Continued from last week:
Monthly Archives: May 2012
This past Friday evening, Becky and I drove up to the Harrisburg, PA area to stay overnight so she could accompany the Parkside Middle School Concert Choir at the Hershey Park Showcase Music Festival at Central Dauphin High School in Harrisburg. We have known the director of the Choir, Debbie Schlechte, for years, and if you ever despaired about the youth of America, you should watch these young people perform. They will gladden your heart.
Debbie co-directs the choirs at Parkside with Larry Stanley, and Becky accompanies them when they go to festival. We got to the high school about half an hour early, in time to see the Show Choir perform “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got that Swing.” Our Chorale Ensemble has done this piece, and it’s hard enough just to sing it. The young people did it with choreography and had a bright, energetic sound and featured four couples dancing in front of the group.
They then did a song called “Fireflies” (by Owl City) I wasn’t familiar with (here’s a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rO3gg2cVfxg). It included some engaging choreography. Debbie said she “mashed up” that song with Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which featured the “Jackson Five,” five hip young dudes in “bad” hats moonwalking across the front of the chorus. (Have you ever tried moonwalking? I have, and it’s impossible for an old guy like me. These cats had it down, I want to tell you!)
The young people looked and sounded great, and Ms. Schlechte and Mr. Stanley directed with precision and great energy.
A while later, the Concert Choir did the difficult Handel piece, “Hallejulah, Amen,” with Mr. Stanley directing. The parts were precisely sung, with a pure vocal quality and a nice balanced sound. I’ve done this piece as well, and it’s not easy for adults, much less for middle school students. Their performances were enthusiastically and deservedly cheered by a gym full of other students and parents.
The next piece, which Debbie directed, was Mark Hayes’ “Shut de Do’,” an a cappella number that we have also done. It seems like a simple song, but is in fact harder than it sounds. The Choir handled the dynamics well and had a beautiful blended sound.
The students were not only impressive musically: Becky and I have talked about how well-behaved they were. They comported themselves in a way that would make any parent or community member proud: they were polite, well-disciplined, respectful of adults and each other and appreciative of anything done for them.
This past week, the Census Bureau released information that we are a majority minority nation. We are moving from a country of white Boomers to a multicultural global population. The choirs at Parkside Middle School show this dramatically. The group is ethnically diverse and the kids treat each other with affection and respect.
After the Festival, the whole group was off to the rest of the day at Hershey Park. The Parkside choirs earned two “Superiors” and missed being Best in Show by one point. I hope they had a great time at the park.They won big, as they have before.
We hear so much about young people and how they fall short in so many areas. I’m here to say that if these young folk are any indication (and I think they are), the future for all of us is very bright indeed.
Congratulations to the students at Parkside for doing so well and for being examples for us all, and to their musicians and teachers Debbie Schlechte and Larry Stanley, and their accompanist for this occasion, Becky Verner. Way to rock out, guys!
(with apologies to Paul Simon)
When I took the old carpet out
Of our computer room
The wooden floors
And so I got one of those
Vinyl chair pads
And put it under my office chair.
Now I know that in a house like ours
There are few level floors
Plumb walls or perpendicular surfaces.
It’s just in the nature of
Older houses to settle and
Be skewed a bit
Or a lot.
I was surprised when
I sat in the chair and
Paul Simon, you were right:
“The nearer your destination,
The more you’re slip slidin’ away!”
1. Finish the day’s writing when you still want to continue.
2. Listen to what you have written. A dud rhythm in a passage of dialogue may show that you don’t yet understand the characters well enough to write in their voices.
3. Read Keats’s letters.
4. Reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite. If it still doesn’t work, throw it away. It’s a nice feeling, and you don’t want to be cluttered with the corpses of poems and stories which have everything in them except the life they need.
5. Learn poems by heart.
6. Join professional organisations which advance the collective rights of authors.
7. A problem with a piece of writing often clarifies itself if you go for a long walk.
8. If you fear that taking care of your children and household will damage your writing, think of JG Ballard.
9. Don’t worry about posterity – as Larkin (no sentimentalist) observed “What will survive of us is love.”
Good advice, all of it.–DV
I was over at J.E. Rice’s Hardware store a while back, talking with Steve, one of the Rice brothers (Chase and Jamie are the other two), whose father established the business 75 years ago. I can always count on the Rices to have exactly what I need and to tell me how to install it if necessary. And they’re always good for an interesting conversation. There’s no such thing as a “quick trip to the hardware store” when I go to Rice’s.
This time, Steve told me about a ledger book he found in his shed for the accounts of C. C. Leachman, his grandfather, who ran a store at Wellington Crossing of the Southern Railway around the turn of the twentieth century. Wellington today is the name of a road and subdivision in Manassas, but the rails still run where they did over 100 years ago. Leachman traded in all kinds of merchandise, took crops and chickens as barter for goods and was a transfer point for milk from the numerous dairy farms in the area at the time.
I contacted the Manassas Museum to see if they would be interested in looking at this unique artifact, but they are tied up with the sesquicentennial observance of the Second Battle of Manassas in July. After that’s all over, I hope they will take time to look at Leachman’s record and perhaps even display it at the museum.
I appreciate Steve making copies of a couple of pages of the ledger so I can share them with BC readers.
|The note below the pictures is hard to make out in this image, but it says, “1906–C.C. Leachman holding Sarah Leachman–later married J.E. Rice–1923 C. C. Leachman ran this store and train mail drop.|
|This is a ledger page, with the careful Spenserian script of a bygone era, showing expenses paid to the “Southern Railway Co.” for late 1899 and early 1900.|
Early one morning last week (about 7:15, to be exact), our daughter Amy called with the news that her car wouldn’t start. Since she lives about two miles away and since she is a teacher and expected to show up at school before her students do, an expectation shared by students, parents, the administrators at her school, the community, the School Board, the Commonwealth of Virginia and who knows who else, I said I would come over post haste and see if we could give her little car a jump start. We had to link our jumper cables together to reach from battery to battery, and after some grumbling and sputtering, the car started.
The battery looked like it was original to the car and Amy said it had not been replaced, so I allowed that she probably needed a new battery. I know that the guys on Car Talk believe that fathers don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to saying what needs to be done to cars, but they weren’t there and I was.
We worked it out that Amy would drive over to our house, leave her car with me and take one of our cars to work. I would have the battery tested and replaced, if necessary.
And so she was off for a day of fun and learning at her school (that’s how they like to think of the day’s goings on at the school and I don’t doubt that it is true), and I drove her car over to Advance Auto where a nice young man tested the battery and said she needed a new one. He installed one and I was back home after 20 minutes.
Trying the radio on the way back I noticed that all the stations were set at 88.5 FM, an unlikely situation since Amy likes a variety of music, most of which I have never heard of. Then it occurred to me that disconnecting the battery had wiped out all her presets and I had no idea of how to reset them. I tried figuring out which stations and music she would like but I had no idea. My knowledge of poplar music dates to about 1985 and goes not further. No wonder I had no idea of what she would like to listen to.
I texted Amy about her lost presets and she wrote back that she didn’t mind. I think she did find the selection of ten or so CD’s I had in my car amusing, quaint, and “old school”–hits of the ’60’s, Simon and Garfunkel, Gordon Lightfoot, the Eagles, some choral music–and I think she also thought it old school that I was still using CD’s.
I saw that Amy had an iPhone cradle on the dashboard of her car and while I do have an iPhone, I have not put any music on it. I have about 400 songs on my computer, but haven’t figured out how to put them on my phone. I know having them on the phone would make it easier to carry my tunes, but there’s also a degradation of sound with mp3 files as opposed to CD’s. I happen to have a Bose sound system in the station wagon (installed by its former owner, my other daughter Alyssa) and it needs a good sound source to take advantage of its capabilities.
So this whole exercise reminded me of the differences in generations and changes in technology, how we adapt to them and how they affect us.
Some things remain the same: daughters still call fathers for help with their cars; fathers still respond gladly and take care of business; and we both enjoy music. And some day–who knows?–I’ll be completely up to date with my personal technology.