02 September 2011

A Bit of This and a Bit of That. . .

Neither a grenadier, nor a hussar, nor a cuirassier he, but one of the many illustrations on male style done by Laurence Fellows, during the 1930s-50s, for the defunct trade magazine Apparel Arts and the more widely recognized Esquire Magazine, the latter of which is now very different from what it was when my father had a subscription 40+ years ago.  Esquire has become an awfully trendy rag in more recent years, catering more to the urban male hipster subset -- that seems more interested in cultivating a well-groomed five-o'clock shadow over trousers that are too short. . .  oh, and reading about the ten kinky things your girlfriend wants most in the bedroom, but won't ask for -- than used to be the case many years ago when hard journalism still mattered and people actually read and discussed articles by writers like Gay Talese.

It's been an interesting week here at Stollen Central.  Spurred into action by a few wargaming friends, I've managed to sit myself back in the painting chair and work for a couple of nights on four of the offending Minden Hussars.  And I'm happy to report that some limited painting progress has been made.  A photo update or two to follow Saturday evening (tomorrow) after I've had the chance for another couple of sessions with the brush.  Sadly, some of my bottles of GW paints are reaching the end of their usefulness, though, and must be replaced at some point in the near future.

And while we're talking paints, I have not been entirely pleased with the way my Winsor-Newton Alkyd oils have worked this time around.  Sure, the browns work fine when thinned way down and washed over horses (see last winter's posts on my Holger Eriksson dragoons).  And the metallic colors do work nicely for small metal details.  But when it comes to washes of, say, blue, red over a white undercoat, well, I've been less than thrilled.  Now, maybe that is due to my use of an acrylic white paint for the undercoat, which doesn't always seem to work well with oil-based washes.  Maybe a solvent-based white by Humbrol, Testor's, et al would alleviate that particular glitch?

I don't mind experimenting, of course, to find what works best for a given application, but when disappointing results require doing a particular task over again -- sometimes several times -- to get it right, it's more than a little discouraging.  That kind of thing hardly mattered years ago when I painted individual D&D figures.  However, when one aims to paint units of, say, 24- 48+ figures to completion in a fairly short span of time, well, you see my point.  And I've only been noodling around with these darn hussars since February this year.

Otherwise, we have completed the first two weeks of the new semester -- I'm lucky to have a nice batch of students so far -- and now have the three-day Labor Day Weekend, the unoffical end of summer for most of us here in the United States,  to which we can look forward.  Nothing on the calendar for our family this weekend (mercifully), maybe a little work in the yard if the beastly heat lets up, grilling dinner in the backyard once or twice, and maybe a game, or two of Scrabble with the Grand Duchess.  Since I rarely win these battles of wits, I must be a true glutton for punishment.  But as my mother, who is a really accomplished player, always points out, it's the combined score that counts.  Apparently, a combined score of 500 for two players is rather good.  It's a nice theory, and we come awfully close to, or exceed that score on occasion, but it would be nice to win a little more often than is the usually the case.

What else?  Ah, yes.  Time marches on, and I discovered yet another new gray hair, right where my hair parts, in the mirror this morning as I dressed for school.  The fourth in about two months.  Well, 45 approaches, so I suppose I've been lucky thus far.  Bring it on as the saying goes.  I'll embrace the salt & pepper look happily and not try to disguise it with any of the numerous products for men on the market, none of which ever look convincing.  I'd even be so bold as to suggest that you can usually spot guys who use these products from fifty feet away.  Apologies in advance, but it doesn't fool anyone.

And then, in a double whammy, the Grand Duchess observed that the combination of my necktie and silk handkerchief in my jacket pocket did not quite work this morning.  Ouch!  I quickly explained that the two did not need to be an exact match as long as the handkerchief picked up one of the colors in the tie, but her expression indicated that she wasn't convinced.  Then, I replied that she ought to be more appreciative of the fact that I enjoy dressing up.  I could, after all, take off for work looking like one of the professors in her department, who routinely turns up in dirty khakis and white t-shirts (no kidding).  Beating a hasty retreat, I added that she just didn't know what was good with regards to men's clothing and style.  No dice.  She didn't buy any of it.

Sigh.  I think I'm glad we have a long weekend coming up.  Now, where's my tumbler of single malt Scotch?  I need to lie down for a while.

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