Drums and Kings: Turning Forty

Gandalf by Ted Nasmith I have always been a book nerd.

A great example of what I mean is my first reaction to J.R.R Tolkien’s masterpiece The Lord of the Rings. I read the book that first time when I was around nine and while I loved it, my favorite moment was probably not the same as for other readers.

There is this wonderful chapter in the first book The Fellowship of the Rings called “The Bridge of Khazad-dum.” For those that don’t know or remember, this is the lowest point for the fellowship as they run to escape the dark of Moria, pursued by unspeakable evils. Yes, I worried about the heroes but really what made me sit up straight and take note was what Tolkien did in his writing and I had never seen anything like it before.

The orcs and goblins chasing our team were using drums but their drums were more than drums. They were speaking.

Doom, boom, doom, went the drums in the deep.

They are relentless, and obviously doing more than simply beating. They are screaming a warning, building to a crescendo over the course of the chapter until finally at the end Gandalf is lost and the drums then fade into the distance, leaving the fellowship and the readers all breathless.

But for me, I wasn’t breathless because of the action and the loss.

No…

I wanted to know how Tolkien did that.

Continue reading

Falling Out of Step: A High School Marching Band Farewell

Last night I had a dream that my yard and driveway were taken over by a marching band. I can’t explain how it happened and why they chose my little house to park in front of and warm up their instruments by but there they were and they were everywhere; the sounds of the horns and percussion seemed to engulf every room.

I went to my front porch, now fully aware that I was in a dream, and watched transfixed as these high schoolers acted as if it was perfectly natural for the drum line to practice by my tree, the saxophones to tune each other on my sidewalk, the flutes to gossip while sitting on the edge of my porch, their feet dangling and kicking over the precipice. Even the color guard was there, stretching and practicing their throws and catches on the street in block formation.

In the dream I walked through the crowd of kids, feeling very much the adult, and found a surprised parent, I’m not certain why she was surprised, she just was. I asked what school is this? Why are they here? She didn’t answer my question, only asking a little hesitantly if it was okay.

I smiled and said it was great. And then I woke up. Continue reading