Keydet Piper I'm thinking bagpipes

Monthly Archives: July 2008

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Will Maxville happen???? The answer?

Apparently not.  Haven’t heard back from the powers that be, and I’m still not appearing on the list, of competitors, so I’m assuming no.

Whatever.  They’d better not charge me for the entry fee!

Why do people clap at the end of a movie?

I’ve never been able to figure this out.  The act of applause, at least as I understand it, is to show appreciation for an accomplishment.  That’s fine, I’m not saying the actors and crew of a movie shouldn’t be recognized for their work, but it’s silly to clap for them when they’re not there.  Applaud them at the premier, where a good chunk of the crew will be present; applause in this situation is fine, encouraged (if the movie was worth it), and likely expected.  But clapping after seeing a movie down at the local cineplex on a Saturday night?  Are you recognizing how well the film was threaded through the projector?  How neatly the ticket stub was torn?  How well the butter was distributed on your popcorn?  While it’s true those are good skills to have (if you work at the theater), and they are all important parts of your movie-going experience, they have nothing to do with the movie; you won’t see the film threader, ticket taker, or popcorn butterer listed after gaffer, best boy, and key grip. 

How Many Clicks? #3

Here’s another one: Jessica Simpson (she turned up in a headline on cnn.com about something or other). 

X-Files –> Billy Connolly –> Columbo –> Peter Falk –> The Princess Bride –> Christopher Guest –> Best in Show –> Eugene Levy –> American Pie –> Sean William Scott –> Dukes of Hazzard –> Jessica Simpson.

I rock.

Can anyone get there faster?

A new time waster: How Many Clicks?

One of my friends came up with this game, similar to Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon.  Pick an actor and start at the home page of IMDB.  Using only the mouse, get to that actor’s profile page by weaving a tangled web from the links on the home page.  It’s hard!  The movies on the front page are the new ones out, so you need to know who is in them and a whole bunch of other movies they’ve been in. 

I tried it twice this afternoon; results below.

1.  Mel Gibson.  I randomly chose this guy and it turned out to be really easy; Dark Knight is of course in the news now, starring Heath Ledger, who starred in The Patriot with Mel Gibson.  In my own invented notation it would read like this:

Dark Knight –> Heather Ledger –> Patriot –> Mel Gibson

2. Steve Buscemi.  Suggested by the girlfriend, this turned out to be much more difficult.  I had to sit down and sketch it out.  Here’s what I came up with:

Dark Knight –> Gary Oldman –> Dracula –> Keanu Reeves –> Matrix –> Carrie-Anne Moss –> Memento –> Jorja Fox –> CSI –> Marg Helgenberger –> Species –> Michael Madsen –> Reservoir Dogs –> Steve Buscemi.

Pretty convoluted I know.  Can you find a faster way?  Suggest other actors? 

Will Maxville happen????

Maxville, Ontario is the home of the Glengarry Highland Games, which in turn are the home of the North American Pipe Band Championship contest.  It’s without a doubt the biggest games I’ve seen on this side of the pond, and pipe bands come from all over Canada and the U.S.  It’s huge and well-attended, and the beer tent is famous for the amount of revelry involved.  Normally civilized pipers turn into uncivilized hooligans, but that’s a different discussion altogether.  It’s interesting to see some tens of thousands of pipers, drummers, dancers, athletes, fiddlers, harpists, vendors, and spectators descend on this otherwise small and quiet little town in eastern Ontario, population about 3,000. 

Now I’ll step out for a minute to say that the title of the post is misleading.  Maxville will happen.  There’s no doubt of that, it will happen rain or shine. 

The real question is whether Maxville will happen for the Keydetpiper.  I registered for the solo piping competitions, and now that the order of play has been posted on the PPBSO‘s website, it does not contain my name.  I’m not certain that my registration arrived before the deadline.  It was mailed two days prior, but I have no experience with Canada Post, so I can make no guesses. 

Actually this isn’t entirely true either; Maxville will happen for the Keydetpiper, since I have obligated myself to play for my friend’s drumming competition.  So the Keydetpiper will surely be going to Maxville, but the real real question is whether competitions at Maxville will happen for the Keydetpiper. 

I’ll keep you posted.

One of those practice sessions

This morning I walked over to the science building to play my pipes for a while; it’s raining outside and there are other musicians in the dorm so I went to my classroom to be a courteous neighbor. It was one of those awesome practice sessions where everything just felt right.

I played for I think about 90 minutes (I didn’t have a watch with me and had only a vague idea of what time I started), and things just went right. I played for ten minutes and retuned the drones, then didn’t touch them again. The fingers weren’t perfect, but they were working pretty well. The pipes were comfortable to play and felt like I’ve had them under my arm for my whole life.

Part of that I’ll credit to my new bag cover, made by TrueFit. This is only the third time I’ve played with it and I’ll tell you, it’s great. The idea is that if the bag cover fits the pipe bag exactly, it won’t affect the position of the pipes, and the bag won’t slip as you play. The top of the cover is made of a Spandex-like material that conforms to the bag, and the rear is made of a fabric not unlike denim that will keep the bag from sliding. The cover I was using before tends to constrict the drones so they fall in a real natural spot, but the TrueFit is great. I highly recommend it for anyone.

Ken “The Captain” Eller is a well-known and respected instructor and judge, and I heard him say at a workshop that there’s a difference between practice and playing. Playing is when you just play through tunes, maybe a second time, but don’t pay much attention to what’s wrong and you play a lot of different tunes. It’s not practice until you concentrate on what’s wrong and think about fixing it, and it’s not fun. Playing is a great time, but practice is not enjoyable: it makes you tired, sweaty, frustrated, and just want to quit.

What I played this morning was practice, not just playing. I played pretty much only my competition tunes, several times through each, going back to hammer out rough spots and making notes of things to work on with the practice chanter. I also recorded a few tunes so I could hear from a different perspective, and actually practiced both of my piobaireachds instead of just playing through each once.

So is practice enjoyable? Ken, I know what you’re saying, about the difference between playing and practicing, but I demonstrated this morning that even productive practice can be fun.

Those little chores you hate

We all have those little chores that we just hate doing. It’s not a big thing, just something small that is so hard to do.

For me, it’s folding laundry. I don’t mind doing the laundry, I like wearing clean clothes, but for some reason I really hate the folding part. It’s not hard, it doesn’t take long, I just hate it and I don’t know why. Usually what happens is the basket of clean clothes gets dumped on the floor, and I’ll use clothes from the pile until it’s pretty much depleted and time to do laundry again.

That’s my chore that I hate. What’s yours?

Competition Journal 2008 #5

The results from my solo piping competitions.

Rockland County Feis, Stony Point, NY, July 20 2008

Event: MSR
Judge: Chris Hamilton
2/4 marches submitted: Major Manson at Clachantrushal, The Clan MacColl
Tunes played: The Clan MacColl, Arniston Castle, Lexy MacAskill
Result: did not place

Event: Piobaireachd
Judge: Duncan Bell
Tunes submitted: The Massacre of Glencoe, The MacFarlane’s Gathering
Tune played:
The MacFarlane’s Gathering
Result: 6th

Competition Journal 2008 #4

The results from my solo piping competitions.

Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival, Northampton, MA, July 19 2008

Event: MSR
Judge: Chuck Murdoch
2/4 marches submitted: Major Manson at Clachantrushal, The Clan MacColl
Tunes played: Major Manson at Clachantrushal, Arniston Castle, Lexy MacAskill
Result: did not place

Event: Piobaireachd
Judge: Paula Glendinning
Tunes submitted: The Massacre of Glencoe, The MacFarlane’s Gathering
Tune played:
The MacFarlane’s Gathering
Result: Break down (bass drone shut off during first variation)

Q: Where has the piper been?

A: All over!

It’s true, I’ve been away for about the last month, and haven’t posted anything to the blog for a while before that. For the regular readers (all two of you) I’ve made it difficult to read regularly, and I’m not going to swear to post more often because it’s a promise I won’t be able to keep.

Anyway, here’s the itinerary of where I’ve been since school ended. There’s a summary at the end if you don’t want to read the whole thing.

Stage 1, June 13-June 17: Home. School’s out, I’m excited and getting ready for a long road trip. Yahoo!
Stage 2, June 18-20: The Drive. Left Fryeburg on June 18, spent that night with a friend in Westbrook, CT, then spent the night of June 19 with my sister and brother-in-law in York, PA. Arrived at the parents’ house in Finksburg, MD on Friday, June 20.
Stage 3, June 20-21: Parents. Played golf with my dad and generally hung out. The lovely and talented Kayla arrived for a short visit on Saturday evening (June 21).
Stage 4, June 22-27: Piping School. Departed on Sunday June 22 for a week of piping school at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA. A great time, some new friends, and a lot of piping. My notion that Roddy MacLeod is a super cool guy were reinforced, and Colin MacLellan was also determined to be a super cool guy.
Stage 5, June 27-30: The Wedding and Visiting. Chris and Emily, two of my good friends from Fryeburg, got married in Grass Lake, Michigan. Kayla and I drove up on Friday afternoon and evening (~8 hours from Winchester). A really nice wedding, the first visit to Michigan for both of us. Left Michigan on Sunday the June 29, stayed that night with my friends Patty and Alan in Ligonier, PA, then back to the parents’ house on June 30.
Stage 6, July 1-6: Hanging out. Mostly in Finksburg area, I did exactly as described. Cut the grass, played golf again, caught up with a few high school friends.
Stage 7, July 7-8: Virginia. Drove down Monday to visit Kayla for a few days. Went to Kings Dominion on Tuesday and were dominated by the new roller coaster, Dominator.
Stage 8, July 9-10: The Drive, Part II. Left from Staunton, VA on Wednesday and drove to visit another friend in Fairfield, CT. Continued the drive home to Fryeburg on July 10 (Thurs).
Stage 9, July 10: Fryeburg. 24 hours at home, just enough time to see the cat, do a bit of laundry, and shoot off a few fireworks (illegal in Maine). Note that this is the first night I’ve slept in my own bed since June 17.
Stage 10, July 11-18: Vermont. Band practice Friday evening at St. Johnsbury Academy, then hang out in St. J until Sunday afternoon. Sunday sees the beginning of an AP Summer Institute held at St. J Academy. This was a week-long workshop with a very experienced teacher of AP Physics. It was really worthwhile, a lot of good information, and a lot of good networking with other physics teachers in New England.
Stage 11, July 19-20: Highland Games. Stayed in St J for band practice again Friday July 18, then drove with Andy to West Springfield, MA. One night in a hotel, then on to the Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival in Northampton, MA on Saturday. Solo competitions, band competition, drive to Stony Point, NY for a night of camping, then a solo competition at the Rockland County Feis on Sunday.
Stage 12, July 20-21: The Drive Home. Drove from NY to Randolph, MA and stayed the night with cousins. Drove back to Fryeburg on Monday, arrived about 2:00 pm. Home at last!

Here’s the promised summary.

Days since the end of school: 38
Nights spent at home: 6
Number of different beds: 15 (including one night of camping) in 9 different states

It’s good to be home; I’ll be here for about 10 days then off on another piping-related road trip. Whew!