Sunday, September 30, 2007

No Time For Football

Sunday September 30th, 2007 - Lake Villa, IL

A beautiful day today all around. I got a lot of things done and am in a good mindset for heading into the fourth quarter of 2007. This has been a very eventful year on many levels and I want to keep the momentum going into next year. This is the most important time of my entire life. I’ve paid a lot of dues and if anything is going to come of it it will be soon.

I didn’t watch any football at all today because I had too many other things to do. Those guys have their money and I don’t so even though I would have loved to rot in front of the tube and overdose on pigskin I didn’t. Instead I used today to do my once a month chores. I did some laundry, got my car washed, planned for my class tomorrow and got a haircut.

There is a haircut place not far from me I went to a few months ago and had one of the hottest women I’ve ever seen in my life cut my hair. Her name is Eva and she is stunning. I love brunettes and she has long black straight hair and a gorgeous face and a spectacular body and she’s nice too. She’s 24 and I feel like I’m officially old. I know Hugh Hefner is still going out with 24 year olds but that doesn’t seem right. I did enjoy my haircut though.

I knew women like that when I was 24 but I was too busy chasing the dream of comedy that I didn’t know what I had. Now they’re all 44 and I wonder how any of them held out. It’s great to have a hot body at 24 but life tends to beat up on everyone to a certain degree and it’s a whole different story in the 40’s. Plus, having someone to talk to is more what is needed in the long run than someone hot to gawk at. But still, Eva has it totally going on.

Maybe I’ll come back in twenty years when I’m 64 and she’s my age now and that might even things out a little. Then I’ll see if she was as hot as I think she is now. But for now to have her stand next to me for twenty minutes was a highlight and I enjoyed every minute. I don’t usually get the hot chick to cut my hair so when it does happen I know I’m on a roll.

I am really enjoying my Mitsubishi Mirage. I took it to the car wash where they scrub all the crust and grime off inside and out and it was the best $20 I spent this week. They took all the auction markings off the windshield and scrubbed the interior and wheels and now I feel even better about the deal I got. Cars run better when they’re washed and now it feels like a new car. The paint still shines and it’s got nice pep. All I need now is a car stereo so I made an appointment at Best Buy near Gurnee Mills for tomorrow so I can get that too.

After that I went up to meet my friend Gary Pansch for lunch at the truck stop in Racine where he has gift certificates. I had a big steak and talked with Gary about his cartooning skills. He’s very good and I want to have him illustrate part of my new CD or DVD cover. He is very creative and I told him about my business idea and I think I can use him there as well. I love to be around creative people and banter around ideas. That’s what I live for.

I heard about the football games today and that the Packers won and the Bears lost. It is truly a landmark day when that happens and it’s been happening a lot lately. I’m glad I had the discipline to keep the games off and do some work today because I needed to do that.
I am really in a good mindset right now. My depression is not in the picture at all and the creative wheels are leaving skid marks all over my brain. I’ve got so many projects moving forward I am having a difficult time keeping up with them all but I’m really having a blast.

All of this stuff is what I really like to do so when I get something done it fuels the fire a little more to keep working on something else. I can feel a real snowball effect starting and that’s good because the snow will soon be flying and that’s the time when creativity wanes around these parts. Cold weather is not always conducive to hot ideas but I’m on a streak.

I have been pecking away this week at the movie script and that’s really a positive thing. It’s been sitting a while and the time seems right to get back to it. My writing partner Rick is ready to get back to it too and I sent him some scenes this week and he loved them all. I know he’s not yanking my chain and if he didn’t love them he’d tell me. This will get done like we said it would and I really feel good about our chances to sell it. It’s going to work.

Another thing that’s been dangling is my pending appearance on network television I’ve written about previously. I don’t want to mention the show because I don’t think it’s right until I actually get on. I’ve been cleared for an appearance and that’s great but now I need to get a four and a half minute set together that the talent coordinator agrees to let me do.

I hadn’t heard from that person in weeks and received an email yesterday saying I have a few changes to make on what I sent. Network television can be very picky about stuff like using brand names or copyrighted materials. Plus being television clean is important too.

I’m not very dirty at all as a rule and I can easily change whatever I need to. Now I have to get four and a half minutes accepted and I’ll be hopefully on the show soon. It’s a dose of my own medicine in a way because I pick at the material of my students all the time. To get it right back is funny to me. I know the material works because I road tested it but for a television audience club material doesn’t always fly. This is a different game to play now.

And that’s what it is - a game. I didn’t take anything personally on the email and I’ll get it fixed and resubmit my set and I’ll keep doing it if necessary until I get on the show. I’ve been at this way too long to know that it’s a numbers game and I need to get on some TV. Working in Oshkosh following filth fest is hard. Doing a few clean minutes on TV isn’t.

My plate is heaping for the next three months and I want to make sure I do as much as I can to get as much accomplished as I can. I am going to start walking every day and get in a groove of physical exercise. I have been in and out this year and better than before but it still is nowhere near where I need to be. I allowed myself a nice fat steak today and I had a delicious ice cold Pepsi to wash it down and it was delicious but now I need to transfer my discipline from other areas into my workout program. So far I don’t have one. That’s bad.

I guess there is a danger of biting off more than I can chew but I feel like time is running and I don’t want to miss anything. It’s taken me so long to get here that I want to drink all of it in and enjoy each day to the fullest. Today was a great vibe and I want to continue it.

Oshkosh Obstacles

Saturday September 29th, 2007 - Oshkosh, WI/Lake Villa, IL

More ups and downs today. The downs weren’t horrible and the ups weren’t great. That doesn’t bother me at all. I could use a little stability right now. Too many things are going on at once and I need to take a step back and take an inventory of where my life is headed.

The first down came when I overslept this morning. I have been hitting it pretty hard and I haven’t been sleeping either well or a lot. I was supposed to be at Jerry Agar’s house this morning at 8:30 to ride with him and his wife Ann to go see his son Tanner play football. I woke up at 7:15 and wanted to get another fifteen minutes of sleep. I woke again at 8:10.

It’s about a half hour ride to Jerry’s house and I got there in record time but still I was a little late and we missed part of the first quarter. Jerry’s mother in law was in town visiting and she wanted to see the game too. Of course Tanner scored a touchdown before we got there and I felt like a complete jackass. Lucky for me he scored another one and they beat the snot out of the other team 41-6. Tanner had 102 yards and looked like Walter Payton.

After the game Jerry drove me over to the AAMCO transmission shop in Waukegan so I could pick up the Honda before 1pm when they closed. After everything it cost me $1948 but I have a new rebuilt transmission with a one year warranty. The guy who owns it is the kind of guy you want working on your car. He’s German and very meticulous and he does high quality work. I’ve gone to him before. His name is Rudy and he builds a mean tranny.

This was a calculated risk. I have a car repair emergency fund and this was most of it. A Honda Accord is about the most reliable car on the road and even though it has high miles on the engine this car has had care. Even Rudy told me it was smart to rebuild it because a new car would cost ten times more. He’s right but it doesn’t mean the motor won’t blow.

Anything and everything can happen to a car without notice. To risk $500 is one thing. I got more than my money’s worth out of that car even with a $200 auction fee added on to the $500 price. I’ve driven all over in that car trouble free. I could have junked it but I still think I did the right thing. The interior is pristine and the motor is strong and it runs great.

After taking Jerry back home I laid down to take another nap for an hour or so. Again it turned into three hours and I was now pushing it for my gig in Oshkosh tonight. I took my fastest shower in a long time and shaved fast hoping not to slice my cheek like corned beef in a deli and I didn’t. I splashed on my sexiest cologne and ran up the stairs to start driving so I wouldn’t be late. I would be cutting it very close and this is not how I like to work.

I tried calling the club but nobody answered the phone. I wanted to let them know I may be there right on time or a little late but I’d definitely be there. Now they had no clue and I can’t stand that situation. I’ve been in it way too many times and it’s always a big hassle to get there on time. Then when I do it usually is less than half full and they start late anyway.

Tonight wasn’t much different. I got there at 7:52 and the place was pretty empty because there were about six other events in town tonight that took business away from the club.
This was a very tough show. The degree of difficulty was on red alert and I had to really be on my toes the whole time or I could have been in big trouble. The owner’s brother is a cop and was in charge of the show tonight. He was a good guy and I sensed he didn’t take any guff from anyone. He told me if I needed anyone thrown out he would take care of it.

I think he was almost hoping something would happen. He seemed to be eager to help in the extermination of idiots and I for one am all for that. I wanted to buy him some ammo if he needed to clean house during my set but he seemed to be loaded up pretty well himself.
The show was in a bar that just started doing comedy. They like it so much they’re using different comedians for Friday and Saturday nights. That isn’t usually done and I think that may be difficult to maintain but for now it’s working out for them. I like the booker and he is also a comedian so he understands how difficult it is to pull off shows for loud drunks.

There were several loud drunks in the audience tonight but not all. By show time I’d say there were about 80 people in a room that probably sat 200 or a little more. They hadn’t a clue as to what to expect and the emcee was brand new and absolutely horrendous. He did nothing to make the show any better and on top of that he was extremely dirty. There isn’t a legitimate reason for any opening act/emcee to drop any F-bombs at all. Not even ONE.

It’s not good business and it doesn’t set the right tone for a show. By no means am I any kind of a prude and I can cuss it up with the best of them if I have to but the opening spot on a show in a dance club in Oshkosh is not the place to be Richard Pryor. It‘s not smart.

The scheduled opening act was even worse. I like the guy personally off stage but he did about as filthy a set as I’ve seen in a long time. Not only did he drop F’s all over he ran the gamut of disgusting body fluids and every other uncomfortable premise that not only has a numbing effect on an audience, it can alienate people too. He did do that to a few who left during his act but the ones who loved it (and there were quite a few) REALLY loved it so that would make it even harder for me to have to overcome that. My job was hard tonight.

I also had hecklers to deal with from every direction. One female (I can’t call her a lady) in front would NOT shut up. Her boyfriend was a hippie looking dude and he wouldn’t try to shut her up at all. She was gassed and not very attractive but I couldn’t ignore it as all I could hear from the stage was her incessant booze-o-babble. I tried being polite to start as I usually do but then it got a little less sugary and I asked her to ‘shut it or show it’. That’s usually the end of it but she decided to whip her boobs out and disgust the front row. I can usually find a way to enjoy breasts in any situation but she was so obnoxious that even that didn’t make the situation any better. I made some jokes about it and got some big laughs.

That’s the problem. I got big laughs all night. I purposely kept it professional and didn’t swear much at all to prove it could be done. Those other guys made it hard for me and it’s not fair that I had to spend a lifetime polishing a craft to have to follow this. I didn’t bitch to anyone at the club and I bit my lip and kept quiet until I got paid. I shook hands and did what I needed to do to get my cash. I earned every penny tonight and I’m glad this is over.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Staying Busy

Friday September 28th, 2007 - Lake Villa, IL/Racine, WI

Another busy day today but I enjoyed it. The weather is getting a little chillier and fall is in the air. Pretty soon it will be snowing and the holidays will be here again and then it will all come back around and another year will come and go. I am starting to see what both of my grandparents used to harp about when I was a kid. They both told me how time flies as a person gets older and now I can see what they meant. I’m trying to enjoy all of my days.

I thought about it today as I drove up to Milwaukee to visit Alan Eisenberg. I remember meeting Alan many years ago when I was doing comedy bits for the Reitman and Mueller radio show in Milwaukee. I was first starting out and didn’t have a clue as to what I might be doing but I thought associating myself with well known local celebrities couldn’t hurt.

Quite a few local icons said yes and did the bit with me and I learned a lot about politics. I learned how to put comedy bits together and how to work with people’s personality and quirks. It was a very educational. The bits were lousy but I was 21 and needed experience.

Alan Eisenberg is a lot of things. He’s a true character and everyone in Milwaukee has a personal opinion about him. He’s a well known defense attorney and my father was in awe of him. I think the only thing I ever did that pleased my father in any way was getting to be friends with Alan Eisenberg. He was always on TV for high profile cases when I was a kid and he’s the kind of lawyer you loathe until you need one. Then you want it to be Alan.

He has a presence and a charisma all his own. He was a drag racer for years and has his real estate license and hosted a radio show and is a local celebrity. He’s known by a lot of people and he’s the kind of person that gets a reaction right away. I happen to like him. It may be because we share a lot of maverick qualities but he makes me look absolutely tame by comparison. Alan can be a lightning rod for controversy and I think he enjoys it. He’s a ham. He’s also a very engaging and entertaining character. He is a dented can too. Maybe that’s why we get along so well. He has made something out of his life and he really does have a soul. I’ve seen him help people many times and he has a softhearted human side.

I went to see Alan about my big business idea. I know he has experience in stuff like this and I wanted to pick his brain. He can be eccentric and I knew that going in but sometimes that’s the price to pay for genius. He really is a sharp mind and that’s what I want around me as I breathe life into this thing. He had a few interesting ideas and I listened for things I could build on. We sat for an hour at the Pfister hotel cafe and had a brainstorm session.

If my father would have seen me hanging out with Alan Eisenberg at the Pfister I’d have probably have had his admiration. That was his hero. I thought of it as I sat there drinking my Coke and listening to Alan lay out his idea of what my entire business should entail.
I still have a long way to go with this idea but at least it’s in motion. I plan on working a lot more on it after the first of the year. For now I am just fishing for ideas and getting my ducks lined up as far as how an overall plan should look and how I can execute that plan.

I’ve told several people what I am planning and nobody has shot it down yet. Even Alan liked it initially even though I am not sure he gets the concept of what I’m trying to do. He still had good ideas to add as did all the other people I’ve told so far. I can feel that I’m on to something with this but it will be a big challenge to pull it off. That’s a giant part of it.

I love challenges and this will be a big one. I’m starting from absolute zero on this and it will take a lot of help from a lot of people to get me up and running. It’s an idea that is not necessarily original but what truly is? Was McDonald’s original? Not really. The system of making the hamburgers was unique and the McDonald brothers developed and improved it and Ray Kroc took it national and then world wide. I’m not sure if my idea is that big but I don’t need it to be. It’s a combination of many things I’ve done in my life and I think I will be able to pull it off like nobody else can. That’s what I’m gambling on and if it completely blows up in my face I’m not going to die from it. The risk is actually very low. I like that.

I’ve been thinking about it day and night lately. It’s exciting to me. It’s new and fresh so I am thinking new and fresh thoughts. It’s like when I get a difficult crossword puzzle. I’m totally focused on it and it’s a mental workout. I love that. That’s what this business is. I’ll learn all about a lot of things I never thought I would and the whole thing just feels right.
It doesn’t mean I’ll have to stop doing comedy either. In fact if it works it will add to it. I’m always going to do standup comedy and that’s my main love. Depending on doing the one nighters for low money is not my main love. It will be a lot better when I don’t NEED to do them. I’ll be able to pick and choose a lot more and comedy will be even more fun.

Tonight was a perfect example. I worked in Racine, WI at a place called McCaulliffe’s. I think that was the name anyway. They are all starting to run together after a while. I got a call from a booker named Fletcher Lee who I have worked for many times over the years.

Fletcher used to be in a band for twenty years and is originally from D.C. He got out of music and his wife was from Kenosha, WI so he moved here and started booking bands. It grew into comedy too and he’s had gigs that have come and gone for a lot of years. He’s a very honest person and a good guy and everybody likes him. His gigs aren’t always on the list of favorite places to play and there usually isn’t a hotel involved but for a local comic it is a few bucks to pad the open dates on the schedule. I had this weekend open and got the call out of the blue so I gladly said yes. I haven’t worked for Fletcher in quite a few years.

The opening act was Steve Purcell. Steve took my class at Vernon Hills Zanies and he’s been coming up the ranks for several years. He loves comedy and is also a good guy so it was a fun night all around. It was the place’s first time doing comedy and they were trying to experiment a little. The stage lighting was bad and there were some other glitches too.

The crowd wasn’t huge either but it was very responsive and they all had a good time. It wasn’t the kind of gig that will make anyone a star but to hang out with friends and have a good time for a night and get a few bucks to boot was a fun night out. I am doing ok and I am not depending on that money to live on. That makes it a lot easier to enjoy the rest.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Not Funny Now

Thursday September 27th, 2007 - Milwaukee, WI/Lake Villa, IL

All over the place today. It started out on the wrong foot and slid downward from there. I was up late working on my movie script and actually making some progress. I apparently unplugged the computer somehow and it was on battery power and it just shut down. I did not expect that at all and I lost all I had been working on. I was infuriated but what could I do? I tried calling a couple of computer geek types I know and they said the same thing. It was gone forever and there was nothing I could do about it. My frustration was immense.

I couldn’t sleep so I just plugged it in and started over. It’s difficult to recreate the exact words but I remembered bits and pieces and I did the best I could. I ended up going to bed at 4:45am and had to be right back up to pick up my friend Will C. who was coming to get the Cougar and drive it back to Kansas City for his son. His flight was at O’Hare at 8am.

Will is a great guy and a dented can and I get everything about him. He’s doing this for a reason I can relate to. He didn’t get it from his father and he would have loved it. He’s not going to deprive his son of a lifetime memory and if I can be part of it I’m all for it. He has a good heart and I know how much it means to him to be able to do something for his son.

That doesn’t mean this came off without a hitch though. I got up and groggily turned on the TV to check traffic and the halfwit bubblehead said the direction I was going was clear of backups. I got out there and it was a parking lot. I tried going back roads and that made it even worse. I was supposed to be there at 8am but didn’t get there until almost 9:30.

It was one backup after the next and I was supposed to be in Milwaukee to be on ESPN Radio’s D List with my friend Drew Olson. The pressure was on and I can’t stand that. He is easygoing and wouldn’t be upset but I told him I was coming and I wanted to show up.

When I got to the airport the ramp leading to it was closed. I was stunned. I’ve NEVER seen that in all my years of living in and around Chicago. It was under construction so the only thing I could do was go around and that was a way bigger hassle than if I’d just tried a commando attack and plowed right through the construction barriers. What a nightmare.

I finally got there and found Will and then I discovered that the door lock on my ‘new’ car was stuck and I couldn’t open the passenger door. Will got in the back like a cab and I told him about what happened and he laughed but I didn’t find the funny in it at that time. It’s a feeling of overwhelm and frustration when this happens and it happens in big waves.

Today was a tidal wave. We fought traffic and the clock going the other way back home so I could let Will take the Cougar to his gig on the south side and I would hopefully catch a break and make it to Milwaukee for the radio show but that was not to be on this day.

My Honda with the shaky transmission was still at the auto auction lot. It’s hard to drive two cars with one fanny so I stopped on the way so Will could help drive one of them. If I took the Honda to the transmission shop I could get a diagnosis and see if I would keep it.

On paper that all sounded fine but it got lost in the execution. I asked Will which one he wanted to drive and he just randomly picked the Honda. I gave him the keys and he got in. I was in the Mitsubishi and told him to follow me. I made a left out of the lot but he didn’t follow right away and I don’t blame him at all. There were a couple of cars coming and to be in a strange car for ten seconds it might not be safe to gun it on a left turn in traffic. I’m actually glad he did wait so I pulled over in a gas station lot a block away to wait for him.

Unfortunately he didn’t see me there and kept going straight at an intersection where we needed to turn. That’s why I was in the gas station lot but he didn’t know that. I called his cell phone but of course it was still in the back seat of my car in Will’s luggage. I couldn’t get in a hold of him and he was in a strange town in a strange car with a bad transmission.

I followed him the direction he went and of course I saw him coming back the other way on a road on which it was impossible to make a u-turn. There were guard rails and I had a hell of a time turning around but I eventually did. I decided to go back to where we began at the auction lot but he wasn’t there either. Time was ticking away and I was so frazzled I couldn’t think straight. It would be a very funny scene in a movie but it wasn’t funny now.

I couldn’t call Drew because he was on the air. I couldn’t call Will either. What do I do? I went to the gas station I waited for him originally and stood outside so he could see me. He eventually came that way and I jumped up and down to flag him down. He barely saw me but when he did he smiled and I got in my car and we went to the transmission place to drop off the Honda. We got in the Mitsubishi to go to my place and get the Cougar. Ugh.

Will apologized the whole way but it wasn’t his fault. I wasn’t angry at him or anyone. I was angry at the situation. It was so frustrating not to be able to find Will but it was worse because I had no sleep from last night when the computer crashed and I had to rewrite the script scene until 4:45am. I was all over the place and not in a good mood but I tried to be rational and logical about it all. Will said all this might be a test and he may be right but for what? Who’s testing and what do I get if I pass? Do I get any extra credit for being nice?

On paper this was all a funny scene I guess and Will said so. He’s probably right but I’m not able to see it today. We made it back to my place in the boonies and I still hadn’t taken all my road stuff out of the Cougar like I had planned to so that took a few more minutes.

I did have the title handy so I signed it and wrote a bill of sale and checked the car once more and Will was off to his gig. That was really a great car and I hope his son loves it. As frustrating as today was as it happened years from now all that will be remembered is that time Will flew to Chicago to pick up the car. Like my grandpa liked to say ‘Nobody wants to hear about labor pains, they only want to see the baby.’ Somehow that fits in all of this.

I made it up to Milwaukee and had lunch with Drew after his show. He wasn’t upset for a minute and that was good news. We kicked around some ideas and it was a chance to be able to relax from my hectic morning. Then I went and visited my friend Pat Martin and he found the whole story funny. Then I saw my cousin Brett and he fixed my passenger door.

Old Friends And Old Cars

Wednesday September 26th, 2007 - Kenosha, WI/Waukegan, IL

An unexpected day today on many fronts. Tim Walkoe called out of the blue and asked if I could fill in for him on a private show in a few weeks. It’s on a Wednesday night and I am available so that’s a win/win for everyone. He gets out of it and I get a few bucks. It’s a situation all performers get into and when someone can cover in a pinch it’s a big relief.

Money is not the issue it has been recently because I’ve been working a lot. I am trying to keep good records so taxes will be easier than ever this coming year and I also am back to at least reasonable levels of being behind on emails, calls and keeping in touch with old friends. One of those is a guy named Pete Christensen. He gave me my first shots on radio and TV. We had lunch today and I apologized for inflicting brutality on his audiences then.

Pete is truly a kind soul. He had a radio show on a college station in Milwaukee and also did a public access TV show long before that was hip and cool. Not only did he act as the host he was the director, writer, promoter, talent coordinator, makeup artist and at times a referee. I met Pete when I was just starting but like me he had wanderlust and left town as soon as he had the opportunity. We wanderers know what that’s like and we just go for it.

Pete lived in Vancouver for a while and then Seattle before finally settling in Phoenix for many years. He was doing some comedy and working as a director for a TV news show at a local station. When I was working in radio in Reno and Salt Lake City he would phone a few bits in once in a while and we tried to keep in touch as much as two wandering cheese head comedians could do. I hadn’t heard from him in a while and was glad he called me.

He dropped a bombshell when he apologized for not being in better touch lately. I told him I could have been as well but he said no. He was out of touch for several years as he was recovering from throat cancer. WOW. Total shock. I had no idea. He went through all the nasty horrors of chemotherapy and had a tumor removed but he looks fine now.

We had a long lunch and talked about a lot of things. He can’t taste much of anything so he picked around at a little bit of food but didn’t eat much. He gets treatment in Zion, IL a few miles away and has family in Kenosha that he visits when he’s back this way. He had a fantastic attitude and always was a very down to earth person you can’t help but like a lot.

I showed him a copy of my CD that had his name in it in the thank yous and I could see it really touched him and made him feel important. He IS important. Pete was a supporter of local bands and comedians for many years and I never thought he got credit for doing it as much as he did. Maybe that’s because he wasn’t loud and obnoxious and out for only a few bucks for himself. Pete is good hearted and helps others. We really had a great visit.

One thing we are both sharing is a feeling of gratitude that grows every day. We walked through a couple of thrift stores because Pete likes them too and just relaxed and had FUN on a Wednesday afternoon. Not many people in down any town can take a day off and just go goof around all day. We both realized just how lucky both of us are and we enjoyed it.

No matter what other problems I might have that’s not one of them. Cancer is ugly. It’s not quick like a heart attack or a stroke. Oh no. It makes a person LINGER. I will always do all I can to help out any cancer curing causes because my grandfather died from it back in 1981. They used a lot of experimental drugs on him because he volunteered for them all so he could maybe live one day longer. He fought death to the very bitter ugly painful end.

I admire guys like Pete and Robert Schimmel who plow through cancer and keep up the fight. I’m not so sure I’d fight that hard. This world is insane and I like my chances for the next one if indeed there is one. I might just want to close up shop and move on to the next life wherever that is. I just hope it’s not back here. There are too many other places to see.

Pete and I talked about all that kind of stuff and it really was a stimulating conversation. It made my problems seem very small and we talked about that too. I remember how small they seemed when I had my car accident in 1993. It changes perspective in a hurry and lets one know what’s really important and what isn’t. Pete said his viewpoint has changed too.

It was a gorgeous day and we squeezed a lot out of it. On the ride to drop Pete off back at his brother’s house in Kenosha the transmission on my Honda began to slip a little. I’m used to cars breaking down so I didn’t panic. Pete was a little concerned. ‘Do you think it will make it to Kenosha?’ I just looked at him and smiled. ‘I don’t know.’ I said. ‘Are you feeling lucky today?’ He smiled too. After our talk about life and death and cancer and all the other deep topics we hit a little bit of car trouble on a sunny day would not rattle us.

It started to get even worse and it looked like we wouldn’t make it but we did. It would be an inconvenience but not a catastrophe even if the car was a total loss. I have squeezed my money out of it from the auction and it’s paid for and I’m ahead of the game. I’d like a few more miles out of it because it’s a great road car but if it dies it dies. No hard feelings.

I dropped Pete off and started heading slowly for Waukegan to go to the car auction. If I don’t have good timing in anything else I do with the car auction. I drove carefully to get there and I made it right about 4:30 when inspection starts for the cars to be auctioned off. I couldn’t have had any better timing so I put down my deposit and browsed the selection.

This process is like fishing to me. I love it and it relaxes me. Crawling into one car after the next and starting it up and popping the hood and looking for leaks somehow makes me forget about my problems for a while. There are enough regulars there that I have people I talk to about the cars and nothing else. We don’t know each other’s names or anything but ‘how that Ford Taurus sounds’ etc. They’re probably forgetting about their problems too.

I ended up getting a ‘93 Mitsubishi Mirage. It’s a nice little four door nondescript sedan with 113,000 miles on it and new tires too. I bid on it because a dealer wanted it and that’s a good sign. They know what to look for. I’ve piggybacked on them before. They know a price they need to stop bidding so they can make a profit. If I make one more bid I usually get the car and that’s what happened today. The bidding reached $600 and the dealer was out. I bid $625 and got the car. I drove it home and it really drives nice. I think I did ok.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Radio Again?

Tuesday September 25th, 2007 - Kenosha, WI/Rockford, IL/Lake Villa, IL

Today I took an unexpected trip on the Cheddar Triangle and wound up with a radio gig in the process. I still don’t know how it all happened but I listened to that little voice that’s in us all and that’s where it told me to go. Every time I listen to that voice it usually works out great and it did again today. I went with the flow and it ended up paying off in a day.

I’ve been thinking about my business idea non stop since it came to me September 1st. It is consuming my thoughts in a good way and I have done at least one thing each day since to move the idea along. It’s starting completely from scratch and I know nothing about the business part of it so that’s going to take time, effort and help from people who’ve already done it. I am planning on moving ahead full speed on January 1st but I’m still working now so I can hit the ground running. I’ll gladly write all about it then but for now I’ll be brief.

John Perry is a guy who runs WIIL in Kenosha, WI. I used to work with him at WQFM in Milwaukee in 1991 and we’ve stayed friends ever since. I haven’t seen him in a while so I sent him an email telling him I wanted to run my idea past him over lunch at his leisure. I got a call ten minutes later saying he could do it today so I dropped my plans and said yes.

The good thing about living in Lake Villa is that I am now about 20 minutes from WIIL. I worked there over the years and it was always hard to get to no matter if I lived down in Chicago or up in Milwaukee. This location I am in now would have been absolutely ideal.
We had lunch at Famous Dave’s and I ran the idea past him. He nodded and asked what I wanted him to do. I told him I want to find out how much advertising costs and how I’m going to promote the business when I get it going. I also volunteered to do guest spots for any of the stations in the company. They have two in Kenosha and two in Waukegan too.

His eyes lit up when I asked that and he asked if I’d be interested in co-hosting their new paranormal show on the AM station WLIP. I love Coast to Coast AM and I said I’d enjoy it very much. The other co-host would be a guy named Jimmy Novack who I worked with at the Loop when I first started there. Jimmy is a super nice guy and we got along great at the Loop and after lunch we went back to the station to talk out a few details. Jimmy is as big a fan or more of subject matter like UFOs and Bigfoot and crop circles and every other kind of paranormal subject. He would be a perfect partner for this and we just might see if we can pull this off. I told them I am busy but still love the idea. Now it’s up to us to do it.

After that I tried calling my other radio friend Jim Stone at The X in Rockford. Nobody answered at the station and it’s only about 60 miles so I just drove out there unannounced. He lets me have an open door policy and I appreciate it. If I’m in the area I’ll walk in and be part of the show. That’s how I always enjoyed working but a lot of radio guys hate it.

They had a psychic of all things on today and she was very good. I gave her a card and it could lead to her being on the show in Kenosha at some point. It’s amazing how it all goes smoothly when I’m in sync with the universe. Today was one of those days and I had fun.

Unhappy Birthday

Monday September 24th, 2007 - Lake Villa, IL

Today is my ex-best friend Timbo’s birthday. He’s 45. We met when we were 12. He is six months older than me and was a grade ahead of me in school. I was going into the 7th grade and he was going into 8th. It was summer and he hadn’t turned 13 yet. We played as much baseball as we could that summer and then it was football season and we kept going until it was basketball season. Then we just kept hanging out every day for years and years and we were closer to each other than our own blood brothers. We came of age together.

The memories we have with each other are permanent. He got his driver’s license first so he would get his mom’s car and we would go to the drive in hunting for chicks. Once in a while we’d even catch some. He was fun to hang out with and funny and we always had a blast whether it was at the drive in or the ball game or our favorite destination professional wrestling matches at the Milwaukee Auditorium to see our favorite wrestler The Crusher.

I got Timbo his job at the frozen custard stand on Villard Avenue and we worked for an entire summer in high school. He borrowed my car to close the deal with his first girlfriend and every Christmas we’d hang out and eat Chinese food at the Port of China restaurant in a suburb of Milwaukee because neither one of us had much of a family to hang out with at holiday time. He was the one I’d call when the car broke down at 4am and he’d call me.

Timbo was my best friend for many years until he decided to rob the bank where he used to work. Then he decided to do it again a couple of years later. This is the extremely short version of the story but the bottom line is that in the end I was forced to wear a wire under my shirt and get him to admit he did it and then I had to testify against him in court. It was THE most difficult and painful thing I’ve ever had to do and I still have nightmares today.

This is the movie script I’m working on with my writing partner and for years it’s been a source of pain and torment in my life. It’s a fantastic story for sure but it wasn’t fun to live through and all these years later it seems like it was another lifetime ago. But it won’t ever go away and the best thing I can do is finish the script and exorcise that demon for good. I still ended up losing my best friend and for a guy like me with no close family that pain has a lot deeper kick than just having it happen as a ‘normal’ person. The whole thing stinks.

He was in my corner for a lot of my worst times. When I rolled my Mustang convertible in 1993 a week after I turned 30 he was the one who took me home from the hospital. My own father and mother didn’t come to see me but Timbo was there every day with a paper to read or a treat to eat or some clean clothes or whatever I needed. He was my brother.

We shared a lot of things over the years but the strongest bond other than the wrestling matches was our love for the Green Bay Packers. We’d watch every game we could and I remember riding up to Lambeau Field in December with Timbo and my cousin Brett to see the Packers stomp the Bears 40-3 in the snow. Life doesn’t get any better for us cheesers. We always promised ourselves if they ever went to the Super Bowl we would do whatever it took to go see that game live. That was the year of the bank trial and we couldn’t do it.

I remember getting flown back to Milwaukee for the trial and seeing everyone wearing a Packer jersey or hat at the airport. I saw Jane Skinner who was at Fox 6 then and she did a news piece about Packer mania taking over the whole state. I knew her a little bit from my friend Ted Perry and she came up to me and said ‘Hi Dobie. You look tired. Are you ok?’

What was I supposed to say? ‘Hi Jane. Yes, I’m a little taxed. My best buddy robbed the bank he used to work at and I have to testify against him in a couple of weeks. Go Pack!’ I was working in radio in Reno then and I told her I was just back to drink in all the fun.

These are memories I’ve been trying to bury and I’ll be good for a while but then I’ll get a reminder somehow and it will take me right back there again. I remember standing alone in a Mexican restaurant in Albuquerque before my show watching the end of the game. I’ll never forget it because I was the only one who cared. The mariachi band was preparing to get started and everyone in there wanted that. I remember jumping up and down watching the clock tick down to zero and looking around at Mexicans staring at me like I was nuts.

I remember Reggie White holding up the trophy and there I was by myself with nobody to share what I had waited a lifetime to see. I should have been with Timbo seeing it live. I felt anger and sadness and then I started to cry right there in the restaurant. It was painful.

What hurts even now is that Timbo is LOVING it that the Packers are 3-0 just like I am. I heard from a friend we both knew from high school that he returned to Milwaukee when he got out of prison and I assume he is still living there. Wherever he is he watched all the games and was just as thrilled as I was to see them win all of them. We used to ALWAYS watch every game we could when I was in town and if I wasn’t we’d discuss it by phone.

Timbo took a big part of my childhood away with his little stunt. He put me in a spot I’ll never forget and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. The script is coming along well actually and I have a good feeling that eventually this will be made into a movie just because it is as amazing a story as I’ve ever heard. Had I not lived it myself I might not have believed it.

People ask me if I’m going to be friends with him again. I have to say NO. He really put me in a horrible spot and I just don’t think friends do that to each other. The movie script will have all the twists and turns of the story but it took years to play out and he ended up sticking it to me in the end and I just don’t think I would be able to trust him ever again.

Forgiveness has been very difficult and over the years I always think of him at birthdays and holidays just because we spent so many together. He knows my birthday and I wonder if he ever thinks of me? I heard he was angry at me and wishes me dead for turning him in.

Sorry, I didn’t turn him in. HE did it to himself. Then he brought me along with him and I was just not going to go to prison for two bank robberies I didn’t commit. Now there are people who think I had something to do with it. If I did, would I be living in a basement in Lake Villa, IL like a spider? I hope not. But for now that’s where I am. I wish none of this would have happened at all but for the rest of this life I’ll have these thoughts on this day.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Three Week High

Sunday September 23rd, 2007 - Houston, TX/Lake Villa, IL

Packers win. Bears lose. Vikings lose. Lions lose. On the first Sunday of autumn there’s not much better news I can receive than that. The Packers are 3-0 and I’m in the euphoric stage of my addiction for another week. That high will run out and I know it but for today things are pretty sweet. The sun is shining and Packers are winning and life is in a groove.

Sometimes it all just works out. I tried my hardest to get the airline to allow me to switch my ticket so I could do the show in Houston tonight but they wouldn’t let me do it unless I sold an inner organ. Don Learned is one of my favorite people and he took care of it and found a replacement and there were no problems. I had to pay for it out of my check but it was a lot cheaper than what the airline was demanding and I gladly thanked Don and left.

It’s great when it all works out but it also is a very strong reminder that I’m replaceable and so is everybody else. I was thrilled to hear Don found somebody to replace me but the fact that it took about fifteen minutes was a wake up call. I am lucky to have the work. If I were a draw it might have been a problem but I’m not and nobody knows it more than me.

All I thought about on the plane was how being good doesn’t really matter. I would love to be thought of as good at what I do but the truth is it means next to nothing in my ability to draw a crowd and do business. It’s about promotion and sales and public relations and I am realizing it more and more. Being good helps but it’s not what is getting me bookings.

I met Don in LA when we both were on the faculty of Gene Perret’s Round Table about ten years ago. He and I hit it off and he invited me to work his club in Houston. He hadn’t even seen my act or known if I had a headline set. He liked me as a person and I got hired. Yes I did the job and got hired BACK several times, but being good didn’t get me the gig.

This is a challenging time for me right now. I have a lot of people who like me and book me on a regular basis. I do the job and that brings me back but it’s not automatic. I am not welcome back at a few places too and again it’s because of nothing to do with my abilities as a comedian. I have a personality that polarizes people and when I clash it’s usually big.

Knowing that, I need to reshape my business dealings and add more prospects. I am too old to change my ways now and I actually don’t mind if certain people don’t like me but it isn’t smart to cultivate it and I don’t. If it’s there I can’t do much other than go around the people who aren’t going to change their minds. It’s an inconvenience but it won’t kill me.

I’m not sure if I’ll be back in Houston any time soon but Don helps book Las Vegas and he said he’d help me get in there next year. That’s the kind of stuff I need to focus on. I do like Houston and would love to return if they’ll have me but Vegas is where I need to be.

After the Packer game I took a nice long nap and relaxed today. This will be another big week of hard work and I’m looking forward to it. I have a lot of projects I’m trying to get off the ground and they’re all things I enjoy. That part of my life is working out splendidly.

Cuckoo For Koozies

Saturday September 22nd, 2007 - Houston, TX

I am on the wrong planet. I always thought that and this week confirmed it even more. I didn’t have a very good week of shows at all but since I’ve got so many other things going on it doesn’t bother me as much as it usually does. Looking back on my lowest depression ruts it’s frequently been after a week of shows entertaining a bunch of boozed up maniacs.

It totally blows my mind how alcohol controls the lives of such a large number of people all over the world. It’s not just America. The whole world is drunk most of the time. It has always been a mystery to me and still is. I have problems too but I don’t try to crawl into a bottle of hooch to escape from them. I always thought it was stupid and a loser’s way out and I do even more this week after watching the entire week’s worth of gassed up Texans stare at me every night. Some of them didn’t stare. They talked among themselves like the show wasn’t even going and it was rude and unpleasant and I wouldn’t be sad at all if they drank themselves into a coma and/or ran their pickup trucks head on into a full gas truck.

I would feel bad for the gas truck driver because he’s probably just out there hustling up a buck to feed his family so I’ll change it to an oak tree. No, an oak tree is life and isn’t at fault so how about a brick wall? Ok, that’ll work. Let’s hose the carcasses of some boozer losers off a brick wall and donate their organs to people who are trying to live a good life.

That might start to cheer me up if even just a little. Steve Allen said back in the ‘50s that sooner or later every entertainer gets sick and tired of entertaining drunks. I hear that loud and clear every time I have a few shows like this but I don’t see it ending any time soon. It is a major portion of society and I am just sick of it. It bores me and I think they’re idiots.

But what do I know? Not much. Anything that I seem to like isn’t mainstream and never was. I’m not a prude and I’m not an elitist but I’ve been called both. Far from it. I enjoy a mental challenge in entertainment but the majority of everything is aimed at the low end of the totem pole and it doesn’t interest me at all. Why can’t smart things be popular too?

Because the majority of the public is just plain STUPID. They don’t think for themselves or try to better themselves by hard work. They work just enough to get paid and then they go out on the weekends and guzzle up as much alcohol as they can and their whole beings revolve around making sure they get drunk so they can have a ‘good time‘. Count me out.

There is a portion of society that likes what I do. Not many of them were here this week and it gave me all I could handle to make it through my 45 minute set each time. The guys in front of me were very nice offstage but I don’t know if either one was a good match for my comedy style. That’s not a stab at them personally or even professionally but it’s true.

Eddie Van Halen and Tim McGraw have two different styles of music. They could be on the same bill and chances are part of the audience would like one and not the other. That’s how I felt this week. The guys were very nice but their styles of comedy weren’t a smooth match with mine. It’s luck of the draw and sometimes it doesn’t always wind up meshing.

I learned a hell of a lot about marketing from the middle act this week. He was probably one of THE best salesmen I’ve ever seen. He politely asked me at the start of the week if I minded if he sold anything after the shows. That’s actually proper protocol for him to do it because I’m the headliner and if I really wanted to I could stop him from selling anything.

It’s a respect thing. It takes years to develop into a headliner and technically they should be the only ones to sell merchandise after the show because they earned that right. Lately a lot of middle acts have had to sell stuff just to survive on the road. Gas prices and the fact that most clubs haven’t raised their pay scale in 20 years or more force the issue with this.

I know headliners who will squelch all other sales but I don’t think that’s fair and I don’t do it. I know I’ve lost sales from it but I was a middle act and I know how much a couple of bucks can make or break a week so I let it go. A few times it has bitten me in the shorts and this week was one of them. I sat and watched this guy clean up and it really irked me.

Again, this was nothing personal against him and we talked about it all week. I respect a guy for making a living but his shirts weren’t very well made at all and they had only three words on them, one of which was a swear word. People were LINED UP to buy them and gawked at me like I was dishing out cod liver oil enemas with a six inch used rusty needle.

I have a nice CD and it looks professional and I paid $3.50 each for them just so I could have a quality product that I was proud to charge $10 for at shows. This guy has a CD too but it’s in a white paper wrapper with nothing on it and he also sells beer ‘koozies’. I have seen those things before but I didn’t know they were called a ‘koozy’. I guess I’M dumb.

Well he’s the one laughing now. I watched him sell TONS of those things at $5 each. He kept going through boxes of them and there were so many people hovering around him for one that they blocked my sales because I was standing right next to him. I was amazed as I watched five dollar bills fly out of wallets and then he’d up sell them to a t-shirt at an extra $15. He had the people at a drunk and vulnerable point and he took full advantage of that.

He would embarrass them into buying as much as he had to sell and he was quite good. I learned by watching even though I feel very uncomfortable with high pressure sales in that style. He walked out of there with a wad of bills each night and I bet he made more money for the week in merchandise than I made performing - all by selling less than stellar stuff.

I can guarantee you that I will be looking into the koozy business very shortly. The thing is that I would NEVER pay $5 for that or even $15 for a t-shirt. That’s what most comics sell their shirts for and I have a hard time selling it on stage but I need to get over that and do it correctly or resign myself to the fact that I am losing thousands of dollars every year.

I thought being a professional comedian meant just being FUNNY. That‘s not all. I need to use my act to sell products after the show. That’s why movies and TV and even radio is in business. They sell products. I need to do the same. I am in show BUSINESS. I need to be a lot smarter and use my show to earn more business. I sure learned a lot this week.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Texas Torture Test

Thursday September 20th, 2007 - Houston, TX

The majority of today was a major malfunction but I was bulletproof so I’m still feeling ok. When I’m having a bulletproof day I can take almost anything but when I’m down I’m vulnerable to any and every little thing. I’m glad I wasn’t down today because it was really stressful. The one thing I did correctly today was to focus on the positive the whole day.

My plane was leaving at high noon out of O’Hare and I woke up early and finished up a few things I was working on. I needed to mail out a few cds to some people to send to the troops in a care package and I’m always all about that. There is also a person who is really sick and one of his friends said he could use some cheering up so I sent one to him also.

I know how good it feels to laugh when one is needed though and today I sure could’ve used a few more than I had. The entire day seemed like it was spent waiting in line. I left a little later than I wanted because there was a line in the post office when I mailed the cds. I was running late and then had to wait in line at the gas station because all the pumps were being used.

Nobody was hurrying and I was getting tense but rather than make some rude (but usually funny) remark I focused on catching my plane. I pictured myself on the plane and doing a crossword puzzle and enjoying a nice icy cold glass of tomato juice and going to Houston which is a place I really enjoy. It was hard to focus on that but I forced myself.

Then I missed all the traffic lights getting to the freeway and had to wait some more. It’s frustrating when the other direction gets the green turning arrow and it happened on every single light today. It is a huge pet peeve of mine but there’s nothing I could do. It’s cosmic sodomy. The universe was passing out punishment for some reason but why was it today?
Road construction and nose picking halfwits talking on cell phones and smoking caused my blood pressure to hit cardiac proportions as I began to wonder if I’d make the plane at all. I had to slam on the brakes because some nimrod on a cell phone cut me off without a signal but I was bulletproof and didn’t ram him off the road like I would want to normally.

I took a deep breath and tried to pick up the toll booth change that went flying all over my front floor and that made me swerve and almost hit a construction worker. He was lucky. I was lucky too I guess because I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere at all if that happened.

All this tension kept building as I got to O’Hare’s remote parking structure. I was going to park at a discount lot but I had no time for that today. I did cruise the lot and say ‘Ok, I need my parking spot. Where is it?’ I got the best one I ever got and I was very grateful as if I didn’t I’d really have been in trouble then. I schlepped my bags up the escalator right in time to barely make the train which was packed like the O.J. courtroom scene this week. I stood next to a lady that had a bad mix of B.O. and old lady perfume and it made me want to gag right there. The train was way slow and I could feel my arteries harden right there.

When I got to the check in gate there were no machines so I had to wait again. Then the guy at the x-ray machine was having an argument with his co worker and neither spoke an identifiable language so all I could do was wait again until they were done with their spat.

My bladder was throbbing so I stopped to drain the lizard and of course all urinals were full of arthritic Amish with button up pants and an unscrewing catheter and nobody could seem to get their pantaloons off. I took a breath and refrained from making the comment I quite often would make in a situation like this. It was difficult but I kept my mouth shut.

I ended up making the plane by about two minutes. That was WAY too close but I kept on consciously focusing on being on the plane rather than being left in Chicago. My seat is usually in the back and today was no exception. I didn’t get to sit next to any sexy women and my flight attendant looked like she was a sparring partner in a lesbian UFC federation. She kept shoving my leg out of the way as she walked past and I wanted to kick her with it but again I didn’t. I was bulletproof and just sat there and laughed about it for a while.

The lady right in front of me kept knocking whatever I had on the tray table right out of my hand as she kept jerking her seat back and then jerking it forward a few minutes later. I had my computer fly into my lap so hard I thought I was going to get circumcised again.

I did manage to get at least some work done and by the time we hit Houston I was ready for a nap. I went through the drive thru at Whataburger which is a Texas treat. I love them and it’s one of the best fast food places in America along with In ’n Out Burger. I took my burger out in my rental car and got cut off again and it wound up in my lap and ruined my pants. That was the only pair of pants I brought so I stopped at the store to buy a nice pair for the shows this week. I was not angry and up until then I was holding out pretty good.

Then I had a challenge as the woman in front of me bought some handkerchiefs or some stupid thing and tried to pay ‘half cash, half check’. UGH. It took about twenty minutes to figure it out and the clerk was new and the woman couldn’t find her license and I sat there and stewed about it until I was almost ready to ball up my fist and club her like a baby seal until her pebble sized brain rolled out her ear hole and then I’d squash it like a water bug.

But I took some breaths and remembered how much I like Houston and that I had a nice Whataburger that tasted very good except for the shrapnel it left on my pants and I was ok for a few more minutes. But then she still couldn’t find her driver’s license and I bit my lip.

All this was enough for one day but it was just starting. The show tonight was one of the worst audiences I’ve seen in several years. They just were NOT into anything and I wasn’t the only one who had trouble but since I’m the headliner I had to suffer with it a lot longer than the other two. It was forty five minutes of trying to shut up a ganja smoking Jamaican woman who hadn’t learned manners apparently. She had such a thick accent I couldn’t get what she was saying and it was a nightmare from start to finish. This one was a total loss.

And to make it worse there was an unbelievably gorgeous twenty something woman that sat right in the front with no bra and it looked like two cantaloupes were trying to get out of the bag and I was hoping they would so I could get a finder’s fee. She was with an oily doofus who was all over her and halfway through my set they just got up and left. She was staring at me with disapproval until then. This was an ugly day I’d rather forget. I’m tired.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Batman Shirt

Wednesday September 19th, 2007 - Milwaukee, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Today was a day to tie up loose ends but I didn’t get around to much of what I intended to tie up. I slept longer than I wanted to because I got in so late but I still got up relatively early and started to work. I got a phone call at 8:30 from my friend Joey Callahan which is taboo between comedians but he’s a good guy so I didn’t razz him about it. Well, not hard anyway. He knew he was breaking an unwritten rule but he wanted to thank me for a pack of Notre Dame wear I sent him for his birthday. He loves Notre Dame and I was there last week in South Bend so I got him some stuff knowing he’d love it. He did and I feel good.

If I know somebody likes a certain thing I like to surprise them when I find a trinket I’d think they would enjoy. That goes back to my older brother when I was a kid. I tell jokes about being a little brother and I am one but my brother Larry is a kind soul. I pretend on stage that he was a weenie but in reality nothing could be further from the truth. OTHERS were mean to me so I know of what I’m talking about but as for my real brother he wasn’t mean at all. I wish we could have been closer growing up but he lived with my father and I was raised mostly by my grandparents. I saw him once in a while but not every single day.

I loved Batman when I was a kid and when I got my first junker car I painted it to look like the Batmobile complete with bat signals on the doors and everything. I was thought of as a wack job even back then but I didn’t really care. It was fun and I loved it and he knew I loved it and didn’t make fun of me at all. If nothing else in my life at least I’ve tried stuff.

One day we were walking through a flea market and there was a vintage Batman t-shirt which at the time was about the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I was about 16 or 17 and he is two years older. The shirt cost $10 and that was almost a full tank of gas back then if you can believe it. I was tight on cash and didn’t really need the shirt but I sure did like it a lot.

Right before we were going to leave he said ‘Hey, I have to go to the bathroom before we get in the car. I’ll be right back.’ He was gone a lot longer than I thought he should be to use the bathroom and I was impatient and wanted to leave. Just then he sauntered back.

I was going to let him have it for making me wait so long but then he pulled the Batman shirt out from behind his back and said ‘I know what it’s like to really want something and I know you wanted this shirt so here it is. NOW we can go home.’ My brother my hero.

That was my favorite article of clothing for years and if it hadn’t worn out from so many washings I’m sure I’d still have it today. The kindness it took to buy that for me was about as pure as it gets. He didn’t have any reason to do it other than he put himself in my shoes and guessed that I would enjoy having that shirt. His guess was right on and all these years later I still think of it fondly and hold my brother in high esteem. It doesn’t take a miracle.

The funny thing is I brought it up to him a few years ago and he didn’t even remember it at all. I told him it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me and he looked at me like I was nuts and shook his head and said ‘I think the only bats are in your belfry.’

I really miss my brother. I haven’t seen him in a few years and don’t know how to get in touch with him. The last time I heard he didn’t have a phone and was going through some life problems of his own. He went through a bad divorce from what I heard and we drifted apart over the years. I tried to stay in contact with him and he was always nice to me when I would see him but he was just never one to call me and stay in touch. I’m not sure why.

I think some of it had to do with my father. My father would bad mouth me to him and I know he didn’t enjoy being in the middle of it all. He always told me ‘I don’t want to have to choose between you or him so I’m staying out of it.’ I guess I can understand his point but it seems now like it was all a big waste of years we could have spent being brothers.

We haven’t seen each other in a few years now and I have no idea how to contact him at all. He doesn’t have email and he isn’t listed in the phone book so I am hoping to have the chance to see him again. Hopefully now that the old man is gone things can start to heal. It would really mean a lot to be able to sit down as a family and clear out the old ugly past.

The holidays are not that far away and I’m afraid of how this will all turn out. It’s been a sore spot for so many years that I don’t want to blow it now by saying the wrong thing or not saying what I was supposed to say or some other thing that starts hard feelings again.

Whatever happened was a long time ago and we’ve gone separate ways and lived apart. I am the one who was the drifter and chose to leave rather than stay in that cesspool mess. Now the one who was the leader is dead so I hope the sewer pipe can finally be shut off.

My younger half brother Bruce has been great in all of this since Darth Father’s passing. He has kept me updated and been willing to forget the past and start over and he has been fantastic. He gets it. I respect that and would love to see him in person but we haven’t had a chance to do that yet. I’m hoping it can be this year at the holidays but nothing is solid.

This is not going to be an easy process but at least there is still a chance of it happening. I didn’t get any resolution from my father and now I never will. My mother abandoned us when I was a baby and I’ve only seen her three or four times in my life. I don’t feel a need to see her at all and at this point she is dead to me. Any mother/son relationship is burned. I don’t even know where she is anyway or if she’s living or dead. It’s sad but I don’t care.

The reason I write about this stuff is not to look for sympathy or be a downer. I’m being real and letting out what’s bouncing around in my head. Other entertainers have stories to make my life look like Prince Harry’s and that’s what makes for a good entertainer. Pain.

We NEED that stage because it’s the only form of acceptance we ever get. It’s not pure love but it’s a methadone equivalent and the closest many of us will come to finding love. I know how much I appreciated my brother buying me a Batman t-shirt many years ago. If I can make someone else feel anywhere close to that by buying a Notre Dame jacket or by doing a comedy show then that’s what I’m going to spend the rest of my life doing. This is all that I want to do is keep making others feel good. To me that’s what life here is about.

More Manic Miles

Tuesday September 18th, 2007 - Milwaukee, WI/Chicago, IL/Lake Villa, IL

Another day of running around like a maniac. First it was up to Milwaukee for a lunch at Miss Katie’s Diner near Marquette University. Miss Katie’s is a local landmark and a place my friend Lynn Miner and I have met for lunch for years. Lynn is a lot of things. He took a comedy class when I first started teaching up at Cardinal Stritch College in 1993. He has a long white beard and is called Santa wherever he goes but he’s also a talented magician.

Not only that he is a master fund raiser for Marquette and was a professor there also. He is a mover and a shaker and one of my very favorite people on earth. He had a joke sheet a few years ago and sent it out to places and we teamed up on it for a while. We also taught a humor healing seminar at St. Michael Hospital in Milwaukee because both of us were an example of their lifesaving service. Lynn had a heart attack several years ago and was sent there and that’s where I went when I had my near fatal car accident in 1993. We did a full day seminar and it was received really well. Lynn is great but I hadn’t seen him in a while.

The guy who set up the lunch was Jim Peck. Jim is a major broadcasting talent who is an icon in Milwaukee. He worked for a local TV station doing news and then went to LA for a very successful network career hosting game shows and other things. I got to meet him a few years ago when I was a guest on his talk show on the PBS station in Milwaukee. He is a great host and extremely sharp and funny and was very gracious to have me on his show.

I contacted him about using a copy of that show for promotional purposes. I want to use that and a few other TV appearances I’ve made for a DVD which I can use to get work. It doesn’t hurt to have interview segments on it and his was great. Plus it’s a kick for me as I always thought he was smooth on the air and to have a TV icon interview me was a blast.

Going up to Miss Katie’s to have lunch with Jim Peck and Lynn Miner is something that I would squeeze into my schedule no matter how busy I was. They made time for me and I couldn’t and wouldn’t miss it. I got there early and they were already there. We all had the vegetarian chili which is the best I’ve ever had. Lynn turned me on to it years ago and I’m not even a vegetarian but this stuff is killer. We convinced Jim to try a bowl and he liked it too. Somebody recognized Jim and came over to talk to him and he was friendly and fun. I try to be like that too when I’m recognized but I’m sure he gets it a lot more than I do.

Both of them are involved in fundraising for Marquette and they were talking about how a guy just donated $51 million to the school. Wow. That blew my mind. How did he get a number like fifty ONE million? Wouldn’t fifty be enough? Earlier in the year someone else gave $30 million. They were thrilled with that one and then this guy ponies up $51 million. How do you pay it? Do you write a personal check? Cash? Show up with a wheel barrow?

I told them that my father died this year and didn’t leave any of his four kids one penny and now I’m hearing people are donating chunks like this to their university. I guess life is not fair and never will be and all I can do is enjoy my vegetarian chili with two people that I really like and respect. That’s what I did and it was well worth the drive to Milwaukee.

My main business of the day was in Chicago though. I headed back home for a short nap before driving downtown to Zanies to host the Lucky 21 Comedy Competition finals. I am glad I got to do it last year because there were a lot of really good comedians on the bill. I am not a big fan of competitions anyway for many reasons. This one was a packed lineup.

HBO is one of the sponsors and it’s a comedy festival in Las Vegas. 21 clubs chose their favorite comic last year and we got to showcase at Caesars Palace. I made it from Chicago because Zanies picked me and I’m glad they did. This year it’s a much more elaborate deal and it requires voting from the internet and all kinds of other things I’m not very good at.

There are a lot of ‘vote for me’ contests popping up and that can allow people who may not be the strongest comedians to get noticed if they can persuade enough other people to stuff the ballot box with votes. I always hated that kind of tactic but it does work. I do not feel comfortable with it myself though. I just want to do my show and have people like it.

That isn’t how the real world works though. The truth is there are a lot of talented folks who might never get seen and get that big break we all need. I pray I’m not one of them. I hosted the show tonight and watched all twelve comedians on the bill go up and nail a hot show one right after the next. It’s a six minute audition and they went up and killed just as they should have. They’re all touring road comics like me and if they can’t do a six minute set they should get out of the business. I did my best to give them a strong intro and make sure the audience was up and into it before I brought them up. That’s the least I could do.

Many times an emcee in that situation would try to weasel his way onto the tape and try to make an impression on the judges but since I already did the event last year I am totally on their radar and don’t have to impress them. All I had to do was keep the show moving and I know how to do that. It was actually a night off for me on stage. It was very easy.

The main thing that was good was hanging out after the show. Normally I’m just not the kind of person to hang at the bar and schmooze but in these kinds of situations it’s a smart thing to put in an appearance and shake a few hands. Deals can be made or at least have a seed planted in the hanging out time at the bar after a big showcase like this. I didn’t want to do it but I forced myself to hang out after the show. It was a good move and I had fun.

I knew many of the people on the show but not all so I got to meet them and talk about the business which is always good. Now I know some more people and those connections come back to help in the strangest places. I hung with the producer of the show and a few of the staff and it really was a lot of fun. I don’t drink but this wasn’t a drunk fest at all. It was just some good people hanging out and talking and it was a good move to show up.

The bad part was driving all the way back to Lake Villa at 2am. I was totally sober but I was tired and didn’t feel like driving at all. It was a small price to pay for being able to get to host this show though. I am glad they asked me to and on a social intercourse level this was a day that could pay off nicely in the future. This is yet another part of the business of comedy that has NOTHING to do with how funny anybody is. I’m learning to work it.

Too Much Going On

Monday September 17th, 2007 - Chicago, IL/Lake Villa, IL

Another manic Monday. They’re getting busier and busier but I love it because Mondays are usually dead for most comedians. It’s the day when we’ve finished a week of work and get to hang out and relax and catch up on sleep and mail and laundry and get ready for our next week of work wherever it may be. Then we pack our bags on Tuesday or Wednesday and it’s out on the road all over again. That’s the grind of the business and it can get really difficult after several weeks of it in a row. Those weeks add up over the years and the best treat of all is just hanging out in one place for a while and not having to be anywhere else.

That wasn’t the case today. I had lots of people to see today and I was up early getting a head start on it. Living out in the hinterlands changes my whole schedule around so I want to find a new place to live. This was a noble experiment but the longer I live here the more I realize I made a mistake. It’s ok if I’m on the road and I will be this week but working in Chicago is very difficult. To make it even worse the Edens Expressway (I-94) is scheduled to be ripped up in the next little while for repaving and that will make it go from bad to the worst of the worst. Not only will I be far away I’ll be stuck in hellacious construction too.

I did have an odd option pop up today. I have a friend up in Milwaukee who is leaving a two bedroom mobile home to take a job out west. He said if I wanted to move in there we might be able to help each other out. He’s got a $1000 deposit that he would lose if he left without giving the 60 day notice required on the lease. If I moved in I would just use what he put down and when I move out I would send him his money back. It’s cheap rent and it is in a very good location in a quiet neighborhood. I’ve been there several times and I have no problem with living in a trailer. This one is very nice. It’s not a hillbilly hangout at all.

The main problem I have is moving back to Milwaukee. I said I’d never ever move back there and this is proof I should never say never. It’s a month to month deal just like where I am now. It’s a two bedroom place with a washer and dryer and my friend would leave all of his furniture so he wouldn’t have to move it or sell it. Whether I bought it eventually or just used it for a while and gave it back to him or whatever way it works out would not be bad for me at all. I’d be helping him out too and if his job didn’t work out I’d move again and let him move back in. No harm done at all. I’m not thrilled about moving but I’d do it.

Living on the cheap is my main goal right now. I don’t know how many more years I am going to be out on the road so I might as well do as much of it as I can before I have to be fed pudding in my bed at the home. Earning money on the road just to have to turn around and give it to a landlord is frustrating. If I live like a cockroach and am only home a couple of days a month what difference does it make if it’s a trailer or not or Milwaukee or not?

It really doesn’t matter at all. I would focus on being out as much as I could but I would still have a place to relax for a couple of days when I would be in the area. That’s what the deal was supposed to be here in Lake Villa but I’m so far from the freeway where I am it’s ridiculous. There are no stores or restaurants and I feel like I’m living in a rural nightmare. Milwaukee might not be the answer either but for now it would be a place to hang my hat.

I had lunch with my friend Marc Schultz today as I do frequently. He is just a fun guy to hang out with because we have so many things in common to talk about. Sports was what came up today and we both agreed that it doesn’t look good for O.J. What an idiot he is. I wonder how people like him get every break in the world and still manage to screw it up.

He’s an NFL hall of famer, gotten to make movies and can get paid for signing his name at a card show. He even beat a murder rap and yet he still manages to get into trouble. I’m 44 and thinking about living in a mobile home. But would I trade places with him? Nope.

After lunch with Marc I checked out a couple of apartments near his house in Niles. The location would be fantastic because it’s near 94, 294 and O’Hare airport. I would love that and it would save me a lot of wasted time. Even when I lived in the city before I was quite far from any freeway and most of my time was spent fighting ugly city traffic to get there.

I looked at one place and it was $850 for a one bedroom. There was no carpeting and it looked like a hospital room. It didn’t feel right and the price was higher than what I would like to pay so I thanked the manager and left. This might be a challenge after all. I thought I’d just find a place and be able to move in next month but it looks like I’ll have to hunt.

We had a Chicago Style Standups meeting at 4 o’clock at the Boston Market on North Avenue near Zanies. I love being part of the group but I don’t know if all the guys are on the same page about taking the concept to a higher level. I am too busy with my own stuff to make it an issue but it seems like it’s just going to be a hobby fun thing. That’s fine and I will enjoy hanging out with the guys but as far as career advancement that’s up to me.

After the meeting I taught a class with Bill Gorgo. He was there for the meeting too and it worked out perfectly. I like this group of students and we had a fun class. This particular lesson talked about joke writing and we had the group write some O.J. jokes. So at least it will do some good that he’s back in the news. Comedy writers will get a shot in the arm.

After class I went right back to the Boston Market to meet with a former student named John O’Brien. John is a very good person and a student of comedy. He’s a few years older than me and has a family but now his daughters are both out of the house so he can pursue comedy and hang out and do stage time. He loves it and age doesn’t matter so that’s ok.

The show after that was not that great. I thought the audience was a little tight and it did not have the pop that most other Mondays do. I was tired from my long day and it just felt like everything was a little bit off for whatever reason. I’ve done better and I knew it but it didn’t matter to any of the audience. They had no clue and I just smiled and did my best.

This was a packed full day and I shook a lot of hands and kissed a lot of babies. I was all over the place doing a lot of things and then I had a long drive back to Lake Villa and saw that my emails are piling up again and I have no time to answer them right now. That’s the way they piled up before and the cycle is starting all over again. What can I do? Time is an inflexible resource and I can only do my best with the amount I get. Tomorrow’s busy too.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Power Pack

Sunday September 16th, 2007 - Lake Villa, IL

My addiction continues and today I got another fix. The Green Bay Packers won and all is right with my world. All is not right with THE world, but mine is pretty good today. It’s stupid and I know it but I really do feel good when they win. I feel especially good that the game was a blowout and now they’re 2-0. I know I am in for a slap when they lose but for now things are quite peachy. They won their final four games last year to close out a weak season. They look way better this year and they’re starting to make some positive noise.

None of this matters in the scope of things in the real world and I know it but I still have a broad inner grin knowing a bunch of millionaires I’ll never meet won a televised contest with other bunch of millionaires who happen to live in New York. My bunch just happens to work in the same state where I grew up but that’s about all we would have in common.

There’s something magic about seeing that ‘G’ on the helmets and I am right back in my childhood in the ’70s watching them get pounded every week and feeling emasculated. If I would have spent as much time studying business administration as I did rotting in front of a black and white TV in my grandparents’ basement watching Packer games every Sunday in the fall I would probably be financially secure today and not running around the country like a gypsy trying to shake a few sheckles out of the local comedy club owner. I’d be set.

I’m sure Timothy Leary’s life would have been different too if he hadn’t have licked that first hit of LSD. He’d have been boring and a non entity and I wouldn’t be thinking of him as a reference of someone who is over the edge and walking the line. Too late now. He’s a marked man. I am too. I wish I never would have licked the first hit of Packer acid but I’m hooked for life. I wish the season could end now so I could have my nerves back but I will not be that lucky. There are 14 games to go and then hopefully the playoffs. PLAYOFFS?

I was driving back from Toledo and didn’t get to watch the game but I got updates from all kinds of people both Packer fans and not. Bears fans wanted the Packers not only to be defeated in a football game, they were hoping for another 9/11 that would have wiped out the stadium during the game. Brett Favre has destroyed the Bears over his career the same way Walter Payton mopped up the floor with the Packers. These are lifetime memories for us but I know it doesn’t mean a thing in most of the rest of America and NO other places.

I highly doubt the people of Uruguay or Guatemala got to see even one play of the game today and their lives are not any worse off for it. They’re still living in mud huts eating bug stew and drinking rain water. And that’s Christmas dinner. A bratwurst would probably be disgusting to them and if they did eat one they’d probably use yellow mustard and pick off the sauerkraut before they ate it. Savages. Some people in this world are still uncivilized.

As for me, I enjoyed my ride back from a great week in Toledo. I took US 20 and had a low pressure cruise through the back roads of America in the Cougar. It still runs without a glitch and I have gotten my money’s worth and then some out of it. I love that silver tin can. Next week it could blow up and the Packers could lose but today all is on the good.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Saturday Satisfaction

Saturday September 15th, 2007 - Toledo, OH

Did Mick Jagger ever get the satisfaction he was singing about for all those years? I sure got a little piece of it in Toledo this week. Shows went very well and there weren’t any off stage issues or drama with the staff or any of that draining petty politics that can knock all the fun out of the time on stage. This week went like it’s supposed to go and I’m satisfied.

The middle act this week was a guy I’ve worked with many times before. Donnell Berry is his name and he’s from Detroit. He’s probably been doing comedy even longer than me but he had a good paying job and a family and he never took it on the road full time. He’s very professional and it’s always a pleasure to follow someone competent because I know he can handle himself in difficult situations. He did a super job this week without a glitch.

The staff at the club is very friendly and they’re not overly jaded like some staffs can get nor coke sniffing booze hags that could out party Van Halen and Led Zeppelin combined. It’s a perfect mix for me and I could tell they liked me too. I am very attuned to making an effort at acknowledging the staff both onstage and off and not every comedian does that.

It’s not all that difficult. Telling the audience to leave a tip during each show is not hard at all and off stage I tip them too whenever I get a drink, even a water. I try to stay out of everyone’s way and always make a point of asking when I need to be off stage. That’s the main thing after getting tips is to get off stage on time. I am very good at nailing it right to the minute and I did it every show this week except one. I could tell they loved me for it.

The show I went over by five minutes was the first show tonight. WOW what a fantastic energy they had. I have to admit I went long just so I could squeeze every last little bubble of laughter out of them. Last night’s early show I was off a little but not tonight. It started strong and got stronger and by the end I’d stomped them like Godzilla stomped Tokyo.

It was one of those nights when it was firing on all cylinders and I finally know what to do after all these years of experience when that happens - ENJOY IT. I didn’t try to rush anything and I let it come to me in the moment. I did some ad libs and act outs and let the vibe flow right through me. I don’t know where it comes from but it does and I let it pass through me out into the audience. It’s a higher level and when I’m in that zone I don’t try to control it like I used to. It’s almost like an out of body experience and it’s exhilarating.

The late show looked like it could have gotten out of hand with some drunken football fans but I held my ground and established dominance early and they backed down. I had a very strong set and that was probably just as satisfying as the early one because it seemed like it was going to be a lost cause when I got on. Pulling it out of the sewer and closing it as strongly as I did made me feel like I gave the audience their money’s worth and I did.

This whole week was very pleasurable. I got tons of work done off stage and kicked ass on it. I worked with nice people, the weather was perfect and my hotel was clean and dry and not full of greasy bikers or screaming babies. I wonder how Mick Jagger‘s week was?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Holy Toledo

Wednesday September 12th, 2007 - Toledo, OH

I’m feeling pretty good lately and today was a laid back easygoing day. I got up early and got started on my trip to Toledo to have lunch with Mark Knope. He’s a comedian that moved here from the Detroit area because it was cheaper to buy a house here. I can understand why he did it because as a road comic ‘home’ is just another town no matter where it may be and even if it’s a good place we never get to spend much time there.

I read where David Copperfield the magician doesn’t even have a home. He keeps his magic props at a storage warehouse in Las Vegas but he lives on the road in hotels. That probably sounds odd to most regular people but I don’t think it does at all. I like the idea and if I could arrange gigs that kept me in places for chunks of time I would be doing the same thing too. Two or three weeks in a single place and then moving on is about right.

I have never seen a comedy gig work like that though. At most it’s a week at a time and then it’s time to go somewhere else. There is a club in Boise, ID and when they started out they booked comedians for two weeks just because it was so difficult to get to for most of them. I never worked there but I always thought the two weeks was a good idea. I still do.

I would love to do it that way if I could be a draw in places. That would be really smart business in my opinion because word would get out and people would want to send others to check out the show. In theory I’d think the second week should be better than the first.

It would give a chance to be on lots of media and get some momentum going for business.
James Gregory is a comedian based out of Atlanta and is HUGE in the southeast. He’s a legend in that part of the country and doesn’t work anywhere else. He doesn’t have to. He has cultivated a rabid following where he is and he often works two weeks at a club for all the reasons I just mentioned. He does extremely well and I respect his marketing savvy.

I met James at a television taping in Nashville a couple of years ago and we talked for an hour about marketing as a comedian. Actually HE talked for an hour about it. I listened to him and took copious notes. He scolded me for not having more merchandise and I took it to heart when he said it. He started selling cassettes and t-shirts long before anyone else in comedy and he has a huge house in Atlanta to show for it. He’s got the machine working.

I’d love to be the James Gregory of the rust belt. That’s where I do the best anyway. I’ll do ok everywhere but give me towns like a Toledo or a Buffalo or a Chicago or any other Midwestern town that ends in ‘o’ and I’m a force to be reckoned with. I’m in my element and can destroy in those places. If people would come out especially to see me I could do even better. Being in a place two weeks would allow word to get out and it could happen.

For now that’s not how it works though. I’m only here in Toledo for a week. It’s really only four days but in comedy that’s called a week. I like the staff here and they put us up a mile away in a Red Roof Inn so it’s close and not a flea bag so everything is very laid back this week. There is no radio or TV to do and I pretty much have all four days to myself.

This is the same Red Roof Inn I was holed up in last year when I watched ‘The Secret’. It changed my life and I still think it’s great. It’s been getting a lot of harsh criticism but it really does have a lot of truths that are universal. The Bible talks about it the same things as do most motivational speakers and philosophers. The basic message is ‘What a person thinks about the most will be what becomes a reality in real life’. However it gets switched around doesn’t matter. That’s the main message and I think it is absolutely 100% true.

The problem is always thinking about good things. Human nature is delicate and it’s not always easy to keep thinking good thoughts especially when our world is crumbling before our eyes. That’s when positive thinking is needed the most but is the hardest thing to have. For whatever reason I seem to get in a good mental space when I’m in Toledo. I am again.

My friend Will C. called today and he is having a speed bump on his mental highway. He told me about a glitch he had recently and was feeling down about it. I’ve been there and I could absolutely relate to where he was and I listened and offered a few suggestions. I had a few lines that made him laugh and I could tell on the phone he was feeling better about it and I’m always thrilled to be able to do that. I know how much it helps me so if I can do it for someone else I’m thrilled. Will is a dented can and I am right there with him in spirit.

After we were done talking he told me he wished I was his real big brother so we would have had each other to lean on when we were growing up. That was very flattering to hear and I know he meant it. We’re both cut from the same cloth and it takes one to know one.

My old radio partner Max is the same way. He called not long after Will and he was in a funk too. He is still bummed about us not getting the Loop job and I can totally relate. I’m not thrilled we didn’t get it either but that’s how it goes. I could relate to every word Max said and we talked for quite a while. A couple of weeks ago I was the one on the ledge but he gave me the Lucinda Bassett tape series and helped turn me around. Today is my turn.

I’m pretty good at being the one to cheer others up when they’re scraping pavement but when I’m in the dumper myself it feels mighty low. Maybe I need to know that feeling so I can be of help to those who call me at their low points. It’s an expensive price to pay but if I can use it for good I will do exactly that. Will and Max were both flying low today and it was me they called to talk it through. That’s an honor and I know exactly how they feel.

It’s much better to be on my end of the phone today than theirs. I’ve made enough calls from the other side to know how that feels. Today I was bullet proof and that’s how I like it. When that feeling hits nothing can touch me and I want to stay in this groove forever.

The club uses an improv troupe on Wednesdays so tonight was like a night off. They do an hour show and I had to close with 30 minutes. The audience was great and I rocked the house for the short set. I got off stage exactly on time to the minute and that thrilled all of the staff which is never a bad thing. Comedians going too long is a pet peeve with the staff at most clubs and they’ll love you if you can get off stage on time even if you’re not funny. They want to go home and I get the mindset. For once I think I did please everyone today.

Happy Half Birthday

Friday September 14th, 2007 - Toledo, OH

Today is my half birthday. I didn’t go out for cake and ice cream and I didn’t tell anyone else about it. I am halfway to being 45 and my youth is leaking away fast. The cement of it is drying and all that happened both good and bad is fading into memory and I am working at finishing life’s marathon with a strong kick at the end for however long it is to the finish line. I don’t even know who I am up against other than myself and trying to give my best.

I spent the entire day in my hotel room banging out new paperwork for comedy classes. I’ve worked and reworked it time and time again but I can start to see it come together. I have the best edition I’ve ever had by far and it’s almost ready to expand into a full book.

It was not easy to get to this point but I did and I’m very happy with it how it ended up turning out. It’s been inch by inch for many years now and I can finally start to see results. One thing I never did was give up on comedy or teaching classes. I moved all over trying to make radio work but even when I had to be up at 4am or earlier to go to work I was in the clubs the night before working on my standup skills. I hope I can now make it pay off.

I put in about twelve full hours of getting everything exactly how I wanted it so I won’t have to tweak it for a while. I can just have copies made of the sheets and be ready for any class in under an hour. I cleaned out my archives and erased all the old stuff so this edition is the only one. I’ve been meaning to do this for many months and it felt great to finish it.

I also took a nice brisk walk to get a cheap Chinese lunch at a restaurant that was not an all you can eat buffet. You don’t see just a regular Chinese restaurant so much anymore so I decided to give them some business. I was the only one in there for most of my meal and it was around lunch time so I wondered how they stayed open. Maybe it was a front for an international organized crime ring. Or maybe it was just a kind of halfway ok Chinese joint in a strip mall in Toledo that nobody has a desire to patronize on Friday at lunch time. The food was not great but not horrible and it was pretty cheap so I thanked the lady and left.

Getting exercise felt good and I didn’t drink any soda today either. I stretched before the show and was loose when I left the hotel. I had been sitting and working so long that I felt a little cramped up but the walking and stretching and hot shower recharged my batteries.

Tonight at the club was about as opposite as two shows could get. The first show was a pleasure from start to finish. They were explosive laughers and I could feel it right away. I tried some new material and was very loose and I flubbed a couple of lines but still did not lose them. They were right there the whole show and I felt bad that I was off a little. I had not prepared for the show because I was too busy working on my class stuff. Mistake. I’m not going to do that again because I felt I could have done even better if I’d have focused.

The late show was all over the place. There were drunks and cell phones and even a man who proposed to his girlfriend right before I was brought up. It was awkward and I hadn’t heard it was happening until right before it did. I am shaking this one off and moving on.