Saturday, February 11, 2006

Wikreative Anachropedia

I stand before you as a mountaineer gazing up at a rock face. On the Matterhorn. Or Everest -- one of those real tough mountains. (The Matterhorn is tough, right?) I'm going to attempt to do justice to Wikipedia's entry on the Society for Creative Anachronism.

How does a person decide what to do here? The whole basis of comedy is setup and punchline. With the SCA, it's all punchline. Take this paragraph from the 6,389-word entry:

SCA members each create their own persona. For some, a persona is simply a costume and a name, an alter-ego for a weekend costume party. [Dilettantes!] Others craft an elaborate personal history of a medieval person ... opening the door to years of scholarly research and hands-on re-creation. ... Members may attempt to remain "in persona", speaking only of things that their period alter-ego would know about ... They may use code terminology to refer to modern or "mundane" items such as automobiles ("chariots" or "wagons", sometimes "dragons") or telephones ("farspeakers"). A certain amount of cognitive dissonance is accepted, such as when dealing with an 8th-century Norseman wearing eyeglasses and a wristwatch.

For God's sake, what am I supposed to do? I mean where do you even start. Maybe with the "years of scholarly research" all so you can walk around dressed as an 8th-century Norseman in glasses calling phones "farspeakers." Or with the idea of referring to non-Medieval stuff as "mundane." And this is just one paragraph! I haven't even gotten into the political -- sorry, "political" -- structure, "sub-groups from the local Barony up to the Kingdoms." Or the niceties of clothing, which "may range from a polyester-blend T-tunic for a newcomer to a hand-embroidered and beaded Elizabethan gown ... that may take more than six months to complete." Pity the duffer in the poly blend T-tunic!

I guess the best (i.e., worst) stuff is when they get all pompous and persnickety about trivial things. The act of dressing up in a poly blend T-tunic (whatever the heck that is) is certainly no stupider than most if not all American pastimes. (NASCAR, anyone?) But when you start getting bent out of shape over silly legalistic stuff, it becomes painful. Viz:

"Following a major revision of the SCA's rules for heraldic submissions (known, ironically, as the "Modest Proposal"), SCA armorial bearings are now checked for conflict against only major coats of arms, devices and symbols that exist in the real world; and arms awarded within the Society itself." Well, thank bloody God. I was getting sick of my next-door-neighbor flying my "Ye Olde Dogs Playing Poker" standard without my say-so.

My brother nailed this problem in the email that inspired this post. Quoting from Wikipedia's entry on duct tape -- "The official SCA Weapons Standards just refers to "tape", so Gaffer tape is also used by many participants" -- (and that's another thing! Where do these people get off, larding up the duct tape entry with SCA trivia?) he wrote, "Very permissive, those SCA Weapons Standards. Allow all manner of bastard tape. Probably even tape miscegenation. That's why I started a new organization called the New Real SCA. Tape standards must be restored to our weapons!"

The New Real SCA? I like it. Sign me up!



Comments:
I just met someone who claims to be the founder, or one of the founders, of SCA. Also one of the pioneers of the Star Trek convention.

Nice guy, but I wasn't quite sure what to say, really...
 
...sorry, I misrepresent, I remember now. Not the Star Trek convention. Some large science fiction convention. Maybe *the* large science convention. Maybe Star Wars. Something.
 
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