Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tomorrow's American Manager!

The townhouse abuts a city park, and a softball diamond is right outside the patio door. It's sort of like living in Wrigleyville - free entertainment on summer evenings.
This afternoon, a couple of dads had taken their boys for a pickup game. These are fun to watch.
I was watching the game when the batter, who looked like he was about 10, hit a chopper up the middle. The shortstop, who looked about 9, just kinda stood there as the ball bounced to the outfield. The batter beat out a standup double.
"It wasn't my fault! I wasn't ready!" said the shortstop. "You shouldn't have pitched 'til I was ready! It wasn't my fault!"
I think that boy has a bright future ahead of him as a manager of an old technology business. Sign that boy up for his golden parachute right now!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The leader of the band

Word came this morning - Robert has been named one of the drum majors for this fall's edition of the Mount Pleasant High School Marching Band.
It will be Robert's fourth year with the marching band. He joined in eighth grade for the "Elemental Led" Led Zeppelin show; his freshman year saw "Socially Numb," with the music of Pink Floyd; as a sophomore, the Oiler band scored its highest score in years, and earned a fourth-place finish with "The Show Must Go On," featuring the music of Queen.
This fall, the band shifts gears, planning a show based on Johann Pachelbel's "Canon in D Major" and derivative compositions.
Robert is the first junior in recent memory to be named a field commander of the Oiler Band.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pepsi Throwback

This was an interesting experience.
I stopped at Walgreen's tonight to pick up some things, and I noticed they still had Pepsi Throwback in the cooler. I apparently am part of the target market for this product, made with actual sugar, as opposed to high-fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup recently has been linked to all kinds of issues, especially since someone noticed that when the stuff replaced real sugar in processed food, we all got fat.
But I just think this "new" product tastes better. Really. I can tell. So can Andrew.
"I can taste the cola," he said, "not just sludge."
Behind me at Walgreen's was a family of three females - it looked like Grandma, Mama and daughter. The little girl was about 6 or 7.
I reached for the Pepsi Throwback, and the little girl, right behind me, also reached for one.
"No, dear, that's one of the nasty ones," Mama said. Oh, my, I thought, a food freak. Next comes the lecture on phosphoric acid, the 37.5 mg of caffeine per 12-ounce serving, the obesity challenge.
"Here, why don't you get a Mountain Dew?"
Um ... I must be missing something

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

For the fourth straight Memorial Day, we headed downtown for the Oiler Marching Band and the Mt. Pleasant Memorial Day Parade.
Attendance was as good as previous years - and the band sounded terrific.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Spring concert bootleg

Mt. Pleasant High School's Symphonic Band and Symphonic Wind Ensemble performed their spring concerts Thursday.
There were many highlights - this is a serious concert.
Robert's a member of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble.
The show ranged from Holst's early 20th century "Mars" from "The Planets" (designated as the Martian National Anthem in "Stranger in a Strange Land") to the familiar and challenging "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor," credited to Bach and arranged for wind instruments.
Listen to the performance - and bear in mind, this is a performance by small-town high school musicians.
I said "Wow."

The Planets
I. Mars
Gustav Holst (1874-1934)
Mt. Pleasant High School Wind Ensemble
May 21, 2009

O Magnum Mysterium
Marten Lauridsen (b. 1943)
arr. H. Robert Reynolds
Mt. Pleasant High School Wind Ensemble
May 21, 2009

Joseph Curiale (b. 1955)
Mt. Pleasant High School Wind Ensemble
May 21, 2009

Powered by

Children's March (Over the Hills and Far Away)
Percy Grainger (1882-1961)
Mt. Pleasant High School Wind Ensemble
May 21, 2009

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
Arr. Erik Leidzen
Mt. Pleasant High School Wind Ensemble
May 21, 2009

Home from college

Andrew's home from college, his first year at Michigan Tech over.
He's judging it to be a success.
"Hey, I'm not on academic probation," he said.
Of course, none of us have seen much of him. As soon as he got back to town, he got his old job back and he's been working a lot. (It's amazing what knowing what you're doing, having a reputation for showing up for work, and providing good customer service will do for you, even during Depression 2.0.)
He's also been spending immense amounts of time with die Fraulein.
Between those two top priorities, it's been a case of just sort of being vaguely aware that there's another person in the house. I know there has to be, because food keeps disappearing.
But I think back to when I was his age, back home from my first year at Central. Everything had changed, and that's apparently the whole point of that exercise.
Hey, he's not on academic probation. Welcome home, Andrew.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How awkward!

A month or so ago, I began doing quick-hit news updates for WCFX radio. The paper's had a long-standing deal with the radio station. Putting a newspaper voice on the air helps both media, by promoting the newspaper and spicing the the "Breakfast Flakes" morning show with yet another voice.
It's been pretty successful, but at least one of Katherine's friends is a little freaked out by it.
Imagine. You're a teenager, and all of a sudden, your friend's FATHER starts showing up on your favorite radio station.
"I heard your dad on the radio," she said. "It was a little awkward."
It just messes with the whole theater-of-the-mind thing, doesn't it?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

MBA plus 1

Blogger's note: Kissy Missy and I were having a quiet Sunday morning. I had just shot some portraits of the cats (look for them soon) when I noticed that it was one year ago she received her MBA from Northwood. How did I know this?
Because I'm a wonderful husband, and I remember.
Actually, I saw the images in the file with the date on them.
Now, I would have sworn I had made a blog entry, but somehow, they're not there. I had images prepped, but ....
I am a bad, bad husband. I forgot. Fail!
Soooo .... belatedly, the world knows now! and

The family joins her as Kissy Missy officially becomes part of Northwood University's Class of 2008 and receives her master's degree.

With the graduate degree comes a cowl - to be worn to all formal academic events, such as commencements, henceforth.

Crossing the stage to receive the diploma.

Celebrating outside on a beautiful day in May.

And joining other members of her cohort to mark the end of the course of study - and the beginning of life with a graduate degree.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Meet Charles, our newest pet

Meet Charles, the vacuum robot.
It seems that Mother's Day was all about cleaning. The family gave Kissy Missy a car detailing job, and she decided on her own to get a Roomba.
The machine actually does a terrific job, scooting across the bare floor of the kitchen and the carpeted floors in the rest of the house like a dream. It's pulled a completely amazing amount of cat hair out of the carpet.

Charles - named that by Katherine, by the way - operates on the same level, of course, as Minden and M√ľnchen. They were terrified of the regular vacuum cleaner, but they're extremely curious about Charles. Sometimes too curious, it seems.

Charles senses things mainly by bumping into them. If you don't want to be bumped into, move.
If he does bump into you, he'll just change direction and clean another section of floor. He's determined, very determined.

It's the 21st Century. We have a robot, and Kissy Missy says she feels like Jane Jetson, although Charles isn't as sophisticated as Rosie.
Although Rosie might have shooed Minden out of the way, too.
Ma! He's chasing me! Make him stop!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Giving blood, giving back

Katherine gave blood for the first time today.
She's 17, old enough to donate, and took part in a blood drive at school.
She's valuable as a donor - with O+ blood, she's a "universal donor."
She was healthy - she's avoided the nasties that have hit her brother and me - and it will certainly bring good Karma.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Getting the flu

I'm pretty sure the flu has invaded the household. Fevers greater than 100, coughing, intestinal upsets, headaches, bodyaches, don't-touch-me skin.
I haven't been to see a doctor. It seems like run-of-the-mill flu, and there's not a lot can be done about that. I don't think it will wipe us out.
But I hear that we're not supposed to call it "swine flu" anymore. The health establishment has started calling it by its scientific name, H1N1, and dropped the "swine" label.
Mustn't offend the pigs ...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cannibal, the Musical

The spring show at Mt. Pleasant High School was one of the most controversial, most over-the-top shows they've done in years.
"Cannibal! The Musical" was performed Friday and Saturday.
The story is that of Alferd Packer, the only American ever convicted of cannibalism, in Colorado in the early part of the 20th century.
The back story, according to the official Web site:
Originally a student of music, director Trey Parker (who later went on to fame and fortune as a creator of "South Park") transferred from the prestigious Berklee School of Music to Colorado University at Boulder to study film, and it was there he gave birth to his twisted brainchild "Alferd Packer: The Musical". Parker not only wrote, produced, directed and played the leading role in the film, he also wrote the songs and collaborated on the score.
The film began as a three-minute fake trailer made for an advanced film production class and, as a joke the director said he was going to make the actual film. "People kept asking 'Where's the movie?" says Parker "The response was so positive, we decided we'd do it"
Together with fellow students Matt Stone, Jason McHugh and Ian Hardin (average age 23) they formed the Avenging Conscience Inc production company and raised $75,000 from private investors, friends and family by the day they needed to start shooting. They employed fellow students as cast members and took parts in the film themselves each stepping into each others shoes behind the camera when necessary. From conception to being in the can the film took around twelve months.
When Troma picked up the film in 1996, they realized that few people outside of Colorado had ever heard of Alferd Packer, so they re-released it under the name, Cannibal! The Musical.

Mt. Pleasant High School senior Matt Boles pushed hard to put on a stage adaption of the film, and succeeded. The script had to be heavily edited and reworked to get rid of the obscenities.
The topic - "All Singing! All Dancing! All Flesh-Eating!" made it controversial, and other challenges raised a lot of skepticism.
But ultimately, the show was hilarious - for people with the right mind-set, of course.
Robert and La Madamoiselle were part of the five-piece pit band.
And Matt - the director, adapter and driving force behind the show - has been familiar to us since the days when he was part of the youth staff at Cub Scout camps 'way back around the turn of the century.
He's always been like this.