Thursday, August 11, 2005

Sidebar Tour

While I was procrastinating (I still have at least one article to write about the CCS Sectional Match), I decided to up date my sidebar.

It's kind of like in college, when I had a paper due the next day so I decided to clean my desk. Then I found my checkbook, which I hadn't seen for WEEKS (since the last paper was due 'tomorrow') and sat down to balance it. Then I started looking for a pen and found it resting on a half-finished letter to Mom, so I finished it, then balanced my checkbook, then finished cleaning the desk, stared at the typewriter and my notes for a while, and went off to the post office to buy stamps.

You know how it goes. Sometimes, when you sit down to Write (capitalized), you decide to just write (lower case).

My sidebar features both books and movies, because I'm interested in reading things that other people have written, and . . . and . . . and watching movies because it takes neither imagination nor effort. That's partly why I gave up my Cable TV subscription five years ago and never missed it; when I had TV, it was too easy to do absolutely NOTHING for hours at a time.

But I still have the TV, and a VCR and a DVD player. I buy the movies I like, and watch them from time to time. By now I have a pretty good library, so it's no problem deciding that tonite I feel like watching "ZULU", and a couple of days ago I watched "Gross Point Blank", and before that "Young Guns", and before that I watched "Point of No Return" with Brigit Fonda as well as "La Femme Nikita" in the original French version, and before that "Last Man Standing" and "Silverado" and "Ronin" and .... well, you get the idea. And you know what kind of violent action movies I enjoy. So sue me.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, the sidebar.

This week I put up the movie "ZULU", which is the story of how "a scarce one hundred fifty" British Soldiers and auxiliaries repelled an attack by over four thousand Zulu warriors at the Battle of Rorke's Drift on January 22-23, 1879. I very much admire this movie, and watch it every few months. It may differ from historic reality in some details, but generally it seems to be accurate, at least according to an online website which describes the battle. Some of the incidental details are ignored or distorted for dramatic effect in the movie, and some of the characters are depicted inaccurately (the Swedish Minister Otto Witt, for example, was not drunk nor banished and his daughter was not present at the scene). However, by all available accounts it was indeed a valiant defense and the unprecedented 11 Victoria Crosses were certainly earned the hard way.

I'm reading S.M. Stirling again. More accurately, I am re-reading him. In the mid 1990's Steve Stirling wrote a 5-book series, called "The General", with David Drake. He went on to write the 3-book "Nantucket" series on his own; this is a "Misplaced Moderns" SF tale of his own origination and "The Oceans of Eternity" is the final book. The theme is that the entire island of Nantucket is (somehow) ripped from 1999 America and transported to the same site in the Bronze-Age.

Stirling went on to write two other books on the same theme. In one, "Dies The Fire", he supposes that the world left behind by this dramatic anti-juxtapositioning is left without the ability to support rapid combustion (e.g. guns don't work) and electricity no longer functions.

In the other book, "Conquistador", he presupposes a similar multi-millenial era which is reachable by means of what can only be described as a 'dimensional portal' (reminiscent of Heinlein's "Tunnel In The Sky", or "The Door Into Summer"). Here, the "Misplaced Moderns" are in control. Their guns shoot, their electricity works, and they move both into the primitive world and make it their own ... with some primitive but deadly opposition from the temporal natives.

Surely I do admire the work of Stirling, although I find his "Draka" series somewhat too cruel to re-read.

You have doubtless that in recent weeks I added "Truth Laid Bear", Syd's "Front Sight, Press", and "Trigger Finger" to my sidebar. Today I corrected the non-functional link to BEAR, changing it to the 'gun bloggers community'. And I added a new link to "Lay Lines". Marc (apparently a Californian, but I like his writing anyway) talks about an air-gun range he built in his back yard, going to the range for recreational shooting, and using IPSC targets. What's not to like? Well, the organization of his archive is a little weird for my taste. I think that's a BlogSpot problem, though, and has nothing to do with the author. Obviously I like his politics, especially his RKBA position. He's easy to read and I think you'll like him, too. Go check the link over on the right side of the page.

I've often contemplated changing my template. The colors are a little muddy and I like the crisp clean look of a white background. Also, I would like a sidebar to the left side of the screen as I've noticed in some other blogsites. I have a lot more incidental crap to display and . . . hey, wait a minute! This thing takes too long to load already, and the links and archive go all the way down to the floor. This blog already sags like Mother Hubbard's breasts, and I want to make it BIGGER?

Okay, so there's a good reason not to change the template. Also, I'm not convinced that BlogSpot is set up to directly convert from one template to another, so I might lose either content or functionality.

And besides, I'm not sure I want to spend the time backing up the current template, trying to plug it into a new one, and possibly re-installing the current template just to get back to where I started.

I'll have to find a MUCH better reason for procrastinating, before I get into THAT project!

In the meantime, I need to get OFF the blogspot and update the winners of the CCS Points Race. I think I lost B-Open, in which division I led before my disastrous performance at the Sectional match last weekend.

No; before you ask, that has nothing to do with my procrastination. I'm just naturally lazy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Blastorama and stuff

I know I said I was going to talk about 'funny things that happened during the CCS Sectional IPSC Match tonite, but I'm getting really burned out on that match. Maybe tomorrow. Or maybe not.

Besides, my POS IP (which is AOL . . . can't you just smell the acronmyms?) is acting up tonite, and I don't know how much of this will actually be posted. FWIW, it turns out that I live too far out-of-town to receive a reliable signal from the WiFi transmiter, so I'm stuck with AOL until I can choose between two equally unpalatable options: QWEST and COMCAST. Bad choices. I hate telephones almost as much as I hate Cable.

Tonite, I just want to trip the light fantastic. I'd rather talk about tomorrow than about yesterday.

Phil at "Random Nuclear Strikes" has organized a Blogger Shoot for Saturday, August 20, 2005. It will take place in Portland, Oregon, and several of the RKBA Bloggers in the area will be there.

I'll be there. I hope I can talk SWMBO into being there, but it depends on whether A_Place_To_Shoot likes compensated .38 Supers bangin' & clangin' on their armor-steel backstop. FreddyBoomBoom (Prince Andrew of an earlier post) has said he will be there. Perhaps some of the Usual Suspects will be free that day, and come out for lunch, a range session, and even a dockside BBQ.

It's an opportunity to meet some of the most opinionionated private citizens in the PNW, have lunch and dinner, and shoot. What's not to like?

Here's some filler:

What's your IP? I'm at 17*.1*5.17*.*70
(You didn't think I was going to give out my IP for free, did you?)

HT to Tyler at .45 Caliber Justice, who also offers this T-shirt photo:

An Arizona Cowgirl, a friend of Cowboy Blob, blogs about her new gun. Caution: mauser photos, may not be work freindly.

Here's a Canadian who not only doesn't think Canada should enter a mutual defense agreement with America, not only doesn't like guns, but thinks that California's SB357 (calling for serialization of individual rounds of ammunition) is A Good Idea.

Finally ... I can't help it. I'm a proud father and a proud grandfather. Here's a photo of my daughter, "Foo", and her daughter, "Sam".
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Okay, as long as I'm in a maudlin mode, here's a photo of my son, Ben, and his son, J-Bob.
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(I'll have more recent pictures in subsequent posts. I love these kids. Deal with it!)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Keystone Kops II - Thematic Design Considerations

You may never have seen any of the Keystone Kops movies, which means you probably never saw movies by Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, or any of the other great comedic talents of the Silent Screen.

Too bad. You've missed something.

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(Image Hosting by ImageShack ... click on thumbnail for full-size photo)

Even though the early Hollywood directors had no qualms about using sex to sell movies, their general approach toward comedy was to capitalize on sight gags. When your movie doesn't have a sound track, that's about all you have to work with. The only way they could communicate comedy was with sight gags, or by flashing 'title frames' on the screen. That only distracted their audience.

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Consequently, the main characters who became STARS had their own schtick. Buster Keaton was "The Great Stoneface".

Harold Lloyd played characters who found themselves in impossible situations, often in dangerous places. He always did his own stunts and in places which were NOT studio props. There was the time he found himself hanging from the hands of a steeple clock ....

But the Keystone Kops just ran back and forth, often with disastrous results.

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For the Section Match, we had originally thought to use "Television Cops" as the theme. You know, Miami Vice, Kojak, Peter Gunn, 77 Sunset Strip, and even Dukes of Hazard (okay, so they weren't exactly cops, but there was a cop in the show if you count Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane and his deputy Enos Strate.)

On second thought, we changed the theme to "Keystone Kops", just because it was a more lyrical name, and for the alliteration.

This developed into a theme. What if many of the stages required the shooters to run back and forth across the shooting bay, in a manner reminiscent of the Keystone Kops?

This sounded like more fun, and so the stage designs were 'tweaked' by Match Director Mike McCarter ("Mac" to his friends) and especially to his evil alter ego, "Mikey". Also, we had valuable input by the Dundee Club Representative "Barsoom", who needs no alter ego to work his mischief when building stages.

Remington Steele
Thus we had "Remington Steele" (designed by the Hobo Brasser) which was completely altered by Mikey so that the competitor starts in the middle, runs to one side of the stage and then runs to the other side of the stage.

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Dukes of Hazard
The Dukes of Hazard stage required the shooters to drop a whiskey jug into a barrel, which activated a disappearing target with a hang time of approximately one half second. (The DT is seen at the right edge of the photo, partially obscured by the barrel.)
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Miami Vice
The Miami Vice stage let the competitors kick open doors ... except of course you couldn't actually kick them, lest the Airstream Trailer prop be damaged during the match. The problem was, there were two doors. When you open the left hand door, a swinger was activated which was visible only from a port on the right side. When you open the right hand door, a swinger was activated which was visible only from a port on the left side. There was no alternative to moving back and forth across the stage. Here Scott Springer is working out the best way to shoot the stage.
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Starsky & Hutch

"Starsky & Hutch" was a pure hoser stage. Put up a wall, with gaps in it. Targets on the ends. Add ground traps in each of the wall gaps, to activate moving IPSC targets. Throw in steel Poppers, stacked up so you have to knock one down to see the one behind it, and a couple of partially hidden targets for you to forget to shoot.

Match Winner Glen Higdon is shown here, walking through the stage BEHIND the wall so he can count the targets.

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It was a good idea to make sure you knew how many targets there were, and where you had to be standing to see them, because there were more targets than there seemed to be, if you only considered that the score sheet listed a mere 24 rounds.
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Match winner (GM) Glen Higdon finished the stage in 12.83 seconds with 107 points.
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Stage Winner (GM - no photo available) Yong Lee finished the stage in 12.38 seconds with 115 points.

Thirteen year-old C-Open shooter Ryan Leonard finished the stage in 17.42 seconds with 102 points,
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beating sixty year-old B-Open shooter Jerry the Geek who finished the stage in 19.21 seconds with 112 points.
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(I never liked that kid!)

It's a young man's game, when youthful talent so readily beats experienced treachery.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Keystone Kops I - Burned Out!

You know what it's like, when the passion is spent and you're completely spent and lying in a pool of sweat? You're ecstatic that you did it ... Finally! ... but you're glad it's over because you just don't have any juice left inside you?

That's how I feel today.

The Columbia Cascade 2005 Section Tournament is over, and I have literally sweated gallons over the five days of its duration.

Well, the match was only two days long . . . Saturday and Sunday, August 6&7.

I took Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off work to help with the setup. That may have been a mistake, because I have never worked harder in my life. Still, there's a certain amount of satisfaction in having accomplished something that worked out so well.

The match was held at both the Croc Dundee range and the Tri County Gun Club (TCGC) range this past weekend, August 6 and 7, 2o05. There were 83 competitors (which is a bit disappointing, as the match could have accommodated a 50% higher turnout), and everyone who competed fought to do their best against world-class stages.

The theme for the match was "Keystone Kops".

You may remember this jolly bunch of British-style movie police. Their signature scene was a collection of helmeted police running around in complete disarray, back and forth trying to go somewhere but not sure where or why. This describes many of the stages in this IPSC match operating under USPSA rules in two ... count 'em, 2 ... ranges in NW Oregon.

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(Left to right: SWMBO, Stan G., Geek. Click on image for HR view)

The match was too big to host on a single range. There were ten regular stages, plus a classifier stage, plus the Chronograph stage. Dundee hosted four stages and the classifier, and the schedule allowed each squad to shoot the Classifier and then go through the Chronograph in about the same amount of time as everyone else was shooting a regular stage. TCGC hosted six BIG stages. Each squad spend one day on each range; half of the squads started at Dundee on Saturday, the other half started at TCGC. On Sunday, the squads switched ranges.

Essentially, the Dundee range only had 5 stages, because it took about as much time to shoot the classifier stage AND go through Chrono as it took to shoot any other stage on the range. This allowed the folks who shot at Dundee to finish earlier.

This was important to the schedule, because on the second day of the match (Sunday), the folks who were shooting at the Dundee range needed to go through all of the stages, and the Chronograph, and have time to drive back to the range at TCGC. The drive distance was about ten miles, taking about 25 minutes including loading up and parking at TCGC, but they were in a hurry because the penultimate event of the match was the BBQ catered by Buster's BBQ at the TCGC range. After the catered lunch (included in the $65 match fees), the awards ceremony was held on Bay 1 at TCGC ... a few feet from the BBQ.

This match was a USPSA National Points Match, and as such it attracted five GMs.

David Sevigny won Production and Glenn Higdon won Open Division.
Yong Lee won Limited, John Hill was 2nd Limited, and Ken Jacobe placed 4th Limited (falling 4% behind B-Limited Ernie Hockens, who had won Limited Class in the NW Classic in Washington the weekend before.)

We had two dauntless Revolver Division competitors; C-Class shooter Jerry Vanderwerf was 2nd in his first year of competition, and A-Class Dan Carden came in next-to-last.

There were three Junior shooters: Ryan Leonard WON C-Open against fierce competition, while Chris Cardoza WON C-Production. Andrew Wesley was shooting Unclassified Production, also in his first year of competition.

Sandie Smith (SWMBO) was Top Lady in Open Division, Erica Scarbrough was Top Lady in Limited 10, and Nancy Mars WON D-Open.

Joe DiSimone won Top Senior, Jerry the Geek was top Super Senior.

The complete results are available at the Columbia Cascade websitee.

I have a LOT to say about the match, but just don't have the energy or the initiative to go through it all now.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I'll talk about the stage designs and how they reflected both the Keystone Kops theme and the USPSA National Points Match challenge.

Wednesday we'll hear about the funny things that happen during what we Local Folks consider a Major Match.

And Thursday, we'll discuss rules applications in real-time. You can expect to see discussions about the number of no-shoot hits, use of tools to clear a jam, match disqualification, and loss of hearing protection while shooting a stage. (I am personally looking forward to this subject, because I LOVE talking about the rules!)

The volume of content in this relatively short article is below my norm, but I have an excuse for not providing much 'color'. After five days of 90+ degree heat, I'm entirely too resource-depleted to discuss the details. It doesn't help that I've just received a new Rolling Stones CD from (via USPSA.ORG, of course, so they get a percentage of the sales price) and would rather listen to new/old music than to indulge my predilection for creative writing.