Saturday, January 22, 2011

digital rape management

when i download music, i tend to do so legally. this is usually pretty easy considering that most of the stuff i listen to is available for free under a creative commons license and distributed through simple websites and hosting services.

but occasionally i stumble across a band i like that is actually selling its music. when this happens, i normally dont mind shelling out a few bucks for a digital ep. i like supporting musicians i dig. when this can be done through a netlabel or a simple hosting site like beatport or soundcloud, its pretty painless. but if its done through a huge conglomo such as amazon, itunes, or a shitty site like bandcamp, the enjoyment of the music and the happy feeling of supporting underground musicians is quickly overshadowed by the FUCKING LUNACY involved with downloading from these types of services.

yesterday i decided to spend about 25 bucks on 4 different eps from three different bands, all of which were hosted on one of the aforementioned sites. it is now over 24 hours later and despite the fact that i paid for the music, i still do not posess it. lets start at the beginning, shall we?

i start off by going to and attempting to download the black mass ep for five bucks. bandcamp uses paypal for its transactions, which is a huge mistake. not only is paypal notorious for stealing people's money, it is also incredibly annoying to use. i havent used paypal since the great ebay moving sale of 2006, and i've changed bank accounts several times since then. so when i try to pay for the album i get redirected about sixteen different times because paypal keeps trying to get me to log into my account to pay for this ep, instead of just allowing me to pay with the card i'm currently using. it expects me to give up all my new bank information as well as my phone number in order to "pay more securely", which would entail a bunch of typing, many redirects through "secure" connections and about 20 minutes of my time, all for a FIVE FUCKING DOLLAR PURCHASE. i finally manage to wade through all of that and bandcamp then gives me the slowest possible download speed after "preparing" my download for so long that i thought my browser had frozen. two hours and five hard earned dollars later i finally had my THREE SONG ep.

then i head over to amazon to get "the cold world melts" by soft metals. instead of just allowing me to pay for the goddamn thing and download it, amazon now expects me to download another ridiculous and useless program called "amazon mp3 downloader" so that i can "download songs straight into itunes and windows media player", which i absolutely DO NOT WANT TO DO because itunes is the most useless piece of music library software ever written, closely followed by windows media player. i want a zip folder to put on my desktop and i'll organize my own music folders thank you very much. so since i didnt want to download their stupid fucking program, i had to download the songs one at a time, requiring about 30 clicks of the mouse and 15 minutes of my time. then i had to manually download the cover art. another hour and five more hard earned dollars later i finally have the ep i wanted.

now, lets talk about why itunes sucks so fucking bad. not only is it one of the least user friendly products i have ever interacted with, it is slow as hell and suffers from the same problem all macintosh products have: you cant do what YOU want to do with it, only what THEY want you to do with it. once you get the music from itunes, you have to jump through all kinds of hoops to use the songs with any other program and you have to practically sacrifice an infant to some dark and obscure god to listen to them outside of itunes. there's also the fact that you have to have an itunes account to buy music from itunes. all of this is related somehow to their idea of digital rights management, more properly termed as digital restrictions management, ostensibly so that you cant share the shit with anyone else who wants to hear it. well, i didnt want an itunes account, so i used my girlfriends account and a gift card she had in order to download three eps: introducing: tense, another ep by tense that i forgot the name of, and an album by darktown strutters. i got through enough of itunes' bullshit so that i thought i had the three eps downloading. i kept getting the error message "the itunes store is unavailable. please try again later." then itunes promptly crashed. the next problem with itunes and with many appications these days is that there is a new version every week or so and if you're perfectly happy with the old version well thats too fucking bad because it just wont work anymore when you try to actually use it for something.

so tonight i waited for two hours for the new version to download and install so that i can start torturing myself again. after all this bullshit, it's no wonder people pirate the shit out of all forms of media. its not just because they dont want to pay for it, although that is a big reason, it's because there is so much bullshit involved in doing things the right way that it is just not worth 30 hours of my time and a bunch of my hard earned money for a couple five dollar eps. if i could have pirated these things, i would have by now. but i'm cursed by the fact that the bands i listen to tend to be so fucking obscure that no one is out there sharing their shit for free.

somebody bring steve jobs over here so i can pull his head out of his ass and replace it with molten iron while i enjoy his screams of pain. this is what i feel like when i use itunes, steve. like molten iron in my colon.



Saturday, January 01, 2011

rag time to riches

i thought that my post about the tdlr licensing exam would be long and detailed, but it's not going to be. take heart, ye beauty school wenches, for the test is not so severe. i wouldnt recommend taking an energy drink beforehand if you arent accustomed to caffeine, because that shit made me tremble like an old lady with ms.

in fact, during the first segment, the manicure on a model, i was trembling so hard after drinking a "hydrive" that i almost could not polish my model's nails. a combination of nerves, caffeine, guarana, and whatever else they put in those things made me shake like a quake in cali. it was at this point when i looked at one of the proctors and asked, "so, do we clean up now, or what?" to which she responded, "do what you were taught in school."

seriously? thats it? do what i was taught in school? in school i was taught to gossip and watch movies, to evade my work and do nothing at all costs. in school i was taught that you should never work for visible changes, and that you can shoplift from the nail supply stores. in school i learned that women in packs love to have pot luck lunches for any and all reasons, and that even if its your birthday and you want vietnamese then we're still going to panchos because by god honey "my stomach cant handle that chinese food."

in school i learned that most people drop out. in school, i learned that going to beauty school and working full time do not mix. i learned that it's incredibly difficult to keep up your clock hours while paying rent, taking care of babies, supporting your $100+ a week pot/drug habit (this was someone i met, not me, honest) or dealing with your parental or roomate drama, all of which could be taking place at once and still be non specific to one another.

i saw more people drop out than i care to even think about. but a few of us pulled through. having already botched an attempt at an AA degree in computer science, i wasnt about to let anything stop me from getting my cosmetology license. but so many people i met just werent ready to shoulder the boring, lengthy burden and get through it all.

anyway, i'm done now. i took my test. i was going to write a lengthy essay on the tdlr practical exam, its ins and outs and what you should and shouldnt do. but in the end it turned out to be a very simple thing. i'm pretty sure everyone passed, even with our various instructors from different parts of the state telling us myriad ways to do things. even if you didnt pay attention in school, if you at least paid attention to the testing criteria laid out in the candidate information bulletin from psi, you will pass. my instructor and school director had it right when they said that the written exam is the hardest part. it wasnt the toughest for me, as i can pass a multiple choice exam after glancing over the material. but for most peple, even the ones who had traveled to the test site from such far flung places as arlington, waco, and paris (tx), the easy part was the practical. we all packed our kits differently, did our practicals differently, and we were all nervous as hell. no one could even look anyone in the eye we were so damn skittish. but i'm pretty sure that everyone passed, even the girl who left a big wad of hair in the shampoo bowl.

i can sum my practical exam advice up to this:

dont talk to anyone for any reason.
work as fast as you can.
keep everything as clean as possible, and dont worry if something such as the floor is uncleanable (there was mad hair on the floor from the morning test [i took mine in the afterlunch] and they didnt give us any shit about it)
do everything as you were taught in school, and if you werent taught something, wing it and clean up as best you can.
pull the hair out of the drain when you shampoo your mona.

really, that is about it. i was so nervous i was ready to puke, and just by going through the motions and doing what i learned in school, i passed. with flying motherfucking colors. all of us did. i dont think anyone walked out of there without permission to apply for their license.

so roll in there knowing you will pass. if you made it through beauty school, you will make it through your practical. dont be any mnore nervous that you have to be. its super fucking easy. i mean, i did it, and i'm a listless drunk who will never amount to anything according to current statistics.

the hard part is finding the right spot to work once you have your license. i was really lucky in landing a chair at a cool local spot within bike distance of my house. the problem is, beauty school did not prepare me for the industry. i now have to work at a chain joint for a bit and settle for hanging out and answering phones at the cool shop til i'm ready to hit the floor. this is one of the things that damn near soured me on the whole beauty school situation. if you have to work while you're in school, you wont have the time to learn to do hair on your own, to practice the techniques of the sages and become good at your craft.

you see, the point of beauty school is not to learn how to be a cosmetologist. the point is to learn how to pass the stupid test. the whole fucking thing is one long, extended, incredibly boring, slightly brutal and very expensive hazing process. and the worst part is, once its over, unless you were blessed with the time and money to practice your craft while slaving away for free 30+ hrs a week, you graduate with ZERO idea of how to cut and color some fucking hair.

i landed a spot at a top local salon on my personality alone. thankfully, my sex worked in my favor FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER IN MY LIFE EVER because they really wanted another guy in the shop. problem is, i'm not ready to take on full price clients. i'm stuck working burger world like i have been my entire life until i can get my chops up and put highlights away in thirty minutes. dont even get me started on haircuts because i was never taught anything but the 90.

luckily the owner of the shop is willing to give me some time before i stand behind the chair theyre holding for me. even better, i managed to find a job at a franchise (fantastic slams) so that i can get the actual experience and make the mistakes i need to make before i start at the high end salon. i've studied a lot of message boards and talked to a lot of people and many will tell you to never work for a chain salon, that you should only work for the top-est notch place where you can apprentice and work you way up.

the brutal truth is that the people who do that DO NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT PAYING THEIR FUCKING RENT EVERY MONTH. i would absolutely love to work for practically nothing at a place that would teach me everything, but the simple fact is that i got my license so that i could pay my bills in a way that i enjoyed. i love the industry and the art and craft involved, but at the end of the day i am not going to sleep under a bridge for hair.

get through school, get your tests done, get your license, and take the first job you can get. learn everything you can and get the flying fuck out of there because you will probably hate great clips or fantastic sams as much as you hated waiting tables. but that first job is where you really start learning your craft, and no matter how low brow some people will say certain salons are, all of us start somewhere. john paul dejoria and vidal sassoon once had to work hard for their money. so it starts with us.

dont be afraid to take that first job, but never stop looking for the place that feels right for you. i'm lucky enough to have found mine, and they're working with me until im ready to tackle the floor. in the meantime i'm going to chop up some kids and old lady heads at fantastic slams. i can only hope that anyone who reads this finds their sweet spot and lands that job that they feel comfortable in.

the penis, mightier than the sword.



never start for a salon such as visible changes, which makes you sign a contract which says you will pay for their education and/or work for them for several years, unless you know you want to be there. i had quite a few friends from school start at VC and quit within a week because of its stifling atmosphere and codgy management. the best education is always free, and any salon who expects you to pay for it after you already shelled out 5-10,000 for beauty school is just a fucking scam. find your education where you find your niche, and/or find it in a place where there is a ton of business no matter what, and your mistakes wont matter.