Tuesday, 21 November 2017
With all due apology for lack of taste, here's a minor item of local news from here in East Lothian. Apparently, council workmen painting lines along the road near Longniddry managed to paint over a patch of horse manure. Shock horror. My first reaction was that it obviously must have been the responsibility of a different department to shift the stuff, but the council have already explained.
They claim that
(1) it wusnae us - it was a contractor - so that's all right then
(2) it's no so easy to spot this stuff, they paint the lines with a special wagon, you know, and the driver is in a cab, well above the road. Anyone who thought that the painter would be on his knees in the road, working with a big brush and a ruler, go and stand in the corner.
While I was looking for a better picture, I found a much more graphic example, but this is from Kirklees, courtesy of the Huddersfield Examiner [a Mirfield Conservative Councillor described this as "careless" and "beyond belief" - anyone who regards this as evidence of some lack of imagination may also go and stand in the corner].
Since I was now on some sort of roll, I looked online to see if this is a more common problem than I had thought, and came across a show-closing photo of a road line painted over a dead raccoon, from California, at which point I decided to stop. I'll spare you the dead raccoon - I'm sure you can find it through Google if you really want to.
Sunday, 19 November 2017
In a recent post, I mentioned that I have had another bash at watching Abel Gance's classic Napoleon, from 1927, in its restored and enhanced new edition, with magnificent new musical score, previously unseen material and all sorts of bonus wonders. I also admitted that I had made a pretty poor fist of appreciating it thus far, had decided that a casual "bash" at watching it is obviously not the best approach, and had determined that I would set about it in a more businesslike manner.
This, after all, is FILM as high art. Thus it behoves me to approach the matter in a suitably studious and appreciative frame of mind, and there is the other matter of potentially having to write off the £28 or whatever the box set cost me if I don't shape up. Deep down, though, is the awareness that it is not cool to have to admit that one has watched one of the acknowledged classics of the cinema - of all time - and has made nothing at all of it. This is not recommended as a chat-up line at arty parties.
Let's revisit the timeline a bit here - the section of the film which now exists was published by Gance in a 5-hour "Opera" version and a 9-hour "Apollo" cut (cut??). The film in the box set (I think, though I cannot promise I fully understand this yet) was originally to be a section subtitled Bonaparte, which takes us as far as Arcola. Clarity is not helped by the frequent use of colours in printing the movie - by which I mean that it is not a colour film, but that it occasionally switches into monochrome blue (which makes the chaotic battle scenes at Toulon almost impossible to follow) or red, or whatever Gance decides is artistically appropriate. I also still have a problem with the acting - the inserted caption screens with bits of dialogue are few and far between, and some fairly routine exchanges appear to involve a level of melodrama completely out of all proportion to the subject matter. One has to remember that this was a very long time ago, and all the actors on view - including real giants such as Antonin Artaud - came from a theatrical background in which it was necessary for the dimwit on the very back row of the auditorium to realise that a cast member was rolling his eyes. Thus the acting is hammed to high heaven throughout. Remarkable bravura piece of hamming is offered by Artaud himself, as Marat in his bath, who crams more hysteria into a short scene than you would believe possible - and this is before he realises he is being murdered.
|Albert Dieudonné as young Bonaparte|
|Antonin Artaud - who takes getting murdered in the bath to a new level|
Aha! A glimmer of daylight! The commentary is added by Paul Cuff, an expert on the works of Gance, and the author of a number of books on exactly this topic. Thus my new approach is, first of all, to watch each disc with the commentary switched on, and suddenly it all makes a lot more sense. Thereafter, I am all set up to watch it again with the commentary turned off, and I can enjoy the full spectacle and Carl Davis' lovely music soundtrack without worrying about it. This is a major investment of time, but for me it's the only method which is likely to work.
|This is the new, restored and heavily revised edition I'm watching|
(1) the underlying history - the Napoleonic Wars and all that - that's a given
(2) the history of the film itself, including
* Gance's intentions, and most of the screenplay was only sketched out when they started
* Gance's own adventures with successively cutting and re-editing his movie, given the drastic changes of scope it was subject to
* where the movie has been since, and the various re-issues for cinema presentation over the years
* the digital enhancement and restoration of the latest version, and the way in which it has been changed around to incorporate unpublished sections and to make the story hang together rather better
As a random example - in last night's (second disc) re-run, there is this young lady gazing adoringly at young Bonaparte - who is she? Well, the commentator explains that she is the daughter of a chap who was the general dogsbody at Napoleon's school at Brienne (on Disc One - who mysteriously manages to follow the great man throughout his subsequent career, and has duly arrived at Toulon, where he keeps an inn, in time for the siege), and that Gance had loosely planned that she would be a casual love-interest, though the scene which was to explain this has vanished. Further, the murder of Marat was to appear in a later (unpublished) reel, but was stuck into its current location to give a better fit with the historical timeline. You can see how this sort of insight might help.
So it's all good, now - the need for time planning is increased because of the double viewing, but it is a whole lot better.
I shall proceed with greater confidence. I'll start Disc 3 tonight - I'm now actually looking forward to it. If anyone has watched this new edition of the movie, I'd be very interested to hear what you thought of it. I've always had a little problem with the Great Art thing - ever since childhood, I have had a split view - one side of my brain tells me that this is a wonderful, enriching experience, and that it is a privilege to see it and marvel at the creativity and imagination which produced it, while the other side of the brain keeps interrupting with mutterings about my having no idea at all what is going on, and wondering if there are any scones left in the cupboard.
Thursday, 16 November 2017
If you haven't seen this before, it is an illustration from one of a series of Christmas-themed adverts produced by Gregg's, the UK bakery chain. Yes, quite so - probably a bit ill-considered. Daft, in fact. Gregg's reckoned it was meant as a bit of fun, apologised and promptly withdrew it - presumably they will try to recruit some grown-ups for the marketing department. That, you might think, would be an end to the matter - least said, the better.
Now I refuse, point plank, to get into any kind of argument about this. Not unpredictably, there is deep outrage in Twitterland, where the sanctimonious and the disapproving are thick upon the ground. Now people are not only outraged about it, but some are outraged because others are outraged about the wrong aspect of it. You can read about all this (if you can be bothered) in an article in the Independent, here.
There are more things wrong with this picture than you might guess at first glance. Obviously, replacing the infant Jesus with a sausage roll, for the adoration of the wise men, is a bit unorthodox, though, of course, the advert doesn't say that it's a straight swap - it's sort of implied. But never mind that, there's also the further business about Jesus being a Jew, so that not only is this horrifying to rather literal-minded Christians, but the association of pork sausages with Jewish people is also deeply offensive. Also, the wise men are almost certainly manufactured in China, which brings some further issues, but we'll swerve that one.
I tell you what - I hope you have a very pleasant, peaceful Whatever-You-Prefer-to-Call-This- Festival; perhaps someone will be kind enough to come and wake me up when it's all over. I'll be in the attic. I have no problem with Christmas, it's just the bloody people.
Sunday, 12 November 2017
|Old figures, old magazines - must get a cup of Horlicks...|
Apart from the fact that his letter is an unashamed plug for his figures (and quite rightly so), Mr Styles is in some danger of getting us all back into the eternal "how tall is a man?" and "height or soles-to-eyes?" debates, which in turn will get us back into the traditions of the German flats industry and all points south. J-M mentions in passing that Styles is wrong about the existence of 1/350 as a viable scale, since Helmet Products made 1/350 aircraft from about 1975 - some visible here.
The important point (if there is one) is that the letter gives a manufacturer's view of scales from the same period as the Claymore show I referred to.
Since I am nothing if not persistent (or, alternatively, since I am a relentless bore when I feel the urge), I have come up with the original article by Charles S Grant, from the November 1983 issue. It seemed that it must have said something fairly controversial, judging from Mr Styles' response. So here it is - in fact it is pretty bland (with all due respect) - it also reminds me, now I come to think of it, why I stopped reading Military Modelling a couple of years before this - too many interests covered too thinly, too much vanilla, too much courtesy offered to the advertisers.
Still on the topic of very small men, I received an email from the Jolly Broom Man (who is also in France, as it happens), with some pictures of his 6mm Baccus ECW troops. I like them - they have a determined, jaunty look which is very pleasing - don't mess with these boys!
JBM was inspired by my guest picture of Steve Cooney's Hinton Hunt ECW cuirassiers to make the point that headswaps in 6mm scale are a daunting idea - though I'm sure someone has done it. In fact, if anyone has ever done it, I would suspect it might have been my good friend Lee, which gives me an excuse to show some old photos of his 6mm Baccus ECW troops, which have subsequently moved on to a new owner (and I, for one, miss them!).
|The second half of the fusiliers are ready, in the Next in Queue box - scheduled |
to start on Monday evening
|The flankers and various command odd-bods are in one of the big store |
boxes, along with the finished chaps, who don't cover much of the base area yet!
***** Late Edit *****
I received a rather apologetic email from Steve C, who supplied the big shipment of DKs, lamenting that he might have given me a huge amount of work to do to get them into shape; somewhat shamefaced, I've been re-reading my post, to check I hadn't accidentally been rude about them!
It is kind of Steve to get back in touch with me, but I have to emphasise (to him and everyone else) that I bought them knowing exactly what they were, am very pleased with them, and really wouldn't have started on the job if I hadn't thought they were worth the effort. I'm sorry that I sometimes express myself imprecisely - enthusiasm rather than malice! - and I shall attempt to be more careful in future. Thanks again Steve - no worries, mate!
Friday, 10 November 2017
Steve is very skilled with his conversion work - a true master of the soldering iron. He has recently supplied me with a shed-load of French Napoleonic infantry; these are mostly old Der Kriegsspieler castings, which he has modified to lengthen the legs a little, to make them more directly compatible with Hinton Hunt. I'm working my way through these, retouching as necessary to freshen the colours and rejuvenate them a bit. Retouching is always a challenge - knowing when to stop is important, and I have the further benchmark of trying to make sure that the figures end up somewhere close to the quality of Steve's original paintwork!
Since there will be a delay before my proposed Bavarian project can start in earnest (I'm waiting for a shipment of figures, and have a lot more to order up), this job will serve to keep my eye in. Because I'm using many colours simultaneously, I've set up a proper (well, improvised) wet palette, which is a big help, saving time and cutting down the waste of paint.
These French troops will need a few weeks' work, and I also have to collect some suitable command figures for them, but once completed they will contribute most of another division for my Salamanca forces.
Thanks again, Steve.
Monday, 6 November 2017
|Modern photo looking east from the crash site - Bass Rock and the houses at |
Rhodes Holdings in the right distance - Tesco is behind you and to your left!
|This is the Heugh crash - the view in the background is almost identical to the |
photo at the top of this post
|And here we are looking west from the crash site, across the farm fields towards |
North Berwick Law - our very own local extinct volcano...
|Wings removed, the Henkel is towed along Dirleton Avenue in North Berwick, on |
its way to Turnhouse
|King George VI visited Drem airfield 3 weeks later, for a ceremony in which Farquhar|
was awarded the DFC - I think the figure on the far left is Dowding
Most of the pictures and links here are from the most excellent Coastrider blog, which is well worth a visit by cycling enthusiasts. If you share any of this stuff, please do mention where it came from.
[Pronunciation - for non-Scots, the word Heugh is not so easy - phonetically, it sounds like HYOOCH, just a single syllable, where the OO is quite short and the CH is like the ending of the Scottish word loch - the softest, aspirate, dry sound like the end of the German mich, but if you're getting even close to sch then it's not dry enough! - come on - further back on the roof of your mouth - here, have another beer...]
Thursday, 2 November 2017
|The General from the Braid Hills|
|Peter's thoughts on 5mm - despite what he says here, his interest in |
manoeuvre resulted in his sticking with the 30-second moves!
|Ancient, appropriately grey photo of Adam House|