Burritos: A Vabulas Dinner Choice?

Beans, lettuce, cheese...and suspicion.

Do you smell that, folks?

The lingering aroma that’s dancing around the room tickling your olfactory organs isn’t dinner. You’re not getting a tempting sniff of something delicious. Mom isn’t about to serve you a high-piled plate of her home cookin’.

That smell, my friends, is the treacherous fragrance of pure deceit, and it’s emanating from the verbal kitchen of Mr. Brian Vabulas.


If you’ve ever shared more than a couple of cheap beers with Mr. Vabulas, as I have many a time, you’ve probably noticed that he invariably manhandles the evening toward a familiar conclusion: late-night burritos.

“But Skeptic,” I hear you asking me, “what’s wrong with a late night burrito?”

Nothing at all. I enjoy casual Mexican dining as much as the next hombre. But if you were to ask me what restaurant I’d like to go to for said burrito, I’d always give you the same answer: “Whatever’s closest.”

This is where Vabulas blurs (and potentially crosses) the line. With alarming regularity, he will toss out responses like:

“That’s in my top 15.”

“Oooh, Garcia’s is top 5.”

“Top top shmoppity top one billion”

SHOW ME THIS PURPORTED LIST, VABULAS! Has there been scientific research done to back up your claims? A double-blind study, perhaps? Or are you simply throwing around rankings more recklessly than David Letterman?

"You're in the Top 10 things that sicken me, Brian Vabulas."

You know what I think? I don’t think there ever was a list. I think El Vabuloso just likes the sound of his own voice.

Stay skeptical, my friends…

~The Skeptic

NASA: A Space Too Far

Space. Or is it?...

I want you to stop what you’re doing right now, run outside, and look up.

What do you see? Hmm?

Why, it’s the sky, of course! The night sky and all her pretty little stars. It’s all laid out there right above your head, plain and simple, just the same as it’s always been. Right?…


The night sky is and umbrella of deceit, and NASA is the chilly wet hand that grips it.

Last week, CNN followed the action surrounding the Space Shuttle Discovery, which has been flying missions into Earth’s orbit for nearly 30 years. The Shuttle is charging into the dark abyss one last time, to boldly go where no man 246 men have gone before. What will be its glorious sendoff, according to NASA?

To “deliver a storage module, a science rig and spare parts to the international space station.”

Now hold on just one damn minute. NASA, are you trying to tell me that you’re flying not one, not two, but six men into outer space just to deliver some nuts and bolts and a Rubbermaid storage bin to a bunch of Commies in jumpsuits? Surely, you don’t really expect me, The Skeptic, to believe this?!

Something smelled foul, and it certainly wasn’t the space ice cream. I sniffed around a little bit, and was beginning to form some pretty startling conclusions, when NASA abruptly unveiled its dirty little secret:

Holy f*&#ing hell.


Ladies and gentlemen, meet Robonaut 2: a “dexterous humanoid robot built and designed at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.” Robonaut 2 is accompanying the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery on its mission into orbit. Reading up on the technical specs of this machine gave me a case of the willies! I hurtled through a maze of emotions, partly because the technology is straight outta Asimov, and partly because of an overwhelming desire to mate with the beast. My initial apprehension was soon eased, however, and my piercing gaze quickly turned elsewhere.

But then I got to thinking… Might that be exactly what NASA wants?

Is Robonaut 2 really the big secret they were trying to hide from us with the “spare parts and storage delivery” claim? Or is this friendly-looking robot simply a red herring that NASA hopes will divert our truth-seeking eyes from something far more sinister they’re cooking up beneath the deserts of Nevada…

So say we all!


Stay skeptical, my friends…

~The Skeptic

Pointless Stories with Joe VB – #1

(“Pointless Stories with Joe VB” is a recurring feature on HugsAndPullups.com, and was inspired by the website 750Words.com)

“A Primetime Mainline”

by Joe Von Bokern

So there’s this guy, right? He can’t stop watching the television show “Intervention.” You could say he’s addicted to it. When he wakes up in the morning, he rolls over and snatches his laptop from his desk, pulls it into bed with him, and watches full episodes online for free. When he goes to work, he brings a hand-held television set with him into his cubicle and sneaks glimpses when nobody’s around. He will plug that same little television into his car radio on the ride home and listen to the show as though it were a book on tape. This man’s name is Randall.

Randall’s wife, Helen, used to be a very beautiful woman. When she and Randall first met at community college, their intense romance was the envy of all their friends. Over time, as Randall started watching more and more “Intervention,” her energy began to falter. She grew impatient with Randall’s inability to hold a conversation at social gatherings, and would often find him sneaking off to the bathroom at dinner to watch recaps from the previous week’s episode. It took a tremendous toll on their sex life as well. Randall’s body began to swell and grow fat from a lack of exercise. His heated passion for Helen had completely disappeared, and on the rare nights that they actually attempted to make love, Randall would often blurt out the names of some of “Intervention’s” most highly publicized cases.

“Oh Darlene!”

“Yes, Lourdes, yes!”

“My God, Kevin, you’re amazing!”

Now, after four years of marriage, every night finishes the same way. Randall ends up lying on his back with his head propped against the headboard, bathed in the pale glow of his laptop screen, while Helen silently weeps a few feet away, hopelessly curled into a fetal position and aging much more quickly than a woman of 29 should. After two or three episodes, Randall reaches over to the desk and lays his computer down for the night, leaving it up and running until the morning. Helen spends these few quiet hours dreaming about the life she was promised when she married Randall. Her subconscious delivers her into a warm, welcoming home where their three darling children can grow up. She smells the comforting aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg wafting from the kitchen. Through the window, she sees their dogs, Jasper and Pork-Pie, rolling in the freshly mowed grass. Everything is perfect, and there is no television.

Helen awakes from this recurring dream every morning to find her fat husband rolling over to bring his computer into bed to start the day. There are no children. No dogs. The cinnamon and nutmeg have vanished. There is barely any grass left in the yard, and it certainly hasn’t been mowed in months.

There is no Randall. There is only “Intervention.”

The ritual never changes. Day in and day out.

The worst part about an addiction is that the abuser’s mind has been so warped by his or her drug, that they will often fail to recognize the incredibly harmful damage that it has caused. Addicts will cut ties with their friends and family. They will choose their drug over their loved ones. The things that used to be of interest to them are suddenly no longer important. All that matters is where that next hit comes from. It’s true for heroin addicts. It’s true for alcoholics.

It’s true for Randall Ebersol of Schaumburg, Illinois.

Tonight, at the Schaumburg Community Center, in Room B, a small group of Randall’s friends, family, and co-workers will gather together in hopes of giving him the help he needs to overcome his crippling addiction. They’ll assure Randall that they still love him very much, and that they miss him. His mother will tell him stories from his childhood. His masculine father will cry for the first time in years. A representative from a rehabilitation center will be there to provide him with the resources he needs to get better. A professional camera crew will be present to document the evening, in hopes that sharing Randall’s story with the rest of the world will help others overcome their own vices. This powerful footage will be broadcast on cable television in high definition, and it will be included in the programming of most major On-Demand television providers. Men and women of all ages will be forever changed by watching these forty-three and a half grueling minutes of Randall Ebersol’s struggle.

It will make the world a better place.


Which of these men is improviser Jared Swiecicki and which is Horace Goodspeed of the Dharma Initiative? I couldn’t tell either.

Surf’s Up…?

I’m a proud alumnus of the University of Colorado, an historic institution of higher learning (see? I said “an historic” just so I could show off how smart I am. Weee!) nestled at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. CU students enjoy skiing, mountain climbing, and eating organic produce grown by local farmers. During the Summer, you can hear the faint sounds of young people playing their mandolins on the wind…

…So you can imagine my shock this morning when I turned on ESPN only to hear that CU, which has long-been a member of the Big-12 Conference, is considering a move to the …Pac-10 Conference!?! Whaaaa?

What does that mean, you ask? Let’s examine the basic facts:

The Big-12 consists of Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, and other large rectangular entities full of wide open spaces. The mascots include Buffaloes, Cowboys, and Cornhuskers, to name a few.

The Pac-10 (Short for Pacific-10) is California, USC, UCLA, and other schools near the Pacific Ocean. The conference is home to, among others, the Cougars, Bears, and Wildcats.

I cannot advise against this move enough! Not only is the state of Colorado the entirely wrong geometric shape, but it’s simply nowhere near the Pacific Ocean! That, and it sounds like there might be a ton of dangerous wild animals running around over there. So no thanks, California! No. Thanks.


Anton Chekhov Writes A Letter To Ken Griffey Jr.

YALTA, March 10, 2010.

No Spring has ever dragged on so long for me as this one, and time merely drags and does not move, and now I realize how stupid it was of me to take you for granted. I have lost touch with your incredibly smooth swing without getting into touch with the rest of the league, and one can think of nothing in my position but to go drown myself in ale. I fear Winter has begun here again in Yalta— rain, cold, a league without you—simply disgusting.

The Mariners will be in Yalta in June; they will bring their scenery and decorations. All the tickets for the four days advertised were sold in one day, although the prices have been considerably lowered since you retired. They will give among other things Griffey bobble-head dolls, a magnificent tribute in my opinion. I will enjoy mine with great pleasure, although I am not fond of dolls, but the food at the park they say is marvelous.

How many consumptives there are here since you retired! What poverty, and how worried one is with them! The hotels and lodging-houses here won’t take in those who are seriously ill. You can imagine the awful cases that may be seen here. People are dying from exhaustion, from their surroundings, from complete home run withdrawal, and this in blessed Taurida!

One loses all relish for the sun and the sea….but never the Kid.

-A.P. Chekhov

The Umpire Strikes Back

Jim Joyce, what were you thinking, brah?

Last night, veteran MLB umpire Jim Joyce blew the call on a routine ground ball out, declaring that the runner was safe at first base. The emphatic call, which came with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, cost pitcher Armando Galarraga a rare perfect game. In honor of Joyce’s boneheaded blunder, let’s look back at some of history’s most notorious blown calls.

  1. Bush vs. Gore, 2000 – Ah yes! Who could forget those few shining moments when we liberals experienced the joy of victory as voting closed on the 2000 Presidential election. But wait, what’s this? Florida’s calling it for Bush? Gore’s victory speech was a false alarm?? Oopsies! Alas, even several instant replays couldn’t save this blown call. But it’s okay, right? After all, under G.W. we experienced a flourishing economy, kept ourselves safe from terrorists, and had a leader of whom we could be proud. Oh, wait…
  2. War of the Worlds, 1938 – Where were you in October 1938? If you’re like me, you were huddled around the family radio in your evening slippers while the kids enjoyed the refreshingly smooth taste of unfiltered cigarettes. All was fine until the broadcaster announced that the FUCKING ALIENS WERE ATTACKING! HOLY CRAP!!! In a snap judgment, you gathered your kids, called your wife away from the stove, and took to the streets in fear! Too bad you weren’t paying close enough attention, and missed the part where it was explained that this was all just a radio play of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. Oopsies! Gather your dignity and head back inside, middle American families.
  3. Who Shot First?, 1977/1997 – Alright Star Wars fans, this one’s for you! In the original Star Wars: A New Hope, Han Solo and Greedo are sitting across from each other at a table in the Mos Eisley Cantina discussing a bounty that Jabba the Hut had placed on Han’s head. During the conversation, Han reaches under the table and fires a blaster shot at Greedo, killing him. Pretty clear, right? Apparently not clear enough for director George Lucas, who altered his own story twenty years later. In the 1997 re-release, Greedo fires an initial blaster shot that misses Han, making Han’s subsequent shot at Greedo appear to be an act of retaliation. Oopsies! This change ultimately compromises Han’s moral ambiguity at the beginning of the trilogy, thus weakening the potency of his transformation into a hero at the end of Return of the Jedi. Bad call, Lucas. Bad, bad, bad.
  4. Meg Kennedy’s Haircut, 2010 – The picture speaks for itself…

What are some of your most memorable missed calls?

Building The Site

Greetings, HnP fans! Your friendly neighborhood JoeVB is here to share some thoughts, so let’s jive!

Thought #1 – As you could probably guess, our website is a fun-tastic work in progress! Feel free to have a look around, and if you have any thoughts on improvements or new content possibilities, let us know! Improv is, after all, a group art form.

Thought #2 – This post is my way of getting familiar with out new online home, so I haven’t got any real exciting news to share. Except that I just ate a bowl of Ramen. Yes, I’m 24 and still eating my fair share of Ramen.

Thought #3 – I was watching Out Of Africa just now (don’t ask, I think my Netflix queue has a mind of its own), and I couldn’t help but notice that the movie Australia that came out a few years ago is…like…the exact same movie! Wtf? Sorry Nicole Kidman, you’re no Meryl Streep.