Tag Archives: Pop Culture

“He ain’t a hard man to track. He leaves dead men wherever he goes.”

Time for another entry in my Year of Pop Culture. The Outlaw Josey Wales is, of course, one of Clint Eastwood’s classic Westerns; one I have seen many times and one I return to often. It’s the story of a Confederate farmer whose family is murdered by Union troops, so he joins a militia to kill Northerners. Eventually, the militia is convinced to surrender. Josey refuses, of course, and his fellow militia men are all massacred after laying down their arms.

Josey becomes an outlaw; the target of bounty hunters and the duplicitous Union regiment known as the “Redlegs” that was responsible for the massacre of his men. He finds a woman, settles down on a ranch…but only for a little while. Eventually, the Redlegs arrive and lay siege to the ranch in a bloody climactic battle.

The Outlaw Josey Wales has some of the best lines in bad-ass movie history, from “You gonna pull those pistols, or just whistle Dixie?”, to the iconic “Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’, boy.” It’s one of my favorite Westerns of all time, and if for some reason you haven’t seen it, you should.

Reaper does this “Jeb Lawson” miniature in their Chronoscope line, and it’s a pretty good likeness, almost as if they did that on purpose. It’s sculpted by James van Shaik.

Here’s my paint job.

And that’s one more for the Pop Culture theme of 2022.

I guess that’s a good thing, because I haven’t done shit on my Deep Space Nine model for the Season of Scenery yet…

Droogs

Continuing the Year of Pop Culture (thought I forgot about that, huh?), may I present Alex and his three droogs: Pete, Georgie and Dim; the protagonists of A Clockwork Orange (the book) and Clockwork Orange (the film). Clockwork Orange is best known to the general public through the infamous 1971 Stanley Kubrick film starring Malcolm McDowell as Alex, a role that would forever typecast him as a psychotic villain (although Caligula didn’t help his career much in that regard, either). Erudite folks like me have also read the novel by Anthony Burgess. Watching the film is difficult for many people as it originally received an X rating due to the violence and strong sexual content. Burgess himself seems to have hated it; I can only speculate the reason may be because there was not enough distance between the character and the audience. We were able to watch, in graphic detail without the shielding of words, every horrific act Alex and his friends visited upon others. Despite Burgess’s feelings, the film is quite faithful to the book; at least to the version of the book that was, until about 25 years ago or so, the only version available in America. Until then, to the rest of the world, A Clockwork Orange ended quite differently. Now the American versions contain the elusive “twenty-first chapter”, which finally offers the complete tale of Alex.

In an unspecified future just around the corner, Alex and his small band commits acts of astounding depravity and atrocity on a nightly basis: rape, robbery, assault and battery are all activities they enjoy. They’re really not nice guys. Eventually, their crimes lead to murder, and Alex is sent away to prison, where he undergoes aversion therapy to cure him of his savage impulses. Alex is given a slow-acting drug in his food and then made to watch pornographic and/or violent films depicting the kinds of things he enjoyed; i.e. rape, beatings and general mayhem. The drug makes him severely nauseous; soon he begins to associate the sickness with the activities he watches on film. After a while, Alex can’t even think about the things he used to enjoy without becoming sick. He is pronounced cured, and set free.

The weird thing is that although we (hopefully) deplore Alex’s behavior, we eventually come to care about him and identify with him. Alex actually becomes likeable; no mean feat considering his character. And so, after his release, it’s with something like sympathy that we watch the “new” Alex receive his comeuppance at the hands of those he has wronged, powerless to fight back against they who would have their revenge.

The question at the end of both the book and the film is, “Is Alex cured?” The Kubrick film leaves that open to speculation, but the clear implication is no. The complete book, on the other hand, gives a definite answer. If you’ve only seen the film, you haven’t got the whole story.

The appearance and outfits of Alex and his droogs differed a great deal between the book and the movie. In the book, the gang wore black outfits with white cravats, and each one wore a unique novelty codpiece. In the film, they wear white boiler suits with unique hats. In addition, three of the droogs wear some kind of makeup: Dim wears lipstick, Pete wears eyeshadow under his left eye, and Alex has his iconic false eyelash on his right eyelid.

These miniatures by Crooked Dice are clearly representations of the character depictions in the movie, and like most Crooked Dice miniatures, they’re awesome. Painting them was very easy, as you might expect. Prime the boiler suits white, wash black and highlight. I I tried to include the makeup as well.

Despite the subject matter, Clockwork Orange is one of my favorite films with one of the greatest soundtracks in movie history. I first encountered it in college as a Psychology student; I had to watch it (and other highly controversial films, like Titticut Follies) while studying aversion therapy and negative reinforcement techniques. I’ve probably seen it about a dozen times, with the most recent viewing a little over a year ago on Netflix.

Up next: More Pop Culture!

The Cimmerian

For no one, no one in this world can you trust. Not men. Not women. Not beasts. This you can trust.”

Conan’s father was right, of course. Blades before bros, babes and beasts every time. Sadly, he was just another wise man who was torn apart by dogs. Such is life.

The year of pop culture continues! For my character of the month, painted for Tom’s #paintanadventuringparty over on Instagram, I decided to paint a barbarian. Not just any barbarian: THE barbarian. I present: Conan of Cimmmeria, born on a battlefield, destined to wear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow.

This is “The Cimmerian (FTF07)” (also labeled as “barbarian with sword”), a classic Ral Partha sculpt from 1984. I have probably had it since then, but I never got around to painting him until now. Wish I knew who sculpted it. My best guess would be Dennis Mize.

I could have just painted him bare-chested (as is the barbarian’s wont); but I was inspired by the body paint from Conan’s raid on Thulsa Doom’s temple, arguably the coolest part of the Conan the Barbarian film (a movie with a LOT of cool parts).

One of the best things about the movie is the amazing soundtrack; which I absolutely listened to while painting the miniature. It’s so great!

I made sure to add the blood splatter from Conan’s many kills; but I seem to have forgotten to add blood to his sword. Maybe he oiled it just before the slaughter.

Here, Conan explores a temple and discovers a strange inscription. What could it mean?

So, to recap: this miniature ticks a lot of boxes for me: he’s my character of the month, my entry for Tom’s IG challenge, he’s a pop culture miniature AND he’s old-school lead!

(Drops mic)

“Would you kindly…?”

It’s pretty tough to overstate how much of a big deal Bioshock was when it was released back in 2007. It still holds up today; both graphics and gameplay, and as for the story, forget about it. Your plasmid-fueled trip through the failed, Randian underwater dystopian city of Rapture is a tale well worth revisiting and replaying, even fifteen years and two sequels later. Scary, thrilling, darkly comic and somewhat grotesque, Bioshock is art.

Among the many adversaries you will face as you traverse the leaking, seaweed-choked halls and passages of Rapture, the most iconic (and deadly) are the Big Daddies. There is no escaping them. You will meet them, you will kill them; and you will most certainly be killed by them. Many, many times.

The Big Daddy’s sole purpose is to protect the Little Sisters, who are the main source of ADAM, the raw material substance which allows genetic alteration. In game terms, this is how your character gets cool abilities and powers. Little Sisters were once normal young girls who have been altered to reclaim ADAM from the corpses of genetically altered people. When meeting a Little Sister (after killing her Big Daddy first), you have the option to either Save her or Harvest her. Saving her returns her to normal and grants you some ADAM; harvesting her kills her and grants you a lot more.

I’ve been called heartless before; but I save all the Little Sisters. (I’m not a fucking monster.)

The Little Sisters call the Big Daddies “Mr. Bubbles”. For my “Mr. Bubbles”, I chose this “hardsuit” miniature from Recreational Conflict. It’s about as close to a Big Daddy as you can get.

After priming it black, I based it with Citadel Tin Bitz before layering on Vallejo Bronze. I didn’t like the look of it (too uniformly metallic), so I washed it in Vallejo Sepia Tone. This gave it a really nice, warm color. I highlighted up with more Bronze and finally, Citadel Shining Gold. I also used some Brown Ink to line the seams, and some Citadel Typhus Corrosion to grime it up a bit.

I fucked up on the base, though. I should have mounted him on a Tech Base, but instead I based him on a 40mm MDF disk, which I then covered in sand. I couldn’t remove him without having to assemble him all over again (screw that), so I did what I could. Big Daddies can go underwater just fine, so I added a starfish made out of Magic Sculpt (I stole the idea from Matt’s zombie shark base; thanks, Matt!). The seaweed is the remains of a Heroclix cape from a DC Hypertime Hawk model. I used the main body when making Blue Diamond for Forgotten Heroes, way back in 2017! I never throw anything away. ( Looking back on those Liberty Legion conversions, I realize I hadn’t yet admitted to myself that I can’t see shit anymore. If I was doing them today, I think they’d look a lot better, thanks to my magnifiers. Maybe I should revisit them…)

For the seashell, I took a trip to Horseneck Beach in Westport, Massachusetts. Actually, it’s not much of a trip, considering I live within spitting distance. Going to the beach just to get a shell reminded me how much I take living near the ocean for granted. Although I’ve lived here all my life, I hate going to the beach in summer, because I hate people, I burn easily, and I don’t like to swim in salt water. Horseneck Beach is also good for a great white shark sighting or two every couple of years; but just because you don’t see any on a given year doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. (They are.) I usually get bored and annoyed very quickly when I’m forced to go to the beach; but days like this, when it’s overcast and windy and I’m the only one in sight…I could get used to this.

Up next, a return to Trek!

“Arioch! Arioch! Blood and souls for my lord Arioch!”

Continuing the year of Pop Culture, I figured I’d dip in the world of Fantasy Literature; a genre that grabbed me tightly as a kid and has never once let go.

Of all of Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion material (and there’s a shitload of it), the only tales I read were his Elric stories. I just reviewed the chronology, and it seems I’ve read most of the main sequence of tales up until the end; but I didn’t read much of Moorcock’s later Elric works that took place at uncertain points in the main timeline. I have a weird relationship with Elric of Melnibone. I read the stories at an age where I didn’t have the maturity to fully appreciate them. I recall loving almost everything about the character of Elric (albino sorcerer with a soul-sucking sword) but hating every story he was in. I found them incredibly boring. (I think I need to reread them, but I got rid of my old paperbacks a long time ago. I just found out they’re going for $75 bucks each on eBay. What the actual fuck?!)

Elric is by far the most famous of Moorcock’s characters; the original emo anti-hero. He was angst-ridden and emotionally tortured long before it was cool. He’s the disaffected prince of a dying race who sees the end coming and laments it. He’s a drug-dependent sorcerer who makes deals with demons because…why not? Eventually, he finds Stormbringer, a magical sword of great power that gives him vitality and formidable fighting skills and feeds upon the souls of its victims. Carrying a sword like that is never a good idea, and (spoiler alert) Stormbringer is ultimately responsible for the destruction of everything Elric cares about.

I’ve had this miniature for a long time. It was in one of the first orders I made when I got back into miniature painting around 12 years ago. Bronze Age had the John Carter stuff, so I added this figure to it and it’s sat there in the blister all this time. This is the “Elf Anti-Hero”. He (deliberately, I think) looks a bit like a certain albino Eternal Champion, so that’s who I painted him as.

As stated above, he’s also only one incarnation of Moorcock’s Eternal Champion archetype, which is so fucking confusing I’ll just reproduce what Wikipedia says about it here: (The Eternal Champion is…) an appointed paladin of Balance who is bound to exist in each and every world and age of the Multiverse, so that Law and Chaos are perpetually kept in check. There are about thirty different Eternal Champion characters, and I couldn’t give a shit about any of them. I get the feeling it’s probably somewhat incomprehensible, and although I would give Elric another go to see if my opinion has changed with maturity, I just don’t have the energy to really get into anything else. To be honest, looking at the sheer volume of characters and series, I’d have to be way more of a Moorcock fan than I am (which is to say not much) to even attempt it.

Still, the fact remains that Moorcock has influenced a lot of writers who have come after; and was a huge influence on the development of Dungeons & Dragons. In fact, the characters from Elric were originally included in the very first printing of Deities & Demigods, along with Cthulhu and other Lovecraftian entities, before Chaosium got the rights to both and put out their own games (Stormbringer and Call of Cthulhu, respectively).

He’s definitely pop culture, that’s for certain.

I’m trying to publish a bit more regularly; so if you are a casual visitor to Dead Dick’s Tavern, don’t be surprised to find more than one post waiting for you on your next visit. I make no promises about how long that will last; but for now I have a few things in the pipeline to get to. Up next is likely a return to the Enterprise-D, for what I hope will be the last prose post before I actually start the gaming part…

“I step on necks.”

Continuing with my year of pop culture, I decided to finally paint a set of miniatures I’ve had for at least ten years, “Action Dude” by East Riding Miniatures; from their Golgo Island line (which I now think is owned, or at least managed, by Hasslefree).

“Action Dude” is a set of four miniatures who are obviously NOT Chuck Norris. First up is Chuck as Colonel James Braddock, from his “Missing in Action” film franchise. In the first film, Braddock, a Vietnam veteran, returns to Vietnam to free POWs who are still being held captive (kinda like Rambo). In the second film, the timeline flashes back to when Braddock himself was a POW; and shows how he escapes (by killing all the guards, and beating Soon Tek Oh, the commandant, in hand-to-hand combat). The third film, Braddock returns once again to Vietnam; this time to find and rescue his son whom he unknowingly fathered while over there the first time. Here’s the trailer for Missing in Action III, in which Braddock delivers the greatest movie line ever, which is also the title of this post.

Next is Chuck as Colt, from Way of the Dragon (released as Return or the Dragon here in the US). This one doesn’t end well for Action Dude; but then again, he is fighting Bruce Lee, so that’s to be expected. Enjoy this classic fight, and remember to manscape every once in a while, lest someone pull out a fistful of your manly, 1970’s wookie-like chest hair.

Invasion U.S.A. is hands-down one of the shittiest action movies ever to come out of the 80’s, and that is truly an exceptional distinction. Chuck, as Matt Hunter, wears a lot of denim in this movie and carries twin Mac-10 submachineguns in a shoulder rig that he likes so much, he doesn’t bother to take the guns out of it while he kills people with them. The movie features Richard Lynch who really stretches his acting muscles (and injures himself terribly) when he attempts to affect a Russian accent. He’s the leader of an “army” made up of international terrorists and other assorted assholes who would, conceivably, succeed in invading the USA if not for Action Dude himself. Watch the trailer below. It looks like this terrorist army is made up of about 87 guys, against the entire US military. We’re fucked!

Finally, here’s Chuck from arguably his most famous role, “Walker, Texas Ranger”. I never watched Walker regularly, but I’ve seen enough episodes to know that they follow a pretty standard formula, much like the old A-Team or Incredible Hulk TV series. In those, there would usually be two fights per episode, and at least one of them would end up with Mr. T or the Hulk throwing someone in slow-motion over a car or into some collapsible set pieces. Substitute a patented Chuck Norris roundhouse kick for the throw, and you pretty much have the same thing. The best part of Walker, Texas Ranger is that Chuck Norris sang the theme song. If you didn’t know that, you can hear it for yourself below. And you’re welcome.

That’s a heapin’ helpin’ of pop culture for ya this time around; but I’m just getting started! The year is still young.

Quigley Down Under

I have decided that 2022 is going to be the year of pop culture here at Dead Dick’s Tavern. Over time, I have accumulated many miniatures, both officially licensed and not, of characters from film, video games, comics, literature and cartoons. I had a dive through my pile of shame the other night and I pulled a bunch out, and this year I’m making them a priority.

First up: Matthew Quigley from one of my favorite Westerns: Quigley Down Under (1990). For those who haven’t seen it, here’s a quick synopsis sans any major spoilers: Matthew Quigley (Tom Selleck) is an American sharpshooter of some renown, and he is hired by Marston, a British land baron (Alan Rickman, who is simply awesome in this role) for some unspecified shootin’ work on his huge ranch in the Australian Outback. Quigley packs up his Sharps Big Fifty and makes the ocean voyage all the way to Australia only to discover that Marston wants him to hunt and kill Aborigines. This does not sit well with Quigley, and the two men have what’s charitably termed a “falling out.” If you want to know the rest, watch the movie. Or just look it up on Wikipedia.

Tom Selleck is one of those actors I rarely think about; but when I see him in something, especially in a Western, I find I like him a lot. He’s outstanding as Quigley. Alan Rickman plays Marston like a British Hans Gruber, menacing but with a bit of humor. The film also features Laura San Giacomo (also great) and a very young Ben Mendelsohn. It’s really good.

This is Reaper’s “Batt Ridgeley, Sharpshooter”; from their Chronoscope line. I would say the resemblance is a bit uncanny, wouldn’t you?

Perhaps. But it’s Batt Ridgeley. Not Matt Quigley. Ahem. Wink.

Here he is, all painted up by me. I kinda like how he came out.

This miniature has once again kindled my interest in Old West gaming. I have more than enough miniatures and scenery painted and ready to go, so I really have no excuse. Just have to decide on a set of rules.

A nice shot of the Sharps Big Fifty. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, it’s well worth tracking down.

Back soon with something for Fembruary, I think…