Friday, June 29, 2012

Missing Topic A

Thursday June 28th 2012 – Rockford, IL

   More radio fill in work at WNTA in Rockford, IL today. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m thankful I got asked to do it, but my ultimate weakness showed through today. I don’t claim to be up to date on current events, especially all things political, and I found myself over my skis on a crucial topic.

   One thing I’ve learned from my years in the radio business is to talk about ‘Topic A’ whenever possible. That’s the number one subject everyone at water coolers will probably be talking about. What that is can depend on the format of a particular station I happen to be on, but I’ve been able to figure it out rather well from my experience. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what that is.

   What does take significant talent and ability is to make it interesting enough to hold a listener’s attention. That’s the trick. There are masters at doing that, and I’m not one of them yet. Someone who is despite what his detractors might think is Rush Limbaugh. He’s a fantastic talk show host.

   My friend Jerry Agar is another. So is Mark Belling on WISN in Milwaukee. He’s been on the air for decades, and is a very polarizing figure as are Rush and Jerry. Love or hate them, they are able to ‘stir up the monkeys’ and get reaction out of listeners one way or another. That’s an art.

   Part of what all three of those guys or any good host has going for them is passion about all the subjects they discuss. I know Jerry personally and I know he has it, and I’d find it hard to believe Rush or Mark or any of the other top people fake it on a regular basis. That would be hard to do.

   My problem is I really don’t care about politics very much. I happen to think they’re all crooks, and it depresses me to think about it. I don’t have a deep working knowledge of issues that are on the front burner, and don’t claim to be able to discuss them intelligently, especially on the radio.

   What was ‘Topic A’ today? On a sports talk station it would have been the NBA draft. That’s a topic I could have spoken about intelligently because I’m a huge sports fan and have a lifetime of knowledge to draw from. I may not be an expert on the players of this particular year, but I could have easily faked it well enough so all but the most rabid of geeks wouldn’t have been the wiser.

   On WNTA in Rockford, IL the topic I should have been talking about most if not all of today’s three hour program was the Supreme Court’s passing of Obamacare and how it will affect people in the near and distant future. It’s a huge story, and one that I should have milked the whole day.

   Unfortunately, I’m painfully out of touch with it and haven’t built up an arsenal of information over time like I have in sports. I made a feeble attempt at addressing it, and actually got a couple of calls, but I knew in my heart I was out of my league and quickly moved on to something else.

   What I did feel I did well was bring on a variety of my personal contacts and interviewed them in their fields of expertise. My friend Bill Mihalic from Detroit writes a daily joke sheet, but he’s also a big car buff and we talked about that for two segments. Rockford has a Chrysler plant and I thought it was a fit. Bill and the other guests were interesting, but I totally missed ‘Topic A’.

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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Talk Radio Training

Wednesday June 27th, 2012 – Rockford, IL

   I’m getting a golden opportunity this week by being able to guest host on WNTA in Rockford, IL and fly solo for five consecutive days. I totally appreciate it, even though it’s by no means an easy task. Talk radio is a skill like anything else, and it takes actual on air experience to master it.

   It’s a lot like ‘game conditions’ in pro sports. I always hear about how the only way to improve in sports is for an athlete to get actual game experience, and this is the same thing. Practicing will help to prepare, but it’s not enough. One must get in there and experience heat from a real battle.

   Standup comedy is the same way. I have plenty of game experience there, and there aren’t a lot if any situations I can think of that I haven’t either been in myself or witnessed firsthand on some occasion so I know what to do. It took decades to acquire that experience, but I’m glad I have it.

   I don’t have that as far as being a talk radio host. I’ve been on the air for decades, but mostly as a smart ass side kick on a morning show. That’s a completely different situation and skill set, and I was always able to rely on a sharp wit to be able to fire off funny lines at the appropriate time.

   Having a quick wit to be able to think on one’s feet on stage or on air is a tremendous blessing, and I’m extremely grateful to have had it at my disposal, but wit alone isn’t enough to be good at this particular gig. There has to be a great deal of preparation, structure and other things at which I haven’t been good at as a rule. This week has been a chance to strengthen my weakest points.

   I’ve hosted in a talk situation before on The Mothership Connection, but I’ve always had other people in the studio with me so basically it’s a morning show format. I’ve gotten a lot better over time, but I still don’t claim to be good at it. I can throw in a line on occasion and crack everyone up, but that’s a gimmick. Keeping the show flowing and maintaining consistent energy is tough.

   It’s especially tough to do alone, and that’s what I’m learning this week. I’ve usually been able to have Jim McHugh with me, but for budget reasons he’s not part of the mix this time. I like Jim in studio to bounce things off of, but it’s also a crutch. Being in the pilot’s seat alone is no picnic, especially when nobody is calling. I have to talk into a microphone and try to make it interesting.

   My friend Jerry Agar is a terrific talk radio host. He has shaped a strong personality over a long period of time, and is constantly preparing material. He can comfortably sit behind a microphone and rattle off his opinions whether anyone calls or not. It’s a skill, and he’s great at it. I need a lot of work, and this week has been a much appreciated gift. I can feel myself get better every day.

   I have been using the crutch of having guests lined up, but they are on the phone and I’ve been practicing talking in solo spurts and trying to not only make it interesting but hit my time cues as well. I have network news to hit every top and bottom of the hour, and that can be very difficult.

   This whole thing is difficult, but it doesn’t hurt to have a chance to do it and polish up another skill. I don’t take this for granted, and I will do my best to not waste time for anyone who listens.

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Spark Remains

Tuesday June 26th, 2012 – Rockford, IL

   One of my very favorite groups from the ‘70s is The Spinners. They have a song called “I’ll Be Around” that has the lyrics “But I know there’s always a chance, a tiny spark remains, yeah. And sparks turn into flames, and love can burn once again.” I think that’s true for more than just love.

   This afternoon I felt more than a tiny spark as the radio comedy entity known as ‘The Kidders’ returned to the air on WNTA in Rockford, IL. We used to be ‘Jerry’s Kidders’ when we were on WLS and WGN with my friend Jerry Agar, but he’s working in Toronto now so that ended that.

    I’m sure we’d all love to continue what we started, but it’s just not feasible right now. Jerry is busy trying to make a living, and we all understand that very clearly. Still, that doesn’t mean the remaining three of us can’t carry on and have fun and that’s what we did today. It was fantastic.

   The other two Kidders are Ken Sevara and Tim Slagle, and we decided to resurrect the concept for a day and see if we could fill a three hour shift. Our regular time with Jerry was usually a half an hour of rapid fire jokes and banter about current events stories of a particular week. Today we slowed it down a bit and stretched out a few stories into talk points, but we also did what we do.

   The energy was fast moving and fun as it usually is, and it felt wonderful to get back on the air with the guys no matter where it was. We really do have a chemistry between us, and as much as we’d enjoy having Jerry back with us that’s just not an option now. The Three Stooges started as part of an act with a guy named Ted Healy at first, but they eventually became their own entity.

   At least for today, it worked out splendidly. Since I am the host I took Jerry’s role as the dealer of the stories, but also jumped in and tossed in some response lines as well. I don’t think it made that big of a difference, and I can see us doing it again. We covered the three hours no problem.

   We hadn’t been on the air together in a long time, but none of us had a problem getting back in a groove. It was like we were never apart, and that’s what it’s like when any team has chemistry. I feel the same energy when I get together with Max and Spike, my former partners on the Loop.

   When radio works, it’s hard to beat as far as fun goes. I feel the same thing when we’re on our game with The Mothership Connection on WLIP and I felt it on the Loop, even though it took us a few months of feeling each other out to get any kind of synergy going. When it does come, it’s nothing short of magic and it jumps out of the speakers to a listener. I love being part of that mix.

   The whole day today was exactly how I feel all days should be. The three of us shared a ride to Rockford and laughed the entire way there. We had a breakfast before the show and knocked out a battle plan of stories for the air. We laughed through that, and then for three hours on the radio.

   We had fun on the ride back too. This is how life should work. Unfortunately, we all knew we don’t have this on a regular basis anymore, and it might be a long time before we’ll get a chance to do it again. But the spark definitely remains, and when that chance does come we’ll be ready.

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

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

An Overdose Of Air

Monday June 26th, 2012 – Kenosha, WI/Rockford, IL

   I just pulled my second all nighter in less than a week. Who am I, Kid Rock? This is ridiculous, but the situation called for it so here I am. I was on the air from 8pm to midnight last night doing The Mothership Connection radio show on WLIP in Kenosha, WI and needed to be in Rockford, IL by 5am to do the morning show on WNTA. Going home to get any sleep was not an option.

   I got off the air in Kenosha and headed straight to Rockford on Illinois Highway 173. It’s a two lane highway that goes through quite a few small towns, but it’s the most direct route. It’s also an excellent way to get a speeding ticket, so I was extra careful to go the speed limit the whole way.

   There’s something both eerily peaceful and potentially frightening about driving along a lonely two lane highway at 2 or 3am. I’ve done it countless times, and know that I need to be extra alert for potential problems. Besides having to watch for third shift speed traps, animals darting across the highway can happen at any time. Sometimes they don’t dart, and that’s when it’s a problem.

   I could fill a small zoo with the variety of critters I’ve crunched over the years, and I never feel good when that happens. I’ve hit raccoons, opossums, skunks, deer and even turtles. I try to miss them if possible, but sometimes they just run out at the wrong time and there’s nothing I can do.

   Keeping the gas tank filled is another painfully learned lesson. Quite often there are no stations open after a certain hour in many small towns, and more than once I’ve had to pull over and wait until morning to be able to gas up. That hasn’t happened in a long time, but I’ve had to learn the hard way. Hunger can be a factor too. Restaurants and food stores also tend to close down early.

   It was a gorgeous night tonight and part of me was hoping to see a UFO. I don’t claim to have ever seen one, even though I host a radio show that talks about them enthusiastically. One would think if ‘they’ really are monitoring us, I’d be somebody they’d want to abduct and get to know.

   Another part of me would be scared to death, and I’d probably soil my pants to the ankles and go into shock if I saw a ship land and little green men with bulbous heads come waddling over to my car to haul me inside their saucer for an infamous ‘medical experiment’ with the giant finger.

   It would probably feel a lot like Jerry Sandusky felt his first night in prison, and that’s another thing I thought about while I drove. What a nightmare situation that all is, and I feel horrible for those victims. I have to believe that even though he did get convicted, their pain won’t go away.

   I talked about it on the air in Rockford with Jeff Schneider, my podcast partner who happens to live in Pennsylvania. I had him on as a guest for several reasons. He’s very up on current events, and it’s also a chance to plug ‘The Unshow’ podcast. I have to start thinking that way a lot more.

   I’ve always been easy about sharing the wealth when it comes to air time. I never thought I had to always be the center of attention, and I’m fine with somebody else having the spotlight. I want the best possible show, and this is all good practice. Now I need to sleep. These hours are brutal.

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

Monday, June 25, 2012

Deep Thrills

Sunday June 24th, 2012 – Kenosha, WI

   Sometimes my brain wanders so far off course I have a difficult time reeling it back in. Sunday is often when that happens, probably because I get stimulated in that direction by the Mothership Connection radio program on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha, WI. It makes me ponder deep issues.

   Today I got to thinking about how unbelievably delicate life is. It’s frightening. We’re all just a single itty bitty heartbeat away from exiting this cosmic plane, and it could happen at any time or place without the slightest warning. There are no guarantees for anyone, and ‘fair’ does not exist.

   But taking it deeper than that, I’m fascinated by the impact one little thing can have depending on individual circumstances. One teeny tiny little flaw or defect in one’s genetic makeup can put that person in the trick bag for life. Thousands or even millions of details go right, but the misfire of ONE causes major problems. A blind or deaf person is an example. That one flaw is a biggie.

   I’m not saying a blind or a deaf person can’t have a productive and happy life, but be real. Who would choose that voluntarily? Some have it thrust upon them later. What if someone should lose sight or hearing either by accident or a degenerative condition? It happens, but who knows why?

   Everything boils down to mathematical combinations. It’s odds based, and a big numbers game that’s way more complicated than I can wrap my sputtering intellect around. If it isn’t genetics or something tangible, it’s the randomness of events. Who we’re born to, when and where are prime examples. You can’t tell me all of that doesn’t significantly help shape each of us as individuals.

   Crossing paths with precisely the right person at exactly the right time can have a dramatic life altering result. What if John Lennon had never met Paul McCartney? Or what if Elvis’s twin had lived instead of dying at birth? Would they have been as famous as a matched set? There are too many of these kinds of questions to ask, and nobody has any concrete answers. How frustrating.

   And is this all there is? I sure hope not, but from all I hear and read about there could be about as many possibilities as the amount of rappers that have been shot. I’ve heard a lot of theories of parallel universes, and that really wears out the hamster on my imagination wheel. I’m scorched.

   I have enough trouble trying to figure out this life on this planet in this universe, even if we’re not as much as 1/1000th of a speck on the radar of our own galaxy much less the universe itself. I feel a throbbing headache coming on just thinking about all this, but I can’t help it. I’m curious.

   As much as I love doing the Mothership Connection show, I feel it dying on the vine. I haven’t been able to take it to a higher level than it is, which isn’t very high at all unfortunately. It is on a legitimate radio station, but not one that can be heard by enough people to make any real impact.

   It needs to be a presence on the internet, and that takes time, money and resources I just do not possess right now. I gave it a run for four years, but I don’t see the progress I need to keep going after the first of the year. Maybe I’m a big hit in a parallel universe. I wish I was there to enjoy it.

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

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Overnight Overload

Friday June 22nd, 2012 – Rockford, IL

   If there was a tiny shred of doubt left before, it’s gone now. I am officially old. I had to pull an all nighter last night into this morning and it just about killed me. Gone forever is the bullet proof vest of youth, humbly replaced by a knitted sweater that doesn’t fit correctly. It happens to us all.

   I was asked earlier this week if I could do a morning radio fill in shift on WNTA in Rockford, IL this morning and I said yes. Then, I was asked to attend the Bootsy Collins show at the Cubby Bear in Chicago and I said yes to that too. I’m going to have to watch my schedule a little better.

   I assumed that Bootsy would go on at 8pm, maybe 9 at the latest. If he played for two hours, it would be over by 11 and I could drive out to Rockford and sleep on the couch at the station for a few hours and then crash after the radio show. I’ve done it like that off and on for twenty years.

   I would often do a comedy show at night, stay up and prepare for my radio show, then go home and sleep all day like a vampire. I would sometimes do that several times in a week if I needed to and not think twice about it. Well, today I thought twice. I don’t think I can handle this anymore.

   As it turned out, Bootsy didn’t go on until 10:30 and played for two hours. I hadn’t planned on having to drive Pedro Bell back to the far south side of Chicago, and after the show I was invited out to get something to eat with Pedro and his business manager Aki Antonia. I couldn’t say no.

   By the time I dropped Pedro off, I knew I was in the trick bag. I was really tired, but had to get to Rockford by 5am. It turned into an unexpected cross country Grand Prix, and I was pushing it to the limit in my little Chevy Cavalier cranking it up to 92 miles an hour at times. That’s stupid on so many levels, but I needed to get there because I promised I would. It was agonizing stress.

   If I say I’m going to do something, I really do try my best to do what I say. I believe that a deal is a deal, and it doesn’t matter if I’m the one inconvenienced. I could have said no to either of the two commitments I made, but I didn’t. Next time though, I’m going to think about it a lot more.

   I ended up getting to the station about 5:15. Since it’s a talk format, I don’t know what they did to fill the time, but they were in a commercial break when I got there and didn’t ask. I apologized profusely to the producer and news guy, but they weren’t angry at all. Still, I felt like a total ass.

   I didn’t have much prep time to get ready for the show, so I went on the air and tried to fill the time and be entertaining. Talk radio is not standup comedy, and it isn’t ‘regular radio’ that I have been used to for so long. It’s a different skill, and one that I still have a ways to go to be good at.

   I can ad lib a funny line with the best of them, but that’s reacting to someone else. In this genre I am in a room by myself and have to create the energy all alone. That’s not easy, and I have a lot of respect for those people who do it well. Like with any performance skill, it’s a lot harder than it looks. I made it through the show and it was actually a lot of fun, but afterward I needed to get some sleep and I could barely make it home without nodding out. I need some milk of magnesia.

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

Saturday, June 23, 2012

We Want Bootsy!

Thursday June 21st, 2012 – Chicago, IL

   After being a fan for thirty five years, I finally got to see William ‘Bootsy’ Collins perform live at the Cubby Bear in Chicago tonight – and he was sure worth the wait. WOW, what a showman! I would wait another thirty five years to watch someone who can captivate an audience like that.

   Bootsy is a bass player who used to play with James Brown before moving on to be part of the Parliament/Funkadelic heyday with George Clinton. He, George and Bernie Worrell made up the creative core trio of P-Funk and I’d always heard he was great but hadn’t been touring for years.

   He was a huge part of George’s heyday, but also had his own ‘Bootsy’s Rubber Band’ – which is still one of the coolest band names I’ve ever heard. I’ve always loved his music, but even more his flamboyant style which includes a star shaped ‘space bass’ and sunglasses shaped like stars.

   It’s a little bit pro wrestling, a little bit of funky Liberace, and a whole lot of pure showmanship rolled up into one entertaining powerhouse package. Bootsy had a pair of outstanding mentors to learn from in James Brown and George Clinton, but he molded all of it to fit his own personality.

   I was completely blown away by what a magnetic stage presence he had. From the first second he stepped on stage, he was the focal point. I’ve seen George do that countless times, and have to believe James was the same way. There’s a dynamic energy there that’s impossible to ignore. It’s what makes a star a star, and Bootsy Collins is a bright one. I can’t believe he’s not a bigger one.

   Just like George, Bootsy is not an oldies act. Yes, both of their peak years of popularity were in the ‘70s, but they’re not phoning it in. They know how to bring the funk and entertain anyone of any age, yet hoards of unwashed imbeciles pack stadiums to see non talents who don’t even play their own instruments. Shouldn’t talent prevail? I would hope so, but this planet doesn’t get that.

   Bootsy earned every nickel he made tonight. With the three costume changes alone he captured my full respect, but then he took it over the top when he went out into the crowd in the middle of a song and shook hands with everyone in sight. First, he took off his glitter robe to reveal a Bears jersey and the crowd went crazy. Was it cheap? Maybe, but so what? It was great showmanship.

   Isn’t that what entertainment is about? Another thing I loved was his star shaped bass that lit up around the edges when the lights went out. The whole show was visual, and I thought it was on a par with any live show I’ve ever seen. Those who were there knew it too, as they started chanting ‘Boot-sy! Boot-sy!’ several times throughout the show. It was a big time show in a small venue.

   What made it even better was that I got to attend the show with Pedro Bell, the artist who drew the Funkadelic album covers of the ‘70s and George Clinton covers of the ‘80s. He did the art for my ‘Hard Luck Jollies’ CD, and was the one who told me Bootsy was coming to town. Getting a chance to hang out with him was a thrill, and he’s an amazing creative talent even to this day. I’d met him in person before, but this was the first time we got to hang out for any extended period.

   I’ve been such a huge fan of his work for so long, I felt star struck when he called to inform me of the show. We met at a George Clinton show a couple of years ago, and James Wesley Jackson was with us. James lives on the far south side of Chicago where Pedro does, so they drove in the same car. I asked if James was coming tonight, and Pedro said no and asked if I might drive him.

   What am I going to say, no? I couldn’t do that. I don’t care how far of a drive I had, how many times does anyone get a chance to spend time with a legendary figure of any kind? Pedro Bell is an iconic artist of immense talent, and his unique style has become part of the P-Funk package.

   If you’ve never seen his work, look up some of his cover art and admire the intricate detail and colorful presentation of a Funkadelic ‘One Nation Under  A Groove’ or ‘Uncle Jam Wants You’, or George Clinton’s ‘Computer Games’ or ‘You Shouldn’t Nuf Bit Fish’. You’ll notice his style.

   I hired Pedro to do my next CD cover, which is already completed. I’m not even sure how long CDs will remain a factor, but I wanted the artwork so I paid for it. It’s titled ‘Comedy Skeletons In The Closet’, a tribute to George Clinton’s ‘R&B Skeletons In The Closet’ from 1986. It’s very well done, as was ‘Hard Luck Jollies’. If nothing else, I invested in myself and I don’t regret it.

   What I do feel rotten about is that such a prolific and talented artist like Pedro is not celebrated as the trendsetter he is. Funk fans have admired his work for decades, and I’m one of them. One would think a person like that would be rich beyond his wildest dreams, but life rarely works like that. Pedro has had some health issues in recent years, and like most of us works hard to survive.

   When I picked him up, he walked a bit gingerly to the car and I wondered if he was ok. He was reserved at first, but eventually opened up and enthralled me with some fascinating stories about all kinds of things from his history with the P-Funk to his art work to his physical health issues.

   I found him to be a riveting storyteller with a lot of warmth and humor. He’s still on top of his creative game, and told me of several projects he still intends to do in his life. It was inspiring to hear him speak of what he still intends to accomplish, even though his health has held him back.

   I was a big fan of his before, but tonight I think we became friends. His business manager and I had been in contact via email when I hired him to do my cover projects, and she also came out to the show this evening with another friend of hers who is a flautist. Her name is Aki Antonia, and she’s a very sharp lady who was a pleasure to deal with throughout all of our business dealings.

   All of us went out for a meal after the concert, and really had an outstanding time talking about the funk, comedy, show business and life in general. It’s always better with great people, and this was an evening I won’t soon forget. Seeing Bootsy Collins live and hanging out with Pedro Bell all in one night is about as good as it gets in my world. I don’t care if anyone else likes it - I did.

   The longer I’m alive, the less I understand the way this crackpot planet is wired. Artistic giants like Pedro Bell or Bootsy Collins aren’t revered by the masses, but some sleazy slut like Snooky or Snooty or whatever that babbling bimbo’s name is rakes in millions being a skank. It stinks.

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

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Finance Frustration

Wednesday June 20th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   A lot of people don’t want to admit it, but money really does matter. I’ll be the first one to pipe up about how important it is to chase one’s inner life passion first – and I wholeheartedly believe it is – but with no financial net underneath to protect against a fall, disaster is almost guaranteed.

   It would be wonderful if everyone had an emergency trust fund to go to in times of trouble, but that just isn’t realistic. Sure, credit cards can help rescue in a pinch but that’s a whole other topic. I’m talking about creating a source of steady income that tides a person over during tough times.

   The sad fact is I am a complete walking financial disaster. Who wants to admit that? I couldn’t be more embarrassed about it, but that won’t change the fact that I blew it as far as setting myself up for whatever a ‘normal’ life may be. I had all kinds of opportunities, but I mangled them all.

   Money management is a skill, and one that isn’t taught early enough if at all. We need to get it drilled into our psyches early so it can take root and become habit over decades. We are forced to sit through stupid algebra classes that few if any ever use after high school, but balancing a check book or saving for retirement never get talked about – at school or at home. This is pure insanity.

   Maybe some people get it at home, but I never did. Home? What’s that? I’ve been living on my own since my senior year in high school. Scraping a living together has been a constant source of pain, agony and stress but experience should have taught me a lot more by now. I’m still an idiot.

   I’ve been able to squeak by all these years doing what I really enjoy, but with a little bit of help and guidance I could be light years ahead of where I am now – broke and in a panic. I could have had a hefty retirement fund socked away by now, despite all the rotten breaks that came my way.

   That’s not an excuse. Everyone has bad breaks to some degree – especially in my business. I’m taking full blame, as painful as that is. I’m ashamed of how I handled my finances, and I have the overwhelming task of trying to not only undo that mess and start over, but still create a nest egg.

   Had I started in my teenage years, I would think I should be doing quite well by now. Even at a minimum wage income, saving 10% off the top of everything would have really added up after a lifetime, and my whole world would have been revolutionized. Instead, I farted around and spent what I made when I had it, thinking I’d get some big windfall payoff to make up for everything.

   Well, I’m still waiting for that windfall. It may come, but it may not. I could sell a movie script or a book idea, or the King of Uranus could possibly generate some income in a short time. BUT, if it does happen it won’t be by accident. I need to prepare myself and have a solid plan in place.

   Thinking like an entrepreneur is one thing, but executing the actual ideas is another. I’m a very abstract and creative thinker by nature, and nuts and bolts details like financial statements and all that kind of stuff is not my natural field of expertise. It will take extra effort to become proficient in these areas, but what choice do I have? I have to do something, or I’ll be living under a bridge.

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

Gonad Gratitude

Tuesday June 19th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   I feel FANTASTIC! Considering what I was doing exactly one year ago today, it wouldn’t take much to put me in a good mood by comparison. Last year at this time I was beginning a nine day hospital nightmare after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes that rocked my world to the core.

   I don’t even want to think about how excruciating it was, but who could ever forget? Surgery is no picnic as a rule, but surgery on one’s genitals is a fate worse than death. It’s embarrassing and scary, and I’d previously joked about wishing a similar fate on anyone who had done me wrong.

   After surviving this torture personally, I can no longer find it in my heart to wish it on anybody else - even in jest. Looking back, it seems like it happened to someone else in a different lifetime altogether. But I know it was me, and in hindsight I see how extremely fortunate I actually was.

   Apparently, I’d come dangerously close to losing my plumbing. I had gangrene on my testicles and it frightens me to even type those words. It was a lot more frightening to have to wait for the doctor to tell me how bad it actually was. There was a time when I thought I’d be able to become the oldest member of the Vienna Boys Choir and hit all of the high notes. I’m delighted I did not.

   What a helpless feeling it was to stare at the ceiling from a hospital bed wondering if I’d get to keep my family jewels I’d grown so fond of over the years. I assumed we were lifetime partners, but that partnership was in serious question. It’s hilarious now, but I wasn’t laughing a year ago.

   I’ve had some remarkable events take place in my life to say the least, and this is right up there with any of them. I’ve dabbled in talking about it on stage a few times, but I really think I should develop it into a signature bit. Not only is it unique, it can be used to both entertain and educate.

   My entire life has changed with my diabetes diagnosis. I have changed my diet drastically and have exercised more in this last year than I had in the previous twenty combined. I have seen the results I wanted, and continue to constantly learn and improve. I’ve made it a habit to be healthy.

   Fear is a tremendous motivator, as that’s what drives me to keep going. I can’t imagine having to go back to the hospital and go through anything like that ever again. Maybe I needed to have a life changing experience like that to get me to take health seriously, but I did. I’m in this for life.

   If I am able to help others get through their own difficult times, I’m all for it. That’s why I feel I’m even on this planet in the first place. If my painful experience can bring a few laughs to those who need it at a difficult time, then it was all worthwhile. I just hope I don’t go through it again.

   I’m still nowhere near out of the water with any of this yet. I have to fight every day to stay on a healthy track. I no longer crave the junk foods and sodas that helped contribute to the diabetes, but exercise is a constant effort and the whole hospital experience devastated my life financially. All I can do is my best, and I’m really trying. I feel overwhelmed and humbled, but I am alive to keep slugging and I’m grateful for the chance. And I’m extra thankful to have kept my genitals.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Monday June 18th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   One thing life isn’t these days is simple. I don’t think it’s ever been easy, but it used to be a lot easier to figure out. Get a job, pound out a middle class living, retire. Have a couple of marriages along the way, hope your sports teams win the big one and try to make the best of life. Then die.

   It’s not like that anymore. The world is changing so fast I don’t know who can keep up with it. It’s especially tough for pig headed crusty old farts – like me. I used to laugh at my grandparents for their lack of staying with the times, but I’m much worse by comparison. They were fine with a black and white TV, an AM radio and a black rotary telephone. Technology was not an issue.

   Oh, how I wish that were the case now. There are some definite conveniences that come along with everything that’s changed in the past twenty or thirty years, but there are also things that are totally baffling. Twitter is a perfect example. Everyone but me seems to be enjoying it, but why?

   I have an account, just because some people told me I needed one. But I still haven’t sent out a single tweet. I don’t see a need to. Facebook is pretty stupid too in my opinion, even though that I’m on. I don’t really care who just had a tuna melt for lunch or how many puppies their dog had. I try to make my own posts interesting, but I know most on my friends list don’t ever read them.

   Professionally is where I’m really getting buried. I think the internet is the worst thing that has happened to the comedy business since the heckler. It allows every halfwit psycho who has ever had delusions of grandeur to inflict their unvarnished insane ramblings on the public without any filters. Wait a minute, that’s exactly what I’m doing now. And that’s my point. Rules don’t exist.

   Random idiots like me can have a forum just by deciding to create one. I still can’t believe that anyone reads my claptrap, but apparently someone does. I’ve pissed enough people off with what I wrote that I should probably stop, but I don’t because I think doing it is a worthwhile discipline.

   When I started in comedy, it was a very small community. Every town had a subculture of their local comedians, and most of them knew each other or at least had heard their name. Now, it’s an out of control mish mash of madness with too many clueless kooks having access to a computer.

   Anyone and their imaginary friend’s dog can have a website, You Tube channel and newsletter going in about ten minutes – even though they’ve never had even ONE paid gig. That totally puts people like me who have paid dues for decades in the trick bag, as it waters down whatever I did to earn my rung on the comedy ladder. Anyone who buys comedy has to sift through the chaff.

   It used to be, comics would do their best to hide their early attempts because they realized they weren’t ready. It’s a process, like learning any craft. Now, thousands of piss ant newbies fight to get their latest five minute train wreck on You Tube thinking they’ll get a million hits. It’s nuts.

   It would be like someone saving their soiled diapers and displaying them, but nobody can stop it because anything goes. I’m now the dinosaur fighting progress just like my grandparents did.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

To The Hupmobile

Sunday June 17th, 2012 – Kenosha, WI

   I took a nice relaxing day off today to hang out with friends and enjoy life. Other than trying to help as many people as possible, that’s about all that’s even close to being important. If life is not fun, why live at all? That’s a waste of breath in my opinion. Find what fun is, and do that - a lot.

   Sources of fun are different for everyone, and I find mine changing as I get older. Today was a prime example. I went to a car show in Kenosha, WI with my friend Mark Gumbinger. He loves old cars just like I do, and found out that our mutual friend Lou Rugani from WLIP had a car on display at the show. It’s a 1938 Hupmobile, which I’ve heard about a lot but never got to see it.

   Today was my lucky day. The weather was as good as it gets, and Mark and I drove over to the Moose Lodge on the north side of town to check out the row of tin. There were some outstanding specimens of all kinds of car genres from the muscle variety to AMC to early models like Lou’s.

   I loved trolling the aisle and just soaking up the beauty of all those pieces of mobile art. I used to want to own a fleet of show cars like Jay Leno or Jerry Seinfeld, but now that couldn’t interest me any less. I was fine with just the looking, and telling the owners how much I liked their baby.

   If there’s one surefire way to make new friends, that’s it. Go to a car show and tell an owner of one of the cars on display how much you admire it, and you won’t be able to shut them up. Ask a well placed thought out question and you just may receive a dinner invite for next Thanksgiving.

   I happen to be interested in old cars, so I don’t have to fake it. I can usually find some kind of angle to bond with owners whether it be engine size or paint color. I talked to dozens of owners today, and I made it a point to try and make each one beam with pride of ownership. It worked.

   After the show, Lou took a bunch of us for a ride in his Hupmobile, and that was fun to watch everyone else watch him as he toured through downtown Kenosha. I thought I’d seen just about all I could see of the town, but he took us places I’d never been to and everyone had a great time.

   Again, I didn’t have to be the center of attention or own any of the cars. Seeing Lou get a kick out of people enjoying his pride and joy was enough for me. We stopped and had a meal at some outdoor cafĂ© I’d never been to before and it couldn’t have been a more enjoyable day for us all.

   After that, I drove to WLIP myself and hosted The Mothership Connection program from 8pm to midnight. We had some interesting guests, and the four hours flew by as they tend to do when things are going well. We did receive several phone calls, so at least a few people were listening.

   I have to say, if there are more enjoyable ways to spend a gorgeous day in June I have to think pretty hard as to what it could be. I really had fun, even though I didn’t make a plugged nickel to do any of it. It didn’t cost me anything either, and there was zero pressure. The vibe was just like I like it, and it was a perfect way to forget about Father’s Day and all the ugly memories I don’t want to have to revisit. Life is a blast when the days are like this, and I hope there are a lot more.

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A Helpless Feeling

Saturday June 16th, 2012 – Grafton, WI

   No matter how low or out of touch I have ever felt in my life, it has never been low to the point that I can’t volunteer my time and energy to help someone else if at all possible. It’s just the right thing to do, and I try my best to give what I can for the right reasons. Nothing else matters much.

   I don’t know why it’s so important to me to be of service, but it totally is. I want to be one who is known for being generous, but I can’t help thinking that’s a selfish motive. Why do I want that reputation? I don’t know. Does it make me feel better about my shortcomings? Maybe, but that’s not what motivates me to do it. I just like the vibe I get when someone receives help or pleasure.

   It doesn’t even have to be anything major. Sometimes just a smile or a tiny nod of appreciation for opening a door or a sincere wave of thanks when I let someone merge in traffic can make me feel like a million bucks. I know I made a difference, minuscule as it may be. I really enjoy that.

   I think that’s why I love teaching comedy classes so much. Seeing someone who wants to be a comedian more than anything get their chance to make that happen is a rush. I can feel wonderful energy coming out of the receiver, and it makes me want to do it more. It’s the purest high ever.

   In a way, performing is like that. When an audience is having a good time and laughing, that is THE best feeling I’ve ever experienced. Then, when people line up to tell me how much fun they had or how hard they laughed it feels even better. In a way that’s being of service, and that’s who I am and what I want to be about. It means a whole lot more than being rich for my own benefit.

   That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be rich though. I definitely do. I want to have enough money for the basics of life, but the rest I’ll more than likely give away. It may sound corny or sappy but I couldn’t be any more sincere. That’s why it’s so frustrating to be in the position I’m in now. All I want is to use my creative ability to make others happy. Money shouldn’t be an issue - but it is.

   This morning I drove to Grafton, WI to volunteer my time to support an event called ‘Tour De Cure’ for the American Diabetes Association. It’s an annual bike ride that raises both money and awareness for the disease, and it was my pleasure to show up and offer my help. I just wish I had more to give. I met some very nice people, but I really didn’t have that much to do. I felt useless.

   They were nice enough to have me speak briefly at the starting line before various groups went off on their individual rides. There were several different levels of riders, some more experienced than others. I was supposed to thank them for riding to benefit those like me who were diagnosed with the disease, and I did, but nobody there knew who I was and I felt like a complete imbecile.

   This is where the power of celebrity would really help. I would want to use it to give the riders a boost, maybe make them even more excited they showed up for the cause. Instead, all I did was stand there for a couple of minutes having a bunch of people stare at me wondering who I was or why I was there. I wish I could have had some clout, as it would have been a lot more fun for all of us. I did my best, and if they ask me to show up again I’ll do it. I just wish I could help more.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

A Ten Week Tease

Friday June 15th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   A bit of disappointing but not unexpected news came today as the internet outlet on which our podcast ‘The Unshow’ ran weekdays for the last ten weeks has completely ceased operations as of yesterday. I received the mass email from the program director thanking us all for our efforts.

   It’s not the end of the world, but it does bum me out a little. I thought we were on to something fun and different, and I was hoping to build a fan base. My partner Jeff Schneider and I have fun doing the show, and we’ve gotten some very solid reviews from quite a few people, mostly in the comedy world. It’s great to know one’s peers enjoy what one does, but I wonder who else did?

   I know not everyone liked it, but that’s the risk that’s always taken with anyone who tries to do anything different. We were like jazz musicians riffing together, and we had no idea where we’d end up on any particular show. Some were better than others, but there was usually at least some worthwhile listening in every half hour episode. We thought so anyway, and we enjoyed doing it.

   Those that I got the most negative feedback from were those who are in more traditional circles and I don’t discount their input. Yes, admittedly sometimes we swore a little and crossed the line on some topics a traditional audience wouldn’t enjoy. But that’s also why a lot of people dug it.

   One person I talked to told me it’s not smart to do a show like that if I want to get bookings in a corporate environment. I never really thought about it, but I think he’s right. All I’d need is one person to hear something I said as a joke on a podcast and it could lose a highly paying booking.

   Personally, I don’t think it should make any difference to anybody what I do with my free time, but I know that’s not going to be the way things work. It’s like a political campaign when mud is being slung and every single parking ticket a candidate ever got is brought back into the picture.

   I just want to entertain audiences. Is that too much to ask? I like being a comedian and I like to do radio shows and podcasts. I don’t want to hurt anyone or go off on any tangents that have any agendas other than entertaining an audience. That’s it. I don’t think doing it should be this hard.

   I’m in a slump right now, and I’m more than a bit concerned. These are difficult times for all of us, but in entertainment it’s especially rough. We’re a disposable income product, and there’s not much of that to go around these days. And the internet isn’t helping, with so much on it for free.

   Times like this make me think of Kenny Rogers. I got to meet him when I worked in Salt Lake City, and he was a down to earth nice guy. He said he had been up and down so much throughout his career that he never let himself get too high or too low. No matter which position he was in, it didn’t matter because he always knew the other was just around the corner. I never forgot that.

   I’ve been down before, but I can’t remember too many droughts like this. I was usually able to find a way to bring some cabbage in from somewhere, but it’s really getting snug out there these days. Entertainment is what I really enjoy, but will I have to mop floors to pay bills? I hope not.

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Contacts And Persistence

Thursday June 14th, 2012 – Milwaukee, WI

   If there’s an actual ‘secret’ to success in the entertainment business or life in general, I think it can be boiled down to just two words - contacts and persistence. And, it’s not only who a person knows but how interactive synergy can be developed to benefit both parties over the long haul.

   Sometimes contacts drift in and out of one’s immediate radar over the years, but all it takes for the connection to be restarted as strongly as ever is a simple reach out phone call or email. That’s exactly what I need to do right now, and fortunately I have a vast number of good people in tow.

   If nothing else, I’ve been around the block a few times and have crossed paths with some really outstanding individuals in a number of fields. Those are the people I’m looking to reconnect with now as I’m reinventing myself to compare notes and see where they are in their own life journey.

   Maybe we weren’t an exact fit to work closely together in the past for whatever reason, but our circumstances have significantly changed so now may be the ideal time for us to team up. It’s not only smart to go back and rattle the cages of these people, its good business. We could both be in a position to do a lot of good for the other, even if it means pointing that person to someone else.

   An example of someone I reconnected with recently is Lenny Sisselman in Nashville. Lenny is the former manager of the Zanies there, but moved on to other things and is now doing quite well handling the careers of several acts like Jeff Allen and James Gregory. Jeff is now a top Christian comedian and James is an institution in the Southeast. Keith Alberstadt is also on his client list.

   I’ve always had a good relationship with Lenny, and like him personally. One thing that he’s as good at as anyone I know is being logical and objective when it comes to the entertainment game as a whole. He doesn’t take anything personally, and offers his opinions strictly from a viewpoint of what he thinks are workable ideas or not. I tend to think with my emotions, as most comics do.

   In the radio game, Kipper McGee has always been a big time supporter of mine. He has been a program director at several top stations in big markets like San Diego, Orlando and most recently WLS in Chicago. It was Kipper who nurtured us as ‘Jerry’s Kidders’, and we clicked as a team.

   As the meat grinder all too often works, Kipper was unceremoniously bounced from WLS even though the ratings were solid and things were going well. He now makes his home in Milwaukee where he is working on his own reinvention process. This was the perfect time to compare notes.

   I drove up to Milwaukee to meet Kipper at Ted’s Diner on 62nd and North Avenue. If you’re in the area, that’s a great little joint that’s been there forever. Prices are low and quality is high, and we spent a couple of hours catching up and going over possibilities of what our options may be.

   Eventually, a Lenny or a Kipper or someone else or a combination of people will fall into place at the right time and that’s what it takes. It’s a constant process, and winners hang in there and go through it knowing that’s what it takes. Is it easy? No, but what is? I’ve come too far to quit now.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Whores And Gangsters?

Wednesday June 13th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   Oh, how I wish life were like an Etch-A-Sketch and I could just turn it upside down whenever I got sick of what I was doing and start over with a clean slate after a few shakes. Wouldn’t that be swell, by golly? Jeepers criminy, it sure would be. You’re darn tootin’. It would be just dandy.

   Unfortunately, life on this here cosmic plane doesn’t happen to fly like that. I think I must have missed my connecting flight somewhere and am stuck here without a travel agent. This place has some strange rules, and I’m going crazy trying to figure them out. It feels like I’m being Punk’d.

   Today was a perfect example. I was taking my morning walk and stopped to use the bathroom in a Laundromat not far from where I live. There was a pile of magazines lying around and as a lark I paged through all of them to see if I could find one that did NOT picture any Kardashians. 

   EVERY last one of them did. Was I surprised? I guess I shouldn’t be, but I kind of was. I have been trying to do dangerously close to anything within the bounds of what’s legal to get at least a tiny bit of media coverage and the best I’ve ever been able to do is five minutes on late night TV.

   And I was happy to get that. Then I came out of the bathroom and heard two people discussing the death of Henry Hill, the gangster who was played by Ray Liotta in ‘Goodfellas’. This wasn’t any kind of hero to emulate, but because people knew who he was he enjoyed a celebrity’s life.

   He was apparently a regular guest caller on The Howard Stern show, and I’d heard him several times being interviewed on other shows as well. Again, where’s the justice? Here’s an individual who freely admits he participated in innumerable felonies, but yet when he dies it’s in the news.

   Unless I do something noteworthy but quick, I won’t even get a mention in the back of the free shopper paper’s back page with the lost dog ads and 900 bi curious sex numbers. I’m trying to be honest and by the book, but nobody gives a rip. Whores and gangsters? THAT gets ink. Really?

   Strumpets and Mafiosos? Sluts and criminals? Hosebags and henchmen? Is that what it takes to win the admiration and attention of the American public? Those all sound like a title of a Warren Zevon album. Again, he’s dead from a long ugly battle with cancer, and Charles Manson is alive.

   Where IS that mothership? I’m about ready for a ride back to my home planet, wherever it may be. I really don’t think it’s here, or I’d have to believe I’d feel more at home in the midst of all of this constant insanity. I don’t. I just grit my teeth and try to plow through another day of lunacy.

   I did take my walk today and it felt great. The weather was beautiful, and that was nice as well. I ate healthy foods, and drank a lot of water. The basic needs of life were there, so I felt lucky to have those not to mention grateful. I’m trying not to only focus on what’s wrong, but it’s tough.

   I wrote some articles today I’d been meaning to get to, in addition to making a few contacts for possible future bookings. I cleaned my living area and sorted laundry to be done soon. That’s not a lot, but I did make small steps. Oh, and someone paid me back $100 they’d owed me. Victory!  

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mouth Management

Tuesday June 12th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   Sometimes, too much freedom can be a bad thing. It has been with me unfortunately. I’ve been calling the shots in virtually every aspect of my life to the point of being pigheaded about it, and looking at the results I don’t have very much to show for it. I think it’s time to ask for some help.

   Being a self starter is one thing, but self sabotage is another. Sometimes I tend to confuse those two terms and it has done way more harm than good. There’s a time to stand up for one’s dignity and self esteem, and another to shut one’s mouth and take it. I’ve made poor choices there also.

   Sure, I’ve been right there to run my mouth and have my way – but then I’m standing in smoke from another burned bridge and after a while a pattern develops. I get so used to letting it rip that it gets easier and easier to do. It may feel good at the moment, but in the long run it’s not smart.

   With age comes wisdom, and I’m seeing things a lot clearer now. All those mistakes I’ve made have sure taught me a lot, but they’ve also indirectly taken away a lot of opportunities. I’m never going to be one of those repulsive little ass kissers who always seem to get ahead in life, but I do need to tone down my cowboy attitude a few notches. The world just isn’t ready to deal with it.

   If I were in the Mafia, I’d have probably been wacked by now. I just never believed in backing down from anyone, especially a bully. I’ve gotten myself into all kinds of trouble with my mouth way too many times, but I felt the truth needed to be said. Or typed. Maybe it did, but not by me.

   The world and all the crazy people in it are not going to change simply by me pointing a finger at them and calling out their shortcomings. I have more than enough shortcomings of my own to work on, so for the time being I’m going to focus on those for a while. That’s the smart choice.

   That being said, where do I start? Every aspect of my entire life seems to be in an unorganized flaming pile right now, and it took a long time to get that way. What do I do to straighten it out? Which pile do I start working on first? Where do I go for help? I don’t have any solid answers.

   It’s extremely difficult for dented cans to trust anyone, and I know it is for me. I’ve been taken to the emotional cleaners way too many times by those who were supposed to be closest to me so giving anyone else a shot is tough. I can’t help but flinch, and it’s so hard not to expect the worst from people. I know that’s not the right way to think, but I do. That’s why I’ve been such a loner.

   Well, that brings it all right back to square one. How am I going to move forward if I won’t let others help me get out of the rut I’ve gotten myself into? It’s a cruel joke, but that’s the situation I’m in and I have to do something about it or I’ll die like this. This is not what I want life to be.

   I want to get out there and make things happen. Good things. Creative things. Things people in generations to come will be studying for inspiration. I want to make this wacky planet better than it was when I got here, but I can’t do that in the position I’m in now.  I have to look at my whole life in detail, and honestly assess where I am in all areas. Then I have to come up with a strategy.

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New Doors Open

Sunday June 10th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   I have to say, this weekend has really opened up all kinds of new doors in my already cluttered brain box. I’m glad I was able to be a part of ‘Internet Prophets Live!’ both as a performer and as an observer. If nothing else, it showed me I don’t have to be stuck in the comedy club rut for life.

   I really do love to perform live, and I think I’m pretty good at it – especially when the audience isn’t drunk to the point of zombiedom. Working in clubs can be hand to hand combat, and I don’t have the patience for it anymore. Is it too much to ask to have a crowd who wants to see a show?

   The people who showed up this weekend were there because they wanted to be there. It wasn’t a room full of freebies that won tickets for them and 200 of their closest friends by dropping their business cards in a fish bowl. They paid a significant chunk of change for a weekend of learning.

   There was some entertainment thrown in there too, and that’s another thing I enjoyed watching from a distance. Most of the scheduled speakers incorporated technologies comedians don’t tend to use like power point presentations and flashy video intros. It was more WWE than anything.

   The performing conditions were ideal. There was a big beautiful stage with plenty of room for speakers to roam and giant video screens on each side of it like a rock concert that made it larger than life. The sound and light systems were killer, and all of that together is a recipe for success.

   How many frustrating nights in my life have I spent standing on a rickety beer crate in front of a single flickering bug light straining my voice hollering into a tinny sounding ‘Mr. Microphone’ with one Radio Shack speaker the size of a quarter trying to entertain drunks? WAY too many.

   Being part of this weekend was like getting called up to the big leagues. I know how to deliver when I’m on a stage, and I know I could do more of these kinds of events if asked. I’m not dumb enough to expect to be asked though; I’ll have to seek them out myself. But I know I can do this.

   I’ve got as much stage chops as anyone I saw this weekend, and that’s no insult to any of those that I saw. They were competent, but I am too. I’ve been teaching for years in addition to being a comedian, and I have content I could use to educate a corporate type audience in the humor field.

   I really think this needs to be a direction I go, and quickly. Dale Irvin is an example of a comic who has successfully transitioned into this area and has made a LOT more money. Greg Schwem is another, as is Tim Clue. Those guys all worked comedy clubs, but have evolved to other areas.

   One thing I definitely need to do yesterday is get a book out. Every one of the people I watched this weekend had some kind of a book, package of books or audio/video instruction course ready to be sold in the back of the room at a huge discount ‘if you buy today’. It was a big sales pitch.

   You can bet your library card I’m going to have at least one book available toot sweet, and that probably won’t be the last. I know I can pack some good content into it too, not just some quotes rehashed from Zig Ziglar. I saw how the big guns do it, and I learned a lot. I’m not over matched.

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Larry Winget Live

Saturday June 10th, 2012 – Schaumburg, IL

   Day two of ‘Internet Prophets Live!’ at the Marriott Renaissance in Schaumburg, IL. I was able to spend most of the day participating in some of the outstanding programs put on by the speaker lineup, which was nothing less than stellar. These people are the best of the best in their fields.

   I always love to participate in conferences like this, as there’s a synergy that develops with the people who attend. There’s a definite energy that solidifies when like minded people collect in a specific place for a weekend, and it’s always positive. Connections are made that last for years.

   This reminds me of the Comedy Conference I organized at Zanies in Chicago years ago. It was a similar format, with speakers and teachers from the worlds of standup and improv comedy that had a similar vibe. I still am in contact today with people I met at that event. It was well worth it.

   One of those people is business speaker Todd Hunt. Todd came to the conference to add humor to his presentation, and we have stayed in contact and been able to help each other. Todd markets himself extremely well, and I continue to learn from him on that level as I need help. His mentor in the speaker world is Larry Winget, who happened to be the keynote speaker for this evening.

   Larry is the recognized king of that genre these days, much like Jay Leno was in standup when I started. In the ‘80s, Leno was the undisputed king and Jerry Seinfeld was the prince. Everybody else was after them. In speaking, it’s Larry Winget and then there’s everyone else. He’s the guy.

   I’ve wanted to watch him work for years now, only because I like to study well done examples of any performance genre. I remember watching both Leno and Seinfeld as I was climbing up the comedy ladder, and enjoying them very much. I knew how much work it took to get that good.

   I had the same feeling watching Larry Winget, only this time I could relate to a lot more due to the fact I’ve got a lot more of my own stage experience to draw from. He was a total pro, and the audience appreciated his skill level as well. This wasn’t a corporate gig, they knew who he was.

   I have a ton of respect for how Larry has built his business. Just like a successful comedian, he has developed a very identifiable stage persona, and is consistent with it the entire time. Not only that, he’s a master marketer and offers a bag of his merchandise after his presentation for $100.

   There are DVDs and books in the bag, and his picture is on it like Colonel Sanders puts his on a bucket of chicken. He’s a sellable package, and I enjoyed watching it in action first hand. He’s a tremendous entertainer, as is Todd Hunt. Todd learned from Larry, and they both do it right.

   Steve Olsher has really put together a solid event. The people who were smart enough to attend got to see Jay Conrad Levinson and Larry Winget in the same weekend for a bargain price which also included an all star lineup of other speakers. I hope he makes money so he can do this again.

   Nothing done well is ever easy. Comedy or speaking or organizing live events is difficult and it always will be. Seeing a weekend like this come together so well is satisfying. It gives me hope.

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Internet Prophets Live!

Friday June 9th, 2012 – Schaumburg, IL

   I have a fantastic opportunity this weekend to be part of a major first time event in the Chicago area called ‘Internet Prophets Live!’ which features 29 speakers sharing ideas on how to succeed in the internet generation. It’s being held at the Marriott Renaissance complex in Schaumburg.

   My friend Steve Olsher is the one putting this together, and he did an outstanding job of getting the best of the best in their fields together for a weekend of networking, learning and fun. He was very kind to include me in the mix, but also very smart. He asked me to do 20 minutes at the end of a full day of speakers as a palate cleanser right before dinner, and it worked out tremendously.

   Steve is one sharp guy to say the least. We crossed paths a few years ago as he was doing a one man seminar called ‘The Reinvention Workshop’ in Chicago near Zanies. I don’t even remember exactly when it was or how I decided to be a part of it, but I’m sure glad I did. This guy nails it.

   I’ve watched him develop in just a few short years into a real force in the speaking game. First, he wrote a very well done self help book called ‘Journey To You’, which I enjoyed. He followed it up with a brand new one called ‘Internet Prophets’, which he is smartly calling this conference.

   I have nothing but respect for Steve, because he’s a DOER. A lot of people talk a good or even not so good game – myself included – but he gets out there and DOES it. Writing one book is not easy, but Steve has two. For now. Knowing him, he’s just getting started. I’m sure learning a lot.

   It really is all about action. Well, maybe I better rephrase that. It’s about action that includes an actual plan to go with it. I do have action going for me, but way too often it’s rather scattered and not in any logical working order. Steve has been able to focus and put together some great work.

   This event is a real winner, and he has a top quality staff of people around him. Amanda Black is the point person this weekend, and she has worked with Brian Tracy who is a giant in the field of self help and development. She’s really on the ball herself, and it has been fun to work with all the people Steve lined up. I showed up early to volunteer my time in case they needed any help.

   I know how difficult it is to put on any event, and if I can offer my services in any way I’m not too proud to work a little. It’s nice to have a spare set of hands on deck to run an errand or handle a situation that needs dealing with, so that’s fine. Plus, I got to see some really amazing speakers.

   The keynote speaker after dinner tonight was the legendary Jay Conrad Levinson. He’s famous for the Guerilla Marketing empire of books, of which I am a huge fan. He cuts to the chase and is not only a world class writer; he’s a dynamic speaker as well. He captivated the entire audience.

   I was in awe of his charisma and ability to mesmerize the crowd for a solid hour. He was to the point, relaxed and in charge – even though he rarely got out of his chair. He’s been ill of late and in fact his doctors gave him six months to live a year and a half ago. He’s still around, and on the very top of his game - truly remarkable. The conference website is

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