Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Shut Up About Your Show Already!

I can't help myself. The damned thing goes up on Friday.

Robot vs. Dinosaur Presents:


Opening: October 31st, 2008
Closing: November 22nd, 2008
Days and Time: Fridays and Saturdays at 10pm
Location: Gorilla Tango Theatre
1919 N. Milwaukee AveChicago, IL 60647
Tickets: $12
For Tickets, Call 773.598.4544 or visit http://www.gorillatango.com/

Monday, October 27, 2008

Paintball Wednesday

I don't consider myself to be a violent person.

That said, when given the opportunity by the company to take a day out of this work week to go out into a field and shoot paintballs at my bosses and coworkers, I immediately said yes.

Have I ever played paintball before? No.

Do I have any idea how much it stings to get hit by one of those suckers? No, why do you ask?

Am I even athletic? I mean, there's a lot of running around and stuff. I'm just going to end up painfully reminded of how out of shape I am. Was I aware of that when I signed up?

No I'm not athletic. Yes I was aware.

Sure, it may be that I do not believe in running and sure I'm a 6'3" monster so it's not like I hide very easily. I also haven't shot anything resembling a gun since boy scouts. But the immediate benefits, which include:
  1. Skipping work for a day for a company sanctioned event
  2. Drinking beer for free during aforementioned company sanctioned event
  3. Getting a shot off on a sales agent before being mercilessly pummeled with paint

...Outweigh any negatives.

So that's going to be Wednesday. Provided I'm not too busy catching up on Thursday, I'll let you know how that went.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Investing In The Future

So apparently while I've been busy worrying about moving, recovering from sudden illness and producing a sketch show, something funny happened to the economy.

I'm no economist, but this seems to be the deal: Democrats are blaming Republicans; Republicans are blaming Democrats; home owners are blaming the Wall Street Fat-Cats for strong arming them into crazy loans so that they could buy houses they really couldn't afford in the first place, and the Wall Street Fat-Cats have absconded to various tropical locales to live out their days sipping Strawberry Daiquiris poolside. The Government's response to the crisis has been to give several hundreds of billions of dollars that they don't have to various companies in the hopes that the stock market numbers go up again, while simultaneously giving back tax money to the citizens so that they can still buy iPods.

The lesson here for everyone would seem to be something along the lines of DON'T BUY SHIT THAT YOU CAN'T AFFORD, YOU JACKASS but nobody wants to hear any of that foolishness.

In short, we're probably pretty screwed here.

So, given the economic instability of the times, I would suggest that we all start investing immediately in the future.

I'm not talking about Warren Buffet buying stocks during a Wall Street sell off style investing.

I'm talking about hoarding books on the history of rudimentary agriculture, buying case after case of bottled water, constructing bunkers in the backyard, and learning how to throw a spear while running really fast.

Personally, I am looking for a place to buy chickens so that I can start breeding them. I figure once the monetary system collapses and paper money becomes completely worthless (currently the majority of my wealth is represented by little numbers on a computer hard drive somewhere - meanwhile the freaking wireless card on my laptop decided to quit of its own volition, thus breeding confidence in the power of technology), I'm going to need something real to barter with. And that something real is going to be eggs, feathers and delicious chicken meat.

I've begun taking longs walks around Chicago to scout areas that will be both suitable for farming and easily defensible from wild animal attacks and marauding brigand hordes. Also, I'm spending a lot of my free time cutting trees into big posts so that I can build an effective palisade when the time comes. Also, I'm learning how to make smoke signals.

I figure if I start now, I'll have a better chance of surviving the riotous collapse of society. This will put me in a better position to one day become the warlord I've always dreamed of being.

Vote Nat Topping for Warlord, 2014!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Consumed By Show

It's getting around that time in the production process of Are You There God? It's Me, Satan. where I start to think and talk about nothing but the show. So forgive me if that's what this blog becomes over the next couple of weeks. Rest assured, it will eventually go back to what it normally is: two posts a week consisting of monkey knife-fighting pictures.

But for the moment, I wanted to share this:

I drew that picture!

Putting up a show is a lot of work, even just a one hour sketch show. If you are only involved in part of the process - just a writer, or an actor, etc. - obviously you work hard on your part and you kind of get an overall sense of how much work the whole production entails, but for me I didn't really understand until I got involved in actual production work, as I have with Robot vs Dinosaur.

For our last show, Greatest Stories, in addition to acting and writing I also worked on the set. This basically meant building a tree out of foam core, wood and tape. It lived in the kitchen area of my studio apartment. That tree became like a child to me.

This time around I've coordinated publicity, drawn the set (you'll find out what that means when you see the show), helped run auditions, helped cast the show, and directed one rehearsal in addition to also acting, singing and writing.

And that's just my part of the deal. The other writers all have their own similarly time consuming production responsibilities.

The great thing about this, though, is that I'm using a ton of skills from past lives that I haven't used in quite a while. I haven't done this much drawing since I went to college intent on becoming an architect. I also haven't directed since college. Prior to RVD, my previous singing experience entailed one song in one high school musical and one or two sketch show songs.

Yet here I am now, a grown up, using all of this shit I never thought I'd use again and it's a blast.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Our bus hit a guy on my way to work this morning.

After standing in the aisle for a couple of blocks, I had just managed to wrangle myself a seat (I'll punch an old lady in the face in the morning, I don't even care) when the bus driver hit the breaks and the horn. I heard a loud 'thwack!' and someone up front shouted 'Holy Shit!' We stopped, the bus driver opened the door. I saw some dude stand up - he looked like a high school kid - replace the buds from his ipod back into his ears, and walk off apparently uninjured.

I guess the guy had stepped off the curb and the freaking driver was talking on his cell phone (there's got to be some sort of CTA code violation for that) and didn't notice him until too late.

So, we sat at the bus top while the bus driver called in to someone at the CTA. This was at Armitage and Halsted. Then he made us all get off the bus. Then we all crammed on to the next available bus, which was of course crowded.

I can't complain too much. At least I wasn't hit by a bus today.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

NEW SHOW!! The Press Release

Well, you knew it was going to happen eventually. Enough with the politics and pictures of monkey knife fights! It's time to start plugging the new show:

Robot vs. Dinosaur Presents:


Opening: October 31st, 2008
Closing: November 22nd, 2008
Days and Time: Fridays and Saturdays at 10pm
Location: Gorilla Tango Theatre
1919 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
Tickets: $12
For Tickets, Call 773.598.4544 or visit www.gorillatango.com

CHICAGO, IL – Robot vs. Dinosaur proudly presents their new show, Are You There God? It’s Me, Satan. Times are tough everywhere, even in Hell. With Hell crippled by overcrowding, thanks in part to the Internet, Satan may be forced to make a rash decision. But when push comes to shove, will Satan sell out?

Follow along as a father and son journey past demons, sinners and a three-headed puppy on a tour of the past, present and future of Hell led by none other than Satan himself.

Opening just in time for the Halloween weekend, Are You There God? It’s Me, Satan weaves together short comic scenes with compelling narrative to create a funny and playfully irreverent theatrical experience that will leave audiences laughing.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Satan is performed by Neil Arsenty, Kim Boler, Lisa Burton, Jill Fenstermaker, Tim Heurlin, Ryan McDermott, Nat Topping and Trish Vignola and is directed by Geoff Crump.

Robot vs. Dinosaur is Mike Bauman, Geoff Crump, Joe Janes, Joe Linstroth, Chris Othic, Nat Topping and Greg Wendling.

Tell Everyone You Know!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Campaign '08 - Have We Lost Our F@&%ING MINDS?!

Gird your loins and prepare for my cynical civics lesson for the week:

Well, election day is less than a month away, when the enlightened citizenship of this country will elect their leaders and heads of state for the next 2/4/6 years. Of course, we all know what that means: everyone descends into a month long bout of partisan lunacy.

Democrats blame the nation's problems on Republicans and accuse them of being evil. Republicans blame the nation's problems on Democrats and accuse them of being the pals of terrorists. You need no more than to have watched one of the last three debates to see that is true. My favorite question was at this last town hall debate where a lady asked "How can we trust either of you to run this economy when both parties are responsible for ruining everything (I'm paraphrasing of course)." And all the while, the Third Party Candidates wonder aloud what the hell is wrong with everyone that they don't get tired of this back and forth foolishness between the two and start looking at other options.

Before long, we come to the point where I start shouting at you, with specks of spittle on my beard, about how 'my' candidate is a freaking Saint who we must elect at all cost because electing 'your' candidate would bring about a second dark age where we would all be forced to live in thatched cottages without modern plumbing or iPods.

In short, people lose their minds. And it happens every time as far as I can recall in my short time on this little blue and green orb we call home.

This year it seems to be particularly bad.

On the one hand we have Obama, a reasonably intelligent and eloquent albeit legislatively undistinguished Democratic Senator from Illinois who has shot up the pedestal of notoriety to the point where they are already planning out his mug on Mount Rushmore.

On the other hand, we have John McCain, who went from being this guy:

To being this guy:

I remember earlier this summer, when John McCain was promising to run a civil and respectful campaign and Barack Obama had just finished off Hillary the Three AM Filth Queen and I thought, "This might actually be tolerable this year." Alas, no.

For while many Obama followers edge closer and closer towards creepy cult-status John McCain, following the realization that he's probably going to lose the election, decides to give up on "issues" and go down swinging like a wounded mountain lion.

Read this account of a recent John McCain rally.

Are you serious? Some of this is border-line torch and pitch fork wielding mob chasing down Frankenstein kind of crazy! This is still America, right? We haven't been transported back to the French Revolution, right? Is Robespierre running this year?

Robespierre joke? Anyone? No? Okay, moving on.

People: chill the fuck out already.

What ever happened to that trusted American virtue known as cynicism? You know, the one where you realize at the back of your mind that if he's a politician, regardless of political party, he's probably bullshitting you to get elected. The one where you realize that the two Parties are really all about getting their weasels elected over the other guy, and that the whole liberal vs. conservative thing is basically just branding. Anyone remember that?

Democrats: it's okay to be excited about your candidate. He seems like a nice guy and, as I said before, reasonably intelligent. Basically, unless he gets caught on camera beating an old lady with a tire iron he's likely going to win. He's not going to save the world, though, and he's not going to wave a magic wand and fix everything within the first 100 days. Two years of already controlling Congress should have convinced you of this by now. In fact, the next four years will probably suck regardless of who ends up in the oval office.

Republicans: face it, your Party is falling apart and, short of catching Obama beating an old lady with a tire iron on camera your guy's going to lose, and no amount of screaming about William Ayers (which, by the way, has to be the most ridiculous political argument anyone's ever tried to legitimately make since the Know Nothing party) is going to change that. What used to be a party devoted to limited government and lower taxes has devolved into a patriotism abusing group of hawks who spend money like there is no tomorrow. If that's still your bag, that's fine; just don't be surprised when a lot of people are 'inconceivably' kind of turned off to that. For the rest of you wondering what the hell happened to your party, it moved to the Libertarian side of town.

Remember, my fellow Americans, this is a government by the people for the people and, as a result, is a reflection of its people. If those people are jackasses, then a jackass government is what you'll get.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Burn Her

Just in time for the Halloween season comes an article from the Detroit Free Press, one of my home town newspapers. I share this because it is hilarious to me.

"A day after asking a teacher if she was a witch or believed in witchcraft — following a history lesson on early-America’s Salem witch trials — an adult-education student tossed a liquid on a teacher and then pulled out a cigarette lighter, police said."

I'm not completely sure what to say about that. There's so much delicous absurdity in just that one little paragraph that I don't know where to start. I mean I've read some bad plays in my time but I've never actually tried lighting the teacher on file.

Hats off to you, adult-education person.

I wonder what her answer was to the question "Are you a witch or do you believe in witchcraft?" The article doesn't tell you that, does it?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Hello loyal readership of five.

Well, it's been about a week now since I last wrote anything here, so I figured I would write in and give you a catch up post.

When last we left off, I was moving apartments literally across the alley from where I used to live. I was able to accomplish this thanks largely to the efforts of my buddies Pat and Jen and also my mother, who came to town for a couple nights to help me move. I think it's nicer than the last place. I have to say once we got everything in the new apartment it was kind of humbling looking at all of my earthly possessions sitting in a pile in the middle of a room.

I worked Monday and Tuesday, and then took the rest of the week off to get my place in order, which I still haven't completed as I have a lot of things sitting in cardboard boxes - mostly books. It's amazing how much useless shit I accumulated. I threw out a ton of stuff before the move but still; how does that happen?

At any rate, Wednesday I deep cleaned the new apartment with the help of my girlfriend Katie and my mother. Thursday I did some touch up painting in the apartment. Friday I went out and looked at furniture with Katie. Saturday was rehearsal for our new RVD show "Are You There God? It's Me, Satan," (more info on the show to follow eventually) and Michigan football which was painful but sometimes you just can't help yourself, you know? Sunday Katie and I went to get dinner at the Gale Street Inn, which was delicious.

Blah blah blah that's been my week.

I figured I could keep in touch with the blogging world via my HP laptop during the move, with it's handy-dandy wireless card. I pictured myself waltzing over to, oh I don't know maybe a Caribou Coffee, grabbing myself an espresso and some free wifi and then writing amazing and relevant blog posts about, say, the Vice Presidential debate last week (which was kind of disappointing in that Palin didn't outright fuck up and Biden's eyeballs didn't explode out of his head - although Palin's mastery of mangling the English language was enjoyable to watch: "we've got not to (verb)" I think was how she phrased it, but I digress).

Unfortunately, my HP laptop's handy-dandy wireless card suddenly and inexplicably decided to cease working. As in it uninstalled itself of it's own accord. So yeah, I still have to figure that out.

Note to self: double check research before purchasing another HP laptop.

So instead I've been going to the Internet joint on Broadway to take care of Internet related things and check my email. Cheap compared to Kinkos, though I am surprised at the amount of people who are actively and unabashedly looking at porn at this place. It's astounding. No shame whatsoever. I have to cover my head with a paper bag just to think about naked women.

Yesterday I came back to work and the shit storm that always accompanies coming back to work, and now here I am hoping to write something a little more substantive in the coming days.

How are you, by the way?