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November 18, 2008

The Living History "Flash Mob"

Lately I have been pondering the situation of the "civilian re-enactor". This is someone who chooses to portray a non-military person at public history events. This civilian often finds him or herself marginalized at events that are really all about soldiers marching about and playing "bang you're dead" or gunfighters doing what ever gunfighters do, as well as also target shooting or playing "bang you're dead".

Further, the civilian is often, by choice and situation a free agent without the support provided by an established group. This can be very isolating, and seriously degrade one's quotient of fun, with nothing much to do and no one to talk to.

Modern technology however offers an interesting opportunity to mitigate the negative aspects of wanting to portray the ordinary man, woman or child of the era while increasing the fun and impact of our activities.

A modern phenomenon is the "flash mob", where a group of individuals use email, texting, social networks, cell phones and the like to create collective action. Often it's things like political protests or stunts. However, this same model of the flash mob can be applied to our hobby, and allow the benefits of a supportive group of like minded people without the complexity and constraint of formal organizations.

I would like to suggest that we who portray historical folk embrace the model of the "flash mob" and use technology to make our mark on the world.

If this interests you , please read the full entry for the details.

Continue reading "The Living History "Flash Mob""

Posted by Walter at 04:20 PM | Comments (7)

April 12, 2007

The Merry Gamester Web Friendly Edition

Last year, I posted my self-published book on the history of games, the "Merry Gamester", on the web. This was just a PDF version of my old paper book.

I am taking a class in desktop publising, and I made it my class project for inDesign to remake it in a more web-friendly version.

Continue reading "The Merry Gamester Web Friendly Edition"

Posted by Walter at 05:17 PM | Comments (1)

July 03, 2006

Presenting the Character of a Victorian Gentleman

If one is involved in a public "living history", where one is wearing proper Victorian attire, one really ought to have the manners to go with the clothing. I think this is as true if you are doing a "third person" presentation as when you are doing a "first person". Proper Victorian attire should always be accompanied with proper Victorian behavior, even if you aren't pretending to be someone else. The effect may be subtle, and perhaps even subliminal, but it all helps.

Here are a few suggestions for a 21st Century man to present an illusion of a Victorian gentleman:

Continue reading "Presenting the Character of a Victorian Gentleman"

Posted by Walter at 12:56 PM | Comments (2)

June 23, 2006

19th Century Working Men--Where to get the stuff

Some men are talented tailors. Other men have talented women who are willing to make costumes for them. Others have neither advantage--but fortunately, if all you need to do is dress up like a ranch hand, farmer, ditch digger, railroad worker or what ever, you can get all sorts of historically correct, moderately priced and well made stuff "off the rack" with nothing more than a credit card (with money, all things are possible).

Continue reading "19th Century Working Men--Where to get the stuff"

Posted by Walter at 12:05 PM

June 22, 2006

19th Cenutry Working Men--Dressing the Part

A week or so ago, I was participating in my usual monthly living history at Los Encinos State Historic Park ( It was June in the San Fernando Valley, it was around 100 Degrees Farenheit, and I wasn't doing too badly. I reflected on the fact that in my "Ranch Hand" garb, I was wearing probably the best gear any European could wear in the sweltering desert that is Southern California--and I was also entirely historically correct.

Continue reading "19th Cenutry Working Men--Dressing the Part"

Posted by Walter at 10:23 AM

May 12, 2006

In Praise of the Wrapper

Many living history programs, which focus on domestic life in the second half of the 19th Century are faced with the dilemma of women who want to, or are supposed to be in 19th Century costume, but who are not willing or able to wear the elaborate underpinnings that go with fashionable ladies' attire, such as corsets, petticoats, bustles and the like.

Many more who are willing to give it a try lack the sewing skills required to produce one of these rather complex dresses.

There is a solution: it is called the "wrapper".

Continue reading "In Praise of the Wrapper"

Posted by Walter at 01:23 PM | Comments (3)

April 12, 2006

19th Century Clergy and other "Characters"

I recently received an email asking for suggestions on what a Methodist minister should be wearing in the Civil War era South.

I referred the questioner to a page in my "Gentleman's Page" website which shows a 19th Century clergyman, but his question does raise an interesting and broader ranging question: what if the questioner wanted to portray a Baptist preacher in an ordinary business suit--how would anyone know, without him constantly introducing himself, what he was portraying?

Continue reading "19th Century Clergy and other "Characters""

Posted by Walter at 08:23 AM | Comments (2)

April 08, 2006

The Invisible iPod

Have you ever wanted a nice soundtrack of period music playing in the background of your 20th Century event or in the room of your historic house--but a boom box is too bulky, and if you subject your volunteers to the same CD on a continuous loop, they might take a hostage. ..

Here's something that has worked for me:

Continue reading "The Invisible iPod"

Posted by Walter at 01:05 PM

February 17, 2006

What Makes a Good Living History Costume

Historical correctness, simplicity and appropriateness are what make a good costume for a living history interpreter.

Historical Correctness
In terms of historical correctness, it should, of course, be cut in a manner that is right for the time and place being portrayed. That should go without saying, but I have seen too many hoop skirts in 1880s portrayals and bustles lurking about the Civil War.

Continue reading "What Makes a Good Living History Costume"

Posted by Walter at 09:15 AM