Tuesday, March 30, 2004

A dear friend has pointed out that a) most high school bands lack a string section, which makes playing classical music difficult, b) most high school bands sound terrible, and c) any music teacher with a shred of passion left would not want to subject their favourite pieces of music to the butchering of 100 lazy and mostly untalented students.

I will not dispute such wholly universal facts! I was in band for six years, and I know what the teachers were up against. I did think, as I was writing my post, that having no string section made playing some classical music difficult, and that the apathy and lack of skill of many of the players also makes any attempt at something remotely complicated an exercise in futility. I suppose I kept thinking back to high school, where we had pieces in our music folders, with interesting names like Kilimanjaro and Lux Aeterna, that we only rarely pulled out at our teacher's request. We always butchered them, but to this day I wish that the teacher had just pushed us through, made us practice, so I would have some idea what those pieces sound like. Instead, my fingers probably still remember the fingerings for Sleigh Ride and Under the Sea, given the chance to play again. *sigh* I guess I should head down to the CPO more often to get my fix live. ;)

I listen to CBC Radio Two as a general rule when I'm in the car. On the way in to work this morning, they played the Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah op. 47 by Camille Saint-Saëns. I was inspired to turn it up, and I smiled. This is not an easy feat for me in the morning, this smiling thing, but I just couldn't help it. Just like practically any selection from Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, the music just got under my skin and tingled, until I was compelled to increase the volume so I could catch nuances. Oh, and when the timpanis started at the end! Is there any joy more pure?

This led me to think back to when I was in junior and high school band. We never played anything like Bacchanale or Beethoven's Fifth or Ninth or even Copland's Rodeo. For five years straight, I played the same arrangement of Sleigh Ride, until I got so sick of it that now, nearly a decade since the last time I played it, I can't stand to hear the song at Christmas. Twice, once in junior and once in senior, I played The Dragoons of Villars, which was challenging and lovely and unrecognisable, but most of the other students hated it, so once it had been performed, it was dropped. Whenever the teachers tried to get us to play a piece that was difficult, or not recorded previously for mass consumption, most of the students either couldn't play it, or didn't want to. It was far too easy for the teachers to give up rather than fight almost 100 surly students. So, for the most part, the band teachers had us play contemporary pieces, with relatively simple arrangements. I understand their reasoning for having us do The Lion King, The Little Mermaid and other Disney film soundtracks. We knew what it was supposed to sound like, which made it easier to practice, and easier to bring together as a group. But it did very little for our appreciation of the art form of music, and that appreciation is something I'm just beginning to get. Now, Mendelsson speaks to me on some primal level that I can't interpret, Hildegard of Bingen has me almost believing that I speak Latin, Vaughn-Williams haunts me with the Antarctic, and Pärt has taught me what beauty there can be in dissonance and conflict. I live in daily anticipation of what new jewel I will discover on the drives to and from work, fencing, and errands.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Calgary Open Report - Women's Foil - Sunday 28 March 2004

My event started at 1330, which allowed me to sleep in this morning. I rather liked that! Tournament weekends have a tendency to throw my system for a loop, so to sleep out was lovely. As luck would have it, two of the best fencers there were in my pool, and the others weren't walks in the park either. I lost all five of my bouts (5-0, 5-0, 5-2, 5-3, 5-3), and came out of the pools 17th of 17. I fenced my DE against Emily Dixon from Saskatchewan Fencing Club, and had some issues. I managed to push the bout into the third period, though, with a final score of 15-5. My fencing was... not terribly impressive, but not gawdawful either. It's the mental game (reading opponent, staying ahead of their actions) that's giving me the most trouble. It's something to work on at any rate. I've nearly given up on this season. Barring the Calgary Centennial, I've placed last in WF at every tournament I've attended. Provincials are in four weeks, and I doubt I'll improve that much in that amount of time.

Final result: 17th of 17 in WF for the Calgary Open

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Calgary Open Report - Women's Epee - Saturday 27 March 2004

There were 19 women registered in the event today, and I ended up in one of the pools of seven. We ran two pistes, thankfully, so I managed to stay pretty warm throughout. It was not an easy pool, but it wasn't too terrible either. Out of six matches, I won two (5-2, 5-1), lost four (5-1, 5-2, 5-4, 5-4). I placed 13th out of the pools, which meant that, for the first time ever, in any weapon, I got a by! Yay! I fenced my DE against Jackie Geller, who came out 4th. I've beat her before in the pools, so I knew a little of how she fenced. I did not, of course, expect to win, and I didn't. However, I pushed the match to the second period, and lost by a score of 15-12. Next year, I will be able to beat her. So, all told, I'm extremely happy with the way I fenced today.

Final result: 13th of 19 in WE for the Calgary Open

Friday, March 26, 2004

Nathan should not have worried last night about injuring me as we practiced parrying whips. Really. I'm quite capable of injuring myself more severely on my own. No bruises from all my mal-parries last night, so to make up for it, I had a run-in with a door this morning. My left thumb is now essentially immobilised and extremely unhappy with me. I even had to fill out an accident report for work. "Nature of injury: bleeding from under nail, bruising and swelling in knuckle, reduced mobility of digit in both joints due to slight swelling. Description of circumstances: Someone opened the door as I was reaching for the doorknob. My thumb took the force of it." I feel so stupid, but I didn't know he was coming. Owwwwww... It's hard to type when you're trying to ice a finger.

Someone out there is looking out for me, though. At least it was my off hand!

Thursday, March 25, 2004

I drive Barlow Trail to and from work every day. Now that spring is here, I have come to the conclusion that, just as Calgary drivers get stupid over the summer and have meltdowns with the first snowfall of the season, so too do gophers get stupider over the winter. On my way to and from work, I spot at least a dozen new bloody splats on the road. It is a rather macabre way to pass the time in the car.

I have no idea how long gophers live, but surely not all of the instantly departed were born over the winter, just as not everyone who slides into the ditch or has a fender bender at the first hint of ice on the roads is a new driver. And even if the gophers are stupider coming out of hibernation, surely they would figure out that after the first hundred or so of their colony met a swift and terrible end, that they should stay away from the road! But no. The little cannibals are still tempting fate.

In other news, fencing went better today. I hold out hope for the weekend.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

So, I give up. For three months, I've been trying to keep up on my correspondance, make sure people know I'm still alive, still thinking about all these people I haven't emailed, and I just don't have time for it. What makes me think I'll have time to keep a weblog going, I don't know, but here's hoping.
The Calgary Open is this weekend, and I'm desperately trying to put myself into a mental place where I can fence without being sloppy, which is what I've been all week. Perhaps I shouldn't have taken last weekend off to the extent that I did. Perhaps I lost an edge that was left over from the RDO the weekend before. Lord knows I was doing really well last week, for all that I was exhausted. But this week? Sloppy. Taking stupid hits. I know I'm not terribly good, but I'm better than this. I must try to meditate a little on Friday night, see if I can pull it together for Saturday.

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