Wednesday, December 23, 2009

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

(Yeah I know it's lame but you know what? I'm getting ready to go out of town tomorrow and will be gone until the new year so it's been a little busy around here, but don't worry I still love you, so have a happy holiday and I'll see you when I get back)

Love,

-Nat Topping

Monday, December 21, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

The War on “The War on Christmas”

No Christmas season would be complete without politicians bitching at each other about whether or not it’s politically correct to talk about Christmas in public.


In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have this discussion because all religious holidays from this time of year would be recognized as federal holidays and we’d all have the day off for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. In a just-slightly-less-than-perfect-world-but-much-less-ridiculous-than-our-current-world world, people wouldn’t talk about that kind of thing because it’s an incredibly stupid “issue” that doesn’t warrant anyone wasting their precious time or mental energy.

But alas, the world is not perfect. And so we get to deal with this shit every year.


That's right, people. Prepare for Christmas Rant.

Take, for example, this CNN article entitled “Heated debate again over ‘War on Christmas’ claims." Joy!

House Representative Henry Brown, a Republican from South Carolina (I know, a Republican in South Carolina; you’re shocked and surprised; breathe into a bag or something) feels we need legislation protecting Christmas from ourselves: "What I'm afraid of,” he admits with palpable fear, “if we don't bring some kind of closure to this continuous change, then in 20 years it will almost be completely different from what we see today ... and so we would lose the whole emphasis of what the very early beginnings of Christmas was all about."


Where's your beard, Santa?

By ‘very early beginnings of Christmas’ I can only assume that Rep. Brown means the arbitrary selection of 12/25 for Jesus’ birthday, despite a complete lack of solid evidence for when His birth might have taken place, for the purpose of co-opting the various pagan festivals from which we get such wonderful Christmas traditions as “Yule logs,” “Christmas trees,” and “fun.”

Maybe I’m just cynical.

I don’t understand how anyone can think Christmas is in jeopardy. Every year, the Christmas starts earlier and earlier; the decordations show up earlier and earlier on the store shelves; radios switch to the Christmas music before October 31st is even completely over.


The fact that we even have to talk about this makes me want to rant in ugly fashion about politics and society and all sorts of things that are decidedly not in the spirit of the season.

Look, I love Christmas as much as the next sporadically practicing Christian. I think it's a wonderful time of the year where people exhibit the best qualities of humanity and (hopefully) family. But Jesus Christ, can we please stop trying to legislate every goddamn thing in this country? Liberal, Conservative, I don’t give a damn. Just stop it and leave me alone. I want to enjoy my egg nog in some fucking PEACE.


Nobody wants to kill Christmas. Nobody is going to kill you if you won't celebrate Christmas. Just let it be what it is: a chance to be with your family, or celebrate with your friends, or go to church, or even just a day off of work. That's it. Let it be.

AND, as a side note, I would like to propose legislation that officially bans the use of the following terms unless uttered in a sarcastic manner:

  • (The) War on ________, where the blank is filled with some abstract or generally harmless concept.
  • ________-gate, where the blank is filled with anything other than the word “Water”
  • ________ Nation, where the blank is filled with any sports team, college, or entity other than an actual nation.

These terms make me want to use my mind lasers to explode the Media. And you wouldn’t want that, Media.

Hallelujah… holy shit.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Born With A Stolen Spoon

Here is a holiday exercise in emotional distance and it's relationship to comedy.

Consider this scenario: a drunken 4-year old child is found in the middle of a road, wearing a girls dress and carrying an open can of beer, at 1:45 in the morning. He just finished breaking into a family's unlocked house and stealing Christmas gifts.

That's at least kind of funny, right? I think it's a hilarious image.

Now, consider this scenario: a child emulates his father's destructive behavior in the hopes of being thrown into the same prison so that he can be with the father he loves.

That's tragedy, right?

They're both from the same article about a child from Chattanooga, TN.

I don't really have a larger point here. I just think it's interesting.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I See What You Did There With Those Signs

I'm beginning to rethink my "Crappiest Day of the Week" rankings.

Traditionally, it has been Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Wednesday/Sunday/Friday/Saturday where Monday is crappiest and Saturday is least crappy. I'm thinking of moving Tuesday ahead of Monday. For whatever reason, they have just plain sucked lately.

So, with that in mind, here are two enjoyable links. Enjoy:

This would be from a site called Epic Win FTW, which I suppose is a response to Fail Blog. Be warned: it's mostly pictures of things that dorks would find really cool, so keep that in mind.

And for those of you who have ever wanted to watch Viking kittens perform The Electric Six while floating midair, here's your chance.

Hump day is just around the corner, babies.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Richard Kind is Famous

Double posted to the robo-blog here.

This last weekend was the 50th anniversary celebration for the Second City. The theatre company held all sorts of special reunion shows, round table discussions, lectures, get-togethers, love-ins and other assorted events. In my typical Nat Topping obliviousness - I can barely remember my own birthday much less some theatre company's fiftieth - I nearly missed out on everything.

Luckily, my girlfriend (who is admittedly smarter than me) managed to get tickets to the mainstage show last night. While not strictly a special 50th anniversary function, there were alumni present so we had a combination sketch show and celebrity whale watching expedition.

Before the show started, this guy wandered by our section of the theatre:
I know I'd seen this guy before in a bunch of stuff. I couldn't place where. Neither could my girlfriend. The guy from Arkansas sitting at our table also couldn't place him, and neither could his disinterested girlfriend from Colorado.

Even the four students who snuck in at intermission and took the seats behind us couldn't think of the guys name. We all knew he was famous; we just didn't know why or who he was.

And nobody had enough bars on their e-phones to hop on the interwebs and figure it out!

When the show was over, alumni were invited to take part in the improv set (which was very cool) and it was only then, when he was introduced, that we found out the guys name. As you've probably gathered from the title of today's post, it was Richard Kind. You likely recognize him too; he's had a long and prolific career as a character actor and has been in a ton of stuff that you know of have seen.

I don't really have a point here other than it's a strange phenomenon: quasi-fame. I would also like it noted that he was probably the best improviser on the stage for that set.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday: Your New Currency

Your brief Friday post!!

Lonely? Looking for a relatively uncomplicated relationship with a small and furry animal? Have access gold laying around?

Why not exchange your gold for cats?


(Yes, I know this is a really weird picture. It's one of the first things that popped up when i searched for "Kitten Made of Gold" though so there you go. Thanks, Interwebs!)

Catsforgold.com offers you an easy three step process for turning your excess gold (and who doesn't have gold laying around?) into cuddly, hairball producing lumps of adorable! Follow the link for more deTAILS!

It's a good thing it's not the other way around and they pay gold for cats. Because then I might become...

...wait for it...

A CAT BURGLAR!!

Oh man, I can hear your groans through the monitor.

Le sigh.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bootgate

Yesterday, Clever Title posted what in hindsight can be termed a “crack-pot theory” written by Clever Title’s founding (and only) blogger. The theory suggested that the relatively warm weather that Chicago temporarily experienced yesterday morning was the result of the aforementioned blogger wearing his boots and that the warm weather would continue if a new pair of boots was not purchased immediately, thus ruining the prospects for a conventional snowy winter.

Obviously, yesterday
afternoon’s snow storm and today’s nine-degree weather have cast some doubt on the validity of those assertions put forth in the previous blog post.

In addition, though, it has come to this blog’s attention that certain emails have been leaked to the public (courtesy of the notorious Internet neerdowell known only as Hacker Johnny) detailing the nature of our founding blogger’s research. In the interest of transparency, Clever Title is posting the series of emails below:

------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Nat Topping
To: Clever Title
Subject: RE: Research for Boot Related Temperature Changes
Date: Wed Dec 9 10:18:54 2009

Dear All
Here's the latest draft of BD1. As you can see from the attached, the data from last year doesn’t really support our working assumptions – apparently last year it did in fact snow on a couple of occasions where I was wearing my boots. I have a fix for this; we should leave that part out in the post as that might cast the research from the last two days in a negative light. Besides, I’d really like new boots and I want someone else to pay for them.
Cheers
Nat


From: Clever Title
To: Nat Topping
Subject: RE: Research for Boot Related Temperature Changes
Date: Wed Dec 9 10:34:12 2009

Nat,
First of all, why are you emailing this? Clever Title is administered by you. You are just emailing yourself incriminating evidence. You think this kind of shit is safe on the internet? It’s not. You’re almost as bad as Tiger Woods. Except that Tiger Woods is a billionaire who plays golf and gets laid all the time – so really in a sense you are worse than Tiger Woods. Regardless, stop emailing yourself.
And second, where is this “Cheers” signoff coming from? It’s pretentious and you’re not English. Stop it.
Sincerely,
-Yourself

**Visit Clever Title at ntopping.blogspot.com. “We won’t disappoint you too much” **


From: Nat Topping
To: Clever Title
Cc: Hacker Johnny
Subject: RE: Research for Boot Related Temperature Changes
Date: Wed Dec 9 10:35:00 2009

Jesus, what the hell is your problem today? I’d think you’d be happy not having to post a stupid picture today. Apparently I was wrong.
Cheers (aka Kiss My Ass)
Nat


From: Clever Title
To: Nat Topping
Cc: Hacker Johnny
Subject: RE: Research for Boot Related Temperature Changes
Date: Wed Dec 9 10:42:57 2009

Who did you just cc?

**Visit Clever Title at ntopping.blogspot.com. “We won’t disappoint you too much” **

------------------------------------------------------------------------

We here at Clever Title would like to disassociate ourselves with Nat Topping. We take our social contract with the public seriously. Unfortunately he’s the only one who ever posts here, so we can’t really do that. And while we would like to say this kind of shenanigan will never happen again, let’s be honest, it probably will. Just know that we’re sorry.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This Weather Is All My Fault

Yesterday morning when I left for work I discovered a thin layer of snow on the ground. This was to be expected, as it is December in Chicago after all and December tends to be when this whole winter thing gets going around these parts. Unfortunately, I neglected to wear my boots – a somewhat ragged but nonetheless trusty pair of boots – and so I was stuck with my tennis shoes for the day. Which was inconvenient.

This morning when I left for work I discovered that there was no snow on the ground, that it had in fact melted and that the only form of precipitation was a slightly irritating light sleet. The weather pattern had clearly been altered as this morning is now obviously warmer than yesterday morning. I wore the exact same coat, hat and scarf. The only difference? I was wearing my ragged yet trusty pair of boots instead of the tennis shoes I wore yesterday.

Since the weather was so drastically warmer this morning as compared to yesterday morning, I am left to conclude that the reason for this warming is the fact that I am wearing my snow boots.

How is this possible? I would assume this phenomenon operates under the same principles as the fact that it is less likely to rain if I’m carrying my umbrella or that it is more likely to rain if I’ve had my car washed recently.

I am therefore convinced that these boots – the ones I am currently wearing – can only be dangerous for the likelihood of a nice snowy winter and that for the sake of everyone I must explore alternate methods of covering my feet for the next couple of months. For anyone interested in having a quintessentially picturesque winter replete with snowy evenings gathered around the hearth sipping hot chocolate, I would be happy to take suggestions / donations.

Please leave your information in the comment section and I will contact you.

Together, we can save winter.


####Editor’s Note 1:30 PM *: Since the original writing of the above piece, it has since come to this publication’s attention that the aforementioned ‘light sleet’ has since turned to legitimate snow. The author of the above has since released a follow up statement, which has been published below.####

Reader:

I realize that this afternoon would appear to be closer to the weather one might typically expect for this time of year – namely, temperatures in the 20’s to 30’s and snow. I would like to assure you that we are still in danger of an ugly, slushy, imperfect winter due to my defectively ragged and evidently unlucky boots. If anything, the fact that it is now snowing in Chicago illustrates the kind of imbalanced weather normally associated with the drastic changes caused by my boots. Rest assured that the trend established by my findings over the past two days will resume soon if someone doesn’t buy me a new pair of boots. Please leave your contact information in the comment section if you wish to save winter.

Sincerely,

-Nat Topping, Expert

* Yes, Clever Title now has a made up Editor.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Would Cry Too, Little Girl

Ah Christmas! This time of year is full of time honored traditions - holiday staples like figgy pudding and mistletoe and drinking too much at your family get together and then telling your family members what you really think of them and then apologizing profusely to them until New Years rolls around and you vow never to let those demons back out, only to repeat it all again next year.

That's what Christmas is all about: forgiveness! Or is that Easter? I get that confused.

One of the great time honored traditions is the Mall Santa. These soldiers of holiday spirit brave long lines, grumpy parents, hopped-up children and poor working conditions to provide the youth of our fair culture with the most traditional of Christmas delusions - the belief that by being good we will be rewarded with material goods.

As a result of this scherade - either caused by the job conditions or because the job conditions appeal only to those who can't find something better to do - Mall Santas often end up, well, like this:

It's the angriest Santa you'll ever see! Maybe it's the constant screaming, the flashing bulbs of the cameras, or the fact that he's now a swine flue ridden flea bag. I don't know. All I know is he looks like he's this close to snapping.

For those of you interested in creepy pictures of children crying on the laps of very sketchy looking Santas, there's a site for you! It's called Sketchy Santas.

Ho ho ho, kiddies.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sketch Comedy Post Over at Robo-Blog

Long, long post about The Kids in the Hall and the general health of sketch comedy can be found here. Too lazy to repost. Damn you, Mondays!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday: Copenwhore... I mean, Whorepenhagen. Wait, Don't Help Me, I Can Get This

There's nothing quite so enjoyable as the day after a company holiday party. People scrape themselves off their living room floor, splash water on their faces and then show up a few hours late to the office, their vacant bloodshot eyes held open by the grace of caffeine, just looking for a way to get through the work day as quickly as possible.

It's a welcome change from the last couple of days, which have quite frankly sucked donkey balls. Hence yesterday's post, and the lack of posting for most of the week.

Let's see, what have I missed this past week.

NEWS FLASH: Tiger Woods Gets In Car Crash and Now Has Sex With Many Women. Oh no! Will you ludicrously wealthy professional athletes ever learn? People with money are supposed to be better than us poor people.

Oh Tiger. If I actually cared about any of this, I would be so disappointed. But I don't. So I'm not.

NEWS FLASH: Sarah Palin, Maybe Not a Genius? Dude writes a book entitled Going Rogue. Considering that "rogue" is defined as "a dishonest or worthless person" or "an individual exhibiting a chance and usually inferior biological variation" by Merriam-Webster, might not be the best use of words. Or, might be perfectly apropos depending on your political leanings.

One thing is certain, though: I won't waste any of my time reading the book. My buddy Mike Bauman already did it for me and pulled any interesting quotes for the general public's perusal. Linky link here.

NEWS FLASH: COPIN' WITH THE GROPIN' IN COPEN...HAGEN... Man, writing headlines must be the most enjoyable job in the world. Consider, for instance, "Gropenhagen Conference."

Basically the Mayor of Copenhagen is sending out postcards asking people not to sleep with prostitutes while they are in town for the COP15 conference, which presumably will be about finding newer and more exciting ways to silence those lunatics who think maybe climate change might not be something that people can really actually control (but I digress).

So prostitutes are now offering a freebie to anyone with one of these postcards. From spokesprostitute Susanne Moller: “This is sheer discrimination. Ritt Bjerregaard is abusing her position as Lord Mayor in using her power to prevent us carrying out our perfectly legal job.”

And now, we will have a brief moment of silence to ruminate on the vast differences between our own little puritanical neck of the woods and the rest of the world.

...

...

...

Ahhhhh. Time to write some new tags.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

HAPPY DECEMBER!!!!

AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

ARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

My Theory for Otherwise Unexplainable Traffic Backups Caused During Holiday Traffic

Crossposted to the Robo-blog.

The highways are crowded with holiday traffic, meaning there is an above average amount of cars travelling in the same space.

In Car#1: Idiot Driver is attempting to text a friend for a football score. He stops texting for a moment so that, phone in hand, he can pick his nose. Instinctively his foot, realizing that this is not the safest maneuver in the world, steps lightly on the brakes. That way if Idiot Driver does anything idiotic to cause an accident it will be done at a lower speed, thereby increasing the idiots chances of survival.

In Car#2: Aggressive Driver is tailgating Idiot Driver because she is in a hurry to get off the road. Aggressive driver is forced to hit the brakes to avoid accidentally driving up Idiot Driver’s tailpipe.

In Car#3: Slightly Irritated Driver must apply the brake as well. This causes Slightly Irritated Driver to become slightly irritated.

In Car#4: Over Reactive Driver sees Car 4’s brake lights come on and instantly slams on the brakes, momentarily stopping the car. Over Reactive driver swears, and then apologizes to the passengers, including four young kids, for the foul language and hard stop.

In Car#5: Mildly Unfortunate Driver must swerve off onto the shoulder to avoid hitting Over Reactive Driver, who has overreacted to the situation.

In Car#6: Car 6 Driver brakes to a slow crawl due to the shenanigans that just occurred in front.

In Car#7: Car 7 Driver must brake to avoid hitting Car 6.

In Car#8: Car 8 Driver brakes.

In Car#9: Car 9 Driver brakes.

In Car#10: Car 10 Driver brakes.

In Car#11: Car 11 Driver brakes.

In Car#12: Irrationally Angry Driver screams about how traffic has slowed down for no apparent reason. This makes Irrationally Angry Driver unpleasant to be around until thirty minutes after the end of his drive.

Irrationally Angry Driver curses the existence of whoever caused this random traffic backup. Meanwhile, Idiot Driver continues to text and pick his nose, blithely oblivious to the eleven other cars behind him.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Tradition Post

I started a Clever Title tradition last year, and then promptly forgot about it for an entire year. Somehow I remembered and, luckily, it's still Thanksgiving so here you go:


THREE THINGS FOR WHICH I AM THANKFUL THIS YEAR

THING #1: I am thankful for having a wonderful family and a wonderful girlfriend to spend the next couple of days with. Oh sure, I could spend my four day weekend by myself, in my room, with a DVD player and a couple of frozen pizzas and be perfectly content. But this is much better.

THING #2: I am thankful that people actually came to see Mrs. Gruber's Ding Dong School, and that people seemed to enjoy it, and that we sold enough tickets that we didn't have to shell out any more money to produce the show. And I'm thankful that the show was so much damn fun and that the actors were so damned funny. Really, the whole Mrs. Gruber experience was great. Yes.

THING #3: Sausage. One of the best culinary creations ever. Doesn't seem like the most appealing idea in the world, but hey. I don't know who came up with that brilliance, but thank you.


And...


ONE THING FOR WHICH I AM NOT THANKFUL THIS YEAR

Chicago (and Northern Indiana) traffic. Between picking up Katie and driving to Michigan, I spent over eight hours in a car yesterday. That's a full work day, people. Chicago is a beautiful, cosmopolitan, well cultured, entirely livable city, but sitting on the Kennedy? Someone please stab me in the face.

And you? What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Ham-tacular!

Oh Paula Deen, don't you know that no good deed goes unpunished? Even you kindly southern cooking rockstars aren't immune.

You people have seen this, right?

Paula Deen, of Food Network fame, was smacked in the face with a frozen ham while trying to distribute free food to the needy. The video can be seen below, featuring some jackass' quasi-racist, entirely ridiculous dialogue.



Quick, someone get this douche a sitcom!

Seriously, though, there are lessons to be learned here. Chief among these is "DON'T PASS OUT FREE HAMS FOR THANKSGIVING." But, also of note: if you think throwing something at a famous person is going to be funny, you are right. But only in an "Oh my God, what did that idiot just do on the internet?" sort of way and not a "Throwing that ham in my face was a good idea, thank you sir you are hilarious" sort of way.

Programming Note:

I'll try and post later on in the week but, I mean, it's a holiday. I will probably be too busy eating. Check back anyway, though. Paula will be here waiting for you.

"DANG, Y'ALL ! FIRST THE HAM, AND NOW THIS BRUTHA GETTIN' HIS SQUEEZE ON?"


Priceless.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday: Attack of the MILF

Oh baby, it's a big weekend.

Why do you say that?

Because Mrs. Gruber's Ding Dong School closes this weekend. It's been like a half-year topic of obsession for me, so it'll be sad to see it go. How lucky, though, to spend half a year obsessing about a show that actually turned out great.

Tickets are still available at gorillatango.com. I'd suggest buying them in advance as we damn near sold out last weekend, we have more pre-sales this weekend than any others, and everyone seems to wait until the last minute.

Well, we got the requisite plug out of the way.

That we did.

Speaking of half-year obsessions coming to an end...

This happens this weekend. It will be ugly. It may be incredibly painful. I will watch it, though. I will be everything from ecstatic to miserable for most of the day for reasons completely and totally beyond my control. Any sports fan understands this masochistic phenomenon.

So between this and the Mrs. Gruber closing I may be an emotional train wreck. Please keep this in mind when I'm crying one minute and then screaming the next.

I like Ohio State by twenty.

You shut your goddamn mouth.

They'll be wearing new Nike uniforms too that are in tribute to one of their previous Rose Bowl teams, did you know that?

Seriously. Shut the hell up.

You want to throw up the link?

No.

...

...

Aren't you going to say anything else?

I don't feel like talking much right now.

Not even to post a nerdy history link?

Oh, Evil Me. You know Regular Me all too well. Here's a top five list (normally, "top # list" translates to "avoid this bullshit at all cost" but here it's interesting) of the worst invasion attempts in military history. I'm particularly partial to the Roman Empire vs. Scotland one because, when I was a kid, I had a slightly tipsy Scottish family friend explain the exact same event.

Och!

Yes, very good.

ATTACK OF THE MILF!

I would have told you about this last Friday, except last Friday kind of got away from me. Apparently, a formerly kidnapped Irish priest was released by his captors last week. Why do you care? Because of the involvement of a certain rebel group known by the acronym MILF.

FEAR THE MILF!!

This is not the first nefarious effort by MILF. In fact, I can think of a couple of moments from my own life where I came in contact with the terrorist shenanigans of MILF, including:
  1. The kidnapping of a friend carried out at a martini bar.
  2. Awkward, awkward Christmas parties
  3. Impure thoughts

Have you had enough childish fun?

Childish fun is what Friday's are for.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Letter to a Moron: Concerning Coffee

Moron,

Today I went to pour myself a cup of coffee from the office coffee machine to find that a beautiful dark brown liquid was, as if by some unnatural force, already pouring out of the spout.

I know, right? It doesn’t make any sense! How could a coffee pot, which is not people, be pouring coffee from itself without even tipping itself over? It flies in the face of everything you think you might have learned in science class, right?

Well, Moron, I’ll tell you how that happened. YOU decided to brew a pot of coffee into a coffee pot that ALREADY HAD COFFEE IN IT. And when there’s more coffee than there is room in the coffee pot, it starts to pour out of the pot and onto the kitchen counter and then the floor. This is not an unnatural force as it turns out – it’s basic common sense.

So that beautiful dark brown liquid you desperately wanted to make? It’s all over the freaking place.

Don’t worry, Moron. I cleaned it up for you. Again.

Can I make a suggestion though, Moron? Next time, before you start making a new pot and you think you’re doing everyone a favor because we can all enjoy a delicious cup of your coffee, CHECK TO MAKE SURE THE COFFEE POT IS EMPTY FIRST. That way, the rest of us aren’t cleaning up after your inability to perform basic functions like making coffee and thinking.

Nice job, asshole.

Sincerely,

Nat Topping

P.S. I hate it when people write things in caps. I felt like I had to, Moron, because you are a moron. So now I’m pissed off that you made me do something I hate doing.

P.P.S. Fuck you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Good to be Bad. Wait... or is it Bad to be... wait, hold on... I got this...

Here comes another 'commenting on an article from the Interwebs' blog post. This may be a developing theme for the week. For those of you expecting something personal and heartfelt, well.... Consider this fair warning.

Every once in a while (and by that I mean way too freaking often) the Interwebs will try to provide you with personal or career advice through poorly thought out, hastily written self-help style articles. MSN is uniquely guilty of this. I feel like I'm always seeing something written by Carreer Builder or whoever providing the masses cute little tips on how to be a better employee.
Today's lesson: "Being the Bad Guy at Work."

I admit it. I was intrigued. I had visions of a moustachio'd gent tying up an accountant and leaving her in the pathway of a rolling chair or something. So I clicked and lo was unsurprisingly disappointed.

Here's their idea of being a bad guy:

"Standing up for what you think is right..."
"Playing devil's advocate..."
"Standing up for yourself..."

How is this bad? The article asks you to be a bad guy by being a good guy. What?

Does this make sense to anyone?

I was expecting something like, "Throw coworkers under the bus," or "Lie to everyone," or, "Backstab people in a selfish power grab." Which I guess is just standard operating procedure or something?

Seriously, stand up for what you think it right?

I'm not sure what this is saying. Is the paradigm of business so twisted that doing noble and virtuous things is considered a bad thing? Or is the world trying to teach us that standing up for ourselves is bad and this article is trying to correct this? Is this just a poorly written article, or one that's titled in such a way to exploit my curiosity in an attempt to garner clicks?

Is the world collapsing in on itself? Where am I? What am I doing here and who am I? What do I stand for? Who are you? What? Can you hear me talking? Papa?

I don't know. But I think I'm just going to start wearing a cape to work from now on.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nudging

Sorry about the sporadic blogging as of late. It's been a little busy around here lately.

Today, in lieu of a lengthy post about something substantive, I'll use the interesting link back-up option. This is an interview between CNN and some British dude named Rory Sutherland, who's an advertising executive.

Advertising gets a bad rap from people who would prefer to blame some big abstract industry for our obsession with material possessions. As opposed to blaming yourself for buying shit you don't need. As the son of an Ad guy, though, it's kind of interesting to hear advertising explained as a way of taking business - something that tends to be more numbers and profit oriented - and trying to make it relate to people.

It's kind of an interesting take on advertising, problem solving, business and just general life and how we're rapidly losing the human side of our decision making capacity. The conversation starts off with kind of a weird "instead of solving problems with expensive technological gadgetry, why don't we just trick people into thinking there's not a problem?" It's a strange method bordering on propaganda, but I suppose if you're using it for good then maybe no? It's worth a read anyway.

Okay, back to busy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chuck Norris Thanks You

Given recent events and the fact that we've been in various wars for the better part of a decade now, it is appropriate today to express your thanks to our armed services. Today I will do this the only way I know how.


Thank you!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Detroit City Council: Now With More Guns!

Just because I live in Chicago now doesn't mean I completely ignore the old homeland. Here is your Tuesday afternoon Detroit multiple choice question:

Q: "The fact that nearly half of Detroit's City Council carry guns to and from sessions is __________"

(A) completely and totally unsurprising
(B) probably a great idea for those no-good sonsofbitches, who either have it coming already or probably will at some point over the next year
(C) a sad reflection on Detroit, government, society, security, the police, gun laws, childhood, the rapid decline of western civilization, etc. etc. etc.
(D) all of the above

If you answered this question by shaking your head in a strange and completely contradictory yet somehow all too real combination of disbelief and complete lack of shock, then you answered correctly.

A quote from newly elected council member Reverend Andre Spivey, who is a pastor:

"My members have been telling me for years to get one, before I even ran for
council," he said. "It's not an indictment upon the citizens of Detroit but just
for my own personal assurances. I was concerned that the city of Detroit not
turn into the wild, wild West, but I've talked with several incumbents, and the
office presents some challenges. I don't feel I have to use it, but I'll feel
more comfortable having it."


And this is a priest talking, ladies and gentlemen. Normally, you only arm priests when there are Vikings to ward off.

And by "challenges," of course, I assume the incumbents mean continuing to expand rampant corruption at the expense of pretty much everyone in the region.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Know Your Days of the Week: Moon’s Day

A lot of times, we take certain things for granted. Monday is Monday and we don’t really know what that means other than it is the first day of the work week. Mostly because nobody cares; it’s not important to know why Monday is called Monday; it has nothing to do with how we live our lives; why would you ever want to waste your time learning something so useless?

I’ll tell you why: because today is Monday and I’m lacking inspiration for proper blog postage so this is what you’re stuck with. So humor me. Or go find another blog.

Previous Days of the Week:


Monday: The Day of the Moon

After doing a couple of these ‘Know Your Days” posts, I have to say it’s kind of interesting that all these different languages tend to share the same meaning for the same day. Monday is an English language contraction of “Moon day” which in Latin based countries is “lunae dies.” French for Monday? Lundi. Spanish? Lunes. Italian? Lunedi. In Hindi it’s Som-vaar, which means “day of Soma.” What does Soma mean? Moon. Even in Japan, where absolutely nothing makes sense (have you seen this Domo thing at 7-Eleven?), even there getsuyobi means “day of the moon.”

Okay, okay. The first day of the work week is named after a gigantic rock hovering over head. So what?

I’ll tell you what: do you know where the word lunatic comes from? Why, Lunae of course which, as we already know, is Latin word for Moon. What causes Werewolves to go all crazy and start killing people? The moon. What causes the tides? The moon. And gigantic catastrophic tidal waves? Also the moon.

What is it called when you drop trow and display your back side to others as a sign of your displeasure? Mooning.

There’s a reason today is named after the gigantic barren gray rock visible to us in the middle of the night, reminding us of the cold, inhospitality of the universe that envelops our beautiful little blue planet like a big suffocating blanket of emptiness.

It’s because cultures around the world realize that Monday sucks. There is no getting around this indisputable truth.

Black Mondays:

Would you believe that, like Thursday and Tuesday, there’s also a Black Monday? Would you also believe that there have been many Black Mondays throughout history? A selection of Black Monday’s for your enjoyment courtesy of that font of knowledge Wikipedia:
Again, more proof of what we already know.

Tangential Excuse to Post a Cartoon Strip:

Garfield is a popular comic strip. Garfield hates Mondays. There’s a website called Garfield Minus Garfield that removes Garfield from Garfield comic strips as a means of revealing “The existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle.” The resulting angst is reminiscent of that which I feel on Mondays, which is the day that Garfield hates. Therefore, enjoy:

Sad and funny.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday: It's Fall

Oh yes, babies, it's Friday and the trend of sporadic posting has continued 'round these parts. Tell you what, though. Here are some links for your general consumption.

Are you going to behave today, bold font?

Yessir.

Okay, good. What do we have.

Space Tourism: It used to be that if you wanted to flaunt your insane wealth in the face of the poverty-stricken masses you had to hold gigantic orgies at your gigantic "hunting lodge" in the French countryside.

Thanks to technology, we now have even more ridiculous ways to display the disparity between wealthy and filthy. For example, why not take a 3-day vacation to FREAKING SPACE?

The cost of your stay? Why, a mere $4.4 million dollars. Chump change!

"It's Fall, Fuck-faces. You're either ready to reap this freaky-assed harvest or you're not."

Here is an excellent little piece of prose entitled "IT'S DECORATIVE GOURD SEASON, MOTHERFUCKERS" courtesy of McSweeney's. Hat tip to my coworker Casey for pointing it out. For you comedy nerds, it's an excellent and effective use of profanity by way of juxtaposition. Also, you get to read such gems as, "Grab a calendar and pull your fucking heads out of your asses; it's fall, fuckers."

Remember When Cookie-Monster Actually Ate Cookies? Of course, this is before the world went insane, arugula became a widely consumed vegetable and everyone decided that fun was bad for children.

You can now take a trip down memory lane with DVDs of the original shows from 1969.

The DVD comes with a warning, "These early 'Sesame Street' episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today's preschool child."

Apparently, children's television from 40 years ago is SO DANGEROUS that modern children should avoid it like the plague.

What does that say about you, grown up?

Hey, Speaking of Inappropriate Children's Television and, for that matter, effective uses of profanity, I know of a little comedy show this weekend that you might be interested.

THAT'S RIGHT, MOTHER PLUGGERS!!!

Come see Mrs. Gruber. She'll treat you right.

**ADDED BONUS**

Check out this insane video of sportsmanship gone horribly horribly wrong.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Oh Wow, Great, The Yankees

Oh wow, great, the Yankees.
Another World Series, eh?
That's great.
That's really great.
Good for them.
Gotta love them Yankees.

'Cause when was the last they won?
What? Like 2000?
That's, like, forever ago.
That's really great.
Good for them.
Good for you too, Yankee fan!

Yeah, that's great.

Yeah.

Gotta love them Yankees.

(Ugh.)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Warning: This Blog Kills Brains

Of course, if you've been here before you probably already know this to be true. But normally this blog kills brains with nonsense and pictures of medieval torture or muscular clowns. This post is more about general blogging.


To the point, here's an interesting article on CNN.com about the effect that digital diaries (like this blog) have on our capacity to reason and process information.


Of course, when I say "interesting article" what I mean to say is "interesting only to nerdy people who have a preoccupation with this subject because they have a blog," so, you know, take that with a grain of salt.


For you lazy people out there, here's a summary that way oversimplifies the article to the point of ridiculousness:


"Hey, do you remember what you ate on your first day of work? No? Well, now with Twitter machines and blogoverse and shit like that, you can write everything down so that one day you can read over it again and remember. Wait, though, is that going to DESTROY OUR MINDS? Some researchers say no. But, other researchers don't say no. Because if you're always worried about how things are going to look on Twitter, then you're not living in the here and now. And is that really living?"


Of course, the reader comments are all along the lines of "Kids these days can't do simple math! They don't even know how to use a regular phone! The end of the world is coming! Why is technology trying to kill the world?!"


I don't know, man. I think there will always be a part of us that distrusts technology. I'll admit to the occasional irrational fear that one day the entire interweb goes down and the entire Earth grinds to a halt and then the stars fall from the sky and monkeys become our superiors. I can't help it. I have an overactive imagination.


But at the same time, I think having access to information constantly will have the net benefit of making us more intelligent. The CNN article quotes a Douglas Hofstadter, who says that human intelligence is "...about finding the essence of things.... It's not about restoring everything. It's about reducing things in complexity until they're manageable and understandable." Here he is arguing that keeping track of every minute detail harms that ability to weave our experiences into a comprehensive narrative. Which, to stray from the point here, these interweb applications do clutter the world with a lot of useless information. I mean, do you really want to know what I ate last Thursday? You do? I went to Hot Doug's. Jealous?


But my beef is more the irritation that comes from being bombarded with nonsense, not with the fear that all of that nonsense will somehow turn our minds into a pile of gelatin. If anything, I think that having this level of detail and that amount of information heightens our ability to sift through nonsense and weave everything together into something comprehensible.


Granted, people need to be able to add and subtract and read and other basic functions. And they need to be taught how to reason. But I don't think you can blame the availability of vast stores of knowledge for "them kids these days" lacking in those capacities.


Nobody blames libraries for making kids dumber, do they? And they are essentially just a less efficient method of collecting information.


Nobody blames land line telephones for decreasing our ability to cope with life, do they? They are essentially a less efficient method of communicating.


Of course not. This would be the same thing as blaming hammers for making it easier for us to build homes. The shoddy workman blames the tools.


...


Wow, that was longer than I thought it would be. Let me make it up to you.


There we go. LOL Internet.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday: And I Just Woke Up and, Oh Yeah, It's Like 2:00 PM

Ah days off.

Well, we've been hit by a combination of laziness, business and lack of inspiration around these parts. Which would explain the lack of interesting posting materials around these parts.

What do we do when we're lazy, busy or uninspired?

WHY, PLUG A SHOW OF COURSE!!!

Mrs. Gruber's Ding Ding Dong School, my babies.

The perfect pre-Halloween activity. Come see the show, then go out and drink in costumes.

$15, Gorilla Tango, 8:00 PM. Details here.

YES!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Know Your Days of the Week: Tiw’s Day

A lot of times, we take certain things for granted. Monday is Monday and Tuesday is Tuesday, and we don’t really know what Tuesday means other than it is the second day of the work week. Mostly because nobody cares; it’s not important to know why Tuesday is called Tuesday; it has nothing to do with how we live our lives; why would you ever want to waste your time learning something so useless?

I’ll tell you why: because today is Tuesday and I’m lacking inspiration for proper blog postage so this is what you’re stuck with. So humor me. Or go find another blog.


Previous Days of the Week:
Woden’s Day
Thor’s Day


Tuesday: Tiw’s Day


Another name from our pasty white cultural ancestors, this day comes to us courtesy of the Old English “Tiwesdaeg.” That’s a lot of added letters but if you pronounce that drunk (which, if you are Old English, you most certainly did) it sounds just like our modern word. Tuesdays to this day are most tolerable when you have a couple of drinks in you. Not saying you should drink at work or anything.

Okay, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

Tiw was the ancient Norse / Germanic / Saxon / Old English god of ‘single combat, victory and heroic glory.’ Here’s a picture of him:

Handsome guy, right? Take a look again and see if you can tell what’s missing. That’s right, he’s missing a hand. The moral of this story? The reward for chasing victory and heroic glory is to lose a hand.The Norse had an extensive collection of runes, kind of like hieroglyphics, that are meant to symbolize various words, concepts and of course gods. Here’s the one for Tiw.

Yeah, it's an up arrow. Does it remind you perverts out there of anything else?

Modern man celebrates Tuesdays by generally getting dicked over, much as Tiw had his hands cut off for doing honorable deeds. While not as bad as Monday, Tuesdays still kind of suck. They are definitely no Saturday.

Well Known Tuesdays:

Shrove Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, is about the only good Tuesday you can look forward to during the year. The only other famous Tuesday I’m aware of is Black Tuesday (October 29,1929), the sequel to Black Thursday, which was when stock markets crashed, starting the Great Depression.

US elections are generally held on Tuesday as well. Our cultural tradition of being dicked over continues!

Tuesday – NOT Your Lucky Day:

The day that Constantinople was captured by the Turks was on a Tuesday, therefore the Greeks consider Tuesday to be somewhat unlucky day. The Turks, of course, probably see it differently.
In case you were unaware, Constantinople is now called Istanbul. So if you’ve got a date in Constantinople, she’ll be waiting in Istanbul.

NERD.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chicago - For Sale

Following the "successful" sale of the city's parking meters and the persistent rumors of possibly leasing out their water system, Mayor Daley admitted that Chicago is considering leasing out other important city services.

Items considered up for sale include the city's network of streets, the air, and the city government in general.

"With the economy the way it is, you know, you gotta do what you gotta do. And if that includes selling our air supply to a company in Bangladesh, well then there you go. Times are tough," claimed Daley at a recent press conference overlooking beautiful Millennium Park in downtown Chicago.

He continued, "Hey, what, you think these big fucking silver bean things pay for themselves?"

One of the proposed deals meant to balance the city budget would be leasing out the entire city government to a Swedish firm.

"You ever been to Ikea?" asked Daley. "That place runs like clockwork. And I'm not just saying this because they may or may not be buying the city government, but they have some sharp looking stuff there. Of course, I had a table from there once that snapped in half, but hey, nothing's perfect right? You want a quality table, buy a quality table. What are we talking about again?"

The public's response has been less than enthusiastic. Homeowner Eric Fowler could only shake his head.

"Jesus Christ," he said when asked for a response. "Jesus Christ."

"Hey, you know, that's the way the world works these days," replied Daley, when asked if selling off literally everything the city has to offer would negatively impact Chicago residents. "Don't blame me. Blame Rio, or those fucking jagoffs from Denmark."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday: Best Use of Your Time

BAD USE OF TIME:


Teaching Russian bears to ice skate in Kyrgyzstan.

What looks like an oncoming hug is actually the death grip of a pissed off and confused wild animal.

Instead...

GOOD USE OF TIME:


MRS. GRUBER'S DING DONG SCHOOL!!

(Holy Plug, Natman!)

(Did you just call me Natman?)

(You don't like it?)

(No.)

(Okay, well, I mean we don't have to...)

(Good)

Follow the link to more info on RvD's latest Sketch Comedy!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Poem On The Circumstances Surrounding Balloon Boy, Composed Nearly One Week After the Events Herein Described

Holy shit, there's a kid in that balloon! Holy shit!
Holy shit! I hope he's okay!

Do you think he's going to be okay?
I hope so; God his parents must be freaking out!
What are the chances: a kid stuck in a balloon like that?
Holy shit, I hope he's okay!

That kid must be shitting his kid pants right now
Flying through the air like that
I hope he doesn't crash
Holy shit, I hope he's okay!

Holy shit! There's nobody in that balloon! Holy shit!
Holy shit! I hope he didn't fall!

Flying around in the air like that?
I'd probably jump. Wouldn't you? End it all right there?
I hope he didn't get knocked off by the wind.
Holy shit, I hope he's okay!

Shit!

Wait, he was at home the whole time?
Wait, his parents are reality TV stars?
Wait, there's not enough gas in that balloon to carry a child that size?
Wait, his name's what? What kind of a stupid name is Falcon?
(Who names their kid 'Falcon?')
Wait, he said what on Larry King?

Motherfucker.

I hope those parents eat shit and die.
Holy shit. What a waste of time.

~fin~

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"I Hate My Job. Also, Vote For Me. Signed, Silvio Berlusconi"

Having made clear my intention to one day be President of this fine nation of ours (in 2040), I often spend hours of my day ruminating. I do this mostly to avoid certain immediate obligations - performing work duties, paying for my rent and utilities, apologizing to innocent bystanders for public 'wardrobe malfunctions' - and as a means of preparing myself for that moment when I take those most glorious reigns of power.

I often think, 'What type of ruler should I be? What famous ruler should I use as my model?'

Should it be Obama? Should it be George Washington, or Theodore Roosevelt?

Well, today I think I found the prototype for future ruler Nat: Silvio Berlusconi.

Who the hell is Silvio Berlusconi? I'm glad you asked.

Berlusconi, a former cruise ship singer turned media mogul, real estate and insurance tycoon and owner of the AC Milan 'football' team, is the current prime minister of Italy. He happens to be quite popular too, despite his scandal-wracked personal life and, of yeah, an OUTRIGHT DISDAIN for his job:

"Berlusconi says there's nothing simple about the prime minister's
job.

"He said: 'I'm doing what I do with a sense of sacrifice. I don't
really like it. Not at all.'

"He added: 'Very often there is a lot of dirty dealing, there is really
the gutter press, worse than that, the shameless and sickly. It's a difficult
life to be responsible for leading the government in a country like
Italy.'"

-From CNN.


This is the exact combination of shame, embarrassment and disdain I look forward to bringing you thirty years down the line.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Show Up And Running

After the theatre was empty and the props were all packed up and the desk moved back into the theatre's garage, I stepped outside into the fall evening awash with an overwhelming feeling of relief.

Not euphoria. Not shame or disappointment. Just a simple feeling of relief.

By that evening, I figure I had spent a solid two straight weeks doing something show related, whether it be rehearsing or production meetings or emailing reviewers or sitting at home in my underwear by myself, sewing things while watching Law and Order.

Not only that, I was convinced in the back of my mind that we were forgetting something somewhere along the process, and that this mysterious forgotten something was going to bring the show down. I'm sure the other RvD members felt the same. I know my codirector, Greg, shared that same forboding sensation. Even up until a few hours before the show, we were still emailing back and forth on things we may or may not have forgotten.

So, when it was all said and done on Friday night, I finally felt reassured that despite all of the moving parts everything had worked. And not only that but people laughed.

Sweet relief.

Saturday night, confident that the show worked, that duct tape would be unnecessary and that the show could now just happen on its own without any extraordinary force of will on our parts, I managed to actually really enjoy myself in the show. It's a blast to perform, and I really hope it's even a fraction as enjoyable to watch.

I'll probably put together a master post at the RvD blog soon, but for now here are a couple of show related links:

Production pictures can be found here on the Robo-blog.

We got a very kind review from Angry White Guy in Chicago, in which Don Hall says I have a "surprisingly sweet voice." Score.

We also got a somewhat kind review from Gapers Block, wherein the reviewer calls us the Canada Day of comedy. Although, she also calls us a "writer-centric improv ensemble," which is a bit of an oxymoron, so take that for what it's worth.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

ALL MY VICES - Starring a Bunch of Puppets

Where have I been all week? Well, insert obligatory apology about being busy due to the show, and then insert obligatory show plug (SHOW PLUG!!!) here.

Inspiration comes from the strangest places sometimes. One of the great things about doing sketch shows is that you end up spending time trolling the Internet for useful props, sound effects, set pieces, and puppets. I happened to stumble across this website that sells "Educational Sets" of puppets.

Basically, you buy the set, get a bunch of puppets and a CD of recorded puppet dialogue and music. Then, you set up shop at a local school or library or something and start preaching to kids about healthy eating or not talking to strangers.

I found this set that's about not smoking or drinking called 'Nicotine and Friends.' Here's a picture of the puppets in the set.

And I thought to myself, 'I could probably write a nice, educational puppet adventure for these cute little guys.' So I did. And I'd like to share the below, which is copyright Clever Title 2009 and is available for use at your local educational institution for a small free (please contact the owner of this blog for further details, puppets not included).

ALL MY VICES

An Educational Puppet Play,
by Nat Topping

Cast:
Timmy: The Boy Puppet
Jim: The Man Puppet
Edith: The Woman Puppet
Mr. Cigarette: The Cigarette Puppet
Mr Beer: The Beer Puppet
Weird Blue Green Monster: The Weird Blue Green Monster Puppet

Scene: Timmy's bedroom in his parent's house.

TIMMY: Well, Mr. Cigarette, here we go.

(TIMMY lights MR CIGARETTE, takes a few puffs)

TIMMY: Wow, this is disgusting. But I kind of like it.

MR CIGARETTE: Oh yeah, you're so cool, Timmy. You're really really cool now.

TIMMY: Thanks, Mr. Cigarette. I think you're pretty cool too.

(We hear a knock at the door.)

JIM: (From off stage) Timmy, what are you doing in there? I smell smoke.

TIMMY: Nothing, dad! (To MR. CIGARETTE) You better hide, Mr. Cigarette.

MR CIGARETTE: Coolio.

(MR CIGARETTE hides as JIM enters)

JIM: What in heck fire are you doing in here, son?

TIMMY: Nothing, dad. Just looking at dirty pictures of naked women on the computer.

JIM: Are you lying to me, Tim?

TIMMY: No.

JIM: Tim, I smell smoke.

TIMMY: Is the house on fire?

JIM: Tim...

TIMMY: Okay, Dad. I admit it. Come on out, Mr. Cigarette.

(Reenter MR. CIGARETTE)

MR CIGARETTE: Hey, daddy-o.

JIM: Oh Tim. I'm so disappointed. You've picked the wrong vice!

TIMMY: What do you mean?

JIM: Vices are the nasty things we do for pleasure. Everybody has them. It's important, though, when you pick your vice that you don't pick something destructive. Cigarettes, for instance, make other people hate you. Because you smell bad. And you're killing yourself.

TIMMY: Wait, dad: if everybody has a vice, does that mean you have a vice too?

JIM: Sure does. But I've picked something much more socially acceptable. Here, son. Let me introduce you to Mr. Beer.

(Enter MR BEER)

BEER: OH YEAH! PARTY PARTY PARTY!!

JIM: You see, booze is a good vice because it makes you more sociable in front of people you don't know. This allows everyone to have a good time together. Except your mom, who hates Mr. Beer because of three years ago at a Christmas party when I made a crack about the size of her ass.

BEER: YEAH! IT WAS AWESOME!

(Enter EDITH)

EDITH: Damn it, Jim, I overheard you talking about my ass. Have you been drinking again?

JIM: Since three this afternoon, honey. I'm just teaching our son a life lesson.

TIMMY: Yeah, mom! I'm learning about vices. Dad says everybody has vices.

EDITH: He would know.

TIMMY: Do you have a vice too?

EDITH: I sure do.

(Enter WEIRD BLUE GREEN MONSTER)

TIMMY: Wow, mom. What vice is that?

EDITH: Hell if I know what it is. All I know is we've had sex like three times today.

JIM: ZOUNDS!

The End.

COMING TO A LIBRARY NEAR YOU, BABY!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday: Where's My Nobel?

Ah Friday: you may be cold. You may be rainy. But you're still you, Friday, and for that... I don't hate you.

What do we want to talk about today?

Don't you have a show coming up?

Why yes! I do! Thank you for reminding me. And by reminding me, I mean mentioning the thing that has constantly been on my mind for about a week and a half.

BEHOLD, RAMPANT PLUGGERY!!

Opens one week from tonight. COME! COME IN DROVES!

Hey, enough already. You're boring the piss out of me.

There you go being crude again. Can't we please just be civilized? What else?

We could talk about what EVERYONE IN THE WORLD IS TALKING ABOUT RIGHT NOW.

You mean this?

Yeah.

Barack Obama: President, Incredibly Handsome Man, Basketball Player, and now... Nobel Peace Prize Winner. Which has prompted America to collectively cock their heads to the side and give the rest of the world a suspicious glance, as though to wonder in one voice, "What the hell is going on here?"

Don't get me wrong. I like the guy. I'm glad he got an award. But Peace Prizes shouldn't be flowing through the White House door until at LEAST, you know, the second year of the guys presidency.

I figure there are a couple of possibilities:


  1. This has been a really bad year for Peace.

  2. This is a consolation prize for not getting the Olympics - sorry, Obama, it's nothing against you. We just don't like Chicago.

  3. I don't know. I guess he's just that good of a speaker.

I got one. #4 - this is a sign of the Apocalypse, and Barack is the Anti...

WHOAH.

What?

That kind of crazy is not allowed on this blog.

Hey, I just call it like I see it.

Did you know "I just call it like I see it" is the number one phrase used to justify saying something awful? Following by, "I'm just being real."

They don't call me Bold Font for nothing.

Well, see your way out of here, Bold Font. We don't want your brand of asshole around these parts.

You'll come crawling back. They all do.

Two things to take out of this Nobel thing, as far as I'm concerned. First, what does it say about the state of the world when the Nobel Peace Prize goes to someone simply for offering hope? Second, it's strangely kind of comforting that even my most liberal of acquaintances are skeptical of giving the guy an award after less than a year on the job.

How am I going to make it clear that I'm moving to a new topic now that Bold text is gone?

Ooooooh. Hello Nat. Can I... assist you?

Oh. Hey. It's Italics. Uh... sure.

Let's take a little look at some deliciously racy pictures of cartoon vixen, shall weeeeeeee?

Yeah. I guess Playboy is putting Marge Simpson on their cover. Which is a little...

Ooooooh, you know I have a thing for llllladies with blue hair.

...

Oooooooh.

Okay, you know, this isn't working. I think I might want Bold back.

Fuck yeah you do. Oooooooooh.

Can I go home yet?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Places You Never Thought You Would Be

Last night, I walked in to Joann Fabrics for the third time in the last week. I got the wrong type of cotton fluff for the cloud costumes we're making so I needed new fluff. I also wanted to pick up some safety pins so that I could finish up the turban I had made for a gigantic Mickey puppet jimmy rigged from a carnival stuffed animal.

On my first of the three visits, I was a little put off from the strange looks I got from the people in the store. The kindly elderly woman at the cutting counter asked if I had just been in the store a few days ago. I guess I looked familiar. As a tall, bearded dude in a hoodie with a ratty Detroit cap on my head, I don't consider myself to be the crafty type of person they would normally see at Joann fabric.

I must be wrong. A week or so later, there I was again. Buying more crafty stuff for my craft projects. And this time, I knew I looked familiar because I was familiar.

********

You end up doing the strangest things. On Monday, on my way to a Robot vs Dinosaur prop meeting, I charged into a Chicago Costume store.

"Can I help you?" asked the lady - college aged, probably a student at DePaul across the street.

"Yes, I need a tutu." I'd been to two other places by now looking for a tutu.

"Kid sized or adult sized?"

"Adult." They're surprisingly hard to find.

"Right this way. Do you need any more help?"

"I need a sombrero."

"Right this way." Too big, these sombreros. I needed something a little smaller. Also, something cheaper; I was just going to rip the brim off the damned thing and then cover it in yellow felt. I saw some on my lunch break for $3.

"Let me know if you need anything else," she said, taking a few steps away before I stopped her.

"Wait. Do you have hair graying stuff? You know. That you brush into your hair."

She paused, I guess mulling over my shopping list, before asking "What kind of costume is this anyway?"

********

Last night, I spent a romantic evening at home with a butchered sombrero, some yellow felt and a Lou Malnati's pizza. Apparently the glue I was using does not like either yellow felt or sombrero, as it decided not to stick for me. I ended up stitching the felt onto the hat - I'm still working on it - as I ate pizza and watched network television. In the corner of my room sits Mickey Mouse who I have turned into a turban-bedecked puppet, a canvass bag full of props, a borrowed acoustic guitar, a ukulele I bought to play in the show, a pile of black felt and some left over white cloth.

And despite pricking my finger a hundred times, and despite spending the evening hunching over while sewing, and despite thinking and fretting about the endless little things that still need to be done before our show opens next Friday, I was enjoying myself.

********

October is an important month to me for two reasons. The first is that Halloween is Katie and my anniversary. The second is that in October of 2005 I moved to this city.

I came here with no apartment, no job lined up, and no idea really of what I was going to do here. I had a girlfriend living with her family in the suburbs, a friend with a couch in Bucktown, and what little I managed to save during my apprenticeship at the Purple Rose.

It was really kind of dumb, looking back on it. I spent October shuffling back and forth between sleeping on my friend's couch and imposing on the generosity of Katie and her parents, searching for somewhere to work and somewhere to sleep, and trying to enact an incredibly vague plan which, upon further review, was more an impulse than a plan.

But then, an interview here, a lease signing there, a couple of auditions, some on the job training in telecom and now here I am holed up in my studio surrounded by props and instruments and scripts and all sorts of other stuff. I guess that's how it works.

********

Still, it's funny to think that four years ago - which really feels more like forever ago - I had just finished my apprenticeship and was convinced of only one thing: that I wanted to get out of my home state and get by somewhere else. I wonder, if 2005 me knew where we would be in four years, if he would make the same decisions. I wonder if he'd take 2009 me as I am now, or leave it for something entirely different.

I'd like to think he'd end up still get a kick out of sticking out like a sore thumb among the usual Joann's crowd.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Note To Self RE: Sports Curse

The Curse is apparently not something that can be wielded for evil. Instead, the Sports Curse evidently exists to punish me.

Given my level of education and life experience, I believe this to be a perfectly logical conclusion.

Damn it.

Ah well, there are other sports out there. Right?

Ugh.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Some Quick Recommendations

I somehow managed to do some non show related things this weekend and, as such, I have a couple of recommendations for you:

SKETCH SHOW: I saw Creepy Hug's Dirt Nap at the Gorilla Tango. Yes, I know a couple of people in the show, and yes, I know one of the writers. So, I'm not exactly unbiased. That said, it was a really solid sketch show with some very solid performances (one Ryan McDermott comes to mind, who is an absolute master at food comedy. If you see the show, you will understand what that means).

This weekend is the last weekend, so if you have the chance I would highly recommend going. Go here for more information.

MOVIE: This Might Get Loud. Saw it at the little theatre in Piper's Alley. It's an hour and a half of listening to Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White talk about how awesome it is to be a guitar god. And you know what? It is awesome.

Here: trailer.

You don't have to be a guitar player to enjoy the movie. In fact, the three of them are so passionate about their music that I think it's inspirational for anyone with any creative bend to get your ass out and do something with yourself.

Also, there is a lot of rock music. I happen to like the rock music.

And finally...

FOOD STUFF: Instant Oatmeal. It's great.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Recommence Pluggery!


That's right, readers. Daddy has another show. And when Daddy has a show going on, you're going to see a whole lot of pluggin' goin' on.

The latest plug is for Mrs Gruber's Ding Dong School. I'm co directing it. I'm also in it. I wrote some music for it (one of the songs features the spoons).

Basically, I breathe, sleep, and eat this show. So, if nobody shows up to it, I'm going to be one disgruntled blogger. Which means angry posts from a strung out and ridiculous Nat Topping.

And nobody wants that.

Details for the show are on the sidebar, or on the RvD blog. It's a funny show. It's going to be different from any sketch show you've ever seen (I think). And it will be worth seeing. So come! Come in droves! Bring friends! Then, come back and bring more friends!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sports Curse - Desperation Time

God help me, I never meant for it to come to this...

HEY, HOW ABOUT THAT MINNESOTA TWINS BASEBALL TEAM?! I HOPE THEY GO ALL THE WAY! I LIKE THEM ALMOST AS MUCH AS I LIKE THE 2009 CHICAGO WHITE SOX TEAM!

GO TWINS GO!!

(sigh)

It had to be done.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday: NOlympics

Well, America: I think we've learned a valuable lesson today. When pitching to 80 year old European dudes, beautifully bronzed Brazilian floss-ass wins 98% of the time. Not even the power of Oprah can change this.

Think of it this way, though. 2012 is in London, England. And 2014 is going to be held in Russia.

Where in Russia?

Huh? Hold on, Bolded Lettering. Let me check.

Checking...

Checking...

Take your time.

Here we go: Sochi, Russia.

Wait, where the fuck is Sochi, Russia?!

Somewhere on the Black Sea, I guess. But after visiting England and then Sochi, Russia, I'm sure the Olympics could use some sun. And some legitimately attractive women.

As a result of the thinly veiled horniness of the Olympic committee, I propose we hold the NOlympics here in Chicago, coincidentally to be held over the summer of 2016. At the NOlympics, though, we mercilessly mock the Olympics. And then gold medals are handed out to the first person eliminated from each game.

That's not good sportsmanship. That's great sportsmanship.

Don't judge me.

You know what'll cheer you up, Topping? How about we get FUCKIN' PUMPED UP FOR SOME COLLEGE HOCKEY?!

Language, please.

Shut up and just fuckin' watch this:



Wow. Spacebear rides again. I have to admit it: I'm kind of pumped now.

Goddamn right. Hey, for these NOlympics, can one of the events be Rat Killing?

I suppose. Why?

Check this shit out: Oh Yeah.

Apparently, you are rewarded in Bangladesh for killing the most rats. The reward: one 14-inch color television. But the prize is really secondary. I love some of these quotes:

"This is an exciting moment. I will continue to kill them," he vowed.

"Please pray for me so that I can continue my mission, and teach and motivate others to join me," he told the audience....

Classic, right?

That is pretty awesome.

Anything else?

Oh! New Blog-friends!

The first one is a fellow Chicago writer, Alfonso Mangione, who I met through the power of the Facebook (I'm on Facebook. Come be my friend). He's an author, a blogger, and all around good guy.

And the other is a friend from college, Jill, who was like my honorary little sister. She lives in New York and has started a blog devoted to the (second) greatest city in America. She's a good writer. Check her out.

Okay, can we get the weekend started? I have a fuckin; fifth of Jack in the glove compartment if you're looking to get the party started.

Wow, you're kind of a bad person.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October!

Where are my etymology nerds? Anyone? No?

October comes from the Latin 'octo,' meaning 'eight.' What better name for the tenth month of the year, am I right?

To celebrate this absurdity, the weather tends to make a drastic and irrational jump from beautiful summer-like weather to a high of sixty with a high probability of cloud.

Which, actually, is fine by me. This is my favorite season. Break out your hoodies, people: welcome to the fall.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Roman Polanski – OUTRAGE!!!

Hollywood is freaking out, and they should be. That’s because famed Director (and admitted statutory rapist) Roman Polanski has been arrested for a crime (which he admitted to committing) back in 1977!

1977! That’s almost, like, thirty two years ago or something!

So of course, everyone in Hollywood is up in arms because this brilliant (admitted statutory rapist and druggist of thirteen year old girls) brilliant man (rapist) is being (lawfully) detained (in accordance with an international arrest warrant from which Polanski has been hiding for thirty two years) in Switzerland! The man just wanted to pick up his lifetime achievement award!

That would be a lifetime of achievement in film, mind you, and not statutory rape.

Of course Hollywood should have a right to be upset. People, I ask you: what is the point of being insanely wealthy and famous if you can’t get away with blatant criminal acts?

These people live their lives in the endless pursuit of fame, popularity, and money. This, as you can imagine, is exhausting, soul crushing work, and the put themselves through this why? For the sake of entertaining the public.

The least we can do for these selfless pitiable martyrs would be to let them hump, drug, kill, cheat and harass whomever they like whenever or wherever they choose.

Hollywood has a long history of getting away with shit, dating back to 1942 when Erol Flyn may or may not have slept with two under aged girls – TWO, Polanski, you’re slacking! And Flyn got off – er… was cleared of all charges. Matthew Broderick killed two Irish ladies while he and his BMW were vacationing in the wrong lane on the highway; he paid $175 for reckless driving! Nicolas Cage – I’m not aware of anything specific but I have a gut feeling he’s screwed at least ONE thing he shouldn’t have.

And the worse thing about it all is the crime happened like decades ago! Crime shouldn’t count after, like, ten years. Jesus, thirteen year old girl whose life was inexorably ruined at such a tender age, let it GO already!

Damn it, people from 1977 who are still pissed about this, how are these poor (insanely wealthy) people supposed to (decadently and hedonistically) live their lives with you constantly demanding justice?! Don’t you understand?! He made great movies!

LAY OFF, I SAY!! LET THE GENIUS (statutory rapist) BE!!