Monthly Archives: September 2011

2011 Greater Kansas City Japan Festival

Another year, another Japan Festival!

This is definitely one of my favorite things to do in the year, something I always look forward to when the summer nights start to cool off and the campus bells remind me that it’s Autumn. Here’s members of the Kansas City Kendo Club eating traditional Japanese festival food in the crowded Regnier Center. There were several vendors represented, but I opted for JCCC Dining Services. I am a Cavalier alumnus, after all.

Lots of workshops, though once again I only did the martial arts stuff. I highly recommend the other cultural activities, however. Here’s Ginga Dojo, the iaido group that I am ostensibly a part of, toward the end of their workshop. I haven’t had time for iaido, plus it’s been sort of depressing doing iaido with a bokken because my iaito was stolen. I hate lowlife thieves, but there it is, I need a new iaito and I can’t afford one just right now. But it was nice to see Egan sensei, who travels up from Texas (I think) just to do this festival, and Andreson sensei, who heads the local branch of MJER, an authentic koryu.

This was fun to watch. They had these sumo/fat suits like on Takeshi’s Castle/mXc and they were letting people get into them and play. It took forever to get these shots, however, because in our litigious society nothing can happen without waivers. There was actually real sumo going down this year, which was very cool. The headliner was this fellow who’s over 600lbs. and not only does he not need a Rascal, he can kick your ass. I regret that I couldn’t last to watch the evening match, most especially because I missed the sumo demo at the St Louis festival last year (or was it the year before?) But man, I was beat. Sunday I could barely function…

This was in the cultural display room, the Virgina Krebs room, named after the late wife of my Eastern Civ professor and all around nice guy, Professor Fred Krebs. The kimonos were beautiful, the Boys Festival dolls were cool, and the samurai armor was neat… but all I could do was look at the temple models and calculate the scale in my head, imagining them as 40k terrain. Something is wrong with me, but that’s what the hobby does to you.

For a donation you could make a paper crane to add to the tree. Or you could just give them money, which is what I did. The crane folding was in a different room that I didn’t know about, and the lady said I could go there and tell them I gave money already to let me make a crane, but I was on my way to go photograph the martial arts demos when I did this. It was for the 1000 Cranes Project, which is raising money to help out with those who suffered in the Sendai tsunami.

Some Lolita cosplayers. Or are they a subculture instead? I think they’re a subculture in Japan, but unless you’re wearing your Lolita clothes all the time aren’t you just cosplaying? I don’t know the rules to that sort of thing, or even what these girls get up to outside of the festival, but they had the best costumes there so I asked them if I could take this picture. You know, I really don’t think that whoever decided that Lolita was a good name for this subculture had read any Nabokov, but whatever.

You can’t have a festival without shrine maidens reading your fortune! The girl on the left is wearing the traditional clothing of a miko. I heard a funny story this weekend about some kendoka who thought they would be cool and different, so bought white gi and red hakama, having no idea at all about miko. Probably apocryphal, but still interesting. I did not get a fortune stick, in case you were wondering.

KC Kendo during the martial arts demo in the Polsky theater. I participated in the workshop but opted out of the demo. My knees are terrible, that stage is hard, and I just couldn’t kneel through another demo so soon after the KC Ethnic Festival last August. Man, I really need to get that stupid knee surgery.

Over at the Regnier Center they were having a sake and Japanese beer tasting thing. The beer they have is stuff you can get at most well stocked local liquor stores, so there was no way I was paying $4.50 for a bottle. The sake samples were $8, but you got to sample stuff that you would have to otherwise buy a whole bottle for and a lady came by and explained about each brand and all that, so I thought it was much more worth it than the beer. KC Kendo likes to party responsibly, but it’s a life’s mission of mine to get Brian sempai faced. I’m going to get him eventually…

I have no idea what this guy’s story is, but this is a good picture to end with. For more pictures from the 2011 Greater Kansas City Japan Festival you can visit my new ShutterFly account and visit the album I made just for this event. I think that is where I’m going to put my photo albums instead of Flickr.

Anyway, it was Part 2 of a busy three part weekend, and the single biggest thing I did. I was tired, sore, exhausted, beat, and all kinds of other similar adjectives. Brian and I cruised through the bazaar one last time before I made my way home, and I picked up a couple of items to round off my loot from the day. It was, as always, a great festival!


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Filed under Budo, Event, Iaido, Kendo, Right Living

Charity Beer Tasting Event Supporting the Leavenworth Carnegie Arts Center

Friday, the 23rd of September 2011, I attended a charity event support the Leavenworth Carnegie Arts Center. I have a long reaching history with the Carnegie, and am always pleased to be able to continue that relationship. My mother was one of the original executive directors of the original incarnation, the “Leavenworth Area Arts Council”, back before they acquired the old Carnegie Library. I grew up as much at the Arts Center as I did in my own house, taking classes, volunteering, or just simply being there. It was sort of a second house for me, and my sister even got married there. I attended an art opening last week, something I will sporadically do to show my support for local artists and the idea of local arts education in general, and was intrigued by a pamphlet I saw for a beer tasting event. Now, I do like to drink a fine beer, and if I can try out several while supporting the fine arts, well, that’s even better. So off I went with the folks to meet up with some friends and drink some booze for a good cause.

The beer tasting was hosted by downtown private club and catering service J.W. Crancer’s located in a finely renovated space that used to be a rambling antique/junk store. It’s one of my favorite buildings downtown, that I think was originally a department store back when Leavenworth was a thriving “out West” city.

There was a long spread of beer to be had, most of it supplied by Lansing Liquor & Wine, which has the best selection of import beer in the area. It’s where I generally go to purchase my imports, though I have a soft spot in my heart for Gould’s, a family run business in my own neighborhood. There was lots to sample, and I got to try many different flavors and brands.

I met up with Carolyn Singleton, the current executive director of the Carnegie Arts Center, and got her to take a picture with me. The light in the place was playing hell with the iPhone’s camera, and this was one reason why I finally replaced my stolen digital camera this weekend. But I didn’t have it yet, so I apologize for the grainier than usual pictures, even for RA.

Lansing Liquor wasn’t the only beer provider there. Local restaurant and microbrewery High Noon Saloon had a corner where they were promoting their own recipes. I don’t care much for most microbrews, though their “Oregon Trail Raspberry Wheat” struck my fancy this evening. I’ve been on a bit of a raspberry kick kick recently, so it all worked out. The gentleman running the High Noon sampler area told me that Anhauser-Busch has picked up their signature “Annie’s Amber Ale”, so it should be getting wide distribution soon. I didn’t fancy it myself, I’m more of a brown kind of guy, but it wasn’t bad.

I love catered events. I could probably exist on spinach dip and crackers, and those little meat slices folded over with a toothpick stuck through them, along with the gallons of punch that doesn’t seem to taste as nice in any other setting… But anyway, a large part of the night was socializing with folks, all friends of the Arts Center and local artists themselves.

There were door prizes, but I didn’t win anything. Whenever I do win stuff at raffles and doors it’s always fairly weird items anyway. Here’s Carolyn handing out the first prize, which I think was a bicycle helmet of all things.

When I want loot I don’t leave it to chance. Here I am posing with the commemorative beer mug that I purchased with a donation to the Arts Center. The mugs were made by a local artist whose name unfortunately escapes me at the moment.

And last but not least, my worthy parents:

A finer two people you’d be hard pressed to find!

Just so I don’t leave anything out, here is a picture I took of the flyer with the acknowledgments:

I recommend the cookies from Sis’ Sweets!

I haven’t been doing enough cultural activity blogs lately, but it’s been a busy weekend for me (and one that’s not over) so that will change for this week. Yesterday I went to the Greater Kansas City Japan Festival, and later this afternoon I’m going to a poetry reading at the 8th Street Taproom in Lawrence, two more things that I will update RA with soon. Sooooo many pictures from the Japan Festival to go through and edit…


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Fall Recruits 2011

This weekend was the Lee’s Summit H.S. wargame club’s fall convention. I went to the Spring Recruits 2010 convention last year, and wrote about it here. I missed the last two Recruits conventions for various reasons, but was happy to make it out there Saturday with two friends. I ran into another person from my 40k RPG group, and got to talk with a few of the demo people and vendors throughout the day. It was a good time. I took less pictures this time, but there was some really neat stuff going down that I thought I would share today.

The first cool thing I saw was the huge tall sailing ship era game going on. The game was scaled 28mm, and the ships were manly and large. The demo personnel were easily recognizable, as they were all in pirate costumes.

Just look at that table. Look at it, and wonder. Look. At. It. Is it not nifty?

We talked with a couple of the demo guys, including the main person responsible for writing the rules, and it turns out they are from Arkansas and dreamed all of this up just to have some fun. And it definitely looked like fun. And the puns… oh god, the puns

So the blog they have is called… Fist Full of Seamen… and you can find out more information about them and their game there. They were pretty cool guys, and there is a good chance that my main gaming group will end up with a big ship of our own to play with them when they come next time. My two friends were really into the idea of this, though we did talk about smaller models. I mean, I can’t think of where we would play at the 28mm scale, or how I would even store the models…

Last time I went to Recruits I took a lot more pictures of games, many of them 40k things. I’ve got plenty of my own 40k things on RA now, so I was mainly interested in the well displayed and interestingly themed games. These gentlemen were playing some kind of 28mm French colonial themed game, I think. I thought the sticks for big tree trunks was an inspired idea to have a realistically sized forest area, and the little cotton puffs for gun smoke was cool too. I didn’t talk to anybody at this table, so I’m not sure what rule set they were using.

This table caught my attention because they had an Imperial Star Destroyer and a data sheet for a Colonial Battlestar. It immediately made me think of VGA Planets, a turn based space conquering strategy game whose races were thinly disguised factions from popular sci-fi franchises. Anyway, it looked cool.

The owner of my FLGS is involved with Creative Gamescapes, a Kansas City company that creates this 3D modular space ship interior terrain. There was a table that put the terrain to good use, building the sets on square bases that could be arranged to form different set-ups. This is essentially what I have in mind for my long term 40k space ship terrain, only I’m after something a bit more dedicated than, say, a randomizable Space Hulk. This is nicely done, and I hope to have something as useful and well planned some day.

The green pool of industrial waste is wicked neat.

The pieces can be used for out of doors terrain as well.

I am totally going to end up having a train set someday, I can feel it.

This is a 28mm scale medieval type town that I thought was really cool. I am planning a 15mm castle along these lines at some point. Actually I missed out on an opportunity to get some really cool 15mm terrain for a steal of a bargain at this convention. I looked at it, wandered away to think about it, came back to look again, then made up my mind to buy it right as a sale to someone else was being completed. Doh! But that’s neither here nor there.

The table was all by itself when I walked by and looked at it, so I have no idea what game was being played on it.

The town had a little farm just outside of it, with some nice little Holstein cows grazing in the pasture. That’s nice.

I have seen this game at the FLGS, but have no idea what exactly it is. I’m guessing it’s a home brewed system like the pirates game. The player boards are really nice, and those are actual bullet casings being used as ammo markers.

There was nobody around but a younger teen who was poking aimlessly at one of the models, so I didn’t have anybody to ask about the game. It looks interesting, and I’m a big fan of WWI flyers being a Capt. Biggles of the RAF kind of guy myself. The scale sort of puts me off, though. Speaking of WWI flying games, I took the opportunity to pick up a box of Wings of War, “Watch Your Back” version. It’s a card based flying game that has models available to use as well. I’ve been looking at it for a long time, and I guess now is the time to get what you can since I’ve heard the Italian company that puts it out is being sold.

Well, that was Fall Recruits 2011. And to the organizers at Lee’s Summit H.S., I swear I’m going to bring you back my badge holder, along with the one from 2010 that I also accidentally walked off with…


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Ending the Summer of 2011

Having got into a rhythm of life again after settling down and squaring myself away, I found myself once again at the Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Festival, just like last year and the year before that.

Once again the Kansas City Kendo Club was hosted by the Japan-America Society, of which I am involved with both organizations. The 2010 report linked above does a fairly thorough job describing what this event is like, so I won’t repeat any of those details here. I will say again, however, what an awesome festival this is, and I can’t recommend it enough. For the kendo demo we had so many people that we filled the entire length of the stage. All those people also meant that I spent that much more time on my knees (and my very bad knee, which still needs surgery) and the stage they set up at this event is as hard as any I’ve ever knelt on. The pain in my knee, combined with the near full muscle exhaustion in my buttocks from kneeling in a raised position to keep stress off the knee, occupied my mind so much that when it was my turn to stand up and demonstrate a waza I forgot that I hadn’t put my kote on. Drakey sensei had intended us to show how to hit the kote, of course, but he didn’t call attention to my error. Good guy that he is he allowed me to maintain face in front of the audience, and since my partner in this had no armor it worked seamlessly into a demo of how guys without armor can participate in practice. I didn’t even realize it until my second time to get up I almost stepped on the kote, stopping to put them on for a one ippon match against Shane.

So all that went down fairly well. I had somewhere else to be that day, so I didn’t get to stick around and sample all the delicious food that they have there. I also heard the rumor that this would be our last kendo demo at the festival, at leas for a bit. Each country only gets one cultural demonstration, and we’ve been doing this a long while. The Olathe Ki Daiko group, shown here in this video from 2008, often demo at the same Japanese cultural events that KC Kendo does, and are who is rumored to be taking the Japan spot over from us. They are always a popular group with audiences, and I always enjoy watching them myself. If you read this before the 24th of September you should head over to the annual Greater Kansas City Japan Festival at Johnson County Community College and catch one of their concerts or workshops. Or for any of the other good reasons to go to the GKC J-Fest, which are many and varied.

Pictured above is my first practice of the semester with the KU Kendo/Kumdo Club. Though my knee makes it very difficult to practice sometimes, I look forward to another year. Participating in club life at KU has helped make my school experience a great one. Out of the several clubs I was interested in and tried out, the strain on my time has forced me to accept that the kendo club is my only real club. While I look forward to graduating, I know I will miss the KU club (though I could still participate as a guest, and probably will from time to time).

This is my son Donovan, of whom I am very proud. He is a member of the Leavenworth JROTC Pioneer Battalion, and this was taken after the obstacle course event for their Organization Day inter-company competitions, of which I have some pictures on Facebook. That event was really fun, and everyone was exhausted at the end of the day. They started off with a dodge ball competition, and the winners faced the parents and cadre in a fun game that ended in a bench clearing free-for-all game. All the kids were really enthusiastic and everyone looked like they were having a great time. This is the sort of thing that makes all the diapers, thrown food, tantrums, and other frustrating child rearing experiences worth it, this sudden moment when you realize that your little boyo isn’t so little anymore, but has been replaced by a fine young man. Good stuff.

This is Drífa and Tomo, my feline companions. They are all tuckered out from rampaging through the house and wrecking anything not screwed to the wall or hidden behind a closed door. Included here because, hey, I like them.

So that’s a summary of what it’s like to end the Summer and start the Fall around here.

Life is good.


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Filed under Budo, Event, Family, Kendo, Learning, Personal Reflection, Right Living, The Heathen Gods, University of Kansas

State & National Flag Patches

Another installment of my odd hobby of collecting patches. Today I’m putting up my collection of flag patches, and the theme is state and national flags.

The most obvious place to start is with the U.S. national flag. I have a few of these, and I think the first one I ever had was off a Cub Scout uniform when I was but a wee lad. The BSA is probably where most people acquire a patch fetish, but I didn’t care much for the Cub Scouts because they wouldn’t let us go camping. I have no idea what happened to any of my Cub Scout patches, neckerchiefs, or uniform, but that’s neither here nor there. It is entirely possible, nay, probable, that the U.S. flag patch from that uniform is the one that ended up glued to some velcro I pulled off an old pair of shoes and used to affix it to an old ball cap. I suppose that I was ahead of my time, since velcro patch ball caps are apparently all the rage with U.S. forces operating in Western Asia right now.

So yeah, here is a U.S. flag patch I probably took off one of my old sets of B.D.U.s:

(It seems after typing all that I’ve misplaced the picture. I’ll get back to that later…)

You have to have a back patch, and I have two. One is a screen-printed affair that a friend gave to me, and another I bought to go on the back of a riding jacket I no longer own (it has some nice reflective qualitites, not to mention being large):

When I first started putting together a “patch jacket” (it would take too long to explain here) I was obsessed with getting a Kansas State Flag patch. Now, I really don’t like the Kansas State Flag. It looks as if it were designed specifically to show which principles shouldn’t be used in proper flag design. I think the only flag I find more aesthetically horrific is the 2001 – 2003 Georgia State Flag. But there you go, I lived in Kansas and had to have one. At the time they were wicked hard to find, however. There is a merchant who travels from PX to PX on posts across the nation, and he sells all kinds of patches, but it’s like some real life Nintendo RPG where the mysterious merchant appears randomly or according to arcane celestial conditions, and I could never find the guy when I had cash on me. Then eBay got hugely popular and the shops in Asia that make patches started selling directly to U.S. individual customers, which accounts for many of my patches after a certain date. So, I finally found the Kansas Flag patch that I wanted. Of course, I don’t think I’ve ever actually sewn this one on anything, but hey, I finally got the bleeding thing:

Here is the shield design that was more popular with IRL vendors, and what I actually wore for the longest time:

And here is the first patch I actually found, and grudgingly wore for a very short time. I found it in the gift shop of the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka. The museum is pretty neat, but this patch was only the Great Seal of Kansas, which itself is very boring (the for the record Kansas has a boss motto):

Speaking of hard to find patches… Nearly everywhere you look if you want a Scotland patch you find the Rampant Lion flag instead of the St. Andrew’s Cross. The Rampant Lion is the heraldic emblem of the House of Stuart, which is not the same thing as the country of Scotland. The Rampant Lion is much more popular, however, and tends to be more readily available than the St. Andrew’s Cross flag. Despite not being entirely happy about it, I wore a Rampant Lion patch for a short time before finding the appropriate St. Andrews flag:

That was all part of my “heritage collection” impulse. My surname and ancestry is Scottish, while my Mother’s side is German. Here is the correct St. Andrew’s flag for Scotland, and a rather iffy German Imperial flag for the German part of me. There really was no such thing as a German nation-state until relatively recently, so it would be more accurate to try and figure out what part of Germany my folks immigrated from and do that, but I’m not sure how to go about that. The red, white, and black Imperial flag is more appealing to me than the red, gold, and black German nationalist flag. Fun fact: Adolf Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that he despised the Imperial flag and supported the tri-color of the current German state, though in all fairness the flag is historical and was also taken up by various other contemporary political movements who were anti-Imperial. Yet neo-Nazis in Germany sometimes fly the Imperial colors because they are by law prohibited from using NSDAP flags or designs derived therefrom. Politics is a strange thing, which is why I endeavor to avoid it.

Continuing the theme of historical, ancestral, and potential controversial flags, I here present flags of the State of Georgia. I collected and wore patches from the Old World where my ancestors immigrated from, but wanted U.S. state flags to represent the parts of the country where those ancestors immigrated to, and where my own two parents are from. These are Alabama on my Mother’s side, and Georgia on my Father’s side. I am also originally from Georgia, having been born in Savannah. A Georgia flag patch was an interesting thing to look for, considering the political controversy over the design was happening during the time I was looking. Which flag design would be represented? Me? I wanted the flag design that was flying over the capitol when I was born in 1975, which is the controversial “Confederate Battle Flag” design. I am a big fan of heritage and neat design, so it pains me that this interesting and aesthetically pleasing design was disinterred from an honorable grave and put to use for the dishonorable purpose of defying the Civil Rights movement. But there you go, politics again. I just like the design and am from Georgia, so prefer to be judged on that if I have any say about it. Here is the “old” version of the Georgia flag with the current “retro” design underneath it. We will not mention the abomination that was in between these two designs again…

And, of course, the first one I managed to find was the ubiquitous shield design:

Speaking of historical flags (and political co-opting again, unfortunately), here are some more that I’ve collected but might cause people to look at me funny if I wore them:

The top flag is one of the official C.S.A. flags, the bottom one a modern invention based on the Confederate Naval Jack. When I was a young thing the only thing the bottom flag stood for to me (and many people in popular Southern culture) was the general idea of being Southron. I look at it apolitically now, trying to understand the different sides of the issue. I still find the design itself appealing, and while I try to be sensitive to the perceptions and feelings of others, cannot but help associate it with my own good feelings and memories of being a young child living in the South.

Here is a Gadsen “Don’t Tread on Me” flag and a U.S. Army Flag. If I wore a Gadsen flag today people might think I’m a Tea Party supporter, but I am not. After my brief dalliance with the GOP shortly after the last election I have returned to my “anti-party moderate swing voter” stance. The U.S. Army flag I collected because I served in the U.S. Army. At least that one is simple to explain…

Flags being representative of peoples, politics, and governments, it’s very difficult to separate these things and approach a flag objectively. The more I write in this blog post the more I am conscious of this. I feel compelled to defend my collection and explain my actions, but as I do I feel a rising resentment, because I really just like flags. I have collected flags I am connected with somehow or anther, or at least feel connected to, and while they sit in my collection box they are as innocuous as I feel about them. Bring them out into the open reminds me that they mean different things to different people, and that my own internal thoughts and motives behind collecting or even wearing a certain flag or design are by-passed by the function of the flag because they are unknown unless you ask me about it or perhaps read this website, and I might be negatively labeled for possessing or displaying some of these. That is an inherent function of a flag, however. It is a symbol that identifies and sums up a person/people in one swift, colorful display. It’s what a flag does, so I understand that these collections have popularly negative connotations for some of my collected flags and designs. Displaying that makes me prone to these identifications I don’t intend. I accept that, I have no choice, but in sharing my collection and talking about it I hope to stimulate some thought on the subject of symbols and identity in anyone who reads this.

Moving right along from all that, or maybe not, here is another flag I collected due to my personal connection to it. I find it strange that this flag elicits strong emotions from people, but it has. I used to wear it on my patch jacket, and I suppose I figured if it bothered anybody it would have been a WWII veteran. This was not the case, and I actually caught a lot of racist/nationalist flak from people my own age and younger over it. It’s the State Flag of Japan (not even the War Flag with the rays coming from the Rising Sun), and I collected and displayed it because of my personal ties to Japan and Japanese people. Two things helped turn my life around when I down enough that I was in danger of not getting back up: the Japanese language and kendo. I have met some very fine people in the pursuit of these two subjects, and the practice and required discipline to pursue these subjects have helped me meet positive people, move away from negative people, and get my drinking problem under control. I wore the Japanese flag proudly on my patch jacket, and will never apologize to anyone over it.

Now we’re moving into the oddball stuff.

The so-called “Vinland Flag” design was, according to Wikipedia, designed by the lead singer of the band Type O Negative. I’m not really sure about all that, but I like the flag. It’s based on the Scandinavian Cross design that, funny enough, Scandinavian countries base their flag designs on. I think the idea is that Vinland was the name Leif the Lucky’s crew called North America, and if the colonization hadn’t failed this would have been a good flag for it. Different groups use this design with different variations. I found it because I am Asatru, and it pops up here and there because Asatru is a “Viking religion” and North American heathens wanted something to identify with. Unfortunately the usual collection of extremists latched on to it, so there is some political ambiguity surrounding it. I think that as a symbol it is not really in the public’s consciousness so much, so in that respect it is nowhere near effective for the shock value the extremist groups desperately crave. But here it is, the Vinland Flag:

Sometimes I buy flags on pure impulse, then look at them later and have no idea what I was thinking when I did it. These two flags fall into that category, being a very tiny German Imperial tri-color and a glittery “Union Jack” that I think I got at a Wal*Mart:

I… have no excuses for these last two…

But that’s my state and national flag patch collection so far. One more page to my odd hobby section in the “Rec Room”.

EDIT: I have another picture to add!


I picked these up last year after I wrote the original article, mostly because I’m a completist, I like to have full sets of a thing. I was in Brit’s in Lawrence buying some Burdock & Dandelion flavored soda, and these were like $2 a piece or whatever, so I picked them up to go with my Scottish National Flag up at the top there. I suppose Welsh and Northern Irish flags would actually complete the set, but I’ve never been to either of those places or have any other connection to them, so probably won’t add them.



Filed under Collections, Hobby, Patches & Pins, Right Living