Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Operation Artistic Freedom

"Wake up, you maggot!" someone yelled. "Get your sorry [butt] out of your rack and turn to!!" yelled a familiar voice. "You've got exactly sixty seconds to get dressed, get downstairs and make me a cup of joe, recruit, or I'll make you wish you never were born!!!" yelled Dracrevocsid, the Lady of Lake Taneycomo.

I ran downstairs and made a pot of coffee while trying to figure out what in tarnation was going on. She yelled, "Get your feet on the marks, recruit, before I turn you into the worm you are!" I asked, "What marks?". "What!?" she yelled loudly. "I mean 'Sir, what marks, sir?'" "What, what!!?" she yelled even louder. "Sorry. I mean 'Ma'am, what marks, Ma'am?" She bellowed "What, what, WHAT!!?" making the dinner plates rattle on the shelves. I thought for a second, and asked, "Lady, what marks, Lady?" "That's better!" she yelled, whereupon she whupped out her wand and made two bright red feet-like silhouettes appear magically on the floor. "Those marks!" she yelled, indicating that I should stand on them, "And stand at attention!"

I couldn't help but notice that in addition to her not-much-left-to-the-imagination attire, she was wearing a Drill Sergeant's hat which perched on her head like a bird of prey, leaning forward and ready to pounce at the least provocation. I stood at attention. The only sound was the gurgling of the coffee pot. I was painfully aware that with a flick of her wand, she could turn me into something nasty if she took a mind to. Silently, she got a cup of coffee and sipped it while walking slowly around me. She looked me up and down, squinting as though she were looking at a bacteria through a microscope.

After a time, I said, "Lady, please, Lady..." I said, "All this yelling is going to wake up my wife." She replied, "Fear not, recruit! I have cast a spell upon her so that she will not hear us. Wouldn't do to have civilians interfering with musical-magical-military business!" "Forgive me, your Ladyness," I said, "I should have thought that you'd already taken care of that. But please... tell me what's going on. I haven't seen you since just after the NMA Reunion and I kinda thought you'd disappeared for good."

"What's going on, recruit, is that you are getting soft! Great Sousa's Ghost!! I give you a few day's R & R and you think I've gone for good!? Not on your harmonic device! All that went before was merely Phase One of this operation. Now get me your guitar!" which I did, wondering what this talk of "operations" was all about. I brought her Axecalibur and she yelled "Not that guitar, maggot... the one you've been playing the last few days!" So I went back to get my classical guitar, returned to my marks and held it at, uh... Present Guitar, I guess. "Hmm..." she said, closely examining my guitar, "I see that you've restrung it... and polished it! Good! Remember, recruit, that your life depends on these instruments!" whereupon she handed it back to me.

I remember having had to march, carrying a bass drum, from the Naval Academy Chapel, over to the stadium (a couple of miles, I think) and stand at attention while all the Midshipmen marched onto the field for the opening ceremonies prior to a football game. Standing there, my legs would lock up and get very stiff. When we began marching again, the first few steps were pretty excruciating. Now, in my kitchen, my old bones felt the same way without the "benefit" of the marching.

"Your Ladyness," I said, "what is this 'operation' of which you speak?" "I bring you another gift," she yelled, "'I call it... 'Operation Artistic Freedom'!" She went on to explain that "Operation Artistic Freedom", of which I was now beginning Phase Two, will be a rigorous program of organization and practice, both on the guitar and on the computer. She said I would be required to work up repertoire for a solo guitar recital and to commit the arrangements to paper on my Finale program. She said -- yelled, actually -- that this recital would be 30 to 40 minutes in length, and consist of arrangements of my own choosing (either my own or by others). She also told me that I must be the only person on stage but that I may use computer accompaniment in addition to performing some pieces solo and that I must use both my Yamaha classical guitar and Axecalibur, the Les Paul Supreme. Oh yes, and she said I must report back to her at "0-'leven-hundred hours" -- personally, I think she just threw that in for effect.

She continued yelling, "I expect you to schedule this recital at a venue of your choice for September or October of this year! I suggest you pursue utilizing the chapel at the VA Clinic and Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mt. Vernon, Missouri, as the civilians out there have done much for you, however the choice is up to you! You may consult with other guitarists, if you so desire, as long as none of them perform with you! For instance, I've spoken to Rick Whitehead who, I'm sure you are aware, was guitarist and leader of the Air Force stage band Airmen of Note, and he is willing to give you a lesson if you can travel to the Washington D.C. area!"

"NOW...," she bellowed, making the dishes rattle again and causing the neighborhood dogs to bark, "Do you understand these orders as I have given them to you???!!" Trembling, I indicated that I did. "Good...!!" she thundered, "Now PROMULGATE them!!!"

With that, she disappeared, as did the foot marks, with a loud (and impressive, I must say) "wooshing" sound, leaving me alone in my kitchen to consider my next, uh... evolution.

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