America: Land of the Free...Trial.

As anybody who has ever seen my hands for 30+ seconds knows, I own a smartphone. I use it for pretty much everything, texting, wasting time, mobile emails, checking my online social life, music, and the occasional phone call...but one of the things I do most is play the games. Sports games, racing games, board games, games where you use some manner of weapon to make a lot of people dead for some reason or other, as many games as I can download from the Android Market (I know they changed the name, but Play Store sounds like an adult device shop…I can’t go for that).

Most of these games don’t cost anything to play. (Hmm, the first hit is free…have I heard that before?) That is, until you actually start playing. At some point you may find out that in order to stay competitive with other players, gain gameplay-vital upgrades like better guns, a faster engine or more colors with which to draw something, or even advance the game past a predetermined dead-end level, you’ll have to shell out some real-life coins for your fantasy world.

Sometimes they just ask for a buck or two to buy the “full/platinum/elite/” version of the game, a gambit as old as America Online. They even call them “ad-free versions” sometimes, which is weird because they always try to get you to link your social networking account so they can automatically tell all your friends about the game so they can maybe try it too. (That’s the kind of non-advertisement I wish I could get for my book.)

Lately, though, I’ve noticed things getting a lot more expensive. See, now you can trade in your dollars and sense for virtual coins, which can then be used to purchase virtually useful items. These can go for what amounts to hundreds of dollars and give the player who can afford them a distinct competitive advantage or, as mentioned before, simply give them access to all the features that they advertised that you could get in free version but forgot to mention you had to pay dearly for.

The way the whole thing works got me to thinking a little. It might not seem outwardly honest at first, but really it’s a just a microcosm of the way our society works. Think about the standardized American dream for an average person…one day owning your own large, paid-off home, a great job, a highly attractive spouse, and 1.5 children (it’s the average here, and I’m not sure how .5 kids would work, but it sounds like something went horribly wrong when one kid was trying to jump over that white picket fence) all just as ideal as can be.

Of course, if you’re anything like me you know that is not representative of anything attainable through normal gameplay for the majority of people. All these things are actually much more expensive than are let on by the people who provide them, from the large, paid-off home (ask anyone who is still making mortgage payments with Social Security checks) to the highly attractive spouse (all that beauty likely came in many small, high-priced bottles), the 1.5 children (who statistics show will cost upwards of one million dollars to raise to age 18 as the law requires…seriously, Google it), and the great job, which you probably cannot get with the free trial version of education (aka the 12 years you spent learning shit that will likely get you little more than a paper hat job).

To draw the parallel in heavier ink, even the things that you have to buy are seemingly worth less and less in-game. In order to get married, you need not just a ring, but the right ring (that means expensive, in case you didn’t know…I heard a story from a friend just this week of a 10 year relationship that ended with a returned jewelry store purchase because the rock didn’t cost enough months’ salary and the decade of the guy’s life apparently wasn’t worth much either).

Those 1.5 kids you have don’t just need to be fed, sheltered, sent to school and kept alive like in the old days, they also need various electronic devices and designer clothes to break and ruin like they need oxygen from the time they can take their first steps (brought to you by Nike). Since the free schools suck, you’ll also likely have to pay for their education in some way, be it through a private school or with the help of a tutoring program, which I swore is what they were supposed to be doing for those 8 hours. (Really, public schools are just to keep kids out of trouble during the day and give them all the necessary skills to work an unskilled job.)

Even a bachelor’s degree, which is billed as a $100,000 investment, has 50% of graduates either watching daytime TV with my college dropout ass today or wearing the super’s visor at a fast food restaurant wondering when their advanced career training will advance their career. Usually to progress further, they must purchase additional pieces of parchment paper and hope that they still want to play the game they chose…but if not, they can always start over with a new game and buy all the necessary items for that. (Man, is that a sweet racket…the only guarantee to the consumer is of expense. Gotta open me a college one day.)

Can most people afford all this, to play the game to its full potential and gain all that is advertised within it? No. But the people who sell them will tell you that you can. They’ll never stop telling you that you can, it’s this belief that keeps them profitable…and what’s more, people are mostly happy to oblige them. So what if the item I want is out of my budget…I want it! Many of us are willing to spend more than our means allow to buy a bunch of mostly inconsequential shit using real life currency, like our money, and something even less replaceable, our time.

That’s what leads to situations like buying a car you can barely afford to buy, let alone maintain, working 10 years in a career you found out too late you don’t really like just to pay off the debt you incurred finding out, getting so caught up in providing for children you forget to provide them a parent, and yes…spending the cost of a week’s worth of groceries buying the ultimate tractor to grow crops on your virtual farm. At a point, it becomes less about whether you really wanted or needed the thing than simply having it for the purposes of advancing the game towards its advertised conclusion.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just bitter and broke, but it seems like we’re sold on a certain thing all our lives knowing that there’s no way most people can get it without giving up more than what many people would call reasonable. We live in the land of the free trial. Life here doesn’t have all the features promoted in the ad, but you can certainly upgrade to the full version…it’ll cost ya, though (and there’s no such thing as an ad-free life here, sorry…soon they’ll be putting ads in conversation: “Hi!”, brought to you by Dentyne Ice…”Where’s the bathroom?” sponsored by Charmin…”Fuck you!” in partnership with Trojan).

It’s not to say that I don’t want nice things…shit, I like money as much as the next man, it’s just that I know both its value and my own, and the equation has to be balanced sometimes. Just like in the smartphone games when an item would be nice to have but my cash is nicer, I just feel as though we should take a step back and evaluate whether some of the things we strive so hard for are worth what they cost if you have to consider what they cost. In my opinion, people make a lot of bad investments of their finances, energies, and existence, sacrificing the indisposable for the inherently disposable…but then again, my opinion is worth 10 bucks (plus shipping) tops right now, so who knows…


Vice Parenthood

DX, here pictured as a paperweight, is half my responsibility...on paper.
Over the past couple of months, I've figured something out...early parenthood is not always an equal division of labor and input. Of course, this is the ideal that is strived toward, a genuinely even contribution to the full-time maintenance and upkeep of a child...but as we know, few things are ideal in life. Logistics, which is fancy talk for "the manner in which the shit just works", often dictate our methods as much as what might be viewed as an even distribution of duties.

I've discovered this in the last couple of months in my new role of vice parent (an office I believe I have named, but not necessarily innovated) to the cute little monkey pictured above, my own baby DX. You see, raising a kid is quite a bit like governing a country. It's a tragically underpaid job (even Big Boss Barry only makes what the last guy on an NBA bench does for his slightly more important work), you'll definitely have to keep your economy stable, and there is usually one person running the show more than any other. That person is not me...but I am a very capable understudy. (Ask the Indianapolis Colts how important having one of those is.)

When he was first born, I reasonably assumed I was in for a perfectly equal share of baby-related duties as a result. What I did not immediately consider is that logistics dictate that he lives with his mommy most of the time, and thus the majority of these tasks fell to her. (You'd be surprised how easy it is to like a baby you only have to change what averages out to about 2.7 times a day over the average week.) The little guy is cutest when he's not trying to coat me with the contents of his digestive system, and although his projectiles can be impressive at times, he can't hit me from her house.

Of course, I have my duties as well...they're a lot like the office title implies. I do most of the PR work (lol), make the appearances she doesn't feel like making (like apprearing at the store, appearing to carry heavy items--including him--or even just appearing across the room to retrieve some babyphenalia or other) and also relieve her of her duties when she's incapacitated...or just a little tired. Mostly though, I just Pippen it up, contributing a lot, but just staying out of the way when the situation is beyond my skills.

The arrangement does have its drawbacks. For one, he remembered her face first and just started consistently recognizing me a couple weeks ago...which I understand, how many vice anythings can you even name? It's also kind of weird to have people kind of talk around me to her where he's concerned like I don't even work there, but I suppose that just goes with the territory as well. (Might have something to do with the slightly controversial book I'm writing on the experience too...but I think they're just mad I found a voice it's okay to scream with.)

What's really strange for me is my relationship with our allies, DX's set of grandparents. They, in conjunction with his mommy, appear to function completely independent of my input...things change behind closed doors with secret communications I'm not privy to, and things like what happened on Friday (when I thought I had him here at home for the night, then had him suddenly confiscated by my own mommy around 3 in the afternoon and returned to his mommy's house on Sunday night) go down. I guess that's just parental politics at play, though.

All in all, I'm warming up to my new position. The best (wo)man for the main job has it, and I'm happier about my supporting role than I would be actually having to pay child support, which is nice. While it may not be perfection of form yet, it's certainly perfection of function at the time. Hey, the shit just works. Maybe one day soon, I'll make a run for the big chair. For now though, like a true politician, I'm going to support the hell out of the person in charge, concentrate on my current office, gain some experience...then step in and step up in a few months when the hard part is over. (Let's see who teaches you to throw a football and pee like a boy, squirt.)


Holo Man

Well, I can definitely say that when I wrote those "Tupac Back" posts  a few weeks back wondering and theorizing about what Pac would be doing if he had never died of acute bullet poisoning, this is not what I had in mind. I'm sure by now you've seen or at least heard of the above video (and if not, congratulations on waking up out of that coma) showing a Tupac performance from beyond the grave.

Others have marveled at the technology required to make such a realistic projection of a dead person. To be honest I'm pretty fascinated by it too, but I can't help but to find it creepy as fuck at the same time. I like Pac as much as the next man, and maybe it's just me, but what's the difference between this and a ghost again? It reminds me of that one movie about the crazy invisible scientist that I forgot the name of. No sir, I don't like it...don't like it one bit.

The crazy part is that it's not going to stop here. They'll continue to make holo men as long as people will pay to see them. Every dead celebrity who has ever died a celebrity will eventually be resurrected. We'll see Michael Jackson moonwalking across some stage again. A lot of Elvis impersonators will now have to find real jobs. Maybe they'll even bring back Jesus himself, just for kicks.

I don't know, I love technology and everything, but I don't know if I can get behind this one. I already barely can keep track of who's alive and who's dead, and this just makes things that much harder. This also sucks for current entertainers who are thin, talentless imitations of those who preceded them and just happen to be dead or too old now. Now that they can just skip the middleman and produce a much better simulation for a new generation, where does that leave them? Will we still need the current crop of female R&B singers once Aaliyah's reanimated?

Not only that, but if they're using this kind of amazingly advanced technology for entertainment now, how long have they had it and better for...other purposes? (It's my "night vision" theory. See, at one time night vision goggles were the cutting edge of science and the general public knew next to nothing of them, but the day I saw a fully functioning pair in a toy store for 20 bucks, I knew that not only was the technology highly outdated, but they likely had since replaced it with something far more advanced.) I'm no conspiracy nut, but it's kind of an uncomfortable thought to know that you can't even totally trust your eyes any more.

Whatever my opinion of it, people are talking about it and rightfully so. It's totally astounding to see the full extent of our technological advances in twentytwelve (well, as much as they'll show us, anyway). Maybe this is just the direction of things and I really sound like an old man right now. However, similar to the difference between watching a favorite dead entertainer on an old recording and watching his actual ghostly form perform ghostily, it's just different for me when I see it in depth. 


So your baby ain't cute yet...now what?

Luckily for him, my kid is f.u.c.k.'N adorable in this pic, so I don't have this problem...but I thought plenty about it beforehand.

*fittedwearer's note: Thanks and a big shoutout to Debbie for the idea...you're absolutely right, this is long overdue.

So there you are, a rookie parent standing there admiring your bundle of joy when a 3-ton realization suddenly hits you in the gut like one last labor pain: Your baby isn't all that cute at all, is it?

Of course, most people would never acknowledge that they had this revelation to themselves and especially not to anyone else, but for every real life baby gremlin, there's a parent who stays awake at night peering into a crib wondering when their baby will cuten up. We're all taught that all humans under a certain age are equally adorable, but anyone who has seen more than 10 babies knows, that's a fully loaded diaper.

The reasons for delayed cuteness in infants are many and varied. It could be caused by a lack of...shall we say, the appropriate building materials. (Then again, you knew what you and your creation partner looked like beforehand...if those odds are against you tightly enough, they may smash your baby's face a little.) Maybe you're both pretty attractive, but just got the wrong blend of ingredients, like drizzling fine chocolate over an expensive steak. Maybe it's just in that awkward stage between freshly birthed naked mole rat and fully formed infant (saw that firsthand).

In any event, your baby is not cute yet...what a ripoff, right? I mean, that's the one thing they're absolutely supposed to do, according to everyone but me. Don't panic...it might not be permanent. Babies change a lot in the 2 years they spend as little monkeys before hopefully evolving into actual tiny humans...they get many upgrades, like motor skills and the ability to speak on what they want instead of shrieking for it...and maybe, just maybe, some cuteness.

However, it's a long time between here and there, and I imagine it ain't easy...here's something to help things look better when your baby refuses to. Here it is...umf presents "So your baby ain't cute yet...now what?"

1) Dress them in the cutest clothes imaginable. Give people who know the social obligation to compliment something about a new baby something to work with. Maybe your kid looks like something you found in a Cabbage Patch, but that doesn't mean that hat it's wearing isn't just the cutest little thing. Many baby clothes are specifically designed with cuteness in mind...hey, if they're dishing "so cute"s in the baby's direction, that's close enough, ain't it?

2) Wrap them up from head to toe. For best results, all babies need to be kept constantly warm and yours needs to be constantly concealed. This covers both. The total hiding of a physical form has likely worked wonders for unattractive Muslim women for thousands of years...it can work for your baby as well.

3) Don't ask, don't tell. People are usually pretty willing to let your fugly little rugrat pass without negative comment, for fear that appearing to insult others where it relates to their children will affect their own somehow. They'll hold it for a second, fake a smile or 2, then give it back. Leave it at that.

Asking something like "isn't he/she just precious?" is a setup that might lead to a Lord of the Rings joke with a sufficiently tactless person. Never overestimate someone's ability to lie politely...if there's a chance you won't like the honest answer, don't ask the question.

4) Keep it to yourself for a month or 2. As mentioned before, pretty much every kid comes out looking very little like our species. This fades faster for some babies than others, and just may take a little longer for yours.

As a result, you should probably keep baby around people you know will say nice, untruthful things, like family and close friends until that happens...or at least until it learns a couple cute actions like sucking on its toes. That way, only one person at a time has to put their foot in their mouth...all babies look cute doing things like that.

5) Realize, it's not the end of the world. It probably won't even last long. The majority of babies eventually do aquire some cuteness in lighting besides that in which their parents see them. However, as you well know, (or maybe don't, in which case you might just find something out about yourself) many is the baby who stays not cute yet until they become an adult who isn't cute yet.

It's not the worst thing ever. Looks aren't everything, just a whole lot. Plenty of people were born with noncuteness and other handicaps and made nice little lives for themselves regardless. (These people usually have to go out of their way to develop awesome personalities...never too early to get that ball rolling.) Still, if your baby gets to about a year old without growing any cuter, you might have to accept that it's just not going to happen. Try to love your baby just as much as you would otherwise...maybe even a little more, they'll need it.

Hopefully you enjoyed this look at your baby and its cuteness development...very few other people do. For umf, this is AJ...thank you, and good...luck.


Patently Imaginary: Everlasting Breath Mints

"Not trying to be rude, insult or cause trouble, but your breath ends discussions, a perfect rebuttal. I'll try to help you in a manner most subtle, so kindly pop this in your mouth on the double."
 One of my favorite childhood movies is "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" (no, don't even mention that off-brand replica nonsense from a few years ago, I'm talking about the original here). Pretty much everybody that counts has seen the movie, and anybody that has remembers one Wonka confection in particular...the Everlasting Gobstopper.

This eternal treat was depicted as what looked like a sugar-based atom model in the movie, and did exactly what a candy called "everlasting" should do. It was translated into real life as a kind of candy, although this intepretation was simply a round ball consisting of a series of candy coatings enveloping a piece of chalk that certainly did not last forever, or even for a whille.

Disappointing as it was to find out for the first time that large corporations apparently find joy in lying to small children all those years ago, I found myself thinking of ways that a candy could be modified to last until the end of time. The idea stuck with me, popping up at random times, but it wasn't until I one day had a short conversation with a young lady whose breath smelled like a threat against my entire family...instead of a time-defying supercandy, why not a infinite mint? (Minterminables? That's mine...now anybody that uses it has to pay.)

Think about it...imagine a world in which nobody's breath was a weapon. Wouldn't it be great to buy your last breath-freshener? To eat and drink completely as one pleased with no regard for how close you may have to talk to someone later? You could drink a pot of garlic coffee and still go on a first date at a moment's notice. I don't know about you, but in an age where we're talking more than ever, a more permanent form of breath control is needed. It would probably be pretty expensive, but that kind of confidence on demand is near-priceless.

Beyond that, think of others! People you know and may or may not care about! Wouldn't it be nice to never have to encounter another literally foul-mouthed person? I don't think I have to explain why never having another inter-conversational ballistic missile launched at you is a good thing. You could even give them to the needy as presents...it's the gift that really keeps giving.

Of course, this is all just my imagination at work. I have none of the technical expertise or likely very expensive materials to craft neverending treats of any kind in my own home...but that's what the "they" in the title is about, right? Bad breath is at least as important as global warming...might even be a contributing cause. So, yeah...get on that, science.


"Fresh Uncensored Critical Knowledge" Interview With the Black Urban Times

So, as y'all should know (or I suck at what I'm trying to do), I got this book I'm trying to force people to read called "Fresh Uncenored Critical Knowledge for Your Life". I've been promo-ing it pretty hard, and people are just starting to take notice. Among those who took the opportunity to hop on a future trend were the fine folk at  blackurbantimes.net, who (unlike a certain BC moderator) saw fit to sit me down and ask a few questions about me, my new career, and my life in general...of course, I was happy to oblige.

You can check out the original post on the Black Urban Times website, but since it's hard enough to get people to read anything over 140 characters these days, for your reading convenience I'm reposting it here on umf...enjoy!

How long have you been writing?

Well, I learned to read around 2 and always had a love for the pen starting when I learned to use the English language as a weapon through reading way too much everything as a child...books, magazines, food labels, the cleaning stuff under the sink...that last one might have saved my toddler life a few times.

More currently, I've been spreading my various asshollectualisms around the internet on social networks and a few message boards (shoutout NT, BC and BTB!) since we were still getting America Online discs in the mail and I used to kill the AIM away message game...so I guess depending on what you're asking, I've been writing since I could hold a pencil and a conversation.

What made you interested in writing?

Like I said, I've been writing all my life, but it wasn't until I got a little older that I realized the power of humor. I learned at a very early age that you could say pretty much anything you wanted as long as it made people laugh long enough to forget to get offended, and I've been using that to my advantage for a while now.

Even more, there's a certain quality about writing, specifically, that lets you really get expressive and intricate in your work...really put your face on it. Plays on words, letter tricks, rhyme schemes, a carefully written sentence that you might read twice and get 2 different interpretations out of...I feel like there's a lot of personality in writing. Plus, hell...people kept telling me I was good at it. That helped.

Do you have any books published?

One, as of right now...it's called "Fresh Uncensored Critical Knowledge for Your Life" and is available in print and ebook form on Amazon, my own site http://undermyfitted.blogspot.com, on the Facebook fanpage, and anywhere else with the balls to stock it it in the future. (*smile, thumbs up, end commercial*)

Judge this book by its cover.

It's definitely getting a little love but I could always use more, ya know? Gonna start work on book #2 very soon tho.

What kind of stuff do you tend to write about?

The shorter answer is "what kind of stuff DON'T" I tend to write about? Of course, I like doing the life observations,on family, relationships, work, things we all can relate to for better or worse...the human condition always makes good material and that's what I'm doing with the first few books.

Really though, I'm a very eclectic person and I have a lot of interests. As anybody who reads my personal stuff (shout out all umf'ers, obviously...) knows, I'm liable to write about damn near anything depending what's...uh...under my fitted on that day. In the last couple weeks, I've posted about the pros and cons of being a Power Ranger as a career path, the birth (and DNA testing) of my kid, and how much it can suck not to know what to eat for dinner.

In the past, I've done everything from a guide on how to spot a hoodrat, crazy personal stories that seem to happen to me more than most, possibly because I take public transportation, current events in the news, life issues, 1,001 uses for the word "fuck" (#1 is "as the title of a book")...I do this in general, man.

Can you tell us about your latest book?

Sure can...I was going to anyway, I just hoped you would ask first.

Basically, it's a book of jokes and observations about life pretending to be a self-help book and it's in 3 parts. Part 1 is about jobs and work and talks about things like training, not getting your lunch taken, and how not to kill your co-workers, even when they ask for it.

Part 2 is on relationships (vertical and horizontal) and discusses friends, family, dating (from meeting and greeting to skeeting to cheating) and is the only place I know where you can learn to draft a partner just like the pros using the 10 Plliars of Partner Drafting.

Part 3 is all about social networking, and is a comprehensive guide to helping people not act like they ain't got no homescreen training...I even threw in a guide to stalking people online, since people make it so easy nowadays (it also works as a guide against being stalked online, if you don't want to be followed while not on Twitter.)

Where did the idea from the book come from? Is it based on a true story or real people?

Damn right it's based on a true story...real life. I'm probably not going to tell you anything you haven't heard before, but I'll definitely tell you in a way you never heard it so you just might think about it in a way you never have.

What inspires your writing?

Every day I wake up. I can't remember the last day I went all my waking hours without a single inspiration, positive or negative. It's a little like a superpower, turning everyday bullshit into fuel for my creative fire. Hell, I can't turn it off...kinda wish I could sometimes (but not really).

Is there any kinda ritual you must follow to get you in the writing mood? Eg: I can only write at night and must have a glass of wine and music playing low in the background.

Well, I do usually require my inspirational herbal treatment and a nice ethanol infusion can be very relaxing after a long day. Seriously, I'm ALWAYS writing. Things I see, conversations I have, events that transpire, thoughts that cross my mind, people's dumb ass Facebook statuses...I can't escape writing things down, I even have an app on my smartphone (aka part of my right palm) allowing me to jot down 2 or 3 words at a time that eventually develop into posts or even bigger projects. The constant engine noise of my mind running makes it hard to sleep sometimes, but it's worth it when I feel more awake than most people ever get. My ritual is just living.

As a writer do you have plans to branch out into any other styles of writing eg, song writing, scriptwriting?

I've thought about it. I've got a couple screenplays in the works and want to eventually focus more on that. I'm pretty good with words...maybe I can give this mostly trashbag crop of current mainstream musicians some help as a songwriter or ghostwriter...maybe I'll troll that industry for a while just for fun haha... Seriously,I do plan to branch out. Just going to open a couple doors for myself and see what's behind 'em, you know?

Where else can we see your writing?

Well, there's umf where I've been writing for 3+ years, people like that and I like doing it...I don't see myself giving that up anytime soon...check that out at ajmoses.com. Other than that...um, there's Facebook...a lot of people say I'm high on their "entertaining friends" list, the rest just say I'm high. (facebook.com/ajse7en)

What's next for you?

Well, there's the next book I'm going to be working on "What to Expect When You're Expecting The Worst"...it's about dealing with pregnancy and very early parenthood from the less-explored side...daddy's (especially those fathers who...uh...let's say, ain't as eager about the whole thing). Obviously that's a slice of my own life right now...another "next" is actually trying to raise a child (hey, baby DX) ...we'll see how that turns out...and there will probably eventually be a book about that too haha.

Other than that, I'm really just trying to get my pro writing career started...better promo, find an agent, get a book deal, mention my status as a published author in a pickup line...you know, really make things official. The next stage of my life is next...should be fun to see what happens.

Whats your twitter feed?

It's @fuck_4_yourlife. I have a personal beef against Twitter, so I refuse to use my own name haha...besides, changing it is blocked at work, the only place I'm on...sorry, sensitive Twits. :)

That was fun...won't be the last either.