Sunday, 31 March 2013

Boardgaming

To the White Swan for to take part in International Tabletop Gaming Day +1 as it isn't known. A healthy turnout for a couple of games of Resistance plus one of Ice Flow. I left them playing Citadels to return home to celebrate my birthday in the most suitable fashion: alone.
He cares even if no-one else does
 I did get to watch Waterloo on the tele though. What a top film. Admittedly I can't help expecting the Duke of Wellington to whip out a guitar and sing a song about alpine flowers, but that's probably just me.
"Yes, I realise it's singing, but who?"



Saturday, 30 March 2013

International Tabletop Gaming Day

In honour of this event it seems to me that most appropriate actions that I could take are to neither game nor write about it. So be it.
Today's re-enactors are some sort of medieval entertainers. There is a stilt-walker (which always impresses me) as well as a jester in a costume that makes him look like he is buggering a monk. I've no idea whether that is deliberate or not.

Last night I went to an evening with James Fearnley, best known perhaps as being the accordionist with The Pogues. I went because I was keen to learn about what was life was like with the band's charismatic and famously out-of-it front man and also how they came to record 'Fairytale of New York'. I wasn't disappointed on either count. I was however somewhat surprised to find that other members of the audience appeared to have gone along so that they could tell the speaker what life was like on the road - sex, drugs, rock'n'roll etc - apparently oblivious to the fact that he'd done it and they hadn't. Add to that one chap who seemed to have led a similar lifestyle to Shane MacGowan and with the same consequences, but who put it down at great length to the fact that he was a chef, and I got a bit irritated.
Beard, but no teeth

Friday, 29 March 2013

Dubienkin

So farewell then, Richard Griffiths. It's impossible to believe that you were only 65, given that you had looked exactly the same for at least forty years.


As usual the media have ignored your best role: that of the phoenix-like Soviet Premier Dubienkin.

This, together with US stealth bombers being deployed in Korea, rather reminds me of my run-in with the Pentagon over the weapon system that might have shortened a major regional war. However, obviously I can't actually tell you about it. So - moving on...

Today, we should all wear our mushroom with pride.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Sophocles' Antigone

I have been to a talk on twentieth and twenty-first century attitudes to Antigone; as one does. In the questions afterwards I asked if I was the only one to see a parallel between the characters of Antigone and Thomas More with Henry VIII cast in the role of Creon. Judging from the derisive looks I received, I am indeed the only one. If you ever see a version of the play set in Tudor England then the kudos is mine.

The wise words of a chap with a beard
No beard soon equals no head
I've never had much time for Thomas Moore. Despite being one the cleverest men in Europe he wrote rubbish about Richard III and got himself executed. Way to go, Tom.

King Creon and his Coconuts

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Newcastle-upon-Tyne

I've just been there. It was perishing cold. That's it really.
I've also been to the 138th Annual General Meeting of the Leeds Building Society. I was surprised by how many people turned up; or at least I was until the rush for the free sandwiches began even before the chair had declared the meeting over. One thing that didn't surprise me was how inarticulate most speakers from the floor were even when they had a good point to make. Nor, I suppose, was I entirely shocked by how the concept of mutuality doesn't actually mean that members are allowed to run things.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Number Ninja

I've been to see Matt Parker, the stand-up mathematician, who was appearing as part of the University of Leeds Festival of Science. It was very entertaining although I won't pretend that I learned a lot. It always staggers me just how thoroughly useless most people are at understanding basic probability theory.
I'm only wearing this because my Ninja outfit is in the wash
I had forgotten about Graham's number, but as it's unimaginably large anyway I'm not sure what benefit it is now that I've been reminded. Still it's interesting to note that the lower bound of the range whose upper limit is Graham's number has moved from 6 to 13 since I first heard about it all those years ago; in two stages as well. Ramsey theory of course does have applications in wargaming, but then again I'm sure you knew that already.
The traditional chap with a beard
Saving the best, and most wargaming relevant, for last: non transitive Grime dice. I'd never heard of these before, but are they neat or what?
Now, I've no idea how one would use them, but I think I shall buy a couple of sets and see what can be done.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The Angel's Share

I belatedly caught up with 'The Angel's Share', which I enjoyed, at the Seven Arts in Chapel Allerton, which I liked.


The film is light, but charming and deals with the scope for redemption in all of us more convincingly than it does with the whisky industry or with the realities of carrying out a fraud/theft (haven't money-laundering laws reached Scotland yet?). The actors are good, although I at least was grateful for at least a couple of them not being from Glasgow; there were some stretches of impenetrable dialogue. And Roger Allam seemed to have wandered in straight from the set of Tamara Drewe. But it's funny - and what more does one want on a cold Monday night?

Monday, 18 March 2013

The Resistance

Played a few games of The Resistance at the White Swan yesterday and I was rather taken with it. As it happened I was never a spy so I can't say how it played from that perspective. We also played a game of Guillotine and one of Cosmic Encounter, both of which I won. The negotiation option of the latter seems rather weak to me. I just refused to ever agree to anything and took the loss of ships on the chin. You get them back sooner or later anyway.
She looks like a spy to me
St Patrick's day only intruded on the pub in a minor way although there was some interesting young person romantic interaction going on when I arrived. We didn't used to do it that way in my day I can tell you.

Speaking of young people, yesterday's re-enactors turned out not to be re-enactors at all. As far as I could establish they were Steampunkers there to admire and be admired amongst themselves rather than to interact with the general public. The costumes looked rather splendid close up and they seemed to be having a good time, but as usual one is left wondering what the point is.
A chap with a beard

Sunday, 17 March 2013

What the Dickens?

And so to the theatre. I saw a sort of Dickensian spoof although the main character was the man himself, during his days as a parliamentary correspondent. It was a very funny combination of wordplay and physical comedy and featured such typical nineteenth century tropes as a one-armed man playing the guitar and an erotic, Scottish, Bollywood dancing pigeon-food seller.
A chap with a beard
I have great hopes that today's re-enactors will loosely continue the theme. The only one that I've seen so far looks, from this distance anyway, like Marie Lloyd. I suppose that as she's all alone it's possible that she's lost her way and don't know where to roam.
The Queen of the Music Hall
I shall pop down later to make sure that there is no dillying or dallying going on.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Battlegames

I listened recently to the edition of the Meeples and Miniatures podcast in which Henry Hyde explained from his perspective the recent night of the long knives at Atlantic Publishing. One of the things that I was especially pleased to hear was his assurance that subscriptions - including for those like me who subscribe to both titles - would be dealt with properly. They hadn't yet quite worked out what to do, but the best team available were on the case.
Henry Hyde and the Battlegames editorial staff

Being an accountant, I have of course been reassured on points like that many times over the years. I wasn't in the least surprised therefore to receive two things in yesterday's post. Firstly, the last ever edition of Battlegames and, secondly, a letter from the publishers of the same advising me that I had only two issues left on my subscription and inviting me to renew. The future is safe in their hands.

Friday, 15 March 2013

The People's Front of Judea

Maybe readers will wonder about my views on the implosion of the SWP; or then again. possibly they won't. I will keep it brief. In my view these are the chickens of the First International coming home to roost.
A chap with a beard
 I once went to the Casa del Trotsky in Mexico City. Whilst I don't recall seeing any sign of chickens I did have my picture taken next to the great man's rabbit hutches. The house is just around the corner from Frida Kahlo's so we went there as well.
A woman who could probably have grown a beard had she felt like it

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Same-same, but different...

...as they say in Thailand.


It seems to me that one sure way of identifying a good set of wargames rules is if you can refight the same battle and end up with a radically different game. On that basis 'Hell Broke Loose' rules for the Italian Wars are, like all Piquet and Piquet derived rules that I've ever played, excellent. I'm not suffering the same degree of Cerignola fatigue that James and Peter obviously are so I thoroughly enjoyed another futile French assault last night. It wouldn't be fair to describe the scenario as balanced - which is always the problem with refighting historical battles - but for both sides there it always looks as if that huge Swiss pike block will inevitably sweep all before it; and then it never does.

James had made a number of adverse changes to the French deck; entirely coincidentally now that he was playing the Spanish. He had also put the French skirmishers into deep formation. I thought this an improvement as they could now shoot far more often. I was in a minority of one though because the majority (and expert) view was that this was over-ruled by that they now couldn't actually shoot very well.

Anyway, as I said I rather enjoyed the first part of the game and look forward to its conclusion; however forgone that might be.


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Luck

I won a bottle of wine in a raffle last night, thereby using up this entire year's supply of luck in one go. So watch out the Spanish forces in another refight of Cerignola tonight. More specifically, look out their commanders because you are surely doomed.
He knows exactly how it is

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Figure painting

There is an interesting opinion piece in the latest edition of Wargames Soldiers & Strategy about figure painting. The thrust of it is that current standards of painting are actually directed at the requirements of photography rather than of actually gaming. The view that I've always taken is that good enough is, well, good enough. My experience at the games hosted by James Roach shows that is perfectly possible to game very successfully with fantastically painted figures. However, I have substantial experience that gaming with far less well painted figures can be equally good. Some of my fondest gaming memories are of the Mexican Revolution being refought, after a fashion with khaki all-over Airfix WWI standing in for the Federales. I can't for the life of me remember who represented the forces of Pancho Villa; I suspect that it was Airfix Confederates and/or Cowboys, again with one coat of Humbrol.

Happy Days.

Inspiration

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Mystery

It is so unclear what the latest re-enactors at the Royal Armouries are meant to be that I have decided not to go and find out in case it's too big a disappointment. They look like they are supposed to be playing for the Wanderers against the Royal Engineers in the 1872 FA cup final, or possibly they are extras from Chariots of Fire. Having said that, one of them is wearing a sort of medieval quilted jacket and another is carrying something that looks like an oar but is only about five feet long.

On the cultural front, I have found some room for a bit of middlebrow entertainment and have been to see Ayckbourn's Sugar Daddies. The narrative line was unconvincing and didn't go anywhere, but with Ayckbourn one is guaranteed at least a dozen or so big laughs and so it proved.

And finally in this mixed bag of postings I offer a belated and perhaps oblique farewell to Hugo Chavez.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

"Situation excellent. I shall attack."

Ferdinand Foch was spiritually with the French forces in the second part of the battle of Cerignola last night as they secured a massive moral victory.
According to Google this is Marechal Foch
Our left flank was solid: heavy cavalry, light cavalry, skirmish cavalry, artillery, skirmish infantry and, in particular, a unit of French pike that led personally by the Duc de Nemours had pushed back a Spanish corunella from the barricades. Admittedly our centre and right wing only had one unit of cavalry each - and both of those pretty beat up. And we didn't have any morale chips left. And we'd failed to carry the earthworks within the allotted time despite having virtually a whole extra run through the cards. These are mere details. I don't think anyone would seriously argue that the honour and glory of the day did not belong to us.
The French commanders perform their traditional victory dance

Sunday, 3 March 2013

More board games

Back to the White Swan for some more board games. Another game of Family Business and then a turn at The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game. I'm not sure about the latter, but had to leave anyway  to prepare for a trip to London tomorrow. I am developing a taste for Leeds Pale Ale though.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Cow riding a motorbike

One of my imaginary readers has asked me why I never include any photographs of farmyard animals in amusing situations. That's a fair question and in an attempt to make amends I offer you this:
I'm sure that I don't need to point out that you shouldn't do this at home. If you must then wear a crash helmet. And the same goes for the bloke on the back.

Friday, 1 March 2013

'A surfeit of deadly sin...'

Today's cultural entertainment was Dr Faustus, mostly by Christopher Marlowe although with two new acts - not thankfully in faux archaic blank verse - replacing two of the original. It was a very busy production, possibly verging on the confusing. However much of the business was very good, with the special effects and illusions being a highlight. The cast were excellent with a special mention for Siobhan Redmond strutting her stuff in a basque as Mephistopheles.

"I don't remember putting Elvis in it"
 Intellectually, I have to hold my hands up and admit that I have no idea what they were driving at. Sin is bad, perhaps? There were some nice digs at bankers and Australian media magnates, but possibly they were unnecessarily cruel to poor old Amy Winehouse. The staging of the exposition of the seven deadly sins reminded me of Jerry Springer: The Opera, which is no bad thing. The Pope spoke with what I believe was a German accent. Was that meant to be Benedict XVI in some sort of comment on the various scandals? Or was it simply that Faust was himself German? Redmond seemed to affect some sort of Mittel European accent, but she is from Glasgow so one should be grateful to understand her at all.

The relevance of this will be lost if you haven't seen the production
And, being shallow, I do like a play with a few recognisable quotes. "The face that launched a thousand ships"; that'll do nicely.

OWL

Who you screwin'. John?

I have been on the big wheel that has recently appeared in Leeds. Many people have voiced the opinion that it's in a pretty strange part of town and, of course, they are perfectly correct. Unless one is especially keen to know what is on the roof of Kirkgate market (hint - nothing) then I'm not sure why one would bother. Certainly not for the commentary which is provided by various clowns from local radio. The man from Flat Cap FM (I may not have exactly caught the precise name of whom he represented) had an interesting way with the pronunciation of Dvořák; presumably his music not featuring heavily on their playlist. And I can't help feeling that the best time to big up Harry Ramsden's in Guiseley would have been before it closed.

So, if you are on the market with £6 burning a hole in your pocket, then my advice is to buy some samosas and a tub of that serious chilli sauce that they sell.

Vaguely in the direction of where I live