Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's just a boy with a guitar singing exactly what you want him to sing...

It's not easy to fool me.

I take pride in the fact that I'm not the typical sponge you see walking down the street everyday, subconsciously absorbing messages from the media, and thinking I have such wonderful ideas when in fact, they aren't my own. But even I, am not perfect, and occasionally I will buy into something simply because someone else tells me to. Facebook has been doing a wonderful job of this lately, by customizing the advertizing you see on your Facebook profiles based on your likes and interests which YOU personally provided them with when you created the profile back when Facebook wasn't as evil as it is today.

In my early college years, I didn't really think about how others could profit from my personal preferences. I became aware of this whole idea when I first signed up for a CVS card, which was supposed to give me coupons after every purchase. Being a broke college student, it sounded like a pretty good deal. After a few months, I realized that the coupons weren't random. They were based on products I had previously purchased, and CVS was monitoring my buying patterns so that they could better plan how to stock their store to be more profitable. Grocery, drug and clothing stores bank on the fact that your brain will automatically focus on "potential savings" than the real reason why they want you to sign up for their "discount cards." While you may be saving a few dollars here and there, you are providing them with consumer information that will help them plan how to market their products in the future.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that an entire genre of music could be the ultimate form of exploitation. The worst part? I never even saw it until now.

Everyone has different opinions of the "Emo" genre of music. Whiny boys with guitars, predictable hooks, power chords up the kazoo, and songs that sound the same. Of course, you can't forget the fact that the lyrics to each song aren't overly complicated, but have the power to tell a very clear story that never changes from song to song: Boy meets girl, boy gets girl, they hook up, either he or she has to go away, they separate, and one or both of them regret something. Allow me to provide some abbreviated examples of the Emo formula:

"Hands Down" by Dashboard Confessional
Hands down this is the best date I can ever remember,
Always remember, the sound of the stereo,
The dim of the soft lights,
The scent of your hair that you twirled in your fingers
And the time on the clock when we realized it's so late
And this walk that we shared together.

"A Good Night's Sleep" by The Starting Line
For a lack of better
Words to say
All I said was goodnight
Once again, in self-defence
I wont sleep a wink
To prevent dreaming of you
You can sleep in your own bed tonight
Sleep away
A silent pain
That's screaming out my name
You can sleep in your own bed tonight
I hope for your sake you don't wake up as broken as I am

"Miss America" by Something Corporate
And I don't care if you don't love me
And I don't care if you don't change
And I could live inside the shadow that I cast for you
If it meant that you would stay
And I'll be home before the morning comes,
You won't have to be alone
I will write this down for you
So you can read it
I will hold my breath for you
Till I can't feel it
You don't have to see me this way,
'Cause this way I'm okay
I will write this down

While each song is clearly not the same, they are all about the same thing. So why on earth does this genre sell so well? If you think the lyrics are bad, you're right. If I could post the music as well, you'd see how bad that is too. The industry knows that its target audience are females between the ages of 14-21, as most females have their heart broken more than once during this time. They also realize that these lyrics could easily be written in the pages of EVERY girl's diary in the world. While the lyrics aren't good per say, they are sensitive, which is why it's so easy to relate to them. I know I put myself into these songs, and pretended that each band knew what I was going through.

The real killer, however is that these lyrics are being sung my MALES. The average male in these bands isn't old enough to be able to understand the first thing about women, except that they have breasts and multiple orifices in which to put a certain body part. However, miraculously, the guys singing in Emo bands are sensitive, know how females are feeling, and aren't afraid to show their own feelings. Even worse? Most of these guys aren't remotely attractive. You put a guitar in their hands, and within a fraction of a second, they become sexy! This is a major turn on. I know, because I'm currently staring at my old CD collection, and cannot even believe that I have more than 32 CDs in the Emo category.

To sum up: The music industry uses Emo to make money off of girls by giving them hope. The music is so shitty, listening to it now makes me ill. It is simply a money making machine. Do you think there are actually males out there who wake up one morning and say "I want to be in an Emo band?"NO! They want to fucking rock out and make a lot of noise, but they're not good the record company changes the band around, gives them a song they're good enough to play, and PRESTO! A money-making machine.

My rant is done.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

It's just money in a jar...right?

Or maybe it's not.

Maybe there's another reason for a person taking a dollar, or two, or three out of their wallet, and putting it into my tip jar. And although I'll never really know the science behind tipping, I've begun to understand that it's not as simple as I once thought it to be.

I'll start with the average person's idea of a tip: the basic tip. Customer(s) orders a drink, I make it for them, they drop a buck in the tip jar, everybody's happy. I appreciate this kind of tip the most, simply because the customer clearly acknowledges my role in their quest for whatever night they're trying to have. They realize that I'm not standing there simply for their viewing pleasure, but in fact have a purpose! Unfortunately, I realized rather quickly that the "basic tip" concept had to be modified. There is an upper limit for a "basic tip." For example, if a guy purchases a $3 beer that only requires me removing the cap and leaves me more than a dollar in my tip jar, then it starts to get complicated. Typically, if people tip, they leave approximately 20% of the drink price. Most customers round up from sixty cents on a three dollar beer to a one dollar tip. But leaving more than that? That's grounds for my next kind of tip.

The ulterior motive tip is shady. This is when people leave me an abnormally high tip on a drink that did not warrant it. This kind of tip is usually left by the single men that are stupid enough to think that they can pick up the bartender. Every weekend it baffles me that men think that highly of themselves to believe that I will drop everything in my life, (including leaving my husband,) to date them. I've noticed that there is a strategy that comes along with leaving the "ulterior motive tip." Usually, they'll begin the evening tipping with the "basic tip." After scoping out the female situation in the club and they realize that there's no one to their liking, that's when they come back to me and ask me my name. They'll order a beer, or a mixed drink and tip about 50% of the cost, shoot me a smile, and say "thanks, Ally," making sure I heard that they got my name down. They'll come back several more times throughout the night, increasing the amount they tip exponentially, (I haven't determined if this is a symptom of mere intoxication or stupidity,) and finally go in for the kill about an hour before closing time. I get asked out, he gets told I'm married, he feels dumb, drunk and broke, I go home happy with his money.

Now, I'm not trying to scare men away from picking up women at clubs. It happens all the time. Some go home happy, some don't. For the guys whom are successful at getting females to dance all night, there are a few who end up having problems around 1AM when they realize that they bought a particular female way too much alcohol, and don't want to be responsible for her puking all over the place, falling down, or forgetting her underwear...somewhere. This is when they come to see me. I call this one the get me out of here tip. Usually, they bring the girl to the bar with them and order her water. They typically keep drinking alcohol...because, well...who wants to remember dealing with that mess? Now for the really interesting part! Similar to the "ulterior motive tip," I get way more put into my tip jar than the drink is worth. But this poor guy doesn't want to hit on me...he wants me to give him an out to get away from the girl who's playing with the saliva running down the side of her mouth! I'll admit, I helped a guy out once by telling him that he had left his headlights on just so he could get away from a woman. He's currently one of my regulars, and continues to tip me well on a weekly basis.

Finally, now for the kind I hate the most...the pity tip. I cannot even begin to count the number of times I've had to deal with drunk people ruining my bar set up by knocking down cups, spilling my margarita salt everywhere, spilling their drinks before they even taste them, being loud and obnoxious, and worst of all...blocking the front of my bar so that other customers can't get through. Now, the "pity tip" can come from one of two types of customers. The first would be a friend of the guy/girl who is being a pain in my ass. They are usually the designated driver, and they usually leave a nice chunk of change behind by the end of the night as their way of saying, "I'm sorry you had to deal with my drunk-ass friend." I welcome this type of pity tip because their friends are being responsible, and are aware that their friend(s) are acting like 4 year-olds, with the exception of excessive swearing and air-humping. The second way the "pity tip" can be given is by an OBSERVING customer. Sometimes others will be standing at the bar and witness other people being rowdy. Many times I've been slipped an extra couple of bucks because they feel bad that I'm a bartender. Now granted, money is money. But if I didn't want to be a bartender, I would have stayed at home. Don't give me money just because you think I could be doing something better with my time!

Clearly, I have thought about the science behind tipping way too much. However, it has helped me become a better bartender. Reading people is 80% of the job, and that is why I'm going to be a fabulous counselor in the future!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

First World Problems #1: Why I have a love/hate relationship with Victoria's Secret

Although this may surprise you, it actually makes perfect sense; all of the ridiculously hot models you see gracing the pages of Victoria's Secret catalogs and posing on poster boards in their stores are hand picked by WOMEN. Yes, Victoria's Secret "Angels" are supposed to appeal to women, although they have clearly become household names because of horny boys/men who do "naked pictures of ____________" searches on their computers while their girlfriends or wives are asleep. And yes, I speak from personal experience. (Note to self, do not wake up at 2AM wanting a drink of water and randomly go into your husband's office to see what he's up to doing so late at night).

Victoria's Secret is right. I do want to look like their models. They have sex appeal. They look confident. They are airbrushed. Their breasts look fucking amazing. According to them, I CAN have those breasts if I buy their bras. So I do.

They're right. My breasts look really nice. I'm happy. My husband is certainly happy. I've even fooled several of my customers at the bar that I have implants.

The problem arises when I have to take off the bra. I remember in college a while back, I was hooking up with one of my boyfriends at the time, and in the heat of the moment, I took my bra off. He proceeded to tell me, "no, leave it on." WHAT? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? LEAVE IT ON? It's probably the equivalent of telling a guy that he has a small penis.

Dear Victoria's Secret: Although I have caved numerous times due to your impeccable marketing campaigns by purchasing hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of your bras, each time I have to take one off, I am immediately reminded that no matter how much money you spend on making your products look like they're going to solve all of my tank top, tee shirt and strapless dress problems, you have yet to design an ad campaign that makes women feel good about what they've got once the bra comes off. I resent you for this.

My husband will never do a google search for Adriana Lima again.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Void

Oh, the obligatory first post. I'm having a flashback to my high school dancing days, where my dance teacher brought us into an empty theater and said, "this is an empty stage. How are you going to fill it?" It's an extremely complicated question for any artist, and I specifically remember staring at that stage and marveling at its size. The theater itself wasn't overly large, but the stage? In my mind, at the time, it was huge. How many bodies would it take to fill that stage? How would they have to move in such a way so that the stage was filled at all times? Ultimately, it was a trick question, as she was trying to get at a concept that is not easy for a high school student to grasp. When we began choreographing our own work, it became clear to me that sometimes a void is in fact, completely full.

Turning nothing into something is terrifying. As I sat down to write this, even before I was able to begin the first sentence, I convinced myself that this blog was a terrible idea. I am afraid, as I write this, that I will not be able to take this space, and turn it into something worthy of other people reading. I'm sure, that in 30 minutes I will have a philosophical crisis regarding what defines "worthy." All of this comes down to scrutiny. If I decide to turn this blank space into "something," that means it is subject to criticism. However, going back to the point my dance teacher was trying to make, it is possible that I don't need to be extremely profound in order to make a point. Empty space is deceiving because it is silently screaming to be filled. People usually try to fill it with something, because the unknown, or emptiness is very uncomfortable. 

When we move into a new house, we fill it with stuff. People's cubicles at work create mini shrines to their families. It appears that humans have this innate desire to create, to fill emptiness, even if others can see it. I think this drive to fill emptiness serves as a security blanket, and protects our self-esteem. Although terrifying, filling this void gives us an invisible pat on the back, so to speak, and makes us feel human, like we have a purpose.

In one of my Psychology classes last semester, we discussed "Terror Management Theory," which sounds completely fabricated due to its name, yet is related to this idea. It takes this thought a step further, and even says that people create because they are afraid of their own mortality. I urge you to read about it further here: Terror Management Theory

At this precise moment, I feel as though I'm entering a bad episode of The Twilight Zone. This blog is providing me with an unlimited about of blank space. What will I do with it all? I think the better question is, what will happen if I don't use it all? I think for now, I will do what I normally do when I have trouble filling this void. I will post a picture of my dog, Ella.