Michael “Mike” Braga 86’d from 2017 Santa Clara Vanguard Alumni Corps ….

*Breaking* LATER ASSHOLE! Space Park Management to violent coward: Thanks but NO THANKS -or- Wife-Beater Takes Beat-Down
Part I.

Around about every five years; the most consistently prgressive, entertaining, competitive and downright bad-ass drum & bugle corps* in the kh2own universe puts together an Alumni Corps….for fun, for old times sake, cuz life starts to suck after age 21, cuz playingin a large group of talented men & women is better than (sex * drugs + rockNroll) ….. to get easily-explainable time off from work/family/friends/poker/kids/your dog/home [all the things that society INSISTS you take part in and enjoy……So we’re all cut out on what-the-world-expects-of-us and why not? If that’s all we did, [musicians especially] it would make for a rough world. (did you know Hitler was a band-geek? yeah-Basson —God I would knock him out just for THAT! AAAAANYHoooooo……)

WHO IS MIKE BRAGA?

I’ll tell the story as it unfolded for this writer in 2007. The timeline is quite jagged; so put on your “Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul/Star Wars/Pulp Fiction/Memento style plot hats cuz the timeline here zigs, zags and jumps…
That year I ran two assembly lines for Metagenics (fmr. makers of professional quality dietary supplements, protein powders & functional foods; my lines always packed that finished-goods, and pills from horse tablets to the barely visible. I digress. I’m running line 4– the phone rings. It’s Joe Rybus, a heavy in Kingsmen Organization and a head-hunter for the hornline. Someone fronted me off to the guy — he knew my name & cell….at least it was a welcome call.

“Am I interrupting” (he is; but…take a guess how many fucks I gave…)
“No….”
“This is Joe Rybus, did you know The Anaheim Kingmen are putting togther an Alumni Corps this year? This is the first time DCI will be held at the Rose Bowl to commerate our innaugural victory at Whitewater in 1971…anyway you wanna join?”
“I never marched Kingsmen”
“Yeah … well see we want to have as big a hornline as possible; so we waved that requirement; in fact; so far most of the members are alums from up north; like yourself!”
“Are you guys gonna play cool shit?”
“Yeah, Mambo, Folk Song Suite, So Very Hard To Go….Firebird...”
“That sounds cool…cant go wrong with Mambo, Williams, ToP or Stravinsky…. how many horns?”
“We have nearly 80; shooting for 120….” (now my crew knows im , not evem trying to work so they take over; a good crew…)
“So you wanna fill the rest with ringers right?”
“Yeah Chris; get it now?”
“….Practice? How do we not get the cops called?”
“One of the members is a principal at school in Anaslime [Joe didnt really say that, but u get the idea] He says we can use the band room and that no one will call for noise if we pack it in by sundown…and its just 30 miles north.”
“Joe I wanna do this, but $ is tight, I can’t tale time off work …..”
“We’re camping at Long Beach State for about 3 weeks before Semis [our last show] all you need is 1 weekend a month till summer, then every weekend, then get most of august.”
–NOTE: Joe’d made this call in 2006 so I had plenty of time to arrange this; plus my work OWED me a decent VAYCAY; I’d never taken even a sick day three years in ….
“$ is tight Joe….I can squeeze the time but I need rides, a uniform, theres no way I can pay fees. I want to help…really is th-
“[cutting me off] “look it’s free; if you need a ride ill get you one….
“I can drive dude; just one more thing; now that im older? 2nd Barry? Lower Lead? ….my chops are in pro-condition so …”
“Got it; Upper Lead Baritione, comped…the next camp is at….”

The rest is history. Sops like legendary sops like Ralphie, Jim Sobacki, Phil Norris and a few other (not Ray!) along with many Big Bore idols, Carl Allison (Freelancers), Doug “Pooh Bear” Kenyon (BD, Colts), Tony Pon (SCV), Charlie Groh(1st Marines, 2nd Battalion, 5th Regiment, Item Company, WWI/WW2/Korea)…..they really made it all worth it. Ther all could mop the floor with me; talent-wisae especially. *Fun Fact* – It would be Pooh’s last DC performance – he joined to surpise his daughter at DCI who was in the Colts – a rookie CG (coolest dad ever – RIP ol’ buddy!)
There were about 200 people in the Kingsmen that year; we rocked an honor guard with a full Color Presentation so of those 200, lets say 140 were holding an instrument. Here is a rough estimate of how they broke down:

  • Kingsmen Alumni = 22 percent
  • Freelancers Alumni = eight percent
  • VK Alumni = 10 percent
  • Concord Alumni = 25 percent
  • Santa Clara Alumni = 25 percent
  • Other or band-geeks living out their childhood fantasies 10 percent

Note there would be LOTS of crossover here: SCV/BD, VK/BD, Freelancers/BD, Kmen/BD …etc. Only Marty Jo Basset, Bill Varju and Tim Meehan having marched “the cycle” (VK, Freelancers, SCV & BD; with ho iarble mention that Tim SOLOED in ALL FOUR, Marty “The One Man Party” played upper lead sop in all four; and Bill Marched Contra, Barry (@VK in 95), Mello (BD, yr unknown) and Soprano – A DOUBLE CYCLE!!!!! Credit to Scott Steward as well for marching, though in just two that I know of; check out his 1990 semis solo when he’s like….a fucking 13 year old. (will add YT link if it still exists) Credit also to Jack M. for TEACHING VK/SCV/BD/Troopers and possibly Sac.
*sigh* better get to the meat here …. so we’re camping at LBSU and it’s like a biunch of adults with families/jobs/responsibilities are kids again (we were; well we felt like it; my room Anthony; whom partied 1000th as muvh as I did at that time – we got along famously and are still friends; having marched Renegades & Kingsmen Alumni together (links to follow). Each day we hit a practice field about 500 yrds from the dorms. Stretch. chat, plan, apply sunblock and Gold Bond, sectionals, lunch, ensemble, dinner, then either a show or more ensemble….then party, pass out, rinse & repeat. For us age-outs WE ARE ON CLOUD NINE; praying September never comes.
One week before Our final show (sniff…) at DCI I hear a rumbling that the cymbal section wants to quit en masse. Why? Apparently [to paraphrase] – WE CANT TAKE ONE MORE SECOND OF [MIKE’S] ABUSIVE BULLSHIT. CHOOSE. HIM. OR US. Our Fearless leader and DM Gary Kean investoigated, to find that Braga was running the cymbal line as though this were 1987 and THIS was the 1987 SCV Cymbal line. Lets start with some definitions.
A drum corps cymbal line – an extremely physical job from high school level up to division one (World Class) the cymbal line marches, attempts crazy difficult drill, accentuates the visual feel of the program. Musically all sorts of sounds can be made via scrapes, crashes, “shings” and tastefully marching in front of the battery so they have a crash or ride or (???) cymbal to use on the fly. Cyms are part expert dancers, military-precesion-marchers, elegant musicians and marching masters.
The SCV Cymbal Line – These guys are famous for being “so far over the top as to be obscene. Every time I saw them; they did everything together: they sit together on the drum bus. When the direcgtor (or any staff address them) they stand in a perfect rank, side-toe-contact. They rarely if ever make mistakes. Holes in this line are filled by an audition of 1000 competing for one spot. They eat togther – yes, in a rank. At night, they stack their bunks adjacent, in a rank. Every SCV member busts their ass; but NO ONE works as hard as the cyms. Finally; no one in their right mind would mess with them while on tour; they are tougher than any d-line for any college football team and were they soldiers? They’d return from combat HEAVILY decorated …. pardon the expression but you ever met a group of guys so tight they’s “eat each others’ sh!%?” —ok that’s the SCV Cymbal line for the past 30 years at least.
So Braga, even though, this ostensibly laid-back “Senior Corps” that only rehearses weekends (9-5 in stead of 9-sunup the next day, ‘EIGHT days a week’) and will not receive a score (Sr. Corps are usually exhibition at DCI shows) …Braga is not only acting like he is back in an SCV-hardcore-as-fuck-hand-me-that-bowl-of-shit Cymbal line….he is making threats, making some of his fellow Cym CRY. Doing the opposite of why we took off work and pissed off our kids & significant others – to make visually pleasing, aethetically beutiful, sonically sonorous, loud music – for us, for the fans, for everyone. The sxn reported; AND BRAGA (on the field of honor**) says [PARAPHRASED]

NO, FUCK YOU GARY IM NOT GOING ANYWHERE

 

WIP 1/30

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…again WIP this mess is about a quarter done. Sorry to put you blast Mike….no I’m not sorry….You suck….I’m ashamed to call my self any sort of “alumni” list that beats both our names. You are a disgrace to the Silver Star, The Green Shield and the memory of Gail & Myron. Start my NEVER HITTING ANOTHER WOMAN EVER. If you eant to hit someone….the comment section is below. -c

Part II

Braga decided (at some point) that as de facto Cym section leader of Kingmen Alumni; the best way to run the line was to act like a fascist white-power-prison-gang “grand-intimidator – thinking that excellence could be achieved via anger, cursing, threats, yelling and general douchery. If you’ve been incarverated or not; pictire that Napoleonic psychopath you pray never crosses your path. “I just want to do my time & get out with most of my teeth. Then you meet Braga. He wants to know “who you are, where youre from, what your deal is….are you a narc? He makes comments about your manhood to compensate for his lack of. I mean, what kind of man has two violent strikes for beating his wife? Usually the kind to scared to hit a dude.
Braga created an atmosphere of misery for the other Cymbal players in 2007, thinking this was the right thing to do …. One afternoon at Long Beach State; the Cyms had a meeting w/o their fear[full] leader; they decided marching in the Kmen Alumni no longer fell into the “fun” category. It would be fun if not for Braga; so they took the issue to Kean and said “Him or us.”
Simple, lose the douche. That’s where the story should end. With lightning-strike exceptions; an SCV member or alum obeys on0field orders from staff, section leaders, the Horn Sgt., all techs, consultants, caption heads and the director without question, so with my 1991 Kanstul 3v G Baritone at a pistol; I was shocked to hear Braga ARGUING with the fucking Drum Major!!! He was refusing to leave, saying he did nothing wrong. Kean is a smart, shrewd and peaceful man. He was not about to risk a figth with this hulking ,ass clearly looking for a violent outlet for his maniacy. The KAC rented dorms, a parking structire and a practice field; making the field (thank God) corps property. Member or no; the director/DM asks you to leave its not up for discyssion. NEVER on the field of honor. Before Kean could finish rationalizing “leave no you sciopath. Please leave and dont ever come back.” —several members hit 911 on their cells. The LBSU PD and LBPD showed up quickly. Braga was dragged off the field by them snarling and shooting red daggers out of his eyes, blaming the staff, the corps, the Cyms, Kean, the members, using words I woulnt place in a artice ABOUT the field of honor.
Not Familiar? Any field is a sacred place. Treat it that way if you ever want to march on Game (Saturday) Night. Since the 70s (60s?) Guards say a prayer to field before entering it. Batteries & Hornlines dress as nice as weather allows on the Field of Honor, they don’t swear on it, the NEVER sit on it, They use G-rated language on the field, they act professional; because they ARE. Only the teachers, leaders and technicians talk betweenn takes. Rehearsals are done with a purpose, memberws run back to their sets. Breaks only exist to keep memebers hydrated. We keep out ears open and our eyes up. We treat a painted field better than a board room in our chosen professions. To disobey chain of command, to shout vilent threats, to force law enforcement to drag you pff the field and worst of all; to stalk the corps after like a NeckBeard whose My Little Pony collection came to life…is deplorable.
—–next—–part III. Deep Background & Diane Feinstein….

Canton’s secret weapon; Dean Westman; the brass-performance miracle worker—a savant ….a genius music teacher if there ever was one….

My best portrait of my favorite teacher, Myron Rosander in profile, on the field at dci finals retreat in 1997.

Checking scores of late (not that they matter!) we see that BC is a hair in front of BD, with Crown’s tribute to 93 Star down about a point-and-a-half. Santa Clara, Garfield and Rosemont round out the top six (w/ the recent-rise of BC/CC we see that Boston, Rockford & Crossmen are out of the top6 – this writer doesn’t see enough time left for significant place-changes, time is short on re-writing shows (but they will! Drill & music!) as it is on time to rearrange the placements much. This means that semi-local corps The Academy is likely to retain 12th and march Finals. Well-deserved! The $ you’ll earn and the possibility of making finals in 2017 will attract more-better performers. More corps = more-gooder.
Prediction, SCV in 4th with a score in low 90s. CC pegs the bronze (no love for Bartok’s ‘Medea’ – then all that’s left is a shootout for the ring between BD and BC. Music, viz and GE, they are neck and neck in all 3 categories, so let’s assume the winner will be decided by ONE CAPTION. To me, both corps are evenly matched in CG, drill, ensemble viz, battery, front ensemble and GE, where I see ‘potential difference’ is in music performance [particularly brass]. Brass…that’s BD’s caption is it not? Absolutely, lets take a look at why p0wnage of this caption leaves them vulnerable …..
To explain the vulnerability, we must travel back to 1997. The year prior, I was a rookie in the Velvet Knights. At the 2nd camp (I missed the 1st one…) then brass caption head Greg Flores sent his adjutant (Bill Varju, who’d marched SCV, Freelancers, BD and aged out at VK in 1995 as a Barry soloist, take note Varju not only marched the “west-coast cycle,” he’d marched Contra, Barry, Mellophone and Soprano – he’s equally competent on all instruments)–to audition me in some locker room at some HS in Ana-slime. He asked me to play a few scales, chromatic & major, I then layed down some Arban’s Carnival of Venice (and the triplet + 16th-note variation) which I’d committed to memory. I’d also only been using valves for about 2 months, borrowing a concert euphonium from Olinger – this had many problems for learning on the fly….the euph was “upright” (not bell-front like a bugle, so it didn’t train any of the muscles i’d need) it was in “C” (which we can equivalently call “in Bb”) the bugle I’d soon audition on was also in G, making it a)heavier and b)a minor-3rd LOWER, so if I see a “Bb” written, but I don’t hear a G in my head before the attack – I will buzz way sharp and that will lead to a frack. I knew so little music theory in 1995-6 that it took months for me to realize I had to “hear Down” AND learn Bb Treble Clef (I was told by many that drum corps don’t call out “notes” – EVERYONE MUST READ TREBLE. Especially me so im learning a new clef, valves, preparing to re-learn soon in a new key and I desperately hoped I’d make the corps. Coming from 4 years straight of honor band and 4 years straight of full scholarship to music camp, plus the heavy-hitter music pgm. I’d joined (invoking ‘schools of choice’ to ditch SCHS). The first time I heard Capo Jazz was 1992, by 1993 it was a given that going to Capo was as obvious a choice as marching a div1-caliber corps.
After I busted out some etudes for Bill, he said, “can you start on an “F” [double-transpose – know that he’s asking for a concert Eb and that on the bugle, the note coming out will be a concert low-C…]…”just go up the scale and keep going till you can’t play any higher?” “Sure” so all 100 lbs of 16-yr-old-hack-self proceeded to take it up two octaves SOLIDLY, then extending up to the doubleC. Bill was more impressed than I’d expected, apparently no one else in the low brass was good above a high C, so I had an octave 8va on all the vets. When we returned to the arc, GREG said, “Chris, you stand on the end of the arc now, you can’t be section leader because you are new, but you are now 1st chair. If there are any small or mixed-ensembles you will play the upper-lead part, if the show has any solos they default to you, cool with that? …cool? Fuck yeah. I guess my range, volume, lack-of-fracks and willingness to learn a new instrument from scratch payed off! As 1st chair, this put me solidly in the top 20 low-brass players in HS or College in North America.
As much as I learned on tour that year, nothing could prepare me for 1997, or what would be asked, expected of me…and how far I’d go to do it **this story is key to why/how BC could win it all next month**
I went to the 1st camp, having been the lead player in a small-ensemble of one other barry (Ryan; who was equally-talented but didn’t have my range by a sight….) and two flugel-bugle’s – my part began an abrupt shift to swing on beat 2 during our 2nd production and my part would be most audible on the recording (though not “technically a solo” I had plenty as one of three Barry’s in our Mixed Ensemble (“The Music of 1970s TV,” including ChiPs and The Love Boat; arr. Brian Belski….and yes we beat BD!!!!!) the show was also so heavily “hosed” that there were lots of runs, turns, high notes and licks where I was the only person playing. The G chromatic-triplet scale from middle to top-of-staff in one bar at 170bpm comes to mind, so does the lead line to “the right stuff” (upper-register, Ryan and I were only ones pumping that out…same for a bit of higher-reg improv writtten into the ballad, closer,”Concierto” “America o’Canada” (double F last bar–> bury entire low brass section, some of the HB AND whatever corps was posted next to us at retreat. Greg wrote lots of other fun warmups, etudes, marches and ditties for us to play BESIDES the damn show, he would give me a lead-sheet to those and clue me in on the chords so I could “improv if I wanted to ….fuck it.”
At this 97-camp, we met a new viz caption head whom you all know – Dave Weinberg, he’d arranged, designed and drilled out a whole show with a “Monty Python & the Holy Grail Theme.” I was to be now not only 1st chair but big bore section leader now and I was excited. My intention was to suggest to Dave that a “baritone solo, or solos might be a good idea.”
Never got that far though …. a week after the camp, I got a call from Glen. Who’d also marched as a rookie with me in 96. He said that the IRS audited the bingo hall (fmrly at Knott & Ball….*sniff*), found that Dir. Tom Hixon and possibly others were pilfering the funds and worst of all, we were way out of compliance for a 501c3 nonprofit youth organization. Vk owed more to the IRS than it was worth, so the gov’t seized all assets and the corps folded. Glen said he was calling because he thought I should think about where I might want to march….he said, “The other corps know you, they heard you on tour, at retreat & at I&E, they know you’re 1st chair/sxn leader. Any corps with a Barry hole is going to hit you up, some corps that are full might boot a lower-lead just to make room for you.”

I was sad. That Hixon, what a dick-bag! We never had enough food or fuel or $ on tour, we were always getting stranded, getting to shows late and when the cook mentioned “VK surprise” we knew that means he would take all remaining food, mix it into a stew and serve it, this was often cereal mixed with hot water, ramen noodles and maybe some cheap beans or rice. I was sad that the next-nearest corps was a 1000 miles away, that i’d have to be a “rook pos” all over again and that whatever corps I joined was not as likely to hand over 1st chair so easy, my chances at a solo were dwindling unless I intended to march in a lesser-corps.

The next night a woman called from The Crossmen, she identified me as “VK’s star baritone” and that if I marched, I would only have to attend camps until school was out, I would not have to work any bingo and (as it had been the yr b4) as a “ringer”the tour fee would be $0.00. I told her it sounded great, I had serious respect for the Xmen and that other than my parents hating me; marching was very doable. She wanted me to commit. I told her to wait a few weeks per Glen’s warning. She said 1st-chair was again mine if I went and that they’d hold the drill spot indefinitely.
Two nights later Glen called again. “Dude, you wanna march Vanguard?” Not particularly, but it was the closest div1 corps, all my viz techs marched there so I knew what to expect in terms of physical torture during basics block and physical warm-ups. I also liked Santa Clara, I also liked the idea of being the one Capo-hack that moves across the bay. Capo’s brass-hack MO is to march one year of VK, (or zero…) then audition, march BD and show off your ring after tour. “How do I get there for camps Glen? I have no $, my family hates drum corps, I can’t work bingo….how do we do this?”
“I just heard from their brass staff, all the orphaned VK players [that dont suck] get a free-ride [comped tour fee-again] no audition, no bingo….” “yeah but how do we get there?”
“thats the best part, SCV’s hornline is short about 20, so the corps is chartering a bus that will take us up from south-coast plaza every Friday and BACK on Sunday night!” Ok….a former Vk-now SCV hornline-member called the next night and made the offer, I’d already offended my parents by affirming that drum corps would continue despite having no drum corps nearby…so I said I would be on the bus next weekend and every weekend till post-memorial-day……
Now lets’s get into BC’s secret weapon. After the 1st camp, mgmt announced a change in brass-caption-head. His name was Dean Westman, he’d marched 1992-1993 (????) Contra at Rosemont. He had a teaching credential and lead a school in Texas where they take football so srsly that he led a fresh-soph MB, a JV MB and a Varsity MB (this along with the usual band dir. Stuff, beginning band, wind ensemble, jazz, commercial music, advanced band, orchestra, spring musical…..) he’d been teching Rosemont since aging out; our arranger Gordon Henderson was quite close to the staff there (he arranged 1995’s championship program “The Planets,” where in 95 there was 3-way tie for high-brass!)
Dean had shown himself to be adequate to be promoted from adjutant to caption head, albeit at a new corps….I won’t name cuz he’s a friend and deserves privacy, but SCV told Gordon to find a new head so they could fire the old one.
You have to understand that SCV lost it’s compass in 1992 with the death its longtime dir. & founder, Gail Royer. “Dr. Len Kyryzeki (sp?” took over in 1993….94, 95 & 96 were not banner years 7th, 5th, 5th then 6th place ….longtime friends, fans, family and alumni feared the worst, that we’d continue to slide and go the way of other corps that slipped out of Finals, never to be heard from again. Unlike BD, SCV didn’t have the luxury of holding auditions and selecting the best 66 out of 1000s…in fact, when I joined, we still had about 5 or 6 more holes, we patched them using the div 2 corps b4 leaving Calli, you need to understand that the average age in the hornline was 17 ½!!! The battery and front ensemble were filled with the absurdly-talented from day one,, not so the bugles; we’d have to learn. Think of Dean’s job as being to bring a bunch of high-school kids (with an average of just over 1 year of division 1 drum corps) up to a professional level. Dean introduced some neat listening exercises and etudes, but as much as the viz staff beat us to shit (not as bad as wanna-be VK viz guys…) Dean was always smiling, always nice, always happy to be there, never angry, rare to chew anyone out…and he ran horn-arc as BD would, lax….few viz standards enforced, much to the chagrin of vets and staff…..I could see what he was getting at. HE was explaining the technical aspects on the one hand…and he was priming us for “professional level” live performance on the other. If your show is 100 percent clean, you will get an 89/100 in brass performance; to break 90…and to crack 95, or 96….it takes something far more important than perfection; but lets not worry ourselves wit that yet. Rosemont came out to NorCal that year; at the first show we got p0wned by them and BD was over 10 points ahead of us.
Dean drilled & drilled and drilled us, rewriting the book 100+ times, hosing the players who couldn’t nail the hard stuff (or the easy stuff) and the viz staff did there thing so we could jazz run at 180 bpm and pass-thru Contra’s at “one” (yes one…) intervals whilst keeping the feet out of the sound. Three hornlines set out from CA, all completely full, one had just tied with PR for the win in 96, the other, a solid winner the year prior, a males-only corps full of “men”…like BD at close glance there were two hornlines full of men and one mostly kids….US. DCP even scouted us out of the top6, perhaps dropping to its lowest finish ever….how could we possibly compete with these two powerhouses that attracted the cream of the crop, internationally? Well, for one thing we had a cool show design (music, cg & drill), we had the most devoted drill-writer and viz caption head in all space-time; Myron Rosander….and…though he’d marched div 1 the same year as our super-vet (7-yr), we had perhaps the universe’s best music teacher, not a day over 25. We’d never been taught to or allowed to consider the score as a gauge for “how good we were doing,” but we did know that we could not continue to slide in placement, we are after all, the only corps to make Finals every year, not even BD can say that! Since 1989, we’d not defeated either corps. Gail’s last year was a massive crowd-pleaser with “Fiddler” but even the loaded hornline and baby-chucking fans, the adjudication community saw it as another re-hash and they panned it, sending Santa Clara from 1st to 8th in three years. 1990’s “Carmen” was also panned, as many of the members who’s just won came back for another ring….not only did they not win they did not medal; coming in 5th; 1991 continued Gail’s love of the theatre with a strikingly artistic rendition of “Miss Saigon,” still, the judges only “allowed” the corps to recover to 4th.
Could the corps survive many more years without its heart & soul? No one knew. In 97 it wasn’t looking good.
Then we changed back to the xmas-tree uniform.
Then Dean came up with an idea for the flattest part of our show…an up-tempo d-a-c-ray pattern from Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety. BEFORE DRUMS ALONG THE ROCKIES THIS PRODUCTION WAS TECHNICALLY PERFECT. NO phasing, no fracks, no bad intervals or bad drill. It was a machine firing on all pistons, we’d added tons of visuals and re-written it, hosed the weaker players off chromatics/melodies/licks and other ‘hard’ stuff. WE moved and played together, the ensemble blend was nice, great dynamic contrast…… The DoD was all-Vanguard….so why did the audience sit on their hands during&after? They didn’t during the intro, they stood up plenty of times during “On The Waterfront.” If we didn’t run out of O2 in that thin mtn air…we’d get a standing O as we trooped the line off the field, but ….I was already thinking that if we could make the 4th production pop…. we’d at least be close to Rosemont, within 7.5 of BD and DCP would maybe at least put us back in the top6……..
The hell if I knew how, but Dean did; I believe he knew the whole time….he’d already begun to explain that reading music perfectly the 1st time was a given for professional players. It’s an expert that can accomplish that. A “pro” makes the audience feel something REAL. As all art should, when I look at Picasso’s “Guernica” I feel the pain and strife, I FEEL the beauty Van Gogh saw when he painted “Starry Night.” Our opener had a soft, lilting, pretty, easy-going, early-morning-feel. On-the-Waterfront had tension, power and mayhem/dissonance built in, like rush-hour on the 680.The ballad was all love, so was the closer and the “park” sequence had a playful feel built into it…but what was this weird-dissonant-chord-repeated-at-high-speed supposed to mean? What should the fans feel? How do we project a feeling if I we dont know wtf its supposed to be?
“Ok so bring it in….everyone…” 120 “kids” surrounded Dean and he described the problem above. He’d been racking his brain to explain the feelings to emote in our flat-production.
“Did any of you see “Sleeping with the Enemy?” [nope]”ok well, in the movie, Julia Roberts is abused by her husband…I thought of it because the chords we repeat over and over are the same ones the evil husband plays on his record player, …every day, when he gets home from work, he puts on the d-a-c-ray, then he slowly tromps upstairs to beat his wife….when we reset, I want you to BE that character; especially if you play the repeated theme. Don’t feel her fear of getting beat, feel HIS RAGE, HIS ANGER, HIS FURY….consider that if you were out of uniform, off the field, you’d be about to beat the shit out someone you cared about. GET ANGRY, how pissed does this character have to get to do something so evil? So lets set up at the top, everybody’s in-full out!…and send all that evil rage up to the BOX!”
I’d seen the movie. I remembered that the music I was about to play was the same as Kevin Kline’s evil record player, meant to foreshadow despicable acts of terror. When I set; I pictured myself in his black raincoat and turtleneck, I could see stairs off behind the track where I’d go to “beat my wife” afterward. I furrowed my brow, for the 1st time I got into character. I always thought the music speaks for itself but no! You have to BE a character to express a particular emotion, even if it’s a continent away from being politically correct*
….In addition to support staff there were about 30 fans milling about. We ran the prod thru, top to bottom, we tore, I spread tone a few times, some of the sets and horn visuals didnt snap as you’d expect them to in July, but at the end of this production, the staff, fans and ourselves sat in a state of shock as we dressed-center; then the millers & staff erupted into cheers, applause, jumping up and down….and I felt it. This was a NEW PRODUCTION! I simply couldn’t wait to do it at a show (it had previously been my least fav production)…I knew we could get two more standing o’s…maybe more?
All Dean did was place a thought in our heads, that’s it! Then….magic. There are so many more examples but this post is long enough so let’s leave it at this. That night we got a standing O at the first impact-point in that production, also a loooong one at the end of it (shit we hadn’t even done the closer yet!) That put us at somewhere around 10 times the fans would rise & lose their shit. So did the judges take note of that? You decide.
At the second regional “Drums” at Mile High, we beat Rosemont and did not lose to them again till their three-peat in early 2000s. We had a ceremony in Colorado where we gave back “the noose” which had been at the corps hall since 1990. Cavs and SCV are rivals so the noose is what you get if you lose so “go hang yourself with it!” We NEVER lost to Rockford or Madison, we beat Garfield and at q’s we tied BD….we dropped to 3rd at semi’s but on the night of the live PBS broadcast, we were the “reliable Rondo”-pick to win it all.
We didn’t win-win, but in Vanguard terms we won. We peaked at Finals. Sans minor side 1 to side 2 phasing for a bar that locks back in before the 1st impact in the opener, show = tech perfection.
Emotionally, we took 50k denizens of east-Florida on a ride through human feelings, ours, theirs, their fears, their wants, their hates, their anger, their tension, their joy mainly …. their nostalgia; that warm place you go before tears of joy leak out.
Point-Dean did that in one year, three yrs after teching for his alma mater they win. 98 SCV get silver, 99-gold. Then he drops out to be w/ fam, work his other job and pick up a lil extra w/ the on-broadway production of Blast! Then he drops off-radar. Now we find him 4 years in leading Canton’s ensemble music. They are a c— hair behind BD ….so here it is the tap-prediction as of august 1 folks;
1. BC >97.0
2. BD >95.5
3. CC >95.0
4. SCV >93.0
5. Gar >92.5
6. Cavs >91.0
….12th = TA w/ > 81.0
thx for reading & plz support our generous sponsors…such as–


*note – The SoCal Pic in no way shape or form supports violence against women. What we DO support is invoking the psyche of a fictional character in order to express such emotions as anger, cruelty and madness. It is the ability to transcend technique and project ANY & ALL emotions that separates expert artists from professionals. This writer credits Dean Westman and Myron Rosander primarily for teaching me the difference AND how to ACTUALLY DO IT IN FRONT OF A LIVE AUDIENCE! Sadly, no one will benefit (directly) from Rosander at DCI this year [Rest in peace, ol’ buddy….] but the COATS, the COPS have DW and his leadership will make the diff under those Saturday Night Lights. SEE YOU SEEING ME THERE, IN THE FLESH, -T August, 2016.

Style and Code is under construction + Advertiser Audit is in process….

please note that this site may look strange until I have time to tear up the code and test it. in the short-term we wanted all multimedia files to be accessible; in my efforts to customize the footer.php file, the site became deprecated and robbed me of my ability to post certain content, especially music. I noted a bit of renewed interest in the 2007 Kingsmen Alumni Corps, of which I recently located a rare recording, so I cut up “Mambo” (feat. my boys Phil Norris on Soprano and Carl Allison on Baritone). I’ve sacrificed “pretty-looking-and-the-way-I-like-it” for “It works.”—–cant be posting links to music that you cannot see, click or listen too! in the meantime plz bear with the weak-sauce styles, colors, frames…all that good stuff I will spruce up asap. In the meantime I banned two questionable advertisers. No offense but if you want to “spread the word of” *ahem* “JeBus” you can do it somewhere else <------not misspelled see "the simpsons go to [some 3rd world country]" We don't want your money. This is a Los Angeles Jewish-controlled-Media site, as it should be. We are slightly left-of-center. To correct speakers at the RNC 2016 we are not atheists, nor do we “worship Lucifer.” We believe in God. we look at it quite differently from all Christians, this does not mean we have anything against any religion, it just means that this site is primarily a news/tech/commentary blog with an emphasis on design, art, music and editorials. It is not a place to hand out church fliers. The web is a big place….ostensibly, please consider 99 percent of the content to be secular in nature. thx -the publisher, Los Angeles, July 2016
*UPDATE* NUCIFIC.COM also banned – reason – asynchronous multimedia ad featured the truncated backside of an overweight woman in a white “bikini” (…..) bottom. It offended my delicate sensibilities and I wonder who would find the mystery product and/or service appealing BASED on the unappetizing image. Sorry but images of big fat asses (not even my own) are as red flag, especially on a site devoted to aesthetically-pleasing images, media, art, design, code, logic, prose …. and music. apologies if you saw that ad.
Four separate Christianity-based advertisers got banned along with “dookie bootie” on 7/21 & 7/22/2016 for poor taste and misalignment with the design and ethical standards of The SoCal Pic

That said hopefully the advert below is appropriate for me, you and all other readers/contributors/supporters of site. contact me at chris.e.welke@gmail.com if you ever see an offensive or questionable advert put BAD AD ON YOUR SITE in subject line–I will review and get back.




NEW DCI arrangement is ready just in time for the season! ….

A photo of Gail Royer and Jerry Seawright at DCI in ~1985

new warmup arrangement draft is ready for public consumption https://musescore.com/user/3209196/scores/1042196 this is only v1 so know that this is another prototype. See notes accompanied by link to learn more – im at chris.e.welke@gmail if YOU’d like help with your drum & bugle corps, color guard, M&M, music consulting for any type of ensemble…then get at me before I’m all booked up for the summer! -ed
Sanctus – Hornline warmup v1 2016 by Tapper7

advert below watch out…..



RIP Myron Rosander ….

My best portrait of my favorite teacher, Myron Rosander in profile, on the field at dci finals retreat in 1997.

Credit, love, reverence, respect, humility, mourning, appreciation, honor, perseverance, integrity, indomitable spirit, courage, love and hope. These are just a few of the words that come to mind when I think about my favorite educator who later became a close friend and confidante. Rosander was there when a father-figure was needed most. When all I needed was a friend to talk to, lament and connect through shared experience as friends – he was there for that too.
Readers of this site know that the publisher is a pragmatic man of science (who is less on the religious side, yet heavy on the spirituality). Forgive me but, the majority of the New Testament isn’t all that plausible to me. No; I don’t believe; as Carl Sagan said “I do not BELIEVE anything; there are only things that I know and things that I do NOT know…” Does this make me a “Commie-atheist-Jew-bastard”? yeah, it does – the assertion is partially true and it does not insult me on any level. I digress.

In contrast to all the logic, axioms, proofs and lemmas that build the world I Know exists….Myron was a magical, super-human person with the ability to perform magic. How is  this insanity possible? I was there the “Night Myron Brought the Lightning.” Looking back I cant confirm or deny that he had control of forces unknown; yet benefited from greatly. On the night in question, the 17-yr old version of me was convinced that if there were ..say..”gods“…that he HAD to be one of them.

You can locate Spike’s youtube vids and/or order his book for an excellent recounting of this and many other magical moments that transcend anything we can understand — though THAT NIGHT?… no one, not the Elks who’d just toasted us (given thank-you speeches in our “honor” and showered us with kilos of spaghetti and tears) not the staff, the management or even the OG Consultants can explain exactly what happened that night or how he did what he did….only that it was the only way to get our immature heads out of the clouds and back to reality. We’d recently been winning shows almost every night, we had the highest score in the country (~91.3) and Drum Corps World ranked us #1. It went to our heads. I knew the show we’d done before retiring to the lodge was flat, weak …in fact it was lazy; “mailed in” – the crowd still ate it up along with the victory concert that followed.*still* – we could’ve given 10x more; for some reason; we chose NOT to. Some corps peak early and their score reflects it…experienced it myself in 1996 – The Velvet Knights – we peaked somewhere in the midwest, where our best shows were … [and a few in the north-east] – our score pushed 80 but never broke it; at DCI, we finished 16th …south of 75.

Myron had the foresight to realize the 1997 Vanguard was at risk of peaking in late July/early August, which would mean we’d “get our shit tossed” at DCI. He never cared about the score; nor do I — a show that pleased him would please any judge – so simply showing up with the super-suit on, game-facing it, leaving 200 percent on the field and creating emotional moments the audience could connect and feel were guaranteed to jack-up the score (ideally…ahem) Many judges are hard-core fans at heart and will reward the corps that moves them the most with the show’s crown; even if it wasn’t technically the best-technically-executed-show that night. nu?
On the night in question; for its time w/in the season & tour; the show was technically near-perfect. No tears, no drops, no clams, perfect drill with perfect technique…no out-of-stepness. The judges rewarded us because other div one corps; Rockford, Rosement, Canton, Boston, Madison; we’d left all of them far behind weeks ago – sadly, it led a reason to rest on laurels and get lazy — cuz thats what kids do. We were kids and most of the nothings, vets, super-vets and staff were also..technically…kids.
After the show my friend and teacher/tech, Brian Belski pulled me aside and warned me – (I knew we’d mailed in a show, but I thought we’d get away w/ it because of the reception, the victory and soon-coming opportunity to do it up right at the next show). What I did not know was that Myron was beyond-furious…and not just at the corps. Belski’d ridden back to the lodge in the staff bus and witnessed the magic-man stewing. Belski warned me a dreadfully long and painful chewing-out and shaming was on deck and could hit at any time – also that he was equally pissed at the staff.
That was my favorite moment; halfway through our “new-asshole-tearing” (as the lightning began to gather) he turned around to where the leadership was hiding — some of them perhaps thinking they were immune to his wrath.
As the berating crescendo-ed from mezzo-forte to fuck-you-loud; Myron swung a full 180– AT THAT MOMENT; IN TIME WITH THE EXCLAM. ON THE END OF HIS NEXT STATEMENT–WAS THE FIRST LIGHTNING STRIKE…

“[spin] AND THE STAFF!!!!!! [KrackBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!!!!!!] [EXPLETIVE DELETED EXPLETIVE DELETED ETC]…as he held every man and woman within the sound of his impossibly projected voice responsible and vilified us all; an intense electrical storm commenced; the strikes were close; so there was no delay between flashes and bangs. The marcatos, accents and sforzandos of his most venomous invective were all infused with summer’s most violent strikes from a pitch-black-sky. The more angry he got; the more the lightning gravitated to him and for a few inexplicable moments – the dark forest of upstate New York seared with incendiary, passionate, pitiless rage … emotionally or physically, none was left unburnt by what is still the most inexplicable moment of my life.
I just don’t see how that couldve been a convenient coincidence, dear reader. He knew he had to save the corps from peaking early, he knew it was crucial he got the bullet points thru the thick skulls of every one of us; so he made it happen.

In my life; I have not mailed in a musical performance even once since that fateful show.He brought the corps up. he brought me up [time and time again]. We peaked at Finals; that’s the goal of a div 1 corps or a world-class sr. corps. PEAK AT FINALS. We were ale to do it as performers and the staff was able to help us achieve that; thanks to his guidance; beginning with a rude awakening.

A magical awakening. from a magical man. We will love and remember him forever.

On that note; I was reminded on fb by fellow tbn-player and one of the best Mellophone Bugle players I’ve ever heard (Matt Carol) that “he could teleport!” I was warned early on that he had this power. The man was intimidating for certain; and the first time I met him he informed me that by only drinking water during a 2-min water break – I was wasting about 1 minute that could be used to work on my horn-snap…my horn-salute…my high-mark-time…whatever..just…

“take the goddamn initiative and work on bettering yourself w/o having to be asked; don’t let me ever see you just standing there like an idiot during rehearsal.”

Yes sir,” I said, setting down my water jug and bringing my horn to a carry and running a portion of the timing exercise.

That was in March; and I was used to being abused by viz staff the previous year on a far more cruel scale at vk; hence it didnt bother me that my days of “kicking it” when the staff gave us a break LONGER that an “in&out” were OVER JOHNNY [that means run, drink water, run back and set at a pistol, posssibly at minus1]

That same day I realized he could easily teleport from side 1 to side 2, from side 2 to the stands, from the stands to the box, from the box to backfield….and at times when I couldn’t see him; I conducted myself as though he could…a good idea; because it was in those instances when he’d suddenly appear behind me and pointout that I’d again failed to hit his[my] dot. Myron gave me a handful of crucial drill spots in the 97 show. In the intro “Lonely Town” we all toe-1st out-of time and crescendo to a heart-shaped-form…I was the point at the top of that heart. Same for the biggest hit in the opener “On the waterfront” – the drum feature is followed by a horn-snap, and me playing+jazz-running to what resolves in unison concert C at fortissiissimo, the visual resolve was a massive bow-tie, which hinges on the center of the X it will form – that’s me. (what an honor!) …then we get 8 beats of respite backfield, after which Myron’s amazing Avalanche begins….you could say im in one the 2 most “screwed spots” – geometrically, the bottom left & right drill spots will have to jazz-run backwards at a full-clip-full-extension 4 to 5, the direction change and jazz-run forward for same.

This and many other drill moves were certain to be completely ruined if I did not nail my set (even early season) this means that frequently I was gauging those extremely exposed drill spots on-the-fly in real time – in the moment say, the “center of a giant X” could be up to 5 yards from where it is written to be. I quickly learned a disdain for so-called “dot-marchers.”

me- ‘move back’
asshole – [looking at dot book] “im on my dot”
me- “fuck your dot-book – look at the form, you’re out of it..next time? the dot book goes down your throat after I plug your mouthpiece”
asshole – “ok” [but god-help-him] –if he shook his head, rolled his eyes or [unimaginable to Myron’s students] threw his hands up the air.

Did Myron teach me to treat some students harshly, threaten them and demand unquestioning fealty, sometimes via fear/intimidation? –NO. I was already primed to be a complete dick. Did he make it easier for me to write/teach and clean drill for bands and winter guards [and div2 corps?] YES!

To a well-examined, well-lived, never-to-be-forgotten life. L’chaim!

PS – to my ‘corps’ readers – I began to compile historical anecdotes about Myron right here at tapper7.com/LoveForMyron a few months back. If you’d like to add one, you can submit it to the editor for review — email your story (stories), your name, nickname, section, full dc experience + [obviously] yr & or years you marched scv – as the page is titled; anyone who loves the man is entitled to an opportunity to have their words appear. Note -though about a 5th of you are … there is no need to be an alumni of scv a or b to post…only that your story is a)true and b)from the heart. thx! submit to the webmaster (submit!!!) chris@tapper7.com

*legal notice* consider that all americans have a right to privacy in writing your anecdotes. all content is edited for style, syntax, grammar, fact-checked and may be modified for compliance with US Media Laws, AP Style and SPJ Ethical Compliance. that said; feel free to pour your soul out. Approved authors get full credit and back-linked if they have anything to BL to. Should /loveforMyron grow to a publishable size…all profits will go to the Santa Clara Vanguard. Bias note – the publisher himself has much love for Myron and intends to make a[nother] donation to scv regardless.
-[]

Music Composition – Building Simplicity part 1 – Drum Corps & I-IV-V-I ….

Let’s go back in time for a moment. We’re 16 again, in the end-zone of some HS football field. Sixty-five of our brothers and sisters surround us for horn-arc. We attentively wait on our Caption Head … maybe it’s Jim Prime, Jim Ott, Rick South, Gail Royer, Jack or John Meehan, Greg Flores, Gordon Henderson, Jim MacFarlane, Gary Kean or Dean Westman. He raises his hands and our horns come up as one. He does two things-

  1. He gives us a “thumbs up”
  2. He smiles

For the uninitiated, the thumbs up signals the “F Tuning” sequence; the smile indicates his joy in conducting this and hearing us perform it , it is also our joy to play it for you. I’m going to bridge the gap between complexity of musical form, aesthetic & structure with our innate ability to enjoy music – no matter if you are a casual listener, a fan, a performer, a student, a pro, or a snobby hack with OCD.

The director brings up his hands and we breathe deep, from the bottom, set our lips and articulate a a unison C in three octaves. Then (perhaps with index and pinky extended to indicate an interval is about to be laid down, he cues the next fermata). The lead barry and sopranos pop up to the perfect fifth: G. Possibly adding another digit to indicate a completing of the major triad, with the next downbeat, seconds arise to the major third – E. –> The I chord is now constructed.

With four digits to signal the IV chord, he cues it and the line moves to an F Major triad – F, A & C. Now with all digits exposed to signal the V chord – he drops the downbeat and we move into G Major – G, B & D. To complete the progression, he gives another big, happy, open downbeat to signal a return home – to the root – I –> C Major again. It rings, it’s in tune, balanced, glorious…it is a moment of sheer joy for all within hearing range.

Why do we “like” F Tuning so much? What makes it happy? Why is the director, performers and audience smiling? That is a question for signal analysts and the neurosciences – what I CAN tell you is what the I-IV-V-I progression expresses artistically, or…at least what is theoretically “saying.” (Hence the study of music theory). I’ve read hundreds of articles and books on this, I’ll be using my own interpretation of the aesthetic. It is open for debate, difficult to define in words – you may have a better or more succinct or poetic way of putting it…for those who wish to learn basic chord progression and the artistic theory associated with F Tuning, I hope to shed some light on what your ears have been telling you all these years.

  1. As the director, I’m going to present the audience with an idea– in this case, the idea is the “color” C. It is plaintive and simple. Though in three octaves it is really just one note. Sixty-six men & women paint it for you.
  2. By cueing the perfect fifth, I’m telling you that “We are going to paint more for you.” The G’s fit just right, like an old baseball mit.
  3. When I layer in the third, I inform you that I’m continuing to “fill in” the picture of a C Major triad. Can you feel the symmetry? Does it appeal to your logical/analytical side? Your creative side? I hope it appeals to both. I’ve given you the WHAT – this piece of art is based on the key of C Major. – What happens next is a bit of a quandary.
  4. I cue the subdominat IV chord –> F Major….In moving to the IV, it signifies a turn inward…it’s as though I’m communicating internally, or perhaps with the performers, but not you…not exactly…not yet. In lyrical music, a IV following a I often contains 1st-person phrases like “Is this a dream?” “How do I feel?” “I’m unsure of myself.” Perhaps (to the 1st-time listener of F Tuning) you are unsure as well…what will I (we) present next? Even though this chord is major (“happy” — sans dissonance), by following the I it evokes uncertainty.
  5. Moving into V –> G Major, I put you back into the picture. In lyrical passages, V’s that follow I & IV often contain verses in the third or second-person. That is; someone, or some group, is being addressed directly. “This is how you make me feel.” “I’ll always remember Dominique’s smile…” “We love our fans.” Subconciously, you should at least get the following message, “NOW you see (hear). NOW you know what I’m (we’re) doing.”
  6. Psychologically (for reasons unknown to me) the V chord following the I & IV send a strong signal that the I chord is coming back — NEXT. If I were to yell “CUT!” before the resolve to I, you are likely to get an uneasy, uncomfortable feeling. To wit, a “buzz-kill.” It’s like in 2nd grade choir when the teacher would play C, D, E, F, G, A, B …… (?????!!!!!) our seven year old brains freaked out a bit…dying to hear the C! You may remember this exercise… some students sang the C out-loud due to frustration. The want or NEED to hear the V resolve to I is even stronger. Scales and one-note-at-a-time patterns have got bupkis on chord progressions.
  7. With a final downbeat – I signal the return home – to I –> C Major. With the V chord, you “saw” … you “knew.” With the resolve…I publicly said, “Now …you understand.” (and tangentially, did you like it? Hopefully, you did).

I reconstructed “Thumbs Up” from memory (not that it’s hard to remember) about a year ago in MuseScore and exported a wave file so you can digitally stand with me in the arc and hear it once more, just don’t be surprised if I add I7 or I9 (“Amen”) to the second refrain & naturally the double high register in the third. It’s the virtual drum corps that lives in my PC. They’re learning.

These feelings, expressions, emotions and forms of communication innate to chord structure and progression can get quite complex, in future installments I’ll add examples to listen to and we’ll delve into far more complex progressions as we learn this together. It’s about time we understood a little bit about our favorite thing in the world, don’t you agree? -t

More fun with Java 1.8 -ASCII “Art” 101 using Arrays….

This is the type of assignment I would hand out to first year programming students. After introducing the idea of lists, I implore them to solve the following:
Use a list to build an ASCII pyramid using the character of your choice and make it: a) appear “pyramidal” that is, no leaning, no right-angles at the base and give it some semblance of aesthetic quality b) your logic should generate EVERY level of the pyramid, that is, no coding “special cases” for the top, middle or bottom rows. The logic must hold sound to construct the entire pyramid as a stand-alone algorithm. c) print your src (source code) and the output of your program to prove to peers that it works.

    This task requires careful dissection of the elements involved:

  • variable number of rows
  • each row knows how many spaces to print and how many characters
  • this involves logical analysis for the left spaces, the chars AND the right spaces
  • The algorithm must know when to “endline”/”newline”/
  • Careful analysis and monitoring (QA/QC) of the variables during runtime may be needed

For the seasoned programmer this is fairly basic, but involves core mathematical concepts, an element of basic aesthetic design and a good grip on list variable storage; how they are both computed and sent to an output stream (System.out in this case) This is the rough equivalent of “cout <<” for you C/C++ guys

    For extra credit:

  • Add a user-interface to ask the user how big to build the pyramid. Include exception-handling for pyramid sizes that are not technically “pyramids” (height = 1 is not a pyramid) heights too large will lose their aesthetic, or their pyramidal structure entirely if built too large or too impractical for the user’s display. (I capped mine at 50 rows) – add warnings depending on the user interface).
  • Decorate the pyramid with one or more random characters in addition to your “foundation” block (I used hashtags for my foundation block).
  • Invert the pyramid.
  • Stack the pyramid atop the inverted one to make a diamond shape…make sure it lines up evenly. No bumps or other strangeness in the middle.

Here is a sample solution; note that I carefully tracked line size, space, building-block-count, row-count & the storage of each…this is crucial to accuracy and QC testing during development time.
This is an acceptable output:

a snap of the pyramid program in-process using the Netbeans IDE
seen w/in the Netbeans Integrated Development Environment. “I design them.”

 

Here is the source code – note brevity in my solution– ~20 lines-ungolfed!:
/*
author: Chris "Tapper" Welke
This program generates an ASCII-art 50 row pyramid using hashtags as a building block.
Solution provided for instructional/informational purposes in the areas of lists,
integers, type-casting, dynamic memory allocation, and open-source programming. If you
are new to Java, this is an excellent trial pgm to get you started.
Dist. under the GNU Public License. Free to distribute: please attribute though, ok?:
Last Stable Build: 5/23/15 at Tapper7.com and Self-Similarity Studios courtesy
The Netbeans (Netbeans.org) IDE, Java 1.8 and the std. javac compiler
OS: Win 8.1, Chipset by Intel. Laptop by Hewlett-Packard. Website provided by Media Temple
*/
package learn;
import java.util.Arrays;
public class HashTagASCIIPyramid{
protected static int charlinelength = 100;
public static void main(String[] arg){
float[] asciiStorage = new float[HashTagASCIIPyramid.charlinelength];
int totalHashtags = 1; //initialize builing block total
int charCount = 0; //count building blocks for QC testing
int[] cclist = new int[100]; //record the char generation as it happens
int leftspaces = (int)asciiStorage.length/2;
int rightspaces = (int)asciiStorage.length/2;
int height = 1;
for(int i = 0; i < asciiStorage.length/2; i++){
for (int l = 0; l < leftspaces; l++){
System.out.print(" "); charCount++;
}
for (int t = 0; t < totalHashtags; t++){
System.out.print("#"); charCount++;
}
for (int r = 0; r < rightspaces; r++){
System.out.print(" "); charCount++;
}
System.out.print('\n');
/*QC Tracking: height++; cclist[i] = charCount;*/
leftspaces--; totalHashtags +=2;rightspaces--;
}//end mn loop
}//end mn
}//end class #asciipyramid

Hints: I used space-fillers for the spaces (” “); – left and right brackets plus lots of variable outputs to see what was going on during run-time, my initial design yielded the following output:
run:
pyramid test1
WHOOPS!
Heh…so clearly there were multiple logic faults, (and I started with tildas, not hashtags….) but it was easy to track the movement of the left and right brackets that debugged the left and right SPACES and not shown are my debugging outputs that checked the length of each row for consistency(it was going over and under 100 – keeping the length of each row equivalent was key to my particular legitimate solution)— also that my iterators and arrays were misplaced and thus not controlling and the output correctly.

    Keys to victory:

  1. increment blocks by TWO; not one
  2. decrement spaces and increment blocks OUTSIDE the main loop rightSpaces--;leftSpaces--totalHashtags+=2;

Coming soon: Bill’s adventures at Los Alamos, More Netbeans experiments, tutorials and anything interesting that happens when I have my camera on me.

Lots of great ideas in the works…and let us not forget: Summer is Coming …. Go Santa Clara and Concord! Support your local drum corps by playing bingo, going to shows, donating your time, tailgating at shows and screaming your lungs out when corps brings you to it on the Field of Honor. All signs point to a another stellar season for Red and Blue Banners both; and I wouldn’t have it any other way (scratch that….I’d resurrect Bridgemen, Suncoast, Big 27, Star, Kingsmen, The Freelancers and The Velvet Knights) THEN it’d be roll-out time.
Under the circumstances, putting all politics aside; Thank God for Rosemont, Rockford, Madison, Garfield, Bloooooo, SCV/BD, Cru, Spirit and all other remamining “Big Time DCI” corps still in the hunt, still rockin’ it…gettin ready for the only kickoff I really care about: Memorial Day Weekend. A trial by fire where those who make it through will be ready for the best summer of their lives. Hang in there kids, you got this!
Music, Tech, Art, Love and Life; find it all right here at The SoCal Picayune. Your LA/OC home for Drum Corps, Culture, tech-security, experiments and solutions, the occasional off-color joke, scam-hunting, YT highlights and the best (and worst) direct from the minds of this writer, Tapper and Bill Feynman.
Maybe a Memorial Day Anecdote will inspire itself as we begin the approach. hmmmmm…..
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“They’re payin’ for it… YOU EAT IT!!!” Another war story from the front lines @DCI

a gif showing a famous scene from "Full Metal Jacket" Leonard eats his doughnut while the MC recruits shup.

Subtitle: The guy from 89 BD who f—— up the solo on Finals Night. An update.
“When are you gonna post the link about the 89-guy?” OK OK OK … on behalf of the publisher, the editor would like to apologize for the writer who keeps giving the readers what they want…Drum Corps News, Reviews and “Tales of Yore!
Let the West Coast Legacy live for all time…even it’s …….regretable moments. All I’m sayin’ is…I’M NOT THE ONE WHO INSISTS THAT WE WATCH the chum-fest during “If We Were In Love” which is my favorite ballad of all time, at EVERY FUCKING GET-TOGETHER, #amirite? heheh…  the fuckup is NOT posted on this site and you maniacs that don’t have the 1,000 DVD set or a mountain of old VHS tapes and/or bootlegs…use your noodle and search Youtube….the search terms should be obvious…find it there.
(Confession: the troll who tacked “keyboard-cat” on as a stinger – you are unoriginal and an asshole, but you made me laugh so +1 …dick).
Let me also credit the rest of the corps, Including John and Tim Meehan, Rich Skare and scores of others who were SPOT ON Saturday Night…just like every other night.
Click on the truncated pages to read them as PDFs, you may need to use the lil magnifying glass to make it readable.
My apologies, but Office 365 and WP don’t talk to each other all that well. I blame Microsoft.

"I chum them" Nerrr....
chummin it live in  89.pg2
What happens now that’s he’s prob. out? Well Halpern is on PAROLE – jail w/o the bars…one tiny f—up and it’s automatic 90 days in County Jail (SC County? hopefully he moved away…) It’s 45 days, Felons call it a “Flash.” It is compared to “Three-to-Five”
In short – as if he hadn’t fucked over the people and music that made up one of my all-time fav. shows and my all-time fav. ballad…he clipped $800 LARGE that a couple about to divorce entrusted him to keep safe while they hammered out the details of who got what.
Did Halpern keep that $800G’s safe? Nope…he spent it.
The Merc was kind enough to say he put $ “into his failing practice…” ask me and what I know? Most of that mtn. of cash went to a casino. And that’s that.

Fuck you Dan Halpern.
Fuck you for getting high b4 Finals.
Fuck you for chumming your big solo that Wayne, Jack and others trusted you to nail.
Fuck you for jamming their wisdom and guidance in their faces with weak-sauce and irresponsibility.
Fuck you for being the reason BDs “Through the yrs” recordings use 89 as the ONE YEAR they play Semis instead of Game Night cuz you are such an embarrassment.
And now…fuck you for jacking 800 boxes of ziti from a couple w/ a divorce in-process.
JUST….FUCK YOU DUDE.

Mr Halpern, you’ve qualified for the official Tapper7.com shit-list and it’s accompanied to-do list: ($1 to Greg Hughes and Jim Norton)
-STEP ONE: Get AIDs
-STEP TWO: Die.

-STEP THREE: There is no step 3, rpt 1 until you get it then move on to step 2.

In fairness to BD; let us not act like the Red Team is w/o it’s regrettable alumni-list.
Semi’s night-ballad is posted below in all fairness to the staff and members who are NOT Daniel Halpern, Attorney-at-Law (ret.) Don’t count his bs alongside the eloquent beauty of arrangements by Wayne Downey and Tom Float, nor against striking performances by the Meehan Bros., and the Left-Coast Drum Corps Family as a whole…we have bad eggs, but our good eggs BURY the four I KNOW turned rotten. So Halpern is on blast….(Tapper muses to himself) Do I out the SCV alum who almost beat his wife to death or the kid-toucher? OR the alleged (*sigh*…also SCV alum) rapist? maybe after the holidays.
“IF WE WERE IN LOVE” FRIDAY, August…1989: enjoy and forget the bs… just crank it.

Forget the judges and the scores, just bring everything you got….

Reasons to NOT CARE about numbers that band directors in green shirts mark on a score sheet. Ever.

http://www.corpsreps.com/scores.cfm?view=scoreshow&showid=1997128

From getting 10 pointed out of the gate to tie ballgame and corpsreps.com still lists The Blue Devils as having “won” this show:

Q’s

You can also view the PBS broadcast (or order it thru dci.org) to see who “Reliable Rondo” picked to win….(Hint – it wasnt BD or Garfield)

Just remember dear reader, the real “score” is the emotion you can put into the audiences heart – from your heart.

Numbers are just that and nothing more….Numbers.  Myron, Dean and Jdub taught me how to forget about the noise and just do my job, do it well and to keep artistic and physical momentum accelerating until the LAST SHOW (Finals) is done and we did that thx to them and many others like them that came before, during and after that year.

Everytime you troop the line…and you know that not only yourself, but 120 brothers and sisters gave it their all? – No one phoned it in. One collective consciousness sending love out to 50,000 fans? That’s a win. No more no less – just EVERYTHING. Take your entire world and just give it away. That is the best feeling in the world.

Much love Xmas tree…I can’t wait…so grateful that both sides are coming through SoCal…and the Xmen too.