Tuesday, March 15, 2011

P-38 Update

Previosly, on Old Farts Wanking in Their Spare Time, I showed you my progress on building Major Richard Bong's P-38 Lightning.

Since then, I've come a long way. Marge is nearly finished now, but it's been a bit of a pain to get here. I've made several really awesome cock-ups, all of which elicited much swearing and all of which I've (hopefully) learned from. Let me just say what a huge cock-up it was to not glue on the nose assembly and props before this point. Though my red wing tips and pre-shading came out nicely.

Chrome silver acrylic paint is a bit difficult to work with. Even after several coats, I'm still finding bits I missed. They look fine on first glance and 24 hours later, after you've applied a gloss coat, you can see spots you missed.

The props took several steps of masking, all of which I forgot to photograph. Except this last part, which look like medieval spinning blades of death.

Now those are proper props.

The instructions called for flat black glare repellant on the nose and sides of the engines, but after studying the pictures of the real, restored Marge at the Richard Bong Historical Center, I noticed it was actually olive drab, so I painted accordingly.

Compared to the Spitfire and BF 109-G, there are surprisingly few decals for the P-38.

The decal of Marge and the flags for each enemy plane shot down came out well. But I like how the decal of the faded numbers on the nose. Right now, she looks too shiny, but once I add a bit of weathering, it's going to look really cool.

This model was a tough build for me, but I learned a lot from it. With each one, I learn more. And with each one, I become more interested in the aircraft, their history, and the men who flew them.

Postage Stamp Planes

Long before I started building 1/48 scale models, I was picking up these 1/144 scale Japanese models at the little Japanese market where I buy sushi and sashimi. They're tucked in amongst the Pokeman and countless other Nipponese collectible figurines I'll never be nerdy enough to know the names of. But I liked them because, for their tiny size, they have an incredible amount of detail.

As you can see here, they come on tiny sprues with tiny parts and tiny decals. They can be fussy and fiddly, but when they're done, they look quite cool. Too cool, in fact, to leave on a shelf to get dusty. So I bought some cheap shadowbox frames at Ikea and started doing this:

I have stacks of old National Geographics and various and sundry travel magazines from the 60s and 70s. I cut out suitable backgrounds, stick some foam core under the model for 3-D effect, some hot glue and voila. A nerdtastic project for my inner 8-year-old. I've made quite a few of these. I'm thinking Etsy may be my only salvation.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Grails release Deep Politics

I've been finding it difficult to get excited about new music lately. I used to enjoy separating the wheat from the chaff, but it's become too tedious and the payoffs so few and far between that I've fallen into the wretched habit of turning off.

I hope giving my ears a sonic vacation will help as I've long considered my ears a great, unrecognized national treasure. Lately, however, I feel they've been abused; relentlessly assaulted by cheap, disposable music at every turn. How I long to go into a shop somewhere and have it be free of an incessant, pounding soundtrack. But I digress.

2010 was a disgustingly disappointing year for music. Two of my favorite bands, Belle & Sebastian and The Books, released crap records. What's strange is, the two bands couldn't be any more different, yet they both took five years to make equally utterly disappointing records.

I was especially disappointed with The Books. Pop bands are bound to leave a turd in your sink every now and then. Call me naive, but bands like The Books just aren't supposed to do that. Especially after waiting five years and being titillated by what seemed a genius move-- signing to the Temporary Residence label.

There are very few labels from whom I'd buy a record sound unheard. Temporary Residence is one of them. But after the Books incident of 2010, I could be forgiven for thinking they were losing their edge.

I bought Burning Off Impurities by Grails when it came out and though I liked it OK, I always thought of it more as a sketchbook than a fully-formed statement-- that this was a band with what you might call "potential."

However reluctant a curmudgeon I might be, old habits die hard. So when I saw the new Grails record on Temporary Residence, I bit. And I'm happy to report it's a vast improvement over the previous record. The vision thing seems to have coalesced around the kind of post-rock-soundtrack-for-an-as-yet-unmade-film thing that I'm such a sucker for. Full review coming after I listen a few more times.

My shrine to Pip

This is my grandfather, Reginald Paquin-- a.k.a. pèpére, a.k.a. Pip. He died when I was 11. He was more of a father to me than my biological father ever was and I can only hope I live to be half the man he was. He was in the Air Force all his life. I'm not sure of the date of the photo, but it must have been sometime during WWII.

He brought the two sake cups back from Japan after the war. He hollowed out the .50 caliber bullets and turned them into salt and pepper shakers. Before he died, he got really into making doll house furniture. We are kindred spirits in many ways and I am unable to express how deeply I miss him. I couldn't possibly count the times in the last few years I wished he was here.

I have so many questions I'd like to ask and so much I'd love to tell him. But more than anything, I wish he could have met my son, his great grandson. I can imagine the way he would smile at him and the stories he would tell. I can hear his voice, clear as if it were yesterday, when he thought something was cool, he'd say it was "real George."

Pip was in the 43rd and 101st bomb wings and worked on B-52s. He was stationed at Carswell AFB when he retired and when I was young, I was on the base every other weekend for church and breakfast at the NCO Club. I still remember seeing the B-52s lined up on the runways and remember hearing them scream and rumble overhead.

Turns out there's a B-52 at the March Field Museum about an hour from here in Riverside that was stationed at Carswell in the '70s. So I took the boy to go see her.

It's a little hard to wrap your head around just how big these birds are. They're huge. They were also so well-built that many of them will be in service until 2020, making them the longest-serving planes in military history.

Getting the entire plane in the frame close up proved to be impossible. But the boy sure did love seeing it after reading about it for the past few months. He's on this bigger is better kick right now, so he was happy to see this giant. But for me, I just couldn't shake the thought that maybe, just maybe, Pip had touched this exact bird.