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Here's a little forsoothly for ya.

Gather round, all, and hear my words. I, Ambrose, Knight and Baron, Viscount, and Squire of old to Dublin, do tell now two stories. Let no man doubt the truth of these tales, for I was there and saw the fields upon which they happened. (It may be that the words I report were not spoken with such eloquence upon the day; I follow the example of Herodotus, Father of History, and make true those things which should have been...)

I sing you of the deeds of Sir Dublin, Baron and Knight. In his deeds of valor unmatched, in humors bold and virtuous, in the legends of his life unleavened by lies, I tell you true: here is a man of An tir and Summits, who may stand unashamed in the company of any.

Long ago it was, and far to the south: Sir Dublin strode the field, Roachy Crest upon his helm, a pike in his hands, sneaking...er, searching the edges of the field for Western foemen.

Whence came that foul roche that sat upon his helm, as it were a crest? And by what foul spell did it dance and sing, distracting friend and foe alike? I know not, nor I deem does any man now living.

It came to pass that certain Knights of Western fealty were at rest beside the trunk of a great Tree; and Sir Dublin came upon them at unawares, and approached them from behind.

Alas! That roachish Crest upon his helm, rocking side to side as he approached his foes, must needs have felt some twig or leaf against it brush; and waking from its torpor, began to sing and dance as was its wont.

“Slay him!” warbled Westies, and charged the Hero, intent, it would seem, upon his demise. Sir Dublin stood, and struck, and slew the enemy Knights ere they could approach.

Save one; that one drew back his mace and made a mighty blow---and slew not Dublin, but the singing Insect that had so taunted him.

That night, the Knight who slew the beast did drink and dance and brag of his great deed, and all there feted him, Monarchs and peasants alike. Gold he gained, and great gratitude for his deed.

Was it Western King that so rewarded the Slayer of the Roach? Or some other Monarch?

Two years passed, and it came to pass that another great field was fought, upon the Ground Where the Roach Died. This field had before been known as the Field of Pigs, and as the Place of Never-ending Wind.

For the wind blew there, and never steady in its course, came from all directions, severally or all at once. And when the wind blew from the west, it carried to the assembled armies the odor of a Great Farm of Swine. And it was very foul.

On that field Sir Dublin strode, strong if squat, and bore up the surcote and banner of his newest rank: Prince of the Summits was he, and led a mighty force to the aid of the King of An tir.

It came to pass as the battle swept back and forth across the land, that An tir’s mighty army gained most of the field; and for that time, the Western King and all of his host were pent within their own Castle, and they valiantly defended the smashed Gate thereof.

Mighty Dublin, Warrior Prince, led the Muster of his realm into battle, driving the Western host deep within its own redoubt. But the Western King, clever and cunning, brought forth fresh troops to the battle.

Step by step the Host of the Summits retreated, beset by Dukes, Knights and Footmen three times our number and more. As we fell back to the gate and beyond, His Highness turned his back upon his foemen.

Did he flee? A pox upon he who thinks it! He stepped backwards into the line of the foe, and made as if to strike us, his own men.

The foe, thinking him one of them (Cynagua, perhaps?) strode to the breach and to the fight...and Dublin, ever clever, called out: “Stand your ground, O men of the West! Hold the gate, for the enemy brings many more men to the field, and we are like to be o’erwhelmed!”

(It was true; a host of An tirians was there, just out of bowshot, preparing to charge. ’Twas Sir Daegar led them.)

But even as the Westies backed up to hold their broken Gate, Prince Dublin turned upon them. He struck and slew as Western footmen floundered, flustered and frustrated. We of Summits’ Muster pressed them yet again, and Dublin, mighty Prince, returned into our midst; unscathed—indeed, untouched.

Did Castle West then fall? Did fail the stout and lordly defense of the Western Host? Did the King die, or did he escape?

These are tales for another day. ’Tis Viscount Dublin whose deeds we celebrate today: Knight, Baron, and Sheriff of lands untold and people unnumbered.

Good Gentles All, I remain your Loyal Servant,

—Viscount Ambrose, Knight and Baron
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Today is the anniversary of the day when my life began to turn. Even at the tender age of fifteen, it struck me that what happened at Kent State was wrong, wrong, wrong. And if that act by the Gov't was wrong, what else was?

From every adult relative on both sides of my family I heard the same wrong thing: "It should have been done long ago..."

Even at that age, I knew better. I realized that my life was in the hands of people who could not be trusted.

Nixon had turned his rough beast toward another country. Now Cambodia was to be the next domino to fall; not to the evils of "communism", but to the savage bombing, the chemical warfare, and the indiscriminate slaughter due to the pawns on Kissinger's chessboard.

Of course, it was many years before I saw all of it that clearly...why the college kids were protesting, the evil enterprise that was the Vietnam War, the foul calculus that Eisenhower and Kennedy and Johnson and Nixon had *all* engaged in.
My education up till then had been in the hands of people who wouldn't have dared to whisper about things like the Ludlow Massacre, Triangle Shirtwaist, Haymarket or Joe Hill. Nor, of course, would any of them even have thought of questioning the Gov't about the supposed "Gulf of Tonkin Incident."

It was soon after that day that I took things into my own hands: surreptitiously, of course. After all, I still lived among untrustworthy adults, and I was still in their power. But I began to read books and papers that would have been utterly disapproved by my relatives. I began to understand the slow creep toward fascism that was evident even in the early seventies.

Now, I look around me, and I despair. That slow creep is still creeping, so slowly that very few people notice it. We're boiling the planet, like frogs in a slow cooker, and our 'betters' are cranking up the heat. Industrial society is poisoning our air and water and soil, even as it sells us Big Macs 
and Powerbooks. Bread and circuses for high-tech slaves and the plebian underclasses.

This why I write the fiction that I write: to try to turn people's eyes to some better way, in the certain knowledge that I have little chance of doing so. But there's that tiny bit of hope...forlorn, even ridiculous, but it's there.

I wrote almost 500 words today, into the new serial novel. That's about what I have the energy for, after a day of physical labor.

Slow progress is still progress, right?

Right. Back to the salt mines, I guess.

See ya!
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This past week, from Tuesday to Friday, was the annual A3 Campout. A3 is The Springfield Academy for Arts and Academics. The campout this year had 400 students, all of their teachers, and enough parent-chaperones to (sorta) keep the kids under control. Herding cats and all, y’know.

What’s this have to do with zzambrose, you ask…

Well. Last year Marian became the Chief Cook for this event, and I became a guest teacher. The class I taught was: “The Art and Philosophy of Swordplay: How to stand, walk, turn, block, and cut like a real knight.” Additionally, I told each class a few stories about life in the Middle Ages: William Marshal played a central role in all of those stories (what a surprise).

I taught the class twice, each time to a group of ca. 20 students. I thought it went pretty well, while it was on. Afterwards, though…

I could barely show my face in the commons without one or more of the students buttonholing me to ask questions about the stuff we covered, or to inquire about things I only hinted at, or to ask about actually learning the Art. This continued for the whole of Thursday evening, and well into the next day. If I was sitting with or talking to another adult, the kids kept their distance. But if I was alone, they wanted to talk.

Jonna (who arranged for M and me to get these gigs) told me that the previous year’s version of the class had been the talk of the school, especially one of the handouts I distributed: “Knightly Virtues for the Digital Age” (You can read that essay here on LJ, tag Knightly Virtues). One of the teachers also told me that: “That Knightly Virtues essay was a hot topic for the first two weeks of school last year.”

So-o-o. Given that each class had at least a few kids who didn’t really give a bleep and were utterly not paying attention to their stances or footwork. Also given that some kids in each class were striving to do as I instructed, but needed a lot more than 1.5 hours to learn the basics. Still, I saw a lot of progress in all those things as each class went on, and there were at least 10 kids in the 40 who showed real talent, considering the restrictions I placed on them: “Don’t strike each other, we are none of us sufficiently insured for that. Practice slowly, learn quickly. Don’t smack your partner’s bamboo baton too hard, these are drills, you can’t ‘win’ a drill.” (A fair number of the ‘swords’ got splintered to death anyway. If I do this again, I’ll bring more bamboo sticks.) And so on, you get the idea.

Considering all of the above, I have re-calculated my self-evaluation and I have to say that the work of the last few days went very well indeed.


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September 2017



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