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.

Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year’s Eve

Well, here I am on another New Year's Eve, doing pretty much the same thing I do every New Year's Eve: drinking (wine) while binge watching old TV dramas on Netflix (Grey's Anatomy). Connor is running around in his Halloween costume (Dash from Incredibles) handing out Easter eggs filled with chocolate coins and cat toys. He's an odd kid.

I was never a celebrator of New Year's Eve. I never saw the point of it. When it boils down to it, it's just another day, another night, the start of another month. True, we have to change the '8' to '9' in our dates starting tomorrow, but most of us won't remember to do that for at least another month. And why this day? Why does the calendar not run February through January? Why not use the winter solstice as your excuse to start anew and throw a party while doing it?

There was once a time when I did something fun for New Year's. In the late 90s I did a few years in a row at Disneyland. But it was more of an excuse for a vacation and some special end of year merchandise purchases than a celebration of a "holiday". The fireworks were cool though. The crowds were annoying.

I guess I'm just a cynic. People I know will be out celebrating and partying and wishing each other a Happy New Year. They'll all be having a joyously fun time. I'll see it all on Facebook I'm sure. Meanwhile I'll be sitting here watching people on TV struggle for their lives and sometimes die. Just like any other day of the week.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Mobile Presence

As I was wandering around San Francisco these past few days, it occurred to me that it would be fabulous if there was a way to post blogs while on the go, from my smartphone. You'd think there was an app for that. But alas the only ones that exist are independently created ones by persons who must not know what they're doing, for the plethora of one star reviews on these suggest that they are a worthless waste of money.

Anyways. I have long lamented to myself and sometimes publicly on here that I don't post enough. Now that I've figured out how to do this using email, maybe that will change. So here's to my first smartphone post!

San Francisco

It's Saturday, December 29, 2018, and I'm just back from 3 days and 2 nights - and 40 miles of walking, according to the Health app on my iPhone - in San Francisco. This morning I walked to Panera and Safeway, and I was struck by just how cold it was. It wasn't this cold in San Francisco. In San Francisco I could do a 7am walk without a jacket even, as it was easily 15 degrees warmer than it is here in Sacramento in the morning. I checked my Weather app. 35 degrees. Yikes.

As I strolled through the Fort Mason, Marina, and Fisherman's Wharf areas yesterday morning, I was struck by the dichotomy of San Francisco. It is at times serene and beautiful, at other times ugly and crazy. And noisy. But peaceful. And inspirational and disgustingly deplorable. It's basically a microcosm of American society, the good, the bad, and the ugly all rolled into one.

And I love it.

I love strolling through the streets lined with quaint shops and interesting architecture, narrow multi-story housing buildings that must cost millions. Every time I go to San Francisco I try and visit, or at least walk through, something or somewhere I haven't been. Or at least haven't been in a long, long time. On this trip I started at Ocean Beach and walked a few miles along the beach. I actually found several fully intact sand dollars, which is somewhat rare as they tend to all be cracked and broken by the time they see fit to show themselves amongst the sandy dunes. I also went through the Embarcadero, from the Ferry Building to the Marina, though that is pretty common for me to do. I enjoyed some clam chowder one night at Pier 39 while watching the bustling hordes of people, bouncing off of each other as they wander around like children lost in a candy story. Overwhelmed.

I walked up Columbus Ave through North Beach, which I hadn't really ever been to, through Washington Square Park and eventually through Chinatown and up on into Union Square. I treated myself to a movie (Mary Poppins Returns) at the Metreon AMC, an area I've never been in I think. I had lunch at the Italian Homemade Company, which I had never been to. It was good, fresh, homemade pasta (tortellini in my case). Not especially cheap, and an a somewhat informal and less than spacious seating area of rickety tables and barstools. But it somehow felt uniquely San Franciscan. I went to a couple of used book stores and bought some new treasures at great prices. I went to a comedy Club - Cobb's Comedy Club - which has the look of an old institution of the formal glory days of live entertainment. It was nice though, although being a 'party of 1" got me squished in between two tables of 20-30 year old couples. They had a surprisingly expansive food menu, and it all looked pretty tasty, though I had already eaten at the little cafe next door. And they have a two drink minimum; it occurred to me that I've never been anywhere that had a drink minimum. Not that I mind, except their drink prices were incredibly inflated. One block away there's an old sports bar that has a happy hour featuring $3 draughts and well drinks. I think that's the best drink special I've seen in San Francisco. I had a Stella. And also a $7 margarita that was quite excellent.

And of course what trip wouldn't end correctly without a trip to Ghirardelli Square? I had my staple of a Nob Hill Chill. The guy who made it filled it a bit short, about 3/4" from the top. When I made a remark about it being a little short, he tried to tell me that's "how they're made" and that I "could have whip cream if I want". No, sir, that's not how they're made. Not usually. But I let it go and went on my way, and enjoyed the drink whilst sitting by the bay and watching the waves lap up against the shore. And I thought to myself, in the words of Kurt Vonnegut (or rather his uncle Alex Vonnegut), "If this isn't nice, what is?"

Friday, December 14, 2018

End of the Year

Well it's not quite the end of the year yet, but it's definitely the end of the school year. Today is Friday of finals week. Normally it's fairly peaceful at the School of Music by this time of year, but today there is a lot of hubbub around the building. Partly because there's a faculty retreat today, which is the first time we've had an end of semester retreat. But also there's a lot of students still hovering around, likely because everyone got thrown behind schedule when the school closed for two weeks in November.

Oh year, the school closed for two weeks in November. Due to the now notorious Camp Fire, about 90 miles north of us in Butte County, air quality from the smoke severely impacted our region. In Sacramento it looked like we had very foggy conditions all day long. But it wasn't fog. The AQI was going into the 400s in several areas. So many colleges closed for the week before Thanksgiving, and the week of Thanksgiving. K-12 schools stayed open but without any outdoor activities, finally closing on the Friday before Thanksgiving. The fire was the worst in California history, both in destruction and in loss of life. It was unlike anything I've ever seen around here.

Anyways, due to the closure and missing two weeks of school and ensemble rehearsals, we had about a dozen concerts that were cancelled and/or rescheduled. So my work life was quite busy when we all returned to campus after Thanksgiving. Now, several weeks later, I've finally got my head above water. And now it's almost time for a nice winter break.

On the music side of things, I have not been too active this semester. I did re-arrange Gordo's Revenge for the marching band's pre-show music, and I wrote them a new arrangement of the Star Bangled Banner. But other than that I've been quietly hiding in the shadows of the music world. The last show I played in was the LOTS production of The Gondoliers in August. I haven't even updated my website since then. And I won't even get started on the last time I wrote any original music. I guess it's been hard for me to find inspiration. Not sure that will change anytime soon; I imagine I'll just idle my way through the holidays into 2019. Maybe the new year will see some new sparks of life from me...

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.