Archive for June, 2012

Missing Topic A

June 29, 2012

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’.

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Talk Radio Training

June 28, 2012

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.

The Spark Remains

June 27, 2012

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.

An Overdose Of Air

June 26, 2012

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.

Deep Thrills

June 26, 2012

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.

Teaching And Learning

June 24, 2012

Saturday June 23d, 2012 – Wauconda, IL

   If variety is indeed the spice of life, I qualify for spice rack status. It’s difficult if not downright impossible to keep up with all the activities I have going, and it’s been that way for years. I know I probably should trim my list way back, but what do I drop? Everything I’m involved in is fun.

I still love being a comedian, even though the politics aspect is a big time hassle. The stage part never gets old, and there’s no reason I can’t keep doing it indefinitely. I may not be constantly on the road like I’ve grown used to for decades, but there’s no reason I can’t do gigs close to home.

In fact, I’d enjoy that a lot. I’m still working on growing my name in the Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and Rockford areas – what I call the ‘Squared Circle Of Uranus’. I still believe there are enough people between those four cities to squeeze out a decent living, and I’m out to prove it.

I’m also discovering that I really enjoy writing. Besides this little daily diatribe, I’m also doing a weekly sports related blog on www.espnmilwaukee.com and a weekly humor blog on the Visit Lake County Illinois website at www.visitlakecounty.org/blog/. That’s keeping my fingers busy.

Today’s stop on the variety wheel was Wauconda, IL to teach a one day comedy class with Bill Gorgo at the Energee Center. Comedy classes are another ongoing project that I really enjoy, and something I know I could expand if I focused on it more. Performing is the best, but classes are a close second. When students are into it, it can be extremely satisfying to watch them get better.

The real reward is getting to meet some super nice people along the way who often evolve into personal friends. The typical type who would take a comedy class – especially out in the suburbs – is usually a creative based person with above average intelligence. That makes teaching a blast.

There were only a handful today, but for a first time trying it nobody was disappointed. We’ve had small turnouts before, but Bill and I would talk about comedy even if nobody else showed up so there’s no real risk on anyone’s part. The only thing gambled was the gas we used to get there.

We never get sick of being around the fundamentals of comedy, especially when people attend who want to learn something. Most of them will never do standup more than once, and some will never do it at all. They’re interested in what goes into it, and many times they’re there to network and socialize. There’s nothing at all wrong with that, and 99 times out of 100 everyone is happy.

We didn’t make a whole lot of money today, but we did make some. That was encouraging and gave us hope to try it again, maybe in the fall. What was less than pleasant was finding out about a benefit show scheduled for later in the evening that was to raise funds for a little seven year old girl with cancer who just had a major surgery on Thursday. When I think I have troubles, I don’t.

It was a no brainer for Bill and me to donate our meager take to the girl’s fund. What horror it must be for any family to have to go through that, much less a child. Yes I’m struggling, but she needed that money more than we did. Next time I feel like bitching, I’ll know I have no reason.

Overnight Overload

June 24, 2012

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.

We Want Bootsy!

June 24, 2012

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.

Finance Frustration

June 21, 2012

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.

Technophobia

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.