Apparently my most recent post on the SCA proved to be popular — a couple of prominent SCAdians cross-posted my link to their FaceBook pages and the next thing I know the post got more than 250 views in under 48 hours. Which is really cool, when you think about it.
So what shall I post about next? Perhaps I should boost my bandwidth by making grandiose and ad auctoritatem statements, such as “14th Century re-enactors are the only ones doing it right” or “combat archery ruins the game” or “the BoD is evil!!!” You know… stuff I don’t actually believe but which is guaranteed to stir up drama and therefore make me more “popular”, provided that I equate “popularity” with “being the centre of a completely unnecessary shitstorm.”
Pfffft. Whatever. I’m just going to keep writing how I’ve been writing and if people like it, great. If they don’t like it… well, fine. It’s a free country (or countries, plural, since about a third of the aforementioned hits came from US domain addresses.) As the about section on this blog states, I’m primarily writing this for my own amusement and edification. Creating more drama (even for the sake of blog traffic) is pretty juvenile… and rather defeats the purpose of writing for fun. Humans are involved, ergo drama will happen; there’s no point in courting it.
And in case people thought I was being anything but facetious above: I don’t believe that one subculture or field of interest in the SCA is “doing it right” compared to anybody else. There’s a large number of people (including myself) who are interested in highly-accurate portrayals of personas from the Hundred Years’ War: Great! There’s a lot of people doing Norse: Great! There are SCAdians who do Saracen, or Mongol, or even African: Fantastic! Here in Ealdormere there’s a large group of guys doing Edo-period Japanese: Love it. I genuinely get a kick out of all of it: “Doing it right” is people enjoying their historical thing as well as they can. (Quick aside: I’ve always wondered why I’ve never seen a persona portraying medieval India, but there’s bound to be somebody out out there doing it.)
And like combat archery, too… well, I suppose like it as much as a large, prettily-armoured heavy fighter can: it really gives you an appreciation for how archery would have effected the medieval battlefield… and bear in mind I’m saying that as a fighter who’s very first charge at Pennsic was cut short when I stopped a ballista bolt with my face. I’ve done castle battles, bridge battles and field battles with and without combat archery and they end up being very different experiences when you have to keep hunkered-down under a shield for fear of stopping an arrow. Historically, the knights and nobles of the middle ages were not fond of the fact that low-born archers and crossbowmen were able to strike down their social betters: having stopped a couple of arrows in SCA combat I can sympathize with the attitude… but not with people being rude about it. There’s plenty of tournaments and fights where archers don’t come into play during the round of the SCA year — why bitch and complain when some (or all) of the scenarios at a war event put combat archery into play? Courtesy and chivalry, fellas; let the archers have their fun, too. And don’t forget to duck.
The Board of Directors? Well… I have to admit I’m disappointed with them for missing an opportunity with their decision regarding same-gender consorts. I genuinely think they should have simply changed the language of Corpora to remove any gender- or orientation-bias instead of the awkwardly-phrased compromise that got put into place, and even half a year later I’m still a bit pissed about it. But I understand why they did what they did, even if I’m critical of the language they used to do it: Running an organization like the SCA, made up of tens of thousands of rugged individualists of all stripes has to make “professional tiger herder” seem like a restful retirement option. The BoD picked the path they thought would piss off the least number of people while still being as fair as possible. It’s no easy task, and I can sympathize with their dilemma: No matter what they do, someone is going to be loudly angry about it. I try and limit my criticism based on two important facts: First, they’re just regular people volunteering to do a difficult, time-consuming and utterly necessary job; and second, you couldn’t get me to take their place for all the pasta in Italy. (This low-carb diet has changed some of my idioms.)
A lot of people get really worked up about SCA stuff. I suppose I do too, sometimes, but I always try and remember that we’re playing a game: if you’re not having fun, then what’s the point in playing? It can seem like it’s all drama, all the time when I overhear conversations about what shocking thing happened at an event; or rumours of strife in a Peerage or Privy Council meeting; or even just the general gossip that goes around a small community like the SCA (and for all that we’re tens of thousands of people strong, the SCA is a very small community in a lot of ways.) But then I go out to an event and have a good afternoon fighting, or sit around a campfire at a bardic circle, or even just have a restful afternoon in the shop hammering on stubborn bits of metal (and oh Gods, how I hate cold-riveting brass) and it all just seems to come together.
I’ve had a couple of those days recently, actually. Wednesday night practice may have left me with a spectacularly bruised right nipple, but I also got to introduce a new fighter to a twenty-year veteran of SCA combat who cheerfully gave up some of his time to teach the new guy a bunch of useful stuff; at the same practice I got to hand out flyers to (and answer the questions of) a bunch of passers-by who saw us in the park and admired our armour; I spent my half-day off yesterday rebuilding my shield-grip and putting together a new bastard sword… and had another new person come by the shop to help so I did some teaching about that, too; after I’m done with this post, I have to review a video of a song that a third one of our new folk plans to offer at the Trillium War bardic (not to judge, to learn the lyrics so I can sing along.)
We’re awash in newer folks in our Canton at the moment, thanks to a couple of years of determined effort at recruiting by a lot of people. I recently did the math and half the active population our canton has been in the Society for less than five years. That’s really triggered a surge in talent and enthusiasm around here. Whenever I get bummed out by the politics, the drama, or even the drudgery of the paperwork I just have to look at the embroidery, calligraphy, painting, armoring, fighting, brewing, arrow-fletching, leathercrafting, metalworking, etc., etc. that’s happening around here, all being done by people who a few years ago would never have dreamed they’d be able to do that sort of thing, and it cheers me up immensely.