Archive for March, 2010

A Favor From A Friend

March 30, 2010

Monday March 29th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

One of the main dents in my can is issues with trust. I don’t deny it, and as much as I try to work through it I know it’s there. I’ve been scorched so many times by so many people in life from my parents on down, it’s difficult to accept it when someone does me a favor.

I do all kinds of favors for all kinds of people and I’m proud of that. If I see someone in need I usually try to do whatever is in my power to make their situation better. I even pick up hitch hikers, within reason of course. If they look like Charles Manson’s mean brother I’ll pass them by but more often than not I’ll pick them up and try to throw them a bone.

Most times I’ll tell them right when they get in my car that I’m trying to help them and I wouldn’t appreciate being stabbed or shot so if they’re going to do it I tell them to do it as quickly as possible to get it over with. So far, nobody has. If it ever does happen, at least I know I took the time to think of others before myself and that‘s what life should be about.

Once in a while someone is very grateful, and those are the ones it’s a pleasure to help. I wish it happened more often than it does, but that’s life. I don’t help others to give myself an ego boost. If it comes, that’s great, but the real reason to do it is it’s just the right thing to do. It doesn’t matter who it is. I’ll hold a door open for anyone, not just the sexy babe.

That being said, my friend Shelley really helped me today by cleaning up the viruses on my computer, and I couldn’t be any more grateful to her for it. She’s off from her job for a few days and the last thing she needed to do was help me out, but she totally did. I took my infected piece of plastic over to her like a sick baby and she went to work and fixed it.

Her husband Bob knows a lot about computers too so together they went back and forth on how to find what was wrong, but whatever they did worked. It took a few hours to find out what it was, but I didn’t have a choice. I had things to do, but this was most important so I had to wait it out. I was just thrilled that they were willing to help me so I kept quiet.

I originally took it in for an estimate at the store where I bought it and they quoted me a price of between $400-$500, depending on how quickly I needed it. They said it probably was a three day job but if I needed it in a day it was $100 more. I wasn’t prepared to have to pay that, and I’m even more grateful I didn’t have to. Shelley did it for the right reason.

She’s a helper just like I am, and she’s gotten burned too. I told her how thankful I was to her and Bob and I meant it, and she blew it off just like I usually do. “It’s no big thing” she said. But it was. It was a HUGE thing, and now I’m back up on the internet highway. Whatever my quirks are with trust, Shelley came through. I feel like I owe her in return.

While we were waiting for the virus scans, Shelley also helped me get myself a page on Facebook for both Schlitz Happened and The King of Uranus. I’ve been meaning to get it done for months now, but today was the day. I will now start building networks of people who like each project, and be able to market to them better. Thanks Shelley! I owe you.

Life Is A Glitch

March 30, 2010

Sunday March 28th, 2010 – Novi, MI/Chicago, IL/Kenosha, WI

Everything in my life is rapidly descending into chaos, and I can’t say I’m thrilled about any of it. It started with my computer that’s been giving me utter fits. It won’t allow me to sign on line and it says I’ve got viruses. I thought I had protection against that, but it’s not working apparently. If I can’t get online, that cripples me as far as my business life goes.

Luckily, I stayed in a fantastic Holiday Inn and Suites that had not one but a whole row of computers available for guests to use. If ever I could use one it’s now, but that doesn’t clean out the viruses on mine. If I have to buy a new computer it will really kick me in the bank roll right when I don’t need it. I have a CD at the printer to pay for and taxes as well.

I have to pay my accountant, and I’m afraid to even open the envelope with the total bill from my visit to the hospital a few weeks ago to have my knee looked at. My car’s getting ready to turn 186,000 miles and even though it’s running pretty good at the moment it just may decide to blow up in my face at any time. I’ve had to deal with that more than twice.

I know, I’m not supposed to dwell on the negative, but this is just reality. Things in life go wrong, and it becomes a timing thing. Yes, I know I could have been a whole lot better with my finances, but I wasn’t. I’m in a pickle right now, but it won’t take a whole lot for me to turn it around completely. I’m setting myself up for a chance to score in a big way.

It’s been years of paying dues to get myself in this position and I don’t want to ruin it at this crucial time. Computers can be fixed, but if I lose the data again it will be completely unnecessary. I’ve had that happen WAY too many times in the past and know what that’s like. I’ve built it all back up again and have all kinds of stuff that would kill me to lose it.

Jim McHugh and I caravanned it from Michigan to Chicago. He’s a great friend and is like the big brother I never had. He talks sense and keeps me grounded in many ways as I try to deal with my various situations. Hopefully I’m able to be a friend to him in return. I know he means well ,and we make each other laugh at times when we both need it most.

I made it back to Chicago to do a radio segment with Jerry’s Kidders on WGN at 5pm. I don’t see that project going anywhere right now and that’s very frustrating. Jerry isn’t full time there and it doesn’t look like he’ll ever be in the future either. That doesn’t help us at a time when we all could use at least a little stability in our lives. I think we may be done.

I don’t have the time or energy to keep doing half ass willy nilly appearances at the drop of a hat on short notice. Fun is fun, and we have lots of it, but the cost is getting to be way too much with no signs of a payoff any time soon. We have to get ourselves more defined in our own mind so we know what we’re selling. Nobody seems to be buying who we are.

The Mothership Connection radio show in Kenosha is going to be changing too. One of our co-hosts Diane asked for some time off and I can’t fault her for that. She’s got a lot of things on her plate right now. I get that. I do too. My main red flag is with the computer.

Paying A Bill

March 29, 2010

Saturday March 27th, 2010 – Dearborn, MI/Novi, MI

Life is still pretty good even though the show last night was weak. We’re booked in the space that used to be occupied by Second City apparently and they’re gone after a several year run. My friend Vicki Quade has her one woman show “Late Night Catechism” in the room and she had mentioned she thought Jerry’s Kidders should try to get a booking too.

I didn’t know that’s what it was when I took the booking, and quite frankly I think I’m getting boned on money. The agency that booked me is in the south, and I don’t work for them all that often unless they have work in the north. They asked me to do this one and I said I would. Mistake. I found out they’re making more than me with their commission.

This kind of thing goes on all the time in show business but it doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it. They asked if I wanted a gig this weekend and I said yes. End of story. If it means they get three times more than they’re paying me, technically it’s none of my bee’s wax. Too bad life isn’t always technical. Sometimes it’s gut feelings and mine got kicked.

Still, if I turned this down, there would have been hundreds of comics proud to take my place so I just shut up and did my job. Last night was not fun at all, but tonight’s audience came out to laugh. They were well dressed and polite and the house was packed out wall to wall. I knew I’d like them in the first ten seconds, and I kept it up throughout my show.

They were fun but the real fun was seeing to it my friend Bill Mihalic got up to do a few minutes to open the show. He’s a comedy writer and has been at it for years, but now he’s trying to branch out a little. I’ve never met a more diligent and sincere person in any walk of life and if I can give the guy hope I’ll always do my best. Bill Mihalic is good people.

In fact, this afternoon he came over to the hotel and drove me to take another tour of the Automotive Hall of Fame. I’ve been there before with Bill because he’s a member and we had fun then. He’s very knowledgeable, and served as a fantastic tour guide for all the ins and outs of the car business for the last 100 years. Bill’s a student of the whole car game.

After that we went to the Henry Ford Museum and looked at that for a while. It’s had to be at least a dozen years or more since I’d seen it and it was totally work the trip just for a chance to tour it again. Bill is a masterful tour host and knows all kinds of inside scoops.

The show tonight was a lot of fun, but getting to put Bill up on stage was the true high point of the trip. Stage time is like Christmas to an aspiring comic and the was a Saturday night full house that paid to get in. I saw Bill’s eyes light up when I said he was going up and that made me feel like I did my good deed for the day. I’ve had that look many times.

He did a fine job, and afterward I could tell he had fun. It’s hard to get someone to give stage time to a beginner, but I know what it’s like so I always try to be generous whenever I can. I had a little clout tonight so I made sure he got up. Not a big deal to me, but to Bill it made his whole week. This is what life is about to me. I want to work for good people.

I Love Detroit

March 29, 2010

Friday March 26th, 2010 – Novi, MI

I know it sounds crazy, but I love Detroit. There’s a vibe here that I’ve always been able to plug into, and I feel it again now that I’m back for the first time in a long time. I’ve had great shows here as I have in most of the rust belt towns. These people are into what I do.

I left a little later than I wanted to this morning and got stuck in Chicago traffic…again. There’s such a small window of opportunity to sneak by without getting stuck and it’s too early for me to get up, especially after I’ve been up late working on projects, which I was. I decided to get some sleep and a nice breakfast and wait for rush hour to run it’s course.

That was the right choice as I breezed through Chicago without any major delays, but I did have a little trouble in Indiana and that was frustrating. There’s nothing to do except sit there and wait it out, which is what I did. I had crossword puzzles and a stack of good motivational audio so I was ready to fight it but I didn’t need any of that. I had my phone.

Cell phones have made the booking process SO much easier. Actually, most bookings I now get are through email, but calling is still king with some bookers. It depends on each one’s individual preference, and that’s pretty random. I decided to reconnect with bookers instead of whine about traffic so of course when I started liking it, traffic started moving.

I wish I had a buck for every time I had to drive around Lake Michigan in my life to get to a gig. It’s not that far straight across to go from Milwaukee or Chicago to a Kalamazoo or a Grand Rapids, but having to go around the lake turns it into a major trip every time.

Not only that, there’s usually hellish construction on at least one several mile stretch of I-94 that backs up traffic for miles in both directions. How many times have I been going to some Michigan gig only to get foiled by construction and end up making it within just a few seconds of taking the stage? Too many to count. I made time for it today as well.

Lucky for me, they’ve FINALLY finished it and there were no orange barrels at all that made my life any more miserable than it already is. I did stop in Kalamazoo to have lunch with my friend Phil Anglin and it was nice to see him. He owns a couple of small bars in the area that he’d heard me on Bob and Tom years ago and wanted to try booking a show.

It ended up going very well and then we booked another one. His birthday is a day after mine and he’s just a mile mannered guy trying to make a living. He always sends cards on my birthday and Christmas and I really like and respect the guy. I hadn’t seen him in quite a while so it was good to meet up and catch up over ketchup and meat. He’s a good man.

I also stopped in Ann Arbor to hang out with Jimmy McHugh who’s working the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase this week. He loves sports as do I so we spent $5 for a ticket to see the University of Michigan baseball team play. It was a beautiful day and a great way to relax a little and enjoy life. I made it to the hotel in plenty of time and it was a pleasant  surprise to find out it was a Holiday Inn and Suites, and I had a suite. Life is good today.

Shame And Pride

March 26, 2010

Thursday March 25th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Whatever problems I might have seem pretty pale in comparison to Rick Finch, former member of KC and The Sunshine Band. He was arrested for having sex with teenage boys in the music studio at his home and apparently he admitted it to police. That’s pretty hard to explain one’s way out of, and I have to believe any kind of a career he has is now over.

Most people don’t even know who he was, but I’ve always been a fan of that band since I was a kid and I’m not ashamed to admit it. They cranked out some mega funky hits back then that still sound good today. They were all about showmanship, and I always love that no matter what the product is. Good entertainment is difficult to produce. I respect them.

The reason I knew who Rick Finch was is that he was the ’other guy’ in the team of two creative people. KC is known for the hits, but Rick Finch co-wrote a lot of them and had a big part in the creative process. Another example would be Meatloaf and Jim Steinman.

Meatloaf only sang the songs that Jim Steinman wrote, but nobody really cares about it other than Jim Steinman. Elton John and Bernie Taupin are another example. Elton sings and writes the tunes and Bernie writes the lyrics. That’s been successful for forty years.

Rick Finch and KC wrote songs in the ‘70s, and then had an ugly split in about 1981. Is it a coincidence the band stopped having hits right around that time? KC continues to tour even now, but they’re an oldies act for sure. Whatever creative magic they had is finished.

I hate to hear stories like that because finding that match is difficult. A comedy example would be Martin and Lewis. They were on top of the world and then they broke up too. In a perfect world it wouldn’t happen, but this never will be a perfect world. I feel worse for the victims. The guy obviously has a problem and I hope it isn’t too late to get some help.

My guess is, he’s going to die miserably in prison. I can’t see a pleasant outcome for the guy who molests teenage boys in his house when he’s supposed to be a mentor figure. It’s not an accident and no matter how rich or famous he used to be, that’s all over with now.

Whatever unpleasant obstacles I’ve had thrown in my life’s path, it wasn’t that. I’ve had my share of other problems, but I’ve never been molested by any scout masters or priests. Maybe I was just too damn ugly, but at least I never had to have those kind of memories.

The story really shocked me when I read it. I totally knew who he was, and it came out of the clear blue unexpectedly. How does anyone put a positive spin on that? What does a publicist or press liason say, especially when he admitted it? It can’t be a pleasant task for his lawyer either. Then of course there will be everyone in the music industry gossiping.

All the articles I’ve had over the years have always been positive. It’s part of coming up the ladder, and they’re used in a publicity package to send out to get more press or send to bookers. I may get some negative press in the future, but it won’t be anything like this.

On a positive note, I had lunch with Vince Carone today. He’s a former student who has a chance to really do something in the business. He’s 27 now but was probably 19 at most when he took the class at Zanies. He was always a nice kid but now he’s really maturing.

When I was coming up in Milwaukee in the ‘80s, my mentor C. Cardell Willis groomed me to be ‘the one’ who would do something in the business. He said that of all the comics in town at that time, I was the one that had the most chance of taking comedy the farthest.

He taught me about the road and how it would be a grind, but that’s how comedy had to be to make a living and not just be a hometown hobbyist. Cardell always told me I would take comedy farther than he’d be able to, and he was right. I did. He didn’t have resources at his disposal to go on the road full time. He had a family to support and he did his duty.

The comedy boom of the ‘80s didn’t have much of a place for Cardell. He wasn’t in the right place at the right time, funny as he was. He was my age now when clubs were in the infant stages, and most of the comics then were twenty somethings. He never had a shot.

Vince is really starting to come into his own and I told him at lunch today I feel exactly the way Cardell did when he told me I’d take it farther than he ever would. Vince will be the one to leave me in the dust, and if it has to be someone I’m glad it’s him. He’s got an amazing work ethic but he’s got a heart too. He also has a business sense. That’s RARE.

I’m proud of all my students, and just as children they’re all individuals. I support them and try to be there when they have a question, but sometimes we drift apart over years and I don’t hear from them for a while. I’m busy bailing water out of my own boat, and I have my own career to mishandle. I’m making dumb new mistakes so I’ll have more to teach.

Vince has always kept in contact and I’m very grateful for that. He’s very classy and it’s going to take him very far. He’s not insincere as many in show business can be, and I will always be in his corner cheering for his success. He gave me his SECOND finished DVD, which for 27 is outstanding. It wasn’t half assed either. Both projects are very impressive.

I was farting around with morning radio at 27, wondering what direction to go. We had no recording capability back then, and if I did my act was so brutal I’m glad there’s not a recording of it I’d have to destroy. Vince did a fine job and I’m happy for him. Not only is it funny, he put a nice package together and twenty years from now he’ll still be proud.

Vince knew what he wanted from the start, just like I thought I did. Even at 19, he was always asking questions and sending me emails and I respected him for that. He was right on the money, and I’m not surprised he’s starting to do well now. He’s only 27, but he’s a veteran of the wars because he started young like I did. He’ll blow me out of the water.

I told him to be careful for what he wished for. All I wanted back then was to be a solid act and kick ass on stage wherever I went. I thought that was all I needed. Well, I got that wish, and was I wrong. There’s a lot more, and Vince is doing it right. Rick Finch isn’t.

Radio Double Duty

March 25, 2010

Wednesday March 24th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI/Kenosha, WI

Up to Milwaukee today to be on The D-List on ESPN 540 with Drew and Dan. I hadn’t been on in a while and it’s always nice to hang out on the air. I never get sick of it. I guess I’m a radio whore, but is that a bad thing? If I can make people laugh, it’s what I live for.

I still think deep down there’s room for a comedy show about sports and I’d love to get a chance to pull it off. I think it should be both a live standup show and on the air like the Jerry’s Kidders segment. There are plenty of sports stories every week that could be made fun of, and people who are sports fans are passionate about it. We follow it all our lives.

I’ve got other projects in font of that one so even if it is a killer idea, it’ll probably have to be done by someone else because I have my hands full doing what I’m already doing. If I go off in yet another direction, I doubt if I’ll get anything done. Ever. First things first.

I stopped on the way down from Milwaukee and visited the WLIP studios to talk about the Mothership Connection show with John Perry. He’s the operations manager and also the one who asked me to do the show. By all accounts it’s going very well, and I asked to have a fourth hour added as soon as possible. We’re starting to feel cramped with three.

What a splendid problem to have, not enough air time to squeeze everything in! Growth brings more responsibility with it, but I think we’ll be fine. We were nervous about going to three hours, and that was no big deal after one week. Four hours is a lot different. It’s a jump the size of going from feature to headliner in comedy. Now we’re with the big boys.

Joey O’Shey knows some people who have syndication connections and Kipper McGee has been working with FM talk stations so that’s the next step. I need to get my chops for a four hour show rather than three, and then start sending out recordings of it to get hired.

WLIP is fun, but we could use a bigger studio for all the guests and drop bys we have in on a regular basis. I’d also like a chance to be on the AM station in Waukegan, IL at some point, WKRS. It’s the same company but I’m not sure what’s going on over there now.

Right now, I’m delighted we got bumped up to four hours starting this week. That’s the first step, and all I had to do was ask for it. Next comes the website reboot and start to put podcasts up on it and develop fans. We’ve got a few scattered all over North America but I want to really make it grow exponentially. Part of it is marketing, but only about 98%.

I sent out emails to the other people who’ve ever been on the show and told them what I wanted to do and that they were all invited on the trip. This is one thing I don’t feel badly about at all. Who consciously wants to be The King of Uranus? Nobody. This gig is mine.

ESPN 540 was fun, and I’ll go as long as they’ll have me. WLIP was business. If I don’t keep the show progressing, there’s no reason to keep doing it. I think with just a few solid ideas we can really take the show to a higher level. I want money coming out of Uranus.

It’s also my brother Larry’s 49th birthday. He hasn’t talked to me in years, but not nearly as long as my sister Tammy. That icy wall is celebrating 17 years pretty soon and has not shown any signs of crumbling. I’ll give her credit, she sure knows how to hold a grudge.

I think all of this is stupid, but I have to look inward to find out why it’s happening. I’ve got two full siblings and a half brother, and none of them will talk to me. Silence. They’re obviously angry about something, even though I’ve tried patching things up for as long as I can remember. I’ve also reached out to my nieces and nephews. They blow me off too.

In no way do I think I’m perfect or better than any of them, and in fact that’s why I want to make peace. We all came up in an insane environment that no human child should ever have to endure, and as adults we should have the opportunity to heal. I was very angry for a lot of years, and it bled over into all facets of my life including comedy. It was a mess.

It really bothered me and I never thought I was ready to raise my own family because of all the issues I had with the one I was born into. I’m sure many people do exactly that and start the horrific cycle all over again. That was the last thing I wanted to do, and I worked a lot of things out over the years on my own, and with the help of others. Life is difficult.

Now is the best time of my life by far. I’m able to enjoy things as they come and I’m in a very laid back easygoing mindset. I still flare up once in a while, but not even close to a level I used to live with daily before. Maybe part of that comes from aging, and if it does, great! I’m glad to get older. Maybe I can finish my life strong rather than burn out early.

I know there are other siblings who haven’t spoken in years, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. My wacky Aunt Charlene died a few years ago, and she hadn’t spoken to her sister in about 25 years. My cousin Brett hadn’t talked to his mother in a few years either and when she died he called his aunt to tell her that her sister died. They had a nice talk.

Charlene’s nickname was ‘Mack’. I never did find out why everyone called her that, but everyone did. Me too. ‘Auntie Mack’ was what I remember calling her as a kid, and I saw then she was off her rocker. She clashed with everyone in the family and when she finally did die, nobody missed her. Like my father, there weren’t enough people for a funeral.

Maybe I’m the Auntie Mack of my siblings. They all think I’m the one off my rocker so they just ignore me and think I’ll go away. We’ll all go away at some point, but I wish we could at least see each other one more time and look each other in the eye and let it all go.

I’ve never denied I’m crazy, but crazy doesn’t mean insane and it doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings either. I’m unorthodox in many ways to say the least, but I’ve never tried to hurt anyone. I said some very stupid things I’m very sorry I said, but that was years ago.

This really is the best time in my life. I’m doing radio shows and comedy and planning all kinds of fun stuff like comedy classes and Uranus Factory Outlet and thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people enjoy my work. I wish the family situation would heal.

Mothership Maintenance

March 24, 2010

Tuesday March 23rd, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

Sometimes I look at all the projects I have going on and I see a whole lot of similarities between that and the process of raising children. Some of them share the same things, but most are very different from each other. I totally love each in their own way, but I have to treat them all as individuals and judge each situation that comes up on it’s own merits.

Today the Mothership Connection radio show on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha, WI was what won out for my attention. I’ve stuck with that project over two years now, and that’s the longest I’ve ever lasted on any show I’ve been involved with on the air. I really love it and the little voice inside my head tells me it’s time to devote more time and energy to it.

Since my own resources are stretched pretty thin, I need to delegate tasks to the regulars who keep showing up each week. We’ve got a solid core of quality people and if I put the word out that I need help, I know they’ll all rise to the occasion and make it happen. I feel a very positive vibe from everyone involved, but the show needs to have a total overhaul.

Joey O’Shey has been a very welcome addition, mainly because he’s been on a big time morning show in Boston for years. He understands the concepts of preparation and pacing and his energy on air fits in perfectly with the others in the studio. Diane Ebert has been a radio pro for years and she handles the phones and also takes care of all the social media.

Gary Pansch has really stepped up to the plate. He’s always been very quiet off the mic, but when that red light comes on he’s right there. His weekly ‘Mothership Hall Of Fame’ feature showcases a weekly kook from either past or present and he’s made it his own.

There are several others who drift in and out when they can like Dr. Destruction who’s a TV horror host of a show called “The Crimson Theatre”. He’s a local icon and is a true artist in every sense of the word. I always love having him in, and he shows up whenever it fits his schedule. No pressure either way, and it works. That’s how the whole show is.

Grey Dolan and Shelley Maas Hernandez are former comedy students and they show up when they can too, as do several of my co-hosts like Scott Markus and Lara Shaffer. They are both off doing other projects, but when they’re in town they know they can show up at the studio and I’ll put them on the air. It’s a nice relaxed feeling that’s very rare in radio.

George Clinton created his own situation in the ‘70s with Parliament/Funkadelic. That’s who did the album ‘Mothership Connection’, which is where I got the name for the show and use it as a tribute. George oversaw everyone and had the vision but the musicians put the work in to make it pop. Together they created a whole better than the sum of the parts.

That’s the goal here too and I don’t think it’s that far away. The on air part sounds great, but things like a total website update and coordination of guests and weekly promos and a mailing list and podcast all need to be addressed and put in place. Like a child, this is part of growing up. The Mothership Connection is reaching puberty. It’s a whole new galaxy.

Ball Four Time

March 23, 2010

Monday March 22nd, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

A ritual I’ve had every spring since I was in high school is to find a copy of my favorite book “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton and pass it on to someone who hasn’t read it. I love that book and never get tired of the stories and characters in it. I think it’s an absolute classic.

It’s amazing how many rabid sports fans have never read that book, even though it’s 40 years old now. It’s Jim Bouton’s diary of playing for the Seattle Pilots for the only season they existed in 1969 before they moved to Milwaukee and became the Brewers, the same team I grew up watching as a kid in the ‘70s. It’s a very candid peek into life in baseball.

He talks about the politics, which aren’t all that different than the politics in comedy or any other field of endeavor. He caught a lot of grief for it when it came out, but looking at it now, it’s pretty tame. He had a lot of dead on observations and predicted correctly quite a few things that actually happened. The players of his era were not millionaire crybabies.

It’s also a lot more. 1969 was a pretty tumultuous time in our country too, and Bouton’s timing was perfect to capture it all in one book. Plus, he was traded during the season and played for the Houston Astros to finish out the season. That and his being sent down for a brief stint in the minor leagues really provided a fascinating in depth look into baseball.

I read it in high school and it really resonated with me for some reason. I love sports but it’s more than a sports book. It’s a diary of hilarious stories with strong characters and I’m always able to pick it up, turn to any page and start back up where I left off. It’s timeless.

A big reason I started writing my own diary of life as a comedian was a direct influence of Ball Four. I thought it was a treat to get to peek inside the world of baseball that so few people ever got to see. It revealed a human side to it and even though he caught hell for it at the time, Jim Bouton wasn’t disrespectful at all in my opinion. He handled it perfectly.

He was honest about how he felt, and didn’t exclude himself in his criticisms. I loved it then and continue to enjoy it year after year. That’s a mark of a true classic and there isn’t another book I can think of I’ve enjoyed as many times over the years as I have this one.

Hopefully, I can provide a similar peek into the world of what it’s like to be a comedian on the road. Jim Bouton was never a superstar and neither am I, but he did achieve a huge accomplishment by making it to the major leagues for several years. That’s no small feat.

Making a living solely from being a standup comic was no easy task either. I admit I’m not a household name, but I’m not a part time wannabe either. I’ve done it and been there and brushed up with some of the all time greats. Jim Bouton did too, and it’s interesting.

I recommend Ball Four to anyone, not just sports fans. I have an extra copy I’ll be glad to mail to anyone who asks for it, but it’s available at Jim Bouton’s website too which is http://www.ballfour.com. Hopefully my little diary will entertain people forty years from now.

Pelosi Whipped

March 22, 2010

Sunday March 21st, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI/Kenosha, WI

I don’t enjoy going off on political rants, I have my own problems that take up the bulk of my waking hours. Keeping rent paid and gas in my 17 year old dented up tin can car is plenty for my skull to handle each month, along with all of the projects I have going now.

The last thing I need to do is have to watch my back for my own government, but that’s what seems to be happening. Who the hell elected these monkey bastards to Congress and why are they destroying the country I used to be so proud of? Is Ashton Kutcher behind it and we’re all getting Punk’d? Surely this has GOT to be a joke, right? I’m not laughing.

What person living in the real world really thinks this health care idea is good for any of us who actually work for a living? Really? You trust the GOVERNMENT to make things BETTER? How’s the post office doing these days? There’s a flaming example of how the fine peeps in Washington ‘git ‘er done’. What proficiency! What a system! What a joke.

Who the hell is Nancy Pelosi and why isn’t she getting a work boot up her smarmy ass? Has she ever had to slug it out and have to pay her own bills? I highly doubt it. Nobody in the circles I frequent wants anything to do with this idiotic money sucking piece of insane legislation, and in my book that should equal ‘We the people’. They’re jamming it on us.

Before those who say it get locked up in camps, I do NOT approve of my government’s performance from the unqualified slicker than snake snot talking head Socialist President right on down the line. Joe Biden is a pompous idiot, as is his partner in crime the equally clueless Nancy Pelosi. As far as anyone worth a sneeze in Congress, I can’t think of one.

Those people aren’t for us, about us or among us. They’re in their own little world with our money and are spending it on ‘Hershey bars and Archie comics’ as my grandpa would often say. I saw the picture in the paper of everyone walking hand in hand like this is such a wonderful thing and I almost puked. America as I thought it stood for is officially over.

My grandparents were staunch supporters of the slogan ‘America – love it or leave it.’ If they were alive today, I bet they’d be making travel plans. I would move, but I don’t think I should have to. How about starting with the millions of ‘undocumented’ people who are here sucking up the resources meant for AMERICANS? Can’t they get sent somewhere?

I was born here, work here, pay my taxes and am trying to survive week to week, month to month, year to year. It’s getting harder and harder to do that, and seeing what’s coming out of Washington from people who are supposed to be protecting us is frightening me as much as any horror movie ever has. This nightmare isn’t on Elm Street, it’s everywhere.

This isn’t a nasty right wing tirade. I’m not thrilled with the Bush administration either. I just think it isn’t too much to ask to be represented by someone with a clue who can see what a mistake this whole health care bill is. We got ZERO vote, it was forced upon us by a demented crew of clueless mooks who I wouldn’t trust to piss out a cigarette butt spark.

I agree there are major problems with the health care system, but this sure isn’t going to fix anything. When was the last time any government fixed anything? Mussolini said he’d get the trains to run on time. Did he ever do it? If he did, it sure came with a giant price.

Let’s look in the mirror to start fixing health care. We’re a nation of fat ass lazy halfwits who don’t exercise, and I’m putting myself right at the top of that category. I just had a bit of a wakeup call with my little gout episode a couple of weeks ago. It’s funny now, but no pain I’ve felt in years compared to how much my knee hurt. And what caused it? DIET.

I eat too much red meat and sugar and don’t exercise enough, and if the left ventricle of my heart should happen to explode halfway through my next hot fudge sundae, who’d be responsible for that? The government? That’s the message I’m getting with all this hooey.

NOBODY seems to have the desire to look in the damn mirror for the source of all their problems…and solutions too by the way. Why are we in bad health? We’re fat and lazy as a country, and it’s getting worse. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t need to have a hand in enabling us to do whatever we want and then middle class people who bust ass have to pay for it all.

Political correctness has gone way past any boundaries of sensibility, and nobody seems to be able to say or hear the truth without having someone else step in and try to soften it. I can’t say I disapprove of the President without being called a racist. Really? Who said it had anything to do with race? It never did, but since that topic is up, let’s talk about that.

Why are people so hypocritical when it comes to issues of race? All the Hallmark cards and pie in the sky wankers that yammer on constantly about ‘I don’t see color’ and ‘we’re all one people’ go out of their way to support Cinco de Mayo and Martin Luther King day but if I would ever have a ‘Hey, I’m glad I’m a whitey’ day I’d be the social leper outcast.

I still get blamed for slavery and people think it’s ok to ask for reparations, even though they were never slaves themselves. Get your head out of your aspirations and welcome to planet Earth, where I thought we were supposed to get by on our own merits, at least here in America. It’s supposed to be a melting pot for freedom, not a piss pot for freeloaders.

This whole health care insanity REALLY infuriates me. Nobody owes anyone anything. Get your totalitarian state government out of my face, and let me go live my life trying to figure out what the right path is. Where is my pursuit of happiness? My government is on an apparent mission to relieve me of that pursuit so I can help fund illegitimate children.

Of course there are people who need help from somewhere. They should get it too, but I don’t think it should come from Washington. There are private sources and other options and if people in charge would THINK rather than throw tax money at it, we’d get it fixed.

This is like handicapped parking spaces. Why do we need so many? It screws things up for the masses, and it would be cheaper to call a cab for a handicapped person who really needed to go shopping. They’d get their needs met and the rest of us would park easier.

A Saturated Saturday

March 22, 2010

Saturday March 20th, 2010 – Chicago, IL/Elkhorn, WI

Today was loaded with surprises, most of them good. The one I didn’t like was waking up to several inches of snow on the ground, which made me have to scrape it off my car, which made me have to hustle faster than I wanted to on slick roads to get downtown for the seminar I signed up for about reinventing my life. Still, I was able to make it on time.

The teacher’s name is Steve Olsher. He wrote a book called “Journey To You” and he’s a life long entrepreneur. He told some interesting stories up front and I liked the guy right away. I respect how hard it is to get people in a room, and he did a lot of things correctly.

It was the weather that screwed us. Nobody expected snow, sleet and slippery roads but good weather has the opposite effect. People want to wash their cars and go outside so the same result happens – they stay away from the event. I’ve had it happen to me quite often, so I felt Steve’s pain. I stayed as long as I could, but wasn’t able to finish the entire day.

I politely excused myself and drove north for my show in Elkhorn, WI at the Evergreen Golf Course. I’d heard it was snowing pretty good and didn’t want to risk it by cutting the drive time too thin. It was white knuckles and brake lights for way longer than I’d hoped.

I arrived at the Evergreen Golf Course at 7:10 for an 8:00 show and was surprised to see a jammed full parking lot. I had to park a ways away and walk in the snow, but I wasn’t at all upset about that. Full crowds mean full payment, usually in cash. The place was really jumping and that’s always a plus. Not only that, I worked with two competent comedians.

The opener was a newer guy named Matt Drufke. I’ve seen him at Zanies a few times at the Rising Star Showcases I host on Monday nights, and he did a fine job then. He’s from a town called Huntley, IL which is not on the beaten path. Getting stage time isn’t easy to do on a regular basis, but I’ve never heard him complain. He’s got some upside potential.

They wanted a two headliner show and my old friend Vince Maranto was the other one. We’ve worked together a ton at Zanies and we both feel comfortable onstage and off. He did an excellent job as he usually does and it was a fun night all around. I went up and did what I do, and the audience loved it. They loved all of us. This was a pleasure all around.

Working with good guys who are professional makes everything a whole lot more fun. I wish it could be like this every night. Not only were the other comedians easy to handle, the guy in charge of the Evergreen was nice too. His name is Russ and he gave us easy to follow directions and let us do our show. He also made sure we were fed and watered too.

The show was booked by a comedian named Jerry Wolski who used to live in Chicago but is now in Los Angeles. He’s been asking me for months to do this show and I’m glad he did. Everything went smoothly and Jerry was about as low maintenance to work for as I’ve ever experienced. Everything was right about tonight, and I’m grateful for every little detail – including being paid in cash a minute after getting off stage. Take THAT Giggles.