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  • City Slang: Diana Ross to open Freedom Hill season

    Motown legend Diana Ross will open up the Freedom Hill season on Friday, June 13. “We’re thrilled to have one of the greatest Motown singers of all time, Diana Ross, open our facility this season,” said Tom Celani, Owner of Luna Hillside, LLC. “We continue to bring big name talent to our venue and know fans will have a memorable time at this concert and throughout the 2014 season. A press release reads, “Born and raised in Detroit, Ross rose to fame as a founding member and lead singer of the renowned vocal group The Supremes, which, during the 1960s, became Motown’s most successful act and is to this day America’s most successful vocal group. In 1993, the Guinness Book of World Records declared Ross the most successful female music artist in history due to her success in the United States and United Kingdom for having more hits than any female artist in the charts with a career total of 70 hit singles and sold more than 100 million records worldwide with her work with the Supremes and as a solo artist.” Tickets go on sale Friday, April 25 at 10 a.m. Reserved tickets are $39.50, and there are a […]

    The post City Slang: Diana Ross to open Freedom Hill season appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Cover Story

Choose the unusual

Elective courses can sound strange but be very satisfying

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Ultimately, college is a serious academic pursuit — the purpose of investing all that time and money is, after all, to earn a degree that you hope will serve as a kind of passport to the land of your professional dreams. It might seem odd, then, to hear that classes like "American Masculinity in 20th Century American Lit and Film" or "Intermediate Weightlifting" actually exist and that (yes) many students set aside precious credit hours in their already rigorous academic schedules to take them.

Of course, all students hope that their college education will make them more marketable to the world beyond undergrad, but that doesn't always mean sacrificing opportunities to explore weirder, more eccentric interests. And the majority of these opportunities come in the form of elective classes, courses for credit that don't need to be related to a student's major in any way. Most universities actually require that a student take a few electives to challenge their dominant modes of thinking or to pursue interests that aren't so much professional as they are personal or creative — which basically means you can earn actual college credit learning about almost any unusual topic imaginable.

Not all electives are as bizarre as, say, "Man the Animal." Many students find that their favorite electives are those related to their primary academic interests. But rather than being a burden on the typical student's already taxed brain, electives are a chance to explore your field from a new angle, take a class on a subject you've always been curious about or are surprised exists, or, if you're lucky, give your GPA a boost. (Plus, you can't put a price tag on the infinite respect you'll receive from the offbeat academic community if you take "The Science of Harry Potter.") 

With this in mind, we used the ever-helpful tools of social media to ask past and present college students about elective classes that were thought-provoking, surprisingly enjoyable or more on the unusual side. Although the responses we received varied in terms of course subject, a common theme was classes that forced students to think in a different way.

Katy Stringham, who now holds a job in Detroit in the software database industry, took a class on Grimm fairy tales her freshman year at Albion College.

"I chose a Grimms' Fairy Tales class because I grew up on fairy tales and wanted to know why and how they existed," Stringham commented. "Little did I know the original tales have dark and weird happenings. It was a great class to have for a freshman seminar because it made me think outside the box right from the get-go."

Others were drawn to electives that included assignments that differed from those in standard college courses. "Junior year I took a sociology class on global understanding," writes Travis Hlavaty, a senior at University of Michigan. "It was unique in that it used technology to enable the class to video-chat with university students around the globe. I found the differing perspectives on social issues especially enlightening and useful in other courses." In this way, elective classes can serve as a supplement to primary coursework without being redundant.

Electives also offer opportunities to explore trusted college staples with a new tilt. Consider the infamous Psychology 101 in comparison to another class offered by U-M entitled Psychology and Spiritual Development. Recent graduate Michael Moore says the class was enjoyable because "we were not out to memorize facts or cram for exams. We were out to examine our deepest thoughts about ourselves and the world. I learned more about who I am on the deepest level than any other class I took."

If these reasons alone aren't convincing of the benefits of electives, consider that college may be your one (somewhat romanticized) shot to indulge your more unusual interests — at least before your entrance into the so-called real world convinces you that you must take things more seriously. 

Below we have compiled a few of the more fascinating college electives we came across in our research. Whether close to home or far, these electives caught our eye and raised our eyebrows:

Victorian English Literature: One online correspondent told us, "The one college course I have loved the most so far (I just finished my freshman year), was Victorian English Literature. It was my first class where we close-read a text, and we ended up analyzing the novels we studied as a class, and drawing parallels from mythology and contemporary society and within the novels themselves. It was really amazing, since it made me realize that all literature is more like a conversation than just passive entertainment." 

The Science of Harry Potter, Frostberg State University: This recent honors seminar course got our attention, but on a list that included such interesting topics as "Zen Theory and Practice" and "The French: A People Much Like Ourselves." 

How to Watch Television, Montclair State University: Does this mean that if you thought TV was just meant for mind-numbing relaxation, then you've been doing it wrong? Not really: This course teaches students to think critically about the impact of television on culture and its audience through a study of media theory. It's a funny title concealing what sounds like an interesting critique.

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