Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Doctor Who Wednesday #23

The reason that this blog has been so deathly quiet of late is that I just haven't done anything hobbywise worth writing about.  However, as I said last week, I wouldn't be me if I stopped  buying books.  So here we go with that old stalwart "books I've picked up in charity shops".

These I picked up a few months ago.  I thought I'd already posted about them, but apparently not.  

The Torchwood Encyclopedia is nothing special, but has plenty of basic reference on the series.  I was very pleased to get the '80s book though - looking on-line and in more specialist shops, I found that the series goes for silly prices.  That's a shame because (as regular readers of 'Doctor Who Wednesday' will realise) I'd rather have the volumes on the '60s and '70s.  I despaired of ever seeing them at reasonable prices.

So imagine how pleased I was to find this in the same charity shop last week!

In addition, I picked up these specials "from the publishers of Doctor Who Magazine".  Anything that has Roger Deladgo or the Brigadier on the cover is for me!  And they're full of good background stuff. 

This one focuses on the first two series of the New Series.  In addition to episode guides, there's plenty of background in these too, including some nice concept art...

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Podcasts and Some Books

For longer that I care to look into I've been promising to restart this blog.  And for most of that time, I seem to have been promising to talk about podcasts.

Perhaps what has been putting me off is that my thoughts on podcasts are really unoriginal.  I'm going to summarise them in a few points

  • if you podcast is over an hour and a half long,  it is probably too long
  • if you podcast contains a description of how you've edited it, you've failed in the editing process
  • nobody wants to listen to you eating or drinking (unless it's a really niche podcast)
There you go.  You can fill in the details yourself with reference to your favorite 'cast.

So what have I been listening to?

I've mentioned the first two before.  Both are from James Holloway.

Monster Man started as 
a podcast that delves into the classic AD&D Monster Manual from 1977. Every episode looks at one or more D&D monsters, digging deeper into their inspirations and uses. 
After 70-odd episodes James finished the Monster Manual.  He's currently doing some specials before moving on the the Fiend Folio sourcebook.

As a spin-off James also started Patreon Deities in which he does the same thing for Demigods and Deities (this one requires a monthly subscription of at least $1.00).

In his discussion of the Norse Pantheon (just completed), James suggested Saga Thing
a podcast hosted by two friends and former grad-school colleagues who have been reading and enjoying the [Icelandic] sagas for years. We’re both professors of medieval literature and we both have beards.  Though we live quite far apart, recording Saga Thing gives us an opportunity to get together again (virtually) and talk about our love of medieval Iceland.  Our goal is to read and review the sagas, one at a time, in an epic quest to put the sagas of the Icelanders on trial and to celebrate the greatness of saga literature.
Which has also joined my listening schedule.

And of course, I wouldn't be me if I hadn't acquired some related books.

This one is a present for The Wife
This one is for me
It has nice pictures

And we both like this film

Monday, 21 May 2018

A Marker

This blog has lost it's direction.  I don't know where to go with it.  But I'm not ready to give up on it yet

The real old guard followers will know that I used to be so short of inspiration, that I would set each day for a different category of post.  That worked quite well, created a lot of posts and led to what some flatteringly called an eclectic mix.  I've not done that for quite a while.

I've not yet given up on the blog entirely, and keep a quiet eye on the stats.  Unsurprisingly, this week has seen a big jump in hits*.  These were on the now defunct (and not up-dating) 'Royals in  Medals' series did - down to the Royal wedding of course.  My regular followers decry the royalism of those posts, but they are consistently the most regularly hit of posts**.   I planed to carry on to some more obscure royals, such as the children of Edward VII and George VI, but I didn't get there.

*Not as big as blogger.com's bot-counter (see left) will tell you, but a real one, as demonstrated by the more reliable flag counter.
**Along, with some reason with that on Sir Arthur Craddock

It won't surprise those who follow me on Facebook*, but my main inspiration now comes when I'm in the pub or when I'm suffering from insomnia.  I need to get away from those situations.  The blog was originally designed to encourage my creative side.  I hope to get back to that.

*For the rest of you - Hello!  I'm still alive!

One of the topics I've been thinking about posting is Podcasts.  I hope that'll be my next post - and soon!

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Sailor in the Desert

David Gunn, Sailor in the Desert: The Adventures of Phillip Gunn, DSM, RN in the Mesopotamia Campaign, 1915, Pen & Sword (2013).  

The Mesopotamian Campaign is an interesting one.  The Royal Navy, having made the decision to move from coal, it was necessary to protect the oil supply through the Persian Gulf.  To this end, three Royal Naval sloops were sent to the Gulf, supported by Indian Army contingents (in those Suez Canal days, the Gulf falling within the remit of the Indian Government as far as British policy was concerned) with the aim of  removing Ottoman troops from the Shatt-al-Arab and occupying Basra.

Initial operations in 1914 and '15 were so successful that mission creep developed and the Indian Government and the army sought a way to capitalise on these successes.  Accordingly, an over-ambitious plan to advance (some 500 miles) up the Tigris as far as Baghdad was developed.  More-and-more troops were sent up-river despite limited transport, resulting in over-stretched supply-lines.  After capturing Kut, the expeditionary force failed in the final 100 mile push to Baghdad and were besieged until they were forced to surrender in April 1916.  Some 23,000 British and Indian soldiers died in the attempts to relieve Kut, and over half of the surrendered force died in captivity.

This book isn't the one you want to read to get all the details, facts and figures of the navy's role in the campaign - that's Wilfred Nunn's Tigris Gunboats, reprinted a few times since it's first publication in the 1930s.  Nunn was the Senior Naval Officer, Mesopotamia, during the campaign, and to be frank, his book is a dry read.  On the other hand, Sailor in the Desert is written from the view-point of an 19 year-old Ordinary Seaman.  Gunn* wasn't particularly ordinary though. 

*'Nunn' and 'Gunn', it's annoying, I know!

After serving on HMS Clio during her defence of the Suez Canal and in the occupation of Basra, he volunteered for 'hazardous duties'.  He then, quite literally, found himself at the pointy-end of the advance up the Tigris - ahead of the main force in a steam launch taking soundings to check that the river was navigable for the vessels commandeered down-river to act as troopships. 

Later in the war, the Fly Class of gunboat was developed for these riverine operations, but at this time, two steam launches each towed horseboats which carried antiquated naval ordnance.  Gunn lashed a ladder to his cabin to accommodate a Royal Artillery spotter.  The launch also served to ferry senior officers up- and down-river.

For his services before he was invalided out, Gunn was awarded the DSM.  His obvious merit is reflected in the fact that he ended his career as Captain, RN.

All in all, this is a good read, but I found it slight and a little disappointing.  I gave it Three Stars out of Five.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

I am a Character from an HP Lovecraft Story!

I'm sure that there is a genre of fiction (meta-fiction?) in which characters in a story realise that that's just what they are.  I'm equally sure that there is a psychological disorder (The Matrix syndrome?) in which people think that they and everything around them are fictional constructs.

As I've been lying in my bed (it's now 3am) I have come to the conclusion that heads this post, and which compels me to write (while I still can!).  Let me provide the evidence:

  1. For many years I practised the profession of archivist.
  2. During that time I worked in the archives of a (notorious) religious order; a university; a 300 year-old bank that had interests in the Caribbean and Africa; and the museum of a port town that contained the records of many seafarers and the artifacts they brought back from their travels.
  3. Following a sudden collapse and almost three weeks in a coma, I withdrew from the profession and now trade in rare and hard-to-find books.

Madness and the void surely await me!

This line of thought was initiated by an interesting Kickstarter - 'Welcome to Miskatonic University', which sets out to publish an anthology of short stories inspired modern life in that ancient establishment.

One of the features backing is that one is invited to submit one's photo and up to three key details about oneself.  On the basis of this, the creators will have a pool for designing characters to populate their Arkham, incorporating the character into My Miskatonic, a guidebook to Arkham and the university.  

From such innocent requests can darkening realisation grow...

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

AHPC 'Ate Update #2: Crawlers

My submission date for Painting Challenge entries is Wednesday, so I've been intending Thursday to be my regular spot for an update...


As I mentioned the other day, I broke my duck with an entry for the BFG bonus round.  It can be seen here.

Following that, I had the rest of the Terminators from the Warlord Games box which I submitted in my Wednesday spot.  

These are tending to merge into their bases, but that fits in with the post-apoc style of the Terminator movies and they fact that the 'crawlers' are sneaky buggers who grab you even though you've already 'killed' them once.  Their resemblance to the crawlers in Warlord's Project Z game is uncanny - I'm just awaiting crawling Ood in their Doctor Who range now.

These were all the usable Terminators from the second-hand box I acquired (it was obviously one of 'those gifts' - someone had tried to assemble the minis, broken several and then given up).  I've saved the broken ones in my gash box, just in case I ever do a Mad Scientist's workshop. 

I also have a batch of Future Resistance fighters, but no plans to paint them during the Challenge.

Work in Progress

The entry for the 'Music' bonus round on 3 Feb is on-going and on-target.  I've decided to press on with my (non)-entry for the 'Flight' round and submit it in the ordinary way.  I like the concept, it fits in with my existing minis, and I'd like to see how it works out.

Other than that, I've two large(ish)-for-me groups planned (both Pulpy) and the other bonus rounds sketched out.  If I complete those, I'll be happy with the output of this year's Challenge.

Monday, 22 January 2018

AHPC 'Ate Update #1: BFG

Well, I've made a really bad start to the AHPC 'Ate.  This was going to be the year when I had everything organised,  submitted for each of the bonus rounds and met my target.  Ha!

I missed the 'Flight' bonus round (I had a Canard I was going to submit).  But in making this submission, I've avoided the automatic disqualification by a hair's breath.  It wouldn't have been the end of the world, but I enter the Challenge because it makes me sit down and paint (which I do enjoy).  I just feel guilty taking up a slot on the roster.  Perhaps things will be better if I get my new glasses this month.

Anyway, here's my quick-and-dirty 'BFG' entry...  To see everyone's entries (and to vote), go here.

'BFG' Bonus Round Submission

The Terminators have done it again!  Skynet has sent a whole squad even further back in time than before in order to kill the ancestors of the leaders of the Resistance (Skynet's forte has never been originality).

With Sarah Connor less than a twinkle in her grandfather's eye, who is going to step up to save the future, and possibly even delay Judgement Day once again?

Here were have eight 28mm Terminator Endoskeletons from the Warlord Games/River Horse Terminator Genysis miniatures game.  These are described in their blurb as being in "two different posses, advancing and… relentlessly advancing!".  In practice, this means that some of the Terminators carry their BFG in their right hand and some in their left (which made them easier to put together once I'd realised that!).  Box sets can now be picked up cheaply, and for me the Endos will serve as generic BFG-Wielding Robots.

Queen Victoria is from Westwind Productions'  Empire of the Dead range.  A nice, fun sculpt.
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