Monday, April 29, 2013

The Monday Papers: Part Three

Lady reading the paper with her cat 
 woodblock print, ca. 1800s 
 Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Portrait of the YouTuber in a very fetching hat

I've been reading Nikolas Lloyd for simply years, almost ten years now that I think of it. He first came to my attention because of his website devoted to the wargame Crossfire, which I don't play anymore. But if I came for the wargaming, I stayed for everything else. Lloyd is a chap whose heart is definitely in the wrong place and I disagree with him almost as often as I agree, but he writes well and maintains a YouTube channel on such varied subjects as Ancient & Medieval Weapons, Swing Dancing, Film, Psychology and general observations on life.  His videos are brief, entertaining and well worth watching, I urge you to pay him some attention. 

You'll find his website here

Some of my favourites from his YouTube channel. 

We hate the them that are almost us. 
Some points about arrows. 

Collated by theme.

Weapons & Armour
General Chat
Dance Videos

Really rather good

To be honest, I don't know much about Melvyn Bragg except that he wrote "The Hired Man", a musical of which Mrs. Kinch is exceedingly fond.  I am less fond it, though it's not without it's charms.  However, when he is not visiting the terpsichorean muse upon an unsuspecting public, he presents a show on BBC Radio 4 called "In our Time".  

I must confess that Uber brought this to my attention and I've been absolutely hooked ever since. It's billed as a discussion of the history of ideas, but each episode is essentially a team of experts holding forth on a topic for forty minutes, with Mr. Bragg playing the part of an educated layman who asks a series of questions to draw out the boffins.

I haven't listened to a bad one yet and I was going to write some recommendations, but actually - I recommend the lot unreservedly. If you fancy spending forty minutes (and they are all forty minutes long, brevity is the soul of wit) learning about something about which you know nothing, this is the place to go. Top notch.

The Choir of Ely Cathedral sing "Now the Green Blade riseth". 

For a variety of reasons, things at Chateau Kinch have not been exactly plain sailing of late, Mrs Kinch's health being a major concern amongst other things.  However, we had the very great pleasure of attending the christening on Saturday of Clare, the sister of Kathryn, the little girl whose death inspired the Boyne Walk that Du Gourmand and I embarked upon.  The turn out was great and we had a wonderful time enjoying the hospitality afterwards, I only regret that an impending night shift preventing me from staying longer. 

Mrs Kinch levered me out of bed this afternoon after the night shift in question and we trooped off to evensong where we heard the above hymn, which neither of us were familiar with. It's a beautiful piece about life, resurrection and imperishable quality of love. 

I hope you enjoy it, it brought all the joyful, hopeful and uplifting feelings of the previous day flooding back.  Apparently the melody is an old French peasant song, but as that arch cynic Noel Coward wrote in Private Lives. 

"Extraordinary how potent cheap music is."

Friday, April 26, 2013

30mm Base Guild Competition - Soviet Dshk

Dakka dakka dakka

This was painted as an entry for the 30mm base competition at the Guild

I'm note entirely sure when I'll get to use this, but to be fair - that's never stopped me before. 

The Elheim castings are very clean and I'm happy with them. Everything went together with the minimum of fuss. 

The muzzle flash is some Woodland Scenics clump foliage that I painted red and then dry brushed yellow. It's not a material that takes paint particularly well and I think I might have to wait a little longer and drybrush some additional yellow, but on the whole it's not so bad. 

They are not particularly to scale, but I added some chopped brass rod shell casings as well. I think they liven the base up a bit. 

Now off to do some real work. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

30mm base Guild Build

Cut the base from plasticard - check the measurements

The Guild runs what they call speed builds every so often. It's a silly thing really, you put a model together in order to satisfy some arbitrary criteria and you get a little medal ribbon for it, but it is fun. I always seem to forget these things, but I was determined to try and get something done in the two weeks assigned for this one. 

Crew assembled and undercoated

I chose an Elheim Soviet Dshk because I had one lying around, though curiously enough I can't seem to find much evidence in the TO&E of them being used in Motor Rifle Regiments, though I shall have to go looking again. I'm sure would use them as they're too useful not to have around, but how exactly seems a little sketchy. 

Almost finished product

A little more work needs to be done, though it was done rather quickly. I'll think of something. 

Heffalumps & other unfinished things

An unfinished Heffalump 

I spent this morning in the garden, hunting Heffalumps with the assistance of Flashman. Sissi is rather too sensible to go in search of Heffalumps apparently, though she was somewhat discomfited when we found one. 

The above is a HAT Indian elephant from their ancients range, though he will soon be stomping and roaring into the 19th century if I have anything to do with it.  He was painted in spare moments over the last few days with no particular reference other than painting colours that pleased me. 

Resplendent Heffalump

His mahout is looking a little underdressed and will have to be finished off. I'll be mounting him at the rear of a war cart drawn by oxen and mounting a cannon, though I think the oxen, cart and elephant will need to be on seperate bases. 

Two distinctly less attractive creatures

These are Airfix Saracen armoured personnel carriers and they present a far less attractive aspect than the elephant I can tell. They are rather too early for my BAOR and will be doing duty in my Soviet occupied London as transport for the collaborationist militia. With that in mind, I have assembled them as Mark II versions without the desert adaptations.   

Out on patrol

I generally have a horror of Airfix kits - as they are really painful to put together, but these were actually very pleasant as they are ex-JB models I believe.  I took my time putting them together and there were no problems, mysterious gaps or any of the other issues that seem to arise when I put a hand to polystyrene cement. 

Gunner at the rear

I was pondering how to distinguish the two as stowage isn't really an option with police vehicles (it would be stolen for one thing) when I thought of adding a chap to the rear hatch. This fella came with a carrier set that Mrs Kinch got me for Christmas last year and was originally toting a fuel can. I cut him off at the elbows and trimmed the arm to fit. I think he looks rather well actually. I imagine that the Saracen would carry a driver and a section leader/gunner under the Soviets, as I think that was how they organised their BTR squads. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Monday Papers

Portrait of the author as a young dog

I almost forgot to write this today as I had other things to do - but actually publishing this on Tuesday appears to be something of a Joy & Forgetfulness tradition.

Podcasts from the National Archives

The web is full of hidden riches and there are plenty of good things out there. I was directed to this by chum and all round good egg UberAlex.  The National Archives in the UK have a large number of podcasts available for download on a wide variety of subjects. You can find them here.

Of particular interest to readers of Joy & Forgetfulness are;

Anthony Beevor on Stalingrad
Ben McIntyre on Spying during the Second World War 
Ralph Thompson on The Post-Restoration Army 

Pen & Paper

I love paper and pens. My father is a calligrapher and while my penmanship will never be as good as his; I respect the craft. Professionally, the ability to make clear, readable notes has been invaluable - but I think perhaps one of the many gifts my father gave me was a appreciation of the care and attention required for the correct forming of letters.   I am in my way, a very 21st century man, I use 21st century tools and live a life that is only made possible for information technology that has cropped up in the last twenty years. That said, I compose most of my prose long hand, I keep a prayer notebook* and I write and receive letters.

Composing with a pen and paper enforces a certain discipline that doesn't come from typing on a keyboard. Much like life, you can't erase your mistakes and that brings with the necessity to stop, to think and to compose. This chap seems to agree with me. 

Try writing a letter or two. You might surprise yourself.

A Terrible Old Man

The Unlikely Douglas McKenzie in addition to being a man much given to puns, has a gift for the spoken world. He is a rather good reader and has been taking part in a project to read or create dramatic recordings of the public domain works of H.P. Lovecraft.

You can hear his recording of "Dagon" here.

*If you can achieve the syllabic balance desirable in an Anglican collect in your head, I will show you a cleverer man than I.

Monday, April 22, 2013

One for the album

Squad One

In preparation for a game last week, I finally finished off my Elheim Soviet Motor Rifle Platoon. The BMP-2's were painted by Krisztian, but the figures are all me. I took the TO&E from the "From Kabaul with love" scenario in the Cold War Gone Hot book, though given that my year for the balloon going up is 1979, they are a little late. I shall have to take a PKM and a grenade launcher out of each section to make them right, but that is no particular hardship.

Squad Two

The officer chap with the pistol would actually be carrying an AK, but this makes it a little clearer. The Soviets only had one manpack radio at the platoon level, relying on the radios in their vehicles. One other issue that came to me was the lack of an obviously NCO figure in the soviet packs, a chap pointing or generally looking bossy would be rather good.

Squad Three

I have some decals and weathering to add to the BMPs, but we're ticking along. 

Group Shot "Sergei, stop pulling faces, this one is for the album."

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A touch of Borsch

Motor Rifleman with an RPK 

In preparation for some more Cold War shenanigans, I've been slowly tipping away at a few more Soviet Motor Riflemen. These are some rather beautiful figures from Matt at Elheim and they really are something. 

A very dapper sniper

I never tire of this chap, I just love the pose. Motor Rifle Platoons were issued a single Dragunov which was given to a Platoon Marksman. I imagine this chap thinks he's Leningrad's answer to Robert De Niro in the Deer Hunter. 

Two Riflemen 

This completes my Soviet Motor Rifle Platoon. The TOE (culled from a variety of sources) for one of those is as follows. 

Platoon Leader
Radio Operator

There are two free seats in the BMP-2, so the Platoon Leader and his radioman bunk in with one of the sections. 

BMP-2 (three of these)

Section Leader
BMP Driver
BMP Gunner
RPG-7 Gunner
RPK Gunner
Four Riflemen

And what is this???

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Monday Papers: Part Two

Have you see this woman? 

I meant to do this last night, but circumstances intervened. Mrs Kinch hasn't been very well of late and has been back and forth to the doctor with a particularly nasty infection. Unfortunately, she had an allergic reaction to her antibiotics last night and began to develop difficulty breathing. It's all been sorted out, but it did involve a romantic several hours in Casualty (worst datenight ever).  I'm currently investigating the possibilities of investing in Evil Gypsy Curse Insurance(1) as it seems that Mrs Kinch just can't seem to catch a break at the moment. 

That said, whatever tendency one might have to feel sorry for oneself, the events in Boston certainly put things in perspective. God be with them all. 

Reading the newspaper by Fyodor Bronnikov

But, how and ever, on to the papers....

Podcast: Ken & Robin talk about stuff

Ken Hite is a Lovecraftian scholar, Fortean, game designer, writer, raconteur and all round good egg.  Robin Laws is a game designer, writer and other all round good egg (though he does have some rather odd ideas about hot cross buns). Every week they get together and record "Ken & Robin Talk about stuff", a magazine style podcast that never lasts much more than an hour.  I find this the ideal length for a podcast (sorry Meeples & Miniatures and View from the Verandah) as it means that I actually get to listen to the whole damn thing.  Topics under discussion have included roleplaying game theory, cinema, probably the best discussion of the 2012 US Presidential election I've heard before or since, the Volstead Act of 1919, Blackwater and the CIA, occultism, 17th century French Satanism, the politics of Toronto and Joseph Stalin. I can't recommend this podcast enough, I don't generally listen to anything that encompasses politics, but Ken and Robin are adult enough to have a discussion that doesn't end in name calling and it's made all the better by the fact that Robin is a slovenly liberal (or Canadian, which is fundamentally the same thing) while Ken is a American Republican with some decidedly iffy ideas on Constitutional Monarchy.

Death & Photography

I make a great noise about not caring for the 21st century much, but there are advantages - mainly that I am about to grouse about it.  As a man who spent a great deal of his childhood being seriously ill in one way or the other, it is quite likely that in an earlier age I would not survived to amuse you with jokes about French Marshalls batons or pictures of my cat.

Do not try this at home. Sissi is a trained stunt cat.

As I get older the more I admire our 19th century forebears. They lived tough lives and experienced death and hardship daily in a a way that we don't understand. If we have healthier attitudes to sex than they did (and I'm not so sure of that), we definitely are less capable than they are of dealing with death well.  I've seen rather more death than I'd like in the last few years, both personally and professionally, and I've come to the conclusion that we've lost the knack.  In a way we are the victim of our own success, we see death so seldom.

Photography in the mid 19th century was difficult and expensive and most people would only have a few. Consequently, children who did not survive infancy were often only photographed after death. These are hard pictures to look at - but instructive I think, the only surviving image a parent would have of a lost child.

You can see them here.

The pure joy of Keely Smith

After that sombre note - Louis Prima needs hardly an introduction. If however, you have been living in some sort of cultural waste land, you will recognise his magnificent voice from King Louis ("The King of the Swingers") in Disney's The Jungle Book if nothing else.

Less well known, and undeservedly so, is the beautiful Keely Smith, who was Prima's frequent collaborator and played the straight girl to his antics.  She is still performing at the ripe old age of -ahem- and is as good as ever. You owe it to yourself to hear her. 

(1) My apologies - Itinerant Person of Different Moral Outlook Insurance.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Quelle Catastrophe!

Unfortunately, my father in law and I got a little over enthusiastic with the cat bothering device. 

However, a toy that is this much fun cannot be allowed to lie fallow. I shall have to replace the throwing arm somehow.  Hard wood might shatter, but soft wood is obviously too soft. I shall have to put my thinking cap on. 

"The bayonet is a wise man and the bullet is a fool"

I'll need some Russian line grenadiers for my Russian army and the Strelets chaps looked like a good choice. I have four units of these boys based up and awaiting a slap of PVA before being sprayed and painted. The Strelets set while nice, lacks NCOs, officers and musicians, which may prove a problem. I'll have to go through my bits box and see if there isn't something that might not benefit from a head swap. 

Plenty of stuff about the nuclear battlefield, sobering stuff

I picked this up in a second hand bookshop the other day and I'm finding it interesting reading. It's probably a bit early  for what I'm interested in ('79-'80) - but the basics are all there.  The section on patrolling is particularly good, I must say and I'm sure I don't smell a game in it somewhere. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I have a rendezvous with death

The field of Mars

We played a game last night which was all the better because it was unplanned.  I've been meaning to try some Savage Worlds for a while and there seemed no point in missing the opportunity. We've played quite a bit of SW, but it's all been in the black powder era.   This was a Cold War fight during the (thankfully fictional) Soviet invasion of Central Europe. I just picked up a few figures, threw some buildings on the table and came up with a quick game. 

The scenario was that a British army helicopter had shot down in Holland while carrying several senior officers. The crash had been spotted by a foot patrol from the Loamshire regiment who were closing in to check for survivors. Unfortunately, a Soviet fighting patrol also spotted the crash and have been sent to investigate. 

The Villainous LeGlace twirls his moustache

 The players in this instance were the Villainous LeGlace, a treacherous and dastardly member of the fourth estate, who characteristically played the Soviets. England, home and beauty were represented by the Unlikely Douglas McKenzie, noted scientician and punster. 

The gun group covering the advance of the manoeuvre group across the disputed barricade

The figures were Elheim Soviets and Liberation/RH Models Falklands War British. The helicopter was from a part work magazine and the terrain is a mixture of Dapol plastic kits and whatever I had to hand. 

Apple blossoms fill the air

We played on the kitchen table as the War Room is still out of commission  though I am very, very happy with the progress that has been made.  Note the typically Dutch field of tulips. 

At this stage, the British had advanced up to the helicopter, while the Russians were dashing through the town.

The British patrol leader, called Rupert naturally enough, slots a Russian in the semi

Exchange of fire from the house

There was a prolonged firefight between the first Soviet squad in the semi and the British group who were pepper potting forward to the helicopter. The glass at the rear is full of Crested Ten, a birthday gift from Villainous LeGlace, no doubt purchased with the filthy lucre he earns by doing down the widow and orphan. My knowledge of whiskey is slim, but this is was very, very good and certainly worth the shattered lives and blasted reputations. 

Rupert spots his opposite number (not pictured)

As it was a playtest game, we kept the number of characters (as opposed to squaddies) on the table low. However, a potentially game changing shot happened when the British officer in command of the patrol spotted his opposite number and snapped off two rounds. These would have killed him out right, but for the use of Bennies (a sort of fate point mechanic that allowed special characters to re-reroll to not die). 

It may be I shall pass him still

The Russian officer badly shaken is dragged behind a house by his radio operator and sergeant.  Unlikely McKenzie was greatly pleased by this, sadly the rest of the section and in fact the British shooting as a whole  was not up to the same standard. The GPMG in particular would have made any musketry instructor weep. 

Smoke appears

The second Soviet squad completes it's flanking maneuvre, while the Loamshires ransack the burning aircraft. We had forgotten the burning helicopter would block line of sight, despite establishing that it would at the beginning of the game. I added some pillow stuffing as a visual aid. 

Russian loitering - err - flanking around a gentleman's convenience

While the Soviets flanked the British position, the Loamshires discovered that both senior officers were killed in the crash. However, there were sensitive documents on board that would be of considerable use to the Soviets and Lt. Bare realised that whatever happened these must be kept out of their hands. 

Some scarred slope of some battered hill

As we were still getting to grips with the rules, there was a sudden outbreak of going prone which improved everyone's chances of survival. It was interesting to see the difference between the Soviets constant full auto and the semi-automatic fire of the British. More games are needed I think before we'll really see the difference. 

The Soviets close in. 

With the British hitting the dirt and trying to pepper pot backwards, the Soviets managed to keep their flanking manoeuvre going with the grenadier in the squad on the left managing to incapacitate several of the squaddies while they were falling back. 

 One interesting thing that we noted was that troops rarely became suppressed (shaken in SW parlance) because guns are so deadly, troops were either killed outright or were unharmed. That might need some work - assuming we're playing the rules correctly. 

The British continue to fall back, the GPMG gunner providing (remarkably ineffective) suppressive fire

Savage Worlds, rather like The Sword and the Flame, uses cards for determining initiative. This pack are a rather beautiful set from Hungary, a gift from my good friend TK, whose blog you'll find here

The Soviet officer keeps his rendezvous

The Soviet platoon leader pushed his luck a little too hard and was nailed by an eagle eyed chap with an SLR. Too little, too late sadly as the Soviet attack was already going in. 

A grenade explodes

The GPMG gunner cops it from the Russian grenadier while the rest of his section spattered the fleeing Brits with bullets, downing all but one.  The lone survivor ran back to his friends, grabbed the plans and made for the table edge. It's all up to you now, Trev. 

Heading for the hills

Trev, the pride of the North Shields Polytechnic Club, races for the table edge, the sole survivor of his section. With a twirl of his moustache, the Villainous LeGlace picked up the dice and a fusilade of shots rang out. 

Three inches!

A single round catches Trev high in the back and he falls instantly, not knowing what took him, three inches from safety. On the whole, an enjoyable game and one that was in balance towards right to the last turn. It took us an hour and a half to play through with constant reference to the rules to make sure that we weren't making any mistakes. 

The game was good, the company excellent and the whiskey very fine indeed. God is in his heaven and all is right with the world. 

What more could a man ask for? 

Other than a GPMG gunner that could shoot straight, of course. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The War Room has a floor!

There's a lot more to do obviously - but we have a floor!

What lies beneath?