We're outside the dungeon, waiting in line to be let in. The door man seems to recognize us, and hurries to let us in, apologizing for not seeing us sooner.I tell him it's no problem, and yet he continues to apologize for leaving the keynote guests to stand in line with mere patrons. You have no idea what is going on. We didn't bring fireplay gear and you have no recollection of being asked about any sort of demonstration.
Frederick's Ultimate Hash Browns
Two potatoes for each adult eating, one for each child eating
2 tbsp minced garlic (you can never have too much)
1/4 walla walla sweet onion, diced
Fresh ground Black Pepper
"Filling" (Yeah, you heard me right):
3 tbsp sour cream
half a package Cream Cheese
1/2 cup grated cheddar or colby jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped bacon, cooked
1 tbsp chopped chives
Peel and Grate the potatoes into a collander. Make sure the holes are smaller than the strands of potato. Rinse the potatoes in cold water, running your fingers through them to make sure they are all rinsed. Do this until the water runs clear. Empty the collander onto a clean towel and bring the corners together. Twist the towel into a bag and wring the potatoes out as much as you can, and then wring them some more. Your potatoes should bee relatively dry, and when you pour them back into the collander, very little should stick to the towel. Add kosher salt, pepper, garlic and onions, mix well. Melt the bacon grease into a 14" skillet, about a tablespoon or two should do the trick. Bring it up to a high medium on your range (my range has a 1-10 dial, I set mine to halfway between 6 and 7) and let it reach temperature. Once it does, add the potatoes in a layer about 1/2 to 3/4 inch deep. You may have to make two batches, depending on how many potatoes you use. Cook turning once, for ten to eleven minutes.
While the Hash Browns are cooking on the first side, prepare your filling. Combine cream cheese and sour cream by repeatedly mashing and folding with a fork. When it is well combined, add remaining ingredients and fold them in to thoroughly combine. Set aside.
When it is time to flip the Hash Browns, try to flip them in a single piece, as a whole. This may take practice, but you'll find it a skill worth learning. as the Hash Browns near their finishing point on the second side, add your filling to one side and fold them in half over it. Cook an additional two minutes per side, flipping only once. Transfer them to a plate and cut them into individual portions and serve. Revel in the tasty goodness that is the Ultimate Hash Browns.
Okay, now that I've actually had the time to not only soak it all in but to sit down and write about it, Seadog Nights was fucking awesome. I've been to the first, second, and every single other one and watched it grow over the years. This year was its tenth anniversary.
So Myzeray and I arrive onsite and get checked in. We find our encampment with no difficulty, and attempt to set up in the midst of a puppy stampede (six puppies in camp, WAAAAAAAY too cute). We get the tent up only to find (bear in mind that neither Myzeray nor I are the owners of this tent) that while all of the poles and parts of the tent were indeed included in the bag, the poles of half of another tent (actually, I think it was a day shade) were also included. This of course made for the usual frustrations of setting up. Now I've been eventing for eleven years, and I accept that setting up is always going to be a hassle. Especially when you're Frederick the Reckless (tm).
So Thursday night after setting up we get changed into garb, and I wear my new outfit, one I wore at Olympus Among Us:
Myzeray also dresses to the nines, but we have no pictures of the outfit at this time. They will be coming however, as Dawlmesh the Imagemaker was very inspired, as he usually gets at events. And so as a rare treat, rather than set up and perform on the first night of the event, Myzeray and I go out roving. We find the rest of the Troupe and where they're camped, and then head off to Ignition's encampment. Now, allow me to reiterate (beacuse I've said similar words in the past) that if you event, and Ignition is there, and you don't attempt to get to know them on even the least level, you are short-sheeting yourself in the "knowing cool people" department. Khan and the gang are cool people, and that night we spend about an hour catching up before heading out to seek more noise. That's what you do, really, when roving. You follow the noise and seek the most interesting source of it. The night passes with much roving, drinking, carousing and catching up with friends, and I recount the story of how I lost my hair several times over, something I got used to at Olympus Among Us. Thursday night ends relatively early from my perspective, singe I tend to stay out all night at events...
Friday begins with me selling raffle tickets, something I do when I'm desperately broke, which is more often than I'd like of late... But enought lamenting the financial things. This year the prize was something I make and sell for one hundred dollars a set-- stainless steel talons:
I make three designs, and this style, the Classic, is my most popular. Each talon is laser cut, and made of 18 gauge stainless steel, hand formed and polished. I sell tickets for the chance to win them, explaining that there are two sets, and therefore two winning tickets will be drawn. When I run a raffle I offer a deal to sell more tuickets and give folks a better chance to win: One dollar per ticket or six tickets for five dollars. They sell well, given that in this economy very few have the money to buy a set outright. When you get the chance to get something this cool that sells for one hundred dollars for one dollar, even when you're in competition for it, you'll take that chance.
Friday evening is our first performance of the weekend, with two menmers of Ignition guesting with Fire and Steel. It's a "fire performance open mic night," as I like to call them, more a glorified practice than a show. Still, the audience enjoys them, so we do them, and it helps us keep our edge. Nothing beats lit practice, and even better when there's an audience. Myzeray has a brief accident-- During her double whip set, she catches her bandanna on fire. These things happen, even to the most experienced of all of us. She handles it without a stutter, swiping her bandanna off her head in a fluid motion, without dropping either of her whips and carries on with the rest of her act. I can't tell you how proud she did me there.
After the show there's a masquerade ball to get ready for, but we don't make it in time. I spend too much time figuring out Myzeray's outfit, something I planned out in my head but never rehearsed. She is dressed only in one hundred feet of rope tied into a body harness, and five yards of powder blue lace held to her skin by that rope. I do my best to arrange the excess so that it looks like a gown, and in the back it works well, but the front requires a revision by Myzeray in order to look right. Since we miss the ball due to dressing and pictures, we decide instead to carouse. More roving is in order that night, and we retire in the wee hours of the morning as the sun starts to rise-- very, very drunk.
Saturday starts with more raffle tickets, roaming about and such, attempting to bide the time til dark. There is precious little shade onsite, but there is an ice cold creek running on one side. We go there to try to cool off... Big mistake for me, really. I have asthma and am overheated, and the runoff in the creek is so cold that my lungs try to shut the fuck down. Seriously, I begin hyperventilating to the point where I can't stop, but I am in too deep already to really see any point in turning around and getting out. So Parlon (sp?) of the Criminal Dawn helps me across with an inflatable raft or somesuch, and I stand waist deep in a portion of the creek which gets sunlight, so it is a bit warmer. I stand there for about half an hour, and gradually cool my core temperature before crossing back to dry off and go out selling more tickets and meeting folks. Myzeray finds the creek to be invigorating and just what she needs to cure her hangover. I leave her to her own devices and roam about the site.
Saturday evening's show-- Can you say Chaos? Ignition is to be on before us, a rare opportunity for me to finally catch their show in its entirety. You see, usually we go on before them, and when the show's over I still have things to do. I generally have to get changed, move gear to whatever area I will be doing my Fireplay demo at, and then usually I return in time for them to close out their show. Seriously sucks, since just as they are fans of Fire and Steel, I as well as the rest of the troupe are fans of Ignition. But not this time. We get there early, and beforehand I change into my NEW STAGE GARB:
So, somewhat unrecognized, I make my way to the rest of the troupe's encampment and then out to stage. We set up before the show, and Ignition is still getting ready. So to fill the stage as the audience gets restless we have Brandon, a regular guest at Seadog's fire shows, and Pirate Technics, a new troupe, as well as the Fiery Dragons open for Ignition. Ignition's show-- AWESOME. I don't care that they run a short program, it is a treat for me. I finally got to see a full show for a change instead of a few acts at the beginning and the very end. We go on and rock the site as usual, but this year there's a treat for the audience- you remember about this year being the tenth anniversary of Seadog Nights? Well, I have a treat for Zorgon, the Autocrat for the event. I've learned a new trick that I like to do on special occasions. Ever heard of "Swordside Service?" It's the act of opening a bottle of chanpagne by way of cutting the top off with a sword. Ever seen it done with a FLAMING sword? No, didn't think so... Well, I call him out onto the stage, and give a short speech about the history of the event and how it's grown, and call for cheers for he and his autocrat team for running such a sensational event. I have my flaming goblet brought to me, and draw and ignite my sword. I take the bottle and with one quick, precise cut sever the neck of the bottle just below the cork. Ffyn the Ffool tries to catch the cork in a bucket, and the audience roars when they hear the thunk in the bottom. I pour Zorgon a mug full of champagne, hand him the bottle, ignite and raise my goblet. I toast him, the autocrat team and the event, and take a mouthful from my goblet. The audience explodes with applause as I breathe fire across the top of the goblet, proving that I did in fact take something from the flames as I tipped it back. Zorgon returns to the audience and the show continues.
That night is the night I have set aside for fireplay demonstration, a show I like to call "the Dark Side of Fire." Two things different about this year: Pirate Technics opens for me with their adult firedance show, drawing the crowd in. The other difference is Myzeray is helping me run the queue this year, having completed her training in torchplay. We take donations only for this night, as fireplay is costly, explaining that this one night will likely cost us seventy-five dollars in fuel and supplies to do. Most are accomodating, some grumble. Much of this is put down by my explanation that this year, rather than waiting in line up to three times to experience torchplay, fire flogging and fire whipping I will run one line, and you get the full fireplay expereince you're after all at once (in other words, if you want torchplay front and back followed by a back and front fire flogging followed by a fire whipping finishing up with torchplay over the fresh lash marks, you got it-- for a BUCK...). As for fire safety, instead of Zeke as per usual, I find an equally awesome substitute: Drake, of Ignition. He handles the job well, and it does NOT suck. You have naked chicks hanging on you while they get beaten with fire, what sucks about that?
Sunday we pack out as usual, say our goodbyes and head home. While it's been a fun weekend, I am still eager to be home again and even moreso to be next to my loving wife, Lorelai. She doesn't do Seadog because the site is too hot for her and the baby, and I miss them each time.
SEE YOU ALL AT BLACKTHORNE REVEL!!!
I have started a Blogger blog for my pursuit of the art of Shibari, or Japanese Rope Bondage. Feel free to stop in and give it a read: http://learningtheropes-masterfrederick.blogspot.com/
...That is all.
I've sailed too long. I've lost too much. Friends, comrades, money, treasure... Too much lost. I've started over one time too many. I find myself finally back in Ireland, my home. It brings back so much for me, to see the cliffs of Dover, to see the Glen once more. I find myself walking the streets I played in as a child even before I leave the dock. I even miss the life of a sellsword. The life of a Mercenary. The life of a Galloglas. I tired long ago of the smell of rotting sea rations, the mildew in the water so thick and viscous that you needed to cut it fifty percent with rum just to choke it down. I miss the stews my ma used to make, the venison my da brought home after a good day of hunting. I look up toward the deck of the ship I arrived on, the deckhands talking of grog, treasure, rum and women. The rough men whose sole interest is their own greed. The simple minds of men whose base desires rule over any logical wants and needs. Already they plan their next foray into the life, merry and short. Already they spend their treasure, even before it is in their hands. I tired long ago of such simple men. I tired long ago... Of too much. I cannot forget my time at sea, nor will I try. I will return to the sea once, perhaps twice a year, for with so much of which I have grown tired, there are things still that I found beautiful and captivating. The sunset at sea rivals the beauty of the finest woman, the waves can at times bring joy greater than the laugh of the giddiest child. The adventure can bring greater thrill than any experienced, even by the heroes of folklore itself. But for now I shoulder my seabag, take one long last look back at the docks, turn on my heel and leave.
...There are no goodbyes. Goodbyes are forever, and so there will be none.
Before the accident, my hair looked like this:
Then it happened, and when it did, I checked myself out of course. This is the wad of hair that came out with my hair tie:
And when I got home, I had Puppy check the damage and this picture was taken:
And so, of course, this meant a haircut:
And even as short as it is, you can still see where the hair was ripped out:
In time it will grow back in and even out, but for now there is a pretty well-defined reminder of my mistake.
Why did this happen? Because, quite simply, I had become complacent with my safety practices at work. I had the lax sense of near invulnerability that comes from getting too comfortable at your job. And it cost me my hair, and could have cost me my LIFE. This should serve me (and YOU, the person reading this and biting your nails) as a reminder that you can never play it TOO safe. Sure, I could take that chance again. It is, after all, faster for me to do that so that the backstop can be set back to where it was before I used the machine much faster by way of combining this action with retrieving my cut material. BUT-- It is also highly unsafe. What good is getting more done faster to you if you're dead? Had my hair been too strongly rooted or the machine not been as old and worn down, it would have extruded my head through the gap between the drive screw and the guide bar, a gap of about 2 inches. If I was lucky, I'd just have ended up scalped. If not, my skull would have been pulverized and drawn through that gap, and there wouldn't have been a thing I could have done about it.
I figured it would get a few hurrah's and some ooh's and aah's, and that would be the end of it. But NOOOOOOOO... I google my stage name from time to time, to see where I'm at in regard to Intarweb fame... And at the time I write this entry, I get this if I put my name in quotes for the most accurate results:
Now, I'm wondering: Where the hell was I when this was happening? I mean, the video is cool and all, but is it really THAT cool?
Before you look at me funny and say, "DUH, Frederick..." understand where I'm coming from:
I have been doing this stuff with blades longer than I have been doing stuff with fire. I began playing with blades back when I was about 15, sort of killing time and tempting fate. I got better in spurts, with long periods of stagnation in between. I didn't just step into this, nor did I work hard and long at it. I would lose interest and put the blades away for months, sometimes years at a time, then eventually pick them back up. Some of these times I would learn new tricks to add to my repertoire, most times I would not. I never really considered it all that big a deal.
BUT-- I uploaded it to YouTube, StupidVideos and LiveLeak... And within HOURS, I had a guy from CMT's "Country Fried Home Videos" asking me if I would be willing to send it in to their show. And within DAYS, there were tens of thousands of views of this video. It had been shared from website to website, and traveled around the virtual world known as the internet. I had gone VIRAL. There are video sites hosted in Spain, Poland, the Ukraine, and so on featuring this video. I did not anticipate this. I have people from time to time coming up to me asking me if I am the guy they saw on the TV show, or the guy from the Internet. It's been about one or two a month, but it's weirder actually than being approached by someone who's seen me perform on stage with Fire and Steel. At least with them I have a chance to possibly know who they are in kind.
Point of Trivia: I am a walking contradiction. A living, breathing OXYMORON. You see, I have always wanted to entertain the masses. BUT-- I have NEVER wanted to be famous. I know, wanting my cake and eating it too... But there you have it. The persona known as Frederick the Reckless is just a bit more than a role I play at events. He is also a form of defense mechanism. You see, if HE absorbs all the attention, I can go back to being absolutely no one in particular on Monday morning, when I go back to being a stranger on the bus, a sheet metal finisher at an aerospace fab shop, and the father of a beautiful daughter and husband of a lovely wife. I never wanted fame. I never wanted it, but it happened. And I have no idea how or why, I just know that I have to put up with it, because I'll be damned if I want to deal with it.
In the words of John Lennon: "Life is what happens to you while you're making other plans."
So, I just got back from Seadog Nights, my last event of the year given current budget circumstances… But to fully tell the tale, I must go back to just Thursday of the prior week. You see, I have a dangerous hobby. It takes its toll on my joints, and seven years ago it cost me my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), meniscus, and bursa in my left knee. I get along fine most days, and for the last five years have performed without so much as a brace without a problem other than the occasional ache. BUT… Thursday, one week before Seadog Nights, I was coming down the stairs that lead to the entryway of my apartment building… I get to the third step from the bottom and-- POP-CRUNCH-GRIND… And I fell. I re-injured my knee. SONOFABITCH. Well, I didn’t have time for this, now did I? I had a wedding to attend for a good friend of ours, and I was to walk her down the aisle. I had an event coming up. I had an errand to run. I HAD SHIT TO DO, DAMMIT!!! Suffice to say, I found myself back in a knee brace, frequently relying on a cane to get around for extended periods.
So upon arrival at Seadog, I of course got no end of the obvious question from those I had not previously informed of my condition: “What did you do to yourself?” I gave the explanation so many times I think I had it on auto-reply. When asked if I would still perform, I asked in return, “Is pig pussy pork?” And added, “I’ll still perform, though I might have to settle for being less of a madman than usual.”
We got set up in the heat, and I very quickly chose to ditch my sweat-lodge mundane clothing for my kilt (unless you own one, you have no idea how welcome the breeze that blows along beneath it can be!) and headed out for a bit of recon. I had to find the rest of the troupe, find out where our stage area was going to be, locate the household where I would be doing my fireplay demo, etc, etc, etc… I had thought about holding a raffle, as I had a nice stag-handled bowie knife and a set of ceramic mugs designed to be easy to decorate with permanent markers (something in the glaze made the colors stay permanently, I think), but I thought better of it when I realized just how much walking I would be doing. On my knee, not such a good idea. Well, as it turns out it was still a good thing I had packed my roll of tickets. Shamus, troupe leader ot the Fiery Dragons (a recently formed troupe of fire performers, who got into firedancing after being inspired by Fire and Steel) was having no luck selling his twin Kukhri knives. I lent him my roll of tickets and gave him pointers on selling as many tickets as possible. He turned a pretty enough penny, I’m told, to get himself a leather vest, leather mask, and set aside some cash to help supply his troupe.
Showtime that night was nothing short of magical. Fire and Steel, Ignition, and the Fiery Dragons all blended our respective shows into one HUGE jam session, or as I like to say, “A Fire Performance Open Mic Night.” It was very relaxed, as opposed to the way we usually do Seadog: One troupe following another. Boulron about went nuts from the stress of running that huge a stage queue, and I can’t blame him-- I’ve been there. I used to run the stage queue before he took it over, and I remember what it’s like to juggle thirty people backstage. But everyone performing that night put in a good showing for themselves including Godiva, who has recently begun training in fire. Though my knee was absolutely killing me, I still managed to perform just fine and leave the stage with only a slight limp from time to time.
After the show, Godiva and I went out drinking and roving from camp to camp. We ended up spending much of our time at Ignition’s encampment, exchanging anecdotes and alcohol. Once again, I’ll say it: You would be doing yourself a disservice not taking the time to get to know them.
The next day was spent by me roaming about in the heat, sitting and chatting with old friends, and making some new ones. I basically window-shopped a lot, shot the shit with folks, and then… I have noticed an influx of something new that doesn’t belong at these events, sanctioned or non-. It seems some folks have decided that STEAMPUNK would be okay to add to our brand of SCA play. All I can think is, “MUST WE FUCKING DO THIS?!?!? REALLY?!?!?” This shit is about as period as a Heckler and Koch MP5. The difference between the two is that I would actually want the latter if only to use it to shoot the former in the fucking kneecaps. I mean, what makes you fucking think this is okay? There are events where this is welcome, and in fact encouraged… THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM, at least not to me. I don’t bring my pirate garb and flintlocks to your venue, don’t bring your future-retro bullshit LARP to mine.
Showtime Saturday evening was like it was last year, more structured, with one troupe following another. This made it possible for each troupe to field more of their repertoire, which is awesome, though I did prefer the more relaxed feel of Friday’s show. On the upshot, Godiva tried fireswords for the first time, and did a DAMNED good job! Saturday’s show also brought the fire performance debut of Bevin, Boulron’s apprentice. What can I say, she rocked the torches! Ffyn the Fool also got to ham it up again, modeling a silkscreened Seadog Nights commemorative shirt. He wore it for the merchant’s pitch, performed a palmtorch set wearing it, and took the shirt off comedy-burlesque style and threw it into the audience. The crowd loved it!
After the show, Godiva and I went back to the tent briefly so she could change and I could take some of the load off my knee before heading out to the Sanctuary of Pan. They were holding a masquerade ball there that night, with one corner of the area serving as “Sexual Deviant Central.” There was a tent for Suspension bondage, one for play piercing, one with a St. Andrews Cross set up for flogging, and I was to perform my fireplay demo in the middle. PROBLEM: The hard clay that passes for soil at the site did not want to let me plant my standard, a stainless steel flame on a pole with a holder for two tiki torches attached. Well, if at first you don’t succeed, stab it into the ground HARDER, right? Well it worked-- with an unpleasant and completely unforeseen side effect. You see, when I planted it, the screws in the back of the tiki torch holders gouged out about twelve inches of wood as they dropped, driving the point of one of the tiki torch holders into my forearm deep enough to require stitches. My reaction: “Oh… That SUCKS!!!” My first thought thereafter: “I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!!!” I went inside a tent, and Puppy had a good look at it, wrapped it in gauze and a pressure dressing, and turned me loose. (Realize this: She knows me and how stubborn I can be. She decided on this course of action because I related to her that I felt it was enough. I will NOT hear any bullshit about my troupe’s SAFETY MANAGER giving substandard care.) I went outside and finished setting up for fireplay and began. By the time I saw my tent in the morning, the sun was peeking up over the hills. My only regret about that night is that I was so busy I didn’t get to see much of what else was going on.
After waking up, Godiva and I did the usual packing and saying of goodbyes and headed home. I enjoyed the event, and immensely so, but I was glad to be headed home. The Baby withdrawals from not having Lizard along, and the Lorelai withdrawals (Neither she nor the baby attended as Lorelai hates the site with the fury of a thousand suns and we both agreed it would be too hot for Lizard) were also beginning to seriously wear on me. My next event will probably be DMDT of next year, as we are hoping to be able to organize a reunion for Lorelai’s family Memorial Day Weekend.