Friday, September 22, 2017

Fairies and Men Both Have the Faculty for Magic

“According to Richard Chaston (1620-950) both men and fairies have the faculty of reason and of magic. In men reason is strong while magic is weak. With fairies, magic comes very naturally to them, but by humans standards they are barely sane.”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel, Susana Clarke

Have all of England’s Magicians been trained by Other Magicians?

“There have been very few of England’s magicians that have not learned from another magician. Gilbert Norrel and Jonathan Strange are examples of magicians that were self-made. Mr. Gilbert Norrel being what you may call an academic magician, spent years locked away with his books and spells. Although Jonathan Strange’s only text was a copy of the Raven King he seems to have a natural inclination toward magic.

Very little is known about the Raven King’s early years, but it is assumed that the Raven King learned both magic and Kingship while at court of the King of Faerie.

Another seemingly self-made magician is Thomas Godbless (1105?-82) of Nottinghamshire. Although Godbless did spend some time with the Raven King, he had been practicing magic for years before is encounter."

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Les Petits Pirates

One of the six maps

Les Petits Pirates was created by GGJ Games and was an entry in the 2016 PnP Game Design contest. This print and play board game is for one to four players. Players are pirates and command three ships. Their mission is gather resources and gold while trying to prevent their opponents from doing the same.

There are three distinct phases of the game, an Action Selection, Action Assignment, and Resolution phase. Players will continue to play until one player has collected and buried 20 Gold.

There six five by eight inch maps to choose from, including one that is space themed (perhaps you can come-up with something more suitable than gold for this game.)

You will need to supply four dice per player, three of which are used to represent three ships and tokens for gold pieces. I had actually considered using 1/2000 scale ships, which might be a little too large for the five by eight inch playing map. We will see!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Another German Spy Thwarted

Map of the North Shields Reservoirs, And How to Cut Off the Water Supply, Prepared By the Spy John Barker

This seemly innocent letter had along with the roughly sketched map fell into the hand of John Jacox. The letter through careful examination was found to be in a German code which was decoded, later down in the dispatch.

"Berkeley Chambers, "Cannon Street, "London, E.C., "May 3rd, 1908.

"My dear John,

"I herewith enclose the interest in advance—four five-pound notes.

"Continue to act as you have done, and obtain orders wherever possible.

"Business just now, I am glad to say, leaves but little to be desired, and we hope that next year your share of profits may be increased.

"We have every confidence in this, you understand.

"Write to us oftener and give us news of your doings, as we are always interested in your welfare.

"It is unwise of you, I think, to doubt Uncle Charles, for I have always found him to be a man in whom one can repose the utmost confidence. He is, I believe, taking a house near Tynemouth.

"Everyone is at present well, but the spring in London is always trying. However, we are hoping for warmer weather.

"My wife and the children, especially little Charlie,

Frederick, and Charlotte—who is growing quite a big girl—send their love to you.

"Your affectionate cousin,

"Henry Lewis."

That letter, innocent enough upon the face of it, contained certain instructions to the spy, besides enclosing his monthly payment of £20.

The Decoded Message

"Read by the alphabetical instructions with which every German secret agent is supplied and which vary in various districts, the message it contained was as follows:

(Phrase I) I send you your monthly payment.

(Phrase 2) Your information during the past month is satisfactory.

(Phrase 3) Your service in general is giving satisfaction, and if it continues so, we shall at the next inspection augment your monthly payment.

(Phrase 4) We wish you, however, to send us more detailed notes, and report oftener.

(Phrase 5) Cease your observations upon Charles. We have what we require. Turn your attention to defenses at Tynemouth.

(Phrase 6) As you know, the chief (spring) is very difficult to please, for at the last inspection we were given increased work.

(Phrase 7) Remain in negotiation with your three correspondents—Charles (meaning the foreman, Rosser), Charlotte, and Frederick—until you hear further. You may make them offers for the information."

Spies of the Kaiser-Plotting the Downfall of England, William Le Queux

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Secret of the Silent Submarine

The following information was collected by Leon Karff, a German spy, and was luckily intercepted by Raymond and Jacox who were working together to isolate and disrupt the workings of the German spy agencies.

"Report by Leon Karff, late foreman-fitter at Kiel Dockyard, on Submarine 'F 2,' now building in Shed No. 4, Portsmouth Dockyard.

"This boat would appear to me to be of about 700 tons displacement when complete, possibly rather over. She is, as far as I am able to measure, about 180 feet long with an extreme beam a little forward of amidships of 20 feet. She is fitted with three propeller shafts with three small four-bladed propellers on each. As she is provided with what appear to me to be some kind of turbine engines, I imagine that the centre shaft is for going astern only. The propellers on this shaft seem to be attached in such a way that they could be 'feathered' by suitable gearing on board so as not to retard the vessel's way when going ahead. The engines of this boat are of a type which I have never before seen. I imagine that they are a combination of the new 'gas-producer' engine and the turbine system, the explosion of[55] the combined gas and air being split up and passing into the turbine through a number of different channels simultaneously. This would be a very economical system if the necessary power can be obtained, and would be much safer for use below than petrol engines.

"The boat is evidently intended to operate a good deal in an 'awash' position, for there is fairly thick armour-plating over the greater part of the upper side of the bow, while the fore end of the superstructure is made of two 6-inch Krupp steel plates meeting at an acute angle, and so forming a kind of stem when the boat is moving in this way. The space enclosed between these two plates is evidently intended to be used as the conning-tower. Here there are a periscope, steering-wheel, voice-tubes, and everything necessary for the control of the vessel. There are two horizontal propellers or fans, which seem to be driven by electricity derived from an installation of accumulators, and which are certainly intended to secure horizontal immersion, so the vessel will not plunge or dive, but immerse herself horizontally by means of these propellers, which, by the way, work in vertical shafts running completely through the boat, one forward and the other aft, as was the case in the Nordenfeldt, Waddington, and other early submarines.

"Forward there is an air-lock and diving-chamber, as in the 'Lake' boats, so that divers can get in and out of the vessel whilst under water. It would also afford a means of escape for the crew in the case of accident. This is further provided for by a detachable boat or caisson at the after end of the superstructure capable of holding ten men, I should say, or[56] possibly a dozen. There are also appliances which I suppose are telephone buoys for communicating with the surface. There are six torpedo tubes fitted, one forward, one aft, and the others two on either broadside. And there seems to be provision for six other torpedoes of the 18-inch type.

"There is a long rudder for ordinary steering, and four horizontal ones or planes which are placed abreast the horizontal screws and which, I imagine, act automatically in conjunction with them, as they seem to gear up with the shafts for these propellers. There is a big safety detachable weight which fits loosely into a recess amidships, and four broad wheels with ball bearings which do not fold up as in the 'Lake' boats, but always protrude nearly half their diameter. After all they would not obstruct her way when water-borne more than a keel—or very little more. They are quite independent and unconnected with the interior of the vessel, which while resting on them would receive forward impetus from her propellers. In the 'awash' position she would offer a very small and almost invulnerable target."

Chapter 2 The Secret of the Silent Submarine, Spies of the Kaiser-Plotting the Downfall of England, William Le Queux

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Spells of Summoning

Over the centuries in Merry Olde England there have been thousands of spells of summoning created, but few perfected. Paris Ormskirk a schoolmaster from the village of Clerkenwell wrote several expositions on magic. He may not have brought anything new to the profession, but he was very diligent and compiled a list of thousands of spells of summoning. These spells were, to the best of Ormskirk’s ability, shifted through and attempted to cast these spells. Eventually, a spell of summoning created by Ormskirk, became very popular. It was this spell that Jonathan Strange perfected and used to bring Maria Absalom into his dream.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Peril of England-A War of Words

"Who Is Right?

Sir Edward Grey

In the House of Commons, March 29, 1909.

'We have been informed verbally, but quite definitely, that Germany will not accelerate her naval programme of construction, and will not have thirteen ships of the Dreadnought type, including cruisers, till the end of 1912.'

Prince Buelow

In the Reichstag, March 29, 1909.

'Great Britain has never made any proposals which the German Government regarded as a suitable basis for negotiations. Germany regards the question of limitation of armaments as outside the range of practical politics.'

What The Kaiser Says:

His Imperial Majesty the German Emperor declared:—

'The prevailing sentiment among large sections of the middle and lower class of my own people is not friendly to England.—Daily Telegraph, October 28, 1908.'"

Spies of the Kaiser-Plotting the Downfall of England, William Le Queux

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A Cryptic Memorandum

Chapter II: The Secret of The Silent Submarine, Spies of the Kaiser, Plotting the Downfall of England, William Le Queux

The story portrays an alternative history of England. The year is 1909. Authors like Le Queux were writing these pieces of fiction to try to get the public and government officials to see menace of Kaisers Germany. This story’s message is similar to a few others that I have read. One in particular, The Riddle of the Sands, by Erskine Childers is of, about the same time period.

Other Titles by William Le Queux

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sierra West 1/87 (HO) Detail Parts

Sierra West is a maker of fine craftsmen style structures for model railroaders in HO and O gauges. It seems that I should have purchased more than three of these highly detailed castings. At one time, Sierra West used to sell a whole line of these resin detail parts. Although they still cast their own castings, these casting are only offered in their craftsmen kits.

Workbench with Shelves

1 inch wide by 7/8 inch tall

Shelves full of Stuff

1 by 1 inch

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Book Two: Jonathan Strange (preamble)

“Can a magician kill a man by magic?” Lord Wellington asked Strange. Strange frowned, he seemed to dislike the question. ‘I suppose a magician might’, he admitted, ‘but a gentleman never wood.’ ”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

I have read the first part of this nine hundred plus page novel and have just started the second part or book two and what a glorious read it has been…

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Pineapple Ale-House-February 1808

“The Pineapple had once been the refuge and hiding place of thief’s and murderers. The current owner thought that its notorious past was somehow advantageous to his business and decorated the walls of his establishment with pictures of those criminals that had been hung and of those who had yet to be. You entered the establishment from a street door and then down three greasy steps. These steps led to a gloomy parlor decorated as previously mentioned.

The Pineapple had its own character and aroma. Its character from the assorted throng that frequented the place. Many were without scruples and notorious characters. The aroma was a combination of the smell of stale tobacco and spilt ale, the natural fragrance of its unwashed cliental, and from the unholy stink of the Fleet River, which had been used as a sewer for countless years. The Fleet ran beneath the Pineapple’s foundations and the Pineapple was generally supposed to be sinking into it.”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Saturday, September 9, 2017

More of the Raven Kings Three Kingdoms

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell heading toward the castle “Last Hope” in the land of Faerie, BBC’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, TV series.

It has previously been reported of the Raven Kings three kingdoms. I intend to expand on that theme. The Raven King did undeniably rule over three kingdoms. “Firstly, the Raven King ruled over the Kingdom of Northern England, which included Cumberland, Northumberland, Durham, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, and part of Nottinghamshire. The other two kingdoms were often referred to as the kings ‘Other Lands’, which included part of Faerie and a country on the far side of Hell, sometimes referred to as the ‘Bitter Lands’.”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Friday, September 8, 2017

My Lament for Barcelona Universal Models

How often have I visited the Barcelona Universal Models blog to view their new offerings? How long have I searched for these offerings via my regular and un-regular channels all without the satisfaction of my being able to purchase a single set?

Recently I did find a few of these BUM models being offered online and ordered a copy of BUM’s 1/72 New Zealand army figure set w/tank and gun. There are forty-four pieces including twenty-eight figures, two razor-wire sections, a tank and a field gun of some sort. The figures are relatively flash free and I look forward to assembling the tank and gun and put these soldiers to task.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Ravings of Vinculus

Vinculus is the magician of Threadneedle Street, a theatrical magician. He has broken into Mr. Norrel’s home and has found his way to Mr. Norrel’s library. He startles Mr. Norrel with the following fragmented quote from the book of the Raven King.

“I reached out my hand, thought and memory flew out of my enemies heads like a flock of starlings; my enemies crumpled like empty sacks.

I came to them out of the mist and rain. I came to them in dreams at midnight; I came to them in a flock of ravens that filled a northern sky at dawn. When they thought themselves safe I came to them in a cry that broke the silence of a winter wood.”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke