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A WORD FROM OUR FOUNDER
Douglas Paszkiewicz is an nationally (Eisner Award and Harvey Award) and internationally (comic-dom Award) award nominated writer for his own books and numerous national and international magazines. Here are his thoughts this week.
A tale of two birthdays
All I want for X-mass
These two little numbers are birthday presents to myself. One from a couple years ago and one from this year. People are well meaning but the truth is I am pretty hard to shop for. Not that I am an ingrate or anything, I always appreciate gifts, and I really do think it is the thought that counts. But who could really guess from anything I have ever said EVER, that I have thinking about getting a decent tomahawk for years? Or before that a decent Ghurka?
"Ghurka?" Yeah, that's the number on the left there. Probably better known as a Kuri. It's a strange looking thing ain't it? Not sure who first came up with it, but it was standard issue in the Burmese army for ages. While it looks silly the British troops of the day could tell you being on the business end of one is not so funny. "In the hands of an experience attacker using a Kuri, the first thing that touches the opponent is also the last thing that touches him "... I forget who said that, I read it in some British military history book. Anyway the design is such that it is a amazing hacking knife. The blade is usually about ten inches long, which makes it equally good clearing out brush as it is splitting a British helmet. See the Burmese would sneak up behind the redcoats and swing straight down splitting the helmet and about 2/3 of the sentinels head. No noise, no struggle, no more insurgent. The odd angle of the knife makes it seem like it would only good for slashing and not for poking, but with a little practice you can thrust with it. I have been able to chop down tomato can sized trees with a couple of hacks, or thrust it right through a car door. (I have lots of spare car parts in my garage...and it's good to practice on them for when I see people taking up two parking spaces).
Actually though, I didn't get these to punish bad parking or in case the rage virus infects the Milwaukee water supply, I got them for camping. I was a cub scout for a couple years, and even a boy scout for about 9 months and while most of it bored me, I did love camping and hiking. I haven't gone in years but that doesn't stop me from slowly building up everything I need to take any kids I may have (steal) camping one day. This though is the problem with the Kuri. It is a great offensive weapon and even good for hacking away brush from the camp, but It's not a very good all around tool. You can't say...pound tent stakes in with it, or pry anything open or other tasks like that which you will run into far more than british guardsmen.
The fella on the right should look familiar, it's a tomahawk. The Indians, despite what you may have read in bleeding heart FB memes over thanksgiving, knew a thing or two about killing people with hand weapons. All you have to do is pick one up to know this wasn't invented to make peace with anybody. It is light, and with a foot an a half handle/all the weight on the very end, even a light swing transfers enough momentum to the blade to be pretty deadly. The indians had reasons for things, and the handle on a good tomahawk is the length of an average forearm. With your wrist and elbows as the fulcrums any swing generates double the power. The particular model I got is an SOG tactical tomahawk (based on the G.I. Vietnam era tomahawk). SOG is a comapny out of California and makes a whole lot of quality knifes and tools. This thing is put together real well. The head isn't just pressed over the handle like a hammer, but actually has about a four inch tang (tab) that is sunk into the handle, screwed through, and even has a metal neck reinforcing both. You could hit a gholem in the face with this thing and the head wouldn't come off. The blade came sharp as a razor and after about two hours of throwing it into a tree, sharpened up real nice and easy. It took about ten minutes to get it sharp enough to shave hair off my forearm. If ever you see me at a convention and I have a bare patch on my arm..it's been a stressful week and I have been trying to relax by sharpening knives. That is my other problem with the Kuri, it takes for ever to re sharpen and as far as getting it sharp on that concave bend close to the handle...forget it. Making steel for knife involves a whole lot of cooling issues, and how much carbon is too much and hardness verse malability...it's all very boring, suffice to say, if it says "china" or "surgical steel" on it...don't waste your money. If the steel has a number after it like 440 or 1020 or something than it is probably good and just a matter of preference. The Kuri is a Smith and Wesson brand and the steel is very hard...which is good for keeping a sharp edge, but awful for re sharpening.
You can also forget throwing the Kuri at anyone and having it stick...I don't know if it is the curve of the blade or my particular model just isn't balanced worth a crap, but if you want to hurt someone who is running away from you with this knife...you are better off running the other way and stabbing someone they love. The tomahawk has a spike on the other end...which also went through a car door no problem, and probably comes in handy it your are climbing up things and need to spike it into the side of a steep ridge and pull your way up. Also on each side of the head just atop the handle is a flattened edge that you can use to pound things.
They weight about the same, so carrying one around all day vs the other is a wash. The holders however, are a different matter. The Kuri has a nice big belt loop that will slide over even a G.I. three inch belt, while the belt loop for the tomahawk is so tight against it's case that you really can't fit it on anything.
The tomahawk itself has plenty of holes you could stick one of those climbing hook things through, so It'll find a place on my backpack somewhere.
Still on the hunt for a bowie knife but a good one will run about 200.00. (this is not a hint, nobody buy me a 200.00 knife, I won't like it because it will have some element about it that is chintzy that I can spot and you can't and then I will never have a good Bowie knife because I will feel too guilty to get a good one and have you think I didn't like yours...besides 200.00 is an absurd amount of money for anything that is just going to sit on my wall. The tomahawk was like 30.00...which is also too much for something that is just going to collect dust but it was my birthday so what the hell...i've had a rough year.) You see "bowie knifes" cheaper than that, but a good one that is based on the principals of it's inventor have foot long blade and an extra metal bracing on the back of the blade. It was designed to be used upside down of how you would think to hold it. You would hold the blade facing you to block things with the metal bracing and the the filthy Spaniards would break their swords on it, then you'd jab them in the guts and pull upward...and then outward...bringing most of their guts back to you along with the knife. Or you can use the bracing to pound in tent poles...whichever. Anyways, I am pretty happy with the tomahawk. The only annoying part is that even though I researched to make sure I was buying American...the handle itself is made in china. I guess part American is going to have to do...I already sent it face first into the pear tree about 30 times before I noticed, not much chance of being able to return it now.Buy the way, none of you hippies start grumbling about me abusing tress. That pear tree is over two stories tall and at least twice a year I am knocked stupid by a falling sofball sized pear.
For the sake of practicality (bwhahahaha pratcicality) the tomahawk is probably the better tool. If a "walking dead" type scenario came up, they are about a horse a piece. They will both split a walkers head open no problem and are light enough to run with. I'd say the tomahawk wouldn't last long though, having distinct edges means it is probably going to be tough to pull back out, plus the urge to throw it at a walker is just going to be irresistible.
The final test though came last night. I don't have much opportunity to fight british red coats or the u.s. calvary but I run out of clean dishes a whole lot. My Kuri has drawn far more tomato sauce than blood as the ten inch curve blade makes a perfect pizza cutter. Turns out the tomahawk is no slouch in that department either. (no I didn't chop at the pizza, I cut it with the blade...i'm not a lunatic, I just hate doing dishes)
So what does any of this have to do with X-mas? What does being able to hack people up into tiny pieces or going off into the wilderness away from the rest of humanity have to do with x-mass? What does being able to kill mouth breathing, dead eyed, foot dragging shells of humanity have to do with the holidays? What does cutting cold pizza in a lonely apartment have to do with x-mass?..are you serious?