Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This week's Suburban Fringe

Hey there kids - sorry for making you hunt for today's Fringe, but my editor decided not to run the column I wrote. Don't be upset with her - it's entirely her right to do such a thing; in fact, it's her job. She felt that the column I wrote was "just too gross, and not funny enough to offset the gross-out factor." And you know, she might be right.

But, since I know lots of folks can't stand a Tuesday without a Fringe, I'm posting it here, on my long-lost blog. Enjoy.

My life with the Smelly Cat

My cat stinks.

I don’t mean that in the figurative sense. He stinks. He smells bad. All the time.

There’s one reason for it, really. He is, to put it bluntly, insanely flatulent.

The cat in question is named Dexter. He’s the youngest of the three cats in our house. (Yeah, we have three cats. Yeah, we actually like it that way. And yeah, I realize that this makes me That Guy With All The Cats. In my defense, they are all very fuzzy.)

We’ve only had Dexter since around Labor Day, so we’re still figuring him out a little bit. A few things about Dexter are already apparent. First, even though he’s the youngest and smallest of our cats, he has already established himself as the alpha male in the household. Not that he had a lot of competition for the job; Frisco is something like 4,000 years old in cat years and only wakes up to eat or have a little “me time” in the litter box, and one-year-old Charlie is about as rough-and-tumble as a tub of baby wipes.

Second, we’re pretty sure Dexter is going to be straight-up enormous when he’s fully grown. He eats constantly and is growing faster than a fat kid locked in a burrito factory.

Third, he stinks.

I’ve never been around a living creature, animal or not, who breaks wind as often as Dexter. He cracks ‘em off like he gets paid to do it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve held him in my arms and had him look up at me lovingly while he softly fires a stink-biscuit into the crook of my elbow. It’s disgusting. Every single one is vile enough to make professional wrestlers weep like little girls.

The whole thing wouldn’t even be that much of an issue if he weren’t the most affectionate cat of the three. Dexter is more consistently desperate for attention than the average Rock of Love contestant. He sits outside our bedroom door every morning, waiting for us to open it so he can jump on the bed and sit on our faces. Literally, he sits on our faces. To him, this is the ultimate form of affectionate cuddling. To Colette and me, it’s like having a fuzzy breathing toilet on our heads. We push him away, but he’s not easily deterred. He usually tries to park himself on our faces two or three times before we give up. We try very hard not to think about what he might be leaving behind after we move him.

I don’t know what to do about it. We’ve tried a couple different kinds of food, but that doesn’t seem to make any difference. Everything he eats turns into gas, apparently. Maybe he’s just gifted in that way, not unlike my brother. Part of the problem might be that he almost never stops eating. He loves chow so much that even when he’s not eating, he’ll often hang around the food dish. It’s like he enjoys being in the company of his beloved kibble-nuggets.

Because he’s eating all the time, Dexter also hangs out in the litter box a lot. It’s kind of remarkable, actually. It’s like he can poo on demand. Every time I’m cleaning out the litter boxes, Dexter sits next to me and waits until I’m done. The moment I put the lids back on, he wanders into one of them and stinks it up like your Uncle Steve after Thanksgiving dinner. This happens every time. It’s like he has some kind of reserve tank in his bowels, so that he can be sure to have a loaded clip of ammo, so to speak, at all times. I don’t know whether to be impressed or horrified. Frankly, I think I’m a little bit of both.

I don’t know what to think about the whole thing. One of the reasons I have come to enjoy cats over the past few years is their remarkable ability not to smell bad. Dogs, for example, often smell. Most dogs only smell good while they’re actually in a bath. By the time you finish drying them off, they once again smell like that towel your roommate in college never bothered to wash and they can’t wait to enthusiastically rub that smell all over you. Cats are clean. If anything on their bodies might possibly generate an odor, they simply lick it off. This, of course, is entirely disgusting, but as long as they don’t care – and clearly they don’t – I am not of a mind to stop them.

Dexter can clean himself all he wants, but it’s of no use. His coat is shiny and clean, but he still smells like a military latrine the day after Taco Night. He can’t clean his intestinal tract with a few licks, you know. If he could, I think I’d have to confine him to a closet in the basement, because really, that just wouldn’t be cool at all. OK, yeah, it would be a little cool at first, but after a while, no.

We’re hoping that maybe this is all just a phase that Dexter is going through. After all, he’s still only five months old, and he has a lot of growing ahead of him. Maybe someday we’ll look back at the Stinky Times and laugh, and Dexter will develop the ability to smell like springtime daisies and fresh-baked cookies.

Of course, the opposite could happen as well. Maybe as he gets older, Dexter will discover entirely new levels of toxicity and develops smells never before seen on our planet. Maybe we’ll have to start changing his litter every hour in order to prevent it from collapsing under its own weight.

I guess for now we’re stuck waiting. And, unfortunately, smelling.

Bob Rybarczyk (brybarczyk@sbcglobal.net) writes stuff. When opportunity comes knocking, he assumes it’s a kid selling raffle tickets and hides in the kitchen. Look for his first novel, “Acoustic Kitty,” at area Borders stores and at online booksellers, and say hi to him on Facebook.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I'm not sure.

I was roller skating with my daughter last night, and it occurred to me that I wasn't sure which was dorker - being a terrible roller skater, or being a fantastic roller skater.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

That's one heck of a toilet seat, lady.

So, this doesn't count as hate mail, but it is interesting mail.

I got an e-mail from someone named Tricia. It's obvious that Tricia works for a public relations agency. As someone who also works at a public relations agency, I can recognize my own kind, much like one zombie will recognize another and not eat its brain.

Unfortunately for Tricia, her client roster includes a company that makes luxury toilet seats.

No, really.

Here's the e-mail. (I took out the company's name and the names of its product lines because I didn't want Tricia to get in trouble with her client. Hopefully a maker of luxury toilet seats has a sense of humor, but I don't want to presume such a thing.)

Hi Bob;

Good afternoon. I hope that you’re doing well today and had a wonderful holiday weekend.

Last month, I had sent you information on a new client of ours, [Company]. [Company] manufacturers eco-friendly and luxurious toilet seats. I wanted to follow-up with you to see if you had any questions, would like samples or high res images.

Their [Brand A] line of high-tech toilet seats combines the latest innovation and design to bring you a new level of luxury and hygiene. With its warm air dryer, the [Brand A] 800 eliminates all need to use toilet paper – yes it’s true! In addition to the warm air dryer, the [Brand A] 800 includes a bidet, water and seat temperature controls, wireless remote control, germ resistant lid as well as many other features. Sheryl Crow can now really only use one piece of toilet paper!!

In addition to the [Brand A] series, [Company] also offers the [Brand B] – a line of deodorizing toilet seats which provide a more comfortable bathroom experience for your family and guests. No more embarrassing odors!! Now, your bathroom will smell of either Citrus & Eucalyptus, Rainforest or Jasmine & Lavender everytime a visit is paid.

To learn more about the [Company] line of eco-friendly toilet seats including the health benefits, visit [web site]. Sold at participating retailers nationwide, the [Company] Toilet Seats range in price from $155.00 to $920.00.

If you would like a press kit, high res images or samples, please let me know.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yep, you read that right: eco-friendly luxury toilet seats. For a mere $920 each.

So awesome. I just had to share.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Haaaaate Mail!

Okay, I know, it has been WAY too long since I've blogged. In order to make it up to you, I have something exciting for you: hate mail.

If you're a fan of my writing at all, you know that I love hate mail. I like the regular fan mail, too, so don't you all go writing me nasty-grams just because. But true, bile-encrusted, nasty hate mail is sometimes way more fun.

I actually got this one a week ago, in response to my surprisingly popular column about my cat Charlie acting like a vampire. It's from some guy named John:

What a poor excuse you are. I am not surprised that you have a job at that horrid thing called a newspaper. It just shows how journalism has sunk over the years. You remind of a p**** who thinks he is cool but just needs a good a**-kicking. Your articles are not cute or funny. It is as if the rag just hired a 15 year old kid who likes to tell fart jokes or actually or more appropriately a 15 year old girl who fawns over boy bands. I know that I am wasting my time even writing a silly a** like you but I am amazed that you are not teaching AV at a poor school district and thinking you have what it takes to be an assistant at the school year book. Do not think that you have some talent. Sure you get paid but so do a******s like those freaks on Jacka**. People are laughing…at you and you are too stupid to know it. Now onto your next juvenile project. Maybe how you just discovered how to j*** off. Loser.

(I put the asterisks in there, by the way. Yeah, this is a blog, but I like to keep it clean here, since anyone can read it.)

Pretty cool, huh? This John guy really hates me. Must drive him crazy that I've been doing this column for seven years now...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Acoustic Kitty - now at Borders!

So I have a little bit of exciting news to share - ACOUSTIC KITTY is now available at three local Borders stores. You can get it at the Sunset Hills, Ballwin and Creve Coeur stores. Even better, the Sunset Hills location is going to have me come by for a book signing on Sunday, September 14. I don't know the exact time yet, but it'll be around 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. I'll let you know for certain once I find out more.

How I got to this point is actually kind of a cool story. I signed up for Facebook a few weeks ago and a woman named Susan added me as a friend because she is a fan of the Fringe. As it turns out, Susan's also the general manager of the Sunset Hills Borders store, and I remembered her because she had said hello to me when I was in the store about a week before that. (It was maybe the tenth time in the seven years of writing "Suburban Fringe" that I've been recognized in public - I'm still not used to it.)

We struck up an online conversation, Susan expressed interest in carrying KITTY in her store and a few of the other local Borders locations, and voila, I am now officially in Borders. Still not quite the same as being in bookstores coast to coast, but all things considered, I'm excited. Baby steps, people, baby steps. If KITTY does well, that might help me land an agent, which in turn would help me get a publishing deal, which in turn would get my book into stores all over the country.

As a "St. Louis-is-a-big-small-town" aside, my wife's cousin used to work at the Sunset Hills Borders and is friends with Susan. So we were only one or two degrees of separation apart to begin with. Facebook just closed the loop. Weird.

Well, okay, maybe that story was more interesting for me than it was for you. But still - at least now you don't have to wait for a copy in the mail if you don't want to. W00t!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hilarity. Nonstop hilarity.

Overheard this morning while buying a soda at a gas station convenience store:

Clerk 1: Hey man. Have you ever seen a Jenny McCarthy movie called "Dirty Love?"

Clerk 2: No.

Clerk 1: It is hilarity. Nonstop hilarity. Jenny wrote and directed it herself.

At that point I finished paying for my soda and left.

"Jenny wrote and directed it herself." Sweet mother of God.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I love me some Neil Gaiman.

I don't think I've mentioned this before, but I'm a big fan of Neil Gaiman. Neil, in case you don't know, is one of the best writers of supernatural fiction working today. He made his mark writing the 90s-era Vertigo comic THE SANDMAN and is also the author of a number of most excellent novels (and big sellers) like AMERICAN GODS and ANANSI BOYS. If you want to know more about Neil, check out his web site and pick up, oh, just about anything he's written.

I'm mentioning him today because lately I've been reading old trade paperbacks of THE SANDMAN and am really loving it. It's creepy, twisted stuff. There's no way I could accurately describe the plot, but if you enjoy graphic novels - and even if you don't - I think you'd like it.

In one of those weird-coincidence type of things, I happened to finish watching Beowulf (the semi-animated film with Ray Winstone in the title role) this morning. (I watch DVDs on my laptop while walking on my treadmill at the crack of 5:45 a.m.) I got to the end, started watching the credits, and who was listed as the co-writer and co-producer? Yep. Neil Gaiman. No wonder I enjoyed it so much.

There's actually a remote chance that Neil and I may have something in common sometime down the road. His agent, Merrilee Heifetz, is currently reading my ACOUSTIC KITTY manuscript. I don't have a literary agent but very much would like to have one so I can have a shot at getting KITTY carried in bookstores everywhere. Keep your fingers crossed; Merrilee is, by all accounts, a fantastic agent, and I'd be very lucky to work with her. She also represents the bestselling author (and St. Louis resident) Laurell K. Hamilton, another crazy-good writer. Who knows if Merrilee will sign me, but heck, I'm honored to have her even consider the notion.

The moral of the story: read a lot, and when you do, find some time for Neil Gaiman stuff. And Laurell K. Hamilton, while you're at it. Oh, and keep your fingers crossed.

The downside to knowing Bob The Excellent.

First of all, before I forget, today is Fringe Day, so if you haven't yet, go check out the latest column. I actually think it's pretty good. I liked it, anyway.

Anyway, that's not the point of this post. The point of this post is to share with you a funny e-mail I got today from my friend Raymee. It read thusly:

i'm considering having a party at my house. the theme of this party will be MEET BOB. here is why.

every week, without fail, a friend will read your column and then write to me (politely including the link) and asking me things about you. is he really funny in person? (to which i reply "no he is an enormous ape" which does not answer the question at all but communicates my opinion of you nonetheless). what was it like to work with bob everyday? (to which i reply "it was like having the life sucked out of me by vampires at the bottom of the sea...but, this one time, in vegas...") is he really tall? (to which i reply "he is an enormous ape).

hope you're happy.

Yeah, all the rotten grammar and lower-case letters were in the original e-mail. I think Raymee does that because she knows it gets on my nerves. We have a special relationship like that.

I do think it's really funny when people act like I'm some kind of celebrity or extra-cool person. I'm convinced that anyone who does will be crushingly disappointed to meet me, as in person I can, at times, exude the personality and charm of a stunned halibut.

Here's how I responded to Raymee:

If you do have this party, I will attend, upon certain conditions:

1. I am carried in and out on one of those thrones like the old Egyptians used, which required four people to lift and move.

2. My throne shall be carried by strippers, all of whom will respond to the name Debbie.

3. The strippers shall be covered in butter and nothing else.

4. A lavish feast of nachos, pizza and cheeseburgers will be prepared for me, by strippers covered in butter and nothing else.

5. All will address me as "Your Most Excellently Good Looking Genius."

6. All must bring copies of "Acoustic Kitty" for me to sign. I shall, however, sign none of them.

Please advise.

She said she's thinking about it. I don't think she's telling the truth, though.

And for the record, I was joking about the butter.

Friday, June 20, 2008


So check this out...ACOUSTIC KITTY is getting reader reviews over on Amazon. I am proud to report that thus far KITTY is average a perfect five out of five stars on reviews. Yep, all three of the people who reviewed my book gave it five stars.

I actually am excited about this. Yeah, it's only three people, but for three folks to buy the book, read it, go to the trouble of writing a review, and then give it a perfect score...well, I think that's pretty cool. Baby steps, folks, baby steps.

Here's what the good people wrote:

Entertaining, March 24, 2008
By T. Raymond
I haven't laughed from a book in a very long time. Could not put the book down! Worth your time!

Very entertaining, June 10, 2008
By J. Heick
I enjoy Bob Rybarczyk's weekly newspaper column so I decided to give his book a try. Now at first it was a slow buildup but by page 100, I was laughing out loud. I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book! I enjoyed his characters, from nerds who only know work, the single mom working because of the good pay, the military vet who lives to shoot something, and the team leader who is all show. Here you find that nothing and no one is what they seem. It's great fun to learn the different layers of the characters, their interactions with each other, and the poor cats... Hello Mr. President!

Faithful column reader turned book fan, May 20, 2008
By C. Behr (Jefferson City, MO)
I've been reading Bob's column for years, so I was excited to read this book. I was thoroughly entertained, even though I typically read books written about women or from the female perspective. The story is humorous and original, with interesting characters.

See? That's not too shabby. I don't even know any of these people. (If I did I can only assume they would have given me horrible scores.)

In order to put these remarkable reviews into perspective, I compared my perfect 5.0 score to that of other allegedly good novels. Here are the average reader scores of a few other books you may have heard of:

  • WHEN YOU ARE ENGULFED IN FLAMES, David Sedaris, 4.0 stars (#4 seller on Amazon today)
  • THE DA VINCI CODE, Dan Brown, 3.5 stars
  • IT, Stephen King, 4.5 stars
  • THE FIRM, John Grisham, 4.5 stars

So there you have it. ACOUSTIC KITTY is better than those other not-quite-as-good novels.

Really, there's no excuse for you to not own a copy. I'm sure of this.

Sounds like I was right.

In this week's Fringe, I wrote about funny t-shirts and wondered if anyone actually wears them in public, despite the fact that retailers seem to keep selling them. My guess is that people only wear them at home, when nobody else can see. Sounds like I might be right. Check out this e-mail from a guy named John:

I'm totally with you on this, but even more so, I capitalize on it. I have two online websites selling funny shirts of my design. Mostly they are "reworkings" of other funny shirts I've seen, but some of them are 100% original designs. Some are just funny or popular quotes from movies and such. One of my sites is geared directly toward adults, the other is a more kid based store with funny shirts for babies and toddlers.Personally, I don't wear ANY of my shirts. I can never think of an occasion to wear a shirt that says "REAL MEN CHANGE DIAPERS", but I'll sell you one. The kid's shop is my big seller though. People are unreasonable when buying things for kids. They'll easily drop their cash in my mailbox for a witty shirt that their kid will fit into for exactly one month. It's ridiculous, but who am I to turn down their money. Anyway, I just wanted you to know that not even the people selling the shirts think that they're quality stuff. I mean, sure I'll feel proud of a particularly clever design or witty phrase, but I would never wear it.

And thus is my awesomeness once again entirely confirmed.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

That figures.

So today's Suburban Fringe is all about how we don't get a spring any more in the Midwest; we just have winter and summer. I spend a great deal of time in the column complaining that we only had a few really nice days before the blistering summer heat settled in.

I went outside just now and lo and behold, it's gorgeous. Sunny, clear and about 75, I'd guess. In other words, the exact type of day I was saying doesn't really exist around here anymore.


Sometimes I think the weather is proof that God exists and that he is having a lot of chuckles at our expense.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

This man would hate my column.

I spotted this story on STLtoday this morning. Considering the three words I use in almost every column are "like," "actually," and "awesome," I have a feeling that even a few paragraphs of any one of the Fringe columns would send him into a murderous rage.

I could probably give up "like," and maybe even "actually," but if you take my "awesome" away from me, I'll become a shell of a man.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Man vs. Hamster

If you haven't checked out yesterday's Fringe, you really should. (Click here to go read it.) I wrote about the hamster that lived in my office for a couple weeks, and I compared the hamster to my only previous office mate, my friend Dean. The folks at STLtoday thought it would be fun to run a poll letting people decide whether they'd rather have Dean or the hamster as an office buddy.

Thus far, the hamster is slaughtering Dean in the voting, but it's early. I feel a little bad for Dean, because I found the single most unflattering photo of him in my files and sent that one in. I envision many more votes today, because the column hit #3 on the most e-mailed list, and that's likely to drive more traffic to the column today.

Forget Obama vs. Clinton. This is the most interesting race of the week. It is for me, anyway.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It wasn't me.

I swear, I did not write this story. But, based on the headline, you'd think I had.

Kinda interesting, actually.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I got Farked.

My column this week got Farked. Fear not, being Farked is actually a good thing.

Fark.com is a web site that aggregates all sorts of weird or interesting or funny news articles from around the web. Now, I would hardly categorize "Suburban Fringe" as news, but since it does appear on a news site, I guess it qualified. Someone - no idea who, because I have no idea how articles are selected for inclusion on Fark - chose to include a link to this week's column about Bluetooth earpieces and the people who abuse them.

But see, that's only half the story. The cool part is that the column topic sparked a huge conversation among the Farkers. Farkers are the people who read Fark every day and discuss the news stories aggregated there. Apparently, a lot of Farkers are just as sick of "Bluetools" as I am. (In some cases, hilariously so.) Other Farkers were just as adamant about their right to wear their earpieces wherever they go, whenever they want. The end result was a 600-post-long conversation. At times it devolved into an argument, but most of the posts (the ones I read, anyway) were at least civil, and most were clever.

The best part, as far as I'm concerned, was that the online conversation offered folks who have never heard of the Fringe to read it, hate it, and then tell the world about how much they hate it. That's right, it was a gold mine of my beloved hate mail.

Here's a few of my favorite insults:

There are a few editorial writers in the world who can carry off an article like this without sounding like banal, cliche, less interesting and much paler copies of Andy Rooney. I'm sorry to say that Bob Rybarczyk is not one of them.

Did we really need an article to tell us something so obvious?

Oh, the humanity, people don't things that I don't do! They must be stopped!

That sure is one insecure, cranky old columnist. Times change, gramps. We don't wear onions on our belts, either.It seems the d*****baggery is in the source, not the subject.

The writer is the dumba** tool here. I'll never wear a bluetooth, but I don't give a fark about how he thinks people are supposed to be walking through a grocery aisle. Maybe if the writer wasn't such a pansy trying to look at everybody else around him like a creepy a** lame wad, he'd enjoy his life a little more. And then he writes a column about it? What a whiner.

Welcome to the 21st century. you'll get over it.

Oh no! Someone I don't even know is wearing something that for no reason at all annoys me, and they have just passed into my field of vision. Obviously I have no choice but to stare at them, and think about it for hours and hours until it eats away at me making me a bitter old shell of a human being! If only I could just turn my head slightly and look away at something... at anything else! Oh the Humanity!!!

I realize this guy getting paid to write this crap shouldn't annoy me, but it does.

Ahh a Bob Rybarczyk blog post made fark. We here in St. Louis we are not sure why this hairless ape with an internet connection still has a job. The amount of suck and smug jacka** is about equal in all of his 'articles.' He really takes the idea that journalists are nothing more then glorified bloggers to a whole new level. His posts are only funny to those who thought Everybody Loves Raymond was good TV.

Attention St. Louis Today writer - this article is 3-4 years behind the times!

That tool that wrote the article is the oldest, smelliest fart of all.

It is not impolite to display a tool that others do not happen to have a use for. It *is* impolite to treat the world as your personal space and get annoyed at others for intruding on it. Another much-ado-about-nothing spacefiller column.

Ignore the column writer. He obviously has a brain tumor from using his cell phone without a bluetooth headset.

Jeebus, who farking cares? I use a bluetooth for driving only but the author sounds more like a whiny d*****bag than the woman who was minding her own business.

Biting social commentary is even better 2 years after everybody else made it.

"Bob Rybarczyk": say that three times real fast, without stuttering.

Dear Mr Rybarczyk: REAL men don't say "Thingies"

This guy gets the award for the most sand in a columnist's vagina. Headsets are annoying but this guy needs therapy for his issues with flashing blue lights.

Bob's rather the doosh, isn't he? Makes me just want to run right out and get his upcoming book. *pfffttt*

whatever dude, i think something should stand up and tell you to stfu. you live in st.louis, nobody cares what you have to say. the only douches are those still using wired headsets.

I'm sure there were more insults in there, but geez, it takes forever to read 600+ comments, and I didn't have time or energy to read them all. And of course a few people mentioned that they thought the column was funny, but eh, I enjoy those by myself and don't really need to repeat them here. But I do appreciate knowing that at least a few folks enjoyed the column.

I also dug that a few of the commenters were appreciative of the Iron Shiek reference I snuck into the column this week. Made it all worth it.

I've now been Farked twice. Here's hoping it happens a third time someday.

And, hey, I liked "Everybody Loves Raymond." Sure, it was a little dorky, but it was funny.

Here's a link to the entire Fark-versation, if you have a lot of time to kill.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I'm sorry - did you say "butt douche?"

The e-mail of the week last week was, well, it was one of a kind. If you recall, last week I wrote about this detox diet Colette and I did. (The column, by the way, has done surprisingly well, staying in the top three most e-mailed stories on STLtoday.com into the weekend.) Anyway, so one of the responses was from a woman named Cindy, who is serious when it comes to detoxing.

Your article on detoxing was VERY funny, highly appreciated by me since I detox people for a living. Yes, my business is colonics or colon hydrotherapy...what a friend of mine describes as a butt douche. So, I am offering you and your wife complimentary colonics - even a series so that you can really feel the difference! You WILL feel better, more energized, and...cleaner! Colonics are a much easier way to cleanse than the diet you tried! I, for one, don't do cleansing diets - they are too hard. So, if you are interested, and no, it doesn'thurt...it's more than an enema, far less than a colonoscopy.

You want to know how hard up I am for column topics sometimes? I actually considered this offer for a day or two. Really. I was almost willing to let this person douche my butt just so I'd have something to write about.

Alas, I realized that there was really no way I could write about that experience and have it published on STLtoday.com. They give me a decent amount of latitude, but not that much. At least, I hope they don't, because I really don't want that excuse taken away from me.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Good lord.

Kansas won the NCAA basketball tournament. Wonderful. Maybe now the Bears will win the Super Bowl, the Cubs will win the World Series, and the sun will crash into my backyard. That would make the year complete.

If you ask me, any shirts or hats marked "2008 NCAA Champs" should say somewhere on them "Mostly 'Cause Memphis Couldn't Shoot Free Throws."

One more free throw, Memphis. One more freakin' free throw. Or just the foresight to foul the KU shooter before he could launch a three. Talk about giving it away. It was like watching Bucker give the World Series to those awful Mets in '86.

Ah well. Life goes on. Well, unless that thing about the sun happens.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Weird day, from a bunny-lovin' standpoint.

Last week I wrote about the week we spent caring for my daughter's class bunny. (If you haven't read it, check it out here.) I didn't get a lot of mail about it. In fact, I think I only got two or three e-mails, all of which arrived the day that particular Fringe was published.

So it was more than a little weird when I got three e-mails today from three different people, all criticizing my care of the bunny. Two of them also criticized the teacher's care of the bunny, which I thought was odd, since I barely mentioned my daughter's teacher in the column.

My guess is that some bunny lovers all got together and decided to bury me under an avalanche of good intentions and bunny-raisin' tips. Which, naturally, is all about a week and a half too late, as I took the bunny back to school and don't expect to have any more bunnies in my house any time soon.

Here's a sampling of what they said:

I was quite disturbed by your article "I don't like the way that bunny is looking at me." You should learn more about what you write about. Pepe was obviously not spayed or neutered or properly handled, otherwise the poor thing would not "stink" or be so intimidated. I really discourage teachers from having bunnies, or any animal for that matter, in the classroom unless it is the teacher's own pet.


Clearly, the manner in which your daughter’s classroom bunny is being kept at school is completely wrong. That poor bunny is not experiencing an appropriate quality of life. Stop picking on defenseless animals and pick on someone your own size.


As a bunny owner, I'm concerned about a number of statements in your column. To be fair to you, it does not seem that the teacher prepared your family very well for taking care of Pepe. It seems that the only thing the teacher told you was to make sure Pepe had some exercise every day. Given that he was in what sounds like a small cage, I'm glad you were responsible and let him run around.

You get the idea. I'm glad there are people in this world who care about bunnies. I'm not one of them. Sorry.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The glamorous life.

I tell you what, by the time I got the kids to bed at 9:00 tonight, all I wanted to do was curl up in bed and watch the NCAA Tournament. I told myself I could take the night off from working on my second novel, simply because I'd already worked enough today.

But then I remembered that I hadn't worked on the novel last night, either. And if I didn't force myself to write on a consistent basis, the second novel would never get done.

So, I wrote for 45 minutes tonight and plowed through another page. It's almost 10:00 now and I'm finally going to relax for the first time today.

Just something to consider the next time you think you might wanna write a novel. And I don't even have a guarantee that this work will ever see the inside of a book store.

Enough whining. I'm going to watch Louisville and Tennesse now, even though I know nothing about either team and have barely watched the Tournament at all this year...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A good cause.

I don't often take time out to promote charity stuff, because, well, I'm selfish and lazy. But today I'll attempt to make up for 0.00001% of my selfish laziness by mentioning an event coming up this weekend that will benefit the families of those who were lost during the February Kirkwood shooting. (Those of you reading this in St. Louis know what I'm talking about. Everyone else can read about it here.)

The benefit is happening at the Corner Pub & Grill, one of the few interesting/cool restaurants in Manchester. The owner/operator of the place, Brant Baldanza, sent me a note about the benefit last week, and since this tragedy struck so close to home, I want to try to do my part, however small it may be. Here's the info about the event:

On Sunday, March 30, from open to close, The Corner Pub and Grill will donate 10% of its total sales to Backstoppers. All proceeds will benefit Backstoppers for those police officers' families affected by the Feb 7 Kirkwood City Council tragedy.

Around 8:00 p.m., Blues alumni and Kirkwood officials will visit The Corner Pub and Grill to accept any personal or corporate donation to Backstoppers.

Please stop by on March 30 for a bite to eat, an ice cold Budweiser, and to make a personal or corporate donation. Your charitable patronage is greatly appreciated.

Just so you know, the Corner Pub is located at the corner of Big Bend and Doughterty Ferry, and the number is (636) 225-1300. They tell me they've already raised $10,000 and would like to double that on Sunday. So if you can, head out and support a good cause. And order the wings. They rock.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tonight, it's Bobby's turn.

For those of you who have been reading my column, you know that last week I wrote about how there are no good restaurants in my neighborhood. Because of it, I ended up getting a ton of e-mails. Like, nearly 200. For me, that is an astronomical number. Most weeks I get maybe five. And that's even if the column is highly read and ends up on the most-forwarded list.

Mixed in with the many recommendations for west county restaurants, I got several really tasty bits of hate mail. I responded to the hate mail in this week's column, simply because I couldn't resist. (As an aside: that's probably the last time I'll write an entire column in response to reader mail. Not only did it really end up being a lot of work, because I struggled to really make my points well, but I just feel like it's a little too self-indulgent. Given that my entire column is self-indulgent, for me to say that is kind of a big deal.)

In this week's column, I quoted a reader named Bobby, who had a lot to say to me. I used maybe 0.0001% of what he wrote. Since the guy went to so much trouble to write these diatribes, I figured it was only fair to reprint them here. So, here you go. Let's see if you stick with them longer than I did.

Dear Sir,
In you column entitled, "West County's great, as long as you don't like food", you reveal quite a bit about yourself, and you sir are what is wrong with our society, St. Louis and America. You have chosen to flee to the deep suburbs to live in a land of cookie cutter Mc Mansions.

You move your family into an area conceived and built on capitalistic greed, and then lament it is all strip malls and chain restaurants. Your world was designed by contractors with the promise of sanctuary from the evils of the urban environment. Be careful what you wish for. Your wish has been fulfilled.

Now you have the audacity to complain your genetically engineered utopia is devoid of character. Of course it is, you paid a steep premium to have you world scrubbed free of character, and the price I am referring to is not over inflated real-estate, but the little bit of your soul you lose every time you patronize a Chotchkie's or Shenaniganz, spend every evening in a big box store, or sit on the highway in your mini-van waiting for hours to get home.

You left a wonderful urban landscape, maybe your parents or grandparents actually did the leaving, but here I am using the collective you in a metaphorical sense. You left the culture and sophistication of the city for the safety, security, and comfort of the hinterlands, and now you want the people who have worked hard to build and nurture that ambience to transplant it to your pathetic little Shangri-La.

Restaurants, architecture, museums, farmers' markets, galleries, theaters, record stores, films, cathedrals, clubs, sports venues, parks, rare bookstores, libraries and concert halls are all part of the fabric of their neighborhoods. Those things cannot thrive outside their natural environment.

The saddest part is people like you do not even understand what you are actually missing. You think you can pick up a few restaurants and sprinkle them throughout the wasteland you have created out there and they will magically bring character and culture. You are wrong.

Restaurants and bars, more so than other cultural institutions, are shaped by their patrons and surroundings, and to succeed in West County an establishment would have to be as whitewashed and family ready as all those chains you are currently bemoaning, and once you filled them with all the happy drones in pastels and polos all charm would dissipate and the franchising would begin.

Okay, you know, on second thought, never mind. He goes on like that for several more paragraphs. And that was just the first of the three. I think you get the idea. There's no way you read all that.

Good times.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'm kind of a jerk.

First, I wanna say thanks to everyone who e-mailed me this week. Unfortunately, for the first time in a very long time, I received so many e-mails that I actually had to stop answering them. If I had written an answer to every single e-mail, as I usually try to do, I'd have spent the entire week doing nothing but thanking people for their restaurant suggestions.

By the way, to the 100 or so folks who recommended Senor Pique on Manchester, we tried it last night. Not bad at all. But it's not the kind of Mexican we prefer. It's more of an authentic Mexican restaurant, with mole and green peppers and stuff like that. We tend to prefer not-actually-Mexican fare, with lots of sour cream and refried beans and nacho cheese. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad place. Just not our style. Plus, it was more expensive than Chimichanga or El Paisano. Kind of a bummer.

Anyway, so I feel bad for being kind of a jerk and not writing everyone back this week. Assuming I'm completely ignored this week like I usually am, I'll go back to responding to all the e-mails I get. (So hey, good news, Mom.)

Oh, and some of the e-mails I got were so off the deep end this week that I've written my next column about them. I'll reprint some of them here in their entirety when the column runs, just so you can see what I'm talking about.

Gotta go pay the bills now. See ya.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I seem to have struck a nerve.

Wow, do you people hate the dining scene in West County.

I should say to anyone reading this post who isn't familiar with STL: you might wanna skip this one. My column this week (click here to read it) was all about how there are almost no good restaurants in my part of town. So if you don't know STL, this week's column and this post are mostly going to bore the nose hairs off of you.

Anyway, for those still with me: it seems that you agree with this week's Fringe. In droves. I must have received 30 e-mails yesterday - and that's a lot for me - and the deluge is continuing today. Keep in mind, most weeks I get maybe 10 e-mails in response to a column. This week I'm probably over 50 already, including the 20+ in my inbox this morning.

I thought this e-mail in particular, from a reader named Frank, raised a good point:

Now that you've "told it like it is" about the West County dining scene, you're probably flooded with e-mail from local restauranteurs inviting you to give their local beanery a try. Heck, they probably even sent you coupons for their signature specialties... dishes like Ham and Cheese Melt, made with genuine Spam and white Velveeta (err... provel, I mean) and topped with bacon crumbles, or a manicotti stuffed with ricotta and bacon crumbles, or jello salad topped with toasted coconut and bacon... I mean, seriously - these people will put bacon on anything and everything if you let them! Okay, so I enjoyed the column. Maybe next time you could try to convince someone to serve a real pizza in this town.

After reading this, I realized, Frank was wrong. I've only received one e-mail thus far from the operator of a restaurant in my area, and that one was from the owner of one of the places I complimented. I'd have thought I'd receive indignant responses from "overlooked" gems in my area. Nope. Lots of recommendations from readers, but that's it.

I'm excited to see, by the way, that the column is atop the "Most Forwarded List" on STLtoday.com this morning. Thanks much to all who forwarded it - when the column hits that list, readership goes through the roof because lots of folks look to that list to see what everyone's buzzing about.

Thanks again for another good week, guys. If I get more interesting e-mail, I'll share. See ya.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Comic chicks rule.

So apparently when I wrote in this week's column that attractive women don't read comic books - excuse me, graphic novels - I apparently offended a couple hot chicks who read comic books.

So saith a reader named Gayle:

After reading your current column I felt compelled to write. As a woman (I'm 34) who isn't completely troll-like (I never even had acne) I felt a bit disheartened that you think other women don't read graphic novels. I read both, comic books and graphic novels. In fact, at the moment I am in the middle of reading "The Long Halloween". To perpetuate this idea that females (of any age) don't enjoy such literary gems is the reason that the 300 pound guy at the comic book store won't stop staring at me when I go in to shop. I'm certain that I am not alone. My problem is that my husband has no interest in them. I will try and get him to read some great Frank Miller Batman work and he turns back to his computer. I think that it is important that people such as ourselves revel in our geekiness. I don't think nerdiness is the proper term, I'm not a social retard. I'm not politically correct, either. I am a geek. I have Star Wars tattoos. Both of my cars have Star Wars license plates. One of my prized possessions is my Spawn #1. And, I can't hardly wait for the new Batman and Hellboy movies. Ironman, not so much.

Thanks for reading my blather. I just got your book. Too bad it isn't a GRAPHIC NOVEL.

As you can see, not only is Gayle "not completely troll-like," she is clearly way awesome, because she is a proud owner of "Acoustic Kitty." W00t!

Next up in the bashing line is Erin:

Man, I love your column, but sometimes you're just plain wrong. I write that with the maximum amount of respect and awe that my fingers can muster.

You see, I am a girl. Woman, I guess, but I'm 24 so I haven't been using that term very long. I was raised on comic books. My Dad read my twin sister and I things like Stuart Little and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory right along with golden age Batman, Superman, and my personal favorite, several varieties of EC Comics. We grew up as regulars at the local comic show, where my Dad set up and sold almost ever month for about fifteen years. I own four boxes of single issues - my personal collection (not to mention the graphic novels and trade collections that I own). I have met the creator of the Green Lantern, along with many other artists and writers.

Where does the problem come in? I'm not, as it seems, a "a pimple-legged nerd-girl". Ew, I'm not even quite sure exactly what that is. Like I said, I'm 24, I'm cute, I work two jobs, I'm in graduate school to be an elementary school teacher, I have lots equally-or-more attractive friends, and my skin is totally clear.

So in conclusion, good for your wife for trying something new, but shame on you for making such a broad generalization (no pun intended)!

Ha, she said broad. But hey, any girl who knows who Green Lantern is, is all right in my book...

Bummer about the "Mamalogues."

This is kinda old news already, but I thought I'd weigh in on it. It turns out that Dana Loesch, the author of the "Mamalogues" column over on STLtoday.com, announced on her blog two days ago that this week's column would be her final one for STLtoday. Apparently she and the folks at STLtoday had a falling out over the style and content of her column. Rather than having me interpret her sentiments, I suggest you check them out yourself here.

Far be it from me to involve myself in the dispute, so I won't. I actually have no more insight about it than you do. Even though our columns appeared in the same environment, Dana and I have never met and have maybe exchanged e-mails once or twice, when one of us was in the mood to compliment the other on a particularly interesting bit of writing. While it is a shame that her writing will no longer run on STLtoday.com, I doubt it'll be hard to find her. Her blog is excellent and is updated far more often than this one is, and it's consistently interesting. Whenever I think to go there, I realize I should do so more often. She's part of the fabric of St. Louis and I'm sure she'll continue to be.

I also want to suggest that readers try to avoid jumping to the conclusion that the editors over at STLtoday.com are evil, awful people. They aren't. I don't work with them full-time, so I don't know anyone there particularly well, but the vast majority of conversations I've had with them have been pleasant and professional. The fact of the matter is that they do have to play within a certain set of boundaries in terms of content. I'm sure not everyone would agree with their standards, but as Dana herself notes on her blog, they're entirely within their rights to have whatever standards they want to have. They have to balance delivering interesting content with the need to attract and retain advertising dollars. Don't be too hard on them, if you're thinking you're inclined to be.

The other comment I have, and then I'll shut up about this, is that the Fringe is not going anywhere, so fear not. As long as the good people of STLtoday.com will have me, I'll continue writing.

Keep it real, Dana, and we'll see you wherever you land. Maybe take a little time off, though, so the rest of us have a shot at the RFT "Best Columnist" title.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Someone wants me to influence the future.

So a couple weeks ago I got a request from a teacher who's organizing a journalism conference for a bunch of local high school kids. She was asking me to speak and talk about the column and about my PR career as well, since lots of journalism students land in PR careers. (I was one of those myself - graduated from Mizzou with a journalism degree a mere 17 years ago. Man, it doesn't seem possible that college was 17 years ago.)

They were asking me to speak for 40 minutes. I was tempted, but as crazy as my schedule has been lately, I was afraid that if I committed to it, that I wouldn't be able to find the time to really devote myself to developing a 40-minute-long speech. Plus, me talking for 40 minutes sounds like a great way to put 500 high school kids into a coma. As I've often said, I'm way funnier in print than I am out loud. So, as flattered as I was by the offer, I turned it down.

What I think is really awesome is that someone thought it would rule for me to exert some sort of influence on the next generation. As if the world doesn't have enough people who read comic books, play video games, find flatulence funny, and write humor columns.

Hm. Come to think of it, the world doesn't have enough of those kinds of people.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Readers of St. Louis Magazine agree: I'm awesome.

This past week, the good people of St. Louis Magazine (in whose February issue yours truly is profiled) ran a poll on their most excellent web site about the awesomeness of my column. Check out the poll question and results:

In “Bob Rybarczyk Doesn’t Mind That You Hate Him” in our February issue, executive editor Matthew Halverson paints a poignant portrait of the love-’im-or-hate-’im online humorist, whose column appears each Tuesday at STLtoday.com. How do you yourself react to Rybarczyk’s “Suburban Fringe”?

Loathe it—what a schmo
Not exactly James Thurber
Frequently fun and funny
Love it—go, Bob!

The way I see it, I have a 79% approval rating. That's higher than George Bush's last three years combined. I think.

What bothers me is that 11% of readers loathe it. If 11 out of every hundred people who read my column this it's awful, why aren't they telling me? I love hate mail.

By the way, I tried to copy/paste the pretty graphic from the STL Mag web site, but I couldn't figure out how to do it on my overly fancy wireless Microsoft keyboard. *shrug*

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bad Boy Mailbag.

So this week I wrote about how women always have a thing for the "bad boy" type, and that it sometimes makes us normal guys mental. (If you haven't read this week's Suburban Fringe, go check it out here. Otherwise all the mailbag stuff below isn't gonna make a ton of sense.)

I don't always get a lot of e-mail from readers, but I did this week, and a few readers had some really interesting things to say.

I'll start with Jay, whose cynical outlook borders on old-fashioned woman-hatin':

I once posted some cynical thought something like this somewhere:

Having a wife means a lifetime of being told to grow up. Act your age. Get your mind out of the gutter. She convinces you to satart acting like a responsible adult. Giving up skydiving. Selling the motorcycle when you have kids. She gets you to agree to no more poker night with your buds. And you actually stop looking at other women. You become a good dad to the kids and you take your job seriously, start dressing like a professional, nurturing a career and trying to make something of yourself.

And then, eventually, the day comes when your bride of many years tells her friend, “You know, I'm not sure what it is with my husband but he sure isn’t as interesting as he used to be.”

Sorry. Told you it was cynical.

Hardcore, dude. I get the feeling Jay could probably use a hug or something. I get the feeling Jay and this next e-mailer, Mark, would really enjoy sharing war stories over a beer or two. Here's Mark's tale.

After getting married and having a child, my wife and I realized that, if we were going to have a comfortable standard of living, I should go back to school while keeping my day job. I finished the schooling, got a big promotion and great raise, and started wearing a shirt and tie to work. Things were going well. I got another promotion, my wife was able to cut back to part-time work, spend more time with our now three kids, buy a home, newer second car for wife...the American dream. Fade to black!

We were out to dinner with another couple, and my wife says she wishes I still had my pick-up truck and wore workshirts and jeans and could run home at lunch like I used to when we were first married. Wishes I would grow my hair out longer, despite my creeping hairloss, or get a hair transplant. The other couple, speechless, looked at me. I responded that I wanted the slender, blonde, 5 ft 10, always-happy woman I had married 12 years before, but that I wasn’t 26 anymore and was grateful for what we had today. Lead balloon!

We’ve been divorced 14 years now and she continues to make her new husband’s life impossible.

Mark is kinda my hero now.

Perhaps my favorite e-mail of the week came from a dude who insisted I refer to him by his professional name, D-Rok.

Your article rang true to the depths of me. I am one of the “bad boys” you mention in your article. My nickname is “D-Rok,” for cryin' out loud. I tour with some of the largest shows, around the world, and women love it. They love the fact that I’m connected to rock-n-roll artists. They love that I travel so much, that I’m more comfortable with a rolling suitcase than an armoire. They love the fact that I call them while backstage with the music strangling any sense of conversation, or from a city they’ll probably never get to visit. They love the shiny silver chain on my wallet, the big throwback cuff watch, the ever-present leather motorcycle jacket and the hair that never seems to be groomed. They love the Harley-Davidson and the 1972 Mustang Fastback. They love to listen to the stories of far-off lands and events so far out they should only happen on cable television.

And they love to go home to normal guys like you.

Women don’t actually dig bad boys. They dig the idea of bad boys. I’ve been married once and had more girlfriends than I can remember, but none of them stick around for more than one holiday. As exotic as our lives are to women, when presented with the reality of having a man who isn’t around for weekend movies and random shopping excursions, and lives a lifestyle in which women will do “anything” to get backstage, they run for the suburbs where "threatening" is nothing worse than bad traffic and the nightly news about North County. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard “I wish you were around more” or “Your lifestyle is too much for me to handle” we could buy the Post and turn it into… whatever the hell we wanted to.

That blues guitarist was singing the forlorn truth of a “bad boy” in his ballads of loneliness. Guys like me will always have women around, and we will always envy guys like you who always have ONE woman around.

Funny how the grass is greener, isn’t it. I’d say more, but that just about says it all.

I like D-Rok, because he makes me feel better about myself. But, dude, maybe next time you spend an evening with two 23-year-old groupies in a hot tub, do me a favor and snap a few pictures. Then I can, uh, show them to Colette and point out to her how pathetic and skanky the girls are. Or something.

The final mailbag thought this week is by far my favorite one. It's from a reader identified only as "dsparkie37."

Us "normal guys" don't consider you a "normal guy." We consider guys like you metrosexual yuppie douchebags.

Actually, "Metrosexual Yuppie Douchebags" would be a great name for a band. Don't you think?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

So far, not a bad Wednesday.

So things aren't too bad today. Well, the day is young, so you never know, but so far it doesn't completely stink.

This week's column is #2 on the most e-mailed list. Pretty excited about that - last week's debuted at #5 and ended up as high as #2. With a little luck, maybe this week's column will hit that magical #1 spot.

I know, this is really only exciting for me, and not such a big deal for you. But I appreciate your reading this far. And if you read yesterday's column and enjoyed it, I appreciate that as well.

I also found out recently that thus far I've sold 61 copies of "Acoustic Kitty" as of the end of January. I'll admit, that was a disappointing number. I guess I was hoping for sales of 150 or so in the first month. But, it is only the first month, and considering it's only being promoted through my column and this blog so far, I suppose I shouldn't be too discouraged. My goal is still to get it published through an actual publishing house, get a little distribution, and maybe sell a whopping 500 copies. We'll see.

I'm hoping that the book will be available at Left Bank Books soon. I dropped off a copy there last week, and they said they would likely offer it for sale, but that the person who handled commission sales there recently quit and hasn't been replaced yet. So I'm waiting for them to hire a new commission sales person. I'll be patient. If I do manage to get the book offered for sale there, I'll be sure to let you guys know.

That's it for now. Gotta dive in to work. If you haven't read this week's Fringe, which is titled "We Normal Guys Hate That Our Wives Dig the Bad Boys," go check it out. I think you'll like it.

Friday, February 8, 2008

#2 isn't as fun today.

So, my column is #2 on the STLtoday.com most e-mailed list this morning, which is cool, because it spent a day at #5, then #3, and now #2.

But, given the tragic news from Kirkwood that's all over STLtoday this morning, the most e-mailed list thing seems entirely unimportant.

Here's hoping the mayor recovers and that the families of those lost are getting as much support as they need. That shooting happened just a few miles from where I live. Really awful stuff.

Look at me, I'm Urban.

So I got an e-mail yesterday from a regular reader named Brian. He said that he had submitted the term "Man Mode" for addition to something called the Urban Dictionary. I'd heard of the Urban Dictionary, which is an online dictionary of all the words and phrases that people really use, but never show up in an actual dictionary. Examples include "January Joiner" (joins the gym in January; over it by February) and "Gangsta Lean" (a common driving position in which the driver holds the wheel with his left hand while leaning to his right toward the passenger seat, usually bobbing his head or bumpin' with the beat).

Anyway, so Brian said that he had submitted "Man Mode," a term I invented for this week's column, for addition to the Dictionary. Lo and behold, today it is an official listing. Check it out. Pretty cool. Not as cool as, say, landing a speaking part in the next Bond movie, but still kinda cool.

Essentially, I'm taking over the Internet, one page at a time. I figure I'll be done by the year 4472.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Good news, and bad news.

You want the good news first or the bad news?

I'll do the bad news first. That's usually what people pick. Not me. I take the good news first. You never know when you might get hit by a bus. Of course, if someone told me good news, then I got hit by a bus, they really wouldn't have to even bother giving me the bad news, because I'd already have plenty of bad news to ponder.

The bad news is that Borders won't carry my book, because it's a publish-on-demand title. In other words, there's not a huge pile of copies of "Acoustic Kitty" in a warehouse somewhere. When you buy it, a machine somewhere prints it and mails it to you. Borders is not down with this approach. Even though each Borders here in town has a St. Louis section, I'm out of luck until or unless I get the book published by a conventional publishing house. So that sucks.

The good news is that there's a new Fringe online tomorrow morning. Of course, if you're reading this on Tuesday morning, that means it's there right now. See? Told you it was good news.

Acoustic Kitty: Huge at Starbucks

One of my coworkers mentioned to me today that he was in Starbucks yesterday and happened to see some dude sipping on a latte and reading a copy of "Acoustic Kitty." How cool is that? Well, I suppose it's really not all that cool for you, but it's pretty cool for me. It makes me want to write more, which is exactly what I'm doing. This week, I'm back to work on "The Man-Whore Detective." (Fear not, that's only a working title. For now.)

St. Louis Magazine story is out!

My long-awaited profile in St. Louis Magazine is all done and printed and is ready for you to read. If you don't feel like buying a copy of the magazine, or are too impatient to dash out to the nearest store, you can read it online here. Even if you read it online, I highly recommend picking up a copy of the real mag. It's good stuff. There's a really entertaining story in there about a dude who cuts people's hair the way he wants, not the way the customer wants. The mere thought of doing that makes my soul want to implode. If I do a thing, and it makes a woman cry, I not only stop doing whatever I was doing, I also attempt to erase any evidence that I did the thing in the first place. Anyway, yeah, go buy the magazine. It's good.

What's really freaky to me is that the editors of this magazine think I'm interesting enough to make people want to buy a copy. Well, me and the impervious-to-sobbing hair stylist and a bunch of other people and places that are discussed in this month's issue. Fortunately it's not an all-Bob issue. That, I suspect, would be an unmitigated, large-nostriled disaster.

I thought the article turned out really well. Matt Halverson, the editor who wrote the piece, is pretty good and accurately insightful. A couple of his observations struck me as being so spot-on that I laughed out loud while reading them, even though they weren't necessarily intended to be funny.

Among the tastier nuggets:

"You only have to talk to him a couple times to understand why the acting thing didn’t work out and why he never tried stand-up, despite having an interest in it: He speaks in a monotone that would put most audiences to sleep. The interesting thing, though, was that when I went back and read the transcripts of our conversations, I found myself laughing at a lot of what he’d said. He’s so dry and unassuming in person that if you’re not paying attention, you’d never even know he had a sense of humor."

This was my favorite paragraph. I've always thought that I'm funnier on paper than I am out loud, but I never really noticed the monotone issue. But once I read that line, I realized how right Matt was. I have since resolved to raise the tone of my voice on every seventh word, every time I spoke, just to break up the monotony. It's incredibly irritating, and I'm always losing count, so obviously I have a few bugs I need to work out.

For the record, I'd still like to try stand-up. I don't think I ever will, but I'd like to.

I also liked this part:

"Beneath all the stories about bodily functions and 'manscaping' and Halloween costumes for pets, there’s the unmistakable subtext—by design or not—of a guy who, even though he may have one day thought he was meant for bigger and better things, has decided that the only way to make a middle-of-the-road life livable is by making fun of it. Go ahead and roll your eyes, but if you go back and look at six months’ worth of his writing, you’ll actually see a common theme start to emerge: 'regular' guy finds himself put in an uncomfortable situation by someone or something else; he complains—impotently—about the effects this situation has on him; he resigns himself to the situation and pokes fun at himself for landing in this predicament in the first place."

Again, I think Matt nailed it pretty accurately. But dang, I didn't realize I'd become so predictable. Next week I'm going to write about the tragedy of the human condition. Or maybe a column about farts. I haven't decided.

Anyway, it's a good article, and I'm proud of it, and if you're a fan of the column, you should read it. In the meantime, I'm going to go back to obsessing about how weird it is to see my name on the cover of a magazine.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Book signing?

A reader named Victoria today suggested that I do a book signing for "Acoustic Kitty." I don't know. Here's an artist's rendering of what it might look like if I did a book signing.

That's me. Note the total lack of other people in the picture. I think I'll pass.
I also might want to take some art lessons. Sheesh.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I think I've been cited.

So check this out. This morning, I went to check the book sales of "Acoustic Kitty" on Amazon (Just $15.95! Cheaper than lipo! Buy now!). I typically find my book's page on the site by searching for my own name.
Well, this morning, when I did that, I didn't get one result - I got two. Intrigued, I clicked through to the other book, Latin American Sport: An Annotated Bibliography, 1988-1998 (Bibliographies and Indexes on Sports History). Now, I'm thinking, there's no way this is actually my name in this book. Must be some other yahoo named Bob Rybarczyk out there who got quoted. I'm hardly an expert on Latin American Sport, ya know?

So I view this book's page, and after five seconds of digging, I discover that one of the searchable pages of the book is an index page, and it looks like this (squint at the last name in the "R" section):

(Sorry for the lousy quality - I'm on my laptop and don't have good image editing software on it.)

Anyway, I look at this, and I recognize some of the other names. Well, okay, I recognize one other name - the one right above mine, Steve Rushin. I know his name because he used to write for Sports Illustrated. That tells me some of the peeps in this bibliographies are other writers. I also know that I once took kind of a cheap shot at Fernando Vina, the former second baseman for the Cardinals, in one of my columns. I can't remember what I wrote; it was something about his rotten on-base percentage maybe. Something like that. Well, Vina's Latin American, right? At least, he's of Latin American heritage. I could be wrong, but I think the dude grew up in Cali or something like that.

Bottom line, I'm wondering if this author cited me. I might buy the thing just to see. That's totally vain, huh? I think it is. But I guess if I weren't vain, I wouldn't be so pretty.

I'll report back. I can't help but notice that the book retails for a mind-crushing $105 - at 264 pages, that's 39 cents a page, homeskillet - but maybe I can snag a used copy.

Update: I see that the book was published in '99. My column debuted in '01. It's looking unlikely that it's me. I might order it anyway. Sometimes I enjoy doing pointless things.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Frisco 'n' Charlie

So in case you read this week's column and wanna know what Frisco and Charlie look like, here they are.

Frisco's on the left. If you look closely, you can see the burning hate in his eyes. Pretty cool.

Busy week.

So today I woke up, flew to New York, stayed for six hours, then flew home. I don’t recommend it.

The good news is that the latest column is online. It’s about how our enormous old cat hates our fuzzy new kitty. Although I have to admit that he has a good point. Ever since we got Charlie, the new cat, Frisco (the old cat) is kinda getting the shaft. Not only does he now have to share his house with an interloper, but he’s now not getting as much attention from the family as he used to. That’s what happens when you’re the old cat. It’s terrible to say, but it’s true, and Frisco can neither read nor understand English, so I don’t have to worry about this getting back to him and bumming him out.

On the upside, Frisco doesn’t get locked up in a bedroom or bathroom every night, and Charlie does. Charlie has a bit of a problem with missing his catbox when he poops. Like, by a few rooms. Apparently our Christmas trees smell like catbox to him. I don’t get it either.

In completely different news, the St. Louis Magazine issue with a profile of me in it comes out later this week. I’m hoping to get my grubby hands on it no later than Monday. I’m very curious to see what my new best friend, Matt Halverson, wrote about me. It’s weird to think that I’m being profiled in any magazine at all. I’m just some guy, you know? But still, it’s cool.

Well, I say that now. I might not if the first sentence is, “Bob Rybarczyk is a guy with enormous nostrils who totally sucks.” We’ll see.

Here’s a picture of Charlie watching me work. Note the awesome double-chin look I get when sitting this way. Also note how much Charlie admires my writing style.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I'm pooped.

Well, I was gonna do stuff tonight like working on the next novel, or writing in my blog, or doing something to help market "Acoustic Kitty." Instead, by the time I got to the end of working all day, going to a science fair prep session at my daughter's school, and cleaning up a bunch of stuff after getting home, I didn't get anything done.

Instead, I chose to check out the debut episode of "Celebrity Rehab." Holy cow. I mean...holy cow. Jeff Conaway, the dude who acted in "Grease" and "Taxi," might be the single most polluted individual on the face of the planet. And keep in mind that this planet is home to Britney Spears, Keith Richards, and Tommy Lee. As if I weren't already getting too hooked on reality TV, now there's this total celebrity train wreck, right there on TV for me to ogle.

Time to veg. Some days one job is plenty. Catch ya later.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Man, this writing stuff is work.

So I've spent, I don't know, half my Saturday afternoon already, trying to update stuff related to "Acoustic Kitty." For example, I've spent well over an hour just trying to get my listing on Amazon to be a little bit more descriptive. What's there now is pretty minimalist. There's maybe 12 words about the book itself on the entire page. I've filled out a few of their forms in the hope that some more descriptive copy will find its way to the page.

What I'd rather be doing is working on the second novel. (Working title: "The Adventures of the Man-Whore Detective.") Yeah, I know, just what the world needs, another detective novel. But I figure there's a reason half the fiction section at Borders is detective novels. (The other half, of course, is chick-lit. If you don't know what chick-lit is, think "The Nanny Diaries.")

Then again, what I should be doing is working on next week's Fringe. I think it'll be funny - it's my take on the current writer's strike and how that war has come to my personal home front. I hope it will be funny, anyway.

Come to think of it, what I really should be doing is packing for my trip to Vegas tomorrow. I'm going there for a short business trip related to my real job.

What I'm going to do instead is play a little Guitar Hero, then run some errands. Only so many hours in a day, ya know?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

St. Louis Magazine: W00t!

Hey kids, just to give you a heads up: Daddy is gonna be in the next issue of St. Louis Magazine. One of the editors there, Matt Halverson, interviewed me for something like 57 hours, and out of all that drivel he managed something like six paragraphs of copy. The rest of it was mostly just me talking about video games.

They also sent a photographer to my house. That was kinda interesting. They asked me to wear my robe and jammies and look like I'd been severely beaten down by life and/or The Man. At first I felt like a total tool, because basically I was just standing in my kitchen, holding a bag of trash in each hand (the photographer's idea), and looking like, well, a really bored dude in a robe. In the end, we decided to have me try making some goofy faces and doing goofy poses, and apparently that worked. I totally felt like I could relate to the girls who pose for Playboy and say that they felt awkward at first, but after a while started posing like they were hosting a slumber party at a fraternity house.

Fortunately, in my case, no nudity was involved. As my new best friend Matt said, we're all very grateful for that.

Anyway, I'm going to be in the February issue, so keep yer eyes peeled. Or not.

Smarmy E-Mail of the Day

Got this from my new best friend Ryan, in response to this week's Porcupine of Death column:

Hey, you actually wrote something entertaining! Good for you!

It's a little-known fact that my new best friend Ryan is kind of a jerkface.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

People love Armageddon

This week's column, it would seem, is kind of a hit. Sweet. I love it when that happens. If you haven't read it yet, go here and read it now. I've received a number of complimentary e-mails about the column, but I keep those to myself, because reprinting them here is kind of a "see how great I am" kind of move. I make fun of the girls on "America's Next Top Model" who think they're all that, so I can't really do the same thing and keep my cred.

Ha, the joke there is that I never had cred. I'm funny.

I did get one kinda interesting e-mail today, simply because it is practically swimming in contempt, and as we all know, contempt rules. It's from my new buddy Thomas.

I just wanted to comment on your article. You obviously have prepared for Armageddon and instead got something that more closely resembles playing football against the Rams. In other words, not much of a battle at all!

What are all the doom and gloom prognosticators going to do now? How can they spread their message of disaster without any evidence of a problem?

Kudos to you for recognizing the 40 shut down was another case of a chicken named little. Much ado about nothing. It is also obvious you were a boy scout. You were very much prepared. The real question now is how are you going to sell your Porcupine of death? You could try EBAY. I know for sure you can get a poster of "dogs playing cards" on ebay. Maybe you can find one with "dogs ordering pizza" too!

On second thought, you may want to hang on to your porcupine of death. After all, the country may have it's first female president by the end of the year. Dogs ordering pizza may be just the beginning of our problems!

He's totally right. I was indeed a Boy Scout. As for Highway 40, the traffic wasn't terrible today, but I'm withholding judgment until Monday, when everybody and their brother is back at work...

Stupid Database

So apparently today if you try to buy "Acoustic Kitty" from Amazon or Barnes & Noble (or, essentially, anyplace except Booklocker.com), the site will show the book as being out of stock. This is a dirty, filthy lie. The book is a publish-on-demand book; nobody ever actually has it in stock. You order it, Booklocker prints it, sends it to Amazon or B&N, and Amazon or B&N sends it to you.

The Booklocker folks tell me that this is a database error on the part of the middleman who provides the bookselling services to other online stores. They're looking into it, but as of 4:06 p.m. today, the problem still exists.

Bottom line, if you want the book quickly, order from Booklocker. If you don't mind waiting in the hope of taking advantage of Amazon's "free shipping over $25" dealio, then maybe try back tomorrow. Sorry, kids. Sometimes the computers is stupid.