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 9: The Cymbal Reserves According to Hal

As university students are swallowed up by impending finals and writer’s block, one marching band freshman wastes his time by compiling exhaustive profiles of all seven cymbal reserves…*

  1. Hugh Beckham Aport (freshman).  The first Hugh on the cymbal line when everyone’s last name is an alphabetical order, though he goes by his middle name, Beckham.  Undeclared, but says he wants to study either chemical or mechanical engineering depending on how much the pre-rec courses destroy his will to live.  Claims to love chameleons, but he mixed up a picture of a chameleon with that of an iguana, so we have our doubts.
  2. Marcin Budzinski (sophomore).  Computer Science (CS) major.  Lives in Detroit and speaks fluent Polish.  Only joined band this year after not opting to do it online last year because “My computer is where I code and play games, not cymbals.”  Bit of a snarky boi who doesn’t like chicken nuggets.
  3. Amos Frankiewicz (freshman).  Prospective CS major.  Currently getting a C in EECS 183 (which he always complains about).  That’s about it.
  4. Franklin Franklin (freshman).  Not really sure what this dude wants to study, but I do know he’s obsessed with these stuffed octopi that can be reversed between a happy and a sad/angry face.  He currently has upwards of 10 of them and frequently brings them to practice during the regular season.  For some reason, he talks about himself in the third person with a dramatic voice.  Rumor has it his middle name is also Franklin.
  5. Hugh Addison “Hal” Lubanski (freshman).  Prospective CS major (again).  Is without a doubt, the coolest, most impassioned, and most dedicated football fan in the cymbal section and possibly the MMB, the only exception being the Fearless Leader of the band.  Proponent of the most requested dining hall tater tots.
  6. Millicent Polaco (sophomore).  Another CS major.  Likes to dye her hair and listen to depressing punk music (but not Mr. Brightside).  Usually irritated by the awesomeness of people in the section like Hal.  Hates stuffed octopi for some ungodly reason.  Probably practices witchcraft in her spare time.
  7. Maren Thomas (freshman).  Undeclared freshman in College of Engineering.  Hopes to study aerospace.  Is one of those people who likes physics and does calculus for fun.

The author of this compendium did not do anything stupid in compiling this list.**


*This is 100,000% fictional.

**Not entirely true.  He wrote this list when he should have been studying.***

***As did I.

Happy studying!  May you get As on all your final exams and projects!

A List of Writing Mediums

Some scientific research concluded that writing in cursive better encodes information into your brain. This is due to the number of neurons that are fired with pen-strokes, as a wide variety of hand movements are required. Cursory writing accomplishes this goal more effectively than other forms of writing. Printing by hand is the next most optimal means to encoding thoughts. Typing fires the least neurons, so this is the least effective for memory. It is, however, the fastest, and also rather unavoidable in today’s world. After spending so much time in front of a screen, we get caught in a rut of typing and information cascades.

In the age of information overload, reductionism is a coping mechanism. Lists are a means of reductionism. So to combat the bulk of information you are overloaded with on daily basis, I’m going to present a list. This list will be a compilation of different writing mediums you could explore–both on and off the screen. Experimenting with new mediums may change the way we remember and relate information. And that’s important. We could generate new thoughts, just be placing them on a different surface.

So here are 35 new mediums to try:

1. Plastic milk jugs

2. Dried leaves

3. Whiteboards

4. Blackboards

5. Corkboards

6. Rocks of varying shapes and sizes

7. Wax paper

8. Your body

9. Somebody else’s body, with verbal consent

10. Napkins

11. Money, but you didn’t get the idea from me

12. Apples

13. Cardboard

14. Glass panels

15. Rubber erasers, for the irony

16. Paper plates

17. Tin foil

18. Candy wrappers

19. Bricks

20. Brick walls

21. Drywall

22. Tabletops

23. Table bottoms; watch out for gum

24. Table legs

25. Seashells

26. Turtle shells

27. On computer screens

28. On the sides of pencils

29. Watermelons

30. 2×4 boards

31. Dead skin

32. Chicken bones

33. Jeans

34. Toilet paper

35. Your bed sheets

This list is not conclusive. Feel free to add more for yourself. The process of writing on different mediums, even if the words/ideas do not change, may make you think about the writing in a different way. This divergent thinking may help you overcome mental road blocks. It is a worthwhile activity, I think. So explore. Let your pen roam wild. Bleed ink on inappropriate places. You’ll never know what you may find.

The Art of Graduating in 2 Weeks

It’s at this point in my life—second-semester senior, post-thesis, part-time student, burnt out, uber-queer angst land, etc.—where I think it’s appropriate to reflect and teach others the senior-year lifestyle, or as I like to call it, “so you’re graduating and are no longer able to give a f**k.” So yeah:

1. Attend less class this week than days you consecutively visit bars.
And I’m not talking about just skipping class (I am, partly) but  look at your schedule and notice that the sheer number of classes you have is dwindling and that the nostalgia for meeting up with friends, lovers, mentors, and those who can pay for you is at an all time high. In short, I am now friends with all the bartenders at Savas and I’m more than OK with this.

2. When someone asks you what are you doing after graduation, outline EXACTLY what you will be doing everyday:
“well the day after I plan on having an existential breakdown to be met the next day by getting together for brunch at Sava’s with my friends (Brian, Audrey, etc.), and then I’m planning on starting ‘House of Leaves’ the following day but maybe ‘Paradise Lost?’ And when people get bored and ask you, “NO, what are you doing professionally or educationally,” just reply, “well, it really needs to be contextualized within my daily routine all summer long because in isolation everything is meaningless.” Basically just be really sassy and blunt with everyone you come into contact with. It’s not like you’re going to see any of these people again possible ever again.

3. Invite academics to campus and get excited about preparing questions that “destroy” them, either:
i) call them out for being problematic, or ii) interrogate their methodologies and bash their disciplinary location. “So I see you use ‘LGBT’ as the realm of discourse you’re analyzing on a national level, but the evidence you cite blatantly excludes trans* folks, how does their exclusion and your implicit blame onto a highly marginalized community fit into your argument? Don’t you really just mean ‘gay and lesbian’?”

4. Wear every pattern that you own so that people will know and be visually convinced you are graduating.
Look i) hip, ii) hip not in the hipster way or appropriative way but like in the damn cool and stylish way and so so “out there,” iii) a little bit out of your mind eccentric, iv) not to be tested, v) ready to leave. There’s no use in pretending that I’m not COMPLETELY ready to start a “new chapter” (chapter 22) of my life that is not located in Michigan.

5. Get really frustrated when people don’t want to hear about your term paper on Deleuzoguattarian metaphysics in conversation with Woolf’s “The Waves.”
I’m at the point where my schooling is something I’m both frustrated and in love with, similar to other folks in my life, and so I talk about it all the time because it is my life. Those that don’t get that don’t always deserve to take up all my time.

6. Say ‘no’ to everything you can because this is the last chance, at least in my opinion, where you have the privilege to prioritize self-care to the max.
My job lets me say no, my classes let me say no, my friends let me say no. But come a year from now I’ll be in a different community, a different job (that I have to keep in order to live), and a different location. I know that ‘no’ isn’t always an option, especially in the foreseeable future; so say ‘no’ and love the time you can self-create.

7. Be direct, be open. 
After living life for 21 years, I finally realized that I could be direct with people while not being rude. Saying that you don’t want to be friends isn’t rude, it’s honest on both a time and personal level. Telling someone that you need to talk isn’t a passive aggressive move or a manipulative move, it’s letting someone know you need better communication and that you value both parties to find a time that works for both schedules.

8. Fall in love more often and deeper.
Granted, this is EVERYONE’S advice for growing older but seriously. Tell everyone you love them. (Ask before you can do any of the following:) Hold on to everyone’s hand. Hug everyone for minutes not seconds. Kiss everyone you can on the cheek. Start conversations with strangers. In all of the ups and downs that I’ve been on and through for Ann Arbor I love the space and I love many of the people. And I’m so thankful for my life and the lives of others/places/things. I show my gratitude through my love.

Art of of Being Basic

1) Writing a passive aggressive blog, keeping in mind all the people that overwhelm you–with their ability to frustrate you, fuck everything up, and be real damn basic.

2) Quitting your thesis to basically watch a season of Gilmore Girls every two weeks.

3) Not living by your community’s living standards and then shunning/hating/abusing  those that called you out about it.

4) Standing up and feeling patriotic for a nation that allows for the active genocide of people in and out of its “borders.”

5) (un/in)tentionally Cutting off Black women during a speak out because you really want to share your (yes, valid) emotions.

6) Walking down the wrong side of the road and pushing someone without boots into 6 inches of water.

7) Saying “Arabic” when you really mean “Arab” all while basically making a joke of another culture because of a situation you found yourself in.

8) Saying “people of color” instead of “Black folks,” which is really what you mean.

9) Ordering off of your parent’s Amazon account just so you can get free 2 day shipping (and effectively avoiding the spending of your own money).

10) Quoting Frank B. Wilderson III and then talking over Black folks in a conversation; Quoting Frank B. Wilderson III and then calling yourself an ally to Black folks when you are in fact not Black; Quoting Jared Sexton and then non-ironically saying “multiracial”; Quoting Audre Lorde and just fucking it up bad because you can’t read the whole quote, or you forget the context, or forget that she is talking about something that can’t always be generalized or abstracted; Saying that you don’t like Beloved.

11) Assuming that because you call yourself an ally to “LGBT” people you are an ally to queer folks; assuming that because you “identify as the ‘a’ in LGBTA” that you are really an ally or really living the struggle of being “LGBT.”

12) Being a (white) scholar of South African tribal literatures and then calling “anti-Blackness” too strong of a term; ignoring the fact that global anti-Blackness is a thing.

13) Working in the office next to me, seeing me everyday in the hallway, but refuse to acknowledge my existence as you run into me because you’re too busy on your phone, refuse to say excuse me, refuse to say anything.

14) Any time the word “different” is used as an adjective.

15) (On the second night of a newly established gay night at a local bar) Hosting a “frat party” that depicts racism, sexism, sizeism, ableism, etc., in its cover photo.

16) Refusing to acknowledge the privilege you have in passing.

17) Wearing shorts in 35 degree weather, even if it is sunny.

18) Disliking Azealia Banks.

19) Flirting with someone majoring in English and Philosophy and telling them that you hate reading and thinking too hard.

20) Pronouncing my last name “Portabella” to be funny.

21) Being sex negative.

22) Calling yourself a feminist, as a man, and still using “bitch” in your everyday vocabulary.

22) Identifying as cisgender and gay/bisexual/lesbian and stigmatizing Trans* folks. Stigmatizing Trans* folks EVER.

23) Letting people stay in limbo, who are waiting for a reply from you, just because you don’t want to face reality and instead watch Netflix and go on Tumblr for a week.

24) Assuming people will help you even when you don’t ask for it, and then being mad and blaming others for not helping.

25) Not telling someone that you love them when you do; Not telling someone that you like them or want to be friends with them or want to fuck them or want to ask them out or want to be in their vicinity because you’re scared.

26) Leaving your clothes in the apartment building dryer for 2 hours while leaving other clothes in the washing machine for 3 hours.

27) Disliking James Joyce or Virginia Woolf because they are “too pretentious.”

28) When you identify as white and: always identify as a successful anti-racist activist, call yourself culturally Black, equate issues of class with issues of race, pride yourself in your “ability” to twerk.

29) Publishing a blog about your frustrations because you just can’t right now and don’t foresee any amount of can for the next week.

30) Calling out “basic” things/people/activities and not defining “basic.”

31) Thinking that Madonna invented voguing.

32) Referring to HIV as AIDS; shaming those that have sex without a condom; not being aware that HIV and AIDS still exists.

The Art of The Snow Day Movie Marathon

Do you hear that? It’s the triumphant cries of students everywhere rejoicing in the luck of it being 2014. What’s that? A Snow Day in Michigan? Has there ever been a more perfect time?

With all this time on your hands, dear students, I impart to you the knowledge of my vast and ever-growing movie collection, so that you too may reap the benefits of not having class today in the form of a movie marathon.

And so, for this January 28th, in the year 2014, I present to you, my Top 10 Movies To Watch When You Have A Snow Day

1. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Okay, you should have seen this one coming from a mile away. And if you haven’t seen this movie yet, PLEASE take this excuse to watch it RIGHT NOW. In short, Ferris is taking a day off – so you should do yourself a favor and take one too.

2. Stardust

Over the years I’ve grown accustomed to the response of “What’s Stardust?” whenever I mention this movie. A hidden gem, Stardust is a movie based on a book of the same name by Neil Gaiman. A fantasy following the story of a man traveling to “catch” a fallen star who happens to be a beautiful girl named Yvaine, this movie is a must see, and is the perfect balance of action, comedy, and romance that will fill you with warmth as you wrap up in a blanket on your bed.

3. How To Train Your Dragon

And unlike the movie previous, almost everyone I know has heard of this installment of the colloquially known “Big Four” But honestly, I can’t get past how amazingly written and heartfelt this movie is. A coming of age story with the enjoyable twist of a puppy-dog like dragon, I love this movie for its inexplicable wit and ambitious but oh so totally worth it plot line. This movie is a modern classic in the realm of animation, and is a highly enjoyable movie for any age.

4. Dan In Real Life

As a sophomore, I decided to embroider my letterman with a quote from this movie. I received much criticism, as the line is kitschy, but in context, it fits perfectly. At the end of the movie, middle-aged father Dan tells the readers of his column to “Plan To Be Surprised”, and heeds his own advice as he falls in love for the first time since becoming a widower. This offbeat rom-com will surprise you with how much it doesn’t feel like a rom, and is the perfect way for the ladies to get their dose of romance while guys enjoy the comedic styling of comedians such as Steve Carell, Dane Cook, and the ever great John Mahoney.

5. Push

Another movie that you may not have heard of, Push is an action-adventure set on the streets of Hong Kong. Fast paced with action around every corner, this movie will surprise you with its slightly complex plot. While not a masterpiece such as Inception, the plot contains more than your usual Michael Bay-type fare, and will leave you satisfied but curious as to where the plot could go.

6. Easy A

Another rom-com that’s heavy on the comedy, I watched Easy A for the first time in a while last night in my room with my friends. As I watched, I was reminded of how bland the plot could have been – but how amazingly executed the movie was. The perfectly balanced dialogue contained a heavy dose of sarcasm mixed with a realism that stayed true to high school teenagers, and the delivery by the now-famous Emma Stone never faltered. She was able to portray a female lead that wasn’t strong in her sassiness but in the choices she made, never second guessing or wavering in them, and sticking through her “business” to the end. I was struck by how well made the movie was, and so this movie makes my list as something to dig out of your 2010 pile to re-watch.

7. Meet The Robinsons

I seem to be alternating between well-known and what is THAT? but nevertheless Meet the Robinsons  is one of my favorite, underrated Disney movies. Disney takes the tired trope of time traveling and adds a bit of Disney magic, and you get this movie, which was made as a homage to Walt Disney himself and his ever present theme of innovation, showcased primarily in his creation of the Tommorrowland section of Disneyland. This movie surprised me in how enjoyable it was, even though I didn’t watch it till I was 16 or 17 years old. It’s worth a shot, and you won’t regret it.

8. Take The Lead

One of the more serious movies on this list, Take The Lead is another must see. Based on a true story, it details the life of Pierre Dulaine, played by Antonio Banderas, a man who decides to implement ballroom dancing lessons in the detention hall of one inner-city New York public school. It deals with the harsh topics of racism, classism, and how these things affect the real lives of the teens that have to live with it every day. While somewhat heavy, this movie is a must see because of the way it gracefully navigates these subjects while simultaneously delivering an satisfying plot that leaves you cheering for the underdogs.

9. (500) Days of Summer

My final rom-com that differs in its emphasis on the romance, I absolutely love this movie. Maybe the fact that I got it for Christmas but accidentally left it back in Houston made me put it on this list. Nevertheless, if you’re going to watch a romance, go big or go home, and watch as Joseph Gordon-Levitt tries to navigate a relationship with the ever elusive Summer.

10. The Princess Bride

And finally, I had to end with a classic. One of my favorite movies of all time, The Princess Bride just makes you feel good, even when it’s 30 below outside. It has an air of timelessness that can’t be found today, and that’s why this movie wraps up my list.

So there you have it. 10 movies for you to choose from on your day off. Watch one, watch none, watch all, but please, take this day to watch something. After all, snow days only come once every 36 years.