Sunday, June 30, 2013

Did we sound this good?

U.S. Fleet Forces Ceremonial Band, 
LT C.S. White, Conductor,
 Navy Musicians Association Reunion, 
June 20, 2013.

It's the white of their whites that first strikes you. That's only natural; they haven't played a tune yet. They're milling about, warming up, tossing tuning notes around. But geez, those whites are white. You think about your time as a Navy musician and wonder: did I look that good? It doesn't seem possible.

After a minute or two, the conductor's commands ring with distant familiarity: "Band, stand by." "Band, attention." The sailors react with a precision that, again, causes you to wonder: was my band this sharp?

Members of the U.S. Fleet Forces Band mill about smartly.
Following a series of hand signals from the conductor, the musicians put horns to lips and wait for the downbeat. They look wonderful, yes, but it's just a ceremonial band--a gun tub, shitty-ditty, bag band. You played a million gigs like this, with ceremonial bands of this very size, on piers and ships, at flagpoles, in parades, drill halls and, yes, hotel ballrooms. They'll probably sound pretty good. They're Navy musicians, after all, so they'll--

The conductor gives the downbeat and the music instantly fills the ballroom. Small in numbers, the band is giant in sound.Their dynamics are so well-planned, so well-executed that a dynamic swell beyond  mezzo-forte has the effect of a fortissimo. Yet even when playing softly, the sound is big, full, robust. Much of the music is familiar. In fact you've played many of these same Sousa marches and arrangements of patriotic favorites. Perhaps it's that familiarity that makes you ask: "Did my band sound this good?"

LT C.S. White conducts"Stars and Stripes Forever."
Sadly--or happily--this is a question that cannot be answered. True, a number of people have used the word "stellar" to describe last night's performance, and I think the adjective does not exaggerate. And the performance was captured in audio and video, which could help assess the band's fine points of art.

But technology records only sight and sound. No microphone can record memory's melodies. No camera preserves the emotional images of concerts in Mediterranean ports, graduations at Great Lakes, of underway replenishment, of rehearsals on the fantail, of late-night dances at the "O" Club and early morning inspections on the drill field. These experiences are preserved in a chamber of the heart that is impervious to microphones and cameras.

Perhaps this could all be said more simply: I don't know if I ever played in a band as good as the Fleet Forces Ceremonial Band, but I know I never played in a band whose rendition of "Anchors Aweigh" caused grown men to cry.

...that I will support and defend the Constitution...

MUCS Scott Davis readies for reenlistment.

The Saturday night dinner/dance of the NMA reunion started with solemnity: a reenlistment ceremony at which CAPT Brian O. Walden, commanding officer of the U.S. Navy Band, administered the oath of enlistment to MUSC Scott Davis of the U.S. Fleet Forces Band.

CAPT Walden administers the oath.

But first, CAPT Waldren addressed the roomful of veterans. "I'll read the oath slowly," he said, "so you can think about it. I ask you all to recommit yourselves to the support and defense of our Constitution."

Nobody objected to this assignment, and the ceremony began.

Lights out.

Taps. Taps. Lights out. All hands return to their racks and maintain silence about the decks.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Winding down

It's eleven p.m.-ish. The concluding event of the NMA reunion, the Saturday night banquet, has ended. We're packing up our gear, and folks with early departures tomorrow are saying their goodbyes. It's over.

Well, not exactly. The lounge is still open and our equipment is still set up. If enough hearty souls show up--and I just saw a few heading in that direction--we'll cap off the reunion with a farewell jam session.

And what a reunion it has been. I'll have much to tell you and to show you, thanks to the magic of unfocused photographs and shaky videos. Yeah, they suck, but you'll get the picture.

Meanwhile, I'm heading towards the lounge myself. I get to sleep in tomorrow, so I can do a little night owling around the hotel tonight. Since I don't leave until Monday, I'll have time to catch up on coverage. My postings always gets sporadic on the last night of reunions, as there's so much going on I hardly dare take a break.

So until I get the chance to reconnect with you, let me just say that the word "stellar" would not be too strong a description of the 2013 NMA reunion. Our functions are always wonderful, and you always hear me praising them, but something was different this year. I've heard people say that exact phrase: "Something was different this year." I have some ideas, but they need pondering and refining.

And I need to go downstairs to the lounge.It's almost over and I don't want to miss a damn thing.

2013 NMA Membership Meeting

Two topics dominated the 2013 general membership meeting of the Navy Musicians Association: what a good time we're having, and how attract more MUs so they can share this experience.

The meeting was marked by a distinct lack of whining, moaning and bitching. Somehow, we're all on our best behavior. Vice-president Kim Holl noted that the hotel management and staff have complimented the NMA on its conduct and professionalism. I guess they were expecting the Ringling Brothers Clown Convention.

President Terry Chesson announced the appointment of LCDR Carl Gerhard as our Active Duty Liaison. If you've ever met Carl, you know that he's the right guy to spread the word to our active-duty shipmates about the benefits of membership in the NMA. And if you've heard him at our jam session, you also know that he's a hell of a trumpet player.  

Our current officers and board of directors were reelected by acclamation to serve further two-year terms.

The meeting was over in 45 minutes. The whole thing was smooth, efficient and focused. It just didn't seem right.

And now, until tonight's closing festivities: Liberty Call!!!!.

Behind Closed Doors

Members, families and guests are now in the ballroom, finishing the traditional NMA Saturday morning breakfast/gabfest. Much of the gabbing concerns last night's concert. I'd like to gab about it too, but time is short. For now, let me just say that it was, so far, the high point of a reunion that has been bursting with high points. I'd say the band has never been better. More on this later.

In a few minutes our families and guests will be excused and we'll hold the annual general membership meeting. The president and members of the Board of Directors will update the members on the year's behind-the-scenes business and report on plans and possibilities. The members will have the opportunity to raise concerns and offer suggestions.

This afternoon I'll report the highlights and any crucial information that can't wait. In fact, we'll have a full afternoon of liberty before the evening banquet, so I won't be rushed.

Speaking of rushing, it's about time for those doors to close.

The Secret of Longevity

George Dietzler says that the key to keeping a sharp mind in your later years is to exercise it. Every morning, you'll see him in the hotel lobby with the morning paper, following the news, weighing editorial opinion and reading advice that someone who enlisted in the late 1940s obviously doesn't need.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Sea Legs

Mike Vax

Mike Vax led the renowned Dukes of Dixieland, played lead trumpet in the Stan Kenton Orchestra and still leads the Stan Kenton Alumni band. He's a busy, world-class performer.

But that's not why he's here. Mike is here because he's an MU. Sure, we'll feature him as a soloist during tonight's concert, but after the applause, he'll sit back down in the trumpet section with his shipmates

NMA Reunion SitRep

The concert band rehearsed this morning; veterans of the U.S. Navy Show Band had a lunchtime get-together. Tonight is our concert and buffet.

And this afternoon is the first liberty we've had since getting underway Wednesday morning. Finally, I have time to sit down and tell you what's going on in more than two sentences.

sheet, p. 3

This is our biggest reunion in recent years. We've almost filled up three sign-in sheets, and more folks are expected for the weekend. We've filled all our rooms. We've filled the concert band seats. And, boy, have we filled the lounge. Night after night, Ashley's has been packed with MUs, playing, reminiscing and. well, lying to each other.

The bands are excellent this year. The concert band includes five french horns, bass clarinet and saxophone, enough Bb clarinets to cover all parts and a set of timpani. Dance bands have played morning and night, with exceptional soloists and better cohesiveness than ever. And the jam sessions--wow. Eventually, I'll have time to post a few short video clips. In the meantime, let me just say this: one night I played walking bass behind Marty Nau, Mike Vax and a few others swinging MUs, and I could hardly keep up.

This is a reunion we'll be talking about for a long time. Sea stories, music and magic. We're doing just fine in Virginia Beach, wishing you were here and already talking about next year.

Bumper Sticker of the Year

By George

Have you ever wondered what playing in a Navy band was like in the 1940s?

Wonder no more; just ask George Dietzler.

Pondering Deep Thoughts

Two of Navy music's concert band greats--Terry Chesson and Leo Leary--consider the fine points of tone, phrasing and nuance of a performance of "Bill Bailey."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

It's Harder Than it Looks

Music Stand Assembly with Shipmate Frank

Picking up the pace

By noon, we were on our third sign-in sheet.

MUs and families just kept pouring in.

And today, the concert band sections were well-filled. In fact, you had to get there early and leave your horn set up to reserve your seat.

Conversational Snippet #22

"I can't play sixteenth-notes--I'm 67 years old."
"You couldn't play sixteenth-notes when you were 19."

We're baaaaack....

Apologies for unannounced silence from Navy Lyres. A technical glitch needed to be solved by our IT guy, and since the IT is me, it took a while. Updates from the NMA reunion will resume.

Wilbur Smith at 0730

I can be optimistic, but not while the sun still hasn't wiped away the night shadows. Wilbur Smith doesn't have this problem.

Frank: "How ya doin', Smitty?"
Wilbur: "Glad to be here and to be part of the magic."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

First NMA Concert Band rehearsal

The first concert band rehearsal of an NMA reunion is nerve-wracking. We haven't played together in a year. All the players haven't arrived yet. We're sight reading unfamiliar music.

 And we don't make excuses. We put our hearts into it, and by the end of the rehearsal, things are going much more smoothly.

And members of the audience seems to enjoy the rehearsal,, too--each in his own way.

Hoist the anchor, ahead all engines.

It's 0900, Day One of the 2013 Navy Musicians Association Reunion in Virginia Beach. The next four days will be busy, so check the P.O.D. frequently for orders, orders modifications and modifications of orders modifications.


It's hard to get anything done around here, when all people want to do is talk...

Getting a head start on the NMA Reunion

 The "Early Birds" were out in force, by day...

and by night.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Shipmate Frank Checks In

What do you do when you arrive at the Navy Musicians Association Reunion? Shipmate Frank is confused, but, fortunately, Deb and Deb are on hand to guide him through the arduous task.

Attention Tex Waldron:

From: NMA Reunion, Virginia Beach.
To: Tex Waldron, Seattle.

Dear Tex,
If your ears aren't already burning, it's only a matter of time.

MU vocabulary refresher course

Sitting poolside with a couple of old MUs:

"Wasn't Chief Smith homeported at CINCLANT?"

"No, he was offered 8, obligated for a couple of years and took his twilight tour in GLAKES."

"Hell, I knew him when he was a slick-armed first class."

It's amazing how quickly the vocabulary comes back.

Make all preparations for getting underway

No, you can't sign in for the NMA reunion yet, anymore than you can spot porpoises in your wake while the ship is still moored at the pier. We're taking on provisions, checking the operation of equipment and otherwise preparing for the cruise.

Deb Holl, the Registration Queen, intends to be set up by afternoon, at which time early-bird members will file in, sign in and inspect the bling.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Your Diligent Board of Directors

Board members who live here in the Tidewater area--Terry Chesson, Bob Leketa, Leon Harris and Kim Holl--are here, of course. But duty seems to have already called others from afar. I spent time this afternoon poolside with Cecil Strange, who drove up from Florida. Later, I spent some time with John Branham who had just arrived from Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The Board of Directors engrossed in deep deliberation.
Then, strolling through the lobby an hour ago, I peeked into the BLU Bar--yes, the Holiday Inn now has two lounges--and ran into David Blakeley and Wilbur Smith from away down South, and Bill Sterck from the western wilds of Colorado.

I guess I'm not the only one who enjoys a little pre-reunion preparatory time.


Read the original story and Lee Hudson's semi-literate response  here.

Hail, Hail the Gear's All Here

Our gear is heavy, bulky and a pain to move. 

I trudged downstairs at 10:00 a.m., thinking to be around when the equipment crew showed up with our gear. I was just in time to miss it all. Kim Holl, Bob Leketa and Leon Harris were all sweated up and wiped out after hauling a reunion's worth of stuff into the storage room. Curse my bad timing!

You keep thinking you've moved it all, and remember one more thing.
Leon Harris tries to tell somebody who cares.

Internet Access: Bravo

It's always a concern for in this new, wired world: does the hotel have wifi? Is it dependable? Is it free? This year at the Holiday Inn, yes, yes, and yes. I've been here since Saturday night and have had close to zero problems getting a dependable signal in my room (once I had to wait a minute or so for the connection to kick in.) Setup was a breeze; the desk clerk gave me a password, I typed it in and, bingo. We've had problems in other hotels, but this year looks smooth.

Begin NMA LiveBlog 2013

Now begins NMA LiveBlog2013, your source of news, views and sea stories from The Navy Musicians Association reunion in Virginia Beach. The reunion starts Wednesday, but the activity will begin today.

The Commodore of Navy Lyres at the Command Center.

It's still quiet about the decks, as the equipment bearers have not yet arrived bearing equipment, so it's still quiet about the decks of the Holiday Inn. But the news stream is flowing.

I just heard from NMA member Mike Vax a veteran two prominent bands, U.S. Navy Show Band and the Stan Kenton band. He's arriving late tomorrow night and hoping a jam session will be in progress. You never know; the reunion doesn't start officially until Wednesday morning, but members who arrive a day ahead of time generally have a hard to keeping their horns in the cases.

Speaking of the Show Band--and there's been a lot of that going on recently-- another UNITAS vet, Mike Beegle will soon get important advisory word from his doctor. Mike had a medical scare a few days ago and is weighing the prospect of fun with his shipmates against the reality of maintaining his health.

Lowering the Bar

It's likely that we'll start jamming in the lounge this evening, so before I sit down at the piano, let me take care of the preparatory business of listing the reasons why I will suck.

-- I'm 64 years old.
-- I don't play the rest of the year.
-- I haven't gigged in so long that I don't remember the tunes.
-- I suffer pain and muscle fatigue in arms and wrists due to tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
-- NEW! I sliced open the third finger of my left hand last week slicing an onion.

I'm hoping to get decent mileage out of that last one. The first three have never fooled anyone.

There. Now I   

The Daily Poop - Monday, 24JUN13 - Final Issue

As you can see, the NMA has definitely not arrived. This, however, will change within hours. The setup crew will soon arrive to begin hauling in stands, fronts, music, computers, pianos, amplifiers, cables, trap sets, bass drums, cymbals, photo displays and the scores of other paraphernalia.

Keep in mind that when I say "setup crew," I'm not talking about hired roadies or a gaggle of seamen from X Division. I'm talking about the members of our Board of Directors who live in the Tidewater area and take on the vital  responsibility of setting up so that when we arrive, the basic dirty work has been done.

This, then, ends the "alone time" I've enjoyed this weekend. This, then, also ends a few weeks of The Daily Poop. Although the action does not officially begin until Wednesday morning, or in the case of undesignated jam sessions, Tuesday night, things will start picking up today.

So, NMA LiveBlog 2013 starts today. I'll post through the day, regularly and irregularly with news and scuttlebutt. Visit NavyLyres through the day, or catch up with it all in the evening.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Daily Poop - Sunday, 23JUN12

As is generally the case, my worries were for nothing. Planes left on time, arrived early, and I got to Virginia Beach last night without a hitch. It was a long day, particularly sitting on a plane across the aisle from two kids who had never flown before. "I'm scaaaared!" "Are we flying yet?" "Grandma, I hafta go to the bathroom!" On the other hand, it wasn't even close to being the worse flight I've ever been on. Think sitting in a C-130, strapped into parachutes with 16 other guys, five tons of gear and some clown that thinks singing "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" would be a morale builder. So, yes, I'm here, ensconced on the third floor of the Holiday Inn.

I toured the decks and walked the perimeter a number of times during the evening. Yes, it's still our good old Holiday Inn, but, as you can see, something is sorely lacking.

One of the reasons I came early is that I'm hoping to improve the Reunion LiveBlog this year (What? Improve the LiveBlog? How can that be, Frank?), which will take some preparation. Technical stuff, for the LiveBlog, for the NMA website, and other documentation.

Surprisingly, the bar was empty last night, but the hotel was packed. The Fraternal Order of Eagles is holding its convention. Their motto is "People helping people," but they do it everywhere except in the lounge. Oh well. at least they've got a motto. Say--should the NMA have a motto? I wonder. Any ideas?

The Daily Poop will end soon, to be replaced by more frequent blather. Don't know when. Soon.

That may mean "today." We'll see. Have a good day  

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Daily Poop - Sat., 22JUN13

(5:30 a.m.) Yeah, I'm awake. Got up at 4:00 a.m. Duh. When I hit the rack last night, all kinds of last-minute things hit me--gotta print out my travel insurance card, repack this, reshuffle that.

And I checked the weather online, of course. Thunderstorm predictions have disappeared from Moline, IL, where I'll catch my plane, and Atlanta, GA, where I'll change flights. Norfolk still has thunderstorms on tap for my evening arrival, but at least, by that time, I'll be on the East Coast.

So wife should be home from her night shift in an hour, I'll through the bags in the car and off we go. Of course, being a gloom & doomer, there's a chance she'll be late, or her relief won't show. These things happen. But contingency plans abound. In my mind I can hear Peter, Paul and Mary singing about a jet plane. Except, oh babe, I don't hate to go.

Bless her heart, wife gave the okay for me to go a day early this year.In my case, "a day early" has a nontraditional meaning.  Although the NMA reunion doesn't officially start until Wednesday, lotsa members arrive on Tuesday, and by nightfall, we've generally got enough players to do some preparatory jamming. So I got in the habit of coming on Mondays. Then I started Live-Blogging the reunions, and started coming on Sundays to get set up. That's been my program for a few years. I get to chill and prepare before the wild times start rolling.

So for me, a day early is Saturday, though it will certainly be late when I get to the hotel.

Speaking of the Live-Blog, to those MUs who have asked: Yes, you'll be able to follow the 2013 NMA reunion right here at NavyLyres. Somewhere between now and Wednesday morning, I'll pull the plug on the once-a-day Daily Poop and switch over Live-Blogging. This means more info, more frequently. Generally, I try to post through the day as events and time allow. I'm glad to know that the folk who can't come still  follow the reunion here. Makes my day.

So: Tomorrow morning, more Poop. Maybe Pre-Reunion Live-Blogging. Who knows?

To those who are coming: I look forward to seeing you in a few days, both old friends from Navy bands here and there, and new friends I've made during my years in the association. To those who have to stay home: damn. Wish you could come, maybe next year, stay in touch. To those who haven't come to a reunion yet: time, like a Navy band, marches on. I regret all those years--five or more--that I put off coming to a reunion. Great friends, old and new, great memories, great music. And it's better than active duty: someone else makes your bed and nobody yells at you about your hair.

Coffee. Shower. Reshuffle socks in luggage. Check tickets. Et cetera. Unless you hear differently, as of c. 7:00 a.m. Central Time:

 I. Am. Out. Of. Here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Daily Poop - Friday, 21JUN13

There's a chance of thunderstorms everywhere I want to go tomorrow, starting in Moline, IL, where I take off for the NMA reunion, Atlanta, GA, where I change flights, and Norfolk, VA, my destination. I find this nerve-wracking, all these 30% chances of flight-canceling weather.

On the other hand, storm warnings on the Weather Channel are like Breaking News on CNN; they gotta have something to scare up your attention. When you think about it, another way to say "30% chance of thunderstorms" would be "thunderstorms are unlikely, so have a nice day."

I talked to NMA President Terry Chesson on the phone. He says that room reservations at the Holiday Inn are going extremely well. Combine this with the fact that every day, new members are listed on the front page of NMA website, and, as I've been hoping, the 2013 NMA reunion is shaping up to be a mega-blast.

Sorry to see that Frank Bartley has had to cancel. Frank is an excellent bass player who knows most of the tunes and can fake the rest; in fact, that's probably why he was offered a last-minute can't-turn-it-down gig that conflicts with the reunion. As always, I'll start off the reunion doing my carpal-tunnel best as a bassist for a few sets, but after that, the members of the Senior Bass Clef Brigade will have to step forward. Rabbit, you coming, I hope?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Daily Poop - Wed, 19JUN13

Normally, the middle of June brings Navy Week, the Blue Angels and Navy Band Great Lakes to my region of western Illinois. It's a wonderful warm-up for the NMA reunion.

Not this year, of course; the sequester has taken care of that. The air show still goes on, though. This year it features "Tora! Tora! Tora!," a simulation of the attack on Pearl Harbor, featuring Japanese bombers, fighter planes and fiery explosions. Sorry, but an air show without the Blue Angels and a Navy band is like [fill in your own analogy here.]

Here's someone who knows
how to pack for a reunion.

Packing for the reunion. Well, preparing, anyway. And, yep, gonna check in one bag and carry the other. I've been smashing everything into one bag for a number of years now. An extra bag will make it easier and--jeez, I could probably fit my ukulele in there!

I think I'll hold my final Pre-NMA Reunion Weigh-in tonight. I know I've dipped down below my 1980 E-5 weight, and the suspense is killing me. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Daily Poop - Tues. 18JUN13

I just heard from Wilbur Smith. He and his wife just returned from a 7-day Alaskan cruise. I don't know how arduous such an endeavor is compared to, say, a visit to Olongapo City on the USS Blue Ridge, but I'm sure Smitty will have sea stories.

I don't understand Facebook. Yeah, I use it, but I really don't know how it works. Things show up, disappear, and you never know where anything is going and who can see it. I just visited the Navy Musicians Association Reunion page, and the entire list of people attending is David Blakely, Deb Holl and me.

Now, I know this isn't true. But, just in case, it looks like maybe we can form a trio. Deb--do you play the bass?

It is imperative that I obsess about Saturday's weather, since that's the day I'm flying out of here. NOAA says, "Mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms."

I'll go with "mostly sunny."

If you haven't made a 100% decision about attending the NMA reunion next week, it's not too late to say what the hell. You can register for the reunion and book your room at the hotel by phone--info is right here.

Or you can put it off for another year. Just remember, next year, you'll be a year older--if you're lucky.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Daily Poop - Mon., 17JUN13

Five days and a wake-up, if I remember my short-timer terminology correctly. I'm flying out of western Illinois on Saturday morning, giving myself a few days of preparatory down time before the reunion begins. It's not time to pack yet, but it's never too soon to start worrying about the weather; a moderate breeze can wreak havoc on flight schedules at cornfield airports.

Note to the wary: When it's barely two weeks until that once-a-year time time when you return to playing music, do not slice 1/4 inch into your finger tip with a 12-inch kitchen knife while chopping  onions, causing blood to fly. Believe me, I've tried it; it ruins your spirits and doesn't do much for the onions.

Coming soon: the final annual pre-NMA Reunion Weigh-in. In previous years, dieting and exercise have returned me to

 -- my CPO weight (as depicted in photos of me in my old khakis), and, last year,  

 -- my E-5 weight (a figure recollected by those who placed bets on the 1980 Hundred-dollar Weight Loss Challenge at the SOM--can a beer-guzzling, exercise-shunning MU2 lose 14 pounds in 14 days? They said it couldn't be done...)

So, the question this year is: when I step on the scales for the official weigh-in, will I have moved my weight back in time to, say E-4? Seaman deuce? Results will be posted later this week. I know that many of you are concerned about this, particularly those who come to the reunion every year and are impressed and gratified by the fact I don't rub my trimness into everybody's face.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Daily Poop - Sun., 16JUN13

I fly to Virginia Beach for the NMA reunion one week from today. Yowza, I've got so much to do.

I spent last night and most of today trying to print ^$!%@ pdf files of #$T&! concert band music. Everything went *#^$@!-ing wrong. I only do this once a year, right before the reunion, so I $&##-ing forget how to do it, and it drives me $(%$-ing crazy.

But it's done.Now I get to tape parts together. All the technical advances in music printing have not eliminated Scotch Tape and paper cuts.

Pedal! I knew I forgot something. I'm making a packing list for the reunion, and I always bring a teeny-weeny piano pedal. Oh, it's such a bummer when there's no pedal and somebody wants to play a ballad.


More names going up on the NMA website's list of new members. Hope these newbies will come to Virginia Beach.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Daily Poop - 15JUN13

I get the feeling this year's NMA reunion is gonna be a big one.

Virginia Beach reunions are generally well-attended. A lot of MUs live within a day's drive. The hotel knows us, we know them, so things go smoothly. In a sense, it's our home port.

For the last few months, lots of new members have been joining and former members rejoining--click here to see their names. Some are my old shipmates George Thompson and Charlie Sweet. Some I haven't met yet. I hope to see them all in a few weeks.

Yeah, it all adds up to a big reunion.

I fly to Virginia Beach--holy metal detector, Batman--a week from today. The last year dragged by--have you ever lived in rural Illinois?--and I thought the reunion would never come. Now I'm a week from leaving and I'm a month behind in all I have to get done before I go.

I may actually check in a bag when I fly. I generally stick to carry-on luggage, which means I'm strapped up with cameras attached to my waist, computers over my shoulder and toothpaste in my jacket pocket. Going through security, I always expect to be asked to step over to the terrorist line. The Wife of the Year is giving me the go-ahead to spend a few extra dollars.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Daily Poop - Fri., 14JUN13

Two weeks from now, the NMA reunion will be in full swing. I'll get to Virginia Beach the weekend before the reunion, so for me, there's really only about a week left. The excitement is beginning to kick in.

John Pastin in a state of first-
reunion befuddlement, 2009. 
I just heard from John Pastin. He's juggling his schedule so he can make it to Virginia Beach for part of the reunion. It's a reminder that you don't have to come to the entire shebang. People with weekend commitments sometimes can come for the first few days and hustle back home on Thursday night or Friday. The converse is even more common--folks with weekday commitments ("gigs," or in civilian language, "jobs")  still come for the weekend activities. The sign-in sheet in the registration room gets longer every day.
John Vasquez and grandson, 2012.

I also got a message form Johnny Vasquez, who must home in Florida this year. It seems like every year, he gets promoted higher in the ranks of the American Legion--he's a regional commander--and his duties grow. I'll miss his sense of humor this year.