- [Guide] [Games] [E-Books]
A Clockwork Orange %}
Alex takes a joy ride
through our bright dreamy future
Coasters look FABULOUS - I am so excited about this product!!!
I'd had some mock-up versions to take to trade shows, but the
real product just ROCKS! I love the way the game boards can move
around - it's a great combo of strategy and luck." -- Carol,
posting on the Rabbit mailing list this week
||The Penn Renn Fair
you missed last week's report,
you may not know that we've decided not to move as far away as
but to choose instead a city within a donut-shaped area around
Washington DC (which we call the
Donut). And if you've missed the report from two
weeks ago, you may not know that I enjoy going to Renaissance
I've been to the Maryland Renn Fair dozens of times, having
gone almost once a year since just after they started having
them. (They just finished their 30th... I have in my file my
souvenir program booklet from the 3rd.) But even though I love
Renn Fairs and new ones have since cropped up all over the place
in the last 3 decades, I've never been to any Fairs other than
our own. (It's part of that George Baileyitis thing, I guess,
that makes factoids like this bug me.)
Anyway, as we now ponder candidate cities within the Donut,
we couldn't help but notice how well Harrisburg PA fits certain
criteria, since it's an interesting little city right in the
middle of the donut and is near to all 3 of these example cool
things: an Amusement Park, a Chocolate Factory and a Renaissance
Festival. Of course, HersheyPark is one of my very favorite theme
parks and I love visiting the Factory (though it's never been
the same since they stopped doing actual tours (which I barely
remember) replacing that option with "Hershey's Chocolate
To get to the point, I suddenly realized that there was one
weekend left in this season's run of the Pennsylvania Renn Fair,
and we had nothing else special planned as a Sunday Adventure,
so I said "Hey, let's go check it out!" And we did!
as in that great Pulp Fiction quote, it's all about the little
differences. By the way, have I ever ranted about the scene in
that movie that bugs me the most? It's when Vincent and the Uma
Thurman character are dining at the way cool retro-themed restaurant,
right before the dance contest. She asks about the rumors that
he just got back from living for a few years in Amsterdam,
and she says she goes there for about a month every year. And
then... nothing! There's a kind of a pregnant pause and then
they just start talking on a new subject! I find that ridiculous..
Two Americans who've been spending that much time in Amsterdam
would suddenly launch into all sorts of reminiscences. "Wow,
what's your favorite
coffeeshop? What part of town to you like to hang out in?"
"Hey, wait a second, no wonder you look familiar... didn't
I see you in the Grasshopper about a year ago? Yeah, I remember
you!" Instead, they have nothing to say to each other about
their experiences in that extremely interesting city. Sheesh.
But I digress. Like Vincent said, it's the little differences
that you notice, and I was quite surprised by several unexpected
differences between the Maryland and Pennsylvania Renaissance
The biggest difference was all the pavement. I just couldn't
stop noticing it. One of the things that makes the Maryland Fair
so special, it suddenly seems to me now, is the way it's built
out in the woods, with no real roads anywhere and certainly no
blacktop pavement. The Penn Renn Fair instead had that theme
park feeling... and the pathways where smoothly paved over. I
just couldn't get used to it, and kept noticing things like manhole
covers and drainage grates. It seemed overall to have fewer trees,
again removing the "out-in-the-woods" feeling. On the
other hand, the Penn Fair does have a more interesting topography,
with lots of little hills and valleys, and it also seemed even
more sprawlingly huge than does ours.
general I just felt like I noticed a lot of things that took
me out of the experience rather than enhancing it, far more than
I'm used to, which is why I think I like ours better. If you
think of the whole Renn Fair experience as being like a person
playing a role and trying to be believable, then the Penn Fair
has a greater tendency to break out of character than the Maryland
Fair (which of course has a hard time staying in character too).
Nothing typifies this feeling more, I think, than hearing
the audience at some show being encouraged to sing along to the
Mickey Mouse Club Theme Song. Nothing breaks you out of the feeling
that you're actually back in the year 1560 than hearing an audience
at a show yelling "Mickey Mouse! Donald Duck! Mickey Mouse!
Donald Duck!" and of course, you could hear it just about
everywhere in Festival, thus making it inescapable for everyone
there. (If it were up to me, I'd ban that sort of thing.)
Another thing that kept breaking the spell for me were the
prominent signs pointing out that this part of "town"
was "Swashbuckler Grove" and so on. Such zoning just
makes it feel like you're in the Pirate Area of the Medieval
Theme Park rather than an actual section of a recreated town.
And then there were the rides!
Of course, as I mentioned two weeks
ago, my favorite thing at these things is the "authentic"
medieval food, and while many of my favorites were there, differences
abounded. ("Nachos? I've never seen those in medieval times.
But hey, where's the deep-fried Macaroni & Cheese on a Stick?")
Overall, here again, I liked the food at Maryland's Renaissance
more than at Pennsylvania's version.
But there was one thing I did really like about the Pennsylvania
version of this time travel trip: open air fires. You never see
them at our Renn Fair, but I remember when they did... I think
they must have gotten banned around the time of the move from
Columbia to Crownsville. I miss them... they add a nice bit of
realism that's also very pleasant on a nippy fall day.
we had a great time. And guess who we unexpectedly bumped into
at the Penn Renn Fair? That's right, it's these friends shown
here, 'Becca and Dan and their almost-two-year-old toddler, Nicholas.
And as if talking to them weren't enough to remind us of how
appealing Pittsburgh is, we also started hearing this week from
another friend from Pittsburgh, who I met a few years ago at
Origins and who now lives right near us, who's totally telling
us the best place for us to go to is not just Pittsburgh, but
Squirrel Hill, the very neighborhood Dan
are from, and which we've visited and found to be undeniably
But it's outside the donut! But hey, it's such a big soft
donut, we can probably stretch it out to Pittsburgh... it's only
4 hours away, which is great compared to the 10 hour drive we
were looking at when we were thinking about moving to Canada,
even though it is a bit long for the Movie-Length Drive Test.
(You really need an intermission for a movie that long, but hey,
I've seen longer...)
But we're not making any more decisions just yet! Our brains
are open. Our other main candidate at the moment is Philadelphia,
but we're also talking about Harrisburg, Wilmington, & Charlottesville.
Keep the suggestions and opinions coming!
other news, we had a pleasant if boring Halloween. I'm already
way too late with this week's report to add anything more, and
don't expect to have time next week either, so the full pumpkin
gallery will just have to wait for awhile. But here's a glimpse
at this year's Class: a trio of hippie pumpkins carved by myself,
Janet, and Melanie. The Peace pumpkin (along with the remarkable
sphericalness of the pumpkin I chose) inspired me to create the
Globe-O-Lantern. The Peace on Earth theme was perfectly complimented
by Janet's daisies, leading to this image, which is what we put
on the candy bars we were giving out this year. (We had a huge
drop in Requests For Free Candy By Costumed Strangers this year:
just 26, down from last year's 42.)
Thanks for reading, and have a great week!
||I have a new travel goal: I want to be like that guy who
goes around trying to eat at every McDonald's there is, except
with Renn Fairs. I see each one
now as being like a different group's effort to create artificially
a time travel trip to the middle ages. I want to visit each one
and see how they compare! I want to eat Steak-on-a-Stake at every
different medieval village in the nation, and judge which one
is the best! I want to hear people in an English town who speak
with a Texas Accent! And finally, I have a reason to book a trip
on a cruise ship (since I'm still waiting for them to build that
recreation of the Titanic): I read on the internets that there's
a Renn Fair onboard a Cruise Ship somewhere! Can it be
true? The mind reels.
||"as for us we cannot help but speak
of the things which we have seen and heard." -- Acts 4:20,
a verse that has become my favorite to use when I'm playing Fluxx
with the Christian
expansion and I get the Bible Verses card. (Thanks for pointing
that one out to me, Carol!
But I'm still on the lookout for a cool, interesting, obscure
Hebrew word to memorize for when I run into the Hebrew Knowledge
||It's a sad day when our National Space Policy's primary goal
is changed from "Enhance knowledge of the Earth, the solar
system and the Universe" to "Further U.S. national
security, homeland security, and foreign policy objectives."
I'm glad I don't work for NASA anymore.