Sunday, November 28, 2010

The masterful art of Weaving.

Here's what you need. About ten thousand little metal rings of the same diameter and a couple pairs of pliers. With that, a lot of time and a truckload of patience, you can make yourself a shirt of maile. I mean a lot of time. A whole shitload of it. We're talking about the following the timeline for monkeys to come down out of the trees and then build starships. Unless you have a lot of superglue and low expectations for quality, we're not talking about a quick process.

Honestly, in terms of materials and tools, a shirt or two might cost you around $50. That's assuming you need to buy the pliers, and wirecutters and steel rod, as well as the wire. Besides the obscene number of hours spent, winding coils, cutting the links and then putting rings into rings, hours that you could more effectively put into a nine to five making money and buying a shirt, making chain is an inexpensive hobby.

Besides, weaving chainmail isn't too difficult to learn. I picked up the basics with the help of tutorials on youtube and other places on the net. The process is slow going, and I've yet to make much of a dent in my major project goal. But I have a couple of snappy sheets of chain cloth to show for it, a handful of necklaces. All sitting around doing nothing. Chainmaile isn't very useful in our modern era. Who knew?

Chainmaile, chain mail, chainmail, maile. However you wish to spell it, is one of the oldest and longest serving forms of metal armor that humans have yet to devise. Made from said steel rings, it protects well against cuts. And that's about all. Someone using say a hammer, or arrows, would effectively transform your expensive armor into a heavy shirt with a narrow list of functions that can be related here: 1) Chafe nipples. That is all.

So why learn such a trade? Well, it may come in handy at some point in the future. Who knows? Armor is always good to have, especially if we're all reduced to using pointed sticks, and maybe swords. A second skin of steel might be all that you have between your soft and supple skin (by the way, what sort of moisturizer do you use? So touchabally soft!) and large gaping wounds in your flesh. And there aren't that many people out there who can make it. So it's time for a little self-reliance, and get the job done right. Or at least get it good enough.

Global Warming – Well, here we go. Wearing tens of pounds of metal while operating on the open ocean. What effin genius came up with this idea? Why not just tie an anchor to your ankle and call it a day? An anchor is a lot cheaper than even a shirt made from chain mail. Wait, there's more! More than a free trip to Davey Jones' locker you say? How can it get better than that? I'll tell you... Honestly, chainmail might be more useful at sea than one expects. Providing that you use the right material. I'm thinking aluminum or Titanium. Preferably the latter. Chainmaile has found a new use in these last few decades in the form of shark proof suits. Full body of suits, made from very tiny rings, that will reduce the chance that a hungry shark walks off with one of your favorite limbs. And no doubt that these very suits will come in quite handy when standing up against invading pirates as they wave their cutlasses about and brandish empty muskets. 4/5

Zombie Uprising – Well, here we have a major up and down side. Zombie use their hands and teeth to do most of their damage. Grab and bite. That is the whole of their tactical bag of tricks. And after a few weeks/months/years of being a walking corpse, zombies will no doubt boast a set of teeth that will make your average meth addict cringe. Having a cloth of steel between your hide and that mouth full of chipped chompers is quite an appealing thought. Until you take into account that a shirt might weigh up to forty pounds. That makes for a long ass hike though the dead infested city streets as you scavenge for food. That'll build stamina, which is good if you manage to keep your strength up for weeks straight as you self-inflict death marches. After all the weeks that it took to make the damn thing in the first place. Until then, you're moving slower and tiring yourself out un-neededly. Finally after weeks of sweating through unbearable heat in your portable oven, summer will fade and winter will return, and your nipples, after having chaffed for months, will learn a new form of torture. Freezing and sticking to your shirt. Fun times. That's why I'm sticking with leather. Sure, I'll look more like the biker from the Village People – can't be helped, but it'll be warmer, and less heavy. 1/5

Nuclear War РI've done a lot of thinking here, and the only practical use that chainmail might have for a wanderer of the thirsty wastelands would be to give their NukePoc wardrobe a little extra pizazz that the other nameless mercenaries and bandits are totally lacking. Leather jackets and football shoulder pads will rule the day, but at the same time become rather clich̩. Time to start a whole new trend here...

I can't keep nattering on here. To hell with all the above concerns. I have two words for the lot of you. Chainmail Bikini. 5/5 Recognize.

Go out and weave little monkeys, daddy has a major chicks in chain fetish, and he wants to share it with the rest of the world.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It is broken, can you fix it?

Picture this. An automotive garage. The customer is waiting nervously in the corner to hear the bad news. The oil slathered grease-monkey walks over and with a smarmy wink and an appraising glance he says 'well, I've looked it over, and it won't be cheap, but I think we can work something out.' How many porn scenes have been wound around that very scenario? I haven't a clue honestly. But some research might be in order.

As above, here in our safe modern life, even without hordes of zombies and biker gangs prowling the wasteland looting the wreckage of our once proud civilization, an insight into the function of all things machina can keep you from getting screwed. Both literally and figuratively. The glapashozod is slipping and the krozunda-dink is cracked? How much will that cost? A thousand dollars? At least? Gott und Himmel! Really, if you're like most people, you hardly know engine coolant from a bottle of gatorade.

Internal combustion engines are inefficient devices that have been magnificently engineered into a level of complexity that boggles the mind. With most modern engines, there are thousands of parts, and something so small as a loose wire can bring the entire house of cards down. Computers are all but required to diagnose any flitter in the system. Forty years ago, you could tinker with the innards in your own garage and pick up a good working knowledge of the function of the car. Not so anymore. Now you need years of training to master the mechanical arts. What does that mean for the end times and after? Well, nothing good. But hey, you always have your feet.

In the future, after the fall of humanity, not knowing how to repair an engine could pretty much leave you rather fucked. Knowing how to fix engines makes you a valuable commodity and increases your chances of personal survival. Having a break down in the middle of the radioactive desert would be a daunting prospect, especially with the clan of cannibals picking you and your friends off one by one and serving you up for dinner. Mmmm, survivor ka-bobs. Pretty tasty if you don't mind a little fallout.

I won't limit mechanical aptitude to fixing cars. But also smaller engines and generators. But we'll avoid bicycle repair and other awesome feats of engineering and leave them to a later time.

Global Warming – Ideally, when you're living eternally on the ocean and cut off from the niceties of civilization (IE gas stations) you're going to rely on the rather primitive, but efficient and effective wind power. Still, sailboats do have motors on board, both for propulsion and generators for creating electricity. However, there will be a serious lack of petrol stations. Or auto-parts store. Everything will have been consigned to the briny deep. It is conceivable that some genius will set up a floating oil derrick and refinery. But don't count on it. Or ever finding the damn thing if they do. The earth is a big place. If you're lucky and have a purely electrical system, then you've already cut out the need for any/much mechanical know-how. 3/5

Zombie Apocalypse - I don't know how useful automotive mechanics will be in a zombie uprising. The scenarios, mine included, usually leave the roadways clogged with abandoned vehicles as people try to either flee the city, or return for loved ones. Once again, survivors are often walled up in some fortress or another, be it a mall or whatever. Driving isn't usually high on the list, so trying to impress the girls with your precise and methodical skills at wheel realignment will just have to wait. Those who do venture out into the sea of undead have millions of cars to scavenge from, making auto-repair rather unnecessary most of the time. At least in the beginning. Five or ten years down the line, being able to maintain the remnants of the fleet will be a highly valuable skill.

Hey, we'll also need someone who knows how to repair the generators. Cause let's be honest, the zombies aren't going to be working hard keeping the lights on. They're going to be more interested in locating and then eating brains. It's what they do. 4/5

Post Nuclear Wasteland - That's right, the bikers are baring down on you when the car you're riding in breaks down and rolls to a halt. The grungy old dude who took you under your wing curses. The attractive love interest chambers their last bullet as they imagine being hauled away by a dozen burly mutants in leather. You pop the hood, whip out your tool and adjust the cracked krozunda-dink and re-align the glapashozod to get that thing purring like a kitten again, and then haul ass down the highway. Booyeah! 4/5

Resource wars – Ok. There isn't any gasoline. None. At least not for lowlifes like me. The bigwigs and hard working roughnecks might be sitting on oodles of it. But gasoline is rare/non-existent. So knowing how a carburetor works, really rather useless. Like having a Bachelors in the Classics here and now. You'll be living in a box, and I'm not talking one of those fancy refrigerator boxes, no no my friend, you get half a shoe-box. Better look into alternative methods of impressing the ladies. Your job has just gone the way of the Zeppelin Pilot after the Hindenburg Disaster and Beer Social. Maybe you should have gone with that art degree instead chief. Sure, they might create a viable electric car, but that's a whole different beast from the Internal Combustion Engine. And a whole new set of skills. 1/5.

The Alien Invasion – Ok, here's the score, the Zerg invaded our home planet and came from a star-system a hundred or more light years off in deep space. They have anti-gravity devices and particle beam cannons. They can cross hundreds/thousands/millions of lightyears of cold empty vacuum. They swept aside our military with laughable ease. In fact, they're probably still laughing about it all these months later. The Battle of Cleveland? Titter! I don't care how many machine guns you bolt to the top of your mint 1979 VW bug that you rebuilt with your own two hands, they've already won on the technology front. Really, our only hope is that herpes is deadly to them, and that Paris Hilton survived the conflagration that was Hollywood. Being able to rebuild engines, it's a nice hobby here, like stamp-collecting, or putting together jigsaw puzzles, and about as useful. Pointless. All hail the Zerg overlords and their human-being based energy solutions!

On the other hand, when faced with one of the creatures from the Alien franchise, or a whole bad ass colony, being able to repair generators will be mildly helpful. Cause those bugs are smart, and they tend to break anything that might be useful. So you might come in handy until you're face raped and impregnated with a chest burster. 2/5.

Honestly, automotive mechanical skills seem to be most useful in a

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The rabbit goes through the hole, 7, 8 9 times.

Rope. A series of interwoven strands of fiber or string.  Not metal, that would be cable.  Rope has been an essential tool for our sad little species for some 28,000 or more years.  Rope can be put to use hoisting sails.  If you have enough you can weave a net.  It's useful in the art of decorating pottery.  With some knots, heavy ropes make a nice bludgeon.  Need to climb a building or repel down a canyon? Well Rope has your back.  You can tie maidens to railroad tracks to taunt the hero.  Or execute the villains by stringing them up at the nearest tree.  Mind you don't get an innocent bystander, cause the apocalypse is a bitch enough to survive without an angry and righteous bounty-hunter following your every move trying to enact his vendetta of revenge.  I know, had it happen to me once.  Dick shot me, even after I got him a card by way of apology.

Clearly Hallmarks line of "Sorry for lynching you, we thought you were someone else" greeting cards are less effective than advertised.

You know who always has it?  Charles Bronson.  That's right, the bad-assed beatdown in a sock mofo Chuckles.  And Samwise Gamgee.  Can't forget good loyal trustworthy Sam the Boyscout.  He always comes prepared he does!  Well, that isn't true, that dumbass forgot to bring rope when he left the Shire, and then again when the company left Rivendell.  But hey, what can you really expect from a sidekick after all?  If you're lucky, loyalty and skill with rope.  And maybe mad ninja skills for when he/she can't lay their hands on rope.

Lord of the Rings and Boondock Saints references aside, rope is still a useful asset to have in a bind.  Or to have for a bind.

But in order to squeeze every last drop of value from this multi-functional and adaptable resource, there are some tricks to master.  that's where investing some time learning some proper knot-tying comes in-handy.  Rope is rather useless if you don't know how to tie a knot.  Cue the impotence double entendre!  There are hundreds of different knots. From simple knots using a single piece of rope, to attaching two ore more into a single line.  The ability to knot rope is what makes it so damn versatile in the first place.  Really, what woman doesn't go wild for a man who can't tie a knot in a cherry stem?  Or even another woman.  That's pretty hot. We don't even need to get into the bondage possibilities.

Global Warming - Look, sea-levels have risen. My mutant ass will probably be on a boat.  A sailboat at that, since I don't really trust my chances in getting my hands on a reliable supply of petrol to make a boat go.  Have you ever seen a sailboat?  Those things are covered with ropes that desperately need to be tied.  And how else can I plan to attach grappling hooks to the end of a rope for a good old-fashioned boarding?   This skill is not merely useful, it's necessary.  10/5

Ideally, I tend to see myself on a boat for pretty much all the other scenarios.  Though I doubt my stomach will thank me for it.  Or the rest of the crew after the fiftieth rendition of a certain song.  I think that I've listed enough reasons previously for land dwellers to take the craft of knot-tying seriously, from improved mobility to improvised weaponry, rope has it all. Even zombies will learn to fear the wrath of the rope.  There will be all sorts of buildings to scale, villains to tie, and aliens to hang. Being able to tie the right knot for the occasion will get you all the nookie. Recognize. 5/5

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Eagle Claw Strike!

The phrase Martial Arts when broken down can easily be applied to any form of the soldier's craft. We'll focus more on the fighting and killing aspect. And even further on close-combat both armed and unarmed. The Greeks had their pikes, the Romans combined their short stabbing swords and large tower shields, the French mastered the art of heavy infantry, the Mongols were Gods of Death on their horses. But none of these images is as powerful as the ShaoLin Monks and their ability to inflict shock and awe with just their bare hands and feet. And look damn cool doing it. Let's just keep to the empty handed techniques for this run shall we?

Martial arts, the ability to disarm, wound and kill with your bare hands. I like the Steven Seagal form of Akido. No fancy jumps and kicks. You just stand there and become a giant, unmovable wall of hurt to anyone dumb enough to cross the path of your windmilling-throatRemoving hands. All fear the ability not only to break multiple bones with your thumb, but also to transform ordinary household objects into weapons. And you get to wear a pony-tail to boot. But these forms of training take years and years of hard work to master. I don't have those years. But I have seen a lot of movies. And I do have netflix. How hard can it be?

Very. Just ask the Star Wars Kid. That poor bastard.

There are hundreds of different possible forms to choose from. Some ancient and others quite modern. Most modern militarys give their volunteers at least a crash course in all things close combat, from hand to hand training, to knives, to spears(bayonets) and clubs(rifle butts). There are even Dojos in most of the cities across the country offering everything from TaeKwanDo on up to the more obscure branches of the martial arts trees. All you need is a combination of time/money/discipline and you can easily find someone to make you at least look like you know what you're doing. all while giving you a heady injection of confidence - which could be really bad when your flabby ass walks into a biker bar and decides to call them sissies while relying on your green belt to protect you.

Zombie Uprising - You don't fight zombies. You kill them. Or they eat you. I guess you can piss yourself and flee too, but that's just running away from your problems. This is with the horror movie classic Romero style zombies. Hatian Voodoo Zombies are another animal altogether. Breaking bones, Arm Locks, Yoga Noogies, and Tearing out Throats - These really are ineffective against walking corpses that don't feel. Sure, if you bust a zombie's leg(s) it will move much more slowly. But it will keep moving, unlike a human that these arts were developed to counter. Really, you aren't much better off after years of training than a twelve year old with a shotgun, and personally I wouldn't want to go after a crowd of zombies with just my hands and feet. My experience in the subject (Read that as, when I played Dead Rising) is that thinking that you're an unbeatable badass is a damned good way to get yourself killed. A little confidence is a dangerous thing. 2/5

Alien Invasion - You recall that scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, when Lancelot attacks the castle and beats on it with his sword. I imagine that my fists will be just as effective against the hull of any vessel capable of traveling through space. So what, then the aliens step out of their ship, you assume your fighting stance, only to be vaporized by like twenty deathrays. So, maybe your kung fu is strong, and you make it to the overlord and challenge to hand to hand combat him for the fate of our species. Assuming the creature doesn't just have you hauled off and anal-probed the prognosis isn't good. If you win, you get vaporized, if lose, you're sold to the salt mines of of Sloggoth Seven. Or maybe you get your ass hauled back to the MotherWorld and are forced to fight in the Arena against other captive warriors. This could either lead to a KungFu Slave Revolt, or a sword through your head. 2/5

Global Warming - As we all know, the oceans are infested with pirates. The oceans collectively are the natural environment for pirates to dwell. Basically, the oceans are for pirates what human cities are for rats. When the water levels go up, the pirate population is going to explode exponentially. which is rather funny considering that the Pastafarians believe that global warming is directly resulted from the decline in pirates over the years. Maybe we'll finally come to a proper balance. Maybe. Anyhow, the ninja, the ultimate martial artist, is the pirate's natural enemy. Transforming yourself into a sharpened, spinning whirrligig of death will be immanently useful when repelling the unending stream of boarders intent on buggering off with your booty. 5/5

Resource wars and Nuclear Apocalypse - Due to the fact that their situations are rather similar, I'm lumping these two together. In both, we're dealing mostly with other human beings. Living breathing humans. Sure, some might have extra limbs and exotic skin tones after getting their fair dose of fallout, but hey, just more bones to break huh. Here's the one situation that mastering the martial arts comes into its own. Especially after the first decade or so of conflict and PvP battles where everyone has wasted all of the ammunition and we're all down to wielding rusty chains and 2x4s with nails through them. Now is the time to pull out the Kwai Chang Caine and pulverize all comers in extreme slow motion so that the kids at home can follow along. That dude with one hockey knee-pad, bandanna and tank-top? He'll be mighty surprised as you use the Eagle Claw Technique to rip his heart out of his chest and show it to him as he's dying. Booya! 5/5