Friday, December 29, 2006

German guy needs to pay better attention. (Joke about a German stereotype included)

I like to poke fun at Germans. I got really excited when I heard the hidden track on NOFX's most recent album, called "Insulted by Germans Again," The chorus goes, "Germans love to insult me/the whole country condescends/we call it arrogance/they call it making friends." Condescending Germans are hilarious. Anyway, Kerry sent me this Reuters story about a German guy who inadvertantly flew to Sydney, Montana while attempting to visit his girlfriend in Australia. The article is mildy amusing, especially given the German reputation for being efficient and meticulous (the kid does find it odd that he would travel to Australia via the US), but I was interested by what the author left out.

As everyone knows, everything in Australia is the reverse of what it is in the rest of the world. Its fish breathe air, its men have boobs and its summer lasts from December to February. The author subtly illustrates these differences by detailing the kid's traveling attire:

"Dressed for the Australian summer in t-shirt and shorts, Tobi Gutt left Germany on Saturday for a four-week holiday."

It's obvious to me where the editor's redlines fell, because that passage should have read:

"Dressed for the Australian summer in t-shirt, shorts, socks and sandals..."

--The Robo-Pirate

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

NorCal, the westernmost province of Redneckistan.

The short of it: went to a bar in my hometown with another hometown expat who lives in San Francisco. Came to the conclusion, in conjunction with evidence observed yesterday, that Northern California is at times just about as country as North Texas is. Thus, for the time being, I will be referring to the place in which I grew up as South Carolodi. Or maybe Lodisiana? I dunno. Pick your favorite. Slowdi is easier to say, but it doesn't convey the same sense of jerkoffs roaring past you in jacked-up F-250s. I mean seriously, it's the same NASCAR hats, same Calvin-pissing-on-whatever stickers, same same tacky goatees. If not for the weather and the scenery, I'd swear I never left cowtown.

--The Robo-Pirate

Oh, and also, Lodi is pronounced low-dye. Or load eye, if you prefer.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Dear God, I hope You're not just making this up as You go along.

After spending a wonderful Christmas morning with my family, I got around to reading my friend's blog. I hadn't been by in a while, and when I ran across the post linked here, I teared up. Fallen soldiers are tragic enough, but when casualities are personified beyond the dreary statistics of a headline, the emotional impact is always heavier.

Our military has suffered nearly 3,000 deaths. On an intellectual level, I understand that dying is an occupational hazard one assumes upon choosing to be a soldier. But that doesn't make stories like the one above any less heartbreaking.

Of course, I want this heartbreak to weigh upon the men who started this war with the same totality as the families of every person killed in battle. And maybe it does. Maybe I'm just sad, angry and presumptuous. Maybe I'm making unfair assumptions about our leaders. After all, what do I know about sacrifice, railing at them from the safety of a suburban home? What do I know about the pressures and guilt of running a country in time of war? How dare I presume to know the heart of men who send others to give their lives for their country? Well, President Bush, I guess I have to give you a pass, because I can't read your mind or hear your heart. But God can. I hope you and He are cool about all this.

And what of that, anyway? Given Bush's public proclamations of faith, I wonder what it is that he and God are actually talking about every morning. I hope he isn't asking for wisdom, because if he is, God doesn't seem to be listening. When I started this post, I was filled with righteous indignation, excited at the prospect of declaring "fuck you, President Bush" in big, bolded, angry capital letters. Now I am just sad and even a little frightened. If the President, whose faith is apparently embedded in his character, can't get an open channel, what hope have we who have lapsed into cynicism and doubt?

Maybe he isn't asking God for wisdom. Maybe he's asking for, I dunno, catfish filets or a cure for hiccups or something. I kinda hope that's the case, because I still like to think that God is a pragmatic being. I expect to get denied when I pray for two aces on a split pair of tens. However, wisdom in times of crisis is a very reasonable request, and I don't think God should be silent when His children come looking for some. I can handle it if this disastrous war is a function of Bush's praying for the wrong things. I am ill at ease, however, if he is praying for an end and God is saying no.

Then again, maybe God is counciling President Bush on the direction of the war. If that's the case, then the universe is way more existential than I am comfortable with.

Sorry to bum anybody out. Appreciate the moments with your family and friends, for God doesn't have a rhyme or reason that makes any sense. Life may turn according to His plan, but that doesn't make it any easier.


Feliz navidad!

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and R.I.P., James Brown! Show those stuffy angels what soul really means!

--The Robo-Pirate

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The end of my Wooderson phase. Funny pictures and title tags included!

I've been growing beards on and off for the past few years. Once they start to approach gnarly status, I try to trim them, fuck them up and then shave them off. I grow beards partly because I continue to get fatter; beards are good for several things, but they are really good at distracting people from added poundage. In fact, it's possible that Vikings and wizards grew gnarly beards because they were self-conscious about double-chins. Another reason why I grow beards is that they are totally awesome.

Anyway, I got rid of the beard and the accompanying longish non-haircut (seen here in this file photo) in an effort to look a little more professional for work. I had recently been pegged as a doppelganger for the Burger King, and while I did receive all the accolades you would expect, I was a little embarrassed when I had to lead a meeting looking like a roadie for Molly Hatchet. Trust me, it wasn't nearly as cool as it sounds. So I cleaned up, or rather I at least cleaned up the hair and the beard. I still kept the mustache.

Now mustaches can be cool, and I think mine falls within the parameters of coolness. Plus, I drive a shitty van, which practically demands that I have one. This isn't my first mustache, but it's the longest time I've kept one, post-beard. I thought I could hack it until the new year, but I bailed, and it went down the sink this morning.

Here's why:

Since Wednesday, I have been in Lodi visiting my family for Christmas. My stay has been punctuated by two developments. The first was a giant, underground, pulsating zit on my cheek right next to my nose. It is so large and red that if I were to stand on a traffic island, I'm confident that cars would stop and wait for the zit to turn green. When one's face has such a captivating topographic feature, it doesn't really need anything else to draw attention to it. So I started thinking, hey, you're going to be seeing relatives later--maybe you should lose the molestache.

The other development that sealed the deal was a trip I made to the scale. Now I know I've put on some weight. I tried on some old suit pants recently; the button and hook were about as likely to hook up as Jerry Falwell and Harvey Fierstein. Last time I checked, I was in the low 180s, but this time, the scale showed 197. And that was after I had been to the toilet. So I started jogging. I figured I'm here for a week; I might as well be productive, especially since I'll be eating (figurative language alert) copious amounts of crap for the next few days.

So there I was, running around my parents subdivision, calves clenching, sweat streaming, lungs giving me dirty looks. I had a motivational iPod mix that went from warm-up speed (Tijuana Brass Band) to Run to the Hills. I was pumped. I was driven. I was even visualizing. As I puffed past the neighborhood park, there were, several middle-schoolers pretending to play on the swingset. And in a fantastic example of karmic retribution, the lead-twerp said, "Nice mustache, douche."

"The kids these days!" I said to myself, quickly realizing that not only did I look like an old man, but I that I thought like one, too. And of course, because my life isn't a movie, I didn't stop to deliver any of the clever remarks I made in the imaginary scenarios that unfolded in my head as I ran away. But here they are, anyway, and writing them out makes me feel twice as lame, if that is even possible.

Scenario 1:

"Nice mustache, douche!"

"Thanks! Good thing for you that I have one."

"Why's that?"

"Because if I shave it off, I'm overcome with an uncontrollable urge to kill kids."

Scenario 2:

"Nice mustache, douche!"

"Thanks! It looks great on your mom's vagina!"

Scenario 3:

"Nice mustache, douche!"

"What must--oh..... I must have just grown it."

"What do you mean just grown it?"

"Well, my mustache is sort of a warning. It immediately appears in the presence of kids who are going to grow up to be ballsucking queers."

Scenario 4:

"Nice mustache, douche!"

"Thanks. Say, you know how certain frogs are brightly colored to warn predators not to bother them, you know because they're poisonous?"


"Well, see, mustaches are like that because they're supposed to let you know that I like to slap the shit out of smartass little kids."

Woulda, coulda shoulda... and the mustache, no longer mighty in the sum of its parts, swirled about the porcelain basin, drowning in rusty hole of shame.

Guess I'll get started on the next one.

--The Robo-Pirate

Look, a post! In half-assed list format!

A List of Super-Rare Wishlist Items That You Probably Won't Get No Matter How Good You Are

1. Enriched uranium

2. Dilithium crystals

3. Stradivarius violin (apparently you can get one here.)

4. Clemency

5. Liver transplant

6. Cop when you need one

7. Chance to do college over

8. Wisecracking pet griffin

9. Eternal youth for Bob Barker

10. Grimace-hide cowboy boots

11. Invulnerability

12. Wings that work

13. Bill Waterson's return

14. Dino DNA!

15. For mopey, one-handed whiner to join you and rule the galaxy as father and son

16. A way out of this crappy deal memo

17. A "yes" answer to your prayer

18. For uppity rock critic to like your band

19. Indiana Jones IV

20. For 2008 to roll around so you can retire to your Crawford ranch and finally build that potato gun.

--The Robo-Pirate

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Rest in peace, Peter Boyle.


The Robo-Pirate

The stirrup pants of the '00s

Dear women who insist on wearing gauchos,

In ten years, when VH1 decides it's time to reinvent I Love the '80s for the aughts, I predict that M'onique, Loni Love or another similarly unfunny comedian will go on and on about how gauchos were terrible. And while I probably won't laugh (unless they pick Wanda Sikes), I will agree with them. Seriously. These pants aren't doing anyone any favors. I've often said that I have about as much business telling a woman how to look as a woman has telling me how to drive, but gauchos are a fashion statement that manages to embarrass both the wearer and the observer. When I see them clinging ferociously to every topographic feature of a woman's ass, I feel shame for both of us. It's the same feeling I get when I get caught staring at a fat man with a toupee or a wiener dog in a sweater.

You could put gauchos on Adriana Lima, and they would still make her look ridiculous. If you look at the link here, you'll see what I'm talking about. Put that lady in anything else, and she'd be fighting off prom dates with a machete. The pants successfully make her lower half look like it belongs to an action figure. And then there's the flares. If I wore these pants, I'd feel obligated to swing from a mast with a knife in my mouth and bury some treasure. Why would a woman want to dress like a pirate? I like pirates and all, but not because the clothes are anything anyone should still be wearing.

I suggest to you, women who insist on wearing gauchos, that you go home and cut a bunch of holes in them so that you won't be tempted to wear them or give them to the Goodwill. I'd hate for a hipster or a hippy to pick them up and embarrass herself even further. Then, once you've cut them up, put them in the trash and set the trash on fire. When the fire goes out, cover the ashes with vomit, pack them in an urn and bury it in a haunted cemetery. Finally, find out who convinced you to buy gauchos in the first place and sit her/him down for a very serious discussion.


The Robo-Pirate

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pauly Shore gets punched out by a redneck in Lubbock.

Sorry, Pauly, but for once, I'm siding with the redneck. That's what you get for getting Drama kicked out the the Mansion.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Making people on relatively flat expanses of concrete nervous.

Here's a picture of my longboard. You know, in case you're interested. I just like over-using the one piece of html code I know.

--The Robo-Pirate.

A long, boring post about writing comic books. Toward the end, I mention my new skateboard.

I've been very slowly working on my comic book. I used to get annoyed when people said, "Gosh, there just aren't enough hours in the day!" but it turns out it's totally true. This is my third attempt at making sequential art. My first was an original hybrid of Ninja High School and Captain Harlock. I made it in 9th or 10th grade, back when I was obsessed with anime. At the time, you couldn't find it everywhere, so I was limited to the available (and mostly Americanized) manga The Comic Grapevine had in the back shelves. I thought my little three-page story was hilarious back then; it's amusing now because I unwittingly aped most of the same techniques I saw in stuff like Macross and Ranma 1/2. Since Ranma 1/2 occasionally showed boobs, I kept these hidden under junk on a top shelf in my closet. If you were a normal, non-nerdy kid, this is probably similar to where you hid old Playboys. I haven't really thought about that little comic (drawn on typing paper with this runny, expensive roller-ball pen) in a long time until I got into writing the one I'm stuck in now.

Prior to getting off my ass and starting, I read four books about Sequential Art (comics). Two were about writing, one by Denny O'Neil, who wrote and edited various DC titles for millions of years, and the other by Peter David, known to me for his lengthy stint on The Incredible Hulk. I'm partial to this last one because Peter David was mostly a Marvel guy and I'm kind of loyal to that pantheon. Anyway, those were helpful to me in terms of learning how to pace and work in subplots--if you've ever read a How-To-Write-a-Screenplay book, they're pretty similar.

The other two books, however, were a little more esoteric. Written by Scott McCloud, they deal more with the theory behind Sequential Art. While Making Comics focuses more on the craft and is therefore similar to the O'Neil and David books, Understanding Comics is a heady dissertation about what makes comics tick. What's really great is that McCloud writes them in comic-book form.

What I've found out, though, is that now I've almost over-educated to the point of uselessness (you'd think I'd learned my lesson about this already, but whatever). Back in 9th grade, I just told a story. I drew pictures, filled in balloons and channeled my imagination onto 8 1/2 X 11 sheets. It was a lot easier before I knew about things like pacing, decompressed stories and how not to ruin a climax with a talkative ending.

Frankly, it is fucking hard. I imagine this is what learning to walk on two prosthetic legs might be like. Well, that's probably waaaaay harder, but you know what I mean.

In On Writing, Stephen King reiterates that telling the story is the most imperative and important matter when you sit down to write; editing and tightening are what second and third drafts are for. So I try to keep this in mind. And in all fairness to my grownup self, nerdy 14 year old had the advantage of things like Legos and free room and board and actively using his brain on a daily basis. I guess I have to do my best to approximate that context.

Yeah, I know. First post in a week, and it's pretty boring. Well, my friend put together a longboard for me last week, and that's kind of exciting. I've been diligently practicing frontside turns over super-steep 7-degree angles in my apartment parking lot. Yes, I know that's wimpy--I'm old and inflexible, okay? If you're lucky, maybe I'll have pictures. Hopefully not of a trip to the hospital.

--The Robo-Pirate