Pith Helmet

Battle of Agincourt: October 25, 1415
October 26, 2007, 3:40 am
Filed under: culture

What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmorland. No, my fair cousin:
If we are marked to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will, I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It ernes me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God’s peace, I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more.
Rather proclaim it presently through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart. His passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the Feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a-tiptoe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall see this day and live t’old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian”:
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars
And say “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.”
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day. (King Henry V IV, iii)


Send In The Gator Cops
October 26, 2007, 3:29 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I remember when I was in fifth grade, slapping my hands together and hollering, “Momma, don’t hit me!” when my sweet, gentle, easily-embarrassed mother and I were in the grocery store. I thought it was the height of cleverness. I believe it was thanks to some corrective measures taken by my father, I ceased to see the humor in my behavior and saw it for what it was: boorish and bratty.

Apparently, there are many people who never outgrew this behavior. Take, for example, Desiree Anita Ali-Fairooz. Yesterday, she disrupted a congressional hearing at which the Secretary of State was speaking. During Secretary Rice’s speech, Ms. Ali-Farooz started shouting and waving her hands that looked like they hadn’t been washed since Ms. Ali-Farooz graduated from Finger Painting 101.

Considering that DSS dropped the ball on this one, Blackfive suggested bringing in Blackwater. However, I don’t think we need to go to that extreme. I think the University of Florida Police Department could have handled the protestor quite nicely given their record.

( See … )

Speaking of Blackwater, Wired is encouraging its readers to design the company’s new logo.


Review: Brooks, Max. World War Z: An Oral History of The Zombie War. New York: Crown Publishers. 2006
October 22, 2007, 4:24 am
Filed under: Books | Tags:

“There’s a saying in Spanish when times are bleak or bewildering: La esperanza muere última. ‘Hope dies last.’ And somehow the damn thing stuck with me.”
–Studs Terkel

In the Acknowledgments to his book World War Z: An Oral History of The Zombie War, Max Brooks thanks “the three men whose inspiration made this book possible: Studs Terkel, the late General Sir John Hackett, and, of course, the genius and terror of George A. Romero.” The debt that he owes to Terkel is obvious throughout the book, both in style and and in sentiment.

Max Brooks could easily have been the Studs Terkel of my generation. Only problem is that for my generation, there was no central formative experience. Our great economic crises, the Savings and Loan Crisis and the Stock Market Crash of 1987, paled in comparison with the Great Depression of Terkel’s generation. And whereas almost everyone of the Greatest Generation was touched in some way by the Second World War, most people of my generation can’t even count on both hands the number of people they’ve known personally who had even a peripheral role in the U.S. military actions in Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, and Desert Storm. As a result, Brooks had to invent his own (a la General Sir John Hackett’s The Third World War) — or at least borrow one from Romero.

Terkel is perhaps best known for his oral histories, such as 1970’s Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Good War. In World War Z, Brooks adopts a similar style. In The Good War, Terkel eschewed the orthodox fodder for histories: memoirs of generals, after-action reports, and official histories. Instead, he used interviews with common soldiers, seamen, airmen, Marines, and civilians. Likewise, Brooks’s history of the War of Undead Aggression consists of a collection of interviews with people from all walks of life which gives the reader a broad-brush picture of life during the fight for the survival of the human species.

Among my favorites was the interview with Christina Eliopolis, the Air Force pilot who recounts having to punch out in zombie-infested Louisiana, and the one with Father Sergie Ryzhkhov, the man who single-handedly may have been responsible for revitalizing the job of military chaplain in a faithless, post-Soviet army. Either of these tales could stand alone as a first-rate short story.

Echoing the sentiment as well as the style of Terkel’s work, Brooks’s history extols the virtues of the New Deal. For every problem in the post-zombiefied world, there is a government agency that is making things better. Still, in spite of Brooks’s sometimes not-too-subtle proselytizing, the novel was a joy to read. In fact, my only complaint is that, at times, some of the innovative strategies and weapons in the Total War and Post-War were a bit far-fetched (even for a reader who willingly suspends disbelief long enough to buy that the dead can walk), and, on rare occassions, downright hokey.

According to Variety, Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment has won the battle to produce a film based on the book, and while I’m certain they have the potential to do justice to the novel, I’d still love to see Ken Burns do a treatment for World War Z like he did with The Civil War and The War

Mission: Adventure!
October 21, 2007, 11:56 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

The Evil DM has announced that once he completes Broadsword Expansion Pack I” and “Legends of Steel, his next project will be Mission: Adventure!. To paraphrase the late, great Troy McClure, “It’s the game I was born to play, bay-bee!”

What follows is part of the teaser for what he has in mind:

“Mission: Adventure! “

The premise
“Mission: Adventure!” is a Roleplaying game set in a “pulp-style” universe, that re-creates the action / adventure television, magazine, comic book, and toy themes of the 60’s and 70’s.

The inspiration
Action-packed TV shows like Jonny Quest, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, and Mission Impossible.
Adventure-themed action figure lines like the Adventure Team (A/T) GI Joe’s, Major Matt Mason, and Big Jim’s P.A.C.K
Non-super-powered comic book heroes and teams such as Cave Carson, and The Challengers of the Unknown.
Post-War Pulp magazines such as Man’s Exploits, Escape to Adventure, Rage, etc.

The campaign
The time period would be similar to that of real world Earth in the late 60’s to the early 70’s. In the world of “Mission: Adventure!” the “Iron Curtain” still stands and the “Cold War” is red hot. It’s a world where small teams of agents fight a war in the shadows to ensure that their side comes out on top. In “Mission: Adventure!” the ideological choices are easy. Good and evil are well defined. There is freedom and democracy or there is totalitarianism and oppression.
Your characters can be part of a global organization, a national security force, or a small team of privately funded agents. They come from all walks of life, ex-military, scientists, athletes, law enforcement agents, daredevils, etc. The characters will travel the world and beyond- whether it’s exploring a “Dinosaur valley” in the Amazon basin, breaking up a drug smuggling ring in Macao, or serving as part of a strike force assaulting a secret base on the moon.

(

October 13, 2007, 11:04 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Here there be monsters — real and fantastic. First, the real:

Sixty-five year old Clinton “Don” Simpson has been charged with two counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault of A Child. The girls who have made the allegations had been guests at Mr. Don’s Whistlestop, Simpson’s elaborate miniature railway which was a popular local children’s attraction.

[ source: Chron.com – Houston Chronicle ]

Authorities have directed Simpson’s family to suspend operations at the miniature train facility. Their website, http://www.mrdonswhistlestop.com, has shut down as well. However, older versions of their website can still be found. A glance back at the 2002 variant reveals an eerie bit of foreshadowing by way of a caption above a photo of Simpson’s trains:

For Children and Adults (Is there a difference?)

Yes, Mr. Simpson, there is. A lesson I am certain you will soon learn at the hands of the Texas Department of Corrections.

Now, for the fantastic. The brilliant minds over at Something Awful have created some interesting photos of D&D monsters as their assignment for the October 12, 2007 edition of Photoshop Phriday.

First up is our old friend, the Owlbear. Old school gamers will recognize him from the David C. Sutherland III illustration from the AD&D Monster Manual.

Someone named pipes! did a Photoshop rendition:

My favorite of the lot is Sahaqiel’s depiction of good, old-fashioned Bullywug diplomacy.

Promised Land (of The Midnight Sun)
October 7, 2007, 3:21 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I am currently reading Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. The novel is an “alternate history detective story.” What makes it “alternate history” is that while the State of Israel collapsed in 1948, the District of Sitka, a Jewish reservation on the Alaskan panhandle persevered.

Apparently, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thinks that would actually be a good idea. In an International Qods Day speech, Ahmadinejad called on Israel’s Western allies to “give these vast lands of Canada and Alaska to them [the Israelis] to create a country for themselves.”

[ source: Tehran Times ]