The “Feels”

“Inside, my heart is breaking…”

This weekend was our last “camp” for Minnesota Brass. Two long but very productive days of rehearsal and an exhibition show for high school band kids. Now we head out to Rochester (NY) for the championships. 

And damnit if I didn’t get a case of the feels.  Feels which are continuing unabated today.

This is my section, and yes… I am that old.

  
 “My makeup may be flaking….”
This happens every year about this time.  The summer is waning quickly, school is starting, and the drum corps season is nearly over. So much hard work and so many hours of rehearsal, and we’re almost at the close.

And despite my best intentions to approach my abbreviated season in a detached and clinical manner, the “Mad Circus” has managed to breach my carefully constructed walls.

  

“But my smile still stays on….”

I really wasn’t sure about this show at first.  Yes it had “potential”.  Good musical flow, a clear and understandable theme, and several good brass moments (especially in the ballad). But the musical book for the baritones didn’t challenge me, the drill didn’t have quite the demand of past years and the overall show felt like it was still missing something (performance? spark? X??). Yet I had agreed to come out of retirement, so I put my nose to the grindstone, focused on my performance, and counted days. 

But every rehearsal we’ve been adding layer upon layer: voice over narration, electronic samples, body movement, new guard work, refined music changes, humor, drag, a ring master, percussion stunts, pre and post show thematic stuff… The list goes on. 

   

   
Through it all, “Mad Circus” has continued to grow and has finally blossomed into something really fantastic.  And in doing so, it has taken root my heart.

And we’re not done yet. 

NOW the show has “it”.  There’s so much going on during the show it’s a visual feast.  It’s crazy. It’s fun. It’s funny. But it’s brilliantly designed and paced so that focus is where it should be.  And the theme is completely realized through drill design, movement, characterization and costuming.   It really is a three-ring drum corps circus!

And the big “The Show Must Go On” hit (yes, Queen) at the end of the show has real potential to be one of the highlights of 2015. 

We’re so damn close– close to putting something really special on the field in Rochester. Close to making it something to remember… Even if it doesn’t win (which it probably won’t). I wish we had additional week to perfect it!

I wish my heart wouldn’t get ripped out again on Sunday night (although it’s inevitable).

I wish the final performance was already over. 

I wish it didn’t have to end.

“The show must go on.”

  

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Fun With Grindr

  
Oh, he was asking for it. 

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Motobécane!

It’s a compound French word– argot (slang) for motorcycle and bike. And I finally rode my retro ‘bécane in to work today. 

  
It rode as smooth as its name– super mirage. 

I am so used to the wide grip, handlebars on my mountain bike, that the drop down grips are taking a bit of getting used to. But the bike is fairly nimble and all components are working well. 

And riding the bike is just fun; it takes me back to the days of my first ten-speed (although it was from Sears, not Paris.)

Plus I think the bike is goddamn pretty!
One of the things I love most about vintage bikes are the little details from when brands used to care about manufacturing.  For example:

  
Seeing Motobécane stamped into the crank, with the M logo detail at the center hub. 

Or this:

  
Seeing the curvy detail at the butt ends of the fork tubing. 

And this:

   
 
Motobecane logo etched into the handlebars and seat post, with the M on the neck. Oh, and the little detail on the suntour shifters.

It harkens back to a time when there was pride in workmanship and attention was paid to the details. Not like now, where it’s all about the cheapest goods that are generically mass produced. 

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A Good Brass Weekend

Well– we’re in the hunt. 

We finally had shows judged by real judges (the judges from our East) and after Friday, Minnesota Brass was atop the standings. 

That of course changed on Saturday when the east coast corps had a show and they jumped above us– but not by much. 

So that’s good. 

But they also all have a show next weekend and we don’t, so their scores will go up even more, and we’ll stay the same. 

And that’s bad. 

Just two more weeks and this season will be done. It’s gone really fast. 

   
 Yeah, straight leg technique!

While I am looking forward to the end this year, it has also reminded me that I’m kinda good at this and I do miss playing in a loud brass ensemble. 

  
The chin straps are horrid, but with 18″ plumes and a stiff wind, it was a necessity. Ugh. 

Anyway-  wish us luck for the remainder of the season.

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Christmas in July??

More like “October in August”!

  
The high temps today mirror what we normally have in October.  And then we have rain on top of it. Cold, dreary rain. 

Which naturally means I have an outdoor drum corps rehearsal tonight. 

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Pavement Cracks

i ride the same bike trail to work every day. And the newest stretch of it (the one that connects to the Mississippi River trail was just completed like two years ago. 

Anyway, there is a new condo/apartment building going up right next to the trail and they began excavating the site. Well, one day the trail was perfect, and the next:

   
 
Yeah.  The trail split in half, and the right side is sinking toward the excavation pit. They do have those vertical beams in place, but evidently they didn’t get them in soon enough. 

  
I wish the pictures showed it better, but the level change is fairly sizable– like 8 inches. And there are little sink holes and fairly wide fissures. 

You can see that they tried to fill in the crack with asphalt, but it didn’t work.

What a mess. And the trail was basically brand new!  At least it is still passable– but for how much longer?

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I Really Got Nothing

This is that weird “dead zone” as summer wanes and school looms on the horizon.

Summer has been one of the nicest on record here in Minneapolis. Plenty of sunshine, rain when we need it, hot put not scorching. Basically about perfect. Thanks El Niño!

I’m doing drum corps (still) but that is rapidly drawing to a close.  Rehearsal camp all weekend, then next Friday and Saturday are shows again. Important shows as they will be our last two scores before we head to the championships.  As a whole it has served to answer my last remaining questions about the activity for me; and as such this will be my last year of it. 

Chorus starts up again immediately upon my return, and I’m actually looking forward to it. I need mah gayz. I also may be the bass section leader for the next year.  It’s been discussed, but it isn’t official. We’ll see. 

I’m still biking a lot, but I don’t get out on the weekends much because of drum corps. 

Work is work. The new prez is still a bit of a challenge to deal with, and I have anxiety every day going into the 9 o’clock meeting as I never know if I’m going to be yelled at for something that is beyond my control.

  
At least Miss Phoebe still loves me and likes to cuddle. 

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My New Best Friend

I may very well have a new best friend– Dr Scholls Massaging Gel Sport Insert.

  
I’ve been having some ankle trouble the past few months.  I really noticed it this spring as I started walking more at lunchtime. And it has gotten worse with drum corps.  This past weekend it was to the point where I was having trouble walking and was in continual pain. 

I blame this on my one flat foot. 

When I was born, I had flat feet. So may parents opted for correctional shoes– which sort of worked. I now have one decently formed arch on my right foot, but my left is nearly flat. This makes shoe shopping really fun as I have a full size difference in my feet. 

It also adds stress to my hips, knees, ankles etc when doing anything athletic. 

Well, I guess the difference finally caught up to me and my left ankle and tendons became overly stressed. Thus causing my ankle to seize up a bit and really hurt. Like “stabby” pain. 

Not fun while marching. 

Well, the other day I was at Target looking for my probiotics when I walked past the Dr Scholls display.  “Meh,” I thought. “Why not try these sports ones?  They look to have good arch support.”

This particular insert has heel cushion and firm arch support and then ends right about at the ball of the foot – so it’s reall a partial insert. And I added just the left one on top of my shoe’s already existing support, figuring I need to balance this side out. 

And I gotta say– boy did it help last night at rehearsal!  My ankle pain dropped about 80% and I didn’t experience any moments where it seized up.  I don’t think I can adequately describe the awesomeness of that!

I went from wincing with every step and wondering if my ankle was going to give out, to being able to concentrate on marching accurately. 

Such a relief!

Now, I’m not counting my chickens yet, as that was only one rehearsal, but I am optimistic that I may have come up with a workable solution.

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L O N G Weekend

  
I spent the past weekend (Friday included) immersed in drum corps activities. This was really my first (and last) hefty weekend of marching and travel. 

It started On Friday with an all day rehearsal: field lining at 8, rehearsal 9-12, lunch, rehearsal 1-4, break, then my first show that evening.  

The good news is that I did not do terrible in the show and performed it fairly well. The bad news– I LOST MY SHAKO 1/4 OF THE WAY INTO THE SHOW!  Quel embarrassing!

My shako had managed to stay in during rehearsal runs, but with the show plume, it became unbalanced just enough to topple off during some body movement. It sucks to have it happen, but I just kept going. 

The funny part was a judge picked it up and then handed it to me before the ballad. I thanked him and slid it back on and successfully completed the show. 

Saturday was a bus trip to a rehearsal site in southern Minnesota for a half day of rehearsal, then it was on to Forrest City, Iowa for another show. This one went better and the shako stayed put. 

Then it was an overnight gym stay at a school, before getting up the next day and bussing to Red Wing for a parade and standstill performance of our show.

  
“I love a parade!”

— said no drum corps member ever

Then home. 

I’m still a bit worn out today, but I’m not doing too badly all things considered.  All but my left ankle, that is.  And I have two shows under my belt in uniform, with two more in a couple weeks time.

But this weekend is free, and I’m really looking forward to it. 

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Cecil

  
I am really heartsick about Cecil the lion. 

This isn’t a terribly unique reaction for me, as I get very upset every time I see a proud hunter displaying their kill.  Especially when they’re so proud of killing an endangered wildlife. 

How does taking a life merely for sport NOT negatively affect them???

Hunting for food, I get. It’s not something I do-  but I can understand it. Especially if the hunter respects the animal and the process and truly uses the meat. 

Hunting just for the thrill of killing an animal is something I do not and never will understand. 

I honestly believe people that get off on killing animals are mentally ill. I mean, there’s just something wrong there, when you can be so cavalier about extinguishing life.

And this particular hunter I find revolting. And not just because he lives in my city. 

All the circumstances surrounding this “hunt” seem suspicious– or at least a bit fishy. And it doesn’t help that this guy got in trouble a few years back for illegally killing a bear. 

Personally, I hope this guy’s life gets upended and he suffers for his decisions. 

At this point, all I can say is, I’m sorry Cecil. I’m sorry that some humans really suck. And I’m sorry that we couldn’t protect you better.

  

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