Friday, March 16, 2018

A Look Back At An Old Post, This Morning...

From the blog "Chirine's Workbench", March 16th-17th, 2012:


 This is going to be a very personal post, told from a very personal point of view, and with some very personal feelings.

 This post wasn't originally going to be what you're about to read; I had wanted to talk about going out to see "John Carter". I had a day off, the first one in several months, and I wanted to take my very own Dejah Thoris out for a day's excursion. As Prof. Barker's archivist, I especially wanted to see this movie because I'd just found his childhood copy of "A Princess of Mars", and I thought it would be fun to see a movie that Phil would (I thought) enjoy; he'd loved the various "Conan" movies, as he'd read the Howard stories as they'd come out, back in the day when I taken him out to see them, and he was like a kid again watching them.

 I didn't get to see the movie.

 Instead, I buried an old friend.

 I got the call from the house at 11:15 this morning, and I'm just now back home at about 00:15 local time. Phil had been in slowly declining health over the past six months, and he'd taken a very marked turn for the worse over the past 36 hours. He passed away about 10:30 this morning, and the news passed like the flames of a chain of signal beacons along a Sakbe road.

 In Islam, the departed are to be buried within twenty-four hours; they have gone on their final journey and it is the responsibility of the family, the friends, and the faithful to take care of what Allah the Most Merciful and Compassionate has left behind.

 We did. We prepared the empty husk of the brilliant, eccentric, funny, cranky, and unique man I knew for so many years, and then we carried him down his stairs in his home for the last time. Like so many Praetorians, we did what we'd promised we did for him so many years ago; we took care of him, and we took care of Ambereen.

 I rode with him for the last time on the way to the mosque, and when I was asked by the brothers who were to prepare him for the prayers of the faithful why I was there, all I could respond with was something that Phil had said about me to some of his players back when I was twenty-five and he had come with Ambereen to my birthday party: "This is the son I never had."

 I stayed with him for the last time as they washed and anointed him, and I was asked about this man who had departed from us. I told them of his gifts as a linguist and as a scholar, of his writing, and of his life. I told them of his conversion to Islam, and his abiding faith. I told him of how he'd taught so many of us so many things, and I told them of his astonishing creation of an entire world.

 I stayed with him while he was given the robes he would wear for his final trip in this world, and I stayed with him while the faithful offered their prayers for him. Together, we took him to the cemetery, and we returned him to the earth that he had sprung from. We took Ambereen home, and stayed with her telling stories of our times with him; there will be, I am told, an official memorial in the near future. Tonight was, though, just for us.

 We'll be back there tomorrow, as the family members fly in from all points, and we'll do what we can to help. That's what we came to do, all those years ago, and what we'll do for him and for Ambereen in the future; be there for them, and to serve the Petal Throne.

 And now, if it's all right, I'll be off to try and get some sleep. I'll have more later, when I have the chance.

 Thank you all, once again...

yours, chirine

[Edit. I thought it had been five years, I guess it's been six. It's always been a difficult day for me, ever since, and I hope you'll excuse me for the confusion. Thanks. - the Management]

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Has It Really Been Ten Years? Seems Like Just Yesterday...

It's been brought home to me today - yet again - that we here at The Workbench seem to measure time in different ways then most people do. It seems like just yesterday that I first heard this news, and it's still fresh in my memory.

Gary was always unfailingly kind, polite, and respectful to me, despite knowing full well that I worked for Dave Arneson and M. A. R. Barker. We'd bump into each other at Gen Cons and TSR stockholders' meetings, and he'd always have something nice to say to me; I got to play in his Greyhawk, after the latter, and at one of the former - the first Gen Con at the University of Wisconsin Parkside - he walked up to me and said "You do the miniatures for Prof. Barker, right? Then this is from me to you." And then he handed me this:

I have a lot of artifacts in my game room from across the decades, but this gift from Gary is one of the most special things in my archives, simply because from whom it came and the spirit in which it was given. I carried this case, full of the miniatures you've seen on this blog in previous posts, out to Phil's Tekumel game sessions for the next decade.

Three years ago, it carried the same miniatures out to Gary Con for my Tekumel RPG session. After I put the figures out on the table, I took the case upstairs to the Gary Con charity auction. If you looked under the foam - which is still in great shape, after four decades! - you'd find some signatures. Gary's kids Luke, Ernie, their three sisters, and his grandson Alex were all kind enough to sign the inner side of the case. The case will stay in the archives, doing what Gary gave it to me to do - carry figures to my games - and then it'll go to my grandkids. (If they don't want it, it'll go to his kids.)

We miss you, Gary. Have a good time looking over everyone's shoulders, this coming weekend.

Kyrie eleison...

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Packages And Load-ins - The Weekly Update - Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

Just arrived today! Hurrah!

I'm happy to report that my envelope from Wizkids arrived in today's mail, and that the "Adventurers' Campsite" set is now complete. The two horses will go to the new 'Blackmoor' miniatures tray, and the various accessories to the little sorting boxes - formerly fishing tackle boxes, I think - that I use for stuff like this. Organization is key when using 'props' / 'set dressing' like this in games; one should be able to get the stuff out and on the table quickly, so as not to slow down the flow of the game play.

As you can probably see from the various photos I've taken of my games that are here and on my Photobucket page, I love 'clutter' like this for games. It always seems more satisfying for players to be able to say "I duck behind the barrels!" and I find the setting-up and setting-out to surprise the players to be just as satisfying. It's a particular play-style, I freely admit, and not for everyone or to everyone's taste in gaming. So, I'm very happy to have this set - it's like getting a package from John McEwan, back in the day, who made a huge range of stuff like this that we all used in out games.

The "Ezmerelda's Wagon" did kind of stump me for a little bit, as it doesn't look all that much like a historical wagon - what with The Missus being such a horse fan, we have a lot of books on horse-drawn vehicles, so off I went to do a little research in the stacks and on the Internet. Luckily for me, I have a nice selection of books and brochures from various British museums on living wagons, like the vardo, living van, and the showmen's wagon, so I have a lot of good references from which to work up a decent paint scheme. I can't tow it around with a steam traction engine in 'Blackmoor', but I'll see about a draft horse or two - the two horses in the set are riding horses, and would not have been used as the motive power for the wagon. (And yes, I do have several nice traction engines on the model railway.) I also picked up the titling cart and a pair of oxen, so one of those can pull this wagon and the other the cart.

(I was also led to the D&D module that the wagon was originally introduced in, "The Curse of Strahd". I read through that, in search of model information, and didn't particularly like it for several reasons. As I seem to have cause a bit of a ruckus on Google+ with my earlier observations, I'll save my thoughts on the subject for another time.)

Two other projects got done today; I was asked for some photos of the game room for a possible magazine article, and I had to bring a 52" LCD screen in from The Bug. It measures 49" across, and The Bug had 52" of width, so it just fit. This is another surplus buy, and I'm hoping to use it as a table-top display for games. The Missus is a whiz at electronic stuff - she updated the OS on this computer, Friday - and has suggested doing digital maps like the one she adapted from Phil's huge map of the Jakallan Underworld. This 52" is heavy, but very 'over-built' for what I want. It'll also act as a back-up to the 52" plasma screen in the game lounge, like the Sony 42" LCD does for the plasma screen in the game room. Wiring up the video systems has started, and we're off on a wonderful new phase in our gaming.

Oh, and I got the laundry done, too.

Tomorrow, it's groceries and painting miniatures! Hooray!!!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due, or, It's Not All Doom And Gloom Around Here...

As the title says, it's not all doom and gloom in these parts. As mentioned, Con of the North came around a while back, and my brother and my nephew stopped by for dinner. There's a game shop next door to our favorite food place, and The Missus got the giggles after seeing this set on the shelf.

It was kind of point of honor between Phil and I, back in the day, that if we ran into it in our games we'd have it on the table for the gamers to boggle over. A lot of what could be described as 'accessories' got made, and I still like to have these sorts of things around for games - if only for the comic possibilities, like the time the Glorious General ran through a campfire yelling his head off; everybody thought he was being particularly heroic, but he said it was to get the vicious biting ants out of his kilt.


So I got this set, along with a figure for the new Rogue in our 5e campaign, and I was pretty delighted to be able to have this for players to marvel at. I did run into an issue, though; the box printing was in error, with the contents list for the painted version of the set instead of this unpainted version. I contacted Wizkids about this, and they directed me to their product support site, as they were aware of the problem with the discrepancy of the contents. I was very pleasantly informed that they were standing behind their product, and they had sets of miniatures to make up the differences in the sets all ready to go and one such set is now on the way to me.

I am very, very happy to be dealing with a company that owns up to mistakes and supports their products. That's good business, and I support that. The figures are good, they come already in primer, and they paint up well. I got some more of their line this past week, as I believe in supporting a company that does business this way.

So, lots of fun here, and I'll have photos after I get some paint on these...

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Third Option - The Weekly Update - February 25th, 2018


One of the people commenting on the recent posts I've been making had a very, very good comment tonight that really does a much better job of articulating what's been going on in my life - both real world and gaming world - for the past few years, and I'd like to share it with you; it's also in the comments section of the post on Watching The World Go By:

From Scott Anderson:

+Chirine ba Kal What it matters is people are demanding that other people play differently;

-to include some hypothetical group of people who don't actually exist in the form these agitators imagine

-without examining how you or I actually play now
-presuming we are bad because of our age, sex, and other demographics
-and attempting to change the hobby to exclude the people they imagine us to be in favor of the imaginary people they wish existed.

On each of these points, I am deeply offended, and especially so on the very first: how dare anyone not at my table tell me how to play?

You may believe you are inoculated against these attacks, but you aren't. At some point you will have to make a choice between standing by the principle of true inclusiveness, which you exhibit, and playing the game this Inquisition demands. And speaking from experience, that's a game you cannot win.

It's good that for most of us, this is hypothetical; no one is able to force their game on us. But it's deeply offensive that they would try it, and that WotC would actively participate and applaud.

These are points that I agree with; I try very hard not to judge people by any preconceived notions I might have, and I would have expected to get the same consideration in return. I've had all too many incidents over the decades where I have not, and it's finally come to a head.

I am very fully aware that I am not inoculated against attacks from people; this is the age of the Internet, after all. I do think that, over the past year, I have made my choice about what I want to do in my gaming and in my 'public appearances', both in person and on line; I choose to stay with my principles and my beliefs, and if that bothers people, then so be it.

I've had the Inquisition in a few times, and we've beaten them off; we'll still be doing that. Would-be 'Game Police' should be warned that while The Missus and I try not to start 'em, we do tend to finish 'em; I've outlived a lot of my detractors, and I expect to outlive a few more.

I'm also choosing to exercise the third option open to me. "No gaming is better then bad gaming", as my old friend Mike Mornard likes to say,  so from this point on I will not be doing any gaming that I do not find personally enjoyable. This is both for the games I play and run, and for the various places that I go on the Internet. I am continually surprised by the people who insist that I have to game the way that they want me to, say the things they want me to say, and do the things that they want me to do for them.

So, while I've done an awful lot of things for an awful lot of people for free over the years, that's over and done with. I choose to put our resources into what The Missus and I enjoy and like, and if people want to come along for the fun, they are certainly welcome to. I have my writing and my model-building, and she has her writing and her crafts; we'll be happy to share, as long as people are interested and remember to say 'thank you' once in a while.

I'll continue the RPGsite thread for as long as people want to ask me questions, and when interest dies off we'll say goodbye with no regrets. This blog and my musings will continue, as I start a new and wonderful chapter in my gaming story with everyone having remote access to my game table. I'm looking forward to it, and I hope to have it all up and running soon.

Thank you all again, and I'll look forward to meeting all of you electronically...