Design

Whose Ordered Plan?


The British say this is a work of madness:
An eccentric architectural plan thought to have been drawn by George III during his period of "madness" has been discovered at the British Library.
It is part of a huge collection of papers put together by the King during his reign from 1760 to 1820.
The loose piece of paper was tucked inside a volume about the Palaces of Hanover in Germany.
The diagram of a building was drawn in ink over a pencil outline "in a rather savage way", according to experts.
Peter Barber, head of map collections at the British Library, said the drawing, scribbled on the back of an order of service from St George's Chapel in Windsor, was "not an ordered plan".
It looks like someone was working out some ideas; if this is what madness looks like, oh well.

We have to remember that this was drawn with a crude implement, dipped in ink, and probably not in the best of light. It could have been a sketch to work out some ideas or it could have been the work of someone trying to amuse themselves. It could also have not been drawn by George III at all and it could have been done by a servant or someone at his direction.

Ed Emberley Taught Me How to Draw


The kicker is, I can't draw!

But I do have a good memory, and this is a page I haven't seen in nearly 35 years. It is the assembly line method of drawing vehicles, done by Ed Emberley.

Emberley was an innovated artist who illustrated kids books. That may sound simple enough, but the complexity of his work and the sophistication of his methods put him among the best of 20th Century's graphic artists.

Amazing stuff, and his work has been saved and restored.

Fury


The premise behind the new film Fury is ridiculous:
In the end, it's a poignant and tragic interlude, the best passage in the film, one that addresses the damage — psychological, emotional and physical — that war causes beyond the immediate casualties of battle. Its qualities also cast a shadow on the remainder of the film, which is occupied by a quasi-suicidal mission that Wardaddy is ordered to undertake by a captain (Jason Isaacs, sporting a thick New Yawk accent). The command is issued so quickly that it's not really clear why it's so important for Fury and three other tanks to rush behind enemy lines; the Americans know they're going to win, so the puzzlement over the reason for sending men into such peril at this stage impedes one's investment in the climactic action.
It's this part of the drama that most closely resembles Samuel Maoz's 2009 Israeli film Lebanon, which detailed what it's like for men to occupy a fetid, claustrophobic metal vault on wheels while being bombarded by hard-to-see foes. But plunking Wardaddy and his men down in such an impossible position doesn't feel right dramatically, and the sergeant's stoic reaction, while perhaps philosophically apt for the circumstances, introduces a note of windy grandiosity that mildly rubs the wrong way against everything that's come before.

It is a fact that we have glorified the tank and the Special Forces soldier. Neither win wars or battles. It is the infantry that has always mattered more, and it was the common infantryman, plodding along at a slow walk, that ground down the enemy. Hollywood can't stop showing us tanks; how many anti-tank guns appear in this film and are they accompanied by tank destroyers, assault guns, and horses? What you would have found on these battlefields are numerous horses and support vehicles. The vaunted German blitzkrieg was a propaganda myth and their army went to war with horses.

Tanks did not fight without infantry for very long. By 1945, an American tank platoon or company would be supported by infantry; any functioning German tanks that it would encounter would outclass them almost instantly. Such encounters were rare because the Germans could not use their own roads in the daytime. Their rail system was paralyzed. The German ingenuity with anti-tank weapons was also well known--without infantry, a tank would be a useless, riddled mess if it ever managed to encounter the enemy. I saw that the Germans were in camouflage--good for them. Where did they ever think to get so many healthy young men for one unit? Ah, they were SS troops--easier to demonize and destroy. Fair enough.

In the trailer for Fury, you can see a company of smartly attired Germans marching in close ranks--impossible by that stage of the war because of relentless air sorties and the logistical breakdown of Germany's military. There were still weapons being cranked out in small factories all over the country but the manpower was severely lacking. Many of the units defending the country were Volksturm formations, consisting of boys and old men, and this is a detail that Fury gets right. There were few, if any, crack units left in any shape to carry out counterattacks or assaults. Defensive formations were far more likely, but the Germans were surrendering wherever they could at that point.

Many of the historical details seem accurate to me, but the actual combat is what's wrong--the need for a single tank to do what an infantry company should have done is what stands out.  What I've seen so far indicates a film built around needed to create a plot without bothering to figure out that historical reality was just as good.

The Americans, by this stage of the war, were at the end of their supply tether, exhausted, and many units were peppered with replacement troops. Veterans were in short supply, so Fury shows us the replacement mentality. They were routing a dispirited enemy that was terrified of having to turn to the East and fight the Russians. Hopefully, there are better details in the film than in the trailer.

You should never discount a film based on the trailer, of course, so I'll probably see Fury.

Looking Down From the Battlements


I may not have even taken this photo! That's what the scandal here is.

But, in all honesty, I've taken a lot of photos just like it. When you stand on the old battlements of a European castle and look down, you see a sight no one could have planned--the sight of modernity and progress, and how we don't need those castle walls anymore. To have had to live outside of those walls a thousand years ago--that's what truly must have been fearful.