Archive for the 'College' Category

LaPorte, Indiana

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

My old college buddy Joe is working on his directorial debut: a documentary called LaPorte, Indiana. I can’t decide whether or not the premise is simple or ambitions.  I suppose it’s both, and that’s what’s so great about it.  I described it as “Peoples Is Peoples: The Movie.”

But don’t take my word for it.  Watch the trailer, and then, if you’re feeling moved to do so, help them finish it.

Chaaarrrrge… It!

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Once when I was withdrawing money from the only ATM on my college campus, I could swear I heard the machinery inside play a little song as it dispensed its sweet currency.  This song:

Well, at least the end of it.  As I’ve wondered through life these subsequent years, I often listen for that tiny tune from the bowels of the ATM — with its little trill of excitement announcing the inevitable prize.  Occasionally I’ll find an ATM that still does it.

It just so happens that tonight was one such occasion.  Thanks to the iPhone Recorder application, I was able to record it. 

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Am I crazy?  It totally plays that song, right?  I like to think the engineers designing this ATMachine added the jingle as a tribute to Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble’s shopping sprees whose call to arms culminated in the exclamation, “CHARGE IT!”

Thick Skulls Come In Handy Sometimes

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

You want more overloaded minivan stories?  Here’s one from college — actually right before college.  I went on one of those wilderness orientation programs lots of schools offer to incoming freshman.  I have a vague memory that one of the trails or peaks was named after Mickey Dolenz, but that’s about all I remember.

After the trip, two minivans were supposed to pick us up and take us down the mountain, but only one came.  We decided all 11 of us (and our backpacks) would just cram into the car.  After all, it was only a half-hour drive.

There were three of us in the passenger seat.  I was positioned in such a way that my head was actually leaning on the windshield.  As we twisted and turned down the mountain road, a voice from the bottom of our passenger-seat pile said, “I don’t like this,” and managed to jimmy-rig the seatbelt around (at least parts) of all of us.

Seconds later we made a particularly sharp cuve and the next thing I knew the car was plowed into a tree.  There we shouts of, “Is everyone okay,” amidst the smoke.  Remarkably, everyone was.  It turns out there was so much weight in the car, one of the rear tires actually fell off of the wheel.

I remember three things from after the accident:

  1. As the last person stumbled out of the van, we heard a poof.  The airbag finally went off.
  2. As I stood in a daze in front of the car, someone pointed at the windshield and said, “Evan, did your head do that?”  The windshield had shattered right where my head was.  I didn’t have a scratch on me.  I have a strong head.
  3. A woman ran out of the only nearby house.  “Everyone crashes into that tree,” she said.  Then she invited us in and served us lemonade.

Why I Don’t Have Terrible Taste In Music

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Every couple of years Trevor recommends music to me. It’s not often, but he has an amazing track record. When we were sophomores in college, he introduced me to John Prine (and, by proxy, Iris DeMent.) Prine has gone on to become my favorite performer. A few years later he suggested I listen to Chuck Brodsky. Now I own all his albums.

Yesterday Trevor asked if I had been listening to M. Ward. I hadn’t. Trevor’s three for three. It’s nice to have a friend like that.

Here are two M. Ward songs for all of you:

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Pretty Lights

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

One of Columbia University’s best traditions (aside from Orgo Night) was the lighting of the trees along College Walk for the holidays. Michigan Avenue does it up okay, but the trees at Columbia were amazing. There were so many lights wrapped around every branch!

I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I sure like it a lot. I loved those lights and I love Christmas carols and I love It’s A Wonderful Life.

If I did celebrate Christmas, I’d definitely invest in some new LED Christmas lights. If you’re a Chicagoan, you can buy them at a discount from ComEd’s online store. Christmas lights are an ideal candidate for LEDs. Here are five reasons that have nothing to do with “saving the earth.”

  1. LEDs are naturally colorful. It’s only recently that a good white LED was created.
  2. Christmas lights are left on all the time. LEDs consume about 1/8th as much electricity as incandescents.
  3. Christmas lights don’t actually need to illuminate a room. LEDs aren’t actually that bright.
  4. They run a lot cooler than normal lights in case you’re putting them next to something flammable like, say, a tree.
  5. These days, they’re basically the same price as standard incandescent Christmas lights.

So there you go.

Oh Those Crazy Days of College Days

Monday, October 29th, 2007

My mom has my entire life (as well as my brothers’ lives) carefully chronicled in an elaborate system of closets, cabinets, boxes and drawers.  When I mentioned the Columbia University Marching Band’s appearance on The Late Show, she disappeared for about thirty seconds before reemerging with a dusty VHS video tape in her hand.

G(tb)2

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Amanda collects stories about Jellyvision employees. One of her favorite questions to ask people in interviews is, “What are three things about yourself that would surprise me?” I started working at Jellyvision before Amanda so I never had to answer that question, but I recently told her that I had been on Letterman and she seemed quite surprised. Truth be told, I had kind of forgotten about it, but I’ll tell the story anyway.

It all stems from my year as a member of the Columbia University Marching Band, The Cleverest Band in the World™. Ivy league schools have pretty really pathetic football teams. They also have really pathetic marching bands. To compensate for their lack of musical ability, marching prowess, dedication and size, most Ivy League marching bands are “scramble bands.” That is, instead of marching, they run around the field like idiots while reading jokes over the P.A. Occasionally they play songs too.

I was a member of this crack semi-musical unit for a while. I played clarinet in the marching band in high school and was recruited by a friend: “Wait, you actually play an instrument? We need you.” You see, much of the band is made up of “miscies” who play any miscellaneous thing they can find, be it a beer keg, stadium seat, toilet or even, yes, the kitchen sink.

cumb.jpgSay what you will about the band, and lord knows people have, but it is an organization steeped in amazing, ridiculous traditions. In fact, Columbia’s best tradition is probably the semi-annual “Orgo Night,” when the band invades the library at 11:59 the night before the Organic Chemistry final exam and mayhem ensues. We even had a secret equation (yes, we were nerds): G(tb)2. I’m not allowed to tell you what that means, but rest assured, it’s not that interesting.

Anyway, flashback to 1995. During a “rehearsal” one of the drummers (I think) said, “Hey, let’s go play outside of the Late Show studio and see if they put us on TV.” A couple days later we did exactly that, and amazingly, it worked! We got to go on stage and play one of the Columbia Fight Songs (“Who Owns New York”) as the credits rolled. Letterman’s response sums it up: “Hey, how about that Columbia University Marching Band? (Shrugs.) How about their uniforms? (Shrugs again.)”

A couple weeks later, Letterman sent us a check to “get some real uniforms.”

I couldn’t find a video of the appearance anywhere, but I still have the “real uniform” we got with the money. It still fits! Check me out!

Here’s the official rendition of the story from the CUMB archives.

UPDATAE: As promised, my mom digitized the video. Here it is. I’m a dork.