Friend a Day – Erin Kasper
Erin and I have been around the Renaissance Festival for a long time and as a performer, I can’t tell you how valuable I think she is to the cast.
Over the years, she has been one of those people who sees a need and steps in to fill it. She doesn’t do it because she wants attention. She does it because she thinks that it is important.
When we needed an Entertainment director, she did it because someone needed to. When the Children’s realm was without leadership, she stepped in to take it over. When nobody was making sure the years of service awards were happening, she stepped up and did that.
Most of what she does is not audience facing work. That makes it all the more valuable because she makes it easier for the entertainers to entertain.
She’s also one of the best one on one street performers I know.
About ten years ago, there was a cold, rainy day at the festival. There were hardly any audience members and I remember looking at Erin and saying that there was probably one audience member for every entertainer. The two of us decided to adopt a couple for the day and proceeded to walk them around the festival for about three hours.
It was one of those entertainment moments nobody sees or talks about but for those two people, it was extraordinary. Erin gives people those extraordinary experiences all the time.
Erin is one of those people who works really hard and then plays just as hard. I’ve had great times with her juggling torches around a bonfire at Omegacon, playing black light mini-golf at CONvergence, and laughing at dinner after long, hot weekends.
Being around Erin reminds me that some things are important and they won’t get done if you complain that nobody is doing them. Sometimes you just have to do it yourself.
Erin is a great person. I’m so glad that she’s a friend.
Friend a Day – Lolly Foy
I’ve don’t remember when I met Lolly. We’ve both floated around the Renaissance festival circuit for a long time so it’s hard to pin down when we became acquainted.
I don’t want to say she was my favorite queen at the Minnesota Festival because I’ve liked them all for differing reasons. I will say that I has as much fun with her as queen as I’ve had with any other actress in the role.
Most performers at the festival fall into a particular class of character. I’ve always played a lower class character because that is what I enjoy. Lolly has played royalty and peasantry with equal skill and that makes her an impressive rarity.
Her range is really remarkable. She’s played the queen, she’s been part of successful music groups, she’s worked on the street, she’s written music, and I understand she’s even acted on the “legitimate” stage! I don’t think she’s been a juggler but maybe that is a skill she keeps hidden.
Lolly has done some acting in a couple of my shows and I really appreciate her natural instincts for a role. As a director, I really appreciate performers who get the material right away. It means they are going to do a great job when they are on stage.
She is loud and cheerful and a great person to sit with at dinner.
She’s also very encouraging of the work of others. When she believes you are doing something of merit, she’ll tell you in ways that help you understand what it is you are doing well. So you can do it better.
I see a lot of Lolly in her two girls. They are both outgoing and energetic and show a kind of passion for life that their mother has in abundance.
In fact, she’s passionate about everything. She throws herself into everything she does and that makes everything she does that much more impressive.
The Renaissance Festival has brought a lot of people into my life whom I would have otherwise never met. I’m so glad that Lolly is one of those people.
She doesn’t have a blog and she isn’t in a show right now so I can’t link to anything. Go see the next show she’s in!
Friend a Day – Mark Lazarchic
Mark loves to argue. He will argue with just about anyone about just about anything. He’ll argue for things he’s against and he’ll argue against things he’s for. Quite frequently, he and I don’t agree.
What makes him the best of people is the fact he can argue with your opinion and disagree with your opinion in the strongest possible terms without ever arguing against you. I’ve had lots of arguments with Mark and we are still friends because we understand that the disagreements are never personal. We are both passionate.
Mark can seem very hard. You have to know him for a long time to really recognize that the hard exterior hides a caring person. Then you begin to understand how much he loves his wife. How much he loves his kids. How much he loves Beethoven.
He is one of the hardest workers you will ever meet. He starts businesses about as frequently as the rest of us celebrate birthdays. He is relentless. He never stops. He never slows down. I would imagine that he won’t even sleep when he’s dead.
It is so easy to argue with Mark and to disagree with him that I fail to make sure he knows how much I admire him. I admire his passion and his focus. I admire the way he is unwilling to be involved in anything that is even one tiny bit worse than perfect. I admire the way he spent hours, days, weeks and months with a daughter who had cancer.
You could say any father would have done the same but the truth is no, not any father would do that. Just the exceptional ones.
His sense of humor is bawdy and loud and his laugh is infectious. When you sit down with him around the fire, you can’t be in a bad mood for long.
As remarkable as the things he has accomplished in his life are the ideas he’s had that never were. He is filled with ideas and never stops coming up with more. He can’t do it all and I think he takes that as a sort of personal insult.
Mark is a hard man sometimes. But that is only the surface. I’m glad that I’ve known him long enough to know the man underneath. It was absolutely worth the challenge.
Mark is a busy guy but he blogs occasionally at Pick Mark’s Brain, where you can find links to his many businesses. I encourage you to use them all. He deserves your patronage.
Friend a Day – Deb Shoenack
I’m proud to be Deb’s friend because her friendship is something that is earned. She doesn’t just hand it out to everyone.
If Deb calls you her friend, you need to have done something pretty special.
I met Deb when we were both part of the band for a dancing troupe at the Renaissance Festival. She played drums with us a few times every day and ran a shop filled with a whole lot of beautiful feather art that never sold and a little bit of horrible stuff that sold all the time. It takes a special kind of artist to be aware that your best work is the work that nobody is ever going to buy.
She would tell long stories about her customers and her life. They were great stories. They were funny stories. They were the kind of stories nobody but Deb could have ever told.
If you get a chance to talk to Deb, ask her about the Ethiopian yak’s tooth necklace.
Deb treated entertainers like equals. She welcomed us into her shop and encouraged us to entrain the audience in front of her door. She made us feel like we were all part of the same show. She was the kind of crafter entertainers gravitated towards.
As many people do, she grew tired of the festival and migrated away. When I walk by the corner of the grounds that used to house her shop, I will always feel a sense of loss.
Deb has a gruff and cynical exterior and I won’t say she isn’t gruff and cynical because I think she’d be insulted if I did. She is gruff and cynical. But she is also kind and funny and fiercely loyal to anyone who has earned it.
She loves her family and is constantly showing pride in them. She embraces the title “Jew Bitch” like it was her given name.
I’m not a big fan of drum circles any more. If Deb was in the circle, though, I’d join in because I wouldn’t want to let her down.
Deb doesn’t have a web page but she is passionately opposed to wolf hunting in Minnesota so I’m linking to Howling for Wolves.
Friend a Day – Windy Bowlsby
I’ve known Windy more than half my life, I think. We met at the Renaissance Festival, helped form CONvergence, and have recently done a lot of theatrical collaborations. She is brash and self confident and filled with nearly limitless energy.
Windy and I are very similar and that means we’ve had some epic arguments over the years. It is a testament to our friendship that we have consistently managed to remain friends in spite of those arguments. Because I’m not kidding – they have been epic.
She is someone who is tenacious and will fight with all her might to achieve that which she has set out to do. Be it teaching, roller derby, dancing, singing, costuming, or being a mom, she doesn’t do things halfway. She jumps in with both feet and dares the cosmos to make her fail.
If you know Windy, you know that the cosmos would run and cower in the corner rather than cross her.
Her passion for life and for the things she does are always fun to watch. She’ll drag others along by sheer force of will. I’ve seen her come up with some crazy ideas and my typical response is “if anyone can make this happen, Windy can.”
And you know what? She always makes it happen.
If she’s afraid of failure, she never lets it show. Instead, she will focus her considerable talents on figuring out a way to get it done. If she does fail, she will never fail the same way again.
She also does an amazing Captain Kirk impression. I’m pretty sure Shatner himself would be impressed.
I’m pleased to have been able to call Windy a friend for so many years.
Windy doesn’t have a blog but you should definitely follow her on Twitter and listen to her podcast, Xanadu Cinema Pleasure Dome.
New Vilification Tennis Podcast
We got a little bit behind on podcasting for Vilification Tennis during the festival season but this weekend I managed to get some folks together to record a new episode.
I managed to get Mark Lazarchic and Bob Alberti to start arguing politics. Unfortunately, I had to cut them off after about ten minutes but I think the podcast is worth listening to just for that. There’s also a lot of talk about a lesbian in Hong Kong because that’s the kind of podcast we do.
We also get really in-depth talking about the Renaissance Festival, including a lot of behind the scenes stuff. I think it turned out to be a good episode in spite of the worst home game rounds ever.