Hey Everyone, I’m wrapping up the week with an interview from another great blogger, and now published author. You may know him from his blog full of ‘anti-social commentary,’ Mattress Police. I give you Rob “Diesel” Kroese.
Tell us about yourself, Diesel.
I’m the guy who shows up at family gatherings with a book tucked under his arm. If I see a sign on the side of the freeway with a misplaced apostrophe, it can take over my entire consciousness until I’m six miles past my exit. Fortunately, I sort of fell into a job doing software development, for which I get paid very well, and which allows me to spend a fair amount of time writing – for which I get paid very poorly. I’m also a husband, father, Christian, reforming cynic and incurable smartass.
You call your blog ‘insipid rantings’ and ‘antisocial commentary.’ So what’s your blog really about?
My blog is really about whatever happens to be going on in my head on a given day, although I try very hard not to be self-indulgent.
When I blog about a controversial subject, I’ll make it into a joke by either arguing precisely the opposite of my actual opinion or by exaggerating my own standpoint so much that it’s unrecognizable, so it’s virtually impossible to tell what I actually believe.
Most of the time, though, my posts are just ridiculous pursuits of some pop culture notion that most people wouldn’t give a second thought. For example, I once ran across this quote from a microbiologist: “If an alien came from space and studied the bacterial counts, he probably would conclude he should wash his hands in your toilet and crap in your sink.” Well, the notion of aliens crapping in one’s sink is so rife with comic possibilities that that post pretty much wrote itself, as you can read here.
Why did you get started blogging?
I literally started blogging as a joke. Some friends at work coaxed me into setting up a MySpace page, which was the thing to do at the time. I set about uploading pictures of myself, listing my favorite movies and TV shows and picking a profile song…. and then I remembered I wasn’t a fourteen year old girl. Why was I doing this? Who was I trying to impress by listing Def Leppard and Audioslave as two of my favorite bands? I started over, selecting movies (Steel Magnolias, Iron Eagle, Mercury Rising) purely for their metallurgical properties. I listed my interests as moping, procrastinating, and shirking. I cited Batman, Wolverine and Immanuel Kant as my heroes. And then I started to write my first blog post. It started:
“I was accosted this morning by a large sea turtle. I had arisen early to steal the neighbor’s newspaper (I cancelled my subscription when I learned the editor was a freethinker and a bigamist), and just as I stepped outside, I saw it. The turtle must have been a good 5 feet long and 3.5 feet wide (these are shell measurements), and I would estimate that it weighed at least 200 pounds. I certainly couldn’t lift him, and I’m hella strong. I attribute my exceptional strength to a daily regimen of vitamins and backgammon, although I’m also 1/32 Apache Indian, so that’s sort of an X factor.”
After a few months, I moved the blog to MattressPolice.com. And yes, “Mattress Police” is a reference to Fletch.
It’s easy to see you had early potential. I had a prototype blog on MySpace too. How long did it take to get your friends to really call you ‘Diesel?’
About 4 years ago, I worked at a company where there was another Rob, who was a real [jockstrap]. I would get introduced as “Rob,” and I would have to immediately clarify, “But not the [jockstrap] Rob.” And then I would have to clarify THAT by saying, “I’m not necessarily saying that there IS a [jockstrap] Rob, but if there is, I’m not him.” That got old pretty quick, so my co-workers asked me what I’d prefer to be called. I had an answer at the ready, as one should for just such occasions. I said, “I always wanted to be called ‘Diesel.'” That’s what they started calling me, and it stuck. Now people just assume it’s my real name.
For example, a while back I decided that I needed to come up with nicknames for all my co-workers. I started handing out nicknames, like “Sparkles,” “Pipes” and “Spokes.” I was explaining the origins of all these names to another co-worker, and she replied, “Ok, but what’s YOUR nickname, Diesel?”
You’ve moved on from your blog to a self-published book. What’s ‘Mercury Falls’ about?
Mercury Falls started around the same time I started blogging. Ironically, at the same time that I began indulging my smartass instincts on MattressPolice, I was selected to be a deacon in my church. I felt like I was developing sort of a split personality, writing these caustic blog posts and then heading off to a meeting where we would make decisions about how to best help the downtrodden in our town. This led me to the idea of a well-intentioned angel who was also something of a smartass. I decided to set the book at the beginning of the Apocalypse to ratchet up the stakes a bit, and put Mercury into some tough spots to see what would happen.
I’ve bought the book, and can say you can’t go wrong with it. The humor is so dry, it’s like eating a box of sand…but in a good way. A very good way. Imagine the sand being delicious instead of terrible, like Little Debbie’s. Sand that is so good, it’s like a snack treat. Yeah. That’s your book. Just pretend that analogy worked.
You say your blog was taking over your life. What does someone so full of insipid rantings do, while not subjecting strangers to their opinions on the internet?
Well, I read more, for one thing. And I’m trying to teach myself the guitar. And once I can stop obsessing about the success of Mercury Falls, I am going to write another book.
You are acquainted with ‘Crummy Joel’ of ‘Crummy Church Signs.’ Tell us about that.
Joel is one of the first people I “met” online when I started blogging. He’s a very cool guy, and he and I share similar worldviews. We’re both Christians and we take that very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves — or anything else — very seriously. Crummy Church Signs was one of my absolute favorite blogs, but I can totally empathize with Joel’s need to call it quits. He’s moving on to better things as well, and hopefully you’ll have a chance to talk to him about that.
I think there needs to be more of us around who take God seriously, but not so much ourselves.
You have a very manly physique, kind of like Daniel Craig, but with no neck. How do you stay in shape?
Photoshop. And neck-reducing pills.
I work and work at the gym and can’t achieve the neck results you have. My hat is off to you.
Be sure to get anti-social with Rob, check out his blog, Mattress Police, and then think about buying his book Mercury Falls.