Monday, November 22, 2010

You Make It Special Now

This blog is a few days late.

Allow me, please, to introduce you to George N. Parks. He was the director of the UMASS Minuteman Marching Band and the founder of the George N. Parks Drum Major Acadamy. I was one of the last students to attend the acadamy this summer before he passed away recently. You would not believe the presence this man had. You cannot imagine how he could bring over 600 people from roaring with laughter at a joke to silence or tears in a moment with a heartbreaking or inspirational story. I went to the acadamy for drum major training and certification so that I could lead and conduct the band with my fellow drum major, Kim during this fall's football season. Taking a leadership position doesn't just mean doing something that's going to further you or your career goals. When you take a leadership position, you affect other people in ways you cannot possibly comprehend. Mr. Parks knew that, and he knew how to bring out the best in us.

When your friends graduate, when the leaders of clubs or a garage band you're a part of or friends you work with move on and away, you're often left with a new batch of people to take their place. In band, I lost my best friends year after year until this season there were nearly none left. There is a reason for it, though. It's my turn to make band special. It's your turn to make things special for other people. Every word or action that's tied to you has a ripple affect that goes so far you can't see it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Couch Gaming in Extremis

Today I invited some people over from the neighborhood to hang out and play video games. If someone invited you to do this, what would you expect to be doing? I personally imagine friends sitting in front of the TV controllers in hand, laughing about the ridiculous death some character onscreen just suffered. Unfortunately, my friends' idea of it is bringing laptops for the purpose of playing different single-player games in the same room. So here I sit at a computer after so many failed attempts to pull them to the Playstation to play something together, so bored that I actually remembered to do homework for once.

The "good ol' days" of video gaming are often described as going over a friend's house after school or Saturday mornings to hook up the Nintendo 64 or the Playstation 2 to play that new game that just came out or an old favorite. I ask you, my classmates: Is this dead? Are the "good ol' days" gone for good? Have Xbox Live and fast internet connections killed the togetherness and friendship that was always tied into 2-Player Mode? Can we even imagine 2-Player Mode now that we have Call of Duty servers that hold thirty people we don't even know?

There is at least one lighthouse out at the shore. Do you all remember Scott Pilgrim VS. The World? The film that released last August? The no one had a clue what it was supposed to be about? The entire film reminds you of that couch-gaming era, and the video game adaptation takes the nostalgia even further. It's a side-scrolling two-dimensional beat-em-up with sprite art based on the graphic novel series that started it all. One of the most curious features of the game is that it does not feature online multiplayer, despite the fact that the entire game is built on co-operative play. It's easy to see the reason for it now. I now have friends over all the time to play it with me. (Not the particular set of friends I have over today, clearly.) Scott Pilgrim VS. The World has proved to be the most fun I've had playing a video game with friends in a while, and even though I'm not even 18, I can still say "it takes me back."

Do any of you still play games on the couch with friends anymore?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Blind Contributions

When I come into class, I bring with me my mind, full of trivia and quotes and geek culture references I can relate to the material we are studying. I feel I help contribute to the laid back atmosphere of a ten person class and help provide a balance to the group. Some of the students in our class are very prompt and get blogs done first the day our prompts are given to them. They help to preserve the necessary amount of structure to keep us on track, while I balance us out with my procrastinating forgetfulness strategic time management that tends to shake things up. My current plan is to study to teach English myself, so I do pay attention in class and try to analyze whenever I can. I enjoy the work we do, even if I do not get it done on time. I am not a total free spirit, nor am I a rigid person. I do not get things done on time, but I do not just leave an assignment incomplete forever or an outrageous amount of time. I'm a geek, but not a creepy recluse. I am a man of balance, and that is my contribution.