Monthly Archives: December 2008

No Bromophobia Here

Okay, here’s the thing.  I love Freckled K.  Like, seriously, she’s one of my favorite DC kids, and she always has a way of mingling sentiment with grit that can form a lump in my throat or a twinkle in my eye.  But she and I just can’t seem to see eye to eye on our most recent debacle.

In no way, shape, or form am I embarrassed to admit that I watched Bromance on Monday.

The Brodester Himself

The Brodester Himself

Remember that pesky little rule about how I’m awesome and you’re not allowed to judge me?  It was put into effect for watching 90210 and it’s still very much in play today, as I discuss my newest treasure.  The thing is, 90210 was more of a morbid curiosity shared among friends; Bromance is firmly on its way to appointment television, people.

Let’s back up a tad, please…perhaps to the part where I live in a building with 112 people under the age of 21.  I love my residents, and spent the last two or three weeks of the fall semester almost exclusively with them.  A real connection evolved, and I think of several of them as little brothers and sisters now.  Part of what we did, especially during the freezing rain monstrosity we referred to as Finals Week, was watch TV together.  Did we fall upon an occasional Next, Parental Control, or, heaven forbid, recap of Charm School: Rock of Love?  Of course.  But as we meandered the wasteland that is December television, we started noticing a lot more commercials for upcoming fares from MTV – Real World: Brooklyn, The City, and, be still my heart, Bromance.  What’s the next logical step?  Viewing parties.

There’s no reason to be embarrassed, K.  The show is not only funny, but it realizes that it’s a joke, and everyone’s in on it.  Well, at least everyone besides Michael.  Seriously, dude, you thought this was going to be like The Hills?  But instead of going down the route of your average MTV show, the producers didn’t skewer him.  After Brody and Michael had a broment, and Michael decided he needed to go home, Brody offered him a ride to the airport…because that’s what a real bro would do.  Some of these guys are total rocks, like Jered – who we like to call “Crier” since he was always shown with tears streaming down his face in the ubiquitous ad spots.  Crier is a full time lifeguard from FL who, despite graduating from college with a degree in criminal justice, still claims Spring Break is his favorite time of year.  Come on!

The show is good, harmless fun.  Who wouldn’t want to see cocky losers who wear American Eagle t-shirts out to a club in Hollywood?  Seriously, guys, is Miss Tyra going to guest star in an upcoming makeover episode?  Or what about when “Fratty” (Chris P.) made his shirt calling Pratt out as the douchebag all of us know him to be – joy spread across America when that happened.  Even better, the fact that these guys are eliminated while sitting together in a hot tub.  As “Asian” (Chris F.) said, “The awkward level just went from about five to twenty eight!”, which, inherently, made the awkward level rise even more.  I mean, come on, they even have a “can-fessional,” where the bros have to film all confessional segments while sitting on a toilet.  How can it not be more obvious that this entire show is in on the joke?

Sidebar – unfortch, the same can not be said for Whitney’s spin-off.  The City was enjoyable, yes, but only because the casting department did such a better job with the mactors (model slash actors, and not the other way around) this time around.  There is no way Olivia does any work at DVF.  And what was up with Jay taking Whit to patio-seating restaurants twice?  Does he love the Big Apple weather on September nights, or was it easier for the camera crews to film it as opposed to cramming into a tiny Manhattan bistro?  I’m not trying to knock The City, but it’s so surrealist that the fake parts were suffocating the real parts.  Besides, it was fun to recognize parts of town (and mock Erin for not being to actually afford Gramercy), which can’t be said for the slum they film in on The Hills.  And yes, I realize that I watched two spin-offs of a spin-off of Laguna Beach, which is, in turn, a spin-off from reality.  Bite me.

So all in all, I’m stoked for Bromance.  My guys are stoked for Bromance.  Shit, my girls are stoked for Bromance.  And who is stoked most of all?  The company that made our viewing party t-shirts.

Essential to fully soak in broments.

Essential to fully soak in broments.

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Only In Nashville

I went to a concert last night here in good ol’ Nash Vegas.  I was supposed to go with a friend of mine, but she ended up bailing because of the cluster fuck that was driving down I-65.  So after I saw Benjamin Button (superb), my friend Liz dropped me off at the bar downtown for the show.  I wandered in on my own, and sauntered up to the bar for a beer.  The bartender was pregnant.  Granted, she was only four or five months along, but it was still a bit of a cliche to see a pregnant woman opening my beers as she rang up someone’s tab.

I tried not to judge too much, which for me, is saying a lot. Then the opening band decided to sing a song dedicated to The Swayze in one of our frat’s favorite movie – Road House.  At this point, I couldn’t decide if I was ecstatic or appalled.  I sat there, swiveling in my chair every time a waitress needed to get by, which was constantly, and soaked all of the insanity in.  Finally, the main act came on and was thoroughly enjoyable.  I ended up meeting two chicks who discussed Nash Vegas, ‘Bama, and life with me for about an hour or so.  As I realized that I needed to get back to school at some point, I called a cab, thinking I would have plenty of time to kill before they ended up there.

All of a sudden, some shady guy walks in to the bar.   He yelled in the middle of the bar, asking if someone had called for a cab.  Embarrassed and slightly let down that I couldn’t stay for longer, I sheepishly walked out to the cab.  Shady McSketchington then asked me for money since he “just got out of jail” – charming, I know.  I steadfastly refused, and once I got into the cab, told the cabbie how to get back to campus.  Then he tried to steal my sunglasses.

Welcome to Nashville, mother fucker.

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Jewish Christmas, Bitches!

Yes, I know I’m not Jewish.  Despite my curly brown hair, prominent nose, and Hebrew name, I’m actually about as WASPy as you can get, madras and pastels included.  I am regularly mistaken for Jewish by the local Hillel on campus, but my Presbyterian family has been in America for centuries.  To be honest, though, I did work at a Jewish camp once.  My nickname was Cohen because the girls thought I looked like Adam Brody from The OC.  I took it as a compliment since everyone knows The OC is one of the best shows to ever exist.

All that aside, I have always kind of hated Christmas.  Part of it is probably because I have parents who really, really suck at the whole concepts of “gifts.”  Part of it is because I always found it to be so insincere, and never really understood why you were supposed to be nicer for one month out of the year.  Why couldn’t you just be a good person all year long?  Why the sudden emphasis on December?  My juvenile brain couldn’t wrap around the concept, and I’m not sure my adult brain can now, either.  Short of asinine parents trying to force some good behavior out of their monstrous beasts of children, there’s nothing else I can come up with for this bullshit “holiday season cheer.”

To be sure, the music certainly didn’t help.  I never really liked Christmas music, save for a handful of classics, like “Santa Baby” (the Eartha Kitt version, natch) or Jack Johnson’s version of “Rudolph” where he lambasted the other reindeer for being such pricks.  Then came senior year of college.  Senior year of college was the real downfall of any kind of respect for Christmas music.  I worked at a store that sold paraphernalia for my school – hoodies, t shirts, shorts, golf shirts, postcards, shot glasses, jewelry, ties, et cetera.  From Thanksgiving through Winter break, we had to listen to that most unholy of things – the nonstop Christmas music radio station.  For nine straight hours (the length of our shifts), we listened to only Christmas music.  And let’s get one thing straight – there are only about 15 or 20 songs that these stations use, and they just rotate the versions of each.  If I have to the listen to “The Little Drummer Boy” or that horrid song about the boy buying his dying mother shoes so she can meet Jesus, I will rip someone’s head off.

No.  Fucking.  Joke.

No. Joke.

Then there’s the absurd clothing. Trust me, I am all for a tacky Christmas sweater party.  It’s horribly cliche and completely overused, but it’s funny and you can always make it competitive.  For Christ’s sake, my fraternity has Christmas colors, so when I was social chair, I rocked that out.  We teamed up with a sorority with similar colors and I established an annual “Christmas in April” mixer – these parties are a hell of a lot more fun when you’re wearing shorts and getting blitzed.  But I recently headed to a house party with some friends from my cohort, and these people were wearing lit antlers, Santa sweaters, and reindeer silk pajamas without a hint of irony.  Chuck Bass being my fashion idol, I went casual with a yellow Oxford and some navy chinos.  People legitimately held it against me that I didn’t dress like an absolute moron for this party, and I was shocked and appalled by my friends and colleagues being dressed like 60-year-old women.  It is never, ever okay for you to wear something with jingle bells.  This is just a cold hard fact, people.

So, for the past three years running, I have retired to my friend’s country farmhouse, built in the 1850’s, for Chinese and Indian food.  Kate and I would avoid the world, hang out with her family for the requisite time, then gorge on pan-Asian cuisine while we watched truly awful movies.  Since I’m stuck on campus this year, the charm of rural Virginia and the biting sarcasm of Kate will have to wait, but it doesn’t mean I can’t order some General Tso’s and watch the most awesomely bad movies possible.  I’m thinking I’ll start off with The Perfect Score.

Love that shit - how can you not?

Love it - how can you not?

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Spending Christmas Alone

Yes, it’s official – I am spending Christmas alone here at graduate school.  The long story is that the school messed up my financial aid and I have to stay behind to work off the balance.  Even though they were two months late with my awards check, and had countless meetings regarding my financial package, they still gave me too much.  I received a phone call sometime before Thanksgiving telling me that they had screwed up, as usual, and had given me around $1800 more than initially intended.  Instead of letting me know that I would receive less money in the spring, they demanded I pay them back the difference.  As a result of their own rampant ineptitude and lack of communication, I now had to work off the sum that I had mostly spent on furniture, text books, overdue cell phone bills, and other accommodations that come with waiting over two months for money.

The short story is, I hate everyone and didn’t really feel like flying anywhere.

To be perfectly honest, it bothers me more that people pity me than the concept of actually staying here alone.  I like the alone time; I embrace the chance to read for fun, watch movies, and take the time to sit down and listen to music.  In a healthy helping of irony, I even had time to find the only Christmas song I enjoy – “Christmas Time” by Andy Davis.  A sample lyric is “And it sneaks up on you like cold weather/Whether or not you’re ready it comes/I don’t want to be lonely on the most wonderful time of year/But Christmas time is here…”  Yet, despite my obvious happiness with the situation, when people hear that I’m staying in the dorm over break, this unbelievable wave of barely disguised contempt rolls over them.  It seems like pity, but with more condescension than anything else.  I think I would be a lot more comfortable with the entire thing if people just seemed more sincere about something that truly doesn’t affect them in any way.

To be sure, I still owe about $800 on the debt that the school arbitrarily assigned to me after its own gross incompetence.  More importantly, I have always loathed holidays, especially Christmas, and have no interest in going home to choke down shitty songs and take-out food with relatives.  Perhaps even worse, I can’t stand my family and have no real motivation to head to Minnesota, of all places, to waste away the week.

That said, can’t people just leave me alone and let it go?  None of this affects much of anyone but me, and yet I have had to explain this situation more times than I could count over the past few weeks.  I think it’s safe to say I’ve had my fill of disingenuous concern.  For now, I’d just like to be left alone; which, for once, is something I can bank on for the next two weeks.

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Bob’s Not Only Your Uncle

He’s also the winner of Survivor Gabon.  And just once, I’d like to hear Jeff Probst say it right – it’s not pronounced like “bone,” you dip shit.  Gab-on, not Ga-bone.

I’m not really sure how I feel about Bob winning this season.  To be sure, the game completely unraveled at the end, and total morons were left in the final six.  When you have mental midgets like Matty, Crystal, Sugar, and Susie still in the game that far in, it really says something about the caliber of the cast.  All of the likable, interesting characters like Marcus, Charlie, and Jacquie were gone too early.  Instead, we got to listen to Kenny talk about he was a master mind, when he actually threw the entire game away on one vote.

All in all, I was left incredibly underwhelmed with this season.  The cast was mediocre at best.  When you have a girl like Sugar in the finals, and she’s actually responsible for some of the better moves in the game, then that says a lot.  Especially when the only reason was not because of any kind of strategic genius.  Her moves were almost always based on emotion, like feeling sorry for someone, or believing another player when they outright lied to her face.  I am the last person to say a winner doesn’t deserve the title, because the jury is the only group of people who can determine that.  But I feel confident saying that Bob wouldn’t stack up against previous winners if they had the chance to take him on in the game.  Nevertheless, congrats to Bob Crowley, winner of the 17th season of Survivor.  Hopefully, the spring season in Brazil can be an improvement.

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“Control yourself, take only what you need from it.”

When I was in undergrad, I usually came up with a theme for each semester.  It was something I did with a good friend of mine; I remember having fun and keeping the themes posted in our profiles to remind us.  I thought of it the other day when I made a playlist on iTunes.  The title of the playlist, and the overarching theme, to be honest, was “Control Yourself.”  I’ve come to realize that I’ve essentially extended this theme to the semester overall here in grad school.

I’ve made a concerted effort in the past few months to really rein in my negativity and bitterness.  I know that I lash out at people and get worked up over stupid shit, and it definitely affects me more as a 24 year old than a 19 year old.  There’s a completely different standard for someone in graduate school than your average undergraduate student.  I’m really trying to let things slide off my back more, and coast through situations more, instead of letting asinine people with shit for brains really knock me off course.  I overestimated how much I could handle when I got here, and jumped head first into an unhealthy relationship, which then led to uncomfortable intimacy with colleagues and supervisors.  Will I spend the next year and a half recovering?  Of course not.  Do I regret wasting my first semester with people I can’t stand?  To be honest, yes.
So the moral from this semester and what may end up continuing into next spring is “Control yourself, take only what you need from it.”  I don’t have to be perfect in grad school – this experience is for me, to better myself, to hone the skills and assets that will make me a better professional.  I don’t need to try to be everything to everyone, and worry about how some dipshit faculty member thinks about me at the end of the day.  I came to graduate school to make myself a better person.

I don’t give a shit if the wisdom comes from MGMT, it’s still true.

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Overachievers Not So Anonymous

I’ll admit it, I have a perfectionist streak. When it’s something that’s especially important to me or I’m really interested in, I will have little control on how much effort I put into a project or presentation. I pour every bit of my heart and soul into the task at hand. I stay up to ungodly hours to tweak every last part of it, making sure the font is absolutely beautiful or the sizes are uniform or the pictures complement each other well.

For instance, this semester two of my close friends and I had to do a presentation on admissions for one of our classes. We covered the history of admissions, the role of a modern day admissions counselor, the professional context through associations and conferences – basically everything you would want to know about collegiate admissions. I put forth the idea that we all dress like admissions counselors from our undergrad schools, which were conveniently a highly selective, small, liberal arts, public school; a highly selective, small, research, private university; and a large, research, flagship public university. I personally made the slide show, after my teammates submitted the information broken into slides, and I created the multi-media literature on each of our undergraduate schools. Then I wrote the case study, asked for feedback from six different schools, and researched tuition and citizenship state law in Virginia (the state our case study took place in). Naturally, we dominated the other groups and got a perfect A+ on our presentation. To be sure, I also put in upwards of forty or fifty hours of research and work into it, so I would have flipped my shit if I hadn’t received high marks.

During the same class, another group gave a presentation on Greek Life….and it was fucking horrible. I mean, this thing was just a straight up third grade, piss poor, god awful, shiteous waste of time. The content was almost nonexistent, the power point had been made in like 10 minutes, and the speeches had the eloquence of John McCain after a stroke. At one point, the most mentally challenged of the three decided she wanted to discuss the percentages of Greek membership. This is the actual conversation that followed:

Retarded girl: “What do you guys think about blacks in fraternities? Like, how many are in fraternities? Not that much, right?
Professor: “What are you talking about?”
Retarded girl: “What about how many of them went to private schools? Most of them, right? Yeah, I think that, too.”
Professor: “Did you even find any research on that?
Retarded girl: “No, I just wanted to see what everyone thought. I couldn’t find any numbers on this.”

As a result, I got pissed. Knowing that I had a presentation on Greek Life in a different class that had several overlaps in enrolled students, I knew the bar had been raised. This presentation was so unbearably appalling that I had to overcompensate by having a presentation that was flawless in research, demeanor, aesthetics, everything. Not only was I passionate about the subject and an overachiever in general, but I had to upstage this pathetic excuse of a graduate student. So I threw myself into my presentation. I logged easily eighty hours of work on a half hour presentation, and practically moved into the law library over Thanksgiving break to compile all of the right studies, anecdotes, statistics, and research to show a much broader spectrum of Greek life. I amassed around forty six sources, and had props, bribes of candy, and a generally sunny demeanor. As I walked them through the negative effects of Greek Life, such as hazing, binge drinking, and gender roles, my professor stopped on almost every slide to ask questions. I finally got to the positive impact of fraternities and sororities – improvements in leadership skills, cognitive development, persistence, and retention – and he told me I was taking too long. As I finally neared achieving my upstaging of Retarded Girl, my professor told me to wrap things up, and made me summarize all of the positive effects into a few sentences.

Needless to say, I was pissed. I had spent so much time perfecting my presentation and my ass hat of a professor impeded my awesomeness. However, I have, on several occasions, called out Retarded Girl in class and subsequently humiliated her. This, in turn, obviously brought me immense happiness.

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