August 26th, 2003

Milwapa and Bardic Dinner, 08-23-04

Saturday saw the monthly Milwapa collation. As it was a summer collation, we met at Todd Voros' residence for the obligatory combination with pool party. Since it was the August collation, it was also Kelly Lowrey's birthday party. (Kelly is Milwaukee's most fannish child; not only is she the daughter of vary active fans "Orange Mike" Lowrey and C.K. Hinchliffe (aka Cicatrice duVeritas)the August Milwapa collation these eight years ago was literally her first stop on the way home from the hospital, at age three days. She went to WorldCon with her parents two weeks later--.)

Bardic Dinner convened that evening at Gate House, the residence of Sheila Haberland, Tim Kozinski, and John Fritz. The food theme was High Tea, the centerpiece of which was cold sliced pork loin with apples, provided by Lisa Mason. Georgie made dessert, which was raspberry tarts with Chambord and whipped cream. The reading theme was Egyptian mysteries, and I read "King Rhamsinitus Versus the Thief," by Herodotus, "The Locked Tomb Mystery," by Elizabeth Peters, the account of the opening of King Tut's tomb by Howard Carter, another factual piece debunking the "mummy's curse," and excerpts from "The Curse of the Pharohs," also by Peters, and "The Mamur Zapt and the Men Behind," by Michael Pearce.

Being August, attendance at both events was somewhat light, but everyone presendt seemed to have a good time.

Bristol Renaissance Faire, 08-26-03

Sunday, August 26th was quite literally our last chance to get down to the Bristol Renaisance Fair, whcih we have done at least once every summer particularly for the last few years since friends of ours have started working their, either as merchants (Felix Needleworthy) or members of the Court. Of course we dress up, and over the years have acquired good enough outfits that even people who work there take us as part of the company. The drive down to Bristol was actually quite pleasant (no construction this year!) and we got to the Faire just before the gates opened for the day. We let the initial crowd surge through, and then went in, noting the many small changes that have been added to make the grounds more pleasant. These included fountains, flower beds, statuary, and other details that made the place seem more like a permanent installation. We noted the shade canopies over the new bleachers at the Tournament grounds with approval, but guessed correctly that the seats would fill up quickly.

The main activities at the Faire are shopping, eating, and taking in the various entertainments. We covered the entire grounds over the course of the day, but our only major purchases were at Blackheath Books near the end of the day, although I also got a good deal on a "sword frog" (the thing that attaches a scabbard to your belt) from a leather worker in "Shoplatch Lane" who also gave us a blow-by-blow description of his adventures at the Pennsic war. We stopped in to visit with artist Erin McKee, who's been a regular for years, but has decided to sell her shop, as she and her husband have decided to take a few summers off to do other things.

As to eating, I sampled a "giant brat" (very good, but usual bratwurst sized) and the turkey legs (also good). Georgie stuck with our usual standby, fish and chips from Maiden Voyage, which were up to the usual high standard. We washed the dust out of our throats with lemonade and "sassafras."

Of course, the whole fair is entertainment, and interacting with the various merchants, street workers, and passing performers is a great part of the fun. We happened to be in a great spot to catch one of the royal processions, who passed within arm's length of us, and we noted that the Court seemed to be both more numerous and particularly magnificantly dressed this year. The performances we took particular effort to catch were the Kaminari Daiko (Japanese taiko drummers--period, just not locally) and the Royal Falconer.

Kaminari Daiko gave a short but vigorous set, and seemed to be having a really good time. They did well, and it was a lot of fun to see and hear.

The Royal Falconer was working at the Tournament grounds with hawks, horse and dog, and his skillful assistant. As expected, the bleachers were filled, but we walked around behind the uninhabited Royal Box and leaned on the back rail, which gave us a good view and turned out to be an exciting spot. While working the falcons, a male perigrine chose to alight in the Royal Box, and landed not five feet from us. Very exciting. One of the Harris hawks also took a rest in the rafters above us. Not quite as thrilling as for the people seated on the grass who had one of hawks literally land right beside them, but good enough for us.

We ran out of steam about four PM and headed home, but it was a very good day.

Two Things That Tick Me Off--

There've been two things in the news lately that really upset me--one nationally, and one locally.

Nationally, it's the revelation that, under pressure from the Administration, the EPA changed air-quality warnings about the ground Zero site to make them reassurances that there was nothing to worry about--which was a flat lie! Even if there are no overtly toxic substances in concrete dust, you don't want to breathe it! Microscopically, a particle of shattered concrete is a little bundle of sharp edges. Many of the rescue and repair workers that helped clear the site now are suffering the permanent debilitating effects of lung damage, and all because their country lied to them! For no discernible reason! For the life of me, I can't think why the government shold have done this terrible thing. There is some misguided idea here about calming fears and putting a good faith on things, but in the end it boils down to a despicable betrayal of people who worked their hearts out, often as volunteers, to clear the attack site. This stinks! If the government would lie to us about this, it would lie about anything. There is no doubt in my mind that we were lied to about the presence of 'weapons of mass destruction' as a pretext for the war on Iraq, too, and I shudder to think what OTHER falsehoods we have been given that we haven't yet discovered.

It seems about once a year we see news of some child dying as a result of religious abuse. Either the child is denied simple medical care due to religious beliefs, or, as just happened locally, dies as a result of being "exorcised." Terrance Cottrell, Jr., age 8, was an autistic child. He died this weekend as a result of being held down for two hours, while members of the "Church of the Apostolic Faith" tried to pray "evil spirits" out of him. These evil spirits were blamed for the boy's autism and frequent violent behavior. According to the coroner's report in the paper today, one of the Church "Elders" sat on the boy's chest to restrain him, resulting in suffocation. The death has been ruled a homicide, although charges have not yet been issued. Of course, the leader of Church claims that nothing wrong was done and that the child's death was an act of God.

One expects outrages like this to occur in third-world countries, not Milwaukee. Where were these people's common sense? No matter what your faith in God, wouldn't any idiot realize you're hurting the kid? Yet this entire congregation tolerated this behavior, apparently not just once, but through nightly prayer services for almost three weeks!

This is a difficult area of law. Wisconsin statutes protect religious freedom, and specifically provide that choosing "treatment through prayer" (as in Christian Science) is not child abuse, although in this case the physical abuse may be a crime. Frankly, I disagree with even the statute--I don't believe children should be endangered by their guardians' religious excesses, no matter how doctrinally grounded. The mental state that brought about this poor child's needless death just baffles me. If God's going to grant you a miracle cure, God can grant it with one prayer,and whereever the child is. Trying to coerce God by marathon prayer sessions is blasphemous according to most sects, and certainly the physical constraint of the prayer subject pretty much went out with the Inquisition. How does this mumbo-jumbo keep coming back?

The district attorney's office indicates that only Ray Hemphill, the 'elder' who sat on the boy and was in charge of the prayer process, might be charged. If it were up to me, I'd have the whole lot of them in jail as parties to the crime.