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Finding the right pub

Finding the right pub is one of the most important things in life. It’s something that can happen right away, or take quite some time. The key part here is to find a good location, with a good atmosphere and people you can really relate to. The establishment should be run well, and those in charge should have a clear focus on doing their best to ensure everyone has a good time and enjoys themselves, while also having a good time themselves. It’s also very important to have an open environment, where anyone can voice concerns to the management or others in the bar and work out any issues without it resulting in a fight where the cops have to be called, or worse, an ambulance.

However, the MAJOR key here is the people. People who GET you. People who are there for a variety of reasons, but value having a good time and letting go of the crap in their daily lives. People who can give you advice, or listen to yours with an open mind and respect your opinions. Not at all an easy thing to find. For me, one of the biggest things is feeling not only accepted there, but wanted there. Those at the bar, people I respect and whose company I enjoy, wanting me to come down there as often as possible simply because they enjoy my company, is one of those things I find incredibly important. Along with that, truly being appreciated for who I am and any help I give is also huge. For me, these things are important for reasons that many who know me don’t really know about. I was one of those who never really had this. Most people, during the majority of my life, were….less than accepting of me. I was mostly disliked by my peers, with the exception of the choice few, and even then only very few gave enough of a shit to really try to understand me and value what I brought to the friendship table. Many times I was just treated like the entertainment. I was the dancing monkey, the court jester, and everything in between. So, because of this, I never really had a place where I felt like I fit in. I could adapt to sort of fit here or there, but it never really felt right. It was like being a multifaceted key, where one side would fit one thing, but the other sides wouldn’t fit it at all. It made being in certain groups both fun and taxing at the same time. A few groups fired on more than one cylinder, but not many, and most times it wasn’t the core cylinders that really matter. This all changed, of course, when I found just the right pub.

Now, I can let myself be me, and not only is it ok, but it’s enjoyed…sought after, even. Sure, I have had friends before who felt this way, but having people who are virtually strangers to me feel this way has had a slightly different effect, and this little difference ended up making all the difference (fuckin A, I use that word a LOT!). This isn’t to say that my friends aren’t as important, or haven’t helped me and healed me in ways, because they absolutely have. This is more to say that even though you have great friends, finding a group of people who know fuck all about me, and having them not only welcome me but want me around, despite me really being myself around them, heals a very deep and very old wound inside. A wound that’s never started truly healing because of how specific it is, and how rare the treatment for it is. Finding the pub you can call home really really doesn’t have much to do with the alcohol, since you can find that in a variety of other places, or even on your own. I can go elsewhere and have scotch, or learn about rum, or whatever. But that right pub will make all of it so much better, so much more gratifying, and more fulfilling than any self discovery of such things. I finally feel like I found mine, and hope I’m not jinxing myself by writing this. I can not only be myself, but I can be who I want to be when I’m there. I can genuinely be me, all beliefs and thoughts intact, and all core cylinders firing. It’s a freedom of sorts, and I’m diggin’ it right now, so much so that I take great pleasure in giving back in any way I can. Truth be told, even if something does happen to fuck it up, at the very least it will have given me hope that this is something that CAN be healed, and that’s far more than a scarred and beat up cynic like me could have ever hoped for. For that, I will remain eternally thankful.

Enjoying the thaw

This past weekend the Lish and I attended an SCA event called Mudthaw. Lish had been feeling under the weather a few days prior, but we made the trip regardless because one of the members of our house, Ivan, was to be knighted at this event. It was an awesome time. We watched the fighting, attended courts, attended his vigil (I’ll explain), and even got to participate in Ivan’s procession into court. Pretty cool stuff, and it reminded me more about why I enjoy this as much as I do.

We started the day helping set up. As you’d expect, things were a little hectic, but those in our household banged it all out without any major issue we were aware of. We headed over to morning court after awhile, and waited for Ivan to be called up. Now, if you’ve read my diatribes and such before, or know me personally, you know that I’m a sloppy mess over things such as honor and respect and whatnot. I still can’t watch The Last Samurai without full-on ugly crying at the end, complete with smeared snot across my face like horrible mucous war paint a-la Braveheart. So when I saw his face, and it dawned on him what was happening, it got me. I’d seen him involved in quite a bit in the short time I’ve known him, and he always seemed to just do what needed to be done without any drama or bullshit. I’d spoken to him about stuff as well, like fighting, armor, leatherworking, etc, and he was always warm and welcoming to me. As such, seeing the comprehension on his face, and the visible rush of emotion that hit him, was awesome! As he walked away, he was in a sort of shocked daze. Honestly, he looked like he was just proposed to by the love of his life. That’s one of the only times I’ve ever seen someone react as such. It made me so happy to see this.

Now, for those of you who are a bit confused, I will explain a few things, and hopefully I get them right. If I don’t, I’ll just edit this shit. At morning court, the king and queen called him up and extolled him, citing his accomplishments and his excellence of character. They then called up the Order of Chivalry, which is the peerage comprised of knights and masters at arms. A peerage is kind of like a group of earned nobility. You have one awarded for skill at arms, the Order of Chivalry, one for outstanding service, the Order of the Pellican, and one for the arts/sciences, the Order of the Laurel. There is more to all this, but that’s a basic gist. Anyways, at this point he is asked if he would pledge his fealty, accept the responsibilities, and join the order. After this, he spends the day in a vigil, where others can sit with him one on one and give him advice, congrats, etc. Following the vigil, he is called into evening court where he is to give the crown his answer, and if his answer is yes he is then knighted at court. Make sense? If it doesn’t, you can go to the SCA website and read up on that shit, cuz I’m moving on.

So after morning court, we watched a fair amount of fighting. Granted, most of this was for my benefit since I’m trying to learn this stuff. One thing I definitely learned is that I have a VERY loooooooooong way to go. A few years, I’d gather, before being able to really hold my own and possibly win once or twice. Also, I was loaned a fucking kick ass helm and gorget, which was passed to me through members of my household. This brings me one step further towards having enough armor bits to spar with. Anyways, we eventually made our way to the vigil to pay our respects. I must say I thought it was odd that it was called a vigil, because the only times I’ve ever attended a vigil was when someone died. Thankfully, Ivan was still alive when we got there. While we waited to sit with him, there was lots of awesome food prepared by members of the household, so I had enough bratwurst and meat pies to require a boatload of fiber to pass. We sat with him for a brief time, not wanting to take up time that he could spend with those he’s known longer and whatnot. We congratulated him and expressed our pride to be able to call him family, and then absconded to the bar for a pint, as we had no relevant advice to give him.

We hung out and talked to people for a bit, then eventually joined the procession to follow him into court when he was called. I must say, I always feel like I don’t belong in those. Not because anyone ever makes me feel unwelcome, quite the opposite in fact. I dunno, in my mind, I’m more of a nobody in the group. I haven’t been in this for long, and the only thing I really bring to the table would be sarcasm and alcohol. Granted, the alcohol is important, but still. I know the reason for this is that I believe being involved in such a thing is a place of honor, and honor is to be earned. All I’ve really done so far is ask an assload of questions and had people provide for me. I know, it’s my issue. I get that I wouldn’t be asked to be there if they thought as such, so I guess the better way to explain it is that I’m humbled by my inclusion. I still strive to find ways or skills to develop that would allow me to contribute more, but it’s a work in progress. Right now, all I have to offer is booze, horrible jokes, and the ability to pack a car.

Fuck, long tangent. OK, back on track. We followed him in, bowed, and then proceeded to the back to watch the fun. As if his emotion wasn’t enough, one person from each peerage Order had to speak on his behalf. Every person who spoke for him was choking up with emotion during their speeches, causing my “allergies” to go into overdrive. I found myself recalling why this game has allure to me. People are awarded for their honor, for the good things they do, and for the good people they are. Respect is shown, people are acknowledged, and honor is bestowed in a genuine way. It comes from the heart and the mind, and we all know that this is the stuff that really gets me. I watched and listened, all the while experiencing the storm of emotions it invoked. It was absolutely awesome, like being in person to witness such events previously only seen on film. Knowing those involved made it even more emotional and real. He rose up at the end as Sir Ivan, and we cheered and clapped for him. It was really cool to see, and to be a part of, even if only a small part of. Stuff like this is what makes this as much fun as it is.

So that was our experience. For both of you who read my blog regularly, if you have any questions, just hit me up in the comments. Vivat!

All Gussied Up

Last night I attended fighter practice for the first time in ages. What with band practices and the Lish doing derby, I haven’t been able to attend, but my buddy has been going pretty regularly. For here, since everyone gets a special name, I’ll call him Mick. He’s been collecting armor bits, he built a pell, and now has a set of loaner kit (kit=armor) to play with. When I showed up, he was already getting suited up, so I stuck to the pell for the first hour or so. After that, he was tired and sweaty as fuck, like he just got out of the pool at an abandoned hotel. Mick asked me if I wanted a go in the armor. I said yes, but not really to fight. I wanted to see what wearing armor was like: How it moved, how it restricted movement, how much it weighed, etc. While getting suited up, the fighter who was working with Mick, whom we’ll call Bob, came over and said that we can have a go when I’m all geared up. I figured why not. I remembered Hamish’s line from Braveheart when he said “Well, we didn’t get dressed up for nothin!”.

I didn't look anywhere near as badass in armor....

I didn’t look anywhere near as badass in armor….

The armor itself was a bit uncomfortable, which is to be expected with loaner gear. I have an odd body type, which means I have issues finding certain clothes. It also means that loaner gear it not gonna ever fit me right. The armor was thick leather. The top of it dug into my clavicle pretty hard on the right side, and the arms held me back from making good offside shots because it dug into my hand and wrist. Apart from that, and the copious amount of grody Mick sweat, it wasn’t bad at all. Visibility through the helm is something I’ll have to really work at to get used to as well. I’ll also need a helm that fits my heat in the right way. The one I borrowed, Mick’s, sat a bit low and I had trouble seeing high shots coming. To be perfectly honest, though, my armor was most certainly not my problem.

Once we began fighting, I was reminded of a few things.

  1. I’m a very defensive fighter. I know many newcomers may be that way at first, but I’ve been this way for a very long time. I’ve fought in martial arts before, and I’m always defensive. Hell, even when I play fighting games in the arcade, I have a defensive style. Gotta get outta that.
  2. My reflexes suck. I mean REALLY suck. I can’t even count how many times I got hit when I knew it was coming, but didn’t react in time. Because of this, I shall call my persona Internet Explorer.

    browsers-what-are-we

    FIGHTERS!!!!

  3. I’m physically weak as fuck. I pretty much always knew this as well, as I’ve never had upper body strength in my life. I have very long legs, and always had all my power there, and other arts and fighting styles incorporated the use of the entire body when performing a strike. Even a punch’s power, which many seem to think comes from the mainly upper body, actually comes from the hips and core. In this, however, it’s all isolated. Strikes come from the arm and upper body, so I hit like a mildly upset 3 year old in the midst of a hissy fit. Even if I was given a full opening, I don’t think I could effectively deliver a killing blow. Also, my left arm was very underpowered for effectively using my shield. After some fighting and teaching, one of the knights came over to teach me some stuff about shield movement. I could see he was getting a bit frustrated with me because I kept screwing it up, but at that point my arm was killing me and I just didn’t have the strength to get it done.

    My arms actually aren't as big as those depicted in this graphic....

    My arms actually aren’t as big as those depicted in this graphic….

I feel bad about being such a shitty student. I do try, and when I see them getting frustrated I do try harder, but I have a slight learning disability which can make it difficult sometimes. That, compounded with my lack of physical prowess, makes for a tough situation for both student and teacher. Still, they were all extremely patient and awesome. The guys I worked with were very open and kind, and really did a great job in making me feel as comfortable as possible through all of this, while also teaching me what to do, and more importantly, what NOT to do.

Me actually fighting. I'm the doofus on the right about to miss my shot and get blasted....

Me actually fighting. I’m the doofus on the right about to miss my shot and get blasted….

Overall, it was a great experience. I had a lot of fun, and I think if I can get my strength up I’ll have a much easier time learning. Keep in mind, though, I didn’t really get hit much. The only time I really got hit was when I asked Bob to hit me in the head hard enough to be a called shot. It didn’t really hurt, thankfully. It was more like….remember in cartoons as a kid, when one character would put a huge cast metal bell on the head of another and then ring that shit with a hammer like he’s mining for diamonds? It was like that. Not terrible, just different and a bit disorienting. So my takeaway from this is that I need padding, armor that fits a bit better, and strength training, but overall it was fun shit!

Been a long time since I rock n rolled

Wuzzzzzzaaahhhhhh

Wuzzzzzzaaahhhhhh

As some of you know, I dropped off the face of the blogosphere (I can’t believe I actually just used that ridiculous word) a while ago. Lots of shit happened since then, the biggest of which being my change to a new place of employment. I’ve had a bunch of stuff to write about, but just haven’t had the space or time at work to do so, and my personal time at home is pure insanity most days. I’ll try my best to sum it all up here, so bear with me.

rollerderbyarmstrongaq41

Lish showing off the guns!!!

First and foremost, the Lish decided to try out for a roller derby team. I’m, of course, fully supportive of this, being a straight male and all. She made it onto the team, and has been balls deep (metaphorically speaking) in derby ever since. She’s currently working on passing her skills test so she can be cleared to play in games, and I have no doubts that she’ll pass and kick ass. The team she’s with is great, with some real top shelf people involved, and I’m happy she got involved in it. I kinda wish some of my hobbies had the same feeling of camaraderie, but alas I have geek hobbies,  so the power playing and dick waving (again, thankfully, metaphorically speaking) is always prevalent. That brings me to my next point.

The forecast on audition day....

The forecast on audition day….

My bands have been in a sort of flux lately. The cover band is doing ok, and we actually played shows recently! The original project I was playing keyboards in took a turn for the worse. We lost our drummer and bassist, and have yet to find replacements. Our searching has so far turned up a large number of complete lunatics, wackjobs, and dudes who really need to learn what it means to say they play an instrument. Some dudes came in and just had no idea what the fuck they were doing. Some had personal issues, such as the guy who was pushing 50 and had to work out with his daddy, whom he still lived with, what nights and times he could come out to play. And some were just plain bat shit crazy, who looked like Bernie from Weekend at Bernie’s 2 having a seizure. Finally, my old original band has had some movement lately. We broke up a year and a half ago, leaving an album unfinished and without playing a last show. Recently, we all got together to discuss our next steps, if any, and we all agreed to finish the recordings and play some shows. Where it goes after that is anyone’s guess, but at least we have something good on the horizon. I’m honestly stoked about it, since this is really the only band I’ve been in that I really felt was “my” band. Here’s hoping something good comes of this.

Aside from that, it’s pretty much been business as usual. We’ve been attending a few SCA events, and enjoying that. I haven’t been to fighting practice really, with only one attendance since Pennsic, because the timing never really works. Lish usually has derby practice that night, and I’d rather save the sitter than go to practice. I do wish I was able to get into it, since whenever I see guys fighting at events I kinda wish I could suit up and join in for a bit. A close friend of mine got into it the same time I did, and is having a great time and really enjoys it. I must admit that part of the reason is me being grossly out of shape, as well as being not physically strong. Much of my training would just be straight up strength and endurance training, and let’s face it, I’m a lazy fuck. I’d much rather sit at my bench and rebuild PCBs than do squat jumps and burpees…

You've been warned...

You’ve been warned…

I’ve seen a few movies that I’d like to share my thoughts on, stuff like Snowpiercer, Europa Report, 5 armies, etc. I’ll do my best to get those going, as well as some other shit. I’m also going to post some more arcade related stuff on my other blog, so if you have any interest in that crap, give it a look. Otherwise, I’ll see you freaks around soon!

Pennsic 2014, the drunkening

So once again we ventured into the wilds of Cooper’s Lake campgrounds for a vacation of drinking, debauchery, food, violence, learning, etc, etc, oh just fucking get on with it. If you know me, which most of you do, you know I went to Pennsic again this year. This was round 3 for the Lish and I, and this time we spent an entire week there. Since you should already know what Pennsic is all about from my previous post, I’ll just comment on the highlights.

Pennsic from above. You can't see half of it because it's covered by trees. The white dots are the larger tents...

Pennsic from above. You can’t see half of it because it’s covered by trees. The white dots are the larger tents…

We once again camped with Honig and Serpentius. When we got to camp and met up with everyone, it was as if no time had passed, which is amazing in and of itself. The entire week was awesome, with no drama that we had to deal with in the encampment. We brought some more noobs with us this time around, and they all had a blast. We spent the week partying and relaxing, and really saw it for more than we did before. The interactions between people, the politics that go on, the honors that are given, and the victories that are won, all tie into what I now see as a sort of alternate universe. It’s like a dream world that we get to live in a week out of the year. We made even more new friends, drank way too much at a few parties, got caught in the rain and mud, and spent more than we could afford. Basically, Pennsic as usual!

Also, this year we camped out in a different tent, a SoulPad we purchased from our good friend Honig. It’s a 16′ round canvas tent, and it was awesome for Pennsic. We had plenty of room for our 2 oversized cots, 3 small tables, and all of our gear. It wasn’t as stifling during the day like a regular camping tent would’ve been, and it held up to the wind and rain rather well. We’re looking forward to using it again, especially since it’s cake to put up and take down.

Our new digs!

Our new digs!

One difference this year is that, prior to Pennsic, we requested permission to join the house of Serpentius. To our surprise and delight, we were voted in successfully and are now members of the house. We are deeply honored to be allowed to keep such awesome company, and are looking forward to more events and time spent with our now-fellow snakes. Hell, we even got a little teary when Omega and Rox came up to us after the ceremony to embrace us and welcome us into the household. Truly an awesome time!

Our new colors!

Our new colors!

Another great thing about this year was our first official court attendance. We didn’t really know what to expect, and were surprised at how awesome it was. There was a bit of pomp and circumstance, and it was definitely a serious event, but it still felt somehow light and laid back. Part of it was that the king and queen of our kingdom are absolute riots, and have no problem joking around as well as being respectable and serious. We saw Honig’s son get honored before the king, and it was a really great experience. Of course, for me, it really helped that I’d been drinking steadily for awhile, and I had a knight sitting next to me to answer all of my questions. I’d have been totally lost otherwise.

Breeder's coffee when creamer is added, magnified under a microscope....

Breeder’s coffee when creamer is added, magnified under a microscope….

Some other highlights of this year. Breeder’s coffee, which crept and walked on its own (sorta like the soot balls from spirited away), and got us going every morning in the most chemically violent way possible. If not for that, we’d have loafed the mornings away in camping chairs. The Loch Ness Monster beverage at Loch Laven, which after 3 pints of it left me thoroughly annihilated. The Roxy tear, an awesome night out drinking with the members of our household. The birth of the Serpentius Party Girls *throws up the shocker*. The knowledge that you may grab anyone’s ass so long as you say “good game” afterward. Napping in public can, and will, result in all toenails on one foot being painted with black nail polish. Talking someone into buying new armor can end up in looks of death from said person’s significant other, right up until she sees him in it and forgets her name for a moment. An entire week of not wearing underwear feels incredible and awesome, so long as baby powder or gold bond is readily available. SoulPads really ARE that much better than regular tents. We also learned that you don’t technically NEED to bow to the king if he’s running over to pants the duke running your household. And finally, we learned that when in short supply, two straight men will share a cheddar brat Lady and the Tramp style just to have some.

Yes, this happened. I left it on until the day we left.

Yes, this happened. I left it on until the day we left.

Oh, and mind your surroundings. We were heading to the car, and I was being vulgar with a bottle of Gatorade, making it appear to piss all over the Lish (we have a very “special” relationship), when we walked right past the fucking queen of the east kingdom. Something to note for next year.

So overall, it was an awesome trip. We made some new friends, reconnected with some old friends, and had a blast all around. All this, despite the fact that it rained most days we were there, and the whole place was muddier than our current political climate. It didn’t dampen our spirits, though, since other spirits were always a-flowin’! Anyways, returning back to our everyday lives was a sort of culture shock, and it brought something into stark contrast. At Pennsic, we are who we REALLY are, deep down. We are lighthearted, fun, silly, respectful, and we live every moment to its fullest extent. We’re happy, and not just because we’re not at work or cleaning up after the kids or whatever, but because being there allows us to be whatever we want to be. With that in mind, I chose to be the REAL me. I let myself go, and it was amazing. Being truly freed like that is something everyone should experience in their lives. It reminds us that being adults, and growing older, really doesn’t mean shit in the grand scheme of things. We’re all the same kids we always were, we simply get buried under piles of responsibility, stress, and anxiety from our day to day lives. When you can let all that go, you’ll find yourself. It’s not an easy thing to do, since we as humans tend to try to be in control all the time. However, if you can let your control slip, and release the fear of really being yourself around others, you may be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. This is a HUGE reason why being at Pennsic makes me so happy, it’s because I get to really be myself, and despite that, people enjoy being around me and welcome my presence. For me, that’s something I’ve always wanted and never got as a kid. To get it as an adult is probably THE most awesome thing! This is why I come home happy, and it helps me to appreciate my life more. Sure, it may be different for others, but this is what it means to me, so if you don’t like it, refer to the image below.

Haters on the left, me on the right!

Haters on the left, me on the right!

Cheers, from the Lish and I!!!

Cheers, from the Lish and I!!!

Fighter Practice – 3-27-14

I missed the past two weeks of practice due to illness and a rare viewing of Labyrinth in the theater. This week, the fighters had their monthly beau geste tournament. This is a local competition they do, where they all fight and crown a champ each month. Pretty cool thing, and fun to watch. I learn quite a bit observing how different fighters react in certain situations.

For me, this week, I just worked more on the pell. I started getting my striking speed up while maintaining accuracy, and I seem to be getting the hang of it, albeit rather slowly. I also learned a bit about how the wraparound strike works. I was able to get some off, but I’m really sloppy and need a ton of work on it. Overall, though, I think I’m starting to get the gist. I’d like to really boost my accuracy, speed, and comfort (my thumb was killing me) before really getting into armor. Some other shit has also come up in life, which I’ll discuss in another post, that may cause this to go to the back burner for a bit, which sucks. Time will tell.

Fighter Practice – 3-6-14

So last night I attended practice again. I actually learned a fair amount this time. Much of the previous outings were spent learning footwork, most of which I already have a good grasp on due to my martial arts background. This time, we worked on striking technique. The first basic strike I have a fair handle on, but this time we learned the other 3 basic strikes. It’ll take some getting used to, of course, but it was great learning from some of the guys who were teaching us this time, as they’ve been in the game much longer than our previous teachers. They definitely seemed more used to teaching.

We also went over some learning techniques which will be very useful, such as a few striking and footwork drills, and slow motion sparring. The latter was actually a really cool thing to learn, and is similar to one-step sparring in most martial arts, only done much more slowly. It gives a good idea and grasp on how your offense or defense can be exploited, and what to do about fixing that. If practices continue like this, then that’d be awesome since it was very enjoyable.

That being said, I also found that I have some serious strength training to do. After practice, my shoulder was fucking killing me, and I could feel the strain in my forearm during practice and after. We did go over some strengthening exercises, but all that shit takes time to happen. Still, it’s not like i’ll be fighting in any tournaments or anything, so I can totally take my time. I did get a kick out of when the instructor referred to “when we fight in tournaments”, or “during real battles”. I’m not about to let him in on the secret…

Finally, funny thing happened after practice. There is a woman who comes to practice and fights sword and board. She came up to my friend and I and asked for our names. Apparently, our given names are too difficult to remember, or just plain suck, so she looked for nicknames for us both. My friend mentioned that he’s just a big leprechaun, and I’m just some asshole. She decided that I am “Braveheart” (which I’m TOTALLY fine with!), and my friend will be “Leprechaun”! I was cracking up, since he obviously wasn’t happy about this, but he did it to himself! I’m not sure what’s worse, being named Leprechaun, or being named Otis, which is what we started calling him last time….Either way, it’s fucking hilarious!