Thursday, June 30, 2011

Goodbye Paynetown

The Pirates of Paynetown event has been canceled due to differences between the site and the organizers. I am really sorry to see this event go. This event was what got us into pirate reenacting in the first place and it was always a favorite. It had several things to recommend it including:

  • A large lake
  • A fairly unique battle involving an attack on the camp by boats.
  • A well-shaded camp site that had few anachronisms (as long as you didn't face north).
The event is being replaced by Brigand's Grove which will be a more general event featuring all kinds of rogues instead of just pirates. The new site does have a stream but no lake.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Put-In-Bay Pirate Fest III

While there were a few rough spots, the 2011 Put-in-Bay Pirate Pirate Fest went quite well. The festival is held on the village green in the middle of town. Most of the surrounding merchants participate in some way and lots of visitors wear pirate hats and/or eye patches.

The main attractions are the historic pirate camp that we set up and the cannon firing.

This was our second year as official participants. Two years ago Michael and I checked out the festival and entered the costume contest. There was a historic encampment that year but the group that set it up has not been invited back. They didn't impress me. I had the impression that they were a F&I that said that they were pirates.

Last year was our first year. We were provided with a field to camp in that was a couple of blocks from the display area. This caused a little extra work since we had to tear down the displays Saturday night and set them back up Sunday morning. Still, it kept us separated from the drunks.

This year we were more comfortable with the set-up. In addition, we were provided with a better golf cart for hauling equipment and people so things were smother in general.

Our camp last year was so successful that the organizers asked us to bring back twice as many pirates this year. This lead to the main rough spot this year - cooking. Last year we cooked lunch and they fed us dinner. This year, with a larger group, they offered us groceries instead of meals. This meant cooking for 20+ over braziers. It also meant that we had to stick around the display camp where the braziers were. Some people went to the numerous restaurants and were not around when the time came to pack up the displays.

But enough of the rough spots. Highlights were:

The weather: Last year it was nearly 100 degrees. This year is was much cooler, especially on Friday and Saturday when there was a strong breeze.

Cannons: We arrived earlier this year and went looking for the organizer, Ty. He was piloting a barge full of cannons, attacking the town. He pulled up to the docks and three of us came on board as cannon crew. We had four cannons and five people so I ended up running a four-pounder by myself. I came back on Saturday when we repeated attack.

The tactical: This year we arranged to use the cannon area for a short tactical. This was thrown together fast and only ran for a few minutes but it was still fun. What it consisted of was a group of pirates, led by me, attacking from one side of a gazebo. A cannon fired and we retreated to the other side of the gazebo. A second cannon fired and we went back to the original side to exchange fire with some defenders. After we ran out of charges we did some hand-to-hand combat, killing the defenders. We regrouped and barely had time to declare "Nothing can stop us now!" before a final cannon went off, killing us all.

The last I heard, the organizers wanted us to bring even more pirates next year.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pirate Treasures

Slideshow of artifacts from the Queen Anne's Revenge here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pirates 5 Director

There are rumors that Rob Marshall who directed PoTC 4 is not interested in directing PoTC 5. Since PoTC 4 is very profitable thanks to overseas sales, there will be a PoTC 5. Currently five directors are rumored to be on the shortlist: Tim Burton, Alfonso Cuaron, Shawn Levy, Sam Raimi and Chris Weitz.

I suspect that Burton is on the list because of his long association with Johnny Depp. He also has worked with Disney. His version of Alice in Wonderland was Disney's top-grossing movie in 2010. His batman movies and Sleepy Hollow show that he can make good adventure movies. Regardless, I doubt that Burton would be interested. He is so well-established that he doesn't have to direct someone else's franchise. He can pick and choose his own projects and he has always excelled at filming his own interpretation. This is four movies too late to bring in Burton.

Raimi can certainly do special-effects adventure movies. He could probably make a good Pirates movie but, like Burton, I don't think that he would be interested.

Of the three left on the list, Cuaron would be my pick based on his Harry Potter movie. He took over an established franchise and put his own mark on it. Disney Family has been showing marathons of the first five movies and Cuaron's is the best-directed. The movies that Chris Columbus made were more like theme park rides with a plot, full of little details that slowed the action but delighted the fans. Cuaron turned down the spectacle and turned up the visuals. A few examples - the Whomping Willow went from a mechanical effect to a digital one and modified to look more like a real willow. Hagrid's cottage went from sitting by itself just outside the gates to being across the covered bridge (a great addition itself), and down a hill and surrounded by a garden. Cuaron is also a good story-teller. The Prisoner of Azkaban has a complicated plot involving time travel and the same event seen from multiple perspectives. Cuaron kept all of this clear.

That would be an asset in a franchise known for complicated plots.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pirates at Fort de Chartres

I was at the annual Rendezvous at Fort de Chartres with the Crew of the Mercury. This event is basically a large rendezvous with some military units at a partly-reconstructed French fort.

When it was built the fort was on the Mississippi but the river has shifted and is now around a mile away. The French built timber forts in the area starting in 1720. The stone fort was largely completed by 1754. In 1765 the British gained control of it as part of the end of the Seven Years War. It was abandoned by 1771. The river undercut the walls and the buildings were stripped of their stone for building materials.

So, what were a bunch of pirates doing so far inland? The idea was to have an event that mid-west members of the Mercury could come to. Our camp wasn't particularly piratical although we did have some nice handouts thanks to William Red Wake.

As far as I was concerned the main reason for going was to hang around with the Mercury members.

I did get to see a live-fire cannon contest. If I go again I will seriously think about entering my new cannon. There was one there that was about the same size.

There was a short battle between the French and the English. We bolstered the English numbers. The brown bess that I was firing needed a new flint and was misfiring every other shot so I went down as a casualty. The Mercury Crew died to a man.

The event was hot, possibly the hottest I have ever been to. We heard that the temperature on Saturday was 102 with 75% humidity. Sunday was a lot more comfortable - 83 when we left.

On to Put-In-Bay.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A New Cannon

I bought a new cannon at the World Steam Expo (a Steampunk convention). It's around 1.5 times longer than my existing swivel gun and cast iron. The bore is just a bit bigger than the swivel. It is more or less a scaled-down three pounder. Let's call it a half-pounderer. It is about as big a gun as I can handle by myself. I was told that it weighs 150 pounds but I can still lift it easily. Any bigger and it would weigh 250 pounds or more and I would have to have help moving it.

I could have gotten it with a naval carriage. I went for a swivel carriage instead. It was a lot cheaper that way and I can make a naval carriage easier than I can make a swivel mount. I have dimensions figured up for the carriage and it shouldn't take too long to make. I made a carriage for my bronze swivel gun a couple of years ago and it only took a few days. The hardest part will be the iron straps that hold the trunnions down. I may have to fire up the forge for that.