Thursday, June 30, 2011

Plan? What Plan?

Tuesday June 28th, 2011 - Libertyville, IL

   Ok smart ass, now what’s the plan? I just got word they’re going to liberate my carcass from the hospital later this evening, and I have to go back to the real world - ready or not. I have no idea exactly what I’m going to be doing, but I think my road dog days are over.

   I thought that a few years ago when I landed my job at The Loop in Chicago, but that’s yet another of my lifetime of false alarms and almost was scenarios. ‘Plan B’ was out the window twenty years ago. I’m so far past it in the alphabet, I’m almost back to ‘Plan A’.

   Come to think of it, I never really had a Plan A. I thought if I was a funny comic, it all would work out by itself. Then I got into radio, and I thought the same thing. I’m funny, I’ll have a job as long as I want one. Wrong on two counts. Here I sit with my education.

   What the hell do I do now, walk into a Wendy’s and ask for a job? I’m sure I could get one, but I’d be miserable before my first (low) paycheck showed up. That kind of work is just not my thing, with no offense to all those who do it. I was born to be an entertainer.

   If I had to get a job making soup or washing cars, I don’t think I could do it for long. I’ll have to think of something though, because I’m in a real spot right now. I have a tiny wad of savings put away, but that’s going to disappear faster than Madonna’s virginity after all the dust settles from this nightmare. I need to get myself healed up and then start working.

   I need to make wise choices and surround myself with quality people. I also need to get better about trusting those people and letting them do what they do. I feel like I’m starting my life all over again, but it’s from a position nobody wants. This is a gigantic challenge, and there’s no turning back. I can’t just turn off the diabetes and ‘do over‘. It’s here now.

   I also intend to exercise like my life depends on it, because this time it does. I can’t just eat what I want anymore, even though I’d gotten used to it from a lifetime of self abuse. It happens to a lot of people, and I know I’m not the only one. This was a big wake up call.

   But now that I’m up, where do I go to work? I’ve got all kinds of half baked ideas and a couple that actually work, like comedy classes and the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show but now they are no longer fun hobbies. I may have to depend on one or both to hack out a living.

   I won’t miss the whole hospital experience, but the people have gone over and above in how nicely they treated me. Condell is filled with sweet people who really do care about a patient as a person and not a number. I felt well cared for the whole time, and I’m grateful for everyone from the doctors to the nurses to the techs to the lady who washed my floor.

   Jerry Agar is home for a week from Toronto, and he has graciously allowed me to stay a few days in his lower level where there’s a quiet bed with a shower in the bathroom that’s exactly what I need to tend to my wounds. I’ll be able to rest and hopefully get going on a full recovery. Thanks to everyone at the hospital, but it’s time to reload and try life again.

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

A Dented Can Quirk

Monday June 27th, 2011 - Libertyville, IL

   The parade of people who have come to see me in the hospital has been overwhelming. I so appreciate every one, but hospitals are not the place for a quality visit. Every time my most embarrassing procedure has to be done, that’s exactly when someone will saunter in my room and ask “How ya feelin’?” Well, with gangrene on my groin, I’ve felt better.

   I know everyone means well, and the effort of people tracking me down is nothing short of miraculous. If nothing else, I do have friends with a Jim Rockford private investigating gene. For everyone that tracked me down I felt I owed them $200 a day - plus expenses.

   I could list the people who came, but they know who they are. It was extremely humane of all of them to be concerned enough to even care at all, and I appreciate it. For all those who showed up in person, there were probably ten more that called and I lost count of all the Facebook messages I received. I’m touched, flattered, grateful but uncomfortable too.

   It’s really hard for me to accept love and kindness. That’s a dented can thing, and I need to get over it because there are good people in the world and I’m seeing it first hand in the ones who have shown so much care and concern while I’m up here in my darkest hour.

   I’m not going to lie though, it’s tough for me to accept. I’ll be the first one to jump start someone’s car at 4am or do a favor for a virtual stranger, but when it comes to me getting helped or shown love in return I don’t know how to just shut my mouth and let it happen.

   I’m sure it stems from childhood, and that probably lead to all the times I’ve gotten my ass burnt to a crisp in adulthood too. I know how to react when someone embezzles all of my money or when a woman cheats on me with someone I thought was my friend. I know what to do when those things happen, but when someone does something nice - I flinch.

   That’s pretty messed up, but it’s absolutely true. A person gets so used to getting beaten up by life that the natural reaction becomes to build a wall around the heart and not let an outsider in to hurt it again. This is probably a huge reason why I’m not married, as I really do have major problems trusting anyone. I sure hope it’s not too late to turn that around.

   Like I said, the outpouring of kindness for me up here in the hospital has been the most loved I’ve ever felt. Ever. I really have tried to be a good person, and I’m always the first to admit I’m far from perfect. I’ve always tried to show a kind heart, but now that it’s my turn to catch some of that good vibe, it frightens me. But it doesn’t mean I’m not grateful.

   My cousin Jef Parker could totally relate to this concept. He died in 2001 at age 44 from a horrible bout with cancer, and today would have been his birthday. Jef was a dented can too, but he turned it around and started the Collector’s Edge Comics chain in Milwaukee. Jef used to help people all the time too, and created a legend among the comic community in town. We used to talk in private of things like this, and he also felt uncomfortable with anyone giving him anything. Jef is gone, and I miss him terribly. Dented cans can relate.

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Nothing But Needles

Sunday June 26th, 2011 - Libertyville, IL

   Rough night, with a rougher day right behind it. I hardly got any sleep as the pain in my knee went from about a 10 to a 56 in the space of just a few hours. I made a point to walk as much as I could yesterday, but there was still a sharp pain right in the joint of my knee. It felt like I soaked my knee in napalm, then lit it on fire. I couldn’t bend it even a little.

   I have no idea what caused it, and I don’t remember twisting it, but I can’t remember in all my years a pain so intense in that area. If I hadn’t had to come to the hospital for what I’m already in for, I’d have had to consider it for this. It has me concerned, but there’s so much other stuff going on I can’t spend too much time thinking about it. But it does hurt.

   The needles started early today and wouldn’t quit. I went for a walk about 4:30am to try and relieve the pressure in my knee. I can walk pretty well on it, but lifting it up to try and put it on a bed sends it through the roof in about two seconds. Walking feels good though. It gets the blood pumping and makes me feel like I’m still alive. Laying around is not fun.

   I got back to my room and there was a woman there who I had a bad feeling about right away. I don’t know how I knew it, but I could tell she wasn’t a people person and I felt an unfriendly vibe when she told me she needed to get some blood. I told her my veins were used up and it would be difficult, but I’d still let her try if she felt she needed to do that.

   That’s got to be a horrible job, going from room to room sticking people with needles at 5am. I told her that to try and make conversation as she was tapping my arm trying to find one more vein, and she went off on how they had to be there at 3:45 and how hard the job was from HER standpoint. She couldn’t care less about the patients and it totally showed.

   She wasn’t much of a conversationalist, and I told her to just do what she had to do so it would be over with. She took about ten minutes on my right arm and then stuck what felt like a six inch needle right in the crook of my arm at the elbow. I had to bite my lip to not scream out loud, but after a while she told me she wasn’t able to draw any blood from it.

   I was visibly pissed and she knew it, but she still had to get what she came for so I tried to explain to her that I knew that but now she could see why I was so frustrated. She said she thought she could get it from the other arm, so I clenched my teeth and let her try it.

   About halfway through the process I had the sneaking suspicion she wouldn’t be able to get anything from this one either and I was correct. The second needle felt bigger than the first, and when she told me she blew it I was ready to jam it right up her ass in retaliation. That just started it, and the rest of the day has been one poke after the next. I’m sick of it.

   Then they took me to get my sore knee x-rayed, and the technician was ready to take an x-ray of the wrong one. Had I not told him, he would have taken the opposite one. This is the kind of thing I’ve always heard about, but I can see how it happens. It’s easy to screw things up, and the longer I’m here, the more I see it. I just want to go home and heal up.

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

Stressing With Dressing

Saturday June 25th, 2011 - Libertyville, IL

   What a difference a shower can make. I feel like a new man. Having the chance to scrub away a whole week’s worth of funky hospital goo was just what I needed to give me a ray of hope. It got blood flowing in places that needed it, and jump started my whole attitude.

   It’s hard not to get discouraged with all that‘s going on, and every little bit of positivity goes a long way to keep me from wanting to pack it in. I still don’t think I’ve grasped just how big of a life changer all this will be, and it’s all I can do to make it through each day.

   The biggest nightmare of all so far has been the changing of the dressing of my surgery wound. If there’s more physical pain a man can suffer, I don’t want to know about it. This has been enough pelvic torture for twelve lifetimes, and I’m still not out of the water yet.

   I’m going to have to do this myself for he foreseeable future, and that scares the hell out of me. It’s supposed to be twice a day at first, and then once a day after that. I’m supposed to remove the old dressing first, and then pack the wound with gauze and start over again.

   Good luck with that. Not only is the pain beyond description, it’s in a location that’s not exactly easily accessible. If I was a knuckle dragging orangutan, I might have a slight shot but as is with the equipment I have it’s going to take a mirror and a lot of random pokes.

   My nurse was instructed to do it today, and wouldn’t you know it she’d be a total hottie. Not only would pain management be a major issue, now the embarrassment factor kicked in right behind it. I know she’s seen it all, but when it’s my all she sees it’s not too funny.

   One extremely good thing I’ve been able to do is get out of my room and walk around a little. The nurses encourage it, and it beats laying in bed and rotting away. There’s a lot of room on the floor I’m on, and taking a few laps has proven to be more than a challenge.

   I got a nice round of laps in today, and it worked up a sweat for the first time in a while. Taking a shower right after that really felt good, but the whole time all I could think about was the torture to come. I didn’t want to have to use morphine, but that was a possibility.

   Little Miss Hot Pants came in, and I told her I wanted to try it without any pain meds of any kind to see how it would go. I soaked the hell out of the wound and gauze while I was in the shower, and sure enough, the dressing slid right off. She was able to replace it fast.

   Bill Gorgo came up to visit and not only brought a nice pile of magazines, he also had a book on Type 2 Diabetes that will probably help a lot. That was a very thoughtful gift but as I looked at it it started to hit home that I’m really going to have to deal with this now.

    It’s not a joke, but I never thought it was. For now, I need to focus on getting out of the hospital but after that I’m going to have a big time lifestyle change on my hands. Attitude will determine how it ends up, but I have to admit staying positive will be a major effort.

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

Surgery Synopsis (Parts 1 & 2)

Thursday June 23rd, 2011 - Libertyville, IL

   Surgery day. That’s never a small issue, especially to the person facing it. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a wee bit concerned, but it’s apparently necessary so I have no choice. I am very thankful to be in such a top shelf medical facility, especially when it concerns what it does. When ‘surgery’ and ‘scrotum’ are in the same sentence, neck hair tends to stand up.

   For all I know, I could come out a eunuch. Who says the surgeon won’t sneeze when he gets the scalpel right at the precise point of pivot and gouge a gash in my gonads like he’s doing a commercial for a Ronco vegetable slicer? I don’t want to be living Julianne Fries.

   It all becomes a waiting game now. At first, they told me surgery would be at 8am sharp this morning. I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything since midnight and they told me to ‘get some rest’. Oh, sure. Waiting for a guy I don’t know to carve on my crotch causes me to drift off to sleepy land every time. There was no way I’d get any restful sleep last night.  

   I did drift in and out for a few minutes, but that was with the TV on. That’s not a quality sleep because I always have dreams I’m part of the show. Some of the time I was catching king crab on ‘The Deadliest Catch’, and the rest I was making plays on ‘SportsCenter’.

   Nurses kept coming to my room to change I.V. bags, and would ask me what time I was going to have surgery. I kept telling them 8am, as that’s what I was told. Then, it got to be a little before 7 and one of the nurses told me I wasn’t on any list and it had been delayed.

   As it turns out, it got bumped to 4:30pm. I have no idea why, other than one doctor said there are many reasons surgery gets delayed, and it’s always good to wait until everyone’s ready. I wholeheartedly concur. I don’t need a guy with a hangover slicing my ball bag.

   When the time came, a lady with a rolling bed came to pick me up and I felt like I was a dead man walking. It’s very dramatic, at least it was to me. They attached all the I.V. stuff and off we went. There’s no turning back, and I had no idea whatsoever what to expect.

   I have to say the entire staff at the hospital was wonderful, but the operating room crew were especially humane. They told me not to be afraid, and that they’d do their very best to take care of me. How they said it was perfectly placed, and it totally put me at ease.

   I was told how long I’d be under anesthesia (an hour) and how long the procedure itself would take (8 minutes). I don’t know why I needed to know that, but I was glad to hear it. They also said they’d be inserting a tube in my mouth and throat to help me breathe, but it wouldn’t be installed until after I was completely unconscious. It all made me feel at ease.

   The doctor was late getting to the hospital, so they put me in a waiting room for twenty minutes or so, and that’s when the mind really starts spinning. I had all I could do to keep from throwing up with angst, but then they started wheeling me in and that’s the last thing I can remember before waking up in the recovery room sore as hell and not able to move.

Friday June 24th, 2011 - Libertyville, IL

   Well, I made it. I’m in a lot of pain, and I can barely move two inches in bed, but I’m in the ranks of the living, and more importantly (at least to me), I still have my giblets intact. The nurses told me the surgery was a success, and that the ‘twig and berries’ still existed.

   That could have really been a nightmare, and I don’t want to think about it. It’s about as scary as I want to get thinking about what they did do. Apparently, there are two incisions in my groinal area and although they’ll be painful and difficult, they should heal up well.

   The doctor who did the surgery came to my room this morning and went through all he did, and said he got all the infected tissue. Then, he proceeded to change the dressing on the wounds which had me screaming like a little baby begging for mercy. I have NEVER felt pain like that, and when I started screaming he called the nurse to give me morphine.

   He didn’t give the morphine thirty seconds to kick in, and he was back down there like a maniac ripping the gauze out of the wounds and I was right back to screaming for mercy like I was trying to get out of a mob hit or something. That was the most pain I ever felt.

   The doctor calmly told me that was by far the hardest one, even though I was crying like a little girl when he said it. I dare anyone to sit through that and see how they react. I’m a self admitted wussmeister when it comes to pain anyway, but this was way off the charts.

   I don’t ever want to feel that kind of pain again, but there are no guarantees that say my days are done. When I had my infamous car accident in 1993, I broke my sternum twice. I thought that was the most pain possible, but this was a whole lot worse. I hoped for death, knowing it was the only way I’d feel any relief. When morphine doesn’t work, it’s over.

   Then, I started to laugh uproariously as I looked at the TV in my room and saw the story of Jack Kevorkian starring Al Pacino on HBO. Of all the movies to have, that was the one that would be on in Mr. Lucky’s room. It really was funny, and the laughter was the exact thing I needed at that moment to divert the pain if even a little. Humor really does heal.

   The next few hours I had a lot of time to just lay there and think. I don’t know how pure my thoughts were since they were tainted with so much pain, but I was able to process my life and come to the conclusion that the only reason I’m here is to help others and give my all to that cause. I also realized just how little I’ve done with my life and I was ashamed.

   I had such big dreams as a kid, and then everything hit the fan and all these years later it boils down to me laying in a hospital, uninsured, with gangrene on my junk. That was not part of the plan, but that’s where I ended up. Now, I have no idea where life’s path leads.

   I can’t dwell on what went wrong or what’s wrong now. I can only hope I’ll have a little time left to reach out and serve my fellow human kind. Fame is no goal, but fortune is my goal because I know I’ll use it to be of service. Right now, I can use some help myself.

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

Monday, June 27, 2011

No Time To Rest

Wednesday June 22nd, 2011 - Libertyville, IL

   Being a hospital patient is like a full time job. I’m finding it very difficult to keep track of everything I have to do and everyone that I have to deal with on a daily basis. There are doctors telling me what I have and how they plan to get rid of it, nurses constantly putting me on different antibiotics and other people who just come in and check my vital signs.

   Then there’s the Polish housekeeping lady who tells me her troubles while she mops up my bathroom. She’s missing a few teeth, but she’s a sweetie of a person who comes from a family of eight. She’s number five, and some in her family have diabetes. I don’t have a choice, so when she comes through I’ll just listen. I think it makes her feel appreciated.

   There are also the people who bring my meals every day. They’re all super nice people too, but once in a while they’ll start a conversation when I don’t feel much like talking. It isn’t their fault, but I’ve got a lot on my mind and today one of them thought I was angry or something because I didn’t chat it up for ten minutes. I’d just been stuck with needles.

   That’s a huge thing with me, and the more I hate it the more I get it. My veins aren’t up to snuff apparently, and everyone who has to draw blood tells me that. What the hell am I supposed to do, bring out some barbells and pump iron for a few hours to pop them out?

   Both of my arms are black and blue, and I feel every little prick from needles that were administered by every little prick who does that for a job. What a horrible gig that has to be, but I guess someone has to do it. I do try my hardest to cooperate, but I fall far short.

   Sleep is an afterthought. There’s always someone wanting me to do some kind of trick  for them right about the time I’m starting to nod off. I need to have somebody check my sugar or give blood or pee in a cup or take a pill or put another I.V. in. It’s exhausting.

   Still, I’m very lucky to be up here and have such top quality care. My room is gorgeous and apparently I’m in a brand new wing of the hospital that’s top notch on every level. I’ll forever be grateful for all the care I’ve received up here, even though I have no idea how I will ever pay for it all. I know I can’t worry about that now, but it does concern me a lot.

   I know I’ll have to fill out some hardship papers and be in touch with people from every branch of the hospital who treated me - and that’s a lot. It’s all very overwhelming but if I dwell on it, I’ll be in a sad mood really fast. I can’t afford that now, I need to stay upbeat.

   I’ve still got a surgery to get through. Then, after that, I have to educate myself on how to change my entire life and deal with my diabetes. I’m not the first one to have to do this but I sure wasn’t planning on it. Once again, life throws another unexpected curve ball.

   Yes, there’s a ton of humor in all this, but there’s also a lot of angst as well. Will life as I know it ever get back to ‘normal’, and why is it me that has to go through this? All I’ve ever wanted was to make people laugh and spread some humor throughout life, not this.

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

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Filtering The Funny

Tuesday June 21st, 2011 - Libertyville, IL

   Being stuck in a seemingly hopeless situation like I am is not without some moments of extreme humor. If there’s one thing I’ve learned to do throughout a lifetime of ‘worst case scenario’ situations is find the funny - and it’s ALWAYS there. This time is no different.

   Unfortunately, humor comes from pain - and I’m in all kinds of it. Not only that, it’s the absolute worst kind imaginable. Yes, women have childbirth. Everyone says that hurts the worst, and I’m not disputing it. However, when a man’s coin purse is out of whack, other men are drawn to it and have a morbid curious empathy. It‘s the universal male language.

    I played baseball all of my youth and I dare any male to not laugh when a bad hop pops up and catches someone in the prunes. Not only do opponents and fans in the stands howl uncontrollably, one’s own teammates are sure to laugh the loudest. It’s especially funny if you know the guy personally. I don’t know why, but it adds a personal depth to the scene.

   Any male who’s had any kind of testicular alteration has it become his identity for life. I can still remember a kid from my grade school who had to have one of his beans removed after having a sledding accident. For the rest of school he was known as ’One Ball Bill’.

   I never knew if he found that funny, but everyone else in school surely did. We couldn’t stop with the one liners, and I have to admit I made my share and then some. It’s way too funny for a grade school kid not to laugh - especially when it’s someone else’s genitalia.

   I guess it’s my time to get paid back. Word is out that I have to have my own testicular situation altered, and I can hear the jokes flying back and forth from my hospital bed. Do I care? Not really. And, I probably deserve it. I’ve made fun of others myself, so let it rip.

   I can take a joke, and I’m usually the first one to laugh at myself. I just want the intense pain and uncertainty to go away. Once that’s done, I’ll be able to laugh a lot, and I’m sure I’ll crank out a lot of bits about my experiences here. I think I’ll call the CD “Half Nuts“.

   I’ve heard other comedians do bits about being in the hospital, but I have to believe I’ll be able to trump them all. That’s still a ways off though, I’ve got a lot of things unsettled apparently. Going home is not an option right now, and they told me I’d have to have the surgery at their convenience and that would take a lot of preparation on everyone’s part.

  So, here I sit - barely able to because I have an inflated scrotum that looks exactly like a sick clown twisted a balloon animal out of it. It’s swollen, discolored, painful as hell, and there are no signs of relief. The pain is so intense, I want to end my life quite frankly, but I’m still able to see the humor in it all. If I was watching this as a movie, I’d be howling.

   Right now, I’m howling in pain. Not only is my groin killing me, I’m having to learn to stick myself with needles several times a day for the diabetes. More laughs on the way but for now I’m sitting all alone in a hospital bed wondering why I have to go through all this.

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

Hello Hospital

Monday June 20th, 2011 - Libertyville, IL

   My head’s still spinning from everything that went down yesterday, and it looks like I’ll be here in the hospital for at least a while. I’ve been getting poked and prodded and asked all kinds of questions by all kinds of people, and I can tell this is going to be complicated.

   The first thing that screams at me is, how the hell am I going to pay for all this? It’s the absolute worst nightmare of the uninsured, but it’s too late now. The damage is done and I’m going to have to deal with it somehow. That’s for later, I have to survive this first.

   I’ve got two major problems to deal with. One, my diabetes is going to be an issue for a long time. My diet has been horrible and I know it, and there’s only so long one can cheat and eat whatever pops into mind at any time. I’ve been doing that my whole life so if I am not able to go nuts anymore I can live with it. I know I’ve needed discipline for a while.

   Everyone and their uncle seems to know all the answers, but now I’m going to not only find out the truth - I’m going to live it. I can’t keep walking around with 500 blood sugar and expect to stay walking for any length of time. In a way, this could be a good thing if it gets me to get healthier and feel better. I’ve heard stories of people turning it around, too.

   I’m sure I’m in for a major education for the rest of my life, but for now all I want to do is get myself feeling better. I don’t really feel bad from the diabetes pe se, but my testicle is absolutely excruciating. It continues to swell, and the tissue around it is raw and sore.

   I had one doctor come in today and talk to me all about diabetes. I thought he was kind of pompous, but it’s not my place to judge that. I’ve got my own problems, and if he can help me get out of this pain, his personality quirks are fine by me. I sat and listened to his speech, and I doubt there is an easy fix here. I’ll need to revamp my life starting NOW.

   As soon as the doctor left, a nurse came in and started showing me how to measure the insulin shots I’d need to give myself eventually and how to prick my finger so I could get a blood sugar reading to determine how to do it. Needles have never been my favorite but I can see I’ll have to get used to them on a daily basis or I won’t be around too long. Ugh.

   Attitude is everything with this and that’s what the doctor and nurse both said. I need to get a positive outlook and know it’s not a death sentence and just go on living my life in a positive way. That was tough enough before, but now I’ve got a whole new game to learn. If nothing else, I’ve got a world class group of friends to help me through this challenge.

   Another doctor came in and talked to me about my flaming pelvis. He said he thinks it’s an indirect result of the diabetes and it’s getting infected with gangrene of all things. Now there’s a diagnosis I never expected. Gangrene on the crotch? That sounds like something people got in the Middle Ages, not something I’m dealing with in 2011. The doctor said it doesn’t look good and may or may not involve losing some of my genitalia. Say WHAT?

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

Diabetes Diagnosis

Sunday June 19th, 2011 - Libertyville, IL

   I woke up at 5am on the dot feeling severe pain in a place I knew I couldn’t ignore. I’d originally hoped it would just go away by itself, but that’s a typical male reaction. We’re never ones to rush to the hospital, and especially with no health insurance I’m not either.

   Still, when one of the twins acts up, it gets full priority. It was way more swollen than it was when I went to bed, and even a little swelling down there isn’t a picnic. I took a slow shower and tried to scrub everything that may need looking at, but that took a long time. I had a hard time drying off from the shower and putting on clothes, but I knew I needed to.

   Every single little bitty teeny tiny movement was extremely sensitive, and with the way it had swollen up, every physical position was an extreme problem, especially sitting in a car. Before I ventured into the hospital I was thirsty so I stopped at the grocery store for a cold drink. I bought two large Gatorades and also got two icy cold slices of watermelon.

   I’m really trying to quit sodas, even though I still love them. It’s the bubbles. I know it’s not good for me, but the first few sips of a big old mattress pisser Mountain Dew or Pepsi or Dr. Pepper from a frosted container is an earthly pleasure for the ages. I really love it.

   Gatorade is starting to grow on me though. I’m sure that’s loaded with sugar too, but on a hot day I find myself letting one trickle down my gullet and it makes me feel I’m at least a little healthier than I’d be if I drank a Pepsi. I don’t drink or smoke, can’t I enjoy this?

   It was all I could handle to get out of my car and ever so gingerly sashay my way across the parking lot to the emergency room to check in. It felt like I was walking on egg shells, and I couldn’t walk fast both because I was in pain and my kidneys were ready to burst.

   The admitting clerk in the emergency room was very attractive, and when she asked the reason for my visit I felt embarrassed to tell her I had a swollen testicle. Of course she had a hard time hearing me, and I had to say it louder just as some people got off an elevator.

   I asked to use the bathroom and she told me they’d probably need a sample for later so I filled it up and gave it to her when I got out. I haven’t often had to place a fresh container of freshly made urine in front of anyone before much less a good looking woman so it felt pretty awkward to say the least. I was then taken into a room to begin getting examined.

    Someone took my vital signs and someone else asked if I had insurance while someone else had me fill out more paperwork. Someone else still took a blood sample and I knew I was in good hands because I could feel these people totally knew what they were doing.

   Before long, someone came in and told me I had diabetes and my blood sugar was up in the 500 range. I know nothing about blood sugar, but I could tell by their looks of concern that everyone in the room knew this was dangerously high. They told me I’d be staying in the hospital for a while, no matter what the verdict was on my testicle. This is not a joke.

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Undivided Attention

Saturday June 18th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   There are scant few things in this life that tend to capture one’s full, complete and 100% undivided attention, especially in males, more than a malfunction with the genitals. Even the slightest glitch anywhere close to ‘down there’ becomes Topic A, and all else quickly fades to a distant blur. Unfortunately, I’ve had way too much experience with this myself.

   When I was about five, I can still remember being out in the back yard by myself at my grandparents’ house in Milwaukee doing what five year old boys do in a back yard in the summer. There were birds and bugs and flowers and a big old lawn to run around on, and I remember having the time of my life out there. The weather was great and I was content.

   One thing my grandparents both watched over like hawks was my sugar intake. I’m not sure if it was because they’d gone through The Great Depression and didn’t want to spend money on sweets or that they just didn’t want me to be a hyperactive little maniacal out of control monkey like we see so commonly today. Whatever the case, sweets were treats.

   That particular day, we’d had watermelon for lunch and that was a big time treat. I think I ate double my weight at the time in watermelon and eventually my five year old kidneys needed to do what they do and I didn’t feel like walking all the way back to the house and leave all the fun I was having so I whipped it out in the yard and started to let it sprinkle.

   As luck would have it, while I had my pee shooter out a rather large dragonfly decided it wanted  to use me as a landing perch and I just about had a heart attack. To my five year old eyes, that thing looked like a pterodactyl right out of Jurassic Park and I thought I was going to be carried away to a strange land by that thing and dropped into a live volcano.

   I panicked and yanked the zipper of my shorts up as fast as I could and managed to snag a hunk of skin and get it caught in the zipper. I must have screamed loud enough because I remember my grandmother coming all the way out in the yard to see what it was about.

   I’ve still got a scar there to this day, and I don’t know what it’s good for other than that story. It’s hilarious when someone ELSE’S ‘nads are put in jeopardy but when the lottery number strikes home it’s a whole different story. Nobody wants to win that sweepstakes.

   Right now I’m not feeling healthy at all. I’ve been struggling with a horrific cough that may or may not be related to a case of pneumonia I had when I was three years old. They said back then I’d have to be careful my whole life because it would be very easy to get it again. I know I should be seeing a doctor on a regular basis, but who has money for that?

    I’m in a very bad way because my right testicle is swelling up for some reason and I am more than a little concerned about it. As a man, when one of the twins swells up, it’s a no laugh situation. Oh, it’s hilarious when it happens to someone else, but when it’s in one’s own pants the joke isn’t quite as funny. I’ve been in pain all day, and if it doesn’t get any better by tomorrow morning I’ll have to go get it checked out. This gets my full attention.

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

Feeling Festive

Friday June 17th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   A stellar standout of numerous boo boos I’ve made in my personal marketing campaign  over the years is not getting involved in more comedy festivals. It’s a different vibe than a club gig, and usually a lot easier. Festivals are used for showcasing talent to the industry.

   The longest continuous running event at least in North America that I’d think of would have to be the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal. I know there’s one in Edinburgh over in Scotland, but I’m not sure which one has run longer. I know there’s also been a big one for decades in Melbourne, Australia and there was always one for HBO in Aspen, CO.

   Shame on me for not being on top of every one of those festivals and a whole lot of new ones like the Boston Comedy Festival, Detroit Comedy Festival, and ones that even leave me scratching my head. You mean there really is a ‘Three Mile Island Comedy Festival’?

   I’m not sure, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there was. Festivals are a lot of fun actually. I’ve had experience in a few, and I’ve not only had fun - I’ve met a lot of nice people both comics and industry people. Many times it’s the only time to get a chance to speak with a person that is totally impossible to track down on the phone. It can be a networking blitz.

   There was a great one in Chicago for several years run by a very funny comedian in his own right named Dan Carlson along his wife that I was asked to be part of. It was a really fun time hanging with everyone, and I got to cross paths with comics like Ron White who walked all the way up those green room stairs at Zanies to tell me how funny I was. Nice.

   He did it in front of everyone, and it felt great. He shook my hand and said he’d not had someone crack him up like that in a long time. I’ve heard that same line from many others in many places, but hearing it from someone of Ron White’s status can only lead to many more business connections as word hopefully spreads. This is how to network properly.

   That being said, Just For Laughs has a festival in Chicago this week along with the TBS Network and I know this isn’t the first year they’ve done it. They’ve chosen to completely ignore the Chicago heavy hitters, and I have to admit that rankles me more than a little.

   They’ve been advertising all over town and are claiming something like 100 comedians in 13 venues, and I’m glad there’s a comedy awareness in Chicago that isn’t only improv. I don’t have a problem with improv, but it’s different than standup, and I like standup.

   I’d love to see some of the Chicago locals get a shot and get seen by the industry people who I’m sure are in town. I have made no inroads whatsoever with any of this, but neither have any of the other acts I’m thinking of. Again, we’re better at comedy than at business.

   Schmoozing to get in festivals can be a hassle, and many now charge to watch a tape of a comedian who wants to enter. That turns a lot of good acts off, and it’s also why a lot of good comedians never work festivals. On the other hand, it can be worth it for contacts.

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

Friday, June 17, 2011

Library Laughter

Thursday June 16th, 2011 - Chelsea, MI

   Once in a great while, everything falls into place in an unexpected way and pleasantness is the theme of an entire day. Today was one of those days and I thoroughly enjoyed every single second of it. It didn’t make me rich, it didn’t make me famous, but it was total fun.

   I was asked by Roger Feeny, booker of the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase, to perform at an outdoor show under a tent in front of the library in Chelsea, MI. That kind of request is not what would normally trip my trigger, but Roger assured me it wouldn’t be a hell ride.

   Roger is a very easy guy to deal with. I wish all bookers were like him. He’s as low key and laid back as it gets, and there’s never a problem with money or dates. The check is on time and never bounces, and if he puts a date in his book, it’s in - no last minute switches.

   I had a blast working at the Comedy Showcase last weekend, even though my voice was gone by Saturday night. Roger offered me this show and I gratefully accepted it. Money is tight in the summer, and a chance to turn a nice buck on a Thursday night is a rare treat.

   On the way up I stopped to have lunch in Kalamazoo with another great guy named Phil Anglin who I’ve done shows for in the past. He contacted me about helping him start up a comedy night years ago, and we’ve stayed in touch. He’s also fantastic to work with and a good person too. He’s an honest guy trying to make a living for his family in tough times.

   Any time I’m near Kalamazoo I try to hook up with Phil just because he’s such a quality person. If the comedy business were loaded with Roger Feenys and Phil Anglins, I’d be a superstar from coast to coast. Instead, I’m a semi regular in obscure towns in Michigan.

   That’s not to say every other booker is the devil, but many of the bigger ones do tend to be a little condescending and can be difficult, as can comics. The difference is, I don’t go looking to hang out personally with many of the big bookers. It’s just a business thing.

   Lunch with Phil was very fun, and so was the show in Chelsea. They have some sort of month long festival there, and they have a lot of events lined up from car shows to bands to four weeks of comedy shows. I am very grateful to have been chosen to be on the list.

   I’d heard the weather was supposed to be terrible, but it was exactly the opposite. It was about as perfect as could be asked for - no bugs, no rain, no humidity. It was sunny and in the 70s, and it set the mood for the whole show. People showed up ready to see comedy.

   Kevin Kramis was the host of the show, a very funny guy with a booming voice who is also the part time announcer for the Toledo Mud Hens baseball team. He’s one of the top Michigan guys, and did a wonderful job warming up the crowd and setting a good tone.

   Nate Armbruster was the feature, and he was cool too. The whole trip was laid back and there were no glitches. If comedy was like this every week, life would be a lot more fun.

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

Trading Deadline

Wednesday June 15th, 2011 - St. Joseph, MI

   When I was a kid, June 15th had two meanings. First, it was the Major League Baseball trading deadline. That meant teams had to make whatever deals they were going to make to patch their roster holes to hopefully make the playoffs and go on to the World Series.

   My hometown Milwaukee Brewers were terrible then, but I always held out hope they’d pull off some miraculous swindle on June 15th that would turn their fortunes around. They did get Hank Aaron for Dave May, but I was too stupid to realize that was just a courtesy move so Hank could play his last years in Milwaukee. Dave May was the odd man out.

   One year, I think it was 1975 or ‘76, the Brewers landed Bobby Darwin from the Twins for Johnny Briggs on or right near the trading deadline and I was really excited. He was a slugger from another team, and even though I really liked Johnny Briggs I thought it was a brilliant move. This would be what it took to turn my mediocre Brewers into a dynasty.

    I thought for sure he’d light a fire under the rest of the team and go on a one man tear like there’d never been in the history of baseball. He’d get to Milwaukee and realize how loyal to the end the fans were and how good bratwurst tasted and he’d be our new hero.

   What actually happened is he showed up and collected a check for a while, but the team was still bad and not much had changed. Then, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox with my all time favorite pitcher Tom Murphy for the journeyman talents of one Bernie Carbo.

   I’m amazed I can still recall useless details like this, but it’s very vivid in my brain even now. I couldn’t tell you in detail what I had for lunch yesterday, but the Bobby Darwin for Johnny Briggs trade at the deadline in the ‘70s is still there clear as day. I think I’m senile.

   Trades in sports have always fascinated me. It’s the only profession where someone can be shipped to another company and has no control over it. What if the district manager of Red Lobster came to work one day and was told he’d been traded to Applebee’s for a bus boy, two waitresses and a dishwasher to be named later? It would keep him on his toes.

   The other significance of June 15th is that it’s my sister Tammy’s birthday. As a kid, she was the oldest so her age would always be impressive. She’s four years older than me and she got to reach the big teen years first. Now, it’s totally opposite. Funny how that works.

   It’s not funny how Tammy and I never really got along. I can’t help thinking about how it’s been over 18 years since she’s spoken to me, and how useless it all is. Whatever kind of sibling bond there may have been has long been erased. I don’t think I’d know what to say if I saw her now. She’s apparently got a bug up her ass that has no time to talk to me.

   I’ve never claimed to be the perfect brother or anything else, but whatever I did to cause this didn’t deserve a solid 18 year sentence of total silence in my opinion. Too bad I can’t get traded to another family. I’d go in a second. I could use a swim in a fresh gene pool.

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

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tuesday Night Movie

Tuesday June 14th, 2011 - Kenosha, WI

   Still suffering with my watered down whooping cough, but I can’t let it overtake my life forever. If I croak from it, I croak, but I’ll try the cheapest solutions first. I feel a tad better after soaking my throat with all kinds of liquids, fruit juices, throat lozenges, cough drops and resting, but I’m still not out of the water. I don’t feel 100%, but I am feeling stronger.

   Everyone and their grandmother has an opinion of both what I have and what I need to do about it, and I appreciate that at least someone is thinking of me. Walking Pneumonia has been the common diagnosis, especially since I’ve had it before. I don’t know if it is or it isn’t, but I do know ‘Walking Pneumonia’ sounds like a really cool name for a band.

   I sat around and didn’t do much of anything most of the day, and that felt really good on many levels. I’ve not been exercising or eating as well as I’d like to lately, and I’m feeling the effects of it. I have to face the fact that I’m getting older and I can’t fart around with it anymore. My days of eating whatever I want need to be over, but I keep going back there.

   Again, I think soda is my main killer, and even yanking that alone from my daily menu has got to be a huge positive. I see people all the time on commercials bragging about the weight they lost with Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers or Rump Reducers or whatever.

   It is so easy to get off any kind of desirable path in life and so hard to stay on one. Why does that have to be the way it works? It’s very frustrating, and adds to the chances of not living a satisfied life by a ton. One little ice cream cone can ruin months or years of a diet. Planning on living right is one thing, carrying it out is another. Action means everything.

    If there’s one group that does follow through and take action, it’s the film group I’m in in Kenosha headed up by Mark Gumbinger. He goes about his business in a very forward driven method and gets things done. I respect that, and also like the people in the group.

   Mark is working on his next couple of projects, and I’ve managed to make it into a crew of regulars who have a part in it. It’s fun to be a part of the inner circle of something cool and at the very least I know I’ll be in the finished product and we’ll have a blast doing it.

   We’ve been having semi regular ‘movie nights’ for the last few months at Mark’s house in Kenosha where he has a large screening area in his basement. Mark plans the movie we see, so it blends in with whatever project he’s working on at the time. It’s very organized.

   In tonight’s feature presentation, we watched the 1969 version of ‘True Grit’ with John Wayne. I hadn’t seen it since I was a kid, and remember loving it then. I enjoyed the new version with Jeff Bridges as well. I wanted to see how the old one compared to the new.

   Sorry Duke, but it wasn’t even close. Movie making, like a lot of things, has come light years ahead in just a few decades. I remembered that movie WAY better than it actually is and it was actually a little disappointing. Sometimes things are better left just a memory.

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

Off With A Cough

Monday June 13th, 2011 - Kenosha, WI

   Cough. Hack. Wheeze. Sniffle. Gurgle. Sneeze. Shiver. Repeat process, again and again until drifting off to a peaceful transitional death seems like a welcome relief. I am SO sick I can’t stand it anymore. I can’t speak, I can’t sleep, all I’ve been doing is coughing like a maniac until it feels like my eyes are going to pop out of their sockets from the pressure.

   Please, could someone just shoot me immediately? Two behind the left ear ought to do it. Feel free to keep my ’I (heart) Uranus’ bumper stickers and ’Schlitz Happened!’ shirts as my tokens of thanks, and I hope you can do a lot better with my concepts than I have. It hurts just to breathe at this point, and I’ve coughed so much my throat is like raw meat.

   I’m a legendary weenie-wuss (or is it wuss-weenie?) when it comes to having anything even close to do with being under the weather, and this is about as under it as I care to be. Good thing I’ve been mostly illness free for the better part of my life, or I’d really be in a bad way. It’s not often I’ve had to fight my way through something that hurts this much.

   It could be pneumonia back for another visit, as I’ve had it before. Or, it could be some leftover throat gunk from someone’s innards who breathed in my face or shook my hand after a comedy show in the last week, and saturated my usually frighteningly healthy pair of pink lungs with the black jungle rot tar of death that left me in the shape I’m in now.

   I don’t think it’s my infected tonsils, even though my throat feels like I’ve been packing it with Brillo pads and insulation for the past couple of days. My cough is too intense. It’s completely annoying, even to me, and I didn’t want to subject anyone else to it so I didn’t go home last night after the radio show. I got a hotel room instead, so I could rest quietly.

  Well, quietly for me anyway. I have no idea how infectious any of this is, but I figured it must be, even a little, if I got it. Who drooled on me in the last week or so? That could be anyone, but I’m not going to live like Howard Hughes and not shake anyone’s hand. That just isn’t how I roll. I mingle and visit and sign autographs, or whatever I’m asked to do.

  Radio was totally rough last night, and I felt like was torturing whatever listeners we did have with my raspy hack, and I had to shut my microphone off countless times to get that deep painful cough low enough in my throat to scratch the itch so I could keep on talking. I apologized to the co-hosts, but what else could I do? We needed to get through our time.

   I’ve got a nice variety of lozenges and cough drops now and my old standby from early radio days, Fisherman’s Friend. I also bought some Nyquil type knockoff that I’m hoping will at least let me snooze for a few hours. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so low.

   I really do need to get some kind of health insurance coverage. If this jungle rot doesn’t kill me, I’m right at the age where they start prowling my poop shoot with colonoscopies, prostate exams and that occasional extra money run as a drug mule through that prison on the Turkish border I keep getting postcards from. I only hope I live that long. I feel rotten.

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

LeBron's Letdown

Sunday June 12th, 2011 - Ann Arbor, MI/Kenosha, WI

   Although it doesn’t affect my personal life even a little, it made me feel warm and fuzzy all over to learn of the Miami Heat losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals. The games weren’t the issue as much as it was shutting up the cocky mouth of LeBron James.

   Seeing him look like a lost little cub scout wandering all over the court during the most crucial times in the 4th quarter of several games absolutely warmed the cockles of my itty bitty heart. I’m sure the entire city of Cleveland loved it too, and I think they deserved it.

   I personally think the guy behaved like a big time selfish wanker by not just choosing to bolt his home town Cleveland Cavaliers after they kissed every square inch of his ass and all surrounding areas, but the method he chose to do it. He stuck it up all of the collective poop shoots of all the people who supported him the most on his way up the star ladder.

   I’ve frequently heard the saying ‘What goes around comes around’, but I can’t recall the time when I’ve seen it actually happen. This was definitely it, and I’m not ashamed to say it made my day to see the Heat players walk off the floor with blank looks on their pusses.

   I really think there is a big danger in having too much too soon in life. Struggle isn’t all bad, as it does teach humility and builds character. There’s a fine line as to just how much of it is necessary though, and at some point some kind of success is welcome to justify all the hard work that’s required behind the scenes. Some people have it easier than others.

   Look at the pro athletes of any major sport. Those kids have been coddled and protected from the real world like show animals since the first curly hair sprang up from underneath their prepubescent testicles, but in reality they need to get their asses chewed out as well.

   There is something positive to be taken from the experience of failure and dare I say it - LOSING, at least in small doses. I still remember today how my grandfather used to tippy toe the very fine line between busting my chops and keeping me humble, and encouraging me to hang in there and keep trying. It wasn’t only sports either, it was everything in life.

   This is a lot bigger than athletics, it’s human nature. A kid like LeBron James is handed the keys to a Lamborghini of a body in high school, while most of the rest of us are barely able to keep our zits under control or random erections from popping up out of nowhere.

   None of this is fair, but life has never been fair so why start now? It is what it is, and we as a society worship physical prowess way more than mental aptitude. LeBron James is a millionaire hundreds of times over at age 26 just because he can run, jump and slam dunk a basketball, while I’m pushing 50 and am thrilled my ’new’ car is only seven years old.

   We live in two different worlds, and my being glad about his not winning a title will not affect him in the least. He’s still a bazillionaire, and has a bunch of chances to get the ring he missed out on this year in future years. I’ve got my own problems, but this pleases me.

   I think the reason it does please me so much is that deep down I wish I could have had a chance to be in the limelight as a star athlete. Who of us wouldn’t want to experience that kind of wealth, fame, power and attention? Again, it’s human nature, and it frightens me.

   We really are delicately wired creatures, and true happiness in this lifetime is extremely rare from what I’ve seen. Very few of us are satisfied, and if we are it’s never for any long period of time from my observation. We always want more, and I guess that’s ok, it keeps us striving and working to improve, but very few of us are ever in a state of contentment.

   Many times I’ve read in books where ‘the joy is in the doing’ or ‘the adventure is in the journey’ or something else very closely worded that basically says ‘There’s no magic way to happiness - enjoy what you have while you have it.’ That’s not always what we want to hear as human beings, and it tends to leave a big hollow hole right in the middle of us all.

   This is way deep, and I don’t know what the answer is other than to keep slugging it out and trying to enjoy the positive parts of every day. That’s not always easy, but it’s truly all we have so if I don’t learn to do it I’m not guaranteed anything at all. ‘Success’ is elusive, or at least it has as many definitions as there are people. We all get to choose what ours is.

   Is LeBron James a success? I bet he has his doubts at the moment, even though he plays on the second best basketball team in the world, and has an iron clad contract that will be more than he, his kids or his kids’ kids can spend for the next fifty years. I’d say he’s ok.

   He lives and works in the best part of Miami, and he got to choose that lifestyle and get his ass kissed by many other teams who wanted him to go there. He got tours of cities and press conferences and I’m sure he ate the finest food in every place he went and it was all FREE. Who wouldn’t want to get that kind of treatment at least once during this lifetime?

   That’s why human nature scares me so much. We’d all be lying if we said we wouldn’t at least like a little sample of what that’s all like. It’s pleasure vs. pain. Human nature is a big game of craving pleasure and avoiding pain, even though pain can sometimes help us improve. Everyone wants to eat whatever we want, but nobody wants to exercise it off.

   I really think having that mentor figure who can put the hammer down is very important in everyone’s life - especially big stars. I don’t think LeBron James had a father in his life so part of his arrogance and ignorance can be blamed on that. After a certain age, nobody would say no to him - even when he needed it the most. No wonder he made bad choices.

   I read where Brett Favre’s father Irv was the only one who could control him, and when he died Brett became a maniac. It sure makes sense after seeing how he’s handled his life the past few years. Is he ‘successful’? To most people, yes. But he a spoiled little brat too.

   Even the Beatles dealt with it. Brian Epstein was their manager and had them dressed in suits with their haircuts. It was a calculated look with a plan. When he died, they all went out and did whatever they wanted. Are any of these people happy? I’d love to ask them.

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

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Much Weaker Speaker

Saturday June 11th, 2011 - Ann Arbor, MI

   Just when I thought I’d hit my stride for the weekend, along comes an unexpected glitch to make it a big time challenge. Normally I love a challenge, but not like this. My voice is shot and I can barely speak, THE very worst obstacle any public speaker has to overcome.

   Over all the years I’ve done comedy, it’s been thankfully rare to have to deal with voice issues other than an occasional cold or flu bug which does affect the show. Comedy is not easy when everything is functioning correctly. When the voice goes out, it’s a nightmare.

   That’s what happened tonight, and it was totally frustrating. I had noticed a bit of a sore throat in the past couple of nights, but I didn’t think anything of it. It didn’t distract me on stage in any way, so I didn’t think it was a big deal. I didn’t even buy any throat lozenges.

   In a perfect world, I love to nap before a show. Even if it’s only fifteen minutes to a half hour, it clears my head and I feel extra sharp before going on stage. I drank a lot of liquids all day, trying to moisten my throat. I got my nap in close to show time so I thought I’d be ok. Wrong. I woke up and it felt like I’d swallowed an SOS pad. I knew I was in trouble.

   I’m not a doctor, and I have no idea what it is. I do know that I’ve never had my tonsils out, and years ago I was told they’d swell up every few years and make my life miserable for a few days. That one has come true, and they have. This feels much worse though. It’s excruciating to swallow, and if it is my tonsils they’ve swollen to the size of ravioli pies.

   I’ve been coughing a lot too, and that’s worse. It’s raw and hoarse and when I feel a fit of it coming on I know it will be several minutes before it’s over. That makes everything worse, and it’s a big time energy drain. If it’s a common cold, it sure doesn’t feel like it.

   I did have a pretty severe case of pneumonia when I was about three years old, and I can vaguely remember being in the hospital for a couple of weeks. My grandparents told me it was pretty serious, and the doctors said I’d be susceptible to catching it again through my entire life, whatever that meant. I’ve never caught it again, and I haven’t worried about it.

   Does one ‘catch’ pneumonia? I have no idea. My grandmother used to be deathly afraid of toilet seats and doorknobs, and was constantly washing them at her home several times a day. Then, one time she somehow got ringworm and I thought it was funny because she was the one who was so worried about catching something all the time. I never think of it.

   I shake people’s hands after shows all the time. So what? I’m not a germophobe, but my life doesn’t revolve around washing my hands obsessively either. Maybe I caught a bug or someone sneezed in my direction or who knows what? All I know is it affected my show.

   Actually, it affected both shows. By the end of the late show I could barely speak, and it was physically painful to get any words out at all. That’s a big red flag, but thankfully it’s the end of this run of shows. Tomorrow night is the radio show. I hope I feel better then.

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

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Comedian's Comedians

Thursday June 9th, 2011 - Grand Rapids, MI

   Whenever I think I have troubles, I think of my friend Ted Norkey. Ted is a comedian’s comedian, and if there was a Hall of Fame for performers of the ‘80s boom years, he’d be a card carrying charter member. Anyone in the business who knows Ted loves him dearly.

   There’s just something about his style that’s special and different, and when comedians who’ve worked the road for any length of time talk among ourselves about who’s the best in our eyes, Ted’s name always pops up fondly. Whatever ‘it’ is, Ted has it. He’s brilliant.

   The sad part is, nobody in the public knows who he is. Like many of the crop of comics from that era, Ted never went to Hollywood to play that insane game. He was proud to be a comic, and that’s who he was. Unfortunately, that decision very rarely makes one rich.

   Ted isn’t the only member of that bittersweet club. Other names that pop up in my head quickly are Frankie Bastille, John Riggi, Larry Reeb, Tim Walkoe, Dwight York, Dwayne Kennedy, Don Reese, Steve Seagren, Carla Filisha, Keith Stubbs, Jimmy McHugh, Mark Colella, Tim Slagle, Count Woodrow, Rick D’Elia and unfortunately Dobie Maxwell too.

   All these acts have the eyes, ears and respect of other performers, but are nowhere near at the level of public recognition I feel they all deserve. A few of the names have hit it big in other areas, like John Riggi and Carla Filisha. They’ve both done very well as big time Hollywood writers, and deservedly so - but they were also performers comedians loved.

   Steve Seagren has been doing quite well as an actor, and unfortunately Frankie Bastille is no longer with us. The rest of those names are out struggling to make a living, and I can totally empathize with all their plights because I’m one of them. These are quality people in addition to being quality acts, but for whatever reason none of us have had our break.

   It’s not a matter of talent with any of those names, including myself. It’s a matter of lots of other things like timing and luck and business acumen and desire and all kinds of other variables that make up the recipe. Talent is never the only ingredient, it’s a total package.

   That’s how it goes, and we have to either accept it or quit the business. None of us have anything we like better or are better suited for, so we usually end up staying in it trying to make the best of whatever we do have at our disposal. Ted had a very ugly break when he got cancer many years ago, but he’s made a fantastic recovery and we’re thrilled for him.

   Ted lives near Grand Rapids, MI and runs an open mic night at a place that did comedy regularly for years called ‘The Crazy Horse’. It might sound like a dive, but it’s actually a very nice venue and I’ve always had fun there. Ted asked me to show up so I had to do it.

   It fit in with my schedule this week, so I gladly said I’d come out and do the show, but I mainly wanted to see Ted. He looks and sounds great, and his wife Lynn cooked us all big steaks on the grill. Ted Norkey is a big star in my eyes, and it was great to hook up again.

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

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Comedy Cage Match

Wednesday June 8th, 2011 - Ann Arbor, MI

   I’m still disturbed by that hellish situation last night. I’ve done plenty of one nighters in questionable locations before, but this was downright brutal. It was a decent enough joint, and that’s what made it so scary. It wasn’t a sleazy biker bar or anything. It was a bar that was just remodeled apparently. Those were the stupidest people I’ve seen in a long time.

   What’s most frightening is the fact that they’d consider doing comedy at all. There was no cover charge which is always a red flag, but as these times go, I was thankful to get the work. Back in the day, one nighters were the backbone of the whole business. They’d pay for the travel expenses, and then a weekend two or three night run was the profit margin.

   Most of the one nighters were in smaller towns, but at least the people would listen and enjoy the show. That bunch last night acted a lot more animal than human, and they were drunk. Is this a commentary on location, the times or society as a whole? I don’t know.

   I do know that I’m SO done with these kinds of scenarios, especially when a long drive is involved. Did I get paid? Yes, but it’s not worth it to my dignity to have to fight a mob of disrespectful monkeys just to get their attention. I refuse to do that after all these years.

   I’m not going to mention the town or the joint or the booker because none of it matters. I actually liked the staff, including the owner. The booker is a good guy and just trying to keep paying gigs alive for comics. I’m upset with the rude behavior of a drooling public.

   It’s too bad it has all de-evolved to this level. The next generation of comics need those one nighters to polish their craft. These nightmare gigs don’t help anyone grow. It’s more of a babysitting situation and that’s not productive. Maybe comedy is too overexposed for it to be like it was. I know change is inevitable with anything, but this is a big train wreck.

  Ann Arbor will be fine, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy my weekend there. The pay is a little low, but that’s part of supply and demand. A lot of good comics want to work there, so they’re able to keep their expenses down and still have solid shows. That’s business, and I get it.

   I’m in business too, and that’s why I accepted the one nighters to piece together a week of work so it’s financially worth my while to be out on the road. Had I chosen to walk off stage last night, I’d be out the pay for last night, tonight since it’s the same owner, and not in good standing with the booker - a fellow comic I like and respect. So, I stayed up there.

   Nobody in that room knew how difficult that was, and more painfully nobody cared. It’s difficult enough doing a show for people who are paying attention, not to mention yelling random incoherent drunken psychobabble for 45 minutes. It seemed like double eternity.

   Tonight wasn’t much better. We did a different location of the same restaurant, and the crowd talked most of the way through the show here too. I had a verbal altercation with a cage fighter and his slut bag date, and it got tense for a while before I called their bluff.

   That could have turned ugly in just a few seconds, but I’ve learned after this many years of facing all kinds of bullies that backing down doesn‘t work. The way to win in that type of situation is to get right in the grill of the idiot and show the audience who’s in charge.

   I was finally starting to get the attention of at least the majority of the room, and then he piped up with some half witted comment that took me out of my rhythm. I offered him an opportunity to say his piece so everyone could hear him, but he tried to turn it against me.

   Not smart on his part. He tried to launch his pathetic little verbal BB scud missile, but it didn’t even reach the stage. I didn’t hear it, but I could tell by the tone he meant it to be an attack and I couldn’t allow that. If I’d lost control of the situation it would have been over right there. I’ve been in scenarios like that before, and split second decisions are needed.

   He had enough scars on his face to let everyone in the joint know whether he’d won or lost his cage fights, he didn’t do it the easy way. This gimoke had a puss that looked like it had hail damage, but his old lady looked worse. She had that distinct trailer park/crystal meth addict look that apparently all ham and egger martial arts wannabes seem to fall for.

   I hit him with a few heckler lines and made sure I let the audience know I wasn’t afraid of him, even though I had no idea how drunk he was and/or if he was planning on taking any swings or kicks. He probably could have torn my heart through my throat and shown it to me before I died, but by then it was too late. I’d made the first move and was all in.

   In a perfect world, I don’t want to have any altercations with anyone. I want to perform standup comedy and let the audience forget their troubles for a while, not create my own or any for the club. I warned them both to be quiet for the rest of the show and said if I’d hear one more word the show would be over. He immediately started in so I left the stage.

   Talk about power. Even though nobody paid a cover charge, by then it was me against a drunken martial arts fighter, and the audience saw that I wasn’t going to back down. I sat down at a table with the opening act Kate Brindle and comedy writer Bill Mihalic who’d stopped in to say hello. The looks on their faces were priceless, and everyone else waited.

   The silence was deafening, but I was in charge here. I knew the people were having fun, and I’d gladly finish a show for those who wanted to hear it. But, I wasn’t going to let the situation slide and I demanded the two troublemakers get kicked out before I’d continue.

   The guy got up and tried to get in my face, and I could see he probably was the real deal as some kind of fighter. He had scars and smelled of B.O. and then started making threats of hurting me that everyone else heard. I knew I was ok because he’d threatened me first.

   Had he hit me, I probably could have sued someone, and I wasn’t sure he wouldn’t do it so I reached into my pocket for my car keys and had them sticking out through my fingers so I’d have at least some defense. They ended up leaving and I ended up finishing my set, and then it was all over. The audience loved it, but not me. This could‘ve been very ugly.

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

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

An Evening In Hell

Tuesday June 7th, 2011 - Ann Arbor, MI

   Back out for another week of road work, or so I thought. BIG mistake. Huge. ‘The road’ as I’ve known it for the better part of a lifetime appears to be dead. One thing is definitely for sure, if the rest of the week is anything like tonight, I’LL be dead. This was a disaster.

   In the old days, it was possible to piece together a week of work from different booking agents and manufacture a living. One night from one booker, then one or two more from a different one in the area, then maybe a weekend run from a third, and it all worked out.

   Usually, booking agents tend to have work in certain regions. Sometimes it overlaps, so that’s how to piece together weeks so everyone wins. I’ll call a booker and say I’m in the area on a certain week and try to get something close by to bring the pay up for the week.

   That’s what I thought I was doing this week. I’m in Ann Arbor, MI for the weekend and I really like that club. Audiences are smart and the manager and staff are laid back and my style has always gone over very well there. I haven’t been there in a while and I’m excited to be back. I thought I’d done well by finding two nights in front of it to fill out the week.

   The guy who booked these shows is a fellow comic and a nice guy. He did warn me that they’d be ‘typical one nighters’ and that he was just booking them to keep sources of cash available to working comics in these times. I don’t fault the guy for any of that, and I was grateful to get them. It would pay for my gas and food, even though there was no hotel.

   Most one nighters come with a hotel room, but there are a lot of comedians in Michigan so they don’t always do that here. Whatever. Motel 6 is nearby, and I still come out ahead   in the end, or so I thought. This was one of the most brutal gigs I’ve ever done, and that’s a big statement coming from me as I’ve done them all. Why? Money. That’s always why.

   This was beyond money. It was some road house in the middle of nowhere that doesn’t charge a cover, and the people were drunker and stupider than I’ve ever seen gather all in
one place in recent memory. They either talked through the entire show or stared up at the stage with blank looks of bewilderment like we were speaking in some form of gibberish.

   The opening act was Kate Brindle, one of my all time faves. She’s a sweetheart and one of the most peaceful souls I’ve ever met and they just buried her alive. They talked all the
way through her show and it was downright rude. I could tell it would happen to me also.

   Sure enough, they didn’t shut up the entire time. I stood there trying to be dignified, but that’s no picnic when an entire room full of drunken apes are babbling. I’ve done way too
many of these in my lifetime and seriously considered just walking off stage and leaving.

   Those boozers weren’t there for comedy, and it wouldn’t have mattered a bit. But, I told the guy who booked it I’d do it and I spoke to the owner who was actually a nice guy. He
apologized for the drunks and said tomorrow night would be better. It couldn’t be worse.

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

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Persistence Insistence

Monday June 6th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   One of the toughest parts of being in business for one’s self is that it’s very easy to keep making the exact same mistakes over and over again. It can be a frustrating waste of time, and even if things do start going well it’s always a chore looking after one’s weak points.

   Self employment is no easy undertaking, and I totally respect anyone who is able to pull it off successfully. There are all kinds of hats that need to be worn at various times, and it takes years to get into any kind of a groove and know what needs to be done and when.

    Personal strengths and weaknesses play a major part in determining anyone’s successes or failures, and nobody is good at everything. It’s a kick in the ego to have to admit one is not good at something, but it’s also smart business. That’s the only way to get any better.

   As a comedian, it’s difficult enough to develop an act that consistently gets booked and makes a steady living. I’ve managed to stay consistently booked for twenty-five years, but I made a butt load of mistakes during that time. I wish I could have half of them back, but I can’t. It’s a painful process, and hurts even more when there’s nobody available to ask.

   That’s why I’m so passionate about teaching classes. I know how difficult this business really is, and I want to help others avoid the stupid mistakes I made and continue to make. It’s difficult enough to focus on the onstage part of comedy, but offstage minutia is really where it can go wrong. Most of that comes from ignorance too. There needs to be a plan.

   Putting it all together is very tricky. Mistakes tend to delay the process, but it’s also the way to get an education. In the big picture, there’s always a next step to be made, and it’s always a matter of timing. Very few if any I’ve ever seen always get the timing right. It’s a crapshoot, and needs to be thought out in advance in order to reap the most benefits.

   Sometimes all of this makes my head spin. It’s like going through a maze. It’s easy for someone to look back and see where the problem spots were, but as it’s all happening it’s a very different perspective. The farther along in the process, the more crucial each move.

   My biggest source of frustration is my constant lack of focus. I’ve got so many ideas for projects, and I must say I still think most of them are good ones. My problem is I have the affliction known as “alligator mouth with a hummingbird ass”. I talk a good game, but the follow through is weak. I can’t do everything myself, nobody can. In turn, time is wasted.

   I thought I had a plan in place with people helping me, but that’s totally fallen apart and I feel like I’m starting all over again. In a way I am, but that’s how to get things done. If a plan falls apart, another one has to be made. I’m way past ‘Plan B’ by now. I lost count.

   The most difficult thing of all is to not lose hope. I am not making nearly the progress I thought I’d be making, but that’s how it goes sometimes. Back to the lab and make a new plan and get going on that. Persistence is the key, and if I don’t try again it’ll all be over.

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

Monday, June 6, 2011

An Imperfect World

Sunday June 5th, 2011 - Kenosha, WI

   Even though it was fun hanging out with friendly people this weekend doing shows and all that, deep down I know it’s not even close to what I envision myself doing in a perfect world. I’d be doing many of the same things I’m doing now, but on a much higher scale.

  My question is, does ANYONE living on this planet have that ’perfect world’ scenario? If so, how many? And more so, if someone happens to attain it does that person know it? I don’t think it’s money and fame alone that makes for a contented soul, but it does help.

  Is Donald Trump happy? I have no way of determining that. How about WWE’s Vince McMahon? They’re both rich, but are they satisfied in life? Probably not, as that drive is what keeps them pushing forward. At some point, shouldn’t there be time to enjoy it all?

  We humans are very delicate critters, and if one little thing goes wrong it can affect our entire lives in a most devastating way. I’m not asking for or expecting a problem free life, I just want one I can be proud of and have quality time to enjoy as I slide into old age.

   I bet most people don’t even take time to picture what their ultimate life would be. I ask all the time on stage if people are picturing exactly what they’d do with the lottery prize if they won it, and an overwhelming percentage stare at me like I’m speaking in Portuguese.

   I do jokes about what I’d do if I won the lottery, but I’d love to play that concept further and focus on it in real life. Would I have money? Yes, but I’d hope I wouldn’t be a greedy bastard and let that be my obsession. I’m old enough now where not all that big of a hunk would keep me going strong the rest of my life. I want to be free to chase creative goals.

     I want to be working the top comedy rooms for packed audiences with people who are there to see me, not just some random goof they never heard of. I want to make top dollar so I can be secure enough to have enough, but also be able to give to those who need it.

   I still want to have a family and a home that is healthy and functioning and full of love. I want to create things that have never been created before, and surround myself with a lot of other creative types to form a world class group of people who get along and have fun.

   Fun should be one of the top reasons to get out of bed every morning, along with being able to give to others. Life is about fun and giving, not worrying and lack. I haven’t been in the mindset I’ve needed to be in lately, as I’ve been having to focus on making a living. How can I be the King of Uranus doing creative projects when I’m struggling with bills?

   The Mothership Connection radio show is another thing that needs direction. We really do have fun doing it, but there needs to be more structure and more effort put in to getting ways to make the project financially successful. Tonight’s show wasn’t a killer, but it was still fun. With just a little more effort, I think my whole life can be what I’ve pictured it to be for so many years. Why am I not spending all my energy trying to be the best there is?

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

Paying Some Bills

Saturday June 4th, 2011 - Burlington, IA

   Entertainers on every level are having to get much more entrepreneurial these days, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just is. Times are getting snug, and everyone has to find new ways to turn a buck. Many traditional sources of income have been dwindling lately.

   This weekend I went on an experimental excursion with fellow comedian Tim Walkoe, where we tried out two seperate potential sources of future income. Last night we worked in a country club in Springfield, IL and tonight we were at a blues club in Burlington, IA.

   People can mock those venues all they want - and they do, but those are the only places left where comedy hasn’t been seen, or at least not as overexposed and bastardized as has been done most other places. It’s like eating crab legs, there’s plenty of good meat located in the knuckle but it takes extra work to get to it. We have to decide whether it’s worth it.

   This weekend was Tim’s, and he chose me to tag along to make it an extra strong show. If you’ve never seen Tim’s show, he and I both yack at about 75 miles an hour with gusts up to 150 and we pack more into one 90 minute show than most symphony orchestras put into a concert. One thing nobody had to worry about is getting cheated out of material.

   Our mutual booking agent friend Marc Schultz has been trying to find a way to package us together as a show for a while now, as he sees the potential as well. We can absolutely destroy a room if they’re buying us, and we’ve both got enough stage experience where it takes place way more often than it doesn’t. This weekend was a chance to have a test run.

   Friday’s country club show was fun, but those audiences can tend to be a bit persnickety at times. These particular people were really receptive to us, even though we still both felt we had to hold back a little because they were conservative. We did our time, it went fine.

   I’d have to estimate 95% or higher of this audience had NEVER darkened the door of a comedy club in their lives. Springfield has had several clubs in the past, and I believe they still may, but I couldn’t picture any of these people being regulars and that’s not an insult to anyone. It’s fact. No comedian is going to please everyone, but we please these people.

   There have to be all kinds of country clubs located all over the Midwest that might book acts like Tim and myself, but it would take a lot of work to find them. I’m not interested a bit in doing that right now, but if someone else is I’ll gladly show up and do the shows.

   Tonight was completely different, but still fun. A mutual comedian friend of ours Steve Moris knows the owners of this building, and they wanted to try comedy. Steve did it first and then brought Tim in for the second show. Now, Tim is bringing me in for the third.

   Hopefully there will be a fourth, and hopefully I can bring someone like a Larry Reeb or Rocky LaPorte  or Jimmy McHugh, all solid acts. The audience was attentive, and full of people who wouldn’t be comedy club regulars. There are people like this in every town.

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

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Twenty Years Ago Today

Friday June 3rd, 2011 - Springfield, IL

   Twenty years ago today, I officially had my name changed to Dobie J. Maxwell. Doing that smack dab in the middle of one’s life is neither easy or convenient, but I had several reasons I felt made it necessary so I did it anyway. Looking back, I did the right thing.

   I’ve never hidden the fact that I changed my name, all kinds of people in entertainment use a stage name. Does anyone think Hulk Hogan was a given birth name? I can’t picture an eight year old kid at camp with ‘Hulk H.’ written in magic marker in his underwear.

   In my realm of experience, I’ve been around standup comedy, radio and pro wrestling - all three of which have a high rate of name changes on a professional level. It would take a while to think of someone who actually uses their given name exactly how it appears on their birth certificate. It’s no big deal to use a stage name, but a real change is a hassle.

   I remember having to advertise in a publication to which bill collectors would subscribe so as the name change wouldn’t be to avoid prosecution. I also remember having to get an application and fill it out along with $200 as I recall. I had an actual court date and had to explain to the judge why I was changing my name. It was all over in three minutes tops.

   I vividly remember the judge asking me “Let me get this straight - you’re changing your name to DOBIE?” I told him I was, and he rolled his eyes and said “Okay” with a tone of mockery and disbelief in his voice. He slammed the gavel and I was Dobie J. Maxwell.

   I was informed I’d have to stick with that name for at least an entire calendar year, then  I’d be free to change it again after that if I so chose. I wasn’t aware of that, and maybe the judge was trying to give me an out in case I regretted my decision. It would be a lot like a tattoo artist doing an erasable skull with a snake coming out of the eye just to be prudent.

   Prudent or not, I wanted a name that had no strings attached so I could get by in life on my own merits. Sink or swim, I wanted to do it on my own - and I have. My birth name is no secret, but I don’t tell anyone who hasn’t known me for over twenty years what it was.

   That name never fit me anyway. Dobie became a nickname that stuck, and now it’s the name everyone knows. I can call a booking agent and everyone knows who it is. My birth name wasn’t even our given name. My grandfather changed it because my grandmother’s step father had all girls and wanted to carry on the family name. Even I still get confused.

   The funny thing is, I had a numerologist do a reading one time and I gave both my birth name and my name now, and they both have the exact same number. That floored me, but the numerologist said it was a very common occurrence. It’s an energy thing apparently.

   Whatever the case, Dobie J. Maxwell has been struggling through life for twenty years now. It doesn’t really matter what I choose to call myself anymore, I am who I am. There are those who like me and those that don’t. The name doesn’t have much to do with it.

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

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Cavalier Attitude

Thursday June 2nd, 2011 - Joliet, IL

   I’m finally starting to make my way up the pecking order on this cruel and unusual little planet. Miracle of miracles, I can proudly say I now own a car that was built in the decade in which I live. Well, sort of anyway. It’s under ten years old, and for me that’s a big deal.

   Look out, Leno. Stand back, Seinfeld. You’re not the only two comedians who have the market cornered on automotive extravagance. I’ll let you and everyone else know that I’m now cruising the highways and byways of America in a 2004 Chevy Cavalier. So there.

   Sure, it’s got a rebuilt title. Yes, I got it from a friend who’s a car dealer who originally got it for his sister who didn’t like it, but it’s got both a cassette AND a CD player so I’m now at an elite level of luxurious excess few others in my family tree have ever attained.

   Who am I kidding? What a loser I am, but it still feels good to land a reliable little alley cruiser at a thrifty price. I’ll take care of it like it’s the Batmobile, and hope it lasts longer than most of my other tin cans I fish out of the car auction like stray dogs out of a shelter.

   My friend Tom Orlando did me a big time favor and let me have this car for exactly the amount he has in it. I’ve known Tom since seventh grade and I believed him, but he still felt compelled to show me the receipts anyway. His sister was looking for a new vehicle, but she was used to driving a minivan apparently and that’s what she wanted in the end.

   Good news for me. Tom deals in leasing trucks and didn’t have a need for a little four door sedan so he offered it to me just to move it down the road. He wouldn’t buy a hunk o’ poo for his sister, and I knew he’d done his homework on this car so I had to buy it.

   It’s smart business in the long run. I wasn’t planning to spend any cash right now, and times are pretty tight and looking tighter for the summer. Still, even though this one cost more than most of my auction rats, it’ll be worth it in the long run. It should last a while.

   I’m not used to getting behind the wheel of a car and seeing under 100,000 miles on it, so that alone was refreshing. It’s got 93,573, for now. In my former road warrior days I’d have made it to 100K in about three weeks. Now, I’m hoping to lay low and stay local.

   I want to focus on working a lot more in my self designated ‘Squared circle of Uranus’ which includes Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and Rockford and a 2004 Cavalier is way more efficient than a 1983 Cadillac Fleetwood, even though that Caddy is a smooth ride.
My standards are low, and I really enjoyed that car. I’ll enjoy this one too. I’m grateful.

   Tom did me a huge favor, and I totally appreciate it. He also cooked us up some killer steaks and told some hilarious stories of his days in radio, of which he’s a big time talent as well. He smartly got out of it, as he saw how ugly it is. He’s got talent in business too, so he made the right choice. Good for him. Friends like him are rare, and I couldn’t have more respect for the guy. He’s a winner. I’m a dung beetle trying to scrape out a living.

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

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cubs, Cars And Kidders

Wednesday June 1st, 2011 - Chicago, IL/Waukegan, IL

   In an unexpected pleasant surprise, I was asked to join a friend in going to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field today as a ‘mystery shopper’. I didn’t know Major League Baseball used mystery shoppers, but I got to tag along so I’m not complaining. I won’t divulge anything about the mystery person I went with, only because I’m not sure what the exact rules are.

   Actually, I think it’s very smart of the Cubs to hire people to do this. Any sports team is a business, and fans are customers. They have choices, and in this day and age I’d have to bet nobody can afford to lose customers - not even sports teams. It’s a sign of the times.

   I took the train into the city, and it brought back fun memories of doing Jerry’s Kidders on WLS back when we did. That was a few years ago now, and I highly doubt that people remember it but we all sure do. That was probably THE most fun I’ve ever had on radio.

   We were on a big station every week and it was a blast to be on the air busting the balls of the other comedians, and then going out to lunch afterward and doing it more. It was as fun as it gets, and Tim Slale and Ken Severa and I would love to be able to do it again on the air, but where? Jerry Agar is now in Toronto making a living, and we’re all still here.

   Unfortunately, I think Jerry’s Kidders is just a memory at this point, but a very pleasant one for all of us who were part of it. Too bad life moves on, and always does. How many people used to be on radio or RV or in movies at one time, but now take a train into a big city once in a while to watch a baseball game and not one single person recognizes them?

   I didn’t expect to be recognized, but I did expect to be entertained. Wow, the Cubs are a disaster this year. There was NO fire from that team, and they ended up losing to the low rent Houston Astros of all people. Nice park or not, that team has to make some changes.

   I really thought about my own life as I watched the game today. The Cubs need to have a major reinvention and have new life breathed into that whole organization. They have a new owner, but that hasn’t been enough. They’re in trouble if they don’t shake things up a little, but what can they do? They have a lot of pre-existing situations they’ll need to fix.

   I feel like I’m the same way. I’ve got all these things rolling around in my head, but my life is a mess right now and not really going anywhere with a vengeance or purpose. I am extremely dissatisfied with that, and desperately want to change my energy immediately.

   I got home from the game in time to peruse the Waukegan Auto Auction and ended up buying a 1998 Ford Contour of all things. It’s extremely clean, but appears to overheat in traffic. It came with a seller’s guarantee which gives me a day to have it checked out first.

   I love the Cadillac, but it’s big and blue and stodgy - much like the Cubs. If I keep using that, I’ll eventually go broke putting gas in it. I’ve gotten months of trouble free miles out of it, and my spider sense tells me it’s time to get a different car. I hope I chose correctly.     

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