‘Star Wars: Outbound Flight’ – Chapter 19 (Part 13)

Saturday and the day of our big competition.  Vestal decided to host a competition this year because they have a beautiful new stadium to use (which the marching band had the pleasure of using all of three times this season) and so the director of the band decided that we should host a show.  Well, as the conference is the way they are, the only date open was the day before the championships.  It is good in some ways as we got a chance to see bands like Brentwood from Long Island, as they stopped and did a competition at Vestal on their way to Syracuse.  The only problem with the date is the fact that it was the day before championships and there wasn’t much we were going to do between today and tomorrow to fix the show.  No time, so in some ways, today’s competition was a way for us to gear how we were going to do on championships.  Well, it turned out to be quite the day.

I got up around seven o’clock this morning and got myself ready to head over to the school and looked outside and noted that it was cold and wet and had been since early last night.  I figured I would get over to the school and find out from the director that the show got moved inside.  Why?  Simple, it’s the day before championships and who’s gonna want to get their flags and props wet, especially considering you have less than twenty-four hours to dry anything off.  I was especially concerned about our own ninety foot by ninety foot mat.  If there is anything that Jim and I have learned throughout the season was that this mat becomes a “Slip n’ Slide” when it’s wet at all.  But, I got to the school and our director said we would be practicing inside, but would be doing the show outside as he didn’t think it was that bad.  To make matters worse, they pulled out the mat that our kids march on and let it sit out in the rain.  Mind you, while we practiced indoors, the mat was out in the rain in at least three downpours that came down so hard that we could hear it against the roof of the gymnasium we were in.  It was making me angry to know that our mat was sitting out in that rain, but I never said anything to the director as I figured it was his call and if his kids were going to break their neck, it would be on his shoulders.  But, what really upset me was the fact that he didn’t seem to care about his own kids’ safety.  I would personally not have taken the risk.

We got done practicing and warming the kids up and it seemed like in no time it was time for the kids to go out and perform their show.  I have to say they put out a good show.  It wasn’t great, but I know they were holding back a little because the championships were tomorrow and they needed to really umph it up for the next day.  But, with all of that said, they put on a great show for the hometown crowd.  I thought that might get some hometown love from the judges, but for some reason it didn’t translate.  As a matter of fact, the tapes were almost disturbing to listen to.  There were positive comments made all over the place and the amount of style changes were noted and Jim and I thought that we finally got a set of judges that got our show and were going to give us credit for it.  Then, we got the judges sheets and I was blown away by the lack of appreciation for the show in the score and I was even more shocked at the comments on the sheet.  For example, one judge said our students were constantly out of step.  When we compared that with the comments on the tape, we began to realize that he didn’t recognize that our students use a right foot lead.  So, if they’re all out of step, then logically, they’re in step, right?  Here’s another interesting take from the meeting today.  I pressed the GE Visual judge about why we didn’t get credit for attempting harder material.  I said we know we didn’t execute said material separately, but we attempted harder material and got no credit for making the attempt.  He tried to come up with some convoluted reason as to why he didn’t give us credit and then suddenly, he admitted that he was thinking about the other bands, which by the way is a big “no, no” according to The New York State Field Band Conference.  That’s right, you heard me correctly, I got a judge to admit that he padded his score.  Alan Buell was his name and I later looked up his profile and found out that he’s the chief financial officer for The Empire Statesman.  Of all people to get me pissed off, he was not the one.  Not only did Alan Buell admit to padding our score, which he then tried to back peddle on, but had nowhere to go.  He threatened to lower our score at the championship show, sighting, “it’s not smart to make a judge on your championship panel mad with you and your band the day before championships”.  That’s right, that’s a direct quote from a judge.  Do you think my director said anything about it?  Nope!  Instead he told me that I went way too far at that meeting and may have jeopardized Vestal’s chances at championships!  This judge should be removed from the Championship panel tonight and my director should be making the call to make it happen!  Instead, he’s defending the NYSFBC judge.  It didn’t make me feel like I was part of the team!

My favorite moment of the day was the beginning of the judges meeting though.  We addressed the judge that said all of our student were out of step.  I stated that if they were all out of step, then weren’t they therefore in step, considering they were all out of step together.  He got caught off guard and tried to explain and didn’t know how to.  Then he back peddled and said, “I saw some of your students marching out of step”.  Jim said, “No, you didn’t!  My students don’t march out of step and now you’re lieing to us”.  The judge said, “maybe I am” (in a sarcastic tone).  Needless to say, that judge wouldn’t look at Jim or myself in the eye for the rest of the judges meeting.  What can I say, it was an awful judges meeting.  I’ve never had a judges meeting that was this big of a joke and worse yet, there is nothing we can do about it!  Some of these guys are on our championship panel and they’re willing to make these comments the day before championships?  Who are these guys and who do they think they are?!!  I guess what depresses me the most about the NYSFBC judges is that most of them do not come from respectable programs.  Heck, some of them have never even been in a functioning marching band, instead they do things like serve as a “financial officer” for a Drum Corps.  Do you know what that means?  It means he collects the money and pays the bills.  And that gives you experience to judge?!!  This conference is really starting to get on my nerves.

We got done with the day and Jim and I were in a pissed off mood when we left.  I was really pissed off at the fact that I don’t think our director is going to say anything about this to the conference president and this meeting should have been brought to the head judge’s attention as soon as it happened.  I came home and vented to Heather and we talked for a while and ate dinner together as family and talked about tomorrow and what the plan was and we headed to bed early as tomorrow was going to be another long day and championships could only be more interesting than this competition was today.
Okay, so enough stress for one day.  Let’s talk about Part 13 of Chapter 19 of “Star Wars:  Outbound Flight” by Timothy Zahn…..

Chapter 19 (Part 13):  Six hours later, Car’das arrived seeing the battle was doen.  He saw debris and bodies, but noted the many Vagaari ships orbiting the planet.  He noted all the small ships moving between the planet and the larger docked ships, knowing they were bringing in supplies and slaves.  He thought he should just turn around, but talked himself into heading toward one of the larger Vagaari ships.  His comm was now open with a strange alien language being yelled at him and he answered in Sy Bisti.  No answer.  He tried Minnisiat and an alien asked for his name, species, and intentions.  He introduced himself as Jorj Car’das of Corellia and then said he was here to offer them a deal.


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