Sunday, December 28, 2008

LARPs and LRRPs


This is true, but it's a bit of a fable...

The Bujinkan gets a lot of heat for the ninja connection. The detractors like to throw the insulting label "LARPers" around. "LARP" stands for "live action role play." If you're not familiar with the term, it's like crossing Dungeons and Dragons with a Renaissance Festival and taking it all to another level. The Society for Creative Anachronism is one kind of LARP.

Obviously, the allegation is that Bujinkan folks are dressing up like 16th Century Japanese assasins and pretending.

"We" tend to resent this. Though many of "us" don't help our cause.

And let me briefly mention at this point that our "unbroken" lineage to 34 generations of ninja masters is disputed by many historians, and not all of them have an axe to grind regarding the issue. The fact seems to be that the paperwork isn't there. "We" tend to argue that there are lots of reasons why the paperwork doesn't match-up: some are good reasons, and some are bad reasons. I've become somewhat agnostic on this particular point. Intellectual honesty demands that I admit the paperwork isn't all together for an independent verification. On the other hand, practice of the techniques identified as ninjutsu leads me to believe something had to be there for Takamatsu. I'll leave it to more qualified minds to prove or disprove whether or not he collected the techniques, expanded on the techniques, or invented the techniques out of thin air.

While there are kata associated with Togakure Ryu, there are also techniques for silent walking. Now these are not described in kata -- at least as they have been taught to me. Silent walking is usually passed on as a series of suggestions or guidance on how to move by subtly shifting your weight and minimizing sound. In order to really master these methods, you have to practice them.

I once taught the silent walking methods to a Vietnam veteran. Back in the day, he was a LRRP. Now "LRRP" should most definitely not be confused with "LARP." LRRP stands for Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol. Soldiers volunteering for LRRP units snuck into enemy-held territory and searched for enemy units. Then they would radio in for artillery, or air strikes, or more conventional infantry. Silence and stealth was their trade. Since they usually deployed in very small teams and specifically sought out much larger bodies of troops, they tried to avoid being found at all costs.

So this old LRRP listened carefully as I briefed him on the "ninja" walking methods. I explained to him that practice was essential, and that I did not claim to have them mastered. He told me the methods were very similar to what he'd been trained to do, or learned by trial and error, in the jungles of Vietnam. Of course, this makes sense, since the human body moves only so many different ways. Not long after this quick training, he was silently sneaking across the mat. Despite the years and mileage, his body quickly relearned the old habits and he was the quietest of any of us.

Learning to walk quietly does not make a person a ninja, any more than it makes them a LRRP. Nor is it an essential martial arts skill -- though I'd suggest it has certain benefits. But if I go out to the park to practice walking silently through the grass, am I LARPing? Or is it only if I put on my AWMA-supplied Shinobi Shozoku (with two piece mask) and hide in the woods?

What about if I throw around blinding powder? Who can deny that learning to blind an opponent is not a useful combative skill? But I'm not denying that I'm LARPing if I play dress up at the same time.

There's a really thin line here. And I think it is all too easy to cross.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Update

Hey!

I had my ACL reconstruction surgery last Friday afternoon. The surgical team was phenomenal, and except for the part where they cut into my flesh, poked around a major joint, and drilled holes in my bones to attach a bit of some cadaver's tendon, I really couldn't have asked for a better experience.

I've been recovering very nicely. I'm able to bend my knee on my own to about 90 degrees, I can put weight on my leg, and I have no serious pain. In fact, the worst part seems to be the itching I have from keeping my stitches covered.

I was even able to hobble a couple of blocks up to a Shorin Ryu karate dojo in my neighborhood and watch classes yesterday. They were working on kihon, and watching the punches, kicking, stances, and walking was very interesting. I've been working on my martial arts notes, and correalating several interesting sources on some of the most basic principles of fighting. The karate school demonstrated many of the essential principles very clearly in their movements, and I was also able to watch several different levels of practitioners to see the different qualities in their movements.

I'm hobbling around on crutches, although I think I'll be able to graduate to a cane after my post-op follow-up next week. I spent some time making a Jo last week: a 4-foot long stick. I expect to use it in the dojo when I get back onto the mat. As soon as I feel up to avoiding rolling students, I'm going to get back into my own dojo to teach. I wanted a stick for extra support, and also to make me highly visible to the students so they it's easier for them to avoid bumping into me. A hanbo would work, but an extra foot of length will be somewhat easier for me to handle. Plus, I haven't really worked with a Jo...

Here are some YouTube videos of different styles of stick and staff work. As always, I make no guarantees about the quality...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Great Moments in Ninja (Pop) History

Here... at 5:08.

I know, it really doesn't seem like much now, but this was the early 80's. And it was one of the first mainstream appearances of a ninja in American pop culture.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Sons of Dorn: The Fifth Company of the Imperial Fists Space Marines

A few months back, I posted pictures of my White Scars Space Marines. They seemed to be a hit. If you google image "White Scars Space Marines," pictures of my models show up near the top! I like to think of my blog as being more about martial arts, but it's great to be known for something! At the time, I mentioned that my next project would be the entire Fifth Company of the Imperial Fists. This project has progressed to the point where sharing some photos might be worthwhile. So here they are...
So far I have the following units finished: the 1st and 2d Tactical Squads, the 9th Devastator Squad with attached Razorback, and the Company Chaplain. I also have elements attached from the 1st Company: Captain Lysander, a Librarian in Terminator armor, a Terminator Squad, and a 1st Company Dreadnought.

A shot of Lysander, surrounded by his bodyguard of 1st Company Terminators. Eventually, these guys will have a Land Raider to transport them.


A group shot showing the Forge World Dreadnought.




Another group shot.



The Terminator squad, with Forge World Imperial Fist shoulder pads and other conversions.





This is a Forge World Mark IV Dreadnought. I used the siege drill left arm and assault cannon arms. If this model ever sees a game, I will probably count the siege drill as a normal Dreadnought CCW and heavy flamer. The back banner is brass rod and thin sheet plastic. The rod is capped with fists cut from space marine arms in my bit box.





In a Battle Company, the 9th and 10th Squads are Devastator squads carrying heavy weapons. This is the 9th Squad, lead by an archive Vet Sergeant model. I plan for both Devastator squads to have Razorback transports for added punch. The army is themed for a siege, and I figure in that instance, the company would deploy as much punch as possible.



Here's the Terminator Librarian.





The 1st Tactical Squad, lead by another archive Vet Sergeant, armed with bolter and power axe. The squad gets a little extra punch from a plasma gun. It does not have a heavy weapon. I envision the first and second squads as manuever squads that will be supported from the vehicles and Devastator squads. Eventually, all the Tac squads will have their own Rhino transport.



This is the 2d Tactical Squad. The Vet Sergeant is armed with a power sword and bolt pistol, and the squad also has a plasma gun. I've tried a couple of subtle things to emphasize my theme of a Siege-based Imperial Fists force. The Fists are a first Founding Chapter, one of the oldest in the Imperium, so I've used archive metal models to show older marks of armor. The Fists are the parent chapter for the Black Templars, so I've mixed in a few Black Templar parts. There's some disagreement about what quirks and traits characterize the Imperial Fists. Some players believe the Fists have a mild tendency towards knightly imagery. I fall into this camp, especially since they are the parent chapter for the Black Templars. They also seem to like swords, so I've used power swords where I could. I used the small shields from the Bretonnian knights box on the arms, playing up the knightly imagery, and adding some extra armor that would be useful for a siege force.




This is the 5th Company Chaplain. I'm not 100% convinced that a power weapon and power fist combo is useful, but I really think this model screams out to be included in an Imperial Fists force.



These are the Vet Sergeants for the 3rd and 4th Tactical Squads. I have another box of Tactical marines ready to go, but I was ready for a break after painting all this yellow. I still have plenty of Imperial Fists and vehicles to paint before the whole company is finished. I'm going slow, because I'm still deciding how to paint-up the two squads of Assault Marines... But they should look good.
In the meantime, I've backtracked to add to my White Scars army. I'm midway through painting a command bike squad. I'll post pictures of those when I'm finished. I'm ripping through these projects while I'm on the injured list for this ACL problem.













Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Why vote for the lesser evil?

I wait no longer...

Vote Cthulhu.
He believes in an Army of One...
He has the ultimate heath care plan...
And he has plans to solve poverty and world hunger in one fell swoop.

Why not? After all most of America will be voting for Nyrlathotep...





News Update

I want to post this once so I don't have to recount the story in untold numbers of emails.

In late August I was attending a Monday night class at the dojo. We were warming up and doing wind sprints across the mats. On the last length of the mat, I turned on my right leg and my knee gave out. I dropped like a sack of wet gi. It took all my determination to get up and hobble off the mat to get out of the way.

This was not the first time I'd hurt this knee. My first injury was nearly two years ago. I was working a throwing drill. Most throwing drills -- for better or worse -- involve a cooperative partner. This is done for safety's sake. Judo and MMA sometimes use antagonistic throwing drills -- and the injuries do mount up. This is the main reason why BJJ sparring usually starts on the ground -- hence the term: "rolling."

During this drill I went to throw my partner with Osoto Gake, a rear sweep. I made the cardinal mistake of not taking his balance at the head first; and instead he shifted and threw me. Most of my body went one way, but my right leg was stopped in place for the throw. I felt a pop in my knee. It hurt for a couple of days, but went away. I decided to be a tough guy and didn't go to a doctor.

Between these two events, I could feel shifting in my knee. Some of these shifts were minor, and some were more... impressive.

After my last injury, I had an MRI done. It should a torn Anterior Cruciate ligament, or ACL, and a couple of tears in the meniscus. I went to an orthopedist two weeks ago, but I wasn't pleased with the visit. I won't give too much detail, but I didn't like that the doctor kept hinting I should find a different hobby. Maybe something safe, like golf.

So I got a second opinion this week. I went to see a doctor a little further away, but he was in my high school graduating class, and I hoped he'd be more sympathetic. He was.

He believes my ACL probably tore during the first injury. The things I felt were pivotal shifts in the joint the ACL is suppossed to prevent. The twist during the last wind sprint was a time bomb waiting to happen. Fortunately, he can reconstruct the ACL very easily, and its a surgery he performs all the time. He recommended the surgery if I intend to keep the same level of activity up and said it is what he'd do if it was his knee.

So I'll be getting the surgery done in November. We haven't set the date just yet. The recovery is fairly long, but he was optimistic about the progress. I'd be down initially about two weeks. Then I'd go for physical therapy. The doc said I could be reintroduced gradually into martial arts as part of my PT. I'll probably be running again, short distances, in about three months, and possibly back to nearly normal class participation at 7 to 9 months. I'd be fully cleared in a year. The first doctor had said I'd be off the mat completely for a year.

So is this what's kept me from blogging all this time? No, not really. But my mind has been on many other things lately. Not to mention that I've been executing my master plan for world domination by destabilizing the US economy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cheesecake returns

I'm a fan of the artist Bawidamann. Maybe you can tell why in this side-by-side shot of the art and the artist's inspiration.

Dark Secrets

Somewhere on the Bullshido.com server lurks an especially vigorous attack on the first ninjutsu dojo I ever belonged to. Now, I'll be the first to say that there was plenty worth attacking about this dojo, but somehow this young man missed all the shenanigans and instead complained for several paragraphs that the dojo didn't teach him to fight correctly.

Based on some clues within the post, I was able to do some rough calculations and determine that when this young man left the dojo he was between 12 and 14 years old. Now in his mid-to-late twenties, he's discovered the ultimate secret to fighting by training in MMA with adult men. Ok, tough guy.

I haven't seen any martial arts school teach the Under-14 crowd the secrets of brutal close quarters hand-to-hand combat. Maybe one is out there, But I'd be nervous about what they're doing to the kids' psyches.

This isn't to say what's taught to kids is some watered down version of martial arts. Rather, what's taught is how to punch, how to kick, how to throw, how to stand, how to move correctly -- but without focusing on the effects. And even while we're talking about a proper strike or throw, the kids themselves are happily ignoring the ultimate point of the strike or throw: to hurt another human being.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. I don't want a ten-year-old assassin ready to kill the playground bully with a flick of his wrist. Most kids, up through high school, are in a martial arts class struggling to learn how to coordinate their bodies. The most effective self-defense for them is the inner strength instilled by the discipline of class, the respect for self and others, and the confidence that grows out of practice. I'm sure a few of them will get into physical scuffles, but (at least with the kids I deal with) the greatest danger is probably a minor injury, a bloody nose or a broken arm. I'm confident the skills we teach -- and they learn, which is the most important part -- will carry them through that level of danger.

These days it seems most kids go through a martial arts class as part of the parade of sports they try. Most won't stick with it, so while you have them, you try to show them the best and brightest side of martial arts. This is the part that makes the human spirit shine. You don't drill them in the ugliness of assault.

But as a teacher, it's important to realize that you're not teaching the physical movement differently. I've never modified a technique or kata. I've never not taught proper distancing and angling. I've never not shown how to properly transfer power through a punch to a target. And I've never taught flashy weapons handling over practicality. (Of course, this is all within the limits of my understanding at the time.) It's all there. So the foundations are being laid in every student.

But a time does come when you show the truth.

J, for example, has been with us since he was very small. Now he's about to go off to college on a ROTC scholarship. I remember scolding him in class as a kid. But he's pretty talented. As an aside, J's another one of those guys who think MMA holds the truth about real fighting. I hear hm talking about all the various, cool grappling moves he's practicing. I don't know if he's really cross training or messing around in his backyard.

J's even thinking about the Army's Top Fighter, an MMA-type competition fed by the Army Combative training.

I was working with J one recent Saturday. He asked if there was anything I was working on. Actually, I'm working on the first couple of Kukishinden Ryu taijutsu kata, so I showed him Seion. As we worked through it, I realized Seion had a couple of secrets worth mentioning to J.

So I explained how Kukishinden Ryu taijutsu is based on fighting in full armor against a similarly armed opponent. The idea in the first section is to use the armored opponent's top heaviness against him, and throw using the force of your legs. After a couple more tries, I explained how grabbing in kumiuchi allowed the right hand to latch onto the chest plate like a handle -- and more importantly for a future Army officer; that soft body armor had a similar opening that could be used. I could tell that got his attention. Then I showed how you should dump the opponent onto his head. And also how I believe, though it's not in the kata, that given the situation the proper "ending" of the kata is not a flurry of strikes before backing away. (Which is the self-defense response we usually teach.) Rather, stabbing the opponent in the neck, or using his helmet for leverage in breaking the neck.

"The point is," I told him, "kill the guy standing up, or no later than as he hits the ground; and use a weapon if you can."

I don't care how you get there. You can use Judo, BJJ, MMA, Taijutsu, TKD, Tai Chi, etc. As handed down to me by many different people whom I have every reason to trust, that statement is the only secret to combat as it really matters. Train any art with a deep understanding of this concept, and you are on your way to becoming dangerous.

It's a brutal, ugly truth. It's not something I see myself getting a class of 10-year-olds to chant like I'm Sensei Kreese running CobraKai. But I don't have to: I only need to teach the movement correctly. When the time is right, when the student is right, you can share the little secrets about the dark side. Those ideas that clarify the movement and make it all matter.

Olympic level Martial Arts

Although all the attention has understandably been on the swimming, and traditional sports, there is no shortage of exciting martial arts action at the Olympics: Judo, Tae Kwon Do, several forms of wrestling, boxing, fencing...

I think you'll find the Judo competition especially interesting. MSNBC has highlights available on line. One of the fascinating things about this competition is the talent from all over the world. Japan dominates this sport, but plenty of other countries have sent impressive athletes. One highlight features a spectacular throw from a Kazakhstan judoka.

It's possible there will be some coverage this week of Tae Kwon Do, because of the human interest story about the Lopez family, which is sending two brothers and a sister to compete: three family members in one Olympic event.

I'm no expert on the Olympic sports martial arts, but I am one of those guys who gets all geeky about the Olympics when they come on. I find them compulsive watching.

Bigfoot sighted!

I can't make this stuff up...

Of course, with DNA test results like: human OR opossum, it's no wonder OJ was acquited.

Generation Kill

I highly recommend the HBO mini series: Generation Kill. It's based on a non-fiction book of the same about a Marine Recon company during the initial invasion of Iraq.

Sideshow Collectibles presents: Snakes Eyes 12"action figure

Sideshow Collectibles have announced they will produce a line of GI Joe toys under license to Hasbro. These are pictures of the first figure they will release sometime next Spring: Snake Eyes. They brought prototypes to the recent San Diego ComicCon 2008.





The really scary thing is... This ain't that far off from my gear suite.














Yeah, I have one on pre-order...






Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Problem of Definition


My posting of the YouTube video below showing a ToShinDo trained "ninja" winning an MMA bout in 26 short seconds seems to have set off some heated discussion. I was hoping to get more open discussion, but I forgot I was posting on the open web... If you haven't already checked out the video, and posted any thoughts, I'm still encouraging opinions.

Part of the reason we have such a heated discussion is that we're not all using the same definition of the term "martial arts." At first glance, it seems like a specific enough term, indicating any method of attack and defense.

But really, "martial arts" is one term that encompasses at least three related, but different activities:
  • Reality Fighting: That is, techniques of movement meant to save your ass in life-threatening combat.
  • Sport Martial Arts: Which runs the gamut from fitness/exercise to professional and competitive sports.
  • Aesthetic Martial Arts: These are martial arts intended primarily for culture or entertainment, such as demonstration, dance, or even movie-making.
I say, "at least three" because there's plenty of room for overlap in these categories, and even some subcategories. For example, reality fighting includes personal self-defense courses within the context of violent crime, and you have military instruction that teaches methods to deal with the realities of the battlefield. Even that can range from non-lethal methods for use in peace keeping operations, to mass melee among bodies of troops, to sentry removal.
So without one, settled definition of "martial arts" it can be very difficult to discuss the topic across the internet.
One popular website demonstrates this problem. Their idea -- a paradigm, really -- of good martial arts is MMA competitive fighting. Based on what they've seen, they espouse the idea that this is the only way to be effective in martial arts. Why? Because two extremely fit, scary looking fighters get into a ring and connect with full force techniques that ultimately prove one man to be superior to the other. It sure looks like a real fight; and we're always told there are no rules. Except there are three very important rules:
  1. The fighters are matched for relative size, weight, and experience
  2. Neither intends to kill the other one, and both fighters know this.
  3. Most importantly, there are no weapons involved.
Meanwhile, the local strip mall martial arts school -- commonly derided as a "McDojo" -- gets a bad rap because they focus on memorizing forms, physical fitness, and some "feel-good" philosophy. Possibly there is some light sparring.
Yet this ignores the good work many "McDojos" do at keeping responsible, happy, fit students. They provide an outlet for stress and aggression, and also an opportunity to connect with a cultural tradition. Statistically speaking, most of these students are not going to end up in a fierce close quarters battle with a mugger or terrorist, and few will be foolish enough to choose to enter a competitive match -- at least not without increasing the intensity of their training. The most dangerous enemy they will face on a regular basis is themselves, and if they are good students, they will be equipped to meet that challenge.
I've been involved in martial arts for many years now, and I've been part of just about every approach to training you can think of. I haven't found it to be one size fits all because the reasons for getting involved are as many as their are students. I do think it is dangerous for any practitioner to fail to understand this spectrum of training. It can be very dangerous to think of yourself as a hard core warrior if your monthly session is Tai Chi at the Senior Center. But it is equally dangerous to think that you can take your MCMAP instructor's certificate and open a children's program when you leave the service -- you're not doing your wallet or your students any favors on that one.
Lastly, I've found that the key to a sustainable martial arts involvement, and the key to more advanced levels, is to embrace the spectrum and understand the importance of the different levels. The most common problem is to concentrate on the aesthetic and intellectual aspects and forget the martial in martial arts. I'm working on a post that will return to this point in the near future.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

EyeClops


Have you heard about these? The geek in me is pretty excited. These are the EyeClops Night Vision goggles using 65-Year-Old infrared technology to allow you to see out to a possible 50 feet in total darkness for the low price of $80. And you'll be able to get them at ToysRUs.
The headgear uses invisible lights in the infrared portion of the spectrum to illuminate the area in front of the wearer. The goggles themselves translate the infrared light into a visible image. This is "active" night vision since you actively have to shine the infrared light. Modern night vision technology is "passive." It amplifies any existing light (visible or infrared) to create the image for the viewer.

Batman Returns

Well, here we are again, in the middle of Bat-mania.

The Dark Knight continues to generate hysteria. And since we're now on the downside of that hype, the rumors have turned to who will play the villain in the third installment of Christopher Nolan's Bat-Mythos.

(If you're just returning from Afghanistan or something and are among the deprived few who haven't seen the Dark Knight yet, there will be spoilers here, so watch out!)

The most prevalent of these rumors is that the Riddler will be the next villain. These rumors began even before this movie opened. Those rumors centered on Anthony Michael Hall playng the riddle. Hall, best known for being the red-haired dweeb in all those 80's John Hughes movies, has turned into a respectable character actor and appears in The Dark Knight as a TV reporter named Michael "Mike" Engel. This is the same reporter we last see captured by the Joker and displayed on video delivering the Joker's message to Gotham City.

This sets up a believable Riddler for the next movie. The Nolan Bat-Mythos strive for a certain believability about these fantastic characters. The Riddler is obessesed with all kinds of riddles, enigmas, and mysteries. A TV reporter obsessed with the true identity of the Batman might make a good set-up for the Riddler.

However, the latest rumors have the Riddler role being battled over by Phillip Seymour Hoffman or Johnny Depp. Okay, I can see Johnny Depp as somebody's Riddler, but not Chris Nolan's Riddler. And once Hoffman got mentioned, somebody suggested he'd be better as the Penguin, and again, I don't really see the Penguin fitting into this storyline.

Perhaps the wildest rumor is the Maggie Gyllenhaal's character, Rachel Dawes (SPOILER!) did not die in the explosion. Instead, Rachel survives and becomes Catwoman. I sure hope that's not the case. A move like that would "jump the shark," or is the new term, "Nuke the Fridge?" When Dawes died, it gave the whole movie a sense of urgency. Bringing her back would not feel right, or treat the audience with respect. On the other hand, Dawes death creates a vaccum in the story for Catwoman to have a purpose. Right now, Bruce Wayne is lonely and vulnerable emotionally. It's a perfect time for a sexy kleptomaniac who's also a little crazy -- but far from evil -- to cross his path.

But rumors like these are like so much smoke: insubstantial.



Red Sonja

One of the recent comments that came in recently asked if I had anything about next year's Red Sonja movie. Um, not much, really. All that's public is: Robert Rodriguez is directing. Rose McGowan is starring. And these two posters have been released as teasers. Honestly, I don't think they even have a script at this point. I do know they haven't started filming yet. But the posters look cool.

I'll withhold my enthusiasm for this until I hear more... But won't anything be better than the Bridgitte Nielson version? Well, won't it?



Friday, August 08, 2008

The Octogon

Here's an interesting bit: Although not real clear, it seems the "ninja" in this video of an MMA cage bout ended up the winner.

And one reason it's not real clear is that what technique is visible does not appear to be classic taijutsu. Of course, HWSNBN has said all along that "real" fighting won't look like practice. (Although he also says MMA isn't "real" fighting because both people start and end fully expecting to go home at the conclusion of the pre-arranged match, and there is no possibility of one or both fighters pulling out weapons, and... oh, you get the point.)

Another reason is that no one who posted this really bothered to identify the fighters. So why do I make the educated guess the "ninja" is the winner? Because it seems to be posted by one of the To Shin Do Quest Centers, and why would they post a loss?

Something for you all to mull over. Draw your own conclusions.

Don't try this at home!

Did that guy just spit fire at that kid?

Bonus!
Bonus II!!
BonusIII!!!

(Relax, it's just for laughs.)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A Hummer for the Silent Master!

No, it's not a kung fu flick on late night Skin-a-max... It's the latest photos smuggled by JRF's spies from the set of GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Here we see Snake Eyes having a bit of ninja style road rage

So just how excited does this make me? This about sums it up: kick up the volume first!


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Craptacular!
















Well, it seems my early skepticism about the GI Joe movie was well-founded.










The early word was that "GI Joe: A Real American Hero" was being *ahem* updated to be an international strike force based out of Brussels. The fear in Hollywood was that George Bush and the Global War on Terror had made the concept of an American combat team fighting for freedom wherever there's trouble too unpalatable to be profitable throughout the world. Sounded like bad news to me.










Then word started trickling in about the casting... Unknown guy. Unknown guy. Kurt Russel. Unknown girl. Sienna Miller. Unknown guy. Marlon Wayans. Unknown guy. RAY PARK as Snake Eyes! Not so shabby on that last one.










Then the picture came out of the Snake Eyes costume. It was dead on perfect. Awesome news!










But they've released more pics, and it seems the answer for designing uniforms was to make all the Joes look just like Snake Eyes. All the originality is gone from the characters. Now, I didn't expect a football jersey wearing Bazooka to show up, but making all the uniforms basic black with form-fitting body armor?


There sounds like there's even more reason to hate here. "Nano-bomb?" Power Armor?


*sigh*





Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Hoff!

The Original Nick Fury!

Do you think Nick will appear in this? Not to "incredible" to believe he might show up. Especially since the helicopter gag wasoriginally Nick's idea in an issue of the Ultimates. Of course, Bruce Banner didn't appear so willing in the comic book.

And what would Nick Fury do if he ever gave up the "life?" Probably this...

Want something Nick Fury-ish that's more realistic?

Oh, here's the next adrenaline rush for this week...

I guess the Hoff was too drunk at the time...

Okay, for those of you who -- like me -- may have left the theaters a wee bit too soon when Iron Man ended, here is an unauthorized video of the "stinger."

Now, repeat after me... "I will never again leave a Marvel super hero movie before the lights come up."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tactical Force TF16

Sorry that photo is so blurry. This is the Tactical Force TF16 I purchased last Sunday. The TF16 is an airsoft M4. Airsoft guns are a type of air gun. They shoot 6mm plastic pellets at relatively low velocities.

The quick history on these is that extremely strict firearms laws in Japan lead to a demand among "fans" for extremely realistic replicas of military guns that could be used for some kind of target practice. It was a short leap from shooting paper to shooting people, and now these things are used in elaborate games of tag, much like paintball. However, the nature of realistic airguns has pushed these games of tag into military simulations. And some military and law enforcement groups have latched onto the technology for force-on-force training.

Mention "force-on-force" training, and I get interested. So when I saw one of these babies in a local sports equipment store, I started salivating. The TF16 is an "AEG" or "automatic electric gun." It uses batteries to drive gears that run the air chamber. This can be done fast enough to allow a rapid rate of fire -- the TF16 is rated for 900 rounds a minute. All you have to do is hold down the trigger.



Full auto anything sounds like fun to me, but the TF16 is priced at $129.99, so I didn't snatch one up quickly. Instead, I went to several competitor stores to see what kinds of airguns that had, and what the prices were. You can imagine that a realistic looking airgun makes lots of people nervous, so most other stores had clear, plastic-cased guns. Other guns weren't AEG, but spring loaded one shot at a time. So if I wanted a gun that looked like a real-deal M4, the TF16 looked like it. I also knew the store put the airsoft guns on sale from time to time. So I waited a couple of weeks until last Sunday's flier indicated a 25%-off sale.
Once I'd finished my comparison shopping, and the sale was on... I was ready to buy my very own AEG!



The TF16 is superbly detailed in every respect. It's 1/1 scale. The stock extends. It includes accessory rails. The sights are fully adjustable. And it includes a replica "red dot" sight.


The instructions told me the batteries needed to charge between 2 and 6 hours. So I had to wait a little while before being able to try out my new air gun. In the meantime, I set up my basement target range. I jerry-rigged a target and trap. I'd be able to shoot the paper bullseye, into a net, and the pellets would drop into a bag.
Then I figured out how the magazine worked. This was fairly complicated, since you had to crank the springs in the magazine until the BBs were in place.


Once I was fully-charged, I turned on my red dot sight and slapped my magazine into place. Then I pulled back the charging handle above the pistol grip and clicked the selector switch to "semi." I was ready to rock and roll!


A few shoots later, I was hooked. Everything was working great. The red dot sights were awesome! It took me a little getting use to it. But I was able to keep both eyes open and put the red dot right on top of my target. Best of all... the BB went right where I wanted it.

At that point, I switched the selector to full auto. I pressed the trigger and cut loose with 900 rounds of BB fury! I was able to shoot out the center of my target. The shot groups were extremely tight at 20 feet on full auto.

This was heaven! Full auto fun right in my very own basement. And the sound was no worse than a typewriter. (You remember those, right?) Of course, on full auto, the magazine ran dry quickly and I had to reload.


I reloaded the weapon and started shooting again. Then I noticed that holes were no longer appearing in the paper target. I fiddled with the magazine again, and even went back to semi-auto fire. This time, the sound in the gear box changed form a stiff "whiff" to a dull "whaff." The air was no longer being directed out the barrel of the gun, but escaping out the sides of the air chamber.
My airsoft gun was defective. Talk about feeling deflated! My shooting session hadn't lasted 40 minutes. So, despite my big fun, I'm giving a hearty two-thumbs down to the Tactical Force TF16. Don't buy one! On the bright side, I was able to return the rifle to the store without a hitch.

What have we learned? Well, if the cheapo red dot sight on a crappy air gun worked this well, I can only imagine a real red dot sight works much, much better. So I'll be saving some pennies to add one for my real rifle. Second, airsoft guns don't like me.