Opening Weekend 2009 – Best & Worsts


  • First thing Saturday morning being set upon by the Sheriff and his men, and getting patrons to lie to him in my defense 🙂
  • Having so many friends show up to support Andy and I at our first show in Kids Kingdom Saturday. It meant a lot!
  • Having a much larger audience at the end of Andy and I’s show than at the beginning.
  • Singing in the street with Jon Baade, and Jen Brinkman, and earlier with Jen Spitzer
  • Having a patron shout “you bastard!” at the sheriff when he attacked Jyncks, and the bursts of laughter when I “re-inflated” Jyncks after the fight.
  • Watching Robin and his men fawn over Jyncks after his defeat and totally ignore Little john writhing in agony on the ground.
  • Being able to help in the process of re-uniting a little lost girl, Lizzy, with her parents.
  • A sweet little extremely well mannered and well spoken ~5year old girl who right after the funeral described to me in great detail her exciting time at the maypole.
  • Being in the right place at the right time to support friends after the funeral procession
  • Worst

  • Sundays Funeral Procession
  • Missing out on the Musicians revel I love so much
  • Absolute Best

  • The serendipity moment of being out with the repaired “pirate’s booty” puppet when we encountered a group of blind children. (Details to come)
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The suitcase is packed… mostly…

Tonight I think I may have managed to pack 3 personalities into one suitcase. It wasn’t an easy task believe me. “Why are you packing?”, you may ask. You may even ask, “Where are you going?” Well, its that time of year again when I get to travel for work to the location of the yearly conference for our user group for our Library Automation Software vendor. This year I struck gold with the trip though. It just so happens that the conference is nestled all nicely in the middle of the week that falls between Opening and second weekend of the Scarborough Renaissance Faire in Waxahachie, TX. Waxahachie is 30 minutes south of Dallas and the conference is, yep, you guessed it, in Dallas!
So, this year I get to attend both the conference and the faire. Work agreed to fly me down early and back late, (same price just different days than I normally would have) allowing me to attend the faire on the weekends. Work will pay for my hotel while I’m at the conference, and thanks to a VERY generous friend and his wife, I have a place to crash when not at the hotel.
WOOT! So, look out Scarborough here I come!

For those keeping score, the three personalities include:

  1. Work John
  2. John T. Hawser
  3. Relaxing John

Oh, also, while packing I found a pocket in the suitcase that I had apparently missed when unpacking from the Germany trip, and I found the gift I bought for my mother that I was sure I had lost! She was very pleased.

Ohio Day 2 – A pirate at the gate

Sunday was day two if the Ohio Renaissance faire pirate invasion weekend. Chris and I arrived about 30 minutes before the gates opened and so spent some time out front taking pictures and interacting with some of the cast. Saturday pre-gate interaction seemed almost non existant, there were the Toga guys who seemed to just do a lot of yelling at people or talking about modern things like cars, seatbelts, and YouTube. There was a talented young man who was checking for weapons, who seemed very capable of handling the crowd in a constructive manner. Sunday the rest of the cast seemed to have woken up or something as there was a lot more pre-gate activity. It started with a man who activly engaged the audience in cheering and shouting. I had to laugh as his first attept to have the crowd shout for a young child to make her feel special resulted in a lack luster response from all but three people. Chris, David, and I, all three capable of a decent outside voice, overpowered the entire rest of the audience in our response. It shocked the performer. “you sir”, pointing at me, “Are worth half an audience alone!” I laughed…
I also met with one of their more talented noble women, who was worried for the safety of all of her jewlery what with all the pirates about. She had decided to blend in by dressing the part. Her take on this was to add a skull and crossbones bandanna under her hat. She played it up rather well, certain that pirates everywhere would now pay no attention to her in her “disguise”. I couldn’t resist giving her a mini message in a bottle, explaining she needed to know the proper method of sending forth messages to pirates which would certainly help convincing any pirate she encountered. She seemed genuinly thrilled that a patron was playing along with her bit.
After the gates opened we stepped inside and stopped to listen to the muscians. While there I became aware of a large family standing to one side ignored. I couldn’t resist… I ambled over and greeted them as if I were cast… I noticed the youngest boy was very timid and scared. I motioned for him to come closer and got down on my knees. The father figure in the group eventually was able to bring the boy closer with the help of the boy’s brother and sister. The father explained the boy was scared of pirates, a rather obvious statement. I then set upon working my magic. I started off by reassuring the lad that there was absolutly nothing to fear from any of us. I then asked each child their name starting with the young boy, who had now relaxed a bit. He muttered something unintelligible. The father encouraged him, “Go ahead Malichi”. The boy then repeated his name a bit louder but still unintelligable. Not wanting to embarrass him I used what I overheard from his father and greeted him in person. I then progressed down the line getting each childs name. At that point I rummaged in my treasure chest retrieved 2 bottles and a dragon tear. I presented the boys each with their own bottle, Malachi’s eyes lit up. I then, with a bit of dramatic flourish presented the girl with the dragon tear. She too lit up with delight. I then progressed into the story of how the magical stones work. At the end of the story I added that I suspect that the bottles, being good at holding things, might just bottle up happy memories too. The boys both looked excited. At that we all began to pose for pictures. I leaned over to Malachi and asked if he would like to hold the treasure chest. He nodded vigerously.
After taking a handful of pictures I proceeded over to the woman in the group who was wheelchair bound and who had been quietly observing the intteraction with a smile. “My dear lady I would be horribly remiss if I were to allow you to leave my company without a treasure of your own.” I reached in the chest blindy and let it work it’s magic, my fingers latched onto a brilliant blue stone which I presented to her. I asked if she heard my story earlier to which she replied “oh yes!” she then thanked me greatly. “my lady, would you care for a portrait of your own?” “oh! yes please!”
I then positioned myself behind her chair, extended both oars, placed my head near hers and began to row. The family burst into laughter and got their photo. I then excused myself, said good bye to Malachi and started to leave. The father approached me, thanked me and commented that little Malachi was afraid the pirates would eat him. I stepped back agast and then reassured him he had nothing to fear, as pirates certainly would not eat little boys. At that I left them to rejoin Chris and David who both complimented me.

More later…

Ohio, day 1

Yesterday Chris, Mike and I attended the Ohio faire. Mike had never been and was in the area so he joined us. While there we were met by Curt and Ray as well. The morning gate was a bit difficult to here but seemed to involve lord leister or the mayor leaving the money needed for her magestys progress in the care of pirates who of course we suddenly nowhere to be found, thus setting the stage for the latter game of human chess.
Over all we did not notice a lot of changes to the site physically since we were last there 3 to 5 years ago. The cast seemed much Smaller this year and in some cases much less trained. It’s a shame really as they are a very energitic bunch.
I did have one interaction that stood out, sadly for the wrong reasons. I was walking along with Chris when I heard three guys make snide remarks about my oars, they then approach to “interact”. The three were dressed in frat boy representations of Greeks. The concept made no sence to us but whatever. Then one guy made a comment about the size of my oars and joked to his companion “and he’s got a small chest to boot”, at that he smacked me in the chest had enough to make a “thud”. I was so taken back with him actually striking a patron that I had nothing to say. Apparently noticing this, his companion called me on it. “so what do you have to say about that!” I responded, “I have absolutly nothing to say and frankly I am going to walk away and ignore you complettly before I do.”
Seriously, as far as Im conscerned it is NEVER ok to hit a patron! Ever!

A look of shock

Sunday as I rowed about the faire I came across a couple of woman walking along, quietly observing the faire.  The first woman saw me, chuckled, and poked her friend in order to point me out.   When I come across behavior like that I immediately take it as an open invitation to play.  I approached them, “Good day ladies, why walk when you can ride, I’d be happy to row ya to yer destination.”  The woman who had pointed me out in the first place laughed, and the two agreed.   “Now, mind the wobbly railing, I’ve been meaning ta get that fixed” The second woman looked at me with a playful smile and very cautiously stepped over the “railing”.  The first woman walked right over behind her, not stepping over the railing.  The second woman saw this, and called her friend on it. “HEY!!! You didn’t get in right!” The first woman argued that she had in fact stepped over the railing.  This response was met by a more excited, and slightly more juvenile sounding, “No you didn’t!” The two continued back and forth for a few seconds unaware that with each retort their argument was regressing further back into that of a childhood playground.  I stood there compleetly amused by this and non-verbally calling attention to the two of them as others passed.  Then, one of the two realized that they were indeed bickering like little kids and the look upon her face was nothing short of priceless.  At first a look of shock came over her face. I can only imagine that the internal monologue she was having went something like this.  “oh god, I hope no one saw that, I’m an adult i should act my age…”  Without the continued feedback the second woman also realized what they had been doing, and the same momentary look of shock appeared on her face, but then both looks were replaced by a guilty smirk that then grew into a full fledged ear to ear grin, followed by laughter.  At that point they produced a camera and begged me for pictures with them.  As the one woman stepped back to snap the picture the other called out “HEY!!! You’re in the water!” “No I’m not! I can walk on water!”, came the sing-songly retort, followed by an eruption of giggles from the two women.   The two then traded places and there was an shout of, “You’re going to get eaten by sharks!!!”  I saw the one struggling for a response and  I interjected “No, she’s fine, didn’t you see her extend the plank off the bow of the ship?” “Yeah! See I walked out on the plank!!!”, more giggles erupted.  With the last picture taken the two carefully stepped over the imaginary railing, burst into a fit of laughter again, and said goodbye.  Not letting them get off so easily I commented “but we haven’t docked yet, now you both are swimming. ” Laughter ensued, and I rowed onward.

I was really fun to see them able to let go of their preconceptions of how one should behave, and just relax and have fun even for just a few moments.  I can’t help but wonder if the two of them continued to play like that the rest of the day.

Saturday at the revel

Saturday, FOF had a singalong that lasted for an hour and a half. That was fun but I pretty much trashed my voice that had not really fully recovered from last week. This normally wouldn’t be any problem at all, and I didn’t even give it a second thought. About 30 minutes later I arrived at the revel. When I got there I started moving a few benches over like normal. Then Jesse blindsided me by requesting I get up front and sing. I protested and appologized for not having much voice left and then went ahead with “Ambletown”. It was really a surreal moment to say the least. A handfull of the regulars knew the song and sang along on the chorus which helped settle my nerves a little. Then about 3/4 of the way through Jesse started playing along on his guiter. I have to admit the whole experience was very cool. I just wish I had actually had my full voice. Afterwards, everyone applauded, and Jesse said some very nice things. I spent the rest of the revel up front with the muscians. It was really a wild experience to say the least.
Thank you Jesse.

A slight thorn on the rose

I do have one regret from yesterday.

Early on in the day as I was rowing along I met a little girl, probably 6 or so. She had the brightest smile and the sweetest manor. She was traveling with her brother, I’d say around 11, and their parents. She saw Anoki and lit up, so I began to talk to them. She quickly accepted that he was a puppet and was not phased by this fact. She complimented me on my “ship” and took me up on my offer to row. We rowed a big circle around the family and then “docked”. I then went to my knees and gave both kids a message in a bottle. The little girl and I then continued our conversation. She explained that her brother has a laboratory with a laser and a real time machine. I accepted this as fact instantly. The concerned brother stepped up to me and felt it important to inform me with a whisper in the ear that they aren’t really real but that it’s kind of like a trick, but he doesn’t want to disappoint her. I looked at him and calmly said “I understand”. At this I directed some questions to the expert on the lab and had him tell me more of his time machine, he grinned, as did the parents, and he then expounded upon her story. He was very careful to state that it was currently out of fuel and that time machine fuel is very expensive and hard to get. “Oh absolutely, we all understand those prices for fuel!” The parents laughed. The sister then took back control when she remembered an exciting piece of information. “Last year I was on a real ship here!” “Oh her magistys ship the Dreadnought?” She looked confused. “The big one over there in the water?” I then pointed towards the Dreadnought. The girl looked pensive for a moment and responded, “No it had sand” “Ahhh yes over in kids kingdom, I know the ship you speak of”
“Yeah and there was a guy on it, uhh… rahh… Rahhj…” “Ahhh yes, Rodger Raliegh, good sailor, know em well.” Her eyes brightened, “Ahh but ya know Rodger is off to sea this year.” She looked disappointed at this news, “But! His cousin Artemus is there, and you know what… “, I leaned in and motioned her closer, “I think he is a bit of a wizard! But you tell him you’re friends with Rodger and I bet he’ll be happy to hear it” “oh!!!”, she exclaimed, “Then he can teach me some wizard spells!” “I bet he can!” At that she seemed excited and she started to head off to kids kingdom, family in tow. She then stopped turned and looked as if to hug me, stopped short of that, then said, “You’re my favorite!” “awww thankee lass! You have a wonderful day!”

At this point you may be wondering where the bad was?

Later in the day I was passing kids kingdom, with my friends from Port Washington. I heard this forcefull yet cheery, “Hello!” Ian and I looked down to discover my little friend and her enormous smile grinning back up at us. “Come on! Lets go sail on the ship!” While Ian and I had stopped TJ and Gerard, in front of us had continued on unaware of our unexpected stop. I weighed my options. I know from past experience, that if I set foot in Kids Kingdom I’ll be there for at least an hour before I can manage to get myself out. (Ok, Yeah I’m a sucker…) I glanced over at Ian, and he seemed to understand and so I asked her if the ship was ready to sail. “Uhhh yes, absolutely!” “And you swabbed the deck?” Ian confirmed the importance of this task. The girl, not wanting to lose us insisted that it was indeed swabbed. We then tossed out another nautical task, and at this she said she would go check, and ran off to the ship with a “Come on!” trailing behind her. Ian and I looked at each other and then moved to catch up with the rest of our group. We both agreed that under different circumstances we would have stayed and played around some, but we had a limited amount of time and this was probably for the best. Still, I found myself glancing back a few times to see if she was back looking for us.

I just hope I didn’t disappoint her to badly. I still feel kinda guilty for dismissing her as she was a really sweet kid. Should I have gone with her?