Celebrity Shot: They Still Serve Beer in the Ivory Tower

Screen shot 2014-01-29 at 1.11.45 PMHappy new year to you all and welcome to the first Celebrity Shot of 2014! To start off the year, I  let someone else take the reigns on a topic that is unfamiliar territory to me. Personally I’d rather put forks in my eyes than go to grad school, but the consensus of my Masters-clad friends has been positive experiences. Colin Grace, current law school student and therefore prime Dementor meat, gives insight to what really goes on behind the Ivory Tower that is “further education.” (Read more about Colin here.)

I write this story snug in the cozy bosom of my parents’ house, putting in more mileage on my Netflix account than I care to admit. My first semester of law school is in the books; I’ve retired this semester’s textbooks and am watching my beer gut expand thanks to my parents’ fully stocked pantry. After four years of undergrad I have this routine down to a science (although nowadays I spend most of my breaks like some kenneled puppy waiting for my friends to get out of their real people jobs so we can play a game called drink the beer). For all you post-grads or soon to be real-worlders, I have some exciting news: the Ivory Tower won’t necessarily push you baby birdies out of the nest to fly out into society just because you got handed one measly diploma. You can stay as long as you like… for a price; however I’m in no position to weigh the pros and cons of your decision to stay in higher education. There are better writers with much more evidence and sources to cite, and that sounds like a monumental pain in the ass. What I can offer you, dear reader, are a few observations from my own experience.

From the first day your poor mother pried you off her pant leg outside the kindergarten classroom until you’re handed a college diploma, your academic career follows a pretty set path. The thing about grad school is that some of your potential classmates actually did the whole real world thing and came back, which suffers some consequences.

Older classmates will not share the same affinity for Busch Light and screaming the lyrics to “Take Me Home Tonight” at karaoke night on a Tuesday. This serves to help shatter the illusion of your own indefinitely extended college career. Later in the semester when the first few salvos of shit hit the fan, you’ll be grateful for the lack of bad influences and arm twisters. But in the beginning of the semester (when you still half heartedly believe your reading is optional) these people are a group of major disappointments. But hey, they’ll attend the first few parties and it’s probably a good thing to learn the ins and outs of adult conversation.

Grad school parties DO in fact have potential to be entertaining affairs. For the seasoned partiers of undergrad, a get-together in a bar organized on Facebook is pretty standard fare; however, many  potential classmates attended small liberal arts schools or come from other countries and have now found themselves in unfamiliar territory resulting in at least a few grad students who get far too drunk for their tolerance and pull a few moves we haven’t seen since our freshman year move-in weekend. Awkward icebreakers, truly terrible dance moves, and horrific displays of face sucking are enough to separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of the straight-through socializers you need to align yourself with.

If you’re like me and are more inclined to 80s music and questionable shot concoctions than coffee houses and discussions of neo-Marxist feministic social paradigms, I would urge you to find a core group of similarly minded folks because you will have them to rely on. These people will more or less be a scaled down version of your undergrad glory days. This is not the prettiest nor the most romantic outlook on grad school but hey, it sure as hell still beats a real job, right?

(Read more about Colin here.)

Celebrity Shot: Party Playlists

I’ve wanted Mindfire to be more than just me sitting at my laptop telling you how great/not great it is to be a post-grad. So when Alex Ernst confronted me at Es Tas (the best place to confront me about business, really) I couldn’t turndown his idea to guest-post. Thus, I’m introducing a new section to Mindfire: Celebrity Shot. The story idea and the writing both come from someone other than me. Today’s Celebrity Shot comes from Alex Ernst, as he informs us how pre-game and post-game playlists change after you leave college. Or, more accurately, how they don’t.  (Read more about Alex here.)

Music is the pinnacle of any night of fun. From what I can tell, all music choices follow a pattern throughout the night. Allow me to enlighten you: The night is early and the pregame is fresh. At this point, you aren’t sure if you are really going all in. You start off with beer, knowing that leaves you with the option to saunter off, throw on the $9 sweats and watch New Girl.

Then the music starts.

First up is the Top 40s. We’re talking about the Lana Del Rays and the Aviciis of the world. They’re songs we’ve been jamming to for a while, but that are just ratchet enough to keep us coming back for more. This phase is the quickest. We lose interest with these top hits as soon as someone has the audacity to throw on “All the Small Things” by Blink 182.

As soon as  Mark, Tom and Travis enter the arena, the night is poised for a change. The option to not go out has just been power kicked off the table. These are the songs that have shaped us during our impressionable adolescence. This song choice has sent everyone scrambling to play their favorite sing-alongs. This is when “All Star”, “Butterfly” and “Sweet Home Alabama” are blaring over the cheap speakers (because we still can’t afford nice things.) The bars are going to have to wait for 30 minutes.

[Side bar: God bless the smartphone's ability to connect to bar's music players. It's good for us, but bad for one of our drunk counterparts who's made the power move to sign up for a Touch Tunes account.]

Tired of spending money, we come back to a nice-ish apartment. This is the portion of the night that song verses go wayside and the chorus reigns supreme. From this point on we will be able to sing only a solid quarter of the song, but that will not blind us from the ultimate goal: raging our faces off as we belt the lyrics to a song that came out before we had any idea what raging our faces off meant. We’re talkin’ “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark or “Jump Around” by House of Pain. Now you show me someone who says they know all the lyrics to Jump and I’ll show you a liar; I’ll show you a bold faced liar. We aren’t out/can’t be in public anymore. We’ve collected a posse of friends and have gathered in a living room with a half empty bottle of Fireball to tide us over. And if we are being honest with ourselves, another few drinks of that cinnamon shit will knock us to the mat… but for the songs and our souls… we must persevere. Some are singing, some are dancing, some are just talking to each other; but if you think this is the genre to really take it up a notch, you couldn’t be more wrong – because here comes “Drops of Jupiter.”

We are a collective unit, screaming the lyrics louder than Train had ever intended and bringing us into the next phase of music. And it can’t get better than… oh wow is that Goo Goo Dolls. Not one person knows the words to these 90s songs, but every word flows as if we studied the lyrics like a midterm. Next phase: the danger zone.

The danger zone is where the details become unclear and the decisions become a little (a lot) worse. The rooms is quiet and all you hears is “you are my fire… the one desire… believe when I say.. I want it that way.” Everybody loses their mind because DAMMIT WE DO WANT IT THAT WAY. It’s the kind of song that you didn’t know your heart wanted so desperately, until you hear it.

So we’ve made it to the end of the night. We’ve cruised through the top 40, the sing-alongs, the 90s favorites, and everything in between. Until… someone changes the song to the undisputed #1 drinking, sing-along, hit of every post-grad’s life: Remix to Ignition. We’re hit with confusion and then relief as R. Kelly assures us that he usually doesn’t do this. The same singer that sings the emotional “I Believe I Can Fly” from Space Jam has just sent you into a drunken stupor that should bring upon the second prohibition. You take the final “bounce bounce bounce” as a command and head back home, singing yourself to sleep.

If you’re thinking about taking a Celebrity Shot, give me a shout!