting stories: The Prisoner of Zenda, Midshipman's Hope, and far too many of Clive Cussler's stories, which are almost all precisely the same as every other book he's written. I would compare him to Dan Brown, but Dan Brown is so dire I gave up after a chapter of . . . that thing with Mary Magdalene. That brings me back to classic literature in school: Charles Dickens' Great Expectations was the first book I gave up on. The characters didn't interest me. The story bored me. magwitch? Joe whatsisname? Miss Stella? Yeah, whatever. Then we has old Bill Shakespeare. I think most of my readers will have been through school. There is probably something to be said for Bill when he is undertaken by proper actors. They appreciate the rhythm of his words, his innovative use of language and can add their own flavour to things. When one is sat behind a table on a rickety stool, then the only thing appealing about Shakey is faffing about with his language. Analysing it for this or that is no joy.

To cut a long story short "Too late!" I was driven off "classic literature" as surely as children whose priests rant about hellfire are driven off Christianity. It wasn't a subject worth my time, because it didn't deserve my time. So I thought. I had the occasional moment of self-doubt. Well, I've spent twenty years in depression, riddled with self-doubt, so let's say I sometimes felt that I should give it a go in the hope of self-improvement. Maybe I would go from caterpillar to butterfly. Reader, don't try to do that with an outdated OUP edition of Marlowe's plays which lacks any notes at all. "What's that mean? Who's this guy? Why should I care?" I got that from the bookshelf downstairs, too. Sometimes I wouldn't give something a fair chance. I think Jane Austen (at whose tedious work I had a stab last summer) got short shrift when, twenty pages in, I could see how something could be funny if I had someone else's sense of humour. No, I do myself down. Jane Austen could be funny if I had Dad's sense of humour, say, but he enjoys Aristophanes, so mm.

"Aristophanes? Pete, are you subtly hinting that you know Literary Classics which are of the Classical World and not from the last few centuries?" I guess, but the problems there are similar to those with Bill Shakin' Stevens, uh, Shakespeare. "This is a marvellous passage! See how he used the metre to blah! And this use of language is blah-blah! But even better, have you seen the blah-blah-blah?" The only time I've appreciated The Aeneid was in a final exam when suddenly a beautiful passage of Latin just burst splendidly into my mind's eye. I don't generally get that from verse, although Sappho and Plath have both got themselves into my head. Aristophanes may be the Spitting Image of the Ancient World (The Onion, if you're an American, and my apologies for failing to provide more kinda contemporary references to my other readers), but I just don't get that much humour out of a guy shitting on the floor in the middle of the street, regardless of the context. Apologies to my more delicate readers for the language, but it's apposite.

So where are we? I've beaten back boring attempts to mould me into some sort of literary apostle. I recall an English teacher (the best of them all, in fact) irritably taking me from the classroom to a sixth-form room, interrupting their lesson and making me read a poem off a wall, and it having no impact on me. At the time. I subsequently realised that my position that poems must rhyme was silly. Good work, Mr Martin! I still haven't got on board with the idea that poems need no metre, though. Give me another few decades to accept such un-Classical blasphemy. ;-) So verse I have beaten back. Prose I have denounced. The story I have embraced. I still do. That's how Graham Greene has got his claws into me.

He has not told me I must like this example of synecdoche nor that use of inverted commas to signify disdain. But nor is he vacuous like Dan Brown. There is a story. It can be appreciated just as it is, and it is like an onion, possessed of more layers. Peel off this layer and there's another. Given the author's bipolar, one might say that it's also like an onion insofar as it can make you cry. But there's a story. There are characters, flawed, incontrovertibly human and they ain't done gone been a speakin' funny. This is a problem with any verse production: t'aint natural. If I slip sibilants singly or severally into sentences it sounds deliberate. If I say/That I may/Make some hay/With your day, it sounds artificial. I don't think this is evil or bad, but it ain't me, and it don't appeal, padre. I want a tale, told not by an idiot but an equal or better, and by all means let it be full of sound and fury, but let it signify something. Ted doesn't have to get the girl, nor does Barney have to inveigle Lily into his schemes, but let there be interest. If you re-wrote The Prisoner of Zenda with Prince Michael victorious, you would have an estimable work, and one I'd read!

So where does this leave us? "We have well-written and dreadfully-written books that Pete hates, and well-written and dreadfully-written books that he loves. That's unhelpful. Surely I should say you only can read Defoe or Tacitus and must put aside Thucydides and Shakespeare." Thing is, I like bits of Shakespeare . . . now I don't have to. You can too, or whichever author they told you that you must love, but who shat indecorously in your eyes and ears. When it comes to authors, don't give all your attention to your teachers, for they only know their own loves and mechanical, technical ones which remark on rhythm and cover Colonial colloquialisms. If you want to cover Colonial colloquialisms, do! but don't let your officers order you into the No-Man's land of Literature. Don't get gunned-down by the maxims of criticism.

I mentioned My Little Pony the other week, and I feel I should man my Maxim say that if you're of a certain age, you really shouldn't be watching it. I mean . . . I can see myself settling down to watch Count Duckula or something likewise frivolous. But I cannot see me sitting through a whole half hour of it, unless I am particularly drunk. I've had my childhood, and I don't need it back. I'm here now, and what I have here is what I want. If you're thirty and want an ice cream, ok, but if you demand CBeebies, you may be peculiar. So go out and find what you want to read or see or do. Do it all, if you can! But, er, if you find yourself watching rainbow-splayed unicorns, you may be on the wrong path. That said, I do have a slight desire to watch Dangermouse now. He's got the suaveness of Bond, but he's an one-eyed mouse. David Jason voiced everything back in the day, it seems.

Anyway, dear reader, my apologies for not posting the hoped-for description of how to make the sides of vehicles. Dad's on the PC downstairs, and my brother, Niall, will no doubt shortly nab it to fiddle with stocks and shares. He's been giving me black looks all evening on account of my Mancunian Excursion earlier today. I believe he will be out tomorrow morning, however (why do I sound like that red-headed sexagenarian on The Weakest Link?), so I should be able to post it then. I mean also to append some pictures of my most recently completed vehicles! So until then, perspicacious and delectable reader - (TJ, forgive me for stealing your calling card, please. It has so firmly welded itself to my brain that I had not realised until now that I was so doing.) - fare you well!

P.S. if you've missed my Ebaying thus far, this post and this one contain all the doodahs I am sadly selling. Sequential sibilants - see! Sorry situation, soldier.

Sunday 17 July 2011

Ebaying again

I'm getting rid of a wealth of things today. Let me reassure anyone who is worried that I must have got rid of everything, that I have not, and that I will still be collecting and making 40K stuff. I retain dozens of vehicles and over 200 hundred infantry. I'm just being compelled by force of circumstance to trim things a bit! I hope that reassures you! Anyway, here's what's gone up today. Given the kerfuffle I had with pictures last time, I'll append them after the list. FW Annihilator turret, modified Basilisk, FW Bombard, a pair of Chimeras, two FW Conqueror turrets, a modified Hellhound, two FW Eradicator turrets, a Salamander Command vehicle, a stretched Chimera, a towing vehicle, and wheeled transport/support vehicle, two Vanquisher turrets, a scratchbuilt/kitbashed Leman Russ and some Fantasy Reiksguard. Phew!

Right, my next post, I hope, will be on the precise dimensions for making the sides of the Sallies I was making the other day. I have most of the photos I need, and just need to arrange them properly. Until then, dear reader!

Friday 15 July 2011

Warhammer Empire Insurance Salesman

 This image is not mine. I found it here.
I haven't posted for a few days, for which I make no apology, as my great-aunt's been visiting us. We've had a nice time strolling round some local stately homes and high streets. But that is not what I wish to speak of to you today. Before I go any further, let me remind you of my Ebay sales. Right, now those of you not enamoured of toilet humour may want to stop reading right away, as the following is very silly.

I haven't played Warhammer (as opposed to 40K) since I was a teenager, but bubbles occasionally burst on the surface of my mind. For some reason that errant thought today was about flying creatures. Orcs and Goblins have their wyverns, dragons are good for everyone, griffons here, pegasi there, great eagles are over in the woods.If I remember properly, there's even a zoo in Altdorf where assorted monstrosities live, such as the Emperor's griffon, Whatsisname the Half-Fluffy. Yeah, my memory isn't that extensive. Anyway, there's a fair number of flying beasties both roaming about wild and in private menageries. My mate brought this to mind by pointing out to me how annoying seagulls can be with their droppings. How much worse it must be when the creature's as big as a horse.

Think of blue ice from aeroplanes. Granted, magical beasties may have a lower flight ceiling, but I have heard that dropping a penny off the Eiffel Tower is enough to kill some person stood at its foot. Be that as it may, it would give you a hell of a ding. Now imagine some flying beast the size of an elephant has voided its bowels above you. This sort of thing is not to be taken lightly! That sort of load could demolish a roof or mangle a man. Or at least generate a Back to the Future reference as Baron Biff von Tannen screams his rage at the blue . . . through the brown.

But if a peasant dies in Bretonnia, the local lord doesn't really mind too much. He would be in a bit of a situation if he demolished the roof of the local shrine to the Lady. The Empire has its aristocrats, too, but it also has merchants. Grand men who travel here and there, or who sit still and send their subordinates to take wool or bring brass. You can't risk the sort of damage flying monsters can do to your precious load, so it's probable that - if insurance exists at all - it covers "the sky falling on one's head". If you live in a city, it's probably still wise to take out a policy. There's a gap in the market for a short story about an insurance salesman warning people of the dangers. "Did you know, my lord, that you are seventeen times more likely to be slain by plummeting excrement than by marauding goblins? I have the figures in my bag."

Of course, it isn't all bad. There are potential benefits to agriculture. Although one has to weigh the benefit of more manure against it crashing into your wheatfield at a speed of ten metres a second. I fancy that might damage the crop. Of course, nobody would ever assume crop circles to be of alien origin in the Warhammer Fantasy world, as they are probably accustomed to all sorts of patterns, such as an exclamation mark, say. Another possible benefit is in warfare. There is surely room in Warhammer Fantasy to expand the rules to cover feeding laxatives to winged creatures, giving them the option to launch a "bombing run", but carrying negative impacts on their WS or whatever. I know I don't feel at full strength when I'm hit by such things! Though I have to admit that I'm just a human, not a flying feathered fiction.

If you have read this far and are dismayed at the toilet humour thus far displayed, I did warn you right at the start! So, naughty reader who is unshocked at all this, ah, filth, I leave you with a short ditty composed by my mate (his blog is here) which can be sung to the tune of Where the Buffalo Roam. The next update should cover making stuff for vehicles in some more detail. Until then farewell!

Alone on my own,
Where the pegasi roam,
Dropping s**t that could kill a bear,
I'm so happy, you see,
For protecting me
Is Altdorf travelling Merchant Insurance care!

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Ebay 2: once more unto the breach!

Yes, it's that sad time again, when beautiful things fly the roost for new homes. This model is a converted Chimera, one of the old models, with a Vulcan Mega-Bolter (left over from a Shadowsword kit) placed in a turret which can rotate. The gun swings up and down, so you can aim the thing and make machine gun noises as you fire it. :-D She's only been in the one battle, in which she did really badly, with one noteworthy turn of shooting netting a grand total of no hits whatsoever out of the fifteen dice rolled. Don't blame her, blame me. My rolling's notoriously dire! Anyway, she's gone up on Ebay as a vehicle either of experimental Adeptus Mechanicus design - hence all those red bits and AM/Ad Mech pieces, or as an alternative to a Hydra. If you fancy checking her out, she's listed here. I hope she goes to a home where the gamer's better at hitting stuff than I am! :-D

As well as her, I've also put up a Forgeworld Laser Destroyer which has had a coat of paint and some chipping applied, but isn't finished. That said, the starting price is half that of the model bought fresh from Forgeworld, so I flatter myself she's not a bad deal! Plus you don't have to fear the dreaded Forgeworld mould release agent of doom! Too many exclamation marks, Pete. Calm down. The Laser Destroyer can be found here. I've also put up another of my handmade Griffon mortars. The last one went well, but it was in a more traditional colour scheme. Let's see if yellow goes down so well as green did. She can be found here. Then there are a couple of part-painted kitbashed vehicles using some of Forgeworld's expanded range of vehicle designs: a Salamander Recon vehicle here and a Thunderer here. Lastly, a couple of oddities are on the menu. Who remembers those old single-pose plastics GW used to do? Yup, I've dug up from history 111 Dwarves and 99 Halberdiers.
 Neither compares to the range of poses available today, and it would be foolish to pretend otherwise. That said, you can get a whole army out of each of these things for a pittance compared to GW's current prices. In these times of economic annoyance, it's handy to be able to field five OOP units for the cost of one new one. Or maybe that's just me going mad! Anyway, enjoy some pictures, dear reader!


111 Dwarves:
99 Halberdiers:


Thunderer and Laser Destroyer:

Heaven knows why the formatting has gone crazy. I see no immediate fix for it. Maybe the models are taking their revenge by magically interfering with the PC. Maybe.

Monday 11 July 2011

Wonderful Lemons and Things!

It's easy, if you're inclined to depression, as I have long been, to slip into a downward spiral, to feel a bit glum and find yourself even glummer an hour, a day, a week later. I've been accustomed to this for years piled on years. Shaking it off is something I am not yet properly accustomed to. For as long as I can recall, when I have felt sad, I have stayed sad, and no forced jollity on my part has brought me out of such a funk. If I have had a friend or two about, it has sometimes a world of difference. Then again, it has sometimes made no impact on my shabby shell of despair. I've just stayed downcast.

Back in January/February, I saw a therapist. I'd been to see therapists before. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is highly praised and well-regarded, and on it I squandered several thousand pounds. Although the NHS will pay for pretty much anything reasonable, there's a waiting list, and half a decade ago I skipped the waiting list, because I spent the majority of every day wishing myself dead. Life really didn't seem worth living. It's arguable that at the time it really wasn't. This isn't self-pity. I'm not going to reveal I lost all my limbs and my tongue fell out for a period in 2005-6, leaving me questioning the meaning of life until the lost bits mysteriously regrew. I was just a black hole. This and that would cheer me, but for about half a decade I'd look back on half a year, say, and be able to think of just a day or two of happiness. I didn't want to get better, and CBT was useless to me for just that reason.

Why get better when I didn't want to be alive, let alone happy? It was just a waste of time. The sole reason to stay alive was because friends and family would be upset if I were to off myself. In short: it was a very bleak period. Then at the start of this year, still mired in depression, I slid quite by chance to a form of therapy I had always discounted: hypnotherapy. I didn't want to get better, but I felt I owed it to my family and friends to give it a go. I expected yet another failure. I was surprised. Not only did my therapist not use hypnotherapy at first, but EFT (Emotional Freedom Therapy), but it worked.

EFT, as I discovered before I went off to the first session, is related to that Eastern kerjigger that sees people poked with needles. Rather than being jabbed, though, EFT just involves tapping a series of bits of oneself. Whether this channels Chi or is a rhythmic repetitive pattern which blah, blah, blah, who cares? The point is that it worked. I went into that session twrrified of strangers, doomy-gloomy, riddled with self-doubt and all sorts of other rotten things. I came out a lot healthier. Granted, I didn't become Superman. In fact, the following Friday my appendix went boom, and torpedoed my newly-made plans to find a job, &c, &c.

But ever since then I have been able to silence - for the first time in maybe twenty years - that black dog of depression, as Winston Churchill called it. Things still get me down, and setbacks still occur, but they don't reduce me to a sobbing puddle in a corner, pulling books onto myself. No points for deducing that that once happened, contestant! Yes, I still have no job. Yes, I am reduced to selling off my prized wargaming possessions, so long and so jealously guarded. On which note, be ready for another spatter of Ebaying tomorrow. Yes, things could be better. But just before I started this article, I ambled to an adjacent room, where I have laid out several such possessions on a spare bed. I was quite down.

I'd recently wrested control of my finances back from my brother, and had my finances well in hand. He had laid out exactingly what I could spend this month, and my Ebaying had ensured I would meet the financial limits and have money left over. Well, why was I upset? Because yesterday he remarked I would be able to pay off my credit card bill this month. He hadn't mentioned it in my list of things to think of. I hadn't thought of it. In a moment all my precise and perfect financial considerations were smashed. I spent a fraught 30 hours or so collecting more things to sell on Ebay, and hurrying on another private sale. I had been riding high, then suddenly my horse had been shot from under me.

I finalised the private sale, and the items I mean to dispose of on Ebay will cover amply the credit card bill. But I didn't feel any better. I'm not used to feeling better. I felt that I had been beaten down, and I felt it deeply. So what happened? I went in high dudgeon and gazed at the things on the bed, and told myself to cheer up. Not in quite that tone nor with those exact words, and even quite falsely. Why would I cheer up now when I don't cheer up that easily? Then I cheered up.

I cheered up because of that therapy. It opened my eyes to the fact that although this, that and the other are against me, although I don't have x, y and z, I do have determination, confidence and the certainty of happiness and victory ahead of me. It's a crazy feeling, you know, to spend two damned decades feeling low for the most piffling of reasons, to spend that long never feeling chipper when someone gives you a good reason to, even to spend hours sobbing into your fiancee's arms, not even knowing why you're crying beyond the simple "I feel sad", and then suddenly to come into some bright upland and be able to cheer up with just an inclination to!

This explains a lot about people I had formerly taken for insensitive, heartless sods. They'd say "Oh, cheer up!" "It could be worse!" or "Why doesn't he just make himself feel better?" They've clearly had this mindset all along, and had no conception that anyone could be so thoroughly emotionally broken as to be the sort of man I was. Lucky beggars! :-D So where am I now? Well, I don't know. My latest job applications have resulted in a polite rejection and a rude failure to get back in touch with me and even indicate one way or another. I don't know how much money all this Ebaying will raise, and I am bloody suspicious lest it turns out my brother's going to have some other damned secret amount of money I must pay! :-D In all honesty, I really don't think it occurred to him any more than it did to me. But then what else might there be that neither of us has remembered?

In short, where am I financially? God knows. I don't. I have all my spending for this month itemised and broken down. I have my income likewise regimented on paper. Will some secret problem rear its head and smash my walls down? Maybe. But maybe nothing bad will happen, my Ebaying will go brilliantly, and I shall acquire enough money to be able to afford to go on holiday in October. Frankly, that would be great. That's what I will strive toward for now. If I get a job, then excellent! Sure, it'll torpedo October, but it'll shower me in riches. Well, to a degree! But if I don't get a job, and I raise plenty of money, then October is on. So whether I am compelled to sell most of my 40K collection or I am stopped from holidaying, some good will eventuate. That's the sort of cheery prognostication I could not have honestly made in the past. I can make it now. I hope you readers are all bound up with joy, and that you, like me, will turn your lemons into lemonade. Be well!

Saturday 9 July 2011

Sallies and barbed wire

#I was walking through the wire one day,# sang the Commissar merrily. His men all loved him for his whimsical sense of humour: a rare commodity in the grim darkness of the darkly grim future. Hm, I read the other day that there's a story combining Bertie Wooster with Cthulhu. Perhaps worthwhile mixing up with 40K as well. Perhaps. That reminds me: I got into a bit of a silly argument online the other day. "As opposed to those sensible arguments online which result in an exchange of valuable information, Pete?" Point taken! This one was about My Little Pony. It's time one accepts the fora one hangs about on are a bit weird when people start advising you to watch My Little Pony. The silly argument was because I have no intention of watching it, and see no reason to. This was taken rather irascibly by its adherents, who accused me of disparaging it by declaring I had no reason to watch it. People do get some funny ideas sometimes. In a spirit of inquiry, a mate watched it to see whether the claims that it had writing, plots, yadayada that appeal to adults as well as little girls had merit. His report: no. I think he used more colourful language. I understand the show has plenty of rainbows, so colourful language is somehow apt.

"Pete, your digression has nothing to do with 40K. Get back to what you've been up to." Oh, right, yes. I've attached plastic mesh to the staves, giving the impression of more barbed wire, as seen in the picture above (and some more below). Handy stuff that plastic mesh. You just need to cut it in such a way that it looks like it does in these pics, and it has a rather wiry look to it, viz.

I spent a few productive hours watching a spot of Firefly and finishing off the Sallies. As I've said before, the tracks will be coated with sand and filler later on, so don't think too much of their appearance. I grabbed a load of staples to provide the handles you can see everywhere. I snapped a drill, which was annoying. Happily, I have a few more of the tiny wee ones. Anyway, two hulls and all the turrets are drying outside, and the other three have had my last something or other wrapped round the hull weapons to provide dust covers. Anyway, behold. I hope to get them undercoated tomorrow and the main colours on them. I'm toying with Army Painter green, which is a good military colour. But I don't have a lot of it. I have plenty of a weird-looking "Jade" green, but that's because it doesn't look great on vehicles! You can see it on some scenery pieces back in the archives. I shall decide tomorrow. Rest assured I have already drawn up plans for the next motor pool. Farewell, you lovely people!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...