Yuletide Gifts – my boys get me

Yuletide Gifts – my boys get me

Yuletide gifts from my boys show that they understand how I think.

Yuletide Gifts - looking down at the Black Spire statue from Galaxy's Edge

The Black Spire statue from Galaxy’s Edge at WDW

Yuletide Gifts

My boys (LT Firstborn, USN, Ret, age 33, and CPA Kiddo, age 27) get my reading and fandom interests. Just like kids know their parents’ musical tastes because they heard it so much in the car or in the house, my boys know a lot about Lord of the Rings (LotR), Star Trek, and, naturally, Star Wars. They both consider themselves Star Wars fans over Star Trek. The Firstborn is the serious LotR geek. Both of them are Potter kids, and that’s their fandom.

Last Hurrah

Yuletide Gifts - the bottom of the Black Spire statue from Galaxy's Edge

The bottom of the Black Spire statue from Galaxy’s Edge

So, just before Yuletide, they made a Grand Tour of the theme parks in Orlando. While Kiddo is married, Dr. Branley is in the midst of her first year of Pediatrics residency. So, she didn’t mind terribly if her husband went off for a week. The boys explored just about everything from the Kennedy Space Center to Sea World to Univresal and The Mouse. They even drove over to Busch Gardens in Tampa, being the roller coaster kids they are.

Since Star Wars is one of their things, naturally they did everything there is to do in Galaxy’s Edge at Disney. Of course, they passed through the gift shops, where they encountered the “Black Spire Outpost” statue. What/where is “Black Spire?” From the Wookieepedia:

Black Spire Outpost, commonly known as Black Spire, was an outpost on the planet Batuu on the edge of the Outer Rim Territories. It was one of the last stops before Wild Space and the Unknown Regions. The outpost was named for the giant black trees that towered it.

It’s cool. I’m not up on the canon surrounding Galaxy’s Edge, but I love this spaceship hanger.

Visualizing with miniatures

yuletide gifts - Minas Tirith, from The Return of the King DVD Box Set.

Minas Tirith, the Tower of Guard. Statue from the deluxe box DVD set of the movie, “The Return of the King”

I’m a miniatures person. Messing around with 15mm Napoleonics, LotR, and Traveller RPG miniatures brings me joy. I’ve attempted to paint 54mm figures at various points. N Scale model railroading is a passion. So, the boys bring me home a miniature Millennium Falcon? I’m there. It’s just another part of the passion.

yuletide gifts - Minas Tirith, from The Return of the King DVD Box Set.

The “secret compartment” in the Minas Tirith statue

But there’s more to the story. Back in 2001, when the movie, “The Fellowship of the Ring” came out, the studio released a “deluxe DVD” set that included a set of statues of the Argonath, the Pillars of the Kings. Firstborn was 12 at the time. We were pursuing the nine Burger King figures of the Fellowship. We bought the Argonath. (He still has them.) Two years later, after the release of “The Return of the King,” they released a deluxe DVD set for that movie that included a statue of the city of Minas Tirith. We bought it! We knew what the third statue would be, and agreed he would keep the Argonath and I would get Minas Tirith. (The second movie’s statue was of Gollum. We passed on it.)

So, since 2003, I’ve had Minas Tirith on my desk. It (and the movie version of the city) are based on Alan Lee’s LotR paintings. The detail on both statue sets is incredible. And that’s where I go back to my love of miniatures.


Yuletide Gifts - looking down at the Black Spire statue from Galaxy's Edge

Looking down at the Black Spire statue from Galaxy’s Edge

It’s good to know they get me. No Old Spice. No gift card. They saw this Star Wars statue and figured, this works for Dad. I’ll always be proud of that.


“Annabel” by Sergey Gurskly, cross-posted to Eloquent Profanity.

"Annabel" by Sergey Gurskiy


This lady speaks to me! A young woman in a naval uniform, with walking stick and straight sword. The gloves and high boots make this a “walking out” uniform rather than something worn for a social event. The artist is Sergey Gurskiy.

Fantasy Navy

Annabel gives me Steampunk-y vibes. The style is Victorian, rather than Regency. The artist paints the uniform in a Continental style. While she’s clearly not wearing a British uniform, it’s subdued, in the Royal Navy style. Using a French or Russian uniform as the base would mean more gold lace.

I’m interpreting the epaulette in the British style. It rests on her left shoulder. That’s the position for a Master and Commander, rather than a Post Captain. An officer “made post” wore the single epaulette on the right.

Additionally, I don’t think Annabel is a wet-navy officer. I see this and think, she commands an airship. Maybe not a line-of-battle craft, but a small, nimble, patrol ship. Think HMS Hotspur, one of Hornblower’s early commands.

Android proportions

Annabel stands guard on my Google Pixel 4 phone. the portrait orientation fits better with the phone than a landscape monitor. In the style of a “duet” on TikTok, it would be fun to place this officer next to an airship of appropriate size. Then she can wind in and out of the sky, observing enemy positions and forces. She flies in the vanguard.

Of course, I have no idea if Mr. Gurskiy approves of such things. While TikTok’s TOS permits collabs, artists usually prefer to present their art as finished pieces.

Pixel 4

My Google Pixel 4 performs well. While Twitter acts up since the latest Android upgrade, other apps do just fine. Additionally, T-Mobile works fine for me, with the exception of Uptown New Orleans. That’s not the phone’s problem. The service just sucks up there. I think it’s one of the reasons I shy away from coffee shops in that neighborhood.


Keoma Calandrini “The Flesh Market”

Keoma Calandrini “The Flesh Market”

Below is a sneak peek of this content!

French Quarter musings - Keoma Calandrini "The Flesh Market" offers me a connection to New Orleans Keoma Calandrini "The Flesh Market" Occasionally, I encounter artwork online that gives me a mental connection to my city. This image is very much one of these. Keoma Calandini is a Brazilian artist who features his work on ArtStation. Cyberpunk French Quarter So much cyberpunk imagery invokes urban feels in Asian settings. At first glance, "The Flesh Market" does this. As I looked beyond some of the obvious components, this started looking more and more like a futuristic version of Bourbon Street. The neon signs and basic architecture of the buildings give me that Bourbon Street feel, particularly on the right side. Those columns...
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Plus-size models in fantasy art

plus-size models

The lack of plus-size models is one of the problems with posting Fantasy Art. There’s a distinct lack of variety in body types of the women depicted. We can talk about the preposterous costumes and such that some artists love to put sword-and-sorcery, or science fiction women characters in at another time. What you really don’t see are women who are size 16+ in this genre of art. The quote/meme above is a great example. The quote, scene, and woman are all inspiring and lovely, but the woman is your basic fitness-model build.

Plus-Size models: A Challenge

plus-size models

Here’s what I have in mind. If you come across any plus-size fantasy models let’s see them! Post pics here in comments, or on Facebook. If it’s copyrighted work, post a link to the artist’s website. If there are artists drawing bigger women on a regular basis as witches, faeries, angels, superheros, or any other SF/F characters, let’s recognize them, and I’ll feature them here, and on my author page on Facebook.

Fantasy Art should be inclusive

Now that I’m thinking about it, this may turn into a multi-part exercise. Women of color are also under-represented in fantasy art. I remember, a couple of months ago, someone shared an illustration of two dark-skinned women in a medieval fantasy setting. There were comments about how this was unacceptable, since dark-skinned women didn’t fit in a Northern European medieval setting. These comments ignored the fact that the image was fanatsy–the artist has license to do/draw whomever they choose. Naturally, I started thinking, now, how did these black women get into this castle? Teleport? Smuggled in by merchants? Disguised as Moorish warriors? OK, I digress, you get the idea. We’ll start with plus-sized women, and go from there.

Again, post submissions as comments here on Eloquent Profanity, or on Edward Branley’s Author Page.  Let’s have some fun and learn something as we go.