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First Word

Certainly, one of my greatest joys in the SCA is watching deserving people receive their well-earned and just due in Court. When hard work, dedication, and genuine passion are recognized by people, it is a rare and wonderful thing. And when that effort is commended by a Crown or a Coronet, it can be a truly magical moment. Itís not so much that certain achievements in our Society be rewarded, per se, but that individuals are recognized and, more importantly, appreciated.

Baron Peterís column this month deals with some of the less pleasant aspects of award-seeking in the SCA. Sadly, it is an all too prevalent situation. I doubt that there is anyone in the SCA who hasnít witnessed the smiling unction that oozes from some of our peers when the opportunity for aggrandizement presents itself. We can only hope that whatever self-perceived grandeur they achieve via their obsequious conduct fills whatever void they are truly lacking in their lives. One thing to keep in mind though: even the sycophant serves in their own way. A lot of the work they do, does need to be done, even if itís for the wrong reasons.

Despite the embarrassing obviousness of that behavior and the subsequent inequities it creates, there are still plenty of times when an award is genuinely deserved. On those occasions, we share a twofold celebration. The first, and most obvious, is that someone is receiving an accolade for their honest efforts. The second, is that the system is doing what it was meant to do: recognize the worthy.

Many members of House Corvus certainly have their share of awards, myself included. And, while I am often frustrated that certain members donít have what I (admittedly) consider to be their just due, I have always been comforted by the absolute certainty that, those we do have, we have earned. I judge that based primarily on my observations of a person and what they do after they receive an award. When they continue to do the things that garnered them that recognition in the first place, when they are unchanged in their love of that knowledge or skill, and, most importantly, when they are humbled rather than made hubristic by the honor; then were they worthy. And you, my brothers and sisters - your acts in the SCA on a day-to-day basis - are truly how I would define the word worthy.

I donít say these things to boost your egos. I donít even say them to blow House Corvusís collective horn. I do it out of my deep sense of pride in your accomplishments. The respect, admiration, and inspiration you all engender is a gift: not just to me, but to the whole of the Society. Whatever awards may or may not come your way are scant comparison the rewards we all receive by your continued, passionate participation in our small, but special, community.

Of course, members of House Corvus have indeed been receiving some hard-won attention. Lord Guillaume was inducted in to Hidden Mountainís Order of the Crimson Mountain at his Cantonís recent Tourney of Manannan Mac Lir. He is representative of House Corvusís resurgent heavy fighting spirit. It is a spark that Baron Peter has always strived to keep alive and that Oshi Sensei and Lord Helfdane have fanned to new heights. Even now, I feel that heat as the proverbial fire under my own ass. I canít wait to join my brothers-in-arms at Gulf Wars next month! Itís no secret that I love being on a team, and thereís simply no better men with whom I could take to the field of battle.

Speaking of battle, at Nottinghill Coillís Road to Nottingham event this past weekend, it was our own Oshi Sensei who tied for first place in the heavy tournament! Small wonder as he just returned from a week in the company of SCA fighting legend Duke Paul of Bellatrix. You donít pick up fighting skills by osmosis, however. Itís magnificent to see Oshiís hard work and training pay off.

Not to be outdone, Lord Gryffyth shot his way to his own victory in the archery contest. While I do have my own bow and I shot archery in college, Iíd most assuredly embarrass myself on a range these days. I canít help but admire him for his skill. Maybe Iíll dust off my bow and quiver and shoot at Pennsic this summer. Itís one of those things Iíve always wanted to do in the SCA, but to which I have never gotten around. Just as Lady Sine ultimately got me out of camp and to a Pennsic class a few years back, maybe Gryffyth can inspire me to finally cross that road to the archery range!

Perhaps the most exciting news from Nottinghillís event was that Lady Ealdthryth entered and won the labyrinth-themed A&S competition. Having never entered an A&S competition before, Ealdthryth took a chance and tried something new. Entering the site tokens she made from Hidden Mountainís and Nottinghillís joint Labyrinth event, she wrote up the documentation for the project, entered it, and won!

I strongly encourage you to enter A&S competitions; especially if itís an art you have never tried before. There are so many exciting adventures are to be found in the arts and sciences if you simply step through that particular door. Aside from the inherent thrill in trying something new, youíd be surprised at the talents you have within you. And, whether youíre a neophyte or a professional, we all benefit from your experimentation.

Iíve been trying to flex my own A&S muscles a bit this Winter. In addition to writing paeans to corrupt Atlantian Crowns, Iíve continued to draw covers for the local newsletter as well as Hidden Mountain. But, as usual, Iím stirred by so many of you and youíre own projects. The creative energy that flows from House Corvus is infectious. Thank God for that! --BRAN

Peter Says...

One of the biggest problems in the SCA is the concept of "achievement" in the context of the Society. After all, what is achievement anyway? I know that we have the usual assortment of awards and orders available to the Crown, etc. as a means to reward those who are deserving. But we also realize that, deep down, this is also the single most frustrating/joyful part of our whole SCA experience. We're all human and the basic human craves recognition from his peers for achieving in any given situation. So when it happens, we feel great and when it doesn't we feel rotten. It's just normal.

Often, what we run into in the SCA, are the same situations that exist in the outside world with regards to nepotism and cronyism. We are sometimes forced to openly acknowledge the elevation/recognition of someone who is less than deserving of such recognition. Though, in all fairness, we do have to remember that there may be more going on there than meets the eye. As usual, we are required to "suck it up."

I think that the big difference here is that we kind of expect nepotism to exist in the real world and so we are prepared for it to happen. However, in the SCA, which is supposedly a society based on honor, truth, and integrity... When we see people demonstrate/exhibit such behavior, it really sticks in your craw, doesn't it? For me, a recent transformational epiphany suddenly makes the big question not, "why did they do that?", but rather, "why does it bother me so?"

For some, the concept of hypocrisy demonstrated on such a scale is an absolute affront. While others just have to wonder, "what is it I have to do?" Still others have their own reasons for finding offense in the seemingly subjective passing out of our SCA cookies. I have witnessed elevations which I knew were based on outright and easily documented lies, but still it went on. I watched others embellish what little truth remained in the situation in order to ensure that it happened. This type of behavior now outrages me far less than it amazes me. It's all a question of perspective. I have also watched (and this is the gospel truth) people give up jobs, wives and children, reputation, financial means, and more in order to receive a "peerage" in the SCA. If you look carefully you can see it happening pretty clearly. That's just scary.

These people discovered, at some point, that by walking that fine line between the real world and the SCA (as its own world) that they seem to get the most out of their participation. That's fine to me, and I try to do that as well. But then, you can see them slide more and more to the SCA as their real world, to the point where John Smith has become the persona and Lord Joe Bob has become the real person. How in the world does this happen and how can this be allowed to happen? Simple. It happens because the SCA is a group of legal adults and it is not its job to monitor, intervene, or give reality adjustments to its members. So long as they don't get the SCA in trouble, people are pretty much allowed to do as they please. And that's OK.

But, how do these people get lost so easily in the SCA? The primary reason that I can see is that they seem to be able to achieve in the SCA what they don't seem to be able to achieve in their real world. This is a very skewed perception about life that has evolved. And that's when the SCA can become very seductive and almost like a narcotic.

"In the real world I'm just... But, here, in the SCA, I'm Duke NUKEM who is a triple peer, been King fifteen times, and my opinion MUST BE RESPECTED BY ALL due to my achievements within the SCA." We all know people like this and we can see them to some degree at every event we attend. The problem I see with this situation is twofold: 1) Duke Nukem doesn't really believe that he has achieved anything in the real world and 2) He has let the SCA and its structure define what he believes is "achievement" because of the cookies he has received. In short, the SCA, at some point, started dictating his goals in life and the SCA, not he, is now in charge of his destiny. Thatís even more scary, since we all know that the SCA can be entirely unforgiving.

I recently remade the acquaintance of two people who just moved back to the kingdom after being gone for awhile. While away from Atlantia, she received her Laurel in "Viking Culture", but that wasn't important to her and I could tell that she was not just spinning out the party line on that. She really meant it. Her true love was studying that culture and not the award that it got her. She's doing it right. I wish all of us could be that sure and strong. Duke Nukem can and will never understand someone like her. She never sold out, sucked up, etc. but still she got what he got. Once again, it's all a question of perspective.

Everyone has achieved and will continue to achieve in life. The $64,000 question is what do we consider achievement? If our accomplishments in our lives are not what we consider to be what's important, then it's up to us to adjust our focus and do what we have to do to make our achievements meaningful to us. Is the grass really greener over there, or more importantly, the REAL question is why are we unhappy with our lawns? If we are unhappy, why are moaning about it at the fence rather than doing something about the quality of our own yard? I suppose it is easier just to moan, but not nearly as satisfying as fixing our yard. The answer is simply realizing what we've got and being satisfied with it.

Real achievements have nothing to do with securing an imaginary title in an imaginary world. They have to do with reality and life. When I see the babies in the House Corvus, I'm stunned. That is an achievement and a risk that scares me silly. Like most guys, I have no idea what kind of father I would be and, to see people take the plunge into parenthood, prepared to do their best and sacrifice sometimes for the rest of their lives, is the epitome of achievement to me. Securing a career with a viable future, finishing school and achieving a degree, being known as a just and honorable man or woman are all worthy things. Far more so than any titular honor available in the SCA.

If others have a real need to be rewarded in the SCA, while giving up what's real and important, then don't be angry with them. They have chosen their path in this world. And that path will cause reality and real achievement to pass them by. Rather go pick up and hug your child. Go to your new job. Go home to your spouse, or even just drive your new car and feel sorry for Duke Nukem. I do. --PETER

The Raven in History

Sam Houston (1793-1863)
Sam Houston
"The Raven"

"We view ourselves on the eve of battle. We are nerved for the contest, and must conquer or perish. It is vain to look for present aid: none is at hand. We must now act or abandon all hope. Rally to the standard, and be no longer the scoff of mercenary tongues. Be men. Be free men; that your children may bless their father's name." -- Sam Houston before the battle of San Jacinto.

One of the most colorful and controversial figures in Texas history, Sam Houston was born in Virginia on March 2, 1793. He spent much of his youth, however, in the mountains of Tennessee. There, young Houston became acquainted with the Cherokee Indians, and he spent much time with them, an activity which he much preferred over studies or working on the farm.

With the outbreak of the second war with England, Houston enlisted as a private soldier, and was made sergeant of a company. After receiving three near-mortal wounds at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, he rose to the rank of first lieutenant before resigning in 1818 to study law.

After studying law for a few months, Houston was elected attorney general for Nashville and appointed adjutant general of Tennessee. He served two terms in Congress (1823-27) and in 1827 was elected governor of Tennessee.

While governor, Houston married Eliza Allen on Jan. 1, 1829. For unexplained reasons, however, the marriage was dissolved almost immediately, and Houston, under pressure from the influential Allen family, resigned his office of governor. For the next 6 years he lived with the Cherokee in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), taking a Cherokee wife, Tiana Rogers, and adopting Cherokee citizenship. Houston was called the "Raven" by the Cherokee. In 1832, he moved to Texas.

In Texas, Houston was elected delegate from Nacogdoches to the Convention of 1833 which met at San Felipe. From that time, Houston emerged as a prominent player in the affairs of Texas. In 1835, he was appointed general of the military district east of the Trinity. He became a member of the Consultation of 1835, and of the Convention which met at Washington on the Brazos in 1836 to declare independence from Mexico. It was there that Houston was elected commander-in-chief of the armies of Texas.

Houston immediately took control of the Texas forces after the fall of the Alamo and Goliad, and conducted the retreat of the army to the site of the Battle of San Jacinto, where on April 21, 1836, his force defeated Santa Anna and secured Texas long sought independence.

In the fall of that year, Houston was elected the first President of the Republic of Texas. After serving his term as President, he served in the Congress of the Republic in 1839-40. Then in 1841, Houston was again voted by a large margin to the head of the Texas government.

After statehood in 1845, Houston was elected Senator from Texas to the Congress of the United States. In the Senate, Houston was known for his staunch Unionism and friendship for the Indians. Unhappy that Texas seemed to be moving toward secession, he successfully ran for governor as an independent Unionist in 1859. Despite his efforts, however, the people of Texas voted to secede, and he was forced out of office in March 1861, ending his illustrious carrier in public service.

In 1840, Houston had married Margaret Lea in Alabama. They had eight children. Houston died at 6:15pm on July 26, 1863 in his home in Huntsville, TX. He is buried in Huntsville's Oakwood Cemetery. The city of Houston, Texas, was named for him.

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