Thursday, June 30, 2016

Report from SCA 50 Year Anniversary - Part 3

(Continued from 2 days ago)
The next day I spent most of the morning repairing armor, but managed to make it to a “boat battle.” This was a rollicking affair in which simulated “boats” carried fighters to an “island” on which “booty” was stashed. The different teams of fighters fought to collect the booty and bring them back to their “docks.”

This was absurd, ridiculous, and fun. My team actually won one of the engagements, collecting the most valuable booty. Here is a video of some of the action.

After that I attended a lecture on “The Psychology of Fighting” by Duke Talymar. IT was an interesting summation of the progression of a SCA fighter's career and options, how to break through plateaus, and guidance for fighters. After the lecture, the floor was opened to questions. There were some interesting points brought up. Among the most discussion-inspiring ones were how to deal with a student who refuses to learn, and what to do when someone has lost the thrill he used to have and how to help him get it back.

I found this to be an interesting topic. I have had periods in which I felt myself lacking the thrill for the SCA that I used to have. AS a result I wound up gravitating to other things like Brazilian jiu jitsu, pro wrestling, filmmaking, and the Battle of the Nations - Armored Combat League world. I contributed that I have felt the thrill fade, that I didn't fit in to my local fighting group quite as well as I used to. In my case, what I did was simply focus on what it was that I liked about it that was still there. In my case, it was the fact that even though I hate almost everything involved with fighting (pack the gear, carrying it, putting it on, the exertion, carrying the stuff home, being sore and tired), I do it because I love being able to say that I did it.

After a bunch more comments and discussion, one other thing came to my mind, so I shared it: The SCA is a hobby. If you think you will get more satisfaction by saving the whales, or getting involved in local politics, or finishing high school, or starting grad school, or spending time with the wife and kids, do it.

After all that was done, I noticed gnats or fleas flitting around me. I felt hot, sweaty, and itchy, but my armor needed fixing. I took all my armor off and fixed the three rivets that needed fixing before going back to camp for dinner. I showered all the sweat and bugs off, but it turned out it wasn;t me, there were bugs all over the place that day.

(to be continued)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

REport from SCA 50 Year Anniversary - Part 2

(Continued from yesterday's post.)

After the fighting on the first day I sat in on a class on the use of the shield by Duke Stephen. He gave some interesting advice on the various shapes and typos of SCA shields and the different ways in which they can be used.

The next day I spent most of the morning repairing my armor, but I made it to a “known world fighter practice,” at which Duke Visivald showed a couple of principles of polearm. I had replaced the thrusting tip on my polearm, and then proceeded to use it, and the principles Viz had taught, to great effect in practice.

Next came the 5-weapons tourney. At first I had not intended to fight, considering how long it had been since I had fought and that I might not have enough weapons. My lady and I were talking to a friend when {Prince Edmund of the Middle came over to my friend and asked if he would join the tourney to help balance the brackets. “You just need to be an organic pop-up target,” he said. My friend declined, but I figured that since that's pretty much what I had been the previous day, what did I have to lose?

The format of the tourney was double-elimination in which in each match the fighters would have to choose either polearm, two-sword, sword & buckler, two-handed sword, or spear for each round, and each match would be fought best three-of-five. I wound up fighting quite well. I lost the first match in three rounds straight, but won the second three-to-one. The third match was an epic that went the distance. I lost the first two rounds (sword & buckler and two-handed sword) but won the next two (poleaxe and two-sword). We then faced off with 6-foot long spears (a form with which I had never really fought before). Already the other guy was really enjoying the fights. He was a short, active fighters whose ducking had saved him from at least two kills in the sword and buckler fight, but who left enough opportunity open in defense for me to hit in the head in two-sword and in poleaxe.

With the spears, we alternated periods of cautious probing with furious thrusting and parrying. Some grappling ensued that almost resulted in short-range stabbing, but the marshal broke it up. In the end it was a shame that either of us had to lose, but he managed to get a thrust in on my face that I was not quick enough to block, and I was out of the tourney.

It is noteworthy to mention that in my polearm victories I did use the principles that Duke Visivald had taught earlier that day.

(To be continued...)

Report from SCA 50 Year Anniversary - Part 1

So...I just got back from the 50th Year Celebration of the SCA event. It was an amazing event for me, full of fighting and medieval merriment, and also a few observations about things. I will be posting them in bite-sized pieces for easier digesting.

It had been a long time since I had spent a full day in armor, so I was looking forward to the opportunity that this trip presented. There were sure to be fighters of quality from all over the known world. AS it turned out there were about – fighters who were in the fighting arena every day to take part in tourneys and pickups, with a few others who came in once or twice., so we all got to know each other a little bit over the course of the week.

I fought in 6 tournaments and scenarios: A Pas d'Arms, a polearm tourney, a “5-weapons” tourney, a greatsword tourney a “tourney of Love and Honor,” and a “boat battle.”

The pas d'arms was the first fighting I did. It was a casual affair in which fighters were invited to challenge other fighters as the kings and queens of two kingdoms watched and participated. I fought about a half-dozen fighters, 5 rounds each. Most of them were knights. I did surprisingly well, I thought, and got to meet several knights and royals on my first day. One of them was the queen of Aethelmark, who gave me a small token, a ring with a little green stone, to give to my lady.

Later that day was a polearm tourney. I fought hard, but my polearm's thrusting tip was too stiff to use safely, so I was at a disadvantage. Also, a couple of the fighters chose to use daggers as secondary weapons. This also put me at a disadvantage when I was in close. I fought 6 fighters in a round-robin, best 2-out-of-3. It seemed, for a while, that I was in the tourney strictly to make sure that everyone else get at least one victory, but I did actually win one match.

To be continued...

Friday, May 20, 2016

I'm back. Some thoughts.

Forgive me for my slow updates. I have been focusing a lot on my work for the Big Apple Comic Con and the editing of "American Knights," my documentary of the USA team at the world championships of medieval armored combat.

I have noticed that I ahve been missing some opportunities for two reasons:

1) I allow others' poriorities to supercede my own.
2) I am easily distracted.

The first is a balancing act. If you have made a promise or agreement with someone, then their priorities have become your own. The trick to having a good life, then, is to associate yourself with people who share your priorities.

The second is a challenge. The challenge is to prioritize yoru activities to as to focus on getting what you really want, not just what you happen to want at the moment. When the easy pleasure is distracting you from the greater goal, your achievement of the greater goal suffers.

I am going to be working on this now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Always back up your files.

The punch line: Does anyone know an affordable data-recovery service in or near NYC That works with WD "My Passport" external hard drives?

The set-up: I was working on  a project on Cyberlink PowerDirector13 Windows 7, basically putting aside all other concerns, and after completing a scene and rendering it, I opened a new project to work on the next scene.

While I was working on it I noticed the program wasn't running at peak efficiency. I thought if I moved some files to my external hard drive, that would clear up space and the program would run more smoothly. After copying a bunch of files onto the ext HD and deleting them from my computer and emptying the recycle bin, I noticed that I wasn't able to access the files on my ext HD.

I restarted my computer and when it opened up, I found that I still could not access the files on my ext HD/ The browser window shows that it's there, but clicking on it gives me the "blue circle of delay" which never leaves. The indicator light on the ext HD blinks nonstop, which I am told means that it is booting up and when its ready will stay steady, but it never stays steady for even as long as a minute.

I am now using Recuva to recover as many of the files that I transferred over to the ext HD as I can, including the rendered version of the scene I completed, I have been able to recover a lot of the files, I moved and deleted, but not that one yet.

I went to Staples to see if it was the cable (again) and after trial and error with several cables and other devices, we determined it was not the cable. I called WD, the makers of this 2-terrabyte "My Passport" drive, and after following all of their diagnostic instructions, we have determined that it must be a problem with the drive.

The drive seems to run smoothly, but if you wait long enough, you can hear and feel the faintest "click."

The costs of data recovery that people are telling me would set back many things, and this delay is endangering the timely completion of this project. If these files are truly lost and gone, I can contact the videographers for the footage that they shot but the footage that I shot with my camera would be gone forever. That could be up to 15% of what I had intended to use in the video.

I can still make a very good video with the footage that I could get back from other sources, but there is so much other footage from so many other things that I have shot that was waiting for the opportunity to be backed up, to lose all 1.25 terrabytes now would be a very drastic tragedy. This would include  my footage from the USA Knights' campaigns in Poland (the first time), France, and Spain, and interviews with my (I promised not to tell anyone how old she is) mom about her life and adventures that I intended to post n YouTube (I believe her insights growing up in the pre-Civil Rights south would be especially topical now).

Saturday, May 9, 2015

An Amazing Ten Days in Europe!

This has been an amazing ten days of medieval and European experiences and accomplishments!

First, I and my lady went to Malbork, Poland for the International Medieval Combat Federation world championships. She went as part of the support staff for USA Knights, America's team n the tournament. My reasons for going were twofold: 1) I was producing a documentary of USA Knights at the event, and 2) I was doing the on-air commentary of the action for half of each day on the steaming webcast.

Both experiences were highly rewarding. I had contracted two camera peole, Tadej Znidarcic and Nawojka Cracke, and though I haven't looked through all the footage yet, what I have seen so far is very promising! The video will be called "American Knights." Watch for it at

Calling the play-by-play of a sports event has been one of my lifelong dreams. Ever since I was listening to Phil Rizzutto on WINS 1010AM radio as Reggie Jackson and Thurman Munson were leading the Yankees to the World Series I wanted to be in the booth calling all the action. But I never could figure out the career path, aside from being a retired professional athlete.

This year, being as I would not be fighting due to my injured knee, I sort of lived up to that carer path, and took my baptism of fire in the booth. I had a few rough patches, not knowing all the fighter' names, for instance, but by the time I was done, people all over were telling me that I did a great job and I really brought something valuable to the broadcast.

I intend to do more of this. It is possible that I might be doing some broadcasts later this year. But I learned from  my mistakes this time. I will be doing a little more homework on the teams and saying "um" a little less often, for starters.

As a result of all this, it appears that I have become a bit of a celebrity in the world of medieval armored combat. When I came across the French team as they were hanging out with the Spanish team and a couple of Poles after a hard day of fighting, when I asked to take a picture with one of them, the next thing you know they were saying "Everyone get together for a picture with Captain Zorikh!"

When this was all done, my lady and I headed down to Prague for a little vacation. We visited the famous astrological clock tower, St. Vitus' cathedral and Prague Castle, the gardens of the Senate, St Charles' Bridge, took a tour to Kuna Hora with its "bone church," silver mine, and high Gothic cathedral and another tour of Konepiste Castle, the home of the lade Archduke Ferdinand, and its magnificent armor and hunting trophy galleries, and another tour about WWII in Prague, saw "La Traviata" at the National Theater and "The Magic Flute" as performed by the National Marionette Theater, dined in some excellent restaurants, did a little shopping at the Battle of the Nations, drank good beer (including the "real Budweiser"), and finished off the week with a river cruise with dinner on the Vlatava.

I shot loads of pictures and video over this trip, and will be posting them on Facebook and YouTube as soon as I can.

Watch This space for more details!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How to make the most of the NYC MTA fare hike

I guess I haven't been paying attention to the news, because I totally missed the word that the NYC MTA bus and subway fares went up this past Sunday until I curiously clicked on something on Facebook.

So it seems that once again, the Metropolitan Transit Authority has decided that the way to raise money is to raise prices. A single ride, which had been $2.50, is now $2.75 if you get a Metrocard and put more than $2.75 on it, and $3 if you buy just a single ride (and getting a new Metrocard will still cost an additional dollar). They have also pulled a sneaky little fast one. The "bonus" that you get for buying a bunch of rides at once on a Metrocard is now 11%. That is higher than it was before, but it's a weird number. When you put some round number of dollars onto your card, like $10 or $20, you are going to have an odd number of dollars and cents left over after you have used up all the $2.75 rides you can get out of it. Eventually, if you decide to discard the card, you will lose those odd pennies and dimes. And so long as you have that odd change left over, the MTA will have money for which, technically, they have not provided service.

Fortunately, our good friends at the Village Voice (that once-radical downtown newspaper that has followed all other Print Media into the Interwebs while leaving its print version mere shadow of its former self) has kindly done the math to figure out exactly how much money to put on your metrocard to wind up with zero cents left over after using up all your $2.75 rides:

Village Voice Rides-Per-Dollar chart

In short, $22.30, $27.75, and $49.55 are the magic numbers that will get you your full compliment of subway and bus rides without any money left over. You can take advantage of this by using the "Another Amount" button when you buy or refill your card at a MTA Metrocard machine.

If you want more info on this whole rate-increase thing, Here is the official MTA web page about the fare increase.
Here is the Transportation Nation web page that answers pretty much every question you could have about the fare increase.
And here is a Brooklyn-centric news site that happens to have a picture of the subway entrance I use every day.

You know, back in the late 1980's/early 1990's I used to go to the public hearing about fare increases and say a few words about how the job of the MTA is to help people enjoy the benefits of our rights. I kind of wish I had heard about this sooner and gone this time around.