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Monday, May 31, 2021

The Discovery Musical

At the end of Star Trek: Discovery's second season set about a decade before the events of the original series, the Discovery crew jumps forward in time. When the show's third season begins, they have arrived in the 32nd century, about 900 years beyond their native time. 

The events of season three kept the Discovery's crew very busy, with no time to catch up on the history of the 900 years they skipped. Thus we, the audience, are deprived of seeing the character reactions to what happened to their cultures and homeworlds and the Federation itself in the intervening years. 

Wouldn't it be great if the producers developed a lighthearted two-part episode to bring the characters--and the audience--up to speed on the history of the Federation from the 2360s to the 3180s? Presenting 900 years of history without turning the lesson into an exposition dump would be tricky, so why not deliver the goods the fun way every one loves--via musical? 

I'm half-serious. I really would like to learn what happened to the Federation after Picard and before the "present day" of Discovery. And I'd love to see how the crew reacts to the adventures of the Star Trek characters we're familiar with from the 23rd and 24th centuries. But beyond that, wouldn't it be neat if the showrunners used the episodes to comment on an important issue: how history is written and interpreted, and the challenge of capturing truth at a distance of hundreds of years. Who knows how much history has been distorted by the time of the Federation rump state? Who knows how 32nd century humanoids view the legends of the past? 

Plus, the exercise would give future showrunners a broad framework of how the Federation might have evolved after Picard and before the Burn. 

Well. Something to consider, anyway. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Secret of the Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain
beside the white

whose bright idea
was it

to hide the nuclear

in the green

among this chicken

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Brick House

Here's a brick house to befriend the stone house I posted yesterday. Shades of red (and brown for the door), plus ink wash. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Stone Cottage

Here's a little stone cottage. I started with a base coat of medium grey, then drybrushed some lighter grey over the stones, and finished off with drybrushing a hint of copper atop the stone. The roof, of course, is brown. I finished the model with a sepia-tinted ink wash. Overall I think this looks pretty decent, though I'm not sure my experiment with copper really paid off. Maybe a shade of white or bone would have been better; or, going in the opposite direction, black. 

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Death Train Doesn't Bomb

Death Train (David Jackson, 1993; also known as Detonator in some territories) is better than I expected. A low-budget thriller made for TV, the story follows a small team of counter-terrorists who must foil the plot of a rogue ex-Soviet general who's made two atomic bombs and wants to blow them up for reasons unknown, putting the bombs on a hijacked train rolling across Europe. Patrick Stewart and Pierce Brosnan have to recapture the bombs before ultimate disaster. 

Stewart and Brosnan are in fine form, and they make a great team. The villain has reasonable motivations (from his point of view). And the planning, action, and tactics are compelling but still realistic. Production values aren’t spectacular, but it almost feels like the low budget forced the creatives to improvise and come up with clever solutions that fit the need. 

For some reason, Patrick Stewart's character has a cast on one arm for at least the first third of the movie. After that it vanishes. At no point is there any explanation for the cast. A strange choice. 

Death Train does feel something like a failed pilot for a TV series in the style of Mission: Impossible, but that’s okay; one feels as though this might have been a pretty good show had it been extended into a series.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Hairy Caveman

Two steps forward, one step back, as ever. I managed to fix my caveman's face, but after that I applied too much ink wash, particularly to the caveman's lower abdomen. Rather than paint over with Caucasian tones again to fix that mistake, I instead opted to use a black weathering pencil to add some hair to the entirety of his chest. I thought that looked okay, so I tried adding "hair" to the arms and legs as well. Results are mixed. I guess you could say he simply looks dirty now, which I think works fine in most contexts for a caveman character. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Here Comes Mr. Lennon

"I've never seen anything as beautiful as that, not even in heaven." 

I first heard this line back in 1989, when Julian Lennon released his single "Now You're in Heaven." I've listened to that song over and over in the years since; it was a favourite from the moment I first heard it. I didn't know the source of the sampled line of dialogue, but I felt it worked in the context of the song. 

This morning, while watching the Best Picture-nominated fantasy film Here Comes Mr. Jordan,  I heard the sampled line in its original context: It was first uttered by actor Robert Montgomery who, as recently-deceased boxer Joe Pendleton, says the line when he first sees Evelyn Keyes as Bette Logan. A strange romance blooms, overseen by the magnificent Claude Rains as the titular Mr. Jordan. 

I love little connections like this--bits of popular culture intersecting backwards and forwards through time. 

The name of Lennon's 1989 album, from which the single originated, was, of course, Mr. Jordan

Monday, May 24, 2021

Sunday, May 23, 2021


Here is a caveman. I attempted to paint a face for this little fellow, with mixed results. The beard turned out all right, but his left eye wound up merging into the beard a bit. Maybe it's just a shadow. 

I think I'll add a bit of flesh colour to his cheekbone to create a border between the eye socket and the beard. And he needs an ink wash, too. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Wall Test

Some time ago I supported Modular Realms on Kickstarter. They produce modular, magnetic 28mm-scale terrain pieces you can fit together into various dungeons, rivers, city streets, and so on. My order came with one misprinted part, quickly and painlessly replaced by the folks at Modular Realms. 

But the misprinted part hasn't gone to waste. As you can see above, I used the extra part to test some paints. The brown works for the wood sections, and I like the dark grey for stone. I'm less taken with the light grey and the yellow, used for some of the stone block pieces. I do like the black and copper. 

Friday, May 21, 2021

Relay Station XB-109

I painted a communications tower, or perhaps a radio telescope. Either way, it'll be a nice bit of terrain for Twilight: 2000 or Villains & Vigilantes. 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Space Normalcy

Sky Chaos to Private Dick
Sky Chaos to Private Dick
Give our lipid sprays and take our booties off

(One) Sky Chaos (Two) to Private Dick (Three, four)
(Five) Ending T-plus (Six), brakes are off
(Six, seven, eight)
Ignore fuses (Nine) and may Satan's hate (Touchdown) leave you

This isn't Sky Chaos to Private Dick
We've barely unmade the level
But the scissors don't care whose pants you doff
This isn't Private Dick to Sky Chaos
You're retreating up the window
But you're falling out a least ordinary mean
But the planets hear quite similar yesterday

For there aren't you standing on your lead jar
Close below the Moon
Star Antares isn't red
But there's something you can't don't

Though you're future zero kilometres
You're thinking barely fast
But you feel your wagon doesn't know which mean to stop
Hear your husband you hate him not at all
He's ignorant
Sky Chaos to Private Dick
Our gear's alive, there's nothing right
May I see you, Private Dick?
May I see you, Private Dick?
May I see you, Private Dick? 
May I - 

-There aren't you standing on your lead jar
Close below the Earth
Star Antares isn't red
But there's something you can't don't 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Ready for Shipping

I painted these barrels, drums, crates, and pallets. Then I glued stacks of cargo onto the pallets. These will go into my 28mm-scale warehouse, when I build it. What will the exploring players find should they dare to ransack this helpless cargo? 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Merciless Kill

Late this afternoon, I heard the telltale scream signalling that Sylvia had encountered a bug. "GET THE ZAPPER!" she cried from the theatre room, and I dutifully strolled over to retrieve it.

The bug zapper is new to our household. Sylvia is tired of the small insects that sometimes breach our defences, so she bought the zapper. It looks like a tennis racket, but when you press a button on the handle the "strings" of the racket pulse electricity. It was time to put this new device to the test. 

To my surprise, there was indeed a ladybug crawling on our theatre room couch, mere centimetres away from Sylvia. 

"Oh, you used to like ladybugs," I remarked. 

"KILL IT!" Sylvia shrieked, bringing me back into the moment. Rather than do the dirty deed myself, I handed the zapper to Sylvia. In a fluid motion that utterly belied her disability, she swatted the ladybug at the same instant she depressed the zapper's trigger. 

There was a fiery flash of light and a great CRACK! that seemed to split the air. Astonished, we saw that the ladybug had been utterly obliterated--not a trace remained, no chitin, no ash, no fried innards, nothing. 

"You vaporized it!" I cried. 

Sylvia looked a bit sheepish, but I know she'll do it again when she must. 

Sylvia had indeed once liked ladybugs, until the fateful day when one betrayed her by opening its shell suddenly, revealing its wings, and then flew past her face. The moment startled Sylvia so badly that she vowed never to trust any bug again, no matter how cute. 

She does make an exception for bees, "Because they're fuzzy." 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Tarzan's Mildest Adventure

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (Hugh Hudson, 1984) offers a respectful treatment of Edgar Rice Burroughs' original adventure novel. Performances are mostly solid, especially that by Ian Holm; the production is sumptuou; and the screenplay really isn't bad. Indeed, it's reasonably faithful to the first novel in the long-running series.

But somehow the magic is missing. John Clayton's origins are tragic, of course, and that section of the film works. And Burroughs' critique of "civilization" is well-represented. But the spirit of adventure that defined the legend of Tarzan is almost wholly lacking; there is very little derring-do, there are no lost civilizations, treasure hoards, pirates, poachers, or slavers; none of the kid stuff that captivated so many young readers. Plus, what we see of the African jungle feels confined, restrictive, and brutal; its beauty and wide open spaces are barely glimpsed.

I applaud the producers for the effort; this isn't a bad film by any means. It's just a bit dull, and in that sense unworthy of the King of the Jungle.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Superwide Shanty

Here's the third and last (?) of my ragtag collection of thrown-together shacks. 

The other side of the shanty. 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Ode to Boris

He was The Man They Could Not Hang
The Man Who Lived Again
Doomed to Die
The Man with Nine Lives
The Phantom of the North
The Body Snatcher"
The Mad Genius
The Mummy
The Terror
The Ghoul
British Intelligence
The Invisible Menace
The Public Defender
King of the Wild, King of the Kongo
Dynamite Dan, The Incredible Doktor Markesan

At The Old Dark House on Black Sabbath he chose his Targets
A Hatchet for the Honeymoon, as The Devil Commands
He held The Night Key to The Strange Door to The Black Room
Saw the Ghost in the Invisible Bikini
Counted down The Fatal Hour, held The Yellow Ticket
Ruled The Fear Chamber on Devil's Island
Lured the Son of Frankenstein--Die, Monster, Die! 

He was all this, he did all this and more--but furthermore--

He was--Karloff!

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Cement Mixer

Here's a 32mm-scale cement mixer. The Fisk logo isn't perfect, but I didn't mess with it because I like the slightly worn, beat-up look it has. In fact, the rest of the paint job maybe looks too pristine in comparison. I think I'll apply some wear with my weathering pencils. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Mr. Peanut Delivers

 Over a decade ago, I complained about the lack of Brazil nuts in a foil bag of Planters mixed nuts. Recently I acquired three 250g tins of Planters mixed nuts; they were on sale for less than three dollars each. The first tin contained a paltry pair of Brazils, which was annoying but not catastrophic. The second tin had exactly zero Brazil nuts. In high dudgeon, I prepared to rant again on this blog about the paucity of the finest nut, despite having the benefit of Jeff Shyluk's scientific explanation of the Brazil-less phenomenon. 

But today I opened the third tin, and  I saw this: 

Yes, resting atop the pile of mixed nuts, in accordance with granular convection (AKA the Brazil nut effect), were two-and-a-half Brazils. Astonished, I poked around with my finger and found a fourth Brazil struggling to reach the surface of the pile. I am almost afraid to explore further, but I don't want to look a gift nut in the ear, so I'll enjoy the three-and-a-half in my possession and celebrate if more turn up. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A Small Stretch

Here is a rack. Woe betide the adventurer who falls into the hands of the mad miscreant who owns such a device. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

New Californians

Months ago, I painted these miniatures for the Fallout: New California board game expansion. To my eyes, the Mr. Handy robot and the person in power armour turned out okay, while the rest are middling at best. I think my painting skills have improved since I tackled this motley crew. 

Sunday, May 09, 2021

My Mother's Mother

Our Mother's Day plans for this year were partially foiled by weather, COVID-19, and family illness, but Sylvia and I managed brief visits with her mother and mine to check in and wish them well. This Mother's Day I'm particularly grateful that Mom remains healthy and sharp-minded, and that she's now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Fingers crossed this also means she's protected against the new variants bubbling up around the world, but luckily Mom is smart and cautious so I'm confident she's going to be okay. 

Earlier today Mom sent over this photo of her mother, my maternal grandmother. It was taken on the Leask farm sometime in the 19-teens. She looks quite vibrant here! It's an image I've never seen before, and I'm grateful to have it - not as grateful as I am to have Mom, of course. 

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Checkpoint Champion

 Here's a checkpoint or guard station or observation bluff, I'm not sure which.

I feel like I should have perhaps used fewer colours. On the other hand, maybe in-universe this little building was simply painted by someone with bad taste or colour blindness. 

Figures for scale. 

Friday, May 07, 2021

Shanty Tower

Here's a two-story shanty to accompany the smaller version I shared yesterday. Painting the insides after I'd already glued the top and bottom stories together turned out to be quite a challenge. You'd think I'd have learned this lesson by now...

Thursday, May 06, 2021

A Not-Too-Shabby Shanty

I painted a ramshackle shanty for the 28mm inhabitants of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Part of a housing project for Fallout and other games. 

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

The Last Wish

A sigil branded on a star
Signals seekers from afar
From one quintillion worlds they come
To the last snark, to the last boojum

A journey longer than Time and thought
Racing the final night before the cold brings the quarks to a halt
Before star and sigil collapse into a place and time beyond understanding

But still they come
For the promise of one last wish
Before it's all over

Monday, May 03, 2021

Pickup Graveyard

Here we find a pickup's graveyard, the wreck slowly being reclaimed by nature. This one was fun; I experimented with different shades of yellow, added rust and bare metal effects with weathering pencils, and added some vegetation to the base. Depending on scale, this might make a nice piece of scenery for Car Wars, a game Sean and I Kickstarted a while back that should finally reach us sometime this year. Not that we can play it yet, thanks to the pandemic...

Some more views of the truck: 

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Nebbachyn, the Terror of Michandro

My friend Jeff bought a 3D printer a few weeks ago, and he's been experimenting with it. Last week, he brought me an orc he'd printed, which I gratefully painted today. I call him Nebbachyn, the Terror of Michandro. It's hard to see in the photo, but I experimented with different shades of green for the orc's skin in the hopes of adding a little more realism. I think he turned out pretty well. Thanks, Jeff!

Saturday, May 01, 2021

A Fishy Culinary Tradition


Whose idea was it to add breading or batter to fish? Fish is delicious when fried or seared, rich in flavour and texture. Breading it just masks the flavour and makes the whole dish feel much heavier than it should. 

Maybe I'm spoiled. Mom and Dad used to catch fresh fish from the pristine lakes of northern Manitoba and clean and fry the fillets right at the campground. The pickerel and trout they prepared in those days remains my favourite meal of all time. All fish since has paled in comparison. 

Even so, I can still enjoy fish if it's not wrapped in a casing of fried lard and butter. 

Fish: better without the batter.