Category Archives: complaining

in which i come crawling back

Well, here we are. After only several months after moving out of my childhood home, I’ll be moving back in with my family. Most of this time spent living “on my own” was just an exercise in futility. But then again hindsight is 20/20.

It’s really all about the money, or lack thereof. Since my rent went up back in March, I’ve been hard pressed to set aside any money. That, and the fact that my utilities bill is skyrocketing despite being conservative on my energy consumption. I’m now at a point where I can’t even afford groceries! The other factor has to to with the room mate. Well, not her but her fucking family. I have to be honest, I have never seen a train wreck quite as spectacular as her extended family. It was interesting to watch them from afar but the second their drama spilled into our household I knew it was time to bail. I’m not paying all of this money that I barely have so I can have the living room turn into a white trash storage unit. I feel bad about feeling this way, being it’s her family and all, but I have limits.

Normally moving back in with one’s parents is a humiliating event. But I’ve been looking mostly on the bright side. For one, I will save hundreds of dollars a month not having to pay any rent or utilities. Plus I won’t have to do any food shopping (some of the time). And I can finally catch up on all of the ESPN and Adult Swim programming I’ve been missing. Plus I’ll be near my friends again, who I felt like I haven’t seen as much of as I’d like to since moving to UB.

Funny thing is that I never felt like I had officially “moved out”. Even though all of my stuff came with me, it really felt like I was away at college again. I did my laundry at my parents’ house, ate like crap,  played lots of video games, and stayed up waaaaaay past my bedtime. The only real difference is lack of alcohol intake and a job. It’ll be a pain in the ass being further away from AEA but I think we’ll manage to work something out. Besides, now I’ll have money to actually go out and do stuff.

So farewell shitty, pot-holed streets and flooding estuaries. Good bye, worthless A/C unit and crooked walls.  I’m off to receive my bail out and live like a loser again.

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get old or die trying

This past weekend was a complete overhaul. I cut off all my hair, I got a new laptop, new clothes, new t.v., and have settled in pretty well at my new job and have started to make friends. All of this has been great, but I don’t want to take it all for granted. There was a story on the NYT online about a new Applebee’s that opened up in the Bronx just recently. There were 120 openings, and 6,5000 people applied. If that isn’t an indication of how fucked up the economy is, I don’t know what is. And it’s why anyone who has a job can’t complain ever again.

This year was kind of a bust in general. Other than the health care debate and Obama and the plane in the Hudson, the news was filled primarily with celebrity gossip and talent show results. It was boring. Personally though, this was without a doubt the oddest year of my life. So many unforeseen events unfurled (especially in the summer) and I met many interesting people. Fuck, this decade has been odd. In 2000, I was an awkward dork who knew nothing about the opposite sex or being social. Now I’m a slightly less awkward dork who is also kind of emotionally retarded (as my dad would put it). Two steps forward and one step back, I guess. And damn did I put an emphasis on girls, like there was nothing else in life but to impress and be with girls. I was like that for seven years! And that didn’t amount too much. Lots of broken hearts and crippled friendships. Yeesh. No more of that. I hope.

Oh, I’m beating a dead horse again.

I recently bought a book called “Cassette From My Ex,” which is a compilation of stories about people finding mix tapes from old flames, then reminiscing about the story behind it. It’s what most of my friends would call a “Ben Book”… because I am a miserable fuck, you see. In reality the book is very funny and the music choices funnier. And it actually brings up something that I’ve noticed for years: girls never make mix tapes for guys. In all my mixtaping, I have received about one (possibly two). So I started thinking about the perfect mix tape again, and came up with this collection, which is dedicated to everyone and no one:

Side A

Message of Love – The Pretenders

I’ve Just Seen a Face – The Beatles

Take on Me – AhHa

My Kingdom – Echo and the Bunnymen

Hot! Hot! Hot! – The Cure

Debate Exposes Doubt – Death Cab for Cutie

Oceanside – The Decemberists

Sink to the Bottom – Fountains of Wayne

July Jones – The New Pornographers

Fall on Me – R.E.M.

She’s So Hot (Boom) – Flight of the Conchords

Side B

I Will Dare – The Replacements

Nobody’s Hero – Stiff Little Fingers

I Found that Essence Rare – Gang of Four

This Love is Fucking Right! – Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Sweet Lady Genevieve – The Kinks

Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd

Transmission – Joy Division

Gloria – U2 (the non-shitty, early 80’s U2)

Sugar Girl – Buddy

The Way I Feel Inside – The Zombies

Nobody Loves Us – Morrissey

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viva hate

So I was thinking.

Everybody likes things. That’s how people relate to each other: by discussing and/or doing things they like. But I will bet you that you could relate to a person better by discussing the mutual things you hate. Not dislike, but hate. To dislike something is to tolerate it, but avoid it whenever possible. If you hate something, you want to banish it to one of Jupiter’s moons. I gave it some thought (about five minutes) and I came up with the following list.

Things That I Hate

by Ben Friedman

Age: 24

  • quiche
  • Michael Bay
  • Stephanie Meyer
  • garden spiders
  • 8th graders
  • 24-hour news networks
  • Facebook apps
  • people who say, “What’s wrong?” to me when there is nothing wrong
  • grape flavored products
  • Pennsylvania drivers
  • Pennsylvania
  • Kutztown Greek life
  • challah that is way too eggy
  • Confederate flags (the South isn’t going to rise again)
  • Most of the top selling songs on iTunes on any given week
  • VH1
  • Anything on E! that isn’t The Soup
  • politicians
  • people who say that they are feeling “emo” when they are sad (sad being used in a broad sense, since they are probably upset about something stupid)
  • newspapers, re: the lack of any sort of business plan and the mass layoffs
  • Morrissey canceling shows for dumb reasons
  • Weezer’s output for the past four years
  • The Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins
  • bartenders who ignore you (while you are waving $20 in their face)
  • the radio
  • horror movie remakes/sequels to horror movie remakes
  • writing poetry
  • being forced to try new foods
  • The Simpsons, seasons 11 to present
  • the fact that Daria isn’t on DVD
  • manga comics
  • watching Jason Bateman act in mediocre movies while the Arrested Development movie is in development limbo
  • the feeling you get when you realize that you are the only Smiths/Morrissey fan that you know of

Now, I know this make me look like some sort of curmudgeon, but I assure you all that there are plenty of things in this life that I find quite enjoyable, such as… um… uhhh… why don’t I get back to you on that one?

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it’s not my home, it’s their home

Today, I realized what I hate about living at home the most. And it’s that there isn’t a decent place to read a book in here. The lighting is poor (energy saving bulbs are shite), there are few available chairs/couches, and there is always noise. Always. When you have five, sometimes six people living in a house which has been a few years outgrown, a moment’s peace is hard to come by. Well not so much peace, but a spot to read more than 10 pages without getting distracted by clattering pots or four straight minutes of running water. All I would really look for in an apartment is a place for a bed and a big chair with a bright lamp next to it. And probably a monkey butler. So if any of you know where I can find a cheap studio apartment that allows very domesticated pets, let me know.

On a vaguely related note, I am waiting with boner-fueled anticipation for Chuck Klosterman’s new book, which drops tomorrow. After reading the head scratcher that was Downtown Owl, it’s relieving to see that he’s written a follow up to Sex, Drugs, and Coco Puffs. Or anything really, as long as it’s not in novel form. I can’t remember being this excited over a book since they heyday of Goosebumps, which we all know declined in quality after #35 (though Monster Blood III was probably the shark jumper). This summer marked an upswing in reading. I think I have read about 15 books this year, up from a whopping three in 2008. These numbers are due in part to my drastically reduced video game playing (despite clocking in 75 hours in Final Fantasy XII since September) and the fact that I actually have money to purchase books. But most of it has to do with trying to keep up with Ashley. I am waaaaay behind.

But other than all that, life is kicking ass for the first time in a while.

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go forth and die

Earlier this evening, I was contacted by Kutztown and was asked to do a “survey”. And at the end of this “survey” (which meant absolutely nothing and merely served as a transition into the real question) she asked me to donate money. How much money? $350 to be exact. I don’t even have $20 in my bank account right now. I politely declined, pointing out that my degree was useless and I can barely get my car fixed. And that was that. I returned to watching Wheel of Fortune and screaming at the t.v. (“Quilted Handbag”! Who the fuck would’ve guess that?)

And then I came across something interesting. And by interesting I mean infuriating. Courtney sent me a link to a website (studentsreview.com) that polls college graduates about their satisfaction with their alma mater and how their degree has made a difference in the real world. Here are some numbers:

  • 50% of those surveyed are currently unemployed
  • 50% of those surveyed said that their KU education contributed in no way to their career
  • KU sports a 28% matriculation rate (meaning only 2,800 of the 10,000 students will ever finish)
  • The average salary of a KU alumni after 10 years is $56,667

There are a few things that factor into these findings. One, I have never even heard of this website and can’t really judge how legitimate it is or how they put their numbers together. Two, it’s fucking PA. It’s middle America. Not only are jobs scarce out there, but $50,000 in the Lehigh Valley goes a hell of a lot farther than it does in Monmouth County. Three, it depends on what your degree is in, which is a huge factor. Take Professional Writing for instance. There are lots you can do with a PW degree, provided that it’s 1999 and people still read newspapers. After reading the information, I switched over to The Princeton Review and see what they had to say. And it really wasn’t any better.

But in the end, for what it’s worth, these numbers are fucking pitiful. And they’re asking me for money? Why, so that more than half of the fucking degenerates who go there can drop out? And so that the university can serve sub par food for prices that toe the line of extortion? And so they can inadequately prepare students for a constantly changing environment?

Yeah, deep down I knew that KU was just another dime a dozen state college. But I keep thinking that maybe, just maybe, that didn’t matter. I had great references. I had countless hours of (what I thought was) relevant experience. And it pretty much amounted to nothing. Though job prospects are looking better, none of them involve writing in any way. This blog is more or less the only fruit of my labor. Well this, and the yellowing newspaper clippings of articles that I wrote for the newspapers I worked for. Perhaps I’m not trying hard enough, or maybe if you live in PA it’s easier to find a job with a degree from Kutztown. But all I know is that out of all my Professional Writing brethren, very few of us have found a career.

This however, inspired me to start building a time machine… there was a review on the site caught my attention, and it summed up the KU experience better than I could have said myself:

This is not a university. It is just a drunk student town.

“Go forth, be conquered. Go forth and die.”

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games for days

I’ll get the random shit I usually save for the end out of the way: what the fuck is up with toothbrushes these days? I got a new one yesterday, and it has a “tongue freshener” and the head is zig-zagged to “conform to my teeth”. Whoever makes these things honestly just bends the fuck out of them and says it specially designed to get hard to reach areas. I had no idea that there was an area that was hard to reach in my mouth! I’m not a whale. If it has bristles and isn’t pink, I’m going to use it to brush my teeth. I’m not paying $7 for a wacky looking plastic stick. Fuck you, Crest.

If I told 14-year-old me that the $30 I had intended to use to purchase a video game was instead spent on books, he would probably call me a nerd and then sit in his room and wonder what it would be like to kiss a girl who never liked me (I was a strange kid). But yeah, I bought Watchmen and The Fall today in hopes of stimulating the few brain cells I have left, but also because I prefer my summer reads to be about existentialism. I’ve read more books this summer than in any previous year already (three) and I’ve got a few more on my list to get through. After reading 50 pages or so of Watchmen, I can see what all the fuss was about. It’s very well written, and good dialogue is what I appreciate the most in a story. I’m sure by the time I’m finished, I won’t want to see the movie.

After I bought my books, I decided to indulge in a little crass consumerism by eating at McDonald’s. It was during my 800 calorie treat that I realized that I am my own worst enemy… intellectually speaking, of course. I say this because last night I saw G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. I saw this movie for two reasons. One, I heard through various blogs that it was an absolute train wreck of a movie that flirted with the idea that the intended viewing audience is retarded and I just had to see it for myself. The other reason was that AEA wanted to see it I wasn’t going to say no. I was not going to let my personal taste ruin another good time. Besides, what’s the harm in a popcorn flick?

But I committed the cardinal intellectual sin: I did something to be ironic. I gave $10.50 to a movie studio which may have produced the most quintessentially formulaic movie of all time. I swear to you all, it was like watching a shot for shot remake of Team America: World Police, except that it wasn’t supposed to be a joke. By giving Paramount my money, I supported their campaign of celluloid terrorism because I thought it would be funny. Even though the movie help my interest most of the time by blowing shit up every 10 minutes and had a surprise cameo by Brendan Fraser, the studio executives that wrote and produced this movie knew that it was just a two hour commercial (much like Transformers) and nothing else. That’s fine by me, but I don’t want to support that mentality. Yet I did anyway. I now understand why people hate hate ironic hipsters so much.

This experience will likely lead to some unwarranted self loathing and I will question my taste in everything for a few days, but I know that from years of watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 it’s important to enjoy a little schlock now and then. After all, terrible, formulaic movies aren’t going away any time soon. But if anyone catches you and questions your taste, just say you were doing it for the lulz.

Upon re-reading this, I realize that I might be a horrible, stuck up person. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise to most of you.

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bring me the head of william s. burg

I’ve been accused of being many things, namely an emo (never true), a hipster (marginally true), and an asshole (very true). But only the hipster label bugs me the most. You buy one v-neck shirt and suddenly people expect you to grow an ironic mustache for their amusement.

Now, I have been flirting with the hipster culture for a few years now. It started with listening to The Queen is Dead shortly before everyone suddenly found The Smiths to be relevant again, and it culminated with buying a v-neck tee and a vest within the same month last summer. But I’ve come to realize, like everything in popular culture, that hipsterdom is merely a trend. I think it was my friend John who said that the hipster lifestyle is a cultural dead end. How long can one dress like a homeless schizophrenic and get away with it? What constitutes “good” music? If everything about your personality is willfully ironic, then who are you really? Such questions may never be answered, as most hipsters are too busy drinking and snorting away their trust funds for researchers to collect any clear data.

The one thing that the hipster trend has in common will every trend ever is that the entire culture is centered around the music. The way you dress, act, think, and talk all depends on what kind of music you’re listening to. Music cliques have been around for years (SLC Punk does an excellent job of shedding light on the subject) and they will never go away. And that is a really shitty way to live your life. But what’s so fascinating about hipsterdom is that while most trends have a lifespan that exists between Sophomore year in high school and Junior year of college, there are dedicated hipsters who are well into their late 20’s/early 30’s… and they have little hipster babies.

Predictably on my part, there are two things  that I admire about hipster life: indie music and Brooklyn. I’ve experienced both and I love them. Also, I do like Pabst Blue Ribbon, but only because it’s all I could really afford at school and it gets you drunk quickly. But even though I indulge in fringe hipsterdom, I’d never really fit in if I were to just be myself, mainly because I don’t spend $200 on clothes that look like they’re worth $20 (I’m looking at you, American Apparel), and that I actually enjoy the work of N.W.A. without the slightest hint of irony… though I suppose I should since I’m very white.

Actually now that I think of it, it really just boils down to not being able to pull off the v-neck/vest look. I should just stick to the dinosaur hoodie.

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