Saturday, December 22, 2007

Is it March yet?

Right now, I'm listening to my mom feign interest and wonder at one of Junior's friend's ear gauges. See, we're in Lodi for Christmas, and because he can't spend time being bored and misses his friends, he is going to spend the night at his other friend's house.

Now, I know how being at home with your parents during holidays is boring when you're nineteen, but we hadn't been back from the airport a whole hour when he boosted off to go hang out with his friends last night, and now this is an extended stay tonight.

I can't really blame him, but this is one of the core differences between he and I. For instance, when I lived at home, I made a point of keeping all my chemical misadventures under very tight and out-of-town wraps; he left coke straws and other paraphernalia in his pockets for my mom to uncover. I rarely brought a girl over for dinner; he got caught banging one in his bedroom. When I came home for the holidays, I stayed home until about the middle of the visit. He goes out the proverbial minute he walks through the door. And what's worse, he premeditates little niceties with my parents in order to buy himself a do-whatever-the-fuck-I-want card for later. It's not that my parents are stupid, it's that Junior is stupid in that he believes no one can see through his bullshit. He's a peculiar mix of sloppy indiscretion and cagey scheming. While he is ultimately self-serving, he is also a total follower. I'm looking forward to his report-for-duty-date in March.

I have also listened to Junior make the following sweeping statements in the time between touching down at SMF and right now:

"I don't turn the heat on EVER!" Yet somehow, we have an electric bill that is nearly $170, due January 7th. Maybe he's right; maybe he never turns the heat on, but he also never turns the TV off.

"In Texas, everybody drives like idiots." This from the kid who got three speeding tickets while living in California, never mind an unreported accident in Fort Worth where he sideswiped some lady in a minivan. I don't know about everybody in Texas driving like idiots, but I do know one person who does.

"They honk a lot in Texas." This was news to me; apparently Fort Worth is similar to a movie about New York City traffic. He later explained that his friends honk all the time, which I suppose gives superficial credence to the statement directly above.

You'll notice also that his generalizations frequently feature the prepositional phrase "in Texas." He justifies this because his experience in Texas is limited exclusively to Fort Worth (though as of the past two weeks, it includes now downtown Dallas and Weatherford), and therefore, he has nothing else to base it on. For Junior, Fort Worth is Texas. Granted, this actually makes a lot of sense, and I do recall seeing a Fort Worth tourism brochure that referred to Cowtown as the "most Texan of Texas cities." But man, I can think of few people in Austin who would beg to differ. And a couple in Houston. And now that I think about it, there are probably some people I know in San Antonio that would take offense to that. I don't know about Dallas, because I hate Dallas.

I'm just saying is all.

--The Robo-Pirate

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I have stories to write, and I'm stuck, so

I'm going to bitch. I'm going to bitch because it will temporarily relieve me of a bit of writer's block. I am mentally constipated right now, and I say constipated because even if I could get the ideas out of my head, I'm pretty confident they are shit anyway. So I am going to bitch.

I bought an Xbox 360 in June of '06. I'd saved money for this purpose since it debuted at the end of '05, and for over a year, I only had one game for it. It was a nerdy Adventure/RPG called Oblivion, and it has consistently held my interest FUCK I CAN'T FUCKING THINK!

I could go back and edit this and make it all clever, but Junior is here right now with one of his friends and they are sitting in the living room blasting away at Halo 3. Who cares right? Well I do because I am having a hell of a time tuning out the digitized grunts, explosions and machine gun fire murmuring through the wall. I am having a hell of a time tuning out the audible side of a moronic phone conversation being held by his friend, and I am having a hell of a time getting over the fact that I am exiled to my bedroom because of a couple 19 year olds.

"Hey, maybe you could grow up a bit. Aren't you almost thirty or something? Yeah, I am, but here's the thing:

I bought Halo 3 shortly after getting the internet, because I thought playing online would be fun. And for a while it was. But then Junior got a hold of it and totally ruined it for me. Now I don't even like looking at the box. I know that sounds ridiculous, but bear with me for a bit.

Getting the internet wasn't a huge ordeal, and neither was getting a subscription to Xbox Live. The thing about Xbox Live is that you can subscribe to it for free, but in order to take advantage of its best features, you have to pay fifty bucks a year. I think that's pretty reasonable, especially when one of the key features is a sort of gamer-matchmaking function that pairs you up with gamers of comparable skill. In other words, when I logged on to play Halo 3 multiplayer, I was matched with people who were just as bad as I am. So I forked over $50, and I bought a year's subscription to Xbox Live Gold. Junior promised that when he had extra money, he'd pay for his own account so he wouldn't have to use mine. I knew that the likelihood of $50 extra dollars appearing in his wallet was on par with me riding a magic elephant on the moon, but I didn't really care. I didn't see it being that big a deal.

I held that opinion for almost an entire month.

As you may recall (assuming you read the super-sad post from a month or two ago about how I felt lost and more like a dad than a brother), Junior was smoking a lot of pot. And all that pot smoking was really fucking annoying by itself, but what made it worse, though, was that around this time, all Junior did when he wasn't working was get high and play Halo. And this was okay for a while, but then one afternoon I picked the controller up, logged on and got my ass kicked consistently for a good hour and a half before I quit. Now I know I suck, but the last time I had gotten around to playing online, I wasn't terrible--I probably had a pretty even win/loss ratio. What happened was that because Junior has played so goddamn much, my gamertag (what Microsoft calls your account) was under the impression that I was really good at Halo, and as such, I was matched accordingly. Now it is no fun for me to play.

Truth be told, it's not that much fun anyway. The single-player game is short, until the end where it gets tedious. The multiplayer is mostly fun, unless you're bad and made to play against people who aren't. Then it totally blows. If you've read stories about how Halo is easily ruined by racist jerks, well, they aren't too far off--I didn't encounter too many racists (on the contrary, I seemed to play with a lot of black dudes), but I did find a lot of jerks, especially after turning up in last place every time I played. But I didn't buy it so I could shoot computer-controlled opponents by myself. I bought it in order to shoot real people on a team.

If you reread the paragraphs above, you'll notice that I have written "I bought" two or three times. I know that's not a lot, but with a bit of backstory, you'll begin to see why counting that phrase is relevant.

See, in order to get internet, as you are probably aware, you have to pay extra to get it set up. And even though he works two jobs, Junior never has any money, so I paid for it to get set up. And so we could both use the internet at the same time, I also paid for wireless router. Not the cheap one, mind you, but the one that was made for gaming. I also paid for Halo 3.

As you may have guessed, I am chafed because despite the fact that I paid for the fucking game, I have played it the least. This really pisses me off.

But then again, how can I be mad at him, really? I mean, he's not doing anything wrong. In fact, he's pulled a 180--he stopped smoking pot and will be enlisting in the Navy in a couple weeks. I'm very proud of him and the choices he's made of late. But fuck, man, am I sick and tired of hearing that goddamn game!

I complained about this to Kerry a while back, and he figured out what my problem is: I don't like to share my things.

I honestly couldn't argue the point. As evidence:

I miss my one-bedroom apartment.

I miss being able to use my Xbox whenever the fuck I want.

I miss jumping in the shower and finding my body wash was right where I left it (rather than in, say for example, Junior's bathroom).

So in other words, I'm kind of a jerk.

Sharing. Sheesh. Maybe I need to go back to pre-school.

--Steve the Fucking Jerk

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ah, fuck it.

I wonder how many blog posts share this one's title.

I wrote the one below on my MySpace page, and so I hedged a bit because while few people actually read it, I know them, or they live in my town. In the swirling anonymity (I cannot, for the life of me, pronounce that word) of the greater (re: extra-MySpace) internet, it's easier for me to proverbially pin the ol' heart to my sleeve.

I ran into Jackie on Saturday, for the first time in over a month. I'd say five weeks to the day, maybe even. We had a show, and she came to it. I was rattled for a good four songs.

Now granted, I was also rattled for a couple other reasons. See, the show was an annual reggae party we play. I can't call it a fest, because it wasn't all day in some fields and no one was selling shitty bead jewelry or Bob Marley flags. It was two bands and a DJ/MC combo (said combo was called Mcpullish feat. The Judge, and it was awesome). Darth Vato occupied the middle slot.

As such, the stage was backlined. The headlining band, Pablo and the Hemphill 7, has six members (funny, right?), and since we're only a three-piece, it just made more sense for them to have everything up there. What this meant for me is that I didn't have to lug my bass cab up there, an opportunity I am nearly always on the lookout for. But since Jackie's arrival had already kind of knocked me into a self-exacerbated dither, I made myself susceptible to just about anything, and using their bassist's (Matt Hembree, so you know) rig definitely fits within that parameter.

A word about Hembree: he's one of my favorite bass players in town--his runs are a little unusual, and I'd love to figure them out, and the guy is as precise as he is animated. While watching a shitty Fall-Out Boy performance on SNL, a friend remarked, "I don't know how they actually play notes with all that spinning and jumping." I immediately thought of Hembree, who always demonstrates that one can be rock solid while occupying space a foot or two off the ground. I forget what head he uses, but he uses a 410 SWR cab. Since this might not mean a lot to you, here is what that means to me:

SWR bass amps are endorsed by (among others) P-Nut from 311. Now I hate 311, apart from exactly five songs, and part of the reason why is P-Nut. Here's why I don't like P-Nut. First of all, his name is P-Nut, which I find neither funny nor cool. He's a phenomenal bass player, and his tone is best described as growly thunder. Unfortunately, while that sounds like it might be something I'd like, he has a very funky, spanky style, and while this tends to impress a lot of other people, I just don't care for it. That's the other reason why I don't like him. But his tone is cool, and from what I gather, he gets it from using SWR rigs and Warwick basses. If you've ever gone to Guitar Center and seen some black dude (yes, sorry to stereotype, but this guy is at every Guitar Center, and he's almost always a black dude, and he's almost always awesome) wanking away on what looks like a walnut coffee table, chances are it's a Warwick. As I am a Fender guy (despite the fact that my J-bass has been a bit of a lemon--and it's an American, for fuck's sake), I can't stand Warwick basses, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that they look like walnut coffee tables. Anyway, P-Nut gets that particular growl from a combination of his skill and his gear. In fact, I would say that his gear brings out the best in his skill. When you're as on-the-money as he is, an SWR rig sounds great.

I, of course, am not nearly as on-the-money as P-Nut, or Matt Hembree for that matter. And I swear, even though I used my own amp (which I love as if it were my own child), his cabinet grabbed a hold of every inadvertent pop and squeak and held up it for the crowd to see. It felt like getting pantsed in front of the whole class. My bass rig (an Ashdown ABM 500 EVO II run through an Ampeg SVT 410 cabinet) is geared for warmth, not spank. It's a perfect for a guy who learned to play from listening to Scientist and Sly and Robbie. But Hembree often plays with a pick, and he needs gear that gives him a brighter sound.

So that also had me rattled. And I had to take a crap, but before I got there, someone managed to back up both the men's and women's toilets, which left me, almost literally, up shit creek, sans paddle. You try getting amped up about playing bass with a torpedo in the tube.

But yeah, Jackie, man that was weird. As you may have guessed, I'm not exactly over her, which explained why I called her the next night and poured my heart out. While it was weepy on both sides of the phone, I doubt it changed a whole lot. I'm happy that she is doing well--she just got a teaching job and loves it; I just wish I was there by her side.

--The Robo-Pirate

See? Don't you wish I'd gone to the gym?

Anyway, if you read the post below (or is it above? Sometimes MySpace does weird shit like that), I have had something of an interesting November. At the risk of sounding like a teenager, I have experienced steady sets of emotional waves that swell and crest and break with very few breathers in between--some I have caught and ridden as far as they would take me, and others I have tried to duck under and hope for the best.

We recorded our new album during the first two weeks of the month. This experience was markedly different than our other sessions. Sure, we had a pretty big budget (for us, anyway) , so we we got to try some new ideas and weren't too worried when a bass take took longer than I'd normally prefer. And we don't have a release date, so we weren't constantly watching the clock. Our other three recordings (two EPs and an album) were made a little bit under the gun, so being able to relax a bit was a welcome departure from having to race through tracks to put out something we weren't totally proud of. Better still, we had our longtime friend and producer out for actual pre-production, and he got to mull the songs over in their rough, garbagy phase before putting them to ones and zeros. That made a big difference, and I feel like the result is much more focused, determined and even funnier than all our other records combined. It's like some of those old songs are masks, trying to be something we aren't, and while I don't hate them, they tend to embarrass me on occasion. I am finally confident that we captured who were are as people with these songs. And if, in March, when this album hopefully comes out, people gripe that the songs are darker, sadder and grouchier, well life isn't always free tamales and days off.

So our recording process was a lot of fun. And then it was over, and I realized a couple days later why I could hardly bear to sit at my desk through the day. I felt funny thinking this, but I honestly experienced post-studio depression. After all, I saw one of my best and closest friends for a couple weeks, vented a lot of frustrations, reached some new heights, and flexed my creative muscles with very little strain and head-thumping--going back to work was bound to pale in comparison. I guess it's gone now, but being sequestered in that environment made me feel like a different person, and I enjoyed being that guy a lot more than the one who clicks on a computer all day.

I am trying not to think of our two weeks spent recording as a vacation from my real life. Obviously, playing music is my career of choice; computer clicking is a means to make that a reality, and I try not to think of it as two weeks away at a Rock Band Resort (and really, since I only took two days off from work, it's hard to even call it that). Unfortunately, at this stage, as I sit with no out of town dates booked, no record to hock, no salacious stories or tales of woe to tell, music still feels like an escape. My hope is that in 2008, we'll be able to do everything we can to make our band a life rather than something to do on weekends.

If you think that's depressing, I'm sorry. I don't mean it to be, but I have to be a realist. We're getting older, after all, and the bills pile up and the responsibilities mount, and no matter how much I've tried to keep permanence at bay, it still inexorably stacks in the background like a cinderblock fence built by a contractor you don't remember hiring and workers you can't even see. But whatever. I still have a van and the debt gets paid on time, and 30 is the new 20, according to ephemeral Yahoo! Lifestyle articles , and so doesn't that make me 19? Right? Right??? That's okay. I'll keep telling myself that anyway.

But yeah, permanence, it's there; I can see it, and these days, I don't sprint from it like I used to. Shirking responsibility used to be a blatant source of pride for me, but in the past year or so, it's been like I inconspicuosly sneak around the corner, hoping it doesn't notice me. It's like, "hey, don't tell the boss, but I'm going to duck out of here ten minutes early." Thing was, it used to be twenty minutes.

So the record is a big deal, and maybe, just maybe, the contacts we've made will matter (or even exist) this time around and actually come through for us. We work as hard as we can, and I've always been one to immediately mistrust these dickheads who promise us hookups that likely don't exist. Unfortunately, where we are, we need a little lift from someone who is legit. If you're a band that can tour at the drop of the hat, you don't need these people; of this I remain forever convinced. But we're not that band. We haven't gone on a real, multi-state tour in over three years, and it's been life's looming, concrete shadow that has kept us from hitting the road longer than a four-day weekend. So while we will continue to work our collective tails off, it would really help if someone could give us a leg up. And it's not like I want to hear myself on the radio or live in a mansion; I just want to tour and for the other two guys to be able to pay their bills.

Is that whiny? Yeah, probably. In light of little perspective, I almost want to delete this whole post. If I could find my gym ID card, I wouldn't have even started it. Such is the result of getting up early with no place to go. Fact of the matter is, this isn't all that's been bothering me, and really, it's nothing new; I've been bitching about this stuff for three years at least. But it's all I'm willing to write about in this semi-public arena. I could go on with what's actually got me down and then mark it private, but what's the point of that?


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Baloney Casserole

In an effort to inure myself to the sting of bad circumstances, situations or the unpleasant consequences of bad decisions, I make jokes. Sometimes, they're even funny. Humor's good for that; it gives you a bit of safe distance from the blues, a little bit like how a trench and steel bars gives you a bit of safe distance from tigers at the zoo (or orange and black, if you prefer strict consistency).

I figured out today (after about three weeks) that I am suffering from a broken heart. I know that's melodramatic and all, and before you ask, my music tastes are no worse than they were before. But I've felt a little crazy, and after screaming at one of my best friends the other night over the use of a fucking amplifier, I kind of made the leap and admitted that this sort of baloney is probably rooted in my recent break up.

So here's what's funny. It's funny how heartbreak seems to come in waves, except these waves are ones you seem to catch every time. You don't seem to have the option of diving under and waiting them out. I guess that isn't funny at all.


Thursday, November 08, 2007


A few weeks ago, I managed, via foolishly clicking an unloaded link secreted within a MySpace message, to fill my computer with over 30 trojans and viruses. There are several lines between which you may read, but whatever. What this meant was that the IT guy at work had to spend two days trying to figure out what to do, ultimately settling on wiping and reloading everything, which was fine, since it works moderately faster now. However, during those two days without my work computer, a wonderful thing happened.

I got to work from home.

Now, before you assume that I hate work and my company and my colleagues and am just another person who didn’t date enough skanks in college, I want to be clear on a few background details:

  • My company, while not as fun as it was three years ago, is still Hella Fun. The reason why it is less fun is that it has nearly tripled in size.
  • I am very lucky to work here, and I have a position that makes use of my most prominent aptitudes. So for that I am grateful.
  • Most of the people here are a joy to be around all day, and even the ones who aren’t 100% fun 100% of the time are still pretty cool.
  • I don’t have to tuck in my shirt or even wear real shoes if I don’t want to, and the three people I am directly responsible are awesome and I love them.
  • I’ve been here three years, and I’m still allowed to be hourly, but with benefits. So really, this place is pretty awesome.

So, I like where I work, but here are a few key differences between unfolding my laptop at my desk at the office and unfolding onto my coffee table at home:

  • If I work from home, I don’t have to drive there. I hate driving to work because I hate stoplights, and I swear, Fort Worth seems to have stoplights every twenty feet. And I’ve mentioned before that pretty much every place I go regularly is narrowed at some point by orange cones, so that also beats me down. Never mind that driving to work means rumbling over two sets of brick-paved roads, behind pokey work trucks, behind pokey day laborer trucks and occasionally behind pokey cattle.
  • At my house, the only traffic past my workspace is me. For whatever reason, out of the three different rooms I’ve been in at the office, two of them have been high traffic areas. Now, I am out of my seat a lot, and I know where I’m going, which is no where important. But most of the other traffic is all busily work-related, and this annoys me. It’s pretty much “CHOO CHOO! OFF TO ANOTHER MEETING!”
  • The other thing that fills my office during the day and eventually causes me to go outside is the constant VOO! VOO! as people are paged over their speakerphones. I’m sorry, but I cannot ignore this. My brain won’t let me. My apartment is for all practical measurements devoid of ringing phones. No one really calls me, and I enjoy it. But up here, man I can hardly think for all the fucking phonecalls.
  • At home during the day, my complex is mostly silent, and I have the sliding glass door to look out of. Now granted, my view contains some old lawnchairs, Junior’s friends’ cigarette butts, but it’s a lot of natural light, and this makes me happy.
  • I honestly get more stuff done.

Basically, the things that stick in my craw are the sort of things that would stick at my craw in any office. I mean, how many businesses never get phone calls? If you answered ones that are out of business, that’s probably the best answer. But man, I am pretty distracted anyway, and all the interference makes it all the more difficult to focus.

I don't know if it's ADD or if I was supposed to be autistic but my wires crossed correctly at the last possibly instant, giving me a brain that developed mostly normally. But I am highly susceptible to the sound of other people's voices, and it takes all my focus (or a really compelling Wikipedia article--say, one about G.I. JOEs, for example) in order for me to ignore it. Other people's voices, combined with incessantly ringing telephones, combined with what is probably waiting to be spoken on the other end of the ringing telephones makes me fucking crazy sometimes.

Anyway, I like working from home.

--The Robo-Pirate

Friday, October 26, 2007

Nerd Alert!

I've picked up the past oh, like four issues of the New Avengers, written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by a guy named Lenlil Yu (I think). Since I've never read his stuff prior to the New Avengers, I think Bendis must be one of those love-him-or-hate-him kind of writers, in that he fills his panels with snappy dialogue, and slowly building plots. After wading through a pretty boring 12-issue arc of Uncanny X-Men (they were in space), and the slightly more interesting follow-up arc (they were in the sewers, fighting some renegade Morlocks) and the interminable wait due the don't-even-care-about-it-anymore postponings of Astonishing X-Men (which used to be my favorite title, since Joss Whedon has written it for the past three years), New Avengers is my New Favorite Comic. And that's a really long sentence. But if you care, New Avengers is basically the main resistance to the Superhero Registration Act of last summer's Civil War crossover. While I am apathetic about most of the other post-Civil War developments (The Initiative? Meh), New Avengers is pretty f'ing cool, and I think it's largely because of Bendis. I'm a sucker for good Spidey jokes, and given that the current story has employed Dr. Strange (who I unfairly dismissed as a superhero for weirdos when I was a kid), and the team features Wolverine, Spider-Man and guys like Hawkeye (now called Ronin), Luke Cage and Iron Fist, all of whom I never really appealed to me. So in other words, if you are so inclined, go pick up the past five or six issues if you can find them. I think you'll dig them, especially if you expect to hear another delay in Whedon's final Astonishing X-Men arc.

--The Robopirate


So anyway, here I am, up at 3:17 am because of combination of fajitas, beer and golfing.

That's right, golfing.

At one point, a golfing partner said, "oh my gosh you really have never done this before." I replied that having known me for three years, was there anything about me to suggest that I would have ever set foot on a course.

Turns out, golf is kind of hard. Even with the assistance of beer. Which led to the comment made by another golf partner, "you'll do better once you've had a few beers. Which is true about everything in life, really."





Yeah, I can see it.

--The Robopirate

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Can't shake it.

Man, I am just sad.

There aren't any other words beyond those.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Bet you really wanted to know this.

You know why I liked living by myself? Because a closed door and drawn blinds ensured that alone time meant that I would actually be alone. Now, I have to apparently lock my bedroom door.

On a different note, how do you get someone to stop smoking? At this point, I'll tolerate Junior's weed if it means he ditches the Marlboros. In addition to his failure to recognize that no lights and a closed door is the universal roommate sign for don't-come-in-here-or-else-we're-going- to-have-an-awkward-rest-of-the-evening, he's raised my ire tonight by constantly hacking and coughing. Here's the conversation I had just now:

"Are you sick?"

"No, I just had a cigarette."

"Junior, why do you smoke."

"Because there's nothing like having a cigarette when you come home from work."

I should point out that he is highly susceptible to the sort of phrases and ideas that are bandied about as part of a lifestyle conceived by a marketer in order to sell something. Throughout his life, this has ranged from breakfast cereal to toys to Marlboro Lights.

"Do you even want to quit?"


"What have cigarettes ever done for you?"


And that was the end of the conversation. So it goes. The problem I have is that from time to time when I get hammered, I think that a smoke will go with those 7 or 8 beers just fine. In its temporarily pickled state, my brain gleefully follows the dubious logic that if my exterior smells like a bar, my interior might as well match. And then the next morning, I always think jeez that's the last time I do that, because I totally feel nasty. So in other words, I'm that guy. The guy who rails against smoking but who is ironically a social smoker. So I have a problem effectively yelling at him. The difference is that my tobacco missteps are so occasional that they're hardly worth mentioning beyond barely founding a case for my own hypocrisy. Same with the dope.

But all the same, I wish he'd knock off that goddamn coughing.

One night, I think this was the first or second night after we moved into the new place, I came home from bartending to find him camped out on the balcony getting high. And camped out is barely an exaggeration. He had a chair. And a black light. And a reading light. And his iPod and its speakers. And a towel. And his bong (on a side note, he refers to all of his paraphenia as his "pieces." We used to just call them pipes). And I went through the roof. Why couldn't he just smoke a joint in a chair on the balcony without making it such a big production? Why did I have to come home to find an array of blown glass drying on a towel on the kitchen counter? Why did I have to find a copy of High fucking Times in the bathroom?

In other words, I wanted to know why he couldn't just smoke pot instead of being a stoner.

I explained to him, with the rage of a 1,000 sitcom dads, that it is stupid to see this chunky kid who used to be a D-1 athlete take the time to set all this shit up on a balcony just so he could get baked. He, of course, didn't see what the big deal was, and as I realized immediately, I didn't actually realize what real big deal was either. I didn't catch it until afterI had explained to him, this time with saltwater running down my cheeks, that it was weird and sad for me to see this chunky kid all chinese-eyed and addled, talking about "pieces," and "baba kush," when what I remember when I look at him is the 7 year-old who fell asleep in his Sonic the Hedgehog costume after trickertreating. Or the 3 year-old who thought that the pregnant cat my dad brought home from work would eventually lay eggs. Or the four year-old who fell asleep on my dad's shoulders during the Electrical Parade at Disneyland.

In other words, what I really wanted was for him to be a kid again. And I say this with complete sincerity, unsmirking, without a gram of smarm: my heart broke.

As if that weren't bad enough, I found myself able to empathize with my parents over a whole catalog of hurt feelings. I could now appreciate the anger and disappointment they felt when I came home from my first semester of college, reeking of Keystone light and a 2.4 GPA. I understood the resignation in my dad's voice when I told him, no I'm not going to quit the band. And finally, the defeated sadness in my mom's eyes when I told her I had foregone with saving myself for marriage no longer looked like martyrdom. In these instances, I bristled at all the various manifestations of parental disappointment, because every fuck up seemed to be a matter of how I was reflecting on them, not how I was reflecting on me. At the time, I always thought, fuck, it's my life and my mistakes, and you guys weren't perfect either. I'm pretty sure this is exactly what goes through Junior's head the instant I begin to pontificate.

Once again, I wish I could be a big brother. I feel like I don't know how. More than that, I feel a little lost.

And by a little, I mean a lot.

--The Robo-Pirate

Thursday, October 04, 2007

My Life has Turned into a Dorm Room from 1997, Minus the Bob Marley Poster and Curlies All Over the Floor.

Let’s see here. Last post prior to the last post was in uh… February. Pretty terrible. You didn’t miss much, though. Band played some shows, I saw Valient Thorr a couple more times, got a new amp, my brother moved in with me…

Obviously, that last one is sort of a big development.

If you dropped by this spot often enough, you might dimly recall that my brother, who I’ll call Junior, was going to college and playing water polo (or wasserball, in German, apparently). Well, that didn’t work out. If you believe that marijuana (or, let’s face it, booze) is not a gateway drug, well, I have some bad news about the tooth fairy, too. Long story short, he moved here in August in order to grow up a little (and by a little I mean a lot) and get back on track. Results, as they say, may vary.

Now, I don’t care if he smokes weed. We’ve all been 19, and some of us have clung tenaciously to 19 for over a decade. But there’s a line (and not a fine one, I think), between recreation and self-medication. I mean, yeah he’s working two jobs and he’s sort of figuring out that life for most people is not an episode of Entourage. But the one-dimensionality of it all is wearing pretty thin. I don’t know. I hate saying that I took him in, because it makes him sound like he was some sort of junkie everyone had given up on, which wasn’t really the case. I suggested he move in with me so he could get a taste of living on one’s own, and how it sucks when you have to work crap jobs in order to barely have enough to pay rent and fill up your gas tank. And more than that, our parents needed a break.

He’s doing okay. I think he’s learning a little about gratitude (which in my mind has been the most egregious offense to our folks—he treated them like ass in exchange for free room and board, car insurance, a cell phone, etc. etc. etc.). And moreover, he’s a good kid with a good heart. I feel bad for being hard on him. I just don’t want him to echo the same mistakes I did. And he’s putting down the bong (or rather, leaving it alone) more and more.

What I was initially worried about when he moved here was not having his head in the proverbial clouds. It was him getting depressed and lonely because we are ten years apart and I don’t know too many people under 21. Fortunately, he met some kids at one of our shows with similar interests, and now I routinely come home to an apartment full of 19 year olds. This is good and bad. On the upside, he has people to hang out with, and they’re pretty cool kids. Junior and his new buds smoke Marlboros and what, if I had to guess by the smell, might very well be dirty diapers. I’ve never been a gourmet when it comes to dope, but whatever they’re buying is definitely shitty. They also play a lot of video games, which as Jackie pointed out, is adorable. Prior to getting Xbox Live, this was Mario Kart and Goldeneye (Junior is, without a shred of irony or kitsch, an old-skool gamer, which is one of the many things I love about him—in fact, he is almost completely devoid of irony. This is a subset of his personal naïveté, a character trait that is simultaneously endearing and worrisome). Now they stay up until 4am playing Halo 3. And this is what's annoying, coming home yet again to a bunch of kids who don't have to get up and go to work.

In the latter activity, I wish I could hang with them. If not for the ol’ dayjob, I’d love to stay up drinking beer and shooting red or blue iterations of Master Chief with Junior and his friends. But I can’t, on account of the frustrating advance of adulthood. And this is currently the big sticking point between him and me.

For several years, my mom has complained that Junior “rats around all night.” And I never thought it was a big deal until I discovered that he slept in until the mid afternoon because he’d been up until four doing whatever the fuck he does. I don’t care about the staying up late. But I’ve been of the mind that the price for staying up late having fun is suffering through the morning of the following day. Even on weekends, I am out of bed before noon, and usually I’m out of bed before 11. And this also was the case during college, when I had marginal jobs and no places to be. Yet Junior has an entirely different philosophy. And so we go round and round; I fulminate and sermonize, he makes promises, and then when he gets up an hour before he has to go to work in the afternoon, I shake my head and think up a big sarcastic speech to deliver the next time we have some time together. Repeat. I can’t say that he’s as lazy as he used to be, but the constant sleeping still pisses me off to no end. And yes, I’ve considered that he’s depressed, especially when you couple the sleeping with a constant cannaboid fog. But lying in bed in hot bedroom that smells like burned Pampers is no way to pull yourself out of a funk.

Still, the whole process seems to be moving forward. He owes me money, and I’m being a jerk about it, and when he can’t afford to buy crappy shwag maybe then he’ll really get what I was talking about when I said, “my life really isn’t as big a party as you think it is.”

And then, what would be really great, is if I could start to feel more like a big brother than a parent.

--The Robo-Pirate

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Look, a blog.

Don't call it a comeback, but I'm back in the writing saddle again. It's all rusty and cracked (making the writing saddle an edifice made of iron and uh, porcelain?), but I'm sitting in it again, and slapping the reins.

If that didn't make a lot of sense to you, you're not alone.

Anyway, I had five or six beers earlier while watching my friend's band play at a fancy grocery store. The kind where the rich folk in your town send their hot wives to grab fresh fish and fennel after their tennis matches. It's true. I've checked their carts. But yeah, the beers have given me a headache.

Jackie is asleep right now because she got offered a long-term sub position, for which she gets training early tomorrow. I'm so stoked for her!

I started reading Kevin's Smith's blog today, and on paper, he's an amusing motherfucker. And honestly, Clerks was pretty damn funny (and uncomfortable, since I rented and watched it with my parents--should anyone's mom ever have a snowball explained to her?); his other movies have been hit and miss for me. That led me to read about Jason Mewes' struggle with drugs, which was equally fascinating, only because it showed how much Tons o' Fun cares about him. It does not, however, make saying "snootchie bootches" funny.

Sorry about the lack of links. I don't feel like futzing with the code.

Band is set to record in November with a guy who's pushed levels and twiddled knobs for Edie Brickell (known for shooting rubber bands at the stars and other egregious album titles) and Pantera's Reinventing the Steel album (whose title is the opposite of egregious). So that's pretty cool. I can already foresee a few headaches and headbuttings over stylistic differences, especially when it comes the mixing part, but I guess that's part of the fun of having a band.

In other band news, the Grampus (our beloved touring van, not that we go on too many tours, and by "too many," I mean "any") needs its balljoints replaced. Before you get too caught up in laughing because "balljoints" is a funny word (as are scramble, dribble and drapes), consider that replacing them costs over $900, and not replacing them eventually causes the wheels to fall off. Not so funny now, is it? In hipster parlance, broken balljoints is the new broken A/C. It's a really hot repair right now.

And finally, since I mentioned hipster parlance, check out this video, entitled the hipster olympics. Normally, I am leery of such deliberate parodies, but this one is right on the money.

Oh and also, I've become obsessed with modern archecture, particularly Googie. I hate that word. Googie is essentially the future as envisioned in 1955. If you've ever been to Tomorrowland in Disneyland prior to the late '90s, then you've seen and enjoyed this type of design.

While I am obsessed with Googie, I'm even more obsessed with as I am with hoarding and hiding change. I'm like a dragon in a D&D campaign.

--The Robo-Pirate

Monday, February 05, 2007

(Eric's face + power windows) carwash = hilarity

Darth Vato - The Grampus Gets a Bath

On the way home from our show in Houston, we gave the Grampus a bath. Eric got one, too. Music by The Ziggens.

Monday, January 29, 2007

"Vegetarian Mumbo Jumbo"*

There is this vegan restaurant in Fort Worth, called the Spiral Diner. I love it. They magically take some vegetable product and make it taste like bacon. The building has this cool retro-diner vibe, the music is either of the world variety or ambient indie, and the waitstaff is for the most part friendly and unobtrusive. It's comprised of what you'd expect--hippyish peace punks with sleeve tattoos, grins and socialist ideas. They share their tips and the restaurant has a sign reminding diners that while the staff are there to help, they are not to be treated as servants. As a former waiter, I can totally appreciate this.

As for their politics, I don't really care one way or the other. Thanks to the trigger-happy oligarchists in the White House, my beliefs have increasingly skewed left, so I don't mind the muted presence of various fliers and get-involved literature lying around, nor am I terribly bothered if one of the staff mentions whatever liberal cause he or she is interested in. So, when the one who waited on me and my girlfriend on Saturday asked if I wanted to get involved with building a free skatepark in Fort Worth, I happily took his email address.

This conversation was a refreshing in light of the server I got on Thursday night. My buddy Cliff and I went there for dinner; we ordered magically meat-like sandwiches, and hummus for an appetizer. What we did not order was thinly-veiled condescension; apparently, you get that for free.

The dude came over and dropped off our hummus.

"Thanks!" I said.

"No problem, man," he said "Listen: do you guys support democracy?"

Now, it's been my experience that when someone like this server broaches the subject of government, the conversation usually doesn't end well. I looked at him fixedly, so as to not roll my eyes.

"Yeah, I'm a fan. Very grateful for it."

"Where do you guys work?"

Ah. A twist. I don't work in oil, I don't cut down old-growth forests, and as I am not president of Nike, I thought I was safe.

"I work at an internet marketing company," I said.

"I work for my family," said Cliff.

"Are your jobs democracies?"

Well what the fuck. Are any? I mean besides the ones had at vegan restaurants? If businesses (and I'm strictly talking about their employees, not shareholders) were democratic, what would get done? I'll bet that tiny indie record labels can get away with equal represenation, but everyone knows that tiny, indie labels don't make any money unless they happen to have something to sell off like Nirvana.

But he was earnestly looking at me, waiting to see how I would deal with his rhetorical trap. And frankly, I failed spectacularly. As you read the next exchange, keep in mind I have a B.A. in poli-sci; allegedly, I know what the word democracy means.

"Yeah, it is."

"So you guys get to vote on all the decisions?"

"No... I mean, we can wear whatever we want, well, we can't wear shorts, I guess. And we have a non-traditional management structure... But no one voted on them, so yeah, it's not really a democracy at all."

Apparently, the idiot half of my brain had wandered out of the Nintendo room and down the hall to my mouth. The logical half must have been on the toilet. I confirmed this later because when I encountered him again, he smelled like Glade air freshner.

"Oh..." he says, eyes hardening in smug satisfaction.

The best I could do was return his forced smile. "Why do you ask?"

"Oh no reason. I'm just trying to start a revolution."

He walked away, basking in his own glowing sanctimony, or at least what I imagined was glowing sanctimony. I could be wrong. He was probably glowing from that bacon magic.

--The Robo-Pirate

*Big points if you know this reference.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Would you guys just stick to conspicuous consumption and hos, please?

I'm in week two of my attempt to shrink my beer gut. I've been eating much better (a lot of shrimp, beans and trips to this vegan restaurant), and since the 6th, I've had little more than a couple beers and a few shots of rum. This is in tandem with speedwalking for an hour every day (except for yesterday, due to MLK Day closing a lot of stuff down) at the gym.

As such, I've started watching TV again.

Now this is not to say that I am one of those effete, artistic people who proudly proclaim how they don't watch television. As proof, below is a short list of my favorite TV shows of all time:

The Cosby Show
The Simpsons
King of the Hill
Firefly (though sadly, I never watched it on TV)
In Search Of... (that show with Leonard Nimoy talking about mysteries such as Stonehenge and Shatner's hairpiece--heyo!)

See? There are eleven shows there! So I like TV. I just that I don't have cable and my reception is bad. But since the gym is on TCU's cable network, I end up watching about an hour of TV a day.

Mostly, I watch the news or Simpsons/King of the Hill reruns. If there is a compelling car-rebuild, I flip between Pimp My Ride. On Sunday, I was lucky enough to find Sinbad and That One Time When He Looked for Fabulous Treasure While Fighting Awesome Ray-Harryhausen-Monsters on Turner Classic Movies. This was especially great, because TCM doesn't run commericials during their features (I think--I haven't had cable for a couple years now). Typically, I stay away from music videos,though; this has a little bit to do with the artists but a lot more to do with the fact that it's mostly hip hop videos and hip hop videos are almost universally similar and dumb.

As a case in point, I watched the video for "Cupid's Chokehold," the new single from Gym Class Heroes. Now I like Gym Class Heroes. It's mostly clever hip-hop made for Fall Out Boy fans, which I am not, but whatever. They're cool. And the song is fine. It's basically a grass-is-greener-as-relating-to-girlfriends public service announcement, but the video bothered me because it features perhaps the most irritating trope in the entire history of rap and hip hop videos. I'm talking about the totally lame old white guy trying to prove otherwise.

In this case, the Totally Lame Old White Guy is represented in the visual narrative by the MC Travis McCoy's flashy new girlfriend's (not the original, dependable one he reunites with fifty seconds later) rich, white, turtleneck-and-blazer-wearing father. The poor guy, who looks a little bit like Marvin, Vince's accountant on Entourage, is sitting there having to pretend to like with this pierced-faced, parka wearing, hip hop guy dating his daughter. All he really wants to do is enjoy his martini. And then Travis's boys come in, and they're of course loud and disruptive, and the poor Totally Lame Old White Guy grimaces, and the music switches to some freestyling and beat boxing. But then, when the music switches back, Totally Lame Old White Guy is irrhythmically nodding to the mad beats.

Old Rich White guys aren't that funny, and they're even less funny while trying to be anything other than old, rich and white. In fact, they're really more like the enemy of everyone, from golf caddies to goonies to pants-peeingly hilarious rappers. They are a joke that's been tired at least as long as the old lady mewling out "Rapper's Delight" in The Wedding Singer.

I'm just saying is all.

--The Robo-Pirate

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Faith in God renewed by the drunken generosity of SAE's, AKA "Everything's coming up Milhouse!"

I never thought I'd say this, but I was glad to see the frat kids back in the bar last night.

See, on Tuesdays, I check I.D.s, bar-back and mop at my friend's bar. If the joint gets busy enough, I get to jump behind the bar as a third and get the other two bartenders caught up. Then I get tipped out from the other two bartenders, usually doubling my normal take. Of course, it's been about a month since I've had to bartend; school's been out, and the bar has been pretty dead. Luckily, all the kids have to drag their khaki-covered butts to class on the 17th, and they were easing back into form last night.

I like bartending. I've been doing it part time (always as a supplement to whatever 9-5 I've been doing) over the past five years. It's way more fun when you only have to do it for an hour a week. This is because all the things that college kids do to rankle a full-time bartender (not knowing about tipping, getting legendarily plowed, snapping their fingers for drinks, walking tabs, etc.) are not nearly as aggravating when not encountered on a nightly basis. After all, the money I make at the bar is pretty much spending cash anyway.

Except, of course, for this week, when I had three checks floating around in the banking netherworld and the electric bill set to be debted out of my account on Thursday. I was sort of praying to either get a FW Weekly check in the mail or make some extra cash last night, as one of my three New Year's resolutions is to go the entire year without any overdrafts, and I had set myself up to break it two weeks in. Some time after Christmas, I posted an angry, resigned gripe about God, Bush and the war, because my faith at the time was pretty much at a low point. Every so often, however, God does come through in the clutch. Or at least it looks like He does. Granted, college students usually come back to school a week early, and it's easy to call an answer to prayer a coincidence rather than divine benevolence. Ultimately, though, I think life is a little sunnier without a haze of cynicism coloring one's perception. So thanks, God, for sending the college kids (like manna from heaven, if manna were clad in Northface vests and Ducks Unlimited hats) to get drunk and give us their parent's money.

Oh and also, I booked a Sabbath tribute band for my birthday. It's in June, but you know, whatever. You've got to take care of the important stuff in advance.

--The Robo-Pirate