Home Featured News Cheap Thrills: What to do when classes aren’t getting in the way

Cheap Thrills: What to do when classes aren’t getting in the way

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By Chris Powers – Layout/Special Project Editor & Kayla Tucker – A&E/Features Editor

TV series to binge-watch on Netflix

Netflix is a binge-watcher’s paradise. It virtually invented the addiction. While there are shows that everyone knows about like “Arrested Development,” “Breaking Bad,” “House of Cards,” “Mad Men,” “Orange is the New Black” and “The Walking Dead,” there are others that aren’t quite an obvious choice.

doctor-who-netflix“Doctor Who” – Although “Doctor Who” is a 50-year old British institution, the show has been gathering more and more fans in the American nerd community since it returned to television in 2005 after a 15-year hiatus. The show centers around an ancient alien with a young face who travels through time and space in a blue box that is bigger on the inside. What “Doctor Who” excels at is being primarily a sci-fi show but is able to be anything from horror to murder mystery to romantic comedy depending on the week. Netflix doesn’t have the newest season that wrapped up last month, but it does have all seven seasons of the revived show through the 50th Anniversary specials from 2013.

bobs-burgers-netflix“Bob’s Burgers” – This is one adult animated series that doesn’t rely on the lowest common denominator for humor. It’s much more early “Simpsons” than “Family Guy.” On “Family Guy,” it’s difficult to discern whether the Griffins even care about each other. That’s not the case on “Bob’s Burgers”. While they may argue and fight (like a real family), you can always tell that it’s coming from a place of love and loyalty. The animation style may be a bit distracting at first, but don’t stop watching. H. Jon Benjamin, whose voice you may recognize from “Archer” and “Home Movies,” is hilarious as patriarch Bob who must juggle running a not-so-successful burger joint and his wife and three kids who live above it.

parks-and-rec-netflix“Parks and Recreation” – “Saturday Night Live” alum Amy Poehler plays Leslie Knope, the overzealous deputy director of the parks department in Pawnee, Indiana. She is surrounded by department director, and anti-government libertarian, Ron Swanson, local nurse Ann Perkins and her boyfriend Andy Dwyer, who is played by Chris Pratt from Guardians of the Galaxy. At first, “Parks and Rec” may seem like a clone of “The Office” set in an Indiana parks department and its protagonist Knope a clone of Michael Scott, but it’s not. The short first season is a little rough and more closely resembles “The Office,” but the show found its own voice during the second season with the addition of Rob Lowe and Adam Scott.

firefly-netflix“Firefly” – Online, this short-lived space western from director Joss Whedon has become the poster child for great series that networks just don’t understand and cancel too soon. The series is a mere 14 episodes and a follow-up movie called “Serenity” (not to be confused with the pilot episode of the series of the same name). Despite its serialized nature, Fox decided to air the series out of order causing plenty of confusion amongst the audience. The show itself focuses on Malcolm Reynolds, played by Nathan Fillion, and his ragtag band of outlaws who scour the known universe getting into trouble with local authorities. The most fun comes from the characters rather than the plots.

good-eats-netflix“Good Eats” – Perhaps not a true binge watch since Netflix only has a small sampling of episodes, but “Good Eats” might be a fun palate cleanser. Host Alton Brown merges science and food in this alternative to the traditional cooking show. Instead of simply telling its audience to add yeast to make their bread rise, “Good Eats” uses burping puppets to explain the gas exchange that makes bread rise. It is this combination of surrealism, science, and food that makes it binge-worthy.

Read something other than textbooks

Many college students have difficulty reading anything more than what is assigned. Holiday break may be a time to get in some extracurricular reading whether it’s sitting down and reading a traditional book, an e-book, or listening to an audiobook.

For paper books, the simplest way to read for free is the library. These cathedrals of knowledge offer more than just free wi-fi and research materials for that paper you’re writing.

In addition to their lending shelves, many branches will often have used book sales. The main branch of the Grand Rapids Public Library’s bookstore is open whenever the library is. Books range from 50 cents to $2.

Amazon frequently offers discounts on e-books. While this is branded as Kindle Daily Deals, the books can be read on any device that has the Kindle app installed, not just their devices. These books are typically priced under $5 and rotate every day.

For Kindle owners with Amazon Prime, there is the Kindle Lending Library. This service offers over 600,000 books that can be downloaded and read for free.

The Grand Rapids Public Library uses a service called OverDrive to lend out both e-books and audiobooks. Just download the OverDrive app from the app store or the library website. Then pick Grand Rapids Public Library and enter your library card number. If you haven’t used your library card in awhile, you’ll have to stop by a public library and renew it. Once you sign in, simply scroll through the list of available books and choose one. The downside to using this system versus purchasing your e-books from Amazon or their Kindle Lending Library is that there is a limited number of copies able to be lent out system-wide.

In addition to OverDrive & the library, you can purchase audiobooks from Amazon or Audible.com. If you want access to lots of audiobooks, Audible has a couple of monthly plans that feature a discount, but they are still rather pricey for what you get.

Throughout the month of December and into 2015, the GRPL will be offering Small Business classes as well as an adult Winter Reading Program entitled “Spilled Ink” where readers have the chance to win prizes based on books read over time. The Library also offers book club kits, “Books by the Stacks”, to be checked out for six weeks along with downloadable discussion questions.

Get out of the house

  • The Grand Rapids Civic Theatre will be showing “Mary Poppins” through mid December. Tickets are $18 with a student ID or $18 to $35 regular price. Every Civic production also has a dress rehearsal open to the public the night before the show opens. Tickets are $5 for plays and $10 for musicals.
  • For cheaper movies, go to Celebration Cinema for college student discounts starting at $8.50, the same price as their matinees. Celebration Cinema Woodland offers second run movies for $5 all-day.
  • The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) offers college student discounts on yearly membership for $25, which makes gallery admission free and film admission $4.
  • Non-members pay $5 for the gallery and $8 for films. Films run six days a week except for the week of Christmas. The UICA will also feature the Found Footage Festival, a comedy show where VHS home videos found at garage sales are presented with commentary, at 7:30p.m. Dec. 18. Tickets are $10.
  • GRCC Students can use their Raider Card to receive free admission to the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, Grand Rapids Public Museum and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum.
  • Student discounts also prove to be worthy at Devos Performance Hall. “The Nutcracker” will be showing Dec. 12-14 and 19 – 21. Student discount tickets are $20 and are available during the student rush, one hour before the show.
  • The Grand Rapids Symphony will be performing the “Fifth Third Cirque De Noel” Dec. 16-18 and “Sandi Patty Yuletide Joy” Dec. 23. Discounted Symphony tickets can be purchased for only $5 with possession of a Student Passport, which students can receive online or in person at the performance. The passport has to be shown to the Box Office for the discount to be made.
  • Friday night is College Night at the Grand Rapids Griffins. Students can get an Upper Level seat for $14 and receive a free pass to the post-game party at McFadden’s. Fridays are also $2 beers (for 21+) and $2 hot dogs night. Also, Wednesday nights are known as “Winning Wednesdays” where if the home team wins, fans can turn in their tickets for a free ticket to the next Wednesday game.
  • The Grand Rapids Drive recently opened their inaugural season at The DeltaPlex.  There aren’t student discounts yet, but tickets are as low as $10.
  • Students can purchase a $9 ticket to Frederik Meijer Gardens. Meijer Gardens currently features an exhibit on Christmas and holiday traditions from around the world now through Jan. 4.
  • Wengers Bowl on Leonard St. NW offers students $2 per game of open bowling all day every day and $1 per game of open bowling on Wednesday evening from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. There are also drink specials for 21+.

Daily Deals: 

MONDAY

  • AMC Theater offers $4.49 tickets before 6 p.m.

TUESDAY

  • AMC Theater offers $4.49 tickets before 6 p.m.
  • Buffalo Wild Wings offers 60-cent wings allday and drink and appetizer specials during happy hour and late-night.
  • “Double Punch Day” at Georgio’s Pizza.
  • Meanwhile Movie Series at the Wealthy Theatre at 8 p.m., tickets are $6.

WEDNESDAY

  • AMC Theater offers $4.49 tickets before 6 p.m.
  • Louis Benton SteakHouse offers $6 burgers all day in LB’s Lounge.
  • Georgio’s Pizza hosts “Flip Night” where hungry guests spending over $25 can choose to flip a coin and if they win, their order is on the house.

THURSDAY

  • AMC Theater offers $4.49 tickets before 6 p.m.
  • Buffalo Wild Wings offers 60-cent boneless wings all-day and drink and appetizer specials during happy hour and late-night.

FRIDAY

  • AMC Theater offers $5.49 tickets before noon. and $6.49 tickets before 4 p.m.

SATURDAY

  • AMC Theater offers $5.49 tickets before noon and $6.49 tickets before 4 p.m.

SUNDAY

  • AMC Theater offers $5.49 tickets before noon and $6.49 tickets before 4 p.m.
  • Georgio’s Pizza on Ionia St. has a pizza buffet from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for just under $10, a free drink is included.