Topless R.I.P.


Topless Robot, otherwise known as The Robot’s Voice, died suddenly on December 18, 2015, at age eight. Ironically, I got the news while I was writing an article for it on the impending yet planned end of Gravity Falls. WHOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS?

Once I won an original Topless Robot t-shirt in gray by positing that Peter Milligan’s X-Men was the worst comic book run. (If I was entering that contest today, I’d say Brian Bendis’s entire X-Men oeuvre  fails with an intensity & focus normally seen only in success.) I was wearing that shirt when I met the site’s creator & original editor, Rob Bricken, over drinks & inquired how I could become a successful nerd journalist just like him. He said I just had to send him some listicles he liked the gist of. Shortly after I graduated law school, Topless Robot published “The 13 Best Lawyers In Comic Books.” This was my first paid professional writing gig.

I wrote several more articles for Rob until he abruptly left for io9. I applied to become the site’s new editor, but the position was granted to Luke Y. Thompson instead. Similar to the Mike vs. Joel debate among MST3K fans, you can know find bands of warring TR loyalists who swear by Rob or Luke. I was fortunate enough that Luke kept me on as a freelancer following the regime change. While Rob only required me to email in my articles as attachments that he somehow transmogrified into webpages, Luke insisted I upload everything myself via Movable Type. (The site eventually upgraded to WordPress.) I initially balked at this strange new responsibility since it didn’t include a raise for the additional effort, but it did teach me how to compulsively hyperlink.

So losing Topless Robot right before Christmas really cut me to the quick. Not only did I enjoy reading & commenting on its articles, it also laid the foundation of  my career. Learning how to format articles online allowed me to figure out how to do this blog. Without my  Topless Robot portfolio, I wouldn’t have been invited to guest blog for io9. All of that convinced Booktrope that publishing The Dolorous Adventure of Brother Banenose was a worthwhile risk.

I’ll miss Topless Robot economically because it gave me money to rant about stuff I like. I was counting on writing many more articles for it, including the two about movie helmets & Gravity Falls that were not published. It’s extra frustrating because Village Voice Media shut it down before I could convince Luke to run any promotional articles on The Dolorous Adventure of Brother Banenose in the spirit of cronyism. Now I have to compete against Luke & all the other TR freelancers out of jobs for nerdy writing gigs, & I don’t have enough contacts to be good at competition.  So if anyone out there reading this is hiring geeky writers in this over-saturated market, please pick up the receiver so I can make you a believer.

Raise your glass in honor of the labor of Rob, Luke, & all the contributors. Alas & alack! We really shook the pillars of Heaven, didn’t we, Topless Robot?


Somebody found this site by searching “what was the name of the catania in star wars.” Hooray for site traffic via typos! I would also like to know the names of any Catania in Star Wars. Tell me in the comments section!

As a mash-up of of The Shining, The Hunger, & Se7en, I did not expect  American Horror Story: Hotel to be as entertaining as it is. Evan Peters usually gets paired with my least favorite characters, but as the H. H. Holmesian James A. March, he delightfully channels vintage Malcolm MacDowell. He’s matched by Mare Winningham’s loony singsong voice. Hypodermic Sally is also Sarah Paulson’s best role. Why aren’t my walls festooned with Ramona Royale movie posters right now?

It still has its share of frustrating flaws. Even though it has relatively short seasons, the writers still don’t know what to focus on. We needed to see much more of Liz & Tristan falling madly in love & much less non-mystery of the Ten Commandments Killer. The final scene of “She Gets Revenge” was a shockingly perfect ending, so I’m worried that the remainder of the season will manage to ruin it. Also, its vampires are crap. If your vampires can be killed by anything that would kill a regular person then they are crap vampires. (Everything that can kill a vampire should also kill humans but not vice versa.) These don’t even have fangs! I don’t care that at least they don’t sparkle like Evil Harpo because they’re still crap vampires.


I had to take this screencap all by myself because the Interwuzzle failed me.

 This season has convinced me that Matt Bomer should headline the Gambit movie. Aside from his dubious charisma outside of comedies, Channing Tatum’s footballer physique is just too bulky for the lithe thief whereas Bomer just needs red contact lenses. Fox picked the wrong guy from Magic Mike 30! If they just want someone with an improbable name on the marquee, Finn Wittrock would also be a better pick than the current star.

I said I’d take this week off, but my sister chastised me for my laziness. So if this blog doesn’t put you in the Christmas spirit, you’re of a different religion. If you’re lucky enough to receive The Dolorous Adventure of Brother Banenose under your Tannenbaum, send in some pics! But beware the Jólakötturinn! ‘Tis a bloodthirsty tool of the garment industry!


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