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.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Alaska!

Southeast Alaska is just a small nub on the tail end of what is an exceptionally massive place, but even this tiny corner seems massive in its scope of raw nature. We've been back just over a week now from spending 8 days in downtown Juneau. We've visited Alaska a few times before, always on cruise ships. You only get to spend a part of one day in each port, which is still nice in itself. But this time we got to explore more of the state capital and dig into its raw and expansive beauty a little bit.

It rained. A lot. Actually, it didn't rain at all the first day we were there. And then it didn't stop. It wasn't a hard rain really, just a consistent one. Every once in awhile it would stop for 15 minutes, or a half hour if you were lucky. But that didn't deter me from getting out there and exploring. We spent a day on top of Mt. Roberts via the tram, another day at Mendenhall Glacier, another at the Glacier Gardens, and toured several museums in the interim days. Not having to hurry back and catch a cruise ship meant that we could take it leisurely, and most nights we were back in the hotel anyway by 7pm. You might think it would be a great area to stay up late and watch the stars. Maybe it is, but we only saw clouds the whole time.

This was Connor's second trip to Alaska, as he went with us on a cruise when he was only eight months old. This is the first trip he might remember. Or if not, at least the 475 photos I brought home will give him an idea. As a 2.5 year old toddler, although he's got an abnormally high amount of energy, he still is only good for about six hours at a stretch before needing a nap. So I got to spend some time exploring on my own while Connor and mommy slept.

Alaska has some of the most beautiful hiking trails I've ever seen. And I only scratched the surface of what's up there, just in Juneau. But on Mt. Roberts I hiked up the trail that heads to the summit. I didn't quite make it to the summit; actually it was hard to tell how close I got, because the fog and most air rendered visibility down to under 30 yards once you got to a certain height. So eventually I had to turn around and head back, while I could still see the trail! The East Glacier at Mendenhall is even more gorgeous, hiking through a temperate rain forest with babbling streams and eventually the river that flows over the cliff, becoming Nugget Falls. Even though visibility was fairly poor this day, it was still gorgeous exploring.

You might be thinking, "Wow, did you run into any bears out in all this wilderness??" Alaska is somehow famous for its wildlife, but I still have yet to see anything bigger than a bald eagle in the port towns. And that's how it was in Juneau this time around. Very little wildlife outside of birds and salmon. Maybe next time...

We also took a day ferry trip to Haines, which is a little town we had never been to. Unfortunately the ferry terminal in Haines is four miles from town, and it just so happens that there's no busses, no shuttles, no taxis, no anything to take you to town. So we walked...until we got picked up by a nice German couple in an RV. They had seen us on the ferry, and felt bad for us I guess as we were pushing the stroller along the two-lane highway. In any case, they graciously offered to give us a lift to town, which we happily accepted. We still had to walk back though, and it was a nice walk, but due to the time it takes, we didn't get to spend more than a couple hours in Haines. I don't think we saw most of it. Or perhaps maybe there's just not much there...

In any case, the trip was good despite occasional problems trying to convince Connor that it was, in fact, bedtime. He did do really well on the plane though, only crying as we descended and his ears were bothering him from the elevation change. We tried to convince him to drink some juice from his sippy cup, knowing the swallowing motion would clear up his ear problem. He didn't quite understand though when we said that drinking would help his ears, as he kept trying to stick the sappy cup IN his ear. Well fortunately that sensation didn't last too long.

I'll pick up with some more specific stories on our adventures next week...

Monday, June 27, 2016

Summertime Blues

Wow, did a whole semester go by since the last time I wrote on here? Sigh. Time flies when you're having...whatever. Spring 2016 was something of a melancholy semester for me. I just couldn't get any inspiration to be productive. I'd like to say the summer has improved that situation somewhat, and I guess in some ways it has.

In April I played in the pit orchestra for The Producers at Sac State. That was a bright spot for the spring, I suppose. Haven't touched a bass since then. Right now I'm in the middle of conducting All Shook Up at Runaway Stage; we just completed our third weekend, and have one more to go. All Shook is a fun show, based on the music of Elvis with a storyline that's strangely similar to Bye Bye Birdie. But it's funny, and the music just works - and makes the story and the actors shine. There's always some joy to be had watching these guys perform on stage.

In the world of composition - well I just haven't accomplished much. I've arranged the fall show much for the marching band, but outside of that I'm in something of a drought. Just like the weather here. Which has been in the low 100s for several days now. Remember when I talked about finishing my string quartet, and having it performed? Yeah I barely remember that myself. Haven't touched it at all. Or even really thought about it much. Not sure when or if I'll get around to it. Did I mention I was in a drought?

Well, after a four-day weekend in which I was the primary caretaker for Connor owing to the fact that Whitney is in New York at a band director's conference, I'm back at work today. It's slow. It's quiet. I've already almost caught up on all the messages that came in during my absence, and it's not even 8:30am yet. Wait...it's not even 8:30am yet??

It's going to be a long day.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Real Dead Week

So here we are, on the Monday following the end of Finals Week at Sac State. They used to call the week before Finals Week "Dead Week". It used to refer to the tradition of being a week of study prep leading up to finals, where no new material would be assigned, and everyone is pretty much floating around like zombies as they try and catch up on a semester's worth of studying that they didn't get around to doing.

But this week, this is the real "dead" week. It's pretty quiet in the music building here as all the students have gone their various ways for the holidays. Just me and a few other hapless staff members floating around. It's also a dreary day outside, as a storm front is dropping continual albeit light rain today.

I guess I'd call the mood somewhat melancholy today.

I just finished reading a booked loaned to me by my friend Cassie, entitled, "Real Men Don't Rehearse". It's written by Justin Locke, who was a bass player primarily with the Boston Pops for nearly two decades. The book is basically a series of anecdotes about the life and times of a professional orchestra musician. It's supposed to be mostly humorous in nature, and indeed it is at times, but I found it to also be somewhat inspirational. We often forget that even career professional musicians started somewhere, and often had to claw their way up to the top. Just as many of us do here at the local state college level. I guess it's just nice to know that, really, we're not that much different, that we all had humble beginnings. And of course that professional musicians who are out there making it in the 'real world' are real people too.

My favorite line in the book, and it's one of the few that resonates with me as a composer as well as a bass player, is the definition offered of the word 'atonal': "a fancy musical term that means if you play a wrong note, there's a good chance no one will notice".

Indeed. I think probably a lot of my music could probably fall into that category. Heck, a lot of life can be defined like that. We make mistakes all the time. And most of the time, chances are no one will notice. Even though we often feel like we have a bright neon sign pointing at us. But I digress.

The first three movements of my String Quartet No. 2 are essentially done. I haven't tackled the 4th movement yet. Really I just haven't had the time, nor have I found the inspiration. I'm hoping it returns soon.

Last night was the first rehearsal, for me, of Big Fish the Musical. I'll be directing the orchestra for it in January with Runaway Stage Productions. The cast has of course been working at it for several weeks now. Last night was the first "work-through", a fancy musical term meaning "we're going to try and get through it and see if we all know how and when to get on and off the stage when we're supposed to". Last night was Act I. Well, it was most of Act I anyway. Tonight we're back at it again for Act II. Well, Act II plus a wee bit of the end of Act I. I really don't have much of a role for these rehearsals, as they're just singing along with the Broadway Cast recording and acting through the material. Mostly I'm just there to observe and see how things are going, and how they're starting to come together. But it's an important first step towards the goal of putting the whole show together so it can be appreciated by a real live audience. The holidays are drawing near, so we only have a couple more nights before taking a break, but after the holidays it will be full steam ahead. So I've got lots of score study to do to be ready for the first orchestra rehearsal on January 3.

I guess, for me, it's not really a dead week after all.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cocoa Time

So, here we are on December 1, and again the time has just flown by. Only two weeks till finals - can it be over so soon? This is my 33rd semester of working here at Sac State (good lord, has it been that long??). Where did this time go? Sometimes you sit back and just wonder in amazement at all that's happened and all that has passed. But I digress.

It's been cold out! We've all been waiting in California for the winter weather to arrive, mostly in hopes that the ongoing drought would be somewhat abated by, I don't know, some actual rain? Supposedly we're supposed to see some of the wet stuff in a couple of days, but we shall see what comes to pass. In any case, I'm taking advantage of the 33 degree mornings and sweltering 56 degree afternoons to catch up on all the cocoa drinking I've missed out on over the summer.

I don't drink coffee.

Every morning I drive to work up J Street, and as I pass by the Starbucks on 39th I see people frantically rushing around in an attempt to make it back to their cars before they freeze outside, or their coffee becomes cold. (Which is the worse outcome, I want to ask). It's funny, because although I've always rather liked the SMELL of coffee, I never could stand the taste. The closest I get to coffee is a mocha. And even that's rare. But I think it's a good thing, especially as I scroll through post after post on Facebook from various people who praise their undying devotion to the bitter brew. Some people really seem to think that they can't possibly function in the morning without their jolt of bitter brew. Some people are completely fanatic about this. Caffeine addiction much??

Well. Glad I have my cocoa anyway. The semester is drawing to a close, and I'm proud to report another successful year in the music writing world. Not only did the Sac State marching band do a bang up job with my Tragic Kingdom show, I delved back into the wonder world of original composition and began working on a String Quartet. Though I'd been meaning to write one for years, it's finally coming to fruition. It's already more than half done, although I admittedly only started working on it two months ago. But next spring some of it should be performed at Sac State.

So, things are going well, the kid recently turned two and is now learning to count and actually string words together to form more complete thoughts, and life marches on. Looking forward to winter break, but first we have to get through the sense of semester rush at school...bring on the madness.

And cocoa. I need more cocoa.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Connor's Growing Up

Well, we went to Hawaii this summer, and just returned a couple of weeks ago. It was my first trip there, and of course Connor's as well. It was a great time, as we spent it on the Waikiki Beach at the Queen Kapiolani Hotel. While there we of course went swimming at the ocean. Connor enjoyed the water, though I think he enjoyed playing in the sand more. We also got to visit the Honolulu Zoo, which was just across the street from our hotel, as well as drive to the Polynesian Cultural Center, Pearl Harbor, Disney's Aulani, and the Dole Plantation. And for some exercise, we even rented bikes with a toddler trailer from our hotel and took a ride around town. In-between we did a lot of walking and exploring of the Waikiki area, and of course trying out the many restaurants they have there.

All in all, it was a great trip, though I'll have to go back again when I'm not saddled with a toddler and visit the Polynesian Center and Pearl Harbor. Kind of tough to do cultural things with a baby. Especially when he starts screaming because he's tired. Like he did at the USS Arizona Memorial. Sigh. And the Polynesian Center - fun place though it's basically open from 12-5 basically, since the performers in each land have to also do the evening luau show (which we didn't attempt). You really need more time than that to fully explore the place and really try out all the cultural shows and activities they have.

Anyways, the thing we worried about most before leaving on this trip was the plane ride, since, although we bought Connor a seat so he could be in his car seat, it was still a long time to expect him to accept sitting in one place. A 90 minute delay on the trip out due to a faulty warning light didn't help either. But, really, he handled it pretty well. And having distractions such as toy cars and plenty of Pringles certainly helped!

Well, he's made another milestone since we got back. Just this week we upgraded him from a crib to a toddler bed. So now, he technically doesn't HAVE to stay in the bed once we put him down. On the first night, he actually wandered out a fell asleep just inside the bedroom door. I discovered this as I went in to check in on him and promptly ran the door into his head...ooops. But he didn't wake up! Thank goodness. At 2:40am that morning he awoke crying; I think he got scared because it was dark and he couldn't remember where he was. So I put him back in his bed and he fell asleep fairly quickly after that.

This was three nights ago. The last two nights he's actually crawled back into his bed himself after exploring; I guess he realized it's much more comfortable than the floor!