20th Apr2010

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men…

by Will

“They got all the right moves in all the right faces. So yeah, we’re going down.”

I’ve been told that I don’t blog enough on a personal level anymore. The Adventures West Coast posts are all well and good, but they don’t have the gravitas of the Lesbian Chase or Marion Barry Karaoke posts of years past (if you haven’t read my archives, they’re really quite good! I advise you to read them now, while they’re free. When I become famous, you’re only gonna get those in my book!). Anyway, something happened to me today that I felt should be shared.

I’ve long felt that some people don’t have the capacity to be bad. Sure, they wanna be cool like the next guy, and scheme and cut shady deals, but for every Zack Morris, there are about 150 Screeches. I am one such Screech. I tried to fight the giraffe, and the giraffe won. Let me wind it back, though.

For anyone who has never read this blog/known me, I love toys. I buy toys. I don’t usually play with them, but they typically reside in a glass case from Ikea (I highly recommend the DETOLF). In any case, my preferred toy line at the moment is DC Comics figures from Mattel. These either come in the form of DC Universe Classics (I tweet about these a LOT) or the Movie Masters figure line from The Dark Knight movie. This story concerns the latter.

The Movie Masters were released 2 years ago, when The Dark Knight actually hit theaters. They were hyperdetailed figures, with a good bit of articulation, and pretty decent likenesses of the characters. They weren’t all that popular after awhile, and they all went to clearance before the 3 series was released. Well, Mattel decided to make them an online-only collection, where they would release a new one on their MattyCollector.com website on a monthly basis. This idea sucked because they were charging, roughly $20 (not including shipping) per figure. The figures were nice, but not that nice. At San Diego Comic-Con last year, they announced that the figures would first be sold online, but would then make their way to Toys “R” Us stores exclusively. I figured I’d wait for the TRU release so that I wouldn’t have to pay for shipping, plus there was no way TRU was going to charge $20 for them. I watched as the Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent figures sold out online, but I was sticking to my plan. I was hoping that Mattel had put some stock aside for the TRU sales, so I wasn’t gonna order online. Then, I experienced a bit of a toy drought. A bout of ennui had inspired several toy hunts of epic proportion – all of which yielded NOTHING. At the same time, blog posts from Matty seemed to imply that the TRU deal was falling apart. So, if I wanted any of the figures I’d been waiting for, I’d probably need to just buy them online. Needing to get my toy fix, I crumbled and ordered Jail Cell Joker from the MattyCollector site. After shipping, that fucker cost $23! I didn’t care, though, as I finally had a new toy. That feeling subsided, however, when he arrived in the form of the most boring figure I’ve seen in some time. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a good likeness, but it just sits there. No special features, and the articulation isn’t as great as that of others in the line.

Fast forward to last week. A Mattel blog post reported that the web-only Dark Knight figures would be showing up in TRU stores “in the near future”. This prompted blog comments from collectors reporting that they’d already seen them in their local TRU stores. Ya see, Mattel didn’t want to publicize this because they wanted to sell them for $23 before you realized you could get them in stores for about half that price. Those online collectors were reporting that TRU’s price for the figures was roughly $12.99 each. But the plot thickens: remember how I told you the first 2 series had gone to clearance after the movie hype passed? Well, the packaging of the new figures is exactly like that of the old. So, many lazy TRU employees had just thrown them up on the clearance pegs for $4.98, not realizing that this was different product. So, if you got to a register and it rang up as $12.99, you could just point out the sign and they’d adjust the price.

Here’s my thought on this: is the tactic wrong? Yes, because you know the real price. That said, if TRU isnt dilligent enough to catch this, it’s not the consumer’s fault. By law, if there are multiples on the peg, they have to honor that price. I feel like a TRU employee in the boys dept should notice something odd about them receiving product for a line that pretty much trickled off 2 years ago. I worked that department for 10 years, so it’s not like I’m speaking out of class. The products look the same, they’re hung on clearance pegs and, most importantly, there’s NO new peg tag reflecting the new price. If a different price is not indicated where they hang, how is the consumer to know?

So, how does this all apply to me? Well, yesterday, I went into a TRU and pulled off this trick. There were no pegs indicating a new price, and the price scanner system was down. So, I honestly didn’t know the price until I got to the register (after all, $12.99 was just the average price being reported online). I told them about the shelf pegs, and they did the price adjustment. So, I got 2 new figures for a total of about $11. The saddest thing is that they weren’t even figures I really wanted. It was a weird Scarecrow variant and a Batman with glow-in-the-dark eyes. I can make all kinds of excuses, but I basically wanted a deal and I was tired of being fucked over by The Man. I mean, Matty Collector put the same “Night Vision Batman” for sale on their site at noon yesterday for, you guessed it, $23 (including shipping). So, Mattel was trying to rip me off by charging twice retail, while TRU’s negligence allowed me to buy what is, really, a dead toy line, at a great price. My problem, though, is I got cocky. I didn’t listen to The Gambler, and I counted my money before the dealing was done.

You see, today, I had lunch with my friend “Special Forces” (we call him that because he was in charge of the storeroom at TRU, and when it was holiday season, he got to wear a special black uniform so customers wouldn’t ask him questions). He had acquired a DCUC Deadman figure for me, so I took him to lunch to thank him. When we were done, he informed me that TRU had gotten a truck last night, so there was a chance they might’ve gotten the Harvey Dent figure I’d been wanting.

We get to the store, and all they have are a shitload of the older figures, on clearance for $4.98. After looking all through the aisles, we stumbled upon 3 of the new figures. I had them all, but he needed 2 of them. Now, since my episode yesterday, I now know that these things scan as $12.99. That said (and I checked), there was NO shelf tag indicating the new figures. So, as far as TRU’s shelves were concerned, it was a $4.98 figure. So, SF is all nervous, ’cause he used to work at this particular store, plus he knew he probably couldn’t use his discount card because he’d have to identify himself as an employee, which would require a manager. To make matters worse, the manager on duty was actually a guy we both used to work for at another store. When I noticed this, I said “Crap, we can’t do it because Paul’s here.” Remember that. I didn’t yell it or anything. Just said it. It’s going to be important later.

Instead of going to customer service, we go to the R-Zone, which is the electronics dept. I ask the chick in there if she can ring us up, and she begrudgingly agrees. Since SF’s nervous, and I didn’t really care about $10 (yup, I’m a balla!), I told him I’d take care of it. She scans the figures, at which point I do the whole, “The sign said these were $4.98.” Of course, she returns with “Well, I’ll have to see the sign.” I follow with a “And I’ll be glad to show it to you.” We get to the aisle, and it’s not like she can find anything to the contrary, try as she might. I know how this works. I’ve been in her role before. Still, there’s nothing she can do. She goes back to the register and then decides she has to look up something. She runs over to customer service, while I’m running my mouth to SF about how you’ve got to take back from the system sometimes. The rantings of a failed revolutionary. So, she comes back, and it all falls apart.

First off, she says that the clearance price is just for Scarecrow. I say that it’s not, and that the signs make no indication of this. Then, she says, “You knew this, which is why you said ‘We can’t do it because Paul’s here.’ Yeah, you didn’t think I heard that. You also didn’t know that I’m a supervisor.” Well, bitch got me there. No, I didn’t know she was a supervisor. I still held on to the argument that it’s not my fault that they didn’t retag properly, and that they were hanging with all the others. She goes through the whole “somebody must’ve put them in the wrong place”, which still isn’t my fault, but I was still pretty much caught because she’d heard the Paul comment. So, I played it off and followed through with the transaction. However, what was originally gonna be an $11 transaction was now (and correctly so) a $27 transaction. FUCK! Sure, I could’ve walked away, but I was already guilty, so I paid the woman. Special Forces got his figures, so he was happy. What pissed me off most, however, was how she took her damn time ringing me up once she felt vindicated. OK, I suck at bamboozling you, but just get me out of here, OK? Nah, she milked it. When it was done, I went over to Customer Service to talk to Paul. I knew I’d avoided him in the beginning, but I still felt I could argue to my advantage, especially concerning the lack of shelf tags. If nothing else, maybe he’d dispatch someone to retag the shelves at once, and I’d feel vindicated or something. Unfortunately, Paul was gone. Yup, he was there one minute, and gone the next. I thought that meant he was hanging out around the corner, but he was nowhere to be found. So, I walked away, tail between my legs, $27 poorer.

This isn’t Consumerist, so I’m not going to try to say what I did was right. I was merely trying to exploit a loophole in the system. However, I let greed and cockiness get the best of me, and my luck ran out. So, now they’re probably gonna look at me funny whenever I go in that store ’cause I’m that “guy who thought he was slick”. I hate those looks. I used to give them to the guys who’d pulled this stuff on me. But I guess that’s what this is really all about: I worked for TRU for 10 years, and there were countless times I was on the other end of this. Unfortunately, the law is that they have to honor the price, so they got away scott free. I guess I just wanted my corner of the sky. But, as you’ve read, I’m just not cut out for deceit, even concerning something as lame as action figure collecting. The way I see it, TRU just got from me today the money that they should’ve gotten yesterday. Everything balances out in the end, and I can’t beat the system when I try.

05th Oct2009

Subway Commercials Should Come With An Ingredient List

by Will

“I’m not a one night stand kind of guy. I wanna bang you a couple times.”

I hate when Subway creates a new sandwich. Why? Well, because nobody knows what’s supposed to go on it. In the commercial, it is clear that there is a set ingrediant list for the concoction, yet the first thing the counter girl asks is, “What do you want on it?”

I don’t know! YOU tell ME!

Then, I find myself saying, “I want what’s on it in the commercial.” Back when I was @ Toys “R” Us, I used to hate the “I want that thing from the commercial” request, because it assumes that part of our training involved watching countless hours of Cartoon Network. That would have been nice, but I watched Cartoon Network on my own, and I didn’t get paid for it, thank you very much!

In any case, I find it hard to believe that there’s no corporate-mandated list of the items that comprise each sandwich. Throw me a bone here, Subway! I really don’t need free will getting in the way of my fast food enjoyment. I don’t need to have a say in everything. Sometimes, I just need a Puerto Rican woman to grab me by the hair, and say, “You’re going to eat this honey mustard and horseradish, and you”re going to like it!” Or something to that effect.

31st Aug2009

End of Cyberbattical: Looking Ahead

by Will

“The penis is the navigator!”

Welcome to the season premiere of williambrucewest.com. I know it’s been awhile, but Leon’s people came after me for that last post. Here I was thinking he should be grateful for the attention, but I guess I thought wrong. I can’t really get into details, but the whole ordeal ended with me being thrown from a speeding limo.

Actually, the real reason I was gone was because I took a bit of what I like to call a “cyberbattical” (or cybattical – we’re open to either term). Between the site, facebook, Twitter, and everything else, I was just too connected. I had a ton of information being dumped on me, yet none of it really held any value. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love a streak. I wanted to see if I could go a week without all of those sites, and that eventually turned into 1.5 months. I chose a good time, however, as I missed the overload of info regarding MJ’s death, Jon & Kate, and countless other “media frenzies”. In terms of the blog, however, I guess the break can’t fully explain why I’ve been gone, as I haven’t posted since April.

In any case, I’ve stayed away because I really didn’t have an angle. Didn’t know what to write. At times, I feel I’m too mean. It’s easy to harp on celebrities and whatnot from the anonymity of a blog (or, as anonymous as one can be when the URL is his full name). As we’ve seen in recent press, those uppity mofos have lawyers and they will come after you!

Taking my focus away from celebrities, I thought I could get back into anecdotal mode, sharing some stories from the life of “The Real Will”. Sadly, I’ve got a bit of a hater streak going on right now, so that wasn’t gonna turn out well. For example, I toyed around with the idea of a “Match the hygiene difficiency to the correct girl I dated” article. Or my post about how Fox Reality Channel should launch a show called “Pregnant, Or Just Fat?”. Or my critique of facebook wedding pictures. Yeah, like I said, wasn’t gonna turn out well.

So, in this, our “pick up where we left off” post, I figure I should just give a bullet point summary of the things you didn’t hear about on CNN.com

– Back in July, I saw Tiger Woods at the AT&T National. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but I really saw the guy. I mean, I was about 20 feet from him. Could’ve pantsed him, and I seriously considered it. The thing is, Tiger’s a lot more cut than he looks on TV. I think I got disillusioned by all those Chappelle Show parodies, ’cause the dude is built. So, I just did my golf clap and sat my ass down.

– I also quit Toys “R” Us. Yes, again. It occurs to me that I never actually posted that I even went back. That was one of those “I’ll fill you in later” promises, where I never revisited the story – there are a lot of those. Anyway, I went back to TRU for part time work back in November 2006. After they closed down my Wheaton store, I found myself in Columbia because it was on the way home from Diamond. In any case, the money always sucked ’cause they usually only gave me about 7 hrs a week, but I always said that I was working there for the people. They were cool. They were into the geeky stuff that I liked. I felt that, basically, I was being paid to hang out with my friends one day a week. Lindsay, of course, hated it because it was time that we could be hanging out, plus I was losing my mind trying to get by on a one-day weekend. All of this changed when I got an erroneous review, and they didn’t want to give me my raise. My TEN CENT RAISE. So, I quit and never looked back. Well, I looked back, ’cause I still went for toys (it is a toy store), but I don’t miss the work. I guess the sad thing is that those friends broke into thirds: when I left, a third of them had quit/been fired, a third of them still keep in contact via facebook, and the other third forgot me quicker than Peter forgot about Jesus. Guess I didn’t mean as much to them as I thought.

HOLY SHIT! Breaking News: Disney’s going to buy Marvel?!!! OK, looks like I’ve finally got my inspiration back. Looks like I chose a good day to come back!

Before closing, I’d also like to highlight some positive things, seeing as how schaedenfraude’s only going to get me so far.

– James and Jenn celebrated their 10 year anniversary. 10 years since I first met them on the steps of Arts Quad, the 2nd day of orientation. Yup, those orientation hook-ups can last! Congrats, guys. Also, Jenn, PLEASE redesign my site. You know, when you’re not held up with pesky grad school stuff. Love ya!

– My bestest friend, Tarek Sultani, got engaged a few weeks ago. In a whirlwind, romantic courtship, he found the woman of his dreams and sealed the deal with a helicopter ride and a proposal. Way to set the bar high for the rest of us 😛 In any case, I know he’s happy, and I wish him and Miss Hanna the best!

OK, that’s enough rambling. I’ll be back for more later…

09th Dec2008

Where Has Will Been Lately?

by Will

“She’s got her own thing; that’s why I love her.”

Man, I haven’t written one of these things in a while. Honestly, I haven’t really missed it, but it was brought to my attention that some people think it’s weird that I actually pay money for this site (‘sup, Jamie!). So, I’d better get my money’s worth.

I realized I don’t blog because I don’t really have anything to say right now. I’m actually really happy, so no angsty bitter posts. I hardly have time for TV these days, so no pop culture posts. And my internet is pretty limited to facebook on my phone, so I’m pretty sure no one wants to me to write about how Marcus Keith Dowling is attending Taxlo.

So, bottom line, I’m pretty boring, but it’s an awesome boring. Can’t knock it. It’s just funny to me how people can change. I stumbled upon Power Rangers: Jungle Fury last night, and didn’t know what the fuck was going on. Did that show ever make sense?! No, really, I hadn’t watched Power Rangers in 2 years, so I wasn’t sure if it was the show or me. I *am* almost 27, but I hate the fact that it made absolutely no sense to me. Felt like I was getting old.

Another odd twist is that I’ve become a bit of a gamer. No, not that D&D stuff the Diamond guys had me dabbling in (did I ever write about that?), but games of the video variety. To narrow it down, pretty much any game that involves a fake guitar is OK in my book. Sorry folks, but my commitment’s to my music & my band right now. Oh, you didn’t know I had a band? Yeah, it’s called Sex Corvette. I’d explain the origin of that name, but I’m not sure you’re all cool enough to handle it. I’ve also got a side band, Fornication Wagon, but that’s just really something to keep me sharp for the SC gigs. Gotta tell ya, SC is taking the world by storm! We’ve got a jet, a sound guy, and we’re about to get into the Hall of Fame. And don’t even get me started on the guitarist – she’s hot as shit. I can definitely see a Gwen/Tony thing brewing (you know, without the whole breakup & umpteen songs chronicling the ordeal. Seriously, I’m sure there had to have been concerts where Tony wanted to stand up during Don’t Speak & just tell Gwen to shut the fuck up. But I digress…)

Ok, where was I even going with all this? Oh yeah, I was explaining why I haven’t written lately. See, when I blog from TRU, I just lose all focus.

Speaking of Toys “R” Us, I had a situation that I’ve never experienced in all my years with the company. You see, I was on a ladder, stocking shelves, when a case of Wall-E robots tumbled over into the next aisle. I had just enough time to emit a telepathic “Ohhh fuuuck!!!” before it was too late. I got to the other side to find that the ghost of Walt Disney had used his ghost powers to clobber an old black lady. They always said old Walt was a racist. All kidding aside (you think I want the Disney corporation on my ass? We’re cool, Mickey!), it scared the shit out of me. First off, I really wanted to make sure she was OK. I was reared by enough old broads to have a soft spot in my heart for them, especially when they’re the first victims of the Robot Apocalypse.I was also scared that I was gonna get sued. Everyone asks,”Did you laugh?” I always *want* to say,”Hell, no! Don’t be an asshole” but instead it comes out as “Hell, no! I was too scared thinking about being sued!” Hey, at least I’m honest!

Anyway, I should probably get back to work. Then again, maybe the store is safer with me hiding in the back blogging.
I think this was just a long, rambling way for me to explain where I’ve really been. A few months ago, I met a really amazing woman. A few months after that, I actually met her (don’t ask…). Let’s just say that the whole experience changed my life for the better. So now I have an amazing person in my life, as well as a new reader, in the form of her younger sister (who I’m looking forward to actually meeting). Anyway, you truly are a blessing, Lindsay. I thought my 5 readers should know that 😉

14th Dec2007

Dirty Pokemon, Black Snake Eyes, New Knight Rider, and Tribute To Ike Turner

by Will

“I thought you made love like an ugly woman. So present, so grateful.”

Dear TNT,
There are other shows in the world than Charmed and Law & Order. I appreciate what you’re trying to do. You’re going for a whole theme thing. But, really? There’s a whole world of syndicated shows out there, just waiting to be mined. I don’t think anyone’s airing The Fall Guy right now. Or how about that old show, The Wizard, with the midget who made toys that helped him “MacGuyver” out of bad situations? Just a thought…

So, I’ve been losing my mind lately, as Toys “R” Us is now open until midnight for the whole holiday rush. For those of you new to these parts, I work evenings and weekends at Toys “R”Us, or as I like to call it, “my student loan job”. Staying open til midnight can be trying considering that’s just the time at which we start turning away customers. Actually leaving the store is a whole different matter. This past Wednesday, we didn’t get out until 2 AM. Keep in mind that the employees are high school students, mothers, and people with other jobs. It makes no sense to me, seeing as how we have a capable night crew, staffed with baby mama’s and ex convicts. Can’t they clean the store?! But I digress…

During this season, our minds start to wander, and the subject matter of our conversations isn’t exactly suited for our environment. For example, a few weeks back, one of my coworkers remarked that he’s both vulgar and nice. I told him that his Pokemon name would be “Vulgice”. Then, his evolutions would either be Vul-Va or VulGina. Yeah…

Recently, though, we’ve been having a lot of discussions/arguments regarding the upcoming G.I. Joe movie. The guys were remarking that, regardless of how Hollywood decides to fuck it up, the movie won’t be complete without Snake Eyes. Now, this is when one of the guys decided to say that there was a time when everyone thought Snake Eyes was Black, and how disappointed he was when he turned out to be some White guy. Now, first of all, this is a common Black thing to say, as we’re always trying to claim someone in the media. Mariah Carey? She’s ours. The Rock? Yeah, he’s ours, too. O.J.? He’s ours as long as he’s acquitted. Anyway, it was weird to hear this, though, as the assertion was now coming from a White guy.

So, I had to search long and hard and think if there was ever any indication that Snake Eyes was a Black guy. As far as G.I. Joe goes, all Black members have to carry a big ass gun. And rhyme. See: Roadblock; Cross-reference: Heavy Duty. Snake Eyes didn’t rhyme and he carried swords. Not a compelling case.

Then, there’s the fact that Snake Eyes dates Scarlett. Sure, in the cartoon, she was with Duke, but in every other form of media, he’s knockin’ those redheaded boots. Now, have you ever seen a Black guy with a redhead? Have you? For real? If you have, can you find out his secret for me?

Next, there’s the fact that he’s a ninja. I’ll admit that I was surprised he was just a blond cornhusker, myself, as he was a master ninja…who’d fought in Vietnam. This is the real clincher, as I realized there could never be a black ninja. Sure, a ninja might wear Black, but he could never be Black? Why? Because ninjas have to be quiet. There, I said it. You know you were thinking it, too!

A Black ninja would be flossin’ and shit, and would never pull off the element of surprise:
“I’m a ninja, son! Look at this big-ass sword, woadie! I’m ’bout to cut you, fool! You betta check yo self ’cause I’m ’bout to ninja. yo. ass!”

But, knowing Hollywood, if they want to be hip and edgy, movie Snake Eyes will probably be Black. And played by Chris Tucker. Thanks, assholes.

Speaking of Hollywood ruining cool, black concepts, I leave you with this: The other day, I was stalking a friend on facebook, and one of his friends is a page at NBC/Universal. Her status mentioned that she was watching the new K.I.T.T. models roll of the truck. For the uninformed, NBC’s filming a new Knight Rider movie which, if successful, will lead to a new series focusing on Michael Knight’s son. Well, when I saw this message, I almost wet myself. I wanted to send her a message. After all, this woman was like an angel to me; my link to my savior: a talking, condescending car. Just looking at my site, you’ve *got* to see the Knight Rider influence. Anyway, I held off, and decided to find more info on the project myself. And here’s what shattered my childhood memories:


I swear, every night when I say my prayers, I pray that someone would bring back Team Knight Rider. Or at least release it on DVD. On the bright side, at least these producers got The Hoff to agree to come back, which is something TKR never pulled off.

This post is dedicated to the late, great Ike Turner. I believe there are two sides to every story, and poor Ike never got his fair shake. So, I hope he’s in Heaven, slapping and beating up angels…

28th Dec2006

Christmas Crazies

by Will

“Honey, why you callin’ me so late?”

I love Christmas, but I hate Christmas retail. Here’s an exchange I had at “The ‘R Us” the other day.

Old Man: Excuse, me…um…I’m looking for…umm…what is it called?

Me: *eyeing him with annoyed look on my face*

Old Man: *fumbles with phone* Let me just call…I can’t remember what that thing is called…Can you wait just one second for me?

Me: Well, actually, I REALLY need to go to the bathroom.

Old Man: Good! Me, too!

Me: Yeah, let’s not continue this there…

The sad thing is, had I not said that, I’m pretty sure he would have carried the conversation into the bathroom. He DID follow me, but i went into a stall. We had a comedic moment at the sink as we both needed to wash our hands. Exited said bathroom, and the conversation continued as if the urinary interlude had never occurred. And it was just as awkward as it sounds…

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!

04th Dec2005

When You Go To A Toy Store, Dress Like There Might Be Kids Present!

by Will

“Don’t be fooled by my little green car and my White girl hair!”

Yay for stealing wifi from the neighbors! Nothing sounds sweeter than “free”!

So, here’s a story that happened to me on “Black Friday”. I was working Toys R Us, and I notice this 30 yr-old goth looking chick. Now, first off, if you’re 30 and STILL a goth, something’s wrong with you. You should’ve grown out of that shit by then. But I digress.

She’s looking like she just walked out of Hot Topic, with her parachute-strappy black pants and her black, screen printed tee. Well, I look closely to see what’s on that shirt, and in large, red letters, it says “MASTURBATION ROCKS”. And the back says, “BDSM”.

Now, keep in mind, this is Toys R Us, the day after Thanksgiving. I mean, come on! I can only imagine how many minivan conversations took place that night, beginning with, “Mommy, what’s mastur…masturba…what’s that word, Mommy?” I know there’s freedom of speech and all that, but it seemed like a cry for attention. I felt like we were supposed to say something, so she could go all “1st amendment” on us. I was gonna say something like, “Nice shirt”, but I didn’t want to play into it.

But she really wanted attention. Kept asking me questions about shit she knew we didn’t have. But I guess I didn’t give her what she was looking for, because I walked away, leaving her frowning and empty-handed.

We all had a good laugh at her expense when she left. And we thought that would be the end of it. Until she came in again the next morning. But no, she wasn’t wearing the shirt again. This time, she wanted to show off the rack that had been under the shirt, but that’s another story…

13th Nov2005

There Hasn’t Been A New Christmas Song In About 15 Years

by Will

“Nobody wants a ‘Charlie in the Box’.”

So, I recently returned to my former part-time work at Toys “R” Us. Why? Because I need the money. But I felt like a sell-out going back, seeing as how I swore I never would. Anyways, life’s a ‘yatch sometimes. That’s not what this post is about. This post is about the fact that TRU’s radio has switched over to non-stop Christmas music and it makes me wanna blow my brains out.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas music. I was almost a Christmas baby. But I can’t deal with the music continuously. Why? Because they’re all the same song. In all honesty, there hasn’t been a Christmas song to make a dent in recent pop culture since Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. Prior to that, it was all that jazz about Grandma and the reindeer. My point is that the Christmas music industry is a big pissing contest. A sense of “Who can alter ‘O Holy Night’ the most?” And most Christmas songs are like the National Anthem: Yeah, it’s your time to shine, but the more you mess with it, the worse it’s going to sound.

It all goes back to “The Christmas Song”. I want to bring up a little reverse affirmitive action here. Everyone talks about Elvis stealing music from Blacks, but we did it, too. “The Christmas Song” is a Mel Torme song, but most people don’t realize it since you can’t scratch your balls in December without it sounding like Nat King Cole singing that blasted ditty.

It just comes down to the realization that “Christmas song” and “originality” can never be used in the same sentence. They are all the same. So, unless you’ve got an original song, I don’t wanna hear it. Something about Santa and Jesus saving the world from Nazi aliens on Christmas Eve. Now, THAT’s original.

23rd Aug2004

Knight Rider and Me

by Will

So, I’ve reinstated “Operation: Childhood Buyback”. Basically, whenever I get depressed or confused, I try to create a bubble of nostalgia around myself in order to feel better. The best way to do this is for me to buy back the relics of my childhood.

Anyway, the most effective branch of this initiative deals with TV. I’ve bought several 80’s TV DVDs, such as the first seasons of Punky Brewster, The A-Team, and Knight Rider.

Tonight’s topic is Knight Rider. When I was a kid, I LOVED this show. I don’t think “love” even cuts it. There is no English word to describe the feelings I had for this show. I think it’s because of how it relates to my life. I used to watch it with my dad, so it kind of has that sentiment attached to it. Also, for my 4th birthday/Christmas, I got the K.I.T.T. Power Wheels car, which is still in my shed, by the way. That was the year Daddy died, so it was a trying holiday season, but I remember how happy I was to get that car! In fact, Knight Rider and my dad’s death are intertwined in several different ways.

When my father’s funeral came about, they didn’t think a 3 yr-old needed to be at the service, so they had my cousin run interference. She took me to Toys R Us, where I got an electronic K.I.T.T. I still remember that to this day.

Why is all of this important? Well, for many seemingly coincidental reasons. Here I am, watching Knight Rider Season 1, when my cousin, on my father’s side, passes away. In the meantime, Toys “R” Us is considering exiting the toy business. “The more things change…”

I guess one would ask, “Why do you love that show so much if it’s got so many bad memories attached?” Well, they weren’t bad memories. I didn’t know what was going on. I found out about funerals and the like as I grew older. I’ve posted about this before, but I simply looked at that as “the day all my relatives came to visit me/the day i got my Knight Rider car”.

So, now reality sets in. I’m watching these episodes, and trying to recapture what i felt 20 yrs ago. But ya know what? This show sucks. I am so sorry to say that. I feel almost like it’s blasphemy for me to do so, but this show is formulaic dreck.

Let’s see. Some town gets in trouble. Michael and K.I.T.T. are dispatched to right wrongs, and uphold justice in the name of the Foundation for Law and Government. Conveniently, there is always a hot single MILF and/or waitress who becomes Michael’s tour guide/potential love interest. Throw in a couple of bumbling henchmen and any reason at all to get K.I.T.T. to jump over a gorge, river, truck, or building, and you’ve got a typical episode of Knight Rider. No, you’ve got EVERY episode of Knight Rider!

To my recollection, there are only 2 episodes worth remembering: 1) “K.I.T.T. vs. K.A.R.R.”, where Michael is forced to go against the evil prototype named K.A.R.R. If you’ve never seen two Trans Ams collide in midair, this is the episode for you & 2) “Knight of The Juggernaut”, where K.I.T.T. gets the living shit smashed out of it by a big ol’ tank. He was never the same after that…

Well, I’ve got a funeral in about 8 hrs, and about half a season left of Knight Rider. Let’s hope between the two, I can come up with some kind of understanding of life…