My Summer Weekend-Memorial Day

In the United States Memorial Day is generally seen as the start of Summer. Schools are close to letting out, vacation-time nears, and public pools open up. It may not be the Summer Solstice this weekend, but culturally it feels like Summer time, which for me means a three day weekend and even (probably) a break from writing and blogging.

Several years ago I tried to get my on-line friends to engage in an exercise I called My Summer Weekend. I want to know what my friends are reading, watching, eating, and listening to, and holiday weekends (especially in the summer) have always felt like a good time to check in on those things. While what I’m doing is how this post starts, I hope that you’ll share your weekend activities with all of us too. (How will I know what to read later this summer if you don’t?)

READING: I’ve got a lot on the reading agenda this weekend, and it should be a pleasurable mix of research, rock, and recreation. First up is Radical Religion in America: Millenarian Movements from the Far Right to the Children of Noah (Religion and Politics) by Jeffrey Kaplan. I enjoy reading about most religious movements, but I picked this book up specifically to read the chapter dealing with the Asatru Folk Assembly. How am I ever going to write a “Ten Important Heathens” column without doing a little research? I’m really looking forward to this.

As soon as I heard about it I knew I would be picking up Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal by Jon Wiederhorn and Katherine Turman. A book on the history of heavy metal as told by the people who make up the world of heavy metal? What am I? Made of stone? I’m not a huge fan of the “oral history” genre, but this book has generally gotten good reviews and we are dealing with the soundtrack of my youth gone wild years.

I read comic-books, most specifically graphic-novels, not obsessively or anything, but I pick up a few titles here and there. For much of the last few years Fables has been my “go to” title, but it’s recently been replaced by Scott Snyder’s terrific American Vampire. When I found out that Snyder was writing Batman that too became must-read. Snyder’s first volume in his Court of Owls storyline was the best Batman I’ve read in years and Greg Capullo’s pencils are an interesting hybrid of grittiness and pure superhero triumph. Luckily for me there are two more volumes in the collected story and I’m hoping most of this Saturday is dedicated to reading Batman: The Night of the Owls.

If that wasn’t enough to read, I picked up A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley by Neal Thompson yesterday. I hope my wife won’t mind a visit to the Ripley’s Believe it Or Not Museum on Fisherman’s Wharf (San Francisco) when I’m done with it.

WATCHING: Sundays are TV nights at our house, and are usually dedicated to Game of Thrones and Mad Men (and The Walking Dead when it’s on). I think my wife is a little more into Mad Men at this point (Don Draper has become nearly villainous this season), while I’m a full-on George R.R. Martin geek. I expected a big break in momentum when GoT announced that they would be splitting A Storm of Swords (the third book in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire) in half, essentially running it in Seasons Three and Four, but I probably shouldn’t have worried. The casting in this show has been near perfect, and the adaptation choices have been mostly to my liking. I do want to see more Davos Seaworth though (yay Onion Knight!).

In addition to my two favorite drams on television, I’ll also be checking in on the NHL and NBA Playoffs. Let’s hope for the sake of my fragile psyche that the Pittsburgh Penguins get it together and skate into the Eastern Conference Finals. Speaking of Eastern Conferences, I’d be pleased as punch if the Indiana Pacers figure out a way to slip past the Goliath-like Miami Heat.

If we hit a movie theatre this weekend it’ll probably be to see Epic, a CGI sword and sorcery tale. I’m a little burned out on Hangovers at this point and there’s no way my wife (or anyone else I know out here in California) will consent to see The Fast and Furious 6 with me.

LISTENING: This friday I’m heading down to lovely Santa Cruz California to see the band Blood Ceremony. I’m a sucker for Black Sabbath-like heavy riffs mixed with organ, flute, and female vocals, that Blood Ceremony has released two songs about the god Pan is the icing on the heavy metal cake. I tried to get in touch with them about a little interview or something, but no dice. Their loss I guess, but I’m still excited to see the band. They’ve got a new album coing out May 28 (The Eldritch Dark), feel free to offer up condolences to the wife now.

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Goodbye Gemini by Blood Ceremony

My wife ran into the band The Orange Peels on NPR the other day and said to me “find their Sun Moon album for me or I’m cutting off your cider supply.” I might have exaggerated there at the end, but she was pretty adamant. She shouldn’t have worried, I love shimmering power-pop too, and the group’s from right here in Sunnyvale California, double bonus.

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The Words Don’t Work-The Orange Peels

DOING: I’m planning some ritualizing this Saturday, but I’m also going to set aside a few moments to remember those who sacrificed their lives for the greater good of us all. I think the meaning of Memorial Day often gets lost over the long weekend, and it is about more than the start of summer and backyard barbecues. Light a candle and say a prayer to the brave fighting women and men who have lost their lives in service to our country (or your country for those of you outside the United States).

EATING and DRINKING: I’m sure I’ll be firing up the grill this weekend, but what I’m really excited about this weekend are my cheesy potatoes. My cheesy potatoes have become famous at many a Pagan gathering and with good reason, they are delicious. There’s no real secret to making good cheesy potatoes, you just have to be generous with the cheese and sour cream. Cheddar melted with some American (fake) cheese works best; the American cheese has a lot of butterfat in it and helps absorb the oil that comes from cheddar. The cheddar is what provides the flavor. I suggest mixing up a good cheese sauce first and then pouring that mixture over you potatoes (I prefer fingerlings), then bake at a high temperature for a good hour, stirring occasionally. Simple as that.

On the more healthy side of things I’ve become obsessed with tangelos lately, so sweet and juicy. Blueberry season has begun out here too, and there’s no better dessert in the world than some blueberries topped with a little bit of whipped cream. I could eat that for days on end.

Angry Orchard has just released a new Elderflower Cider in time for the summer. So far I’ve only been able to find it in “variety packs” but I’m going to keep my eyes open for the elusive six pack. If I can find a travelling companion I might head down to Rabbit’s Foot Meadery sometime this weekend. Great mead, great ciders, and most of the regulars dress like they’ve just come from the Renaissance Faire. I love this place.

That’s it, that’s my holiday weekend. Blessed Memorial Day and Blessed Start to Summer.

About Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey has been involved with Paganism for the last twenty years, and has spent the last ten of those years as a speaker, writer, and High Priest. Jason can often be found lecturing on the Pagan Festival circuit, so you might just bump into him. When not reading and researching Pagan history he likes to crank up the Led Zeppelin, do rituals in honor of Jim Morrison (of The Doors), and sing numerous praises to Pan, Dionysus, and Aphrodite. He lives in Sunnyvale CA with his wife Ari and two hyper-kinetic cats.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    Reading

    Just read Max Brooks’ “Closure Limited (& Other Stories)”, which is always good. Reading Simon R. Green’s “Ghost Finders” series of books (in preparation for the upcoming movie), have “The Once & Future King” sat waiting, will also be rereading Beowulf again before too long (I like to read it every six months or so)

    For reference, I have a list of books as long as my arm to read, from things like Stephen Pollington’s “The Elder Gods” to Varg Vikernes’ “Sorcery and Religion in Ancient Scandinavia”, by way of a collection of the Icelandic Sagas.

    Watching

    I am waiting for a few movies this year. There is “Judas Ghost” (afore mentioned movie based on Simon R. Green’s work), “World War Z” (based on Max Brooks’ work), “Riddick” (sequel to “Pitch Black” and “Chronicles of Riddick”) and who could forget “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is out at the end of the year?

    I am looking forward to Judas Ghost and Riddick, curious about The Hobbit 2 and have heard some bad things about WWZ.

    Listening

    I am getting My Dying Bride’s latest EP, “The Manuscript” as soon as I can. (It’s been out for a few weeks, but I’ve been skint.)

    I am eagerly waiting for The Elder Tree’s debut album to be released. Should be some time this year but, as it is a side project (it is a folk band by members of the English Heritage Black Metal band, “Winterfylleth”), it may be delayed.

    I have tickets to go see Wardruna in London this October. That will be good.

    Doing

    Recently got back from a bushcraft course, so will be doing more of that, including heading to a bushcraft festival/show. Getting the family joined up with a local canoe club, so will be getting back into a kayak (used to do it as a teen, then found girls. Now too old for girls, so getting back into actual healthy stuff).

    In September, I will hopefully be going back to college for re-education – I am trying to get onto a carpentry course.

    Also, due to a hard drive melt down a while back, I need to try and recreate a load of work I had done regarding the crafting of my own religious/philosophical system, which includes re-reading and interpreting Hávamál (but not translating, I don’t know the original language, so have to make do with a published translation).

    Eating & Drinking

    I fully intend to keep eating and drinking. Fully intend to remain straightedge, so no alcoholic beverage for me.

    I should probably try a bit harder to lay off the comfort food and start eating more healthily. Might help with the whole general fitness thing I want.

  • http://www.forgingthesampo.com/ Kauko

    Given what’s to come on GoT, I’m not sure if I should be mad or relieved that they’re taking a week off.

    • JasonMankey

      Noooo!!!! I didn’t know that until you posted it. I guess I’ll just re-watch the last fifteen minutes of episode four for the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth times.

      • http://www.forgingthesampo.com/ Kauko

        All my shows are taking the weekend off, which has me kind of irritated. It wouldn’t be so bad if I had some where else to be this weekend. I’ll be trapped in my house the whole weekend, though, because I live a mile away from the Speedway here where the Coca-Cola 600 will be held.

  • Lisa H.

    We’ll keep our eyes open for you at Rabbit’s Foot. My husband and I are usually there on Friday afternoons around 4 PM; not normally Saturdays. It can get really busy on Friday evenings though, so we usually cut out no later than 5 or it can get way too close and hot. (They’re not open on Sundays or Mondays.)

    Funny, I rarely see people there in their SCA clothes? Mostly geek uniform: nerdy t-shirts, or the polo shirts and badges of wherever they work in the area (e.g. Cisco). I have spotted some people in Ren garb occasionally, just not very often. Maybe the weeknight regulars are different than the Friday crowd (I work evenings M-Th so we’re never there).

    (if it’s not evident, Lisa/Gord here – we came to the Pagan Salon a couple times when it was at Dana St Coffee a while back, and I think we crossed paths at the Scotch tasting at the Pagan Alliance [?] suite this year.)

  • ibejedi

    Elderberry Angry Orchard Cider?? Oh YUM, I must track that down! Have you ever tried Fox Barrel Pear Cider. Love it — I scored a large bottle of their Naked (unfiltered) Cider a couple months ago at Whole Foods — amazing. I really want to track down their boxed Pomegranate and Pear Cider. http://foxbarrel.com/cider/cider/boxed-cider/pomegranate-and-pear-boxed-cider/

    I’ll be sure to share any unique eats or drinks this weekend, as well as essential reading. I’d heard about Loud as Hell – that’s going on the wish list!

    Blessings to you for a wonderful Summer Weekend!


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