When those seemingly endless lectures and insurmountable exams get you down there is one office on campus for which you can surely feel grateful. The Associated Students Productions office (ASP) acts like Western's very own social butterfly, putting together the events that keep us entertained and connected to the world outside of academia.

ASP provides everything from concerts, to lectures and speaker series, comedy acts, slam poetry performances, mixed media and interactive art exhibits in the VU Gallery, intimate shows in the Underground Coffeehouse, and films showings of everything from blockbusters to indie darlings to cult favorites.

When asked why the ASP is so important and central to student life, ASP Director Jeff Talbot explained, “Student money is what makes us able to do what we do. To not come to our events is like buying a ticket for a concert and staying home sick instead. We realize that it's your money and that's why we try to keep our programming really eclectic and diverse.”

Since mandatory Student and Activity fees support AS programming, all Western students are tied financially to what the ASP is up to.

This year officially starts off with VU Late Night, heralded by ASP Special Events. Late Night is an AS collaboration that occurs on Friday when the Viking Union is left open at night with a plethora of activities inside. This year VU Late Night will provide tables of free food, live music, iPod giveaways, hypnotists and comedians in the Multi-Purpose Room, an erotic bake sale, the ASP poster sale, and two free showings of the movie “Knocked Up.”

When they're done cleaning up the Late Night mess, the Special Events office will be focusing on a spoken word event, “Solomon Sparrow's Electric Whale Revival Tour,” set for Oct. 25 in the PAC Concert Hall. Featuring poets Anis Mojgani, Buddy Wakefield, Dan Leaman, Mike McGee, and Derrick Brown, all recent National and World Slam Poetry champions, this show is a chance to catch some live spoken word and a definite don't miss fall event.

On Thursday, ASP Films is clearly starting the year off right with a huge outdoor screening of recent thriller and Hitchcock remake, “Disturbia” on South Campus's Fairhaven Intramural Lawn, with festivities beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Presented by Comcast and sponsored by Banner Bank, AS Outdoor Movie Night is “massively free” according to Films coordinator Paul Whelan, with free hot dogs, chips, and music in addition to your cost-free film attendance—there are even rumors of free smoothies.

Although ASP Film showings are generally dirt-cheap ($2 or less), this is a perfect introduction to their programming that will cost you nothing. Not to mention the fun you'll have watching a new thriller outside in the dark woods of this campus on a 50-foot screen. And remember, despite our cantankerous Northwest weather there will be a rain back-up plan, just keep your eyes posted for details. While you're at it, pick up a handy dandy ASP Films Calendar, since they're invaluable as the weather worsens and you're stuck looking for something to do.

Every Wednesday and Friday night the Underground Coffeehouse (UGCH), your relaxing, coffee-soaked haven from campus stress, transforms into a hefty music venue in its own right, providing live music in every genre imaginable. The hard summer work of coordinators Yuri Tolpin and Rosie Sabaric is evident in their tremendously strong fall line-up.

After a VU Late Night kickoff show with the Senate, the UGCH managed to snatch a date with the awesome new local group, All Creatures of Good Heart on Oct. 3.

Featuring members of I Love You Avalanche, they play an intelligent brand of indie pop that has local music fans raving. Coordinator Yuri Tolpin said he's really looking forward to the show, explaining, “It's really cool to see a band that's so new and shows so much promise – to see them play their music when they're still so excited about it.”

The next week the UGCH is bringing in bluegrass virtuosos Feed and Seed for a Wednesday show on Oct. 10, and a sure to be packed and riotous Jason Webley show on Oct. 12. Some other huge shows set for October include local guitar hero Johnny McIntyre on Oct. 17 and a loud, rocking Lonely Forest and the Oregon Donor show on Oct. 26. The UGCH is set to finish up the month with a special Halloween show featuring local marauding and pillaging sweethearts Pirates R' Us on Oct. 31. All shows are free and start at 8 p.m.

The VU Gallery, the artistic wing of ASP, kicks off their year by hosting the ASP Poster Sale from today through Oct. 5 in the gallery space, Viking Union 507. The Poster Sale is your best and cheapest bet at throwing some life into a drabby dorm or sketchy apartment.

After the posters are cleared and the tables removed, the VU Gallery gets things started with an exhibit co-sponsored with the Restore and Allied Art. “Re-Art” the exhibit, featuring art made with 90% recycled materials will be up for viewing until Oct. 26, with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 11. Just a little heads up: don't miss the VU Gallery receptions – they combine free food and engaging art displays like nobody's business.

Although ASP Pop Music might seem hard pressed to top off the string of huge shows they provided last fall, things are looking busy from the acts they've already announced this year. Area heroes, the Presidents of the United States of America are set to bring a high-energy kickoff show with local pop brass favorites The Love Lights, on our first weekend back, 8 p.m. Saturday at ASP Pop Music Coordinator Hunter Motto is looking forward to the show himself, “The first show back is really exciting – you remember how much you like doing this and making people happy.”

The very next week expects a packed Wednesday show with Built to Spill and Camper Van Beethoven on Oct. 3. People are still buzzing about the last time Built to Spill played this campus so don't miss your chance this time around. (Later this quarter expect a huge Jimmy Eat World show on the Performing Arts Center Mainstage, the return of Minus the Bear, a Pinback concert, and some top-secret, as yet to be announced shows.)

Last but certainly not least, the ASP Civil Controversy Series is busy working on some incredible fall events, including a lecture on men and masculinity with internationally recognized sociologist and author Michael Kimmel. Count on ASP Civil Controversy to spark some heated debates this fall.