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Chronicle of a Purple Bear

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June 6th, 2007

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Well, life since Warlord has been busy.

 

I have a new penpal from www.operationmilitrarysupport.com – just go there, get an address, and write to a soldier – REGULARLY.  <grin>  I'm giving him three months to reply before I stop writing him – because I can't send a care package until I hear back from him.

 

Last week was spent getting ready for Castillan, up in Northkeep.  I hopped on the site for the event, and saw how many children's activities there were, and the fact that there was children's bardic – and OMG I was there.  I decided not to camp, especially since it was pouring down rain Friday night when I got off work.  Saturday, I got up, ran off a copy of the Ansteorran Chilren's Bardbook to donate as a prize, and headed north.  It was a long drive, I got there shortly after noon.  I spent THE AFTERNOON involved with judging children's bardic.  The only thing I can say, is that I have seen the future of bardcraft of this kingdom, and I know that it is in safe hands.  I was floored – my largesse basket is wearing thin.  It was fantastic, and an unholy amount of fun.

 

The elevation of Reianne Redwolf to the Order of the Laurel was fantastic.

 

The quitting smoking is not going smoothly – it's really tough, but I'm gonna lick this thing, I'm determined.  I did smoke this weekend, and I'm sorry I did it.  But, addiction is a very seductive thing – I should know.

 

Watched 300 at the dollar move last week.  Went again with Jackson last night (50-cent Tuesdays) and he actually had a great time.  I adored it, and it really had nothing to do with the ENDLESS LINE OF BEAUTIFUL MEN washed across the screen.  I've been nuts about this storyline forever, and I want to get a copy of the movie THE SPARTAN 300.  But, this was a Hollywood movie based upon a Frank Miller graphic novel based upon actual events in Greek history.  In short, I was in Heaven.  I've cried every time I've seen it, because it is amazing.  It's funny – Elanore really got it right when she said they were period Klingons.

 

<grin>

 

Work has been Hell this week.  Monday (and I really can't believe this) our billing system went down – nationwide.  Yes, the Cingular Wireless billing system went down ACROSS THE COUNTRY on Monday – every department, every store, everywhere – NOBODY could access ANY account information.  And, of course, we had to take calls to explain to them that we couldn't help them.  On top of that, we couldn't log into the Intranet here at work, either – so it just compounded the problems.

 

As a result, Tuesday was Monday all over again.

 

Today, fortunately, is much better.

 

I have training today, which is probably going to be on one of the new data/blackberry/blackjack phones – and I really hate those particular classes.  They do no good whatsoever, and they just waste my time – and, honestly, I'd rather just be on the phone taking calls.  Oh well, at least I'll be able to catch up with my correspondence with my new penpal.

 

I'm outta here.

 

Oh, going camping this weekend with Christopher, Kristen & family.  We're going floating down the Illinois River.

 

"Go well, be well, and stay well."

May 27th, 2007

Back from Steppes Warlord

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I have said it before: What a difference a day makes. 

The week was not terribly eventful, but the EVENT this weekend certainly was.

Let's see – I didn't do much this week except get ready for going to Steppes Warlord this weekend.  I was not sure if I was going to drive down or ride down with some one else.  A few weeks back, I cancelled the day off I applied for for Friday going into Memorial Day Weekend – for the simple fact that I only have one or two days off unallocated this year, and I want to save them up for the moment – my jaw has been inexplicably hurting lately with no apparent pattern, and I want to have some extra days to have my wisdom teeth removed.  (I want to go in to remove them at the beginning / ending of the week, and have two days in addition to recover.)

 I have made a new friend in the Herald for Weisenfeuer, a guy named Miles – he and his friend Alianorra and I drove down to Canton for Steppes Wardlord this weekend – and I am even now typing up on the road now (signal is surprisingly good).  <grin>  I was originally planning on driving back on Monday (day), but Miles wanted to leave Sunday night after court.  Well, needless to say it rained at Warlord – just like it does every year.  In fact, it flooded at Warlord, which was never supposed to exceed a 40% chance of rain.

I entered the bardic this weekend – from paper, and with a new piece – I knew from the beginning I wasn't going to break to finals.  But, I did a piece for Cecila, my Lady, called "The Lady Who Touches Me."  I evidently brought her to tears.  There were three finalists: Tyg, Duchess Willow, and Yagiu (that would be Jacob, one of my students).  First round, he did a tale of Japanese battle – and in the final round, he did "Do You Seek to be a Warlord?"  He won.  So, the newest laurel (Finnican) and my Master (Robin) passed the cloak of the Steppes Bard to my student.  I was elated.  <grin> 

We elevated a Peer from each Peerage this weekend.  Louis was made a Knight (I cried) – it was magnificent.  Knighting is something I can never experience myself, however I do love the elevation – it really does exemplify what we as a Society stand for.  Countess Octavia was elevated to the Order of the Pelican – escorted by Daffid, of course.

And, then there was Finnican.  OMG, I balled.  Ulf heralded him in.  The Queen who had him as her bard the first time spoke for the Order of the Rose – but Willow also had something to say, and she was magnificent (when she's on, she is SO on).  Sir Simon spoke for the Order of the Chivalry.  Lucase spoke for the Order of the Lions – who came in from the back of the circle, claiming not being able to hear, and defending Finnican from whatever he has been accused of, and even mentioning that his dear cousin, the Baroness Lucacia even forgives him. 

I saw him at his vigil, which was so very nice – there was food and booze as far as the eye could see.  The vinters and brewers in the area have been on call for something like two years on this.  I had made him a set of cords to give out as largesse, but he turned the tables on me.  He is going to give them as part of his compact with his apprentices – it gets me teary-eyed even now to think that a bard as great as he is wants to use something I made as a portion of his contract to his apprentices.  What he's going to do is write up a contract between he and his apprentice to be torn in half (the tear is called an indenture, ironically enough) rolled up with a piece of his sliver branch (one of his symbols) in a bag (made from the same piece of cloth as his laurel's cloak) that will be tied with one of my cords.  I am amazed that a bard of his caliber thinks that highly of me.

While I was at the vigil, I was cornered by His Highness – saying that I owed him a piece.  Needless to say, when my Prince asks me for a piece, I'll give him what he wants.  But, so it seems, I owe him one from about five years ago.  This is really kinda funny, but it gets kinda strange, too.  It seems that about five years ago, I went down with Firefall to this itty bitty event for a now defunct group called The Bizarre Bizarre – it was an SCA garage sale, and an uncontrollable amount of fun.  But, in the days when I was just a bard, and Ulstead was just a squire – I evidently made a deal for a really great feathered fan in exchange for a piece glorifying him.  Well, evidently I completely forgot about it – and now that he's Prince (for a second time) he's calling in his due.  But, he asked his Princess, what it should be, and she decided that it should be about her.  Fortunately, I have my Laurel in on this – so he'll be there to help me.  I'm going to try like crazy to have it done in a month and a half for their Cornation (in WACO – faint).  Fortunately, Miles is thinking about going.  This is going to be a challenge in more ways than one: I have heard nothing good about Ulstead or his new lady – in fact, I've heard NOT good things about them, and I'm going to have to talk to Robin about just HOW I need to write this piece.  The one thing that I have heard is that she does have a big heart, and that she is many things – and that she is NOT a clueless queen.  She is very politically savvy, and knew exactly what she was asking for when she did.  I'll do it, and I will put her in a good light – but, I am also going to learn a lesson about working with the crown.  Wish me luck – I'll need it.  I'll post it here when I finally write it. 

<grin>

I didn't see very much of Miles or Allianorra (my riding buddies) this weekend, but then again that is the nature of Warlord – I was ALL OVER that site this weekend.  I saw them most when we were traveling down and back. 

Oh yeah, and the site rained out – as it does every year.  I swear, at this point I don't want to camp that event ever again.  I may change my mind next year, or I may just hotel the damn thing.  <grin>

Let's see, gossip.

Cais has Shwe (my other student) pregnant.  With some of the most recent developments, this really scares me.  He's a really crazy and vindictive kind of guy, and now he is inexorably tied to me.  I mean, when he and his ex-wife broke up – he broke into her house and broke every single window and lock on every door to make sure she could not feel safe.  And now, he's manipulating one of my students to give an excuse to stay.  I cannot tell you how glad I am to get away from some of the people I was associated with down there. 

Yagiu finally got his GED, and is going to school.  He wants to be a cop, and I am SO proud of him.

May 20th, 2007

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Oh, yes – my allergy attack kept me in all last weekend, so Mark and I met Friday night –and it was small and personal.  I offered to cook dinner at his place and introduce him to Doctor Who.  He enjoyed the food, the show, and the company, by all reports.  As did I.  He's nice – we'll see what happens.

June's Flamebearer Article

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Greetings, Wiesenfeuer!

Last month we looked at the idea of familiarization as the road to memorization.  And, it really does hold true.  I have experienced the horror of losing your place mid-piece on both sides of the performance.  But, I have also seen bards that know their piece well enough that the audience never notices when they skip a verse – because the bard never indicates that anything is amiss.  It happens to us all, and proper preparation is your best defense.

We have discussed submerging yourself in your piece – keeping a copy on you at all times, going over it in your spare time, etc.  Study, preparation, and practice are important.  But, singing in the shower (though it may entertain the neighbors) is never going to prepare you for performance.  It is nothing short of trial by fire.  You never know how a piece is going to do until you put it on its feet in front of an audience.

This is a vital step in preparation of your piece.  Performing for at least a select and trusted audience gives you a chance to get feedback.  When I teach classes to young bards, I tell them (in all seriousness) to perform for their parents, their friends, for anyone who will stand still long enough – and then gauge their reaction and ask their opinion.

I would like to make a slight detour here to talk about feedback and criticism.  It is very important, when you are performing any piece (new or otherwise), that you pay attention to your audience’s reaction.  There are many ways they have of offering feedback, ranging from applause to largesse.  But, particularly when you are still working on a piece, you may want to ask a few of them what they think.  Other bards are an excellent resource for this.  Now, there are two types of criticism: CONSTRUCTIVE criticism gives you something that you can do to improve your performance and warrants your consideration, while DESTRUCTIVE criticism does nothing of the kind and should be ignored completely.  By the same token, we as a bardic community need to get in the habit of being able to offer supportive and constructive criticism when asked – particularly when it is coming from a new bard.  We need to be conscious of what we are saying and how we are saying it.  Our experience genuinely offered can help some one new to this craft fall in love with it as much as we have, but a dismissive or canned response can turn some one away permanently.  If you are unsure of how to do this, go to some of the bards you respect and ask them about watching a performance with a critical eye.

This is where it is useful to have a "bard buddy": another bard whose opinion you trust that you can work with to improve your respective performances.  I cannot emphasize how helpful bard buddies can be.  You can help each other find material, especially if each of you knows the type of piece the other is looking for.  They can help you run lines, work on presentation, iron out tough spots in a piece, offer an honest opinion, and make practical suggestions.  Two people working together is a great (and fun way) to prepare for a competition.  The competition itself is more enjoyable when you can root for each other, and can help evaluate your performance under pressure.  And, a bard buddy is sometimes perfect to huddle up with you, some junk food, and a bad horror movie when you need some one to pick up your spirits.  (I know all of these things from personal experience.  *grin*)

With summer here and the event season now in full swing, performance opportunities abound.  So, get out there and take advantage of them – and not just your own performances.  Sit back and enjoy the performances of others.  Pay attention to what they do and how they do it.  Question yourself for the effectiveness of the performance choices they make.  (Do not be rude and offer an uninvited appraisal of their performance.)  Take notes while watching a competition (even if you are not competing).  Keep an eye out for pieces you would like to perform, and ask about them.  There is a goldmine of opportunity out there for the bard with a watchful eye.

In bardic news, the Barony of Northkeep is selecting both their adult and youth title bards this month at their Castellan.  These are in addition to their first ever Youth Boffer Champion, Children’s Castilan, Youth A&S and more, which promises to be quite interesting.  Any questions, comments, etc are welcome at bardsatlarge@yahoo.com.  And remember to make a joyful noise unto your kingdom!

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It's been a week since I've set anything down.

I still have a lingering cough from my allergy attack last week.

Tuesday, Jackson had no interest in seeing "The Las Mimsy," so we went to dinner, and I wanted to see it before it dropped from the big screen.

I have bookshelves!!  John and Becca bought a new shelf to display her My Little Pony collection, and are taking the fabric off of another shelf to make room in the computer room – and giving me the old shelf.  I have been working on it this weekend.  My role-playing books are finally out of the box!  I am also assembling my Period library together, as well.

I have finished the June article for the Flamebearer, which I will post directly.

May 12th, 2007

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All right, now we come to the events of this week.

 

Needless to say, I am glad to say that I’ve finally brought my journal up to date.

 

Let’s see, Becca and John have started on Chantix (the quit smoking drug) – she is not taking it well.  I am also quitting this week, as well.

 

Tuesday I polished off my last pack, but I found another pack later that night – so I’m just trying to smoke and get rid of them.  There’s not a lot left.

 

John came in town for the event, but he is still here because he failed his DOT physical, and can’t drive his truck until his blood sugar and pressure come down.  They also had (evidently their first) a fight – and I mean FIGHT.  I came home Monday night after Wiesenfeuer populace, and found them at a lull in it.  Becca had run to the back bedroom and locked herself in.  (This sounds familiar.)

 

Tuesday night Jackson and I went out and saw GHOST RIDER – which turned out to not be the terrible movie everyone said it was.  I mean, there was a great deal of cheese involved – but, what else do you expect with a comic book movie?  There is a great deal that I would have done differently, but I was satisfied all in all.  I’m hoping to catch THE LAST MIMZY next week.

 

I have a date this Saturday with a guy I met online named Mark – he’s a bankruptcy councilor here in the City.  We are going to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, but I don’t know if I’m going to get dinner in the mix – since he’ll be having lunch with family for Mother’s Day.

 

Speaking of Mother’s Day, I forgot that it was this weekend, and thought that it was NEXT weekend.  I was going to drive down to visit both Mother and Grandmother, but I just don’t have the fortitude to do it this weekend, and I really don’t have the money if I’m going to Warlord over Memorial Day weekend.  So, I may try some time in June.  But, I really don’t want to drive down to Texas any more than I have to this month.  I’m going to have to try to see Glenn some time.  I was thinking to try June, but Father’s Day is almost always the weekend of King’s College, and I just may have a chance to make it this year – it’s in Houston.

 

Speaking of collegiums, I need to talk to Tyg to see what we can do about the Kingdom Bardic Symposium.  Wish me luck.

 

**grin**

 

Oh, I also finally installed the wireless network in the apartment.  Much better signal now – especially since the Cingular signal from my card is really BAD.

 

This weekend I’m sleeping in – I feel terrible – lost my voice.  Fortunately, it is a weekend, so I don’t have to harp on my voice by talking on the phone all day.  This happens twice a year for three days at a shot – in the Spring when everything is spawning, then in Fall when everything is in spore.

 

I’m much better today – my voice is not entirely gone, but it may still go – it usually is by now.  I’ll be fine by Monday.

 

May 10th, 2007

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Well, the first weekend of May came around, and what did I do?

 

I drove down to Texas again to spend it with Elanore watching horror movies.

 

That week, though, Jackson and I went out.

 

Tuesday night, saw NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM, and OMG was it funny.  I had a great time with it.  I don’t usually go for the shiny-happy movies, but this one was really great.  We also had some INCREDIBLE Thai.  I’ve fallen in love with Lemon Grass soup.

 

Thursday was not a great day at work, and Jackson said that he said he needed a drink.  I told him I knew this great little dive bar.  **grin**  We went to The Boom.  And, we had a great time.  He beat me at pool, on of which is when I sunk and then scratched on the 8-ball.  **grin**  It was a Thursday night, so it was just kinda slow – nothing going on, and a slow crowd, which is the way I prefer it.  It was funny – as we came in there was a discussion going on about the attributes of a man having child-bearing hips – which was very funny, but not what I expected to be his introduction to a gay bar – but, then again, where else can you have the bar actively engaged in such a topic?  **grin**

 

I was there to keep an eye on him, which is good, because I wasn’t the only one casting an eye his way.  Don’t worry, Nicole – I took very good care of him, and even intercepted the pass coming his way.

 

Elanore and I had a great time over the weekend.  I decided not to go to Namron’s Beltane (but, it seems that everyone had a great time there).  I am going to Steppes Warlord over Memorial Day weekend, though – which means that I’m going to see FINNIGAN ELEVATED TO THE ORDER OF LAUREL ! ! !

 

**much and many girlie screams from both Elanore and myself**

 

I am braiding like crazy to give him some cording to pass out as largesse.

May 9th, 2007

May Article

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And, let us not forget the May article for "Bards at Large."

Greetings, Wiesenfeuer!

 

Our articles thus far have looked at where and how to do some preliminary searching for performance pieces.  Now, I would like to address how to learn a piece.  Notice, that I did not say “performance tips.”  Once you have a piece in hand, there are some intermediate steps before you finally make the step into the circle itself.  To take a turn on an old phrase: Familiarity does indeed breed content.

 

The very simple fact is that you can never really know a piece too well.  The first thing to do when you get a new piece is to read it.  Then, read it again.  Then, read it yet again . . . and again . . .  and again . . .  And, just keep reading it until you know it.  It really is best to familiarize rather than memorize.  This can make the very real difference between a recitation that puts the circle to sleep, and a performance that engages them.

 

There are a number of old actor’s tricks that can come into play here.  The first thing is to have multiple copies of your piece.  Keep one on you, and go over it in your spare time.  You be surprised how much free time you can catch a few minutes at a time – in the doctor’s lobby, waiting for a lunch or dinner date, when things get a little slow between calls at work.  Keep a copy by your bedside to read each night before you go to sleep.  Keep one in the “reading room” we all spend so much time in at home.  Make a recording on a tape or CD and play it while you are driving in the car – sing or quote along with it.  As you work your way through it over time, see how far you can make it through from memory.  You will find that it is remarkable how quickly you can pick up a new piece this way.

 

One of the absolute best ways to learn a piece is to write it out – not by typing on a keyboard, but writing it out on paper – over and over again.  Yes, it can be tedious, but it really is the best way I have found of learning the piece.  Another recommendation I can make when doing this is to learn the piece backwards – I know it sounds odd, but it is an old actor’s trick.  Divide your piece up into bite-sized sections or beats.  If you are dealing with poetry or song, it will many times be already divided up into verses.  If you are working with a story or dramatic speech, find the beats.  Begin with the last verse, and write it until you know it.  Then, move to the previous verse, and write both that and the last verse.  Do the same with each of the verses until you are writing out the entire piece.  This way when you perform, as you move through the piece, you will be moving into material that is more deeply ingrained.  It can give you a stronger and more confident finish along with a greater impact on your audience.

 

These are all suggestions, and I do hope they will be of help.  However, do keep in mind that no technique is automatic, and that in order to learn something, you will have to commit to learning it.  Remember, the way to Carnegie Hall is practice, practice, practice.

 

As for news bardic in the month of May, the Barony of the Namron will be selecting their title bard at Beltane.  As will the Barony of the Steppes at Steppes Warlord and Baronial Investiture, and the Shire of Mendersham at their Defender.

Any questions or comments are certainly welcome to bardsatlarge@yahoo.com.  Keep well, and remember to make a joyful noise to your kingdom!



The ensuing short week between visiting my Mother’s family and my Father’s family was only three days.

 

The weekend was spent with my father’s side of the family – my Aunt Joanne and my cousin Sarah came into town to see me.

 

I was going to visit Glenn that Friday, but his company has a major deadline, so he’s working twelve-hour days until something like the fifteenth.  We’ll have to delay, but we can spend a full weekend together that way.

 

The weekend was actually blissfully uneventful.

 

I made the compulsory visit to Half Priced Books – and hit gold.  There is an old Brit Sci-Fi series I’ve been looking for called “The Tomorrow People,” released last year on DVD, and I found the first box set for about twenty bucks.  I was incredibly excited.  I’ve started watching it, and it is just as good as I remember it from the old Nickleodian – when it was the network for kids.

 

**grin**

 

Sunday was spent having breakfast at one of the best Mexican restaurants in Fort Worth and the world: Joe T Garcia’s – My father’s treat.

May 7th, 2007

My Mother Explodes

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Now, the events on Sunday were the ones that kept me from posting for so long, and I must apologize.  But, the very simple fact was that I was not well after all of this.  I was in absolute tears by the end of it all, and was honestly wondering if I was ever going to see my family again.

 

This is not pretty.

 

In light of the previous entry, my mother has been under tremendous pressure – evidently with issues with my Uncle, finances, and with a number of family members in / out of the hospital, including herself.

 

But, Sunday I must have just said the wrong thing.

 

She had left some milk out on Thursday night when I arrived to leave some room for food they had picked up that night.  But, it was now Sunday – and I had only just noticed it.  I asked her why it was left out all that time, and she was obviously upset about something – and was telling me that she was going to throw it out because it was bad now – and I was just trying to find out why it was left out in the first place to go bad.

 

Well, she was actually ignoring me, and not answering me at all – and I was genuinely trying to find out what was wrong – but she starts yelling at me that I’m not listening to her, and that no one listens to her – and storms off down the hall to her bedroom.

 

In all honesty, particularly since this was my birthday weekend, I really didn’t want to spend the rest of my time with my family if it was going to be spent like this – and I packed the car.  My sister’s observation was that my mother was a prophet, and that’s just kind of the way that she is.

 

I realized something – that my family really just doesn’t hear what I say.  They really don’t listen to the words that come out of my mouth, and that they never really have.  My mother sees the world entirely in the context of her religious worldview, and cannot think of things outside of that box.  But, it is much more than that – she is considered to be (and I’m not joking) the prophet of the family, and what she believes must be true.  I kinda tell jokes that my mother talks to God, but it seems that the entire family is convinced that it is true.

 

By the time I had the car loaded, my mother had come out and my Step-Father had spent some time talking, and my mother wanted to talk to me.  We sat down, and she started pounding on me that I wasn’t listening to her – even though I was trying to ask her what was wrong, and she ignored me repeatedly.

 

In short, everyone really ended up yelling at everyone at the same time – and I just couldn’t take it anymore.  My rationale was, ironically, from my mother and from Proverbs: ” Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife,” and there was nothing but strife in that house and family, and I walked out the door, got into my car, and simply broke down in tears.

 

I wasn’t sure I was fully capable of making the drive home – I just started driving.  I called Elanore, who was not at home, but when she heard my voice she told me to go to her house (Matthias, her husband, was there) and wait for her.  The drive helped me to calm down.  She had the next day off, so we watched PENNY DREADFUL, and the world was much better.  *grin*

 

As an update, I have since heard from my family, and they were all saying that I am welcome there, and that they did not want me to leave.  I am very concerned about all of this right now.  I am now writing this about two weeks after the event.  I will be seeing them again, but I don’t want to stay with them next time I’m in town.

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