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?


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.


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.


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


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.




(Holy Plug, Natman!)

(Did you just call me Natman?)

(You don't like it?)


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


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!


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?


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


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

"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

-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).


An Educational Puppet Play,
by Nat Topping

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 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?


JIM: Tim, I smell smoke.

TIMMY: Is the house on fire?

JIM: Tim...

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


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.


(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.


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.


The End.


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.


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?


You mean this?


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...



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.



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?


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...




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.



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


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.