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Site of the Week – Topless Robot


The name might be racy, but make no mistake — Topless Robot is for nerds. Promising “nerd news, humor and self-loathing,” the site reviews comic book movies like The Dark Knight, offers tidbits from the upcoming Star Wars: The Clone Wars film and recently compiled a list of Mark Hamill’s 10 Greatest Post-Star Wars Roles. And it’s run by Rob Bricken, who used to wake up at 6 a.m. every Saturday morning to wait at Toys R Us for the newest Star Wars toys and who used to keep his Star Wars figure accessories in individually labeled plastic bags for easy identification. And “I’m not even close to the nerdiest person I know,” he says.

The six-month-old website, which garnered one million unique page
views in July, simply wants to be entertaining. And entertain it does.
Some articles carry a “mean-spiritedness” tag. “When I nitpick
mercilessly on news from the live-action GI Joe movie, I try to give
very clear reasons why it sounds monumentally stupid and awful,”
Bricken notes. “Hopefully that puts Topless Robot above the
other jillion nerd sites who just say something ‘sux’ or ‘roxxor’ or
whatever hep lingo the kids use nowadays.” The Daily Lists, a staple of
the site from the beginning, get the most hits, accounting for most of
the site’s traffic. “Nerds love arguing about things, and they love
lists,” Bricken says. “I know Top 10s are everywhere these days, but
they’re fun to read and fun to argue about and fun to mercilessly
nitpick.” A sampling of popular lists: “The 10 Star Wars Toys
That Unintentionally Look Like Other Celebrities” (Slave Leia =
Christian Bale, anyone?), “The 10 Most Insane Child-Warping Moments of
’80s Cartoons” (#9 The Care Bears raise the dead in Care Bears Movie II)
and “The 10 Worst CG Cartoon Movies Ever Made.” Also popular: Bricken’s
weekly Fan Fiction Friday article, with excerpts of “terrible but
insanely creative erotic fan fiction based on nerd favorites,” he
explains, “although most people plan on tearing their eyes out after
reading it.”

To be clear, Bricken — a self-confessed “huge, huge Star Wars nerd” who also counts Mystery Science Theater 3000
among his formative scifi influences — doesn’t even pretend to be
impartial. “The whole point of being a nerd is loving some things
beyond all reason and decency, and hating something for incredibly
minute reasons,” he says. He adds, “I know my obsessions are silly and
ridiculous, and I try to keep that point of view with Topless Robot, even if it’s hidden sometimes.”

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