Rule #4: Eat red meat

Rule #4: Eat red meat

One of the 10 rules that Nick Offerman revealed to a sold out audience at the Royal Oak Music Theatre on Friday, Feb. 8, was simply that. Eat more red meat. No explanation necessary.

Nick Offerman after he achieved brief nudity for the Royal Oak audience on Feb. 8, 2013. Photo credit: Alyssa Firth

NBC’s Parks and Recreation star and founder of Offerman Woodshop recently decided that he had a lot to say to audiences after being invited to several college campuses to speak. Each night of his American Ham tour begins with the comedian and actor walking on stage, shirtless, carrying a guitar and a star spangled shirt.

“Brief nudity was promised… Achieved.”

Thus begins a night of life lessons that, really, anyone can appreciate, but more so with the omnivore crowd. Offerman, who is a real-life, more talkative version of his character Ron Swanson, pleased the Michigan crowd quickly when he said there wasn’t any better type of Coney Island than the simple chili, onions, mustard and cheese combo. Someone in the audience opposed the cheese and Offerman replied: “I will have cheese on my God damn Coney if I please, sir.”

Taking no crap from the audience from the beginning set the tone for the night with not only respect for the experienced theatre actor, but a night of never-ending laughter. The 10 rules to live a successful life were intertwined with Offerman’s personal anecdotes that were not only hilarious, but let you in on what shapes the Ron Swanson-type man.

The first rule, engage in romantic love, extended into a delightful expression of love for his wife of 10 years, actress Megan Mullaly, who also stars on the NBC as Swanson’s frightening ex-wife. Simply put, feel free to love and don’t be ashamed of it.

Next, remember to say “please” and “thank you,” always carry a handkerchief (because it makes you a better person, obviously), and again, eat red meat. Offerman has no qualms with Ron Swanson’s passion for all things meat and told the crowd that, “We’re making a mockery of eating animal flesh and it will not stand in my house.”

The fifth rule is to find a hobby or discipline. It makes for a happier individual according to Offerman and teaches you more than just the skill at hand.

The next rule is another obvious of Swanson: Go outside. Get fresh air, get off Twitter and be happier. Offerman said he tried Twitter for a brief time and left the social media site soon after because of how easily he became addicted to the site. Going outside also leads you to being with friends and loved ones more often than hanging out by yourself, trapped in a Tumblr-Twitter-Facebook-Reddit stupor.

“Eight people and one beer is more fun than one person and eight beers,” he said.

Rule seven: Avoid the mirror. If you don’t look at yourself, you don’t have to feel self-conscious. Easier said than done, but he makes a valid point.

No anecdote was funnier than the story to go along with his eighth rule, “Maintain a relationship with Jesus Christ… if it gets you sex.” Without going into too much detail, it involved a 4-year relationship Offerman had in high school with an extremely good-looking Christian girl and the intense temptation the two felt (and often couldn’t resist).

Rule 9: Use intoxicants. To each his own according to Offerman. He couldn’t deny the pleasures of any intoxicant to any individual, although he remained sober throughout his performance.

The final rule, the most important, is to “Paddle your own canoe.” Make your own choices and create your own path. If you want something, go out and get it because there’s no reason not to work hard for something you believe you can do.

Ron Swanson: A man’s man. Nick Offerman: A pretty wise and intelligent guy with a lighthearted, awesome take on life.

The American Ham tour may or may not come back to Michigan, but here’s the ten rules to live by for your convenience:

1. Engage in romantic love
2. Remember to say “please” and “thank you”
3. Always carry a handkerchief
4. Eat red meat
5. Find a hobby or discipline
6. Go outside
7. Avoid the mirror
8. Maintain a relationship with Jesus Christ…….. if it gets you sex
9. Use intoxicants
10. Paddle your own canoe

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Inside MSU’s Headphones: April

Inside MSU’s Headphones: April

You know the saying, “April showers brings new, interesting music.” That’s not it? Okay, well this month we heard a lot of new songs, a lot of old songs, and again, more Lady Gaga and Wiz Khalifa. Yet with the sun shining on this particular day of surveying students, we got PLENTY of songs from your fellow Spartans.

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Inside MSU’s Headphones: February

Inside MSU’s Headphones: February

It’s been two long months since we last found out what fellow students were listening to, and now we finally get to hear what new (and old) music they’re rocking out to on their walk to and from Wells Hall.

This really has become the most interesting social experiment I get to test every month. I’ve learned quite a few things about those who use their headphones as a means to ignore you, including that they will even give you eye contact before they promptly walk away! No harm done, however, as plenty of students were more than willing to tell us what they listen to. The bridge near Wells seems to be the most musically inclined area, so watch below to find out the music blasting through those headphones. (And keep watching for a cameo from MSU’s real mascots.)

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Inside MSU’s Headphones: December

Inside MSU’s Headphones: December

This month, I chose a different location for some samplings of student songs. The library is teeming with people the weeks before and during finals week, so I was sure I’d get some good responses. I was right, but after this third round of queries, I’ve learned a few things about students:

1. We have a wide variety of musical tastes at MSU.

2. Someone is always listening to Amy Whinehouse.

3. Someone is always listening to Wiz Khalifa.

4. People often use their headphones as a reason to not talk to you.

5. Every one who does answer is happy you asked!

This month’s mix is pretty interesting, and would be a good playlist to finish up your studying. Watch the video below to see what gets people in the mood… to study, of course.

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Inside MSU’s Headphones: November

Inside MSU’s Headphones: November

November has brought us unexpectedly warm weather and sudden snow fall. Yet rain or shine, MSU students are always listening to music as they trek to and from class. I know I always want to know what they’re listening to, so once again, I’ve used my privileges as Arts & Culture editor to find out for myself. Watch the video below to see the music tastes of even more students!

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Inside MSU’s Headphones: October

Inside MSU’s Headphones: October

Sitting on the bus, walking to class, riding down Farm Lane on your bike… Do you ever wonder what the person next to you is listening to? They may seem completely entranced in their music or they may be mouthing the lyrics. Or maybe, you can actually hear what’s blasting through those headphones. Either way, you’ll never really know unless you ask them, like we did!  After witnessing Ty Currell’s video in New York City over the summer (click here to watch), TBG thought it would be interesting what you’re listening to. Watch the video below to see what Spartans have on their playlist.

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Q&A: Michael Lomenda of <i>Jersey Boys</i>

Q&A: Michael Lomenda of Jersey Boys

By Alyssa Firth

Jersey Boys, a musical based on the life of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, has just finished up with its run at the Wharton Center. I had an opportunity to speak with Michael Lomenda while he toured in Omaha, Nebraska last month. Born and raised in Alberta, Canada, Lomenda tells TBG about how he got his start in musicals and what everyday life is like for a star in Jersey Boys.

Michael Lomenda, photo courtesy of David Leyes

Alyssa Firth: I haven’t seen the play, but I know your character is Nick. Can you describe him a little bit?

Michael Lomenda: Nick is the bassist of the group. He sings bass and he also plays bass, the instrument and he’s sort of the quiet, silent type, you know? He doesn’t say a whole lot in the group, but he’s credited by Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli as sort of the arranger of the group. He created a lot of the great vocal arrangements and also Frankie sometimes talks about him as the guy who helped him early on with his voice and coaching his voice early on, so Frankie’s got a pretty distinctive style so that’s kind of an awesome credit to his name.

AF: When and where did you start performing?

ML: When did I start performing? That’s a good question.

You know, it was sort of a young thing. I guess I kind of got into it early on. My dad was a pro hockey player in the states in the 70s and I kind of didn’t take to that, so I think my parents wanted to get their kids involved in something, so I kind of took to the arts and started early on playing classical piano and all that kind of stuff. And then performing wise, I sort of kind of fell into it.

My small town was like population 5,000, so there wasn’t a whole lot of opportunity you’d think, but actually there was a surprising amount of opportunity. A young sort of drama teacher, an art teacher, came in and took me under their wing and it got me into the arts and gave me a lot of really great opportunities to perform and work with some great folks. And then I sort of moved out to Toronto for three years for Sheridan College which was a music theatre program and I had previously taken a year of acting in Alberta at Red Deer College and a bunch of my buddies were, you know, wanting to go on a trip to Toronto. It’s a four hour flight away from where I was taking school.

I said, “Sure, let’s go. Let’s go for a fun time. I’ll audition for this school.” And meanwhile, just really wanted to go out and have a good time and then I went to school, actually got into a school for three years and then it’s been around 10 years that I’ve been performing.

AF: I know you just rejoined the cast. Is this your first time being back with them or when did you come back?

ML: Well the Toronto Company was done in August of 2010 and there was about a six month hiatus where I did other shows and things like that and then they gave me a call and said they wanted me to come down and join this tour, the first national in Miami, because the guy who was playing Nick was going on a bit of a vacation. So I flew down to Baltimore and then I rehearsed with them in Baltimore for a week and then flew with them to Miami for three weeks, which was great, and then another five or six months passed and then they gave me a call and said they wanted me to come down as sort of a permanent person on tour. So I flew in not yesterday, but the day before, so I flew in Wednesday and I did some press in the morning. On Thursday I had to put in some rehearsal which is basically just, you know, you’re on stage with the cast and then last night I did my first show.

AF: How did that go?

ML: I think it went okay, this is certainly a very, I would say, a typical rehearsal process. Usually you get a couple more days to rehearse Usually you get your bearings, so this is a pretty fast process for me. It was kind of a roller coaster, but I think it went across okay.

AF: What’s an average day of rehearsal and performance for you?

MK: Well, we do eight shows a week and sometimes it changes. The schedules will change; different cities warrant different schedules. Usually you have evening performances around 8 or 7:30 and so you get up and I mean most theatre folks are not early risers because we sort of work at night, but I get up and go to the gym and grab a breakfast. I mean, I’m really excited about touring around the states and seeing the cities so I’ll be out, you know, being a geeky tourist, you know, taking in all the sights and going to the art galleries and all that stuff. Then basically, go for a half hour call for your evening show and some people arrive earlier, some people arrive later, but you have to be there at half hour, so I prefer to be there about 45 minutes early. And then you know you do your show and if there’s a rehearsal, they’ll call you during the day for probably about four hours and, you know, it’s pretty casual. Everybody sort of knows the rhythm of things around here, so they’ll go in for a rehearsal and work on whatever they need to and then we’ll go for dinner and then we do a show.

Yeah pretty simple. I think a lot of people think that we rehearse a lot and that’s not to say that we don’t. Sometimes there’s a lot of people coming and going from a company for whatever reason, whether they’re new swings or vacations or all that kind of stuff, that are coming in and things like that. There is a lot of rehearsal and lately there’s been a lot of rehearsal, but for the most part, you know, we have our weeks pretty much free which is great.

AF: What do you do personally to prepare for your role besides with the cast?

ML: Well, individually there’s of course I mean it’s sort of funny. The hair is kind of one of the big things about the period. It’s sort of 50s, 60s, 70s and if you go and look at some of those pictures online of that era and those guys during that era, they had some pretty awesome hair. So the hair takes a little bit of time cause you’re using- I certainly use a lot more hair gel and spray than I would use in my hair on a daily basis that’s for sure.

A lot of people do a vocal warm up, which is kind of key. especially Frankies. I know Frankies have very personalized, very specific warm up that helps them sing that hefty role. I mean, they sing 27 songs in the show and I think there’s like only 30 or something like that so they’re pretty much on stage for the whole show. They have a really extensive warm up. And like I said, it’s very specific. Some people don’t eat certain things during the day, like milk products and stuff like that because it’s harder to sing, but for me personally, I like to go to the gym ahead of time to get my body warmed up.

I get to the theatre about an hour to 45 minutes ahead of time and I like to go around and sort of chat with everybody and see how their day’s going and you know, just sort of connect with them cause we’re going to connect on stage in about an hour and it’s important to sort of touch base with everybody and then I start you know getting ready. I shave everyday, you put your hair on, you get your mic, you know, and you have to get all wired up and then you just sort of take your time to focus and do a little bit of a vocal warm up and what not and then you’re ready to go

AF: Did you always see yourself performing in broadway musicals? Was it what you had planned in the beginning?

ML: My life has a funny way of never really — if I don’t plan things, they just go in an awesome direction. That’s one thing I’ve learned. I just sort of go with the flow and let it take me where I’m going.

I mean certainly when you go to music theatre college and you study to go in the realm of music theatre, I think it’s a goal for everybody to do big, awesome broadway shows, especially like this one.

This is something that is, you know, it’s sort of funny it just kind of happened this way where I’ve come across this role at this point in my life and my career and I think it’s for me it’s been such a wonderful milestone for me to be doing this particular show at this point in my life, in my career. It’s just been the pinocle really for me and so yeah, I guess indirectly it’s been a goal to have something this gratifying to do at this point in my life and career, but I can’t say I’ve totally planned for it. It’s just kind of you know you sort of do your hard work and put your head down and hope that this kind of stuff happens.

AF: Have you performed at the Wharton Center before?

ML: No I haven’t. I have not actually been to Michigan before so I’m super excited. I’m doing my research online so that I can go around, pick up on all the history and all the arts and culture and night life and all that stuff, so I’m excited.

AF: Out of all the places you’ve performed, what’s your favorite city that you’ve been to?

ML: Well, I can say I was on a cruise ship at one point so I saw a lot of cities internationally that I loved and I went back to Barcelona and those things, but you know, it’s funny. It’s hard because I think every city is so different and there are  things like I’m noticing Omaha is really receptive to this show and they’re really excited and they’re listening and they’re great folks down here. And other times I’ve performed in audiences that are just bouncing off the walls and raucous and dancing in the aisles and you know.

So every audience is different, but they all seem to kind of, for this particular show, they all seem to kind of get up on their feet at the end of it. It’s kind of unreal. It’s like this crazy, phenomenon that this show has created and every night people are just up and dancing in the aisles and singing and you know, it’s kind of the unreal job to do, to be able to bring this story to everybody every night and have them walk out every night humming the tunes and being so excited about it

AF: We are a university, so what piece of advice would you give to an aspiring theatre student?

ML: Well, I think nowadays with the advent of you know American Idol and that kind of stuff, I think you now theatrically speaking, a lot more people seem to be interested in getting into music theatre which is awesome. And Glee and all that kind of stuff.

It’s really sort of changing the face of music theatre and I would say there’s just a lot of hard work that’s involved in doing what we do, which is sort of implicit in any career, but I think the key to it all is that you have to love it enough to get through the rough times because I think that’s where people tend to fall off in this career. You have to just know within your heart of hearts that you love performing and that you love the arts and all that kind of stuff enough to dedicate your life to it. Even when you’re working another job and running out and doing auditions and it can be really hectic and hard on you sometimes, you just have to make sure that that love is deeply routed within you. And I think also you have to really get to know yourself cause I think the best thing for artists and for people who perform is life experience and I think if you are limited with your life experience sometimes that can limit you as an artist, too, and I think that getting the most out of life and experiencing life to it’s fullest really informs you as an artist and really sort of puts your eyes and ears and your senses and I think that’s kind of a key to being a really detailed, exciting artist.

AF: Anything else you want to tell us about the show?

ML: Personally, I think this is a show that connects to a lot of people, not only because of the music because I think the music is sort of spanned so many decades and I think that’s why there’s so many different age groups that come to this show cause these guys just made incredible music for so many decades so I think it’s connected to so many people, but I think what people kind of want out of Jersey Boys is kind of a surprise about the story behind all of this music. I think it’ s kind of cool. It’s a backstage sort of pass to the goings on of this group of four blue collar guys who rose to fame and just kind of fell apart. And I think it surprises people cause it gets you with the story just as much as the music and that’s, I think, why people keep coming back and people are feeling so connected to this and that’s a really really special, incredible thing.

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Playlist: Homegrown

Playlist: Homegrown

Michigan is perfect growing crops AND musicians! Check out these local bands and artists who are working their way to the top.


Hometown: Detroit

Genre: “Bop” or “Tropical” (according to their Facebook and Myspace)

Why you should check them out: They love Detroit! They constantly do shows at home and go out on tour. Their sound isn’t quite calming, but isn’t quite loud and I don’t know that I would quite call it tropical, but it would definitely fit in on the island scene. Definitely an indie band with their own unique style.

Check them out on Facebook or their website.

Tree Hut Kings

Hometown: Ann Arbor and East Lansing, MI

Genre: Jazz/Funk

Why you should check them out: True to the area, Tree Hut Kings constantly play at the Loft in Lansing. This four piece band packs a lot of punch into their groove-inspired songs, and they love to jam!

Check them out on Facebook or their website.

The Satin Peaches

Hometown: Detroit

Genre: Rock

Why you should check them out: Again, lovers of Detroit. But much different sound than the above band. Influenced by classic rock, Satin Peaches add their own modern sound and give a dedicated, energetic show.

Check them out on Facebook or their website.

Abigail Stauffer

Hometown: Ann Arbor

Genre: Acoustic/Folk

Why you should check her out: She’s fresh out of college and it’s not even for music! Linguistics major at U of M, Abigail writes and records her own musics and constantly performs in Michigan. Inspired Regina Spektor and Sufjan Stevens (another homegrown artists), Abigail has a soft and delicate sound with a lot of emotion.

Check her out on Facebook and her website.

Frontier Ruckus

Hometown: Metro Detroit

Genre: “Minutia-Obsessed Memorialism” according to their Facebook, but I’d say acoustic/folk

Why you should check them out: Up and coming and impressing many, Frontier Ruckus recently played a show at the Loft that many students enjoyed. I hear banjo, I hear keyboard, I hear trumpet and many other instruments in their, as they put it, “existential” sound. Very interesting sound, but not in a bad way.

Check them out on Facebook or their website.

Got any homegrown bands that you love to listen to?? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Playlist: MSU Shares Their Playlists

Playlist: MSU Shares Their Playlists

Ever been curious about what the guy next to you is listening to on his iPod? Perhaps he’s blasting those headphones and you can already hear it, but chances are, you never will. Here’s a peak at what some of your fellow MSU students are listening to. The list is varied, but if it’s someone’s favorite song, it must be good. Check them out!

1. Bonafied Lovin’ by Chromeo

Apparel and textile senior and TBG associate editor Tess Theisen


2. High School Art Class by Pretty Lights

Communications junior Michelle McIntyre


3. For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti by Sufjan Stevens

James Madison sophomore Evan Martinak


4. Getting Jiggy With It by Will Smith

English sophomore Cody Manthei


5. Barbra Streisand by Duck Sauce

Journalism senior John Allison


6. Furr by Blitzen Trapper

Secondary education sophomore Sofia Kuczer


7. Sunrise by Norah Jones

Chemical engineering junior Chelsea McCord


8. I’d Lie by Taylor Swift

Packaging engineering freshman Lauren Wilson


9. She Said She Said by The Beatles

James Madison freshman Art Klein


10. World News by Local Natives

Journalism sophomore Kate Vogel


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Playlist: Heartbroken or Full of Love?

Playlist: Heartbroken or Full of Love?

Valentine’s Day is notoriously a divided holiday. Those who are in relationships tend to love it and those who are not, shockingly, tend to despise it and make loud statements to let the world know. Whether you find yourself alone or with your snuggle-puss this Valentine’s Day, here are a few songs to heighten the soundtrack to your evening.

Alone? Sad? Or not sad? Listen to these:

1. Flight of the Conchords — I’m Not Crying
Obviously you’re not torn apart by the love of your life, the apple of your eye, breaking your heart. Why would you be crying?

2. Kelly Clarkson — Since U Been Gone
Don’t even deny it–everybody has listened to this song at least once in their life and, even if only for a split second, thought, “Heck yeah my life is the bees knees without you!” (Maybe you used different vocabulary, but you know the feeling just the same).


3. The Beatles — Yesterday
Classic and always relatable. Love makes sense till the next day, then you sit there puzzled and wondering what went wrong. This being the most recorded song in history with over 2,500 covers (according to Rolling Stone), you’re not alone.


4. A Fine Frenzy — Almost Lover
Okay, if you really are feeling down and just want to cry, listen to this. Singer Alison Sudol has one of those voices that makes you want to crawl up in a ball and sob because she’s saying every word you wish you had thought of yourself and singing it with every torn up feeling. Cry it out, it’s okay.


5. Justine Timberlake — Cry Me A River
Maybe you’re alone on V-Day cause you hate that person and want them to suffer. Who knows? JT speaks it well. You don’t do that to JT, and no one does it to you! Cry ME a river!


With someone? So happy you want the world to know it? Listen to these:

1. Coldplay — Yellow
This song has a spot on my personal list of perfect songs. The rhythm is just right, it’s not too loud or too soft, and Chris Martin is saying, “You’re so awesome! I love you! So I wrote a song about you! Wow, you!”


2. The Beatles — Something
Yes, it’s The Beatles again, but if anyone knows me, I have a problem and won’t ever stop listening to them. “Something” is the second most recorded Beatles song in history, and undeniably so. Excellent, to say the least.


3. Vampire Weekend — Run
“It struck me that the two of us should run.” Run away to be in love? Maybe so, but to get away from the loudness and confusion of everyday life. Nice song to listen to regardless of your situation, but nicer when you have someone to run away with.


4. Regina Spektor — Us
This one’s a no brainer. Whether you’ve been listening to it since it came out on Soviet Kitsch in 2004, or since 500 Days of Summer came out, it’s lovely either way. Regina belts it on all her songs, and this is one of the few on being in love and purely enjoying it.


5. Marvin Gaye — Let’s Get It On
Do I really need to explain this one?


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