Hello There, Claire

Meet Claire Alison Todd. Born last night, 5:58 pm. Seven pounds, 12 ounces, 20 inches of squishy cuteness. Welcome to the world, pretty girl. We're so glad you could make it. Make yourself comfortable.


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Candace hadn't seen this AmEx commercial by (my favorite) director Wes Anderson. So I'm posting it. I'm nice like that.

I Imdb'd him to see what he's doing as he's been markedly absent since 2004's The Life Aquatic. It looks like he has two upcoming films, one an animated version of Roald Dahl's The Fantastic Mr. Fox (in pre-production) another titled The Darjeeling Limited (which appears to be in post). The latter's also co-written by Roman Coppola and if he's half as good as his sister (let alone his dad, or as I refer to him "Freaking Zeus."), it'll be worth watching.

Things I Know

I'm 30. You don't get to be that old without learning a thing or two. So today on Big Red Robot, I'm going to allow you to drink from my cup of experience; but just a sip. If I give it all to you now, there will be nothing left for later, right? So, without any more strange metaphors, here are 30 Things I Know:

1. When first meeting someone, it is considered impolite to ask them why in the world they would think a goatee is a good idea.
2. Pirates Of the Caribbean 2 was the worst movie ever. At least until Pirates 3 comes out.
3. Don't punch old people, no matter how much they are asking for it.
4. Nobody likes a tattletale. Everybody likes pizza. So, if you're going to tattle, bring pizza.
5. If Diet Coke starts tasting good, you are officially old.
6. If someone tells you to "Make yourself at home" - keep your pants on. Trust me on this one.
7. There is always someone cooler than you.
8. There's no such thing as the Boogeyman. Sasquatch; that's another story entirely.
9. If everybody else jumps off of a bridge, don't do it - just to spite your mom.
10. The following things are considered "not appropriate" (society's words, not mine) to give as a gift to a four-year-old child: a pet octopus, a scimitar, a bag full of glass shards, a copy of Nabokov's Lolita (Hello? It's a classic?), scuba gear, a harpoon gun, a crossbow, a handsome 12-piece knife set, a Richard Nixon mask, a family of porcupines, a doll that has been possessed by the spirit of a serial killer, a book entitled Santa Claus Is Not Real: A True Story, grandma's dentures, an antique cannon, a Gila monster, a bag of human hair, or a prosthetic limb. I know, weird, right?
11. No matter where in the world you go, there will always be crazy people.
12. There is no such thing as a free lunch. There is such a thing as a stolen lunch.
13. Star Trek is boring.
14. War is not the answer. The answer is "pickled herring."
15. The stereotype that Americans are loud, fat and stupid is, sadly, mostly true.
16. Beef jerky is not a food group. But it should be.
17. "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," is a really dumb aphorism. Seriously, who eats birds?
18. Cavemen had it rough.
19. If you see a dinosaur: RUN.
20. There is nothing funny about an injured clown. Actually, there's everything funny about an injured clown.
21. People and their freaking. cell. phones. Seriously, do you have to talk so loud? I don't care that you bought two ink cartridges, or that one was $14.50 and the other $18. Shut. Up.
22. There is nothing funnier than Walker, Texas Ranger.
23. Break dancing is awesome. Anyone who says differently is a Communist.
24. You cannot give yourself a nickname. That's just sad.
25. Actors get paid a ridiculous amount of money to pretend they're someone else. Athletes get paid a ridiculous amount of money to play games. People in service professions get paid next-to-nothing to deal with people who are rude to them. Remember this next time you have to deal with a surly employee at wherever.
26. Every day is a gift. Some days, you wish there was a gift receipt.
27. High school is the worst four years of your life. Anybody who says differently is a Communist.
28. There's nothing wrong with delusions of grandeur.
29. If you are at a party and feel like dancing, you really can't go wrong with "the Robot." If that fails, there's always "The Cabbage Patch." That ought to do it.
30. The two saddest words in the English language are: "The End." A close second are the words: "Dead kittens."

Do you feel smarter?


D.I.Y. Talking Heads Concert On Big Red Robot!

If you know me at all, you know that I love David Byrne/Talking Heads. They're probably my favorite band in the history of history. So imagine my excitement as I was cruising YouTube and stumbled on this footage from a 1980 Talking Heads show in Rome. I was going to embed all these links, so you could watch them all here on Big Red Robot, one after another, but YouTube wasn't letting me, so, I'll link to them instead. In true punk fashion, it's a Do It Yourself concert. You'll figure it out. You're smart like that.

This is some primo stuff. The band was touring in support of the classic (their best?) Remain In Light album and with an all-star lineup that includes members of Parlaiment Funkadelic and guitar god Adrian Belew. This line-up (most of it at least... I think?) can also be heard on the amazing live double-album, The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads and would later be seen in the Jonathan Demme-directed Stop Making Sense tourfilm (one of the best of the genre), but as Light is a superior album to Speaking In Tongues, which Sense was in support of, this stuff, this stuff is gold. Seriously, I'm getting excited just looking over the track list. It includes songs from their first four albums - :77, More Songs About Buildings and Food, Fear Of Music and the aforementioned Remain In Light.

Like I said: gold.

So, pop some popcorn, sit back and get ready to get funky. Here's Talking Heads: Rome 1980:

01 Psycho Killer
02 Stay Hungry
03 Cities
04 I Zibmra
05 Drugs
06 Take Me To the River
07 Crosseyed & Painless
08 Life During Wartime
09 Houses In Motion
10 Born Under Punches

So, how was it? Awesome, right? Man, I love the interwebz.

How Freaking Rad Is This?

Okay, so on one of Candace's raids across the crafting blogosphere, she came across a link to this awesomeness: the iConcert Cal. It's a third-party iTunes plug-in that looks at the artists in your iTunes library and finds concerts in your area by those artists. Here's a screencap:

Slick, innit? I've been scanning sites like Pollstar for concerts in Cleveland, but they show every. single. concert. in the area you're searching. iConcert searches whatever city and state you input as well as allows you to search for concerts within a specified radius from your city as well. And it only shows artists relevant to your tastes, although I will warn you, if you have anything embarrassing in there (for example, I have Huey Lewis & the News' greatest hits album in my iTunes library. There, I admit it. I like Huey Lewis & the News. I am a child of the '80's, okay. Happy now?), it will put them up as well. So you might want to not check it with friends around unless you want them to know that you downloaded that Kelly Clarkson "Since You Been Gone" song that you sing in the shower sometimes.

Okay, all of the time.

Anyway, so I'm obviously excited about this. The iConcert, not the Kelly Clarkson song. Whatever. Just download it, okay?


I Don't Know Much

But I know this much: if and when it comes down to it, we must triumph over the dinosaurs. I suggest we defeat them with astronauts. Who have laser guns. And jetpacks. And bazookas. Yeah, that should do the trick.

You Have Been Warned, Kids

This will rot your brains to pieces. Enjoy.


Busting Up Your Grill With Links

So, I'm a little behind on my 365 posts in 365 days goal, so, in an effort to bolster my numbers, I'm resorting to a LINKS BONANZA LIKE YOU ONLY READ ABOUT IN EGGHEAD BOOKS BUT NEVER BELIVE CAN COME TRUE BUT ACTUALLY IS HAPPENING RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW ON YOUR COMPUTERRRR!

First off is Jog- the Blog, where Jog (Real name? I have no clue! Maybe Jog!) dissects comics like a surgeon with a mission. Seriously, he makes DC's über-event 52 sound halfway interesting and that, my friends, is quite a feat. While I'm not interested in some of what he posts on (he's a lot more into anime than I ever could hope to be), he's always worth checking in on.

Next up is the website for Sagmeister, Inc. For those of you who aren't familiar with the design work of Stefan Sagmeister, well, I think he's one of the most interesting designers out there. Easily. His work is sometimes a little too "out there," (namely his AIGA invite wherein all the type was, honest-to-goodness, X-Acto-ed into his flesh... ouch...), but it's always real, breathtaking and, in its way, touching. His Q&A for students is especially enlightening.

Next stop, Rotofugi, which I had the pleasure of visiting during my stopover in Chicago with the always excellent Brinkerhoffs. They're fast becoming my favorite stop for urban vinyl (basically expensive toys for grown-ups). They have a great selection at a lot of price platforms and a cool little store, to boot. Also, their logo is Able Lincoln with an eyepatch, so, yeah.

We will next stop in at the homepage for the best comics series ever, Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim. O'Malley captures the manic energy, uncertainty, awkwardness and hyperactivity of twenty-something life and love like a sonuva. Also, these books are hilarious. And they have fighting. Lots and lots of fighting.

Next stop is at Aesthetic Apparauts, home of some awesome silkscreened posters. I have lusted after more than a few of their wares for some time now. Someday I will make one mine. I'm especially keen on the "Artificial Orange Cream" one filed under "Art Prints." See, it's rad, right? Someday.

We'll also hit Netflix because it rules. Nuff said. Shall we move on?

Let's peek in on Corey "Rey" Lewis, creator of Oni Press' arcade logic title, Sharknife. His Manga-influenced art is packed to the brim with energy and while his pages have a tendency to favor denseness over clarity (it's not uncommon to have to look at a Sharknife page for a long while to figure what, exactly is happening in it), they're always pure radness. I'm looking forward to volume 2: Sharknife Double Z. It will most likely rule.

Next up is the homepage for my favoritest band right now, Spoon. I'm really excited about their forthcoming album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga and hopefully, we'll be seeing them over this summer somewhere.

What's that? More poster sites? Okay, how about the Heads Of State? They've got some really awesome posters. Just check out the Books one, printed on salvaged maps. How cool is that?

For a really extensive urban vinyl site, I'd recommend My Plastic Heart. Aside from a clever name, they have a lot of stuff. I've not ordered from them yet, but their site is nice and, like I said, they stock a lot of cool stuff beyond just vinyl.

I've already admitted my love for the work of Mike and Laura Allred on this blog, so you know that my opinion is a little tainted when I say that the man produces some of the most beautiful work in comics today. Check out the AAAPop site if you're still not convinced. I'm still waiting on my copy of Madman's Atomic Comics #1, the new series from Image, but I'm sure it's gorgeous and cool. Such is my love for, and faith in, the Awesome Allreds.

And speaking of comics, you know when you're watching some documentary on TV and they're talking about junkies and how the first thing they do when they relocate is find a dealer and start right back on the junk they were fleeing? Well, here's the link to my latest dealer of sequential smack: Astound! Don't let the bare-bones HTML site fool you, this is a well-stocked shop, almost as good as the pillars of rad that are Vegas' Alternate Reality and Cosmic Comics. My master plan is to do some brand work for the store in trade for comics. If that doesn't work I'll start robbing little old ladies for comic money. Yeah, I have a problem.

Next up is Pete Fowler's Monsterism. Fowler's been doing covers for Super Furry Animals for a while now and his vinyl figures were my gateway into the urban vinyl scene a year or so back. It's a fun site with a lot to see and do. I especially like the "Build Your Own Monster," game.

The AIGA site had a piece on the Wooster Collective the other day and I immediately was taken with their blog. It's a blog dedicated to chronicling the emphemeral: street art. Now let me say this: I am sort of obsessed with graffiti. I have been ever since my brother Bryan and I would walk home through the Vegas wash and see it thrown up on the sides of the aqueducts. I think it's really cool and have to remind myself that it's against the law on a regular basis, otherwise Candace would be getting calls from the police every now and then asking her to come pick up her insane husband. I'm especially intrigued by sticker and stencil graffiti rather than tagging, but I think it's a really cool artform (as does my father-in-law, Dwayne. Yes, I am serious.).

Next up is Joel Priddy's Just and Honorable Empire of Pulpatoon, home to some of Joel Priddy's illustration and comics work. Priddy's offerings via Slave Labor Press have been the highlight of Free Comic Book Day for the past two years, with his the Preposterous Voyages of Iron-Hide Tom being one of the best comics (and funniest!) I read in all of last year. The man does a lot with so little. It's a little intimidating. He has some sketches, illustrations and comics up there. Check it.

Last, but certainly not least is the homepage for Hammerpress, a letterpress and design firm that does some really cool work. I respect the heck out of anyone that can make a letterpress work. It's hardcore, temperamental machinery, but when it works, it's gorgeous. Check out their store for posters, stationery, prints and other stuff worth shelling out the dough for.

Oh, what the heck, I'll throw in the link for Kuler as well, even though I have no clue what it is, but it sure is pretty, right?

And we're done. Whew. That was a lot more intense than I thought it would be. I apologize for any injuries you may have sustained, but, well, that's what happens when you roll with my clique. Word.

The Ethics and Art Of Stealing

Jonathan Lethem, author of Fortress Of Solitude and Gun, With Occasional Music, has a very interesting article posted over at Harper's dealing with copyright and plagarism. It's pretty interesting stuff and worth a read, especially if you're at all creatively inclined.

Here's a sample:

"Artists and their surrogates who fall into the trap of seeking recompense for every possible second use end up attacking their own best audience members for the crime of exalting and enshrining their work. The Recording Industry Association of America prosecuting their own record-buying public makes as little sense as the novelists who bristle at autographing used copies of their books for collectors. And artists, or their heirs, who fall into the trap of attacking the collagists and satirists and digital samplers of their work are attacking the next generation of creators for the crime of being influenced, for the crime of responding with the same mixture of intoxication, resentment, lust, and glee that characterizes all artistic successors. By doing so they make the world smaller, betraying what seems to me the primary motivation for participating in the world of culture in the first place: to make the world larger."

Fascinating stuff. Check it out.


We took Sadie to the doctor yesterday. She's had this little rash (she calls it a "last") on her face that wasn't going away, so we wanted to get it looked at. The doctor checked her out and it's just a bit of excema, which, apparently, is normal for kids her age. He suggested we try some hydrocortizone creme. So, we went to the Evil Empire, uh, I mean, Wal-Mart and picked some up.

Apparently, hydrocortizone is the nastiest (or as Sadie would say, "mastiest") creme ever. Check this out (I took the liberty of hilighting the mastier parts. You're welcome.):

Candace was just about peeing herself giggling at this during, of all times, dinner last night. I have to say this and I'll let you gross yourself out with the enlarged version: Under "Warnings, Do Not Use," that's some pretty dang specific wording there. Which means somebody tried it at least once. Which means: "Ewww."


"I Put the 'Action' in 'Action Jeans.'"

I lurk over at Chris Sims' Invincible Super-Blog (it's hands-down the funniest comics blog I've stumbled across) every now and then and he posted the following picture which is guaranteed to make your nose bleed immediately:

Go ahead. Click on it so you can read the ad copy. Yeah. I believe the word you're looking for is: "Wow."

Pet Peeve Sounds

I think it is the grossest thing when people clip their fingernails in public places, like, say, the waiting room of a doctor's office. Freaking nasty. Just no class whatsoever.


All Hail YouTube

Oh man, I saw this video on MTV2 really late one night a long, long time ago.

It blew my mind to pieces.

Now, thanks to the majicks of the interwebbz, it can blow your mind as well. Enjoy.

"Beware of life. I have caught life."

Kurt Vonnegut is dead at 83 years of age. I don't know what to say but I feel obligated to say something about a man who shaped a lot of who I am today. So, here it is: my eulogy for Kurt Vonnegut.

It was all my high school English teacher's fault. I'm tempted to blame it on Ms. Noble, mainly because she was a shrew and I didn't like her at all and would love to blame anything I can on her, but I really don't remember. All I remember was reading "Harrison Bergeron," and having my teenage mind blown. After that, there was no turning back. The mix of science-fiction and social commentary pulled me in, and before I knew it, I was the only 15 year old I knew who'd read Breakfast Of Champions, as well as anything else I could score at the used bookstore that sat around the corner and across Flamingo from Chaparral High. (There was a comic book store in that same strip mall, too. Coincidence?)

Vonnegut's work has a lot to love: it's mash-up of classical literature and science fiction, it's interconnectedness and continuity, it's humor, and most of all, it's humanity. Vonnegut, despite being a jaded atheist, is rooted in hoping the best for humanity. His characters, though they may be crazy, misguided or hopeless are still human beings and Vonnegut treats them as such, something a lot of postmodern writers seem to forget to do. In the end, that's what keeps me coming back to the well he drilled: he's a cynical old cuss, but he still loves people, even though sometimes, honestly, they're not worth it.

Part of me feels spoiled to have discovered and devoured his work so soon, so that now, when I want something crazy, hilarious, touching and poignant, I am left will few options. I've tried to find a replacement: I've tried Pynchon (too obtuse) and Adams (too cheeky) and Stephenson (too loooong) and Palahniuk (too depraved). The only author I've found that comes close is Philip K. Dick, another writer whose work straddles that line between science fiction and literature, and though Dick's stories tend to go off the rails more often than not (This is a whole other post... I'll stop now), they still deal with what it means to be a human being in ways that are hard to find outside a Vonnegut book. I still haven't found a worthy substitute, and I guess that's why I feel such a loss at his passing.

I can't say that it's unexpected. Vonnegut's lived quite the life, from being one of the few survivors of the obliteration of Dresden (which is a big part of Slaughterhouse Five) to being one of the most popular novelists of his time. I remember seeing him on PBS's Now accusing Bush of treason and war crimes, and despite his zeal and fervor, he wasn't making a whole lot of sense and looked... old. It was too much, to see him like that, like a grandparent who was in the process of "losing it." I changed the channel soon after, unable to watch my hero crumble into the inevitable.

In his final real novel Timequake, (he would publish some short story collections of previously printed stories as well as a couple of essay books and the entertaining, if non-essential God Bless You Dr. Kevorkian wherein he takes trips to beyond the grave to interview passed-on historical figures) Vonnegut gathered all of his creations together for a Fellini-/Altman-esque send-off (both of those filmmakers are good analogues to Vonnegut), setting them all free at a barbecue. I remember that novel moving me to tears, that the fact that he could say goodbye to all these people who have lived inside his head for so long, these people that he knows intimately (And I mean that literally. In Breakfast Of Champions, we are told the length of each male character's member as part of our introduction to him... it's gross, but, well, funny... maybe it's just me), and feeling that despite their flaws, Vonnegut loves these people. That, in the end, is what I will take from Vonnegut, the hope that, despite all evidence to the contrary, humanity is worth it.

Kurt Vonnegut is dead. Long live Kurt Vonnegut.


Did You Miss Me?

I missed you. It's been a while. Your hair looks nice. You're looking healthy. Have you been working out? How long has it been? Three weeks? Really? Wow. So are you still living over there? Good, good. Same place? Hey, remember that one time? Yeah and then he was all, "Why is there a sturgeon in my pantaloons?" And I was all, "Yoinks!" Oh yeah, good times. Has the doctor looked at that mole? Benign? Oh man, that's great. That's just awesome possum. So, did you ever get that stain off of your ceiling? Man, it's good to catch up like this, y'know?

So anyway, I'm back home and back on the internets broadcasting at 1000 beats per minute, boyeee! Seriously though, I missed blogging. I feel all out of practice and weird. I'm so nervous. What if I forget how to write nonsense? What then? I guess I'll just have to get back on the horse, as we say here in Idaho. Or was that potato? Now all I can think of is a gigantic saddled-up potato. How awesome would that be?

So, what can you look forward to here on the Good Ship Bigredrobot? Well, first up will be a eulogy to the late great Kurt Vonnegut that's been percolating since I got the news of his death this past week. So... sorry to bum you out, but the man was such a pillar in my life I feel like it would be wrong not to say something about the profound effect his work had on shaping me as a human being.

After that, well, who really knows? The sky is the limit, right? Maybe a exposé on the world of underground potato rodeos or a op-ed piece on why Dude, Where's My Car? should be considered one of the best films produced by the human race. Y'know, the usual.

And did I mention that your hair looks nice?


Did Anybody Else See The Announcement Of This Exciting New Technology?

Wow. This is exciting. Google announced this on April 1st. I can't wait to grasp the future!


I Solemnly Swear...

That blogging will occur more frequently once I have access to a computer. I mean, sure, I sit on front of one all day, but that's different. That's work. You can't take company time to blog. That's just not cool. Oh... wait.

Anyway, so I'll post more next week. I promise. I miss you, internets.

An Open Letter To Snow

Dear Snow,

Freaking go away. Nobody likes you. Especially not in April. Seriously. You suck. Big Time.

Also, I hate you.