Friday, January 27, 2017

Madre Mia-"Oh mother!"

"People may say thou art no longer young
And yet, to me, thy youth was yesterday,
A yesterday that seems
Still mingled with my dreams.
Ah! how the years have o'er thee flung
Their soft mantilla, grey.
And e'en to them thou art not over old;
How could'st thou be! Thy hair
Hast scarcely lost its deep old glorious dark:
Thy face is scarcely lined. No mark
Destroys its calm serenity. Like gold
Of evening light, when winds scarce stir,
The soul-light of thy face is pure as prayer."

Preface from the The Boats of the "Glen Carrig"

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Two Faces

"Now, suddenly, and in the distance, I caught the far wailing that came before the night, and abruptly, as it seemed to me, the tree wailed at us. At that I was vastly astonished and frightened; yet, though I retreated, I could not withdraw my gaze from the tree; but scanned it the more intently; and, suddenly, I saw a brown, human face peering at us from between the wrapped branches. At this, I stood very still, being seized with that fear which renders one shortly incapable of movement. Then, before I had possession of myself, I saw that it was of a part with the trunk of the tree; for I could not tell where it ended and the tree began.

Then I caught the bo'sun by the arm, and pointed; for whether it was a part of the tree or not, it was a work of the devil; but the bo'sun, on seeing it, ran straightway so close to the tree that he might have touched it with his hand, and I found myself beside him. Now, George, who was on the bo'sun's other side, whispered that there was another face, not unlike to a woman's, and, indeed, so soon as I perceived it, I saw that the tree had a second excrescence, most strangely after the face of a woman. Then the bo'sun cried out with an oath, at the strangeness of the thing, and I felt the arm, which I held, shake somewhat, as it might be with a deep emotion. Then, far away, I heard again the sound of the wailing and, immediately, from among the trees about us, there came answering wails and a great sighing. And before I had time to be more than aware of these things, the tree wailed again at us. And at that, the bo'sun cried out suddenly that he knew; though of what it was that he knew I had at that time no knowledge. And, immediately, he began with his cutlass to strike at the tree before us, and to cry upon God to blast it; and lo! at his smiting a very fearsome thing happened, for the tree did bleed like any live creature. Thereafter, a great yowling came from it, and it began to writhe. And, suddenly, I became aware that all about us the trees were a-quiver."

The Two Faces, The Boats of the "Glen Carrig", William Hope Hodgson

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Glorious Trees-A Host of Characters

“We would, from time to time, pay visits to the country seats at some of the great lords’ beautiful fortified places, and the villages clustering beneath their walls. Here we saw vineyards and corn-fields and well-kept park-like grounds, with such timber in them as filled me with delight, for I do love a good tree. There it stands so strong and sturdy, and yet so beautiful, a very type of the best sort of man. How proudly it lifts its bare head to the winter storms, and with what a full heart it rejoices when the spring has come again! How grand its voice is, too, when it talks with the wind: a thousand aeolian harps cannot equal the beauty of the sighing of a great tree in leaf. All day it points to the sunshine and all night to the stars, and thus passionless, and yet full of life, it endures through the centuries, come storm, come shine, drawing its sustenance from the cool bosom of its mother earth, and as the slow years roll by, learning the great mysteries of growth and of decay. And so on and on through generations, outliving individuals, customs, dynasties—all save the landscape it adorns and human nature—till the appointed day when the wind wins the long battle and rejoices over a reclaimed space, or decay puts the last stroke to his fungus-fingered work.

Ah, one should always think twice before one cuts down a tree!”

Chapter XV Sorais’ Song, Allan Quartermain, H. Rider Haggard

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Tree at The Mission Station

"In the centre of the square thus formed was, perhaps, the most remarkable object that we had yet seen in this charming place, and that was a single tree of the conifer tribe, varieties of which grow freely on the highlands of this part of Africa. This splendid tree, which Mr Mackenzie informed us was a landmark for fifty miles round, and which we had ourselves seen for the last forty miles of our journey, must have been nearly three hundred feet in height, the trunk measuring about sixteen feet in diameter at a yard from the ground. For some seventy feet it rose a beautiful tapering brown pillar without a single branch, but at that height splendid dark green boughs, which, looked at from below, had the appearance of gigantic fern-leaves, sprang out horizontally from the trunk, projecting right over the house and flower-garden, to both of which they furnished a grateful proportion of shade, without—being so high up—offering any impediment to the passage of light and air.

‘What a beautiful tree!’ exclaimed Sir Henry.'

‘That reminds me,’ I said, ‘the Consul at Lamu told me that he had had a letter from you, in which you said that a man had arrived here who reported that he had come across a white people in the interior. Do you think that there was any truth in his story? I ask, because I have once or twice in my life heard rumours from natives who have come down from the far north of the existence of such a race.’ ”

Chapter III Allan Quartermen, H. Rider Haggard

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Gear for a Black Ops Operation

This is another post on a capsule machine find; same machine as the last two posts, however nothing fits the robot with the exception of the ball cap. There must be other figures in the machine that can make use of this gear. The miniatures are cast; from what I believe is polystyrene.

The question is, do I want to try to obtain one of these supposed figures? Perhaps…

Friday, January 20, 2017

Mini Weapons Cache Confiscated

These weapons were smuggled into the DC area inside a toy capsule. It is a good thing that these weapons were confiscated before today’s Inauguration. To get an idea as to the size of these automatic weapons, the object at the bottom right is a hat and is about the size of an American quarter dollar.

These micro-sized weapons were acquired from a capsule toy machine; the same machine were I obtained the robot; yesterday’s post. I believe these capsule guns are formed from polystyrene.

With the exception of the hat none of these weapons are compatible with the robot model, so I am guessing that there are other models in the machine that are.

I still want to try to identify these weapons and I believe it might be fun to add some paint to these miniatures and being out some of their details.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Robot Capsule Toy

Here is another capsule toy that I recently acquired. One of my long standing goals is to keep my eyes open for interesting capsule toys.

My robot was assembled from five unique parts. The plastic parts were snapped together and did not require glue.

The assembled model stands 40mm tall and is ready for action.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Beauty in the Land of Dreams-Journey into the Unknown

“And the butterflies sung of strange and painted things, of purple orchids and of lost pink cities and the monstrous colours of the jungle's decay. And they, too, were among those whose voices are not discernible by human ears. And as they floated above the river, going from forest to forest, their splendour was matched by the inimical beauty of the birds who darted out to pursue them. Or sometimes they settled on the white and wax-like blooms of the plant that creeps and clambers about the trees of the forest; and their purple wings flashed out on the great blossoms as, when the caravans go from Nurl to Thace, the gleaming silks flash out upon the snow, where the crafty merchants spread them one by one to astonish the mountaineers of the Hills of Noor.”

Tales of Three Hemispheres, Lord Dunsany

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Yann Bore Us Onwards-Journey into the Unknown

“And so Yann River bore us magnificently onwards, for he was elate with molten snow that the Poltiades had brought him from the Hills of Hap1, and the Marn and Migris2 were swollen full with floods; and he bore us in his might past Kyph and Pir, and we saw the lights of Goolunza.”

1Hills of Haps are said to raise like isles above lands of Dream.

2Marn and Migris are rivers that mingled their waters with the mighty Yann.

Mandaroon- Journey into the Unknown

“We knew that soon we should come to Mandaroon1. We made a meal, and Mandaroon appeared. Then the captain commanded, and the sailors loosed again the greater sails, and the ship turned and left the stream of Yann and came into a harbour beneath the ruddy walls of Mandaroon. Then while the sailors went and gathered fruits I came alone to the gate of Mandaroon. A few huts were outside it, in which lived the guard. A sentinel with a long white beard was standing in the gate, armed with a rusty pike. He wore large spectacles, which were covered with dust. Through the gate I saw the city. A deathly stillness was over all of it. The ways seemed untrodden, and moss was thick on doorsteps; in the market-place huddled figures lay asleep. A scent of incense and burned poppies, and there was a hum of the echoes of distant bells.

I said to the sentinel in the tongue of the region of Yann, "Why are they all asleep in this still city?" He answered: "None may ask questions in this gate for fear they wake the people of the city. For when the people of this city wake the gods will die. And when the gods die men may dream no more." And I began to ask him what gods that city worshipped, but he lifted his pike because none might ask questions there. So I left him and went back to the Bird of the River2.”

Tales of Three Hemispheres, Lord Dunsany

1Mandaroon was beautiful city with her white pinnacles peering over her ruddy walls and the green of her copper roofs.

2A trading bark that plied the Yann River.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Human Nature is God’s Kaleidoscope

"Man’s cleverness is almost indefinite, and stretches like an elastic band, but human nature is like an iron ring. You can go round and round it, you can polish it highly, you can even flatten it a little on one side, whereby you will make it bulge out the other, but you will never, while the world endures and man is man, increase its total circumference. It is the one fixed unchangeable thing—fixed as the stars, more enduring than the mountains, as unalterable as the way of the Eternal. Human nature is God’s kaleidoscope, and the little bits of coloured glass which represent our passions, hopes, fears, joys, aspirations towards good and evil and what not, are turned in His mighty hand as surely and as certainly as it turns the stars, and continually fall into new patterns and combinations. But the composing elements remain the same, nor will there be one more bit of coloured glass nor one less for ever and ever."

Introduction, Allan Quartermen, H. Rider Haggard

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Black Swan Plague Base

This 25mm Black Swan Plague Base is a, multi-part, resin scenery piece which includes a variety of distressed industrial terrain details and a pair of ‘filthy’ little imp like creatures. One of these creatures is molded into the top piece and the other impish creature can be placed anywhere you like. The terrain piece comes with two choices of foundation. One foundation comes with machinery and miscellaneous debris whiles the other base with skulls and maggots. The latter is probably a better choice of the two.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Armored King Mech-Unit Capsule Toy

This capsule toy, No. K7-10, from "Blocks World", is a 25 piece Lego like puzzle (toy). I call it a puzzle because I am puzzled on how to assemble it. However, I haven’t given up yet! As you can see from the front of the assembly sheet, the kit can be built in three different configurations. I have been trying to assemble the model as the Mech-unit, that is, the model illustrated on the right. (above)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Lovecraft Dreamlands Literature

The following Lovecraft stories either take place in or make reference to the Dreamlands:

"Polaris" (1918)
"Beyond the Wall of Sleep" (1919)
"The Doom That Came to Sarnath" (1919)
"The White Ship" (1919)
"The Cats of Ulthar" (1920)
"Celephaïs" (1920)
"The Other Gods" (1921)
"Hypnos" (1922)
"The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" (1926)
"The Silver Key" (1926)
"The Strange High House in the Mist" (1926)
"Through the Gates of the Silver Key" (1932)

Texts can be read from here:

The Dreamlands is a fictional location in the Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft. It is also the setting for a number of pastiches written by other authors.

Lovecraft’s Dreamlands is an alternative dimension that is accessible, at will, by young dreamers. Once a person reaches adulthood accessing Dreamlands is more difficult and can be accessed through the use of certain narcotics.

Once a dreamer enters into the Dreamlands they must walk down the Seventy Steps of Light Slumber. Once at the bottom of the stairs they will face the judgment of Nasht and Kaman the gatekeepers of Dreamlands. If these gatekeepers find the dreamer worthy the dreamer is allowed to descend the Seven Hundred Steps of Deeper Slumber and emerges in to the Enchanted Wood.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Tales of Three Hemispheres-Other Influencers of H.P. Lovecraft

Within Lord Dunsany’s Tales of Three Hemispheres there are three interlocking stories: Idle Days on the Yann, A Shop in Go by Street, and The Avenger of Perdondaris1 . All three of these tales told of a land of dream. Lovecraft took off on this concept, but in Lovecraft’s series of stories Dunsany’s land of dreams changed to Dreamlands.

1Perdondaris was a famous city in Lord Dunsany’s Idle Days On the Yann that presumably had been destroyed by some army or creature.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

1/87 Scale Telegraph and Telephone Poles

A few days ago a fellow blogger made the following post: “T is for Telecoms-Truck with Telegraph-Poles for Telephone-Line”. At about the same time I was reorganizing my model railroad gear and came across three different bags of 1/87 scale Telegraph and Telephone Poles.

These poles, I believe are from Atlas and comes packaged with twelve telephone poles. These telephone poles are made from a hard plastic, something other than polystyrene. Like those listed on Hugh’s post these poles have two notches on either side to pin the pole down to the layout.

The next set is from Ratio and of a European prototype. These do not have a base and will have to be placed and set directly into the layouts form board. There are sixteen to the package. This set feels like polystyrene.

The last set is from an unknown source and come packaged twelve to the package. Although all three sets of poles are finely crafted and detailed, this set with its green insulators is my favorite. I believe these are cast from polystyrene.

Weird-Oh’s-Sling Rave Curvette

Sling Rave Curvette stands snug on her skateboard through the use of a magnets that are down at her feet. The skateboard is metal and although it doesn’t roll like a real skateboard it does roll. The figure is made of PVC plastic and stand roughly six inches tall and while Sling Rave Curvette is on her skateboard she stands a good eight inches tall.

I found her and a few other odd toys at a discount store and with a 40% discount to boot. I don’t know whether they are still in production? Sling Rave Curvette is one of a few skateboarders.

Weird-Oh model’s is a division of Hawk models which still produces a line of weird hotrods models. These models include a hot-rod of sorts and a weird monster driver. Believe it or not each of these hotrods models has its own song.And that is weird!

Friday, January 6, 2017

It’s All in the Details

Here is my collection of HO gauge (1/87) detail pieces. Even a small model train layout would require hundreds of these types of details. The more details, the more believable scenes become.

There are close to one hundred finished detail pieces in this storage box. Just a start to all of the details that will be added to one scene at a time. Individual scenes might include structures, both large and small, detail parts, figures, vehicles, and landscape elements such as grass, trees, and shrubs.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Verse of Dr. Stephan Maturin

The following three verses were written by Dr. Maturin while he served on H. M.S. Surprise.

“Then we upon out globes last verge shall go.
And view the ocean leaning on the sky;
From thence our rolling neighbors we shall know,
And on the lunar world securely pry by God I believe.”

“Thus to the Eastern wealth through storms we go;
But now, the Cape once doubled fear no more;
A constant trade-wind will securely blow,
And gently lay us on the spicy shore.”

“All all of a piece throughout,
Thy chase had a least in view,
Thy wars brought nothing about,
The lovers were all untrue.”

H. M. S. Surprise, Patrick O’ Brian

The Curious Endnotes of the Allan Quatermain Novel

Endnote 1
Among the Zulus a man assumes the ring, which is made of a species of black gum twisted in with the hair, and polished a brilliant black, when he has reached a certain dignity and age, or is the husband of a sufficient number of wives. Till he is in a position to wear a ring he is looked on as a boy, though he may be thirty-five years of age, or even more.—A. Q.

Endnote 2
One of the fleetest of the African antelopes.—A. Q.

Endnote 3
Alluding to the Zulu custom of opening the stomach of a dead foe. They have a superstition that, if this is not done, as the body of their enemy swells up so will the bodies of those who killed him swell up.—A. Q.

Endnote 4
No doubt this owl was a wingless bird. I afterwards learnt that the hooting of an owl is a favourite signal among the Masai tribes.—A. Q.

Endnote 5
Since I saw the above I have examined hundreds of these swords, but have never been able to discover how the gold plates were inlaid in the fretwork. The armourers who make them in Zu-vendis bind themselves by oath not to reveal the secret.—A. Q.

Endnote 6
The Masai Elmoran or young warriors can own no property, so all the booty they may win in battle belongs to their fathers alone.—A. Q.

Endnote 7
As I think I have already said, one of Umslopogaas’s Zulu names was the ‘Woodpecker’. I could never make out why he was called so until I saw him in action with Inkosi-kaas, when I at once recognized the resemblance.—A. Q.

Endnote 8
By a sad coincidence, since the above was written by Mr Quatermain, the Masai have, in April 1886, massacred a missionary and his wife—Mr and Mrs Houghton—on this very Tana River, and at the spot described. These are, I believe, the first white people who are known to have fallen victims to this cruel tribe.—Editor.

Endnote 9
Mr Allan Quatermain misquotes—Pleasure sat at the helm.—Editor.

Endnote 10
Where Alph the sacred river ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea

Endnote 11

Mr Quatermain does not seem to have been aware that it is common for animal-worshipping people to annually sacrifice the beasts they adore. See Herodotus, ii. 45.—Editor.

Endnote 12
There is another theory which might account for the origin of the Zu-Vendi which does not seem to have struck my friend Mr Quatermain and his companions, and that is, that they are descendants of the Phoenicians. The cradle of the Phoenician race is supposed to have been on the western shore of the Persian Gulf. Thence, as there is good evidence to show, they emigrated in two streams, one of which took possession of the shores of Palestine, while the other is supposed by savants to have immigrated down the coast of Eastern Africa where, near Mozambique, signs and remains of their occupation are not wanting. Indeed, it would have been very extraordinary if they did not, when leaving the Persian Gulf, make straight for the East Coast, seeing that the north-east monsoon blows for six months in the year dead in that direction, while for the other six months it blows back again. And, by the way of illustrating the probability, I may add that to this day a very extensive trade is carried on between the Persian Gulf and Lamu and other East African ports as far south as Madagascar, which is of course the ancient Ebony Isle of the ‘Arabian Nights’.—Editor.

Endnote 13
There are twenty-two letters in the Phoenician alphabet (see Appendix, Maspero’s Histoire ancienne des peuples de l’Orient, p. 746, etc.) Unfortunately Mr Quatermain gives us no specimen of the Zu-Vendi writing, but what he here states seems to go a long way towards substantiating the theory advanced in the note on p. 149.—Editor.

Endnote 14
These are internal measurements.—A. Q.

Endnote 15
Light was also admitted by sliding shutters under the eaves of the dome and in the roof.—A. Q.

Endnote 16
This line is interesting as being one of the few allusions to be found in the Zu-Vendi ritual to a vague divine essence independent of the material splendour of the orb they worship. ‘Taia’, the word used here, has a very indeterminate meaning, and signifies essence, vital principle, spirit, or even God.

Endnote 17
Alluding to the Zulu custom.—A. Q.

Endnote 18
In Zu-Vendis members of the Royal House can only be married by the High Priest or a formally appointed deputy.—A. Q.

Endnote 19
Alluding to the Zu-Vendi custom of carrying dead officers on a framework of spears.

Endnote 20
The Zu-Vendi people do not use bows.—A. Q.

Endnote 21
Of course, the roof of the Temple, being so high, caught the light some time before the breaking of the dawn.—A. Q.

Endnote 22
Of course the Court of Probate would allow nothing of the sort.—Editor.

Endnote 23
It is suggested to me that this book is The Cruise of the “Falcon”, with which work I am personally unacquainted.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Aubrey–Maturin Series by Patrick O'Brian

I have started to read the third volume in Patrick O'Brian’s Aubrey–Maturin series; HMS Surprise. The Aubrey–Maturin series includes 20 historical novels. The series are set during the Napoleonic Wars and are centering around the friendship of Captain Jack Aubrey of the Royal Navy and the ship's surgeon, Stephen Maturin. Maturin is a trained physician, a natural philosopher, and an intelligence agent.

Having read the previous two titles in this series and having seen the Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, I knew I that I would be entertained.

Novels in order of first publication:

Master and Commander (1969)
Post Captain (1972)
HMS Surprise (1973)
The Mauritius Command (1977)
Desolation Island (1978)
The Fortune of War (1979)
The Surgeon's Mate (1980)
The Ionian Mission (1981)
Treason's Harbour (1983)
The Far Side of the World (1984)
The Reverse of the Medal (1986)
The Letter of Marque (1988)
The Thirteen Gun Salute (1989)
The Nutmeg of Consolation (1991)
Clarissa Oakes (1992)
The Wine-Dark Sea (1993)
The Commodore (1995)
The Yellow Admiral (1996)
The Hundred Days (1998)
Blue at the Mizzen (1999)
The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey (2004)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Legend of a Dragon-lady

He watched it stoically, not wondering at a new thing, if indeed it be new to China, meditated on it awhile in a manner strange to us, and when he had added to his philosophy what little could be derived from the sight of this hansom cab, returned to his contemplation of that night's chances of wolves and to such occasional thoughts as he drew at times for his comfort out of the legends of China, that have been preserved for such uses. And on such a night their comfort was greatly needed. He thought of the legend of a dragon-lady, more fair than the flowers are, without an equal amongst daughters of men, humanly lovely to look on although her sire was a dragon, yet one who traced his descent from gods of the elder days, and so it was that she went in all her ways divine, like the earliest ones of her race, who were holier than the emperor.

Tales of Three Hemispheres, Lord Dunsany

Monday, January 2, 2017

When China was Young

And the rice prepared for him was hot and good, all the more after the bitter coldness of that sleet. And when he had consumed it her perused his experience, turning over again in his mind each detail of the cabs he had seen; and from that his thoughts slipped calmly to the glorious history of China, going back to the indecorous times before calmness came, and beyond those times to the happy days of the earth when the gods and dragons were here and China was young; and lighting his opium pipe and casting his thoughts easily forward he looked to the time when the dragons shall come again.

Tales of Three Hemispheres, Lord Dunsany

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Rescued Toy Soldier Paratrooper

I saw this toy in our lost and found box and thought it might make good copy. The six-inch toy is cast in some sort of yellow hard plastic. He looks like a paratrooper minus his parachute.

Getting things Done

Happy New Year

The year seemed to go by so quickly and we are at the start of another. This past year has seen quite a few acquisitions. It seems I get more fun out of purchases than I have from the completion of these miniatures.

One of my goals for the new year is to complete some of these miniatures I have collected over the past few years. I will work on a list of possible projects. Another goal is to put some of those completed miniatures to use in scenes and games. I want to redouble my efforts in making purchases that will have an end and not end up in a box.

Over the new few months I want to work a few scrimmage games and a dungeon crawl game, so miniatures and scenery pieces will be needed for these endeavors. Collecting comes easy for me and is no doubt that I will collect a few more miniatures over the next year, but I want to concentrate on these projects and of those that I mentioned above. Wish me luck.