National Geographic

On Saturday, I attended the Texas State Jousting tournament which took place in the Village of Sherwood. I do not normally seek out entertainment that involves grown men poking each other with sticks. So when I say attended, what I really mean is that I keep a shop within the village where I sell the books we write and the toys I make. I can see the jousting lists from my doorway.

My shop also happens to be right next to the stables and the gate where the jousters come in and out. On this particular day the back area of my shop and all the surrounding area was crawling with National Geographic film crews. They were there to film the jousting for one of their TV Specials due to be aired this fall. Being a considerate and accommodating creature, I did my best to work around them, and even set up a couple of my chairs for them to use during the day.

Around mid-afternoon I was ready for a break myself and went out back to spend some time in my favorite lounger. This was when I discovered why National Geographic travels all over the world. It’s to get away from the wasted environments they leave in their wake. What I found in my backyard was cheese (I hope) smeared into the seat of my chair. The remains of the offending sandwich and the wrapper had been tossed on the ground nearby despite the large garbage can five feet away. Empty drink containers were scattered liberally around with other bits of random garbage. Before I could sit down and relax I had too wipe down my chair, cover it with a clean cloth, pick up all the garbage in my backyard, and kick the empty drink containers into a pile around their coolers.

But it turned out okay. At the end of the day they gave me a hat to thank me for allowing them to take over and destroy my eco-culture. This is in the civilized tradition of giving representatives of a local culture (i.e. obviously inferior and savage culture because they did not have the benefit of our civilization’s culture) cheap adornments in exchange for taking whatever they want.

I’m not looking at your breasts, I’m reading your T-shirt

When participating in fantasy conventions, one is right where the mainstream falls over the edge into the bizarre and sacrilegious. This is prominently advertised on the myriad T-shirts seen about the place. The range starts with the merely devotional ones that proclaims the wearer’s loyalty to the green lantern or his favorite beer. It then travels through a range of sexy characters to humor where it finally ends with the inside joke. These are the ones requiring the specialized geek knowledge necessary to recognize the foundations of the humor. If you don’t get the joke then you probably didn’t watch the show of read the comic. “And then Buffy staked Edward, The End” is only funny if you are a fan of Buffy and annoyed with Twilight. And lets face it, if you’re at a convention, you probably are.

I don’t deal in T-shirts myself, but I do have my own inside jokes. I have long been known for my vampire slayer kits. Recently, by popular demand, I have added a zombie kit to my inventory. Each Zombie kit includes a Twinkie. About half of my customers ask “why a Twinkie?” The other half burst out with a variation on “oh my god that is so funny.”

Their reaction makes it worth explaining Zombieland to the others. My “the term you want is callipygian” shirt gets a smile from only the esoterically knowledgeable. I never explain. I’m wearing a kilt and they have smartphones.


Spring has once again been sprung upon us here in the Northern hemisphere. When I was a young lad, this meant that it was time to get the garden planted. It also meant that we had just finished planting about 10,000 tree seedlings over the past month or two, often in the pouring rain.

And no, we were not engaged in a reforestation project. These trees were destined, after about ten years of growth, to be cut down and stuck up in someone’s living room for a few weeks before heading to their final destination in a land fill.

But that was thirty years ago in Northern California. Today, in suburban Texas, Spring means repairing the lawn and getting some potted plants from Lowe’s to flesh out the flower bed. My vegetables are imported from third world countries, modified genetically, and lacking most of their traditional flavor.

And yet, Spring is still a time of rebirth and renewal. I may no longer be a farmer, but my business still follows the seasons. After the feast of the Christmas season, there was a time of rest during the darkness of winter. It was a time for preparing as well. I spent it repairing the house and making stockpiles of toys for the upcoming festival season which began with the opening of the Spring fair at the Sherwood Forest Medieval Fair. And so now I am once again tending my business like a garden and encouraging its growth.