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Things that lasted we didn’t think would make it

In Other on April 28, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Everything about college is designed to be temporary. At the same time, everyone plays their role in a giant scheme to make it appear that everything from college lasts forever. (Hello Gator Memory Book. No I will not be filling you with photos of the french fry statue and Century Tower.)

Everything about college is just an acquaintance. You get acquainted with a subject, and then forget it. Same with most people. You see someone at a holiday party and realize it’s Tim, the friend of Kevin, who you met in your first class of the semester a year and a half ago when you asked to borrow a pencil. You spent six consecutive Mondays meeting them and their group of friends at Boca Fiesta for movie nights, the most memorable of which was the showing of Arachnophobia. Seeing Tim at the holiday party makes you realize that you used to call and/or text a certain group of people during a certain chunk of time and then it just stopped. And though this does happen in real life, it happens in college life ALL THE TIME. Things finally came full circle when Kevin saw you in the library studying for finals on Monday and asked to borrow a pencil.

Few things are designed to last the entire four years of the thing that is college except for maybe a sturdy pair of rubber boots. If you are a transfer student, like moi, you have two years to participate in the farce that is everlasting friendship and knowledge. (My journalism degree is already six years behind the times.)

So without further ado for a post that is actually supposed to be humorous, here are the things that actually lasted two years that we didn’t think would make it:

Fake Cheese!

When I first got to Gainesville, I had me a craving for cheesy Ramen because who would judge me for that in a college town. I proceeded to buy a stack of individually wrapped slices thinking that somehow I would find uses for the seemingly appropriately portioned fake dairy. Though I knew it was fake cheese, Claire confirmed this with Science by noting that it’s melting point is too low for it to actually be dairy as it began melting to our counter at room temperature. Alas, after a couple cheesy Ramens, my craving was satiated for a few years and we still have tons of fake cheese.

200 square feet of aluminum foil!

Decorating our apartment with aluminum foil seemed like an AWESOME idea around the holidays. I spent a few hours making aluminum foil and tissue paper bunting chains AND aluminum foil wreaths. But still, I had aluminum foil. We wrapped ham in it. We wrapped cookies in it. We baked a bunch of shit with it spread all over cookie sheets. And still, we have aluminum foil. Crazytown, I know.

TOMS!

Most of my friends have busted holes in their TOMS by now. Clearly, I have tried to break these stinkers down, but they keep holding on and smelling bad.

Condoms!

And this is not because I condone unsafe sex. I’m just not that good at that part of college, which in the end, is a good thing(?). Thank you Alachua County County Health Department for giving me massive quantities of little reminders of this fact.

“You’re in college, you must take these.” “Nope, really, it’s fine. Save ’em for the sorority girls.”

Kitten calendar!

I got my roommate this calendar in 2010 to make her happy. We liked it so much that when our friend got us an almost equally awesome zen calendar, we just decided to make the kittens last for two years.

Roomies forever!

While many roommateships don’t last, Claire and I have a real love that transcends “many roommateships.” Seriously, I’m not quite sure what we would have done if we didn’t carpool to visit UF together, only to end up co-signing a lease with a fingers-crossed, “you seem unpsychotic” naive gleefulness. I would have either been a total recluse and driven four hours each weekend to Tampa to visit friends and my mamma. Or I would have made a big ole messy party, courtesy of alcoholism. Claire would have had a more severe mental breakdown during second semester and only talked to chem students. Thanks to me, we talked to a whole variety of batshit crazy, narcissistic journalism students.

But seriously, Claire has become one of my best friends and confidantes, listening to a litany of problems, real or imagined, on a relatively daily basis. We also like to do our make-up together and listen to music. And I shall be a bridesmaid in her wedding this September.

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Brian Posehn hates his only tattoo

In Journalism, Other on April 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Brian Posehn lost his tattoo virginity at the tender age of 41.

We talked about popping his ink cherry and other things for this piece in the Alligator. (He’s coming to Gainesville April 13!)

But he said some funny things that I wasn’t able to squeeze into the story, so here is the interview Q & A.

Brian Posehn

Brian Posehn (Photo courtesy of Generate)

Talk about the title for your latest album, Fart & Weiner Jokes.
Brian Posehn: You know it was sort of a joke. But I do indeed have a lot of fart and weiner jokes. It was also kind of me making fun of myself, “Lower your expectations, it’s time for the  fart and weenier jokes.” I like to think I do more. It’s just a little self-deprecating jab at myself.

The fact that I’m on a heavy metal label [Relapse Records], I wanted the cover to reflect and have it look like an old-time label album but then with this big goofy joke.

And then having it on radio and making the deejays say Fart and Weiner jokes was a lot of fun for me.

What’s the difference between playing a comedy club and a rock venue?
BP: Nobody goes to a rock club to see comedy by mistake. Even though I’m pretty established, when I play comedy clubs, I still have people who don’t know what they’re in for.

Sometimes I’ll be in Dallas, and there will a 60-year-old conservative lady with her arms crossed saying to her husband, “Is this guy going to talk about fart jokes and his penis the whole time?”

Rock venues are more suited for younger fans. People who don’t want to have to pay a lot. It’s a cheaper night out.

Do you think your jokes are universal or pretty specialized to an audience?
BP: Definitely not [specialized to one audience]. But those people are going to like it on another level. I purposely don’t just dwell on heavy metal. There’s the Slayer joke.

But I feel like I hold people’s hands. Because I don’t want to lose anybody. But on the other hand, you will appreciate it another layer if you do like metal. I think I walk people totally through it.

Can you describe to me a fan who you have seen or met who you never in a million years would have thought would be a fan of yours?

BP: There are people that hit that age range [60s] and love the dirty stuff. Every once in a a while, I’ll look out and see an older woman when I look out there. And then I watch her a couple minutes later, and she is laughing harder than anyone out there.

And the strange thing is the multi-generation thing. Somebody your age [20s] comes out and their parents like it too. I’m like, “I hope that was comfortable listening to that together.”

Do you play metal on a regular basis?

BP: I was right before you called me. Pretty much every day. I listen to other stuff. I’m not just a metal guy. But I’ve always just been obsessed with music. I listen to it morning and night and always in my car.

Occasionally I deviate form the metal. All the stuff I grew up on I like. Rap. Rock. But I’m more of a metal head than anything.

I’ve never played an instrument. I tried and it just didn’t happen.

But I’ve loved [music] since grammar school. Kiss at 9 years old and then AC/DC and Van Halen and then just went heavier and heavier.

My last day job was working at a record store. I wanted to be a metal journalist and then dropped out of journalism. But I have had a lot of writing jobs.

What’s your favorite part about playing a college town?

BP: The kids. I mean, I feel like I do better in those places. There are smart kids, and even though I’m 20 years older than them, I feel like I still have the same interests. Anybody who likes to have a beer and play video games I have a lot in common with.

What do you do about people who are “more metal than you”?

BP: That’s where the song came from. It was me commenting on a thing that I’ve noticed since I was young. Being into Metallica before anyone who was into Metallica and there was a friend of mine in my neighborhood. And you’re already calling me a sellout?

I feel like I sit in the dark [because there are comparatively few huge metal fans] and with some guys you have this instant bond and then some guys just try to test you. Anyone who has spent half of their life listening to metal.

The funny thing is people will listen to that song and not get it. They’ll say, “That song is not even metal.” I’m just like, “Oh god, you don’t even get it.”

You been compared to Snuffalupagus. How accurate do you feel that is?

BP: I love that. That’s the thing I talk about in my act. Maybe not on this record. I have, you know, compared myself to a Muppet. I do the voice. I know when I do the angry voice it sounds like a lot of Jim Henson voices.

When I was younger I kind of compared myself to Eeyore.

My wife would laugh if she heard you say that I am like Snuffalupagus. That is a big part of my persona where it’s just you know lovable and kind of beaten down.

Do you have any tattoos?

BP: A horrible one. I waited till I was 41 to get my first tattoo, I think. It was total peer pressure and being completely hammered with a bunch of my friends. We all got the same thing and now I have this horrible thing on my middle finger. I wear a ring because I hate it so much.

I went home to wife and said, “Honey, I did something stupid?” And she’s all, “Did you sleep with a stripper?” “No, I got a tattoo.” “Oh, good.”

It’s 666, the sign of the devil. It’s so stupid! It’s sort of a reference to the kid in The Omen and Iron Maiden. I hang with out a bunch of idiots so it was someone else’s idea. They are all covered in tattoos so it didn’t matter to them. But I had my virgin skin.

I drive by a laser removal place every day and think about getting it removed.

You passed, Chuck Klosterman!

In Other on April 7, 2011 at 1:09 am

Chuck Klosterman passed the beer test.

The beer test was invented (to my knowledge) by Professor Mike Foley who uses it most often as a yardstick to judge whether or not a profile is adequate. The test is: “Based on what you have read, would you know whether or not you want to have a beer with this person?”

If you did a skillful and professional job of conveying that someone is, for instance,  an eloquent public official and porn-hater, a person sharing his views should want to have a beer with him and a person who does not share his views would not.

At the same time, the subject of the profile should not be offended when he reads it but should find it rings true, at least to some degree.

ANYWAY, I digress. The point is, I wanted to have a beer with Chuck Klosterman after I read his books, and now that I have heard him speak, I really want to have a beer with him.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure that Klosterman was going to pass the beer test. I had seen videos of him during interviews, and he seemed bored and boring. Also, in his books, he talks about being resistive to interviewers, as he is a professional interviewer himself, knows what they are after and is not really into being on the other end of the deal. What I came to realize was that Klosterman sort of absorbs the mood or tone of his interviewer.

This, however, was not an interview. It was a talk. To a bunch of college kids. I thought I would see more j-students. But it was really just the bar crowd from the Toplantic. We can never really get away from each other short of moving (t-minus 24 days).

BUT that meant that he had free reign to do or say as he pleased. Chuck dissuaded all my worries and put on a bully show.

My notes are as follows:

Bad-Acid (He talks about bad acid, which he has never himself had. The cool thing about him saying “bad acid” out loud is that it sounds like “badass-ed.” So it sounds like, “That’s some badass-ed shit.” I’m not sure if this is funny anymore. Now it just seems like an inside joke with myself.)

1) technology fluency

2) humor

3) networking

(Chuck’s tips to me for surviving post-grad.)

Ha, Care Bears! 1:08:08

1/2 sports questions

1/2 journo questions

2 snobby literary reference “questions”

and hipsters murmuring snark for the entire hour and half

The last words he spoke to us were:

“It’t not the quality! It’s the size!”

I have an extra Adderall. Do you want it?

In Other on March 23, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Adderall XRThese were the words I heard walking to my first class today.

The girl offering the pill then proceeded to give a litany of advice, sort of a combination between a pharmaceutical commercial and a doctor, albeit a completely unqualified one.

“It’s XR so it lasts longer. But I like to split it into portions. But don’t take it at night. But you want it right?”

Thought she sounded completely confident in the drug and her role as pseudo-medico, my first thought was that she missed a key question: Was her friend on any other drugs?

I can’t help but remember that Heath Ledger, one among many victims of senseless deaths, died of a lethal drug interaction. That sounds a little too melodramatic, but really, how does a college undergrad know how to dose her friends?

Pre-med knows best?

Adderall: Can't pass without itI thought a senior pre-med student might have a better understanding of the risks associated with under-the-table, co-ed prescription, but that’s not the case.

Before class last week, I overheard a guy talking about his stomach hurting intensely after taking an Adderall to study. Even through work he complained he was in pain and competely wired.

The pre-med replied that was just one of the side affects of the Adderall XR she gave him. She bragged that since she had been taking Adderall since she was a child, it didn’t affect her that way any more. At this point, she doesn’t even like to drive without it because she feels completely unfocused.

Full disclosure

Okay, so I know this is getting ranty and one-sided, but this is the only side I haven’t heard on campus.

When I arrived, I still had some sort of WB stereotype stuck in my head that there is a certain type of student that uses Adderall without a prescription to study or for recreation purposes.

Not true. Sorority sisters, club presidents, pre-med and med students, telecomm students, good students and bad students.

Full disclosure: yeah, I was kind of raised by an ex-hippie. So I took antibiotics when I needed to, but that was it. I had my first Tylenol at 21. But I don’t pretend to be some sort of health saint.

The real problem

The two things that bother me are: (1) Controlled substances that are so named because they are dangerous are not controlled at all. (2) Why are classes designed to make people feel like they can’t learn them without being wired, stoned or high?

I don’t really know what to do about one. I think it comes down to a cultural, social and psychological change. Obviously people are trying to be helpful and who would hold out with with a friend? But, I have little faith in psychopharma and wouldn’t care if it disappeared all together. Short of that, can people stop giving away their prescriptions?

The bigger issue is that students feel distracted, unfocused and confused because the material isn’t clear or they are studying it wrong. People are liable to feel distracted if they have no real understanding of the key words of a subject.

I’m taking a Plant Ecology course now where I experience all of the above. There is just too much material to go through with a dictionary and a fine-toothed comb. There were no prerequisites to this course but there really should have been. I understand it sucks, and I hate having to force myself through it.

Bottom line, I want my friends to be healthy, and I want my university to teach me something. Things are falling a little short these days.

Punished for drinking water

In Environment(al) on March 16, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Fresh from Spring Break, I returned to the good ole Reitz Union for a cheeseburger and fries from Cheeburger Cheeburger, possibly the least well known but most fun to say burger joint around.

Though I’m clearly not a health freak, I do try to stay away from soda, particularly its high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). So I like to pair my cheeseburger with a water.

On this day, I had reason to require a bottle of water for portability reasons and couldn’t order my usual cup of tap water. When I asked for a bottle of water with my combo, to my surprise, the cashier told me she would be required to charge me an extra $1.

“So if I get a soda, it’s included, but if I want a bottled water, it’s a $1 extra, and if I want tap water, it’s free?”

“Yep.”

In hindsight, this is probably due to the cost of the plastic bottle vs. the paper cup. But because I’m cheap, I felt that I was being ripped off and immediately ordered a Dr. Pepper.

But I felt completely punished for trying to be just slightly healthier and avoid some sugar.

In fact, I am not crazy. There is a push for sugar.

The corn refiners association has recently launched an entire website devoted to defending HFCS and promoting a name change to “corn sugar” to dodge the negative connotations now associated with HFCS.

Corn refiners industry "corn sugar" website

Though there are studies, such as the one from Princeton that found that HFCS did contribute to weight gain, I’m not here to nitpick HFCS vs. sugar.

The point is that refined sugars in general aren’t super healthy. Weight gain is one issue. Dental decay is another. And a depressed immune system yet another negative effect of the tons and tons of sugar consumed annually.

And what is with all of this flavored water crap? It is insanely sweet and tastes like a headache. I don’t want a FlavorSplash Splenda-infused water. I just want to hydrate.

You have the right idea Wyoming, Montana, parts of Alabama and parts of Idaho, where this beverage is not available. (Look for part 2 where I figure out why not.)

So that’s what I get for not carrying a reusable bottle, I guess: Dr. Pepper and the sniffles.

Something as simple as adding filtered water to the drink menu and not serving it in ridiculously small lidless cups could go a long way in supporting water as a healthy option when ordering in a lunch line.

Instead of browbeating water into a position as a second-class beverage, it needs to be elevated to the status of a full-class drinking option.

Watch out for that Alabama Mudroll!

In Other on March 7, 2011 at 10:32 pm

In lieu of a post that talks about my late onset, life-threatening senioritis and how much I don’t want to do college anymore, I figure a post inspired by an animated children’s movie would be a little more fun.

Because I am one of those cool kids who hangs out with her mom over spring break instead of heading to Puerto Rico, Cancun or Miami, I had the opportunity to see Rango this weekend.

Me during Spring Break.

My mom and I share a common love for animated movies and generally catch the big ones in theaters. (Toy Story 3: mother/daughter public cryfest anyone?)

Unlike most animated features, Rango wasn’t a cutefest.

The desert animals are a crusty bunch and one-for-one have patches of exposed, lifelike, boogery looking skin.

One of the nuggets of joy which I gleaned from Rango occurred during the big Western live action scene during which a group of moles/jack rabbits ride bats mounted with guns after Rango’s gang which has taken control of a wagon being towed at precariously high speeds by a groundhog.

Anyway, the fur and feathers are flying and the animals start slinging insults, which are obviously PG. At one point they need to come up with dangerous-sounding threats, which is when things get exciting.

The formula they use for coming up with these epithets is pure genius.

You add (1) name of a Southern state + (1-2) sort of funny, casual English noun.

And then you get this kind of awesome.

Watch out for that Louisiana Sidewinder!

Comin’ at ya with a Mississippi Curveball!

I’ve got your Kentucky Hotsauce right here!

 

Others that I’d like to try out include:

South Carolina Speedwagon

Florida Frogslinger

West Virginia Highlighter

Tampa Sea Biscuit

Atlanta Hang Low

Texas Backbiter

Atlanta Overpass

Please feel free to contribute. Hopefully someone out there has a thing for a G-rated filth just like me!

Boys clubs and farmers markets

In Other on February 17, 2011 at 12:33 am

I sort of have a thing for boys clubs. Think “Stand By Me.” Think “The Outsiders.”

But by “thing,” I don’t mean the kind that I want to get involved in. It’s pure voyeurism. Being a part of it would just ruin it. Seeing one of the “old ladies” approach with a dirty child makes things awkward for everyone, those watching and those involved. Without these calls back to reality, the camaraderie among the boys and men of the world is something to behold.

Stand By Me

There was a particular set of men today at the farmers market downtown, but it’s easier to call them boys. Next to the brick sandwich place, squeezed in among the greens and crafts, a half-dozen twenty-somethings covered in tattoos had found a spot.

There was a smaller one with a weak mustache who braced himself under a tree as he sadly ogled women of all types. Mothers carrying wheatgrass toward their juicers. Professionals in pencil skirts, black stockings and 5-inch heels who had come straight from work for a beer with some other women.

There was a bigger towhead with a barrel chest and thick neck who grasped a skateboard easily in one hand and swiveled it under his leg as he people watched, or maybe more accurately, stared them down.

The one who looked like he talked the opinions of the group sat on the edge of the bench with a bright and multicolored messenger cap. He wasn’t the biggest but he probably had the biggest mouth.

The attractive one arrived shortly on a pink and green road bike. His face was shaved, and it made him look cleaner than the others, though he probably wasn’t. The tattoos on his shoulders emerged just below the sleeves of his purple tee.

The fat one stayed close to the small one.

The Outsiders

All of them smoked cigarettes. It wafted back towards me but smelled good.

Then my people-watching digressed. A big man with a red beard and glasses held a chubby blond toddler. She walked by me and bravely stared at me several times. She looked like her father, and I imagined her as a linebacker.

A boy of ten with long brown hair and a body grown in the sun stalked from the fields of children to the adults he knew on the patio. He was shirtless and had jeans he would grow into in a few years if they hadn’t already started to tear.

Providing a satisfying break from drudgery, among the organics and the fruit, it is also possible to absorb some humanity.

Just give me the drugs please, ma’am

In Other on February 16, 2011 at 2:00 am

Considering I live in a petri dish of a college town, it’s not surprising I got sick about a month ago. Sore throat, swollen glands: the works.

Vitamin C, garlic-packed multi-vitamins that seemed sized for horses instead of humans, and Zicam weren’t doing the trick. I did not feel better.

After two weeks, I visited he Student Health Care Center hoping for an easy prescription for antibiotics. The symptoms were all the same as an earlier upper respiratory infection, thus I felt almost assured of a Z-pack.

I arrived at 3:55, ten minutes after my scheduled 3:45 appointment.

“Hi. I have an appointment.”

“You had an appointment,” the receptionist said.

“What?”

“You’re more than ten minutes late.”

“It’s 3:56.”

“Exactly. You’ll have to make another appointment.”

“Seriously? And is there a charge for this appointment?”

“Oh, just a moment, looks like I can pencil you in for 4:15. There would have been a charge if I had canceled your appointment, but now you’ll just need to fill out this form.”

And so I pouted my way to the waiting room where it was clear that my odds of recovery were better if I had decided not to expose myself to the kids who were really getting it taken out of them and subsequently hacking all over the walls and furniture of that tiny, tiny room.

At 4:05, I was called into the back where I was asked a battery of standard questions and told to wait for the doctor.

I was clearly in the wrong place. People behind the curtains were dying. I was just dragging ass a little bit.

Overheard conversations:

Nurse: “I was trying to draw blood doctor, but I can’t get any.”

Doctor: “You’re clearly dehydrated son. You’re blood is dry.”

Nurse: “I’ll just keep trying. I know I’ll get it soon.”

Patient: “Unnnggghhhh.”

—–

Nurse: “Just spit as much mucous as you can into this tissue, and we’ll test it. I know you can feel a bit silly, but just go for as much as you can.”

Patient: “Waooocccchhhhh...”

—-

Finally it was my turn.

“Do you still have your tonsils?” the doctor asked.

Expecting a diagnosis of tonsillitis, I quickly answered that I did.

“Oh, haha, I can’t find them. They’re small.”

Relieved that I didn’t require any major or minor surgeries and please that I had small tonsils, which I took as a compliment, I figured I was overreacting. The doctor told me my throat wasn’t that pink, but I could take Tylenol for the pain if I wanted. I explained that I had the same thing a year ago, and I got antibiotics. She said she would test me for strep (even though I told her I had an infection). A nurse tested me for strep. I didn’t have strep.

The final solution of the day: “Would you like a Gatorade.”

Why, yes, I would. Thank you Gator Nation.

But unfortunately I will have to turn to Canada for my antibiotics as it’s now been four weeks, and I am still not fully recovered.

Damn you, Albert.

—-

But seriously, it’s annoying that with an extensively systematized operation like we have here at UF, I can’t get properly treated. While I know how annoyed doctors are these days with self-diagnoses and an app for every symptom around, there’s also something to be said for being familiar with one’s own body and the types of illnesses that it is prone to.

To me, modern medicine shouldn’t let treatable conditions linger.

Valentime’s Nostalgia

In Nostalgia on February 15, 2011 at 3:26 am

Despite the red and pink stands of chocolate and plush, or whatever the color of the season, it’s easy for me to completely ignore any holiday until it is upon me, breathing down my neck. But this wasn’t always the case.

Before jobs and calendars, holidays were the signposts of life. We didn’t have calendars. We had “three weeks until St. Patty’s Day” and “five days until Independence Day.”

Now that I don’t have daily announcements from Mrs. Gerba to remind me, the wave of nostalgia for round tables, plastic chairs and glue sticks hits me like a train every (insert holiday here).

Today, I missed the paper plate valentine greeting card holders. You know, where you staple half of a paper plate to a whole paper plate to create a pocket?

Super pimped valentine holder.

I missed the gobs of frosted brownies and those sugary red chunk sprinkles and the tri-color regular-but-seaonal sprinkles.

I missed those themed 24-pack Valentine greetings. The ones that we obsessed over in the Jamesway (Google it kids) because we didn’t want to be too girly but didn’t want to be too G.I. Joe. Then we obsessed over which message to assign to each kid. (Some socialists required that everybody receive a greeting from everyone.) In any case, we would then obsess over who deserved a “Have a Happy Valentine’s Day” and who would receive the coveted “You’re Awesome.” Through junior high, I refused to purchase anything as telling as “Be Mine.” Though I do recall etching a microscopic heart on the back corner of a specifically directed Scooby Doo card.

And the butterflies! I wonder how many kids weren’t actually allergic to frosting and just had the puke juiced out of them by Valentine’s Day anxiety attacks.

The more competitive among us would count our greetings and compare numbers. A foreshadowing of the adult male game perhaps? Or the reverse of the adult female game?

It’s easy to say I miss those days. But noshing on the nostalgia is much sweeter. Though I totally wore a red plastic heart ring I got off the top of a pink cupcake today.

UF grad’s piano bar offers musical variety

In Journalism on February 10, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Take a step into Rockeys Dueling Piano Bar downtown and enter the world of Billy Joel. And T-Pain. And Garth Brooks.

Brad Heron shares a toast with the crowd at Rockeys Dueling Piano Bar in downtown Gainesville. (Photo by Britt Perkins)

Rockeys, 112 S. Main St., opened New Year’s Eve but is already one of the few bars downtown that can pack in a crowd by 10 p.m. And, unlike other spots in town, variety is not lacking here.

Last Friday, the crowd la, la, la’d along to “Crocodile Rock” and didn’t miss a beat during the transition to “Low (Apple Bottom Jeans).”

Two pianos back-to-back and a drum kit fill the raised stage where crowd requests alone determine the set list Thursday through Saturday. Local live music reigns on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

A $6 bid can get your request bumped to the front of the line, but an opposing $7 wager can make sure the first chords of “Party in the U.S.A.” are also the last.

It’s all about interaction at Rockeys. The players banter with one another and are not shy about talking directly to the crowd. And sometimes, they do more than just talk. While on stage, each player has a hand-held spotlight, ready to select volunteers for games and serenades. Recently, Rockeys hosted an impromptu “booty-shaking” contest with participants ages 21 to 61.

Brad Heron, owner and house piano player, said the “ageless” factor where everyone checks their egos at the door is one reason people can have a good time at Rockeys.

After graduating from UF in 2004, Heron toured the U.S. playing professionally, building his repertoire. But Heron, a self-proclaimed diehard Gators fan, said each college town reminded him of his alma mater.

“I missed Gainesville,” he said. “And I had such a good time here, and I was having such a good time in other college towns, I thought, ‘Man, I’d really like to do Gainesville.’”

Heron partnered with Scott Schmailzl, owner of Blue Moon Dueling Piano Bar in West Des Moines, Iowa, and longtime friend from the piano circuit.

Tim Buie of Savannah, Ga., also joined Heron in Gainesville as a house player.

Although there are regular appearances, the lineup doesn’t always stay the same.

Every week, a guest player from another town joins the regulars on stage with a different background and different skills, which helps keep things interesting and fresh, Heron said.

After going through “a million” names, Heron said they settled on the combination of the words “rock” and “keys” to brand the new piano bar downtown, but that’s often how people still refer to it.

However, naming was not the biggest challenge people said they would face. The 21-plus, non-smoking requirements, on the other hand, were. But instead of being a problem, Heron said those two factors are what he gets complimented on most, besides the friendliness of the staff.

And as for Heron’s favorite song to play?

“I probably wouldn’t sit in a room by myself and say, ‘Oh, I feel like playing some Lady Gaga right now.’ But in front of a crowd of people that want to hear it, I mean, there’s nothing more fun than Lady Gaga.”

Story in the Independent Florida Alligator on Thursday, Feb 10.