23rd Jul2010

All Up In Pandora’s Box

by Will

So, it may come as a surprise that I’m no fan of the convenience of technology. Sure, I love my twitter and my facebook, but I don’t use technology for anything practical. Paying bills? Hand me my checkbook. Yeah, I blog, but I’d rather write a letter and send it to all of you if I could. I’m an old soul. That’s just how I roll. One convenience I’m just now giving in to is Pandora. I’m the guy who’d lug his CDs from place to place, but that got cumbersome once I passed CD #500. Sure, there’s the radio, but there are only so many times one can listen to “California Gurls” before they want to kill Katy Perry for melting all the popsicles. So, with that in mind, and a laptop at my disposal, I ventured into the world of Pandora.

First impression? I am SO proud of my Shiny Toy Guns station and it’s not like I really had anything to do with it. I mean, I chose a band, and Skynet did the rest. That said, it really does evoke a mood. If I could rename it, it would be my “Trying to Seduce That Hot Artsy Barista” station. Remember Shannyn Sossamon in 40 Days and 40 Nights?


Yeah, this shit’s for her. Sneaker Pimps, Massive Attack, Zero 7, Imogen Heap. Seriously, this is everything that quirky chick would love to hear. They even threw in some Simon & Garfunkel, to remind her of the good times she had with her dad growing up – ya know, before he hit the point where he “just doesn’t understand anymore!”

Sure, she’s not gonna end up being The One, but you’ll have a really torrid and emotional relationship that’ll define your mid 20s and maybe fuck you up for the rest of your life. Breathe it all in, my friend – once that chick moves away to art school/leaves you for her psych professor, you’re never gonna want to hear Sia again. That’s when this becomes the “That Fucking Bitch (Please Come Back – I’ll Change!) Station”. Or so I’ve been told. Stop looking at me like that!

To Be Continued…

16th Jul2010

Who are YOU on Twitter?

by Will



So, I’ve written about this before, but it bears saying again: I’m pretty much obsessed with twitter. I’m so obsessed that I feel I waste most of my creative juices over there instead of here. I’ve got Ubertwitter on the old Blackberry Tour (neither of them are paying me for that plug, but they oughta be!), and I find myself checking the thing every 5 minutes or so. What’s great about Ubertwitter is a feature called “Everyone Near You”, which uses your phone’s GPS to find all unprotected tweets in your vicinity. This little feature has led to HOURS of entertainment. It’s like slowly driving down a street where everyone has left their door open. Yeah, that might sound creepy to some, but I’ve always been nosy, and if they wanted their stuff to be private, they’d protect their tweets! Anyway, this feature has revealed a lot of new interesting people worth following, but it has also served to bring to light certain traits and patterns I’ve noticed. Whenever I’m in a new area, I fire up the old “Everyone Near You” to get a lay of the land; it’s an anthropological study akin to visiting shopping malls to see the latest youth trends. I thought I’d share some of  these observations, so that you can use this info to figure out how you might appear to others on twitter.

Avatars are KEY. You can learn a LOT about a tweeter based on the image that they post to represent themselves. Your parents and elementary school teachers like to tell you not to judge a book by its cover, but they’re dumb liars. If that little adage were true, there’d be no comic book industry! In any case, I’ve been temping in DC lately, and midday tweeters have been a GOLDMINE for entertainment. Here are a few things that stand out in the DC area:

-If she’s a young, attractive blond girl (the blond is KEY) wearing pearls, she’s tweeting about GOP issues. I guess it’s the influx of interns, but every Southern Chi Omega girl seems to be tweeting the virtues of the Republican party, or trying to defend the Tea Partiers.  Well, they’ve got their looks…

-If she’s a young, attractive girl, sans pearls, she works in sales/marketing or public relations. Most of her timeline consists of her @replying to some company, asking “How do I reach corporate relations?” She’s trying to establish what’s known as a “business relationship” – kinda like when you leave your business card in that fishbowl at Applebee’s. Hope she meets them quotas!

-If she’s in her mid 30s, and still attractive but not quite MILF material, she’s tweeting for an association. Sure, she tries to trick you by mixing in tweets about her dog or the cupcake she’s about to scarf, but the majority of her tweets are about some upcoming conference. They’re full of hashtags like #ANCC10 or #SWAYDC. My favorite part of these tweeters is that they usually have the following message in their twitter bios: “Views expressed are mine and not those of my employer”. I guess that’s a mandatory requirement of the social networking policy of many employers, but the recent CNN incident with Octavia Nasr pretty much goes to show that little blurb won’t save your job. Also, the placement of that disclaimer is moot due to the fact that most of these tweeters shy away from anything interesting. At most, they might upset the Froyo Lobby by saying Tangysweet is better than Greenberry.

A distant relative of the Association Tweeter is the Informed Retweeter. These are usually middle aged men, who either work for an association, or they’ve published some study that no one outside their field has ever read. It’s funny – association women seem to be on conference hype patrol, while the men spend most of the day retweeting shit from NPR. We’ve clearly come so far in our gender roles. If I’m already following NPR, why do I need to follow YOU? Step up your game, George! Anyway, most of their timelines are comprised of retweets from respected news and literary sources, without any real commentary. It’s the equivalent of that guy who subscribes to the New Yorker, just so it’s on the coffee table if company drops by.

It’s also fun to stumble upon celebrities. Since this is the DC/Metro area, most of our “celebrities” tend to be of the political variety. Still, it’s kinda funny to see a John McCain tweet or some local newscaster come up in your feed. The interesting thing, however, is linked to how Ubertwitter was designed. You see, the location of tweets are based on the point of origin. Since there are a lot of organizations in DC, with LA/celebrity supporters, you’ll sometimes get those tweets, since they’re retweeting something that originated from one of those DC orgs. For example, the other day, I found myself muttering, “When the Hell did Brooke Hogan move to DC? I wonder if Hulk came with her!” Sadly, I realized that tweet only came up because she had retweeted something from the National Wildlife Federation.

The stuff I see isn’t isolated to just the DC area. Of course, you’ve still got all of your usual suspects. For example, you’ve got the Justin Bieber fanatics. Keep in mind, school’s out and these girls don’t have anything better to do. They all have names like “JennyBieber” or “KristyBelieber”, and their avatars are that pic of him – you know, the one where he’s wearing that hat.

Another usual suspect is the Foursquare Tweeter, whose timeline is comprised mainly of foursquare check-ins. I don’t know why anyone follows these people. Seriously, I could give a fuck that you just went to Washington Sports Club. Check in somewhere interesting. If I saw “@scratchnsniff just unlocked the antibiotic badge at Dr. Kelly’s”, THAT would be some informative and entertaining shit. Otherwise, I think Foursquare is only interesting to people who want to be murdered in horrible ways – and their stalkers. Foursquare would be better if you were required to check in from unique places, like “@JohnnyDC just unlocked the “Employees Only Badge” in the Frederick Walmart Stockroom”. Any motherfucker can walk into a CVS, so why do you expect me to be impressed by you tweeting it?

You also have the people who may be using twitter for more than entertainment. It’s almost like they use it for affirmation. I know I tend to value my worth some days based on retweets. Hell, I think of twitter as a virtual stand-up act, but that’s about it. I don’t really feel like I have a captive audience. On the other hand, you’ve got the people who say “Good morning” to their followers, and then sign off when they’re about to go to sleep. Really? That’s like people who talk to their plants. I’ve got some good e-pals on this thing, but I think it’s understood that I’m online when I can be, and I’m not when I can’t. I don’t need to signal it with a greeting. The people who open and close the day on twitter, to me, are like that public speaker who says “Good morning”, and then repeats it when the response “good morning” from the crowd is lackluster. We know you’re there ’cause you’re tweeting; it’s unnecessary to announce your arrival/departure. I know somebody reading this right now is one of those people, so tell me – do people “good morning” tweet you back? I’m curious.

Something to keep in mind is “what does my twitter screenname say about me?” When I worked in college admissions, we’d always laugh at the email addresses of the applicants. You’re applying to an Ivy League institution, and you put DragonLord666@hotmail.com on your application? Your parents didn’t proofread this for you, did they? The same could be said about twitter. If your screenname is @HusseinDaAssasin, I think it’s safe to say that you’re on a list somewhere. You may not know it, but you are.

So, these have been my experiences with twitter. What have been some of yours?

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…

06th Mar2009

Top 40 Letter From Pop Camp

by Will

“Gib mir nocht zeit…”

Dear Mom,
I hate it here at Camp Teeheehaha. I wish you were here. Or at least, I wish you could kiss me thru the phone or something. I’m a big boy, and I know I need to pull it together. It just feels like I’ve been here forever!

It rained yesterday, and I got caught in it without my umbrella.

My bunkmate, Teddy, just came down with Stanky Leg, and the nurse thinks he should be sent home. I feel bad for the guy ’cause all he wants to do is just dance. They think he got it from jumping out the windows or something.

Then, there’s crazy Amy from the cabin across the lake. She’s crazy, mom! This morning, we woke up to find that she’d spraypainted “My Life Would Suck Without You” on the wall of our cabin! Crazy! Everybody tells me that I’m being heartless, and that everyone needs a second chance. I told Tom, our counselor, “You gotta let me know if you see Amy, OK?!” All the other kids seem to think this is some kinda of funny love story. I swear this place is a circus! Then, Amy’s bunkmate, Katy, keeps leaving me notes saying things like, “I’m Yours”. All the older guys are calling me a “womanizer”, whatever that is.

Next Saturday is the Let It Rock and Roll dance, and I know Teddy’s gonna hate to miss that. All of the single ladies are supposed to ask the guys, buy you know how yucky I think girls are. It can’t be all bad, though, as I hear there’s gonna be a Sundae Bar with, like, 12 kinds of ice cream, and you can get whatever you like! It’s gonna be awesome!

While Teddy was with the nurse, I opened a letter from his girlfriend. You know, she’s older, and sometimes she writes really funny stuff in the letters. One time, she wrote 3 pages about how she’s “untouched”, and how she wanted Teddy to change that, whatever that means. This week, though, there was nothing juicy. Just a whole bunch of junk about how her dad is sober now. He checked into rehab or something. Good for him, I guess.

I just got back from a pretty intense game of Red Light/Green Light, so I’m kinda beat. I just wanted you to know that I’m thinking of you. I’m not mad or anything. Sometimes I just really miss you. I’m sorry, Mom – I hate this part. I know you’ve got to live your life, and I’ll be back home before I know it. I can’t wait to see you next Sunday for Parent Day!


P.S. Please send me the latest issue of Miss Independent. I’ve gotta see if she finally defeats The Fray. Thanks!

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
-American Soldiers Fighting for Our Freedom
-Dead Soldiers
-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)

27th Jan2009

Shortpacked’s Take On The Fate of Batman

by Will

Once again, Shortpacked says it better than I ever could:

25th Dec2008

Poor Robin…

by Will

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!”

(Courtesy of Shortpacked)

11th Mar2008

Company Dinner Faux Pas

by Will

“How’re you gonna fix it, fix it, fix it?”

Huh. It turns out my last post was Post #600. There were no bells and whistles or anything. I’ve got to pay more attention to that kind of stuff. Oh well, I don’t really like the number 600. I’ll make a big deal out of #650. Anyway, here’s a conversation that I had tonight, at a company dinner, with the director of the sales department:

Me: Hey, Mike…what’s the name of that chick you took to Stardust that time?

Mike: What?

Me: Remember, when they basically gave everyone in the whole damn company tickets to Stardust? You had a girl with you. I think she works in customer service. She’s cute and, well, to put it another way, kinda…”thick”….(yeah, I used the finger quotes)

Mike: Oh, no…she’s not in customer service…

Me: Really? You sure? Who is she, then?

Mike: That would be my girlfriend. And you’re a dead man.

*laughter erupts around the table*

Me: Oh, shit…well, let me tell you, in my community, “thick” isn’t a bad thing!

*more laughter*

Mike: Oh, really?

Will: Dude, she’s really cute. She is a cute girl. Hell, I’m glad you got to her first! You beat me to the punch!

Mike: Uh-huh. You’re a dead man.

Me: Man, I’m serious. I’ve been looking at her since that day, and all I could think was, “Man, she’s cute. Why the Hell is she with Mike?”

Keith: Yeah, Will, you should probably shut up now.

And that, folks, why I’m considered such a “people person”.

18th Jan2007

An Open Letter to Dr. Cliff Huxtable

by Will

“I’m English, go on, deport me.”

An Open Letter to Dr. Cliff Huxtable:

Dear Dr. Huxtable,
It has come to my attention that your skills in medicine are questionable, at best. Why do I say this? Well, Dr. Huxtable, you endured medical school, did your residency, and you have established a nice life for yourself and your family. But that’s just it; let’s talk about your family for a minute, Dr. Huxtable. After observing you all for over 20 years, I am shocked that you never once realized that 2 of your daughters, as well as your granddaughter, are half White.

Now, I’ve seen the rest of your family, Dr. Huxtable. To borrow from Maury Povich, I know that you are NOT those kids’ father. Now, Olivia is actually a step-grandchild, so we don’t know what the deal was with her mom. That Navy guy could’ve pulled into port and gotten any Becky or Laura pregnant. No, Dr. Huxtable. My beef is with YOU!

How can you just play dumb and assume that you are the father of Denise and Sandra? I was never good at biology (I always felt that there was more gravity to physics! bah-dum-dum!), but I think I get how this works. Now, we can go the whole dominant vs. recessive gene route, but I’ve seen you, and I’ve seen Mrs. Huxtable. And I regret to break it to ya, but your wife succombed to “The Fever” about 30 years ago. Now, I’ve seen your wife’s sister; If you’d slept with Debbie Allen, that would begin to explain things. Wait…is that it? DID you sleep with Debbie Allen? Because that REALLY would explain things!

But for now, I call shenanigans! If you think I’m dumb enough to fall for this ruse, you’ve got to think twice, Dr. Huxtable. However, if you honestly believe that those two girls are your kids, well I think I’ll be finding another doctor. I wonder how I can get in touch with that Dr. Harry Weston…

Thank you for your time.

Will West

17th Jan2007

I Think I May Be In Love With Jack Bauer…

by Will

“The following takes place between the hours of 7:00 PM and 8:00 PM”

I’m beginning to accept my love for Jack Bauer. No, I’m truly in love with the man.

I’ve realized that Jack Bauer could pretty much have sex with me, and by the fact that Jack can do no wrong, it wouldn’t even be “gay”. I’d probably be ruined for all others, but he would sneak up behind me with that gruff voice of his, and say, “My name is Jack Bauer, and I am a federal agent.” He’ll probably go on and on about a bomb, and some terrorists, and name some dude whose name can’t be pronounced without hocking up a little something.

He’ll point his gun at the back of my head, or at least, he’d tell me it’s a gun. And then he’ll force me to the ground. Before I know what’s was happening, he’ll have a knife shoved in my kneecap, as he prepares to cut off my pinky with bolt cutters. The whole time, he’s yelling and screaming, “Where is it?!! Tell me where it is!” And as you could imagine, that’s just getting me all hot! I mean, I am totally swept up in the hotness that is Jack by this point.

Maybe as he’s performing a full cavity search, he’ll see the yearning in my eyes. And then it’s gonna be on like Donkey Kong. But like I said, it wouldn’t be gay. I’d just be serving my country. When it’s all over, he’ll quickly roll off me to answer his cell, muttering something about, “Yessir, Mr. President.” That’s my Jackie, always thinking about work!

As I get up off the floor, readjusting my Dockers, I’ll be killed by a sniper who was actually gunning for Jack, but well, them’s the breaks for anyone who dares get involved with a federal agent. With my dying breath, I tell myself that I knew what I was getting myself into, and it was all worth it. Every last inch and minute of it. And as I close my eyes for the last time, I think, “I sure hope nobody thinks this was gay…’cause it wasn’t…for reals…”