Saturday, December 24, 2005

One more thing:

My brother got into University of the Pacific. So we're all really excited about that. It means he might get to play H20 polo in college, and it also means that he has an option outside of Fresno State, which, if you don't know anything about the city of Fresno, would be like attending a good school inside of someone's armpit.

--The Robo-Pirate.


So I'm a total boner, and here is one reason why. I missed a flight. It happened Thursday. I was supposed to be on the America West 7:30 to Vegas out of DFW and then on to Sacto, but I didn't allow myself enough time. Oh, technically I did, if conditions were ideal, but obviously, conditions were merely normal. See, in order to get from Fart Worth to DFW International Airport, you have to drive through the Mid-Cities. If you've read Stephen King's Dark Tower Series, think of The Wastelands, especially the part where they get held up walking through the ruined city full of creepy inbred people. The Mid-Cities are basically three large growths metastasized around the main artery between Fort Worth and the airport. They throb with chain restaurants, sports bars and about eight thousand on-ramps, and as such, the real speed limit is about 25 miles per hour. Of course, I forgot all this at 5:15 in the morning, what with getting dressed and taking the dog out and all. But even with the hindrance of a crawl through the Mid-Cities, I could have conceivably been in the nick of time for my flight if not for the airport's silence on where America West keeps its planes.

See, when I got to the airport, the terminal directory signs said nothing about America West, as if the whole America West terminal simply vanished into oblivion. Thinking that I was a moron (for reasons other than my habitual lack of planning), I circled the airport until I saw the terminal directories again, and sure enough, there was no indication that America West has ever flown out of DFW International. So I guessed, and of course I guessed wrong, but I at least got a shuttle to the right one. It is now 7:05, and the fact that I am even attempting to make this flight is a testament to the combined powers of hope and wishful thinking. Oh, did I mention that it's Christmas? Well it's Christmas, in case you forgot what that tree and pile of presents in your den was for. Christmas, of course, is the hammer that regularly seals the coffins of all improbabilities, despite what Hollywood has led you to believe about magic. Christmas travel leaves no room for foolishness, tardiness or sloppy planning, and this fact was made obvious to me when I arrived at the check-in queue. I might as well have been planning to ride Splash Mountain in July; the fucking line was two miles long and full of people who no-speaka-english. I tried to do the automated self-check in, and all that did was confirm what my heart of hearts already knew: THERE ARE NO SEATS AVAILABLE ON THIS FLIGHT.

Thus, I got back in line, which by now extended out of the terminal and back onto Highway 121. And in an effort to deal with the circumstances (made in part, by myself) which I could not change, I took a deep breath and adopted one of those "go-with-the-flow" attitudes prevalent in places like Venice Beach and Berkeley. And really, it made things a lot more enjoyable, because once you've accepted your fate, watching others struggle against their own is hilarious. Though you are still on the disgruntled traveler side of things, you begin to empathize with the customer service side. Accepting present circumstances gives you the power to say, "whoa, whoa, whoa man...." And it also gives you license to marvel at how fantastically ridiculous people can be.

For example, ahead of me in line was a family of four: fat dad, mousy mom, awkward middle school band-nerd daughter, spindly younger brother clad head to toe in Dallas Cowboys clothes. And this family, who I'll call the Fowlers, had SOME ISSUE. I don't know what it was, but they were arguing with the lady behind the counter, and they weren't winning. From the what I could gather, someone (Mrs. Fowler, I think) had made them late for a flight that they had booked at the last minute. And while Mr. Fowler was unsuccessfully trying to get his brood on the 8:27 flight to Phoenix (or Phunix! as I prefer), Mrs. Fowler began repeating, in public, at an airline check-in desk, mind you, "Are you mad at me? Are you mad at me? Just tell me, are you mad at me?" It has been my experience that you shouldn't ask questions in public if you aren't going to like the answer. And predictably, Mr. Fowler (Dan Fowler, I think), said, "Well, honestly, a little bit, yes."

Over the next four and a half hours, I would periodically see Dan Fowler skulking to and from the check in desk at gate B24, sans family. I suspect that he sent them home and traveled to Phoenix by himself.

Then, there was the Wealthy Line-Jumping Couple. The Wealthy Line-Jumping Couple, whose surname likely ended in "worth," (as in Dalworth, Barnsworth, or Worthworth) were a married couple, she in her late 30s and he in his mid to late 40s, who had been tricked into buying expensive clothes that look absolutely ridiculous. To wit, the wife, blonde, thin and attractive, was wearing a blanket. Oh sure, it had some kind of non-blanket type pattern on it, and it was gathered here and tossed there to give the illusion of being a garment, but if you remove all that and whatever name Neiman's gave it while it lived on the shelf, it was and shall ever be, a blanket. Combined with her Iditarod boots, she would have been at home in the Mos Eisley cantina or with the Last of the Mohicans.

Her husband was gold. That is the best way to describe him. In fact, the only thing golder than this man was is an Oscar Statue. His shirt: gold and red plaid. His shoes: gold. His pants: khakis covered with gold dust. His skin was gold, and his sport coat was a kind of a gold houndstooth pattern. And when he cut in line and went straight to the counter, I immediately imagined a scenario in which he looked at me and asked "What are you looking at?" to which I would have replied, "You can wait in line with the rest of us, and if you don't like it, you can take your Freddie Couples wins the Masters jacket and dry my sweaty balls with it." Then it occurred to me that PGA jackets are green (I think), and I was glad that I hadn't written that line into a TV show or movie. But anyway, he was hopping mad when the lady told him he had to wait with everyone else, and really made me laugh.

Ahead of me, there was one of those families in which only one member speaks something that approximates English. I felt bad for this family, because the grandmother looked terrified about getting on a plane, and also because the father was having a hard time conveying everything they needed. As near as I could tell, the only things they needed were seats on outbound flight. Then there was another couple who were either moving to Calcutta circa 1900 or visiting the Howells on Gilligan's Island, as every piece of their luggage (and there were many, many pieces) was the size of a steamer trunk.

Anyway, I eventually got to fly standby. Sometimes, like maybe in June or April, standby means that you might get on a flight. But during Christmas, standby means you will wait at a gate while airline employees bribe people to give up their seats on overbooked flights. Or more, precisely, it means that you will not get to fly that day. You can't really get mad, especially if you didn't get up early enough to make your flight (though Dan Fowler seemed to think this isn't the case). So I didn't get mad. I waited with a college girl who turned into tears every time she went up to the desk (her dad was sick and she needed to get to Denver pronto), and a lesbian cowboy, who came complete with a coloful Garth Brooks-type striped shirt and tin of Skoal in her back pocket, as well as the most well-behaved dachshund ever put in a ventilated duffle bag. They were both very nice, though I think the teary college girl suspected my good humor was colored by ulterior motives, which was why I prefered the lesbian cowboy. After I didn't get on three flights, I asked the counter lady (named Cheryle) if I could get a guaranteed seat the next day. And she said yes, so I said thank you and good bye.

Needless to say, I got up earlier the next day, and that is why I am eating leftovers in Lodi with my family.

--The Robo-Pirate

awwwwwww! Whose teeth hurt from that bit of sweetness? Mine sure do!

The title of this post is an attempt to spell that song played over and over again in the first Vacation movie. The Robo-Pirate regrets any anguish or bewilderment caused by this lackluster title and begs your forgiveness.

The Robo-Pirate also congratulates you if you made it all the way down here and will do his best to keep things shorter in the future.

But he can't promise anything.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Fort Worth vs. the Frost Giants

If anyone outside of Texas has been watching the Weather Channel, you will have noticed that the weather-guessers have directed their ebullience toward describing the below-freezing temps currently wreaking havoc on the driving preferences of DFW residents. For those of you who live here, you're already tired of those people (who drive around muttering about having to keep an actual car-length or two between them and the car in front). A while back, I griped, in a sort of back-handed way, about the fact that it was November and still 80 degrees outside, implying that I wished Texas experienced actual seasons rather than summer, spring, summer and hell. Well, I take it all back.

Call me a wimp, those of you who have to deal with snow and ice for four months of the year. I tip my hat my hat to you and ask that if you have time, perhaps you'd like to give me a lift to work. I hate this shit. I don't drive well in it, but at least I admit it, which is more than I can say for the other million people in the DFW Wretchroplex. On top of bald tires, a light vehicle and a relative lack of experience with icy roads, my trips around town have been further complicated by Fort Worth morons who are largely ignorant of the physical properties of ice and wholly ignorant of what happens when you accelerate while driving upon it. Their logic runs as follows, "Well, my truck weighs more than a ton and I have two extra wheels on my rear axle, which means I can drive as wrecklessly as I do when the streets are dry." Or, that axiom's corrolary, "I drive a Mercedes, and because my Mercedes costs sixty grand, the laws of physics obviously do not apply." And if they aren't operating their vehicle according to those rules, they follow this one: "Fucking speed up! Get out of my way! Why the fuck are you going so slow?!"

So God, if you've got a sec, would you mind putting the thermostat at say, forty-five? I don't mind it being winter, but there are several reasons why I don't live in Boston, chief among them I HATE DRIVING ON ICE!!!!!!

--The Robo-Pirate

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

This is probably a dumb post when I have other things to write about buuuut....

....I think, in terms of iconic symbolism, musical representation and overall coolness, Black Flag is the best band name ever.

Also, I really, really hate the word schnockered. Can't we just say drunk? Hammered, shithoused, shitcanned, plowed, plastered, wasted, geez--even bombed, but please, stop saying schnockered. It's the sort of word that is said with sneering self-righteousness by those guys who stayed in the dorm playing penuchle on Saturday nights when the rest of the floor was out sucking down trashcan punch and keystones and getting turned down by girls.

In hindsight, I probably should've spent more time with the penuchle-playing guys. I'd probably be an billionaire astronaut by now.

--The Robo-Pirate

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


I just glanced at some Amazon reviews of The Truth about Diamonds from people who have actually read it. One of them begins, "I don't like to read..." I think that sums Nicole Ritchie the author up pretty nicely.

Angry and Nauseas

I am busy right now, but I am so enervated that I could probably cut my arm open and molten fire would spray out instead of blood.

It was this phrase, found on a Yahoo news post, that did it:

"Television personality and author Nicole Ritchie"

Author? Really? What did she write? Oh, this book? This "novel" about the daughter of an entertainer who gets on a reality show and becomes famous? You mean the one with the picture of herself wearing a tiara on the front cover? It looks a lot more like a thinly veiled, heavily-promoted vanity project, if you ask me. You know whose fault this is? It's yours, America, for continuing to pay attention to these vapid, inflated celebrities, who if not for being fired out of some rich woman's vagina, wouldn't get to "write" books and get them published.

Nicole, honestly, what have you had to do thus far? Grow up being friends with crappy human beings like Paris Hilton, get everything you want (which, apparently included at some point being an author), go score heroin on Sunset, never go to jail for scoring heroin, be on TV, etc. etc. etc. Hmmm... I didn't see consistent disappointment from rejection form-letters on that list. Well, fuck you, Nicole. This book is the last straw. When I think of every writer who gets his or her stories, articles and manuscripts rejected over and over again, who works a nine-to-five in order to be a writer because writers don't usually make livings off their passion, who may get to experience a divorce or a drinking problem or some other misery because of his or her drive to do what he or she loves, well I hope, just a little bit, Nicole Ritchie, that your personal hell involves having to eat every copy of that novel, after the rest of us have wiped our asses with them.

--The Robo-Pirate

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Nuclear with Pride

My little brother is a senior in high school, and he recently played his final high school water polo game. He's pretty good; so good in fact, that at the end of the season, he was named an All-American, as well as being named to the All-Section First Team as well and the Northern California First Team, which means he's in like the top fifteen of Northern California.

It's very possible that my family will have a Division-1 Collegiate athlete in it. I am so stoked and have never been prouder of him.

--The Robo-Pirate

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Do they bother to go listen to themselves later? Or do they just not care how stupid they sound?

Regarding the Senate's handy defeat of the Democrats' effort to call for a Iraq withdrawal timetable, Senate Majority leader Bill Frist said this:

"They want an exit strategy, a cut-and-run exit strategy. What we are for is a successful strategy."

Right, because we've been so successful at everything else in this war, like supressing insurgents and getting the lights turned on and the toilets unplugged. I don't really trust your party to do anything successful beyond successfully lying and cheating.

--The Robo-Pirate

Monday, November 14, 2005

It's time for the indie kids to break out their scarves and v-neck sweaters.

North Texas is apparently getting a cold front this week, which means that the THIRD WEEK IN NOVEMBER will feature temps in the upper 60s and low 70s. For those of you in other parts of the country, I think you call your cold fronts "fall" and "winter."

--The Robo-Pirate

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I'm actually not sure who the jerk here is, oh well. I hate indie kids.

Real fast, as I have to get back to work, but my band, Darth Vato, just received its first two pieces of hate mail, which I pasted below, followed by my response.

Dylan S., probably from Saddle Creek, NE writes:

you dudes totally look like a bunch of losers who listen to sugar ray, and
sublime. perhaps your name which abounds in originality was thought up listening to one of the afformentioned bands whilst smoking some form of illicit drug. i am sorry for not speaking
monosyllabically for you guys to understand, but i just thought i would say you suck...

and then:

i just downloaded one of your many songs, and realized you guys sound like 311, which is worse that i previously imagined. that skeleton with the sword is like a harbinger of death to you guys, seeing as how im going to steal the cutlass he is holding and cut off all of your fingers, so as to save the world from the hell that is darth vato. you guys would probably have been better in naming yourselves "going nowhere cause we are frathouse wankers". oh sorry for being a bit "rude", but bands like you give the world of music a bad name. just thought i would give you guys a word of encouragement by saying "quit now". by the way 311 sucks, but not as much as you guys. oh yeah you guys should return that year prescription of rohypnol you got from your buddy at the pharmacy, because dosing chicks at your venues is sooooo last year.

Oh! Well allow me to retort!

Dear Dylan,

Wow. You are the first person in three years to directly express antipathy for Darth Vato. We assume that people make fun of us behind our backs, but no one has ever made his or her loathing as explicit as you have. For your honest opinion, we thank you.

I do take issue with a few items in your emails, however. Though I applaud you for checking your spelling, grammar and punctuation (are you a journalism major, perhaps? Are you using your reporting class as a podium by which to disparage your town's music scene?), I am puzzled as to why, in your second email, you chose to enclose the word rude in quotation marks. Did you mean something other than the definition of rude that is commonly agreed upon by nearly everyone who competently understands the English language? Because otherwise, I can only assume that you were trying to emphasize your point that we are frathouse morons. I suppose you drove that point home sufficiently; in the event that you were trying to be funny, I am sorry to say you failed.

Furthermore, in the first email you accuse us of emulating Sublime and Sugar Ray and in the second, 311. I would like to clear up any misconceptions you might have about our musical tastes. Kerry (the bearded guy who plays guitar) and I (the sometimes-bearded guy who plays bass) both love Sublime. Though we both like many other types music (Kerry is really into jazz; I am all over the place), Sublime was common to both of us when we met in college, and our band largely sprang from jamming on Sublime songs (oops--sorry, jamming is a gerund probably too fratty and stupid to use with you). I will also begrudgingly cop to liking a couple Sugar Ray songs. For good or for ill, Mark McGrath (or whoever writes them) crafts sickeningly good hooks. That's partly why he doesn't have to have a day job beyond appearing on television and singing at state fairs. He is likely a millionaire, and if you are accusing me of aspiring to be one of those, I can only plead guilty. As for 311, our drummer likes 311, and we ridicule him mercilously and ceaselessly. We hate 311, despite what it says on our Myspace page. Bad Brains are awesome, however.

Finally, my last issue with your emails involves your contention that we give music a bad name. We have no pretensions about being a type of band different than the one we are, but I think you are thinking of The Bravery. The bass player should have stuck it out in whatever ska band he was in.

As for you as a person, we sincerely appreciate your honest feedback. It would have been better if you had articulated your enmity without using verbiage such as "abounds," because in total, your emails lead me to believe that you are, in fact, an eigth grader who has recently discovered what pressing the shift and F7 keys does on your keyboard (which opens Microsoft Word's thesaurus, in case you have no idea what I'm talking about). But really, I know you even less than you know me. I might, for example, guess that you are some burgeoning indie snob, who after purchasing Good News for People Who Love Bad News became a Modest Mouse authority, especially after you found out they made albums prior to getting Top 40 spins. If I were to make these types of assumptions, (which I'm not, of course), I might suggest that you take your devastatingly original, ironically-worn, size-too-small "Virginia is for lovers" t-shirt and use it for wadding when you cram that unopened Yo La Tengo album you bought two months ago up your ass. Or, I could assume that your email address pays homage to that underground hip-hop guy, which means you are light years beyond us in terms of indie cool and therefore intelligence and overall human merit. Either that, or you are a Dragonball fan, which confirms my suspicions about your being in eighth grade.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback. See you at the Warped Tour!



I'm not sure how to get rohypnol, but if I do, the first girl who is going to get it is your grandma, so I can take the ten dollars out of her purse she intends to put in your birthday card.

Monday, November 07, 2005

What I Learned from Saturday Night Commercials

According to television, touching a brand new Nissan Maxima creates some weird, crack-like, contact high that is instantly and perilously addictive, so addictive in fact, that if the Maxima you have touched boards a ferry and the ferry steams away from a pier, you are liable to continue to chase it to the point of madly running off the end, presumably drowning in the water below. Either that or you swim after the ferry and end up in Vancouver. Or Alcatraz. I'm pretty sure those are the only places that use ferries.

Needless to say, I don't ever want to touch a Maxima. Or swim to Vancouver.

--The Robo-Pirate

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Hey! Mine is fulla thumbtacks!!!!

So one aspect of my job involves writing titles and descriptions for internet search terms. I typically get a list of keywords for whatever company's campaign I'm working on and write the stuff that pops up as a sponsored link when you type it in Yahoo, Google or MSN. These lists always include terms that make me scratch my head in bewilderment because of their specificity, unwieldiness or general idiocy. Today, as I was cruising through a list that had to do with frozen gourmet seafood, I encountered this gem:

Seafood stuffed crab shells.

Aren't crab shells already stuffed with seafood? On account of being full of crab? As if you might crack open a crab shell and discover a bunch of lettuce or loose change.

I'm just saying is all.

--The Robo-Pirate

Tuesday, October 25, 2005



Unless you plan on using one to suck Dick Cheney out of his bedroom window. We could probably stomach one more, then.

A Child's Letter to God

Dear Jesus,

Please stop with the fucking hurricanes.

Your friend,


Sunday, October 09, 2005

What to do when your Saturday goes belly up

To Natalie and Andrea, thanks for sitting on the curb with me last night. It meant more than you know.

--The Robo-Pirate

Saturday, October 08, 2005


You know when you go eat Mexican food and you have two quarters left over so you go over to the put-quarters-in-and-turn-the-knob prize dispensers and there is a Homie prize dispenser, and the top part has really awesome Homies like the guy in the wheelchair or the big cholo-looking one who's restraining a pitbull and then you put quarters in and turn the knob and you don't get either of those but instead get the chick with a pink coat on, who looks pretty much like the other chicks with the pink coats (I went to high school with those chicks, by the way) who you got the last two times you purchased a Homie out of a Homie-dispenser? Well, that's how I feel when I hit the NEXT BLOG >> button on this thing. I want a funny or interesting blog, but what I get is one about how research shows that lizards cure cancer or how research shows that smoking makes your eyeballs fall out or some other such sponsored nonsense. So when one of those pops up, I push NEXT BLOG >>, and then this next one is in Spanish, and I don't read Spanish very well, and so I push NEXT BLOG >> and this one appears to be in Arabic, and I don't read Arabic at all. So of course, why not check out the NEXT BLOG >>? Because the NEXT BLOG >> looks like the layout desk in Juggs' editorial department, because it is haphazardly covered with pictures of amateur topless women with preposterously large breasts.

I gave it one more shot, and the NEXT BLOG >> did not make me laugh as much as it made me consider how I probably should get around to learning Norwegian, so I can learn how Alexander feels about David Cronenberg's Videodrome. I will admit that I am interested in learning Norwegian now, because of the proliferation of decorative diacritic marks on Norwegian letters. While the English alphabet is basically limited to the occasional breve and umlaut, the letters in the Norwegian alphabet look like you could hang them on a Christmas tree.

So anyway, when you click on that button, chances are you aren't going to get what you're after. Certainly not a cholo with a pitbull.

--The Robo-Pirate

The Skin-Thinning Properties of Bad-Day Projection

I found out this past week that my mom had a blog. Long story short, by taking a sentence out of context and framing it within the context of the bummer weekend I had and the crummy day I was having, I handily found hidden implications from which I took umbrage. The two emails I sent her in response were not directly unkind, but they were unwarranted and unecessarily indignant. The consequence of all this was that I hurt her feelings to the point that she took down her entire blog.

If you are interested in making yourself feel like a really awful person, make your mom sad. It works nearly every time.

So of course, I feel like a big jerk, and here is why: my mom is not particularly adept at using computers, and the fact that she was able to navigate Blogger (or Blooger, as I nearly typed a second ago, which I think is a hilarious word, incidentally), follow the instructions and successfully create a blog is wonderful and astounding. I say that with absolutely no sarcasm. Furthermore, I can imagine her sheer joy at having an outlet to write and relate sometimes hilarious, often frustrating stories about my dad, my brother and myself. The fact that I effectively squashed that joy by being a titty-baby makes me feel about an inch tall. I know I wasn't the one who deleted her blog, but shit. Seriously, this is me telling me, grow up, dude. It's not like it's the first time my mom has made light of something I've done. I did, after all go to high school in the early-to-mid '90s, so you can imagine the number of terrible haircuts and goofy clothes I had, most of which practically begged for informed mockery by sensible adults.

Anyway, I'm not trying to feel sorry for myself, but I am sorry for being a jerk. So mom, will you please put up another blog? Pretty please? I know people will read it (especially Wink), and they're fun, and therapeutic, and so are you gonna put it up now? Please?

--The Robo-Pirate

Monday, October 03, 2005

Now I feel cool!!!

Driving to work this morning, zoning out, appreciating the fact that it is not yet a thousand degrees in Fort Worth..... And some dude who I did not know was blaring my band's most recent CD out of his pickup. If everything falls apart today (don't know why it would), at least I have that moment of giddy joy. Sounds kind of gay, but it's a really cool feeling to know that a stranger is enjoying one's creative output.

--The Robo-Pirate

Friday, September 30, 2005

How to Make Sense of History When You've Watched a Lot of Television

Based upon this PBS show I watched last night that had to do with what a big deal 1968 and 1969 (and how they made the things that happened in '70-'74 happen) were, I arrived at two conclusions:

1. Vince Neil is the rock and roll equivalent of Ted Kennedy. Both are fat, bloated and the wrong person to ride in a car with.

2. Arlo Guthrie looks and sounds like he is being portrayed by Darrel Hammond in an SNL skit about a guy tailgating before a Jimmy Buffet concert.

--The Robo-Pirate

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Monday, September 26, 2005

Y? Because I have two more minutes on my lunch.

A short list of famous musicians whose first names begin with the letter Y:

Yngwie Malmsteen
Ytzahk Perlman
Yesod from Pepper
Yuri from MxPx

oh Christ--I almost forgot.... YANNI

--The Robo-Pirate

Can you believe I almost forgot Yanni? It would have been like leaving Skeletor off of a list of scary purple things.

Grimace is definitely on that list.

So is the anthropomorphic onion on the new Eclipse gum commercial.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Hi. My name is America, and I'm a oilcoholic.

I recall a Calvin and Hobbes strip in which Calvin is bitching about the future not being very futuristic. "Where are the flying cars?" he gripes. "I mean, we still have weather?"

Yes, Calvin, we most certainly still have weather, and right now, our still-extant weather is further proving that America (and the rest of the world, if we are going to be honest with ourselves) will be forever hidebound by our addiction to oil, an addiction which mires us in costly mid-east wars, poisoned air, and stymied innovation.

Want to keep living in the twentieth century? Then let's keep the oil pumping. Throw more money at finding more oil, rather than spending money on retrofitting our infrastructure to accomodate hydrogen or other renewables.

I know I'm oversimplifying this, but seriously, how many more natural, energy-crippling disasters do we need to recover from to realize that pursuing an alternative is better for everyone and everything in the long run. How many more theocratic despots must we tolerate before we hit (bed)rock-bottom?

When will we have a clean-burning flying car?

--The Robo-Pirate

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


The more I think about Henry Rollins, the more I get the impression that he would be partial to grape Kool Aid. And that he would also be likely to come smashing through a wall screaming "OHHH YEAHHH!!!!, resplendent in his little black shorts and with his huge carotid arteries bulging and pumping with furious, sugary purple punch, because he likes grape Kool Aid so much that he has completely supplanted his blood with it. And if you like grape Kool Aid that much, you know who to bite in the neck.

--The Robo-Pirate

I thought this up with Kerry. He likes Kool Aid too, probably.

Monday, September 19, 2005

(a + b) 121/c = TRIANGLE?????

Really, launchcast radio? Shania Twain? You honestly thought, given all your algorhythms and research and ratings that I might like to listen to a Shania Twain song? I fail to see which variable, selection or rating might have even remotely suggested that I wanted to hear Shania Twain. Because I don't. Not even a little bit. Remember when you thought that I might want to hear some Aerosmith, maybe from the Big Ones album? And remember how you were wrong? Well this is like that time, only worse. Is it because I picked Jack Johnson, and you know that some people who like Jack Johnson like Shania Twain and that if you were to present a Ven diagram illustrating that overlap, my tastes might overlap there in the middle? Well, they don't. You're not listening to me, because I also have told you that in addition to Jack Johnson, I like Black Flag and Minor Threat, and I think it's a safe assumption that the average fan of either of those bands does not like Shania Twain. Moreover, I know for a fact that Henry Rollins and Ian MacKaye definitely don't like Shania Twain, because when the three of us (along with Greg Graffin) got together to play Dungeons and Dragons last Saturday, I was about to make the scenario when Rollins goes, "You know who I'm sick of? That stupid Shania Twain!" And then Ian is like, "Yeah, bro, I totally know what you mean." So then I changed the campaign and made up this really easy-to-kill troll who was loaded in gold and called him Sh'naya T'weyne, and it was really funny, and we laughed and laughed and laughed some more, especially when Greg Graffin spilled Dr. Pepper on his pants.

--The Robo-Pirate

Dammit (I guess this is growi--BLAM BLAM BLAM!!!!!

So last night, I went downtown to the Flying Saucer to meet Jackie and her friends for a beer (which really turned into three or four given that they had Sierra Nevada IPA on tap). As I crossed Sundance square, I saw three people held hostage on a park bench by a busker badly performing "Just Like Heaven." Then, as I stepped into the crosswalk at Fourth and Main, some asshole in a Mercedes jerked out of his parking spot and through the red light. If not for the techno pumping out of his car, I probably would have been nailed. Of course he wouldn't have noticed, unless the impact had made him drop his cigarette or phone, which he was operating simultaneously. He was obviously commanding the car by the power of sheer concentration, so it's understandable that he didn't notice athe red light, let alone a human being stepping into the sanctioned walking area.

The other thing that happened was that when I got to the bar, I saw this girl I graduated with. I don't think I have ever spoken to her, but with characteristic creepiness, I know that she was a Chi-O, an Ad/PR major, and from Overland Park, KS. Anyway, she was sitting at this table with this dude, and the dude looked like he was in his early-to-mid 30s, and when I saw him, I thought, "Whoa, that dude she's with is old. He must be like, 32 or 33!" and then I realized that 32 or 33 isn't really that much older than someone who is 27 or 28. I never thought I'd feel old until I had kids. The fact that going to the Flying Saucer and buying expensive craft beers was something I did when I was 21 and 22 didn't help anything either.

This is why I shouldn't go out on Sundays.

--The Robo-Pirate

I had a beer called Old Scrimshaw, brewed in Fort Bragg, CA. It tasted like your grocers freezer, like licking a Lean Cuisine package.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Fun Fact #1

According to the Internet Movie Database, Robert "Freddy Kreuger" Englund's father designed the U-2 spy plane.

Bonus fun fact: He auditioned for the part of Luke Skywalker. My guess is that he couldn't get the whole petulant space-teenager thing down.

--The Robo-Pirate

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Angry Lesbian Breasts Part II

Oh man, that sounds like a new John Waters movie, if he eschewed the subtlety of his other films. Anyway, I forgot to mention that I read an article about Antigone Rising in Spin or EW or Here's Some Label Money to Promote Some New, Terrible Band a day or two after posting about them. It turns out they are a female JAM BAND, which means that not only is their sound the musical equivalent of a menstrual cramp, it is a cramp that lasts the entire month.

--The Robo-Pirate

I should probably mention that Angry Lesbian Breasts is a referrence to a line Stephen King used to describe inappropriate modifiers (and bad slam poetry) in his On Writing book. If you like to write and haven't read this book, you need to pick it up.

Also, I gathered from Antigone Rising's interview comments that my eye-rolling and criticism is not original at all and that they hear that sort of thing all the time; in that case, let me say that I have never been ashamed of pointing out the obvious. If you have shit on your shoe and everyone can smell it, expect to hear about it until you scrape it off.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Angry Lesbian Breasts

My girlfriend works at Starbucks. I went up to visit her yesterday while she was at work, and while I was waiting for her to return to our little table with a container of expired fruit, I perused the Starbucks music section, which is usually full of historical pop albums rebranded to remind people that they should buy overpriced coffee and peculiarly named, grown-ups-at-a-party, shout-a-lot type of games. It's also a great place to have the latest and hippest piano-based R&B/jazz fusion/singer-songerwriter/reimagined blues compilation foisted upon you.

This one album I saw was by a band comprised of five woman, who look like Jewel or Joan Osbourne as envisioned by the GAP's ad agency. They look like the kind of women who regularly annoy people with acoustic guitars. Their band's name was Antigone Rising. I can only guess that their sound is the musical equivalent of a menstrual cramp.

I mean, seriously. Antigone Rising? This is what happens when you never make it out of the junior-college theater department.

--The Robo-Pirate

Sunday, August 21, 2005

By the Way #1

By the way, three cop cars came to break up the party we played at last night. A bit of overkill? Nah. Overkill would be threatening to arrest Eric for jaywalking. Oh wait. Eric did get threatened with arrest for jaywalking. Thanks for showing me how you spend everyone's money, FWPD. You guys are doing a bang-up job.

--The Robo-Pirate

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Belt Accessories

People love to hear themselves talk. And since everyone has a cell phone now, they can hear themselves talk all the time.

I don't like cell phones, but I succumbed to their convenience about five years ago. Prior to that, I thought they were an accoutrement of the upper class and their children; this assumption stemmed mostly from my disgust with the phones suddenly materializing in the free hand of every girl at TCU "steering" a high-end SUV or luxury sedan circa '96.

Now they are inescapable.

Like most other consumer electronics, the democratization of the cell phone occurred when the handsets became affordable enough for the average schlub or annoying teenager to buy one, which brings us to the present, in which there is no respite from idiots yammering away with their hands resting at their temples, apparently beaming harmful radiation directly into their brains.

I don't know about radiation thing, but cell phones definitely bring out the absolute worst in people. They are inherently disruptive. They contribute to automobile accidents by causing drivers to become dangerously aloof. They make quiet people louder, and loud people insufferable. They hold innocents hostage to their user's conversations. They ruin movies. They hold up dinners, disturb fellow diners, and perturb waiters. They infuse people with an undue sense of self-importance. They are the electronic embodiment of passive-aggressive behavior.

But I have one, and the periods during which I have gone without have demonstrated that my life was better off with mobile connectivity. But I have a code of personal cell phone ethics, that I do my utmost not to violate. I think if everyone were to follow my code, people would be less inclined to take offensive phones and shove them in the ass of their offensive operators.

1. Never, under any circumstances, are you to answer the phone during a movie. Don't text message either. That's nearly as bad. If you don't intend to give a film your full attention, then why did you even bother entering the theater? That sounds like a waste of your money, and when you fuck around with your phone, or God expressedly forbid, answer it, then you have wasted mine, and I reserve the right to remove the phone from your hand and propell it with maximum force against the hardest surface I can find, even if that means walking out into the parking lot.

2. Don't answer your phone during any kind of monetary transaction. Simply put, it's rude to have a conversation when you're interacting with a cashier, waiter, hooker, mugger, etc. They are people too, and you should treat them with the dignity you would want if you were on the other side of the counter or the curb. Not only that, but by not focusing on the task at hand, you are holding up lines. And lines don't need to be held up any more than they already are. That lady with the discount t-shirts without pricetags and the four whiny children circling around her shins has already got it covered. She doesn't need any line-blocking help from you.

3. Stop shouting! If your party can't hear you, then one of you needs a new phone. You may think you are making your voice clearer to your listener, but the only one who can hear you better is the rest of us. And we don't want to.

4. You may have to answer your phone while driving, but that doesn't mean you need to engage in lengthy pillow talk or sermons. The longer somebody talks on the phone while driving, the more they forget that they are directing heavy blocks of metal at harmful velocities.

5. Don't have conversations on the phone when you're in the car with a bunch of people. Have you ever been in the car with that guy who has to call his friend and tell him how to get to the party? Why is he so fucking loud, and why does he think he's so funny? And why don't we drop him off on curb?

6. Don't wear your phone on a belt. What, are you Batman? You don't put your keys or your wallet on your belt; why would put your phone? It's only okay to clip things to your belt if you are the type of person who builds things, fixes things or fights crime. Otherwise, stick it in your pockets.

I guess these rules are mostly a means for me to let go of a personal indignation. A long time ago, I ascribed a certain class-conflict to cell phone use, and to my credit, the only people I saw using them were people in higher tax bracket. I still get irritated when I see some woman obliviously plowing down the road in her Escalade, blathering into her V3 Razr. And that guy in the boarding queue on my flight, shouting into the weird earpiece mic thing about sales reports and verticals, who is so important and busy that he has to utilize every moment he can conducting business? Well he needs a foot up his ass too. A lot of people are just jerks; I just wish they'd extend some courtesy to the rest of us, but I've come to accept that everyone has a cell phone now, and I should probably shut up about it.

Too bad I love to hear myself talk.

--The Robo-Pirate

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Thanks, Mom.

Thanks, mom. I had a good weekend.

The Robo-Pirate

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Self-Aggrandizement in the form of a "Klassic Kolumn"

During a bout of vanity last night, I searched my own name in Google. It took four or five pages of results, but I ran across a column I wrote over five years ago for the TCU paper. It was one of my favorites, so I am posting it here in its entirety, mostly because I never tire of making myself laugh or patting myself on the back for making myself laugh. So, without further introduction....

Some things are best left to men
Mustaches, tobacco are less than feminine

I'm not a misogynist, nor am I a belligerent male chauvinist. I support women, and I agree that their fight against glass ceilings, societal expectations of demure behavior and a host of male-propagated double standards is far from over.

However, I do have a few shreds of conservative sensibilities left which, unfortunately, lend to my reactionary preference for a few of these hypocritical fetters. I'm sorry ladies, or whatever it is I'm supposed to call you, but there are a handful of things men do that should stay that way.
Recently, I witnessed a girl chewing tobacco. Before I delve further into my tirade, I would like to point out that anyone loping around with that telltale lump protruding from his or her lower lip grosses me out. If I had my druthers, no one would chew tobacco. However, seeing women dip is especially revolting.

There are several reasons for this, the most salient being that I am attracted solely to the opposite sex. When women mash a chaw into their mouths, their attractiveness diminishes exponentially. One might infer from this that chewing tobacco is a surefire way for women to express masculinity without those annoying trappings of feminism. I can deal with women smoking, and I've humored women who think they like cigars, but as far as I'm concerned, Skoal and estrogen don't mix.

Some men, like Tom Selleck, Snidely Whiplash and my dad, like to wear mustaches. To my dismay, some women prefer to wear mustaches as well.

I agree that beauty is more than skin deep. I know that facial fuzz has no bearing on one's ability to function in society (unless one works in the Swedish porn industry), and I also acknowledge that men have no business telling women how to look any more than women have telling men how to drive. But women, if you are sporting a caterpillar under your nose, do yourself a favor, and WAX IT! If you want to have hairy legs, or, God help me, hairy armpits, fine, but the mustache is decidedly not key. I can see how hairy legs or pits might make some sort of political statement, but blatant fur on the upper lip won't score any points with the phallacracy.

Of course, women don't want to score points with the phallacracy, nor should they have to. Rather, they should focus on beating us into submission. Or so it seems, and I am sick of this. Contrary to what one might glean from Maxim, men are not all obnoxious louts driven by their genitals. Certainly, this is hard to swallow if you're female and have ever been to a bar, but it's true.

We are not out to screw women over, just as women are not out to diabolically ruin men and then brag about it in Cosmo. I am a nice guy, and I expect to be treated according to my own merits, not on the basis of some ego-starved cretin whose self-worth is tied up in how many skirts he can pull.

It's a bit of a stretch, but I believe that the gender wars would conclude much sooner if both armies would let bygones be bygones, stop struggling to have the last word and treat each other as equals.

In my book, which has yet to be read by anyone but me, mutual respect goes a long way toward solving any conflict. Holding onto past injustices, however, extends the conflict indefinitely.
I guess it's a good thing that I am graduating in five weeks because I have now made myself a pariah. Next week, I will return to the role as sensitive, opinionless opinion columnist. So while you wait for next Thursday, please look for the intended hyperbole scattered throughout this week's read, and re-read that part about my being a nice guy. Meanwhile, I have to go wax my lip.

Steve Steward is a senior political science major from Lodi, Calif., and knows nothing about women. Tell him what a creep he is at (

Hahahahahahaha! See how cute and equality-minded I used to be? Sometimes I think I feel obligated to put a little moral at the end of everything I write, like Jerry Springer does with his final thought at the end of the show, which always boils down to a plea to base human beings to exhibit a little bit of the ol' golden rule. It's an effort to absolve himself of the previous forty-five minutes spent coaxing out the lowest common denominator of human behavior. I put a moral at the end of every story because tying up loose ends is a compositional habit as ingrained as taking a wizz after waking up in the morning, but not this time. Today, I am simply amoral, in a very literal sense.

--The Robo-Pirate

There is a funny story about how this column came to be and how it almost didn't make it to print. I'll get around to that later.

The Christmas Pageant at My Desk and a bit of Warm non-Holiday Wishes

Before I get into this little thing, I should remark that I have not washed my hair since Tuesday the 5th. I have a buzz, so I don't look greazy, if that's what you're wondering. But this morning, while watching an MSN video (about a big huge fat guy who is walking from San Diego to New York), I was absent-mindedly scratching my head, and when I looked down, my desk looked like someone had smashed a snow-globe on it.

So apparently, I have dandruff. I don't know why--you'd think that not washing one's hair in a week would keep things nice and oiled, rather than dry and flaky (and knowing that catchphrase is what happens when you watch Guiding Light with your mom when you're a little kid--if only G.I. JOE had come on earlier and stayed on until dinner!), but evidently it doesn't. I don't really care. It turns out that in the grand scheme of things, dandruff is really not that big a deal. Neither are bands, bills, beer guts, jobs or anything else except for the people you care about (who are often in your band, sometimes pay your bills, encourage your beer gut, or help you get a job). For the people I care about, I love you and I keep you in my thoughts and prayers. You are a big deal.

--The Robo-Pirate

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Memory of a Texas Stopsign

For whatever reason, I get my best ideas while in the shower or on the toilet. Regarding this latter, you might be tempted to think that I assume the same pose as Rodin's The Thinker. But you'd be wrong. That's my dad. Just so you know, I didn't happen upon any other revelations in the shower this morning, though I politely asked a German cockroach to remain on the wall opposite the shower head until after I had finished. He compromised by heading up to the ceiling.

While I seem to do a lot of thinking in the bathroom, I tend to reminisce while eating. I'm not sure why this is; though I love food, I don't have a ton of memories about spectacular dining experiences. This is not to say that I haven't had memorable meals, but given that I'll eat saltines and mustard just as readily as I'll eat something small, sculpted and expensive from a five star hotel, I guess I'm not so much a gourmet as I am a bipedal carp.

But anyway, I ate a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon from the Perk (the rarely-open cafe in my office building), and for whatever reason, it made me think of Dairy Queen, which is another name for a Texas Stop Sign, except for when the Dairy Queen is in another state, in which case it's just another place to poop.

I don't eat at Dairy Queens very often. Usually, it's only on the way home from something, and the ones I've eaten at seem to be deliberately decorated with straws all over the floor and pee on their toilet seats. One of these stops occurred in '98 or '99, when I was on my way from some corny fraternity thing at Texas Tech. I was riding with my friends John Lea, Matt Singer, and Royce Carvallo, and John insisted on having a blizzard. We were tired and hungover, and frankly, a Dairy Queen blizzard is not a good solution to a hangover, especially if you are consistently lactose intolerant, which I am, with regimental frequency. A dairy shit brewed with a beer shit seems like a recipe for Armageddon, but whatever--I had to sit in the back seat, and my rights and opinions were null and void.

So we pulled into some Dairy Queen (who, if she marries Burger King, presumably gives birth to Carl's Jr., according to the joke, which isn't all that funny, unless you are this guy I went to high school with, and then it's a riot). Of course the floor was covered in pink straws and napkins and dirt clods and auto salvage, and I was relieved to find that the toilet seat was covered in a thousand layers of dried pee. The thing about a peed-on toilet seat is that you really can't do anything about it (like say, for example, lifting it), and thus the shimmery lacquer of crystalized urine gets increasingly thicker. When in Rome, I guess.

At least I washed my hands.

When I re-entered the "dining room," which actually had a lot more in common with a bus station than you'd want to imagine, I found John in one of those irritable poses--arms crossed, bedhead standing tall, mouth pursed, steam misting from his ears. The thing about John is that his volume and vulgarity level is directly proportional to his BAC and the number of hours he has been up; needless to say, both of these were big numbers, and what I found was that he and the other guys were the only ones in line, and none of the people behind the counter were helping them.

As I perused the menu, I heard John grumbling to the right of me, and finally he lost it.


I ended up waiting in the car.

The Robo-Pirate

Sunday, June 05, 2005

I Might As Well Be Honest

So my band, Darth Vato, is nominated for Best Live Band in the local alt-paper's annual music awards. We won it last year, and at the time, I suspected the whole thing was rigged, largely because there were better and tighter bands with big attendance draws who were in the running with us. In the event that we win again, I will be convinced that the awards are indeed arbitrary, in light of our performance (or gong show, if you prefer) on Saturday. We've played worse, but just barely. At least nobody threw up.

I have a number of reservations about my presence in the band. In my own opinion, I am a mediocre bass player, but since our songs are more or less rooted in reggae, I don't have to do anything really difficult. This is not to say that reggae bass is unchallenging or beneath the skill of good bass players; on the contrary, playing reggae bass well requires one to make choices, rather than runs. A good reggae bass player is judicious with his or her notes. There isn't room in the groove for hot licks or jerk-off slapping bullshit. Which is probably why I like to play it, because it is within my capacity to be good at it.

However, I'm still pretty sloppy, and that's before I start drinking beer. And given the way things went on Saturday, I started drinking beer pretty darn early. Suffice to say that I lost another favorite hat by the end of the night, and given the trouble I went to to get that particular hat, I'm pretty pissed at myself.

Anyway, Saturday was a fun show. It was pretty crowded in the bar. There were new faces. We inspired a mosh pit. A fight broke out in front of us. We sold a bunch of CDs, in spite of the fact that we really didn't bring the "A" game. In fact, one of our biggest proponents and best friends remarked, "Wow! They sound BAD!" And to ice this particular cake, the entertainment editor of the beneficient Weekly got to see us turn the buffoonery knob to 11. On our collective amp, the buffoonery knob is next to the suck/not suck switch. Guess what position that was in.

On a couple levels, I'm okay with the way we played. Not proud mind you, but okay. First of all, it wasn't like we have a reputation for perfect execution, and Saturday was not the last time we will play like crap. Secondly, everyone I saw seemed to be having a good time and didn't seem to care a whole lot about wrong notes or cracked voices. I'm not terribly pleased that we likely embarrassed ourselves in front of people who had never seen us before (which probably includes the aforementioned editor), but what are you gonna do? I guess part of our appeal is that we provide a guessing game as to whether or not we will be dressing to impress, so to speak, or proverbially showing up in the clothes we mow the lawn in.

Along those lines, I tend to think of my band as a punk band of sorts, not because we play punk (we try, with limited success), but because that is how we think. If someone doesn't like us, we don't really care. We run our mouths. A lot. Maybe even about your band. Especially if your band is better or more popular than ours. Having a party? Better watch your beer, because we will definitely try to walk out with it. And whatever snacks are in your cupboard--we'll take those too. We suck at shows that are supposed to be big deals (and by we, I mostly mean I--see above). Moreover, we revel in all that is puerile. I make no claim to inventing jackassery (otherwise I'd be a millionaire and nailing Jessica Simpson like Bam Margera and Johnny Knoxville--now those guys are jackasses! They should make a TV show), but I do feel that in our town, which is what it is, there aren't too many bands that do the same sort of lame crap that we do. Maybe the other bands in our town are a running loop of gag reels when they are off-stage, but our antics typically spill over to the times in which we are plugged in. I can't help it--I just love punching Kerry in the nuts.

Sometimes I think that being an ass clown is a way for me to sabotage my own success. By fucking off all the time, I don't ever set anyone's expectations higher than what is easy for me to reach. If someone doesn't like us, I can just say, "well, we were so wasted, I'm not surprised." Perhaps I want to hear someone say that we're a good band when we're sober, or, better yet, "Steve is good when he isn't shitfaced." That would be terrific, because then I'd have an excuse to duck under whenever the spotlight of my insecurities glares down on me.

I've been pulling this crap my whole life. My fear of failure keeps me from attempting a lot of things, and when I do attempt something, the fear keeps me from excelling. Sure, I get things done, but they are usually accomplished in a half-assed sort of way, because if I can't make it perfect, well, I wasn't really trying anyway. My own potential is hamstrung by the possibility that I might fuck something up or that someone will be better or brighter at it than I am. And thus, I play sloppy bass, sabotage relationships, alienate friends, pain my family, pay bills late, and worst of all, refuse to challenge myself.

You might wonder why I don't ever seem to learn from my mistakes. The fact is that I do learn; I just don't really apply the lessons. The post is a good example of knowledge without application, and I just now realized that my self-analysis is largely a broken record. Moreso, it is a security blanket. I can cycle through life giving lackluster performances, feeling sorry for myself, and then rationalizing why I do the things I do without ever making steps to alter my behavior. It's a pretty shitty way to live, especially when I know there are a lot of people who believe in me and in what I am capable of. For that I am sorry. I am trying, or at least trying to try (sometimes, anyway).

Everyone has their hangups and personality flaws. Mine have, most recently, cost me a cool hat. I guess I have to remember that I only get to be here once. Better late than never doesn't mean a whole lot after you are gone, and if woulda shoulda coulda is the refrain from the theme song to my life, then I need to change the tune.

Friday, May 27, 2005


I love the Ocean, and everything that comes with it. For me, there are few things as exhilirating as the scent of an onshore breeze. I love to watch pelicans glide and dip over the waves, framed by the silhouettes of fishing boat steaming for the horizon. I love the grumble and roar of a shorebreak, the shroud of early morning fog, the smell and texture of an old pier. Even though I have never lived close I think I have a spiritual connection with the ocean, and she never fails to bring me peace which might explain my constant state of restlessness, because I'm pretty fucking far away from it. The best I can do is the Guadalupe River.

Now I don't have anything against rivers. In fact, I prefer them to lakes (except for Lake Tahoe, which is a great lake, but not a Great Lake). They just ain't the Ocean, that's all. Take sunburns, for example. An Ocean sunburn makes you feel like you've been Out There. Even if you're out in the waves for an afternoon, you still feel like a sailor, or a whaler, or an old man of the sea, because you get burned and windchapped and sea-breezed, and if you eschew the towel-dry option in favor of sun drying, your skin gets the salty sheen and crusty texture of one of those expensive kettle potato chips that are cooked inside lighthouses near dunes in New England.

A river sunburn, however, is a lazy sunburn. You don't get the same feeling of detachment you get from having been at the mercy of a powerful elemental force. The sunburn you get from floating on a river is not far off from the sunburn you get from lying by the apartment complex pool. The only major difference is in the chemical participates on your skin. With an apartment complex pool sunburn, your skin is cured in excess chlorine and toddler pee. A river sunburn, by contrast, is coated with the residue left from a heady solution of mud, beer, aquatic-organism-detritus (dead fish, decaying plants, turtle poop, etc) and weekend-camper effluvia.

Anyway, I got a river sunburn last weekend because I floated down the river with a bunch of friends including Yackie, Wright Angles, Westicle, The Bitter Banker, The Metrosexual Biker, and a bunch of his friends, such as Pig and The Jerk, whose nicknames are used in real life as often as their real names (the nicknames of my friends are used in the fake life of my blog to protect their identities, but they are not used not very well).

We got lost on the way down there, which wasn't a big deal, other than the fact that everyone says I am terrible with directions, and I hate giving my critics more evidence in favor of their charges. The other crummy thing was that it was much more expensive than we had anticipated, and when you factor in the price of gas and also beer... well, now I get to split Yackie's credit card bill this month.

Once we got ass-humped by the campground (and the next day, we would get ass-humped by the $30 it cost to float the river), we went to this bar that looked like it was used in the movie Porky's. It was called the River Road Ice House, and everyone was there watching the Mavericks blow a huge lead and end their season. Frankly, I couldn't have cared less, as I am a Kings fan, and a casual one at that. While the Mav's were busy sucking on TV, this country-rock-blues band started sucking over in a corner of the bar. I fucking hate the blues in any form other than the form stolen and mutated into metal by Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. If there is one thing I hate about Texas (and there are many things I hate about Texas), it is Texas's obsession with the blues. It is nauseating. I hate it so much that I am willing to suffer a Halloween ass-kicking by cowtown morons just so I could walk around the Stockyards or Keys Lounge dressed as The Reanimated Corpse of Stevie Ray Vaughn. I hate his stupid hat, and his hot lixx, and his corny Indian necklace, and the way he ruined "Pipeline," and even his cheesy strat. The only blues guitarist I despise more than SRV is Eric Clapton. More like Eric Crapton, if you ask me (minions, you were supposed to guffaw and hi-five each other at that remark. Now you'll have to turtle wax my Trans-Am).

With the Mavs headed home, we headed back to the campsite. Westicle made the fire happen (he is a marine, after all, and well versed in setting things ablaze, as well as toppling dictators, statues of dictators, fixing trucks, and blowing shit up, though I have never asked for details. These are mostly things I assume he can do), and we spent the rest of the night slapping bugs, drinking beer and listening to '80s rock, which has long-since ceased to be a funny joke for me (I am awaiting for the death of irony and the return of the pun, because I am getting worn out on irony), but some people actually really like it. Pig whipped out the ol' acoustic, and Wright Angles whipped out the ol' melodica. If you don't know what that is, you're really missing out. It's basically what happened when the recorder and the key-tar made a baby. You blow in this hole on the end and play a keyboard, and it sounds like a toy harmonica. It's useful for playing .38 Special songs and the theme from Legend of Zelda, and probably "Smoke on the Water." Suffice to say, the melodica got passed around quite a bit, with minimal wipeage. My hepatitis test results will be ready on Tuesday. People started dropping off to bed, so Yackie and I passed out in her car, having taken special care to park it as far away from Wright Angles as possible. "Like a mother fucker" does not even begin to describe his snoring, nor does "like a chainsaw," nor does "like a jet plane launching and crashing over and over again." No, Wright Angles's snoring is more appropriately compared to the sound of the sky getting torn asunder by the hellish roars of a thousand ancient and evil gods. It is the sound of nuclear war. It is the sound of the Final Judgement, if Michael or Gabriel or Frank or whichever angel it is were to blow one of those Ricola alpine horns, amplified through a seven-story Marshall stack.

The next day, we got up and waited for some other people to drive down from Austin and meet us, which meant that I started drinking beer around 10:45 in the morning. I haven't done that in about seven or eight years, but what else are you going to do while waiting to get in a rubber boat and drink beer? Not drink beer? Before I got too involved in drinking, however, I remembered to put on sunscreen. I used Coppertone Sport SPF 15, because it comes in a spray bottle and that allows me to avoid one of the most awkward situations you can ever face, which is having to ask another dude to rub sunscreen lotion on your back. First of all, you have to ask him. You can immediately see the discomfort on his face as he weighs the option of having to touch your body in a manner that does not involve punching, tackling, pantsing or any other type of buffoonery, against the option of protecting his friend (you) against melanoma, coupled with the fact that his back will require the same treatment. He always agrees, because, hey, you're buds, right? But because of the whole unpleasantness of the situation, what you get in terms of sunscreen coverage is two handprints on your lats and ten finger-width streaks down towards the middle lumbar region sporadically transversed by streaks around the bottom of your shoulder blades. You can get better protection if there are girls around and you haven't sufficiently creeped them out beforehand, but even then, your front and torso are up to you, and they might be in trouble, especially if they are covered in hair. You might think that chest and shoulder hair protects you from the prolonged stares of UV rays the same way it protects you from the prolonged stares of supermodels, but it doesn't. As for spray on sunscreen, all you need to know how well it works is that the blisters on my shoulders are almost gone now, and my back has mostly returned to its normal spackle-colored tone, as opposed to the angry, irradiated color it sported for most of the week.

After we handed over our inheritances to rent the rafts, we hauled all our gear down to the river's edge, and piled it into the rafts. By gear, I mean beer, and the outfitters had to give us an extra raft because there wasn't room for all twelve of us to ride and still keep the six ice chests and four or five separate 18-packs of Miller Lite and Keystone. We pulled the rafts into the current, and of course there were abortive attempts to coordinate a launch, as well as the hassle of on-the-water cooler switching. We also witnessed the tragi-comedy of a fat lady in a purple swimsuit attempting to get into her tube while in the grip of an eddy. It was sort of like watching a plum try to climb on top of a chocolate donut in a draining sink. We finally got our dorky armada assembled and pushed off into the flow. Then came the major Bad Idea of the Day.

Our raft was crewed by myself, Yackie, Wright Angles and Westicle. We were carrying a large cooler full of fifty or sixty beers, plus two 18 packs of Miller Lite and the rest of a 12-pack of Keystone that didn't fit in the cooler. When the loose attempts to keep all the rafts together with proximity and good intentions failed, we lashed ours with a buckled life jacket to another raft that had drifted from the flotilla. Tying the rafts together was a great idea for floating down calm parts of the river, but not so much for floating over rapids. Naturally, we had to float over some rapids. They were pretty minor, but minor rapids are still rapids. They were bracketed on the left by the river bank and the right by a big rock; our conjoined rafts, of course, were too far to the right of the rapids, and we drifted toward the big rock. The fore-most raft (not ours) bumped into the rock, and meandered into the flow of the rapids, while ours hit it starboard amidships. The life jacket's buckles snapped, and the other boat floated safely over the flow, while our boat tilted up and over, spilling myself, Yackie and Wright Angles into the river. As the boat bumped into the rock, these were my thoughts:

Aw crap! We're going to hit the rock. Oops--there goes the life jacket. Wait, how is--THE RAFT GOING VERTICALLLLLLL--SHIT!!!!!

which was immediately followed by:


and then:

Great panicking, bonehead. How funny will it be when the only person who drowns is the one who has swam all his life and who used to be a lifeguard?


Great. There go my sunglasses.

Wright Angles ended up near the boat with everything--his hat, sunglasses and koozie--in his possession. Yackie and I got dragged over some rocks, and she lost her hat, sunglasses and koozie. Inexplicably, Westicle never fell out of the boat, and neither did the cooler nor any of the other beers, though they were more or less freed when the water dissolved their cardboard containers. I did find my koozie in the boat, amid the thirty-odd beers bobbing comically in the water we had taken on.

The rest of the afternoon was relatively uneventful. Wright Angles and The Metrosexual Biker drew a bit of attention by wearing speedos, while The Jerk drew a lot of attention by sporting a thong. Wright Angles splashed people with a paddle. A friend of The Metrosexual Biker who was on the boat that made it over the rapids nearly killed himself not once but twice on a rope swing when he let go as it swung back to the riverbank and its pointy, half-submerged tree spikes, rather than disengaging at the apex of the arc like you are supposed to. We drank almost all of the beer. We played baseball at a shallow part with crushed empties and the oars. Our boat lost an oar. I think we floated past a wedding. When we were all done, we went back to campsite and headed to a barbeque joint that should be renowned for its lousy service. The only other thing that happened worth remarking on is that there are people who live in the area who think that driving by the campsite honking and yelling when people are presumably asleep is the funniest thing in the universe. The joke was on them, though, because I never went to sleep, as I lay down in the back of Yackie's car with my head on a negative slope so that all my blood dumped into my head. It took me all night to figure out that I could move the pillow to the opposite end and sleep without that problem.

All in all, I had a great time. I wouldn't say that it was a completely crazy weekend, which was nice in and of itself. The buffoonery level wasn't really any higher than on our tour last year, and I'm sure I've had weekends when I've drank that much beer. But the river is pretty good. It doesn't have the rhythmic lull of the Pacific, but if I am ever reincarnated as a carp or a discarded Cheeto bag, I don't think I'll mind the river at all.

The Robo-Pirate

Monday, May 09, 2005

An Argument Against Inflation

This thing that happened last Saturday involved my being a jerk, and I am not sorry, not even one little bit. In my opinion, I was justified on a matter of principle. To put this anecdote in the proper context, you need to understand that I am rather particular and opinionated about music. I wouldn't call myself a snob, as I know a few people who are far more elitist than I am, but there are a few unforgiveable tastes as far as I am concerned, and a few practices that should at the very least be punishable by public ridicule. Some of this stems from some formative music experiences that involve punk rock; to me, punk comprises a pretty important chunk of popular music, and I am of the mind that one should know what one is getting into before claiming any sort punk rock boilerplate. In other words, just because you see someone famous with a CBGB's t-shirt doesn't mean that you need to go get one. Especially if you play in a band that cites Matchbox 20 or Train as an influence, if for no other reason than that if CBGB's was a real person, he (or really, maybe even she) would most definitely kick the living shit out of Rob Thomas and Patrick Monahan.

In the case of last Saturday night, a guy who plays in a band that does, in fact, cite Matchbox 20 and Train as influences, strolled into the bar I hang in while wearing a DEAD KENNEDYS shirt, which is even more egregious and offensive than if he had been sporting CBGB's-wear. You might say that I'm being too hard on people, and who am I to judge; I say to you, hold your horses--I've just gotten started. In any case, this guy, he's a nice guy. Never means to hurt nobody. But Jello Biafra does, not that this guy knows who Jello Biafra is. One person this guy does know is a fancy hairdresser, as he has one of those haircuts with the swooping bangs in front and the shotgun-blast in the back. It's the kind of haircut kids who listen to fashionable indie rock have. In other words, it's a girl's haircut. But I digress. I should probably save that rant for later entry.


So this guy, he's gladhanding at the bar, on his way to sit at a table with this other guy who he totally idolizes, who also has an expensive-looking girl's haircut (minus the hilarious shotgun-blast); he's not a terrible guy either, at least until I see him with a vintage punk rock t-shirt.. Before this guy (not this other guy) can get to the other guy's table, I waylay him.

Me: So, you like the Dead Kennedys?

This Guy: Um, well, I like a couple songs....

Me: Really? Which ones?

This Guy: Oh, the ones that are kind of punk, kind of grunge, with that early '80s thing going on...
(I don't think either of knew what he meant by "early '80s thing.")

Me: I'm not familiar with those songs.

This Guy: Well, you know, they're on that one album. You know that one I'm talking about?

Me: No, I don't. I don't know the one you're talking about.

Him: You know, the Christ one. Something about Christ.
(I'll give him credit here. He was trying to identify Frankenchrist*, which is the DK album you know if you know a little bit but not much at all. It's like calling yourself a Zeppelin fan because you've heard of "Stairway to Heaven," or claiming to be a Presidential historian because you know whose face is on a penny.)

Me: (deliberately feigning ignorance) I'm not sure--they made five albums.
(This remark, admittedly, was laying it on pretty thickly, for if I knew how many albums they made, then I surely would have known that he was trying to tell me about Frankenchrist. In other words, I was just being mean.)

This Guy: I'm sorry man--I've had too many shots. I just thought it was a cool shirt.

You just thought it was a cool shirt???

A couple of things:

I am, at times, a total asshole.

I don't even like the Dead Kennedys, and for that reason, I would never wear a shirt sporting their logo.

I do know where they fit into music history, however, and can identify, if quizzed, several tracks off of their most popular album.

Did I extract pleasure from making someone (potentially) feel small? Yes. Does that make me an icky person? Probably, and if not, it definitely makes me petty. For me, though, it's a matter of principle. You just don't wear the shirt of a band that you don't really like. Sporting a band's shirt is an expression of devotion. It is a badge of identity and a form of recognition between members of a club who may otherwise have nothing else in common. What it is not, is a fashion accessory. Certainly, combined with other elements, a band's t-shirt does make a fashion statement, but firstly and most importanly, it identifies you as a fan. Wearing it because you think it is hip and trendy is misrepresenation.

By misrepresenting yourself in that fashion, you devalue the currency of devotion traded by real fans. That may sound sort of sissified and fragile, but think about it: let's say I decide to start wearing a Tupac t-shirt. I like Tupac well enough, but I can't recall one word of a song that wasn't a single. If a real Tupac devotee sees me sporting Tupac's penitent-thug visage, he'd probably be pretty irritated. I'm sure it would have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I'm white.

Okay, maybe that's a bad example. But here is a better one. I've wanted, for quite some time, to get the Aztec calendar stone tattooed on my back. Really big. Do I want it because I'm Mexican? No, even though my ethnic heritage is such that I have a small but defensible claim (which is to say barely any) to a Mexican cultural icon. The reason why I would want a tattoo like that is because I think it's cool, but I don't feel that I have thoroughly legitimate motives in co-opting another's culture for the benefit (or detriment, if that is how you feel about sub-dermal ink) of my physical appearance.

You did, in fact, read that right: I did just compare a lousy shirt to the heritage of a magnificient (if a little bloodthirsty) culture which was exploited, decimated and oppressed by crummy old Europeans. But here's the thing: though the level of affront is not really comparable, the iconic DK logo (no, not Donna Karan) is a symbol of a particular culture, just as the iconic Aztec calendar is symbolic of another, and I don't believe in taking things that don't belong to you. If you persist in assimilating another's culture into your wardrobe, it would behoove you to be versed in the history of the elements you're stealing. You know why it's hard for us goyem to become Jews? Because Jews make you go all the way. You don't have the luxury of becoming a non-practicing Jew. I don't think they require you to get a black suit and a beard, but you have to learn Hebrew, and study the Torah, and on and on and on, until real Jews are convinced you are not just faking it because you read about Matisyahu in Spin.

All this over a t-shirt? Maybe, I have a flair for drama, and by drama, I mean righteous indignation. I guess it's just a matter of principle.

The Robo-pirate

*Frankenchrist came out in 1985, which makes his "early '80s thing" description even more perplexing; as far as I know, 1985 was in the middle of the decade--but now I'm fussing over semantics, and that's pretty much intellectual masturbation. Call a spade a spade, I guess.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Response to the Anonymous Commentator

Well anyway, I got a couple comments on my second post. There was one that was sort of negative, and that puzzled me. Not because I can't take criticism, but because I actually thought I had dispensed a fair amount of good advice and was surprised to see someone take issue with it. See, I've had this band for three years. We're not huge, but we have enough fans in our hometown to continually break even. We've sold CDs to people in four or five different countries. We've gone on a small tour, on which we played to handfuls of people in three states. I wouldn't say that we're doing everything right, and in fact, we do a number of things wrong. Sometimes, such as the week in which I posted my 40 pearls of wisdom, my band is a real pain in the ass. It puts a strain on my relationships, checking account, academic performance, and the timeframes of several goals I have for my life. But I still do it because it is fun and I believe in it.

But this jackass, whose cognitive abilities appear to have no means of detecting satire, must have taken a significant level of offense. If you, Mr. or Ms. The First happen to read this post, please understand, if you are able, that I am not apologizing. Also understand that if you were in a band, you would probably be familiar with a few of the headaches I mentioned and appreciate a few of the suggestions. You take me to task for my opinions, but many of them are criticisms and hassles with which I have had to deal while booking and playing in my own band; I feel that my opinions are at least informed enough, if not qualified, to pass along to anyone thinking of trying their hand at music. Then you accuse me of hiding behind the anonymity of a blog, yet you have made yourself unreachable. I have debated whether or not to respond to your carefully contemplated missive, but in the end, my mood today is such that I decided you do in fact merit a moderate quotient of my ire. So fuck off. Or better yet, go start your own band and experience all the ups and downs of having one. I'm sure it will be awesome and everyone will love it.

--The Robo-Pirate

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Forty Pearls of Wisdom for the Aspiring Rock Star

For the one or possibly two people who read this, I should mention that recent events (my band's third anniversary, booking a great show and having to cancel because of a double booking) have given me cause to contemplate the lessons learned from having a band and managing it.

1. Start young
2. If you start young, don't give up.
3. If you want to make music your life, don't really fuck around with something like college. It tends to complicate adhering to number 4.
5. Avoid forming a band with people who have already accrued crushing personal debt.
6. Avoid forming a band with people who are in multiple bands.
7. Try to form a band with someone who has a van.
8. Maybe offer to pay part of that guy's insurance.
9. If you have a friend who is organized but doesn't play an instrument, have him do your booking. For some reason, clubs like this more than if you're booking your own band.
10. Avoid forming bands with people who have different views on recreational substance ingestion than you do.
11. If you form a band of "no drugs, no alcohol" types, make sure your music is completely original and groundbreaking, as Christian popular music is usually 6 months behind whatever is cool and trendy
13. Be wary about forming bands with dudes/girls who have serious relationships. Serious relationships may hinder your band down the road.
14. Don't suck. If you do, come to terms with that and figure out how to get better.
15. Be from Hawaii and get Volcom to give you clothes and a record deal. tour often, get chicks to dig you. Being good looking helps.
16. Find a practice space that is not dependent on your buddy getting off work in time to open the garage.
17. Network, but don't be a jerk about it. In other words, don't spam.
18. Educate yourself musically.
19. Don't make a punk band because you like Good Charlotte. We've had enough of you already, when you formed a band and called yourself Good Charlotte.
20. Don't make an emo band. Chances are, you have never listened to Fugazi or Sunny Day Real Estate, and are actually forming a band in the vein of Taking Back the Story of the Yellowcard on Thursday. This inspiration has more in common with 98 Degrees and N'Sync than it does Fugazi.
22. If you decide to "express yourself" via peculiar onstage attire such as makeup or huge pants covered in unnecessary zippers, music might not be for you, but I'm pretty sure the circus is always taking applications.
23. The service industry is the second best and most convenient side job you can have while being in bands. Working at restaurants/bars is also a great way to get laid.
24. Don't give your band a gay name. For examples of gay names, see the DFW metal scene.
25. Play often, but don't oversaturate the market.
26. That friend who's organized enough to do your booking? Be nice to him. Buy him beer/lapdances/hamburgers/etc., because if you piss him off and he quits, you're on your own, and booking your own band can leech all the fun out of it.
27. If you are ugly, chances are a band can raise your chances of getting laid, but you will still be ugly.
28. Onstage, your band must be largely unified in terms of style. Try matching suits, or vintage clothes. I don't know why no one has thought to do this.
29. Don't cite U2 as one of your influences. Citing the Beatles is hard to avoid, but U2 blows.
30. If your website compares you to the famous band or performer you are ripping off, just fucking quit, because either your are not ripping him or her off effectively enough for your fans to realize this, or you think they are stupid, in which case you may have a future in A&R.
31. Don't bore people at after parties about your "art." Especially if you make art in addition to playing in a band. Unless you are named Ray and your band is named the Me-Thinks, in which case, everybody needs to gather 'round.
32. Be nice to people who come to your shows, and be appreciative.
33. B.C. Rich guitars might as well be sold from fantasy knife catalogs. If you buy one, be prepared for the consequences, unless you only plan on playing for your Dungeons & Dragons group.
34. Don't be that guy who goes into guitar center and plays a medley of hotlixxx while trying out instruments. That guy is annoying and is probably a huge douche.
35. If you are that guy, why not just work at Guitar Center?
36. Do you play guitar and wear huge pants? Stop reading this. Your Taco Bell uniform needs to be febreezed before you go to work.
37. If you place an ad in your city's alternative paper that says, "_______ seeking to form heavy groove-oriented band.Inf. incl. TOOL NIRVANA U2 RHCP ZEPPELIN THE BEATLES serious musicians only, no slackers," see numbers 34-36.
38. Cover bands make money. Real bands get laid.
39. It's okay for cover bands to have stupid names. In fact, it's practically a rule.
40. If you show up at a party comprised of local scenesters who are outside your clique (this happens when you are a big-fish-in-a-little-pond/major-label-casualty/pretentious-asshole/etc.), don't pick up one of their acoustic guitars and enthrall your personal entourage with radiohead covers.

This list will be subject to future amendments, because having a local band will always be conducive to endless hassles, setbacks, and headaches.

The Robo-pirate