Up For The Down Stroke


Saturday June 20th, 2009 – Chicago, IL

I don’t know why, but for some reason I was kind of bummed out today. The weather is spectacular and this is the prime time of year. Normally that alone cheers me up but today I was feeling a funk coming on and not the kind I like. In fact what made me feel worse is that George Clinton was playing in town tonight and I didn’t find out until it was too late.

Usually I’m up on when the band is playing anywhere close and if I’m off I’ll always go see them but it slipped past me this time. I was sorry it did because whenever I catch them it always energizes me in a positive way. They’re playing up in Milwaukee in July and I’ll hopefully catch that one and maybe even have my new CD ready to share with the band.

It was an email from Pedro Bell’s assistant that told me they were in town tonight. I had no idea and by the time I found out I couldn’t have gotten back into the city and fought all the Saturday traffic and construction again especially since I just was in the city earlier for Jerry’s Kidders on WGN. Had I known then I’d have stayed around and seen the show.

I don’t know why I felt so low today but I did. We had a fun session of the Kidders but I just kept thinking of how little to no impact we’re having on anything. Yes, maybe we get a few laughs once in a while or maybe people think we totally suck canal water but I can’t feel any kind of positive feedback other than we as a group have fun. But it’s not enough.

Then I got to thinking of how the TBS Just For Laughs Comedy Festival is in Chicago at Zanies and none of us have any part of it. They’re taping comics at Zanies to go on TV on WTBS and it really hurts that I’m not part of it. I didn’t bring it up with the other guys because they seemed to be in a good mood and I didn’t want to bring anyone else down.

This whole business is a big game and I’ve been a piss poor player for far too long. I’m really trying to get better but it seems like it might be too late. Lewis Black said he felt as if he was never going to make it big and resigned himself to the fact he’d manage a little theatre somewhere and then he got his shot on Comedy Central and things turned around.

I’m beginning to think I’ve past the point of having my shot. I don’t show up on any of the important people’s radar after a lifetime of trying. A lot of those people in the festival have been doing it a lot less time than me and quite frankly aren’t as strong a comic as me but they’re taping for TV and I’m sitting around bitching I’m not working on a Saturday.

The Kidders are fun but I don’t think it’s going anywhere. Not now anyway. We all take pride in what we’ve done and give it our best every week but I really don’t think anybody in charge cares one bit. The Mothership Connection is fun too but that’s also not putting a dime in my pocket. Should I chuck it all and try something else? I want some stability.

But I also want the creative buzz too. Can I have both? Is that possible? I think so but it sure would make it easier if I had a steady income right about now. I’ve always been able to squeeze out a living but right now it’s the tightest squeeze I’ve had in quite a stretch.

I couldn’t stand the thought of hanging out at home tonight with nothing to do. Usually I can get lost in a book or a project but tonight I wanted to be anywhere but here. There’s a glut of pools in the neighborhood and everyone seemed to be having a party tonight and I just wasn’t in that kind of mood. I don’t really know the neighbors and it felt awkward.

I tried calling every woman I like who is breathing and/or within a 900 mile radius and on short notice I couldn’t rustle up a date to save my pasty white buttocks. I was thinking of buying a gun and some bullets and taking target practice in my left ear but that isn’t the answer either. Well, it’s AN answer but not THE answer. I kept thinking of what to do.

Jerry and Tim Slagle were talking about how fantastic they thought the new movie ‘Up’ was. I am so out of the loop with current pop culture that I’d heard of it but that was about all. I knew it was about some cranky old guy who wouldn’t move out of his old house and eventually floated away with some balloons. Big deal. Not something I thought I’d enjoy.

Those kind of movies aren’t directed at me and I honestly don’t care if they ever found Nemo or not. I still haven’t seen that one yet but I hear it’s pretty good. I’ve got a backlog of other movies to see first before I ever get to that one and I won’t be crushed if I don’t.

There’s a movie theatre very close to where I live and I drove over and bought a ticket for Up just to escape my pissy mood. Sitting home would have let it grow roots. I wanted something to make me forget it and boy did I get it. What a movie. I totally got lost in it.

It caught me at the right time on the right day but I’d say this was one of my favorites of all time. It grabbed me right away and touched me all over and not many movies have had that affect. The Princess Bride and The Shawshank Redemption come to mind along with A Christmas Story and The Grinch movies. Maybe Forrest Gump. That‘s pretty much it.

This one had feelings and emotion and really communicated it well. The animation was spectacular and it all just fit together perfectly. The old man character reminded me of my own grandpa and I didn’t know until afterward that it was Ed Asner who was the voice.

Another twist that caught my attention was the little boy’s name was Russell. That was my father’s name and maybe because it’s Father’s Day weekend that had something to do with why I was feeling a little off today. Every other commercial I’ve heard lately pounds it into my head even more. “Menard’s is having a FATHER’S DAY sale!!!” Ok. Enough.

I was in a foul and ugly and hurting mood today but I was able to escape for a while and that‘s what good entertainment does. It had that rare magic a classic has and I totally think this movie will attain classic status. I’ll see it again and hopefully bring some kids along.

I’d sure love to be able to leave that kind of a legacy to the world. Millions will enjoy it who aren’t even born yet just like Laurel and Hardy made me laugh and still do long after they’re dead. THAT is a true gift that keeps on giving and I strive to leave something that future generations can enjoy. So far I’m still struggling to pay bills. I’ve got a ways to go.

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