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Helmet Head

I purposely picked the most ridiculous trailer style possible to make this video. Enjoy!

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They're good with lances, if not with hyphens

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The Sophomore Invasion

It's finally warm and nice out. And of course it's almost the end of the semester, so some people, like Ross, are in a crush to get their big final projects finished. That left us tonight with nothing but grey-haired guys at Thursday night UVa practice. No worries, we'll just knock around a bit, experiment with my compact camera which I bravely mounted to the front of my helmet, then call it a night after some bruise exchange.

Along the way, one ebullient young undergrad wandered by on the way back to the dorms from dinner as Philip and I were taking a break. She asked what we were doing, and after explanations was very excited to find that we were (theoretically) part of a UVa CIO. Throughout the rest of the evening, there were many calls of "What are you doing? What is this?" replied to with "It's a CIO!" 

Seems like being a CIO makes even armored guys beating each other an entirely relatable thing.

Ebullience turned into excitement when offers to let her learn how to do it came up, and an interesting effect made things snowball: Once our Patient Zero (shame on me for not recalling her name) started participating, hardly two minutes could pass without a friend running up and asking what she was doing. So before I could say "form up a shield wall" I was no longer just knocking around in armor at at a practice/sausage party; I was teaching five smart, sharp, athletic sophomore-ish co-eds how to throw flat snaps, all while they swapped around trying on my helmet.

It was a level of enthusiasm and exuberance I've rarely seen, at once unexpected, welcome, and sadly greeted with a bit of cynicism as there is more than a little chance we were dealing with tourists. There were many comments of "So is there a list serve?" (Suggesting real interest.) And "My least typical Thursday night all year." (I had to reply "Not for me.") 

To balance out the tourist observation, I definitely saw the potential for great fighting from at least one of them, and all of them could authorize without much trouble. But then this is a regular thing: Over the years I've seen more than half a dozen kids start at this practice who could be dukes (or duchesses by their own hands) with a few years of helmet time. It's UVa: they're ALL smart. But some are so very, very physically gifted. Moreso than I ever was. If only they stayed with it!

One generational change I noticed for the first time tonight. Can't say if I just didn't pick up on this change at earlier practice, perhaps it was the sudden influx of FIVE enthusiastic women all at once. Approaching a group of four men practicing, all of them at least ten years their senior, not a one of them asked "Is this something women do?" They all assumed that women did. They all assumed that they could. 

As they should. They were all good students tonight.

Tonight's videos are odd, all just the tops of helmets. I'll nevertheless post it tomorrow. Here's the only picture I took with my camera that does really poorly in low light. The new students took many, including some fetching ones combining gang signs, my helmet, and gym shorts. Perhaps they'll come back and share them. I did hand out some business cards.

Blurry pics of the sophomore attack.

I have some lovely McDavid Padded Shirt hexagonal outline bruises to go with tonight's mail shirt bruises. And if my helmet smells of perfume, I'm sure Kit will understand.

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The Passive Aggresive Raven

Nevermind.jpg

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WANT

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SilentStageGallery.com [From “Raven” Hand-Embellished Art Print by Mathew Curran ]

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Shedding light on the Black Death

What’s more, DeWitte says, recorded symptoms from the Black Death don’t entirely match up with those of modern plague. ... The differences are striking enough that some scientists, including DeWitte at one point, have suspected that the Black Death might not have been caused by plague at all. ... Ultimately, that’s the question that makes last month’s discovery of a new Black Death cemetery in London so important.

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The Third Tournament. Amazing how far we've come.

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Ugo Serrano: armorer

A man who camps at the Pennsic war in a 15th Century Italian villa (hat he built/designed that also flat-packs for storage and transportation). ... A man whose art helped begin the entire steampunk movement, yet he's almost unknown outside of the SCA, where his themed parties are as legendary as his tent. If you catch him at the right time, he'll give you a pilgrimage badge that he cast in pewter by hand, just for taking the tour.

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Video from Defending the Gate

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Defending the Gate: All over now but for the groaning

I've had a hot shower and a delicious meal from Barbecue Exchange in Gordonsville on the way home. I've got a glass of wine and a quiet evening, so here's a recap of the day.

I was surprisingly successful at putting all my gear together, considering the number of times I've loaned pieces out since I last fought--which was Pennsic. I don't recommend seven months off and then fighting hard for four hours. Tomorrow won't be fun, but I'm really going to hate Monday.
After rendezvousing with Philip along the way and stocking up on Girl Scout cookies, we made it to the site in typical SCA time: 30 minutes late. But the fighting hadn't started yet. I didn't finish arming in time for the first melee, but only because my fighting pants had lost their drawstring and getting a new one in them took an embarrassing amount of time.
But before the arming up mess, I had a chance to place my Jakks Action Cam at the top of the gate, with Turgeis' kind permission. Having now looked at the footage, it isn't great, but I'll cut a few bits together later and post them to my youtube channel.
Turning on the camera. With my polearm.
As ever, the Gate itself was a centerpiece, the thing that makes the fighting at this event unique. I missed the last year or two, so seeing the gate in its current incarnation was a treat. In the past it was rarely up to the hard use it got, but this gate is, as the builders proudly proclaimed, quite over engineered. There wasn't even a wobble this year. The worst thing that happened with it was my putting my backup dagger and mace on top, only to come back for them later and discover they had fallen inside, where they could not be reached before taking the gate apart.
Luckily it wasn't much of a backup weapon day.
On one attack of the gate defenders, I had a spear & ended up tangling with a shield man, using the haft to pin his arm as I maneuvered closer. Ultimately I ended up completely inverting the spear to face thrust him. But my favorite moment was in the three-sided open melee with the gate as the victory condition. I got behind the Wolfshaven team guys and commandeered them, ordering their remaining forces forward into the warm embrace of my teammates.
In one of the open field battles I misjudged the range of a Galacian warhammer and got hit right off the bat right on the top of my flat helmet. Hardest blow I've been hit with in years. Perhaps the power of the blow was in part due to my having stolen two spears from the fellow earlier in the day.
My brother Justus was on fire today, easily earning a Shark's Tooth from His Majesty.
With the siren call of barbecue to urge us, we took off just as court started, like two dumb stickjocks. Many thanks to Turgeis and Sunniva who offered us fabulous hospitality the moment we arrived, and to everyone who made the event work.
My last thoughts? I should fight more. Unusual melees are fun. Robear's spear tip works great. Peanut Butter Patties are surprisingly good with cheap box burgundy. And I should be in bed.

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