i never was a big fan of the cutesy trendy reimaginings of characters in comics but the fact female characters are only subjected to it– on top of how shallowly it’s always executed –has just made me hate it. like if batgirl and starfire and spider-woman and whoever else have become more about whatever art style they’re drawn in now rather than their strengths and merits as characters, i expect the men to get the same treatment TBH. where is my sparkly shoujo-influenced batman series?? i think it’s due
“I never had any illusions that my kids were going to be “cool” or “popular;” I’ve met their parents, and… yeah, the deck was stacked against them from the beginning. Plus I’m a firm believer in the notion of doing what you love, surrounding yourself with a few trusted compadres, and not worrying about the rest of it. This means I shouldn’t have been surprised when marching band first took over our lives and brought along so many fantastic benefits, but I never claimed to be all that swift on the uptake.
If you’re hesitating—don’t. Trust me, marching band is not just the dorky kids in terrible uniforms. I mean, yes, it is dorky kids in terrible uniforms, but it is also so much more than that, and it’s wonderful. (Plus, hey, it turns out many of those dorky kids are hilarious, and/or brilliant, and/or they transform into self-assured young adults over time. And I am not just saying that because I adore my own geeklings; it’s totally true.) Let me take you through the magic that is high school marching band.
The uniforms are terrible. As already acknowledged, no one on the planet looks good in a marching uniform. This is not a bad thing. While the cheerleaders are making sure their high ponytails are just so, the girls in the band are simply stuffing their hair into their shakos (yes, the dorky hats have a special name) and forgetting about it. You know who looks stupid in a marching band uniform? That awkward, pimply kid who snorts when he laughs. You know who else looks stupid in a marching band uniform? The drum-playing Ashton Kutcher lookalike all the girls are giggling over. Everyone. Stupid uniforms are the great unifier. The playing field is completely level (pun intended) for the band kids on the fraught topic of looks, and this can be a real relief for kids who are constantly worrying if they measure up.
Those terrible uniforms are dry-clean only. In the recent past I’ve have two different friends with sports-playing teens send me pictures of giant mountains of laundry and encroaching piles of smelly pads and other equipment, lamenting the stench and work that is being a sports parent. We have none of that. The uniforms get sent out for cleaning, and for most of the season here in the south, the kids are wearing as little as possible under said uniforms, because it’s a bazillion degrees outside. No laundry monsters for us! (Just, uh, resist the urge to sniff their marching shoes. You’re welcome. Sprinkle some baking soda in them periodically and stay back.)
Marching band directors are saints among us.
Any high school that has a marching band worth its salt is run by a band director anchored by four guiding principles:
1) A love of music.
2) A love of teenagers.
3) Expectation of complete dedication.
4) Zero tolerance for shenanigans.
I know this is true in our band, and in talking with other band families, we’ve all concluded it’s universally true, because there is no other way a high school music teacher can turn a hundred-odd hormone-addled adolescents into a well-oiled production machine. The marching band director will push your child to excellence in a way that settles for nothing less, but somehow he’ll do it in a way that your kid will love. (Don’t ask me how. I can’t even get this kid to pick up her socks off the floor, so clearly the band director possesses superpowers.) The work that gets done on the field is amazing enough, but it doesn’t end there—this extra set of watchful eyes brooks no transgressions elsewhere, either. There is a code of conduct and it is taken very seriously. Which leads us to…
… Band kids are the best kids, period.
In a lifetime of observing different groups and activities where teens congregate, I can say without reservation that the marching band is absolutely the least homogenous, in the sense that there are kids from every part of the school and all different circumstances. Other activities tend to bring like kids together, and somehow band is different. This will put your kid with some kids they’d never meet, otherwise. But the way in which they’re all alike is that they’re all really good kids. They work hard in school, they work hard in band, and remember how the director doesn’t tolerate shenanigans? They meet that code of conduct or they disappear. That’s it. There’s no nudge-nudge-wink-wink or “I didn’t see that” in band culture the way there is in some team sports. The kids are expected to be awesome at all times. As a result, most of the kids are awesome at all times. No, they don’t stop being teenagers, but there is a family atmosphere and acceptance of all among the band kids that I’ve yet to see anywhere else. It’s a safe place, and I don’t know about your teen, but for my teen, that’s been a godsend.
Musicians do better at everything.
Okay, maybe not everything, but the benefits of music education are well-documented. Being in marching band gives your teen everything from a leg up on the SATs to a decreased chance of using drugs. Trust me, band kids don’t have time for any of that, anyway. Ever heard the saying that a busy teenager is a happy teenager? Band kids are busy.
Marching band is great exercise for the exercise-averse.
We’re not a family of obese couch potatoes, but neither are we particularly sporty and outdoorsy. I don’t know if you know this, but marching around in 100+ degree weather is really, really hard. It requires a great deal of physical stamina, and it’s often requiring it of kids who would rather chew off their own arms than run laps. Know what’s awesome? The fact that they’re concentrating on their music totally distracts those kids from the fact that they’re getting a workout.
The marching band usually gets to go on awesome trips.
Sure, other teams get to travel, too, but our band has gone to some amazing places and events, and then they’re there with this take-no-crap band director and a group of good kids, which means peace of mind.
Two words: Band Camp.
The greatness that is the periodic, dead-serious interjection of, “This one time? At Band Camp?” into everyday conversation cannot be overstated. Or maybe that’s just our family, but really, it never stops”
The Giggling Valar Clouds & the Ghostly PeanutGallery
It’s true that the Purple Valar Cloud No.1 cannot draw to save her soul. She leaves that particular type of artistic pursuit to the other Valar Clouds.
She does, however, have a soft spot for Tony Stark. Pretty much nearly all of the Valar Clouds have soft spots for Tony, to be honest. And as much as he wants to stay in that Famous River in Egypt, he’s going to have to Face Facts.
Also, Tony is not crazy. That needs to be stressed. Okay, maybe not any nuttier than usual. The Howlies all have massive soft spots for Tony as well, maybe because Howard had so epically screwed up the raising of him. So they take turns looking out for Tony Stark. He’s a bit of a handful.
They now have even more sympathy for Bucky because of this. Because all the Howlies knew that Bucky led the charge when it came to looking after their Captain. And Steve was just as bad and they ought to know, because they were at Ground Zero when all the shenanigans Steve Rogers could get into happened.
Howard is … well, it’s hard to accurately depict what Howard Stark is currently doing in the afterlife. There’s a lot of moping. A lot of regrets. There’s certainly a lot of pride. And love, most of all. Howard’s a bit of a mess.
He’d like to tell Tony that the Ghostbusting Proton Pack could work if he calibrated certain things to this specific setting but Tony’s not in the mood to listen anyway. So he’s going to visit Peggy instead - it won’t be long now, before Peggy joins the Peanut Gallery with all the rest of them. She’s more than earned her rest.
Tony’s pretty busy these days, what with refining the clean energy project, the new SHIELD, helping Director Phil Coulson and his merry band of Ducklings and doing Avengers business. He’ll never admit this, but he enjoys it each time Steve reveals his inner troll - Bucky says punk - but hey, it’s the 21st century so troll it is. Tony’s almost sure that Steve’s actually managed to master far more of modern technology than everyone thinks. Steve just enjoys playing up the Confused Ninety Year Old Act.
So Tony wants to think that he doesn’t have time for magic, supernatural shenanigans and wisecracks from a Ghostly Peanut Gallery and Giggling Clouds of Doom. He’s too busy.
And by the way, Bucky did not appreciate having “War Bride” as his new codename. Thanks ever so much, Ghost! Dum Dum, you asshole. So there. Tony’s ignoring. Tony’s good at ignoring. He is not seeing a thing. Not hearing anything either but good ol’ AC/DC on his state of the art speakers. No giggling. No smartass remarks. Yeah. Working on the Ghostbusting Proton Pack here. Move along. Nothing to see. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.
“Tony, why do you have the Clouds hanging around?”
The Clouds. That’s the first thing that registers in Tony’s head when he turns around and sees Steve Rogers in his workshop. For once, Tiny! Cap does not have his perpetual shadow with him, although Tony can tell that the loose long-sleeved shirt that Steve’s currently wearing that is several sizes too large is actually Bucky’s. And he’s not going to look too closely at the interesting marks on Steve’s neck.
Wait.What Steve said. “The Clouds, Tiny Cap?”
Steve shrugs. “I’ve always seen them hanging around. Not all the time. Usually out of the corner of my eyes. And then I hear the giggling. They’re nice."
There’s more giggling. And there’s some muffled swearing and ohshit Cap can see us and wonder if he’s gonna be sore at me for the SNRFB thing.
"Not sore over the SNRFB thing. I think it’s kinda cute,” Steve says wryly.
Tony, well, Tony does the Sane, Sensible Thing when confronted by the fact that Captain America and he are sharing the Same Hallucination. He faints.