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, 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.