Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

It's Halloween today, although, for the first time in many years, there will be no pumpkins to attract greedy children in our house, as Charlotte is up in Edinburgh.  Here, on our Wargames Ladies Blog, is an appropriate cartoon by Angus McBride from his pre-Osprey days.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Paint Table Saturday: Rocks and Sikhs

This week I had to go to Epsom hospital and have an injection in my eyeball which, I have to say, I was not looking forward to.  This is because the laser treatment I have had around the edge of my eye can't be done in the centre of the eye. I have noticed a real deterioration in my vision in my left eye since June, to the extent that not only couldn't I paint figures but I was having trouble using the PC if there was bright light out in the garden backlighting the screen. .  I had to shut my left eye to be able to see clearly and couldn't paint figures as I had lost my ability to judge distance.  Well the two nurses at Epsom looked after me very well indeed and after some anaesthetic drops all I felt, as they had explained, was a slight pressure on my eyeball for a second.  I did not need, as I thought I might, a piratical eye patch and the only inconvenience is the ointment I need to apply to the eye every three hours, which makes it a bit blurred and gummy feeling.

Today, for the first time since June, I had a good half day's painting (my vision is certainly improved) and got on with the Sikh artillery, to the extent that I may be able to finish them tomorrow.  They are not brilliant but they will do for me.  I am, at least, now contemplating getting back to finishing the next batch of ACW confederates. 

I have also got two coats of grey onto my aquarium rocks for Savage Core and The Lost World.  I reckon they need another two shades of paler grey before they are done and then I will add some follidge with the hot glue gun.  I really like the cave in the one at front left and need to work out some sort of dicing table for what will spring out of there to take on my explorers or whoever; ape men? velociraptors? saber tooth tiger? under-dressed cavegirl?  Unfortunately, I am going abroad next weekend for the first of two consecutive trips and by the time I get back and then go up to see Charlotte in Edinburgh it will be well on the way to Christmas!

My friend Bill suggested we go and see Blade Runner 2049 this week which we did at Esher cinema, which has recently been turned into an Everyman.  I don't go to the cinema very often (I haven't been to Esher since Titanic!) and as soon as I got in I realised why.  The entrance hall is now a full on restaurant and you get your tickets at what looks like (and is) a bar.  Inside, the seats are large and comfortable but they all had little side tables attached and everyone was eating.  They had (very pretty) waitresses bringing hot food into the cinema auditorium.  This is disgusting.  The noise is bad enough but the smell!  People who eat in cinemas should be killed and their bodies used for organ donation.  I didn't really enjoy the film either as I am getting sick of the unremitting trend for gritty and dark in visual entertainment.  In addition, there were a number of foreign actors in the film and I had trouble understanding what they were saying.  Despite superior special effects, I didn't think the production captured the feeling of a teeming, multi-ethnic city like the original did.  There was too much space.  I won't bother with the DVD and the music was awful.

Today's music is an old favourite, Carmina Burana, which I haven't played for some time.  I first heard this when the German TV version, by opera director Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, appeared one Saturday night on the BBC in October 1976.  What on earth is this, I asked myself at the bizarre mixture of musical and visual styles in the TV version (prepared in co-operation with Carl Orff, who always saw it as much a theatrical as an orchestral piece).  Recently, I saw another German TV version from 1996 by Hohlfeld which was better photographed, slightly racier and less straight to video looking but didn't have such a strong orchestra or singing cast.  On CD I prefer the Previn version, which is very good indeed. 

Kiss of the sun (1907)

Today's wallpaper is by the Polish painter Jan Ciągliński (1858-1913). Although born in Poland, he spent most of his career, other than a brief time in Paris. based in St Petersburg. In his will, however, he bequeathed most of his works to Poland and many of them were on exhibition in Warsaw over the last few months. He visited North Africa and the Middle East and painted a number of orientalist pictures, of the realistic, rather than the harem fantasy, type. He taught at the Imperial Academy in St Petersburg and became a professor there in 1911; teaching many well known Russian painters.  

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Paint Table Sunday: Rocks 2

A brief entry this week as I have had no time to do hobby stuff, lately, and am trying to evade potential oversea trips.  Nigeria has been postponed (hooray) and I shifted Saudi onto a colleague (double hooray - at least Nigeria has beer and statuesque women to look at) but still have two week long trips in November (I get back from one on Saturday and have to fly to the next on Sunday).  In fact we are going to see Charlotte again in Edinburgh that month, so I will have to do 10 flights in November.  I hate flying and will probably expire on one of these trips.  At least my blood pressure is down, thanks to my glamorous new doctor.  190 over 100 not so good, 130 over 83, much better.

Yesterday, I did get a bit of paint on my Savage Core/Lost World rock formations.  I have three big aquarium pieces and will add some smaller CD and MDF based ones to scatter around them.   I still haven't tried painting any figures lately but have to have an eye operation next week (I don't even want to think about it).

I haven't bought much hobby stuff, either, although I did succumb to this Star Wars kit on the basis that I will probably get Star Wars Legion when it comes out next year.  This AT-ST is, it seems, exactly the right scale for the 32mm figures.  It's a long time since I made a complex model kit (Renedra buildings apart) so I am not sure how this will go, given my dodgy eyesight.  I'm not going to give up trying yet, though.

I have had several requests to become friends on Facebook lately but when I have looked at the person's page they are usually full of the standard political drivel so I don't bother with them.  Facebook can be useful, though, and recently there was a post on the Death in the Dark Continent players page which highlighted the fact that the old BBC series, The Search for The Nile, from 1971, had been put on DVD at last.  I saw this when it first came out and have been hoping it would appear at some point but it disappeared.  Great to see it again now.  Shot on location in Africa and with James Mason narrating I can't wait until mine comes from Amazon!  There seemed to be a feeling that the BBC wouldn't release it given they regarded it now as politically incorrect.  Interestingly it is labelled as "as seen on the BBC" not an actual BBC disc.  Should be good African inspiration anyway.

I need to clear out some old figures and rules of periods I am never going to realistically paint or play.  First up is Frostgrave where I have some of the books and a few figures.  Eric the Shed played a game or two and was not impressed with the rules mechanism which he found a bit blunt (especially combat).  I found all the descriptions of how magic worked totally confusing and well beyond my poor brain.  As a fantasy world I would rather stick to Lord of the Rings, especially with the news that the Battle Companies rules (which only ever appeared in White Dwarf, some years ago) are coming back.

J interviews the Legatus

Speaking of Lord of the Rings, Guy, who is on the Oxford Union Committee this term, was a bit miffed that Liv Tyler cancelled at the last minute but this week he met JJ Abrams (which made Charlotte jealous).  I used to enjoy his Alias (although I still haven't watched the final series, where Jennifer Garner was pregnant and Rachel Nichols came in to do the action stuff).  One of my past lady friends, J, a kickboxing infrastructure journalist was the motion capture body double for Jennifer Garner for the Playstation Alias game, which is why it is the only computer game I own.

Now we live in pretty much equidistant from three supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsbury and Waitrose) so I don't get over to Morrisons in Weybridge very often any more, now Guy isn't rowing but I went there earlier in the week to take some books to the charity bookshop (most charity shops won't take books any more and the price you can get for them on eBay makes it not worth the effort of selling them).  Anyway I was staggered to see that Morrison's sells Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc (the best sauvignon blanc on the planet - well, it used to be).  I had to buy some.  I had the very first vintage of this wine when I visited their sister vineyard in Western Australia, Cape Mentelle, in 1987.  I tried to get it back in the UK but it wasn't imported then.  The initial run was very small, not like the 100,000 cases plus they produce now, now that they are owned by LVMH.   In fact it was the Cape Mentelle, Australian team that chose the name, against the wishes of the New Zealand winemakers who wanted to call it Tua Marina.

I might have some time this afternoon to do some painting so might see if I can do a bit on my Sikh artillery which I really want to finish as it will complete my TMWWBK's British force.  So far it looks bright this morning.

It's all a bit Austrian this week (my family on my mother's side was Austro-Hungarian) and today's wallpaper is a painting by Austrian artist Franz Eybl (1806-1880) who by the age of ten had already entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.  Most of his paintings were landscapes or portraits so this lovely nude, from about 1860, is unusual.  Portraying an everyday scene, rather than a classical or mythical story, was somewhat unusual and daring for the time.  Her figure (especially her posterior) is very reminiscent of J, the computer game body double, I realise.  I did do some drawings of J rather like this.  I wonder where they are? Viennese bakers, in this period, were famous all over Europe and the croissant (as seen on the bottom left), as we would call it now, was very much an Austrian not a French creation (the modern croissant was created by a former Austrian artillery officer (inserts desperate military reference) who set up a Viennese bakery in Paris in the late eighteen thirties).

Austrian music too, in the long and expensive form of the complete Mozart symphonies by Jaap Schröder, Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music, using period instruments.  I remember going along to Blackwells Music Shop in Oxford, when the first boxed set (not box set, pig ignorant Millennials), came out in 1980 and finding that they had all sold out in four hours.  It has taken me 37 years to buy them and discover the complexity and controversy over authorship of these symphonies.  Being a late romantic aficionado I have always had a rather schizophrenic relationship with Mozart (50% hack, 50% genius) but they certainly make calming background music when writing reports on US education models.

Mirabel machine made

Now, Mozart also reminds me of the world's most sickly chocolate: the Mozartkugeln, a disgusting amalgam of chocolate and praline marzipan which has also been the subject of bitter legal battles in the cut throat world of European chocolate.  The originals are hand produced by Fuerst but other firms, notably the better marketed Mirabel, are allowed to produce their versions under slightly different names.

Fuerst, hand made

I discovered these hideous chocolates in Switzerland in the mid nineteen eighties when I had a girlfriend who was just about perfect (39D-23-36), apart from her penchant for sickly food and drink  (she loved Bailey's Irish cream. embarrassingly) products.  My mother always wanted me to marry her and, indeed, invited her to dinner the night before I married the Old Bat, as a sort of 'you've made a big mistake' gesture.  S would do anything (literally) for Mozartkugeln and so in the (we shamefully admit) four year intersection between her and the Old Bat (Plastic Woman, the Old Bat called her, on account of her wearing, shock, horror, makeup) I plundered the duty free shops of Europe to feed her insatiable appetite for these stomach churning treats. The complete Mozart symphonies is, I admit, a sort of aural box of Mozartkugeln and there is only so much you can listen to without feeling queasy.