The Blame Knight Rises

I went to midnight showings for two movies. The first was the release of episode one of Star Wars. I did that completely legit. I waited in line for hours, I got my tickets, I saw the movie, I went home and cried for a few hours about how bad it was. The second time was for the first Lord of the Rings movie. A friend who was the manager of the theater got me in for the employee viewing.

I never got into the idea that seeing a movie sooner made it better. Maybe that’s why I don’t understand why people think it’s cool to say “First” in comment sections of…everything. I don’t like lines and I hate feeling like my personal space bubble has been popped forever. I think I understand why other people do it, and why some choose to dress up as characters from the movies, but it’s not for me. If it were possible, I’d love to go and always be alone in the theater or just have a few friends with me. Perhaps that’s why lately we tend to wait for the DVD release, or even the TV premier.

I have wanted to write a little on some current topics that have been floating around lately, and the shooting in Aurora is one of those topics. I’m still very new to blogging and sometimes I get the urge to run before walking, but something told me that people were going to be popping out write ups pretty fast. I guess I didn’t realize how quick that would happen. The morning after the shootings, as more and more information was making itself public, many bloggers were clacking away at their keyboards, salivating over being the first one to click publish on their post. As a steady outflow of posts began to make it’s way on to my twitter feed, I was reminded of a time when I was young. I was maybe ten or eleven and one of the neighborhood kids and I were having ourselves a heated little argument. Since I was so young at the time, I assume it was about which was better – bomb pops or orange push-ups. As the tension rose to the point of emanate fighting, I started to lose it a bit. I was so angry that everything I said was utterly stupid and made no sense at all. I would get my words out of order, and everyone watching would laugh, adding to my frustration of trying to explain how upset I was getting.

It doesn’t matter what happened afterward, for the point of what I’m saying here is reacting to anything at your highest point of anger doesn’t work. Reacting to things before you really know what’s going on is dangerous, and desperately rushing to react at all will often leave you stumbling so bad that you lose the entire point of what you wanted to say.

I can’t say if anyone regrets their knee-jerk posts or if they feel compelled to add or subtract from their statements. I will say that I was really disappointed with the theme of posts that were pumping out before the dust had even settled inside the theater.

Not surprising, it was all about who to point the finger at.

Blame Hollywood. Blame Warner Brothers. Blame Democrats. Blame Republicans. Blame the guy’s parents. Blame local police. Blame the theater. Blame the people who were inside the theater.

Sadly, many of these posts became a feeding ground of comments and finger pointing. Many people noted the baiting headlines and subject matter. As I stated, I’m new to the blogging world, and perhaps I’m just not sly enough to realize that if I really want people to read my work, I need to use titles like “Women are stupid,” “Shut up women, there’s a man about to talk,” or “10 reasons why men are just better at everything ever.” I find it a little sad that there’s a need to resort to trick tactics in the blogging arena to become “popular” but perhaps that’s why I don’t get many views each day (be on the lookout for my post next week: “You, yes YOU, don’t know how to do ANYTHING cause you are a DUMMYHEAD!”).

I’m going to close this with a story from my recent camping trip. A friend of mine received some heart wrenching news while we were on the trip. A troubled co-worker had killed himself. I’ve been in his shoes before, and watching him go through the instant pain of hearing the news was hard and brought up some of my own memories of dealing with that type of loss. In the middle of so much pain, it seems to be the natural human response to reach out for something to blame. A way to put an image in your mind of where to direct all the anger. The question of “why” becomes a sort of quest, as if the answer will make everything better. We talk about how we would have done things so differently, so much better, and so much smarter. We talk about our own adversities and how we’ve managed to overcomes them and be so well adjusted. I think we do this to distance ourselves; to pretend that in our world, tragedies of such a horrible nature never happen. We’re all very smart and in control of our lives. Reality is normally much more simplistic than the worlds we see in movies. It’s supposed to be. Movies are meant to offer a place of joyful escape be it thrilling adventures in space or spontaneously finding true love in a diner, but our lives are no more Gotham City than they are Mayfield.

Blame won’t bring anyone peace. I would offer instead the idea that when tragedies like this arise, it is a great time for thoughtful conversation, not angry ramblings. It’s a great time to remind yourself of the people you love and the need to make your time with them special. It’s a great time to try and push forward, not stand still and scream. This tragic shooting, and situations like it, are not rational, and they are not carried out by rational people. Trying to connect the dots of “why” is a long, unending road because you won’t find reason where it doesn’t exist.

I doubt anyone who I took note of as a person who felt they had the entire situation figured out during a time when many news organizations were still using the term “alleged shooting,” actually reads my tiny blip of internet. However, many people read their blogs, and from time to time that includes me. I have to say, sometimes the successful people in any given field, suck.

Seriously, the fact that people were writing hateful, insensitive, blame-crazy things to those who had just lost loved ones, including kids…is disgusting. No one deserves that.

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The Music of the Field

Music has always been a major part of my life. Now that I’m a dad it’s funny to think that had it not been for the actions of several parents, I would likely be working as a band director. What might have been.

Now, this post is not to rehash points I have made before but more to highlight a specific event that not only needs support, but showcases the talent that youth of this and many countries possess.

It’s no secret that I was in marching band for a long time. I began in high school, attending band camp before school had even started. All tired “American Pie” flute jokes aside, I signed up for band the same way I signed up for any other class, so going to school before any of my friends had even thought about setting their alarms for the first time could have been a real rocky start to high school…had I not loved it so much. I continued marching in college and even instructed for a period of time. I even moved up to the big leagues. Marching band big leagues? Yep, because what the majority of the population doesn’t know is that every summer since 1972 marching groups have competed all over the country under the title: Drum Corps.

The competition, known as the World Summer Music Games, operates under the governing body of Drum Corps International. Ask anyone who has marched what “drum corps” is, and you’ll get a wide variety of rehearsed answers. Truthfully, it’s not that difficult to explain. It’s marching band. Though woodwind instruments (clarinet, flute, saxophone, etc.) are not used and it is much more on a professional level. That’s it really. An extremely well rehearsed marching band. The problem is…it’s so much more than that, so people who have given their time and body to one of the almost 50 current marching groups, don’t want to give such a simple answer. In addition, people have a general stigma regarding marching bands which generally stems from underwhelming performances from high school bands during half-time at a football game. So people within the drum corps community try to avoid the marching band label.

I should mention, the people you’ll see in a drum corps show are the absolute best of the best within their ages (kids start as young as 10 in some groups and you become ineligible after 21). How so? These people go through rigorous audition processes, which from the start includes an audition fee. As there are not drum corps groups in every state, and people often want to march for a specific group, they pay extensive travel bills just for a chance  to maybe get one of 150 coveted spots. Should you be offered a spot, it comes with a very hefty bill (more on that in a moment) and once a month practices for which you pay more travel bills. After several months, you give up your life for the summer to tour from June to August, culminating in a week of finals competitions.

Why the major bills? Two reasons really. The first is fairly simple to understand. It takes an enormous amount of money to do what these groups do. Once you move in with your group, everything is taken care of for you. You are fed three meals a day, with additional snacks. You are given a place to sleep, which by and large means sleeping on a gym floor of a local high school at whatever city you happen to be in that night. You are provided with world class instructors to help you be the best you can possibly be through countless hours of practicing. You are given a uniform, which is altered for you and cleaned for you. Lastly, they transport you everywhere. If at any point over your summer you notice a large number of charter buses in your area, this could be why. Most performing groups make a little bit of money at every show, but it’s nowhere near enough. So in order to march, you pay “dues” which today almost always means a couple thousand dollars. Drink that in. The second reason, is interest. Which is why I’ll be asking you all for a favor shortly. The kids who march in these groups are mostly from America, and the tour itself stays within American borders (in past years there was a single stop in Canada), but while groups play throughout the country all summer long, most people who are not tied to marching bands in some way, never hear about it. Advertising is expensive, food for these kids is expensive, this is an expensive activity. So getting the word out, and proving that this is an exciting event to anyone who gives it a chance has proven difficult. However, technology has allowed us a very cool opportunity.

Live on the big screen, this is the quarter finals for the drum corps community and will showcase the top 12 groups based on scores leading up to the event. This is a chance to see these groups at their peak, and if you’re a fan of marching band or even if you just want to support music education and the arts, you’ll walk away happy. Check the site, it’s almost a guarantee you’ll find something in your direct area. With our rough economy and the rising price of keeping these kids safe while on the road, four groups have needed to pull off tour during the season this year due to financial issues. Keep this great organization that has been a dream for many kids, up and running.

Support music!

If you have further questions, leave comments below!

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He is Happy!

Lately, William has made bedtime a struggle. I’m not just talking about our little scare the other night, which by the way has not happened again, the new safety door lock is amazing. No, it’s much more than that. When we close his door at night, we do so with the understanding that the room we saw as we left will not be there in the morning. William has taken to a variety of tasks before actually falling asleep. Things like putting on extra clothing, flipping his mattress over, or taking the majority of his clothes out of the dresser. In the end, I’ll take cleaning up the clothes over finding that he’s been playing outside while everyone was asleep, but it would still be nice of him to cut me a break. A little one?

He is growing up, no doubt about that, and with new levels of expectations comes new levels of stressful situations. Potty training is proof of that. When your kids are very young there is always a lot of discussion of milestones or normalcy for their age groups. We as parents are trained, in a way, to expect certain things to occur with our kids within a set time frame. Tonight I was reminded that I’ve never thought to ask if my son was happy. No one told me at what age I should check into that. I see his smiling face and hear his laughter which indicates happiness, but even though I know William doesn’t say very much (although lately he has been kicking that habit), it’s only fair that I would ask him at some point.

Tonight while I was washing some dishes, Melissa came downstairs and announced, “You need to come look at your son.” Melissa and I have a general rule when it comes to the boys, and I think it’s a pretty common thing for parents. Phrases like, “That’s my boy” are for when we want to personally take credit for something. On the other hand, “your son” is generally followed by something not necessarily bad, just something we want to pretend doesn’t stem from watching us. Considering it was well past the time he should have been asleep, I was assuming it had something to do with dad’s inherited “angry sleeping face.” Yeah, I sleep with a very displeased face.

I was informed that he had put on a pair of underwear over his pajamas, which really isn’t that bad. It was so much better! He had put on six totally different socks, three on each foot. I’ll admit that I like to keep the house a little on the cold side, I run hot, but 3 socks per foot seems like overkill. He was in fact wearing underwear over his pajamas…backwards. Awesome. Also my personal favorite, a single sock on his right hand. It’s the kind of outfit women think of when the picture that perfect guy. William is way ahead of the curve.

Melissa woke him up, as he had pulled the top mattress off again. We got him all settled in and Melissa walked out of the door, saying good night. I stood for a few moments with a big grin on my face. Stuff like this, is the kind of ridiculous that makes people want to have kids. I believe that. I leaned in, gave him a tight squeeze, and a kiss. With one more stupid grin moment, I turned to leave saying, “You look silly, buddy.”

From a rather sleepy face, “I’m HAPPY!”

So I’ve got that goin’ for me…

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