All posts by Rob Howell

Quick Post

Greetings all

Well, I’m nigh unto packed for the trip to Europe. I’ll be leaving tomorrow at 7:30am and will be in Heathrow at 6:35 their time.I’ll be using my LiveJournal page to record my memories from the trip.

Right now, I’m pretty tired from Lilies, though I had a great time. I got my Swan, the Calontir AoA Arts award for in His Majesty’s words being good with my mouth.

I also picked up my new helmet from Waldryk and it is beautiful. He intentionally designed it with hammer marks. The dragon crest is hand forged brass. It’s heavy, but it’s awesome. I can’t wait to wear it at Pennsic.

There were also a lot of good friends who got peerages: Duncan and Clef were knighted, Seonaid was laureled, and Constantia, David, Cara, and Aoibheann were all announced for their laurels as well. It was a great war.

Anyway, to get back to the root of this post, I’ll be updating here with some regularity the progress and interesting things during my trip, and yes, to those who insisted I should get a camera, I did get a decent one and will be adding pictures.

Next stop? Well, maybe I can find wi-fi in Boston tomorrow afternoon.


I’ve been struggling to find what to say about Lilies. There was so much going on and so many memories.

But we go to SCA events in the hopes of finding those 15 seconds where we’re actually a part of history, not simply spending a day dressed in funny clothes doing funny things.

I had not only 15 seconds, but several minutes of being part of Alfred’s scipfyrd. I got my chance to row in Dongal, Brockman, and Halvgrimr’s longship. It was a lovely calm night, with the moon shining off the ripples in the lake.

And as we rowed, we sang songs, and I did my version of the Wanderer. For those minutes, especially the parts in Old English, I nearly lost myself. I did a horrible job because I was continually remembering where I was and the beauty of the moment.

All of Lilies, for that matter all of the SCA, all of the work and fun and silliness and everything else condensed in that incredible moment for me. There was so much more to Lilies, but all that happened was overshadowed by being in the right place at the right time.

Quest for the Grail / Three Rivers Carousel

I’m combining my event reports for Quest for the Grail and Three Rivers Carousel because these two events tried to do something similar, though the execution was very different. Both of these events had people engage in a variety of engagements and both were similar to an event idea I’ve been tossing around. I’m very glad to have gone to these as I’ve learned how to improve my own event.

The Quest for the Grail was in Forgotten Sea on Memorial Day at the Lilies site. It was sort of a Lilies test-run. The fighting on Saturday was structured around a series of fights in the woods. Each team consisted of 3 or more people, with 3 fighters active at a time. We proceeded down the path of the woods, encountering opposing fighters, many with different attributes, puzzles, or demeanors. Overall, the opponents represented the seven deadly sins. Most interesting was Sir Thjo’s team who were Anger and Sir Duncan Bruce of Logan’s team which was Sloth. Can’t forget Her Excellency Yasamin, and a horde of beautiful women represented Lust. Most humorous was Sir Colin who was given an immense amount of padding making him look fat as he was gluttony.

It was a beautiful day for a walk in the woods. The teams were allowed into the woods separately and we were one of the last teams in. We were read a preliminary bit and given a shield with a white cloth. We then proceeded in the woods. The white cloth was given so that whenever we lost a fight, or in other words lost to a deadly sin. If you were pure and innocent, like Galahad, your shield remained white. If not, your shield was marked up and unclean. So after every fight we lost, the winning sin would write something on the shield. These writings were supposed to hint at the fact that they were a deadly sin.

At the end, we were quizzed by the final guardians, St. Peter and two archangels. We were asked by them what the nature of the fighting had been. We hadn’t been smart enough to look at the big picture, nor had we been smart enough to read what had been written on our shield, so when we were asked if we knew that our opponents had been the seven deadly sins, we had no clue. We weren’t the only ones, as I don’t know if anyone guessed it correctly. Nevertheless, it was a very good time, but during the trek I couldn’t help but wish that more of the fighting encounters were also puzzles where we could talk our way through them. I suppose that’s me.

The Carousel event was a series of games. We did pretty well in every event, not necessarily the best in each event, but consistently scored well. In the end, we won.We started with Bardic part, which was their take on Whose Line Is It Anyway. They tasked us with coming up with a Irish Hoedown. They said we got bonus points if we involved beer and pretzels, so I gave them each a beer. That sort of started the day off in the manner it deserved, with our team cheating, bribing, and doing whatever we could to win.

The other events was playing a large version of Cathedral, a jousting game where blindfolded people pushed a blindfolded rider on this wagon horse guided by other team members to hit a ring, a spear contest hitting a series of targets in numerical order (including pi), a sheep-herding game using shepherd’s crooks to get balloons into a pen at the end of a maze, and shooting a trebuchet at a giant troll. We did pretty well in the Calontir trivia, answering questions that Master Brummbar developed and some of the questions were very obscure, like who was the first native Calontir peer and who was the first Calontir Pelican. We didn’t do as well in the Speed Heraldry, which was kind of surprising but it was a very tough event. We did pretty well in the both the target archery and the combat archery, which since we had Baron Jon Tristram was not too surprising.

The fighting portion was a combination of several things. It was ultimately a fight between the team and three previous Baronial fighting champions. We were asked trivia questions about Three Rivers, which the more we answered limited the weapons the fighting champions could use. We answered all 3, limiting the champions to single sword. Also, you could shoot at a target to try and take limbs away from the fighters. As many team members could shoot 3 shots as you wanted, but the baronial archer champions got 2 shots per team shooters to restore the limbs. Tristram hit one leg and so did Ben, who was a teenager who joined us midway through, but the archer champion restored them. We then fought, with Dongal and I facing Eric, Raud, and Josef. I killed Eric with a thrust to the throat with my axe, but I really was suffering in the heat. I had done 3 pickups with Dongal prior to the fighting as I was overheating. It was 97 and very humid with little wind and I was suffering. At about the same time I killed Eric, a hold was called. I decided to stop fighting because I was feeling nauseous.

Despite my wussiness, I don’t think there’s enough fighting. Part of the problem is that I was in armor running around doing other events for a couple of hours before we got to the fighting. I should have fought earlier, and done the games later.

Somewhere between the Grail and Carousel is a wonderful, balanced event. I’m going to play around and see if I can come up with it.

Face Down In The Gutter, Won’t Admit Defeat

Greetings all, I just posted one entry on War College. I still owe you all for the Quest for the Grail and Lilies. I’ll get those in the next few days.

I got back from Lilies and went to the Vans Warped Tour, though, and I want to chat about that.

I went to the Tour because of the Dropkick Murphys. I have been a major fan and pusher for them for 4-5 years now. The Vans Warped Tour is aimed at a younger generation who are into extreme sports. The Tour was much more than a series of concerts, rather it was like a convention for punk bands. It was really really cool, actually.

I got there just in time to buy 2 more Murphys shirts and then get in line for the Murphys signing. I didn’t know that they were going to have any kind of signing and I did not bring anything to sign, but Tuesday was the day that the new Murphys album, the Warrior’s Code, was released. They came around while we were in line selling the new album for $10, so I bought one, and got it signed by 4 of the band members. I also had a bit of a conversation with Ken Casey, the band’s bassist and one of the singers, and he said that they were planning on headlining a tour in the fall.

This is really great news, as what they did at the Vans Warped Tour was like an appetizer. I got all the way up to the front, stage right at the fence, outside of the mosh pit but still right there.

3 of their first 4 songs were from the new album. The highlight here was Captain Kelly’s Kitchen, their version of Courtin’ in the Kitchen. As I came to the Murphys from my love of Celtic music as opposed to the punk side, I was one of the few there that knew the song. I’m really rocking to it, enough so that Al Barr, the lead singer noticed, which was lots of fun.

They did something really really cool. They are getting someone out of the audience to sing Barroom Hero, the first song that they ever wrote. The deal is that whomever is chosen gets to hang with the band for the rest of the day if they do well, or get thrown back to the crowd if he sucks. The kid they got did very well actually, except he had no idea how to do anything extemporaneous, which Barroom Hero has a section for shout outs. Anyway, it’s a really cool thing from a band that isn’t forgetting their fans as they get bigger.

Again, the only problem was their set was short, only 35 minutes. They didn’t play Dirty Glass, Rocky Road to Dublin, Spicey McHaggis Jig, Blackout, Good Rats or a host of other great songs. I’m so waiting for their tour.

On the way home, though, I got to hear the new album. I love Blackout, but it took a little for that to happen. Most albums are like that, I require a certain amount of familiarity to properly appreciate them.

I didn’t need that for Warrior’s Code. Yeah, I’d heard a few of the songs at the concert, but there’s no doubt Captain Kelly’s Kitchen rocks, or that Shipping Off to Boston is great, and so on. But… I am a Wicked Sensitive Bitch (at least Liam should get this). I have never wept upon the first hearing of a song before, but I did upon hearing The Green Fields of France.

Did they play the drums slowly
Did they play the pipes lowly
Did they sound the death march
As they lowered you down
Did the band play the Last Post and Chorus
Did the pipes play the Flowers in Forest

It’s not period, but I guarantee I’ll have it ready to sing by Pennsic.

War College

This was an event I was really looking forward to as I have always enjoyed it. I again enjoyed it, though my timing seemed to be a little off-kilter all day. This, however, is no fault of the hosts, the Shire of Amleth Moor. There was actually no site or lunch fee, it was a free event and Her Majesty’s local group did very well.

I think the primary reason I was so off was that I had closed on my house Friday.

I got there way early so I waited for everything to start. The classes were scheduled to start at 10, but I got there around 8 to in case Her Majesty needed help.

The first class I took was Clef’s sergeanting class. I followed that up with Duncan MacTorquill’s polearm in a shieldwall class. Both were useful classes, but they were aimed at less experienced fighters than I.

Following that was lunch, which was provided by the Shire. Following this was the active fighting. I helped with a variety of authorizations and then the War Maneuvers began. That went well, but I had to leave a little early to get ready for court.

After court, Ferd, Rebecca, Faramach and I went and terrorized the Outback. We then went out to the post-revel at Katrine and Eric’s house. They had a huge bonfire, fireworks, and Ferd, so you know there was weirdness. The highlight for me was mentioning to Pavel that a friend of mine who is fairly new was curious about broccoli. At about this time, the skies opened up and we had to hear the story inside, but the look on her face at the end of the story was priceless.


OK, so I’m not big on memes but I like this one. Here are the instructions.

“List five songs that you are currently digging … it doesn’t matter what genre they are from, whether they have words or even if they’re any good but they must be songs you’re really enjoying right now. Post these instructions, the artist and the song in your blog along with your five songs. Then tag five other people to see what they’re listening to.”

1. Dropkick Murphys – Spicey McHaggis Jig
2. Flogging Molly – Another Bag of Bricks
3. System of a Down – Old Time Hollywood
4. Rush – Xanadu
5. Dropkick Murphys – Rocky Road to Dublin

Wouldn’t guess I’m gearing up for the Murphys in St. Louis a week from Tuesday, huh?

OK, so here are my tags.

St. George and the Dragon

St. George and the Dragon is the traditional event of Oakheart, the shire in Springfield, Missouri. I was in the midst of house hunting so I spent Friday in Columbia and just figured I’d get a hotel room in Springfield instead of camping.

Unfortunately, I forgot that Southwest Missouri State might have graduation at some point and I had a heck of a time finding a hotel room. Nevertheless, I got to St. George well ahead of Their Majesties.

I had had a major pain in the back, and I decided not to push things and fight that day. I also don’t particularly care for any of the forms of bushkazi, which was the primary entertainment. Again, I spent some of the day marshaling, but I wasn’t the only one not really into fighting and there were a ton of marshals so I spent the day mostly hanging out. Unfortunately, I didn’t hang out with Katrine enough and she got bored and I got chastised.

The day was very lazy and laid back. After the fighting we did court, which went well, although I did have to maneuver around a new obstacle, His Highness on his throne. Always they increase the difficulty factor. After court they did an auction and I bid on a couple of items, but was cruelly overbid.

The feast was very tasty, but somewhat uncomfortable, given the seating arrangement and the fact that it was outside. It was good, though, and that makes up for a lot. The only real problem was the person who was announcing the courses, he set off my creep meter, sang horribly, and interrupted the dancing that was going on between removes.

Next was a torchlight tourney, which I helped marshal. Aaron beat Kilian to become Shire Champion and after that was the sitting around and singing, which went on until around 2.

At that point, I wasn’t tired nor had I drunk much so I just decided to get on the road. I was headed back to Wichita so I drove towards that way looking for a convenient hotel. I didn’t find one so I slept in my car for a little, proceeded on until I got tired again, napped again, and finally made it back to Wichita around 9am. At that point, I went to bed for serious sleep.


Greetings all, it’s been a while since I last posted so I have lots to catch up on.

First of all, I am typing this from my very own house. I’ve had it for about three weeks and been working like mad to get it arranged. It’s big and comfortable and I really lucked out in getting it for the price that I did. So, if you’re ever in Columbia, contact me for crash space.

It is very odd for me after basically three years of sliding by and being a vagabond to now have such powerful roots. A house, a bed, a couch, a TV, lots of other furniture, these are things I haven’t had to deal with in quite some time. The good news is that I’m finally getting to arrange some stuff that hasn’t been touched in years.

I’m finding all sorts of treasures, such as my scrolls which I have had framed and get to go pick up today.

Spring Spears

While I was at Ealdormerian Coronation, Spring Fling was held in Lonely Tower. Because Their Majesties were interviewing baronial candidates for Mag Mor, they couldn’t come up to Coronation with me. I suggested that They hold the interviews in Ealdormere, and those candidates who showed up would have proved their commitment, but surprisingly, They didn’t agree with me.

Even so, I got to go to a “Spring” event, this one Spring Spears in Calanais Nuadh. This happens to be the group where Bhrngari, my ex-wife lives, which means I was excited to go and see her. She and I get along much better now that we are separated. She’s great in many ways, and now I get to see them without focusing on the little stuff that isn’t so great, which unfortunately I often did. She’s also a very good cook, and she got rave reviews about the food she prepared for the inn.

Anyway, I stayed over at Katrine and Eric’s the night before the event and Katrine and I daytripped the event. Eric wanted a weekend off because of a party. Like I’d do something like that. Huh. 😉

Calanais is a group known for archery and thrown weapons, with few fighters. In fact, Troy Halfallen, who hasn’t lived in Calanais for some time, drove 3 hours to run the fighting. I was exhausted from the trip to Ealdormere so I decided to help marshal. Stupid me forgot that marshaling is more exhausting than fighting. I ended up much more tired than I would have.

Nonetheless I had a great time. Troy and his wife ran the list and the heralding, and Master Waldryk ( and I handled the actual marshalling. The fighting was usually very fun to watch, with the one exception of one fighter. Also, an old gaming buddy of mine who recently started back into the SCA is really starting to fight well, and that was great to see. The bout between The Dongal and Donato was especially fun to watch. They were fighting with matched huge maces, and His Majesty suggested the victory be to five kills. This turned out to be one of the best bouts I’ve ever watched, and it was also extremely funny. They pounded the hell out of each other for our entertainment.

I must admit, though, I was very disappointed in the quality of insults and cursing. One of the tournaments was supposed to be where you had fun calling out an opponent, insulting and cursing and bragging about one’s own prowess. This had the potential for lots of fun and silliness. In the end, Waldryk and I were the only ones doing anything with that. We were very disappointed. Surely Calontiri can insult better than that :).

The highlight of the day was feast for me. Not so much the food, though the first two removes were tasty. The third one had three kinds of salmon. Uck. Anyway, Dongal and I got to talking about fighting and he started talking about what he tries to do when he fights. A lot of people don’t realize quite how much he thinks about what he does, but he’s a very smart fighter. I am looking forward to learning everything I can from him.

Overall, it was another fun day in my life in the SCA. I didn’t get to spend as much time with Bhrngari as I wanted, though she did bring me jerky (wooohooo), nor was her new boyfriend able to make it and I want to meet him. However, the day was a lot of fun. It’s a great thing that at every event is someone who I really like but don’t get to see very often, like Waldryk and Troy.

Ealdormere Crown Tourney

Time to catch up on SCA stuff. A couple of weeks ago, my mom and I went to Ealdormerian Coronation. Mom needed a break from her newspaper ( after the Spring Issue was published and I wanted to go see Ed and Gen’s coronation. Since we also have relatives in Toronto and Guelph, it also gave us a chance to meet up with them.

The trip up was good, we did in fact meet with relatives as we stayed in Toronto for two days. The only sour note was the Best Western in Toronto, which was hilariously bad in their service, insisting we could get internet access in our room even though we couldn’t, not being particularly nice to us, and topping it off with the maid service not noticing that the previous tenant in our room had left an adult magazine in it.

The internet access, by the way, was terrible in both of the Canadian hotels we stayed at, I’ve certainly never had that much problem at any hotel in the states. Not sure if that’s a small sample size issue or a commentary on the internet in Canada.

Anyway, the event was held at a campsite in Kingston, Ontario. The weather the week before had been great, so naturally it was a cold wet day for Coronation itself. This meant the fighting was indoors. I would have vastly preferred to have fought outdoors nonetheless, as the air inside the hall was very thick and hot, but I don’t know as it would have mattered. I fought very poorly I thought, winning some bouts but not moving as much as I am used too.

Oh well, no big deal, I still had a great time fighting. Hereward even armored himself up specifically so we could fight, and we had 10 or so bouts, it was great. I also fought in the two tournaments and even though I fought poorer than I hoped, I held my own, well, except when Sir Evander just made an awesome feint that I totally fell for :).

Coronation itself was interesting, especially given the chance to see some interkingdom differences. I did notice that their Queen’s Champion Axe has the same head as ours and found out later that they were created at the same time. Their Champion’s Axe, however, is 5 feet long and the Champion can stand it on the floor. Bah, I say, given how heavy our Axe is and how we have to hold it.

Mom spent the day wandering around taking pictures. She also took a class on calligraphy, something she’d done years ago before either of us had heard of the SCA. She has some good pictures of me fighting, which is nice, since Ashendari never takes any pictures of me (just kidding). She had a great time, something I was kind of concerned about given that I was there seeing all these people that I don’t get to see very often and this is my activity, not hers.

Speaking of which, it was great to see everyone. Ed, Gen, Medb, Hereward, Adrielle, Mahault, Petrie, Gwerydd, Gaerred, Nicolaa, and a whole bunch of others I’m not recalling at this time. I bleed purple and I love Calontir, but I treasure my Ealdormerian friends greatly and I am so glad I’ve had the opportunity to spend time there.

Ed and Gen honored us at feast by asking Mom and I to sit at head table, something I had never done before. Mom has now gone to two events and must now think that she gets to sit at head table every other time :). It was a wonderful honor and I greatly appreciated it. I was struck, however, by what head table implies for royalty. Head table is not an unmixed blessing, as the separation means that you have fewer people to converse with, and for someone who likes to talk as much as I do, that’s something. It’s fascinating to me how something that everyone sees as such a major thing is in fact another sacrifice that the king and queen have to make. Being Champion has showed me time and time again how many little things that sitting royalty, responsible caring sitting royalty, gives up to make their subjects happy. I knew that this happened prior to being Champion but I have been surprised at the scope.

After the feast, which was tasty but was very long, we got a chance to do some singing. I don’t think Mom had ever seen me sing before, and it was nice. Bardic circles, of course, another example of interkingdom differences between Calontir and Ealdormere. I love to sing, but I’m so used to everyone joining in, which is not always the case in Ealdormere.

At feast Gaerred sang Sons of the Dragon, which of course I love and had to join in with. There were a couple of other people standing and helping and afterwards one lady complimented me on my voice. I had my usual uncomfortableness at compliments that was exacerbated when she introduced herself as Mistress Marion of Heatherdale, otherwise known as Heather Dale, an incredible singer with several great CDs and the owner of Amphisbaena Music ( It was very uncomfortable but also very cool that someone like her said that.

At the Bardic Circle, I sang a few times, making sure to sing my version of Cursing the Normans for Edward, who has a Norman persona. I also did probably the best version of The Wanderer I have done thus far, which I was really pleased about.

We both had a great time and I’m contemplating the next time I’ll be able to visit up there. Not sure when that will be, obviously with school starting in August I’ll have to be more responsible and cannot just on a whim head on out to Canada, but I’ll definitely make sure I show up periodically.

Then we had to go home. The drive home was actually very interesting as we ran into snow from London to Lansing. Heavy snow in parts. Also interesting was the border guard with a sense of humor, which doesn’t always happen.