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Alex Robinson
03 January 2011 @ 02:50 pm

I finally saw that Scott Pilgrim movie all the nerds were angry at me for not seeing. I thought it was okay, though I liked it more than I thought I would. I thought it was very creative and stylish, and didn't think Michael Cera was annoying at all. For me, the only real problem was that the movie just seemed to lack a kind of emotional core. The characters came across as kind of one-dimensional and shallow--I have no idea what Ramona and Scott saw in each other, for instance.
Still, it was fun and I did laugh out loud a couple of times (like the Vegan police bit).

P.S.--incidentally, with his skinny body and gigantic head of shaggy hair I thought Michael Cera looked like he could've played Jeffrey Brown in the Clumsy movie!

Current Mood: coldcold
Current Music: "Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran
Alex Robinson
02 January 2011 @ 07:07 pm

I'm currently reading You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Break Up by Peter Doggett. I've probably mentioned that books about the Beatles are, along with Kurt Vonnegut books, kind of like literary comfort food to me. I've read so many of them that I almost never learn anything new but sometimes they can offer a slightly different perspective on a topic I know like the back of my hand.

As you might guess from the title, this one mostly deals with their post-Beatle careers, starting with the formation of Apple Corp in 1967. I'm currently up to about 1971, so it's the center of the Sue Me, Sue You Blues. It's strange because it sounds like it must've been a horribly depressing situation--the idea of suing bandmates who had been like brothers and helped create some of the greatest pop songs of all time--but I'm finding it compulsively readble. Maybe I'm finding it comulsively readable because it's so depressing. I'm still in a bit of a funk over this writer's block thing so maybe I'm finding it a comfort that my heroes also managed to survive depressing times (in fact I would say these depressing times would see John, George and Ringo make their best solo work).

Everytime I read a good Beatles book I think "I should do a story about the Beatles." It's a tricky idea. Aside from whatever legal hassles it would entail, I would really want to avoid the usual bio-pic pitfalls. You know what I mean: including scenes that only makes sense because the audience Knows What's Coming ("I'm sorry, Mr. Epstein but guitar groups are on their way out" Haha! People in the past were stupid and constantly making ironic statements!). Ideally, I would focus on the characters and you could enjoy the book if you had no idea who they were or that they were even real people.

I've even tried to imagine* structures for the book or how far chronologically I would go.(I was amused at the idea of even presenting the alternate history version in which Paul McCartney was beheaded in a car crash that stupid bloody Tuesday and the Beatles cover up his death) Of course, things start to get less appealing when I realize it would mean drawing period costumes and backgrounds, trying to accurately convey the way they talked, capture reasonable likenesses panel after panel after panel, etc. This is usually about the time I put the idea aside and go back to reading whatever Beatle biography I was reading.
*It's easy if you try! (See how corny that can get?)
Current Mood: anxiousanxious
Current Music: "Tennesee" by The Beatles
Alex Robinson
01 January 2011 @ 11:59 am
Well, it's that time of year: time to pick celebrities for our ongoing death pool. We've been doing this for three years now and interestingly, not a single one of the people we've picked has actually died so the idea is that any picks you've made in the past stay in place until someone actually kicks the bucket. So you don't have to go back and find the old entries, here's the picks:

Alex: Amy Winehouse
Kristen: Carol Channing
Aliza: Andy Dick
Mike: Jack Nicholson
Vania: Jeff Conway
Chris: Stan Lee

2009 . This year we changed the rules a bit. Everyone picked three names and one of those names had to be a "Wild Card", meaning a longshot who wasn't old.

Matt: Dick Cheney, Arthur Lawrence, Michael J. Fox
Todd: Abe Vigoda, Tony Bennet, Charlie Sheen
Kristen: Nick Nolte, Al Molinaro, Miley Cyrus
Alex: Dick Clark, Liz Taylor, Rhianna
Abby: Randy Quaid, Rush Limbaugh, Kanye West
Blair: Jack Nicholson, Hugh Hefner, Lindsey Lohan

And now, the picks made last night!
Chris: Bobby "The Brain" Heenhan, Ray Harryhausen, Melissa "Joan" Hart
Vania: Jimmy Carter, Liza Minelli, Justin Timberlake
Josh: George H.W. Bush, Keith Richards, Zack Galifinakis
Lindsay: Betty White, Joan Rivers, Angelina Jolie
Andrew: Don Rickels, Fidel Castro, Seth McFarlane
Alex: Conrad Bain, Linda Lavin, Verne Troyer
Kristen: Phyllis Diller, Charlie Watts, Justin Bieber
Matt: Rosalyn Carter, Michael Douglas, Marie Osmond*
Carly: Danny Bonaduce, Nancy Reagan, Sarah Palin

Good luck and may whatever god we pray to have mercy on our souls!

*While technically too old to be called a true "wild card" we allowed it since she has a reputation for clean living.
Current Mood: draineddrained
Alex Robinson
31 December 2010 @ 05:19 pm
A great overview of many of the funnymen we said goodbye to over the last year...

Happy new year and here's to none of us appearing on next year's retrospective!
Current Mood: nostalgicnostalgic
Current Music: "Auld Ang Sine" by Lou Rawls
Alex Robinson
30 December 2010 @ 11:37 am

My brother is visiting and we took a break from our Settlers of Catan sessions to play a little Lego Indiana Jones on the wii. We're at the very start of the Temple of Doom section, and it took us about twenty-five minutes just to get past the very first room. The worst part is that we hadn't gotten far enough to save our progress, so we'll have to start all over when we play again!

 Between us we have 79 years of life experience. I am a college educated, award-winning cartoonist. My brother has been a teacher and is currently a high school administrator. We are delightfully baffled by a game easily mastered by eight year-olds.

Current Mood: anxiousanxious
Current Music: "The Trial" by Pink Floyd
Alex Robinson
24 December 2010 @ 05:57 pm

In my book Box Office Poison I have a chapter set at Christmastime in which one of the characters debates the ethicalness of parents lying to children about the existance of Santa Claus. I still think it's kind of weird thing. Here kids are, already knowing so little about how the world works and we all joyously push this gigantic lie on them. It's like Christians (or at least people who celebrate Christmas) are all in some big fraternity and we all gate to haze the new pledges by making them go through some elaborate ritual because we had to.

A new Christmas tradition that has emerged for the past few years is me calling up the daughter of some friends of ours and pretend to be Santa on the phone. The first time I just surprised them and left a message on their machine, telling her to be a good little girl, that her parents love her, etc. But the last two years it's involved me actually talking to her on  the phone. The father preps me ahead of time, telling me what she'll be getting and other details to include.

As acting exercises go it's not really very much of a challenge. I just got off the phone with her a little bit ago. Being naturally self-conscious and insecure it's tempting to interpret her silence as judgemental disgust, but I concede it's also possible she was just dumbstruck. To a kid who still believes in Santa Claus, getting a call like that must be mind-boggling--like getting a call from someone between the President of the United States and God Himself.

As for the ethical dilemma, I have absolutely no problem about lying to other people's children.


sketchy santa fails - Scuzzy Santa

Current Mood: melancholymelancholy
Current Music: "Fists Up" by The Blow
Alex Robinson
22 December 2010 @ 11:58 am
This summer we visited my brother and his girlfriend in Portland and one the two lasting effects of the trip was their introducing us to Settlers of Catan.

It's very weird to me how the game is both obscure and cultlike in its popularity. Being a nerd I'm into games but this game seems to also be popular among people who aren't what you'd normally call gamers. It's kind of like a cross between Monopoly and Risk. It's complex enough to keep you interested but simple enough to pick up pretty quickly.  

So my brother is in town for the holidays and we've been in a Catan frenzy. We've played four games, basically any time we have enough time to squeeze in a game. To make it even more intersting/worse/better, we've started playing with some of the expansion rules (including the one that allows you to play with only two players) and we're especially fond of the "event cards" which replaces rolling the dice with choosing a card instead.

A little less than seventeen years ago I taught my brother how to play chess while visiting him in Costa Rica. Before the trip was over, he was able to kick my ass pretty handily (needless to say we soon stopped playing). I'm getting some ominous deja vu, since in the four games we've played he's beaten me 3-1. Stay tuned to find out how many more games we play before I quit in a pouty fit!
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: "Christmas is for Fucking" by Reggie Watts
Alex Robinson
19 December 2010 @ 01:14 pm

My favorite album of the year is a pretty obscure one: Ethan Lipton & his Orchestra's Honker.
Lipton's songs are a nice blend of humor and meloncholia, mostly done with guitar, upright bass and saxophone (occassionally with drums or other added instruments). I've been a fan for a few years now and this recent album was actually a Kickstarter project, so I'm proud to have my name listed as a "microproducer."

Check it out: http://www.ethanlipton.com/mrsofty.html

Current Mood: complacentcomplacent
Current Music: "I'm Sorry" by Ethan Lipton & His Orchestra
Alex Robinson
17 December 2010 @ 01:26 pm

So I've come up with something of a plan: I've started working on a 24-page story. I'm making it up as I go. It's very different in tone than the stories I usually do. I am trying to work at a faster pace--a few pages a day--with the hope that I will have it done by the end of the month. I will post it on the web when I am done.

Possibly a silly question: what's the best way to post comics on the web these days? On a blog like this? On my own website? God, I'm so behind the curve with this technology.


Current Mood: listlesslistless
Current Music: "Here Comes the Rain Again" by Eurythmics
Alex Robinson
16 December 2010 @ 02:33 pm

I recently had a relistened to bits of Monty Python: The Final Rip-Off (a greatest hits package of stuff from their albums) and it rekindled a desire to listen to all their old albums. When I was a younger man I listened to them constantly but haven't put them in in 15 years, probably.

Here's the problem: I had all their albums in the Instant Monty Python CD Collection. The good thing about this box set (released in 1994) is that featured almost everything they'd done in one handy multi-CD set. The bad thing is that, despite coming with a fancy book, it doesn't list any of the individual sketches. Even worse, each album side is presented as one long track (so each album is divided into two tracks). So, say you wanted to listen to the "Book Shop" sketch (a fave of mine): you'd somehow have to figure out which disc it was on and then fast-forward through a twenty minute long track to find it. It was a tremendous pain the ass.


So while I still have the box set I'm sorely tempted to buy all the individual albums again (or at least the non-movie ones) rather than load a bunch of twenty-minute tracks into my itunes.

Still, it was fun bit of nostalgia to listen to something like "Cheese Shop" and realize that I still knew almost every single bit of it. I've filled my head with a lot of junk over the years, and I'd gladly delete a lot of it (a lot of Star Wars related trivia for instance)  if it meant I could retain more recent and relevent data (like how to play Craps, for instance).

Current Mood: anxiousanxious
Current Music: "Merely a Man" by XTC