The Super Accurate Renaissance Faire Guide

With everything going on the world today such as the public health crisis, the murder hornets and meth gators, and probably some ninjas (those sneaky bastards), these are things that have led to many of our favorite events and pastimes being canceled.  Because of this I’ve recently realized that one of my favorite events has also fallen to the demise of cancelations around the country this year.  I’m speaking of course of one of America’s greatest cultural treasures:  The Renaissance Faire.  Huzzah!  

Yes!  The Renaissance Faire!  A magical place where your entire family can experience what fun it was to live in Europe five hundred years ago.  Minus the feudal oppression.  Or the Black Plague.  Or the witch burnings.  But there might still be the Spanish Inquisition.  Because nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.  Now that I mention it, one may think Renaissance Europe was not exactly a pleasant place.  However, Justin Beiber did not exist anywhere in any form back then.  So there’s that.  Glass half full.

But yes.  Like many other things in 2020 all the local renaissance faires have been canceled.  If you didn’t know this, I’m sorry to be the bearer of this bad news.  I understand if not being able to go to the Renaissance Faire makes you so distraught that you just want to plunge your face into a bowl of tequila-soaked nachos.  We’ve all been there at some point in our lives.  I digress.  

The Renaissance Faire is an entertaining place where you can watch two armored people attempt to poke each other with long, hard wooden shafts (a jousting match).  And you can do this while gnawing on a turkey leg large enough to end world hunger and/or bludgeon one of those people that knowingly blocks a grocery store aisle with their cart.  And then wash that turkey leg down with a tankard of beer that costs a mere $2,487.  The Renaissance Faire is a place where you can take up swordplay, or go to the archery range and shoot things with a longbow, and then get accosted by jesters and Star Trek cosplayers all while carrying your own medieval weaponry. See, it’s fun for the kids too!  

In addition to this the Renaissance Faire encourages you to dress the part, to wear that shirt with poofy sleeves that can double as a frigate sail, knee-high leather boots, and a codpiece.  If you don’t know what a codpiece is, it’s something renaissance men wore over their pantaloons to accentuate their…ahem…nether region.  It wasn’t enough for the males of the time to just stuff their trousers with a hunk of spotted dick.  They wanted to show a little more package in the hopes they could make the ladies of the court swoon at their overt displays of pelvic thrusting prowess.  Admittedly, not much has changed in men today.

What happens when the Renaissance Faire reopens, when we’re able return to this bastion of nerdy glory?  Although, with all things in life there are good things and bad things.  The Renaissance Faire is no different.  How would you or I know which one is bad and which is good?  Have no fear!  Due to this burning question on the minds of every American, I’ve put together some helpful tips on how to know if you’re at a good faire or a bad faire.  A Renaissance Faire guide, if you will.

Good Renaissance Faire–You are welcomed at the entrace gates by rum guzzling pirates, a friendly dragon, and a fortune teller handing out free lottery tickets.

Bad Renaissance Faire–The cast of Jersey Shore is there to welcome you at the entrance gates, and the “fortune teller” is actually just a lost hobo.

Good Renaissance Faire–The wandering minstrel will play Megadeth and Slayer upon request.

Bad Renaissance Faire–The wandering minstrel only knows how to play Nickelback songs.

Good Renaissance Faire–There is a full-sized catapult that you can shoot, allowing you to launch flaming Volkswagen Beetles at the DMV.

Bad Renaissance Faire–Instead of a catapult and all the fun that that entails, they give you a broken sling shot and half a bag of Peanut M&Ms.

Good Renaissance Faire–Ye Olde Foode Courte has food from all over Ye Knowne Worlde, including a pyramid of beer kegs, taco stands, buckets of turkey legs, and a Cold Stone.  Because ice cream.

Bad Renaissance Faire–The food court here only has a TGI Friday’s. 

Good Renaissance Faire–The area around the privies smells like fresh-baked cookies.

Bad Renaissance Faire–Before entering the privies, you’re given a torch and a chainsaw and told, “God hath forsaken this place.”

Good Renaissance Faire–After leaving you feel like you’ve experienced one of life’s epic adventures, thereby becoming more inspired to accomplish your goals, even if those goals are as lofty as hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, visiting every Waffle House in the USA, or dressing in a gorilla costume while climbing the Empire State Building. No judgement.

Bad Renaissance Faire–After leaving you need to douse yourself in turpentine, take a three-day shower, and get a tetanus shot, which causes you to study quantum physics with the sole aim of building the world’s first working time machine so that you can go back and prevent yourself from ever visiting the Renaissance Faire in the first place.

I have no doubt that there are many more pointers and tips one could give for good faires and bad faires.  I just hope that my little guide here will give you, my dearest reader, a little insight for the next time you’re able to visit the Renaissance Faire.  And when that day comes, just remember to dress the part, wear a pirate hat, drink a cold, frothy mug of beer, and have fun.

And don’t forget your codpiece.

The Battle of Independence Day

This past Saturday was Independence Day in the United States.  Or, as Americans refer to it in their local vernacular, the day of barbeques, beer, high-powered explosives, beer, blown off fingertips, a drunk Florida man putting a saddle on a gator, beer, sparkler sword fights, beer, and FREEEEEEEDDDDOOOOMMM!  And maybe some eagles and shit.  Independence day became an American holiday after winning its independence, which effectively began when a bunch of men donned Native American garb and stormed a British merchant ship, and tea-bagged the British Empire.

‘Murika!

Of course Independence Day is also highly regarded as the day Will Smith saved planet Earth from interstellar invaders.  It’s true.  I saw it on the History Channel, which as we all know, is the prime academic authority on all things extraterrestrial. Aliens. X-Files. Wookies.  The History Channel has you covered.  But actual history on the History Channel?  Fuck no!  But I digress.

As for myself on the 4th of July, I had been invited to a barbeque at my brother’s place with his family.  However, before I had a chance to head over to his house, I received a message from a lady friend asking if I’d like to go to the river with her, relax on the beach, swim a bit, and hang out.  And being the faithful family member and perfectly good and loyal sibling I am, I did what any good man would do in my situation.  I texted my brother on why I was going to be quite late to his barbeque and fireworks smorgasbord.  His response, in good brotherly fashion was, “Do it!!”

And so, I eventually arrived at my brother’s house where I joined his family and my parents in the great American tradition of using fire & flame, charcoal, cussing, and beer to scorch various meats until they resemble somewhat edible bits of compressed carbon.  Burnt meat and beer!  ‘Murika!  In truth, dinner was marinated, baked chicken and seasoned zucchini and squash.  And beer.  Still very good, mind you.  But everywhere else around the country, Americans were most assuredly doing what we normally do, and that is to flambé our meats with a World War II era flamethrower.  Because freedom.

After the sun went down we all gathered in the cul de sac with the rest of the neighbors to begin the fireworks displays.  Several households contributed to the accumulated pile of flashy and festive explosive materials.  This is despite the fact that a package of fireworks today costs approximately somewhere in the neighborhood of ***checks calculator*** about $15,487.  Or roughly the equivalent of purchasing a small car, a semester of university tuition, or three Starbucks frappuccinos. 

But this exorbitant cost of fireworks did not deter Americans from getting their freedom on!  Quite the opposite actually.  There were so many fireworks popping off for so long, it honestly sounded like a warzone.  I wonder if that this year, each American family probably spent close to half a billion dollars, or about the cost of a small house in San Francisco, on fireworks.  There were the usual fireworks flashing in the night sky, in addition to what I’m sure was tracer fire from anti-aircraft flak guns, .50 caliber machine guns, and a surface-to-air missile or three.

The booms, bangs, whizzing sounds, small explosions, and sirens lasted most of the night.  It reminded me of that grainy, night vision footage of Baghdad during the Gulf War when the allied coalition began airstrikes on the city.  It was pretty obvious that with everything going on in the world, especially in this country with the Coronavirus, it didn’t stop people from celebrating Independence Day.  In fact, it seemed to have the opposite effect.  More and more people than before came out to enjoy the holiday and celebrate with friends and family.  It was as if Americans were even more encouraged to celebrate, as if in their own way to symbolically and defiantly do battle against this unseen enemy that currently plagues the world.

Americans came out in droves, and by firing enough explosives and weaponry into the air to defend London during the Blitz, was their method of saying, “We are not afraid!  We will win!”  It is definitely an American trait.  To stare danger and adversity right in the face without backing down, to look a threatening enemy in the eye and kick it right in its dangly bits.  During this year’s Independence Day celebrations, it seemed Americans did just that in order to do battle against the Coronavirus, and against the fear and uncertainty in life it brings.

I just hope it doesn’t have any adverse effects.  Doing battle against an enemy that threatens and attacks you still requires a strategic plan.  That’s why armies have generals.  In order for America, and the rest of the world to win this battle, we all have to be smart about this.  I’m not saying that people setting off fireworks and Civil War era cannons weren’t being smart.  I’m saying that when we are staring this enemy in the face, we should remember to be smart, be safe, and also be considerate of our fellow humans.

I have no doubt that despite everything, we as a people will win this battle.  We will get through this.  We will prevail.  And after that battle is finally won and we can all move forward with our lives, Americans can move on to the next important battle that we have been fighting for at least a hundred years.

And that is the battle against people who drive slow in the fast lane.

Grocery Shopping In The Apocalypse

Me in a fully stocked grocery store, wearing what is presumably a giraffe patterned camouflage mask.

I went to the grocery store last night to gather the usual apocalypse supplies of almond flour, coconut flour, apple cider vinegar, and jalapeno-flavored pork rinds.  As one does.  What am I making with that stuff?  I could be making Keto bread rolls.  I could be recreating a type of industrial-strength spackle used by the Ancient Egyptian pyramid builders.  It could be for an extra gooey plastic explosive that Macgyver would make: just add duct tape, Twinkies, and bubble gum.  You don’t know.  It’s a mystery!

(It’s Keto bread rolls).

At the store I noticed how much calmer, more serene, and less crowded it was compared to three months ago.  When the lockdowns and quarantines began, I remember the grocery stores were packed with people.  People who were rabidly and furiously panic buying mass quantities of different products like roles of bunghole wadding, toilet brushes, and pork chops.

While grocery shopping last night, the atmosphere at the store was more orderly and socially-distanced than the chaos of that earlier age (three months ago).  The store had installed those plastic sneeze shields at the registers, all of the employees and most of the other customers wore masks, and there was no longer a Roman style bath house in the produce section.  Actually, I’m kidding.  The communal bath house was still there.  You just had to book an appointment instead of cannon-balling in.  Safety first!  

There were even signs reminding people not to lick the shopping cart handles before leaving.

One particular thing I grew curious about was the rice and toilet paper aisels.  In March and April this grocery store, and all of them around the world, were consistently devoid of these things.  As you can see from the picture below, the rice and toilet paper have returned to their natural habitats.  Isn’t it interesting what happens when people stop hoarding and panic buying rolls of excrement exfoliators?

Rice and toilet paper in their natural habitats.

However, the grocery store being less crowded and more orderly doesn’t mean that everything is A-okay.  There’s still a lot of danger going on in this world, so I thought I would write a few helpful tips on how you can survive your next journey to the epicenter of caloric commodity consumption:  The Grocery Store!

Arrival and Scouting:

When you first pull into the grocery store parking lot, don’t just rush into the building.  That’s an amateur move.  First, you need to properly scout the perimeter to check for any ambushes, booby traps, survey takers, and The Predator.  I recommend getting yourself some infrared goggles.  They work the best.

Proper Cart Selection and Sanitization:

Choosing the best shopping cart for your supply run of Doritos and beer is crucial.  You’ll want a shopping cart that comes pre-equipped with a battering ram and retractable wheel spikes.  They do exist.  You just have to check the back of the cart row.  Some grocery stores may also have a shopping cart that has a mount for a .50 caliber machine gun.  You know…in case of zombies.  Sadly though, you’ll have to bring your own machine gun.  Also, don’t forget to bring a spray bottle of hand sanitizer to spritz the handles of the cart, because as we all know, people lick those things!  Safety first.

Stick to the List:

Write a shopping list and adhere to it.  The more time you spend in the store, the more dangerous it can become for you.  You may encounter a wandering pack of toilet paper hoarders.  Or you may succumb to the delights of the free sample section at the bakery the way a sailor succumbs to the siren’s song, thereby remaining trapped in the grocery store for eternity.  Or worse yet, you may fall victim to hungry impulse buying and acquire twenty five bags of Chips Ahoy, a pallet of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and an apple (because health).  So stick to your list!  And we all know that making a shopping list and adhering to it can save money.

Be A Mad Max Road Warrior In The Aisles:

Use the battering ram that’s fastened to the front of your shopping cart (mentioned above), and treat each of the grocery store’s aisles like a gauntlet of dangers.  Because it is.  In between the frozen pizzas and discount lawn chairs are lanes with pit traps full of vipers, roving bands of mutated, post-apocalyptic marauders adorned in spiked, football shoulder pads, and those people that leave their carts perpendicular in the aisles, knowingly impeding everyone else’s shopping experience because they can’t decide which brand of coffee filters to buy.  Your battering ram will plow those people out of the way quite nicely.  

The Barter And Currency Exchange:

Once you’ve successfully filled your armored push trolley with the goods and foodstuffs that will get you through your next game night or tupperware party, you must approach the checkout station to pay for your goods with the checkout guardian.  It’s good to call ahead of time to see if your grocery store accepts bartering in place of cash.  If not, then you won’t have to bring a crate of live chickens and a coconut to trade with if you don’t have to.  Whether you’re bartering or paying for your groceries with the local currency, remember to treat the checkout person with the utmost respect.  They deal with all manner of self-entitled jerks every day, and they are also the last gatekeeper you must pass by if you want to escape back into the wastelands of suburbia. Kindness and respect will get you far with people.  Especially with the checkout guardians.  Otherwise they might pull out a rocket launcher.

I hope you enjoyed reading my silly little guide above, and can get some advice and insight from it.  In all seriousness with the times we’re in, be safe and healthy, and also be considerate of everyone around you at the grocery store.  That means wear your mask, don’t overbuy products that other people also need by sticking to your shopping list, and treat your fellow shoppers, and especially the store employees, with kindness and respect.  This may be the new normal for now, but it won’t last forever.  How long this all lasts is up to everyone and how we all behave.  But eventually, humanity will prevail over this pandemic.

And then we can return to the great things we used to do before the self-isolation and quarantines began: Playing eleven straight hours of video games, binge-watching Netflix shows, and stuffing our faces with glorious junk food and tacos.