Her feet beneath her petticoat,
Like little mice, stole in and out,
As if they fear’d the light:
But oh! she dances such a way
No sun upon an Easter-day
Is half so fine a sight.
— Sir John Suckling (1609-1642), Fragmenta Aure, 1641
Day 7 minus 1, 25 October 2003
I have beige carpeting in my house. My very own house. I like it. I have light colored walls, a mirrored dining room, and work very hard to keep everything clean. Consequently, when I come into the house from outside, I usually remove my shoes and pad around either barefooted or in stocking feet. This keeps the crap from the yard off my loverly carpet. Regretfully, however, it also does away with any slight leather armoring my tootsies have.
This created an Unfortunate Incident ™ of a personal nature on Friday evening, late. Leaving my office (crammed with all kindsa electronic equipment from Cisco routers, firewalls and eight high-end servers, as well as MIDI crap, mixers, sound modules, and digital effects processors), I slammed my unprotected foot into the door jamb with great force, juuuust catching my left little toe, and destroying it utterly. Broken. Smashed. Ouch. Within an hour, my entire left foot was swollen and blue. Were I a Saxon eaorl, I would have been Rickert Smurfoot.
Thus having prepared myself for a blissfully flagellative weekend, I retire.
Days 7 and 8, 26/27 October 2003
Christ on a fucking skateboard. I think I am going to die. My foot hurts so bad I think I shall simply consciously decide to cease respiration. “It’s only a little toe,” I keep thinking to myself, while limping piteously around the house. Actually, it’s my entire foot, but I can’t let that keep me from making it to the gig–after all, I are a perfessional. So, I gingerly drag the hose over the afflicted appendage–and then notice that the feileadh beg (small kilt) that I usually wear has not been reclaimed from the cleaners (yeah, I take the damn think to the cleaners–I’d be damned if I’m going to iron all those pleats). Ergo, I move all the furniture around in the living room, spread out the great kilt, hand pleat it, lay down on it, and put the fucker on, cursing under my breath the entire time as I continually smash my foot against things. Then, it’s slither out to the Jeep and head northwest.
Of course, since I’m already in a pissy mood, what could be more fitting that shitty weather, too! It’s in the 50s with lowering skies. It rains on me intermittently all the way to Magnolia, and on the way, it becomes apparent that a fair number of wilderness creatures had low biorhythms last evening, and hurled their bodies onto the macadam. I pass no fewer than 3 former deer, a number of domesticated animals, and what appears to be a kangaroo. I reach Magnolia, where I decide to stop, pre-TRF, and gas up the Charcoal Monster (gotta love that 5.9 liter V8; ugh)–yet ANOTHER mammal-formerly-known-as-deer is splayed out next to the road just past the station. Upon leaving, however, I am somewhat surprised to note a herd (Bevy? Clique? Certainly not ‘school’) of native Texas gentlemen in a candy-ass red Dodge pickup field-dressing this animal, preparing to remove the haunches, apparently with lunch in mind. You know, West Virginia actually passed a law making this legal–but I don’t think Tejas has this one on the books yet.
Of course, it’s positively glutinous at the Festival grounds. The abhorrent memories of last year’s red clay mud are alive this morning, with a vengeance. On the way in, I see this Festival maintenance guy ahead of me in what appears to be an oversized Power Wheels vehicle. Driving one of them around would be cool, huh huh huh.
As I park, I see the boss-lady who is in charge of the weddings held at the TRF; unless I have somehow misunderstood, her name is Amber. (Sorry, no photo–I’m somewhat scared of her). No matter how wild it is–no matter how busy, no matter how crowded, I can always catch a glimpse of Amber striding purposefully around the backstage area, takin’ care o’ bidnezz. Additionally, no matter how crappy the weather is, she’s always fresh as a goddamned daisy, from her feathered headdress to her saucy little shoes. How does she do that? I wonder if all RenFaires have such a unfaltering, stalwart maiden doing the chamberlain thing, or if we’re just lucky here in Tejas. I haven’t even gotten out of the Jeep yet and I feel like a slob. (No comments, please)
The other thing I notice as I part this morning are the flags on the TRF battlements at the front gate, hanging wet and listless in the drizzling mizzle. A puff of breeze halfheartedly catches their folds, and I notice that they are, in fact, Lite Beer flags. There’s authenticity for you.
I park in my customary river bed and get the horn out. Glop, glop, glop. AND my foot is killing me. I figure that at this point, the only two things that can salvage the morning are (a) beer, or (b) espresso. Figuring that, in the long run, the caffeine is “better” for me at 9:30am, I slop off towards the Risorgimento Starbucks just inside the gates. Ordering, much to the attendant’s surprise, a quad-shot latté, I head back to the backstage area to needfully gulp down its healing secrets–only to have the fucking thing explode on me when I open the lid, covering my shirt, my kilt, my face, and most likely all living creatures within a six-foot radius.
By God, this is going to be a good day.
Note the lovely red mud in the photograph. Folks not acquainted with the properties of red mud, whether of the Alabama, Georgia, or Texas variety, are sometimes taken aback at the extreme lubrication such a granular material can afford. Such was the case when a trio of individuals, to my eyes sneakin’ in through the sometimes unprotected side gate, hit the mud in the ersatz roadway and went ass-over-teakettle into the slime. I do so wish I had had the camera; it would have made a wonderful illustration to a cautionary tale.
We get started on our first set and everything sounds decent, although I must confess I am listening to the group and myself through a haze of constant discomfort and an Advil-induced haze. My smurfy foot is most tender, and during the course of our set, I fold, spindle, and/or mutilate it at least three times, which tears an involuntary imprecation of extreme wattage from my throat in each case. Thankfully, I manage to keep my lips (mostly) together, thus avoiding a scene–unlike a wonderfully talented colleague of mine several years ago who made a playing error, and then self-criticized herself with a lusty “FUCKING CUNT!” from the gazebo stage. This is not unlike another friend of mine, back in the days when I was an announcer for WHIL-FM radio (that’s “classical radio for the Gulf Coast” to those of you in Mobile, AL), who mispronounced a number of Italian surnames during a pre-announce of a work to be broadcast, then muttered, quite audibly, “Shit, I really fucked THAT up” whilst the microphone was still hot. Ooopsie.
Since it’s raining like hell, we have no audience, save a poor woman and her child in a stroller that Darryl motions to join us on the gazebo due to the pouring precip. Within five minutes, the gazebo is swarming with people, including a group of uncouth, somewhat smelly teenagers who consider it no breach of etiquette to yell over our heads at their equally odoriferous cohorts during our playing. Ultimately, we eject all non-musical residents of the gazebo.
New this week is the Texas Brass banner that hangs in the rear of our gazebo. It fits the Western-inspired motif of the group quite well; however, it ain’t exactly musica transalpina, if you catch my drift. We have dubbed it the spaghetti western banner.
The weather finally clears off, right after I’ve crammed my swollen ped into my Sensible Shoes (as opposed to my Renaissance moccasins). We’re actually getting a decent audience now, and to make up for lost time (and tips), we’re all launching ourselves fairly decadently into the music–especially Eric, the hornist, who is performing with particularly meat-eating fervor. During the afternoon performance of Canzona Bergamasca (see previous installments), he tears into his sixteenth note runs with such malevolently violent intent that Darryl, when it comes his turn to echo the figure, collapses into a musical heap. This has never happened before–we all collapse, forthwith, cackling until the tears flow. As they say in choir, we then restrike and continue–only to have it happen again. Eric is secretly pleased with himself.
To continue the podiatric theme of this issue: During the first half of the day, it’s been a real cesspool, speaking in a groundwater-centric manner, and while I responded by changing to more sturdy (and protective) footwear, Darryl, and a number of other performers have taken action by simply discarding their shoes. Lady Devonshire, of Istanpitta, is one of these. Seeing otherwise nattily-dressed people with dirty feet adds a certain amount of medieval flavor to the proceedings–I recall the immortal lines from Python’s Holy Grail:
- Q: How can you tell he’s the king?
- A: He doesn’t have shit all over him!
(Insert sounds of peasant slapping water with a board and/or a cat being beaten against a tree here)
Despite the atrocious weather, we still manage to meet or exceed our usual tip take for both Saturday and Sunday–a minor miracle (Santa Maria!) in and of itself.
At this point, a discourse on the voluminous TRF rulebook was inteneded–however, since I’m already almost THREE WEEKS late with this installment, I’ll stop this particularly lame screed and take up my pen again next week.
As a final withering aside, by the time I leave Sunday afternoon, it’s gorgeous. A perfect ending, etc.
The next journal entry will cover the weekend of November 1st and 2nd, during which I did my first ‘sleepover’ at the Festival.