Monday, July 28, 2008

Crossmen Show

The Crossmen show from San Antonio is on youtube. The sound and visual quality is poor but it still gives you a good overview of the various formations, and how the players and sections weave in and through each other.

Trying to know where Josh is in the formation is a challenge. From pictures and what he told me this past Saturday here is what I know.

Josh starts on screen left on the 41 in the back part of the x. He is the front position, or third in from the left coming down the front of the back part of the x. When they break into the next formation (0:34 mark) he is on the 39.

At the 2:43 mark, just before the battery moves through the hornline, Josh is midway on the 35. When the battery (drumline) bisect the hornline they move in front of Josh.

One the company front at 3:37, Josh is at the right 36 yard line between the two contrabases. At the 4:15 mark he is on the 42 anchoring the top of the hornline arch.

In the scatter just after Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (about the 6:25 mark) Josh is literally squatting/sitting on the 28 between the two hash marks as they move into the ballad. He has to quickly move from there to the back beside a contra. At the 7:30 mark he is around the 25 yard line by the contras.

At the 10:34 march he is in the second line from the left, 4th from the back. I think he finishes on the 33, if not then he is in the longer line on the 31.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Visit With Josh at the Georgia Dome

From Monday through to Friday of this week I am in Atlanta as a member of a committee charged with selecting a database for the whole territory to use for donor management and direct mail. We have already had several rounds and by noon Friday we should be in a position to go forward with a recommendation. Unfortunately it meant that I am missing the Crossmen performing at the Kennedy Center on Tuesday and competing in Warrenton on Wednesday (about 40 minutes from the house).

Fortunately, as the Southeastern regional championship was being held on Saturday I flew to Atlanta early to catch a few moments with Josh. You do not get to visit with the participants before the show….if you were standing across from Josh he would ignore you, just as the other members ignore their friends and family. Upon arrival until they take off the uniform they are busy getting equipment together, dressing, warming up, putting on their game faces and getting their mind set for the task at hand.

This again was one of those shows where twelve teams compete in the afternoon to fill the last four places to join the top eight for the evening show that started at 7:00. Once again the Crossmen took the last spot, falling 0.3 points from taking the third spot (close but still a significant difference). Following the 3:30 announcement of scores I tried to find Josh. Their buses were over a half mile away and by the time I found them, Josh was off eating inside the Dome which I had just left.

I waited by the buses and his instrument for his return. I got to speak to him for 30 seconds, just enough time to tell him where I was sitting and took his picture (unfortunately I do not have a card reader to download it for this blog). Telling him where I was sitting was important as once they finished marching, packed their instruments and uniforms the Corps members can return to the show and watch the remaining Corps for free. As the Crossmen were the first to perform, he was able to find me and we watched the top seven Corps together.

By the way, Josh has a white upper lip as that morning he shaved his mustache. He still has a goatee. After the last Corps marched we said a quick goodbye and a see you in Indiana. Evie should see him on Wednesday in Warrenton.

In the past we have gone to the two day eastern regional in Allentown. If I have my druthers, I will go to Atlanta from here on out. I would fly out Friday and back on Sunday and see every Corps in one day. Being inside on chairs with arms and backs is much better than sitting on steel bleachers in the sun. Also to see all Corps in Allentown you have to attend both days whereas in Atlanta the same ticket gets you into both shows.

What made it even more enjoyable for me is that I was able to get a ticket for the club level. I wanted to be well above the field so I could take in the formations, but I did not want to be in the upper deck. Hence I ended up in the club level. As this is a professional football stadium, the club level has a range of extras. Besides being less crowded, the seats are nicely padded. Behind the seats the food area has padded seats and tables, and large televisions. Even in the washroom there is a 35” plasma television. The next DCI event in Atlanta, I know exactly what sections I am going to book.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Crossmen Update

Just after 4 PM Saturday afternoon we had a telephone call from Josh who was in San Antonio. Just by the time he called we knew that something important was happening.

Saturday was the first regional event where all World Class DCI Corps were on the same field. Since most nights there are two, sometimes three, different World Class events taking place you cannot always measure yourself against all the other Corps. Different venues and sets judges become wild cards in trying to measure your Corps against the other twenty Corps that are marching this year.

There are to top six Corps that each year draw experienced marchers from other Corps. With their depth and experience the top six Corps consistently finish in the top five by the end of the season. With their experience, these Corps can have the capability to start with a more complicated drill and continue to make it more complicated as they hone it. These Corps have great intensity and are only for the most serious marchers. With about half of their marchers from places like Julliard, they have big sound and ensemble skills. Corps like the Crossmen with younger and less experienced marchers cannot match the top six groups.

Below the top six are four Corps that are excellent but are just not quite at the same level as the top six. Most years these compete to finish in the top ten. Below that level is a cluster of nine Corps that are competitive with each other. Their goal is not to make it into the top ten but into the semi-finals (top 17) with the ultimate goal being to make it into the final show of the year (top 12). The Crossmen with their relocation to Texas are younger and less experienced than many of their peers….and last year finished 16th out of 22 Corps that marched (not all Corps march every year).

For regional events are the opportunity to show a Corps’s stuff and see how you measure up against others who are at a similar level. The top eight Corps have a bye to the evening show. In the afternoon the remaining Corps compete for the last four positions in evening show. Josh called even as two other Corps were yet to perform because when they left the field the Crossmen felt excited by how they performed. An hour and half later he called back to say that they finished 4th in the afternoon and therefore had the 12th spot in the evening show.

Even at a distance we celebrated with Josh. The Crossmen making the evening show is a significant advancement. The score between them and the two groups behind them were close but they make it. Most group consider moving up two places a year as a major step forward. While they may not make the 12th spot in this Saturday’s major regional this Saturday in Atlanta or into the finals at the World’s, taking the 12th spot in San Antonio before a home crowd is encouraging. It enhances their motivation to clean their show and work through their daily exhaustion and muscle aches. It confirms that they Crossmen are headed in the right direction and that getting into the top ten could with the retention of experienced marchers and staff only be a year or two away.

By the way, at the beginning of the afternoon show, a member of the color guard dislocated her knee. A staff member and another color guard quickly helped her off the field. The color guard member who helped his peer off the field returned to field. When an injury like that happens, it creates a hole but the judges do not deduct because of it.

For the next few nights the Crossmen are in Kansas. On Wednesday night they start Atlanta. Following Atlanta they go into Tennassee before heading to Warrenton in the Washington DC area. Unfortunately I am in Atlanta when Josh is in the area...but I am going to Atlanta early to take in the show at the Georgia Dome.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

An Interesting Announcer

People can say things at first sounding may not strike one as illogical or crazy but when considers the statement and/or context they make the speaker look foolish.

Tonight Evie and I attended a baseball game Alexandria. The Alexandria Aces play in Washington-Baltimore area short-season league that is for college players. The players work part-time in the area, are housed by volunteer families and play five games a week.

Tonight the announcer trying to promote the teams T-shirts encouraged the attendees to go to the booth “And buy a T-shirt like the one you can see that I am wearing.” Uhhh?? He is in an enclosed booth three feet behind the fence. The only are the windows to the field and the only people that can see him are the umpires and the players. What a hoot.

The other night upon the announcement of a change in hometown pitchers the Aces coach leapt from the dug-out. Being seated by the fence we could hear what he was muttering as he moved to stand before the open window on the field side of the fence. The manager basically muttered as he shook his head, “We have no Robert Johns. There is no Robert Johns in the league and I have never met such a person. How in the world can he get that wrong when he has a program in front of him.”

The announcer was still in great form tonight. At least three times he introduced the wrong player who was coming to the plate. Once he gave the name of the player on deck, once he announced that number 30 and the name from the program for 30 when it was number 3 coming to the plate, and once he gave the name of number 1 from the home team to the player wearing number 1 from the home team. The announcer was just as entertaining as the players, particularly in watching him bumble around with the wrong counts and scores on the scoreboard.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Come to Christ And Maybe Win A Gun

Below is a new tool being used for evangelism.

An Oklahoma church, Windsor Hills Baptist Church, has a unique evangelistic hook and tool to attract teens to a week-long youth event and revival. Along with volleyball, swimming, skating, singing and preaching, attendees learn to shoot handguns and semi-automatic weapons. Not only can these teens learn to shoot these powerful weapons but the church proudly advertises that one of the teens will be going home with a AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

The youth pastor explained that the shooting of weapons and the give-away was a means to help attract teens to attend the event. Some of the attendees were coming from as far away as Canada. Apparently the video on the church’s web site promoting the event showed teens from last year’s event shooting at objects using semi-automatic weapons.

Needless the say there has been a flood of negative attention upon the church. With the flood of attention, and an hour after the story broke on the local evening news, the church announced the shooting event and give-away will not happen because the man who was running the event injured his foot. The video of the prior year and the announcement about the guns was also quickly pulled from the web site.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hockey Fix 24/7

Five months ago our cable station added to their high definition mix of channels the NHL Channel. Several times a week I find myself drifting over the station to watch re-runs of NHL Playoff games/series from the last twenty years. They also offer a “Classic Series” with black and white games from the 1960s and 1970s (like the January 2, 1971 Leafs-Detroit game I watched the other day that the Leafs won 13-0).

We have a NFL Channel. While I watch NFL games from time to time, I am more interested in college football which unfortunately has no channel with re-runs.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Roadside America

On our return trip from our vacation in the Lake George and Glens Falls area we stopped at Roadside America in the Shartlesville PA (I 78, exit 23). Below are some pictures. We visited five years ago and being interested in model railroading I was interested in getting some pictures and viewing the layout with a more critical eye.

The as you can see the O scale layout is very large. What is now Roadside America was started by Laurence Gieringer as a young lad. For sixty years through to his passing in 1963 Laurence build and honed a growing layout. As you can see from the first three pictures, the layout is substantial. Since Mr. Gieringer the family continues to run the layout.

The layout though substantial and intriguing, appears little has changed since 1963. In a few scenes there are conflicting details….vehicles in from the 1970s in the same scene as those from the 1920s and 1930s.

Camera’s are allowed, but mono-pods are not allowed which is why the following pictures are poor resolution.

The layout has water rather than false water. The rock details are nicely done. The rail bedding and railroad stones is an element tht is consistently missing and has been the model railroading standard for at least thirty years. That these details are missing is an indication that the layout has not been touched in any significant manner in decades.

Note the airport just beyond the circus. Note the stone work in the foreground and the fall color on the trees to the back left.

The detail work on the church and scene below are outstanding.

Below is a rail depot. The detail of the building is wonderful but the detail has not extended to the details being consistent. In the scene are a range of vehicles from the 20s to the one side and on the bridge, a car from the mid 1950s by the station on the left, a yellow taxi from the late 60s and a mid 70s to early 80s ambulance. Across the station is a late 80s bus (also in the bottom left of the picture). The truck across from the station and the buses are not an O scale item but more like HO scale vehicles (they stand out because they are not scale consistent). I suspect these out of scale items have been unwisely added in the last two decades.

Overall, this dated and static layout makes for an interesting one time visit. I was hoping to see a couple of scenes that have been redone in the last five years, but was gravely disappointed. Those running other public layouts are changing a scene or two at a time every year as a means to keep the layout dynamic and to attract repeat visitors (items that go into storage tend to come back out years later as part of another scene).
It is not uncommon for denominations and churches to become bogged down in maintaining traditionalism, maintaing outdated traditions that over time become fixed and stale with the original rationale lost. Form is maintained while the spirit and intent is lost. It appears that this layout has gone the same way and is running as fixed monument to its orginal creator. I suspect that Laurence continued to hone and improve the layout each year. It is unfortunate that the owner has not kept the dynamic honing tradition alive and have settled into traditionalism. The layout has so much more potential that is being lost.
I have no reason to make a repeat visit.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Josh's Tan

Barb commented on Evie's blog that Josh is getting well tanned. To give you a better idea of how dark he is getting, below is a picture taken in the afternoon as the Crossmen rehearsed. You can click on the picture to get a better look.

He is only a month into the season. In another five weeks he will be much darker...and then there will be the days he spends at LSU rehearsing. By the end of September he could be the darkest he has ever been since at Oakton the men are not allowed to go without shirts but they can do that at LSU.

One of the items that we gave Josh this week was bug spray for their swamp tour.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Where In the World Is Josh - The Game

Where in the world is Josh? Today he is in the Boston area. Tomorrow he is in Bristol Rhode Island. Last night he was in Glens Falls NY, the day before Erie PA and the day before that Madison WI.

Where in the world is Josh also refers to where is he on the field. Below are some pictures. Can you find him. To help you in your quest are two pictures taken at the end of the evening just prior to the Encore. In the first, the group in the red are the Boston Crusaders who performed America the Beautiful with the Crossmen before Crossmen did selections from their show and Russian Christian Music.

Can you spot him during the march onto the field. Two hints, he is easily seen and he is not in the very back of the horn line (Contra-bases) or in the front (Trumpets).

Can you find him here just as their show is about to start?

He is in the scrum. To give you a hint, see the second picture. He is one of the last to enter on the left of the picture.

We have yet to find Josh in the following three. Maybe you can find him.