1 Category 1: ENGL 1010
Anna Betts; Bailey Stephens; Dakota Bobb; and Alice Rethi
Just Love, Just Love Coffee
Awarded to Anna Betts for work submitted in Fall 2020 to Dr. Sheila Otto in ENGL 1010: Expository Writing
On any other day, walking through a coffee shop is a vibrant, energetic experience. Friendly baristas call out “Good morning!” and the bakers put muffins out to sell. The sound of steaming milk rips through the building, and plates clatter in the back. Light pours into a clean, clear interior that houses bistro tables, faux marble countertops, wood accents, leafy plants, and a giant record player that spins to deliver drinks to their owners.
“Tiramisu latte for Jen!”
“Ethiopian Harar pour over!”
“Trad cap at the counter!”
On any other day, the baristas call out the orders and finish with a “Have a good day!” The background noise is a familiar hum of conversation, the click of computers, the buzz of the espresso machine, and the grind of the coffee beans. A gentle wave of music flows through the shop, bouncing off the giant waffle hanging from the ceiling, putting a soft smile on everyone’s face. It’s joyful. It’s uplifting, encouraging, and energetic.
But today, it’s dead.
I walk into Just Love Coffee, and a haunting bell echoes in the empty shop. It’s a ghost town. To add to the dismal scene, rain trickles down the sides of the windows. There is no sunlight. The sole person in the shop is Brennan, the barista clad in his flannel, skinny jeans, and Converse shoes (the dress code for all baristas).
On any other day, Brennan would greet me with a big smile, saying, “Anna! The usual today? How are your classes going?” We would talk about our lives over coffee, even delving into deeper conversations about religion, worldviews, and politics. On any other day, chatting with Brennan is my morning routine.
Today, Brennan greets me with a voice so broken I could cry. He’s the only one in the shop today, looking over empty chairs and tables. His coffee is the only drink he’s made.
“How are you?” I ask hesitantly. I immediately regret asking the question. No one knows how to answer that right now. He looks over the empty room that’s usually full of life and shrugs.
“I’m okay,” he says. We both nod at each other, knowing he was lying for the sake of a normal conversation. I order my coffee and sit down. He’s grateful for something to do. We don’t speak.
Tomorrow, all Murfreesboro restaurants will shut down their dining rooms because of the coronavirus. First-year businesses will close or be forced to fire most of their staff. In order to stay ahead of the virus, restrictions are high for restaurants and businesses to minimize socializing. The economic consequences could be enormous for any business. For local restaurants like Just Love, they could be fatal.
As I’m sitting there, the owner walks in. She greets me with the same tiredness as her employee but tries to hide it with a smile.
“Hey, Sherri.” We begin to talk business, and she tells me what it’s like as a young business dealing with this crisis.
“We were looking forward to our one-year anniversary,” says Sherri. She and her husband Tom own and manage the shop while still working their full-time jobs, coaching their kids’ soccer team, and teaching Sunday school. They take the term “power couple” to a whole new level.
“The one-year anniversary party was already in planning stages,” Sherri says. “For our crew that’s been here since the beginning, it was our way to say, ‘thank you.’ We had a rough start when we first opened, and I feel like we just got our routine down. Now … I’m not sure what’s going to happen. No one really does.”
Just Love Coffee is at a central point in Murfreesboro. The area is surrounded by gardens and walking paths. In the summer, a fountain splash pad provides entertainment for children to cool off and play. In the winter, they put out a giant skating rink for families to enjoy. The place is bright and vibrant, and the coffee shop is full of people just as bright and vibrant. Brennan, Demi, Jacob, Syd … these workers have been here since the beginning. For every single weekend since May 13, 2019, they’ve been working long hours to serve customers beautifully crafted coffee and waffles with genuine hearts and kind compassion.
They embody everything GOOD about Murfreesboro—the entire shop does. The owners, Tom and Sherri, are amazing people who are involved in the community. When the tornadoes hit Nashville, they provided coffee for 500 electric workers in Lebanon so that they could help victims. Just a month ago, they were up helping tornado victims while the shop hit its record sales day. They love the community, and they are always giving back to it. Murfreesboro is nothing without its local restaurants. Without them, it could be any other city in the world. But when local angels like Tom and Sherri decide to pour goodness into the community, it enriches everyone’s lives.
Murfreesboro is unique because of its local businesses. Without places like Puckett’s, MJ’s, Brass Horn Coffee, or Just Love Coffee, it wouldn’t be a vibrant city. The integrity of the city of Murfreesboro is solely dependent on the community values upheld by these local businesses and the people who frequent them.
The beauty of Just Love is that it wants to bring Murfreesboro values to the entire nation. While Just Love was founded in Murfreesboro, they have now expanded to over 15 locations nationwide. A company that cares for its employees, promotes love, and donates to charities that matter is a company that the nation wants to get behind. Or at least, it was before the economy tanked.
It’s an uncertain time for hourly employees. They’re watching the schedule being changed—first, they have 40 hours a week. Then, 30 hours. Now, workers like Brennan are lucky to be scheduled for 15 hours. For Tom and Sherri, they have invested so much money into this business to get it off the ground. Employees are scared and asking questions that they can’t answer. To feed their own family, Tom and Sherri must make drastic financial decisions. No one knows what the next month, week, or even day will bring.
For now, I’ll keep supporting Just Love and other local businesses through these confusing times. Through platforms like Uber Eats and Doordash, restaurants may be able to survive. For Brennan, he will continue to get shifts. For Tom and Sherri, they will find a way to deliver and bring Just Love Coffee to people’s homes. The store will survive if the people of Murfreesboro choose to support them. Just know that if you need a coffee, skip the big corporations. Support your local businesses, and support Just Love Coffee.
Marching Band Determination
Awarded to Bailey Stephens for work submitted in Fall 2020 to Amie Whittemore in ENGL 1010: Expository Writing
The most important lesson that I learned from my freshman season of marching band was that determination comes in two forms: my individual determination to achieve my best performance through sheer force of will, and the determination of the entire ensemble to bring together their individual performances into a single cohesive production. Since I had three seasons of middle school winter guard under my belt, I already knew the basic techniques of all three fundamental pieces of color guard equipment: flag, sabre, and wooden rifle. Now that I was finally in high school, I was ecstatic to be able to participate in both guard seasons and take my skills to the next level by performing to the live music of a marching band. Joining a top-tier high school marching band is super challenging, so it took complete dedication for the entire season for my determination to pay off with a flawless run. Indiana is one of the most competitive states for marching, and in fact, the season-ending championships, the Bands of America (BOA) Grand National Championships, are held annually just 17 miles south of my school at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis. My band, the Carmel Marching Greyhounds, has been in the top ten in the nation for 20 years in a row. However, despite all of our successes, for the previous three years, we had not managed to win the Indiana State Championships because our greatest rival, Avon High School, lay in wait just 17 miles east of that stadium.
We started the 2016 marching band season with a chip on our shoulder. For two years running, Avon had finished ahead of us at BOA. While we could stand losing to other great bands like Broken Arrow, William Mason, the Woodlands, and Tarpon Springs, it stung too much to lose to the kids next door. Our show this year was going to be very different from recent shows because, instead of many props, we had a concept. The show was entitled “Adagio Presto” and as the name suggests the show was about slow and very fast. So, the concept was to showcase the different tempos of music and interpret them through marching band formations. When the show was in its adagio and ballad sections, our movements were slow and very graceful. The presto sections required us to run at full speed while performing for several minutes. The final movement of the piece had half the band performing at an adagio tempo while the other half ran at presto speed. It was beautiful, controlled madness. Our movements had to tell and emphasize the feeling that we were trying to create.
My individual determination was shaped by the unbelievable demands in our schedule. We practiced every day before and after school. Practice would always start by 6:00 a.m. at the field and go until school started. It resumed right after school each day and usually ended around 9:00 p.m. Every Saturday starting in June, we rehearsed more than 12 hours per day. The biggest hardship for me during the show was a prop that we had to “wear.” It was basically a running parachute like professional football players use to improve their sprinting speed. I was probably the tiniest freshman, and the instructors gave me the furthest distance to run, right through the middle of the field. I thought that my little legs would never get me to my next mark on time. My other greatest worry was my head instructor, Rosie Queen. She is one of the biggest names in the color guard world. She scared me to death. You hoped that she was never looking your way when you made a mistake because she demanded perfection. Lucky for me, she was usually with the weapons, and I was mostly tossing flags in this show. The fear of my name on Rosie’s lips only strengthened my determination to perform a mistake-free routine.
When I finally saw Avon’s show, it was almost the complete opposite of our show. Their show was called “Go Forth!” and featured music by Aaron Copeland and narration from Walt Whitman’s poem “Pioneers! O Pioneers!”. The only thing that came into my mind while watching it was Dora the Explorer because their guard members were all wearing pastel backpacks. Even if their show reminded me of a kid’s cartoon, it did not disappoint the crowd. At each competition in the 2016 regular season, Avon was unstoppable, no matter how fast we ran. Even when our show got better, and I actually came closer to hitting my marks, Avon was still about a point ahead. Of course, they would be named the Indiana State Champion for the fourth year in a row.
We were sick of losing to Avon, but we were not going to let them stop us. We kept refining our show, still looking for that one thing to put us on top. The Grand National Championships were our last opportunity left to prove ourselves. This competition features 100 schools that have already been through several qualifying tournaments to reach that point. After the opening round, only 30 schools advance to the semifinals. In the finals, the 12 best bands fight for the crown. I felt that I had a solid prelims performance on Friday and was excited for the next round. But when that semifinals finally came, everything fell apart for me near the end of the presto movement. When I sprinted to the back sideline with my parachute in order to grab my closer flag, it was nowhere to be found. Someone had beat me to the sideline and grabbed my flag by mistake. Luckily, I did not panic, but I had to sit out of bounds and wait until the run was over. After that debacle, I felt that I had ruined everything for the team after all of us had worked so hard to get there. Then, my favorite senior reassured me and calmed me down. To my surprise, we still made finals, and I was determined to put on the best show of my life.
Since we made it to the finals, we prepared to unleash our secret weapon. Our show ended with 200 musicians disappearing underneath a gigantic, black parachute. In this final performance, we made the risky gambit of trying to stick the lead performer through a hidden hole in the center of the parachute. This time my run went perfectly. I hit my spots with ease, and my closer flag was waiting for me to use it. This performance was the one time that I was able to do my movements flawlessly without struggling. Honestly, I could not believe that the band was able to pull off the disappearing and reappearing trick, especially when it was our first time doing it in competition. The crowd went wild, and we hoped that it was enough to win.
After the final band performed, all the teams gathered in the dimly lit hallways underneath the stadium to march out for the awards procession. As our band finally left the tunnel out onto the field, we were dazzled by the bright lights and 20,000 screaming spectators. While we waited for the final results, thousands of butterflies filled my stomach. I was so anxious and worried that I thought I might puke. First, they announced the additional awards. Avon won Outstanding Musical Performance and then Outstanding Visual Effect. After hearing those awards, I started to feel deja vu with Avon winning again. However, before my band won Outstanding General Effect, the announcer reminded the crowd that “in the event of a tie, the rank is determined based on the highest General Effect Score.” Slowly, the emcee announced the final scores for each band from twelfth until third place. Only Carmel and Avon remained. Then they announced both teams’ scores: 97.45. For a second, I thought we had just tied. Suddenly, Carmel was declared the champion based on winning the General Effect category. I was on the edge of tears. Then I turned to look at all of my friends beside me, and everyone was crying tears of joy. Finally, a competition where we felt that all our efforts had paid off and we were able to accomplish something great. The fact that the championships had never been decided through a tiebreaker before made all the struggles worth it. Our determination made all the difference.
Adventures at Grand Adventures Comics
Awarded to Dakota Bobb for work submitted in Fall 2020 to Tom Tyner in ENGL 1010: Expository Writing
Off of NW Broad Street in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, there is a little shop that houses a nerdtopia. Fans of DC comics may recognize the symbol over the shop as the logo for said comics but with “GA” replacing the “DC.” That “GA” stands for Grand Adventures, and for fans of comic books and various board/card games, it is exactly that. The shop is home to nearly every comic book you may have an interest in, and if they don’t have it, then they’ll get it for you with a custom order. They also host events for card games and tabletop board games for hardcore and casual players alike. If you are someone who has an interest in these things, then chances are you’ve at least heard of Grand Adventures, and if you’re not interested, then Grand Adventures might be the place that changes your mind.
When you walk into the shop, you get a sense of how grand it really is. Comics and graphic novels are to the right of the store, the newest issues being promoted close to the front, with the wall covered from top to bottom with hundreds of issues of comics. If you can’t find an issue you’re looking for there, then you might find it within a book rack or the many boxes that are organized according to the publisher and then alphabetically located in front of that wall. Toward the back of the store are collectible action figures and models for the most hardcore fans of various movies, games, anime, etc. Continuing along the wall to the left of the store are the many board and card games that are placed upon shelves for easy viewing. Wrapping back around to the front-left side of the store brings us to a small area dedicated to the painting and decorating of figurines and set pieces to games like Warhammer 40000 along with books that explain the story lore behind those games. In the middle of the store are several tables for anyone to use who wishes to come in and play a game of their choosing. The store captures a great sense of what it feels like to genuinely love these things by displaying artwork and collectible figures from all of the previously mentioned, scattered across the store wherever you look.
Grand Adventures is owned and operated by Chris Pryor. Chris has owned the shop for the past 12 years of the shop’s 17-year life. He purchased it from a friend who had also purchased it from someone else. “The shop has seen a huge change in the past 12 years,” Chris explains. “We used to be in a smaller store down the street and now carry some different stuff.” That “different stuff” that Chris refers to are things such as Warhammer figurines that have grown in popularity over the years. These figurines are used as playing pieces in the game Warhammer 40000, and Chris’s shop sells both the figurines and supplies for players to paint those figurines for their own custom models.
While those who are interested in comics and games obviously are drawn to the store, what keeps people coming back are the events that the store holds for the players of those games. “While lately no events are being held due to COVID, typically we run card game events, tabletop events, and so on,” Chris says. “We mostly have tournaments, with our most popular games being Warhammer 40000 and Magic: The Gathering, but we also have casual play for those who wish to come in and have a game. We’re primarily a community-driven store, and without it, the gamers don’t have anywhere to play outside of their homes, and without them, our business is much smaller.”
Someone might think, “Where am I supposed to start with all of this? There is just too much!” To that, I would say, ask the staff at Grand Adventures. Along with Chris, the Grand Adventures staff are extremely passionate about their jobs and walk people through where to get started in a certain comic series or how to play a board game or card game. “Always start with the various card starter sets available,” Chris suggests. “Box sets are also available for tabletop miniature games as well. We walk people through this daily, and the same goes for comics.” These environments can be intimidating for someone on the outside, but both the staff at Grand Adventures and the players are welcoming and eager to show newcomers the ropes to their world.
The environment of Grand Adventures Comics and Games is reflected from the moment you read the name of the store. The store will set you out into an adventure of the world of comics, and with the various options to choose from, something is bound to grab your attention. If you’ve ever had an interest in board/card games of either a casual or competitive nature, then check out Grand Adventures. It’s an amazing environment to try something new with a welcoming community that wants to share their love for the comics and games that drew them to the store.
Genre Analysis: Game Manuals
Awarded to Alice Rethi for work submitted in Fall 2020 to Dr. Kate Pantelides in ENGL 1010: Expository Writing
Before you lies a cardboard mat. Squares are drawn over it with small and colorful pieces of plastic dotting the spaces in between. You hold precisely three cards, all with their own name, purpose, and artwork. You fan them in your hand, not knowing what their exact purpose is. Next to you is a small pile of wooden structures and an ant’s house painted red. Even further in both directions are two other seats, filled with other people who are just as confused as you are. Across from you sits the only person to trust. They fiddle with the cardboard one more time before picking up a pamphlet and flipping through the first few pages. Then they finally begin to explain…
The idea of a board game is simple: it’s a game to be played on a table, using strategy and luck to beat your opponents. Needless to say, I’m a big fan of this type of game. There isn’t any tragic backstory that makes me interested in the way that colorful plastic and cardboard move around, but they’re just interesting to me. Board games have existed for over 5,000 years, so even if one isn’t familiar with the more obscure games, they almost certainly have seen a Monopoly board or have played a game of checkers. Board games as a genre are too broad to analyze effectively, for there is too much variation within each game that would make comparison between them all more of a hassle than it’s worth. But, all these games do have one thing in common. They all have rules. You can’t have a game without rules, and the most effective way to communicate rules is with a manual.
Boardgame manuals exist to inform the player how to use the pieces they have been given, how to traverse across a game board, how to play cards from their hand or any communal deck or pile, and most importantly, how to win. Without a manual, you have a pile of cardboard and plastic with no function. Sure, they are usually pretty pieces with nice art, and you could always set everything up in a way that looks right enough and let chaos dominate your life, but I feel as if that would be cheating the game designer who has spent hours and even days making a game work as smoothly as it possibly can.
The three manuals that I have chosen to analyze are the manuals from the games Coup by Rikkit Tahta, Monopoly by Lizzie Magie and Charles Darrow, and Scythe by Jamey Stegmaier. (One quick note, I forgot that the version of Monopoly my family owns is the Super Mario brothers Monopoly, which is basically the same game, and that is the version of the rulebook I looked at for this analysis.) The reason I chose these three games is for how much they vary in complexity. Coup is a simple hidden role game, costing about 15 dollars; Monopoly is a board and economy game, which you can find for 20-40 dollars for an average version (or 400 dollars if you’re a crazy person); and Scythe is a massive combat and land resource management game, which will run the buyer roughly 70 dollars for the base game. The amount of strategy a game requires to play has nothing to do with how much it costs, but complexity, game pieces, and overall modes of play are certainly influenced by the quality and expense of the game.
Coup’s manual is seven pages, on 6-by-3 inch paper. Monopoly’s manual is seven pages as well but on 7-by-6 inch paper. Scythe’s manual is 31 pages, on 9-by-12 inch paper.
So, what do all these games have in common? And what does each manual do to explain these things? I’ll start with the sections of each. It all starts with the piece count, set-up, and the goal. First things first, make sure you have every piece that the game is supposed to come with. If you’re missing any pieces due to a factory error, and the game is fresh out of the box, then the game could be rendered unplayable. Next is set-up. You need to know where each stack of cards goes, how many cards or other resources are given to each player at the beginning of the game, where players begin on a game board, and who’s going first. Then, right after, is the goal—how to win—always sitting pretty near the beginning of the manual because it’s not a game without the thrill of competition, and there’s no competition if there isn’t a winner.
Next in each of the manuals is the gameplay section, which explains how the game is played. Here is where deviations begin, but one thing that is common to each of these games in their gameplay is a turn cycle. Not every player goes at once, so each player needs their own time to play cards or take actions. This is another thing that must be explained for each gameplay section: what actions can be taken. The actions, of course, are different for every game. For example, in Monopoly, all you really do is roll the dice to move, then decide what to do with your properties once your place on the board is different. In Coup and Scythe, however, you’ll usually have four to five unique actions you can take on any given turn, all having to do with furthering your resources as a player, or in some cases, attacking opponents. No player can enter a game unclear of what they can do with what they’re given.
The next section of each manual is an explanation of the pieces. Each of these games has a currency system—Coup and Scythe use a coin system, and Monopoly uses a paper money system. Each of these needs a value, and the player must know why they would want the money to begin with, what they can trade it in with, what they use it with, and how important it is to winning the game. Money, however, is the only convention in terms of resources in these three games. Scythe goes even further, using natural resources like oil and food to add complexity to the game while still having a currency system.
The last thing given in these manuals is an example play, which gives newer players an idea of what gameplay will look like in an idealized game. It highlights how the turn order moves, what important parts of a turn are, and how one player can take different actions from one turn to the next.
I want to take a moment here to mention the cousin of the manual: the reference card. Reference cards are cards that are given to each player as a reminder of what they can do. Reference cards (or reference boards, as they are often made of a more durable material) are necessary for more complex games where it’s easy to forget an important aspect of play. Any of the three conventions of board games from above could be highlighted in a reference card. When a player is too caught up in the turn order, or what schemes their opponent is trying to hatch, or even just counting their money to know if they go bankrupt next round, it’s easy for their mind to slip and forget exactly what can be done when the turn comes back to them.
While all the similarities listed above give way to deviations in their content, the most noticeable deviation is the aesthetics of each manual. Coup is a quiet and subtle lying game. Its manual is elegant and simple, as the only pictures are the ones used to explain the role cards in the piece explanation portion. The Mario Monopoly manual is more bombastic, much more colorful with pictures and portraits of the Mario Brothers and their friends that help to explain each part of the game board and each action a player can take. The Scythe manual follows the aesthetics of the game, which is an industrial steampunk 1920’s style affair. The pages are toned brown and stained, the colors are mostly muted and toned out, and the art used evokes a higher sense of realism than in the other two games, which is true also for the game itself.
These differences can show how each game is marketed, as each manual seems to go along with the audience the game is trying to attract. Coup’s manual makes it seem like a player is about to take part in something worth taking seriously because the game itself needs to be taken seriously. It’s a lying game; the smallest lapse of judgment could cost a player their win, and carefully plotting is extremely important. In stark contrast, Mario Monopoly has no real reason to take itself seriously at all. Its main audience is the middle of the Venn diagram between people who like Mario and people who want to play Monopoly, which is mostly families with moderately young children. Then, there’s Scythe, which can market itself both as an intensely complex board game and as a steampunk art piece with how detailed and stylized the game pieces and cards are. I can see aesthetics influencing the choice when purchasing these three games. Why choose Mario Monopoly over classic Monopoly? Why choose to play Scythe if you aren’t usually the kind of person who would play such complicated games? Why buy Coup over any of the other, somewhat sillier lying games on the market? The reason is all aesthetics, all perfectly portrayed in the manual.
As I mentioned in my explanation of the three manuals, their size differs greatly. Coup’s is the smallest, and Scythe’s is the largest, which is a direct correlation not only to the monetary cost of the games but also the complexity. Scythe’s section on setting up the game takes four whole pages out of its 31 because Scythe has to divide all of its separate game boards, miniatures, reference cards, resource tokens, and victory trackers across however many people are playing it, which could be up to five. Coup’s set-up, on the other hand, takes up almost half of one of its small pages because each player has two cards and two coins, and that’s it. This length of section carries over for every section I mentioned earlier, with Scythe’s manual taking significantly longer to parcel through than Monopoly’s or Coup’s.
The question posed by the length of the manual is why someone would want to play a more complicated game than a simpler one. I mentioned briefly earlier how the amount of strategic thinking you must put into a game does not necessarily correlate to its price or complexity, with both concepts tied to how lengthy a manual usually is. I would say that my average game of Coup involves much more strategic thinking than my game of Monopoly, for example. But the more expensive a game gets, the more pieces there are, and the more mechanics are added. It’s inevitable, really, that a higher price tag brings justification. There are three major reasons I can think of that someone would prefer to play these highly complex games than experience simpler offerings. The first is the challenge. Learning a new game and its mechanics, strategizing in a way that you haven’t had to before, and learning any secret plays or sneaky workarounds a game has hidden in its rules are the reasons why many are drawn to this engaging form of entertainment. The second is the spectacle, to see a thousand tiny plastic warriors lined up on a fully painted board, ready to do battle against your opponent’s territories. This is the same reason that people are drawn to Scythe because of its steampunk aesthetic: it is just cool to see. And the last reason, which is just for fun—to be with friends, to bond over grand victory and crushing defeat, to experience every necessarily unnecessary complexity a game has to offer, to thumb through your new user’s guide for a painted pile of plastic and cardboard, all with a few friends across from you at the table.
The three manuals all show a different type of game, a different group of people who could be enticed by a tabletop board game, and a vastly different level of complexity. Even though they, like most other games, need to communicate the basics of the game, the manuals are microcosms of the game itself. Manuals convey representations of what you can expect, what difficulties there are in teaching the game to new players, and why someone would want to play it at all. Just think about what kind of game would give you no manual. The goal of that game would be utter chaos. The people who would buy it would buy it either to experience the crazy antics that could be contained within, or maybe they would just have to know why and how there couldn’t be a manual at all. The manuals, I think, are the most important piece of the game box when you buy it off the shelf. No board, stack of cards, or miniature figurine will tell you more about it than the pamphlet that informs you, quite simply, how to play.