Friday, April 09, 2010

A door that won't stay closed

Way back, in days of yore, when I bought my very first D&D rulebook (the legendary "Red Box"), the store owner threw in a couple of little metal men with the box. Little did we know that this small act of kindness would have far reaching consequences...

Back in those days, D&D didn't require any sort of figures to play. Strictly speaking, it still doesn't, but with the two most recent versions the publishers have done their level best to change that - playing the game without some sort of token or other marker to track movement loses a lot. I don't really consider this an improvement.

However, back then, it was not long before we converted to the use of miniatures, a practice that would actually only last a couple of years before being discontinued as being too much hassle.

But in that time, I was hooked. See, the thing is that the miniatures are supplied unpainted, and so require a certain amount of time, effort, and skill to prepare for 'real' use. And I always found the process of actually painting the miniatures very restful, and a good relief of stress. The concentration and attention to detail required necessarily took my mind off of whatever issues had been bugging me, at least for a while.

(I was never a fan of the 'other' parts of the process. See, the miniatures also had to be cleaned up before painting, they sometimes needed assembled, and they also needed undercoating (and varnish afterwards). Still, those were necessary evils.)

And so, I found myself buying hundreds of the little guys, especially from Games Workshop. I always liked their miniatures, although I never got into their games. I found them unnecessarily complex (basic attacks required four rolls to resolve, when it should have been only one, and there were too many exceptions littered around), and the design was also cynically done to favour the person willing to spend the most money (the best figures were always the most expensive).

Eventually, I found myself with more than a hundred unpainted figures, and with progressively less time to paint. And I do so hate having things left undone...

In 2003, found myself unemployed for the first time, and for a number of months. During that time, I dedicated myself to getting the remaining figures painted. I wanted it done, and put away. And so, just after the New Year in 2004, I put the final coat onto the last outstanding figure, and put away my brushes.

For a while.

It seems that the itch never quite goes away. When I moved to Yeovil, I was involved (briefly) with a gaming group there. And one of their specialities was Warhammer 40,000. Naturally, all my figures were for the fantasy game, so I needed a new army to get involved. I duly bought a number of new figures, got some significant way though assembling them...

Then decided to leave Yeovil, and put them away.

Two years later, I was again briefly inspired to do some painting. This time, I was inclined to purchase a small number of 'adventurer' models to represent a new party. I bought them, cleaned them up, undercoated them... and then never quite got around to putting any paint on them.

Now, as I've mentioned, I don't like leaving things undone. And so, with a part of an army of Warhammer 40,000 Space Orks to paint, and a quintet of adventurers to paint, and two weeks of holiday, I thought to myself that I would do some painting. Why not, indeed?

And so, I dug out the various gear, and set to work cleaning up and assembling some of those Orks. And, in doing so, I found that my existing superglue had dried up (and my plastic glue was long-gone). "No problem," thought I. "I'll just pop round to the shop and get some more."

Fortunately, before I went I thought to check on my various paints. Were they still in useable condition?

Well, no. Turns out that every single pot of paint I own (and have carted the length of the country, twice) has dried out and become useless.

Truthfully, this isn't (or shouldn't be) a surprise - I haven't used them since 2004, after all. But, somehow, it was.

Anyway, I decided that my inspired state wasn't enough to persuade me to spend large amounts of money replacing lots and lots of paint (and glue, and, probably, brushes, and other tools and kit). So, I packed everything up again, threw out the paints, and considered this a sign that the door should remain closed.

Until next time, that is. After all, Reaper miniatures are about to release a new dragon 'miniature' that looks really nice...

#27: "Star Wars: Threats of the Galaxy", by Rodney Thompson and Robert J. Schwalb
#28: "Rebecca", by Daphne de Maurier (book six from The List)

Monday, April 05, 2010

Vote #2!

As you have probably realised, I am rather cynical, especially when it comes to politics. I've reached the point where I just despair at our choices.

In next month's election, we realistically have a choice of two parties: the Labour party or the Conservative party. There are a whole bunch of others, but none of these will get a look in. (There is a third realistic alternative, actually - we could have a hung parliament, in which case we'll get several years of a government that is paralysed and unable to act. Yay!)

Of course, I now consider that the Labour party have been progressively ruining the country for years, and intend to essentially carry on with more of the same should they win. The Tories, on the other hand, seem to stand for winning the election. And then? Well, who knows. Their main selling point would appear to be that they're "not Labour", but what they most definately are is the spiritual successors to the Thatcher and Blair governments that were so toxic.

Frankly, it's a shame they can't both lose.

Anyway, given that choice, I'm left looking for the best political good that could come out of my use of my vote, and I think I've found it.

One of the other things we know is that large numbers of our politicians (of all stripes) are corrupt. Large numbers of our politicians (of all stripes) are incompetent. And there are surely a bunch more who are only neither corrupt nor incompetent only because they haven't yet had a chance.

It strikes me that we should perhaps just vote out as many of the incumbents as possible, and get as close to a clean sweep as we can. And so, I think my voting intention this time, and the advice that I would give anyone who asks, is this: find out which party came second in your constituency last time, and vote for that party this time, because that's where there's the best chance of changing the representative.

Unfortunately, for me this would mean voting SNP (when I am strongly anti-independence). Also, since I live in a Labour seat and any loss aids the Tories, this also means I'd be effectively voting for David Cameron, which I really don't want to do.

Why can't they just all lose?

A New Series Needed

Hmm, I don't seem to have updated here very much at all this year. A large part of this is due to being absurdly busy, but another part is a lack of anything much to talk about. Although, there are a few things about to kick off...

Anyway, one of the things that really helped me last year was my "Experimental Cookery" series, which gave me something to write about every week, even if there was nothing pressing. Since that has come to its end, there has been almost nothing.

So, I guess I need a new series, something to give me a topic for those times when I have nothing to write about. Any ideas?

#24: "Pathfinder: Classic Horrors Revisited", by James Jacobs, Rob McCreary and F. Wesley Schneider
#25: "Yes Man", by Danny Wallace (Very funny, if rather long-winded. Also, very different from the film.)
#26: "Pathfinder: Stolen Land", by Tim Hitchcock