Sunday, 25 January 2015

Warmachine: Captain Victoria Haley

Finally getting back in the saddle, metaphorically speaking, when it comes to painting. I'm using Ammobunker's OMAM challenge (One Mini A Month) as a lovely way to start those good habits again, and happily completed my first proper figure in nearly four years - Captain Victoria Haley from Warmachine.

I've had this figure primed and in storage for about ten years, so thought it would be a nice choice to start with. You can see how it should actually be painted here on the Privateer Press site.

It's evident I have a lot of relearning to do and tried quite a few different approaches on this figure, but as a starting point I'm reasonably happy. The lady's a Warcaster and that means magic and voodo, so I tried to make the blue cloth have a slightly glowing quality to it by highlighting up with green but it didn't work out quite as planned.

Also my highlighting needs practice ... a lot of practice. Metallics almost worked, but I think playing with bright, shiny, dull, worn and verdigris on a single figure was pushing my luck.

Discovered the Vallejo pigments last weekend, so excuse the enthusiastic coating of Natural Umber on the base. But my word - that pigment is amazing, and I need to learn how to use it properly.

Figure mounted on a GW base (complete with Marine helmet) as I don't play Warmachine so it doesn't make me twitchy crossing the gaming streams.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Music To Run By

Music and exercise go hand-in-hand, it's a perfect pairing.

You get time to yourself to physically improve and a sustained period of time where you can listen to wonderful music. For me, it's always made sense to have high tempo music power the workout,  as there's a pleasure in trying to pace match through your session.

That doesn't necessary mean you throw on 200bpm hardcore EDM as workout music, because there's a natural ebb and flow to a workout - including rest periods - but it's great to feel the music is dragging you along when sometimes the body isn't willing.

With this in mind, it was surprising to see what constitutes an "expert" soundtrack via research from Spotify*, in this article ... Ed Sheeran.


Talented fellow but he's not instilling that drive in my workout.

If I never have to listen to a tune by Ariana Grande again I'll be a happy man. This isn't something to work out to, it's something that plays in a club while watching teens look awkwardly across the room at each other while everything vibrates to the overwork bassline.

What am I listening to? Metal. Angry at society, angry at their family, angry at being angry. The kind that makes you run for two reasons.
  • It's high tempo, but isn't one-paced. There needs to be variation in pace to allow for interval change.
  • Pretend the band is running behind you, and if they catch you - they'll eat you.
The current playlist features:
  • Apocalyptica - I'm Not Jesus
  • Soil - Halo
  • Rammstein - Feuer Frei
  • Soilwork - Parasite Blues
  • Slipknot - Psychosocial
  • Stone Sour - Absolute Zero
  • Testament - Rise Up
  • Staind - For You
  • Mastodon - Colony Of Birchmen
So enjoy your exercise, but enjoy music responsibly. Playing the pop top 40 shouldn't be the end of your adventures.

* As an aside. Full marks to the splendidly named Wankelmut who appears near the bottom of one of he playlists. Long as it's not slang for giving a dog a handjob, I wish him all the best.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Painting Little Metal Men

Outside of being a professional curmudgeon, one of my goals for 2015 is to get back into my miniature figure painting.

The timing is good fortune rather than a resolution - so let's ignore the nonsense of assuming good plans need to wait until the 1st January to be followed.

A combination of getting used to the rigours of parenthood with children, work pressures easing and a desire to re-establish a hobby with a tangible output have been the driving factors here. While I love computer gaming and reading, there's a satisfaction to be had from seeing the result of work from your own hands.

Painting sits comfortably inside my sphere of nerdery. It's an on/off hobby of mine for the last 25 years in conjunction with wargaming ... and I'm not totally shit at it - see exhibits A & B.

In addition, painting is a hobby I can enjoy with my kids as a shared pleasure. There's a lot to re-learn, and I won't be any jostling for position among the top tier painters any time soon, but that's just fine.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Tweaking, adjusting, refining

Minor adjustments to my blog. In other news, I have a blog! How exciting.

I will be publishing posts on Google+ for all 12 users, and adding labels to posts to break up the content. Turns out I'm not 100% angry, so there will be general cruft and some content on miniature painting and lifehacking.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Being better and better informed

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

2015 is formally my year of battling accidental ignorance in my social circle. Ill-informed shares on Facebook, retweeted myths on Twitter ... and probably nothing on Google+. By and large, my social circle is exactly that - a group of people I enjoy spending time with - so this isn't simply turning into an Internet Warrior and righting wrongs and injustice wherever they may be.

I find myself tired of people linking "share within 10 minutes of receiving and your wishes will come true!" with the tag of "well it can't hurt to share". Unless your dream was someone getting annoyed when you post rubbish.

There's a limit to being passive and mine is at this point, when my friends click without thinking. They're smart, wonderful people and it leaves me scratching my head when these things are passed on as fact without even a cursory check.

An excellent, recent example is the circulation of a picture of MPs in the House of Commons debating disability (attendance: 10 people), then a picture of MPs voting on their own pay rise (attendance: all of them). It's a great crowd pleaser and frankly they're easy targets which makes it so believable, but I'd recommend reading a great piece in the Spectator by Isabel Hardman debunking it.

It it this ignorance I choose to address. Reading a little on each topic to see whether it's valid, accurate or flat out wrong doesn't take a lot of time. At worst*, this makes me a better informed person after five minutes - at best it helps to correct a misconception. Hopefully in a fashion that isn't simply a grumpy old man taking umbrage at Things On The Internet.

This doesn't necessarily qualify me as a good man by Burke's excellent definition, but I am keen to respectfully address thingsthat are clearly wrong - and dispel the myths and silence that allows these knowledge cancers to grow.

* The true worst outcome is that I'm actually an enormous bellend with jumped-up, inflated sense of worth and purpose. But hey, we'll skip that one for the moment ...