Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Women In My Life (kinda)

Some music reminds me of people I know. Some people's personalities remind me of artists I listen to. I think we've all experienced this a little bit. Everybody has their jam that reminds them of their very selves (or at least how they perceive themselves, like this one guy I was in the MTC with who associated himself with "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief," a song about Jesus). I too have personal anthems written by people who have never even met me. An odd habit I have when I hear music for the first time is that before I find personal connection with the song, I heavily critique it as an art. I feel like I have a bad habit of also doing this with actual people.
Here's a quote that kinda confirms this theory.

"How we interact with art is a microcosm of the way we interact with the world" 
--Carl Wilson

So there you go, folks! I'm just a big jerk. Before I try to relate to you, I'm probably just incessantly judging you within. But continuing with this art/real world theory, I think I'm on to something. I listen to a lot of music, but have no one favorite band. I have a lot of friends, but no best friend. I'm always comfortable with this fact until I get reminded by (all) my favorite compatible couples: 
"I married my best friend!"
I'm out, man.
Anyways, once in a while people will ask me what I'm looking for in a girl. And I still haven't actually answered that question. I don't really need to. Simply, if you were to ask me what I'm looking for in an album, my answer is always, basically, personality.
Now, everybody has personalities. And although I don't have a specific favorite artist, there are some I like more than others; artists whom I, Scott E Hall, connect with. Despite my habit to judge, I have a sense of my own interpersonal relationships. It would be stupidly impolite of me to go over the relationships I have with actual individual women I know. And it would be just stupid if I went over my critical relationships with women whose music I listen to. But that-- that second example-- is what I'm gonna do today! Here are five girls I've been interested in lately.
The women in my life.

Courtney is the girl I want to like, but I always find myself falling short of emotional interest. Courtney has a lovably dry sense of humor and has a similar socioeconomic background to mine. She sings about relate-able topics in stream-of-conscious rambling. But every time I think I'm interested, I start listening to her, and I can never add anything to this list. I have this great short list of reasons to like her, but those are the only reasons I have. I wish I could find more, but my ideal falls short by just a couple dynamics. Courtney is always my "almost-girlfriend."
And yes, for the record, she has beautiful blue eyes.

Julia is the girl who's out of my league. I am legitimately intimidated by her world. She has all these complex arrangements and ridiculously studied-out themes. Her voice is so elegant, but too wise to be considered fragile. Not only can she do everything she wants, she actually does everything she wants. She's incredibly smart and I freaking love it. She's just so much obviously more mature than I am. I'd ask her out if I didn't think myself so incompetent in contrast to her.
I kinda feel the same way about Joanna Newsom.

I have a crush on Angel Olsen. I freaking love her voice. Her songs remind me of 60s garage rock, but are also kinda pan-fried... I don't know. It's a cool. And it's weird, because I knew her 2 years ago and I wasn't interested at all! She is somebody totally different! And so am I! We're only human! I just need to know more about her. I know she used to sing with Will Oldham and made some creepy, minimalist country album. Then she got into some iffy lo-fi lounge rock stuff. But she kinda just exploded into my life this year like a missile of passion come down to earth, and I need more.
And yes, okay, she is absolutely gorgeous! How could you not be attracted to this woman? She's only 3 years older than I am, so I'd like to think there's hope for me.

I still remember the first time I heard Solange. I watched her perform "Sandcastle Disco" on Letterman in 2008. It was funky, she had an afro, I loved it. A Seat At The Table is an individualistic statement that proves her independence. She has this righteously outspoken political opinion, and yet as much as she demands to be heard, she can bring me to tears all the same. Solange is the girl who creeps back into my life every couple of years, but can disappear to a new country with a new hairstyle and a new guy any time she wants. (sigh) She's the girl I fall for too easily.

Victoria has a "guy." Unlike the artists listed above, Victoria isn't a solo artist. She's the lead singer of the two-piece dream pop band Beach House. They are one of my favorite bands, and of course the other band member is a dude. They're not dating and they've never dated, but they're always together and I'm jealous. He's practically the perfect guy, but he's an idiot for not making a move on her. I listen to Victoria all the time, and yet, it's like I don't know anything about her. Her life always sounds so mystical and intriguing to me, but her persona comes with a darkness and a distance (must be all the reverb). Some think she distances herself, but to me, Victoria is the mystery I long to solve.

You know, after writing this, I don't think I want to get married. But I'll keep listening to new artists and meeting new people anyway.
That was a really cheesy ending.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

I Am About To Go To A New Year's Eve Dance

Well folks, it's New Year's Ever. And for the 9th time of my life, I am in Jerome ID. And I will be attending a local church dance.
This doesn't sound as bad as it may seem to some of you. There are 2 sides of Scott when he goes to dances. I'm not too proud of either of them. I am either the most reserved, cynical person in the room. Or I dance so maniacally that people question my sobriety. I usually mix a little of both. Here are my predictions for tonight:

--I begin standing by the snack table questioning my existence and why I came in the first place.
--I will then find, like, 2 people I know and chat for 5 minutes.
--After about an hour, the DJ will play a song I actually like and I spend the rest of the night pretending like I love every song and I just overact every terrible dance move beyond all reason, staining my shirt with sweat.
--I'll enter the center of a dance circle practically heaving the floor and the crowd loves it.
--By the time 11:55 hits, I get really tired and forget the members of my central hangout circle.
--I leave at 12:01am and drive home the long way, pondering my New Year's resolutions.

Who knows. Maybe just because I wrote this, I will have the exact opposite experience.
I don't think I can think of myself at dances without thinking of the music of LCD Soundsystem or the many personalities of their main guy James Murphy. When those speakers blast some synthetic beat, he becomes my spirit animal on multiple levels.

"I love you, but you're bringing me down."

"I'll show you the ropes, kid!"


"From this position, I will relax."

Anyways, for all my friends who see my there, please try to help me enjoy leaving my comfort zone! And please, enjoy the sight of me making a fool of myself! I can't believe I'm 26 and I'm still the same guy I was in high school at the same dances that I went to in high school... but here I go again. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Boy-Turned Music Snob Listens to Coldplay Album for First Time in 8 Years

In 2008, I was a teenager. It was the ultimate year for my shifting music taste. My favorite albums from that year came from TV on the Radio and Fleet Foxes... yet I also owned new releases by Nine Inch Nails and Beck... as well as The Killers and Coldplay.
Now I'm in college, and I realize that all my friends are all fans of all these bands. We now live in an era (and I am now at an age) where all this just kinda sounds the same to all alt-rock fans in general. But as a teenager in Jerome ID in 2008, this felt like 3 separate worlds to me! I had my indie friends, my alt-rock chart friends, my adult contemporary chart friends... I eventually enveloped myself in the world of critically acclaimed, kinda-sorta-underground music, and Coldplay quickly faded out of my life. But at the tail-end of 2008, crammed between listens to new Hot Chip and Deerhunter, I enjoyed Coldplay's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends.

I've been known as both a cynic and connoisseur of modern music these days. Yet this morning, I witnessed the first snow of the winter, and I was brought back to the winter of 2008. For the first time since then, I wanted to listen to Viva La Vida.
Don't get me wrong, I've been know to re-visit Coldplay tracks; particularly songs from this album. In all Coldplay conversation, I call this my favorite Coldplay album. I almost stopped listening to them by 2008, but they released a surprising album! Yet my praise has been kinda just based on memory and taken with a grain of salt. Today was my first actual listen for the sake of listening to it... in nearly 8 years. So here's my up-to-date review!

The Brian Eno Strategy
This album still sounds pretty darn great! The production hasn't aged a bit. Who produced this thing? Arguably the greatest producer of all time, Brian Eno. I always knew this, but I used to not know what that meant. Brian Eno is arguably the greatest producer of all time. He still works on some complex ambient albums and collaborates with underground artists. He has also spent some of the 2000s riding his past successes with radio-friendly faux-existentialist bands, like, um, Coldplay. But I think he and Coldplay needed each other in 2008. X&Y proved that the band was at least willing to make some fan-shifting changes. And Eno hadn't produced a #1 hit in about 20 years. So I mean, what the hey, right?
From the album's very beginning, you can spot traces of Eno all over this thing. The patience of this album's opener is what got me intrigued enough to keep listening to the whole thing. Also, a truly sparkling opening 40 seconds to "Violet Hill" where we hear nothing but ambience. A couple tracks on here were co-produced by Jon Hopkins, who would later go on to make one of my favorite electronica albums of this decade. The weaker moments are when songs feel kinda rushed. The closing hidden track "The Escapist" sounds cool, but jumps in way too soon behind the grandeur of "Death and All fo His Friends." With Eno, the perfect mixing of every instrument is a given. Art like this requires space.

The Less Chris Martin Says, The Better
Nobody should have to care about anything Chris Martin says. Coldplay's first hit was "Yellow," where he literally spends the whole song calling stuff yellow. But here's the deal: It's a GREAT song!
The best songs on this albums have lyrical simplicity. Even with few words, Chris Martin's voice is strong enough to speak for itself. "Lost!" and "Strawberry Swing" are my favorite tracks on the album. Coldplay is essentially a pop band. Part of their purpose is to romanticize the basic. The most repeated phrase on "Lost!": "I'm just waiting 'til the shine wears off." A pretty basic phrase, almost generic, but can be taken in Coldplay's superstardom context behind the song's hefty organ lead and interesting percussion parts. "Strawberry Swing" is, like, legitimately gorgeous. There's a Nico level of senitmentalism behind lines like "I remember," "could be blue," and "it's such a perfect day." And of course, just like "Lost!" there's a some world-influenced percussion and a cool organ backing the song. I like organs.
The album opener "Life In Technicolor" also sounds amazing! It's like a modernized version of Peter Gabriel's "pop" work. How many words does Martin say in this song? ZERO. And the vocalized sequel to this song released in 2009 was pretty good too. You can't even tell what he's saying on hidden track "Chinese Sleep Chant," other than you can tell it's Martin's voice, and it fits the song just fine. Thank you for doing your job, Chris.

God, Only God Knows They're Trying Their Best
The worst song on this album is "Yes." It just kinda exists for the sake of existing. There's all this random middle-Eastern instrumentation that doesn't do anything to it s nature. What is this song about again? Chris Martin feeling lonely? Struggling to get girls? Even if it was about something deeper, it's awkwardly cheeky. Like, Billy Joel cheeky. It's a pretty lame 4 minutes that coulda been cut from the album. You should really read the lyrics to the chorus. It's... not exactly poetry. Martin could have reduced that to a few words.
And what the heck is Chris Martin singing about on "42"? "Cemetaries of London"? Ghosts? Curses? Who cares? I know Coldplay has this whole deal where their songs have even deeper conceptual meaning, but that actually just makes songs like these seem more ridiculous and corny. If anything, the production on these two tracks is pretty cool. Particularly the guitars.

Jonny Buckland Is Underrated 
There used to be this huge cist on Coldplay's shoulders about how they were just lite-weight Radiohead rip-offs for families. The earliest Coldplay tracks are like bare-bones, studio-safe tracks from The Bends and OK Computer. Martin sounded a lot like Thom Yorke and guitarist Jonny Buckland sounded a lot like Jonny Greenwood (he even has the same freaking name). By the band's electronic stage of X&Y, Buckland was criticized like The Edge. But on Viva La Vida, he sounds like Jonny Buckland.
The most enjoyable moments from Buckland are when you hear the raw crunch of his guitar. Aside from this album's lush mega-hit recording, it's rather refreshing. He's the true star on "Violet Hill" with his play-along solo in the middle. The beautiful, kinda South African riff to "Strawberry Swing" is something you don't hear often from radio pop/rock bands. I also love his little memorable fills throughout "Death and All of His Friends," even that 10-second "funk" portion of the song. As mentioned earlier, he saves "42" and "Cemetaries of London" from sounding like uninteresting Chris Martin death-themed jargon to something more like: "Hey, we're a rock band having fun!" In addition to his raw crunchiness, he's conscious about his pedals. There's some interesting stuff on the back of "Lovers In Japan." His solo on "Lost!" is what arena-expanding pop should sound like. His work on "Chinese Sleep Chant" can classify as legitimate shoegaze.

And OK, I Guess It's Kinda "Cool" 
I remember hearing "Viva La Vida" for the first time. I didn't think it'd be popular at all. I did not expect it would be the band's only song to be a Billboard #1 hit. People, this isn't the weirdest song in the world. But it was a huge radio standout in 2008! And yeah, the instrumentation is rather unique. It was a #1 single crammed between Lil Wayne's sell-out hit "Lollipop" and Katy Perry's moderate-climate entry to the radio world "I Kissed A Girl." "Viva La Vida" may not be weird song in itself, but I will always consider it an extremely weird hit!
I know Coldplay have spent their entire career trying to sound weird, like so many bands in alternative rock history. But I admit this album is a pretty unique experience. There's Brian Eno's accompanied aesthetic. There's the album's 3 hidden tracks that actually outshine some songs on the actual tracklisting. There's some expansive genre influences. Maybe it stole from U2, Radiohead, and even (what was then "new") epic-indie-handclap-rock from Arcade Fire... if I had a penny for every time I heard artists imitating these bands...  but it most importantly covers all the bases Coldplay can gather from their entire career. Viva La Vida is their catalog; their greatest hits condensed. Pieces of all their previous and future work can all be found here. If I was a 26 year-old music snob in 2008, I would probably still like this album.
When it comes to all the category of extremely popular rock/pop bands from the new millennium, Coldplay is the best I can recall. My buddy Austin saw them live in SLC on my 18th birthday and was kind enough to buy me a key chain with this picture (below) on it. Ya know, over-serious demeanor aside, we can some times relate to these guys.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Open Thank You Notes to My Esteemed College Professors & Mentors

From CSI

Tony "Uncle Tony" Mannen
Thank you for being a great director and believing in my abilities. I still remember you pulling me aside during a 'Murder Room' rehearsal and going over how I was on my way to having a bright acting future beyond CSI. I doubted you, but that was kinda the norm for me at that age.Thank you for believing in my talents.
And I remember pointing at the booth during the final show as I mentioned a "pale white moon" and you were secretly up there mooning the audience. You were truly an inspiration. Elvis is king!

Jud + Tamara Harmon
I owe a lot to you guys. I always loved working with you, on and off stage. Thank you for keeping in touch over the years.
Jud, thank you for trying to hook me up with that Sun Valley job a few months ago! A guy could always use some more job options! I still remember striking set for 'Othello' with you and you were just cracking up watching me use power tools incorrectly. You told me I'd get the hang of it with every show. Thanks for always sharing that type of optimism. Side note: I will always hold a high regard for your service to our country. It's one of the many reasons we call you "Studly Judley!"
Tamara, I can't help but bring this up now. About 2 years ago, I remember you mentioned on facebook something about conversing dream acting roles with me and a group of old CSI folks. It's a long story, but I didn't know how to react at the time. If you still want to have that chat about dream roles, I'd love to talk about it now! I'll be back in Jerome soon. Hope to see you guys while I'm there!

Guy who taught English 1010 
Thank you for letting me fill out some paperwork and turn in some writing that would get me in to the Northwest Undergraduate Conference on Literature. I still have no idea what that kind of accolade means, but it sounds super prestigious!

Assorted USU Professors & Mentors

Matthew Winters
I haven't talked to you in a couple years! I know you left USU, but I still don't know where you ran off to! I still use your name as a reference on job applications sometimes! Thank you for being a patient and sincere English teacher. It's rare that a guy like me has a professor who doubles as a music buddy. I'll never forget the day you played Godspeed You! Black Emperor in class or the fact that you introduced me to Refused. Also, thank you for hooking me up with your radio promotion manager friend; that might be my future.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to write about music and pointing out both my strengths and weaknesses. I would have never known a lot of aspects of my writing style without your help.

Alex Baldwin
Thank you for caring about your students and being a sincere critic about their work. That poetry class was a tight-knit group. I still have a lot to learn in this field!

Guy who taught US history 
You were a crazy teacher. If anything, I remember standing in line behind you for 2 hours at the Utah Democratic caucus polls so we could vote for Bernie Sanders. Good times.

Kendall, thank you for caring so much about the students in the FAC. We all have weird majors and we need keys into rooms at 1:00 am sometimes. Thank you for helping me out in situations like this and also for your genuine sense of humor.

Cindy, you were easily one of the easiest bosses I've ever worked with. You understood my schedule issues and I was always welcome to work. I understand I still am. I think I'll pass, but it was always great to have your optimistic attitude try to keep me awake and laughing at 4:00 am.

Wade, I cannot thank you enough for the work you've offered me. I cannot work my usual job while working on certain theatre projects. That pocketful of cash I'd get from blowing leaves and shoveling snow comes a long way, where I come from. When I first started helping you, I had no money at all. Thank you so much for those little opportunities. You helped me get through the hard times. Thanks again.


Cathy "Aunt Cathy" Bullock
It's amazing that you still talk with me sometimes. I only had one class with you and that was 3 years ago! But you've encouraged me ever since, even in the smallest ways. Thank you for helping me with my collegiate and career choices.

Matthew LaPlante
Thank you for teaching me the single most important lesson I learned in all my college years:
Good News Writing.

Candi Carter Olson
I sometimes feel like I have a following of people who want to watch me succeed, and you're part of it. Thank you for being a dedicated teacher and for the work you do with your students outside of class.

My Statesman Editors (you know who you are)
Thank you for believing in my work. I never considered myself a talented news writer, but it was always you guys convinced me to keep it up. It was an honor to make the front page that one time. It was an honor to be told I had the most-read article of the week on multiple occasions. Honestly, I spent most of my music reviews just trying to be funny. I still remember turning in my Taylor Swift article thinking I'd be condemned for poor presentation, but instead saw it shared by multiple people (even some I've never met) and personally heard an avalanche of reader feedback. Thanks again for believing in my talents. I may continue writing in the future.

USU Theatre Dept 

Bruce Duerden
Thank you for being the most laid-back dept head in the world, yet at the same time, always motivating me. I still remember that great chat we had after sound design class last semester. A lot of what you said stuck with me. You know I've had my doubts about the major I chose, and you were always willing to help through what's most important. I feel like we will randomly cross paths in the future.

Richie Call
Thank you for being a great director to work with. You answered all my questions and gave me some freedom as a stage manager as well. But before you were my director, you were my Beginning Acting teacher, and students don't forget classes like that. Thank you for listening to me, working with me, and meeting me halfway with my mistakes. The show turned out GREAT.

LuAnn Baker + Isaiah Jones
You guys were there for both shows I stage managed at USU. Thank you for helping me, answering my questions, letting me borrow your stuff, and dealing with all my crap! I usually only have to step into that office when I'm in a stressful situation, and I'm always prepared to walk away even more stressed out, but you guys always pull through! Thank you for being examples of responsibility and self-management. Our theatre department would not function without you. You guys are amazing!

To the USU Theatre Staff
I was in the middle of writing individual thank you notes to all of you, but I was getting tired.
I've worked on shows and taken classes with all of you. I have some random personal experiences I've shared with some of you. Some of those moments were pretty darn fun! Some of them I should apologize for... In any instance, I thank you all for treating me professionally, and more importantly, like a human being. I've learned a lot from this program and I'm glad I got to work with honest, real people in the process.
Also: Shout-out to the Master's students! I can never tell whether you were students or professors sometimes, which means you're doing your job!

USU Business Professors

John Ferguson
I never knew you well, and I failed 3 of the 4 tests I had to take for your class, but your teaching methods are rather unforgettable. Thanks for reminding me how to work hard.

David Parker
Thank you for your offer to our class to ask for your help when we come across any future career options. I will probably take advantage of that. And thank you for your compliments on my chapter 10 re-write! I don't always have confidence in my writing, but if you do get that published, I may add that to my resume forever haha!

David Hermann
Thank you for the advice at the end of the semester. I'll remember to never ask for a rubric and to look for career opportunities within the realm of things I love.

Scott Hall BUS 3810 Final Project: Student Employees

I. Can You Afford to Work for Your School?

Here's an unrelated photo of my brother looking skeptical while wearing a graduation outfit.

Everybody complains about everything. And by "everything," I mean money. It seems like everyone in every financial situation is either complaining about not getting enough from their job or giving too much to the government. Why would we as an American population want more money? Maybe some of us want to buy the newest Ski-Doo snowmobile to add to our collection. Maybe some of us would like simply to afford our weekly stash of Maruchan Ramen. In reality, about 80% of us are just trying to get out of debt.
According to Pew Research, about 80% of Americans are in debt, split between mortgage debt, unpaid credit card balances, car loans, and of course student loans. From the same article, here are the numbers dissected.

Let's zoom in on those student loan statistics.

Okay, so nobody has any money. And college students not paying their tuition costs has a lot to do with that. I'm not even going to argue or go into further detail about that.
I personally can't even complain much about it. I tell people how much student loan debt I'm in and the general response is: "Wow Scott, that's not very much!" Looking at the chart above, this is true. I'm in less than half the amount of student debt as the average Millennial. Only problem is: I have $100 in my bank account.
Even though checking my online banking makes me cry, I guess I can't complain too much. I'm usually working during the school year. I don't think you need a 26-page Pew Research study to tell you that you are more financially stable when you're employed. I've worked a collective 6 semesters at part-time on-campus jobs provided by Utah State University. USU is a relatively cheap school to attend and Logan UT is an affordable place to live. A week away from graduation, I only have a few thousand dollars left to pay my student debt. I often wonder how much I myself benefited from being a student employee. Now I ask all college students: How much do you benefit from being a student employee at your own college?

II. Some Utah Schools
Let's start with my current resident state, Utah. As a USU student, there are no schools I hate more than BYU and The U. So lets compare living expenses, tuition costs, and work benefits between the three schools.

Utah State University
LIVING EXPENSES: Logan 11% below US average
TUITION: In-State $6,250 Out-of-State $18,250
Unlike all the other universities I studied for, I found it difficult to access USU's job classifications online. Luckily I go here. I had to talk face-to-face with the careers services desk and was given a physical printout of this information. Yeah, Career Aggie... nobody's favorite website...

Not sure how to cite all this, so here's me with the USU's student job classification papers

Student worker job classifications are divided into 5 levels.
  • I (Unskilled/Trainee) $7.25-9.40 This has been my bread and butter throughout my college life. Job duties include answering phones, stocking shelves, and physically light manual tasks. Personally, I've made anywhere from $7.25-$8.25 an hour doing these jobs for USU.
  • II (Semi-Skilled) $8.00-10.25 I have a few friends with jobs like these. The duties are more varied and some job-related experience is required. Some examples include data entry, supervised software maintenance, and cashiering.
  • III (Skilled) $9.50-12.00 Duties here are highly complex, and 3 moths of full-time related training or technical experience is required. Related coursework may be substituted for experience. From here, the job requirements become less likely to be attained by full-time undergrad students. 
  • IV (Highly Skilled) $10.75-13.25 The required work experience bumps up from 3 months to 6 months. Work is meant to be prioritized on this level. Example tasks include bookkeeping, graphics, and editing.
  • V (Exceptionally Skilled) Open wage range Minimum qualification for positions like these include 1 full-time year of experience with specific job-related duties. It says these are available to undergrad students, although I feel safe saying this would be an extremely rare occurrence. Exampling job duties include grant writing, database development, and highly technical programming.
As for benefits, student employees can file for tuition reduction. It works like a scholarship

University of Utah
LIVING EXPENSES: Salt Lake City 3% below US average
TUITION: In-State $7,835 Out-of State $25,057
Unlike USU, The U spares me some typing with their nifty online resources.

As for how much student workers get paid, it's not divided into the quartiles mentioned above. The above chart mentions grade minimums and maximums. These are rated from A-I.

I'm safely assuming the "expert" employees are the ones getting paid in the $20/hr area. I don't know where $97/hr comes from, but I think we could all use some of that action! Like USU, The U offers tuition reduction to their student employees, however their offer is specifically for full-time workers.And from experience, I know USU offers free health service visits to students who bring their own insurance. As for The U-- even with insurance-- students still have to pay for on-campus doctor's clinics.

Brigham Young University
LIVING EXPENSES: Provo 8% below US average
TUITION: LDS $5,300 Not-LDS $10,600
I was able to find some specific job titles at BYU listed next to their given wages. However, another BYU link mentions that those working unpleasant hours are usually making $.50-$1.00 more than the minimum.

BYU takes advantage of their being a private college.Every employee at BYU is being paid by the LDS church. Every full-time employee of the LDS church is offered work benefits from a church-owned, non-profit trust called Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators. DMBA offers health and welfare benefits, as well as financial planning. This organization is mentioned on the university's HR page, which is ironic... because BYU student employees are only limited to 20 hours/wk.
It's funny how vague the website is about this. I had to find out via phone call.
BYU offers the same kind of tuition reduction benefits as The U.
You know, come to think of it. I wonder if USU's tuition reduction is solely for full-time workers as well. Their website didn't specify that.  Not too surprised, really.

Choosing which one of these schools has more beneficial student employment than the other isn't exactly rocket science. The employee benefits are about the same for all them. And of course, all on-campus jobs come with the benefit that they're a few steps away from your classes.Looking at the skills required for the higher paying jobs, chances are undergrads like me are going to make the same amount at any of these universities (something close to minimum wage). Therefor, it's basically just better to be a student employee when you're living somewhere cheap. The numbers for living expenses show that Utah is itself a cheap state to live in, but between the 3 schools? Student employees at The U are probably struggling to pay the bills.
Although I can't help but wonder why all these schools have such similar wages, requirements and restrictions. Even looking outside of Utah, all the college I've researched so far are paying the around minimum wage and provide limited work hours. Oregon State University pays students starting at $9.75/hr. The minimum wage in Oregon is $9.75. Harvard University pay their students a minimum of $11/hr, which is $1 more than their state's minimum wage. But even in their instance, paying $59K for tuition and trying to afford living in Cambridge MA... well, that extra hourly dollar is better than nothing.
It's forever up to debate as to whether any of these Universities can afford to give their students higher wages, but there's one thing that they certainly cannot give every student worker: Healthcare.

III. The Affordable Care Act & Beyond
This should go without saying, but getting injured at work is a bad idea. Especially if you're working part-time, considering you probably aren't going to be have any health insurance coverage from your work. I mentioned that BYU will not allow student workers to work over 20 hours/wk. I once tried simultaneously working two different on-campus jobs but was told to quit one because they would have combined to surpass USU's maximum of 30 hrs/wk.
I can already see you smirking as I type this. I'm gonna talk about Obamacare.
Under the ACA, employers are required to offer healthcare to employees who work 30 hrs/wk or 130 hrs/mo. Consider a University full of students. Some of them are paying their own insurance, some are under their parents' insurance, some are wearing knee pads everywhere and go uninsured. I can't really blame them. Their own university can't afford healthcare expenses either. Insuring a single employer, on average, costs about $520/mo.
Also, all universities are required to follow laws of the the Full-time Student Program under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). To quote the U.S. Dept of Labor:

"The Full-time Student Program is for full-time students employed in retail or service stores, agriculture, or colleges and universities. The employer that hires students can obtain a certificate from the Department of Labor which allows the student to be paid not less than 85% of the minimum wage. The certificate also limits the hours that the student may work to 8 hours in a day and no more than 20 hours a week when school is in session and 40 hours when school is out, and requires the employer to follow all child labor laws. Once students graduate or leave school for good, they must be paid $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009." 

So this explains a lot. This even assists my personal story about not surpassing 30 hours of on-campus work. I was told 30 hours max by my HR department because they were referring to combining two separate campus jobs; it's just that no one single campus job can surpass the 20-hour limit.
Now before you start feeling bad for us students for not getting longer work opportunities from our schools, there's this graph beside the text. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, almost 30% of full-time students are working full-time and almost 30% aren't working at all during the school year. I know this graph is 5 years old, but do you think it's incredibly different in 2016? And would more students be working full-time if more of their colleges allowed them to? 
Despite how relatively minimal student worker wages are, there's a good chance you'll be going into debt if you're unemployed. No statistical backing behind that statement necessary. 
The good thing about campus student jobs as they are often flexible with your school schedule. The bad thing about them is that your classes are 0% flexible with work schedules. 

For more on the whole health care thing, at least most schools offer a health plan of some sort. As I pointed earlier between USU's free doctor's visits in comparison with The U's, some schools' are just cheaper than others. Some schools are just cheaper than others, period. In fact, no matter how much more studying I do on student worker employment, I already know the answer to my initial question. 

Q: Can you afford to work for your school?
A: Probably not, but it's as good as you're gonna get.

If your price of living is low enough, those 20 hours (or a little less) per week at minimum wage (or a little more) could pay your day-to-day bills! I am lucky I live in Logan UT. The only I'm in debt is because I decided not to work a couple semesters... and okay, the out-of-state tuition kicked my butt when I first moved here... (sigh) but on average, most American college students are paying more for tuition, rent and groceries than I am. The fact that 41% of people born in my generation are in $20,000 of student debt is no surprise to me. But as the graph also shows, the percentage of people in student debt decreases with age. Let's hope it stays that way, for my own darn sake.
Even if you can't afford to work for your own school, you definitely cannot afford to work nowhere. It's rather difficult to work and study full-time simultaneously, and part-time jobs are rarely paying something substantially more than a minimum wage. I'd hate to sound nihilistic about the topic, but I say if you're going to work part-time while attending college, why not work for your school? Working anywhere else can't be too different. 
If you find a higher paying job that also fits your school schedule, please jump on that train. 
If you find yourself with $100 in your bank account, USU is always hiring janitors who can work from 4-8am.

Below is my ghetto, yet lengthy and well-used works cited section. Every graph, statistic, or bold statement mentioned above is berthed from the following hyperlinks: 
--Cool graph

FROM SECTION II. "nobody's favorite website" 
--On University of Utah 
--On BYU (and Deseret Mutual)
--Reliable living expenses database Career Trends (ran by Graphiq) 
--Tuition prices
--Oregon State and Harvard numbers

--On the ACA
--US Department of Labor quote
--Cost of insuring employee
--Cool graph

Thursday, December 8, 2016

My College Mixtape Adventure

I graduate with a Bachelor's Degree from USU next week. I guess I get overly-nostalgic everywhere I go in Logan these days. I drive down every street and it brings back a stupid moment I had with myself, friends, or music. But hey, I'm gonna miss this place and my friends here.
There's a story for every semester. Some stories are better than others. But every story has a soundtrack nonetheless. I realize my life stories nor my music taste are the most interesting thing in the world. But together, they're enough to bring a personal experience to life.
For each semester of my college life (10), here's 5 songs, 1 photo and 1 paragraph. I got into these songs during these semesters, and they reflect my story. Here's my whole college story on spotify!

The CSI Semester
Fresh outta high school, home from a great summer at Redfish Lake Lodge, the college experience wasn't what I expected. I lived at home and attended the junior college College of Southern Idaho. I was an acting major, but it didn't feel as gratifying as it used to. I remember rehearsals every night, yet spending a lot of time alone in Twin Falls.

Nick Drake Pink Moon
Built to Spill Velvet Waltz
The Flaming Lips Suddenly Everything Has Changed
Radiohead Exit Music (For a Film)
Dinosaur Jr. Feel the Pain

Welcome to USU
Fresh off a full LDS mission and a bad summer at Redfish Lake Lodge, this semester marked my closing days on anxiety meds. I don't remember much, other than I went on a lot of bad dates and tried keeping up with all the new music I had missed over my mission. I worked for USU's donations phonathon (that was weird). I was undeclared.

Frank Ocean Thinkin Bout You
Japandroids The House That Heaven Built
Bon Iver Holocene
Destroyer Kaputt
Kanye West POWER

Spring 2013 THE WARM-UP RUN
It was an internally exciting semester. I was just starting to "feel" things again, I was falling in love with Logan's spring colors, and I was working 25 hours a week. It was the most delightfully humbling semester of my college life. Still undeclared.

LCD Soundsystem All I Want
Beach House Walk in the Park
Fleet Foxes Grown Ocean
Youth Lagoon Mute
Girls Hellhole Ratrace

Finishing off a great first summer in Logan, I felt like I just couldn't stop collecting new friends. I studied journalism and took a rough Intro to Newswriting class where I consistently wrote about the local music scene. I somehow kept a firm social life the whole time. And I was always discovering exciting music! It was a beautiful time.

Kendrick Lamar Money Trees
My Bloody Valentine To Here Knows When
Built to Spill Carry the Zero
Arcade Fire Reflektor
Neil Young Walk On

Spring 2014 THE LUCKY ERA
I changed my major to stage management, but was a paid writer for The Utah Statesman; mostly music reviews (I regret leaving this major). I received a random $3,000 scholarship. I was dating weekly. The girls next door were my best friends. My roommate got arrested. I ran a half marathon in 81 minutes. It was a beautiful time.

Sun Kil Moon I Watched The Film The Song Remains The Same
St Vincent Digital Witness
UGK Int'l Player's Anthem (I Choose You)
!!! Take Ecstasy With Me
Arthur Russell I Couldn't Say It To Your Face

My EQP summer depressed me, not living up to the happiness bar set by the prior glorified year of my life. This semester just sent me further downward. I wrecked my car for good, I lost all my money, I lost my car insurance, I lost my job, assistant stage managing was my biggest stressor, I was hesitant to talk with any of my friends, I always romanticized running away. It was a bad time.

Iceage Forever
Deerhunter Desire Lines
Broken Social Scene Lover's Spit
Perfume Genius Too Bright
Ariel Pink Put Your Number In My Phone

Spring 2015 THE  LOST ONE
Despite how recent this semester was, I don't remember much. I began working a 4am on-campus janitor job. I went the whole semester without any crushes. I was taking 18 credits and failing half of them at one point (but I pulled through). I think I was just trying to survive this time.

Kendrick Lamar King Kunta
Father John Misty Bored In The USA
Run The Jewels Close Your Eyes (And Count to F*ck)
Stephen Sondheim Finishing the Hat
Lambchop Your F*cking Sunny Day

Fall 2015 THE 'STACHE
Returning from an introspective summer at Redfish Lake, I was ready to be more vulnerable! Well, kind of. I had a mustache. People remember that part.

Bob Dylan Idiot Wind
The Band When You Awake
Elliott Smith Alameda
Bjork Who Is It
Stevie Wonder Love's In Need Of Love Today

Spring 2016 THE NEW GUY
For the first time, I chose to move in with friends! It made a big difference. I was dating someone for a few weeks, which was new ground for me. I shaved my mustache. I started realizing how often I think about the past and focused on self-improvement all semester. I stage managed my first show. I went to the temple every week. I went to a lot of bonfires. It was a beautiful time.

Jens Lekman The Opposite of Hallelujah
Jamie xx I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)
Superchunk Driveway to Driveway
Yo La Tengo We're An American Band
Mercury Rev Holes

Fall 2016 THE OLD GUY
This semester has been all about my focus on self-improvement. I've started feeling a sense of self-love I haven't felt since my teens, but also have been learning a lot about my migraines (and dealing with them). I started off with a fat sprained ankle, and I'm closing down stage managing my final show. Allowing myself to develop and learn at age 26 has been a fun, worthwhile challenge.

Chance the Rapper No Problem
Uncle Tupelo Slate
Frank Ocean Self Control
Guided By Voices Mincer Ray
David Bowie I Can't Give Everything Away

Thank you for being part of my college experience. I can truly go anywhere from here!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The 25 Best Albums of 2016

Welcome to my annual nerd moment. My 25 favorite albums of 2016. Feel free to disagree. Everything in my top 5 seemed like fair game for the #1 spot this year.

My honorable mention list this year:
Case/Lang/Veirs Case/Lang/Veirs
Deakin Sleep Cycle
Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression
Jeff Rosenstock WORRY.
Various Artists Southern Family

Now my actual top 25 list. Feel free to skip my lengthy blurbs... it took me a surprisingly short time to write them...

25 King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard Nonagon Infinity
I honestly don't know enough about the modern world of garage rock to judge whether or not this album is something important or influential, but there's a legitimate lo-fi fuzz covering this album's almost symphonic set of stoner tracks. It's all psychedelic, mysterious, borderline Satanic, but mostly just really stupid. And the "infinite loop" shtick is kinda cool.

24 James Blake The Colour In Anything
James Blake is one of the most important artists of this entire decade. Yet I'm sure this album will be forgotten over time, out-shined by James' early days; his futuristic work. Here we see James spilling 70+ minutes of ideas onto one album. This is ear candy for fans, but not so much for those new to his work.
Oh, by the way: I'M A FAN.

23 Crying Beyond the Fleeting Gales
I don't know what to call this... On first listen, one might mistake this for total shoegaze. In reality, this is trying to make beauty out of anything electronic this band can grab. The vocals are classic shoegaze reverb, the guitars are reminiscent of crappy hair metal bands, the backing synths add a sense of both beauty and oddity... yeah, you gotta hear it to understand.

22 Blood Orange Freetown Sound
I was not a fan of this album at first listen. I kept comparing it to its 2013 predecessor Cupid Deluxe. Dev Hynes isn't trying to reconstruct early 90s R&B radio on this album. He's stretching the board even further. This takes influence from all eras of R&B and world music.An impressive span of sub-genres here.

21 Ka Honor Killed the Samurai 
Ka returns to my year-end album list! You can always count on this man to deliver some mature hip-hop. This isn't as ambitious as his last album The Night's Gambit, but he still sticks with conceptualization. I guess comparing your life to the work of ancient samurais is pretty corny, but this is coming from Ka: A 44 year-old NYC firefighter who simply raps on the side. His voice of experience rules the album.

20 Nicolas Jaar Sirens
I hyped up this album to no end expecting it to be "the big one" from Jaar. Well... it's not.
But it's still good! Jaar gives his own electronically advanced take on classic styles of pop music; blues, latin, rock and roll.

19 Noname Telefone
The instrumentals to Telefone are complex and jazzy as it gets. And yet this whole album is a more laid back experience. It never gets too loud and the rapping never yells for your attention. Yet it contains all the passion and intensity you could ask for. Noname goes over some soulful, personal stories. And although this could qualify as sunshine music, its complexities darken the mood. It's realis what it is.

18 Parquet Courts Human Performance
I haven't cared about these guys in the last few years, but this album took me by surprise. It takes from their usual minimalist art punk formula and advances into a broad, mysterious project. The album cover denotes the metaphoric murder mystery the album presents us. And there's some extra instrumentation that spices things up; I'm particularly a fan of the bongos and flutes.

17 Swans The Glowing Man
Over 2 hours of scary, patient, climactic post-rock (as usual), and not a minute wasted (as usual).

16 The Avalanches Wildflower
The Avalanches had a lot going against them releasing an instrumental hip-hop album in 2016. Yet they come back in full force with modernized production and experimenting with their own non-sampled arrangements (this is new for them). They bring the genre back to life in full color.

15 Sturgill Simpson A Sailor's Guide to Earth
This is a major label country album. And I own it. Bought it at my local closing Hasting's. 0 regret with that decision. Sturgill goes big on this album with some of my favorite brooding tracks of the year, as well as some zesty tracks backed by nicotine-flavored horns reminiscent of Waylon Jennings. Sturgill gives us a guide to his Earth: His family, God, the U.S. Navy, Nirvana, Nintendo 64, while rhyming "Kim-Jong-il" with "I can't pay my f***ing bills" and "grandma's buying pills." 

14 Car Seat Headrest Teens of Denial
This is one of the most refreshing indie albums I've heard in a couple years. Will Toledo proves himself to be a sprite young songwriter. The lyrics represent a kid who still remembers his high school bullies, now trying to face his adulthood demons. The guitars evoke sweet 70s radio tracks one minute, but can be turned into angst at any moment. It's an epic working-class experience.

13 Beyonce Lemonade
Beyonce made the 13th best album of 2016. No more, no less. High moments like "Hold Up," "Sorry" and "Formation" are some of the best songs of the entire year. I'm not really big into the whole concept or story of the album, but this is a terrific example of what modern pop music should attain in the studio. Musical variety, 100% vocal effort, and layers upon layers of hooks.

12 YG Still Brazy
I sometimes look at this as a novelty album, considering how much it takes from old-school G-funk rap. But really, this is him talking to us. This is gangsta rap in its truest form. "Twist My Fingaz" is YG's personal anthem. "FDT" has become the official anti-Trump anthem forever. In all its simplicity an boldness, there's no filler on this album. Just the basic SoCal rap principles.

11 Solange A Seat At the Table
Solange's voice just breaks my heart every time. In theme, she takes ultimate pride in her skin color, while admitting to her own faults and struggles. Musically, she uses this copy+paste formula blending the simplest, most endearing aspects of R&B and soul. While the music remains at its core, so does her intentions. This is human relate-ability.

10 Kendrick Lamar untitled unmastered
So what does the greatest artist alive sound like when they're barely even trying?
This album is 30 minutes of To Pimp A Butterfly outtakes; perhaps not fully produced, but definitely fully written. "untitled 05" is one of the best rap songs of the year. If this album has died off on you, I recommend a fresh listen. It will tackle you from behind.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Skeleton Tree
Due to the heavy, naked emotion of this album, I have assumed this will be the last we'll ever hear from Nick Cave. Knowing him, he'll probably come back in 3 years with some barn-burning goth rock album for all we know. Until then, this album is a moment of silence reserved for the death of his son. Cave has always flirted with songs of death and mortality. Now we get to hear his personal mourning process. It's discomforting, it's bare, it's depressing, but it's all the more beautiful.

Radiohead A Moon Shaped Pool
The production on this album is ridiculously fresh and crisp. In fact, I fell asleep the first time I heard it. But I've kept coming back because of it. Every intricate note and sound is given proper studio treatment. Jonny Greenwood took the helm on this album's instrumental arrangements, complete with full complex orchestral pieces and classic Radiohead mixture of guitar tones. And Thom Yorke's lyrics are more existential than ever.

7 Anderson .Paak Malibu
On what's probably the hottest album of the year, it's just fun to watch Paak go! He just keeps delivering track after track with these preciously layered R&B and hip-hop songs. His voice has done nothing but grow on me throughout the year. These songs come with this sunny storytelling from an aging character who has waited years for a chance to produce something so big.

Angel Olsen MY WOMAN
Angel Olsen threw a curve ball at me this fall. Her last album kinda hid her distinguished voice behind some less interesting indie marijuana lounge rock. Here, her voice is in the forefront and belting out like never before. The songs come off so familiar, I feel like I've heard them on oldies stations before. No, this is just Angel Olsen's magic at work. A brilliant blend of country and garage rock. A woman longing to discover her true self, but in the meanwhile longs for her crush to just shut up and kiss her already. She's our woman.

5 David Bowie Blackstar
What a way to go.
Bowie needs no introduction. He's one of the greatest artists of all time and arguably the greatest artist of the 70s period. He can make a great album whenever he wants. Knowing he would die soon, he spared no energy making this album full of lively kraut rock songs (yes, kraut rock). It's a dark world full of glamorous free jazz saxophone solos and sincere deathbed sentiments. A beautiful, threatening album from a man who always had the ability to see the future.

4 A Tribe Called Quest We got it from Here...Thank You 4 Your service
So much to say about this album. The Donald Trump thing, the Phife Dawg thing, the 18-year break thing. All these lovable songs just kinda connect with each other perfectly, while also connecting with our culture. There's no deadweight here. Solid rapping throughout. Some eye-opening song topics. This is ageless hip-hop songwriting. It was released at the perfect time. This is a truly great rap album that just so coincidentally happened to be made by our favorite rap geezers.

Chance The Rapper Coloring Book
"No Problem" was always my obvious #1 song of the year, but I needed to enter this album with a dose of humility to truly understand the whole thing. It's then easy to get caught up in its innocent, children's choir world of wonder. That pink cloud, starry cloud on the cover is real, man. And the smiling guy on the cover has been smiling down on us all year. He's Chance the Entertainer. Chance the Producer. Chance the Anti-label Enthusiast. Chance the Creator of Sunshine. Rapping is just something he does on the side.

2 Danny Brown Atrocity Exhibition
While Chance gave us a book for us test our 64-pack of coloring crayons, Danny Brown grabbed us by the neck and made us witness his exhibit of atrocities. With every song, you never know where the next turn will take you or when it's ever going to end. It's a downward spiral from the get-go. Danny Brown gives us this weird, nocturnal grab-bag of songs accompanied by his impeccable flow and mind-blowing production. As tortured as he sounds, Brown teaches a simple lesson: Say no to drugs.

1 Frank Ocean Blonde
Sometimes I forget this album was made by the same guy who made Channel Orange. "Ivy" is a legitimate scope into the artist's psyche. "Siegfried" is the 5-minute stare in the mirror you never tell your friends about. "Self Control" is the sound of a grown man fighting his childish emotions. "Solo" is a rare fusion of songwriting abilities from beyond the veil. And none of the songs I've mentioned have any rhythm or percussion section. The bold choices made on this album keep the listener coming back. Blonde is a product of isolation.