Concept Humor

The Universe is a saucy little minx. The Universe knows how to mix it up, send a message, take names, make a list, and spike a drink.

The Universe has all the time it needs. The Universe doesn’t mind telling you what your problem is. The Universe doesn’t know why you’re always in such a goddamn hurry. 

The Universe has a substance abuse problem.

The Universe doen’t give a fuck.

But The Universe cares.

The Universe laughs at its own jokes. Every time!

The Universe looks at itself with your eyes, touches itself with your hands, smells its neighbor’s ass with your neighbor’s neighbor’s dog’s nose, tastes itself with an old man’s tongue, and listens to itself even with the ears of the deaf.

The Universe already knows when you’re going to die.

The Universe is going to win, it’s going to lose, and it’s going to be here after all your teams are finished playing all their games and all the people who remember those games have decomposing brains.

The Universe values that bag in the wastebasket beside you just as much as it values the emergence of multicellular lifeforms.

If the Universe continues into the future without you, does it still exist? Do you?

The Universe leased you a few cells, and you’re behind on your payments. The repo man is looking for you.

The Universe pays you a per diem from a wallet stuffed full of what happens next. Layoffs are coming soon.

This should come as no surprise to my Facebook friends, who’ve long known me for quality status updates and only the most salient and amusing links, but, to quell some of the recent controversy (based in large part on gross misunderstandings), I’ve decided to offer a modest explanation for my recent decision to move my profile page behind a paywall.

Put simply: Baby photos and family portraits do not come cheap. Photographers, editors, and fact-checkers all have to be paid for the work they do crafting my updates and photo albums. Even the interns I employ need to have a few free lunches thrown their way while they comb Gawker and Jezebel and The Onion and YouTube for links and videos.

Going behind a paywall will allow the staff here to continue delivering polished self-obsession, but it will also allow us to step up our game. For example, we hope to reopen our foreign offices and report to you the details of all my amazing vacations abroad. Without your support, I might not be able to take those vacations at all, and you would miss out on all my beach and snorkeling adventures. The documentary crews hired to cover my parasailing adventures and my horseback riding journey across Patagonia would have to be laid off, and my hot-air balloons would have to be sold. Indeed, it’s likely we would be forced to shutter all overseas bureaus and report solely on local updates happening around my one-bedroom apartment, which covers primarily what I had for dinner last night, what’s happening on television, and the latest faces my children have made.

Similarly, my Twitter and Tumblr accounts have become far too time-consuming to continue without a full-time staff and will likewise have to be subscription-only. All social networking requires a careful editorial eye to maintain a reasonable level of quality, and I care about maintaining the @burritofan34 brand.

We also have exciting new projects in the works for the coming months that you won’t want to miss out on. For example, we have set up a Kickstarter campaign for those interested in helping us produce an ebook version of my collected tweets, links, and updates. Buy it later or fund it now and receive framed, signed copies of my most retweeted bon mots.

This choice was not easy, but I hope it is clear that the aim is to deliver more rather than less. It takes a lot of work to bring you the highest quality me possible. We believe you will agree the investment will be worth it.

Dearest hand-wringers,

What’s the matter, somebody spook you? A filmmaker give you one too many jump scares? There, there.

It’s pretty unfair you have to watch movies you don’t like as part of your job. But go ahead and cry it out and write your pained columns. Everyone likes to complain about the parts of his or her job she or he hates the most. Of course, plumbers sometimes have to clean septic tanks, and you don’t see them crying to the heavens, wondering why the government has allowed septic tanks to be placed in backyards across the land, but let’s face it — they’re heroes. If I ever found myself trying to fix a septic tank, I would definitely cry, climb out of my beshitted situation, thwap my wet brown gloves to the ground, and tell whatever homeowners there were to just move to a city already and be a more eco-responsible (before writing to my representative to outlaw rural life entirely).

I’ve been reading a lot about why horror is a bad thing and about how Paranormal Activity 4 is terrible and awful and pointless.

I’m not a weatherman, but I’m pretty sure the general quality of Paranormal Activity 4 was forecast by its three predecessors, but I get your point. I see what you’re saying. How could you have known really? Also, average kitchen life should only be reported with such dry realism in French New Wave films. Nevermind that the rhythms of this particular franchise fly in the face of the frenetic splatter of the Saw franchise, as well as general assumptions about audience attention spans in general.

Kids, these days! They like … all sorts of stuff. So hard to pin them done so we can make a consistent criticism, so just … waaaaaaah.

But you didn’t want to go. I know. The voices at work made you do it–the voices of your bosses.

In other news, you wanna know what I did today? I don’t like spicy peppers–hate ’em, they give me all sorts of stomach trouble. But today I said heck with it, Subway’s offering jalapeños so I will have them load my sandwich with jalapeños. Man, did I not like it. So I yelled at the sandwich guy. I asked him, “Why do you have this shit here? This shit ruins sandwiches! What kind of crazy organization is this?!” And I threw the rest of that footlong right in his face. I don’t know what the world’s coming to, where people like to put shit in sandwiches that just makes them painful to eat. It’s abusive.

Then I went home and turned on Fox News. I don’t know why. It made me feel ill, watching that crap after all that spicy food, so I went out to Navy Pier and bought a ticket on the Wave Swing ride. My vomit went in all sorts of directions. Why do people let obviously ill people ride such things? I’ll never know. I made the guy I puked on give me a refund. What a jerk he was to let me on without a warning. I mean, he did warn me; he asked me if I was feeling well, but he shouldn’t have operated it to begin with, me being in the state I was in.

I had to chew a habañero just to get the taste of vomit out of my mouth. You realize how hot those things are?! Man! And they sell them in the supermarkets with NO WARNING!

I had a kid once, but I didn’t know really what it was going to be like, having it for a whole week, so I left it by the side of the road. I hope someone picked it up. Otherwise … man. Who knows what happened to it!

Wonder if it grew up to like spicy peppers. Or if it even grew up at all.

My point is, I’m grateful you’re looking out. It’s good of you to take the role of a human public service announcement, warning us of such dangerous genres in the broadest possible terms. It’s like I wish someone had warned me from embracing rap music, or free verse poetry–some things should just be nipped in the bud before we end up haplessly stumbling into them.

Someone’s gotta watch where I’m going.


DRINK! … every time someone mentions “the chopping block” or “going home tonight”

DRINK HARDER! … whenever someone says it would suck to go home at this point in the competition

DRINK AGAIN! … every time there’s a montage of faces while dramatic music plays and no words are spoken nor actions taken

CHUG-A-LUG! … for shameless product placement

SLURP IT! … whenever you ask a co-worker about recent developments on this week’s such-and-such

BURP IT UP AND SWALLOW IT BACK DOWN! … when you feel sad when such-and-such loses and/or wins an Emmy

GARGLE IT! … when a person on the show says “it is what it is” or “it’s a game” or “I came to play”

QUAFF THAT SHIT! … whenever God is thanked for anything related to the events transpiring on this week’s such-and-such

DUNK YOUR FACE IN IT AND BLOW BUBBLES! … for use of the word “blindside”

HAVE A GLASS OF WATER! … whenever an insight into modern-day race relations or gender politics is made, because … damn! no one saw that coming!

PUMP YOUR OWN STOMACH! … whenever someone states winning such-and-such has been his or her “dream” for his or her “whole life”

PUMP YOUR NEIGHBOR’S SEPTIC TANK! … whenever the person talking about his or her “dream” has yet to reach the legal voting age

GO BACK TO THE STORE! … whenever you make it all the way through your DVR backlog, but hurry — you don’t have time to waste!

I suppose you’re right. I mean, now that slavery’s been outlawed, people of all colors seeking domesticated dependents over which they can have total control must resort to something. Why not get a pet? Don’t I know that I’m missing out on a complete life? Don’t I know that not having a pet marks me as a cold-hearted, animal-hating Cruella?

Well, yes, I suppose you’ve pegged me. Why not, indeed, but for my hatred of innocence and all things cuddly and/or quadrupedal. But allow me, for a second, to explain my misgivings.

First off, while I could take the easy road and attack pet owners for being lonely people in desperate need of the unconditional love a pet can provide and which the pet owner cannot manage to elicit from the world at large, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with this phenomenon. If it really were about finding something to love that would love you back—well, so be it. But pet ownership isn’t about love; pet ownership is about power. (See: pet ownership)

Pets are quasi-human creatures valued for their ability to seem human while never developing beyond a kind of infant-like state out of which no revolution can ever be born. They are, in other words, sort of human but always less than human. An abused dog never has a chance of overthrowing its cruel master. It must suffer its abuse and at best take its frustrations out on things less likely to bite back: the mailman, passing children, and creatures generally smaller than itself.

The infant-like state of pets keeps their psychology simple, and allows every would-be master to feel superior to their trained beasts. As companions, pets are the equivalent of friends dumber than you; they will never challenge you and tell you that you are wrong, and you will always feel clever by comparison.

Further evidence of the power dynamics inherent in pet ownership is exposed through an examination of just how thoroughly being a “pet” requires the full subversion of the otherwise natural tendencies of the creature possessed. Dogs are collared, muzzled, and leashed; fish are sequestered in a small tank and made to stay relatively put; and birds? They get it worst of all. Caged and completely denied their most basic form of motion–only future veal could say it has it worse! Cats get off pretty easy, and cats may therefore be the one unmasterable pet—although their prissy arrogance has always created a certain amount of distrust between humans and felines. I have no doubt that if cats grew to the size of mountain lions, they would eat us all.

Moreover, pets are animals torn from a world in which they would be able to exist naturally and placed in a world in which they absolutely cannot function without the constant attention of a human master. This environment of enforced, isolated dependency is common in situations of domestic violence, indentured servitude, and prostitution, where people are forced through various means to do what they are told because they need something that they can now only get from the person telling them what to do. The only way a pet is ever getting out of this situation is to slip out into the street and get plastered by a bus, or start scrounging for scraps and rats with the diseased mutts in the alley.

A lot of effort goes into the maintenance of a pet, but what are the rewards? Well, you get something that is more or less happy to have you around, but eventually this gets kind of old. Face it: you will never want to play with your dog as much as your dog will want to play with you. And even if you don’t mind the inconvenience and believe that you are a very nice animal-slave-owner and that your little dumb furry slave loves you—even if all of that is true, there is still the fundamental truth that you will let your pet down. You will disappoint it, because a pet is a prisoner—your prisoner—but it has been made to love you, and love you it does. You are the most important thing in its world, but this feeling is something you will never be able to reciprocate simply because of the fact that for you, the pet is a peripheral entity—a side benefit that you enjoy visiting with now and then. Eventually, the pet’s continued entreaties for attention will grow annoying, because you’ve seen all the animal’s tricks before and you’re kind of bored. Or maybe you just have something else to do that’s more important than an unending game of Fetch the Nasty. In the end, there is hardly a better way to give yourself a guilty conscience than have some sorry animal neglected in your home that loves you more than you’ll ever love it.

Children are ultimately more satisfying, because eventually they grow out of diapers, start talking, and start changing into strange creatures you can no longer train to roll over and play dead. Pets don’t change; no pet will ever become smart enough to get a job and pay for its own Purina.

Owning pets is the privilege of the dominant race. Having subservient creatures in every household (no matter how small) is another way we show our hegemony to the rest of the natural world.

But you’re right. Sounds like I’m missing out.

We’ve all been there. You’ve just turned the last page on a 1,200-page novel you’ve spent an emotional eternity reading, and you feel both relieved and like you’ll never be able to read again. Whether you liked the book or not, it’s never easy moving on. You’ve come to count on this tome and these characters. Your neural pathways think in the syntax of the writer. When you think back on these days, all you’ll remember is that during your lunchbreak and on the subway in the morning and as you were falling asleep at night, you were reading that book. Idioms and phrases repeated throughout the novel seem like your whole life. If you asked someone what he was doing back in the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment or told your kid someday he’d sit the Iron Throne or asked a coworker, “Who is John Galt?”–all these questions and comments would be salient and apropos, because everyone in the world knows what a terrible surprise the scouring of the Shire is.

But no. Life goes on. Moby-Dick is not the only book about fish in the sea.

Remember that it’s okay to read different books. Perhaps the best thing to do is to have a quick fling with a short story or two, just to prove to yourself that there are other characters out there. Find a used copy of The Old Man in the Sea, rent a hotel room, and spend an hour reminding yourself what it was like to be an irresponsible teenager with a book report due in the morning.

Talk to others. Go to your book club meeting. The people there can help you learn from what you’ve read and understand how it all came about, pointing out the signs from the beginning of the book which foreshadowed events in the end. By analyzing the things you might have missed, you will become a better reader for that next novel.

Equally important, however: don’t obsess over it. Don’t go online and read every single post anyone’s ever made about the book. Don’t fight with people on the Internet who don’t “get” the book like you do. If you loved the book, you’ll hate to see it being torn apart by the likes of these idiots, and if you hated it you’ll hate to see it being praised when it’s a lowlife, bottom-feeding, piece of shit. But even so, you have to let it go. You have to move on.

Whether you go and mingle with new releases at a brick-and-mortar store or browse through descriptions on an online site, just get out there. Find something new to read. There are a lot of words out there. They’re waiting.

“The End” is not the end.

Q. “I’m getting some strange errors on the home page.”
A. “I only need to know one thing: where … they … are!” [makes shooting gesture]

Q. “Topher, you got a second? Got some stuff I need to talk to you about.”
A. “Is this gonna be a daily standup, sir, or another bug-hunt?”

Q. “Meredith from marketing has some ideas about the site.”
A. “Yeah? Why don’t you put her in charge?!”

Q. [approaching new computer] “Is this your new server? Niiiiice!”
A. “Get away from her, you bitch!”

Q. “Sooo, um … what do you think it would take to fix these problems?”
A. “I say we take off, nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”

The good news is the photo really does you justice. It accurately represents your default smile. Your other features are likewise not distorted. Kudos.

The bad news is we have taken a closer look at some of the specific claims you’ve made in this profile, and we feel it only fair to point out a few concerns w/r/t their validity.

The claims:

“I have a great sense of humor and love to laugh.”

If this statement is true, it is not borne out by your Netflix viewing history. Over the past 90 days, you have viewed only two comedies, both of which feature struggling cancer victims. While you might claim to find humor in the dramas you’ve watched, a hidden recording device we placed in the cactus beside your television has picked up nary a lone chuckle.

Likewise, a survey conducted at your workplace also found that you laugh at your coworkers’ jokes the least frequently of any of your coworkers, regardless of who is telling the joke. While you may love to laugh, it is clearly difficult for you, and you do not seem to seek it out, nor do you have a sense of humor describable as anything other than decidedly below average. The most common adjective used to describe you by your coworkers was “quiet.” Second-most common: “Nice.” No one ever mentioned your sense of humor. When asked about it, however, they would laugh.

“I enjoy long walks …”

We’ve averaged the length of the walks you take and found it to be 0.2 miles, or about two short city blocks. The longest walk you took over the past year was 1.2 miles, and you were reported to have complained about it. Your most common mode of transportation is a taxi, and when in groups, you always argue for taking some mode of transportation when walking is suggested. We suppose “enjoy” and “long” may have flexible meaning for you.

“… and spending time with my dog.”

Presuming you mean Charlie, your full-sized poodle, who you mostly ignore, this is unlikely. As far as time spent in your apartment goes, the bulk of your time is spent looking at your laptop screen (46%), followed by your television (31%) and food (16%). Your dog (0.7%) ranks below your bathroom shower curtain (3.3%) and toilet paper (1.4%). Most common command given to Charlie: “Charlie, lie down!”

“I wasn’t very popular in high school.”

We took a poll and conducted a thorough analysis of the yearbooks from your class. Out of the lists created by your former classmates, your name showed up the most among people remembered to be “popular.” Analysis of the yearbooks of you and all your classmates shows that you are in the 99th percentile when it comes to number of distinct signatures.

But that was overkill on our part, as you were also voted Prom Queen at your senior prom (could’ve been an ironic gesture, a la Stephen King’s Carrie, but probably was not, given the above evidence) and ‘Most Popular’ in your senior yearbook (ditto the last parenthetical).

“I love music.”

Number of times you have watched an entire musical performance without talking over at least 40% of it: 0.

Here is our suggestion for an edited, more accurate profile: “I have a below-average sense of humor and prefer to cry most nights. I don’t like walking, and most of the time my dog is an inconvenience to me. I like to browse the Web. Music is tolerable to me as long as I don’t have to pay too much attention to it. I was the most popular person in high school, and I am still very cute (see photo).”

You will not be alone for long.