Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

New Toys (& Other Birka Notes)

Having spent yesterday at Birka, the day was of course spent primarily on the two main activities of that event: shopping and court. A few random observations:

Shoppingses: As could probably be predicted, we mainly spent money on books and other media. The takings from the Merchant's Quarter were:

-- European Cooking from Rome to the Renaissance: 2002 Conference Proceedings, in CD-ROM form. These proceedings turn out to be really an excellent presentation, with a lot of useful and fun articles. The main focus seems to be coloring and candying -- Elise Fleming and Cindy Renfrow did essentially an entire track on these subjects -- but there's a bunch of other cool stuff, including what amounts to an extended advertisement for the all-period restaurant that Jaelle has opened in Estonia. (Something to remember the next time I'm in Central Europe.)

-- Flavours of Byzantium, an interesting overview of Byzantine cooking, including translations of several short period sources on nutrition.

-- The Elizabethan Underworld, a hardcover book from 1930 (apparently a discard from Newton Free Library!), collecting all of the major sources on crime and gambling. I have editions of a number of these thanks to alexx_kay, but several of them are new to me, like The Highway to the Spital-House and The Black Dog of Newgate. The book is in mediocre condition, but still very neat.

-- Reunion, Li Kung Lo's long-awaited album. After hearing about the production of this for the past couple of years, I'm very curious to see how it came out. (I've been hearing some of these songs since they were composed, so it'll be interesting to see what they sound like when fully produced.)

-- A pen from Godith's table. I always want more of her cool beads, but since I don't wear necklaces all that much, I don't have that many excuses for them. But I can always use a pen.

-- Finally, a pair of socks. Hey, it isn't that easy to get decent socks for those short pants.

Court was a bit of a butt-buster, as is usual for Birka. Mostly not people we knew, since it was out-Barony, but it was worth it to see outlander and laurion get their AoAs, as well as Anne of Felding. I wound up getting called into court to accept an AoA for someone who wasn't present (since Jehan was a bit ill, and needed to leave court early). Having remembered to bring our kneeling cushions for a change, there actually weren't all that many Big Fancy Awards that I had to be in court for.

After court, a gang of us went out for sushi at Jay House, a very nice little asian restaurant a bit south of Manchester that has become msmemory's and my susherie of choice lately. We sort of overwhelmed the restaurant -- 11 people is right up at the limit of how many people they can cope with -- but we had a fun time noshing away and teaching ladysprite and others a bit about sushi.

It turned out that far more people stayed overnight last night than I expected -- Birka is now held at a Holiday Inn and Convention Center, so the hotel is literally in the middle of the event. As a result, Curia this morning reportedly had about 60 people (and no business to speak of), and it looks like a couple hundred stayed over. According to Olaf, they are tentatively planning on formally making Birka into a 2-day event next year. Bit by bit, it's turning into SCACon East: it's already 2000+ people (easily the largest event in the Kingdom), and as it gets longer and bigger, it looks more and more like a curious hybrid between an event and an SF con. I'm given to understand that West Kingdom 12th Night works like this, and I have to say that it has potential.

(However, it does have one major problem: the hotel has a dozen floors, only three elevators, and they're slow. Anyone with Con-going experience knows the hassles this can cause.)

I did feel a little sorry for my old friend Cecelia, who was running Security, though -- this event has gotten big enough that Security is a big issue. They apparently have had to start really cracking down on the mundanes who are treating it as a Renfaire: way too many people are attending off the street, with no interest in the SCA and no willingness to play the game. I suspect it'll take a couple of years to get that really settled down, having been rather too casual about it over the past few years.

Overall, a fun event, and relatively laid-back to attend...

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