Book Review: The Pioneers

Posted October 11th, 2019 by Devin and filed in Review

The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal WestThe Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West by David McCullough
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

McCullough covers a little known window of American history with THE PIONEERS. Set in the Northwest Territory, the area that would one day make up the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the book tells of the ordinance formed to allow settling in the lands ceded by the British at the end of the Revolution, and how it grew over the following decades.

With the ordnance ratified by the architects of the Constitution and the very country, we then are shown the difficulties of even reaching the site of the first settlement, Marietta, in Continue Reading »

Book Review: The Last Cruise of a German Raider: The Destruction of SMS Emden

Posted September 14th, 2019 by Devin and filed in Review

The Last Cruise of a German Raider: The Destruction of SMS EmdenThe Last Cruise of a German Raider: The Destruction of SMS Emden by Wes Olson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wes Olson’s book, THE LAST CRUISE of a GERMAN RAIDER: THE DESTRUCTION of SMS EMDEN, is a fascinating read, not only about the career of Emden, but it also provides a window into the warfare of the early 20th century. Also, I do love a good solid book, and this is one is very well-made, with thick paper, and solidly constructed, so much so that it really jumped out at me how well made the physical book is. Besides that, the book covers everything from ship design, operational logistics, area of operation, operational requirements, and the final battle between Emden and Sydney, making this an informative and satisfying read.

There is a more in-depth version of this review over at Modelwarships.com.

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Model Completed: USS Sentinel

Posted July 28th, 2019 by Devin and filed in Modeling

I completed this one late last year. A fun build of a decent kit. More on the USS Sentinel page.

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WonderFest 2019

Posted June 9th, 2019 by Devin and filed in Modeling

Last weekend I attended the annual WonderFest sci-fi model show, in Louisville, KY. For those that have attended JerseyFest here during the fall, this is a somewhat similar show, yet much larger, and the break-down between ships/hardware and figures is about an even split (whereas the JerseyFest show is predominately figures). WonderFest set a record this year, it’s 30th, with over 800 models entered in the contest. The quality of work is amazing, and I was quite stunned to take away a bronze award for my USS Sentinel kit build. This year I also took part in a group build display, with the theme of Star Wars Concept Models. Each of us picked a Joe Johnston concept drawing and built a model based on it. My B-Wing wasn’t finished, but that didn’t stop me from taking it to the show as an in-progress.

The show’s dealer’s room is quite impressive as well, with at least 125 individual dealers, according to the show’s flyers, as well as personalities taking photos and signing autographs. The two conference rooms taken up by the dealers is easily 1.5 or 2 times the size of our usual MosquitoCon.

If anyone’s looking for an excuse to visit Louisville the weekend after Memorial Day, I highly recommend WonderFest. They have the date set for May 30-31st, 2020, with more information on their website: https://wonderfest.com/

I took photos, per my usual of not trying to get everything, just the stuff that really catches my eye, all of which have been posted HERE.

Model Completed: F4F-4 Wildcat F-21

Posted May 5th, 2019 by Devin and filed in Modeling

This one has been done and photographed for some time. As usual, it took me a while to get around to editing said photos and doing the write-up. Tamiya 1/48th scale kit, in the markings of Scott McCuskey’s (no, not McCluskey) mount onboard USS Yorktown (CV-5) at Midway. Yes, I do have a bit of a Yorktown obsession.

Photos and words HERE.

Model Completed: Air Racer “Thunderbird”

Posted September 2nd, 2018 by Devin and filed in Modeling

This is one of those builds that went rather quickly, in two parts. I did almost all of the initial construction several years ago, then chucked it in a box on a shelf. After using a lot of Draw Decals’ amazing markings for the airliners at Gulliver’s Gate, I was inspired to order their decal set for this airplane. While the model itself ins’t a show-stopper, the decals are great, resulting in something that looks good sitting in the display cabinet. It’s nice to have a splash of color every now and then.

Added to the model gallery HERE.

Gulliver’s Gate Work Samples

Posted July 24th, 2018 by Devin and filed in Modeling, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Path Between the Seas

Posted July 8th, 2018 by Devin and filed in History, Review

The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914 by David McCullough
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another great read from David McCullough. This one is a little denser than the other recent titles I’ve finished by him – The Johnstown Flood and The Great Bridge – but that doesn’t detract from the book. Indeed, the scope of the work requires the density. McCullough covers not only the American involvement in the canal, but the initial surveys and the aborted French project, and all of the associated drama. He recounts the engineering and medical advancements brought about by the project, as well as the darker side of the racism prevalent in the lives of the workers, and the dubious circumstances of Panamanian independence at the insistence of the United States.

My only quibble is that I’d like to have an addendum that covers the canal as it is today, after the ceding of ownership back to Panama, and with the new locks and other improvements recently added. Others can cover that, though, as McCullough’s book stands fine on its own as a thorough and compelling chronicle of an astounding project. Highly recommended.

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Wonderfest 2018

Posted June 9th, 2018 by Devin and filed in Modeling, Photography, Travel

Wonderfest is a sci-fi and fantasy model show that happens every year, just after Memorial Day, in Louisville, KY. This was my second year in attendance. Once again, the talent on display was amazing and humbling. I’ve posted my photos here:

http://njipms.zenfolio.com/p630515407

I’m already looking forward to next year.

 

Book Review: The Terror

Posted June 9th, 2018 by Devin and filed in Review

The TerrorThe Terror by Dan Simmons
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an odd book for me: incredibly well written, yet difficult to get through. The prose and imagery are beautiful, the characters compelling. The story takes forever to get going, and I feel that a healthy edit would have improved my experience. That said, the last section of the book mostly made the prelude worthwhile. I can see why others rave about it, but at several points during the reading, it became more of a chore than enjoyment. That being said, I’m looking forward to now watching the AMC series based on the book.

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