04th Jul2005

Patriotic Justice: Beaten With A Flag

by Will

Mini Rant

-So, McDonald’s accepts credit cards now. Yeah, I know this isn’t a new development, per se, but still…Just what Americans need: the golden opportunity to get fatter and deeper into debt.

-Hey, welcome back, Coldplay! How we’ve missed you. A new track, you say? Wow, that certainly IS the “Coldplay sound”. Hey, Chris Martin, how about something NEW next time 🙁

-So, I get home the other day, and what do I find? A flag planted in my yard by Tom Powers, the local realtor. Now, Mr. Powers and I go way back. You see, he’s always leaving trinkets on our porches, such as apple butter, yard sticKs, flags, etc. It’s all bribery, so when we decide to sell the house, we’ll think, “Well, that nice Powers guy was always giving us stuff. Let’s choose him!”

But the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. When I was younger, I didn’t get spanked much, but when I did, my mother made sure that it counted But see, Mommy was older and not as strong as your mothers probably were, so she always needed some sort of…well, weapon, for lack of a better word. And what did she usually grab? A yardstick, or a flag. Yeah, she beat me with a flag. Broke the flag stick on my ass. God Bless America, indeed..Generally, she grabbed whatever was sticking out of the umbrella stand. Hence, my discipline sessions were reminiscent of a WWF Hardcore Match. And who, pray tell, do you think supplied most of the armament found in the umbrella stand? You guessed it, Tom Powers. So, unbeknownst to him, Tom Powers is my worst enemy.

04th Jul2005

Back To The Minors: From A Cappella To Karaoke

by Will

Today’s Episode: “Back to the Minors”

So, let me tell you about the cutthroat world of karaoke: you’re only as good as your last performance. And, you see, my problem is that I never know when to stop…when to leave well-enough alone.

About every 6 months, I feel the need to get back in the saddle and sing. Since I no longer have an a cappella outlet, I usually find myself at karaoke. My normal place is Cafe Japone, ’cause Eduardo and I kinda “discovered” it a few yrs ago.

Anyway, I usually go around a holiday, and I go alone. As much as it may surprise some, I’m still very shy and get stagefright with the worst of them. I’d rather be with strangers than with friends.

So, i normally sing about 3 songs, and it’s that third one that I should always leave off the list. You see, my first two songs are “One More Try”, by George Michael and “Hello”, by Lionel Richie. Now, I’ve got to say that I’m not usually a favorite a karaoke. The key to success is picking a “crowd song” that everyone wants to sing, like “Sweet Caroline.” But I dont play by the rules. I’m the guy who has to sing the slow songs. But don’t knock my choices. I’ve almost had marriage proposals for singing those songs, I shit you not! But what happens is, I get off on the accolades from the first 2, and usually choose a bad song for #3. Normally, it’s song I’ve never done, but have enjoyed singing along to on the radio. And, normally, it bombs, and it’s amazing how quickly your “fans” turn on you.

Tonight was one of those nights.

I was bored as crap, Shelly was having a “girls night”, and nobody else was returning my calls. So, I found myself at Cafe Japone. I got my drink, and chose my songs. Sure enough, I chose “One More Try” and “Hello”. Due to lack of shuffle, they ended up back to back. At first, the crowd didn’t know what to make of me. The night had been dominated by some kind of South American summit, and they had commandeered the playlist. My songs came on, and they warmed up to me. Yup, still had it. But I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I HAD to choose a risky third.

While I was choosing my comeback track, this chick came out of nowhere and kicked ASS on Leann Rimes’ “How Do I Live”. Now, that’s also my Karaoke Achilles Heel: competition. There are 2 kinds of people at karaoke: 1) The Crowd Song Drunk and 2) The Competitor. You see, I usually enter the arena as the latter, but it’s only good when everyone else is the former. When another #2 enters, it’s “Oh, shit.” It’s kinda like when another Black guy would enter that frat party back at Cornell (C’mon, y’all have seen “Not Another Teen Movie!). Anyway, it blows the wind out of my sails and makes me all self-conscious.

So, she knocked the song out of the park, and the lines were drawn in the sand. It was between me and her, and she had the advantage that she was in the party of South Americans. Her fanbase was loaded (Nice, play on words, Will). So, it was time for my encore, which I had already decided would be my final song of the night. Go out on top, right? WRONG. What did I choose? “Flying Without Wings”, commonly known as a Ruben Studdard song.

Now, I say “commonly known” because the Ruben version is the one that 9 out of 10 people know. But anyone with knowledge of European pop (and I figured the South Americans might know this, too) knows that it was originally a #1 hit by Irish boyband, Westlife. Now, this was my first mistake: choosing an obscure song. My next mistake was trying to reinterpret it. I’ve always hated Ruben’s version. I felt he played it safe. So I decided to sing the Westlife version, but the backing track was for Ruben. Also consider the fact that there were different chord progressions, and it’s not like I had practiced it before. I was singing without wings, and didn’t have a parachute.

So, I got up, did my thing, but my thing wasn’t good enough. Early into the song, the South Americans were booing me, as if I’d scored in the wrong goal or something. I persevered, and finished the song. My reward? A lone clap from someone in a corner. Everyone else had either intensified their conversation or just forgotten that I was even up there.

Now, let me tell you about my fans. There was this “reverse 3’s company thing” going on next to me at the bar. This chick was there with her 2 gay guy friends, and they were just chillin’ with some sushi. After my first set, they were like, “You were awesome!” I went on to tell ’em it was only because of a cappella. They asked where I’d gone to school/sung, and I told ’em Cornell. The girl had actually heard of Last Call, and I instantly had friends. Another guy friend showed up, and he leans over and says, “So, I hear you’re incredible at this”. Now, this was following Clone Leann had done her song, so I wasn’t feeling too confident. I told him, “Well, it’s really all about your song choice.” Man, was I sorry to be right. My song choice, “Flying without Wings” was NOT a good one, and my new friends did not notice me again. In fact, you could tell they were going out of their way to not really look at me, so as not to have it be awkward. Funny how that works…

So, I got my check, which took forever, and I walked out into the DC night. I only do this every 6 months because of nights like this. It takes me that long to get back on the horse again. I wondered if I still had it, I found out that I did, and then I took it too far. During the 6 months, I’ll go to the redneck karaoke and hone my skills. The “minors”, if you will. You see, at redneck karaoke, everyone’s a drunken crowd singer. You might get the “pro”, but he’s not competing. He just brings his own CDs, and REALLY gets into the songs. But it’s all about him, and no one else in the bar. It’s a good place to get your courage back because your ability to make friends and fans is directly proportional to how drunk you’re all willing to get. And that’s never a problem. DC karaoke is chock full of former a cappella, Capitol Hill interns, looking for one last shot at glory. And they always kick my ass. I don’t know if it’s really a vocal thing, or if it’s the thoughts in the back of my head saying, “They have great jobs and great lives. They don’t NEED this. They’re doing this for fun.” I wish I could say the same, but I put all my eggs in this basket ’cause I’m an attention whore. I NEED this. I think back to the college days when I was singing and happy, and the world was my oyster. I was gonna rule the world when I graduated. Well, I kinda ruled a department at H&M for a while, but that was about it.

Karaoke, to me, is a test to prove that my college career was not in vain. Most people use college to network and study; generally plan for their futures. I, on the other hand, used college for singing. It brought me confidence and took the stress off, but a cappella’s what consumed my college career. So, unlike a graduate degree or some specialized skill, what I took away from college was singing. And karaoke is the only place I can get any use out of this. Wow, I guess college WAS in vain. I know, some of you are gonna say, “Don’t sell yourself short, Will.” And, I guess you’re right. But, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta go practice. I’ve got a rematch in December…

01st Jul2005

RIP Luther Vandross

by Will

Today, the world of music lost the beautiful voice and soul of Luther Vandross. He made us believe in the power of love, and he will truly be missed.

Wherever you are, Luther, I hope you’re getting that chance to dance with your father again.

27th Jun2005

Trapped In R. Kelly’s Closet

by Will

R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet Pts. 1-5” are the most enjoyable and innovative thing about music today. Forget Gwen Stefani and her Harajuku girls (why haven’t you written about them yet, Jenn?). Forget Li’l John and the Eastside Boyz. What?!! OK! Forget about Usher and the fact that he’s “man enough to admit he was wrong.”

I am all about Mr. Kelly. The man hasn’t missed a beat. Peed on a minor, on tape, and now he’s hiding in closets and singing about it.

Most people would start singing about Jesus or something to show they reformed. Yeah, Kelly tried that, but then he realized he had to keep it real. He likes cheatin’ on his women, and every now and then he gets in some shit for it.

And talk about plot twists! This song-saga is like “Passions”, but with more Black people and no creepy midgets.

Bless you, R. Kelly! You’re a man who knows what he needs and knows what he wants. While other celebrities might change their ways following a trial like yours, you refuse to put up a facade. When I see you takin’ a sip of a beverage I see that glint in your eye, and I know what’s next on your agenda. Just make sure you take care of that before you find yourself trapped in your next closet…

26th May2005

What Would Jesus DRIVE?

by Will

So, if you read my Comments section, you’ll see that Shel responded to my last post. Apparently, she feels that Jesus would’ve liked the Mustang they gave Bo and Carrie on Idol. I’ve gotta say that I disagree.

You see, I always felt that Jesus would drive a Jeep. And not a Grand Cherokee or any of that mess. I mean a Jeep, plain and simple. In fact, I kinda thought it might even be an Army surplus Jeep, you know, for the irony of it all…

A Jeep’s kinda unassuming, and JUST crunchy enough to get the job done…

What? You think Big J would be cruisin’ in an Escalade? A Lexus? I think not! He’s Jesus, not Kobe!

A Mustang? Oh, Shel, Shel, Shel…

25th May2005

It’s Funny ‘Cause Bo Bice Looks Like Jesus!

by Will

I think my favorite part of tonight’s American Idol finale was when they gave Jesus the car.

Silly, producers! Don’t they know that he can fly?

Anyways…did y’all see that “Dukes of Hazzard” commercial? Yee-HAH! Oh, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!

24th May2005

If Bo Loses Idol, Maybe He Can Be A Jesus Impersonator

by Will

Well, another season of American Idol comes to a close. Tonight sucked. It’s like neither of them knew which song to sing. None of the songs really showcased them vocally, but it’s all in the voters’ hands now.

Anyway, my money’s on Jesus.

Wait…you mean that wasn’t Jesus?

Wow…well, I guess that restores my faith.

OK, my money’s on the dude who looks like Jesus…

23rd Feb2005

A Frank Sinatra Tribute Album? Really, Westlife?!

by Will

Don’t you hate when your favorite musical act/group jumps the shark?

My favorite boyband in the entire world is UK group, Westlife. I LOVE them.

But their albums started sucking. On their last album, they had the audacity to cover Barry Manilow’s “Mandy”. Now, it seems like they have a running bet to see how much they can suck and still retain their fans.

Well, now I see that they’ve released, “Allow Us To Be Frank”, which is nothing but a Frank Sinatra cover album….by a boyband…from Ireland….

Old Blue Eyes is spinning in his grave….and calling Sammy some kind of “Coon” or something, while Dean and Joey just laugh and laugh…

22nd Feb2005

Keane – Can’t Stop Now

by Will

Keane – Hopes And Fears

Can´t Stop Now

“I noticed tonight that the world has been turning
While I´ve been stuck here dithering around
Well I know I said I´d wait around till you need me
I have to go, I hate to let you down
But I can´t stop now
I´ve got troubles of my own
Cause I´m short on time
I´m lonely
And I´m too tired to talk

I noticed tonight that the world has been turning
While I´ve been stuck here withering away
Well I know I said I wouldn´t leave you behind
But I have to go, it breaks my heart to say

That I can´t stop now
I´ve got troubles of my own
Cause I´m short on time
I´m lonely
And I´m too tired to talk

No one back home
I´ve got troubles of my own
And I can´t slow down
For no one in town
And I can´t stop now

And I can´t slow down
For no one in town
And I can´t stop now
For no one

The motion keeps my heart running
The motion keeps my heart running
The motion keeps my heart running
The motion keeps my heart running”

If you got this far, I guess you could say this is my “Dear John” letter to H&M. It’s time. Anyway, this was dedicated to Jessica, who today, became my favorite customer of all time. Even though you’ll never read this, thanks for the Big Red Pep Talk – you don’t know how much I needed it…

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!