Thursday, May 24, 2012

Travel Prep and Rat Pucking

This afternoon's study break (because even super geniuses need to think about something else after eight straight hours of reading academic articles) was spent getting things together and making a final packing list before I am off to my first field research site next weekend. My garb is all washed and ready to go. The tent is in the basement, bit will not be put in the car until the day before I leave because the trunk leaks. I purchased my season pass to this faire online earlier this week. And after a minor shopping trip for things like batteries for my digital recorder and bottled water for the camp-out portion of this expedition, I should be ready to go.

I'm pretty excited. Opening weekend of this faire is marks the beginning of the season for many people in this region of the country. It is traditionally a kind of reunion for the pirates I have fallen in with. We will be getting a large group together at a state park campground at a lake near the faire site. Research-wise, it's an opportunity to observe ren faire people together, but outside the faire environment itself. But personally, I also think it promises to be a great deal of fun. But it's okay, these pirates are used to seeing me scribbling in a notebook by now.

Rat Pucking, 2011
Yes, that red blur flying through the air is in fact a pucked rat. 
As a small preview, this photo is from this particular faire last year. It's a game, a sport really, called "rat pucking" (pronounce your Ps), in which a long stuck is used to chuck...er, puck a bean bag rat down the length of the main street through the village. There are rules about hotting obstacles or patrons, and a limit on the number of strokes one gets before they're out. Each pucker chooses a "catty" (like caddy but with mice) who runs after and guards their rat from other players (and occasionally mischievous children). Distance counts; and there is a bucket of some kind the rat has to land in at the end. As far as I can tell, this game is unique to this culture, perhaps even to this faire (I will have to ask someone about that). There are norms of play, and what goes on among the audience (non-players) during the game. And I look forward to studying this and other colorful experiences in a little more than a week from today.

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