Saturday, August 30, 2003

Star Wars:KOTOR
I've been meaning to post the next part of my Hollywood experience but was blocked by Lucasfilm. Not some type of censoring, but rather an insidious attempt to put my life on hold. Star Wars:Knights of the Old Republic for Xbox.

DO NOT buy this game. Your life will be on hold for at least thirty hours of gameplay. The damn storyline sucks you in and keeps you wanting to see what happens next. Being the hero in the story has always been an attraction for me, it led to my early forays into Dungeons and Dragons and then into the SCA, though the SCA made me work for it.

I've finished the game and handed it to my oldest son, and again meant to start writing Hollywood: Part 2, but have been commenting on various blogs about this that and the other thing, and got sucked into lenghty answers to troll's cut and paste idiocy.

I will be writing the next part. It is about my buddy's Hollywood friends and our dinner at The Stinking Rose, and the nifty lights and people I got to watch and the horrible state of beer accesibility back in those days.


I was reading a post over at Tim Blair's place and headed over to Surfdom to see what the commotion was about. While there I posted this comment over at The Road to Surfdom, in response to their claims that the rhetoric and actions of anti-war demonstrators gave no comfort to the enemies of the west. I kept it a bit plain, but my aim was specifically at the anti-war protestors in the US who protest the war alongside those who hate the US and would like to see America fall.

During the 80's there was a thirteen part documentary series on Vietnam that I watched. One part that has stuck with me, and reversed my supportive position on the 60s-70s peace activists, was an interview with a Vietnamese General. When he was an NVA captain morale was always a problem. Like any soldier he saw less of the succesful politics of North Vietnam and more of the constant losing of battles with the Americans. To bolster morale the Chinese constantly shipped in films of the Vietnam protestors. This general (at the time a captain) stated that watching the peace protestors gave him and the men under him the boost they needed and improved their morale.

Jim McCain long ago stated how the North Vietnamese would use footage and quotes from peace protestors to try to demoralize the POWs. As I recall in his recollection he remembers both Kerry and Fonda in those.

Jane Fonda's protests are well known to have given succor to the North Vietnamese and their communist allies.

Part of the problem isn't that peace protestors hate their countries. Certainly those who belong to certain organizations do actually hate their countries but I don't believe all of them do. There is also the fact that those organizations are quite willing to utilize people whose sole goal is to stop the use of force to help them push their agenda. The problem comes when those who decry the use of force allow anti-west voices to harmonize with theirs.

I don't recall hearing any accounts of peace activists disavowing the World Worker's Party, International ANSWER, or the ACP. I don't recall any accounts of peace activists disassociating themselves with peace activists who burned their own country's flag or carried signs that stated "We support our soldiers -- when they shoot their officers."

So long as peace activists give tacit support to those people and organizations, or attend rallies organized by those same people they will be viewed not as being against war, but as being against their country.

So long as that view is the one they allow to be promoted (by those organizations, the press and themselves) that will be the friendly face terrorists see and identify with.
And the fault will lay with those who are for peace but refuse to denounce those who hate their country.


Sunday, August 10, 2003

My Hollywood Experience: Day 1

    I was in a movie once. Well, sorta, kinda, not really. Oh, okay, it was a demo movie. The way it was explained to me was that a small studio, calling itself Saracen Productions, had gotten some money from a major studio to shoot a 15-20 minute demo to show the studio what their project was. If the studio liked it they would finance the movie. The movie’s working title was Deus Vult and was to be about some part of the crusades and Templars. 

    My buddy Etien had called me and asked if I would be interested in coming to L.A., meeting my old buddy Baltazar’s Hollywood friends, and teaching her to fight with a sword. The first sounded interesting, but the latter was definitely out of the question. You don’t just pick up a sword and start fighting with it, just like you don’t enter any martial arts competition after watching a Jackie Chan flick. It seems that Saracen Productions had sent out e-mails looking for people with “medieval combat experience”, and Etien was looking to break into the business and thought this might help.

    She showed up in Tehachapi and dragged me off kicking and screaming with help from my wife, kids, and my other buddy Carl, who all insisted that I should go since I was already being Joe Grumpy Stick-In-The-Mud.

    So Saracen Productions was looking people with “medieval combat experience”, now considering that every single person who really fits that description has been dead for several hundred years what they needed were people who fought in the various medieval recreation groups that are in Southern California. There are several and I’m sure if they had better timing and knew whom to call they could have gotten several hundred people who knew how to swing a sword. As it was, when Etien and I arrived there was only a small group with several live steel group members and one SCA heavy weapons fighter. Me.

    Etien and I showed up at Griffith Park (I think that’s right, the place with the Batcave) and got to meet the fight coordinator and a couple of the stuntmen, some of the PAs, extras, and others. They reminded everyone to be sure to get their names and information to the people keeping the call-back lists, in case the project got the go-ahead. They got us into a group and separated the experienced sword-slingers from everyone else and asked us what groups we belonged to and how much experience we had with them.

    There has historically been some rivalry between the different recreation groups. Some give a hard emphasis on accuracy, others like warm showers, and yet others are quite accepting of elf-ears and vampire fangs. I belong to one around the middle; we don’t want elf-ears, we want warm showers, and duct tape is a holy relic. There has also been some rivalry between the live steel groups and the rattan groups. I’ve heard stories about it, but I have never experienced anything impolite or untoward in that respect. Most of the fighters there were live steel groups and I was expecting a bitter treatment that never came.

    When Padraig (the head stunt guy) heard I was SCA he smiled and said, “Well, this is going to be very different for you.” He explained that movie fighting was absolutely nothing like SCA fighting. In the SCA the fighting is usually quick, furious, and the styles designed to win. In movie fighting you are performing for the camera. The camera sees broad strokes best. The very cuts and strokes we avoid as being too flowery and easily blocked or even dodged. So as it turns out I wasn’t what they were looking for, but I learned quickly and was gifted with my very own extra. A nice guy whose name I’ve long since forgotten but who was eager and, unfortunately, wanted to stand out some.

    In a minute I developed a broad five blow combo that we worked on, my extra wanted to add more, and add flourishes. I was more interested that neither of us be hurt. His sword was nice and blunt, but I had brought my own weapon and a sharp claymore is not a boffer or a pugil stick. I browbeat the poor kid with my size, imposing glare and menacing grin and we worked on the combo I came up with. We practiced it until we could do it at full speed safely. At that point he saw what I had been trying to tell him (at the expense of a small tree nearby). 

    That was Friday afternoon. Friday evening would be my opportunity to meet Balti’s other circle of friends. The ones who weren’t like me. I had no idea what they would be like, and it turned out that any expectations I had were wildly wrong.


Thursday, August 07, 2003


       One of my best friends is French, was French. He's an American now after serving four years in the USAF. He was not the best representative of France. He was sort of a country boy (but not really) growing up outside of Tours and he came straight from central casting. Central casting is a term we use to describe someone who is so stereotypically representative that it borders on ridiculous and it refers to the days in Hollywood when all extras and bit parts came from a part of the studios called central casting. Because of this Chinese always had Chinese accents and wore pajamas, and Frenchmen all sounded like Inspector Clouseau(sp?), swore incessantly and needed a shower.

        He was the one who broke my first predjudices regarding the French. Other than being the ultimate French stereotype he hated Parisians in the same way I saw country-boys from Kern County hate the city-folk in Los Angeles. I learned a lot from him and I ate well because of him, oh and endless jokes based on his inability to say Heath (one of our close friends) and always called him Eees, or the way he pronounced 'penny.' 

        Or the infamous cooking rabbit at a camp-out incident.

        "Oh, I thought you said paper.

        "Zat is what I said, salt and fucking paper!", 

        The worst communications in history occured during drunken
revelries.  I recall a time when some of us reverted to the accents we grew
up with.  Absolutely horrible, with the bad French accent, the Cajun
accent, and the regression past Hawaiian Island Creole straight to Hawaiian
Island Pidgin.  The number of "goddameet"s, "ya'll"s,
and "bin stay go"s were legion.

        He was not the best representative of the French, but he has been an outstanding representative of America and being American.  Huzzah my old friend, huzzah.



Wednesday, August 06, 2003


I own one of his books.  It's an outstanding book on bodybuilding geared to those interested in the sport of bodybuilding and, most importantly for me, to those who are just interested in getting a little more fit.  It covers everything from warm-up, to workout, to proper eating and it could be used to chock an F-4 at full throttle.  It's a monster of a book.

Today, since he's announced his candidacy, I've got to listen to pundits, who know absolutely nothing about him or choose not to mention what they know, question his skills and abilities.  What I know of him is that he has his masters in business and made his first million in real estate investments before his movie career.  

He has no political experience.  In my opinion this will work for him where Joe Sweathog is concerned since the experienced politicians have made such a hash of things here. The majority of Joe Sweathogs, however, don't often turn out to vote.  With Schwarzenegger in the run they may turn out, but I don't think anyone can really predict that accurately.

I do know one thing, despite the opinion of Susan Estrich, most of the Californians I know want Davis out.  Democrat and Republican alike want him out.  I keep hearing the Democratic Party complain that Davis was elected and it's against the people's will that he be recalled.  First off, he was elected partially because he lied to us and told us how well the state was doing.  A few weeks after the election, however, he let us know just how bad things are.  The thing about the recall is that it allows us to fire an employee who has lied, cheated and ran our company (California) into the ground.  If it were anything else but politics no one would have a problem with an employer firing an employee who lied on his resume and ran their company into near bankruptcy.  Now get this straight, the row coming from the Democrats would be coming from the Republicans if the tables had been reveresed, but that doesn't make it any less whiny bitch like.



Friday, August 01, 2003

French Jokes

Thomas posting in the comments over at Pave France writes: That's the point, we were not saying anything negative. Ten years ago I was reading Baudelaire, LA Rochefoucauld, and Foucault around my university and never heard anyone say anything negative about France...

I have to admit that isn’t entirely accurate for me. Granted I had never been as incensed or angered by the French as I am now, but I did tell French jokes. Sometimes simply because I thought they were funny, and occasionally when my buddy Frenchy got a lil’ big for his britches.

Truth is that it would be difficult not to tease and tell jokes inspired by France’s performance in the late ‘30s. Sure if they could erase that impression, but it would require significant action and courage on a scale greater than their appeasement, surrender and collaboration with Germany. That’s quite a tall order even with fifty years to work on it.

I don’t see why it would be impossible. The individual French soldier is still known as a skilled professional even by many of us ignorant cowboys. But then their soldiers have never been a problem, it’s their government, leaders and national will that led to France’s reputation as “cheese eating surrender monkeys.” I’m even willing to give the French the benefit of the doubt and assume that recent French treachery is due entirely to their government, leaders, and lack of national will and ethics.

All in all it’s been quite a confrontational last couple of days at Pave France. I’m a new visitor there, so I don’t know if this is normal for them and I know that I haven’t helped things remain calm. But then I’m not known for my sweet disposition and even temperament.