Friday, December 31, 2010

The Old Switcheroo

Thursday December 30th, 2010 - Belize City, Belize

   The old switcheroo. Today I signed off one ship and got right back on another, and it’s all starting to blend together and look the same. I don’t know what day it is, what port it is or what ship I’m on - and I don’t even drink. Keeping track of everything is impossible.

   Belize is different from other places like Grand Cayman or Cozumel in that ships can’t pull right up to a dock. The water is very shallow so they have to drop anchor out a ways and we take tender boats back and forth. It’s about a fifteen minute ride depending on the person operating the tender boat, and they come in various sizes and can ride quite rough.

   Today the guy had ants in his pants and had his boat on full blast the whole way over to Belize and I thought we were going to flip the damn thing over. It wasn’t a big boat at all, and the way he had it cranked up I thought for sure we were all going to perish violently.

   Getting back and forth to work shouldn’t involve fear and the administering of last rites. We must have made it in what seemed like world record time, and I was glad to have the chance to be able to walk away in one piece. The ‘captain’ had a couple of gold teeth and some long dreadlocks, and nobody ever asked to see his license or operating credentials.

   I got off that tender boat and had to go to the customs office and drop off my paperwork and then get right back on another one to get to my new ship which was anchored not that far from the one I got off. There were also other cruise ships from other lines there, and it looked like a used ship lot. I arrived on my new ship, signed in and headed for my cabin.

   As soon as I opened the door I knew I had just been here a couple of weeks ago. There’s a desk with an office chair that’s as uncomfortable as I’ve ever sat in. Also, there are a set of bunk beds and I can’t sit up in the bottom without smashing my coconut hard on top.

   Also, the cable TV setup is slightly different on this ship. Here I happen to get the CNN Headline News Channel and TCM and it makes a huge difference. Sometimes it feels like I lose track with home, and having CNN keeps me informed. Plus, they have one hot babe after another from Robin Meade to Susan Hendricks to Virginia Cha to make it palatable.

   If I’m going to have to hear about death and destruction, I’d rather hear it from a red hot mama than some Wolf Blitzer wannabe in a cheap suit. Those women are spectacular and I wonder where they find them all? There have to be SOME ugly ones in anchor school.

   We didn’t have any shows tonight, and I was kind of surprised. Tomorrow will be a big night for New Year’s Eve, and then we work the following night also. I’m working with a guy named Hal ‘Chickie’ Spear I met years ago in L.A. at the Gene Perret Round Table.

   Hal is a long time veteran and has written on staff for Arsenio Hall, Howie Mandel and a whole lot more. He’s a comedy lifer, and we hit it off great. I’ll learn from him and it’s good to reconnect. He’s been on the ships for a few years now. This will be a good week.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Seafood Heaven

Wednesday December 29th, 2010 - Roatan, Honduras

   Quite often I’ll work way harder on my days off than I do when I’m actually working. I did exactly that today, but still found time to have some fun in the sun. The weather here in Honduras is picture perfect, and with everyone stuck in snow back home, I savored it.

   Nothing stimulates high quality creative thinking like a brisk walk in the sunshine while  my skull bakes the kinks and glitches out of my schemes. The blood pumps and the sweat flows, and I’m free to let my imagination wander to Uranus and beyond. It‘s invigorating.

   Today was the first time I did any wandering at this port. There’s a fantastic beach here, even though I’m not a huge beach person. It’s stunning to look at from above, and there’s a ski lift sky glider type ride that ship employees get to ride for free so that‘s what I did.

   It couldn’t have been a better day to do it. The scenery was spectacular, and I sat back to relax and let the ideas flow. I’ve got all kinds of irons in all kinds of fires, but the biggest thing I need is organization. If I don’t get myself a plan of action, none of it will ever fly.

   That’s not good or bad, it just is. I’ve spent years farting around with all kinds of things that have been all over the board. If I keep doing what I’ve been doing, I’ll eventually run out of gas and not have gone anywhere. Journeys don’t go in circles, but that’s what I did.

   I have a heaping helping of life’s hard earned experience on my plate, and I can use that as currency to advance myself to where I want to go. I’m actually not all that far from that place, and it’s very exciting. I’ve got all the ingredients, now I have to let the cake bake.

   Some things I’ve done off and on and half ass, and I’ve seen results. If I can reboot a bit and make some relatively minor adjustments, I think my quality of life will skyrocket in a very short period of time. I’m excited about 2011, because I’m hoping for some breaks.

   One thing I caught a break with was someone telling me about a seafood restaurant here called Gio’s. WOW. I can’t remember having a better meal for a better price anywhere on the planet at anytime. This is where most of the seafood shipped to the States is caught.

  The meal I had today was world class. I had a giant crab, two lobster tails and shrimp, all for about $30. They served Coke in the glass bottles and the dining room was a deck right out over the Gulf of Mexico. A more perfect setting could not be imagined. It was stellar.

   The salad dressing was homemade, fresh and delicious, and there was an exotic looking deeply tanned sexpot with an amazing pair of fresh ripe massive mangoes that were trying to escape from her halter top sitting right across from me. I would have paid to see those.

   The cab ride there and back was $20, but it was very educational. We passed all parts of town, from the gold coast to the gutter and I got to see how both sides live. It was typical of the countries I’ve seen in the region and once again it reminded me how good I have it.

   The cab driver was my age, and was going to wait for me while I ate. I invited him in to share the meal, and there was plenty there for both of us and still some left over. He loved every bite, and we had a great conversation. He filled me in on a lot of the country’s facts.

       Here’s a poor bastard my age driving a ratty cab to feed his five kids. He said I was his first fare of the day and I believe him. The economy has been hit pretty hard down around these parts, and business is down for everyone. I could tell the guy was grateful for work.

   He told me his father sired thirty-two kids. Yeowza. THIRTY-TWO! Granted, it wasn’t all with one woman, but that’s a pretty lofty number. What did he do, play in the NBA? It blew my mind when he told me that, but he swore it’s true. He said his father died several years ago as did his mother. He’s out there slugging it out trying to feed his own family.

   Buying the guy lunch was the least I could do. Actually, all I did was share the giant one I already had. That’s the way to live this life, and we both had a fabulous meal and I got a chance to learn about Honduras while I sat there soaking in all kinds of gorgeous scenery.

   We both rode home in his cab stuffed, and I managed to make it back to the ship with a half hour to spare. I knew I was cutting it close, but this was worth it. I’d definitely return, but next time I’ll try to find others to bring along. It’s too special of a place to go alone.

   This really has been a groundbreaking year. I worked cruise ships for the very first time and got to see a whole lot of sexy places I’d only heard about and others I hadn’t. I never heard of Roatan, Honduras before this year, and I’m usually pretty good with geography.

   I checked my email when I got back to my cabin and was pleasantly surprised to learn I have more bookings into the new year. I hadn’t heard from the booker and had no idea if I would be asked back or not. I could have lived with getting torched, but it’s nice to have a chance to keep the money flowing into 2011. I’m thrilled to have a chance to come back.

   Actually, I’ll be on some ships I haven’t done before. That’s always an adventure, but it doesn’t intimidate me at all at this point. At first, the whole thing was overwhelming, but now its just another ship. I know what to expect and I’ll go there and give them my best.

   The money is much appreciated, but this is never going to be the end all, be all of what I do. I’m hoping we can work out a nice arrangement where I can pick out the weeks I want each year, and make it a win/win. Even if I do, I’m not going to let my land contacts fade.

   In fact, I need to make more of them. Lots more. I am painfully lacking in the business side of show business and I’m going to do something about it. I could blame it on my ex business partner for a while, because he did my marketing. But that was long ago now.

   Even he didn’t take it to the level it needed to be. I know I can improve tenfold on this and it’s got to be a huge part of my focus for 2011. I’m funny enough, now I have to sell myself for real money rather than work for two bit road twits. I’ve earned my stripes.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Showbiz Isn't Easy

Tuesday December 28th, 2010 - Still Out There Somewhere

   The longer I’m in this business, the less I know. Just when I think I’ve figured it all out, a night like tonight comes along and wipes everything clean. I feel like a worker ant after some kid smears the ant hill that took so much work to create from scratch. The only real choice is to keep working and start all over. Tonight I felt like a rookie starting all over.

   Once again, there are rough waters out here in the Caribbean and we couldn’t stop at the port in Grand Cayman Island to pick up Marcus Anthony, the talented singer who does an outstanding Motown tribute show. It was nobody’s fault, but the passengers wanted to see a show. They missed the song and dance revue opening night, and now they missed this.

   The cruise director is a very nice guy from Scotland named Wee Jimmy. He’s in an ugly situation because he’s got pissed off passengers who want entertainment. The dancers had the first night off because of the weather. Jimmy asked Thomas Brown and me if we’d do a comedy show in the big theater and of course we said yes, even though we had a choice.

   Thomas has been around the ships for years, and he said technically doing the shows in the big room wasn’t in our contracted agreement. In the end, we’d each end up doing one extra show we weren’t going to be paid for, and by all rights we each could have refused.

   Both of us are good guys, and try to help out in a pinch. Jimmy was in a pinch and I’ve been in situations like that myself so I wouldn’t think of turning him down. Thomas also said yes, just as we did a couple of weeks ago when this same situation came up. We did Jimmy a favor because the situation called for it, and deep down we knew it was right.

     Jimmy was grateful and said he’d put us in his performance report as going above and beyond the call in a pinch. Hopefully that will get noticed by the office, but who knows? We did it because we’re professionals, and the situation called for it. Still, it wasn’t easy.

   The audience for the first show was completely stiff. They weren’t expecting comedians and I had all I could do to milk whatever laughs I could out of them in twelve minutes. If I hadn’t been so experienced, I might have dropped the mike and walked off stage, but if I say I’m going to do something, I do try to make good on the promise. This was a struggle.

   Some of these people had seen my welcome aboard show, and others had seen any one of the three shows I did last night in the comedy club. I had to skirt around my main bits and try to pull something out of thin air. That’s not the right way to do it and I know that. I felt like I was all over the place and I never felt like I got a good roll going. I hate that.

   I want to give all audiences my very best, but this is completely different than comedy club work. In comedy clubs, I’ll rarely if ever have to do more than 45-50 minutes for the typical audience. Sometimes I’ll like them and go longer on my own, but that’s my call. If I want to give them more, I’ll read the situation and make the choice as I’m on stage. This is a different scenario altogether, and I’m still trying to find the way to nail it consistently.

     One thing this experience is making me do is increase my material. It’s not just a matter of going on stage and talking about any subject at random. Far from it, even though most people would never guess. They think we just go up there and wing it from start to finish.

   Just last night I had a goof come up about two minutes before the show and say “In case you need any material, my brother-in-law owns a hardware store. He’s sitting with us and you can feel free to rip him a new one if you want. Here’s some dirt on his family too…”

   Why would I or anyone else want to “rip someone a new one” just because he happened to own his own business? I waved the guy off, and I could see he was rather disappointed, but even if I wanted to I couldn’t just start ripping the guy off the top of my head. Nobody can do that. It takes time and effort to polish standup comedy material, and it always has.

     The problem some comedians fall into, myself included, is that there’s no real schedule as to when new material should be written. If we polish something that works, why not do it as long as it keeps working? Vaudeville acts used to do the same act for 40 or 50 years.

   As far as most club comics go, I have a TON of material. I like to switch things around, add and subtract and basically my act is always a work in progress. Then I get out here on the ships and find out I could use scads more polished material to haul out on nights like tonight when I don’t know who’s seen me and who hasn’t. I’ve got a lot more work to do.

   These people don’t need complex cutting edge standup comedy material. They aren’t as demanding as a comedy club audience or say a talent booker for a TV show. These people are from all walks of life, just average folks. They want simple material about subjects the average person talks about - men vs. women, what’s on TV, celebrities, nothing too deep.

   Writing simple jokes about common subjects that make the masses laugh is not close to being easy, especially making it last for thirty minutes. I’ve got a lot of work to do writing JOKES, but first I have to come up with subjects that the average person can relate to. It’s not that easy, especially with the wacked out life I’ve lived. I’ve got my hands quite full.

   I need five to ten minute chunks of material about things that will appeal to the married crowd, as that’s mostly who comes on a cruise. I could use more stuff both kids and older people can relate to as well. After tonight, I feel like I’m going back to the drawing board.

   This was a major challenge, and I don’t like the results I had tonight. I didn’t embarrass myself, but I know in my heart there’s room for improvement. And that’s onstage. I have a lot more weaknesses offstage, and that’s another area that needs major improvement for 2011. Like I said, just when I thought I’m figuring it all out, I realize I’m nowhere close.

     It made me feel better to come back to my cabin and see Jerry Seinfeld as a guest on the David Letterman show. He did a standup segment and after all these years he’s still doing what I’m doing. He’s a lifer, as am I. I respect him for not resting on his laurels, he’s back out there working on new bits just like me as part of the craft. I’ve got improving to do.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Monday, December 27, 2010

Quarterbacks With Class

Monday December 27th, 2010 - Somewhere At Sea

   One of the downsides of being on cruise ships is not getting to stay in touch with what’s going on back home. Internet is beyond slow and ridiculously expensive, and I only check important emails. Things that can wait, do. Television is limited too. There are only a few channels, most of them Spanish. There’s no ESPN, and that’s hell for sports fans like me.

   There is a Spanish version, but I couldn’t care less about Venezuela’s chances in the big soccer game next week. We do get local stations from Denver of all places, and there is a Fox and CBS station so I can get NFL football on Sundays. That’s been a total life saver.

   Fortunately, I’ve gotten to enjoy quite a few Green Bay Packer games this season. Last week I missed it because the Denver Broncos game was on, and I had to sit through that even though the team is terrible and they’re way out of the playoff run. I had no choice.

   I love football and actually enjoyed the Broncos game because Tim Tebow got his shot to start a game at home. There’s something intangible about that guy that’s magnetic, and I find myself cheering for him to succeed. I know he’s a big God squad guy, but he keeps it under control and handles himself very well. He’s an underdog, but keeps overcoming.

   Even though he broke all kinds of records in college, most people said he’d be horrible in the pros. Nobody thought he’d be drafted at all much less in the first round but he was. Then people said he’d never be a starter, and now he is. I was happy for his team’s win.

   Normally, God squad athletes repulse me. They thank God when hey win, but who’s to blame when they lose or blow an important play? Something about Tim Tebow earns my total respect. I like the guy when he’s interviewed, and I thought he played a super game on Sunday and deserved to win. Those kind of stories are what sports and life are about.

   Another one is Aaron Rodgers of my beloved Packers. That guy had it about as difficult as anyone in history coming out of college into the pros. First, he dropped like lead in the draft order and wasn’t drafted until late in the first round. He was projected to be up at the very top but it didn’t work out that way. He never bitched, and that showed a lot of class.

  Then he got to Green Bay and had to play behind Brett Favre for a couple of seasons and that probably wasn’t a lot of fun either. When the whole Favre powder keg did explode, it could have gotten extremely ugly but it didn’t. Rodgers showed up and didn’t put himself in the line of fire and just went about his work. Now, he’s one of the top QBs in the NFL.

   How can a fan not cheer for a guy like that? Favre had the fans by the tail, but he blew it with his selfishness. Hopefully Rodgers will keep doing what he’s doing, because the way I see it Favre is ancient history. He was great in his day, but it ended poorly. He’s history.

   Aaron Rodgers is the man now, and I’m proud to cheer for him. He’s a great player and a classy person. Tim Tebow is too. Hopefully not all of the nice guys have to finish last.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Hanging With The Hangman

Sunday December 26th, 2010 - Tampa, FL

   Holiday over, back to work. These cruise ship people don’t mess around. We’re back in port for a few hours while they clean the ship and bring on a new load of passengers, then it’s right back out to sea again. It’s like a giant NASCAR crew the way they do it so fast.

   I have the option of getting off the ship or not while it’s being cleaned, and today I took advantage of it. There’s a fantastic aquarium right across the street and admission is half price for cruise ship employees. I’d been meaning to check it out and today was the day.

   What a fantastic attraction. I’d have gotten a bargain at full price. There were all kinds of tanks filled with odd sea creatures and shows featuring interesting facts about animals of all kinds. Places like this are what makes life on the road worthwhile. I’m glad I went.

   I also had a chance to hang out for a couple of hours and watch some football with my old professional wrestler friend from Milwaukee Mike Moran, aka The Texas Hangman. I’ve known Mike forever, and he moved to Tampa about ten years ago. I hadn’t seen him in a while, and it worked out he was available today. It was great to catch up with him.

     It’s funny how he came up with his wrestling name. He’d never been to Texas in his life but he didn’t think ‘Wisconsin Hangman’ sounded mean enough. Rhode Island Hangman would sound almost sissified. If one is to be called a Hangman, Texas is the ideal home.

   Across the street from the aquarium and right next to where the ship docks is a complex with some movie theatres, shops, bars and restaurants. There’s a Hooters there and what’s better on a Sunday afternoon than a plate of wings, NFL football and chicks in hot pants?

   Mike’s doing really well down here and still wrestles once in a while for fun. He has his own appraisal business and is always busy. He’s fit and tan and in great shape. We agreed both of us needed to leave Milwaukee, and we’re glad we did. But - it’ll always be home.

   It’s funny how those home roots grow so deep - especially in Milwaukee. We could live away from it for years and years, but in two seconds we’re right back again, talking about things we did years ago. That’s why I think the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show will have such a devoted following. Milwaukee has an undeniable identity, warts and all, and we lived it.

   We were two wide eyed punk kids from Milwaukee with enormous dreams, and both of us went out and chased them. Maybe we didn’t become huge stars, but we sure did better than 99.999% of anyone else who didn’t have the guts to try. Mike has slugged it out like I have, and I totally respect him. Both of us hung in there when times got the toughest.

   Now we’re getting older, and it was fun to look back at our lives. We’re both a lot more mature, as age adds perspective. We’ve survived and more, even when most others didn’t think we had a shot. We proved everyone wrong, and that’s a super feeling of satisfaction. Hanging with Hangman is always a treat. The time passed too quickly, just like our lives.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Cruise Ship Christmas

Saturday December 25th, 2010 - Somewhere At Sea

   Christmas Day. Off. It’s always a day off, just a matter of where I spend it. I don’t think I’ve ever had a gig on Christmas Day, and the more I think about it last night was the very first time I’d ever worked on a Christmas Eve. If I had my way, I’d work every holiday.

   Actually, tonight I did get asked to be part of the ‘Liar’s Club’ panel on the ship. That’s a fun game where four panelists give a definition to an obscure funny sounding word, and the audience has to vote on who’s definition is the right one. They use it as a filler before the bingo, and they get random staffers to participate. I did it a while back and it was fun.

   That’s about as close to a gig as I got, but it was nice to get out and mingle a little. I had all kinds of people who saw my shows tell me how much they enjoyed it and who doesn’t enjoy hearing that over and over again? It made me feel like my life wasn’t a total waste.

   This Christmas experience has been one of my least toxic ever. It doesn’t even feel like it’s Christmas with the sunshine and warm weather, and that’s totally fine with me. I took some time to sit and bake in the sun today and think in detail about every little nugget that happened to float to the top of my brain. Warts and all, I tried to deal with every subject.

   Some things did sting a little, but not nearly as much as they have in the past. I’m trying to distance myself from all that, and it seems to finally be working. Some things I’ll never be able to fix, and that’s just how it is I guess. My siblings have blown me off, and I can’t do anything about it. I’ve said I was sorry many times, and I meant it. What else can I do?

   The situation with Bob and Tom came up too. Apparently, they’re still mad at me for an incident years ago that I still am unsure of why it set them off that much. I tried to make it right there also, but they blew me off as well. After several sincere apologies, I give up.

  A few other situations are just ugly memories. My former business partner’s embezzling stunt just makes me scratch my head at this point. Why would he do that? Why would any person do that? I’m not the only one who’s been ripped off, and the amount wasn’t nearly as high as some others. It was a painful lesson, and I lost someone I thought was a friend.

   As corny as it sounds, I really did try to send love to everyone with whom I’ve ever had any kind of clash, run in or disagreement. That includes my dead father, my mother who’s been out of my life since I was a baby, my siblings, club owners and bookers who’ve not been ethical and anyone else I could think of. It‘s wasn‘t easy, but I tried my very best.

   I just don’t want to keep that rotting energy in my world anymore. I doubt if any of the people I thought of thought of me today, but that’s ok. It wasn’t about them. It was about giving myself a chance to heal and making a clean slate for the new year so I can keep on growing. This has been an amazing year for that, and I want to build on it. I’ll be a dented can for life, but it doesn’t mean I can’t strive to be the best I can. I’ve had enough misery and darkness for this or any other lifetime. I want to end my life on a high note and WIN.

   What would that entail? In my mind, I would get my own life together so I could have a chance to help others do the same. I would be physically fit and financially rock solid and a social butterfly with all kinds of good people in my circle of contacts. I’d also always be working on improving my craft and involved in exciting and fulfilling creative projects.

   The energy around me would be positive and approachable to others who wanted to get involved and together we’d become greater than the sum of the parts. Sometimes I’ve felt exactly like that, but other times it’s been a total failure and I’ve felt like sucking a bullet.

   The downs are way down, and I’ll admit a lot of it stems from the past. Would it be nice to hear from my sister, brother and half brother? I used to really think so, but now I’m not so sure. The expiration date has passed, and any kind of family bond there may have been is now amputated. If they came back into my life now, I wouldn’t know how to rebuild it.

   It is what it is, and I know I’m not the only one to face this kind of ugliness. That’s why I write about it so freely. Everyone can’t relate to it, and I’m glad - but those who can are right there with me. Hopefully I can encourage some other dented cans to keep slugging.

   I don’t care what anyone says, I still feel like I’m on the wrong planet. This is a blip on the cosmic radar, and soon enough we’ll all pass through. I’ll be damned if I’ll let a small group of halfwits ruin my journey. For every Bob and Tom who hate me I’ve got a whole lot more that think I’m a good person. Those are the ones I need to focus on all the time.

   There are no guarantees there will be a happy ending, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start writing one. This is my prime time to do whatever I’m going to do on this planet and I’ve decided I’m not going to waste my time chasing the approval of those who can’t stand me or don’t see eye to eye with my ideas. I’m going to prune my life’s hedges and move on.

   Out of six BILLION people on the planet and more than three hundred MILLION in the nation I live, how can I have time to worry about anyone who isn’t with me? Piss on them all, I’ve got a life to live. My siblings had their chance. So did Bob and Tom. So did John Yoder. I sweated for that guy over twenty years, and then his clueless kid fires me. Uh uh.

   I don’t accept that kind of treatment, because I don’t give it out. I’m better than that and I’m going to prove it. Shortcuts don’t interest me, I want to work for what I get. It’s what true success is all about. If nothing else, my path in life sure hasn’t been uninteresting.

   If it took venturing out on cruise ships this year to open my eyes, then so be it. It’s been very difficult, but it’s also been rewarding because I know I’ve made progress. Getting to spend Christmas in the sunshine was a nice perk, and I’ve enjoyed every last second of it.

   If I’m lucky enough to be blessed with more Christmases, I want to spend them helping others. I have a friend who plays Santa in hospices, and needs an elf. He said it’s a brutal gig at times, but it cheers people up who really need it and I’m totally in. Life is about the gifts we give that aren’t wrapped, and not just at Christmas. I’m finally starting to learn.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

The Greatest Gift

Friday December 24th, 2010 - Cozumel, MX

   For a born and raised in Milwaukee card carrying cheese head, the greatest gift of all at Christmas is being able to walk around outside in the sunshine wearing only a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. That’s exactly what I did today and it put me in a bulletproof mindset.

   I got up early and got off the ship to explore more of Cozumel, MX which is starting to become a home away from home in the last few months because I’ve been here so much. Every time I leave the ship I try to walk in a different direction so I can get a feel of what this place is all about. Today I felt like walking, and I chose to take an extra long route.

   It was about 80 degrees with a cloudless sunny sky, the perfect Christmas climate in my opinion. If Jesus was born in Bethlehem, that’s probably how the weather was anyway so that makes it more authentic. The only thing white about this Christmas was my skin, but I didn’t mind in the least. Being outside enjoying the sunshine was the ultimate present.

   I managed to get myself lost for a while in the absolute worst part of the ghetto, at least I hope it was the worst. I’ve seen poverty before, but this was right up there with anything I’ve ever seen. Or would that be down there? Whatever the case, it wasn’t the tourist area.

  I walked through blocks and blocks of pieced together ramshackle hovels I wouldn’t use to store my lawnmower, if indeed I had one, much less live in with a family. I saw people staring at me as I walked past, knowing I wasn’t one of them. I was an out of place gringo wandering through their world, but I’d be gone in a minute. They had to stay a lot longer.

   I couldn’t imagine having to live in such squalor. I’ve had to live in less than desirable circumstances most of my life, but nothing even close to this. The more I was around all these hell holes the more grateful I was for what I have. I’m doing quite well, thank you.

   What’s really amazing is just a few blocks away is the downtown area where there are a lot of bars, restaurants and resorts where people from all over come to blow all their extra money on wine, women and song. But just a few blocks away, families are mired in filth.

   In my mind, that’s why I want to be rich. I’d love to help as many as I can have at least a little bit better life, but maybe that’s not my place. I just hate to see so many people not have what I think is a proper lifestyle. Packed like rats into rickety shacks sure isn’t it.

   I bet I walked close to ten miles today, and I’ve got a nice plump blister on my right big toe to prove it. I walked off any frustrations I may have had about Christmases in the past, and it gave me both a positive vibe and made me feel insignificant, like a blip on a radar.

   This life is over all too quickly, and it’s up to us to seek our own happiness. We’re all a bunch of idiots wandering through this place with no real direction, and as a collective we haven’t done much to improve ourselves over thousands of years. Poverty should have no place in this world, but it’s alive and well and stronger than ever. That’s not right to me.

   But what can I do about it? I have enough trouble keeping my own head above water. In a perfect world, I’d have figured that out a long time ago and could help some of the other people who really need it. I’ve spent my entire life chasing my little show business dream, but still haven’t made any significant progress. I’m a paycheck away from poverty myself.

   I like having deep thought sessions once in a while, but it can sure take the wind out of one’s sail in a hurry. I’m just a dung beetle, pushing my wet sloppy ball of poo across the desert and hoping every day that the predatory lizards don’t catch and eat me for lunch.

   We’ll all be gone soon enough, so the best answer is to make the most of whatever time we have on this beautiful planet filled with so much insanity and an ample supply of rock headed morons to perpetuate it. I don’t want to be part of the problem, I want to solve it.

   That’s very difficult, considering my limited resources. I’ve been plugging along for an entire lifetime, and it’s only now that I feel like I’m beginning to get a clue as to what the hell this experience could be about. It took so long to get to this point, I hope I have some energy left to do something with whatever little specks of knowledge I’ve accumulated.

   The main thing is to keep moving and making progress. That’s one thing I’ve managed to do throughout my life, mostly by necessity. Had I not gotten fired in radio, I may have still been doing that. All I ever wanted was to be a star in my home town, and I probably would have been satisfied with that. Instead, I was forced to step out of my comfort zone.

   I’m still out of it. What the hell am I doing with my life? I sure feel like I’m stumbling and bumbling through it, trying to make heads or tails of it all. I’m thrown from one new situation to the next, seemingly by random happenstance. I can’t find any steady rhythm.

   Is this the reason I’m here, to bounce around like a ping pong ball in a lottery machine? Is there any reason any of us are here? These are the kind of thoughts that bake into one’s head on a long walk in the sun on Christmas Eve in Cozumel, MX. I have no answers.

   The shows have been a pleasant surprise this week. I had heard Christmas week wasn’t a good week to be on cruise ships, but that’s not the case here. The ship is packed and the audiences were very good for all five shows. I really enjoyed them, and they were friendly and there to laugh. Whatever I’d heard was wrong, and I’m glad. This was a killer week.

   The other comedian and I hit it off really well also. His name is Phil Tag and he’s from New York originally but now lives in Florida like so many people do. He’s my age, and a really fun guy to hang with. He’s done a couple of Tonight Shows and our styles are kind of similar in that we both work fast and pound audiences hard. I really enjoyed his shows.

   That makes a lot of difference. Time goes a lot faster when there’s someone to hang out with, and we stayed after our shows and swapped stories during the staff Christmas party. I have some good ones, but so does he, and we made each other laugh until the wee hours of the morning. Good weather plus good people plus good shows equals good Christmas.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Friday, December 24, 2010

Belize Navidad

Thursday December 23rd, 2010 - Chicago, IL/Houston, TX/Belize City, Belize

   Pulling an all nighter isn’t nearly as easy as it used to be. I used to be able to do a show, drive like a maniac all night to do radio the next morning in a town far away, then stay up all day and do the show the following night. And I managed to do it without any cocaine.

  Those days are long gone, but I did one today for old times sake because I had to. I had a lot of things to make sure were caught up before I left since I’ll be gone two whole weeks without a trip home this time. I wanted to grab a nap but the phone kept ringing and I kept discovering other things I had to get done so I ended up putting in a full day’s hard work.

   Marc Schultz and his wife Audrey drove me to the airport, but I’d never ask them to get up at 3am. Jim McHugh does it, but he’s more used to doing stuff like that because he’s a fellow comic. Sometimes we have to get up at all kinds of odd hours to make travel work, and that’s the kind of stuff they pay us for. The actual gigs are only a small part of it all.

   Marc and Audrey dropped me off at about 1:15am, but I wasn’t able to check in until 3 at the very earliest. There’s a Starbucks on the lower level by the baggage claim, and even though I’m not a coffee person I went down there because there are tables and chairs there to set up my computer and get some work done.  I bought a juice and went right to work.

   About 2am one of the scariest looking humans I’ve ever seen wandered up to where the clerk was standing and just stared at her for a few seconds. Then he walked away and she glanced at me with a look of ‘Please help me.’ I was the only one who saw it all transpire but if he would have done anything crazy I don’t know how much help I could have been.

   I debated whether to see if I could find any security people when he wandered back over again, this time talking to himself in a heated conversation peppered with filthy language and sound effects of what sounded like a kid playing with imaginary guns. I didn’t know what I should do, but I knew it wasn’t right to leave that clerk stranded there by herself.

   I wasn’t sure if she had a phone or emergency button to push or any means of protection at all. My guess was she didn’t, and after about three or four passes by the guy I really felt uncomfortable. I’ve learned not to look people like that in the eye whenever possible, as it can set off any number of mental minefields. I pretended to stay working, but I couldn’t.

   The guy was obviously mentally ill, but he was also dressed in the odd combination of a mercenary and a bum. His boots weren’t tied and it looked like he had a military jacket of some sort on. I tried not to gawk too long or hard, but at 2am in the airport where most of the others were sound asleep, I realized immediately that nobody is really safe anywhere.

  The guy could have pulled out a gun or a bomb or a knife or any one of a million things. That Starbucks clerk would have had no defense, and I really didn’t either. I only had my computer and carry on bag with me. At best, I could have squirted shaving cream right in his eye. I’m sure that would have saved the day. This was an extremely scary situation.

      The cops showed up maybe ten minutes later, and hauled him off with a struggle. When they started asking him questions he became irate, and looked over at me with two of the most evil looking eyes I’ve seen in quite a while. There was a whole lot of ugliness going on inside that head, and I have to believe a few more minutes would have triggered it all.

   Where was TSA when we needed them? THIS is the kind of maniac we need to protect people from, but he walked right into O’Hare at 2am without a second look. He could’ve had a bazooka and blown that Starbucks clerk and me away in less than five seconds. But I have to get my lower colon probed with a cattle prod because I just might be a terrorist.

   By the time it all quieted down, I sure wasn’t able to get any sleep. I stayed up until my check-in time and had an even bigger disdain for airport security as they once again were talking down to everyone as they rudely barked out instructions to take belts and shoes off before going through the scanner. I clenched my teeth and got it over with one more time.

   The flight to Houston was a lot better this time because I didn’t have to squeeze next to any freakishly large mammals, and when I got there the connecting gate was the next one over. That never happens. Usually I’m running through the airport like O.J. Simpson used to, barely getting to my plane as it’s about to leave. Today I walked from gate K1 to K2.

   The flight to Belize was packed, but I nodded out before we took off and woke up right as the plane landed. Now THAT’S a good flight. Perfect timing. I could have easily been talking in my sleep, snoring, farting or any combination of the three but that wasn’t any of my concern. I was able to get some much needed sleep and I got off the plane refreshed.

   What felt even better was the blast of pure tropical sunshine on my pale Caucasian puss as I walked down the stairs to the gate. The Belize airport doesn’t have gates like the ones in the States and we have to walk to the terminal from the plane. Today it felt like heaven, as it was about 10 degrees in Chicago when I left. THIS is the way to spend a Christmas.

   Customs went pretty smoothly today, even though there was a long line. Some days are a nightmre all the way through, but today turned out to be a good one for a change. There were no major hassles or glitches, and if I knew how to keep this kind of a vibe I’d do it.

   I’m back on the Carnival Legend this week, the last ship I was on two weeks ago. I got the same cabin I was in then, and when I walked in the door I was thrilled to see my keys sitting on the shelf I’d left them. I couldn’t believe it, and threw them in the air in ecstasy.

   It doesn’t mean I won’t lose them, my phone or wallet again, but at least this time I did catch a break and I’m grateful. I’m going to leave them where they are, because that’s the place I left them last time. I just forgot to pick them up when I left. I’ll do better this time.

   All of this puts me in a really good mood, and I haven’t even stepped on stage yet. I’ve heard Christmas week shows can be rough on ships. We’ll see. I’m going to do my best at all times, and whoever shows up will get my best effort. What more can anyone ask for?

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Living Arrangements

Wednesday December 22nd, 2010 - Fox Lake, IL

   My last day in America before two solid weeks at sea. I hope I can handle it, but it’s too late to back out now. I made a commitment and I’ll do it. It will be the longest continuous time run I’ve spent on a ship. That coupled with Christmas could send me over the edge.

   I don’t think it will, though. I’m in a very good mental space this year and everything is feeling upbeat. Some years are better than others, but this one won’t be a problem. Maybe it’s due to me being so busy. Whatever it is, it isn’t the torture fest it’s been in the past so I’m not going to complain. I’ve got two weeks of sunshine to bake away any depression.

   I finally nailed down a place to live, so that’s a relief. It’s exactly what I said I wouldn’t do, but the little voice in my head said to accept the offer so I did. Every time I’ve had the smarts to listen to that voice, it’s been the right choice. It’s when I start trying to outthink it where the trouble occurs. I don’t want to tempt the fates, so I didn‘t fight my instinct.

   I’ve got an almost identical situation to what I had before. It’s another basement, but it’s the sister-in-law of the person I just moved from. I’ve known her even longer than I knew the previous one and her house is only about ten minutes away from where I lived before.

   Rent is the same, and the deal is the same - no lease and I can leave when I want. That’s the part that attracted me most. I don’t want to sign any leases if I don’t have to, I’ve had a lot of trouble with them over the years. My timing is so horrible, usually when I get one signed something comes up and I have to get out of it a month later. It’s been a big hassle.

   This will be a stop gap situation until I can see where life is headed in the new year. I’m still drifting a bit, and that’s embarrassing this far into the game but it’s still true. If I were to get an apartment I’d have to furnish it, and then if I moved I’d either have to leave it or take it with me, and neither one of those options thrill me. This situation avoids all that.

   It’s a very nice place with cable TV, internet, a bed and a bathroom. That’s about all I’ll need for the next few months, as I’m sure I’ll be on the road much of that time anyway. It will allow me to sort out the things I didn’t get to before I moved last time, and I’ll pare it all down by way more than half before I head out again. In the interim, this is a good deal.

   I really do like living in Lake County, IL. It’s halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago and it has a small town feel I never thought I’d like, but it’s growing on me. I’ve got a lot of friends between cities and it cuts travel time in half to both places. Plus, I’ve made new friends since I moved to Lake County and I could see myself living there for many years.

   My flight to Houston leaves at 5am from O’Hare and Marc Schultz and his wife Audrey were kind enough to offer their services to drive me to the airport and let me park my car in their driveway for two weeks. That saves me a ton of cash, and it’s much appreciated. I usually get dropped off by Jim McHugh, but he’s filling in for me at a gig in Dubuque, IA that I backed out from. I didn’t want to risk missing my flight. That would be a disaster.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pedro Bell Artwork

Monday December 20th, 2010 - Fox Lake, WI

   Unexpected good news today. I’m back in touch with Pedro Bell, the legendary artist of Funkadelic album cover fame I hired to do the artwork for my latest CD. We’d lost touch for a while after an assistant of his ripped him off, but he said he’d be back in touch when he could and make things right. I never doubted he would, and he did. It’s perfect timing.

   His new associate is totally professional, and we’re on the same page. I’d never gotten a finished colorized version of the work I paid for, and that’s the first thing he corrected. I’d only had a low resolution black and white version to send him, but he colorized it quickly and got it back to me. I was impressed with how fast he did it and can tell we’ll be fine.

   I’d eventually like to get some color prints signed by Pedro and sell them on my site. He has a large following from his work on all the Funkadelic and George Clinton solo album covers, and his style is so unique that it’s recognizable at a glance. I don’t know anything about art, but I know I’m lucky to have a chance to hire Pedro to work with me so I did.

   My current CD is mostly black and white, but it does stand out. I only did a first run of 1000, so that’s not the end of the world. I’ll give most of them away as promo pieces and sell the rest, then I’ll use the money to have the colorized version reprinted for the second run. Those will really jump out and catch people’s eye just as the Funkadelic albums did.

   Pedro called me on the phone this afternoon and he seemed to be in much better spirits than he was last time we spoke. It’s none of my business, but I heard he’d been feeling ill. I told him I’d love to hire him again to do another project, and he said he was up for it.

     I absolutely can’t pass up this opportunity. Even if it means nothing to anybody else but me, I’m going to find a way to make it work. I’ve got a supply of cash at the moment so it won’t kill me, and it will be tax deductible as part of the expense of a product I can resell.

   The last project he did was based on the Funkadelic album called “Hardcore Jollies” It’s visually striking, and I saw it on a list of the top 50 rock album covers of all time. I hadn’t known it was on that list, I just liked it and thought “Hard Luck Jollies” would fit together perfectly with my Mr. Lucky persona even if someone had no idea who Funkadelic was.

   Pedro and I agreed that this next one will be based on the George Clinton solo album of 1986 called “R&B Skeletons In The Closet”. I like the design and it turns out it was voted top album cover of the year when it came out. I have no idea who voted it that, but Pedro said it was one of his most popular works. I guess I have better taste in art than I thought.

   I chose it because I thought it stood out, and it does. We’ll call it “Comedy Skeletons In The Closet” and that will allow me to put anything I want on it. I’ve got some old out take recordings of shows from my first CD and other stuff that’s never seen the light of day. It won’t be a problem to cut and paste and come up with enough material to fill a CD. I may also put on some bonus features, like Sixty Second Soapbox bits from my time in radio.

      It doesn’t really matter what‘s on it. I’ll find something to fill it up. What matters is I’ll have another product to sell, and it will come in a quality package. It’ll have eye appeal to strangers, and that’s important as far as marketing goes. It may help sell a few units if I’m able to get it in stores, or help people decide to check it out if I can get in more libraries.

   My friend Rick Piccolo said he’s been watching the CD he gave to his local library get checked out and said it’s apparently been in demand. That’s a great way to acquire a core group of fans, and eventually the goal is to get them to come see me live. I’m not upset if they don’t pay for the CD up front. It’s a sampler to turn them on to my style of comedy.

   This is all marketing, and I should have been doing it years ago. Maybe I wasn’t able to pull it off then, but I totally am ready for it now. I have the ability and experience, and I’ll develop my own fans thank you. Depending on some low rent booker or worse yet his kid to make my living is total insanity. Nobody can promote me better than me, and it’s time.

   Frank Zappa cranked out tons of product, and it came from necessity. He had to make a living, and that’s where I am now. Do I have enough new material for a CD right now? In my old way of thinking, no. Now, I’ve got TONS of material just waiting to be divided up and put on a CD release. I’m finally starting to see things from a marketing perspective.

   Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx both had several album releases which helped spread the legend and create a fan base. From what I heard they got ripped off with royalties from all those recordings, but if I’m smart I don’t have to have it happen to me. I can be in charge.

   As a kid I remember really enjoying new Funkadelic albums not only for the music, but for Pedro’s intricate artwork on the covers. He’d have eye candy to enjoy on the front and back covers and on the inside foldout too. Granted, albums were a lot bigger than a CD to look at, but CD art is still attractive. I want to create quality products in a quality package.

   There’s a whole new world of marketing I need to take advantage of, and it’s not only a matter of releasing audio recordings. They are an important part of the mix though, so I’m going to crank out as many as I can ala Frank Zappa and try to build my legend with fans.

    It’s all part of the game, and I’m fine with playing it. I used to think being funny alone was enough, but that’s SO wrong. The rest is marketing and showmanship, and I have an eye for what works in that department because I’m a student of the game. George Clinton did too, and that’s why he knew packaging was so important. He’s a master showman.

   I want to be a master showman too. I spent a quarter of a century polishing up the stage part of my show, now it’s time to distribute it to more than just 40 people at a time in an out of the way booze joint in some itty bitty town. That’s not the way to spend one’s days.

  I’m thrilled to be back in touch with Pedro, and I never doubted it would happen when it was the right time. Now it’s up to me to make the most of it. I’ve got the money so it’s an investment for the future. Plus, it’s cool because I’m such a big fan. Good enough for me.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cutting Bait And Moving On

Sunday December 19th, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI/Kenosha,WI

   I went up to the sports card show at Gonzaga Hall in West Allis, WI to meet up with my good friend Richard today. He’s been helping me sell my mountain of sports cards for the last few months and has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help me unload them.

   Richard has an Ebay business and sells high end cards. My stuff was mostly mid-grade, which is always hardest to sell. I knew that when I bought them, but I wasn’t planning on selling them as quickly as I’ve had to. It was a mistake, and now I’m trying to recover.

   There was a big card show in Chicago in November and Rich took a bunch of my stuff to shop around on my behalf. He didn’t have to do that, but he’s a good friend and wanted to help me get the best price, or at least a lump of cash rather than boxes of old cardboard.

   It’s not easy to eat mistakes and move on, but that’s the best thing to do right now. I can always buy more cards, but my time in the sun as a comedian is getting shorter by the day so clearing everything else out and going for it is the right decision, even if I lose a chunk of money in the short run. Richard has really helped me make the best of this ugly mess.

   He set up at his table with my stuff today, and ended up selling a couple hundred bucks worth of it. I paid the table fee, but it was totally worth it. He also gave me a nice stack of cash he got for some of my other stuff in Chicago and I wanted to hug him immediately.

   That money will be able to give me even more of a financial cushion and allow myself a little leeway to work on projects in the new year. And, it allowed me to remove the pile of heavy boxes from where I was living just in time to avoid me having to move it to storage and spend money letting it rot. I took action, and Richard kept it going. He’s a true friend.

   After a lifetime of farting around with sports cards, I think I’m finally finished for good. I had a blast with them from childhood on, but I drifted in and out of them and never had the constant focus required to be a big time dealer. I made a few bucks, lost a lot more but I have to admit the chase was a lot of fun. I’ve finally outgrown it now, but that’s okay.

   I’ve got some scraps left, and Richard said he’d do his best to help me get as much cash back as possible. Again, he didn’t have to do that and I totally appreciate it. I love to hang out with him and some of the other card guys I’ve known, but as far as collecting or being a dealer myself that’s over with. I’ve learned my lesson and won’t consider that anymore.

   This is all part of the lessons of life. Try something, tweak it, adjust it, see if it fits. This was a fun hobby for a lifetime, but now it’s over. Even though I ended up losing my ass in it, the money that’s coming in now is much appreciated. I’m living and learning. So be it.

   If we’re all here on this cosmic plane to learn, I’m sure getting my share of education. If I knew life was going to be this difficult, I might not have signed up. Too late. It’s a never ending constantly evolving classroom, and I’m a perpetual student. I wonder if I’ll pass?

     Tonight it was back to AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha, WI for The Mothership Connection radio show. The crew all got together for a Christmas dinner beforehand, and I’m glad the show has been able to stay on the air in my absence on the ships. Everyone has pitched in.

   The show has always been fun, and still is. We had some excellent guests and callers to keep it moving, and four hours ended up flying by as it usually does. I hadn’t been on the air in a while, and it felt good to get back in the saddle. The energy all around was good.

   But, like with sports cards, it may be time to get out of this racket too. It’s been a lot of fun for a long time, but where is it leading? With everything else going on, it’s hard to be focusing on projects that don’t make money. If I had a bigger cushion to fall back on, I’d be able to do this without any question. But. is this the smartest way to invest my time?

   That can only be answered if we’re able to get paid. How can that happen? I’m a fan of Coast To Coast AM with George Noory, and that’s the big dog of shows like this. If we’d get a chance to fill in on weekends or something that would be worth it just for the big ray of exposure it would give. But would it pay? And, would they let the crew stay together?

   Part of what makes it all so fun is the crew of people involved. It’s a blast going into the studio with Shelley Maas-Hernandez, Greg DeGuire, Gary Pansch and whomever else we can get to show up and join us. It’s a cross between a morning show and Coast To Coast.

   In a perfect world, we’d be able to get a syndication deal which would put us on nightly to open for Coast To Coast. It would be a perfect lead in, but are the radio powers that be even interested in something like that? I don’t have any idea who to even talk to about it.

   Kipper McGee knows the show exists, and if anyone can give me pointers, it’s him. He would help me sell it if there were any openings, but he’s got his own career to maintain. He’s got an impressive resume, but no job right now. That’s common in the radio game.

   Virtually everyone I know in that business is scrambling, and I’ve had my share of that too. Playing that game is a cross between musical chairs and whack-a-mole. There’s a lot of carnage with no real reason for it, so why tempt the meat grinder? The other people on the show are all bright eyed and bushy tailed, and that’s fine. They haven’t been scorched.

    I’d be fine with letting them take over the show, and maybe showing up once a month or so to hang out on air if they’d let me. I’m sure they would, but putting maximum effort into it just isn’t the best way to spend my time now. This is the time to create whatever is possible to go into some kind of retirement fund. I’m not going to have it willed to me.

   I don’t regret any of this, and it’s a sign I’m still growing in a positive way. Playing the sports card game and having a radio talk show are both great fun, but I have to think a big wad of cash socked away wouldn’t suck either. That’s just where my instincts take me at this time. Making hay while the sun shines is the right thing to do, and hopefully clearing out the time suckers from my life will open up new avenues I’ll be able to make use of.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Monday, December 20, 2010

Optimal Options

Saturday December 18th, 2010 - Vernon Hills, IL

   I’m beginning to get very excited about 2011. Things look like they’re finally starting to pop from all angles, and I’m ready for all of it - at least I think I am. Even if I’m not, what a super problem it will be to have too many fun and exciting things all going on at once.

   First off, I’m starting to get comedy clubs calling me for dates next year. I haven’t been to Laffs in Tucson in a while, and there’s been an ownership change there. It’s back in the hands of the guy who used to own it, and he looked through his archives and saw I hadn’t been there for a while and asked me back. He’s in for a surprise, I’m WAY better now.

   I love Tucson, and the west in general. Gigs are farther apart, but I’m to the point where I’m either going to fly in or not go so it doesn’t really matter. I also was asked to return to Wiseguys in Salt Lake City by my friend Keith Stubbs. I always love working in Utah and it’s been too long since I’ve been back there too. Another place I want to return is Calgary so that and a few other regular stops will give me a nice base of clubs to start scheduling.

   These are all places I enjoy working, and going there is more of a mini vacation by now. I don’t have to prove myself on stage, and we have a good working relationship. It will be nice to see the people in those towns again, and hopefully I can teach some classes also.

   That’s another thing that’s starting to heat up. Harper College has asked me to return for more classes, and that could really lead to good things. It’s totally legitimate and attracts a wider audience that isn’t just a comedy club crowd. If I’m smart, I’ll create a cash cow.

   I also am back in contact with Arnie Hoffman from Laughing Hyena records. Arnie is a sharp businessman and he’s the guy who bought the rights to my first CD recording. He’s always looking for more products, and we went back and forth a little on what I might be able to create and make another deal. Arnie said he’s sold about 1800 copies of my CD.

   That really made me feel good. He gave me a flat fee when he bought it so he’s the one who took all the risk. I’d already made my money selling it after shows. I’m glad he made a profit, and it got my name out a little. Arnie told me the topics that sell the best for him, and that gives me something to work with in planning recordings. It could lead to a deal.

   These are all things I really enjoy, and I’ll have plenty to play with in the new year. I’ve also got a ’Schlitz Happened!’ show up in Milwaukee at the end of January and that’s my pet project right now. Creating something from absolute zero is a thrill, and I can see this gaining momentum. It’s exciting. All of it is. I’m not going to be stuck in a solitary rut.

   I’m also still waiting to see what transpires with the cruise ships. Carnival has put some nice money in my pocket, and if that keeps coming I’d be stupid not to take it. If not, I’ve got plenty to do to keep me busy and solvent. Either way, I’ll be fine. That makes life the best it gets. I won’t be worrying about where my next meal or gig comes from, and that’s the best definition of success. I can sit back and be creative, and that’s what it’s all about.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Sunday, December 19, 2010

King Of The 'Hills

Friday December 17th, 2010 - Vernon Hills, IL

   If there’s one comedy club in America I feel the most at home, it’s the Zanies in Vernon Hills, IL. I was the first comic on that stage when the club opened in 1991, and it’s been a lot more than a working relationship. The majority of the staff has stayed there for quite a few years, and we’ve all grown to become personal friends. Working there is going home.

   It’s also the only comedy club in Lake County, so there are people who come out to see me from both Illinois and Wisconsin. I’ve lived in Lake County off and on for years, and I also have people who have heard me on the radio who’ll drive down to see me there. It’s a nice club with lots of available parking and it’s easy to navigate. I love working there.

   Plus, I feel as at home on that stage as anywhere in the country. The staff doesn’t care in the least what I do, and if I would happen to have a bad show, nobody will write me up or scold me. If there’s a such thing as job security, I’ve got it at Zanies in Vernon Hills. It’s a sanctuary where I can pretty much do whatever I want within reason, but I don’t abuse it.

   Tonight was just plain old fun. I had some people come out to see me, and that’s always flattering. It makes me want to give everything I’ve got to please them. Jayne Nordstrom from the Illinois Convention and Visitors Bureau came out with her husband and friends. I joined the bureau a couple of years ago and Jayne is as hard a worker as I’ve ever seen.

   She is relentless at networking with people in Lake County, and she’s always putting in a good word for me. I know it’s part of my membership dues, but she goes beyond a work boundary and has become a friend. I’m glad I joined, and she’s been a one woman public relations firm on my behalf. She didn’t have to come out, but she did. I felt an obligation.

   Some of the staff from the Mothership Connection radio show came out too. My friend Shelley Maas-Hernandez has really helped me in a lot of areas, and she brought a crew of people as she usually does including her husband Bob who’s never seen me. They’ve both been great, and when I had computer viruses they went out of their way to fix it for me.

   Shelley runs my website and as I’ve been on the cruise ships she’s also been running the Mothership Connection radio show on Sunday nights. It’s a win/win as she gets to try her hand at real radio, and I have someone in charge I can count on to show up every week.

   Diane Ebert showed up also, and she’s another sweetheart. She works the overnights on 102.3 WXLC in Waukegan, IL and has been in and out on the Mothership for a while. It’s not always easy with her busy schedule, but when she shows up she always contributes to the show both on air and off, and supports the concept. We’ve got a great crew all around.

   Jim Moran came out too. Jim has really risen through the radio ranks and does traffic on WBBM among other stations in Chicago. He’s a total pro, and he and Diane have always come out to see me whenever they can. Shelley has either come out herself or sent people to see me for years. With people like that in the audience, it’s hard to have a bad show.

      A whole group of strangers came up to me before the show to say how much they were looking forward to it. There were about ten altogether and they said they’d made it a point to come see me. A few had seen me before, and brought friends this time. They said they watched my schedule and as soon as they saw I was at Vernon Hills, they made plans.

   THAT’S what I’ve been trying to cultivate my whole life - people who come out to see ME, not just those going out to see a random comedy show. There’s a different vibe if an audience is there to see someone in particular. They expect to be entertained, and if they are they respond with an outpouring of positive energy. That’s what I’m shooting for.

   It’s only taken a lifetime to achieve it, but it’s finally starting to happen. A little. But it’s still starting. I thought I’d have it figured out by now, but I totally don‘t. I‘ll take any and every fan I can get and be grateful for every one. I want to give all of them my very best.

   I could feel within about ten seconds they were going to be a good audience for the first show. Mike Preston was the host, and we’ve known each other for years. Mike is not only a funny comedian, he’s got a lot of experience hosting. His style and mine fit perfectly on the same show, as did the feature act Kevin McCaffrey. I think this kid is going places.

   He already has. He’s 28, originally from the Chicago area but moved to New York, and writes for David Letterman. I’ve also seen him pop up on TV either on TruTV or VH1 or maybe both. It was where they flash quick comment clips from comedians on those ’Best of the ’80s’ or stupid criminal shows. Whatever ones he did, I’ve seen him at some point.

   Those are nothing to sneeze at. It’s a great credit, as they run over and over and provide excellent national exposure. Plus, writing for Letterman doesn’t hurt either. The guy has a great work ethic, and I met him when he did a Rising Star Showcase at Zanies in Chicago a while back. He’s not only working on his comedy, his business acumen is razor sharp.

   I wasn’t anywhere close to that smart when I was 28, and I’m not claiming it now. I just see what I did wrong, and know when someone else is doing it correctly. When I was 28, I had already gotten into radio, and moving to New York or LA to write for Letterman or anyone else wasn’t where my mind was. Kevin is on the right track to build a solid career.

   All these things together made for a wonderful night. I felt as at home as I do anywhere on the planet, the host was experienced and competent, the feature act was funny and not filthy, and there were pockets of people all through the audience who already enjoyed my comedy style and knew what to expect. Plus, I had just come off of working on the ships.

   That’s like coming out of the gym and taking ankle weights off. Those gigs may not be easy, but they sure are making me a better comedian. I could feel it as I launched into not only new material but some older stuff too. I could feel myself deliver it with a crispness and felt in control the entire time. It was great fun, and even the second show rocked the house. These were just regular customers, but I still had a hot show. I’m in a performing groove right now, I was King of the ‘Hills tonight. This was a slump buster. What a blast.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Frazzle Dazzle

Thursday December 16th, 2010 - Belize City, Belize/Miami, FL/Chicago, IL

   I need a break. I’m not sure exactly how long, but at least a week or two without a place to be would be spectacular right about now. With all the ship travel and road work and an unplanned move, this has been one of my busiest years in recent memory. I’m all over the place, and it’s hard to keep up. There are so many things to remember, it gets confusing.

   Keys, wallet, phone. Keys, wallet, phone. That’s my constant mantra. Today I managed to lose my keys. Again. I’m constantly patting myself down and checking and re-checking those three items, but even if I keep track of them 999 times out of 1000, they’re still lost.

   I haven’t needed my keys for a whole week, and I thought I put them in a safe place so I wouldn’t lose them. I must have looked at them 1000 times this week, as there’s a shelf to store things in my cabin on the ship. This morning when I packed I thought I placed them in my pocket, but alas - they aren’t there. No matter how hard I looked, they’re not there.

   My wallet is there, and so is my phone. No keys. Two out of three IS bad when it comes to those things, but what can I do? If they’re in my cabin, I’ll be able to pick them up in a week when I go back. Fortunately, I have another booking on that particular ship. That’s a long term solution, but in the short term I’m screwed. Every key I need was on that ring.

   I used to carry at least a spare car key in my wallet, but I didn’t put one in from my new old Cadillac. I did get a second set when I bought it, but those are in the ash try and I have no idea if I locked it or not. Many times I’ll at least leave the rear passenger door open so I can avoid situations like this, but at this point my brain is mush and I just do not know.

   I’ll deal with it like I have every other time this has happened, but it always seems to be at the most inconvenient time. I’m between places to live and everything is up in the air at this point. I have no base of operations and everything is in boxes and storage. I guess I’m one that needs some kind of order and I don’t have that right now. I’m living like a gypsy.

   I did make the flight from Belize to Miami. I flew with the other comic Thomas Brown, and he’s just a super nice guy. He’s friends with Jeff Foxworthy, and that’s all he needed to say. My respect for Jeff is up there with anyone on the planet, and after this week so is Thomas. He’s a straight shooting guy, very hard working and he likes to restore old cars.

   I love old cars too, but he’s got me beat by miles. I’m a tire kicker and an admirer, he’s an actual doer. He restores about two cars a year from the ground up and resells them for top dollar. He’s a metal worker and a welder and does the work himself. I couldn’t hold a wrench straight, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t admire the majesty of those old cars.

   They’re rolling art, and Thomas really knows his stuff. It’s great when comedians don’t always have to talk comedy every waking second. I enjoy that too, but it was a refreshing week to work with a classy guy like Thomas. He carries himself like a total pro, and I can feel we’ll cross paths again. He’s the kind of person I want to have more of in my life.

   He’s got goals and dreams and chases them. I know Jeff did too, and I still think we will be back in touch eventually. I’ve always felt uneasy asking for favors, but that has to stop. Maybe it’s from childhood rejection, who knows? I do know there are people who believe in me that would love to make a call, and I know Jeff is one of them. He’s got some clout.

   I have to be ready when the time comes. He did what he said he’d do last time we spoke and I followed up with his management company and got turned down. That’s not what I expected, but maybe the time just wasn’t right. When it is, I’m sure whomever the person is that will give me my break will open that door and it will fall together. That’s the plan.

   I have to maintain a positive attitude and keep expecting good things, but I can’t lie. It’s very difficult to do that all the time, especially around this time of year. Christmas and all it’s nasty memories hadn’t really hit me until today in the Miami airport when I waited in a line to go through customs and some idiot in front of me took about 20 minutes to clear because she was arguing with the agent and had a hand full of passports. It was a big pain.

   When I blow in the patience department, I’m gone. I have to hold my tongue or I surely will end up in jail, at least for the night. I don’t suffer idiots well, but slow ones are even higher on my up the poop shoot with pointy steel toed work boots list. I was about to get to my last nerve when I heard The Little Drummer Boy and that took me to a sad place.

   It’s amazing how one little trigger like that could take me out, but it did. I suddenly saw all the wreaths and ornaments and lights and realized I was in Miami. The only chance for a White Christmas is if the cocaine dealer stops over. I tried to shut my senses off, but if it were that easy, I’d do it every year. Some years are better than others, but today got ugly.

   The more I tried to avoid the decorations, the more I saw them. It’s actually quite funny, but not on a day like today. I just want to turn it all off and rest up for a while. Recharging the batteries would do wonders, but that’s not coming for a while. I have more gigs to do.

   After having to go through security in Miami…AGAIN…my mood really turned sour. I just did it in Belize, and haven’t been anywhere else but the airport. I don’t think anybody at the airport has a store selling bazookas or shoe bombs. Why do I have to go through the rat and cheese game again? Everyone does, and today’s crew were the typical idiot posse.

   I got to my gate, and apparently I was too late to get on the plane. It was right there, but they made me wait for the next one. Then, they didn’t tell me there was a gate change so I had to run and catch the tram to my gate all the way across the airport. My nerves are shot after a tough week and all these little things that really don’t mean much by themselves.

   Together, they’re a constant reminder that it’s time to rest and recharge for a while. I am bass ackwards in every part of my life, and it all feels out of sync at the moment. Nobody cares though, and I know that. It’s up to me to do what I need to do to get in a mindset for success. At this point I’ll settle for one that lets me keep track of my keys. I’ve got a busy weekend of shows, then just a few days home before going back out to sea. I’m frazzled.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Stuck Between Storms

Wednesday December 15th, 2010 - Roatan, Honduras

   Change of travel plans. No use complaining, I’ll just have to roll with it. I was supposed to fly home from Belize today, but with all the rough weather this week everything is on a different schedule. Today we stopped in Roatan, Honduras instead. It’s not easy to fly out of here, I’ve done it before. It requires a puddle jumper shuttle flight to the main airport.

   The ‘main’ airport has a total of maybe a dozen planes if they‘re lucky, and I’ll bet half of those are only there for parts. I’d rather wait the day and fly out of Belize. That isn’t an international show piece major airport either, but it’s better than Honduras. And, it keeps me out of the cold for another day. I don’t have a heavy jacket and it’s going to slap me.

   The down side is, I’m scheduled for a week at Zanies Comedy Club in Vernon Hills, IL that starts on Thursday. I had to cancel the Thursday show because the flight would cut it way to close, and having to spend an entire day with a puckered bung hole is not my style.

   SO many things could go wrong, and I’d hate to have to cancel at the last minute. I told them the situation and they’ve always been great about stuff like that, but I still hate to be cancelling shows. I like working Vernon Hills, and that’s one of the few places people do come out to see me. It’s close to both Milwaukee and Chicago and convenient for many.

   I heard late today that there’s still no guarantee we’ll make it out of Belize. The weather is still an issue apparently, and Belize is what’s called a ‘tendered port’. That means it’s a shuttle boat ride from where the ship anchors out at sea to the actual port, and apparently they don’t run when the weather is rough. I’ll have to see in the morning what transpires.

   I’m not going to worry about it, but it does concern me more than a little. Missing a gig for a whole week is not the kind of reputation I need to be building right now. I’ve always been known for being reliable, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve been able to work on the road as long as I have. Bookers know I don’t drink or do drugs, and they can count on me.

   I’ve got a show booked in Dubuque, IA December 22nd, and I’m worried that will be the next nail biter situation. I fly out again at 5am on the 23rd, and there are all kinds of snares that could pop up from car trouble to bad weather. I can’t cancel now, but I’ll sure be a lot more careful of what I book around the ship gigs, if indeed I get any more. I have no idea.

   This next run is the last one I’ve got. I haven’t heard back from the booking person, but I know she’s got WAY too much going on to bother her right now. If they want me back, I’ll get an email asking for my available dates. If not, I’ll be grateful for what I did get and move on. I sure gained some experience, and it helped get my finances back above water.

   The money alone was worth it. That changes everything. Having even a little cushion is the difference between saying yes or no to some one night hell hole. I’ve got to make my run at whatever I’m going to run at, and a Wednesday night in some small town biker bar is not it. I had an extra day to get some work done, and I did. Time to freeze for a week.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Working The Big Room

Tuesday December 14th, 2010 - Somewhere At Sea

   Easy and glitch free is just not how my life works. Tonight was one of the most difficult nights of comedy hell I’ve ever had to endure. I thought this kind of mortal combat would be over at this stage of the game. I was sure I’d be counting my residual checks and living a life of leisure by now. I better guess again. I’m ready for a massage and a week of sleep.

   Rough weather continued to be an issue and we weren’t able to dock at Grand Cayman Island as planned due to safety concerns. A number of passengers were upset, and voiced their displeasure quite vocally to the cruise director Wee Jimmy. I like Jimmy a lot and it wasn’t fair that he had to take the brunt of the complaints, but that’s part of his job duties.

   Not only weren’t we able to dock, that meant we weren’t able to pick up the soul singer who does a Motown revue in the big auditorium. Jimmy called and asked if I’d be willing to fill in with the other comic Thomas Brown, and what was I going to say? Of course I’d help him out, he’s a great guy to work with and he was in a bind. That’s not the problem.

   The problem was there were a bunch of people in the big theatre who had no idea there was a change, and were not expecting to see comedians at all. Jimmy told us to each do a solid twenty minutes, and not talk to them. He suggested we hit it hard and keep moving, as many of them would probably be upset about the schedule change. At least he told us.

   Thomas has been doing ships a lot longer than I have, even though we’re close to being the same age. I told him I’d rather he went last, only because he’s got a lot more practical experience on ships than I do, and he’ll be a solid anchor to close the show. All either of us wanted was what‘s best for the show, and that attitude helped us survive a tough spot.

   I had one song by the band to try to warm the crowd up, and then it was me. I could feel their attitude from the first few seconds I got out there, and to make it even harder, Jimmy sat in the front row listening to my every peep. He’s my immediate supervisor while I’m on the ship, and it was distracting knowing he was there. It was pure stress the whole set.

   I’ve been in the business long enough where I can pull out a show somehow, even if it’s not the quality I want to give. This was an extra tricky situation because I’d already used a lot of my material during the Welcome Aboard show on Sunday night when they asked us to go a little longer. I would have been a lot more careful had I known the circumstances.

   Also, I still had to do not one but TWO more shows in the comedy club, and they were being billed as being two completely different shows. That’s a lot of material, and I didn’t want to be in that position, but I was. Trying to please everybody is the best way to please nobody, so I just sucked it up and did my best. They warmed up, but it took them a while.

   It wasn’t the show of my life, and I wouldn’t submit it to The Tonight Show, but for the circumstances, it was nothing short of miraculous. Every single day of my experience was needed to pull this one off, and I was soaked with sweat at the end. My nerves were shot.

   Thomas Brown went up and did a magnificent job. It was totally the right call to let him close it out, and he pulled out a beautiful audience participation bit which for this specific evening was absolutely perfect. He gets three men out of the audience and gets them to be his backup singers, and of course they all screw it up and look like idiots. It worked great.

   I don’t have anything even close to that in my trick bag, and it was a perfect way to ease any frustrations there may be with people who didn’t get what they wanted. The people he brought up were the stars, and Thomas didn’t waste any of his material. I totally respected his tenure on the ships, and I told him afterward that bit saved the entire show - and it did.

   This is just a different animal than comedy clubs. Unfortunately, a bit like that would be looked down on as ‘hack’ in most clubs, even though the audience loved it. But, in a time like tonight it was just what the doctor ordered. These people aren’t comedy purists, they aren’t even necessarily comedy fans. They’re impatient cruisers who wanted soul music.

   That’s the reality of this whole game - we are NOT the main attraction. I knew it before, but tonight drove it home about ten times harder. We’re time killers and things to do after dinner for the passengers. We’re there to sell drinks - period. It sure keeps a guy humble.

    We had a second show in the main lounge at 9pm. These people were a lot looser than that first bunch, and there were more of them. The main lounge is a gorgeous room and I always love to work stages like that. It’s so big and beautiful it’s hard to believe it’s on a ship, but it is. If I had my way I’d work venues like that every night. It feels like showbiz.

   The second crowd was a lot better, but of course Jimmy didn’t watch that one. His view of my ability, whatever it is, came from the first show and that’s how it will stay with him for life. Funny how things like that work, but they do. Whenever someone asks him how I am as a comic, he’ll immediately remember the first show tonight and form his opinion.

   It’s like that guy last night that thought I sucked. I’m sure he’s not thinking about me at all, but if he ever does, his opinion won’t be flattering. That’s just how it is. Strangers can be very cruel judges, but I guess that‘s their right. They don’t know how hard this all is.

   Right after the second show upstairs, I had to get down to the comedy club for my 9:30 show. I came off one stage soaked and went up within five minutes on the other. I didn’t think any of the same people would see me, but halfway through my set I saw the lines of people trickle in to the comedy club who had just seen me upstairs. Gulp. More trouble.

   That meant I had to steer away from material I’d done upstairs, and that can get to be an impossible task on such short notice. I like to go with the flow, but this wasn’t the time or place for that. I had to focus with all my energy and I felt like I was an NFL quarterback.

   Being on stage requires lightning quick reflexes and a clear mind to make decisions in a split second. I ended up doing four shows tonight, and by the end of it I feel like I climbed Mt. Everest and ran a marathon after that. I sure earned every penny of my pay this week.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Dissatisfied Customer

Monday December 13th, 2010 - Somewhere At Sea

   Choppy Waters. Sounds like the long lost cousin of Muddy. It feels like the ship is in an enormous blender with the ‘puree’ button pressed, and most of the day today was just like most of last night - shaky. There are a pair of metal drawers under my bunk that slid open during the night and I got out of bed and sliced my right shin open on one of them. Ouch.

   It’s not quite bad enough for stitches, but it was bleeding pretty good for a while. I don’t need any medical expenses right now, but maybe I should at least consider a tetanus shot. I don’t want to have lock jaw as the cause of my death, even though it would be funny.

   Not thrilled with the first show tonight. I sense the passengers are a bit crabby and they did skew a little older than I’m used to out here. There were kids right up front too, which made it an even odder mix. They chatted during the whole show and I could hear them as clear as day. The older people were a little slow on the uptake so I tried to slow it down.

   That’s always difficult for me, but my usual rapid fire style wasn’t going to work in this situation. Plus, I burned extra material last night and I need to save what I’ve got for later in the week when I’ll need it in all the adult shows. I did the best I could with what I had.

   After the show, I was sitting at the bar with my glasses on and often times people do not recognize me as being the one who was just on stage. A well dressed guy said to his party in a boisterous tone, “Geez, I could’ve skipped THAT. Is that supposed to be FUNNY?”

   He was shaking his head as he walked right by me and looked me right in the eye as he passed. I don’t think he realized I was the guy on stage, but his party did and they looked down at the floor as they passed. I did have some people come up and shake my hand but the negative ones always stand out - especially when they’re that blatantly vocal about it.

   I don’t have a problem if someone doesn’t think I’m funny, I really don’t, but when they voice their opinion with such disdain I’m not going to lie - it hurts. A lot. That guy had no idea how much sacrifice went into what he saw, and if he didn’t like it he could have kept it to himself or at least waited to say it until he got out of the room. It really sank my boat.

   Judging by the way he was dressed, he probably had money. Maybe he inherited it from his old man, and everyone in his immediate circle thinks he’s a horse’s ass. He sure acted like it, but I guess that’s his right. He didn’t pay a cent to get in, and that’s the reason I’m against not having a cover charge. It’s easy to mock something that didn’t cost to get in.

   It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a person dislike me that strongly up close. It’s part of being an entertainer, but on the right night it can sting to the bone. This was that night, and it bothered me even into the later show where I kicked ass and took names. I brought it extra hard and pounded those people until they couldn’t breathe, partly because I liked them and partly to prove I belong here and can do the job. I got big applause at the end of my set, but in some cabin some oaf still thinks I stink. And that hurts worse than my shin.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Sea Monster

Sunday December 12th, 2010 - Tampa, FL

    Just when I thought I avoided all that nasty weather back home, it finds me at sea. It’s a different kind of nasty, but it’s still rocking our world in a scary way. The ship is battering into giant waves and bouncing all over the water. People are heaving like it’s a frat party.

   I’ve been ok so far, but it’s pretty scary to have the entire world from the floor up shake back and forth like an amusement park ride for hours at a time. There’s no place to go to get away from it, especially my cabin. I thought I was going to slice my ear off shaving as I waited for a few steady seconds, which never came. It would make a funny movie scene.

   Sunday night is normally the ‘Welcome Aboard’ show where the cruise director hosts a show which features a sample of what passengers can expect. There are usually some big dance numbers, but the dancers can’t perform when the seas are this rough. They could be injured, and I get that - but it meant we had to do an extra long comedy show to fill time.

   Both Thomas Brown and I are long time comedy veterans and can adjust to a particular situation well, but this was a challenge for both of us. The ship was all over the place and staying on stage in a single spot was difficult. I move around anyway, but tonight threw a curve every time the floor moved and I didn’t expect it. Fifteen minutes felt like forever.

   Not only that, it was fifteen minutes of material that’s now shot for the rest of the cruise because I won’t know who’s seen it and who hasn’t. That makes it extra tough, and it gets tougher as the week goes on. This ship likes us to mix up our material more than most of the other ships, and they like to bill every show as ‘totally new material’. I’d like that too.

   There’s a different vibe on this cruise from others I’ve experienced on this ship. This is a group that is a bit older on average than the last few, and that in itself is an adjustment. I don’t feel like I’m in the wheel house like I have in past weeks. This will take some work every show to adjust my material to give it the best chance of hitting with each audience.

   I don’t mind working, but I want to please the audiences in front of me no matter who it may be. That’s just not always realistic though. Most of the time I can pull something out they’ll like at least enough to get me by for that particular show. Once in a while though, I just don’t have anything in my tool box to pull out to fix it. They’re not into what I do.

   That’s how I felt when I first got out on the ships. I felt out of place and had to adjust an entire lifetime of experience in clubs to fit the variables that come with the cruise crowds. It’s been getting better and better, but this week may be a relapse. I’ve been warned that it gets a little tight during the holidays, as people often have lost loved ones or got divorced.

   I’m not going to read a whole lot into any of it right now. I’m just hoping we get out of this choppy water we’re in. I’m sure we will, but right now it knocked out the satellite for the TV and most of the channels are down. It’s a good thing I’ve got work to catch up on, and I’m not outside in the elements pooping a deck. This gig is NOT for the squeamish.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Marcus Dupree

Saturday December 11th, 2010 - Somewhere At Sea

   A sea day off. That means there are no shows to do and no ports to get off and explore. The ship heads back to Tampa and tomorrow this batch of passengers gets off and a new one gets on and the whole process starts over again. These days can be the most lonely.

   There isn’t much to do except sit around and kill the time. I chose to work on upgrading and improving my act for 2011, and even though I worked on it for three hours I still had a lot of time left over. The human attention span is only so long, and I maxed mine out.

   I took a  walk around the ship to get some exercise, and then came back to my cabin to discover an interesting documentary on TV I’d been meaning to watch about a guy named Marcus Dupree. He was a football phenom back in the early ‘80s. I remember him well.

   He was supposed to be the next big thing in football - a guaranteed can’t miss superstar. I remember he went to Oklahoma for a year, and then faded out of sight completely. Then he came back and signed with the USFL, and eventually had a very short run in the NFL.

   Allegedly he was one of the most gifted athletes ever, but he never came close to living up to his potential. Herschel Walker was another highly touted superstar, but he played in the NFL for several years and had a respectable career. Marcus Dupree quickly fizzled.

   I’d never seen him interviewed before, but they showed him today and he’s handled his situation a lot better than most others would have - myself included. He’s not bitter about anything, and accepts how his life worked out. He’s now driving a truck and works hard making an honest living. The guy has a fantastic attitude and I have total respect for him.

   He’s right around my age, and part of my generation. Every athlete from our generation is now finished, and we’re all old men longing for the past. Michael Jordan was born the same year I was, as was Charles Barkley. They’re now ‘old school’. It makes me wince.

   Bo Jackson was also born the same year I was. He was huge in his day, but now isn’t at the top of anyone’s mind anymore. Those guys are all has beens, while myself and almost every other person from our generation are a never was. Brett Favre is looked at now as a senior citizen, but he’s six years younger than me. My athletic days are LONG behind me.

   Marcus Dupree’s heyday was in his late teens and early 20s. He admits he made a lot of bad choices, but who doesn’t at that age? Hell, I still make them now. I felt bad for him as he told the old story of how a ‘friend’ mismanaged his money and a knee injury ended his career in one play, and before he knew it he was out of football and completely broke.

   There are a lot of athletes like that, but it really hits home when it’s a guy from my own generation. It reminds me I’m getting older too. I’m still waiting for my tiptoe through the tulips of glory, but it sure won’t be as an athlete. Not unless I join a senior bowling league or tiddlywinks tournament. I’m just a dung beetle comedian trying to earn an honest buck.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary