October 27th, 2008


Dance and Tea

A dance exercise, inspired by my morning cup of Lapsang Souchong:

Some period dance forms (especially 16th century Italian) prize self-control as particularly important. Doing the dances really well requires not just small steps but *controlled* steps: not letting your body jiggle around randomly, but always being exactly where you mean to be. This is one of the hardest things for the typical SCAdian social dancer to learn, since we do so many forms like bransles and English Country pretty exuberantly. (Possibly more exuberantly than would have been appropriate in period, but since the original sources don't warn you much against that, we don't worry about it as much.)

So here's a simple exercise for learning your own body's tendencies and starting to control them. Fill a mug of water (or, in my case, hot tea) most of the way up. Walk up and down the stairs. Try not to spill any of the water. Once you can do that, fill the mug a bit fuller, go up and down the stairs faster, and inject a bit more spring into your step rather than walking on eggshells.

That's pretty much it: it's a very simple, but gives you a sense of how connected all the bits of your body are. Moving your feet and body up and down without rocking the cup too much requires starting to learn how to separate those bits: moving your feet a lot without moving your hands too much forces you to take up the shock of the movement elsewhere in your body. It emphasizes the fact that control is *not* the same thing as stiffness -- carrying a full cup while going up and down requires instead a controlled springiness, which is the heart of late-Italian dance.

Don't read too much into this -- it's not specifically an exercise for learning trabuchetti or anything like that. (Learning to do trabs perfectly would probably require putting the cup on top of your head.) But it's a straightforward way to start getting a sense of how your pieces interact, and a first step towards managing that interaction...

Weekend Update

An assortment of notes from a moderately busy weekend:

I need to remember that Glenn Linn is further than I think. I hadn't internalized that Crown was really four hours away, so the drive over on Friday night was a bit more tiring than I'd expected.

Saturday started quite well, thanks to svava. We were part of an "encampment" that took over one of the little cottage-villages down the road from the Crown site; Vis and Mara invited us to stay in their spare room. Our cabin was... well, let's say "rustic" (which didn't really surprise me), but we all got together in the morning in a really lovely chalet that Nicolette and company were staying in, as Svava made a fine breakfast consisting of bacon, eggs, bacon, potatoes, bacon, coffee, bacon, bacon and bacon. (This was roughly enough: never underestimate the appetite of a large group of cold SCAdians for bacon.)

The weather was medium-sucky: worse than average, but not exceptional for fall Crown. The day started drizzly, and gradually evolved towards genuine Rain as the tournament wore on. Fortunately, it wasn't dreadfully cold -- mid-50s, so the rain was bearable -- but the consensus decision was to punt the procession in order to get things moving along and minimize the standing-in-the-rain time.

The site was a bit tricky to navigate, but very pretty. I'd love to come to an event there when the weather is nicer: I suspect that those long trails from the parking lot to the list field would be beautiful. As it was, the footing was a tad tricky due to all the wet leaves. (And finding one's way was a trick unto itself: the paths were long and winding, and despite many signs along the way, you had to pay very close attention to where you were going.)

My outlook was generally kept up thanks to lady_cassia, who provided hot cider and stew for the greater Lochleven/Camelot/etc crowd. There are few better ways to fend off cold and wet than good hot stew. msmemory provided a rolled roast from a recipe that she got from lucianus -- that went over quite well, and we'll undoubtedly make it more and fiddle with it.

The tourney itself went fine to my eyes, with many good bouts. The finals (Griffyth vs Andreas) weren't exactly a surprise, but it always makes for a more interesting Crown Tourney when there are so many serious contenders in the lists. A bunch of Carolingians were involved in running the lists, with myself, msmemory, rosinavs and Eowyn heralding, and tpau and etherial list-running.

We decided to take off after the tourney was done, because we didn't know of any relevant business in court. (Which proved incorrect, but such is life.) For the second time this fall, I wound up driving home for hours through the heart of a major storm (having been in central MA when the hurricane passed through last month). Not the most fun in the world, but it does help one stay awake.

Yesterday I decided to take advantage of the pretty day and go to thrown weapons practice. That turned out to be rather small -- no reminder had gotten sent out (since Jon is just a tad distracted at the moment), so it wound up just being me and Brokk, with Jon joining us for a while. That was fine, though: Brokk was able to watch my form and make some tweaks, which made a *huge* difference in the results. I'd say I was throwing about twice as well as I've ever managed before.

We had intended to get out to the Babydolls show last night, but wimped out due to timing. I'd been casually assuming that, even with an opening act, the 'dolls would be going on at 9ish or so. (Having foolishly not read the announcements carefully.) When we went to the Church website and found out that they were scheduled to take the stage at 10:30, we spent about half an hour dithering before deciding that we just didn't have enough Cope for being out that late on a worknight. Makes me sad, but hopefully the show went well...

Yay open source libraries

The downside of open source is that support is often a bit indifferent -- witness the fact that the released binary version of the OpenID library I'm using is fully 200 revs behind the Subversion repository. OTOH, the upside is that, when something goes wrong, I can, with sufficient blood, sweat and tears, generally fix it myself.

I think I have the OpenID problem mentioned last week dealt with. It looks like LiveJournal is just plain broken (albeit subtly so): they're now including an illegal empty parameter in the OpenID protocol, which was causing the library to choke. I've finally tracked that down and hacked around it by tweaking the library to cope. So with any luck, CommYou login for LJ will be working again when I release the alpha candidate tomorrow...
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