CLOSE
Original image

6 Great Marching Bands That Never Were

Original image

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back our Marching Band Correspondent, Auburn University's Steven Clontz! You may remember him from his first post, Marching to the Beat of a Different Slide Instrument, which explored variations on the trombone. Or his second, When Good Bands Go Bad. He's back today with the third in a series of four band-centric entries.

Marching band kind of gets the shaft in pop culture, with band geeks serving more often as the nerdy comic relief than leading roles. But in rare cases, someone will weave a story that can only be told by those who hold an instrument in their hand, and wear a shako on their head. So, I respectfully submit to the mental_floss community, the greatest marching bands in fiction. (As a courtesy, I'm excluding any bands that make an appearance on this page, which I wish I never stumbled upon.)

1. The East Great Falls High School Marching Band

american-pie.jpg"This one time, at band camp"¦" was the bane of my existence as a freshman in my high school marching band. Y'see, a little movie called American Pie was released in 1999, and barely a year later, I had the experience of going through my own first band camp ever. As soon as classes began, only a mere mention of my involvement in my school's marching band would be necessary to receive a chorus of "This one time, at band camp"¦" from anyone within earshot.

When I first saw American Pie, I was surprised that the marching band and Michelle, the character who coined that phrase, don't play a huge part in most of the first movie. But since then, American Pie has spawned two sequels, a slew of spin-off movies (including a whole movie about band camp), and an entire generation who associates band camp with the creepiest use for a flute I can think of. So I guess it rightfully deserves its place at the beginning of my list.

Incidentally, American Pie takes place in an alternate universe where people actually go away to a real backwoods summer camp for band. The name of this magical place is called Michigan, which may explain why an Alabama boy such as myself knows nothing of making s'mores in between music rehearsals. In my experience, band camp is nothing more than back-to-back rehearsals, all day, for seven or eight days in a row, followed by a few hours of sleep in my own bed. But perhaps some of you have had the pleasure of a more clichéd band camp experience?

2. The Bikini Bottom Marching Band

Maybe I was a little old to be watching cartoons starring a yellow filter-feeder on the bottom of the sea, even in 2001. But what I could not ignore was that Nickelodeon had just released an episode of SpongeBob Squarepants entitled simply, "Band Geeks".

The plot was your typical Spongebob fare. Squarepants' clarinet-toting, fun-squashing neighbor Squidward Tentacles had to pull a marching band together to perform in the annual Bubble Bowl in just a few days, because he could not bear to admit to his childhood rival Squilliam that he did not really have a band of his own to direct. And while the band performed pitifully at first, in the end they pulled together to support Squidward. The result of which, I am happy to say, can be viewed right now thanks to the wonderful World Wide Intertubes.

And it seems my love for this episode is not alone. According to my cousins Matt and Josh, "Band Geeks" was awarded the honor of being the number one "Nicktoon" ever, just recently. Also neat, their mother tells me that the singer of "Sweet Victory" is actually David Glen Eisley. After chiding me for my lack of Hair Band knowledge, she pointed me to another song he's done, Giuffria's Call To the Heart.

3. Atlanta A&T State University's Blue and Gold Marching Machine

Performing in a historically black college's marching band is a little different from my own band career. But thankfully, I can at least know sort of what it's like to be in a real Battle of the Bands, without fearing I might actually be attacked by one. And it's all thanks to the movie Drumline.

Drumline performed well at the box office, and critically too, with a score of 78% on Rotten Tomatoes. My friends in the band service fraternity Kappa Kappa Psi love it because it KKY is featured prominently. Also, of all the works featured in this article, it's the only one that actually presents marching band like it were just another sport. But I'm actually not a huge fan. Why, you ask? Not enough trombones. I can only pay attention to people banging on some overrated pots and pans for so long before I get bored. I'm still waiting for my coming-of-age story of a high school trumpet player with a heart of gold. But since Drumline is pretty much the only movie in that vein released"¦ ever?"¦ I may be waiting for a while.

4. The Wellsville High School Marching Squids

petepete.jpgI complete my Nickelodeon triumvirate (SpongeBob, Drumline star Nick Cannon of All-That fame, and this) with one of my all-time favorite shows, Pete & Pete. And of course, my favorite episode from the series, "Day of the Dot," would have to be dedicated to their high school marching band. Big Pete (as opposed to his younger brother, Little Pete) grows jealous when his best-friend-slash-obvious-romantic-interest Ellen is given the honor of dotting the "i" in Squid on the marching field. (This tradition is most likely borrowed from The Ohio State University Marching Band.)

At first, Big Pete is happy for Ellen. But things turn foul when she begins to spend more time with her marching partner, James Markle, Jr., than with him. In the end, Big Pete takes things into his own hands, and hijacks the halftime show to prove that there is one force even stronger than even that of a musical marching ensemble "“ the power of love. And while I normally wouldn't even condone breaking rank during a marching band performance, to this day I still have a crush on Alison Fanelli (the actress who played Ellen), so I'll let it all slide.

5. The Westview High School Scapegoat Marching Band

dinkle.gifMy first pair of marching shoes when I got to college were Dinkles. However, I'm sure the World's Greatest Band Director Dr. Harry L. Dinkle was vastly disappointed when my university band of choice decided to switch over to MTXs (Mark Time to the X-treme, dudes).

Okay okay, so I'm probably getting ahead of myself. For the uninitiated, Funky Winkerbean is the quintessential example of marching band in the funny pages. This was true particularly when the strip was first started back in 1972, and the story revolved around several students at Westview High. Notable band characters included Holly Budd, who could always be found walking around school in her majorette uniform, and the aforementioned Dr. Dinkle, the self-proclaimed best band director ever. Fellow band-ites like myself can relate to a fear consistently replicated in a running gag from Funky Winkerbean - every band competition (except for the first one) occurs during a raging monsoon.

In 1992, cartoonist Batuik decided to relaunch the comic, moving it forward four years in time, so all the high school students had now graduated and were living the lives of grown-ups. At the same time, the strip began to take a more serious tone, tackling many serious issues, such as suicide, dyslexia, and most notably, cancer. However, this final point has brought me some hope. As I understand it, Funky relaunched again only a few weeks ago after Lisa died of breast cancer. The story now follows the next generation as they go through high school. So maybe, just maybe, next time I pick up the funnies I'll be greeted by the World's Greatest Band Director once again.

6. The River City Boys Band

musicman.jpgOur list concludes with the most eminent marching band in all of cinema, Professor Harold Hill's boys band. The boys of River City, enraptured by the opening of a new pool hall, needed something to keep them from turning down the steep slippery path of billards-induced temptation.

Or so Dr. Hill would have had them believe. In reality he was just a con artist who"¦ why am I even explaining this? The Music Man is by many counts, one of the greatest musicals of all time, receiving six Tonies, an Oscar, and a slew of other nominations. I'm not sure I've ever met anyone who doesn't know one of the show's most memorable songs, "Seventy-Six Trombones (in the Big Parade)." If you're one such poor soul, please, go out and rent the 1962 movie adaption now. Then you'll understand why I'm having so much trouble mastering my Elementary Spanish class since our instructor seems to insist on using Professor Hill's "Think Method."

That's all for this time. Have a bwayno day, guys!

Original image
iStock
arrow
Live Smarter
Hate Waiting at Baggage Claim? Here's How to Make Sure Your Suitcase Arrives First
Original image
iStock

Air travel involves plenty of waiting, from standing in long security lines to preparing for takeoff. And even after you land, your trip is stalled until you locate your luggage on the carousel. Luckily for impatient fliers, there are several ways to game the system and ensure a speedy suitcase delivery once you step off the plane, according to Travel + Leisure.

To score true VIP luggage treatment, ask the representative behind the check-in counter if they can attach a “fragile” sticker to your bag. Suitcases with these kinds of labels are often loaded last and unloaded first. (Plus, they receive the type of kid-glove treatment that ultimately helps them last longer.)

Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need a new tag each time you fly. If it looks old, or was issued by a different airline, the crew might not pay attention to it, according to Condé Nast Traveler. Also, consider upping your suitcase game, as quality, hard-shell bags look like they contain delicate or important items. Their appearance—along with the fragile sticker—will inspire baggage handlers to give them special treatment.

Another trick that can shave a few minutes off your wait time is making sure you're the last person to check in, instead of rushing to be first. If you can't resist getting to the airport early, try asking if you can check it at the gate. This could make your bag one of the last on the plane, and thus one of the first taken out. This method isn't surefire, however, as loading and unloading systems vary among flights.

And if all else fails, Thrillist advises that you try upgrading your flight. Some airlines give priority to bags that belong to elite travelers and business class, meaning they’ll be stored separately from other luggage and come out first. Good luck! No matter what happens, at least you can't have it worse than the lady who had to wait 20 years for her bag to show up.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

Original image
20th Century Fox
arrow
entertainment
25 Things You Might Not Know About Home Alone
Original image
20th Century Fox

On November 16, 1990, what appeared to be a fun-filled little family yarn about a kid left to his own devices at Christmastime and forced to fend off a couple of bungling burglars, became an instant classic. Today, no holiday movie marathon is complete without a viewing of Home Alone, the movie that turned Macaulay Culkin into one of the biggest kid stars of all time. And while you may be able to recite its dialogue line for line, here are 25 things you might not know about the John Hughes-penned picture. So settle in and enjoy, ya filthy animals. 

1. WITHOUT UNCLE BUCK, THERE’D BE NO HOME ALONE.

The idea for Home Alone occurred to John Hughes during the making of Uncle Buck, which also starred Macaulay Culkin. Always game to play the precocious one, there’s a scene in which Culkin’s character interrogates a potential babysitter through a mail slot. In Home Alone, Culkin has a similar confrontation with Daniel Stern, this time via a doggie door.

2. THE ROLE OF KEVIN WAS WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY FOR MACAULAY CULKIN.

But that didn't stop director Chris Columbus from auditioning more than 100 other rascally pre-teens for the part. Which really was all for naught, as Culkin nailed the role.

3. MACAULAY WASN’T THE ONLY CULKIN TO APPEAR IN THE FILM.


20th Century Fox

Macaulay;'s younger brother Kieran also landed a part as Kevin’s bed-wetting cousin, Fuller. Though the film marked Kieran’s acting debut, he has since gone on to build an impressive career for himself in movies like The Cider House Rules, Igby Goes Down, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

4. CASTING CULKIN TAUGHT CHRIS COLUMBUS A VERY IMPORTANT LESSON.

Since Home Alone, Columbus (who also wrote the scripts for Gremlins and The Goonies) has gone on to become one of Hollywood’s premier family-friendly moviemakers as the director of Home Alone 2, Mrs. Doubtfire, and two movies in the Harry Potter franchise. But one lesson he learned from Home Alone is that when you agree to work with a kid actor, you’re also agreeing to work with his or her family.

“I was much younger and I was really too naive to think about the family environment as well,” Columbus told The Guardian in 2013. “We didn't know that much about the family at the beginning; as we were shooting, we learned a little more. The stories are hair-raising. I was casting a kid who truly had a troubled family life.” In 1995, Culkin’s parents, who were never married, engaged in a very public—and nasty—legal battle over his fortune. 

5. THE FILM IS A GUINNESS WORLD RECORD HOLDER.

In its opening weekend, Home Alone topped the box office, making $17,081,997 in 1202 theaters. The movie maintained its number one spot for a full 12 weeks and remained in the top 10 until June of the following year. It became the highest grossing film of 1990 and earned a Guinness World Record as the highest-grossing live-action comedy ever domestically.

6. THE MOVIE’S UNPRECEDENTED SUCCESS LED TO ITS TITLE BECOMING A VERB.


20th Century Fox

In his book The Big Picture: Who Killed Hollywood? And Other Essays, two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman admitted that the unexpected success of Home Alone contributed a new phrase to the Hollywood lexicon: to be Home Aloned, meaning that other films suffered at the box office because of Home Alone’s long and successful run. “More than one executive said to me, ‘My picture did 40, but it would have done 50 if it hadn’t been Home Aloned,’” wrote Goldman.

7. IT SPAWNED MORE THAN A SEQUEL.

While all of the main, original cast members reprised their roles for Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (with Columbus again directing a script by Hughes), the success of the original led to a full-on franchise, complete with four sequels, three video games, two board games, a novelization, and other kid-friendly merchandise (including the Talkboy). 

8. POLAND LOVES THE MCCALLISTERS.

Showings of Home Alone have become a Christmas tradition in Poland, where the film has aired on national television since the early 1990s. And its popularity has only increased. In 2011 more than five million people tuned in to watch it, making it the most watched show to air during the season. 

9. THE MCCALLISTER HOME HAS BECOME A MAJOR TOURIST ATTRACTION.


A Syn via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Located at 671 Lincoln Avenue in Winnetka, Illinois, the kitchen, main staircase, and ground-floor landing seen in the film were all shot in this five-bedroom residence. (The dining room and all other first-floor rooms, with the exception of the kitchen, were shot on a soundstage.) In 2012, John and Cynthia Abendshien, who owned the home when it was used as one of the film’s locations, sold the property for $1.585 million.

10. KEVIN’S TREE HOUSE WAS NOT PART OF THE DEAL.

Kevin’s backyard tree house was not originally part of the property. It was constructed specifically for the movie and demolished once filming ended. 

11. ALL OF THE FILM WAS SHOT IN THE CHICAGO AREA.

Though the main plot point is that that McCallister family is in Paris while Kevin’s back home in Illinois, the production was shot entirely within the Chicago area. The scenes supposedly set at Paris-Orly Airport were shot at O’Hare International Airport. And those luxurious business class seats they’re taking to Paris? Those were built on the basketball court of a local high school—the same school where the scene in which Kevin is running through a flooded basement was filmed (the “basement” in question was actually the school’s swimming pool). 

12. ROBERT DE NIRO TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF HARRY LIME.


Getty Images

As did Jon Lovitz. Then Joe Pesci swept in and made the part his own. Bonus fun fact: The character is a slight homage to Orson Welles. (It was the name of Welles’ character in Carol Reed’s The Third Man.) 

13. JOE PESCI GOT ALL METHOD ON MACAULAY CULKIN.

In order to get the most authentic performance possible, Joe Pesci did his best to avoid Macaulay Culkin on the set so that the young actor would indeed be afraid of him. And no one would blame the young actor for being a bit petrified, as he still bears the physical scar from one accidental altercation. “In the first Home Alone, they hung me up on a coat hook, and Pesci says, ‘I’m gonna bite all your fingers off, one at a time,’” Culkin recalled to Rule Forty Two. “And during one of the rehearsals, he bit me, and it broke the skin.” 

14. PESCI WASN’T USED TO THE WHOLE “FAMILY-FRIENDLY” THING.

Considering that Pesci’s best known for playing the heavy in movies like Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and Casino, it’s understandable that he wasn’t quite used to the whole family-friendly atmosphere on the set of Home Alone—and dropped a few f-bombs as a result of that. Columbus tried to curb Pesci’s four-letter-word tendency by suggesting he use the word “fridge” instead. 

15. DANIEL STERN HAD A FOUR-LETTER WORD SLIP-UP, TOO.


20th Century Fox

And it wasn’t cut out of the film. He utters the word “s***” when attempting to retrieve his shoe through the doggie door (look for it at the 55:27 mark on the DVD). 

16. IN REAL LIFE, HARRY AND MARV MAY NOT HAVE SURVIVED KEVIN’S ATTACK.

BB gun shots to the forehead and groin? A steaming hot iron and can of paint to the face? A flaming blowtorch to the scalp? The Wet Bandits endure an awful lot of violence at the hands of a single eight-year-old. So much so that neither one of them should have been walking—let alone conscious—by the end of the night. In 2012, Dr. Ryan St. Clair diagnosed the likely outcome of their injuries at The Week. While a read-through of the entire article is well worth your time, here are a few of the highlights: That iron should have caused a “blowout fracture,” leading to “serious disfigurement and debilitating double vision if not repaired properly.” And the blowtorch? According to Dr. St. Clair, “The skin and bone tissue on Harry's skull will be so damaged and rotted that his skull bone is essentially dying and will likely require a transplant.” 

17. THE ORNAMENTS THAT MARV STEPS ON WOULD CAUSE THE LEAST AMOUNT OF DAMAGE.

"Walking on ornaments seems pretty insignificant compared to everything else we've seen so far,” said Dr. St. Clair. “If I was Marv, I'd be more concerned about my facial fractures.” Fortunately, the "glass" ornaments in question were actually made of candy. (But just to be on the safe side, Stern wore rubber feet for his barefoot scenes.)

18. THE TARANTULA ON STERN’S FACE? YEP, THAT WAS REAL.


20th Century Fox

At one point, Kevin places a tarantula on Marv’s face. And it was indeed a real spider (Daniel Stern agreed to let it happen—but he’d only allow for one take). What wasn’t real? That blood-curdling scream. In order to not frighten the spider, Stern had to mime the scream and have the sound dubbed in later.

19. JOHN CANDY WRAPPED IN ONE DAY.

But what a long day it was: Twenty-three hours to be exact. Candy was a regular in many of John Hughes’ movies, and Gus Polinski—the polka-playing nice guy he plays in Home Alone—was inspired by his character in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. 

20. KEVIN’S OLDER SISTER IS A JUDO CHAMP.

Two years after appearing in Home Alone, Hillary Wolf—who played Kevin’s older sister Megan—landed the lead in Joan Micklin Silver’s Big Girls Don’t Cry… They Get Even. She also appeared in Home Alone 2, but hasn’t been seen on the big screen since. But there’s a good reason for her absence: In 1996 and 2000, she was a member of the Summer Olympic Judo team for the U.S. 

21. DON’T BOTHER TRYING TO FIND ANGELS WITH FILTHY SOULS.

The Jimmy Cagney-like gangster movie that Kevin channels as his inspiration throughout Home Alone? Don’t bother searching for it on eBay. It’s not real. Nor is its sequel, Angels With Even Filthier Souls, which is featured in Home Alone 2. 

22. OLD MAN MARLEY WASN'T IN THE ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY.

Kevin’s allegedly scary neighbor, who eventually teaches him the importance of family, wasn’t a character in the original script. He was added at the suggestion of Columbus, who thought the film could do with a stronger dose of sentimentality.

23. THE LYRIC OPERA OF CHICAGO BENEFITED FROM THE MOVIE’S SNOWFALL.

When filming of Home Alone wrapped, the production donated some of the artificial snow they had created (the stuff made from wax and plastic) to the Lyric Opera of Chicago. It has since been used in a number of their productions.

24. MARV WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE GOTTEN A SPINOFF.

Greg Beeman’s 1995 film Bushwhacked, which stars Daniel Stern as a delivery guy on the run after being framed for murder, was originally intended to be a spinoff of Home Alone. The storyline would have been essentially the same: after giving up a life of crime, Marv would have been framed for the same murder.

25. IF YOU BELIEVE THAT ELVIS IS STILL ALIVE, THEN YOU MIGHT BELIEVE THAT HE IS IN HOME ALONE.

No hit movie would be complete without a great little conspiracy theory. And in the case of Home Alone, it’s that Elvis Presley—who (allegedly?) died in 1977—makes a cameo in the film. Yes, that’s right. The King is alive and well. And making a living as a Hollywood extra.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios