It was a fairly good birthday, all things considered. LONG on my calendar was
the Cal-UW game, being played at Berkeley, because this was the band's road
trip, and the alumni were invited to join the band. So at 8 am I was on the
road with my baritone horn and several layers of clothing. The UW colors are
purple and gold, and the flyer said we were wearing khaki pants and our "touch
of class" T-shirts. In my day, this was a gold shirt with a drum major holding
a rose (the drum major's head was a husky dog's). Not having one that fit, I
wore my gold alumni band T-shirt, but to hedge my bet I also brought along a
purple UW sweatshirt and a gold-and-purple windbreaker.
It rained all the way there, about an hour's drive to Emeryville. The buses
were supposed to leave at 9:30 but by 9:25 there was no sign of any organizing
going on. I was about to panic when someone said for the band to get into bus
1, and alumni in bus 2. All 8 of us. And off we went.
By the time we got to campus, about 10, the rain had stopped. We were dropped
off at the Greek Theater, where the UW alumni party was getting started. They
had box lunches for us there, I put one in my backpack, about half the band ate
theirs there. We were not scheduled to play till 11, so we just hung around
backstage and in the very wet open-air theater.
We played for about half an hour, then walked up a VERY steep hill to the
stadium. Nice seats - at the corner of the end zone, starting at
ground level. It was kind of cramped because there were twice as many band
members as they had planned for. The story is the band was going to fly 55
people to the game and leave the rest home. But another 50 or so chipped in to
charter a bus, and another dozen or so drove down on their own.
It was a very active day for us. Unlike the band in my day, which only played
on time-outs and when we scored, this band played any time the team made a good
play, and the drums helped out the cheerleaders between almost every play, and
for each drum cadence the band has these dance moves they do, which range from
simple hand gestures to full-blown disco moves. It's a VERY energetic bunch.
They forgot to bring a music folder for me, so I learned a lot of stuff by ear.
Maybe half of the tunes I already knew.
At some point in the first quarter one of the guys behind me asked why someone
would wear a gold t-shirt to a Cal game (Cal's colors are blue and gold) so I
put on my purple sweatshirt. Turns out that this year's touch of class shirt is
The game was a disaster for the football team, Cal scored on the first play
after the kickoff, and it was 10-0 after 2 minutes. Final score was 54-7. But
the band and cheerleaders keep doing the rah-rah stuff no matter how hopeless
After the game was the most fun part. The Cal band was already out on the field
playing their victory numbers, and after they played those we joined them.After
a couple of tunes, our director got up on the podium and we did oour fight
song, then he announced a number called "Shout" which the band starts out with
a long drum solo, during which each of the sections takes off in a serpentine,
starting with the saxes, and working its way around the band until every
section is in some random location on the field - or in the stands.
Unbeknownst to us, the Cal band had rehearsed this with the UW
band director - they even had the music - and we ended up as one big combined
band. Which is how we stayed for the next hour, playing together, with the
directors trading off every other song. When it was one of our songs, they read
from our music, when it was one of their songs, I had to play by ear since they
only had bass cleff music, and I only read treble cleff. But it was not hard to
follow their fingerings, most of the time.
After that we had to walk all the way across campus (about a mile) to the bus
pick-up. We got back to the hotel at about 6.
I drove home and changed, fed the kitties and then went to downtown Mountain
View looking for a new place to have dinner. For birthdays I like to eat either
at a place I've never been, or have a dish I've never had before. This time I
managed to do both, at a newly-opened Pan-Hispanic place. I had a combination
seafood/meat paella. Lots of good seafood, but the meats were not readily
identifiable and the whole thing was pretty greasy. Dessert made up for it,
some fine coffee-flavored ice cream on a small circle of deadly chocolate. It
was something between a cake and a pudding. Yummy combination.
Sunday I slept in, and drove around looking for a place to get the kinks
massaged out (the band does a lot of movement when they play, I was hurting in
places I didn't even know I had). I got to my favorite place just as the real
estate lady was putting up the Open House sign. The second place was also out
of business, the third was closed Sundays as was the fourth. Finally remembered
a new-ish one in Menlo Park which was open and had a technician available. It
was worth the wait, she was teriffic.
By the time I got home it was too late do go to Santa Cruz as I'd wanted, so I
popped a rental DVD in the player - "The English Patient". Boring. I can't
believe it won a Best Picture oscar. There were a few moments of good
photography, and a couple of the smaller parts were done well, but that was