Friday, July 30, 2010

Whooping Cough - Not Quite As Awesome As It Sounds

Take it from me. I have it. Or at least I probably have it. I was told on Tuesday by my doctor that my symptoms are classic. Don't worry, you can't catch it from me at this point. I'm no longer contagious, I'm just carrying around the symptoms. They're really annoying.

Symptoms include:
  • Sporadic coughing fits
  • Difficulty breathing after coughing, sometimes resulting in "whooping" sound
  • Extreme cases may result in vomiting and appearance of 1860's top hat on head in men, or full-skirted hoop dresses in women
The immunization for this disease, was developed in 1920 at Evanston Hospital in Chicago, IL. Unfortunately it only lasts a few years, but that makes it effective enough to get you through childhood, which is when this affliction is most dangerous.

As literally every single one of you know, I collect diseases from times gone by. I've already had:
  • Whooping cough
  • Catarrh
  • The Oh-My-Lordies
Next up on my list to get:
  • Hot Mess (Trannygraphis Runwayata)
  • The Ague
  • The Consumption
  • The Vapors

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Robot vs. Dinosaur presents Vikings vs. Sea Serpents - TONIGHT!

A mashup between Roger Corman's "Viking Women and the Sea Serpent" and Peter Weiss' play "Marat/Sade", tonight at 8pm.Tickets are $10, $8 for students with ID and repeat customers. Neo-Futurarium: 5153 N. Ashland at Foster. (773) 275-5255

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More Not So Great Second Lines of Novels

Last year I wrote about the Not So Great Second Lines of Novels. Well, here we go again.

Below are what many consider to be some of the greatest first lines of novels. I have scoured libraries across the world, looking through many texts and author notes, and discovered that in most cases, the second line was even better. (Although, for unknown reasons these lines were never actually published, probably because they towered over and thusly diminished the author’s supposed great first line.) Here are a few:

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. My unhappy family is unhappy in the way that Uncle Leo sits in the corner, staring at his teen aged nieces with hungry eyes whilst drinking mead from a wineskin bag, rubbing the palms of his hands together and making lewd comments before asking if anyone wants to be tickled. - Leo Tolstoy (trans. Constance Garnett), Anna Karenina, 1877

The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. And the nothing new was me lying in the front lawn once again wondering about the whereabouts of my pants? - Samuel Beckett, Murphy, 1938

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. Because I really have to take a whizz. - J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, 1951

It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not. After a bit of confusion, the caller posed the question “Would you like to save money on your phone bill by switching to MCI?”
-Paul Auster, City of Glass, 1985

Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing. He also has a bunch of really good nudie magazines out back in his tool shed. - Miguel de Cervantes (trans. Edith Grossman), Don Quixote, 1605

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. Which you would think means it was staticky and gray, but in actuality it was a deep, neon blue, because the television was hooked up by a coaxial cable to a VCR that had been left on channel three when it should have been tuned to channel four. - William Gibson, Neuromancer, 1984

In a sense, I am Jacob Horner. In another sense, I am wearing Mrs. Horner’s undergarments.
- John Barth, The End of the Road, 1958

Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. She also muttered “Fuck me, these are some expensive flowers.” - Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, 1925

All this happened, more or less. Except for the part where I bragged about having a ménage à trois with two airline stewardesses, which was a complete fabrication. - Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, 1969

I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story. But even in the most egregious telephone game I do not for the life of me know how “Edith was sleeping with the butler” turned into “The butler was eating Edith’s sheep.” - Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome, 1911

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. Then he switched from the common angle worm to white grubs and it was like the fish were just jumping into the boat. - Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea, 1952

I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. Anything to get out of Detroit.* - Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex, 2002

It was a pleasure to burn. It was also a pleasure to rub my crotch feverishly when I thought no one would notice. - Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, 1953

I was born in the Year 1632, in the City of York, of a good Family, tho' not of that Country, my Father being a Foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull; He got a good Estate by Merchandise, and leaving off his Trade, lived afterward at York, from whence he had married my Mother, whose Relations were named Robinson, a very good Family in that Country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but by the usual Corruption of Words in England, we are now called, nay we call our selves, and write our Name Crusoe, and so my Companions always call'd me. And if this be your bookclub selection, you are now truly fuck'd. - Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, 1719

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. When he said, “Shit on me once, and it’s your fault; shit on me twice, and it’s my fault; shit on me a third time, and now we’re getting kinky,” I think he was talking about being in a bad relationship, or he had just come back from the brothel or perhaps he must have been drinking quite heavily, probably all three. - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, 1925

In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. It was a spectacular view but the rent was a little more than we could responsibly afford and thus we maxed out our credit cards going into the fall. - Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, 1929
* For Nat.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Inception Actually Is Worth Seeing

Well, somebody has to write something on the blog and it may as well be me.  Commence bloggery:

You know how there's that movie every summer that everyone's talking about?  And everyone is saying how good it is?  And how everyone should see that movie?  And how that movie will change cinema forever and how freaking great that movie is and how everyone is going to go see it eighteen times in the theatre?

And because everyone is talking about it, you get so jazzed about seeing it?  And then you finally go to the theatre - you make an event out of it, you get the gigantic popcorn/soda combination and the Snow Caps - and you sit down in a crowded theatre and wait patiently through the commercials that have infested the preshow, and then you make it through the previews?

And then the movie happens and then the credits roll and then you think to yourself 'meh?'

Or you think "Yeah I know it was a fully generated fantasty world filled with hot blue aliens, but the story is kind of a knock off of 'Dances With Wolves, isn't it?"

Or even worse, you think "I know a gigantic ship just sunk and that this kind of technical mastery has never before been seen on the big screen, but damn it 'Titanic' kind of sucked and is it okay for me to say that in public?"

Well luckily for you Inception is an instance where it's actually a really good movie, and is actually worth you seeing.

I saw it on Saturday night.  It was great.  I highly recommend that you go see it.  In fact, I recommend you finding the biggest screen you can, plopping yourself down and watching it as soon as you find yourself in the mood for some movie.

It's a long movie, filled with explosions, trippy special effects, a complex but interesting plot, and Leonardo DiCaprio not trying to do an accent.  What more do you want?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What The Cubs Really Need Is Me

Now that the Cubs have finally turned Lou Pinella into an old man, I would like to throw my hat in the ring to be their new manager. I don’t have a lot of qualifications but I did play high school baseball , leading the team in homeruns both my sophomore (2 taters) and junior (1 dinger) years and I also led the team in stolen bases (can’t remember) and was one of only about three players smart enough to wear a cup during most of the games.

What I can really bring to the table is some interesting strategies I learned from playing eight seasons of 16-inch co-ed softball. In those eight seasons, my teams won three championships, some second and third places and I even have one of those “participant” statues on my desk. It’s a little gold guy in a batting stance but if you ask me he was probably not very good because his batting stance is horrible, the bat is perpendicular to the ground and he doesn’t have enough weight on his back foot for my liking. Anyway, between my keen eye for statues with horrible batting stances and my handful of trophies, I think I’m the proven winner the Cubs need to get them out of their 100+ year slump.

Here are a few strategies I’ve learned that I would use if I was managing the Cubs:

Strategy 1. Put the best player as the lead off hitter and as the left fielder. I was the leadoff hitter for most of the years I played softball, and I also played left field. I assume they did this because I was the best player. So I would do this in the major leagues. Since the Cubs do not have anyone you could consider to be the best player, they should trade for Albert Pujols and make him play left field, which leads me to my next strategy.

Strategy 2. Trade for Albert Pujols. He is really good, and if he was on my co-ed softball team he would have batted first. And then I would bat second, except for the fact that a girl had to bat second, because it was co-ed and we had to bat guy, girl, guy, girl, etc. But in the major leagues there are no women players (even though there are some Japanese players and also some of the Cubs bat like girls), so you don’t have to worry about this. So just get Albert Pujols, bat him leadoff and make him play left field and start counting those championships.

Strategy 3. Make Carlos Zambrano play first base. On my softball team, no one wanted to play first base, so if you made the coach mad he or she would sometimes make you play first base as punishment. At the very least they should make Carlos have to bring a 12-pack of beer to every game, because if a player is being a pain in the ass in a softball league, they have to bring at least a 12-pack of beer to each game or nobody will put up with them. And if Carlos brings something cheap and crappy like Keystone you should break his balls for it and make him bring something better next time.

Strategy 4. Take down the outfield walls at Wrigley Field. When we played softball at Grant Park, there were no outfield walls. If you hit the ball through the outfield it would just keep rolling and rolling for an easy home run. I see the Cubs hit lots of balls off of the ivy, or balls that roll all the way to the ivy that end up as doubles instead of homers. If you took those walls down, the outfielders would have to chase the ball a long way down the street and it would be an easy home run. Also, when the other team comes up to bat, you can put the walls back up to make it harder for them to hit those rolling homeruns. Someone will have to invent this technology, though. I bet if we traded for Albert Pujols he could invent it. Albert Pujols can do anything.

Strategy 5. Use aluminum bats. I hit all of my home runs in high school when I switched from wooden bats to aluminum and I exclusively used aluminum bats in softball because you can hit the ball farther. I think if the Cubs switched to aluminum bats, they would hit a lot more home runs. This would be true whether or not we used Strategy 4. Aluminum bats are more expensive, but this is offset by the fact that they last a lot longer than wooden bats.

Strategy 6. When a fat player gets on base, have them pretend they are hurt. When a fat player in softball gets on base, you usually tell them to fake that they are hurt, and then the last person to make an out can come in and run for them. Hopefully this is someone fast and skinny. This strategy might back fire if you have too many fat players on your team as sometimes a fat player will fake an injury and then an even fatter player was the one to make the last out. Then you kind of go “well, we screwed ourselves on that maneuver.” But I think in the major leagues you could expect the fat players to kind of keep track of who made the last out, and if that player is fatter than they are then they should not fake an injury in that instance. I mean, come on, it’s the major leagues and the players should know a little bit about strategy. As the manager of the Cubs I would also try to keep up on this, and if say, Gio Soto got on base I might yell out “Hey, don’t fake an injury, Zambrano made the last out and he’s fatter than you are.” I would also tell Zambrano to fake an injury every time he got on base. Because he’s fat.

Strategy 7. My last, and most important strategy: Use 10 players in the field. In softball you can have 10 players in the field, and we usually went with 4 outfielders when a guy was batting and then we moved that extra fielder to the infield when a girl was batting. If I was managing the Cubs, I would use 10 players in the field and give them a huge advantage over the teams that are just using 9 players. I would put that extra fielder in the outfield on all batters except for when the opposing team’s pitcher or a Japanese player is batting. More than any strategy, I find this one to be the most useful.

So there you go. Please forward these strategies to the Ricketts family. I will be waiting for their call.

Bonus Strategy: Buy the Miami Heat and the NBA. If none of these strategies seem to work, I would just buy the Miami Heat, move them to Chicago, and change their name to the Chicago Cubs. Then I would buy the NBA and change their name to MLB. This would be really expensive, but should be good for at least 3 or 4 championships right there.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

In Other News

BP says oil from its broken well has stopped gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for the first time since April.

Company officials think that the new cap they placed over the busted well has stopped the spill.

In other news, I'm pretty sure that the oil that was in the well is now just out of the well and into the Gulf of Mexico. The cap had nothing to do with it. The well is empty.

I won't believe any other explanation until this cap inevitably breaks and more oil starts leaking into the Gulf of Mexico.

Photo courtesy of James Cameron.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Latest Dispatch from The Saga of the Viking Women

In 1957, Roger Corman had an extra few minutes and directed "The Saga of the Viking Women and their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent" on his way from the studio cafeteria to the john. And it's a gem. One of the best bad movies I have ever seen. Roger Corman is the master of filler. He had a slight script and padded it with "action" that does nothing to forward the story and there's lots of walking. Lots of walking. Without dialogue. I transcribed the film myself. The total numbers of pages... 28. The film is already only 65 minutes, made for the discerning drive-in double feature crowd. So, in order to do my own spin on padding, I mashed the story with a play informally called "Marat/Sade" about a play performed in an insane asylum under the direction of the Marquis de Sade. Swap out the Marquis, insert the serpent, which takes up less than a minute of screen time in the movie, and we got something cooking. I also know Nat, the title character, as an excellent comic song writer. So, another way to pad the show... ask Nat to write and perform a song as the sea serpent. This is the one totally original piece in the show, not taken from the play or from the film, and it's my favorite moment. The bad guys in the film revere the serpent as a god while the vikings regard him as a horrible sea monster. Sadly, he's just misunderstood.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Robot vs. Dinosaurs vs. Vikings!

Part of Film Fest IX: The Perils of the Neo-Futurarium!

The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Great Sea Serpent)

A unique first for the Film Fest, Chicago comedy scene stalwart Joe Janes (Robot vs. Dinosaur, WNEP, 365 Sketches) takes Roger Corman’s 1957 babespoitation fantasy about Viking women and mashes it together with the famous 1963 Peter Weiss play best known as Marat/Sade, directed by the Great Sea Serpent. A metatheatrical feast of lust, betrayal, and the struggle of all human beings to overcome the suffering of being alive, this Film Fest presentation will challenge all of your preconceived notions of both asylum inmates and buxom berserkers.

Featuring: Susie Gutowski, Becca Levine, Spencer McCurnin, Erin Morrill, Nick Cutelli, Emme Williams, Wolfgang Stein, Mike Newquist, Patrick Kelly, Alex Farrington, Sami Hatch, Nat Topping, Geoff Crump, and Lila Collins

Assistant Director: Rinska Prestinary

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased on-line at

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Be Right Back . . .

Well posting on the old Roboblog has been pretty abysmal over the last week, and today's schedule doesn't make it appear as if yours truly will break the pattern.

So, instead of doing nothing, I give you: A Dick Joke A Day For A Week.

If you haven't read it, it's the shortest (like my dick) blog that you will ever enjoy (also like my dick).

And if you have read it, well, you know what you're getting (most likely a venereal disease).


(And would somebody please at least post about the Viking Women or something? Could it be that the entire RvD writing staff is busy watching reruns of their favorite show, Two and a Half Men?)