Weather Happens

Much as I would like to be working on garb right now, it’s too darn hot to be running a sewing machine.  I expect it’ll be cooler shortly, and then I might be willing to bust out the Singer, but for now I have pieces cut out and I’m going to call that a win.


One always needs more garb.  Fortunately I discovered the stola last year, and as a result sewing for myself for Pennsic consists of making a tube with ribbons sewn into the shoulders¹.  But Liam wants a sorta-Chinese robe thing for cool nights, and there’s actually some tailoring involved–plus, pretty much no one makes Chinese-inspired patterns to fit a guy who’s 6’3″ with a 52-inch chest.  I have to do rather a lot of extrapolating from the pattern I do have.

That said, I’m looking forward to War this year more than I have in a while.  People to see, and all that.

1: I bought fibulae, but they have gone missing.  Having the ribbons sewn in is not terribly period, I admit, but it looks pretty good so I’m running with it.


Sunny Days and Sundays

I have no idea at it is about Sunday afternoons that tends to put me in a bad mood.  Usually it’s cranky; today it’s melancholy, and not the pleasant kind.

I really wish I could get back into the SCA, or perhaps it’s that I’m sad that the SCA was never what I wanted it to be.  Pennsic is coming up, which tends to make me maunder in this direction; it’s no surprise that today’s iteration of the Bad Mood points at it.  I’m just tired of facing, yet again, the fact that politics are inescapable.

Tacky, Tacky, Tacky

Turns out Liam is acquainted with the guy who wanders around War in a leather loincloth and wreath of leaves–this is not the same as Freaky Tattooed Guy, I might add, who is kinda scary on top of being tacky. I’m not particularly surprised that Liam knows Loincloth Guy; Liam knows everyone.

Anyway, there he was in his “Hi, I’m a Pagan” getup, pretending to be Cernunnos or some damn thing, and he decided to show us a piece of jewelry he’d bought. It was a silver casting of a Neolithic petroglyph showing two men apparantly engaged in intercourse. At least, that’s what it looked like–two stick-figure guys, both with erect phalli, one in back of the other with his phallus rather shorter where it disappears into (or possibly behind, but it’s easy to interpret it as into) the other man.

Now, I’ve got no problem with Loincloth Guy being gay. It affects my life only insofar as that’s one fewer man who’s going to be talking to my chest. But damn, boy, that’s so tacky I’m not sure I can deal with it. Putting aside for a moment the concept of “an attempt at pre-17th-century clothing”, which is seemingly foreign to him, has it occurred to him that, cave painting or not, wandering about in public with jewelry showing intercourse is likely to be frowned on in most venues? It’s like the little penis pendants that become erect when you pull on their chains: I can think of times when they’re appropriate, but “running the register in a retail establishment” (the Cooper’s store, if you’re interested) isn’t one of those times.

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Preregistration and gate fee: $135
Gas to drive to Cooper’s Lake: $50
Food for two weeks: $94

Two weeks with people for whom ‘chivalry’ is more than just a word: Priceless

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Oh,Be Serious

here’s an odd dichotomy between “taking things seriously” and “having fun” that I completely fail to understand. It’s like the one precludes the other, which seems to me to be entirely wrong.

For example, I’m pretty sure that most people take sex seriously. Does that mean they aren’t having a good time, aren’t enjoying themselves? Of course not. It doesn’t even mean that they are being serious–indeed, I have a hard time picturing someone being serious while engaged in an act as fundamentally silly-looking as sexual intercourse. I’m sure there were Victorians who managed it, and certain whackjobs who still do, but why expend that much effort? Take it seriously, sure; take the appropriate precautions, make sure you know what, or who, you’re getting into. But if it’s not a good time, you’ve missed the point. In the same vein, while sex should be a lot of fun, and can even be very funny, you should be sure that it’s something you’re doing for the right reasons–that is, you should take it seriously.

Similarly, consider a ballerina. She devotes huge amounts of time, effort, pain and attention to dancing, but if you ask her why she’s doing it she’ll tell you that she loves it, that it’s fun for her. She’ll tell you this even as her feet are bleeding.

Or the SCA. Those of us who don’t care for the more anachronistic of the Society’s practices–presenting the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch to the royals in court, wandering through an event in a Hello Kitty! patterned kosode, whatever–are often accused of being “too serious” and “spoiling all the fun”. We, meanwhile, are bewildered by this. Since when does taking something seriously keep people from having fun with it? Our problem is that the fun being generated comes from outside the context of the game, not that the game itself is being made fun; it’s like someone who loves model rockets bringing his pride and joy to a kite-flyer’s convention. While his rocket is fun, and some of the kite-flyers there might even belong to the model rocket club as well, the rocket is not the kind of fun the kite-flyers are there to have. He’d be better off developing a rocket-assisted kite.

Personally, I think that taking a thing seriously makes it easier to have fun with it. Somewhere in the back of your mind you’ve got to believe that Denetia Silverblade, paladin of Pelor, is real and important, because otherwise she’s just a bunch of numbers on paper. Nothing she does will make you laugh (or cry); nothing that happens to her will mean anything. And in that case, why not just play Parcheesi?

I’ll grant that there’s such a thing as taking it too seriously. People who believe every sexual encounter heralds Twoo Wuv (or communion with Deity, or whatever), ballerinas who ruin their health for their art, those famous, apocryphal idiots who berate newcomers for bad garb, kids who get despondent because their character was killed: these are people who are taking their respective games too seriously. They need to lighten the hell up; they have slipped from “taking it seriously” to “being serious”. But their opposites–the casual lecher, the girl who refuses to practice before her recital, the once-a-year-get-blasted-for-two-weeks SCAdians, the every-campaign-turns-into-farce gamers–aren’t any better.

I guess, at this late point, I should define what I mean by “taking it seriously”. It’s pretty simple: respect the rules of the game. If the rules of the game say that everyone must wear a blue hat, and you hate blue, you have two choices: respect the game and the other players by wearing a blue hat anyway, or don’t attend that game. A person who takes it seriously wouldn’t really consider showing up in a red hat, as that wouldn’t be within the rules. (I am deliberately excluding cases where your true purpose is to change the game, as that is a different kind of serious.) Basically, find out what kinds of fun your game is structured to facilitate, and have those kinds of fun. If there’s some other kind of fun you like better, go find the game that promotes it, rather than trying to shoehorn it into a game it doesn’t fit. Someone who takes chess seriously wouldn’t expect a chess game to provide the same kind of fun as listening to an opera, but that doesn’t make the chess game not fun; it makes it not an opera.

Pick your game. Take it seriously. Have fun with it.

I’ll Do It My Way

The following is going to sound elitist and judgemental, for the very good reason that it is elitist and judgemental.

Pennsic is not a pagan festival.

It’s not a frat party, either, nor a Gay Pride day, nor a science fiction convention, nor a leather group, nor even a Renaissance faire.

This being the case, there are a number of things that are inappropriate at Pennsic. They include, but are not limited to, the following: public drunkenness, day-glo orange clothing, ray guns, vampire teeth (if not in the context of a play or the like), headdresses with antlers on them (ditto), lightsabers, fairy wings, 18th century pirate or gypsy clothing, cellular phones (if you are not a doctor or someone else who needs to be on call at all times), pagers, instant-message gadgets, small kilts, Victorian corsets, S&M gear, and jack o’lanterns made from pumpkins.

The rules are that Pennsic is an event of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and that you’ve got to make an attempt at pre-17th-century clothing. If you don’t want to follow the rules, that’s fine; don’t come to Pennsic and you won’t have to.

Now, I am not saying that every single thing you posess must be handmade out of period materials, nor that people with glasses or wheelchairs should leave them in camp (though I should point out that I’m pretty damn nearsighted myself, and not being able to recognize a friend at a distance is just one of those things I live with every year). If something glaringly modern is necessary for your health, that’s peachy; if you really feel that wearing fabric that doesn’t breathe is the way to go in a Pennsylvania August, more power to you, though the chiurgeons probably don’t agree with you.

What I am saying is this: if you don’t like the rules, don’t play the game. There are other places where you can get roaring drunk with a crowd of buddies; there are other places where you can wear your Titania Queen of the Fairies outfit. Find them. Stop cluttering up my game with them, because in my game they don’t belong. Any why, you ask, should my game take precedence over yours? That’s easy: because my game is the one the description of the event says we’re there to play.

I suppose I’m just tired of people who treat wearing garb as equivalent to paying the gate fee: something you do to get in, because the inconvenience is worth it, rather than part of the fun.

I should like to point out that I have no problem with pagan festivals, frat parties, Gay Pride days, scifi cons, leather groups or Renfaires. But there are things that are perfectly fine in one context that are wrong in another, and assuming that Pennsic is just like a pagan festival because they both involve camping while wearing non-everyday clothes is going to lead you into a lot of problems–ask me sometime about Cat and Tiger, two of the less compatible campmates I’ve dealt with in my time.

So here’s the deal: a utility kilt and a tie-at-the-neck shirt is not an attempt at garb. Sorry. Neither is a baby-pink satin dress with built-in bodice, black lace trim, and handkerchief hem. Dressing like Captain Jack Bloody Sparrow may look cool, but it’s not medieval (nor particularly authentic to real pirates, though that’s beside the point), and neither are any of the various outfits worn by hobbits, Rohirrim, dwarves, elves, or Gondorians. A broomstick skirt and sports bra are also right out, aside from being immensely tacky. Do not wear your leather loincloth, no matter how ripped your abs. Do not wear your bellydancing outfit out of camp; I don’t know enough to know whether it’s period, but I do know you wouldn’t have been wearing it in the street, not with that much skin showing–unless you’re a whore, that is. Do not wear your Green Man hat, do not wear your pentacle or your triple-moon headband. Do not stop in the middle of the market to make a call. Do not make fun of people who don’t want to try your latest attempt at flavored alcohol poisoning. Do not lead your significant other around on a leash. Do not claim that I am spoiling your fun, as what you are calling “fun” is what I am calling “contrary to the charter of the event”.

(Digression: I was going to give the Tuchux a bye, because they aren’t playing the SCA’s game and have never claimed to, and besides they found the site, ‘way back in the mists of time. But then I thought about it, and it occurred to me that gratitude is great, and is probably a fine reason for them not to get an invitation to the world a few years ago when That Thing With Vlad happened, but there’s an old saying about when in Rome. The Chux can wear all the rabbit bikinis they like…in their own camp. Out in public they should dress like civilized people.)

Some people have said that the SCA’s greatest strength is its inclusiveness, and to an extent that’s true. What perturbs me is that “inclusive” seems to have been defined as “having no right to enforce or indeed posess any standards”, and that’s not OK. It’s time for some standards, and while I don’t imagine that I’m going to manage to change the world (or even the SCA), I’m going to say right now that I’m done looking the other way, making excuses, and tolerating the assholes who are spoiling my fun, thank you very much.

Does this mean I’m going to accost newbies on the street, telling them their garb sucks? Of course not. Unlike the many stories of the dreaded Garb Snark–an extremely rare if not actually mythical beast–I am not interested in going out of my way to be rude to people. Not to mention that most of the people in bad garb aren’t actually newbies; they just don’t care. I’m tired of it. New Age political correctness to the contrary, some things are better than others, and one of the things that is better is playing the game you volunteered to play. If you don’t want to play it, you don’t have to; but if you show up in armor, expect to get hit.