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Fighting practice 8.16.2017

I held fighting practice at my place this week. The Thursday practices for Acre haven’t started back up yet, and the Monday ones take a few weeks off after Pennsic. I didn’t want to wait until September to fight again, and luckily two people felt the same way and came down for some sparring.

We didn’t fight very long, since with only 3 of us we gassed out in about 60-90 minutes or so. Still, I felt it was totally worth it. Following Pennsic, I feel much more comfortable in armor, and I’m starting to feel more relaxed when fighting. I did fairly well against the other fighters, who were going full tilt at me. Sure, I got blasted a few times, but I was able to return the favor as well. Both are very encouraging, and praised me a few times on my improvement, which was great. I tried correcting some of the issues I saw in the videos of me during the novice tournament, and I had mild success at best. I need to bend my knees more and tighten up, be more mobile and avoid remaining static, stop blinding myself with my shield, and learn how to properly change the angles of both my attacks and those of my opponent. I discussed this with Sir Zippy and Rory at Pennsic, and found the information fascinating and very scientific, so it was right up my alley!

I’ll probably try and hold another practice next week, and then I go on vacation before the start of the school year. Once September hits, fight practices start back up. Speaking of which, I’m going to try and make it out to the Nutley practice in NJ at least once a month. It’s a haul for me, and makes for a late night, but everyone I’ve spoken to said it’s more than worth it. At this point, I’m trying whatever I can to get better and not totally suck. I’m trying my best to hold onto this fire and not let it go out. In other news, I’m gonna pick up some shin protection and try changing up my leg armor to help with my comfort and mobility. I felt it a lot at practice, and I think my stance and movement will improve once I get this sorted out. After that, I’ll move onto torso armor so I’m not a big barrel. More to come!

Turning the tide of war

We returned from Pennsic this past Thursday, and there’s so much to talk about that I almost don’t know where to start. This will very likely be an exceptionally long post, and as I’m long-winded to begin with, that’s saying something. So buckle up, buttercup (“as you wish”), cuz you’re gonna be here awhile.  I guess I’ll start with some background and basics to put all this in perspective. One thing to mention is that if any of what I say is confusing, or you have any questions related to the SCA whatsoever, please don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments or in person if you know me. I have quite a bit to say on the subject…

Our first Pennsic was 10 years ago. Our dear friend told us about it, and we decided to check it out. We went for a long weekend, watched some fighting, partied, shopped, and had a blast. Then, children happened, and we didn’t go back until 2013. When we were ready to go back, that same friend was now part of a different household and invited us to stay with her again. I must say, we were apprehensive at first. The Lish and I are certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, and we didn’t want to screw anything up for our friend who was now very involved in the society. Luckily for us, our fears were unfounded, and we were welcomed with open arms. We joined the household the following year, and camped with them every year since, with the exception of this year. This year our dear friend was Queen of the East Kingdom, and she invited us to stay with her at the royal encampment, something we consider a great honor.

Prior to this year, we weren’t really too involved in the society. We attended events when we could, much more so during our friend’s reign and when our head of household won crown a few years back. We played the annual Pennsic Assassin’s game run by the East Kingdom Royal Assassin’s guild the past few years. Lish was waterbearer during war and events on occasion.  Aside from that, though, we weren’t deep into it. We didn’t do any Arts and Sciences stuff, we didn’t fight, didn’t help set up and/or run events, etc. This year, some of that changed. This year I started fighting, which brought me into a whole new level of involvement. Also, I’ve started learning more about leather working and armor repair, and might try some metal working as well.

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Our home away from home…or home while at home…damn this shit’s confusing…

As I said before, we camped at EK Royal this year, and we knew only a small number of people there. We again felt nervous about it, even more so now that it was a royal encampment. Our dear friend, I’ll call her bamf (bad ass mofo), has known these people for a long time, and we had concerns that they would approach her during our stay and be all like “who the fuck are these two, and why did you let them in here?!”. Instead of that, we soon realized that we were camping with some of the kindest and most truly awesome people we’ve had the pleasure of interacting with. No drama, no snarkyness, no bullshit, no attitudes, just cool people all helping out to make for a good time! It was pretty amazing, and at no time did I feel out of place. I got to talk at length with almost everyone, and the conversation was fantastic! Also, the camp was run by our camp mom and dad, both of whom were incredible. I really could fill an entire post extolling the awesomeness of these people, it was that good.

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I’m the black barrel with the pony tail…

Onto the fighting stuff. I started off by fighting in the Known World Novice Tournament. They split us up into different pits, and each pit did a round robin so I fought everyone in my pit once. I met some great people at the tournament, one of whom I ended up running with during the bigger battles until he hurt his ankle. In my pit, my wee lad and campmate went undefeated so he moved up. Since they were taking the top 2 seeds from each pit, they had to evaluate second place in our pit because there was a three way tie. Me and two others were 5-3, so we had to round robin again. We all went 1-1, much to the dismay of the marshals, so we went around again. This time, a polearm fighter bested me and my war buddy, so he moved up. I have videos of the fights, and watching them later was educational. This is the first time I’ve seen myself fight, so now I’m picking it apart and seeing what I’m doing wrong so I can correct it. Overall, though, I’m very happy with how it turned out. It was super fun meeting and chatting with the other fighters, and I think I did pretty well considering I’ve only been in armor for 3 months.

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I’m the dumbass throwing up the horns, cuz METAL!!!

Next up is the field battle. This was I think 4 waves of mass elimination. At first I was just kinda running around with no real direction. I tried to do what I could, but didn’t have much of a clue. Later on, I hooked up with a commander and his group, and that made ALL the difference. We had orders, goals to shoot for, a specific plan. THAT I could do. I ended up staying with this team for the rest of the war. I was fighting with the northern army, and my team was referred to as Running with scissors, or as I called it, the suicide squad. After the field battles, we did the bridge battles. Our team was recruited for specific tasks during these, and we rocked it! Briefly, there are 5 bridges with “flags” in the middle. The side that has majority control of the bridge flips the flag to their color. At the end, the side whose flag is flying on each bridge earns a war point. First bridge battle we went to bridge one, ran up the bridge to the center, exited left and ran around to flank the siege weapons (ballistas). These are huge crossbows that launch massive arrows. We took them ALL out, as well as some archers. Sure, we ended up dying, but we got the job done. Another notable event was when our side was slowly being pushed back and about to lose bridge three. They sent us in to hammer the other side with a pulse up the middle. We ran full tilt up the center and creamed their line, pushing all the way through to their backfield. Eventually we all died, since now we were surrounded, but that charge gave our side 20 more feet of breathing room on the bridge, and we kept it. The last I’ll mention was my last death. We were on the front line of a bridge holding it, and ballista bolts were raining down on us. I managed to dodge them and call them out for others for the most part. Eventually, I needed to step aside to let a spear through to the front. I ended up stepping right into a ballista bolt, which hit me dead in the grill of my helm. I can’t help but smile, thinking back. I was cracking up at the irony of it while walking off the field. Here I am calling them all out, and I get nailed with one. It was pretty awesome!

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These dudes are from the same group. Their majesties are in the middle. I got to jump in so the sides would be even! 😉

The last bit of fighting I did was the woods battle. This is a 90 minute resurrection battle that took place (drum roll please) in the WOODS! Shocking as fuck, I know. Once again I was on the sprint team Running with Scissors (which kinda sounds like a messed up native american name), so we were totally goal oriented. We started out by just running full tilt as far as we could into enemy territory, and then harassing their troops enough to stretch them out for when our troops arrived. Once that was done, we proceeded to flit around and apply pressure where it was needed. It went great, and I had an amazing time! The team aspect of being on the field with other fighters, even those not on my side, was great. Many times people were congratulated on their kills, especially those done with great skill and precision. Even during the holds, when we all had to stop fighting while the marshals resolved an issue, we crossed the lines and chatted up our “enemies”, exchanging names, cracking jokes, and just enjoying the camaraderie. When lay on was called, it was straight up back to killing. This all kind of reminded me of tough mudder, since people were very positive and encouraging. I must admit, I had different thoughts of what it must be like to be a fighter. I thought it’d be more like other sports where people are a bit more elitist, where the veterans hoard information or techniques unless you’re “worthy” or in “the club”. Sure, there are some folks I’ve met who are kinda like that, who may say they aren’t that way, but I know they’re full of shit. Sometimes you can just tell that people really think they’re hot shit, and that they consider you beneath them. This lack of humility isn’t surprising to me, but it’s surprising how many people were NOT like that. It’s more like “oh, you like this awesome thing I like as well? Then let me tell you everything about it I’ve ever learned so you can appreciate the awesomeness as much as I do!!!”. I dug that in a big way!

My fighting wasn’t without its issues, though. I’m not even gonna talk about the mistakes and shit I made, cuz for once I’m gonna cut myself some slack and chalk it up to being a feckin’ noob. Most of my issues were either getting a feel for being in a melee, and armor problems. The former resolved itself somewhat over time. I need to get more of a handle on how to assess and approach situations with multiple opponents. With one, it’s much easier. Distance weapon, get it close. Close weapon, stay away. When there is a mix, and they’re arranged in different ways, this gets more tricky. I don’t think it was too big of an issue, since everyone I fought with was really cool and cut me a ton of slack, but it’s something to be mindful of over time. The armor issues were more problematic. My leg armor doesn’t fit all that well, and it hangs off a belt I wear. Even though I have suspenders holding up the belt, the weight on my lower back took quite a toll during the woods battle especially. Also, because of the hockey girdle I wear underneath, the straps tend to get stuck in weird spots and restrict movement, which makes it worse. I’d also prefer to have more form fitting torso armor. Right now it’s like being in a barrel. I think maybe I’ll start saving for some gear now so maybe by next year I’ll be able to get something better. In the meantime, I’m gonna look into cheaper do-it-yourself options.

Surprisingly, we didn’t do much bog trekking this year. With the daytime fighting, general roaming and shenanigans, and pain from not having good footwear, we weren’t as inclined to go and party it up much. We went down twice, got a little loaded, and came back by midnight to pass out. Part of this had to do with us attending to their majesties in the evenings, which was cool because we saw different aspects of what they do. The last time we were part of a reign, we only attended during the day, which was mostly court and fighting. This was attending vigils and visiting people, which was a whole other animal. Still, Bamf and Kamf (kick ass mofo, aka his majesty) were there and it was cool hanging with them whenever we could. The whole vibe was totally chill and awesome.

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Be vewy vewy qwiet…

Finally, the assassin’s game. Sadly, this year we didn’t have as good of a showing as last year. While we solved many of the riddles in the first salvo, we made some key mistakes. We mistook one event for another, and some of the players involved didn’t tell others about our game, so we got kind of stunted. I saw the heads of the guild at midnight madness while we were out shopping, and they said the other team had similar woes, and the game was kind of a bust. Lots of moving parts, and many demands on their time made for some logistical problems. That said, though, we had a great time playing. Figuring out the clues, walking around and talking to random people at camps, and racking our brains for ideas made for a fun time. I was just sad I never saw anyone from the other teams. No shanking this year. There was a huge silver lining in all this, though. The heads of the guild told Lish and I that they would allow us to officially apprentice to be part of the guild if we were interested. I am totally psyched about this, and can’t wait to see how that all pans out. I’ve read what it entails, and I think it’d be a really awesome thing to do, and it’s right up my alley!

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I belong here…with this delicious cider in my coffee cup, cuz I’m classy as fuck…

Overall, this Pennsic resulted in a shift for me with regard to the SCA. Before, I always had a sense of kinda being on the outside looking in. It was as if the sliding glass door to the house was open, but I couldn’t come in cuz I was soaking wet or covered in mud. Now, I feel like I’m finally able to put a foot inside. Mind you, nobody ever made me feel unwelcome. It’s just how I felt because I brought nothing to the table, and was surrounded by people who ALL brought something. It’s like being that one douche at the party who doesn’t bring anything, and then proceeds to eat and drink and have fun at the expense of others. Now things are finally opening up. I’m learning about working on leather and metal a little bit, I’m learning to fight, and I’ll be an apprentice of the assassin’s guild. It’s a relief to find my place, aside from just being the crude sarcastic prat who just drinks, parties, and makes lewd and inappropriate jokes the entire time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a ways off from really feeling like I’m worthy of a seat at the table, but at this point it’s nice to feel worthy of coming in the house to use the shitter! I’m left with a desire to progress in everything. I want to work harder to get better at fighting, creating, and learning, much more so than ever before. I’m even planning on taking a class with a world famous impalement artist so I can learn about doing thrown weapons. So much fun to be had, and we’re just getting started. Stay tuned, fuckers!

TL:DR

Pennsic was fun, people were cool, fighting was cool, apprenticing at the assassin’s guild, and I now feel more at home in the SCA. Also, I took some truly noteworthy craps at war, probably gave the poor bastard after me brain damage as a result. YAY!

Novice Tourney & Tough Mudder 2017

Well, I survived the weekend…sort of. Truth be told, I took so long writing this cuz I ended up with bronchitis and an ear infection right after Tough Mudder last Sunday. Today is the first day since then that I felt quasi-human, which is pretty much my status quo. Anyways, enough about me, let’s instead talk about….well, ME….

To be totally honest, my weekend started Friday night when I saw Iron Maiden at the Barclays center in Brooklyn. It was a pretty late night, so I was tired to begin with on Saturday morning before the novice tourney. Quick review, Ghost was great, Maiden was great, the venue was fucking garbage and the sound guy should’ve been dragged out and beaten with dirty socks filled with mushy pickles. Now, moving onto the tourney. To say I was nervous as fuck would be a gross understatement. I got there nice and early, geared up, and got ready to fight. We presented ourselves to the royals (clothed this time), and I got my first assignment. Duncan in queen’s far. He was a lefty, and I was nervous as all hell, so my head really wasn’t in the game at all. I fumbled my way through the marshals asking me questions (totally guessed at the answers), and started out. He legged me, I legged him back, but I positioned my shield all wrong and he stabbed me in the grill of my helm for the win. Since this was a double elimination tourney, I was 0-1, and on the verge of a super quick elimination.

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The dude in the front ring on the left is the guy I fought in my second fight. I’m in the back with my sword on my shoulder, wearing the black armor with red trim.

My second fight was against a gentleman whose SCA name I don’t know. He fought with a two handed ax. I was much more relaxed during this fight, and though he hit like a truck, I was able to get my sword past his guard and land a shot on his stomach for the win, just as he legged me (not the hip, mid thigh). I was elated to actually score a win, which was my best case scenario for the weekend. Now I was 1-1, still on the chopping block, but doing far better than I expected.

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Second fight, I’m the guy on the left. Yes, I’m wearing doc martins…

My third fight was against another whose name I don’t know. This was, by far, my longest fight of the day. The entire thing lasted about 2 minutes of non-stop wailing on each other, but in the end I came up wanting. He got me with a good shot to the head, and I went down. Still, even though I got eliminated, I was happy to have at least put up a fight. I know I showed how green of a fighter I am by the mistakes I made, and my inability to close on that fight, but I’m pleased with my performance given that I’ve been fighting all of maybe 2 full months or so total, with 3-4 weeks off in the middle due to injury and moving.

I geared down and enjoyed spending the rest of the day talking to the other fighters, trying to motivate them to kick ass and do their best, and retaining for 2 of my favorite people. The kids were there as well, and they had a blast with the other kids. It was a fantastic event, and I’m excited to be fighting at Pennsic this year since this was so much fun. I’m also looking forward to doing some pick-ups at war and learning from the many fantastic fighters that will be there!

The next morning I woke early again and went to Tough Mudder. I decided to take it a bit easier on my legs and hips this year by not running/jogging much, and that paid off. Unfortunately, I made up for it by helping WAY more with people going over obstacles. I started with skidmarked, and after that I became a staple for people going over the wall, letting others use my shoulder as a step and pushing them up and over the wall. Later on we got to pyramid scheme, and one of my teammates was trying to pull me up and wrenched my left arm pretty hard. During the Hero Carry, since the lovely Lish wasn’t able to join me due to a knee injury, I ended up with some random dude. This year, much of the run was in the woods, and I carried him on level ground to the swap point. When we switched, he had to run up hill and an extra third farther. I felt kinda bad for the poor fucker, but better him than me! At least I had a dude as a partner, cuz if any of the other people nearby wanted to partner up (all were rather thin females) I fear I’d have crushed them to death under my fat old sweaty ass. I managed to escape with dignity mostly intact. Mud mile was easier for me this year, and block ness was fun. The worst, though, was at the end. It took me about 5 tries to get up everest this year. Last year I nailed it in one. Later on, my buddy had to make it up, but he was spent from the day, and clocked in at 6’5″ and 330lbs or so. He was able to grab the top, but we at the top couldn’t do it alone. Suddenly, groups of people rushed under him and made a human pyramid to push him up. It was certainly one of the coolest and most amazing Tough Mudder moments I’ve ever seen.

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After cleaning myself off

At the end, I was done. I was a little sore the rest of the day, and completely exhausted. The next morning, my throat was sore and I was coughing. As the day wore on, I felt more and more like crap. I called in the next day and went to the doctor first thing. Bronchitis and an ear infection. Took the next day off too, and I still feel like ass. Coughing up junk and feeling overall plague-esque. Note to self: Don’t let the water from the Tough Mudder obstacles get in your mouth…

So here we are. I made it through the gauntlet, and though I’m a little worse for wear, I’m pleased with my performance this weekend. Now onto prepping for war, and making sure I can manage fighting in a battle of that scale.

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Let’s do this!!!

Fighting Practice update 6.7.2017

Last week I ended up bailing on both practices. The Sunday prior I came down with the plague, and it lasted until this past Sunday when I finally started feeling better. This Monday past I went to practice again, and it was a good one. Duke Brennan came to practice, so quite a few fighters also showed up. Since I’m absolute shite with names, I couldn’t list most of them, but I did know a few. Some were guys from the Thursday night Acre practice like Joe/Dante and Conrad. The only other fighter there I kinda know is an older gent who’s getting back into fighting after being away for many years.

This practice I tried something different. After previous practices, my sword hand would hurt. On this hand I was using a Dark Victory demi that had about 1/2″ of padding on it, and a batting glove. My sword used the hard polymer/resin cups many people use. This was bothering me in 3 different ways. First, I’d get a blister at the base of my pinky. Second, the outside of my thumb knuckle where it meets my hand would get scraped up and a little raw. Finally, and worst of all, the knuckles on my index and middle finger where they meet my hand were getting swollen and very painful. I didn’t know if it was from the padding being too stiff and the pressure being put on them from it or what, but it was painful and still hurts, even after not fighting for a week. Turns out, part of the reason may be that I was death-gripping a bit. I haven’t hit the comfort level to stay totally loose when fighting, and a good part of that is because I’m a very defensive fighter. I tend to wait for an opening, relying more on my defense to keep me alive and grant me opportunities. Might not be the best strategy, but it’s what I’ve got at the moment.

The change I made was to remove the demi padding, and instead use a street hockey glove on that hand. This change is definitely an improvement. The first two issues I mentioned before went away, and my knuckles aren’t nearly as sore as the last few times. I still have stiffness and pain, but I think that’s more due to lack of strength than anything else. I’m still working against being out of shape, and I’ve been physically weak pretty much all my life. Once the move I’m going through right now is done, I hope to do some strength training at home to make things a bit easier. In the meantime, though, this change appears to have definitely been for the better.

Over the night I fought a bunch of people. Some of the much more experienced and aggressive fighters made quick work of me, while others toned things down to give me some pointers and some sort of fighting chance. Duke Brennan was one of these people. He worked with me for awhile and helped me with my shots and power, and his suggestions paid off. I definitely felt an increase in power, and throwing shots was easier. Initially, I’d hold my sword with my thumb, index, and middle finger as lightly as I could, and when firing a shot I’d close the other two fingers to generate the power. His suggestion was that instead of closing my hand, to just swap fingers. Close my ring and pinky, but loosen my thumb, fore, and middle fingers. This felt more natural and gave me enough of a boost to throw a good shot. Landing one, of course, is still quite the challenge, and it should come as no surprise that it didn’t really happen while we sparred. But that doesn’t matter to me, to be honest. I’m glad to have had the instruction, and his grace was mad cool about everything and great to work with.

My other fights that night were the usual fare. I get a good shot in maybe one out of 8-10 fights, depending on who I’m against and how easy they’re going on me. According to Dante, my defense is getting better, which I’m happy about. There’s still much I need to work on, so I’m taking it practice by practice and trying to focus on working one or two things in particular each time.

Finally, I found out that the EK novice tourney is the day before I do Tough Mudder. I’m debating whether or not I’ll do it. I’d like the experience, even though I’ll very likely get eliminated in my first fight or two, depending on the rules. Then again, I don’t know if I wanna risk injuring myself right before TM. I’m gonna play it by ear, as I’m of two minds about it. The rules for fighting in it are that you can’t have been initially authorized more than 2 years prior. Sure, this makes skill levels tough to gauge, since someone can be attending practices for a year or more before being authorized, or like me only a few months. But I don’t know that I’d get too beat up. I’ll likely just get beaned in the head as usual, which is a really safe place to get hit. We’ll see. I have another practice tomorrow, so hopefully I can work on some more shots and start really nailing that shit down. More to come!

Alien Covenant: Review

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Last Thursday I decided to forego sleep and see a late showing of Alien Covenant. I’ve been dying to see this ever since it was announced, which was bolstered by Ridley Scott’s promise to have listened to the fans and delivered where Prometheus did not. My spoiler free review of this movie is as follows: As far as a standalone movie, it’s decent and watchable. It’s an entertaining film, but it doesn’t really stand out in any significant way. As far as Alien canon goes, for those who adore the franchise as I do, it’s a disappointment that they used too many tropes and ridiculous decisions to shit all over the established canon and diminished the franchise as a whole.

NOW FOR THE SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OK, from a standalone movie (not caring about canon), this movie is at best entertaining yet unremarkable. It starts out with a scene between Weyland and David (the android from Prometheus). Problem is, since the scenes with a young Weyland were cut from Prometheus, there’s no real way for most people to know who the fuck that is. The scene is foreshadowing for the reveal towards the end, but it drags and is a very boring start to the movie. Also, it’s apparent from this conversation that David is “off”, so it’s odd that Weyland chose to keep him around, even after his model was upgraded. It’s also odd that David was unaware of this upgrade. Were they somehow able to create and produce self-healing androids in the short amount of time between the two missions? Just seems odd, but we’ll take that one on faith.

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Sorry Hudson, but it is…and it gets worse….

Next you’re sort of introduced to the crew. Some good shit happens here. The scene where the original captain dies in his cryo pod is cool (pun totally intended). After that, they work to fix up the ship and you get some interaction. Problem is, most of it feels kinda disconnected, weak, and forced. The banter between the characters doesn’t really point towards any sort of cohesion as a group. Also, the whole fact that they were a bunch of couples really didn’t have any use or place in the plot whatsoever, aside from Daniels giving exposition about the cabin her and her husband were gonna build. Fassbender did a great job acting, as usual (sans his ‘southern’ accent), but I really didn’t give a shit about any other character. There was very little actual connection. People died, and no fucks were given. In contrast, I was bummed when many of the characters in Aliens died (especially Hudson and Vasquez), and when some of the characters in Alien 3 died (especially Dillon). This is because the script was there, the scenes were there, and the acting was on point. I think Covenant had a good cast, they just didn’t have as much to work with. Then they marketed it as if Daniels would be similar to Ripley, and she wasn’t. She was stronger willed, but she lacked the conviction and confidence that made Ripley who she was.

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He’s in the film in his cryo pod for about 20 seconds, then dies. Such a waste.

Crew aside, the decisions in this film are also stupid. They decide to veer off course to investigate a planet they know nothing about, while also putting thousands of lives in jeopardy in the process. They go to the surface and don’t take any samples or readings before going out without helmets on, knowing that any alien world could be host to unknown diseases they’d have no immunity to, and could bring back to the colony ship. They split up at just about every chance they get, on an unknown world and with an android that is an unknown quantity.

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My reaction to most of the crew’s decisions…

Finally, we get to the destruction of the Alien canon. This, for me, is the part that breaks my heart. So first (timeline-wise), David and Shaw go to the Engineer home world, dock over a huge courtyard, and bomb the shit out of them. Originally, they went there for answers, but nope, bomb time. Also, for an advanced race such as them, their “city” looked like ancient Rome, and there weren’t many of them at all. Maybe a few thousand. Not what one would expect from such an advanced civilized race. Also, they were allowed to dock without any apparent communication. No “unidentified craft, please respond”. Nope, just come on in with your doomsday ship, and we’ll all line up under you like a bunch of fuckin’ idiots. Now, for some reason, before the Covenant arrives, David kills Shaw and dissects her. This appears to go against what is seen in the online video of them that was released just prior to this movie. She put him back together, they seemed to care about what happened to each other and had some sort of friendship. However, out of nowhere, boom, she’s dead. I don’t think he experimented on her with a chest burster due to the fact that there are no other aliens on the planet when the Covenant arrives.

Now the Covenant shows up, and we have people stepping on the spores that impregnate people with these neomorphs. This whole process, in my opinion, was great. I liked how it went into them, gestated, and burst through their spines. Very cool shit. The only not-so-cool thing was the trope of the dude getting sick, feeling sick, and saying “nah, I’m fine, nothing’s wrong”. They’re on an unknown world where diseases can easily affect them, why wouldn’t he bother saying something. The scenes could have had just as much impact, and it wouldn’t feel cheap. Then we move along to the shit with David. Apart from him killing Shaw and taking her apart, we find out that HE is the one that created the Xenomorph (It’s not exactly the same, but extremely close to the classic ones). He lures the captain down to his egg chamber, the idiot captain puts his face in the egg, and BOOM! Facehugger to the grill. Then, an insanely short time later, he wakes up and almost immediately gets his chest cracked open by his new baby Xeno. Now, there were many atrocities during this whole bit. First, facehuggers stay attached for a long time, not a few minutes. Second, when the remove themselves, it’s at least a few hours before the chestburster comes out. Third, the chestburster is more of a snake-like creature and not just a miniature NECA figure of a warrior alien. Finally, to top it all off, it starts mimicking David is some silly ass scene that was just so ridiculous that I almost laughed in the theater.

So there it is. David created them. No idea how, with no queen and no hosts aside from Shaw, whose body didn’t appear to have hosted anything. The entire space jockey/engineer story is washed away and ignored so we can see the android create the Xenos, thus David fulfills his foreshadowing scene in the beginning saying that creators get killed by their creations. How very Mary Shelly. This just irks the shit outta me, and goes against much of the other established canon, even from Prometheus. For example, Xenos and a queen are seen in the ship in prometheus, so how did he create them when they existed before?

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Damnit Ridley, you’re following the wrong example!!!!

Now we get to the Xenos themselves. They did look pretty cool, for the most part. The CGI wasn’t all that great, but the design was good. Sadly, they were kind of stupid, and not all that scary. During the fights with them, I didn’t really feel like the crew were in mortal peril. There was just so very little tension in the scenes. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat, and honestly I felt more excitement during the neomorph battles in the wheat. They seemed smarter, which goes against the whole perfect organism thing. Another thing that really helped with the previous films, sound and music. The others used both to set the mood so incredibly well, and this movie just falls short of that. There weren’t really any memorable moments in the score or sound effects that I recalled even when walking out of the theater.

Now, the ending. First, how’d they kill the Xeno? Yup, you guessed it, right out the airlock. Also, that scene was just a bit silly, with her dodging at the last second as if it couldn’t see the huge ass fucking bulldozer approaching from behind her. Then, she is seen joking around with Tennessee, the dude whose demeanor is NOTHING like someone who just lost the love of his life, and most of his fellow crew. Finally, Walter. He puts her in her pod, and she then realizes that it’s really David. First, David can’t heal and Walter can, so she should’ve known earlier when she was stapling his face. Second, the hole in his chin mysteriously disappeared. And finally, C, his hair is a different color and cut. Did he hit up the salon on the way? I don’t think the engineers had much use of hair care products. It was such a ridiculous and stupid trope to throw in there, and so incredibly obvious, that it was downright insulting at this point.

Some will say that this is all butthurt because this wasn’t the Alien movie we all wanted. I call bullshit on that. This was more like the TV show Lost. It seems like there were all sorts of different directions he wanted to go in, so he went in all of them, and couldn’t decide which would be the official story. Then he expects us to be OK with him choosing the dumbest and most cliché direction of all, and ignore all the plot holes and the shitty change of tone that now affects the entirety of the franchise. Changes to canon like this are like the butterfly effect, they bloom outward and change the rest of canon, for good OR, in this case, bad.

 

 

Fighter practice update 5/16

I’m gonna start using this to log info from my practices, as a way of keeping my progress and letting me know who I met and when. Last night I attended my 5th overall practice. I also attended practice last Thursday, where there were 7 people in armor, which was cool cuz we learned a little about melee. I’ll take this piece by piece.

Last Thursday’s practice had me doing some 1 on 1 with the woman who I sparred with the week before. I started out by fixing my shoulder cop, which had come off a few days before. My shield also needs new edging, but I haven’t gotten to that yet. Anyways, 1 on 1 was good. I felt more in control of my defense and didn’t let as much in. She advised me that I should use my height advantage more, but I’m still hazy on how to actually do that. Next we did some small melee training. This was 3 of us noobs and the woman I’d been sparring with against the 3 more seasoned fighters. We went 1 for 3, which I take as pretty good. It was TOTALLY different than a straight up fight. Much more craziness and disorder, hard to stay together and control the pace. We ended off with some 2 on 2, me and another noob vs the woman and a noob. We won the first round by getting them both. Second round, my partner got tagged early, so it was 2 on one. I got lucky and tagged the newer fighter so it was just a 1 on 1, which she said we could stop without finishing since we’re trying for melee stuff. The end of the night, I found Brad, a gent a little taller than me, but much faster and far more skilled. He used a two handed ax. I did ok, and was able to avoid getting creamed until his gauntlet took a hit and the joint froze. We couldn’t un-stick it so we called it a night.

Last night I started out talking to a guy named Will, and sparring an older gent who was just getting back into the game. Throughout the night, I fought him, a woman who went by the name Purple, Tor, and Tycho at the very end. Tor and Tycho are both lefties, and I’m MUCH worse fighting them. Tycho and Purple were only there to get authorized, so they probably won’t have repeat performances anytime soon. Against the two righties I think I did ok. Not great, but a solid OK. I was able to stay alive for a fair amount of time, usually, and got a few shots through here and there. Against the lefties, not so much. I’m leaving myself far too open on my right side, and leaving my elbow to far out. Thankfully both gents were kind enough to not abuse the openings too much, and just threw out a few “reminders” that my blocking still sucks. My biggest issue, though, seems to be my shot mechanics/technique. I just haven’t had the time to spend working at the pell to practice them, and my lack of upper body strength is certainly a factor as well. I’m very slow, and don’t usually hit hard enough to kill. Will showed me how to do proper wrap shots, though the motion feels awkward and weak. Still, overall I wouldn’t consider it a “bad” practice. I think, at this point, any practice where I don’t get really injured is a good one. I just have so much to learn, and I need so much work. I’m hoping by going twice a week that I’ll start to actually see some improvement before war in a few months. If nothing else, just for endurance and strength. My arms get VERY tired after awhile, and I get out of breath pretty quickly.

The only thing that kinda worries me is the thought that when I hit the peak of my ability, that I’ll still be so bad that I won’t enjoy myself any longer. I’m having fun now, and I really enjoy the sparring and learning. But I know myself from the other arts I’ve done, and my lack of a drive, that killer instinct, always held me back in those. Maybe I’ll be able to get over that. Only time will tell.

Getting into the swing of things

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“A story of thicking and wraps to the ass…”

Well, it finally happened. I finally got enough armor together to start learning to fight in the SCA. There are a few practices that happen near me, so I reached out to pretty much everyone to see what my options were. First, the Thursday night practices. I went to those a few times a few years back, but only worked on pell work. The one time I tried on armor there, it didn’t really fit me and I couldn’t do shit. Second, is a Sunday morning practice. I tried going to that a few weeks back, but issues with my helm, and the fact that it was freezing cold, caused me to abort. Since then my weekends have been jammed and I haven’t been able to go back. Finally, there’s a Monday practice which an old friend of mine was able to get me into. Keep in mind that each practice is with different people, and not the same group.

So, two weeks ago I attended what is, for all intents and purposes, my first real practice. I went to the Thursday one and geared up. There were only two others in armor there, but we worked on some basics. Stance, blocks, footwork, etc. All in all it was good, and everyone was really cool about everything. The following Monday I went to the other practice and worked with my friend and another guy. I missed Thursday and Sunday that week, but went again to Monday practice last night and had another good practice (by my standards).

All in all, from the feedback I’ve gotten, I’m apparently going relatively well for a beginner. Not great, but not awful, and I’m learning. That said, my body getting used to this is rough. After the first few practices, my muscles were so sore I had trouble getting around. After last night, my muscles are sore again, but nowhere near as bad. The only parts that hurt are the unarmored areas that got hit cuz my defense is sorely lacking (SORE! PUNS!).

I must say, though, when I first attended practices years ago, my experience wasn’t as good. There were people there who gave off a vibe that put me off, and I’ve learned by now to trust my instincts. I could have continued going, even without a kit (armor), but I chose to back away instead. These past 3 practices, however, have been very different. The people there are mad cool, patient, and helpful, and really seemed to express an interest in getting me up to speed. In return, I’m doing my best to push myself and not be myself too much, in an effort to prevent me from saying/doing anything to rub others the wrong way.

So now starts the work, and I need quite a bit of it. According to one guy last night, my defense is good for a noob, which I take as a big win. My offense is sorely lacking, but I knew that’d be an issue. I was always more of a defensive fighter, even in martial arts. I see other fighters being aggressive, and one of my biggest concerns is that I’ll never be able to get to that level of aggression. I just never had that killer instinct. Still, I’m approaching this from a place of pure honesty with myself. If I have fun and enjoy doing this, which I currently do, then I’ll keep at it. If I start not liking it, I’ll just pass my gear onto someone who needs it. I’m also going to try and not let others discourage me. I know there will be people who will talk shit, make comments, throw out some put-downs, etc. I’m gonna do my best to brush those aside and not let it ruin my enjoyment. So far it’s been good, and I hope it stays that way. I’ve got a pretty long road ahead, but I’m actually setting myself a realistic goal, and a not-quite-so-realistic one. I’d like to make it to the quarter finals in a tourney, which I think may be possible with a few years of hard work. The other would be to win one, which I think would require a perfect storm of good luck to achieve. Either way, I hope to one day learn enough to be able to teach others and pass it along. You know what they say, those who can’t, teach. I’m ok with that, so long as there’s fun to be had!