Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ok, I'll Bite: Fran & Ray's 20 Questions

In an apparent bout of stupefying boredom at work, Fran and Ray came up with 20 questions to serve as a Geek Rorschach Test for the rest of us. Being a natural contrarian I've tried very hard not to succumb to this blatant Nerd-Bating but hey, its Saturday, the weather's crap, I don't want to do any chores, so I'll gladly attempt The 20 Questions...

1. Favorite Wargaming Period and Why?

The Napoleonic period for a variety of reasons:

- The three military arms: infantry, cavalry and artillery were almost perfectly balanced, with each arm having a significant impact on operations without any single one overpowering the others. I think this makes for very interesting military history (and great gaming). Also, naval warfare was terrifyingly gorgeous, brutal and decisive.

- The period created an amazing suite of memorable personalities, most of whom would probably not have risen to prominence without 'The Corsican Ogre' being on the scene. To name but a few: Wellington, Haydn, Kutusov, Talleyrand, Dumas, Ney, Tolstoy, Bernadotte, Goya, Nelson, Beethoven, Cochrane, Charles, Blake, Murat, Pitt, Jackson...

- The Napoleonic period had a certain brutal purity about it. For the most part the wars were limited in nature - generally only the combatants were affected and the reason for the wars was typically based on the bold-faced acquisition of power (as opposed to the irreconcilable issues of religion or ethnicity).

- Pre-industrialized war could be amazingly beautiful in its scale and grandeur. The uniforms were stunning and are great fun to research and paint.

2. Next Period with Money Not Being an Object?

Napoleonics in 3mm, at 1:1 scale, with the room (hall) to array them in. Fuck, now that would be amazing.

3. Favourite 5 Films?

'The Duellists'. IMO one of the most cinematically beautiful opening scenes in film.
In no particular order:
- 'The Duellists'
- 'Blade Runner'
- 'Master and Commander'
- 'Cinema Paradiso'
- 'Gattica'

4. Favourite 5 TV Series?

Kenneth Branagh as 'Wallander'
Again, in no particular order:
- 'Breaking Bad'
- 'Firefly'
- 'I, Claudius'
- 'Piece of Cake'
- 'Wallander'

5. Favourite Book and Author?

I think we should have 5 like the other media. So, on that unilateral decision here are my 5:
- 'The Lord of the Rings' by J.R.R. Tolkien
- 'The Warlord Trilogy' by Bernard Cornwell
- Only the first three books of 'The Song of Ice and Fire' series - Martin has cocked up the rest.
- 'The Seven Men from Gascony' by R.F. Delderfield
- 'The Pity of War' by Niall Ferguson

6. Greatest General?

Bobby Lee
Though it is very tempting to go with Boney I really have to say that, in my opinion, Robert E. Lee is the greatest general. In making war he exhibited the capacity for brilliant strokes of controlled violence and yet had a deep sense of humanity - he knew when to stop.

7. Favourite Wargames Rules?

'Spearhead' by Arty Conliffe. Simple, elegant and intuitive.

8. Favourite Sport and Team?

Sport: Cycling. 
Team: The 1986 La Vie Claire team at the Tour de France featuring the famous internal power struggle between Bernard Hinault and Greg Lemond.

9. Time Machine. When/Where Would I go?

This is a hard one. Even though I'd like to have been with the lads at Waterloo I really think I'd like to go back and visit with my grandparents when they were young. Talk about their life, their thoughts and aspirations and let them know that it all turned out Ok. That would be pretty cool.

10. Last Meal on Death Row?

Ha! Takeaway (literally) curry, with an extra portion for the Devil (or St. Peter, depending on circumstances / luck).

11. Fantasy Relationship and Why?

I hate to be a sop but I'm pretty darned happy (and lucky!) in my present circumstances. ANYWAY, as our prurient minds like to ponder on these weighty subjects I think that IF there was an alternate universe to play around with these kind of fantasies I'd have a small hareem with the following lovely women as partners (Hey, it is a FANTASY):

Ava Green (My favourite Bond Girl)

Helen Mirram (THE Grande Dame)

Christine Lagarde (French Finance Minister - I know, it seems odd but I think she's pretty hot.)

12. If my Life were a Movie who would play me?

Yeah, I know I'm flattering myself (but this is what this is all about, right?) but I'd pick Edward Norton.

13. Favourite Comic Superhero

The Punisher. When I was a kid it seemed that everyone was into these weirdos leaping about in funny suits. Nope, not me. The Punisher was the shizzle. He's a very simple antihero: an incredibly angry man with lots of ordinance and the will to use it. He doesn't fuck about trying to put people in jail - he just puts them in the ground. There's a certain beautiful clarity to that.

14. Favourite Military Quote

'The graveyards are full of indispensable men.' Charles de Gaule

15. Historical Destination to Visit?


16. Biggest Wargaming Regret?

Not buying more 40K crap in the 90s so I could sell it at a gross profit today.

17. Favourite Fantasy Job.

The power of visualization... Nope, I still don't have the job. (It would probably help if I could at least speak French...)

Chief Curator of the Musee de l'Armee in Paris

18. Favourite 5 Songs / Pieces of Music?

At this time and in no specific order:
- 'Lippy Kids' by Elbow
- 'Night Swimming' by REM
- 'Va, Pensiero' by Verdi
- 'Tower of Song' by Leonard Cohen
- 'Nelson's Mass' by Hayden

19. Favourite Wargaming Moment?

Hosting a game and stepping back to see all the guys having a good time.

20. What upsets Me?

Oh hell, don't get me started. Ok, here's a big one: While we've produced some pretty stellar individuals, humanity as a whole is pretty reprehensible. As a species we are incredibly selfish, we take far too much and give very little back - its quite appalling.

Other than that I find taxes, teenage angst and parking tickets really make me snap my crayons. I'm a bit of a grump really. 'Hey, you! Get off my bloody lawn!'

Thanks Fran and Ray! This was quite a lot of fun, but now I have to get to those chores I've been avoiding all day...


  1. Great set of answers Curt. I think the Hinault/Lemond struggle was just before I got interested in pro cycling.
    "The Duellists" wow, it's years since I've watched that, but it is a glorious film to watch.

    1. Tamsin, if you can ever get a good sports documentary on the Hinault/Lemond rivalry go for it - its such great theatre!

      Yes, 'The Duallists' is a pretty simple film but I think that plays to its favour and the cinemaphotograpy is just so incredibly inspired. I particularly liked the scenes from the retreat from Russia.

  2. I can not believe you succumbed!

    I do agree about Helen Mirren and Eva Green (she was in Camelot right), I would add Emily Blunt and Cate Blanchette though.

    Warlord Trilogy and LotR both good, but Dickens, you have to have Dickens.

    Wallander superb, also like Waking the Dead.

    Movies, I like movies!


    1. Yup, I blame it on a spasm of narcissistic weakness!

      Ohhh yes, Emily and Cate are both VERY worthy as well. You can now understand my idea of a hareem...

      Dickens is an excellent choice as well, but I couldn't bump any of the others!

      Do you mean The Walking Dead? If so, yes, that is a great series as well but I thought the beginning of the second season a little weak.

    2. No Waking the Dead with Trevor Eve. Procedural detective series about long dead victims.


    3. Ahh, very cool. I'll have to keep an eye open for that, thanks!

  3. 8 (kind of,) 12, 13 , 19 same answers - spooky!

    Would have to COMPLETELY disagree with the phrase "The Napoleonic period . . .for the most part the wars were limited in nature . . . only the combatants were affected..." but that's probably an argument for another day.

    I'm going to have to read The Warlord Trilogy after the number of people who put it in their 20 question lists!

  4. That is a strange synchronicity! Good taste I'm sure.

    Yes, I was perhaps being a bit too glib. I realize the wide impact that the Napoleonic wars had on society but the actual effects of the campaigns themselves were localized and small in comparison to the total wars of the past hundred years. They were not wars of annihilation or even of Total Victory but were rather fought for specific aims and goals. Napoleon just seemed to have a lot of aims and goals.

    Yes, definitely pick up the Warlord Trilogy - its a great interpretation of the Arthurian saga.

  5. Excellent answers but....3mm Napoleonic? I'm already nearly blind and then I forgive you with The Punisher!
    We're thinking about another 20 but tough as feck........get those chores done my friend!

    1. Thanks Angry, I'm somehow not surprised you'd be a Punisher fan as well.

  6. Good answers Curt and entertaining.

    It seems Firefly comes up a lot great stuff that!

    Exactly my feeling on Martin's series.... basically he should have ended the third book with Rob uniting the kingdom and it would have gone down as the best series ever IMHO. What the frick and frack was he thinking....

    It seems we have both picked Bobby Lee as our best general and I agree with your summation.


    1. Yeah, I always get a bit hot under the collar discussing Martin as I think he had a great thing going but then he started believing in his own hype. Frankly, I think he's written himself into a corner and doesn't know how to get out (much like the Battlestar Galactica writers). I'm sure it will be up to a battalion of HBO writers to try to make sense of it all. Poor buggers.

      Marse Robert is the Man.

  7. Excellent answers Curt, not too sure about the 3mm Napoleonic armies though??? The Duellists is a great film, I wish Keith Carradine had worn a more colourful uniform rather than the grey though. Love Cornwell's Warlord series, gonna have to read it again soon! Eva Green......yum!

    1. Thanks Ray. Well, 3mm provides the scale to do 1:1 effectively. The thing is not to think of the figures as individual castings of soldiers but of entire units.

      Yeah, the uniform of the 3rd Hussars while very classic is a bit understated. The 5th would have been excellent with its white pelisse on blue and red.

      Now, Eva Green in a nicely tailored hussar uniform would be very tasty indeed... (ahem)

    2. I know, I know, I try not to dwell too much on that mental image as, well, you know... its just best not to...

  8. Duellists.n Haven't seen it. Now I think I had better. Am also thinking that Barry Lyndon should have been one of my movie pics.
    Night Swimming is REM at their most lyrical.
    Ms Lagarde is stunningly hot.
    Good taste my friend.

    1. Oh yes, Barry Lyndon is another excellent film choice. Good one.

  9. Good set of answers, took you a while to fall into the trap


  10. Brilliant answers Curt! :-)

    Wow, you used the F word, this must have got you a bit worked up? ;-)

    Wait up, you're Canadian, I thought French was kinda like a 2nd lanuguage to you guys? It would be a pretty cool job there!

    20. Yep - deep but very cool!

    1. Cheers Scott! No, I'm afraid I'm quite the vulgarian in 'meatspace' - it must be seeping through into my online identity. Damn poor breeding...

      Yes, the more refined members of our nation are fully bi-lingual, especially those living in the eastern part of the country. The West, however, does not have as large a francophone population so we've lagged behind, not really seeing a need for knowledge of the language. Actually I just say this as an excuse to cover that I'm a complete dullard. ;P

  11. A great series of answers. Very interesting, Curt.


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