Staff Stories: Fanciful Imaginary Hash Marks Marlan Smith, Visual Staff
I've been asked to reflect on the April camp. Now, I havent written
a term paper since my 4th year of college, so needless to say I was reluctant
at first. I mean, I read the Renegade
Journal and that was like a novel. Im not even sure I have enough
words in me.
The marching staff generally shows up early on Saturdays to help paint the
field and get yelled at by Jim Jackson for occasionally painting the measuring
tape. We painted a nice diamond this time on the 50 which was good because
the point person wasn't there and I was getting tired of stepping off 8
steps from the front sideline every minute. I was also made painfully aware
of the fact that my previous 8 steps from last month were off by half a
step. Im sorry...Ill give my 2 weeks notice next camp.
Speaking of grossly inaccurate step sizes: if you arent in the drumline
you never see the field they learn drill on. It was drawn by me. With no
measuring tape It looks a lot like I got a group of 5 year olds together,
got them drunk and then told them to draw a field with crayons, using only
their left foot.
Its fun learning drill and cleaning it at the same time. I helped
out the hornline on Saturday while the drumline warmed up ten feet
away. Its fun hearing Rachel swear a blue streak at her ear-piece
metronome then throw it to the ground like it was a wasp that flew in her
Fast forward: drums learned their drill. Our newest snare learned the other
22 pages by his preferred Being Fed to the Wolves method. Yay!
Then we cut out 3 pages of it. Yay again. To be honest, the rest is kind
of a blur. I know there was some ensemble and some stuff with the horns.
Somewhere around 6 p.m. I think I was driving home.
On Sunday, I took the measuring tape finally to get more accurate hash marks.
Dave Leon laughed as I realized that not only was my field wrong, it wasnt
even close. Oh well, now the drumline has real hash marks to learn drill
as opposed to Marlans Fanciful Imaginary Hash Marks from Outer Space.
Lee shows up. No more playing on concrete for the drums. Its all-day
ensemble with the horns. At first I was concerned that my beautiful hash
marks would be gone by the time we see them again. Then I remembered that
Ivory soap has roughly a 15 year half-life. No more worries.
I showed my new shirt to an unnamed staff member. The shirt says Shut
up and march. I wanted it to be the new marching staff t-shirt. Said
staff member commented that maybe more of the hornline should wear
To avoid any negative vibes let me just say that aside from the missing
people who couldnt make it, I thought the rehearsal was very productive.
Although I have to wonder about the fact that last season we experienced
the best rehearsals and performances on days where the weather was, lets
say, less than agreeable.
Concord freezing minus 30 degree wind chill rehearsal on Treasure
Island. As a result, the show that evening finally started to gel and come
together early in the season.
Lodi Africa-hot 105 degree oven weather, compliments of the Central
Valley. Members were passing out and being rushed to the hospital. Result:
another milestone performance.
DCA finals Rain rain rain! Most of the field was like swampland.
Final result: most people I talked to said it was the best performance all
I have come to the conclusion that there is a tangible connection between
bad weather and good rehearsal technique. Perhaps the opposite is true with
good weather. Maybe when the weather is cooperative (as it seems to have
been the last few camps) there is a part of our brains that says Ooooh!
Look at me! Im in sunny, comfortable California in wonderful balmy
weather with a refreshingly brisk 60-degree breeze running through my hair!
I think Ill rest in my hemp hammock and drink fruity drinks by the
I hereby propose that from now on, all rehearsals will be held on a field
painted with a snow machine. The staff will each be given a bag of snowballs
to lob at the corps, yelling MARCH, MOTHERF%^&ERS!!!
Still the rehearsal this last camp went much better. Inevitably, as with
every camp this year, where the News warns of hurricane winds and puppies
falling from the sky, we find ourselves marching in the eye of the hurricane
with little more than a drop of rain. Wheres my fruity drink?
During rehearsal we all got treated to a flyby by a National Guard helicopter.
Orange people were waving at us from inside. Turns out the guy flying it
was in Freelancers the same year I marched. I can just hear the conversation
inside the chopper Its a marching band?
No its a Drum Corps! They all play drums?
No, its like a marching band but with no flutes. ...so
its a marching band?
Aside from that, oh, and the soft-core porn shoot going on 100 yards away,
the rest of the day was all cleaning and run-throughs. We actually got a
hell of a lot done. Im sure Jenna Jameson was impressed. Ave Maria
is pretty much a goose-bump factory. The push in Russian is so freakin
amazing that I go home every night and cry in my pillow that Im not
out there playing it also.
This show kicks ass. Period. I dont think people are going to know
what hit them. Once we can knock the fruity drinks from our hands and come
out swinging, I think well see a lot of stunned faces amid the screaming
babies being thrown from the stands.
See you next camp. Ill bring the snow machine.
Editor's note: Marlan, a Freelancers alum, is
a member of our visual staff, a professional video game tester, and Photoshop