11th Jan2013

West Week Ever – 1/11/13

by Will

oie_922142seDasWF9

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.

 

cruise

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.

darius

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.

 

kliq

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!

09th Jan2013

Forgive Us Our Trespasses AKA Malled To Death

by Will

2013-01-02 10.34.38

A week has passed since this little episode, so I think The Fuzz is off my trail. Do people still say that? “Off my trail?” You thought I was gonna say “The Fuzz”, didn’t ya? That’s humor for ya, folks! So, last week, I accidentally found myself in the role of “trespasser”. In the beginning, I didn’t know I was trespassing. No, I just thought I was exploring a dead mall. For those not in the know, a “dead mall” is basically a shopping mall that has fallen into disrepair. I used to work in commercial real estate, and the final word on shopping malls is that they’re all on their last legs (some just don’t know it yet). For a few, all tenants have long since vacated, yet the structure still stands, waiting to be “demalled” (*sigh* “Demalling” is another CRE term, where shopping malls are gutted and redesigned as town centers, where you can add residential and office space to the preexisting retail. Strong anchors, like Sears, remain but as standalone stores). Anyway, dead malls have quite the following, kinda like those kids who explore old mental institutions and anywhere else the public isn’t generally supposed to go. There’s a website and everything! Well, we have a dead mall in the region, known as the Frederick Towne Mall. I’ve wanted to see the inside of that place for years, but I’m a coward. Seriously, I learned about it during a stint of unemployment 2 years ago, while Lindsay lived in Frederick, and I still didn’t go. I had NOTHING ELSE to do. Coward. Well, that all changed last week.

2013-01-02 10.35.24

It all started with Boscov’s. Ya see, a few days prior, I’d been having a twitter discussion with @Jordamus_Prime, and he mentioned how he used to find all sorts of awesome stuff in the Boscov’s toy department. My first question: “What the Hell is Boscov’s?” Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been going up to Frederick on comic/toy runs for years, but it’s entirely a different world up there. It’s north, but feels like the south. They have stores we just don’t have in these parts, like Giant Eagle, Weis, Waffle House, etc. I’d always seen Boscov’s, but I didn’t know if it was a grocery store, or a poor man’s Kohls (which would be a SAD establishment) or what. Well, it’s a department store. I was in the area…looking for stuff, and I noticed the Boscov’s and decided to check it out. It felt like a shitty Woodies. For those of you NOT from the MD/DC/VA area, Woodward & Lothrop was a high-end mall anchor, colloquially known as “Woodies” that went out of business about 20 yrs ago. Boscov’s is like Woodies, as it stood the day it went out of business, with no modern upgrades whatsoever. That alone should’ve made me run away screaming. No, I’ve never understood things like “common sense”.

2013-01-02 10.34.32

As I was leaving the store, I noticed an old man doing one of those “Old Folks Exercise Loop Walks” out in the mall area. I thought to myself “Self, here’s your chance to finally see that dead mall.” Oddly enough, the mall entrance in the Boscov’s was blocked. He had to have  gotten in there somehow, right? I went outside, and noticed a mall entrance just to the side of Boscov’s. Out of three doors, two were locked with caution tape through the handles. Door #1, however, was the door to choose. The first thing I saw was the view that opened this post. Foot after foot of vacant retail. The thing that really struck me, though, was the silence. For a place so large, with those acoustics, I was expecting to hear something. HVAC system, janitor loudly cleaning. SOMETHING. No, there was nothing. It was the eeriest quiet I’ve ever heard. No, strike that – when I was in Russia (for you newcomers, I was an exchange student at 13), we got lost near the Estonian border, in the snow, and that was the eeriest silence I’d experienced. So, this was a tie. Immediately to my right was the former site of The Ground Round. I’ve never had the pleasure of eating at The Ground Round, but I hear it was THE place to hold an ’80s birthday party. A great match for the 80s department store adjacent to it. Unlike the other stores in the place, The Ground Round looked like it could still be operational, but was just closed at the moment. The other stores wouldn’t look so fresh.

2013-01-02 10.35.59

This fucking store right here! If you’ve ever played a horror -themed video game, you’ve seen this kind of location. The lights kinda flicker, and your first thought is “Why the Hell are the lights on anyway?! What a waste of money!” If you just scroll past quickly, it won’t affect you. But I implore you to stay on this pic, and just look for a few seconds. Notice the vacant cash wrap, and the empty fitting rooms. Now, start to wonder if anything is hiding in them…

2013-01-02 10.36.43

Apparently, you can take it with you, as this Bath & Body Works looks like everyone was Raptured after filling their arms with all the scrub they could carry on to the Great Beyond. Who’s gonna return the furniture to Pier 1 Imports? I couldn’t get the right angle, but I wanted to capture how the name had been scraped from the window. It was done in such as sloppy manner that the remaining imprint has a ghostly slime quality to it. This was, like, the 3rd store I saw. I was getting more and more scared, yet was dumb enough to keep going.

2013-01-02 10.37.00

So…um…was the Frederick County School System using this space for finals week? This one really perplexed me.

2013-01-02 10.37.16

The deeper I got into the mall, the crazier shit got. Now, I just passed the “testing room”, and then I found this. Apparently, this was the site of a discount store called Joey’s Bargain Outlet. I don’t get the pallets, though. I’ve never seen pallets in a mall. Walmart, Ollie’s, Home Depot – all of those make sense; large stores use pallets to move/display larger items. Unless you’re an anchor store, retail space in a mall is somewhat confined, so pallets just aren’t a smart use of space. Maybe it’s just the retail in me, but this was such an odd sight to me.

2013-01-02 10.37.46

OK, are you ready for shit to get really weird? Let’s do this. This is as far as you’re allowed  to go in the mall. On the left is a shut down FYE, while I don’t even know what’s on the right. The point is that you can’t go past this point. This is when I started taking in my surroundings. Look past the rope, to the right. Need a closer look?

2013-01-02 10.37.30

Here ya go. OK, so why the Hell are those seats arranged like that? It’s like some kind of supernatural AA meeting. It also bothered me that I couldn’t see why they were pointed that way. Was there a stage behind that shrub? While we have established that a lot of the stores were vacant, some, like Hallmark, looked like people had just left in a hurry. Like this was the site of something really bad. Is there where the survivors meet to discuss their strategies? Is this where they choose the leader of their cannibal biker tribe?!! WHAT?!!!

2013-01-02 10.37.55

Can we talk about something for a minute. In case you haven’t noticed, I was WAY into the process of freaking myself out. I mean, I had already been scared to go inside, and now that I was there, I was just getting more freaked out. Now, I fleshed more of this out later when I told my mother about this, but stay with me here. I told her everything I’ve told you up to this point, and she said “What were you doing there?! You could’ve gotten killed!” That’s when I reminded her, “Don’t worry. There were those old people in there walking.” And that’s when it hit me. The old people. I didn’t mention this earlier, but along with the old man I had seen, there was also an old lady walking. They were not together. They also continued along the same circuit, at the same pace, without looking up. I only came closest to the man, and he never acknowledged me. When I say that, I don’t mean he didn’t say “hi”. I mean, he never lifted his head to even confirm we were on the same plane of existence. They also made NO noise. No scuffing of Rockports on the hard floor, no old person phlegm-clearing cough, nothing. WERE THOSE OLD PEOPLE GHOSTS?!!! All this was going on in my head, and if I were a mid-budget sci fi show, this is when you’d see the Stargate wormhole effect from inside my brain out my eye, where my gaze would fall upon the kiosk above. I hadn’t really noticed it before, even though it had been just to the left of me. I walked over, and that’s when I saw this:

2013-01-02 10.38.13

SHIT! I was in danger of being trespassed! Then I thought, “Wait, that’s not how English works.” I didn’t have time to be Ivy League Asshole, as I then noticed in bold “THE POLICE”, and there was no mention of Sting. Let me see…black male, in abandoned structure, clearly taking pictures of things he shouldn’t be taking pictures of. SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! Then, in my best Michael Westen, I try to figure out how long I’d been in the mall compared to my perceived response time of the Frederick Police Department. Then I remembered that I’m not Michael Westen, and I should probably get the fuck out of there!

2013-01-02 10.38.24

Well, the damage had been done by that point, so I figured “One for the road?”

2013-01-02 10.39.03

Then one turned to two, ’cause how often do you see a shut down Cinnabon? Or Fannie May? I haven’t really decided what I think this was. But it was GONE and it was CREEPY. On the way out, I almost ran into the old man, as I crossed over his circuit. Still, no response from him whatsoever. Yup, definitely a ghost. I made for the door, looking both ways for cops. I made it to my car, and got the Hell out of there. They weren’t gonna trespass ME!

05th Nov2012

Failure To Launch: My Stillborn Parody Account

by Will

So, I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m trying to find my niche lately. I think a lot of websites like to put on bravado, acting like they get a ton of page hits, but I’ve never been that guy. I’ll be honest with ya: I don’t even check my Google Analytics, as I know it’s not worth it. For me to check my stats would be the equivalent of checking your mail when all you ever get is junkmail. I think I’m good at letting you in on my thought process, and giving you a glimpse as to “how the sausage is made”. I turned my focus to this question: How could I expand my online brand? There are memes, but I have neither the patience nor the graphics software to pull those off. There are podcasts, but if people won’t read me on a regular basis, why would they listen to me? Plus, I don’t want the added responsibility of yet another thing to have to maintain (I can honestly say that I don’t want a podcast. I do, however, enjoy guesting on them. I’ve said that I want to be the equivalent of the 80s standup comic who makes the talk show rounds, but continually refuses a starring vehicle of his own). What else do people like? Parody twitter accounts. Or so I thought. This is the story of how I screwed the pooch in the parody game.

I honestly couldn’t tell you when it all began. I’d actually always hated parody accounts, as they tend to be created due to some particular moment in time, and the joke gets dated FAST. Whether it’s @bindersofwomen, @angelinasleg or @fuckyoupenguin, these are all concepts that will be forgotten until Mo Rocca or Frangelina bring them up on a future edition of I Love The ’10s. So, instead of jumping on a bandwagon, I needed to go for a timeless concept. I was impressed by UnderScoopFire’s parody account for Aaron Neville, appropriately (especially to avoid prosecution) titled @NotAaronNeville. They’d really given a humorous voice to a figure who’s known for his stature, voice, and scars, but not his humor. I think I got kinda jealous of that, and in a Twitter conversation, I one day mentioned that I’d “rather talk to @SenileStan”. No, I don’t remember the context. I’m a really bad historian. I just remember my side of the conversation, because I am a narcissist (did you READ the name of the site?). But I got the same sensation Ben Franklin must’ve felt when he invented the electric chair – Stan Lee is old, has an interesting view of his own history, and is known for being over the top. What would happen if he were going senile (it’s still OK to laugh at senility, now that the world has Alzheimer’s)? So, I immediately secured the @SenileStan Twitter account and began to friend anyone and everyone who seemed interested in comics (except comics professionals – oddly enough, as much as I wanted attention, I was still kinda scared some industry pro would rip me a new one for mocking Stan and/or the possibility he might be losing his mind). Little did I realize that creating the account would be the easiest part. I guess it’s like conception – sex is easy, but raising that kid is HARD.

It started off funny enough. My first tweet was:

 

I was proud of that tweet. It was a little randy, a little edgy. The kinda thing your drunk grandpa might say. As time went on, though, I realized I kinda backed myself into a corner. Without knowing much about Stan (as much as we know, we don’t know much. His anecdotes change with the tides), I found myself deviating into a “lecherous old man” archetype, while trying to find ways to link it to Marvel. The main themes were that he was a pervert, with a selective memory, who was always running from death. I also wasn’t very prolific with the account. If I’d done more bombs, then I probably would’ve ended up with more hits, but I tended to only sign into that account when inspiration struck, which was rare. There were a few of my favorite tweets:

Now, a couple things happened here. Or didn’t happen. First off, no one wondered who was behind the account. It’s a known fact that whenever a parody count takes the world by storm, everyone’s scrambling to be the one to introduce the world to the face behind the account. I’m not sure if nobody knew it was me, or if they just didn’t care. Like, maybe I thought I was being sneaky, and folks were just saying to themselves, “Oh, I see Will’s blowing through all the Z-material over on the Stan account.” I mean, I was communicating with the same folks I normally do, and the “voice” wasn’t much different. I’m like the guy who falls asleep still in drag; I was just BEGGING to be outed. Plus, I slipped up a few times, and tweeted links to Will’s World of Wonder items from that account. While that didn’t immediately implicate me, there are only 2 other people on twitter who regularly tweet my links (@coldslitherpod and @lamarrevenger – thanks, guys!), neither of them is a parody account.

Then, real life happened. Just like “real life” can spawn a parody account, it can also kill one. Or drive the nail into the coffin. You see, a few weeks ago, Stan canceled all of his convention appearances, and news started circulating that his health was poor. People were being secretive, so we didn’t know how bad the situation might be. What was I to do? Luckily, I wasn’t sitting on any A-Material, but I still wondered if the site would be in poor taste. A mere 2 weeks later, we found out that Stan got a pacemaker, and he went back to making that money. Crises averted. Until last Friday.

While scanning my timeline, as I am wont to do, I noticed an RT of @BizarroStanLee. Not only did he have the same “voice” of my account, but he also used the same damn avatar. Oh, hell naw! Then, I noticed that the account had over 1,000 followers. Game, blouses. As the great Kenny Rogers said (ya know, before he messed his face up with plastic surgery) “Know when to walk away”. I have no problem doing something creative and not getting a ton of credit for it (you’re looking at proof of that), but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna look like some kinda copycat. I clearly lost that battle, and it’s not like it was my best work, anyway. It was a good learning experience, and it was fun feeling like I was being all sneaky. So, @senilestan’s final message to the world was this nugget:

I tend to hate when people make a big deal of deleting their social media accounts. It’s like the villain who gives a soliloquy before the killing blow. Just fucking do it already! However, I believe it was the great Depeche Mode, who said “things like this make me sick, and in a case like this I’ll get away with it.”

Le Senile Stan Est Morte! Vive Le Senile Stan!

16th Oct2012

T & A – Where The “T” Stands For “Threats”

by Will

So, I don’t know about you, but I like to go through my spam folder. Sometimes there are messages that shouldn’t be in there. At other times, I just get a kick out of the new, creative tactics of spammers. I recently tweeted that one had the subject line “Please Review Your Booty Call Agreement”. You better believe I called my lawyer before approving that document! The other day, I got a message from “Wet Sarah”. It was good hearing from her, as I’d heard she’d been dealing with a recent bout of dryness. It’s all fun and games, however, until someone gets hurt and I’m afraid that’s what this next spammer was threatening. Here’s an email I got from “Shantae”:

Howdy !
I ended up seeing your actual image on Facebook. I quite like you a lot.  Let us communicate !
I can send you my image as well if you want…Hugs, kisses, and broken fingers,

OK, can you tell me which part upset me most? SHE DIDN’T SIGN IT! Oh, and the fact that she threatened to break my fingers. I mean, it’s all cutesy porn girl chat until the broken fingers. Is that a hot thing in Japan now (all freaky sex stuff starts in Japan)? Aren’t UNBROKEN fingers essential to her business plan? So many questions!

12th Oct2012

LoEB Presents The State of the Site Address

by Will

It’s funny that this week’s topic for The League is a “state of the site” address. You see, about a month ago, I posted a total emo rant over on Tumblr during a bout where I wasn’t feeling so great. If you’re interested, it’s here, but it’s not all sunshine and lollipops. I think my problem is that I’m constantly trying to figure out that one thing that’ll put me over the top. I’m a funny dude, I’ve got a cool name, and I like the same stuff that you do. So, why do I not have disciples?! My blogging role models wouldn’t surprise you: X-Entertainment/Dinosaur Dracula was my first geek blog reader experience, and I admire the empire that Rob Bricken has built over at Topless Robot. At the end of the day, I want what they have. I want to be the defining opinion on nerd culture. I want to be a frequent guest on podcasts. I want to be able to throw up a Kickstarter and meet my goal in a matter of hours. I WANT POWER!!!! I’ve been striving to find my niche, like the period of time I decided I wanted to be America’s Top Blerd. Then, I stumbled upon Black Nerd hanging out with actual nerd-lebrities, and realized he’d already claimed the title.

Honestly, I think it’s a bit different than that. I mean, power sounds fun and all, but one thing that people don’t realize is that I live on the internet. Recently, I’ve come to realize that I have Aspie tendencies, and I don’t like reality too much. My IRL friends call me and I avoid the phone, for reasons I can’t really explain. Over the past couple of years, some of my most meaningful friendships have been online. For some, Twitter and Instagram and the like are just pastimes, but I honestly consider you people friends. When you disappear for a period of time, I worry. When you get married or have a kid, I celebrate. Sure, I’ve never met any of you, but that doesn’t matter. So, the blog is a bit of an extension of that. I’m sharing myself with you, so I like to know that it’s at least being accepted. Comments, retweets, blogroll addition – all of these make my day. Sure, that sounds sad to some, but that’s really where I’ve found myself lately. There’s always the whole “we can agree to disagree” thing, but if you reject my site, you’re rejecting me. I put more of myself into it than expressing myself in everyday life.

There’s a guy on Twitter. Most of you know him. Hell, he’s probably the coolest guy to you. He likes to tweet his thoughts, which range from “random” to running commentary. Recently, he thought it was deplorable that people would no longer care about your opinion if you unfollowed them. This hit close to home to me because he had unfollowed me, and his opinion had pretty much faltered in my eyes. Sure, Twitter doesn’t have to work both ways, but it should. Every now and then, you might accidentally follow the wrong person, and then have to come up with a digital equivalent of “it’s not you, it’s me” to get out of it, but I can see that line of reasoning. If my words no longer matter to you/annoy you, then why should I put up with your words? We’re no longer having an exchange, so what’s the point?

All of this probably sounds like rambling, but this is what I think about when I think of the site: What is my reach? Have I done anything that has gained traction? Does this feel like it did when I started back in 2003? What do I get out of this process? Over the past year, a few things have stood out to me. I think I’ve settled into 4 basic themes/features that seem to work:

Thrift Justice/Thrift Justice:YSE – The place where I showcase things I find at thrift stores and yard sales. This has been more successful than I could’ve imagined. I’m far from the only one doing this stuff (Flea Market Finds over at Toy World Order, Goodwill Hunting for Geeks), but I certainly struck at the right time. With shows like Collection Intervention and Toy Hunter, it’s a good time to be in the “buried treasure” game. I could honestly write these forever, based solely on the amount of stuff I’ve already found. I could never set foot in another thrift store, and still keep that feature going for another 2 years.

Comical Thoughts – I’m hesitant to make this a “feature”, per se, but it serves as a nice umbrella under which to discuss comics. I’m not as comic-focused as in the past, as the thrift stuff has taken over my life. Still, I’ve been able to have some good, focused discussions on events in the comic industry.

Adventures West Coast – This one is harder to do than it seems. Ya see, I got laid off a couple of years ago and found myself with a lot of time on my hands, and a lot of unread graphic novels on my shelves. So, AWC was where I’d review all the graphic novels I read during that stint of “funemployment”. The problem is that I was reading more than I was writing. Once I started working again, if I read a graphic novel, I just folded it into the stack read during the unemployment. THEN, I got laid off again. Rinse and repeat. Long story short, I now have an IKEA Billy bookcase filled with books I’ve read but haven’t reviewed. Many of those books were terrible, while others weren’t memorable. I have a Gotham villain-like tic, where I swore that I HAD to review it if I read it, even when there wasn’t much to say about certain books. I’m currently trying to figure out where to take that concept.

Best of the West – I’m a collector. This comes as no surprise. This segment is where I showcase the absolute BEST of my collection. The holy grails, the white whales, the black Republicans – ya know, rare stuff. So, these shouldn’t be too frequent, but shouldn’t disappear altogether. I’m trying to figure out a logical schedule for those.

Upcoming Ideas

Track Star – I’ve really lost my grasp on bubblegum pop. Music has always been important to me, but it hasn’t been a big focus of the blog in recent years. The problem is that it’s hard to find people who actually want to read about “bad” music. Everyone wants to be ahead of the curve, blogging about The Next Big Thing, but I actually like to focus on gems that fell through the cracks. I dwell in the world of “guilty pleasure” music, like boybands, UK pop groups, and the like. My last attempt was Westlife Wednesday over on Tumblr, but I’d be lying if I said I’d ever figured out how to get Tumblr to work for me. I think I’ve come up with a great angle for this, but I’m waiting on the graphics department before I unveil it.

Book Retort – Contrary to popular belief, I do read “real” books. I don’t, however have an outlet to discuss those. Since I get my fiction from comics, I tend to gravitate towards non-fiction and biographies. Lately, I’ve been on an “autobiographies by comedians” kick, so a lot of Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, and Chelsea Handler. I need to find a way to sneak this into the rotation somewhere.

Real Life – yeah, this isn’t really a “feature”, but I don’t talk about my life much anymore. Despite the narcissistic nature of using all my name for all my screennames, I’m still a somewhat private person. Still, this flies in the face of the former nature of this site, as I jokingly say that it used  to read like a Livejournal. Then, I revamped the site, deleted about 100 posts to retcon certain people/events, and then threw myself into geekdom. I know that my wife (wow, that’s the first time I’ve typed that), Lindsay, would like to be mentioned more so I need to find a happy medium of “how much do you need/want to know about me outside of geek stuffs?” I think this will happen organically, but it’s still on my mind.

Visuals – I wish I knew graphic design, or at least had a designer in my pocket. I need a header, I need logos, and few people are willing to work for free. I really need to figure out what to do there. I’ve got ideas, but no way to bring them to fruition. I am, however, happy with the general layout of the site for the first time. I’d like to take that to another level.

Don’t let the introspection fool you, though – It’s been a good year online.

-Guested on the General Geekery, Nerd Lunch, Super Hero Time, and PowetCast podcasts.

-Launched my e-store, Will’s World of Wonder

-Finally compiled my Black History Month calendar

-Made lots of new friends

So, thanks for reading, and here’s to another year of this mess. 2013 marks my 10th year of blogging, so it should be pretty exciting. Until next time, check out these other great blogs to see what they’ve been up to recently:

http://shezcrafti.com/shezcrafti-then-now-the-state-of-the-site/

http://goodwillhunting4geeks.blogspot.com/2012/10/day-24-state-of-site.html

http://that-figures.blogspot.com/2012/10/feature-loeb-state-of-site.html

02nd Oct2012

Fun With Craigslist – The Comic Purge

by Will

So, I like to hang out on Craigslist. Years ago, I got a kick out of reading Missed Connections, but in more recent years I’ve used the site to find yard sales and good deals on collectibles. Lately, I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of comics I’ve amassed over the years. I used to fall for every event, crossover, reboot, etc, only to find out that none of them mattered in the long run. So, I decided to get rid of a few. And “a few” ended up being roughly 1,000 books. Where could I get a decent price for subpar books? Well, Craigslist, of course! Here’s the blurb that I ran last Friday:

Comics!!! Downsizing Collection – Avengers X-Men Batman Justice League Buffy and – $50 (Rockville)


Date: 2012-09-28, 1:10AM EDT
6cpwt-3301696305@sale.craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]


So, I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. I’ve been collecting comics over 20 years, but I’m tired of revolts, relaunches and other publishing gimmicks. Plus, I’m getting married next weekend, so I need to clear out the guest bedroom. so, my loss is your gain!

I’m selling approximately 1,000 comics from the past 30 or so years. I’ve got 2 longboxes, each holding approximately 400 comics, and one short box holding approximately 200 comics. I’m selling BY THE BOX! Each longbox is $50, while the shortbox is $25. That’s about 13 cents per book. Get out your time machine ’cause these are old timey prices! No, you cannot come cherry pick from the boxes. You’re pretty much buying sight unseen, but when you get home it’ll be like Comic Christmas (or Komic Kwanzaa or Chomic Channukah…you get the gist)!

These boxes contain everything from DC books like Batman and Superman to Marvel books like X-Men and Avengers. There are also some great Image and indie series in there. You’ll find some complete miniseries and series runs and more! This is perfect for a dealer (I know you’re out there), a new comic fan, or a lapsed fan coming in from the cold. at 1,000 books, it’s an instant collection! Hell, if you want the whole lot, I’ll sell all 1,000 for $100. That’s a price so good, it’ll make you slap your mama!

  • Location: Rockville
  • it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Anyway, my plan worked, as I had a buyer in a matter of hours. While this isn’t from the buyer, this was my favorite response:

you have any pics for me, Im long distance, if I like what I see, we can talk, thanx……and I slapped my mama just for the hell of it.   Chris

God, I love the internet!

 

14th Sep2012

LoEB Presents Thrift Justice: The Series!

by Will

My name’s Will, and I wish to be an extraordinary blogger. My pal Brian over at Coolandcollected.com came up with idea for the League of Extraordinary Bloggers a few months ago, and it has really taken off. Essentially, he lists a topic every week, and the members of the league run with it. I’ve never contributed, but I’ve lurked since the beginning, learning about a lot of great bloggers along the way. I’m not always the best team player, but when Brian suggested that we all present our ideas for a reality show starring ourselves, I had to jump on. I’m a bit narcissistic (williambrucewest.com, anyone), but not in the bad way. It’s not that I think highly of myself, but it’s that I’m always VERY self-aware. With that in mind, it’s not hard to spin that into how I would look in a reality show about myself.

So, recently I’ve been having discussions about the “reality” of reality shows in the comment sections of certain sites. To boil it down, folks are insisting that shows like Toy Hunter and Collection Intervention are staged, and that we’re fools for believing they’re not. I get this line of reasoning, but is it wrong to wish that they were real? I mean, there was a time, before the genre took hold, when what you saw was really something that had happened. No one looks back and says that Cops was fake. Was that not a reality show? Anyway, this got me to thinking about what my reality show would be about. They say that you should stick with what you know, but I decided to give it a TV twist. I give you Thrift Justice: The Series!

Archival set photo from unaired pilot

Here’s how Thrift Justice: The Series is structured. The premise is that I’m a lawman who hits thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets when he’s not hitting perps. Am I actually in law enforcement? No. Here’s what I’d do: I’d get in one of those programs where I’d become a sheriff’s deputy, but really only have to be on duty one weekend every six months. Remember how Shaq did that? Most of the time would be spent thrifting, but I’d still probably always have my taser and my Oakleys on me. The title has “The Series” appended on it to show that it’s a natural extension of the Thrift Justice segments that I already do on this site. Basically, I’d be creating cross-platform synergy, where the site feeds the show, and vice versa.

My cast of characters would include my common law wife Robyn, my thrifting pal “Special Forces” (not pictured, for his protection), and my mom, “Bruce” – who actually got me into the world of secondhand stuff, but now thinks I’m in too deep. Each episode would start with me coming off a bust (by framing it this way, it makes it look like I’m constantly bringing criminals to justice, though you’d rarely need to see them), and I’d stop by a thrift store or yard sale on the way home.

On location shot

I’d stick to my normal haunts, but sometimes there would coincidentally be a suspected criminal at these venues. I’d stumble upon something like a vintage Transformers Metroplex, and begin to educate the audience.

“Metroplex is one of the most sought-after Generation 1 Transformers. It’s rare to find him in such good condition. There’s even fan speculation that he was originally meant to be Optimus Prime’s father. (It’s good to throw in something false/outright lie to A: cause the fans to question my experience and B: it’ll fire up the message boards).

Watch the guy in the cowboy hat!

During my little soliloquy, out of the corner of my eye, I’d see someone notice me and they’d run. Innocent people don’t run. I’d have to run after him, catch him, AND hope that Metroplex is still on the shelf when I get back. Once the justice has been dished out, I’d return to my exposition:

“Manuel Garcia was wanted in 2 states for armed robbery. Based on the condition I left him in, he won’t be holding a gun for a long time. Anyway, I’m picking up this Metroplex for $5, but he easily goes for around $50 on the secondary market (note how I didn’t check anything to verify this price, plus I’m already suspect due to that incorrect nugget about him being Optimus’s father). That’s ten times my original investment, and I’ll take that kinda action any day of the week.”

My show would air on Spike or TruTV, as it would really appeal to the demographic that loves Bar Rescue and Lizard Lick Towing. In my mind, Thrift Justice will be Dog The Bounty Hunter meets American Pickers. I’d be followed on the schedule by Pegwarmers, starring my Twitter friend @Th0r4z1n3, a toy collector who runs a gentleman’s club. That’s actually a true story; follow him if you don’t already! The lineup would also include the following shows by fellow “extraordinary bloggers”:

What’s In The Box?: originally an adult program in the UK, the American version will be decidedly different.
Penny Hunter: during sweeps, they plan to have guest appearances by Kaley Cuoco, Cree Summer, AND Janet Jackson!
Mike’s Bunch of Crap: The #1 show amongst Yankees fandom!

01st Mar2012

Pimps Up, Toys Down

by Will

Ever since I opened Will’s World of Wonder, I’ve dealt with situations I never really thought I’d encounter. Since I don’t feel like writing about comics or thrifting, I thought I’d give you a peek at the travails of the online e-seller.

Surprisingly, the venture hasn’t required too much promotion, as the items appear in Google searches. Sales were amazing right before Christmas, as most of my business seemed to be stay at home moms doing online gift shopping. After the holidays, however, things slowed down. That’s when I explored other channels to get the word out – facebook groups, Craigslist, message boards, etc. Throughout these interactions, I’ve begun to realize that it’s not that much different from online dating or (so I’ve heard) dealing with a john. People wait til they see what they’re looking for, you strike up a conversation, and you hope to make something happen. Even though it’s toys and not a lifelong relationship (or easy sex), the highs and lows are still the same.

Recently, I’ve joined a SHITLOAD of online groups, from 80s toy collectors to toy traders to what I’ll call the “justified scalpers”. Oh, you don’t know what a justified scalper is? Those are what I call the folks who buy up all the good toys, and then pop online saying, “I grabbed all the Marvel Legends at Toys “R” Us, so let me know what you need.” They feel justified because they’re not necessarily charging a mark-up, but their actions are still preventing others from being able to buy the toys.

What gets me, though, is that they also don’t seem to understand supply and demand. They seem to think there’s a magical, neverending stockpile back at the warehouse just waiting to be shipped out. So, they hop on and say “Make sure to check your local Targets because mine had the latest wave of DCUC and I BOUGHT THE WHOLE CASE. I had them check the other Targets in the area, and I’m gonna make a few more stops on the way home. Hehe.” Thanks, asshole. You just cornered the market. Sure, it’s a small market, but it’s cornered nonetheless. If you live in a town with 2 Targets, and they’re the only ones carrying a particular line, if you hit them ALL and bought up all the cases, you have effectively cornered that market for your area. And it’s not like you have 64 friends who need the figures. No, you’re “just helping out fellow collectors” . The best way this plays out is if they return them after a few days, but most either keep them for trading fodder or, worse, end up charging $30 for a $15 figure. Oh, and did I mention that they’ve opened the figure, and removed the build-a-figure piece? Anyway, long and short of it is that I’ve interacted with a lot of different people.

It all starts about the same way. Instead of waiting for them to come to me, I go looking for them. I spend some time online, and when someone posts “I’m looking for a G.I. Joe Rise of Cobra Gunship”, that’s when I pounce. Send ’em a link, and tell them to PM me if interested. They message me, asking what I’m looking for in exchange, which always frustrates me because there’s clearly a price listed if they had simply clicked the link. Anyway, I do the dance, and repeat the price. Then, they ask about shipping. Again, the shipping is listed. If I can ship cheaper, I refund the difference, but I don’t have time to run searches on each and every zip code. OK, so after the volley, if everything goes well, you’ve got a transaction.

Sometimes, though, these people throw you for a loop. Everything is going well, and then they tell you “Oh, by the way, you’ll have to ship to The Netherlands.” THE NETHERLANDS?! I don’t even know where the fuck The Netherlands are! Do I look like Carmen Sandiego?! Why are you doing business with Americans? Why didn’t you tell me this in the beginning? It’s seriously like a betrayal. I thought we were gonna make things happen, and now I have to worry about this distance and whether or not you’re on board to do what it takes to make this work. Real grown folk drama!

Anyway, I’ve told you enough of my secrets. I think you should pay me back by buying something from me. Go, make it happen. Unless you live in the damn Netherlands. I’ve already been down that road.

01st Feb2012

Today In Black History…

by Will

So, if you followed me on Twitter at this time last year, then you’re already familiar with this whole process. I wanted to do it again this year, but I’m unreliable, and I’ll probably miss a day. Plus, as I’ve acquired more black followers, I’m learning that this isn’t so uncommon. Instead of looking like a “biter”, as they say, I wanted to show that I can roll with the big dawgs! So, I thought I’d blow it out in one fell swoop. Plus, at the end, you’ll find a handy, dandy PDF that you can print out and remember the great contributions that Ne..African Americans have made to our society. There’s a different event for each day, so share it with your white friends, and put a copy up on your Kwanzaa mantle. Yes, we can!


 

 

IT’S BLACK HISTORY MONTH, Y’ALL!!!

1) Today In Black History: Arnold & Willis Jackson became the first poor black kids adopted by a rich white person

2) Today in Black History: Jimmie Walker left his lucrative career in demolitions to become a comedian.

3) Today in Black History, The Eastland School for Girls admitted Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey as its first black student

4) Today in Black History, the Fresh King of Bel Air was assassinated. The throne remained empty until a long lost son was found in 1990.

5) Today in Black History, Kunta Kinte is accepted into the space program, and it only costs him his eyesight.

6) Today in Black History, the black girl became the Yellow Ranger, which was only slightly less offensive.

7) Today in Black History, boxer Cassius Clay was bitten by a radioactive Muslim, transforming him into Muhammad Ali

8) Today in Black History, the remains of the fabled “Caribbean Queen” were found in the trunk of Billy Ocean’s car.

9) Today in Black History, Devonté Henson became the first black person to scale the Aggro Crag.

10) Today in Black History, a young Tyler Perry put on his first dress. Years later, he would learn that he could be paid for it.

11) Today in Black History, scientists combined the DNA of Morris Day and a pony. The result was Prince.

12) Today in Black History, Mr. T pitied his first fool, which is still illegal in most states.

13) Today in Black History, Lt Uhura inspired a generation of black women to work for the phone company.

14) Today in Black History, DeBarge discovered a place where they could dance the whole night away. It was an abandoned T.J. Maxx

15) Today in Black History, the US Government cracked down on music piracy after Rerun snuck that tape recorder into the Doobie Bros concert

16) Today in Black History, the Negro Hockey League was founded. After everyone had a good laugh, the site was converted to a Popeyes.

17) Today in Black History, Magic Johnson opened the first movie theater chain where blacks were encouraged to yell at the screen

18) Today in Black History, George Washington Carver’s lazier brother, Jamal, invented crunchy peanut butter.

19) Today in Black History, Janet Jackson joined the cast of TV’s “Fame”. Critics declared this would be the lowest point for the Jackson family

20) Today in Black History, Dwayne Wayne discovered a parallel universe – a different world, where Marisa Tomei was the only white person.

21) Today in Black History, Frederick, MD was named for Frederick Douglass – known for his love of Walmart and the white women

22) Today in Black History, Aunt Jemima discovered Uncle Ben’s affair with Mrs Butterworth, thus splitting Black America’s first power couple

23) Today in Black History, Acorn Avenue -an all-black version of Sesame Street, debuted featuring NeGrover & Big Turkey. It would only air once

24) Today in Black History, 16 Soul Train dancers were killed in what has come to be known as “The Cabbage Patch Massacre of ‘91”

25) Today in Black History, Autobot Rosa Sparks gained attention when she refused to transform into the back of a bus. (Courtesy of @OAFE)

26) Today in Black History, Jesse Jackson formed the R&B group The Civil Rights. They were dropped from Motown before releasing a single.

27) Today in Black History, with Knight Rider & The A-Team, NBC became the first network to devote a night to shows starring black vehicles

28) Today in Black History, Republican scientists proclaimed “Shucky ducky!” as they successfully completed secret cloning experiment, Operation: Chocolate Cheney.

Be sure to celebrate responsibly, but let’s get it poppin’ like a Jackson Hewitt commercial! After all, it’s what our ancestors would’ve wanted.

Black History Calendar

 

 

 

 


26th Jan2012

Back and Fourth: The One About Babies

by Will

So, it’s been a while since I’ve had any quality time with the 4th graders, as they’ve been having lunch in the cafeteria. Thankfully, there’s a show tonight in that space, so we had classroom lunch, which allowed me more interaction time with them. Out of nowhere today, T decides to tell me that she wants 20 kids.

“Twenty kids?!” I exclaimed. “How are you going to feed all of them?”

She replied, “I dunno,” and giggled.

I proceeded to ask her if she knew how much money that was going to cost. Was she going to marry a rich man? She said she didn’t know, but that her mom’s father had 24 kids, so she was going to have 20. I didn’t really feel it was my place to get into the biological reasons that her grandfather could sire so many, yet she probably wouldn’t be able to keep that pace.  At the end of the table, K utters, “I hope you gonna have 20 titties.”

Meanwhile, D said that he was going to have 10 kids, and if they 10th is a girl, he’s going to have another and then stop. HOW he plans to stop, however, is the kicker. He said, “I’m gonna tell her to get her tubes tied.” What?! I couldn’t believe he even knew what that meant. He said, “Yeah, that’s how it works. The woman gets her tubes tied to stop having babies.” I know I shouldn’t have, but I cracked up. I just couldn’t believe the scope of the stuff they were discussing.

K, then, chimes in that he’s going to have 85 kids. He’s all about the oneupsmanship. I told him that he’d never even live long enough to do that. He said, “Oh, did I say 85? I meant 185.” Um, same deal, K. He immediately got bored with this idea, and started flirting with T.

Let me tell you a little something about K. He’s really smart and a cool kid, but a bit of a loner. He likes to sneak off and wander the halls. He’s almost as good as Batman when it comes to elusive exits. I told him I should put a bell on him just to track him. The funny thing about him, though, is that he’s a little Casanova. He’s constantly scheming about hugging the girls in his class. He’ll come up to me and say, “Mr. West, see her? I’m gonna hug her!” And the emphasis he puts on hug makes it seem like it’s the raciest thing he could ever conceieve of. Like, he sneaks up on girls JUST to hug them. It’d be creepy were it not so cute. The girls never really know how to handle it, since he’s such a loner, but they’re all also still in the “cootie phase”. It IS the 4th grade.

Anyway, K decides to start flirting with T about her plan to have 20 kids. He said, “That means you gonna have to do this every day”. At this point, he stretches his arms out in front, and starts doing these power thrusts like something out of an 80s aerobics class. Again, I cracked up, while T as telling him to stop that. Since I couldn’t leave well enough alone, I asked him if what he as imitating as skiing. He said, “No, skiing’s like this”, and proceeded to mime a pretty good ski job. Then, he immediately went right back to the power thrusts, which lead T to hit him in the arm. T, then, tells me, “If my husband just sits on the couch, watching TV, I’m gonna kick him outta my house and get a divorce!”

K comes over to me and indicates he has a secret to tell me. I bend down, and he whispers, “You know T’s supposed to be my girlfriend?” I said, “Well, it seems like you’ve got your work cut out for you.”

As I’m about to leave, K says, “Mr West, I’mma kiss her so hard her lips gonna fall off!” I cracked up as I left the room, but it might be time to send a letter home…

 

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