Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Ship Shank Redemption

Sunday February 27th, 2011 - Still Sailing

   It’s like the Ship Shank Redemption - one more day and I’m free from these four walls that bind so tightly. I hope. I guess there’s always the possibility of an unexpected glitch, but as of now I’m scheduled to be home by this time tomorrow and I couldn’t be happier.

   I tried to objectively answer what it is about these gigs I dislike so much, because all in all it was a tremendously upbeat experience. I’ve learned a lot, met some fantastic people and significantly improved myself as a standup comic in just a few short but hard months.

   A year ago, I’d never been on a cruise ship in my life. Now, I’m a seasoned veteran who can’t wait to get off. What went wrong? I’m not sure if anything did. I just find myself in desperate need of some time off to work on other things and recharge my travel batteries.

   These gigs are anything but easy. There are a lot of what seem like perks, but there are a lot more things that draw attention away from the fun stuff. For example, getting checked constantly from Immigration, Customs and airline security are a complete pain in the ass.

   Having to get to ships on time in foreign countries is a constant source of stress that I’m still not used to. Landing in some outdated airport and waiting in a long line to have some Customs agent rifle through my luggage is not part of the job title of comedian. Or is it?

   This kind of stuff goes with the territory, and if I don’t like it I don’t have to come back. The truth is I don’t like it even a little, but that’s not a reason to not come back. Money is the reason to keep coming back. Plain and simple. This is a gig to do for the paycheck.

   For me, it’s also for the improvement possibilities. I put more hard work into my shows in these last few months than I have in ten years. I used the time at sea to watch and learn, and I’ve made tremendous strides on stage and off. It was hard work, but it sure paid off.

   Still, I wanted to narrow down the exact cause of why these gigs are so painful and I’ve come up with the answer - it’s the cabins. That little room with (usually) no windows is a lot like what I imagine solitary confinement to be like in a penitentiary. It gets to a person, especially after time. The longer I’m out here, the lonelier those cabins become. It’s hell.

   I hope they’ll have me back, because I definitely would do it again, but I’d have to be in a mental groove before I said yes and prepare myself to be out here again. This time I was a greenhorn and learning the ropes, and even though I did get stuff done it wasn’t enough.

   I can’t be more thrilled to be going home tomorrow, but I’m not at all trashing anything about this experience, even the cabins. I got a chance to learn and experience and I didn’t burn a bridge or do anything stunningly stupid like I’ve been known to do in the past with situations I wasn’t fond of. I chose to hang in there and do my time, and I’m proud of my maturity in doing so. The old me might not have been so patient. Now, the smart thing to do is thank everyone for having me, not burn a bridge and go home and start work there.

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

A Texas Toast

Saturday February 26th, 2011 - Prowling The Gulf Of Mexico

   This week is turning out to be the cruise to nowhere. We lost a day at sea because of fog at the port in Galveston, so that means we won’t be able to make it to any ports of call for the rest of the trip. I’d heard we were going to try for Cozumel, but that didn’t work out.

   The passengers seem to be handing it extremely well. I haven’t seen anyone upset in the least, and they all had the opportunity to get off after the first night stuck in port and get a full refund if they chose. Those who’ve stayed are nice people who want to enjoy a cruise.

   I have to admit I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how outgoing and friendly the majority of Texans have been since I’ve been based out of the Galveston port these last few weeks. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but drunk and dumb wouldn’t have surprised me in the least.

     They’ve been anything but that, and I’m thrilled. Both the last two runs on the Conquest and now this one on the Ecstasy have been filled with friendly people who enjoy seeing a good show and aren’t afraid to tell you they had fun. I’d work for these people anytime.

   I hardly ever worked Texas in the clubs over the years. I never had to. I had all the work I needed and more in the Midwest whenever I was there, and whenever I had radio jobs it wasn’t an issue because I had to stay near whatever towns I lived in, nowhere near Texas.

   I used to work in El Paso, but it was never a hot bed for me. There are obviously a lot of Mexicans there, but they don’t beat down doors to come see gringos from Wisconsin they haven’t heard of and I can’t blame them for that. It’s all about who puts butts in the seats.

   And therein lies the problem I’ve never been able to solve. It’s the $64,000 question for anyone who can answer it correctly, and actually way more than that. What does it take to draw crowds to see a live performer?  I’ve been searching for that answer since I started.

   If there’s a crowd already there, I can go in and pull off a professional show more often than not. Getting them in there is a different story. I’ve tried all kinds of ways to fill seats including giving away free tickets, but the formula of what packs ‘em in is still a mystery.

   My mistake was thinking it would be the one who had the best act. Ha! How stupid was I to think that? And who’s to decide what the ‘best’ act is? Everybody has an opinion, and what it usually boils down to most often is a popularity contest. Who does a crowd like?

   I’m working this cruise with my friend ‘Just June’. Talk about someone who has what a crowd likes, it’s her. Wow. I don’t ever remember working with anyone with an ability to make crowds love her like she does. She just has that magic that attracts strangers to her.

   People come up when we walk through the ship and give her hugs, ask for pictures and then gawk at me like I just sneezed on their children. I shrug it off. I’ve only got a day of shows to go and then I’m headed home. If I could jump off the ship and swim, I would.

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

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Asleep At The Career

Friday February 25th, 2011 - Finally At Sea

   One of the most difficult things to maintain on the road is a consistent sleep schedule. It wasn’t an issue when I started, because I was young and able to absorb punishment like a rented mule. I could and did pull all nighters frequently, and never thought twice about it.

   Doing it two nights ago rocked my world. We had not one but two ‘Welcome Aboard’ shows to do last night, and I’ve never been asked to do that before. I only had to do a few minutes on each show, but I found myself yawning between jokes and ready to nod out.

   I don’t ever remember that happening before, and I took immediate notice. I know I am physically tired from all the road work I’ve been doing lately, but it’s more than that. I am mentally exhausted also. I’ve been at this road thing my whole life without any significant break, added to the fact that I’m getting older and the result is I’m just plum tuckered out.

   Not only that, it’s been a constant roller coaster of long drives and switching flights and less than healthy greasy road grub coupled with greasier cheap hotels with flimsy beds or worse yet, comedy condo couches. Even worse is trying to grab a couple hours of shuteye in the passenger seat of a car or on a plane. I don’t think humans were meant to do that.

   I’ll admit, I’m not bulletproof and it’s finally getting to me. I fell asleep after the shows last night and woke up at 8:00. I panicked for several seconds, because I wasn’t sure if it was 8am or 8pm. With no windows in my cabin to check, I thought I might have missed a show. I couldn’t tell if I was on foot or horseback, and that’s not good either. I’m a mess.

   I’ve been trying to exercise a little, but I think I need a lot more than that. I need to get a proper schedule and maintain it for a significant period of time to condition my body and try to make the best of whatever time I have left on this planet. Just because I never drank or did drugs doesn’t mean I didn’t abuse myself for a lot of years. Now I’m paying for it.

   I can’t imagine what it would be like if I did drink or do drugs, but I’ll have all kinds of my comic peers who will be able to tell me soon enough. The ‘80s were the big explosion of the comedy boom, and a lot of us who started then are still around today. I’m by far not the worst off, and there are a few that I can think of that should have been dead years ago.

   Good health really is a gift, and we don’t know how big a deal it really is until it’s gone. I can feel myself slipping slowly away from where I should be, and I need to stop it NOW or it won’t end well. I gave the road life a quarter century, now I need to wean off of it or if nothing else, a few months of a much lighter schedule is in order. I need to scale back.

   I’ve been thinking about what I want to do, and reaching out to people I want to develop teams with to accomplish goals. I’ll have someone to answer to, and not just wander with no solid direction like I’ve been doing most of my life. I know a lot of really great people, and it would mean a lot more building something meaningful with them than being out on the road toiling alone for people who couldn’t care less about me. It’s time to restructure.
   Everything is completely different from back when I started anyway, and I do mean everything. The comedy business is different, I’m a different and better (or at least more experienced) person and life itself has changed. The internet generation has created both challenges and opportunities for all of us. Reassessing is something we all need to do.

   Gone are the days when someone gets a job at age 18 and retires at age 65. Times were different then too, and I wonder how many of those people were actually happy? Maybe a life of too much structure is a bad thing too. I wouldn’t know, I’ve never experienced it.

   What I have experienced is the living of the dreams I had when I started in comedy, and not a lot of people can say that about anything they ever try. I really didn’t have anything I wrote down, and that’s probably why I didn’t go farther than I did. Still, I’ve done well.

   I had a picture in my mind when I was starting that I wanted to become a headliner and travel from coast to coast making a living as a comedian and nothing else. I wanted to get on national television as well and be like all the comedians I used to worship back on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson when I was a kid. Technically, I‘ve attained all of it.

   I do admit, a lot of it wasn’t like the mental brochure I wrote for myself, but I absolutely did do all the things I’d pictured and then some. I did make it to headliner, and a solid one at that. Even my enemies will say I’m a strong comic, and it’s not an issue. I also played a lot of big time places from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to major clubs from NY to LA.

   Radio was a surprise direction, and if you had told me when I started I’d be on morning shows in Lansing, 93QFM in my home town of Milwaukee, Reno, Salt Lake City and the legendary Loop in Chicago, I would have given up any inner organ you wanted to make it happen. I didn’t expect any of those, and again it was something most people never get.

   I did have some rough spots in there too, and working Negaunee, MI and Spearfish, SD were never on my dream list - but I did do those and hundreds more. The fact is, I carried out my initial dream and made it happen over and over and over again, and now I need to find something new to focus on and make both a bigger and much clearer dream to chase.

   The reason I never took comedy any farther was because I didn’t dream big enough. It’s a common problem with many, and I admit it stunted my career growth. I also had a lot of other problems to overcome, but I’ve really done a lot to work through those also. I’m the very best edition of myself I’ve ever been, and it’s time to reboot, reshuffle and reinvent.

   What is it I want this time? That’s a good question, almost too good to answer. It’s easy to look back on comedy and see what went wrong to the point of overlooking the several things that went extremely right. Too late to fix the bad stuff, the cement has hardened.

   Whatever direction I do go, I want to spend the rest of my life giving and helping others have a better life. I know that sounds corny, but I mean it. Yes, this is a planet filled with idiots, but that’s not all that’s here. There are good people too, and I want to find them all.

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

Friday, February 25, 2011

Culture Club

Thursday February 24, 2011 - Houston, TX/Galveston, TX

   The endurance test continues. I ended up pulling an all nighter getting caught up on all the emails I couldn’t answer on the ship last week. The hotel had free wi-fi, so I took full advantage and cranked it out. Too bad it took until 5:50am to finish, but at least it‘s done.

   My shuttle from the hotel in Houston to the port in Galveston was scheduled to leave by 7am, so that means I was ready by 6:30. I get paranoid about missing transportation since it’s my responsibility to get to the gig on time. Being packed and in the lobby is a must.

   I was there, and so were about 30 other people of all nationalities who were going to be living on the ship for various contracts of several months at a time. The makeup of ethnic diversity in the work place on a cruise ship is about as wide spread as I have ever seen.

  It’s a smorgasbord of colors and cultures collected into a common place and people live and work without any racial dustups, at least not that I’ve ever seen. Someone told me on a ship recently there were 37 different nationalities represented with on board employees.

   I think I’d have a hard time even naming that many countries off the top of my head, so I was pretty impressed. I try to be nice to everyone, so when I pass people on deck I smile and nod and try to at least acknowledge their presence on the planet as a fellow human.

   It’s got to be lonely as hell for those people. I have a hard enough time lasting through a couple of weeks, and I’m on the upper end of the food chain. I get my own cabin, and I’m paid extremely well for the amount of actual work I have to do. These people have to peel potatoes and mop floors and make beds and wash dishes…over and over and over again.

   And, they have to double up in a cabin…for months at a time. My life isn’t so bad when I think of that, and I have to admit it did cheer me up a little. It could always be worse and I’m grateful for what I have - even though I’m still glad I’ll be going home in a few days.

   The shuttle ride to the ship was postponed due to a foggy port, and we ended up waiting until 11:30 for the bus to come get us. I did two crossword puzzles and caught up on USA Today from cover to cover but there was nothing any of us could do but shut up and wait.

   Our trip was about an hour, and I sat next to a very nice Croatian guy who had so many consonants in his name he could have put Wheel of Fortune out of business if they used it as a puzzle. He was a waiter, and is just coming from six months on another ship. He had a lot of stories that made me even more grateful I have the job I have. Life isn’t that bad.

   This is all a big adventure, and I’m not going to let the parts I don’t like cloud the fact I really am glad I was able to do it. The good outweighs the bad, and the experience of it all has made it one of the most memorable things I’ve ever done. I’m going to finish up these last few days and give it all I’ve got, but I’m not going to lie and say I won’t be thrilled to get back home either. Adventures don’t have to last forever. It’s time to live a new one.

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

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Long And Grueling

Wednesday February 23rd, 2011 - Grand Cayman Island/Atlanta, GA/Houston, TX

   Another long grueling day in transit, and it was everything I’d expected -  especially the long and grueling part. I knew it was coming so I put my brain on cruise control and let it all play out without fighting it. I knew I’d be waiting in lines all day and dealing with any number of various imbeciles, morons, halfwits and dingle berries. I was prepared for war.

   This is the part of the business nobody ever expects, and it becomes bigger as time goes on because it’s a constant part of every day. The lines I waited in today I’ve waited in lots of times before on lots of different trips, but they don’t mean anything today. That’s what makes it so frustrating. I know I’m not a terrorist, but they insist on checking me anyway.

   There was a port change this week due to foggy weather, and I ended up having to get a flight out of Grand Cayman rather than the originally scheduled Montego Bay, Jamaica. It came on short notice, and the office had to change not only my flight but several others as well. That has to be a nightmare, but they always come through and work it out somehow.

   I give them major props for pulling it off, but the ship’s office accidentally printed out a travel itinerary from Montego Bay. Honest mistake, easy to do. Too bad the Immigration officer in Grand Cayman didn’t see it that way. He must have taken twenty minutes to get my paperwork done, then quizzed me numerous times as to why I was flying from there.

   There were people behind me in line, and they weren’t thrilled to have to wait, but I did everything the guy asked including opening my bag three different times for a plethora of agents to ransack my soiled funky grundies looking for weapons grade plutonium, animal porn, subversive documents or whatever else they were scouring for. They found nothing.

   Then it was to the cab, and it got stuck in traffic just as the air conditioner blew. We sat for half an hour sucking exhaust fumes and getting soaked, but there was no alternative so why bitch? It’s freezing in Chicago, so that’s what I focused on as my genitals stewed in a hot humid tropical trouser gravy that made me want to jump out of the cab and hoof it.

   The rest of the day consisted of  typical dealings with the security apes measuring all of my liquids to make sure I wasn’t going to shaving cream somebody to death and fondling my inner thighs looking for either a bazooka or the financial records of Hosni Mubarek.

   And, on three flights I didn’t have anything close to an attractive woman sit within five rows of me. I got a snoring grandma, a surfer dude and an Asian lady with her baby but at least it didn’t scream. It did fill a diaper, but it only smelled bad for a few minutes before she politely went into the bathroom and changed it. I gave her a wide smile of gratitude.

   I don’t have my cell phone this week so I had to find first a change machine, then a pay phone and call the hotel to send the shuttle, which they miraculously did considering their phone person spoke little English. All in all, not a horrible day. I was mentally ready for it and now it’s over, but not really. I have to be up for a 7am shuttle to start it all over again.

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

Low On Gas

Tuesday February 22nd, 2011 - Somewhere At Sea

   I am totally running out of gas with the whole ship thing and the road in general. This is the last night of this part of the run and I couldn’t be any more delighted. I had two shows tonight on the Carnival Conquest, then I’ll fly to Houston by way of Atlanta tomorrow for a short night in a hotel before getting on a 7am shuttle to Galveston to board the Ecstasy.

   Then I’ll have a four day run on the Ecstasy, performing a total of five shows on two of those days yet to be determined. It could be the first two days I get there, then I’ll be stuck with two more sea days with no ports to explore. I just got through doing two consecutive sea days on the Conquest, and I’ve had just about all the time alone in a cabin I can stand.

   This is really an endurance contest, and I’m just tired right now. The people at Carnival have been extremely friendly to work with, and I have no complaints there at all. I have a very high opinion of the cruise director on the Conquest. His name is Chris Jefferson and he’s not only an outstanding people person, he’s also a dynamic host and great performer.

   He was low pressure all week and very friendly, as was Sammy the host of the comedy club. He’s from Trinidad/Barbados and has one of the most unique accents ever. We had fun with it, and the audiences seemed to like all the shows. On paper, it was a great week.

   Unfortunately, life isn’t lived on paper. It boils down to timing. Had I been able to have a solid week like this when I started just a few months ago, I would have been overjoyed. Now, it’s a matter of being able to hang in there for the long haul. I’ll admit, I’m pooped.

   All the ships start to look the same, and it just isn’t fun after a while. I’m not one to get in trouble, so that’s a major plus. If I were, I probably would have gone on a spree by now and gotten myself fired. So far, so good. I’ve been able to keep my job for the time being.

   Working with Mark Hawkins has been a huge perk too, even though he’s put my whole act through the meat grinder so many times I can now drink it out of a juice glass. It’s not pleasant to get cut up like that, but it will make me a better comedian in the long run, and that’s all that matters. This life is not for the weak on many levels, and it takes a big toll.

   I wish I were flying back to Chicago tomorrow, even if there is a fresh blasting of snow to plow through. I can handle that. I just want to be home and get to work on all those fun projects I’ve been neglecting while I’ve been out here at sea earning a buck to survive.

   It’s all a game, and money is a big part of it. The ships have been great for that, and I’m totally grateful for the opportunity. I’ve also become a significantly better performer from working on the ships and I can’t forget that and don’t. It has not been without its benefits.

   I’m just worn out right now. These next few days will be a big test, and I don’t intend to make any waves. I just want to do quality shows, not bother anyone and fly home in peace to quietly pick up where I left off. I guess money doesn’t guarantee happiness after all.

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

The World At Its Worst

Monday February 21st, 2011 - Somewhere At Sea

   The rest of the world appears to be drowning in severe turmoil and chaos, but my little obscure corner of it is holding up just fine. Not only did I deliver three super solid shows this evening, I also found quality time to exercise, eat well and work on some projects.

   In theory, it should be like that every day. I wish it were that easy. It was a major effort to focus and get all those things done, but I did it. I forced myself. Did I want to eat a big bowl of salad? Of course not. I wanted grease, lard, sugar and preservatives as per usual.

   Who doesn’t? It’s hard to eat right, especially when all the rotten stuff is so accessible. And it’s not rotten, it’s DELICIOUS. If pastrami were a health food, I’d be Jack LaLanne. Would it be healthier if I drank it out of a blender? Nope. I’m screwed. I love greasy grub.

   Today I ate well, and actually enjoyed it. I don’t claim to be cured of my love of all that can clog an artery, but for one day I gave my aorta a rest. Should I still happen to have my big league stage three lights out grabber, I can’t say it wasn’t deserved. My diet is a mess.

   A few days good and a few weeks or months bad can’t last forever. Far from it. I’m sure my arteries could use a scrape right now. Hopefully I can find the strength to keep this up on a consistent basis, but all I had was today. So far, so good. Tomorrow? Who knows?

   Maybe that grabber wouldn’t be so bad after watching CNN most of the day and sorting through all the disasters happening at once. The Middle East countries are all pissed off at their leaders, earthquakes devastated New Zealand and The Philippines, yet another giant blizzard is burying several states and my home state of Wisconsin is claiming to be broke.

   None of this is good, but it keeps on coming. What about the earthquake in Haiti? They still haven’t dug themselves completely out of that one, and they were doing badly before it hit. How much help will they get now with all these new places needing outside help?

   I guess I’m just not seeing the reasons for the way life works. Where is God? I’m sorry, but I have less and less faith every day. I wish I didn’t feel this way, but I do. This whole damn planet is coming unscrewed, and nothing is on the horizon to fix it any time soon.

   I really hope this is my last pass through this stupidity based regime, and if we do live again I hope I end up far away from here. Maybe this is like doing time in Vietnam for a reincarnating soul, and whatever lessons I’m supposed to learn I hope I pass the exam.

   I don’t think I could feel any less significant. Here I am busting my popo trying to make a few hundred people on a cruise ship laugh, and actually succeeding.  But - governments all over the world are teetering on the brink of overthrow and millions are in real danger.

    I might as well eat bloody steaks and hot fudge sundaes. Maybe it will shorten some of my sentence on this maniacal marble of misery. There has to be a better place somewhere.

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

As My Cabin Gently Shrinks

Sunday February 20th, 2011 - Galveston, TX

   Four days into the trip, and this is when my cabin starts to shrink. It’s small enough as it is, but being in it over three days gets to be tough. There’s nowhere to go, but I want to be anywhere but inside these four walls - even if it does have a port hole. It feels like prison.

   This is the part of this gig that makes it such a challenge. If I don’t come up with a rigid list of things to do, I’m screwed. I’ll just lay around most of the day to divert my attention away from the boredom of sitting in my cabin. That’s not productive, and not fun either.

   I totally see where vices could pass the time better, and I’m thankful I don’t have any of those to worry about. If I drank, it would be easy to bathe my loneliness in hooch and I’m sure some people do exactly that. It’s not the answer I seek. I need to work through it, and use all this down time as an opportunity to work uninterrupted and develop my projects.

   There’s plenty of time for reading and plenty of time for writing too. I try to bring a few books with me each time I come out, and get through as much of them as I can. This time I brought a book about Wally Amos, the guy who branded himself as ‘Famous Amos’ and then lost his own name in court when he sold his cookie company. His story interests me.

   What would I do if I had to completely start over and not be able to use ‘Mr. Lucky’ as a moniker? Would I be wiped out? Unfortunately, no I wouldn’t. I really haven’t done as much with that title as I could, and I’ve never been able to get famous with it. Wally did with his cookies, and then had to start over from scratch. That takes guts and I respect it.

   Can lightning strike twice? I think it can, depending on the person. If someone believes in their abilities and is willing to take calculated risks, I see no reason why success can’t happen an infinite amount of times - at least in theory. I want to experience it once first.

   I really haven’t had that one big run that people dream of. Not yet, anyway. Every time I was up for it, something happened and it got smeared like an ant hill. I thought I had a big radio run coming on The Loop, and we were almost there, but we got fired in about a year into it right as we were starting to take off. That would’ve been a great run had is lasted.

   It may have been local, but Chicago is a good place to be a local celebrity. It’s a big city all the way, and I’d have been financially secure about now, probably for life the way I’m able to live like a cockroach and like it. That one still hurts, but it’s over and that’s that.

   There are no guarantees for anything, and I know that. I took a calculated risk and it was a good one at the time, even though it eventually blew up in my face. The cruise ship gigs pay ok, but they’re not the kind of success run I’m talking about. It’s not a career maker.

   So ok, what is then? I’ve got all this time to develop something that IS my big entrance, so it’s time to shut up and get it done. It could be a book, script, course or all of the above in some form or another. I’ve got eight more days on this trip to hack away at something.


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

Unpleasant Growth

Saturday February 19th, 2011 - Somewhere At Sea

   No shows tonight, but I still ended up working all day. The process it takes to maintain a standup comedy career can never ever be called ‘finished‘. There’s way too much to do on way too many levels, and it all needs to be maintained. Between onstage development of character and material, to offstage business skills and contacts, it’s a constant drain.

   Nobody is good at everything, so it’s always a challenge to maintain any sort of balance between what we excel at and what we don’t. It’s human nature to seek pleasure and stay away from pain, but that’s not the true way to grow correctly. The real key is to dig in and not only work at the weaknesses to make them strengths, but also improve the strengths.

   I’m working with Mark Hawkins again this week, and I’m glad. I think. He’s a nice guy personally, but professionally he can be a major league ball buster - and I like it. Well, it’s not so much that I like it, but I need it. No, it’s not that either. I could survive without it.

   What makes Mark so good to work with is, he’s got no history with me and can go right to whatever in my act needs to be ripped to shreds and do it surgically without having any personal agendas attached to it. He doesn’t sugar coat anything, but I know he’s offering a fair and honest critique from the point of view of both a comic and an ex cruise director.

   That’s a rare opportunity, and I’m going to take full advantage of it whenever I can, and that’s now. In the long run it’ll make me a better comic, but in the short run getting a joke or bit ripped apart can sting a little - especially when it gets laughs. But I know he’s right.

   I really respect Mark’s work ethic, as he busts his ass writing every day for his own act. His father is a big time sportswriter in Detroit, and Mark probably learned from him to do his due diligence and pay attention to detail, which he’s great at. He’s anal by admission, but that’s a good thing. He’s got computer files with set lists that go back several years.

   I don’t know if I’ll ever get to that level, but I do know I’ve already grown since the last time we worked only a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been way more aware of what I want to do onstage before I do it, whereas my old style was to just let things flow as I felt like it.

   That’s not always bad either, it’s more of a free form jazz style. When it works, it’s very effective. But when it’s off - yikes. Everyone has off nights, but when the free form isn’t working it’s nice to be able to pull out something well structured and let it save the day.

   Mark and I exchanged bit ideas and notes from watching each other’s shows in the last couple of days. I added a couple of lines to his stuff that made him laugh, and I could tell he’ll use them. That’s another thing, he’s not too proud to have to use only his own ideas.

   He wants to have the best joke, and I’m the same way. Running things past others gives more opportunities to find them. We spent a long time working on this, and we were both a little tired when it was over. But, it’s an off day and this was a productive way to use it.

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

Pitching vs. Throwing

Friday February 18th, 2011 - Cozumel, MX

   Five shows down, ten to go - not counting the ‘Welcome Aboard’ five minute teaser for Sunday night. They sure do keep us busy, but that’s not a bad thing. If I’m on the road I’d much rather work a lot than rot in my cabin with nothing to do. This way is much better.

   I’m putting more effort into preparing for these shows than I ever have in my life at any time, even when I was starting out. I’ve never been a meticulous preparer like some, only because I didn’t have to be. I was always able to take funny ideas and work them into bits on stage because I had solid natural instincts. I could always get enough laughs to survive.

   Looking back, how ballsy but stupid that was. I wish I’d had the experienced me now to throttle that lazy punk kid in the face and get him to put in the effort of proper preparation because my whole career would have benefited tremendously. It’s only now that I get it.

   Athletes are the same way. I’ve read a lot of stories about baseball pitchers that used to throw 100 miles an hour and didn’t have to worry about a thing. Their natural ability was what got them by - for a while at least. It was only after they lost it did they have to learn to transform from a thrower to a pitcher. Pitching is a craft, and takes a lifetime to learn.

   I’m now becoming a pitcher, and can see how much work is involved in taking standup comedy to the master level I see myself attaining. This is where it’s easy to get in my own way, and I’ve had a knack for doing that over the years. A plan is more crucial than ever.

   Right now I’m working on expanding my act and improving my stage show as much as humanly possible. After all these years it’s hard to really ramp it up, only because I’ve got so much stage time under my belt. I’ve already developed myself into a seasoned comic.

   The truth is, as far as the business part of comedy goes, I’m funny enough to last for the rest of my life. If I never wrote another joke I could continue to squeak out a living for the foreseeable future, and I’ve made it farther than probably 90% of people who ever step on a stage make it. I wouldn’t have embarrassed myself, and in the end I‘d have ‘made it‘.

   Unfortunately, that’s not good enough for me. I want to take comedy to new heights and really blow people away, audiences and peers alike. In the end, it’s ME I want to blow out of the water. I want to impress myself, but I’m the toughest audience there is. I’m a bitch.

   That’s a tough pickle to find myself after all this time. Where I lack severely is business sense and promotion. I know that. That’s where my focus needs to be if I want to raise my pay scale, but I also want to take my product to the next level just so I’ll be proud of what I’m doing on stage. It’s a Catch 22 and I’m looking for a way to find the happy medium.

   The shows this week were quite solid, so that’s a positive start. Last night was my three show night and tonight it was two. I worked in new material and the flow felt good, even though it will take months to polish it all up. This is the craft. I’m a pitcher, not a thrower.

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

Friday, February 18, 2011

Same Old Same Old

Thursday February 17th, 2011 - Chicago, IL/Miami, FL/Grand Cayman Island

   Back on the big boat. It would be a lot easier if it didn’t take so many steps to get there. Once again, I had to make it to O’Hare Airport for a 5:45am flight to Miami. Then, it’s an hour layover between my connecting flight to Grand Cayman and of course that gate is all the way on the other side of the airport so I have to walk to the tram that takes me there.

   Then, it’s waiting in line to get on the plane, taking the flight, then waiting again for the lines in Immigration and Customs. Then it’s waiting in line at the cab stand to flag down a taxi to take me to the ship so hopefully I’ll make it on time and it doesn’t strand me in a foreign country with no gig and no way home. I’ve almost missed a ship more than once.

   Today’s cab driver was a very nice lady, but if her cab ran like her mouth it would never need a tune up. Wow, could that woman talk, and it was non stop from the airport right to the port. I might have gotten three words in telling her where I was going, but that’s it.

   By this time, I’m hot and sweaty and all I want is to get on the ship and take a nice cool shower and nap before the show. Nope. I still have to visit the Immigration office to drop off my documentation and get clearance to enter the port area to wait for a tender ship.

   I have to show my passport to the security person at the gate, and he shows me where to get on the tender boat which takes me to the actual ship which I can see parked in front of me, but not near a dock. It takes a while for the tender boat to fill up, but it eventually will and then it’s another ride to get to the Carnival Conquest. Then, it’s a line to disembark.

   It just gets to me after a while, and I know I’m not the only one. I’ve heard it from quite a few others who hate it too, but this is how it is. It goes with the territory and that’s that. Once or twice isn’t bad, but EVERY SINGLE WEEK of jumping through these hoops is maddening. Something always goes wrong in the chain somewhere, and it’s a nightmare.

   My major malfunction today was I forgot my phone in my car at Jim McHugh’s house. I parked my car in his neighbor’s driveway and loaded my luggage into Jim’s car for the ride to the airport. I double and triple checked my passport, but I forgot about the phone.

   This kind of stuff just happens. It’s 3am and I’ve got all kinds of minutia dancing inside my brain, and I’m trying to remember everything. It’s a major wonder I do as well as I do, and once in a while things slip through the cracks. This was one, and now I’m phoneless.

   No, it’s not the end of the world, but it is inconvenient. I can’t use it at sea, but I will be in port for a couple of days and I’ll miss it then. It’ll have to wait, and I’ll get it when I get home. Keys, wallet, phone. Keys, wallet, phone. I check them but this still happens. Ugh.

   Finally, I was able to get on board and get my cabin. Miracle of miracles, there’s even a window this time! It’s a small port hole, but I’ll take it. That’ll make a big difference as it allows me to at least know if it’s day or night. Here we go - another stint on the high seas.

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

Movie Script In Motion

Wednesday February 16th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   More last minute preparation before heading off to the ship tomorrow. I’d be lying like a politician if I said I was looking forward to it, even a little bit. Yes, the weather is warm, but that’s about it. Most of the next eleven days will be a test of my ability to keep myself busy and not dive off the boat due to boredom. I’m going to use it as my personal retreat.

   Life is going well right now. Many of the changes that I thought about, I brought about - or are in the process of doing so. I’m still shaky in some areas, but as a whole I’m starting to make positive strides in many facets of life. Why let ships take my momentum away?

   I’ll make the most of this work as long as I can, and see what evolves. I like working for Carnival, and don’t see myself looking for work on other cruise lines. It’s not the issue of which company I work for, it’s the sea life in general. I still wonder if I‘m cut out for it.

   That’s not the kind of thing I want to be wondering, especially at this age. I’ve paid a lot of dues, and now I’m looking for fun and money as my payoff. The money is nice, but it’s definitely not easy. This is hard work, and I earn every penny I make out here. That’s fine, but at some point I’m going to want to take it easy, at least a little. Life is to be enjoyed.

   I’m going to focus on enjoying these next eleven days, but also knuckling down to work on a system to keep land projects building no matter where I am. I’ve been meeting with a lot of people lately in hopes of delegating my tasks from out here much like a gang leader still runs the gang’s business from prison. If I do it correctly, it won’t matter where I am.

   I made a special point to call Rick Kaempfer today and rekindle the bank robbery movie script that’s been sitting around long enough now. Maybe it was the Packers’ Super Bowl victory or maybe it’s just time, but that project has really been gnawing at my mind lately.

   As painful as it was to live through, it’s a fantastic story and everyone who’s ever heard it has been fascinated. I know I’m too close to it to be objective, so I hired Rick to put his experienced eyes to the story and help make it sellable. He did a fantastic job, and without his help I couldn’t have gotten it this far. Now it’s time to push it over the top and sell it.

   My gut says this is the time to start shopping it, so I will. I wasn’t planning on it with all the other things I’ve got going on right now, but I don’t want to argue with that little inner voice. It always seems to know what it’s doing. I won’t argue, I’ll get it out there ASAP.

   My friend Sheri Johnson is one of the people I’ve been talking to about handling some of the personal manager type tasks I need done, and she suggested she’d like to pass it on to a friend of hers who sold some science fiction movie scripts recently and is doing well.

   What can it hurt? Rick registered our script with whomever he needed to register it and he said I can go ahead and start passing it around to people I know. Consider it passed. It feels good to get that project moving again, and it is. Bring on the sea - I’m ready to sail.

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

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Plates Spinning

Tuesday February 15th, 2011 - Kenosha, WI

   I’m getting ready to head back out to sea, and am starting to get moving on getting work done before I go. Nothing is better than a deadline to get things done, and I find I can take care of a lot of things right before I head out for an extended trip. Whatever it takes is ok.

   The best ideas without execution are totally worthless. If I don’t find a way to make the best use of my limited time and get more organized, I’ll not get to half the ideas I’d like to get to before I call it a life. I’m in motion, but not necessarily going the fastest I can go.

   One call I made today was to Eddie Horn Jr. Eddie was one of my comedy students way back when, and he’s loaded with energy and creativity. He makes world class puppets for the fun of it, and has been interested in Uranus Factory Outlet since I mentioned it to him.

   He’s been on my case to work some kind of puppets into the mix, and I totally agree it’s a different angle that would stand out even more. I’ve been meaning to call him, but today was the day and he was overjoyed that I did. He’s been waiting for this, and I’ll find some time on the ship to come up with a few ideas to get this going. This is a must do project.

   I’ve let it sit dormant yet again, and lost any momentum I may have built. I refuse to let the project die, and will force myself to get back in the driver’s seat and get it restarted in the next little while. The key is to have other people ready to work on it while I’m gone.

   I also heard from my web person for the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ project and he worked up a prototype website which looks good. I can see a few changes, but it’s basically the way I pictured it. This is all part of the process, and I’m starting to see some things come to life.

   Tonight was ‘movie night’ at director Mark Gumbinger’s house in Kenosha, WI. I’m in his circle of people to invite, and I really enjoy it. Lou Rugani is usually there too with the person who played his wife in Mark’s last movie ‘Dead Air’, Carol, who’s also a caller to The Mothership Connection radio show on WLIP. It’s a network of Kenosha area friends.

   I actually like Kenosha very much and wouldn’t mind living there even if I had big cash and could live anywhere. The people are very friendly and the location is right in between Chicago and Milwaukee, where I have a lot of other old friends and business connections.

     Mark and I spoke of filming an upcoming comedy show, and trying to sell it to Comedy Central or HBO or anywhere else that would buy it. Stupid me, why haven’t I been trying to do exactly that in the last few years? I know I’m just another white guy comedian in an inexhaustible supply, but if I don’t make the attempt to get seen, I’ll never have a chance.

   I’ve got some new material from working the ships, and if nothing else, my act is WAY tighter than it was before or probably has ever been. I should be working on nailing a nice video to open some doors and get me to that higher level. Again, now I have something to work on between shows on the ship. Lots done today, but I’ll really be busy on that ship.

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

Valentine's Views

Monday February 14th, 2011 - Kenosha, WI/Island Lake, IL

   Valentine’s Day can be a brutal reminder of just how lonely one soul can feel in a world rocked with insanity, chaos and pain. There’ve been times I’ve felt like ending it all with a bullet, rope or pill pile, hoping to reboot and wake up with a fresh set of circumstances.

   This isn’t one of those times. Actually, I feel pretty good about myself and my situation with women right now. I’m in a fantastic position to be in a great relationship with a lady I want to spend quality time with, and like everything else it’s taken a lifetime to get here.

   Who doesn’t want to have an exciting and attractive life partner to share the journey on this plane with? I know it’s something I’ve always wanted, and just thought it would drift my way just like a perfect comedy career would. I must have been a complete moron in a past life to believe any of that, and all of it has gone as oppositely as I could ever imagine.

   It’s only now at this late stage of the game that I’ve even felt close to being ready to put myself in a position to be in a healthy relationship with a woman that’s not a battlefield of dysfunction like virtually every relationship I’ve ever seen around me in my family’s past.

   I’ve always been scared to death of repeating the same mistakes my parents did, and am not ashamed to admit it. I didn’t know how to deal with my bubbling anger about a lot of things, and surely didn’t want to add a wife much less kids into that recipe for disaster.

   It didn’t help that I chose THE most difficult career that included being gone constantly either. I knew early on I wasn’t ready to be a husband, father or even boyfriend because of a complete lack of preparation. If my own life was in shambles, how could I date others?

   Every example around me was a flaming flop. My grandparents who raised me divorced when I was 12, and it was very ugly. They hadn’t grown in the same direction and nothing they did made each other happy. Love did NOT conquer all, and my Grandpa used to talk openly about it with me - hoping I’d avoid the problems he’d had. He wasn’t ready either.

   Gramps admitted his mistake, and later in life tried to make up for it. He wanted it to be with Grandma, but that didn’t work out. He always had girlfriends all over, even up to the very end. He knew how to play that game, and play it well he did. He was a love monkey.

   Gramps loved women and knew how to charm the pants off of them. Literally. He had a flair for romance in his goofy old time way, and loved to be a rooster in the hen house. He had all kinds of women around him, and he told me it was like a baseball team having the farm system in place to develop talent. If the main thing didn’t work out, have options.

   I never had a main thing, just because I never thought I was ready for it. A lot of people have accused me of being gay over the years, but that’s totally untrue. If I were, I’d admit it. Plus, I’d dress a lot better and would probably be able to dance and/or cook. I love the company of women as a rule, and a lot of them seem to like me back. That’s a good thing.

      The bad thing is, I’ve missed out on a number of total sweeties over the years that could have made great girlfriends, with a wife or two thrown in there too. Every time I felt even a little like the stars were aligning, I’d break it off. I always blamed it on my career, but in reality it was because I was afraid of having any kind of close relationships with anyone.

   People have always told me I can be very distant, and I guess that’s just how I am. I put up walls around my heart and inner feelings, mainly because I’ve been stomped on by the people that are supposed to be closest to me. I admit it, and am not looking for sympathy.

   That’s just how it worked out. It hurt a lot, and sometimes still does. That hurt produces anger when it festers, and boy did I have my share of that for a long time. I guess some of it is still there, but nowhere near what it was, and I can finally start to see how it all fits.

   I’m not the only one with these problems, and that’s why every imbecile and their uncle puts the word doctor in front of their name and claims to be an expert. Dr. Ruth, Dr. Phil, Dr. Frankenstein, the list goes on forever. A lot of people are hurting and looking for easy answers to deep rooted problems just like I’ve had. None of this is easy, but it does exist.

   Part of me is SO glad I reacted to my situation the way I did. I could have easily gotten married had I really pursued it, and maybe even had a trouser sprout or two along the way to throw some gasoline on the fire. I’ve seen it happen to a lot of friends of mine, and it’s a shame because the whole thing goes sour and the kids take the brunt of the most pain.

   There are a lot of people hurting out there, and thinking about it too long can be a major source of misery and depression. I’ve let it get to me over the years, but now I’m feeling a change of attitude. I guess it’s a part of my own personal evolution, but I definitely feel it.

   I hear people say they can’t change the past and they have no regrets. Not me. I have so many regrets, I bet I could write a whole book of them. Someone pissed in the bucket that held my bucket list, and it blurred a few of the things on it to the point of hurting my life.

  That’s all over now, but I’m still here. I may not be rich or famous or handsome or what I think would attract the woman of my dreams, but I am me and I’m finally learning to be comfortable in that role. I really do like myself and am accepting of my faults more than I ever have been. I may not be Brad Pitt, but I’m not Ted Bundy either. I’ve got a chance.

   There are several women in my life right now I find myself really enjoying spending my time with. I love to flirt and text and have lunch or dinner or hang out and I find the walls that have always been there start to crack a little. If they don’t, I’ll be alone my whole life and I don’t want that either. I guess I’m just a little biscuit that took a long time to bake.

   This is all part of a very good direction I see myself going. I had lunch with one woman and dinner with another, and I like them both very much. Where is it going? I don’t know, but I wasn’t alone on Valentine’s Day like so many people are and I’ve been myself in the past. I’m really starting to learn lessons in many facets of life. I hope that’s why I’m here.

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

Monday, February 14, 2011

Understanding Oversleeping

Sunday February 13th, 2011 - Frankfort, KY/Toledo, OH/Kenosha, WI

   I blew it. I was supposed to get up and start driving at 4am, but I rolled over and drifted right back to sleep. That happens once in a while, and today was one of those whiles. I’ve been away from the road grind for a while, and it shows. Sleep won out over stress relief.

   It would have been a lot less stressful to give myself a cushion of time to make it up to Kenosha, WI to be on The Mothership Connection radio show on WLIP, but I decided to get some rest as I hadn’t been sleeping well the last few nights. The road can be brutal in that way. Every night there’s a different bed in a different hotel with different features.

   Some are soft, some are hard, some are big, some are small. Every pillow is different as well, and it’s a wonder any of us get to sleep at all. It’s almost impossible to nod right out after performing, especially after a hot show (or shows). The lingering adrenaline pulsates through the veins and my brain feels like a blender stuck on ‘puree’. That lasts for hours.

   After a bad show, I often get deeply lost in reading or television and find myself staying up even later. Both situations make it extremely difficult to pop out of bed the next day to drive several hundred miles home. That’s one advantage rock stars have over comedians.

   Bands have a tour bus and someone else drives it. I am my own tour bus driver and also scheduler too. That’s about the last thing I want to do after performing, and even less after a whole week of driving after performing, but that old Cadillac isn’t going to drive itself.

   Tim Rowlands was sleeping too, and he didn’t call me at 4am like we agreed. He hadn’t slept well either this week, so I guess that’s how it worked out. Two old road dogs needed to get some rest, so we left a lot later than scheduled. Maybe we would have gotten into a wreck or hit a deer or who knows what? Still, it made the trip home a lot more of a chore.

   It was 300 miles dead on the dot to drop Tim off in Toledo, and then another 332 to get to Kenosha for the radio show. I drove west on US 20 as the sun was setting and sensed a symbolic feeling that my road days are coming to an end but quick. It’s hard to let it all go after a lifetime of doing it, but it’s time. I just don’t feel like these long drives anymore.

   My desire to perform is still there, but back when I was all over the road it was for a lot of reasons that no longer exist. I wanted to see and experience new places, which I have - all over  North America. I also wanted to get in with new bookers, and I’ve done that too.

   I needed experience in both life and comedy, and now I’ve got that oozing out of every part of my being. I did everything I set out to do, and it was great - but now I don’t want it anymore. I had a blast this week, and if a run like this comes along I’ll do it, but not often.

   I don’t think there are enough quality runs like this to make it worth my while anymore. I see so many clubs closing or money going down that I can’t see myself making as much as I did ten years ago. It’s the end of an era, and I feel it. 632 miles is too long a commute.

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

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Unforgiving Grind

Saturday February 12th, 2011 - Morgantown, WV/Frankfort, KY

   Up and at ‘em early again, and it’s a harsh reminder of why road life gets to be so much of an unforgiving grind. I haven’t had a run like this in a while, and even though it’s been fun it‘s been a lot of work too. Too many years of it are catching up and taking their toll.

   Today I had to drive 366 miles back the exact same route I drove yesterday to get to the gig in Morgantown, WV. Tim Rowlands and I left an hour earlier, as we are both veterans of the road game and know it’s always better to have a cushion of time to allow for crisis.

   Car trouble is always a distinct possibility, especially with any vehicle I own. A flat tire becomes a crisis depending on how far away from the gig it is, or how close to show time it happens. Engines and transmissions can blow as well, so getting to a town is crucial.

   Tonight was the most important of the three night run because it paid the most. Missing this one would have had the most consequence so we wanted to get there as quickly as we could to avoid putting our payday in jeopardy. Art is one thing, but getting paid is king.

   Tonight’s show was at a beautiful hotel in downtown Frankfort, KY called The Capital Plaza. They do three or four shows a year in their banquet room and apparently it’s been a big hit. They serve an amazing buffet dinner and sell it as a package, which is very smart.

   I think a lot more hotels could and should do shows like this around the country, as this was a major success all around. They sold the place out, and it was an event in a town that in all likelihood wouldn’t be able to support a full time comedy club. It was a perfect fit.

   Tonight we had a third comedian on the bill as an emcee. Her name is Sally Brooks and she’s a lawyer who now lives in Morgantown, WV. Her husband teaches at the University and she had to make the same drive we did. Welcome to comedy, the commute is a killer.

   Sally said she used to live in Chicago and actually opened for me one night at a show in Kenosha, WI several years ago. I totally didn’t remember, and felt like an ass. It all blends together after a while and I told her I hoped I was nice to her and she said I was. Whew.

   I really do try to be nice to everyone, but I totally see how it can be misperceived as it’s a constant battle to focus on what needs to be done before, during and after a show. There are all kinds of things to think about, and sometimes an opening act can read that as being aloof or antisocial. Quite often it’s just a matter of not having time to sit around and visit.

   Sally and Tim did a fine job, and the audience just loved the show. They stood in line to tell us how funny we were, and that’s never a bad thing. These people don’t get to see live comedy shows, and I think it’s important to meet and greet every one of them if possible.

   As much fun as this run was, now it’s over. I have a really long drive back to Toledo to drop Tim off, then I’m back to host the radio show. It never ends. That’s life on the road.

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

Friday, February 11, 2011

Morgantown Magic

Friday February 11th, 2011 - Lexington, KY/Morgantown, WV

   Another smoking hot show, this one at the University of West Virginia in Morgantown. My jaded feelings about working for college audiences are beginning to change in a hurry and in a positive way. The last two nights have been unbelievably fun, and I haven’t had a problem connecting with these people in the least. I wonder what the difference has been?

   Even when I was that age, college audiences have been my downfall. I never figured out a way to connect with them, and more often than not my attempts went down in a blaze of piping hot failure with smoldering wreckage everywhere. I knew not to even try anymore.

   As recently as 2003, I had trouble in the San Francisco Comedy Competition whenever a college was on the agenda, while I kicked west coast ass everywhere else. If I would’ve had shows like this back then, I’d have won that competition by ten miles and then some.

   Part of it is the kids come out to see the shows. Both last night and tonight, they came to be entertained, and they weren’t rip roaring drunk when they got there. I saw some beer at the tables, but they kept it under control. That’s not been the case in the past and I’ve had to fight them with a chair and a whip. For whatever reason, these people weren’t like that.

   I also think a part of it was Tom Sobel’s instructions. He really does make sure his gigs are run well, and I’m sure he’s gotten in his car and driven to Morgantown from his office in Louisville and talked with someone in charge himself. That’s how he likes to do things and it pays off in well run shows. Both last night and tonight were great by any standard.

   Another part still is my own evolution as a performer. I’m now the age of these people’s fathers, and I come across as a wacky uncle type. I only talk about very innocuous things, and never preach or talk down to them. I scale my anger way back and go up there to have fun with them. Without excessive alcohol in the mix, that formula is working splendidly.

   We were in a different venue tonight than the last couple of times I was here, and it was a lot smaller. I was a little concerned before the show, but when show time rolled around it was full and they were ready to be entertained. Tim Rowlands did a fantastic job getting them warmed up, and I went up and brought it home. I ended up doing extra time easily.

   Again, this is how comedy should be every night. Not only was the gig top notch, we’re staying at a spectacular place called Hotel Morgan. We each have giant suites, and it feels like we’re in the big time. They treat us like kings, and the whole experience is first class.

   We did have to drive about 340 miles, but the weather was sunny and crisp, and it went quickly because Tim and I were telling road stories the whole way. My Cadillac has been running like a…well…a Cadillac, and we’ve had no problems there. It’s all worked out.

   Tomorrow is supposed to be the gem of the week, as we have a big show in Frankfort at a downtown hotel. It’s going to take a lot to trump these past two nights, but I hope it can.

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

Lexington Reflections

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Differently Difficult

Wednesday February 8th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL/Toledo, OH/Lexington, KY

   The degree of variation in all aspects from day to day as a road comic is staggering. Last night I performed in a meeting room of a Best Western hotel for electrical contractors that had a median age of about 55. Barely 24 hours later, I did a show in the student lounge of the University of Kentucky in Lexington for college students who were in their early 20s.

   The only thing in common these two audiences had was they were residents of the same planet. Neither group had any knowledge of the other, and similarities were very few and far between. But that didn’t matter. I was hired to do a live comedy show for them both.

   That’s not the first time by far something like that has happened. Gigs come along when they do, and quite often they arrive under completely different circumstances. A seasoned professional is able to adapt and find a way to entertain all crowds so as to earn a payday.

   Many times, the dynamic between an audience and performer fails to connect. Everyone in the comedy business has experienced that horrible feeling, and I’ve had it often myself. It goes with the territory, especially when starting out. It’s a part of what forges the craft.

    I’ve learned my craft well, and was able to pull off shows for both audiences and it was actually quite fun both times. Historically, I’ve not done well with college aged audiences at all, but these people were fantastic. They come to see a show and they’re really into it.

   This was an amazingly long day, so a hot show at the end of it made it feel worthwhile. I got back home late and only had time to sleep for three hours before getting up to drive to Toledo, OH to pick up the opening act Tim Rowlands. Tim is a comedy juggler and an even longer tenured road warrior than me. It’s always easy to travel with a fellow lifer.

   I estimated being able to get to Toledo by noon Eastern Time, but was a bit late because of my old habit of trying to avoid toll roads. I took US 20 through Indiana rather than that money sucking I-80/90, and I paid for it in time. Tim was cool about it, as he could relate.

   Then, he took extra time trying to find a parking space for his car at fellow comic Steve Sabo’s apartment complex. Steve offered to let one of us park our car in his extra spot for a few days while we were on the road. Tim has an old Buick LeSabre and we agreed we’d be more comfortable in my Cadillac, even though it would suck gas. That was our choice.

   This is the kind of trip that reminds me of the old days. Two road dogs out on a run in a big old gas gargling American road yacht. Total mileage for the day was 597, and we got in to Lexington less than an hour before the show. We got to the hotel, but of course there were no reservations for us and we had to wait a half hour until they could get confirmed.

   This is all the life of a road comic, and it can be very unforgiving at times. We checked in and took the fastest showers we could, got to the venue and did our shows for a crowd of college students who loved us both. It took years of paying dues to be able to do that.

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

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Frozen Rust

Tuesday February 8th, 2011 - Milwaukee, WI

   Testicles of the world, unite. It’s time to retract - the super duper double bubble deep freeze is here. This is the one part of winter I could do without, but that’s not an option. Temperatures are dropping like Steeler fans’ morale, and it’s going to be here a while.

   I went up to Milwaukee today to meet with my friend Richard Halasz and do a gig in the evening. I felt the temperature drop significantly around 6pm and knew it by all the smoky exhaust I could see coming off cars, and windows started freezing up in my car.

   Richard and I met about the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show and what the next steps are to keep steady progress happening. He’s my number one lieutenant right now, but we both agree we need other people on the team to really put it over the top. He’s my pit crew.

   No race car driver can win a race without a pit crew to change tires and gas up the car. Richard lives in Milwaukee and is very honest, and wants to be part of the team. I won’t screw him over and I don’t think he’ll do it to me either. We’ve put on a couple of solid shows already in Saukville, but now it needs to go higher. Richard will be able to help.

   We went to Jake’s Deli on 17th and North to enjoy a hot sloppy corned beef sandwich on a cold sloppy day. There’s nothing better than one of those fatty, greasy unhealthy for you sandwiches on a day like today that make life worth living. It was a gastric delight.

   Yeah, I’ve been trying to eat better and all that, but once in a while it’s good to grease it up a little and enjoy life. I had some potato salad with it and a delicious frosty cold can of Dr. Brown’s black cherry soda to wash it down. If there’s a better meal anywhere, eat it.

   I had a gig tonight in Brookfield, WI at the Best Western on Moorland Road. It was for a group of electrical contractors, and they were very nice people. Being a Packer fan sure didn’t hurt, and I got on a roll and kept going. I did my time and the people were pleased.

   BUT - I had a red flag go off after the show. I’ve been taking some time off lately and I can notice some rust already starting to accumulate. I ever so slightly stumbled over just a couple of lines tonight, something I rarely do. The audience would never have known any difference, but I sure did. I was able to easily work around it, but it made me take notice.

   Being off stage for any amount of time  produces rust. That’s why I’ve always stayed at it my entire life, even when I had radio jobs. Comedy needs to be treated as a craft, which it absolutely is. Crafts must be WORKED at, not only to get better but even to stay as is.

   I’ve got work this week, and then it’s back on the ships where I’ll have more stage time than I want. That’s a good thing right now. It’s so easy to get out of practice, and I’ve put too much time and effort into this to let that happen. Nobody is immune to this happening either. It’s a wake up call, and I heard it loud and clear - STAY WITH IT and get on stage no matter what. It’s the only way to stay sharp. “Use it or lose it” couldn’t be more true.

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

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Returning To Earth

Monday February 7th, 2011 - Chicago, IL

    Aaron Rodgers gets to go to Disney World and New York City to be on TV with David Letterman. The rest of the Packers get to go to Green Bay for a giant parade and pep rally, then the White House. I have to go back to work to pound out a living. That’s how it is.

   I’ll get to enjoy all the mania for a while, but today it was back to the grind. I had lunch in Kenosha, WI with Mark Gumbinger and Lou Rugani, and we discussed ideas for a film project Mark wants to direct with Lou and myself playing a father and son comedy team.

   Lou is really talented, and it would be great fun to do the project. It wouldn’t be for pay though, and I’ve got enough of those kinds of things going on right now. I’m hoping to be able to squeeze it into my schedule, but with all of us being busy it’s going to be difficult.

   This evening I had to be at Zanies in Chicago to sit in on a beginner comedy class with Bill Gorgo. Bill is a great guy, but our teaching styles are completely different and he has this class in the palm of his hand. He’s very nurturing, but doesn’t tend to crack the whip at all. I’m just the opposite. I like to make sure they get a face full of how it really works.

   Bill brought me in to critique those of the class who wanted to go up on stage and have a fresh set of eyes look at their stuff. I really didn’t want to do that, but he asked. I tried to be nice, which I always do, but I pointed out several things that needed fixing and why it did and they just weren’t ready for that. I felt like an outsider in the classes I originated.

   Those people looked at me like I was the Antichrist and I could feel them recoil when I would bring up valid points. Bill likes to pat on the head, I tend to kick in the ass. I’m not mean spirited, but how else will someone know if they’re not told? This is a real problem.

   Unfortunately, most people on a beginner level want to be coddled and think comedy is easy and minimal effort is required for success. SO not true, but they use class as a social network. I guess that’s fine, but I don’t want those people in my class. I want the few who are willing to dig in and work their way into being comedians. That’s where all the fun is.

   Bill is doing a great job, as the class loves him and wants to pay to keep going under his tutelage. What can I say? Let them do it. He’s teaching at a grade school level, and I teach high school. Eventually, those who will want to take comedy farther will have to discover the truth, and it won’t be pretty. It never is, BUT - the smart ones will be able to handle it.

   After class, I had an invite to see John Leguzamo’s one man show at The Royal George Theater. I know he’s had several, and I wanted to check it out so I can learn something for ‘Schlitz Happened!’. It was $40 a ticket on a Monday night, so I expected a killer show.

   I was very disappointed to see he wasn’t doing much more than I already am. He talked about his life, but I do that too. If this is the standard for one man shows, I’m going to be a big star. I left at intermission, I’d seen enough. At least I could think about the Packers.

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

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Sunday Satisfaction

Sunday February 6th, 2011 - Hoffman Estates, IL

   The Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl! I can’t think of a sentence I’d rather type, other than maybe ‘Dobie Maxwell is a multi-millionaire stud philanthropist who‘s figured out life‘s success secrets.’ I still have a ways to go there, but the first one is sweet reality.

     My Packer addiction paid off with the highest high imaginable, even if there were some rocky moments along the way. It was a roller coaster ride all evening. It started out pretty well, but then took a dark turn in the second half. Then in the end, the Packers sealed it.

   All kinds of emotions went through my head, and I was drained by the time it was over. I’ve been a Packer fan going on forty years now, and that’s how long Moses wandered in the desert with the Children of Israel before they got to the promised land. Then, he didn’t even get to go there with them. At least I got to experience it all through to the end result.

   I don’t even know where to start. I can still remember watching games with my beloved Gramps on a black and white TV in his basement and seeing him live and die every week with each game. They weren’t good then, so there was a lot of death and agony. Victories were rare, but I saw how happy they made him so I cheered for them too. I was hooked.

   Then it was the kids in school who watched them too, and we’d talk about the games on Monday morning. They usually lost, but we cheered for them with all our hearts. We’d all live and die with the team, and dare to believe that this year would be that big turnaround, but it never was. Grade school became high school and the addiction grew even stronger.

   There’s something about cheering for a sports team throughout an entire lifetime that is unable to be removed from someone’s internal hard drive. If someone paid me to convert to a Bears or Vikings fan or any other NFL team, I just couldn’t do it. I might fake it well, but inside I’d always be loyal to the Packers. It’s a blessing and a curse, today a blessing.

   I enjoyed the hell out of this victory. I know full well I had absolutely NOTHING to do with any of it, but I loved it anyway. I didn’t throw one pass, kick one field goal or come up with one play. I didn’t drive the team bus, I didn’t mow the practice field, I didn’t even go to one damn game all year. I didn’t have to. They’re already a part of my inner DNA.

   Not even one of the players, coaches or management team has ever heard of me, but I’m still as giddy as a school girl with delight because they were able to win a few games in a row at the right time, and win a trophy I had nothing to do with getting. But yet, I’m ready to drive up to Wisconsin tomorrow and high five people I don’t know who love this too.

  What the hell is wrong with me? Why do I care so much about any of this? I can’t help it and it frightens me to the core. People are starving and wars are breaking out and millions of other people in America couldn’t care less. Billions of others around the world have no idea there was even a game today, much less what it meant. I know all of this, yet I’m out of my mind with delight because a team of men I don’t know won a game I never played.

     The smart thing to do is just savor the whole experience, and I am. I’ve waited an entire lifetime to be able to relish an untainted moment like this, but it doesn’t come without an array of strings attached. There will always be the memory of my childhood friend Timbo who robbed the bank he used to work at and I had to testify against him in Federal Court.

   That sure threw a wrench into the last Super Bowl the Packers won in 1996. I wasn’t in any position to enjoy that game, as I was preparing to go to trial. We’d always guaranteed each other if the Packers ever went to the Super Bowl we’d go see it live. Ha. That didn’t happen, even though each of us suffered through all those years of horrible Packer teams.

   The next year they got back in, but lost to the Broncos. That was worse. Sitting through that was almost as brutal as sitting through the bank robbery trial. What an empty feeling walking out of my friend’s house in silence with my Packer jersey in my hand because I’d taken it off in shame after they lost. I knew it wasn’t my fault, but I was still bummed out.

   That was a bitter pill to swallow, and part of me didn’t want to watch the game today at all, but I knew I had to. I might not get another chance. I had about a dozen invitations for the game and I had to decide on only a few. My friend Jim McHugh is a huge Packer fan, even though he grew up in Illinois. I went there for the first half, and stayed even longer.

   The people were so nice, and the game was so exciting, I couldn’t leave. Everyone was nice and fun, and no Steeler fans were there. Jim and I both get emotional about games in the regular season, but this was the big one. Neither one of us wanted to sit through a dud game, but it looked to be going that way in the third quarter. I excused myself and left.

   I listened to the game on my car radio, and I think my sphincter is still frozen shut from all that tension I had to sit through. It never seems to be easy, but even though my nerves were getting stomped on, I couldn’t turn it off. I wanted them to win, and kept listening.

   My web person Shelley was having a party at her house, and I got there just in time for the victory presentation of the Lombardi trophy. When I heard they won, I pulled my car over and screamed with delight, knowing full well I was stupid for doing it. I didn’t care, it was an epic moment I’ll never forget. I finally got to enjoy a Packer Super Bowl win!

   Now comes the real challenge, and that’s handling it with class and dignity. It was a one of a kind amazing year, but the last thing I’m going to do is taunt anyone. If they’d lost, it would have ripped my heart out, and I’m sure there are people in Pittsburgh feeling low.

   Yes, they’ve won a ton of rings and might win more, but for this year it was the Packers and that’s how it went. Mike Tomlin is a really classy coach, and I have nothing but deep respect for that guy. He’s right up there with anyone, and they could have easily won.

   I’ll give myself a day or two to really enjoy this, but I have gigs waiting later this week in Kentucky and West Virginia, and then it’s back on the ships again. I want to celebrate my own personal victories, not cheer for a team of strangers. Still, this was a sweet win.

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

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Football Forecast

Saturday February 5th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   As a rule, I don’t like having Saturday nights off. I feel I should be working somewhere, as there are a finite number. It’s the money night. This week is different. I enjoyed having the whole day off to sit around and relax. I’ve been hitting it hard and have plenty of work coming up, so this was a day to hang out and rest. It’s like a bye week for a football team.

   Speaking of football, the big day is finally here. What an amazing media fluff circus the Super Bowl is, and I wonder if that’s good or bad. It is only a football game, but nobody’s treating it that way. It’s being heralded as a battle of the ages, and even I’m sick of it all.

   I’m not going to lie, I’m really hoping the Packers win. It doesn’t mean anything as far as the scheme of life goes, and far more people don’t care a lick about the game than do, but in my little corner of the world, it’s the lead story. China couldn’t care less, but I do.

   I have no right to feel any glory, but I will. They play half their games in the same state I was born, and that’s it. I’ve watched them play since I was a kid, and followed their ups and downs, mostly downs - especially in the ’70s and ’80s. By all accounts, I shouldn’t be as into it as I am, but I totally am. I’m going to cheer with all my heart for them to WIN!

   Do I have anything against the Pittsburgh Steelers? No, far from it. Pittsburgh has a big place in my heart as it was the first place I ever went on the road as a comedian. I still go there on occasion, and think they have a rabidly loyal fan base and top shelf organization.

   Mike Tomlin has done a fantastic job as coach, and their defense is downright scary. I’ll be disappointed if the Packers lose, but not angry. The Steelers are there for a reason, and I will absolutely give them their due before the game. The Packers are also solid though.

   I almost don’t want to watch it. It’s more than likely going to be close, and it might just go into overtime. How agonizing would that be? I don’t know if my heart and veins could withstand that. I think my aorta would have a Cheez Whiz backup and I’d die on a couch.

   How tense must it be for the actual teams? They’ve got to be chomping at the bit to take it to the field already. They had two weeks to get ready, and they’re being caged up like a bunch of circus animals on a train. I can’t believe any one of the players sleeps tonight.

     The only thing even remotely close to this that I’ve ever done was being in the finals of the San Francisco Comedy Competition back in 2003. It was three weeks of competition, and the finals was televised on TV in San Francisco. I was a little nervous the day or two before, but I slept fine. The Super Bowl has to be a mind blower. I can’t imagine it all.

   The worst part is, the loser gets NOTHING. No consolation prize, no asterisk in a book of records, nothing. I’ll still love the Packers no matter what happens, I’m hooked for life. But, I have to believe I’ll love them a lot more in the long run if they win tomorrow. I’m a sap and I know it, but it really matters to me who wins. I need to get over that, but I can’t.

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

Finding A Personal Manager

Friday February 4th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL/Chicago, IL

   I need a personal manager. I’ve needed one for a while, but I’m finally doing something about it. I’m not exactly sure if one person can do everything I need, so I’m feeling out all possibilities. I’ve got several people in mind, and I’ll lay it out and see who’s interested.

   Today I interviewed two candidates, and both were promising. My friend Marc Schultz has been around the business his whole life. His father had a talent agency in Chicago for years, and Marc has been able to keep the business running which is a testament to him.

   I like Marc personally, and we think alike on many levels. He’s no B.S. in many ways, and also up front and ethical. We get along great as friends, and I think he can help with a number of things I’m just not good at. He has to make contacts in his business anyway, so doing it for me won’t be out of the norm. It won’t be a stretch, and he’s already an agent.

   Marc uses comedians occasionally, but that’s never been his main focus. He books very diverse acts from circus performers to magicians and all kinds of other performers, mostly to corporate clients. His contacts won’t necessarily help me grow career wise, but he puts my video in with his acts when he sends out a roster of clients and I’ve gotten bookings.

   This would be different though. I need someone to work a list I still need to make up of everything from television bookers to radio shows to clubs I work and ones I don’t. I need someone to organize a contact schedule for all of them and update my avails consistently.

   I’ve been very half assed about this sort of thing for years, and there’s no excuse for it at all. I’ve always been able to get enough work to survive, but that’s no reason not to put an organized plan together to always be on everyone’s top of mind list. I need to change that.

   Whomever I hire will be working on sending out emails, avails, and I also need to come up with a few newsletters. Some can be monthly, but at least quarterly would be useful to send to people like bookers, fans, students and even other comedians. I need to stay in the face of different people for different reasons, and I just can’t do it by myself. Nobody can.

   Marc agreed to help with what he could, and we’ll test out a few things at a time. We’ll decide what he might be best at, and go from there. We agreed to do it on a handshake but eventually I’d like to get a written agreement with anyone I hire. I want to do it correctly.

   I had dinner with Sheri Johnson who worked for Zanies for many years. She’s a sweetie and very personable, and loves to be around the business. She’s also good with computers which Marc or I really aren’t. I think Sheri could bring a lot to the table, but exactly what that it right now I can’t say. I told her that, and she’s fine with it. We’ll meet again soon.

   I told both Marc and Sheri what I was kind of looking for, and also that I couldn’t really come up with enough money to make it a full time position for anyone. We’d have to put a percentage deal together of what I make, and that’s just how it is. This is a new process.

   I’m being honest and up front with everyone, and they can all say no at any time. I need a person to act more as a valet or assistant, not a career guide. I could actually use that too but this isn’t that. There’s a big difference between hiring a personal manager and getting management, as in representation. That’s a whole different ball game I’ll deal with later.

   Finding quality representation is very difficult. It has to be a perfect fit at a perfect time, and life just doesn’t work like that on a regular basis. There are all kinds of agencies that ‘handle’ people, but it’s easy to get lost in that whole game. That’s why I never played it.

   I don’t even know the major agencies, and that’s pretty stupid on my part. If I’m trying to be in big time show business, I need to know who’s who and who I should know if I’m going to go any farther than Ft. Atkinson, WI on a Thursday. No offense to anyone, but it isn’t going to make me a star any time soon. I have to be known within a certain circle.

   Frank Caliendo is an example of someone who’s done it right. His career has fallen into place quite nicely, but he’s worked his ass off as well. No doubt about it, Frank is doing it the right way, and has earned everything he’s gotten. I don’t begrudge him anything, but I do regret not handling my own situation a lot better. I was too busy surviving to be smart.

   I had a few bad breaks in there too, as most people do. Again, that’s no excuse, but it is at least part of the reason I’m not where I think I should be. I can’t change the past, but if I start changing now, the future will be a lot different. I want life to have a happy ending.

   That won’t happen if I don’t change significantly. I’ve done some things very well, but a lot of others I haven’t. It takes guts to change, and I told Marc at lunch that I can’t think of anyone even close to my age or experience level being willing to remake everything.

   I think that’s what it’s going to take though, and I’m willing to do it. Anyone I hire will help me free quality time to get more done, and in turn hopefully hire more people to put all my grandiose ideas in some kind of motion. This is a big project, and I totally know it.

   Realistically, I think both Marc and Sheri will both be able to help me in the next little while. Maybe I’ll be able to hire both, and I hope I can find that much for them to do and enough to pay them what they’re worth. They’re both wonderful people and I respect the personal lives of them both and don’t want to exploit anyone. I want it to be a win/win.

   There are also some others who are already helping. Shelley has been really great with my website and Mothership Connection radio show, and many other things. I just hired a web guy for ‘Schlitz Happens!’ and I’ve also got Uranus Factory Outlet pending as a site with Jim McHugh’s brother in law Mark Huelskamp running it. I’m spreading it around.

   Part of it is because of the scorching I took from my ex business partner, but another is that I think those are all genuinely talented people. Robert Deglau has been really helping up in Milwaukee as has Richard Halasz. That’s a whole other project, and I want to get on it and stay on it. I know I’m doing the right thing here. A solid team is an absolute must.

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

A Last Minute Replacement

Thursday February 3rd, 2011 - Ft. Atkinson, WI

     The serendipitous dice of destiny finally found fortuitous favor to fling a friendly roll in my direction! Actually, all that happened was a last minute fall out came my way, but I’m glad to get it. It’s a couple of extra bucks in my pocket and a chance to repay an old favor.

     Steve Sabo is a comic out of Toledo, OH and as a side hobby he books several shows in smaller towns around the Midwest. I’ve worked for him before, and respect him for being a straight up guy. He’s very ethical, and does what he says. I wish that could be said about some of the larger bookers who have more work, but it is what it is. Steve is a comic first.

   Over the years, I’ve had to cancel on Steve because of double bookings. I’m not a fan of having to cancel shows, but sometimes it’s necessary. Steve has always been easy to work with, and handles these situations well because he’s also a performer and knows how it is.

   I’ve also been able to help him out in a pinch, just like I have with several other bookers around the country. Fall outs are part of the business, and if I can help someone I really do try to fill in if I can. I know how it is from all angles, and helping others is good karma.

   Tonight there was a last minute opening in Fort Atkinson, WI at a bar called ‘Fat Boyz’. I’ve been there before for Steve and before that it was booked by a friend of mine named Dan Still. When Dan had it, the stage area was right up in the front next to the front door. It’s a small joint and the people were packed in tight. Since then, the place has expanded.

   I think the owner bought out the building next door, and it’s much bigger now. There’s still a tiny stage, and it’s right by the bathrooms, but the people are really into the shows. Both Dan and Steve have worked with the owner to make it conducive to comedy and it is. The lighting isn’t the greatest, nor is the stage, but the sound is fine as are the crowds.

   I think this was the third time I was there, maybe the fourth. The owner and staff were very grateful I could help them out, and the audience was fantastic. There were about 50 total, but they were there to have fun. I was able to pound them for almost a full hour.

   One thing they do that’s unusual is book two headliners for each show, especially in a joint so small. It costs more, but that’s how they like to do it. I don’t know if I ever recall another place doing that, but I give them credit for trying it. It helps make a better show.

   The other comic was someone I’ve heard of for years but never met named Jeff Gerbino from the Twin Cities. He’s very funny and does some dead on impressions too. We hung out and talked for over two hours after the show comparing comedy notes and people we both knew. That was a treat, as it just doesn’t happen anymore. It felt like the ‘80s again.

   There are a lot of veteran acts like Jeff and myself out there who can be had for bargain basement prices. Those people saw a killer show for next to nothing. Small towns should book more shows like this, and thanks to Steve Sabo, Jeff and I are able to eat this week.

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

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Groundhogs And Maggots

Wednesday February 2nd, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   Time stands still. Millions of people got an unexpected day off today as an aftermath of the gargantuan blizzard that crippled much of the country. Business isn’t as usual, and it’s a stressful time across several time zones. Not for me. I loved it. I needed the quiet time.

      There was a time when I cursed the brutal Midwest winters, and all that goes with them. I hated the bitter cold, the snow and especially the wind chill factor. It was hard enough to survive frigid months in a frozen hell, but blowing wind made it unbearable. I despised it all so much I vowed to move somewhere warm and stay there forever. So much for vows.

   Now, it really doesn’t bother me and I’m shocked to hear myself say that. Winters come and go a lot faster as I get older, and before I know it the robins will be singing and I’ll be listening to baseball games on the radio again. It‘ll all be over soon. Time goes too fast.

   I’ve been in warm places and watched weather reports from home and I must admit that can feel pretty good. For a while. But, in the long run it just isn’t the major deal breaker it used to be. I’d rather be stuck in snow with people I like than on a beach with pinheads.

   Maybe part of it is I know I’m going back on the cruise ships in a few short weeks for a well placed ten day run in the sunshine. I’m sure I’ll enjoy that sunny weather, but I had a great time today holed up all day because it gave me a chance to finally start organizing.

   I’ve needed time to sort things out for months now. Everything I own is in boxes mixed up in no particular order. I tried to keep it somewhat organized as I was moving, but I had to be out in such a hurry I wasn’t able to be nearly as well prepared as I would have liked.
I still have a lot of needless clutter to throw out, and I was able to get that process started.

   I put in a full twelve hour day dumping out boxes, sorting out the contents and putting it all in piles. I’m sure I’ll be at it for months until I get everything exactly the way I want it, and hopefully I can leave it for a while. I’ve had my fill of moving for about six lifetimes. It’s amazing how quickly things accumulate, and most of them are totally unnecessary.

   I want to have only a few basic necessary possessions and be extra mobile in case I have to move again, which I’m sure is inevitable. I’m still getting over this last one, and I don’t want to think about going anywhere for a while. I’ve got all I can handle to settle in here.

   It was Groundhog Day, and I used it as my own personal retreat. I fasted the whole day, and drank a lot of water while I worked. I listened to a lot of music I really like, including a special recording of a radio show that delved into the Funkadelic song ‘Maggot Brain’.

   I can’t get enough of that song, and most Funkadelic fans would agree. It’s an amazing guitar solo that’s loaded with passion and emotion and it just crawls into one’s soul after a while. It’s an extremely powerful experience, and there are several killer recordings of the song - most of them live. I enjoyed my one day vacation, and it was productive too.

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