Category Archives: Event

Kansas City Japan Festival 2013

Writing a little bit late here, but October 5th was the Kansas City Japan Festival, and once again I went out in support of this event with the Kansas City Kendo Club. As always it was a good time. I saw not as many familiar faces this year, but that may be because I was very focused on the kendo portion, and was also feeling the onset of a cold. I dragged myself out of bed and down the highway, knowing that once I got there I’d feel better, but not very motivated at all when I woke up.

There was little build up to the demo. It was at 1300, I think, and when I got there almost nobody was in the Fountain Square. The club began trickling in, and then promptly at 1300 there was a sudden crowd. A lot of smaller school children, all wearing the same T-shirt, probably somebody’s entire class for some reason. At first I didn’t think we’d have enough people, then I didn’t think we’d have enough shinai, but it all worked out. Somewhere in the middle of the workshop the schoolkids disappeared and were replaced by random folks, and I didn’t see that happen but just noticed it.

For the workshop we did a basic introduction course. We don’t really do anything special or fancy, it’s sort of like we’re having a normal practice and a bunch of new people just happen to show up. Whenever that happens on regular nights it’s footwork – footwork – footwork – how not to kill yourself. The crowd always gets really hype when we let them line up and hit us. I tell you, there is always ONE person, normally a small child, who does their level best to hammer you into the ground. This year it was a grinning little girl of maybe six. I never forget my extra wrist pad for these things.

After I walked around and did a quick spin through the merchant area. It seems like every year there’s one more manga and anime knick-knack seller, and they’re all about the same level of cruddiness. There was a group selling handcrafted clay stuff, and they were pretty cool, though. Also there was the usual jumble of stuff sold by the Japanese ladies in the big room, like books and magazines and whatnot. I wanted to get in the line to look at the children’s books, but it was long. Then I thought about how I never really do anything with the ones I’ve already bought, so left off.I though about getting some Japanese snacks, but like the anime and manga stuff there really isn’t anything there you can’t get locally anyway. I take that back, I saw an Azumanga Daioh statuette of Tomo and Father than I had a spasm of desire to buy, and there were some Yotsuba statuettes too. But I really have no use for vinyl stuff like that, especially at those prices. But yeah, I skipped the snacks and wen to the cafeteria area for real food. I was surprised when I got to the register and some yakitori, rolls, and a can of Dr Pepper was $16, but I didn’t want to put it down after I had it on my plate. It’s good stuff, but it’s not $16 good. So, there was that.

After parting with my precious monies for fleeting satisfaction, I wandered backstage to wait for the demonstration. This year we were on at the very last, which suits me fine. The people before us were doing tameshigiri, which was kind of interesting. It’s something I’d like to try, but I won’t have the dosh for a shinken for probably… never, I’d wager. They tried to clean up, but they were mostly concerned about the water they got everywhere, and it must not have occurred to them that bamboo splinters all over the place isn’t great for people about to do some barefoot stuff. Still, nobody got speared through the foot so I guess it was clean enough.Normally I don’t like demos. You go up and sit in seiza on a rockhard stage under blinding and intensely hot lights, then wobble to your feet to do four men strikes or whatever, then go back to punishing your knees for the rest of the time. This time I got called up to demonstrate some sparring, which I was totally up for. I even managed to get a decent dou strike off, which is probably worthy of a blog post all by itself…

Like this year’s Ethnic Enrichment Festival, a couple of us took the time after the workshop to do a little unsupervised sparring. Mr. A and myself had a go at one another, and I enjoyed myself. The grass was uncut and wet, so we were limited to where we could spar without breaking our ankles, but we managed. I think I saw one of my old classmates from Japanese class and wanted to say hello, but he appeared to be doing something with bokuto and I was doing the sparring thing. I don’t see as many folk from school at these things as I used to, and this year I didn’t even see any of my old teachers, which is unusual. The Japan America Society folks greeted me with the usual warmth, though, and I look forward to that. They are nice folks, and I really need to make the time to go those meetings again.

Anyway, after the demonstration there was some talk about a group outing for food. I love this sort of thing, and we hadn’t done it in a long while. I think that every once in a while a club has to socialize outside of practice to build a little camaraderie, and food is good for this. We headed out to a pizza joint at College and Pflumm. We had some pie and beer and lots of good conversation, and the desired increase in camaraderie was achieved, I believe. Here is a fudged panoramic shot of the club at dinner:


There was some talk about the upcoming tournament and testing in Chicago. I think five or seven of us are going, one of which is myself, and I am very much looking forward to it. Still working on the travel arrangements and hotel room, but most everything else is in order. I need to get a draft of my essay question to sensei this week. I think I’m doing “explain ki-ken-tai-ichi”. My plan is to do the first draft tomorrow evening.

On a side note, I also went to Fall Recruits 2013 this year. I didn’t do a blog post about it when it happened, mostly because there really wasn’t anything to say. I understand they’re only doing the fall convention from here on out, and this year with the change in coordinators it seemed a little under-attended. I’m told there was more stuff I didn’t see downstairs, including a 40k grab box thing that Mr. B failed to tell me about when he reported back from his scouting (him not having an eye for 40k things…) but at any rate, it just seemed subdued. I did get to sort through a bits bin and got four lascannons and a servo-arm back pack for $2, so I felt pretty happy about that part, at least.

Returning to kendo, it’s starting to get dark and cool these days. I want to move to Saturdays, but this weekend didn’t have the gas to go. I’ve been talking with some of the others about getting the indoor practices up and running again at least once a month. I don’t really mind doing kendo outside, but when I can’t see and when it’s too cold to take shoes off, well, I just don’t go anymore. Depending on the weather I may go through December, and there’s early talk of actually pulling off a First Practice on New Year’s this season, but in general I don’t really get anything but cardio exercise out of practicing in the snow. Not that I don’t need it, but I’m always super paranoid about popping my knee out on the slick ground. That’s the sort of thing that could put me out of kendo for months, and I don’t want to risk that over “snow kendo” bragging rights.

I guess that’s it, because I’m rambling. So yeah, the annual culture fest was fun, and the club had a good showing!


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Filed under Budo, Event, Kendo

Kendo Stuff (No Pictures)

Last weekend was the 2013 Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Festival, an event I’ve been going to since 2009. Since I’ve been going to it and reporting on it since 2009, there really isn’t a lot novel to say about it. I don’t think I even posted about it last year, though in retrospect I’m not even sure I was there because our kendo group gave up the Japanese presentation slot to the local taiko drumming group (of whom I have also reported on here before.)

What was different this year was mostly the time that our club was scheduled to perform. Instead of having to wake up early on Sunday morning and drag myself to the far side of Kansas City, I took my kendo gear with me to work and left from there on a Friday afternoon. I was curious about the attendance relatively early on a Friday. We went up onstage at the pavilion at 1830, and the pavilion was just as full as it ever is. Maybe more, actually. We went up after the hula group and did a standard demo, only we started with myself and Mrs. B sparring, which was new. I think having it there as an attention grabber is good. I suggested afterward to sensei that a demo include a refereed point match, because without the context of scoring they may just see people in weird clothes flailing at one another with sticks.

The bad thing about demos is that you get all keyed up to do some kendo, then you generally get to do four shomen strikes (or whathaveyou), sit in seiza on an incredibly hard surface under harsh, hot lights for what seems like an eternity, then the whole affair is over. Mrs. B commented on that, something I’ve felt for a long time, and four of us went to go hide from the public eye and do some unsupervised jigeiko. Being initially hidden from sensei as well as the public, I decided to try jodan because I had recently watched a youtube video demonstrating basics. Of course, mucking about above my experience is like blowing a bugle that summons sensei, and before long I switched back to chudan because I saw him coming. I needed the lecture on my footwork being terrible anyway, because it is.

This past Wednesday, while I am on the subject of kendo, our club was visited by a nana-dan who was in town on a business trip. He was connected to us through the JAS, who I should mention were once again very good to the kendo club at the Ethnic Festival the week before. We did a lot of basics, then the ikkyu and up got to do jigeiko with our visitor in turn. It is always different sparring with visitors to the club. We do jigeiko with sustained striking instead of “resetting” after each successful pass. It definitely builds up your will to endure, but it has a very different rhythm to the more usual shiai oriented practice. I suppose between the uncertainty of doing kendo with someone so highly ranked and my desire of adapting myself to the different style of jigeiko, I was put out of sorts a bit. But it was an interesting experience to play with someone of his rank, though I’m sure I bored him to tears with my clumsy kendo.

I really need to do kendo more. It is my intention to go to the testing and tournament in Chicago this fall, and I want to be physically and mentally prepared for it. I have been practicing with my suburito more often, because I want to be faster and not get tired so quickly. I have also been practicing the kata on my own quite a bit. Both of those are things that are all too easy to ignore, especially when my regular club attendance has been so irregular.

Whether I can make shodan this fall, or get past the first round of the mudansha tournament (or even score a single pont for that matter), or even make it to Chicago in the first place (no cool trips out of town are ever a sure thing since graduation), and even though I’ve been terrible about getting to practice regularly, I still love kendo.



Filed under Budo, Event, Kendo

Recruits Convention – Spring 2013

This past weekend I once again attended the Recruits convention in at Lee’s Summit High School. I’ve gone to several of these in the past, and they’ve always been a good time. When I’m not so tired I’ll come back and link the past blogs about them here, but for now I wan to concentrate getting the pictures up. Because there’s a few of them.

My first Recruits I just sort of walked around and gawked, but I did get to play a demo game. The next time I went I came loaded for shopping. This latest time my friends and I put on our own demo. OK, it was my friends’ demo and I was just there, but I helped by carrying things…

435Roughnecks3inchThe 435th Dust Warfare Club

The above logo is that of my friends’ club they started to try and build a larger local player base for the game Dust Warfare, from Fantasy Flight Games. I think it’s a good rule-set, but I have an allergic reaction to both WWII and anything involving real historical or current units. It’s an alternate history sci-fi thing so it skirts my second concern, but it’s still very much a WWII themed game, so I’m not into it. I’ve promised to build a small army if they ever do an Imperial Japan faction and the walkers are cool, but the dismissively Euro-centric way that the Japanese are treated in the rulebook’s alternate history section leads me to believe this won’t happen in a way I’m thrilled with, if at all.

Moving right along, the demo itself went really well:

recruits-dust-demo-001Mr. B explaining how to start the game to an enthusiastic group of children.

recruits-dust-demo-002This was our first group: two teens that were thrilled with the effectiveness of the German advanced technology, and a convention traveller from a gamer podcast. I forget which podcast he said he was from, but Mr Y told me he listened to it.

recruits-dust-demo-003I want to highlight the centerpiece of the terrain we carted in. One of the fun things about a wargames convention is usually the elaborate and well built terrain to play on, and this year for the 435th’s convention debut Mr S labored long and hard on this signal shack installation. It received many compliments, especially for the painstakingly crafted fence.

recruits-dust-demo-004The scenario was that the Germans had some xenotechnology captured from the SSU inside the shack. The Allies job was to capture it, the SSU wanted to destroy it, and the Axis needed to hold them off for 6 rounds. The last turns of this scenario are always pretty dramatic, because you’ve got just enough time to win, but every chance in the world to fail at the very last moment. Here, some SSU have just moved into the reaction area of a machine gun equipped walker and are about to pay for it with their lives…

recruits-dust-demo-005Mr. R constructed the hardened walls there, and they are moveable. The Axis never manages to hold the line in that midfield, but getting up to those trees there and moving the concertina wire is murder.

recruits-dust-demo-006A view of the signal installation board prior to the games period starting. The bulk of the Axis force started on that back road and had to move up to reinforce a smaller force guarding the far side.

recruits-dust-demo-007The forces were set up so that two people could play per faction. This is before the start of the first game, showing the starting position of the SSU and Allies. Part of the fun of the scenario is seeing how much fighting the Allies and SSU are going to get into. Having playtested on the Axis side, I can tell you that letting the Allies Hot Dog walker live long enough to burn the SSU snipers out of that ruin is crucial to holding out…

recruits-dust-demo-008The Allies had jump troops, but speeding them toward the objective without crippling the Axis support troops is super deadly for them. Here two heroes, one from the SSU and Allies each, end up dramatically facing off in the very end moves of the game. Miniatures custom painted by the 435th crew.

recruits-terrain-001Speaking of terrain, when I wasn’t busy assisting at the demo I was walking around taking photographs of every damn thing there. I love the terrain that people bring. This was a 15mm sci-fi thing, though I can’t remember what game it specifically was. It really looked like the players were enjoying themselves though, and I definitely admire the urban set-up of the scenario. Smaller games open up possibilities for more cool terrain than is generally possible for 25mm and up.

recruits-terrain-002I mentioned a distaste for historical wargaming, but I’m completely fascinated with WWI air combat and would love to find someone to play Wings of Wr with me. I’m not sure what rule-set these people were using, or what scale exactly, but I loved the fact they included cloud cover and had telescoping flight stands for true 3D movement.

recruits-terrain-003WWII Pacific Theater naval battle, I believe. Everything was all set up to go, but I never saw anyone, not even demo organisers, anywhere near the table. Curious.

recruits-terrain-004The first convention I went to the game I played was the .45 Adventure (I think the system is called) with objectives tailored for each faction. I see it every year, and every year it looks like just as much fun. I like the giant rock formation in the middle this year.

recruits-terrain-005Not sure exactly what’s going on here, but the players were really into it, and I liked the modular mountain thing they had.

recruits-terrain-006Flames of War games always have some of the most detailed terrain. This game was very large with lots, LOTS of terrain, and a very busy table with a crowd of observers around it all day.

recruits-terrain-007I’m pretty sure it was Flamers of War, anyway. It was the right scale and there were tanks, tanks, tanks everywhere.

recruits-terrain-008Of course, the “pirate dudes” brought the biggest, the most, and the swag-est terrain, of which this is a small representative. These guys had their own room this year, and I didn’t find out about it until lunch time.

recruits-games-001I didn’t photograph the large French-Indian table this year, but I got this larger scale battle on the other side of the room. I think it’s from the same era, but I’m not sure. I don’t know enough about that time period to say with any kind of authority.

recruits-games-002Pretty sure these guys were playing Infinity. I think. I know someone was playing Infinity, and these were the only super sci-fi skirmish photos I had on my camera so it must have been them. I see this game talked about on the image boards all the time, but I had never seen anyone playing it before.

recruits-games-003This isn’t a very good picture (it was hard to get a good position near the table without being all up in the players’ faces), but this is a good old fashioned Battletech game. I should have tried to talk to the organiser, because I am absolutely dying to play this game again. I’ve had a single game since I bought the new boxed set when it came out, and that makes me sad. I loved their fabric hex terrain, though. It’s a great idea.

recruits-games-004This table was really cool. They had an Aliens scenario going on, though I have no idea where the models came from or if they were using official rules or a makeshift system. It looked like fun, whatever exactly they were doing.

recruits-games-005The “pirate game” has these awesome 28mm ships. Ive done lots of pictures of them before, but I couldn’t resist just one more for this year.

recruits-games-006SAGA, obviously. What I gleaned from the tubes is that it’s from a company called Studio Tomahawk from France? Or maybe they’re Quibecois? Someone call me out on that if I’m wrong, but the search engine wasn’t being cooperative and I want to get this done and go to sleep…


The latest gaming fad that is crossing the great Grognard Divide and attracting people who aren’t normally gamers is X-Wing. Star Wars is a powerful IP, and FFG has produced some truly awesome scale models for us to play with. I’ve played it myself and I enjoy it, but I wonder about its lasting power. The Millennium Falcon models probably mostly went to collectors for the first run, I’ll bet. They’re very, very cool. I totally want to get a squadron of TIE Advanced and go with a small super-elite Imperial force, but I’m both broke and addicted to Nottingham plasticrack…

recruits-games-008I don’t know the name of this game, but it’s about 15mm. It might be the other 15mm sci-fi game I mentioned above, but I don’t know. The vehicles and terrain are nice.

recruits-games-009Dreadball. This is from Mantic, who make space dwarves, among other things. They have decently priced plastics for both fantasy and for “space fantasy” armies, though they sort of suffer when it comes to number of possible poses. But Dreadball is their version of “space rugby”, a concept that’s been around a while. On a tangent, when I was a kid I really loved the Rutger Hauer film The Blood of Heroes when I was a kid.

recruits-games-010The organisers of this Star Trek spaceship fightin’ game have an absolutely mental campaign at my FLGS. It’s been running weekly for years now, and there’s a mob of people that play it. I’m not really into Star Trek that much, but every time I’m in there for painting and see this madness I sort of get the itch to want to join in. I’d be over my head when it comes to the background, though, because I never really cared for TOS and only sort of followed TNG. The movies are my main point of contact with the IP.


This man laser cuts wooden sailing ships that are very nice looking, and he’s local. I had a flyer with his information, but I don’t know what happened to it. I’ll try to find out his info and update this later, because those are some very nice ships.

recruits-misc-002A close-up of the Battletech terrain, just because. I don’t mind the cardboard maps, it is primarily a board game after all, but there is something much more visually appealing about this sort of presentation. Cool models and terrain make the game more enjoyable. Painted models also are more successful on the table too, everyone knows that.

recruits-misc-003“Hey, did you guys know there’s a bunch of stuff going on downstairs?” So yeah, I had been walking around wondering why the convention seemed smaller than previous years when I decided to follow some people down the stairs. There was an X-Wing tournament going on, and on the other side I believe it was a Warmahordes tournament. Anyway, people were playing those two games. I didn’t see the mob of 40k players I normally expect, but there was Comicon that weekend as well, and other stuff was happening later after we left, so it could have been that. Someone was setting up a proper Apocalypse sized table in the entryway area when we were leaving, so perhaps they all showed up after I left. At the FLGS later I saw the usual people hanging out doing their thing, so it’s also possible that without an official scheduled tournament with prizes nobody really cared enough to pack their minis off to Lee’s Summit.

recruits-misc-004This stuff is everywhere these days. Even the war games convetions are not safe…

recruits-misc-005Something in the silent auction definitely worth bidding on. Oh, how I wished I had the cash to put bids on these. I don’t know the winning bid, but I bet it was well under the MSRP of everything there. There’s a certain prestige to collecting a Sisters of Battle army. It says to people, “I am the bull goose looney of GW customers!” I mean, that’s totally why I have a SoB army, anyway.

That’s it, I believe. I sort of uploaded the photos to my media library in a screwy order, so I won’t know if I forgot something until after I’ve published this entry. But that’s good enough, because that’s a lot of pictures and witty commentary.


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Filed under Event, Hobby, Modeling & Painting, Reviews & Reports, Right Living

2012 Year in Review

So here it is 2013, so time for another “year in review” blog!


Circle of life, and all that.  Here’s my magnolia tree early in the Spring. The lovely flowers bloom for about a week, then fall like snow.

Speaking of which, I spontaneously composed a poem to my friend Rod one day while we were on campus texting each other, late in our last semester at KU:

Cherry blossoms drift
softly on two travellers
trading cricket songs.

I remembered that just now while looking at the picture above, so I thought I would share it on RA.


That’s the KU Kendo/Kumdo Club, or most of us anyway, gathering for the end of year party. It was really nice, with a pile of great food, some very nice plum wine, and lots of good conversation! I didn’t play kendo nearly enough in 2012, which is something I plan to correct in 2013.


AND I FINALLY GRADUATED! The most exciting thing to happen in 2012, hands down. That’s me and a friend from my non-fiction class, a Mr. Tim B. Rod was somewhere behind me and to my right, as he graduated too. I don’t normally go in for that sort of thing, but when we all put our arms around each other and sang the school song, it was all I could do to keep from crying like a child. A happy, happy child.



Some shots after the graduation ceremony. I carried different things to the ritual to remind me of who I was and what helped me achieve my goal: the pin and cords from Phi Alpha Delta, a 1″ button with the “dancing rudeboy” on it, a couple of dice, a Valknut carved from bone gifted to me by a friend from JBK, and, of course, my oxblood Dr. Marten boots. I don’t wear those much anymore, but damned if I was going to walk down the hill in anything else.


This is the proof for my official graduation photo. As you can see, it came from Jolesch Photography. I have the full sized version, but I didn’t feel like scanning it just now…


New additions to the family: Hansel (on the right), and Gretel (on the left.) They are brother and sister cats that Ma picked up, and they settled in quickly, as you can see. It was very sad when Bob passed away, and the house just seemed so empty without a cat. Ma and Pop hadn’t been without a feline in the house since 1980, or so. I’m glad Ma adopted these two.


Hansel, doing what he does best.


OK, so I thought I was going to a generic summer family gathering. I thought the balloons that read “congratulations!” were sort of strange when I was walking up the stairs, but I was honestly surprised when I walked through the door and everyone yelled, “SURPRISE!” These wonderful, generous people had put together a surprise graduation party for me, and I was completely unprepared for it.


And they got me this awesome Dungeons & Dragons themed cake! They are awesome people, and I’m glad I have them in my life.


What else I’m glad to have in my life are my two sons! My youngest went to his first ROTC summer camp in 2012, and I picked him up that morning to drop him off at the school. Seeing him in his ACUs (or whatever they call them these days) put a lump in my throat. He looked all grown up and serious, and I suddenly thought to myself that he could be heading off for the Army in just a couple of years, rather than a summer camp. It’s a sobering thought. I couldn’t be more proud of him, though.


My and Pop drove out to Fort Riley to watch their final assembly. I can’t imagine that me and my mates looked much different that the above when we were at Fort Benning, all shaven headed and painfully young…


Did I mention how proud we are of him? Because we are. Very.


This summer I began cleaning and fixing up the house. I started with the porch, because it had got pretty shabby. I’m going to finish up this summer, and over the winter I’ll be fixing up the interior. I may not get to leave “the Kansas Rectangle” as soon as I’d like, but while I’m here I’m going to make the best of it. It’s funny, because for years I couldn’t wait to finish college so I could shake the dust of this place off my feet, but now I’ve got a real solid life here. Before I wouldn’t have hesitated, but the deep connections I made after I got over my antisocial phase really make me think twice about heading off for the coast like I’ve been talking about. Maybe leaving Leavenworth would be enough, but for now my house is a really comfortable home, and I love my neighborhood (even if I hate the town it’s in.)


Speaking of fixing up the interior of my home, I’ve got some interesting antique furniture, the above of which is probably my favorite. It’s on loan from my parents, not really mine, more of the family’s. This library table was pulled out of the river in northern Alabama following a gigantic flood upriver. Apparently there was a lot of stuff in the river because of it, and people were salvaging some really good furniture. My great-grand father fished this out for use, and later on my two uncles, Shorty and Jud, refinished it for my grandmother. When Grandma died Ma collected some things of hers to remember her, and this table was one of them. I’ve also got on loan from the family an antique bed frame and matching vanity, also former belongings of Grandma. It’s nice to have her things close and to use them. I miss her every day, and love her very much.


A recent acquisition, this secretary was only $20 from a local consignment store. It’s in pretty rough condition, but I like to think of it as character. It’s now a smoking station for my pipes and tobacco, and I love it. This photo was before I cleaned it up much.


Enough about stuff, here’s Ma representing the Environmental Protection Agency at the 2012 Kansas City Corporate Challenge. She’s an ace ping pong player (ping pong-er?), but unfortunately met another ace in the first round, and didn’t go further. So no medals this year, but I’m super proud of Ma.


What would an RA blog post be without mention of my hobby life? This is a snapshot I took at the midnight release of the 6th edition of Warhammer 40,000. My beloved Chaos Marines got a new codex in October, which I was very pleased with.


Yes, I am pleased with the new edition of both the game and my faction, even though I can no longer use the unit pictured above. Khârn leading a unit of twin Lightning Claw Chosen with Mark of Tzeentch was just too fun for them not to make illegal or ineffective. First 6th edition tweaked the melee weapon rules, making LC AP3, then the new codex said that ICs with different Marks than the unit can’t join them. And also MoT works different now. So there went my favorite answer to Grey Knights, and now I’m stuck with Abaddon/TDA retinue, or plasma Chosen, neither of which are nearly as fun. But, on the other hand, the new Baledrake has kept me happy.


Here’s the very last conversion I did in 2012, speaking of hobby. The new Chaos Marines codex gives us Marks separate from Icons, which is cool (though it sucks that Icons lost the deepstrike guidance ability.) I’ve been using the Icon of Excess for different troops to help keep them alive in the new, shoot-y game, and having a model that confers FNP just screamed Apothecary to me. Because this makes more sense to me than a magic flag that nobody esle can pick up once it gets dropped. And the Iron Hounds aren’t into the Ruinous Powers anyway. Also, my lawyer advises me that I must say that those models are copyright Games Workshop, because I used GW bits to make them and all that…


I’m bad about keeping connections, but I do try. Here I am with some old friends last Autumn, Amanda M. and Joe E. Even in the wild parts of my life I managed to make and keep decent friends, and they are two of them I have a lot of love for. I have a lot of great people in my life. Some of them I see every week, some of them I only see rarely, and some of them, unfortunately, I really don’t get to see at all anymore. Such is life, but I always have my family and friends with my in spirit, wherever I am.


Speaking of great friends, I did Yule with Mike L. and his family, who are always generous and kind to me. For New Year’s we had the usual Yule Goat and Yule Wreath. This year I think we made the best Yule Goat yet. I say that every year, but that’s because we’ve been getting better at it every year. It snowed on New Year’s Eve, so it was nice and seasonal, though it kept guests away on account of the roads. It had stopped by the time we got to my favorite part:


2012: it was a very good year!

In the interest of tracking these sorts of things, here is some information about the blog itself:


RA isn’t really a gaming blog, but the gaming posts are the most read thing I do. The unboxing I did for the Battletech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box remains the most popular thing ever, probably because I list every mech included, which is the sort of thing I would want to know if I were going to buy it. Which is, of course, why I included it. In an attempt to make my blog hobby relevant, and pursue site hits and all that, I’ve got a review of the Reaper Bones minis that I’m working up, too. That will probably be a good one for visits, too.


Homemade Camper made the list of top searches again. WTF people?


My readers are from every-damn-where. Everywhere that people care about 40k, anyway. Most of my readers are looking for conversion ideas, is my guess.


And here is the chart for 2012. Not bad, considering I didn’t really post much this year. My popular posts were all from 2011, I think, when I was much more diligent about hobby blogging.

So that’s the 2012 year-in-review. It was a great year, and I’m looking forward to 2013. I know it’s going to be a good one too!


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

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