Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blast From the Past

I was flipping around the TV channels tonight, and came across Twin Peaks on the Crime and Investigation channel. (No, not a channel I even knew existed.)

John and I were avid Twin Peaks watchers in the early 90's. We saw every episode except one, I think, even taping them if we couldn't watch live. Yes, taping, with a VCR, how quaint! But watching this episode tonight reminded me how complicated and wierd that show was - this was an episode from fairly late into the series, full of odd characters and strange images, some quite disturbing. It was a true series, as well, and if you missed an episode you missed a lot, so watching tonight meant really digging deep to try to remember who was who and what was happening.

It made me think how television has changed, or perhaps I have changed. We hardly watch any network TV anymore, and really don't follow any series. That started when we had kids, and bedtime was an involved process and invariably overlapped the start of a show. But even now, with children who are much more independent about bedtime, I rarely feel compelled to watch a comedy or a drama, usually opting for Home & Garden, Discovery Channel, or something else that I can drop in and out of.

I hear people talking about Lost, and how wierd and compelling that is, or Pushing Daisies, and now I'm thinking that all those "fringe-y" shows owe a debt to David Lynch and Twin Peaks. It was such an "out there" show, even now, and I think it probably did open some doors to what was acceptable. And it definitely did not coddle the viewer, either in storyline or imagery. And I have to say, it really looked like it has aged well. Sometimes you see an old show, and it looks dated. This didn't.

Of course, now I have to go to bed with all this disturbing stuff in my head.

We Are the Champions, my friends....

You know the rest.

Yes, our marching band won their 6th State Championship in 8 years. To say that we are proud of the kids would be an understatement. If there was ever an object lesson that hard work produces results, it would be marching band. They have worked so hard, in all kinds of weather, and it has absolutely paid off. William and I went to the competition Sunday night (Rachel had dance and play practice, so I arranged rides for her). We saw all of our group bands play, and JC's band performed last. To be honest, I was really nervous. The kids have been somewhat inconsistent. Some of the other bands in our group seemed really really good, and I haven't been to enough competitions to have a good idea what the judges like. There were dance moves, and scenery, and color guards that seemed much better than ours (at least based on the last time I saw them).
But they came out and they played, and they were crisp and disciplined and looked and sounded good. It was awesome. I took William home right after the performance (late on a school night), so John called me with the scores. I'll admit to a few "woo hoo"s.

I have no pictures from Sunday, not that they would have looked very good. Ants crawling around on the field, really. Here's some pictures of the last competition I went to, which was the one inside after Giants Stadium was cancelled.

Marching in - JC's the third tuba (sousaphone, to be exact) from the front.

This is referred to as a "company front". Inside, they just play in this formation and the color guard is behind them doing their thing in place as well. JC is the third sousaphone from the right. If you squint.

This was when they came back in and were waiting for the scores. Notice our kids are still in neat rows and at parade rest. Other bands were seated in the stands, and a couple of kids started running around the room trying to get people to do the wave while we waited. Our kids never cracked. It was very impressive, actually.

JC playing. His posture has absolutely improved since marching band started.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Giants Stadium got canceled. Or, rather, postponed to a weeknight, which our band declined to attend because it was a school night and the directors had conflicts. However, they added a practice this week, so JC has had band practice every day this week. Including today, and an away football game tonight. The weather has been beautiful, however - but the forecast tonight is for heavy rain, continuing into tomorrow.

He has an all-day competition tomorrow. Of course.

It's down near Philadelphia, so we're hoping that either the rain will miss there or will have already moved through by the time they have to compete. They kids have been warned to bring dry underthings, because they WILL be practicing tomorrow morning, even if it's raining.

Sunday is the State Championships. Forecast is for beautiful 60 deg. weather. We can hope, right?

We've been enjoying the Funky Winkerbean comic strip this week about the Battle of the Bands (week of October 19-24). We understand now.

One more week of band practice. Two more weekends of competition. Not that I'm counting down or anything...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

It is very dark and very stormy. The rain has slowed down some, but the wind has kicked up, and I think things are blowing around on my front porch (it would help if I cleaned all the junk off my porch, but I digress).

We have suddenly vaulted from mid-October to something much more late November-like. Cold (less than 40 F), rainy (could have sworn it was getting slushy this afternoon, just a bit), and very windy. And this is predicted pretty much for the next 2 days, maybe a little more. A classic Nor'Easter is roaring up the East Coast. For those not in the Mid-Atlantic and New England, a Nor'Easter is a weather system that comes up the East Coast and heads in a North-Easterly direction across New England. Much of our weather comes from the west (over land)and goes pretty much straight east. A Nor'Easter picks up extra energy because of the temperature difference between land and water, so they're usually rather intense.

Of course, joy of joys, this weekend is the USSBA Yamaha Cup - an uber big marching band competition at Giants Stadium. We've been looking forward to it (all except the nearly midnight performance time. !!!) since JC started this whole saga. If it's held during "weather", well, it will still be an experience. However, the band director wouldn't sell me tickets this afternoon, because there is a possibility that it will be postponed due to weather. Given the fact that Giants Stadium is notorious for being a wind tunnel and a good 10 degrees colder than the surrounding area, I can't say that I would be heartbroken. However, if they have to move it to a weekday, well, that's going to be a problem. I'm sure it will run just as late, and I probably can't get a babysitter on a weeknight, and I can't drag my 7 yr old out that late, so I'm not sure what we would do. I guess we'll wait and see.

John is flying home tonight from spending the week in Toronto. Sounds like he's finally on the plane, an hour and a half late so far. Keeping my fingers crossed, it's a nasty night to be out.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Maternal Worries

I guess I worried too soon yesterday. Turns out they did very well, and the directors told them so even before the results were announced. I'll blame it on an early morning that did not start out well and still thinking of my 14 year old as a sensitive preschooler.

I can already see that it will continue to be hard to see my children face adversity as they grow older. When they're small, I can wipe the tears and counsel about friendships and give constructive help. As they get older, I can listen, and facilitate activities, and nag about responsibility. And I'm sure as they leave the nest we'll be torn by the need to support financially versus the character building of making it on your own. I can only hope that we find the right balance. I don't want my children to come back and live in the basement, but on the other hand, I want them to know they will always be loved and we'll catch them if they fall.

I don't think it gets easier as they get older, just different.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My Heart is Breaking

JC has joined our high school marching band (I think I've mentioned that). This is a serious band - they've been state champions in 5 out of the last 7 years, and are accustomed to winning. But they have moved up to a more competitive division by adding a LOT of new people to the band.

They're not winning.

They're almost winning, which almost feels worse. I was just on the phone with John, who is down in Maryland watching them compete in a regional competition. I happened to call just as they were announcing the winners - we came in 2nd overall in our division. Apparently we won Best Visual Display, but not Best Music. Last weekend we came in 4th overall - and only .7 points behind the winner, so that was a tight grouping.

I just worry that the directors are going to be disappointed and take it out on the kids (not physically, but mentally). JC is working harder at this than I've ever seen him work before. He is trying to be organized, and it's hard for him. For example, he forgot/missed the announcement that they were supposed to show up this morning (6:45am) in uniform - I went by the paper that came home, which said "change after rehearsal". And he forgot his student ID, so he won't be allowed to wander around the National Mall in Washington, DC on his own. (Fortunately, his father and sister are there, but he'll have to go around with them (which isn't horrible, but still).) But he's really trying hard, and taking this seriously, and appears to be keeping up with his classes. And he appears to be at least as good as the other new tuba players, and possibley better - he's done his homework, he knows his music, and he knows where and when he's supposed to be.

And if they don't win one of these major competitions? I hope he doesn't feel like the hard work isn't worth it. If they don't win, well, they're in a more competitive division with a LOT of new people - it's not an excuse, it's true. And they've come a long way since the middle of August. I hope they can be proud of that, because they should be. I hope the directors can recognize that - I assume they must, since they've been at this a long time. I hope they tell the kids that.

And I'm really really hoping they do well at State Championships in two weeks.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Reading the Dictionary

I was/am one of those people who can distracted for a LONG time looking up a word in the dictionary. There's always some cool new word on the same page, and maybe that makes you wonder about a word in the definition so you have to look THAT up, and it just snowballs. Encyclopedias are just as bad (remember those?)

But the worst by far is the Internet. I found the post-it note video from a link about typefaces, which I found in a quiz about Helvetica vs. Ariel (check it out if you're a font geek like me!), which I found in a blog with instructions about making your own bows, which I found on a creative blog I check regularly.

And somehow, my floors never get vacuumed. I wonder why?
(And we're not even counting the time spent putting together the blog post with links!)

The Joy of Post-It Notes

EepyBird's Sticky Note experiment from Eepybird on Vimeo.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Bent Objects

If you've never been over to Bent Objects, you've been missing out. He's got his first book coming out this week, and this is the promo video for it. I think he's brilliantly clever, and some of his pictures are laugh-out-loud funny.