Thursday, March 31, 2011

Favorite WWII German Tank....

I grew tired of watching “Top Ten” shows on the military channel that didnt meet my muster so I decided to choose my own favorite tanks.

Today’s tank is “My favorite German Tank” and I choose the Panzer III, the back bone of the Afrika Korps and the early blitz. The one pictured has the short 75mm but I am a fan of the Ausf J (Special) with the long barreled 5cm gun. you can have your Panthers and Tigers...I'll stick with the ol Panzer III.

Monday, March 21, 2011

There and back again... so it begins

The news reported today that shooting began on Peter Jackson’s film version of “the Hobbit”. For some readers that shall be joyous news, to others it will be the chiming of the bells of dread.

First, logically, “The Hobbit” was one book, “The Lord of the Rings” were in fact three books “Fellowship of the rings”, “The Two Towers” and the “Return of the king”. LOTR was made into three films.. makes sense... however “The Hobbit” will be made into two films... go figure.

I love the Hobbit, I read it more then any of the other books, I read it to my son, it was my introduction to the Fantasy genre and I still will re read it to this day. In defense of Jackson... I love his choice to play Bilbo Baggins, he is filming once more in New Zealand and Ian Mckellan reprises his role as Gandalf... Thats good. However Jackson also has some of the cast of LOTR showing up playing Characters that did not really appear in the Hobbit... so that concerns me.

“The Hobbit” was really a book for younger audiences and I hope that Jackson can bring its charm to the screen and make it friendly for younger viewers. I imagine some people may think the gathering of the party at Bag’s End a little silly but I do love it ( I know what Bilbo Baggins Hates). The escape from the wood elves, The shapeshifter may seem some what over the top when on the screen.

I hope that Jackson can capture the splendor of Smaug’s Lair and the Terrifying menace and pomposity of the dragon that exists in my brain, I do think those scenes can be some truly great visuals as Smaug attacks Laketown ( go Bard and his black arrow!!!). There are so many things I want to see...yet fear seeing how someone else visualizes them... Beorn, The riddling contest, The Trolls, the Keyhole and the death of Thorin... but I have the fear derived from the earlier films that could make a fan break into a cold sweat.

I wasnt a fan of the way Gimli looked in LOTR, so I do have some fears of how the Dwarfs will appear (will I be able to identify them by the color of their hoods?).

I will see this film, and I will pray it doesn't “Phantom Menace” my love for the book. I cant wait to see some stills from the production, but I will have a glowing ember of dread in my belly as I pray that they don’t mishandle something so beloved to so many.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Magic Weapons.... Do you have something slightly more magical?

A month ago, whilst sequestered in the Edward’s Think tank, we stumbled upon the topic of Magic and how it is depicted in Novels and games. Since one was spawned by the other it was strange to note how different the two are.

In Novels and even movies, magic weapons are things of legend. In the Lord of the rings trilogy you have Glamdring, Orcist, Sting and Narsil, weapons who’s names are known throughout the land ( Though how three of them ended up in the same troll lair is beyond me) they are feared and respected... In Games... not so much. A magic weapon is merely one of a zillion that seem to lay under every nock and cranny through out the world, collecting dust on shelves in weapons shops.

A Magic weapon in literature is like the signature of the hero, when he draws it, the reader says to himself “Okay... The can has been opened mr Bad Guy”. How would it have been if Drizzt had tossed Icingdeath and the twinkle sword to the curb because Schmuckbanger offered +1 more endurance?

In games (specially the electronic medium), the fact that a weapon is “magical” means nothing... Its how magical or worse yet... how rare it is. Its like saying “Yes I have Magical swords holding up my book shelves... but that one over there, they only made 5 or 6 of those”. In most games you discard your sword nearly every other quest or mission as you are handed a slightly better one as a reward. Magic is so prevalent that the guy standing along the road is going to give you a magic sword just for killing a few pigs.

I understand why the magic factories of the great MMORPG worlds worked overtime to produce a glut of Magical Armor’s, Weapons, Staves, Robes, Totems, Necklaces, Ring’s and such... But I would prefer magic items to be “rare” or wondrous. When you pull that sword that you recovered from the tomb of _______ , your foes take a step back and say “Holy Crap!! That is the sword of _______” as fear grips their very guts.I know that people generally love their games the way they are and that a game that makes Magic Weapons rare is probably not going to have a issue with having enough servers...but in my imaginary world... things will be different.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

War Films......

I am a Reenactor... and have been for over 20 years, as such you would think that I would have a collection of war films that I re- watch over and over... and I do, but what is surprising is how many of those film’s I do not like. Many films do have a scene or two that I enjoy re watching but those scenes seldom save the film in its whole.

“Saving Private Ryan” for instance, I do like the Omaha Beach scene at the beginning of the film, but don’t much care for the rest. “Band of Brothers”, the HBO mini serries that birthed a million Airborne reenactors has a scene or two I like... but as a whole ... not on my Favorites list.

Then there are the Civil War films like “Glory” and “Gettysburg”... Now I worked on both these films... They drive me nuts!! Don’t even get me started on “Gods and Generals”. I think the only real Civil War films that I have actually enjoyed have been some independent films that have steered well clear of the fake beard brigade and Fat Reenactors ( Note....I am a Fat reenactor and as a reenactor co-ordinator for England's National Armory, I didn't even allow myself in the film).

I am a fan of the Colonial period... but the films made like “Revolution” and “Patriot” make me want to restore British rule to this land. I do not like “Last of the Mohicans”, I love Daniel Day Lewis’s performance ( and his rifle... I would kill for) but the movie just makes me ill. The only “Colonial” combat scene I really enjoy is the 7 years war battles from “Barry Lyndon”.

As for Vietnam films... there are scenes I can watch from most, I have certainly watched them enough ( beggars can't be choosers) but there is only one that I would recommend or admitt to as being on “my list” and that is “Hamburger Hill”.

I do not know why I am so damn picky, I do consider some to be on my like list, “Paths of Glory”, “La 317eme section”, “Battleground” and “Downfall” to name a few, but not as many as one would think. Some “Pulp WWII” and Adventure films, like “Where Eagles Dare”, “The four Feathers” and “The Eagle has landed” do make it into my DVD player before some of the more... so called... popular films.

Maybe its that films that claim to be “Based on actual events” then proceed to weave some bizarre farcical tale drive me to distraction. History is dramatic... just the way it unfolds... it doesn't need a Love interest or a contrived over the top action scene to make it watchable, and films that change the personalities of those they portray to appease our concepts of what a hero is make me want to sniff glue.

I know “ F**k You Kendall”... I’ll take that, this is just my opinion and you are allowed your own. I just find it weird, I’ll buy these films, watch some scenes then turn them off, you would think for a guy with a basement full of uniforms and a office full of books I would be less picky about my films... but I am

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Back in my day....BBS's, College Systems and early subscription services

Compuserve, Prodigy and AOL, precursors to what you kid’s now call “The Internets”. There was a day... so long ago that it is now a time of legends, where Dragon’s prowled looking for Marathon bars and soda came in tin cans and glass bottles... that one made a choice for your “online entertainment” and it weren’t free.

Some of us will remember “BBS’s”, Bulletin board systems.... these were simple systems that you dialed into ( yes I said dialed into) and were able to read some mail lists. People would never believe that people would run “Role Playing Games” and even Strategy games via this archaic method but believe me they did. You did not have the ability to send email everywhere in the world.... you were restricted to “subscribers” to the service.

( I wonder what teenagers would think if they were shown how we used to have to call a phone number, listen for a carrier signal that slam the handset down onto a Modem)

There were the systems run by Universities, I remember the Delta System, that i was introduced to in our schools career center on a 300 baud Dec writer and the PLATO system at the university. PLATO was a joy for me, on Friday’s they would have UDgaming where you could (with permission) play a wide range of games ( Moria and Battlestar were my favorite) on the amber screens of the PLATO terminals.

Then came the new wave of Subscription services...the AOL’s, the Prodigy’s and others that were a glimpse of what was to come. I still remember playing “Neverwinter Nights” on AOL... No Not that one, a much older version, Compuserve had a Squad Leader game that I never got to work on any computer i used. Now these services weren't free, you paid per hour and there were usually “peak usage” time “non peak” price scales that could add up in the olde days.

One of the services I belonged to was “Sierra Online” ( which would become the Imagination Network), this was a gamesentric system that enabled you to play Red Baron and other games against other players online and I spent many a hour playing there Fantasy game. Of course, the Bulletin boards were still big draws and again they did not extend beyond the boarders of the system... but it was cool, the way I imagine old maid was cool when it first came out.

I wonder if kids in the USA are even able to grasp the concept of a world before the world wide web. I can still remember the days the services began to disappear, some tried to hang on ( AOL still exists) and we took our first steps into a world joined electronically.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Clockwinder Shout out........

Whats up Russia!!!!

How's it going?

Just thought I'd give a Clockwinder welcome to all our viewers from Russia.

Clockwinder’s Kitchen.... Recipe #1

Bavarian Gott im Himmels

Your friends are gathered around the harth sipping your favorite Detroit wine and discussing the latest episode of Jersey Shore and drawing similes to the great teachings of Socrates and Aristotle. All is right in the world as the cries of the beleagured city are barely audable over the drunken hum of conversation and the electronic symphony that is your Atari combat game playing on your old zenith. You don’t want to ruine the moment with the wrong finger feast... so you make up a tray of the Clockwinders Patent pending “Bavarian Gott Im Himmels”.

What you will need....

Bag of Mini Pretzels

1 Can of Kraft Easy Cheese

1 bottle of Tobasco

First, spread a single layer of mini Pretzels over your best snack tray, make sure there is a certain uniformity... we all know presentation is half the battle.

Then open your can of “Kraft Easy Cheese” and spread a generous portion onto each Pretzel. Don’t worry, the wonder of Eay Cheese will not fall through the gaps so your carpet remnant that covers the old blood stain will be safe from spills.

Now its time to put the Zip into your BGIH’s... Open your precious bottle of tabasco and place one drop of the blessed red ambrosia on to each cheese lump.

Now serve... are let your heart swell to the joyous laughter and compliments that float freely through your abode.

There are many variations on the BGIH’s, using Crackers, melba toast and even shrimp...however be warned that fruit Gott In Himmels generally don’t go over very well.

This has been the first installment of the Clockwinder’s Kitchen... good bye and remember... Warm Bellies mean happy hearts.

Monday, March 07, 2011


Why are we still dedicating hours of Television and countless bytes of digital information to the riveting story of Charlie Sheen? Why must I be bombarded constantly by the celebrity cult in all its hellish glory?

This planet is not with out its own actual drama, Lets not forget that we still have 100’s of thousands of troops overseas fighting a war (and what ever you choose to call Iraq at the moment), American’s in harms way and how about the revolts in the middle east, Libya is practically in the midst of a civil war but No... Please tell me about Charlie Sheen and what ever non-sense he is ranting about today... Really? front page stuff? Seriously?

I love the products of the entertainment industry... but if you were to ask... and for the record you have not... wither I want you (the press) hunting these people down and photographing them, getting out of cars, visiting the beach, eating a hot dog or walking their dog, I would tell you “No Thanks”. Though I am envious of the life styles some of these people lead, I don’t need to invade them... I dont want the fact that they went out drinking or that they havent the common sense the good lord gave them pushing real news of the front page.

Stand clear of the grates.... The Clockwinder is venting.

Bladerunner Franchise??? .... Could it be??

A Friend sent me a link to a Article that states a company is trying to by the rights to Bladerunner so they can start a new Bladerunner Franchise... I say Go for it.

Its no secret that I love the Original (and that I 100% believe the only way the film works is if Deckard is a human) and if they put have the work the Scott did into bringing his vision of a Dark Future to the screen, it will definitely make lots of Clockwinder dollars.

However... If this is someones way of cheaply milking some cash cow... be warned, I will hunt you to the ends of the earth.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Bartender!! I’ll have a Sarsaparilla

There is one fact about the clockwinder that often surprises people... no, I’m not talking about my total control over time and space... I am referring to the fact that I do not partake of Alcoholic beverages. I believe I have tasted beer and wine at some point in my life but I have never touched the stuff besides that.

My abstinence is not because of some deeply rooted religious belief, it isnt because of “that time in Vegas” or that I “have a problem”... its simply because I don’t like the smell or taste of the stuff. My father was not some alcoholic monster who beat sobriety into me nor was my twin killed by a drunk driver... it is as simple as that... I don’t like the stuff.

I have known friends for over 20 years that still offer me a beer or snort from a flask and still raise a eyebrow when I politely refuse. I have wondered what people think as I sometimes catch a odd look from a person or two. Truthfully though I generally don’t care what they think in regards to my drinking as I don’t think I am “inhibited” socially by it.

My GI classification is of course L7, but I have never minded people drinking around me. I am happy to say that all of my friends are very good drunks, they laugh they delve into deep, alcohol clouded conversations about unsolvable mysteries of life ( I remember many such talks in Ofriel’s while listening to Irish music) and have a great time. I hate people who are bad drunks, that get into fights or become pains in the arse but that is because they become “My problem” then.

At reenactments, when night falls, the people leave, my friends can consume great amounts of spirits and the camp is alive with laughter and conversation. I do remember a few times a drunken person ( never one of my friends) has become my problem... I do remember Grabbing a guy before he feel backwards down the barracks stairs at FIG or having to clean up after a “accident” ... but my friends are great.

My friends at home are much the same way... I have seen how guys become concerned because there friend has been drinking and may start a fight or hurt himself... but that has never been my friends.

As a teenager and young adult, as people around me consumed great sea’s of amber liquids, I was reminded at a recent get together, I used to have a cooler with a 6-pack of Hawaiian punch ( a drink I still like today) at my side. I do not look down my noise at people who drink... I am not offended, I sometimes become concerned when people get to drunk but I do not pass judgement on people because they choose to have a beer or 12.

I sometimes wonder about drinks and drinking, like Absinthe or the issue and drinking of rum in the British Army ( a tradition that lasted into the 20th century) or I have wanted to be cool and order some hype drink at a bar... one with some sort of fruit impaled with a plastic sword... but thats been about it. I often smell what is being drunk.... and find it repulsive but I guess “different strokes”.

Many a person has noted “if your this way sober... I hate to see ya when your drunk”, I have wondered what I would be like under the influence as well... but that will remain a mystery. After 45 years of life, I don’t think I am going to begin a new habit. If your a friend, don’t be concerned, have a good time and bottoms up... responsibly.