03rd May2013

West Week Ever – 5/3/13

by Will
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Who had the West Week Ever? Read on to find out!

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So, I saw Iron Man 3 last night. No spoilers here, but I enjoyed it. I realized something about the franchise as a whole: I never thought I’d say this, but I prefer Terence Howard’s Rhodey to Don Cheadle’s. Even though their relationship ebbs and flows, Tony and Rhodey aren’t the buddy cop movie that they are in the Cheadle movies. Cheadle’s kind of a simp (check urban dictionary if you don’t know what that means). Give him a suit, and he’s happy. Howard, however, gave a little more push-back, more resistance with Tony, which is more inline with the character. Plus, Howard felt more like a military man, while Cheadle feels like an off duty cop. You don’t get the same sense of decorum from him, and he’s out of his uniform more than he’s in it. Howard recently said that Cheadle was always the first choice, and that his agent had gotten him the role. That’s why he wasn’t too upset when he was recast. Still, I have to think the casting director thought they’d be getting House of Lies Don Cheadle, when they instead got Golden Palace Don Cheadle. Other than that, I’ve got no major fanboy quibbles with the film. We’ll discuss more once everyone’s seen it.

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Speaking of comic book movies, Justin Aclin wrote a great post about colorblind casting in superhero movies. If you didn’t know, a rumor surfaced this week that black actor Michael B. Jordan is being courted to play Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four reboot. Just like with the Donald Glover/Amazing Spider-Man controversy, there’s a bunch of “Why are you making him black? He’s white! I’m not racist for saying that! He’s always been white!” Well, maybe that’s why the franchise doesn’t work. I actually liked the last two Fantastic Four movies because A) I didn’t expect much and B) they were comic accurate, as they were just as boring as the books. I swear, I don’t care how you try to jazz them up, the Fantastic Four concept is boring as fuck. They’re sold as “Marvel’s First Family”, but they’re only interesting when they’re dysfunctional. My very first issue was when Sue redesigned her costume to make it more revealing so that Reed would notice her. Here she was, the MILF of the Marvel Universe, and her husband didn’t even pay attention to her.  That was interesting. Instead, they do a bunch of boring shit now. Maybe it’s the state of the world, or I’m a huge cynic, but I’d probably enjoy it more if they were constantly in need of family counseling with Doc Samson or something. The boring, white, milquetoast family just doesn’t interest anyone anymore. So I say make him black. Stir the pot a little. Hell, cast Jaden Smith if ya want. And make Reed Richards from India. Not all smart guys are white, and comedian Russell Peters taught us you can have an Indian dude with a Western name.

The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing us that Coolio was ever a “gangsta”.

On a related note, who the fuck is L.V., and whatever happened to him? Oh, he was shot? I guess he was the gangsta referenced in the song!

Jack Diamond

This will only interest local folks, but it’s worth discussing. Last Saturday, after 24 years on the air, local DJ Jack Diamond was canned from his morning show. This is a big deal, as he was an institution around here. He had the show for 24 years! Hell, most radio stations flip formats after 4. I discovered him just as I was catching up to contemporary music.

A lot of people know this, but I listened to country from birth til about the age of 10. I got out just before Garth Brooks, which is why I don’t get the hype, nor do I chime in with all the drunks when they start singing “Friends In Low Places”. At this point in time, it may be hard to believe, but there was no real “pop”. Sure, there was NKOTB, but most of that stuff played on stations we’d now label “adult contemporary” (a post for another time, but “pop” didn’t really make a comeback until around ’95). I used to carpool with a teacher at school, and she’d listen to Jack Diamond’s show. Jack’s sidekicks were Barbara Britt and Bert. The inside joke of the show was that they only had “7 beloved listeners”. They had normal morning show banter, but it was safe for kids, and there were no cheater scams or sex tales. I loved it so much that I went home and changed my radio’s dial to Jack’s station. I used to sleep with the radio on, so I got used to Don Henley and Wilson Philips singing me to sleep and waking me up. Eventually, “pop” would make its triumphant return, and I’d move to stations that played that music. I left Jack Diamond behind, and eventually Barbara and Bert left, too. Jack got new sidekicks and kept chugging along. Over the past year, I’d heard rumblings about contract disputes, but never thought it was serious. Meanwhile, the story got Shakespearean. You see, Bert spent the last 10 yrs or so building his name in Atlanta – basically becoming as big a star there as Jack is here. So, imagine everyone’s shock last Saturday when it was announced that not only was Jack fired, but Bert would be taking over his show. The student becomes the master. Anyway, I wish Jack well. I’d heard he was kind of a dick, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from a local celebrity. I’m sure he’ll land on his feet somewhere, but it’s a sad day for DC radio.

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Last weekend, I had to go to Ocean City for some mega birthday weekend for some of Lindsay’s friends. On Saturday, we went out to dinner, but as we pulled into the parking lot, we noticed what appeared to be a young couple putting their child in their trunk. Immediately, I knew the dad was a douche because he was wearing salmon pants. For you folks “secure in your masculinity”, that means “pink”. The girls were in a hurry to drink, so we didn’t linger. Once inside, we tried to verify amongst ourselves that we had all seen what we thought we had seen. The couple came in, and dude was drunk as shit. Oh yeah – there was no kid with them. So, we start wondering “Did they put the kid in the trunk so they could keep drinking?” Pink Pants was shitfaced, and his wife just had a doting headshake about her, kinda like a 50s sitcom mom. PP started talking to the folks in our group, but no one would ask about the kid. I really wanted to know, ’cause he might be running out of air. I forgot to mention that we all work for schools, so, technically, we’ve got to report this kind of thing to CPS. The problem is that we had NO PROOF. Eventually, someone asked him and he got really pissed. He said something like, “Yeah, I shoved him down in there”, and we couldn’t tell if he was joking or not. At this point, I decided to take a cue from Spider-Man: “Sorry, man. Not my problem.” Of course, this means Pink Pants would later kill my uncle. Eventually, a girl in their group screamed, “You’re an embarrassment!” at PP. They left soon afterwards. Once they were gone, I said a quiet prayer: “Everyone has a moment to be a hero, and I chose to ignore mine. I treated it like a bus, figuring another would come along. Anyway, RIP Trunk Kid.” Later that night, we saw the couple pull up to Seacrets in a cab. Still, no kid with them. So, either they left him with the grandparents, or they simply got tired of the smell…

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Did I go too far there? Good, ’cause I needed to brace you for another controversial thought. This will probably keep me from ever running for public office, but here it goes. Dear homeless women: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG! I staunchly believe that there should be no such thing as a homeless woman. Due to sexual politics, no woman should ever find herself out on the streets for a prolonged period of time. Why is that? Well, I’m glad you asked. The world is FULL of quiet, soft-spoken, possibly ugly, lonely men. These aren’t the guys who are trolling bars for minge. No, these are the guys who lived with their mother until she died, and now they don’t know what to do with themselves. They’re used to being taken care of, but don’t really know how to fill that void. If I were a woman who was either homeless, or felt an onset of homelessness on the way, I would seek out these men, and I’d be just fine. Some of you are probably saying, “But you’d be using him, and that’s not cool.” We’d actually be using each other. I would cook for him and do whatever else, and we would take care of each other’s needs. “But you wouldn’t love him!” Let’s be mature about this. The western concept of love is some Hollywood bullshit. Everyone wants that story of “I was in the supermarket, and we both reached for the same cantaloupe!” That’s sweet, but what I’m describing is not much different from an arranged marriage. I feel like two things might happen: A) you’d actually be into him instantly OR B) you’d learn to love him. I’m not saying you have to be in love with him, but you’d still come to respect him for what he had done in your life. Sex isn’t everything. Hell, if I had to bang an old man every couple of weeks, instead of fending off rapists and getting a meth addiction on the streets, I say, “Saddle up, grandpa!” The man put a roof over your head, let you drive his car, and kept you safe. You would fucking learn to love and appreciate him. Believe that!

Links I Loved
c2e2 2013 Round Up! (The Robot’s Pajamas)

Team Hellions UnderScoopFire! Takeover (Team Hellions/UnderScoopFire!)

(Aunt) May Day (Cold Slither Podcast)

Reunited with an Uncanny piece of my past… (Branded In The 80s)

This Week’s Posts
Monday Musings – Mutation Inconsistencies in the 80s TMNT Universe

Thrift Justice – That Figures

And be sure to check out Will’s World of Wonder for all your action figure and collectible needs!

One of them is old-timey “happy” to be playing basketball, while another just lost his morning job. One just sold her staged “sex tape” to Vivid for $1M, while the other is Iron Man. But only one could have the West Week Ever.

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You know who he is. He’s Iron Man! In the words of Stan “The Man” Lee, “Nuff Said!” This is why Robert Downey Jr/Tony Stark had the West Week Ever.

12th Apr2013

West Week Ever – 4/12/13

by Will
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Who had the West Week Ever? KEEP READING!

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We took a week off, but we’re back! Why am I saying “we”? I’m the only one here… Anyway, it’s been an interesting week online, to say the least.

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Anyone remember back when The Craft came out, and every white girl you knew decided she wanted to be a witch? This was right before her “Lesbian, For The Attention” phase. I’ve been thinking about college lately, as I’m avoiding committing to my 10 year reunion. One thing I laugh about every time I think about it is the time my friend Ted and I got two girls to kiss. Not just a peck, but full on making out. They were SUCH attention whores, and I was such a douche. Anyway, I said, and I quote, “No one will ever take this away from us!” How sad was it that I considered that to be a high point in life? Now I think about it and just laugh and laugh. At myself.

My pal Jon over at Double Dumbass On You sent me this clip last night:

I have so many issues! First off, this kid’s belly button makes me retch. I’m sorry for any of you guys with outies, but it looks like a tumor or something. I’m also really curious about the cultural distinctions in the video: only the “white bitches” (that’s not derogatory – that’s their music video rank) actually pop their booties near the kid. The black girls keep their distance, probably because he’s their cousin or something. And how hard up for meth do you have to be to perform in such a thing? Take a look at that one chick – sure, she’s poppin’ her cheeks, but it looks like no one told her she’d need waterproof mascara. And what’s with that other chick?! SHE AIN’T GOT NO BOOTY TO POP! Did she win a contest or something? Or was this community service? Was she being held hostage?

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He’s the biggest boss that was fired this week: Rick Ross lost his Reebok deal after rapping about rape. Not sure why you’d have a fat guy promoting your athletic shoe, but whatever. America. So, with this precedent, I bet we’re gonna take a whole bunch of other shit off the shelves and out of the iTunes store, right? RIGHT? Oh, this was just an isolated incident? Even though hip hop’s been saying fucked up shit forever? Oh, OK. I’d get some heat for this if I actually had a sizable black readership, but I’m constantly amazed by the shit Black America gets mad about. No, I’m not justifying rape or rape culture. I just don’t get how hip hop culture chooses its battles. I mean, how does Rick Ross even still have fans to be angry? Everybody makes fun of his weight, everyone makes fun of his titties, everyone makes fun of his dislike for wearing shirts. Hell, everyone mocked him when it came out that he was a fraud and former prison guard. There were MANY chances to get off that train, and folks stayed on. What he said was wrong, but he’s targeted because America’s on High Rape Alert in the media. Once the focus shifts over to gun control, the entire hip hop community better be scared. Oh, They don’t rap about guns and getting shot anymore? Fuck, what is hip hop about these days? Oh, right – they rap about going to Cuba.

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OK, I need some help with this one. I’m not exactly loved in the G.I. Joe circles of the internet, for whatever reason, but I need someone to clear something up for me. You see, my love of G.I. Joe came from my older cousin, Oliver. He lived in New York, and was about 6 years older than me. I eventually inherited his Joe collection once he discovered girls, but I have a very distinct memory that I can’t back up. One year, in the mid 80s (I know it was mid, as this was the ONLY time I’d ever seen Knight Rider toys at retail), his family came down to visit and we all went to Toys “R” Us. He got one of the most recent Joes, as I couldn’t wait for him to open it so that I could play with it. Here’s where it gets weird: I remember him taking something out of the pack, and pop it in his mouth. Originally, I thought it was a backpack, but it was an odd purple color at a time when G.I. Joe hadn’t journeyed too far from actual military colors. I remember going, “Ew, why did you put that in your mouth?!” and he told me that it was candy and began to chomp away. Now, since then, I have noticed many different G.I. Joe pack-ins, from body transfers to standard mail-in pamphlets, but I’ve found no reference of a candy promo. I always thought it was a Bonkers chew, but I can’t any proof of such a pack-in. So, was he just fucking with me OR was there actually a candy pack-in for G.I. Joes back in the 80s? Help me, Internet!

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While I’m help from the Internet, I’ve got another question: do any of you have music in your iTunes that you’ve never heard? Here’s my dilemma: I am a music HOARDER. I’ve forgotten all the stuff I have, but I feel like I have to give everything a “once through” before it gets synced to my iPod. That way, I can weed out tracks I don’t like and save some space. At least, that was the original intent, when I still had a 30 GB iPod. About a year and a half ago, my wife got me the 160 GB iPod where space isn’t an issue. But I’ve never taken it out of the box. Why? Well, I got a new computer during that time, and all my music is scattered across multiple external hard drives. Every time I have an extended break, my plan is to finally get everything on the new iPod, but it never happens. A bigger problem is that my music comes from the back alleys of the internet, so I have to clean up tags and album art; it’s the OCD in me. So, I’ve probably got as many gigs of music I’ve never heard as I have of music that’s already been vetted. So, do I suck it up, throw everything on the iPod and discover the songs that way, or do I continue on my “preview” path, which just prolongs my getting the iPod set up? Anyone else deal with this? Thoughts?

My posts this week have been all over the place, so we can’t go with the usual list format. First off, I threw together the rare Sunday post in order to submit my uber popular submission for the League of Extraordinary Bloggers’ weekly topic. Then, I felt guilty for missing last week’s West Week Ever, so I pseudo made up for it on Monday with The Week That Wasn’t. Then, I brought back Thrift Justice Road Trip to talk about the antique mall that I explored with @LamarRevenger. Finally, I was welcomed to pen a guest post over at The Cold Slither Podcast’s site to commemorate the start of the Masters Golf Tournament. So, be sure to check out all of those links!

Speaking of Lamar, I’d like to congratulate him for his winning prediction in the Cold Slither Podcast’s Slither Madness Tournament! It couldn’t have happened to a greater dude, and he’ll be receiving something from Will’s World of Wonder. Be sure to check out the site yourself, as I’m sure I’ve got something you’d love to add to your collection! Why catch waves or fill yourself with rage when I’ve done the legwork for you?

One set race relations back to House of Buggin’ levels, while one set off the boners of fanboys everywhere. One punked everyone with a tweet, while the other is the world’s most famous Kim Jong-Il impersonator. Only one, however, had the West Week Ever!

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Sorry, America, but it’s my site. I could’ve gone with LL and Brad, but they released a newer song by week’s end. I couldn’t give a shit about Carrie Kelley, and I REALLY don’t care about Morris Chestnut. So, that leaves us with Psy. This week, he released “Gentleman”, which everyone expects to replace Gangnam Style. It won’t, but people can still dream. Apparently, there’s a dance with it, but the video isn’t out yet. Anyway, it’s got a good beat, and the man shouts “Westside!” More appropriately, he correctly shouts it as “West SaYEED!” Get this man a Green Card! You can listen below, but for this, Psy had the West Week Ever

UPDATE: The video has arrived! If only I’d waited 24 hours…

11th Jan2013

West Week Ever – 1/11/13

by Will

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So, I’m really into this app called Pocket (Formerly Read It Later). Yeah, you have to put in the parenthetical part, kinda like “Millionaire Playboy Bruce Wayne” or “The Artist Formerly Known As Mousecop”. Anyway, it allows you to save links for articles you’d like to read at a later date. The problem with the app, however, is that I never actually go back and read anything. I wanted to make a dent in the backlog over winter break, but I didn’t get very far. So, as I clear out the inventory, I’ll be sharing some of the most interesting stuff with you. Be warned: I’ve been using the app since July, so you’ve probably seen some of these already.

 

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I’ve always been fascinated by Scientology. It’s shrouded in so much secrecy, which only make me more curious. Unlike most people, I really try not to bash it because it’s really no crazier than most organized religions. And I say that as a practicing Christian. EVERY dogma requires you to sign on for some crazy shit. That’s where “Faith” comes in, and all that jazz. We’re all just trying to get through life the best way we can. Anyway, if you’ve ever been curious about Scientology, this is the BEST series I’ve ever read. It’s a 6-part essay written by a woman who was raised in, and later left, the church. If you’re just thinking, “Fuck them and their alien shit”, this isn’t the post for you. Skip to the next paragraph. However, if you have a genuine interest, click through as it’s a quick and engaging read.

I’m not even a Doctor Who fan, but I did get a kick out of Inspector Spacetime on Community. Well, as some of you may know, the guy who portrayed The Inspector used Kickstarter to fund a web series. So as to avoid litigation, the show is called Untitled Web Series About A Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time, and you can start watching the 6-episode first season here.

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Darius Rucker on Hootie and The Blowfish and his country career: “I think if we came out today, we would have to change the instrumentation on a few songs and rewrite a few songs,” he says.” We’d have to be a country band today. I thought we were as close to country music as you could be then. That’s why I thought when I started doing my country records that I wasn’t doing anything different.” I’ve been saying that last part the WHOLE TIME. He’s ALWAYS been country. (courtesy of Billboard). I like to think if I ever got famous, Darius and I would golf together, on courses where we shouldn’t be allowed to play.

Rachel Feinstein is my new comedic guilty pleasure, as she’s been cohosting mornings on Raw Dog Comedy. She’s a local girl, hailing from Bethesda, MD, but you may have seen her on Last Comic Standing. Anyway, she kinda reminds me of someone I used to know.

I’ve mentioned my disdain for the ending of Y: The Last Man, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the majority of the series. Compound that with the fact that I tend to HATE fan films, as their production values tend to be shit. That said, I would watch the fuck out of this movie.  Black men will recognize the lead Amazon (gang leader, not the mousy one) as Vida Guerra – the chick whose ass kept King Magazine in business.

 

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I said it was coming, and it’s here: I was invited to join @TimDogg98 of The Kliqnation and @ClassickMateria of The Cold Slither Podcast to discuss the events in Amazing Spider-Man #700. You can listen here, plus the link will be posted in the sidebar with the rest of my podcast appearances.

This Week’s Posts:

Thrift Justice – Sign Your Name Across My Art

Forgive Us Our Trespasses AKA Malled To Death

Oh, and buy my shit!

07th Dec2012

West Week Ever – 12/7/12

by Will

It truly was the West Week Ever! First off, y’all apparently had no thoughts on the Chris Brown post. Or you didn’t wanna share them. Either way, I felt what I said needed to be said. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming of pop culture and toy talk.

So, this was on the side of a site I was visiting:

I can’t hit her! She’s a girl! Yeah, Chris Brown sucks, but this doesn’t really send a great message, either. She’s not even wearing protective headgear!

I was on a podcast that went live this week, thanks to the guys at UnderScoopFire! That intro may be the best thing I’ve ever heard, and I plan to somehow make it my outgoing voicemail message. I had a great time discussing the aforementioned Breezy situation, spoilers, Twitter and more! I had no clue I’d trigger the shitstorm that arose in the comments section, but that was fun, too. His words ONLY MADE ME STRONGER!!! Anyway, be sure to give it a listen!

-Anyone remember when voice-tracking was the greatest kept secret in radio? Not sure what voice-tracking is? OK, basically, it’s when a DJ records a bunch of non regionally-specific banter between songs so that it can be used in another radio market. So, your favorite afternoon drive-time DJ actually does nights on a station in Arizona with the same format. It used to be kept quiet because it’s the boogeyman of the industry. I mean, why bring attention to the fact that a station owner could save money by hiring fewer DJs to man their stations? Anyway, this is how The Kane Show airs in DC, as well as 5 other stations. Or how Rob Kruz does night work halfway across the country. Nowadays, they talk about it like it’s nothing. That’s an important development, almost like when WWE finally pulled back the curtain to show how they did chair shots and table smashing. I mean, you do what you gotta do, lest you end up with a JACK format (no DJs, so no jobs), but I’m still surprised by how brazen it has become.

Speaking of radio, I just spent an afternoon studying how War of the Roses is made. It’s all fake! Why can’t ANYTHING in “reality programming” be REAL anymore?! I mean, there’s no way they’d get permissions from both parties, but still! It’d come off as more realistic if they didn’t have 2 different ones per week. Anyway, I stumbled upon this article that lays it all out.

 

So, I found this video this week. If you’re not familiar with the artist, it’s Shannon Bex – also known as “the white girl who wasn’t Aubrey O’Day in Danity Kane”. Don’t know who or what a Danity Kane is? You clearly didn’t watch Making the Band. Anyway, I’d heard that she wanted to go country, but I’m perplexed by this video. I haven’t watched CMT in a bit, but me thinks there be too many folks of color in this clip. I mean, it shows she’s “hip”, I guess, but the whole exercise just comes off as stilted. Also, she needs to go back to her old look, as the blonde think just makes her look like every other country starlet trying to fill the Taylor Swift gap.

Finally, something cool happened to me in the last week, as I got the attention of one of the writers of Power Rangers. Not just any writer, but the guy who wrote the anniversary episode “Forever Red” – Mr. Amit Bhaumik. His story’s pretty interesting, as it seems that he started out as just a superfan writing fanfic. Next thing you know, he’s working on the real deal. Anyway, last week he was talking about the change in Jason’s (original Red Ranger) personality from his last appearance in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to his return in Power Rangers ZEO. His character had been written out to go to an “international peace conference”, yet he came back like the conference was no longer an issue. So, I tweeted:

Shortly thereafter, I see this in my mentions:

He retweeted me! But that’s not all. Yesterday, I sent him the link to my Power Rangers theme post, and not only did he retweet that, but he also weighed in:

Look, I’m sorry I’m fanboying, but THIS IS A BIG DEAL TO ME! You’ve seen the Power Rangers posts! Anyway, that capped off my week on a good note.

I can’t go without mentioning Geeks for Tots. It’s a fun contest where you could win awesome prizes by donating to Toys for Tots. Some people resent the idea of “being rewarded” for doing a good deed, but you shouldn’t think of it that way. It’s a great cause, and you’ll be helping less fortunate kids to have a happy holiday season. Here’s an interview I did with the Geeks for Tots founder last year, and be sure to visit the site for more info. I’m not just a Geeks for Tots booster, but I’m also a sponsor. This is a VERY important weekend for the program, as the dropbox items will be collected soon. So, let’s get out there and put some smiles on some tiny faces!

Anyway, be sure to check out this week’s posts:

Comical Thoughts – When You’re A Spy…

Play It Again, Karone: A Look Back On 20 Years of Power Rangers Music

And feel free to buy something from me at Will’s World of Wonder!

03rd May2011

The America Post

by Will

Well, as I’m sure you all know now, America finally got him. You know…he’s got a ZZ Top beard? Yeah, him. Anyway, I’m not really going to get into all that, but I did want to join in the widespread patriotism that’s catching like Pokemon fever! I support the troops, and appreciate all that they do for us. I kinda wanted to share what America means to me. Of course, things hold different meanings for different folks, so you may not agree. I still wanted to express myself in some way. In any case, I thought about doing another 5-part thing, you know, like “America Week”, but I can’t keep up that schedule (What do you think this is? Postcultural?) So, I thought I would just put all of my feelings in one post, and let the videos do the talking. Fly your flag, let your bald eagle out of its cage, and join me in celebrating the good ol’ US of A!

04th Jan2011

My 20 Favorite Songs of 2010

by Will

Yes, I understand that it’s 2011, and that most people did these lists weeks ago. That’s the point. I didn’t want to get lost in the shuffle, so I figured I’d wait for everyone else to get their own lists out of their systems. Plus, I really didn’t want to be caught up in the whole “Best Of” phenomenon. I think it was during my time at Diamond when I realized that I’m not really qualified to judge the “best” of anything (which is probably why I never got tapped to judge the Eisners). Quality is completely relative, and all I know is what I like. So, instead of focusing on the best of 2010, I’m going to focus on the songs that I most enjoyed.

Now, as you know, I sometimes do a content sharing thing with TGRI Online . The thing is, I’m not their primary demographic. Usually, when I write something with a musical slant, I immediately think of posting it over on that site. With this kind of project, however, I’m fairly certain that that audience ain’t gonna be onboard with my choices. Likewise, I’m not always keyed into the musical tastes represented over there. I wouldn’t know moombahton if it threw a brick through my window. So, with that in mind, I figured I’d just do this for me. Of course, you’re welcome to follow along. I do, after all, like attention.

20. Christina Perri – Jar of Hearts

I think I first heard this song at a gas station, but it was beautiful. Apparently, it gained fame from being played on So You Think You Can Dance, but I never watched that show so I can’t vouch for that. It reminded me of a more mellow Evanescence, and I really loved that group. Back in the spring, I made a joke on twitter that I felt emo high school girls were probably scribbling these lyrics in their notebooks, and I still believe that.

19. Flo Rida – Club Can’t Handle Me

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: this song is WAY more fun than it has any right to be. I usually don’t like David Guetta’s stuff, and it’s a throwaway movie song. That said, I loved the Hell out of this song during the latter half of this year.

18. Bed Intruder Song – Antoine Dodson and The Gregory Brothers

Yes, I drank the Kool-Aid. Sure, I got tired of him just like everyone else, but this was truly the Year of the Autotuned Amateur. We got a ton of imitators, but none made as much of a mark as Mr. Dodson. “Hide your kids, hide your wife” became a part of our vernacular, and shows like Cougar Town were even giving shouts to the song.

17. Eminem – Not Afraid

We’ll leave the video out of this one, as I didn’t really dig the Em-As-Neo imagery, but I still loved this song. The lyrics are strong, but it’s the background that really makes the song. No, not the beat – the background. It’s really epic, like it could be a score for a superhero movie. I loved it so much that I rock the instrumental just as much as the album version.

16. Elton John & Leon Russell – When Love Is Dying

The critics weren’t too kind to Elton & Leon’s collaborative album The Union, but I love anything Sir Elton releases. Produced by T Bone Burnett, the album has a definite rural flair to it – one that we haven’t heard from Elton since around 2004’s Peachtree Road. This is one of the strongest tracks on the album, and after repeat listens, I simply fell in love with it.

15. Bruno Mars – Just The Way You Are

I’ll be honest: I didn’t like this song at first. No, let me correct myself. I loved the song, but I didn’t like Bruno on it. I didn’t think his voice was strong enough. I felt that it needed stronger vocals and more strings, which would’ve boosted it to the next level. Over time, though (especially due to BarkBite’s constant pimpage of the Bruno Mars brand), I came around to really liking the song. What I initially saw as weak vocals turned into a sort of earnestness. I think the public connected with that as well, which is why the song has become such a huge hit.

14. V.V. Brown – Shark In The Water

You can’t deny the hotness of that chorus. An import from the UK, V.V. hasn’t really taken off yet, but this song is popping up in commercials, so don’t count her out just yet.

13. Eminem feat. Lil Wayne – No Love

Ok, full disclosure: I am a fool for Haddaway’s “What Is Love?” Loved it when it came out, loved the A Night At The Roxbury revival, and I loved this. I kind had to give Em credit for even rapping over what some might consider to be a cheesy song. Not only that, but his flow is INSANE. To complete the circle, I also downloaded the instrumental. I’m not sure why more artists aren’t using that track on mixtapes, as there’s a lot of potential there.

12. Natasha Bedingfield – Touch

I’ve always loved the Bedingfield family. I think there’s audio evidence somewhere of me butchering “If You’re Not the One” on an Ithaca radio station. I even loved his little sister, even though her debut album was riddled with songs about how hard it was to write an album. So, I really liked this song, even though the video is really just a Plenty of Fish commercial. In any case, I felt Natasha was venturing into Kylie territory with this song, which isn’t a bad thing.

11. Chris Brown – Yeah 3x

This is dumb, but one of the things I love about this song is the name: it’s not “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah”, but is instead “Yeah Three Times”. It’s a stylistic thing, but it resonated with me. Whether you forgive him or not, CB’s back. I actually enjoyed Graffiti, but he still had the Rihanna incident looming over him. The video’s kind of a pandering affair, as he dances surrounded by a bunch of little kids, but I still found it to be a fun song.

10. Chris Young – Getting You Home

No, we’re not leaving country off this list! Lindsay & I listen to the country countdown every Sunday morning on the way to church, and this song was ALWAYS on. Avoiding the stereotypical country tropes, this is actually a really sexy song. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I really came to love this song over the course of the year.

9. Cee-Lo Green – Fuck You

This song needs no introduction or explanation. Next!

8. Miranda Cosgrove – Kissin’ U

If you follow me on twitter, you already know I have an unhealthy obsession with iCarly. It’s nothing dirty or unseemly – I just like bad television. A guilty pleasure, if you will. This song didn’t blow up too much, but I liked it because it sounded like something M2M might’ve released back during the Pop Renaissance of 2000.

7. DJ Khaled featuring a whole bunch of motherfuckers – All I Do Is Win

I’ve got so many versions of this song that I’ve lost count. I first heard it at my friend Jason’s wedding, and then I couldn’t stop hearing it. It gets in your head like that. The best way to listen to the song, however, is driving through the back roads of rural Virginia, at about 10 PM. Also, you’re required to take your hands off the wheel and make ’em stay there.

6. Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind Part 2

I’ve never been the biggest Jay-Z fan, but I will say that I love his samples. I have discovered more music than I can remember from samples that Jay-Z has used on his tracks (I’m still cranking “Ain’t No Love In the Heart of the City”). That said, as huge as his NYC anthem became, I preferred Alicia’s solo take on it more because it had more heart. While Jay is just name-dropping things you might see mentioned in an I Love NY brochure, Alicia really makes you feel what it’s like to be swept up in the city.

5. Neon Trees – Animal

This song is just infectious. It’s perfect for car jingles, fast food ads, and it’s got “one-hit wonder” written all over it. Despite all that, the sound is reminiscent of the days when The Killers sounded like they were actually having fun in the studio. I can only hope there are more like this from this group, but “Animal” was the only track I liked off their album Habits.

4. Shontelle – Impossible

This was a powerful ballad that just kind of snuck up on me. When I first heard it, I thought it might have been a new Brandy track, as it did have that “Brandy-When-She-Doesn’t-Suck” vibe to it. I remember not thinking much of Shontelle’s debut song, “T-Shirt”, but this track definitely changed my opinion of her. It was a slow burn up the charts, but I think she’s finally making a name for herself.

3. The Band Perry – If I Die Young

Back to the country stuff, this band seemingly came out of nowhere during the second half of the year. A family act, The Band Perry have only released 3 singles so far, but this one has gone to #1 on the country charts. As for subject matter, this is the kind of stuff Taylor Swift would be performing if she could grow out of her fairy tale obsession.

2. Darius Rucker – Comeback Song

I have loved Darius since the days when all of y’all were calling him “Hootie” (btw, he was not Hootie). While that group had an impressive debut and a pretty lengthy career, Darius has almost taken the Justin Timberlake path, as he has achieved way more as a solo country act than he ever did as a member of that group. The funny thing is that it’s not like he even really changed his sound; if you loved Hootie songs, you’ll love Darius’s solo songs. He’s the first black man to make an impact on country music in 2o years (sit down, Cowboy Troy!), and he’s been grabbing awards left and right. He’s not showing any signs of slowing down, and this was his biggest song of the year.

1. Sara Bareilles – King of Anything

Kaleidoscope Heart didn’t get a ton of love from critics, nor did I see it on anyone’s Best of 2010 list, but it was by far my favorite album of the year. I think a lot of people wanted to write Sara off after the success off “Love Song”, but this song proved that she wasn’t a one-hit wonder. It has the same lyrical playfulness of “Love Song”, but the beat and the handclaps really just help to bring it all together. Nobody does Cute Tell-Off songs quite like Sara. I highly recommend every track on the album, but this is my favorite, as well as my favorite song of the year.

Thanks for playing along! Leave your comments/concerns below. Next time, I’ll probably have a comic rant. That is, if I remember to pay my ISP…

13th Oct2010

Music Review: Toby Keith – Bullets In The Gun

by Will

A common occurrence in the music industry today is that it’s becoming more difficult to figure out which tracks are meant to be filler and which are meant to be singles. This is mainly due to the lackluster quality of  the tracks being released. When people wonder why music sales are on the decline, they need only look to the wares the industry is trying to peddle. That’s certainly the case with Toby Keith’s latest release, Bullets in the Gun. Before we get to that, let’s examine Toby’s past.

I came to the Toby Keith party a bit late, but he has quickly become one of my favorite artists. While those who aren’t into the country scene might quickly dismiss him, there’s something unique to what Toby brings to the table. I like to think of him as the “Don Draper of Country Music”. Like the Mad Men character, Toby exemplifies a particular idea of what it means to be a man, though in different times and circumstances. Don Draper lives according to the adage that “a man should always be ready to leave at a moment’s notice” – the idea that a man takes care of his responsibilities, but doesn’t allow himself to truly be tied down. There’s a lot of this to Toby Keith’s persona, as he works hard and plays hard, without ever letting himself get too caught up in the goings on of life.

In “How Do You Like Me Now?”, Toby rubbed his celebrity in the face of the valedictorian who didn’t give him a chance in high school. You can pretty much figure out what “I’m Just Talkin’ About Tonight” is about. His first gold single, and most controversial song, was “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)”. Released after 9/11, it’s a jingoistic call to arms, as Toby tells the terrorists that we’re gonna “put a boot in yer ass – it’s the American way”. Now, if that concept scares some of you, then try hearing the song in concert, with a couple thousand rednecks singing along. I have. I’ll never forget that.

Later in the decade, he gave us “I Love This Bar”, which described the only true love in his life – his local watering hole. The song even went on to inspire his real life investment venture, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill. “As Good As I Once Was” was a catchy song about a man wistfully comparing present-day experiences to similar events in his past. “God Love Her” is the tale of falling in love with a precher’s daughter.

The thread tying together Toby’s most successful singles is the fact that they were all catchy songs, each containing a good hook. Even in country music, a great hook is key. This is the problem with Bullets in the Gun, as there aren’t any strong hooks. The songs just feel like leftover tracks from 2009’s American Ride. Considering the accelerated release of the follow-up, that’s probably exactly what they are. The album’s lead single is “Trailerhood”, which was the product of a Freudian slip where Toby mixed up neighborhood and trailer park in a conversation with a friend. It’s clearly one of the stronger tracks on the album, but it’s still not great. Outside of that, there are a bunch of forgettable tracks that don’t really leave a mark. It’s not until the album’s final track, “Get Out of My Car”, that you get what could be called a “Toby Keith song”. It’s a bit of a date rapist’s anthem, but the gist of the song is that Toby and a woman are in his car long after last call. It’s the interpersonal tug-of-war of “will they or won’t they”, as they drank, danced, and kissed, so she either needs to take off her top, or get out of his car. Written out, it seems a bit off-putting, but it’s actually a pretty fun song. In the vein of “I’m Just Talkin’ About Tonight”, it’s another example of a good ol’ boy just trying to get his rocks off.

As I’m a sucker for a flashy cover, I sprang for the deluxe version that came with a lenticular cover (that’s “magic motion”, for the uncultured). Along with this chase cover, the disc also included 4 live tracks from Toby’s recent tour. While most people wouldn’t look this gift horse in the mouth, I found the tracks problematic because they were presented without explanation. They aren’t live versions of his most popular hits. Instead, it’s like he chose some jam tracks that sounded the least muddled. It would’ve been great to have live versions of  “The Angry American” or “I Love This Bar” with audience participation. The original version of the album would’ve ended at “Get Out of My Car”, which would’ve been a good note on which to end. The deluxe version’s inclusion of the live tracks only made an uneven album seem even more rudderless. Apparently, the album topped the Billboard chart with 71,000 units, but that’s due to Toby’s loyal fan base. This is the kind of album that’s released in order to fulfill a contract obligation; it was either this or another Greatest Hits album. If Toby wants to retain those fans, he can’t keep releasing albums like Bullets in the Gun. The decline began in American Ride, and now this. You’ve got one strike left, and one last bullet in the chamber, Toby. Let’s make the next one a good one.

19th Jun2010

The Hits From Toast to Toast AKA “Get Off That Table, Becky!”

by Will

Tara Reid

Walk into an average DJ’d bar on a weekend night (for you local folks, I’m talking Union Jacks, Blackfinn, the late, great Lulu’s, etc.), and you’re bound to have your ears assaulted by certain songs. Have you ever wondered why every bar plays the same songs? Well, the bars I mentioned are pretty much “white bars”, and I’ve come to notice that drunk white kids LOVE these songs. I thought I’d try to figure exactly what it is about these songs that appeals to the young, drunk, Caucasian masses. These are presented in no particular order, as popularity is relative, based on quality of the night, amount of alcohol, as well as environment. So, let’s see here…

Friends In Low Places – This Garth Brooks classic is a karaoke staple, but it’s the non-country fan’s country song. It embodies everything everyone thinks about country music (drawl, unrequited love), but it’s also got edgy, angsty leanings. It’s about not fitting in, and feeling like an outsider. Shit, this thing could’ve been recorded by Foo Fighters or Death Cab. A lot of insecure wallflowers can relate to this song at the beginning of the night. It’s a song about shady people. Everyone singing along is in one of 2 camps: they’ve got a shady friend, or they are the shady friend. The drunker Cody gets, he moves from the former to the latter. That said, the presence of alcohol just ensures that he’s not alone in this transmogrification.

Sweet Caroline – This is another drunken singalong staple, especially due to its use during the 7th Inning Stretch. Nothing brings a room together like a unison “bum-bum-bummm!” – or, the regional “fuck-ing-slut!”- that follows the titular refrain. This drunken solidarity turns a room full of dudes into a room full of bros.

Gold Digger – White people LOVE this song! Why? ‘Cause it let’s ’em say “nigger” (unless the pussy DJ is playing the radio edit). Any black person who’s made it to college – the time of life when levels of bravado and available alcohol run highest – has dealt with the “but it’s in the song!” argument that Chad throws down when he sees you glaring.

Another reason the song resonates with white people can be boiled down to one simple line: “we want prenup!”. You see, white people are the only ones who understand the importance of said document. Black people don’t have prenups, unless they’re athletes – in which case they’re married to white women. Otherwise, your average black man doesn’t have anything your average black woman would even want in the event of a divorce!

Also, what does the song’s protagonist end up doing? “He leave yo’ ass for a white girl!” It’s a line that’s met with sneers in the black club, but is met with Woo Girl cheers in your white bar. Every Molly, Abby and Katie will make herself known at this point! Black guys, this is also a good time to scan the crowd to find the girls who might be down. You know what I’m talkin’ about…

As the night rolls on, and everybody’s loosening up, we move to the 80’s trifecta:

Livin’ On A Prayer – Drunk white kids sing this thing like it’s their national anthem. They forget their trust funds and kickball leagues, and sing as if Johnny and Tina were their hardworking, blue collar parents. Despite all this passion, it’s all gonna fall apart at the key change. It always does…

Your Love – This is the point in the night when Cody decides that he doesn’t want to go home alone. He’s had just enough Yuengling to start making eyes at the hot chick at the bar. He makes a point to really eye fuck her once the “I just wanna use your love…tonight” part hits. Unfortunately, Becky’s not on board, and rolls her eyes as she disappears into the crowd to find her friends. This lines up perfectly with the next song:

Don’t Stop Believin’ – Nothing filled white people with so much hope until Barack Obama came along. It’s a song that says to Cody, “Don’t worry, there are other fish in the sea!” The guitar solo alone is enough to make a man forget his troubles, and trust me – he WILL engage in air guitar!

Just as Cody starts to cheer up, and get back on that horse, Closing Time kicks on and the lights go up. Sure, tonight was a bust, but there’s always next weekend – same bar, same songs…

12th Feb2009

So You Wanna Be A Country Star?

by Will

“Tell me how I’m s’posed to breathe with no air”

So, you say you want to be a country star, eh? But you just can’t get that song out of your head and onto your guitar? Having trouble finding just the right words to get that shot at The Grand Ole Opry?

Well, the Stetson Institute of Country Western Linguistics, in association with the Faith Hill School of Crossover Studies, brings you the Country Music Theme Generator (patent pending). These organizations have analyzed Top 40 Country radio for the past 5 years, and have noticed certain trends. Choose one topic from the following list, or string together several, for a showstopping, whiskey-drenched CMA award winning hit:

-Drunken bad decision
-She left
-He left
-She’ll Take You Back
-He’ll Take You Back
-You Chose the other Chick, but You’ll Want Me
-You Chose the other Guy, but You’ll Want Me
-Someone gets to Heaven
-River/Lake/Muddy Baptism
-Drinking before Noon
-Excuses to Drink
-Dad dies
-Girl loses legs
-Crying Dad
-Ominous Traffic Light reference
-America
-Soldiers
-Freedom
-American Soldiers Fighting for Our Freedom
-Dead Soldiers
-Weddings
-Trucks
-Revenge
-Silly Youth
-Elderly Wisdom
-Old Regret
-Dad singing about daughter in mildly inappropriate way

This list is for anyone who likes their Rascals Flatt & their Travises Randy.

Hootie & the Blowfish frontman, Darius Rucker, followed this method, and his hit about leavin’, regrettin’, and whiskey, led him to become the first black person in 25 years to have a #1 country song! A black man at the top of the country charts! Pretty soon, they’ll be in the White House!

Anyway, if you’re ready to be a Nashville star, with a legion of fans shaking their honky tonk badonkadonks, this is the program for you.

*Special thanks go out to Toby Keith, Director of the United States Department of Retribution (itself, a division of the US Department of Homeland Security)

06th Feb2005

Will Answers Your Questions!

by Will

WILL ANSWERS I

  • If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one CD, one food, and one tv character with you for three years…. what would they be?

    If I only had one CD, it would have to be “Journey: Greatest Hits”. Laugh if you wish, but this CD has EVERYTHING. Plus, as cheesy as people like to remember Journey, they inspired every major pop/soft star today. Now, you may not exactly like these styles of music, but greats such as Mariah Carey (the Good Mariah, not the hooch Mariah) list them among their top influences.

    Plus, you’ve got any style you want on one disc. For a romantic slow song, you’ve got “Faithfully” or “Open Arms”. For the pensive, brooding song, you’ve got “Send Her My Love.” And the sheer bombast of “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” would motivate me to construct my Raft To Freedom.

    One food? That would have to be Monogolian BBQ from Cornell Dining. There’s a reason it was voted #1 dining hall in the country. Plus, I DID live off of it for an entire year. I ate it everyday, sometimes twice. Ask anyone. It’s how I got my Sophomore 30!

    One TV character? The Adam West Batman. Come on, is there ANYONE more entertaining? This guy was the George W. of Superheroes; just looking at him, you knew he had NO BUSINESS in that role, wearing that suit, but he overacted hard enough that it was SO bad it was good.

    Plus, it’d be hilarious to spend 3 yrs with him, as he kept pulling stuff out of his utility belt, such as Bat-Shark repellant, which would inevitably fail to provide rescue or safety. It’d kind of be like an experiment to see how far a man must fall before he cracks. ‘Cause I get the feeling that, for the 1st yr, he won’t even take off his mask. He’d take off the cape, maybe even the suit. But I feel like he’d be stark-ass naked on that island just wearing a cowl, and you can’t PAY for that kind of stranded entertainment.

  • For the sake of posing a more original question:

    Have you ever written any songs of your own?

    -Karlos

“More original question”…I smell a catfight! Anyway, no, I haven’t written any songs of my own. Why? Because that part of my brain doesn’t work. It’s true!

You see, I’m a smart kid. I’m at a place in my life where I can honestly say that. BUT,
don’t get “abstract”. I can think outside of the box, but the creative, like lyrics and poetry, eludes me. You have to hit me in the face with a dead cat to understand poetry.

I get the themes, such as Winter is Death, yadda yadda, but when someone is trying to
convey their feelings, I get lost. That’s why I hate when people are like, “Listen to this
song -the lyrics mean so much to me.” And the song turns out to be “Glycerine” or something, and all I can say is, ‘Wow, I love this song. It’s awesome!” And they respond with, “It’s not awesome; in fact, it made me consider taking my life.” No joke, I’ve been in these situations.

I tried to write songs, but they all ended up as those country-esque “I’m so lonely” songs, and there are really only so many times that it should be legal to rhyme “heart” & apart” or “alone & phone”. Hell, what did people rhyme with “alone” prior to Bell’s nefarious, yet convenient, invention?

I have, however, composed songs. You see, prior to the a cappella, I played piano for 10
yrs. When I started singing, I had to use the piano part of my brain. Now, when i was
playing, I was “classically trained” (am I the only person who hates how pretentious tha
sounds?) , but I only used that to play all of the cliche parlor songs, such as Fur Elise an
Moonlight Sonata. My true passion was New Age. Laugh if you want, but nothing calms
me down like Enya & “Pure Moods”. So, I started composing New Age music. I had a
Music Technology class in high school with synthesizers and stuff, so by graduation, I had a good album’s worth of material. But, get this, the school went under, and they have no idea where my disc is. If that shit resurfaces…

But my New Age claims to fame are “Silver”, named after my mother, and ‘Ellie’s Mirage”, written for my grandmother, who loved to hear me play.

Oh, and I play a MEAN rendition of the Star Trek: Voyager Theme!

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