06th Apr2010

Adventures West Coast #7: NBM Spotlight

by Will

Adventures West Coast #7: NBM Spotlight

Back when I worked in the comic industry, I was the Diamond contact for any publisher whose name began with a letter between “E” and “R”. This exact range would change over my tenure, but one publisher that I never lost was Nantier Beall and Minoustchine Publishing, AKA NBM Publishing. Now, NBM had a respected reputation in the industry, yet they weren’t putting out the books with the big name creators. There was no Moore or Gaiman coming from their corner of the market, so some of their best books sort of got lost in the shuffle. On numerous occasions, I would get calls from Terry Nantier, telling me that he felt they deserved more of a push for their titles. These phone pleas would be followed up by meetings at conventions, where he would again tell me that he wanted more promotion. At times, it was less of a request, and more of a demand. I’d tell him that I would do what I could, but I never really got any cooperation from the Diamond side of things. In any case, a few books would come across my desk, and I’d put them aside for when I was done reading Ultimate Final Invasion, or whatever was going on with the Big 2 at the time. Well, since I’ve got nothing but time on my hands, I finally got around to some of those NBM books, and all I can say is, “I’m really sorry, Terry!” NBM really has some great stuff in their library, and I only hope that he’s now getting the promotional attention that he always wanted.

Since these books were by Rob Vollmar and Pablo G. Callejo, plus the fact that I read them together, I figured it was only natural that I review them together.

The Castaways HC

Though it was actually the more recent of the two books, I actually read The Castaways first.
The Castways is the Great Depression-era tale of Tucker Freeman, a young boy who finds himself trying to emulate his estranged father, by riding the rails in the hope of a better life for himself. As the book starts, we find Tucker peeking at the collection of postcards that his father has sent home over the years. It seems that Mr. Freeman used to regularly leave home for long periods at a time. One day, he simply never came home. As a result, Tucker, along with his mother and siblings, were forced to move in with his father’s sister. A devout Christian woman, Tucker’s aunt was also a raging disciplinarian bitch. One day, she tells Tucker that he’s not pulling his weight, and that he’s at the age when he should strike out on his own, so that she would have one less mouth to feed. She gives him a few dollars, and tells him to leave immediately. Tucker hops the next boxcar out of town, and begins his journey to the unknown. Along his journey, Tucker meets Elijah Hopkins, a kindly old black man who’s also living the hobo’s life. Elijah takes Tucker under his wing, and teaches him the rules of the vagabond lifestyle. Tucker and Elijah bond during their time on the road, and when Elijah discovers that Tucker didn’t exactly want to leave home, he’s forced to make a decision on what path he feels would be best for the boy.

I found this to be such a touching story in short package. When the book started out, I found Callejo’s art style to be a bit jarring, as he tends to express every crease and wrinkle on the characters’ faces. The fact that it’s a two-tone book just exacerbated the fact that many of the old characters had a California Raisins-esque quality to them. His approach is quite European, which is understandable since most of his work tends to be for European publishers. By the end, however, I felt that his style was exactly what the story needed. Vollmar is great at expressing emotion, and he is quite gifted at writing significant moments between characters. I enjoyed every second of this book, and my only regret is that it took me 3 years to finally read it.

Bluesman HC

Next, I tackled Bluesman, which was actually the first collaboration between Vollmar and Callejo. Originally published as a 3-part, pseudo-prestige format series, Bluesman follows traveling guitarist, Lem Taylor, as he makes his way through rural Arkansas in pursuit of his next gig and next meal. Joining Lem on the journey is piano player, “Ironwood” Malcott.

The most significant aspect of Bluesman, from the get-go, is that Vollmar has done his research on the period. There are several historical references cited which serve to explain the lifestyle of a traveling musician in that era, as well as how he would be received by the rest of society. This background really helps to set the mood and boundaries of the tale. In early ’20s America, there was a class of man that simply traveled the rural south, relying upon the kindness of strangers. They would pay for their room and board with a song, and then set out for the next town. This was a complicated “occupation”, as many felt that these people should get “real” jobs so that they could make a real contribution to society. They looked down on these layabouts, as they “weren’t about nothin’.” At the same time, these people also enjoyed the entertainment provided by the traveling bluesmen. The best venues to play were, of course, speakeasies and juke joints, the locations of which weren’t exactly common knowledge during the days of Prohibition.

We first meet Lem and ‘Wood, as they wake up on the wrong end of a gun, due to the fact that they’ve been caught by the farmer in whose barn they were sleeping. Before the farmer is about to shoot them, Lem begins to preach and tells the farmer that he was a traveling holy man. This allows Lem and ‘Wood to escape, but only after they sing a few hymns for the farmer’s wife. They hit the road, and end up in a town called “Hope”. It’s here that we first see how society feels about traveling bluesmen, as they walk into a restaurant, and are ejected the minute the woman in charge notices Lem’s guitar case. She knows that they’re going to rely upon her charity, as they clearly don’t have any money. Again, Lem revs up a sermon so powerful that it leaves the woman in tears. Not only do they end up with their supper, but they also get a tip about a juke out in the woods that might provide them with their next gig.

The men soon find themselves at Shug’s joint, where an impromtu performance earns them a 2-night engagement. Shug is impressed enough with them that he allows them to sleep in his shed, and promises them a bigger take the next night. Well, on the second night, a local talent scout catches their act, and tells them that he wants them in the studio to record their songs. He tells them to be in Memphis within a week, and he’ll take care of the rest. It all sounds so promising, and that’s when Vollmar cites a passage which points out that a traveling bluesman’s success was always fleeting, no matter how close at hand it may seem. This is the part of the Behind The Music where the shit would hit the fan.

Lem was the responsible son-of-a-preacher-man, who grew up in a devout Christian household, and was never allowed to play his guitar in the presence of his father. Despite the rift that it caused in his family, he knew that his life had been changed the first time he heard the blues. Ironwood, while a bit older than Lem, was a LOT less responsible. Lem lived off strangers out of necessity, but you could tell that ‘Wood enjoyed it. He was simply a layabout, and the two men weren’t on the same page, as far as their goals were concerned. Plainly put, ‘Wood was trouble, as Lem found out on the second night. After their gig, ‘Wood convinced Lem to accompany him home with Tarene, one of the waitresses at the juke, despite Shug warning them against it. They get back to the cottage, and if Barry White had lived that long ago, they’d have put on one of his albums. Everybody was about to get some ass, when a truck rolls up out of the blue. In bursts Wyatt, the white owner of the house and, apparently, the waitress. Everyone scrambles to hide, but it’s no use, as he has noticed ‘Wood’s hat on the floor, signaling that his woman’s cheatin’ on him. At that point, action happens pretty fast, as Wyatt starts to beat the shit out of Tarene. Tarene chokes Wyatt in self defense, but he kills her by smashing a lamp against her head. He’s about to shoot her, as ‘Wood comes out of hiding and charges him with a knife. ‘Wood gets half of his head blown off, as Wyatt ends up with ‘Wood’s knife in his chest. With his remaining strength, Wyatt tries to shoot Lem, but the gun’s out of bullets. Lem’s in shock regarding ‘Wood’s death, and Tarene’s cousin, Maisy, tells him that he needs to leave before people show up, asking questions. When Lem leaves, Maisy finishes off Wyatt with the butt of his own gun.

Lem sets on the the run, and the book almost becomes a companion book to The Castways, as Lem embarks on a hobo’s life similar to that depicted there. While Lem’s on the run, Maisy hangs herself, and Wyatt’s father brings a lynch mob to town, demaning justice for his dead son. As far as he’s concerned, any black person could be punished for the crime, as the true injustice was that a white man had been killed, and he was convinced that one of the “town niggers” had done it. Luckily, the town has a fair sheriff, who won’t bend to the mob mentality. At this point, the book splits between the story of Lem on the run, as well as the sheriff’s investigation.

By the third act, everyone’s on stage, as the confrontation takes place in the middle of the woods, just before a tornado is about to hit. This section of the book is not only powerful, but it also lends a bit of the supernatural to the book. When we last see Lem, we’re pretty sure that he’ll never make it to Memphis to record that record. The epilogue, however, leads you to believe that may not have been the case, providing an ending so emotional that I defy you to finish the book with a dry eye.

As I said before, I’m sorry that it took me so long to discover the work of Vollmar and Callejo, but their work is a true example of “comics as literature” and I truly feel that it raises the bar on the medium to a new level. Definitely check these out!

15th Mar2010

DC’s Amazing-Man II Ain’t So Amazing When Becky’s Around…

by Will

Considering this is post #666, I really wanted to cover something sinister. At first, I considered a full disclosure, “fuck you” post regarding my last employer, but those kinds of things can violate NDAs and come back to haunt you. So, I quickly threw out that idea, and was left pretty empty-handed. Then, as I was leafing through the latest issue of Batman & Robin, and something caught my eye.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of DC Comics, which is being celebrated throughout the comics and various toylines. One promotion is sponsored by Colgate Max Fresh Mini Breath Strips, and the copy says that it “salutes DC Comics on 75 Years of the Hero Getting the Girl.” OK, cheesy enough. This blurb accompanied a blown up print of this cover:

That is Amazing-Man II and Maxima, both members of Extreme Justice – the “edgy” Justice League team that was published during the mid 90s. Amazing-Man was the grandson of the original WWII-era Amazing-Man, while Maxima was the warrior princess from Almerac. In any case, Maxima’s main theme is that she’s always looking for the perfect mate – basically a Xena-esque Bridget Jones. Of course, then, she would go for the Mandingo warrior that was Amazing-Man. In any case, a cover like that wasn’t too common, and the thought that came to my mind was, “Boy, Amazing-Man sure did love white women!” The emphasis is on did.

You see, after the breakup of Extreme Justice, Amazing-Man went to join an unofficial regrouping of Justice League Europe. On their maiden mission, while investigating the Louvre, Amazing-Man and Crimson Fox got into a conversation. Yup, her:

White, French, Crimson Fox. Supposedly, she was seen as “sexy”, despite that cobra thing on her head. Anyway, it turns out she was really turned on by the big A-M, yet she didn’t really think she had a chance. She nervously tells him about her feelings, and he’s actually flattered. Not only is it an awkward conversation, but it’s also not something you need to discuss in the workplace. You’re about to see why. They make plans for a future date, and all seems right with the world. Then, they are caught offguard by Starman’s nemesis, The Mist, who massacres them and the rest of their team. So, here you have a character, whose main footnotes include “interracial kiss cover” and “killed, while flirting with white girl, by villain who isn’t even in own rogues gallery”. Kinda sad, yet here we are, celebrating his dead ass “getting the girl”.

When Amazing-Man III came along, it was a whole different ballgame. He wears a dashiki and looks like Ving Rhames. He lives in New Orleans, and is probably pretty suspicious of white people. Hell, he pretty much declined a spot on the Justice Society just so he could go back to New Orleans to “do some good”. He gave up a shot in the big leagues to return to his FEMA trailer! He ain’t gonna go out like no punk bitch! That, is a man who has learned from the past, and I have a feeling we won’t see a cover featuring him kissing Power Girl.

18th Feb2010

Things I Learned This Evening…

by Will

– Black people are funny – not just in the “haha” sense, but also in the “WTF?” sense.

So, I was in Blockbuster, killing time, and this black family was milling around me in the previously viewed section. All of a sudden, the wife exclaims, “Oohn they got Couples Retreat! You know, the one wit’…” And I swear to you, in unison, husband and wife said “Faizon Love”.

What. The. Fuck? Now, I’m sure most of you saw the commercials for that movie. You remember that it starred Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, and maybe even remembered Jason Bateman. It even had Kristen Bell and the chick from the sex scene in Watchmen. But only black folks would remember it as the movie with Faizon Love. God bless ’em!

-After Blockbuster, this little halfy with a lip ring approached me as I was getting in the car. She gave me some sob story about how she was trying to get to her boyfriend’s house, but her mom couldn’t pick her up, and she didn’t have money for a cab. Of course, this was followed by a “Do you think you could help me out?”

Look, sweetie, you’re clearly new to this grifting thing ’cause you’ve got it all wrong. Allow me to point out your mistakes:

A) You’re NOT going to your boyfriend‘s house. You’re going to your sister‘s house. Why is that? Well, your savior in your time of need don’t need to know about a boyfriend. After all, they’re going to want to think there’s something in it for them. Also, the possibility of a sister just sweetens the pot.

B) So, your boyfriend’s apparently waiting for you, but doesn’t really care how you get over there? Your boyfriend clearly doesn’t love you. Or doesn’t exist. Either way, you’re making me late for Jeopardy.

So, did I help her? Nah, fuck her. I ain’t got time for that shit.

– I haven’t had the chance to blog about it, but I’ve been LOVING some Mad Men. I just discovered the show last month, when I watched the first 2 season sets over the course of a week. The 3rd season isn’t slated to come out until March, but I’ve been able to cut ahead, thanks to TVGorge (which I’m sure is gonna get shut down any day, so I’m not even gonna bother to post a link). One thing that I find funny, though, is how Peggy received her Queer Eye makeover last season, yet none of it stuck. She was beautiful for an episode, and then went back to being frumpy ol Aunt Margaret. Oh well, maybe that’ll change by the end of the season…

I’m also struck by the fact that women are able to detect that Don Draper’s “down for whateva”. It seems that infidelity is a man’s right during that era, but no matter how much of a stable family man Draper tries to project himself to be, all women seem to know that he’s gonna fuck ’em the first chance he gets. Sure, he’s got that commanding presence, which I’m sure serves as an aphrodisiac, but he would be even more baller if he were like, “No, I’ve got a hot wife at home”. Instead, he folds, which I feel kinda kills his allure. I’m not quite sure if I can put it into words, but it reminds me of a recent Rolling Stone interview with John Mayer. In that interview (which predated the infamous Playboy interview), Mayer said that “turning down John Mayer” is the new “hooking up with John Mayer”. By this, he meant that women are finding it more empowering to reject him, based on his reputation as a cad, instead of contributing to said reputation. I feel that Draper, by giving in to every women he comes across who’s NOT Betty, is slowly tearing down his own allure, as opposed to how he would come across if he occasionally said “no” to a couple of them. Oh well, the show’s got that Sopranos vibe to it where you feel you’re watching the downfall of a man and his empire, so I’m sure it only gets worse from here. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about the show once I’m done with the season.

Well, enough ranting from me. Hopefully, the next post will be one of those Adventures West Coast blogs I’ve been slacking on….

31st Jan2010

Adventures West Coast #2: Iron Man: War Machine

by Will

Adventures West Coast #2: Iron Man: War Machine

Welcome back to AWC, as I take on the classic story, Iron Man: War Machine.

Last time, I discussed Demon In A Bottle, the story where Tony Stark had to hit rock bottom in order to build himself back up. This story’s slightly different, however, as this is the story of Tony’s DEATH (*cue spooky minor chord*). Don’t get your Underoos in a knot! The story’s 15 years old, and they’re still publishing Iron Man, so you know he survives. The importance of the story lies in the fact that it introduces us to the War Machine armor, which has come to be known as the badass, heavy artillery armor worn by Tony’s pilot, Jim “Rhodey” Rhodes (Terrence Howard’s character, for y’all who saw the movie). What I found to be most interesting about this storyline, though, was the fact that many of the ideas presented are actually being used in the current Iron Man Storyline, “Stark: Disassembled” (more on that later).

As the collection opens, Tony has just returned from the latest Avengers mega battle, “Operation: Galactic Storm”. The fight took a lot out of him, and he’s suffering from the fact that his central nervous system is failing due to a techno-organic virus he has contracted. Man, does Marvel love them some techno-organic viruses! I’ll bet that sounded real cutting edge back in 1993, as all of their books seemed to have a major T-O threat. Long story short, Tony’s dying, and there doesn’t seem to be a cure. He knows he’s in his final days, but just as he’s wallowing in his pity party, he finds himself zapped to the 28th century. There, he meets The Stark: a race of aliens who worship Tony Stark as a god, due to the fact that one of his spaceships will eventually crash on their world (which is their past; stupid time travel!). In any case, the Stark’s world is on the brink of collapse, as they didn’t take good care of it. Basically, it’s an eco parable. Since Tony’s their god, they brought him to their time to solve their problems. He doesn’t want their destruction to be his legacy, he uses the rest of his days to solve their problems. There’s a final attack, and he’s sent back to his time, with no memory of the trip, plus he’s now closer to death.

Next, we see a shadowy cabinet doing what shadowy cabinets always do in this book: plotting a takeover of Stark Enterprises. They create a Chernobyl-like event, and then frame Stark Enterprises for the accident. Again, dying Tony doesn’t want this as his legacy, so he uses a remote-controlled Iron Man suit to go clear his name. He ends up fighting the Masters of Silence, a trio of techno samurai, who’ve been hired by the Yakuza to kill Stark for causing the nuclear accident. Tony convinces them that the Yakuza lied, and he and the Masters take the fight back to the Yakuza. It’s at this point that he unveils the War Machine armor: sleek and silver, with more firepower than any prior Iron Man suit.

While Tony’s fighting, he makes a very important operational change: he needs info on who may have framed him, so he charges Rhodes with using their intelligence connections to get information. When Rhodes reminds him that nobody’s gonna share secrets with a helicopter pilot, Tony promotes him to VP of Operations. With his new position, Rhodes finds out that the person behind all of this is Justin Hammer (from Demon In A Bottle) DUN DUN DUNNNN! Turns out Hammer was trying to defraud Stark Enterprises so that he, along with 5 other organizations, could split up the company for themselves. Anyway, Tony and the Masters of Silence strong-arm him into surrendering, at which point Tony gets back Stane Industries (formerly known as Stark Industries, his old company). So, it’s like Tony put right a very big wrong from his past. And then he dies.

Rhodes grieves along with the rest of the world, as word breaks that Tony Stark has passed away. As an interesting aside, the news even reports a rumor that Tony may have succumbed to the AIDS virus. Yeah, really. Anyway, remember that seemingly impulsive promotion that Tony gave Rhodes? Well, guess who’s now the head of Stark Enterprises! Yeah, Tony left a holo-will (SO futuristic!), leaving Rhodey as the head of the company but, more importantly, asking him to take over for him as War Machine. It seems that the armor was actually developed with Rhodey’s specs in mind, and the world still needs an Iron Man. Rhodey’s pissed that Tony put him in that position, but he eventually agrees. But what’s this we see, as the issue ends? Turns out Tony’s not DEAD dead. Sure, he’s got no vitals, but he’s been cryogenically frozen by his med team, for reasons unknown.

Next, a gang of villains attacks Tony’s memorial service, slamming an exploding chopper into Stark HQ. Rhodey makes his debut as War Machine and saves the day. However, the Avengers West Coast (of which Tony was a member at the time of his death) end up returning to Earth at just that moment, and they realize the Iron Man they see isn’t any Iron Man they know about. So, a fight breaks out between War Machine and the AWC, as these misunderstandings are prone to occur. Both sides iron things out (hey, that’s a pun!) and realize they’re both on the side of angels. It’s at this point that we start to learn more about Rhodey.

The most interesting part about Rhodes is the focus on his interpersonal relationships. I think it’s always hard writing a romantic interest for a black character in comics. Do you give him a black girlfriend, or do you go off the grid with something “kooky”? God forbid you make her white! On twitter today, I was comparing the token blacks of the Big 2: Rhodey vs. GL John Stewart. When it came to relationships for Stewart, DC took the easy way out: he got to marry an alien. A pink alien, at that, so she’s still “colored”. Oh, and the Justice League cartoon? Another alien: Hawkgirl. She’s white, but she’s got wings; it’s like dating a sexy can of Red Bull. Rhodey, however, hasn’t had it easy, and it shows. I think, due to his position as Tony’s pilot, he felt that people may have seen him as a bit of an Uncle Tom. The character, himself, is cool as a cucumber, but whenever another black character shows up, it’s like they make a point of making him feel uncomfortable about his subservience to Tony. Even when he had his black girlfriend, Marcy, she kinda made him feel like shit ’cause she was a cutthroat executive at Stark, while he was an air chauffeur. During this storyline, he cuts her loose, due to the fact that she wants his job, but he quickly rebounds with Tony’s blond friend, Rae LaCoste. To say that Ms. LaCoste is “aggressive” would be an understatement, but let’s just say that he’s fucking her within an issue. In fact, she gets so close to him so quickly that I was SURE she’d turn out to be working for Justin Hammer or something (if that was the case, it’s not revealed in this collection). You can tell he’s uneasy about this, though, as he reminds her “this complexion doesn’t come from Coppertone”. She tells him she likes it and doesn’t care, and Mandingo Fuck Party 23 resumes where it left off.

In any case, Rhodey does a great job both running Stark and as War Machine, but something’s going on in the background that he doesn’t know about. You see, Tony’s not dead, and only his med team knows. He’s been in cryogenic stasis, and sort of reliving old memories. His central nervous system is gone, but they think they can reprogram the T-O virus to replicate his CNS into something even better than what he had before. Then, his body will reboot itself just like an operating system. Sound familiar? It should, if you’ve been reading Marvel for the past year. If not, here’s the long and short of it: Tony Stark hid the identities of most of the Marvel heroes in his head (longer story), and Norman Osborn became the most powerful man in Homeland Security (even longer story) and wanted that information. To keep it out of enemy hands, Tony wiped his mind, like a hard drive. He was near death, but left a plan for his friends to reboot him like an operating system. In the meantime, he’s kinda reliving his life in his subconscious. Oh, and he asked Rhodes to carry on the fight for him, as War Machine. Yup, “everything old is new again”. Anyway, back to War Machine.

Once Rhodes finds out about Tony, he feels betrayed and quits angrily. Tony kinda feels bad, but feels justified because he thought that the ignorance would serve to protect Rhodey in the long run. He, then, debuts his NEW armor (back in this day, Tony seemed to go through armor like clean underwear. There were only subtle changes each time), which resembled his classic red & gold suit, but allowed him to control it remotely from his hospital bed, as he hadn’t regained motor functions. Tony, again, apologizes to Rhodes and tells him that he wants him to keep the War Machine suit. As the storyline ends, Rhodey’s making a call to the Avengers West Coast, implying that he’s going to join up.

Unlike Demon In A Bottle, I felt that this collection provided a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. For a book called War Machine, the armor was appropriately featured in most issues, and not just at the end. In some ways, I feel that I missed out by reading this in collected form. I can only imagine how big of a deal it was to read this back when it was originally published in sequential form. This was the early 90s, and everyone was trying to one-up the next guy. If comics weren’t featuring deaths, they were featuring new armor and trading card inserts. Tony had been in deep shit before, but he hadn’t quite DIED. For a full year, Rhodes took his place. In a pre-Internet society, this must’ve driven fandom apeshit! I remember how I felt when the “Age of Apocalypse” replaced the X books, and I’ll bet this was the same for Iron Man loyalists. In all, it’s a good read, and a great resource for anyone looking to get some insight on the only man Tony Stark trusts to carry on his legacy.

06th May2009

Leon On Me: A Brief History of Black Cinema’s Charo

by Will

“Run a web search on the phrase “American Dream” sometime. You’ll get nine million hits, and 95% of them are for real estate. Three percent are for strippers.”

leon1-791299
courtesy: davidruffinbbfaq.ourfamily.com/leon.jpg

Look at that smug motherfucker up there. Just look at him. In the time it has taken you to be mesmerized by his overt smarminess, that dude has just banged your sister. And your mom. In front of you. ‘Cause that’s just the type of guy he is. In every role he has every played, he has either screwed someone OR screwed them over. If you’re not familiar with ’90s Black cinema, or you’ve never had to endure the agony of what was once called the African Heritage Movie Network (sponsored by AT&T, ’cause Black people love runnin’ up a phone bill!), allow me to introduce you to the D-level powerhouse known, simply, as Leon.

Born Leon Preston Robinson IV, his first claim to fame was as “black dude who’s about to get banged by Madonna” in the controversial “Like A Prayer” video (controversial because of the Catholic iconography, not because she was banging a black dude). He went on to pretty much fill out the role of “black henchman” whenever Sam Jackson was busy (this was before Pulp Fiction, of course). If it involved snortin’ coke, womanizing, or just plain sweatin’ a lot, Leon was your man. You may even remember him from the movie that everybody loved, yet nobody ever talks about anymore: Cool Runnings (whatever happened to Doug E. Doug?).

In the mid-nineties, Leon landed a choice role in Robert Townsend’s The Five Heartbeats, the story of a fictional Motown-era singing group. Really showing his range, this role prepared him for his next: a role in The Temptations, a TV movie about a real Motown-era singing group. He followed this up as the title character in Little Richard, a TV movie about…well, you get the picture. After all those singing roles, he decided “Fuck it, I’m releasing an album.” So, he formed Leon and The Peoples, a reggae soul band, starring him and a bunch of people who don’t have the luxury of having their names mentioned in the band’s moniker. This marked the point at which Leon The Actor and Every Role Leon Has Ever Played became one being. This is the reason I’m educating you, so that you’ll be ready when he comes to steal your coke and bang your mom. He’ll do it. I saw it in one of his movies, and he apparently thinks he can really do all the shit he does in movies!

Leon can also be found traveling the country with Black stage shows. You know the kind – they always have names like All That and a Bag of Jesus or You Ain’t Goin’ To Heaven, So You Sho’ Nuff Goin’ To Hell. It would be best to avoid these at all costs. First off, there’s no telling what he might do. Secondly, this is the kinda shit that made Tyler Perry rich, and we just can’t have that happening again.
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Take this knowledge and use it wisely. He may seem like a poor man’s Wesley Snipes, but he is not to be trusted, nor should you look him directly in the eye. Wait…where are your pants? Didn’t I just finish telling you not to look him in the eye?! Damn, he moves fast…
14th Nov2008

Dolemite Never Got To See The Black President

by Will

“I can see Russia from my house!”

So much has happened since the last post, so we’re gonna go with bullet points this time around.

-“President-Elect Barack Obama”. Holy shit! I don’t know if that’ll ever sink in for me. It looks like Sam Cooke was right.

-If I never see Todd Palin again, it’ll be too soon. That guy is Prince of the Douchebags. That’s right, he’s not even worthy of the position of King. I can’t believe he was almost Second Douche of the US. Just looking at that guy bothers me. That damn goatee – he looks like the old sketchy guy who hangs out with high schoolers & buys them beer.

dolemite

-Dolemite died?! He never got to see the black President! I’d say he would’ve been proud, but I highly doubt that. Dolemite was a hater. I mean, we are talking about the same guy who released “This Pussy Belongs to Me” & “This Ain’t No White Christmas”. Not exactly the kind of guy full of warm wishes. He’d probably say he should’ve been the 1st black President (there was, after all, “Dolemite for President”). In any case, I’m sure he’ll be missed by pimps, prostitutes & drug dealers across the natipn – especially those to whom he owed money.

-Neal Hefti died?!
If you don’t know who that is, he composed the theme song to the 1960s “Batman” TV show. Yes, the “nana nana” song. It’s some of the best surf guitar this side od “Miserlou”. Here’s hoping he’s still composing in that Gotham City in the sky.

-BET named Lil Wayne Best Lyricist?! Really? Were those even words that he was spouting? I thought BET was supposed to get BETTER after Hudlin’s departure! Who’d have thought that one man could make BET worse than it already was? Sure, he got rid of a lot of booty videos, but then he greenlit shows, like “Somebodies”, which felt like they would’ve been on SNICK, if it weren’t for all the booty in them. Looks like Marvel’s over Hudlin, too, as he’s off of Black Panther. Where ever he ends up, let’s hope he learns to suck less.

Man, this BlackBerry bloggin’ is rough! I apologize for formatting errors, and I’ll be back to normal once I get a chance to get back on the “real Internet”. Just not enough hours in the day…

21st Oct2008

So That *Wasn’t* A Pokeball On People’s Cars?

by Will

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet”

So, I’d like to do something different, and actually post about myself, rather than pop culture trivia this time out. Allow me to share a story with ya, a story that shows just how clueless I can be sometimes.

You see, for the past few months, I’ve been seeing a sticker on the backs of people’s cars, and I had no clue what it meant. Sure, if I’d gotten close enough, I would’ve been able to read it, but from driving distance, I was left wondering what that sticker meant. Honestly, the first thought that came into my mind was “What’s with this recent Pokeball craze?” I mean, sure you see soccer moms with the ball magnet, or you see the baseball fans with the whole “fake-ball-shattered-glass” thing in the window, but I never knew so many adults to have a Pokemon fixation. I was beginning to feel left behind, like when I missed the initial wave of the Harry Potter phenomenon. Well, the other day, I got close enough to the sticker to see what it was all about. This is what I saw:

Come on, that doesn’t look like a Pokeball to anyone else?! I can’t be the only one to make that mistake. Anyway, I guess it just goes to show how out of touch I can be when it comes to the things that matter.

Anyway, that realization forced me to confront something I hadn’t said outright, and officially throw my hat into the Obama camp. Hell, I was always there, but it was more fun blending into the crowd on the sidelines. I love how Jason at work (yup, I’m calling you out) was so certain that he knew who I was voting for, with his, “I know your kind”. Well, I guess you called me wrong. I believe in change, and I believe that Senator Obama is the best man for this job this time out. I’m eager to see where he takes this country, and I can’t say I ever thought I’d see this in my lifetime. I could take the race stance, and simply say, “I’m voting for the black president”. I could take the party line, and say “I’m voting for the Democrat”. But I’m going to take the logical approach, and say that I’m voting for the best man for the job. Here’s hoping he’s as good as America’s other black president, David Palmer (c’mon, I had to get a little pop culture in there!). A part of me regrets that I didn’t really do my part in this campaign, but one of the most important things we can do at this stage is vote. Seeing as how the 5 people who read this site are already voting for Obama (except Brett, probably), I’m pretty much preaching to the choir. So, this is me, apologizing for my former political ambivalence, and I’m officially saying, “Senator Obama, I choose you!”

Speaking of change we can believe in, (and on the pop culture tip), there are heavy rumors coming out of the UK that actor Paterson Joseph is slated to be the next Doctor Who. Now, geeky as I am, I’ve never seen an entire episode of Doctor Who. I couldn’t really get behind it because it was shitty for about 30 years until someone got the bright idea to up the production values. Seriously, that character spent the 60’s thru 90’s fighting trashcans with laryngitis. All of a sudden, someone said, “My word, the Doctor could use a new shine” and everything got all hi-tech and pretty. Anyway, this casting, if true, would be groundbreaking because Mr. Joseph would be the first black Doctor. Of course, there’s been vocal opposition, but who cares? You can’t please sci-fi fans. We takin’ ova! First, the White House. Next, time & space!

While we’re on the matter of change, I was convinced that I had “Good Luck Chuck‘d” pretty much every woman I’d ever dated, but I forgot that they’d changed the laws in some states, so now I get to add one more to the list: congrats to VA & Jess! You’ve got yourself a good woman, Jess, so treat her well. As much of a hater as I can be at times, I’m truly happy for you guys.

While we’re on the marriage thing, I’d also like to congratulate Davis & Jess (different Jess – but, man, wouldn’t that be weird?!) on their 2-year wedding anniversary. Never before have I met a couple so perfectly matched, yet you’d never believe it at first glance. Their whole union should be an inspiration to all of us, and no they didn’t pay me to say any of that. Hell, they don’t even read this thing, so they’ll probably never even see it. I guess I’m just in a different kind of mood tonight.

And to cap this whole sentimental thing off, I’d also like to congratulate James & Jenn. They think I forgot, but those kids have been together 9 years now. NINE YEARS. They met the second day of orientation, and haven’t really been apart since. I don’t even have the words, but I know that without them, y’all would be reading this one some livejournal with some cartoon avatar instead of the site you have before you. Besides the site, they’re good people, and they make up any portion of my Cornell existence that didn’t involve Last Call (and many portions that did). Nine years?! Dayum! That’s impressive.

Before signing off, I’d like to give Marcus a “Carol Burnett Ear Tug” and thank him for the link. OK, enough grab-assing. Next time, we’ll talk about something cool, like Batman. Promise!

12th Oct2008

How’s Usher Gonna Get Off That Damn Mountain? And Other Reality TV Stuff…

by Will

“You want White Castle, need White Castle, long as you got me it won’t be no hassle.”

– I’m usually not the biggest Weird Al fan, but his cover of T.I.’s “Whatever You Like” had me laughing for about 30 minutes. Absolutely priceless!

– I really wanna work for the company in Britney’s new “Womanizer” video. I mean, I never knew the fauxhawk to be “corporate”, but it seems to fly at that organization. Let’s hope this really is her comeback this time. Not the biggest fan of the song, but the video helps to sell it. MUCH better than that anime shit for “Break the Ice”…hey, didn’t that video end with “to be continued”? Let’s hope they don’t make good on that promise. Anyway, Brit’s looking pretty damn hot, so I guess we could all use a dose of crazy, if it does a body that good.

– Speaking of “to be continued” videos, Usher just released the video for “Trading Places”, but it’s just a random-ass R&B video. Last I remember, Mr. Raymond was stuck up on that mountain. How the Hell did he get off that damn mountain?!

– I’ve gone from a state of loving everything on MTV to hating everything on MTV. I guess I finally caught up with the rest of the real world (no pun intended). I was looking forward to Exiled, but realized I’d never watched enough My Super Sweet 16 to really care enough about those girls. I’m SO over The Hills, as well as the fact that Audrina and Whit have spin-offs coming. Don’t care about The Island, ’cause I really wanted a C.T./Dunbar ‘roid rage face-off, but that wasn’t in the cards.

Who the Hell thought Man & Wife deserved to be ripped off the web? It’s like the old Loveline, but nowhere near as informative. If anything, it actually makes me a bit uncomfortable. It’s like an interactive version of those shitty, traveling Black stage shows. You know, they always have names like, Seeing Jesus on the Downlow, and star hasbeens from Good Times & What’s Happening!!.

Sex…with Mom & Dad? Really? Dr. Drew, is this the best you could come up with? Do you miss your boy, Adam? Was he the brains of the operation? Now, this show does NOTHING for me. In the past, MTV sex shows were edgy, like the afore-mentioned Loveline. That was pretty groundbreaking for TV, but this is like Drew needed something to hold him over between Celebrity Rehab sessions. I don’t really think the show accomplishes much other than making the teens, the parents, and the viewers EXTREMELY uncomfortable. If anything, you end up learning the mom used to be a whore, and doesn’t want the daughter to be a whore. But the daughter’s only gonna react with the whole “Let me live my life and be a whore if I want to” response. In some ways, I kinda agree with that, but they could’ve had that “breakthrough” off camera.

The only shows I can still stomach are Making the Band 4 (I TOTALLY called the Danity Kane break-up before the season started!) and Parental Control. Plus, True Life and Made are always good entertainment.

-If you love “meta” humor, you’ll love this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HE9OQ4FnkQ . It’s A-Ha’s “Take On Me”, only it’s been remixed to tell you exactly what’s going on in the video. Watch it and you’ll understand. It’s one of those things where I wish I’d thought of it first.

-I’ve been wondering this for a while, but HD Radio – why? So, you mean to tell me there are secret stations, hidden between the stations I know, playing a bunch of different songs? If these songs are so great, then why hasn’t Clear Channel already shoved them down my throat? They know exactly what I like! No, these songs are being hidden, like ugly children and incontinent pets. They try to sell the fact that it’s near-CD quality sound, but if I wanted that, I’d buy the CD. When it’s free, I can deal with a degredation of sound quality. After all, you get what you pay for, and free radio is workin’ out just fine. Nice try, HD Radio, but you’re gonna have to try harder than that!

So, last night J. Christ. (no, not Jesus – He’s got more important things to do than read this blog; He’s too busy hanging out with all those rappers) told me that I don’t nearly keep up this site enough. I’ve gotta say that she’s right. I mean, in my neglect, I forgot to acknowledge my 5-year blogiversary back in July. I’m a big fan of streaks, and I know I’m always citing the anniversary of when I started blogging, or the anniversary of when I bought the williambrucewest.com domain name, or the anniversary of when I started actually using that domain name – plainly put, I like milestones. Anyway, I started rambling a little over five years ago, and man have I done nothing since then. I find that whenever I do these milestone posts, it forces me to look back in a pseudo-pessimistic tone. Well, I’m gonna try not to do that this time around. But, man, what I’ wouldn’t give to go back to being 13, when all I really looked forward to was a new episode of California Dreams every Saturday, and the promise of a positive, yet unknown future. Well, we can only go up from here, right? In the words of (probably unknown to most of you) Swedish pop star, Bosson, “we live, we die, and we learn to find the things we live and die for.” Guess I’m still learning to find those things. Here’s to 5 more years of the journey.

18th Jul2008

A Dent In The White House?

by Will

“He must’ve had fun making those!”

OK, so I saw The Dark Knight tonight. All I’m going to say right now is that it was a very good movie. Not gonna say “it was awesome” or “it was the best fucking movie ever”, because that would be way too “fanboy”. I will say, however, that it was a very good movie. I’ve got a post coming up, but I’ll wait til Monday, to give the rest of you peasants a chance to see it.

While sitting in the theatre, though, something occurred to me:

Imagine you had a biracial candidate for high public office. Everyone feels that he is the change that people need and want, and all of this responsibility is on his shoulders. He is the future, but it’s still quite the burden to bear. All of this pressure has got to manifest in him in some, odd way. Well, imagine if there was a cartoon depiction of said candidate. He would probably look something like this:

And we all remember what happened to him

Just sayin’, folks! Just sayin’…Not a sermon; just a thought!.

Anyway, come back for the full review on Monday. Oh, and The Watchmen trailer is a piece of shit.

16th Jun2008

Apple Bottom Kids & My Problems With Dawson McAllister

by Will

“Good job, Tila. So you can deep throat a pickle. Then again, you probably have 3 mouths, coming from the planet Orbitron or wherever…”

Kinda scatterbrained right now, so no real cohesive thoughts. Just a bunch of random stuff I need to get out:

Dear Management of Union Jacks:
When did you convert your bar into a weekly Bat Mitzvah? I’m not complaining, as I’m kinda going through a Semitic phase right now. I just wish I’d known, as I could’ve brought a gift or something….

– I wonder how The Turtles feel, knowing there’s an entire generation that only knows their seminal hit as “The Golden Grahams Song”.

– I’ve got a friend who’s dabbling in dating sites, and he’s been keeping me abreast of the things he’s encountered. Apparently, there are a lot of fat women on there who state, outright, that they’re not interested in Black guys. Really? But that’s your biggest demographic! That’s like if I had a rice sale, but said “No Asians”…

-Speaking of “fat”, has anyone seen Kimora lately? She’s getting those front neck rolls, like Florida Evans on Good Times.

-Am I the only one who thinks the chick in the Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos commercial looks like a Ferengi?

-I just saw a 7-year-old wearing an Apple Bottoms t-shirt. First of all, how do I know she was 7? She told me – kids in a toy store tend to be quite talkative. Now, first, I was thinking it was pretty fucked up for Nelly to make an Apple Bottoms KiDs! line. Maybe he should’ve been on trial instead of R. Kelly. After some web research, though, I find there is no such clothing line. So, this unfortunate wardrobe choice was the result of some real shitty parenting on someone’s part.

-Speaking of R. Kelly, it’s amazing how many people on the street were transformed into top gun legal analysts as a result of that trial. From the nightclub to the check-cashing/carryout joint, everyone was spouting phrases like “habeus corpus” and “circumstantial evidence”. It was incredible! People who’ve never given a shit about anything judicial in their lives – we’re talking about people who didn’t even go to their own daddies’ trials! I was mega surprised when Jeff took an intense interest in it. Shit, I wouldn’t be surprised if he told me he’d signed up for the LSAT!

-Lately, I’ve come to realize the concept of “stealing a kiss” is nowhere near as cute and romantic as people like to believe. In fact, it’s pretty sad…

The Average American Male has the most depressing ending I’ve read in years. And I think every man should read it.

-I want to kick Dawson McAllister in the balls. If you’re unfamiliar with the man, he runs a pseudo-Christian radio call-in show for teens (HOT 99.5, after midnight, locally). Think of Frasier Crane’s radio show, but instead hosted by his dad – his crotchety, old retired cop of a dad. This guy is SO out of touch with his audience that I have no idea how he’s been doing this since ’91. The shit that comes out of his mouth… One girl called up, and was telling him how much she loved her boyfriend, but she was scared of getting hurt. Dawson replied, “Yeah, there’s no condom for the heart, huh?” Really?!

Then, his million dollar answer to every question is the “wait a year” response. Your dad hates your Black boyfriend? Here’s Dawson’s response: “You see, this is about respect. You love your dad, but you love your boyfriend. I say you go to your dad, and say, ‘Dad, I love and respect you. I’ll wait a year, and not see Tyquan, out of respect for you. However, in a year, I hope you’ll have thought it over, and will feel differently.'” Wanna go to Iraq and fight for your country, yet your parents don’t condone it? Here’s the Dawson response: “You see, this is about respect…” Yup, he tells him to wait a year. That’s when he even has a response. Half the time, he responds, “Man, I don’t know what to tell ya” or “What do you want from me?” How about some advice, asshole! And don’t get me started on his insensitive playlist. It’s the only place where you can hear a 15-year-old cry over her unwanted pregnancy, followed up by “Buttons” by the Pussycat Dolls…

-And now, for the part of the post that probably only Marcus and Jeff will understand: When it comes to relationships, I think I’m ready for my title shot. I’ve jobbed my entire life. I jobbed with Barry Horowitz. I jobbed with Al Snow. I even jobbed with “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. I think I’ve paid my dues, though. I deserve my title shot. It’s my time to step into the ring with Triple H. It doesn’t mean I’ll win. Hell, I don’t expect to win, but I’ve earned my shot. I’m not even talking about a title shot at Wrestlemania or even The Royal Rumble. Shit, I’ll take No Way Out or even Backlash. When it’s all said and done, though, I don’t want to be a jobber anymore. I want my title shot, and that’s the bottom line….

And with that, folks, I leave you. Hopefully, the next post will make more sense to the casual visitor!