Gothbot Reprise

Five years ago a pair of robots met and spooled out respective happy reports. We needed some Halloween costumes and we figured that five years’ time is enough to reprise something that was awesome the first time around. This time the bots have received upgrades.

Once upon a time there was a state of the art Robert Smithbot, complete with the most up-to-date new wave software known to man, at least in the 80s.

Smithbot 4 Smithbot 5


But all the technology in the world couldn’t make Robert Smithbot happy.

Smithbot 7


All he could do was to generate songs from his control panel, signaling his despair.

Meanwhile, in suburban botland, a young girl robot with funny tights and a sulky programming heard these songs.

Smithbot 6


Her hard drive could communicate well with Robert Smithbot’s, and understood that he was generating songs specifically for her. So she went to his concert. After waiting with a crowd of fans, she finally met the legendary Smithbot.

Smithbot 3


Robert Smithbot detected the compatible robot in the crowd and immediately they began networking.

Smithbot 2


After that they transferred long pages of goth code, until both of them became outdated and obsolete. But at least they were happy.


Smithbot 1

Adult-Sized Neckless Batgirl Face on a Toddler, Makes Perfect Sense.

I remember those plastic costumes they had in the 80s and maybe earlier, the ones where the kid has a cheap plastic mask resembling a superhero or villian, with a plastic suit bearing the labeled face of the character one was supposed to be. One year my brother was Darth Vader, with a mask and a plastic suit with Darth Vader’s face on it. I would have preferred to have been Yoda, but unfortunately my parents believed in adhering to proper gender roles and bought me a Princess Leia mask-plus-plastic suit ensemble that year. It’s the first Halloween I can remember being disappointed in my costume, yet not quite old enough or articulate enough to express my real wishes. I also remember being disappointed because not only did I have to be The Girl Character, but the Leia mask featured Leia with blonde plastic hair. Leia wasn’t blonde!

This costume in the picture I can’t remember at all. It appears to be a Batgirl mask, but the accompanying plastic suit seems to be a Disney Princess of some sort. My guess is that one of my parents cobbled this together for me at the last minute from recycled costumes of earlier years.

Pumpkin then

What interests me though, is my companion in that picture. It’s Mr. Pumpkin! I adored Mr. Pumpkin. Whether I was a lame plastic princess or not, every year I got really excited when mom pulled out Mr. Pumpkin from storage. I wasn’t allowed to play with him any other time of the year. He somehow survived all these years when almost every other prop I can remember from childhood has been thrown away or went missing.

Last year Mom finally decided that I should keep Mr. Pumpkin since I always liked him so much. But Mr. Pumpkin got really small- in the first picture he stands taller than my torso. In the second picture he wouldn’t even come up to my knee. My god, I feel so enormous now.

Pumpkin now

Bulldogs are Horribly Deformed

This past Friday we went to the new Darwin exhibit at Fernbank. I couldn’t tell you what’s my most favorite thing about Atlanta, but if I were pressed I could come up with a top ten, probably. One of those top ten is the 21+ nights at the science museum. It’s no fair that people who like art museums don’t have to cope with a million kids climbing all over all the exhibits, but people who prefer science museums have to deal with hordes and hordes of children almost at all times. Ah, but not at Martinis and Imax night- they have been the most quiet and enjoyable science museum outings I can remember. Plus there’s booze!

One thing I like about Darwin is that he loved dogs and had several of them. He applied his observations about selective breeding in dogs and other domestic animals to his development of the theory of natural selection. The thing about artificial selection though, is that humans don’t always favor traits that help animals produce viable offspring. A dramatic illustration of this is the bulldog. 90% of all bulldog births are performed by c-section because they have such huge, stupid heads that we’ve bred into them. It means that without humans, bulldogs would go extinct in just about a single generation, which means that natural selection rejects bulldogs altogether. I love the skeleton they had of the bulldog at the exhibit. Lookit its jaw- it resembles some of the deformed medical specimens from the Mutter Museum. But no, it’s a regular bulldog. It’s also woefully brachiocephalic, which means it can’t even breath properly. Poor deformed bulldog.

Deformed Bulldog

Buddy, 13 years old

we had to take Buddy to the vet to be euthanized. He was two days short of his 13th birthday. I already had a birthday dog-cake planned out for him, but given the condition he was in this morning, it’s unlikely he would have been able to eat it. My rational brain knows that it was his time and I did the right thing, but my irrational brain feels like I’ve betrayed him, since I took him out for one last walk early this afternoon and pretended like nothing was wrong. My crazy-brain feels like I let him down.

It didn’t look like he was in any pain when he died. Jon was able to haul his flu-riddled, feverish self out of bed in order bring Buddy to the vet with me. He had a talk with Buddy out in the car while I went to the vet reception to fill out forms.

Still too numb to think properly, though. I don’t think I’ve ever been in this house without Buddy here. It feels like he’s just hanging out on his bed in the kitchen. It’s still a bad surprise to go in there and see that he’s not there.

Later that night we saw Weird Al because we had to get out of the house, especially Jon, who’s been practically bedridden for days. Jon correctly pointed out that when Weird Al’s parents died, Weird Al was on tour and continued the tour. I remember that- he wrote an open letter to his fans thanking them for their sympathy and support. He also said that touring cheered him up a little in his time of tragedy. So if Weird Al could put on a concert the day he found out that his parents had died, it only seemed fair that last night we could make the effort to go to his show. Besides, when I’m very sad, who’s better suited to cheer me up than Weird Al? I said to Jon “D’you think he’ll wear his fat suit?” Indeed he did. He also had his Amish suit for “Amish Paradise”, which I think is his very best song. I imagined him saying to Jon and me “Hey guys, I’m sorry about Buddy. I have a dog, too- his name is Bambu. I know you guys must be feeling pretty lousy right now. Would it help if I put on my fat suit?”

That was nice of him. Other than that, it still feels profoundly empty in the house. I didn’t know what to do with myself this morning when I realized I didn’t have to let Buddy out or give him his pill.

Buddy's Memorial

That’s us burning the dog’s wooden food + water bowl holder. We called it the dog trough. It was usually grody as hell because Buddy always drooled and horked a lot when he ate and drank.

We had a memorial service while we burned it, recalling all the things we loved about Buddy. Then we roasted marshmallows.