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December 04, 2007

See You in December: Planning a Post-Exam Adventure

"Save Yourself: A Semester-Long Exercise in Perspective"
By Liz Polizzi

I seem to remember someone telling me sometime early in my 1L year that law school got a lot easier after year one. If I’m not mistaken, someone told a similar lie during my 2L year – that once you got through that, it would be smooth sailing. But here I am, three weeks away from the end of my law school career, and just like every near-exam period before, I find myself plagued by miniature heart attacks whenever I look at a calendar and realize how few days stand between now and the first day of exams. I have met people who are much more level-headed about these things than I am, and I respect them for it. But we’ve all had that recurring nightmare of walking into an exam completely unprepared – and I for one am not brave enough to face that nightmare come true.

As sad as it is that after all this time – and a semester writing this column – I have not yet learned to chill out, I have learned a coping mechanism that I hope to help you employ: when the worst of it is upon you, take a little time out to think about and plan all the things you’ll do when it’s finally over. For me, the promise of a post-bar exam trip to South America has sustained me from day one of law school, and I highly recommend developing a similar plan of your own. But for those of you who aren’t so lucky as to be moving on to greener pastures anytime soon, I present you with some ideas for fun and interesting things to do in the Ann Arbor / Detroit area immediately after finishing exams.

Music

While it’s true that December offers the music addict a festive cornucopia of options – including such acts as Ozzy Osborne and Rob Zombie (Dec. 18 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit), The Lemonheads (Dec. 15 at The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor), and R. Kelly with special guests Keyshia Cole and J. Holiday (Dec. 22 at the Joe Louis Arena) – the most unique musical experience my diligent research uncovered is an event called Too Hot to Handel, to be performed at Detroit’s Fox Theater on Saturday, Dec. 22.

Too Hot to Handel, a gospel-jazz version of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, features three vocal soloists, a gospel choir, an orchestra, and a jazz rhythm section. Developed by Marin Alsop, 2005 MacArthur Fellow and the first woman to head a major American orchestra, in conjunction with composers Bob Christianson and Gary Anderson, Too Hot to Handel was first performed at New York’s Lincoln Center in 1993. Since then, it has become an annual event rivaling the more traditional holiday performances of Handel’s Messiah around the world. The Detroit production will be performed by the Rackham Symphony Choir, the official choir of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra since 1952. Two shows will be performed on Dec. 22, one at 2pm and the other at 8pm; tickets start at $18.

Theater

I have been meaning to see a play at the Performance Network on E. Huron St. since I arrived in Ann Arbor, but still have yet to do it. For the post-exam period, they will be performing The Baker’s Wife, a musical created by the producers of Godspell and Fiddler on the Roof. The production has gotten good reviews so far, it’s nearby, and the price is only $20 for students. If you’re at all interested in theater, it might be a fun thing to do one of these nights when a compounded hangover prevents you from enjoying yet another night at the bar.

If you’re willing to go a little farther away and make a night of it, there are several theaters in the Detroit metro area that offer larger-scale productions. The Detroit Opera House is hosting the traveling Broadway production of The Lion King for a six-week engagement until January 6, with tickets starting at $15. The historic Gem Theater, also in downtown Detroit, is offering a Christmas-themed play called Forbidden Christmas, which tracks the adventures of “Chito, a loveable madman,” who convinces a doctor to brave a blizzard to treat a sick girl (apparently some hijinks ensue). At $39.50, the cost is a little steeper than the other available fare, but the theater itself provides some additional adventure and allure – the 1903 building that houses the theater was physically transported to its present location in 1997, becoming the heaviest building ever moved on wheels. Meanwhile, the Planet Ant Theater in Hamtramck (a tiny city that is bordered by Detroit on all sides) offers an improvisational Christmas-themed play, which they call Clear and Present Manger; tickets are $10 for students, which includes free coffee and donuts during Sunday matinee performances.
Shock and Awe

For those who are willing to drive an hour north, the reward could be astronomical. Yes ladies and gentlemen, in a planetarium in the oft-maligned city of Flint, Michigan, you too could see a holiday-themed laser light show! Boasting 285 seats beneath a 60-foot dome, the Robert T. Longway Planetarium is Michigan’s largest planetarium, and from now until Dec. 23, it will be holiday music and laser lights throughout the day every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Whether you go with your kids or go for the kitsch, the laser light show is surely worth the short drive. The price of admission is a mere $5 for adults (free for children ages 2 and under).

However, the post-exam event that I’m most looking forward to has nothing to do with holidays, music, or drama. Every Wednesday and Thursday night, the Magic Bag music venue on Woodward Avenue in Ferndale (a Detroit suburb about 45 minutes from here) hosts “Brew & View” nights, where first-run movies are shown for $2 in a venue that serves – you guessed it – beer. During the post-finals season, the two films on tap are Superbad and Darjeeling Limited. Doors open at 8pm, and the movie starts at 9:30pm. See you there!

By the time you read this, Liz Polizzi will no longer be Managing Editor of Res Gestae. Send comments, questions, or a statement expressing your interest in taking over this column, thus serving the public good by reminding law students about life outside the law, to rg@umich.edu.