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I am now taking submissions for the first blog carnival for the SCA Blog.  Submissions will be take through May 21st.  They are on the topic of Renaissance Festivals.  So if you have something to say about this pasttime, go here http://blogcarnival.com/bc/cprof_4208.html and give me your thoughts.

 I am highly interested in what everyone will come up with since this is such a big event these days.

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Robin Hood: Childhood Episode

admin on May 15th, 2008

This week we start off with several children playing Robin Hood in the woods.  They are acting as if a boar is the sheriff and try to shoot him.  When the boy misses, another wants to be Robin and runs off with the boy.  They stop upon a scene of one man tied up with Gisborne and several archers aiming at the tied up man.  When the archers release their arrows, none of them penetrate the metal armor the tied up man is wearing.  Guy kills the man and sees the kids, giving chase.

The boy who pretended to be Robin Hood, Daniel, hides and meets the real Robin.  His friends are captured and Robin rouses the group to save Daniel’s friends and themselves when he hears what Gisborne and the Sheriff have at their defenses.  Daniel is amazed to meet each one of Robin’s group.

The Sheriff visits the blacksmith who makes the armor and they discuss terms, how many the Sheriff wants, etc.  The Sheriff is made to breathethe smoke the blacksmith breaths and he chokes on it.  When he leaves the blacksmith shop he hears Daniel’s friends coughing as well and tells Gisbornethey must be killed.  Robin devises a plan to rescue them.

Little John and Will Scarlet come to the back of the shed the boys are being held in and cut boards to rescue them.  One boy is chained to a stake and Little John sends Will with the rest to get Djaq and Munch’s help.  Meanwhile Robin is stealing a box with diamonds and Gisborne catches him.  They duel but Robin escapes.  Daniel helps to save him when Gisborne is ready to shot him out a window, but firing an arrow at Gisborne.

Little John tries to save the last boy and guards along with the Sheriff, come in to fight.  Little John puts the boy on his shoulder, handing him a board and tells him to help watch his head.  They fight and just as Djaq and Munch arrive, knock everyone out.  Unfortunately while they are all escaping, Daniel is caught and his life will be forfeit if Robin does not give back the box he stole with the black diamonds in it.

When Marion hears of the boy’s capture and possible demise, she finds a way to help get him rescued.  Under the pretense of getting permission to see Gisborne to apologize, she gets the Sheriff to seal parchment for her to leave the castle.  Hidden underneath is a letter that will let Daniel be released to a soldier for questioning.  When Marion brings the parchment to Robin, Alan agrees to act as the guard but instead tells Gisborne of the plan.  Including how they are going to use pitch to burn the diamonds during the trade, the backup plan.

When they go to make the trade, the Sheriff knows about the plan and changes things up.  Marion gets in the middle for the boy to be released to her, not an outlaw.  Once the boy is free and the Sheriff has the black diamonds, Gisborne comes out.  He is dressed in the armor and fights Robin.  Gisborne is beating him and the others want to help him.  Robin forbids them from leaving their eyes on the Sheriff’s archers and instead of the pitch being used on the box; Robin throws it on Gisborne and the armor.  He lights the armor and Gisborne must fall into a water trough to put out the flames. 

Robin catches Gisbon in a bad position and wants to trade him for the diamonds. When the Sheriff refuses and is willing to let Robin drown Gisbon, Marion steps in to save Gisbon by threatening to kill the blacksmith. The Sheriff finally consents, unhappily, and tells Marion she will be punished severely for this. Gisbon is unhappy that by helping him, Marion helped Robin and asked if she has had anything to do with him since he became an outlaw. Of course she denies it. However the Sheriff is so furious, he is going to lock her father in a room to suffer.

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Local Officers of the SCA

admin on May 13th, 2008

In the SCA there are people that are highly important to know their jobs. You may not know who they are but knowing what they do, in case you do need to speak with one of them, is important. Because the Middle Ages worked on a bureaucracy, as well as today, these are the people that are important in your SCA life. These people are on local and kingdom levels so no matter what event you attend, you can find one of them. As a member of the SCA receiving your local newsletter, these names will be listed in it for you to know, even if you have yet to meet them. They are as follows:

• Seneschal: the representative for the local group in the outside world. Acts as the chief administrative officer, similar to a group’s president.

• Pursuivant: The local heraldic officer. In charge of making announcements and helping people research their names and heraldic devices in preparation for submission to the College of Heralds.

• Knight Marshal: In charge of the rules and regulations for fighting and archery. Sees to the safety of the participants. Keeps a record of who is authorized locally. Is responsible for seeing that fighters have an opportunity for training.

• Chancellor of the Exchequer: In charge of the financial affairs of the group. Also known as the Treasurer or Reeve.

• Minister of Arts and Sciences: Coordinates the study and practice of the medieval arts and sciences. See this officer if you have any questions in these areas or want to learn more about one of the skills and crafts.

• Chronicler: Publishes the group’s newsletter, which can range from a simple schedule of upcoming events to a booklet containing articles by local members.

• Chirurgeon: Certified in the modern world in first aid. Usually available at events to provide first aid for minor injuries. Not a required office for local groups.

These people are all appointed to these positions, not elected, so anyone can do the job if available.  The officers do have to report to their kingdom superiors and attend meetings.

http://www.sca.org/officers/chatelain/ForwardIntothePast.pdf

Sherwood Forest is legendary for being Robin Hood’s hideout when he lived and stole from the rich.  In its time it was more than 100,000 acres of Nottinghamshire.  However today with it being cut down over the years for ships, towns, and other things, and from natural causes it has dwindled to 450 acres.  Not only that but of the 1000 trees still in the forest, only 450 of those are still alive. sherwood forest

This is actually not a totally bad thing.  The dead and dying trees play a vital role by being habitats for animals, plants, and bugs that thrive in such trees.  And ancient oaks, which are what makes up Sherwood Forest, actually spend 300 of their 900 year life span, dying.  The ones that are dying are declining at an alarming rate or one per year.  In February 2007 four of those that are dead but still standing, fell to high winds in one night and three others during the year. 

Trees in Robin Hood’s old home are watching to help keep even those dying from causing damage to other trees but something has to change or the entire forest may end up gone.  Currently there are 15 organizations that are working together on a project called “Sherwood: The Living Legend” to rebuild the forest.  They want to plant 250,000 trees to bring the different parts of the forest back together to make it stronger and alive again.

This plan would more than double the core size of the forest and keep its ecology alive.  The plan would also have visitor and educational facilities for people and have several walking, cycling, and horse trails.  Local communities surrounding Sherwood Forest would be able to celebrate the history and legends better as well.

“Sherwood: The Living Legend” is back by celebrities who have played Robin Hood over the years such as Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Jonas Armstrong who currently plays the beloved bandit on the BBC series.  The real life, present day Sheriff of Nottingham is also supporting this plan.

In order to be able to fund this project and keep one of histories most important forests, the group is trying to win a grant from Britain’s National Lottery for $100 million.  The lottery gives grants to charitable causes.  The Sherwood Forest project is in the running but nothing has been awarded yet.  If you would like to learn more about this tragedy and hopeful outcome, visit http://www.robinhood.co.uk/

Feastware for SCA Feasting

admin on May 9th, 2008

If you are now considering attending a feast when you go to your next SCA event, you might be wondering just where to get feastware to use.  It is actually easier than you think.  However it also depends on how many people you need to buy for and what kind of feastware you desire.

Feastware for the SCA comes in wood, plastic, or metal.  Glass can be used if you want but it might get broke taking it to events.  You do not need to have anything fancy to carry your feastware in either.  A simple bag can suffice but a picnic basket is much easier and in one there is less chance of something getting broken.  Of course many picnic baskets have plastic dinnerware inside and this could suffice as your feastware in the beginning.

Plastic is easier to clean than many other kinds of feastware because now a days most are designed to be put in a dishwasher.  This is something you can not do with wood or metal.  And many picnic sets come with silverware and even cups.  So if you need an easy and fairly cheap way to get your feastware for and SCA event, find a picnic basket with all this in it.  Of course plastic is not very period and at some point you may want to eat on more of what they did back in the middle ages.

This is where metal or wood comes in.  Wood is the cheaper of the two here for the most part.  You can get bowls, plates, cups, and even silverware in wood.  I don’t really recommend a wood knife as it does not cut well.  Make sure what wood feastware you purchase is designed to be eaten on.  Buying it at an event or authorized SCA dealer online is the best way to go for this.  You might even find something that will work at a Renaissance or medieval fair in your area.  Price can be cheap to expensive depending on how many pieces come in the set and how big the items are.  Smaller plates, cups, ect. will cost less.

Metal feastware is a little trickier.  This is because some metals are harmful to eat off of and many items are made from them for decoration only.  I suggest if you want metal, buy them at an SCA event where you can look them over.  You might use a regular knife and fork for your utensils.  You will get the right tools for the job, especially since many things need to be cut as you eat.

If need be, start gathering pieces one at a time before attending an SCA feast.  This way you can find what you like and not break the bank.  However if you are lucky you might find it all at once.  Just remember you may not like what you have in a few years and purchase something new.  This will give you a chance to sell or give away your old feastware to help someone else new attend a feast.

The Lure of Fantasy Movies

admin on May 8th, 2008

Fantasy movies come out all the time and some times do well and other times do not.  Some things that are considered fantasy by some are not by others.  Fantasy for the most part involves creatures that you would not see in real life.  But for movies this is not always the case.  Here are some good fantasy movies to see that might or might not fit what you normally think of for fantasy.

Dungeons and Dragons

This movie was created for the lovers of the table-top dice game.  It actually is a typical adventure with a good mix for the group.  This is just the trailer to it.

Timeline

This is a great fantasy movie due to the concept. A group go back in time to find the father of one of them who sent a message that was written 600 years before. It is interesting to see how people lived in midieval times.

Kull

Here you have an all human cast with the exception of demons and gods.

Is there a favorite out there you watch all the time that might not be considered normal fantasy?

Episode two of the BBC’s Robin Hood starts out quite funny this week.  The viewers are shown how easy it easy for Robin Hood and his gang to steal from the rich for the poor.  They think it is very easy but still want more.  The biggest challenge is a strong room that the Sheriff has had made just to keep his money safe.  And so this is part of what Robin Hood will go after this week.

The Sheriff is also entertaining a German gambler, to take his money so he can fill his new strong room.  Marion is a pawn in this to help Count Frederick, lose his money.  The Sheriff has him take a round about route to the Nottingham so that Robin Hood can not ambush him and steal the money.

Robin Hood and his gang get an ally in the man who designed the strong room.  He has decided to help them steal from the Sheriff because the men who built the room were killed instead of paid and their families left to starve.  It is not going to be an easy task since the defenses change slightly all the time.

The Count is taken with Marion but she is less than enthusiastic to be near him.  When she feigns a headache, he follows and saves her from the guards outside the personal chambers of the Sheriff.  When they overhear that the Sheriff of Nottingham is going to take the Count’s money to bring more soldiers in to take out the king when he returns, they plot to thwart this.  This includes meeting Robin Hood.

While Robin and the outlaws are practicing to get in the strong room, Marion takes Count Frederick to meet him and tell them that the outlaws must break into the room that night.  The gang is reluctant because they have not done well, but Marion tells them they must or the money will be gone.

To gain access to the strong room, Djaq dresses as a servant and knocks two guards out to get the keys.  She lets everyone in and they all give appreciating looks to her.  The Count wins until the signal is given to start losing so that Robin Hood and the gang can steal his money back to thwart the Sheriff.  Unfortunately for Robin, the strong room defenses have been changed again in case Robin Hood and his outlaws do try to steal the money.

At the last minute the Count bets all his money against all the money the strong room has.  The dice are changed and he loses, as planned.  Robin beats the defenses to the strong room and they steal the money, barely escaping as usual.  The count tells Marion he will always be her friend and ally if she ever visits him.  And the Sheriff is extremely upset over losing all his money and the Count’s as well.

If you have never seen Eragon the movie but read the book, you may be disappointed.  If you watch it without reading the book first, you will not have any issues and probably enjoy it as a fantasy movie should be.  Unfortunately if you have read the book first, watch the movie with a grain of salt and realize that certain things must be changed for a story to flow right on the big screen.

The movie is not a bad rendition of the novel, however it moves much faster than the story goes.  This is out of necessity but for lovers of the book can be annoying.  The movie begins with background that in the book is learned as Eragon travels with Brom.  To begin the tale it helps the movie along though and thus is needed.

Saphira grows every quickly in the book and tells Eragon her name, instead of Eragon naming her himself after listening to a tale from Brom.  They leave Carvahall quickly when the Raz’ac attack and travel to a small village.  While this is not different from the book, travel time is faster and Eragon meets Angela in this village instead of Terim in the novel.  The biggest problem with this is that the movie version of Angela is young, while the book version was older who had a lot of prediction experience.

Very quickly the storyline moves along and Eragon is rescuing Ayra, meeting Murtagh, and Brom has been killed.  The book has these things happen in a different order and with more time in between.  They did get what Saphira does to Brom’s funeral pyre right by turning it into a diamond.

When Ayra gets ill very soon afterward and she “shows” Eragon how to get the Varden, it is not right that Murtagh knows how to get there himself since he is an enemy due to his father.  Once they reach the Varden’s hiding place the dwarves are never introduced.  Almost immediately Galbatorix is attacking the Varden’s hiding place as if they knew how to invade it the entire time if only he knew where it was.  The fight is over very quickly and unfortunately when you watch the movie you don’t get as involved with the new characters as the book.

I do think the ending does not work as well however.  It does not leave the movie open for the rest of the story.  The parting of Ayra is unexpected and abrupt.  There is no mention of further educating Eragon and Saphira since they are the last riders and newest hope for the world.  But in and of itself, the movie version is entertaining.

Attending Feast at an SCA event

admin on May 5th, 2008

Going to an SCA event is fun in and of itself.  However after all the fighting is finished, court is adjourned and possibly entertainment is beheld, feast is served.  This is the meal at the end, and the end of the meal is the end of the event for the day.  But what do you need to attend feast and what happens during it?

No one is required to attend feast except the king and queen (if they are in attendance) or other monarchy figures.  Feast is extra from attending the event.  Tickets are sometimes pre-sold, like event tickets can be, or are available at the door.  If you plan to attend feast, buy your tickets either in advance, if possible, or as soon as you arrive.  Feast tickets usually sell out.

Feast is supper for the event.  It is served in several courses over about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Depending on who is preparing feast that day, you can have very elaborate dishes.  Some may not even taste like what they are supposed to be.  The feast I attended this year had beets in sugared boats and sugar on top.  They in no way tasted like a vegetable but a desert.

Feast dishes are authentic recipes there were served in medieval times for big feasts held by kings and queens.  Some may be simpler than that but since only wealthy could afford to have so many courses, they are usually royal dishes.  Since they are made from old recipes, they are not friendly to those trying to watch what they eat.  One dessert alone can have 650 calories.

When attending a feast you must bring your own dishes and utensils to eat out of and with.  It is recommended to have a plate, bowl, cup, knife, and fork.  Extra gear is a good idea too if you do not like to mix your food or think you will not finish what you have on your plate before the next course is served.  I would also recommend bringing something to put your used feast gear in when finished as well as a bag to put any food you do not eat in to throw out.  A napkin might be extremely helpful as well.  Sometimes these three items are provided but normally they are not.

I do recommend that you try a little of everything brought out during feast, even if it sounds like something you don’t think you would like.  I hate mushrooms but still tried the dish that had them covered in 2 pounds of cheese.  I loved them like that.  If you don’t think you will be able to eat all of feast, which would not be a surprise with how much food is served, take small portions.

At least once in your SCA life, attend feast.  It is a good social experience for everyone and a fun time.  Sit next to someone you don’t know and learn about your fellow SCA member who may not be from the same state as you.  Eat until you are stuffed and relish that you don’t do this every day.  Feast is an experience all of its own in the SCA.