Thursday, November 22, 2012

Underwater Twlight Zone Dream

Imagine if you will...a dream so vivid, so realistic, so consistent in its narrative logic, that it plays exactly like a "Twilight Zone" episode or a "weird mystery" comic book story by Jack Kirby.

Picture if you will a large nylon bubble. This bubble has clear plastic windows and is opened by a large zippered doorway. Within this bubble are three explorers, a male scientist getting up in his years but still with plenty of vigor, the inventor of this bubble; His daughter, a young and beautiful scientist who believes in her father's dream of exploring the mysteries of the ocean depths, and a third person, the operator of the bubble, who's details are obscure but unimportant. As the dreamer of this dream, you are also in this bubble, a fascinated observe of this simple yet cleverly-conceived device which will allow you and your companions to explore a phenomena that has been detected on the floor of this particular body of water upon which  you are now floating.

You pull down the plastic central zipper of the door, marveling at the simplicity of its seal, and hoping that it will keep the water out. The order is given to descend, and you see the support staff standing on the platform looking at you with concern. After a moment, you realize that the zipper is not completely closed, but the air pressure is keeping the water from leaking in the bubble. You pull the zipper closed the remaining two inches and lock it in place. The final locking of it causes it to visibly disappear into the fabric securing the air-tight seal. The descent continues, everything working perfectly, and he scientist's daughter kisses him n the cheek.

You reach the bottom of the water.  It is not too far down from the surface that you could not swim to the top if you had to, but far enough that the surface is out of sight and light has a hard time reaching you. you look out the windows and see a broad, flat plain. There is not much life under here, it is an eerie desplate landscape. But there has been some phenomena here that requires exploration.

You put on a breathing apparatus and so does the scientist. and step out of the bubble into the water. You go in one direction and he goes another. The pressures are not so great that a diving suit is needed, so you are wearing a simple breathing mask. As you go further from the bubble, a fast moving bright thing rushes past you, like a car on the highway. In your radio earpiece you hear the scientist's daughter calling frantically for him to come back. You start to look for him to no avail. The air in the breathing aparatus will last a long time, but you worry that if you don't find him you may have to surface without him, and then he may be lost forever.

The bubble reaches it underwater time limit, however, and the scientist has not been found. Once on the surface his daughter is frantic. We must go back down, she cries. He is down there and we must find him!

The time ticks by as the wheels of procedure slowly turn to enable the bubble to go back down. After an agonizing wait in which visions of the scientist's potential fate play before your eyes, you return to the bubble to drop to the same location.

Perhaps there was an air pocket underwater and the scientist was able to survive in that? Perhaps there was an underwater civilization, and a beautiful mermaid who had lured him away? He was a widower, after all, this scientist, and a constant seeker of mysteries, never able to resist one in front of his face. Was this bubble he invented not a product of his obsession with a mysterious underwater phenomenon?

You reach the bottom of the water again and you see a glowing underwater creature, on one of whom the pattern of the scales, the fins, the gills on its belly look exactly like the face of a beautiful human woman. It is this creature that the scientist had followed out of the bubble, and a school of these creatures that now swim around his lifeless body, entangling it with underwater plants. The scientists daughter bursts into teas, for she has learned that the human mind will see what it wants to see in the patterns of nature and that you should always look twice at what is found within...The Twilight Zone.

(OK, in my dream there was no narrator, but the telling of the story was just begging for it)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy, Superman, Christos, and Return to Pennsic

"You are wearing a Superman shirt. You've gotta be strong, OK?"

That little statement by an on-site journalist made me cry.

The "biggest storm ever to hit New York" has devastated the region. Millions of people are without power in NY, NJ, and Connecticut. Over a hundred homes have burned down in Breezy Point, Queens, more elsewhere. Floodwaters have washed houses completely away. Piles of boats are resting in parking lots and front lawns. Lower Manhattan, with its residents, businesses, subways, etc, is completely shut down. Coney Island rides have been drowned. The Atlantic City Boardwalk is in pieces. Thousands and thousands of planes, trains, and busses have been cancelled and re-routed. Subway and commuter tunnels have been flooded. Scores of people have died. People are angrily crying for help in devastated neighborhoods. Lines of cars are waiting for gas like the 1970's.

And in other news, a friend of mine, who had become an exceptionally good friend of my girlfriend (in a good way) passed away this morning, a victim of lung cancer.

I got lucky several ways over. I was supposed to be coming home from Springfield, Illinois when the storm hit. After several means of coming home got cancelled, the kindness and generosity of my friends got me home about the same time I would have gotten home anyway. Neither my house nor my girlfriend's house were in any danger. Any trees that fell or flooding that occurred or power outages avoided us. My job is shut down, presumably until power comes back on, but I am OK. NYC is big enough that apart from the lack of gasoline, there are very large areas almost completely untouched by the storm, and I am currently in one of them.

So I have been sitting here, walking the dog, working on my "Return to Pennsic" video project, as the nonstop coverage of the catastrophe continues to play on almost every TV channel (we don't have cable; by choice, not by the storm).

Much like 9-11 and Katrina, I have been watching the damage with a detached fascination, wondering if it shows character failing. Don't bother helping me analyze this, there are people in much greater need of help than I. I suppose I could take the bus or walk home, grab my bicycle and pedal to a devastated neighborhood and start helping fetch and cary, dig people out and give moral support. But of course I would just get in the way, hurt myself, become another victim, or simply be prevented from getting to the affected area by police roadblocks and such. And I have a paycheck theoretically sitting in my mailbox waiting to be picked up and deposited so I can pay my rent and certain bills and debts.

But then I see the clip from CBS Morning News of an on-the-scene reporter talking to a small boy with a mother holding the ready-to-eat meal.

"Are you cold?"

"Yes."

"Are you tired?"

"Yes."

(awkward silence)

"You are wearing a Superman shirt, so you've gotta be strong, OK?"

The boy, in tears, nods silently.

That hits me. As a life-long fan and student of comic books and superheroes, Superman is more than a colorful figure on a page, he is a symbol. He represents the will to do what is right and the strength to back it up. To call forth this icon is a powerful mojo to me.

Then I change the channel and see Aerosmith perfuming in Rockefeller Center on the Today Show.

I know Steve Tyler and Steve Perry were on Letterman last night promoting their new album (Letterman is looking old these days, BTW), so they might just be doing this as a publicity stunt, but somehow it means more than that. Aerosmith is a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band. They can fill a football stadium with fans, even if they only limit ticket sales to women. So being on the Today Show to perform in front of a few hundred people in Rockefeller Center, even with the national TV audience, is more than just an act of publicity for them, especially today.

Entertainments have long been used to raise morale and lift spirits after catastrophes. For a big name entertainer to perform today, in the middle of Manhattan, on national TV, is a big deal. Entertainers are not rescuers, first responders, firefighters, doctors. What they do is create and perform in order to affect people's moods and feelings. To do so now shows that they care about this city.

To see them on TV, singing and playing their hearts out, right after that touchingly tragic scene with the boy, got to me.

So now what do I do?

I am an artist, an entertainer, but I have let that work slip for a while. Last year I shot a documentary at the Pennsic War, and intended to have it done by Christmas. Technical issues, money issues, a SOB who still owes me about $1500 for work I did for him, another SOB who won't send me back my cell phone after I accidentally left it in his home after entertaining his son on his birthday, jobs that I have taken to pay bills, training and competing for the Battle of the Nations, all this have I let get in the way of finishing the project. And now there are other things I want to do that I have said I won't do until I finish this project. Yet the project is still undone.

There are people who have contributed money to the project. There are people whose time I have taken working on the project. My girlfriend helped me tremendously, both practically and financially because she believed in me and the project. "Simply the Best" G.A. West came to Pennsic, something he never throughout he would do in his life, so that he could be involved in this project.

There are people who have dedicated their lives to helping people, protecting them, serving them, saving them. They do a good job at it.

There are also people who have died whose lives we are no longer able to touch. After writing this essay I read the posts on my friend's FaceBook wall from his friends saying goodbye and have been crying my eyes out.

The best we can do to honor their duty and sacrifice and loss is to be the best people we can be and accomplish things that only humans can do, and for me that is to create things that lift people's feelings and help them grow in a positive way. I believe that this video project is one of these things.

This video project is a year overdue and I finally have the time to finish this thing, which I have been working on for so long and have promised so many people, and the best thing I think I can do is finish this and get on with my life.

Return to Pennsic webpage

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Canvas Corp/iCandy/Mark Sarnoff owes me money (corrected)

I checked over the math in my previous post and found a few calculations in error. Here is a corrected version. I akso used averages to figure out approximately what may be owed to me on days in which I did not have the exact numbers. Mark Sarnoff still claims that he has already paid me, but the fact is that he has not.

See my previous post for the whole story.


Here is a rundown of all the days I worked, how much I sold, and the commission I should have earned.
  • On November 24, I worked the Devils-Flames game, sold $219 worth of drinks. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $28.47. I got paid nothing*.
  • On Nov. 27 I worked the Devils-Flyers game. I don’t know how much I sold, but was paid $35.04.
  • On Nov. 28 I worked the Nets –Portland game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was paid $36.36.
  • On Dec. 1 I worked the Nets-Oklahoma City game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was paid $47.99
  • I may have worked Dec. 2 Devils-Canadiens game and the Dec. 5 Nets Celtics game, but I don’t remember, and I didn’t write it down.
  • On Dec. 10 I worked the Usher concert. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was paid $50.30
  • On Dec. 11 I worked the Devils-Red Wings game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was paid $30.78.
  • On Dec. 12 I worked the Nets-L.A. Lakers game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was paid $63.91.
  • On Dec. 14 I worked the Nets-Philadelphia game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was paid $41.98.
  • On Dec. 15 I worked the Devils-Coyotes game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was paid $28.14.
  • On Dec. 16 I worked the Nets-Washington game. I sold $448.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $58.305. I got paid nothing*.
  • On Dec. 17 I worked the Devils-Predators game. I sold $302.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $39.325. I got paid $34.90.
  • On Dec. 18 I worked the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert. I sold at least $500 at the first show and at least $300 at the second show. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid at least $104. I got paid $26.43.
  • On Dec. 23 I worked the Devils-Islanders game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was paid $38.48.
  • On Dec. 28 I worked the Seton Hall-South Florida game. I sold $213. I was told we would be paid a 15% commission for that day, which means I should have been paid $58.305. I got paid nothing*.
  • On Dec. 29 I worked the Devils-Rangers game. I sold $416. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $54.08. I got paid $55.72.
  • On Dec. 30 I worked the Harlem Globetrotters games. I sold $219 the first game and over $500 the second game. I was told we would be paid an 18% commission for that day, which means I should have been paid at least $105.42. I got paid nothing*.
  • On Dec. 31 I worked the Devils-Thrashers game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was told we would be paid an 20% commission for that day. I was paid $63.46.
  • On Jan 4, 2011, I worked the Devils-Wild game. I sold over $250. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid at least $32.50. I got paid nothing*.
  • On Jan 5, I worked the Nets-Chicago game. I sold $531. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $69.03. I got paid nothing*.
  • On Jan 7, I‘m not sure what event I worked, but it was not a Nets, Devils, or Seton Hall game. I sold $250. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $32.5. I got paid nothing*.
  • On Jan 8, I worked the Nets-Milwaukee game. I sold $420. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $54.60. I got paid $53.20.
  • On Jan 18, I worked the Seton Hall-Georgetown game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was paid $13.43
  • On Jan 20, I worked the Devils Penguins game. I sold $240. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $31.20. I got paid $30.56.
  • On Jan 21, I worked the Nets-Detroit game. I sold $423.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $55.055. I got paid $44.77.
  • On Jan 22, I worked the Seton Hall-Rutgers and Nets-Dallas games. I sold $129 at the Seton Hall game and $432 at the Nets game. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $72.93. I got paid $68.16.
  • On Jan 23, I worked the Devils-Panthers game. I sold $415.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $54.015. I got paid $50.48.
  • On Jan 24, I worked the Nets-Cleveland game. I sold $323. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $41.99. I got paid $39.52.
  • On Jan 30, I worked the Seton Hall-Providence game. I sold $392. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $50.96. I got paid $45.95.
  • On Jan 31, I worked the Nets-Denver game. I sold $454.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $59.085. I got paid $55.22.
  • On Feb 1, I worked the Devils-Senators game. I sold $133.75. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $17.3875. I got paid $16.25.
  • On Feb 4, I worked the Devils-Panthers game. I sold $330.25. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $42.9325. I got paid $42.03.
  • On Feb 5, I worked the Seton Hall-Connecticut game. I sold $368.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $47.905. I got paid $39.14.
  • On Feb 6, I worked the Nets-Indiana game. I sold $612.75. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $79.6575. I got paid nothing*.
  • On Feb 8, I worked the Devils-Hurricanes game. I sold $249. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $32.37. I got paid $31.71.
  • On Feb 12, I worked the Nets-Knicks game. I sold $709. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $92.17. I got paid $96.10.
  • On Feb 13, I’m not sure what event I worked, it was not Devils, Nets, or Seton Hall. I sold $344. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $44.72. I got paid nothing*.
  • On Feb 18, I worked the Devils-Rangers game. I sold $356.75. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $46.28. I got paid $41.70.
  • On Feb 28, I worked the Nets-Phoenix game. I sold $520.25. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $67.6325. I got paid nothing*.
  • On March 4, 5, 6, I worked the NASCAR event at Las Vegas Speedway. I sold $3040. I was told we would be paid a 12% commission. I should have been paid $364.8. I got paid $277.
  • On March 8, I worked the Devils-Hurricanes game. I sold $422.75. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $54.9575. I got paid $50.67.
  • On March 17, I worked the Nets-Chicago game. I sold $440.75. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $57.2975. I got paid nothing*.
  • On March 19, I worked the UFC event. I sold $1089.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $141.635. I got paid nothing*.
  • On March 20, I worked the WWE Smackdown event. I sold approximately $980. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid approximately $127.40. I got paid nothing*.
  • On March 21, I worked the Nets-Indiana game. I sold $522.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $67.925. I got paid nothing*.
  • On March 25, I worked the NCAA playoff game. I sold $622.75. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $80.9575. I got paid nothing*.
  • On March 27, I worked the NCAA playoff game. I sold $473. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $61.49. I got paid nothing*.
  • On April 2, I worked the Devils-Canadiens game. I sold $492.75. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $64.0575. I got paid nothing*.
  • On April 2, I worked the Devils-Maple Leafs game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I got paid nothing*.
  • On April 8, I worked the Nets-Knicks game. I sold over $500. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid at least $65. I got paid nothing*.
  • On April 9, I worked the boxing event. I sold $437.75. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $56.9075. I got paid an uncertain amount**.
  • On April 10, I worked the Devils-Bruins game. I sold over $300. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid at least $39. I got paid nothing.
  • On April 11, I worked the Nets Charlotte game. I sold $462.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $60.125. I got paid an uncertain amount***
  • On April 14, I worked the X-Factor event. I sold $1243. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $161.59. I got paid nothing.
  • On April 22, I worked the Lady Gaga concert. I sold $504. I was told I f there were no complaints we would get 17% commission. There were no complaints. At a 17% commission, I should have been paid $85.765. I got paid an uncertain amount**.
  • On May 7, I worked the Usher concert. I sold $323.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $42.055. I got paid nothing.
  • On May 25, I got called after 9 PM the night before to work the Liberty pre-season game. I sold $662.5. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $86.125. I got paid nothing.

*A paycheck dated 4/10/2011 came in with no work dates on it in the amount of $631.49
**A paycheck dated 4/29/2011 came in with the work dates of 4/5,6,9,11,22 without the per-day payments itemized, for $64.57

The total of all my paychecks was $2041.13 (see attached document (“CanvasCorp Checks”)

Total commissions calculated from days on which I recorded my sales: $2616.61
Total commissions calculated from days on which I estimated my sales: $473.32

There were 18 days on which I recorded my sales for which I was paid.
Total commissions calculated on the days on which I was recorded sales and was paid: $1212.8075
Total commissions paid for those days: $1073.08
That is an underpayment of 11.5%
Total commissions paid on the 12 days on which I did not record or estimate my sales: $453.87

$453.87 x 11.5% = $52.195
$453.87 + $52.195 = $506.065

Total commissions calculated from recorded and estimated sales, and using the assumed underpaid commissions on the unrecorded days increased by the percentage that my other commissions were underpaid: $3595.995 (possibly higher, as I have a tendency to estimate low).
  • On Feb 28, the manager, Scott, failed to write down $100 that I had turned in during the game, and did not believe me when I told him I had.. He insisted that I cover the missing $100 with whatever money I had (tips and whatever I had in my pocket when I came in that day). After all the other vendors had turned in their sales and inventory was taken, it was discovered that I was right and he was wrong, but they only had $80 in cash to pay me back. Therefore I am owed $20 for that day.
  • On March 24, I was called at the night before to work the NCAA fan fest in Championship Plaza. I sold nothing for 90 minutes in the cold at this poorly attended event at which there were other food vendors. I was told by the manager Bruce Herzog that what I did helped the company. I told him I wanted $20 for my time. He said to tell Mark and I would be “taken care of better than that.” I never got the chance to tell Mark, and I have been paid nothing. I will accept my original request of $20 for that day.
  • After one game, late in the season (I can’t remember which game) the manager, Dave, failed to account for $108 in candy that I had sold when it was time for me to turn in the money. I waited and let him check over his figures several times, and encouraged him to do so, as I thought that it was an unusually large amount for me to have left over. He could not find anything wrong with his figures then so I left. About an hour later, when I was already more than halfway home, he called me to inform me of his mistake. I asked him to please take it out of my next paycheck. So that is $108 to me in addition to what I have been paid.

Total of commissions earned, estimated, and calculated, plus monies owed for miscellaneous reasons: $3635.995

Total paid to me in commissions, plus the $108 mentioned above: $2149.13

Total of unpaid commissions and other monies owed by Canvas Corp to me: $1486.865




Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Canvas Corporation/iCandy/Mark Sarnoff owes me money


In November of 2010, I began working at the Prudential Center for a company that uses the name CanvasCorporation and also uses the name iCandy. The boss of this company is a man named Mark Sarnoff. My job was selling refreshments (water, soda, popcorn, CrackerJacks, cany, etc) in the stands. That's right, I was the guy yelling "Popcorn! Cracker Jack! Water! Soda!" in the stands. I actually kind of liked the job. I got to see lots of NJ Devils and Nets games, as well as concerts by Usher, Lady Gaga, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and events of the UFC, WWE, and the Harlem Globetrotters.. I even sold coffee and refreshments to the hopefuls standing in line waiting to audition for the X Factor.

I made friends with most everyone, and became a fan favorite by yelling things like "Sugar! Caffeine! Carbohydrates! Salt! Carbonation! Hyration! Caffination! Sugaration! Pepsi Nation!"I would say hello to the cheerleaders every day and generally had a good time while getting lots of exercise carrying heavy buckets of product up and down the stairs for three hours. I was frequently the first person on the floor and almost always was one of the top 5 sellers of the day.

this is not to say that the job was all wonderful. Those buckets were heavy, occasionally people would complain about the prices or refuse a sale when they learned they could not keep the cap with the bottle (stadium policy). There was one day that I was called in to work the night before and was sent out into the cold March air to try to sell to at the poorly-attended NCAA fan fest in Championship Plaza. After 90 minutes of no success, I went home empty-handed.

Then there was the time we were flown to Las Vegas to sell beer at a NASCAR event. That was such a big cock-up it deserves a whole separate entry.

And then there was the money. At first I got paid more-or-less regularly, more-or-less the amount of commission that I had earned, although I never got a check for the first day I worked. As time went on the checks came in shorter and shorter, some days not being paid for at all.


After a misunderstanding on a particularly hectic and chaotic day (May 25, 2011, a day that deserves another whole entry), I was fired and told that I would get the last of my commissions in a few weeks. I have not received any money from CanvasCorporation since then.

 Here is a rundown of all the days I worked, how much I sold, and the commission I should have earned.

Ø      On November 24, I worked the Devils-Flames game, sold $219 worth of drinks. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $28.47.  I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On Nov. 27 I worked the Devils-Flyers game. I don’t know how much I sold, but was paid $35.04.
Ø      On Nov. 28 I worked the Nets –Portland game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was paid $36.36.
Ø      On Dec. 1 I worked the Nets-Oklahoma City game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was paid $47.99
Ø      I may have worked Dec. 2 Devils-Canadiens game and the Dec. 5 Nets Celtics game, but I don’t remember, and I didn’t write it down.
Ø      On Dec. 10 I worked the Usher concert. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was paid $50.30
Ø      On Dec. 11 I worked the Devils-Red Wings game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was paid $30.78.
Ø      On Dec. 12 I worked the Nets-L.A. Lakers game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was paid $63.91.
Ø      On Dec. 14 I worked the Nets-Philadelphia game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was paid $41.98.
Ø      On Dec. 15 I worked the Devils-Coyotes game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was paid $28.14.
Ø      On Dec. 16 I worked the Nets-Washington game. I sold $448.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $58.305.  I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On Dec. 17 I worked the Devils-Predators game. I sold $302.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $39.325.  I got paid $34.90.
Ø      On Dec. 18 I worked the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert. I sold at least $500 at the first show and at least $300 at the second show. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid at least $104.  I got paid $26.43.
Ø      On Dec. 23 I worked the Devils-Islanders game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was paid $38.48.
Ø      On Dec. 28 I worked the Seton Hall-South Florida game. I sold $213. I was told we would be paid a 15% commission for that day, which means I should have been paid $58.305.  I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On Dec. 29 I worked the Devils-Rangers game. I sold $416. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $54.08.  I got paid $55.72.
Ø      On Dec. 30 I worked the Harlem Globetrotters games. I sold $219 the first game and over $500 the second game. I was told we would be paid an 18% commission for that day, which means I should have been paid at least $105.42.  I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On Dec. 31 I worked the Devils-Thrashers game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was told we would be paid an 20% commission for that day. I was paid $63.46.
Ø      On Jan 4, 2011, I worked the Devils-Wild game. I sold over $250. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid at least $32.50.  I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On Jan 5, I worked the Nets-Chicago game. I sold $531. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $69.03.  I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On Jan 7, I‘m not sure what event I worked, but it was not a Nets, Devils, or Seton Hall game. I sold $250. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $32.5.  I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On Jan 8, I worked the Nets-Milwaukee game. I sold $420. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $54.60.  I got paid $53.20.
Ø      On Jan 18, I worked the Seton Hall-Georgetown game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I was paid $13.43
Ø      On Jan 20, I worked the Devils Penguins game. I sold $240. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $31.20.  I got paid $30.56.
Ø      On Jan 21, I worked the Nets-Detroit game. I sold $423.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $55.055.  I got paid $44.77.
Ø      On Jan 22, I worked the Seton Hall-Rutgers and Nets-Dallas games. I sold $129 at the Seton Hall game and $432 at the Nets game. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $72.93.  I got paid $68.16.
Ø      On Jan 23, I worked the Devils-Panthers game. I sold $415.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $54.015.  I got paid $50.48.
Ø      On Jan 24, I worked the Nets-Cleveland game. I sold $323. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $41.99.  I got paid $39.52.
Ø      On Jan 30, I worked the Seton Hall-Providence game. I sold $392. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $50.96.  I got paid $45.95.
Ø      On Jan 31, I worked the Nets-Denver game. I sold $454.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $59.085.  I got paid $55.22.
Ø      On Feb 1, I worked the Devils-Senators game. I sold $133.75. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $17.3875.  I got paid $16.25.
Ø      On Feb 4, I worked the Devils-Panthers game. I sold $330.25. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $42.9325.  I got paid $42.03.
Ø      On Feb 5, I worked the Seton Hall-Connecticut game. I sold $368.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $47.905.  I got paid $39.14.
Ø      On Feb 6, I worked the Nets-Indiana game. I sold $612.75. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $79.6575.  I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On Feb 8, I worked the Devils-Hurricanes game. I sold $249. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $32.37.  I got paid $31.71.
Ø      On Feb 12, I worked the Nets-Knicks game. I sold $709. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $92.17.  I got paid $96.10.
Ø      On Feb 13, I’m not sure what event I worked, it was not Devils, Nets, or Seton Hall. I sold $344. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $44.72.  I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On Feb 18, I worked the Devils-Rangers game. I sold $356.75. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $46.28.  I got paid $41.70.
Ø      On Feb 28, I worked the Nets-Phoenix game. I sold $520.25. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $67.6325.  I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On March 4, 5, 6, I worked the NASCAR event at Las Vegas Speedway. I sold $3040. I was told we would be paid a 12% commission. I should have been paid $364.8.  I got paid $277.
Ø      On March 8, I worked the Devils-Hurricanes game. I sold $422.75. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $54.9575.  I got paid $50.67.
Ø      On March 17, I worked the Nets-Chicago game. I sold $440.75. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $57.2975.  I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On March 19, I worked the UFC event. I sold $1089.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $141.635.  I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On March 20, I worked the WWE Smackdown event. I sold approximately $980. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid approximately $127.40.  I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On March 21, I worked the Nets-Indiana game. I sold $522.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $67.925.  I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On March 25, I worked the NCAA playoff game. I sold $622.75. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $80.9575.  I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On March 27, I worked the NCAA playoff game. I sold $473. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $61.49.  I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On April 2, I worked the Devils-Canadiens game. I sold $492.75. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $64.0575.  I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On April 2, I worked the Devils-Maple Leafs game. I don’t know how much I sold, but I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On April 8, I worked the Nets-Knicks game. I sold over $500. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid at least $65.  I got paid nothing*.
Ø      On April 9, I worked the boxing event. I sold $437.75. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $56.9075.  I got paid an uncertain amount**.
Ø      On April 10, I worked the Devils-Bruins game. I sold over $300. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid at least $39.  I got paid nothing.
Ø      On April 11, I worked the Nets Charlotte game. I sold $462.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $60.125.  I got paid an uncertain amount***
Ø      On April 14, I worked the X-Factor event. I sold $1243. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $161.59.  I got paid nothing.
Ø      On April 22, I worked the Lady Gaga concert. I sold $504. I was told I f there were no complaints we would get 17% commission. There were no complaints. At a 17% commission, I should have been paid $85.765.  I got paid an uncertain amount**.
Ø      On May 7, I worked the Usher concert. I sold $323.50. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $42.055.  I got paid nothing.
Ø      On May 25, I got called after 9 PM the night before to work the Liberty pre-season game. I sold $662.5. At a 13% commission, I should have been paid $86.125.  I got paid nothing.

*A paycheck dated 4/10/2011 came in with no work dates on it in the amount of $631.49
**A paycheck dated 4/29/2011 came in with the work dates of 4/5,6,9,11,22 without the per-day payments itemized, for $64.57
The total of all my paychecks was $1979.54

Total commissions calculated as earned: $3082.158
The amount I was paid on those days that I don’t know what I earned: $453.87

  • On Feb 28, the manager, Scott, failed to write down $100 that I had turned in during the game, and did not believe me when I told him I had.. He insisted that I cover the missing $100 with whatever money I had (tips and whatever I had in my pocket when I came in that day). After all the other vendors had turned in their sales and inventory was taken, it was discovered that I was right and he was wrong, but they only had $80 in cash to pay me back. Therefore I am owed $20 for that day.
  • On March 24, I was called at the night before to work the NCAA fan fest in Championship Plaza. I sold nothing for 90 minutes in the cold at this poorly attended event at which there were other food vendors. I was told by the manager Bruce Herzog that what I did helped the company. I told him I wanted $20 for my time. He said to tell Mark and I would be “taken care of better than that.” I never got the chance to tell Mark, and I have been paid nothing. I will accept my original request of $20 for that day.
  • After one game, late in the season (I can’t remember which game) the manager, Dave, failed to account for $108 in candy that I had sold when it was time for me to turn in the money. I waited and let him check over his figures several times, and encouraged him to do so, as I thought that it was an unusually large amount for me to have left over. He could not find anything wrong with his figures then so I left. About an hour later, when I was already halfway home, he called me to inform me of his mistake. I asked him to please take it out of my next paycheck. So that is $108 to me in addition to what I have been paid.

Total of commissions earned, both estimated and actual, plus monies owed for miscellaneous reasons, and including the amounts paid on days in which I do not have records: $3561.598 (the actual total should be higher due to estimations)

Total paid to me in commissions, plus the $108 mentioned above: $2180.92

Estimated total of unpaid commissions and other monies owed by Canvas Corp to me: $1380.678

The actual total should be higher due to estimations.

My checks never had my correct nbame spelled on them. Some of them were made out to "Zohrac Lequidire," some to "Zorich Lequidre." I did not get a 1099 for 2010, and the 1099 for 2011 was made out to "Zohrac Lequidre" and was for an amount that was less than I earned in total, and less than I earned under the name that was closest to, "Zohrac Lequidire."

Repeated calls and e-mails to Mark and other contact people who were supposed to be working for him have not gotten me any money. Mark has texted me saying that he has already paid me what he owes me and accused me of stealing, something I would never do.

I just wanted to put this out there. Mark, if you are listening, it's time to pay up.



Thursday, June 7, 2012

Final report from Battle of the Nations



Polish TV and a local documentary crew interviewed me. I tried to give them the best answers I could regarding why I am doing this, what I thought about the fights, how I would compare SCA combat with this full-contact fighting, if my BJJ experience helped me at all, etc.

Here's the TV show that interviewed me. The segment on the Battle of the Nations starts at 5:10...

Interestingly, it seemed that every interviewer asked why Americans would do this when the United States has no medieval heritage. The stock answer for this is that the majority of Americans come from Europe, and thus do have a medieval heritage. I would also add that Asian-, African-, and even Native American-descended Americans also have some sort of chivalric warrior heritage. There is a sort of universality to the concept of the "warrior elite," just as there is a universally to the hero myth. Medieval entertainments have been very popular in America for decades, as has physically challenging contact sports and martial arts. The Battle of the Nations is a challenging combination of these things, and Americans don't like to back down from a challenge!

My lady joined me in Warsaw the day before the competition began. She helped the team greatly with water bearing and fighter support and helped me by holding the camera to shoot video. She had been unsure about coming to this event. She had wanted to go to Italy, and there was thought that we might do both. But the seriousness of the Battle of the Nations preparations started to make it look like that plan would be unlikely. However, she was won over by the passion and the adventure of this endeavor, and by the end was extremely happy she came.

The team was likewise glad to have her. Her help enabled the fighters to concentrate on their fighting without having to worry about hydration, nutrition, and other aspects of staying alive at an event like this.

Many people on the team told me that I had done very well over the course of the week. In fact, several times I was told that I was awesome, a superhero, and had a pair of brass ones the size of (fill in the blank). That made me feel really good about myself, that this trip, and all the effort was worth it. Here were these guys, most of whom were bigger or stronger or more skilled or tougher or had more badass cred than I, and they were accepting me as one of their own, simply because I was doing what I wanted to do. I wanted to fight. I wanted to fight and not give up. I wanted to have a good time fighting. I wanted to have a good time fighting in front of a lot of people and cameras, and I wanted to have as much fun as possible during this trip, to make people laugh, to entertain them. I wanted to make history. And I wanted to be accepted. I have two words for the result: Mission accomplished.

This was the first time that Americans had competed in an international medieval armored combat competition of this scale. We came as a team and every man fought to their utmost. We all sweated and bled out there, and we came together as a team of Americans. I have never been prouder to be part of something. This is something no one can take way from us.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dream: Bill Clinton stole my boot!

Last night Bill Clinton stole my boot in my dream.

I was hanging out in a city (Warsaw?) with some friends when we ran into former president Bill Clinton who was with a couple of girls and other friends. He said he really liked my boots, the boots that I wore for the Battle of the Nations. He asked if he could try them on, so I took off my left boot and let him put it on.

After he put the boot on, he said it was cool and then he and his friends wandered off, and I was left there with one boot off, with my left foot in a sock and nothing else. I thought that Bill Clinton was being a bit of a douche. He was acting like that obnoxious, alpha, leader-of-the-pack type after a few drinks who drives the direction of the group of drunk friends who wander the streets on party night.

I and my friends looked around around the corner to try to find him. When we did, he was there, continuing to laugh and joke with his girls and friends, but someone said he was not really Bill Clinton, but an impersonator. So I tried to imitate his voice to see how easily it could be done.

The dream ended before I ever got my boot back, but I don't think that was the real Bill Clinton.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Battle of the Nations Report part 2


(This is a continuation of the post from a couple of weeks ago about my experiences at the Battle of the Nations)

But I did more that week than just fight.

The team took a trip to the castle at Malbork (Marienbourg), the former fortress of the Teutonic Knights. While I had seen rooms and chambers and furniture and art from the middle ages at museums, it was fascinating to see them in their regional context. There is no real "tourist logic" to a real castle, as there is in the floor plan of a museum. Rooms have multiple entrances and exits to other rooms and hallways and stairs. The deadliness of the defensive architecture is revealed. the opportunity was had to take the seat and stand in the place of honest-to-goodness medieval knights.

We ate good Polish food. One of the best eating experiences was at a roadside restaurant on the way to Malbork. nobody in the place spoke English, and the menus were all in Polish, so we struggled through with a dictionary and trying to figure out what was what based on a few known words ("pierogi," "kielbasa," "hamburger," "feta"). A couple of people just said "I am hungry. Give me food." and got a plate of delicious pierogis. One person found a picture of bacon and eggs on his smartphone and got a kielbasa with scrambled eggs. The hamburger turned out to be a delicious, double-pattie affair with toppings that was a unique and most excellent hamburger experience. The person who recognized the word "feta" got a wonderful salad with delicious, creamy feta cheese (have you ever had creamy feta cheese before? If I ever had I would eat it far more often).

Back in Warsaw we found a bar a couple of blocks away from the hotel at which we were made to feel very welcome. They gave us shots of some sort of cherry wine and became "our bar."

I happened to have my harmonica with me at the event site, and one of the bands on the stage adjacent to the list field happened to be playing some blues n the same key as my harp. I waved my harp at them and they indicated that I could come up and jam with them. The crowd loved it. Cameras clicked and rolled. Unfortunately the team member who had video-recorded the performance on his digital camera had it stolen during the week.

One night several team members and I stayed late at the event site rather than going straight back to the hotel. Many of the other teams were camping out and partying, and we joined them. One of the highlights was the Italian camp, where the Italians were singing, drinking, and making merry well into the night. Then they asked for an American song. I bought them "Swing Low Sweet Chariot for the Hearing Impaired" and how to dance the Maltese Branse, and they loved it! We wound up doing those numbers the next day before the battle and after the closing ceremonies.

(More to come)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

(This post was originally written in October 2011 but somehow did not get posted
till now.)

Well, regular readers of this blog who don't follow my FaceBook page (are there any?) might be wondering how that high school reunion went. Well, I wish I could tell you but...

Actually that' s not completely true. I go there late, as I expected, my new job keeping me 'till 10 PM, with a full can of Monster energy drink inside me, which I had used to stay awake at work. I rushed to the club, and immediately spotted old friend. Charged with the taurine, guarana, glutamine, etc, and the euphoria of the moment, and having built up my alcohol tolerance through a year of testosterone-boosting activities and regular casual drinking, I thought that I had to make use of the last 30 minutes of open bar. In the next 30 minutes I drank...too much. I saw a whole bunch of old high school friends and acquaintances, and was genuinely happy to see them, and it seemed like they were genuinely happy to see me. It felt good. I was told that I had not changed a bit (my youthful good looks are something that I pride myself in) and was really looking forward to getting to re-know my old classmates as grown-ups.

Sadly, I don't remember much after that.

I got out of it easy, I think. I didn't lose any money, or my wallet, keys or phone, or even the jacket I was wearing, and I was able to get my bag and glasses from the club two days later, and only lost a few comics and passes to NY Comic-Con (n was able to get another pass and get into the convention anyway), and as hangovers go, I have had much worse.

But as it was, my plans for the following day were shot. My GF was disappointed, and I blew my opportunity to reconnect with a very formative period of my life.

This was the first time I have ever had a memory blackout from drinking. It was scary.

(since the writing of this blog I have learned a very great respect for  the power of alcohol and energy drinks. I have since curtailed my use of both. I was dry for several months, now I drink very carefully, pacing myself to avoid further incidents like this. I have nay touched an energy drink on the one or two occasions in which I had to stay up all night to complete work, like fixing my armor for the Battle of the Nations.)

Dream: Captain Zorikh: Inspector of Mars


Captain Zorikh: Inspector of Mars
Dream 5-23-2012

I had heard that there was a known criminal in the domed city who was in town to steal the source of a new power. It was a gem or radioactive stone of some sort that could have great destructive power in the wrong hands.

This man was not wanted for any crimes currently, however, so I had no cause to arrest him. I did find him in a men’s room. He was doing his business in a stall, and he recognizes me when he asaw me. He knew that I knew what he was in town for, but he either was inno hurry to get away from me, or knew that it would have been pointless to do so. WE walke dout together in to the night air in the streets of Mars City.

We joined up with two of henchmen-for hire, who worked for a crime kingpin. This was someone who’s identity I didn’t know but was my job to find out. I did not tell them who I was exactly, and they were to be as unfamiliar with me as I was with their boss.

We headed to a lounge/candy store where we stopped to relax and have drinks. The henchmen were waiting to meet with the crimelord, and told me his name and location, which I made a point of remembering,: Anthony at 615. That was the address, 615.

The situation felt rather queer. Here I was, with a couple of men who would be trying to sell something that could be turned into a near-apocalyptic explosive, and might well be used, if their plan succeeded, and all that was around us would be a fine red mist, perhaps in as little as a week. The stakes were high, but the mood was quiet. There was not much talking as the henchmen smoked cigarettes and I and the criminal nursed beers.

As we sat on the cushioned seats in the lounge, I talked a bit with the criminal. I knew he made a business out of stealing things and selling them to the highest bidder, especially things like weapons and weaponable power sources. I spoke quietly, so the henchmen could not hear.

He called me a detective; I reminded him that I was an Inspector. I told him that there are some people who make a living doing anything they can, no matter who it hurts. On the other hand, one can choose to do the right thing, something that helps people or saves people, or at least not to do the wrong thing, and these people make the world a better place. I think I was getting through to him, because he listened quietly and didn’t say a word.

It soon came to me for me to go, but I wanted to get on the good side of the henchmen, have them keep in touch with me. The candy stand sold cigarettes, and I thought it would be a good friendly gesture to buy them some. “Let me buy you some cigarettes,” I said, standing up. “What brand do you like?"

They selected “Marlboro Gold,” a premium brand that was sold from under the counter, not on display. I cringed a little inside thinking of the price, but I knew it would be worth it, for these men could lead me to the big boss. It turned out they were only $5 for two packs, but I was not sure of the exchange rate between Martian and US dollars. It probably was the equivalent of something like $20.

I reached for my pocket, but then realized I wasn’t wearing pants (this is easily explained: I was sleeping in the nude, and this was a dream, after all. I was probably just adding the sensation of not wearing pants to the dream, and it wasn’t some sort of symbolism). This was not a big deal in Mars City, but my money was in my pants. “This is rather embarrassing,” I said.” I’ve forgotten where I put my pants.” Just then my secretary walked in. She had taken them for cleaning when I had left them in the office, and brought them to me there. My money was still in the pocket, so I paid for the two packs of cigarettes and gave them to the henchmen.

They got up and we all prepared to leave. Just about then I woke up.

Monday, May 14, 2012

First blog report from Battle of the Nations


Blog report for Battle of the Nations 2012

So here I am, flying home from the Battle of the Nations, the world championships of medieval armored combat, 2012, in Warsaw, Poland.

This was an incredible and wonderful experience. I had wanted to do it because I wanted to challenge myself, I wanted to go beyond what I had done in the Society for Creative Anachronism, I wanted to be a part of something new and exciting and daring, I wanted to find camaraderie and brotherhood, and I wanted to be able to promote myself as an adventurous badass. I succeeded on all fronts, but the proportion of importance of those reasons came out somewhat different in the end than it was in the beginning.

I had earned some "badass points" back at the tryouts in Springfield. I had proved to the team that I would not quit, that I could take the punishment, and that I would be a valuable addition, surprising several people even more than I surprised myself. I knew that I did not want to give up, but I did have a fear that I would get hurt. I had found out that my armor protected me from any major hurt, and the fear went away.

So I arrived in Warsaw looking for an opportunity to crash into and knock down my opponents. In my first battle my commander got in between me and the enemy, and then my teammate's fallen body, and I hit the ground without coming into contact with the enemy. If I had left right then I would have felt disappointed. In successive battles I managed to avoid tripping over my own men, and with each battle I learned a little bit more about fighting under these rules.

At times I felt like Eddie the Eagle Edwards, Catfsh Hunter in the 1977 World Series, Rudy from the the movie "Rudy," Dennis Doyle from "Run Fatboy Run," Spike Dudley, and a boxer in an early MMA match. At other times I felt like a knight, a warrior, a fighter, and a rock star.

I fought in the 21-on-21 matches. I tripped, I stumbled, I fell. I lost my weapon. I crashed into people. I held up huge Russians and Beloyrussians for a few moments. I lost my helmet  when my chin strap broke.

I fought in the 5-on-5 matches. I crashed into Israelis, Italians, Austrians, and Baltics. I ran around the end and attacked their line from the rear. I was the last man standing three times. I tripped, I stumbled, I fell. I found myself beset upon by as many as four men smaller than I. I lost my weapon and went running fack to get a new one multiple times, only to return several times to find that I was the only man left standing on the field.

I was the first American to fight in the "professional" bouts at the Battle of the Nations. I faced a Ukrainian champion with lighter armor and much more experience. I tried a cautious, point-scoring approach, but when he knocked me down and then knocked me over when I was down, I got up and changed my game, taking the fight to him. But my armor was heavy, and my sword too heavy, and the match was called due to fatigue.

Before the match, however, there was some "dead air time" on the list field. The band or was playing the Maltese Bransle, a simple renaissance dance that I know. I was in full armor holding my pole arm and I decided that the audience needed to be entertained, so I stepped into the middle of the field and started doing the dance. the crowd loved it. As the dance sped up, the crowd started clapping along. By the time I was done, I had completely won over the audience and they were on my side. Thus, when the inevitable beatdown occurred, there was great applause and appreciation for my spirit and my effort. I don't know about the fight, but I was told my dancing made the news reports that night.

I fought in the "all-on-all" matches. I got hit about as hard as the hardest hits I have taken in the SCA. I crashed into people. I enjoyed it.

The leaders and members of the team said that I did very well in the fighting, that I was one of the heroes in the field. That made me feel good.

More to come!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

How the Muppets are inspiring me at Battle of the Nations


I just saw the newest Muppet movie.

I am sitting on a Lufthansa 747 in cramped economy class on my way to Poland to fight in the Battle of the Nations, the world championships of medieval armored combat, and the first movie they showed on the in-flight entertainment was the newest Muppet Movie, and it affected me as no other movie has.

I suppose I have been getting a little emotional lately. I have a beautiful woman whom I love and who loves me, I have found  new sport I love in Brazilian jiu jitsu/submission grappling, I have found some new friends and creative objectives with my video work, and now I have embarked on the craziest, riskiest, most personally and culturally significant thing I have ever done with the Battle of the Nations. And this was the perfect time to see the new Muppet Movie.

This movie was about two brothers, one who wants to find where he belongs, and one who has to decide where he belongs. through the course of helping the Muppets put on a show to save their old studio, they each come to terms with their desires.

But also this movie is about how it feels to do what you love to do and be appreciated for it. In the film, the Muppets have all disbanded and gone onto success or failure in their various carer paths, but come together to raise the ten million dollars they need to buy back their studio from the evil rich oil baron who wants to tear it down to get at the oil underneath it.

First off, let me say that the movie hooked me early on by bringing out beloved muppet characters and cultural references rom the 1970's and '80's. The "'80's Robot" was particularly amusing. There were also many moments of "lampshade hanging," to get through ridiculous plot devices and film techniques characteristic of Muppet movies. There wee also lots of obligatory celebrity cameos. Since I already cared about these characters, and had familiarity with the jokes, I was emotionally vulnerable to their cares and passions, and the irreverent humor kept it fresh and entertaining.

Now the current journey I am on is a remarkable confluence of elements of my life, and there had ben significant episodes along the way. I have been doing medieval armored combat for 25 years with the Society for Creative Anachronism. I have won a few tournaments and awards, I have travelled to several events, and have had life-changing events occur as a part of my SCA life, but recently I had been less and less involved. Certain relationships (and their ups and downs) and the natural tide of social forces within the organization have taken some of the thrill out of the game for me. I do not have much realistic hope of accomplishing much more than I already have. I was also developing career paths and objectives that the SCA was taking me away from.

Then I met Maria. When I tad her about he SCA she was interested, and after king o her first few evens, and Pennsic, she was hooked. Now she is making it a big pat o her life, and that is giving my SC inerest a new lease n life. I shot a documentary at the last Pennsic War (a follow-up of one with which I was involved 20 years ago) and found out a lot more about the SCA and why people are part of it than I never knew before. Thus I gained a new appreciation for it.

At the same time as this was going on, I was getting more involved with BJJ. I had gotten into grappling through  relationship (that didn't work out) but used what that relationship had started to make a movie. Through this movie I got more involved in the world of competitions and training, and noe I make videos for East Coast United BJJ while training there, and am a sponsored competitor at ACOM Sports tournaments. I have found a whole new bunch of people who like me for who and what I am without the baggage of the past (however many) years of my life. I have broken out of several comfort zoned and done things I always wanted to do.

I have also gotten opportunities to be a part of the world of pro wrestling and discover new levels of fitness through my friendship with G.A West, who had been part of my grappling movie (see how it's starting to come together?). He was part of the new Pennsic War documentary.

I don't actually recall when I found out about the Battle of the Nations, or why I thought it might be something I would like to do, but I do know that once I looked at my resources and realized it was possible if I simply dedicated myself to it, then it was full steam ahead, no turning back! I went out to the training camp in Springfield Il. in February and surprised a lot of people with my courage, toughness, heart, brains, and lack of "quit," and I made it onto the third 5-man team a the Battle of the Nations.

I may have surprised myself a little, but really, I did not think that quitting was an options. I came there to fight, so I was willing to take what it took to fight!.

Now I m going to represent my nation in an international competition with the best and the toughest in a particularly rough and tough sport from around the world. From what I have ben hearing from people following myself and the team, there are people who appreciate this, people who are following this, and people who hope we do well. They want someone to cheer for, to make them feel proud to be American, to make them feel like there is someone willing to dedicate their time and energy and risk their body in the name of their country.

Why can't that person be me? Why shouldn't that person be me?  I have the love and support of a wonderful person of my preferred gender; I am reaching new levels of aggression, strength, testosterone, and badassery through bjj; and somehow my sword fighting has gotten stronger too. Dammit, if I can make other people feel good by challenging myself on the biggest arena of my martial art of greatest experience while I am peaking at multiple aspects of my life, dammit I'll do it!

And it doesn't matter whether I win or lose, I have already won something by committing this much so far. I am on a freakin' airplane to Poland! And so long as I leave it all out on the field, no one will be able to say that I didn't do my nation proud!

At the end of the Muppet movie, the Muppets do not reach their goal of raising the money to save their studio, but they did put on a successful, entertaining show for a packed house and national TV audience, won the charts of the nation, and exited the theater to the sound of thunderous applause from crowds that filled the streets. The brother who was looking for his place to belong found it with the Muppets (he was a muppet, after all), and the other brother chose life with his long-term girlfriend, and she came to terms with his relationship with his brother.

And I cried, even more than I did at "Role Models.`I started envisioning myself at the Battle of the Nations. Over the course of the movie I had found myself visualizing the fights and my performance and attitude in them in anticipation of the day (I believe this is called "psyching myself up"). This put me in a frame of mind to equate the action on the screen with the experience of the coming event. I could practically feel myself sharing the mount with my teammates, entering the arena to the cheer of the crowd, being saluted for our efforts by our fans, friends and loved ones. And the tears came streaming down my face.

Am I ready for this? You bet I am!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Help me Represent the US at the Battle of theNations

So yes, I made the team! In a few short weeks I will be heading out with the rest of Team USA to compete in the international medieval armored combat world champioships known as the Battle of the Nations.

This is a very big deal. Thsi is the first time there has been an American team at this event. this event is going to be twice as bick as it was last year. There is international coverage. I (and many of my teammates) will be fighting with steel for the first time. Russia is the defending champion, and is looking forward to meeting us.

This is easily the most daring, challengin, risky thing I have ever done, but I won;t spend a whole lot of space here talking about it.

But I will say that the risks and challenges are mental, physical, emotional, and financial. Therefore, I have opened up a new Indiegogo campaign to help defray the cost. In this campaign I describe the event and what it means to me n great detail both in text and video. Please check it out. There are many valuable "perks" offered to contributors, and every little bit helps, so please contribute at a level that represents a fair balance between how much you believe in this, and me, and how much you can afford.

Captain Zorikh's Battle of the Nations Indiegogo Campaign

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The story of what's been delaying Retun to Pennsic

So here's the story: My first delay was in getting the video tapes converted to digital media. I had to wait until the money came in to do that. The money came from a new job I acquired. This proved to be a double-edged sword. The job got me money, but took my time.

I also came to discover that my computer has a hard time using Adobe Premiere when there are too many files being drawn from and when the project is too long. I got the idea that a laptop would resolve some of these issues, being as it would have a new OS, more memory, and be portable, allowing me to edit when away from home.

Santa Clause bequeathed me with a spanking new MacBook Pro, which then put me in the dilemma of wither learning a Mac-compatible editing program like Final Cut, or using Windows on a Mac so I could continue editing with Premiere. I chose the latter.

At first I was told to use Parallels to install Windows, so I bought the program and installed Windows, then Premier, then noticed that Premiere was running a little wonky. Someone then said the boot Camp was the way to go to install Windows on a Mac.

The trouble is that the latest version of Boot Camp only works with Windows 7, and I only had windows XP. So a friend provided me with a copy of Windows 7.

But when using Boot Camp, one should back up one’s files. The external hard drive I was using did not have enough space to hold all the files on my new MacBook, so I was burning disks to open up the space. Then one day the external hard drive failed.

The troubleshooting guides led me to research file recovery companies. After recovering form the cardiac event that the prices they were charging gave me, I head from a friend that it’s possible tat you don’t need “file recovery,” it could just be a simple hardware problem.

It turned out that the USB jack had broken off of the circuit board, the disk itself was fine, so the company that sold me the HD provided me with a dock. But the HD would not fit into the dock. They said they would provide me with a new casement, but forgot to get it to me until I called them a week or so later. Again, the HD did not fit, but I figured out that I needed to detach the little circuit board on which the USB input jack had been attached, and then everything fit just fine.

Then it seemed that I could no longer simply move the files from my MacBook to my HD, so I had to burn disks. It took me a while to figure out how to burn disks on a MacBook. In fact, I wound up using an XP program and doing the work in windows through Parallels. Then it looked like the disks were blank after burning.

Both of these things turned out to be false alarms. I figured out how to move the files, and that the disks were not really blank. In any event, I finally got all my files backed up and was ready to run Boot Camp and install Windows 7.

What followed was a continuation of the Kafka-esque nightmare that has been plaguing me. I shall spare you the minute details, but merely say that it involved having to burn and re-burn disks, load drivers onto one thing and then another, a search for some internet access that would not stall out during a download process, and two late nights at the Apple store.

Now it looks like I may have to plunk down about $300 one way or another; either to buy a new copy of Windows 7 so I can load it onto my MacBook so I can continue editing in Adobe Premiere, or to buy a copy of Final Cut, render what I have done in Premiere already, and learn how to use Final Cut as I go.

And I hope to have something to screen by the end of the month.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Battle of the Nations!

In the coming weeks I will be giving more details, but for now, let;s just say that I am in training to try out for Team USA at the Battle of the NAtions.

The Battle of the Nations in an international medieval combat & vculture competition and festival. It has been going on for several years in Eastern Europe, and is run by a Russian company, as I understand. This year it will be held on April 29 - May 4 near Warsaw, Poland. For the first time ever, there will be a team of Americans going over.

There will be a national practice in Springfield IUllinois in a couple of weeks, and I will be there, doing the best I can to prove that I have the "stuff" to be part of this team.

As I said. more details will be forthcoming, but for now, you can see more about the team at http://www.usaknights.org, you can see more about the event at http://battleofthenations.com.ua (click on the tiny British flag in the upper left-hand corner for English), and you can see video of the event here...