Thank you to Mosstrooper for nominating the Grand Duchy of Stollen blog for a Stylish Blogger Award. Naturally, I'll accept on behalf of the Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II since he and his manservant Hives are away at Aunt Ermgard's country home for a long weekend of hunting, dining, and dancing -- in honor of Great Britain's recently married Duke and Duchess of Cambridge -- plus avoiding connubial entanglements of any kind. Now, I believe there are a few things to see to for old IA the Deuce in absentia:
1) Provide links back to Mosstrooper's own blogs Tinsoldiering On and The Steadfast Tin Soldier, the second of which is brand new but looks very promising given it's stated 30mm Old School focus. My cup of tea and all that! Just click on the previous highlighted links to be transported magically to these two blogs via the magic of the Internet.
2) Share seven things about myself. Oh, no! This could get embarrassing, especially if mention of that 23rd birthday party blow-out back in November of '89 ever gets out. . . So, let's just stick to the following:
* I really enjoy lively, interesting, and amusing conversation and have, in my quest for it, studied something like nine foreign languages seriously (classroom instruction) during the last quarter century. My best languages are Norwegian (near native fluency) along with Danish and Swedish (reading knowledge and some conversational ability if they speak slowly enough). Now you might ask, why even bother learning a language that allows you to communicate with "only" about 4.5 million people? Well, the three languages are similar in grammar and vocabulary. When you study one, you acquire working knowledge of the other two fairly easily. A real linguistic bargain that enables you to manage quite well across Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and the Swedish-speaking parts of Finland. That's something like 17 million people, give or take, which ain't bad. And you never know where else Norwegian might come in handy. I've bumped into speakers of it (or Danish, or Swedish) in the most unexpected places. . . parties, gas stations, rest areas along the highway, restaurants, taxi cabs, etc, in several countries outside Scandinavia. If we ever make it to Australia and Asia, I'll bet we trip over a few Nordic types on walk-about before long.
* I am a modern dandy and have a closet full of wool suits, sport jackets, dress trousers, neckties, and several pairs of leather dress shoes with matching belts. I'm particularly fond of multi-colored Italian silk pocket handkerchiefs too. What can I say? I like to look good.
* Someday, I'd like for our small family to set up residence in Hamburg, Germany, at least for a time. It's a beautiful, historic place with a vibrant arts and music scene. We like the North German climate, the people, and the local dialect is fun too. In addition, my German-Swedish-American wife lived there for a while in the early 90s, and she has always looked for an excuse to go back one day. We spent a magical day in the city while in route from Bremen to Luebeck a couple of years ago. The Grand Duchess was, needless to say, surprised and pleased when I floated my crazy idea to her a few weeks ago.
* I do 200 push-ups (press-ups) a day, five-six days a week to keep this now middle-aged body -- When in the heck did that happen??!! -- firm and in fighting shape. Seems to be working pretty well when combined with watching what I eat very carefully. Sadly, the push-ups have done nothing to prevent the single gray hair that I discovered recently on the ol' noggin. Ah, well. Here's to aging gracefully and with a tiny bit of dignity.
* My first literary translation was published by Dalkey Archive Press in January 2010 -- Siamese by Norwegian author Stig Saetterbakken. A typical Scandinavian novel. . . which is to say depressing and bleak.
* Don't laugh, but I'd love to learn to play the highland bagpipes one day. There's nothing like a massed pipe band launching into Amazing Grace or Scotland the Brave. My eyes get misty every time! I'll spare you the kilt however. . . unless there is a tartan for the Roberts clan, which was my maternal grandmother's family.
* I hope to bicycle across the north of mainland Europe with my wife, from Amsterdam to Tallin, before decrepitude sets in. We may have to do this in stages over two-three summers though.
3) Nominate other bloggers for the Stylish Blogger Award. . . Ok, this is a toughie as there are lots of nicely presented, interesting blogs out there, but if I had to narrow it to just four, they would be:
The Duchy of Alzheim -- This is the blog that started it all for me back in late 2005 when I stumbled onto it via the Yahoo Old School Wargaming group. Greg Horne's 18th Century focus, scads of well-painted RSM95 figures organized into BIG units, and his dry, witty writing struck a chord in my wargaming soul, which was seeking something new and different at the time after 20+ years of 15mm Waterloo-era Napoleonics.
The 18th Century Blog -- Not a wargaming blog at all, but one about 18th Century fashion and culture. Terribly interesting stuff along with many cool photographs of period clothing reproductions designed, sewn, and modeled by Johanna Oest, the young Swedish lady behind this English language blog. Definitely worth checking out.
Flanderkin Serjeant -- Back to model soldiers! This blog features John Preece's wry, sometimes acerbic take on wargaming, wargamers, painting, and occasionally the conversion of figures. That and the painting style John uses on various older figure lines -- by Holger Eriksson, Tradition, Les Higgins, and Suren -- is always a visual joy to behold. And speaking of joy. . .
Joy and Forgetfulness -- Another lively, humorous blog by writer Conrad Kinch that presents his reflections on wargaming, municipal police work, and life in general. . . plus the trials and tribulations of fixing up a recently purchased house with his spouse Mrs. Kinch. This blog always brings a smile to my face when I drop by for a visit.
4) Contact the bloggers mentioned above and inform them of the award. . . Well, Greg, Johanna, John, and Conrad, watch for a brief note from yours truly!