Folsom Renaissance Faire review 2011

The last Renaissance festival of the season in this area is the Folsom faire. The faire was somewhat diminished because the Folsom faire lasts but one weekend, and this year it coincided with the final weekend of the Northern California Renaissance Faire down in Hollister, CA.

For example of the diminution, I inquired after one Mr Myrtle of an ensemble of pipers, but he was reported to be at the Northern California festival. (Perhaps I should plan on attending next year’s Nor Cal Ren Faire, but it’s a three-hour drive in each direction.)

One fellow whom I’ve seen at all the local faires was in attendance at Folsom, however: the shirtless guy in the Viking outfit.

At the local Renaissance faires, you’ll see three types of attraction: vendors, performers, and actors. It is the third category that is often ignored but which deserves a bit of praise.

By ‘actor’ I mean that they set up a booth and play a part, performing some labour, but doing no peddling at all. These people are rare but can be good for instruction. That is, they’ll show and tell you about life in the Renaissance, and the good ones are so eager to do so that they require no more solicitation than to have a spectator step forward and make pointed looks at their tables.

An actor of note

One such actor, who sets up an excellent pavillion and never fails to make his instruction truly interesting, is B. Townsend Phillips, Physick & Apothecary. (Apologies for the shadowy photo.)

The apothecary will share raw licorice wood with you, with which you may brush your teeth. Or just chew them for flavour. Smell the spices and hear about the guilds and their trade. Learn the scams that traders would employ to cheat merchants (for instance, employing leisure hours aboard ship in carving inexpensive teak wood to look like nutmeg, then selling barrels of the fakes, with only a few layers of bona fide nutmeg on top).

A vendor of note

In some instances, vendors also provide a good deal of interesting information or a worthwhile demonstration of how their trade is performed. One of these, which I particularly enjoyed was Amber of Amber Wolf. Others from the Folsom faire worthy of inquiry are the potters, the weavers, the spinners, and the Pictish stone carver.

I observed three vendors at Amber Wolf,  peddling some variety of goods, but the one that drew my particular interest was Amber and her incense. Amber’s methods may not be those employed 400 years ago (maybe they are; I don’t know) but she can tell you about them in detail. I have experience with incense from a wide variety of providers, and I don’t believe that I have ever found any so pleasing as Amber’s. I particularly enjoyed the juniper and rosemary concoction (called ‘Healing incense’), which smelled nothing like either of the main ingredients.

A performer of note

One performer—or rather, group of performers—which I have seen and enjoyed at several faires in the last year is Bella Donna. Bella Donna is a group of four saucy bawds. Although the dialogue in their stage show will raise a blush on the cheeks of people with delicate sensibilities, I have listened to their musical performances off of the main stages, and it is quite enjoyable.

Beware if they drop a spoon on the ground and entreat you to retrieve it for them.

Earlier this year, I wrote another post on attractions at Renaissance faires, which contains my reviews of 14 performances at Renaissance faires within 2 hours of Sacramento.

From the Undercroft

(originally posted 9 Oct 2011 in Kingdom of Horror vol. 7: Poetry)
(in anapestic tetrameter: ––+––+––+––+)

Late a breath stirs from deep in the chill undercroft
But say who, after dusk, could make breath so to waft?
Eft a scratch sounds, a rasp, then a shamble-ing tread
Which each scatters to echoes ‘mid rows of the dead.

Not a light gleams by which might the starv’d eye infer
Any lin-e-ament of the deep sepulchre
Cold as winter lie flags under numb, scraping toe
Too the stone overhead, which doth ceil graves below.

‘Tween the masts on which low-vaulted ceilings impress,
‘Neath the floor, ‘gainst the wall, and in ev’ry recess,
Untold caskets of stone closed with lids thick and stout
Stand shut fast as the grave, lest the bodies get out.

Heavy lids notwithstanding, some one or some thing
Surely creeps, making sibilant echoes to ring.
Even if ne’er it wander’d by night heretofore
A mere matter of time leads all things to the door.

And the door, slow with age, holds but scant pow’r to stay
Any revenant bold that might dare to away.
And its guardship the door from its schedule might strike
Since the world on both sides seems to it so alike:

Just as hushed as should lie ev’ry corse in his case
The eld bishop doth slumber ‘mid satins and lace,
And as still as should be ev’ry mort in his box
Every monk dreams, wrapped tight under layers of frocks.

On they sleep, walled in stone, with a fence roundabout
Quite secure ‘gainst the night and the creatures without,
With each lock bolted fast, since the monks were inspired
To secure every entrance before they retired,

And each window to shutter, in mind of the snow,
But alas that neglect shrouds the doorway below
On this night deep and strange, when the mover downstairs
Fin’lly breaches the church, all the monks unawares.

Watch Star Wars on the command line

Let’s exult in the excellent transcendence of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope across barriers of media. It’s on telnet, all animated in ASCII characters. You can watch it from your command line. (Instructions follow.)

                                        |oo )      We're doomed!
                        ___        #   /  _  \   #
                       /() \        \\//|/.\|\\//
                     _|_____|_       \/  \_/  \/
                    | | === | |         |\ /|
                    |_|  O  |_|         \_ _/
                     ||  O  ||          | | |
                     ||__*__||          | | |
                    |~ \___/ ~|         []|[]
                    /=\ /=\ /=\         | | |
     .....                    @@@@@    @@@@@              ...........
     ......                  @     @  @     @             ..........
     .......                    @@@   @     @             .........
     ........                 @@      @     @             ........
      ........               @@@@@@@   @@@@@  th          .......
        .......            -----------------------        ......
          ......             C  E  N  T  U  R  Y          .....
            .....          -----------------------        ....
               ...         @@@@@ @@@@@ @   @ @@@@@        ...
                 ==          @   @      @ @    @          ==
               __||__        @   @@@@    @     @        __||__
              |      |       @   @      @ @    @       |      |
     _________|______|_____  @   @@@@@ @   @   @  _____|______|_________

In Windows:

  1. Click the Start menu
  2. Click Run…
  3. Type telnet and hit Enter
  4. Enjoy

If you’re really lazy, you can actually just go to (dumb ol’) Youtube and find a video file of the animation.

Clearly, it took a long, long time to make this animation. Take that into account about half an hour into the movie, when it stops.

Ruby on Rails on Notepad++

For everyone who doesn’t use emacs or vim to write code, Notepad++ (alias: npp) is a great text editor. With the following instructions, you can adapt to Ruby on Rails, correcting a syntax highlighting issue that occurs in .erb files (viewed as HTML).

download replacement SciLexer.dll (2011)

What we’re fixing

I use Notepad++ for Ruby on Rails, and if you have done likewise, you’ve probably noticed an irritating thing with html.erb or rhtml files: syntax highlighting goes wonky when you use a single-quotation-mark (') within ruby on rails tags (<% %>).

What we see in Notepad++
We'd rather see something more like this

You may have tried correcting this issue by using replacing your SciLexer.dll file with the one downloaded here:,* but if your experience is like mine, an unfortunate side effect is that your code would be truncated to nothing when you tried to save it, and npp would crash.

I finally took a crack at the source for SciLexer.dll and got the results I needed. You can download my file here: (if clicking the link doesn’t download the file, try right-clicking, then select ‘Save link as…’)


  1. Download the file from the foregoing link. Rename the file to SciLexer.dll.
  2. Open up your Notepad++ folder (it’s usually something like C:/Program Files/Notepad++).
  3. The folder already contains a file named SciLexer.dll, so copy and/or rename the existing file (because we’re going to overwrite it, and you want to keep the original file on hand, just in case).
  4. Move the new SciLexer.dll file into your Notepad++ folder.

Note: I made this from the source for Notepad++ 5.9.3. It’s not guaranteed to work for earlier or later versions. That being the case, let’s go over how you can customize and compile your own dll file.

Customize & compile your own

  1. Download (and unzip) the Notepad++ source code. (Look for it here: Be sure to get the source files, not the installer.)
  2. Within your extracted files, find and open scintilla/lexers/LexHTML.cxx
  3. Comment out the following lines (it’s anywhere that you see “state = SCE_HBA_COMMENTLINE;“):
    • 1679-1681
    • 1706-1707
    • 2030-2031
    • 2040-2041
  4. Follow the instructions in scintilla/README to correctly compile your changes
  5. You should find your new SciLexer.dll file in the folder scintilla/bin

* Maybe the blog at ‘therubyway.wordpress’ has some good value, but I’m disappointed with it. I posted a comment on the aforementioned post, requesting assistance with the dll back in May, and every time I’ve been back to check up on it, I see that it’s still awaiting moderation. I suppose that the dll file there hasn’t been updated since 2008 and consequently only works for an earlier version of Notepad++.