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Monthly Archives: September 2009

The editor I work with is pretty awesome: she has a bunny and she’s done some amazing edits for her publishing house and for my resume. She actually had me write up a cover letter she could look at, too. It was kind of a weird assignment, though, considering that she had me write a cover letter to any publisher about thier currently unavailable position. I surmised this probably meant something like Editorial Assistant, Assistant to the Publisher, Assistant to someone’s assistant, Copyeditor, Assistant to the Coffee-Fetcher, etc and went with that angle.

When she read the following, she told me the secret to the year’s past unemployment in the field of my heart’s desire: “This is a good cover letter, but these don’t go to the editors. You have to get it past HR and they generally scan cover letters looking for the words that were posted in the job advertisement.” I asked her why they couldn’t be trusted to figure out that I’m good at writing after reading what I’ve written, but it seems that deductive reasoning is not one of the tasks of HR.

One of my coworkers at the house (and probable member of my Top Ten Favorite People in the World list) called it “ballsy.” I figured maybe that’s exactly why I haven’t been getting too many job offers, but everything in it’s also 100% true. Usually my cover letters aren’t this bold, but I kind of went for space fillers about my awesome levels because I couldn’t tailor my awesome to a job description.

Anyway, I’ve decided to post the letter here for a couple of reasons:  1) I won’t be showing it to any employers, B) I can make fun of my self more and 3) this way it won’t be relegated to the forgotten recesses of my hard drive.

[My Address Line 1]
[My Address Line 2]

September 8, 2009

To Whom It May Concern:

My dad raised me on books and the blues. He and I both agree that, after living in New York for over a year, the only mistake I’ve made was never attending a Les Paul performance while he was alive. Les invented the majority of modern music recording and performing and I sit in my room and local libraries reading books and listening to music. Both DeLillo and Easton Ellis were published by the age of 23 while I¹, at the same age, write songs that I show only to my best friend from high school² and at least two cover letters a week that I show to just about everyone: I don’t want to be a published author, I just want to work for you [Ed note: Notice how this is two things: very nearly a run-on sentence and very nearly a desperate plea. “I have no idea who you are but I really want to work for you. My writing will improve, swearsies.”]

My writing skills are in tip-top shape these days and my interpersonal skills are exceptional mostly because my mother trained me to find most things hilarious. While my dad was teaching me the importance of words and chords, my mother spent all her time teaching me to laugh, to keep neat and to be nice. (Emasculating though it may be, I still refer to myself as nice because other people are ready to use that adjective to describe me before I am.) I train to keep my vocabulary on Formula 1 levels by finishing an AM New York crossword puzzle Monday through Friday and by occasionally losing myself in a game of Connect the Dots [Ed. note: This should probably be lowercased.] with the Webster’s Fourth Edition Collegiate.

Beyond my free time, my resume illustrates that I have professional experience in the publishing industry that has not forced me away. Rather, my internship at Hatherleigh has proved, time and time again, that I belong in publishing and not in retail. Don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for my managers and I frequently enjoy what I do, but I simply cannot go on knowing more about panties and bras than girls do for the rest of my life. I think it kind of feels like cheating, like I gained vast amounts of knowledge without any effort.

At any rate, I would like to request an interview at your earliest convenience. Should you require any clips, sample edits or recommendations [Ed. note: In the future, this should be “references.”], please feel free to let me know. I tend to answer phone calls made to [my phone number] and it has become a recent habit to return all emails sent to [my email address].

Thank you for your consideration,
Chris [Ed. note: With balls this big, you could sign it, “Thor,” and they’d probably call to make sure you know you’re signing your letters with your alter ego’s name. Or that someone else has clearly written your letter for you. We’ll see, but, more likely, we won’t.]

1. Ed. note: …and Keats was dead at 25. So what? Quit procrastinating, shithead.
2. Ed. note: Whoah, little personal. Cheer up, emo kid.

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As I type this very sentence, I’m in the middle of my fifth full listen to of the Blueprint 3. Let me tell you why I think this thing is good.

For all his talk about “the Sinatra of my day/ Old Blue Eyes my nigga/ I did it my way,” I think Jay-Z may have finally delivered on his promises. Well, I don’t think it’s a perfect album but it definitely comes close; it’s a throw back to when albums were vinyl and when Side A could be a different experience from Side B.

Songs one through eight have a completely different feel from the last seven songs (which, coincidentally, is about as evenly you can split a 15 song album two ways). The production on the first eight songs, although done by mostly the same crew as the latter half, feels more modern and kind of like what every rapper is trying to do these days. The guests on the first half are all well established performers (Drake is a newcomer but he’s kind of a big deal already with two singles everywhere while Luke Steele is kind of a big deal in a different country). On the other hand, all the new kids (J. Cole, Kid Cudi, Mr. Hudson) are on the second half and the production feels like it’s more in the background—the lyrics carry all the weight on Side B.

And that’s actually where the separation becomes most clear: the first half deals with Why It’s Awesome to be Jay-Z and the second half is about Why Everyone Else Can’t be Jay-Z. The second song on the album (“Thank You”) is pretty much diametrically opposed to the second to last song on the album (“So Ambitious”—and if it’s not “So Ambitious,” then it’s probably “Hate”). Where he’s willing to thank the fans for support, he’s also willing to rub his success in his greatest detractors’ noses. The first song (“What We Talkin’ About”) is kind of a summary of Young Hova’s life while the last song (“Young Forever”) is an envisioning of what “Young” Hova wants to be remembered “Forever” for. That is, the first song is an explanation of why he’s on top, why it’s good to be Hova, while the final song is an example of an amalgamation of his best days that all these other crab-ass rappers can’t even dream of having. Death to y’all!!!

But I digress. I’ve touched on the production but I really need to flesh out my thoughts a little here. When you have an artist as prolific as Jay-Z, you tend to expect a little bit of taste, perhaps class, in the music supporting his rhymes. He is not a musician, but rather a lyricist; however, as one of the best—if not the best—living rappers, and with his obvious love of music, it’s pretty clear that he can choose a good beat and, as such, a good producer. Let me give you my favorite case in point from this album: Timbaland, quite possibly a top five rap producer member for…all time, has two tracks on this album and each is on different sides. “We Off That” is typical Timbaland in top form, a club banger and plain old solid song reminiscent of his earlier work on “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.” Yet, his other song “Venus vs. Mars” oddly does not feature his voice in the background, generally seen as his trademark (N.B. his voice in the intro of “We Off That” when he hilariously responds to Jay-Hova with a solid “I gotcha Hov”). As noted in the previous post, Jay-Z even coaxes a thoroughly enjoyable performance out of Swizz Beatz on “On to the Next One” and, for the first time, The Neptunes are not in top form Side B’s “So Ambitious.” It truly pains me to say it—since I’ve been enamored with Neptune production for at least seven years now—, but I just don’t like this song. What I mean is, even in his ability to choose immaculate beats, he can bring both spectrums out of a producer—their best or their worst. Let me ramble further: “Hate” is produced by Kanye West (who not only produced the majority of the album but provided two guest spots and even Executive Produced the entire fucking album) and is the least enjoyable song on the album for me. I have to say, two of the least enjoyable songs united in their relegation to Side B is no subtle hint to me—Side A=Jay-Z dwelling on his grandeur, Side B=Hov wallowing in his angry place.

Yet, you should not misinterpret this statement: I respect both sides of this album and aspire to such greatness and quality of thought. The unity comes from the overall theme: Jay-Z has developed from the misguided and sloppy “Returning Hov” into a “Grandpa Hov.”

Again, don’t get too excited—let me explain myself. Everything pre-Black Album was mostly coke- and word-hustling. He had crafted a niche for himself no one could argue about: he was “Rags-to-Riches Jay-Z,” “Crime-Do-Pay Hov,” “Walking-Rhyme-Dictionary, One-Take Shawn Carter.” Then he hit The Black Album, a monumental album where he was faced with a simple question: What happens when there’s no competition, you’ve franchised and, as far as money goes, you probably could have retired like four albums ago? This is, quite frankly, an amazing question to ask oneself when all your stories are about illegal life and you’ve been clean for probably ten years (I have no information to back that statement up). So he sat down and gave a listen to his own song and realized that “Gangsters don’t die; they get chubby and move to Miami.” Sure, he didn’t say it on that song and Scarface said it first, but the point is that he decided to retire.

When he realized that he loved music too much to retire, he came back with Kingdom Come. And then everyone hated him; he went from an awesome album to a collection of songs about why he was back to reclaim his place in rap…because he was old. Fairly reductionist, but his message was that he didn’t have to sink to anyone’s level because he was above them because he was older. And that’s the problem with this album—he had to come back because he’s above them. No one cares about how old the man is, or how he lives like a trust-fund septuagenarian in his chauffeur-driven Maybach. We just want an angry, directed Shawn Carter who 1) knows how to rap and 2) knows more about rap than us.

So then he came back with American Gangster and everyone was thoroughly shocked: After that last piece of crap, he did this? He did an amazing set of songs that were thematic, cinematic and on point. The only thing that was missing was that he hadn’t really crafted a new persona—this was the resurfacing of “Crime-Do-Pay Hov” while he collected himself and gathered his minions.

And then there was Auto-Tune, Barack Obama and beef in general. Hov realized he had to address, even if minimally, the things that just plain old piss him off. Not that Obama pissed him off, just that he inspired him, gave him what appears to be a reason to just slay all you kids and your goddamned Auto-Tune. You kids and your sub par rapping skills. You kids and your doubting. You kids and your social-ladder climbing.

And thus, on Blueprint 3, Jay-Z debuted his curmudgeonly “Grandfather of Modern Rap” persona. And then slayed all you stupid fucking kids with a real fucking album. Enjoy the singles, shitheads.

[Edit: As I finish this, I also finish my sixth full listen to the Blueprint 3. Dedication.]

Holy Shit! Swizz Beatz didn’t fuck up a track!!!!

After discovering that movies are $6 at my local theater if the showing time is before noon, I’ve seen a shitload of movies in the last week. Out of Ponyo, Extract, 500 Days of Summer and Inglourious Basterds, I found the latter the most entertaining for a number of reasons, the most important of which being the quality of the dialogue.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Ponyo: the animation was spectacular and the story was cute, but the dialogue felt weak. My limited experience with Japanese (one year in high school) leads me to believe that filming was faced with a-less-than-tip-top translation. But I have no information to confirm my suspicions, just a general impression caused by some choppy dialogue. There were parts where Soske—the main character no less—would say something that felt like he, in two sentences, had just addressed two different thoughts. Not in a list or anything, it just sounded like he couldn’t express his ideas effectively. I guess I’m also a little bitter because it’s a love story about eight year-olds and I was the only person there who wasn’t a kid or didn’t have a kid. (Definitely felt like a pedophile for watching that movie.)

On the other hand, when I saw Extract, I didn’t leave hiding my face, I left just feeling a little let down. I loved Office Space and the first ten minutes of Idiocracy, so I guess I went in with really high hopes for this movie. I also think I might be in a one-sided relationship with Kristen Wiig, but that’s neither here nor there. I hope this doesn’t spoil too much for you, but the movie starts the same way it ends. We have a character who owns an extract plant and at the end of the movie we have a character who has gone through a whole bunch of unfortunate events but has decided to continue owning an extract plant. Sure, he pays a gigolo to have sex with his wife, one of his employees loses a testicle to the great joy of just about everyone in the audience (Nut jokes! Extract! Huzzah!), but at the end of the day, he emerges from this movie as the same man from the beginning. For me, that outweighed great lines like, “Why is it that women always say they want a smart, funny man then they just go and laugh at all the things the dumb, attractive ones say?”

And then there was 500 Days of Summer, where the only thing that gave me any hope was the last two or three minutes. Seeing as I spent most of high school living the same way the main character did, it made me more than a little uncomfortable. I’m not really a fan of The Graduate or anything, but I definitely shared a large amount of his views on romance (there is only one woman for me) and treated women in a similar manner. I…just wanted to yell at him, “Don’t be a fucking idiot” the entire time. Then I would remember that everyone else in the theater also payed $6 to enjoy this movie so I didn’t want to ruin their viewing experience. Damn near every decision he made, I was came close to mumbling, “Listen to her, you asshole. LISTEN to her. She said she didn’t want anything serious. If she wants to, she’ll make it serious.” When he went on the blind date after Summer had broken up with him, all I could think was, “Dude, shut the fuck up. It’s entirely your fault. This girl doesn’t care about Summer. Shut the fuck up. Now she hates you. Shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up.” The only thing that kept me from walking out was the general impression that the dialogue could still be solid beyond this point and that this kid could learn from his mistakes. Luckily, the end seems to imply that there is hope for douchebags like us.

Then, of course, none of these movies had shit on Inglourious Basterds. Sure, the preview gave everyone (myself included) the impression this movie would follow the Basterds around France as they beat the shit out of Nazis. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised to find a healthy mixture of All about Eve and Reservoir Dogs. I found this to be an incredibly oral imagining of vengeance that, in all 5 chapters, began with people talking in an increasingly tense environment leading to a climax of absurd amounts of violence. (Case in Point: “Chapter 4: Operation Kino.” Don’t even get me started on how fucking awesome that chapter is or how amazing Christopher Waltz is in this entire movie. 4 languages? Get the fuck out. Seriously. Get the fuck out.) It was like five intertwined vignettes that, in telling one story, all mirrored the importance of dialogue and violence to the movies while being about the movies. Thus, I see it as a hyper-violent All about Eve that the kids can love too, because Hitler’s face gets shot the fuck up, son! I really do mean that as a compliment: All about Eve just might be the best movie I’ve ever seen and all it is is dialogue about movies.

You should find yourself a nice theater, too. It’s totally worth it, I promise.