Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Faire Weather

So we attended the Texas Renaissance Festival this weekend (I'd thought we were going to Scarborough Faire, but it turns out that's in the spring). It was quite a to-do, with extensive grounds and actual permanent structures instead of tents and booths. We saw jousting (it was quite obviously staged, to our great disappointment) and heard a huge carillion and spent many moments trying to corral the older two. Fortunately we attended with friends, so the ratio of adults to children was in our favor for once.

I don't know why you attend a Renaissance fair, but the highlight of our trip was taking an elephant ride. I can't say what the elephant thought of us, but the girls found it gratifyingly scary to be perched high up on the back of the huge beast, and squealed accordingly. Afterwards they were able to scratch the elephant's ears. Does it get any better for a small child?

Quibble #1: Why is it that folks at a Renaissance fair feel the need to speak in quasi-Englishe accents? Do Hispanic attendants speak with Olde Spanish accents? I tend to think of France and Italy when I think of the Renaissance, but I didn't hear any French or Italian accents.

We caught the beginning of a show put on by a pair of fellows who apparently mud wrestle for a living. They were trying to get the two sides of the audience to clap in unison.
"Forget it!" one yelled. "You folks have no rhythm!"
"Maybe that's why there are so many kids here," said the other.
There was a smattering of snickers from the audience.
"You all aren't laughing," said the one. "Well, we don't have time to explain all the jokes to the non-Catholics."

Quibble #2: Dressing up as a Goth fairy or wearing a leopard-print bikini top doesn't actually have anything to do with the historical periods known as "The Renaissance" or "The Medieval Era" or "Texas 2006". Halloween is in a few weeks; I suggest you save it until then. That is all.

We caught a performance by a group of guys called Tartanic. (Ha ha!) They wore kilts and played bagpipes and large drums and put on a good show. The woman next to me was trying to get a picture with her digital camera, and the drummer sees her standing on tiptoe.
"Here," he says, taking the camera, "I'll get a good shot for you."
He heads up front and gets a photo of the band. As he passes by the band member addressing the crowd from atop a drum, he casually sticks the camera underneath the guy's kilt and snaps a shot. As I was standing next to the woman, I had a glimpse of the picture, and regretfully inform the readership that I can't answer the age-old question about what the Scots wear under their kilts because the photo was mostly of the guy's knee. Sorry, gang.

Quibble #3: Technically, attendees were not supposed to bring any food or drink onto the fair grounds, and the vendors responded accordingly by jacking up the prices of victuals egregiously. We indulged our rebellious streak and snuck in water and granola bars for the girls. I was glad we hadn't planned to find food inside, or we might have had to pay a visit to ye olde ATMe.

I suppose someone out there has cleavage on the brain, and I'm here to tell you that yes, it was in evidence. However, most of it was displayed by females who really should have been old enough to know better, and "alluring" or "provocative" or "come hither" wouldn't be the first words I reached for to describe the various chests we saw. Here's a hint to women of a certain age: No one wants to see your sunburned, freckled bosom. And there's a good reason why most women wear support undergarments nowadays. Just sayin'.

We enjoyed ourselves, but I can't say that the Renaissance fair is something I'd rush out and do again soon. I didn't see many demonstrations of authentic activities of yesteryear, such as weaving or blacksmithing or fencing or dancing or courtly manners. Plus, it's rather expensive just to walk in the door, to say nothing of the wares within. Perhaps when the girls are a bit older (of course then they won't be free anymore) we'd be able to stroll about in a more leisurely fashion and actually stay through an entire musical set.

ADDENDUM: Darwin pointed out to me that I make it sound like we didn't have a good time. We did, and I wish I could have seen more shows and displays. And I'll admit I snickered at the rhythm joke and the camera-up-the-kilt. My main beefs were with the prices and the attitude of some attendees that you somehow gain Renaissance street cred if you wear pointed ears or fuzzy tails. Star Trek has nothing to do with history, people! (Or the future, for that matter.)

And my issue with the cleavage has little to do with modesty or lack thereof, as much as the fact that many people seem to be utterly deluded as to their level of hotness. You're not all that, girl.

17 comments:

Fidei Defensor said...

Good post, basicaly laying out exactly why I don't like Ren. Faires. To many "Goth fairy or wearing a leopard-print bikini top" people, no true history.

If you wanna see some historically authentic blacksmithing, you come up to Wisconsin and I'll show you how its done!

Anonymous said...

I haven't been to a Ren. Faire yet, but I have heard from a prof of Medevial history that if you want a good look at the "Dark Ages," go to the Medevial Times in Orlando and see their Middle Ages village. Apparently, it's supposed to be a pretty good representation. I can't speak for it personally, as I never got to go. (HG struck me two days before I was scheduled to go interpret the "field trip" for the college class I worked in. I was really bummed - supposed to get in free and get paid for my time there!)

barbfromcincy said...

Sounds like what I had heard about the Renaissance fair here....now I'm really glad that I didn't waste money going.
Hope you have a blessed week..

Rick Lugari said...

FD says: To many "Goth fairy or wearing a leopard-print bikini top" people, no true history.

I wouldn't go to one because it's just not my thing, however, if a Ren-Fest was really realistic it might be worth stopping by just to see the horrified looks as people exit the genuine medieval latrine facilities gompf stick in hand.

Thank God we were born after the inventions of indoor plumbing and toilet paper.

Big Tex said...

I went to that Faire once. I was rather turned off by the event. It seemed to be an excuse for people to act rather immodestly. It seemed that everywhere I turned, someone was yelling out some sort of sexual euphemism.

I used to work with a guy who participated regularly in the Texas Ren Fest. I can't say I think rather highly of him or his ilk. I could go for the whole Ren Fest thing if people kept the suggestive remarks to themselves.

Now, give me a turkey leg, wench!

Darwin said...

Actually, aside from the excessive supply of skin for which there was little demand, I'd say the Ren Fair was quite a good time. The main downside is that such events simply are not designed 3-4 years olds (unless you're prepared to drop $50 a piece on buying them every ride and trinket they see) and so the kindercontrol aspect got rather tiring after a while.

The facilities were generally better than the Ren Fair near Los Angeles that I'd been to before, though I'd say that the overall quality was cheesier.

And I really could have done with a good SCA-style melee, none of this choreographed silliness.

Jay Anderson said...

Forget the Ren Faire. The Highland Games is where it's at.

And there's plenty of opportunity, if you're so inclined and if you really have to know, to find out what a Scotsman wears under his kilt.

One answer is Ghillie Brogues.

If that's not the answer you seek, you could ask Rhonda and Scarlette.

Now, give me some haggis, lassie!

Big Tex said...

Give me Oktoberfest anyday.

Ein bier, bitte!

Slick said...

I quite enjoyed myself and the company, but I think I remember a better variety of acts last time I went... Oh well, at least fun was had by all.

Big Tex: I think it was a little less crude this time around then it was when we went that one time. Either that or I had it tuned out...

Too bad there wasn't time in the weekend for the Greek Festival that was going on too... Beer brewing was at it's finest though. Nothing like filling the garage with the nice smell of beer tea. =)

barbfromcincy said...

If it's Oktoberfest you want, Big Tex, the one in Zinzinnati (that's how we spell it during Oktoberfest) is considered the best one outside of Munich. Hard to believe, I know, but that's what they say...
A blessed day to all...

MrsDarwin said...

Barb, I've always regretted that I never made it to the Oktoberfest in Zinzinnati. My younger siblings went one year when Weird Al was performing, and they told me that they participated in the World's Largest Chicken Dance -- I guess the festival was trying to make the Guiness Book of World Records.

Big Tex, if you ever decide to go to the Oktoberfest in Cincinnati, you let us know, and we'll travel up there too!

Big Tex said...

Barb, Mrs. Darwin,

I've only made it to the great state of Ohio once, and that was to attend a reunion of sorts at my wife's alma mater. It was her household reunion. After that, I am Ohio deprived. Das Oktoberfest in Zinzinnati sounds gut, ja?

I'm used to the Germanfest in my parents hometown, even though it's held in April. The sausage, kraut, und bier is plentiful.

Slick,
I remember that trip to the Ren fest. Haven't been back, but lately it would be quite a trip to make it seeing as we live in the Seattle area now. Oh well... maybe we'll make it back to that Ren fest again. Hopefully with a better experience.

Und speaking of bier... I am patiently waiting for my dopplebock to condition. It's fairly high gravity, and I'm afraid my yeasty beasties don't have much left in them. I may have to break out the champagne yeast soon. Meanwhile, I must settle for some commercial bräu: Spaten Oktoberfest. It's an ur-märzen. Yum.

Slick said...

nothing like holding a conversation in a comments section...

Tex: will y'all be down this way for the holidays? Saint Arnolds put out a special one batch brew recently that I happened to get before everyone ran out of stock on... Will save you one if you're interested...

barbfromcincy said...

Check out www.oktoberfest-zinzinnati.com . Tells you all about it...

Slick said...

that oktoberfest looks cool...

Big Tex said...

Ah yes, St. Arnie! Good beer there. Not sure if this is a rerun of a past seasonal, or a unique new seasonal brew.

We will be down for the holidays. We'll spend Christmas in the Dallas area, and be down to Austin for the New Years festivities. Plane tickets already purchased. :-)

Slick said...

no rerun... this is one of their Divine Reserve's... Special one time batch. I'll save ya one...