Monday, March 26, 2007

The good the bad and the ugly

Now isn't that original for a blog title!

There has been a lot of discussion in our shire lately about "the Dream" of the SCA. It got me to thinking about "back then" (meaning when I naively got into the SCA and thought everything was perfect) and how I view things where I am now.

The Good

I do still see good in the SCA. I see the lady who is attempting to make good period garb, figure out how to wrap her hair like in the pictures so it stays on and is comfortable, and wants to try to make it within her period. That's good. I see the fighter who is striving to look good. Not only with is fighting, but in the way he presents himself in other areas. Has his own herald, makes nice trappings, and acts courtly at all times. That's good. I see the lord who is working with youth combat and wanting to make honest fighters out of all of them. Making sure that they understand the rules of combat, the code of chivalry and that they respect their fellow youth and adult fighters. That's good. I see the lady who is working to learn some period recipes so that her next feast is more authentic. She brings her trials and errors to potluck so that we can try it and critique. She signs up on cooking lists and tries her hand at redacting a recipe. That's good. I see the family that slowly pieces together a more medieval encampment, learning to build furniture and sew tenting, slowly leaving behind the "mushroom farm" and blue tarps for a pavilion and tent and eventually plastic web chairs for period folding stools and chairs. That's good. And I see a Group working together to do a demo and trying to make it look like they understand the middle ages, putting a bit of effort ito design, costume, and presentation. They put aside their differences for a few weeks so that they can get this accomplished. That, too, is good.

The Bad

I think that there will always be "bad" round. Bad being that guy who shows up to events in a half thought out t-tunic, pair of jeans and flip flops and considers himself "in garb." Bad being that woman who doesn't put any effort into her feasts and thinks that mashed potatoes, Kraft mac-n-cheese, and hot dogs are perfectly fine feast foods. "Heck everyone eats it so why not?" Bad being that group of kids who show up to fighter practice, but never come to an event and their only reason for showing up is for the aggressive male goat head butting. Bad being the parents who let their kids run around unsupervised and then get angry because the autocrat had to bring their drunk kids to them and asked to leave the property. Bad being the officer who just never finds time to do his office, but won't step down and "lose power." Bad being the group that would rather not do anything rather than help "the other side" try to accomplish something that will make everyone look good.

The Ugly

This is the part I hate to write. The UGLY part. You've seen it. You may even have been part of it. The ugly part is that part where you see someone defend their friends even when they know they are wrong and should do right. The ugly part is where you work to make other people look badly even going out of your way to do so (and not looking so pretty yourself in the process). The ugly part is when you get into the SCA for your own selfish reasons. When awards and titles and fame are more important to you than helping other people, being kind and wanting others to succeed as well. It's ok to have dreams and aspirations, but to want them above all else, IMO, is pretty ugly. The ugly part is a group that is so divided that it looks like two (or three or four) groups rather than one. The ugly part is forgetting the code of honor.

Unfortunately, I've seen a bit too much ugly lately. It saddens me because it isn't what I thought existed when I first got into the SCA. I remember a time when I could leave my pouch with $200 cash in it on a table all night while I was dancing and come back the next day and find it right where I left it (or at the very least turned into the constable) with all its contents still in it. Yet lately I have heard of more and more instances of encampments being raided, money being stolen and people's personal possessions gone through to profit oneself.

I think that we really need to step back and remember what it was about the SCA that got us involved in the first place. For some people it was for self-glorification and those people are going to be like that no matter what organization they are part of. For other people it was something that was bigger than themselves. Something bigger than them and their friends put together. Bigger even than all the kingdoms put together. That something is honor, chivalry, and courtesy. Those are the lofty goals that we should all be working towards.

Enough soap boxing.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Heraldry of the odd

Well, it really isn't odd, but it is unique and it is period. Scroll through these for some interesting heraldic weirdnesses. Some of the elephants and other beasts are very interesting. It makes you believe that the artist was working off of a description rather than a drawing or having actually seen the beasts. For instance one of the elephants looks like a dog with its nose stuck in a dryer vent hose. Another is gobbled together with all the important parts but it still doesn't look elephantine. There are also some charges and divisions that would never pass our college of arms!

This is the sort of thing that really sparks me to want to keep studying. Seeing interesting things like Big Foot on a coat of arms and all the different crests. It's really fun to look at these things and imagine what was going on in some medieval guy's head. "I want a man on my arms. No, I BIG man. No. REALLY big man. With hair all over his body. Ripping a tree out of the ground! Yeah, that's it!" And I can just imagine the converation between artist and client in trying to draw an elephant. Just how do you describe an elephant to someone who has never seen one before? I also wonder about the artists' thoughts of the presumption of some of the clients. "Just how many crowns does he really need on his arms to prove that he is nobility?" These are all simple, beautiful and fun. Enjoy it. But don't blame me if you end up getting lost for hours scrolling through page after page of arms!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Just another name rant

You can totally ignore this if you have read this rant before. Being a herald in the SCA has caused me to learn more about naming practices than I had ever thought possible (at least for me). When I was in my quest for that Perfect Name, I ran into someone who once asked me, "If you are playing this medieval game, why do you not wish to have a medieval name? What is your interest in the middle ages if you want something that is more fantasy constructed than medievally constructed?" Wow! That made a huge impact in my wanting not only a Perfect Name but a Perfect Medieval Name. It took me another 10 years to find that Perfect Medieval Name (not that all people should be so challenging to themselves!)

So here I am a herald in a medieval organization dealing with, well, as Cato says, Users. :) Users are those that want the program to work the way they think it should work without really knowing how it should work in the first place. They haven't read the "tech manual" let alone the operating instructions. RTFM (or in my case RTW(hole)FM). As part of the collective of heralds (not to be confused with the Borg Collective) we deal daily with people who not only haven't read the manual but don't even realize that a manual exists. I think I understand why Lainie says this is public service.


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Cool Movie!

I've just finished watching the HBO mini-series Elizabeth (available on DVD) and found it very true to the facts that I remember reading about her life. And the costumes are OMG gorgeous. We paused the movie so many times to take a look at something. I kept thinking all through watching it, "I wonder how they made that collar so stiff" or "Look at that dainty lace on the cuff" or "Oh, I could make that hat!" And I don't even do Elizabethan!! It was sucha beautiful movie from a costuming perspective and the acting wasn't too bad either (Does Jeremy Irons die in every movie he does?)

Another movie that I think is great is The Advocate which is about a solicitor that goes to the country and ends up defending a pig who is on trial for murder. Again, great costuming (although a bit earlier than Elizabeth and not so refined) and the plot is funny as well. Well worth watching.

That's all for now.