The Village Times
Our local newspaper and blog spot
"Many years ago when I first met Karen at FenCon, I was still a very wet-behind-the-ears author and filker, with only one book and one CD to my name to consign to her. Being so new-come to the world of conventions, I did not have the background to appreciate what I had set out before me in the form of Sablewood Village.
"A few years, a few cons, a few books, a few CDs, a few miles (and a few pounds) more under my belt, I returned to Texas for FenCon 2011 -- this time, better prepared to take in all that the convention had to offer. There were all the expected makings of a convention: literary panels, filk concerts, workshops on costuming and gaming, acquaintances from past cons and past years.
"The point which struck me about Sablewood Village after having been away for so many years was its business model. What Karen White has created (recreated?) in the form of Sablewood Village is fandom's version of the olden-times store on the village square: a place where many artisans and merchants could come together to peddle the wares they had put so much of themselves into, but otherwise had no way to advertise and distribute to potential end-users. Karen gets to know every one of the items she makes available through Sablewood Village, giving her the ability to provide any shopper at her booth with a pinpoint-accurate guide to which wares they will most appreciate. The customer walks away happy; the artisan has made a sale; the shopkeeper has the pride of having brought two parties together for mutual life betterment.
"Next time you're at a Texas-area convention, check to see if Sablewood Village is in the dealer's room. If so, take the time to talk with Karen. It's an experience of which you'll be glad you availed yourself."
- Danny Birt - author, performer
Thank you, Danny, for being an ardent supporter of Sablewood Village!
May 1, 2011
Hello, and welcome to May!
At lot has been happening in the world lately. Revolts, earthquakes, tsunamis, wars, tornados, phenomenal snowfalls, births, deaths, royal marriages, and British hats that leave us gaping in something akin to horror. Seriously. So, while I offer my condolences to all, and my help to those I can reach, I am going to dedicate this digital entry to a moment that pleased me, encouraged me, and warmed my heart beyond measure.
I'm speaking of Grace van Cutsem, the darling little 3-year-old bridesmaid who roared onto the world stage the other day, not by doing anything spectacular or particularly ingenious, but simply by being herself at a moment she had no idea was being witnessed by the world at large.
On the balcony of Buckingham Palace, while the grown-ups were doing their grown-up things, Grace was conscious only of the great noise everyone was making. She made a displeased face at it all, and put her hands to her ears. She'd simply had enough, and it didn't matter who saw.
If you've never seen the old Art Linkletter show "Kids Say the Darndest Things," you owe it to yourself to watch a few episodes, and remember what life was like before car payments and mortgages, when your biggest worry was what vegetable you'd have to eat before being allowed dessert. I challenge you to spend 10 minutes each day this week, to again be that innocent child you once were. Then visit Sablewood Village on Facebook and let us know what your favorite memories are.
Thank you, Grace, for reminding us of how lovely it is to hold onto a bit of innocence in our hearts.
December 13, 2010
One of the best things about being 'mayor' of Sablewood Village is being able to enjoy others' successes, sometimes all at the same time.
First, the Bilge Pumps had a release party Saturday night for their latest CD, "A Pirate's Christmas Wish." That's right-- pirates singing really warped versions of your traditional holiday favorites. And here's what made it great-- they bring ALL their friends to these little soirees.
Michael O'Quinn opened the show, playing and singing not only the sing-along favorites and fun drinking songs, but also a few lesser known treats that really expand your musical horizons. Case in point: Michael sang "Northwest Passage" a capella, and I couldn't help but sing the harmony at my table. Michael told us after his set was done that as he looked out on the room, we were the only ones who seemed to know the lyrics. Okay, that was my guilty little gotcha-- I was kinda proud of myself for that one.
After Michael came the crew of the Pride O' Bedlam ('nuther singing pirate group, go figure) from Texas Renaissance Festival. There was a lot of foot stomping and "YARRRRRR" yelling to Bones' guitar and Minion's awesome drumwork, and it was all great fun. Go visit their Facebook page and give them a 'Like.'
Finally it was time for the Bilge Pumps to take the stage, and we got to hear and see some truly amazing perspectives on holiday music! And just because it's a Bilge Pumps show, there's lots of audience participation-- from pulling audience members up to do silly dances, to pulling all the performers on stage at once for "Riding On A Donkey," it was just hysterically funny. We were laughing till we ached, and that's what I call a success.
Sunday was a different kind of fun. Dave Ruffin (a.k.a. Harvey the Corpsman of The Bilge Pumps) is also a rather talented actor and director, and we drove to Ft. Worth to see his current production The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society's Production of "A Christmas Carol." Yeah, read that aloud five times, very quickly. I love this kind of performance (the play, not the reading aloud) because it delights with a very special kind of slapstick comedy-- the kind where people don't realize how funny they're being simply because they're trying to be normal and serious (not unlike you, reading aloud just now). Wonderful audience participation, hilarious sight gags, and always that lovely pride we feel for people who persevere in spite of themselves. Our vote is-- 3 thumbs up!
May 21, 2010
There's an awful lot of days when, despite your best efforts, things don't Go As Planned. I phrase it this way because that's what most of adult life devolves into-- an endless cyclic string of Plans Made, followed up by hopeful Plan Execution, somewhat annoyed Herding the Escapees, the alarmed Boat Bailing, the inevitable Cutting One's Losses, sullen Beer Drinking and Finger Pointing, resulting in more Plans Made. Learn about this cycle early on, children, and you might grow up to be one of those who gets to Watch, Point, and Laugh.
I explain this to illustrate the vast difference when things *do* Go As Planned.
One of the core ideas behind Sablewood Village is the notion that, by helping others, we help ourselves-- that whole networking thing-- and so I find it extremely cool when all the pieces click together in just the right way, at just the right time. In this case, it started with a phone call one Saturday morning.
The woman on the other end of the line introduced herself, told me about an event that would be happening in Dallas that was essentially selling Ireland to the local travel agents, and could I possibly connect her with artisans who could demonstrate traditional Irish crafts? Needless to say, I happily passed the information to the people I felt best fit the bill. I then received an email from this woman, who was very pleased with this small service I'd provided her, and promised to let people in her circle know about my website. No, it doesn't sound like a lot, but success is measured in more ways than just accumulating little green slips of paper.
Yeah, I really like it when things Go As Planned.
April 27, 2010
Spent this past weekend at Conestoga, in Tulsa, OK, and got to rub elbows with Capt'n Black's Sea Dogges, Queen's Gambit, and artist Peter Bradley, among others. Of course, you miss a lot when you're manning a table in the Dealers Room, but then again, that's not always a bad thing. It gives you time to think, to philosophize (is that a word?), and formulate theories that will never see the light of day (also, not always a bad thing).
Myth busting is one of those topics that fell victim to this tortuous use of brain cells on this occasion. The myth in question: fan boys (& girls) fear contact with soap.
Now, normally, most rational people wouldn't expend the energy to rub two brain cells together on this subject, but this was happening in a Dealers Room, so humor me. After witnessing a marked degradation in some attendees' appearance and aroma over the course of three days, I, being a resourceful individual, hypothesized that, A) a cataclysmic failure had occurred in the hotel's plumbing, affecting only certain guest room showers, B) an alien invasion was underway, because no Terran creature could possibly smell that bad, or C), the poor souls were deathly allergic to soap. Like I said-- humor me. It's not like I'm trying to publish a thesis here.
As a Public Service Announcement, let me share this thought with you. That's right, you know who you are. If you decide to go to a convention or otherwise close-quarters event, great! Have fun! But for crying out loud, BATHE. Little soap bars are even provided with the hotel room, and contrary to any stories you may have heard or invented, your skin won't boil away, trust me on this. Your friends, who told you that non-stop gaming all weekend without visiting your shower was a badge of honor, they LIED TO YOU. Care to guess what kind of impression you made on that media guest you cornered for an autograph? And one more thing: that hot chick you were trying to impress? Oh yeah, you floored her all right. She should regain consciousness any day.
So, until this little PSA sinks in for the you-know-who-you-are folks, I suppose I have no choice but to vote for the alien invasion hypothesis. There. I feel better already.
April 14, 2010
Hello, and welcome to the inaugural edition of The Village Times! (I considered calling it "The Village Voice," but I'm told that's already taken)
To get the ball rolling, I'm going to use the initial entries to share with you a few stories that have encouraged us, and let us know we're having a somewhat greater effect on the world than we usually know.
A while back I started carrying costume hats made by a friend, Sharon Sullivan. Sharon is one of those folks who just positively drips with creative talent, but her chosen outlet was to make hats for the cast of our local renaissance faire, so I had to convince her that her work needed to be seen outside of that narrow niche. Poke, prod, poke, prod, and she finally agreed. One of those hats was a sleek little thing called a Biretta-- you'll typically see one on the head of a clergyman reenactor. Not long after I created the listing, I received an order for one from a fellow in Germany. I was thrilled! Sharon was ecstatic! She made the Biretta, I shipped it, everyone was happy, and the world was good.
Time went by as it is prone to do, and one day I received an email from that same fellow in Germany, who reminded me of his purchase. As it turned out, he collects clergy headwear, and had recently published a book with tons of color pictures of his hats, and... he included that sleek little Biretta on page 84. Now, maybe it was hearing about that email after a bad day, maybe it was the publishing aspect, or maybe it was just knowing her creation was getting attention on another continent, but what I saw in Sharon afterward was a maturing confidence in her craft that is now bearing some remarkable fruit.
Isn't it amazing what a little encouragement can do?
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