Welcome to Glenn's Blog!

Here I will periodically post random thoughts and stories about what's going on in my life and the world around me. As if anyone cared. But seriously, you've found your way here, so hopefully you will enjoy at least some of what I have to say, even if you aren't entirely interested in it. At the least, it should be a good way to waste time.

Of course, you can visit my website for more info about me, or feel free to email me anytime.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Drum Corps Season

Well here it is drum corps season again, as I sit at my desk on a sunny Wednesday afternoon in June. I've already attended the DCI Preview in the theatres as well as the Moonlight Classic. It's the first time I've been to the Moonlight Classic, or really any major live drum corps show, in several years. I've really just been attending the theatre broadcasts since 2013. But the trend this year's shows seems to be for groups to shove massive, loud, dissonant chords in your face as much as possible. Honestly it gets a little overwhelming. I was sitting at the Moonlight thinking, this is just too loud. I mean, then amps don't help in this regard, making everything abnormally loud and mushy. I'm all for impact, but if more than half of what you do is big loud chords lacking in musical clarity, it tends to lose its effect.

Mandarins are on a tear though, looking to break the coveted top 12 for the first time ever. They have a good, solid group. Stronger than they've ever been. I think they'll certainly make 12th place, maybe even 11th. They're certainly making a lot of noise in the drum corps world; they seem to be the story everyone wants to hear about. And good for them. I did my part and bought a $35 polo shirt from their souvie booth. I felt like I should buy something, especially since I went to the show wearing a Troopers shirt. (It's not every year they come out this way, and I did like their show). But that Mandarin polo was actually the only souvenir I bought that night. Though I've since ordered some Blue Devils CD's from their website.

Anyways, the Mandarins show is just about as formulaic as everyone else's is, but it's a good show, especially in the last 3 minutes of it. I do wish the hornline got to play a little more of True Colors; a majority of it is a prerecorded dark vocal arrangement of it. And I hope they add at least some movement into the opening sequence, during the pit feature that opens the musical part of the show (it starts with a solo dancer to pre-recorded voiceovers from Stravinsky talking about the Rite of Spring). The show concept is essentially: what happens after the dancer dies in the Sacrificial Dance of the Rite of Spring. But although there's a couple of horn solos which sound reminiscent of Stravinsky, it is not a show of his music. Honestly I hope the hornline gets to play a little more in the show, and ultimately will spend a little less time running around the field doing quasi-modern dance moves (another typical DCI 'thing' in recent years). But we'll see what the next 6 weeks will hold for the development of their show.

I don't think I've ever said this before, but one of my favorite shows so far this year is from the Cavaliers. Their show is based around Ravel's Bolero, various iterations of which keep popping up throughout the course of it. Bluecoats have a pretty good show too, and a real good solo jazz vocalist. (But of course, what's a vocalist doing in drum corps?). But I digress. The next big drum corps show I'll see will be the Quarterfinals in the theatres, and that's not until August, so for now I guess I'll just be watching the scoreboards every week. Maybe I'll make it out to the Mandarins home show on July 6, though they're the only Division I corps there. We'll see, we'll see.

In the meantime it's still slow and mostly quiet at work; workshops start here on July 9, and then it will be busy and summer will fly by. Still waiting on the lighting replacement to start on our concert hall. And still got some work to do getting all of the calendar stuff officially scheduled with the University, and our website updated, and our brochures ready to go to print, and so on. Back to work!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Winding Down

The sun is shining, the birds are singing...and there's a cacophony of recorders playing variations on Beethoven's "Ode to Joy". But not any sort of variation that Beethoven himself would have ever imagined. Yep, it must be the end of the semester. This was my 19th year on staff here. Good lord has it really been that long? I'm sure I pontificate on this far too much, but I am as ever reminded that I'm really well past halfway in my career. I have 7-12 years remaining. Sounds like a prison sentence for a petty felony. 7-12 years, depending on good behavior. Where does all this time go? And what do we have, really, to show for it? Sigh.

Well I'm tired, but the last few weeks of the semester with it's 8-10 or more events can do that to you. Perhaps I can steal away a little early today. I'll say it's to do something productive, important. Likely it will be to go home and take a nap.

Last weekend was Mother's Day weekend, and I actually got to play two shows of Hairspray at the Woodland Opera House. And why not, my mom was on a cruise in Alaska anyway. While I have seen that show several times, I'd never played it before. It's actually a really fun book to play, and it was nice to pick up the ol' electric bass after such a long time. I mean I also played a show of Urinetown a few weeks back at a Catholic high school in Vallejo, but that was on upright.

So now here we are, the Tuesday of finals week. Things are winding down, as they do at this time of year. Juries are in progress, some students have finished and some are busy practicing away their last few minutes. I often wonder what they think their ultimate outcome of college is. I think there's going to be a trend soon in our country to go back to trade schools. For many years the push was for everyone to go to college. But to what end? We see so many struggle through here for four, or five, or six years, then graduate with thousands of dollars in debt. And then they get a job at Target. Or as a server at a restaurant. Seems like college, for some, is a complete waste of time and money.

Oh well. We're winding down this semester, then we'll take a little break, and then we'll do it all over again come August. Maybe the cycle will never end. Well except for me, I've got 7-12 years left.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Gobble Gobble Kitty

Well, here we are at Sac State on the day before Thanksgiving. It's quiet. A lot of people have already checked out for the break, but there's still some classes going on. Only two more weeks before finals after this week. Honestly it hasn't been a bad semester. Even FeNAM went pretty well. Still, it's been kind of a blah semester. I didn't write music for the marching band for the first time since 2010, mostly because it's just to cumbersome and expensive to try and get publisher's rights to (legally) arrange music. I didn't even go out to rehearsals this season, and only made it to two games - homecoming and the Causeway Classic. The Classic was a pretty exciting game; we ultimately won 52-47, and led the whole way, but nearly blew a 31 point lead in the second half. But most of the marching season passed by me this year. Honestly it seems I've just had too many other things to do, yet at the same time I can't point to much of anything that I actually accomplished this semester. Just staying the course and plodding through life.

We got cats. Two to be precise. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to, after the last ones passed on. It is a lot of work, and you have to worry about having someone look after them anytime you take a trip somewhere. But now that Connor's 4 it seemed like a good time to try having pets again. So I went shopping. On Craiglist.

It's surprising how many people post available kittens on there...and yet don't really connect when you reach out and try to claim them. It was ultimately the third person that I contacted and said, "Hey, we'll take them, when can we come get them". This was a family in the outskirts of Elk Grove, who had a litter of 6 kittens. So I had a bit of a selection when I drove down there at 7:30pm on Sunday the 12th. But I think I picked good ones. They were born on August 23, so they're just about three months old. It took a few days for them to acclimate to their new surrounding and learn to trust us. The boy actually started exploring pretty quickly, whereas the girl spent most of the first night hiding in the carrier. And then the next couple nights hiding under the bed. But we've had them - Buster and Scout - for about a week and a half now, and they're enjoying running around and playing. And just like a dog, they come out to greet me when I come home.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and the start of a four day weekend. It will be nice to have a little break before returning for the last big push to finish out the semester. Actually on Sunday, the Mandarins are holding their final Academy at Sac State, so I might come down to see how their rehearsal is going on my little arrangement of 24K Magic. Aside from that, maybe I'll try and accomplish something this weekend, besides binge watching shows like Stranger Things on Netflix. Or maybe not. Well, I'm sure I'll consume lots of food...gobble gobble!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Another Day, Another Shooting

So the big story in the news this week is the Las Vegas shooting, in which a lone gunman heavily armed opened fire from an upper story room in the Mandalay Bay onto a crowd down below who were attending a country music concert. He killed 58 people, at least, with hundreds more injured. Yes, it was the worst shooting in U.S. history, beating out the Orlando one in June 2016 where 49 people died. And of course this has ignited all sorts of debates on social media and elsewhere over gun control and other things such as mental health care. I don't normally write about such pertinent issues on my personal blog, but you'll have to excuse this one aberration. Of course the online debates on this issue will probably die down shortly, as they always do, and life will go.

And nothing will change.

It's become such a regular occurrence in our society, that it's almost taken for granted when it happens. The response is not so much shock and horror anymore but rather a casual sort of "Oh no, not again." It reminds me of the falling potted plant in Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy. If you have no clue what I'm referring to, go read a book. Go on. I'll wait.

I hate to have a cynical viewpoint, but I really think nothing will change in our society, and we will just have to accept that we live in a country where you might just get randomly mowed down by a crazy gunman (domestic terrorist is the term many use). I mean let's face it, ever since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School five years ago, in which 20 or so died, what has changed? Nothing, really. And if we're okay with elementary school children being casually murdered, what hope is there for the rest of us? Apparently it's okay for ordinary citizens to be armed to the teeth with automatic weapons that serve no purpose other than to kill lots of people, and quickly.

The problem lies in the ineffectiveness of our government. Congress is supposed to answer to the people, but really they answer to the NRA. And anytime anyone proposed any meaningful gun control legislation, it quickly gets mowed down under the guise of being an attack on the 2nd Amendment. And gun nuts proclaim, "They're trying to take our guns!". So, we can't have gun safety tests prior to gun ownership (like you take a driver's test before being given a license to drive). And God forbid if we deny mentally ill people the 'right' to own weapons. ISIL sympathizers? Well, you're on the no-fly list, but you can buy all the guns you want here. These and other things should be common sense, but they're not.

Our country has more guns than any other in the world. It's not even close. We lead both in numbers of guns (estimated to be 280-300 million) and guns per capita (nearly one for every man, woman, and child in America. The next closest? India, with less than 50 million guns and a population 3-4 times larger than ours. But hey, we need our guns. We need to be able to kill lots of people on a whim. It's our God-given right after all.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-gun. Not really. If people own rifles or handguns for hunting, sport, or the perceived need for protection, good for them. But mentally ill? Terrorist group sympathizers? People who are heavily medicated for one reason or another? Come on now, let's have some common sense. But I guess that's too much too ask. So, we'll just sit back, let nothing change, and wait for the next mass shooting. Hey, maybe it will set a new record for number of deaths. Meanwhile, folks argue that laws and legislation don't work, because criminals aren't going to follow the law. But weren't most of these mass shooters otherwise basically law-abiding citizens before they went on their rampages? Did many of them even have prior criminal records? And didn't they obtain their guns through legal means? Who's to say what they would have got their hands on or not if it wasn't so easy - and legal - to get these high powered killing machines.

Maybe we need to try SOMETHING to make a change. And actually commit to it, instead of just waving it away by saying it won't work. It's better than doing nothing, which is what we have been doing. And it's definitely not working.

Monday, October 2, 2017

October Is Here

Well here we are in the fall of 2017 already. It's October 2, Monday, and it's hard to believe so much of the years has gone by already. When was the last time I wrote, back in May? Before the summer? Yikes.

Well we had a good family summer trip to England. Mostly we visited family in Bristol, which is quite a nice little college town along a waterway. We spent the last three days of our trip in London, in order to be touristy, but honestly I think I would have enjoyed just staying in Bristol the whole time. Not to mention, three nights of hotels in London was more expensive than six nights in Bristol. And although they were both Travelodges, the Bristol one was nicer and roomier. Plus I made the mistake of not really planning anything in London. We were just going to play by ear and see where the mood takes us. Which would have been great, except we had a 3 year old toddler along. Not a good idea to not plan anything when those are your parameters. Still, we visited the Museum of London (which I highly recommend) and saw some of the original walls of London dating back to Roman times. And I got to see Book of Mormon on our last night, so that was pretty cool. But all vacations must end, and we came back to California to melt in the 100+ degree temperatures.

Thank God it's fall now. So it's only in the mid-80s...

But our fall semester is off and running. We had a slow start concert-wise, but this week there's three student recitals, a wind ensemble concert, a jazz combos recital, and a violin studio recital. Holy crap - 6 concerts in one week! Well, story of our lives here at Sac State. News flash - we're going to try something new and experimental in the spring: Saturday student recitals. Eek! I must be crazy. You'd think after 18 years, I'd give up trying to be innovative and just focus on keeping the ship afloat. Silly me.

I went bowling yesterday on a man-date. Anyone that knows me...oh wait, who really knows me? Well what I was going to say is, it's extremely, extremely rare for me to fraternize with what could be considered 'friends'. We introverts don't do that much. Or maybe it's just me. In any case, three games plus a plethora of beer and some suspiciously good (for a bowling alley) cheese fries, and I actually did much better than I had in a long time. I bowled a 171, 163 and 212. Best three game set I've had since I used to bowl in junior leagues in high school. You know, 25 years ago. A quarter of a century.

When did I get so old??

Well anyway, it's almost time to go pick Connor up from his grandparents house, and bring him back to Sac State so he can help me setup for tonight's violin studio recital. Then it's back home to the normal clockwork pattern of a 6:30pm bath, 7pm bedtime, and then time to watch some quality programming on TV. Incidentally, I recently finished watching the series Parks & Recreation. This month's selection: A Handmaid's Tale. Really deep, dystopian drama-type stuff there. More later...if I get around to writing again...