Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Romanticizing the Renaissance

Scott asked me to write him a paper for his medieval studies class about the South Carolina Renaissance Festival. Foolish Man.

Romanticizing the Renaissance

The term Renaissance usually refers to a period in European history between the years of 1350 to 1600, during which there was a flowering of art, literature, and scientific exploration. It’s too bad that none of this exists at your local Renaissance festival – or even the one that’s three hours away. As far as I can tell, the appeal of these festivals arises from some kind of group delusion during which participants romanticize the era in three ways: societal simplicity, mental and emotional escapism, and outward expression of ego.

At these festivals, history and Dungeons & Dragons fans crawl blearily from their darkened homes to a fa├žade of a wooded village where the air is filled with verbal and musical merriment, the smell of port-a-potties, and the ethereal chime of cash registers. “Merriment,” in Renaissance-speak, must have been defined as “merciless taunting.” Every failed actor hired by the festival shouts insults and come-ons at patrons to give them an authentic Renaissance experience. No wonder everyone carried swords. A few well-timed public beheadings were the only way to shut up these bastards.

The “privies,” as they were so lightly termed by the site’s owners, are disgusting – but they’re still cleaner than most mothers’ kitchens in the Renaissance. Nowhere in the festival is there any mention of marauding raiders, rampant disease, nearly universal poverty, and early death – the infant mortality rate was a healthy 50 percent. Finally, fans though they may be, most of the participants are pretty ignorant of the real history and culture the festivals celebrate. They think, despite the reality of history, that medieval and Renaissance England (one and the same thing to most festival-goers) was a cheerful, verdant theme park filled with only high-class (never peasant class) Hobbits and Heroes… Then they dress like them, and that is the reason the male patrons have never seen a real vagina.

Finally, for those who have not experienced a festival of this type, I recommend before you leave that you mortgage your home and sell your blood. The cost of admission, food, drinks, and crafts explain why malnutrition and homelessness were rampant in this time in Europe, considering that adjusted for inflation, a turkey leg cost approximately the same for peasants as an Xbox, and who can afford to buy three $200 squares a day? Also, because authentic nerds created the merchandise, and nerds are smarter than me, they have perfected the art of how to make me want pappy crap I would never be able to use in the real world. Case in point: a $110 checkered skirt that they had cleverly disguised as a “kilt” – from which my wife, Stacey, had to drag me kicking and screaming. Thank god Stacey had possession of the bankcard, but she left it unattended shortly after we returned and now my hallway and dining table are clad in plaid because I intended to make my own kilt. Since I don’t know the first thing about sewing, I may have a new tablecloth. I hope my wife likes it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


We’re having a Halloween party, and costumes are preferred. I hear Scott on the telephone: “My wife and I are both dressing up.”
I look at him incredulously.
“Oh, really? What am I going to be, honey? A beach ball?”

Later, as I’m lounging half naked on the couch, a vision of myself materializes in my mind.
“Hey, honey, I figured out what we could do for Halloween costumes.”
“Oh, what?”
“I can be Jabba the Hut, and you can be Princess Leia.”
He spits smoke out the door, laughing.
“No, I don’t think so.”

Monday, October 25, 2004


I hear Alicia walk in the house. The last time she wandered in I was taking a nap, naked, in the bedroom.
“Are you home? Are you naked?” she calls.
“No, I’m not naked!” I reply from my computer chair.
“Damn!” she says. I laugh.
“I’m very pregnant. You don’t want to see that naked.”
Scott walks in behind her.
“The most beautiful thing in the world is a pregnant woman.”

Yeah, he’s a keeper.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

It's a Dog Bark Life For Us...!

I think everyone should have a theme song. It makes life more enjoyable. You can be tromping along, having a bad day, hating life and all the people in it. But if you write a really excellent theme song for yourself, and you remember to sing it at your challenging times, the whole day seems better.

One of my most challenging times is when I have to clean up yet another steaming pile of "I-Gotcher-Housebroken-Right-Here" Barkley's or "Hey-Barkley-Did-It-First" Scrabble's dog poop. He's catching on, but verrrrrrryy slooooooowly. So I wrote a theme song for the moments when I want to rename one of them Jimmy Dean and send him to the sausage factory.

Scrabble's is sung to the tune of "Modern Major General" from "Pirates of Penzance"

I am the very model of a modern doggie scrabbler
I chew and then I poo I tell you I am not a dabbler
I run and hide and jump and scratch
And then I try to smell your snatch
I am the very model of a modern doggie scrabbler
And when it rains I refuse to become a doggie drabbler
And happily eschew the potty training of my handler
And I will not learn to play catch
For tricks and such I am mismatched
I am the very model of a modern doggie Scrabbler

Barkley's is sung to the tune of "Old Man River" from "Showboat," because he has sad eyes and whiskers like an old man.

There's an ol' man called Barkley
That's the ol' man I'd like to be
What does he care if the world's got troubles?
He only cares if his food bowl's empty
Ol' Man Barkley
That Ol' Man Barkley
He don't know nuthin
But keeps on barkin
He just keeps rompin'
He keeps on stompin' along
He don't chase squirrels
He don't catch mouses
And them that gets 'em
Don't have dog houses
But Ol' Man Barkley
He just keeps rompin' along

Appetite for Consumption

I was reading the "Expectant Fathers" book I gave to Scott for his birthday. Men think facts, figures, and stats are crucial, so it's chock-full of how bigs, how longs, what volumes, and how much time kinds of information. Anyway, the book told me that, right now, the baby is a foot long.

Made me want a hot dog.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Band Aid

Scott is all excited about his new band. They've written a few songs, and are practicing. I haven't heard them all play together, but I've heard one of their new songs with just Scott and Riley, and it's pretty. He came up with a name for the band and pitched it to me: "Triple Screw." He said it was something about early 20th century maritime boat speed rankings. I said it sounded like porn, a cocktail, or a Lynard Skynard cover band. He said it did not, that it had several meanings, and that people would think about it. But when he pitched it to the band, Riley said, "Like porn." Ha. Why does anyone even bother to question me?

Actually, the band liked it.