Tag: American History

Fort MacArthur heats up in 2018

Fort MacArthur heats up in 2018

If the heat yesterday wasn’t bad enough for you, how about this?

California heat wave. Open field war reenactments. Heavy wool historically accurate Civil War uniforms.

Fun, fun, fun.

Luckily I wasn’t one of the poor saps that had to stand around outside for hours in a heavy outfit. Instead I just got to go around and explore, migrating from shady spot to shady spot learning all about cool historical things.

That’s right, it’s Old Fort MacArthur Days time once again! If you missed out on the post I did last year showing off a slideshow of pictures I took, you can check it out here.

But for those of you who fit into the center of the Venn diagram between ‘not initiated’ and ‘too lazy to click the link,’ Old Fort MacArthur Days is a yearly event at the closed military base on the cliffs of San Pedro, California. People of all creeds gather in historical gear and bring a treasure trove of knowledge about whatever era of history they aim to represent.

It’s a really sweet two-day event that my family has been going to for probably five+ years now. Not only is it a good time wandering the grounds of the old base learning historical fun facts, but there are vendors and war reenactments that offer plenty of reasons to come back.

I’ve made it something of a tradition of mine to introduce new people to Old Fort MacArthur Days every year, as I think it definitely deserves the traffic and makes for a fun day of hanging out.

Even if these last two years have been face-meltingly hot. But that’s another story.

While I brought my friend Sam last year, this year Juan got to join in on the fun with me and Aly:

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Road Trip, baybee

Shout out to that boy for always being down to go on random adventures.

Also shout out to this great picture we took as a means of making Sam regret her decision to not come along again because of the heat.

We actually listened to a couple of really interesting figures today.

There was a Union commander for the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment that told us all about the very first attempt at using a submarine during the Civil War which failed spectacularly because of the unforeseen consequences of concussing every member aboard the vessel when an explosive went off too early.

Then we spent a good amount of time listening to the Barber Surgeon in the English Civil War region that told us infinite details about various surgical devices and how English superstition led to the creation of myths like the Tooth Fairy.

But of course we also can’t forget the Saloon owner in what I will affectionately call West World who handed out both lemonade and detailed descriptions of tabletop games kids would play in the 1800s.

While the discussions were all wonderful as ever, just as wonderful were the reenactments.

This year we only got to two of them before the heat knocked us out of our desire to stick around. We saw a World War II battle in which the American soldiers used an actual for real tank (which was awesome) to take a bill from German soldiers, and we saw the West World gun show where a man swindled some other cowboys from their money before being killed by his wife for using their daughter in the scheme.

I’m sure it’s great for you all to hear me just talk about the stuff we saw, but I figure I should do you one better and show off this neat slideshow of pictures with mediocre bits of commentary where I can fit it.

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Pretty cool stuff, right? It was totally worth probably getting a sunburn even through two coats of sunscreen to nab some of these.

Especially the cowboy gunshot I used as the attractive featured image. I love that sucker a whole bunch.

However, this year you should all be glad to know that I’ve stepped it up a notch.

Last year I took some videos that I considered putting in my blog post, but couldn’t quite figure out how to insert them here without blowing my storage out of control or having it take three days to upload.

Since then I have become a smarter man and now know how to use my gmail-associated YouTube account to my advantage.

So enjoy this video of the WW2-era tank in action:

And this video of a cowboy decimating a water bottle with a shotgun:

Plus, here’s a bonus video of another cowboy failing to fire his gun and getting ragged on by all the other cowboys:

I think my favorite part of that one is hearing Juan lose it next to me at the physician comment.

That’s about all I have to share from my trip to San Pedro this year. While I hope my pictures are a cool window into this little world that many of you probably haven’t seen, I really have to encourage everyone to check out this event at least once if they’re in the area at the right time!

It’s an awesome historical adventure that’s well worth the heat stroke. Something I’m sure I’ll say after I forget about how much I die in the heat and do it to myself again next year.

Minor musings on Robert F. Kennedy and the English language

On an otherwise lazy day where I basically did next to nothing of note worth talking about with any serious bravado around here, leave it to Dr. Jason Sexton and Boom to give me something interesting and intellectual to reflect on.

Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968. It will officially be the 50th anniversary of that event in just three days.

The history of the Kennedy family isn’t exactly something I think about too often, despite the intriguing nature of the “Kennedy curse” as it were.

As a result, it was interesting doing a copy edit on the 17-page essay written by Joseph Palermo. The piece examines the death of Bobby Kennedy and what motives drove the assassination, both the actual motivations and whatever motivations were placed upon the assassin. He questions whether or not it was appropriate to frame the politician’s death using the Israeli-Palestinian crisis (as many tried to do) based on logs of interactions kept by L.A. County Sheriffs who watched Sirhan.

It’s a rather well done piece that I enjoyed reading, one that gave me a deeper understanding of a period of history I don’t often think about too seriously. Dr. Sexton is hoping to get the thing out on Tuesday, the actual 50th anniversary, and I’d recommend everyone read it once it’s out in the world.

However I didn’t just want to take this time to promote an essay that hasn’t yet been released.

I also wanted to spend some time reflecting on the English language, because copy editing writing does give one plenty of opportunities to think about how needlessly dumb and overcomplicated this great language can be.

For example, there are so many words that are spelled similarly but have vastly different meanings.

At one point in the piece, someone is described as being a ‘demur’ person. Thinking the intent had been to write that they were a ‘demure’ person, I looked up the two words to get a better grasp of exactly what the difference was.

According to dictionary.com:


Demur (verb) — To make objection, especially on the grounds of scruples.
also (noun) — The act of making objection; an objection raised.


Demure (adjective) — Characterized by shyness and modesty; reserved.


Amazing how much difference one silent vowel makes, isn’t it?

In one fell swoop, a person can go from having a descriptor for someone to having an action. Or a noun that’s technically the embodiment of what that verb creates.

No wonder English language learners need extra assistance, the whole construct is just chocked full of rules, exceptions and similar elements like homophones that make it a nightmare to truly master the damn thing.

But hey, that’s the world I’m looking to immerse myself in one of these days, so it’s just my lot in life to try and learn, understand and apply these kinds of specifics.

Guess it’s a good thing I’ve got opportunities like Boom, Gladeo and the Titan around to help me start to work on everything, huh?

Old Fort MacArthur Days: A day of fun, sun and guns for the whole family

Old Fort MacArthur Days: A day of fun, sun and guns for the whole family

Who are these beauties you see above the title here? Why, that’s me and my little sister Alyson, dressed in 1940’s era attire. Both of us outside, at that. What could possibly bring us outside the comfort of our home on such a wonderful afternoon?

Plenty of things, actually. It was a really nice afternoon.

But in this case specifically, we were out and about with my good friend Sam at Old Fort MacArthur Days. Held at its namesake, Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, and spilling into the nearby Korean Friendship Bell, Old Fort MacArthur Days is an annual event where tons of people gather for a weekend to put on their finest displays of historically accurate military and era-specific gear so they can reenact events and educate the public.

Those are essentially the two major selling points of the experience. It’s huge in scale with tons of antiques and goods to sell, and each group has people manning the station that are veritable experts in the field they represent. You can stand around and ask the people in dress anything about the time period they’re dressed for and they’ll more than likely have the answer – and then some.

It’s a hard experience to explain for those who haven’t been, but my family has been going on and off for a long time now, as it’s definitely worth going as much as possible.

One thing the event suffered from this year was a blazing hot sun. For as entertaining as everything was, it was torture standing out in the open for the reenactments and listening to the representatives of the different eras. I can’t imagine what it must have been like standing around in heavy armor or old fashioned dresses and such.

Even without bulky clothing, I still managed to burn the hell out of myself out there. You can even tell in the featured image here, the back of my neck is red as it gets. As a result, I’ve been pretty exhausted and uncomfortable most of the afternoon, which is partially why it took until almost midnight to get something out about an event that ended at 4:00 p.m.

Because I’m still exhausted and also fairly lazy, I’m going to take the easy way out on this one and post a slideshow with all the cool pictures I got of all the booths so everyone can get something of an idea of what the event is like.

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If you like the kind of stuff you see here, I can assure you it’s an even better experience in person. Seriously, I wholeheartedly can’t recommend Old Fort MacArthur Days enough, and implore whoever can go to go next year.

If not for the scale and the educational value, at least for the glorious anachronisms.

Ben Franklin hanging out with Teddy Roosevelt? It’s there. Revolutionary soldiers calling for the death of a fallen gladiator? Got that. Roman children checking out World War II rifles as women in puffy colonial-era dress wander in the background? You know it.

Undoubtedly incredible.



I wanted to add an aside here at the end saying that I also have some pretty great videos showcasing some of the weapon demonstrations, a gladiator fight, the Civil War battle and a cowboy skit.

However, I haven’t been able to get it in a format where I can upload the videos easily yet. It’s actually part of the reason I’ve taken so long to write this, as a matter of fact. Until I figure that out I’m going to leave this here as a reminder that I’ll be adding them in once I do.

Valentine’s Day 2017

Valentine’s Day 2017

For a soon to be 20-year-old bachelor on Valentine’s Day, it helps to remember the small things that make what would otherwise be something similar to every other day into something more special thanks to that spirit of love in the air.

Like staying up into the early hours of the morning reading a book about one of the worst workplace disasters in American history.

Or taking a quiz about said awful tragedy.


Or eating pizza while doing homework, studying Bonobos for my primate class.


(I bet those Bonobos are jealous they don’t have pizza like this, I tell you what)

Playing Fire Emblem Heroes even seems to be just a touch more romantic, I’d say.


… Yeah.

Oh, here’s something more in line with the holiday.  Earlier today at a guest speaker I went to for my Investigative Reporting class, I found out that Burger King is doing a sex toy giveaway at certain stores.  Which is…

Well, kind of incredible to see actually being a thing that’s happening, to be completely honest.

I also got to spend a few hours with a couple of my buddies from the newsroom at a Super Smash Bros. tournament in the Titan Student Union, which was a lot of fun!

My buddy Kyle playing. Don’t think he knows I got this picture, but I’m sure he won’t mind.

I even made it to the third round of the main tournament.

Granted, I made it because of two other players disqualifying, and then lost bad because I didn’t get to practice those first two rounds, but still.

Did alright in the loser’s bracket at least.  I actually got in some decent games there.

… Okay, so for me, it really was just a day like any other.  But hey, hopefully your Valentine’s Day was great, since I’m always a bit of a sucker for a good romance deep down.

Though if you’re just planning on having a good Singles Awareness Day like I will, that’s awesome too.