Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dream: Bill Clinton stole my boot!

Last night Bill Clinton stole my boot in my dream.

I was hanging out in a city (Warsaw?) with some friends when we ran into former president Bill Clinton who was with a couple of girls and other friends. He said he really liked my boots, the boots that I wore for the Battle of the Nations. He asked if he could try them on, so I took off my left boot and let him put it on.

After he put the boot on, he said it was cool and then he and his friends wandered off, and I was left there with one boot off, with my left foot in a sock and nothing else. I thought that Bill Clinton was being a bit of a douche. He was acting like that obnoxious, alpha, leader-of-the-pack type after a few drinks who drives the direction of the group of drunk friends who wander the streets on party night.

I and my friends looked around around the corner to try to find him. When we did, he was there, continuing to laugh and joke with his girls and friends, but someone said he was not really Bill Clinton, but an impersonator. So I tried to imitate his voice to see how easily it could be done.

The dream ended before I ever got my boot back, but I don't think that was the real Bill Clinton.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Battle of the Nations Report part 2

(This is a continuation of the post from a couple of weeks ago about my experiences at the Battle of the Nations)

But I did more that week than just fight.

The team took a trip to the castle at Malbork (Marienbourg), the former fortress of the Teutonic Knights. While I had seen rooms and chambers and furniture and art from the middle ages at museums, it was fascinating to see them in their regional context. There is no real "tourist logic" to a real castle, as there is in the floor plan of a museum. Rooms have multiple entrances and exits to other rooms and hallways and stairs. The deadliness of the defensive architecture is revealed. the opportunity was had to take the seat and stand in the place of honest-to-goodness medieval knights.

We ate good Polish food. One of the best eating experiences was at a roadside restaurant on the way to Malbork. nobody in the place spoke English, and the menus were all in Polish, so we struggled through with a dictionary and trying to figure out what was what based on a few known words ("pierogi," "kielbasa," "hamburger," "feta"). A couple of people just said "I am hungry. Give me food." and got a plate of delicious pierogis. One person found a picture of bacon and eggs on his smartphone and got a kielbasa with scrambled eggs. The hamburger turned out to be a delicious, double-pattie affair with toppings that was a unique and most excellent hamburger experience. The person who recognized the word "feta" got a wonderful salad with delicious, creamy feta cheese (have you ever had creamy feta cheese before? If I ever had I would eat it far more often).

Back in Warsaw we found a bar a couple of blocks away from the hotel at which we were made to feel very welcome. They gave us shots of some sort of cherry wine and became "our bar."

I happened to have my harmonica with me at the event site, and one of the bands on the stage adjacent to the list field happened to be playing some blues n the same key as my harp. I waved my harp at them and they indicated that I could come up and jam with them. The crowd loved it. Cameras clicked and rolled. Unfortunately the team member who had video-recorded the performance on his digital camera had it stolen during the week.

One night several team members and I stayed late at the event site rather than going straight back to the hotel. Many of the other teams were camping out and partying, and we joined them. One of the highlights was the Italian camp, where the Italians were singing, drinking, and making merry well into the night. Then they asked for an American song. I bought them "Swing Low Sweet Chariot for the Hearing Impaired" and how to dance the Maltese Branse, and they loved it! We wound up doing those numbers the next day before the battle and after the closing ceremonies.

(More to come)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

(This post was originally written in October 2011 but somehow did not get posted
till now.)

Well, regular readers of this blog who don't follow my FaceBook page (are there any?) might be wondering how that high school reunion went. Well, I wish I could tell you but...

Actually that' s not completely true. I go there late, as I expected, my new job keeping me 'till 10 PM, with a full can of Monster energy drink inside me, which I had used to stay awake at work. I rushed to the club, and immediately spotted old friend. Charged with the taurine, guarana, glutamine, etc, and the euphoria of the moment, and having built up my alcohol tolerance through a year of testosterone-boosting activities and regular casual drinking, I thought that I had to make use of the last 30 minutes of open bar. In the next 30 minutes I drank...too much. I saw a whole bunch of old high school friends and acquaintances, and was genuinely happy to see them, and it seemed like they were genuinely happy to see me. It felt good. I was told that I had not changed a bit (my youthful good looks are something that I pride myself in) and was really looking forward to getting to re-know my old classmates as grown-ups.

Sadly, I don't remember much after that.

I got out of it easy, I think. I didn't lose any money, or my wallet, keys or phone, or even the jacket I was wearing, and I was able to get my bag and glasses from the club two days later, and only lost a few comics and passes to NY Comic-Con (n was able to get another pass and get into the convention anyway), and as hangovers go, I have had much worse.

But as it was, my plans for the following day were shot. My GF was disappointed, and I blew my opportunity to reconnect with a very formative period of my life.

This was the first time I have ever had a memory blackout from drinking. It was scary.

(since the writing of this blog I have learned a very great respect for  the power of alcohol and energy drinks. I have since curtailed my use of both. I was dry for several months, now I drink very carefully, pacing myself to avoid further incidents like this. I have nay touched an energy drink on the one or two occasions in which I had to stay up all night to complete work, like fixing my armor for the Battle of the Nations.)

Dream: Captain Zorikh: Inspector of Mars

Captain Zorikh: Inspector of Mars
Dream 5-23-2012

I had heard that there was a known criminal in the domed city who was in town to steal the source of a new power. It was a gem or radioactive stone of some sort that could have great destructive power in the wrong hands.

This man was not wanted for any crimes currently, however, so I had no cause to arrest him. I did find him in a men’s room. He was doing his business in a stall, and he recognizes me when he asaw me. He knew that I knew what he was in town for, but he either was inno hurry to get away from me, or knew that it would have been pointless to do so. WE walke dout together in to the night air in the streets of Mars City.

We joined up with two of henchmen-for hire, who worked for a crime kingpin. This was someone who’s identity I didn’t know but was my job to find out. I did not tell them who I was exactly, and they were to be as unfamiliar with me as I was with their boss.

We headed to a lounge/candy store where we stopped to relax and have drinks. The henchmen were waiting to meet with the crimelord, and told me his name and location, which I made a point of remembering,: Anthony at 615. That was the address, 615.

The situation felt rather queer. Here I was, with a couple of men who would be trying to sell something that could be turned into a near-apocalyptic explosive, and might well be used, if their plan succeeded, and all that was around us would be a fine red mist, perhaps in as little as a week. The stakes were high, but the mood was quiet. There was not much talking as the henchmen smoked cigarettes and I and the criminal nursed beers.

As we sat on the cushioned seats in the lounge, I talked a bit with the criminal. I knew he made a business out of stealing things and selling them to the highest bidder, especially things like weapons and weaponable power sources. I spoke quietly, so the henchmen could not hear.

He called me a detective; I reminded him that I was an Inspector. I told him that there are some people who make a living doing anything they can, no matter who it hurts. On the other hand, one can choose to do the right thing, something that helps people or saves people, or at least not to do the wrong thing, and these people make the world a better place. I think I was getting through to him, because he listened quietly and didn’t say a word.

It soon came to me for me to go, but I wanted to get on the good side of the henchmen, have them keep in touch with me. The candy stand sold cigarettes, and I thought it would be a good friendly gesture to buy them some. “Let me buy you some cigarettes,” I said, standing up. “What brand do you like?"

They selected “Marlboro Gold,” a premium brand that was sold from under the counter, not on display. I cringed a little inside thinking of the price, but I knew it would be worth it, for these men could lead me to the big boss. It turned out they were only $5 for two packs, but I was not sure of the exchange rate between Martian and US dollars. It probably was the equivalent of something like $20.

I reached for my pocket, but then realized I wasn’t wearing pants (this is easily explained: I was sleeping in the nude, and this was a dream, after all. I was probably just adding the sensation of not wearing pants to the dream, and it wasn’t some sort of symbolism). This was not a big deal in Mars City, but my money was in my pants. “This is rather embarrassing,” I said.” I’ve forgotten where I put my pants.” Just then my secretary walked in. She had taken them for cleaning when I had left them in the office, and brought them to me there. My money was still in the pocket, so I paid for the two packs of cigarettes and gave them to the henchmen.

They got up and we all prepared to leave. Just about then I woke up.

Monday, May 14, 2012

First blog report from Battle of the Nations

Blog report for Battle of the Nations 2012

So here I am, flying home from the Battle of the Nations, the world championships of medieval armored combat, 2012, in Warsaw, Poland.

This was an incredible and wonderful experience. I had wanted to do it because I wanted to challenge myself, I wanted to go beyond what I had done in the Society for Creative Anachronism, I wanted to be a part of something new and exciting and daring, I wanted to find camaraderie and brotherhood, and I wanted to be able to promote myself as an adventurous badass. I succeeded on all fronts, but the proportion of importance of those reasons came out somewhat different in the end than it was in the beginning.

I had earned some "badass points" back at the tryouts in Springfield. I had proved to the team that I would not quit, that I could take the punishment, and that I would be a valuable addition, surprising several people even more than I surprised myself. I knew that I did not want to give up, but I did have a fear that I would get hurt. I had found out that my armor protected me from any major hurt, and the fear went away.

So I arrived in Warsaw looking for an opportunity to crash into and knock down my opponents. In my first battle my commander got in between me and the enemy, and then my teammate's fallen body, and I hit the ground without coming into contact with the enemy. If I had left right then I would have felt disappointed. In successive battles I managed to avoid tripping over my own men, and with each battle I learned a little bit more about fighting under these rules.

At times I felt like Eddie the Eagle Edwards, Catfsh Hunter in the 1977 World Series, Rudy from the the movie "Rudy," Dennis Doyle from "Run Fatboy Run," Spike Dudley, and a boxer in an early MMA match. At other times I felt like a knight, a warrior, a fighter, and a rock star.

I fought in the 21-on-21 matches. I tripped, I stumbled, I fell. I lost my weapon. I crashed into people. I held up huge Russians and Beloyrussians for a few moments. I lost my helmet  when my chin strap broke.

I fought in the 5-on-5 matches. I crashed into Israelis, Italians, Austrians, and Baltics. I ran around the end and attacked their line from the rear. I was the last man standing three times. I tripped, I stumbled, I fell. I found myself beset upon by as many as four men smaller than I. I lost my weapon and went running fack to get a new one multiple times, only to return several times to find that I was the only man left standing on the field.

I was the first American to fight in the "professional" bouts at the Battle of the Nations. I faced a Ukrainian champion with lighter armor and much more experience. I tried a cautious, point-scoring approach, but when he knocked me down and then knocked me over when I was down, I got up and changed my game, taking the fight to him. But my armor was heavy, and my sword too heavy, and the match was called due to fatigue.

Before the match, however, there was some "dead air time" on the list field. The band or was playing the Maltese Bransle, a simple renaissance dance that I know. I was in full armor holding my pole arm and I decided that the audience needed to be entertained, so I stepped into the middle of the field and started doing the dance. the crowd loved it. As the dance sped up, the crowd started clapping along. By the time I was done, I had completely won over the audience and they were on my side. Thus, when the inevitable beatdown occurred, there was great applause and appreciation for my spirit and my effort. I don't know about the fight, but I was told my dancing made the news reports that night.

I fought in the "all-on-all" matches. I got hit about as hard as the hardest hits I have taken in the SCA. I crashed into people. I enjoyed it.

The leaders and members of the team said that I did very well in the fighting, that I was one of the heroes in the field. That made me feel good.

More to come!