Wednesday, August 31, 2011

There's Green In Clean

Tuesday August 30th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL/Algonquin, IL

   I’m back to being busier than I should, and I need to watch that. Stress isn’t included on the agenda my doctor said I’ll need to maintain for good health. I’ve been holding steady over two months now since I got out of the hospital, but that doesn’t mean I’m home free.

   Every day is a struggle, and with all I’ve got lined up on my schedule, stress is going to pop up quite frequently. I’ve already taken two months off work, I can’t last much longer with no income. My bank account is tapped, and I’m red flagging on the financial front.

   Gas at $4 a gallon isn’t helping, nor are the every day bills that don’t care if I was in the hospital or not. I have bills like everyone else, and there’s still the hospital bill to clear up however that will work out. I did apply for hardship status, but it’s still not a closed case.

   Worry and stress won’t help anyone, but how can it be avoided? People are losing their jobs left and right, and I’m not the only one in this predicament. A lot of people aren’t in good financial shape right now, and it’s not something that ‘just goes away‘. It’s a crisis.

   I’m still making my health a top priority, but that comes with a price both in money and time. It costs more to eat well, and takes more effort. Exercise also requires more sleep to allow the body to recover, not to mention extra laundry. The time comes from somewhere and leaves less to do other things like look for gigs, work on my act or read like I‘d like.  

   Life doesn’t get easier, and I thought it would by now. I thought for sure I’d have a nice juicy nest egg put away and be able to enjoy life. It’s hard to enjoy life when bill collector types are spread everywhere like poop in a pig sty. Even when I’m relaxing, it’s stressful.

   Today I had lunch with Michelle Krajecki. She’s a former student who’s been working as a Christian comedian in churches for years. She’s very smart and I respect her because she handles herself with professionalism and class like it‘s a business, which it totally is.

   I spoke with Michelle and another former student Karl Newyear about doing shows that feature clean comedy. Karl bills himself as ‘The World’s Funniest Lutheran’ and between the three of us we could easily pull off a nice show for audiences that don’t enjoy going to comedy clubs because they think it will be dirty. Unfortunately, they’re usually correct.

   Off color humor doesn’t offend me but it isn’t for everyone, just as not everyone likes a restaurant that serves spicy food. Those who do, love it. Those who don’t, want no part of it. There’s a gigantic market being underserved for someone who can be clean and funny, and every joke is not required to end with “…and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

  What I’m looking to do is offer up a clean 90 minute show that can be sold to those who don’t want to hear foul language or certain subjects. It’s a business decision, and lining up Michelle and Karl will help sell it to audiences that may not be comedy regulars. We can deliver laughs without a single swear word, and painfully few other shows can match that.

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

Another Moving Experience

Monday August 29th, 2011 - Cary, IL/Fox Lake, IL

   Another sad good bye. My friend Jerry Agar and his family are moving out of town, and none of us are thrilled about it. The truck was being loaded as we stood in his living room and talked about all the times we’d done it before. We couldn’t sit, there were no chairs.

   Since we became friends in 1989, Jerry has moved from Wheaton, IL to St. Cloud, MN to Toledo, OH to Minneapolis to Tucson to Knoxville, TN to Raleigh, NC to Kansas City to Chicago - and now Toronto.  He’s been working there for about a year already, but he’s just now bringing the rest of the family. Welcome to the wonderful world of life in radio.

   It’s a brutal business, and not for the squeamish. Since 1989, I’ve moved from Chicago to Lansing, MI, home to Milwaukee, back again to Chicago to Reno, NV to Los Angeles back to Chicago to Salt Lake City back to Chicago yet again to finally where I am now.

   I’ve had my own spanking from the radio business, and Jerry and I went over our moves as we watched a moving truck about to leave for another chapter. This one was unplanned and unwelcome. He was doing fine in Chicago at WLS before the powers that be decided to blow him out the door because they could. They didn’t care about the ripples it caused.

   Nobody thought about kids that have to go to yet another new school. They have not an ounce of sympathy for the strain it puts on a marriage, or the stress of trying to find a new job when there was no real reason for not having the old one. There’s no rhyme or reason for any of it, but it happens all the time. We either keep sucking it up or get the hell out.

   Jerry is sucking it up, and I admire him for it. I also admire his family for staying in one unit through all of it. His wife Ann has been Superwoman through all these moves, and I always tell Jerry if he ever cheats on her I’ll kill him myself. Their kids are amazing also.

   They’ve learned to just pack it up and move on to the next town without complaining at all. I’ve known all three of them since they were born, and they’re all wonderful kids who will be productive members of society. None of this was their fault, but they’ve handled it extremely well. The oldest Tanner is now in college in Texas, and he is going to be fine.

   The whole family will be. I will too. We’ve survived this long, I don’t see how this time will be any different. We shed no tears, because we’ve been through this before. We’ll get together at some point when I get through Toronto, and I will. Hopefully he’ll stay there.

   Jerry is really great at what he does. He’s a talk show host, but didn’t start out that way. He was on morning shows with music just like I was, and he adapted and used his skill to become one of the very top in his field. To get blown out like he did was without merit.

   I get my radio fix on Sunday nights on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha. I don’t get a nickel for it, but I don’t have to load up a truck and move to another country either. I’ve decided once and for all that if I must go to work for a clueless imbecile, that imbecile will be me.

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

Rediscovering Sun Ra

Sunday August 28th, 2011 - Kenosha, WI

   Weird isn’t always a bad thing. It depends on the kind. There’s good and bad weird just as there are good and bad fats, bacteria and I’m sure all kinds of other things that aren’t at the top of my consciousness right now. Crust comes to mind. On pizza or bread, it can be delicious. On underwear, it’s disgusting. Everything in life depends upon circumstances.

   It’s time for me to get weird. I feel it. I’m sure there are those who think I’m already out of my mind and a certified card carrying flaming bag of nuts as it is, but I’m talking about calculated crazy. It’s a business decision, and I’m not the first to venture in that direction.

   There are all kinds of entertainers who have gone that route. Lady Gaga is in the current crop, and she came from Madonna’s pedigree. Marilyn Manson came from Alice Cooper, who also spawned KISS. It’s not new, it just has to be new for me. I’m way too run of the mill ordinary as a comedian to get any real notice. I have a major flaw going against me.

   I’m the wrong color. Maybe in life white males have an advantage, or did, but it’s a bad hand dealt to the undiscovered comic. It just is. Race is such an oversensitive subject that nobody wants to discuss it, but it’s a fact. White males have a disadvantage in comedy.

   That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make it, but it’s a lot harder. I’m not angry about it but it does affect me and I have to deal with it. Other races can go on stage and tee off on white people, but if a white comic even mentions another race - the audience tightens up.

   I’m not interested in analyzing it any more than I have to. It is what it is, and I regret we still haven’t gotten over it as a society, but we haven’t. I’m interested in breaking through the pack and getting paid for the lifetime of sacrifice I’ve made perfecting my life’s craft.

   Doing what I’m doing hasn’t gotten the results I’ve wanted, so I have to change and try something else or accept the fact that I missed the mark. I don’t want to accept it just yet, so it’s time to tweak the recipe and see what happens. It’s worked for all kinds of others.

   George Clinton is my prime example. He went weird in the mid ‘70s and decided to try an outer space gimmick, which worked beautifully. He invented a character and created a look, and the public bought it. I did. I thought it was one of the most interesting gimmicks I’d ever seen and still do. George didn’t invent weird, but he did adapt it to his own style.

   I’ve been studying George for years, and I’m still a fan. One who George and as it turns out many others were influenced by was an eclectic jazz musician named Sun Ra. He was a very inventive master showman. He claimed to be from Saturn, and lived his gimmick.

   I knew about Sun Ra, but am now getting back into studying him again. He was off on a wild tangent, and used weird to the maximum effectiveness. He also used outer space as a  template for success, and I love it. The King of Uranus fits right in to this, and I’ll reshape as many old style tricks as I can to make it all appear fresh. Nothing on this planet is new.

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

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Basement Bloodshed

Saturday August 27th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   Now I did it. I was trying to fix of all things a broken piece of string and ended up with two bleeding fingers. That’s unpleasant enough, but it’s one on each hand. That will be a bigger hassle than it needs to be, but it’s too late now. The damage is done. I’m an idiot.

   I’ve never been good with mechanical chores because I don’t enjoy that. Bob Vila isn’t facing any competition for his ‘Mr. Fix It’ title from me any time soon. I’m not interested in that kind of stuff at all, and if I never darken the door of Sears or Home Depot, it’s ok.

   Whatever part of the male chromosome package with that in it must have been left out  of my genetic blueprint at birth. I have no desire to own, operate or oversee any task with a tool involved. I don’t like getting dirty, and I’d rather hire someone than ruin it myself.

   That being said, all that was needed was to change a piece of twine attached to the chain that clicked a light bulb on and off in the laundry room where I live. I don’t think that’s a job to farm out even for me, so I took it upon myself to suck it up and get it done myself.

   I’m the one who broke it, even though it had been yanked on thousands of times before I ever moved in. Whatever. That’s how it goes. Mr. Lucky shows up right at the moment trouble occurs, and then has to deal with it whether he wants to or not. It’s my formula.

   It’s my comedic formula that is. Living it in real life isn’t so funny. I had no string, so I had the brainstorm to walk to the dollar store in downtown Fox Lake, about a mile away. I’d make it part of my daily walk, and it would have purpose. Ha. I got there and couldn’t find the string, and had to ask two clerks and they couldn’t find it either for ten minutes.

   Finally, the manager was called in and she found it in ‘Automotive’. Really? There’s an ‘Automotive’ section at a dollar store? And balls of string are in it? What kind of cars are getting fixed like that? Even the rattletraps I drive wouldn’t get repaired with kite string.

   The whole ordeal was more than I ever intended, and then the clerk told me it would be $2 for the ball of string. It’s a dollar store. Why was this $2? I was trying to be funny with the whole concept, but nobody was biting so I paid for it and left, hoping never to return.

   When I returned home, I discovered there were no scissors to cut a piece of the string to replace the one I broke, but I did find a fresh razor blade I thought I’d use instead. It was a brand new blade, and a lot sharper than I thought and before I knew I had a nasty gouge in the pinky of my right hand. Blood was spurting everywhere, and I knew I made a mistake.

   Then I tried to pick up the blade with my left hand and promptly put another deep cut in the middle finger of that one. More blood. More stupidity. More reason never to pick up a tool or sharp object ever again. Then I had to find bandages. Ever try to apply those with a bloody finger on each hand? The sink looked like the shower in ’Psycho’, and took a long time to scrub out and make clean again. All that bloodshed to fix a stupid piece of string.

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

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cheesehead Sports Bonanza

Friday August 26th, 2011 - Milwaukee, WI

   It’s good to have connections. If there’s one thing I’ve done correctly over life’s journey it’s amass an impressive network of quality contacts all over North America I respect and admire, and I work hard to keep in touch with as many as I can. It’s not always easy to do, but it is always worth it whenever I do it. Sometimes we don’t reconnect for a long time.

   That was the case today as my friend Rick Wey called and said he was going to be up in Milwaukee and had an extra ticket for the Brewers game against the Cubs no less. Rick is from Nashville and a true gentleman. He does comedy and he’s very funny, but also has a career working for a trucking company. He’s on the road more with the job than comedy.

   He’s in a supervisory position and has quite a few people under his jurisdiction. He’s an outgoing guy and very sharp, and breaks every stereotype about southerners except for the gentleman part. He’s about as nice a guy as I’ve ever met, and we’ve always hit it off well since we first worked together at Zanies in Nashville years ago. We’ve stayed in touch.

   To make it even better, he’s a huge sports fan so that’s another thing that bonds us. He’s a huge University of Tennessee fan because he went there, and loves baseball too. He had a trip to Milwaukee a couple of years ago and asked me to a game then. It was a blast, and not only was it fun to hang out with Rick - the rest of the staff were sweet people as well.

   There weren’t as many tonight, but we still had a great time. Rick’s father was with him this time, and he was a treat. Rick is a few years older than me and in excellent shape, but his dad was not far behind. I hope I’m that spry when I get to be that age, if indeed I do.

   We had a lot of laughs, and it was a real treat to spend a picture perfect summer evening with such a fine group of people. I’m flattered I was asked, and there were no pretenses at any time. Nobody was trying to scam anyone, it was just a night out to enjoy a ball game.

   The Brewers didn’t disappoint, and won the game 5-2 after getting behind early. I could feel the excitement in the park, even though the Packers were playing in Indianapolis. It’s the first time I ever remember both teams being good at the same time, and it’s exciting.

   The Brewers were the talk of the town in ‘82, even though they lost the World Series in seven games. I remember how fun it was to watch them then, but the Packers season was cut short by a strike. They went to the playoffs for the first time in ten years, but it wasn’t like it is now. They stunk, and everyone had false hopes. This team is a legit contender.

   The Brewers look like they’re going to win the division, and I can’t remember the last time that happened. Probably 1982. Since then there have been many years of unbridled futility, and most people lost interest. Not anymore. The town is back in baseball mode, and never left football mode. The Packers are a religion in Wisconsin, and now they are being challenged by the Brewers with the fantastic season they’re putting together. What a relaxing low pressure night out with a group of nice people. This is what life is about.

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

Friday, August 26, 2011

Uranus Frightens Me

Thursday August 26th, 2011 - Hoffman Estates, IL

   Life is going exactly the way I want it to, and I want to acknowledge that to the universe with gratitude before anything changes. Every life has ups and downs, and I’m on a major league up and enjoying every tick of the clock. This is how I always thought it should be.

   The weather is perfect, I’m really enjoying what I’m doing, my health is good and it’s a pleasure to get up in the morning knowing I’m on the right track and where I need to be to have a shot at transforming my hopes, dreams and Lucy schemes into something tangible.

   My attitude these days is like the perfect fuel to air mixture in a carburetor. It’s neither lean nor rich, and I feel like I‘m running efficiently on all cylinders. I know it won’t last forever, and that’s why it feels so good now. It isn’t always like this. Two months ago, it was exactly the opposite. I wasn’t sure if my gonads were going home with me or not.

   They did, and nobody was more delighted to learn of that development than me. I have a second chance with diabetes and the surgery with all its pain and embarrassment has all healed, and I’m still on a big time high from it. I’m finally seeing the big picture in life.

   Whatever troubles or tribulations lie ahead are beyond my control,  but what I can do is keep pressing on and develop positive habits exactly like I’ve been doing. It’s happening exactly how it’s supposed to, and that’s why I’m in such a good space. The vibe is right.

   That doesn’t mean I won’t blow it, or some catastrophe won’t show up out of nowhere and blind side me back to where I was, but I really don’t think so. I feel like I’ve plugged in to the source I’ve been searching for, and even if things go poorly I’ll be able to last.

    It’s no one thing that’s put me in this position, but a combination of many. Starting and stopping for so many years was all too typical, but it feels different now. I feel like I have finally entered the game of life, and have an excellent chance to win. That’s so exciting!

   I have a vast number of contacts in several areas, and today I spent an hour sorting all of those I want to connect with into the particular project I see them working best at should they so choose to do so. I don’t see why most of them won’t, and I’m proceeding as such. I organized my list of projects and listed the top dozen people in each I’d like in place.

   One of the top people on my list is Jim McHugh. He’s been constantly reminding me to get going on the King of Uranus idea, and I’m finally taking him up on it. He’s very right, but for whatever reason I’ve been swamped with other things and not able to find the time to get it started. I know for a fact there’s something magic there by people’s reaction to it.

   EVERY single day including today, somebody will pull up behind me and I’ll see them snicker at my URANUS 2 license plate and ‘I (heart) URANUS’ bumper sticker or they’ll click a picture with their phone and give me a honk, smile and wave as they pass. This is a winner of an idea, but now I have to see it all the way through. Today got a step closer.

   Jim and his brother in law Mark Huelskamp met me for lunch with the express purpose of finally getting this project not only up and running, but profitable. Necessity is still the mother of invention, and I need to find a way to start a business that lets me stay at home.

   Mark is a very talented web designer, and handled the Chicago Style Standups website when Jim and I were both members of that group. I paid Mark a long time ago, but never followed up and got the site functional and I can’t think of a good reason why. I blew it.

   Yes, I was busy with other things and on cruise ships and in clubs on the road, but that shouldn’t have postponed it this much. I really think that deep down I was afraid of this, and I don’t have a legitimate reason why. I’ve never had much luck with business related things, but this is different. It felt right when I thought of it, and feels even more so now.

   It’s goofy. It’s stupid. It’s simple and at best a fifth grade level of base humor. Perfect! That’s what most popular sitcoms are, and they rake in big bank. I’ve tried, but just can’t make it through an episode of ‘Two And A Half Men’. Sorry, it doesn’t appeal to me on any level other than there are some hot chickies to gawk at. Big deal. The show is lame.

   Lame to me maybe, but not so to MILLIONS of others who absolutely live to watch it every week. I felt the same way about ‘Three’s Company’ when that piping hot nugget of dung was a major hit. I love to look at sexy women as much as any red blooded American male or card carrying lipstick lesbian, but I couldn’t sit through an episode of that either.

   My personal taste and what the public buys are two different things, and I know it. That doesn’t mean I can’t give people what they want, and that’s what this project is aiming to do. I doubt if Ray Kroc ate McDonald’s hamburgers very often, if at all. He sold billions of them to the public, because he knew that’s what they wanted. That’s how he got rich.

   What I’m looking to do is sell funny to as many people as I can, using a goofy character called ‘The King of Uranus’. I’m going to dress like a king, act like a king, present myself as a king to strangers until I actually BECOME The King of Uranus. I have a baseball cap with that printed on it and every time I wear it I get people who notice and laugh out loud.

   As much as it hurts to admit, as a comedian I’m just another white guy in a giant sea of too many others who are exactly the same. Yes, I have the Mr. Lucky angle and that’s not bad - but it isn’t a show stopper that makes people stop what they’re doing and take note.

   I want people to stop whatever they’re doing and say “There goes The King of Uranus”, and then laugh like school girls. That’s what Jim and Mark and I did at lunch today as we brainstormed ideas and more importantly narrowed them down to ones I have to do in the next few days to get this project moving ahead. This is not a fantasy, I’m going to live it.

   There are all kinds of things to do to get it going, but I knew that when I started. That’s part of the fun. If I don’t do this, I’ll be extremely disappointed. It’s not a matter of trying, it already works when people see it. Away with fear. All systems go. Next stop, Uranus!

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

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Witness To Fitness

Wednesday August 24th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   I’ve been taking extra long walks for exercise the past three days and I can barely stand up straight as a result. My hamstrings feel like rubber bands about to snap, and it’s torture to walk up flights of stairs - but I love it. This is what I should have been doing years ago.

   It takes major effort to keep this up, both physically and in time expenditure. I intend to get it done first thing in the morning, but sometimes I just can’t. I’ll get a phone call or an errand needs to be run and I’ll put it off until later in the day. Then that throws everything else off schedule, but I feel it’s important so I make it a priority. Everything else can wait.

   I’ve made up my mind to do this for the rest of my life, but I’ll need to make a schedule and plan everything else around it. Obviously, winter will be an issue if I continue to live where I live, and I do for the foreseeable future. If I should happen to get a twelve picture Hollywood deal, I’m sure a gym membership will come with it. If not, I’m not taking it.

   There’s a small gym about a mile and a half from where I live, and that will probably be where I work out this winter. I checked it out, and it’s not huge like a Bally’s but it has all I’m going to need for now. They have Nautilus machines and free weights but no pool.

   I can’t believe I’m thinking about stuff like this, as I haven’t in many years. It wasn’t on my top 10 list of life priorities, or even top 40. Now, it’s number one with a bullet, and all other activities in my life will just have to wait. Fitness is a mission, and I didn’t expect it to become so important so fast. Having one’s private parts operated on tends to do that.

   The diabetes diagnosis was scary enough, but that surgery really drove the point as deep as could be. Maybe my skull is extra thick and I needed the loudest message possible, and I think that was it. It’s healed up now, and feels fine - but I’ll remember that pain forever.

   I think it has scared me into eating healthy and working out so I never have to have that kind of horrific experience again. It was a wake up call, and I heard it and am still hearing it. It’s like a bugle blowing revile in my ear a foot from my bed. I can’t avoid hearing it.

   Walking is good, and I intend to continue, but now I need to add other ingredients like a weight program and maybe running or swimming or bicycling. Maybe all that to a certain degree, but then I have to be careful of overdoing it too. Injuries are the last thing I need.

   I was talking about how much better I feel to a friend of mine recently, and suggested it might take my funny away. I never really thought about that, but if it’s true - so what? I’m sure I can find something else to do if I had to, and the way comedy is going, I’ll have to.

   I’m always going to be a dented can, but I’m getting better as a person all the time. Step by step, I’m making steady positive progress and improvement, in all areas of my life and it would be hard to ask for more. The rest of the world is in shambles, but I have my own problems to deal with and I’ve been doing that. I’m just sorry it took so long to get to it.

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cosby's Colossal Clout

Tuesday August 23rd, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   Bill Cosby performed at The Riverside Theatre in Milwaukee on Sunday, and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be there to enjoy it. If any one act in American standup comedy history is  a real live honest to goodness living legend, it’s him. There’s Cosby, and everyone else.

   I don’t think most civilians realize how immense the scope of Bill Cosby’s talent really is. By far, he reaches the widest range of audience of anyone I’ve ever seen. His audience spans the gamut from kids to senior citizens, North to South and all colors of the rainbow.

   I often tell the story of how my grandfather took me against my will to see Cosby when I was probably 14 or 15 and thought I knew everything. He played at the Performing Arts Center in Milwaukee, a very nice venue. I was very unimpressed when we got there to see nothing but a microphone and a chair on the stage. How was THAT going to entertain us?

   I don’t think I’d ever seen a live comedian work before that night, and to make it worse, there was a piano player that opened the show. I don’t remember how the piano got to the stage, but it did and I had to endure that - even though the guy was really good. His name was Walt Michaels, and I don’t have a clue as to why I still remember that now, but I do.

   Gramps looked at me when Walt was through and said “See? This isn’t so bad, is it?” It wasn’t, but I was a punk kid who wanted to see a wrestling cage match with The Crusher bouncing Mad Dog Vachon’s head off of a chain link fence or some other highbrow act.

   Then Bill Cosby came out, and my world was never the same. I can’t remember one bit he did, but every one of them were hilarious and he had Gramps, me and the entire house bent over in our chairs, clutching our sides and gasping for oxygen from laughing so hard.

   To this day, I’ve never seen anything come close to matching it as far as diversity of the audience with the possible exception of Victor Borge. Gramps took me to see him as well but by then I went willingly. After seeing Bill Cosby once, my faith in Gramps was solid.

   The review of this past Sunday’s performance said that there was also a mixed audience of all ages, and that Cosby did two and a half hours and had everyone laughing once again over thirty years later. I’ll bet some other grandpa took his grandson, and the cycle played out again. Maybe that kid will get the spark and go on to become a comedian like I did.

   My style of comedy is nothing like Bill Cosby’s, but very few people’s are. He’s created his own unique blend of storytelling mastery, facial expressions, rhythm, cadence and one hell of a stage presence that can’t be duplicated. Two and a half hours? That’s unheard of.

   I saw Jay Leno do over two hours once, and he was outstanding. But I have to think Jay would have to admit he’s no Bill Cosby. Nobody is, and nobody else ever will be. Even at 74, he’s still throwing heat apparently. I was in awe as a teenager, and after doing comedy myself over twenty five years I’m even more impressed now. Cosby is the king. Period.

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A One Horse Race

Monday August 22nd, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

  I’m starting a brand new chapter in my professional life, and for the first time ever I feel like I’m ready to do it correctly. Every other time I’ve done this it’s been a half ass barely thought out long shot that has resulted in a flaming pile of wreckage. This is a new day.

   Life now becomes a perpetual race against the clock, and I’ve got to make the very best use of my time as possible. Each day has to have purpose and direction - at least if I think I’m smart. My days of random wandering waiting for bold adventure to find me are over.

   I did it way more than the average ham and egger, and I must admit I really enjoyed the intoxicating feeling of total freedom. I got to explore my country several times, and chase  some dreams along the way. I actually caught a couple, and took it a lot farther than most.

   Everyone’s days here are numbered, but I’m starting to become really aware of it. Time is not the inexhaustible resource I used to think it once was, though now I realize it never was. Every day counts, and after a while they run out for everyone. I’ve wasted more than I care to admit, but it’s too late to do anything now other than learn from it and move on.

   Learning has been my one constant, and I’m doing it more as each day passes. I wonder if it’s just me or is this the proper order in life? I’m not sure. I see a lot of halfwits making as stupid or stupider mistakes than I ever did, and many are older than me. I’m not so bad.

   I’ve never claimed perfection, but at least I see improvement. I’ve learned from my vast array of frightening mistakes, but I’ve also made some difficult positive decisions that are now in a position to pay off handsomely if I play my cards correctly. It’s an exciting time. I have a bulging backlog of life experience, but I’m also able to facilitate future changes.

   One thing that’s changing completely is the game of standup comedy. It used to be a big novelty, and virtually every performer was lumped into a single category - comedian. Not anymore. The novelty has long worn off. Audiences are becoming jaded and fragmented.

   It’s not good or bad, it just is. If I don’t learn to adapt accordingly, the game is over and I’m out pounding the cement for a job at a Jiffy Lube greasing up rusty ball joints on pick up trucks. Failing to plan is planning to fail, and that’s where I sit now. I need a road map.

   I was always a ‘wing it’ guy, and I went with the flow way more than I probably should have. I didn’t stick with any one thing, but instead preferred to drift without a rudder and see where life took me. I’m not where I want to be, because I never chose a destination.

   That’s about to change in a big time hurry. My personal life is on a major upswing, and my professional life is about to follow. I’m changing on the inside and that will manifest itself on the outside. It has to. The Law of Cause and Effect can’t be changed no matter if I believe in it or not, which I do. My causes are already changing, and the effects are sure to follow. This is the best place I’ve ever been physically, mentally and emotionally also.

   I got a chance to meet Kenny Rogers when I lived in Utah and I thought he was a genius at how he handled his business. He said he’d been singing so long, at any time he’d never know if he was in style or out. Sometimes he had a hit, then it would fade. Then it would happen again. Then it would fade again. He wouldn’t worry about the temporary downs.

   He said he just kept busy doing all the things he needed to do to put himself in place for the next hit, and it always came eventually. He didn’t focus on the dry spell, he looked for what would get him out of it and concentrated on that instead. That’s why he’s a big star.

   Who doesn’t know Kenny Rogers? He went from a rocker to a country singer and found his stride quite nicely. He also acted in movies and even opened his own chain of chicken restaurants. He adapted to the times several times, because he needed to stay in business.

   If I’m going to stay in the entertainment business, I have to make major changes and the time to do it is now. Times and circumstances are completely different from when I began and I’m a completely different and better person. I can’t keep doing the same old things.

   Being a constantly touring nightclub comedian is unbelievably difficult on many levels. It was an enticing challenge twenty five years ago, and I did it and did it well. My level of fame or lack thereof does not reflect my level of acumen. I know what the hell I’m doing, at least on a comedy stage. When it comes to business dealings, that’s a different story.

   I’m unfortunately by far not the only performer in any genre to have this weakness, but I’m finally at a point where I can accept it and move forward. I’ve screwed it up so badly over the years, I’m now able to see what went wrong and at least make an effort to fix it.

   The biggest and most glaring mistake I see in hindsight is my severe lack of preparation and direction. Some of that was my fault, and some wasn’t. I’ll take the bulk of the blame though, and hope there’s still time to recover. Cooks have recipes, and I need one as well.

    I started overhauling my entire life schedule when I was down in Texas last week. I put generalized lists together of all my projects, and what I think I’ll need to do in what order to make them operate smoothly. I saw how out of sync I am, and know I have a whole lot of busy work ahead of me. It’s a major project in itself to make a list of my other projects.

    Some are long term, some are short. Some are more important than others and a couple of them are pipe dreams I can’t realistically afford to invest time in right now. The sports cards were one of those, and I’m SO glad that’s out of my life. Now I need to trim further, and I am. I’ve got a much better feel in my head for where I want to go than I ever have.

   There are some mistakes I’ll probably never be able to recover from. Bob and Tom will probably not have me back no matter how stupid I think that whole situation was and is. I apologized for whatever I did, but they didn’t accept. That’s just how it is. There are way more opportunities than that, and I have to find them. Do I want to do standup? Not in the same way I’ve been doing it. I’m just another white guy. I need to develop a hot gimmick.

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

Cause And Effect Lessons

Sunday August 21st, 2011 - Franklin, WI/Kenosha, WI

   My physical health continues to improve, and with it so does my attitude and demeanor.  I can really feel it, and I have to say it doesn’t suck. I’m filling my body with good things on purpose, and it’s making a difference. I’m also filling my mind with better things too.

   I’m making it a conscious point to always have a book with me so I don’t get frustrated when I have to wait, even for a minute or two. I also have plenty of audio recordings with me in the car at all times so I can bathe my brain in wisdom, knowledge and good vibes.

   News depresses the hell out of me and Chicago sports radio is inane verbal flatulence of no earthly benefit to me at this time in my life. Most if not all of the Chicago teams are in total disarray, and most of the apes who are paid too much to host shows are pompous.

   I used to just rot in traffic with everyone else, and let it bother me. I would scream at the brainless chuckleheads in front of me who wouldn’t hang up their cell phone and beep my horn long and loud at the stooge in front of me a fiftieth of a second after a light changed.

   Now, I don’t even care. I’m mentally prepared to be driving with major league doofuses and numbskulls, and I lose myself in something I can learn from. Lately I’ve been hearing Earl Nightingale’s ‘Lead The Field’, which is one of the classics in that genre. He’s an all time favorite of mine, and what he says is right to the point and dead on. I love his stuff.

   There are still idiots who still pull major boners right in front of me, but my anger level is about 95% lower and over about ten times faster. I still have an occasional lapse, but it leaves as quickly as it comes, where I used to let it really piss me off to the point of doing stupid things like following them for miles just to give them the finger they had coming.

   They still have it coming, but it’s not going to be from me. Some gang banger criminal could pull out a pistol and put a third ear hole somewhere in my skull. I’m learning to let it go, and the one who’s most surprised is me. For whatever reason, I’m thinking better.

   I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I also haven’t had one of my major depression funks in months, and that’s something to cheer long and loud about. When I would sink into the abyss of that horror, I didn’t think I’d ever come out. I really believe it was diet related in origin, and if I keep eating like I have been I can kiss that hellish torture goodbye forever.

   My friend and former student Russ Martin asked me if I’d do a show at his birthday and retirement party which were rolled into one. Russ is a good guy and of course I said I’d be there. It gave me a chance to practice and work off some of my rust. The crowd was super hot and I had a blast with them. I was able to help a friend and help myself. I love that.

   Tonight we had a rocking Mothership Connection radio show on WLIP with Sharla Rae from Chicago, Andrew Grant  from London and Toni Reilly from Brisbane, Australia as a panel of in studio experts. You can find their info at www.themothershipconnection.net.

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

Saturday, August 20, 2011

2120 South Michigan Avenue

Saturday August 20th, 2011 - Chicago, IL

   I never think I’m too old or too smart to learn something useful, and today I was given a major chance to get personally schooled by some masters of their field. I kept my yap shut tight and my ears open wide to allow their wisdom and expertise to take root in my brain.

   Mike Preston called to ask if I’d be available to hold a camera as he interviewed George Thorogood for his cable TV show ‘Psychobabble’. Mike has been there when I needed his help, so the least I could do was return the favor. Plus, I really enjoy George Thorogood’s music. How difficult could it be to stand behind a camera and listen to a celebrity speak?

   The last time Mike called it was to interview Burt Reynolds a couple of months ago at a theater in Naperville, IL. That was really exciting, other than the fact Mike’s camera had a technical problem and he couldn’t use the interview. The process of getting it was a blast.

   Today was even better. The interview was held at Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven at 2120 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago - the old Chess Records recording studio. It surprises me with all the touristy places I’ve seen in my life I hadn’t ever been there before today.

   There’s a lot of history in that building, and some of the biggest records in history were recorded there like Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry and all kinds of others. I was in awe as I walked up the huge flight of stairs to the actual recording area where it all happened.

   Willie Dixon was the producer brains behind it all, and by all accounts he was a genius. His lovely widow Marie is in charge now, and she took time to be interviewed right after our time with George Thorogood. She told some fascinating stories of Willie’s career and how he and many other blues artists got ripped off in their day. It’s sad, but very typical.

   She was an absolute sweetheart, and thanked us for coming. Thanked US? We knew we should be thanking her, and we did - several times. George was also very down to earth in his demeanor and unbelievably deep in his vast knowledge of blues and music in general.

   He was only supposed to do a ten minute interview, but he went way long and we loved every bit of it. He was interesting, funny and laid down a lot of great points as far as show business in general is concerned. He’s a big student of the game, and I stood in total awe.

   Mike asked George about the name of his band ‘The Destroyers’, which we both agreed is a fabulous name. George said he just made it up on the phone as he was trying to nail a gig that was open after another band canceled. The booker asked the band’s name, and off the top of his head he said ‘The Destroyers’. He said he had no idea why he thought of it.

   As it turns out, that name doesn’t translate well in foreign languages or for marketing or logo purposes. Bands like ‘Heart’ and ‘Kiss’ work very well apparently, and neither Mike nor I would have thought of it. I highly suggest taking a tour of the facilities whenever in the area. Their website is www.bluesheaven.com. This was a wonderful unexpected treat.

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

Live At Lambeau

Friday August 19th, 2011 - Green Bay, WI

   My friend Steve DeClark had an extra ticket for tonight’s Packers pre season game with the Arizona Cardinals and asked if I wanted to tag along. Even though the ticket cost way too much, I had to say yes. It wasn’t Steve’s fault as he didn’t set the price - the team did.

   They can pretty much charge what they want, even in a bad economy. The Packers are a drug, and the NFL dispenses 32 different varieties. Baskin-Robbins only has 31 flavors of ice cream. For those of us that are hooked on pigskin, we’ll do what it takes to get a fix.

   I don’t attend all that many games in person, but when I do it’s an experience that runs a gamut of emotions. It takes me right back to being a kid with my grandfather and actually caring about the game. I loved it. Now, my main focus is studying how it’s all marketed.

   What a money machine the NFL is. I guess I realized that as a kid, but I was a lot more na├»ve then. I thought the players really did play for the love of the game, and cared about who won or lost as much as I did. They may have cared a little, but it’s all about business.

   The crowd at an NFL football game is basically a giant studio audience for a TV show. I’ve been to TV tapings before, and they’ve always been free to get in. Not here. Even for a game that everyone knows beforehand doesn’t count, they’ll still rape us in our wallet.

   And we pay up without even questioning it. Plus, we pay another $20 to park our car on some stranger’s front lawn. That person could have our cars stripped and sold by the time the game is half over, but we blindly trust and hand over the dough anyway. We’re sheep.

   I’m embarrassed to admit I’m one of them, but I totally am. Once in a while I’ll feel the need to sit in the stands with the tens of thousands of other Packerholics and soak it all in for the three hours. That’s how long the buzz lasts, and then it’s over - until the next time.

   Steve is also a comedian, and we figured out that it would take us 360 shows averaging 200 people to entertain as many bodies as were at the game tonight. That’s discouraging, but also fascinating. And not only did all they have to buy a ticket, most of them had on at least one article of clothing with the familiar Packer ‘G’. I know I did, and so did Steve.

   I only had a t-shirt, and Steve wore a short sleeve polo shirt. We walked through the gift shop beforehand and saw t-shirts were $20 and polo shirts were $60. And that didn’t even count the THOUSANDS of player jerseys. The top quality replicas went for almost $300.

   That’s insane, but we all went willingly. I noticed mostly jerseys of #12 Aaron Rodgers and #52 Clay Matthews. What I didn’t see was even ONE #4 Brett Favre jersey, and that was the biggest selling one by far for many years running. The NFL is raking in the loot.

   Still, the experience was nothing but fun and even though it didn’t mean a damn thing the Packers won, it still made us giddy like little kids. I’m ashamed, but I’d do it again.

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Vic Dunlop

Wednesday August 17th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   Got some sad news that a comedian friend of mine Vic Dunlop passed away. Vic was a lot of things, most notably a down to earth gentle soul. I first caught him on the TV show ‘Make Me Laugh’ in the ‘70s, and it was a thrill to get to know him years later in real life.

   We first crossed paths when I lived in Salt Lake City in 2001. He was an in studio radio guest on our morning show and I remember how pleasantly surprised he was that I would be so familiar with his work. He had no idea I was a comic, and I didn’t tell him until we were on the air. We worked together quite a few times, and he was a genuinely nice man.

   Vic was also very entrepreneurial. He did a bit with some plastic eyeballs that he turned into a goldmine, and I say that with the utmost respect. He ended up importing them from China and packaging them himself to sell after shows. He’d close with about a ten minute high energy bit with one joke after another about the eyeballs, and buyers would line up.

   It was uncanny to watch those things fly out the door, and apparently he was able to buy himself a house in L.A. with the proceeds of that one gimmick. There are always the elite ‘purists’(translate: jealous) who make fun of anyone who doesn’t just do standup comedy, but from a marketing perspective this was sheer brilliance. Vic hit the marketing jackpot.

   It’s the ultimate product - dirt cheap, easy to store, light to transport, and he made it part of his act so he became known for it. That’s pretty hard to beat. I love to study both comic and marketing techniques, and Vic Dunlop was an interesting case study on both fronts.

   Whenever Vic would come to Salt Lake City I’d always make it a point to say hello and hang out whenever possible. He liked to talk about comedy and products, and was known for helping comics with their marketing. I was working on trying to market my ‘Be Funny Make Money’ comedy course at the time and he would always make helpful suggestions.

   We kept in touch via email after I left Salt Lake City, and the last time we got to visit in person was a week when we were both back there working different Wiseguys locations. I remember driving from Ogden to Salt Lake City in a nasty blizzard to hang out with him.

   Vic was also a diabetic. He lost a leg to the disease, and was just getting back out on the road the last time I saw him. Like any real comic, of course he had killer material about it. It made the audience howl with laughter, but I have to believe it wasn’t a picnic to have to deal with it off stage. Comedians get the lumps, audiences get the laughs. That’s the deal.

   I hadn’t had contact with Vic in a while, and I’m sorry about that. I don’t claim we were inseparable buddies, but we did cross paths years ago and I was very impressed with quite a few things about him. I’d seen him on TV years before, and it was fun to get a chance to work with him and hang out. I also learned a lot from his entrepreneurial acumen, and I’m still impressed with how he turned those eyeballs into such a slickly marketed product. To lose such a wonderful guy in a world like this when we need comedy so badly is a shame.

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

Learning To Teach

Tuesday August 16th, 2011 - Dallas, TX/Palatine, IL

   Elvis died on this date in 1977, and I’m still living. Elvis and I didn’t have very much in common, other than we both liked to eat greasy cheeseburgers into our 40s. He only made it to 42, so I guess beat him in that respect. That’s about it though. He won all the rest.

   What a showbiz ride for the ages that guy had, but I wonder how much of it he was able to actually enjoy? There does come a point where too many good things are happening all at once to comprehend, even if I can’t relate to it from personal experience. It can happen.

   Elvis had his problems, I have mine. He died young and left a legacy that’s still there to this day. His fans still love him, and he has created new ones after his death. His music is still around and will be for centuries. He made his mark, and then some. He’s a legend.

  I almost died several times, but for whatever reason the universe has seen fit to have me hang out and try to navigate this wacked out planet, at least a little while longer. I’m still at a major loss trying to figure out exactly why that is, but I think I’ve at least got a hint.

   At least part of the reason I think I’m here is to teach and mentor. Whenever I do, I get a major feeling of satisfaction, and it comes naturally to me. I love to help others, and I love it even more when I see the gleam in a student’s eye when a new concept finally clicks in.

   I made it back from Dallas just in time to attend a workshop this evening for continuing education instructors at Harper College in Palatine, IL and I’m glad I did. It was a fun and very worthwhile event put on by some amazingly sharp people. This is where I want to be as far as creative energy, and I felt very much at home visiting with the other instructors.

   I taught a comedy class at Harper last fall and thoroughly enjoyed it. There’s a different clientele entirely from those who take the Zanies classes, and I want to do both. These are people who are life long learners, and probably aren’t looking to go into show business as a career. That’s fine, but there are a lot more of those people and they create a big market.

  One thing I really loved about tonight were back to back workshops that were especially designed to make us better teachers. Harper is offering ongoing training at no cost to raise our awareness on things I’m painfully inept at like computer technology and how to teach in a college environment. I plan on taking full advantage of it all and improving my class.

   Performing is a privilege and so is teaching. It’s a service to humanity if done correctly, and that’s the only way I want to do it. Piecing together a half ass presentation on stage or in a classroom is not my idea of success. It’s a waste of everyone’s time, who needs that?

   I may not have the success of an Elvis, and nobody may care on the day I die much less keep remembering the anniversary of it 34 years later, but he’s not around anymore and I am. The best way for me to spend that time as I see it is to make an effort to be of service to as many as I can with whatever abilities I’ve been given. I can’t sing, but I can teach.

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Texas Toodeloo

Monday August 15th, 2011 - Ft. Worth, TX/Dallas, TX

   My last day in Texas, at least for a while. I have bittersweet thoughts about this place. It has so many people, I have to believe I could make a living here and not have to leave the state. Musicians seem to be able to pull it off regularly. The music scene here is thriving.

   I’ve always had fun in Texas, but I’ve only worked in Houston, El Paso and random one nighters here and there. For whatever reason, I’ve never gotten work at any clubs in towns like Austin, Dallas or San Antonio but I believe I could kick major ass in all those places.

   I’ve been through those towns, but never pushed hard to get work because I didn‘t have to. I was always able to get as many bookings as I needed in the Midwest, closer to home. Why drive two days or buy a plane ticket that comes out of my pocket when I can work a gig two hours or less from where I live? There’s no real reason to, so that’s why I didn’t.

   In retrospect, I wish I’d developed more relationships here. I hear nothing but wonderful things about the comedy scene in Austin, and San Antonio has history and character. Plus I really love brunettes and the Mexican sweeties and mixed blood variations are plentiful.

   I’d love to do some tours here, but right now it’s not smart business. I live where I live, and that’s where I need to focus my attention. Traipsing around Texas would have been a lot more fun twenty years ago but I never got around to it. I had plenty of work elsewhere.

   Dallas was where I was going to move in 1984 when I was just getting started. I tried to escape Milwaukee on a Greyhound bus, but I wasn’t ready just yet. It would still be a few years before I was prepared to make a jump like that, but I was proud of myself for trying.

   I drove to Dallas with Tanner to check out the JFK museum and we drove right past the very same bus station I walked out of as a pie eyed dorky lad back in 1984. I wish I had a time travel machine so I could’ve seen myself and urged that lad to hang in there. I ended up getting right back on another bus that day and coming back to Milwaukee. I panicked.

   I wonder what would have happened had I stayed? I’ve thought about that a lot. I could have scrounged up a job somewhere and a place to live and I know I eventually would’ve gotten into comedy anyway. I likely would have moved by now, but would have different friends I’d probably still have today and learned my craft from a different set of mentors.

    That wasn’t the case. I came back to Milwaukee and did what I did. I would have had a laundry list of new mistakes, but who knows what breaks I would have caught? None of it matters a lick today, but I still can’t help but wonder how different it would’ve turned out.

   Tanner really enjoyed the Kennedy tour. I’d seen it before, but I still think it’s a piece of American history and one of the most fascinating tours I’ve ever taken. It was fun to have a chance to hang with him and Cooper for these few days. They’ve had love and nurturing and aren’t the wandering, confused dented can I was at both of their ages. Good for them.

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

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's Hard To Eat Healthy

Sunday August 14th, 2011 - Fort Worth, TX

   I think I’m part Superman. After a solid quarter century of power pounding the absolute worst foods imaginable into my innards - I’m still above ground to tell about it. That’s an outright miracle if you ask me. A mere mortal would have been pushing daisies years ago.  

   I’m finding it very difficult to believe just how horribly I ate for so many years, and I’m both ashamed of myself and glad I’m on a different path now. I was on the road to certain death, along with millions of other Americans who don’t heed the warning signals either.

   This road trip is really hammering home how hard it is to eat even halfway healthy on a road schedule. It’s expensive, inconvenient and unpopular with most places and people to make it a consistent habit. No wonder I ended up in the hospital diagnosed with diabetes.

   It takes constant effort to eat right and exercise every single day. I’ve only done it a few weeks, but it’s taken a ton of planning to do even that little bit. The results have been very well worth the effort though, and I’m thrilled I did it. This trip has driven that point home.

   Between Chicago and Kansas City, I brought along some snacks for the car I’d probably not have taken in years past - at least not as my first choice. I had a bag of raw almonds, a half dozen hard boiled organic eggs, a small tub of cottage cheese and a bag of cherries. It lasted most of the way, and I didn’t eat the yolks of the eggs. I also had a Wendy’s chili.

   I brought plenty of WATER too, when in the past I’d soak myself silly with sodas. That alone has to be the biggest difference, but the rest hasn’t hurt. I’m conscious of what I put into my pie hole now, and it’s making what I used to swallow seem even more disgusting.

   Yesterday in Kansas City was all done in moderation. We hit a sports bar for lunch and I had a big salad loaded with fresh vegetables while everyone else either had a big sloppy cheeseburger or a gooey Reuben sandwich. No biggie. I’ve had my fill of those for a long time, and there are probably enough remnants in my intestines to reconstruct one of each.

   For dinner we went to a barbecue joint. Hey, it’s Kansas City. I think it’s a law. I’ve had a six week run of eating really well, and I’d planned on treating myself just a little. I knew I was going to do it, but didn’t allow myself to go nuts. I had a side salad first to keep me at least a little healthy, and then a few baked beans to savor the flavor. No fries or corn.

   We ordered full racks each of baby back and St. Louis style ribs, and some ‘burnt ends’ which is a Kansas City specialty. They’re the tips of beef ribs and absolutely scrumptious. Still, I only had small tastes off of each plate. I was proud of myself for staying on track.

   A few hours later, my stomach started gurgling and I realized I’ve actually made eating well a habit. I was thrilled. The ribs were great, but I didn’t go crazy like I would have in the past. Then we got to Texas and the only thing open was Denny’s. Yikes. I had to look long and hard at the menu, and I ordered oatmeal and fresh fruit. I‘m changing my ways.

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

Overcoming Obstacles

Saturday August 13th, 2011 - Overland Park, KS/Ft. Worth, TX

   Texas trip - take two. Kansas City was an ideal halfway point, and we received the royal welcome and more from the Agars’ friend and former real estate person Brian Martin. He went out of his way to not only make us feel welcome - he bought us lunch AND dinner.

   We didn’t expect that, and were willing and expecting to take him and his three kids out for at least one of those meals if not both - but he insisted. It wasn’t necessary, but it sure was as appreciated. Brian’s kids and the Agar kids had been in a performance troupe that did plays and musicals at their church and know each other very well. They had a blast.

   I didn’t want to get in the way of any of that, but it did push back our estimated time of departure to the point it threw our whole schedule off. I wasn’t in any hurry, but we were hoping to make it to Fort Worth, TX so if there was any car crisis we‘d be able to fix it.

   The Skylark’s motor is rock solid, but the brakes were getting frighteningly spongy due to a lack of fluid. Nothing I know is so paralyzingly terrifying as to go to stop a car that’s traveling at top freeway speed and having the brake pedal sink to the floor with no results.

    I’ve experienced this before, way more times than I needed to. None of it bothers me at this point, but this is Tanner and Cooper’s first real solo road trip and I sure don’t want to put either of them in danger. I’m here to chaperone and make sure we arrive in one piece.

   The time passed quickly in the car as we went off on conversational tangents in several directions. One of them was Uranus Factory Outlet. Their generation will be a major part of my target audience, and we brainstormed about it most of the way through Oklahoma  and right on into Texas. Both of them had solid ideas from a point of view I don‘t have.

   It was invigorating to stay awake in the car, and we expected to crash heavily when we made it to Fort Worth. Not to be. Every motel for miles was sold out, and we ended up in a parking lot of a Motel 6 at 5:30am with nowhere else to go. It was hot, sticky and none of us had the energy to do much of anything except try to lay back and grab a few winks.

   Car sleep is never restful, especially after a several hundred mile all night drive through the muggy bayou backwater un-air conditioned swampish funk of Oklahoma and Texas. I wanted to stop and get a motel room in Oklahoma City, but Tanner wanted to make it to Fort Worth in case the car broke down. I shut my mouth and kept driving. It’s his choice.

   We all woke up cranky, sore and smelled like the remnants of a rodeo. Tanner was a bit disillusioned, and had expected we’d easily find a room. I told him this is how life can go in the real world, and he’d better start to get used to it. His education was now beginning.

   These are lessons we all have to learn. We might think we have solid plans, but life just laughs in our face and does what it wants. Then we have to deal with it - ready or not. I’m used to it by now, but Tanner and Cooper are just catching on. This world can be cruel.

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

Saturday, August 13, 2011

K.C. And The Sunshine

Friday August 12th, 2011 - Overland Park, KS

   Road trip. In years past, I might have put an exclamation point or maybe even two after those words, but now it just describes what it is - trying to get from point A to point B in as reasonable a time with as few catastrophes as possible. The thrill of it has long faded.

   What hasn’t faded is the extreme satisfaction that comes with being able to help friends, and that’s the reason I’m spending this weekend driving from Cary, IL to Fort Worth, TX  with my friend Jerry Agar’s sons Tanner and Cooper as Tanner begins his college years.

   Jerry and I have helped each other however we could for over twenty years now, and we aren’t keeping score. We do what we can, when we can. He helped me recently by letting me stay in his guest room as I healed up from my surgery, so this is no big deal. I’ve been a road warrior my whole life, and I’ve known Tanner and Cooper since they were born.

   What makes it fun for me is to see how excited they are. It’s a coming of age adventure, and I want it to be a pleasant memory. Tanner is 19 and Cooper is 16, and they’ve always considered me their uncle. This is about as close to a fun family vacation as I’ll ever get.

   The only drawback is, we’re taking it in a 1984 Buick Skylark with no air conditioning and an AM radio. It reminds me of one of my beaters, and I’m the perfect tour guide on a trip like this because if anything blows up (and it might at any moment) I’ll take care of it.

   Jerry is originally from Canada and his aunt gave Tanner the car because she didn’t use it anymore. It has ridiculously low miles and actually runs great, but the lack of air will be murder once we start heading south to Texas. It’s not her fault - how often does a Canuck need air conditioning in the car? About as often as someone in Texas needs a toboggan.

   I was supposed to pick the boys up at their house by 6 pm, but was running late with my errands and didn’t get there until 7. Jerry’s wife Ann is a wonderful mom, and this was an emotional moment for her as her oldest child went off to college. She wanted pictures and I can’t blame her, so that took a little while longer. I didn’t mind, and totally understood.

   We finally said our goodbyes and got on the road, only to realize five minutes later that   Cooper had forgotten something he needed to bring along for his girlfriend, who’s father just got transferred to the Dallas area for his job. Tanner was impatient and frustrated and reminded me a lot of myself when I was that age. Eventually, we got it together and left.

   The weather was absolutely perfect as we drove from Cary to I-55 and then I-70 out of St. Louis. I remember both of those kids in diapers, and now they took turns driving a car across the country. I felt old on one hand, but proud on the other. They’re both great kids.

   We pulled into Kansas City at 5am on the dot, and are staying with the real estate agent who helped Jerry and Ann sell their house here. His name is Brian and it’s nice of him to put us up. We plan on leaving tomorrow night to avoid the furnace like heat. Fat chance.

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

Friday, August 12, 2011

Shock The Doc

Thursday August 11th, 2011 - Waukegan, IL

   ‘D’ day - as in doctor. It’s been five weeks since my last appointment and I’ve been at it constantly as far as changing my diet for the better and exercising. I’ve missed a couple of days, but only because I was too sore and tired from working out hard the day before. I’ve really stayed with it, probably as much or more than I’ve ever done in my adult lifetime.

   I’ve still got miles to go in what’s going to be a life long marathon, but I’ve made major strides in just a few weeks and I feel a whole lot better for it. I’m sleeping better, thinking clearer and feel a total lifestyle change. This isn’t going to be a weak effort and then back to fast food feasts. I’m totally ready to eat this way for the rest of my life. I‘ve bought in.

   The first thing they did was weigh me and I was horrified to see I only lost three pounds since my last visit. I couldn’t believe it. I worked out like a maniac and ate salads and fish and all I was supposed to. I feel fantastic, and people tell me I look good too. What gives?

   I thought for sure I’d have dropped at least ten or fifteen pounds, but was stunned to see it only come out be a measly three. It took the wind out of my sail until the doctor walked in and told me how much better I look. I told him I only lost three pounds, and he told me it’s very common to not see a big drop in numbers the first few months of a new program.

   He said the reason is I’m simultaneously taking off fat poundage and putting on muscle mass, even if it’s only in my legs from walking. He said he could tell immediately by just a quick glance that I’d been exercising, and I have. Then he asked how much insulin I’ve been taking, and I cringed and told him the truth - none. I expected to get a nasty lecture.

   Instead, his eyes lit up and he said “Really? How about pills?” I told him I hadn’t had a pill prescription, and he gave me a high five and a big smile. “YOU sir, have done it! You have reversed Type 2 diabetes.” Then he went on to tell me how he didn’t think I’d pull it off, but I proved him wrong. I thanked him for his total confidence in me, and he laughed.

   Apparently, very few who get diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are willing to take the big plunge I did and do a complete lifestyle change, and they end up on medications for years. I’m not out of the water yet, and if I go back to how I was living before I’ll be right back where I started and I don’t want that. But for now, he’s taking me completely off insulin.

   I’ve got another appointment in three months where he’ll take some blood and do a test of how the sugars are over a period of time, but I’m not worried. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, and get even better. I’ve been walking, now it’s time to take that farther.

   I hope to add at least a little bit of running and some weight training in there too, and do better at eating breakfast every day. I can use a few supplements too. This isn’t time to lay low, it’s time to ramp it up. I’m starting to get in a groove, but I’m not there yet. Still, I’m doing a lot better than most and I have a chance to take it a lot farther if I will just stay the course. I floated out of the doctor’s office on a cloud, and I think we were both in shock.

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

Take Me To Uranus

Wednesday August 10th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   Talk about feeling insignificant. I ran across an audio program I had forgotten I had that was recorded by the late Carl Sagan called ‘Pale Blue Dot’. I listened to it years ago and it painted a vivid cosmic picture of just how tiny a terrestrial speck in space we call home.

   I was a fan of Carl Sagan when he was alive, but his work is even more fascinating now that I host The Mothership Connection radio show. I wish I could have had him as a guest at some point, because he had such a way of shrinking the vastness of the universe into an every day person’s world. He died in 1996, right as the internet was coming on the scene.

   I drove around all day lost in his words, and loving it. What a mental enema. This world is so ridiculously minuscule and meaningless in the big picture of the universe, yet to us it can be intimidating. But, we’re only here for a brief blip on the radar - and then it’s over.

   If that’s the case, then why would any of us not go chase our biggest dreams? It’s such a short ride, why not make it as exciting as possible? I don’t want to waste one millionth of a second on anything that isn’t fun or interesting, and I’m already far enough along in this cosmic journey to realize there isn’t much left. It’s time to let it all rip and enjoy the ride.

   What intrigues me the most by far is my ‘King of Uranus’ project. I’m not even exactly sure what it is or who it is, but I know I enjoy it and others do too. Sure, it’s goofy to the point of being stupid - but it’s a FUN stupid, and what’s wrong with that? It’s harmless.

   There have been all kinds of signals since I’ve had this idea, but I just haven’t made it a priority enough to make it a solid reality. I’ve had constant hints though, and still do. I get people beeping, pointing and laughing at my ‘URANUS 1’ license plate every single day.

   I don’t have an ‘I (heart) Uranus’ bumper sticker on this car just yet, but that really adds to the picture and when I did it made people laugh even more. It’s only a license plate and a bumper sticker, but together they attract attention. People take pictures, and I’ve been in parking lots where there’s a crowd gathered around my car pointing and laughing. Really.

   We’ll all be dead soon enough, so why not let it all hang out? I want to breathe life into this project and actually become ‘The King of Uranus‘, whatever and whomever that is. It already works, and I haven’t really done anything with it other than have a loose concept.

   People laugh when I tell them about it, and laugh even harder when they see even a tiny glimpse of it manifested in something so small as a bumper sticker or license plate. I also have a ball cap that says ’King of Uranus’ and people always notice and laugh at that too.

   Fun and laughs is what life is about, at least to me. There are too many people stressed out and I’m not going to spend my remaining days doing that. Whatever show biz dreams I chased and may have missed were at least time spent not being miserable like such a big percentage of everyone else is. The universe is too gigantic to fret about this little speck.  

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

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

No Trouble At All

Tuesday August 9th, 2011 - Lombard, IL

   Whenever I feel the slightest need to snivel about my pansy ass troubles, I always know without a doubt somebody somewhere has it a whole hell of lot worse. That’s not always enough of a comfort, because when something sucks raw sewage, it sucks raw sewage.

   When I was in the hospital just a couple of months ago, it looked pretty bleak for a little stretch. I had no idea what to expect, and when my surprise ended up being surgery on my strawberry patch, I thought it was game over. The pain was excruciating, but it’s all in the past and healed to the point it seems like a distant memory. I’ve lived to see another day.

   Yes, I have to prick my fingers with needles twice a day, but that’s not the end of living either. Actually, it’s the beginning. For the first time ever I’m really thinking about taking care of myself and making health a priority rather than a chore. I’m in a positive mind set.

   Today I had lunch with my former Chicago Style Standup group mate Scot Wickmann. Scot has dealt with diabetes too and graciously offered to set up a lunch with his dietician so she could share some tips with me. That was an extremely kind offer, and I accepted.

   Scot not only gets to enjoy the fun and frivolity of diabetes, he also gets to have kidney dialysis three times a week. Just when I thought I had troubles, I found out I totally don’t. I can eat my little salads and take my little walks, and feel a lot better in just a few weeks.

   Scot has to endure a never ending hellish torture thrice a week I can hardly imagine, and frankly don’t want to. It’s scary to even think about, and I don’t think most people ever do unless they have to face it themselves. I’d never thought about diabetes until I needed to.

   I’ve always liked Scot and we’ve gotten along very well, but today instilled a brand new level of respect for him from me after going with him to the hospital. He knew everybody and introduced us, and then we went to the cafeteria to meet up with his dietician friend.

   She gave me some basic pointers about when to eat and how much and said it’s not the end of the world if I blow it once in a while because everyone does. It’s all about changes for life, and I’m doing exactly that. I’ve made major changes, and am feeling much better than I did just two short months ago. Then she gave me some diabetes literature to read.

   It was a fun lunch and Scot was cracking jokes left and right. He went out of his way to make me feel at home, and that’s exactly the kind of thing I try to do with people in a spot like that. When it comes back around it feels extra good, and I appreciated every minute.

   On the way home, Scot mentioned he’s going to check out the possibility of eventually having a kidney transplant, and after that he wants to go back on the road and do comedy again. More power to him, and I can honestly say if my kidney matches I’ll give it to him. As goofy as that sounds, I’ve always thought about donating a kidney to someone in need. That’s what giving is all about. After hearing what others go through, I have no problems.

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

Celebrity Star Power

Monday August 8th, 2011 - Chicago, IL

   Boy, did it feel great to get back on stage at Zanies in Chicago this evening. No, it was a lot better than great. It was somewhere between outstanding and orgasmic. After being off stage completely for the longest period of my adult life and then having a rusty comeback show in Milwaukee last Friday, this was like a hit of the purest heroin. I‘m hooked again.

   I’ve been hosting the Monday Rising Star Showcases pretty steady for quite a while and by all accounts tonight was one of if not the very best ever. The club was sold out and the crowd was red hot and ready to laugh. I didn’t feel any of the rust I felt last week, and was in a groove before I even hit the stage. For whatever reason, everything was right tonight.  

   The comics were all on fire as well, and there were 14 of them. Sometimes there can be a dud or three in the mix, and that’s how it goes. Not tonight. Everyone brought their best and it was the right night to do it because the audience was as good as it gets. This is why I’ve kept doing comedy as long as I have. That feeling never gets old. It’s an intense rush.

   There were even a couple of celebrities on the bill. Pat Tomasulo is the sportscaster on WGN TV’s morning news and is also a comic. He’s very funny and absolutely rocked it. I’ve seen all kinds of wannabe media monkeys who think they’re big stars rob stage time from real comics because they have a name and club owners fawn all over them. Gag.

   Pat didn’t do that. He was polite, waited his turn and when he got up on stage he had an act. He did a tight funny set and the audience loved him. He was a total professional and I hope I get a chance to work with him again, especially in front of such a rocking crowd.

   About halfway through the show Bert Haas told me Tim Meadows from Saturday Night Live had stopped in and wanted to do a guest spot. I’d never met Tim, but he was another total pro who also knocked it out of the park. The audience went wild and I saw first hand what the power of name recognition can do. It’s hypnotic. They hung on his every word.

   That’s not to say he wasn’t a good comic, it’s just that there’s a whole other level that’s reached when an audience knows the person on stage. That’s not possible with somebody they’ve never seen before. I’ve had literally thousands of excellent shows in my lifetime, but it only went to a certain level. They laughed, but then forgot me in the parking lot.

   When someone has been on their television or in movies, it’s a whole different form of bonding. The audience knows the person before they even say their first word, and that’s a huge advantage. I’ve had it very little from my radio jobs, but I’ve still experienced it to a tiny degree and it’s powerful. The electricity of being on stage is intensified even more.

   This was just a magical night. The 14 comics kicked major ass, especially and including Pat and Tim. I was on a roll and didn’t feel any rust at all. It was like I never left, and that was a real relief. It’d be like Dolly Parton losing her boobs. Would life go on? Sure, but it wouldn’t be as exciting as before. Standup comedy is an addiction, and I‘m still hooked.

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bless This Mess

Saturday August 6th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   What a perplexing paradox life is. Part of it is a thrilling adventure packed with surprise and delight, while another is a bumpy slide down a disgusting foul smelling mountain of oozing raw sewage. Sometimes it goes from the one extreme to the other in a single day.

   Why is this? I‘m stumped like an amputee. The older I get the less of a clue I have as to what a reason is for anything or why any of us even exists. If I was in charge I’d probably wipe out at least 50% of the mopes on this planet and use them for parts. That’s about all they’re good for, and I’m usually one to give people a chance. It’s time to thin the herd.

   One mutt I read about this morning got my attention big time. Some 40 year old bottom feeding slime bag was arrested at the National Sports Collectors Convention I was just at two days ago for selling fake memorabilia saying it was game worn by big stars. I see that as a pretty low rent scam, but apparently he raked in copious coin with it for a long time.

   A similar event happened in Milwaukee years ago, and that maggot ended up blaming it on a flunky assistant and walked away scot-free. I’m glad I’m out of that business, but it’s scandalous these slimy serpents are allowed to slither our streets. They’re low life louts.

   Another ugly event that got my attention was the mob of black teenagers that went on a rampage at the Wisconsin State Fair and allegedly started attacking white people. I’m sad it happened, but not surprised. There’s still tension between races, but nobody steps up to talk about the real reasons it still exists. Something made them flip like that. What was it?

   Everybody’s so politically correct to the point of ridiculousness these days that it’s hard to inject facts on such topics. Everything is sugar coated and that doesn’t help put an end to something that should have ended decades ago. Color shouldn’t matter, but it still does. Now it’s spilling over into violence, and I don’t see a happy ending. Something’s wrong.

   I’ve got plenty of my own problems to deal with. What color anyone’s skin is or where  their ancestors came from is of no practical interest to me at this time. I do have to say if a mob of any color teenagers starts attacking my car, I’m stomping on my gas pedal as hard as I can and going automo-bowling. But then I go to prison and the issue still isn‘t solved.

   I hope that puke who faked the sports memorabilia goes straight to the can and gets his fill of bunk bed bingo with a muscular 300 pound cell mate who has questionable hygiene habits. I’ve run out of patience for all dirt bags and I think the rest of us who try to live in peace will agree. Mistakes are one thing, but there are some living who are just plain bad.

   They come in all colors and are scattered world wide. That’s the problem. They live in a different mental zip code, but we have to share our planet with them. Can’t we find a way to exterminate some more of these useless human insects and make it a fair fight? I try to mind my own business, but that’s getting more and more difficult with everything so way out of control. I’m getting much better in my personal journey, but the world is a mess.

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

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Use It Or Lose It

Friday August 5th, 2011- Milwaukee, WI

   I finally got back on stage tonight after my longest break ever - six weeks. That may not sound like a long time, but to me it feels like I’m starting all over again at ground zero. In a way I am, and it’s a very humbling experience. It’s like rehabbing from a sports injury.  

   Whatever faults I have and mistakes I’ve made, and there are many, one thing I’ve been able to keep through all of it is my comedy chops. I started doing open mics in November of 1983 and I’ve stayed with it through hell, high water and everything else. I knew it was crucial to keep myself in tune, as like a muscle it would atrophy if I stopped working out.

   Even when I’ve had morning radio jobs and had to be up at 4am, I always made time to keep myself in a comedy groove. I sacrificed sleep, dates, going to sporting events, seeing the latest TV shows or movies for 20 years and who knows what else - but it was worth it. I made a commitment to myself to be the best comedian I could possibly be, and I did it.

   No matter what got in the way of that, and a lot of things tried, I made comedy my main priority and was very diligent about it. Had I done the same with my health for that long a period, I probably wouldn’t have to deal with my diabetes issues but that’s life. We make choices, and then deal with the consequences. It’s too late now, those choices were made.

   I’m choosing to continue comedy, but not like before. I can’t keep doing it like that, and I don’t want to. Pulling all night promenades to prowl the Podunk places for piss poor pay is preposterous, but I still want to maintain my stage chops. I need to redirect my effort.

   I was actually nervous before the show tonight, and that never happens. I felt like it was my first time up, and I was pacing back and forth like a rookie. I hadn’t felt that in a long time, and I laughed because it was unexpected. All these years later, I’ve come full circle.

  The show tonight was part of the Milwaukee Comedy Festival which is becoming a very solid annual event. It’s run by a guy named Matt Kemple and a group of others who are a pleasure to work with. The shows include sketch comedy, improv, and standup too. It’s a great mix, and there’s a lot of talent in one place. I’m thrilled to be asked to participate.

   Matt and his whole crew are really on the ball. They’re all in their twenties, and it’s nice to see how hungry they are to keep comedy going. They’re totally doing it right by getting media exposure and making it into a yearly event. They’ve got a super slick website that’s worth checking out at www.milwaukeecomedy.com. I’m impressed with the whole event.

    I did a ten minute set tonight and was so rusty I’m surprised I didn’t squeak. I stumbled my way through it and got some laughs, but didn’t have the rhythm I’m used to. I felt like someone trying to throw a ball with the opposite hand. My brain knew what to do, but my muscles weren’t following. The audience was polite and I didn’t embarrass myself, but it wasn’t the kind of performance I know I can give. I’ll have to work hard to recapture that groove, and I can only do it by getting on stage and performing. ‘Use it or lose it’ is true.

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Card Game Over

Thursday August 4th, 2011 - Rosemont, IL

   Forty years, and I‘ve finally had my fill. That’s how long I’ve been farting around with sports cards, and it’s time to move on. It was a lot of fun, and I did make at least a couple of bucks…at times - but it’s over. It took four decades, but I’ve completely lost interest.

   Part of it is the hobby has changed and the other part is that I have changed. Pictures of men in sports uniforms don’t do the same thing they did for me as a kid full of hopes and dreams of maybe having my own mug on a card some day. They don’t do anything at all.

   I loved sports cards as a kid. I would open each pack with a surgical precision and savor the pink slab of bubble gum which probably had a big hand in me getting diagnosed with diabetes all these years later. It also contributed to my dental hell - but it tasted SO good.

   The smell of the gum hovered over the scene as either a group of buddies or just me had the exquisite pleasure of thumbing through a new stack of jock heroes to worship, hoping to strike childhood gold with either a major superstar or someone from a hometown team.

   Growing up in Milwaukee, the Brewers and Packers were pretty bad for the majority of my childhood, but their players were still gods to us as kids and we fought over them like they were Hall of Famers. We knew all their statistics, and their pictures were etched into our brains permanently. Even today, when I see some of those cards I go right back there.

   That’s the appeal of the sports card hobby, and that’s why prices of some of them get so outrageous. Kids grow up, but those memories are still there. Adults have money and can afford to buy back part of their childhoods later. I get the concept. It’s a very strong urge.

   Then, like in most good things, greed eventually came in and ruined it all. People saw a quick buck and then they started producing way too much product and the game changed from a fun and somewhat innocent childhood pastime to an adult money grubbing game.

   I have to admit I got hooked into that too, and I tried my hand and wheeling and dealing several times. I’d buy collections and set up at card shows, and once in a while I’d do OK. Other times I’d need money and sell everything and start over. Sometimes I’d get out of it for a few years, but then I’d get the itch and get back in. It’s been a constant ebb and flow.

   Today I went to the National Sports Collectors Show in Rosemont, IL. That is the grand poobah of all card shows, and the biggest dealers all come in to one place. It’s been going on over thirty years, and I used to look forward to it every year. It rotates locations, but is often in Chicago so I’ve gotten to go quite a few times. Today I realized it passed me by.

   I went with my friend Richard Caan from Milwaukee who sells cards full time on Ebay. He’s a great guy, and has helped me liquidate my remaining inventory and had some cash for me today. I decided to take in the show to enjoy the treasures, but halfway through my first lap I knew I was done. It was fun for four decades, but now I have other things to do.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

The X Factor

Wednesday August 3rd, 2011 - Rockford, IL

   Back to Rockford, IL for an on air visit with my good buddies ‘Stone and Double T’ on ‘WXRX - The X’. I really enjoy hanging out with those guys, even though I have no clue if anyone who listens to them enjoys what I do. It’s a heavy rock station that plays music I would never listen to by choice on my own, but the guys themselves are very entertaining.

   They have all kinds of guests on from hockey players and coaches from their local team the Ice Hogs to celebrities on the phone to anyone else they feel like talking to. It’s a very eclectic mix and it sounds very good in my opinion. They get huge ratings, and whenever I’m asked to be on I’ll always say yes. They have me on for the whole show and it’s fun.

   Rockford still intrigues me as a business opportunity. It’s extremely blue collar and has been hit especially hard by the economy’s woes, but there are about 250,000 people in the metro area and I have to believe at least some of them want to laugh. There have been one night gigs that have come and gone over the years but never a long running full time club.

   I don’t know if I’d have the guts to try a full time comedy room there, but I’d sure like a chance to parlay my on air relationship with Stone and Double T to do several shows each year. I know a crowd is out there, it’s just a matter of getting them to show up as a group.

   A while back Jim Stone got a call from a UAW union hall asking for a list of comics he might know that would be interested in putting on a show in their space. Stone called me and I called my friends Jim McHugh and Steve Purcell and we went in there and really lit it up for those people. It was a fantastic show, and I have to believe there are more to do.

   There are also people who live in the surrounding areas who have no live entertainment at all to speak of. If people like Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick still call this area home, how horrible can it be? I don’t want to be greedy, but I think there can be some business here.

   I got my exercise walk in before I left, and also a healthy breakfast of oatmeal sprinkled with walnuts, poached eggs and some vegetables. It still shocks me that I’m ordering stuff like this on purpose, but I’m trying to develop new habits that will produce new results.

   My theory of making my main base of operations be Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and Rockford still could work in my opinion, and that’s another reason I went out there today. I wanted to explore the area a little more and I saw there’s a Rockford College. Maybe I’d be able to teach a comedy class, or find a community college with continuing education.

   Whatever the case, I’m planting seeds in the area by being a semi regular on the radio. I wish I had a better picture of who their listeners are, but I know they have big time ratings numbers so someone has them on. It’s my job to find out who that is and get them out for a comedy show. Maybe it’s not possible and there’s a reason a full time club never lasted, but since I live so close and have the advantage of radio exposure whenever I want it, it’s worth my time and effort to keep showing up. If nothing else, it’s fun. Today was a blast.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tuesday Troubles

Tuesday August 2nd, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   A couple of bumps in the road today, but nothing to qualify as a disaster. The first was a phone call from my friend Don Learned in Houston to tell me his club closed, which kind of throws a wet blanket on the week of work I had booked there in September. It’s a good thing I waited to buy my plane ticket, as I would’ve been out all the money for that too.

   This is how the business works, and every week is technically a risk. Don is a great guy and also a comic, and he understands the game from both sides. He was totally apologetic on the phone, but apparently he had some problems with the landlord about some kind of plumbing issue and he was forced to close the doors. Another outlet for work off the list.

   He may or may not reopen, but that doesn’t help me for September. I’ve got a giant hole in my calendar where a booking was, and even though it was far away it was for a person I like in a town I like. I’m sorry I won’t be going, but that’s the state of the business now.

   Fortunately, my old stand by in a pinch Zanies in Chicago has come through once again as they’ve done so many times before. There was a fallout the week following the one I’d booked in Houston, so I’ll be able to pay my rent for October and maybe even have a few bucks left to buy a couple of bowls of oatmeal and some vegetables. I’ll squeak through.

    I am SO grateful to Bert Haas from Zanies for taking care of me once again. He didn’t have to give me that week, and I won’t let him or anyone else down. I haven’t been able to get on stage in a while now, but I’ll light it up that week. I’m ready to turn it loose.

   The other situation that has my attention is a toothache that’s been getting worse for the last couple of days. As if I haven’t had enough trouble with my hospital adventure, now I have dental pain. I’ve had more than my share of that in my life and I’m afraid to go back to the dentist and hear I need another root canal or other ugly money sucking procedure.

   I don’t have any money to suck right now. The timing would be horrendous, but that’s the way it’s always been so I’m used to it by now. I’m not going to panic, and see how it feels in the next few days. Life sure doesn’t get any easier, especially without insurance.

   I refuse to lose this good space I’m in though. If I have to go to a dentist, I’ll go, it will get fixed, and I’ll pay for it however I can scrape it together. I’m surprised to learn I have teeth left that haven’t been fixed, but apparently there’s at least one more. I feel it throb.

   That didn’t stop me from getting out and doing a killer walk today. The weather was as perfect as it can get for August - sunny but not too hot or humid, and I took advantage of it and went out for over an hour. I came back drenched, but knew I’d had a great workout.

   I can’t quit now, and I’m not going to. I’m sorry the week in Houston got scrapped, but at least I got the Zanies gig to see me through. They’re also running comedy classes in the fall, and that will help too. My loyalty for all these years is paying a handsome dividend.

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