Sunday, June 30, 2013

Crest 2: Now With Improved Flavor!

Corps at the Crest -- Walnut
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Mount San Antonio College, Hilmer Lodge Stadium
Walnut, CA

I hung out at my parents’ house with the family for a while, then needed to go to Mass before going to Walnut.  I arrived late to the show, and just missed getting to my seat to see Bishop Grandin HS, so I decided to spend that time at the VIP area for Pacific Crest, where they had provided food and drinks for their supporters.  

Ed & Bro
I met Bro at our seats, which were on the left 40 yard line, Section C, Row Z, Seats 6 & 7.  There were girls in back of us that Bro had said were earlier talking a lot, but they were shushed by someone.  Then an older gentleman sat next to Bro and informed him that someone had an extra ticket and sold it to him for $10.00.  Nice deal for these VIP seats!  He said that his son was watching the DCI show in Seattle, and his son wanted to know who we’d be seeing tonight.  So Bro got on the phone with him and told him.  I yelled that we’re jealous because we were not getting to see SCV, but I don’t think he heard me.  The guy next to Bro is named Ed.  Turns out that he is a good friend of our alma mater’s prior band director, and that Ed used to live in Arcadia.  He now has a place in Glendora, and it has a swimming pool.  We invited ourselves over for a swim.  Ed couldn’t believe that Bro is the age that he is, and told him that is mom looks like his sister.  We told him that I AM his sister, so that all works out.  Ed has 2 sons whom both played the trumpet in their high school (and one in college) bands, and his son had called him 15 minutes before the show started in order to inform him about tonight’s show, so here he was.  We liked him immediately.

Repertoire:  “Q” -- The Show Must Go On; Death on Two Legs; Who Wants to Live Forever; Don’t Stop Me Now; Crazy Little Thing Called Love, all by Queen

I like the lavender drums.  I know that ballad, but I couldn’t pinpoint it, even now that I know the song titles.  One of the arms on each color guard member is laced up with ribbon.  I wonder if that’s actual ribbon, or part of a sleeve of their garment.  

So now that I know that Justin is in the corps, I forgot to cheer for him.  I did try to guess which trumpet player he is, though.  At one point, a couple of the marimba players were playing one-handed.
Is Justin one of these pictured?

Oh, the chant corps portion is a call and response with the leader being in the pit.  Are we supposed to chant in the audience, too?  Why do they have that bass guitar in the pit if I can’t even hear it?
Modified Bongo/Conga Drums

I like when the color guard hides behind the parasols, then rise up briefly.  The flags were better today, but there were still several weapons drops.  ACK!  Fix those lines!  When the CG does that thing with their heads, I think of Cadets 2005 and the tree spirits from that Miyazaki film.  I did the sound so that Bro could hear, and he giggled.  We have our inside shorthand communication.

Yay!  Tim’s here!  I told him that I was looking forward to what he would say about Blue Devils playing his favorite song.
Sher & Tim

They sounded really good, and looked really good.  I wonder if that one formation is the Chinese character for a question mark.  I need to look at those flags closely.  They turned out to be one of Ed’s favorite corps of the evening.
Awesome Mandarins Soloist

As usual, PC kicked up their program a notch for their home crowd.   The heart on the left at the beginning doesn’t look so much like a piano anymore.  Perhaps they fixed the angle.   See?  Blocks look a lot better when the lines are straight.  No more fake ending.  Maybe they took it out because it confused people.
Heart Mid-show

They have so much crap that the CG carries laundry baskets for their stuff.  “Do you love the horns, Sher?”  “You know I love the horns.”  This is what starts in my head when that last act starts.  I’d rather hear my words than theirs.  The girl behind me thinks that the love crap is cute.  The guy near them called them “Stupidly Amazing”.  I concur.  Can they just stop with the talking, please?  A dude a few rows ahead of us kept standing up for them during the show.
Crown Kneeling

They changed a bunch of stuff.  There are no more solos that are not aided by microphones.  Surprise!  I do not like their CG uniforms.  (No, this should not really be a surprise, if you know my history with BD).  So now the dead girl isn’t laying down flat.  Instead, she’s stuck in a position like she has rigor mortis.  The dude that stood up for crown did not stand at all for BD.  I later saw the front of his shirt, and it was a Crown shirt.  Oh, that’s why.  I liked the show less tonight than I did when I saw them last time.  Uh-oh.
BD Archers

Crown & PC Enter Field

Carolina Crown and Pacific Crest played “Turn the Beat Around” together.

Pacific Crest then played their show music, as well as their corps song, “Ave Maria”.
PC Soloist


All-Age Corps:
60.40  So Cal Dream

Open Class:
3) 53.35  City Sound
2) 61.85  Impulse
1) 68.50  Gold

World Class:
4) 67.85  Mandarins
3) 70.30  Pacific Crest
2) 80.90  Blue Devils
1) 81.20  Carolina Crown
Corps Leaders

Announcer Ryan T gave a big pause after announcing the 2nd place score.  There was much applause after he announced that it belonged to the Blue Devils.  Well, I guess it’s good that they didn’t boo.  We said goodbye to Ed, who invited us over for a swim someday.  He was really funny and a nice person.  Hope we see him again.

Tim met up with us again and I asked what he thought.  He said, “Tonight I saw one of the most amazing things on the field, as well as the most offensive.”  Tim is not a fan of amplification.  I have one thing to say to you, Tim:  you are not a curmudgeon.  You are a MUSICIAN, because you value the acoustical sound without any modification.  :)  That’s coming from a fellow musician, whom, like you feel about wind/brass instruments being powered by the breath of life, I feel that way about the human voice and a capella music.  

I bought a Carolina Crown shirt and we made our way back to our cars.  We had all thought that we would ned to pay for parking, but it turns out that we all parked for free, so maybe the $3 announcement encouraged people to carpool, which is the reason that I didn’t have a problem finding parking this year.

Somebody turned on my Stupid Button, and I went on the wrong freeway, so it took me longer to get to my parents’ house than it did for Bro.  One more day to go.  For now.

Next up:  Western Corps Connection

Saturday, June 29, 2013

So Cal Drum Corps Weekend Begins

Corps at the Crest -- San Diego
El Camino High School / Herb S Meyer Stadium
Friday, June 28, 2013
Oceanside, CA

It was nice to be able to sleep in my own bed for one night, and after catching up on some of the programs on my DVR, doing some laundry, and packing again, I was off to my parents’ house.  About 8 miles away from my home, I realized that I had left my tickets there.  AUGH!  I was already running late, so that wasted 20 minutes of my time.  Not that it mattered, because I hung out at my parents’ house for a couple of hours anyway before Bro and I drove to Oceanside.  It was nice to be able to hang out with the niece and nephew.  He showed off his fantastic Bejeweled 3 skills to me, and somehow, I got her to sing a little bit of “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes” with me.

On to Oceanside, where the weather was quite pleasant, and a change from the very hot areas where my parents and I live.  I tried to guess which cars were on their way to the same event.  I was wrong.  We arrived early enough to briefly watch the Impulse and Gold drum lines do their warm-ups, then we entered the stadium and I bought a shirt from Pacific Crest.  I realized the next morning that I had a $10.00 coupon.  DUH.  Maybe I’ll buy that other shirt I was looking at if nobody else in my party wants anything.

Our seats were on the right 40 yard line, top row S, Section C, seats 19-20.  We had a wall behind us, so we would be able to stand if we wanted to do so, and I also had a place to put my stuff behind me and not worry about anyone kicking it.  The seats were painted concrete, and they used labels for the seats, even though there are already some painted numbers there.  Maybe the DCI numbers make it easier for them to sell and know where the seats are located.  Bro was less than impressed with the flimsy yard markers.  
30 Yard Line Marker

The Bishop Grandin High School “Marching Ghosts” played “O Canada” and “The Star-Spangled Banner”.  (They’re from Alberta).  We had our USA flag to salute, but no Canadian flag.  Not that I expect there to be one at a high school in California.   I remember them from when we went to Denver in 2011.  They then played an exhibition performance of their “007 - The Music of James Bond” show.  They did a 007 formation.  Uh-oh, someone fell.  Somebody in our row said, “I forgot what it was like to watch marching band”.  Yeah, we drum corps fans are quite spoiled.
Bishop Grandin Marching Ghosts

On to the competition!

Repertoire:  “Crystal Celebration” -- An Outdoor Overture by A. Copland; Powerhouse by R. Scott; Dance of the Hours by A. Ponchielli

Why is the pit so fancy with their tux shirts and bow ties?  We cheered for Justin even though we didn’t know whether or not he’s in Impulse this year.  I like this show.  It makes me feel like I’m watching cartoons.  You know, those old WB cartoons with classical music?  Or, maybe I should just refer to “Fantasia”.  Duh.  Nice percussion feature!  The marimba player to the right of the 40 gets really into the music.  I’ll be watching him a lot this weekend.  I like the music, although it does need cleaning.  Fun contra ensemble solo and regular solo during “Dance of the Hours”.  Oh, I get it.  The tuxes are for the orchestra.

Repertoire: “A Day in the Life of Puerto Rico” -- Hasta Que Vuelvas Conmigo by G. Marco; Melton Tombe by Grupo Afro Boniqua; Rule Son Dia  by H. Ayala; El Rumor by Viento de Aqua

I look forward every year to see this corps’  drum major’s attire.  This year, she is wearing a flowery sleeveless dress, character shoes and her hair is up with a red flower in it.  She looked like she was afraid to be on the platform in her heels after she did her salute.  Someone in the corps screams at the masked guys.  I kinda like the silver skirts.  I also like the peach-ish larger flags at the beginning.  Cool modified conga drums and good solos.  They’ve got a chant corps section.

Repertoire:  “East Meets West” -- Original music by Scott Director

Bro was worried that “original music” meant that it would need to be explained with narration.  Happily, it did not.  The guard has scary painted faces, almost like a Chinese opera.  The corps uniforms are like body armor.  Why are there silver-toned instruments on the field amongst the gold ones? I like that drum opener.  The color guard needs to work on their unison, especially in the flag spins and their throw heights.  They seem awkward with their flag work, although I don’t know if that’s because the long skirt is hindering their movement.  Their weapon work is pretty good.  Nice duet high rifle toss!  Pretty parasols.  

People don’t know how to walk 40 feet farther to get to the bathrooms with no line.  There’s a huge sign!  Anyway, I shouldn’t complain, because it’s like a secret among those of us whom are literate.  
Mandarins' San Francisco screen

Their music was much improved today.  They look better with the color guard gals in the same outfit, as opposed to the random stuff they were wearing last week.  The pit members really got into the music during the Interrogation.  
New Color Guard Uniform

Their lines are straighter than before, but they are still crooked.  They have new flags at the end, which have a heart on them.  The colors in their new color guard uniforms match the wildcat on the field.  Their yellow double flags need to have more oomph in them, or they should be a different color, because when they are coupled with the guard uniforms, it’s a little bit bland.  The music sounds nice.
Kinda Heart

That horn line amazes the heck out of me.  So, OK: Love is for Infinity.  Is that what I’m getting from this program?  The bass drums now have the E=mc2 design on the drum heads...even the big rolling ones (on one side).  I finally saw the CG dude play the rolling bass drum at center field.  I also finally saw the people counting and narrating into the microphones.


Carolina Crown brass played that circus-y march-y piece, and their corps song, “Carolina In My Mind” (I think).  

They were then joined by the Pacific Crest’s brass to play “Turn the Beat Around”.  That was fun.
Crown and Crest Encore


Open Class:
3) 52.10  City Sound
2) 63.50  Impulse
1) 69.85  Gold

World Class:
3) 66.95  Mandarins
2) 69.35  Pacific Crest
1) 80.05  Carolina Crown

Dude that was sitting next to me talked a lot to the guy sitting next to him.  He sounded like he was from my generation due to the music he talked about, like Duran Duran and such.  Every time he talked and said something that he thought was funny, which was often, he snorted.  Bro said it was like a combination snort and chuckle.  He has determined that it was a “snortle”.  This made me giggle for a long time on the way home.  Snortle dude has a kid in Pacific Crest, and I do know what he plays, but I will save his child from embarrassment by leaving out the actual instrument.  :)  Wonder if he’ll be sitting near us on Sunday.  

Next Up:  Corps at the Crest -- Walnut

Storming the Castello

Napa -- Day 2
Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Best Western Inn at the Vines is adjacent to a Denny’s restaurant, where they offer hotel guests breakfast at a discount, or a free slam-type breakfast as part of the hotel room package.  So we had breakfast there before heading back out to St. Helena.  It was still drizzling until we arrived at Castello di Amarosa.
Where's Bro?
I had never been on the castle tour before, and Bro was interested, so we decided to take the tour, which includes admission and wine tasting.  The gal who sold us the tickets thought my shirt was funny (I was wearing the shirt that I bought while wine tasting at Wilson Creek, which says “Drink til he’s cute”).  We discussed the yumminess that is Almond Champagne and the fact that she’s never been wine tasting in Napa even though she lives there.   Bro’s aim was to learn to build his own castle.  My aim was just to see everything that you don’t usually get to see with the General Admssion ticket.   The first room  was a chapel, and our tour guide, Jefferson, told us that the owner Dario Sattui bought the land with the thought of building a villa on the 8500 square foot property.  That vision grew, and over the course of 14 years, we have the castle as it is today, mostly built of hand-made materials.  The stones were brought over from Europe in 170 containers. Jefferson told us that Jon Bon Jovi had a concert in their courtyard.  Ooh, what a cool venue!  
Jon Bon Jovi was Here
 The murals in the Great Dining Hall were hand-painted by 2 gentlemen from Italy.  The chairs were handmade.  
Great Dining Hall
The torture chamber was filled with replicas of torture devices such as the rack and “the hot seat”.  I thought that the spiked case was interesting because he said that they would place someone in there, and the spikes are strategically placed so that they don’t actually kill you.  Instead, they open up the top, and place an animal inside, like a rat or whatever, so that you’re alive when it’s doing whatever it wants to you.  Eeeewww.  
Torture Device
 The tour also included an explanation of the different methods of their winemaking.  The castle is an actual working winery, and there are pipes throughout the castle walls, which lead to the caves underneath, where all of the barrels are stored.
Pipe from Castle Wall to Barrel
 The barrels can be bought as futures, and they store the barrel there.  When you want to take some of your wine out, they will bottle it for you.  It’s pretty cool because you can get a LOT of wine (300 bottles) per barrel, and because it’s wine, the longer you keep it there, the better it becomes and the more expensive it becomes.  So you’re essentially investing in your wine.  We even got to drink some 2012 Cabernet Sauvingnon that came directly from the barrel, to have the same experience as the winemaker when they open a barrel.  
Jefferson Pouring Wine from Barrel
We did get to go into the caves and walk among the barrels.  They even had a little armory filled with suits of armor.  People were taking pictures, and Jefferson offered to take a picture of me with “my son”.  
With Suit of Armor and My "Son" Bro
I didn’t have the heart to correct him because he had been such a wonderful guide.  He had asked me what kind of wine I like to drink, and I told him that my favorite one from Castello is the Il Passito.  He couldn’t blame me at all for that.  :)  When we got to the end of the tour, we were led to a private tasting room and were allowed to try 5 wines each, so Bro and I decided to try 10 wines and share each taste.  We ended up getting the 2009 Napa Valley Sangiovese, which is very smooth.  At the end of the 10, Jefferson offered to give us a splash of the Il Passito as well, and you know I’m not going to say no to that!  I let Bro taste first so that he could understand my love for this wine, and he did.  That just totally made my day to have a taste of my favorite wine without having to open my own bottle at home.  I did drink one this year, so the next one can wait.  Before leaving, we looked at the animals, which included emu, some ducks that were bathing in what looked like feed bins, and a couple of beautiful albino peacocks.
Albino Peacock Strutting His Stuff

We were hungry, so we decided to look for a place to eat in St. Helena.  We parked in a lot that was made of rocks and painted lines on the rocks.  I don’t know how often they hae to paint that lot, but it seems like a lot of work.  
On Asphalt from Parking Lot
While we were perusing restaurant menus, a couple of women sitting outside at one of the restaurants asked if they could take a picture of my shirt because they thought it was cute.  I obliged and wondered if my face was in the picture.  I smiled just in case.  We decided to eat at HImalayan Sherpa Kitchen, which served Indian and Nepalese cuisine. Bro ordered chicken tikka masala, and I ordeed the lunch special of samosas and paroukash with mixed greens and cucumber mint sauce.  The food was very good, athough they didn’t have any yak’s milk with which to wash it down.  They did have a yak on a shelf!
Black Yak

The St. Helena Bath Oil Company was closed for a few minutes, so we went into The St. Helena Olive Oil company.  I asked the store guy to tell Bro about the place because I wouldn’t do it justice.  Bro and I tried some Himalayan Pink salt in order to keep the theme of the day.  I bought 2 bottles of white truffle oil because Linda wanted one, too.  Then we went back to the Bath Oil place so that I could buy my lovely Lavender Sugar Scrub.  I would have tried out the Salt Scrub this time, but they only had the large jars on the table.  

I wanted to continue wine tasting, and we had coupons to use, so we went to Provenance and used our 2 tastings for 1 coupon.  Bro and I agreed that the 2009 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon that we tried was the best, but I didn't buy any because it is available in stores.  (Castello’s wines are only available for purchase through them directly).

We then went to Yountville so that I could go to Bouchon Bakery.

A Pastry Case at Bouchon
 I had heard many good things about their pastires, especially their macarons.  Macarons are currently my favorite sweet thing to eat, so I NEEDED to try it out.  They also had almond croissants, so I couldn’t say no to that either.  I got 3 flavors of macarons:  pistaschio, salted caramel and hazelnut, so that I could share with V when we saw her.  Their macarons are much bigger than the ones I usually get a ‘lette.  Their almond croissant was VERY almond-y.  I was happy.

We returned to our hotel and I rested for a bit while Bro took a dip in the pool.  We eventually went to dinner at Black Bear Diner.  I thought that the lady serving us there was competing with the people at China Village Inn because she was getting things done so quickly.  I ordered chicken fried steak from the A Little Less menu.  Well, there was a lot on my plate already and I looked over to see a regular-sized meal.  Wow.  It was twice as much main meal as mine.  Mine even came with sauteed vegetables, mashed potatoes, soup (or salad) and a cornbread muffin.  Bro also had an item from the Little Less menu: meatloaf.  He was able to finish his, but I couldn’t finish my plate due to the fact that I ate an almond croissant earlier when we were hanging out at the hotel.

The Black Bear Diner Pose

We turned in for the night after Bro showed me the location of the fitness room so that I could work out in the morning.

The next morning, I did get up and walk on the treadmill.  The gal that joined me there later was doing some kind of circuit-type workout, which made the guy on the cycle next to me look at her every time she did a leapfrog-type move along the mats.  I was just glad to get my workout in.  I was also glad that I wasn’t the one that dropped one of the weights loudly.  Bro and I had our breakfast at Denny’s (I made a Egg McMuffin out of my build-your-own slam), and we checked out of the hotel.   We said goodbye to Napa and headed for San Francisco to pick up V from the airport.  She had been having a difficult time getting there from Seattle, so she had much venting to share with us.  At least we were all together again, giggling as usual.

I love my family.

Nom Nomming in Napa

Napa -- Day 1
Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Warning: This post is full of food porn, so don't read if you're on a diet or if you're hungry.

I woke up and went downstairs to walk on the treadmill for awhile.  A guy was on the other treadmill and told me that there were no towels.  I joked that he would need to use his shirt.  After he left, another guy came in and was doing different stuff, and kept walking in back of me (the room was kind of small).  It didn't bother me.  I guess I’m just not used to that behavior while I walk outside, which is my usual routine when I’m not at Zumba.  Bro and I had breakfast downstairs and the guy that had been walking back & forth behind me was there.  We did not make eye contact.  We hadn't made eye contact in the fitness room, either.  I could be a spy.

Our Vantage Point at Greystone

We made our way to Napa, and I waved at the Peju winery as we headed straight to the Culinary Institute of America, where we had lunch reservations at Wine Spectator Restaurant at Greystone.  We were seated near one of the cooking stations, but we couldn't see much.  Bro ordered a Moylan's Kiltlifter Scotch Ale, and I ordered a 2012 Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc once I figured out what I’d be eating for lunch. Bro found a Goonies skull formation of holes in his bread, but the picture I took does not do it justice.  I ordered a roasted farm chicken  (sous vide) with crispy potatoes and English peas with Morel mushrooms, and Bro ordered the blue cheese cured strip loin of beef -- medium -- with watercress.  Bro’s meat was 2 pieces, stacked, and one was medium rare and the other medium well, which, he guessed, just evened out to “medium”.  
Bro's Steak

My Chicken
We both enjoyed our meals, and then we ordered dessert.  I would have ordered souffle because the other table’s souffle looked yummy, but then I found out that it was coconut, and we decided to order cheesecake instead.  The server advised that it would not be like a real “cake” cheesecake, and we were intrigued and ordered it anyway.  It turned out to be, like, from a tube, and it was delicious. It included fresh local strawberries and the "crust" was a brown butter graham cracker powder.
We then walked around inside CIA for a bit so that I could visit my hippo corkscrews.  There weren't any bats visible outside, so I couldn't show them to Bro, but I still tried to look for them even though it was sprinkling.  

I didn't feel like walking around wineries in the rain, so we decided to go to the Napa Welcome Center and obtained some discount coupons for a few wineries.  I wanted to go to Morimoto’s to show the menu to Bro, and they had a dessert / pastry section, so I bought a cute little Yuzu Meringue tart.  I came very close to ordering the sugar cookie mustache, but I figured that I only wanted to take a picture with it, and preferred to buy something that I wanted to actually eat that was different than the usual pastry.  It came in a cute little box, too!

Yuzu Meringue Tart

We checked into the hotel and rested for a bit.  After 3 straight days of drum corps, it was strange to have an evening with no actual plans.  We were already going through some drum corps withdrawal, especially SCV withdrawal, because we won’t see their show in person again until August.  

I wanted to introduce Bro to Gott’s Roadside.  He was very pleased to meet this establishment.  He ordered a Western Bacon Blue Ring burger, and I ordered a Wisconsin Sourdough Burger and onion rings.  
My sourdough on left, Bro's Western on right
We walked around Oxbow Market for a while and discovered an organic ice cream place called Three Twins.  I had a “Teensy” scoop of the Chai Tea flavor, and Bro had the same size of  Rice Milk Horchata.  Both flavors were delicious!  Bro was even thinking of a way to bring some home, but changed his mind later.  We returned to the hotel and called it a day.
Enjoying organic ice cream