4AM in Italy

After waking up at 4AM in Italy (10PM Michigan time), then spending the next 15 or so hours driving, walking, waiting flying and so on, I just want to come home and…

  • Put a load of laundry in the wash
  • Go to the grocery store while on a conference call
  • Put away groceries and move clothes to the dryer
  • Pick up Liam from rehearsal
  • Fold clothes while also teaching Liam how to capture and mix music for something he needs done by tomorrow morning
  • Pick up Ann from practice

Then we’re off to Ann Arbor for dinner which was at, of all places, an Italian restaurant. To be honest I picked the venue as it is a customary place for us to go for birthday dinners. However when we walked in and I saw a sign saying “your passport to Italy” I suddenly found it really funny that we were going to an Italian restaurant when I had just spent a week in Italy and eating at, well, Italian restaurants.

23 hours after my wake up alarm we’re all home, but instead of getting ready for bed, the kids have taken over my office working on their soundtracks.

You see, every year the High School my kids attend have a spirit week. The classes, (freshman, sophomore, etc.), compete against each other in various things such as decorating a hallway, creating a poster, and a lip-sync battle. There is also a theme which changes each year such as decades, animation, or in the case of this year, board games. (Ann’s class has Life and Battleship while Liam’s class has Monopoly and Mousetrap.)

The lip-sync battle is a 5 – 8 minute production where the entire class acts out a story related to the theme of the year. They create sets, write a script, build props and costumes, choreograph dance numbers and of course put together the soundtrack that ties everything together. This soundtrack not only includes music, but sound effects, dialog clips from movies, and any other audio needed as they are not allowed to say or sing anything—they have to lip-sync! So the soundtrack is basically a bunch of audio samples modified and stitched together to hopefully create something that flows as a cohesive whole.

This year both kids have taken on the task of creating the soundtrack for their class. Ann had done this before, so did not need any instruction. She was layering tracks, cross fading, and chopping up songs without making it sound like things had been cut like a seasoned vet. I gave Liam a very quick crash course on what I used then left him to explore letting him know that I was available if he had any questions. Ann brought her laptop in with him and they set up camp together working on their projects.

For the next couple hours there was a cornucopia of sounds pouring out of my office. Not only were the kids layering sounds, but their individual efforts were combining in weird combinations. Michael Jackson singing Smooth Operator was punctuated by cannon fire and crashing waves. The Pink Panther theme song was overwhelmed by a generic military march while Buzz Lightyear could be heard to say, “follow me!” And then there were periods of relative calm where Ann could be heard giving Liam pointers or asking his opinion on something she was doing. Then it was back to Mr. Postman clashing with Over There, screeching eagle sounds soothed by a catchy George Michael song, and a number of other odd combinations. Ann has since moved her mobile studio downstairs. Liam is still using my desktop, however, with the subwoofer that sits next to my bedroom wall…

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