Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Belasis Scopus Spell

“The Belasis’s Scopus Spell is a spell to detect magic which appeared in Jacques Belasis’s The Instructions.”

Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrel, Susanna Clarke

The Raven King as a Child

"When King Henry ask the boy his name the boy’s response was that he did not have one1.

1When John d’ Uskglass was a child in Faerie, the Sidhe (those who adopted him as their own), called him a word in their own language which means “Starling”. John d’ Uskglass was a name the boy took from his father, but in the early part of his life he was known by many titles his friends and enemies gave him: the King; the Raven King; the Black King; the King of the North."

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Friday, December 29, 2017

N-gauge, 6 Ton G. W. R. Scammell

This another specimen of a n-gauge (1:148) scale Langley Miniature model. This is a six-ton Scammell Mechanical Horse a three-wheel lorry with a covered wagon. The kit includes fourteen white metal components. There is a seated driver in the cab and being as small has it is it is full of lovely detail.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

There is Small and there is Minuscule

These Langley miniatures are in n-gauge (1:148) scale and are cast in white metal. These are my first n-gauge figures and they are very small, they are approximately 10mm high. Although I do own a n-gauge locomotive and tender and some n-gauge track my stock of n-gauge things is very limited.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Allan Quatermain: The Zulu Trilogy - H. Rider Haggard

As I slowly transition to the plans I have for the New Year I am pulling together another reading list, this will be my early and mid-winters reading list. I have wanted to get back the character of Allan Quatermain and will add these three novels to this list.

These three novels-Marie, Child of Storm, and Finished-form the Zulu Trilogy in which the Zulu wizard, Zikali, gains his revenge on the Zulu nation and its king, Cetawayo.

P.S. I realize that images have been rather scarce in this month posts and I do have some that could be posted, but then I must first write a corresponding post. It has lately been a bit difficult to get this done.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Volume III

I have slowed down on the reading lately and have finally gotten to the third volume of Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I am now about two thirds through this thick and fascinating novel.

Volume III, John Uskglass

“It is the contention of Mr. Norrell of Hanover-square, that everything belonging to John Uskglass (The Raven King) must be shaken out of modern magic, as one would shake moths and dust out of an old coat. What does he imagine he will have left? If you get rid of John Uskglass you will be left holding the empty air.’

Johnathan Strange, prologue to The History and Practice of English Magic, pub., John Murray, London, 1816”

Monday, December 18, 2017

Quotes from the Great White Queen

Here are a couple of quotes from William Le Queux, the Great White Queen.

“Let virtue be the basis of knowledge and let knowledge be as a slave before her.”

Chapter 19, The Great White Queen, William Le Queux

“Let us hasten, O Master.” The old sage cried breathlessly. “Every instant’s delay meaneth peril, and peril is the first cousin to disaster.”

Chapter 24, The Great White Queen, William Le Queux

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Pixel Critters

How lucky I am. I put four sets of quarters into the vending machine and received two duplicates. These dense, hard-plastic miniatures stand approximately 20mm tall and has you can see are formed very uniquely from what looks like a 3-d printer.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Book of Thoth

'"Here it is," he said, and took down and opened the book on the table. "This passage may interest you." He laid his finger upon it.

His son bent over the book and read the following:—

"Hai, the evil man, was a shepherd. He had said: 'O, that I might have a book of spells that would give me resistless power!' He obtained a book of the Formulas.... By the divine powers of these he enchanted men. He obtained a deep vault furnished with implements. He made waxen images of men, and love-charms.[22] And then he perpetrated all the horrors that his heart conceived."

"Flinders Petrie," said Dr. Cairn, "mentions the Book of Thoth as another magical work conferring similar powers."

"But surely, sir—after all, it's the twentieth century—this is mere superstition!"

"I thought so—once!" replied Dr. Cairn. "But I have lived to know that Egyptian magic was a real and a potent force. A great part of it was no more than a kind of hypnotism, but there were other branches. Our most learned modern works are as children's nursery rhymes beside such a writing as the Egyptian Ritual of the Dead! God forgive me! What have I done!"'

Chapter III: The Ring Of Thoth, Brood Of The Witch-Queen, Sax Rohmer

Friday, December 8, 2017

IHC 1/87 Scale Windows

Here is another set of HO scale windows. These like my collection of windows this sprue is molded from polystyrene. This set is from International Hobbies Corporation, are manufactured in Denmark, and are IHC’s #4406, “22 HO Windows, railings, and miscellaneous ornamental parts”. I don’t believe that these castings are still being offered and have most likely gone out of print.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Devil in the Fire

“'I'd like to see what you look like,' muttered Conan, working his ax free, 'you who leave a track like a bird, who burn like a flame and yet speak with a human voice.'

'You shall see,' answered the voice from the flame, 'see, and carry the knowledge with you into the Dark Land.'

The flames leaped and sank, dwindling and dimming. A face began to take shadowy form. At first Conan thought it was Zogar Sag 1 himself who stood wrapped in green fire. But the face was higher than his own and there was a demoniac aspect about it—Conan had noted various abnormalities about Zogar Sag's features—an obliqueness of the eyes, a sharpness of the ears, a wolfish thinness of the lips; these peculiarities were exaggerated in the apparition which swayed before him. The eyes were red as coals of living fire.

More details came into view: a slender torso, covered with snaky scales, which was yet man-like in shape, with man-like arms, from the waist upward; below, long crane-like legs ended in splay, three-toed feet like those of some huge bird. Along the monstrous limbs the blue fire fluttered and ran. He saw it as through a glistening mist.”

Chapter 7 The Devil in the Fire, Beyond the Black River, Robert E. Howard

1 "'Did you ever hear of a Pictish wizard called Zogar Sag?'

Balthus shook his head uneasily.

'He dwells in Gwawela, the nearest village across the river. Three months ago he hid beside this road and stole a string of pack-mules from a pack-train bound for the fort—drugged their drivers, somehow. The mules belonged to this man'—Conan casually indicated the corpse with his foot—'Tiberias, a merchant of Velitrium. They were loaded with ale-kegs, and old Zogar stopped to guzzle before he got across the river. A woodsman named Soractus trailed him, and led Valannus and three soldiers to where he lay dead drunk in a thicket. At the importunities of Tiberias, Valannus threw Zogar Sag into a cell, which is the worst insult you can give a Pict. "

Chapter 1 Conan Loses His Ax, Beyond the Black River, Robert E. Howard

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

1/87 Brass Window Etchings

I have found some more brass etchings. The forty odd windows are from Ratio. Ratio is a purveyor of plastic models in various scales. Ratio produce model railroading structures and equipment along a British prototype. It is good to have several of the same style which this collection provides.

Monday, December 4, 2017

1/87 Scale Windows & Doors

I don’t suppose you can have too many windows; ounce you start building there go three here and a few there. With the new year quickly approaching I have plans to get back into scratch building and kit-bashing. Looking through my windows and doors collection I am looking to see what I have on-hand. It looks like I have a few windows and doors to get me started. These polystyrene apertures are left-over kit parts and from various manufactures.

Friday, December 1, 2017

A Bull Ape the God of Gullah

"'But what was that—that thing you killed in the altar-hut?' asked Balthus, with a shiver at the memory of the dim-seen horror.

'One of Zogar's gods. One of Jhebbal's children that didn't remember and had to be kept chained to the altar. A bull ape. The Picts think they're sacred to the Hairy One who lives on the moon—the gorilla-god of Gullah."

Chapter 5 The Children of Jhebbal Sag, Beyond the Black River, Robert E. Howard

The Beasts of Zogar Sag

Conan did not reply for a space, and when he did it was with a curious reticence.

'He can't command all the animals. Only such as remember Jhebbal Sag.'

'Jhebbal Sag?' Balthus repeated the ancient name hesitantly. He had never heard it spoken more than three or four times in his whole life.

'Once all living things worshipped him. That was long ago, when beasts and men spoke one language. Men have forgotten him; even the beasts forget. Only a few remember. The men who remember Jhebbal Sag and the beasts who remember are brothers and speak the same tongue.

Chapter 4: The Beasts of Zogar Sag, Beyond the Black River, Robert E. Howard

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Books on Magic by Peter Watershippe

The Faire Withering, published in 1444, is a remarkable book that features a detailed account on how English magic declined after John Uskglass left England. Although the text contains many precise accounts of spells, many reviewers consider this text to be an angry book, but not so as Watershippe’s two other books:

A Defense of my Deeds while Wrongfully Imprisoned by my Enemies in Newark, 1459-60
Crimes of the Faire King, 1461?"

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Interesting Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell entry on Board Game Geek

I cannot say I know what to make of the "The History and Practice of English Magic" page other than it is some sort of game based off Susanna Clarke's novel; an interesting find, at any rate...seems to be a complete list of all the texts mentioned within the Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell novel.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Ghost Snake

Another horrid creature called out of the forest by Zogar Sag to do his bidding. Like the saber-tooth tiger, the ghost snake new Jhebbal Sag and the the ancient language, the language that all creatures spoke in ancient times.

“Again Balthus recognized the monster from ancient legends. He saw and knew the ancient and evil serpent which swayed there, its wedge-shaped head, huge as that of a horse, as high as a tall man's head, and its palely gleaming barrel rippling out behind it. A forked tongue darted in and out, and the firelight glittered on bared fangs.

Balthus became incapable of emotion. The horror of his fate paralyzed him. That was the reptile that the ancients called Ghost Snake, the pale, abominable terror that of old glided into huts by night to devour whole families. Like the python it crushed its victim, but unlike other constrictors its fangs bore venom that carried madness and death. It too had long been considered extinct. But Valannus had spoken truly. No white man knew what shapes haunted the great forests beyond Black River.

It came on silently rippling over the ground, its hideous head on the same level, its neck curving back slightly for the stroke. Balthus gazed with glazed, hypnotized stare into that loathsome gullet down which he would soon be engulfed, and he was aware of no sensation except a vague nausea."

Chapter 4: The Beasts of Zogar Sag, Beyond the Black River, Robert E. Howard.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Dollar Zombies

This is kind of a late blog entry. I had wanted to make this post last month; a more fitting time period, with Halloween and all. At any rate, here are some of the lovelies; the only few that were photogenic. It was very hard to keep them contained and they were always wandering off.

The package includes fourteen plastic miniatures that stand approximately two inches tall. My package included thirteen unique miniatures including two tombstones and two different dogs. The miniatures feature some nice detail.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Deities and Demi-gods of the Hyborian Age, in Robert E. Howard's tales

I found a list of the "Deities and Demi-gods of the Hyborian Age" in the tales Robert E. Howard. Robert E. Howard is the creator of the character Conan, which I have featured in my a few of my posts. Conan is a worth-while character and shouldn't be over-looked when picking characters for your pule era games.

Although this list is not as extensiveness as one you might find for H. P. Lovecraft, but the list still impressive, like someone would actually take the time and effort to compile one in the first place.

The Saber-Tooth Tiger

"The village held its breath. Zogar Sag stood still as a statue, his plumes trembling faintly about him. But suddenly the gate was no longer empty.

A shuddering gasp swept over the village and men crowded hastily back, jamming one another between the huts. Balthus felt the short hair stir on his scalp. The creature that stood in the gate was like the embodiment of nightmare legend. Its color was of a curious pale quality which made it seem ghostly and unreal in the dim light. But there was nothing unreal about the low-hung savage head, and the great curved fangs that glistened in the firelight. On noiseless padded feet it approached like a phantom out of the past. It was a survival of an older, grimmer age, the ogre of many an ancient legend—a saber-tooth tiger. No Hyborian hunter had looked upon one of those primordial brutes for centuries. Immemorial myths lent the creatures a supernatural quality, induced by their ghostly color and their fiendish ferocity."

Chapter 4 The Beasts of Zogar Sag, Beyond the Black River, Robert E. Howard.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Swamp Demon

"Balthus felt his scalp prickle. Neither man nor any beast that he had ever seen could have left that strange, monstrous three-toed print, that was curiously combined of the bird and the reptile, yet a true type of neither. He spread his fingers above the print, careful not to touch it, and grunted explosively. He could not span the mark.

'What is it?' he whispered. 'I never saw a beast that left a spoor like that.'

'Nor any other sane man,' answered Conan grimly. 'It's a swamp demon—they're thick as bats in the swamps beyond Black River. You can hear them howling like damned souls when the wind blows strong from the south on hot nights.'"

Chapter 1 Conan Loses His Ax, Beyond the Black River, Robert E. Howard

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How To Make Bayou Swamp Terrain

This forty-two minute video will show you how the author created a bayou swamp scene diorama. Although this type of project is way out of my league the process toward completion is completely awe inspiring. You never know if the techniques presented here may be handy some day.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Proxie Models 15-20mm Building Ruins

These polystyrene castings are purported to be compatible with 15-20mm miniatures, but I believe they would work for 25mm miniatures as well.

Proxie Models produces a whole line of products for the war-gamer in sizes from 15mm to 28mm. Proxie Models feature: vehicles, terrain pieces, and bases for your miniatures.

So far I have ordered two of their selections. Both structure ruins are cast in a hard polystyrene plastic and look like they will very easy to assemble.

Ruined brick building; package contains 2 spruces.

Ruined brick corner building; package contains 2 spruces, with second floor section.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Raven Kings Contract with the Forests

“Strange took a clean sheet of paper and began rapidly scribbling notes upon it. ‘Oak trees can be befriended and will aid you against your enemies if they think your cause is just, Birch woods are well known for providing doors into Faerie. Ash-trees will never cease to mourn until, the Raven King comes home again.1

Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susana Clarke

1'The ivy promises to bind England’s enemies; Briars and thorns promised to whip them; The Hawthorn said he would answer any questions; The Birch said he would make doors to other countries; The yew brought us weapons; The raven punished our enemies; The oak watched the distant hills; The rain washed away all sorrow.’

This traditional English saying supposedly, lists the various contracts which the Raven King made on England’s behalf with the forests.”

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Several Image Galleries for your Viewing Pleasure

I was looking for inspiration the other day and came across these sites.

Indian Summer: Scenes from the Frontier
French and Indian war diorama.

Golden Demon Award Winners Website
A huge handful of beautifully painted horror and fantasy miniatures.

Miniatures Scenes
A small collection of ‘N’ or ‘Z’ gauge (?) miniatures arranged in some very distinctive ways.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Walls and Barricades War-gamming Scenery

I recently watch this short video how-to. This video features the creation of four simple scenery pieces all made from materials that are readily available .

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Mine Train thru Nature's Wonderland

This time of the year gets me to thinking about model railroading. The Mine Train thru Nature's Wonderland railroad is an On30 gauge railroad. The ‘On30’ means that there is thirty inches between the rails, making it a narrow gauge railroad. On30 runs on HO gauge track.

The Mine Train thru Nature's Wonderland blog chronicles the authors ten year odyssey of building and then upgrading his whimsical railroad. There are many automated scenes including working geysers, shuddering rock towers and rutting caribou.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

'Did you ever hear of a Pictish wizard called Zogar Sag?'

"'Did you ever hear of a Pictish wizard called Zogar Sag?'

Balthus shook his head uneasily.

'He dwells in Gwawela, the nearest village across the river. Three months ago he hid beside this road and stole a string of pack-mules from a pack-train bound for the fort—drugged their drivers, somehow. The mules belonged to this man'—Conan casually indicated the corpse with his foot—'Tiberias, a merchant of Velitrium. They were loaded with ale-kegs, and old Zogar stopped to guzzle before he got across the river. A woodsman named Soractus trailed him, and led Valannus and three soldiers to where he lay dead drunk in a thicket. At the importunities of Tiberias, Valannus threw Zogar Sag into a cell, which is the worst insult you can give a Pict. He managed to kill his guard and escape, and sent back word that he meant to kill Tiberias and the five men who captured him in a way that would make Aquilonians shudder for centuries to come.

'Well, Soractus and the soldiers are dead. Soractus was killed on the river, the soldiers in the very shadow of the fort. And now Tiberias is dead. No Pict killed any of them. Each victim—except Tiberias, as you see—lacked his head—which no doubt is now ornamenting the altar of Zogar Sag's particular god.'

Conan pointed to the corpse of the merchant.

'You think that was done with a knife or a sword? Look closer and you'll see that only a talon could have made a gash like that. The flesh is ripped, not cut.'

'A man from the Tauran couldn't mistake the mark of a panther's claws. No. It's a forest devil summoned by Zogar Sag to carry out his revenge. Tiberias was a fool to start for Velitrium alone, and so close to dusk. But each one of the victims seemed to be smitten with madness just before doom overtook him.'"


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Beyond The Black River

Beyond The Black River is another text in Robert E. Howard’s Conan series. In this text Conan is fighting the Pict’s and the forces of hell recently released by the Pictish wizard, Zogar Sag.

“Then Balthus forgot his exasperation as his ears were outraged by the most frightful cry he had ever heard. It was not human, this one; it was a demoniacal caterwauling of hideous triumph that seemed to exult over fallen humanity and find echo in black gulfs beyond human ken.”

Chapter 1: Conan Loses His Ax, Beyond the Black River, Robert E. Howard

Hot Wheels, Hot Wheel Customs & Hot Wheel Resources

Recently I was searching for information on scratch building and I came across an article on how to scratch build parts for 1/64 scale; the scale that Mettel's's Hot wheels are supposing manufactured, out of polystyrene and epoxy. Although I don’t have a large collection of these vehicles the article was interesting and inspirational.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Two More Manuscripts on Magic

Revelations of Thirty Six Other Worlds, Ormskirk

Among the other topics there is reference to a kingdom that lies behind mirrors, a kingdom which is apparently full of the most convenient roads from one place to another.

Another text mentioned was Francis Pevensy’s Eighteen Wonders to be Found in the House of Albion. Pevensy was a sixteenth-century magician who was purported to have been trained by Martin Pale.1

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

1Dr Martin Pale (1485-1567) was the son of a Warwick leather-tanner. He was the last of the Aureate or Golden Age magicians.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Central Valley 1/87 Scale Steps and Ladders

These finely cast polystyrene kit bashing parts come on three sprue that measure approximately 4.5 by 6.5 inches. These steps, railing, and ladders are delicate and care must be taken when removing them from their sprue. Use them for detail parts, kit-bashing or scratch building.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Mr. Norrell Instructs Strange on Fairies

Mr. Norrell was narrating what one author, named Chasting, had said about fairies. “Fairies do not make a strong distinction between the animate and the inanimate. Fairies believe that stones, doors, trees, fire, clouds and so forth all have souls and desires, and are either masculine or feminine.”

Mr. Norrel & Jonathan Strange, Suzanne Clerke

Friday, November 3, 2017

Jib Crane Sprue

Here is that Jib Crane Sprue. Cast from polystyrene and very delicately removed from sprue. I used a sharp hobby knife for the smaller parts.

Jib Crane image from Tichy Trains HO catalog.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Spell to Dispel Illusions and Correct Wrong Ideas

This is a spell Jonathan Strange used on the King of Britain to try to cure the Kings insanity.

“Place the moon at his eyes and her whiteness shall devour the false sights the deceiver has placed there.

Place a swarm of bees at his ears. Bees love truth and will destroy the deceiver's lies.

Place salt in his mouth lest the deceiver attempt to delight him with the taste of honey or disgust him with the taste of ashes.

Nail his hand with an iron so that he shall not raise it to do the deceivers bidding.

Place his heart in a secret place so that all his desires shall be to his own and the deceivers shall find no hold there.

A Note: The color red may be found beneficial.

Revelations of Thirty-Six Other Worlds, Ormskirk”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Suzanne Clarke

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

My Thoughts on my Reading of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

I am roughly half way through with my reading of this masterfully told story. There are just so many bits from this story that I see myself reading through it a second time. In my second reading I would like to focus in on all of the characters that are mentioned, those that are prominent and those characters that are known in cameo only. Although I have tried I am sure that I have missed several titles of the many books that had been mentioned within the text. Lastly, I would like to do a study on the Raven King, which is to focus in on all the mentions of this character.

No Enemy to Fear

"There is now no enemy to fear, but the one that resides within. By accustoming ourselves to regard even the people as erring beings, and by using the restraints that wisdom has adduced from experience, there is much reason to hope that the same Providence which has so well aided us in our infancy, may continue to smile on our manhood."

The Spy, James Fenimore Cooper

Sunday, October 22, 2017


I found these four owls on eBay. You never know when you might need a wise owl around. They stand one and half inch’s high and are made of solid resin. They are full of detail and are rather cute and were rather reasonable priced I might add.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Captain Lawton's Song!

Captain Lawton sings a song honoring Elizabeth Flanagan.

"Now push the mug, my jolly boys,
And live, while live we can;
To-morrow's sun may end your joys,
For brief's the hour of man.
And he who bravely meets the foe
His lease of life can never know.
Old mother Flanagan
Come and fill the can again!
For you can fill, and we can swill,
Good Betty Flanagan.

If love of life pervades your breast,
Or love of ease your frame,
Quit honor's path for peaceful rest,
And bear a coward's name;
For soon and late, we danger know,
And fearless on the saddle go.
Old mother, etc.

When foreign foes invade the land,
And wives and sweethearts call,
In freedom's cause we'll bravely stand
Or will as bravely fall;
In this fair home the fates have given
We'll live as lords, or live in heaven.
Old mother, etc."

Chapter XVI, The Spy, James Fenimore Cooper

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Enemies of the Raven King

“In the mid-thirteenth century several of the Raven King’s enemies were attempting to form an alliance against him. Most of its members were known to him: the King of France was one, the King of Scotland another, and there were several disaffected fairies who gave themselves grandiose titles and who may or may not, have governed the vast territories they claimed. There were also other personages more mysterious, but even greater. The Raven King had, for the most of his reign, been on good terms with most angles and demons, but now it was rumored that he had quarreled with two: Zadkiel who governed mercy and Alrinach who governed shipwrecks.”

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke

There is a new Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell wiki, which I have linked above. Once I have completed my first reading of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, I would like to go back and pick out all the references of the Raven King and add them to the wiki.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Elizabeth Flanagan-A Host of Characters

And though amidst the calm of thought entire,
Some high and haughty features might betray
A soul impetuous once—'twas earthly fire
That fled composure's intellectual ray,
As Etna's fires grow dim before the rising day.

Gertrude of Wyoming

Elizabeth Flanagan is a character found in James Fenimore Cooper the Spy. The story tells of a revolutionary era spy. Although not the only uncouth individual mentioned within the text she is the first female character with this attribute.

‘Elizabeth Flanagan, her hotel," an ebullition of the wit of some of the idle wags of the corps. The matron, whose name had thus been exalted to an office of such unexpected dignity, ordinarily discharged the duties of a female sutler, washerwoman, and, to use the language of Katy Haynes, petticoat doctor to the troops. She was the widow of a soldier who had been killed in the service, and who, like herself, was a native of a distant island, and had early tried his fortune in the colonies of North America. She constantly migrated with the troops; and it was seldom that they became stationary for two days at a time but the little cart of the bustling woman was seen driving into the encampment loaded with such articles as she conceived would make her presence most welcome. With a celerity that seemed almost supernatural, Betty took up her ground and commenced her occupation. Sometimes the cart itself was her shop; at others the soldiers made her a rude shelter of such materials as offered; but on the present occasion she had seized on a vacant building, and, by dint of stuffing the dirty breeches and half-dried linen of the troopers into the broken windows, to exclude the cold, which had now become severe, she formed what she herself had pronounced to be "most illigant lodgings." The men were quartered in the adjacent barns, and the officers collected in the "Hotel Flanagan," as they facetiously called headquarters. Betty was well known to every trooper in the corps, could call each by his Christian or nickname, as best suited her fancy; and, although absolutely intolerable to all whom habit had not made familiar with her virtues, was a general favorite with these partisan warriors. Her faults were, a trifling love of liquor, excessive filthiness, and a total disregard of all the decencies of language; her virtues, an unbounded love for her adopted country, perfect honesty when dealing on certain known principles with the soldiery, and great good nature. Added to these, Betty had the merit of being the inventor of that beverage which is so well known, at the present hour, to all the patriots who make a winter's march between the commercial and political capitals of this great state, and which is distinguished by the name of "cocktail." Elizabeth Flanagan was peculiarly well qualified, by education and circumstances, to perfect this improvement in liquors, having been literally brought up on its principal ingredient, and having acquired from her Virginian customers the use of mint, from its flavor in a julep to its height of renown in the article in question. Such, then, was the mistress of the mansion, who, reckless of the cold northern blasts, showed her blooming face from the door of the building to welcome the arrival of her favorite, Captain Lawton, and his companion, her master in matters of surgery.’

The Spy, James Fenimore Cooper

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tichy Train HO Details

Tichy Train Group produces many detail parts and structures in O, HO, N, and S gauges all molded in polystyrene. This kit includes two sets of different types of fencing and railing. These include delicately molded picket, board, lumber fences and welded pipe railing.

Another of Tichy Train’s polystyrene kits is there Jib Crane. Jib cranes are used on loading docks where heavy loads must be shifted.

Another delicately molded kit. Includes a length of small-scaled chain for the chain-falls and winch.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Book Murder

“Why did Vinculus hate his father? Why did he rejoice when his father was hanged? Robert Findhelm was quite sure that the book was destroyed-that is plain. Nan1 told me Clegg2 had been hung for stealing a book, but Robert Findhelm had brought the charge of book-murder against Clegg. Clegg was the last man in England to be hanged for book-murder3.”

January-February 1812

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

1Nan was one of Vinculus’s ex-wife’s
2Clegg was Vinculus’s biological father.
3Book-murder was a late addition to English magical law. The willful destruction of a book of magic merited the same punishment as a murder of a Christian.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Magical Books from the Duke of Roxburghe Library

"When an auction of the Dukes books was announced there were seven texts dealing with magic among his collection. Mr. Norrel and Arabella, Jonathan’s Strange’s wife were both interested. Norrel to add to his collection and Arabella meant to surprise her husband with a volume or two of magical texts. Mr. Norrel out-bid everyone to obtain all seven texts, one in which, he paid the princely sum of 2000 guineas.

Rosa et Fons was a mystical meditation upon magic by an unknown fourteenth century magician.

Thomas de Dundelle was a text describing the life of the Raven Kings first human servant, Thomas Dundelle.

The Book of Loveday Ingham was a day-to-day account of the fifteenth century magician of Cambridge.

The History of Seven: although the text was rather muddled and was written in English, Latin, and an unknown fairy language. The text told of the city in Faerie named Seven. The text was quite jumbled. The author would often leave off his narration of Seven and make numerous accusations against some person that had did him some harm.

The Parliament of Woman: was a sixteenth centaury allegorical account of the wisdom and magic that belongs particularity to woman.

Exerciatatio Magica Nobilissima:  was a seventeenth centaury attempt to describe all English magic.

Two last text were snapped by Norrel on the last day of the auction.

The Mirrorir of the Lyf of Ralph Stokesie:  was a volume that Mr. Norrel was totally ignorant about of its existence. This was the wonderful book that Norrel paid the 2000 guineas for. In addition, Norrel also purchased the Decameron."

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel, Suzanne Clarke

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fictional Military Maps

“To be weak is to invite war: to be strong is to prevent it.”

The Invasion by William Le Queux

While reading The Invasion by William Le Queux I came across the series of maps that Le Queux created for his text. This is my second reading of a story that envisions Britain being invaded by Germany. My first text was The Battle of Dorking, first published in 1871.

Germany's Points of Embarkation
Battle of Royston, Sunday Sept. 9th
Position on the Evening of September 11 for the Battle of Chelmsford
Battle of Harlow; 1st Phase, about 5 A. M. Sept. 13th
Battle of Harlow Final Phase
German Attack on the Lines of London
The Bombardment and Defenses of London on Sept. 20th & 21st
London after the Bombardment
The Defenses of South London on Sept 26th

The full text and all the maps of The Invasion by William Le Queux can be found here:

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Saint Serlo’s Blessing- Journey into the Unknown

Jonathan Strange and his servant Jeremy Johns sailed up the Tagus on the British ship, St. Serlo’s Blessing. 1 The pair landed at the Black-horse square in the middle of the city of Lisbon.

January – March 1811

1 “Saint Serlo’s Blessing was the name of one of the four magical woods which surrounded and protected the Raven Kings capital city of Newcastle.”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel, Suzanne Clarke

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Grossery Gang

Grossery Gang, Series 1

The Grossery Gang, brought to you by Moose Enterprises, brings you 150 Gag worthy rubber like miniatures. The figures stand approximately anywhere for a half to one inch tall. Each blind package contains one Grossery Gang figure, twelve regular collectible cards and two special cards that could be a puzzle piece, sticker, touch ‘n’ feel, heat ‘n’ reveal or a silver holographic card.

From left to right:

  • Stinky Snacks -Cruddy Chip-common
  • Barfroom Supplies-Grotty Soap-rare
  • Stinky Snacks-Oozy Muesli Bar-common
  • Awful Sauces-Snot ‘N’ Pepper-common

Sunday, October 8, 2017

International Hobbies Corporation HO Gauge Product Line

Part # Desription
602 Interlocking Tower
707 Endoline's Funeral Home
708 Store Front, Apartment Building
712 Old Time Gas Station
804 Colonial Church
805 County Court House
806 Herald Star Newspaper
810 Lulgi's Restraurant
3509 Service Station
3510 Freight Station
4100 Country Barn
4101 Rural Freight & Passenger Station
4102 Switch Tower
3500 Two Stall Engine House
3501 Railroad Yard Buildinga
3502 Mainline Station
3503 Factory w/Loading Silos
3504 Grocery Store & Auto Repair
3505 Freight Station w/Loading Platform
3506 Sand and Fuel Depot
3507 Ice Cream Polar & Boarding House
3508 General Store & Billard Parlor
4103 Locomotive Maintainses Building
4101  School House
4105 Country Church
4106 Two Suburban Houses

This is not an in exhaustive list of IHC’s HO gauge structures. The list, are those that were listed, on the side of the couple IHC kits that I own. Most of these kits were at one time available from IHC. They don’t seem to have a full line of products as they once had.

These are most of the kits parts companying IHC’s School House and Barn and were purchased for a kit-bash project.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Magic Preformed by J. Strange and Mr. Norrel

“Among the feats of magic that Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel performed in 1810 are: causing an area of the Bay of Biscay to silt up and having a vast wood of monstrous trees spring up and destroy twenty French war ships; causing unusual tides and winds to baffle French ships and destroy French crops and livestock; the fashioning of rain into fleets of ships, walled cities, gigantic figures, flights of angels, etc., etc., in order to frighten, confuse, or charm French soldiers and sailors.”

De Generibus Artuim Magicarum Anglrum, Francis Sutton-Grove

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel, Susana Clarke

Friday, October 6, 2017

1:72 Bum Far West Town

Very Nice Art Work on Box

This is my second BUM model kit and perhaps my last. I purchased this kit for war-gaming. As you can see from the second image the kit includes twelve figures and two structures. The structures are made from some very flimsy and shiny plastic. The kit is supposed to be in 1/72 scale, but the figures and the building look like they could pass for 1/87 scale. There are two horses with two riders. The mix includes six cowboys and six Indians.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Norrel’s Books

It is well known that Mr. Norrel has an extraordinary library made up his books on magic. Although I have probably missed other mentions of specific books that are found in Norrel’s library this title was mentioned in my recent reading.

Curiose Observations upon the Anatonie Faeries, Holgarth and Pickle

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Suzanna Clarke

The Magicians Wife (December 1809-January 1810)

“The bells sounded very sad and far-away and it brought before Arabella imagination all sorts of melancholy scenes:

…bleak, wind-swept fens and moors; empty fields with broken walls and gates hanging of their hinges; a black ruined church; an open grave; a suicide buried at a lonely crossroads; a fire of bones blazing in the twilit snow; a gallows with a man swinging from its arm; another man crucified upon a wheel; an ancient spear plunged into the mud with a strange talisman, like a little leather finger, hanging from it; a scarecrow whose black rags blew about so violently in the wind that he seemed about to leap into the grey air and fly towards you on vast black wings…"

The Magicians Wife, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel, Susanne Clarke

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Four Rusty Rail Resin Castings

These four Rusty Rail castings come in two separate Rusty Rail packages that seem to be out of print, at this time. The castings are cast from a cream colored resin and measure from one inch to a little over an inch long by about a half-inch wide.

The castings, from left to right are a rack full of pipes, a grounded skid with a couple of barrels, a coal bin, and a wooden storage box.

So far I have only gotten to painting one of the castings. I am sorry about the blurry picture.

Wooden Storage Box: could be used for wood for the fireplace or coal for the stove?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Recent Pronouncement of Sir Edward Grey

"Only as recently as March 29, 1909, Sir Edward Grey, replying to Mr. Balfour's vote of censure in the House of Commons, was compelled to admit that— "A new situation is created by the German programme. When it is completed, Germany, a great country close to our own shores, will have a fleet of thirty-three Dreadnoughts, and that fleet will be the most powerful which the world has ever yet seen. It imposes upon us the necessity of rebuilding the whole of our fleet. That is the situation."

The Spies of the Kaiser: Plotting the Downfall of England, William Le Queux

The Startling Truth

“Nobody here dreams the truth-a truth that will be found as startling as it is strange.”

The Spies of the Kaiser: Plotting the Downfall of England, William Le Queux

Monday, October 2, 2017

Rbbots Capsule Toys

Rbbots are plastic robot capsule toys. They come in five different colors. Each color represents a unique robot. Once assembled the robot mechanized unit stands approximately two inches high. Each capsule comes with a round sprue with the mech’s parts, and a small instruction sheet. They might become useful in some SCIFI melee.

Red Mechanical Unit- Solpugid

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

20-Gun Sloop of War

These beauties are approximately three-quarters of an inch long and are manufactured by Valiant Miniatures. I purchased these micro-scaled 1/2000 sloops for the Les Petits Pirates print and play game that I recently downloaded, but I don’t think they are going to work on such a small playing service. That would be six ships on a five by eight playing surface. They would definitely look pretty, but I will have look-around for ships that are smaller in size, if that is even possible. Anyone have any suggestions?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Fairies and Men Both Have the Faculty for Magic

“According to Richard Chaston (1620-950) both men and fairies have the faculty of reason and of magic. In men reason is strong while magic is weak. With fairies, magic comes very naturally to them, but by humans standards they are barely sane.”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel, Susana Clarke

Have all of England’s Magicians been trained by Other Magicians?

“There have been very few of England’s magicians that have not learned from another magician. Gilbert Norrel and Jonathan Strange are examples of magicians that were self-made. Mr. Gilbert Norrel being what you may call an academic magician, spent years locked away with his books and spells. Although Jonathan Strange’s only text was a copy of the Raven King he seems to have a natural inclination toward magic.

Very little is known about the Raven King’s early years, but it is assumed that the Raven King learned both magic and Kingship while at court of the King of Faerie.

Another seemingly self-made magician is Thomas Godbless (1105?-82) of Nottinghamshire. Although Godbless did spend some time with the Raven King, he had been practicing magic for years before this encounter."

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Les Petits Pirates

One of the six maps

Les Petits Pirates was created by GGJ Games and was an entry in the 2016 PnP Game Design contest. This print and play board game is for one to four players. Players are pirates and command three ships. Their mission is gather resources and gold while trying to prevent their opponents from doing the same.

There are three distinct phases of the game, an Action Selection, Action Assignment, and Resolution phase. Players will continue to play until one player has collected and buried 20 Gold.

There six five by eight inch maps to choose from, including one that is space themed (perhaps you can come-up with something more suitable than gold for this game.)

You will need to supply four dice per player, three of which are used to represent three ships and tokens for gold pieces. I had actually considered using 1/2000 scale ships, which might be a little too large for the five by eight inch playing map. We will see!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Another German Spy Thwarted

Map of the North Shields Reservoirs, And How to Cut Off the Water Supply, Prepared By the Spy John Barker

This seemly innocent letter had along with the roughly sketched map fell into the hand of John Jacox. The letter through careful examination was found to be in a German code which was decoded, later down in the dispatch.

"Berkeley Chambers, "Cannon Street, "London, E.C., "May 3rd, 1908.

"My dear John,

"I herewith enclose the interest in advance—four five-pound notes.

"Continue to act as you have done, and obtain orders wherever possible.

"Business just now, I am glad to say, leaves but little to be desired, and we hope that next year your share of profits may be increased.

"We have every confidence in this, you understand.

"Write to us oftener and give us news of your doings, as we are always interested in your welfare.

"It is unwise of you, I think, to doubt Uncle Charles, for I have always found him to be a man in whom one can repose the utmost confidence. He is, I believe, taking a house near Tynemouth.

"Everyone is at present well, but the spring in London is always trying. However, we are hoping for warmer weather.

"My wife and the children, especially little Charlie,

Frederick, and Charlotte—who is growing quite a big girl—send their love to you.

"Your affectionate cousin,

"Henry Lewis."

That letter, innocent enough upon the face of it, contained certain instructions to the spy, besides enclosing his monthly payment of £20.

The Decoded Message

"Read by the alphabetical instructions with which every German secret agent is supplied and which vary in various districts, the message it contained was as follows:

(Phrase I) I send you your monthly payment.

(Phrase 2) Your information during the past month is satisfactory.

(Phrase 3) Your service in general is giving satisfaction, and if it continues so, we shall at the next inspection augment your monthly payment.

(Phrase 4) We wish you, however, to send us more detailed notes, and report oftener.

(Phrase 5) Cease your observations upon Charles. We have what we require. Turn your attention to defenses at Tynemouth.

(Phrase 6) As you know, the chief (spring) is very difficult to please, for at the last inspection we were given increased work.

(Phrase 7) Remain in negotiation with your three correspondents—Charles (meaning the foreman, Rosser), Charlotte, and Frederick—until you hear further. You may make them offers for the information."

Spies of the Kaiser-Plotting the Downfall of England, William Le Queux

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Secret of the Silent Submarine

The following information was collected by Leon Karff, a German spy, and was luckily intercepted by Raymond and Jacox who were working together to isolate and disrupt the workings of the German spy agencies.

"Report by Leon Karff, late foreman-fitter at Kiel Dockyard, on Submarine 'F 2,' now building in Shed No. 4, Portsmouth Dockyard.

"This boat would appear to me to be of about 700 tons displacement when complete, possibly rather over. She is, as far as I am able to measure, about 180 feet long with an extreme beam a little forward of amidships of 20 feet. She is fitted with three propeller shafts with three small four-bladed propellers on each. As she is provided with what appear to me to be some kind of turbine engines, I imagine that the centre shaft is for going astern only. The propellers on this shaft seem to be attached in such a way that they could be 'feathered' by suitable gearing on board so as not to retard the vessel's way when going ahead. The engines of this boat are of a type which I have never before seen. I imagine that they are a combination of the new 'gas-producer' engine and the turbine system, the explosion of[55] the combined gas and air being split up and passing into the turbine through a number of different channels simultaneously. This would be a very economical system if the necessary power can be obtained, and would be much safer for use below than petrol engines.

"The boat is evidently intended to operate a good deal in an 'awash' position, for there is fairly thick armour-plating over the greater part of the upper side of the bow, while the fore end of the superstructure is made of two 6-inch Krupp steel plates meeting at an acute angle, and so forming a kind of stem when the boat is moving in this way. The space enclosed between these two plates is evidently intended to be used as the conning-tower. Here there are a periscope, steering-wheel, voice-tubes, and everything necessary for the control of the vessel. There are two horizontal propellers or fans, which seem to be driven by electricity derived from an installation of accumulators, and which are certainly intended to secure horizontal immersion, so the vessel will not plunge or dive, but immerse herself horizontally by means of these propellers, which, by the way, work in vertical shafts running completely through the boat, one forward and the other aft, as was the case in the Nordenfeldt, Waddington, and other early submarines.

"Forward there is an air-lock and diving-chamber, as in the 'Lake' boats, so that divers can get in and out of the vessel whilst under water. It would also afford a means of escape for the crew in the case of accident. This is further provided for by a detachable boat or caisson at the after end of the superstructure capable of holding ten men, I should say, or[56] possibly a dozen. There are also appliances which I suppose are telephone buoys for communicating with the surface. There are six torpedo tubes fitted, one forward, one aft, and the others two on either broadside. And there seems to be provision for six other torpedoes of the 18-inch type.

"There is a long rudder for ordinary steering, and four horizontal ones or planes which are placed abreast the horizontal screws and which, I imagine, act automatically in conjunction with them, as they seem to gear up with the shafts for these propellers. There is a big safety detachable weight which fits loosely into a recess amidships, and four broad wheels with ball bearings which do not fold up as in the 'Lake' boats, but always protrude nearly half their diameter. After all they would not obstruct her way when water-borne more than a keel—or very little more. They are quite independent and unconnected with the interior of the vessel, which while resting on them would receive forward impetus from her propellers. In the 'awash' position she would offer a very small and almost invulnerable target."

Chapter 2 The Secret of the Silent Submarine, Spies of the Kaiser-Plotting the Downfall of England, William Le Queux

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Spells of Summoning

Over the centuries in Merry Olde England there have been thousands of spells of summoning created, but few perfected. Paris Ormskirk a schoolmaster from the village of Clerkenwell wrote several expositions on magic. He may not have brought anything new to the profession, but he was very diligent and compiled a list of thousands of spells of summoning. These spells were, to the best of Ormskirk’s ability, shifted through and attempted to cast these spells. Eventually, a spell of summoning created by Ormskirk, became very popular. It was this spell that Jonathan Strange perfected and used to bring Maria Absalom into his dream.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Peril of England-A War of Words

"Who Is Right?

Sir Edward Grey

In the House of Commons, March 29, 1909.

'We have been informed verbally, but quite definitely, that Germany will not accelerate her naval programme of construction, and will not have thirteen ships of the Dreadnought type, including cruisers, till the end of 1912.'

Prince Buelow

In the Reichstag, March 29, 1909.

'Great Britain has never made any proposals which the German Government regarded as a suitable basis for negotiations. Germany regards the question of limitation of armaments as outside the range of practical politics.'

What The Kaiser Says:

His Imperial Majesty the German Emperor declared:—

'The prevailing sentiment among large sections of the middle and lower class of my own people is not friendly to England.—Daily Telegraph, October 28, 1908.'"

Spies of the Kaiser-Plotting the Downfall of England, William Le Queux

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A Cryptic Memorandum

Chapter II: The Secret of The Silent Submarine, Spies of the Kaiser, Plotting the Downfall of England, William Le Queux

The story portrays an alternative history of England. The year is 1909. Authors like Le Queux were writing these pieces of fiction to try to get the public and government officials to see menace of Kaisers Germany. This story’s message is similar to a few others that I have read. One in particular, The Riddle of the Sands, by Erskine Childers is of, about the same time period.

Other Titles by William Le Queux

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sierra West 1/87 (HO) Detail Parts

Sierra West is a maker of fine craftsmen style structures for model railroaders in HO and O gauges. It seems that I should have purchased more than three of these highly detailed castings. At one time, Sierra West used to sell a whole line of these resin detail parts. Although they still cast their own castings, these casting are only offered in their craftsmen kits.

Workbench with Shelves

1 inch wide by 7/8 inch tall

Shelves full of Stuff

1 by 1 inch

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Book Two: Jonathan Strange (preamble)

“Can a magician kill a man by magic?” Lord Wellington asked Strange. Strange frowned, he seemed to dislike the question. ‘I suppose a magician might’, he admitted, ‘but a gentleman never wood.’ ”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

I have read the first part of this nine hundred plus page novel and have just started the second part or book two and what a glorious read it has been…

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Pineapple Ale-House-February 1808

“The Pineapple had once been the refuge and hiding place of thief’s and murderers. The current owner thought that its notorious past was somehow advantageous to his business and decorated the walls of his establishment with pictures of those criminals that had been hung and of those who had yet to be. You entered the establishment from a street door and then down three greasy steps. These steps led to a gloomy parlor decorated as previously mentioned.

The Pineapple had its own character and aroma. Its character from the assorted throng that frequented the place. Many were without scruples and notorious characters. The aroma was a combination of the smell of stale tobacco and spilt ale, the natural fragrance of its unwashed cliental, and from the unholy stink of the Fleet River, which had been used as a sewer for countless years. The Fleet ran beneath the Pineapple’s foundations and the Pineapple was generally supposed to be sinking into it.”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Saturday, September 9, 2017

More of the Raven Kings Three Kingdoms

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell heading toward the castle “Last Hope” in the land of Faerie, BBC’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, TV series.

It has previously been reported of the Raven Kings three kingdoms. I intend to expand on that theme. The Raven King did undeniably rule over three kingdoms. “Firstly, the Raven King ruled over the Kingdom of Northern England, which included Cumberland, Northumberland, Durham, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, and part of Nottinghamshire. The other two kingdoms were often referred to as the kings ‘Other Lands’, which included part of Faerie and a country on the far side of Hell, sometimes referred to as the ‘Bitter Lands’.”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Friday, September 8, 2017

My Lament for Barcelona Universal Models

How often have I visited the Barcelona Universal Models blog to view their new offerings? How long have I searched for these offerings via my regular and un-regular channels all without the satisfaction of my being able to purchase a single set?

Recently I did find a few of these BUM models being offered online and ordered a copy of BUM’s 1/72 New Zealand army figure set w/tank and gun. There are forty-four pieces including twenty-eight figures, two razor-wire sections, a tank and a field gun of some sort. The figures are relatively flash free and I look forward to assembling the tank and gun and put these soldiers to task.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Ravings of Vinculus

Vinculus is the magician of Threadneedle Street, a theatrical magician. He has broken into Mr. Norrel’s home and has found his way to Mr. Norrel’s library. He startles Mr. Norrel with the following fragmented quote from the book of the Raven King.

“I reached out my hand, thought and memory flew out of my enemies heads like a flock of starlings; my enemies crumpled like empty sacks.

I came to them out of the mist and rain. I came to them in dreams at midnight; I came to them in a flock of ravens that filled a northern sky at dawn. When they thought themselves safe I came to them in a cry that broke the silence of a winter wood.”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Three Kingdoms

A Glimpse of Fairyland

Mr. Norrell, BBC’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, TV series.

“The rain made a door for me and I went through it;
The stones made a throne for me and I sat upon it;
Three kingdoms 1 were given to me to be mine forever;
England was given to me to be mine forever.
The nameless slave wore a silver crown;
The nameless slave was a king in a strange country.”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

1“The Raven King is said to have had three kingdoms; one in England, one in Fairyland, and one in a strange country in the far side of hell.”

Monday, September 4, 2017

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Mr. Norrell, BBC’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, TV series.

"He hardly ever spoke of magic, and when he did it was like a history lesson and no one could bear to listen to him."

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

It is not often that I get to read a novel and watch the video adaptation at the same time. The book by Susanna Clarke is thick volume that depicts an alternative history of the English Napoleonic wars. It is a story of two magicians, one Mr. Norrell who reveals his powers by making the stone statues of the York cathedral speak and by reviving a young woman promised to be married to Sir Polk, from the dead. I have only read up to the end of the first book of this volume, so I will not introduce the other magician Jonathan Strange now.

So far in my reading Mr. Norrell, although a bit out of the ordinary, seems like a decent fellow, but in my viewing of the BBC TV series, Mr. Norrell, in his want of total control of his medium in England, and to see his plans come to fruition, has taken on some unscrupulous methods.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Language of Birds

“There is nothing else in magic but the wild thought of the bird as it casts itself into the void. There is no creature upon the earth with such potential for magic. Even the least of them may fly straight out of this world and come by chance to the Other Lands. Where does the wind come from that blows upon your face, that fans the pages of your book? Where the harum-scarum magic of the small wild creatures meets the magic of Man, where the language of the wind and rain and he trees can be understood, there will we find the Raven King.” 1

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

1Thomas Lanchester, Treatise concerning the Language of Birds, Chapter 6.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

In the Hall of the Dead

In that great emptiness the voice of the man beside the altar sounded hollow and ghostly:

'... And so the word came southward. The night wind whispered it, the ravens croaked of it as they flew, and the grim bats told it to the owls and the serpents that lurk in hoary ruins. Werewolf and vampire knew, and the ebon-bodied demons that prowl by night. The sleeping Night of the World stirred and shook its heavy mane, and there began a throbbing of drums in deep darkness, and the echoes of far weird cries frightened men who walked by dusk. For the Heart of Ahriman had come again into the world to fulfill its cryptic destiny.’

'Ask me not how I, Thutothmes of Khemi and the Night, heard the word before Thoth-Amon who calls himself prince of all wizards. There are secrets not meet for such ears even as yours, and Thoth-Amon is not the only lord of the Black Ring.’

'I knew, and I went to meet the Heart which came southward. It was like a magnet which drew me, unerringly. From death to death it came, riding on a river of human blood. Blood feeds it, blood draws it. Its power is greatest when there is blood on the hands that grasp it, when it is wrested by slaughter from its holder. Wherever it gleams, blood is spilt and kingdoms totter, and the forces of nature are put in turmoil.’

'And here I stand, the master of the Heart, and have summoned you to come secretly, who are faithful to me, to share in the black kingdom that shall be. Tonight you shall witness the breaking of Thoth-Amon's chains which enslave us, and the birth of empire.’”

Chapter 19: In the Hall of the Dead, The Hour of the Dragon, Robert E. Howard.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Risk 2210 AD Battle Report

My brother and I played our first game of Risk 2210 AD the other day. Although it is basically played like the classic Risk board game, Risk 2210 AD adds some complexity to the game play. In addition, the game board has been updated and there two other types of territories that players can strive for. One such includes its own game board. Like the main game board, the moon board is broken into sectors and territories.

What makes this edition unique is its inclusion of commanders and command cards. These cards, especially, add the complexity I had mentioned to the game; more about these cards in a later post.

Since I was the one who introduced the game and was the one who made sure that the rules were being followed, I did not have my whole focus on the goal of winning and my brother beat my soundly.

My brother quickly got the upper hand by establishing a presence on the moon and in the sea colonies, while I was strapped by the play of my brothers command cards which limited my actions

Friday, August 25, 2017

A Curious Footnote

“Three Perfectible States of Being”, William Pantler, Henry Lintot, London, 1735.

The three perfectible beings are angels, men, and fairies.

Footnote #2, page 210, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Princess Akivasha

"'You have heard of Princess Akivasha?' inquired the girl on the couch.

'Her only sin was that she loved life and all the meanings of life,' said the Stygian girl. 'To win life she courted death. She could not bear to think of growing old and shriveled and worn, and dying at last as hags die. She wooed Darkness like a lover and his gift was life—life that, not being life as mortals know it, can never grow old and fade. She went into the shadows to cheat age and death—'

Conan glared at her with eyes that were suddenly burning slits. And he wheeled and tore the lid from the sarcophagus. It was empty. Behind him the girl was laughing and the sound froze the blood in his veins. He whirled back to her, the short hairs on his neck bristling.

'You are Akivasha!' he grated.

She laughed and shook back her burnished locks, spread her arms sensuously.

'I am Akivasha! I am the woman who never died, who never grew old! Who fools say was lifted from the earth by the gods, in the full bloom of her youth and beauty, to queen it forever in some celestial clime! Nay, it is in the shadows that mortals find immortality! Ten thousand years ago, I died to live forever! Give me your lips, strong man!'

Rising lithely, she came to him, rose on tiptoe and flung her arms about his massive neck. Scowling down into her upturned, beautiful countenance he was aware of a fearful fascination and an icy fear.

'Love me!' she whispered, her head thrown back, eyes closed and lips parted. 'Give me of your blood to renew my youth and perpetuate my everlasting life! I will make you, too, immortal! I will teach you the wisdom of all the ages, all the secrets that have lasted out the eons in the blackness beneath these dark temples. I will make you king of that shadowy horde which revels among the tombs of the ancients when night veils the desert and bats flit across the moon. I am weary of priests and magicians, and captive girls dragged screaming through the portals of death. I desire a man. Love me, barbarian!'

She pressed her dark head down against his mighty breast, and he felt a sharp pang at the base of his throat. With a curse, he tore her away and flung her sprawling across the couch.

'Damned vampire!' Blood was trickling from a tiny wound in his throat.

She reared up on the couch like a serpent poised to strike, all the golden fires of hell blazing in her wide eyes. Her lips drew back, revealing white pointed teeth."

Chapter 18: 'I Am the Woman Who Never Died', The Hour of the Dragon, Robert E. Howard

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Narrow Gauge Two Ton Flat Wagon

This 7mm scale 0-16.5 narrow gauge 2 Ton Flat Wagon is manufactured by Peco who produces “Great Little Trains”.  As you can see by its design the flat wagon is built off a British prototype.  In the US this wagon would be designated as On30 and run on HO gauge track. The wagon is made from white metal and wheel sets of a non-conductive material.

Some of the other items in this series are:

Model #



Tram Locomotive


Fletcher Jennings Saddle Tank Locomotive


0-4-0 Hunslet Quarry Locomotive


4-Ton Mineral Wagon


2-Ton Bolster Wagon


1-Ton Slate Wagon


4-Wheel Open Wagon


4-Wheel Box Van


Side Tip Wagon


4-Wheel Coach/Brake-Maroon Livery


4-Wheel Coach/Brake-Green Livery

Friday, August 18, 2017

A Ghoul Attacks Conan!

"Conan lay and stared, half expecting it to vanish like a figure of a dream, and then a chill of recollection crept along his spine. Half-forgotten memories surged back, of grisly tales whispered of the shapes that haunted these uninhabited forests at the foot of the hills that mark the Zingaran-Argossean border. Ghouls, men called them, eaters of human flesh, spawn of darkness, children of unholy mating's of a lost and forgotten race with the demons of the underworld. Somewhere in these primitive forests were the ruins of an ancient, accursed city, men whispered, and among its tombs slunk gray, anthropomorphic shadows—Conan shuddered strongly.

He lay staring at the malformed head that rose dimly above him, and cautiously he extended a hand toward the sword at his hip. With a horrible cry that the man involuntarily echoed, the monster was at his throat.

Conan threw up his right arm, and the dog-like jaws closed on it, driving the mail links into the hard flesh. The misshapen yet man-like hands clutched for his throat, but he evaded them with a heave and roll of his whole body, at the same time drawing his dagger with his left hand.

They tumbled over and over on the grass, smiting and tearing. The muscles coiling under that gray corpse-like skin were stringy and hard as steel wires, exceeding the strength of a man. But Conan's thews were iron too, and his mail saved him from the gnashing fangs and ripping claws long enough for him to drive home his dagger, again and again and again. The horrible vitality of the semi-human monstrosity seemed inexhaustible, and the king's skin crawled at the feel of that slick, clammy flesh. He put all his loathing and savage revulsion behind the plunging blade, and suddenly the monster heaved up convulsively beneath him as the point found its grisly heart, and then lay still.

Conan rose, shaken with nausea. He stood in the center of the glade uncertainly, sword in one hand and dagger in the other. He had not lost his instinctive sense of direction, as far as the points of the compass were concerned, but he did not know in which direction the road lay. He had no way of knowing in which direction the ghoul had dragged him. Conan glared at the silent, black, moon-dappled woods which ringed him, and felt cold moisture bead his flesh. He was without a horse and lost in these haunted woods, and that staring deformed thing at his feet was a mute evidence of the horrors that lurked in the forest. He stood almost holding his breath in his painful intensity, straining his ears for some crack of twig or rustle of grass.

When a sound did come he started violently. Suddenly out on the night air broke the scream of a terrified horse. His stallion! There were panthers in the wood—or—ghouls ate beasts as well as men."

Chapter 12: The Fang of the Dragon, The Hour of the Dragon, Robert E. Howard

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Lord Portishead’s Books on Magic-October 1807

The following is a small list of books purported to have been written by Lord Portishead, a fictional character found in Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell novel.

“By the time Lord Portishead had given up magic in 1808 he had written the following books:

  • The Life of Jacques Belasis, Longman, London, 1801
  • The Life of Nicholas Goubert, Longman, London, 1805
  • A Child's History of the Raven King, Longman, London, 1807 (this volume was illustrated by Thomas Bewick)”

A Gentleman with the Thistle-Down Hair, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Narrow Gauge Plymouth Locomotive

The first time that I saw this little locomotive it still held a pretty good coat of yellow paint. As it sits here it languishes and the rust has just about mastered it. The loco is a narrow gauge Plymouth Locomotive and in its day it might have been used at some foundry or mine. This is one of the last locomotive pictures I took at the event. It is a shame that this little loco is being neglected.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Reading Line Diesels

I overlooked this picture when uploading the others.

Reading Railroad Heritage Museum Railfest

This year’s Reading Railroad Heritage Museum Railfest was held on August 11 through the 13 and in addition to the normal historic exhibitions and displays included many off site events. I didn’t attend or participate in any of these events, but I did get plenty of nice photos of the scale layouts and out door equipment displays.

Indoor HO Scale Layout

There were two HO gauge layouts displayed at this year’s show. These images were taken of the “smaller” of the two.

Large Scale Layout (Is it S or O gauge?)

Large (110 foot) Modular HO Gauge Layout

N-Gauge Layout

There were all types of Reading Railroad equipment on the grounds.