October 8, 2010: Cormac’s SCA Origin

According to my new blogging schedule, Friday is the day I blog about the SCA. Last Friday I talked about Coronation. This week I think I’m going to describe how I came to join the SCA. It’s a strange story, but some people might find it entertaining. So, here goes…

I am not exactly sure when I first heard of the SCA. In my mind I knew of the organization some time before I started college. I vaguely remember reading about the Society many many years ago; but it was a story about a group far away from where I was. I thought it was kind of an interesting idea, I mean I love studying history, but like I said, it was far, far away.

I do know that while I was in college I saw some folks in “funny” clothes, and even funnier armor beating each other with what I thought were baseball bats on MSU’s Drill Field. I was intrigued, but no one I knew was involved, and at the time most of my time was spent finding ways to avoid my classes and get as drunk as possible. Amazing how many ways you can find to do that if you are properly motivated, and I was.

Now, let’s skip forward from 1990 to 2002. I had recently moved to Memphis, and my only hobby, my only social interaction other than work, was playing an 0n-line game called Everquest. In the game I had met, and started spending far, far to much time socializing with a lady from Madison Wisconsin. I’ll skip the gory details, nobody wants to hear them, and I certainly don’t want to remember them, but eventually that Lady decided to move to Memphis, and we were going to be together always. Yeah, right.

Now, I mention She Who Must Not Be Named, because over the course of our many months of conversation, and face to face time (Believe me, there was not nearly enough of that. Not nearly enough.), she had mentioned that she had been member of the SCA for years up in Wisconsin. We thought that might be a cool thing to do when she moved. It would be a way for us to spend time together, and to meet some other people to socialize with.

Now, as our plans evolved that Spring, it was eventually decided she would move the last week of April. She would, in fact, arrive in Memphis the last Thursday in April. I had done some research, and found out that the local SCA group, The Barony of Grey Niche, was holding their spring event, Beltaine, that very weekend. We decided to attend. She made me a very basic tunic, and brought it with her when she headed south.

Eight years later, I still remember that day perfectly. Perfectly. We arrived at the Piersol group camp some time between 9:30 and 10:00 AM that morning. It was  a gorgeous spring day, not to cool, and not to warm. A pleasant breeze was blowing. We trolled in, and although I didn’t know it at the time, the ladies that trolled us in, THL Caitriona Campbell, and THL Luca, would, in time, become two of my closest friends. After we trolled in, we left the Museum Shelter, and headed down toward the main field.

I saw pavilions set up around the fighting field. I saw beautiful, multicolored flags, and pennons,with people’s heraldry. I saw a lot of gorgeous women (hey, I’m a guy,I notice these things),  and I saw guys that positively made me look small, in armor, and being perfectly accepted.

I guess I should point out that prior to becoming a member of the SCA I was used to being the largest person in any group of people I was likely to be a part of. I’ve been overweight all of my life, and in the past I’ve had … self esteem issues because of that. Those issues are mostly gone now, and what few remain are so …trivial, because of my involvement in the SCA. Hell, that day I was far from the largest person there. I may have been in the top five, but only barely. What is important, though, was that these large guys were not ostracized, or sidelined. They were accepted, welcomed. No one paid any attention to their size at all. This was the first time I had ever been in a group like that. It made an impression, let me tell you.

SWMNBN wanted to attend a coif making class, so after looking around the field for a while, and looking around the hall for a while, we headed down to Cabin Builiding B, where the class was being held. I don’t sew, and have no interest in learning to sew, so while she was in the class, which was taught by Vickie and Doc, I just kind of hung out on the porch, and talked to people. Again, I had never, ever been to any kind of event where I was among so many friendly, open people. I met Raven , and a few others.

After her class we went back up to the field to watch the fighting. The Silver Torc Tournament was over by that time, but easily a dozen people, both men and women, were taking part in pickup fights. I had no real desire to fight myself but I was thrilled to be watching those that were fighting. I was amazed that it was up to the honor of each combatant to determine what was a good blow. No judges. No referees. What a concept.

The day passed all to quickly. Eventually it was time to go to take a seat for Court. As we sat in the hall, I asked SWMNBN what the significance of the of the various banners were. That is when Lady Blue, and Lord Brendan, turned around, introduced themselves, and started explaining which banner was associated with what household, or peer. I began asking a ton of questions, which they answered. They made an effort to explain what each of the awards were for as they were presented in court. Oh, and let me tell you, I just thought I was impressed with the organization prior to court, but during and after court, I knew I was impressed. Something about seeing the joy on people’s faces when they received an award, but more importantly seeing the joy on the member of the audience when people received awards just really, really impressed me.

After Court, Blue and …his SCA name is Brendan, but he introduced himself as Neal, and that is still how I think of him, invited us to sit feast with them. During feast they told stories about their involvement, the local group, local notables, and just generally did their very best to make us feel welcome. The feast itself, was…well it full of what I am convinced was very good food, but just not the kind of food I really liked. Apparently the dishes were not to Blue’s taste either cause as the last remove  was cleared away, she and Neal invited us to the Shadow Legion Camp for what she called “Legion Feast at it’s Finest”. That is how I was introduced to Kane, Illissa, and the Shadow Legion.  Damn glad I was.

We stayed at the Legion camp until very late that evening, but eventually it was time to leave. As we drove home that night, SWMNBN asked me, “what did you think of it all?” My answer was simple; I loved it. I wanted to know more. I wanted to be part of it all. I remember telling her, “I want to be part of running something like what we saw today. I want to be part of making it possible for people to have as much fun as I had today”.

By November of that year, SWMNBN was gone. Our relationship was over, and a lot of really bad stuff had happened. But of all the things she did, all the hurtful things she did, she did introduce me to the SCA. A lot has changed; I know a lot more about the organization, and I’ve seen some of the bad things as well as all of the good things. I’ve met, literally, hundreds of people; most of them good, some very bad, but even the bad ones are (usually) better than the people I meet in the regular world. Yeah, a lot of things have changed, but I”m still here. I still want to be part of the SCA, I still want to be part of running something that enables people to have as much fun as I had that day.  I pray to all gods, great and small, that I always feel that.

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Friday October 1, 2010: Thoughts on Coronation

My plan for this weekend was to attend Coronation. We all know how that plan worked out, but I did spend a lot of time today thinking about the event. Specifically, I was thinking about what makes Coronation such a pleasant event to attend. It is one of the kingdom level events, and that always draws a larger than normal turnout. This means, of course, that when you are at Coronation you get a chance to visit with, talk to, and generally hangout with a larger number of people than you would get to do at a local group event.
All events, once they actually start, follow a set pattern, or rhythm, and Kingdom Events are no different. Tonight people will be arriving on site until quite late, the last will probably come through troll sometime between 1:00 and 2:30 AM. Tomorrow will start with the kitchen crew making breakfast for the attendees, and at some point there will be, probably, a Royal Breakfast. The real activities will start some time around 10:00 with the first of the morning Courts.
Coronation is all about the old, or current, King and Queen stepping down, and the  Prince and Princess stepping up as King and Queen. The ending of  a reign is not a sad thing, but it is an ending. The current Royals will have a final chance to present awards, and quite a lot of those will be given to the royals entourage, or to people that have helped them significantly during their reign. Then, in Gleann Abhann anyway, the King “dies”. Sometimes the Queen as well. Sometimes from poison, sometimes fro foreign assassins, and in the case of Havord’s second or third reign, by members of their own entourage. It’s a great bit of schtick, but it does have a very real symbolic meaning. The Kingdom is without a king. The former Queen, leaves her crown on her throne, and departs along with her entourage, taking with them the former king’s body (usually). At this point the knights of the kingdom come forth to guard the thrones, and the crowns, until the new king is crowned. The knights are the guardians of the kingdom in the absence of a king. The first of the morning Courts is now over.
After a short break, usually just long enough for the Prince and Princess to get changed into their finery and assemble their entourage,  the second morning court will begin. The Prince will approach, occasionally being challenged to their right to the crown by members of the Peerages, or the Kingdom Seneschal.  After asserting his right to the crown, he will crown himself. Next his consort will approach, and she will be crowned as Queen, by the King. Next their entourage will approach, and take their places, and the real work of the second court will begin. That work can best be described as “oath taking”.
The Oath of Fealty is another very important and symbolic part of the SCA, and I’ll go into more detail about it in another post, For now it is enough to say that the oath will be repeated several times tomorrow morning. First the Peerages. Some Kings call each Order separately, some choose to call all three Orders at the same time. Next to take the oath will be the Kingdom Officers, followed by the Landed Barons. Finally, the rest of the people will come forth, take a knee, and take the Oath. Over the years I have taken the Oath of Fealty as a member of an entourage, as a kingdom officer, and as a member of the general population, and in the near future I’ll take it again. Each and every time the experience has been a moving one.
Once the Oath Taking is done, the court will proceed with a few awards, but not a lot of business. Most of the business of the new King and Queen will take place at the afternoon or evening Court.
Once the second Court has concluded, the rest of the day will be taken up with a couple of different tournaments; usually for to chose the King’s Champion, and Queen’s Champion. Of course there is often a number of meetings of various Orders, Peerage Circles, and other groups. But those will be the subject of a different post.

September 29, 2010: A New Plan

Just one more day in this month, and much to my surprise I have to say it has been a pretty good month. I realize in looking back over the goals I set for the year in January that I’ve not gotten anywhere near  attaining those goals. That is Ok, a plan never turns out the way you think it will, and a big part of life is accepting that. So, no, I’m not where I thought I would be, but I have made a great deal of progress, and I am really quite pleased by that.

I have been particularly pleased with the September Face Book theme; posting 3 things a day that make me happy. I won’t claim it was always easy, but so far I have managed to post something every day, and I honestly think it doing so has helped change my outlook. When you are looking for reasons to be happy, they are remarkably easy to find. I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to decide on a theme for October, and I think I’ve decided to pursue a variation of something April suggested: Roctober. Each day I’m going to post a song, and probably part of the lyrics to that song, that inspires me. Or maybe just a song I really like.

I’ve also been trying to decide on a theme for this blog, and I’ve finally decided on a three part theme:

1. Autobiography: One post each week will continue the autobiography I started earlier this week. The project interests me mainly because of all things I realize I don’t know about my family. Don’t get me wrong, I do know a lot, but as I’ve started to write what I know I come to realize what I don’t know. This will give me an excuse to ask some family members some questions.

2. Library: One post each week will be about books; books that I have found to be inspiring, or thought provoking, and in some cases books that have just made me angry. Gods know I’ll never run out of things to write about, as I’ve been in love with books of all kinds since Mrs. Kokendorfer taught me to read in the first grade.

3. SCA: Over the last 8 years the SCA has been a VERY important part of my life. Hell, it’s been my main source of social interaction. I for the last six years I have been pursuing a definite goal, and at this point I am not sure where I stand in pursuit of that goal. I do love the SCA, but sometimes I really, REALLY wonder why. So, I’m going to explore that. Things I love about the SCA an what it represents, and what I don’t like. I’m NOT going to use this as a platform to rant and rave, but I am going to use it as a way to express my thoughts, feelings, and goals. My hope is that doing so will help me gain some clarity.

So, that is the plan for Cormac’s Corner going forward.

The Joy of Lists

I would really like to write a long, coherent post about one of the things that are currently occupying my attention, but that is not going to happen. There are simply to many things going on in what passes for my mind. If the sheer number were not enough, I have conflicting thoughts about several of those items. So, instead of the long, coherent post I would really like to post, I’m just going to make a rambling, disjointed list of thoughts, and feelings.

  • The best coffee that a person can buy is not found at Starbucks or other high priced coffee bars, it is found at Dunkin Donuts (I have no conflicting thoughts about this).
  • I truly love the SCA and just about everything it stands for.
  • Sometimes I am completely disgusted by the same organization.
  • Sparkly vampires are not, in fact, vampires.
  • Edmund Burke wrote, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”. I think that would be more effective if re-written as, “All that is necessary for stupidity to triumph is for smart people to do nothing.”
  • We have had a rather major shake up in the structure of my work place. I have a new boss, and she is not the same as the old boss. This is both good, and bad. Bad, because of feelings of loyalty to my old boss; good because of some remarkably good changes in my work environment and new opportunities for me.
  • I can’t believe that it is less than ten days to Gulf Wars. That must be a mistake I simply have to much to do before the War.
  • I can’t believe that it a whole ten days to Gulf Wars. I desperately need a week with 3000 or so of my closest friends.
  • I quit playing World Of Warcraft a couple of months ago and have spent most of the time I used to spend playing making jewelry. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed making jewelry, but I do miss the social aspect of playing a massively multiplayer on-line game. Someone should create a game where I could both make jewelry that exists in the real world and where I could occasionally blow the living hell out of something just for the fun of it.
  • The Winter Olympics were cool, but curling is not really a sport.
  • I’m bloody sick of winter. Snow sucks. Bring on the heat.
  • Recent discussion on the Gleann Abhann list about raising period poultry has reawakened my interest in keeping homing pigeons.
  • I REALLY need an operating vehicle. It doesn’t have to look good, just has to run reliably.
  • I REALLY don’t want to have a monthly car payment again.
  • Snow sucks.
  • The music of Bob Seeger can soothe a troubled mind.
  • Caprica is a much better show than I thought it would be.
  • People, even people you know well can surprise you, and that is a good thing.
  • People, even people you know well, can surprise you, and that is, sometimes, a bad thing.

In the words of Porky Pig, that’s all folks.

Let’s talk about Candlemas….

Let’s talk about Candlemas. I don’t have anything particularly interesting to say on the subject of Valentine’s Day, the Winter Olympics, and I don’t have the vocabulary to talk about what a magical feeling it was to watch the Saints win the Superbowl last week, so I think Candlemas is the subject for the day.

Of the four events hosted by Grey Niche each year, Candlemas is the one dedicated to Arts and Sciences. The event is a single day event that features a lot of classes and a regional A&S Faire. This year, in addition to those activities there was also an Apprentice Challenge competition. There is usually no scheduled fighting activities, though there are often classes relating to some aspect of SCA fighting. The event is always held the second weekend in February.

This year’s Candlemas was autocratted by Mistress Vashti and Mistress Arielle, with the feast being handled by THL Zhara. Due to the fact that the entire Kingdom of Gleann Abhann has had an unusual spate of bad weather for the last three weeks, and due to the fact that more snow storms had been forecast for the weekend, we had a fairly large turnout for the event. Right at 10o people past through the Troll station.

The day started when we arrived at the Singleton Community Center about 7:45 AM. M. Vashti showed up about ten minutes later, and we were able to access the hall and class room areas. While Turlaugh set up the Troll station, I helped get tables set up for the A&S competitions, and get the class rooms set up. Once that was done, the events of the day moved quickly.

My class, the Theory and Importance of Site Tokens was at 9:00 AM, and I had a whopping one person show up to take the class. That was actually a good thing since I had never taught the class before. It was a nice, relaxed atmosphere to practice the presentation for the first time. I thought it went well, and afterward Karl, the one student, said I made effective use of my visual aides.  Positive feed back is always a good thing.

I spent the rest of the morning help work troll and doing what I do best, which is talking to people. I saw a lot of people that I hadn’t seen in months. That, for me, is always the magic of an SCA event; talking to people and seeing friends. I’d be very hard put to tell you what I talked about with all those folks, but I can tell you immediately, that I had a good time and that I enjoyed the conversations immensely.

Court was held right before feast, and, as usual with a Grey Niche single day event, the feast was held at lunch time. There were three notable things that occurred at court: Lady Alysia was awarded the Valiant Heart, Lady Johna was admitted to the Order of Denial, and (this should not have been a surprise, but it was) Baron Dagan and Baroness Mahsheed announced that they were stepping down at Beltaine. I hate that, I truly do. Dagan and Mahsheed have been truly wonderful in the role of Baron and Baroness of this group.

The feast was excellent, and the entertainment during feast was truly memorable. His excellency Baron Otto entertained the audience by playing his flute. Duke Sir John the Bearkiller and his “Crunk Boy Chorus” performed the filk “As Period As I Wanna Be”, and His Excellency Dulinn performed “Agincourt”, a truly hilarious filk to the tune of The Battle of New Orleans.

After the feast the classes continued until 4:0o PM. The last activity of the day was announcing the winners of the various competitions. The Apprentice Challenge and the Regional A&S Competition Champion were won by Her Excellency Anastacia (I probably mis-spelled that) from Grey Niche, and the Baron and Baroness Choice was awarded to Katrinka Whitehair from the Blue Flats.

And just like that, there was nothing left but the clean up, and a return to this modern world. Still, for roughly nine hours I was in a better world, with good friends, and I was having a great time. One can’t ask for more than that on a cold Saturday in February.

Wednesday Reflections

I can’t believe it’s Wednesday already. I also can’t believe that I don’t really have anything to write about tonight. I guess I’ll just have to find something……

…Meditates for five minutes….

Ok, Wednesday is the day I try and post a reivew of some kind. I’ve not seen any movies recently, and I posted about couple of television shows on Sunday. I’ve not been reading anything particularly interesting lately, so the review theme is going to get dropped, and we’ll just skip ahead to the normal theme for Friday; the SCA.

Today has been a bit of a bummer when it comes to my SCA plans. A month ago I found an absolutely beautiful site for a weekend event in north Missippi: Tombigbee State park, in Tupelo.

What makes it a perfect site? Let’s see:
1. 160 beds in climate controlled cabins
2. Four “private” cabin rooms that would be perfect for royals, or event staff.
3. Four huge rooms with fire places that would be perfect for classrooms or meeting rooms.
4. More than adequate shower and bathroom facilities
5. Huge hall that could easily seat 200 for feast (along with supplied tables and chairs)
6. Really cool amphitheater down by the lake with a small stage
7. A huge permanent outdoor covered pavilion with a concrete floor.
8. Huge flat field large enough that it could be split in two sections: one for camping and one for a fighting/list field.

and most important….

9. A park staff that is looking to drum up business, and seems to be willing to negotioate price and work with the SCA.

Perfect, right? Easily day trippable from Memphis, Jackson, Starkville, and (admittedly a bit of a stretch) from Little Rock.

As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, my favorite SCA activity is running events. The last event I had the pleasure of autocratting was Candlemass, and since then I’ve not had an active bid working on any event. I’m going through withdrawl. I saw this site, and my instant thought was, “Spring Crown List”.

It took a couple of weeks, but I found a feastcrat, and had  put together most of the event staff. The last thing I needed to do was call the site and confirm that it would be available the weekend of Crown List. That’s were the problem came in. “Already booked, would any other weekend work?”, was all the Ranger said this afternoon when I called.

Well, that sucks. Got the staff, just need a site. The search continues. I’ve got to get a bid on an event soon or I’ll begin to get bored. I tend to do really stupid things when I get bored – but that’s a post for a different time.

Oh well, the search goes on. I’ll call the St. Columba confrence center tomorrow; it’s a nice site; not as nice as Tombigbee, but definitely usable. I’m also going to check out Singleton Community Center tomorrow; it has possibilities as a site for single day events. I’ll check it out, see if we can afford it, and report back to the group. Hell, finding new sites is almost, almost as much fun as running the events themelves.

Cormac

Busy Times Are Coming

Ah, Friday. Another work week is over, and I have survived. Thank all gods for small favors. With the way the economy is tanking, and with the changes in the Guaranteed Student Loan industry, the last few months have been particularly unpleasant in my office. The forcast for the coming months is for more of the same. Wonderful. 

But, I’m not at work now, and I won’t be back at work until Monday, so I don’t really feel like thinking about my job. That leaves a small problem; I’m not sure what I do want to think about tonight. As always there are several subjects on my mind: politics (modern world and SCA politics), personal history, plans and projects I’m working on, and the things I want to change in my life, my home, my barony….. I’ve got a lot on my mind. 

I normally write about SCA topics on Friday, so I guess that will be the subject for the evening. Fall is a very busy time in the Kingdom of Gleann Abhann; lots of important events between now and the end of the year; events I have to attend due to either my commitments as a kingdom officer, my commitments as a member  and officer of my barony, and my commitments as a friend to the event staff. 

Later this month I’ll be attending Kingdom A&S down at the Utica MS site (quite possibly the best SCA site I’ve ever seen; pity the  site management jacked the prices so high we won’t be able to use it in the future). This KA&S is being hosted by the Shire of Rookshaven, and the autocrat is a very good friend of mine, Ld Gordun. His wife, Ceridwen, is the feastocrat, and from what I’ve been told is planning a magnificent feast. Both Gordun and Ceridwen are not only good friends, they are also members of my household; House of 3 Dragons. No way in Hell I’m going to miss that event. I’ll be there to help work troll Friday night, and to help Gordo with anything he needs. 

In October I have to travel to the wilds of Lousianna for Coronation. That trip is necessary because of my commitements as a friend and by my commitments as the Kingdom Chamberlaine. We’ll have to do the changeover of kingdom property once the current Highnesses become Majesties. Coronations are always fun; busy, but fun. That particular trip will be particularly fun because I’ll be traveling with a crew of people that I don’t usually travel with. I enjoy long road trips; they are a great opportunity to talk, and to get to know people. Many a long, thought provoking, occasionaly strange, and often hilarious conversations are had by people traveling together.

I’ll have to miss Diamond Wars again this year, and that really annoys me. Diamonds was the first non-Grey Niche event I ever attended, and it has a special place in my heart. Unfortunately, due to mundane concerns I’ve not been able to attend since it was moved to the new site. I will get up there one day, but it won’t be this year. I will be attending Samhain at the end of October. I’m handling the reservations for Dame Brenna, and I never, ever, miss a Grey Niche event. I will be interested in seeing how the new site works out. 

November brings both Fall Crown list, in Arkansas, an Quest for the Holy Pail, another Rookshaven event. I’ll be going to both of those. The SCA year will end with Christmas Revel in December, and I will not miss that event again. I’ve not been able to attend the last two years, but I don’t intend to ever miss another one. 

Yeah, the rest of the year is going to be busy; just the way I like it. 

 

C,