The Final Superhero Movie

I have just watched the final movie in the Captain Lichtenstein series and feel satisfied that the entire thrilling story has finally been told. It is based on a comic book drawn from the annual reports of the Swiss Bureau Of Economic Planning and has become somewhat of a cult classic. It is one of the few superhero movies that features double-entry book-keeping.

I was a little worried when they discovered the June 1978 journal with the missing receipts but this was explained satisfactorily when the alien space shop landed amid the gasoline explosions. The audience in the cinema with me – a firm of chartered accountants – heaved a sigh of relief. You can tell a good film maker – they engage the soul of the viewer.

Hard to say what the studio can do to top this one. I believe they are working on a mini-series that involves the competition between two dynasties of industrial chemists. They sneaked a trailer into the last credits of Captain Lichtenstein showing lab samples of paint drying. I think it’s a hint.

 

 

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How Much Is Your Name Worth?

If it is Elon Musk or Richard Branson, apparently quite a lot.

If it is Harvey Weinstein, somewhat less…

And for those of us in the middle? Well, it’s worth just what other people think it is. And therein lies the danger. If you have been a good person forever and are a good person now, your name and reputation will still be available for people to throw darts at as long as you are within range. You are not in control of the darts nor of their throwing arms – you can only control the range.

This is a sad thought if you are a people person. If your life needs human contact and constant approval, you are always going to be within range of the very human trait of animosity. You need not provoke it – it is there all the time ready for use. Sort of the frozen pizza of emotions. Just stand still for long enough, close enough, and there you go.

How to protect yourself from it? Either stay far enough away from others so that you never fall under their notice, or please everyone in every way all the time, or put safeguards in place. Never see anyone alone. Never say anything remotely objectionable to anyone. Never borrow anything , nor lend it. Never win a contest. Never write a book, blog, or laundry ticket. Never ask and never tell. Never know.

For those of you out there contemplating sex, forget it. Cold showers and prayer are your only recourse. Shun dating, marriage, adultery, celibacy, and strip joints. Avoid the movies, particularly if you are producing them. Do not send pictures of any portion of your body to anyone at all, ever. Avoid stimulating foods like lukewarm gruel and dry toast.

As far as finances go, remember about not being a borrower or lender. Also do not spend any money and take particular care that you are not seen to be saving it – you would be a miser.

Of course politics are a minefield of offence. Minefields are also a minefield. In fact just plain fields will get the more committed ecologist quite livid with anger. You may be wise to curl up under your desk and make no sound whatsoever.

But cheer up – do all this and you will have a good name. King Tutankhamen has been quiet for centuries and no-one has a bad word for him.

I’d Rather Be Groucho Than Margaret

If you have never seen a movie with Groucho Marx and Margaret Dumont I recommend that you dial up ” A Night At The Opera” and ” A Day At The Races ” and watch Groucho bounce jokes off poor Margaret’s hide all the way through.

You might feel sorry for her or think she gets what she deserves – as she always played the dignified straight lady to Groucho’s scoundrel – but movie histories tell us that she was doing it as a consummate stage actress and skilled professional. Her job – straight feed and timekeeper for the audience’s laughs – is one of the tough ones in comedy. The fact that she did it while enduring the Marx brothers is a tribute to her courage and steadiness.

You’d be surprised how many people in real life have to do the same thing – and many have the even tougher job of maintaining their cool in the face of meanness – not just stage comedy. I saw it many times in my retail shop time and sometimes even had to practice it myself.

I do not mind the high and I do not mind the mighty, but when they combine these two features along with a show of morality my liver starts to curl at the edges…followed, if I am not careful, by my lip. Fortunately most of this behaviour is occasioned by financial consideration – people use it as a ploy to lower prices – and an employee that is subject to it can finally take refuge behind the facts of business – you can’t sell things for nothing.

I’m rather ashamed to say that I occasionally Groucho’d a few people. If I could see that they were doing  a Margaret and playing at being pillars of society I would allow the conversation to run a little way past the end of the tram lines – perfectly seriously, of course – and occasionally they would follow me along until they were lost in the weeds. I could always find my way back by excusing myself to go fetch the manager. I’ll bet the manager dreaded my knock on the door.

Sometimes I even did the Groucho walk when I went off to fetch him. Never had the nerve for the greasepaint moustache or the cigar, however.

 

The Casting Crouch

I see that there is yet another flurry of outrage about a caucasian actor in Hollywood being cast to play an asian character from a comic strip. Of course there is outrage – I should expect no less from the entertainment press. They are doing their job and doing it well…

Fortunately this problem has been headed off in the 2018 re-make of ” Gettysburg ” as the studio has wisely decided to cast Wesley Snipes in the role of General Robert E. Lee. Statues are being prepared now for erection in the southeastern states in time for the summer season.

I’m not so sure about the Goldfische Studios casting for the re-make of ” Midway “, though. I am all for inclusivity but the planned use of Judy Dench and Ellen DeGeneres as Admirals Yamaguchi and Nagumo seems a little risky. And filming aboard a Caribbean cruise liner docked in Florida seems a poor substitute for the AKAGI and the KAGA. Might work  for the SORYU but not if they leave the cocktail decorations up.

Personally, I’m hanging out for ” Peanut “…the musical about George Washington Carver with Johnny Depp as the lead character. It’s a sure Oscar. Oscar Meyer…

 

The Little World – Hindsight Is Perfect

They say hindsight is 20/20 vision. They never say where the eyes that do it are meant to be placed…

For the Little World worker it hardly matters, as they generally do not bother looking closely at their own work. At other people’s, yes. That needs critical laser vision and acid comparison. But a model that we have made five years ago never really gets the going over that one might expect – even after all the effort we put into it.

However, the exception can occur. Five years ago I made a model of a Hollywood – style set and produced a little book of it for the actors and actresses who posed for me. The model went under a heavy drape and was duly forgotten…forgotten until I met a lady from the miniaturist’s society at a model train exhibition*. On a whim I asked whether her society would be interested in having it on display at their fair in August.

She leapt at the chance, and so did her club secretary. I’ve been in touch with them, arranged to deliver it for their day, and they’ll display it prominently. And that has triggered off an entirely new phase for the model.

It was a project that could be photographed for still pictures as if it was a motion picture set. Now it is being completed as a film set in the process of filming…I’m adding the equipment and structures that the film makers…the legendary Goldfisch brothers…are using. Camera, lights, dressing room ( well it’s actually a sheet–iron toilet in use as a dressing room ), makeup benches, sound desk, recorder, boom microphone…etc.

Even the wooden structure of the set is being enhanced with scale 2 x 4 framing. Signs are sprouting everywhere.

In short, the model has come alive again. And this time I know what each part should be doing, so the components can be placed and fastened rather than being swept away into a cardboard box and eventually lost.

I cannot afford to have custom-made figurines for the set, though they are done by artists in the US, but I have a sort of sneaky plan to populate the model nevertheless. I hope the miniaturist ladies have a sense of humour. After all it is a fancy house…

The Mini-Motor Trade Monthly Report

Well, the last of the boxes have arrived from New South Wales – this year’s quota of new die-cast models for my collection are ready for unboxing and display.

Or, I should say, they are ready for further work. They have already figured in complex plans for photo shoots and now it is time to prepare them for their roles. They will be unboxed and the worst of the anomalies ground off them…by this I mean any mounting posts that the makers have left visible on the bottom of the chassis. They do this even on some quite pricey models and the result can spoil low-level shots if you are not observant.

Then it will be time to consider whether there should be any weathering. While I am quite enamoured of the normal wear and tear look of normal daily drivers, some of these cars are always going to be showpieces or central players in advertising scenarios. That means clean tyres and no road grime on the sides of the body. The license plates might need to be changed and little anomalies polished out, but essentially the models are ready to go.

There is one model scheduled for a big repaint straight away, and I have no idea exactly how to do it yet. It will be a complex pattern with advertising signage and extra accessories glued on. It goes to the back of the queue…

I am starting to collect more trailers and caravans as well, and have started to notice more of them in the smaller scales ass well. They certainly appear to have been a popular subject for the classic die-cast makers of England and France in the 50’s and 60’s. I would add some of them to the collection except that the market seems to regard them as far more valuable than new models. I am not a great fan of being driven to overspend by someone else’s urging.

And then we’ll start on the structure building and the set making for the new shoots. A new building was completed this week, and will show up in the studio shortly. I am getting better at assessing what degree of detailing is necessary for a good appearance on the photographic table and the new foamcore construction methods are speeding the construction no end.

And finally, the new series of Hot Rod Honeys and Hunks shoots started last weekend with a Hollywood starlet and a pesky news reporter at The Goldfisch Studios. The prep shots were all ready to go beforehand and I am happy to say that the talent were perfect in their roles. The only technical hitch occurred  when the studio cameraman inadvertently turned off the RAW recording on the camera and only saved medium fine JPEGs. Fortunately Fujifilm JPEGs are superb and the images are excellent. A dumb mistake…he’d get fired if it wasn’t for nepotism.

 

 

The Little World – Glue To You, Too

The Little World is frequently stuck together, sometimes stuck for an idea, but never stuck up. I’ll talk to anyone about modelling.

One of the recent discoveries is no discovery at all – it is just the realisation that I was being bothered by something that I knew very well how to cure – if only I paused to consider it.

The problem was the signs needed for my 1:18th buildings. I managed freehand graffiti, and had even done a giant stencil for the side of the Mangina Transport building – but I needed far more precise signs to embellish the buildings. I can print decals, but that is expensive in large size – I have settled upon using inkjet papers through my Epson R3000 with matt or semi-matte paper. In most cases the designs are my own and I can cram a whole building’s worth of signage on an A4 sheet of paper.

But heretofore I always figured that the matte paper and matte ink were the go, in keeping with the matte paint on the buildings. And while the printed signs were as precise as you could wish ( I design them double-size and then reduce the image onto the final paper. ) when glued onto the building they weren’t working. All too often they would curl up around the edges and look really bad. In one case I was reduced to cutting one off the structure and sanding over the spot.

If I had been using my science brain I would have realised that the matte inkjet papers were uncoated and terribly porous at the back. When I applied the Weldbond PVA glue to them, the fibres would swell and the signs would curl forward. If it dried quickly it would do so curly.

When the penny dropped, I tried an experiment – still using the matte paper I tried gluing it on with C23 acetate balsa glue. Much better. Less swelling. Selly’s contact cement was also good, if a trifle thick and occasionally lumpy.

But the real success started when I printed on the resin-coated inkjet papers – they can go on with PVA if necessary with no curl at all. Once dried, if I need a matte surface, there are spray cans of matte varnish or bottles of Tamiya matte coating. Once you get past the art paper surfaces it all becomes easy.