The Story of Loafing Friday

Americans have it all wrong. The day after Thanksgiving now has this commercial connotation of Black Friday. Piffle. I wouldn’t go near a commercial venture today unless they were giving away free packs of Perry AWI figures, and maybe not even then. Since that isn’t happening today, or any other day (sigh), I’m staying home. Like most Americans, I am off until Monday. Saturday and Sunday I have plenty to accomplish on my calendar, but today I’m determined to do almost nothing that isn’t restful, relaxing and fun.

This means painting. I’m gonna work on the last company of the Louisiana Regiment, and take some pics as I go.

It’s also going to be a movie day. I picked four movies to watch between now (about 10 AM) and the time I go to bed (about 10 PM.) My goal is to have an awesome day, doing little that isn’t fun, and a little lazy, and try to finish my 11 figure unit of Spaniards.

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My first movie was 1964’s Zulu. I love this movie; it’s absolutely one of my favorites. Based on the 1879 defense of Rorke’s Drift by about 100 British soldiers against 4,000 Zulu warriors, the movie is 2 hrs. 16 min. of intense action. The performances by Stanley Baker, Michael Caine, Nigel Greene, and others give the movie considerable life. It’s almost the perfect movie about battle because it’s scope is limited to such a small space with a handful of defenders. We get to know the characters well. The movie is aided by a strong score by John Barry, and stirring narration by Richard Burton.

The movie has flaws. The first is the treatment of the Zulus. Though the movie does begin with a look glimpse inside Zulu culture and a tone of respect, the native defenders of Zululand rapidly become little more than faceless, menacing, bullet catchers. I know, very 21st century PC perspective. The other flaw is that the movie is not filmed on location. That is a bit of a problem because the actual mission station sat on a rock ledge that gave a tremendous height advantage to the defenders, and terrifically complicated the attackers’ challenge. To be sure, the British were under intense pressure, but the Zulus lost as many as a 1,000 soldiers, while Chard’s command suffered 15 dead and 10 seriously wounded.

Even so, Zulu is a fine movie, one of my top five of all time. I chose it first because it fit into my time slot well. The movie would be finished just as the Apple Cup came on.

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Unfortunately we can’t control what we can’t control. About half an hour into the movie, as Jack Hawkins is being locked up for interfering with defense preparations, I got a phone call from an old friend. It was great to catch up and make plans. Unfortunately it also took 22 minutes and messed up my carefully constructed schedule. It also distracted me and led astray enough so that by the time I was done dorking around on the computer, I had enough time to finish the first half of Zulu before the big game came on. The attacks had begun, but the hospital was still intact.

At 12:30 my figures had progressed to this:

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Things are coming along. I’ve finished all the shoes and completed the buff belts and haversack (you can’t see) and a brown strap that runs along the belting. In the background you also notice I’ve popped the grenadiers off their Popsicle sticks and glued them to their individual bases.

12:30, time for the Apple Cup. I cop to being a Husky fan. I loved the Don James era, and respected Jim Lambright. I attended school there-not as an undergrad, but I did some post baccalaureate work there and my MA is from UWT. It’s been tough to love them since Neuheisel became coach. But I like Sarkisian and a lot of the Husky players. They’ve had a tough year and their losses were against good teams. I figured that if they could run the football and keep Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday off the field, they’d win. If not, things would at best be interesting, and at worst quite ugly. WSU is improving, offensively and defensively. These ain’t Paul Wulf’s Cougars.

I started the game painting in my den. But by the middle of the second quarter, and things going decidedly awry, I moved my stressed out self to the living room, plopped myself in my recliner and watched the rest of the game there. During commercials, I took care of the last of the Thanksgiving clean up. I ordered 24 AWI British guards from Fife and Drum Miniatures, and I made an order for Litko bases.

By half time I was pretty discouraged. WSU was handling the UW running game, and Keith Price turned the ball over twice. There were times when Halliday looked very sharp, and the Cougs had a halftime lead. In frustration, during the break I moved stuff from the garage out to our new storage shed.

After the halftime break the world seemed to right itself a bit. Bishop Sankey started to get some telling run yardage, and Keith Price connected on some key throws. But it wasn’t until Halliday tossed his second interception late in the fourth quarter that I felt confident enough to head back into the den to wrap up Zulu-Hook’s ferocious defense, burn the hospital, slaughter the Zulus in front of the redoubt, Bromhead is ashamed-and plan for the next movie.

By the time the movie was over, the Spaniards moved along a good deal.

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I’ve finished all the belting, the cartridge boxes, bayonet scabbards and sword cases.

Time to take a break for dinner. Thanksgiving leftovers, of course, one of the best parts of Thanksgiving. Quick too.

Time for episode two of Loafing Friday Movie Madness, and I’ve chosen Khartoum as my next flick.

I have a special fondness for Khartoum. My parents took me to see this in the theater in 1966, and I’ve always loved it. It’s the story of General Charles “Chinese” Gordon sent to evacuate Egyptians from that Sudanese city in the face of a massive Islamic uprising. Led by the charismatic Mahdi, the tribesmen promise death to those who oppose them. Gordon was sent, without the promise of aid, to get all foreign nationals out of Khartoum, and the movie is the story of his ultimate failure to do so and his death.

They don’t make movies like Khartoum anymore. Shot in a variety of locations, with plenty of action, from the slaughter of William Hicks’ column in the beginning of the movie, the attack on the Camel Corps desert column at Abu Klea, to the final assault on Khartoum itself, the movie is an example of 60’s epics at their finest.

Yet the real strength of the movie, and what sets it apart from most of Khartoum‘s ilk, is the performances. With Charlton Heston as Gordon and Lawrence Olivier as the Mahdi, there is a natural struggle between two outsized egos. Add Ralph Richardson’s role as the perpetually flummoxed Prime Minister William Gladstone, and there is more than just scenery and shoot ’em up to draw you into this film. Add to that Frank Cordell’s magnificent, if occasionally bombastic score, and the 2 hr. 11 minute movie flies by.

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As I explained, things don’t always go according to plan. My friend Tim called to check in on my recent run of bad luck. As usual, we discussed a wide range of topics, including the Apple Cup, WSU (he’s an alum), Christmas, and books we’d like to read. Our phone conversations are never brief. But this was really important because I got a superb idea for what to get him for the holiday. Unfortunately, it also meant dashing out of the house to Target to take advantage of a Black Friday special.

Alas I broke my own Loafing Friday rules. Thankfully I found what I needed right away, and was able to get in and out in about 20 minutes.

I dashed back home, watched the Nile fall, Khartoum assaulted and Gordon killed by about 9:30. Unfortunately that was about all I had energy for.

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I didn’t get done with my unit, but I did finish a lot. Tomorrow I’ll try to wrap up the shading, faces and other goodies I need to complete, as well as starting all the basing for the two Spanish units and the French knights. After that I’ll begin working on the first of two American dragoon units. I also didn’t finish my movie list.  I hoped to watch Breaker Morant and Gallipoli too.  So it goes.  Sometimes we just have to live with our choices.

Despite some plan changes that kept Loafing Friday from meeting the full lazy experience I envisioned, it was a pleasure.  I enjoyed the football game, saw some movies I love and made pretty good progress on the movies I wanted to see.  Beats Black Friday any day. This post was entirely done on my iPad and I apologize for the small pictures and any other goofiness that may have occurred as a result.

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One comment on “The Story of Loafing Friday

  1. Dean says:

    Very cool run down with great movie selections – How about 55 Days at Peking? Or possibly El Cid, The War Lord, or the Conqueror Worm/Witchfinder General :)! Love those too. The Spaniards look great – they could even be used in early-Penisular War scenarios, I think. Best, Dean

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