Bad news, professional critics -- the Internet is replacing you with altruism. User review sites like Yelp.com have thrived simply because they never underestimated humanity's collective desire to complain out loud. Like heroes with entitlement as our superpower, we will find fault and nitpick free of charge for the greater good. Granted, we're still clumsy at it. We get distracted easily, abandoning our restaurant review to focus instead on that guy two tables over who laughed weird (one star, avoid at all costs!), or we lose track of our insightful critique of the local miniature golf course, fixating instead on that mentally handicapped kid in front of us who took forever and looked like he might be contagious (two stars, stay away until management puts up a sign or something).
Getty Sweet Christ. Just do it for her already!
But even though some of us fundamentally misunderstand how criticism works, sites like Yelp are still useful when they work properly. Unfortunately, the reviews are usually limited to businesses when there are whole unexplored quadrants of life where evaluations like these would be extraordinarily helpful. In that spirit, I want to request that we all start pitching in to make Yelp reviews for the places that need them the most.
Review By: Joey from Her Junior Year of College
My girlfriend and I stayed here over Thanksgiving weekend in 2003. We broke up before Christmas. It's pretty safe to say the visit did irreparable damage to our relationship. While I don't recommend going at all, particularly if you want to keep seeing Molly, certainly stay away during the peak season between November and January to avoid the extended family crowds. If you're forced to visit during that window, you'll be sucked into endless conversations with her partially deaf Aunt Claire about her signature method of attack when expressing her Pomeranian's anal gland. You'll also spend at least one entire afternoon helping Molly's father chop wood out back while he deliberately mispronounces your name to make it more effeminate.
"C'mon, let's hurry it up before my daughter grows out of her lesbian phase and dumps you."
Assuming her grandfather on her mother's side is still alive, he has a tiny ponytail. Not a big weird rat tail or anything, but it's still something you should be prepared for beforehand.
Now, there's a good chance her brother Cameron will still be living at home. You will be sharing a room with him. He is a secret PCP enthusiast and he keeps a secret gun in the third drawer of his dresser. He's going to show it to you, secretly. If you are not adequately impressed during this showcase, he will distrust you throughout your entire stay and he'll watch you sleep.
At least one night during the trip, you will have to listen through the wall to a fight between Molly's parents. They are separated but living together until Cameron graduates from the community college he secretly isn't attending. It's possible this fight will end in slammed doors or worse, rhythmic whimpering from both parties that the walls will, impossibly, amplify rather than mute. The noise will not distract Cameron from watching you.
All said, I highly suggest you avoid staying here. This isn't a weird territorial ex-boyfriend thing -- I'm really just looking out for you. Until it's under new management, stay away from Your Girlfriend's Parents' House. Oh, and the parking situation is terrible, too.
The dog was cool, but he's probably dead by now.
Review By: Tina, Project Managing Assistant to the Deputy Director of Communications, 2008-2010
2 1/2 Stars
I'm giving this job two-and-a-half stars because it pays well, the work isn't too demanding and the kitchen has free yogurt. I'm leaving the other two-and-a-half stars blank, though, because on a daily basis, the office culture here will make you wonder how long bleeding to death would take if you locked yourself in the copy room and punched through the glass of the Xerox machine, wrists first.
It always makes me feel better to think about Gary from sales being the first to find my corpse.
There is an all-office meeting at 9:30 every morning where you will be obligated to participate in the company chant. If you are late or you are caught not chanting and just mouthing the words to the chant, hoping no one will notice, you will lose one Passion Point from the Motivation Station Leader Board. If more than three Passion Points are deducted over a week period, you will have to forfeit one of the Incentive Carrot Coins from your personal FUN FUNd.
To earn the token back, you can attend three Tension Tamers: Perspective Training & Hot Yoga sessions on Sunday mornings led by the head of HR/CFO of the company, or you can appeal to the Culture Committee, who will then meet to determine if you deserve to keep your Carrot Coin. As a warning, they will not hear your case within a month of Christmas, Valentine's Day, President's Day, Easter, Independence Day, Halloween or any birthday, because they will be in full planning mode.
The coins, it turns out, mean nothing. They can't be exchanged or cashed in at any point. They are just shiny trinkets meant to distract people from the overwhelming depression of losing years of their lives to a Sisyphean job.
"I can't even remember what liking something feels like."
Surprisingly, if you happen to accuse any of the managers of pitting employees against one another in a competition of synthetic enthusiasm to keep them from realizing their own inconsolable sadness, you will not lose any Passion Post-its or Carrot Coins. You will only be fired.
Review By: Michael Goodman, aka Rabbit, aka Metal Mike
Man, I get it. When music hits just right, it's like dropping your mind in a pile of warm laundry. You can feel it on your skin and in your guts, re-synching your heart, your lungs, your lower intestine.
I don't know what it is about this festival that rattles it all loose in me, but I sometimes feel like a solo performance in one of those plastic johns can be as transcendent as any solo I've ever heard up on that stage. The trick though is that you've got to know the good toilets from the bad. Your first instinct is probably to go for the first one that's open. WRONG. That's dead wrong. The Portas to the left of the funnel cake booth are unusable. I know they're the easiest to spot, but that's part of the problem; anyone in an emergency situation is going to head straight for those. That includes the pukers, too. If you're lucky enough to actually find toilet paper in one of these, it will be damp, because in an emergency people are only interested in getting everything out and less picky about where it goes. Also sitting is impossible. Steer clear of these crappers.
Each of these doors leads to a Narnia of bodily egestions.
The best toilets are the two Porta-Potties over by the First-Aid tent. They're separate from all the other facilities and nobody goes over there unless they're hurt. You can tell they're never used because the urinal cakes are still completely whole and it smells cleaner, like a veterinary clinic or something. There's also a functioning sink you can fiddle with. Little touches like that make all the difference. I can't recommend these toilets enough.
I'd camp in here if they'd let me.
Sometimes the EMTs are up for a conversation through the wall if they're not busy pulling glass out of someone's foot. It's weird, though -- they almost never want to talk about music that's so good, it pushes through you like fiber, and honestly, that's really all I want to talk about most days. That's why I'm only giving them four stars.
Review By: Karen and That Guy She's Been Kind of Seeing
Do not go to this party after 11:30, you will regret it. There is no chance you will ever catch up with everyone else's level of intoxication, and as a result, you will be annoyed the entire time. We arrived at midnight and there was clearly supposed to be some kind of overly ambitious theme to this party but we never found out what it was. All the half-assed decorations had since fallen into a disintegrating beer-soaked mess on the floor. From the partial costumes people still hadn't abandoned for comfort, the premise seemed to have been either pirates or Reconstruction-era South. No one could give us a straight answer, not even the guy we're pretty sure lives there (Carl? Craig? Conner?), and we couldn't ask the girl with the eye patch because it looked like it might be genuine.
When we tried to get a drink, we discovered that all the hard alcohol was completely gone, or was never present to begin with. A boy who couldn't have been older than 17 ushered us into a bedroom and revealed a bottle of Sour Apple Pucker in his backpack like he was some kind of goddamn hero. He offered us shots out of an empty Ritalin container, but we declined.
Like drinking the saliva from someone else's mouth after they finish an apple Jolly Rancher.
While you may find a few people hanging out in the kitchen or feeling each other up in the stairway, the thick of the party, we found, was around the keg in the basement behind a wall of body odor. There were so many people packed into one room that the air was blurry with sweat.
"Is it a different theme down here? Seriously, what the hell is everyone supposed to be?"
During one precarious moment, we were shuffled into a circle where soaking-wet, full-grown adults put their arms around us and insisted we sing along with their intramural flag football team cheer. We didn't know it. We left after seven minutes.
Ultimately, if you enjoy stale keg beer, furniture pulled from street corners, a terrified cat and wobbly shirtless guys trying to convince girls to kiss each other, then you're going to love this party. However, if you already went to college and wordlessly decided years ago that you would never put up with this kind of bullshit again, then That Friend of a Friend's House Party probably isn't for you. Instead, please see the Yelp review for staying home and watching Heat on Netflix.
For more from Soren, check out A Letter to Parents About the Fake 'Teen Crazes' on the News and The 5 Dumbest Supernatural Questions Ever Googled (Answered).