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May 29, 2009

My Take on State Parks Closures

Really, I get it that we are in a horrific economic crisis. I understand that the State Parks are not, just by virtue of being my pet program, immune. I expected bad news, and was resigned to deep and painful cuts. However, I was not prepared for the proposal to just delete the State Parks from the budget. That is just insane.

The first argument against it is, of course, that the State has taken on a sacred trust to preserve these resources for future generations--but that argument, it would appear, can be simply brushed aside by saying "Hard times mean hard choices".

Hard times do mean hard choices, but they shouldn't lead to dumb choices.

Continue reading "My Take on State Parks Closures"

Posted by Walter at 04:23 PM | Comments (1)

May 28, 2009

Which parks will live and which will die

I just received this:

This evening, we did receive the list of parks to be closed. It is as bad as we thought. I’ve gone through them and matched them to legislators’ districts, as CSPF will be using this to communicate the district impact to affected legislators. We’re posting this list on our web site tonight.

Also, I received a list of parks that will remain open, attached is a document from DPR to that affect.

As I discussed on a call with many partners this afternoon, it is important that we all activate our networks to oppose these closures, and now, with the list, some of you may have even more urgency to do so. Please feel free to direct your networks to our online action alert at, where they can send communications to their legislators and the Governor. Also, I welcome more participants at Tuesday’s Legislative Budget Conference Committee in Sacramento, which will be the only opportunity for public testimony in front of the Legislature on this issue.

Please contact me with any questions. Will keep updating if I get more information.

Traci Verardo-Torres
Vice President, Government Affairs

California State Parks Foundation
1510 J Street, Suite 120
Sacramento, CA 95814
TEL: 916.442.2119
FAX: 916.442.2809

Parks which will remain open

Parks to be closed

Posted by Walter at 06:15 PM | Comments (7)

May 24, 2009

I speak Slag

Last night, while visiting some friends, we channel surfed over to an alarming bit of TV called "Ladettes to Ladies". It is a bizarre reality show from Britain wherein several very coarse working class girls are put through a finishing school to turn them, Pygmalion-like, into young ladies.

The title of this post comes from the fact that I was able to follow and translate the impenetrable cockney of one of the girls a bit better than my companions. "Slag" is, essentially, "Slut" or "Skank".

It was a real horror show, but in a strange, train wreck sort of way, it is an oddly interesting meditation on the British class system.

Continue reading "I speak Slag"

Posted by Walter at 08:06 AM

December 08, 2008

A Child's Christmas in Scumthorp.

As told to Walter Nelson by Tom Todger, the oldest resident of the village of Scumthorp-on-the-Moor, somewhere in the North, England.

Ah, well I remember them days, back before the War. Scumthorp were covered with a fresh blanket of sleet, and the icy winds and driving rain of summer were but a distant memory. All houses were tarted up proper for Holiday, with candles in windows, and mistletoe, holly and ivy all about, and children could talk about naught but Father Christmas.

Then, upon Solstice, we'd build a sort of a man made of wicker, put a virgin in it, set it alight and all dance about it singing Ding Dong Merrily on High, 'cause we knew that the sun were certain to return -- and next morning, there'd be a Christmas panto for the kids. Ah, good times.

Even then we had a bit of trouble with the Sacrifice though. Tradition required that Vicar should be the Guardian of the Virgins, but seemed like every year, Virgin would say "Hey Vicar, care for a go?" and bang! -- disqualified. And try to find a replacement virgin, on short notice, on a holiday...

But for all his faults, old Vicar were the most enthusiastic supporter of the Old Ways. He's gone and there's a new Vicar now. All had great hopes for new lad, him being a "confirmed bachelor" and all -- but it didn't work out. He had all these new ideas.

I don't know what's wrong with Church of England these days -- what with them messing about with the liturgy and their support for human sacrifice being lukewarm at best.

But them days are gone, and I've taxed thee long enough with ramblings of an old man, so I'll just say don't forget the reason for the season, and I wish thee and thine an happy Christmas.

Posted by Walter at 12:02 PM

November 18, 2008

The Living History "Flash Mob"

Lately I have been pondering the situation of the "civilian re-enactor". This is someone who chooses to portray a non-military person at public history events. This civilian often finds him or herself marginalized at events that are really all about soldiers marching about and playing "bang you're dead" or gunfighters doing what ever gunfighters do, as well as also target shooting or playing "bang you're dead".

Further, the civilian is often, by choice and situation a free agent without the support provided by an established group. This can be very isolating, and seriously degrade one's quotient of fun, with nothing much to do and no one to talk to.

Modern technology however offers an interesting opportunity to mitigate the negative aspects of wanting to portray the ordinary man, woman or child of the era while increasing the fun and impact of our activities.

A modern phenomenon is the "flash mob", where a group of individuals use email, texting, social networks, cell phones and the like to create collective action. Often it's things like political protests or stunts. However, this same model of the flash mob can be applied to our hobby, and allow the benefits of a supportive group of like minded people without the complexity and constraint of formal organizations.

I would like to suggest that we who portray historical folk embrace the model of the "flash mob" and use technology to make our mark on the world.

If this interests you , please read the full entry for the details.

Continue reading "The Living History "Flash Mob""

Posted by Walter at 04:20 PM | Comments (7)

April 28, 2008

Blog Comments: a Dying Breed

It isn't a compelling point, since I have not been very active in keeping my blog up to date lately, but I would like to let folks know that I will be disabling comments on most of my future posts. The reason is the pervasiveness of robotic spam machines that insert the same sort of crap in the comments fields in blogs and "guest books" that you get in your email.

Continue reading "Blog Comments: a Dying Breed"

Posted by Walter at 09:20 AM

February 05, 2008

Living History Protest in Sacramento

Here is info from David Freeman, who is organizing a "living history" protest against the proposed park closures. This protest will originate in Sutter's Fort and then march a few blocks to the State Capitol.

For more information, contact Mr. Freeman directly.

A message from Mr. Freeman follows:

Continue reading "Living History Protest in Sacramento"

Posted by Walter at 06:58 AM | Comments (1)

January 21, 2008

The Governor's Plan to Close State Parks

I don't generally make political comments on the web, but Governor Schwarzenegger's recent proposal to close a raft of state parks to address the budget deficit has me livid.

Continue reading "The Governor's Plan to Close State Parks"

Posted by Walter at 07:29 AM | Comments (4)

October 01, 2007

Middle Aged Swashbuckling

This is something of a departure for me, as I try to avoid too much personal stuff (I find self indulgent blogs deeply boring). I will, however make a slight departure in this case, as the topic has something of a historical connection. I would like to speak in praise of the one sport that has ever held my interest: fencing (I don't consider dancing a sport, and dislike attempts to make it one)

Continue reading "Middle Aged Swashbuckling"

Posted by Walter at 09:13 AM | Comments (1)

February 13, 2007

The Passing of Patri Pugliese

This from the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers:
It is with tremendous sadness that The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers announce the death of our esteemed co-director, Patri J. Pugliese, on Sunday, February 11, 2007. To say that he will be sorely missed is an understatement. As many of you know, Patri courageously battled cancer for most of the past year.

Continue reading "The Passing of Patri Pugliese"

Posted by Walter at 05:56 AM | Comments (3)

January 22, 2007

Spectacular Art Deco Events in California

Art Deco themed events, by which I mean events covering roughly 1920-1945, seem to offer the highest degree of "total immersion". It's easier to lose yourself in the 1930s than it is, for example, in the 13th Century.

I suppose that's because we have plenty of wonderful Art Deco venues still intact, and it is a comfortable and familiar world, well document in movies and not too different from our present day. We even have many people among us who actually experienced the era in their younger days.

These Deco events, given all that they have to offer, can also be rather expensive.

Here are some of the biggest and best recurring events I know about in California. I am including Northern California as well.

Continue reading "Spectacular Art Deco Events in California"

Posted by Walter at 10:19 AM | Comments (1)

December 24, 2006

The Future (or lack thereof) of LAHA

For the better part of the last ten years, while I have been running LAHA and all it's activities (vintage dances, living histories etc.), I have had an arrangement with my employer to work 90% time. This has given me one day off every two weeks to attend to the all the details of these activities.

Alas, that is no longer the case. My employer has now put me on 100% time, which has actually translates to something more like 120% time. I no longer have the time and energy to do this--and while I think I have done a pretty good job of creating successful events, what I have not done is build an organization that has the depth to run itself.

2007 will be LAHA's final year, but fear not--the events and website you have come to rely on will continue.

Here's the plan:

Continue reading "The Future (or lack thereof) of LAHA"

Posted by Walter at 08:14 AM | Comments (1)

December 22, 2006

Another Event Sold Out

If you are on our email list, you know by now that the Social Daunce Irregulars ball is, as of this writing, sold out. This follows the Lanterman Tea and Avalon Ball selling out, preceded by the SDI Ball in June selling out (and let's not forget the Jane Austen Evening in January)--and yet people are still surprised. Every new "sell out" creates dozens of personal crises out there in the big world.

Continue reading "Another Event Sold Out"

Posted by Walter at 09:37 AM | Comments (3)

November 14, 2006

Joe Wasielewski

It's fallen to me to pass on the sad news of the death of Joe Wasielewski, the principal founder of the long running "Saint Nicholas Ball". Joe was a chef at the Biltmore when he started the event, which became an annual tradition there for many years. After new Biltmore management made the environment less friendly, the dinner dance moved to the Hollywood Roosevelt. It ran there for a few years until Joe's health and other issues caused it to fold.

Joe passed away on October 15th after a long illness, in a monastary in Northern California. His sister Fran and his friends are planning a suitable remembrance for him some time soon.

Posted by Walter at 09:46 AM

August 29, 2006

Patri Pugliese

It is with great sadness that we learn that Patri Pugliese, one of the leading lights in historical dance and historical fencing, is suffering with inoperable liver cancer.

Patri, thanks for all you have given us, and our thoughts are with you and your family.

Posted by Walter at 06:49 AM | Comments (5)

June 12, 2006

Another Historical Pet Peeve--Archery and Hollywood

One of my far too numerous hobbies is "primitive archery". My wife and I own replicas of medieval English longbows, and we occasionally take them out and shoot our replica arrows (some with lovely vicious "bodkin" and "broadhead" points) at evil straw bales that really need killing.

When ever we get together with friends to slaughter these bundles of vegitation, the subject of how different what we are doing is from what you see in the movies comes up.

Here a few of the observations.

Continue reading "Another Historical Pet Peeve--Archery and Hollywood"

Posted by Walter at 03:53 PM | Comments (2)

April 17, 2006

I am Punked from beyond the grave,

Or how I was disabused of a dearly held notion.
I'm not a credulous person. I could smell a rat about the "Hitler DIaries" and tabletop fusion, remember that? I know that a memoir is part truth part embellishment and good editing. Who wants to read "Went to store, forgot wallet. Had a sandwich and sat on the sofa paid some bills". Fasinating. (Well maybe in two hundred years, "they had wallets back then?") Recently I was talking with my good friend A--- while she was at work and the conversation strayed to the 18th century diary (You can take the girl out of the English major...) well really the 18th century popular novel and we lamented what hard going they usally are, so full of edifiing virtue in the face of terrible tempations and they do go on and on. I mentioned that I had read a great diary lively, funny, well paced, not like an 18th century diary at all. It was by Cleone Knox a young woman of the landed Irish gentry, her supposed attachment to a Mr. Ancaster and her travels through Europe to separate them. Edited by a distant relation in the early 20th century and published by the family with some omissions in deference to the sensiblities of the time.

Continue reading "I am Punked from beyond the grave,"

Posted by at 01:42 PM | Comments (1)

April 03, 2006

April Is The Cruelest Month

I have always found it interesting that April 15th is the confluence of historically important dates. Lincoln's death, the sinking of the Titanic and of course Tax day. I know that Lincoln was shot on the 14th and the Titanic was struck on the same, but they both waited for the 15th to succumb. Ominous. (Why is it that when ever I see the movie "Titanic" I always think "Come on Iceberg! ", Oh yes, the TERRIBLE writing. I hope such a bad movie is never made about Abe or I'll have to root for J.W. Booth.) So as you run to the post office on the 15th think of John Wilkes Booth chasing Lincoln with a hand gun around the deck of the Titanic saying "Sink semper tyrannus".

Posted by at 01:09 PM

March 27, 2006

Look Ma I'm Dancin'

We all live with the modern paradox, the more people there are the more isolated one becomes. Sure you can go out to a movie or a meal but unless you are with family or friends you're on your own. So in my effort to actually interact with people to actually talk to strangers not lubed by sweet alchohol I ventured out to the English Country dance in the heart of darkest Monrovia. First I tried to bring along my brother who has some small dance skill ( not as much as one would suppose after years of being on the SDI committee) but he made some excuse like he wanted to see his wife or "little Britain" was on TV. Then I asked Todi who will travel to far off countries in her zeal to learn and dance. She reluctantly agreed. So, Monrovia, something like a medieval city state with Starbucks. You never know when aggressive Arcadia will try and move in on the frontier, with their vices of horse racing and botanty. I did finally arrive, Friday night on the 210 and MapQuest not withstanding and was happy to see about 16 other people had the same idea. The music was on and they were dancing to Marsden's calling.

Continue reading "Look Ma I'm Dancin'"

Posted by at 01:56 PM | Comments (1)