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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Thursday, March 13

Band Concert

Last night we went to Glendale for our grandson’s band concert. He’s thirteen, just finishing the eighth grade, and has been playing the trumpet for four years. He’s taking after his grandmother’s family, who were practically all great players of the trumpet. Four years ago we’d given him my old cornet, the horn that I’d started playing almost seventy years ago. A local music store gave it new life, restoring its luster, unsticking the stuck valves, making it more playable than it was when I played it not very well those many years ago. He gave it two years before deciding he wanted a trumpet instead of the noticeably shorter cornet. Ah, the vagaries of youth. He’s tall, handsome, and extremely bright. This is not a grandfather saying what all grandparents say about their grandchildren. This kid really is all those accolades above. He’s representative of most young people today—taller, better looking, and smarter than my generation. They’re products of better nutrition and the information age. I can’t remember what I was like at his age, but I’m certain I wasn’t as well informed as he is. Back to the concert. It was held in the middle school gym with folding chairs along the sidewalls and bleachers at the back. We were unfortunate enough that we had to sit in the bleachers. Oh, my. Narrow bleacher seats made of the hardest wood I’ve ever experienced, and it wasn’t long before my butt began to complain. William, the tall, good-looking, bright grandson, had mentioned before we got there that the concert would probably last about two hours. As I sat on those steel-hard bleacher seats, I kept glancing at my watch to see how much time had passed. Not nearly enough. William was performing in a jazz ensemble on the stage, with what looked like hundreds of other musicians seated on the floor of the gym. The jazz group performed adequately but not greatly, with William and a sax player doing brief standup solos. The jazz wasn’t very jazzy with too much depending on too few notes repeated too many times. But they are young, and better jazz talent would come later in their lives. They were followed by a percussion/Stomp group with about a dozen drummers banging away on assorted plastic containers. I was impressed. I checked my watch: twenty minutes had passed oh so slowly. The concert action then moved to the gym floor, where what looked like hundreds of little people, sixth through eighth, were seated, waiting for their turn to perform. The reason for so many kids was the addition of two middle school bands from other nearby middle schools, invited for this concert. There were some twenty squeaky violins, about fifteen trumpets, eleven flutes in the front row, a scattering of other instruments, and only one trombone that I could spot. Is the trombone on the list of endangered species? Is the cornet an ignominious leftover from the past? Is the flute this generation’s instrument of choice? I noticed the faint aroma of sweaty children that I remembered from my years of teaching. Not necessarily unpleasant, just odorifically memorable. I checked my watch again. Yikes! Only forty minutes gone. I wanted to stand up, stretch my back, rub my butt, climb down from that fourth row bleacher seat, but I was hemmed in by too many other bleacherites and had to just sit there and take it. By this time, I could no longer feel my lower extremities and even if I’d been able to stand, I’d probably have pitched forward onto someone’s back or head. How embarrassing would that have been? I heaved a sigh and concentrated on the little people before me. They were all quite well-behaved, and some of them couldn’t be called little people. Many of the girls were tall and beautiful, and they had boobs. What are seventh and eighth grade girls doing with boobs? What must middle school boys think of those girls with boobs? Probably the same thing I once thought, what boys since the beginning of time have thought. The bands each played one selection separately, then one that included all of them. They played surprisingly well. When the combined groups finished their number, the director, a very young but very capable fellow who looked like he should have been playing IN the band instead of directing it, turned to us and bowed, then handed the mike over to the middle school principal, who thanked us all for coming to the concert, for supporting our sons and daughters, our grandsons and granddaughters. I looked at my watch as he waved his goodbye to us: just under an hour. And we were free after just an hour and not the dreaded two hours William had prophesied. I love music, I love William, but I think this may be my last band concert.
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