The mug, day 4, et al. (Day 345/365)

This morning I went back to the studio and made another mug. I worked smarter, using a thinner slab and more appropriate construction techniques. I also left the etching of the labyrinth until tomorrow, when the thing has dried a bit.

It appears to be a much more within-limits size.

I also met with the double bassists and the marimbist to go over my piece. That was fun. The boys had learned it well, and responded very well to my direction on attacks and phrasing. Ryan Smith, the percussion teacher, was there, and Stephen dropped in soon. Between us all, we hammered it out. I think it’s going to be more than acceptable.

The notation issues Ryan had mentioned to me previously turned out to be very simple. Near the end, I gave the marimba some sixteenth-note arpeggios, the same pattern over and over, and just to make it an interesting challenge, I left out notes here and there. Ryan pointed out to me that it was hard to read (which I thought when I wrote it) and suggested that instead of a sixteenth note followed by a sixteenth rest, why not just make it an eighth note? The marimba can’t sustain it anyway, and it would be a lot easier to count. Duh.

I’m going to print out a complete score and parts for all concerned, with the names of the boys listed as “first performed by.”

They’ve scheduled the world premiere for next Friday’s Prism II concert, which is super cool. This is actually the first time I’ve written a piece that is being performed without my being the one who schedules it.

The rest of the afternoon was spent being busy preparing end-of-program paperwork: evaluations for students, evaluations for faculty, dance cards for the Grand Ball on Sunday night.

And then it was finally time for the faculty’s surprise present for the students. The theme for tonight’s dance is “Versus,” which can be interpreted any way you wish: good vs. evil, paper vs. plastic, and in one genius RA combo, sandwich vs. Mary Kate. Having failed to get our act together for the “Fantasy” theme dance, we decided we could use this one for our Hogwarts staff night.

So at 5:00, we began to gather in the lobby: Professors McGonagall, Trelawney, Snape, Lockhart; Albus Dumbledore, Hagrid, Harry; Rita Skeeter, Moaning Myrtle, Tonks. We made our way, in the rain, over to the dining hall, where the reaction was immediate. These sophisticated, oh-so-cool 17-year-olds reverted to their 10-year-old selves without batting an eye. Cameras appeared from nowhere. We were rock stars. They wanted pictures of us, with us, with their friends. (Gilderoy, of course, ate it up, handing out bookmarks for his new book.)

They giggled with delight when I (Snape, of course) snarled at them and ordered them around. They lined up, lined up!, to be sorted by McGonagall and the Sorting Hat. They declared that their lives were now complete, having experienced the ultimate nerdgasm.

It truly was a lot of fun. We did this last year, when the Palms was under renovation and we were being fed in the Old Gym. From day one we called it the Great Hall (when we weren’t calling it worse), and Bill McCullough suggested that we all dress up as Hogwarts faculty for dinner on the day of the fantasy dance. Justin Keith printed out huge house banners, which we hung from the basketball goals, and we set up the head table on the stage.

Like this year, the kids went nuts. I had one request for a photo of “the murderer and his victim,” so Michael Jenkins (Dumbledore) and I stood together, and suddenly there was this long line of kids waiting to take our picture. It was such a hit that we decided to make it an annual thing.

The fun of the thing is that it’s a surprise. We don’t tell the kids it’s happening, and so it’s great to watch their faces as they come into the dining hall and begin to realize what we’ve done. Cell phones come out, and suddenly the place is full. Makes it very hard to get around in my voluminous cape, and the immediate, heartfelt apologies I get from kids who step on it are a hoot.

The faculty has just as much fun. Those who were new to the game this year responded just like last year’s team: they went as all out as they could in putting together their costumes, actually sewing things.

The most amusing were Dave Francis and Tamara Brooks, two Comm Arts teachers who have neither read the books nor seen the movies, yeah, I know, but otherwise they’re brilliant teachers, so whattaya gonna do?, who were completely taken aback at the response of the kids. Especially since neither of them knew anything at all about Hagrid and Moaning Myrtle respectively. Tamara only discovered she was dead and lived in a toilet on the way out the door.

I’ll post photos when I get them.

20 days to go.

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