Thursday, January 31, 2008

"Happy Slutty"

I would like to take this oportunity to thank all of you friendly visiters who accidentally happen upon this site while searching this infernal "interweb" contraption for something completely unrelated to myself. In particular, I would like to thank that citizen of Vaxjo, Sweden who found me while searching "happy slutty."

Most likely, you were not looking for my Halloween post decrying the rampant sluttery of the season. I can only imagine what you were hoping to find when you stumbled in. Maybe you were just looking for jovial pornographic materials.

Or, maybe you were hoping to find another human being who shared interests with you, both "sluttiness" and "happiness," in the hopes of striking up a long distance relationship. Afterall, Vaxjo, Sweden is kind of a small town. Maybe happiness and sluttiness are frowned upon in the more conservative corners of rural Sweden. Maybe you're the son or daughter of the town's stern Lutheran preacher who only lets you out of the house on select Swedish holidays, like waffle day (March 25th - it's coming up baby!), but even then you must be escorted at all times and you are forbidden to talk to members of the opposite sex. As a result, your only recourse is that one part of your world that your overbearing parents cannot control: that infernal "interweb" land. So maybe you were reaching out in the darkness for a like-minded lonely soul.

Then again, for all I know "Happy Slutty" could be a brand of Swedish soap.

Whatever the cause, I want to thank you for your visit. I sincerely hope you found whatever it is you were looking for though, admittedly, you probably did not.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Quest to Waste More Precious Time

I've finally caved in. After years of holding out, I've finally set up a Facebook account.

I know what you're thinking. "Nat, aren't you too cool for social networking websites?"

No, I'm not.

I keep seeing people hitting a link to this blog from a Facebook webpage (that's right, I'm watching all of you) but I can never visit the referring site because I'm not a member of Facebook. So today the curiosity got the better of me and I set myself up. I can already see this could potentially be a big black hole for my precious time.

So, if any of you people are on facebook, come find me.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Impending Arctic Chill

I woke up this morning and it was a nice, mild 40-some degrees outside so I figured, "Hey, today would be a nice day not to wear my long-johns, and maybe only put on one or two shirts," instead of using my normal layering procedures typical for a January day. I did not bother to check the weather this morning because (A) I don't have access to the weather channel or, for that matter, any television channels at home, and (B) I can't check the internet because I have this nasty habit where I wake up the moment that I need to leave the house to be at work on time.

Well, today I'm kicking myself because, after my nice stroll to work through the abnormally spring-like blissful warmth, I sat down at my computer to check the weather and lo and behold I am screwed.

Today's High? 51 degrees. Tonight? 5 degrees and snowing?! Oh yes, and a red banner at the top of the webpage that screams "SEVERE WEATHER WARNING!!!"

"Severe Weather Warning?" I said to myself. "But it's so nice out. This can't be possible." So, in disbelief, I checked the hourly forecast which, in Nostradamus-like fashion, cryprically details the coming wintery apocalypse. 1:oo PM 49 degrees with wind. 2:00 PM 38 degrees, thunder showers and wind. 5:00 PM 21 degrees and snow... blowing snow. Winds at a healthy 29 mph.

From there it only gets worse. It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't typically take my lunch at 2:00 (thunder shower time) and leave work around 6:00 (snow... blowing snow). I briefly considered setting up a cot here at the office and just waiting it out, but that's not a very appetizing option. So, if anyone sees an underdressed bearded man collapsed in a snow drift between Lincoln and Mildred on George street, that's probably me.

Meanwhile, Katie is in Orlando, Florida today. Sunny, high of 71 degrees.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Quick Thoughts on the Current Race for President

Does anyone else wonder what it must have been like to vote for President of the United States two hundred years ago? You know, back before we had constant polling to tell us who the most popular candidates are, so that we know how New Hampshire voted and can make our choices accordingly. Back before we had nonstop barrages of analysts and news anchors providing opinion pieces and daily updates on every little misstep a candidate makes. Back before biased coverage and expensive paid advertising. Back before percentages, projected winners, official retractions and "too close to calls." Back before the existence of channels devoted entirely to 24-hour news coverage. Back before the very existence of television. Back before you could watch carefully edited snippets of video on the internet instead of having to actually see the candidates with your own eyes. Back before screen presence and physical appearance and statements like "he just looks like a President" were considered qualifications for the job. Back before the voting public was segmented up into anything other than state, county and township. Back before the candidates started being chosen by two political entities that exist primarily as a means of getting certain people elected and only secondarily as a collective of people with a shared ideology. Back before public service was a carreer and not a calling. Back before "change" was considered more a platform (and enough of a platform to actually count for something) than an inherent byproduct of voting in a democratic republic. Back before elections were watched and followed like they were a national sports league, where every victory or defeat counts towards a record and a standing. Back before people talked more about the race itself then they talked about the candidates and their positions.

God that must have been boring. Yech.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Promise Kept: Illness

First of all, I wanted to take a moment to mark a milestone in my blogging career. This post (the one that you are reading right now) is officially my 100th post. That means that, on 100 separate occasions, I decided to sit down and waste your time with nonsensical ramblings and egomaniacal manifestos. My thanks to all of you (that is to say, all three of you) who continue to take in this load of crap, despite the fact that I only ever post three to four times a week, depending on how lazy I feel.

Today, though, I will spurn my natural tendency towards laziness. Because I must deliver on a promise; a promise that I made to all (three) of you yesterday.

Today's Post:

Ladies and gentlemen, sickness is rampant. I was out of the office with a stomach flu on Tuesday. People all over the office where I work have been missing because of various winter-related illnesses. Indeed, our very world seems ill. The global economy may well have the flu, our politics suffer from an excess of phlegm, and foreign policy appears to have a chronic case of explosive gastrointestinal distress. The Earth itself may have a fever or, at the very least, a substance abuse problem.

In short, we are all in need of some serious medication. But where can we go to find that wonderful panacea, that miracle drug that will fix all of our problems?

The answer may shock and surprise you, for the answer is right here:


God, he's so CUTE! Look at that little smile! How can that not warm your heart and make you feel like everything is going to be okay? Whenever you're feeling ill, or worried about the impending collapse of civilization around you, just look at the happy clown-monkey. Go ahead, stare into it's computer altered baby-blue eyes. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Aaah. See? Now that's good healing.

I wonder if one day I will look back at the past month and remember it as my monkey and clown phase....

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sick Yesterday

Hello faithful readers,

I wanted to apologize for not writing anything for almost a week. This was due to a combination of busyness, followed by laziness, followed by busyness again, followed finally by illness. I haven't forgotten you three people who check this regularly. No, I have simply been ignoring you.

I promise I will write you something tomorrow. Or at the least post a picture of a monkey. Or a clown. Or a clown-monkey. Today, though, I'm catching up on yesterday's missed workload.

Talk to you later,


Thursday, January 17, 2008

More Clowns

Evidently Clowns have invaded the Zeitgeist lately. Take a look at this article (courtesy of some yahoo calling himself "Enya's Assassin" on my Comments section).

To sum up an already short article, here's the gist: children hate clowns.

As though this were some great revelation. And, of course, the initial reaction is to blame Steven King's "It" and Batman's Joker for ruining clowning for us all. But think about it: what's not scary about a clown? A clown in and of itself is a weird, creepy thing. I mean, here's a grown man who has caked on white and red make-up to disguise his face, who wears oversized multicolored pants, and who spends the day trying to make friends with little children. I'm not saying that's suspiciously pervy. I'm just saying that... well, no I guess that is what I'm saying.

I would wager that the best a well-intentioned clown can reasonable hope for is a child who is, at best, "guardedly suspicious" of clowns. As far as I know, and feel free to leave a corrective comment for me in the comment section, nobody loves clowns.

Of course, a whole lot of childrens literature and entertainment seems meant to freak the hell out of little kids. Barney the dinosaur was a purple Tyranosaurus Rex. Would you let your child spend his or her day singing and dancing with a notoriously carnivorous prehistoric beast? Would you let your child hang out with Barney's friend B.J.? I didn't think so. How about with a Teletubby? Talk about suspiciously pervy. Look at these bastards:

I'm shuddering right now as you're reading this.

The truth is, adults have tormented the fragile psyches of their children throughout history. Anyone who's read a Grimm Brothers' Fairy Tale (a direct translation, not a watered down picture book) or recited that nightly prayer ("If I die before I wake?") knows this to be a fact.

The question, then, is why do we torment the children with clowns and morbid prayer? Are we trying to prepare them to distrust a world full of creepy, unknown people? Are we trying to desensitize them so that they are able to operate in a world full of lunatics and uncertain, though inevitable, death?

Personally, I like to think it's because we as adults love to freak out the gullible. Because it's funny. And who is more gullible than a child?
I'm going to be a great dad some day.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Kick-Ass Clown

A gift for all of you who are afraid of clowns:

How many of these you can fit into a clown Hummer? Incidentally, this is number two on my list of "Things That Need To Be Chasing Me Before I Will Consider Running One Mile."

Number One, you might ask?

I wonder who would win in a fight? Anyway, rest assured that I plan on actually writing something of worth and value (or at least something over a paragraph) soon. For now, though, stare lovingly into the muscular clown's gigantic bicep.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Born Standing Up

I don't normally like to offer recommendations on books to people. I find that doing so automatically reveals me for the dork that I am - "Oh my God, you're one of those readers, aren't you?" - so normally I keep my reading list to myself.

On those rare occasions where I am asked by some curious and literate acquaintance about my reading list, I am happy to reveal the litany of rare raunchy pornographic magazines from the 1920's and historical fiction books that I love ever so dearly. Of course, most of those curious acquaintances walk away disgusted. I imagine because nobody likes historical fiction books, but what can I do? I can't change who I am.

In this instance, though, I'm going to make a recommendation. Go out and get a copy of Steve Martin's Born Standing Up.

The book is not a raunchy pornographic magazine from the 1920's, nor is it a historical fiction book, so it's a bit of a departure for me. My Dad bought me the audio book for Christmas, probably knowing full well that I would refuse to actively read anything other than my two favorite genres, and I loved the damned thing so much that I went out and bought a paper copy of the book.

Born Standing Up details the rise and eventual decline of Steve Martin's standup career. He could very easily have written about the wild success part and been perfectly fine. I'm sure he could have sold plenty of copied. Luckily, the vast majority of the book is devoted to how he did it and what he learned about comedy, performing, and the business of bringing that to a grass roots audience.

It's a useful book for anyone looking to have a career in comedy and performance, so if you are one of those poor sufferning fools then scrape together some change and go get a copy. It's also interesting for regular humans too, fans or no, just to see what all went in to creating such a phenom.

So that's what I think about books. Also, if you love rare 1920's pornographic magazines, I would recommend "Hairy Hags from the Harding Administration, vol. 4.: The 'Ohio Gang' Bang."


Friday, January 11, 2008

The Great Sigh of Relief

We had our first live performance for Robot Vs. Dinosaur last night at sketchfest. We had a full house between our group and Johnny's Regret, who shared the bill with us, and the whole thing went surprisingly well, even given my inflated egotistical standards.

When we started the writing group that eventually created the show, we set a couple of goals for ourselves regarding what we were hoping to create. We felt that the majority of sketch shows feel rushed and underdeveloped (no disrespect to the sketch community but, with most everyone on fifteen improv teams and eight sketch groups, it's hard to focus), so we wanted to make sure that our work was developed properly and well thought out. We wanted to do something unusual with sketch, something that you don't normally see every day. We also wanted to make sure that we earned our laughs, that even our cruder jokes were at the least not come by cheaply.

I think the show that we performed last night was a reflection of those goals, and I'm really excited that the audience responded as well as it did.

I have to admit that I was worried, right up until that first laugh, that nobody would find the show funny or that they would get lost in the transitions, or that my performance was going to suck, etc. Most of that was irrational nervousness. Only most of it. But, I think when you spend so much time and energy getting a show together, particularly since we had been writing the show since May, you forget that what you are doing is funny.

So last night, as I was hanging out behind the curtain waiting for my first cue, I was able to breath that great sigh of relief when we got our first laugh a good fifteen seconds in. From then on out, the show was what we intended for it to be: it was a whole lot of fun.

We will be working on the show over the next month or so, expanding it so that we can do a longer run sometime in the spring. I'll keep everyone posted on that, but for the moment, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who came to see the show.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Greatest Stories Never Told... TOLD

Shameless plug time, people.

Come check out Robot Vs. Dinosaur in their inaugural show at Sketchfest this Thursday. Here are the details:

The Greatest Stories Never Told... TOLD!
-by RVD Chicago

At Chicago Sketchfest on Thursday, January 10th
Theatre Building of Chicago, South Theatre @ 8:00.
$12.00 for Humans.
FREE for Sketchfest performers (Mutants)

Appearing with Johnny's Regret.

Come one, come all. Bring a friend.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Monkey Sex

There are two types of scientific studies in this world: (1) There's the type of scientific study that advances mankind, leads to the creation of some sort of new dazzling technology or cures horrible diseases; and (2) There's the type of scientific study whose only purpose is to end up on some jackass' blog somewhere.

Case in point on point number 2: Read this article courtesy of MSNBC. Go ahead and read it. It's not that long, and it's about monkey sex - specifically about the lengths male monkeys will go to in order to obtain it. I'll still be here when you get back.


Everyone on the same page? Good.

How does this study serve mankind? Apart from inherent entertainment value, it doesn't. Will monkey sex lead to the creation of a new dazzling technology? Probably not although, if it does it's bound to be truly dazzling. I'm almost certain it's not going to cure any diseases though.

Then why even undertake the study? Because I like to read about sex. Especially bestial sex. And I particularly love it when I can draw some tentative parallels, however trivial, to our human experience.

According to the study: "...after a male grooms a female, the likelihood that she will engage in sexual activity with the male was about three times more than if the grooming had not occurred."

I did a little extra research on the subject and found a couple of pieces of information not included in the article.

For instance, a female macaque monkey is five times more likely to engage in sexual activity with a male who purchases a pomagranet-flavored martini for her, and seven times more likely with a male who listens and is attentive to her needs.

Also, a female macaque monkey is only one third as likely to engage in sexual activity with a male monkey who plays Everquest, an online fantasy role-playing game, then she is with monkeys who play rugby with ex-college roommates on a semi-regular basis.

Surprisingly, a male macaque monkey's propensity for flinging poo at zoo visitors has no affect on their sexual desirability for a female monkey. However, 75% of female macaque monkeys polled answered that they are less attraced to male monkeys who smoke tobacco products than to male monkeys who simply chew gum.

I plan to do some additional research on my own, which I will publish in my upcoming book, "Making it: Monkey Sex and Modern Man," coming soon to your nearest major book retailer.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Locked in a Room with Don Hall and Joe Janes

Chicago Sketchfest has officially started and as a member of a performing group (Shameless Plug time: Robot Vs. Dinosaur, appearing Thursday 1/10 at 8:00 in the South theatre so tell your friends) I get a free pass to the other shows in the festival so, since I didn't really take full advantage of this last year, I went to see a couple of sketch shows last night. Four shows for the price of free. Now that's value.

One of the shows I saw last night was Locked in a Room with Don Hall and Joe Janes: 2 Guys, 1 Cup. I know both of these guys, so my creds as a reviewer are slightly skewed, but what the hell. I liked the show. I may as well recommend it.

Don and Joe were described as "Veteran Comedians" by the Chicago Reader. I believe that the term "Veteran Comedians" is code for bitter and angry, and boy are they ever. Their show dashes madly between disgusting (ass rashes) and disgruntling (commentary on the state of improv and of the country). I've seen shows half this ambitious fail. Luckily, Joe and Don have the chops to pull it off; mostly because of their experience and acting prowess (stoking the fires of their egos here; forgive me) but also I think because if you know or have heard of Don and Joe then you probably know what you're getting into before you even step into the theatre.

Overall, plenty of laughs throughout. They use some multimedia effectively during the scene transitions and the scenes themselves were fun and yet were often pointed with a message (gasp) so they actually meant something too. For me, the coolest part of the show was that they were both able to create great, unique characters during their scenework while also giving us a feel for their real life personalities during the same performance.

There were a couple of bits that fell flat, and the show gets pretty caustic at times in regards to George W. Bush, the Iraq War and health care policy. I have no problem with the point of view, however most of the audience was of the liberal leaning artistic type anyway and after a while it felt like they were beating a dead horse.

This was, however, their first performance of 2 Guys, 1 Cup so they haven't had the opportunity to sort through what works and what doesn't in front of a live audience. They have another performance of it on Saturday (January 5th at 7:00, go to the Chicago Sketchfest website for more details), so I wouldn't be surprised if some of the minor glitches are cleared up by then. If you're free that night and have $12 dollars, go check it out.

Also, just to warn any of you with a faint heart or stomach, the ending of the show is pretty damned disgusting. I don't want to ruin it (or relive it) so I won't say anything more about it. Luckily, they do offer you the opportunity to leave the theatre before the shit hits the... I just had a gag reflex.