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.