When the muse calls...

Sometimes a muse calls and you don't see it coming. It's a story worth telling as a New Year opens.

I am often self-conscious about my geeky-nerdy interests in things like old railroads, airplanes, wonderful foods, and craft beers. I certainly post less about the scale modeling experience on open media like Facebook and share those thoughts more often with like-minded folks through other avenues like modeling clubs, e-mail blasts, on-line forums, and, more recently, this blog.

I came to a better understanding of my urge to write about my experiences when I read an article last fall, published in the Center for Railroad Photography & Art's Railroad Heritage magazine by fellow academic Richard Koenig. He wrote:

But photographs, regardless of the subject matter, are inert by themselves - they need to be viewed and interrogated by an audience to take on and impart their meaning 

Koenig wrote about his engagement with a railroad enthusiast group in Bloomington, Indiana in …

It's a spring thing

My local modeling club, the Phantom Phlashers, holds their annual show and contest the first Saturday of April every year.   It's a nice opportunity to see the work of modelers around the region and have some extended social time with a bunch of guys with a lot of overlapping interests.  This year's show included a record 467 models from 93 different modelers.  One of the highlights of every show is the vendors.  It's often an opportunity to pick up a few new products, especially tools and paints, and always allows a glimpse of plastic modelling history as folks try to empty out their closets of old (and often superseded) kits.  Although the vendor turnout for those tools and supplies was thin, I did get to visit with one of the first kits I recall building, the Aurora P-61 Black Widow.  I especially enjoyed Aurora brand kits in those pre-teen years because they went together easily.  Their lack of detail didn't bother me, because I could go from a box of parts to an …

Smaller Things

I'm not much of a fan of mainstream TV, and haven't gotten caught up in the popularity of Stranger Things, but that doesn't mean I don't get caught up in fads.  Of course, tending to the obsessional, those fads are usually of my own making.

Right now, my fad is Smaller Things, specifically 1/72-1/76 scale vehicles.  They are also stranger things in their own way: they are oddball vehicles.  But, really, what other kind of model would draw my interest?  Oh, I'm sure there are people who build tiny run-of-the-mill Sherman tanks and German half-tracks in innumerable quantities, but that's not for me.  I'm fascinated by things like airfield ground support equipment, armored vehicles that ride on wheels instead of tank tracks, and  recovery vehicles of all sorts. (For those not familiar with recovery vehicles imagine a bulldozery, tow-truckish kind of beast built out of an honest-to-goodness tank).

I have to admit, this is not really a new obsession.  It's m…

How the Kamado saved Christmas.

My blog header says that it will cover many topics, but so far only scale modeling has come to the fore.  It's time to break the mold.*  Hence, a Christmas story should be told.

For many years, I have been responsible for the protein phase of our Christmas feast.  This has typically centered on a standing rib roast of beef, prepared in the manner I first learned from Alton Brown on his Food Channel show 'Good Eats.'  While I don't do the whole over-the-top clay flowerpot thing that Mr. Brown espouses, the start-low, finish-high, "reverse sear" approach has served us well.  Still, the method has its deficiencies, including occupying the oven at otherwise unhelpful, i.e., too low and too high, temperatures through most of the day.  The high temperature finish also creates a greasy smoke that permeates the house and lingers in the oven for weeks, or at least until it's cleaned!    These problems were masked when our home had double ovens and a restaurant-gr…

Second Hand Rose

The question of what happens to a model collection when the modeler can no longer enjoy it vexes many folks in the hobby, and can be especially thorny for families faced with valuation and dispersal of the esoterica intrinsic to collecting scale model kits.  Fellow blogger Jim Bates has even addressed this in an interview on The Plastic Scale Modeling Hour (episode 30).  Jim takes the stage at just about time point 18:30 in that recording.

Our IPMS-Birmingham club, the Phantom Phlashers has faced this issue a number of times in the last few years, with several members giving up big chunks of their collections.  One of our guys, Bob, was obviously in failing health when his family turned to another club-member for help.  This turned out to be a yeoman effort, because Bob had started many kits in recent years, and had unboxed and mixed parts of many others.  The started kits were made available to club members for building, while others were offered for sale. I picked up several from ea…