‘Star Wars: Outbound Flight’ – Chapter 20 (Part 1)

Sunday.  Championship Day and the last day I have to work with these kids this year.  I have to say that I’m a little nostalgic about the idea that the Seniors will move on and this is the last day I’ll get a chance to work with them.  I have to say that through all the struggles with the judges, I’m really proud of the kids in this marching band and I really hope they get the credit they deserve this year.  I got up a little early today, around eight o’clock or so and got myself ready for the day.  Jim was coming by to pick me up around eleven o’clock or so and we could’ve gone to church this morning and rushed around trying to get everything together, but instead I decided to sleep in a little and get as much energy as I could before the day began.  I got a nice breakfast with Heather and the kids and got my backpack together for the day today and then did some math work, which I’ll talk about in a minute.

Jim came and picked me up around eleven o’clock or so and we started to make our way to Syracuse and to where we were supposed to meet Vestal at a place called “Sky Top”, which is where the bands get off the buses and get ready for their championship performance.  We had a nice discussion about the year on our way up to Sky Top and we discussed the future of the marching band and where we saw ourselves fitting into that future.  I told Jim that I’m not sure how many more years I can continue to do marching band.  My time is limited as I’m spending a lot of time away from my kids and family and I’m starting to feel guilty about that aspect of being a member of the staff for the Vestal marching band.  It’s not the band kids themselves or the program, it’s the amount of time I’m spending away from my own children.  Anyway, Jim and I had a nice discussion and talked about our lives a little and then we ended up getting to Sky Top.  The band was nowhere to be found and while Jim and I were there, the weather started to get worse.  On our ride up to Sky Top we noticed that the rain had turned from straight rain to a mix of rain and sleet.  Buy the time we got to Sky Top it turned from sleet to straight out snow.  Jim and I waited for about twenty minutes till Vestal finally showed up at Sky Top.

Jonathan had them unload all the percussion equipment and gave the winds and percussion to Jim and I and said that now was the time to get them warmed up.  Quite honestly, Jim and I took it easy on the students.  Why?  I wasn’t about to push my students when it was this cold outside and they just weren’t in the mood to be pushed.  As I said to Jim, there isn’t much to be done, other than getting them to move around a little as there wasn’t anything we could practice up here.  It’s championship day and there was no way we could make any changes from yesterday to today.  I have to say, if it was me, I would not have even brought the percussion or wind instruments out anyway.  Why?  Simple, any music teacher will tell you that by brining out any instruments in that kind of weather will change the tuning on said instrument.  The percussion instruments got soaked and I’m sure the intonation on them got messed up pretty bad.  The wind instruments just don’t need to be out in the snow and sleet and it can actually cause cracks in the wood on things like clarinets.  But, we were charged to do a task, and I did it to the best of my ability.  We got them warmed up and then put them on the buses, but the wind instructor insisted they go over the music before we leave.  A bad idea if you ask me, but we did so anyway.  We then got on the buses and headed down to the Syracuse Carrier Dome.  Jim and I drove ahead and managed to get a little lost on our way down to the dome, but then managed to find our way to a parking lot, but found a free parking space on the street and got lucky getting a parking space on the street that didn’t cost Jim a dime.

We then met the band at the big doors to go into the dome.  We were going to help the parents set up the props and the pit equipment, but Jim and I didn’t want to get in the way as it seemed as though they had a plan to get it all put together in time.  I have to say the parents for Vestal are amazing and I was very impressed not only with our props for the show this year, but how fast they were able to put those props together today.  We were ready to go within twenty minutes and they opened the pressurized doors and in we went.  I have to say that everytime I enter the dome through the air locks, I get nostalgic and think back to the first time I ever did that with the Webster Marching Band back in 1989.  It just makes me remember how HUGE I thought the place was.  Now, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not that big.  Especially when you compare it to Bills Stadium or to the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.  So, we then headed to the locker room and got ready to go on the field.  The kids were mellow, yet pumped.  We went around the room and did our pep talks.  I had something very simple to say.  I told them that based on the average age of a person being 65, the fifteen minutes that they were about to perform was less than .03% of their life.  I told all of them they have two choices, it could be the fastest .03% of their life they have ever lived OR it could be the most memorable .03% of their life they’ve ever lived.  It was up to each of them to create memories that they would never forget.  And I told them amongst all that work, to never forget – to have – FUN!!  We then headed out to the football field.

The kids did a wonderful job on the show!  I couldn’t have asked for anything more.  We got on and off the field in plenty of time.  The show was spectacular and I have to say I was really proud of the students for doing what they did.  They put on a great show that had a lot of energy and the sound they produced was solid and it was quality sound.  I have to say that it truly was the best show they have put on all year long.  I want to say to anyone reading this that if you had seen this show, you would have been impressed with this little band from Vestal.  We got done and headed over to get  our pictures taken and I have to say the pics were fun.  We had our usual serious and then funny pictures taken.  I loved our funny picture because Becky (the guard instructor, and my evil twin), Jim and myself did “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Speak No Evil” which I thought was pretty funny considering it pretty much summed us up as a staff.  We got done with pics when we realized that the guard had pulled some of the props off onto the wrong side of the field, simply because they were never told which direction to take them by the director and the director blamed the guard instructor, and I know the director had no discussion with the guard instructor about it.  Anyway, instead of having the kids take care of the problem, instead he sent his staff.  That’s right the staff became the “donkeys” as it were and we had to take the props to the lock doors and take then outside and acrossed the street.  Once we got there, the parents made some smart comments to us that we should stay and help them tear down the props and I said we had to get back to the kids considering our director was with them alone.  We got inside, talked with the kids for a little bit and then we went and got some food.

Once I got some food, I found my family and sat down with them for a little while and finished watching the Large School 2 and Large School 3 classes.  None of the bands had any shows that stood out at all.  All of the shows were “safe”, meaning that they took no risks in their shows and they played their shows to the judges, meaning that if you were a small band, then you played – moved – played – moved.  Why can’t small bands play and move at the same time?  For some reason, the judges in this conference think that small bands should not even attempt that!  Anyway, we parted our ways shortly before the end of the Large School 2 class as I had to be back with the Vestal band to go onto the floor for the awards ceremony.

I was disappointed with our placement considering we came in 11th place out of 12 bands, but that was not the most disappointing part.  We only got a score of 72.55.  To me, that was massively depressing and not even for me personally, but for my students.  I felt bad because I thought they did so much better than that, but obviously, the judges didn’t see it the same way.  When we got the recap sheets, I checked Alan Buel’s scores and he kept the same scores from yesterday.  No more, no less, just enough to keep me from reporting his ass to the NYSFBC.  In my eyes, he is now one of the worst judges I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and I hope I never talk to the man again, because I think he just does not get what judging in NYSFBC is all about.  We got done with the awards ceremony and I joined back up with my family after some quick goodbyes with the Vestal students and went back and joined my family and we drove home together.  As Heather drove home, I texted Josh and told him about my frustrations with this past week and told him good luck.  Of course, they got first place later tonight, so congratulations to his band and to him and his staff!!  As always, you can find the scores for the NYSFBC at www.nysfbc.org.  Go on over and check it out and see where all the bands landed.  We got home this evening after eating dinner at Burger King on the way home and being depressed about the weekend.  I crashed at home and we all went to bed as this week was going to be about catching up on everything this week.
Okay, let’s talk about Part 1 of Chapter 20 of “Star Wars:  Outbound Flight” by Timothy Zahn…..


Chapter 20 (Part 1):  The fighters directed Car’das to a starboard docking bay of a smaller warship.  Heavily armed escorts took Car’das from his shuttle to a holding cell where they stripped him and scanned him and his clothing multiple times.  Car’das had not doubt that this shuttle was undergoing the same rigorous scanning.  Car’das tried resting in his holding cell, but took to pacing as he feared they would just kill him and then continue on pillaging.  Two hours later, the two Vagaari guards reappeared and gave him his clothes and watched him get dressed, then escorted him to a transport with no windows that took him to more Vagaari guards in fancier armor.  Car’das had deduced that someone higher up had finally decided to talk to him.  He was shocked when he was ushered into a massive throne room with a chair in the middle of the room and a Vagaari seated in the choir wearing multi-colored robes and four belts.  He was flanked by less obnoxiously dressed Vagaari that Car’das assumed were advisors.  Car’das bowed and greeted the Vagaari in Minnisiat when he was struck to his knees by the Vagaari guards around him, who told him that he does not speak to the Miskara unless spoken to…..

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