20th Nov2007

Video Games, Tila Tequila, and Wedding Shows

by Will

“I can’t wait to get married because nothing’s better than the cheating.”

-How in the Hell does Mario expect to beat Sonic in a race?! And at the Olympics, no less! Sure, if they’re running through pipes, I could kind of understand Mario’s advantage. But he clearly has no clue what he’s gotten himself into. Doesn’t he know Sonic’s origin? The little guy broke the friggin’ sound barrier, which is why he’s blue. BLUE! A blue friggin’ hedgehog, who can break the speed of sound, and some overweight plumber from Brooklyn thinks he has a shot. That’s harder to believe than the Rocky story.

-Anybody been watching MTV lately? What’s the deal with Alicia Keys and the bunny? Sure, it was kind of funny when it turned out to be John Mayer, but what was the point? Was the bunny her stalker? And wow, was she a bad actress! Was she that bad in Smoking Aces?

-Speaking of those MTV bumpers, is there some kind of payola scam going on there? When they started the program, it was for smaller, indie bands & performers. They would let some little act take over MTV for a week, and you’d be bombarded by their crappy live tracks or hear the lame story about how they formed. I wanted to punch that orange-haired chick from Paramore in the face. Anyway, they had Paramore, Chromeo, Rilo Kiley, Teagan & Sara, Common…and Alicia Keys. “One of these things is not like the other”!

-OK, so I’ve found myself dragged into the Tila Army. The show is just so entertaining, but it’s sad when everybody’s more interesting than Tila herself. Every now and then, she’ll interject just so you’ll remember that she’s a part of the show. She’s so damn whiny. “Oh my God, I’m bisexual! You don’t know how hard it is for me.” Blah, blah, blah. Yeah, Tila, it sure looks hard. You’ve got to decide between a whole bunch of guys, and a whole bunch of girls. Plus, it seems like the deck is stacked, as the guys are pretty lame. they’re either gross and/or I suspect they might be gay. If she’s smart, she’ll choose one of the lesbians. Actually, if she’s really smart, she’ll choose Dani; I swear, she’s more of a man than I am, but there’s something likeable about that chick, and she’s got a good head on her shoulders. The hardest part for Tila has got to be the fact that she’s working under a time constraint. After all, who knows when the mothership is going to return to take her back to Tilatron 9?

-While I’m still on this MTV jag, why does everyone in the Real World: Sydney house hate Parisa?! Seriously, since the beginning, it’s been like the producers set forth an edict: make Parisa the bitch. Over the course of the season, we’ve seen multiple housemates get pissed at her, curse her out, and after last night, even knock her down. For the most part, she’s kept her cool. And the one time that she did fight back and stand up for herself, they acted like she was a “crazy bitch”. You know the sad realization? Parisa’s “the black one” this season. You see, every RW house has that crazy black person who either starts fights, refuses to be a team player, and/or gets arrested for public urination. There’s no black housemate this season so Parisa, as the de facto person of color, is now filling that role. The biggest revelation, for me, is that she has never really done anything to deserve this. Sure, she can be a bitch sometimes, but everyone in the RW house is asshole/bitch at some point. It’s called good television. It’s enough to make you want to rewatch old seasons and see if Syrus, Kevin, or Tyrie actually deserved the flack that they got in their respective RW seasons. OK, well Tyrie deserved his…

-Since I’m this far in, I think this is going to end up as a TV blog post. Nothing wrong with that.

-Let me preface this by saying that I am not a gamer. I’ve always seen video games as an expensive game of “Keeping Up with the Joneses”. I’ve only got time and money for one hobby, and that’s comics. That said, I want Assassin’s Creed. The commercial alone makes me want it. The same way the Harry Gregson-Williams’s score for Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty made me want a PS2 (and the game), the commercial for Assassin’s Creed makes me want a 360 (and the game). One of the best uses of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” in recent years. Plus, it’s designed by Jade Diamond, and she’s hot. At least, that seems to be why UbiSoft thinks we should buy the game. (for recent, hilarious controversy, google: jade, ubisoft, cartoon.)

-For anyone who doesn’t know, I love wedding shows. For reals. It all goes back to my A Wedding Story addiction when I graduated college. that was soon folded into Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?, along with Married Away. Then, I Propose came along last Spring to cap it all off. Always a bridesmaid…Anyway, I’m having problems with Whose Wedding as of late.

I’ve written about this before, in that I believe Whose Wedding… is getting too highbrow for its own good. You see the same annoying planners (I’m looking at you, Donnie Brown!), and there’s too much crossover with Married Away. I get it. These are the favorite planners. Regardless, I still long for the old days, when there was a more eclectic mix of wedding planners. I miss Jim Rich, who runs a storefront wedding chapel in Texas. He’s the planner, minister, and MC of the reception. He does it all. Sure, most of his weddings were shotgun weddings between high school dropouts and Mexican immigrants, but they showed a different side of the wedding game. Lately, all of the weddings have been $90,000-$250,000 affairs thrown by professional New York couples who met in an elevator or the organic food market. The balance is completely thrown off now. And when they do have a “normal” couple, it’s such a hot ghetto mess that I’m ashamed that it’s even being shown.

My least favorite wedding planner right now is Linnyette Richardson-Hall. She handles weddings in the Baltimore area, and calls herself “The Wedding Diva” (Ugh, I hate when Black women call themselves “diva”. It’s SO “A Different World & Livin’ Single early 90’s” to me). She doesn’t like when the couple refuses to give her control, and she’s always cutting corners. She loves turning people away from the reception; it’s a necessary job, but she relishes it. She is not the chick you go to with an unlimited budget, because she’d just spend it all at the dollar store. I recognize that there’s a need for this type of wedding planner, as not everyone has an unlimited budget (I sure as Hell won’t!), but everything is so garish and cheap.

Typically, Linnyette caters to Black couples who’ve been together forever, and decided to get married before he cheats again/goes to jail. Seriously, here’s your average Linnyette wedding: bride and groom are about 32, and they were high school sweethearts. They’ve been on again/off again for the past 10 or so years, but they were on just long enough each time to spit out a few kids. So, now they’re planning the wedding, with their kids in the wedding party. The worst part, though, is their idea of a wedding has been tainted by the Jet Society Page, so they think a regal wedding consists of groomsmen, bridesmaids, junior groomsmen, junior bridesmaids, flower girls, and ringer bearers. All the while, the ceremony and reception are taking place at Bolling Air Force Base. They want to have a classy-ass affair, but we’re talking about a possible 20-person wedding party, for a dude who washes cars and a chick who works at the local check-cashing/seafood carry-out joint. Am I being too harsh? Maybe, but that’s what I do.

Anyway, if you’ve never watched the show, each hour is comprised of 2 different weddings being planned by different planners (although, they do have the rare case where one planner has 2 ceremonies on the same weekend, so she/he’ll get the whole hour). Now, it goes without saying that Linnyette’s weddings look even worse when stacked against a wedding being planned in Martha’s Vineyard, yet this happens more times that I’d like to recall. My problem with Linnyette is that I’ve never really seen her do anything that looked good. I mean, the couples seem happy with the result, and at the end of the day that’s what really matters, but I’ve never seen anything worthy of being televised. It’s almost like she’s an example of “wedding planning don’ts”. I get being “frugal”, but some of those corners. She’s the kind of chick where you’d say, “We need flowers”, so she’d swing by the funeral home and pick up any stray arrangements she found laying around. “We’re gonna need centerpieces”. Well, she’ll go to the dollar store, buy up a bunch of plastic candleholders, and then spraypaint them silver at home. She’s done it before.

A wedding’s a special day that, Lord willing, you’ll only go through once. That said, I wouldn’t want to cut corners. It doesn’t matter if the guests don’t realize the cake is day old from the bakery thrift shop. I would know, and that’s what counts. I feel you should plan according to your budget, and not try to cheat. Don’t try to have an elaborate high society affair in an Air Force bowling alley with some Rock Creek Ginger Ale. Know your limits, people. If you really don’t have a budget, well, that’s what Vegas is for…

12th Nov2007

Retarded Chris Brown, Black Republicans, Van Wilder-less Van Wilder 2

by Will

“Seriously, y’all, I’m punching a bear in the face!”

-Man, am I obsessed with Rihanna Jenkins! (Jeff’s the only one who’s gonna understand that joke). I just picked up Good Girl Gone Bad yesterday, and it is HOT. Just like everything else, I’m 6 months late to the game. I remember when I was jamming to “California Love”, and all my friends were like, “Will, Tupac’s been dead for 2 years.” Anyway, hottest track on this album, besides “Umbrella”, has got to be “Please Don’t Stop the Music”. It’s impossible to *not* dance while that track is playing. I love you, Rihanna!

-Why is it that whenever you see Chris Brown on a magazine cover, he’s always got that semi-retarded look on his face? Exhibit A:

“Kiss Kiss” nothing! Grab your Kleenex, ’cause this boy’s a drooler! You know the type. Their “handler” is always trying to take them to the mall, knowing full well that they’re gonna go crazy and throw a fit in the middle of the damn place. And everyone looks over, thinking, “Why in the Hell did she think she could bring that boy up in here like that?!”

– I really thought the Dewmocracy.com commercial was an Army recruitment video. I mean, the Marines almost got me a few times with their crafty camerawork and use of kickass looking swords. With the covert ops scenes, spliced in with the hints of a dystopian future, I was about to run down to the nearest recruitment office. It turns out they just want me to help design the new flavor of Mountain Dew. Not quite the same thing, but I’m willing to hear more…

I caught the last few minutes of Roadhouse on Spike the other night. Could someone please tell me what the fuck that movie was about? I saw some guy who looked like Santa Claus lying on the ground, and I think Patrick Swayze vowed to avenge him. And then these guys stormed a house, and Swayze beat the shit out of them, even though they had shotguns. And then a polar bear fell on some guy. It was all capped off by the main villain getting shot through a glass coffee table.

Now, I don’t have any old issues of Architectural Digest, but those glass top coffee tables seem to have been a staple of the time, and villains were always being shot or thrown through them. I know everybody wants to be a gangsta, but you have to decorate accordingly. If you’re in a line of work where shoot-outs may occur, you don’t want your home/office filled with glass. It’s just common sense, people. Seriously, though: What the fuck was Roadhouse supposed to be about?

-OK, I know that banner ads are supposed to be in-tune with the webpage on which they’re placed. However, I do believe that some things can go too far. Yesterday, I was trying to catch up on recent events on Sunday Best, so I hopped over to BET.com. Well, immediately, my eye was caught by a flashy-ass ad which could not be ignored: the entire side of the page was consumed by an ad for KFC. I shit you not. I clicked through several pages, but it was still there. KFC must be the biggest supporter of Black Entertainment Television.

Honestly, I hate watching BET (and formerly UPN) at this time of year, ’cause you’d think that all Black people do is eat chicken and shop at Wal-Mart. The hippies can give up Wal-Mart all they want ’cause the Black folks ain’t goin’ nowhere! I swear, Wal-Mart LOVES them some Black folks at Christmas time. The commercials have already started. The latest one is where the Black family buys grandpa a plasma TV. My favorite part is where they reassure him that they didn’t pay a lot of money for it. The commercial is geared toward this ideal: White guy’s response would be: “Well isn’t that great! I can watch the big game on it.” But Black guy’s response is immediately, “Y’all know we ain’t got money for this!” Gotta know your audience…

-Speaking of race, there’s no one who gets my pity more than the Black Republican on Election Night. You better believe that they’re gonna make sure to get him in every camera shot. He’s off to the side of the podium, just smiling and clapping, and every news outlet has to show that the Republican party is diversifying its ranks. The saddest part is that the dude is always out of place. It’s like he’s just not in on the joke. Even when they win, the Black dude is always left out of the congratulations proceedings. Everyone’s trading hearty handshakes, and he’s just still smiling and clapping. Sometimes he’ll even join in when the White guys start doing the whole Arsenio Hall Dog Pound Fist Cyclone (we gave that to them in 1996 when they let us have Mariah Carey). But even when they break out high-fives (for which he immediately feels well-suited), they high-five all around him. Sorry, Negro. Too slow! I swear, that guy must be the most hated guy ever because, for that one night, he’s the ironic victim of equal-opportunity hatred: Black Democrats, White Democrats, Many White Republicans, Green Partiers, Non-voters, his predominantly Democrat family, as well as his White wife’s family.

-How are you gonna have Van Wilder 2 without Van Wilder?! Also, I’m pretty sure Kal Penn is getting tired of faking that accent. It’s such a phoned-in performance, as the movie is more like Kumar Goes to England than it was about Taj. In the first Van Wilder, Taj was pretty fresh off the boat, and had only achieved a shred of cool by the end of that movie. In the sequel, he was the coolest guy ever (like Kal played in Harold & Kumar), while making fun of the British class system. Don’t bother with this movie, as you’ve seen it 25 times before. It’s Revenge of the Nerds meets Old School meets Bend It Like Beckham. If you want a funny college movie, though, you should see Grandma’s Boy. SO much better than people thought…

Well, that’s enough rambling for one day. In the immortal words of R.E.O. Speedwagon, “I believe it’s time for me to fly…”

29th Oct2007

Has Boondocks Gone Too Far?

by Will

“I don’t go with the “ga” version. I go with the “ger” version.”

I feel like I just had another “encounter moment”. You see, I really love Boondocks. It’s hilariously offensive, yet smart, in that Chappelle kind of way. At the same time, I think tonight’s episode just broke the record for the number of times “nigger” was used during a half hour of television that wasn’t part of the Roots saga.

Now, this has always been a controversial issue. The whole debate of “how can we say the word is bad when we use it in our music?” Or when you catch a white kid using it, and he responds, “But it’s in the song.” Sorry, folks, but Chad’s right. If you don’t want people using it, don’t use it so freely. Don’t go with the whole “we’re reclaiming it” argument. Don’t try to act like you can bandy it about and still be able to regulate its use. Sure, I’m guilty of it myself, as I went through quite a phase earlier this year. Then again, nobody reads this thing, while Boondocks is one of the highest rated shows on Cartoon Network.

I feel like I wouldn’t even care if the show were aired on BET. I just feel I’d be more comfortable with that. It could come on right before ComicView. Knowing it’s on Adult Swim, in lieu of an Aqua Teen or Sealab rerun rubs me the wrong way. Do you know the typical Adult Swim demographic? Primarily white males, age 16-32. Do you know how this must look to them? Sure, they’ll take it as a joke, but it will also serve as an example to them. It makes it seem like it’s OK to use it if A) it’s part of a song, B) black people use it first, in front you, and/or C) it’s part of a joke. I do not want these kids going to school tomorrow and laughing in detention about how Uncle Ruckus performed an exorcism on a nigger. I fear for that kid ’cause some black kid is gonna hear it, and that nigga’s gonna shoot somebody. What was that? Oh no, it’s cool. I used the “ga” and not the “ger”. See how fucked up that defense is? As if to say pronunciation is going to change anything. That’s as lame as saying that Hitler actually disliked juice

24th Jul2007

OutBlacked!

by Will

“You’re, like, my Black Spock…like in Voyager.”

OK, I should be asleep, but I had another weird TVLand observation I needed to write about. After the whole Good Times thing, I caught an episode of Star Trek. A lot of people don’t realize that, despite my love for the franchise, I am not that much of a fan of the Original Series; I like The Next Generation onward. Lately, however, TVLand has been showing the classics, like when the crew goes up against Space Lincoln. Well, this morning was the Khan episode, “Space Seed”.

A lot of you may know Khan as “the villain with the bitchin’ pecs from Star Trek II”. Yes, that is Khan, but he first appeared in the series. When they find Khan, he’s on a derelict freighter, with about 70 other people. They’ve been frozen since the 1990s, and the Enterprise crew tries to figure out what their story might be. To me, though, the crux of the episode is that Khan is such a charismatic motherfucker, and he macks one of Kirk’s women off the bat. This is a process that I like to call “Outblacking”. Kirk was essentially outblacked by Khan. How does this work? Well, let me tell you.

The “outblack” concept was something I came up with in college. When you have a frat party, and one Black guy, the odds are in Black guy’s favor because he has a card that he can play at any point. He can remain quiet and enjoy the dip, or he can bust out and become the life of the party, making the other (mainly White) guys insecure. He has, in effect, outblacked them. But here’s where things get hairier. Say, you have a guy like me as “the Black guy”, but in walks a thug. His street cred is stronger than my kung fu. By virtue of his “keepin’ it real”, I’ve been outblacked. He is then entitled to my women and my kick ass party reputation. From that point, I either have to leave the party, or try to act like we’re friends, so that everyone else thinks we know each other (don’t all Black people know each other anyway?), therefore leeching off his blackness chi. You can see this played out every weekend in clubs across America. It’s the most base form of Black on Black crime.

James T. Kirk is the pimp of the Alpha Quadrant. Because pop culture seems to imply that sex appeal and sheer and utter pimpness are “Black concepts” (see Bill Clinton), this makes Kirk Black. Well, here comes Khan and he seems to snatch the one chick on the Enterprise who wouldn’t give Kirk any play. Surprise, Kirk! You’ve been outblacked! And all it took was a Mexican with Jesus hair. She didn’t even get a chance to see that magnificent chest of his.

I’m thinking about contacting some BET people, and seeing if Outblacked! would make a good show. After all, they put Hell Date on the air, so I really don’t think they can find much fault with my idea…

24th Jul2007

JJ Gives Up His Ticket Out Of The Ghetto: Good Times Analysis

by Will

“Why’d she have to take her candyass back to Norway?!”

Dr. Phil said it was OK to look, but he sure as Hell didn’t tell me what I’d find…

I’m going on very little sleep right now, so bear with me. This isn’t exactly a stream-of-consciousness post, but it’s going to be sort of scattered.

Last night, I caught the oddest episode of Good Times ever. It was like the writers decided to just pretend that the Evans’ weren’t poor. Because anyone who’s ever seen Good Times knows that that is the plot of every episode: we’re poor, we don’t know how we’re gonna make it, but our family will get us through. Basically, the plot of Good Times is pretty much covered in the theme song to 227.

So, in this episode, I guess the producers wanted to try something different. It’s not that the Evans family wasn’t poor now, but it wasn’t the main focus of the show this time around. JJ was putting together a singing group with Michael as the lead singer. Thelma was their choreographer, while Willona was their songwriter. Anyway, GT used to do a lot of “Here’s Michael singing” episodes, as Ralph Carter was a Tony Award-winning musical star. This performance stood out, however, because he was incredibly tone deaf. I guess it just goes to show you that they didn’t overdub back in those days.

So, JJ takes the group to a nightclub because there’s a talent show, with a grand prize of $150. And this money will come in handy because the Evanses are poor. How the Hell they were going to happily split $150 between 8 people is beyond me, but I wasn’t exactly alive in 1976, so maybe things were different then. Well, at the nightclub, they find out they can’t perform because Michael’s only 15, and it’s an establishment that sells alcohol. The group turns on JJ and they storm out of the club. While he’s sulking, he meets Judith Cohen. This is where the episode gets weird.

Judith Cohen is this overweight, self-deprecating, redheaded Jewish chick who wants to be a star. At the same time, she doesn’t chase her dream because she doesn’t believe in herself. Well, JJ finds that he’s a manager without a group, and Judith professes that she’s a group without a manager. Wow, that is some hardcore self-deprecation. So, the decide to join forces, and JJ sees this chick as his ticket out of the ghetto. The part that struck me, though, was that he latched onto her without ever hearing her sing. I thought it was going to turn out that she was terrible, and he’d truly latched onto a loser. In any case, he took her to Thelma to learn some dance steps, and Willona was going to do her costume. JJ was determined to make sure Judith won that competition. All this, and still nobody had heard her sing a note.

Well, competition time comes, and Judith gets onstage. At first, she’s kind of hokey, poking fun at herself in some Vaudevillian act. Next thing you know, she launches into this moving rendition of Send in the Clowns, which had an emotional resonance that I’d never experienced from that show before. Well, of course Judith wins the competition. Next thing I know, there’s Dean Travers from Three’s Company, and for once, he’s not being smarmy. He wants to sign Judith to sing weekly in his restaurant, but that plan is squashed when JJ refuses to hand Judith over to this more established manager who just pops in out of nowhere. Apparently, this guy had clout, and he controlled all of the musical acts in Chicago. If JJ wouldn’t give Judith to him, he’d make sure she never worked again. So, JJ decides that it’s more important for her to showcase her talent than for him to hold onto her, so he lets her go. Yes, he gives up his ticket out of the ghetto (which, oddly, was a white girl), by giving her to The Man. Sure, that’s probably not how I was supposed to read into that episode, and it was 4:30 in the morning, but that’s the message I walked away with. It could also be interpreted that the Black man was never going to better his situation as long as he had something that the White man wanted. Once again, probably overanalyzing. Man, I need sleep…

11th Jul2007

Four Year Blogiversary – A Look Back

by Will

“‘Cause you said forever, and ever. Who knew?”

Ahh…a cute White girl, eating watermelon. Be still my Negro heart!

Anyway, four years ago today, this blog was created. Yeah, I know I celebrate a *lot* of anniversaries on this thing, but this is the real deal. Williambrucewest.com has only existed since 2004, when I bought the URL. However, the blog portion, “The World According to a Russian Exchange Student”, was created on July 11th, 2003. It used to be found at waynemanor.blogpsot.com, which somehow belongs to someone else now…

So, 4 years of rambling. The odd part is that I feel my life has come full circle. I’m almost right back where I started. There’s not a lot of progression found in these posts. Sure, there are broad character arcs, from the Natalie saga (“I’m so in love with this lesbian who doesn’t love me back”) to the H&M rants (“I can’t stand this place and I’m too good to be here.”). God, I can be such a drama queen! But have I really grown as a person? Is there any evidence of that? I don’t know about that.

In 4 yrs, I’ve documented 4 full-time jobs, 2 part-time jobs, 2 girlfriends (in “real-time”), 1 car, and 3 moves. I look back at my first week of posts, and I still feel the same way about much of that stuff. Not much personal growth there.

I’ve watched this site change from “the thing I do when I get bored at work”, to the “please read my blog because I’m funny and I really depend on attention from others” phase, and now the “hey, I’m gonna write this shit because it’s funny to me, and at least Tarek, Marcus and James (and possibly Austin) are reading it” phase.

I’ve gone back and forth between the “I’m only going to riff on pop culture, but not talk about myself too much” stage to the “I’m gonna wear my heart on my sleeve” phase (see aforementioned lesbian and the “Alouise” saga). Contrary to popular belief, I’m actually a pretty private person. I love getting in everyone else’s business, but I don’t like them in mine. That’s why I’ll write about observations, and crazy situations in which I’ve found myself, but you’re not likely to find me in a discussion regarding how I “feel”. That’s why I think I like the pop culture stuff more. Going forward, I think we’re going to gravitate more in that direction.

I don’t really know what I set out to do when I started this. I mean, blogs were somewhat cutting edge back then. They were seen as “the next big thing”, and while Blogger existed to help you along, blogs weren’t standard with each Facebook, Friendster, and Myspace profile like they are now. In fact, Facebook didn’t even exist back then, while Myspace was still just for high school drop-outs. My, how times have changed!

Anyway, I think I just created this thing as a vanity project. I thought I was funny and I wanted attention. Every now and then, I’d have a great post (in my mind, anyway), and I’d aspire to greatness. I’d think that my site would become a destination website, where people would come for the funny. I thought I could be an everyman version of Wonkette. Why do you think my URL is my name? It was pretty much a way for me to maximize the attention I got, but maximizing exposure.

Here we are, 4 yrs later. Wonkette’s pretty much a shell of its old self. I go to sites like elephantlarry.com, and think, “Now, that’s funny!” Me? I’m kind of a hack. I think that’s become more apparent in my recent humor, as I’ve devolved into BET “Man, aren’t White people crazy?!” humor, and my liberal use of “Negro” and “Nigga”. That’s the easy way out. That’s the Comicview approach, but it’s not going to cut it in most situations. Especially seeing as how only 1.5 Black people even read this site.

Don’t misunderstand me; this isn’t a pity party, but more of a bit of introspection. So, where do we go from here? Why do I even keep this site going? Well, it’s all I’ve got. I’m at a point in my life where this is the one thing that’s truly mine, and it’s the one thing I’ve got control over. It’s my canvas to do with as I please, and it’s my vehicle for expressing myself. I don’t do this for anyone but myself. There are no more “why haven’t you posted in awhile” or “when are you going to continue such and such story?” comment posts. No, I’m more about, “I feel like talking about dating shows today, and that’s how it’s gonna be.” Sure, I get the occasional “Anonymous” comment (even if you don’t have a Blogger account, you could still write your name), but it’s not really an exercise in audience participation anymore. And I think I’m fine with that. I’m cool in my little cyber shell. I think it’s the Model of Blog Identitiy Development. Jenn went through the same thing as she dealt with the transition from personal blogger to feminist blogger to Asian American Activist destination site. The cycle ebbs and flows, but if you get too wrapped up in it, you start pandering to an audience. My audience thinks like me. If I get the occasional straggler from another site, I welcome the company, but we’re not going to have a discourse. Up until now, I didn’t even respond to comments. I think I’m going to change that going forward. But I’m not here to change lives. I’m just here to live mine, and sometimes take you along for the ride. If that sounds like something you might like, take your shoes off and sit a spell, ’cause I’m sure I’ve got a story to entertain you. In any case, I think I’ll break character and *not* end this post with an ellipsis. Thanks for putting up with me all these years!

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.

Sincerely,
Will West

20th Nov2006

Where The Bratz At?!

by Will

“Welcome to the layer cake, son.”

So, it’s been awhile. Not gonna talk about the main job yet, but I will say that I’ve gone back to Toys R Us for the holidays. Not sure if I’m going to stay on, but it’s certainly as surprising to me as it is to you. The other day, I was telling someone that I feel like an old, grizzled cop when I put on that uniform. The whole sense of, “You don’t know how many times I’ve looked in the mirror and said ‘Never Again!’.” But, as with any retail job, the crappiest part is the customers.

Back at my old TRU, it was pretty ghetto, and that sucked. But this TRU is in Columbia, known for is affluence. For those of you who read “Gatsby”, it’s very “new money”. But I’ll go a step further than that. It’s essentially White trash who have somehow come into money. You know, contractors who charge too much for work, or the final season of Roseanne where they won the lottery. Butterface trophy wives of Redskins and the lot. Yeah, by switching stores, I went from hair weaves to Nascar quicker than I thought humanly possible.

Well, every Christmas, regardless of store or location, I have the same archnemesis: the Black mother. And why is she my nemesis? Well, she’s upset because she can’t find the Black version of the hottest toy of the season. Be it Amazing Amanda, Cabbage Patch, or even Holiday Barbie, she wants the Black doll. Now, what Mrs. Black Mother doesn’t seem to understand is that she is chasing the niche of a niche. Not only does she want the hot toy, but she wants a variant of the hot toy. I’m sorry, sweetie, but they don’t allocate them equally.

Now, I can see her position, but I really just don’t care. Yes, I know that’s callous. And maybe my views will change if I have daughters. Sure, these women want their children to have toys that represent them. A toy to help solidify their sense of identity. Something to instill racial pride. And this is all admirable. This is also all bullshit.

Toys only have that effect if you reinforce it. If you point out to a child that this doll is different, and make that your sole focus, then they will manifest that and you have achieved your goal of racializing “play”. But if you just give them a toy, and let them sort it out, it ain’t that deep. IF the child asks, “Mommy, why doesn’t this doll have hair like me?” then you might even have the chance to establish a dialogue as to people’s differences. But just because you get Tashiba a white Barbie, it doesn’t mean that she’s gonna go out and join the Republican party and buy a Volvo.

I always hate these mothers because they take it out on ME. Like I was the one who ordered all of the White dolls. The other day, I told a chick to write a letter if she was so mad. What I’d love to see, though, is a White parent ask for a White doll of a predominantly Black line. I’d love for some soccer mom to come in and ask, “Do you have any…White Bratz?”(editor’s note: these DO exist, but people never really ask for them)

The funny thing to me, though, is the way that these encounters always play out. First of all, I will watch these mothers walk past several White employees just to get to me. And even after they’ve gone out of their way to find “a black guy”, a “brotha” a safe harbor of sorts, they still can’t be forthcoming with me. So, that’s when I have some fun.

They’ll approach me and ask, “Where are the Barbie’s?” And of course, this is while we’re IN the freakin’ Barbie aisle!

“Umm..they’re all around you, ma’am.”

And that’s when she’ll reply, “No, the other Barbies. You ain’t got no other dolls?”

Loving where this is going, I’ll ask, “Well, what kind of other dolls are you talking about?”

And this is the kicker, and they ALL do this, she’ll ask, “You ain’t got no ***** dolls?” Now, let me explain here. This is when she says “Black”, but she doesn’t actually say it. She mouths it. It’s kinda like those Cingular commercials about the dropped calls. As if to say that we can’t let The Man hear about our plaything plotting.

And at this point, I have a myriad of responses, ranging from the polite: “No, ma’am. Those are always the first to go.” to the obnoxious: “No ma’am, it seems that the toy companies just don’t really like Black people.” Yes, I HAVE said that. And I lived to tell about it.

At this point, regardless of what I say or how I say it, she erupts with, “I don’t want no White doll! Why they think I want a white doll?” And if I’m lucky, this tirade ends with a “Where the Bratz at?”

Now, don’t get me started on Bratz. Sure, these women are upset that there aren’t enough Black Barbie’s, but I feel it is a FAR worse crime to fill that hole with a Bratz doll. Sure, that shit is popular, but it’s the minstrel show of toys. If you’re afraid of toys giving your child a poor self image, then you sure as Hell shouldn’t be bying them Bratz. I mean, the name alone. It’s like they’re trying to reclaim the term or something. A “brat” is a BAD thing. Not something endearing. And there’s a reason there are no Black people in anime. You know why? Because they’d look like fucking Bratz! God, those dolls are HIDEOUS! And ignorant.

The other night, I saw a talking Bratz doll on the shelf, and just to test a theory, I pressed the button. Do you know what that plastic bitch said to me?

“Like, have you ever had a bad hair day?”

Huh? I HATE those trifling things, but they’re just as popular as ever. But the only people who buy them are ghetto Black people and ashamed White people. It’s true. I actually enjoy watching the disparity. As I said before, A Black family will come in, all, “Where the Bratz at?” And Woo! You get them to that aisle, and they can’t spend that welfare check quickly enough. But the White families approach me just like the Black mom looking for Barbie. I’ll get a White women who kinda looks down, or can’t really make eye contact. She’ll sheepishly ask to be pointed in the direction of the Bratz stuff. Yesterday, I had a dad who just looked exhausted. He said that their daughter was crazy about the stuff and she made them redo her bedroom in Bratz decor. First off, only a White guy would say “Our daughter made us do so-and-so.” And he looked so forlon and ashamed. All I could muster was a “I’m so sorry for you. Hopefully, she’ll grow out of that phase soon.”

So, in closing, if you want a Black doll, do the talking with your wallet. Don’t buy White Barbie, but don’t buy Bratz either. Hold out until something comes along to your liking, but don’t just jump on the first ethnic thing to come along. Buying your kid a Bratz doll is far more degrading than having to watch her as she combs Barbie’s long, blonde hair. And if you’re THAT mad about it, write a letter. Hell, start your own toy company. Maybe Michael Richards will even donate some of his Seinfeld money to help you get started (Man, that reference is gonna be SO dated when I re-read this in a year!). But don’t shoot the messenger because I actually know where the Black doll bodies are buried.

I don’t even know what that means, but I felt the need to go out on a strong note. And I think this exposition just killed any attempt at that. Seacrest, out!

22nd Sep2006

My Tribute To UPN & The WB

by Will

“The Warrant!”

So, I have to say, watching the final clip of The WB gets me all choked up. C’mon, Michigan J. takes a bow for the last time! I mean, it’s easy to talk trash about that network, but it truly DID define a generation. It may not have been YOUR generation, nor particularly one that you liked, but it’s branding power was unsurpassed. I mean, this is shown by the fact that it officially went off the air. It had a mission to say farewell to its “creations”, for lack of a better word. What did UPN do? Nothing. They shipped “Smackdown” over to the CW affiliates, and quietly shut their doors. Why? Because UPN never formed an identity. There was a time when it wanted to be “The Star Trek Network”, but it found itself, instead, being the “Crappy Trek Spin-Off Network”. I mean, anytime a network has to cancel Star Trek, in THIS day and age, a franchise that can survive in SYNDICATION, there is a problem.

Sure, The WB bounced around to find its place. There were the early days when it was The Wayans Bros Network, and every show was black except for 7th Heaven. Man, I would LOVE to have been a fly on the wall at those initial launch parties. I’ll bet it was like when a White family accidentally wanders into the ghetto. You’ve got a young Beverly Mitchell & a surpringly-simian Jessica Biel being sized up by John Witherspoon and that guy who played Nick Freno.

After awhile, though, UPN said, “Wait, we want some Black people, too!”. And our buddies at The Frog said, “Good riddance, you can have ’em!”. And that’s how we ended up in the situation where UPN’s biggest shows were Girlfriends and Smackdown, while The WB was a STARMAKER. No, don’t laugh. That network simply MADE stars. You might not’ve thought much of them when you first saw them. I remember thinking, “Man, those Wayans’ll never be as famous as Keenan Ivory.” Or “Man, I really wish Jamie Foxx would get as famous as he deserves to be.” Or even “I really think, with some work, that girl who plays ‘Mary Camden’ could be kinda hot.” And it was like the WB read my heart, heard my wishes, and made them a reality. Need further proof? Watch that final clip (it’s all over youtube), and you’ll notice a familiar celebrity right before Michigan bows: Jamie Foxx. Say what you will (especially you, ‘Diz), but this network helped that man get an Oscar. It kept him working and making the connections that got him in Any Given Sunday, which led to Ali, which led to Ray. Sure, he was on “In Living Color”, but he didn’t get movies back then. That changed with The WB.

Sure, it was the Abercrombie & Fitch of networks, but that was its thing! You want an Aaron Sorkin show to succeed, you take it to NBC. You got a show that’s loose on plot, but full of pretty kids, you take it to The WB. For instance, I LOVE One Tree Hill. I mean, I actually bought the season sets. But that show has no real plot whatsoever. I feel like I’m watching “Swans Crossing” all over again. What would’ve made an above-average afterschool special about the effects of teen pregnancy and the pressures of high school baseketball on affluent white kids, is now entering it’s fourth season! That’s syndication level right there, and that’s where the real money comes in. It’s The WB, baby. It could do no wrong.

Sure, there were a lot of misses. A LOT of misses. But you know what’s weird? The WB ONLY knew how to make stars. It didn’t know how to resurrect has-beens, nor did it know what to do with people who had achieved some level of stardom. Remember “Kirk”? I do. There was no way, especially since he started evangelizing, they were gonna revive Kirk Cameron’s career. Robert Townshend’s “The Parent’hood”? That pale attempt at The Cosby Show trudged along for a couple of seasons, but Townshend, surprisingly, had too big of a name. If a show had any cast member that you’d EVER heard of prior to the show, The WB had problems promoting it.

BUT, you get a show, cast a busty chick named Nikki Cox, whose previously acting was “the blind girl” on a couple episodes of California Dreams, you had a hit. Who cared if it was “Married…with Children: the Remix”. That show lasted 11 years, so surely this would last half of that. And it did. Make a show about some REALLY old looking 15 yr old in Cape Cod, who wants to direct films. Hire a bunch of cute kids who talk about big things. You have a hit. Hell, completley rip off the X-Files and cast a bunch of Abercrombie models. You have a hit.

The WB also learned the value of “keeping it in the family”. The Disney Channel does the same thing. Say you have a guest star, who’s really charamatic and the audience seems to love him. Well, cast him in his own show. We already know the people love him. Who cares what the shows’s about. We need a pilot shot, and we need it yesterday!

Plus, I’ve got a secret for you: I always wanted to be a cast member of a WB show. Why The WB? Because of the friggin’ backlot! It was always a party. In every promo, Keri Russell might be leaving the “Felicity” set and grab coffee with Allyson Hannigan from “Buffy”. It seemed like such a communal atmosphere. They let us into their world, but it also gave off the impression that they were people too, who were young, cool, and loved interracting with each other. I mean, who WOULDN’T love the idea of hitting on Soleil Moon Frye after she came off a long shoot on “Sabrina”? When those kids weren’t working, it seemed like there was always a party, and a singing cartoon frog to boot! Oh, man, I’m about to say “Dubba, dubba, dubba, dubba, dubba, dubba, double-yoo-bee, YEAH!”

For these reasons, and many others, I will miss the WB. Aside from what you saw on the screen, there was a lot of magic in the process that so many people take for granted. Whether or not you liked what it did, you still have to admit that it did “it”, whatever that might be, well. Now, looking at its metamorphosis, “The CW”, I don’t feel that much is going to change. In all honesty, it’s still The WB, just with Black Sunday. Kinda like in the old days. So, I hope that it continues to be a starmaker and I hope that we are simply closing a chapter on a story rather than the entire book. Until next time, take care of yourselves, and each other.

29th Aug2006

Joyce DeWitt Hair, The DCU, Craigslit?, and Jenna Von Oy’s Ass

by Will

“If he dies, he dies.”

So, I have neither the energy nor the internet connection to sit through typing the adventure I teased a few weeks ago. Don’t worry; it’s coming. But for now, I thought I’d go for a stream-of-consciousness post. Jenn calls hers “Cerebrogenesis” or something like that. I give you:

BRAINFARTS

-Why is it that, when people adopt little girls from China, they always get them that “Joyce DeWitt” haircut? I mean, do they come like that? Are there care instructions of which I am unaware?

-Why is the movie called “Idlewild”? Why didn’t they just call it what it really is: “Negron Rouge”?

-Man, was I wrong about “Snakes on a Plane” being the next best thing since Tivo.

-Man, was I wrong about Tivo.

-I’m about to stop watching TV. First, they cancel Blind Date & Elimidate, the shows that taught me to never count out the healing power of a hot tub. Then, they cancel Stargate SG-1, the show which cured me of my Trekitis. And now, they get rid of Horatio Sanz, Chris Parnell, and Maya Rudolph on SNL?!! The SG-1 announcement gets to me the most. This is a show that, for the past 4 years, has always written itself as if it were its last season. The last 4 season finales were meant as “show enders”. Sci-Fi KNEW that! And the one time the show sets itself up to actually extend into another season, Sci-Fi pulls the rug out from under them =(

-Philly is a REALLY dirty city.

-“Celebrity Duets” ain’t half bad, and I have an unhealthy affinity for Little Richard now.

-“MyNetwork TV” is the worst idea I’ve ever heard of. A network that shows nothing but translated Spanish soaps. Starring Morgan Fairchild. Fox isn’t even trying anymore…

-52’s good, but it ain’t THAT good.

-The DCU is like a cafeteria-style meal. You take one of the Big Three (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman) as your entree, and then you can add on sides dishes, like the “funny Justice League”, or the GL Corps, or the Legion. But you MUST have one of the Big Three. Beware: Wonder Woman’s the equivalent of the fish entree that they give to senior citizens. And it’s got bones.

-So, am I supposed to like Ray Nagin, or not? ‘Cause I could really go either way.

-Why is there no “craigslit.org”? The adult entertainment industry is missing out on a virtual goldmine!

-I guess there are enough fucked up people on craigslist.

-The “Alcoholic Sweats” would be a great name for a band.

-I wanna be a wedding singer.

-So, Jennine’s married now. Huh. Well, uh…if you’re still reading this thing, “Congrats!”

-Next person who announces an engagement gets a kidney punch.

-Destination wedding, my ass! I need witnesses!

-Professor Oglivee marries Mo’nique in “The Parkers” series finale?

-Man, Jenna Von Oy had a phat ass!

-Of course, I’d watch the black show for the white girl…

-Shit, I’ve gotta wake up in 4 hrs!