The Rise of the Band Geeks, Episode 26: Why Are We Still Here? Just to Suffer?

Plink.  Plink.  Plink.   Behind the wall in Hal’s dorm room, water dripped.  No matter how many times he tried to block it out–plugging his ears, playing white noise from his phone, summoning Cthulu, crying into his textbook–it persisted.


Why am I studying anymore?  This is literally the final day of finals week.  There’s literally no reason to be on campus.  Hcould have left last week were it not for these dang tests.  It didn’t matter anyway; his GPA was going to be a flaming dumpster fire no matter how well he did on today’s exam.


“Why are we still here?” he croaked, flipping the page of his book with tater tot-crusted fingers, “just to suffer?  I can still feel the heat of the sun…taste the freedom of the wind upon my face…and yet, here I am, alone.  Alone but for the silence of self-reflection and tater tots.  After being up for 69 straight hours, I have finally snapped.  This, all of this, is just manufactured to induce torment as punishment for mentioning my love of math on my application.  Well, that love of math is no more.  The only thing I know I can cling to is the presence of pain, the absoluteness of agony, tater tots–that’s three things, but I can’t count very high.  Anyway, all I see when I glimpse into the future is pure torture designed to throw a wrench in my plans to ever feel an inkling of happiness for as long as I shall live.


“I’ve done problem after problem in this book, this dang book, and none of it has yet to make any sense.  I might as well try to learn how to dance the Macarena for all the good this is doing me–this isn’t even that relevant to my major.  I am only here by the sheer will of the university and the professor who schemes and plots and plots and schemes to bring about my downfall.  Not even tater tots will tie me to this place, not when the bustling of freed students fleeing their cramped doors has kept me up all day after nights spent attempting to study for this blasted test, a test that will amount to nothing in the end.  The only thing I gain from this is being one step closer to my next plate of tater tots, and then–even then–it amounts to nothing.”


Hal picked up his textbook and held it aloft, stroking its problem-ridden pages with a hatred that could dim a thousand suns.  “Tonight,” he hissed, “you are going to Oh*o where you belong.”


We have survived finals week!  Probably.  Maybe.  Well…it’s been fun, everyone!  Not sure if this is my ultimate or penultimate post of the week, but either way, The Rise of the Band Geeks will be back!


The payload spun and spun within the planet’s stormy atmosphere, buffeted by high winds and fickle vortices. Visibility conditions were nil as it tumbled through the clouds, its camera feed only offering grainy flickers of orange-red and the overexposed glare of lighting, falling, falling, falling– until it plunged through a particularly dense layer and into a patch of calm.

Two purplish objects floated into view, shapes reminiscent of Earth-native Cnidarian medusae: radially symmetrical, a translucent, bell-like structure, and trailing, wispy lines starting from the bottom of the bell. The currents gently tugged at them, and like kites in a storm, they vanished just as quickly into the reddish haze.

The Rise of the Band Geeks, Episode 25: They’re Called Rehearsals, Not Camps

“They’re called rehearsals, Hal!  Not camps!”  A snare drummer, Billy Bob, twirled his drumstick with his ring finger before flinging it in the air and catching it with his pinky.


Hal grinned mischievously and waggled his reversible stuffed octopus.  “I know.”


It was an inside joke:  the drumline summer rehearsals were not camps because camps were optional, but rehearsals weren’t.  Of course, the drumline members screamed this phrase in a jocular manner whenever said rehearsals were mentioned, or when someone either accidentally or deliberately misspoke.


“Where’d you get that?”  Franklin F. Franklin jabbed his finger toward Hal’s octopus.


“Bruh, I just came her to have a good time and I honestly feel so attacked right now.”  Hal cradled his octopus, surreptitiously flipped it so it showed its amgery face instead of its happi face.


Billy Bob flung his stick into the air again.  He caught it with his thumbnail and flicked the digit around so that his stick mimicked a figure 8 motion.  “Pretty sure he’s had it since last fall.  You know, when everyone got a stuffed octopus…”


“Oh.  Alright.  Carry on.”  Franklin sidled away, blowing air through his mouth in a horrid attempt to whistle.


“Why are we even here?” Hal questioned.  He stroked his poor amgery octopus and wondered why he hadn’t named the plushie Franklin.  “We don’t even have practice.”


“I don’t…actually know.”  Billy Bob frowned.  “In fact, I don’t even know how I got here.  Or what I’m doing.”  As he spoke, he balanced the drumstick on his hangnail.  “You?”


“I live in the supply closet.”  Hal shrugged.




“Oh, nothing.”


Now, Billy Bob had the stick perched on the bridge of his nose.  Despite what gravity and common sense might have you think, the stick did not fall.  “I…can’t say I know when my finals are either.  Or what classes I’m taking this semester.  Or next semester.”


Hal knitted his eyebrows together.  He, too, had had the same experience; he felt like his high school career was a blip in his mind, and everything before that was darkness.  “Say, do you ever go anywhere other than your dorm and the band hall?”


“Not…really?”  Somehow, his drumstick was now vertical as it pressed a divot into Billy Bob’s nose.  “I don’t know what the world beyond this band hall is.  I think…”  He trailed off, and the drumstick fell at long last to the ground.


“Hal, I think we’re fictional characters.”



The Rise of the Band Geeks, Episode 19: Faded Halftime

Metal drips

Onto the planes of the floor that lists

And slips into a field across which grit

Spills in rubber bits over spits of grass

Within the lip of a concave beast.



Pushing forth heat and the beats of notes that scream into an impenetrable mass of

Teeming beings melted into a gelatinous sheen

Their wordless voices are shrieks that form a backdrop against the reel of notes.


What is it except burning muscles and the battery’s echoic surge

What is it except the metronome of our feet and the sheet music

Imprinted upon our brains

Like oily tattoos that ooze into the grooves of the mind

What is it except our numb fingers that fuse to the metal in the bitter wind

And snow

Drifting in eddies

As the final strands of warmth fade into mist.

The Rise of the Band Geeks, Episode 18: Whoever Stole My Tater Tots is Going to be Very Annoyed After I Steal Them Back

Hal gaped at his cymbal bag, trying to process the horror he was beholding.  The bag was lying on the salt-strewn bag of the drum room, its gaping maw ferociously ripped open and its contents spilling from its interior.  His sheet music, sweat-stiffened cymbal sleeves, marching band baseball cap, math homework from last semester, a bag of goldfish that had been there since September, and his cymbals were scattered around the bag in a grisly minefield that resembled the dining hall tables after the dinner rush.


It was not the fact that his bag had been rummaged through and his stuff cast aside.  It was not the fact that he’d finally found that one homework assignment that had almost destroyed his grade in that one class.  No, it was a far worse truth that stilled him and made him simmer with rage:  someone had stolen his tater tots.


He’d brought some with him today to save for after practice (yes, he was actually practicing in the off-season) and stowed it in what he’d believed to be a safe place:  his cymbal bag.  He’d only left it unattended for two minutes to use the bathroom, and when he’d returned, he’d stumbled upon this.


He bared his teeth as his hands curled into feral fists.  All day, he’d been looking forward to his tater tots, and now he’d been robbed of the one thing that brought him joy.


He stormed out of the drum room in a seething mass of projectile spit and vivid expletives, his face redder than a strawberry.  The main practice hall was vacant, but that did not stop him from ravaging the racks of chairs and music stands in desperation to catch the fiend who had betrayed him.


Out in the hall, a pair of unfamiliar band kids sat giggling as they scrolled through their phones.  Neither of them possessed the plastic contained where his tater tots had been stored.  An interrogation of a poor bloke who just came her to find his lost water bottle yielded similar results.  He wasn’t stupid enough to go to the Fearless Leader, since even he knew the Fearless Leader had more important things to worry about, but perhaps a staff member had seen something.


“I’m sorry, Hal, but I haven’t seen anyone go into the drum room,” sighed a forlorn staff member.  “I’ll let you know if I see anything.”


“It’s fine,” he growled, swallowing his fury.  She was innocent, he reminded himself.  She wasn’t sus.


Another round of fruitless interrogations finally prompted him to give up.  He collapsed beside his poor, lonely cymbals and let out a baleful sob, curling in on himself as he mourned the loss of his dear most requested tater tots.  What a cruel world this was.  Someone had pilfered his precious, and he would never again behold the seven golden nuggets of shredded potato for as long as he lived.


Something brushed against his shoulder.  He opened his eyes and found himself peering into the jaws of his ragged cymbal bag.  Wistfully, he stuck his arm in and rummaged around in the vain hope he’d find his tater tots.


His hand brushed against something flimsy and plastic.  He paused, an electric shudder running through him as it slowly dawned on him what he was touching.  Shaking, he extracted the container and held it to the light, sobbing not from grief but from exultation as he counted seven glorious bundles of fried yumminess under the fluorescents.


He whooped in spite of himself and leapt to his feet, then executed a perfect jump-fist pump combination the likes of which the drum room had never seen.  His most requested tater tots had not been stolen; they were in his grasp, uneaten and innocent, beckoning him to open the lid and devour every last crumb.  He grinned, then yanked off the lid and seized the top tater tot, a greasy pseudo-cylinder that had long since cooled to room temperature.


The flavor was exquisite:  salty, savory, potato-y, it permeated throughout his tongue and illuminated his soul.  The colors in the drum room brightened, and the crud on the ground shined in a way that was eerily breathtaking.  The stale bag of goldfish did not seem so unappetizing.




With a jolt, Hal whirled around.  One of the upperclassmen darkened the doorway, her hands on her hips and her ponytail dissolved into frizzy strands.  Hal hastily snapped the lid back on his container and met the livid girl’s gaze.


“Are you the one who stole my pączki?”

The Rise of the Band Geeks, Episode 17: Ten Things to Do During the Off-Season

As a band geek desperate for fall to arrive again, I have compiled a 1000000000% foolproof way to ensure your winter semester will not be so depressing now that there is no marching band.  Just follow these easy steps, and you will be cured of your malaise!

Ten Things to Do During the Off-Season

  1. Go to Class.  There’s not really much else to do, and tuition isn’t exactly cheap, so this is definitely a good place to start.
  2. Build a Trebuchet.  Are you good at engineering?  Do you have an esoteric interest in medieval siege weapons that can yeet heavy objects such as cheese and cows up to 300 feet away?  Well, have I got an activity for you!  Using nothing but sticks and compostable utensils from the dining hall, you can bide your time by building a trebuchet that will collapse if there’s so much as a soft breeze!
  3. Go Ice Skating.  Ice required.
  4. Practice Your Instrument.  What?  Practicing?  In the off-season?  It’s more common than you think.
  5. Play With Your Stuffed Octopus.  Even evil plush octopi need friends to cuddle!  Become a companion to your stuffed octopus overlord today, and you will be spared when The Army takes control of campus!
  6. Develop Your Social Life.  You’re a band geek.  You don’t have a social life outside of band.  Proceed to 7.
  7. Learn How to Play the Kahoot Theme.  If you’re in a dorm and want to use a music practice room, play the Kahoot theme on the side while you’re having an intellectual conversation with your family.  That way, you’re not abusing the practice room!  Sheet music not included.
  8. Cry.  You want to be in marching band forever.  You don’t want to adult.  The real world is scary.  The real world doesn’t have marching band.
  9. Repeat Step 8.
  10. Listen to Traditionals on Repeat Until Band Camp.  The Victors, Let’s Go Blue, skip over Varsity, T Dubs…ah, yes, now loop T Dubs ad infinitum!  Problem solved!  (You might also want to practice traditionals so you can make pregame next season.)

Author’s Note:  If you do not complete all these activities while wearing the Holy Band Beanie, a diag squirrel will chase you down and steal your tater tots.