Wednesday, August 22, 2018

I have seen the Elephant...

Nay Fewmets, I was verily at the appointed place…  Kitted up, shield freshly re-painted, surcoat cleaned and mended, cup holder and cup in place, armor dickey fastened, emergency tasset and…

What?  You don’t have cup holders where you’re from?  Must not have sports fans either.  Yaknow, atheletic supporters?  Not beer bottle holders.  Cup?  That molded piece of plastic that hurts after wearing it for 1x6 hour  shift followed by 2x8 hour shifts after a weekend of 2x8 hour shifts.  And I prefer the banana nose version vs the flat version, less overall  pain over long term use.  Ladies wear ‘Jills,’ which are armored pads that cover down there.  Have we reached TMI overload yet?

Armored Dickey?  Dirty minded people.  No.  See, when you’re wearing a standard gorget, and not a Spanish Gorget, the neck and part of the clavicles are covered.  Spanish gorgets..  Okay, okay.  A gorget, pronounced gor- (as in gorgeous) and jay (as in the bird), so gor-jay.  Not gor-get or gor-gert.  It’s French.  Okay?  Gorget is a piece of unattached armor that covers the neck, worn over the protective padding or in addition to a maille head covering (either attached to a maille suit – a hauberk or haubergeon, or as a separate piece of armor – a camaille.  Not an aventail, that’s a maille drape from a helmet…)  So your gorget is neck protection, okay?  Got it?  Stop giggling, darned it.  So yer Spanish gergert…gorget has a wide section at the bottom of the part that covers the neck that extends over the clavicles and down the cervical vertebrae.  My personal gorget was not of the Iberian variety, so I had no extended clavicle coverage.  So I made a panel (of pickle-barrel plastic, covered in black cloth) that served the same function as the front lower portion of a Spanish gorget.  Seriously.  An armored Dickey.  For my clavicles.  Dirty minded people. (Especially since I told you my dicky (sorry people, the whole lot of you) was already armored by the aforementioned non-beverage holding CUP!)  Yeesh.
A standard SCA type gorget (we call them dog-collar gorgets.)
See, not a lot of clavical coverage, but at your throat's covered.

This is a 'Spanish Collar' style gorget.
Neck is still covered, and now the clavicles are.
(not copywrited)

Tassets, by the way, are those armored hip protector thingies that, well, cover the hips.  Or, in this case, the area already partially covered by the little fireman’s protective cap, so to speak.  Okay, here’s the actual description:   Tassets are either single plates or segmented lames (strips of material, think Roman armor) that cover the hips and upper legs, split down the center and on the sides.  Worn either only on the front or both front and rear.  So, armor flappy things that hang down from the belt line.
The flappy things are tassets.
The solid skirty piece at the bottom of the breastplate is a fauld.

So, why the serious sounding post title connected to a weird discussion over weird armor for ouchy spots?

Because, it’s time for reminiscing about… The Hoggetowne Medieval Faire!  Yoikes and Away!  Hip-Hip, Jolly Good and all that.  Yep.  A friggin Renaissance Fair.  Weeee…  But not any Ren-Fair.  It’s the Hoggetowne MF!  So much Better!  
Holy Fish! A picture of SCA fighters with me in it at the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire!
I'm the one on the left, holding the white shield with blue frets on it.
Whoo-hoo!  Finally, proof I exist!
And notice the fancy quilted surcoat my mom sewed for me, white with blue frets on the skirt!
And my red(ish) belt!

So.  Long time ago, the City of Gainesville, Florida, in order to promote the beautiful Thomas Center and it’s gardens, decided to hold their version of a Ren-Faire, and since it was being put on with the help of the local Society for Creative Anachronism group, the Barony of An Crosaire, it had to be a medieval fair(e) so, well that’s how it started.

The first year was small.  The second year was a little bigger (and I was Friar Tuck, seriously.  The Tuck himself.  Wee!  Big Adventure!)  The third year the City got greedy over the Fair(e), and the SCA’s direct participation was removed and responsibilities shifted to the city, so they hired some beautiful lady (whom I was and am intimately acquainted with) to be the coordinator and the Fair(e) outgrew the beautiful gardens at the Thomas Center, with professional acts and stuff, not to mention the city workers who worked in Thomas Center B complained about the smell of elephant pee in their parking lot (Ha, you’d never think I’d get to elephants, did you?  But not those elephants, just wait for it.) (And who knew elephant pee soaks into cheap asphalt and lingers for months, bwahahahahaha.)

The next year, the beautiful lady moved the Fair(e) to the Alachua County Fairgrounds, out by the Gainesville Regional Airport (one of those airports, you know, found about every 30 miles or so, built during WWII by the Fed Gov/Military and then expanded over the years.  President George W. Bush landed there in 2004 in Air Force 1 and then immediately left this leftist puss-hole and drove down to The Villages below Ocala. (Seriously, the place is called The Villages, capitalized letters, lots of old fart conservatives live down there, no weird attack weather balloons, though.)

So, 4th and 5th years went well, the beautiful lady got un-contracted from her coordinator’s position, and we got to go to the Fair(e) as visitors and finally enjoy the sights and sounds, right?  Well, no. 

See, the Hoggetowne… Okay, side note.  At one time Gainesville, Florida was originally Hogtown, Florida.  Little known fact.  Also used to be a major crossroads for in-Florida railroads (referenced by the name ‘An Crosaire’ in the SCA Barony of the same name.  Subtle, huh?)

So, though the SCA local group was no longer running the HMF (whew, got tired of typing all that folderol) and instead shifted, like our Puritan fathers and mothers after they ditched socialism, to making money.  Filty lucre.  Dastardly dough.  Cretinous cash.  Get my drift?  Yep, on it like Venetian merchants on unsuspecting pilgrims new business prospects.  The local group went into selling delicious and refreshing liquid refreshments of the non-alcoholic variety (yah, sodas, so?  Wadya expect? Sekanjabin?  Really?)  And the real money maker, the Archery Booth(e). 

Archery?  Yawn.  Boring.  Been there, shot that, don’t see the point in it, right? 

No.  Not archery, but… Archery.  SCA Combat Archery-ish.  Shooting at stupid people brave knights in armor.  One Shot 50 cents, Three Shots a Dollar, Hit a Knight in the face win a soda…  It’s like it was drilled into me.. Oh, wait, it was, but I get ahead of myself.

Seriously?  Combat Archery?  What?  Okay.  The SCA fighting stuff is all about THE PAIN without THE DEATH, so no actual shooting real pointy arrows at SCA fighters, nope (though, in one spectacular failure of smarts someone actually did, but in a roundabout way.)  No.  We shoot at each other with what used to be wooden shafted arrows with 1 ¼” wooden dowel (closet rod) sections covered in padding and Duck Tape (of course.)  Used to be.  Then the powers that be finally allowed SCA archers to go to fiberglass shafts (Why?  Because some turd-burglers would go around stomping on the arrows and break them.  Go to a war with 300 arrows and leave with 15 or so.  Jerks, jerks are everywhere, even in an organization where Chivalry and Courtesy are supposed to be what we’re about.)  And with the fiberglass shafts came… Baldar Blunts. Named not after the Norse god who died from an arrow of mistletoe but instead named after Duke Baldar, who decided he could make a rubber and plastic ‘arrowhead’ that could be mass produced commercially and sold commercially, thus revolutionizing SCA Combat Archery.   Oh, and you are only supposed to shoot them from 30lb pull or less bows (and crossbows that meet specific draw-pulls and other technical garbage that I used to know but would have to go consult the SCA Combat Archery Dash-1 for the exact specs.)

Here’s a link to a friend of mine’s webpage where she and her husband sell the darned things.  She’s the cute lady Knight shooting one of them.  Those big shields with the Norse raven on them.  I ran one of those shield s.  For years.  Me and my V-shield were bestest friends and we were a force together.  Oh, here’s the link:  She also sells lots of traditional archery stuff.  If you do regular archery, especially non-compound bow shooting, she's a really great resource for stuff.
The UHMW head, cross section and finished Baldar Blunt.
Sick, sick minds thought these things up.

Look at the arrow head.  Yes, they hurt when they hit.
That's Sir Erika.  She owns the company that makes the blunts.
Those big shields?  That's a V-Shield, baby.  V as in Varagian.

So.  Combat Archery.  Hoggetowne Medievale Faire.  Archery Booth(e).  Armored people.  Beans used to wear armor.  Beans was talking about weird armor pieces and..

Yes, okay, alright, I used to get shot with blunted arrows at a friggin semi-Ren Fair(e) in January next to an airfield at a county fairgrounds where one weekend it would be friggin hot and the next weekend would be blowing 30mph and COLD!.  And I did this for FREE!  And FUN!  AND PAIN! OMG THE PAIN!!!

What?  What about all that armor, Squire Beans? (I r not a knight, I r a squire.  Titles matter, seriously.  Red-belt, not white-belt.  Further explanation in a future post, because sometimes the cart does come before the horse.)  What about all that armor (without the extra tasset hanging over the cup region and the armor dickey?  Well.  The first shot in a semi-armored place isn’t too bad.  Armpit, inside of thigh, side-moob, the clavicle region (my normal harness doesn’t cover my clavicles, because I didn’t allow people to hit me in the clavicles, duh,)  and the insole of my size 13EEE gunboat feet (for I had no sabotons (armored foot covers) the flesh behind the cup, first shot doesn’t hurt (much.)  But imagine.  Standing there, for at least 5 hours a day (meal breaks, bathroom breaks, wife breaks, it all cuts into armor time,) shot after shot hitting the thinly armored parts of one’s body, over and over again and OW!  So, therefore, the extra tasset where I normally wore no tasset and the armored dickey.  Still ended up hurting.  The target people can block shots with a shield except for face shots (face covered by armored grill) but still, sneaky bastige shots sneak in to nail the cup, the armpits, the inside of the elbow, my friggin FEET and so forth.  Hey, get shot in the same place enough times with a bb gun and it will hurt.  Trust me.

Oh, funny story before the funny story before the funny story…

You may have gotten that I have a bit of an attitude and a bit of a mouth on me, right?  So, one of the fun parts about getting shot in the parts over and over again is the heckling.  Not from the shooters, but from the shootees.  And guess who was the champion of the verbal cuts?  If you think it’s your dashing hero, Squiree Beans, yep, ‘tis I.  Master Heckler, Baron of the Burn, Lord of the Loudmouth.  Surprised?  No?  Okay then.

So.  Heckling.  Heckling is good.  Pick on the idiot man/boy with his girlfriend, talk about how you are sooo scared of the masterful power of the archer, the weak quivering arms, the shaky body, the useless tyrannosaurus wrists, the mincing steps, oh, I have nothing to fear from the guy in the (whatever) ball cap, but your girlfriend, she’s a killer.  And it works.  (Insert sound of cash register here)  Pick on their teams, pick on their choice of clothing (“Hey, You, you in the ‘Aeropostale’ jacket, do you know what that means, punk?  That means ‘Air Mail.’  Ha, ha at you, Double Ha.”)  Things like that. 

One year this kinda nice looking Gothy lady shows up and starts plinking shots down range and she… sucks.  The line workers try to help her, and she’s clueless, they’re clueless, clueless all around.  So I, being a man of Courtesy and Chivalry, step up from the target line and help her, mostly finger positions, holding the arrow between the middle and index finger, how to draw the bow, hold the bow slightly tilted to keep the arrow on it, how to pull, how to hold the bow so it doesn’t catch one’s… front, yeah, front and how to release.  She really was a good sport, kinda nice in  a pissed-off emo gothy way, had some issues with men I found out later.  So, I get her shooting relatively well, and then go back to the target line to get shot and I lay into her with the major heckling, not saying anything nasty, just, well, heckling.  Heckled her, the people around her, how Goths catch on fire when exposed to sunlight, things like that.  Oh, and I slaughtered the Emo Cultists (bunch of moody emo gothy teenagers who were talking smack and not backing it up, so GAME ON, BOYOS!  And I guess she had to stand up for her tribe, because she kept going back and getting more arrows (three shots a dollar) and plinking away and finally, after like 10 cup shots, 2 side moob shots, an elbow shot, two shots to the insole of my right foot, 5 right clavicle shots (this lady was the reason for the armor dickey, made it that night) and finally she nailed me in the faceplate.  Probably cost her $20 or so. 

Next day, there’s the Queen Emo Goth, in the line.  Spent like$40 shooting me that day, winning about 4 sodas and causing me to just about pee blood from all the cup shots, and she just about crippled me from pegging my toes and such.  (Hey, you try dodging one particular shooter while being targeted by 10 or more others.)  Following weekend, Empress Gothy is back.  Bout crippled me for life.  Thank God it was the last weekend that year, as I barely could walk for a week.

Next year, the sky darkened as Queen Empress Emo-ness of Goth is the first person on the first day.  She lit my fat arse up like a football stadium at 10pm.  Next day, Blam.  She appears in a cloud of fire and brimstone and blasts away.  Next weekend comes, and the Mistress of Darkness and Pain shows up, even more dark and emotional than ever before and she’s not aiming for the top-helmet, if you catch my drift.  She’d wait until someone else fired a non-face shot and I’d automatically block it with sword or shield (yes, you can cut arrows out of the air with a sword.  I’ve done it against an 80lb bow firing an SCA arrow (strictly against the rules, by the way) and it just takes seeing the launch and you’ve got a good chance of cutting it out of the air.) and then Darkness Herself would smash a shot in my nether region.  Over and over and over again.  She wasted about $50 on my waist region.  Finally, she stepped away, and I took a break. I asked her why, in the Name of God Himself, did she keep targeting my little soldier?  Her answer?  Her husband was now her ex-husband.  I went home that day and made my front-tasset while all my fighting duds was awashing (hey, I hate, hate, HATE putting on dirty fighting garbs.  It’s not like the washer and dryer weren’t not just right there as I headed into the house.)  So, next day, after about 20 shots from her that were not eliciting high-pitched squeels of pain, she switched to targeting my clavicles, which I had already armored, so then she switched to shooting me in the toes.  Witch.  Mean mean Witch.  All this time I am trying to banter and heckle and make fun of people and all I wanted to do was to curl up in a ball in a closet somewhere and cry in pain.  The lovely Mistress Andrew came by and talked to the Dark Witch of Emo Gothiness and after a brief time of laughing, the lovely Mistress Andrew gave the DWoEG permission to shoot me anywhere, anytime, and laugh about it.  I think the DWoEG left the Fair(e) that year feeling much better, almost as if there was an inverse correlation to the amount of pain I was in.  Funny that.

This sado-masochistic relationship continued for years and years.  I could always tell how the DWoEG was feeling by what particular place she was blasting that particular day.  She became quite a skilled shot.  So skilled that the Female Knight Lady who sells Baldar Blunts tried to recruit her to join the SCA as a combat archer just because she was so skilled at blasting through my defenses (hey, I wasn’t the best at offense, but no-one ever could say my defense sucked.  Beans was strong on Defense.) The DWoEG didn’t take up the offer, much to everyone’s chagrin.  Seriously.  She was that good.

About seeing the Elephant… Oh, yawn, it’s late, it will have to wait for another day…


  1. I see what ya did there. Hoist upon my own petard I am...

    Good post, much to digest here. Though I must say, when I saw the term "Baldar Blunts" I envisioned Vikings lounging around puffing on some fine weed and looking for munchies...

    1. What? What did I do?

      Well, in archery, a blunted arrow is one used for training or for shooting small game. (Yes, even in medieval times, they shot blunted arrows at guys in armor to train them to not get shot.) So. Blunt. It's an archery thing.

      I do know a guy who used his Baldar Blunts to kill squirrels and morning doves, firing them out of an 80lb bow. But he was/is weird, so...

    2. I actually knew that, I was attempting, with no success apparently, to be clever.

      You know what you did. ;)

    3. No, I don't know what I did... Okay, you got me. I suck at lying. Totally suck at it.

      And I hate it when perfectly good words get destroyed by idiots. Darned it.

    4. I dunno, you could have dragged this out a bit more. I am very gullible, er, trusting, I meant trusting.

    5. Oh, I was trying to be... blunt.

  2. Was the money needed that much? To endure that pounding year after year? One year and then no longer a customer would have been my decision.....good grief.....

    1. Well, yes the money was needed that much. To put on events (weekend gatherings) we (the group) needed money. And good groups made at least their costs back from the gate and food sales at the event (called 'Reservations' and 'Feast' by the way.) But, as good as my group (the Barony of An Crosaire) was/is, they suck at pulling in the numbers to break even. Thus, money from HMF to cover all their spectacular failures. Plus there's the weekly rental of meeting spaces for an hour or so so we can meet, and basic fighting equipment for to let people try out fighting and whatever levee the crown was/is putting upon our group for the upcoming war (arrows, wood or fiberglass, were/are expensive.)

      And, on a more nefarious note, it was the SCA equivalent of going to Ranger Hell Week in preparation to go to the Gulf Wars in Mississippi in mid-March. Kind of a way to build endurance. And to learn to block shots. And to look at cute ladies, but I get ahead of myself in my story telling.

    2. Let me clarify that last paragraph. For fat couch-potatoes, it was the SCA equivalent of going to Ranger Hell Week. More like going to a pro sports preseason camp as an actual pro athlete on the team that puts on the camp.

      I know lots of SCA fighters, who were better tourney fighters than me, who couldn't handle an hour of Archery Booth(e) hell. I could, and did, and still fought in the hour-long demo fight, and did set-up, break-down, helped collect the arrows when the booth ran out of arrows, taught fighting and arrow dodging to new fighters, helped instruct the new shooters. I didn't spend a lot of time on my tuckus. I used very good arch supports in my boots.

  3. Perhaps you would have been a less tempting target had you not said "your mother had a cold, wet nose." Even Goths tend to take that personally.

    1. There are just some things guys just don't say to a lady. Now, under their breath, while maintaining a fixed smile, they may be saying things that would make an old-school sailor blush...

  4. Replies
    1. Nein. Sir Erika. The other lady knights put the kabosh on 'Syr' or 'Dame' (there is nothing like a dame, nothing like a dame... so maybe they killed it for a reason.)

      The rank structure in the SCA goes from nothing to Lord/Lady to Honorable Lord/Lady to Sir Knight or Master/Mistress (Laurel or Pelican (Arts and Crafts or Service) then comes the royalty stuff and it really gets weird.

      So Erika was first Erika, then Lady Erika, then Honorable Lady Erika, then Yarlinda (Countess) Erika (royal title) and THEN... Sir Erika.

      But I so wish they had gone with the title Dame. But then again, that would have allowed me to sing a song from 'South Pacific' and that would have annoyed them.

      Knights, in the SCA, are the premier fighters. So a female knight could, and did, kick my ass. Or, after injuries, she'd just shoot me. But unlike the Goth lady, Erika would just shoot me in the face.

  5. So tell us all again just why you do this?

    1. Because I'm poor, a masochist and looking for cheep thrills? No. Not really. Because SCA fighting is the only sport I have ever enjoyed. Think of the archery booth like pre-season sports camp. Training isn't supposed to be FUN. Well, actually, being at the archery booth was fun. Lots of practice dodging arrows, trading insults, practicing fighting (when not getting shot) and finding out what pieces of armor need to be adjusted or changed or added.

      And... have you ever been to a Ren-Faire? The scenery is spectacular. Huge tracts of... Land. On display. And it's a place where tightly laced bodices and corsets are an accepted fashion statement. So, well, the huge tracts of land are prominently displayed. And commenting and openly leering are (or were) allowed. Because it's a safe spot. Seriously. Lots of armed people who know how to use their various arms to inflict pain and death even before the cops show up, and then we'd leave the remains for the women (aka Bannockburn, or Afgan Plains.)

      Seriously. All in good and safe fun. While wearing armor. And hitting other fighters. Did I mention the Emo-Goth lady was cute? And she had the clearest, palest skin...

    2. Cheap thrills. Not cheep thrills. Though a bird was shooting me, so to speak.

  6. You're an interesting man, Brother Beans, an interesting man. Peculiar interests but interesting.

    1. This is just the prelude to the story. And the questions people are having about my sanity will almost merit a whole post by itself. Y'all have set a high standard at story telling, just trying to get near those standards.

      As to my interests... Flat feet kept me out of the Army, along with my inability to be more than an hour away from a bathroom, along with severe allergies to weeds, grasses, trees, mold and mildew. Which pretty much destroyed my ability to do anything military. Along with a bad back and so forth. Had to get my physical torture in somehow.

  7. I went to a Ren-Fair once. Since you were supposed to be in costume, I went as a plague rat.

    1. Sometimes those are the regular Ren-Faire workers. When even the gypsies call you 'Ren Trash' you've sunk to a new low...

      Why not as a badger? Europe has badgers. But then the 'king' would say, "Badgers, we don't need no stinking badgers." And you'd have to kill him.

  8. Plague rats were more historically significant.

  9. Do you make your own mail? I make 1/6 scale chain mail. I find my paws ache after several hours of making rings, and linking them together.

    1. I am gifted with gross motor control. Fine motor control is iffy in most days. I do have a riveted mail hauberk. Bought from some guy who most likely sources them from India or Viet Nam. I got it right before life exploded and never got to wear it.

      As to plague rats, yes, historically more significant over badgers, but badgers are so much more dignified, except for those drunken honey badgers, that is. Proper European badgers? Good upstanding citizens of the world, they are.

  10. But I am an American Badger. American Badger's believe in Sea Power, and radar controlled 16" /50 MK 7 Mod 0 fire. We are eriudite, cultured, and violent. But we still retain the basic cuddliness that Badger's are renowned for.

    1. Well, one of those rounds might actually get an Atlantian knight to call a hit.

      I, too, believe in the power of big, grey American rifles. Having seen what 14" rifles will do to a ImpJap bunker made of coral concrete.

      As to American Badgers, I know one who sings every song like it's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." Seriously. "Greensleeves" sounds like TWotEF. "Panama" sounds like TWotEF. "The Star Spangled Banner," yep, sounds like TWotEF. Must be one of those Russian/American badger mixes. Hmmm. His name was/is Rurik, so...

      And, now, I have an image of badgers, in dungarees and little white sailor caps, loading rounds and powder bags in a massive turret, while others have those weird old style microphones in front of them while working those old school analog computers that still to this day work so well. Gah. Weird image. Bet the guy who draws "The Whiteboard" could do some really neat images.

  11. Well, BB-64 is the Big Badger Boat!


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