How to Geek out this Summer

In Do, June 2017 by Mandy HowardLeave a Comment

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No longer a word of derision be proud and own your nerd and geek moniker. 

Welcome to Elvegast!

Anachronism: (noun) a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned.

You likely didn’t know it, but if you reside in Raleigh, thou livest in the oldest and largest barony in the Kingdom of Atlantia. At least you do within the bounds of The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA,) a 50-year-old international organization that is dedicated to researching and re-creating the lives of pre-17th century Europeans.

There are over 30,000 members of the SCA worldwide and each abides by the goal and promise to—as authentically as possible—recreate the Middle Ages.

The Kingdom of Atlantia covers Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Augusta County, Georgia. Within each kingdom are baronies, which are made up of Cantons. Central North Carolina is in the Barony of Windmasters’ Hill. Raleigh is the Canton of Elvegast.

With weekly Canton meetings, monthly Barony meetings and larger events throughout the year, the SCA appeals to lovers of history, those passionate about recreating the best virtues of the past including honor, respect and chivalry and, in their own words, nerds and geeks.

“Most of us have the ‘geek’ or ‘nerd’ label attached to us in the real world and we happily own it but we leave that behind here,” says Tankred Bras-de-Fer (SCA name,) a Herald for Elvegast Canton. “But within the SCA we also happily ‘geek’ out on things that happened in the Middle Ages. I ‘geek’ out on heraldry.”

Within the community, members adopt a persona, which includes a name, a time period and a place of origin. Also, many create a set of skills or jobs that align with that persona. The rules in adopting a particular name is that it must be authentic, in that it did or could have existed in that time frame and it must be unique within SCA. Heralds, like Bras-de-Fer are in charge of researching and registering personas.

If time travel were to suddenly be possible, SCA members would want personas they have created to blend with the period and location they have chosen. The name, skills, dress and job all follow accordingly.

The amount of history that is known within the group is intimidating, but it is all part of the passion of this group. They believe in involvement, not entertainment. This involvement leads them to a deeper understanding of the feudal society period they re-create. Members have become proficient in glassblowing, leather working and fighting. Throughout the year, you can find any number of tournaments or educational workshops on many types of combat including armored with swords, rapier combat and archery.

“The armor in fighting over the years has actually gotten more and more authentic for no other reason than we’re finding out that what they used is what works best,” says Elvegast Seneshal [President] Maelgwn Morgant.

Battles are not only fought as part of training and re-creating realities of Middle Age life, they are how rulers are determined, in accordance with period customs.

Every six months, SCA members may submit a letter of intent to fight in the Crown Tournament to become King or Queen of their Kingdom. Once the letter is approved, they are put in the Crown Tournament bracket.

The fight is to the death.

And by “death” I mean to the blow where the recipient whom has been educated in battle wounds and strikes would understand that such a blow would lead to one’s death had they been using real swords.

Once a victor is hailed, there is a small period for the sitting king until the victor and their consort become the new King and Queen. From there, the society continues to stay true to the feudal ideology with local barons, baronesses, knights and award recipients being chosen and appointed by the royalty.

Members of the SCA invite anyone and everyone wanting to make history alive today to join them at their monthly meetings or at any event on their calendar.

The Sound of Fandom

“Strong enough to pull the ears off a gundark!” – Captain Han Solo

“Dad, just stop…” – Our Kids

“Also, I can kill you with my brain.” – River Tam

These are just some of the reviews provided on the website of the Wizard Rock group, the Blibbering Humdingers, a band inspired by the Harry Potter book series.

Wait, What? You’re certain you haven’t heard of wizard rock, or songs inspired by a ‘nerd and geek’ fandom?

Well, have you heard of Led Zeppelin? Consider the lyrics of the popular “Ramble On.”

“Years ago in days of old when magic filled the air

‘Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor, mm-I met a girl so fair

But Gollum and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her…”

Just as Robert Plant was greatly inspired by Lord of the Rings, inspiration for music can come from anywhere. For many local bands, that inspiration includes Harry Potter, comic books, Star Trek and video games.

NC State graduates, Scott and Kirsten Vaughan make up the Blibbering Humdingers, a band inspired by the 2007 release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows and other wizard rock groups like Draco & the Malfoys and the Moaning Myrtles. They met while playing medieval music together in the Society for Creative Anachronism where they are known as Master Efenwealt Wystle and Maîtresse Aénor d’Anjou, but found their niche in wizard rock, blending the inside jokes of Hogwarts with catchy tunes.

The name, Blibbering Humdingers, comes from a creature only visible to the quirky character in the series named Luna Lovegood. The Vaughans said they stayed up all night reading Deathly Hollows, the night it hit shelves. The moment that Lovegood used blibbering humdingers as a distraction method, they paused their reading for just a moment. “That’d be a great name for a band,” they said.

Playing mostly at wizard fan events, like the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Quail Ridge Books and at conventions like Charlotte’s June ConCarolinas, the Blibbering Humdingers hope to expand their reach and look forward to playing parties, bars and events of all kinds.

With wizarding fandom winding down a touch, the Vaughans have branched into other areas of ‘nerd rock’ as well. Their recent song, “Raised by Nerds,” is an empowering anthem to all kids who define themselves as nerds or are raised by nerds.

“It’s so much more acceptable to be a nerd now than it was when we were kids,” Ms. Vaughan says. She points to the success that ‘nerds’ and computer savvy people enjoy as well as the fact that the Internet can help you find people who share your interests.

A generation ago, a child may have felt like they were the only one whose biggest crush was Uhura from Star Trek. Now, there are (likely) communities dedicated to any kind of nerd or geek fandom and it is easier for people to find their ‘tribe.’

Raleigh Supercon Director of Music and lead singer for War in the Pocket, Leonard Flounoy, agrees that it is much easier to connect with a community these days, but that doesn’t mean that this is necessarily ‘new.’

“When we sit down to write a song, we’re not trying to make it ‘nerdy.’ I know what I grew up with, what I was shown, what I experienced and a lot of important lessons for me just happened to come from those media: comics, anime and video games,” he says.

This year will be the first that Raleigh Supercon has dedicated time and space to spotlight local ‘nerd and geek fandom’ bands. The musical acts vary from single performers that use Gameboys as musical instruments to full progressive pop bands like, War in the Pocket.

“Being a part of this community and making music that we can relate to, it brings us all closer together,” Flounoy says. One of their songs, “Hey Listen,” is inspired by the Legend of Zelda and is told from the perspective of Link’s fairy companion, Navi. The lyrics relate to popular complaints about the fairy so are especially meaningful to fans. However, in all their music, Flounoy says their goal is to make the song relatable even if you’ve never played the game.

So if you read this headline thinking that wizard or nerd rock wasn’t your genre, you may be surprised. After all, it was cool enough for Led Zeppelin.

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