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Tattoo II: Return to the Tattoo

{That is, by far, the worst title I've ever come up with for a blog entry.}

I keep running into people who have either never been to the Tattoo or went once, when they were kids, and never intend to go again. I've sort of chalked this up to the same reason I can't be arsed to go back to the Waterpark at West Edmonton Mall. Of course it's there, it will always be there, and it will never, ever leave.

But I love the Tattoo. It's more fun that anything else I can imagine involving so much bagpipe music. I may love the pipes, but by about mid-August I could happily strange every busker on Princes Street, and that's not even going into the recorded stuff played in shops. But the Tattoo does pipes, like everything else, larger than life. If you ever get the chance, go.

{On the other hand, I regularly talk to people online that take "I'm going to the Tattoo! I loved it last year, I can't wait to go this year!" and think I'm talking about something to do with body art. *sigh* It's not.}

Plumed It's hard to describe the tattoo though. It's military bands doing performances for the public, which can sound kinda dry. Unless, of course, you know those military bands include the Top Secret drum corps from Switzerland, and they wear hats with white plumes. (Link is in Swiss, I assume.) I won't speculate on what's so Top Secret about a military band with drums - do they sneak up on the enemy by playing loud and entertaining beats in the dark? Their drums are all black, as are their outfits, but the sticks are white. (But, plumed hats!) Everything with them has this interesting combination of over-the-top performance and obvious skill. The plumed hats, as you can tell, did it for me, and now I want to move to Switzerland and find myself a nice young man with obviously good hand-eye coordination. (They would toss sticks between themselves to trade beats!)

This year's 'special' presentation was the Scottish Military, and the talk they gave read like a bad wikipedia article. Won't comment on it anymore than that, since if you're going to the Tattoo to learn your military history, you've got bigger problems than I can address here. It's nifty, though - they use the Castle as a projection screen for that part, while the bands play a counter-point (on the pipes, of course) and the announcer talks. Last year was about Admiral Lord Nelson, and involved a dramatic re-enactment by Highland Dancers.

(It wasn't a very good one, though - I have a hard time believing that the battle looked so neat and checkered.)

One of the best things this year was the band from New Zealand. Further proof I need to move there. {In saying that, do I have to give up my trip to Aus? I have no idea what the relationship between the two countries are...} They did Interpretive Dance during their performance. At one point they played the theme to James Bond while two trumpet players mimed out an opening gun sequence, and when they played the theme to Swan Lake the tuba players put down their instrucments to do "dying swans". At least, I think they were dying swans.... I hope they were dying swans. {Link is to a blurry photo.}

Powerpuff Girls! They also had a group in from China that made my heart hurt... One of the kids looked like one of my students from Jiangyan that I miss. *sigh* The demonstration of Kung-fu was great (in a performance sense - I could hear Kris rolling his eyes and making sardonic comments), and hard to photograph. Strangely, children jumping in the air with swords *move*.

I didn't love all of it - I though the gospel choir from Africa didn't lend itself well to a stadium-sized space, and I missed the little guys on bikes from last year - but I loved most of it. I wish I could go again, and I intend to at some point in the future, but like everything else I do this summer, it'll be the last time for some time, and that leaves everything a bit bitter-sweet.

The Tatto ends every year with all of the bands coming together to play while the performers dance, and although the combined music works *really* well... let's just say that "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" is not a song I needed to hear played by bagpipes! The rest worked well, as did the entire audience once again singing Auld Lang Syne.

If you're planning on going to Edinburgh, get tickets. They go quickly. I haven't sat near the front, but the 'cheap' tickets at the back are still a great view, and you won't regret it. Bring a blanket, though - it gets cool in August.


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One of your faithful readers here, enjoying your adventures from my cubicle in PA.

Glad you like this art form! The North American style, called Drum & Bugle Corps, has been a favorite of mine for years. There is a corps near your former home, www.allegianceelite.org . Some summers, European and Asian groups tour over here, and last year, the Blue Devils toured Europe!

The "bands" aren't all the same, but it's all about percussion, brass, flags and dance! :)
Check out www.dci.org some time!

The NZ - Aus relationship is very much like brothers. They love beating us in rugby, we love beating them in cricket. We both love beating the poms in anything.

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