Pennsic 2008 Diary: Saturday, August 9

809.24 +
1.25 — ice
0.75 — air for tires
5.15 — tolls
12.00 — lunch
40.14 — gas
= $868.53

morning — Marauders

The show, featuring Cerian, John, Darian, and Lucia, was really funny. Afterwards, they all came over to the Marauders and we fed them. Sisuila requested Lucia perform “Undefeated” for Alethea, and Alethea requested I perform “Gunthar and the Ladies.” This kicked off an informal, impromptu bardic circle that lasted until about 1 in the morning. It was lots and lots of fun. We had about two dozen people, more or less (people kept arriving and leaving), of which maybe six or eight at any given time were performers. It was a good mix. The themes tended to run to filk and silly: I broke John Inchingham with “Beowulf” and several people broke me.

I had been planning on going to the Peerless circle, but by the time I wrapped things up around 1, I was just too tired to leave camp.

It was very cold last night, and it’s chilly this morning, but at least the sky is clear (knock wood). Now we’re trading “no shit, there I was” stories. It’s good to live with the prince.

8:20 pm — Red Carpet Inn, Syracuse, NY

Today hasn’t been a particularly good day. For one thing, I’m no longer at Pennsic, which is always cause for sadness. Beyond that, though, have been a number of distressing incidents. First, my tent tried to kill me. I was undoing the bungies for the fly and one snapped back right onto my left cheekbone. Ow. Lots and lots of ow. Even though I iced it, I’m still getting a very visible bruise that I’m hoping (though not expecting) will fade before I go back to work on Wednesday. For another, I started getting a migraine (and the migraine-induced fatigue that goes with it) on the drive back. We left Pennsic and hit the I-79 by 12:30. After a brief detour through Erie (my fault: I missed the turnoff for the I-90), I decided I’d like to stop shortly after Buffalo, which we’d hit around 4:15. We wound up playing the “just a little father is a better / cheaper hotel” game a while, and three hours later we had just passed Syracuse and my migraine was full-blown. I’d wanted to take an advil in those three hours but couldn’t fit it in my purse and assumed it was in my relatively-inaccessible backpack. When we checked in to the hotel and I was well and truly zombie-like, I discovered that the advil had been in my purse the whole time and felt like an idiot for subjecting both myself and poor Jeanne to the experience of me with a migraine. I popped an advil, failed to nap, and took a shower, and now I’m feeling worlds better. Better enough, in fact, for the traditional…

Post-Pennsic Brain Dump!

First and foremost, Pennsic was (as always) awesome. Where else do I get to do bardic essentially non-stop for two weeks? (Answer: nowhere.) Even better, for the first time in a while, the weather really co-operated. It was probably my best Pennsic ever, weather-wise. The days were hot but not overbearingly so, the evenings weren’t too cold, the rain was sparse and didn’t interfere with either set-up or tear-down… if every Pennsic could be like this, I’d be very, very happy. Thank you, weather gods!

I had a number of new experiences this war, most of them while retaining for Alethea. I experienced the battlefield (even though I admittedly didn’t fight), Pennsic court from behind the thrones, and various parties from the perspective of Royal entourage. The idea returns to me again and again that there are as many Pennsics as people who attend. If I know 200 people at Pennsic well enough to have a fast conversation (the number is possibly higher, but not much higher… I think), that’s still less than 2% of all Pennsic-goers. If there are 15 camps at which I feel comfortable dropping in on a random basis to say “hi!”, that’s barely scratching the surface. Most of the people at Pennsic, I have never met, and their experiences are probably vastly different from mine. No matter how many times I think this thought, it still amazes me.

Retaining itself was a lot of fun, if a bit tiring. A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that I knew Alethea already and we’re friends. Even so, I very much enjoyed myself and hope I took good enough care of her.

In terms of bardic (you knew we’d have to talk about bardic, didn’t you?), I can’t believe how prolific I’ve been. Five pieces in two weeks is definitely a record for me. Yes, some of them are highly specific, but even so. Five pieces in a week and a half. Dude! Speed-bardic is apparently becoming my speciality.

While some of the formal circles I attended were very, very good (I’m thinking especially of Haakon’s and Aethelmearc filk night), on the whole I didn’t enjoy them as much as previous years. Whether that’s because my tastes have changed or because the circles were objectively lower-quality than previous years, I don’t know. On the other hand, I had a blast at all the mini-performances I gave in camp, at Erwilian’s, at the Casa, at Eoforwic, etc. I like being the centre of attention (yes, I’m a ham), but more than that, I like the reactions from my audience when I perform stuff I’d never do at a circle. I can do traditional drinking songs and bawdy pieces for random people sitting around camp wanting to be entertained; I’d rarely do those pieces at a formal circle, they just wouldn’t fit. Whether this indicates an ongoing shift in preference on my part, only time will tell.

As a corollary thought, I wonder if I perform too much. (Gasp! Shock!) Seriously. I sometimes wonder if I perform when I shouldn’t or take too much time in unstructured performances. I definitely shouldn’t have sung “The Peasant Knight” at breakfast this morning: it killed the upbeat mood we’d had going. I’m learning all the time, but watching some other people perform sparingly but to great receptions makes me wonder if I’m overdoing things. I feel like I still need to make a name for myself, I suppose.

On the other hand, I got five tokens for bardic this war (in addition to my Bardicci silver), so I suppose I must be doing something right. For the record: 1. reproduction thimble from Brid, 2. bead from Dyrfinna, 3. medallion from Erwilian, 4. agate bracelet from Gunthar, 5. beads from Iohn. I really like getting these sorts of favours, though it makes me wonder what sort of garb I can wear to show it off. Vikings had all sorts of beaded necklaces and armbands, but I really have no desire for a Viking persona. I’d like to situate myself around the time of Eleanor of Aquitaine (late 12th century), but I don’t think they wore necklaces and armbands. Eh. We’ll see what happens. It’s not like I’m making new garb any time soon, anyway.

I’m contemplating a few projects for when I get home. First, the perennial idea of hosting bardic circles. I really like Toki’s idea of bardic workshops (“fighter practice for bards”), and may try to implement something similar. On a more personal note, I’m thinking of starting a new web page solely devoted to my bardic stuff. I’m thinking of calling it “The Home of the Pocket Bard” and including stuff like my original compositions, tip sheets, and favourite links. Potential web site: or [Editor’s note: haven’t done it yet, but I’ll be sure to keep all my loyal readers in the know.] I’m also thinking of teaching a class next year based on The SCA Without Breaking the Bank. [Editor’s note: As of late 2009, The SCA Without Breaking the Bank will be migrating. Keep your eyes peeled for the new site!]

A few smaller points of note:

  • I was quite surprised to realise that the Bardicci gold and silver I’ve accumulated (and kept) this year would cost me about $75 if I bought it retail.
  • I need to remember not to buy food. I bought 2 gallons of water, mixed nuts, granola bars, and tea. The only thing I consumed was about 1/4 gallon of water for taking my pills in the morning. I’m on an awesome meal plan and around the corner from the food court. I don’t need to buy food.
  • The “welcome mat” I bought for War was a mixed blessed: it was great when the weather was dry, but it accumulated lots of rain water just in front of my tent when it was rainy. Maybe I’ll try putting it just inside (instead of just outside) my tent next year. Thank goodness I’ve got a side-door, anyway.
  • I’m sad that I didn’t get at least one night of jamming with Michael Kelly, but I’m glad I got a chance to go to Enchanted Ground’s circle at least once.
  • I performed “Beowulfway too many times, but I still love it.
  • Sleep deprivation sucks, but is pretty much a given, at least if you’re a bard who camps in a nylon tent on the Serengeti. I generally went to bed between 12:30 and 2:00 am, and my body invariably woke me up between 6:30 and 7:30 with an unrelenting need to use the portos. Usually that lets up after a few days; this year it didn’t. I averaged 5-6 hours a night, which isn’t really enough.

Well, so much for short reflections.

It boggles my mind how I can be so active at Pennsic and love the involvement so much, but how inactive I am in my home group. I don’t really know why I’m inactive, I just always seem to have other things to do on practice nights.

I was thinking of writing a list of my favourite moments at War, but if you’ve read the rest of this journal, it’s probably pretty clear. No need to beat a dead horse (or bard, as the case may be).

So that’s pretty much all that’s in my head as I start my 50-week town run. War was great, but I’m looking forward to air conditioning, showers, and my own bedroom. I’m going to try to be more diligent about contacting people during the rest of the year, especially those people who live far away. We will see next year how successful I am. We’ll also see whether I gained or lost weight. Lots of stunningly good food plus lots of walking = who knows? [Editor’s note: it looks like I gained a pound or two, which is actually somewhat better than I was expecting.]

9:20 pm, signing off until next year.

Back to Friday, August 8
Forward to Sunday, August 10


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