Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks

Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks
Ethan Gilsdorf
Lyons Press, 2009

In my occasional series of brief reviews of mainstream books which mention or discuss the SCA, I've got two more at the moment. Gilsdorf's examination of the modern world of fantasy escapism discusses his own experiences playing Dungeons and Dragons as a young man, and interviews many gamers and enthusiasts of Tolkien and the like. Chapter 10, "In the Beer Line with the King" discusses the author's encounter with the SCA.

Gilsdorf approaches a visit to Pennsic with appropriate enthusiasm... he sews his own tunic, is unhappy with the result and tries again, with still inadequate results. One likes his approach; he doesn't just borrow some nice garb, he gives the thing a serious try. Once at Pennsic, camping with "engineers and programmers", he describes the experience: "Conversation at the camp was sedate. These were no raucous brutes or lofty knights. Order was paramount. A strict spreadsheet and chore book dictated who did what, when. The night I assisted with the cooking, a flowchart determined how and when to allocate resources like fire and prep time."

That caused me some amusement... I always wanted to organize Pennsic camp like that, but the locals tend to resist order. I'd have run it like a military operation if anyone had let me. Oh well.

The author makes the same point as Benjamin Nugent (below): discussing the matter-of-fact and unapologetic knight he quotes at some length, he adds "He was a geek in jock's clothing."

Gilsdorf's take on the SCA is sympathetic and accurate. It makes for an enjoyable read... enough so that I'm going to buy my own copy of this one.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Science and the Middle Ages

James Hannam has written The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution. In an interview at the Daily Caller, he explains his thesis, that scientific advancement was a continual effort throughout the Middle Ages, and that the notion of the medievals being ignorant and anti-science was an invention of writers in early modern Europe.

Lady Emma St. John RIP

Lady Emma St. John of Fearanne na Criche passed away on Saturday night, March 19. (This is from the FC mailing list.) I am very sorry to hear it, and condolences to her husband Lord Jon St. John. Emma was a kind lady and her generous travels to cook at events in the Flint area are fondly remembered. She will be missed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Forme of Cury Documentary

I just ran across this documentary about Richard II's The Forme of Cury on YouTube, courtesy of the ever helpful SCA Today website. It is apparently part of a series starring Clarissa Dickson Wright, more famous perhaps for being half of the Two Fat Ladies cooking show partnership. I actually have never seen any of it, but I have one of their cookbooks and have made a lot of use of it. This documentary is quite good... the pickiest authenticity nut might have some acerbic comments here and there, but I particularly enjoyed the swing music during the costumed medieval cooking scenes and the sight of stuck up young Richard watching protests on television and switching them off in a huff!

Wright is respectful and informative about the recipes and altogether fun to listen to and watch; she serves three dishes from the cookbook to a panel of medievalists and others at the end and they're obviously having a great time. I've cooked two out of the three dishes myself, and am anxious to try the Roast Goose with Sauce Madame.