Monday, August 10, 2009

Pirates of Paynetown 2009

The 2009 Pirates of Paynetown was a major success. Around 150 pirates gathered making a decent-sized town for the pirates to attack. There were around ten boats, some of them stored in camp. I think that five or six participated in the pirate attack and these held more people than last year. New events included an improvised naval battle and night cannon firing, both on Friday. There was dancing after dark on Saturday and a pirate funeral on Sunday when the skeleton pirate hanging as a warning was finally laid to rest.

This was the 4th PoP and the third that I have attended. Attendance has jumped each year and may be nearing the limits of what the site can support. There are good and bad points about this. The good points are that more people means more going on and it is growing in a good way - accuracy is not being sacrificed and the new people are adding new displays. The Saturday night Pirate Pitch-in dinner has improved a great deal with nearly everything being cooked on-site and not a single bucket of KFC to be seen.

There are a few drawbacks to the increase. With 25-50 people, most people congregate at the tavern after dark. With over 100 people, a smaller precentage went to the tavern. Groups were big enough to support their own gatherings. Also, fewer groups include pirate or nautical items in their camps. It is really a canvas village that happens to have some pirates in it.

The beach has become a problem. In 2007, the water level in the lake was down and there was plenty of beach available. That Winter the lake flooded and the beach eroded making it smaller. This year the water level was much higher and rising while we were there, covering a lot of the beach. That doesn't leave much room for the boats. There are plans to add a floating dock for next year.

The wind was a problem on Saturday. The boats had a lot of trouble being in the right position and the waves were pretty high for a lake. I didn't measure the wind until it had died down a bit. Even then it was in the 9-10 MPH range. On Sunday it was in the 6-8 MPH range and things were much easier. In fact, the Sunday battle went about perfectly. The pirates attacked, the shore batteries opened up, the pirates landed and were opposed by British regulars and militia but a band of "land pirates" appeared at their flank and routed them (which gave the "boat pirates" a chance to land safely), and the camp was taken.

This event is becoming one of the best events of the year for pirates who are serious about history.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hook - What Went Wrong?

Hook just showed up on cable. This seemed like a great idea when it was first announced. Speilburg was still highly acclaimed and he said that Robin Williams was the only actor who could pull off the role. The result was poor. What happened?

One basic problem was that it mixed two worlds. A corporate lawyer with no time for his kids had to travel to a place where people can fly and someone can lose his shadow. The two were too dissimilar.

A big problem is that the movie was just too long. Every part of it goes on and on, especially the beginning and end. The movie could easily have had a half hour or more cut from it and it would have been better.

Robin Williams' child-like act has been over-rated. The same thing happened with Popeye, another Williams movie with high expectations that flopped at the box office.

The script assumes that the viewer is totally familiar with the original book.

The end has several problems. Hook kills Rufio, one of the Lost Boys. So what does Peter do? Gathers his kids and prepares to leave. It is only after Hook threatens his children that he fights. Even then, he humiliates Hook then leaves. Hook is finally killed by the crocodile from the book. Despite being dead and stuffed, the crocodile still falls on Hook in slow motion and devours him. Hook has een stopped but Rufio is unavenged.

A more interesting version would have been to show Neverland from the pirate's viewpoint. Why are they hanging around Neverland? Why don't they leave? Have they become as ageless as the Lost Boys?