Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Long two weeks (part 1)

Well, when I see a movie with a character running around all over the place screaming “its all too much”, I used to roll my eyes and say “God help me, would she just get a grip.” Well now I am in a position to feel a little... okay a lot more sympathy for the person in question.
The past three weeks have been rough on me. Rough in a good way, but still, rough is rough, and these were the embodiment of that definition.
Okay... where do I start? Oh, yet, let me highlight the project I have been working on. Right around the beginning of this month I was contacted and invited to interview the baronial candidates for the barony of Northkeep. The stated intent was to help make opinions and personalities more widely known across the barony so that everyone would be that much more informed during the polling.
I really don't want to go into too many detail, but if anyone is interested, the end results are posted here at my podcast website. I will point out that interviews are far, far trickier than I ever guessed they would be, and are much, much to actually conduct that a regular recorded show in my home “studio”. All of the candidates were wonderful to work with, and were phenomenal people to speak with on issues such as leadership, nobility and history. It was an honor and a pleasure to work on the project, and an absolutely amazing experience all together.
Oh, yeah.... that little event called “Ansteorra's xXx year celebration”.
As most of you will probably remember, I volunteered to coordinate list heraldry at the event back in August of last year. To be blunt about it, things could have gone smoother for me. Communication between list and site heraldry was almost non-existent meaning that my getting word out that I even needed heralds was an uphill fight against a mountain of circumstances.
I wasn't exactly at my best either; between the heat (104 was the coolest day I was there) and the fact that I was only six mouths out after surgery, didn't exactly bring out the best in me.
But, this isn't to say that the effort floundered. Quite to the contrary, there was something of a conspiracy between the tournament organizers, the fighters (light and heavy) and God himself that let me and my heralds actually manage to cover all of our bases. This is an e-mail I sent to the herald's list detailing my thanks to everyone.
Frankly, I knew I was in over my head when I got out of the [van]
Thursday night and was physically knocked back into my van by the
triple-digit heat and high humidity. I wasn't feeling 100% anyway, and
when I got to site that day, I was left wondering if 100% would have
been enough.

To be fair, the first people I need to thank are organizers of each
and every tournament. Without fail, these men worked with me so that I
had some handle on where my limited resources had to be, and where
they were not needed. When you have three tournaments going at the
same time, simply being told in advance that one of them doesn't need
heralds is a God send.

Then, I need to thank His Lordship Alden. Not only did Alden task me
with organizing the list heralds, but he was ready to help when I came
to him Friday afternoon on the verge of tears, overwhelmed by the
situation I already had, and terrified of what I was going to be
facing on Saturday when the rest of the expected attendees showed up.
I don't think that even Alden fully appreciates how dramatically
helpful his advice, calm composure, and well-though-out answers were
to me.

Alden... If you ever need a list herald, just ask. I owe you one.

Next.. Adena and her staff of water barrers.
Let me be clear about this. The temperature wasn't just triple digits,
it was dangerously high triple digits at times. I considered it my
personal duty to take care of everyone and anyone working for me.
Towards that end, when I pointed at one of my heralds and said “They
need water.” Thirty seconds later—if that-- it was in their hands. To
be frank, without the water barrers, Heraldry wouldn't have.

And now... the people who volunteered to work their tails off at my request.

HL Adalia.
Adalia was practiced at this when I first started butchering names a
number of years ago. By all accounts, I should have been taking orders
from her this weekend.

However, when I was in a pinch, it was Adalia who stepped in, took the
lion's share of weight off of my shoulders and said “Ivo, got get a
drink and come back in an hour.” And I could walk away knowing that
now mater what type, or how big the situation was, she could handle
it. But at the same time, she backed my calls, helped me where she
could, and didn't add conflict to chaos (something that is very easy
to do when people are hot and tired). A welcome addition to my team on
any day. Thanks!

Diana (and forgive me if I'm misspelling that name).
For anyone who noticed the rail-thin young woman who was marshaling
and heralding alternately during the rapier fighting on Saturday, take
note. Inside that featherweight frame is a lot of potential, and a lot
of perfectly good skill. While long time heralds like Adalia and
Myself can put on a theatrical flare to what we do, there is something
to be said for the rookie who is willing to stand up and just call the
list because there aren't enough people already heralding. It takes
guts to try, and it takes character to keep going after the inevitable
butchering of names. This young lady has both, and I look forward to
seeing her again, no mater what skills she pursues in the SCA.

When someone walks up to you and says they have never done this
before, there are three ways of looking at the situation. The optimist
says “Hooray, Blank slate!”. The Pessimist goes “God help me, I'll
have to teach this one everything.” And the pragmatist goes “Well,
lets see what he's got.” Depending on how cooked I was, I think I
caught myself (shamefully) saying all three of these things to myself
as I walked m'lord Arden through the basics of List heraldry during
the too-short gaps between rapier tournaments. I felt horrible that I
couldn't sit down and give him a proper walk-through talk, and then
walk him through the tournament process in something resembling a
calm environment. Instead, I was forced to take my typical ten minute
“on-the-job” training talk, and cram it down to about three minutes.
But guess what? Three rounds later, I saw Arden managing his own list
field, asking the right questions, making sure to drink water, and
staying in the shade, while the whole time conveying a calm expression
of professionalism. While I take full credit for teaching him he raw
information, it takes character to apply it, and it takes dedication
to stay with it as long as he did. Based on what I saw at 30th, I am
proud to call this man a fellow herald, and would be greatly honored
to call a list with him again some time in the future.

Another hard-working colleague from the north showed up on site in the
form of Lady Castellana. There is just something to be said for a
person who can project over a bunch of chatting fighters, and cry
lists for the better part of a tournament, no mater the heat. When I
was in a pinch, she was there, helping to shoulder the weight of the
job. For heralds, there are times where the best option available is
to just jump in to the fray, and hope you can outlast the situation.
Castellana was willing, and able, to do that on more than a few

One unfortunate sole I want to commend was m'lord Alexander; a teen
who was willing to herald, and wound up following me around site for
an hour while I tracked down help between tournaments. No sooner as I
started towards the rapier field than he was called away by more
pressing issues (I think his mother out-rank's me). But still, he
stuck to my side for the better part of an hour without complaint. And
that's worth noting.
Alex, sorry it didn't work out for you, but trust me, you don't have
to wait long in order cry a list at most SCA events. If you still want
to learn list heraldry, see if a local can give you the pointers you
might need. And then head to any event with a tournament, most of them
will be glad for the help.

Now, for the life of me, I must hold my head in shame for this next
part. Several people stepped up and helped to cry Crown tournament on
Sunday. Castellana being just one of them. Four others are men who's
names are lost to me, and for that I am truly sorry because they
deserve credit for their work. The bulk of Crown tournament was
characterized by list heralding over or through large crowds, in
oppressive heat with little to no shade close to the field. Most of us
were going on too little sleep at that point, and all of us got more
sun that we really needed.

I also want to make mention of the Landed Baron, (and Lion of
Ansteorra), who came forward and politely requested the honor of
crying the final rounds of Crown Tournament. I was told by many that
you are a master in this trade, and your performance did not
disappoint. Thank you for adding your skills to that day, and thank
you for adding another level to the dream with your cries. I look
forward to the chance to work with you again, should fortune grant me
that opportunity.

I not only think, but I am certain that there are names that were
probably cooked out of my skull by Sunday afternoon. If anyone knows
of these names, or is perhaps one of them, don't hesitate to say so.
You've earned that much.

List heraldry at 30th was, frankly, a lot of work, with not a lot of
people. Yet time and time again, people stepped up to the plate and
did their best. And often times, their best turned out to be well
above the minimum needed to get the job done. Each and every one of
these people brought the heart of a lion to their work. They stuck it
out, and saw things through. These are the types of people that The
Dream is built both on and for. To all of them, I want to extend a
heartfelt thanks for contributing so much to 30th year. The kingdom is a better place for your efforts.Thirtith year could have gone smoother, but it did come out on top, at least as far as list heralding went. It was an honor do serve the crown, and it was an blast managing the list heralding for the event, including the Crown Tournament on Sunday. However, crown did take more out of me than most events. Between the extremely high heat (like I said, 104 was the coolest high of the three day stretch) I got home on Sunday afternoon was was totally and completely burned out. And as busy as the week was (even with Monday off of work to recover) I was totally, and completely burned out. The week as pretty hectic on me, mostly work stuff. Nothing really unusual, just a lot more of the usual stuff than I was expecting.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

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