Archive for January, 2009

Friday Robots Over NCAR

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most bestest fans

I could be huge in Sweden. It would be the height of awesomeness if some Swedish book publisher decided to put out a collection of my work or if they wanted to publish a collection of Friday Robots.

I’d go on a Swedish book tour and visit Stockholm, Gothenburg, and of course Malmo. I would take speedy trams and trains to get around. I would visit ancient stone formations and the most famous architecture. I would have the chance to go see a film festival of one of the world’s greatest directors. I would wear my winter coat and maybe a souvenir Viking hat I buy at the airport. I may even pay my respects to Sweden’s Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt.

I wouldn’t ever have to go to that other Scandinavian country if there is a rivalry between the two. However, if all is peaceful, I would be more than happy to make a visit.

Yes, if I did a book tour of Sweden I would surely have plenty to see and do in my off time. But my most pleasurable experience would be in meeting the kindhearted and welcoming people of that fabled land. Would I make lifelong friends? Would I endear myself to the locals of some small fishing village? Would I solve an 80 year-old murder mystery and become Sweden’s national hero? We’ll never know until I get a book deal.

So, if you work for a Swedish book publisher and you like the quirky writing of this blog or the unassuming comic strip Welcome to Falling Rock National Park, why don’t you give me a shot? The Swedish public demands comics and Friday Robots.

lovable rogues

We want to love criminals.After all, who among us has not sat at his office desk or her cash register, dreaming of an escape plan? How many of us would love to live outside the confining rules of society, running free with the wolves, punching our enemies with our bare fists and stealing all the video games we could ever desire?

Banks, government, religion. In theory, we’d love to watch all our institutions crumble to dust. That’s the lure of a life of crime.

But there aren’t any embraceable criminals these days. A quick sampling of recent crimes suggest none of the perpetrators is a lovable rogue whose exploits we can merrily follow. Sure, we’d love to thumb our noses at the bumbling cops who can’t ever catch up with the suave cat burgler, but that never seems to happen. Instead, we’ve got a bunch of cops who are hard-working, good people and criminals who are nasty, self-centered fools. What’s the matter with this country? Our criminals are shortchanging us.

We need to hearken back to the days of pirates. Pirates often had better lives (excepting their brutal executions) than the merchant sailors they robbed. In fact, many formerly above-law seamen turned pirate at the first opportunity. The pay was better, the rum was better, and the people they robbed were often rich landowners who routinely mistreated their employees and owned slaves.

What about Jesse James? A ruthless outlaw, James captured the heart of the nation by murdering and robbing. He was so loved, in fact, that Robert Ford was christened a “coward” for shooting James in the back of the head.

In absence of real embraceable criminals, society turns to its storytellers to create a supply. Robin Hood, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Catwoman, and Patrick Swayze’s character in Point Break are but a few of the fictional criminals we turn to in these lean times. Even Batman is, at best, a vigilante whose motives remain shady to the public at large. When we can’t find enough criminals to love, we turn our heroes into criminals. That, my friends, is the true meaning of The Dark Knight.

Why is it that our criminals are so unlovable? Instead of robbing Rich White Guy Bank to save the orphanage, we get teenage thugs who hit a Circle K to get money for crack. There is nothing lovable about meth addicts, nor is cocaine a drug that promotes altruism. I want a witty criminal, a criminal who leaves rhyming notes taunting the investigators. I want a criminal who knows how to dress for any occasion, be it a jewel heist or a yacht party in the Caribbean. I want a criminal who can turn Larry King into a babbling idiot with a mere phone call to his live show. A criminal whose voice is smooth like Frank Sinatra’s, whose eyes pierce your very soul, whose dark mind lures you in to his evil schemes. A criminal to sweep you off your feet.
In this age of crooked investors and petty creeps, drugged-out zombies and twisted accountants, we need someone to remind us that crime can be sexy.


I’m shooting myself in the foot by trash-talking a blog – especially one written by the very editors whose attention I’ve been trying to get for the past eight years – but some statements cannot go by unremarked.

Make ’em Laugh

Humor is all about surprise (a strikingly similar formula to Horror, strangely enough). But it is also about relatability, and demographics, and whatever a syndicate thinks makes a newspaper editor chuckle.

Bill Watterson snuck his weirder tendencies in the back door by making Calvin’s imagination so vivid. Had he sent in Spaceman Spiff as a submission, I have a feeling it wouldn’t have made it to the editor’s Inbox, let alone any newspapers. It seems the safest bet with a comic strip is one that features human characters doing everyday things.

I’m certainly not putting down any of strip that does feature human characters doing everyday things. Like I said, Calvin and Hobbes was, in part, a boy and his parents. Cul de Sac is a “family strip.” Heck, even Charles Addams’ comics featuring the Addams Family could be classified as people doing everyday things (though…weird…things).

Saying “be funny and we’ll syndicate you” is a gross understatement. It should be something more like “be funny in a particular way, with particular characters and particular art, and we might syndicate you. ” But that doesn’t make for a good blog post, does it?

one more reason to hate meth heads

It used to be cold medicine worked. Sudafed, or any medicine containing pseudoephedrine, is like a fist to your nasal passage. It knocks the cold right out of your head. As a bonus, it leaves you with that floaty, disembodied feeling for most of the day.

Well, a few years ago meth heads discovered that they could mix pseudoephedrine (taken from over-the-counter medications) with various other ingredients (frog wort, root of Hoary Tree, salamander mucous) and make their precious, precious meth.

So what does our government, in its glorious wisdom, decide to do? Take pseudoephedrine away from EVERYBODY. That’s like making everyone take off their shoes at the airport because one nutcase tried to hide a bomb in his loafers.

Since pseudoephedrine was banned, Sudafed, Tylenol, and other cold medicines began using a substitute ingredient. This ingredient sucks. It doesn’t work. I want my pseudoephedrine back. I am a law-abiding citizen with a cold, and I demand relief.

Maybe they could put Sudafed in packages designed so that someone on meth would not be able to figure out how to open them. Maybe we could use a code word that meth users are not privy to. “I’d like some of that Toasted Oat Cereal,” I would say to the pharmacist, and he would wink knowingly and hand me cold medicine that actually relieves the symptoms of a cold.

Excuse me, but my nose is running again and I have to go.