Friday, September 29, 2006

Modern Man, or How I Became a 21-Century Digital Boy

I've been listening to Bad Religion a lot lately. I run hot and cold with this band, and here's why. When I like them, it's because they're fast and tight and the vocal harmonies soar like a squadron of leather-jacketed guardian angels. When I don't like them, it's because I get tired of Greg Graffin's humorless preaching. NOFX is pretty didactic, too, but At least Fat Mike is a smartass. A lot of the time, Greg Graffin's lyrics come across like a surgeon-general's warning--dire, informative, and kind of overbearing.

In any case, I think Against the Grain is their best record, and it's the one I've been listening to the most. Bad Religion are usually credited with extending L.A. punk rock long past its expiration date, and Against the Grain is a prime example of why. I bought it my junior year in high school ('94-'95), and I credit it for steering me away from bands like Bush. It's arguably the pinnacle of their career (bummer, since it came out sixteen years ago), not only because it features most of the original lineup (admittedly this is a dumb reason to like a record), but because the songs are universally good. Graffin's harmonies sound like a punk rock barber shop quartet. Mr. Bret's solos stick in your head like metastisized brain tumors.* The songs attack with the speed and precision of a team of ninja. It's intelligent, introspective and anthemic, without resorting to the chumpy bro-hymns of Pennywise.**

Following this album, the band signed with Atlantic. I listened to the first two of these albums while in college, and I didn't care for them at all. I missed out on the next two completely, and even when they went back to Epitaph, I've only had a casual interest in their most recent offerings. Though it's remarkable that they continue to churn out albums, I think there's little point in checking them out beyond this one. Okay--Generator is worth a listen, too, but for my money, I remain Against the Grain.

--The Robo-Pirate

*and I challenge everyone to find a more unpleasant simile.
**Imagine a bunch of Orange County frat guys yelling OHHHHHHH/OHHHH OHHHH OHHHHHHHHHH/OHHHHHHH OHHHH OHH OHH OHHHHHHHHHH along with this guy. That's a chumpy bro-hymn.+

+For the record, I love Pennywise.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


From the people who sold you the Bug Vac comes Total Pool Anarchy, or, if you prefer, the Bumper Blaster. It's a motorized, inflatable bumper boat with a powerful water cannon on it.

You guys are in so much trouble next summer.

--The Robo-Pirate

Top ten places to hide if you are able to turn invisible

1. In plain sight.

2. Right under her nose.

3. Anywhere.

4. Everywhere.

5. The Oval Office.

6. Wherever you want.

7. Mervyn's.

8. The video arcade around closing time

9. Your favorite bar.

10. The scene of the crime.

--The Robo-Pirate

This was Nerdingle P. Nerdlinger's idea.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

On Verticals, Q1, Q2, and Other Nonsense

It's not anyone's fault, but hearing conference calls makes me want to put an icepick in my ear.

--The Robo-Pirate

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New record day!

Downloaded one, got the other free.

Blood Mountain by Mastodon

Fucking intense. A concept album about ascending some perilous mountain. A bunch of scary songs about monsters. And even crazier drumming than on Leviathan. Remember the shiver you got the first time you heard "The Thing That Should Not Be" off of Master of Puppets? Here, those goosebumps are named "Circle of the Cysquatch" and "Bladecatcher." I'd like to buy the new Mars Volta album and see how the two stack up, as the musicianship is probably equal between both bands, but I have a feeling that the ideas here are a lot more interesting. I hear Amputechture is just a bunch of noodling. With the exception of Black Flag, there is no other band more aptly named than Mastodon. Even if you don't like anything heavy, you should give this a listen. And if you get it on iTunes, you get a video with it.

No Shame by Pepper

Fucking blows. It's hard to be worse than the last one, but you guys did it. Maybe you should stop working with 311. Or if you didn't then maybe just start copying them, as even that would be an improvement on these tunes. The first track fools you into thinking that you're getting some saccharine Hawaiian reggae tunes, but then the record turns into radio-sychophantic Chili Peppers posturing minus the chops. I read an interview with Kaleo, the guitarist, and he said that on this one, they were heading back to the Police-by-way-of-Po Hana fusion found on Kona Town, but that turned into a bit of a fib. Pepper used to know what a hook is; for all the Clear Channel courting going on here, you'd think they'd have at least recycled one or two. The best song here is "Lost in America" which traipses through the speakers in the same flip flops LBDA blew out in "DJs" and "Life Goes On." It's not great, but relative to the rest, it might as well have been off of Pet Sounds. Did I mention there are annoying skits? Well, there are. I hate skits, and on No Shame, there are three of them.

I like Pepper. I really do. They are great live. I love Kona Town, and I can even find nice things to say about In With the Old. This new one, thoug--it's a bit of a steaming pile.

--The Robo-Pirate

Monday, September 25, 2006

Wanna be in a band?

Back when my musical endeavors were limited to annoying dorm neighbors with my repeated mistakes on my bass (live and don't learn, that's me), I had certain misconceptions about being in a band. I thought bands lived an existence of never-ending parties, piles of makeout girls and all the free snacks you could gobble. Oh, and I imagined there were bouts of playing music as well.

I never imagined hassles such as expensive amp tubes, weirdo soundguys, amnesiac promoters or press kits. Now most of those things don’t bother me that much, but I will never, ever enjoy compiling press kits. They are easily the most odious band chore, and this includes carrying speaker cabs up multiple flights of stairs.

I hate them for several reasons, and if you’ve ever been in a band, you’ll probably agree. The first is that I firmly believe that everything included in a press kit (photo, bio, clippings, occasional promotional item, oh and music sampler) except the CD gets thrown in the trash.*
I hate having to mail all that crap to someone, because it costs money, and it usually amounts to nothing. There is more value in giving money to a homeless guy than producing and mailing a press kit, because at least giving money to a homeless guy means that someone will get drunk later. Paying to make and mail press kits is tantamount to wiping my ass with five dollar bills.

Press kits also lie. Since they are basically a band resume, they are rife with exaggerations (DV's is no exception to this), and I presume that they are universally similar for every local band. For example, at some point in their career, a local band that is any good will get to open for a national band, providing them for a possible half-truth to include in their bio or press clippings. I know of a band around here that gets to play the Ernie Ball stage at the Warped Tour every year because they have a well-connected manager. Their bio alleges that they have shared the stage with bands such as Bad Religion, Dropkick Murphys, Rancid and all the other mainstage headliners. This is a white lie, but it's a lie nevertheless. They are playing the same event, but the Ernie Ball stage is pretty far away from where the headliners are. They weren’t sharing the stage with anyone other than the same people they’ve shared the stage with in Flower Mound, Addison or various roller rinks.

Then there’s the universal press kit fib about packing all the local clubs. Sometimes this is technically true, but it's almost always subjective. We packed Headhunters in Austin. This is totally true. But it was the patio, which is tiny. Not that I'm complaining about this; I thought it was pretty rad, and I think the club did too. But I hate having to gently fabricate the size of out of town crowds for the sake of maybe (read: probably not) opening for Pepper or Slightly Stoopid. I feel like it's for a good cause, and if it's fudging just a little, I guess it's okay, but it would be great if I could just tell the truth: “yes we have big crowds at home. Yes we have big crowds in a couple other places. Give us a chance to make a big crowd at your club. It will probably take a few shows though, just so you know.”

As if their potential for disposal, wasteful cost and inherent stretching of the truth weren’t enough to make them a total beating, unwritten press kit law states that you are supposed to include a band photo. Why a photo is important is beyond me, but I know this booking guy around here who passed me the following insider tip:

“You can say you played with whoever, but that doesn’t mean anything. It’s much more valuable to
have a professional, 8X10 black-and-white.”

You’d think that a CD would be a better indication of what a band might do for your club, but nope, apparently it’s a headshot.

Our press picture is three years old anyway, so last Friday, we took some new pictures. We used a professional photographer (our friend Kerrie, friendship thereby making her affordable) and took them at our friend Ira’s house, because he has a rad backyard with two homemade bars. This seemed like the most natural setting for us, but it really doesn’t matter how they turn out, because they will still be an opportunity for mockery. See, this website called Rock and Roll Confidential has a section called The Hall of Douchebags,” which is a huge archive full of the terrible press photos of presumably awful local bands. RaRC merely points out the obvious, that local band press photos are intrinsically hilarious. As such, press kit photos are pretty much a landmine that you, as a band, willingly bury, arm and step on. If you go to that site (be prepared to waste a good hour or so), you’ll find that the person who rips on all these pics is generally right on the money. Press kit photos all look pretty tired. Their settings are usually some laughably stereotypical locale (brick wall, alley formed by brick walls, chain-link fences, train tracks, or a combination of all of these), and when they aren’t, their situation is totally removed from anything that has to do with the band, or for that matter, anything that has to do with reality. This is why Kerrie shot us standing on top of the Grampus, because standing up there was actively ridiculous. We have no reason whatsoever to be on top of the van. We would never play a show from atop the van, nor would we ever just hang out up there. But we did it anyway, at my behest. Anyway, I was drunk. It sounded like a good idea at the time.

Unless a band is comprised of strippers or aliens, no one should really give a flying crippled crap what it looks like. Well, unless it’s a rockabilly band, I suppose. Image seems to be pretty important to rockabilly people. But it’s not like you’d use our mugs to sell tickets anyway. We’re a fat guy, a slightly less fat guy and a short guy. If anything, our press kit photo might be detrimental to getting out of town shows. And as proof to this point, some of the bands on the Hall of Douchebags might be worth listening to (this is completely for the sake of argument), but you can bet I’d never book them. If we show up there (and you can bet I’ll submit our picture), I’ll be sure to let you know.

In the meantime, we will put these things together, stick them in the mailbox and hope for the best. It can’t be any worse than wishing for winning lottery tickets.

Or giving money to the homeless.

--The Robo-Pirate
*if you’re lucky.

This is my favorite one.

And for those from Fort Worth, here's Pimpadelic, being terrible.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Yes, dude, you are totally creepy.

My friend and surrogate older sister Danielle sent me this link about a computer fix-it guy who claims to be non-creepy. To be fair, his rates are pretty cheap. But then again, so are you if you hire him.

--The Robo-Pirate

In case you didn't bother clicking the link, some guy put an ad up on Craig's List about how he'll fix your PC if you let him touch your boobs. Now don't you want to read the article?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wants some eggs? I made 'em myself!

Sweaty McNerdingle sent me the link to the Wikipedia article on flatulence (and now I have Jen's full attention). Before you roll your eyes and make a comment along the lines of "oh, I bet that's full of facts,"* the article cites various works by people whose names are followed by a comma and combinations of capital letters, which means they are knowledgeable and probably a scientist.

Anyway, it has a section on how to make fart-fomenting foods less rebellious. This involves doing things like fermenting beans and then boiling more of them in the liquor** made from fermenting the previous batch.

For one thing, that's a lot of trouble to go to just for some friggin' beans.

And for another thing, what's the point of taking the music out of the fruit?

I'm just saying is all.

--The Robo-Pirate

*Or, "you would write another blog about farts."
**Booze from beans? Stranger things have happened. I heard they made medicine out of sandwich mold.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Muslim extemists are titty babies

The quote below comes from a follow-up story to the one about the Pope pissing off Muslims by quoting dead emperors. For greater emphasis, I have occluded the most astounding portion of the quote through sophisticated coding techniques. To achieve the MAXIMUM LEVEL of incredulity, highlight the area immediately following "the" and deliberately and slowly drag across. Have fun!

"In Iraq, where an effigy of the pope was burned Monday, parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani called his apology 'inadequate and not commensurate with the MORAL DAMAGE CAUSED TO MUSLIM'S FEELINGS'."

Moral damage caused to Muslim's feelings? Is that what this is about? Hurt feelings? Are you guys in kindergarten? I had no idea that Islamic fundamentalists were so sensitive. It's like you're a bunch of pissy gay guys. Even Richard Simmons is annoyed.

Honestly. The Pope said he was sorry--what more do you want?

You don't see the Western world getting bent out of shape over any of your remarks*, and you've been calling us the Great Satan for almost thirty years. Quit being such fucking babies, Extremists. We have cartoons over here that devote entire episodes to poking fun at Jesus, and you don't see anyone getting set on fire. Maybe you should lighten up. It would solve a lot of problems for everyone.

I'm just saying is all.

--The Robo-Pirate

*Blowing us up , however, tends to raise our ire considerably. It would be great if you'd knock that shit off. Maybe we'd even get out of your country. If it were up to me, we'd be out today.

Swedish Chef

You know you're a crappy cook when you manage to make something cooked in a crockpot taste terrible. I know this to be true because the chicken I simmered in mine all day yesterday was pretty unappetizing.

Before you ask, the chicken wasn't bad. It had five days until it expired. I also chopped up part of a garlic clove and half an onion and dumped them in there with some cayenne pepper, so it had some seasoning.

For whatever reason, this combination caused a blue-gray film to appear on some parts of the chicken. Most people probably toss their chicken if it develops weird crockpot scum, but when one is more-or-less a bipedal carp, one keeps an open mind. As the nausea started to roil in my belly, I jotted a quick note in my journal detailing what I ate in case I happened to die during the night.

I should probably stick to making toast.

--The Robo-Pirate

Monday, September 18, 2006

In today's fatwah news...

Despite the fact that I am of Irish and Mexican extraction, I am not Catholic. I am allowed to eat steak 365 days out of the year. I can make jokes about Pope Palpatine I and not feel bad. Prophylactics are fine with me, communion bread is merely a metaphor, and my religious leaders don't have to be gay, because they can marry a wife and sire as many self-destructive children as they want.

As a non-Catholic, I can live my life as objectively as I want, and this is why I find myself objectively siding with the Pope after reading the news this morning.

Last week, the Pope made some remarks about Islam. Now everyone knows that saying anything about Islam that is not a gushing endorsement is asking for trouble, but this did not deter him from quoting the anti-muslim remarks of a Byzantine emperor to some German professors. In case you don't know anything about the Byzantine Empire, it was the Greek half of the Roman empire, and it crapped out in the 1450s when the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople. In case you don't know anything about the Ottoman Turks, they were Muslims who conquered and held onto big chunks of Eastern Europe and the Middle East, who crapped out in the 1920s after the Central Powers lost WWI. These facts are more than mere trivia, because they offer a shade of explanation as to why someone would say such a thing about Islam.

Now, if you read the news, you'll discover that the sorts of Muslims who get fired up about things such as editorial cartoons or US invasions of Iraq have little appreciation for context and wouldn't recognize irony if it came and shit in their mouths. The quote that has elicited death-threats and firebombed churches has to do with Islam being "evil and inhuman," spreading its faith "by the sword."

Not a nice thing to say about Islam, especially when the followers of your own religion have spread their faith by sword, virus and bullet all over the world for almost a thousand years. But still, if you consider the context, making such remarks about a faith that's knocking on your city's gates with torches and scimitars is not all that crazy. If Ottoman Turks were massing to conquer my empire, I think I'd be a little testy myself.

But never mind that. Islamic extremists have no use for history when it doesn't serve their purposes. If they bothered to read a little further, they'd discover that Pope Palpatine (by way of an emperor who has been dead for like 700 years) was pointing out historical fact: Islam was spread regionally via military campaign. If not for Muhammed's army, pilgrimages to Mecca would be a lot harder. But moreover, why would this even bother a fundamentalist? Are they mad because someone implied that they are violent? If the Pope's remarks are untrue, then why does their official response assert that "God will help Muslims conquer Rome"? That sounds like spreading faith by the sword to me.

Having grown up in a Christian church, I am well aware of the compartmentalization of dogma. A lot of times, books of faith tend to be treated as a sort of idealogical buffet table--eat what you want, ignore what you don't. Obviously, Islam is no different, because from what I have always understood, Muhammed never rejected Judaism or Christianity, but instead thought of them as complementary faiths. Clearly, this is lost on a few.

--The Robo-Pirate

Note: In case you missed the link up there, you can read the story here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Jealous Again

If you look over to the right at the list of blogs I read, you'll see a link to Dooce. Since you might not know what Dooce is, I'll explain briefly.

Dooce is a blog written by a married woman in Utah named Heather Armstrong. Way back in like 2002, she got fired from her web design job in L.A. for blogging about her co-workers. I laud her, without a shred of sarcasm, as a talented writer, and she frequently writes a phrase or line that I would cut off a toe to have thought up. Her blog is at least as funny as it is self-indulgent, but what's most compelling is that its popularity has allowed her and her husband to become self-employed. She flies all over the place speaking about women-oriented blogging, and generally has it pretty sweet.

I was hesitant to link to her, because A), it's not like she needs another link, and B), I don't always agree with what she's doing. She is bipolar or something, and she had a miserable bout of post-partum depression, and her child is difficult, and she writes about this and a lot of the time her posts are funny. But the part I find ridiculous is that she makes a living off her blog.

Now I don't find fault with that in an of itself. If I could pay my bills (or even a bill) with this blog, I would be on here boring everyone to tears five times a day. What I take issue with is that she complains (albeit humorously) about a lot of stuff. She needs her meds. Her kid is bratty. She doesn't have insurance (welcome to self-employment!). The pipes burst. Her TiVo screwed up. Blah blah blah. In other words, it's the sort of thing that happens to plenty of other people (men, not just women) who have annoying children and plumbing mishaps, but who also have to keep their day jobs, because they don't get to sit around listening to Interpol while ad revenue keeps the lights on.

If you've detected a bit of envy within the paragraphs above, consider yourself sensitive and perceptive. Like I said, I'd love to make a living off this. If traffic merited it, you can bet there would be ads for movies and bonerpills and whatever else alongside the link to Valient Thorr. I'd think you guys would understand. I would not, however, bitch and moan about everything without giving thanks to God for my fortunate new career.

You know what? Fuck it. She makes me laugh most of the time. Her kid is adorable, and I admire her husband's patience. He seems like a pretty cool guy, especially to weather his wife's meltdowns. What really pissed in my cheerios this morning was this post. It's about how she dated a guy who turned out to be gay and broke up with a different guy who turned out to be against gays. That part was funny, but the thing that irked me was her opening reference to her friend Maggie's recently published book, which apparently is a list of 100 better blog topics.

Really? You wrote a book on blog topics? Do you also watch commercials about commercials or click on links advertising free porn that link to more links advertising free porn?

This is what I think is stupid, and ultimately why I am jealously bothered by Heather Armstrong's (or at least her friend Maggie's) source of income. A 112-page list of blog ideas is not something anyone needs to buy, and shame on you for thinking someone would (as of this writing, I suspect that her inventory has already been cleared). The book's main title is No One Cares What You Had for Lunch. Well, what people care about is totally subjective, and I'll bet, Maggie, that you've probably blogged about some pretty uninteresting topics yourself . I don't care, for instance, what Heather Armstrong watched on TV last night, yet she persists in writing about it, and I persist in reading about it. In context, what you two girls are doing is making the mundane worth reading about, which I think is a better bit of advice than a list of topic suggestions. If you wanted to do that, why not teach a 9th grade remedial English class?

I'm just saying is all.

--The Robo-Pirate

Then again, what do I know? Dooce is obviously doing something right.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

If you're wondering why that white guy is pouring his 40oz on the lawn...'s because today is the 10th anniversary of Tupac Shakur's untimely demise. Or, if you suscribe to certain conspiracy theories (now there's a newsletter!), it's the 10th anniversary of Tupac's absconding to the underground.

"I ain't mad at ya."

--The Robo-Pirate

Look! Fake news based upon real news! In the style of a more popular website named after a vegetable that makes you cry!

World's richest trailer-park queen gives birth to additional wailing mouth

By THE ROBO-PIRATE, Fake AP Special Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Celebrity redneck Britney Spears fired out another baby yesterday, practically on the heels of her last one, who is not yet a year old. Said Britney, "Since I ruined my career with my marriage, I figure the easiset way to remain in the limelight is to continue to have babies and entertain the public with my spectacular parenting skills."

After taking some publicity photos with the baby, Spears had him wrapped in a bathtowel and carefully set him on a laundry room shelf. "He'll come down when he's ready," she said.

Her husband, 28 year-old Kevin Federline, appeared thrilled about the latest addition to his expanding brood. "Yo, if Brit can have a baby every year, I'll have like three kids by the time I'm thirty, dog. That's bangin'!" After briefly conferring with chief handler AJ Willis, Federline remarked, "Yo, AJ say I already has three kids. My bad. So I guess if she has two more babies, then I be havin' like five kids."

When asked about her views on the ethical repercussions of passing more Federline genes into the general populace, Spears said, "Y'all!"

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Worst Blog Ever

I recently ran across "Aix-en-Provence" while doing some work. I think that's where there are cave paintings. Anyway, it reminded me about how people still manage to learn French despite its extra letters and difficulty in pronunciation. That made me think about how people still manage to learn Klingon, despite its extra letters and difficulty in pronunciation. And then that made me wonder if people who bother to learn Klingon already know practical languages such as Spanish or Latin, because if they don't, they are totally wasting their lives.

I'm just saying is all.

--The Robo-Pirate

Monday, September 11, 2006

Oh, and one more thing. Richard Branson is a Genius.

Everyone needs to go to a Virgin Megastore and buy something, because Richard Branson is a clever man.

He got wind of Paris Hilton's announcement of intended arrogance, and totally preempted her vanity. Click this link, if you ignored the one above. There's a reason why he's a billionaire, and I think it's because of his prank ingenuity.

--The Robo-Pirate

It begins

I got up at six this morning and did not reset the alarm and go back to sleep. After months of making excuses and talking about it and doing research and reading and putting it off, I started writing my comic book. It's about a rock band who gets kidnapped and marooned in another galaxy. Before I had to leave for work, I plotted two pages (the prologue), and I am totally stoked. I was pissed that I had to leave it. Stephen King talks about how his job is basically to play pretend for eight hours a day, and I now I know what he's talking about.

--The Robo-Pirate

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

On the same thing a bunch of other people blogged about yesterday.

Yesterday, in heaven, Ben Franklin met a cheery new arrival by the name of Steve Irwin. Said Mr. Franklin, "Pleased to meet you, friend. How, pray tell, did you spend your time while traversing that mortal coil?"

"Glad you asked!" replied Steve. "I spent my whole life studying dangerous animals."

"Fascinating! So you were a naturalist then."

"Sort of. Basically, I walked around pulling tails."

God bless you, Steve. If God is good (and I believe that He is), He'll give you an all-access pass to Dinosaur Heaven.

--The Robo-Pirate