The advantages and disadvantages of completing college

Be prepared for the good and the bad of everything within your college career. The most common goal that all college students share is we are all here to complete college, and build our futures with great careers. Good luck to everyone on their journey to successfully completing college.

Completing college is not only an educational achievement, but it should also be seen as a great personal achievement. There are real challenges that we run into that sometimes make us want to quit, but if you prepare yourself and learn how to adapt to changes, you will reap reward at the finish line. I want to pinpoint some advantages and disadvantages that you may encounter throughout your journey to earning your college degree.

Let’s begin with recognizing some of the disadvantages that can possibly hinder us. Some of the most common disadvantages begin with ourselves. Without Self- Discipline, you will be destroyed, and sometimes there is no coming back when you can’t control yourself. Time-Management is the most important essential for success, and if you waste it, you will catch yourself knocking on the door of failure. Lack of Persistence will make you slack, and it is complicated trying to catch up and bounce back. Procrastination keeps you from being punctual, and can hinder your performance in and outside the classroom. Competitive admission of some degree plans have deadlines and GPA requirements, and procrastination with your homework and time- management can cause you to be denied and left behind in your desired degree program.

Paying for college is at the top of stress level charts for most students. Working with financial aid can bring challenges of the misunderstandings of how loans work, keeping up with deadlines, and signing on dotted lines that are not fully explained or understood. Going to college today is an expensive proposition. Students who borrow to finance their educations are finding it increasingly harder to repay those borrowings.

None of us can deny we don’t fall short of some type of disadvantage that makes our journey a little tough, but the bright side of it falls within the advantages that come with completing college. Fighting through some of the disadvantages discussed can reward us with some of the good that can come out of completing college.

There are many available enrichment resources that a lot of students don’t know about. Such as free tutoring, free printing (in limited locations), scholarship programs, and even free meals! Make sure to stay in tune of what’s going on around campus that can benefit you. There are no guarantees in life, with or without a college degree, but the odds are increasingly stacked against those with the least education and training. In the article, “Breaking Down The Value Of Your College Degree,” Robert Barone, suggested that college-educated adults are healthier than other people in the United States. To sum it up, education influences healthy lifestyles.

Through your journey to completing college, be mindful to take the good with the bad. Few words of encouragement – don’t give up, stay focused, recognize and learn from mistakes, and always try to stay positive.

To those who are fighting through, the best of luck to all of you on your way to achieving great success in earning your college degree. I chose to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of completing college because I am learning to adapt to the changes in my personal life so I can conquer my desired career success. If we recognize and embrace things that can help us achieve our goals, we can lighten the load by applying what we’ve learned to guide us through to the end.

To leave you with an encouraging message quoted by Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

REVIEW: The Rage Room in Longview, a smashing good time

Rage RoomPhotos by Tina Marie Reed

Every time I tried to turn the steering wheel in my car, the pain in my wrists and knuckles reminded me of what I had done the night before. No, I hadn’t been inducted into an underground fight club; I went and destroyed a room of objects with a baseball bat.

The Rage Room in Longview is the place a person can go to if they have a bad day or to get their frustrations out. You could call it what it says on the business’ Facebook page: alternative therapy. This is probably the only chance in your life to destroy everything in a room and it is totally allowed and worth the price of entry.

Owners, Kevin and Ashton Rossow, got the idea from a Rage Room in Canada.

“I figured nobody else would bring it to Longview, so we did,” Kevin said.

One of the best parts of the experience is the choice of weapons: baseball bats, crowbars, golf clubs, a sledge hammer and a large pipe wrench. Next, you put on protective suits, gloves, face mask and a body shield; then, you begin your shopping. Shopping consists of picking out your items. The amount and size of items you receive depend on the package you purchase.

Kevin said the best deal would have to be the Super Smash Party Package.

This Package allows four people to enter the room and destroy 20 small items, 12 medium items, eight large items and two electronics. This comes out to $79.99, and if you split that up between four people, it comes out to about the price of a Starter Rage Package, which is one person and five small items. So, the best value and idea is to rage together.

When I entered, Kevin was super open and inviting. He set me up into the Office Space package, which included a selection of items from the shopping area, and a printer. In the shopping area, a large blue bottle caught my eye, so of course I had to grab that, the rest of my items were beer bottles, vases, plates and a Mason jar.

I entered the rage room, and was delighted to know I could hook up the music of my choice to the bluetooth speaker in the room. Also, there is no need to worry about bothering anybody with the noise you create since there is only one room to rage in, and appointments have to be made ahead of time.

Kevin suggests playing music during your rage because it helps take away the awkwardness while breaking items. I have to agree. I mean, the thought of doing something you’re not usually allowed to do is awkward enough, but once you blast your music and get in the zone, the smashing commences.

I turned on Tyler, the Creator, set up my items and destroyed everything.

I think my favorite part was grand slamming a printer into the wall, running over to it, and beating it like it had tried to mug me.

During the time I was swinging the bat, everything was out of my mind except for the repetitive action of smashing the printer or glass around me. I was going so crazy that it took me a minute to realize my torso was hurting and I was sweating so bad my hair was damp. This was 15 minutes in and I had 15 minutes left. With the rest of my time I took the opportunity to snap some selfies while looking super hardcore in my white protective suit and holding the bat. I’m not going to lie, I felt like I could have been some sort of super hero vigilante. Unfortunately, Bat Girl is already taken.

My favorite weapon to use was the bat. It was more familiar to me than the rest of the tools and had a nice even weight. The only other tool I used was the crowbar, but I didn’t like it because I would have to pry it from the printer every time I swung. I was too afraid to use the golf clubs because I was worried I would bend them on accident and I felt I was too weak to handle the other weapons.

One of my concerns was having glass stuck in the bottom of my shoes, but from what I could see and feel, I could not find any.

In conclusion, I would have to say I had the best night of sleep I have had in a very long time. This isn’t just therapy; it’s a workout, a way to have fun and also perfect to do with friends.

For more information and to set an appointment, log on to www.facebook.com/rageroomlongview

Rage Room

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Not all it is cracked up to be

After waiting 18 years to be of legal age to vote, I finally got to do so Tuesday Nov. 8. Ironically my 18 birthday fell on an election year. I waited to vote the day of the election and the polling place in my hometown was not in its usual place. Given White Oak was a small town, I still had to endure the stressful hunt to find our designated polling place, which had been moved to the back building at a local Church.

As I entered the polling room frustrated and unamused, I made my way to the three women checking in voters at the front desk. “Oh, is it your first time voting?” they chimed with an optimistic grin. I told them it was my first time and they seemed overly enthusiastic to share this lovely experience with me! They instructed me that the ballot machines were not touch screen, which was helpful because I probably would’ve stood there tapping the screen and disturbing the other voters with the claims that my machine was “broken.”

While selecting my vote for the presidential candidate I remembered my life-long dream as a child was to be the first woman president. I was going to hire a painting staff to paint the White House green. (disclaimer: I’m a different person now, I would vouch for black.) My Secret Service detail was going to drive matching green Volkswagen Beetles to ensure my safety. The lawn of the White House was going to be converted into a petting zoo and Disney Channel would play Lizzie McGuire on a continuous loop.

In my 8 year old mind, that seemed like the logical way to maintain a peaceful country and keep my people out of harm’s way. Plus I’m sure Hilary Duff would thank me for
the massive increase in her paycheck. Here I am, 10 years later with a much better understanding of politics, casting my vote for the candidate I thought was best suited to run the United States of America. I grabbed the “I voted today,” sticker and made my way out of the polling room. My first voting experience wasn’t everything I dreamt it would be.

Texas residents might see blue

Despite all of us not being able to agree on a candidate to be president, we can all agree this campaign season has been nothing short of wild and ground-breaking.

Consequently, there has been talk of Texas becoming a swing state, meaning instead of it being a ruby red color this election, it might be blue. This disproves the statement: your vote doesn’t matter.

Texas has consistently voted Republican since 1980, when the presidential race was between Jimmy Carter, democrat, and Ronald Reagan, Republican. Thirty-six years of consistently voting a Republican ticket might be changed by this election between the two front runners, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Accusations of sexual assault have Republicans disowning Trump; on the other hand, Clinton is being thrown to the side by many because of the accusation of bleaching and deleting emails. This has caused many voters to turn toward third-party candidates, Gary Johnson, a Libertarian, and Jill Stein from the Green Party.

Many people say voting third party is throwing your vote away, but if you truly knew how the Electoral College worked, this can be proven false.

Each state has a different number of electors depending on the number of senators the state has, plus the number of U.S. senators it has, lending Texas 33 electoral votes.

Finally, electors cast their votes for the candidates. Usually, the electors choose the candidate with the most direct votes from that state. There are some states that have laws requiring the electors to vote for the popular candidate in their state; Texas is not one of those states. Some electors are bound to a political party and vote for that candidate. Unfortunately, the fact electors can go against the state’s popular vote takes away the direct aspect of voting. In reality, Russia has a more direct voting system than America because of the fact the electoral college does not exist there, according to Howstuffworks.com.

Although, the system may not be the best for us, as voters and American citizens we would like to rely on our representatives who do speak for us to let our voices be heard. That is how the system should work.

Consequently, in this election, the usual Republican voting Texan electors have been swaying away from the Grand Old Party because of the statements Trump has made during debates and in previous conversations with television personality, Billy Bush, who because of his own laughter and statements, was fired from NBC’s morning news program, “The Today Show.”

The possibility of Texas turning blue, or any other color, is an actual possibility. Your vote may encourage electors to vote your way, or it may not; but, the main thing to remember is your vote is important.

Green Day Review

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Green Day is still breathing, as singer Billie Joe Armstrong will remind you in the seventh track on their 12th studio album, “Revolution Radio,” which dropped Oct. 7.

The best thing about Green Day is their loyalty to their music. They keep making it, even if it doesn’t break any new ground. Musically, there aren’t any new sounds in “Revolution Radio.” The cohesive sound is essentially a summary of all their albums since 2004’s “American Idiot.”

Lyrically, however, Armstrong definitely has something new and relevant to say. The titular song encompasses the message of all 12 songs: a pseudo-punk revolt against violence in America. Its first lines, “Scream! with your hands up in the sky, Like you want to testify for the life that’s been deleted” reflect the waves upon waves of police violence that have plagued the US for years now, and Armstrong’s desire to start a revolution against it all. The second track and first single, “Bang Bang,” is from the perspective of a mass shooter.

I think Revolution Radio is more of a personal expression of Armstrong’s angst regarding the state of the US, rather than an intensive analysis of it. Its message is too muddled and vague; one song repeatedly declares: “We live in troubled times.” Times are usually troubled for aging ex-punks.

In December Billie Joe tweeted “my mission for 2016? to destroy the phrase “pop-punk” forever.” Green Day has been referred to as pop-punk for ages and Armstrong hates it. He wants to prove that he and his band are truly punk, but can you really be punk when you endorse Hillary Clinton, or any political candidate? I don’t expect him to endorse The Donald, nor do I think he should, but punk has always been about fighting the establishment, and Green Day has lost sight of this, if they ever knew it at all. This album certainly hasn’t destroyed pop-punk.

If there’s one word to describe the way Revolution Radio makes me feel, it’s tired. As much as I love Green Day, I’m ready for something new from them. Some lyrics are actually recycled from older songs. “Too Dumb To Die” is taken right from “Sex, Drugs & Violence” from 2012’s “¡Tré!”. Perhaps the greatest difference from their previous work is the lack of adult language. Track 8, “Youngblood,” has two f-words, but the rest of the album is totally clean, perhaps further evidence of their deviation from punk.

Despite the band’s decaying originality, I once again must admire their loyalty, which I reciprocate. They don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Even in their mid-40s, they are here to shout at the world through their music that things need to change.

Think before you party

Scouring through Snapchat, I shake my head. I hate to say it, but I am being extremely judgmental.

In high school, the class below me was filled with many athletically-talented girls. When they graduated, many of them received full ride scholarships to colleges both in and out of state in softball, basketball and volleyball.

The semester finally begins and the stories on my Snapchat are flooded with these same girls drinking, dancing and using drugs the night before a game or tournament. I always thought to myself that if I did all of the partying they did the night before, you better believe I wouldn’t be playing that game. This is also one of the various reasons why I do not play sports, besides being extremely out of shape and a tad bit lazy.

My point is, these athletes are being paid by the school to come play sports for them. In my opinion, going out and almost destroying your body while participating in an activity that requires your body to be in its best shape defeats the purpose of attendance. It’s just like slapping your coach in the face and saying, “I obviously don’t want to be in my peak physical shape, so I’m just going to halfway play for you even though you’re the reason I am able to attend this school.”

Okay, it isn’t that extreme, but that is what it looks like to me.

From what I have seen, this happens at every single school, including high school. I have seen football players out at pasture parties smoking cigarettes and being nearly black-out drunk. You could argue that your actions outside of school should not matter to the school, but if you are a prominent figure for the school, you are being looked at by other students as an example. Being on any sports team puts you in a leadership position in the school, no matter what position you are on the team.

Also, this doesn’t have to be reserved to men and women who have sports scholarships, but also academic scholarships. If you do not take care of yourself and dedicate yourself to your academics, then why are you even allowed to have that scholarship in the first place? Yes, I realize your scholarship can be taken away if your coach or academic adviser catches you in the act of doing these things, but it still seems to be an issue. There are drug tests and there are laws against underage drinking, but the law always seems to be broken when it comes to drinking and there are ways of getting around passing a drug test.

Just remember why you are in the place you are at in your life. If you are on a sports or academic scholarship, be appreciative and give your all. Never be the weak link on your team by not treating yourself the best you can.

Extreme birthday plans

It’s your 21st birthday; there are other things to do besides get sloppy drunk or go clubbing all night long. 21st birthdays shouldn’t always just be about drinking until you pass out and having random dudes grind on you while you are trying to enjoy the party, so I switched it up.
Friday, Sep. 16 was my 21st birthday and I had the opportunity to enjoy a great day of school, followed by a basketball scrimmage against my teammates and so much more. A free pedicure up to $30, free Bundt cake from my hometown, a lovely dinner with my teammates at Applebee’s and laser tag in Longview to wrap up my day. The real fun occurred the following weekend as I rang in my 21st birthday.
Extreme, extreme, extreme! I took the extreme part of life and put it to action to celebrate my 21st birthday. However before I could get extreme, I enjoyed a lovely birthday dinner in Tyler at FD’s Grill House followed by a game of bowling. After a calm family oriented dinner and a fun game of bowling I headed out for Dallas.
Zero Gravity Thrill Zone Amusement Park in Dallas is optimal for true adrenaline junkies. I first decided to take part in the “Nothin’ But Net” attraction which consisted of being dropped 130 feet in the air, 130 feet! Imagine being up so high in the air you can see clear over a large area, feeling as if you were looking down from an air plane’s view, which turned my family waiting on the precious ground into ants. As I screamed “I’m 21!” I was dropped into a giant net which in turn lowered me to the safely to earth. Following the 130-foot drop, “Texas Blast Off” was up next.
Texas Blast Off consisted of being launched into the air by bungee ropes, making the speed go from zero to 60 miles per hour within a half a second. In comparison, as you were launched about 80-100 feet into the air you were flipped upside down and side to side while trying to enjoy the thrill of the ride. Let’s just say I’m glad I survived to cross that off my bucket list; but, to go a second time, I would need to reconsider.
To wrap up my day of extreme events I attended Dave and Busters for great food and games. Although I wouldn’t consider Dave and Busters extreme, it can definitely get competitive! Of course there was plenty of drinking going on around me that I very much could have took part in as most of the crowd watched their favorite college football team play on the big screen. Since I drove up to Dallas, drinking and driving would have not been approved by my parents or to myself; however, with the excitement of the long day of thrill and excitement I still had one more day to celebrate my 21st birthday the responsible way.
Sunday morning, Sep. 25, I was able to enjoy a great sermon by a guest speaker at my hometown church, Universal Heights Church of Christ, then off to the casino I went.
Shreveport, Louisiana was my next destination as we headed down I-20 toward the Margaritaville Casino. After being checked by security, we broke our big bills down and headed for the cheapest slot to start off our gambling. As I approached the first one-cent slot, inserted my dollar and pulled the lever, my heart dropped to my gut. Instantly the machine landed on three blue diamond’s back to back to back and I needed just two more blue diamonds to win an easy $4,000 on just my first try. My first try! Unfortunately, I did not win nearly as close to $4,000 that day, but I did break even, spending twenty dollars and winning back a total of ten dollars and one penny. I wasn’t quite as lucky as I thought I was, but hey, I know I’ll have better luck next time.
Hey 18, 19, and 20-year-olds that will soon be 21, not saying you shouldn’t drink and party, or you will die, just spice it up a little, do something adventurous that you will always remember because you only turn 21 once.

Gravel Graveyard

By: Shelbi Crews

I woke up Monday morning by the piercing sound of my 5:30 alarm, lethargically preparing myself to tackle the monster that is the Kilgore College student parking lot. You would be surprised how living a grand total of 25 minutes away can affect your chances of finding a parking spot before your 8:00 class!
I pulled up to the gravel graveyard around 7:45, to find that it was already full. This was merely the beginning of my epic search for a parking spot. I wasn’t taking this hunt lightly. I was determined and hungry for a parking spot.
The next ten minutes of my life felt like three hours. I faced three of my toughest contenders: pedestrians who seemed to have misplaced their sense of urgency, pedestrians who seemed unable to locate the cross walk, and the ever so talented parallel parkers. I located a parking spot around 7:50, which presented me with an early morning hike to my English class. I don’t mind the walk, but being rushed is my ultimate pet peeve. I’ve always been a very timely person but Kilgore College parking lot was ruining that image.
I immediately took built up rage that my parking spot hunt graciously gifted me to my best friends, Kaylee and Ashley. Kaylee and Ashley also living 25 minutes away felt very strongly about the parking situation too. We feel as if the parking lot at Kilgore College adds unwanted stress, safety hazards, and a flawed student to parking spot ratio
I notice an abundance of open staff parking spots every day but the thought of seeing a parking ticket on my windshield strikes fear into my very core. The risk is almost worth making it to your class on time. The parking lot at Kilgore College is the ideal hang out spot for all of your collected tardies and your sanity. It is the place where bumpers are scraped, doors are dinged, and everyone becomes a NASCAR driver. Don’t bother taking the extra time to look presentable. After your early morning parking lot hike in the East Texas humidity none of us will notice. It is every man for himself in the battle of finding a parking spot.

Urine Trouble

UrineOver the past couple of years, the usage of synthetic urine to past drug testing has become a trend. “Synthetic urine is known in the drug testing industry for falsifying drug test,” says Justin Kyle, master trainer of drug and alcohol compliance services. As a former athlete I know how this could become an issue in sports. It isn’t a big secret that there are some athletes that use drugs, but majority of them don’t have the chance to get away with it.  Now that it is easy to access and legal to sale it opens a door for the irresponsible athletes to continue to do drugs and not get punished for it. A fake urine kit can be bought under $100 and can even be found in gas stations. If athletes catch hold of this trend, it will take the integrity of the game. Playing sports is a privilege and opportunity that should not be abused or taken for granted yet there are some that are not willing to give up the fast life; the rise of fake urine reason gives them an even bigger reason not to.

The good news is that new lab technologies are able to track samples that have been tampered with. According to “The Weed Blog” new lab test measures the “specific gravity, pH, creatinine levels, and temperature are determining positive and negative results.”

The problem that the drug screeners face is that it is difficult for them to detect when someone is using a high quality synthetic urine sample. Another problem they face is that although some screening places have someone to stand in the room while people pee, it is a violation of privacy for the screeners to watch anyone urinate unless they have permission from the person being tested. Some ways to prevent people getting away with the fake samples are require them to wear robes. Having patients do so makes it harder for them to smuggle fake urine, but the major way to eliminate these hiccups is to ban the legal use of synthetic urine nationwide. That is what Justin Kyle is aiming for. Kyle is leading a petition to get rid of the use of synthetic urine. “I have personally caught and stopped 45 donors,” said Kyle. “We have gone to unknown territory and this problem is deadly not only to our industry but many other industries,” says Kyle. He needs at least 1,000 signatures to make it illegal, so far he has 100.

If you would be interested in supporting the effort you can go to https:// www.mediafire.com/?piuq49zxmwcak6u and sign the petition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring home a new best friend, adopt a pet today

During my angsty, hormone induced, middle school life I was never really a dog person. They were too loud, smelled bad and got spit everywhere; that really was not my thing. The dark and macabre is what fueled me and I leaned more toward the nonchalant attitude of a cat. While I still love cats, I grew out of being dreadful and eventually grew to love dogs. (I think it all started with the internet sensation, “Doug the Pug.”) While my love of furry animals grew, I also became aware of the situations many animals have to live in and go through.

Quite recently I adopted a dog from the shelter; a poodle named Snickers. He is the most loving and caring dog, and I could not imagine why he was in such a place. Turns out his owner had passed away and he was handed around family member to family member, eventually being sent to doggy prison.

This is not always the case though; many dogs are abused, over-bred and treated inhumanely before coming to a shelter. That is why I believe instead of buying a puppy for $400, you should adopt a pet from the shelter. Now, I have nothing against puppies, but why would you create another life by breeding an animal and not rescue a life that desperately needs your help? Maybe you look the other way because an animal is old or has a noticeable injury? Older dogs have already developed a personality and will be predictable. You never know if a puppy is going to turn out to be too high strung for you or super destructive. Yes, I realize that puppies are naturally inclined to be this way, but guess what? Older dogs usually are not. If a dog happens to have a noticeable injury such as a missing eye or leg, that gives them more character and personality. They are not broken or gross. It would be just like a human with the same case, and no matter what, they still deserve love.

All of the little puff balls in their cages want to give and receive love, and they should not be denied that. Unfortunately, because of the lack of adoption and the amount of animals that go through the shelter system, many have to be euthanized. Shelters and rescues try extremely hard to clear the shelter by holding adoption events and advertising as much as they can, but this does not always work. I encourage everyone looking for an animal to adopt. Look around local shelters and make some calls. Rescue an animal that needs your help and will love you forever. Even if you are not looking to add a lovely new family member to your home, donate your time, money or supplies to your local shelter or humane society. They need all the help they can get. Also remember, like Bob Barker always said, “Help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered.”

Review: ‘Almost, Maine’

 

Christina Lloyd, Mexia sophomore, and Travis Noriega, Kilgore freshman, look at each other lovingly as they play their characters in "Almost, Maine."
Christina Lloyd, Mexia sophomore, and Travis Noriega, Kilgore freshman, look at each other lovingly as they play their characters in “Almost, Maine.”

The KC Theatre Department’s production of “Almost, Maine,” is different in the fact that it is not necessarily one whole story but small cuts of different lives that all relate to one thing. Love.

The show is a romantic comedy that comes together nicely with the work of director, Kaitlin de Graffenried and assistant director and student, Trevor Newlin.

I fell in love with each character because each of them were relatable: a broken heart, an awkward first love, lost hope and love given away and traded.

Parts of the show were so adorable that I gasped, and sometimes even squealed a little bit. I’m sorry. I get attached to characters easily.

One of the reasons why the characters are so relatable is because of the great acting in this show. The duo of Judah Armour, playing East, and Hannah Sanders as the character Glory, is a great example of this. On stage, both seem like they are truly living their character’s story.

Every scene of this play is fantastic and captures the audience in each love story. I highly recommend seeing this production, but I also recommend bringing someone with you to watch it. It is a great couples play and represents many types of relationships.

 

For more information on tickets for the show or show times, go to www.kilgore.edu/theatre.

Photo by Tiffany Johnson

 

 

Music Mondays: They Might Be Giants ‘Flood’ Texas

They Might Be Giants perform ‘Birdhouse in your Soul’ at their “Farewell for the Moment” tour in Brooklyn on January 2, 2016. Video shot by Bryan Patti.

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They Might Be Giants will celebrate the 16th anniversary of their classic album ‘Flood’ at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 31 at Stubb’s BBQ in Austin and 7 p.m. Friday, April 1 at Warehouse Live in Houston.

They Might Be Giants (TMBG) was formed in 1982 by friends John Linnell and John Flansburgh, who have added more members throughout the years to help broaden their live sound. Now, instead of the minimalism of their early show performed with Flansburgh’s guitar, Linnell’s accordion, and a drum machine, they have a full band and horn section touring and performing with them.

I got the opportunity to see ‘Flood’ live at The Beaumont Club in Kansas City in 2009. It was my first TMBG concert, and it was one of the most amazing days of my life, cementing me as a hardcore TMBG fan for life.

I recently saw them live in concert again at their “Farewell for the Moment” final Dial-A-Song tour show at 7 p.m. Saturday, January 2 at The Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY. I hadn’t seen them live for seven years, but seeing them with such an enthusiastic and welcoming crowd of fans, I felt like I was home again. I stood in my coveted spot directly in front of Linnell below his keyboard, and sang along with him on every song. It was glorious.

Tickets to both Texas shows are $25.

Photo of THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS

John Linnell and John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants pose during the early 90’s. Photo from Google Images.

If you decide to go, here is my personal track by track preview of what you will hear:

1. Theme from Flood -Great  introductory song to a great introductory album of TMBG’s.

2. Birdhouse in Your Soul – Arguably TMBG’s biggest commercial hit to date, and for good reason. The rollicking story of a blue canary-shaped nightlight is told whimsically through music.

3. Lucky Ball and Chain – TMBG’s more country and western influenced songs are some of their best, and nowhere is more proof of it than in this little tune.

4. Istanbul – One of their most popular songs due to its being featured on ‘Tiny Toon Adventures.’ A fun novelty song cover which never gets old.

5. Dead – Melancholy and somber tune about a man reincarnated as a bag of groceries. It’s really depressing.

6. Your Racist Friend – This song was recently featured as background music to an online video I saw about Donald Trump. It really does fit.

7. Particle Man – Another popular song featured on ‘Tiny Toons.’ A little annoying if you’ve heard it too many times, but still enjoyable, especially live with a crowd of people who also know every word by heart.

8. Twisting – Fun ’60’s sounding go-go music throwback. Reminds me of my sister Kelly dancing at the ‘Flood’ concert.

9. We Want A Rock – Fun tune with some of the best accordion work by Linnell on the album.

10. Someone Keeps Moving My Chair – This song sounds like nothing I’ve heard, in a good way, but gets buried in the middle of the album.

11. Hearing Aid – Great middle of the album weirdness from Flansburgh here. That’s all I can say.

12. Minimum Wage – Satirical 50’s ode to the workday. Oh, and it’s also mostly instrumental.

13. Letterbox – My favorite song on the album. Period. It must be heard to be believed. 1 minute and 25 seconds of pure bliss.

14. Whistling in the Dark – Creepy song which reminds me of the ‘Flood’ concert in Kansas City when Flansburgh almost dropped his bass drum on Kelly. Fun times.

15. Hot Cha – Another creepy Flansburgh song. Love the creepy Flansburgh songs.

16. Women and Men – TMBG’s ode to the sexes reminds me of a fanciful sea shanty. It is awesome.

17. Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love – My second favorite song on the album. Just beautiful.

18. They Might Be Giants – TMBG’s self-titled song which also has a fun country and western flair.

19. Road Movie to Berlin – Perfect ending song to a pretty perfect album.

Or, you can just listen to the entire album here. You should. It’s not long, you get a lot of songs for the value (in this case, free) and it may just change your life.

Throwback Thursdays: Celebrating love at Texas Frightmare Weekend

May 1, 2015 was the best day of my life. I realized it after the initial emotional shock wore off, and I will never forget the date as long as I live.

Myself, my boyfriend Bryan and my sister Kelly were taking our annual trip to the Texas Frightmare Weekend convention in Dallas, where horror icons and fans congregate every year to celebrate love of the fandom.

On Friday night, a “Phantasm Ball,” a party with the theme of the 1979 cult film “Phantasm” was held. Hundreds of people attended. There were drinks, food and even a photo op with a replica of the killer silver flying ball from the movie.

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Bryan and I take a photo with the killer ball from “Phantasm.” Photo by Bryan Patti.

All of us were having a great time on the dance floor, but Bryan kept looking nervous and was getting distracted by his phone. I started to get upset.

“Are you okay?,” I asked. “Who do you keep texting?”

He quickly said he was telling his sister how the party was going. I thought it was a bit odd, but nothing to worry myself over.

Then, the MC stopped the music. “Ok, everyone,” he said, “there’s a guy here who’d like to propose to his girlfriend.” Bryan headed toward the stage.

“NO, NO, NO,” I initially thought, hating being the center of attention in a situation I could not control. I tried to stay as calm as I could muster.

I was in so much shock, I don’t remember what Bryan specifically said to me as he knelt down on one knee. All I know is he proposed and I said yes.

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Bryan and I celebrate our engagement at the Texas Frightmare Weekend convention. Photo by Kelly Agee.

I do remember feeling a sense of numbness. Bryan and I had been together almost five years and the convention was a meaningful place to us both, so the proposal was not totally unexpected.

Still, I didn’t know how to deal with the conflicting range of strong emotions inside me. I quickly and discreetly snuck out to collect myself.

Sitting on a bench outside, I cried. I didn’t feel worthy of being engaged and felt lots of pressure. At the same time, I was excited a new phase of my life was starting.

Bryan and Kelly came out and consoled me. Kelly knew I was mainly upset because of my hate of being the center of attention. Bryan understood this was a big step in our lives, and held me to calm me down. WE eventually mae ou way back to the party, and had an amazing night.

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Bryan and I show off my engagement ring in front of the Phantasm Ball poster. Photo by Bryan Patti.

Now, almost a year later, Bryan and I are still engaged. Not much else in our life has changed, but now I look more forward to Texas Frightmare Weekend this year than ever because of the special place it holds now in my heart.

Throwback Thursdays: How Harry Potter sparked the imagination of generations

 From Fanpop/anadoring.

With the unfortunate death of legendary British actor Alan Rickman today from cancer at age 69, I decided to focus my first Throwback Thursday article, which celebrates nostalgic things from childhood, on the Harry Potter book and film series and its effect on my life.

 


Sowing the seeds of fandom

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone book cover. From Scholastic.

The first Harry Potter book by author J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was released in 1997 in the U. K. and in the U. S. as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone the next year.

It reached the top of The New York Times’ best sellers list in August 1999. That was the same year I read the book.

Like most kids around my age – 11, the same as Harry’s in the first book – I was fascinated by the world Rowling created. It introduced me to modern British culture and the amazing fictional wizarding world of the main characters. My mom would read the books to me and my younger sister Kelly every night.

Every kid who read the books desperately hoped that a letter would come in the mail alerting them they were really a wizard or witch and would attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Everyone wanted to learn how to ride a broom and play Quidditch and wanted loyal best friends like Ron and Hermione.

 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire book cover. From Scholastic.

I remember vividly a special trip to the mall with just my mom and I to purchase the fourth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Unfortunately, that book also has an emotionally scarring memory. In November 2000, as my mom was reading aloud to us from the book, she suffered her first stroke. That was the last time she read out loud to us, and I never picked the book series back up on my own.

The height of the hype

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone film poster. From Warner Brothers.

A year later, in November 2001, the first Harry Potter film was released. It was the first movie I waited in line for and saw in a packed theater. It was astonishing seeing my favorite characters on the big screen.

Around this time, I first noticed the backlash from religious groups to the Harry Potter book and film series because it involved wizardry. In 2002, the religious comic book manufacturer Chick Publications released The Nervous Witch which said “the Potter books open a doorway that will put untold millions of kids into hell.” This made me glad I was raised in a family that supported education, reading and freedom of expression and made me sad that some kids weren’t allowed to experience the awesomeness of Harry Potter.

As each subsequent book and movie was released, the hype got more fervent. Although I never picked back up the book series again, I was an avid fan of the films.

 

Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint before the filming of Sorcerer’s Stone. From Google Images.

 

 

It was interesting to see the leads Harry, Ron and Hermione, played by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, become famous Hollywood actors and see the progression of their age and acting talent ad each movie was released. I loved seeing all the veteran English actors they got to play the adults, especially Alan Rickman as Professor Snape, Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, and my personal favorite, David Thewlis as Professor Lupin.

 

David Thewlis as Remus Lupin in Prisoner of Azkaban. From Warner Brothers.

The third movie, The Prisoner of Azkaban, was my favorite because of its elements of time travel and interaction between Snape, Black and Lupin. I also loved the fourth film, Goblet of Fire, because of its darker, more adult themes and casting choices such as Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory, David Tennant as Barty Crouch, Jr. and Ralph Fiennes as the evil Voldemort.

 

David Tennant as Barty Crouch, Jr. in Goblet of Fire. From Warner Brothers.

As every film came out, I started to see more and more Harry Potter merchandise being sold at places like Hot Topic, Books-A-Million and Hastings. “Potterheads” became the term for fans of the books and films.

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book cover. From Scholastic.

The final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released in July 2007, right after I graduated high school. It became the fastest selling book in the U. S., with 8.3 million copies being sold in the first 24 hours. I went by the crowded release parties at Books-A-Million and Hastings that night and knew I was witnessing an important part of history. I’d never seen people get so amped up and excited to read a book before.

The release of the Deathly Hallows films was no different. Both films’ premiers had some of the biggest crowds at a movie theater I have ever seen. Deathly Hallows Part 2 was the highest grossing Harry Potter film with $1 billion in sales, and both the best reviewed and highest grossing film of 2011.

The future of Harry Potter

Harry Potter is now nearing its 20 year anniversary, and although the hype has died down a bit, fans still eagerly celebrate all things Harry Potter related.

 

Author J. K. Rowling in 2013. From The Telegraph.

J. K. Rowling is now one of the best selling and wealthiest authors of all time. She is active on Twitter and shows great appreciation towards fans of her work.

Pottermore, an interactive website for Harry Potter fans, was created by Rowling in 2011. The site allows fans to interact with each other and explore unreleased parts of the book series.

Universal Studios opened the Harry Potter section of its Islands of Adventure theme park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, in June 2010, which has recreations of Diagon Alley and its shops featured in the books and films, as well as rides through Gringotts Bank, on the Hogwarts Express train, and even through Hogwarts itself.

 

Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander. From Entertainment Weekly.

A film adaptation of the Harry Potter spinoff book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be released in November 2016. It starts Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne as wizard Newt Scamander and takes place in the U. S. In 1927. When I recently saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens on opening night, this was the only trailer that received applause after it was shown.

It was an exciting experience growing up seeing the success of the Harry Potter books and films. It’s amazing how it is still a huge part of pop culture. This shows its enduring legacy and the wonder and excitement the series inspires in people around the world. I am excited to see where the Harry Potter series will go next, and, even at age 28, still hope for that letter from Hogwarts. (I know I’d be in Hufflepuff.)

 

Wind down Wednesdays: Adult coloring books

With the rise of social media culture and the stress of college and work putting people under constant pressure, many young adults are bogged down by social life daily. One of the newest and trendiest ways for adults to wind down after a stressful day is to let their creative side show by using coloring books specifically designed for adults.    From “Secret Garden”

Adult coloring books differ from children’s coloring books because the patterns are designed to be intricate and allow people to use a variety of colors. They remind adults of their childhood and provide a comforting sense of nostalgia that reminds them of their carefree days of having no worries except which colors to choose. Similarly to the book used as a child, adult coloring books allow people to relieve stress and feel a sense of accomplishment after completing a picture.

The first adult coloring book, published in 1961, was a satire of business life called “The Executive Coloring Book,” which had captions underneath pictures such as “This is my suit. Color it gray or I will lose my job.” In 1962, Mort Drucker’s “JFK Coloring Book” spent 14 weeks at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. That year, sales of adult coloring books reached $1 million.   From “The Executive Coloring Book”

Today’s adult coloring books are not subversive or satirical, but are used to provide a therapeutic feeling. Johanna Basford’s “Secret Garden” and “Enchanted Forest” coloring books have sold over 10 million copies since 2013. Many of Amazon’s top-selling books over the last couple of years have been adult coloring books.  From “Secret Garden”

Like other forms of relaxation therapy such as meditation and yoga, coloring lets people switch off their brains and focus on the moment, which helps alleviate anxiety. It is especially effective for people who don’t normally consider themselves artists, and feel that they are bad at drawing and sketching things themselves.

Picking up coloring as a hobby is easy and affordable. Books run anywhere from five to 15 dollars, depending on the size of the book. Amazon has a huge variety of coloring books in stock. They can also be found at craft stores such as Michaels and Hobby Lobby, bookstores like Books-A-Million and Barnes and Noble, and general entertainment stores such as Hastings Entertainment – whose Longview location currently has one in stock based on BBC’s Sherlock television series.  From “Sherlock: The Mind Palace”

Although any medium of coloring instrument may be used, colored pencils are recommended over crayons, which are normally too thick for the detail needed, or pens, which can bleed through the paper.

After your items are purchased, all that needs to be done is to sit back and let your creativity take hold! Your stress levels will be reduced, and you’ll have a book full of wonderful art to show off after its completion.