Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Natmobile No More

This is a picture of my poor, poor car.

Ah!  Memories...

It didn’t start out as my car. It was originally my sisters, then became my parents, and then was given to me as a sort of graduation gift from college so that I could commute back and forth to the Purple Rose and, well, it has been with me ever since.

About a month and a half ago, it died by the side of the road on a freeway heading to Barrington. Luckily, a tow guy managed to be driving by at the time (I otherwise might still be sitting out there) who helped me take it to the nearest Ford dealer where it was promptly diagnosed with a completely destroyed transmission. The cost of replacing the transmission was more than the car is worth and so finally, after weeks of putting it off, I’ve cancelled my insurance and mailed off the title to a junk yard to take care of the poor thing.

It is an inglorious end for a car that has served me well, despite years of being dinged, scraped, whacked and generally abused in the various neighborhoods of Chicago. Let it be known that my Ford Escape carried me across country on countless trips between Chicago and Detroit, a trip or two to Wisconsin, two trips to Stratford, ON and innumerable commutes to and from work during the cold, snowy winters in the city.

I have no plans to replace it right now. I need time to mourn. The ‘Nat-Mobile’ as it was affectionately called (by me and nobody else) will always be remembered for its trustworthiness.

And I know that, when the time comes and I decide it’s time to move on, I need only become a star played at Ohio State University* and I’ll have all the cars I need.

*'The' has been intentionally left off because it's dumb.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sports Curse: Miami Heat

I've dreaded this moment.

For a long time, I've been trying to hold this back.  I try not to interfere in the matters of the world, and let nature take it's course.  However, the time has come to act.  For justice, peace, and the American way.

As some of you may know, the Miami Heat just beat the Chicago Bulls to make it to the World Series, or whatever it is they call it for Basketball.  I am no friend of the Chicago Bulls, through circumstances of birth and hometown allegiance.  However, the entire concept of the Heat (read: buying a bunch of superstars and assembling a Basketball Juggernaut that MUST NOT BE STOPPEED) is diametrically opposed to what I love about Basketball.  You know.

And so, I must now invoke the Dread Sports Curse!!

For those of the faint at heart, avert your eyes!

MIAMI!  A city so hot, they named their Basketball team 'The Heat!'  Other teams in the NBA have one superstar or *GASP* no superstars!!  In Miami, they have three!

Look how serious they look!  They look that way because they are being paid serious money!

Despite having several sports teams, Miami is best known for their fish heavy diets, for being the setting for 'The Bird Cage' starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, and for this:

"If you can't stand the Heat... [putting on sunglasses] get out of Miami."


So here's to you, Miami Heat!  The true paragon of NBA success!  May you have an enjoyable sweep through the Finals!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Grab Your Shotgun! It's Biking Season!

It’s late May in Chicago, which means that warm weather is ALMOST AROUND THE CORNER!!! Which in turn means that I’ve taken my bike out of the dank dungeon-like basement/laundry room of my slowly crumbling apartment building and have started schlepping my ass to work biker-style.

Biking has always been dangerous.  Even with the addition of sensible sized wheels, you're still likely to end up on your ass.
And let there be no confusion. By biker, I do not mean motorcycle, hog, crotch rocket or whatever else the kids are calling it these days. I’m talking about the rickety, rusty piece of metal that I chose to hop on and pedal around as though it were a legitimate means of transportation.

Hey, gas prices/lack of working car and all that. What else am I going to do? Take the CTA?!

I’ve always felt (since finally getting a bike about a year ago. N.B. “Always” = “One Year”) that bicycles are like the dolphins of the streets.  Hear me out. Larger than the tuna streaming through the crosswalks, but definitely smaller than the whales, who pose a constant and ever-present threat to the dolphins’ well being, bikers are also highly intelligent (read: hipsters) but highly fragile.

And, because of this constant and ever-present threat, I’ve developed my own bike related paranoias. Which I will now list for you. Because I like lists:

  1. If it’s a windy day, the wind is always blowing in my face. Doesn’t matter the time of year, type of weather, position of the stars in relation to the moon, anything. Always in my face. 
  2. If there’s a chance of rain and I decide to ride my bike, it will inevitably rain.
  3. If there’s a chance of rain and I decide to take the bus, it will inevitably be the nicest, most bike conducive weather imaginable.
  4. Bus drivers are always trying to side swipe me. I’m convinced of this.
  5. If I am passing a taxi that is stopped to let people out, I know that the passenger will try to hit me with the door. Or throw a bottle of coke at me. Or shout while I pass by. Or any other number of douchy things.
  6. It's almost always better to just blow through stop signs.  If you try stopping for cars, you will inevitably just sit there looking at each other, gesturing for the other to go.  This lasts as long as five minutes and always ends with you both going at the same time anyway.  Better to just get hit the first time around.
  7. Everyone is always looking at my ass.

Any other bikers out there? Care to share your paranoia? This blog is a blog of healing. For one post only.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Shark vs Surfer. Who Wins? Putin, That's Who.

With all this talk about the end of the world (or lack thereof) you would never even know there's an election coming up.

That's right, next year.  A Presidential election, where the forces of Good and Evil collide, Righteousness does battle with Corruption, and the Candidates match wits on a national stage inside of a Russian octagon of doom full of bears and weapons grade plutonium.

I'm talking, of course, about the Russian presidential election.

This upcoming year's election will likely pit former President and current Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, pictured here staring into your soul and seeing that thing you did on the playground when you were twelve that you've aways regretted...

Against Twitter enthusiast, noted technogeek and the current President, Dmitry Medvedev.  Pictured here:

The question is as old as time: old and authoritarian versus new and cuddly.  Kremlin versus Zeppelin.  Tiananmen versus Twitter.  KGB versus OMG.  I could go on if I knew more Russian/Authoritarian nouns.

Okay, one more: Pol Pot versus iPad.

Anyone, I never claimed to be much of a prognosticator (unlike SOME people) but this is how I imagine it will play out...

...where Medvedev is the surfer, and Putin is the gigantic insane looking shark.  You know Putin's not the surfer, because if he were that shark would already be dead.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: expect more nonsensical Putin posts in the near future.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Meditations on a World that Refuses to End

The end of the world is naught.
Turned out to just be a cameo by 'Thing' from the Addams Family.

Six in the afternoon came and went around the world on May 21st, and as near as anyone can tell nobody disappeared. There were no massive earthquakes. There were no piles of neatly folded clothing left outside the door of Harold Camping’s home in Alameda, California. No throngs of sinners desperately trying to survive an earthquake, or wondering where that nice gentleman from IT went. There were just people: some confused, some disappointed, some exultant in the downfall of Religion everywhere - as though this was ever anything more than a couple of people with a bizarre interpretation of a really old book, Internet access and a lot of money.

But most people were just mildly amused as they went about their lives on a beautiful day – in Chicago, it was a lovely but unfortunately “rare” May afternoon full of sunshine and warmth with a nice breeze. It was certainly not the type of day you would expect for the beginning of Armageddon.

So, here we all are still. Billions of people on a rock floating around a very large ball of fire.

Personally, I’m quite happy with the way things turned out – of last week’s list I was only able to hit ‘frosting sock’ and only the partial destruction of my enemies – but I have no interest in rubbing people’s noses in the fact that we’re all still here, stuck together. It’s times like this when the militant atheists come out of the woodwork and make videos about how great life would be if there were no religious people in the world.

No, I feel bad for people like Robert Fitzpatrick. Not only was he not raptured, but he was subjected to heckling by New Yorkers (a group known for the voraciousness of their mocking abilities), lost $140,000 of his life savings – note: he’s retired – and to top it off became the subject of a snide New York Post article directly mocking him. These are the times that try men’s souls.

How do you console someone excited about the prospect of the world ending? It’s a strange situation. I don’t know what to say, other than ‘Hey, at least you were prepared.’

In some metaphorical way*, the world ends every day. Tragedy strikes, people die, lives fall apart, people are fired, relationships crumble, things do not go according to plan. It’s just as important to meet those little endings with resolve, with faith that everything will work out, and with the grace to handle those situations as they come up. Whatever helps you cope – whether it be conviction that the world is literally about to end, or the comfort of organized religion or some personal philosophy, or just the lessons of having lived life – use it and make the best of what you have.

I guess it’s just a moody Monday around here. I did, after all, get rained on during the bike ride in this morning. Comedy to return later this week, or whenever the muse strikes.

*Danger: waxing philosophical.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

End of the World is Nigh! Where's My Double Down?!

Holy hell, the world is ending on Saturday!

Nothing says 'Family Radio' like Judgement Day!

Yeah, I know that people have been saying this literally for thousands and thousands of years now.  But this time, it’s for serious. In this instance, a guy on the Internet is using ‘rather sophisticated mathematical equations that are tied to one date… the date of the flood from Noah’s Ark.’

And we all know precisely what date that was. It’s such common knowledge that I don’t even feel the need to mention it to you right now.

Except, I was hoping that the world wouldn’t end at least until 2012 - the year mentioned by the Mayans, who inexplicably ran out of space to write more calendar entries on a finite piece of stone - so now I have a problem: I have so much stuff I wanted to do before the end of the world that I don’t know how I’m ever going to get it all done. Here’s a partial list:

Winning a Nobel Peace Prize
Overseeing the destruction of all my enemies
Performing my One Man Show entitled “Nat Topping: UnBearded”
Swimming in a pool filled with gold coins
Dressing as a pirate at Gasparilla 2012 (Y'arr)
Eating a KFC Double Down without vomiting literally everything I’ve ever ate in my entire life
Overseeing the destruction and humiliation of all my enemies
Visiting Denmark
Engaging in a ‘Mexican Halloween’
Climbing the mountain next to Mt Everest
Filling a sock full of frosting and then rubbing the sock all over my chest while running up and down Michigan Ave*
Living long enough to see the Robo-Cop Statue debut in Detroit
Overseeing the destruction and humiliation of all my enemies and their next of kin
Making a pineapple upside-down cake.

I have a day and a half. Possibly two, provided the world ends Saturday afternoon and not first thing Saturday morning. Who’s got some free time?!

*Hey, it’s my dream list.  Don't judge me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Monologue for Maureen: "Enchiladas"

I wrote this monologue at the RvD writer's meeting for an exercise and ended up really liking it.  I thought I'd share and see if any of you people who actually read this godforsaken blog have any feedback.

Maureen’s Monologue “Enchiladas”

By Nat Topping
First Draft – 05.16.2011

(MAUREEN is seated at a Mexican restaurant across from her sister.)


I don't know how you can sit there with that plate of enchiladas, Deb. I really don't. I mean, they look cold. Aren't they cold? They look rubbery, almost. Like play enchiladas. Like plastic play enchiladas for kids. Here, you want me to get the waitress? Because I'll get the waitress. I know you don't like making a fuss, but I will make that fuss for you. I will fuss it up right now.

(Beat) What do you mean, they're fine? Look at your face. You're clearly not happy; I'm not happy for you. Your enchiladas are making me unhappy. I'll tell you what: my chili relleno is excellent, but if my chili relleno was rubbery and cold and plastic looking, you can bet your ass that I'd have them take it back. I'd ask for a relleno so fresh they'd have to grow the pepper for me. Because I'm paying for it, and I deserve the best pepper I can get, and I guess what I'm saying, Deb, is that you deserve a better goddamn enchilada, and there is no excuse for you to sit there and settle for disgusting, rubber enchiladas. Not today.

Yes, I know I'm crying. I don't care. I just want what's best or you. You're my sister. I'm fussing now. You're embarrassed. I'll shut up.


Do you want another margarita? I'll get the waitress, we'll get you some new enchiladas and a couple of margaritas. Okay?

And end of monologue. 

Since this is the Internet, the above is copyright Nat Topping, 2011.  Naturally.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Doing Things

Hi everybody!

Yes, I know postage has been on the light side, and in those few moments where it's happened it's been bizarre dream journals.  I haven't forgotten about you.  I promise.

Lately, I've been struck by a desire to start actually doing things.  Not to say that I haven't been doing things; I have RvD; I have Crassus.  So maybe what I mean is 'a desire to do more things.'

Two things spurred this: (1) doing the Crassus show in Rockford back in February with Geoff, and (2) finishing my voice over demo.

Thing the First was just a lot of fun.  They treated us well out there, they paid us a nominal amount for our comedy, and it was just great getting on the stage and performing material that I love.  It really gave me the desire to travel (I mean, who knows) and to work more on these scenes and to keep performing them over and over instead of letting them slip away.

Thing the Second was a culmination of a little under a year's worth of classes and coaching sessions, wherein I found a method of applying my talents such that I could potentially make some sort of money at it.  No, it's not a company membership at Steppenwolf, or a role in a feature film.  But if it can actually help me focus on doing things that I like to do, instead of working a job I don't particularly like and then trying to fit my actual passion around it, then hell it's worth a shot.

Thing the Third might be the fact that my Television just died over the weekend.  I'm not willing to admit that yet, but general boredom in the apartment might be a factor....

So the following is stuff I'm working on:

(1) Getting a VO agent (preferably someone who also handles film/commercial stuff), so that I can start auditioning for spots.  I'll probably add a tab to this site for the demo and other info.
(2) Auditioning for more plays, because I like them and miss doing them.
(3) Developing more Crassus stuff.  Geoff's having a baby and is going on hiatus for a couple of months, but I work with his ass so we're going to keep writing and hopefull get back on stage in the fall.
(4) Developing some solo stuff - particularly some new Reality Fairy songs.  I'm actually doing SketchTest tomorrow night and next Tuesday, where I'll be doing some Reality Fairy stuff.
(5) Write more actual plays.  I've been quietly mulling over possibly going for an MFA in dramatic writing somewhere, so we'll see about that too.

And also to occasionally spit out a blog post's worth of drivel for general consumption.

I don't know, people.  My 29th is coming up in June.  If ever there was a time to get ass in gear, it's now.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dream Journal 05.10.2011

Here’s my dream last night:

I was trying to get to some sort of Robot vs Dinosaur function – I think it was a fundraiser dinner or something – but I was trapped on a conference call for work. So I sat and sat and sat until the function had started and I decided ‘I can’t miss this dinner, I have to go.’ I packed up a laptop and carried it to the dinner, where I took over a whole table and sat there, by myself, on my laptop and on my phone and worked.

People would come up to me wanting to talk, and I’d just smile and shrug my shoulders. What am I going to do? I’m working.

My girlfriend was trying to call me too. She was sitting at another table at the dinner. Couldn’t pick up.  Really, really wanted to. Sorry! I looked across the room to where she was and smiled and shrugged my shoulders.

So I went back to the call and the laptop with all of this fun going on around me. And then suddenly my manager from when I was first hired showed up.

He asked me how things were going, and I just started in on everything. Complaining, gnashing teeth, moaning, wailing, etc. And Ray (that was his name) just smiled and nodded and smiled and nodded. Yeah, that sounds about right.

And then he asked to take a look at my laptop at as he was looking over my work emails and laughing I woke up.

That’s the closest thing I’ve had to a nightmare in a long, long time.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bin Laden is Dead: Long Live Fake Reviews

I hope that you don't come here for the news, but just in case you haven't heard Osama Bin Laden is dead.  Here's a link to a real newspaper if you would like to read about it.

I could spend the next couple of paragraphs meditating on how important or unimportant this is to American life, culture and foreign policy.  I could also reflect on the changes, good and bad, that have taken hold of our lovely country over the past ten years.

Instead of that, I will simply share a link to the 150+ (at time of posting) Google User reviews of the Bin Laden compound.  Reviews range from the dryly funny to the racistly inappropriate to the scatological.

Por Ejemplo:

"Bob ‎ - May 2, 2011

Talk about a @#$% hole.. This place is "Abbottabad" as it gets! Waka Waka! "


It is a true testament to the undying sarcastic nature of the Internet, and it's perserverence over solemnity, gravitas and good taste.