Tor.com has existed on the internet for 10 years. And when you work in an office and you also work on the internet, where one day gives you a week’s worth of events to react to, you develop a lot of shorthands and rituals to get through the day.
Some of these rituals are straightforward, like our Friday/Monday morning watercooler-style breakdowns about the latest blockbuster, with everyone hashing out what they liked and didn’t like. (Chris hated Infinity War, for example, sparking off a Tor.com Infinity War War.) Some of these rituals are specific to the people here, like the weird voices we use to irritate/amuse one another when we’re feeling low on energy. And then there are the internet-specific rituals: Videos and in-jokes and events we keep coming back to time and again because…well, we’ve never figured out the “because”.
Here are some of our stress-fed emergent office rituals. Brace yourself. There are a lot of unicorns.
1.) When We Need to Believe In Our Dreams Again: “Neon Pegasus” by Parry Gripp
Parry Gripp makes a lot of great cartoon music videos (we’re also partial to “Breakfast Burrito” and “Pancake Robot”), but “Neon Pegasus” is our greatest love. A clarion call to follow ones dreams, it never fails to brighten our days. Senior Staff Writer Emily Asher-Perrin is particularly partial to it as a birthday song (she’s allergic to wheat, so she appreciates how the Neon Pegasus battles the Gummi King’s “gluten-powered armada”). Even if the song fails to cheer, it still allows us to sing “Never again. Never agaaaain.”, which applies to so very many situations in life.
2.) If We Still Aren’t Cheered Up: MST3K Educational Shorts
First, please understand that every single Mystery Science Theater 3000 short is worth your time. (This is absolutely what led to Leah’s Definitive Ranking of Every MST3K Short.) Although you may not want to binge on them all at once since by and large they are excessively, hilariously dark in humor. If you can’t be cheered up by Parry Gripp, you can at least snuggle alongside the darkness with Joel and Mike and the Bots. (Jonah hasn’t done a short yet, we don’t think?)
Please accept this perfect example: “Last Clear Chance,” a road safety short from 1959 which slowly morphs into the story of how a rural cop manipulates a farm family into their own tragic undoing.
This is a short that isn’t afraid to ask you to identify a bucket full of your brother. Enjoy!
3.) If We Are Cheered Up and It’s Time to Dance: Star Trek Tik Tok / Nicki Minaj “Starships” Fan Edit
Fan vids can be some of the greatest fandom creations, and this favorite still makes us smile because it combines two things that shouldn’t go together and somehow do: Original Series Star Trek and Ke$ha. Moreover it does a great job of communicating just how bonkers that show really was (and how much time people on it spent drinking and partying). Ke$ha really brings out the spirit of Star Trek. Who knew?!
Oh, and while we’re talking about masterful sci-fi editing that completely redeems a by-the-numbers dance track:
4.) Computer, Enhance Weirdness of Star Trek: Gazorra’s “TNG Edits”
It’s not really remarked upon, but one of the many reasons that Star Trek: The Next Generation is so much fun to revisit is because every character has a specific idiosyncratic, scenery-chewing weirdness to them. As if they’re all just waiting for the scene to be over so they can relax and go back to living inside their own heads. Gazorra’s “TNG Edits” series re-edits clips and audio from the show into short videos that demonstrate the “off-screen adventures” of this weird crew, and they feel just as real as ST: TNG itself. (Data, for example, has an ongoing thread where he attempts to master human art and it’s horrifying, although where else can you see Sarek crying to Data’s live remix of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme?) Fair warning! Some of the episodes feature NSFW music or images, or are just too juvenile.
5.) All of the Videos and Movies We Quote Instead of Talking to Each Other Like Humans
Various Lonely Island/SNL Videos that are all Ryan Britt’s fault: “Yo Michael Bolton we really need you to focus up.” (Jack Sparrow) “I’m not a part of your system. My dad’s not a phone.” (Threw It On The Ground) “Mmmmwhatchasayyyyy?” (Dear Sister) “Come on man that was like three days ago OR WAS IT” or “None of this will matter because we live in The Matrix.” (Great Day) “Why did I think you could do this?” (Shy Ronnie 2) “WHATCHU WANT NATALIE?” (Natalie Raps). That last one is, of course, a key part of any discourse involving our Staff Writer Natalie Zutter.
Sub-titling every sequel “Rise of the Silver Surfer”: It works really well! (This one was also Ryan Britt’s fault.) Anyway get hype for Ant-Man & The Wasp 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
Pretty much any line from Star Trek III or IV: “Genesis allowed is not! Is planet forbidden!” “Not NOW, Madeline.” “Don’t call me Tiny…” “I think it’s across the bay, in Alameda.” “You know they say the sea is cold but the sea contains the hottest blood of all.” “This isn’t reality…this is FANTASY.” “You’re half-human. The computer knows that.”
The Production Department Communicates Almost Exclusively in Simpsons Gifs And Sometimes “Celery Man” or Wet Hot American Summer: “Come back, zinc.” “I am so smrt.” “It was just vapor lock.” “Sarah, can you boot up the Celery Man sequence, please.” “Can you kick up the 4d3d3d3?” “Well, Melvin, it means… less than.”
6.) Dressing Up The Office, Part 1: Unicorn Lamp/Rocket Lamp
We had an in-office fundraiser for our unicorn lamp, and we adore it. (We also gave each color of the unicorn a different name after trying and failing to apply a single name.) Then we had an in-office fundraiser for a rocket lamp as well. It makes the place more homey, particularly during the darker parts of the year, and reminds us that we are all unicorns on the inside and rockets on the outside.
7.) Dressing Up The Office, Part 2: “Pornicorn”
Over one weekend, Staff Writer Leah Schnelbach found a giant portrait on the side of the road (and we mean GIANT. It’s three feet tall and pasted onto a block of finished wood an inch thick) featuring a mostly nude lady with a… suggestive-looking unicorn pal. As soon as Leah brought it in, we knew the discarded print had found its new home. The piece is actually known as Angel of the Gods and is by Greg Hildebrandt (of the Hildebrandt Brothers). We lovingly dubbed our new best friend “the pornicorn” and often look to it for guidance. It’s also a great conversation starter when people stop by.
8.) Dressing Up The Office, Part 3: Horse Calendars
One year for Nerd Christmas (basically a Christmas-morning everyone-opens-a-present thing we do outside the office over the holidays) Chris got Leah an inspirational horse calendar. Leah brought that calendar into the office, and turning the page each month became An Event. The next year, Sarah purchased a mini horse calendar (the calendar was mini, not the horses) to keep the tradition alive. This year we have one with inspiring words from kittens, brought in by Molly. It’s the little things, don’t ya know.
9.) Dressing Up The Office, Part 4: Origami Dragons
One day we got directions to make origami dragons as part of a book promotion, and spent every spare second perfecting them. They took a lot of time. We love them.
10.) Animal Party (also, Animals Making the Wrong Noises)
On our work Slack, we posted so many pictures and videos of adorable animals that we ended up making a separate channel for them dubbed “animal_party”. Sure, there are plenty of places on the internet to look for cute fur bbys, but it’s easier when you let your coworkers curate the feed for you. We are also partial to videos of animals making noises that they should not be able to make, as evidenced by the video above.
11.) Working Hard and Playing Hard: Robot Unicorn Attack
(We said there were a lot of unicorns.) Natalie remembers back when she was just a freelancer dreaming of boarding the Tor.com rocket full-time, she joined Chris, Emily, and Ryan in their brief but all-consuming love for this random Adult Swim browser game. Many a gchat was filled with all-caps renditions of lyrics like ALWAYS I WANNA BE WITH YOU AND MAKE BELIEVE WITH YOU AND LIVE IN HARMONY HARMONY OHH LOVE and competitions over who could transform into a panda, or a gorilla, or a dragon (!!) first.
12. Working Hard and Drinking Hard: City Bakery Hot Chocolate Festival
From the top of the Flatiron Building, the winter snow looks really pretty. Slogging through it is another matter. City Bakery’s annual hot chocolate festival gives us life every February, as we post the schedule in our office, debate the best flavors (Banana Peel is a classic, but White Chocolate Waltz is divine), and have a reason to venture out of the office into the slush.
13.) There Was No Reason For You To Do This: Chris’s Weird Photoshops
Chris was the first one with Photoshop on his machine here (and now he’s the Director: WHAT DOES THIS MEAN), so sometimes he is called upon to make us photoshopped images for the site. And sometimes he just makes them for fun. The results are always good for years worth of sudden laughter when we’re reminded that they exist.
14.) Anakin! No!: Star Wars Text Posts
We cannot pick a favorite from this glorious Twitter feed. Suffice it to say, every few weeks or months we remember it’s existence, return to it, and spend the next half hour giggling and sharing and tagging ourselves.
15.) That Time We Reenacted the Shawarma Scene From The Avengers
When The Avengers first came out in 2012, that tag scene was one of the greatest gifts cinema had given us. So we gathered together a few good pals, found a shawarma shop nearby, and decided to recreate it. (With Emily as Thor.) Obviously. Because what else do you do on your lunch break?
Hopefully, 2019’s Avengers 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer will give us another great team-up scene to re-enact….