Thursday, January 31, 2008

I've Made History!!!

Russ Sharek (of Morpheus Designs) is one incredible guy. Not only is he a jeweler/artisan par excellence, he also comes up with the most astute and sidesplitting observations.

We were discussing the final designs on the Minbari Ranger badge (as described in the previous post) as well as how my "300" armor was coming along when he brought this to my attention:

Him: "Do you have your armorer on speed dial?"

Me: "Yes. Why? I have you and Andrea on speed dial also."

Him: You realize you've made history, right?

Me: "Huh?"

Him: "At the time people had personal armorers they didn't have cell phones. You're buying exactingly detailed, wearable battle armor. And you call up your armorer for it."

The more I thought about it, the more I chuckled. He was right - I have made history ...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Denn'Bok for Fun and Profit

It HAS been a while since the costuming bug bit me. After all, I'm still waiting to finish off my Spartan "300" outfit (which, by the way, is coming along nicely albeit slower than I'd like) but the bright side is that this is giving me more time to work on my abs, chest and arms. Damn, I'm sounding vain, aren't I?

I went into Express Men to pick up a couple of shirts. The store was relatively quiet so this time, I had sales associates help me out. Normally, I pick out my own stuff and I have people ask me what looks good on them. Obviously, my reputation has proceeded me as an excellent customer and someone who is "not stuck up". It's second nature for me to return items folded or on hangers back where I found them and in the same state as I took them.

This doesn't seem to be "normal" for customers.

I picked up a deep emerald green solid, a deep sapphire blue solid and a pale blue shirt with a white stripe. The solid shirts are more vivid than I usually buy, but they worked! The two salesmen (plus two ladies that were dressing their boyfriends) were really amazed at how great I looked! I just had my hair cut on Saturday, so it is shorter and a bit lighter (you see a lot of gold and copper highlights).

The two ladies asked me, "Are you a model?" I demurred, and one of the gals said, "Well, you look and move like one!"

*Ahem* (pats self on the back)

I had just finished watching the new direct-to-DVD movie, "Babylon 5: The Lost Tales" which was a welcome return to the B5 universe. As I was watching this, I was thinking, "You know, the Minbari Rangers are so cool."

As any long-time readers can guess, a phone call to Andrea was forthcoming.

Then a call to Russ for the Ranger shield.

For those of you who haven't followed Babylon 5, this was a five-year space opera that borrowed heavily on themes from Lord of the Rings. The Rangers here (as well as in the LOTR universe) were basically "Special Forces" that provided intelligence, reconnaissance and covert operations. Since Faramir and Aragorn are two of my favorite characters (and represent the southern and northern Rangers), this seems to be a logical extension of my appreciation of this type of character.

The Anla'Shok (Rangers) were organized by the Minbari for the purposes of providing a dedicated fighting force specifically for the prophesied second Shadow War that the cultural hero Valen warned would occur in the future.

Their motto:

We are Rangers.
We walk in the dark places no others will enter.
We stand on the bridge, and no one may pass.
We live for the One, we die for the One.

Which brings visions of Gandalf and the Balrog in Khazad-Dum.

The badge of their office is their black and grey robes that include a large pin that has a large turquoise crystal in the center, which is surrounded by a human and a Minbari at either side with the crystal symbolizing the Future or Isil'Zha. This is a recent style, however. The original badge used had a pair of Minbari hands holding the gem, but the two heads design was chosen to symbolize the unity of the two races. According to the book To Dream in the City of Sorrows, which is considered canon, the crystal is partly created by the blood of human and Minbari, and is highly prized by its bearer. If you are a B5 fan, then you should definitely collect books that detail the history and activities of the Rangers.

Andrea is doing her costume research, and I know that the end result will be mind-blowing. However, Russ and I were discussing a slightly different design for the badge - something far more ... Minbari ...

Their preferred weapon in close quarters is the Minbari Fighting Pike known as the Denn'Bok. It is quite compact and easy to carry, but can open up to be a formidable weapon. The weapon is not dependent on an energy source, unlike the PPG pistols carried by Earthforce personnel. It takes a great deal of training and skill to use the weapon in an effective and in a relatively safe manner. Most weapons are quite old - the pike Marcus Cole carried was at least 700 years old. As the weapon is handed down from generation to generation, production of new pikes is rather limited. Because of the effort to keep the fighting pikes from falling into the wrong hands, they can fetch a considerable price on the black market.

The Denn'Bok also reminds me of the quarterstaff -- another weapon I've always wanted to learn to use. I may have to check out the local SCA chapters and see if I can find any instructors.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

"Geek" vs. "Nerd"

On several occasions, I have used the term "geek" regarding myself and I have had several people tell me that I should not be so belittling.

Au contraire ... I see it more as a badge of honor, rather than a derogatory term.

A nerd - on the other hand - is something that I consider an insult and would seriously consider splitting aforesaid insultor from crown to crotch!

Below are the definitions (courtesy of Wikipedia) of the two very distinct species:

  • A person who is interested in technology, especially computing and new media.
  • A person who has chosen concentration rather than conformity; one who pursues skill (especially technical skill) and imagination, not mainstream social acceptance.
  • A person with a devotion to something in a way that places him or her outside the mainstream. This could be due to the intensity, depth, or subject of their interest. This definition is very broad but because many of these interests have mainstream endorsement and acceptance, the inclusion of some genres as "geeky" is heavily debated. Persons have been labelled as or chosen to identify as mathematics geeks, engineering geeks, sci-fi geeks, computer geeks, various science geeks, movie and film geeks (cinephile), comic book geeks, theatre geeks, history geeks, gamer geeks, music geeks, art geeks, philosophy geeks, and literature/rp geeks.
  • In a 2007 interview on The Colbert Report, Richard Clarke said the difference between nerds and geeks is "geeks get it done".

  • Nerd is a term that refers to a person who passionately pursues intellectual activities or esoteric knowledge rather than engaging in more social activities, such as organized sports. Therefore, a nerd is often excluded from physical activity and considered a loner by peers.

  • Nerds typically appear either to lack confidence or to be indifferent or oblivious to the negative perceptions held of them by others, with the result that they become frequent objects of scorn, ridicule, bullying, and social isolation. They show a pronounced interest in subjects which others tend to find dull or complex and difficult to comprehend, especially topics related to science, disambiguation, mathematics and technology.
  • Nerds are often portrayed as either obese or incredibly thin. They are also stereotyped to playing role playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, MMORPGs, and other things relating to fantasy and science fiction. They are also stereotyped for being obsessed with Star Trek, Star Wars, and other sci fi shows or movies.

Clears up the confusion, doesn't it?

I recently related the geek/nerd comparison to a good friend of mine who is an avid reader of this blog:

A GEEK fences with a forged high-carbon spring steel blade with a live edge commissioned from an armorer.

A Nerd tries to fence with a plastic lightsaber, if he doesn't trip over his feet first.

A GEEK shoots a 72" wooden longbow with at least a 40lb draw weight, using arrows with hand-forged iron bodkin tips and fletched with feathers.

A Nerd shoots rubber-suction cup thingies from a toy gun, if he can avoid pointing it at himself and/or can locate the trigger.