Wednesday, September 21, 2005


As some of you may know, I've been a bit poorly lately... the job situation improved last month when I was hired by the company Vividas to help run their production office. But even so, the cost of living is such that I have little to no breathing room in my extracurricular expenditures. Oh hell - even my primary expenditures are hampered by my lack of handsome salary which has given me cause to simplify my life whereever necessary. I thought it might be handy for those of you out there who are going through similar financial crunches to hear about some of these concessions I've made in the hopes that they might help you stay on top of your pocketbook.

1) SET SPENDING CAPS - ATM's have made obtaining cash and spending it easier than ever, but this doesn't mean you necessarily have the funds to back it up! One way to avoid the spontaneous ATM visit is to set a limit on how much you will spend during the week. It may be difficult and open up further compromises down the road, but if you agree to say, a spending limit of $2 between monday and Friday, you'll find so many unexpected rewards in sacrificing these needless impulses to buy crap! Mostly, these "rewards" take the form of the deep pride one takes in having accomplished something, no matter how trivial, and of having made sacrifices that one are normally not accustomed. The suggestions further in the list will make this seemingly impossible feat an easy ride!

2) MAKE YOUR OWN LUNCH - Since starting at my new job, I haven't spent one penny during my lunch break. How's this? By sticking to the regiment of eating my own lunches (most often two pieces of bread with something jammed in between) and eating it very slowly, I've managed to stave off any greasy, hi-fat desires that might tempt me. Just today, I ate my tuna salad sandwich over the course of 20 minutes by taking one bite per block as i walked around midtown on my break. That's roughly one bite for every 30 steps! Try it - I swear it'll create a new experience for you that you're unlikely to forget. I figured that I've saved over $100 last month alone by making my own lunch. Just think what that translates to for making my own dinner!

3) EAT RAMEN NOODLES - Ramen is sort of the bottom of the food chain all-purpose dorm food, but let's not deceive ourselves - it provides sustenance at a cheap price and the taste could be a lot worse. At least with Ramen, you know what you're in for and the results aren't too bad. Lately, I've gotten creative and added a splash of olive oil before serving. What a treat! There are plenty of cheaper eats to be found at your local neighborhood dollar store. Investigate and get creative!

4) DON'T SOCIALIZE - Living a social existence, while fundamental to our existences here in NYC, can be a costly endeavor. Just going out to a bar for drinks can run upwards of $20 in the course of an hour or two. Even finding supposedly "cost-effective" means to get together have all sorts of hidden costs ("I'll cook dinner, you bring the wine," etc.) Let's not forget that travel to and from your social destination will have some costs built into it as well. The simplest thing to do is to cut yourself off completely from the outside world as I have done and watch TV, read books and rent movies from the library, which brings me to #5.

5) USE THE LIBRARY - Sure, their DVD selection isn't usually the best, but take advantage of this and rent something that's a little off the beaten path. This is a great way to get to know some of the so-called classics that our generation so willingly ignores. Did you know that you can also place holds on DVD's at the library? Additionally, there's no shortage of great books out there that have not been digested by your lazy ass, so give it a try! It's absolutely unequivocally free to check stuff out from the library - the only costs incurred will be the late fees if you're too lazy to return the material on time.

6) RIDE A BIKE - In lieu of spending $76 a month on an MTA card (which is the minimum), getting around this city on a bike is not only environmentally conscientious and cost-efficient, it's exercise! And since you've now isolated yourself from your friends in an effort to cutback on expenses and are watching your free movies from the library, it's very important that you work off that couch potato fat with some healthy bike riding. Granted, if you don't have a bike there's an investment required but once that's out of the way, you'll be biking to and fro like a veritable Lance Armstrong! Take it from my girlfriend Jen Rock who works at a bike shop - biking is addictive!

7) SLEEP - Yes, this might seem like an obvious function of our lives, but it can also be used as a real dollar saver when you're applying it to daytime hours. Taking naps or going to bed earlier in the day can really save on the emotional duress that might sneak up on you when you're feeling out of sorts. Simply sleep your worries away and wake knowing that you just saved mucho bucks!

8) DISCONNECT YOUR UTILITIES - Sure, electricity is pretty much a given necessity in today's society, but do you really need cable to occupy your time? How bout that DSL line? These things add up quickly and you may find that not having them in your life can open up a wealth of other possible outlets, like walking! Start with the frilly stuff (i.e., the cable, the internet) then move on to more primitive ways of life when the time is right (the phone, the electric). It might not sound pretty, but it sure will save you some money!

9) SELL YOUR POSSESSIONS - One thing's for sure about the human condition: we love to collect junk! Tables, movies, volcano rocks - you name it, someone's gotta have it! But do you need the burden of this excessive and garish display of materialistic gain? Try cutting some stuff out of your life by either a) selling it or b) giving it away. You'll be happy to have the free space, the extra cash and I can guarantee you won't miss your things! If so, then we move onto option 10...

10) SUICIDE - The all-purpose money-saver of all-time. You can't spend money when you're dead, silly! Now, granted, you won't be alive either, but then again, your life was shit anyway so it's better to die with a balanced checkbook rather than a huge debt. If you're one of those people who loves life and would rather not call it all off, I recommend trying homelessness first. It's truley a lesson in humility and the money-saving techniques you'll learn in that lifestyle will beget a whole new list that I can't even fathom!

Well, I hope this helps all of you fellow miserly, socially disconnected people out there. I know it's certainly cleared things up for me!

See you in the afterlife!

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

My sister needs your help...

Hey everybody (though how many bodies are out there these days, i wonder). My sister Cynthia is participating in an online contest for Net10, the wireless company that let's you pay as you go! They're letting regular folks sing that classy net 10 song and having people vote on their favorite. She's been getting closer and closer to entering the finals, and now she's up against some cowboy dude. If she beats him, it'd be very cool 'cause that puts her one step closer to becoming a commercial superstar.

Now, you have to register apparently, for your vote to count, but you could do like me and just use a junk email account if you're worried about that sort of thing. It's no big deal and just takes a second and would bring joy to my rotten heart of black.

The contest, or this round anyway, ends tonight so hurry up and get in there!

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Review of "The Burning" (1980)

Cropsy "Our Hero" in "The Burning"

Oh, how I'd hoped that Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens, and Holly Hunter in association with the brothers Weinstein and Tom Savini were really gonna deliver an unsung masterwork of the slasher genre. But therein lies the trouble, "masterwork" should never be in the same sentence as "slasher genre" unless that's in the same sentence as "John Carpenter's Halloween." Even so, I went in with low expectations but, apparently, my expectations weren't low enough. "The Burning" sucks chunks.

The story, if it matters, is about a curmudgeonly summercamp groundskeeper named "Cropsy" who accidentally gets torched in the opening by a bunch of kids pulling off a lame prank. Ooops! Well, five years later, Cropsy is released from the hospital and takes on the manner of a professional slasher down to bad POV shots (replete with a Vasoline-fogged lense). His first stop is Times Square, where he murders a hooker with a pair of scissors, and from there, it's back to summercamp!

Now, since five years have passed, all the original kids involved in burning Cropsy are long gone, but that doesn't matter. After what feels like an eternity getting to know the kids (Get this - they're all pretty horny and one of the "tough guys" picks on a nebbish), Cropsy starts snipping away at the teens using his pair of garden shears. This was always one of the things that compelled me about "The Burning" was the image of those damned shears held up against the red sunlight, but it's always too little too late. Of the several murders which take place, only one scene stands out as a good piece of slasherdom that belongs in the pantheon of good summercamp teen executions.

Fisher Stevens and Jason Alexander - Fresh Meat

As for the various star-making turns to be found here, Jason Alexander has the biggest role, with a full-head of hair, providing the comic relief role as a camp counselor who also peddles smut and, in one scene, tries selling an oversized bag of condoms. Fisher Stevens, looking like he's 12, gets his fingers snipped off by Cropsy in the film's best scene and Holly Hunter has the memorable line, "Hey Todd!" The only other worthwhile mention is Brian Backer, who would get somewhat immortalized two years later as "Rat" in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" playing an introverted twerp who "likes to watch" but is only just misunderstood. Uh-huh.

I've allowed myself the indulgence of visiting some of these horror films that I missed out on in my youth, and this is mainly to quell the plague of curiosity in wondering what sort of horrors are tucked away within them. IFC was showing slasher films last month and so I was able to finally check out "My Bloody Valentine" (bad) and "Slumber Party Massacre" (so bad that I'd forgotten having already seen it). With a curious cast and a legendary production team behind it, I'd hoped this film could have been a standout in an era of Friday The 13th knock-offs, but at the end of the day, "The Burning" can't hold a candle to the original "Friday The 13th" or its sequel. And that's pretty scary.

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