April 11, 2014 by phicks2012
As I’ve said before, I am the Chronicler for my SCA Shire, and produce their monthly newsletter, The Equinox — but what I probably haven’t made clear is just how incredibly LONG I’ve held this particular office, or how I got it in the first place.
In May of 1988 — yes, that far back — a meeting was held to see if there was enough interest locally to form an SCA group, and because that level of interest did exist those present at that first meeting were called upon to select officers for the hopeful little group that is today the Shire of Sol Haven. One of those officers was thought to be the Chronicler — though, actually, that would not have been a required office — and when that position came up for discussion everyone simply turned to me and said (basically) “Tag! You’re It!”
I have no illusions that they thought of me as a mega-talented super-journalist, but the fact was that I was the only person present — and having a pulse — with ANY experience at ALL producing a newsletter of ANY sort. The thing is though, that the “newsletter” I’d been producing for two years — using my Apple IIe computer (which boasted all of 128K AFTER the upgrade) and a little program by Springboard called “Newsroom” — was more like an early incarnation of “The Onion” than an example of any reputable news publication, and so it never required any serious journalist effort. I mean, let’s face it, I’d done my research by perusing copies of “The Weekly World News” in grocery store checkout lines and taking notes whenever anyone in our extended circle of friends did anything foolish (a fertile field), and the newsletter I produced made fun of both the tabloids and of literally everyone in that circle of friends.
We had a headline reading “Giant Worm Devours Downtown Lithonia”(and the monster’s origin was traced back to a giant tequila bottle left over from a friend’s party). We also had a Pepsi Vampire (and grapics showing Pepsi bottles with fang-marks on the necks), a sky-diving cat, and headlines like “Puberty Strikes Chris Abbott” (Sorry, Chris!). So, when they picked me to be Chronicler, I said “You’ve got to be kidding! You expect me to produce a serious newsletter!! Good Luck!”
Nevertheless, they insisted, and I’ve been doing the job ever since. Make that almost 26 YEARS now, and that is truly frightening, even as a concept! Mostly The Equinox does conform to the expected norms and parameters, at least for 11 months out of the year, but the deal was that once a year (in April) I was allowed (within reason) to let my rather bizarre creative impulses run rampant and to release an April Fool’s issue. This issue traditionally includes (besides numerous disclaimers) fake ads, bogus period recipes (like the Ygge mhic Muffyn), Event Flyers for nonexistent events (like Collegium Ad Nauseaum), sham news articles, fabricated advice columns, mock coupons, announcements of bogus awards, and even a centerfold. It’s 50% larger than the usual issues — which already average an improbable 44 pages — and great care is taken to poke fun at everyone who is A) entertaining B) has a sense of humor, and/or C) is active enough locally to catch our collective eye.
It’s much easier to stick to the straight and narrow for most of the year if you know that you can eventually look forward to producing something that’s very simply done for fun, and the humor is surprisingly easy to come by when you are surrounded by naturally funny people who are willing to tell on themselves knowing full well that their annecdotes, verbal blunders, and missteps are going to wind up celebrated in print.
This being April, the April 2014 Equinox (issue #298) is now released upon the Known World! To all of my SCA Shire friends who have not yet seen it….Duck and Cover! Love you. Mean it!