Bright Ideas and True Confessions: How and What to Do and Why


About Strip Tease, Toilets, Drug Use and Stuff [1]

So that you don't make the Society look bad, stupid, or undesirable, avoid using terms such as "exotic dancing" (which means strip-tease in the real world) if what you meant was Middle-Eastern dancing. Don't use "Shrine of St. John" to refer to a toilet. It's the kind of thing that's funny once, but not good in print. Have no references to drugs, pro or con. Drug use has nothing to do with our re-creation of medieval feasts and tournaments, and of course mundane laws are to be followed, so it does no good to state that except to make it appear that we don't usually expect people to follow the laws. What if you saw this in some newsletter of a club you weren't in:

The Munchkinoid Chapter of the Over the Rainbow Club will hold its anniversary dance at Thanksgiving. The children will not be allowed to fire semi-automatic weapons. Turkeys may not be slaughtered on the site and sex with minors is, as always, forbidden.

It's not much different, folks, from Popular Chivalry stating frequently in event announcements that illegal substances will not be allowed on a site, or from the Crown of Atenveldt writing a letter, first page of Southwind, telling people not to use drugs at events. Stop doing that, even if it comes from the Crown. An event announcement (in a bid, not published) for an event hosted by the group in El Paso said "all mundane laws of the State of Texas will be enforced." First of all, of course mundane laws are in force; as to whether they'll be enforced, I doubt anyone knows all the laws of Texas-merchants selling on Sundays (if it was before the "blue laws" were changed) and people carrying swords probably were illegal. (And there's that king up there with that sword.) Second, there aren't any non-mundane Texas laws, and Third the site was in New Mexico so why enforce Texas law there? At the time it came up it was funny, but had it been published it wouldn't have been so funny, really.

Now don't publish anything about that, either-a statement from the chronicler saying "AElflaed says to stop discouraging drug use" or "We're no longer allowed to tell people not to bring drugs to events" is not what I have in mind. Subtle education and perhaps discreet use of liquid paper would be better.

"Post Awful" and other such insults have no place, either. Without third-class permits, our memberships would all cost much more than they do. Lay off the post office.

Try to limit officially-published material to things relating directly to events, administration, arts and sciences, or commentary on Society-related subjects. Commentary should be on the positive end of the spectrum. If a member feels like moaning and complaining about the Crown or Kingdom or individual others, let him spend his own money, and not that of the membership or kingdom, to do it. Disputes don't need to be aired in front of the 70% of members who don't know or care about them, and certainly don't need to be aired in front of our mundane readership, small as it is.

Spelling counts! Especially if you re-type something, be careful of spellings. I've had my own announcements re-typed (and misspelled, and garbled) and there was one of the corporate marshal's (Duke Siegfried's) a while back in which "candidate" was misspelled "canadate." Siegfried is an excellent speller and the error made him look bad, along with the Society and that newsletter. [2]

Two other problems I've noticed lately (and which could use their own letters, but I have two days to finish a costume for my last-day-of-being queen): Talewinds had a cover showing a scantily clad female with a unicorn. It came out the same month their mailing was seriously awry, and the newsletters had to be sorted on the spot at the bulk mail office, and the first class mail went out third class, and their application for non-profit bulk was thrown back out for more documentation. Even on a good month, people not in decent costume don't belong on the cover of a kingdom newsletter, and I wouldn't be surprised if that didn't contribute to the post office's reluctance. The other problem was Pikestaff's threat to return whole event announcements if the instructions say to make the checks out to an individual. Since you're re-typing anyway, you could just put that the checks should be made out to SCA-whatever-the-group-is (which is the corporate policy you're wanting to help enforce, which is commendable) and let the group figure out how to get the checks into the bank the right way from there. Not every potential local autocrat is up on current corporate policy, and to cause an event to be unofficial over such a technicality is counter-productive.

I apologize for naming newsletters, and in neither instance is it an end-of-the-world matter, but if in future cases decisions are made on what is best for the Society rather than what's expedient for the editor, it would be best for all (including even the editor).

In the Steward's letter to seneschals she mentions a lawsuit against the Society about which we're not supposed to talk much (on lawyer's advice) and she mentioned it for rumor control. First of all, it doesn't involve any injury or damage, but is a sour-grapes sort of "I didn't have fun" problem on the part of a former member. I don't want anything published in any newsletters about it. Something will be in the board minutes, and they're an official publication, and that's plenty enough right there. If your kingdom's seneschal sends something for publication and if you can't talk him or her out of wanting it published, call me and I'll see what I can do. There's no advantage whatsoever in working anyone up about this. Our lawyer will move for dismissal, and it will probably be gone before anyone knows about it if we keep it quiet. I'm one of the "officers and former officers" named in the suit, and I'd sure hate to have it handled discreetly and calmly by the board this month only to have it published and cause a panic next month. If it grows big you can read about it in the minutes. [3]

Deadlines: When you publicize your deadline, it would be better for you and all if you say something like "materials received after the deadline may be saved until the following month" or "the editor reserves the right to delay any copy received after the deadline." If you say late things will not be published, what do you do about things you want to include or need to? Maybe you'll need to fill a four-page section, or maybe something is extra important. You don't want to be in the position of having been dishonorable by breaking your own rule "whenever you feel like it" (as someone whose article has been bounced in the past will see it). By wording it so that you leave the option open, you maintain your right to be hard-nosed and can still fairly take material until the day of printing if you want to or need to.

(end of the October 1986 quote)



[1] The title's new. The text is from an October 1986 letter from me as corporate chronicler to the twelve kingdom chroniclers. Small editorial changes have been made, but it's nearly all word-for-word.

[2] There have been people who have thought I was too hard about spelling and typing, that it's not that important. I don't think anyone would be sympathetic about a treasurer who couldn't do simple math or keep a checkbook. I'm not talking about the finer points of tense or punctuation--I'm talking about knowing how to spell "medieval" and "Renaissance" and being able to type a name or phone number correctly if it was given to you clearly and legibly. I can't work up any sympathy for someone being a kingdom-level chronicler who can't spell "calendar." (Calontir is excused.)

[3] It was dismissed, and sure enough it was kept down except for the details given in board minutes.

Copyright © by Sandra Dodd, 1991
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