GET TO THE CHOPPA!!!

Posted in No Politics Friday on March 30th, 2007 by Ed

I'm really mailing in today's No Politics Friday ™ entry, but this goes out to the apparent infatuation with the film Predator among everyone I know. Is this some new hipster cultural kitsch icon or something? I must have missed that meeting.

And in case you're really hurting for Friday afternoon work entertainment, spend about an hour reading Tard Blog. If you've never seen it prior, it is essentially the greatest thing ever. If you need convincing, start with #25 or #21. It is far too unfortunate that the blog ceased to be updated more than two years ago. I wonder how those tards are doing.

Wait, I bet they're still retarded. Well that was easy.

GRADUATE SCHOOL COMMITTEE-SPEAK TRANSLATOR

Posted in Rants on March 29th, 2007 by Ed

Fresh off of getting screwed out of a Research Assistant position, I decided to meet with my committee chair today. I recognized the words as English, of course, but it dawned on me (as she was plying me with what amount to academic Successories platitudes) that she was actually speaking in an elaborate code.

I should point out in advance that my chair is a fabulous person and treats me extremely well. Nonetheless, today's meeting got me thinking about the need for a translating tool for the average graduate student's use when dealing with faculty.

Here are just a few examples. Anyone who wants to volunteer to use intricate programming knowledge to help me create an automated translator for this webpage will be my hero.

When he/she says: "Don't forget that there are a ton of non-academic job opportunities as well."
What he/she means is: You have no chance of getting an academic job, so focus on these amorphous "non-academic" opportunities about which I will offer no evidence or details.

When he/she says: "It's important not to take this personally."
What he/she means is: You got screwed. We nearly broke it off in your ass. How did it feel?

When he/she says: "Don't make the mistake of tying your self-esteem to your job."
What he/she means is: You are going to get a really, really shitty job. I hope you like a 4/4 teaching load at a state school with two directional adjectives in its name and undergraduates who think Vladimir Putin was the villain in Red Dawn.

When he/she says: "This doesn't mean that we think ____ is a better graduate student than you."
What he/she means is: We think _____ is a much better graduate student than you, which is why we're investing in (his/her) future and not yours.

When he/she says: "It's absolutely possible to get a job without publications."
What he/she means is: There are no recorded examples of this ever happening, but I think I heard my cousin's former babysitter say that she heard it happened to some dude at UMass.

When he/she says: "It's the quality of your work – not publications or research experience – that counts on the job market."
What he/she means is: We are cutting bait and casting you to the wolves, but to assuage our collective conscience we need to absolve ourselves of any responsibility for your impending failure.

When he/she says: "Being a Research Assistant doesn't really have any benefits."
What he/she means is: Did I mention the part about how we almost broke it off in your ass? You're not going to walk right for a month. We could have used lube, but hey, blood counts as lube, right?

When he/she says: "It's important to stay optimistic."
What he/she means is: None of us can figure out why you're still here, and neither can you.

When he/she says: "Just stay focused on your goal and keep working on the dissertation."
What he/she means is: Have fun writing your dissertation with no input or assistance of any kind from us. I might sign off on it, but I'll probably sign as Alan Smithee.

When he/she says: "Don't forget that teaching is also important on the job market."
What he/she means is: I can't believe I kept a straight face! Did you buy that? No? Shit. Well teaching is pretty important – if you're applying to be a high school social studies teacher.

I hope this has been informative. Feel free to offer some gems from your own experience in the comments.

THOSE DAMNED BLUE COLLAR TWEEKERS

Posted in Rants on March 29th, 2007 by Ed

So the principals of this website are about as obsessed with CMT's Trick My Truck as any non-hillbillies could possibly be. It is beyond any doubt the worst show ever made on about 30 different levels, which in my book means it is Must See TV.

As I pondered the death of my academic career while watching Ryno and Scrapyard trick the hell out of a man's truck in the image of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial (!!!!) it suddenly hit me: I need to become a trucker.

I love driving. I like the idea of a meth habit. I have absolutely no relevant or marketable skills. I'm not all that bright and getting kinda fat. The elements, Mr. Watson, are falling into place.

And I hesitate to even mention it in fear of jinxing things, but….I could stand a chance (however small) of having My Truck Tricked. That would pretty much validate my entire existence – meeting C.B. down at the Petro, watching Rob and CJ mock my truck's shoddy un-Tricked appearance, and being gawked at by whatever portion of CMT's mouthbreathing fan base manages to find the remote that evening. Since you're all responsible for nominating me, start thinking of an appropriate sob story and Tricking theme on the double.

Most of all, I'd finally have a respectable career – one that my fellow idiots eulogize as being noble, thankless, quintessentially American, and other verbal masturbatory paeans. Trucking makes America great! No truckers = no America!

I guess a wise man wasn't kidding when he said those damn blue-collar tweekers are the backbone of this town.

BLADE

Posted in Rants on March 28th, 2007 by Ed

So, believe it or not, I got screwed out of a Research Assistant position about 12 hours after I posted about The New Way. I didn't really think it was possible, but I have actually gotten angrier and more bitter since Tuesday morning. Stunning, really.

With my academic career now safely resigned to history, here's something utterly random to cheer me up (not really – it's more just a way to avoid making another long, rambling, angry entry): the Wesley Snipes Movie Nickname Game.

Mr. Snipes is perhaps unique in the history of Hollywood in that nearly every movie in which he has starred makes an excellent nickname. Really, try it. It's uncanny, isn't it?

Drop Zone. 7 Seconds. Undisputed. ZigZag. The Art of War. Hard Luck. The Detonator. Demolition Man. Chaos. The Marksman. One Night Stand. America's Dream. Money Train. Passenger 57. Rising Sun. Boiling Point. Sugar Hill.

See how many of your friends you can outfit with a shiny, new Snipes Movie nickname based on their personality. I bet you've never before realized this. Thank god I have so much spare time.

Sincerely,

Ed "Money Train" Burmila

I CALL IT "THE NEW WAY"

Posted in Rants on March 26th, 2007 by Ed

I want to apologize for this post in advance. It breaks ginandtacos style in a lot of ways and is uncharacteristically Livejournalish.

Recently I have been spreading a new way of orienting oneself toward life. I call this new way "The New Way." I know I can't say that with the same gravitas as Christopher Merloni, but you can watch the movie if you want the full effect.

First, a little background. I have always been quite industrious. My work ethic has been historically, for the most part, pretty intense. While my peers were jamming their systems with drugs, video games, and date rape, I was making sure I got through high school and college without getting a B in anything. Boy, I said to myself on more than one occasion, it sure will be great when this effort pays off! And even moreso when my colleagues reap the terrible harvest of their sloth and ignorance!

As the aging process continues unabated, I have found that this work ethic has not proven to be an asset. I can say, with clarity of course afforded by hindsight, that I was wasting my goddamn time for 99% of my life. It turns out that the barely-literate C- students end up running the world. Well, the ones with the right connections and amount of "parental support" do. Lo and behold, no one gives a flying fuck if you're smart, or eager, or a hard worker, or named Charlie, or anything else. When I take a mental accounting of people I know and have known, it seems like – nay, it IS like – the ones with the fulfilling and/or lucrative jobs are inevitably the ones who have redefined Minimal Competence for most of their lives.

Being a man of science, I have decided that I must try to identify the relevant variables that separate me from those who have succeeded. Accordingly, I have developed The New Way.

  • 1. No more reading, watching, or doing anything from which I can learn.
  • 2. No more effort. All academic work will be done at the last possible minute, to the lowest possible standard, and submitted with an appalling sense of entitlement. This also applies to job hunting. The New Way insists that I sit back, do nothing, and somehow get actively recruited into high-paying work despite my appalling lack of qualifications.
  • 3. Ungratefully get someone else to subsidize my unproductive life.
  • 4. Drink like an idiot, pausing occasionally to inhale my body weight in cheap weed and cocaine.
  • 5. A supplemental diet of right-wing closet social darwinism, so that when the Invisible Hand of Privilege and Dad's Friends guides me into a rewarding life I can condescendingly remind everyone that I earned it and that everyone who didn't just isn't as smart as me.

    So this is The New Way. I just sit on my ass until everything somehow magically works out for me. This may seem idiotic to you. It certainly looks that way to me. But remember: be a Man of Science! As stupid as this looks, it has worked thousands of times over – from George W. Bush down to your Old College Roommate.

  • KEITH RICHARDS IS A PUSSY

    Posted in No Politics Friday on March 23rd, 2007 by Ed

    Today's No Politics Friday ™ entry comes from the "I hope to god I rock this much when I'm 55" category. While creaky has-beens like the Rolling Stones (who look like a set of leather muppets at this point) routinely get "Way to keep rockin' into old age!" plaudits from the media for doing little more than standing on stage and plowing through their back catalog of bar band dreck, here you can watch a silver-haired Nomeansno rock the hell out of their finest song from their finest album.

    And while we're on the subject of rocking one's retirement years, Excellent Italian Greyhound is almost here! Look at that fucking cover art! Look at that fucking track list! They've been opening sets with "The End of Radio" (Can you hear me now? Is this thing on?) for two years now, and "Spoke" has been a live staple since Clinton's first term (introduced with a long, meandering story which ends with someone telling Todd Trainer to play the drums!).

    What has two thumbs and is excited? This guyyyyyyyyy.

    HOW TO BE IN A BAND

    Posted in Rants on March 21st, 2007 by Ed

    I am by no means an "expert" on this subject. By no means at all. Not even close. My experience consists of a couple years in wholly insignificant bands. Nonetheless, it underscores my point to show that despite my significant inexperience I have still fully grasped these crucial, basic points. You should too.

    If you are in an aspiring band or are simply an aspiring youngster looking to get in the game, the following list should be read and followed exhaustively. Do not pick-and-choose certain points to follow while disregarding others. Trust me, you will benefit in the long run by taking these points to heart. Ready? A pencil and scratch paper may come in handy.

    1. Buy some fucking gear. If you are a guitarist, this means purchasing a "guitar" and "strings." In most instances, you will need to run your guitar through an "amp" (conversely known as a "head") and "cabinet" or other loudspeaker. Drummers should invest in a "drum set" complete with cymbals and all stands necessary to support said equipment. While you may think it is cute/thrifty/etc to constantly borrow gear from other bands with whom you will play, I cannot disabuse you of this notion strongly enough. Drum heads wear out. Guitar strings break. Cymbals crack. Speakers blow. Tubes burn out. In other words, using other people's equipment costs them money. This will make the lender of said gear angry with you. He or she will most likely lend you whatever you need but also resent you, think you are a dick, and probably never want to deal with your band again. Now if you lose or break a piece of your own gear and ask to borrow a replacement in an emergency, that is acceptable. Showing up at a performance with nothing and expecting to mooch off of other bands is not. If you do this regularly, I (and everyone who has ever shared a bill with you) hope you contract something that makes it burn when you pee.

    2. Re-read the preceeding point thoroughly. Ensure comprehension before moving on. Do you A) have gear appropriate to your role or B) understand the urgency of acquiring it post-haste? Good. I don't care if you're poor. You can still afford cheap gear. McLusky sold a hundred thousand albums on $99 Squires. Shitty gear > no gear.

    3. Obtain the use of a vehicle large enough to move said gear. The average band is 3 to 5 individuals. Combined, you can go in on a $500 used van. Trust me. You can. It is amazing how much a small amount of maintenance and knowledge can keep a shitbox running. America is laden with Chevy Astrovans – the automotive equivalent of Terri Schiavo. Nothing on a 1993 Astrovan will work, but the motherfucker simply will not die.

    4. You do not need a sound-check. Sound-checks are nice. If you can get one, great. Do not, however, demand one and/or inconvenience anyone else to get one. Petulantly demanding a sound check makes you look like a pompous, self-aggrandizing twat. You are not Spinal Tap and you are not playing Madison Square Garden. You are probably playing a bar with a regular sound guy who knows the place pretty well. Shut up and let him take care of it. If you find the stage sound to be intolerable, politely ask after your first song if he can make an adjustment or two. Unless you royally pissed him off by demanding a sound-check, he'll probably be happy to accomodate you.

    5. Unless you are headlining, quite popular, or specifically asked to do so, don't play for a fucking hour. For 99% of the local/independent/garage bands in the world, 30 minutes (tops) will do just fine. Don't show up in a town where no one has ever heard of you, play first on a 4-band bill, and play for an hour. The other bands will hate you. HATE. The paying audience will get bored and wander off. This will make the other bands' hate increase exponentially. You will also cut into the other bands' time and possibly even push one off the bill. Unless you have specific and justifiable reasons to think anyone in the venue actually gives a shit about you, 10 songs or ~30 minutes is plenty. Even people who like your sound are probably just patiently waiting for the other bands on the bill. Get over it.

    6. Get your metaphorical shit together. Nothing – save for watching Ann Coulter take a runny, corn-laden dump – could possibly be more unappealing than bands who take 3 minutes between every pair of songs in the set, filling said minutes with tuning, random fiddling/noodling, and rhetorical gems like "You ready? Ready?" and "How does this one go? I forgot how we start this one." And who can forget that old chestnut, "What should we play next?" Compile a list of songs in an appropriate sequence (industry lingo calls this a "set") and play it in 3 or 4 song bursts with little to no pause inbetween. Mixing less physically-demanding songs with harder ones will help your stamina. So will practicing, dumbass. If you find that you just need a break after every song, put down the goddamn Creamy Ranch flavored Bugles and get your ass in some minimal semblance of shape. If an ancient, bloated manatee like Frank Black can do it, so can you.

    7. Tip the damn bartender and be nice to the local bands. The bartender will make sure you get taken care of financially and the local bands – provided they don't think you're total dicks – will save you a ton of money and offer you a place to crash. Don't blow it by going on an extended soliloquy about how much they suck, even if they do very badly suck.

    These seven steps are not steps to superstardom. They are seven steps to everyone not thinking you are a complete asshole. Follow them.

    AMERICAN INGENUITY

    Posted in Rants on March 20th, 2007 by Ed

    While Mike and Erik are (presumably) in South Padre celebrating Spring Break 2007 and I am just back from TremFu Tourgasm 2007, today's entry is intended to tide you over until a more substantial rant can satisfy you tomorrow.

    This might not be funny to you and it is definitely retarded beyond description. But there's something uniquely American about an approach to problem-solving that includes the phrase "Let's pour 1.5 quarts of paint thinner onto the flaming barbeque pit."

    Morning Relief.

    Posted in Uncategorized on March 15th, 2007 by Mike

    We try not to endorse products, or give away any secrets that give us an edge in life (we need all the edges we can get), but I'll let you in on the big news: Alka-Seltzer Morning Relief. Seriously.

    Last night, as a result of a complicated series of events, I ended up drinking a bottle of (cheap, bad) white wine, a fair amount of Old Style, and shots of warm rail gin. This is a bad way to go about drinking. As you can imagine, I woke up with a headache. The type of headache that can only be described in Biblical terms. I still had one more day of class before break, so I hit the Morning Relief and started my day. Within 30 minutes my headache was gone, and I was a functioning member of society once again.

    The way it works: it harnesses a natural, healthy way to repair the body – soluble caffeine and aspirin. Now I know what you are thinking: "Mike, I've been taking an aspirin and coffee in the morning for years to deal with hangovers." Fine and good. However, when dissolved in cold water, there is no irritation on the stomach (compared to coffee at least), and the aspirin kicks in right away. This has been optimally engineered to fight hangovers, and my god have the scientists won this battle.

    The webpage is entertaining and a good read. Erik has pointed out how the box reads "Headaches / Fatigue / Hangover Symptoms"; the marketers are thinking that if you didn't get it on the first two tries, we'll just tell you this products' purpose. You won't find it at the drugstore; apparently it was the worst selling Alka-Seltzer brand ever. You can order it online, and I encourage you to do so.

    If you aren't sold on it yet – three last facts. (1) "Morning relieved" has become a phrase used around my apartment. (2) When I first used it I was so surprised I wanted to Stress Test it, so Erik and I purposely got ourselves drunk in a way to induce hangovers, and we couldn't not feel great after taking the Morning Relief. (3) While packing for a trip to Mardi Gras, the first thing put in the bag was two boxes of Morning Relief. And it was triple-checked before leaving to make sure it was there.

    COMING SOON (TO A CITY NEAR YOU)

    Posted in Rants on March 9th, 2007 by Ed

    The mighty TremFu is hitting the road in its big blue church van over spring break, and we will be appearing in the following cities / dates / venues. If any of these happen to be reasonably proximate to you the reader, I'd be thrilled if you came out to say hello and enjoy the rocking. Look for the tall, relatively angry drummer. That would be me. Then say hello. It's easy!

    Saturday, March 10 – Pittsburgh, PA – Smiling Moose, 10 pm
    Tuesday, March 13 – NYC (Manhattan lower east side) – The Annex, 8 PM
    Wednesday, March 14 – Westchester (SUNY Purchase) – Purchase Co-op, 8 pm
    Thursday, March 15 – Morgantown (West Virginia Univ) – 1-2-3 Pleasant, 10 pm
    Friday, March 16 – Athens, OH (Ohio Univ) – The Union (the pub, not the Student Union), 9 pm
    Saturday, March 17 – Homecoming show at Fester's in Bloomington, come celebrate SAINT PATTY'S (drinking) DAY with us and The Sods, a Celtic punk band from Ft. Wayne.

    Good times. Good times. No sleep, but good times.