Wednesday, August 27, 2008

b.i.n.g.NO: part 1

This happened last summer but i've been writing and avoiding writing this for a while, yet it's still ironically very much a first draft...part 1:

I almost purposely overlooked the B-10 the announcer just called; I wanted to throw my game, my bingo game. I was heart-racing-nervous-twitchingly-intimidated by my bingo competitors. Over sixty senior citizens all in varying shades of pastel polyester blends. Many of them were armed: canes of various solid, strong materials, impact resistant walkers and the occasional skull crushing oxygen tank. Of course many of them couldn’t lift the objects but their sheer seriousness in the game and determination to succeed was enough to send the most optimistic bingo player running to the handicap accessible exit.
It was to be one of the more exciting, and certainly the most spontaneous, of my sisters’ and I activities while visiting my grandparents down in their retirement village in Southern Florida. We conveniently arrived at the apex of the summer “love-bug” season and the hurricane season, so outdoor activity was neither welcomed nor a realistic possibility. Even without the insects or horizontal rainfall, the town’s vast quantities of tattoo parlors and chain restaurants didn’t quite satisfy my tourist thirst. After ninety some years on earth my Grandpa had little desire to do much more than obtain “the usual” at the community restaurant and watch Larry King Live with an almost army like dedication. Unfortunately his body agreed with him, and being confined to the Jazzy motorized scooter makes a good argument against having vacation adventures. Luckily our Grandma agreed to accompany us to the weekly Bingo game despite her much vocalized disappointment in the removal of cookies and birthday refreshments from the Bingo games of the past. We agreed to each play a board for our Grandpa.
The retirement village was set up like an all-inclusive town for the “citizens.” A barbershop, café, bank, pool and fitness center, and other small shops and centers were located in between the residence buildings. Bingo was held every Saturday night in the Town Hall, a room that resembles its name, complete with “cowgirl” and “cowboy” nameplates on the restroom doors.
Like most of our ventures out of their fifth floor apartment it moved at a glacial pace. Since my last visit, nearly ten years ago, my Grandma has required the assistance of a walker if moving more than five feet. While never the speed demon, the walker and her bum foot moved her at a degree of slow I was not previously aware of. Normally a fast walker, often viewing getting anywhere as a sort of Olympic race, I was having an especially hard time matching my pace to hers. The first few days of our trip my sisters and I were much better at making the effort to restrain ourselves but it was now the last night of our trip and our patience was growing as thin as the hair of the retirees. One of us would frequently “suddenly” think of a pressing matter that we could address while we were all in transit that allowed us to break from the slow motion pack and meet at the final destination. Even though we’d still eventually have to wait while the rest of the group arrived, there was some satisfaction in knowing you got there at a rapid pace. I sensed that my sisters weren’t going to cash in an excuse during our voyage four floors to the Town Hall. After rounding a hallway corner on the first floor I said I had to go to the bathroom and would meet them inside the hall. Like a closeted smoker, I slyly ran off to satisfy my fast-walking craving. I moved swiftly to the bathrooms on the far edge of the village complex. Upon exiting the bathroom I inadvertently got stuck behind a woman in a motorized scooter, much like my Grandpa’s. Not practicing normal roadway courtesy this maniac was driving in the middle of the sidewalk path blocking my potential pass. Clearly as punishment for my abuse of the bathroom excuse I was forced to walk at an awkwardly close pace behind the woman who most likely considered me a purse-snatching hoodlum after I followed her across the complex and straight into the town hall. I held the door open for her, trying to appease my unintentional stalking but I’m sure she spread her mistrust of me to her bingo-enthusiast friends. The handicap woman put my bingo game at a handicap.
Outside the town hall poorly parked scooters and scattered walkers resembled the haphazardly parked cars outside a suburban house party. Inside the feeling was slightly less rowdy although everyone could have benefited from a keg or two. Three large tables spanned the length of the town hall; the first two of the tables were filled with determined bingo participates. The third table had a few clumps of players near the front and middle of the table and then my sisters and grandma at the furthest end. The standard amount of boards was four except first time players (Saturday night bingo virgins!) were allowed a fifth board free of charge. My sisters and I each had five; my grandma had two. Despite being somewhat secluded in the corner I tried to size up the competition. I titled the group closest to us (about five chairs down) as “the Elite”. The Elite consisted of a couple, in matching cornflower blue polos, and two women. As far as I could see they all had the standard four boards except for one of the women on my side of the table that had an unthinkable six boards. Although the group (besides the couple) didn’t have matching boards or uniforms, they did all have special magnetic wands that scooped up special game pieces they brought for the game. While we fished out quasi-round, dull, red game pieces from empty “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” containers with the rest of the players, the Elite dropped their magical purple coins onto their boards. And when a game was over, their cleanup simply required a swift pass of their magical bingo wand giving them ample time to look around in disgust at the plebeians and their standard issue playing pieces.
It was like third grade all over again except this time I wasn’t feeling intimidated and inferior to the crowd sporting the latest Nike sneakers, it was the Bingo elitists who eyed us not as loving, young, adults but as greedy, young, competition. Thoughts were quickly silenced once the emcee took the mic.
“The pot is hot tonight ladies and gentleman, first game is regular bingo and four-corners” His festive tropical shirt and relocation south did nothing to diminish his thick New York accent.
“No attempt to explain the rules to the newbies or Alzheimer’s patients?” I thought to myself as I grabbed a handful of the little red playing dots. I scooted up in my seat, on the alert.
“I – 42, that’s I…4, 2,” New York shouted.
The set up in the Town Hall was more legitimate than I thought; the numbers appeared at the push of a button from a vortex like chamber and then as New York read the numbers loud they illuminated on a large board in the front of the room. All the numbers that had been called during the game were lit up and remained illuminated; it was nearly impossible to not know what had been called. Needless to say I was sure one or two senior citizens were happily marking numbers arbitrarily; part of me hoped for an old jokester to scream out “BINGO,” right before bursting into laughter. It would help take the ever-increasing edge off. But the jokesters never called out, in fact with every silent round I was growing more and more tense. I wished to be my blissfully unaware Grandma, six numbers behind, two measly boards down and one pair of questionably effective reading glasses. For some reason I felt compelled to keep accurate account of my game boards even though each successful number literally made my hands shake and palms sweat. The last thing I wanted was to draw more attention to myself. I felt as if I was the only driver in the room that could see over their Oldsmobile dashboard, all too aware of which direction I was headed. As I laid down more and more tiny discs of doom I realized my fate was laid out diagonally, B-10 to O-shit.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Camera Shy

I don't usually post picture entries but I also don't usually find a picture of myself that so clearly captures my internal expression. The following picture (regardless of the actual environment I was in) truely is worth a 1000 words in my opinion (and thus one of my longest posts!):

Wake Up, Subconscious!

There have been multiple times this summer where I have fallen asleep while reading personal ads I know I’d never respond to. Tonight I transitioned right into a dream where I was walking around an unlit room where sad, lonely, horned-up people where sitting around waiting. I woke up without really realizing I had fallen asleep. I need to start falling asleep to or maybe to the literature found on the backs of cookie and cereal boxes; even if the dreams were still depressing. I’d wake up to a box of cookies.

There is always a sense of disappointment when you remember your dreams, but remember them for being so completely literal to your waking life. I’ll be worrying about an exam all week and then the nights before the exam I’ll dream I’m taking the test, finish, and then freak out over the impending grade. When I wake up I roll my eyes and say, “come onnnn” to my lazy sub-conscious. “I’ve been worrying about this all day, do I really not even get a break when I’m passed out?!” This is the same brain that could create years of extravagant superhero battles and adventures with a few Mattel figures and the slightly disfigured tree in my front yard; now it can’t even piece together a good unconscious episode. No cooking frogs, no bizarre person from my past, no wild celebrity romance, not even a cliché alien abduction. The only positive thing about having a predictable dream-life is the sense of relief that I’m not in therapy. If I was in therapy I’d be too embarrassed to have them ask me about my dreams, which in my naïve view of therapy is a standard question. Regardless of how accurate this portrayal is I’d like to keep myself blissfully unaware for in my mind this all occurs in an office disgustingly tasteful, where you are brought to tears just at the sight of the Eames chair. Hopefully most of my emotional breakthroughs in life will not be furniture induced but I’m not saying I’d be too disappointed or surprised if they were. Sitting in whatever chair provided I’d be worried that my mental musings would be so transparent the psychiatrist would later ask her colleagues if they sent me in as some sort of practical joke. Simply remembering my dreams is analyzing them. I’ve literally had dreams in which I’m going about my daily routine: eating breakfast, watching tv, running errands. Nothing out of the ordinary, and possibly what I was planning on doing that Sunday afternoon.

The worst part is I know I can do better; I’ve had dreams where I was sampling the different quality of paper…orally, for God’s sake! For a while I even kept a dream journal and when I’d recount some of the dreams to pseudo interested friends they’d actually have a genuinely shocked reaction. So as 4:30 a.m. slips away from me I question if my subconscious has finally given up on me. It’s worn out the auto-pilot feature on my brain and thus without even banal things to dream about I slip back into insomnia. I can only hope that when I finally do go to sleep I wake up next to a box of cookies.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


There is a candy jar at work that may as well be my glove seeing as my hand is constantly seeking shelter in its sweet contents. It's cleverly labeled "eat me" and when you have directions that simple you feel bound to oblige. Instead of counting down the time till work ends I'm usually contemplating how much time should pass before it's socially acceptable to get more candy. When the downstairs jar is down to the bottom, filled with the relegated, reject candy (ambiguous hard candies, stray sugar packets, an encrusted skittles or two), I often shamefully sneak upstairs to the office jar. Just doing my part to keep management lean and cavity-free I tell myself.

At this point I'm really just waiting for the diabetes diagnosis.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Making the Cut

I worry about my hair a lot; then I worry that this worrying will cause my hair to fall out. The masochistic, endless cycle of hair stress is only temporarily relieved on the sporadic moments I get a good haircut. My head has been shag-city for a good six months. I broke down in May and decided to give myself a big birthday haircut but was too charmed by my hairdresser and the constant supply of mimosas to achieve any sort of drastic change. It was the kind of haircut you had to announce to people. Realizing they hadn’t noticed I’d have to think of ways to casually integrate it into the conversation. “I’m so sorry to hear about your Grandmother. . .maybe you should treat yourself to a great trim like I did…today.”

While British rock bands and California surfers kept subliminally telling me to stick with it, it’s hard to ignore evidence to the contrary when it’s literally in front of your eyes. An experiment with a straighter let me know that my hair had the ability to reach to the tip of my nose but sans iron my hair curled up after a few inches, as if altering its natural route and reaching for the heavens. I resembled less of the rock bands I pretended to like and more of a slightly disheveled Florence Henderson.

Like a crotchety old man I like to blame the weather whenever slightly applicable and in the current crux of a Boston summer I find it’s easy to do just that. Whenever I’d be a particularly shaggy moment in my hair history my styling regime would consist of simply putting on a tight knitted hat post shower. The beanies acted as a sort of cast for my recklessly thick mane. Seeing as New England enjoys 6 month long winters it’s easy to use this method and still look like a sane part of society, but once the hellishly humid summers come wearing a knitted cap in 85 degree weather is less ironic and more idiotic. Not only was my hair corset seasonally unacceptable but with the increase in temperature came the increase in amount of cold, drawn out showers. Plagued with another catch-22 I accepted defeat and made an appointment, determined to rid myself of the hair that was not only attacking my head but attacking my ego as well.

This particular summer I’ve taken up temporary residence in a charming Cambridge apartment with friends. Moving from the sheltered life of on-campus housing to that of a “real-world” apartment I barely noticed anything except the ability to drink whenever possible and a kitchen that included more than a trashcan sized fridge and overused microwave. What I failed to see was that most real apartments don’t include auditorium sized laundry rooms that are hooked up to your campus account. Doing laundry on campus was not only easy, fast and practically free but you could check the availability of the machines via the Internet and get a message delivered to your phone when your load was done. I wasn’t just washing my clothes with Tide, I was washing my clothes with technology. In the real world I discovered my Laundromat was almost five blocks away and held hours that would make the average bank complain. Needless to say I found myself three weeks into dirty clothes and sheets and running out of creative solutions to the growing underwear epidemic.

The day of my haircut my dwindling clean laundry had me wearing pants tight and thin enough to be considered long underwear and an old t-shirt that passed the sniff test, finished off with patent leather dress shoes because the only clean socks I had were dress socks. Immediately after my haircut I purchased a new pair of underwear because it was the only realistic way I was going to have clean underwear the following morning. When I arrived at my appointment with Manny I mortified when his first question was “Do you need a wash?” I didn’t want to respond in sudden Bridget Jones like hysterics “Desperately, myself, my hair and every item of clothing and fabric in my room.” Fortunately he asked this right before he ran his hands through my hair which gave him all the assessment he needed, I wasn’t quite sure because I was in the euphoric stupor of a professional hair wash but he might have triple washed my hair and then triple washed his hands after.

When Manny asked what I wanted done I simply responded, “I’m sick of having long hair.”
He translated what I said into what he assumed I meant, “Okay so you want basically the same thing but shorter,” to which I corrected him by saying “much…much shorter”.

When he was finished I had a clean, almost militarily clean cut. While I was beyond pleased with trading in Florence Henderson for Joan of Arc it was what Manny said in the beginning of my cut that really pleased me. As he began he asked where I normally got my hair cut. I told him I usually wait long enough so that I can get it cut when I’m at home. Manny, dear sweet Manny, responded by asking if I was in a band and tour a lot. I’m not sure if it was the eccentric clothing, the bad hygiene or the uncontrollable shaggy hair but I finally got the comparison to the dirty, indie rock bands that romanticize the look I had stumbled my way upon. The only sound sweeter than Manny’s mistaken assumption was the sound of his scissors making sure it would never happen again.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Classifieds Information

I’m not above peer pressure. I’m very much not above peer pressure. People begin to say that old adage, “if all your friends jumped off a cliff would you?” to me but stop because my feverous nodding already gives them an image of my flattened body grinning from the bottom of the Sahara. This is not to say positive peer pressure doesn’t affect me just as much as negative; such is the case with Emerson College and the internship panic that spreads throughout spring semester. The respective student body usually migrates to Los Angeles or New York. Once final grades were posted I was determined to avoid standing on Boylston Street holding a shameful retail time card with a single rain cloud of self doubt pouring down on me.

With impending homelessness, fleeting optimism and an empty inbox I made a decision about three weeks ago to stay in Boston, to stay with friends, and to stay employed. I accept not defeat for I’m currently still quasi-pursuing internships in Boston (Central Productions if you’d like to check your voicemail there are approx. 30 new messages from me begging to do menial labor) but I can honestly say I put up a valiant fight. Over the course of the internship battle I came in contact with an unforeseen enemy, an enemy I am forced to deal with and an enemy that will continue to be a presence in my life for an undetermined amount of time; I speak of the dreaded “cover letter”.

I’m not against marketing myself and in certain contexts I’m not against formality, but producing these detestable documents became the bane of my existence. It started to become a problem when I began applying to the—whatever-might-as-well—internships such as: writing intern on “All My Children”, animation podcast intern, and an ambiguous pilot involving Spanish people in a laundromat. Not only would I have to feign interest, but I would have to convince them that my film production background makes me the perfect candidate to write about Tristan’s love affair with her Grandfather’s cyclone business partner. I mastered the art of using one cover letter and simply substituting and cutting certain lines, like those thank you notes you’d write in the 3rd grade to relatives after a bountiful Christmas. “Dear _____ thank you for the _______, it was really great, how’d you know I wanted that!? Hope to see you soon!”. Instead these letters were written in the hopes of acquiring a gift, the gift of a (temporary) professional peace of mind. It goes without saying I place a bit of importance on cover letters. When the weeks would pass without reply I’d fear I’d left in a sentence or two from the previous draft and thus revealing my lazy application work ethic. I had roughly a dozen different drafts of my resume put didn’t want to name them according to the place I was applying to for fear of looking unprofessional and exposing my all-inclusive job hunt, so I devised a system of letters for differentiating. Let it be known I’m no Dewey Decimal, my system was more than confusing. So my fears were only intensified with the thought of sending the resume inflating my fine arts background to the writing.

Who knows the reason behind my lack of an internship: typo-ridden emails, resume goof, “better” applicants, racism…at this point the reason is unimportant. While I’ll be enjoying a relatively carefree summer I thought I’d keep my cover letter writing skills sharp, while using a new “fresh” approach.

June 2, 2008

Rodney Uhler
64 Pleasant Street Apt. 2
Cambridge, MA 02139

Anonymous Company
1234 Broadway Street
New York, NY 00911

Dear Jane Smith,

I’m currently a panicking senior film production student at Emerson College in Boston. I’m extremely interested in having some fresh additions to my resume in the hopes of it helping me land a non food service job post college, and your company was one of the many I found in a desperate search. Ultimately I’d love to work with film and writing, and as you can see by my bull-shiting abilities within this letter my writing skills are not to be ignored! On that note an opportunity at your company fits right into my ultimate career goals and would provide me with a terrific learning experience.

An internship with your company would be a mutually beneficial experience (I hope that sentence appeals to you because I got it straight from a sample letter!) My strong work ethic would allow me to be a valuable part of your team. Just this past month I’ve applied to countless internships spanning many different genres despite fleeting interest and feigned enthusiasm, but my work ethic, and fear of professional inferiority, drove me forward.

I am currently committed to being on campus until late May, for I’m a Resident Assistant which means I’m not only responsible and good with people but it also shows I’m not above jeopardizing a social life for a job. From June 1st to September 1st I am available any hours or days necessary save for an hour lunch break a day so I can gorge on food and call as many people as I can to complain about my work schedule. Please feel free—seriously I’ll use all caps if it will drive the point across—to contact me via e-mail or phone with any questions or concerns. If interested I will be happy to arrange an interview at a mutually convenient time and place. I have no issues with skipping class, dental appointments or family obligations.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you in the future. But I’m not optimistic, I’ll secretly wish today is the day you’ll call but I’ve been burned before and I know the sting of rejection.


Rodney Uhler

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

hanson4prez says.... (Desk Sitting Entertainment Continued)

Okay there is no getting around it, I was watching the Hanson – “Weird” music video tonight, which led to watching their “If Only” music video. Granted we all know that “If Only” pails in comparison to “Weird” both in song and video quality but in terms of youtube user comments, “If Only” packs some SERIOUS heat. I didn’t venture into the pages of comments because I knew I would never leave and homework would suffer, but I really didn’t need to because the first page far exceeded expectations. What follows is an intense Jonas Brothers vs. Hanson debate that was continuing as I copied the text, which meant, hanson4prez and kimthegreatest were also watching this video today, as well as others. The internet continues to baffle me but frequently with beyond amusing results.

Ps. A real blog post will hopefully happen soon.

(15 minutes ago)
Oh please.
Hanson is the greatest, and the Jo Bros can never even be compared to them!

..It's like trying to compare Miley Cyrus to Brittany Spears (pre K-Fed days). (:

Hanson lives on! <3 style="font-weight: bold;">

AceEliot (3 hours ago)
ooo. Burn!

socorevsfan2 (3 hours ago)
you were obviously a pitifully small child when Hanson was huge. does the song MMMBop mean anything? honestly. they still have a huge fanbase, but ignorant imbeciles like you are just to slow to actually consider things like that before you flame an excellent band

coldpinkflame (7 hours ago)
Haha. Are they gay.? Omg they can't even be compared with the Jonas Brothers. Not them or their fame. Hanson was never as famouse and JB is a fairly new band.

If anyone responds to this im nt replying. I dont care what you say most of the population agrees with me. HANSON ARE FAGSSSSSS.... and at that ugly fags.!!!

jaxtrent (9 hours ago)
exactly, as far as I am concerned the Jonas Brothers are Hanson wannabes, sorry but they will NEVER be what Hanson is and that is ONE OF THE GREATEST BANDS GODS HAS EVER CREATED!

hanson4prez (1 day ago)
NO DONT EVER COMPARE THE JONAS BROTHERS TO THIS GREATNESS OF HANSON!! And plus you can clearly tell they and men/boys!!

daughterxxnature (1 day ago)
true dat

XxcherrypoprocksxX (1 day ago)
I love Zac!

Sigh. you said it XxcherrypoprocksxX, you said it.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Desk Sitting Entertainment:

The job of desk sitting is so boring the entire job description is encapsulated in the two-word title. The fact that I am even taking the time to describe it is like labling sleeping as an extreme sport. Babysitting an inanimate object is as exciting as it sounds, with the absence of my computer it would be akin to torture. Such statements don’t even fall under the category of exaggerations, boredom induced suicide attempts have been sweeping desk sitters in University Campuses across the nation. While I’m clearly not claiming one can have a load of fun during these periods of imprisonment I will admit that it opens up one’s opportunity to explore creative entertainment via the Internet.

User reviews and comments on websites travel, city, fashion and gossip websites have become my new poetry. People can get seriously creative with these, much to my amusement. It has proved to be a most glorious of desk sitting hobbies and I thank those faceless Yelp users for providing me with the latest batch of linked literature…

Here is what I consider the “Best of”… and categorized to meticulous and scientific degree…
(Store in question is the thrift store Urban Renewals in Allston, MA)

File Under: Second Hand Egos.
- “I am pretty much the Queen of Thrift in my hometown (Houston, TX), so I feel like I have a huge bank of various thrift store to compare Urban Renewals to.”

-“Everyone who knows me knows I love thrift stores, records, being thrifty. I am Scottish after all.”

-“Too many hipsters writing reviews, not enough serious thrifters.”

File Under: Sensory Explorations
-“I have a lot of qualms about U.R as much as favor.
-I found a centipede while rummaging through records
-It smells bad often”

-“Expecting an awful rushed squack, instead, over the loudspeaker comes "Our specials today are (a laundry list of items)" announced by a man with the most soothing, lovely, accented, almost resigned voice."

File Under: Masochistic Purchases.

I seriously almost bought this for...whatever reason. It repulsed me and seemed like a good enough gift for a friend to destroy.”

-“bought the UGLIEST winter coat. Seriously, it looks like a shag carpet but it was so cheap (5 bucks) and is warm. I can manage looking like a complete fool.”

File Under: Novella
(what follows is seriously 4 full paragraphs)
So you're probably still wondering why it's a half star and not a whole star, well it's 'cause they're not bad and kind of fall into the mediocre territory meaning 3 stars, but they get an extra half star for being so damn organized, having such great prices, and having some of those new stuff with tags still on it.”

We actually weren’t wondering but thanks for the grading system explaination…

File Under: T.M.I.
“Officially my happy place.

It's a great place to go after eating or before eating.
No bathroom however.. had to run over to Hess. I asked a worker if there was a bathroom and she simple said "huhhhuhhblehbleh". Seriously she mubbled something no human can hear or interpret.

So I thanked her and off I went to Hess.

Shopping there is super fun.”

File Under: In need of post retail therapy
“Please, tell me if I missed something, otherwise gouge my eyes out with a rusty spoon and label me permanently blind. I wouldn't trust my dog to find a good place to take a crap here, he'd be too confused on where to start.”

File Under: Thrifting OD
“You can find me in Urban Renewals almost every single day, checking the newest items.”

There exists this whole subculture of people who rate and review these places with astonishing fervor. On Yelp (and I’m sure other sites as well) the reviews are…reviewed. Not only are they reviewed but it’s on a superlative level (I found this funny/informative/expressive/etc.) Needless to say I think I’ll be going to Urban Renewals somtime during spring break…if I happen to find a centipede among my loot so be it; I’m sure a soothing announcer will ease my anxiety.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Musical Interlude

Most people who know me or are subjected to my music recommendations know that I have very intense, but very brief love affairs with songs/artists/albums. I’ll hear something once and then watch the itunes play count rise with no end in sight…until I hear something else. I half expect my .mp3 to start skipping from overuse, which of course sometimes it does but only because my computer is now prehistoric in technological terms. First I hate when engaging in small talk people ask “what kind of music do you listen to?” which is a somewhat unjustified hatred because it’s a perfectly appropriate question I just feel it always comes with some sort of judgment and need to agree. And while the answer “oh I like almost everything really…except country!!!!” seems like such a cop-out, it is my answer and I feel lame saying it but I also feel truthful because my taste in music is erratic and eclectic to say the least. This is not to say it’s good at all, far from it. I’ve stopped using the term “guilty pleasure” because it was getting tired and slowly the guilty part left the phrase. To illustrate the points I’ve just made and to illuminate you further onto my musical taste (which I just bashed) I will post the youtube videos of three songs I’ve been obsessed with (since sat.)…ask me again in a week and I’ll probably have forgotten I had these songs but the play count will still be in the high double digits.

The Crystals – “He’s A Rebel”

I would give a lot to go back in time and attend a dance during the 50’s (albeit segregation) because the music was just so fun and danceable. *granted this isn’t the music video but can you really complain??

MGMT – “Electric Feel”

This band sometimes channels the New Radicals which I’m totally okay with, but with more edge, more danceability, and more fluorescent short shorts. My mirror was subjected to a lot of me dancing in front of it thanks to this song.

Dusty Springfield – “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”

Despite talent shows and reality shows ruining the song, I still love this song. The Caucasian race has few in the true “soul singers” category but I feel like Dusty fits this pretty well. Not only that but I on my itunes it always follows up with “Son of a Preacher Man” which is also, always great.

Kanye West – “Flashing Lights”

Okay I despise Kanye West for reasons so obvious they don’t need to be explained. But I can’t help liking this song, and I do like a lot of his songs, which I justify to myself by realizing that he samples so much he barely has a part in them. Also this video helps a lot because it features the fiercest creature that channels Naomi Cambell mixed with Beyonce and Tyra. Also it was directed by Spike Jonze and is simple yet original, I would use a better description but I don’t want to ruin it.


Okay so I do like my taste in music, obviously, but I will admit I’m always behind on musical trends or the “new song” so if this everyone has already seen this video for Flashing Lights pardon my tardiness and, yes, I know most everyone has been into MGMT enough to now consider them passé. This post just got strangely aggressive!

YOUTUBE > HOMEWORK. = my thesis for the semester. I can prove it too.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

RERUNS: The Capriciously Career Minded

*(special future freak out edition!)

hello hello,

so I've decided to post an essay I wrote almost exactly one year ago about my life-long obsession with figuring out what I want to do; it was my first official creative writing essay. I've decided to post it not only because I want you guys to benefit from fantastic literature and a glimpse into my neurosis but because it is now approaching the "freaking out about my future" time in regards to this summer and everything beyond. I've come to realize my very specific and detail orriented plan for the future may not work out as possible, that my bank account maybe a major determining factor (the closest bourrogh of nyc i can afford is Allentown, PA) and that with an amazing time abroad I realized I don't want to end my experience in europe just yet....sigh, first-world problems.


The Capriciously Career Minded
feb. 2007.

I now view novelty ties with a distaste usually reserved for corrupt foreign dictators. I once, very briefly, wanted to be a teacher solely based on the fact that I would have a reason to form an impressive collection of novelty and seasonal ties. I figured my garishly decorated, or cartooned themed ties would win the hearts of the small children I taught. Thankfully neckwear factors little into my current career plans. Although ties may not currently be in my career planning, just about every other factor and detail is. I have more than once found myself internally debating the New York versus Los Angeles industries when I should be sleeping. I’ve mulled over transportation, real estate, and proximity to family and still haven’t come to a decision on where I will locate after college, often turning in a desperate move to Nyquil to silence my career crazed mind. True the decision of where one will start the job hunt is very important but when I often describe last night’s bedroom brain frenzy to my friends, they tell me to cool it and worry about finishing my intro level courses first. While their advice makes me push aside the Nyquil for a little bit I can’t help but foresee sharing my bed with another internal career planning session. How I long for the days of elementary school when I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
Kindergarten and first grade were some of the most cherished times of my life, not because they marked the start of about two decades of formal education or the roots of social interaction, but because it was the only time in my life where I could be labeled as a badass. I was a kindergarten cocktail of class clown and resident smartass served in a glass of primary colored clothing. I would make jokes in the middle of class, have reign over the playground and open all the windows in the hallway and class whenever the teacher wasn’t looking. The kids ate it up.
During one first grade class the teacher asked us if we could be anyone in the world who would we be? One heavenly suck-up said Jesus. Although typical answers like astronaut, president, and dad/mom came up, one classmate said, “Rodney”; prompting the entire class, and teacher, to look at me. Before I could react another student blurted out “yeah, I want to be Rodney too.” I should have pointed out to the second child the obvious impossibility of two people being me, instead I grinned and gave a shrug and short flick of the wrist; part beloved yet humble peer, part budding homosexual. Although having a handful of seven-year-olds put you in the same realm as the leader of the free world and those that gave them life is pretty substantial the real importance of that day was that it marked the start of my fascination with picking out a career and life plan for myself.
While my mom claims my first aspiration was to be a tree, namely the one in my backyard, the first career I remember picking out for myself was children’s book illustrator. My future and career often changed daily, but the idea of being an illustrator was always somewhere in my mind. My favorite illustrator, not surprisingly, often illustrated my favorite author’s (Roald Dahl) books. Quinten Blake’s illustrations were childlike yet skilled; a combination that I dreamed of emulating. I sent Mr. Blake a thick envelope containing a poorly written, yet heartfelt fan letter and a select few of my finest drawings. I might have even included my home phone number as to give him the speediest method of contacting me to credit my talent and invite me overseas to England to work as his apprentice. Although a phone call never came, a letter arrived and while clearly mass-produced and sent to all his fans, the “Dear Rodney” and his signature were in contrasting blue ink, clearly indicating that he spent at least 10 seconds acknowledging he had received a letter from some boy named Rodney in the United States. This was all I needed to verify my current career goal.
I soon realized that if was serious about this I should pick out a college; this was right before entering middle school. During dinner, I casually brought up the fact that I gave it a lot of thought and proclaimed, “I’m fairly certain that I will attend Carnegie Mellon University after high school, studying Illustration.” As if I had just informed them that after dinner I planned on eating ice cream while watching “Home Improvement.” My parents responded with little surprise or bewilderment; although I remember having a conversation with my Mom as to the merits of Carnegie Mellon later. I was completely satisfied with my choice, and why not? I had seen a few pictures of the school, knew it was somewhere in Pennsylvania and quite thoroughly enjoyed saying the name “Carnegie Mellon:” it combined the respect and prestige that goes along with Andrew Carnegie with the fun and deliciousness of one of my favorite summer treats. While basing your choice of college based on looks and name proved rather unwise (Carnegie Mellon has no illustration major), it has ironically become a personally acceptable form of judging a prospective date.
Much to my surprise, friends and classmates in middle school rarely seemed interested in discussing their prospective undergrad schools and had absolutely no desire to help me decide if it was wiser to start my career as freelance or work with a larger company. It was easy for me to dismiss their lack of interest as a sign of their inevitable slacker status in life. If made fun of, a particularly favorite retort was often glaring at them and snapping, “yeah well see how big of a tip I leave you when you’re pumping my gas in twenty years!” While this rarely had the desired affect (a tearful apology) I was usually quite satisfied, and if not I could spend a few meditative hours filling out online career or personality assessment surveys.
An often captive, yet sometimes unwelcome, audience came in the form of distant or elderly relatives. Almost as standard as the cheek pinching greeting was the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” While I relished the opportunity to discuss my career plans du jour, often with a pace and tone reserved for speed junkies, the response was often an uncomfortable smile usually followed by the relative retreating to my parents. I imagine they would engage in conversation with my parents, silently trying to decide if they were some how responsible for instilling in me such fanatical fervor. Once my adolescence took a turn towards the bitter, sarcastic side, I would often picture these awkward family scenes differently. I now pictured a distant relative fishing for some way to start small talk by asking for the third time, “So what are your plans for the future?”
“I’m looking into cannibalism.” I would say gazing just beyond them, as if peering into a wonderful future, then refocusing to see their repulsed face.
“I’m only kidding!” I would reassure them, “I could never eat anything as fatty as human flesh. I’m actually looking into becoming a lawyer, although I’m worried that’s too similar to cannibalism.” Of course in reality this conversation never took place, but it was in frequent rotation in my head.
In school I took comfort in days when adults would come in and discuss their careers. Although these speakers often had careers that didn’t interest me in the slightest-car salesmen, army commander, nurse, state policeman- I found myself enthralled with the stories of how they professionally progressed to where they were. When the car salesmen discussed how some of the people who work as salesmen on the lot may come to own the dealership and potentially many dealerships, I gasped, unable to contain my excitement. I leaned forward and looked down the rows to see if others were as visibly excited as I. They weren’t. The representative from the army, the nurse and the state policemen, while perfectly interesting, didn’t make a dramatic impact on me because I knew that unlike them I wanted a truly rewarding and respectable career…like one in advertising.
The newfound interest in the world of advertising seems to have begun around the time when, coincidentally, the movie and books I was exposed to seemed to have main characters who were all part of a dynamic, fast paced, creative advertising agency. Usually the advertising executive would have slightly funky glasses and work in a Manhattan office building that had rich hardwood floors and dramatic windows. Mel Gibson’s character in “What Women Want” may have been the polar opposite of me but his job as an advertising executive seemed so understatedly glamorous that I found myself picturing my future employment to be a near replica of his. I might have been identifying with the other lead character, played by Helen Hunt. Despite the cattiness, superficiality and general abhorrence for his job, Augusten Burroughs some how still made the advertising world seem appealing to me. Perhaps his small references to the six digit salary and the designer furniture made me overlook the countless negatives. Although the realization of the media’s sway on my professional influence is a bit off-putting, I’m just thankful I didn’t watch an excessive amount of serial killer movies.
When I arrived at high school my desire to map out my future was now met with admiration and applause rather than the surprised eyebrow-raise and inquisitive head tilt. Although complaining about traveling into the depths of the south for my older sister’s college tour vacation, I secretly adored each tour and would often pretend as if I was at the stage of applying to colleges; keenly observing and listening so that when it actually was my turn I wouldn’t subject the tour guide to the inane questions that only a novice would think to bring up.
The gods issued out an unfortunate punishment for me when it actually was my turn, for after my first college tour I knew I wanted to go to that school and only that school. While I should have instantly hated the city of Boston for it’s mind-boggling roadways making me late to the tour for Emerson College--throwing all that college tour professionalism out the window—I ended up loving it for how un-Pennsylvania it was. There was no ever-expanding construction to create new and bland suburban developments, only ever-expanding construction to preserve old and endearing buildings. There was no junior driver’s curfew of midnight; there was the freedom of public transportation—which shuts down around half past midnight. I loved the exotic erratic-ness. When we finally reached Emerson, I had already done extensive research on the college and knew that personality wise we got along perfectly; we both shared a love of the arts and distaste for math, we both considered ourselves creative yet a little scattered, and we’d both rather spend the afternoon in the shopping mall than the basketball court. Once I saw there was a physical attraction I had the application overnight-ed two weeks before the early acceptance date. Once I found out I could double minor in addition to my major I had the admissions office on speed dial. My friends and teachers advised me to apply to other schools and take other tours but while I perused the website and campus of Boston, New York and Syracuse Universities I couldn’t help but feel as if I was cheating on Emerson. It’s a shame because I had so many more tours in me. I might have kids just so I have a legitimate reason to tour colleges, and I’ll start them off right; if they attend AM kindergarten it will leave us with the entire afternoon to tour prospective schools.
The fate of my obsessive outlook on my future seems to be laced with irony for the closer I get to having to actually make decisions on my career, the less and less I know exactly what I want to do. Although I still have intricate plans and hopeful wishes for what I would enjoy doing, there seem to be too many to focus on. Instead of a career du jour, I’m in line at a career buffet; which makes me nervous because all the buffets I’ve been to before have been populated by loud, overweight families who tend to be oblivious to how much food they’ve taken and how much of it has artfully ended up on the loud floral bed spread they have seemingly passed off as clothing. While there may be nothing scarier than comparing your own future to a strip-mall buffet, I have faith in my somewhat hazy future because my first grade classmates snubbed the president and their own mothers because they believed in me. Even if I don’t end up obtaining my dream job or career, I was more popular than Jesus in first grade, and the Beatles couldn’t even pull that off.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Films Never-made and Soon-to-be-Made

Thanks to a certain sibling, this will be making it’s way into my book collection; a collection which should just be called “I’m 20 going on 12” and thus this will fit in nicely. Don’t let the trendy retro cover fool you, this isn’t an original but the cover is made to replica the 1940’s original. I feel like this is one of those things that can change a simple over abundance of Roald Dahl books into the start of a “collection”. While die hard Dahl fans might turn there eleven year old noses up at me, I did find out a bit about this lost literature. It was Road Dahl’s first published book, written while he was still a pilot in the RAF (notice the strangely accurate title they give him on the cover). The book was in print for very short period of time and out of print for a long period of time. Walt Disney almost made the Gremlins into a film about creatures who lived in the clouds…but when Walt’s Percocet wore off and he came down from the clouds they realized an animated film centered on WWII was trendy and tired. Well, I’m actually dying for some good old war stories for the 1940s kid so I plan to cherish it like the bastard book it is.

In other news, my Intermediate Film Production class picked my screenplay as its favorite, in an oddly game-show-like manner. A good portion of the class pitched screenplays the first day of class and despite an email a few days before prepping us for such an event I had forgotten and thus had to think of a 5-7 minute film on the spot. That pitched turned into a 1st draft presented at the next class which went over incredibly well, well enough that I barely had to do a re-write. I say this not out of any sort of arrogance or gloating, actually I say it out of shock and surprise. Somehow I feel guilty, the same sort of unwarranted guilt I feel every time I successfully pass through an airport metal detector; as if somehow I cheated or plagiarized without myself knowing. Regardless I made it through the metal detector of my class on top and thus my little elevator story will be made into a short 16mm film. For this I’m extremely excited and grateful for. I will attempt to utilize technology and attach it to this blog entry somehow.

*edit: if someone can tell me how to attached a PDF film to this blog I could accomplish said task.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Babushka Blues

Like the sad, drunk girls outside of Gypsy Bar, the sky was bawling erratically. As I'd take down my hood, which limits my hearing and peripheral vision to dangerous degrees, I’d be bitch-slapped by an onslaught of horizontal rain. Okay, I get it, maybe there is a God and he takes things VERY personally. I decided to fully commit myself to a sad single girl’s night in by going to the convenience store and picking up a frozen lasagna and Snapple Lemon Ice-Tea. Normally for ease of words I wouldn’t type out the full name of my beverage but I feel as if the Snapple Lemon Ice-Tea carries with it a certain “Bridget Jones” type quality that I fully embodied at that moment.

While the walk to the convenience store in the Little Building is a mere six buildings past my building it requires I traverse the area outside the Gypsy Bar, which exists solely to put on display the worst in mankind, but I’m sugarcoating it. Looking ahead I grew slightly optimistic at the sign of a clear sidewalk up ahead. Getting closer still I began to hear the shrill voice of a woman deep in an extended shriek. The sidewalk seemed empty because everyone was pushed to the side as to get a clearer view of the three to four person deep entanglement that was growing on the street. I felt as if I was walking across a stage during a play, the only visual recognition I got from the mass crowd was from those whose views I blocked. “Sorry folks, just getting some refreshments, couldn’t wait till intermission.” I gave a brief glance to the fight but couldn’t make one limb from another, the soaking rain made it seem even more primeval.

With lasagna and Bridget Jones approved beverage in tow I exited the Little Building and prepared to make my way past the primate spectacular but with a soaked rabbit-fur hood I wrapped my five foot long scarf around the top of my head and then around my neck, my cold and wet self suppressed any sort of even latent attempt at attractiveness. I was cold, wet, and I was crawling into bed with Stouffers in my stomach, trying to any extent to appear good looking would just be sad. The fight seemed to be exactly how I left it except now the lack of anyone official even attempting to break it up was a bit more alarming. The doorman to the club was standing guard over the still sadly long line. As I just crossed the spectators area a homeless man that is a fixture of the “outside-Gypsy-bar-weekends” scene turned his attention from entertaining the line of Guess clad thritysomethings to address me. Usually the remarks I overhear passing through this part of the sidewalk at these particular times range from “He look gay,” to just a succinct, “Fag,” but I figured the jester like homeless man would say something a little more creative in hopes of some coin. I should never “figure” on anything from homeless men who dress in Skittles colored clothing anymore.
“Watch out for the puddles there ma’am! Don’t slip now.”
One might be prepared to be mistaken for a woman; one MIGHT even be prepared to be mistaken for an old woman, but being mistaken for a klutzy old woman is just shocking. So mark the calendars folks, February 1st, 2008…Rodney Uhler’s life hits a peak. It’s all downhill from here. Watch out for the puddles, it could be a slippery year.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Adventures of Uhler and Clark: Part 2

What has become of our heros since we last left them?!
(hastly finished i think but finished.)


Hannah and I opted not to verbally respond, instead slowly turn towards each other and watch the color drain from our faces; resigning our fate to being stuck atop this mountain and living as human Appalachian Trail markers. Sure I enjoyed organic grocery shopping and the occasional bonfire but I wasn’t ready to fashion a natural diaper out of oak leaves and saplings. Soon I’d be communicating to Hannah is our own strange mountain language, wearing homemade animal pelts and forgetting a time when I would spend five minutes in the grocery store analyzing each individual shaving cream to see which one fit my needs and personality best.

My all too natural nightmares were interrupted by another one of Flannel’s boisterous laughs, “You really don’t have a clue as to where you are do you?” We sort of responded with another nervous rounds of laughter, already possibly slipping into non-verbal mountain communication, but trying to redeem ourselves Hannah half said, half asked, “We were just following the Appalachian Trail. We’re on the Appalachian Trail?” He laughed again while simultaneously shaking his head in soft disbelief. We might as well have approached him with a map of Manhattan asking, “I’m sorry sir, could you help us, we can’t seem to find where we are on this map? Are we near Chelsea?” He gave us two potential paths, one following the electrical line through the mountain (the shortcut), the other taking this trail to a gravel road and then following that to a paved road. Before we thanked him and his crotch-loving dog, he asked hopefully, “Say that green truck with all the Steelers stickers on it isn’t yours is it?” Finally I could respond with some conviction, “No sir, it most definitely is not.”

I opted for us to take the path that lead to the paved road. I was now viewing the wilderness as a plastic bag over my head; as long as I could get out of it I might not die. We reached a gravel road that snaked down the least romantic part of the mountain. Sure enough we passed by an old green pickup truck with Steelers football decals on the windows and a n1STEELERS vanity license plate. We contemplated hotwiring the truck but considered the death of our reputation and dignity not worth the quick escape. The decline we had so hoped for while just a few minutes ago came in a fairly steep, steady rate that made our knees question why they were being punished. I’d turn around every so often somewhat expecting to see an old pickup truck slowly driving towards us, the man in the flannel leaning out the window, his dog leaning out the other. “You kids won’t last another hour, hop in” He’d say and Hannah and I would give each other looks of hesitation but ultimately throw out grade school warnings and hop in. Except flannel man was nowhere to be seen; in fact, no one was around. The end of “Tot’s Lane,” came to a paved road, which we turned right onto, following Flannel’s directions. I was finally walking on the outside perimeter of the forest and mountain but then the signs on the trees made me wonder just what perimeter I was on. White marks were replaced with “US TERRITORY LIMITS.” While I was positive we hadn’t ventured into the excitement graveyard known as Canada, spirits were not lifted with the stern notification.

When at first I assumed the directions he gave us were just vague, upon walking down the paved street I realized the directions weren’t vague, the area was. Unless “unkept house number three” was seen as a monument, nothing stood out among this stretch of Grade-D Americana. The monotony of the landscape only made our trek down the macadam decline more tiresome. The houses we’d pass all contained porches littered with disregarded items and broken down appliances, a wrap-around garbage can. While it seemed to me that the Krelians’ might want to dispose of their jumbo diaper boxes somewhere else it occurred to me that maybe the Krelian’s weren’t so concerned about public displays of paper underwear seeing as the road seemed about as traveled as Mount Deserted we just left. The strangeness of our presence was even more apparent when we’d pass a house who’s standard too long driveway had someone taking out the trash, watering plants or preparing a cat for dinner. Regardless of what they were doing, the person would slow down their activity and gaze at us--a two-person parade of foreignness. Directly proportional to the house’s state of dereliction was the number of mediocre cars. It seemed in this area stashing your extra tires and electrical parts outside meant you deserved an extra car. Thought exterior paint as a thing exclusive to the 70s? Add another used car. As an open-minded accidental traveler I try not to judge what appears to be cultural norms but I couldn’t help but question the need for so many similar cars, and if no one was home (which was the apparent state of the...area) than were they all driving around somewhere else in more cars? The thoughts provided me with a mental soundtrack to accompany the metronome of my feet.

Our energy and Naglene bottle slowly draining we came upon an unexpected T in the road. Flannel had given us directions up until the road we were currently on so anything from here on out was left to our natural intuition or the gods of the Delaware Water Gap area.
“Let me check the name of the street,” I said confidently to Hannah, who was now nervously clutching the Nalgene bottle, testing its shatter-resistant claim. The T in the road featured only a street name for the street we were just on and it was…”Tot’s Lane”.
“Wait, this says we were just on Tot’s Lane but that was the gravel street that we turned off of to get onto this street miles back.” I was stupefied. Had all directional logic been thrown out the window since we embarked on this adventure hours prior? Was it this hard for Louis and Clark? Where was our Sacagawea? Before the thought could escape my mind we glanced over to the field next to us; a small part of it was the back and front yard of a medium sized home. An elderly man was playing with, presumably, his grandchildren on a plastic swing set. Exhausted we plopped down on the grassy slop next to the street corner. We were probably about ready to accept defeat except defeat was not an option, we hadn’t the slightest clue where we were or how to get back; defeat would mean using the Fisher-Price plastic slide as shelter and roaming the neighborhood for scrapes and squirrel meat. Much like our approach to the man in the flannel, we had a brief, frantic debate over asking the elderly gentleman the name of the street we were about to turn onto. Contemplating the carb and calorie count of squirrel meat and realizing I had a bag of organic Tostidos waiting for me in the car I wasn’t ready to give up. Thankfully Hannah agreed and mustered the energy to stand up and politely shout to the now dazed man, “Excuse me sir?! Excuse me? Hi, yes I’m sorry could you possibly tell us what street this is?”
The elderly fellow began to shake his head no—a response I was not prepared for—but then managed to squeak out in a gender confusing, feminine squeak, “Cherry Orchard Road, I think”.

Hannah thanked the androgynous elder and we made a hasty left onto what may or may not be Cherry Orchard Road. As we scurried away from the scene I, in poor taste, recounted the strangeness of the area: automobiles that grow from poorly managed properties, streets that begin and end in no logical order, gender-bending grannies, it was all too much to take. The sheer lunacy of the situation shut down the sector of our brains that registered stress. Where hopeless crying should have been we laughed uncontrollably. Were we regressing from some sort of back-woods America toxin? Our brains were seemingly malfunctioning, were our motor skills next? Would that he/she senior citizen be pushing me down that Fisher-Price slide? During our inappropriate laughter we somehow managed to conclude that calling Hannah’s mom and getting online directions from Cherry Orchard Road to the Deerhead Inn just off of Mountain Road was the best option, except the laughing didn’t stop before or during the phone call. As I walked around in a small circle, arms in the air signaling defeat to Mother Nature, Hannah was trying to explain our situation to her Mom in between laughter. Much like when you accidentally hurt your friend during a childhood roughhousing session Hannah’s mom wasn’t sure if Hannah as in fact laughing or crying. Before she could deduce an answer, I signaled to Hannah that there were people ahead we could ask further directions and she snapped the cell phone shut.

Were those two moms waiting for their child’s school bus or were they waiting for us to approach them in near hysterics asking for directions? It was hard to judge especially since our brains might be functioning on a third grade level soon; after that communication will be on a strictly giggles and grunts level.
“Hi, I’m sorry but we are sort of lost we were wondering if you could help us,” Hannah again apologetically asks.
“Okay,” one woman cautiously answers.
“You see we were just hiking the Appalachian Trail and then we…”
I cut Hannah off before she can give the full back-story to our misadventure.
“Yeah we just need to get back to the Deerhead Inn actually, if that’s at all close”
“Ah yeah you want to just turn around and take this road down till it hits Main Street, then turn right and it’s right past the post office, you can’t miss it. It is a bit over a mile away I think.”

We thank them and I turn us around in the opposite direction, with—for the first time—a sense of direction. Dreading passing the androgynous grandparent again, we try to walk as fast as our aching legs can move. Still acknowledging elementary rules we walk against traffic, moving into the possibly poison filled brush every so often as we lazily warn each other, “Car”. It’s nearing the four-hour mark and everything on our bodies is tired: ankles, knees, head, even my hand is tired from carrying the Nalgene bottle. Brains and mouth fatigued as well, we barely speak except for the occasional optimistic outburst of what we plan on doing as soon as we are within visual range of freedom. Freedom meant hot showers; freedom meant junk food…freedom meant Dairy Queen.
“I would love to get Dairy Queen right now,” Hannah says, teasing my taste-buds.
“I don’t want to be in the presence of food that contains any colors found in nature. I want a pastel, rainbow plate of sugar, carbs and various fatty-based foods,” I respond, half sternly directed towards nature.
“No…my Mom’s friend said there’s a good vegetarian café in this area that we should check out.” Hannah suggests with feigned enthusiasm.

We take a moment and stand in knee length weeds as a pick-up truck barrels down the street. I try to jump-start my legs by kicking a small, run over branch into our sidewalk of wilderness. Again we stroll in tired silence.

“I know there’s a Dairy Queen around here, I just know it,” Hannah blurts out.

Before we can imagine the extra pounds on our tired thighs we come to the literal and figurative end in the road. Main Street at last. We turn right and for the first time in four hours we recognize where we are. We are getting irrationally nostalgic:

“The Italian Restaurant! I recognize that!”
“Oh, remember this dip in the road?!”
“Look up ahead—the post office!”

Every familiar sight reminds us that we are in fact headed in the right direction, and with each reaffirmation our pace begins to quicken with some unexplained energy that I imagined would only show itself when I needed to rescue a baby from under a car. Like an old friend we had been separated with, there was the Deerhead Inn; while we had no clue as to what the Deerhead Inn was, we referenced it to almost every one of our unexpected guides. It was only fitting that the final leg in our journey was a short but remarkably steep hill that passed the Deerhead Inn and reached the parking lot, one final “fuck you” from Nature, she might have been a bitch but she certainly had a sense of humor.

It may not have been washed in a few months but on that late afternoon Hannah’s Scion shined as if waxed with angels’ wings. It still might be the most religious experience I’ve had to date. Once inside the car, in unison, we took a deep victorious breath. Immediately we could smell our musky natural scent, clashing with the synthetic smells of the car. It was horrible. I smelled like pine trees, dirt, and fresh air. My lack of energy was the only thing keeping me from rubbing my face against the man-made fabric of the seat, dousing myself in the artificially flavored drink and being able to breath again. No as we pulled out of the gravel parking lot I realized I would only ever be comfortable entering a mountain when I know I have a way out. And as we merged onto the highway and were greeted with a sign proclaiming, “FOOD NEXT EXIT – DAIRY QUEEN,” Hannah and I looked at each other, smiled, and realized we were finally headed in the right direction.

Friday, January 25, 2008

We Regret to Inform You...

1st rejection letter EVA, thus starting the new blog feature: "We regret to inform you.."

SUB: Your Submission to Ploughshares

Dear Writer:

We regret that the manuscript you submitted does not fit our current editorial needs. Thank you very much for sending us your work.


The Editors of Ploughshares

Aiming a bit lower next time and possibly at a more speicialized literary magazine. New Yorker maybe?

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Adventures of Uhler and Clark: Part 1

I've been writing this entry about a failed hike Hannah and I took while on break off and on for about a week. I don't usually write pieces in...well..pieces so I'm sure the grammer and spelling has reached a cosmic level of error, in addition this writing style made the piece surprisingly long and therefore I'll upload it in parts. It may be the only post i have that includes words such as "nature" and "hiking" so enjoy it...


Given the circumstances it’s not surprising that the mysterious man in the flannel was our guardian angel. Hannah and I, attempting to curb couch and cable TV addiction and make the most of our few slow days at home, decided to go on a pseudo adventurous hike. Trail directions from the Internet, matching Nalgene bottles, and functional yet fashionable hiking ensembles en tow we piled into the car and jokingly referred to ourselves as that couple who leaves the big city on the weekend for a refresher course in nature at an upstate park or mountain; only to come back on Monday, invite friends over for a $200 dollar cheese and wine spread accompanied by a digital slideshow so we can tell them how much we’ve changed and explain in great detail our deep appreciation for nature. A fate that seemed a little less like a joke as the man in the flannel gave a hearty laugh and said, “You really don’t have a clue as to where you are do you?” No sir, we don’t but help yourself to goat cheese and Sauvignon Blanc; it’s really something to experience.

Boredom at home could lead to much less noble pursuits: cataloging back issues of Seventeen magazine, tripping on cough syrup, or binge eating on homemade cookies. When Hannah and I decided to become active the Pennsylvania way and go for a hike in the mountains I just naturally assumed the experience would be pleasant, rewarding and completely successful; a sort of higher-power good behavior reward. Mother nature must have been PMS’ing pretty hard that day because no such reward was even slightly hinted at. We may have physically been on the Appalachian Trail but I somehow ventured off onto an unwavering trail towards Mountainous resentment.

The directions we pulled from an online article from a local newspaper told us to turn off of Mountain road at the Deerhead Inn and make an immediate left turn into a parking lot that is “not well marked”. “Not well marked” ended up being “not marked at all” and the only other car in the small gravel lot, a gray haired woman taking her canine companion for a walk, seemed startled at our arrival. A not marked parking lot led to a not marked trail, in fact many not marked trails. While the trails weren’t marked our directions said to follow the “old fire road” up to the summit. A name like that is essentially a description in and of itself and therefore I was relatively self-assured in my guessing of which “trail” to start up. We had lost the woman with the dog and now seemed miles and miles from any sort of human presence. I had no worries for I figured the only person we’d run into on “the Old Fire Road” was possibly Lassie, off on another rescue. We hadn’t been hiking long and were enjoying the steady incline and fresh air. My lungs seemed to be working on a new level, the unseasonably Autumn-like January afternoon gave the air a certain crispness that agreed with me.

“Hikes are great!” I exclaimed to Hannah.
“I’m so glad we’re doing this,” Hannah replied. She went on to describe other hikes she had taken on other monotonous breaks from school. I pulled out the phone I had gotten just a few days earlier, “Ohh I still have full service!”

The vagueness of the directions bordered on haiku-status, “When near the summit; the old road narrows slightly; take white-marked trail down.” At any sort of clearing I’d ask Hannah if this was the summit, the car ride equivalent to “Are we there yet?” Yet when the Old Fire Road did in fact narrow slightly I proclaimed triumphantly as if I was a seasoned explorer guided solely by instinct and experience, “Yup this trail’s definitely narrowing just a bit, we are going the right way! Just a little bit more till we hit the summit.”

Instinct and experience weren’t necessary; the sudden change in terrain was enough to signal that one was at a new point in the journey. Although the incline was barely any steeper, the fact that it was all rock made that last few feet seem a bit more monumental. No one would judge you if you added a few unnecessary grunts and groans, verbalizing a physical struggle that mostly likely never occurred.

“We made it!” we both proclaimed, my hand unfortunately carrying only my Nalgene bottle and not a flag I could triumphantly thrust into the earth. I let out a telling sigh as I looked out over the rest of the small nearby mountains, highways and Delaware River. You almost forgot that you might be looking at New Jersey. As Hannah continued her gazing I plopped down and ate a banana she had brought but didn’t want.

“It’s so pretty!” Hannah said loudly, being surrounded by a space vast enough to make any sort of cry seem small.
“It…really…mpfhhh…is,” I said mouth full of banana.
“Will this just compost?” I asked, holding up the peel. Hannah gave a nod and I chucked it behind me. I amused myself with the thought of a unknowing hiker stepping on the banana peel and having a hilariously exaggerated tumble down the Old Fire Road.

“Well I think we’ve admired all we can, we should head down,” Hannah said.
I took one last look at the majestic scenery and agreed. Hannah’s previous hiking knowledge confirmed that the Appalachian trail was marked with small white marks on trees, and since this was as concrete of guidance as we had, we decided to follow the white trail. Gazing at the sky with feigned understanding I stated, “Should have plenty of light left to get us down the mountain, we’ll be good as long as it’s light out.”

At the mercy of the Appalachian we moved from one white marked tree to the other, failing to ignore the newly discovered trail marker, “Why is there so many clumps of hair? I’m seeing these little tufts of animal hair on the trail. Should we be worried about bears?”

Having spotted them before but not verbalizing a growing guttural fear I provided the only appropriate answer, “No, that banana peel I threw out a while ago will act as a decoy. Either that or maybe the bear will trip on it.” In reality had a bear came anywhere near us our shrieks and screams would have either scared the bear aware or alerted any dog within a ten mile radius of our danger. I was banking pretty heavily on my Lassie and the Old Fire Road theory.

The directions had stated the trail downward as “more up and down, rougher terrain and longer but much greater scenery”. I reread the directions as I past white-marked tree number eight on a fairly level open trail that edged up and down with as much intensity as a kiddie coaster. I was getting worried. The majestic views we had admired earlier on the summit was following us. There was no real alternative option and every time I’d express my growing concern over our lack of decline, the trail’s horizon would appear to promise such a drop only to show us another equal incline immediately following. We had reached a commitment point and personal pride in conquering the summit that refused to let us turn around and back track down Old Fire Road. I couldn’t bare trekking down the Road and passing Lassie, moving in the opposite direction, giving us a shameful glare. I cannot be defeated by a fictitious dog again.

The vanishing dog-walker woman from the parking lot was the last human we had seen until a larger figure, and larger dog, broke the trail’s horizon. We walked as calmly as we could while debating in loud whispers the necessity of asking this approaching figure for directions. “We have to ask him. I’m going to ask him,” Hannah said convincingly.

His large Labrador approached us first, skipping right over the cordial handshake greeting, opting instead for the much more informal crotch sniff greeting. I gave a half-hearted chuckle and tried to pat/push the dog away.

“He’s a friendly dog. Maybe a bit too friendly,” the man in the plaid said, punctuating the statement with a boisterous laugh. While his plaid shirt and relaxed fit jeans failed to evoke comforting images of the L.L.Bean catalogue it seemed to signify that this man was comfortable with nature in a way that didn’t involve post-hiking cocktail parties and Thoreau comparisons.

“Excuse me,” Hannah said, “Do you know if this will take us down to the parking lot?”
“Parking lot?” the Man questioned.
“Yeah, down by Minsi Road”
“Well if you go up a ways and then bear left, its not a quick or easy trail but it will get you down to the Lake. Or if you wait up by that electrical station just a few yards ahead of you then I’ll take you down in my truck. I’m heading that way.”
“Oh and this lake is by the start of the trail? By the Deerhead Inn?” We half asked, half pleaded with him. If we sound desperate enough, it’s bound to be true.
“Deerhead Inn? No, no, I’m talking about Lake Minsi, the Deerhead Inn is the opposite direction. The Deerhead Inn? My god, that’s way off.”

Saturday, January 5, 2008

RERUNS: Even God Hates Creed

In the spirit of the writers' strike and mild laziness I'm adding a ReRuns addition to this blog, which is essentially just personal essays I wrote for school. Some of you have read them before, but I feel like most haven't and therefore they aren't ReRuns at all! in fact, they're probably better to read because they have actually been proof-read and gone through revisions. I'll start with my last essay for Intro to Non-Fiction class sophomore year because I just somewhat sheepishly submitted it to Ploughshares. This will result in a well-worded rejection letter from them but everyone needs to get their first-rejection letter sometime and you might as well start near the top. me when new episodes of the Office are on.

"Even God Hates Creed"

Even God Hates Creed
An Essay by Rodney Uhler

March 2007

Like a lonely, mid-class prostitute, I feigned pleasure for two hours for a fast seventy-five bucks. Although the crowd around me gave me an odd sense of comradery, the repetitive movement and the dulling of my senses made me question my decision. I imagined being confronted by my partner later in life; I’d turn around, grasp the granite tabletop and speaking in a shameful whisper I’d say, “I was a broke college student. I was desperate for money and it seemed like an easy way out.” Although the shame will follow me, I realize there is no use denying it. I participated in a Christian Rock consumer focus group for the money. I lied about my musical taste, my faith and subjected myself to bands with names like: Angels Wake, P.O.D (Payable On Death), Living Sacrifice and, of course, Creed.
I entered college with the expectation that I would hold out on getting a job until the second semester, so as to better acquaint myself with the college lifestyle and academics. I lasted a month. Having been employed since I was fourteen, and having the financial outlook of a paranoid accountant, I couldn’t handle spending money without the reassurance of earning it back. Although I was hired at a local retail boutique, my hours weren’t extensive and I was eager to make up for lost income. One of my suitemates, Zach, told me that he was participating in a music focus group he found on the popular internet classified site, Craigslist, and that compensation was seventy-five dollars. He copied down a number for me to call. “Intriguing,” I said as I rubbed my chin signifying my deep thought. People would pay for you to share your taste? Although excited, I was suddenly annoyed that I had been sharing my musical taste fee-free for years. Perhaps, one needs a focus group to provide justification for putting a price on cultural opinion. Perhaps, this focus group was my justification for charging for entertainment advice. “What did I think of the new Sam Mendes movie? Do I think Samantha Mumba will have a comeback? Five dollars please.” I wondered if this was the end to my money troubles.
Before I could contemplate my financial future I needed to see if there were still open spots. Notepad and pen ready for detailed instructions I dialed the number. The voice of a middle-aged tired professional answered. She briefly explained what a focus group was, and what my job would be in that process. Then she began throwing curveballs, “We like to know if any of your close family or friends work in the record industry or radio?” Thinking that my sister’s recent Capital Records internship would make me seem more experienced for the focus group I responded, “actually my sister works for Capital Records.”
“Ohhhh really,” her voice exhaling all hope in me. Catching on to the fact that I had given the wrong answer I backpedaled with the speed of Lance Armstrong,
“Well of course that was a while ago. And it was only an internship! She isn’t doing that anymore. Nothing like that.”
“I suppose that will be alright”
Before I could regain my composure, she threw a second pitch,
“So tell me about your interest in Christian rock music, Rodney,” she stated as if I had introduced myself by saying, “Hi, I’m Rodney, number one Christian rock fan!”
“Oh,” I was fumbling. “Well I do like rock music, and while I’m not the biggest Christian rock fan, I definitely have heard it before.” I was avoiding outright lying, while internally I was debating my pain-threshold for Christian Rock in comparison to my desire for some extra coin.
“But you like some Christian rock, right?” Her questions were now bordering on hints.
“Oh yeah! I mean I just might not be the most knowledgeable.” I tried my best to sound like a good Christian boy. I mentally reminded myself not to bring my “Gay Satanic Worshipers” magazine to the focus group. Most likely desperate to end her job, she said I was a good candidate and she’d email me directions.
Venturing out into a city I was barely acquainted with and armed with slightly vague directions I viewed myself as a modern day Columbus. My suitemate had a different scheduled time so I was co-pilot free. The directions had me venture off the main roads and into smaller, darker areas of the city. These were the types of areas where I imagined the phrase “That’ll teach ‘em” was often muttered late at night, which men from the Mafia considered “places of business,” and where young, supple Boston University freshmen girls were “last reported seen”. The temperature was brutally cold yet my increasing panic was overpowering my body’s discomfort. I pulled my jacket close around my body and wondered if this was a cruel prank by some intense Christians to punish me for lying about a faith I had no ties too. I saw what appeared to be one of those young, supple BU girls and tried to flag her down. “Excuse me,” I croaked out. She didn’t hear. “Excuse me!” I shouted, this time eliciting her to turn around, exposing a fear and distrust I rarely see directed at me. To her I was a potential rapist or sexual deviant. I was oddly ashamed but my desire to see this mission out and not accept defeat overcame her frightened gaze. Besides I was roughly her size and possess the upper body strength of a Girl Scout. I pulled out my directions and explained to her that I was pretty lost. She actually was a BU student and therefore knew the area pretty well. She pointed me in the right direction, probably mentally assessing my survival rate. Reading the BU newspaper the next morning she wouldn’t be surprised to see the headline, “Unknown Christian Rock Fan Goes Missing: Can Jesus Find Him?”
Like the light of heaven itself, my destination appeared to me in the form of an illuminated office building surrounded by a macadam purgatory. I literally sprinted into the building. Inside the lobby an easel was set up with a foam-core sign reading: VANGUARD CONSUMER RESEARCH, beneath the bold company letterhead were the words “Welcome Focus Group Participants” and an arrow pointing to a door directly to the left which featured a smaller version of the foam-core sign. I entered what looked like most doctors’ waiting rooms and made my way to the male receptionist seated behind a Formica desk. I signed in, and was given a group number and told it would be starting very soon. After finding my way to a thin, uncomfortable chair, I was ready to peruse the choice of magazines when a young woman stepped into the room from a hallway I hadn’t noticed, she called my group’s number. With slight hesitance I got up from the chair and looked around the room to see who my group-mates were. About seven males, all seemingly mute. We all silently followed the pencil-skirted young woman down the hallway and into a personality-less room. I was careful to remember the route we took in case I needed to make a quick escape. Through a slender window next to another door I could see my suitemate’s eyes fixed on something out of sight. I thought I saw a faint glow coming from the room, much like those described by victims of alien abductions, but I couldn’t be sure.
“Hi guys, and Welcome! My name is Kathy and I’m part of the Vanguard Consumer Research Group. At Vanguard we do all sorts of consumer research and focus groups on many different types of media, but as many of you know, today we will be focusing on Christian Rock themed music. Your input today will really have an effect on some decisions a new radio station will make, so get excited and I’ll explain how it all works…”
We would record our results on a 1-5 scale on a Scantron test, much like the ones that frequented many of my worst days in high school. The most physical activity involved was the perpetual shading in of tiny bubbles. We’d listen to about 30 seconds of a song and then record our opinion of it on the test sheets. The music was all programmed on a CD, so Kathy would only sporadically pop in to make sure there were no technological glitches, we had no questions, and to make sure we hadn’t attempted suicide via a sharp number 2 to the throat. At first I had the energy and enthusiasm of a loyal worker determined to earn my seventy-five dollars, regardless of my contrived interest, but like the small bubbles on the Scantron, my outlook gradually grew dark. The music was becoming one muddied mess of shouted vocals and guitar riffs. I would periodically glance up from my test sheet to see how the other participants were doing. Coincidence or not, it was all men in the room. Many were sporting casual attire such as hooded sweatshirts or layered t-shirts. Two dark haired, bearded thirty-somethings appeared to have known each other prior to our focus group family for they’d periodically whisper to each other. I began surveying the group and contemplating the reasons why each had decided to participate in the process. Was that man in the knit cap feeding a drug addiction? A knit cap worn indoors post twenty-five speaks highly of my theory but the rolled up sleeves on his button-down show exceptionally clean, needle-mark-free arms. Was the guy in the corner a new father in need of some extra money to buy gifts for his wife and daughter? Or for his mistress? Were any of these people actually fans of Christian rock? The man closest to me wearing a black band t-shirt that I couldn’t make out and black converse with neon-green laces could be a potential Christian rock fan, he seemed to show genuine enthusiasm during Kathy’s pep talk. The rest seemed to either be boarder-line unconscious or very interested in what was going on in the vicinity of their feet. While green-shoelaces-man was enthusiastic and had a fitting wardrobe, he could just be a more cunning liar. A professional focus-group fraud, perhaps? I seriously doubted that I was the only imposter in the group.
We were granted a five-minute break after the first hour in which I ventured back into the main waiting room. I wrestled a mint out of the surprisingly complicated candy jar next to the sign-in desk. After feigning activity on my cell phone, excusing myself to the building lobby as if the call was extremely private, I returned back to the room in time for Kathy to jump-start our musical adventure.
I suddenly realized that many of my bubbles were filled in towards the negative side, potentially exposing my fraudulence. I concentrated on picking answers that ran the gamut without seeming too contrived. Occasionally a random Coldplay song would come on and I’d suddenly feel better because I could give a truthful answer to a band I actually recognized. Ironically Coldplay was my savior in the Christian rock category, although I’m still debating their link to the genre. Was the song “Green Eyes” really about Jesus and not Gwyneth Paltrow? The only other band I recognized was Creed, a band fronted by the frequently shirtless and always creepy Scott Stapp. Their popularity in music coincided with the pinnacle of my poor musical taste. Besides their Top 40 hits, the only other opinion I have of the band came from a anonymous music critic; on my eleventh grade locker someone had written in black sharpie, “EVEN GOD HATES CREED!” I considered myself privileged to use that locker. I declined to share this sentiment with Kathy or the rest of focus group. The final CD played its last 30 second musical punishment and we were instructed to move on to the last, but comparatively exciting loose paper answer sheet where we circled names of bands we are familiar with or like. I circled a few based on creativity alone and left any with the words “Savior” “Damnation” or “Sacrifice” without circle or praise.
Filing back into the waiting room, spirits rose as the young male receptionist was now clutching a stack of envelopes that no doubt contained our financial reward. As if Army trained, we formed a tight line, stepped forward, gave our name and received our check. I tucked it safely inside my jacket and made my way out to the unnerving streets I had traversed before. With God on my side I made my way rape-free to civilization. Climbing out of the literal darkness and onto the streetlight filled neighborhood I felt as if I had spent years in the Vanguard prison, and would have to readjust to my newfound freedom. Waiting for the train I looked around at the others who were idly standing at the station. Were they silently judging me? I spotted one of the men from my group further down on the platform. We made brief eye contact. I wanted to exchange slight head nods that would show our brotherhood and reaffirm our unspoken link. Sometime in the future faceless radio executives will glance over a report that has a strong spike in approval of Coldplay music. They might question the participant’s faith or they might just increase the play count of “Green Eyes,” but either way I’ll know that my lack of faith and love of money will always overpower my better judgment. Check aside, next time God wants me to look through his CD collection, I think I’ll politely decline.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

the internet is as confused as i am

the banner ads on my myspace are still in french for some reason despite the fact that myspace clearly knows i'm back in the states for i'm online yet no where near a mcflurry; it is making this "transitional" periods even stranger and more difficult. rupert murdock owns myspace, this maybe a insignificant fact to my situation or it maybe horribly significant.