Saturday, February 13, 2010

It's Taco Time in San Antonio, and Checklist Time Here

SAN ANTONIO--Another TMEA convention is in the books. And when it's done, I usually go back and look over my annual "checklist" to see how this year compared to past conventions. Said checklist is now conveniently posted in several previous years of this blog, so let's just use last year's as a template and see how it stacks up:
  • Spend quite a bit of time in the exhibit hall? Check. It's pretty much mandatory to do this; some newbies even refer to the exhibits as "the convention," as in, "Have you been to the convention yet today?" even when outside another convention event.

  • Spend way too much money at the Tap Music (rare CD store) booth? Once again, no; they haven't been here for two years now. (Which is just as well, as my CD budget would have been zero dollars this year.)

  • Eat way too many big meals on the Riverwalk? Check. But this year I paced myself, so that even the traditional giant chimichanga at The Original Mexican Restaurant didn't do me in, for once.

  • See some people I hadn't seen in several years at the UNT reunion? Check. This is statistically bound to happen nearly every year. (And man, was this year's reunion crowded!)

  • Make jokes about how, when, I was in college, the free food at said reunion would serve as Friday night's dinner? Check.

  • Watch someone propose to his girlfriend during the serenade at the Sinfonia sing? Nope--not for the past two years now, though we thought there was a "ring sighting" at first.

  • Get to the convention center in time to see the high-school all-state jazz ensemble on Saturday morning, making it with just minutes to spare? This year, with a student in the band, I was ├╝ber-early, to the point that I almost caught part of the previous concert. (And the Texas Ballroom at the Grand Hyatt was a perfectly serviceable concert venue.)

  • Fight the crowds at the Rivercenter food court at lunchtime? Almost, but the crowds were still formidable at nearly 2:00, so we hoofed it down the street to Fuddruckers this time.

  • Get a table there (the food court) by spying someone about to leave one and pouncing on it 2.5 seconds after they'd gotten up? Nope; see above.

  • See the Andean Fusion band playing some sort of a classic-rock cover song on ancient wooden flutes just outside that food court? Check; but not until this afternoon; the cold rain of the first few days limited outdoor activities, and I wasn't at the Rivercenter as much this time.
And a few things returned to the tradition: DIning on the river at Casa Rio (where the "pigeon show"--flocks of the birds descend on a table and devour the uneaten chips as people vacate it--has become quite a spectacle, not to mention a common photo-op); visiting the big Starbucks on the Riverwalk, which is no longer a Hear Music store since that partnership was dissolved; and doubling the Starbuckage at the RIvercenter store--a nice chill break between the TJEA meeting and the UNT reunion.

As for traditions that have been put on hold this year: I didn't spend a dime at the exhibits (though I did a lot of looking and advised students on some purchases), and I wasn't around for the end of any business day in the hall, where the same announcer guy says "It's taco time in San Antonio!" and they literally start rolling up the carpets on people when it closes for the year on Saturday. I also didn't get to see any high school all-state "regular" band concerts (mostly because they conflicted with my own students' concerts), and nobody got to see anything in the stately Lila Cockrell Theatre this year, as that venue is under renovation. I sure hope it retains its aesthetic beauty and acoustical brilliance when they're done.

Needless to say, there was a lot of walking that took place in the past four days, and i guess it's good that, despite my "bad" knee, both of my legs ached equally throughout the week. It will actually be nice to get in the car and drive tomorrow and save the walking for later.

TMEA is, as always, a great musical experience and a great hang. It's easily the highlight of this time of year. If I have any other thoughts on the week, I'll save them until I return home tomorrow.

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