Wednesday, August 5, 2009
From this point forward, since we are still in the process of building the site, all new content will be posted on our demo blog, Undergrad Rag, located at this link:http://undergradrag.blogspot.com/
We invite you to visit the site, give us your input, and even submit your material! Age is not an issue. Anyone with a willingness to write about the college life has a place on the site. Thank you!
Sunday, July 12, 2009
I was really, really proud. I carried that thing around like a gold medal for the rest of the year. From then till now I have written for both pleasure and academic reasons. In that span of time I've compiled a nice little body of work. Don't get me wrong, most of it I wouldnt even show to people, and virtually none of it is publishable without considerable editing. But every now and again I peruse to see how far I've come, and remind myself about why I do it in the first place.
Earlier this week I stumbled upon an old piece of work that I hadn't even thought about in God knows how long. It was written in the early part of my high school career, at the most physically awkward time of my life. I was gangly, pockmarked, I had braces and I was still struggling with my stutter. My self esteem was shaky at best and I wanted to believe that even someone with the lowest opinion of themselves could be thrust into greatness. So I wrote this story, that I would like to share with anyone who cares to read it.
The Adventures of Bucktooth Boy
Chester Harland hates you. Not just you, everybody. Mainly you because you happen to be right here. It’s not your fault, don’t change for Chester, he’s a bit of a dick. Chester has been pissed since the day he was born, and if you take one look at him its blindingly obvious why. Chester Harland is the ugliest man you will ever lay eyes on, trust me on this. I don’t care about that guy you saw once on the subway that frightened even the drunkest hobo, Chester makes that guy look like the belle of the ball.
Its not even Chester’s fault, he just tried to dive in the shallow end of the gene pool and, just like the after school special you saw in health class, he broke his neck…figuratively. His head is shaped like a light bulb, except the bulbous part is well above his gaunt, drooping face, giving him a round, protruding forehead. A tuft of hair that looks to be pubic sits precariously on top of his rotund sphere of a head His nose is shaped like a ski run, with its various zigzags, slopes, rises, and a section of acne that looks suspiciously like trees. The reason behind the peculiar shape is that his nose was broken at birth when the doctor got one look at him and dropped Chester like a hot pan.
Chester’s eyes are a sad, uneven brown, and his protruding forehead casts a shadow over them permanently. He has no eyelashes whatsoever, but it looks like that hair had been transplanted into his eyebrows. They are so bushy that they have to be trimmed with scissors on a bi-daily basis, and Chester once lost a brand new pencil within its curly clutches. They never found the pencil; only the tattered remains of an eraser that looked like it had been partially eaten. The only good part about the eyebrows is that they draw attention away from his skin, which looks like an acne problem, which is afflicted with yet another acne problem
Chester’s mouth is in a constant state of pucker, or as it had been colorfully referred to by most of the street vendors he passes, he has “a mouth like a chicken’s ass.”
The only thing that keeps his mouth open are his huge, off-white, buckteeth that jut out from his lip like two slices of white bread. Seriously, these things are massive. Chester can’t dip his head back during a strong wind because the current might catch under his teeth and carry him away.
Needless to say, God and Chester are not on speaking terms. You wouldn’t be so keen on God either if He/She made you so ugly that the back of your head broke mirrors. But apparently God had other plans for Chester Harland, or as he was more commonly referred to within his community “Reincarnation of the New Jersey Devil.” Here is his superbly strange series of psychotic events:
Anyone with as much time and little companionship as Chester tends to develop certain habits of comfort. Chester’s was walking; its one of the few things you can do alone and if someone asks why no one is with you, you can say you’re running an errand or exercising. This was never an issue really because the only sound other people ever made at Chester was when a baby passed him and started to cry.
One day Chester was walking and found himself in a strange part of town. The friendly, brick-faced buildings had dissipated and industrial buildings spotted the stark environment with their cold, gray, indistinct coloring. But Chester didn’t have anywhere to be, so he trudged on through the desolate landscape. It wasn’t until roughly an hour later his path was cut off by a giant nuclear reactor tower. White vapor billowed out the top of the ominous structure and Chester’s neck craned upward to see the top. There was really no way around it that didn’t lead him to the office buildings for the power plant. Directly behind it though was an unpaved industrial road that led as far as the eye could see.
When you have nothing else, even the simplest things, like walking in a straight path, take on more meaning. To be frank, Chester was pissed, and he’d be damned if any massive tower spewing radioactive bi-product was going to thwart him. So he started the long climb up the side. At first the going was easy, but the slope got steeper and steeper, and about 30 minutes into it Chester found himself a quarter of the way up, with pools of sweat collecting in his massive eyebrows. His body ached to give up and go back home so he could have a cup of tea and go to bed, but this was a matter of principle.
Two hours later Chester could see the apex, and his hand grasped the top so he could pull himself up with one last burst of strength. When he managed to get his footing, he realized his plan had been flawed from the beginning. The edge around the top was too skinny to walk around to the other side, and the steam that shot out was an ungodly hot. Chester immediately regretted this decision; he was ugly enough without being a burn victim.
But that stupid little man called pride was screaming in the back of his head not to give up, and he must have been speaking on a PA system because Chester heard him loud and clear. You would think that bulbous head of his would house a larger brain, but Chester decided to try and jump across from one side to the other and slide down to safety. So Chester braced his aching muscles for the jump, and he shot forth from his unstable footing.
He soared through the air, his hands grasping for the edge, the intense heat from the steam pushed him upward, and for one brief moment he knew the border was in reach. Unfortunately, Chester was wrong and before he knew it he was falling into the abyss of mind-numbingly hot flames and blinded by steam. The only thing that seemed to remain of Chester was his fading screams of “This was such an ill-planned decision…”
The power plant workers took their time getting him out of the core on the grounds they thought that Chester was already dead. When they managed to get his limp body out from betwixt the uranium rods, they laid him out on a table and examined the damage while they waited for the cops. Remarkably there wasn’t really a mark on him but one man commented “My god, the radiation must have horribly deformed him.” Another worker vomited in the corner from the morbid sight while another worker reexamined his life and priorities due to the traumatic image.
So you can imagine their surprise when Chester opened his eyes and started to get up from the table. Not knowing where he was, Chester yawned and stretched out like he was getting up from a long slumber, until he noticed the 12 men in biohazard suits standing around him in stunned silence. To say it was awkward was an understatement, Chester had always been self conscious, but now he was half naked in a sanitized white room around a dozen men with contamination suits and long rod-type things that could have been used for a variety of horrifying purposes. Chester started to slowly back away from the table when a voice chimed in through the intercom, “Uh, sir? Could you please stay where you are? We need to detain you for health and insurance reasons.” The voice was distorted and reminded Chester of all the movies he saw when aliens were held by secret government agencies, this deeply disturbed him.
“Actually, I was just on a walk, no biggie. I’ll just let myself out…sorry for the trouble…”
The hollow intercom voice stopped him in his tracks once again, “You were going for a walk? How did you end up on top of the tower?”
“Well, not that I need to justify myself to you, but I was going for a walk, and the tower was blocking my path, so I decided to climb over it to get to the trail on the other side.”
“You climbed up a 20 story tower to get to a dirt trail? Why didn’t you just try to go through the employee’s complex?
“Everything looked locked up…”
“And the tower is essentially a cone so once you got to a certain height you could have just shimmied around its circular surface to the other side, you didn’t have to jump from the top. Didn’t that ever occur to you?”
“Hey, shut up!” Chester yelled at the intercom to hide his shame at his now obvious stupidity. “It’s great to have 20/20 hindsight, I make mistakes.”
“Disregarding your lack of intelligence in trying to circumvent the tower, aren’t you at all concerned with the obvious deformation the radiation has caused you?”
Chester looked sheepishly at the glossy table before putting his face in his hands and saying through clenched teeth, “Actually, I’m not deformed…I always looked like this…can I go now?”
“OH MY GOD, YOU’VE ALWAYS LOOKED LIKE THAT? –ahem, sorry. My apologies. No, sir you can’t leave, at the very least we have to put you through a physical examination before we can clear you to leave.”
“Will there be probing of any kind?”
“Nothing more than what’s necessary…so yes, there will be some probing.”
“With those long rods those men are holding?” Chester asked fearfully.
“No, we use those on people who piss us off. You’re probing will be comfortable, but awkward…naturally.”
“I’m still not sure if I should consent to this…”
“You’re starting to piss us off, don’t make us use the long rods.”
After that, Chester enthusiastically supported a rod-less physical examination.
Twenty minutes later Chester and the doctor were avoiding eye contact as the doctor pulled off his Vaseline covered glove, “The ear, throat, and nose doctor will be with you in a minute…if you need to clean up there are some tissues over there.” The doctor left and within minutes a bright, cheerful, and rather chubby man waddled in with the stethoscope barely clinging onto his thick neck. “Well Mr…Harland,” he said looking at his chart, “I see by the paperwork here that you had a horrible accident that would normally cause certain death…hell of a day huh?”
“I’ve seen worse.”
“Wow, wouldn’t want to be you then. I’m Dr. Strathford; I’ll be examining you today. Could you please open your mouth as wide as you can?” he said as he was getting ready to shove the Popsicle stick into Chester’s mouth. Chester opened wide and Strathford poked around, tapping every edge with the stale wood.
“Well, everything appears to be in order…” Just then Strathford poked the gum line right behind Chester’s front teeth and a sound of venting gas permeated the room with a green mist. Strathford jumped back and Chester could feel his mouth and gums stretching with a terrible force. When the sound stopped and the mist stopped hanging eerily in the air, Strathford looked at Chester with a gaze of absolute terror.
“What’s the matter, what is it?” Chester asked. Strathford didn’t break his gaze as he handed a small mirror to Chester from the desk. Chester positioned the mirror and all he could see was an off white block of color staring back. The mirror was too small so he walked around the stunned Strathford into the bathroom to get a full length view. A small part of Chester’s mind blew a fuse when he saw what had happened: His already robust front teeth had grown to an insane proportion. He could now say without any hyperbole that his teeth were the size of dinner plates.
“ALL I WANTED TO DO WAS TAKE A FUCKING WALK!” Chester screamed from the bathroom, and he brought his head down onto the counter and sobbed uncontrollably. Chester could have sobbed a pool of self-pity, and rightfully so, but when he raised his head he couldn’t help but notice that the front edge of the counter had just been sheared clean away. He didn’t know how it had happened but he didn’t want to pay for the damages, so he looked for the missing piece. He finally found it underneath his right front tooth; the cut was so clean it looked like it had been done by a circular saw. Chester wasn’t a genius, but he could put two and two together, and it suddenly occurred to him his grossly over sized teeth had done the damage.
Slowly the wheels turned, and then it hit Chester…he had SUPERTEETH! He had cut through a counter and not even felt it! He was invincible! Ugly as ever, but now he had super powers! If this didn’t get him a chick, nothing would. Chester ran out of the bathroom like an excited child and shoved the piece of counter in the face of the frozen, mortified, Dr. Strathford, “Look what I did! I’m like SUPERMAN, except, without any of those other powers…and big teeth…but it’s still cool!”
“That…umm…certainly is…something else,” Strathford groped for words in the face of Chester’s two titanic teeth. “Would you mind if I poked around some more…?”
Go ahead Doc,” Chester chuckled, “but watch out; these things are sharp, ha ha ha.”
Strathford wasn’t finding the situation as humorous, and had concluded that Chester had gone insane at the sight of his own hideous face. After a few seconds of continued prodding, Strathford hit the gum line underneath Chester’s protruding teeth again, and a similar venting sound/green mist process began. When that had stopped, Chester could feel his choppers had shrunk back to their normal size, relatively speaking. “Oh that is too cool!” Chester exclaimed, feeling around his gums, “I have like retractable fangs now…”
“Well they’re not really fangs,” Strathford blew Chester’s bubble; “Those aren’t your incisor teeth.”
“So what are they?”
“Well basically it’s an EXTREME overbite, or as it’s more commonly called, ‘buck teeth.’”
“Can I call them fangs at least?”
“Call them whatever you want, it won’t change what they are.”
“Damnit. Well, should I be concerned? I mean, this is pretty freaking weird…”
“Considering the power plant will probably deny you were ever here when they hear about this and I’m not a dentist, I think the best I can do is wish you good luck in getting a dental plan that would cover something like this.”
We’d all like to believe our nation’s power plants are run by caring individuals who don’t mind dealing with the occasional liability lawsuit, but life is cruel. So after 2 hours and roughly 67 miles down a nearly empty highway, Chester was unceremoniously tossed out of a moving van. Chester laid down for about an hour on the side of the sun parched highway, listening to the gentle cackles of the swirling vultures that hovered above him, contemplating the day’s events. A million thoughts ran through his mind: “Will this kill me?” “How do I get home?” “Why me?” “Oh crap, I’ve been gone for awhile, did I leave the oven on?” “Of all the super powers, why did God mock me with extra-extra large front teeth?” Chester raised himself off the ground, dusted himself off, swatted away an incoming vulture, and started to walk as far away from the van’s tire tracks as his legs would take him.
So after hitchhiking twice, stopping at three truck driver diner’s and dancing for spare change, being offered a position in a traveling freak show five times, and fending off four more vulture attacks, Chester stood on his shaky legs outside his apartment building. The elevator was broken, but Chester had become numb to his overwhelming plethora of bad luck and he trudged up the stairs to his apartment door. He used the key hidden in the floorboard to let himself in, and made a direct line for the kitchen where he started to heat some water for tea. He was about to sit down and pontificate on what his next course of action should be after such an absurd day, when his train of thought was interrupted by a high pitched shriek that ran into his ear and scrambled his brain.
Chester immediately got up and went to the door to see what the problem was. As he poked his head out he saw a man dart out of the apartment down the hall with a large bag under his arms while the screaming continued in the background. We don’t know why people do the things they do, but my guess would be Chester was tired of seeing the little man get stepped on, and he ran down the hall after the man. He tackled the man from behind and they tumbled down the stairs together awkwardly. As they reached the base, Chester took a header on one of the stairs and his teeth began to protrude amidst the standard sound of venting gas.
When they both got to their feet, the other man looked at Chester awkwardly, then reared back and punched him right in the teeth. The only sound was a metallic ring, followed by the sound of crunching bone. Chester didn’t feel a thing, but the man dropped the bag and grabbed his bleeding hand in pain. There was a moment of silent confusion before the man simply bolted past Chester as the sound of the screaming lady got closer and closer. Chester didn’t chase after him, but rather retracted his teeth, and grabbed the black bag so he could give it back to its proper owners.
He was met halfway by a rather attractive young lady who saw him with the bag, and immediately gave him a hearty hug of thanks. Chester didn’t know how to react seeing how this was the first time anyone but a physician had touched him in close to two years, so he simply said “Here,” and handed the bag to her.
“Oh thank you so much sir, I came home from the gym and saw that guy rooting around in my apartment. He just blew past me and grabbed my gym bag with my wallet in it. That’s the last time I don’t come straight home from work.”
“I’m happy to help…where do you work?”
“My employers rent out a space a few blocks down on 5th street.”
“What do you do?”
“I’m a dentist.”
“Really…I just put on some tea, would you like to have some?”
“I’d love to.”
Sometimes heroes are born from the most unlikely of circumstances.
(To be continued…?)
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Before I started looking for my job in corporate America, I was a day laborer. I was a dishwasher, landscaper, even a bouncer. I can't say that I'm a blue collar worker though because I never made a life out of it. I never depended on these grueling jobs for my sole source of income, and I never reached a level of skill that would distinguish me in any of those professions. What I can say is that I gained a strong sense of admiration for those who spend a lifetime doing jobs that most of us would prefer to farm out to other people. Some of them hate their jobs, but a majority of the people I've met in these professions do it with a profound sense of passion. I admire the guts, the resolve, and the determination that alot of them possess despite the fact that they don't bring home massive paychecks. Also, to be truthful, they take alot of crap from a lot of very annoying people. So today I am paying tribute to them in one of the few ways I know how. The manly art of poetry...it's manly damn you! Don't judge me!
Hang out in working-class places
You can tell them by the wear
On their working-class faces
Who gave up on dreams
Work for new reasons
And the working-class seems
To be just working for tomorrow
And maybe another chance
Waiting for someone
To give their working class a glance
They’re tired of the working-class struggle
Taking place from pole to pole
And they’re tired of the working-class shovels
That dug them into their working-class holes
They don’t want a new world
Maybe one with softer beds
And they won’t let a stylist
Touch their working-class threads
There is no working-class botox
No necessary chemical peels
Ain’t no beauty in the pain
That the working-class feels
There’s no working-class poetry
Their time is quite spoken for
Leave at dawn, return at dusk
Stumbling back through working-class doors
Yet they are the vanguard
The advancing front line of mankind
Who eat all the artillery
While the rest, rest behind
The factory workers and auto repair men
The miners, landscapers
And bouncers who scare men
The tailors, the day laborers
The dishwashers and cooks
Those that toil in freezers
Hanging meat through metal hooks
Dock workers and dredgers
Ah, the mere infantry of life,
Sunday, July 5, 2009
It seems like every holiday there is someone in the back of the stands, reminding or even admonishing the majority on what the "purpose" of the holiday is. Thanksgiving isn't about parades, Christmas isn't about presents, Easter isn't about a gigantic mutated bunny, the fourth of July isn't about fireworks...no one is quite sure what Kwanza was about in the first place. I won't go as far as to call them party poopers, but only because their intentions are noble. Let's be honest with each other though, by any other standard they are party poopers.
Yes, Christmas is supposed to center on the birth of one religion's savior. However, your fondest and most enduring memories do not include your pastor's homilies. They include parties with extended family members, the rituals of decoration, or that time Grandma got irrevocably wasted because she didn't realize the egg-nog had alcohol in it.
Yes, Memorial Day is meant to honor those who have, and still do, defend their country with their lives in order to preserve the freedoms we enjoy daily. But are we meant to spend that day mourning them, or celebrating them? We don't forget the sacrfices of the armed forces when we shuck clams, take a day trip to the beach, or share a drink (whatever the amount may be) with our friends. We take one of the few days in the year we have off and we appreciate the freedom and peace granted to us by the brave men and women in uniform.
Obviously, the Fourth of July celebrates the end of a protracted war with a global superpower that eventually won us the right to have any national holidays at all. No matter how you celebrate this holiday, one thing should be universal: What was ultimately won was freedom. That's freedom to observe the holiday meditating in front of a giant flag, or to spend it celebrating your right to act like a drunken moron.
In the end, I feel like people get so caught up in the original intention of a holiday that they forget the underlying intention behind every holiday. Holidays are meant to bring us together when so many forces in our daily lives are trying to seperate us. It doesn't matter if you hold the Christmas tree in higher regard than the cross if you spend the holiday strengthening the relationships that make a life worth living.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
I was reading the online, humorous news source, The Onion recently and thought to myself, "this is hillarious, why can't I get a job doing this?" Then it occurred to me, you don't need to get paid to do something if you enjoy doing it. Besides the possibility of inadvertent plagarism or copyright infringement, what's to stop me from doing what The Onion does on my own time? So I took the bull by the horns (metaphorically of course, if I get near a bull I faint), and decided to do my own offshoot The Garlic Clove. I figured it works because they both have to be taken apart in layers, and both render your mouth un-kissable. My first fake news article focuses on an overlooked portion of those greiving the recent rash of celebrity deaths.
"I couldn't believe it," said Jake now in his late forties, "I didn't want to. She was the original pin-up girl. I logged so many hours in front of that poster. It saw me through my entire adolescent and young adult life." His son also feels the sting, despite the age difference.
"Both me and Dad are pretty upset," he said casually while trying to nonchalantly put away a bottle of hand lotion on his night stand. "I mean, I know she was a bit before my time, but hey, so were the Beatles. All the girls I look at now who straddle the fine line between photography and porn, they all probably owe something to Farrah."
One of the hardest things about Farrah's death has been that it has, at least in the eyes of Jake Neeley and his son, tainted her body of work.
"I had to take down posters in the rec room, and throwaway the Playboy issue she was in," Jake stated sadly, shaking his head. "My son begged me not to, but I gotta' tell you, the idea of him manipulating himself to an image of a woman who passed on seems disrespectful...and kind of creepy."
"Dad thinks they went out in the garbage, but I couldnt let Farrah go out like that," Patrick whispered, "I'm going to pay tribute to her at least a couple more time before I can let her memory fade like that."
Both father and son worry who will fill that void left behind by Farrah. No one, in their eyes, is currently up to the task of filling such big shoes, or has the hair for it.
"I think we lost a real classy lady there," mourned Jake, almost in tears, "that was a woman you were proud to manipulate yourself to."
"Yeah," Patrick comforted his father, "I mean Meghan Fox is hot and everything, but she just doesn't have the 'it' factor that made Farrah such good fodder for masturbation."
Whatever the fate of chronic masturbators across the nation, many Kleenex tissues will be balled up and buried in the bottom of the trash can in her honor over the next few months.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
So I did something about it. First I changed my template. Now instead of a blinding color combination, I have a blog that look like it was written on a piece of parchment from the ante-bellum south. Also, instead of whining about being an unpublished author with no clear direction or gainful employment, I decided to look at the bright side. The job hunt may be frustrating, but youth has its benefits, and I would be a fool to ignore them. So here is a list for your enjoyment and consideration.
Top Five Benefits of Being a Literary Upstart
- No one can tell me what to write. If I want, I can write a poem, short story, novella...hell, I can catalogue my farts for posterity if I wish (look for that book in 2025). No one is paying me, but at the same token, they can't excercise any control over me. Booyah.
- Thankfully, being a young writer requires very little overhead cost. A programmer needs a computer to meet his/her specific needs, a graphic designer needs design software, and a businessman needs at least one subscription to the Wall Street Journal. I need Microsoft Word. What's that you say? My computer crashed? No worries, I'll just grab this pen and a piece of notebook paper. Even if we run out of trees I'll melt down some candles for wax and sharpen a stick for a stylus and BAM I'm back in business.
- I don't need to care what the literary community thinks. After spending four years reading what the literary community has to say about other people, I have to tell you, I'm not too eager to be on their radar. I have a theory that all the really smart people who are unable to write creatively become the most hateful literary critics. I'm a big fan of large words, subtle insults, and blatant condescension too, I just wouldn't publish it in a newspaper. Alas, I don't care what just one person thinks, whether they went to Yale or not.
- I don't have to worry about being type-cast. One of the perks of being unknown is that no one expects anything in particular from you. Right now, I like to write short stories. But what if I want to start writing abstract poetry? What if I find out I have a real knack for writing technical manuals? The breadth of possibilites can be intimidating, but I have to imagine its preferable compared to being locked into one thing.
- Starving Artists aren't expected to wear Armani. Hey, I like putting on a suit and looking debonair as much as the next guy, but I really enjoy having a lax wardrobe. Also, you wear the same set of shorts and t-shirts long enough you can avoid annoying coversations like "what do you think of the stock market?" or "where did you get that outfit?"
All in all, I should consider myself lucky. My loan debt isnt insurmountable, I have my health, and should all else fail, I can live in the crawl space in my parent's basement. I hear some some of the best work has come out of poor living conditions so that should only boost my writing.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
In my limited experiences with college graduations, I found this to be pretty much standard operating procedure. However, I found something to be missing at my ceremony this May. As I stood huddled in a parking garage under the Liacorus center with the rest of the eager graduates I overheard a lot of conversations regarding the future. There was a lot of talk about graduate school, a good amount of “I can’t wait to travel through Europe” conversations, and even a few “I’m not doing anything this summer” remarks. The one thing that was conspicuously absent was any remarks of pride or relief. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but as I started to search for jobs, it occurred to me why this was.
Simply put, graduating college with an undergraduate degree is not the accomplishment it once was. There are innumerable jobs that require Master’s degrees before they even require work experience, and you’d be hard pressed to find a place of employment (outside of a low level marketing job or retail job) that requires anything less then a BA and there is virtually nothing that requires only a BA without prior work experience or additional qualifications. That’s nothing new though. The undergraduate degree has been the new High School Diploma since before I entered college. What I find particularly disturbing is the fact that we can go through four years of fairly grueling academic study, and not feel a profound sense of pride and joy.
When a college graduate enters the world, there is no longer a sense of joy. People who have been conditioned to view themselves as students are thrust from the cozy familiarity of college to the grind of the working world. These students might have complained about term papers, or getting up at 9 am for a class, but the truth is that when all was said and done they prefer college over pretty much any other situation. There is no other time in life where such an expanse of possibilities lay before you, yet you can still be cocooned in a circle of friends and free housing, sequestered from the financial obligations of the real world. No term paper frustration can match the horror of haggling with an insurance company over the phone. And waiting for your grades to appear online isn’t nearly as tense as navigating the job market.
So what’s the point? Why belabor the trials and tribulations of the college grad, or belittle the accomplishment of graduation? It is because as a new generation of worker bees enter a job market that is particularly hostile, they may not know why they aren’t as excited as their parents and loved ones. After years of schooling that were supposed to lead them to the next stage of their life, they might feel strangely unprepared for the reality that awaits them. Not because they were uneducated or unaware, but rather because it was presumed college would give them the tools necessary for the real world. Instead, they’re finding out that education continues well beyond the classroom.
Friday, June 12, 2009
So here is a list of the things that make Law and Order what it is. The good, the bad, and the childishly immature.
1. The approximately 1,000 versions of the show.
Law and Order, Law and Order: SVU, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, and the short lived Law and Order: Trial by Jury. Listen I know I’m not the only one to bring this up. If you’ve seen a stand-up comic in the last five years you’ve heard this joke, but indulge me here while I regale you with rejected ideas for new Law and Orders
Law and Order: Basic Misdemeanor Unit
Law and Order: Graffiti Patrol
Law and Order: Domestic Disturbance
Law and Order: Jaywalking
Law and Order: Truancy report
2. The way they have the same actors doing completely different characters within the span of three episodes.
Apparently the people who cast these shows don’t like searching for new people to play defense attorneys. They recycle victims, witnesses, and even murderers to play the obligatory slimy defense attorney. Hey, I know it’s hard to find good talent out there, but space it out. Its hard to watch a father grieve over the corpse of his raped and murdered daughter only to see him an hour later defending the Mexican immigrant who farmed out her uterus to a wealthy couple who couldn’t have a baby.
3. Jerry Orbach
I have nothing bad to say about Jerry Orbach. He was the man, Lenny Briscoe was the best cop ever (yes, he beats EVERYONE from NYPD Blue), and the world is left wanting after his passing. Just to reiterate…Jerry Orbach is the freaking man.
4. Vincent D’onofrio and Jeff Goldblum
Both of these men play lead detectives in Law and Order: Criminal Intent. It all started with Vincent playing an offbeat, incredibly smart detective who speaks in an abrupt, mannered style. Then apparently, they were throwing ideas around in the writer’s room and someone tossed out this gem: “Hey you know all those traits Vincent D’onofrio has to act like he has every episode? Let’s just cast an actor who does that in every role!” Next thing you know Jeff Goldblum’s phone rings. Seriously guys, who is next…Christopher Walken?
5. When they catch the murderer within the first 15 minutes.
I hate when they do this because I know the next 45 minutes are going to be spent in court with Sam Watterson asking questions like “Your Honor you can’t be serious!” or if he wants to change it up “Is this some kind of joke your Honor?” It always involves some screwball defense plan like “God told me to do it,” “the tumor was inhibiting her impulse control,” or “before I sawed that guy in half he said he wouldn’t press charges.” By the way, the first two have actually been used in the show. The point is they spend all their time in the courtroom which means they don’t spend their time out on the street with…you guessed it, Jerry Orbach. Who is the man? That’s right. Jerry Orbach.
If you understood 3 or more of the five poorly articulated jokes on this list it means you need to stop watching Law and Order and get a job.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
I know, I know, you’re thinking to yourself, “Francis, the horrible state of the economy, the collapsing job market and the general malaise that has spread over the country is nice and everything, but I’m looking for something that’s really depressing. Like ‘wash the sleeping pills down with cyanide’ type of depressing…can you supply that?” Unfortunately I cannot. As a young person with the future ahead of him and a relatively stable home and family life, I can’t provide the kind of pants-crapping terror you’ve become accustomed to. What I can do however, is make you grateful you didn’t decide to hang your hat solely on a BA in English.
So, let’s set up this first little gem with a little background. I’m graduating in August with a BA in English and a Writing Certificate (whatever the hell that means). I am fortunate enough to have a lot of positive influences. My father and sister have taken job finding to the level of art. If only job hunting was a paid profession, I wouldn’t need to worry about money because the family would be loaded. My sister was also kind enough to lend me her mentor, Rich Levin (or as he is known in our house “Saint Rich”), for help as a look through the vast wasteland of the current job market.
Despite this help, and the fact that I have been looking since March, I have yet to come up with a decent job, and I have had only one interview. This is the story of that one “interview.”
I had applied to a bunch of low level marketing jobs through GradStaff. The name sounded promising. I am a grad. I wanted to be on a staff. It felt like a slam dunk. A few of the places responded to my application and I was able to set up an interview with a company called Bald Eagle Marketing. It sounded professional, even patriotic, and so I was optimistic. The interview was 3pm on a Thursday, and as it turned out, the office was based in Wilmington, Delaware. Seeing as I live an hour outside Philadelphia, and I don’t have a car or driver’s license, (That’s right ladies, unemployed college grad with no car or license right here. You can start the line for this sweet piece of ass by my bike with the busted front tire) this posed a scheduling conflict for me.
So, dressed in a stunning suit, I caught the 12 pm train to 30th Street Station. I was supposed to catch a train there that would take me to Wilmington at 1:30. That train was 20 minutes late. No biggie, I had padded my schedule for just such a delay. I get on the train at 1:50 and we go on our merry way. Halfway through our merry way, the train stops and decides it’s done for the day, even though we are still two stops away from Wilmington. It did this at a station stop so 40 minutes after we were supposed to keep moving onto Wilmington I hear this announcement “Yeaahhhhh. So the train is not moving. We called for a SEPTA crew but we don’t know when they’ll be arriving or how long it will take them to fix it. So this train is done…yeahhh *click*” I get off the train, call the place, tell them I’ll be late and try to find a cab. Apparently though, I was in a no man’s land between PA and Delaware. Delware cabs told me it was illegal to go across the state line, pick me up and go back. Philly cab companies told me I was too far out of the city, and while I was at it I should go screwmyself.
So I waited, and waited, and waited for the next train to come through the station. When I finally reached Wilmington it was 4 pm. I was supposed to arrive at 2:15. I cried a little bit and then caught a cab to the office, which was WAYYYY farther away from the station than I had anticipated. I paid the cabbie the twenty dollars and went in for my interview.
I went into a cold, small office, filled with other applicants. I was told to fill out a form that required me to give info that was on my resume, which they also required me to have, and then I was briskly ushered into an office by a guy named Mike.
Mike seemed like a nice enough guy, but he didn’t exude authority the way you would expect a potential employer to do. Instead he took me into his office which was remarkably even colder than the waiting room and proceeded to read from a script at the speed of light. It was bad enough that he wasn't actually interviewing me; he didn’t even take the time to memorize the description of the mind numbing job he was explaining to me. the whole thing turned out to be a glorified canvassing job, and all that was accomplished was that he scheduled me for another interview with one of their "top reps" to help them with their job on a "training day", which sounded suspiciously like I was giving them a free day of work. I did my best to quell the instinct inside me that made me feel like painting the room in Mike's blood, and ended the interview amicably. I thought the worst was behind me. For the 40th time that day, I was wrong.
When I stepped out of the freezer they called an office into the sweltering heat of the day I realized something very demoralizing. I did not have enough money on me to get a cab back to the station and still afford the train ride home. So I walked. Three and a half miles down a highway with no shade or sidewalk. In a suit. A stunning suit, but a suit nonetheless. I spent most of that time cursing. Not at anyone or anything in particular, but I thought maybe a constant string of obscenities would make me feel better. If I had to guess, I think it just made me look crazier to all the people passing by in their cars.
When I finally dragged my sweaty ass up the stairs into Wilmington station I saw that my train back to Philly was 20 minutes late. Everything went white after that as an endless river of profanity flowed from me but when I came to I was on the train. With my day closing I called my housemate in Philly and asked him to pick me up from the train station. I realized our lease was up in two days and he would most likely be packing or moving his stuff, so I was thrilled when he picked up the phone and agreed.
Twenty minutes before my train arrived (horrible things happened every twenty minutes this day for some reason) I got a text from my housemate that read “Yo bro, sorry but I’m going to take a nap.” To which I could only reply “Seriously?” So once again, I walked.
When I reached my house, with blistered heels, chafed inner thighs and all, I walked into to find a sight that I can only describe as…frustrating. My jobless roommate, with no schoolwork to do, was sleeping on the couch in front of the T.V. in a house that had not one single item packed up and ready to move. As I looked down on his sleeping peaceful body a profound thought crossed my mind: “I could kill him right now, put his body outside, and no one would finger me for it.” Ultimately though, I decided against it as it might hurt my job search even more if I was charged with 2nd degree murder. That lucky bastard.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I intend to change that here by rolling out some of the gems that have come to me over the years. If you like them, tell me. If you don’t keep your stupid opinion to yourself you son of a bitch…
I am going for a kind of Socratic wisdom mixed with some Napoleonic arrogance, and some Kierkegaard (I have no idea what that means but smart people frequently reference Kierkegaard in conversation).
“Life is like a roller coaster. Its very scary, and sometimes you soil yourself.”
“Strip clubs are stupid. Why pay 60 dollars for an erection when you wake up with one every morning for free?”
“There is no such thing as doggie heaven. Only doggie hell.”
“When God shuts a door He opens a window. Unfortunately that window is four stories up.”
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. Oddly enough, Success and foolish optimism are one in the same.”
“Before you give way to anger ask yourself a simple question: Can I take this guy?”
“Crime doesn’t pay. Unless you factor in all the money. Then it looks pretty alluring.”
“A cynic always looks like a douchebag until it turns out he’s right. Then he looks like a pompous douchebag.”
“If women ran the world there would be no threat of nuclear war 25 days out of the month.”
“I’m fine with men and women being equals, but women could probably do a lot better.”
(See how I balanced that out? Eh?)
“There is no such a thing as a completely level playing field. If there was everything would end up as a tie.”
“We’ve all made mistakes…but none as colossal as that one you made that summer when you were a kid. You know the one I’m talking about you sick bastard.”
I am going to end with one of my favorite quotes. Its not mine, but that’s the point.
Write a wise saying and your name will live forever.
(Didn’t seem to work for this guy)
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Well apparently this beautiful woman’s name is Vanessa Rousso (which is odd because in my experience all beautiful women have had the same name: “I’m not interested”), and she is a major poker stud. To top it off, not only is she blessed with defined cheekbones, blonde hair and a statuesque body, she’s also really smart. She received a full scholarship to Duke and graduated in less than three years. I know, what a bitch. Apparently her main course of study was game theory, which allows her to mathematically analyze people’s behavior and has earned her nearly two million in winnings in a few short years.
What pissed me off in this ad wasn’t the poker playing fembot, it was the first line of the interview. “Professional Poker has long been a sport dominated by men. So when Vanessa Rousso came to swim with the sharks, her looks may have thrown the guys off.” I have so many problems with this statement I need a moment to collect myself.
First of all, enough talk about poker as a sport. Yes it requires skill; no it’s not purely a game of chance…I get it. However, chess masters aren’t demanding they get into the Olympics. And you can make fun of ice dancing, or equestrians all you want, but remember that at least their activity requires participants to stand up. I know what you’re thinking: “what about NASCAR?” Let’s make this clear; while I will not watch NASCAR, these guys aren’t just sitting down. If poker players can call somebody’s bluff while doing 220 mph around a turn as fifty other players try to do it too, only faster, then poker requires more skill then racing. At any point during a poker tournament do people crash into each other and burst into flames? I don’t know, I rarely go to poker tournaments.
Secondly, who are these sharks they constantly refer to? I know, I know, its terminology based around the game, but have you seen the guys who play poker for a living? Half of them look like they had to come up from their mother’s basement to take a shower before the tourney. This isn’t Casino Royale, there aren’t billionaire tycoons, secret agents, and criminal masterminds playing for amounts equivalent to the national debt.
Finally, is poker really “dominated by men” or is it dominated by people who like to play poker? There are sports in which gender plays a big part. I have never met a guy who can match the grace, agility, and skill of a female figure skater. They’re better. You know it, I know it, let’s move on. On the other hand, I’ve never met a woman who could hit like Mike Singletary or get off the line like Jared Allen (look on nfl.com if you don’t know these names). To be fair though, I have always attributed the absence of female football players to the fact that women are too smart to play a sport that requires you to run into another person every play.
Saying poker is a sport dominated by men is like saying “knitting is a pastime dominated by women.” Nothing is being dominated, it’s just something a percentage of the female population chooses to do that men typically won’t. If women decide to play poker its not like they’re Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, they’re just sitting at a table with a bunch of guys who probably haven’t dated in awhile. My real beef here is that Vanessa Rousso may be a woman (a gorgeous woman at that), but it doesn’t sound like that’s the thing winning her poker tournaments. It always seems a shame when a fine intellect is reduced to a pretty face.
p.s. : my apologies to whoever wrote that interview, I’m sure you weren’t loading those two sentence with that much meaning.
Friday, March 27, 2009
I’d like to say I briefly considered killing everyone in the theatre who had set eyes upon her, but I have to be honest. I considered it for a LONG time. I considered it in the theatre, I considered it after the show, I even considered it on the car ride back to Philadelphia. I also recall a cat-call coming from the corner of the theatre when she came on stage. My instincts got the better of me and I stood up in my seat, scanning the audience for the source of the noise so I could mute him by punching his mouth through the back of his head. Thankfully my friend Maggio was there with me, and he had the sedatives ready for just such an occasion. I woke up 15 minutes later and enjoyed the rest of show, which I must admit was very funny. It was like the Daily Show, but with music…and an audience composed of liberals age 45-80.
When I got back home and tried to purge the image from my head by dousing my brain with alcohol, I stumbled upon a realization (truth be told, I stumbled on a lot of things that night). What if my sister was as pure and saintly as I imagine her to be? I probably wouldn’t even be able to spend time with her.
Me: Hey Julia, do you want to see a movie?
Julia: Sorry Fran, I have to pray for the poor tonight.
Me: Hey, you wanna’ grab a bite?
Julia: Not when so many around the word are wanting…
Me: Are you going to be around tomorrow?
Julia: No, I have to martyr myself for the betterment of humanity.
Sufficed to say, it would be a drag. So it occurred to me, maybe I don’t need a saint for a sister. I’ll settle for a good person. And I can rest easy in the knowledge that despite the fact she’s not a saint, she is still better than the rest of us.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Did I just blow your mind dude?
Wait! Don't go yet! I didnt mean it, there's more to the post!
This was all meant to illustrate a point. That point is the frequency with which young drug users are fed misinformation, which they then carry with them the rest of their life. Having formerly been (emphasis on formerly) a card-carrying member of the college/drug counterculture, I can tell you that despite the fact that a stoner will refer to existentialism about twenty times during a conversation, he/she will have no idea what it means. One might think this is an isolated problem, but people are overlooking the drug-induced, faux-intellectual epidemic sweeping our country’s youth.
Before we go on lets clarify one or two things about the drug community. Having not dealt with them personally, I have to exclude injection drug users and pill community from our conversation. Sorry guys, keep reading though. My next post is probably going to be on the importance of sterilized needles and what to do when you’re caught at a rave with no pacifier. Moving on. As I see it, there are three major branches of the stoner community that most people will fit into.
1) The College Stoner – Didn’t smoke before college, won’t smoke after college. However during college…wooo! These people will smoke anything that happens to be on fire at the time. They aren’t interested in drug culture though and temper their drug abuse with a healthy dose of alcohol abuse. When they get older they’ll get married, have kids, then yell at the kids for smoking pot.
2) The Life-Long Stoner – These people will most likely be buried in a casket made of hemp. They started smoking before freshmen year in high school and haven’t looked back since. You can tell these people apart from most because they are skinny, wear clothes that smell like if Petuli and weed had a baby, don scraggly facial hair (if male), there is a 60% chance they have dreadlocks and they are in the process of handing you a PETA pamphlet. The Life-long stoner has accepted weed not just as a drug but as a lifestyle, and will probably end up owning some property in Vermont, selling homemade crafts (candles, preserves, wood-carvings) to yuppies at craft fairs.
3) The “Learned” Stoner – This is the problem group that’s disseminating misinformation across an impressionable young stoner community. These are people who consciously decide to mix a mind-numbing drug and dense scholarly material. They started smoking pot to gain a measure of individualism, but still wanted to believe they were better than most people. At some point in their college career they’ll talk about expatriating to France because of America’s “moralistic hegemony,” but won’t because they don’t speak French and are cowards. The Learned Stoner has never played a sport for more than a year but has no problem labeling everyone that enjoys sports as plebeians. Their greatest crime however is their abuse of knowledge. They’ll pick up the works of Kant, Kafka, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard without a teacher to guide them and try to interpret it through their juvenile, drug-addled mind. You might ask, “Why do you hate this group so much?” My answer is simple. They enjoy the idea of being intelligent more than they enjoy actual intelligence. That and they frequently misquote Voltaire. Voltaire deserves better than these douche bags.
Perhaps the best argument against weed is that it will bring your children in contact with group 3. However, I still hold strong to my belief that the most harmful substance in this world is ignorance. Keep your kids ignorance free or they might grow up one day and vote for someone like George W. Bush
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Look at em’…with their suits, and false smiles, and haughty “I’m a contributing member of society” bourgeoisie bullshit. They’re probably at a conference somewhere in Des Moines, talking about the conference they last met at in Cincinnati. If you’re anything like me (bitter/poor), you resent these binder carrying, name tag wearing, corporate sentries because...in the best-case scenario, you'll probably end up as one. When that day arrives, we'll need something to distract us from the mind numbing tedium of our jobs. So, in that spirit, I'd like to make a few suggestions for how you can disrupt this civil, productive conversation pictured on the right....
For the purposes of this list we'll name the man Ted, and the woman Janet. Ted is from Accounts Receivable, Janet is from Human Resources.
- (Sliding up behind Ted and putting your arm on his shoulder) "Ted my man! I can't believe you look so crisp after last night! (look at Janet) This guy right here...how do you get that many private dances in one night and still come to work in the same outfit... they should give this guy an award!"
- "Porn's okay at work as long as I keep it softcore right?"
- "We're out of coffee, someone needs to make more..."(awkward pause) "Janet, I'm looking at you."
- "What's company policy on using the freezer as a temporary sperm bank?"
- "Janet you should know this...is it still sexual harassment if I give her money afterwards?"
- "Hey Ted you wanna' grab a drink at the bar?" Ted: "Um, its 10 am." "What are you, a Mormon?"
- "Hey Janet you wanna' grab a drink at the bar?" Janet: "Um, its 10 am." "So that's a no? (turn to Bill and whisper loudly) I think Janet is a lesbian."
- (Walk up to Ted and slap him firmly across the face) "How could you! I thought what we had was special!" (turn to Janet) "Keep him, he'll just break your heart too."
- "Tell me Janet, as a woman, do you resent Ted for doing less work and getting paid more?" (walk away briskly)
- "So Ted, hows the vasectomy working out for ya?"