Telling You What's Good


The WBH Philosophy on Buying Music

It’s 2013. We have Spotify, Grooveshark, Pandora, and a host of piratey options that have been around for a while. Nobody, except me on occasion, it seems, buys CDs. It’s just stupidly easy to get music for free now, but at WBH we feel that if you REALLY like a band and their work, some appreciation should be shown, whether it’s spreading the good word, buying the album on iTunes (or elsewhere, or indeed a physical copy), or attending a concert (which puts VASTLY more money into the band’s hands than record sales). You’re not a bad person if you don’t. WBH doesn’t judge, and doesn’t consider it “theft.” If you’re of the internet generation, you often expect such things for free, and bands (and movie studios, etc) should expect that people will gain access to their product for nothing. Indeed, if it were not for file sharing, songs posted on Youtube, Grooveshark, and elsewhere, nobody would know about so much good music that’s out there. But if you really care about something, it’s worth supporting the creators.  I don’t buy many CDs, but I always will for my top tier bands, and I always try to see them in concert.

PS: hell with Lars Ulrich and the RIAA!

Weathering Sandy – the WBH Hurricane Guide

Holy shit.

Hello East Coasties,

Enjoying the weather? Still got power? (Or are you reading this on your phone, you lovely devotees?)  So as you may have noticed, the mid-Atlantic and beyond is in the midst of a so-called “Frankenstorm,” a combination of Hurricane Sandy and some mad nor’easter, resulting in apocalyptic rain, winds, damage, and general mayhem, and it’s only getting worse as I write this.

Chill out! It’s the We Ball Harder Hurricane Guide!


“Caffè lattes in the chaos”: Beirut Accurately Depicted in the FT

Leaving London for a moment, Today’s Financial Times has done something remarkable: actually published an accurate, pros-and-cons article that perfectly captures the frustrating yet addictive nature of Beirut.  Most major papers do nothing but extol its party/beach/restaurant/chic cafe scene.  Abigail Fielding-Smith’s article is all about the chaos, frustration, and anarchy of life in Beirut, but equal due paid to the entrancing small charms of living there:

“It is fashionable among Middle East aficionados to decry Beirut’s shallowness. But away from the manic hedonism of the nightspots, the pleasure Beirutis take in the small things in life is infectious. In the evenings, old ladies take fold-up chairs on to the seafront to gossip and smoke water-pipes, while young men slip in and out of the water beneath the railings. Beirut is, despite its problems, a great place to live. I hope it stays that way.”

Definitely worth a read, and something to keep in mind when you think everything around you is madness.

Why London is the Greatest City on Earth

I may live mostly in DC, frustratedly adore Beirut, and enjoy travelling round the world, but only one place is my true love: The Metropolis; Her Majesty’s Capital; London.  Having lived there twice and visited so often I’ve lost count of the times, London is truly where my spirit resides. When I arrive at Dulles, I groan; when I arrive at Heathrow, I think “I’m home.”

Given a little thing called the Olympics is going on there now, it’s a great time to tell you why London deserves every bit of attention it’s getting.

Well, for starters, PIMM’S IN A CAN – to be drunk exclusively on the street.


Serious Heat

So over at Serious Eats, there’s a post about increasing your chile tolerance.  While I agree with the message (namely that some of the best cuisines in the world are pretty hot, and that it’s worth developing a tolerance so that you can enjoy them), I feel they left out a key component:  Start slow and build up to all out!  In the first few days, only add half a jalapeño or a couple drops of hot sauce, then after you’re comfortable with that, increase it steadily and gradually.  Within a few weeks you’ll be a fire-breather, undaunted by whatever the world’s kitchens can throw at you.  Good luck.

We Fail Harder: How NOT to Sell a Car

NOT what I’m in the market for.

Some of you that know me personally may know that I’ve been car shopping.  I’ve been seeking used (no, I will not use this idiotic “pre-owned” term), simply because let’s face it, I’m about maximizing value, and finding a well-taken care of car that’s a bit older but otherwise immaculate is a VASTLY better value than a new car.  I’ve been at it for several weeks, and 90% of the sellers out there FAIL HARD.  Here’s what not to do:


The Discerning Drinker: What to look for in a bar

So, for those that have read my recent glowing writeup of Little Branch, as well as my comparison of Passenger and Gibson and my review of El Centro, I thought I should clarify what I look for in a drinking establishment that you too ought to consider.  Don’t spend money and waste time at crappy bars (or anything else, for that matter), use this handy guide.


Friends don’t let friends drive automatic – Stick it to ’em!

Photo from

Enjoy that simply staggering picture of the gear shifter from a Spyker C8, a Dutch (really) supercar with the most over-the-top styling in the history of motoring, as I’m about to become more opinionated than usual.  Those easily offended may want to stop reading. For the brave, read on.


New Year’s Eve Post: We Love House Parties

As great as some bars and clubs are (I’m looking at you, London, Beirut, and Istanbul), nothing beats an awesome house party, any time of the year.  I love entertaining and putting them on, and I’ve had some uproarious times at friend’s shindigs.  However, never is such an event more desirable than on New Year’s Eve.  Here are your typical first night options:

  1. Stay at home and be miserable
  2. Stay at home with a few friends or family, watch TV, have some drinks, have a nice time but nothing extraordinary
  3. Go to an event such as the one parodied on the flyer following the jump: (more…)

Value vs. Expense (part 2 – or: How to Avoid Impulse Buys)

Link to part 1

Right so here’s the sequel.  So I’ve established that sometimes certain things cost a certain amount without many options, and should you want said thing, you’re stuck (the example I used was plane tickets).  I’ve also said previously that when you have options, it’s sometimes beneficial to go for a more expensive option.  But don’t go rushing out to drop $1000 on something that you could get for $500 and be just as good.  Here are my rules:


Value vs. Expense (part 1)

The value of something – its worth to you – versus its cost is a crucial part of our philosophy. We enjoy the good things in life, but make no mistake – great expense does not necessarily bestow a great product or experience. Certain things have a universal or absolute price – for example, you will never find a transatlantic plane ticket for less than, say, a DC to New York or London to Paris train, but if you want to fly across oceans, this is something you must face. Do you really want to go from New York to London?  Then your options are limited and there’s not much you can do about it, so if you can afford it you will probably say “Screw it, it’s $1000 a ticket, but I really want to go. So be it, evil airline, here’s my money.”

On the other hand, many other things are greatly variable – You can buy a $20 pair of jeans or a $200 pair of jeans (possibly $2,000 but then you’re a total sucker and beyond our help). Is that $200 pair necessarily better than $20? No. It may be a bit more durable and stylish, but this is not to say a cheaper pair of jeans, or indeed anything, is by rule inferior.  Can I afford $200 jeans? Yes.  Would I ever buy them? No, because I’m not an idiot, and even though I can afford them, I would derive no greater utility than from a pair far less – I do not highly value expensive jeans.  Does that mean you’re an idiot if you bought $200 jeans?  While I’m inclined to say yes, you might not be. You might genuinely derive greater utility out of $200 jeans than I do. (Perhaps you hang out with billionaires who only wear haute couture and will mock you mercilessly if your socks aren’t made of gold thread and your jeans sewn by French maidens in a convent outside Paris.  Perhaps that’s a justification for buying $200 jeans.  Perhaps you need new friends, but that’s another subject…).

It comes down to knowing what you want, knowing the range of what things cost, and whether what you want is worth said cost. Let me give another example: I’m a car fanatic, and I love high-end, high performance cars. This does not mean, however, that I lust after the most expensive cars for the sake of them being expensive – a Porsche 911 S is cheaper, but arguably better performing than the 911 4S, and is considerably cheaper and more attractive than other options, such as the 911 Turbo.  One of the main reasons I like the 911 so much is because of its beautiful styling.  Of these three, the Turbo is the most expensive and in some people’s mind the most desirable, and indeed in terms of absolute performance it is superior. Compare the aesthetics however:


Turbo. Ick.

The Turbo has a rather nasty spoiler and large side air intakes that ruin the fluid, clean lines of the original car, thus ruining it, despite costing tens of thousands more. If someone were to give me money for the Turbo, and said “you must spend some of it on a Porsche,” I would firstly thank them profusely (WBH encourages politeness), then buy the 2S, because it has everything I want in a 911, and would pocket the remaining cash. Not only is the Turbo not worth the extra money (I mean really, it’s not as if you can drive it at top speed anywhere), but it’s also a question of taste, and the Turbo defiles the subtle beauty of the original.

Keep in mind these are my preferences, and while this example uses something out of reach of most people (the author included), I know what I want, I know the range of options, and I know that the highest option is not worth it. At this point it’s a question of: “Well, do I think it’s worth spending X amount on it?”  This applies as equally to jeans as to cars, or indeed as to anything. Ultimately buying something is your decision, but always think in terms of what you want/need, whether X product satisfies those desires, and whether it’s worth the cost.

Stay tuned for part 2 on reasons why spending more (though not always the most) can be better.