Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Monday, June 27, 2016

On the reading table

There has not been a lot of 15mm miniatures painting action here of late, but one thing I have been chewing through is the books.

I've been particularly enjoying Alan Moorehead's The Desert War. He gives an excellent overview of the campaigns and his easy style, combining personal observations with broader commentary, makes for an engrossing read. He has a couple of standout passages on the effect of war upon the men. See this, for example, regarding life at the front:

One lived there exactly and economically and straightly, depending greatly on one's companions in a world that was all black or white, or perhaps death instead of living. Most of the things it takes you a long time to do in peace-time--to shave and get up in the morning, for example--are done with marvellous skill and economy of effort at the front. Little things like an unexpected drink become great pleasures, and other things which one might have thought important become suddenly irrelevant or foolish. In a hunter's or a killer's world there are sleep and food and warmth and the chase and the memory of women and not much else. Emotions are reduced to anger and fear and perhaps a few other things, but mostly anger and fear, tempered sometimes with a little gratitude. If a man offers you a drink in a city bar, the offering is little and the drink still less. You appreciate the offering and give it more importance that the drink. At the front the drink is everything and the offering merely a mechanical thing. It is never a gesture, but a straight practical move as part of a a scheme of giving and receiving. The soldier gives if he can and receives if he can't. There is no other way to live. A pity this is apparent and imperative only in the neighbourhood of death. (p.92)

An ebook I have on the go for the first time is Les Miserables. I'd always associated it with high school musicals (which right from my first exposure to them I've always found very annoying), but it's actually quite good.

Rosemary Sutcliff's Arthurian trilogy is another I've been dipping into when I have a spare ten minutes. I got it to read to the kids, but it's a bit beyond them yet. You tend to think of RS as a young person's author, but her books have a lot going on in them. It makes her more valuable in that  people just don't write like she does anymore. There is a dignity to the pacing of her stories but she can pull out some marvellous imagery and action sequences when she has a mind to. I must keep an eye out for more of her books when I'm browsing second hand stores back in New Zealand next.

One other I'll mention before I sign off is a collection of short stories called The Burial of the Guns by Thomas Nelson Page. The stories are set in the American South, mainly during or after the Civil War, and although the stories are sentimental they are well crafted and worth reading through. Again, he writes in a style that you don't see these days. As a bonus, the book is available free from the internet archive, as is an audiobook version of the title story.

Cover image from here.
Cover image from here.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Prepping the IJN

I've been doing a little more work on some of the Fujimi 1/3000 naval models I picked up recently. Goodness me, they are beautiful to work with, and the detail is astonishing.

Here is the light cruiser Oyodo. There are nine parts that go into making her up, but you'd never know it. I had a little glue run onto her side, but you can see how much detail there is.

This is the (as yet unmade, obviously!) sprue for the Nagato. The thought that has been put into the best way to capture the essential characteristics of the ship is quintessentially Japanese. The craftsmanship is wonderful.

And here is my little fleet so far, including a test painting of the Shokaku. There are another twenty or so ships to do from the sets I already have, but I think I'll grab one or two sets more.

Their opponents will probably be 1/3000 metals, which I imagine will look pretty crude by comparison. Perhaps a plea to the company might be in order?

Monday, June 20, 2016

1/3000 naval sets

And now for something completely different...

It's birthday season in house Prufrock, and while the kids were ransacking the local toy shop for MineCraft accessories to spend some of their gift money on I trotted over to have a quick look at the plastic models section. Would you believe it, but they had four 1/3000 WWII dock sets in. 1/3000 naval is something I've wanted to get into for some time now so this fool and his money were quickly parted.

At home tonight I opened up the Yokosuka naval base set to have a gander and liked what I saw. There are ten ships and a diorama base, so you get quite a lot for your money.

The models are very finely made, and everything seems to have been engineered with typical Japanese exactitude. The battleships are absolutely lovely, but I decided to start with something a little simpler.

Here is the sprue for the carrier Shokaku.

And another for the Fubuki class destroyers.

The three pieces for the carrier went together very nicely, and only slight trimming was needed.

Definitely similar to the real thing!

By Unknown - 広島県呉市海事歴史科学館所蔵品。(Hiroshima Prefecture Yamato Museum collection), Public Domain,

An excellent find, and I'm very pleased. I'm not confident in my painting on hard plastic and in this scale, however, so hopefully I won't stuff things up too much in the next step!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Articles Done and Away!

Well, I've finally managed to finish and send off a couple of articles that had been hanging over my head. One was a gaming article, the other a book review, and together they took more time and effort than I had been expecting.

I couldn't quite settle on the right balance for the gaming article. As a mixed rules / game report piece, I had to be careful that the information in the report section would be intelligible, but without making the first half read like a rulebook. I also had to try to keep it interesting enough that people might want to read through to the end. Hopefully there's enough information there but not so much as to be overwhelming. My biggest concern is that it's probably lacking a little in entertainment factor, but I guess we shall see!

The other one was very difficult to write. As a review of what turned out to be a bad book - by far the worst non-fiction book I've ever read on the era - it was difficult to keep my indignation under control and maintain the objectivity needed to show what was wrong with it in a matter-of-fact fashion. I ended up with some 8,000 words, pared it back to just under a quarter of that, attempted to excise anything that might sound like frothy-mouthed ranting and looked for something to say about it that was not wholly negative.

Full frothy-mouthed ranting book reviewer mode.

It's not an experience I want to repeat.

Hopefully the next time (if there is a next time after this!) that I get to review a book it will be something properly researched, intelligently written, on-topic and drawing sensible conclusions that follow from the material presented. Then I can say nice things about it with no drama and everyone will be happy.

A bad non-fiction book requires a significant amount more work to review than a good one. If the reviewer's own criticisms can be shown to be biased, incorrect, or based on a misreading, then not only have you unfairly impugned the author, but one's own credibility will be destroyed. There is a responsibility, in other words, to make sure you get it right.

Incidentally, this experience reminded me again of the good thing about cigarettes. Although I quit about nine years ago, smoking was very good when writing.  Going out on the balcony for a smoke every hour gave time and the mental space to reflect. Invariably new ideas would arise spontaneously for a better way to say what had already been said, or for how to approach the next stage.

I really enjoy the writing process, but it is intense. I am the type who takes weeks to get the first few paragraphs right, but then the rest will follow quickly. I find these days that without the ruminative effect of cigarette breaks, 'the rest' does not follow so quickly or so intuitively. Alcohol is no good; after the third drink it just impedes the judgment, you can't trust your revisions, and will generally find you need to rewrite the whole lot.

Perhaps I need to take a humble cup of tea outside every hour...

Anyway, it's good to have them done, and I might even treat myself to a favourite game in the near future to celebrate.

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