Saturday, February 28, 2009

The RvD Stimulus

According to, the following projects were included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to assist, or "stimulate," RvD - Chicago:

  • $4.3 billion to study the numerous opportunities for turning "stimulus package" into a dick joke
  • $200,000 to teach Geoff Crump's dog to say, "I eat pussy."
  • $500,000 to teach Crump's dog to say, "By 'pussy,' I meant 'cat.' It was not intended to be filthy. I apologize if it was taken that way. May I make love to your leg?"
  • $16 million for the Zed Memorial Garden
  • $1 billion for "unspecified rashes"
  • $145 for a leather bowling ball bag in which the head of Matt Millen will be delivered to Nat Topping
  • $23 million for "writers' assistance," also referred to as "Canadian beer"
  • $180,000 to study Chris Othic's ability to masturbate in a Snuggie
  • $4 million to mount Greg Wendling's production of "Rogaine! A Musical Revue"
  • $632,000 for that thing Catherine Monahan does with two bell peppers and a library card
  • $3 billion to build a light rail line from Mike Bauman's place to The Bagel
  • $3 billion to build a light rail line from Mike Bauman's place to the Chicago Brahaus
  • $28 billion to build a light rail line from Mike Bauman's place to Legal Sea Foods
  • $20 billion to build a light rail line from Mike Bauman's place to Duff's
  • $15,000 for Mike Bauman's imminent coronary bypass
Don't blame me, I voted for Pat Paulson's corpse.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Lip! (sung to the tune of "Help" by The Beatles)

Lip! Down needle sparrow,
Lip! Pancake wheelbarrow,
Lip! Blue Charlie mink disease, Lip!

Eye Cairo pamper, little pamper babble squat,
Chin Philly dancer laughing lip parade meat pot,
Pear kudos pine chew kill burlap Emo buzzard pie,
Lukewarm grit together pit temp Euclid enter cry.

Lip chi column fruit or nano yawn,
Flaw toe parsley solemn imp Bermuda dawn,
Lip ant cuter tusk make ample lawn,
Centaur clay clay lip night.

Newt can trove necktie frog lock amperes travel dart,
Chicago dazzle landline rhinestone question fart,
Dime holder Zach inset bar bun ban equinox,
Hut mane per hut kiss quibble nut or window spangled lox.

Lip chi column fruit or nano yawn,
Flaw toe parsley solemn imp Bermuda dawn,
Lip ant cuter tusk make ample lawn,
Centaur clay clay lip night.

Eye Cairo pamper, little pamper babble squat,
Chin Philly dancer laughing lip parade meat pot,
Pear kudos pine chew kill burlap Emo buzzard pie,
Lukewarm grit together pit temp Euclid enter cry.

Lip chi column fruit or nano yawn,
Flaw toe eater solemn imp Bermuda dawn,
Lip ant cuter tusk make ample lawn,
Centaur clay clay lip night, lip night, lip night, ooh!

If you haven't seen this yet...

I was away from technology and work yesterday for pretty much all day so I couldn't do my normal Thursday post yesterday and I am desperately playing catch up today. So watch this. I think this helps explain just a little of what is generally wrong with the world these days.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sitting Your Ass Down and Writing & Relatives As Resource

As many of you know, I have undertaken the insane challenge of writing a comedy sketch a day for a year. Today is day 38! It's been fun, it's been nerve-wracking, it's been exciting, it's been disappointing, it's been insightful. The initial excitement and enthusiasm are waning and now the real work begins. Just like being in a relationship. Mostly, I've been happy with what I have posted. I haven't posted anything that I don't see potential in. Now, I'm too the point where I have forgotten some of the scenes I have written and am pleasantly surprised when I run across them. That's always a fun thing as a writer. What is this? Who wrote this? Oh, I did. Damn, I'm good.

The best part of the challenge is that I have written things that just never ever would have been written if I didn't paint myself in a corner to do it. Waiting for the right idea to come along is a waste of time. Might as well write while you wait.

It reminded me of an excerpt from an old Robowriters assignment when we were in the early, early stages of developing The Greatest Stories Never Told...TOLD! The scene referred to that Nat wrote was his insane Johnny Appleseed saga, which became one of the anchors of our show.

Last night's Robowriter's meeting was a lot of fun. The 8pm - 10pm group had the assignment to write a brand new ten page scene. Now, if you're primary experience is sketch writing, you're used to writing in 3-5 page increments. Trying to write a ten page scene can make your internal editor scream quite loudly and make your heart panic a little. Only three of the seven writers were able to accomplish this. Nat Topping wrote his in two hours the afternoon of the meeting! In the 6pm-8pm group, Scott Levy had similarly written a scene hours before the meeting based on one of the assignments from two weeks ago. It's the assignment I used last week to write my scene in forty-five minutes, also on the day of the meeting.
The interesting thing is, all three of those scenes were actually pretty good. All three need tweaking, but not a lot. There's a lot to be said for just sitting your ass down and writing. Especially under the pressure of a deadline. All three of us had the experience of not having much more than a sliver of an idea and all three of us were surprised by the results. I think it might come from trusting oneself. Or at least trusting that something good will come of it, even if it doesn't work on the whole.

ROBOWRITERS ASSIGNMENT: Develop a character based on a family member you may not know very well, living or dead - like an uncle or an aunt or a cousin. Write a scene where this character encounters something unusual.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Young Gordon Ramsay

I’m a bit of a fan of Hell’s Kitchen. While I will admit it is far and away one of the worst reality shows on television, watching Gordon Ramsay yell and scream at idiot cooks on this show is entertaining to me.

If you like the show, then you will love these short ads for

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Recap of the Oscars: You Wouldn't Take An Award From A Dead Guy, Would You?

Yesterday was Oscar Sunday! Hooray Oscar Sunday!

The best part about Oscar Sunday is that it gives me something to talk about today. This means I can just do the whole 'talk about things I saw' thing and not have to generate original thoughts of my own. You gotta love the movies, folks.

So, time to put on the fake Perez Hilton hat because Here Comes the Showbiz!!

Hey!! Hugh Jackman hosted the Oscars this year! He was pleasant and handsome for the ladies and not overtly bitter about not getting any sort of nod for Australia. I like Hugh Jackman, but I have to say for every song and dance routine that Hugh Jackman does I lose just a little bit of respect for Wolverine from the X-men movie franchise.

I found it funny that the opening number had to be stripped down due to the economy. This stripped down number took place beneath a gigantic and expensive Swarovski crystal curtain.

Ooh Irony!

Generally speaking, though, it was a good show. I appreciated the fact that they took the technical Oscars and subdivided them into logical groups like 'post production' and preproduction.' They went out of their way to make them understandable to the viewing audience. "Hey, this is part of the movie making process." It also made it a lot easier to go get a sandwich during the show and not worry about missing anything important.

Other changes to the Oscar format? Having five previous winners from each of the acting categories wax rhapsodic about how great all of the nominees were. Because being nominated isn't enough anymore you have to talk about how great people are at pretending to be someone else. It was still kind of cool to see the previous winners. The only exception? Tilda Swinton.


Speaking of acting awards, how much would it have sucked to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor this year? Yeah it's an honor to be nominated I'm sure, but there's no chance you're winning. Sorry Robert Downey Jr. Not this year. Maybe for Iron Man II.

Whose year was it? The girl from Titanic and Spicoli. Both Kate Winslet and Sean Penn have been nominated multiple times but never won. Now they can stop trying so hard with the risk taking and just make the silly action movies they've been longing to make.

And of course Slumdog Millionaire won best picture. It was well written and well produced and it wasn't four hours long. Didn't see the other movies and Frost/Nixon was good, but I am okay with this pick. The award did go a long way towards legitimizing the Indian cinema - provided that cinema is written, directed, and produced by pasty white guys with sketchy teeth.

I would like to thank the Academy for the fair warning: apparently the musical is back with a vengeance. They then followed up that announcement with a demonstration of the horrors waiting in the wings. I now know to keep my head down. It's going to be a long recession.

And finally, the Nat Topping Award for Best Acceptance Speech goes to whoever that Asian guy was who said "Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto." Well played, sir.

Well played.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Live blogging three minutes of the Oscars

I'm currently working halfheartedly and balancing a glass of Oscar-night champagne on my laptop.

Cuba Gooding Jr. is yelling at Robert Downey Jr. Christopher Walken has curly tendrils. Kevin Kline's soothing voice is lulling me into a trance.

Heath Ledger just won! This is doubly satisfying because a) the award is very much deserved, and b) The Dark Knight is the only movie I've seen this awards season that was nominated. I really have no other reason to keep watching -- for some reason I stopped being able to justify spending $10 to sit in a dark theatre when I can spend $0 to sit in my dark living room, eating my roommates' Pringles.

Now Bill Maher is talking. He's talking about the Maysles brothers in some Oscars-related context (if you're ever in the mood to watch something amazing and crazy, rent Grey Gardens).

Question of the Sunday:
If you ever won and Oscar, real or made of Deviled Ham, what would you say? Who would you thank?

Friday, February 20, 2009

"The Class" - a film review

The Oscars are this Sunday, and I still need to see Benjamin Button and The Reader to complete my usual routine of seeing at least all five Best Picture nominees. I suspect I'll get Benjamin Button under my belt on Saturday or Sunday, but I'm not going to go out of my way to see The Reader. Kate Winslet pretty much sums up her own reasons for doing the film in the following clip. The pertinent part is from 3:20 through 4:15.

I've seen a lot of the films this year. Most recently, on Thursday night, I saw "The Class" or "Entre les Murs", the French film in the Foreign Films category. Great film. Maybe the best one I've seen all year (though "Slumdog Millionaire" is way up there. Two completely different films. Hard to compare. Also, I saw "The Visitor" in 2007, so I don't count it for last year).

"The Class" is a single-camera, documentary-style film set in a semi-rough French high school (although for those who've seen The Wire, season 4, it's clearly not the worst place you could be). Our protagonist teaches French at the high school, which is fodder for amusing conversations about how "people don't really talk like that anymore" and when to use the imperfect imperative and so on. These little nuggets of exchanges are all microcosms of the films larger theme which is the difficulty of many adults in communicating with young people and vice versa.

While it's certainly true that the kids have the most to lose in their lives in general, most of them coming from very tenuous or questionable homes, in the classroom it's the adults who stand to lose. The kids know the limits of the disrespect they can get away with, and it's up to the adults to make the constant, in-the-moment decisions about what disrespect can be tolerated and what needs to be punished. Even with all the humor, lively exchanges in the classrooms, and the mutual respect that seemed to exist between Francois and his French students, I felt on-edge the entire film, because at any second it could all fall apart.

Based on the premise, it would be easy to lump this one in with all the other "Stand and Deliver", "Dangerous Minds", and on-and-on kind of films, but this one doesn't cram anything down your throat. It follows an entire school year, everything is shot on location at a school, we don't see the students home lives, nor the teachers'. (There are "retreat" scenes where the teachers meet in the breakroom to vent, strategize and bicker about their tactics for dealing with the kids.) There's no scene where the students stand on their desks and defend their teacher loudly. It all feels real and natural. Some kids excel, some fall behind. Some fates offer hope and others make you worry.

The performances are pretty amazing. It's hard to shoot a film in documentary, fly-on-the-wall style and make the performances seem real, but this movie pulls it off impeccably.

See it! It's still showing in Chicago at the Landmark Century.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Quick Thought

The day has started insane, and looks as if it will continue its insanity well into the evening. So for my regular Thursday entry I simply give you this:

There is a fine line between so much beauty...

and to much beauty...

and with just a bit more effort you can reach limitless beauty.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Writing Assignment - Write Where You Are


Go to a place in public, like a coffee shop or a park, where you can sit and free write (pen to paper without stopping) for at least ten minutes. Free write about the environment around you and the people around you. Ideally, do this three times over the next three days or over the course of a week. Notice who the regulars are, notice patterns of behavior, site-specific jargon, recurring situations. Who and what are you drawn to? Develop a scene based on your observations.

Now, you don't have to go to the same spot more than once if you don't have the time or inclination. You can sit and write and absorb the place and people around you like a sponge and discover your scene from there. Pick two people around you and throw them into a scene together - not literally, on paper or on your lap top - and start exploring how they might encounter one another. Find the people or things that most people aren't noticing - the quiet, but efficient busboy, the homeless guy sifting through trash outside, the spilt sugar on the condiment station, etc, and build your scene around that.

You can write about anything anywhere, but if you are writing about where you are at, it connects you to the space and instead of coming up with something to write, you're more like taking dictation from the universe.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Post President's Day Post... POST!

Sweet holy moses, three posts in one day! This must mean somebody or some people were sick/lazy.

My excuse for missing Monday? I was observing one of my favorite holidays: President's Day.

That's right, I'm one of the three people who celebrate President's Day.

President's Day got it's start as an observance of Washington's birthday. Once it became obvious that Washington wasn't going to declare himself dictator for life the holiday was extended to the rest of the Presidents. Because lord knows that power, priviledge and a lifetime's worth of lucrative speaking tours isn't enough the bastards need a holiday too.

I like to celebrate President's Day by spending hours reflecting on a different President each year. This year was one of my favorite Presidents: Martin Van Buren.

Now that is a handsome man.

Fun Facts about Martin Van Buren!

  • He was the first President that was born an American citizen (all the other Presidents had lived under British rule prior to the revolution) yet his first language was Dutch!

  • Van Buren rode into office on the coat tails of Andrew Jackson!

  • Van Buren was widely considered a shitty President (his nickname? Martin Van Ruin), was voted out after four years, and died of Pneumonia!

  • Wikipedia Trivia: "In an episode of The Monkees entitled "Dance, Monkee, Dance", Martin Van Buren is the answer to a trivia question entitling callers to a free dance lesson. Later in the episode, Van Buren himself shows up for the lesson."

Tune in next year, when I celebrate the exciting life and times of President Millard Fillmore!

The ethics of mixing your meats

Are you confused? Surprise! It's not Sunday! It's Tuesday. I'm home sick from work, so I figured this was the perfect time to catch up on the blogging I was supposed to do two days ago.

I spent the latter half of my Valentine's Day evening engaged in a bitter debate over the ethics of mixing meat on a sandwich (a battle brought on by this admittedly awesome website ). I, for one, am fundamentally opposed to combining meats. And I think the fact that I'm not a big meat eater is irrelevant. Why mess with nature more than you already have by creating a twisted intermingling of flavors, colors and consistencies? Ham is slimy. Turkey is rough. Chicken is bumpy. Everything else is sort of like Play-Doh. All of it together creates a mish-mash of insides... the entire animal kingdom flattened between two pieces of stone-ground wheat bread. I won't even venture to explain what flimsy arguments the opposing side used to buoy their views. It all came down to different ways of saying, "But it tastes good."

I doubt it. What you have created is a hand-held barnyard. And there is no way that tastes good.

The Greatest Title Ever . . . TITLED!

The choosing of a title for a show is tricky business. The way RvD usually does it is very scientific--via email. Once we have an idea for a theme, we more or less just start blurting out random titles via email lists that go back and forth between us, until we get a few that stick. At a certain point, someone (usually the director) narrows the list down and sends out the finalists and we vote, then we find out which title we chose, then we send some more insulting emails, then we all learn to love our new title.

Our first show, “The Greatest Stories Never Told . . . TOLD!” got it’s name two ways. One was the fact that we were doing a show about myths, legends, stories and such, hence the title “The Greatest Stories Never Told” which was also a play on the phrase a lot of people use when referring to the Bible. The “TOLD!” part was stolen from one of the sketches I wrote “The Most Glorious Battle Ever!” One of the running jokes in that sketch was a group of soldiers kept yelling back the last word of every sentence. All in all we thought the title captured the playfullness of the show, as well as the theme. And it never hurts to have an exclamation point in your title. That probably sold at least ten tickets on its own.

Anyway, for your reading pleasure, below is the list of random titles that got tossed around for “The Greatest Stories Never Told . . . TOLD!" Some of these are pretty funny and a few are inside jokes (I’m pretty sure we never considered naming the show “Nat Topping - World Fucker Extraordinaire”). I highlighted my favorites.

Robot vs. Dinosaur vs. History
Tales Tall and Wide
Yarns Yet Spun
Indiana Jones is a Pansy
I'd Like Too See You Do Better!
No Campfire Required
While You Were Learning Real History…
Rambling Rambles
Steven Spielberg's "Amazing Stories"
Like Basket Weaving, But With Stories
Weaving Stories
Two In The Pink, One In The History
Historical Shocker
Truth Be Told?
Nat Topping – World Fucker Extraordinaire
Your History Sucks
Adventures in History
Shit Biscuits and Butter Turds
Forgettable Moments in History
Enya Has a Harp-on
RvD's World-Wide Story Book
Chris Othic presents: "Chris Othic Sucks a Donkey Deuce" or A True Story
Robot Vs. Dinosaur Eats Your History Teacher
Robot Vs. Dinosaur Offends History
Journey to the Top of the World - The Greatest Title Ever
Nat Topping: "I'm Wasting Your Time"
Historic Lies
The Best We Have to Offer - A Tragedy
Inspirational Stories of Hope - or - Shut up and Quit Whining
History Retreats Itself
History Reheats Itself
The Penis Mightier
Myth and Friction
History Is Good, But Our Story Is Better
Tall Tales and Wide
Two Polar Bears Fucking
The Most Glorious Stories Ever Told . . . TOLD!
An Adventurer Walks Into A Bar . . .
History = Or Shity
Don’t Know Much About History
Remember This, Asshole?
That Didn’t Happen
Going to the Picaresque Show
The Last (and First) Picaresque Show
Old Male Tales
Great Balls of History
Historical Friction
Before There Were Electric Shavers
Bartles & James Present...More Yarns than a Cat Hole
Before the Trombone Rusted
A Corncob Pipe and a Butthole Nose
The Fake Adventures of White Men

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Our Valentine's Day Plans

Hey baby,

Let's get together tonight. Where are we going? Well, girl, I wanna take you to....

No? Ok, baby, I know what we can do. Do you wanna...?

Oh, you're hungry? Ok, baby. I know this great place with fantastic service....

Then we can go back to my place for a little....

And then a little....

What, baby? Robot vs. Dinosaur. The sketch group. No, we're not selling anything. Yes, we've met. Grant Park, November 4th, 2008. We totally connected. No? Then, do you have a sister? A brother? A pet? Hello? Hello? We're so lonely.

Friday, February 13, 2009

An Open Letter to My Hair

I am not the only balding/bald member of RvD, but I'm evidently one who's been thinking about it recently...


Dear Every Hair on My Head,

Sorry for making this a mass e-mail, but it would take me a really long time to get to each one of you, and I want to make sure you all hear this ASAP.

It's been awhile since we've talked; in fact, I'm sorry to admit that communicating with you has never been a priority of mine, and perhaps you resent me for it. This may explain why so many of your siblings and friends have already left the scalp. I've noticed for several years that your population has been thinning, but I never had the presence of mind to talk to you about it until now.

I want you to know that I'm not trying to change your mind. It must be hard to be a hair, and I can't say I'd blame you if you decide to give up. I just didn't want to let another day pass without telling each and every one of you how thankful I am to you. I know you must have a hard time feeling special. How can you, an individual hair, actually make a difference to me, let alone the world at large.

Well, let me be clear: You can and you do make a difference. Each and every one of you.

Again, I'm not asking you to stay. If you need to leave, I understand. But I want you to know how proud I am of every single one of you for sticking around as long as you have. You still create a beautiful head of hair, and I am pleased with the way you all look in your current configuration. It looks like those of you at the forward part of the scalp are forming your own little island away from those at the back, and I don't have a problem with that as long as it's not as a result of any in-fighting.

I also notice that three or four of you are still hanging on in larger patches that everyone else has already abandoned, and I want you to know I'm happy you've stayed, but honestly if you have somewhere better to go, don't worry about it. In all likelihood, the others are not coming back.

Just remember the story of the one tiny drop of water who heard about a small village where there had been no rain for months, and the people there were facing starvation because the crops were all dying. He felt useless. "What difference can I make?", he asked the magic unicorn rainbow. "I am the tiniest drop of water," he added, finishing his thought to flesh out his vulnerable condition. A microscopic tear drop rolled down his cheek. The magic unicorn rainb-- oh, yadda yadda, you know where this is going. The story has a happy ending.

Marian Wright Edelson says,
"We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee."
It's a long sentence and you may have to read it two or three times to fully grasp it, but it'll blow your mind once you figure it out.

Therefore my brothers and sisters, stand firm! We have a bright future ahead of us. Your numbers may not be what they once were, but what you lack in quantity you make up for in quality. Those that remain are the strongest hairs I have ever known. I want to make you this oath: I will wear you with pride no matter how your population is dwindling. Although I am not always the most emotionally expressive host, I am not one who would shave all of you off for shame.

But mostly I want to communicate love. I regret never getting to say goodbye to those we've already lost, and I'm sorry that I can't spend some alone time with each of you. Oh the things you could teach me! And yet, time on earth simply does not allow for this to happen. So please know that even if I don't tell you every day, I love you very much.

Sincerely yours,

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I lied

Last week I said I would write about something this week that doesn't infuriate me. Sorry.

This year's Grammy for best rap song went to Lil Wayne for Lollipop. I would like to share the lyrics with you:

Lollipop by Lil Wayne
(Ow...Uh Huh...Young Mula Baby!)

[ She say he so sweet make her wanna lick the rapper
So i letta lick the rapper ]

Shawty say i lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-look like a lollipop
She say i lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-look like a lollipop
lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-look like a lollipop
She say I ..... like a lollipop

Shawty wanna thug
bottles in the club
shawty wanna hump
and ooo i like to touch ya lovely lady lumps
( Repeat 2x )

[Verse 1:Lil Wayne]
Okay, lil mama had a swag like mine
even wear her hair down her back like mine
i make her feel right when its wrong like lyin
Man, she ain never had a love like mine
n' man i aint never seen a ass like hers
and that pussy in my mouth had me at a loss fo words
told her to back it up like erp erp
and make that ass jump like shczerp shczerp
and thats when she said i lo-lo-look like a lollipop
( oh yeah i like that )
she said i lo-lo-look like a lollipop
( oh yeah i like that )
she said i lo-lo-look like a lollipop
( oh yeah i like that )
shawty i lo-lo-lookin like a lollipop
( oh yeah i like that )

Shawty wanna thug( oh yeah i like that )
bottles in the club( oh yeah i like that )
shawty wanna hump( oh yeah i like that )
and ooo i like to touch ya lovely lady lumps
( Repeat 2x )

Verse 2:
Shawty said the nigga that she with aint shit
Shawty said the nigga that she with aint this
Shawty said the nigga that she with cant hit
And shawty ima hit it(hit it) like i cant miss
And i cant do this
and i dont do that
shawty needa a refund needa bring that nigga back
this trypa refund;i tell her bring that ass back
and she bring that ass back (she bring that ass back)

Shawty wanna thug( oh yeah i like that )
bottles in the club( oh yeah i like that )
Shawty say i lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-look like a lollipop
She say i lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-look like a lollipop
lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-look like a lollipop
Wanna lick the rapper
So i letta lick the rapper
Shawty wanna thug( oh yeah i like that )
bottles in the club( oh yeah i like that )
shawty wanna hump( oh yeah i like that )
and ooo i like to touch ya lovely lady lumps
( Repeat 2x )

Call me so i can make it juicy for ya
call me so i can do it juicy for ya
Call me so i can make it juicy for ya
call me so i can do it juicy for ya
Call me so i can make it juicy for ya
call me so i can do it juicy for ya
Call me so i can make it juicy for ya
call me so i can do it juicy for ya
Shawty wanna thug( oh yeah i like that )
bottles in the club( oh yeah i like that )

I get her on top she drop it like it hot
and when im on the bottom she hit the very bottom
then we in the bed givin gettin head ( givin gettin hed givin gettin head )
Call me so i can make it juicy for ya
call me so i can do it juicy for ya
Call me so i can make it juicy for ya
call me so i can do it juicy for ya
Call me so i can make it juicy for ya
call me so i can do it juicy for ya

Shawty say i lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-look like a lollipop
She say i lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-look like a lollipop
lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-look like a lollipop
Wanna lick the rapper
So i letta lick the rapper

The beat is also a played out, tired piece of junk. I can't even put all of my anger on the Grammy's either. Back in October BET awarded Lil Wayne with the Lyricist of the Year award. For more examples of stellar Lil Wayne lyrics, check out I recommend "A Milli" , "Alphabet Bitches", "Pussy Monster", "Pussy MVP", "Pop That Pussy", and "Pussy Money Weed" (which is actually kind of a love song).

At least Kate Perry didn't win a Grammy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bringing Elements Together

Sometimes when it comes to writing a scene, writers need a little push, or a spring board. Much like an improviser might need a suggestion, no matter how arbitrary it may seem, to just get the ball rolling.

This assignment gets balls rolling.

RoboWriter Assignment #10

Write a scene using the following elements….

An image…

A line of dialogue…

"Luckily there are no 4's in my Mom's number."

And a word or phrase…


You can take these words or images figuratively or literally. It’s up to you. They are all just a starting point.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chris Othic Admits to Using Performance Enhancing Drugs

Now that A-Rod has admitted he used steroids, I think it’s time I come clean regarding my own dark secret of the past few years. I have been taking performance enhancing drugs myself, to help with my comedy writing.

When I came out of the Second City Training Center in 2004, I had been involved in a great Writing Level 5 show, and there was a lot of pressure to perform. Let me be clear that when I wrote “James Bond From Milwaukee,” I was clean. I wrote all of those James Bond/Milwaukee clashes of context and even came up with a Usinger Sausage reference without the help of PED’s. Everyone involved with “Please Stop Making Your Dogs Wear Hats” was also clean, as far as I know, and I don’t want to tarnish their reputations.

No, it was when I made it to the big show with Teatro Bastardo that I started juicing for bigger laughs, but I felt like I had no choice. I thought my “The Adventures of Fetus Jones” sketch was ready for the big time, but my abortion jokes just weren’t as good as “Star Trek Wedding.” When the group cut my “Ghosts of George Bush’s Past” sketch at the last minute, I was devastated. I realized my jokes per page ratio was below the league average, and I knew I just didn’t have it in me to drop more than a handful of big penis references into any given show. I knew I needed an edge.

So I started using PED’s, and they worked. When my blackout about Prince Charming date raping a sleeping Cinderella opened the 2006 Sketchfest, it felt amazing. And then I followed that with the 2007 Skybox show where I wrote a killer series of short blackouts about me having sex with various pieces of fruit. I’m telling you, “Chris Othic’s Boner Follies” killed, and I never could have done it without those PED’s. And my pop culture references per show led the league that year.

Of course, people started to talk when I wrote “Tourette’s Christmas Carolers.” Not only did I find a way to make some jokes about inappropriate swearing, facial tics and Baby Jesus, I also had the wisdom to make those caroling kids British. Without PED’s I probably would have only taken that scene as far as some adults cussing on Arbor Day while doing karaoke. No, the enhancers were working and the laughs were bigger than ever.

When RvD formed, the pressure was even stronger to be extremely funny, but with the PED’s flowing through my veins, I could match everybody dick joke for vagina reference. I was on fire. I’m just sorry that “Fairy Tale 911 Center” will forever be tainted by my use of enhancers. And I would like to think I would have come up with the out for Greatest Battle, “Can we rape the elephants?” without help, but we will never know.

Anyway, I’m clean now, as most of you may have noticed. My satire and parody numbers have suffered, and the bathroom jokes are up, which is a sure sign of someone coming off of the comic enhancers. But I swear I will make it back to respectable numbers. I promise that you will only have to read so many “Satan’s Plumber” monologues before I find my old mojo. Believe it or not, I wrote “A Douchebag Commits All Seven Deadly Sins At A Party In Less Than Three Minutes” completely clean. Granted, I might have been able to make that into a musical number if I was still on the sauce, and the scene itself was pedestrian at best, but the title was promising. I’m sure if I just do things the honest way, with hard work and a lot of rewrites, I can even take a scene like “Robot versus Penis” and turn it into an All-Star sketch.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Vladimir Putin - Prime Minister and Dancing Queen?

On my regular blog Clever Title I have made known my fascination with Vladimir Putin, the steely eyed Russian who fights bears with the same ferocity as he strangles democracy.

For those of you who don't know, here's my favorite picture of him.

The man is ex-KGB, a judo master and once stabbed a saber tooth tiger with it's own teeth. But this is just his public persona. What do we know about the man behind that cold, cold, cold, ice cold mask? Does he love babies or does he eat them? Is his favorite meal Iron Ingots? What type of music does he like?

Well, it turns out we can answer at least one of those questions.

Apparently, Vladimir Putin love ABBA cover bands.

He... wait, what? Seriously? He... really?

But.... But....

This is all according to the ABBA tribute band Bjorn Again and, of course, Putin never admits to being a closet ABBA fan in the article. Probably to keep his persona intact. But who would make up a story like that? I mean, this band is staring death in the face here. Anyone remember Alexander Litvinenko? Of course you don't - the bastard's dead. Here's a picture after Putin was done with him:

So the question becomes, is Vladimir Putin actually a soft, cuddly teddy bear underneath that exterior, or is this like Curly's glove from Of Mice and Men?

I prefer to believe the later.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

He may not be into you, but he'll probably be into this:

I just got back from a rousing viewing of He's Just Not That Into You, and now my head is swimming with this strange mixture of masochistic guilt and twisted empowerment. But just to be clear, I WILL TEXT YOU AS MANY TIMES AS I DAMN WELL PLEASE.

Heed my advice and don't waste your time (although I doubt you even needed a warning). If your girlfriend wants to drag you to said movie, offer her a game of Connect Four or half of your sandwich instead. If your friends who are girls want to drag you, remind them that life is not a romantic comedy and then throw a Marian Keyes book at their respective necks. If they insist, make them buy you seven or eight drinks first.

Before I go back to feeling like a goon for paying $12 to see my gender repeatedly slammed against a brick wall for two hours and eleven minutes, I thought I'd take a break to make mention of the approach of my upcoming Writing 5 show. (I was told that we could use this blog for shameless self-promotion - I hope that was true.) Anyway, But These Are My Dress Clothes will run Fridays at 9:00 from March 13-April 10 in Donny's Skybox. It should be pretty funny, it will probably call you back, and if you date it for seven years, it will most likely give in and marry you.

Have you seen this? I'm not sure which is more impressive - the uncanny resemblance or the time it took to amass such an extensive photo collection.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

RvD-Chicago is Running!

In order to take on the role of White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel resigned his seat representing Illinois's fifth Congressional district. A special election to fill the office will be held on April 7, 2009. Today, Robot vs. Dinosaur - Chicago is proud to announce that we are running for Congress.

Many of you will ask, "What do you stand for?" I'll wait while you do.

Thank you for asking. Here is our issue summary:

Securing Our Borders
We know that making our Borders secure is a sure way to keep us all safe. We propose that a large dude with a unibrow and a weight problem stand outside our Borders and only allow those carrying a Borders Rewards Card to enter.

Reforming the Political Process
As citizens of Chicago, we were dismayed by the results of the last Aldermanic elections. Did you know that a candidate who was not related in any way to the previous Alderman was elected? That's outrageous! If elected, we will guarantee that all future Chicago Aldermen will be descendants of Nat Topping.

Protecting the Environment
We will recycle all of those Greenpeace assholes who ask us for money at the corner of Clark and Diversey. From now on, they will sell tickets to our the corner of Broadway and Diversey.

Stimulating the Economy
We will use our wangs. (Catherine will employ "the shocker.")

Foreign Policy
There are not enough Hungarians. We support forced breeding of the Hungarian people. Every Tuesday at 6pm in Visegrad. Get your programs! Can't tell the Hungarian copulators without a program!

Taking Care of Our Seniors
Chris Othic will take care of our seniors. Oh yeah.

The War on Lehrer
Have you seen The Newshour with Jim Lehrer on PBS? Completely unwatchable. We will send Jim Lehrer to Guantanamo and replace The Newshour with the Canadian version of Sesame Street. The blue jay that teaches you French is adorable.

Bailing Out the Banks
If Carlton gets pulled over while driving Will around in Uncle Phil's friend's car, we will bail him out.

Creating More Jobs

[insert fellatio joke here]

Embracing Diversity
[insert fellatio joke here]

Inserting Fellatio Jokes Here
[which is the funnier word: "fellatio" or "inserting?"]

Please vote for us on April 7. If you don't, our next show will be an hour of fuckboxes, magical cloud sing-a-longs, and 1950's television characters dealing with brain injuries.

Paid for by the Committee to Elect a Bunch of Untalented, Semi-Literate Comedians.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Call Me "Dumb Quote" One More Time and See What Happens, Bitch!

We here at Robot vs. Dinosaur talk a lot about writing. But very rarely do we get to hear from our "writing helpers," for lack of a better term--the letters, numbers, and other characters and symbols that make up our scripts and even these blog entries. With that in mind, I will pass the proverbial microphone over to Prime, who you may also know as a "Dumb Quote."


What did you just call me? "Dumb quote"?! Excuse me, but I have a name, and that name is Prime. You also have my permission to refer to me as the symbol for "foot" or "minute", as in, "The ' (minute) I hear someone call me a 'dumb quote' is a ' (prime) time to stick my ' (foot) up your * (asshole)!"

You call me a 'dumb quote', but it's the so-called "smart quotes" who have been sleeping on the job. In 1829, when William Austin Burt invented the typographer (the predecessor to the typewriter) he used me to fill in for both the quotation mark AND the apostrophe. Me! And don't get me wrong, I appreciated the work. Do you have any idea how rarely I'm used in my correct context vs. filling in for either the left or right "smart quote" deadbeats? "Smart quotes"?! They're "regular quotes" at best, and "apathetic quotes" at worst.

Next time you're tempted to call me a "dumb quote", think again. You should be calling me "Super Prime" or "Optimus Prime" or "Utilitarian Prime." Dumb?! Honestly.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Forcing Importance on the Grossly Unimportant

There have been two stories flying around recently that both have me really fighting the urge to just go running off to some secluded forest area of Montana, never to be heard from again. The first one is about the allegedly "fat" Jessica Simpson after she performed a concert looking like this:
Let me start off by saying that I never really found Jessica Simpson attractive, partly because of her music but mostly because of the way her mouth moves and slacks around when she talks. It's like her bottom jaw is desperately trying to detach itself from her head.

I haven't been able to watch tabloid news in years because it always makes me so angry that I literally start yelling at the TV. Normally when I see Entertainment Tonight or Inside Edition (or any show like it) about to come on there is a sudden, frantic rush to grab the remote control and change the channel as fast as possible.

I don't necessarily have a huge problem with gossip per se, or celebrity news in general. Entertainment comes on all levels, and I'm as interested in a story about Garry Marshall allegedly mushroom stamping Candice Bergman on the set of Murphy Brown as much as the next human (oh how I wish it were true). What really makes me scream is the importance that gets placed on stories like this.

So I'm in my chez lounge and I see on the TV that Entertainment Tonight is about to start. I go into super-human channel change mode, but before I can complete the channel change my wife says something like "Oh yeah. You have to see this. It's really important". Her sarcasm was so thick I had no choice but to watch. Mary Hart launches into the lead story - "What is wrong with Jessica Simpson? Is she in trouble? How is she coping with this weight gain? Her friends are so concerned. Blah blah blah blah blah blah fat. Let's see what these B and C list celebrities have to say about it". All the while there is dramatic music playing on the background as they flash various photos on the screen of Jessica Simpson. You would have thought the Pope shot the President. Luckily the vast majority of celebrities that were asked about it basically said "who cares". It makes me want to become a celebrity just so I can slap an interviewer if they ever asked me about something like that. The amount of emphasis and concern that was allotted to this story, not only by Entertainment Tonight, was very truly disgusting. For instance:

Nice job US Weekly. If you want to call Jessica Simpson fat, fine. If you want to mention that she is struggling with weight, whatever. But it is not and should not be front page headline news in any publication or on any television show - not even on tabloid news.

The second story is the buzz surrounding this:

Now this, I admit, is a bit more shocking then Jessica Simpson and her ass. He is a major athlete that represents the United States and can be considered a legitimate role model. But does it really have to come to this -

I don't understand why people are still so afraid of pot. And it's not like Michael Phelps smokes it all day, every day (it kind of harshes the lung capacity a swimmer needs). Nor is Michael Phelps a drug trafficker. He was at a party, took a hit, and had some fun. No big deal. The person I really can't stand in this scenario, even more then those who want to press charges against Michael Phelps, is the ass hat that took the photo and the douche chill person/people who distributed it in the first place. What was the point jerkwad? I doubt the photographer got any money for it; at least not enough for it to be worth damaging one of our greatest athlete's careers.

Frankly I think Phelps was way to eager to admit and apologize for the photo. First off - I don't think the picture looks very much like him. So he could have argued that it wasn't him. There is also the fact that you can smoke perfectly legal tobacco from a bong. Why does everyone just assume it's marijuana? And there is no smoke in the chamber is this picture, so was he really taking a hit?. He could have said he was just posing with it as a goof. And you can't see any key on the supposed bong either, so maybe it isn't a bong at all. Maybe it's a mini didgeridoo. Crisis averted.

And if it was really pot, should we really be that surprised?

I'll try to write about something that doesn't fill me with hate next week. I promise.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

You've Got A Cold

Today was the first morning I woke up feeling semi-human since Saturday. Last Thursday, I had a slight tickle in my throat, by late Friday afternoon, I had it. A bad ass cold. Possibly a little flu mixed in. Some sore throaty, chest coldy, head coldy, sneezy, coughy, achy bastard of a thing. And it was deceptive. Sometimes I'd feel okay for about two hours and then be hit by exhaustion.

It was a beauty, a bad ass, the mother of them all. Ain't no use in fighting it. All you can do is crawl in to bed and try to sweat it out.

Whenever I have one of these mini-plagues, I think of this song by 10cc.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Joe Linstroth's Big Bulgarian Adventure

Last year our writer in absentia, Mr. Joe Linstroth, informed us he would be gone for part of the summer as he was going to his house in Bulgaria. After a moment of shock at the fact that Joe not only owned a home but that it was in a foreign country, we peppered him with questions about the place. There were no answers as Joe had purchased the place with a buddy SIGHT UNSEEN. At this point, we knew we were dealing with a maniac.

When Joe eventually went to the house in Bulgaria, we didn’t really hear much from him until we got this random email. I thought it was not only one of the funniest emails I ever received, it was also poignant and beautifully written. The guy ought to be a travel writer. So far what you read below is the only info we have received about Joe’s trip, but one of these days I will buy him many beers and he can tell me more. Maybe he will feel compelled to share more about this life experience in a future blog posting.

So, without further ado, and as an introduction to Joe since he is away at grad school, I give you the story of the house in Bulgaria. Take it away, Joe Linstroth:

(Email written on July 5, 2008.)

Family, friends, fellow countrymen,

Greetings from Bulgaria. First off, I apologize for the mass email. My internet access is rather limited and I will try to tailor more personalized emails at a later date, but for the time being, I thought I’d send along a little update as well as more photos than you’re probably interested in seeing (most likely in multiple emails following this one). [Note--Joe still owes us the pictures.]

After four days in Istanbul (fabulous, but another email for another time), I arrived in Rousse, Bulgaria (for those who don’t know or remember, it’s the city where I taught English and came of age ten years ago) and then, finally, in Pisanets -- the Bulgarian village 20 km south of Rousse where my buddy and I cemented our insanity by purchasing a house last year. I can’t afford a proper bed, car or computer in the States, but somehow I thought it was a good idea to go in on half of a house, halfway across the world, that I had never seen before. To those I’ve told, thank you for waiting to laugh at me until after I left the room or hung up the phone. After a trying, arduous week of work, however, I sincerely believe it is I who will have the last laugh...

Upon entering our front gate (one of my favorite features of the house-see picture) for the first time, I was finally confronted with the reality of my decision. Until then, it was a romantic image in my head made real only by my monthly payments. Weeds, wild flowers and rye grass usurped the property. The walkway to the front door was hidden in brush. After forging a path through the thistles and insects, we entered our house. The downstairs -- where the shower, kitchen and two bedrooms are -- was frosted in mildew and there were more spiders and other unidentifiable insects than even Indiana Jones could handle. And I hate insects. Upstairs was the opposite (except for the spiders), arid and coated in dirt, and just to make sure we knew we were in Bulgaria, a small rodent chose the middle of our best bed as her final resting place –the juices seeped clear through the mattress. It had died so long ago that the crispy, buck-toothed thing didn’t even smell anymore. After a 16-hour train ride from Istanbul in a baking, iron commie donkey, I was exhausted and starving. I swiped the thick layer of dust off a chair, sat down and nearly cried. What the hell did I just do? All I wanted was air-conditioning, a clean bed and a steak. Within minutes, scoring the winning basket for the other team in fourth grade, choosing writing over med school, not caring about money, my career as a dining consultant -- they all seemed like fantastic and logical parts of my narrative compared to this white house with the terra cotta roof poking out of the godforsaken weeds in this godforsaken country. This house, in the middle of a Bulgarian village, where time stands still, was the biggest mistake of my life. But after three days of hacking, clipping, swatting, and scrubbing – during which my friend and I almost had it out in the grass on more than one occasion – the brilliance of my decision began to reveal itself.

On the fourth day, after scratching rashes and bites became second nature, I could finally see the beauty of our property: grape vines of an unknown varietal lined the walkway; two massive walnut trees provide the shade, along with four apple trees, two plum trees, two apricot trees, which are ready to pick, and one pear tree -- though no partridge, however a massive stork’s nest a few chimneys away can be seen from our deck. I took in the view of the valley below our village, where a river winds from the center of town into a massive national park filled with wild boar, wolves, hawks and more rare birds than anywhere in the Balkans (a 25 km hike with my brother and my English friend, Andy, who arrived when we did ten years ago and never left, is planned for next week).

Each morning I wake up (the first time, usually) to roosters and a flock of sheep bleating down our road (if you can call it that) followed by a shepherd, his bells softly jingling, staff in hand and his lunch in a sack over his shoulder. He leads them past the overgrown cemetery to the pastures above the village. At the first crack of light, the neighbor’s rooster starts his day, along with the many others in town. Until dusk, with only a break during the midday heat, their dueling machismo echoes through the valley. I alternate from finding it quaint and pleasant to wanting to swing the braying cock over my head by its neck.

The morning breeze smells of wheat (or of Wheat Chex, for this American city boy’s nose) from the farms miles away. Most of the farmland surrounding the village, however, is filled with sunflowers in full bloom, as their oil is a staple food in Bulgaria. Gold faces by the thousands follow the sun over the hills and into the horizon. I can’t help but hum the Sting song every time our bus drives past.

While Rousse has changed dramatically, the village life in Bulgaria has largely remained as it has been for the last forty or fifty years. It seems as if there are more goats and chickens than cars, and some villagers still use donkeys and small horses to haul buggies filled with hay through town. The people in the villages are remarkably self-sufficient, most living off no more than $150 a month. It is going to take some time to win many of them over. There is a Scottish couple who have been drinking themselves to death here for the last three years. They’re loud and obnoxious and I don’t think we’ll be hanging out with them often, lest the rest of the villagers think we’re just as bad. And one South African guy who, rumor has it (and rumors in the villages are their social lifeblood) is one arrogant, racist pig. We’re the only Americans with a house in all of northern Bulgaria, according to the property company. And that is just fine with me.

Our neighbors, Yordan and Stoyanka, are wonderful, however. In the village, it is customary to pass things over the stone fence to your neighbors -- a means of not only expressing friendship, but also of survival. Last night we plucked a bouquet of wild flowers for them and within an hour, we had fresh onions and cucumbers from their garden and boiled eggs straight from the hen and into the pot. I’ve never tasted eggs like that. They melted in my mouth. It’ll take a lot of smiling and “good day’s” to win the rest over, but at least our neighbors like us and will watch over our place while we’re gone.

One more point of interest and then I’ll let you has come to my attention that there’s a dossier with my name on it, with photographs, etc., at the police headquarters and most likely, with the Ministry of Interior. When I was here ten years ago, my buddy and I were some of the first Americans to ever live in Rousse. Our friend, Andy, had just arrived as the head of a UN project and our other English friend, Robert, was starting out as a professor at the local university. Months later, America started bombing Serbia and Kosovo. Andy told me last week that he only recently found out from his former Bulgarian assistant that the guy was meeting with the Interior Ministry and the police monthly to inform them of his every move. Andy’s phone was bugged, his garbage searched, and they wanted to know who he hung out with and where. What a laugh that must’ve been for them, trying to figure out our code words and phrases like “bloody hangover,” “no more pork meatballs” and “what the hell, another round.” To Balkan authorities trained during the Cold War, “UN envoy” and “English teacher” were covers for spies. So I have a dossier in a Balkan country. That’s pretty badass, if I do say so myself. I’m going to see about how I can request the documents, once they’re released to public.

What began as a romantic idea of an escape hatch and a writing hut turned into a living nightmare and then back again. I may still be crazy, but at least now I know I have an asylum.

Thanks for listening,


Buddy Holly

Today is the 50-year anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Richie Valens. Buddy Holly was the first guy I ever called "my favorite musician." And while that slot would later be occupied by other greats like Weird Al, Sandi Patti, and Neil Sedaka (I was a cool kid), my love for Buddy Holly's music raves on. Check out the clip below. The way he plays that guitar is still kind of amazing.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Freaking Out About Memes

Someone needs to put a stop to all of these meme things floating around out there.

I joined facebook a while back because I wanted a method to stalk former friends and acquaintances without having to reestablish meaningful contact with any of them. While I appreciate the availability of this information (pictures, notes, etc.), there are unfortunately many irritating aspects of facebook.

One of these is the meme.

What the hell is a meme? It's some sort of survey type thing that gets passed around from person to person across the interwebs. The idea is that once you're tagged you have to put down a bunch of personal information about yourself and then pass on or "tag" another person, who then repeats.

This happened to me once back in November via the blogosphere. I was tagged to share seven things about myself, which I then posted on my regular blog.

After much deliberation, I managed to squeeze out seven things about myself. I thought I was done. Then I got tagged this week - twice! - on facebook to share 25 random things about myself.

I don't like sharing random bits of information with people. I don't know why. I just don't. If something comes up in a conversation where a piece of information might pertain to the conversation then that's fine, but 25 things out of the blue? Not a fan. But the people who tagged me shared 25 things about them, so not only are other people able to do it with ease but they are also willing to share their personal information with me so what the hell is wrong with me now that I don't want to share, you know, what am I hiding?

So now, I'm freaking out because I don't know if I should repeat myself (in which case I still need to think of 18 more things) or do I need to write unique stuff for each one, which means I need to think of 57 interesting random bits about myself.

Don't get me wrong - I'm the most interesting person I know. But 57 interesting tidbits worth?!

I mean come on.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I'd write about the Super Bowl, but I don't understand sports.

A few years after I graduated from college, before moving to Chicago, I halfheartedly agreed to write with a group of Omahans who were attempting to form a sketch group... a well-intentioned effort to fill a blank space in the city's artistic/comedic landscape otherwise populated by birthday party clowns and strippers. Every Sunday afternoon, we would gather in the lower half of a suburban split-level. It was a new build flanked by a Wal-Mart and a wasteland of partially constructed neighborhoods. We'd sip beer from a dorm refrigerator and talk about failed attempts to find new recruits ("The guy who cuts my hair is funny, but his lazy eye is distracting and he plays softball on Sundays"). And then we'd read scripts cobbled together just hours before, often left incomplete thanks to a hangover or a toner shortage. Sometimes a few people would act them out. The last ten minutes were usually spent throwing around ideas for a show that would never actually materialize, at least not in my time there. But all of that being said, some really, really good ideas were brought to the table. And perhaps more importantly, we were doing something. We were giving up our Sunday afternoons to pool our creative energy and maybe come away with something big. Whether or not we were successful is subjective - our reach never went beyond that basement, but we were writing and meeting and trying. Point being, no matter where you are or who you have on hand, you can create something. All you need is a mini fridge full of Bud Light and the hope that a few Sunday afternoons could produce a few good sketches.