27th Mar2013

Judging Bottles By Their Labels

by Will

I’m not much of a drinker. I’m not sure if this comes as a surprise to anyone, but I’m just not much of an alcohol dude. I tend to hate the taste, I’m a lightweight, and I’ve had some pretty bad experiences. Still, there are times in life that call for alcohol, like a wedding. When we were looking for beer and wine for the wedding, I actually had to taste the stuff, which wasn’t as fun to me as it might be for you. No, my favorite part of the whole experience was discovering new brands via cool labels. Since I’m a big fan of judging books by their covers (why else do they have them?), I thought I’d share some of the spirits labels that I thought were pretty cool.

2013-02-09 18.19.27

 In a former life, this was the last thing I saw before ODing at one of Andy Warhol’s parties.

2012-09-09 15.24.42

Simple and to the point.

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Put it on a wine bottle and it’s “cute and quirky”. Michael Vick does it, and still can’t live that shit down !

2012-09-09 15.30.48

This was the name of my Color Me Badd tribute band

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Based on the name, combined with the thickiosity of that chick, this was marketed to the brothas. She so fine, you wouldn’t even hide it in a paper bag. You’d just drink it right there on the corner, not caring.

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I love how majestic and wise he looks – like something you’d see on a Vision Quest.

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Somewhere out there, I hope there’s a porn star nicknamed “The Albino Python”.

2012-09-09 15.49.07

I wonder if Atlantis has laws against drinking & swimming…

2012-09-09 15.49.15

I knew a guy who did the “Chocolate Sombrero” on a chick. That poor girl never walked again.

2012-09-09 15.49.30Is this cow farting lightning?! And they managed to harness it in CANS?! SCIENCE!

2012-09-09 15.49.47

Why do we still doubt the Yeti’s existence? You can’t incorporate if you don’t exist. Duh!

2012-09-09 15.52.21

This what it looks like when your roommate gets super powers. Don’t fake – everyone‘s roommate looks like that dude.

2012-09-09 15.52.29

If it turns out Heaven is segregated, this is what Black Heaven probably looks like. I know one person who’ll love this. #appreciation

2013-02-09 18.15.10

Of course Moses was drunk. “Hey, watch this. I SAID WATCH THIS! I’m gonna command the sea. Watch! WATCH! YOU’RE NOT WATCHING!”

2013-02-09 18.15.35

What an unappetizing name for a beverage! It reminds me of this Lisa Landry bit:

Welp, there ya go. Oh, and you know what’s funny? I didn’t actually try any of them! Actually, no – I tried the one with the fox on it. It was NOT wise! So, for now I’ll just chill with my Redd’s Apple Ale, and wonder what might’ve been.

15th Jan2013

Thrift Justice – I Don’t Want No Scrubs

by Will


Well, as we’ve covered before, I just can’t bring home everything I see. Sometimes this bothers me. At other times, I’m relieved. You see, I’m sometimes AMAZED by the lack of quality I see on shelves. Every now and then, I like to show you a few of those items, as we wonder what might’ve been.


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Originally part of the G1 Transformers Pretenders line, this guy looks like Reginald Denny. It’s been 20 years, so I’m fairly sure I can make that joke now. Bonus points is you knew that name without resorting to Wikipedia!

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This is another one of those supermarket toys we talked about last time. I actually kinda wanted this, though. It had a nice, shiny cockpit for two 3.75″ figures, and it’s almost like a bootleg Jayce & The Wheeled Warriors thing.

2013-01-09 18.14.00

AAHHHHH!!!!!! Gott In Himmel!! They look like they were in the tub too long (or, for you comic folks, like they were drawn by Frank Quitely). Do they even have tubs in Heaven? Are these things FROM Heaven? Oh, Jesus! Who would pay $81 for these?!

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Speaking of Jesus, what’s going on here? I’m pretty familiar with the Easter story, and I don’t remember the part where the Savior is crushed by a beam because the temple wasn’t up to code. Poor Jesus. He’s like, “Don’t mind me. Just got this beam on me. Yeah, no…can’t really help you with that pitcher of water over there.” I picture it like that old Will Ferrell/Rachel Dratch skit, where He’s probably really nice at first, but as people continue to ignore the beam, he’s all “My back, you bitch! MY BACK IS KILLING ME!” Yeah, I really need to get back to church…

2013-01-10 18.16.14

OK, one more for the road. I actually kinda considered getting this one. If you must know, I was never allowed to have Biblical action figures growing up because they were idols or something. It wasn’t that deep, but I think it was something along those lines. We used to go to this Seventh Day Adventist store for dried apricots or something. No, we aren’t 7DA (is that a real abbreviation? Looks like a boyband from the UK), nor do I know why we went there for dried fruit. In any case, they always had these 3.75″ Jesus action figures, but my mom wouldn’t let me get one. She was probably right, because I really just wanted him so he could perform battlefield resurrections for my G.I. Joes. “Fear not, Flint. Today is not the day that you meet my Father!” Anyway, I wasn’t paying $15 for this! They don’t even come with spring-loaded missile launchers!

2013-01-10 18.05.50

“Grandpa! Viacom’s on the phone! They say they wanna talk to you about our album! Maybe they wanna sign us!” No, they want to SUE you. What the fuck is this?! Talk about false advertising! There isn’t a Spongebob, or a Carly Shay, or even a pair of shorts being saluted here. If anything, this is some kinda of multigenerational CD released by the most boring white people who ever lived. And I’ll bet $20 that at least one of them is named Seamus.

Welp, that about does it for this round. Maybe next time I’ll show you something I actually bought. Or maybe we’ll talk about pop music. Ya never really know what you’re gonna get around here!

11th Jan2013

West Week Ever – 1/11/13

by Will


So, I’m really into this app called Pocket (Formerly Read It Later). Yeah, you have to put in the parenthetical part, kinda like “Millionaire Playboy Bruce Wayne” or “The Artist Formerly Known As Mousecop”. Anyway, it allows you to save links for articles you’d like to read at a later date. The problem with the app, however, is that I never actually go back and read anything. I wanted to make a dent in the backlog over winter break, but I didn’t get very far. So, as I clear out the inventory, I’ll be sharing some of the most interesting stuff with you. Be warned: I’ve been using the app since July, so you’ve probably seen some of these already.



I’ve always been fascinated by Scientology. It’s shrouded in so much secrecy, which only make me more curious. Unlike most people, I really try not to bash it because it’s really no crazier than most organized religions. And I say that as a practicing Christian. EVERY dogma requires you to sign on for some crazy shit. That’s where “Faith” comes in, and all that jazz. We’re all just trying to get through life the best way we can. Anyway, if you’ve ever been curious about Scientology, this is the BEST series I’ve ever read. It’s a 6-part essay written by a woman who was raised in, and later left, the church. If you’re just thinking, “Fuck them and their alien shit”, this isn’t the post for you. Skip to the next paragraph. However, if you have a genuine interest, click through as it’s a quick and engaging read.

I’m not even a Doctor Who fan, but I did get a kick out of Inspector Spacetime on Community. Well, as some of you may know, the guy who portrayed The Inspector used Kickstarter to fund a web series. So as to avoid litigation, the show is called Untitled Web Series About A Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time, and you can start watching the 6-episode first season here.


Darius Rucker on Hootie and The Blowfish and his country career: “I think if we came out today, we would have to change the instrumentation on a few songs and rewrite a few songs,” he says.” We’d have to be a country band today. I thought we were as close to country music as you could be then. That’s why I thought when I started doing my country records that I wasn’t doing anything different.” I’ve been saying that last part the WHOLE TIME. He’s ALWAYS been country. (courtesy of Billboard). I like to think if I ever got famous, Darius and I would golf together, on courses where we shouldn’t be allowed to play.

Rachel Feinstein is my new comedic guilty pleasure, as she’s been cohosting mornings on Raw Dog Comedy. She’s a local girl, hailing from Bethesda, MD, but you may have seen her on Last Comic Standing. Anyway, she kinda reminds me of someone I used to know.

I’ve mentioned my disdain for the ending of Y: The Last Man, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the majority of the series. Compound that with the fact that I tend to HATE fan films, as their production values tend to be shit. That said, I would watch the fuck out of this movie.  Black men will recognize the lead Amazon (gang leader, not the mousy one) as Vida Guerra – the chick whose ass kept King Magazine in business.



I said it was coming, and it’s here: I was invited to join @TimDogg98 of The Kliqnation and @ClassickMateria of The Cold Slither Podcast to discuss the events in Amazing Spider-Man #700. You can listen here, plus the link will be posted in the sidebar with the rest of my podcast appearances.

This Week’s Posts:

Thrift Justice – Sign Your Name Across My Art

Forgive Us Our Trespasses AKA Malled To Death

Oh, and buy my shit!

16th Jun2011

Mr Terrific?

by Will

So, according to a comment on my last post, I’m apparently deplorable for implying that the “DCnU” diversity books are simply that – affirmative action books to fulfill some diversity quota. If this revamp actually holds weight, more power to it. The thing is, I’m not new to this game. For all the changes of staff and direction, at the end of the day, the same people running the industry were running it 20 years ago. It’s a 4-color country club. That’s not to say that they don’t occasionally have good intentions, but they’ll always be thwarted by the baby boomer fans who don’t like change (remember the “Donald Glover for Spider-Man” debacle?). Sure, those fans will die out, but is there enough of a new generation to take their place? That, in essence, is the point of the DC revamp. I get that. I just don’t know if there’s as much an audience for that as one might think.

With all of this going, I decided to look at the matter from the perspective of the “black comic reader”. That’s not a normal thing for me, as I tend to just think of myself as “comic reader”. It rarely hits home that the heroes “don’t look like me” ’cause it’s fiction. A lot of people in real life “don’t look like me” either, as I’ve had a few unique experiences. Then again, I got into comics at an age when I was no longer looking for heroes, so maybe that has colored my view. In any case, I can turn a blind eye to a few things as simply “comic reader”. I find, however, that’s it’s when things are targeted directly to “black comic reader” that I have the most problems. One particular example of this is Mr. Terrific.

As the second person to go by the name “Mister Terrific”, Michael Holt has genius-level intelligence, and he’s an Olympic-class athlete. He became a self-made millionaire through his company, Cyberwear. After his wife and unborn baby were killed in a car accident, he contemplated suicide, but was stopped by The Spectre.  The Spectre told Holt of Terry Sloane, the original Mr. Terrific, which inspired Holt to want to follow in his footsteps. Not only does Mr. Terrific eventually become chairman of legacy group, The Justice Society, but he also becomes a ranking member in the Checkmate intelligence agency. Sounds good, right? Well, not so fast.

First, I’ve always had a problem with the fact that his intelligence is ranked. According to the comics, Mr. Terrific is the 3rd smartest man in DCU. Why does his intellect need to be qualified? Some might see this as a great advancement for a black character, but I always saw it as “Well, there are 2 people smarter than him, and I’ll bet they’re white.” If this were a race, he’d be the 2nd loser. Marvel did this with Amadeus Cho, who was the 7th smartest person in Marvel Universe. In both situations, all this does is point out that “he’s good, but he’s not the BEST”. Can’t he be brilliant without a rank? It’s bad for public schools, and it’s bad for super heroes.

Second, Mr. Terrific suffers from what I’m going to ignorantly refer to as “Doing-Too-Much-Itis”. This is one of the reasons that he always came off as a pandering, “diversity” hero, as there are 2 ways to play this: 1) make him a street-smart stereotype OR 2) go WAY overboard in the opposite direction. With Mr. Terrific, #2 is flying the plane. You see, it’s not enough that Holt is a genius and a successful businessman. No, he created T-Spheres which hover around him, and do whatever the story needs them to, and he’s also invisible to electronic detection. Plus, he’s an Olympic decathlete AND he holds 14 PhDs. FOURTEEN PhDs!!! In my best Seth Meyers voice, “Really?!” They couldn’t take one thing and stick with it? Now, my commentor would probably say something like, “Well, Batman’s smart – are you trying to say that a black man can’t be just as smart?” Here’s the difference, while Batman probably could’ve earned 14 PhDs, he DIDN’T. Ya know why? He didn’t need some institution of higher learning to qualify what he’d learned. He was too busy being trained by ninjas and shit.

It’s like comic book writers haven’t figured out how to handle the black middle class. It’s not all Sweet Christmas and Uncle Toms. There is a middle ground. Two great examples of this are Steel and Static. Both started a bit rough, as they were mired in the early 90s culture in which they debuted. Over time, however, they carved out identities that weren’t so stereotypical, and were something we hadn’t really seen before in comics. Steel became a trusted ally to, and engineer for, Superman and the Justice League. Static, if handled probably, could be the Peter Parker for a new generation. The key to both is that, to me, they’re relatable. I can’t relate to a dude with 14 PhDs. Mr. Terrific should be out teaching college courses or curing diseases instead of fighting Black Adam.

Finally, another thing bandied about regarding Mr. Terrific is his atheism. He has fought alongside the Wrath of God, but still isn’t a believer. Um, OK.

Let’s forget the fact that throwing real world religion into comics was a notion bound to fail. Some could say that the existence of a deity is more plausible in a comic universe than in the real world. So, by the very structure of his fictional world, Mr. Terrific is already unnecessarily outcast. Now, let’s add to it that the church is one of the cornerstones of what one might consider “the black experience”. His stance, therefore, distances him from many of  those for whom he was most likely created. While we live in the age of the rise of the “Blatheist”, this was just another Terrific aspect to which I couldn’t relate.

Now, let’s take another stance. Let’s assume Mr. Terrific wasn’t created for the black comic reading audience. Instead of appealing to the “black comic fan”, what if he’s meant to appeal to simply the “comic fan”? Let’s take the aging fanboy of the old school persuasion; I dealt with a lot of these back when I was with Diamond. In this situation, Mr. Terrific would still be fail as a concept. You know why? He’s an uppity, rich, intelligent black man, who doesn’t believe in God. Oh, and he dates white women. But he runs real fast (don’t forget to include a stereotype that they do believe in, ya know – so they can relate).

So, for whom was Mr. Terrific created? To whom does he appeal? Are any of you Mr. Terrific fans? With the DC relaunch, he’s slated to have a higher profile. As one of those old school fans pointed out on The Beat, the series will be “written by a black”, so who knows if I’ll find myself liking him more. If there are more fans like that Beat commentor, then the future doesn’t look too terrific to me after all.

28th Mar2011

Why Starfleet?

by Will

Yes, this began as a late night Twitter rant last week, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized a full blog post would give me a reason to play with MS Paint.

As some of you may know, I’ve been a Star Trek fan for most of my life. Back in middle school, my friends and I had the Star Trek Encyclopedia, as well as any tech guide or manual that Simon & Shuster decided to put out. We were the ones watching all those Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns that used to clog up Channel 20’s schedule. As I got older, however, my pallet began to prefer more mature tastes, such as Power Rangers and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I gave up the ghost during Voyager, and I’ve only seen a handful of Enterprise. That said, you can take the boy out of Trek, but you can’t take the Trek out of the boy. My brain’s still full of a lot of useless 24th century knowledge, and every now and then I find myself trying to make sense of it. During an usual bit of insomnia last week, I found myself wondering why, exactly, a human would even want to join Starfleet.

For those not in the know, in the Star Trek Universe, Starfleet is the “Space NATO” to the United Federation of Planets’ “Space UN”. Its members are predominantly human, and it is headquartered in Fort Baker, California. While Starfleet’s primary mission is to explore and seek out new life, things can get pretty tense out in space. Between wars with Cardassians, or lethal electrical feedback, there’s no shortage of danger for a Starfleet officer. Based on current economics and world affairs, I find myself wondering what would inspire a human to join an outfit like Starfleet, as the risks seem to outweigh the rewards. Let’s take a closer look at a few things.

Money: In today’s society, a big reason that people enlist in the Armed Forces is money. Whether they want to provide for their families with their signing bonus, or get in on some of that G.I. Bill money, the financial benefits entice many into joining the service. This, however, isn’t true for the Starfleet cadet. You see, the 24th century is based on what has been called “The New World Economy”. For all practical purposes, Earth has done away with poverty and hunger, but it has also done away with currency. As a sidebar, I don’t really know what I want to do with my life. Whenever I’m looking for work, people always ask me “Well, what would you want to do if money weren’t an issue?” I HATE this question because money is ALWAYS an issue. I just can’t wrap my head around that not being the case. I know that there are people who can, and God bless ’em, but that’s just not me. So, that’s why I have a hard time understanding why you’d want to go out in space, and risk getting tubes shoved in your ass and ear holes by a bunch of space zombies if there’s no financial gain. That’s too much danger to just write off as “the cost of exploration”!

Sex: Could the lure of Space Pussy be enough to get you to join up? But could you imagine the STDs out there? Or will a hypospray just clear that right up? Also, note that I said Space Pussy and not Space Dick, because the future doesn’t seem too bright for women – utopia be damned. If you’re a young, single woman in Starfleet, you’ll end up phasing through the floor or being killed by a large sentient oil spill. And don’t even try to be a gay male! Over the 40 year franchise, we’ve seen men in miniskirts (the “skant”) & go-go boots, but we were still led to believe that they liked the minge. Have they ever shown a homosexual on Star Trek? The closest they got was that androgynous race, and Riker still couldn’t help himself from giving one of them a bunch of confusing urges. Otherwise, the only gay icons of the 24th century were Major Kira, Tasha Yar, and Harry Kim. No, they never confirmed this, but c’mon…

Technology: If you’re a tech geek, then Starfleet is probably a dream come true. You could join Starfleet Engineering and test out all of the gadgets that you used to read about on your PADD before mandatory lights-out at the mining colony where you grew up. There’s a lot of leeway for experimentation, and there’s no battle for patents and ownership ’cause there’s no money to be had. The worst part, however, is when that technology backfires on you. I’m going to go with the simplest case here. You see, during space battles, the ships are protected by shields. When those shields are struck, it results in electromagnetic feedback that sometimes shoots out of the ships consoles and control panels. Many a Starfleet officer has been killed while simply sitting at his station during the wrong battle. When you graduate from the Academy, they might tell you to watch out for The Borg, but you’ll find that you risk your life just by simply walking down the hall. Observe (the fun starts at 01:18):

Meeting New Races: It might sound exciting to meet a new race of beings, but some of them have some crazy beliefs that you have to put up with. Sure, we’ve got the Scientologists and the vegans, there’s one 24th Century-era race that will KILL YOU IF YOU STEP ON THE FLOWERS! Did I also mention that they worship a giant space chandelier? Aside from little quirky things like that, sometimes you just deal with some straight up, fucked up shit:

Supporting Your Government: OK, I get it. There’s no money to be had, you’re not that into green chicks, and you don’t really mind phasering giant space slugs. Then, what is your incentive? Oh, maybe you’re just really patriotic. After all, your government (which now commands a network of planets rather than just Earth) has created a society in which you are taken care of, and given a chance to be a tool of discovery. Why wouldn’t you want to support a governing body like that? Well, maybe it’s because the United Federation of Planets is just as shady as today’s governmental bodies.

First off, there’s Section 31, which is The Federation’s version of the CIA. Nobody talks much about them, as very few people know that they exist. Not only do they exist, but they’ve had their hands in everything from the Temporal Cold War to the outlawed genetic enhancements that were performed on humans, like Dr Bashir. You may think everything’s well and good, but your government still doesn’t trust you, even in the 24th century. Also, their tactics are questionable, as they engage in full-scale, Jack Bauer level torture. They ended a war by eradicating an entire race. For Section 31, no one is off limits, so they might come for you one day.

On top of that, there’s all the shady stuff that the Federation does to coerce non-member planets into joining. The sheer existence of a bunch of space hippies like the Maquis proves that not everything that the Federation does is liked by all. Sure, you can’t please everyone all of the time, but the Star Trek Universe is based on the assumption that you not only can, but you have. So, why are The Maquis so mad?

So, I know it’s science fiction, and I really shouldn’t overthink it, but I’m just starting to think that the Star Trek Universe posed more questions than it answered. When I was 5, I used to weep at the fact that I’d never live to see the creation of Starfleet. I mean, even if I did, it would’ve been the crappy, Kirk-era Starfleet, and I don’t get down with The Original Series. After some careful thought, however, I’ll take capitalism, with its non-exploding walls and curable-by-penicillin-STDs, any day! The future’s just not for me, but I hope my great, great, great grandson, Hyperflex Westion IV, is a better man than I am, and will find a reason to beam up.

12th Jan2011

Adventures West Coast – Haunt Vol. 1

by Will

I really shouldn’t like this series. All signs point to why this should be a bad idea. The designs are by Todd McFarlane, it really just plays like Albino Spawn, and it looks ’90s as Hell. That said, I found myself really enjoying this book. In fact, I was even buying it in single-issue form; I only got the trade because someone gave it to me. Let’s take a closer look at what this series is all about.

Haunt‘s origins stem from a publicity stunt from 2006’s San Diego Comic Con. Robert Kirkman had been evangelizing to creators about the benefits of only working on creator-owned projects. During a panel, Kirkman called out Todd McFarlane, and challenged him to return to comics. Todd had spent the last few years fending off lawsuits, making toys, and playing with his expensive balls. Nobody expected Kirkman to be the one to bring Todd back to the comic world, but Todd later accepted the challenge. Kirkman eventually became an Image partner, but nothing was mentioned about their collaboration for quite some time. Then, Haunt was announced.

Haunt is the story of Father Daniel Kilgore, a Catholic priest who seems to have lost all faith in the church. He’s got a regular weekly date with a hooker. His estranged brother, Kurt, actually stole his girlfriend and married her – the event which initially drove Daniel to the priesthood. That same brother still comes around for weekly confession. You see, he’s a black ops agent who feels the need to atone for the actions he’s forced to take in the field. As the story opens, Kurt is telling Daniel about a recent mission, where a doctor had been conducting genetic experiments on human subjects. While Kurt’s mission was to rescue the doctor, he was so appalled by what he found that he killed the doctor and rescued the test subjects instead. Apparently, the doctor kept a notebook of his experiment, but Kurt didn’t know about it. Unfortunately for Kurt, he’s immediately kidnapped and tortured to reveal the whereabouts of the notes. When it becomes clear that Kurt either doesn’t know anything or won’t cooperate, he’s killed. That’s when shit gets real!

Not only does Daniel start seeing Ghost Kurt, but when they “touch”, Daniel is overcome by a type of symbiote which forms a suit around him. This, in effect, makes him White Power Spawn. With Kurt’s murderers targeting his friends and family, the suit becomes quite the defensive weapon, cutting them down in gruesome fashion. Eventually, Daniel is taken in by Kurt’s former organization, and becomes Agent Haunt. If you’ve ever seen an episode of 24, then you know that every covert organization has a mole, so that gets dealt with. Also, Haunt kills more thugs with his symbiotic tendrils. I won’t spoil all the twists and turns, but the end of the arc finds Daniel quitting the church, and actually looking forward to a life using his new-found powers.

As I said in the beginning, I shouldn’t like this book. Sure, I like Kirkman’s work, but I don’t like all of his stuff. This book, from the look to the subject matter, could’ve come out in 1994. To be perfectly honest, that’s probably why I bought into it to begin with. As we’ve covered in the past, my mom was a bit of an evangelical, and most of my X-Men comics were seen as “demonic”, so there was no way in Hell that I was gonna be able to bring Spawn into the house! So, considering that this, at least from a visual perspective, just seemed like a retread of that idea, I guess I saw it as my second chance.

While Haunt Vol. 1 only collects the first 6 issues, I can tell you that I’ve already read the next story arc in the series. While I enjoy the character of Daniel, I don’t feel like there’s a ton to do with him. I think the problem with a lot of comics is that they don’t know when to quit. Vertigo has a good model where they know that most series are going to top out around 60 issues. This concept could’ve been wrapped in 12. Issue #12 does provide a nice bit of closure to things, though there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. I feel that the book and characters have pretty much already achieved what they set out to do. Sure, there are always “bold new directions”, but that’s not the best move for every title. I think Haunt is a nice little trip down Image Memory Lane, but it’s only a nice place to *visit*. It’s so derivative of other things that it’s only a matter of time before storylines and characters start to look familiar. Considering that the series was the product of a challenge, I guess it’s only fitting that I challenge them to prove me wrong.

27th Feb2010

iGod On Shuffle – Further Musings On The Pop Sensibilities of Contemporary Christian Music

by Will

One week – that’s all it took for me to learn all the words to the top songs on Christian radio. Since I wrote that post last week, my car radio dial hasn’t moved from the Christian station. I mean, I thought about changing it, but its pull was just too strong. It’s all SO catchy! There was one song, in particular, that kept me around.

If you remember, last week I prophesied the day that Ryan Tedder discovers Christian music. Well, the song has been written. While Tedder was actually nowhere near the song, it’s clear that somebody deciphered his songwriting code. If you heard it, you’d ask, “Hey, isn’t this OneRepublic song?” The latest single from tobyMac, I give you “City On Our Knees”:

Again, it’s a good example of a song where you wouldn’t catch the meaning from a casual listen. I’ve gotta say, though, I LOVE this song! In fact, it sounds a lot like “Say (All I Need)” from OneRepublic’s debut, Dreaming Out Loud.

Anyway, it’s a song like this that makes me want to try my hand at recording again. I’ve mentioned the a cappella, but even before that, I had dreams of making it in pop. More precisely, I wanted to be the first black guy in a boyband (pop historians will note that we weren’t introduced to the black boyband member until 5ive, and later O-Town, and they were both halfies). To me, the most important part of the plan was figuring out how to gain access to the industry.

Growing up, my church always tried to get me to join their choir. That said, my church was a bit of a white, right-wing nuthouse, so I wasn’t really game. I wasn’t really looking for a gospel experience, but I just didn’t feel like this was the singing experience for me. I always had one singing church friend, though: Angie.

Angie was a sweet girl with a great voice. She’d sing solos, and since she knew I sang, she’d always say that we needed to sing together. 20 something years later, and that duet has yet to take place. In any case, we used to talk about “pulling an Amy Grant”, where we’d become Christian artists, win a couple of Dove Awards (Christian Grammys) to build a reputation, and then crossover to mainstream pop. After all, it seemed like anybody could win a Dove Award! Like I said, though – the duet never happened, so the dream never happened. I dunno, but I don’t think the Jerry Falwell crowd would have gravitated toward an interracial Christian duo. I guess we’ll never know.

Anyway, before I go, I wanted to leave you with one more song. I know people have been up in arms about the new version of “We Are The World”; if you can believe it, I still haven’t heard it yet. In any case, the Christian music community also put together a really good benefit song, entitled “Come Together Now”. It’s no original “We Are The World”, but it might just be good enough to take the bad taste out of your mouth left by the new version.

*Credit Roll*

Where Are They Now?

Will went on to college, where he sang in glee club and a cappella. While, he was Big Man On Campus for a bit, he’s now bitter and unemployed.

Angie went on to marry a con artist. No, really. In the tradition of the church, the reception contained no dancing. Yup, she got married in Footloose. Her con artist husband is currently on the lam.

Neither of them won that Dove award.

18th Feb2010

Jesus On Repeat: Musings On The Pop Sensibilities of Contemporary Christian Music

by Will

I know this is probably gonna get me some flack, this being a “cool kids site” and all, but I’ve got to ask: Have you let Jesus into your heart? Better yet, have you let Jesus into your iPod?

Allow me to explain. As I’ve said in past posts, I am a lover of melodies. Lyrics don’t mean much to me, but melodies really drive it home (considering this site focuses mainly on club music and Lady Gaga lyrics, I get the impression that I’m not the only one shunning the “importance” of words). It was long ago that I realized the best melodies come from the world of contemporary Christian music. I already think that Ryan Tedder knows his way around a good melody, regardless of what people think of his songwriting or OneRepublic. That said, if Ryan Tedder worked in the world of Christian pop, Earth would explode. We just wouldn’t be ready. All those Left Behind books? They are about the day Tedder works with Amy Grant and tobyMac. Since Lent is the season of sacrifice, let me tell you about the time I gave up secular music and discovered the melodic world of “family friendly, family first” music.

Back in my halcyon days at Cornell, I was entrenched in the world of a cappella. Since it was a rather small community, it tended to be the source of most friendships and romantic couplings. Around my sophomore year, a nice girl in one of the female groups caught my eye. She was cute, and sweet, and the kind of girl that might bake you pies if you lived in some backwoods, bumblefuck town near a “crick”. For the sake of protecting identities (and the fact that she just got married, so I don’t want her husband coming to kick my ass), let’s call her “Wendy”.

Anyway, Wendy was a nice girl, but she wasn’t into all the cool, fun things college kids like to do. Sure, she might drink some beer after the arch sing, or swear and quickly cover her mouth, but Wendy liked to spend her free time in other pursuits. In fact, outside of singing, her main social outlet was Campus Crusade for Christ. Now, I grew up in a pretty fire & brimstone church. I’d heard it all, but I never really went to any of the group stuff. I’d gone to an event in the past, where one of the kids told a story about his brother in the Army. Apparently, Army Bro had found out one of the guys in his barracks was gay, and everyone proceeded to beat up the guy with soap-filled pillow cases. As the van cheered in approval, I realized these weren’t my kinda folks! Having come from this background, the last thing I wanted was a “Christian community”. As far as I was concerned, JC and I had a good thing going on our own. Needless to say, Wendy wasn’t having it.

She tried and tried to get me to go to CCC, and I think I went once. That was enough. Afterward, I tried to convince her that I could deal with The World and all its evil on my own. For some reason, I decided that music would be the first target. Now, I’m not quite sure how I thought I could just get rid of secular music, as I was in a group that did nothing but U2 and Erasure songs. That said, I thought of singing as a “job”, while I was burning CD-R’s (remember those?) left and right, filled with dc Talk and Mark Schultz.

The transition was a bit hard at first. After all, this was the height of the boyband craze, and I’m only human. I mean, shit – “Bye Bye Bye” had just come out! “BYE BYE BYE”! The song where even the hardest motherfucker was like, “A’ight, that chorus is kinda catchy.” Despite all this, I still managed to find some nice, spiritual music. When I do something, I tend to get a bit fanatical, so I was even drawing little crosses and stuff on the discs with Sharpies.

Needless to say, the whole Wendy thing didn’t last too long. Turns out she’d never even been kissed, and I suddenly felt dirty. I didn’t want to be some 18 year old’s first kiss. I just didn’t. Plus, as much as I was digging Amy Grant’s non-“Baby Baby” work, I still had a need for some “Oops, I Did It Again”. That said, the one thing that I took away from the experience was a new found appreciation for Christian music. Not being a lyrics guy certainly helped matters, but I’ve got to be honest: a lot of the music isn’t as preachy as you might think. Hell, City High’s “What Would You Do?” hits you over the head with more of a hammer than some of the stuff you might hear on Christian radio. When I was in elementary school, a guy named Paul Hill came to my school and taught us songs like “Awesome God”. That was almost 20 years ago, but I’ve never forgotten it. In fact, when I first heard T.I.’s “What You Know”, I thought to myself, “Hey, this background sounds kinda familiar!” (It wasn’t an official sample, however). I learned that a great melody makes for an excellent vehicle for a message. It’s simple propaganda, but you can tap your foot to it. Now that we’ve come to the end, and to keep my girlfriend from kirking out that I just wrote about another girl, I thought I’d leave you with a sampling of the music that just kinda sneaks Jesus up on ya:

Mark Schultz – “He’s My Son”: It’s essentially about a man, praying to God to save his sick son. Outside of one “God” reference, this could be sung by Leona Lewis in some Hollywood tearjerker, and you’d never know it’s true intention.

tobyMac – “Lose My Soul”: Former member of Christian hitmakers dc Talk, tobyMac brings us a song about struggling not to lose yourself in this crazy world. It’s even got a cameo by Kirk Franklin – he was addicted to porn, so he’s just like us! With a couple of Clear Channel edits, this song could fit into any commercial free spin in place of BEP’s “Where Is The Love?”

Francesca Battistelli – “I’m Letting Go”: Do ya like Sara Bareilles? If so, you’ll love this! Plainly put, it’s about a woman who hs decided to “let go, and let God”, yet she doesn’t say it in so many words. Again, it’s the kind of song you’d hear on Hot 99.5 after some Jason Mraz song, and you’d never even know what it was really about until you gave it a bit more thought.

So, I hope I’ve been successful in showing you that there can be enjoyable songs in the places you’d least expect. Not a sermon, just a thought. I really hope Lon Solomon doesn’t try to sue me for that…

09th Jul2008

Real World Analysis & My Amazing Treadmill Deal

by Will

“I don’t do it it for my health, man I do it for the belt.”

-OK, something I need to get off my chest: voting is NOT “cool”. I’m so sick of Rock the Vote, Choose or Lose, or any of the promotions that feel they need to pander to the lowest common denominator just to get people to register to vote. Yes, voting is important, but it is not cool. There’s a big difference there. A prostate exam is important, but it ain’t cool. People need to learn that there are things in life that should be done, regardless of how it might look to their friends. If you need Usher to remind you to vote, then maybe your ass doesn’t deserve the right.

-You know, I wanted to hate Tila Tequila last week, but I actually felt sorry when that chick rejected the key to her heart. I mean, nobody likes being dumped. Then, I watched One Shot Too Many last night, and I found myself hating her all over again. I remember her wanting to be an actress, but she really needs to learn to fake some tears better than she was doing – she could use some lessons from Real World Will.

-Speaking of Will, why did he have to become the House A-hole? I mean, I did think he went off on Greg for some nefarious reasons, but Greg was a douche and deserved to have something happen to him. That said, Will came with some pretty vicious stuff, especially when he started talking about Greg’s dead dad. I figured, well, when Greg gets kicked out, Will won’t be a dick anymore. Man, was I wrong! And what’s up with the Janelle hook-up? She just happened to be in the area? In the same bar that the house mates just happened to stumble into?Sure, what a coincidence… 😛

-You know, the producers could be on to something there: have an older group of house mates (those busy on the nightclub promotion circuit) “drop in” on the current cast, and serve in a mentor capacity. After all, they’ve been there and done that, so they could help steer the new cast out of trouble. Well, that’s how it would look on paper. In reality, it would just open the door for some intercast, possibly inter-generational (especially if Cyrus pops up) hook-ups, and more potential drama. It’ll be amazing television! It’s like when Power Rangers started doing the annual team-ups, where the old team, with their experience and cockiness, would come to the aid of the green, inexperienced new team. Zords would meet, flirtation would occur, and you’d get a kickass 10-ranger morph sequence. This would be just like that, only with more hot tubs, alcohol, and blurred nudity.

-It was pretty weird seeing Summer Rayne on Real World. I’m sure I’ve mentioned her before, but Summer Rayne Oakes is an eco-friendly fashion model. And I went to college with her. It’s weird to see her model stuff, ’cause that’s not how she carried herself in school. She was more Ms. Outdoors, always coming from a hike or a bike ride. Then, we graduate, and she’s this pretty famous eco-conscious model, with her own foundation that spreads eco-awareness in between lingerie shoots. Interesting combo, but she seems to pull it off. Anyway, RW added these bumpers this season, where the house mates give us tips on how to be more eco-friendly. If you saw the cute brunette teaching them how to use their stove, that was Summer Rayne.

-While RW‘s ratings have been higher than in recent seasons, I’m not sure I like the 1-hour format. It unnecessarily burns through the season in half the time. Tonight was the season finale, and I still don’t feel like I got to know this cast. Sure, it’s a shallow show, but I don’t feel there were any real character arcs here. Very little development occurred, and when it happened, it was usually for the worst. Brianna didn’t decide to turn her back on stripping. Instead, she realized she was lazy and didn’t like to work. Joey found sobriety, but also an ugly girlfriend, who he wouldn’t have given the time of day back during his coke binges. I still don’t know a damn thing about Dave or Kim, except Dave can be cool at times, while Kim has a lot to learn about black people. I wanted to like Sarah. Hell, I wanted to love Sarah, but something about her just kept her out of reach. She was too reminiscent of Rachel Campos, from the San Francisco season: the “I want to cool with you, but my conservative views keep me from condoning your lifestyle” kind of vibe. We didn’t know Nick or Brittini long enough to form opinions. And well, we already know how I feel about Will.

-How did Li’l Wayne sell 1 million albums in one week, when everybody had already illegally downloaded the album?! I don’t even listen to that stuff, and I downloaded it! It’s common knowledge that the record label buys, maybe, 100,000 copies of a “star’s” album’s release so that they can affect that Billboard numbers. That’s how you know when a label isn’t supporting its artist. Ashley Simpson’s Bittersweet World sold 47,000 copies the week it was released, making it pretty clear that Geffen doesn’t give a shit about Ashley Simpson as an artist on their roster. That said, I find it hard to believe that Universal bought the bulk of the total copies of Tha Carter III sold, but I find it harder to believe that they were purchased by the general public. It boggles the mind.

-I can’t believe Finola actually kicked a chick off How Do I Look! It was definitely one for the record books. If you get a chance to watch the episode with the punk chick, named Plum, I highly suggest you take a seat for some great, angsty television!

-Can someone please explain Vampire Weekend to me? I just don’t get it. They’ve been the darling of music blog scene for the past 6 months, and I’m starting to feel like I did when I missed that Harry Potter bandwagon. “Oxford Comma” kinda has something to it, but I just don’t get them as an act. I know the preppy thing is their gimmick, but it just looks like The Hangovers started playing instruments. I love those guys, but I don’t exactly see that as something that would take the musical world by storm. Someone, please tell me what I’m missing here.

-Hey, Sara Bareilles! Glad to see MTV decided to promote you this week. Too bad your album came out over a year ago. So, do you have a movie coming out or something? No? Well…um…wow, this is awkward…Well, enjoy yourself, ’cause they’ll probably move on to Katy Perry next Monday, and give all their commercial break bumpers to her.

-Every few years, I find that I get on this contemporary Christian music kick. What can I say? They stole all the best melodies. What am I saying? God stole all the best melodies. That said, I currently recommend tobyMac’s “Lose My Soul”, which features a cameo by Kirk Franklin. I don’t think you’re allowed to release a Christian album without Kirk having his hand in it somehow. The man’s got a mafia hold on that industry!

– I leave you with a tale that I call: Encyclopedia Will & the Case of the Clearance Treadmill. You see, I’ve always wanted a treadmill. I had a stepper, but I think I was over the weight limit, as it was made for women, and I proceeded to tear the steel housing of the base. Yeah, I’d be ashamed if it didn’t look so cool. It was like Superman had ripped it apart. But I digress…So, I was in K-Mart (why, I don’t know, as I’ve vowed on many occasions to never go there again) and I ran across a treadmill on clearance. It had been $329, but was no going for $165. I always figured I’d end up with an el cheapo treadmill, as I have no use for a gym-caliber machine right now. So, I came home to make sure I had the space, and once it was confirmed, I went back up to the store to buy it. I mean, I wasn’t going to find a treadmill any cheaper. Or so I thought.

I drag the thing up to the register, and the cashier can’t scan it, as the barcode is all scratched out. She finds a number on the side, and puts that in the system. I’m not paying attention, and she says something to me about $33. I think she’s trying to sell me some buyer protection racket, so I decline. She calls over the manager, and he puts in the same number from the box, and it becomes evident that the treadmill is on super clearance, and is ringing up for $33! Other managers start to gather around, and I become the most hated person in the store, as they realize they’d missed a deal that had been right under their noses. They start asking, “Are there any more back there?” I respond, “I don’t know. You work here, you’d know that better than me“. Yeah, in hindsight, I guess I wasn’t winning many friends in this scenario. The store director just looks at me and says, “Man, you got a Hell of a deal.” Then, I had to get it into the car.

You see, I hadn’t taken any kind of measurements, but I just assumed that it would fit in the car. Well, you know what happens when we assume…So, I’m struggling with this thing, as the employees are hoping it doesn’t fit, as then I’ll have to return it and they’ll have their shot. I take the parts out of the box, and manage to get them all in the car, at the expense of breathing room. I drove home hunched over the steering wheel like a senior citizen with cataracts. Needless to say, I got it home and then went out drinking. Later, I came home and put the thing together DRUNK. That’s how big of a rockstar I am! I’m rocker than the rocks in Montana! Anyway, here we are, 3 weeks later, and I’ve got no complaints. It was certainly a steal, and it’s the best fitness investment I’ve made since Billy’s Boot Camp. Now, let’s just hope I stick with it a little longer than I stuck with Mr. Blanks…

12th Apr2007

Top Design, Style Network, MySpace, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and Soulmate iPod

by Will

“Tonight, my heart is smiling. And it is an eternal smile.”

I really just want to post enough to push all of my neurotic posts to the archives. NOT the best impression to give a person when they randomly google you. I’m sort of scattered right now, but I know I haven’t posted in ages, so let’s go the stream-of-consciousness route:

-I’ve really been into Top Design. And I never thought I’d like that show. That’s a lie; I’ve actually wanted to be an interior decorator for a few years now (truths!). Anyway, next thing I knew, I was knee-deep in some Todd Oldham. Speaking of Todd, he’s too touchy-feely. I get that he wants to be supportive and all, and I’d hate to think I’ve become used to the Cowell-Ramsay-Trump model of reality show “coaching”. Todd’s just too…gooey, and he gets under my skin. Plus, has anybody noticed the latest trend in reality shows: The “married” gay guy? I’m talking about the guy who will NOT STOP talking about his wife and daughter, to the point that even the gay judge can’t help but crack a smirk.

-I’m also really into Work Out again. Zen has got to be the cutest personal trainer ever! You guys can have your L-Word. My show has real lesbians! Man, I’ve really got to get over lesbians…

-What the Hell is Taquita & Kaui? Is that a new Kool-Aid flavor?

-I think there should be some sort of study about faith and myspace. Not religion, mind you, but the faith that people place in their interactions. Do you really make $250,000 or higher? Is that really Britney Spears’ profile? I don’t care if it’s got pictures of the baby, how do you know it’s really her? Just because her address is http://www.myspace.com/therealbritneyspears does NOT mean that’s her. Huh? No, YOU go to Hell…

-I’m beginning to wonder if I’m the only person watching Style Network. Every time I turn the thing on, they’re playing my favorite shows. Then again, when my favorite shows are How Do I Look, Clean House, Instant Beauty Pageant, and Whose Wedding, that’s not such an impossible feat. I mean, Clean House is on all the fucking time! Don’t get me wrong; I’ve developed a crush on Niecy Nash that I never thought would be possible. She’s like a Classy Ghetto. A grape soda served in a champagne flute. But I swear, it’s on when I go to sleep, and it’s on when I wake up. A network can’t be doing well with just one show on all the time…

-I am back into wrestling like it’s 2000! It’s the throwback stuff that keeps me there. Why did no one tell me Hacksaw Jim Duggan was still around? When the Hell did Tatanka come back? Shawn Michaels has been back awhile. You call up I.R.S. and Papa Shango, and you will have a new member of the RAW fan nation. Speaking of the RAW fan nation, what do I have to do to cut a promo? At first, I thought it was just for D-list celebrities, like Steve-O, but then I noticed they started letting regular joes do it, too. Marcus, make a call for me.

-I don’t like when Inferno and Duels overlap a RR or RW season with the same cast members! The things are shot separately, so for all I know, something down the road may seriously change the dynamic of the group. RW Denver isn’t even over yet, but somehow the entire cast except for Stephen and “Evanescence” made it to Inferno. That’s got to be a kick in the hot tub. How the hell do you choose 80% of a cast and just leave the other 2 hanging? Was it a contractual thing? Does Ty kill Stephen before the season is over? Does he pee on Stephen and have to go to jail…again?

-I can’t tell if Short Circuitz is trying to be In Living Color or All That.

Scrubs is the greatest show on television. I hate myself for finding it so late in the game. Also, because I would be the dork to notice this, I love how Ted’s a cappella group gets better over the course of the series. They’re pretty shitty in the beginning, but they’re pretty kick ass in more recent episodes. Of course I’d notice the a cappella.

-For 3 days, my iPod was my soul mate. She knew exactly what I felt and what I needed to hear. I feel that I am to blame for the brevity of our connection. You see, I was so impressed with her that first day that I took her to bed with me. My last memory of that night was me closing my eyes to the soothing lilt of Biebl’s “Ave Maria”. It was magical, like on Cinemax. Well, the next day, the ‘Pod and I were sympatico. If I was feeling weak, she’d play the theme to Justice League or Metal Gear Solid 2. If it were rainy and quiet, she’d play some Sade. But I was on to her. She just wanted to return to my bed. But I already knew that had been a mistake. Her place was in my glove compartment and nowhere else! As she began to realize that our relationship was not set on “repeat”, she developed a mind of her own, thus ending our rapport.

-I lost my comic collection database due to my HD getting fuxxored (did I get that right, hackers?) It’s like my view on life has changed. Ever since I started this job, I’ve changed my outlook on the free stuff. I might as well be Opie Taylor, as I roll the books up and stick ’em in my back pocket. Hell, I didn’t pay for them. But the sad thing about the database was that was 4 years of my life just…”poof”. Here’s the lesson, kids: back up your shit, and don’t waste your early twenties cataloging comics.

After these messages, we’ll be riiiiight back! *fire hydrant licks dog*