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Croatian cellists Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, collectively known as 2Cellos, have released their take on The Show Must Go On for the 25th anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s death. They continually amaze me with their passion, deliciously mad creativity, and the new ways they find to use their instruments.

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Tonight while driving home I heard this song and was struck by its message. Let the past go… you don’t live there anymore. Walk into the new life being given to you.

I suspect that I’m not the only person who’ll be encouraged by this tonight. In Christ you are a new creation, a child of the Most High, and He wants His best for you.

You are good enough because of His grace. What happened before doesn’t matter. What you’ve done is forgiven. What matters now is that you trust Him enough to start to live again… and step into the amazing future He’s been planning for you since before you were born.

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Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. –C.S. Lewis

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

 

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On a recent Saturday a friend and I decided to visit the Jimi Hendrix Memorial in Renton, Washington. Hendrix was a Seattle native who was originally buried in a simple grave in Greenwood Memorial Park following his death in 1970. More recently he was moved to this amazing site which is a fitting tribute to a musical genius.

The marble used is stunning, as is the domed design.

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The lyrics to Voodoo Child.

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There is a polished sundial and the stones around the memorial look like they belong on a concert stage.

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Inside the memorial the panels are covered with lipstick. Germs! It’s also probably not good for the stone either.

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I wondered if this was his original grave marker. He was so young. I don’t have any love for the lifestyle that took him so early on, but he was a pioneer and a true artist who paved the way for future innovations.

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Other Hendrix relatives are buried here as well.

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Hendrix had a tumultuous upbringing and a lot of turmoil in his short life. He died before I was born but his music has always been a part of my life.

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It’s funny how most people love the dead, once you’re dead, you’re made for life. -Jimi Hendrix

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Seattle Highland Games 2015 1

Every July in Enumclaw, Washington, near the southern border of King County, a fabulous festival is held at the old fairgrounds. There is something for everyone– all genres of Celtic music from the traditional to modern Celtic rock, athletic events, food, a kennel show, livestock, clan booths, lectures, processions, pipe and drum competitions, dancers, and dramas that showcase real weapons.

Bellingham, Tacoma (Graham), Skagit County, Whidbey Island, Prosser, Kelso, and Spokane all have similar events during the late spring and summer that are worth attending. The 69th Annual Pacific Northwest Highland Games and Clan Gathering can easily attract 25,000 to 30,000 people because of its rich offerings. You don’t have to be Scottish to attend– as on St. Patrick’s Day when everyone is Irish, here everyone is at least a little Scottish (the Welsh always have a booth too). And keep in mind that not everyone who is Scottish is white– Scottish descendants come in all shades and sizes.

There are always certain dignitaries present at these events. During the formal kickoff of the games midday, they are introduced and a benediction is given. Seattle Highland Games 2015 2

These formalities are followed by a procession of the clans in alphabetical order followed by the traditional dog breeds featured in the kennel show. Here, Clan Buchanan takes to the green (which was pretty crispy looking after an unusually hot summer lacking any meaningful rain).

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Note the leather shields and weaponry. It’s refreshing to be in open carry sword territory.

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Mr. and Mrs. Nessie accompany the Seattle Genealogical Society. Later I found them posing for photos near the entrance to one of the exhibit halls. Normally elusive, they know they’re among friends at the games.

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The Corgis– a favorite of the Queen of England– are one of many Celtic breeds strutting their stuff.

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The 79th New York Cameron Highlanders are a fixture at such events and provide a three-volley salute at the opening ceremonies. Everything at their encampment is meant to appear authentic, so if you blocked out the surrounding tents, you’d suddenly find yourself in another century.

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From the modern to the ancient, all manner of wares are sold here. Yes, you too can own a cannon and use it to jolt your oblivious neighbors back to reality next time they have a large crowd singing drunken karaoke classics of the ’80s until midnight.

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The Romans made an appearance for the first time. They occupied Britain for hundreds of years and are a huge part of our history. Arthur himself may have been at least part Roman. One of my clan names has Latin roots.Seattle Highland Games 2015 9

Our Viking brethren camp out with the clans and remind us of the other large invasion that integrated itself into the local culture and gene pool.

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The Scottish Court. I remembered to curtsy after taking the photo.

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There are always traditional Highland animals on hand, such as sheep, cattle, and ponies. This mama cow and calf were interested in all the people wanting to pet them, but mama’s horns easily clanged against the metal fencing, unintentionally startling many.

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Do you know the caber toss? The crowds get very involved with this event. The caber is a pole nearly 20 feet long that weighs 175 pounds or so. Competitors must pick it up and toss it so that it flips end to end, trying to achieve the straightest toss possible. You should see the size of some of these guys. The announcers made the athletic events especially entertaining this year (what was that about the guy from Baton Rouge and The Waterboy?).

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Looking over the grandstands to the south. The weather would be hot, then cold, then sprinkle, then burst out in sunshine. We were putting our jackets on and taking them off so often we must have looked like a flash mob doing some sort of routine.

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More big burly men in kilts. This weight throw event seemed to be populated by Stone Cold Steve Austin lookalikes with one supersized Guy Fieri-esque contender. The ball and chain they are throwing weighs well upwards of 50 pounds– and these guys could throw.

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What’s a Scottish event without a good weapons cache? This is one of many vendors at the games.

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An indoor stage.

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This fine chap attends every year. This time he was accompanied by a Scottie that evidently didn’t mind his blaring bagpipes.

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One of the many bands competing at the games, the Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band, who received several awards.

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Pirates beware: your curly fries are a hot commodity.

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Each clan booth has its own decor and insignia. If you’re from that or an associated clan, you can hang out at their booth like family… because you are.

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There were many beautiful dogs here, among them Gordon Setters. You can stop and pet each breed. Some handlers even keep a dog up on a table for easy access.

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Bagpiping isn’t just a man’s game. Pipers and drummers are male and female, young and old.

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Here CJ Henderson, Aaron Shaw, and Tiki King of the Wicked Tinkers rouse the crowd with their high energy Tribal Celtic madness. At first glance you might wonder what a didgeridoo is doing among kilts, but this Aboriginal alpenhorn and its Bronze Age cousin make this group.

Henderson can do things with a didgeridoo that I didn’t know a didgeridoo was designed to do. He and his enviable circular breathing can turn the didge into a beat box, brass band, 2000-foot deep beluga, bass clarion, and a bevy of other functions. He also used it to poke the awning above to drain off pooled water, cheering loudly along with the audience as he found yet another use for his caber-like companion.

These guys sing, play multiple instruments, banter, and even parade off and on the stage during performances. Henderson also plays a mean bodhran, and Shaw is like the Slash of pipe players.

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This might look easy. It’s not. These women are competing in the sheaf toss, which means securing a 10-pound burlap bag on a pitchfork, then tossing it behind you in an effort to clear a bar that can be set 20-something feet high. One world record was nearly set today– the woman in that class was nearing 30 feet.

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Tent art.

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Why not pick up a shield for the kids? They can be used for fighting, sledding, home defense, fort building, serving meals, and when not in use, as bedroom decor.

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At the closing ceremonies, all the pipe bands come together on the main lawn and march to the grandstands. It really is like seeing an army assembled.

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The master of ceremonies announces the results of the weekend’s competitions.

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The musicians march forward as they play in unison. If you’ve never heard hundreds of bagpipers at once, you need to. Put it on your bucket list. It will rouse your Scottish blood something fierce. Note the looming clouds to the north.

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The Scottish American Military Society folds our flags.

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See the menacing cloud lowering itself to the left? This is why the emcee told the audience he was going to hurry. I also hoped that the doves that were just released would hurry home because there were at least three eagles soaring on updrafts close by. Go doves, go!

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All pipers and drummers 10 years of age and younger were called forward to be recognized. Seattle Highland Games 2015 33

Almost done… fists in the air like you just don’t care… WHOOO….

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Just as the bands retreated, the floodgates of heaven opened. Even the bumbershoots were Scottish on this day.Seattle Highland Games 2015 35

Despite the torrential rain and thunder, this merry band of competitors found an available shelter and continued to play and cheer.

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The fairgrounds emptied quickly. We were soaked to the skin in about two minutes.

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These two gentlemen were among the last off the lawn as they sprinted for shelter.

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Next year will be the 70th Annual Pacific Northwest Highland Games and Clan Gathering. This year it cost $17 per adult per day and $12 per child over five. The two-day passes are a better deal. Admission is cash only, so if you didn’t bring enough, the onsite ATM charges nasty little fees. Parking costs about $5; many homeowners across the street and the hotel down the block offer parking spots.

There is a beer garden and pubs, and some performers, in the Celtic tradition, emphasize the importance of drink, so us nondrinkers might not find that appealing. But there is more than enough for both adults and children to do otherwise.

Given the caliber of the musicians performing, speakers, and athletes competing, it is well worth your dime, and you get get to be among your brethren as well. You can see this year’s schedule, showcasing the variety of events, here.

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For that is the mark of the Scots of all classes: that he stands in an attitude towards the past unthinkable to Englishmen, and remembers and cherishes the memory of his forebears, good or bad; and there burns alive in him a sense of identity with the dead even to the twentieth generation. -Robert Louis Stevenson

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©2015 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Robert Burns

Originally posted January 25th, 2014.

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January 25th is Burns Night. Those inclined toward arson shouldn’t get too excited; it’s actually a holiday that celebrates Scotland’s most renowned poet. 

Scotland.org – Burns Night

Robert Burns lived just 37 years but in that time is said to have written or revised 559 poems and songs. A passionate man, he also fathered at least a dozen children, not all with his wife, the last of whom was born the day of his funeral.

Burns’ observations on the lives and feelings of the common man eventually endeared him to all classes of society. He was forthright and relatable, and his burning love for his country made him an icon of Scottish nationalism. But it’s not just the Scots who praise young Rabbie Burns; he has been immensely popular in other countries as well as evidenced by tributes from Sydney to Stanley Park to St. Petersburg.

Burns Night will be celebrated around the globe and many parties will involve Scottish music, dress, and traditions. A favorite Burns Night ritual is the recitation of his Address to a Haggis before the haggis is eaten:

If you don’t know haggis, you might not want to– it’s sheep organs with oatmeal, onions, spices, and suet boiled in the sheep’s stomach. Some adore its rich, spicy taste; others of us are fine with fake (vegan) haggis. 

Here in the Northwest, we’ve taken great liberties with the holiday, with some celebrating Gung Haggis Fat Choy. That’s a combination of Burns Night and the Chinese New Year, a strange mishmash that began in Vancouver about 20 years ago. Today is the 255th birthday of the Bard of Scotland– he was born in 1759– and in true weird wet weather fashion the Seattle celebration is being held the day before Presidents Day.

Others, however, stick with more traditional timing and traditions. There will be Burns Night celebrations on Mercer Island and in Mountlake Terrace tonight, cities on either side of Seattle. The Canadians love Burns Night, so they will be partying along with many in the UK, Australia, and America.

Burns is a rock star in Russia as well– many Burns Night dinners have been happening there this weekend. Some love the smell of haggis in Kiev. When Burns was translated into Russian during the days of Imperial Russia, common folk felt a kinship with him and honor him to this day. счастливые ожоги ночь! (that’s a literal translation, but hey, I tried).

The largest Burns Night Supper to date happened in 2009:

To celebrate the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns birth in 2009, more than 3,900 Burns Suppers in more than 80 countries were joined together to make the ‘The World Famous Burns Supper’ celebration.

From MacSween, Burns Night FAQs.

Even if you don’t want to get your tartan on and revel in a reading of Burns’ poetry tonight, you can easily find his writings online. One of my favorites is also one of his shortest musings:

The Book-Worms (1787)

Through and through th’ inspir’d leaves, 
Ye maggots, make your windings; 
But O respect his lordship’s taste, 
And spare his golden bindings.

Along with Auld Lang Syne, Burns’ Robert Bruce’s March to Bannockburn from 1793 is one of his better known literary triumphs, known to most as Scots Wha Hae:

Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled, 
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led, 
Welcome to your gory bed, 
Or to Victorie! 

Now’s the day, and now’s the hour; 
See the front o’ battle lour; 
See approach proud Edward’s power- 
Chains and Slaverie! 

Wha will be a traitor knave? 
Wha can fill a coward’s grave? 
Wha sae base as be a Slave? 
Let him turn and flee! 

Wha, for Scotland’s King and Law, 
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw, 
Free-man stand, or Free-man fa’, 
Let him on wi’ me! 

By Oppression’s woes and pains! 
By your Sons in servile chains! 
We will drain our dearest veins, 
But they shall be free! 

Lay the proud Usurpers low! 
Tyrants fall in every foe! 
Liberty’s in every blow!- 
Let us Do or Die!

Burns wrote in Scots. You can find the English and Scottish Gaelic translations of this poem here.

Feel free to browse more of Burns’ works at the Burns Country site, where they’ve posted his complete works. In his short and challenging life, Burns wouldn’t know that allowing his mind to spill over onto paper would be cause for celebration more than two and a half centuries after his death. His spontaneity and creativity still makes Scottish blood boil with pride and unites various cultures in the name of brotherhood and the love of a good trope with their tripe.

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Thus bold, independent, unconquer’d, and free,

Her bright course of glory for ever shall run:

For brave Caledonia immortal must be…

-Robert Burns, 1789

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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When pondering what New Year’s related song I could post here, I considered Bing Crosby’s Let’s Start the New Year Right and the playful video I featured in last year’s post.

But more than anything else that came to mind, Matisyahu’s Live Like a Warrior encapsulates what I wish for others in the New Year. Please join me in cranking up the video above and letting yesterday burn in the fire.

While I always wish for hope, peace, truth, justice, and for people to come as they are to the Savior, this year I specifically want people to find the freedom to be themselves. Too many of us, for far too long, have lived within the prison walls of how other people want us to define our lives, or act, or speak, or dress. It’s time to break those chains and start living out loud as the unique, beloved, talented children of the Creator that we really are.

If I want to eat cornflakes at midnight dressed in a Spongebob Snuggie while watching ’60s Godzilla movies, I’m going to do it. Well, maybe I already do. But more than that, I want us all to be tired of toiling in the shade of jobs that don’t utilize our abilities, in unnecessary relationships that sap our sanity, and simply existing in a world that instead needs passionate warriors to beat back the rising tide of hatred and evil.

It’s time to be who we really are, people. You know full well that there is a dream inside you, a seed planted by the One Who made you and knows you, waiting to spring out into the light. It isn’t just a fantasy. It is a spark waiting to be fanned into an inferno. You are more than your past. You are more than your present. You’ve been purposely placed here now, at this time, to do the most good you can do in the time that you have with the gifts that you have been given.

As Marcus Aurelius said, what we do now… echoes in eternity. This new year, my prayer is that we all wake up from our slumber and come alive like never before, daring to accomplish mighty feats that others think are just plain crazy. Let’s stop worrying about what other flawed human beings think and start growing into our true selves as the Creator intended. When you look back, do you really want to say that you spent your time on earth in safe mode, or in OH YEAH! BRING IT ON! mode?

Dance when you want to dance. Sing when you want to sing. Love with reckless abandon, take a stand for justice, defend the poor and oppressed. Do that thing that only you can do. And someday, a long time from now, in another place, we’ll look back and celebrate the day that each of us decided to shed our scaly cloaks of human opinion and started letting our true selves shine. God never intended you to pretend to be less than you really are.

Live like a warrior.

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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The Maccabeats have done it again! Here’s their new Hanukkah song All About That Nais. That strange word is explained in the preface to the video.

The original song is a crude homage to womanly figures and I love that the gentlemen from Yeshiva have once again morphed a party song into a memorable holiday tune. I remain a huge fan of their original Hanukkah hit Candlelight and their other remakes like Burn and (Ellie Goulding) and Miracle (Matisyahu) as well as original songs like Shine.

Really, it’s The Maccabeats who brought Hanukkah songs to mainstream pop; before them, the only mainstream Hanukkah song I can think of was Adam Sandler’s, and that came out 20 years ago. Just today a coworker and I were singing along in emphatic Sandler-speak: Tell your friend Veronica… it’s time to celebrate Chanukah…

In a world where popular music consists largely of mediocre acts lauded for their “talent” because of how lewd or controversial they are, The Maccabeats are refreshing. Their music speaks of love, hope, and overcoming darkness. They’re a bunch of guys having a blast singing their hearts out and celebrating who they are in front of the world. While no one will ever give me a recording contract, it’s uplifting groups like this that encourage me to keep being a rock star in the privacy of my own vehicle.

As evidenced by current events all over the globe, antisemitism is cool again. I applaud The Maccabeats for being so open and positive about their heritage in the midst of this gathering darkness towards Israel and her people. They are ambassadors for a group that has been relentlessly persecuted for thousands of years, and their survival in itself is a miracle.

So, guys, when are you going to collaborate with Avi Kaplan, who recorded his own take on this song as an actual bass? Rumor has it he’s game…

Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends (it begins next Tuesday), and we Christians should not forget that our own salvation, celebrated this December 25th, came in the form of a Jewish carpenter.

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The man just opened his mouth, which meant that all kinds of secret doors in his body gave way. He did not sing so much as let his soul free. -Ray Bradbury

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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