The Rise of the Band Geeks, Episode 20: The March March

With winter acting like spring for some reason, it’s only natural for our local band geeks to gain enough motivation to start practicing outside.  However, the dangers of the real world do not end where March begins.  Several band geeks have compiled a comprehensive guide to avoiding the threats to musical instruments in the form of a Q & A session:

Q:  I’m from a part of the country where pollen falls in droves for some ungodly reason.  Will pollen damage my instrument?

A:  I’m not really sure about that in terms of practicing, but if you’re allergic to said pollen, definitely don’t practice outside in early spring.  Or mid-spring.  Or summer.  Because summer gets hot, and then you’re sweating and sunburned and don’t even want to do the C major scale to warm up.  Of course, if you leave your instrument outside overnight, then yes, that’s bad.


Q:  What happens if a diag squirrel approaches me while I’m practicing?

A:  If you’re on the diag, it’s fine.  The squirrels are in their natural habitat.  If you’re on Elbel Field or inside Pierpont when you encounter said squirrel, run.  It’s possessed.


Q:  What happened to all the snow?

A:  Oh, it’ll be back.  Da-da-da-da-daaah da-da-da da-yaaaah da dah.


Q:  OK, but what if it starts snowing during practice like it did the week leading up to The Game and most of The Game?

A:  This is Michigan.  It always snows.  If the snow isn’t blowing sideways and you’re feeling antsy, practice outside if your instrument allows.  Nobody will think it’s weird if you start doing Big 10 Entries in the middle of February because they’re too cold.  But it’s March, isn’t it?  It could still snow.  I think.  IDK, I’m not a Northerner.  I’m from Arizona, Hal.


Q:  How do we know we’re improving if we’re practicing outside by ourselves?

A:  Focus on your technique, embouchure, sound quality, etc.  Do 69 reps of something you struggle on until you get it right–actually, I’ve seen an online band poster that says to practice until you can’t get it wrong, so do that.  Anyway, did you know today (March 10th) is the 69th day of the year?


Q:  Shuddap, Hal!!!

A:  That’s not a question.

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.

The Rise of the Band Geeks, Episode 16: The Army Returns (Part 3)

Kendra crept away from the crusty dining hall, her backpack a rock on her shoulders and her Holy Band Beanie situated snugly atop her head.  The space was empty save for a few poles, a bannister, a water bottle-refilling station, and–




Atop the fountain sat the demonic octopus, its gaze fixated on Kendra.  She pulled her Holy Band Beanie tighter over her ears and set her backpack aside, then clenched her fists.  Without stretching first, she barreled toward the accursed thing with the most vicious battle cry known to mankind, a war chant dredged up from the countless minute spent cadencing with the band to football games.

“BUTTEEEEEER!!!”  Her legs pumping, she shot toward the octopus, her arms outstretched, ready to destroy the thing–




She crashed into something solid and human-shaped.  It toppled backward but did not fall onto the floor, which just saved Kendra from faceplanting before a rando who had not been there a mere two seconds before.  When her vision cleared, she realized she was staring at a figure clad in black form-fitting athletic wear from shoulder to toe.  Diminutive and squirrely, the figure bounced up and down his feet to shake out his muscles, unperturbed by Kendra steamrolling into him, then flashed her a smile that eerily resembled that of the demon octopus.


“Hello there,” boomed Franklin F. Franklin.


“Franklin, wh–how–.”


Franklin simply lifted an as-of-now unbruised finger upward.  Kendra’s eyes followed him and found a missing ceiling tile beyond which the ventilation shafts loomed.


“I’m a cymbal player.  A little knee-bending doesn’t scare me.”  Again, that smile.  “I was hoping you’d figure it out sooner.  You know, since I am the lord of reversible stuffed octopi.”


“F-figure out what?”  Kendra was dizzy; her head was spinning.  Everything she’d been through in the past week was because of Franklin?


“I was trying to film an iMovie about sentient stuffed octopi, but you kept popping up in all my critical shots.  Don’t worry; I’ll edit you out of them.”  Noting Kendra’s incredulous expression, Franklin erased his smile.


“It was on my bed!!!”


I didn’t mean for that to happen!  He just fell from my hand, bro!  I am sorry about that one.  It was completely unintentional.”  As he talked, Franklin approached the apparently-not-demonic octopus and plucked it from the water bottle filler.  “Anyway, I’m almost done filming.  Just two more months to go!”  He flashed Kendra a thumbs-up, bent his knees, and launched himself back into the building’s crawlspace.


Kendra shook.  All of the running, all of the terror, and it had been–it wasn’t–.


“Hey, Kendra!”


She whirled around.  The space was suddenly teeming with students, though she was certain no one had been there a moment before.  Hilary waved at her with a smile that betrayed her ignorant bliss.  “We gotta get to class, sis.  Everything okay?”


“Y-yeah,” Kendra stammered.  She stooped down to pick up her backpack again.  Franklin.  Franklin was–.


All of this for an iMovie?


She pushed her terror away, squared her shoulders, and trudged beside Hilary into the snow.


The End!  For now………………..


More things will happen next week!

The Rise of the Band Geeks, Episode 13: Lonely Millicent

Millicent, the sophomore cymbal who may or may not have skull tattoos on her arms and 36 copies of Hamlet in her bedroom, was lonely.  She sat alone in her lonely one-person dorm room and twiddled with her purple hair extension she’d gotten off Etsy at a 50% discount once.  Alone with her band uniform, which she tragically had to return next Saturday.  Alone with the homework she should be doing instead of browsing Reddit.  Alone with a half-eaten calzone.


She was utterly disgusted with the email she had received last night from the Board of Regents and hoped the scandal didn’t go much deeper than the 118-page PDF of messages.  This PDF, of course, took precedence over her homework, and it unfortunately took precedence over practicing cymbals because the band hall was closed until Tuesday.  Sighing, she pulled her eyes away from Reddit long enough to check the drumline Discord, which of course was blowing up with memes.  Hal, the freshman whomst believed eating tater tots was a religion, was spamming it, of course; he, it seemed, did not understand those memes had been posted several hours ago.


Millicent fiddled with her hair again.  She yearned to be practicing T Dubs in the band hall before a mirror, her ear canals jammed with foam maize earplugs and her tennis shoes scrabbling for purchase on the tiled floor.  What was the purpose of life if not punk music and T Dubs?  But, alas, the band hall was closed, and Commuter South didn’t even run on weekends.


She growled.  Why did people do such horrible things in this world?  Why couldn’t people remain loyal to their loved ones?  It made her angry, which, of course, made her want to play cymbals, which she still couldn’t do because the band hall was closed.


Ugh.  She was considering going rogue and practicing T Dubs choreography in her room nonetheless just because something was better than nothing, right?  But she’d just eaten half a calzone and planned to finish it, so that probably wasn’t a good idea.  Give it thirty minutes to an hour, and the calzone would be digested enough for her to commence the deep knee bends.


Although introverted, she did get lonely from time to time.  This was one of those times.  She wanted to be back in the Big House in full uniform with her beanie and 100,000 maize-clad Michigan fans screaming as the Wolverines pummeled That Team Down South for the first time in ten years.  She wished it was still that day, November 27th.  She didn’t want it to already be January.  She didn’t want band season to be done.


Sighing, Millicent massaged her hurting heart and took another bite of her calzone.


Author’s Note:  What Schlissel did was not OK in any capacity; he was rightfully sacked for abusing his power.