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Staff Stories: Hot! Hot! Hot!
Marlan Smith, Visual Staff

Remember all that BS we heard in the 90’s about global warming? And remember how we all thought “Phhhtt! Whatever. Hand me another can of hairspray. I gotta buy an SUV today.” Well, if our weekend in Los Altos and Sacramento was any indication, it’s time to pony up.

Could it have been any freaking hotter? Since when does Las Altos feel like Alabama? (Now, granted, as soon as you leave the stadium and drive 40 minutes north it’s plainly obvious that you are no longer in Alabama.) Still, I wouldn’t have been surprised if a couple of hillbillies drove up at rehearsal on Saturday.

“Mah son has 12 toes. Cun he march wit yoo?”

The highlight of Saturday for me was the fact that I got pulled onto the podium to conduct Matrix. Judging from the empty silence that followed with only the sounds of a couple crickets in the background, I’m guessing that will be the LAST time I conduct Matrix.

It was nice for a change to not have to drive up to Treasure Island for rehearsal. After a brief rehearsal, I was able to offer my home to a few members before the performance. It was there that I proved to Dave (mellophone Dave) that cats can be just as fat as dogs. My wife proceeded to drag into the open our terrified 20 pound orange tabby named Hecubus who promptly scurried away from the shame and humiliation. We need to bring him over to Dave’s house sometime to make him feel better. The rest of the afternoon was filled with beer and episodes of The Family Guy.

That night we broke 70. Wow. 70. If you go by the ancient formula of predicting DCA scores from DCI Div II/III sheets (7*[365/x+y]+pi) you get like 238.5 or something. Which puts us ahead of 5 Brigs and a chimp. Yay us! We win. Maybe I forgot to carry the 2…

I am happy with the show. We are well on our way.

Sunday was a never-ending living reminder to myself why I moved out of the Central Valley so many years ago. I’m driving along I-80 thinking “Wow, these houses are cheap. Maybe I should consider living here…” *sound of car door opening* “Holy Mother of God! I can feel my toenails melting!!!”

I have a new respect for people who live in the Central Valley because I didn’t think any living thing could possibly exist in that heat, and I lived in that for 18 years. I have come to the conclusion that for people to exist in such weather, certain evolutionary changes must take place. Perhaps they exist in small subterranean dwellings, surfacing only briefly at night to sample the various roots and vegetation that survived the day’s punishment. Or perhaps they have developed large flaps of skin that fan out to provide ventilation coupled with quick running across the scorching desert sands to stay cool. Maybe some will develop large stores of water in pouches to prevent dehydration. Whatever happens, at least the housing prices make sense to me now.

The only thing that could have been more fun than 150-degree valley heat would have been a large, football field-shaped frying pan to put 128 people on and make them run around. What you say? You have one? Splendid!

Let me tell ya, nothing makes a marching guy feel more useful than 15 minutes of basics and 30 minutes of rehearsal. Hi. I’m here for the free food and skin cancer, thanks.

As the run through begins, various staff members (ok me and Dave) start placing bets on how many casualties happen on account of the blistering heat. I bet on 1, Dave bets on 4. I think we both lost because the run through seemed to go pretty well. Either that or the people who were thinking of passing out realized that they would receive third-degree burns from the turf should they touch it.

We all grab pit equipment and stagger back to our cars to head off to the potluck. I arrive at my Jetta to realize that the lubrication for my door hinges has melted off in little pools under my car. Had this been an episode of Knight Rider my car would have said something like “Michael, you are a jackass. Now take me to the set of St. Elsewhere” followed by a slow-motion ejector-seat scene.

We stop off at a Safeway to get “potlucky” things like soda and chips; anything that will make us lethargic and dehydrated. Now, I have only two words to say about Safeway: Air Conditioning. From the moment we entered, I don’t remember much, but I know there was a brief land-grab for territory in the produce section. Dave (blue hair) was found 2 weeks later. It appears he had burrowed under a stack of watermelons and was screaming at passersby about “stealing his air.” Animal control had to drag him away, naked and feral. Don’t worry. He was adopted a few days later.

So off we go to Loomis. Loomis. Want to live in a town where the only freeway exit for that town is named AFTER that town? You want to live in Loomis. How do you get to Loomis? Go that way and get off when the sign says “Loomis”

Needless to say, the weather in Loomis isn’t much different from Mordor… I mean Roseville. The picnic is being held in a small patch of moving shade against a fence on the far side of a vacant football field. For some reason I was imagining something out of a Maxfield Parrish painting with maidens in togas eating grapes next to a babbling brook with frolicking fauns. What I wasn’t imagining was 30 people huddled together like refugees in the only 3 square feet of shade for 100 yards.

We managed to find other shade elsewhere and got to watch Fever warm up from five feet away, which was fun. Jesus, the kids look young. Was I ever that young? One day I am going to go to DCI and see the Phantom Regiment Fetus and Bugle Corps. But that’s ok. I’m well prepared for old age. I just need my shotgun and rocking chair.

Now get off my lawn!


Editor's note: Marlan, a Freelancers alum, is a member of our visual staff, a professional video game tester, and Photoshop guru.

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