Wednesday, April 21, 2021

It Slumbers Not

Deep within the bowels of the foundry
The great living engine sleeps
Skin a crust of black coal
Innards glowing magma
Its senses alien but keen
It does not see, hear, smell, taste, feel us
But it knows us nonetheless
And it shrieks silent hate to the world above
And we all know deep down
Someday it will come for us

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Armoured Pickup

I primed this resin pickup truck in black and then drybrushed it in metallic shades. But I think I should have stopped with silver instead of adding the bronze and copper. This vehicle will be revisited. 
 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Welcome to the Prancing Peacock

Here's the front counter of the Prancing Peacock Inn, part of a miniatures and terrain set I Kickstarted a while back. I think I may finally be getting the hang of dry brushing. 

Here's the view behind the counter. 


 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

A Shriek in the Night

 It is just before midnight, and after long hours of restlessness I am finally drifting off to sleep. Suddenly, curled next to me, Sylvia shrieks, her scream reverberating through the moonlit night. Startled, I jerk back to wakefulness. 

"What's wrong?" I ask. 

"I was dreaming of peanut butter!" Sylvia answers, and instantly falls back into slumber. I am left to wonder what's so scary about peanut butter...

Friday, April 16, 2021

Sign of the Times

Welcome, reader. I see you've found a pair of the special glasses that open your eyes to the truth of the world. We are being programmed by forces malicious and cruel, and recognizing that truth is our first step to liberation. 

You may have surmised that I opened the candy after all. I realized that the wrapper would fit perfectly into this 28mm sign. This'll be a nice little pop culture touch in my modern 28mm-scale city. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Six Million Dollar Mag

Many years ago, almost certainly in Leaf Rapids, I bought this issue of Charlton's The Six Million Dollar Man magazine. Published in black and white, the magazine included comic stories and photo essays. 

The story descriptions on the table of contents provide a decent preview of the writing style used for the scripts. It's a very strange style; dry, with sudden jolts of emphasis. The art inside is quite decent, although the male gaze was definitely heavily in play when it comes to the women characters. 

If I still had the cover, I might have considered keeping this. But I lost it so many years ago I honestly don't remember what the cover looked like. And so the one and only issue of this magazine I ever read slipped into the recycling yesterday as part of my merciless quest to create space. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Consume Obey Reproduce

These sinister candies came in the mail today. Given the wrappers, it seems I must eat them . . . and yet I fear the consequences . . . 
 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Na Noo Na Noo

Last night I painted this cheerful visitor from another world. Not bad, if I do say so myself. 
 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Higher and Lower

A few days ago, Letterboxd introduced a new statistic for Patron-level members: films you've rated higher or lower than the average Letterboxd user. 

Above, you'll see the ten films I rated more highly than the site average. I rated some films highly because of perceived technical excellence, hence the high ratings for controversial films like Triumph of the Will and The Birth of a Nation. Others I rated highly for entertainment value, such as Enter the Ninja, Bad Taste, The Phantom, and Snakes on a Plane. The rest I rated highly because I thought they were good stories competently told. 

Here are the films I rated significantly lower than the site average. These ratings are, I fully admit, more subjective and less rational than my higher than average picks. Simply put, for one reason or another, these films rubbed me the wrong way. Here you'll see that I'm not a fan of Disney or Mel Brooks. I don't like films that are overly sentimental or mawkish (Beaches, Funny Girl, E.T.). I'm not a fan of jingoism (Top Gun) or white savior narratives (The Help). The Florida Project is a technical masterpiece and tells a very important story, but its opening scene made me grind my teeth and took me out of the rest of the film. 

Please consider that these ratings are all snapshots of my feelings at the time. Looking back, I'd probably rate Chariots of Fire, Absence of Malice, Snakes on a Plane, Them, Bad Taste, Enter the Ninja, and Black Belt Jones a star or half-star lower. On the other hand, I can't see changing any of my ratings in the "lower than average" tier. 


Sunday, April 11, 2021

Reading Ruination

In January, I read five books. 

In February, I read five books. 

In March, I read five books. 

In April, I have read no books so far. 

This is much slower than my normal reading pace. I can't blame the pandemic, because I wound up reading slightly more books in 2020 than I did in 2019. 

Am I just getting old? Is this what cognitive decline feels like? I love reading as much as I ever have, but my focus is really impaired when I try to read for pleasure. 

Oddly enough, I find that I can read with the speed and focus I'm used to if I'm sitting in the car waiting for someone. A few days ago I read over half a novel that way in about 40 minutes. But I haven't touched it since. 

Maybe I just need a change in scenery or routine? 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Vaccinated, Part 1

Today Sylvia and I received our first of two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. We were told that it's a sixteen-week wait until the second dose, which seems like forever. But we already feel a bit safer. Not that we'll drop our guard! 
 

Friday, April 09, 2021

Nuke Buggy

Here's yet another dune buggy, but it represents a new personal milestone: this is the first time I've used a stencil and weathering pencils. The stencil, of course, was used to create the radioactivity symbol on the hood. I used some sand and rust weathering pencils to add, well, sand and rust to the vehicle. My models still don't look as realistic as I'd like, but I think they're getting a bit better, inch by inch. 

The driver's arms are raised up off the steering wheel not because he's panicking, but because I glued them at an angle too high to give him the ability to grip the wheel. So he'll probably play the role of "terrified passenger" more often than "driver." 

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Paint It Purple

Here's a 1930s-style car at 28mm scale. I experimented when painting this one, using different shades of purple in an effort to make the application seem more natural, with shades fading into each other without sharp dividing lines. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out; the very dark purple wheel covers fade into the lighter body which fades into the still lighter roof. 

You can see the effect a little more clearly from the rear. 

I'm not sure what to call this car. It feels like it should have a name. 


 

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

A Small Junk Barricade

Here we have another junk barricade intended for play with Fallout: Wasteland Warfare. I'm delighted by the stop sign, which turned out to be something of a happy accident. While dry-brushing the sign edges, I wound up using too much paint, resulting in silver-ish patches appearing on the sign's red background, making it look like the red paint has worn away to reveal the bare metal beneath. My hand-scrawled "STAY OUT" warning didn't turn out quite as well, thanks mostly to my terrible penmanship. 


Here's the back of the barricade. 
I probably added too many bunches of flowers. I was trying to make it look unmaintained; instead, it looks like someone is deliberately cultivating flowers. 



 

Monday, April 05, 2021

A Bale of Hay

Here we have a bale of hay. I painted this! And I think it looks reasonably decent. I think I'm finally starting to figure out how to apply ink washes reasonably effectively. Sometimes. 
 

Sunday, April 04, 2021

It Was X Number of Years Ago Today

Here's my brother Sean some decades-odd years ago, tuckered out in the boat after an afternoon of fishing near Leaf Rapids, Manitoba. Note his yellow lifejacket--safety first! One of Sean's claims to fame is this: he was the seventh baby born in Leaf Rapids. 

Happy Birthday, Sean, and here's to many more. 

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Daily Bugle Newsstand


I'm not sure how to characterize my results here. I like the streaks on the windows, which are supposed to suggest reflections. I like the colour scheme in general. I like my hand-printed notes. And I think I've finally figured out how to manage white paint. Drybrushing was hit-and-miss; the bugle logo looks fine, but the wordmark is muddy. 3/5? 

 

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Little Shipping Container That Could

Here's my latest shipping container. It's small, white, and old; it's seen a lot of use, hence its griminess. 
 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Junk Barricade

Here's a barricade made of junk for the Fallout: Wasteland Warfare skirmish game. I'm very happy with the legibility of the "TRASH," "ICE," and "Nuka Cola" signage. I'm getting better at dry brushing! However, I still struggle with ink washes. But I don't mind the dirty look for this application; it suits the setting. 
Here's how the barricade looks from the rear. 

 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Target: Earth

Here we have a globe. Sean gave me this for my birthday, among other minis! I should have included a 28mm miniature with the photo, because then you could see that this is supposed to be a very large globe at that scale; I'd estimate it would be three or four metres tall. 

In any event, I painted it black with red crosshairs to suggest this is the sort of globe that might be found in the hidden underground lair of a maniacal supervillain bent on world domination. Alternatively, you might see such a globe on the bridge of an invading starship. 

I wish the crosses were more uniform, but given that I painted them by hand, I think they look okay. 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Scotty Finds The Daily Grind

"Cap'n, do ye know how the doctor takes his coffee?"

Here we have The Daily Grind, a 28mm-scale model from Marvel's Crisis Protocol game. I painted it in tones of brown and green, partly as a knockoff of Starbucks, partly because, well, coffee is brown, and I like mint chocolate chip frappuccinos, hence the green. 
 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

It's Green

"Mr. Spock, I ha' found anoother barrel." 
"Analysis, Mr. Scott?" 
"It is...er...it's green." 

 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Scotty's Dumpster Dive

"Scott ta Enterprise. Ensign Bloomey discovered two functionally identical dumpsters 'round the rear o' the tower. They're a wee bit filthy, suggesting this civilization has not yet invented sonic cleaning technology. I shudder ta think of what waste might have been carelessly tossed inta these primitive receptacles. However, whoever painted 'em did a decent enough job." 
 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

There Be Barrels Here

"Scott ta Enterprise. I've discovered three cylindrical barrels at the base of the castle, near the main entrance. One be red, one be yellow, one be blue. It canna be a coincidence that these are our department colours, Cap'n." 
 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Film 10,000

I knew that this month I`d see my ten thousandth movie, and I`ve been carefully considering which film to watch for that particular milestone. Unfortunately, earlier tonight I got carried away watching some shorts and accidentally went over the line. Argh! But counting backwards, I now retroactively recognize The First Shot (Brandon Hicks, 2021) as Film 10,000. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Friday, March 19, 2021

Bloody Iron Maiden

One step forward, three steps back--I think this is the worst thing I've painted in quite some time. I was trying to give the impression of old, rotted wood braced by metal strips and topped with a copper icon. Instead, we have a muddy mess. 

The gore-stained interior isn't much better, I'm afraid. I wish I could explain what went wrong here. 

 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Justice Reimagined

To my utter surprise - and maybe it's because my expectations were so low - I did not hate Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021). In fact, I can honestly say that I even enjoyed it, with reservations. This version of the film has more natural humour (though only in sparse doses), Cyborg and Flash are far better developed Batman gets a little more dignity, the action sequences are more effective overall, and the final battle in particular offers genuine jeopardy and suspense--it feels like there are real stakes. The plot actually makes sense now, for the most part. Even Steppenwolf's story is fleshed out, enough to make him an actual villain instead of just CG animation. And we get to see more of Jeremy Irons' Alfred and J.K. Simmons' Commissioner Gordon; both are treats. Amy Adams' Lois Lane doesn't fare quite as well, but she's still more important to the film than she was in the original theatrical release. 

On the downside, the score is terrible except when it includes snippets of Zimmer's themes from past movies. There are still moments that feel out of character for our heroes. There's way too much slow motion. The big new character cameo is welcome to fans, but still feels tacked on. Some sequences could be cut without hurting the film at all. Some of the humanizing moments from the theatrical cut are gone and I miss them, but on the other hand, those cuts make this version more tonally coherent - even if I'm not a fan of Snyder's portentous, somber take on the genre.

As a bonus, comparing this version of Justice League to the theatrical release is a great way to discover the importance of editing.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Dune Buggy

Here's a dune buggy I assembled and painted. I'm pretty happy with the metallic parts. I'm not terribly happy with the driver; I should have painted him or her before I put the model together. It's pretty hard painting an inaccessible interior space. 
 

Monday, March 15, 2021

FISK

This sign is part of a New York City construction site kit meant for use with Marvel: Crisis Protocol. I couldn't find any colour references for the wordmark, so I arbitrarily chose yellow on black. I think it looks decent enough. The raised letters really helped keep my lines straight. 
 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Black Suit Superman

Here's Superman in the black suit from the infamous "Death of Superman" story from back in the 1990s. I came so close to getting the symbol right, but alas! Oh well, it looks decent enough. 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

The Words Behind the Pictures

I don't know exactly how Letterboxd defines a writing credit for the purposes of their database, but I suspect it's broader than just screenplays, judging by some of the names on my list of most-seen films written by these people. 

Having seen all the films that Charlie Chaplin has directed, I suppose it's no surprise that he's also my most-seen writer, too, given the amount of control and involvement Chaplin had in his films. 

The next three names in the list--Maltese, Foster, and Pierce--all wrote a bunch of Looney Tunes shorts. 

Ben Hecht, next on the list, has a fascinating filmography, writing superb films like Notorious, Spellbound, Scarface, Design for Living, Stagecoach, The Thing, and Strangers on a Train, but also z-grade stuff like Queen of Outer Space, the 1967 version of Casino Royale, and Switching Channels. 

Felix Adler wrote Three Stooges shorts. 

Ian Fleming makes the list thanks to James Bond and Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. 

David Lynch, of course, writes or co-writes most of the material he directs.

Clyde Bruckman is another writer of Three Stooges shorts, but also features from comedy greats such as Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. 

Woody Allen, like Chaplin and Lynch, writes much of his own material. 

Stephen King makes the list, I suspect, because of "story by..." credits for the many adaptations of his novels and short stories. 

Laurent Bouzereau produces short documentary "making-of" subjects that appear as special features on many of my discs. 

Orson Welles, again, is another film polymath. 

George Lucas makes the list thanks to Star Wars, Indiana Jones, American Graffiti, etc. 

Sylvester Stallone, I suspect, is here thanks to the Rocky and Rambo franchises. 

Elwood Ullman is another Three Stooges writer. What a fun job that would have been...

Richard Matheson is a well-regarded prose fantasist, SF author, and contributor of teleplays to The Twilight Zone, among other shows. Here for adaptations, much like King, I suspect. 

Ethan Coen is of course one-half of the famous Coen Brothers writing-directing team.

And finally, David Cronenberg is another director who writes much of his own material. 


 

Friday, March 12, 2021

Letterboxd List Progress March 2021

As of tonight, I've now completed two more of Letterboxd's official "Top" lists: AFI's 100 Years, 100 Movies, and the Box Office Mojo All Time 100. The box office list was the hardest to finish off, as there are a lot of terrible films on it, including the three Hobbit movies, which capped the list for me. Looks like the IMDB Top 250 is the one I'll probably finish next. 

If I were to guess which list I'll finish last, it'll probably be 1,001 to See Before You Die. 

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Ninjas on Ice


 

Here's a quartet of ninjas, all of them formerly DC Heroclix figures, rebased and repainted by me. I turned these guys into ebon-clad ninjas mostly because of their poses, but also because hey, I might need ninjas for roleplaying games sometime in the post-COVID future. Too bad they wore their black pyjamas to an arctic environment, though. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Power Ring

Here's Power Ring, Green Lantern's evil Earth-3 counterpart. I'm not terribly happy with this one; my attempts to give the figure definition just make it look kind of muddy, and his chest symbol doesn't have the clarity I was hoping for. The mask looks okay, though; it's the one bright spot. 
 

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Garden of the Defending Angel

Here's another scratch-built monument. This time, I glued together several 28mm miniature bases to form the plinth for the statue, glued the HeroClix "sketch version" of Hawkman on top, glued a real rock to the base, added grass and daffodils, painted the plinth with astrogranite technical paint, and then washed the statue, rock, and plinth with black ink. I considered adding a bench, but I can always place one without gluing it down (and therefore removing it from consideration for other uses). 

This monument looks like it's been more recently maintained than that of The Valiant Four. Perhaps it's of a more recent vintage. 
 

Monday, March 08, 2021

There Really Should Be More Than One Day for Women

It's International Women's Day, so I'll just salute the many incredible women I've known over the course of my life--women who have changed the world through their words, actions, and being. Your accomplishments are building the more just world that the women of tomorrow will inhabit. 

Sunday, March 07, 2021

If I Were Stupid Rich . . .

. . . I'd buy some robots from Fred Barton Productions. Barton's custom 1:1-scale replicas cost up to tens of thousands of dollars each, and boy howdy would I love to have one (or a few) in my theatre room. 

In order of preference: 

Robby the Robot

Gort

Maria

The robot belonging to the Mysterious Dr. Satan

Mr. Barton also creates other replica props, including a 44" C-57D cruiser model and a 1:1 time machine from The Time Machine. 

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Strange New Worlds Wishlist

Strange New Worlds started filming not long ago, so here's my pie-in-the-stars wishlist for the show:

1. Be true to the title. Show us the wonders of the universe, inspired both by Star Trek continuity but also by real-world science. The first episode of For All Mankind season two demonstrated how to do this effectively. Maybe even start with our own solar system, even if it's just the Enterprise picking up some crew from human colonies on Venus or the Moon, Mars, Titan, etc. before the ship embarks on its five-year mission. 

2. Return to the tried-and-true episodic format, the one that gave us classic episodes such as "City on the Edge of Forever," "The Trouble with Tribbles," "The Inner Light," and "Who Watches the Watchers?" If you must include a season arc, make the stakes relatable at a human scale. Let's not save the entire multiverse again, like Star Trek: Discovery, or even just the galaxy, like Star Trek: Picard. How about an arc that saves a work of art, or a relationship, or the soul of just one person? 

3. Hire Bear McCreary to score the show. Failing that, Brian Tyler

4. Hire some real SF writers to contribute verisimilitude and a sense of wonder to the stories. 

5. Build an interesting ensemble cast and develop those characters almost as much as the leads.

6. As with the original series, run still frames of previous episodes over the end credits.

7. Have Captain Pike do some variation of the "Space...the final frontier" intro in the opening titles.

8. Let's have an Andorian, a Tellarite, or an Alpha Centauran in the cast. Or all three, better yet.

9. Have the protagonists lose once in a while, and grow from that experience. 

10. When the series ends, let's have a big series penultimate episode followed by a more introspective epilogue episode in which Pike, knowing his destiny, hands over the keys to Kirk. Then do a Kirk: Year One limited series leading into the events of "Where No Man Has Gone Before."


Thursday, March 04, 2021

The Valiant Four


 




There's a range of HeroClix characters that come in "sketch" versions; that is, they're meant to look like pencil drawings of superheroes before they're inked or coloured. To me, they look like they're hewn from stone, so I put glued four of them to a plain black base, glued that base to a larger, more ornate base, then added sand and foliage effects. I've tried to create the impression of a work that once stood in a carefully-maintained place of great honour, but as the civilization that built the monument faded away, the statue was left to the ravages of time.