Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Google

If you look at the comments in the previous post, the fourth one takes issue with my and my friend Lauren's fun at the expense of the President's assumed lack of geographic knowledge. Okay fine. For all I know, George Bush is a geography wizard. It could be that he knows exactly where Carmen Sandiego is at all times, and if he doesn't, he can find her with the most basic clues. If that's the case, than I'm being unfair. I seriously doubt it, but whatever.

Regardless of what George Bush does or doesn't know about foreign capitals, it's obvious that his public articulation is laughably confused at best. Yesterday, he he told this lady on CNBC that he "occasionally" uses "the Google." Reread Lauren's first comment, and then say "the Google" in a generic foreign accent out loud; it will further prove her point. I used to know a kid from the Czech Republic whose favorite Nintendo game ever was "the Excited Bike." He probably uses "the Google," too.

But really, I'm just belaboring a point. Making fun of George Bush's elocution is an easy and tired target. Everyone has a slip of the tongue now and then, and some more often than others. Usually, though, those in the latter category don't fumble and backpedal their way into the Oval Office. In my previous post, I cited plenty of instances in which our disarmingly befuddled president has had dubious reign over the words plopping out of his mouth, but today I have video. I know it's not like Bush is the first President to sound confused, but at least Ronald Reagan* had an excuse, given that he was developing Alzheimer's. For Bush, what might have once been folksy charm has long since degenerated into country bumpkinism. In light of "the Google," I maintain that it's probably safe to assume that upon first hearing the word "Tbilisi," George Bush probably thought it was something he would be eating for dinner that night.

--The Robo-Pirate

And I see your most recent comment, Oh really?, but I maintain that he's still an idiot. If you read any of the articles I linked to, you'd find that he doesn't appear to think through what he says before making it public record. For a guy who has a teleprompter in front of him half the time, he makes a lot of mistakes, and that's pretty telling. And furthermore, I voted for him the first time around. I haven't been this disappointed in something I believed in since I found out Santa Claus was really my parents. I could forgive his public ineptitude if it wasn't constantly utilized to spin half-truths and outright lies.

*Plus, Ronald Reagan was a fantastically compelling speaker. Even Jim Wright, who hated the man, will acknowledge this if asked. And so you know, I did.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Stay the course. Repeat.

So you know all the great Presidents? You know, Lincoln, the Rooselvelts, that millionaire playboy who was shot in the head? Did they ever have to eat their words or retract previous statements? Because the one we have right now has to do this all the time. Currently, Bush and his smug cadre of lying self-servants are having to explain what his oft-repeated catch phrase "stay the course" really means.

Said President Bush, "The characterization of, you know, 'it's stay the course' is about a quarter right. 'Stay the course' means keep doing what your doing. My attitude is: Don't do what you're doing if it's not working -- change. 'Stay the course' also means don't leave before the job is done."

I had no idea that "stay the course" was such a mutable phrase. Bush makes its meaning as maleable as the word "smurf."

"Laura, hon, would you stay the course with the ketchup?"

"Oh man, after all them Dr. Peppers, I have to stay the course big time!"

"If we stay the course about these Al Queda ties, they'll have to go along with the invasion."

Sure, it's probably just semantics, but underneath it all, I think the President's usage of the phrase belies one ultimate truth:

"This is way harder than Dick and Karl made it out to be. I have no idea what I'm doing."

--The Robo-Pirate

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Exuberance and optimism all because of some french fry oil.

Check this out! Dakine, which makes skateboards and snowboards and the smelly beanie I wear in the winter is sending its skate team up the West Coast in a vegetable oil-fueled RV! Last year, Surfing ran a story about the Malloy brothers and some other guys hitting a bunch of breaks from Oregon to Baha in a bio-fueled truck, and my interest in this stuff was really piqued. I also know this guy who runs his truck on bio-diesel, and he swears by it. Maybe it really is a way for the rest of us to break free from the oilogarchy that's ru(i)nning our country.

Go to Greasenotgas.com and read about it.

--The Robo-Pirate

Monday, October 23, 2006


Thanks, MySpace ad, but I'm all stocked up on ringtones. You can take your rapid-mouse-clicking games and shove them up your ass.

--The Robo-Pirate

Gym Class Heroes Kick Ass or Damn I Wish I'd Thought of That #133

From "It's OK, but Just This Once!" off Gym Class Heroes' recent LP, As Cruel As School Children:

"I got no time to player hate--

I'm the type to crash your party with Teddy Ruxpin and a Slayer tape."

Probably the coolest line I'll hear all month.

--The Robo-Pirate


This band is tight, like Bob Cratchet's Christmas budget. For those of us in DFW, they're coming to Will Rogers Auditorium on 11/21, opening for the crappy All-American Rejects. Between this show and The Sword on the 5th, November is looking to be pretty rad.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Where I talk about No Shame, Pepper's new album. And also how editors don't always know best.

This is the original draft of my review of No Shame, the new Pepper album. You can click here and read how the editor hacked it up. In his defense, it could have been broken up a little bit, but I maintain that the content in my original is way better than the published draft. I'm just saying is all.

Pepper, No Shame

There’s this scene in Blue Crush where surfer girl Anne-Marie Chadwick goes to rescue her lil’ sis Penny from a party at the Volcom house on Oahu’s North Shore. And in the movie, Penny is understandably pissed, because her big sister is ripping her out of what appears to be a pretty cool party, abundant with kegs, hot chicks and gnarly locals ripping on a half-pipe. The whole movie paints Hawaiian surf culture as a constant pursuit of leisure, a breezy drink-till-it’s-time-to-check-the lineup sort of lifestyle. Kona Town, the second record by Kona, Hawaii’s Pepper, encapsulated that vibe with its blend of reggaefied rock and boozy aloha spirit--the record is equal parts double-vision party and hangover hindsight. In short, it felt real.

Unfortunately, Pepper seems to have lost their way home. They moved to San Diego in ‘99. They’ve been on the road for five or six years. They made a fan-alienating record with Ron St. Germaine. On No Shame, their fourth outing and first on a major label, there are glimmers of Kona Town, as well as some interesting forays into new horizons (check the single-minded bounce of “No Control”), but a lot of the time, the songs sound alternately forced and distracted. It’s not a bad record, but the band’s talents seem a little misappropriated.

Pepper normally gets knocked around for ripping off Sublime, but this isn’t entirely fair. While dual frontmen Kaleo Wasserman (guitar) and Brett Bolinger (bass) both sing in the same breathy tenor as Bradley Nowell, Bollinger’s voice has the lecherous richness that Nowell sometimes lacked. Besides—it’s far more obvious that they’ve been stealing from the Police.

Predictably, the tracks on No Shame that sound like a Police song are the best ones. Once you skip the annoying intro skit (and there are two more of these, which is never a good sign), the album kicks off with “Bring Me Along,” a sunny reggae shuffle that grabs its licks from “Every Breath You Take” and its heritage from island acts such as Po’ Hana. The guitars echo for miles, the bass flows like mercury and after the next song is finished, you’re fooled into thinking that Pepper wised up and made another Hawaiian record. “Lost in America,” a hooky ode to life on the road perpetuates the ruse, but when the hang-loose varnish starts to crack, a disingenuous grab for radio airplay becomes apparent. It’s disingenuous, because the track is bookended by another stupid skit, the only purpose of which is to distract the listener from the jarring shift of “Your Face,” a gaudy slab of overproduced pop. After you’ve settled into the stripped-down space of a couple clean guitars, bass and drums, getting slammed with a bunch of tacky overdubs and keyboards is pretty annoying.

From there, the album repeatedly shoots for the mainstream, but for the most part, it doesn’t even hit the backboard. “Like Your Style” is a corny attempt at a club hit. “Point and Shoot” is marred by unnecessary raunch. Plus, the last third is broken up with another unfunny skit. Apart from the plaintive low-key rocker of “Zicky’s Song,” the rest of the record tries too hard. It’s shameful that No Shame makes you sit through a bunch of phony grins to find the groove of a real feeling.

--The Robo-Pirate

Friday, October 13, 2006

Just an observation. We mean no harm.

A couple years ago, when I was looking into an Alternative Teacher Certification program (you know, because I was too stupid to have bothered to do this in college), I had to take a test at UT Dallas. It was on a Saturday, so I really didn't get a feel for the campus or the student population.

Last night, Darth Vato played at UT Dallas at the Pub, which is located within the student union building. Though it did resemble a pub, it served no alcohol. I could blather on with a lengthy discussion of form, function and purpose, but this is already a pretty boring post. Rather, I'd like to present my first impression of the students at UT Dallas. I always assumed that it was a commuter school, but there was a decent crowd, and the show itself was fun. We played like crap, though. I think this had something to do with sobriety, but I could be wrong.

Anyway, in pulling up to the load-in spot, we had passed three students talking on phones and to their friends. A fourth student walked past our van, talking on her phone. Kerry looked at me and said,

"I haven't heard any English yet."

--The Robo-Pirate

Thursday, October 12, 2006

As if watching giraffes have sex wasn't awkward enough.

Uh oh. Someone had better tell Jerry Faldwell. According to Reuters, there's a gay animal museum in Norway. The obvious implication here is that since animals aren't sentient, being the homogay is not a choice but a natural phenomenon, not unlike ball lightning or the aurora borealis.

From the article comes the following quote, which may be one of the funniest paragraphs I have ever read:
"One photograph shows two giant erect penises flailing above the water as two
male right whales rub together. Another shows a male giraffe mounting another
for sex, another describes homosexuality among beetles."
I think it's safe to assume that the mental image of swordfighting gay whales* was the furthest thing from your mind when you got out of bed today.

In any case, the next time you see a chimpanzee on rollerblades, you'll know that he's not just doing a bit.

--The Robo-Pirate

*or gayles, if you prefer.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Every time I watch Entourage, I wish I were an actor. One with a mansion. For almost a minute, I consider the possibility of taking acting classes and think that yeah, maybe this would be something I could do. And then, I remember that actors, though often talented, are almost always aggravating.

I'm not talking about Hollywood dickheads who spend twenty bucks to have a pack of cigarettes delivered to them. These people are as far-removed from my reality as the characters they play, and therefore, they hardly exist in three-dimensional space. I will never meet or know them because for all practical purposes, they don't exist outside a writer's imagination. In other words, there is no real Eva Longoria. When I see her on TV, graciously smiling and waving from within the safety of velvet ropes and red carpets, she is no more real to me than Homer Simpson.

Ac-TORS, however, have been flitting in and out of my life since high school. These people don't make it to Hollywood, though some of them move there. They do theater. And I fucking hate theater. It drives me nuts, what with all the over-acting, and the panting, and the rouge, and the delusions, and the drama that bleeds over from the production into real life.

In high school, I had a good friend who said frequently and with grave determination, "I'm going to be an actor." As if by making such definitive statements, one could make it so. "I'm going to acquire the hope diamond." POOF! Cursed blue diamond, right in my pocket. "I'm going to drive a German half-track." POOF! German half-track, right in my pocket. Same thing in college. I was friends with a few theater people, and a couple of them frequently said the same thing, usually with a nonchalance that suggested they were a little surprised that it hadn't happened already. And then one time, my friend Bryan, who WILLFULLY lived with three other theater dudes threw a party, and the TCU theater department showed up, and when I and my roommate arrived, I overheard one girl say to her friend, "who are those guys?" and her friend replied, "I don't know, but they're definitely not THEATER PEOPLE."

Geez, girls, how did you know? Was it because my pockets weren't rattling with bottles of anti-depressants?

So I find theater people universally annoying. Perhaps you are wondering, however, why I would bring this up. Well, this weekend, Darth Vato played in Galveston, which is a city south of Houston on the gulf. We normally have good shows there, but this one was sort of screwed up in that the opening band cancelled, we had to play for an extra hour (which means playing more covers, which I hate), and we had to compete with terrible metal bands in the adjacent room. But it wasn't a big deal for us, because we have electric instruments that can drown out other electric instruments. Unfortunately, this was not the case for the one-act play that went on before us.

You might think that I am using one-act play as a metaphor or a euphamism for a crappy band, but I'm not. Prior to us, two people, in costume, paced around each other spouting unfunny, circuitous dialogue in some play about a woman who thought she was a superhero. It was dumb and it was irritating, but ultimately, I just felt bad for them.

See, they got started around 9:00, shortly before the first metal band started sound checking in the other room, and it was as awkward as getting a boner in church. The situation sort of went like this:

DELUSIONAL ACTOR 1: So you're saying you're NOT Mrs. Barbara Stanwick of 1572 Lakeshore Drive....

DELUSIONAL ACTOR 2: No, I am Superwoman, and I am here to defeat the League of EEE-ville.


DA 1: But our files say that you ARE Mrs. Barbara Stanwick of 1572 Lakeshore Drive, married to Mike, mother of Jack, 7, and Mary, 5, and they say nothing about any "league of evil."

DA 2: Then your files, Doctor, are CLEARLY erroneous, and have probably been fabricated by the League of EEE-ville themselves!

THSMBIAR: JUGGEDAJUGGEDAJUGGAJUNNNNN!!!!! How you guys tonight? We're called A Dying Death of Dying...

And so on. It was uncomfortable, and it pretty much made the night a total gong show. The cellphones rang. The bar's phone rang. Detuned power chords rang. I finally bailed and went to the other room to watch teenagers with hair in their faces growl and chug away on crappy amps. But this was just as uncomfortable as the shitty play, as their crowd was as many moms as it was friends. The friends were politely standing, but the moms were doing the over-the-head-Michael-McDonald-concert-type claps. To tuneless, rhythmless hardcore.

The nice thing was that we still had some people come watch us, and we made more money than we were supposed to. Eric made us get up at eight the next morning and leave shortly thereafter so he could be back in time for the Cowboys/Eagles kickoff. This made me grouchy, but he really, really likes the Cowboys, so it wasn't like I had much of a choice. He says that the Cowboy's performance affects how the rest of the his week goes, and this makes very little sense to me, but whatever.

At least we weren't leaving early so he could make it to a one-act play.

--The Robo-Pirate

I saw The Departed. Holy fucking shit. Just go see it, all right?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Another partial retraction:

Midlake is from Denton. And Midlake is pretty great.

--The Robo-Pirate

I'm an idiot. No, really. I admit it freely.

I have had three hours sleep. This is partly because I'm an idiot. Here's why: Darth Vato played a dismal set in Denton last night. Denton is a funny city where all the cool music is supposed to have come from since around 5,000 B.C. I don't know--the only band from Denton that I've ever paid attention to is the Riverboat Gamblers, and I don't even like them that much. It has this gritty-looking, fairly liberal state university (University of North Texas), relatively famous for its music program. A lot of dudes with glasses and beards go to this school. They're all in bands, a lot of which are "interesting," which really means they are terrible. When someone raves about the latest noise-rock band from Denton, I automatically assume it's a matter of The Emperor's New Clothes.

Anyway, we get paid to play in Denton at this bar, and usually it's fun. Last night the crowd dwindled to tumbleweeds, and frankly, I would have rather stayed at home playing video games. I don't know why that show sucked. Kerry had to be in a meeting early this morning, so I got stuck settling money, and after receiving the check, I headed out. This was around 2;15.

Before I continue to the part where I'm exhausted because I'm an idiot, I need to explain how easily I get lost. You may have noticed that my blog alias implies an interest in pirates, and this might lead you to believe that I have a similar enthusiasm for maps. I do, in fact, love maps. But I get turned around really easily. One time, it took me four hours to get from San Francisco to Lodi, a trip that normally only takes about 90 minutes. Bottom line, I'm terrible with directions, and as such, I departed Denton on the wrong fork of I-35.

Now I-35E intersects I-30, which would have taken me home, but it intersects it at Dallas, which is around 30 miles from Fort Worth. Realizing that the ETA to my bed would now be 30 minutes later, I sought a way to cross over to I-35W. For no reason at all, I chose to drive through Lewisville, a suburb which I have never visited. In fact, there are only two things I know about Lewisville: a person who works at my company lives there and so do firemen who date TCU girls. And really, this latter fact is merely an assumption based upon a girl I knew 8 years ago. So really, I know nothing about Lewisville, least of all its relationship to I-35W, which, it turns out, is completely estranged.

Eventually, I ended up on the North of end of state highway 121. During the day, 121 is the parking lot that threads through a post-apocalyptic wasteland of chain restaurants and mega-car lots, but at 3 am, it's not too bad.

Around 4, I rolled into my apartment. You'd think that this ordeal would have compelled me to go to bed and forget the whole thing, but you'd be wrong. Recall first that I am an idiot. If the gallumphing narrative above does not adequately prove my assertion, then consider the following piece of information: when my ass dragged into my apartment this morning, I did not go directly to bed. Instead, I plopped into my couch,and played Xbox for another hour and fifteen minutes. So, rather than ardently chasing every minute of sleep between my arrival and my alarm's strident beeping, I chose instead to stay up even later making potions.

Now do you believe me?

--The Robo-Pirate

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

More fake news, this time from FUTURE.

Three months from now, when asked about the success of his stay at a plush Beverly Hills rehabilitation facility, former Congressional Representative Mark Foley (R, FL) replied, "Well, I've got that alcohol problem licked. I have no desire for a single drop of booze. But that pedophilia... Now that's a tough thing to shake." He quickly added, "Did I say pedophilia? I meant pageophilia--I mean, painkillerophilia. Yes. Painkillerophilia. That's a tough addiction to shake!"

Foley later told reporters that his forced exit from politics was "a blessing in disguise," and that he planned to write a "reflective memoir," of his time spent on Capitol Hill, retiring to an as-yet undetermined location. "But probably Thailand or Viet Nam--wherever that Gary Glitter guy went," he said.

--The Robo-Pirate

Monday, October 02, 2006

Last weekend recap, completed on Thursday. Lots of links are involved.

For those of you who don't know about driving from Fort Worth to Austin, here's the gist: it takes around three hours, give or take thirty minutes, depending on the weekend, the vehicle and passenger bladder capacity.

For Darth Vato, it's more like six.

On Friday, we left the Fort at six o'clock to play a midnight slot at a place called Headhunters. We stopped for Whataburgers in Waco, probably for twenty-five minutes. We should have been able to cruise into our motel, pounds some beers, and roll into the club for a longer-than-normal show.

Of course, the Texas Department of Transportation had other plans. It seems that between a place called Temple (which, based upon prior experience is not in Texas but the Twilight Zone) and Killeen, TXDOT decided to resurface I-35 and completely close it. As if that weren't enough, it also closed the frontage road at around the same point, shunting FOUR LANES of traffic into a four-way intersection. If anyone knows a chimp who is looking for work, I hear this office is hiring.

Thus, as a result of someone's terrible idea, traffic backed up for about twenty miles. Traversing this expanse took THREE FUCKING HOURS. You know that part in Independence Day when everyone's trying to leave D.C. because UFOs have blown the White House all to shit? Well that's sort of what this was like. Quoth Kerry, "There'd better be something up ahead that's pretty amazing. Like a bunch of dinosaurs. Having a picnic. Or breakdancing."

As the three of us typically manifest the maturity of an 8th grade health class, you can imagine that the boredom and frustration of such a hassle yielded predictably immature results.

We took pictures of me, sitting on the front of the Grampus, pretending to be a hood ornament.*

We took pictures of Eric and Kerry hanging, Singing in the Rain style, from the door-latch of the semi's trailer in front of us.

We took pictures of Ernie and Vanilla Jesus on said trailer.

We fashioned a urinal out of a plastic gallon jug, a cut-up Dasani bottle, gum and clear packing tape. Eric and I both used it, and Eric got pee on his leg. I blame it on the tape. The reason why packing tape is so named is because it is not good for anything else.

Darth Vato gleaned a few lessons from all of this. The first was that we, as a band, can never adequately prepare for anything. You'd think that allotting double the amount of time to arrive at a gig would be sufficient, but this is obviously not the case.

The second lesson learned was that you shouldn't fuck with semis. Especially when open containers are involved.

The final lesson is a matter of engineering. Regardless of what you've seen on television, chewing gum is not a viable sealant. I would expect that it isn't good for piecing together bombs, dikes, or crumbling marriages either, which are all lies perpetuated by the glass tit.

Miraculously, we made it to Austin by 12:45. Apparently, the soundguy or whatever role "Kenny" fulfilled pushed the bands back a bit, so we still got to play a set to a small, but enthusiastic crowd. From the jaws of defeat, ad nauseum.

After the show, we headed to Motel 6, where I'm pretty sure we witnessed the pre-production stages of a gang-bang movie, as we saw four shady dudes affectionately escorting a single female into an upstairs "suite." Kerry checked us in. "We're in room 213," he said. The tone in his voice suggested that Room 213 housed some ominous connotation; I truly don't pay attention to too many details in life, because apparently, 213 was the number of the apartment inhabited by Jeffrey Dahmer.

This really didn't bother me until Kerry turned on the TV, which was tuned to some channel running a documentary about modern cannibals. And of course, he had turned it on during the Jeffrey Dahmer segment.

I didn't really listen to the show, though if you judged that statement by the doodles I made on our beer cooler, you'd think I'd watched with rapt attention. The truth is, I always doodle creepy shit like that. It's what happens when you spend middle school learning to draw from comic books and then later discovering White Zombie album liners.

Anyway, that was Austin. It turned out pretty good, despite all of I-35's attempts to spoil our evening.

Houston was an easier trip. We took 290 to Kerry's dad's house, as he lives five minutes away from Fitzgerald's. It was a pretty drive, though we did run into some more construction. In Killing Yourself to Live, Chuck Klosterman makes this comment about how there will always be road construction and how this fact depresses him. I pretty much feel the same way.

The show at Fitzgerald's could have been a hassle, but it wasn't. Los Skarnales (the headliner upstairs) cancelled, which meant that five bands were crammed onto our downstairs bill. We had to go on 15 minutes earlier, but a bunch of our friends showed up in time, and we had a decent crowd. Better yet, the club asked us back, which makes the whole trip worthwhile. Later, Eric and I some friends went to Onion Creek, which is a bar that serves beer and Frito Pie. I ate half of Eric's, and then ordered my own. Needless to say, the pyrotechnics in my pants exceeded those of Cinco de Mayo and The Fourth of July combined. Later, I had to share a bed with Kerry (which is sort of like bunking with the San Andreas fault, since he causes the bed to quake by continuously jiggling his legs). He claims to have been awakened by the smell of one of my farts, but I think he's a just big fucking baby.

This coming weekend is Galveston. It's already starting out as a gong show, because the opening band cancelled and the Drew, the promoter asked me to find another one. I suggested The Burning Hotels, some friends from Fort Worth with whom I like to drink and talk shit.

"What do they sound like?" he said.

"Oh you know, kinda like the Strokes, you know like indie rock kind of," I said.

"Yeah...." he said. "I'm not really feeling that indie rock, bro."

In other words, the next time the proverbial emperor announces he has new clothes, I'm going to ask Drew if can see them or not. I probably don't need to tell you what his answer will be.

--The Robo-Pirate

*Except that hood ornaments aren't sweaty, usually.