Category Archives: Folk

The Sky Wyrm

This is a short story/poem/thing that I wrote for the Kansas City Heathen pubmoot last May. When I started writing it I didn’t know exactly what it was going to be, but I had a theme and a format in mind and just went with it, inspired directly by the same tornado weather in Leavenworth that hit Joplin, MO so hard. I read it aloud to a Heathen audience in the form of its first draft, still unsure what the final thing was going to be, so that’s how I present it here. It suffers some punctuation issues, but at the time it was the least of my worries. I had promised to bring original material to read, so I went with it. Conceptually it touches on a couple of Heathen ethics: garth, kith/kinship, personal responsibility that sort of thing. I later hit upon the idea of making an Asatru children’s book, probably a PDF type thing to download from this website and distributed among friends. We’ll see where that goes, but in the meantime here is the original form:

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Mother! There was a stranger on the road,
Who cast a wary glance behind
And clasped his hands to pray for deliverance
For a Sky Wyrm he witnessed
Destroying his home and he fled
Warning all of its approach
weeping for his loss.

A stranger you say? Upon the road
leaving behind him everything
bidding you pray to the gods for deliverance
from a disastrous thurse, and weeping.
Did you see the dark tail whirling?
Did you feel the wind blowing?
Did you hear the gusty howling?

Mother I saw with my own eyes,
following his wary, fearful look
while he prayed to the gods and ran
Saw the dark tail whirling,
felt the wind begin to blow,
heard its gusty howling.
Shall we pray to the gods for deliverance?

Your father you know, is out in the fields
his weary eye turned to work
laboring to feed and clothe us
Bring him word of the Sky Wyrm
As we travel homeward to shelter.
Your hands grasp his and his work
and bid him take shelter.

Mother I brought him word
lifted his weary eyes to the danger
laid my hands beside his and ready
prepared him for the Sky Wyrm.
He is heading home and safe
as you have bid me see to.
Shall we pray to the gods for deliverance?

Our tenant, you know, is out in the wood
her weary eye turned to work
my true friend she is and constant
Bring her word of the Sky Wyrm
As we travel homeward to shelter
Your hands grasp hers and her work
and bid her take shelter.

Mother I brought her word
lifted her weary eyes to the danger
laid my hands beside hers and ready
prepared her for the Sky Wyrm.
She is heading home and safe
as you have bid me see to.
Shall we pray to the gods for deliverance?

Our neighbors, you know, are at the market
their weary eyes turned to work
buying and trading and crafting
the goods of the whole community.
Bring them word of the Sky Wyrm
As we travel homeward to shelter
Your hands grasp theirs and their work.

Mother I brought them word
lifted their weary eyes to the danger
laid my hands beside theirs and ready
prepared them for the Sky Wyrm.
They are heading home and safe
as you have bid me see to.
Shall we pray to the gods for deliverance?

Our kin are heading for shelter,
Our kith are readied for trouble,
Our community is prepared for danger,
Let us see to ourselves, then,
now we are home and sheltered
grasp our work to make ready
and endure the wrath of the Sky Wyrm.

Mother the Wyrm has passed
the sky is clear and calm
though our alarm was great
the dark tail whipped the field
the wind ravaged the wood
the gusty howl scolded the market.
Shall we pray to the gods for our deliverance?

Your father has gone to the fields
to slaughter a beast for the fire,
And our tenant to fetch a casket of mead.
Our neighbors have gone to the market
to bring fruits and vegetables.
With your hands prepare our hall to receive them
to celebrate with the gods among us.

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Filed under Faith, Family, Folk, Right Living, Stories & Poems, The Heathen Gods

K.C. Ethnic Enrichment Festival 2010

Sunday, 22Aug10, I returned to the Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Festival, to participate and enjoy myself like I did last year. Friday there had been a gully washer of a storm, but by Sunday it was a typical August day. I got there a little bit early, right before the booths were to officially open, and then helped out the Japan-America Society, a group I’m a member with but don’t have the time to go to a lot of meetings of, by stamping children’s “passports” for a short while.

Kendo folk started filtering in, and before I knew it we were lined up behind the stage ready to go. There were about half again as many kendoka participating in the demo this year, from rank beginner up to san-dan, and new-to-bogu to bogu-for-years, so it was a good mix for demo purposes. The number of people participating also meant more time stressing my torn ACL sitting on my knees. I ended up pulling off my knee brace and standing. For my part in the demo I demonstrated kote-men strikes, then sparred with Brian for a bit.

It seemed to go pretty quickly this year, and I believe we were well received by the audience.

After that I dumped my gear at the JAS booth and then headed out for some food. I wasn’t all that hungry, unfortunately, so I didn’t eat as much as last year. But I got some Scandinavian pancake balls (which I had last year) and a Hebrew sampler plate (which I didn’t), and was satisfied with the variety and quality of what I did eat.

Last year my pictures were smaller and more or less limited to the kendo club, so this year I’m going to post some more general pictures of the festival so that readers who’ve never been can get an idea of what it’s like:

The pavilion at Swope Park. This is the center of the festival and where the demonstration stage is set up.

Here were some Thai children, I believe, modeling some traditional costumes or doing a dance. Actually what was really going on was a parent was chasing a small child around the stage, who apparently didn’t really feel like being a celebrity that day.

My first stop after the demo was, of course, the pancake ball distributor. You can find some information on the Sons of Norway at their website, if you’re interested in such things.

These things take forever to make (if you’re waiting in line on a hot summer day), and they’re basically spheroid funnel cake type stuff, and maybe overpriced for what you get, but I recommend stopping by and getting a three pack of them. Raspberry sugar drink optional.

These sorts of cultural events are interesting for the way people come out to represent their folk or native land. Note that these aren’t “Laotians”, they are “the Hmong of Laos”. In the 1960s the CIA recruited Hmong tribes in the forests and mountains to fight against the communist government, as a sort of side action to the backdrop of the Vietnam War. And since we all know how American adventures in 1960s South East Asia ended up, this explains why this group is both here and pointing out the difference to an American public who otherwise isn’t likely to know. Remember, this is an ethnic festival, not a state festival.

Which of course doesn’t stop nationalist concerns from being present. Above is the Republic of China representatives. Known more commonly in the States as Taiwan, the ROC is more or less the last vestiges of the holdouts of the nationalists who fought against the communists, retreating from the mainland and holing up on the island province of Taiwan. There’s all sorts of interesting historical and political things going on here, but I won’t go further in depth.

A comfortable distance away was the Society for Friendship with China, representing the mainland People’s Republic of China. Largely Chinese people are ethnic Han (over 90% for both the PRC and the ROC), so what we’ve got here is basically one ethnicity with two booths split along state lines. Though it should be noted that there are scads of ethnic groups that comprise the idea of “Chinese”, the Han group is super dominant culturally, politically and, increasingly, linguistically.

The Scotland booth is disappointing unless you want to buy some meaty dinner. At least it is by Sunday, because I suppose it could be rocking on Fridays and Saturdays. For the enthnicities of the Isles, Scotland and Ireland were represented, but I did not see England or Wales there. Or any Manx or Cornish folk, either, but that’s to be expected, I guess.

Germany: blonde girls and sausages. Enough said.

Samoans were there representing. There were other Pacific island ethnic groups too, but the Samoans had the best application of thatching, so that’s the picture I kept.

And the Lithuanians brought their own castle! Close by, the Thai folk had an equally impressive construction for their booth, but the pictures didn’t turn out.

Jamaica, launching pad for some of the best dance music beats ever! Not into spicy food, though, so I didn’t see the reason to stand in what was the festival’s longest food line.

Probably the best food deal at the festival is the Israeli food sampler. I couldn’t tell you what it was I ate, but all of it was very good.

To finish off back where I started, here is the mighty torii of the JAS booth, along with the bloody great wind-sock that towers over the festival booths.

The Japanese are one of the ethnic groups that really have their stuff together when it comes to promoting themselves. The JAS always has a great variety of wares to purchase ranging from pop culture to traditional, an array of literature available on things like the JET Program, delicious food to eat and friendly people to chat with.

I don’t have pictures this year of the actual demo, but really, just look at last year’s. This year I took just a couple of “behind the scenes” photos of the kendo club after the demo. The JAS, of which several of the club including myself are members of, are always very good to the kendoka.

And some more milling around; chatting and putting away our gear, getting ready to wander the festival with our friends and families.

And finally there were these things. The festival is sponsored by a local communications service provider, so they had these weird cyborg beings rolling around the festival proffering terminals you could use to… I don’t know, really. They made me nervous, and this was as close as I would get to photograph one. You don’t want to antagonize cyborgs, because being part-human they have a natural blood-lust that you don’t want to accidentally awaken.

That’s all! I strongly encourage everyone who lives in the Greater Metro to go to one of these festivals, either as an attendant or as a volunteer for the cultural group of your choice. It’s a fun experience!


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Filed under Budo, Event, Folk, Kendo, Learning, Right Living, The Heathen Gods

The Big Catch-Up Blog

It’s been hectic. Yeah, verily. Getting my new laptop and then cleaning the house after the burglary and all that. Still finding things missing, but I figure I’m about 99% accounted for and moving on with my life. I’m almost halfway through the first term of the summer sessions, finally found all my software and installed it on the new laptop and have been living life at full speed again. Here is where I start catching back up with Romantic Antihero. I’ve been doing a lot of fun, positive things, I just haven’t been in a position to document it all. Cameras here, cell phones there, laptops who-knows-where and finagling new stuff to get it where I want it and all that. So this is going to be a mish-mash blog of cool stuff I’ve done, mostly in picture form.

This is the front of the Leavenworth Riverfront Community Center. Once a year there is a Veteran’s Administration ‘volunteer appreciation luncheon’, and as a VA volunteer I got invited. They give out awards for various things, and I’m pretty sure I worked over 100 hours (thus qualifying for a certificate), but I’m also pretty sure that I fail to turn in my hours quite a lot, so no certificate for me. I did get a neat key-chain and free lunch for myself and my father.

The food was good, which honestly surprised me, and the random company at our dinner table was pleasant. There were speeches I could hardly hear, and then a performance of a song that someone local wrote. It was very patriotic and fairly looong, though I always appreciate the sentiment that goes into such things.

Another random shot of people at the luncheon.

I tried, I really did, to get a better shot of the Leavenworth H.S. JROTC honor guard. There was a fair mix of people in the way, and by the time I could get to them with my camera this was the best I could do. Fun fact: this is the oldest Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps in the nation.

Once again I attended another fascinating General Meeting of the Kansas City chapter of the Japan-America Society. I was sure I had notes on my iPhone, but I can’t seem to find them right now, so I will have to fill in names and dates later if I can find them. But this was a great presentation on Japanese popular character design. Absolutely everything and everywhere in Japan has a mascot character, and as an industry it generates trillions of dollars a year. Trillions.

Leaving the JAS meeting and walking through the parking lot I hear this sinister mechanical voice. ‘Attention. You are being photographed for your own protection…’ What? I looked around expecting to see ED-209 or something, but finally identified the creepy robot-overlord voice as this box attached to the light pole. Which of course made me imagine this:

Of course it’s not the ever increasing presence of robot enforcers that worries. It’s their unseen nanite masters…

The week before the summer session at KU started I accompanied my parents down to Cairo, Georgia (KAY-roe, in the local vernacular, not like its namesake in Egypt), which is a charming little town that also happens to be where my paternal side of the family comes from. It was my father’s 50th high school reunion, and here he is in the lobby of the high school discussing where in the hell their trophies from the 1960’s got off to (Pa was a jock).

A lot of schools have generic nick-names that have nothing to do with the local community. Cairo is home to the Syrup Makers. Because making syrup was a local industry. It may still be, for all I know, but the point is I think it’s totally cool they have a name like that instead of some dumb thing like ‘Cairo Lions’ or ‘Cairo Tigers’ or ‘Cairo Bears’. Oh my. But anyway, this is an original syrup making rig assembled from different local historical pieces. There is a plaque on the shed saying where the parts come from, and while I was standing there some of the old guys were talking about watching some old guy walk a mule around one of these back when they were children. Behind where I was standing is the football stadium, and whenever a touchdown is scored fireworks are shot out of the chimney there, or so I was told. Neat.

My father and his youngest brother. It’s always good to go ‘down home’ and see family. I call it ‘down home’ even though I haven’t lived in that town, and haven’t been a resident of either Georgia or Alabama since I was five, but there it is, I guess it will always be ‘down home’ and Kansas will be ‘back home’. Life is complicated when you’re an Army brat.

If I am recalling the conversation correctly, this is the grave marker of my father’s grandfather. According to his birthdate he would have been around my age at the outbreak of the Civil War Mr. Lincoln’s War. The following artifact may have belonged to him:

This interesting artifact is in the possession of my uncle. It is a home-made plaque that was affixed over the door of a relative during the Civil War War of Southern Independence. It looks like it was made from a dog eared fence post, perhaps. There are three little holes on the bottom where it was nailed to the top of the door frame, and it looks like the design was poked with the tip of a small pocket knife or a nail. It was very cool to hold it and hear the story behind it. There was also an old family Bible with hand written birth and death records that was neat to look through. Pa claims there is a piece of paper somewhere in my grandmother’s things (she is deceased) that traces our family lineage all the way back to the Scots refugee who arrived in New York in the 18thCE fleeing from English retribution for ‘certain activities’ in the Borders region.

Time for some random stuff. This is my cat Bob. He lived on my parents roof before they moved out to the county. That was YEARS ago, and now he is a half deaf, fussy old codger of a feline. But also very sweet.

This is a ‘blue grass’ (wasn’t sure it fit, personally) band called Larry and His Flask, and they absolutely rock a live show. I just sort of happened into this show, mostly because I’m friends with people who work in the local music industry, and was bored with the people playing urban cowboy dress-up and posing attitudes when this band got up on stage and just made me forget how much I hate the hipster scene. They got up on stage and said, ‘We’re Larry and His Flask and we came here to dance, and I hope you did too!’ And boy were they not kidding. As soon as they music started the bass player, the STAND UP BASS player, grabs his instrument and jumps off the stage into the crowd and starts whirling around like a madman, playing his stand up bass the whole time. It was awesome, and they took turns jumping off stage and running around the venue while they played. And they were also very good.

I missed this tour, unfortunately, but it lives on in sticker form. Maybe I will get to see some ska greats when I’m in England next month.

Not a statue, though he’d like to think of himself as statue worthy. Just walking around KCMO in the middle of the night reflecting on life, breaking the seriousness of that with goofing off like we all used to before we got old…

This is a bust in the earth sciences building at KU. I took the photo because I thought it was totally weird that this guy’s nose was all shiney, and then found out the very next day that it’s touted as some sort of tradition to rub his nose before a test for good luck. My Geography professor claims she’s never seen a student do this, and proposed that only the tour groups do it. I never went on the tour, but after class I heard a tour group right outside the class talking about this supposed tradition.

I normally keep my gaming activities in the private area of the website, but this guy deserves some public mention for his epic heroism. This is the Bone Champion of the my Warhammer 40k army’s 2cnd Berserker squad. He had a rough day, but never let it get him down.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I expect to be making individual updates in the intended style soon.



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

Spring Cleaning at the Japanese Garden

I am a member of the Japan-America Society of Kansas City, and one of the things this organization supports is the Japanese Garden at Loose Park. On 3Apr10, a Saturday, I got up early and drove into KCMO to help out with a bit of tidying up from winter that the JAS was doing. Nothing spectacular, but just the sort of thing I like to share here. I mostly busied myself sweeping and stuffing leaves into bags, leaving the more detailed work for the folks who knew what they were doing. Stuff like this is great because I get to do community service and stay involved with my Japanese study theme and the other members of the JAS are friendly folks. We gathered and took a group photo (not the one here) that will be sent to the folks at Kansas City’s sister city in Japan, Kurashiki. So I’m part of international goodwill these days!

Anyway, I highly recommend that people check the garden out. The JAS was also involved in the planting of Loose Park’s cherry trees, which should be blooming very soon. On a related note, Independence Missouri is having a Cherry Blossom Festival this Sunday, 11Apr10 starting at 1000hrs. I wish I could go to that, but I’ve got prior obligations, so one of you should go and tell me all about it.


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Filed under Event, Folk, Learning, Right Living, The Heathen Gods

Spring Recruits 2010

Saturday, 27Mar10, I attended Recruits, a twice annual wargame convention held in the Kansas City area. I carpooled on over with my friends from my weekly game group and spent most of the time with them. The event is hosted by a local high school that has a wargame club that uses the event as a fund raiser. I’ve heard these kids can even letter in gaming, which is very neat.

The man in the orange “10th Cavalry” shirt is my friend Mike. The move to war gaming is something that’s recent for me (I’m an RPG guy) and Mike is helping me to round out my army. Here he is playing Flames of War, using WWII German armor to assault into a well dug-in British mechanized unit. He had won his first game, but I didn’t get to stick around long enough to see how he fared in this one.

Here are my friends Jon and Damon during our G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. game. It’s skirmish based game with simple rules, and the setting is pretty cool. It’s a tongue-in-cheek Victorian era setting, which appeals to me greatly, and the game is based on the different factions having objectives. So it wasn’t an all out war of slaughter, and my faction, the “British Scientist” faction, hunted for a rare butterfly and assisted the “Waziri Tribesmen” in resisting the “Arab Slavers”. I caught my butterfly, but too many of the tribesmen were captured to earn my secondary goal. The other faction ally, “Tarzan and family” were tied up in a brawl with the “Russian Explorers”, and could neither help us nor stop the “Russian Trophy Hunters” from shooting all the gorillas. It was great fun!

I spent some of the time playing games with my friends and the other part walking around by myself. I am collecting my own Warhammer 40k army, but I haven’t actually played a game yet, so I wanted to see a game in action. I also wanted to check out the other players models and paint jobs. There were a couple of armies that stood out with great paint, but most of them were mixtures of paint, primer and bare plastic models. I also enjoyed checking out the other Chaos Marine players and looking at how the assembled their models. I like Chaos Marines mostly for the models and enjoy the customization aspect that they lend themselves to.

We had been tasked with keeping our friend Damon at the convention until about 1730, because his wife was arranging a surprise birthday party for him. This picture is his Pac Man cake, which had a “child related mishap” before the party started. It was a nice party, and I regret that the lighting in the house seemed to be strategically positioned to make photographs difficult to take. A lot of what would have been good pictures turned out to look like that scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind where the aliens are first coming out of the space ship, all extreme back-lighting and unrecognizable. But the food was good, the conversation was good and the times were good.

As usual, I have more pictures from the day available on my Myspace albums here. The whole day was fun, but my feet and back were more than ready for bed when I got home around 2200!


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Filed under Event, Folk, Hobby, Right Living, The Heathen Gods