Things to Do This Summer!

As the school year winds to an end, it’s time to get excited about summer. It’s time for a well-deserved break from academia and stress. We’re in the home stretch! I’m sure everyone has their set summer plans, but I wanted to share some of the things I’m looking forward to (besides internships, etc.). Whether you’ll be in Ann Arbor, back at home, or exploring a new city, maybe you’ll be inspired and add to your own bucket list!

  • nap on the beach
  • read the books that have always been on my to-read list (finally!)
  • picnic with friends
  • have a bonfire
  • learn photography
  • skateboard
  • create art
  • learn how to cook for next year
  • sleep!!

A Love for Bubble Tea

“Coming to college, Noah found himself succumbing to a crippling bubble tea addiction,”

-Noah, a freshman

Typically, I’d consider myself fairly practical when it comes to saving and spending money. The exception? Bubble tea. As teenagers, we’re warned about drug and alcohol addictions, but no one cautions us about the fun, frequently boba-filled drink that allures so many. A few times a month, three or four dollars from my paycheck goes towards filling my belly with sweet tea and bubbles. With places like Bubble Island, Sweeting, and more conveniently within a short walk from the diag, it’s all too easy to stop by and grab a drink after class. According to their website, Bubble Island has been “serving bubble tea to Michigan college students since 2002.” Establishments such as these are well aware of their captive audiences and the rising demand/popularity of bubble tea.

But why is bubble tea so popular? Unlike juice or soft drinks, bubble tea is often customizable and has different textures. It is typically associated with chewy tapioca pearls, which provide a unique break from the typical boring consistency. Popping boba, jellies, and puddings are also popular additions that offer a change-up in consistency. In addition to the interesting textures of bubble tea, there is a great amount of flexibility in choosing flavors, toppings, and more. Essentially, you have a free range of creativity in creating your delicious, desired concoction. Do you want smooth, chewy tapioca pearls, or fun fruity jellies? Milk tea, or fruit tea? It’s interesting to mix and match flavors, and the vast variety is definitely appealing.

In Ann Arbor, the social aspect contributes to bubble tea’s popularity. Buying bubble tea is often a fast and convenient event, but it is also a great way to hang out or relax with friends. Whenever I get bubble tea, whether with friends or by myself, I see groups of people spending time together. People will talk, work on school projects, or play board games while sipping on their drinks. Besides simply enjoying the taste, this social aspect is probably one of the biggest reasons I have come to love bubble tea. Once or twice a month, my friends and I will treat ourselves to the delicious beverage. Going out for bubble tea is a fun outing we enjoy doing as a group, and a great time to sit and chat for awhile. Since coming to U of M, bubble tea outings have been an easy (and delicious) way to catch up with friends and form positive memories. I write this post a few hours after one of these said excursions, and I can’t wait for more!

Enjoying Art on a Budget

As somebody who consumes a lot of art and media, I can tell you first-hand that it’s financially frustrating. I’ll hear about a book that I want to read, or an album that just came out, or a new video game that is stunning, and I always have to come to the same conclusion: I can’t have it all. This is easily attested to by the many lists on my phone of things I would love to get, and also by all the items saved for later in my Amazon shopping cart. Perhaps it’s something unique to me, but I doubt it; I think anybody who enjoys art wants something physical that can serve as a reminder of how great a work of art was. In this way, art is inherently nostalgic, and that’s a quality that I greatly appreciate, being a sentimental person myself. For example, the first video game I ever remember playing was Pokemon Sapphire on my brother’s GameBoy Advance; I absolutely loved it even though I had no idea what was going on (to be honest, I’m pretty sure I was stuck in Mauville the whole time because I didn’t know how to progress).

It was a combination of the style, the game-play, and the interesting Pokemon that kept me entertained, but more importantly, the game came to represent a simple time in my life. Eventually the game was sold, as it became obsolete in the face of iPods and iPhones, and I gradually forgot about it. Then a year or so ago I started to feel nostalgic about the simplicity of the GameBoy; it didn’t need internet, the battery lasted for days, it wasn’t cluttered with apps and social media, and it was a reminder of one of my first great experiences with art. Needless to say, I ended up finding and buying a used GameBoy and started collecting the Pokemon games, which eventually led to buying a used DS Lite for the nostalgia of playing Pokemon Diamond and Platinum. However, the cost was adding up, and I started to realize that I had forgotten the point entirely; I never wanted all of the games, I just wanted the one that was sentimental to me.

I learned a lot from that experience, but most importantly that art can be appreciated and enjoyed in small quantities. When I thoroughly enjoy a work of art, I no longer try to buy everything related to it, instead I focus on the one thing that I loved about it and try to find something that will represent that in a nostalgic way. As a result, I have a little bit from everything: the seventh book of One Punch Man (the style of the fight scenes in this book are especially impressive), the first volume of One Piece, a deck of tarot cards, and a poster from the anime Akira, just to name a few. Each of these things I would love to indulge in, but I’m glad I haven’t; it is essentially quality over quantity, which is perfect for somebody like me who already enjoys so much art to begin with. And as far as cost goes, I can appreciate a work of art without having to waste money; for example, if I wanted to own every manga from Akira, it would run me about $170, when instead I can appreciate it and remember how much I enjoyed it with a $15 poster. Obviously this is just my personal philosophy, and some people might think it’s outrageous to only own one book from a series. I can’t say they’re entirely wrong, and in a perfect world I would want the whole series too, but realistically this is what works for me. So consider this an alternative way of thinking about and appreciating art; perhaps you can find the same value in this philosophy as I do.

(Image Credits: Google Images)

Taylor Swift and The Lumineers

This time of the year always brings new surprises; new albums being released. It just so happens that this time some of my most favorite artists are dropping new things for me(and you!) to listen to. Here’s a rundown and throwback of Taylor Swift’s past albums:

  1. Taylor Swift (2006)
  2. Fearless (2008)
  3. Speak Now (2010)
  4. Red (2012)
  5. 1989 (2014)
  6. Reputation (2017)
  7. Coming soon(?)

Leading to the countdown of her suspected new album, Taylor Swift has recently been posting mysterious pictures with no captions whatsoever on all her social media. The pastel pictures at the side of The Lumineers’s album cover are some of the pictures she has released on her Instagram, and her fans are definitely excited (including me). What a way to rile some excitement, posting pictures with no explanations.  Her latest tweet however, has a date, 4.26. This is definitely something to look forward to.

(some other pictures she has been posting on her social media in the past two weeks)

Besides that, The Lumineers too are set on releasing their 3rd album after their last release. The last album they dropped was in 2016 titled, “Cleopatra”. They have also released new tour dates and merchandise. Surprisingly, most of their tickets and merchandise are sold at a very reasonable rate (I suppose they want all sorts of fans to enjoy their music without too heavy of a price tag).

If you don’t really know much about the Lumineers, here’s some pointers:

  • They are an American folk rock band (this is the closest label they can get to but in all honesty, they are a pretty ambiguous/indie genre)
  • They passed up opportunities to sign with major record labels and decided to go with an independent label, Dualtone Records: As one of the member’s commented, “It’s just nice to work with people that are entirely engaged. You know, not just sitting in front of a computer and playing Angry Birds their cell phones all day,” adding that, “with these smaller labels, people work 12 or 15 hour days to ensure our records are in the stores, and that we’re getting played at radio. We want to work with people that are as hungry as we are. “ (Wikipedia).
  • Launchpad comments on their music saying “Where most bands these days look for that new, original sound to enhance the digital revolution, ‘The Lumineers’ do superbly in taking it back to simplicity.” (Wikipedia)

Also, Yuna is set to release a new album soon as well this summer/fall.

Stay tuned to these artists for their fresh hits!

Bob Ross Paint Night

The man. The myth. The legend. Bob Ross.

About one month ago, the Residential College RAs put on an event that allowed students to take a break from studying to “paint with Bob Ross.” The event was called “The Joy of Painting: a wholesome night of painting” in reference to Ross’s television show. Students followed along with an episode of The Joy of Painting, which entitled following – or at least attempting to follow – Bob Ross in painting a scenery with mountains, trees, and “happy clouds.” Before delving into that process, it’s nice to gain insight on Bob Ross himself.

Though his death was in 1995, Bob Ross is an internet celebrity, continuing to grow in popularity. Before becoming the supportive painter we all know and love, he had an extensive career as a member of the Air Force. After attending an art class, he developed a taste for painting that would eventually evolve into a $15 million business. His company, Bob Ross Inc., marketed painting classes and sold his line of art supplies and how-to books. Additionally, his television show, The Joy of Painting, was successful in having thirty-one seasons. Reruns continue to air, and the show is available on Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. You can also check out clips on Youtube.

Youtube was used at the event to televise one of Ross’s tutorials. A smooth jazz intro played while paint was being poured, preparing us for the magic ahead. The sight of Bob Ross’s iconic hairdo (which was originally a cost-cutting measure) immediately generated excitement. As time went on, however, there were groans of frustration and frequent pausing of the video. Bob Ross made painting seem easy, and the unexpected difficulty resulted in moments of exasperation among students. Yet, Ross’s soft voice and continuous words of encouragement provided a soothing presence. Any frustration felt was mixed with amazement at how quickly and simply Ross turned a blank canvas into something new. Every brushstroke had a purpose and tremendously changed the overall look. Even though recreating his work was more difficult than anticipated, everyone appreciated the event and the fun break it provided.

What was truly amazing was how unique every individual’s painting turned out to be, despite being based off the same tutorial. The finished paintings varied in colors, shapes, and more. Whether or not students considered themselves artists, it was fun to compare works and be proud of the art that was created. My friend group found the event so memorable, we temporarily hung our paintings in the lounge we often hang out in (with support from the RC).

 

Do YOU want to paint like Bob Ross? Click here!