Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Crikey, it's January!

Possibly it's age or that my natural obliviousness is on overdrive (because of age), but the passing of time seems to take me more and more by surprise. Here we are in 2018. It seems like yesterday that it was the turn of the millennium as we wiped our brows in relief that the world didn't end with Y2K. Not that THE END OF THE WORLD isn't still a recurring theme in daily life these days. As things change, they mostly stay the same.

In any case, it's time to reflect on the year past and look forward to the one coming.


I got a lot of painting done last year (for me, anyway, maybe not a lot by others' standards). Not unexpectedly, it mostly wasn't the painting I'd planned. I don't really know why I bother to plan anything. My attention span is getting shorter. I'm too easily amused and beguiled by new projects.  I... oh! What's that?

Here's the short list of accomplishments and failures, realized and unrealized:

The Irish Project: The Irish Project spawned itself in my mind in January, not long after I completed last year's January blog post. It wasn't even a twinkle in my eye on January 1, 2017. Now it's a huge part of my past, present, and (we'll see) future output. I managed to get 60 Irish figures completed and 36 English. I have many more in progress (i.e., cleaned, assembled—if necessary, primed, and some painting done). I need to get going because it's one of my Enfilade! projects for May. I'm looking at maybe another 100 figures in 4 months. Wish me luck.

Dragon Rampant centaurs: Another unexpected project was my first ever fantasy gaming army. I caught the Dragon Rampant bug and completed a warband of 31 figures in December. We have a game day coming up on January 13, so I'm primed and ready. I also started a Chariots Rampant Egyptian retinue, but that will be on hold until after Enfilade!

Lion Rampant: I've resumed paining my El Cid Spanish Lion Rampant retinue. We have a Lion Rampant tournament coming up in March. I plan to have 24 points done by then. I have a lot more than 24 points worth of minis and just recently bought some crossbowmen (because I like how well they shoot and must have them!). I'm really still mulling over the composition of the retinue. When I decide on the composition, I can set up what I need to paint and get at it. This project will be taking time away from painting Irish/English 16th c. minis.

ECW: I planned to paint a lot of English Civil War for The Pikeman's Lament in 2017. I did paint some, but not a lot. I managed to get the first of the Scots units completed (6 dragoons and a gun + 6 crew). I also completed 2 guns (1 regimental and 1 BIG field gun) + 6 crew and a forlorn hope (6 figures), but there are still a lot of partially painted units for Royalists and Roundheads—including 18 figures of cavalry.

Mesoamericana: I completed enough of the Spanish conquistadors (and a few Aztecs) to contribute to my Quetzalcoatl Rampant games with Kevin Smyth at Enfilade! 2017. I have lots of Tlaxcalans, Aztecs, and more Spanish in progress, but I expect that project to be dormant for a while. We got a lot of QR gaming in over 2017, so I'm following the will o' the wisp of new projects for now.

Space: I got 10 new minis plus some heavy weapons done for Beyond the Gates of Antares. These are Algoryn hazard armor troops that I couldn't resist when they came out in August. I have another five of them to complete along with some vehicles and more heavy weapons. This project gets hot in spurts when we're looking to play. I always seem to manage completing another unit or two more in time for a game. I expect that to be true for 2018.

Terrain: As Joyce Kilmer observed, only God can make a tree, but I managed a few reasonable facsimiles in 2018. I got serious about completing the trees I started a few years back in order to get some foliage in our Quetzalcoatl Rampant games. I even followed through after Enfilade! getting some more done. I have a respectable little wood by now. They'll come in handy for a lot of games. I also completed some field works and other bits for the tabletop.

Bronze Age: I didn't actually paint any new minis for 40mm Bronze Age Europe in 2017. As I've been fond of noting, I completed ALL of the 40mm minis I bought for this. That's like eating all my veggies and licking the plate clean. I never do that. Now, however, I've acquired more since we played a game in November—and even more are on the way. I expect to have about 50+ more of them to paint this year. Bronze Age skirmish will be one of my Enfilade! games this year. I can run it with the figures I have completed, but I'll focus on getting a few more figures into the mix, like the never-released mounted figures and more of the never-released bowmen. However, this, too, will divert painting effort from The Irish Project.

WW2: Beyond not painting more minis for WW2 (Bolt Action), I actually sold off all my painted minis. Phil's death in January last year really took the mickey out of me for WW2 gaming. Phil was the catalyst for the WW2 gaming we did. With his passing, there didn't seem to be any prospect of gaming it any more.

And the rest: Thirty Years War and 1672 are beyond the back burner at this point. I'm not abandoning them, but I keep taking on other projects (like The Irish Project) that have scooted them farther out of the way. If I don't resume them in 2018, I have 2019 to look forward to.

Resolutions: I really, really would like 2018 to be a year of buying no new minis. I know, heresy. I have enough lead to keep me painting for 2018 and well beyond. I don't need new minis, but I've never let that stop me. I think that constantly buying new stuff is robbing me of getting use out of my old stuff. I always want more, but I often fail to paint the more that I get. Hence a garage full of boxes of orphaned, uncompleted minis crying out for attention. I've managed to sell of some of my unpainted lead (or give it away) just to clear the decks. I expect to do some of that in 2018, but I'm not sure what at this point.

Loss and remembrance

On January 3, 2017, my friend Phil Bardsley died unexpectedly. I blogged about it last year and I don't really have much more to say. Phil was one of my muses. He encouraged me to paint and was always complimentary about my efforts. Gaming with him was always a delight. Like poor Yorick, Phil was a fellow of infinite jest and most excellent fancy. Though time heals all wounds, I expect to grieve his loss for some time to come. The emptiness is still there.

I visited his grave in November. His ashes were interred much earlier, but I didn't know where until Karen met me at the cemetery and showed me the location. He's not far from where his parents are buried. I'm not really a grave visitor, but I've been once more since that day and I expect I'll visit again.

Phil's death got me thinking of my own—not in a morbid sense, but in the sense that I don't want to leave my family wondering what to do with my corpse should I die unexpectedly. I hadn't really given much thought to it before.

Being Catholic, the repose of one's body isn't a small matter. Cremation is now acceptable, but scattering of ashes isn't. I've never liked the idea of being a rotting corpse (sorry, morbid, I know), so cremation has always been my preference. It's nice and clean. But disposition of ashes?

I contacted Holyrood Cemetery in February and bought a niche in the mausoleum there. I'll be just next to where all of Seattle's bishops and archbishops are interred. Come the Resurrection, I hope to be in good company.


It's been more than a year since I lost Grendel, my obstreperous little man. I still miss him keenly, but Bogart has been an excellent companion, though we're still working out his relationship with the girls. Since late in 2016, I've had to keep them separated. It's a kind of time share with Bogart shut in my den and the girls at liberty to roam the house alternating with shutting the girls up in my bedroom and Bogart at liberty.

And when he's at liberty, he's a handful. He's a bit more relaxed these days, but I've often observed from the beginning that he has no Off switch. As soon as he's out of the den, he runs to the living room and braces himself to chase the red dot, which he expects me to produce for him. Most cats see through the red dot after a few episodes. Grendel and the girls lost interest almost immediately. Not Bogey. It's been over a year and he still has high hopes of catching it. That may be determination, but I suspect it's stupidity.

The girls are getting on in years, which may have a lot to do with their reticence in getting along with a young, overactive newcomer. Rhiannon is getting fatter. She was always a bit chubby, but the old eating arrangements are gone. The girls eat together and there's no Grendel to clean their plates when they walk away. (I always had to sit between Grendel and the girls when they ate because otherwise he would try to clean their plates even before they walked away.) Rhiannon performs that function now for Maebh, so she gets a bit more feed in her that her plump little self needs.

So, I need to get Rhiannon on a diet, but I can't really separate the girls when they eat. Maebh is picky and an occasional grazer. She likes kibble more than anything else, but I've started buying the cheaper canned food because the girls prefer that. For years I bought the best, and most expensive, canned food. After Grendel died, they just seemed to be disinterested—especially Maebh—in the food. Now it's goodbye Tiki Cat and Weruva and hello Max Cat and Purina. I guess cat's prefer junk food too.

A farewell to vidiocy(?)

I binge watch TV. I can't help myself. Every year for Lent, I abstain from watching. 40 days of not sitting on the couch eating and watching episode after episode of some TV series.  I think I've gone through all nine seasons of NYPD Blue several times. Same for Justified and Grimm and Longmire and Endevour and Inspector Lewis and Inspector Morse and so on. Abstaining for Lent seems to just whet my appetite. Come Easter and I'm back on the couch with a bowl of Cheetos on my lap and the remote in my hand. I've gotten to the point where I don't even watch when I watch. I sit there with my iPad while the TV is on surfing the Interwebs, reading, or playing solitaire.

It's time to go cold turkey. 2018 may be the year.

My TV is an old Sony Trinitron from the 90s. A friend gave it to me to replace my old Zenith, also from the 90s. It's housed in an old Ethan Allen TV cabinet from the 80s, which I got from my sister. I think I'd really rather have a bookcase there and be rid of the temptation to vege-out in front of the boob tube. I can (and should) do better things with my time: exercise, paint, read, blog.

I'll miss having the opportunity to watch a classic movie when the mood strikes, but the occasion for quality TV is outweighed by the overabundance of TV watching. I don't need it.

I'll probably have the TV and cabinet hauled away during Lent, which isn't far off this year; Ash Wednesday is February 14, Valentine's Day.

I'll miss it, though. But not much. I'll get over it soon enough. If I read more, I may even get smarter before my brain atrophies.

Losing my avoirdupois 

I know, I know. Everybody vows to lose weight at New Years.

10 (or so) years ago, I was trim. I was working out at least 5 days a week and eating goodish. I blame the cats for the change (you knew I would). Really, their torpor is infectious.  When I get home, I really want to just sit still and be their warm-blooded furniture. It's addictive. More so than binge-watching TV—and I can binge-watch and hang with the cats simultaneously.

But now I'm fat. My old clothes don't fit. I'm loth to buy new clothes. I'd go nekkid if (a) I wouldn't get arrested and (b) I wouldn't scare/disgust people. (Some naked is bad naked. My naked hasn't been good naked for a long, long time.)

Diet is crucial. I'm a meat 'n' potatoes kind of guy—especially if the meat comes in a bun and the potatoes come french-fried. I'll have to change that. I won't go gentle into that good night. Trust me.

But I think it's becoming imperative. I don't want to keep growing out and being trimmer and more active will make me healthier and more energetic. I have renewed my 24 Hour Fitness membership...

Politics (O, dear Lord)

So, it's the END OF THE WORLD as we know it (and I really do feel fine).

The hurly-burly of the election year passed into the hurlier-burlier Year 1 of the Age of Trump. We are now enslaved by a fascist regime. All our freedoms have been stripped away. The planet is dying—perhaps the universe. Life is a twilight struggle to survive as we move into the dark night of the republic. No one is safe. The world order is imperiled like never before. The Resistance is our only hope. Resist we must.

Or not.

I wrote presciently in my blog post last year,

"2017 and beyond promises to be an interesting mélange of political hurly-burly, angst, and, yes, schadenfreude—and squalor, lots of squalor. It should be entertaining. I can hardly wait."

Boy, did I hit that nail on the head—especially the part about it being entertaining.

Trump is an odd package. There's just so much about him personally to dislike. He's crude, boorish, opinionated, rude, brash, self-centered—it's like he's from Queens. When I did tech support for Aldus Corp. many years ago, we used to have what we called a "212". That's when someone from the 212 area code would call for support. We all thought the callers were crude, boorish, opinionated, rude, brash, and self-centered. In other words, they were from New York.

Truly, there's no subtlety to the man and he's his own worst enemy. And yet, mirabile dictu, he's managed to get things done. I'm not sure if that's worth the damage he's doing to the dignity of the presidency, but then he hasn't left any presidue on the carpets in the Oval Office (not yet, anyway), so he can't be shredding the presidential dignity any more than it's been, can he?

Still, he's a loose cannon. His political philosophy, despite his being in his 70s, is still inchoate. But even though he's fitfully feeling his way along, when he's not tweet-storming selected citizenry and world leaders, he seems to be slowly loosening the coils of the progressive anaconda that's been squeezing the life out of the republic. It may only be a brief respite, but America is breathing again. America is working again. America has hope again. I take that as a win that could never have been realized by a Hillary presidency.

The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!

Of course the main political hurly-burly of 2017 was the probe into Russian meddling with the 2016 election. Russia apparently spent $100K on Facebook ads, which completely offset the $1.2 billion (that's $1,200,000,000.00) spent by the Hillary campaign. I suppose that if Hillary had spent that $1.2b on Facebook ads, she'd be queen of the universe now, never mind POTUS. Future political campaigns take note.

But seriously—though it's hard to take seriously—after a year of hard sleuthing, the Russia Probe hasn't actually uncovered any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Two Trumpkins have been indicted. One for tax issues from a decade ago and another for the very elastic (and selectively applied) crime of "misleading federal investigators." (Hillary has made a career of misleading federal investigators—Whitewater, Travelgate, Benghazi, Servergate—and is in no danger of being called to account for it. Ever.)

That's not to say that there was no collusion with Russia in the 2016 election. The infamous, and unvetted, Steele Dossier, which the Hillary campaign paid to have created and which looks to be the basis for the FISA warrants targeting Trump campaign associates, was sourced from two Russian contacts. According to Steele himself, one was "a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure" and the other "a former top level intelligence officer still active in the Kremlin." To use an ex-MI6 operative to dig up dirt on a political opponent using sources in the Kremlin and then hand off that political opposition research to the FBI to use as criminal evidence in case the election doesn't go your way sounds like a lot of colluding to me—if not outright conspiracy. But Mueller looks the other way and trudges on following ever more tenuous clues that must lead to proof that The Orange One is Putin's Manchurian candidate...

I weep for my country, but still ya gotta laugh. I told you 2017 would be entertaining.

What happened

The schadenfreudiest moments of the year came from reading about Hillary's tour of her new book It Was Aliens! er.. What Happened. In several interviews, herself says quite candidly, and with no sense of irony at all, that she is entirely blameless for her election loss in 2016. Entirely. It was others. Like those Russians. And that Comey guy. And Obama. And the DNC. And Bernie. And...

No, I don't think her political coffin has been fully nailed shut. Even Democrat stalwarts are telling her to give up and go home, take up knitting, etc. But she won't. In her mind, she's going to be vindicated. She'll retake the throne in 2020—or perhaps even now the election will be overturned when Americans learn how much The Donald is Putin's puppet. Then they'll come crawling to her, tears in their eyes, filled with remorse for having rejected her. They'll offer her the crown and she'll take it. Then she'll make her enemies pay. She's Cersei Lannister, Lady MacBeth, and Bloody Mary Tudor all rolled into one. Like Talleyrand said of the restored Bourbons, Hillary has "learned nothing and forgotten nothing." A part of me trembles when I think that it's not impossible that she could still be president.

When I reflect back on 2016 and farther back through Hillary's life and career, I can only thank God that we dodged that bullet. Let's hope it doesn't come around again like a wild torpedo and sink us. (I know, I've mixed my metaphors. Deal with it.)

Bismarck famously said that "God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America." What happened? Providence.

Théâtre de l'absurde 

Maybe one of the fruits of a Trump presidency is that we will all be blessed with a bipartisan awareness of the absurdity of our politics. I've always been a skeptic when it comes to secular saviors. In America, we breed a kind of political messianism that makes us project our hopes onto politicians and then imbue them with all the virtues we hold dear because they are the standard-bearers of our dreams.

In reality, politicians are some of the lowest forms of life.

We were treated in 2016 to an unprecedented choice of worse or worser. Which was worse and which was worser depended entirely on your political/partisan views. It's vomit-inducing to imagine that anyone could think of The Donald as a great leader in the mold of Washington and Lincoln. He lacks the character, principles, vision, natural skin tone, etc. But it's no less vomitous to imagine Hillary the same way—perhaps more so. Paranoid, disingenuous, scheming, ambitious, disdainful, supercilious, utterly banal, thoroughly corrupt, and completely incompetent. She represents the worst of the political class and yet enjoys the esteem of millions.

We've elevated the holder of an office that was meant to be a sort of primus inter pares into a god-emperor, and so god-emperor wannabes seek it eagerly. And like the emperor in Hans Christian Andersen's story, no one—at least no one on their side of the political divide—dares to say that the god-emperor (or g-e wannabe) is naked (and not the good naked, either).

Maybe, just maybe, the absurdity of Donald Trump will give us all pause and make us reflect on what a democratic republic like ours requires of us. Maybe we will side with what Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature" and soberly undertake the responsibilities inherent in being part of a grand experiment in human government "of the people, by the people, for the people" lest it indeed "perish from the earth."

My money, however—for 2018 and beyond—is on ever-increasing hyper-partisanship with Jacobins and reactionaries going at each other hammer and tongs until they wreck the nation and "meanly lose the last best hope of earth."

Happy New Year!


  1. Blimey... you need to buy another cat.... :o))

    Happy New Year...

  2. Happy New Year, David.
    It's been very interesting to read your post.
    Concerning your opinion "We were treated in 2016 to an unprecedented choice of worse or worser", actually, from the other side of the Atlantic, that's exactly how it looked.
    I wish you and your cats the best!

  3. It's nice to have the "Rampant" set of rules for new/not-so-new projects. The total figure count being relatively low, new retinues/warbands are actually fun to create/update. Yes, sadly, NHMGS lost a couple of folks last year - far too young too! For the record, I cancelled my Comcast TV in October; kept the internet and land line - and also paid the extra $50 monthly for unlimited data. With a $100 HDTV antennae I catch all the local channels for "free" - mostly for news - (plus some foreign stuff like Nippon TV). I spend most of the internet time on YouTube watching stuff like "10 Most Terrifying Poodle Petting Encounters" and such, until I drift off to sleep from cheap wine anyway. :) See you next Saturday at the Dragon Rampant game day!

  4. David, one of the most entertaining New Years' posts, I've read!
    Loved it all!

    Happy New Year!