A Mirror into Ken's Past -- 1991

This year started off about like usual. Nothing really stands out in my memory of the early part of the year, except for the Disneyland Trip. We drove down like we had the year before but this time we added David (SCA: David Waxthorne), who was hanging out with us a lot. On Sunday we ended up not just driving back, but having breakfast at a jewish deli with David's very Jewish family. We then went to a museum (The Huntington?) and saw some really incredible paintings (ones you always see in books of artwork), which made Carolyn really happy. Then we drove back. That was a really good Disneyland trip. (Our usual M.O. was to drive down on Friday, do Disneyland on Saturday all day, then drive back on Sunday.)

Somewhere in here, and I really don't remember exactly where (although I know some of the details, they're not important here), Carolyn and Kay had a falling out. Kay ended up marrying someone in the South Bay (San Jose area), and moved out of the apartment.

I was getting in to the Bulletin Board method of electronic communication, had gotten a modem in my computer at home, and was using a modem at work to talk to folk on the Ashton-Tate Bulletin Board System. I was quickly becoming one of the folk who had some answers about dBASE, which has sort of led me to where I am currently (in November, 2001, when I am writing this).

I had found an SCA-related Bulletin Board System based in the south bay area which had some plays on it by a gentleman who's SCA name was Goldwyn of Britain. These were SCA-based plays, two of them were Commedias (Commedia dell'Arte). I thought they were pretty funny. I downloaded and printed them off.

In late April the SCA in Northern California had a 25th Year Celebration that was a week long event. I couldn't take a week off of work at that point (not enough vacation) and neither could Jeff. Carolyn and Valerie and some others in our household could, so they spent the week there. Jeff and I drove up for both weekends. On the way there and back I read Jeff the scripts I had downloaded. There were a couple of places we nearly drove off the road laughing. In the back of my head an idea was forming, but it wasn't quite ready yet ...

Jeff and Carolyn and I had been going to events together with sometimes Valerie and/or Heather, and/or Theresa as domus entropius. For this one we had a sunshade that Carolyn had sewn, and we had stencilled it with "de" all over it. Our arrangements for getting to events were that I would drive Carolyn's truck with Carolyn as passenger, and Jeff would drive by himself. For this event I think what we did was just that, but Jeff and I drove back in his car on the first weekend, and back up on the second, and I drove the truck on the way home.

On the second weekend of this Beltane event my Alaskan household "Quid Non", who had been there all week, held a really nice dinner for about 50 or so people. Carolyn, Jeff and I were invited. Kylson let himself be talked into letting a group of performers do a variety show for us. It was AWFUL. I felt really sorry for the folk doing it because most of them had very little talent, and it was not well rehearsed. We had dinner and put up with this show for nearly two hours before Kylson politely, and with very good political skill, asked them if we could have the bardic circle that he wanted, as it would be the last one Quid Non had in the central part of the Kingdom for awhile. He handled it so well that they went away without any serious ego issues. Everyone was relieved.

That idea that was forming in the back of my head popped out at this point, and toward the end of the performances, I turned to Jeff and Carolyn and said "We can do better than this!" After the event I contacted Goldwyn and he gave me permission to put on his plays with the only royalties required being a video tape of each show if we could get one.

That event was a weird one for Carolyn and I. I started backing off again. I am not sure why at this point. I mean, we'd been dancing around each other and dating/not-dating for over a year. It was pretty silly in hindsight. She was so stressed out that she started smoking again.

As you can see, my non-SCA life wasn't all that exciting in here.

SCA -- The Beginnings of The Golden Stag Players
At June Crown that year I posted signs everywhere and held auditions for the first two of Goldwyn's plays. I had a decent turnout and except for one screwup (on my part) that almost ended up with not casting someone who's become vital to the troupe over the years, the Golden Stag Players were borne. I started rehearsals a couple of months later in my apartment in Berkeley. One of the folk who was in the first few plays, Stacey Casper (SCA: Anastacia of Warwick) was a student at the University in Berkeley, and got us a room there for rehearsal which was nice as it had more room than my apartment's living room. We were able to walk there from my apartment.

I am not sure exactly when or what changed, but Carolyn and I had started to settle into a real relationship, although I think she was a bit dubious for awhile, after the way things had gone to this point.

I can't remember much else about this summer -- most of my focus was on the Players, and trying to start an acting troupe. I really only intended to do the plays that Goldwyn had written. I surely didn't expect that 11+ years later, we'd be going stronger than ever.

More details about the Golden Stag Players can be found at this website: http://www.goldenstag.net/players

I was also very active with the heralds in the SCA at this time. I had stopped being the Seawolf Herald, but was doing other things. I was the deputy for the current Kingdom herald, which meant getting to meetings every month, and so on.


The Golden Stag Players started rehearsals in late August/early September and we did our first performance at October Crown -- our only outdoor performance. It was a bit rough, but the material was good, and everyone put in a lot of work. Two of my actors, Tim Converse (SCA: Juan Santiago) and Laurie Hupman (SCA: Rose de Le Mans) started dating. I'm not claiming that we were completely responsible for these two getting together, but we had a hand in it, even if it was by accident. Jeff wasn't in the first show, but he helped out, we got him on stage later.

I had been busy all weekend filling in for the person who was the head-honcho herald for the Kingdom (who couldn't make it to the event), and was told the King wanted to specifically talk to me about the job I'd done that weekend. I was nervous, as I figured I must have screwed up somehow (why else would they need to talk to me?). I came over and knelt before the King and Queen (this was Phillip Harlech of Exeter -- remember the guy who loaned me his guitar for a year?, and Linda of the Lakelands). I was then asked if I would join the Order of the Pelican (in the SCA, this is the highest recognition you can achieve for service to the organization -- equivalent to the Laurel which I was already a member of, and equivalent to Knighthood, something I'll never attain as I don't fight in the SCA). I collapsed at the King's feet. I was shocked, stunned ... when I could talk again, I said "Yes".

At some point Carolyn and Jeff had started talking about renting a house or apartment together. I was starting to feel better about the relationship with Carolyn, and offered to be a "third".

We started looking. We found an ad in the paper for a house in El Cerrito that was for rent, about a week (or less) before the big fire in the Oakland hills. The day we signed the paperwork the fire was raging. It was very strange.

We moved into the house, consolodating everything from three people's lives into a four bedroom house, with a garage, a den (which we used as the living room), a HUGE living room (which we hardly used). The rent was good and it was a decent house. The location was great -- quiet ... we could take the bus to get to BART (although eventually we gave up on the bus). We had an incredible view of the San Francisco Bay from there.

The next play the Golden Stag Players did (another of Goldwyn's) we rehearsed in the living room space. It was great ...

Email was becoming more common via the internet, I was still providing support on the Ashton-Tate BBS (as well as getting help from there), and so on. In the software world, Borland, International had merged with (read: bought) Ashton-Tate. This meant that they now owned dBASE. The BBS was still being called the ATBBS, but it was run by Borland now.

One day I got an email from one of the Tech Support engineers at Borland and asked if I wanted to join a technical support volunteer team called "TeamB" (for "Team Borland"). I thought about it, weighed the benefits against the work, and decided I could do that. A short while later Borland had all of the TeamB members come out to Scotts Valley where they were, for an annual conference. Since dBASE was still new to them, there were only three of us, two of whom left shortly after (one had JUST gotten a job at Microsoft, since they were a competing company to Borland, he had to leave, the other got a job AT Borland ...).

Being on TeamB gave me an ego-boost -- I felt like in the industry I was "somebody". I like to think that in my years on TeamB I made some contributions that will be remembered.

Sometime after our first performance, and after we had moved into the house in El Cerrito, Tim and Laurie came to Carolyn and I and asked if they could be our apprentices (students in the SCA). Both Carolyn and I were Laurels (hers for needlework and calligraphy, mine for jewelry). After some thought and discussion, and telling them it wasn't going to be the "fast track" (it wasn't, either!), we accepted them as our apprentices. They became good friends in the process of this.

Carolyn Eaton -- Carolyn (CJ) and I became "an item", and it was fairly serious. I didn't realize how serious until awhile later. We were living together by the end of the year in the house in El Cerrito.

Jeff Boylan -- Still my best friend, and by the end of the year, a roommate. I started teaching him some of what you could do with dBASE, and all that.

Tim Converse and Laurie Hupman -- Tim and Laurie are two of the core people in the Golden Stag Players, and they're some of of the driving forces to this day. They both became good friends of ours, and remain so now. As noted above they met in the GSP, and started dating after that. They MIGHT have eventually met without the players, but I like to think we were indirectly responsible for their getting together.

Don and BJ Gerth -- BJ has been Carolyn's best friend for years and years. She and Don (SCA names: Don is Garth of Windhaven and BJ is Tatiana Nikolaevna Tumanova) are really wonderful people, and I've gotten to be pretty close to them as well. We love hanging with them. The one thing we can't do is talk mundane politics -- they're republicans, Carolyn is a democrat, and I'm not affiliated with any part, but have democrat tendencies. Oh well. They're great people, fun to talk with, hang out with, do things with ...

Others include members of the Golden Stag Players and a variety of other folk. It's quite important to note that members of the GSP have become very good friends over the years, especially some of the folk who've been around the whole life of the troupe. It's hard to name everyone, so I think at this point I will just leave it to the narrative ...

There are photos of a bunch of this (Golden Stag Players, Carolyn and I, and more) at the History of the West Kingdom website: http://history.westkingdom.org -- to find photos of individuals you can go to the "Who's Who" section, and use SCA names (that site doesn't use real-world names) ...

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