Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Found

...a video of our marching band this past season. It's only the last half of the show, and yes, I'm posting several months late, but this is state finals after all, and I'm quite glad to have found it. Thanks to whomever took and posted this!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's Musical Season

We fumble blindly down a set of concrete steps in the darkness, emerging in a low-ceilinged room with the feel of a disused basement (which it undoubtedly is). Occupying the majority of the space is a makeshift sort of plywood stage. Everyone gingerly navigates the steps up. The platform is covered in a rather musty-looking carpet and a tangle of cords and wires. The only light comes from the opening in the ceiling, around which chairs and music stands are tightly clustered. This is pit orchestra, and once again the height of musical season approaches. We're here to play.

Up on stage someone is tap dancing. A gentle shower of sawdust drifts down from the stage floor overhead. Moments later a stampede of chorus members thunders over our heads. The sound system isn't quite coordinated yet- sometimes we can't hear what's happening upstairs, and they can't hear us. It's okay though. This is merely a rehearsal, and although opening night is tomorrow, this counts as being on schedule.

Typically, I audition to join the cast. The lure of bright lights of the stage, the energy, the freedom of unrestrained singing, and the pure satisfaction of giving it your all right in front of a live audience is strong. It's still something I would enjoy doing, but recently I've been finding the backseat, more out-of-view supporting role just as appealing. Playing in the pit has been, in a different way, an experience just as satisfactory.

From outward appearances, I seem to devote more time and energy to vocal music. It's easier, it feels, to fake experience at singing than at playing an instrument. But I was an instrumentalist before a vocalist, and deep down, if I had to choose, I would not give up my longer-standing skill. It often feels that many are divided along an unspoken line, in which those who play instruments are dry, distant bores and those who sing are fluff-headed, flighty creatures. Few are those who belong to both camps. I, who have been part of both, have gained a respect for both. More people ought to give the other a second chance.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Heat Wave

We're currently sitting in the middle of a nice mass of warm air. The temperature topped 50°F yesterday, and that qualifies as a heat wave. An unseasonably warm day in February, for us non-equatorial norther-hemisphere dwellers, feels exceedingly pleasant. Most of the snow has melted; the massive plowed mountains, the kind built up in parking lots, are now small car-sized piles. Grass is once again visible. It's trampled, yellowish grass, but grass nontheless. There's mud everywhere, and the sound of running water. Even the river has started to thaw a little near the middle. This morning, an opaque fog shrouded everything. It's like spring come several months early. 

All this is very well, but it's also slightly worrying. The number of unseasonably warm days has been increasing recently, as well as record high temperatures and more extreme weather- this past winter has been harsher and had come earlier. It's frustrating to see that a number of people don't realize what even small seasonal shifts mean. Human biological patterns may not be directly or noticeably affected, but many other species are. If one population collapses, it leads to others- its competitors, its predators or prey- undergoing other, often unfavourable changes. That's not too good for us either.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Skywatch No. 8

As you may have noticed, the majority of my photos all seem to be the same place. And admittedly, it is. (I'd like to compile a 365-day journal someday, taking daily pictures out this window.) It's unintentional, really. Where there's a large west-facing window, count on me to use it. I'm a sucker for sunsets. This view usually offers better results than trudging outside in the freezing cold. When the leaves come in I'll have to stop being lazy and actually go out to get my sunsets...