Samhain2006.

“So, the sisters smiled to themselves,
And they whispered as they shone,
And it was from that very instant,
I knew I would never be alone.
While on the hills
The fires burned at midnight,
Superstition plagued the air,
Sparks fly as the fires burn at midnight,
Stars are out and magic is here,
the stars are out and magic is here…”

What a weekend. What an incredible weekend….. The fires did burn at midnight, the stars were out, and magic was definitely there…

This past weekend was Samhain 2006, The Rumble on the River; a war between the Barony of Three Rivers in Calontir and The Barony of Grey Niche. This was my third year to either autocrat or co-autocrat the event, and I think it may be the best one yet.
Yes, there were some initial problems Friday night. No autocrat ever wants to arrive on site and find out that the baronial equipment that was supposed to be on site no later than 2:00 PM still wasn’t there at 4:30 PM. Nor should any autocrat ever have to receive a call from the person transporting the baronial equipment and be told that the transport driver’s vehicle had thrown it’s timing belt and the Baronial equipment was sitting in a Lowe’s parking lot roughly an hour and a half away. Thank all gods great and small for the generosity and willingness to help of most SCA folks. One of my household members, William of Glenn Lyon lives in Southaven, and he was able to get to the stranded vehicle, load the equipment up and get it to site. So what if it didn’t get there until almost 9:00 PM? The fact is most of it wasn’t needed until Saturday anyway.
The other problem with Friday night was the wind. Yes, it was cold, but the cold itself wouldn’t have been to bad if it hadn’t been so bloody windy. Several people had their tents collapse due to snapped tent poles. Of course none of the people in period pavilions had any problems. The poor folks sitting troll had it the worst. We had rigged up a series of tarps to act as a kind of a wind break. This worked to cut down the worst of the wind, but Turlaugh and crew had to listen to the wind rattling the tarps all night. Not fun, I assure you.
Saturday dawned bright and sunny. There was quite literally not a cloud in the sky. More importantly the temperture climbed to somewhere in the mid sixties and stayed there throughout the day. It was pleasantly warm, but not hot. The Baronial pavilion and the Gleann Abhann Royal pavilion was quickly set up. and before I really new what was happening everything was in full swing. The fighters were having a great time on the field, the archers were having a great time at the range (and a big thanks to Vicountess Miriel for running the range all day. You ROCK), and there were 29 A&S entries in the main hall. All of the problems of the day before had somehow evaporated. Everybody seemed to be having a great time.
All to soon it was late afternoon and it was time to set up for the Bardic Competition. The Three Rivers Players were going to be performing right before court and they had set up a black curtain to use as a back drop and the Bardic competition took place in front of that curtain . There were several participants in the bardic competition: everything from story tellers and poets to singers of period pieces and SCA Filks. All of the performers were very, very talented, and it was truly hard for the audience to determine a winner. I really thought Stu’s performance of the Squire’s Song had stolen the show, but then Ravas and his companions did the skit featuring Lord Pantalone and there was no doubt. Once again the Grey Lady of Grey Niche, the harp that serves as the trophy for the Kathleen O’Cannon Memorial Bardic Competition is going to spend a year being cared for by a member of the Barony of Three Rivers. That’s ok, those are good folks, and they will take good care of her.
After the Bardic Competition the Three Rivers Players performed for the audience. Good lord those are some talented folks. Their show featured singing, and comedy skits. Unfortunately the event schedule only gave them a half hour to perform. I’m told that at Lilies War they perform three shows during the week, and each show is an hour long. I look forward to seeing them again someday.
Then it was time for court, and it was an impressive court. Present were Baron Dulinn of Grey Niche, Baron Duncan of Three Rivers, The Prince and Princess of Gleann Abhann, the King of Calontir and the King of Gleann Abhann. That was the most thrones I’ve ever seen in one place at one time. Court was held outside, under the stars and by torch light, which I thought was kind of cool. Yes, it was literally kind of cool (some people might have said it was in fact bloody cold, but they are mistaken). Several good people got some very well deserved awards. I was particularly happy to see Caitriona get an Onyx Chalice, Ceriddwyn get her GOA and of course seeing Mad Alex get her Court Barony was just to bloody cool for words. I think the best part of court happened while James and I were giving our thanks to everybody that attended and everybody that had worked so hard to make the event a success; just as we were getting ready to announce the war point totals – to announce which side actually won, in other words – both the King of Gleann Abhann and The King of Calontir stood up and said together, ” We won. All of us that were here this weekend won”. Damn, that was a good feeling.
After court I told James the Unholy, the co-autocrat, that I was joining several household members in going into Corinth to get some dinner. All of the Dragons that were present went to Russel’s Steakhouse and I had a steak that was quite literally large enough to feed a small army. I hadn’t eaten all day, and I didn’t realize how hungry I was until I walked into that restaurant and got a whiff of grilling steak. Much fun was had, many stories were told, and a good time was had by all that were there. I can and do recommend that restaurant to any and all SCA folks that find themselves traveling through Corinth.
On returning to site I visited some of the camp fires that were still going, and spent some time at the party hosted by the Three Rivers Folks. Let me tell you , they put on one hell of a party. Singing, conversation, story telling, all under the stars and around a campfire. What a wonderful time. If I had not been so bloody tired I’d have stayed up later, As it was I ended up crashing sometime between midnight and 1:00 AM. Slept like the dead for about seven hours.
Sunday was just packing up, cleaning up, and going home. The packing up went surprisingly quickly, and I have to be honest and say I really didn’t do much of it. Lots of people helped, and it all got done quickly. We were off site by just a very little after noon. About 15 people that had attended the event and worked it in one way or another had lunch at Ryans in Corinth before heading back to Memphis. I was home, showered, and comfortable by about 4:30. Now, all during the drive home I was day dreaming about going to bed and sleeping for 12 hours or so as soon as I had gotten unloaded, and showered. Of course, that didn’t happen.
When I did get a chance to sit down and think back, I realized that I’d had another great SCA weekend. Some people love to fight, some love the involvement in the Arts and Sciences, and that’s fine. Me, I love to organize the events. Sure, at times during the process I will cheerfully admit that I want to hurt some folks, but it always comes together. There is truly nothing I’ve exerienced that is a better feeling than when some one shakes my hand as they are leaving on Sunday morning and tells me they’ve had a good time. Nope, there is nothing in the world that beats that feeling
Of course, no successful event is possible without the hard work of a great number of people:
James the Holy: thank you for doing most of the real work. You were a great co-autocrat, and I hope you enjoyed it.
Luther and Ali and your crew: Thank you for the great food you made for the tavern at lunch and dinner. The food was great, and I know the King of Calontir particularly enjoyed the potato soup at Lunch.
Turlaugh , Elvis, Caitriona, Luca and Falada, thank you for working Troll. An additional thank you to Luca and her token making crew. They were beautiful.
Kathleen thank you for all you did in so many different ways. Thanks for setting up the Baron’s tent, and the tents of several other people.
Miriel: the work you did at the archery range was incredible. Thanks to you and to your marshals.
Marisa: great job as merchancrat, and thanks for helping marshal the battles on Saturday.
Kenna and Crew: thanks for taking care of the Royal Dinnner.
Ulfrun thank you for organizing and running the A&S competitions.
To all 258 people that came to the event: Thank you for coming. I hope you all had as good a time as I did.

Cormac

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So, I was wrong

“We’d go down to the river
And into the river we’d dive
Oh down to the river we’d ride”

(Must be a Springsteen kind of day)

Ok, so I was wrong. That is not all I was going to give it today. I’ll do my best to try and recreate the rest of the post. The post that got eaten. As near as I can remember it went something like this….

Monday was just a Monday. Nothing particularly interesting or memorable happened. I went to work. I annoyed people (I’m a bill collector, it’s what I get paid for). I came home and read. I’m currently reading American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips. Interesting book; I particularly find the section comparing British dependency on coal during the height of it’s power to the United State’s dependence on oil to be thought provoking.

Tuesday was just another work day. After work I read for a while, and generally wasted a couple of hours before heading to the SCA meeting. Last night was the last meeting before Samhain so there was some last minute event business to be discussed, and the rest of the meeting was taken up by Anna’s Protocol and Precedence class. I found the class useful and informative. Despite being in the SCA for almost five years I still get confused about the proper forms of address for some of the upper levels of royalty. Apparently there is going to be a LOT of royalty at Samhain, so this is a good thing to know.

Quite frankly, I’m ready for Samhain to be over. This is the third straight year I’ve either autocratted or co-autocratted this event. I’ve had a lot of fun, and I’m sure I will have a lot of fun at this event, once I actually get on site and get working. I am just going through the “final days before the event panic”. It’s a feeling a know well. Basically, all I have left to do is pick up some last minute supplies, get the “Autocrat’s Emergency Kit” ready, and get my garb washed, organized, and packed. My co-autocrat, James the Holy, is organizing everything else, and he’s doing a damn good job of it.
I just want to work on something else. There are other events I want to autocrat, and other jobs I want to do. I’d love to find a kingdom level job, or deputy spot that I could fill. I truly want an opportunity to serve the kingdom. Of course, I’ll be working as Entourage for the next several months, and I’m fairly sure that will be both interesting and eye opening. Beyond that, I am going to spend several months studying the heraldic rules etc. I would very much like to be the next Grey Niche herald when or if the job ever comes open. I know I could do the administrative part of the job, and I’m fairly confident I could be a passable court herald. I admit, however, that at this point I don’t know a great deal of the “book heraldry”, either in historical or SCA context. However, I do know that there are a couple of very knowledgeable heralds in our local group that could help me learn. So, there’s a great deal of studying to be done in order to be ready if and when the opportunity becomes available.

I also think I’m going to spend some time working on…..well, on me. I need to lose a great deal of weight. I know I can, I’ve done so before. I’m not really concerned about the health issues, though those are considerable. It’s just that I’m larger now than I’ve ever been, and I quite frankly don’ t like the way I feel. Same reason I’m going to work on finally overcoming my niccotine addiction. I know, well, the long term health issues associated with smoking, but that’s not my prime motivating factor. The shortness of breath, and the cost are the prime motivating factors. I figured up what I spend on cigarettes recently, and it bloody well amazed me. Add to that the amount I spend on meals at restaurants, sodas at work, it all adds up. If I quit buying cigarettes, limited myself to one restaurant meal a week, and quit buying sodas at work I could probably fund at least two SCA events a month. So, that’s what I’m going to do. I warn you now, this blog may get a bit boring as I do all of this.

Cormac

Wednesday Wednesday

"Outside the street's on fire
In a real death waltz
Between what's flesh and what's fantasy
And the poets down here
Don't write nothin' at all
They just stand back and let it all be
And in the quick of a knife
They reach for their moment
And try to make an honest stand
But they wind up wounded
And not even dead
Tonight in Jungleland"

Without really knowing how it has happened, I come to realize that it is Wednesday already. I’m fairly sure Sunday was just yesterday. Years ago, when I was drinking, I was all to comfortable with the feeling of losing a couple of days on a rather frequent basis. However, it’s been almost sixteen years since I’ve had anything more than a sip of any kind of intoxicating beverage, so I can’t blame booze.

Gah….I just lost this nice, long post I’d been working on for the last hour. I give up. Not much of a post, I know, but that’s all I’m giving it today.

Friday night musings

“Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose,
nothin’, it ain’t nothin’ honey, if it ain’t free.”

It’s now 10:29 on Friday evening. I’ve been home from work for an hour, and I have to be back at work at 7:00 A.M. in the morning. That fact, as I think you will agree, sucks. I know I shouldn’t complain, since I only an required to work one Saturday a month, so it really isn’t that bad. I just hate getting out of bed and going to work on Saturday’s. Doesn’t feel natural. I think it may violate a religious principle.

I do’t really have a theme, or topic for tonights post, so it’s going to be nothing more than the ramblings of a fat bald man; I’ll do my best to make it entertaining.

First up, let’s think about something our society (and in this case I mean modern society, not the SCA) really needs: new curse words. If you think about it, most of the words that are currently considered to be curse words fall into a few basic categories. First are the words that relate to bodily functions, and those are usually excretory in nature; or refer to body parts, usually parts of the reproductive systems. Then there are the curse words that are racial in nature, and those that refer to sexual activity. The only exception to these categories that I can think of right now, is one that is synonomous with a female dog.
Now, it’s my opinion (and no, it’s not a humble opinion at all), that our society really needs some new curse words. All of the ones that are currently being used have been used for a very long time. It’s time for the language to grow a little. To evolve a little. Surely we can come up with something bit more original for expressing anger, contempt, disgust, disbelief, or any of the other feelings that need to be expressed by cursing. I personally kind of like the word “crivens” that one of my favorite authors uses in some of his books. It’s a good general purpose word that can be used in lot of circumstances. Of course, based on my own political leanings I tend to use the words “republican”, “democrat”, and “politician” as curse words (To be clear, I’m a political liberal, but I think both parties are an insult to the intelligence of our country. I am neither a democrat or republican, and I’m not looking to offend any of my readers by arguing politics). Oh, a another word that would actually make a good cuss word is “poodle”. Any of you, my loyal readers have any idea?

Next up will be a movie review (I told you this would be a rambling post, I hope you believed me). If you have not yet seen The Depated and if you like gangster movies, great soundtracks, great acting, and lots and lots of sudden violence, you will LOVE this movie. Jack Nicholson, as usual, does an incredible job. I usually don’ t like Leonardo DeCapprio (I think that’s how it’s spelled), but I have to admit that he did a great job in this movie. However, Mark Wahlberg damn near steals the show.
The plot is intricate, and you really have to pay attention, but the pacing is fast and the story never drags . I won’t go into a great deal of detail, but the story is that of an undercover cop infiltrating an Irish mob crew that is run by Nicholson’s character. The purpose of this undercover assigment is to find the the “rat” that the mob boss has infiltrated into the State Police. From what I’ve read on IMDB.com Nicholson’s character is based on a real Irish mobster in Boston.
I particularly liked the use of music; the movie has an incredible soundtrack. The version of “Comfortably Numb” on this sound track is the best version of that song I’ve ever heard. It aslo features several songs by a band called The Dropkick Murphys, which I think will become one of my favorites. Imagine a band that combines traditional irish music, punk, heavy metal, and features bag pipes. Definitely my kind of music.

There are several other things I could ramble about tonight, but I have a good book waiting, and I do have to be awake early tomorrow. Five hours of work followed by several hours of preparing for the revel after the BOD meeting, and attending the revel itself; yep, tomorrow is going to be a very busy day.

Cormac
Sometime’s it’s better to light a flame thrower than curse the darkness

Just a Tuesday

“On the turning away
From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say
Which we won’t understand
“Don’t accept that what’s happening
Is just a case of others’ suffering
Or you’ll find that you’re joining in
The turning away”

So, after a mere 480 minutes of work (which in all honesty seemed to fly by in only 9 or ten hours) I came home and tried to get productive here at the house. I had about four hours to kill before attending the Baronial Business Meeting (much more about that in a few minutes), and I had couple of projects to work on. I made a bracelet. I read all my emails (well, all of them that were not hawking baldness cures, weight loss pills, Nigerian banking scams), all the blogs I check daily, and still had a couple of hours to kill. One word jumped to the front of my mind, and that word was NAP.
There are few things in the world as pleasant as a guilt free afternoon nap on a dreary, cloudy day. So, for two hours while the wind blew and the rain fell, I slept. Yes, I could have done something more productive, but you know what? I didn’t want to . I just wanted to sleep, and by gods, I did it well. Hmm…..I wonder if I could get a Laurel in sleeping? Sleeping well is, afterall, an art. An art I have mastered, if I might be aloud to brag a little.
So, after a pleasant nap, I attended the Baronial Business Meeting. I love the SCA, I really do. I love the courtesy, the valuing of honor and chivalry, and basically everything associated with the Society. With that said, I also have to say that I honestly believe that attending business meetings to be part of the price one has to pay in order to get all the good things of the Society. I don’t know what business meetings are like for other groups in the Kingdom but our local business meetings are a challenge. I think that we are not actually members of the SCA during business meetings but actually members of the DHFA (That would be the Dead Horse Floggers Association). There are several things that I would truly, truly love to change about our business meetings, and if I am ever conned into being a group seneschal, I will make an effort to change them. Of course, by the time that happens there will probably be some newer member that has not been in the Society as long as I have that doesn’t like the way I run things. That’s the problem with plotting a revolution; By the time you have succeeded, there’s always some one plotting to take over again.
Despite the annoyances, the meeting actually did get a lot accomplished. There’s the SCA BOD meeting that’s going to take place in Memphis this weekend and we discussed plans for that. I won’t be able to attend the Friday session, but I will help with the preparations for the Saturday revel. Then there’s the plans for Samhain. That is shaping up to be a fun event, and I urge all of you that read this to come to it. The rumor is the Baron of Three Rivers is assembling a huge host to lay waste to Grey Niche and His Excellency Baron Dulinn needs the help of as many people as he can find to repel the invaders. If your interested, you can find the event website, here.
There are other things I could write about, but it’s late, and I just don’t have the energy to find the words for it tonight.

Cormac

Everything is a test…

“I was waitin’ on the pad, all systems were go
The man up in the tower was enjoyin’ the show
Then I got this feelin’ that I never had before
Hey, let me out of here, what am I here for?
Why me, why me?”

Why me, indeed. A very good question.

I just finished reading Terry Pratchett’s latest book, Wintersmith, and one of the the recurring themes in the book is that “Everything is a test”. Everything that happens to a person is a test; a test of that person’s character, dedication, sense of justice and ethics, etc. etc. I don’t know if everything is a test, but I can honestly tell you that today tested me in couple  of ways. Let me tell you aboutt them:

1. Surviving the morning without coffee test: I love coffee. I mean, I seriously love coffee. I love all kinds of coffee. I need coffee; particularly on the mornings when I have to work the morning shift at work. I truly can’t function on such mornings until my second cup of coffee. Straight, black, hot coffee is what I need. Sure, the creamers, or sweeteners or other coffee additives are nice when they are available, but they are not necessary. Now, because of a series of events that I must acccept full responsibility for I was not able to get my first cup of coffee before leaving the house this morning. In other words, I slept late, and was in a hurry to be at work on time. This was not much of a concern because we have a coffee pot in the office and we all donate to the fund to make sure that there will be coffee, sugar, etc. etc. available at the office. In fact, the last round of such donations occured on Friday, and the lady that normally stocks the coffee supplies was going to go to the store this weekend. She did, in fact, go to the store. She just didn’t come to work today. She stayed home just because of a massive sinus infection. So, there was no coffee in the office today, there was nothing to make coffee with, and just to make it a perfect trifecta, the coin operated coffee machine in the downstairs break room was also malfunctioning.
Since it would have been unprofessional in the extreme to do this at work please allow me to scream a little: WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN THERE’S NO COFFEE!!!! HOW IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT’S HOLY DO YOU EXPECT ME TO FUNCTION WITHOUT COFFEE??? ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR PEA-BRAINED MIND?
Thank you, I feel better now. Now, to be clear, I don’t fault Cindee at all for staying home when she was ill. I’ve had my share of sinus infections and they are no fun for anybody. However, would it have killed her to have sent the coffee to the office with somebody? Doesn’t she know that people ne their morning fix? Oh, sure, I was able to get the needed caffeine from Diet Coke, but it was a poor, poor substitute, and most definitely, not a good way to start the day. I survived, but it was a close thing for a couple of hours.

2. The Driving In Memphis Test:  Many years ago I lived in Little Rock for a time. I quickly became convinced that Little Rock had the worst drivers in the universe. I then moved to Alabama and realized I was wrong. `Bama drivers are much worse (it seems the Little Rock drivers are actually pretty good drivers, they just have to deal with the most screwed up system of intersections and frontage roads in the South East). In addition, drivers in Alabama have to deal with some truly horrendously maintained roads. Oh, and if you are unlucky enough to be driving on I20 between Birmingham and Atlanta on a weekend when there is a race at the Taladega track you will get the feeling that everyone else on the road thinks they are Dale Earnhardt reincarnated. Not fun, I promise you.  From Alabama I moved to Nashville, and as much as it surprises me, the Nashville drivers were actually pretty good. That feeling may be caused by the fact that I had an extremely short drive to work and didn’t really have to get on the interestate or other extremely busy, high traffic roads very often. After three years in Nashville, I moved to Memphis.
Now, I freely admit I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, or any other expert, but I truly believe that the majority of Memphis drivers are certifiably insane. People drive angry in this city for some reason. The use of turn signals is considered to be giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Thank the Gods I don’t have to actually have to drive downtown on a regular basis; driving daily on I40 and the I240 loop is bad enough. When you add in windy and rainey weather like we had today, it just gets worse. Much worse. Folks, it rains in Memphis, particularly in the Fall. You’ve seen this before. There is NO need to freak out.

There are other tests I could write about, but since I’m not sure I actually “passed” those tests I think I’ll just stop here.

Cormac

Opening Shop

“Rise again, rise again – though your heart it be broken
And life about to end
No matter what you’ve lost, be it a home, a love, a friend.
Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.”

Friday night I was searching for inspiration; trying to find something to blog about. The phrase, “drawing a blank” does not come close to conveying the rather spectacular lack of success I was having. To be quite honest, I was actually trying to avoid writing about something that had been on my mind because I hadn’t yet come up with any answers for the questions that were bothering me. In my search for inspiration I actually went back to my very first Live Journal post, and read them all again. My first LiveJournal entry was made on January 6, 2003. I found it quite interesting to read over those posts and see how much my life has changed. How my perceptions on so many things have changed: perceptions about the work place (I’ve changed jobs since that first post was made), perceptions about relationships, about the SCA (when that first post was made I’d been in the SCA for less than 8 months and had only been to three events; in other words, I didn’t know Jack).
One thing that became apparent as I was reading my journal is that I was really, really sick of the LiveJournal format. It was probably the first popular blogging site, and of course, it was free, but it does kind of look tacky. Thanks to period of introspection yesterday, I was ready to write what turned out to be the longest blog post I’d made in some time last night. By the time I was done with that post, I realized I was done with LiveJournal as well. I was going to find something else.
So, this afternoon I spent some time looking around for other blogging services that I could use. I do maintain a MySpace page, but I don’t really do much with it, and that site was quickly eliminated. I looked at the blogs I read frequently (daily) and checked out the services and desiced on this one at World Press. After checking it out, etc. etc., Cormac’s Corner was born. I’ll not be posting at Live Journal again. I will, however still read the same bloggers there that I always do, but from this point all my blogging will take place here.
My goal for Cormac’s Corner is mostly to increase self discipline, which is kind of a never ending project for me. I intend to make a minimum of three posts a week, each post being a minimum of 500 words. The topics will be highly focused on “whatever I feel like writing about”. I’m guessing a lot of it will be about various SCA subjects, but who knows what else will come out ? I sure don’t, but that at least makes it interesting.