Blame Alesone - she's dragging me back in for one more performance, and that drags my brain back in as well.
However, given that I've had done with things for the most part, I can now vent with a certain degree of impunity - given that I don't care what anybody thinks of me or says about me behind my back (or even in front of my face).
The Middle Kingdom is broken. It is going to stay broken. Because no one wants to fix it. After all, we're all equals, but some of us are more equal than others. The basic list of problems:
1. The "Pro Tour" - the fact that even Royal Peers call the string of events that Royalty is always at the Pro Tour. So every year with dreadful regularity you can set your Calendar without every knowing who Crown even IS. While other groups go for 10 and 20 years or more without any sort of Royal Visit. And responding to this plaint with "People who want to see Royalty just need to travel more"? Sort of makes me want to punch you in the face, even if you are a Royal Peer. Just sayin'.
And it is apparently more important to go to a localish event where all of one's household are expecting the Crown than to an Inter-Kingdom event that the OTHER Kingdom's Royalty are attending. Heaven forbid the Crown OR the Heirs show up for that. Three years running. I'm embarrassed on behalf of the Kingdom.
2. The absolute disaster that is the Kingdom Calendar. Dropping the 150-mile rule to the 100-mile rule didn't help anybody. Reinforcing the "Don't be an asshole" rule will be an even better idea.
Look, I know it seems like a dichotomy - but the economy is crippling events. It's very difficult for people to travel like they once did AND at the same time it's damaging for every event to have so many small events on the calendar. And people who don't get this clearly don't understand the economics of the decision making at that level. It isn't just "Do I go to even A or B this weekend?" It's more complex. "Do I go to event A this weekend? Or to even B in two week? Because I can only afford one this month." Or "Do I go to two events this month, and 'support our neighbors and my own group'? Or do I save up and go a little further to an event out of state instead?"
Five and six events per weekend is bad for everybody. People are cutting down on how many events they go to. More events is not the answer. Why is this so hard to compute?
3. The Peerages. OMFG. All of them need to be Spoken To. And any of them who refer to non-Peers in public as "Generic SCA-ers" need to be knocked upside the head with the nearest heavy object. OL? Please try to understand that running down other people's work does not, in fact, make you look better. If you were Laureled in 1976 for something you haven't done since then and it's given you a complex... go sit in the corner and Shut Up Already. OP? Hey, now would be a good time to NOT try to convince people that (because, let's face it, the requirements for this Peerage are fuzzy at best) if you decide that they're not The Right Kind of People you'll black ball them in Circle. Pretty sure no single Pel has that kind of power and even implying that you might do such a thing brings Un-Peerlike Qualities to new lows. Knock it the F*** off. And the Chiv, ah the Chiv. Lots of "Peer-like Qualities" talk goes on here, too. And many is the Knight who will spend hours on the training field praising and polishing and telling an Unbelt what a well-thrown wrap that is. But get into any sort of Tournament with any cache at all and the "rules" change. Land a nice clean shot to the ribs, hear the Knight say, "Good!".... and watch him take a leg. Claim it doesn't happen, but I have eyes and ears enough to know that if you're an unbelt - particularly one not squired or not squired to someone who Matters(TM) - well, a Knight doesn't really have to acknowledge defeat. After all, "whining" about it will get you no-where. Your word vs. a Knight? Good luck with that. Ditto the petty machinations that go on with Crown Tourney. I suspect some people got Ideas from the 2nd Crown Tourney where it was Understood that no one was to beat Lutr... no matter what The Rulz might have said. Ideas that it was OK to try to Imply that the Victor should be anyone in particular. This is not the Kingdom of the East. You don't get to Vote. Knock that the Hell off, too.
4. The tendency to respond to criticism with "decorative" fixes. F'rinstance - the Principality thing finally got heard. The response, thus far?
Schedule a Regency Court - Wow. Can we say "fixing the wrong problem"? Nobody (at least in my hearing) has argued that the issue is not enough Awards being given out. And - news flash - a Baron and Baroness are not a King and Queen. Nor even a Prince and Princess. The only people who don't get this are people who are deliberately being dense OR possibly Landed B&Bs with over-inflated ideas of their own importance. Representative of the Crown? Yep. Important to anybody but their own Populace? Nope. Lacking in the same degree of splendour as a Crown or Coronet and missing the equivalent emotional force.
Hold Regional Officer meetings - We're listening! Really! We're having meetings and everything!
Make a last minute change to declare Pentamere's 12th Night to be Kingdom 12th Night. - Rly? This fools anybody? Or, ya know, we could actually follow Kingdom Law as it was written to declare 12th Night a Kingdom event and bid it out, etc. Just cause that's what we're SUPPOSED to do. Crazy idea, but it just might work. Is it a Kingdom event or isn't it? S**t or get off the pot, already.
Have Hoary Old Peers declare that the Principality question is a Dead Issue. Because they say so.
"Peer Pals" for smaller groups, so they have a line of communication to the Crown. WTFBBQSheepOnFire!! Nobody should NEED a Peer to approach the Crown. Then again, the Crown should bloody well respond to any concerns brought to them. And NOT through some ham-handed lack-wit Peer likely to make the situation worse. Most inter-group conflicts that went really awry that I know of were created BY Peers. I can't begin to see how this could be better. Worse, almost certainly.
In summary - The Middle Kingdom learned absolutely nothing from it's 3 previous Principalities and fully intends to make the same mistakes again. Why? Because REALLY making changes of a substantive nature would be inconvenient for the Crown and not in the best interests of the way the Peers who run the Kingdom want to play.
5. (and you're going to think I'm a little nutz here) Death of the food culture of the Kingdom.
Feasts are a joke. Either laughably bad or intentionally non-period or sometimes both. No dayboards. Lunch taverns that serve hotdogs and bratwurst lauded as a great new addition to the event.
I think we really lost it as a Kingdom when we ceased breaking bread together. So much of the human experience is wrapped up in food. Cultural identity, comfort, emotional commitment. And we have none of that. In fact, in an effort to squeeze EVERY activity into EVERY event we often don't even leave space for communal dining. There isn't anywhere TO eat together. Yet, how many people that you know in the SCA did you COME to know over a meal? Feast, potluck, lunch, between-bout snack. Leaving aside the personal reasons why my family can't manage feasts... I think the Kingdom started to lose it's glue when we decided they weren't important. The whole "dream" started at a banquet. But now it's too much work to sit feast for a large event. Or even lunch. BYOB. And go eat it in the corner. If you're lucky, you might get Pomegranate Chicken. Or fish in fish sauce with a side of fish. Maybe some cole slaw?
It wouldn't BE that hard to get this right. A little advance planning and contacting some farmer's market vendors and you could have the ultimate farm-to-table experience. Heck, even I know people who could provide venison, or would custom-raise rabbit, or peacock, or swan if you wanted it. But we'd have to commit again as a Kingdom to making it a priority.
So, in a nutshell, all the little "changes" being made right now are the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Have fun with that.
- The Recovering SCAdian who is now just a Nameless Sempstress