A Confession and an Epiphany

At Pennsic, I met a gentleman of my acquaintance, who greeted me with "Hello, Great-Grandpa". He was the protege of the protege of my protege. And I didn't know that. And I should have. He was clearly proud of that, and I was honored to realize that. It occurred to me that I have a legacy, and that some of those in it are more aware of it and prouder of it than I've been. Now, even in the early days I was vague about who was a Silverwing and who wasn't, but I've considered this and consulted with a couple of you at Pennsic, and I'm saying explicitly:

(A) If you are or were my protege/apprentice/esquire/vassal/equerry/yeoman/etc. and you have proteges/apprentices.../etc., I'd like to know who they are. Don't assume I know, because I clearly don't.

(B) What's more, effectively immediately, anyone in such a "direct line" may consider him/herself to be A MEMBER OF HOUSE SILVERWING. (And yes, there is an absolute individual right to opt out for whatever reason).

I'll be publishing the list as I compile it, on the EK Wiki.

If you *weren't* my protege/apprentice, but rather my brother/sister/kinsman in the Household, and you have your *own* legacy, I am *NOT* claiming your people. That wouldn't be right. (Still, it would be nice to know who they all are).

Why, you may wonder, am I doing this publicly, without consulting privately with all my kinsmen / former students first?

The answer is: why not? First, I'm admitting publicly that I should have paid more attention. Second, we're so diverse and dispersed, it seemed like a waste of effort. I note that we've been described as "more an alumni association than a household": I don't think that's in any way derogatory; it's an expression of how far we've come and what we've individually accomplished in 30+ years. We don't have household activities anymore (beyond a few of us who march with the EK standard at Pennsic). We don't camp together at Pennsic or make group feast reservations. But it's been made clear to me that many of your people respect their heritage -- more than I have -- and are proud of that association.

So what does "being a member of Silverwing" mean, practically speaking? Silverwing status mentis est...we're a state of mind. It means you can choose to say you're a Silverwing. It means you get to wear that badge in the upper left if you want.

Most of all it means I'm proud of you all, and honored by our association.

More "Seven Words"

goldsquare (Tibor) gave me:

The Great Architect, marriage, temptation, great books, fealty, "violent agreement", Silverwings Laws

Wrote about this in a previous post, q.v. The notion of the Supreme Architect is a reflection of the times in which modern Grand Lodge Freemasonry began. It comes out of the idea of the Newtonian "Clockwork Universe", with a benevolent overseeing divine presence with a Plan, a Design, for his entire Creation, of which Man is the highest emanation and the caretaker. We can debate determinism until we turn blue, but there's a beautiful point to be taken from this in any case. Brethren will recognize this as being from the Middle Chamber lecture of the Second Degree, and the symbolism of the Beehive in the Third. We have been given a divine gift, intellect. If we then squander this gift, or put it on a shelf and ignore it, saying we'll let someone else exercise *their* intellect and make all the decisions, draw all the conclusions *for* us...what an insult to the Giver! No, the Blueprints have been spread before us, "in the great books of Nature and Revelation" -- which I take to represent science *and* faith -- and we're obliged to examine them and proceed with the Work. ...And that's where we get into trouble with religions characterized by a strict top-down doctrine. That's why popes and Southern Baptist Conventions have traditionally, er...not liked us very much. What Masonry is *fundamentally* about is this: freedom of thought. Masonry was invented by Protestants, but it suits folks like me, steeped in Jewish thinking, really well. It's really about "God-Wrestling" (which is what "Israel" means). Using what God has given you, to *question*, analyze, and conclude: to come to moral Truths through logical processes. That's it, in a nutshell.

I recommend the institution. Beth and I were impulsive kids: we only had a 17-year engagement %^). During that time, we went through most of the nonsense that married couples go through, and by the time we tied the knot, we'd Been There and Done That. I don't know what our secret has been, really. I marvel that this Jewish kid from Boston with a thing for leggy brunettes wound up in Rhode Island -- I mean, why would anyone go to *Rhode Island*? (says 1970-me) -- with a short blonde lapsed Congregationalist. Fate is weird. But we have a marriage written in the stars, we were created for each other, and there's *part* of that secret that I *do* know. *Silliness*. Our capacity for *silliness* is a huge part of what holds us together. We make each other laugh, a lot, every day, all the time.

And on another track, a word about the *nature* of marriage. We use that word for two (maybe more?) different institutions, and that causes problems. If you're concerned about the religious upbringing of your children and the disposition of your (and their) souls, you should be able to go to your church and get *matrimoned*. If you're concerned about the disposition of your estate, and the legal rights of your cohabitant, and hospital visiting rights, you should be able to go to your city hall and get *marriaged*. Your church should be able to say that redheads can't get matrimoned to people who are left-handed. That should be their right, and if you've got a problem, fight your church or find a new one. Your city hall should have their *own* regulations on marriaging people, and those should be completely different considerations having *only* to do with the public good, not their individual souls. Matrimony (as here defined) has as much to do with marriage (as here defined) as my Subaru's registration has to do with my bar-Mitzvah.

I don't have much to say about this. I suppose one aspect of it is this: as I've gotten older I've learned to choose my battles. I'm not *tempted* to enter every dogfight I see; I've learned to resist that temptation and walk away. Oh, I still get passionate about things, but not about *everything*. Is that maturity, or senescence?

I haven't read a lot of them, to tell the truth. Oh, I've read a lot of books that *I* thought were great. But I haven't read a great deal of the Great Works of Literature (Harumph!). In public school, of course, there were those that I *had* to read, but I've written previously about the gutting of humanities in those days, so I suspect I didn't get as much as previous generations. And the English Lit that I *did* get was presented in ways designed to put any kid off literature forever. They wrung any possibility of joy, of pleasure, out of the assignments. There *were* a few works I did enjoy. I devoured David Copperfield. I enjoyed the Prisoner of Zenda so much that I went to the library and checked out the sequel, Rupert of Hentzau, on my own. But by and large, what I was reading for *pleasure* were the books *I* considered Great, and those were by folks named Heinlein and Clarke. And then when I got to college, I went to a technically-oriented, very focused school (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy) that didn't provide much in the way of Lit courses. I've tried over the years, haphazardly, to correct some of those gaps, but truth be told I'm not as well-read as I feel I ought to be.

As with every other institution in the SCA, we never defined it. It just happened. The result is that everyone thinks they know what it is and no one really does. You swear what you *think* is an affirmation of adherence to the mission of the club, and the king hears you become his slave. Maybe you use words that *do* say that, but you think you're play-acting and he doesn't. Or maybe it's the other way around. In any case, there's enormous cognitive shear going on, always has been, always will be. And of course, our attempts to solve that problem have taken the shape of elephant guns, from the very beginning. "Global solutions for local problems since 1966". I've always understood that MSCAs came about because an early knighthood candidate (Richard the Short, back during the first mass knightings?) adhered to a faith that forbade swearing oaths, even if "play-acting". Now, if King William had whispered "Oh, okay, so just don't swear, Rich. We'll just skip that bit)" and dubbed him, and said "Arise, Sir Richard" would have gone on, no harm, no foul. But no. He had to create an *entire new institution* to solve that local problem. And we're stuck with it, 45 years later.

I don't recall who named the phenomenon "Silverwinging", but it came out of the early business meetings of House Silverwing, my SCA household. Just a couple of years ago, I unexpectedly found the best-ever explanation of it, in Neal Stephenson's novel "Anathem". No, he doesn't call it "silverwinging". But he does have two characters known in their circle as "the Beast with Two Backs": not with the sexual connotation, but because they're always facing each other, in hot debate. And, usually, they're *agreeing*. But the debate proceeds because it's vitally important to their personalities that they not only share the same *conclusion*, they must arrive at that conclusion by the exact same logical paths, the precisely identical analytical methods. That's silverwinging.

From my earliest days in the SCA, I'd been throwing out aphorisms I'd heard, and sometimes invented myself, about life in the SCA, and often life in general. When the internet came along, I finally started recording them. They're not all meant to be serious monographs on philosophy; some of them are pretty silly . But at the time I recorded them, each one struck me as insightful, and I have a rule that once recorded, I don't delete them. They're there to provide jumping-off points for Scadian philosophizing, one of my favorite pastimes and the official sport of House Silverwing. I'm actually rather proud that they've been favorably quoted by many prominent SCA philosophers, including several Presidents of the SCA and Society Seneschals, as keys into the group-mind of the SCA and the dynamics of the SCA as an organization. The laws are available at several sites, but the most appropriate one here is:

Now I know why I've abandoned LJ

So, for the *second time*, I've spent a couple *hours* responding to a meme, only to lose the whole damned thing when I try to post (and crosspost to FB). F this. I may try composing a doc in MS Works or Wordpad and then posting here. But it may be a few days before I get the motivation back. Sorry, jducoeur.

The "Wordy Meme Thing"

Haven't been on LJ for a while, but the latest meme caught my imagination.

baronernst gave me:
The Medical Profession
The ageing of the SCA
Secret Vices
Private Space

They're what I *do*, especially in the SCA. I was introduced to the concept, really, when I joined the Order of DeMolay as a teenager. Now, in this sense, I'm not talking about the most common sense of the term, "repeated action". Brushing your teeth is not a ritual, not in *that* sense. What fascinates me is the ritual that *changes* things, what disneybaroness once called "theater with consequences". SCA ceremonial is often called "theater" but I think that's dismissive. When the curtain comes down, Romeo and Juliet stand up, take their bows, and live to play again. But when you get married, or get knighted, or get convicted, or get raised as a Master Mason something *changes*, permanently. Next week, you're still married, you're still a knight, you're still in prison, you're still a Master Mason. And those things, those states, have *consequences*. The most interesting changes that ritual can cause are when ritual *changes your mind*. Changes the way you think. This can be a change in philosophy, in the way you look at the world. Masonic ritual, done right, does that. It can transport you to another time and place and state of being, mentally and emotionally. SCA ritual, done right, does that. Ritual, through symbols (physical, gestural, verbal), transforms you. And ritual doesn't have to be found in a dark and dusty tome. It can be constructed, a la minute, from what you see around you. That's what Masonry will teach you if you really pay attention; I think that's the *real* secret, or one of them. In the SCA too, we can construct rituals that are deeply meaningful to us on the historical, Scadian, *and* real-world levels -- and those are all different -- all at the same time, if we look at the commonalities in the symbology.

I have enormous respect as well as not-a-little frustration with physicians as a group. I couldn't do what they do. But I'm certain that I have a *far* greater understanding of what they do, and the restrictions and constraints under which they work, than they have of what *I* do. I really wish they had some grasp of the legal doctrine of "corresponding liability", which, in a nutshell, says that "because the doctor said to" is not a defense. I also wish they had some tiny notion of the mechanics of a prescription insurance claim, and of the regulations of agencies like the DEA and the Board of Pharmacy. It seems they just scribble out the script and it's "fire and forget". I wish, when I fax them about a potential dangerous interaction, just once I'd get an attitude of "thank you for saving my patient's life" rather than "why are you pestering me?". Oh, and as for nurses: I am in utter awe. No way I could do what they do. No *way*.

They taste great with Buffalo sauce and bleu cheese dressing. The origin of my "wing thing" came when I was 8 and looking for a symbol for the "family coat of arms" I was designing. Yeah, it goes that far back. I saw the owl-shaped cookie jar between the silver Sabbath candlesticks on top of the fridge, and an owl between two candlesticks became my heraldry. Until I joined the SCA: I was (erroneously) told that that design was "too religious". (What? What about all those crosses?!) So I registered a monstrosity with two owls. And I quickly formed a household called "Silverwing" because "Silver Owl" reminded me of cheap cigars. The badge for that was chappe ploye invected -- stylized wings -- with a chevron, and I changed my arms to be similar, with an owl replacing the chevron. The wings have mutated, in my mind, from owl's to angel's. The persona story is that my Welsh-border holding has a chapel with a reliquary housing three silver feathers that fell from Gabriel's wings at the Annunciation. The church, dedicated to St. Gabriel of the Annunciation, is commonly called "Silverwing". To my real-world mind, they represent the protective wings of the Shekhina, God's Presence, sort of a mystical Jewish version of the Holy Spirit.

When I joined in 1977 at the age of 28, I was an old man in the club. It seemed everyone was a hippie/folkie liberal college kid. That was one reason that I had very little "peer fear" in those days. (Another was that I had zero social skills and didn't know my place, but we'll pass over that). The SCA *has* gotten older, and more conservative. It's *way* more of a "family activity" now. That's not a bad thing by any means, but it *can* -- and *has* -- led to stodginess and stagnation. We don't so much need youth for the sake of youth. What we need is fresh minds and the spirit of being bulletproof that *comes* with youth. We need to take risks and try new things, and while revering our traditions -- a subject about which I'm a fanatic -- nevertheless being willing to mix things up once in a while.

I wasn't a popular kid. I was a pathologically shy and under-socialized, utterly unathletic nerd. Sound familiar? In fact, I was rather severely bullied in junior high, and the scars have never gone away, even at age 63. I went to a 5-year college, so when I was a senior my few friends all graduated, got jobs, and moved away. So I refer to 1970 to 1977 as my "dark years". Then I found the SCA. It wasn't like being stranded on a desert island and then finding other humans. It was more like being an alien on Earth all my life, and suddenly finding the other aliens. Here were people who *got* me, and appreciated what *I* thought was cool, and thought that what I *did* with that was cool. Heraldry? They knew what that was, and respected me for my knowledge of it. Despite being an under-socialized nerd, I was made Holder of the Favor of the Ladies of Felding, Ladies' Champion of Carolingia, and a member of the QoC (back when it was a polling order, no less). People *accepted* me. Some of them even *liked* me. Combine that with the fact that I have little family contact: no kids, no nieces or nephews. I cherish my friends more than they can possibly imagine, and -- though I often fail -- I'm on this planet to work toward someday *deserving* them.

We all have them. You know *you* do. They can range from "peanut butter and pickle sandwiches" to "those human body parts in the freezer". My favorite play of all time
is "Equus", which is about a boy with some very disturbing secrets...and why he has them.
But as for, no body parts. I'm addicted to cooking-competition TV shows: Iron Chef, Chopped. Even though I don't cook. I'm also a fan of Project Runway and Fashion Police: I'm not sure what a Free Safety does or how to change my oil, but I know a Balenciaga when I see one!

Private *time* is something I require. I was a private kid (see above), maybe even edging on the autism spectrum, and always needed time to be alone with my own thoughts. I've never been a party animal, although I do love sitting around with a group of good friends. Working part-time with Beth out of work means that we're almost always together, which is wonderful, but still sometimes I need to get away alone. She respects that, and I'm thankful for it.
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Atlantian 30th

Haven't posted for quite some time. Thought I'd note the fine time we had on Labor Day weekend. Since my rather odd but frequently wicked-cool schedule just turned out that way, I had an extended holiday weekend and we decided to drive to Virginia (hey, we're in the SCA!) for the 30th Anniversary of the founding of the Kingdom of Atlantia. I had been there 30 years ago for the coronation of King Michael I, and he's king again 30 years later, pretty amazing in itself. We stayed with Viscountess Jeanmaire and the household of the Cursed Grail, a pirate group from the barony of Marinus. Really good folks, and we look forward to seeing them again.

Part of the idea was to connect with old friends in the area, including disneybaroness and Louie, and Publius and Mathilde, but the formers had car trouble and the latters also had issues preventing a trip out to the site. We did connect with Amy and Louie for some sightseeing and dinner later.

It was great, as well, seeing old faces: Sir Strykar, Countess Allanda, Sir Tnek and Mistress Tannis, Sir Axel, Baron Donal mac Ruiseart, and others. (The problem with principalities and kingdoms splitting off is, you don't see those folks anymore unless you meet at Pennsic.) There was a nice history display, including a pic of me heralding the Coronation court 30 years ago. auntie_elspeth and I got to play Eastern ambassadors and conveyed the greetings of lucanusdux and swanduchess.

A nice post-vacation vacation.

Green Lantern: Mild Spoilers & Possible Fanboy Overload

a/k/a The Movie I've Waiting For For Fifty Years....

It was...good. Good, not great. Better than I'd feared, not as good as I'd hoped. Ryan Reynolds did a good job, enough that I was able to buy him as Hal despite being physically wrong. Blake Lively was surprisingly okay, and there were a couple scenes that were pretty much lifted from the comic, so...okay then. Tomar Re looked great, Kilowog was what we expected I guess. I don't recall Salaak: I thought I'd seen him in a trailer. Good Abin Sur, very good Sinestro. Lots of cameos from GLs like Bzzd and Apros. Tom Kalmaku, though...that guy didn't look Inuit to me. The actor has a name that may be Samoan or Maori: I'm thinking the latter. Like the promotion from grease-monkey, though.

Gotta say, I liked what they did with the weaving of the several plot lines -- Hector, Parallax, rogue Guardians, Sinestro and the Yellow Ring (did you stay for the cookie?). I really liked the origin story for Parallax, and his demise followed the comic continuity. Other subtle bits: Carol's flight handle is "Sapphire"...Nice: I don't recall that from the comic, but maybe. Lots of constructs: that's what GL is all about, after all. It'd be nice if the comics guys remembered that %^).

And the movie had the hands-down best line EVAR in a superhero movie. Worth the price of admission just for that. (Hint: It's when GL appears on Carol's balcony in costume, with the mask. The scene was a clear homage to the Christopher Reeve "Superman" movies, but it went in an awesome new direction).
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The Movie I've Waited 50 Years For

The more trailers for Green Lantern that come out, the better I'm feeling about it. I mean, I still have qualms about the physical casting. Blake Lively? Really? Probably one of the most non-Carol-Ferris actresses I could name. And Ryan Reynolds was the best they could do for Hal? Okay, so not Nathan Fillion. But what about Nicholai Coster-Waldau?

It does seem like too many characters know Hal's secret in the film, though. Carol seems to. And that nerdy guy in the "I know, right?" scene can't possibly be Tom Kalmaku. So who is he?
Jeez, could he be Alan Scott's cabbie friend, Doiby Dickles? Please, just say no.

Other than that though, it's looking wicked cool. Tomar-Re looks *awesome*. He's always been drawn as a cartoon chicken. But this Tomar-Re has great detail, and looks like a somewhat avian alien. Abin Sur: check. Sinestro: check. Kilowog: check (although I need to hear more booming in his voice). Salaak: check. And I just saw the first trailer with a Guardian: nicely done!

Constructs! They got constructs! The way the comic has been going, I was actually afraid they'd forget that!

I may pay for the 3-D the first time on this one. After all, I will be seeing it more than once %^).
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House Watch; News from Planet Plainsborough


And he's gonna come back and practice medicine after that?

I mean, the drug addiction, employee abuse, serial B&E's, and serial malpractice
aren't enough. Now this. And he'll still be practicing medicine.

I was wrong. It was touted as a drama, and I said, no, it's a sitcom.

That wasn't it either. It's SF/Fantasy. Planet Plainsborough.