Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Primitive archery

One of these days, when I have a reliable place to shoot, I'm going to pick primitive archery up as a hobby. I've thumbed through Primitive Archer Magazine, and it feeds my interest.

Back in my youth, I was an archery freak of sorts, and had a couple bows. Over the years, these became lost or broken and my interest faded. I was never a fan of the compound bow, which I never could respect. I was a recurve man, and only wanted one string on my bow. That interest never died, but went into hibernation instead.

When I picked up Primitive Archer, I said "ooooooooohhhhhh!" and the interest started coming back. This goes nicely with reenacting, because many bows you can buy are the ones used as military weapons, and would be great centerpieces for a display, not mention for hands-on use.

Movie Review: Mongol

Period: Early Medieval period - 1172 to 1207 - Life of Genghis Khan

Synopsis: Mongol is the first movie in a projected trilogy about the life of Genghis Khan. The movie first picks up when the then Temüjin was enslaved and imprisoned by a Chinese garrison captain. He receives a then cryptic message from a young monk that sets the stage for the rest of the story. The movie then goes back 20 years when Temüjin was 10 years old, and tells of his escapades and romance with Börte. It also touches on his personality and eventual conflicts with his blood brother Jamuka and eventual rise as uniter of the various Mongol tribes, where the movie ends.

Overall opinion: I found that I had to get into the rhythm of this movie before I started to piece things together to enjoy it. But when it picked up its legs, it was a compelling movie to watch. The movie does err a bit on the side of the romantic and escapade side of things, and doesn't really attempt to explain what made Temüjin such a great leader of men. As a viewer, I was a little bit unsatisfied, but I'm willing to hang on for the other movies to see if Temüjin's leadership traits more fully explained. Overall, it is a beautiful movie with some good battle sequences.

Good reenactor film?: I would call this a good reenactor chick-flick. Enough romance for the loves of our lives, but enough of the exciting bits for the manly men. Past that, it doesn't dwell too much on the military, but the clothing seems to be acceptable, although I don't know enough to definitely say it's authentic to the period. You will get an insight on Mongol tribal life and language, which again, may be a precursor to a deeper understanding of the other movies projected to come out. The battle scenes weren't fully explained, and I question the accuracy. Some of the fight scenes were a bit over the top, so nothing there for a reenactor to use.

How does it stack up?: This movie has the potential to be a classic, but the other movies have to come out to seal the deal for me. It's a good historical flick, but to me, it jumps around in time too much, and leaves a lot of questions unanswered. These questions may be answered in the course of the other movies projected to come out, so I'm reserving judgement till then. But now, I think it's a movie worth spending some time with.

If you want to see about more movies, check out my old blog, "War Moovies".

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Return of the "Irreverent Guide to Civil War Reenacting"

I've decided to revive my old series for Civil War reenacting spectators, The Irreverent Guide to Civil War Reenacting. I've written Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, now it's time to finish what I started!

Reenacting Links of the Week

I've decided to redo the Reenacting Links of the Week. Instead of searching and listing all links I can find, I'm going to list and comment on the more interesting ones. I'll still break them out by period. So without further adieu...

American Civil War: Looks like Lincoln and Douglas are duking it out again in Illinois: Lincoln, Douglas square off in reenactment of famous debates.

Although I can't place the time period other than in the 19th century, this article is about Suzy Beggin Craft, a shepherd: Illinois woman recreates history with a flock of specialty sheep breeds , an interesting article if you like applied living history.

Here's something on a hockey coach and ACW reenactor: Ice Bears' Siganuk likes to live in the past.

Mainstream reenacting in Texas: Bringing the Civil War to life.

The 146th anniversary of the Battle of Prairie Grove comes to life: Battlefield Comes Alive 146 Years Later.

Looks like the battle reenactment at Selma is no more: Guns of war no longer blast in Selma . I've written on Selma in the past, with this post, revisit, and opposing opinion.

Here's something that we need more of: Re-enactor to present Civil War program - the title of the program is "Introduction to Civil War Reenacting". It heartens me to see reenactors going out proactively into the public to share the hobby.

American Revolutionary War: Good intentions gone for naught, another crossing of the Delaware River proves unsuccessful: Washington Crossing reenactment thwarted by high winds.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Here's a blog for the younger CW set

I'm well impressed with this effort. It does my heart good to see an interest by the younger generation to carry on the history and the hobby we so enjoy currently. The Young Campaigner appears to be a noble effort in progress.

The posting seems to have subsided in October, so I suggest laying on the comments to show support for this site. Give these young campaigners some encouragement and support!

Interesting War of 1812 blog post

I was doing a search on reenacting documentary films and came across a very interesting blog post on War of 1812 reenacting. This is from a 2006 post in One Old GreenBus. Some of the issues he points out are exactly the same as Civil War reenacting in the States. Whew! And I thought this was uniquely a U.S. thing.

Great narrative and photos, worthy of a look.

Weekly Wargames Focus

Ever wish you could play one of the old SPI games like Sniper! or Terrible Swift Sword? Or bought one of those old Avalon Hill games when the local hobby store was dumping them at cut rate prices? Or are tired of bidding on EBay offerings that seem to get snatched from you because someone has more money thean they seem to know what to do with?

Enter Noble Knight Games, an online shop devoted to finding and selling old wargames, miniatures and RPGs.

This is a neat place to shop to say the least. They may not have every title, but they have an impressive selection to indulge most gaming nostalga. I also heard that they have great customer service, so this may be a site to check out from time to time.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Got a new game!

Decided to give set of fun games a turn. Not quite historical military games, The Battle for Middle Earth Anthology plays to my love of the Lord of the Rings books and movies. If you like the Warcraft (not the MMORPG)or Starcraft style strategy games, then you'll like Battle for ME. As a matter of fact, this game plays much like Starcraft, which I find more enjoyable than Warcraft.

Why blog something obviously not real-world military? I did it for a couple reasons. In a strange, round about way, the LotR books led me to miniature wargaming, RPGs and then on to reenacting, so this game has a strong element of nostalga. The second reason is that the LotR books has a military bent to them, and is attractive to me.

This game represents a possibilty to get my smack-talking, orc-friend brother in a game that can be used to wargame some LotR battles out. Probably not the most accurate way, but most definitely a fun way. It harkens back to the time of the Fantasiques miniatures.

Who knows? I might also turn to LotR reenacting!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Picking Fights: HPS Squad Battles Vietnam

Ever had the out of the blue realization that you messed up before the reality of it hit you like a locomotive? With my Vietnam game, it came to me this morning. Shopping with my daughter. The ANV troops are about the flood over my small garrison of US troops.

The realization is that I could have shot those guys up when they were crossing some rice paddies. Hindsight doesn't count in these games, though. My units are getting chewed up pretty badly.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cool Vids:Polish Sherman

Safety? Who needs stinkin' safety when you can ride on a tank?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A beautiful reenacting blog

One thing that has struck me is the dearth of reenacting blogs. Of any hobby you can be involved in, reenacting has the most bloggable material you can think of. But yet, there aren't many devoted to mostly reenacting subjects.

Recently, I did find a very nice blog authored by a reenactor who also happens to be a gifted photographer. The Past Reflected in the Present is a very link-worthy effort, and to be honest, you can spend hours looking at all the great shots. I've this site linked for a couple months, and it's a great source of inspiration for any reenactor. The site's author, Driftingfocus, follows her Russian WW2 unit in events, snapping some great shots along the way.

Picking fights yet again!

I've just jumped into a couple of games, and boy does it feel good! I'm doing a couple games of Combat Mission 3: Afrika Corps (CMAK) and a scenario from Squad Battles: Vietnam.

I haven't gamed CMAK against a live opponent before, and these two games aren't big ones, just enough to get my feet wet so I can play on a more competative scale. I like CMAK for what I've played of it.

I have played Vietnam against live opponents. The game I'm playing is for points and also to get me out of the Blitz's bootcamp level. The scenario looks good, but I do have issues about it reacts to PbEM play. You have to jiggle it here and there to get to not crash on the Vista OS.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I wish I had the patience...

One of my pleasures when I go to a military-oriented museum are the models. That's right, the models. Especially the aircraft carriers. They're always a sight to behold.

It just blows my mind pondering the skill and amount of time it takes to build some of these beautiful behemoths. An impressive model was at the Virginia Air and Space museum. It was a close to 1/48th scale model of the USS Lexington (CV-2) during the 30's. The actual model was as big as a board room table, with lots of detail for the eye to take in.

The model at the museum has some beautifully detailed Grumman SF-1s of Scout Squadron VS-3B on the flight deck. Impressive to say the least.

Then there was the USS Ronald Reagan (CV-76). Another fine model!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Weekly Wargames Focus

If you wargame via computer, The Blitzkrieg Wargaming Club (or the Blitz) is the bomb. Here you can find a load of opponents, resources and forums. If you play the John Tiller games from HPS or Combat Mission, you can find a load of opponents.

Most of my best wargames have been with Blitz opponents. The reason for this is that the club is very well moderated, and the site tends not to collect alot of deadwood. The Blitz moderators some reasonable rules in place to ensure that active players are the ones that populate site.

I found it to be a good starting point and many players are experienced and willing to walk a newbie through a game to get them off on the right foot.

2008: My Walkabout Year

This year was one of change for me, and because of these changes, I haven't had the time or the emotional investment to write much on StE(r). I rallied a short time in October, but by the end of the month I decided that needed to finish out my year, get it out of my system before really getting into blogging again.

My walkabout affected my reenacting, wargaming and my interests as a whole. I haven't done too much, so I haven't had much to write. Too distracted by changes in my own life, and picking up new interests that have been adding to the quality of my time.

Have I gotten religion or have a dread disease? Naw, I've maybe become little bit more spiritual, and definitely have become more healthy than I have been for many years. I've just been dealing with some painful personal stuff that drags along with it regret, anger and fear. So, I took time off from life to deal with it.

I've discovered the simple joys of hiking, and that has led me to a healthy lifestyle. I can now hump a decent 10 mile hike and not feel too sore afterwards. I'm lugging (as of this writing) 41 less pounds on my body.

As a reenactor, that may sound like the thing -- now I can actually look baggy in my clothes, and maybe look like a half-starved Confederate. Or come as close as I can. But, along with the changes has come some personal reflection. I'm still a military history buff - a path that lead me into reenacting in the first place. But my reenacting career has come to a crossroads.

My decision is to go down one of three paths. The first is to jump back into the hobby and just go on as I've always done. The second path is to pick up on a under-represented area of US history and present it at "Military Through the Ages" type events. The third path is to stop active reenacting and do some reenacting tourism. Be a insider on the outside looking into the hobby. Critique events, spotlight great impressions and do some travel around and see as much as I can. As you can probably tell, I'm leaning toward the last path.

This decision has been brewing for some time. You see, I've been doing some sort of reenacting, on and off since 1982. I love the hobby, but there have been times lately that I've just wanted to see more than the yearly Civil War event and show people that reeacting is diverse and for almost everyone who loves history.

Seeing the Elephant(recreated) is a product of that desire. When I first started writing, it was to record my own experiences in the hobby. Then I expanded out slowly. Then one day, realized that I missed a magazine that I subscribed to in the mid '80s - Living History Magazine. I loved it. It looked at all aspects of living history in the US. It told me about General Miles Marching and Chowder Society, the wonders of WW1 reenacting, and spotlighted the fact that people actually recreated the French and Indian Wars. I wanted StE(r) to be like it. A record for everyone who like to study military history from more angles than books alone can provide.

So to quote one of my favorite scfi characters, Malcolm Reynolds from the TV show Firefly:

"So here is us, on the raggedy edge."

Whatever my decision, Seeing the Elephant will go on, better for it all.

Have a Merry Christmas and may the New Year bring the best for everyone.