This weekend brought me to Charlotte. 

Their website is ten years out of date, apparently, and it’s much too uptown to be a Viking bar. The axe was rubber and the clientele were whatever you call yuppies these days. About what you’d expect from a city. 

National Beer Day

 Today is also National Beer Day. I guess it is only fitting that I post some appropriate music for this important holiday. 

Good Friday Music

 W.A.S.P. was one of the more outrageous heavy metal acts of the '80s. In fact, the PMRC listed one of their songs amongst the "Filthy Fifteen."  No one in the band was more outrageous than its frontman, Blackie Lawless.  However, a number of years ago Blackie Lawless reconnected with the Christian faith of his youth.  Since then, Christian themes have featured prominently in the band's lyrics. W.A.S.P.'s last album was the 2015 release, Golgotha. The song below is one of my favorite from that album and particularly appropriate for today.

Declaration of Arbroath

Todays date was chosen for National Tartan Day because it was the date of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in the year of our Lord 1320. 

From these countless evils, with His help who afterwards soothes and heals wounds, we are freed by our tireless leader, king, and master, Lord Robert, who like another Maccabaeus or Joshua, underwent toil and tiredness, hunger and danger with a light spirit in order to free the people and his inheritance from the hands of his enemies. And now, the divine Will, our just laws and customs, which we will defend to the death, the right of succession and the due consent and assent of all of us have made him our leader and our king. To this man, inasmuch as he saved our people, and for upholding our freedom, we are bound by right as much as by his merits, and choose to follow him in all that he does.

But if he should cease from these beginnings, wishing to give us or our kingdom to the English or the king of the English, we would immediately take steps to drive him out as the enemy and the subverter of his own rights and ours, and install another King who would make good our defence. Because, while a hundred of us remain alive, we will not submit in the slightest measure, to the domination of the English. We do not fight for honour, riches, or glory, but for freedom alone, which no true man gives up but with his life.

Emphasis added.  

National Tartan Day III: Firefighters

There have been several tartans designed for firefighters, mostly for pipe and drum bands associated with fire departments. Sadly, their duties are normally at funeral services. 

Here are a few, either universal or local to North Carolina.

Firefighter Memorial Tartan designed by Kelly Stewart, who notes: "Lastly, the three red lines in the middle of each square are 3 red threads, 4 red threads and three red threads - representing the 343 NYFD firefighters who lost their lives on 11th September 2001 - the largest number of firefighters who ever perished in a single day in the history of the United States."

National Tartan Day II: Military Issue

The weaving of plaid is prehistoric in Scotland and Ireland, apparently following patterns that were specific to localities only because particular families knew how to weave them. The use of symmetrical "tartan" to identify a particular clan is 19th century, and was part of the industrial effort to systematize the Highlands. It probably grew out of the use of such tartans to create military uniforms, famously including the Black Watch, a loyal-to-the-government-in-England unit that patrolled the highlands against rebels and their ilk.

US Marine Corps "Leatherneck" Tartan (Unofficial)

There are very many military tartans, too many for a useable post. After the jump, I will put up some of them, but only for the American military. I will not include the Confederate military, though it is officially considered part of the American military by Federal law; they had several, as you might imagine given the heavy Scottish highlander ancestry in the Appalachians, especially North Carolina, which provided more combatants than any other state in that conflict. I will only include current-service US military units.

I will also not include veterans' associations, such as the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, purely for the sake of brevity. There are lots of those too. 

National Tartan Day

It's National Tartan Day, the annual celebration of Scottish heritage. Many states have registered district tartans that residents can wear, including both the state in which I was born and the state in which I currently reside. 

The Carolina District Tartan

Georgia District Tartan

Scenes from Western North Carolina

I met this gentleman, whose name is Jim, along with his daughter Dakota and his granddaughter (who is 7 and introduced me to her puppy). The horses were Frank and Jesse James, Frank being the one who was blind in the right eye. My son and I were out on the motorcycles, and met him on a mountain road. He offered us another kind of ride, which of course I took. He's a cool old character: blacksmith, farrier, and rebuilder of classic muscle cars. He took us over to his barn and showed us some of his collection.

Below the fold, some video from the fire scene the other night (taken after the fire was out).


It is an honor to once again join this august group of bloggers. To commemorate this auspicious event, I would like to introduce you to a favorite band of mine. Wytch Hazel is a band from Lancaster, England. Their sound is heavily influenced by bands like Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, and Iron Maiden. Their lyrics center on Christian themes. They describe themselves in the following way: 

"In the parallel universe where the New Wave of British Heavy Metal happened 600 years early, WYTCH HAZEL are the band of choice for the discerning Plantagenet headbanger."

They had me at Plantagenet headbanger. 

The first song is from their upcoming album, "Sacrament," out on 2 June. The other two songs are from their previous album, "Pentecost."


The NC legislature will now be able to override vetos from our rotten governor whenever they want

The Sword

The Sword is one of my favorite bands, founded on a retro style that looks back to 1982's Conan the Barbarian and its inspirations in hard rock and early metal. I think I've posted that song before, as it encompasses Norse style ritual cursing.

This one is a laid back piece, but try this one too:

And this one:

You get a lot of country music, Western music, and roots Americana on this blog, but that's not all we do around here.

Appalachian State Wage Discrimination

This appears to be a clear violation of Federal law, if the facts as presented in the article hold up on examination. It's 'for a good reason' and 'on the right side,' though, so who knows if anything will be done about it?

"Pagan's Progress"

In a review of "Prince" Harry's autobiography -- I assume he at least participated in editing it -- Dominic Green identifies the young man as one of his generation: "Not religious, he seeks enlightenment like a typical millennial: via drugs and meditation."
Harry has said he’s “not religious,” but he is spiritual. Christianity leaves him cold, but he pursues enlightenment with a zeal that would have warmed the heart of a Puritan divine. He travels this path alone, guided by drugs, spirit animals sent by his late mother, Diana, and daily yoga and meditation....

At around 15, Harry experienced a ritual induction into manhood. Guided by Sandy, a family retainer, he shot a stag. Sandy slit the dying animal’s throat and belly and told Harry to kneel.... Sandy pushed Harry’s head inside the carcass and held it there. “After a minute I couldn’t smell anything, because I couldn’t breathe. My nose and mouth were full of blood, guts, and a deep, upsetting warmth.”

“So this,” Harry tells himself, “is death.” Yet he’s ecstatic. “I wasn’t religious,” Harry writes, “but this ‘blood facial’ was, to me, baptismal.” Finally, he has lived the “virtues” that had been “preached” to him since childhood. Culling the herd is being “good to Nature” and “good to the community.” Managing nature is “a form of worship,” and environmentalism is “a kind of religion” for his father. For the first time Harry feels “close to God.”

This reminds me of another insight of GKC's: 

The only objection to Natural Religion is that somehow it always becomes unnatural. A man loves Nature in the morning for her innocence and amiability, and at nightfall, if he is loving her still, it is for her darkness and her cruelty. He washes at dawn in clear water as did the Wise Man of the Stoics, yet, somehow at the dark end of the day, he is bathing in hot bull's blood, as did Julian the Apostate.

The thing about being an apostate from the Church of England is that there's no peril in it. You can be a witch or a druid without fear in the lands consecrated to the Church of England; you can be a witch or a druid without ever leaving the Church of England. It's an easy faith, whether ardently beloved or rejected. It hunts no heresies and no heretics. 

I'm reading currently a very similar book, though, by a young Muslim woman who has adopted a similar path to rethinking Islam. I'm struck by how similar the paths are: she speaks of studying other religions for syncretic purposes, seeking wisdom from Native American elders, becoming a witch, taking magic mushrooms to appreciate the mind of God. Their paths are unique -- there is no room for orthodoxy in the religion of the youth, which every man or woman makes up for himself or herself -- but they are not dissimilar. 

Yet she is to be praised in a way that he is not to be, because what she is doing requires real courage. Even though she lives in America and is relatively buffered from the perils, that buffer is in no way absolute. It takes a brave woman to try to live an Islam that incorporates witchcraft; it takes genuine courage to publish a book about doing so. 

One mourns for Harry, who was once a soldier who knew virtues and courage. Not so for her, who is living such things even now. It is strange, really, how such similar paths can be so essentially different. 

Smoke on the Water

Another big wildfire yesterday during the heavy winds we were warned about in the weather report. That's two in a week. It was down on one of the lakes used for hydropower, so there was equipment and fuel and facilities endangered. We were pretty worn out by the end of it.

I'll try to get some rest and be back to normal next week.

April 9th

Having mostly learned the history of WW II from the American perspective of the expected final victory, movies like April 9th, about Danish soldiers tasked with delaying the German invasion in 1940, or Uprising, about the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising, give me the very different perspective of the good guys losing.

In April 9th, a Danish platoon of bicycle infantry is tasked with holding off an invading column of German motorized infantry until reinforcements can arrive. 

It does not work out that way, of course. The bicycle versus the armored car is a fitting metaphor for the fighting that ensues, but the actions and character of 2LT Sand drive the story. He is repeatedly given questionable orders, faced with setbacks and shortages, and forced to fall back, and fall back, and fall back. Sand is an honorable man who must balance his duty to follow orders with doing what he believes is the best thing, and he must handle the tension of men vs mission when the mission seems increasingly impossible.

I found the movie compelling, but I'm interested in this kind of story. It only has a rating of 6.6 out of 10 on IMDb, so apparently it's not to everyone's taste.

It is free on Amazon Prime right now, if you are interested.

Addition, 4/2/23: I guess to make the review complete I should address some other film aspects. I'll put these below the fold, and there are some slight spoilers.