Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fun things to do as a Scorpion

I mentioned in an earlier post how there are a lot of fun things to do as a Scorpion.
Recently I was called out on it, and initially I drew a blank.
But then I thought to myself...I had a hell of a lot of fun as a Scorpion. I should be able to talk about a lot of things.

"But, Eagleheart, it's BROWNSVILLE!"

Yeah, I know.
However, being how I believe Brownsville IS the college and the college IS Brownsville, I have an entire city from where I can draw ideas about 'fun things to do as a Scorpion.'

Being a commuter school offers us a series of advantages and disadvantages when compared to our elder and uglier sister in Edinburg. (Yeah, I said it.) There's still a lot of fun things to do as a Scorpion. Sure, we may not be perfect, but we're a damned sight better than other universities.
I am adding the 'downside' to things in order to keep some objectivity.

1. Residential/Student Life
Cons: Our full-time resident population is pretty low, so we don't get to have the OMGAWESOMEPARTIES that may be prevalent at other universities. (Compare UH - commuter school, with Texas A&M College Station). Age/gender disparity is also an issue, as the average UTB/TSC student is a woman in her mid-twenties.
I remember that throughout my three and a half years at the University, I was always the youngest, or among the youngest in my class, no matter if I was 18, 19, 20, 21, or 22.
Pros: Given that our dorms used to be a flippin' hotel, they're bigger.
That's one bit.
The rest:
We may not have the vibrant residential life seen in other schools, owing to the smaller numbers of residents, BUT we make up for it by turning other houses in town into party places. I think it is written somewhere that "When two or more Scorpions are gathered in my midst, there is a party."

2. Brownsville
Cons: It's Brownsville. It's hot, there's no [insert hipster thrift store / forever 21 / barnes and noble / games workshop / random store in Austin or Houston ], if you can't speak a lick of Spanish you can't get anywhere, and people value football as they value religion.
Pros: Because of our university and our unique position in the border, we have a large city. We're the crown jewel of the Rio Grande Valley. And Scorpions are a big part of it.
See, without our university, we wouldn't have people needing to destress locally.
Let's face it...there's majors in campus that give you a good reason to need an outlet for pent-up frustrations.
Unlike Austin, people born here have a fair shot at being Scorpions.
Unlike Houston, everything's accessible.
If I have a tough week at school, I'd like to be able to have places to release pent-up frustrations The bar scene in Brownsville is great, if you'll excuse the occasional fight. There's karaoke night at Bennigans, live music for decent prices at The Bar, hike along the bike paths, play pick-up games at Morningside, Lincoln, or Brownsville Sports Park, go out to eat at any of our fine dining establishments (being so close to the border lets us have REAL tacos), for more intellectual pursuits we've got an ass-load of museums, a playhouse, a strong [albeit hidden] support for the arts, 2 battlefields, and for those so-inclined, endless opportunities to hone chess skills.
The city is quite literally your playground, Scorpions.
Any other city in the valley, you'd be like...uh, so what do we do now?
Brownsville and McAllen are the only cities in the RGV where the "What's there to do?" lists aren't topped by "1. - go to South Padre"

3. Athletics
Cons: Football dominates Valley and Brownsville life.
Pros: Association football [soccer] is a rising force. I mean it. If you get a chance to catch the Scorpions play at the REK Center field, do so. If it's a weekend game you'll see slightly-mitigated passion, but it'll be reminiscent of watching a game at any big-name stadium in the north.
Minus the urine-filled ziplocks thrown at the referee.
I was particularly entertained by Porter High School's Barra, a group of Porter HS graduates studying at UTB/TSC who turned out for several games with drums and combined with the existing REK-Center cheering squad.
In my articles, I began to label them the Scorpion Ultras, and they were always there at the games, with orange and blue-painted faces and apparel, for both men's and women's soccer teams. These are people that just make you WANT to be a Scorpion.
Then there's of course, the Premier Development League's Rio Grande Valley Bravos, with four Scorpions on their roster, now. Hell, it's not MLS but I'd rather watch a bunch of lower-division kids play amateur football than watch "Real" Salt Lake and New York Red Bull play grabass with each other.
Then there's the futbol rapido leagues played off in 511 by the airport. If you get a chance and don't mind the mosquitoes, those games (a number of Scorpions play in that league) are quite fun to watch, too.
But back to the university.
We've got a kickass volleyball team and our baseball team is no longer the mediocre team it was a few years ago.
Sure, you're thinking that since we don't play in the NCAA Division I, we're kinda shitty.
Well, no. We play in the NAIA, which is, competitively, between NCAA Division II and III.
And in our conference, we're dominant.
I'd much rather reign in hell than serve in heaven, if you catch my drift.
I'll give you that in 2009 we caught beatings from U. New Mexico and UT-Pan Am's baseball teams. But when it came time for soccer and volleyball, we slaughtered NCAA division I and II rivals in soccer and volleyball. My favorites were the women's soccer team routing Texas Southern University (3-1 at the REK Field and 5-1 on the road) and the volleyball team consuming UTPA at their own fieldhouse.
And the men's soccer team, well...I've seen them deal 12-0 beatings on other RRAC teams.
Pretty hilarious.

4. Conclusion.
Life is as fun as you make it. "There's nothing to do" is a shit excuse.
If you're stuck here and waiting to CAP out to UT or a bigger school, keep your foot on the ground and enjoy it here while your time is out. It sucks sometimes, yeah, but everything's got its ups and downs. There are no perfect universities.
If you were off at a fancier school and came back for X reason, welcome back and we hope you'll enjoy your stay. I would suggest remember your old school fondly (or not so fondly if you got out because they screwed you over), but don't take it out on UTB/TSC. Our colleges are different, and every experience is different than the rest. So we're sorry you're not going to get to do a ring dunk, but hey, with time, you can build your own tradition.
Being a Scorpion is fun, and if it isn't to you, you have to MAKE it fun.
People will give you shit for it, definitely, as there are some of you out there who've been given flak by people who went to other "big-name" schools. Tell them to fuck off. A diploma from a prestigious university might get open doors for you, but it won't hold 'em open. You will do that by yourself.
I'm going to paraphrase the Boondock Saints now.
Once you hold those doors open, you shouldn't ask yourself how far can you go.
Ask yourself if you possess the constitution, the depth of faith, to go as far as is needed.

Doesn't get any funner than that.

Sting 'em hard!


In the upcoming issue of the Rio Grande Leviathan, I will analyze the UTB/TSC Board of Trustees race.
Will I back the administration candidates/incumbents, or will I take sides with the populist challengers?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Lately, my mind's been bothersome since there has been [at least, up until yesterday] nothing to do.
So my mind travels.
Travels back and forward through time and dimensions that don't really exist, different planes and states of mind, traveling at an unbelievable speed in order to reach these dimensions within the span of a breath.
In this past-future sight, I go to places and I see them as they were or how they could be. It's strange...just a blink of an eye and then the real world disappears and I'm in a different time. A blink and I'm back.

It's always me in these travels. I take on several forms, but it's always me.
I've traveled the Kanto and Johto regions, flown dragons in Britain, fought alongside and against Napoleon and Salahuddin.
I've sprouted wings off my back and flown over the entire city of Brownsville. I've met imagined death countless times only to be reborn every single time.
And it's always me.
No matter how unreal the situation is, it's always me. I look the same, talk the same, act the same, the only difference is the wings.

It's just strange. I don't know what keeps my imagination so excited.

Anyway, SGA elections are coming up soon, and once I get wind of the candidates, I'll be posting up my own commentary about it :p

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


So I'm back in town.

[looks around at nonexistent audience]

I know you missed me.

A little bit about my return. I unfortunately left Madrid as heartbroken as I left Granada. In my short time I was there, I danced from dusk till down, learned Sevillanas, and was treated to great BBQ by one of my beautiful hosts.

The plane back, however...
I developed a fever mid-flight, a condition which was exacerbated by the fact that I had to put up with the screaming cries of two children for ten hours. Horrible experience compounded by the inedible food. I mean...what's the deal there? It's plastic. What made it worse was seeing the Israeli guy sitting next to me devouring his plate with gusto. Is food in Tel-Aviv that bad that you actually enjoy airline food? In any case, I get back to Dallas, spend a feverish night, come back, stumble across two rejection letters, find that shit is just as I left it, etc.

But I'm better now.

Enjoying myself more, enjoying the outside world more. But, I have to come back to blogging, particularly since there's a particularly delicious topic this week: Bougainvillea.

To the lot of you that aren't familiar with Bougainvillea, it's essentially a prom-type of event that the University of Texas at Brownsville has put on since the year of the nopal. It's a pretty neat event overall.
Last year, I had the opportunity to participating in the event as a candidate, alongside my best friend. These are the observations I drew from my time as a candidate:

1. People take that shit seriously-
Thousands of people vote for their Bougainvillea candidates. Only a few hundred vote for Student Government positions. Though, given the sorry state of affairs in the SGA...and given the sorry candidates that have been running the show for the past few semesters, I can't say I blame them.

2. Campaigns are dirty.
In three and a half years of being around Bougainvillea, it was amazing to see how dirty campaigning got. Two years before I ran there was a big stink going on because one of the candidates was telling people not to vote for X candidate because she was "gorda y fea". Then a year later there was the matter of mutual reporting about rule-breaking going on between candidates. Then during my own campaign, several of our signs were torn from their hinges or simply stolen. Of course during the campaigns there's always administrative involvement of sorts, in some cases covert, and in some cases blatant.

3. People really take that shit seriously
A lot of the candidates, I feel, and I might be wrong, but a lot of them see this as being a chance to be the "royalty" in proms they may not have had a chance of being in high school. I remember walking down in procession and chuckling with my partner at how short our "introductions" were. Then the other candidates went by and we realized that their own introductions were about 2-3 pages long, detailing lifetime and community "achievements" family and friends and of course the exhortation to prayer and a healthy diet and oh my god this is such a special moment in my life.
Which, of course, only made me laugh a little inside, given how our campaign was run on no such premises. We were there to show school spirit, but took the entire thing as seriously as one would take an extra credit assignment.
I mean, it's an honor and it's all in good fun, but come on, people!

4. People take not voting seriously
"I didn't do this shit in high school! I'm too cool to vote!"
Like the people on #3, some people have the same high school mentality, and same chips on the shoulder as they did about people campaigning.
When I ran, I tried my hardest to make these people understand that despite some candidates running for Prom II, there were some of us doing it for the school spirit and to have fun.
But NO.
Either these people see some of the candidates as the spitting image of that jock who jostled them around in high school (which is kind of funny in my perspective, since I was as far removed from a jock in HS as intelligence is to Tea Party members) OR the thought of people having fun was offensive to these people.

To those of you that do this, I have one request for you: Have fun being a Scorpion, even if you think it's strange or stupid.
Case in point:
In Valencia, Spain, there's a week-long event mid-March called Las Fallas, in which the city's neighborhoods all compete with each other to create huge and elaborate floats that are incredibly time-consuming to make. The winner is selected on Friday and then is promptly lit in a huge bonfire and then everyone else sets of fireworks.
Strange....but it's tradition.
And tradition, as a college student, is important.
The way I've always seen things about college in general is that you have to get involved with the campus. If you're a Longhorn you have to party in 6th Street. If you're an Aggie, you have to party in Northgate and BTHO things. If you're a Scorpion, you grin and bear with Bougainvillea (amongside a wide variety of other things that I'll talk about in a later post). Tradition brings people together and allows for a more positive and enriching college experience.
It costs you almost nothing to attend the school, other than the stupid textbooks that are unreasonably expensive, so what's wrong with having a little fun here and there?

I'm not going to tell you who to vote for. That'd spoil the fun.
If I could vote, I'd support my friends Michael Peña and Cleiri Quezada, who are representing The Collegian, the only student voice on campus.
But, feel free to choose whoever :)