Review: Maximinus Thrax – From Common Soldier to Emperor of Rome – Paul N Pearson

Maximinus ThraxFrom Common Soldier to Emperor of Rome – Paul N Pearson
published by Pen & Sword
Pages: 296
ISBN: 9781473847033
Published: 24th August 2016

Maximinus Thrax, the Thracian, originally named Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus, was born circa 173 CE in Thrace and died in 238 CE, near Aquileia. He was the first soldier to rise through the ranks to become Roman emperor although his reign only lasted 3 years (235–238 CE). He was a Thracian tribesman “of frightening appearance and colossal size”. There were many feats of the strongman told about him and it was these strongman feats that brought him to the attention of emperor Severus. Maximinus was enlisted into the imperial bodyguard where he had a distinguished military career eventually achieving a senior command in the Roman invasion of Persia in 232 CE. Later he became emperor in a military coup. He was eventually ousted in a civil war pushed by the Senate against him.

I have been very much looking forward to my review copy of this arriving which, after a couple of redirects, finally found its way to me in the Philippines. I have been looking forward to this for a couple of reasons. One is that my knowledge of Rome is mostly based in the times of Augustus and earlier and second, I have been reading a fair bit of historical fiction of late set in the period of Rome in the second and third centuries CE. Harry Sidebottom’s series, Throne of the Caesars, is set in the reigns of Alexander Severus and Maximinus Thrax.

Pearson’s work is a narrative history of the life and times of Maximinus Thrax up to and past his assassination. It reads like a thriller, equipped as it is with various accounts of the treachery and assassination that were central to Roman politics.

Pearson covers the subject well, so well and in such an interesting manner that I am now looking for further reading concerning those times. The book itself is a great read and only real world time constraints (my day job) forced me to put it down at night.

My biggest surprise concerning Maximinus is that he has not been the subject of a movie yet.

I can thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who has in interest in these times. I can also thoroughly recommend it to those who you who don’t as I am sure after reading this volume you will be searching for more information about this interesting period.

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Quality Reading

Quality Reading at its best!
Quality Reading at its best!

One of the nice things about slipping back to Oz periodically is to catch up on some quality reading.

I did! Nine Phantom comics with 12 stories. That should keep me going until my next trip back to Australia!

As the bloke in Nambucca News Agent said, “no one used to buy these except me but now a lot of blokes come on and buy”.

“It’s the pictures”, I said!

Right – story number one about Mr Walker (*for Ghost who walks)

Merry Christmas

Ho, ho, bloody ho!
Ho, ho, bloody ho!

As Christmas Day has just slid past in Oz, at least on the East Coast, I thought I should get my Christmas Greetings out. Today was great, a nice relaxed day, large lunch, afternoon nap and now sitting in the cool of the evening and reflecting on the past year. More on that later.

Today, let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe, happy New Year. As for me, I promise never again to spend nearly 6 hours with three gay hairdressers for a Christmas Party appearance. I certainly will never bleach my beard again … the smell was overpowering. The sparkling grey hair has turned to Ash Blonde so is due for the chop later this week.

Normal Thomo is resuming life as we know it!

And Another Year Passes at the Hole

Thomo’s Hole clicked over another year recently. Actually I have no idea what the exact birth date of the Hole is other than sometime back in 1996 or 1997 about the same time I went to work in Norway – 20 years ago!

I thought about the birth date over the weekend when I needed to re-register thomo.coldie.net for the domain within WordPress so that the link that has worked for probably 10 years or so kept driving to my blog. Whilst blogs are so last decade and I should now be snapchatting all this, the blog still has a good turnover of readers – around 100 views average every day and most come for more than one page. They come for a mix of reasons as well with popular posts and pages being the Korean’s that were captured by the Allies on the beaches of Normandy, the poem The Sad Tale of a Motor Fan, and the Idiot’s Guide to Painting American Civil War figures  to name three.

Whilst I have been particularly quiet over the last few months, I am starting to feel more relaxed and creative than I have been for a while so expect more updates soon. There are some book reviews pending which I will get to shortly and I am planning to actually get my brushes out on the weekend after the AFL Grand Final and put paint to figures again.

I did decide that as I had been so quiet and as another year passed in the Hole, I should adopt a new theme for Thomo’s Hole as the first step back and this is it.

So, stand by for the new and cruise back through the old, Th0mo the Lost is back!

Issues 1 to 6 of The Courier – For Sale

In cleaning up around the place I decided that I could part with issues 1 to 6 of the Courier. Having read these about 50 times each I thought it was time to pass them on to someone else. These date back over 35 years so are older than many wargamers these days. Read some early words from some of the grandfathers of wargaming.

These items are up on eBay – see http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/-/152077029572?

S-Model ZTZ-99A MBT 1/72 Unpacked

DSC02605
The Box – slightly damaged

I had plans of doing some painting today however one thing and another conspired to prevent that from happening. I therefore decided to have a look at the contents of a couple of the kits I had acquired recently – sort of get used to the contents before making them.

The Type 99 (Chinese: 99式; pinyin: Jiǔjiǔshì) or ZTZ99 is a Chinese third generation main battle tank (MBT). The tank entered People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) service in 2001. I originally thought the S-Model kit was expensive until I realised that the 1+1 on the box meant that there were two vehicles inside the box.

From Wikipedia: 99A, the Improved Type 99. Prototype testing was underway by August 2007 and believed to be the standard deployed Type 99 variant in 2011; upgradable from Type 99. The improved main gun may fire an Invar-type ATGM. It mounts 3rd generation (Relikt-type) ERA, and an active protection system. Has a new turret with “arrow shaped” applique armor. The larger turret may have improved armour and a commander’s periscope, and the tank may have an integrated propulsion system. Has a semi-automatic transmission.

Once I realised that the number of pieces in the box did not look quite so daunting.

DSC02606
The Sprues

Two sprues make up most of the parts. As with tanks, the first question is the tracks. Unlike older kits, the tracks here are moulded to some of the rollers with additional tracks to wrap around the idler and the drive sprocket.

The pieces are crisply moulded and appear as though they will be easy to remove from the sprue. I did not notice any flash with a quick look. At 1/72 scale this is a large tank, larger I think than the T-64 in my collection and that I will look at later.

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Photo-Etched Parts and the instruction sheet

Perhaps the best part though are the Photo-Etched parts. These are very finely modelled and will add very fine detail to various parts of the tank.

Currently the only users of the type 99A are the People’s Republic of China with 4 battalions of Type 99A (124 tanks) in service as of December 2015.

I am thinking to start this tank (or one of the other ones I purchased) this week.

Overall I like the model and I am looking forward to putting knife and glue to it.

I am also wondering what to do with the second vehicle.

BrisCon – Brisbane Wargame Convention

For a number of years there have been no real Brisbane based gaming conventions. This has changed finally with a resurrection of BrisCon.

What: BrisCon held by Brisbane Gaming Society
When: April 30, May 1 2016
Where: Brisbane Table Tennis Association hall http://www.brisbanetabletennis.org.au/
Details: www.briscon2016.com

The newly minted Brisbane Gaming Society is rebooting BrisCon on the May Day weekend THIS YEAR.

Saturday April 30 and Sunday May 1 are the days. More details can be found at the BrisCon website above but the fantastic Brisbane Table Tennis Center at Downey Park in Windsor has been secured for the convention. The organisers hope to grow it to a full three day convention over the next couple of years.

The organisers have noted that it is essentially being funded by the small executive committee of the Brisbane Gaming Society so could do with all the help they can get make this happen.

Also required are:

  • volunteers
  • Games Managers

Current competitions being organised are”

  • Queensland Team Yankee Championships along with a mid-war FOW comp
  • Drop Zone Commander competition

The organisers are looking for Games Managers for games such as:

  • ancients
  • X-Wing
  • 40k and/or WarMachine
  • Kings of War
  • Infinity
  • Bolt Action.

It would be great for specific clubs to get behind these games, and specific retailers or distributors to sponsor each one. If you want to be a Games Manager for one of these systems, or any other, please let the organisers know (briscongamesmanager@gmail.com). They are also looking for display and participation games. If you are a retailer then also drop them a line at brisbanegamingsociety@gmail.com as they would love to have retailers involved.

The center has a good cafeteria, and more than enough room for their first attempt where they are aiming to fill 50 tables of gamers, plus some demo/participation games, a second hand stall and retailer booths.

Check out their website and if you are planning on being near Brisbane at the end of April, pack your dice and some figures.

 

2014 – That’s a Wrap

Rather than engage in the simple vanity of letting Facebook decide what my 2014 was like, I thought I would tap it out for myself, warts and all.

2013 was a pretty good year with the exception of some medical issues for both myself and family. These issues left us at the end of 2013 fairly hale and hearty although with severely empty bank balances and well maxed credit cards. I had a melanoma removed … twice, The first time the dermatologist made a small incision and took the lesion off my back. That healed quickly. However, after several rounds of pathology and an argument with Australian Quarantine (it seems that Australian tissue is expected to come back into Australia still attached to the Australian), it was discovered that not enough tissue had been removed.

I went to a proper cutter this time who seems to have learned his knife skills from Mac the Knife (queue the music) which resulted in a great hunk of my back being removed (about a $30 steak worth). Literally, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Enter 2014

I returned to Singapore from Christmas in Australia. I was promptly retrenched. The company I had worked with for five years had decided that there was no role for Business Development any longer in Australia, Indonesia and a couple of other locations. OK, that’s a fair cop I suppose, even though that same company had pulled me out of two potential deals in 2013.

I asked about retrenchment benefits which are not required by law in Singapore but which are encouraged by the Ministry of Manpower. After two weeks and I guess a few thousand dollars spent on legal fees, I was told that they were not required by law to pay them and anyway, I was being dismissed for poor performance (even though I was the only sales staff to have received any bonus in the past 4 years and in any case, had been pulled from two deals by the company).

My company lied to me – at least one bald-faced lie so I pity any customers – how can you trust a company that lies outright to their staff’s face?

To compound the problem, they screwed up my final salary calculation twice, have short-paid all their Singapore staff over the past few years (and still owe me funds for that matter) as well as breached Singapore tax law (a matter that I am pursuing currently).

Anyway, I left. I had two good prospects for new work over the first six months unemployed – and ran second in both races. Both employers are currently regretting not having selected me as I understand.

Around July 2014 things started looking up and I started work with my current employer in August in Manila so we moved city and country. This has brought much relief to our abysmal financial position. The Philippines is, however, an exciting place to live and in our first three months here we’ve had the tail-end of a typhoon, two tropical rain depressions, an earthquake (which we barely noticed) and Mayon, a volcano near Legazpi City, and only 200 kms away, has been rumbling!

Over that period of February to July I came to truly appreciate my friends – those that found some temporary work for me, those that lent money against some temporary work I was doing, those that just lent funds with no real expectations of when and if I could ever repay them and those that helped out with the odd lunch, the odd beer and the odd session of morale building and those that paid me way over market rates to paint some soldiers. You all know who you are and understand how much I appreciate the help, burgers, figures to paint, whisky, beer, massages, more excesses of beer and tequila drinking, lots more Auchentoshan …. well, you get the idea. A bloke really would be hard pressed to find a better set of mates.

So, what of 2015?

Wargaming and painting I’ll cover in a separate post. Work-wise, consolidate this project in Manila and get the tasks complete. Ensure that 2015, 16 and 17 continue to be better than 2014 and trust to karma.

Thanks guys and gals for all the help, the love, the warmth. Now on to 2015!

Happy New Year!

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 42,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.