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  1. First-Years’ First Days

    August 24, 2012 by Tommy Titan

    Hey Tommy…

    Got any tips for the first-years on their first day of class next week?

    Love your column!

    Excited Tol

    Dear Tol,

    Of course I have advice for them. What a stupid question. My advice is simple: sit in the front row, as close to the professor as possible. Get there early. Stand up and introduce yourself to your professor immediately when they walk in the door. Shake their hand. Make an impression. It could help your grade, but more importantly, everyone will respectdespise you.

    There was this one kid, Vance Legstrong, who I took The Science of Six-Packs with back in ’75. A real overachiever/know-it-all. Not many friends. But he introduced himself to the professor right away when she walked in on the first day of class and we all immediately saw him as the guy who would undoubtedly be setting the curve for the entire semester. As much as we despised him as a human being, the instant Dr. Doapine announced a group project, we all ran over to Vance’s desk to ask to be his partner.

    So that’s my advice: be the annoying kid, the teacher’s pet. Everybody will hate you, but you’ll be a hot commodity on group project day.

    BTW: Vance, if you read this, thanks again for choosing me. Also, your laundry will be ready at 3:00.


  2. Titanientation Events

    August 17, 2012 by Tommy Titan

    Dear Tommy,

    I’m going to be a freshman this year. I’ve been looking at the schedule for orientation next week and it looks pretty full. If I can’t drag myself out of my room for every event, what are your top recommendations?


    Planning To Be Lazy

    Dear Be,

    I would never condone skipping out on anything. Turning Titan is an integral part of your college experience. If you miss even a single event, I will never truly consider you a Titan. I won’t pose for pictures with you at football games or answer any more of your incessant questions. Basically, you’ll be dead to me. So go to everything. But if you want some advice of what to mentally prepare for, here are a couple of my favorites.

    Hands down, the best event of the week is the hypnotist, Frederick Winters (Thursday night). I say “hands down” because I recommend that if you’re a sane human being and you don’t want to be embarrassed in front of 500 people you’ve known for less than a week, you should keep your hand down when he asks for volunteers. Seriously, though, this guy has performed at Turning Titan every year since, like, 1850. This show is always a must-see.

    One of my other favorites is Real World 101 (Friday evening). It touches on some touchy topics, but it’s always funny and engaging. I’ve personally gone to this show three times and, unless they’ve gotten rid of my favorite segment, I’d like to recommend that you sit next to your roommate so you can make sure she’s paying attention when they demonstrate the problem with the combination toothbrush/vibrator.

    And you think I’m kidding.


  3. Smarty-Pantses

    August 3, 2012 by Tommy Titan


    I was curious if you knew who the smartest professor on campus really is? Could we have a contest or something to determine this? I’m serious, I have to know!

    Looking for Professor Big Brain

    Dear LOOKING,

    The last time we had a contest like this was back in 1905. The contest was set up pretty much like the game “Counter-Factuals” on The Big Bang Theory, except that the questions weren’t quite so predictable. My favorite sociology professor ended up winning, with the question “In a world where homosexuals are widely regarded as our equals, what type of business would continue to hold on to today’s rational values?” He answered “poultry-centric rapid-speed eatery.” The panel of judges agreed (and, it turns out, he was right). Unfortunately, a few of the students decided to steal all of the chicken from the campus icebox and lay it on the floor outside of the professor’s office. That, on its own, wasn’t that big a deal, but when President Smith responded by covering the quad with chicken coops, the Board of Trustees decided it was probably time for the President to retire. We haven’t had another contest like that ever since.

    But that was only half of your question. I do, actually, know who the smartest professor is. His name rhymes with Mommy Frighten, and he’s not actually a professor.


  4. Summer Jitters

    July 12, 2012 by Tommy Titan


    I am getting a little anxious about coming to campus. Summer is quickly coming to an end and my thoughts have turned to school again. What if all my professors make me sing my homework to them in front of everyone? What if my new roommate does experiments on me while I sleep? What if my mom shows up with cookies during my first class? What if all of my clothes turn invisible during my first speech?

    Sleepless Hair Twister

    Dear Hair,

    I’m pretty sure your professors won’t make you sing your homework in class. Unless you’re going to be a music major. Or if you’re taking a class from Dr. Liffiton; you never know what kind of crazy/awesome/maniacal idea he’ll have on any given day. Not that he ever had me rewrite my Python script in the form of a limerick or anything… But if he did, it was the most fun I ever had taking an exam.

    See, the thing is, the kinds of things you’re worried about are the wrong things to be worried about. More importantly, what are you going to wear on move-in day? ‘Cause I have it on good authority that they’ll take a picture of you right away when you get here and it’ll haunt you like the stench of your roommate’s pet muskox ’til the day you graduate. (NOTE: Don’t rat out your roommate for having a pet muskox. He will get MAD. And you do NOT want to know what an angry former muskox owner will do to your fridge when you’re in class the next day.)

    Feeling better? Good. Glad I could help.


  5. Squirls

    June 21, 2012 by Tommy Titan


    Who was @IWU_QuadSquirls? And why did he/she have to graduate? Will they continue their tweets?

    Squirl Lover

    Dear Lover,

    I take it you’re a new student. For all those upperclasspeople who haven’t been browsing the IWU Admissions site or obsessively searching the Twitterverse for absurdist phraseology relating to a low-down or tree-top perspective on the IWU quad, @IWU_QuadSquirls is a Twitter account purporting to come from a squirrel who lives on campus. When the university administration started seeing these tweets fly by, the accounts’ hidden identity quickly became standard watercooler gossip. I tried to tell people it really was a squirrel with a Blackberry, but those stodgy administration-types didn’t believe me. Then one day, the Admissions office decided this squirrel was awesome enough that it deserved a place on their website, and it very quickly gained a wide audience among prospective students.

    Fast forward a couple of months to the end of April and this shocking (shocking!) revelation:

    To all of those who have faithfully followed my rantings and ravings, tomorrow will end my stint at Illinois Wesleyan University. Muchluv.

    And it quickly became apparent that the squirrel had gained enough class credits to graduate. There have been a few tweets since, but nothing earth-shattering like a gang war over the takeover of the account or as if I had stomped a little harder than usual.

    So, that’s the backstory. The squirrel’s identity remains a topic of gossipsation to this very day. Even I, your near-iwumniscient mascot, can’t honestly say that I know who runs that account or what its fate may be. I can only hope, as much as you do, that we will continue to be blessed with nuggets of wisdom like this:

    I thought the large hole next to CLA was a great place to squirrel away nuts…now there’s a crane on top of my stash. Shootsies.


  6. Tommy, Defined.

    June 4, 2012 by Tommy Titan


    Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Tommy Titan, the best mascot in the world. I’m also really smart, so I was given this box to use as an advice column. I usually answer a question every week during the school year, then take the summer off to relax in Hawaii and build up my muscle definition for the football season. This winter was warmer than McDonalds coffee, so I was able to stay pretty active… I guess I’ll stick around and help you little froshies instead.

    Check out the archives ( and/or send me an email ( for your dose of knowledgedom.


  7. Cave-mate

    May 14, 2012 by Tommy Titan


    I am trying to decide on whether or not to request a new roommate for next year. Our current situation has degraded so much that all we basically do is greet each other with some grunts and clicks and then try to annoy each other enough until one of us flees the building. Should I make a move or could I do worse?

    I Deserve Better

    Dear Better,

    You do realize that you kind of had to make that decision back in March, right? Not to say that ORL is full of people who hate students and won’t let them change their minds three months before move-in, but it can be kind of a pain for them to deal with stuff like this. If you want to change rooms, you might just be the first domino to fall in a series of room changes that unravels the fabric of the universe. So be really sure you want to do it before you make a formal request. Or just ask your RA or RD for advice first, ’cause they’re horrible people who decided to work in student affairs because they hate helping students with their life choices.

    As far as other potential roommates go, it can be better or much, much worse. If your current roommate doesn’t smell like he bathed in the onion rings Saga hasn’t served in two weeks, you’re better off than I was with my first-year roommate. Sophomore year was a little better, when I was living with the guy who later invented The Clapper, except for the time we went to a concert together and he acted like he was having a seizure after every song. Then there’s the guy who put Band-Aids over my eyes while I was asleep and took pictures of me. True story.

    The real question here is what happened to make the situation so bad, so fast. Did your roommate fall in lust with a cavewoman or was it you who recently contracted a case of two-year-old-itis? Obviously, if you’re the problem, finding a new roommate won’t really fix anything for you.


  8. Girlfind

    April 27, 2012 by Tommy Titan


    Can you help me find a girlfriend? I’ve struck out on campus. It’s been both humiliating and something I may never recover from. I also tried eHarmony and had about as much success as Lloyd Christmas’ bathroom encounter with Sea Bass in Dumb & Dumber.

    I make Girls Hurl

    Dear Hurl,

    Have you ever considered that you may just not be that appealing to women? Nah, can’t be that; you’re a TITAN.

    Come to think of it, Valentino never had me sign a picture of my sixteen-pack abs. Two ideas:

    1. Find a copy of that picture and make a T-shirt out of it. Be careful, though; only wear it in front of a woman you want to be yours forever. Those abs had more power over women (and gay men) than Cupid’s arrow.
    2. Figure out who Valentino was. Assuming he gave his girlfriend a sweatshirt for Valentine’s Day, there’s probably a great girl on the market.


  9. Bladduation

    April 20, 2012 by Tommy Titan


    I watched a friend of mine graduate from IWU last year and thought the ceremony was VERY long! I will have my parents and grandparents in attendance this year to watch me get my diploma. I am a little worried at how long the ceremony lasts because my grandparents are so old. Is there anything that can be done to speed up the commencement process?

    My Grandpa Needs to Pee

    Dear Pee,

    First off, a dumb question: have you thought about staging a fake ceremony? If your grandpa is anything like mine, all you’d have to do is gather a few of your friends, grab your mortarboards, and have someone stand behind a podium and shout all of your names. Easy, shmeasy.

    Assuming that’s not going to work, there’s a little-known secret option for people who don’t feel like sitting on the quad for hours on end. Through the magic of the interwebs, the ITS department will be streaming video of the ceremony online. For grandparents with bad vision, weak bladders, and no computer skillz, they’ll even be putting the video right on the recently-giganticized Hansen screen. And, again, if your grandparents are anything like mine, they won’t even notice the difference.


  10. JWPRsCared

    April 9, 2012 by Tommy Titan


    I am presenting at the John Wesley Powell conference this weekend. I always get really nervous when I have to talk with strangers. What if they ask me something I have no clue about? What can I do to calm down and come across as a normal human?

    Nervous Ashley

    Dear Nervous,

    I can definitely relate to you on this one. I’m always worried about people thinking I don’t know what I’m talking about, so my strategy is to just never talk at all. Next time you see me out and about on campus, come up to me and try your absolute hardest to get me to talk to you. I promise, it won’t work.

    In a presentation context, however, the silent treatment might not work very well. You could try another of my tactics, wearing a fake head over your real one, so even if you do say something stupid, people won’t be able to tell that it’s actually you. Or, my personal favorite method, when someone asks a question you can’t answer, laugh really loudly and say “that is the STUPIDEST question I’ve ever heard!”

    Let me know how that works for you.