04 June 2017

In Which Our Hero Reflects Upon His Travels, Art, Family, and Half-Orcs

Not much new painting lately. I've been travelling a lot the past few weeks and just got home yesterday.

One week was in North Carolina, taking in the sights...

And the sites...

I was doing field surveys, and the site I was working at was one of the creepiest I've done. Power was off, and one unit was a former diner that reeked of rancid fryer oil and gave me nighmare visions of some of my favorite films... Like Return of the King. You know the scene where Frodo was stumbling in the dark through webs in Shelob's lair? Been there. You know that scene where Aragorn, Gimli, and the elf are walking through the Paths of the Dead and the floor makes a crunching sound? Well... replace the skulls with giant cockroaches & their corpses. I eventually went out to the hardware store to supplement the flashlight clamped onto my clipboard with a headlamp and ended up deciding that the suspended roach corpses made me think less of Lord of the Rings, and more like that scene where they find the colonists in Aliens... but reproduced on an insect scale...

So that was North Carolina. My prior impression from travelling through NC was pretty much summed up as "strip-malls." Good to know it's not so one dimensional. They also have empty strip malls with movie sets reproduced with insects.

Eventually, I had to say goodbye to my field office...

...and head back home. For a short time. Before heading out again. But next up was my upgraded Tulsa field office...

Sadly, no bucket to sit on, nor an actual table. But this bit of casework was on casters, so I could wheel it around like a mobile work station -- although I had to stand & hunch over it. The site was a large, single, relatively clean unit, with electricity and Muzak. Which I cranked up loud. So, once again, it was an upgrade.

Tulsa was really the best city I've visited since taking the new job. It felt surprisingly familiar, and the people were really friendly. I got some decent BBQ, ate at a vintage diner on Rt. 66...

And best of all was that between working my ass off the first few days, and the site being a bit easier than I had planned for, I was done a little ahead of schedule. Usually on work trips, I work as much as I can, grab some food, pass out, wake up and repeat, until my flight home. This time I managed half an afternoon for a side trip. An hour north of Tulsa is Bartlesville, home of Phillips 66 and Price Tower.

The latter was originally the HQ of the H.C. Price company, and was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. I managed to get there just in time for the last tour. As with all Wright buildings, seeing it in photos is one thing, but being there in person is another. That's true of all architecture. Its nature is spatial and experiential. Architecture is not two dimensional, and it's meant for human interaction. But there's something about Wright buildings... something good and something bad. But profound, in either case. I stepped out of the car and was in awe.

While I was there I picked up a few things from the gift shop. (The tower is now home to an arts center, with the rest of the building serving as a hotel and restaurant.) I picked up a couple of books on the architect Bruce Goff, who lived in the tower for nine years, taught at O(K)U. As the receptionist was ringing up my purchases, she asked if I would like a list of addresses for the homes that Goff designed in the area. So I went on an architectural stalking spree through Bartlesville, checking out Goff homes and was well rewarded.

I'm as much a fan of Goff's work as I am of Wright's, but more than that I have a great respect for him as a person and his influence on architecture & education. (Whereas Wright was kind of a dick.) And similar to driving around Oak Park, IL, driving around Bartlesville, OK there was a really fun sense of a treasure hunt, spotting the houses as real gems without even having to look at the address or Google Maps. It was obvious where there was a Goff house, even among some of the other Prarie Style & Mid-Century Moderns.

My flights were routed through Dallas-Fort Worth, and the return trip had what turned out to be a slightly extended (but not too bad) layover. DFW terminal D was pretty cool, as I was entertained by the sound sculpture there.

I thought it was a shame that despite the huge number of people there, everyone was sort of pretending like this giant blue thing wasn't there. Except for a few kids. And their parents who only ackowledged it to the extent that they wanted them to stop enjoying it, I guess. Which is sad, because it seems the whole purpose of the thing is to provide a bit of playfulness in the airport terminal.

Also, there is a candy shop right next to it.

Back home again, as of yesterday. Settled in a bit. Had a pretty easy-going day today, and amid catching up on all the mundane chores I needed to take care of, my daughter (age 5) asked if we she could "make something with you, like those statues in the basement." That would equally refer to miniatures and vinyl/resin/sculpted custom toys. Figuring the latter was the best option, I initially thought about starting her on sculpting, but decided upon some blank vinyl, acrylic paints, and some butterfly cut-outs from an unfinished decorating project at our old house.

This was a fun start ( I hope) to getting her into painting stuff -- whether its toys or miniatures. :) The important part being that we spent part of the afternoon sitting together at the table and painting something.

I also prepped a half-orc (sold as orcs by Black Tree) mercenary unit to paint tonight...

Wait, WTF is going on here? Oh... yeah... after getting everything ready to paint tonight... fuzzy primer. So into the jar of Simple Green they went, not long after being primed. The primer was also pretty tacky, so I guess that's why it was so easy to scrub it all off the minis just a half hour (new record?) after being dropped into the Simple Green.

Ahhh... that's better. Used the last of my Krylon (grey) primer instead of the crappy -- in spite of online recommendations -- Rustoleum (black) primer. And despite my worries (and some posing acrobatics) I got them ti all fit in a ranked up unit on 20mm bases! But no paint tonight, still waiting on that glue to dry.

(Speaking of mercenaries, if I can make it to another convention or gaming event, I've got what I believe is a great idea for a fun multi-player game! More on that in the future....)

So there it is... half orcs on the horizon. But possibly not for another week or so. I'll be heading out of town again. But this time for a (hopefully) fun & relaxing family camping trip instead of work.


  1. Sounds like a fascinating trip. I know what you mean when talking about your children wanting to do something arty - my boy spontaneously dug out some paints and started a series of paintings this weekend. I was really happy (mostly because he hasn't really shown an inclination so far).

  2. I've been eyeing those half orcs as use as hobgoblins. Seem to look the part mostly, maybe not asiatic enough?

    1. They have some minor elements that might work. Some have long hair, topknots, the Asian style socks with sandals (sorry, don't know the appropriate term) as well as others with boots. Some of the armour may pass as well. But they're also solidly "generic fantasy." I'm still trying to sell myself on some of the GWAR/He-Man looking helmets, etc. ;) I think if I place another order with BTD, I may pick up another pack of the non-helmet guys, so they are a larger proportion of the unit. They're not my perfect vision for half-orcs, but they're close enough for now. I'm just looking for a single unit right now, so I can replace them later if I like. And I actually considered they would probably fit the "almost good enough" for hobgoblins too.

      And if you wait for one of the frequent sales, the price is usually very reasonable. My only (minor) complaint is that the metal used to cast them must be really high in lead -- they're some of the softest figures I've worked with in a while. Not a major problem, but a little annoying with some of the thin swords and especially with the standard bearer.

    2. Thanks, Im going to get myself a couple packs of them. I have noticed BTD metal is soft and has an odd soapy feel.

  3. That Goff house is seriously cool (although on a gaming blog, I would have expected a "goff house" to have black checks and dags).

    And painting with the kiddo... good times. Hope she likes it.

  4. Big old post full of interesting things :) Always nice to glimpse the "other lives" of gamer / hobby buddies

  5. I see from the comments those are BTD. I still need to place an order one of these days. Gross looking site inspections, interesting architecture. FLW's dick nature always stood out to me more than anything else. I've been to Taliesin West and one of his buildings in LA. Amazing design, but what a control freak.

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