Artifacts of a Life, coming 9/21!

Artifacts of a Life, a new type of Arts & Sciences event that is jointly sponsored by The Barony Beyond the Mountain and the Barony of Carolingia, is coming on September 21!
The event centers around display of artifacts that could have been left behind by a plausible historic persona -- it does not have to be your SCA persona. We want to look at these as a whole for what they tell us about the material culture of that persona's time, place, and social context.
Because this is a new way of looking at Arts & Sciences, we're added a page on our website to help both judges and entrants prepare:
We are always open to more judges participating. You need not be previously experienced at formal judging to volunteer. We would like entrants and judges to be able to talk to each other face to face and the more judges that we have, the better quality of feedback the entrants will receive.
We strongly encourage letting us know in advance if you plan to enter just so we can make sure we have the right space and layout available for you. It is not a requirement, but it is helpful to planning.
And of course, we can always use more volunteers, especially for gate and registration of entrants.


I can blather more about it now that they are given. Countess Kiena made a request of us (me and Luke) for a metal rose for Avelina, on her becoming a Lady of the Rose, because she really liked the one that Luke had made for her at the last Metalsmiths Symposium. Luke didn't have the time, but I decided to take it on.

The most fun I've had in ages was a whole day spent in an enamel workshop with B'rose (Bronwen Rose of Greyling). Tristan, and Wyrm doing champleve, followed by a day spent in Haraldr Bassi's camp, doing cloisonne. I decided to make enameled brooches, more or less in a Saxon style. Saxon ladies wore flat brooches, and there are extant rosette shaped ones. I decided that this was SCA heraldry, though, and went for making the rose look like the standard heraldic Tudor type rose. I had to make 4 of them before I had a design I was happy with, and then I made 2 more. Luke generously contributed the Anglo-Saxon style beads that he had made, based on Buckland grave #59 so we could have a full Saxon style piece of jewelry. I only had a limited time in which to work, a brand new kiln that Luke and I had never used, and luckily a long weekend. I had a blast, and L and I had a blast working together (putting things in and taking them out of the kiln was definitely a 2 person job). I think the result didn't suck, although of course, there are many things I would like to improve...

and thanks to Catelina la Broderesse, here's the new Lady of the Rose wearing them.

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fire next door

the house next door caught fire tonight. I had gone to bed, was roused by smoke coming in the windows, whooshing flames, people screaming to get out of the house.  I live in a triple decker about 15 feet from my neighbors who were on fire.


All the people, including two babies, and all the cats and dogs are okay. 


I'm asthmatic, I inhaled smoke, I'm wired on albuterol.


some of the people have lost everything.  it's a rental property and they had no insurance. the neighborhood pulled together for them, they are all staying with friends and neighbors. two of them are downstairs.  we're going to have to organize some kind of benefit fundraiser.


thank god for the BFD. they came very fast and were very good.  5 more minutes and it would probably have burnt to the ground.

I think I'm going to double my insurance in the morning.

Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.


Carolingian Heirs

The twisty nature of family trees has led to me discovering that I have heirs to this great barony. The King in his wisdom has identified Baron Fergus MacRae and Baroness Imigla Venture (formerly known as Irayari Vairavi) as my successors. I congratulate them on their inheritance and ask the people of Carolingia to help them in shouldering the responsibilities that come with it.


last night we saw Sequentia in the persons of Benjamin Bagby and Norbert Rodenkirchen at Houghton chapel in Wellesley. There aren't the words to describe how transcendent an experience it was. It  makes me want to change my name to Raedwulf and start banging out a Coppergate helm.


The music /vocal /performance experience as reconstructed by Bagby is powerful in making me feel like you can almost reach through the fog of over a millennium and perceive this numinous world, where a swan's bone speaks with its voice, sweeping you up to the heavens.  The theme was apocalyptic fragments, mostly Germanic, Frankish, Anglo Saxon, some Latin, both Christian and pagan, a sequence attributed to Alcuin with an oracle from the Voluspa. I kept seeing images from those visigothic codices in my mind. Even the setting, with its Neo Gothic decor in the muted light could put you in mind of Charlemagne 's court, or Fulda, or Aquitaine. It is a time after the end of the world, full of magic and battle. Sulfur pouring from the sky on judgment day doesn't seem like such a stretch.


It's not easy to be an early medievalist. The material is sketchy and unclear. It is easy to fill the voids with the reflection of your own face, and historians and culture builders have been doing it for centuries.  When "Germany" is an idea that only gets invented in the 19th century, you have to build it from something. Nevertheless, I find myself crazily attracted to it, wanting to perceive into this world which is as far away as Mars, and yet made of the natural world I know. In the presence of masters like "Ben and Norbert " (as the student MC introduced them ) that seems possible.

Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.


As You Like It

Today we had tickets to see "As You LIke It" at the ART. It is basically a student production of their advanced theatre training institute, but since the ART always does something interesting with Shakespeare (like it or not) I figured it would at least be worth seeing even if they did something crazy and "advanced." There was an enticing article from the ART about the history of its performance and the gender-bending and transgressive potential. I would not have been surprised by drag queens in high heels, but about the last thing I expected was a straight up high school English class style rendition of the play. 

I realize that it is probably impossible to convey to a modern audience the sexual frisson that an Elizabethan audience would have experienced with the boy-actor-dressed-as-as-a-woman-dressed-as-a-boy scenario. There's a mindset that we can't recreate. Even so, there is a lot of interest to explore. How does one "man up" with "doublet and hose" and play that part? How does that war with innate nature? what is innate and what is a role? After all, this is the play with the immortal observation on "all the world a stage, and all the men and women merely players..."

For the last 200 years or so Rosalind has been played as a very feminine character in an unconvincing Peter Pan kind of outfit. She is girly in the extreme and no one for a second thinks she is anything else. Although the play in the end reinforces the social conception that woman can't really wear the pants and everyone ends up in their assigned box, I was expecting something that would challenge that traditional view. I sure didn't get it. The actress was perfectly fine, but she has clearly never been to a Drag Kings performance :). She has to get out more.

And then there was Jacques. He is the melancholy outsider in a fluffy romantic comedy -- the only one to walk away from the party at the end. He is a bit of an enigma and the director/actor need to have a vision about him that makes sense. I once saw him played as a syphilitic complete with artificial nose, which is an interesting read of the duke's words about him having been a libertine, with all the "embossed sores and headed evils That thou with license of free foot hast caught." Anyway, needless to say this straight up reading of the text did not explain him. The character could not work up a good morose wallow, let alone full throated Elizabethan melancholy (which was an art form).

And then there is the whole Elizabethan paradigm of the pastoral... The forest is transformative, a kind of eden that rebuilds a corrupt world. Just like the tragedies have their comic sub-plots, in the comedies there is always someone left looking thru the window at the end. Jacques is looking for some kind of redemption in that eden, but he doesn't find it. Those "seven ages of man" end "sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything." 

My brain is boiling with thoughts but I would make myself tedious with them. I often imagine Shakespeare productions in my head, what I see in the text, the little throwaways that paint an Elizabethan world. Who cares that hats are a marker of masculinity? or that in a world long before PETA criticizing the noble pursuit of hunting shows the character to be a bit off his rocker? or that Branagh's envisioning of Charles as a sumo wrestler will probably go with me to the grave...

Is anyone out there interested in reading this play and putting some zing into it?

Happy Mithras Eve

I spent today doing the festive preparation of cleaning the aquarium filters and vacuuming fish gravel. We've welcomed a little school of tiger barbs to our piscean family. I'm happy to be able to do it. This year has been all about falling off that work-life balance beam and landing splat on the floor. Taking the unexpectedly generous number of holidays this season to chill and take care of home things, barely checking email. We're not entertaining or visiting, just being home to heal and save up some energy. The coming year will be intense.

We picked up a last minute Christmas tree yesterday and put it up, the first one in years. A random selection of lights and not many decorations, but  I wanted to smell evergreen in the house. It's very pleasant right now, sitting around it with candles lit, by the glow of the laptop. L is producing a feast, unsurprisingly, and looks so sweet by the twinkling lights.

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Perhaps on Boxing Day I will win the struggle to write some cards. Thank you to everyone who sent them to us -- we are thinking of you and wishing you happiness.

Enjoy the season of lights.