Saturday, September 21, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday: Nothing

I'm standing on the edge of something white.  Something immense and white.  I can't tell how long my eyes have been open.  I don't remember when I might have gotten here.  Or anything else.

I can at least turn my head.  Still all white.  Actually, there's some off white, almost gray.  Kinda floating there in patches, like little islands.  I look down.

Where the fuck are my feet?!  Oh what the hell.  Why.  Why do I not know how long I've been here and why do I not have feet.  There is, however, some of that off-white stuff.  I try walking.  That, I can still do.  Even though I can't see my feet, I can feel them move, and I step on more of that off-white stuff.  It feels, uh... like air?  But air that I can walk on.  Like dense air.  Feels nice.  I feel like my feet are... clean.  Strangely.

I look up, and look around.  There's a silver glint, far away.  Maybe a block away, a few people down.  Weird how I can still make those kinds of relations while I'm in here.  Especially because I can't remember anything.  This should really piss me off.  But that silver thing is... entrancing.  And moving?

It turns.  Turns to me.  Because it's a person, kind of.  Or a silver shadow of one.  Part of it waves, just a small ripple at its top.  It's becoming less formless (more formed, whatever) by the second.  Shaped like a woman.  That's looking at me.  That's cool?  Part of the glint changes, close to where she (it? I don't know anymore) rippled for a second.  Right before it's too late and it turns out I'm just staring like a jackass, I realize she's smiling.  She's standing with her hands behind her back, one leg poised in front of another, hair rippling in a breeze that isn't there, and smiling at me.  There's a slight singing in my ears, like one of the invisible sounds of a computer operating.  I raise my hand and wave back, bobbing my fingers slightly.  I try to smile too.  I can feel myself smile, even though I'm not sure if I have a face.

I can see myself wave!  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement - I look, and there it is, there's a hand!  I don't remember if my hand always looked like that.  It's broad and flat and strong, but it's also shimmery.  And pink.  I'm like this silver woman that's smiling at me, but pink.  I bring my other hands up under my face and-  Oh damn, she's walking away.  What a sight though.  Even if she is silver and not all there... still got hips, and she knows how to use em.  I sigh.  I can feel air come out from somewhere inside of me.  I might still have lungs.

I look back at my suspended hands.  Pink shadows.  I don't know if they're shaped like my real body, however it looked before.  I turn them this way and that.  I may not be "all there", but I'm more there than the woman is.  Denser color, more than a bunch of outlines.  I can still feel the woman there.  I look up again.  She's further away now, standing and looking at me again.  The silver ripples of her hair twist.  She's no longer smiling, but she's looking at me.  I twiddle my fingers again, hands still suspended, in another wave.  Her head shakes and she turns around to walk away again.

I turn around.  I cry out in surprise.  That's definitely my voice.  I don't know whose voice, because though it's mine, I don't know the name I once owned... besides "Me".  Hovering maybe thirty feet away is a square, a colorful square.  There's more of the off-white stuff leading to the bottom of it in a path.  It looks like strokes from a great big paintbrush, with ill-defined edges.  I walk forward.  I don't know how this big white space works, but the off-white feels solid enough.  I don't think it'll drop out from beneath my feet.

I'm at the square now.  It's bright.  Strange how anything that exists in a giant, maybe endless field of white, can be bright.  I guess it's not a bright white.  Just a white, like the color of a chicken egg.  I place my hands on either side of this square.  It feels like a doorframe.  Speaking of doorframes, this square's big enough for me to jump through, no problem.

There's a warm breeze from this square.  There's lots of green.  I hear the swells of string players warming up.  Maybe there's an orchestra, far on the other side.  There's the caw of a few seagulls.  I can see a great structure like an opera house, crowned with curving points and sun-catching sides, an unusual piece of architecture.  Further on, against a blue sky, there's a white ferris wheel.

I stand against the square, this window, thumbs hooked into it, squinting my eyes against the warm breeze.  My thumbs... I can see them on the other side of this square.  I cry out in surprise again, and I almost fall back from the window.  They're normal!  They're like any other thumbs on any other person that isn't a pink shadow!  I take my hands away from the colored, floating square and look at them.  Pink and simple again.  I look at the square and gulp.  So warm.  So different.  I raise my hand, pointed like a shadow puppet.  Not ready for anything, I dip it in, past this ethereal wall and into the colored world beyond.  I let out breath that wasn't there.  As I thought: my pink shadow hand becomes a hand like any other man's.  I jerk it back through, lest something happen by leaving my hand in the colored world too long.  I stare at my shadow hand, flex it, see the mortal hand with lines and nails fade inside it.  I look up, through the colored window.  So warm, that breeze.

I almost take a step forward.  But...

I look back.  There's the silver woman.  Girl, female, whatever.  I don't know what she is, besides a she.  She's walking alone, sticking to the off-white islands and trails and floating villas.  I look back at the colored window.  There's one last fan of warm wind, a sting of orchestral strings.  Even the sound of a child laughing.  Or maybe it was a gull, I don't know.  But this is the last bid I hear from the world out there.

Farewell, window.

I turn and run forward, crying "Hey!" into the white beyond.  I don't know what I'm doing.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

So You're A Super Senior

Originally, I was going to graduate in 2014.  But sometimes life likes to throw you little curveballs.  And then there's people like me; the strange man in the Goofy hat and clogs playing baseball by himself, and in this case, throwing balls at his own face.

...Yes, I realize it's a set-up.  Go on.  Get it out of your system.  I deserve it.

Yea, at the end of my sophomore year, I tacked on an additional major (because there's like, three minors at Columbia, it's great), and along with it, an additional year.  Hopefully.  I mean, hopefully just one more year.  Now the time has come.  If what my Facebook feed says is true, every person ever is starting their senior year this week.  Aaaaaaannnnd then there's me.  Not doing that.  It's surreal.  And kinda sad.  Also really great, because I've found that I'm crazy-happy for everyone that's sailing off to Grown-Up Land come May (well, maybe), even people that I've fallen out of contact with.  I know I'll do the same eventually.  It might be with a smaller crew, and it'll kinda suck watching that first boat, the one we missed, chasing the horizon while we can still see the port - but since it's full of our friends, that makes it at least a little-

What the fuck happened to this post.  What even is this ship analogy.  I'm gonna move on while I still have a chance of being on-point.

Despite all my bellyaching purple prose that's eerily reminiscent of senior-year me,

being a super-senior-to-be (there's no way that's grammatically sound) isn't all bad.  In fact, it's hardly worse than being a regular senior.

I'm closing one of my degrees this year, so if worse really comes to worse, I can close up shop and be the last skipper to hop on board (and you thought the ship analogy was over with).  I'll have taken probably a third of my classes for nothing, but you know what?  Worse things happen to better people every day.  If I want to make games, I'll make games, formal education be damned.  Of course, being able to say "Hey, I'm kind of educated in dis shit and that guy isn't" is a nice concept.
The above is pretty tailored to my specific situation, but if there's a particular lesson to take away from it, it would be... uh... I don't really know.  You can always back out?  Or something like that?  Okay, next point.

You get to be in college for another year.  Come on - even as someone who goes to an arts school that doesn't have any of the components of your "typical college experience" (Greek system, a quad, school spirit, tests), even as a total neurotic prone to flopsweats, I can say "college is pretty freaking great".  Of course, the extra year does mean mo money (in so facto, mo problems).  But it also means mo excuses for not being totally self-reliant, mo parties (don't worry; it's not completely creepy until you're old enough to have finished medical school), mo connections, mo hanging out, mo campus food, mo electives, mo learning, mo school-sponsored events (also known as "the cheapest dates possible that don't suck"), etc.  Of course, none of these are guaranteed experiences - since you're in your fifth year, you might actually spend some of that extra school developing as a professional.  You know.  If you're into that kind of thing.

Assuming you're not a super-senior because you failed everything, it doesn't look bad on a resume.  Some argue that five years is quickly becoming "the norm"... but uh... what's a more clever way of saying "it isn't yet"?  While four years is still considered the mean, look at your extra year of backbreaking, specialized work in a more positive light: you've got that much more learning experience under your belt.  Hell, even if you are back for year five because your freshman year was a haze of Four Lokos and Left 4 Dead, every top has its spin.  Except, you know, really shitty ones.  Like ones with chips in the bottom.  Those probably don't spin more than once or twice.
...I'm saying you should embellish on your resume.

There's more time.  Again, I get it; time = money, an old adage that fits college to a tee these days.  But you can make it worth your while.  More time in school means more time for figuring out what you want to do.  Come on - don't pretend for a second that your career path is cut and dry just because you took some classes tailored to a specific field.  More time to add some cards to your rolodex (or, you know, wallet - the normal person's rolodex).  More time to look for prospects after your late graduation.  The idea of the fourth year being your senior year is kind of terrifying and back-asswards, if you think about it.  "Sup, person barely into your twenties?  Oh look, it's already your final round of required classes!  Probably the most grueling/important ones!  Have fun finding a job right the fuck afterwards!"  Not that I'm totally making excuses for myself or anything.  In a fifth year (at least I hope), you can intersperse your "time to test everything you were supposed to learn" classes with classes you otherwise wouldn't have had time for, outside-interests kinda stuff.

Well... only four entries, but I think I covered some broad strokes here.  See you next time!  Or, you know, not.  Cuz you're in another part of cyberspace.  And earth.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Shady Lab Dre Mathers Eminem Recovery's Back Back Again LP 15

Yeah, it's another "what to expect" post.  Well, kind of.  I guess it's more of a "this is what I'd not only like to see, but what I think is at least semi-likely considering what's happened since his last album"... post.  About Eminem.

As you may have heard, Eazy's (get it? like Weezy but Eazy cuz his name starts with an E? do you love me yet?) back in the lab, and his latest experiment's called... The Marshall Mathers LP 2.  A sequel to an early album.  Hmm.  Not automatically a bad thing, but imagine for a second, if you will, another artist saying their next album's gonna be a sequel to a hyper-acclaimed first-ish album of theirs.  The Joshua Tree (U)2.  Blood Sugar Sex Magik Returns.  Highway 61 Visited For A Third Time.  Son of the College Dropout (actually...).

First reactions?  None of these would sound like awful ideas, but they're not really necessary and it feels like they're kind of grasping at straws, or at least taking a jump backwards after all these years of growth.  That's how part of me feels about The Marshall Mathers LP 2.  However, the rest of me has very high hopes.  Em's already proved a few times that he's no slouch when it comes to concepts spanning multiple albums, no matter how tight or loose

they may be.  The Eminem Show and Encore.  Relapse and Recovery.  So what if he's a few years late on this one?  I'm sure he'll whip something up that's at least on par with the past few years.

That being said, these are a few hopeful "predictions" or educated guesses as to what we could see on the TMMLP2, based on what Eminem's been trending towards, what it feels like he's trying to recapture, what's happened in the world of popular culture these days.

Collaboration with a younger up-and-comer (and by young I mean like, close-to-my-age young).  My vote goes for Childish Gambino cuz he's a personal favorite, but somehow I don't think that's happening.  I really have no idea what they think of each other.  More likely, I'm leaning towards Hopsin or Danny Brown.

A song rife with Breaking Bad references, or at least with an accompanying video that lampoons it.  I just hope he's playing both parts (meaning Walter and Jesse... maybe Gus too... and Skyler... and Walter Junior... yeah, I think I'd enjoy that).  I don't think it's too far of a stretch.  Em's very up on popular culture (as any artist should be, IMO), and I'd think he's no stranger to as big a phenomenon as Breaking Bad.  Not to say I think he should jump on the bandwagon and start publicly advocating for the show for the hell of it.  Nothing against the show or its fanbase, but I feel like that would come across as kinda weird and forced, and very un-Eminem.  I just think there's a lot of connections to be drawn between his persona/phrases/aesthetic and the show, enough to make a song out of.

A sequel to Stan?  I'm talking more "spiritual sequel" here, like Love The Way You Lie Part 2 - doesn't continue the exact same narrative per se, but it's a further exploration of the pairing of those themes with that aesthetic.  Unless... a song about Stan's little brother having grown up over these past 13 years, fostering a burning hatred for the negligent star that (from his perspective) drove his brother to murder-suicide, now ready to take revenge?  Think about it.

Riffage and grooves worthy of the Mike Elizondo days.  We miss you, Mike (yeah, he was on like 4 tracks from Relapse, but he hasn't exactly been a series regular in years).  Don't get me wrong, I love everything Eminem's ever done (musically).  But his more recent albums seem a bit... I dunno, busy?  On a similar note...

Re-exploration of the pop-rap sensibility we saw on Recovery.  Maybe take a few tricks from that and apply it to the old grit and snarl of first-few-albums Eminem.  I know, pop-rap (a la Kanye, Gambino) and good old Midwestern horrorcore doesn't sound like the most homogeneous of mixtures, but sleek and aggressive go together better than you might think.  Black Skinhead, anyone?

M0ar juicy genre-bending.  Eminem's no stranger to including a variety of sounds in his albums, but he's generally hovered in the realm of popular music these days (hip-hop tropes, some pop here, some hard rock there, sometimes a garage aesthetic like in Won't Back Down or his latest, Berzerk).  Let's go batshit with this one.  He's already going for broke by making a sequel to an album almost 15 years later - why not go ass-crazy with it?  Not to say he should up and make this the bastard child of a David Bowie and Brian Eno record.  But hey, with the right balance of the familiar and the alien, this album could do for modern rap what Sandinista! did for punk, what Nevermind did for alternative.  Sure, rap's had several contenders for an album like that since Y2K - but nothing quite there, I'd argue.  Something minimalist and almost resembling spoken word.  A self-lampooning dance beat.  A collab with a metal guitarist.  Rapping in 6/8 over something Mumfordy.  There's endless possibilities in hip-hop, and I think Eminem's got the dynamite to blow that gold mine wide open.

And lastly...

A collaboration with Marilyn Manson that isn't a remix.  Okay, this isn't actually going to happen.  Ever.  But I said a-god-damn momma, I can dream.

Well, I think six predictions and a fantasy's enough for one day.  'Til next time!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Post About the VMAs (a.k.a. I Have No Pride)

'Bout that time again!  Yes, that time where I chain myself to a keyboard for a couple hours, subject you to a page or so of self-loathing and uninformed observations, all in the name of telling myself I'm a productive person.

...Hm.  Bummer note, eh?  Here's an absurdly happy dog.

I've been hearing a lot about these VMAs.  Like... Vehicle for Mediocre Antics or something, right?

Okay, so "ironic" humor's not my thing.  Yes, I know what the stupid freaking VMAs are.  I don't pay attention to them.  I pay them less attention than I do the Grammys.  That's not because I hate America or Miley Cyrus or "the mainstream" or just watching celebrities for a few hours.  It's fun, entertaining, mostly harmless.  Watching and enjoying shows like these isn't something to be criticized.

I just don't watch them because, well... what's a more intelligent way of saying "I don't wanna"?

There's some entertaining bits between awards.  Some of the winners deserve it, some of them don't.  There's flubs, gaffs, the magical antics of Kanye West, we get the drill.  For a schlub like me, the bulk of the entertainment comes from the ensuing social media outflow.  It's like hitting the drains after one great big honking mother of a storm; all kinds of crap washes out there, and some of it's actually pretty great.

For this week's post (or... one of them; maybe one of these days I'll actually get back to writing more than once a day), I've painstakingly collated data from various public channels into a set of uh...  Oh fer Christ, this is based entirely off my Facebook feed, okay?  It's a damn humor blog, kind of.  If you don't like it, there's the New Yorker.

5 Things To Expect From the Next VMAs

1. Lady Gaga will wear a dress made of live parrots.

I know, overdone.  But I'd really like to see this.  Was there even a thing about Lady Gaga at the Veemas this year?  Or was she out-crazied?

Assuming it still counts as crazy if it's totally pre-planned and inauthentic.

2. Someone else will try to pull an "I'ma let you finish" and promptly get popped in the face.

Then again, I don't think there's a lot of other Kanyes-in-waiting out there with the right balance of ego and batshittery (and a dash of cajones) that would try such a thing.  It would also have to be someone clinging to the final threads of relevancy, someone with so little pride they have to pull a horrible stunt that's somehow even worse for being done before.

Your time to shine, Billie.

3. I'll make another one of these stupid posts.

Cuz I'm really having trouble coming up with five things for this damnable post.

4. A barbershop quartet bit with Chris Brown, Kobe Bryant, Lil' Wayne, and Toby Keith.

Because if there's anything the VMAs love, it's hating women.

5. New category: The Video That Could Be Most Improved By Cameos From The Cast Of Jersey Shore

I don't actually know if the VMAs have categories.  That's how little I know about what I'm writing about.  But god damn it you know this should be a thing.  In the VMAs.  But like only the VMAs.  Please.


Well, that's enough phoning it in for one day.  Tune in next time for uh... something that isn't this.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kick-Ass 2; Not A Review

Like the title says, this post is about Kick-Ass 2 and uh... I'm not actually sure what the thesis of this post is going to be, besides trying to deconstruct what about this movie hit home with me so damn hard.

Before I continue, minor spoiler warning, maybe.  This is more preemptive than anything (I don't go into these posts with any sort of outline and I try to do it all in one sitting), and I'll try to avoid as many as possible.  But if I have a choice between a minor spoiler and speaking in Grey's Anatomy narration,

I was beginning to think the things that are could not be if they said that it couldn't be the way it was.

you're getting the spoiler.  I'll give you a big fat MINOR SPOILER labelly thing if one of them's coming up, so, I don't know, close your eyes 'til it's over or something.

I'll kick this off by saying yes, I admit this movie had its problems.  Some of the writing fell a tiny bit flat, a couple exchanges were a bit out-of-place/unwarranted - Example and Minor, Minor Spoiler cuz I don't really reveal anything: Kick-Ass kind of goes off on someone in the movie, even though as far as I could tell, there was no hint at any sort of prior resentment.  Even given the insane position this high school senior's in, some of the shit he says is unwarranted to the point of being out of character and comes across as a big, floating, elephant-shaped WTF in the room. End kind-of-not-really spoilers.  Of course, some of this I blame on them getting a whole different writer/director.

That was my biggest problem with it.  There were a couple unnecessary plot points - not even points, more just a couple random things they mentioned - but I can't really get into those without spoilers, so meh.  Other criticisms I've been hearing include "bad jokes" (not subjective at all) detracting from the plot, "too many characters"

"Cuz fuck ensemble casts, right?"

"Hear hear."


and being "uninspired" (or, Critic-ese for "I was high when I watched this movie").

I guess if you believe that the quality of a work of fiction is equivalent to the sum of its parts, then yes, you could argue that it's not that good of a movie because of all the little chinks in the armor.  You'd be a bit of a dolt, but you could argue it.

Take any Oscar Bait movie (no, not every movie that wins an Oscar; come on, you know what I mean).  From a purely technical standpoint, those kinds of movies are truly flawless.  They also tend to only resonate with something of a niche audience.

Niche meaning "snobs".

If you're not in that niche, you walk away from the screen afterward thinking either "Well, that was pleasant enough for the senses" or "Well, I could go my whole life without seeing that again".

But sometimes you see a movie that, despite all your misgivings, no matter how scattered and minor and decentralized, really moves you without knowing exactly why, really takes you for a whirlwind, tugs all the different strings in your body.  For whatever fucking reason, Kick-Ass 2 did that for me more than any movie in quite a long time.

Maybe it's because comic books were my first love.  First thing I ever wanted to do was write and draw comic books, before I ever thought of prose as an option.

Maybe it's because I've always been in love with the idea of superheroes, and fuck that superhero/costumed-vigilante disparity bullshit; powers or not, if you do that, you're a goddamned superhero (if you do it successfully, I mean; fine line between "superhero" and "shithead").  They're not super because they wear costumes; they're "super" because no one does that.  No one takes time out of their everyday life to put their life on the line for strangers a couple nights a week.  Maybe because the consequences of these characters' actions are depicted in the most realistic way we're probably gonna get (while still having a movie).

"Some Jackass In A Green Suit Gets Shot After Ten Minutes" just doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

Maybe because it's a crazy movie about real consequence, the superhuman pressures of life and loss weighing on our very mortal heads, something we can all relate to whether you're an angry kid

a concerned parent

a bored dreamer

a John Q. Public

or a surgeon, if you're like me and prefer to believe Turk just moved to NYC

...or just an Average Joe with a good heart.

Maybe it's because it's what a "comic book movie" should look like, how it should behave: running the thin line of homage, stepping equally on the sides of gritty deconstruction and age-old tropes, without necessitating the age-old/bullshit excuse of "come on bro, it's a comic book movie; cut it some slack" even in its sillier moments.  Perhaps it's not the comic-book homage movie we need right now, but it's the one-


Geez, okay, I'm sorry.

Here's my point, going back to resonance in fiction and such:

Does the movie make you feel something?  Then that movie and everyone involved has done their job right.  It's a good movie.  Same goes with any story; books, games, television.  I cringe more than a few times when I watch a Judd Apatow thing, even Freaks and Geeks, but I still completely buy it, it still digs down to my roots and nestles there because the storytelling's so damn good and the people on the screen are telling you they're real, a few grating one-liners aside.

I'm not telling you it'll change your life.  I'm not guaranteeing that you'll love it, or even that this movie's for everyone.  I am saying fuck amalgamate critic sites, and to give this movie a chance.  I'm saying I refuse to believe I'm the only guy that can be so deeply and, I'll admit, strangely affected by this movie.

If nothing else, it's made my mission clear:

I have two years to concoct a plan to get crazy famous and woo Chloe Grace Moretz.

...What?  What'd you think I was gonna say?

(Idea: You could totally reblog this with #teamthomas until she sees this.  You know.  If you're a bro.)

"Bro... you remember that thing I said about dogs chasing cars?" "Yeah Joker, why?" "...Never mind."

Okay, I can't end this post on that.  To play me out, here's David Bowie:

Wait...  Why the hell wasn't this song in either movie?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Twofer Tuesday! I Mean Wednesday!

I am absolutely, hauntedly, shockingly, is-this-a-dagger-I-see-before-me-no-it's-a-gat-to-shoot-your-fucking-brains-out bored out of my skull.  Cuz work.  Ergo, might as well be productive in some facet of my life and take my second writing break of my eight-hour day.

Oh, don't look at me like that.  Like you've never slacked off at work.  Actually, this barely counts as slacking off cuz there's like no actual work to be done here anyway.  Ever.

Not that I hate my job!  Oh hells no.  Which is why I present:

5 Reasons Why Being An Intern Is Actually Kinda Decent

...But first, because it's Wednesday, have another

One Hit Wonder Wednesday

You will have it and you will like it.

And today's champion of the one-hitters is...

*Sigh* Just... get it out of your system, okay?  You done?  Okay, good.

Just A Friend, by Biz Markie!

YES, I know this song came out in 1989.  But that's close enough to the 90s to basically be the 90s.  Did you watch the damn thing?  It was only forced to exist in the 80s because if the 90s had seen the advent of Biz Markie's number one hit, the 90s would be so 90s that Eddie Murphy, Will Smith, and MC Hammer would all merge into a giant comedically-rapping powerhouse whose voice sounded like Urkel and whose towering afro shot lightning that turned into Samuel L. Jacksons on impact, thus bringing about the apocalypse.  Which, I'll admit, would be a way more awesome end than anything that John the Revelator hack could pull out of his ass.


But enough yammering about 90s music (even though that's what this blog was originally created to do).  I know actually give you:

5 Reasons Why Being An Intern Is Actually Kinda Decent (In My Case)

1. COFFEE (and Some Other Free Shit)

And by "Some Other Free Shit" I mean stuff that's meant to go in coffee.

Funny thing is, I didn't even like coffee for a long time.  Absolutely love the smell, always have, but before, oh, three months ago, I always thought it tasted kind of like toasted feet.

What?  You hated the taste of this strange liquid that's the same color and consistency of your bi-monthly diarrhea and magically wakes you up?  Uncultured swine.

I'm not sure what it was - I'm guessing it was the crazy amount of disconnect between the smell and the taste.  Generally, and I do mean generally, and only when it comes to things considered edible

It ain't Kool-Aid, kids.

things generally taste like they smell, right?  Kinda-sorta?  Well not with coffee.

Anyways, make a guy get up at seven in the morning every day after a whole year of going to bed when the sky fades from black to blue... he and coffee become fast friends.

But if you're like me (read: a wuss), black coffee doesn't cut it.  I've gotta pad my gradual transformation into Dilbert.  Lucky for me, all the cream and sugar I could want (which is a lot) is also there.  One of these days, I think I'm gonna try half-and-half.  ...No, I mean like half cream, half coffee.

2. I Work In the City


Best sub-benefit of this benefit: on my lunch breaks, I can walk around where there's people and pretend I actually have a life.

3. Holy Shit, It's Actually Paid

I mean... I'm not set to be a sugar-daddy anytime soon, but I can take you to a pretty nice dive bar or something.


Uhhhhhh two more things, two more things...

4. Office Supplies

You have no idea how much fun those fuckers are when you're so bored that, you know, you want some actual work to do.

And my favorite...

5. No Expectations

Even at jobs that immediately come to mind when you think "entry-level", they're still a step above intern.  Intern is the position you hold when you're trusted with one task at a time.  And the rest of the time they have you play in the corner.  They barely even consider you a part of the company.  When an out-of-stater or some other bigwig comes through, they'll usually pass right by your cubicle.  Other "entry-level" jobs, whether they're minimum wage or no, you're immediately considered part of "the team"... or at least expected to be.  You better perform, or there's no room for you here.  That's why they'll drop you midway through the application/interview process, because if they suspect that you can't get the job done, there's no reason to have you there.  They're not interested in building your resume, and why should they be?  They need people who can do a job and do it right; they have a product to sell, burgers to make, kids to be watched, whatever.

I'm not ribbing on the idea of having an internship or anyone that's in an entry-level and/or minimum-wage job, or even the big corporations that manage them.  What I'm saying is, I would like to one day have a job where my actions actually affect the greater whole and what it produces, no matter how entry-level it may be.  I'd like to make the long and arduous climb to the top instead of chilling at the bottom in a swivel chair, collating a bunch of spreadsheets.

But for now?

Bitch, I'm in college and it's summer.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Brief Guide to House-Hunting (Written By A Total Novice)

This upcoming school year's the first time in ever that I'm living at a place of my own, like not at my folks' (sup ladies) and not in downtown housing that's owned at least in part by the school.  That being said, we've got a month 'til school and still no place to live.  Yikes.  To better prevent you from being me (only room for one, son), here's a quick little grouping of pointers to

House-Hunting In Chicago And What I've Learned Thus Far

So yeah, some of these will be a little... specific.

Section 1: If You Don't Have "A Guy"

1. Get "A Guy"

Seriously.  I know, some (read: many of) realtors are annoying wannabe sharks with really shady practices (that's why we do research, sweetheart).  A similar rule applies for the relationship between writers and publishers: yes, many of the latter (well... the former too) suck donkey balls, but it's better to have one than to... well... not.  Otherwise, you're pretty much stuck trolling Craigslist, bringing me to my second pointer...

2. Yes, Craigslist Is Still Shady

I've had several realtors


bail on me - sometimes as the same day as the showing's I've set up, some have asked for some really unnecessary information (if anyone asks for your account number, run far and long in the exact opposite direction), others have straight-up lied about some pretty crucial information.

"Well um...  'Cozy' isn't exactly the word I'd use, but..."

Shady it may be, Craigslist also has a lot of great shit and I've known several people who've had success finding houses on there.  Just saying, there's no Scumbag Evaluation Form you have to fill out before throwing shit up there, so:

3. Know How To Spot The Scumbags

I already mentioned that some of these jokers ask for a little too much information.  If you're filling out an application and you feel at all uncomfortable when coming up to a certain field, just leave it blank (if it's not required) or ask why this information is necessary (if they claim it is).  I haven't had to do the latter yet, but it can't hurt.

I honestly thought I had more for this one, but it really just boils down to not throwing your personal information around like a jackass.

4. Look At Everything

It's really easy to write off any given location just by looking at an ad.  "What do these Nazis have against two-hundred-pound Mastiff-Malamutes???@!!"  "How is the gas not included with the water.  What.  Do they even understand my needs."  Just relax and set up a showing, okay?  They don't cost anything.  If you don't like it, if you really find you can't stand the sight of those substrate cabinets, then don't buy the damn thing.  Keep looking.  There's a lot more fish in the sea than you think.

5. Don't trust them new ni-


Section 2: If You Do Have "A Guy"

1. Don't Depend On Them

I know what I said, dammit.  As much as I ribbed on Craigslist up there, there are just as many shadesters that don't use Craigslist as their advertising go-to.  Unless you're obscenely rich (in which case, what are you doing not walking up to a building and buying it on the spot?), you do not have them in your pocket (another way of saying they're wrapped around your finger).  They still have the freedom to try to screw you, they're still trying to make a buck off you.  This isn't me trying to say "don't trust realtors".  Just...  Hell, what am I saying?  I dunno, tread lightly.  And carry a big stick.  Or something.


Seriously.  This was my biggest mistake, and it's also one of the biggest tip-offs that your "guy" is as big of or greater a scumbag as/than (what is going on with this sentence's structure?) whoever you find on Craigslist.  In the beginning of my hunt for a place to live, I had a "guy", a family friend.  I'm not going to give out any names, not even of the company or their affiliates, cuz I could get into some serious defamation shit.  And I don't need that.  But right off the bat, my "guy" told me to wait until July 1st to start looking for apartments opening September 1st, cuz they wouldn't know what would be open until... I don't know either.  Now that I'm actually typing this bullshit out, I'm realizing how much of a rube I was for falling for it.

Point is, they're just trying to get you to rely on them to find you apartments.  Soon as you know that you need a place, start looking.

3. If They Ignore Your Specs, Fuck 'Em

And I don't mean fuck your specifications.  You know what kind of place you need to move into.  Don't settle for a two-bedroom if you have three roommates, don't settle for the deep south side when you specifically said "somewhere with nightlife".  If you can't tell that they put conscious effort into meeting your specifications, move on and find a different guy.  They have places to sell, and they're just trying to pawn them off on you.  They'll just keep throwing shit at you until you crack if you don't try a new angle.

An example: When I'd first started house-hunting, I told my guy (the one I'd mentioned before) what I needed: somewhere from 1500 to 2400, close to the train, out of the Loop, three bedrooms for three roommates.  I wait (stupidly), like he tells me.  Calls me back, and with what?  A bunch of two-bedroomers in the Loop (where property's doubly expensive).  I told the guy the most polite version of "go fuck yourself" that I could come up with.

...And then, bafflingly, gave him a second chance, leading me to thus:

4. Make Sure It's Actually In Lakeview

Lakeview's very popular these days, and for good reason.  It's gorgeous, there're El stops everywhere you turn, there's nightlife, and the beach is like, a fifteen-minute walk away at most.  Then there's Lakeview's funny-smelling high-school-dropout cousins.  Brief note: just because it's within a mile of Lakeshore Drive, doesn't make it "Lakeview".  If found this out after my first "guy" showed me a place in "Lakeview".  It was not Lakeview.  It was some weird stretch of sad-looking neighborhood between Lakeview and... I don't know, somewhere else.  I mean, yeah it kind of looks like Lakeview... if the Darkness from Silent Hill got to it.  A third of the buildings were abandoned, and I'm not just talking storefronts - I mean like schools and high-rises and what may have been a prison.  The park's full of shadesters, the local economy's based around liquor stores, there's jack in nightlife unless you count shooting up behind a dumpster with some of the area's more colorful persons, the in-unit laundry in the place looked like it had seen multiple stabbings, it's nearly a mile from any sort of train (somehow)...

But one last, more serious point:

5. Don't Be Afraid To Hound Your Realtor

Realtors aren't fantastic at getting back to you.  And I know, they're finding you a place - what right do you have to get on their case?

Well... every right, really.  Don't let them jerk you around.  I mean... don't call them screaming and threatening to take your business elsewhere either.  Cuz that totally won't land you a place.  And you're being a dick.  But it's their job, so... uh... I had an ending here... well, make 'em do it.

Okay, I've been working on this for like three hours and I feel like doing something else with my life now.  Kthxbye.