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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Elder God Defeated! Citizens of Arkham Rejoice!

Arkham, Mass.-- The terrified citizens of the small town of Arkham, Mass., can breathe a sigh of relief. After days of strange happenings, peace and quiet have returned to their once-idyllic village, thanks to the efforts of three brave investigators.
  "I'm just your normal, run-of-the-mill, archaeology professor/world traveler/treasure hunter," said Monterey Jack, one of the investigators, when asked how he came to be prepared to fight an otherworldly horror and its monstrous minions. "I mean, anyone with nerves of steel, muscles of iron, and a cast-iron stomach would have done the same. Now, if you'll excuse me, there's a bottle of Bushmill's that needs rescuing from that liquor store."
   Doctor Vincent Lee, of St. Mary's Hospital, was also instrumental in the investigation. It was his well-timed hail of buckshot that thrust the unimaginable horror back into the cold and dark from whence it emerged. He was also responsible for the death of respected local businessman Hugh Bottoms. Mr. Bottoms was dressed in outlandish robes, spouting gibberish, and viciously attacked Dr. Lee in Uptown. Dr. Lee pronounced him dead on the scene after shooting him. Twice.
  Doctor Carolyn Fern, a resident psychiatrist working at Arkham Asylum, counseled the other investigators during the course of these unsettling events. Her stellar work insured that the other investigators remained sane and capable.
  "These 'monsters,' you see, are merely a projection of your own fears and anxieties into the world around you. Once confronted, they hold no terror for anyone, really. Except the ones that look like spiders. Those ones are evil, and should be destroyed immediately," she said.   
  A parade is scheduled for tomorrow, and the Mayor will speak. The investigators will be receiving the key to the city, a coupon for "Buy One, Get One Free" at the General Store, and an all-expenses paid tour to the Unvisited Isle. Light refreshments will be served, $1 cover charge. 

   The boys and I finished our first game of Arkham Horror this afternoon. We all had a lot of fun, and we managed to defeat the big baddie, Ithqua (actually, one of the weaker adversaries) after he awoke. So, chalk that up as a win, even though we didn't quite manage to seal enough gates to prevent his arrival in the first place...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Recent Projects Completed...

  A big update today. Lots of photos, and a few more are coming up on Victoria's Boys in Red, as well.

The Galvanic Ray Cannon

Germany's Newest Landship

A Simian Mutant Bodyguard for Doctor Vardu

OGRE meets Gojira!

IHMN: Lord Curr

IHMN: One of Lord Curr's Incorrigibles

A Texian Walker (French design) - a matched pair.

British Balloon Scouts (and nine friends)
     In addition to the items pictured above, I also managed to finish two more of my India Pattern Carriers for Flames of War. I don't have any photos of them, though.

   Plus, I have almost finished Lord Curr's Company for In Her Majesty's Name. Just lacking Lady Felicity, and she's still on the painting table. Once I finish her, I need to work on more Dystopian Wars vehicles - Prussian land forces this time!

Friday, October 25, 2013

St. Crispin's Day!

   On today's date, in 1415, French chivalry withered under a rain of clothyard shafts driven by Welsh yew. Heavily outnumbered and stricken with illness, the English forces nevertheless won a decisive victory on the field at Agincourt. Among Henry V's troops were a large number of Welsh and English longbowmen. They are generally given credit for the victory, having done fearful damage to the French knights and men-at-arms before they could close with the outnumbered English.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Top Ten Western Movies


  Why is it that westerns get so many great lines? I don't know, but they do. Maybe that's what I love about them. Note that I am excluding TV westerns from this list - which is why Lonesome Dove isn't on it.

10. Blazing Saddles

   While I will argue that Blazing Saddles is the funniest movie ever made, it is also a western. However, it ranks lowest on this poll because it is really a comedy, in a western setting (well, for most of the movie).

9. Silverado

   Honestly, I just always liked this one. Small town ruled by rich jerk, a heterogeneous band of heroes, and a great quote: "I don't want to kill you, and you don't wanna be dead."

8. High Noon

  From a moral standpoint, this has got to be one of the best westerns ever. One man standing up for what he believes in, when everyone else tells him to back down. Plus, it has Gary Cooper in it.

7. Rio Bravo

   John Wayne. Dean Martin. Ricky Nelson. And my favorite song from any western ever: My Rifle, Pony and Me".

6. A Fistful of Dollars

   Why is this great movie at #6? Because there are even better ones below. But the scene where he walks past the undertaker and signals for two? Classic. My favorite of the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns.

5. Stagecoach

   John Wayne's first starring role, as an outlaw stranded with a group of people on a stagecoach traveling through an Indian uprising.

4. True Grit

   "Fill your hands, you son of a bitch!" 'Nuff said?

3. The Outlaw Josey Wales

   Clint gets three, John Wayne gets three. I always loved this movie about the man tormented by the murder of his family and haunted by his past. Plus, it has some great lines in it:

  • "Buzzards got to eat, same as worms."
  • "Endeavor to persevere."
  • "Are you going to skin those smokewagons or start whistling Dixie?"

2. Unforgiven

  The best of the more modern westerns, by far.

  • "Well, he should have armed himself if he's going to decorate his saloon with my friend."

1. The Magnificent Seven

   My bar none favorite western movie. I love the crazy casting, and how Steve McQueen does his best (usually successfully) to steal the scene from Yul Brynner. Another movie with great quotes and a fun ensemble cast.

  • "We deal in lead, friend."
  • "That was the greatest shot I've ever seen! / The worst! I was aiming at his horse."
  • "Nobody throws me my own guns and says run. Nobody."
  • "As for women, I became indifferent when I was 83."

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A-Z Reading Survey

I saw this on another fabulous blog, and thought: what fun!

"This is one of those questionnaires that's going around,  It originates here - not a site I frequent, I promise.  It's aimed at fan girls, but there's some  nice questions, so here goes." - The Depressive Diplomat

Author you've read the most books from:

   It would have to be either Harry Turtledove or S.M. Stirling. Patrick O'Brien, Jerry Pournelle, Eric Flint, Robert Heinlein, Andre Norton, David Weber and David Drake all get an honorable mention here.

Best sequel ever:

   From Russia With Love. Oh, you meant in a book! The problem is that it depends on your definition of a sequel. In a set of books which was originally intended to be a trilogy - The Lord of the Rings, for example - I don't consider the following books to be a sequel, because it is all part of a cohesive story. With that in mind I would have to say that my favorite is probably... In the Court of the Crimson Kings, by S.M. Stirling.

Currently reading:
  • Living with the Dead in the Middle Ages, Patrick J. Geary
  • Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft, Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum
  • Inside Hitler's Greece: The Experience of Occupation 1941-44, Mark Mazower

Drink of choice whilst reading:

   Darjeeling, white, two sugars.

E-reader or physical book?:

    Physical. I have a Kindle, and it's nice for travel and light reading, but I adore and collect physical books.

Fictional character you would probably have dated in high school:

   Which do you mean: one that I would have wanted to date or one that I actually would have dated? I'll just say Hermione Granger. We know what she was like as a teen, and she was cute but very bookish. I'd ahve stood a chance, and I'd have liked her. 

Glad you gave this book a chance:

    Airborne, Kenneth Oppel.

Hidden book gem?

    London to Ladysmith via Praetoria, Sir Winston Churchill. A great first hand account of the Second Anglo-Boer War by a future Prime Minister. Yes, he's that Winston Churchill.

Important moment in your book life:

   A tossup question: either learning to read at 2, or reading Dune in 3rd grade.

Just finished:

    Carnifex, by Tom Kratman

Kind of book you won't read:

   Twilight, or any of that sort of vampire-romance twaddle. Vampires are fiendish parasites that prey on the blood of humanity.
Longest book you've read:

   I don't know, as I have read multiple thousand plus page books. The only one I remember off the top of my head page count-wise is the trade paperback edition of Battlefield Earth, because it also happens to be the same year that William of Normandy won the Battle of Hastings and took the throne of England (1066, of course).

Major book hangover because of:

  I'm not entirely certain what a 'book hangover' is. The only negative effect I have ever experienced from reading a book is being very tired the following morning if I stayed up too late reading.

Number of bookcases you own:

   Eleven, of various sizes. All are stuffed with books, both fiction and nonfiction, games, pictures, binders...

One book you've read multiple times:

   I've probably read Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers the most number of times. I re-read lots of books, though.

Preferred place to read:

   Depends on what I am reading. 
  • Reading monographs for school? The corner booth in the McDonald's on 646 at I-45 in League City, Texas. Few interruptions/distractions, free coffee refills, and a clean restroom.
  • Reading for fun? 1) The bath. Just shy of scalding hot. 2) My adjustable bed.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you've read:
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” 
Reading regret:

   Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe. Assigned in tenth grade, I still remember this as the most boring book I ever read.

Series you started and need to finish:

   The Song of Ice and Fire. Mostly waiting on George to write them. Hurry, George, hurry!

Three of your all-time favorite books:
  • Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein
  • HMS Surprise, Patrick O'Brien
  • The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

Unapologetic fanboy for:

   H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.

Very Excited for this release:

   Whatever the next Song of Ice and Fire book will be.

Worst bookish habit:

   Dog-earing paperbacks.

X Marks the spot - start at the top left of your bookshelf and pick the 27th book:
  1. Sir John Fisher's Naval Revolution, Nicholas Lambert
  2. Austerlitz, 1805: The Battle of Three Emperors, David Chandler (Osprey Campaign 2)
  3. The Great War: American Front, Harry Turtledove
  4. The Reverse of the Medal, Patrick O'Brien
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling
  6. Webelos Handbook, BSA
  7. The Sword of the Spirits, John Christopher
  8. The Serpent's Shadow, Rick Riordan
  9. General Chemistry, Whitten, Gailey and Davis
  10. Oath of Gold, Elizabeth Moon
  11. Echoes of Honor, David Weber

Your latest book purchase:

   Medieval Technology and Social Change, Lynn White, Jr.

Zzzz Snatcher - the last book that kept you up waaaay too late):

   Carnifex, Tom Kratman

Friday, October 18, 2013

Randomly Awesome Bear Pictures.

Because I Can.

Real content coming soon.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Empire of the Dead: Requiem Kickstarter box received!

   And my goodness, there is a lot of really neat stuff in there. Just to list out what I received:

  • Lycaon Faction (8) - werewolves faction
  • Gentlemen's Club Faction (8) - upper crust human faction. Hunting monsters is jolly good fun, what?
  • Gentlemen with Guns (5) - more upper crust, with guns, special weapons, and stiff upper lips.
  • Bobbies (8) - armed with truncheons and grit. Will convert some truncheons to electric.
  • More Bobbies (8) - armed with revolvers, shotguns, Gatling gun and netgun. Includes Infernium hound. I love the Infernium hound like a fat kid loves cupcakes.
  • Nadezhda Durova, Kickstarter exclusive Vampire Slayer. Nice fig.
  • Tatu, female (Polynesian?)
  • The Jade Dragon, Chinese female. Definite keeper.
  • Aisha, Werewolf Huntress
  • Red, Daughter of the Goddess
  • Iron Head Ned. Ned Kelly. Gotta have.
  • Deathlocke Bones (undead Holmes)
  • The Bad Doctor (undead Watson)
  • White Rabbit
  • Tom Gaunt
  • The Specimen
  • Great Uncle Thulu. Awesome figure, possibly my favorite of the bunch.
  • Raphael
  • The Phantom
  • Her Majesty (God Bless Her) Queen Victoria, with a Gatling Gun. Already own an unarmed version of Her Majesty (God Bless Her).
  • Steam Cannon
  • Tesla Projector
  • Clockwork Butler
  • Lightning Jack
  • Additional Weapon Sprues
  • Token set for the game

   That would be a grand total of 56 new 28mm miniatures. Not all of which I am totally enamoured; some may find their way to the marketplace. With these, and all the IHMN minis still to finish, and two steam tanks needing finishing, and a set of plastic Zouaves still in the box... I have a LOT of 28mm VSF painting to do.

   In the future, I want to get The Brotherhood for my own faction. Plus the Order of the Dragon, I think, for another evil faction. Maybe a horde of Victorian zombies as well. Perhaps the Clickers - I quite like the flying one, in particular. Get the servants pack for civilian zombie chow. And the vehicles - in particular the Hansom cab. And the Omnibus. And the steam exo-skeleton. Maybe the Fire Engine.

   I was planning on using these bobbies with my IHMN forces, but they look too skinny to match up well. Not that they are bad figures; I quite like them, actually. But I may have to buy the Scotland Yard set for IHMN as well, now. Oh well... *grin*

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Top Ten Mercenary Companies

   I had so much fun with the previous top ten lists, that I decided that I wanted to do another. It may become a semi-regular feature on the blog, as I get around to it. This time, I am highlighting my favorite mercenary companies of film, book, game and history!

10. The Flying Tigers

   The Flying Tigers flew one of my favorite WWII-era aircraft, the P-40. Officially known as the American Volunteer Group, these pilots flew against the Japanese for Nationalist China. Famous for their insignia, the shark's mouth painted on the aircraft's intake, and developing skills and tactics which would prove valuable when the Japanese and Americans officially went to war. They also have a great movie.

9. Eridani Light Horse

   The Eridani Light Horse is a combined arms force from the BattleTech Universe. It is one of the largest and oldest mercenary companies in that setting. Plus, I have always liked their logo.

8. The Swiss Guard

   Believe it or not, the Swiss are famous for more than pocket knives, banks, and cuckoo clocks. In the early pike and shot era, say from the mid-1400s through the early 1600s, the Swiss were your prime source for stone cold killers for hire. Their reputation was so good that they were often hired as royal bodyguards, and in 1506 the Pope hired some Swiss to protect the Papal States and his own person. They are still working for him. And while their ceremonial uniforms (see above) may look silly, the guys you don't see are highly trained soldiers armed with modern small arms and a devout sense of duty to protect the Holy Father. Also, those halberds are good, honest steel. Think twice before you mock.

7. The Magnificent Seven

   I see what you did there... This is my favorite Western of all time, bar none. And the casting? Genius! Who would have made a Hungarian an Cajun, a gay German the Mexican heartthrob, and a New York Jew as a Mexican bandit leader? And it still works. Plus, Steve McQueen stealing scenes left and right. "We deal in lead, friend."

6. The Seven Samurai

  Rated higher, even though the Magnificent Seven is my favorite Western movie - another Top Ten in the making, I am sure. But this film is legend.

5. The Dogs of War

   Okay, so in the 1980 movie version of Frederick Forsythe's novel, Christopher Walken and his group of 'cursed mercenaries' ("Vive l'mort, vive l'guerre, vive l'sacre mercenaire.") don't really have a name for themselves. So what? The XM-18 alone is worth the price of admission. Plus, I have it on unreliable rumor that Zangaro was the basis of Bongolesia.

4. The Wild Geese

   Burton, Moore, Harris, and Kruger are... THE WILD GEESE. So much awesome, it is hard to contain. African hellhole nations have a disease, and these guys are the cure! I need to get AK47 Republic just so I can play out these games in Bongolesia.

3. The Black Company

   As much as I enjoy a good mercenary movie, my top three are all from books. The Black Company is a series of novels written by Glen Cook. The first trilogy is, as usual, the best. It's fantasy genre, but for the most part, magic is the province of the bad guys. Of course, the Black Company currently works for the Bad Guys. But there are Worse Guys out there, too.

2. Hammer's Slammers

   This is what made David Drake a science fiction legend (and he has just gone on from there, still writing great stuff). At least two minis games have come from this series of books and short stories. I like the tanks, the combat cars, and the power guns. Energy weapons with ammo - a great concept. Alois Hammer runs one of the nastiest, toughest, most kickass mercenary companies in the galaxy. Do not cross him, and if your enemies hire him, you had better hope you can hire...

1. Falkenberg's Legion

   My all time favorite, from Jerry Pournelle, with some help from S.M. Stirling (another favorite author). Set in the Future History Universe. John Christian Falkenberg is the epitome of the mercenary captain. And all of this while actually trying to preserve as much of humanity as possible, given the oncoming downfall of the CoDominium. These men and women are the best mercenaries ever.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Robert Clive -  better known as "Clive of India." Quite probably the man most responsible for the establishment of the British Raj in India.
  • Landsknechte - If only for their outrageous clothes (hesitate to call it a uniform, since it wasn't uniform) and their famous swords, the Katzbalger and the Zweihander. Even though they were more likely to carry pikes.
  • Frederick Russel Burnham - An American who fought for the British in Africa in the First and Second Matabele Wars, plus the Second Boer War.
  • G4S - The second largest private employer in the world, behind WalMart. Let that sink in. They operate in 120 countries, with over 600,000 employees. Most are not traditional mercenaries, they're security guards. But in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., a security guard is most likely a former special warfare operator - SEAL, Delta, Force Recon, SAS, you name it.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Even more... Armoured Bear!

   While not exactly inexpensive at 37.75 euros, it's an interesting figure. Scibor, the maker, sells this as a general, but they also sell 'regular' dwarf bear cavalry. 28mm, by the way.