Monday, October 31, 2005

Swetnam Fencing 1: Single Rapier Guard and Inside Parry

I've mentioned Joseph Swetnam a few times before. He was a prize-fighting fencer in England in the late 16th century, and he published a fighting manual in 1617 called Schoole of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defence. I'll be teaching a class on this style at the upcoming Kingdom Fighters' Collegium, so I prevailed upon Hawk to assist me with a few pictures the day after our Halloween party.

Joseph Swetnam was a cautious man, at least in some ways. He advocates fighting an opponent from as far away as possible. In fact, he considers "true distance" to be about twelve feet.

As you might imagine, it's rather hard to go on the offensive from "true distance", so much of Swetnam's technique is defensive, striving to gain control of an opponent's blade during their approach and then delivering a riposte. For example, if your opponent attempts an "inside" thrust to your body, you can easily move your hilt from right to left to parry the attack. This move also tends to create an opportunity for you to grip your opponent's blade with your free hand. Swetnam doesn't actually mention this hand parry, but I consider it a good measure.

From this position, you can step toward your opponent and counter-thrust while keeping his blade under control.

I'll be adding more pictures and discussion over the next few weeks as I prepare for the Collegium, but I don't want to throw too much into a single post. Besides, it grows late here, and I have to work for a living.

Part 2

Being Excellent to Each Other

And partying on, dudes. Halloween Partying, that is. As some of my readers may know (from attending), we held our first annual Halloween Party out at our farm, Howling Rock. You can't really appreciate it from the picture, since the party tent was a black light zone, but we do have a couple of pictures.

Naturally we had attendees in costume; we even had a costume contest with a prize. Unfortunately I was a bit distracted and failed to keep the camera about to get pictures of all the different costumes in attendance, but I did manage to grab this one of Ursula and Hawk as Medusa and the Mad Scientist.

We also had a vampire, a demon, a furry, two Blue Sun Corporation agents, Boccaccio the Bad and his fuzzy-faced fraulein, Maleficent, a Pict-zie, a Harry Potter character that I'm not familiar with (not being much of an HP reader), the Phantom of the Opera, and a smattering of SCA garb.

Special congratulations go out to Jenn, though, who had the prize winning costume of the evening. Not only did she produce a convincing ensemble, she also got extra points for irony with her Cruella DeVille costume (Jenn being a vegetarian).

Other activities included the traditional Bobbing for Apples in the hot tub, an event that was a virtual shutout. Adam cast off most of his Phantom costume and was practically in the tub, waist deep, inverted, snatching apples. I think he ended up with like 75% of all the apples that originally went in the tub.

We also had a scary-but-tasty food contest which included a jello fish bowl, a "vomit" dip, "finger" sandwiches, and an assortment of other creepy delicacies. Sorry, all, but my memory is a bit fuzzy from the "vile green stuff" in the punch bowl. By the way, blood orange juice (if you can find it) and rum make a great mix; have to think of a suitably Halloween-ish name for that concoction. Something bloody, since it's certainly the right color.

There was a bonfire and dancing and much merriment, and I do think a good time was had by all. Most of the guests stayed overnight (many of them being in no condition to drive anyway), and I thank them profusely for their assistance in clearing up the party aftermath. Once we could pry them out of their puppy pile, that is...

Friday, October 28, 2005


For your Halloween weekend entertainment, go kill some zombies.

A New Dance Resource

Oh frabjous day! Calloo! Callay!

Sorry. I just found a link to an online translation of Fabritio Caroso's 1581 dance manual, Il Ballarino. I haven't looked through much of it yet; just finding it got me excited enough to post. I look forward to delving through it in search of "new" 16th century Italian dances to research, develop, and perform.

The Queen's Dance Geek is a happy!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

College of Skepticism

The Uncredible Hallq has posted the latest Skeptic's Circle: read up!

WoW: Halloween Tricks

I love Halloween in the World of Warcraft. I've received wands that "costume" people, candy that restores health, apples that restore health and increase stamina, and masks of troll, night elf, and dwarf faces.

I've also received some good tricks. I've been turned into a black cat, a skeleton, a mini-Diablo, and an undead pirate.

Halloween rocks!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

WoW: Return to the Deadmines

I recently took another trip to the Deadmines while playing Escovar on the Feathermoon server. This time I had the presence of mind to take some screenshots at critical points in the trip. I started my trip by talking to the innkeeper in Sentinel Hill, who placed me in the queue to join a group for the dungeon. I eventually ended up with two warriors, a druid, and a priest, which makes for a pretty good dungeon group.

Once on the list, I needed to get to Moonbrook, which lies south of Sentinel Hill. You can work a series of quests to find out where the entrance to the Deadmines lies, or you can just ask someone, or you can look for the very visible spire shown in the image below.

Once in Moonbrook, you need to go to the southwest corner of the village to look for a large building (shown below).

There's a meeting stone just southwest of the building that's a bit of a giveaway, too.

Once you get into the mines themselves, you'll need to work your way west, taking turns as needed until you find the Instance, seen in the image to the right. Once you go through the shiny circle, monsters stay dead when you kill them, and you'll stop seeing adventurers who aren't members of your party.

On your way to the entrance, you'll pass a "fork" in the tunnels where you can turn right or go across a bridge into an area that looks blue or purple on your mini-map. I unfortunately forgot to grab a screencap of this point; I'll update this article if I remember it on a future pass through the dungeon. This off-color area is where you'll find the Miners' Cards you need to complete the Collecting Memories quest. You'll also find undead monsters in fairly dense clusters that can be hard to fight. Best have a full group just to work this area, since crowd-control spells like Polymorph don't work on undead.

The Deadmines are a fairly straightforward dungeon. Side paths generally lead to dead ends pretty quickly, so you won't have much trouble finding your way to the key encounters. The first Boss you'll encounter will be Rhahk'Zor the Foreman, a large ogre. I saw stunning effects from the warriors work on him, but I remember he was immune to something I tried as a hunter; maybe it's poison that doesn't work. Anyway, with two fighters and a druid in bear form holding his attention, a priest keeping them health, and a steady stream of Arcane Missiles from me, he went down without much difficulty. There are a couple of Overseers in the same room where he waits, but if you pull him when he's close to the entrance, you shouldn't have to fight them at the same time.

Important safety tip: Defeating Rhahk'Zor apparently releases a patrol, consisting of an Overseer and a spellcaster (I forget what they're called). I'm not entirely sure whether they're triggered or simply pop up on a regular schedule, but their arrival time is pretty suspicious. It's a good idea to go back and kill them, since they'll generally arrive just in time to hit you in the back about the time you're fighting the next boss if you don't.

Past Rhahk'Zor, you'll soon find yourself in the Lumber Room, where Lumbermaster Sneed lurks in his giant Shredder machine. Sneed and the Shredder are the objects of a quest that you can get in the Dwarven District of Stormwind. Make sure your group shares all of their quests before you get to this point in the dungeon.

This guy can be pretty harsh. The Shredder is heavily armored and does a lot of damage. There are also a lot of other goblins in the room, and you don't want to be fighting them at the same time you're fighting the Shredder, so you should pull them out and kill them first. Beware when you bring the Shredder down; Sneed will fall out and start attacking you in just a moment, and he's not a weakling, either.

Again, lookout for the patrol before you move on.

Past the Lumber Room, you'll follow a tunnel to the Smelter. This room has a long spiral ramp leading down to a lower floor, and you'll find Gilnid the Smelter himself at the bottom.

The monsters here are goblins engineers who either throw firebombs or shoot guns. The gunners will also drop little golems that will run up to attack you. If you pull more than one or two of these guys, you can find yourselves overwhelmed surprisingly fast. There are also rooms hidden under the ramp where more goblins lurk, and they'll come out if you move on to the central platform at the bottom; that's how we pulled too many goblins and got wiped! Stick to the outside wall when you come down the ramp and minimize the number of goblins you have to fight at once.

Again, lookout for the patrol.

Past the smelter, you'll follow the tunnel down to a large door with a cannon pointed at it. Somewhere along the way you have to pick up the charge to prep the cannon for firing. I've never been the one who picked that item up, so I don't know where you get it, but I suspect that it's near impossible to get that far without someone in your party picking it up. Whoever has it needs to fire the cannon.

Beyond the blasted door, is the secret dock of the Defias Pirate Battleship. You can fight your way down the dock, or you can do what we did on this trip: follow the coast around toward the other end of the dock, then swim across to it.

You'll have to fight a few goblins, but you may find that preferable to fighting your way through all the pirates. I think we only tried the end run because we were running out of time (see below).

At the end of the dock, you'll reach the boarding plank to the pirate ship, which is guarded by Mr. Smite.

As you can see, Mr. Smite is a large Tauren warrior. A couple of Defias assassins (I don't remember exactly what they're called) will join him when he starts fighting you. He'll start with a single one-handed weapon, but after taking a certain amount of damage, he'll use an enhanced version of the Tauren "War Stomp" to stun your entire party. This is annoying, because it lasts a fairly long time, and his companions will keep hitting you while he runs off to get a different weapon. He comes back with two weapons after his first stomp.

I recommend detailing one fighter to keep Mr. Smite busy while your party concentrates on taking out his buddies first. We didn't do that, and we got wiped. From previous experience, however, I know that he has at least one more Stomp in him before he goes down; he'll come back with a two-handed weapon for the Final Round.

Alas, my report on this venture to the Deadmines ends here, because Blizzard rebooted the server shortly after Mr. Smite and his cronies wiped us out (that's why we were in a hurry).

Disaster in the Making

Dr. Michael Behe uses his own personal definition of a scientific theory that is broader than the one used by most of the scientific community (like the one used by the American Association for the Advancement of Science). In fact, his definition of a scientific theory is so broad that astrology qualifies. In his own words

Under my definition, a scientific theory is a proposed explanation which
focuses or points to physical, observable data and logical inferences. There are
many things throughout the history of science which we now think to be incorrect
which nonetheless would fit that – which would fit that definition. Yes,
astrology is in fact one, and so is the ether theory of the propagation of
light, and many other -- many other theories as well.
The natural implication of Behe’s definition is that a “theory” doesn’t need to demonstrate any level of accuracy to be scientific, so we should discuss any and all unproven theories in grade school science classes.

And let me explain under my definition of the word ‘theory,’ it is -- a sense
of the word ‘theory’ does not include the theory being true, it means a
proposition based on physical evidence to explain some facts by logical
inferences. There have been many theories throughout the history of science
which looked good at the time which further progress has shown to be incorrect.
Nonetheless, we can’t go back and say that because they were incorrect they were
not theories. So many many things that we now realized to be incorrect,
incorrect theories, are nonetheless theories.
What Behe neglects to mention is that we don’t teach incorrect theories to grade school students! We don’t teach alchemy alongside chemistry; we don’t teach astrology alongside astronomy, and we don’t teach the “Flat Earth Theory” alongside modern geography! The AAAS definition of a scientific theory requires “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment”, but Behe’s definition does not.

Consider the consequences. On the odd chance that the Dover School Board were to actually win their case, Behe’s definition of a scientific theory would be enshrined in legal precedent. That would bring a horde of astrologers, phrenologists, and homeopathic “doctors” into the court system to sue for equal time in classrooms, claiming that their “theories” are every bit as scientific as ID, so they also deserve equal time in science classrooms. Science education in America could be deluged with unproven and unprovable nonsense. Kids could graduate from high school without a clue how the world actually works, making them even more vulnerable than they already are to baseless quackery of every sort. America would be jumping right out of her leading place in scientific advancement and achievement.

China would love it.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

SCA: Wine List Equestrian Activities

This weekend was Wine List, an SCA event put on by the Shire of Glynn Rhe. This event had no fencing and no dancing, so you might be wondering what would get me to it. The answer is that the event had equestrian activities, and the marshals from our shire were running them. One of those marshals just happens to be my good Lady Fjoleif. I was actually planning to do some riding at this event, but I ended up spending all my time taking pictures. Lady Lora and Lady Fjorleif were the only authorized equestrians to bring horses to the event, but we managed to authorize six people at the beginner level for future events.

Safety class is the first step in the authorization process. Most people who have their own horses know the basics, but there are additional hazards when you start handing long poles with sharp points on the ends to people on horseback. Whether you're a rider or just ground crew, you need to know the rules for handling lances, javelins, and wooden swords in the riding area.

The basic requirement to receive a beginner authorization for equestrian competition is shockingly simple, to my mind. You need only be able to ride the "heads" course at a walk. This means weaving your horse through a series of poles with targets perched on top. Lora's targets are wig stands with features painted on them and silly hats. Below, you can see Reinmar on his authorization run.

After we finished authorizations, we moved on to the more entertaining portion of the day's events. Jousting at a quintain is one of the standard SCA equestrian competitions. A quintain is a pole with a rotating crossbar mounted on top. The crossbar has a target on one end and a counterweight on the other. The counterweight is generally a sandbag. If you've seen the move A Knight's Tale, you saw the hero practicing with a quintain. The idea in the SCA game is to strike the target with a lance and make the crossbar spin as many times as you can.

We didn't bother with a crossbar at Wine List, though.

That's right, we used pumpkins as targets. While the pumpkins we had were surprisingly resilient to lance blows, we still ended up with a substantial heap of smashed pumpkins at the end of the day. We also set some pumpkins on the tops of the poles in the heads course to see how that would go. I think Lora and Fjorleif are hoping to make smashing pumpkins an annual equestrian challenge in the future.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

WoW: Druidic Milestone

Gullveig completed the Bear Quest series this evening. This required quite a bit of travelling. First she had to travel to Moonglade to locate and commune with the Great Bear Spirit.

Fortunately, the quest giver provided a spell with which to quickly reach Moonglade. After communing with the bear, getting back to Darnassus was a simple matter of activating my Hearthstone.

Of course, communing with the Bear Spirit wasn't the end of the quest. She had to demonstrate that she had "learned the strength of the bear" by defeating Lunaclaw, a creature that was sort of a cross between an owl and a bear (D&D players will get the idea immediately). That required a trip over the seas to Auberdine.

After defeating Lunaclaw, Gullveig returned to Darnassus to complete the quest, where she acquired the ability to transform into a bear. I have yet to test this new form in battle...

Evolution Scientists Beat ID Scientists 20-to-1

In his ill-conceived attempt to convince me that Incompetent Design is a scientific theory that is not supported exclusively by religious individuals, pro-ID blogger "mike" cited the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Club’s list of "Scientists and other Intellectuals that Doubt Darwinism and other Naturalistic Theories of Origins". Some of the names on the list are openly pro-ID, but many are not. The list includes anyone the IDEA club could find who has ever "publicly expressed serious doubts about Darwinism".

The terms of the IDEA list are pretty vague, especially since "Darwinism" is actually an early variant of the Theory of Evolution, which has changed since Charles Darwin first proposed it in the 19th century. The "Darwinism" variant of the hypothesis states that all evolution takes place gradually and is driven purely by natural selection. The theory of Punctuated Equilibrium corrects the Theory of Evolution with regard to pure gradualism, and the modern Theory of Evolution accepts other factors (like sexual selection) that affect the success and development of species.

"mike" also tried to claim that the signatories on the IDEA list are not religious. There’s actually nothing on that list to indicate their religious affiliation (or lack thereof), so his claim is baseless, but many of them are known to be Christians who believe the “intelligent designer” to be God. Michael Behe, for example is Catholic, and recently admitted in the Dover, PA, court case over ID that he believes God is the "designer". We can therefore conclude that "mike" was being deliberately deceptive.

The IDEA list has no more than 479 names at the time of this posting (it’s numbered up to 481, but I saw at least two blank lines – 48 and 49 – in it).

The Discovery Institute also has a list of scientists who "are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life". Their list of scientists who agree to this vague statement has a little over 400 names on it, and I haven’t read through it to see how much it overlaps the IDEA list.

More recently, Shovel Bums LLC, a resource for archaeology and CRM professionals, ran their own petition to collect signatures from scientists who "do not consider Intelligent Design to be a fact-based science appropriate for teaching in public schools because it is theistic in nature, not empirical, and therefore does not pass the rigors of scientific hypothesis testing and theory development."

In four days, Shovel Bums collected 7,733 signatures. Additional signatures after the four-day recruiting drive brought the total up to 11,622 before it was closed. That’s 24 times the number of signatures that the pro-ID crowd has been able to accumulate in four years. Unlike the IDEA and DI lists, the Shovel Bums petition is very specific about the statement to which the signatories agree. Furthermore, many signatories to the Shovel Bums list also indicated their religious affiliation on the petition, and they are clearly a diverse group (unlike ID-ers).

ID-ers should be wary of entering a name-dropping contest with the real scientific community; it’s a battle they’re doomed to lose.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

WoW: It's Halloween!

The guys at Blizzard Entertainment love their holidays, and Halloween is no exception. The town squares and inns throughout the World of Warcraft are decorated for the holiday.

As if mere decoration weren't enough fun, you can also go trick-or-treating at the inns. You can only try trick-or-treating the innkeeper once per hour, and sometimes you're the one who get's tricked. For instance, I once received candy, once received a wand that turns friends into ghosts, and once got turned into a toad (I got better!).

And at least one of the traditional Halloween party games has been implemented in the World of Warcraft: Bobbing for Apples!

The developers at Blizzard are obviously having entirely too much fun with this stuff.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Upcoming Dance Activities

Lady Lora and I talked to the pastor at her church (St. Phillip's Episcopal), where our shire has already started holding our business meetings twice a month. He approved our request to also meet there twice a month for A&S-types of activities, so we are now planning to have a Bardic Circle night on the third Thursday of each month and... drumroll... Dance Practice on the first Thursday night of each month.

Also, coming up in November, I will be making the journey up to St. Louis for my first trip to Crystal Ball, a Midrealm or Calontir event (I'm not exactly sure which claims the Barony of Shattered Crystal) which I understand has a huge dance turnout (as witnessed by Lady Francesca dei Rossi, who made the journey last year).

Monday, October 17, 2005

Dr. Ego Takes the Stand

According to a Yahoo News article, Dr. Michael Behe is testifying for the defense in the Dover, PA school curriculum case today.

Behe is the author of Darwin's Black Box, a book in which he tries to sell readers on the idea that some biological structures are so "irreducibly complex" that they couldn't have evolved by chance alone, so there must have been a designer guiding the process. ID advocates always trot him out when their attempts to push pseudoscience into high school science classrooms go to trial.

So why do I call him Dr. Ego? Because he assumes that if he can't personally envision a reduced version a particular biological structure, then it's impossible for such a reduced structure to exist. In other words, nature is limited to what Michael Behe's imagination will allow it to do.

A simple example is one of his favorite "irreducibly complex" structures, the bacterial flagellum, because it would no longer function if you removed one of the proteins that makes it work. The problem, of course, is that just because a given modern bacteria requires a particular protein in order to swim doesn't mean that its ancestors required that protein.

Dr. Behe can't (or won't) see how the bacterial flagellum could have evolved, but plenty of other scientists have published articles on just that subject. In a nutshell, there's nothing "irreducibly complex" about bacterial flagella in general, although it would be easy enough to break a particular modern example.

Dr. Behe's "irreducible complexity" argument fails on two points of logic...

First, it's just a standard "argument from incredulity", in which he attributes a phenomenon that he can't understand to an "intelligent designer" who must be smarter than he is. What he lacks is evidence of any kind. Saying "this looks too complicated to me" does not constitute evidence, and a theory needs evidence in order to have credibility.

Second, it's also a "false dilemma" argument, in which any problem or weakness in Theory A (in this case, the Theory of Evolution) is taken to be a confirmation of Theory B (in this case, Incompetent Design). The problem, of course, is that finding a weakness in the evidence for Theory A does not actually constitute evidence for Theory B. In other words, even if the Theory of Evolution doesn't (yet) fully explain the development of a particular biological structure, there is no reason to jump to the conclusion that it was designed by aliens, God, or pan-dimensional beings disguised as mice.

I find his choice of t-shirts for this photo particularly amusing, since the ID explanation of the complexity of life is basically "a wizard did it".

Bigfoot Center Beats ID at Research

According to Yahoo News, there was a Bigfoot conference recently.

You might be surprised by this, but I actually have more respect for Bigfoot enthusiasts than I do for Incompetent Design advocates. The Bigfoot enthusiasts are at least out in the field actively looking for evidence to prove that their hypothetical creature exists. They go out into the woods with cameras and bags of plaster, and they come back with plaster casts of footprints and dubious photographs. Granted, decades of effort have yet to produce anything convincing, but at least they're making a good faith effort to find evidence to support their theory instead of sitting in an ivory tower trying to poke holes in somebody else's or force public schools to include Bigfoot in biology textbooks.

Granted, they're not being entirely scientific about it. According to their own website, the Texas Bigfoot Research Center is starting from a premise ("Bigfoot exists") and looking for supporting evidence:
The Texas Bigfoot Research Center exists to validate what we believe to be an undocumented species of bipedal primate, an animal commonly referred to as the Sasquatch or Bigfoot.
They're arguably doing their science backwards (working from conclusion-to-evidence instead of from evidence-to-conclusion), which means they have something in common with Creationists and IDers, but at least they're looking for legitimate evidence that other researchers will be able to study. Their methods are questionable (you can read an account of one of their field expeditions), but at least they document their work for all to see. That puts them miles ahead of the ID community in my book.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Talk About Credulous

Apparently someone in the military budgeting department has "sucker" tattoed on his forehead. Look at this story running on

The United States military is studying the feasibility of teleportation, "beaming up" people such as Osama Bin Laden or sending defense teams to difficult-to-reach locales.

The Scripps Howard News Service has picked up a story which quotes Ranney Adams, a spokesperson for the Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base, as saying it would be ideal if the military could send soldiers to remote spots via teleportation. "But we're not there [yet]," he added.

The Air Force spent $25,000 last year on a study of teleportation physics to consider means of transporting people and cargo through space, though physicists said that the obstacles in terms of energy expenditure and data transfer are enormous.

"I would say that something is wrong with the way the Air Force allocates its research money, at least on this topic," said Phil Schewe, the chief science writer at the American Institute of Physics. He noted that experts can foresee using teleportation for encrypted data, but transporting large objects, let alone living beings, is a long way off.

But Center for Strategic and International Studies fellow Pierre Chao said that scientific advances required risks in funding. "The devil's bargain that you're going to take if you're going to exist in that cutting-edge [scientific] world and use taxpayer dollars is that you're going to be investigating some pretty goofy things," he said.

The encoding of the contents of a human body would require 10 to the 28th kilobytes of computer storage capacity, or 100 quintillion commercially available hard drives. Moreover, to dematerialize one human being the way Star Trek does it "would require...the energy equivalent of 330 one-megaton thermonuclear bombs."
Yeah, I bet Osama is quaking in his turban.

Teleportation using anything like modern technology is absolutely not feasible. I know that some particle experiments have been conducted in which scientists have managed to transfer the properties of one particle to another, but that's not even close to macroscopic teleportation. Twenty-five thousand dollars may not be much in the grand scale of the US military budget, but it's still twenty-five thousand dollars of complete waste. It's about as bad as when the military was investing in "remote viewing" research.

Research on the "entanglement" principles involved in particle "teleportation" will continue, and I dare say it will consume more than $25,000. I dare also say that the money being squandered by the Air Force is most likely going into some kind of scam. Maybe it's just another appropriation for the UFO study program out in Roswell, New Mexico, or funding for undercover agencies so secret that not even the President knows about them.

Government waste is another problem that a healthy dose of skepticism and scientific literacy in the population might alleviate.

WoW: I Told You It Was Coming

Not long ago, I warned that I wouldn't be able to resist making a Warlock. Well, I went and did it this morning.

Meet Dagran, a human warlock still operating around the beginner area of Northshire Abbey. He's now level five, and he's already learned to summon imps. He's got one or two quests left to go before he heads south to the Goldshire area. The current plan is for him to become my Alliance-side Tailor/Enchanter on the Earthen Ring server.

So far, he's had a pretty simple approach to combat. Set it on fire, corrupt it, curse it, and cut it. The fire spell and corruption spell apply pretty solid time-released damage to the target, the curse keeps it from being able to do much damage to me, and I revert to dagger attacks because that way I'll usually have close to full mana by the time the target falls.

The imp just adds extra damage; I start him attacking about the time the first fire spell hits.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Laccio d’Amore

Laccio d’Amore is a dance for one Lord and one Lady that appears in Il Ballarino, Fabritio Caroso's 1581 dance manual. It is notable for its frequent use of the cadenza throughout the dance. Caroso describes Laccio as a cascarda, which is a dance to fast-paced music that has a simple verse-chorus structure that repeats several times. Il Ballarino includes an arrangement of the music for lute.

This reconstruction is based on the 1967 Broude Brothers facsimile of Il Ballarino. Facsimiles from Il Ballarino are available from Gregory Blount’s website.

What follows is the original text of the dance – translated into English by Talan ap Gryffyd.

This Cascarda is primarily an encounter and begins with a Riuerenza Minima; then they form a wheel and do four Seguiti spezzati, and four Trabuchetti, with three more Seguiti spezzati, that is, two flank from behind, and a face to the left, and the Cadence to the right.

The second time, the man will make just two Passi Presti forward, and two Trabuchetti, and a Seguiti spezzati to the left, and the Cadence, the same again. Do the same thing again to the opposite; then the man performs the Fe to the right to the lady, and does two Seguiti spezzati, and two Passi presti, and the Cadence, changing place: do the same again performing the Fe to the left, beginning with the right foot, everyone returning to their place.

In the third section, the ladies will do the same that the men did: first perform the Fe in its entirety to the right and then the left, and they will make all the aforesaid steps in the second section.

The fourth and last time they will make two Fioretti a pie pari, with two Passi presti flanking behind them, and Seguita semidoppio to the left, beginning with the left foot: Do the same beginning with the right foot: after that they will do one forward, then they will make two Passi presti, and they will make two strokes with the left foot behind, they will make two Seguiti spezzati flanking to them, then at the end they will do two reprises, and two Trabuchetti, with one Seguito spezzato to the left, and the Cadence with encounter to the right, and making the Riuerenza in counter time, finally the Cascarda.

Converted into a common SCA tabulation format, the dance goes like this...

Verse 11-4
Riuerenza Minima
Four Spezzati in a wheel, turning clockwise
Facing partner, four Trabuchetti
Chorus 11-4
Flank backward with two Spezzati, left foot first
Turn left in one Spezzato and Cadenza
Flank backward with two Spezzati, right foot first
Turn right in one Spezzato and Cadenza
Verse 2
Lord’s Solo
(The Lord dances this part alone)
Two Passi toward partner (left foot first)
Two Trabuchetti (left then right)
Turn left in one Spezzato and Cadenza
Two Passi toward partner (right foot first)
Two Trabuchetti (right then left)
Turn right in one Spezzato and Cadenza
Chorus 21-4
Take right hands and wheel a half turn clockwise in two Spezzati
Release hands and take two Passi presti turning back ccw and Cadenza
Take left hands and wheel a half turn ccw in two Spezzati
Release hands and two Passi presti back cw and Cadenza
Verse 3
Lady’s Solo
1-16Same as Verse 2, except the Lady dances instead of the Lord
Chorus 31-16Same as Chorus 2
Verse 41-2
Two Fioretti a pie pari (left side first)
Flank backward with two Passi presti (left foot first)
Turn left with Seguiti Semmiodoppio (left foot first)
Two Fioretti a pie pari (right side first)
Flank backward with two Passi presti (right foot first)
Turn right with Seguiti Semmiodoppio (right foot first)
Chorus 41-2
Two Passi presti (going forward)
Stomp twice with the left foot, striking behind the right foot
Flank backwards with two Spezzati
Two Ripresa to the left
Two Trabuchetti, left then right
Turn left in one Spezzato and Cadenza
(as last chord fades)

Naturally, you'll need to know what some of those 16th-century Italian terms mean if you want to be able to perform the dance.

PassiSingle steps
SpezzatiA spezzato is similar to a modern step-ball-change. To perform a left spezzato, step forward with your left foot, bring your right toe up to (or even under) your left heel, and then step out again with your left foot.
TrabuchettiWeight shifts from the left foot to the right.
Riuerenza MinimaA riuerenza is a bow. To perform a 16th century Italian bow, place your left foot behind your right and bend your knees, keeping your back straight. A riuerenza minima is a four-count riuerenza.
CadenzaA cadenza is basically a small, vertical hop, switching which foot is in the lead while you're in the air. The direction in the instruction (e.g. “Cadenza right”) indicates which foot should be in the lead when you finish.
Seguiti SemmiodoppioTwo passi immediately followed by one spezzato.
Fioretti a pie pariOften called "bells", this step is basically a swinging motion of the feet. If starting to the left, swing your left leg out and back, then swing your right leg out and back.

I dance Laccio to Warwick Consort’s arrangement of the music from Ansteorra Kingdom Dance and Music 2004.

SCA: Gloat, Gloat, Gloat!

Yes, you are now reading the weblog of the Queen's Dance Champion of Meridies (for the duration of Boru and Deidre's reign, at least). I share the title with Lady Francesca, of course, but that's perfectly alright with me.

Speaking of which Lady Francesca dei Rossi received her Award of Arms at Crown List. There is much rejoicing.

And while the King and Queen were blowing us away with the Dance Champion award and Francesca's AoA, they decided to cap it off by ambushing me with an Order of the Argent Slipper award, as well.

So you might say that I had a darn good time at Crown List, and I daresay that Francesca's cheeks will be sore for a week from smiling so much.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Dance Championship

I’ll be entering the Queen’s Dance Championship to be held at Crown List this weekend. Her Majesty announced the competition at her Coronation a few weeks ago, and Lord Iohann notified me of it almost immediately. Details on the proceedings, however, were extraordinarily difficult to obtain. Just this week I managed to find out from Mistress Sindokht that the contest will be handled pretty much as any other A&S performing arts competition; documentation isn’t required, but it is recommended.

That being the case, Francesca and I will be entering with Laccio d’Amore, which is the only dance for two people that I’ve personally documented. I suppose I should actually get around posting the tabulation for Laccio here on the Saga sometime.

Monday, October 03, 2005

I Have Seen Serenity

I have seen Serenity, and it is good. I mean really good. A couple of people, I won't say who in the non-spoiler portion of this review, seem a little out of character at first if you're familiar with Firefly, but that fairly quickly resolves itself, and everyone settles into the roles we know so well.

If you're not a Firefly fan, I'm really not sure how approachable you'll find this story. I daresay that you would find the "character immersion" in the early part of the film to be rather like learning to swim by being dumped into the Arctic Ocean. I have to wonder if you can generate enough sympathy for the characters to really respond to later events in the movie the way long-time fans will.

I think Joss Whedon is trying to say something about the nature of fanaticism in this film, but I don't want to go into details, yet.

In my opinion, though, this is definitely a film worth watching whether you're a Firefly fan or not. I was surprised that it was only on in one theater at the (Sh)Opry Mills multiplex, and with only four showings per day. If that's a typical schedule, then the fact that it made second place in theatre earnings against movies showing on multiple screens per theatre says a lot.

Spoilers will abound if you start reading the comments...

WoW: Dabbling Again

I never can resist the lure of creating characters of classes I haven't played yet. I haven't done a Warlock yet, but I doubt it will hurt you much if you try to hold your breath until I do.

This weekend, however, I created an Orc Rogue and a Night Elf Druid. Both of them are on Earthen Ring, so I can use my existing characters there to "twink" them without reservations. Gullveig, the Druid, isn't anywhere near a mailbox yet, as she's still working the beginner area quests, but Haokan sent Rakthogg, the Rogue, a bunch of bags and some improved armor.

I actually created Rakthogg first. He completed the quests in the orc starting area pretty quickly and moved on toward Razor Hill, as that's the closest settlement with an inn. There's a Troll community on the coast before you get to Razor Hill, and that's where he's doing most of his questing right now, but I always like to quit in an inn to accumulate "rest points" for my next time online. Anyway, he's sixth level, and he has already adopted the Herbalism and Alchemy professions.

I started Gullveig in the wee hours this morning, and she's already level five. I think there's just one beginner quest left before she moves on to the village of Dolanaar.

As soon as Gullveig reaches Dolanaar, I should be able to find an inn (in fact, I have a quest to deliver a package to the inn there). An inn always has a mailbox, so Grimbor will be able to send her some bags and any other useful stuff he happens to have available. She'll probably take up Skinning and Leatherworking, since Grimbor needs a surprising amount of leather for Engineering projects.