Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Best and Worst Speakeasies in Los Angeles

Before I continue with today's regularly scheduled post, I would like to take a moment to talk about yesterday's nightmarish experience.

It started when I came home to find our front door wide open. Our experience with Jonathan was a real wake-up call, and Andrew and I agreed to begin locking the door. (We never bothered to previously because of the dog, but since the dog knows Jonathan and not much about betrayal, we decided it was time to trust in something more... inanimate.)

Puzzled, I stuck my head in and called out, “Andrew?”

That's when I noticed the dogs weren't there. He must have taken them on a walk, I reasoned. But no—there were their leads, hung over the hook on the back of the door.
Also the hook looked like this so I knew something was up.

Suddenly chilled, I realised Andrew wouldn't be home at this time (about 3 pm). Being blonde and having lots of horror films, and having already broken the cardinal rule about entering a seemingly abandoned house after calling out “hello,” I decided I needed to nut up. Grabbing the baseball bat next to the shoe rack, I began a circuit of the house: dining room, living room, kitchen, utility room, bathroom, and finally bedroom. 

Like all blonde girls exploring haunted/invaded houses with baseball bats, 
I first stripped down to my underwear.

When I opened the bedroom I was immediately attacked... by Seamus.

Pictured here being too cool to guard the goddamn house.

Relief flooded through me, followed my confusion.

The dogs hadn't escaped because they'd been locked in the bedroom, but the front door was wide open. What the hell?

I checked to make sure our valuables were accounted for, and they were. Even more flabbergast, I called Andrew and told him to come over because I was pretty sure someone had entered our house.

He arrived remarkably quickly, confirmed that he'd left the door unlocked like an idiot but had most certainly not locked the dogs into the bedroom, and went through the circuit again with me.

We found one single thing different than we'd left it, other than the doors:

The toilet was clogged.

I was going to put a funny caption here, but I don't think I need to.  What the hell is she smiling about?  I bet this is the same psycho bitch who came into my house and clogged my john.

That's right. Leaving our front door unlocked in South Central, we had a vagrant wander into the house, casually put the dogs into the bedroom (presumably so they wouldn't bother him/her), and use the toilet.

So. Creeped. Out.

We considered calling the police, but since nothing was taken, we opted out. Our current top theories are:
  1. Some sort of service technician (a Comcast guy, maybe) came over, used the toilet, looked around for the telly, realised he was in the wrong house, and left in a panicked hurry.
  2. A drug user, older person with dementia, child, or other person of compromised mental health came in to use the toilet and forgot to close the door when they left.
  3. A person stopping by another person's house, perhaps answering a Craigslist ad, came over, waited, and when they realised they had the wrong address, bailed.
  4. Andrew forgot to let the dogs out of the bedroom and to lock the door. The wind blew the door open, no one entered, and it was happy coincidence that the dogs didn't escape. This doesn't explain the clogged toilet, though it should be noticed that our toilet is so shitty that it clogs if you even mention burritos to it.
In any case, it was frightening, and we're EXCEPTIONALLY lucky that nothing was stolen and the dogs are okay. I hope it was also a wake-up call for Andrew. (I said, not bluffing, if anything like this ever happens again, I am moving out. I can't live in a home that's unsafe for me or the pooches.)

Also I think this is a typical weird Los Angeles story. (Stoner Takes Dump and Nothing Else.) (Hobos Find House Wide Open, Give a Shit.) (Crap Not Worth Taking, But Crap Taken.)  

(I could just keep going, but I won't.) 

Los Angeles is a pretty weird city in a lot of ways. For example, neighbourhoods merge into each other in a weird tapestry of interwoven socioeconomic levels. It's not uncommon to take a wrong turn and end up on the set of Game of Thrones, or a meth lab, or both. You have to take the 10 to get just about anywhere, and everyone calls it The Ten instead of I-10, and it's one of the few real divides in the city; below the 10 is clearly poorer than north of it. Getting on a bus you see divas and druggies, hipstas and gangstas, and getting off it you are almost guaranteed to trip over a chihuahua in a sweater, unless their owner is holding him in a BabyBjorn.

But perhaps one of the strangest things (for me) is the ridiculous accessibility of liquour.

Now, maybe I'm biased, having spent the last six years in the middle of Pennsylvania.

But here, you can get booze at liquour stores, grocery stores, markets, convenience stores, book stores, gas stations, barbershops, thrift stores, and probably Toys R Us for all I know. And it's not like they don't have bars; Los Angeles is practically swimming in them, pun intended.

One of the big “themes” around here is the speakeasy. A lot of bars are themed like 1920s speakeasies, complete with a douchey bartender in a waistcoat and cummerbund on his arm. Personally I sort of like the vibe, but after four months I have found that some bars more than others pull it off.

And so, for your consideration, here are some noteworthy speakeasies, both famous and infamous:

The Speakeasies of Los Angeles

Best Speakeasy: 
R Bar

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

The R Bar is a corner bar situated in Korea Town, and so far I have never been disappointed. You need a password to get in and once inside you'll find the atmosphere to be perfect. There are nooks with comfortable couches, low lighting, and curious decorations that have a geek chic sort of feel without being too overbearing. The food and drinks are all reasonably priced and fantastic. Sometimes the music is too loud, but the areas in the back are quieter and very comfortable. This bar is never empty but rarely packed. Last time we went, “The Big Lebowski” was playing on the television. Drink specials change daily and always have inexplicably nautical names like “Siren's Call” and “Jolly Roger.” Their bartenders are really down-to-earth. Ask for Dan; he makes a pizza shot with basil vodka that literally tastes like pizza. There is no parking. This is probably one of the only cons.

Most Historically Accurate Speakeasy: 

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Varnish is a bar downtown located in the back of a restaurant called Cole's, which also has a bar. Varnish is a tiny one-room bar entered through an unmarked door that strives to be accurate in its appearance as a 1920s speakeasy. The bartenders are in costume and there's usually someone playing a jaunty tune on the piano. Their drinks are limited and take forever to craft, but are very well done. They're expensive but worth trying. Seating is very hard to come by and it's often crowded. There's also usually at least one jerk wearing a fedora in the crowd. Parking is on the street, but not hard to find. If you have time and money and don't mind waiting and standing for a table (or waiting for your drink), I would actually recommend this place. I think it says a lot that the atmosphere is so cool I was willing to wait for $13 drinks. Also, despite being expensive, you get your money's worth: the drinks are LOADED and taste great.

Least Historically Accurate Speakeasy, but Great Hole-in-the-Wall Dive Bar: 
The Living Room

 Pictured: The exact opposite of what it's actually like.

Overall rating: 2 ½ Stars

I'm not even sure if the Living Room is a speakeasy. Located on Crenshaw Blvd. below the 10, The Living Room is a small dive bar. You need to buzz in to get in and it's easy to miss. Once inside, it's often crowded (but rarely packed). There is always live music, mostly jazz and blues. The people are fun and friendly. My bartender's name was Summer and she was the nicest person I ever met. I went back and she was there hanging out, but not working, and she actually made me a drink when I had trouble ordering. The bartenders are just super accommodating like that and will make just about anything. Everything is good and affordable, and more than anything, the bartenders here are outstanding. If you're on a budget but want a place with music and atmosphere, this is probably your best bet.

Worst Speakeasy: 

Over-all rating: 1 ½ Stars
(Because Ernie the bouncer was nice. He was the coolest guy we met all evening.)

So I went to Villains earlier in the week and here was my experience. First let me state the pros: they have a parking lot. Now let me state the cons: everything. The atmosphere is great if you can get past all the hipsters. This bar is struggling very, very hard to be cool. The front is just open and everyone's smoking, which I hated. When I went to order, I asked for a couple standard drinks (like a Bloody Mary, Dirty Martini, et cetera) and was told they didn't have any of them. They said they didn't make liqueur drinks. (You might notice that a Bloody Mary is a vodka drink.) When I asked for a suggestion, I was handed a menu of 6 mixed drinks, ranging in price for $13-20. I asked for one and was told they didn't have the right ingredient for it. (The drink was a peach something or other and they didn't have the peaches.) Look, assholes, if you're only going to have SIX drinks, you could at the very least ensure you are stocked with the right ingredients. We were told the prices were expensive because all the ingredients were high-quality and natural. Apparently, the reason my peach drink couldn't be made was the orchard hadn't been planted yet. That's how fresh their over-priced crap is. Did I mention they serve it in Mason jars? For $20, I expect anything other than a fucking jar. That's not “hip.” That's tacky. So I asked about wine and found that their least expensive wine was $18. You know the difference between an $18 bottle of wine and a $5 bottle of wine? $13. A fucking PBR was like five dollars. This place was so insanely expensive and the bartenders were adamant about refusing to make recommendations, offer suggestions, or deviate even slightly from their 6-item (de facto 5-item) menu. When I finally ordered a different drink, the bartender mixed it and then tried it with a straw. Listen, asshole, you're not a mixologist if you can only do five drinks. And if you can only mix five drinks then you damn well better be able to mix it without tasting it. You should be able to get into a car accident and have irreversible brain damage and still mix a weak drink in a Mason jar if you have only 5 choices and make hundreds of them a night. I had two drinks, both of which were disappointing, and a side of chick peas, which were decent. Our bill was $50. There was no music, but it was loud because of the hipsters playing Jenga and Connect Four, which Villains has enormous novelty versions of so that you can be even more of a dickhead there. This bar is clearly meant for upper middle-class university twats who recently turned 21, are spending their parents' money, and are studying liberal arts.

 Pictured: Tries too hard.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Pros of Being Conned

So remember how I've mentioned, in passing, the couchsurfer who was staying with us?

I believe I mentioned there was absolutely no way in which it could go wrong.

Well, hold on to your cowboy hats, because he will steal them if you don't. Seriously. Because apparently he's a con artist and attempted to rip us off in a manner that makes him eligible for one of those Dumbest Criminal stories you hear on the radio sometimes.

Let me back up and remind you that Jonathan stayed with us for a total of four weeks (yes, a month), which you might recognise as a length of time much greater than a weekend. But he was unobtrusive and most of his shittier traits were forgivable ones. In fact, there were really only three downsides to his personality: he was a braggart, he didn't brush his teeth, and he loved insulting people but refused to take insults.  (You know the type.  They're really crass and in-your-face but get butthurt if you try to exchange teasing.  They're the kid in elementary school who was sort of chubby and a total tattletale.)

The first one was really, really noticeable, by the way: among other things, he was rich, he did sound editing for the Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, he was one of the founders of Woot.com, he does charity work in Africa, he was in the British special forces, his uncle was the comedian Jim Jeffries, he's close personal friends with Dane Cook, he holds a Guinness World Record, et cetera. 

He lives vicariously... through himself.  On every continent in the world, there is a sandwich named after him. His hands feel like rich brown suede.  And so on.  And so forth.

 The thing is, though his claims were far-fetched, we still trusted that he was a decent guy. I mean, if you're in a bar and someone ends a story with “...and the the prostitute paid me!” you don't call them out on it even though you know it's bull. You cheer them and give them a high-five because that's how some stories are, and it seemed to me like Jonathan was a sad, down-on-his-luck sort of guy who spent weeks with strangers because he didn't seem to have friends or anywhere to go or do. So we just chalked his tall tales up to low self-esteem and a misguided way to try to impress us and connect with us, and we let it go.

And I guess at the end of the day I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt, at least in my words and actions, even if I think they're full of shit.

Now we get to the crazy part.

Remember, hats.  Hold on to them.

So a week before he left, Andrew tactfully told him we'd like him to stay “one more week,” meaning we expected him to leave on Monday. Well, Jonathan agreed, and Andrew and I were surprised to discover that we were feeling intense relief—Jonathan had overstayed his welcome and we hadn't noticed, but now that we had a date of departure, we were pretty excited.

Monday rolled around and we asked Jonathan if he needed a ride anywhere, to which he replied that he wasn't leaving until Tuesday. Figuring one more day wouldn't matter, we shrugged and gritted our teeth and said okay.

Tuesday rolled around and Jonathan said he couldn't leave until Wednesday. This time, it was not okay. For one thing, we had another surfer coming on Wednesday and I wanted at least 24 hours to get the house in order. So we compromised and said Jonathan could stay on Jack's couch. Jack lives a short ways south of us in a five-bedroom home occupied by a bunch of college-aged tools.

Jonathan departed, and Andrew and I went out to celebrate at a bar. We didn't want to admit it because it made us sound like jerks, but we were so glad to get rid of him, because there's only so many “light-hearted” insults you can take, coupled with increasingly bizarre bragging.

When we got home, however...

"Boy, am I glad to see you guys.  We're out of toilet paper."

...Jonathan was lying in the bed.

He explained that Jack's house was far too busy with people coming and going, and he couldn't sleep, and he would leave Wednesday. Since it was after midnight, we were too tired to care and went to bed. The next morning I woke up, looked out the door, and saw my car parked on the wrong side of the street.

It's worth mentioning here that Jonathan had become increasingly entitled the longer he stayed, and especially the last week was inclined to help himself to pretty much anything in the house.

Jonathan had taken my car, sans permission, to enter our home, uninvited, after leaving late to begin with after we'd made it clear we needed him to leave.

And he'd parked it on the wrong side of the street.

In a panic, I called Andrew to get my car keys, since the car didn't appear to be ticketed yet. Then I realised Jonathan was the one who would have the keys. I woke him and he told me he'd already moved the car.

Looking out the window, though, the car was parked on the wrong side of the street. “Are you sure?” I asked doubtfully.

“No, I'm not sure, I must've moved some other car!” he sneered sarcastically. “Yeah, I moved the damn car, what kind of stupid question is that?”

I drove him to Union Station, feeling miffed but also relieved. When I got home and reached into the glove box to get the parking pass, however, I found...

...Jesus, whom I promptly accepted as my personal Lord and Saviour.

...a parking ticket.

Flabbergast, I checked the date and time. It was from that day. That morning. Jonathan had gotten a parking ticket, hid it, and lied to me about it. More than any other thing, he'd bragged about his unflagging honesty, and he had lied right to my face, and been rude about it.

Furious, I told Andrew and Jack my story, to which Jack replied, “I can't believe that! Jonathan was so generous! I mean, remember how he took my computer to the repair shop and offered to pay—oh my God, he stole my computer!

See, right before he left, he took a computer that Jack's mother had sent him which vague promises of getting it an upgrade. Jack had taken ill when Jonathan had taken his property, so he never really protested much, assuming it would be returned or accounted for before Jonathan's departure.

Now it gets even better: a day or two later we discovered Andrew's account had been overdrawn because Jonathan had not only taken the computer but Andrew's chequebook, and he'd written out several fake, personal checks for hundreds of dollars, signing them with Andrew's signature.

“But wait, Julie,” protests the reader. “How is Jonathan the dumb one here? Sounds to me like you and Andrew got conned.”

Ah-ha. It does initially sound that way, doesn't it? I suppose it was “stupid” of us to trust someone who had been living with us for four weeks. Honestly, after you open your home to someone, you don't expect that sort of shit, particularly after he'd gotten to know us, particularly considering how generous we'd been. But alright, I can see your point. Perhaps we were stupid. So why do I accuse Jonathan of being the stupid one?

But let's see what happened:

The cheques, obviously forged, were refunded to us, along with the overage charges. So we lost no money. However, we now have print evidence of Jonathan's crime. Cheque forgery is a felony unless I'm mistaken, and the bozo left a paper trail of what he did. Strike one.

The computer was easily located. Unable to turn off either his incessant bragging or his pathological lying, Jonathan loved to talk about being a big Mac user, and he told us about all his great connections and all the Mac stores he liked. So we called one of the stores he'd mentioned, read them the serial number of the computer he'd taken, and retrieved it at no cost to us. It is worth noting here that he sold the computer for less than $300, and allowed them to take a fingerprint, which is standard procedure for many pawn and computer resale stores. Yes, that's right: he used his real name and allowed them to take a fingerprint. Strike two.

And now, ladies and gentleman, you see that Jack, Andrew, and I (to say nothing of the owner of the Mac store, who got ripped off of a couple hundred bucks) all got to file police reports, complete with evidence, fingerprints, photographs, and even the guy's real name.

Protip: If you're going to be a con artist, for crying out loud, be better at it.

The only thing we really lost was the $73 from the parking ticket, which we paid without any problem. We went out on a nice date that night, bought a pizza with truffles, and fucked like weasels when we came home. 

 Not so cute now, are they?  Little perverts.

Meanwhile, somewhere out there, Jonathan, a fat, balding 30-something-yr-old with the most horrific breath imaginable is sleeping on couches, struggling to buy cereal, and willing to go to federal prison for a couple hundred dollars. So you see now why I think he's sort of sad. As Andrew put it, our feelings at this point are “a mixture of pity and disgust.” Who wants to live their life like that: without honour, friends, or even a damn place to hang their hat?

See how I brought it all back to hats again?

In case you are wondering, our second couchsurfer stayed only the weekend, was gracious and fun, super polite, and we missed her when she went. She was a breath of fresh air after Jonathan, in some ways literally. But we agreed we're going on a couchsurfing hiatus for the forseeable future.

In other news I've worked my job all week and had loads of fun, and I get my first paycheck this Wednesday. Another thing Jonathan will never appreciate: the value of hard work and the luxury of consistent income.

Coming next post: The Best and Worst Speakeasies in Los Angeles, and more updates from work!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Drama at Ford Theatre, and Elsewhere ("Somebody shoot me!")

I don't recall if it was last post or the post before that, or maybe a dream I had on cough syrup, but I vaguely recall stately a strong aversion to drama.

Which is why I'm pretty irritated about a couple of things:
  1. Brandon.
  2. Jenny.
  3. The dramatic Oscar-winning film "Lincoln."
To be fair, one of those three things I should have expected drama from.  But I'm still irritated by it.  So here's what's going on with each of these things, in order:

First, Brandon.  He invited Andrew and I out to a comedy show last Tuesday.  After the show a girl started talking to him and Andrew.  No idea who she was or why I was being ignored (maybe she didn't realise I was with them), but I assumed Brandon knew her somehow, so I asked, "Who's this girl?"

So uncalled for.

Apparently, according to Brandon, I said it with a snotty attitude, or maybe I had a facial expression he didn't like.

I made this face then spat at her and called her a racial slur.  
I mean, I didn't do it out loud, but Brandon knew that's what I meant.

Anyway, whatever I did, he decided it was SO FUCKING RUDE that he would teach me a lesson by not talking to me all evening.  So Andrew (Cap'n Oblivious) decided us four should go out for coffee, where I, picking up on Brandon's inexplicable cold shoulder, decided to start ribbing him mercilessly.  Maybe it wouldn't have been a big deal if we hadn't all gone out, but Brandon was doing his best to infuriate me, and it worked.

The night ended (thankfully) and the next day Brandon called me to yell at me for 45 minutes (checked the time on my phone).  His tirade was mostly about how I was a rude bitch and we weren't friends anymore and he just sort of repeated that endlessly, but got stuck in a loop where he had to keep going and going.  And no, he did not understand the irony of calling someone to shout obscenities at them for "being rude."  And no, he also did not understand the irony of giving someone the cold shoulder over a misunderstanding and then calling them rude.  In short, he was a hugely hypocritical ass, and at first I was really apologetic because I had no idea he felt so strongly about this.  I apologised and I let him vent and reacted fine, but afterwards thought about it, and I realised something important.


I realised that if he's going to be someone who 1) can't communicate conflicts maturely either while they're happening, or afterward, 2) holds our friendship hostage and threatens to disavow me, or 3) only wants to be friends assuming we never, ever fight and only have fun and he never has to deal with any sort of problem... then frankly he's not much of a friend at all.  Also, who the fuck gets that insanely petty and passive-aggressive over three words?  Remember, the three words were "Who's that girl?"  They weren't "Who's this cunt?" or "I feel niggertastic!"  My question was a genuine panicky response from someone with social anxiety who is scared of meeting a new person and is scared of being left out of the group.  I would argue they were justified and if Brandon thought I was being rude he should have just said so.

I feel bad because Brandon's a cool guy and I like him, but seeing him like that was a little much.  Also the last three or four times we've hung out he really just wanted to hit on girls, except for the one time he lectured me about not letting men touch me for like thirty minutes.

Starting to think his badge is a fake and he's not even a real boob inspector.

So he's also a sexist.  Even if I can keep my stupid mouth-hole shut, then he's pissy about something I am or am not doing with my body.  What the fuck? I don't know if I mentioned that.  Yeah.  Sort of a problem.   I mean, I didn't call him the next day and flip out.  You know why?

Anyway, I feel like we're on neutral terms and although I can't say I consider him a friend I don't hold any real animosity toward him so whatever.  I guess that's the best you can hope for when someone loses their shit.

And speaking of losing one's shit, our second problem, Jenny, is really fucking things up for me as well.  Andrew and I have been best friends for years, on-and-off with benefits, flatmates for three months, but we only started dating a couple weeks ago and during that time I have (for Andrew's sake) gone out of my way not to offend Jenny.  Is Jenny hanging out with us?  Then I can't touch Andrew.  Is Jenny on FaceBook?  Then don't post any cute pictures of us.  Essentially I haven't been allowed to do anything that might upset Jenny.

All my FaceBook pictures with him look like this.

Well, Andrew decided (for my sake) to break the news to Jenny, since it isn't fair to any of us to keep this a secret.  And Jenny, displaying all the maturity of a normal, emotionally well 30-yr-old, proceeded to lose her shit and accuse Andrew of cheating.  But not, like, literally.  Cheating in the sense of having an emotional affair with me and being mentally unloyal to her.

Oh my God.  Really, Jenny?  Really?  Look, you dated Andrew for five months, after asking him out TWICE.  And he said no the first time because he just wasn't that into you and, at the time, him and I had a slightly sexual relationship.  But when he said yes eventually, he and I stopped everything.  No more phone sex, no more raunchy jokes, no more linking each other to funny '80s pornography.  Nothing.  Nada.  We were like virgin Mormons growing up in the 1950s.  What's more, she stole away my best friend.  No more calling him on Friday or Saturday nights because I might bother him and Jenny.  Just me, sitting at home, wondering when and if he'd ever come back, and agonising over our friendship.  I went out of my damned way to respect their relationship.  And Jenny is repaying it by immediately crapping all over our relationship.

(They broke up 8 months ago.)

She doesn't like me, I get it.  I'm sorry you're a jealous bitch but seriously?  Get over it.  Maybe Andrew actually likes me and that's why we're dating.  This sort of petty feminine bullshit is why people like Brandon don't respect us.  Andrew and I have been tip-toeing around Jenny's feelings at the expense of mine, and this is frankly none of her business.

Also, the fuck is "emotional" cheating?

Jenny eased open the hotel room door and covered her mouth in horror.  Sitting cross-legged on the bed, the phone cradled against his shoulder, Andrew was listening intently to his friend's problems.

"You... you monster!" she cried.

Dropping the phone, Andrew's head ripped around.  His face told her everything she needed to know: his guilt was written clearly upon it.

"No!  Jenny!" he protested.  "This... this isn't what it looks like!"

"It is!" she sobbed.  "You're... you're comforting another woman.  How could you?"

So, yeah, this whole thing is pathetic and disgusting and she's being a jerk to Andrew by not respecting our relationship and by accusing him of being a bad person when so far he's gone so far out of his way to protect her stupid ass that he's halfway to Narnia.  Up until this point, Jenny has been the most boring, neutral, shallow person I've ever known and it's weird to see her display emotion.  I feel almost bad for her, but she's being so out of line it's hard to sympathise with what it likely a very difficult time.

Jenny is like Fluttershy if Fluttershy were a cold, envious drama-monger instead of a multicoloured pony.

There shouldn't even be a conflict here.  She's a friend to Andrew.  She's not dating him.  I'm sorry she got hurt and that she was more into him than he was into her, but this isn't primary school.  Once you break up with someone they're sort of allowed to do whatever (whoever) the fuck they want!  Her putting Andrew in this position and trying to sabotage our fledgling relationship by holding herself emotionally hostage is not just immature and petty but it's also manipulative.  I hope she goes the fuck away and stops calling Andrew to complain about... I have no idea.  How shitty it is that two people who aren't her are happy together, I guess.

Jenny's Oscar-worthy emotional breakdown over shit that doesn't concern her is almost as revolting to me as the movie "Lincoln," which I saw last night against my will and loathed.  It was clearly a circle-jerk of writers and actors hoping to get an Oscar.  The only way they could have been more obvious is if Lincoln had helped a wounded Civil War solider put together a ragtag baseball team and try to win the championship cup to boost morale and also so that the solider's retarded son would respect him.  And also the solider's name is Oscar.  And also it's the Holocaust.

Among the things I hated most were:
  1. The complete deification of Lincoln.
  2. The way in which anyone who voted against the 13th amendment was portrayed as a generic bigoted bad guy when I assume back then the issue was a lot more complex and there were some serious economic concerns.
  3. The way they showed voting.  They were like, "Time to vote on the amendment."  And then they showed everyone voting no.  As if to raise the tension.  As if we, at home, sitting on our couch and watching the movie, were like: "Oh my God this is so dramatic.  I don't think it's gonna pass.  Should we call Tyrone and warn him?"
  4. How everyone just resorted to clever quips and anecdotes and no one said anything of consequence to anyone else.
  5. How Lincoln kept creepily touching everyone.
This movie was well-made but it was the sort of thing that you might watch in a history class.  I kept waiting for the bell to ring so I could leave but instead I had to sit through the whole thing, all the while thinking that it would have been way better if Lincoln had been hunting vampires or trying to pass a kidney stone.  (Just as forced and dramatic!)

Also at the end we learn that Tommy Lee Jones is in love with a black person and that's part of why he's been so vehemently pro-abolition, and I think they missed a huge opportunity to cast Will Smith as the black woman, since those two already have great chemistry from the Men in Black movies they did together.

 So many missed opportunities.

In conclusion, if you like history and politics, this movie combines all the desperation of a hobo pleading for change (only it's a director, pleading for awards) with the excitement of C-SPAN (assuming that your friend has actually spoiled the ending to the session of C-SPAN that you are viewing).  Mind you, I didn't hate it.  I just found it boring.  So I give it two solid thumbs meh, which is at least much higher than either Brandon or Jenny at the present time.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Roller Coasters: Less Dangerous than the Floor

Well, it took almost 300 applications and 3 months, but I got a job! It was the one I mentioned, at USC. It mostly involves taking care of mice; it pays solidly, pushing me up 2 whole tax brackets, and there are benefits: dental, optometry, and of course medical. So I'm pretty excited. I start work on the 11th. My supervisor Montano is a really cool, suave, personable guy who I actually like talking to, which is a great start, and the scrubs I have to wear make me look thinner than I am, which is also a pretty solid omen. I spent yesterday signing all the new employee paperwork so they're officially stuck with me. Suck it, economy! I have a job again!

Entitling me to once again be an insensitive jerk. Get a job, hippies!

As far as budgeting goes, I will be able to pay back all my loans within a year or so. Even taking out loans for the vet tech program, I'll be debt-free by age 27 or 28, which isn't terrible, considering that some people pay them off well into their thirties.  I wish I could do it faster, though.  I hate being in debt.

Jonathan is still with us and I'm officially starting to look forward to getting my house back. He's a cool guy but socialising in general takes me out of my comfort zone and I'd like to be able to wander around in the kitchen naked whenever my self-esteem gets low, à la Liz Lemon. Jonathan is overall a decent houseguest who cooks, does dishes, and doesn't at all make a nuisance of himself. If we had a proper spare bedroom I wouldn't mind if he stayed indefinitely; part of the problem is that our house is only one bedroom and the “spare bed” happens to be in the living room.
He didn't even complain about the raccoon nest.

Jonathan took us to 6 Flags by way of being nice and put me on a roller coaster called “Goliath.” (Go ahead and look it up.  I'll wait.)

This was great because:

  1. Everyone got to see me have a panic attack.
  1. I learned what fear feels like.

I ended up making an enormous ass of myself. Turns out I really don't like roller coasts. I also got suckered into going on one called Colossus in the hope that my terror on Goliath was just a mistake. Turns out I don't make mistakes and my phobia was 100% legit. Jonathan was pretty cool about it, considering that he'd taken us there to have fun and I spent most of my time weeping inconsolably.

Other than that I suppose I don't have much to report. Oh, one thing. Two days ago, I joined the exclusive club of people who have seen their own skull.

 The club has really strict dress-code rules, which is why Skeletor still hasn't been allowed to join.

It was about midnight, Andrew and I were hanging out, and I fell out of bed.  Fortunately I managed to break the fall with my face. 

I was wearing an outfit similar to this at the time but that's not actually relevant to the story
that's just a standard Monday night for us.

“Are you okay?” asked Andrew.

“I think so,” I said, because I didn't yet realise my skull was attempting to escape my head, probably because of the massive head injury I'd just gotten. 

He gave me a look of horror, and that's when I noticed blood was dripping from my head and streaming down my face.

Inexplicably, I managed to slice (yes, that is the best possible verb for it, although “lacerate” is a close second) open my face, just above my left eye, on a completely clear, blunt floor. How one gets a cut from blunt trauma is beyond me. The cut looks like a knife wound, and here's the best part: it goes all the way down to the bone. I confirmed this by doing what all doctors say you should do when you receive a deep cut: peel back the two parts of the cut and check that sucker out so that you can brag about seeing your skull later.

We taped it shut because my benefits don't officially activate until May. I'll probably have a wicked cool scar. The weirdest part is that it didn't really particularly hurt. My head has been throbby, but it's not even quite as bad as a migraine. I took one Tylenol yesterday and that was it.  Personally I think evolution must have goofed up if you can crack open your head like an Easter egg and not even notice, but one of my FaceBook friends offered up this explanation:

"If your head is opened up chances are you know (helps when blood is literally flowing into your eyes!), and rather than nagging you with pain, evolution keeps your head clear so you can get away from whatever just ripped your head open."

Speaking of Easter eggs, by the way... for this year's Easter, we built the rabbit a hutch using an old television stand. The cage is on top of the little cabinet, but there's a hole in the bottom and a ramp going down into the cabinet.  It looks like the cage is just resting on top of the stand but it's actually all one piece of furniture now.  Watching the rabbit materialise from seemingly nowhere is fun if you're poor and easily amused (which we are!)

No word from the neighbours, though I'm sure they're pissed about my getting a head injury at midnight. (“She's always BANGING AROUND over there, getting MILD CONCUSSIONS, without even considering that we're trying to SLEEP. So rude.”)

"Now she's screaming in the bathroom!  Now she's growling loudly and there's lots of crunching!  

Today is the last day of my house-sitting for our neighbour, Elizabeth. She has a cool house from 1906 and is one of those people who composts and has a subscription to Scientific American. I hope to be like her someday: first of all, cool. Second of all, hot. Third, a home owner with a koi pond. Not to mention how friendly she is. She told me she's scared of roller coasters, too, so maybe there's something (positive) to be said about people who have that particular aversion.