Archive for March, 2013

Thank You Rick Uchwat

March 20, 2013

Tuesday March 19th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

     I’ve got a jam packed performing schedule coming up in the next couple of weeks, and I plan on loving every last minute of it. I’ll be all over the place, and in a good way. The money will be appreciated of course, but it’s never been about that. It’s the fun and thrill of being on the stage.

After a lifetime of chasing this elusive dream, I still haven’t gotten tired of the live performing part of the process. I’ve become extremely sick of most of everything else, but that time on stage is still golden – especially when it goes well. There are still times when it doesn’t, but that’s rare.

Far more often than not, I am able to go up there in front of a room full (or not that full) of total strangers and win them over with laughter. I clearly see their defiant stares of “you’d better make me laugh, mister” whether they know it or not. Then when I do, they line up to tell me how much they enjoyed it and I see an entirely different look in their eye. It’s one of admiration and respect.

Once in a while it’s a look of horror or disgust, and occasionally they won’t even look at me at all. Tonight was one of the good nights when they looked at me like a superstar. I’m at Zanies in Chicago yet again, and that’s the place I feel as comfortable as anywhere I’ve ever worked. I am officially one of their boys, and that’s not a bad place to be. Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld are too.

Leno and Seinfeld and Richard Lewis and Larry Reeb and Tim Walkoe have all been staples of Zanies for decades. Obviously Leno and Seinfeld have gone on to much greener pastures, but both are looked at with reverence as having been people to put Zanies on the map. They’re legends.

The one everyone attributes a huge part of their success to – including me – is Rick Uchwat. He was the owner and founder of Zanies in 1978, and was an unbelievably charismatic personality at a time when comedy was just getting hot. He had a way about him that made everyone develop a fierce loyalty, but it wasn’t fear based like a lot of club owners tend to be. Rick earned a respect.

Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld still have a fondness for Rick to this day, as do a lot of others in an insane business built on self worship. Not everyone cared for Rick, as he could tend to polarize a percentage of the people he dealt with but that’s what I loved most about him. He was straight up and didn’t mince words. You knew where you stood with him, and I was always in good stead.

Rick passed away in 2011, and I miss him terribly. He was a great friend, even though we were not in constant contact. He made sure I always had bookings at Zanies, and he told me no matter how many people I pissed off I’d always have a comedy home on his stages. I never forgot that.

When I had my near fatal car accident in 1993, Rick had a check in my hospital room the very next day for $1500 to cover my immediate needs. I had to pay it back, but I worked it off on his stages at the various Zanies clubs and I’m forever grateful to him and Zanies for that kindness.

Today would have been Rick’s 66th birthday. I had a rock solid show at his club tonight, and I dedicated it to him from the stage. If not for Zanies, I wouldn’t be a comedian. Thank you Rick!

Rick and Jerry

Jerry Seinfeld and Rick Uchwat

Zanies in Chicago - my home club

Zanies in Chicago – my home club

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Worst Case Scenario

March 20, 2013

Monday March 18th, 2013 – Kenosha, WI/Waukegan, IL

   My shredded tire situation is back to at least functional if not normal. I hesitate to use the word “normal”, as I don’t think anything in my life has ever been that. I’m always the asterisk with the exception like “void where prohibited” and “subject to change without notice.” Well, I noticed.

I know I’m not the first person to ever have a flat tire, but having it blow out on a Sunday when nothing is open is that glitch that makes it just a little bit harder. Why couldn’t it happen in front of a Walmart that’s having a tire sale at high noon on a sunny payday? It could, but it never does.

It’s always the worst case scenario, with a wrinkle on top of that. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying that’s how it is. It’s very funny…when it’s someone else’s problem. I personally have had my fill. Things like this have happened so often they don’t even faze me anymore. I’m calloused.

I finished my radio show in Kenosha, WI last night at midnight, and then had to deal with all of this whether I wanted to or not. My car was in Waukegan, and that’s about 10 miles away. That’s a significant hike anytime, but especially at midnight when the temperature is in the single digits.

My options were slim at that time of night, so what could I do? I suppose I could have called a cab, but Kenosha isn’t a cab town like Chicago is and it would have cost more money out of my pocket I don’t have. I also could have slept on the couch at the radio station and hoped to catch a ride from someone in the morning, but I didn’t want to do that either. I would feel like a vagrant.

Lucky for me, my friend Lou Rugani happened to stop by the station to work on something for his own show. Lou is one of my favorite people, and a major talent. He’s got one of the absolute best radio voices I’ve ever heard, and could work on any station in America. He’s from Kenosha, so that’s why he works at WLIP. I get that, but the station is lucky to have him. He’s got game.

Lou is also a car guy, and has several antique and collector cars. He knows what it’s like to be marooned with car trouble, so he gladly took me to Waukegan but first we sat at a truck stop for a while and enjoyed some of the best cream of mushroom soup either one of us have ever had.

Moments like that are surreal. I’m sitting with Lou Rugani at 2am eating cream of mushroom soup at a truck stop in Russell, IL. And it was fun. I sure didn’t expect to be doing it, but as long as I had to kill time anyway it was a pleasant experience. Lou dropped me off in Waukegan right next to where my car was at a Motel 6. I’m broke, but sleeping in my car would have been hell.

I popped for a room, and it was $49.99 plus tax. What? At Motel 6? That has to be the highest priced Motel 6 in America. Is March the height of tourist season in Waukegan or something? Do vacationers from all over come to watch the gangs shoot each other? I had no choice but to pay.

Then it took most of the morning to get my tire fixed. They didn’t have my size in stock – of course – and they called all over looking for one. I ended up having to drive another mile on the shredded donut to a junkyard up the street, but I got my used tire for $28. Life can continue now.

Twice In One Day

March 19, 2013

Sunday March 17th, 2013 – Chicago, IL/Kenosha, WI

   What would life in Mr. Lucky land be without an unexpected crisis coming every day or two to make sure my tension levels are always at their highest? BORING, that’s what. Believe me, I am craving a boring life more than a vampire craves blood, but it’s just not in the cards for this chap.

As if I needed more car trouble, I popped a tire on the freeway on my way to teach my Sunday afternoon comedy class at Zanies in Chicago and am lucky I didn’t kill myself. It happened right as I was arriving in the city and I was in fairly heavy traffic in the middle lane. That’s dangerous.

I’ve had so many things go wrong on this ‘free’ car I got from my friend Rich that I assumed it was out of ways to torture me. It’s already emptied my wallet and self esteem, and like a woman scorned it has done so with a heartless vengeance. I thought I had gotten out of her line of fire.

WRONG! I had the presence of mind to keep both hands on the wheel and stay in my lane, but slowing down too much would be dangerous as I’d have a good chance to get road sodomized at high speed. I wouldn’t mind at all to get hit, but not by a semi going 70. I would be human soup.

I did manage to get out of traffic safely, and checked my trunk to find a spare little donut with no jack or lug wrench. I know I should have checked this when I got the car, but I go through so many vehicles sometimes I don’t get around to it. I get confused, and assume I have everything.

I called Bill Gorgo to cover the first part of class, and drove on my shredded tire probably two miles at slow speed until I was able to make it to the parking lot of a hotel. I asked the desk clerk if maintenance might have a tire jack, and sure enough a guy came out and helped me. I’ve tried to help people my whole life, and having it come back when I really needed it was appreciated.

I even tried to slip the guy $10, but he was totally cool about it. I’ve done things like that many times for other people so I didn’t feel guilty at all. I sincerely thanked him and made it to Zanies to finish the class. I thought my car problems were through for the day and focused on comedy.

WRONG AGAIN! I needed to be in Kenosha to host ‘The Mothership Connection’ radio show on AM 1050 WLIP by 8pm, but just as I crossed into Lake County on I-94 the donut popped and I was back to trudging along at five miles an hour. I knew I didn’t have a jack, and tried to make it to a spot that wouldn’t require a tow in the morning. Nothing was going to be open on Sunday.

It took a long time, but I nursed the car to a tire shop in Waukegan where I have done business before. I turned on my flashers and rode the shoulder all the way, feeling the piercing looks from everyone who passed me as they gawked at my ratty two tone car with ‘URANUS 2’ plates and a ‘I (heart) URANUS’ bumper sticker. Being the center of attention this way is not what I desire.

So to review, I had two flat tires in one day. That doesn’t scare me. It’s typical for Mr. Lucky’s odds. One time I got two speeding tickets in the same day – in WYOMING. No joke. How many cops are patrolling Wyoming? I found them both. I’ll get past this, but for today it was a hassle.

Flat Tire #1

Flat Tire #1

Flat Tire #2

Flat Tire #2

Kicking Some Tires

March 19, 2013

Saturday March 16th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I’m not a fan of being off on a Saturday, but that’s how today worked out. My calendar is filled for the next eight weeks, and hopefully I’ll keep adding to it after that. I don’t ever want to have a free Saturday, as that’s the ‘money night’ for a comedian. I want to perform every chance I get.

Once in a while it’s nice to have a night off though, and this one came at a good time. I’ve been hitting it hard of late, and there are a lot of projects that need my attention. The Schlitz Happened shows in Milwaukee are coming up in April, and I feel extremely confident they’ll do very well.

I know what I’m doing as far as that goes, and now it’s a matter of getting locals in Milwaukee to recognize and embrace it as a brand. Once the word gets out, I think I can spread it around for years and have an extended run. I’d be thrilled to earn a living with less travel. I’ve had my fill.

I’d also love to at least make an attempt at having a family of my own at some point. I’m never going to be ‘normal’ in that department and I resigned myself to it long ago. I wasn’t ready to be a husband or a father when I had the chance, and I totally knew it. I’m glad I did, as by now life would be a lot more complicated than it already is because I’d be dealing with exes and children.

I was so sensitive to the fact that I had a miserable relationship with my father that I was afraid of doing exactly that to children of my own. I made excuses in my head to avoid having to give it a shot, but in reality it was plain old fear. I didn’t know how to deal with it so I chose to ignore it.

Now, when most people my age are starting to prepare for grandchildren and all that goes with it I find myself never married and entering the game for the first time. Once again, I’m the out of place freak. That’s a role I’ve played to death in life, and it gets old quickly. But here I am again.

I used my Saturday off to go on two dates, a lunch and a dinner. I know several women I really like, and I feel that some of them actually like me back. I’m not looking to be a womanizer, but I really would like to have someone special in my life I can share some of the good things that are happening right now. I’ve spent most of my life being a lone wolf, but that role can get stale fast.

Sometimes it’s the only way, as I’ve been unwilling to give up my pursuit of living the comedy dream. Most women aren’t willing to share a man with anyone or anything, and comedy can be a very demanding mistress. I wasn’t willing to ditch my dream and be ‘normal’. I wasn’t ready for that, and I’m glad I didn’t. I’d really be miserable now if I had stopped doing comedy years ago.

Being on a live stage or in front of a microphone on the radio is the only thing that comes close to making me feel alive and always has been my passion. Most of my friends who are in comedy are either divorced or unhappy, but most of my friends out of comedy are the same. It’s not easy.

Will I ever find a Mrs. Lucky? I’m not even thinking that far out. I’d just like to have a woman I can hang out with regularly and be myself. I don’t care about pillow shams or carpeting, I want someone who is fun to be with and gets me. Does she exist? I’m kicking some tires to find out.

A Change Of Seasons

March 19, 2013

Friday March 15th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

The seasons of life are changing, and I feel it. On the calendar, spring is just around the corner. In life, it’s just the opposite. I’m starting to feel the chill of autumn, and I’d better prepare myself for the inevitable or it’s going to be a nasty winter. Like it or not, summer’s heat is over forever.

There are a lot of disappointments floating around in my head, but most of them I’ll never have a chance to make good on no matter how much I’d like to. Some were my fault, others weren’t. I wish I could go back in time and make corrections, but it’s too late now. Forward progress only.

“The past is the past” is easy to throw out there as a catch all to make everything new and right again, but that past also made waves of repercussion that reached into the future which now turns out to be the present. In other words, science was right. There are reactions for all of our actions.

Bad choices we make without thinking in our youth can come back to haunt us years later, just as the better ones can pay dividends over a lifetime. I see kids in their twenties with ugly tattoos all over and a dozen face piercings and am grateful I didn’t do that. My mistakes were subtler.

All I want to do now is finish strong and salvage a life that was worth all the trouble that went into living it. I’ve paid some serious dues in my day and then some. What good would any of all those hard lessons I may have learned be if I don’t use them for good to help others? Not a thing.

What’s becoming crystal clear as I get older is that life is all about giving back. My grandfather did some of his best work in life with me, and he was 52 when I showed up on the scene. He told me years later that raising me was a satisfying challenge and his efforts are still paying off today.

Coincidentally, he also finished his college education at age 52 and I have a picture of him that always inspires me to keep going. There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think about something he said or did when I was a kid that helps me get through a situation now. His influence still exists.

Gramps really made a lasting difference in my life, and that makes me want to turn around and be that same positive force in as many other lives as I can. C. Cardell Willis was also a powerful mentor figure comedy wise as was and is Gene Perret. These names may not be famous to many, but their work is golden and I won’t forget any of them ever. I want to pass their work to others.

That’s why teaching comedy classes means so much to me. I still love to perform, but there’s a different kind of satisfaction that comes from teaching and mentoring. Seeing that twinkle in the eye of someone who latches on to a concept and it works is a tremendous feeling I never get sick of. Hopefully my students will see me fondly years from now as I see Gramps, Cardell and Gene.

I wish I could go back and change some of the bad choices I made, but we’ve all got things we aren’t proud of in our past. Pressing on and maintaining forward momentum is the correct way to proceed, but that can be easier said than done. Life is a roller coaster ride, and when there’s a hill to climb it can get steep and that forward momentum stops. Life sure has a lot for us to deal with.Gramps Graduation Pic

Birthday Reflections

March 18, 2013

Thursday March 14th, 2013 – Niles, IL/Stevens Point, WI

   Well, it’s another birthday and I’m officially too old to die young. I won’t be able to squeak by from promising upstart to legend status like a James Dean or Marilyn Monroe. I’m going to have to be a late bloomer like a Rodney Dangerfield or Colonel Sanders. I just hope I live to see some kind of payoff. Being a legend after I’m dead like a Vincent Van Gogh or Edgar Allan Poe rots.

Too bad for me, I’m running out of time and choices. The calendar pages keep flipping and I’m noticing that birthdays are getting closer together and less desired. I was always an old soul, even as a kid. I don’t ever remember my grandparents talking to me as anything other than a grown up as they raised me, and the bulk of my friends have always been and continue to be older than me.

Eventually, they’re going to start dying off and actually several already have. I also have some younger friends, but now I’m playing the role of old fart whether I like it or not. My grandfather always told me I’d be able to know when I was getting older when cops started looking younger and hot young chicks would talk to me and flirt openly because I was no longer a serious threat.

I can already feel the pages turning, especially professionally. A lot of comedy clubs are trying to attract younger customers and booking younger acts is a part of that. Just being funny isn’t the answer, and a lot of my peers that have spent their lives paying dues are feeling it too. It’s brutal.

Life seems to be a young man’s game more than ever before and that’s just how it is. I guess it always has been to a certain degree, but I never had to worry about it before. Now it’s hitting me where I live, and all of the stupid mistakes I made in youth are about to start haunting me. Oh oh.

Having that fail safe ‘plan B’ to ‘fall back on’ I didn’t think I’d need sure would come in handy right about now. It wouldn’t have hurt me to have developed a diligent saving habit either. I only had thirty years to come up with one, but of course I didn’t because “I would always have time”.

A lot of people I’ve talked to that are older than me have said it’s scary how everything sneaks up so quickly, but when it’s on one’s back porch it’s there to stay. Youth is a scarce commodity and when it’s gone it’s GONE. Hopefully there’s enough wisdom left over for the rest of the trip.

I think I have acquired a fair amount of smarts, and now it’s up to me to transfer life fuels from the exuberance and boldness of youth to the wily ways of experience. I’ve always been far more comfortable in this mode, and I think I have a more than good chance to win if I do it correctly.

Today I just enjoyed the company of good friends and whatever family I have. Marc Schultz is several years older than me, but we’ve become very good friends. He threw a lunch party in my honor and some local performers came and we had a great time. Everyone there was my senior.

Then I drove to Stevens Point, WI to have a dinner in my honor with my cousin Leah and her husband Rob and their daughter Janine. My cousin Brett was there too, and I was the oldest one at that table and they all let me know it more than once. This was a birthday of deep reflection.

The Royal Treatment

March 17, 2013

Wednesday March 13th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   Today quite possibly could go down as THE single most fun day I’ve ever experienced. I had a chance to be the center of attention at the Milwaukee Admirals hockey game tonight in full regal splendor as the King of Uranus, and it was exactly what I thought it would be – a hilarious thrill!

The team has long been known for their stellar and original promotions, and this was ‘Salute to Uranus’ night. They put it in their ads, and I heard back from all kinds of people saying they had heard my name everywhere. I hadn’t planned on my name being attached to this gimmick, so the team did me a favor by getting my name out there too. I don’t mind either way, it was just FUN.

The character itself is still in development, but the fact that an adult would dress up like a goof willingly is a sure way to garner attention. If it weren’t true, they wouldn’t keep sending all those poor saps out in public dressed as the Statue of Liberty trying to drum up business for tax places.

If nothing else, it turns heads for a short second even if only to have the person gawking at the costumed kook think “Well at least it’s not ME.” This is the same principle, but it was received well by everyone and turned out to be an amazing experience. I know I’m on to something here.

It helped immeasurably that the team was totally behind this. Jon Greenberg is on top of things, and always has been. He’s the president of the team, but everyone else was great too. Director of Marketing Tim Van Wagoner worked extremely hard to come up with a true or false quiz to give fans on the bench where they’d give a thumbs up or down. It was the ‘Thumbs up Uranus’ quiz.

I also got to drop the ceremonial first puck before the game, and to see the looks on the faces of the players alone was worth my trip. They gawked at me like I really was from outer space, and I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing. It was exactly the reaction I wanted, and I played it up.

Another major highlight was getting to be part of the ‘Human Hockey Puck’ contest. That’s the one that everyone talked about. There’s a huge sling shot and five fans are put on a plastic flying saucer sled one at a time and slung across the ice to knock down targets like bowling pins to win prizes. I’d seen it done before, but being part of it in full King regalia was a treat I won’t forget.

Between the first and second period I got to sit and sign autographs if anyone was interested in getting one. Jon Greenberg and I had no idea if anyone would show up, but there was a long line of fans wanting pictures and autographs and I felt like Elvis for twenty minutes. It was a big hit!

My friend Drew Olson from 540 ESPN Radio came out to support, and we laughed like school girls backstage about how fun this whole thing really was. He’s seen most if not all of my wacky stunts over the years and he has the full perspective of how much it took to bring this idea to life.

Drew’s radio partner Dan Needles ran a blurb about it on his WISN TV 12 sports cast, and I’m very grateful for the exposure. It cemented the evening, and I’ll remember it forever. It was a big thrill to be able to pull this off, and if nobody else is impressed I don’t care. This one was for me!

Problems? What Problems?

March 13, 2013

Tuesday March12th, 2013 – Arlington Heights, IL

   Just when I think I have problems, something comes along to tell me I don’t. Every day any of us is above ground is a good day, at least in theory and on paper. Yes, things do go wrong for all of us but no matter who we are there always seems to be someone else suffering just a bit more.

I had lunch today with one of my former comedy students Vince Carone. Vince took my class more than ten years ago now, and we’ve kept in touch off and on. He’s a smart hardworking kid who is not a kid anymore. He’s a grown man and has been making progress in the comedy game.

Right from the start, I could see good things for Vince. His parents had a sports card shop of all things, and he understood the business angle a whole lot sooner than I ever did. He also happens to have an outstanding work ethic along with being a good looking kid and natural for the stage.

I watched Vince climb the ranks, and it didn’t surprise me at all that he started to close shows a lot sooner than I ever did. He really has a grasp for the big picture, and he doesn’t expect to get a break without working for it. Not a lot of comedians have all that going for them, but Vince did.

I hadn’t heard from him in quite a while, but that happens. It’s impossible to keep current with everybody, as I’ve had more than 2000 students alone. That doesn’t count booking agents, comic friends and regular friends in general. People cross paths when they do, and that’s how it goes.

I was wondering how Vince was doing as I hadn’t heard a peep for a long time, and last week I received a startling email informing me how he’d been having severe health issues for the better part of the last year and had dropped out of sight to almost everyone. It took me by total surprise.

At first it was thought he had Hodgkins lymphoma, and that’s no small prognosis. Vince said it was a mind blower, but he was never bitter about it. He had resigned himself to the fact he would be uncomfortable during his chemotherapy and then recover after that. Then it turned into a giant circus as they weren’t able to locate the cancer and he wasn’t sure what was up or what to think.

He was in the hospital for a couple of weeks and the whole story sounded like a nightmare that even Mr. Lucky hasn’t had to live through – even though I’ve had my own health issues to worry about. Vince has gone through some surgeries and is taking medication now and feeling better.

He told the story at lunch with remarkable resolve, and is not letting it get him down. He’s on a medication plan that’s making him feel better, and he may or may not have to deal with this hell anymore. Nobody knows, and that’s got to be frustrating too. One just never knows how life will work out. We all get surprises thrown in front of our life’s path, and it’s up to us to sort it all out.

I was really sorry to hear of this, but if anyone can handle it it’s Vince. He’s got a solid family and is really grounded in good values. I wish he didn’t have to go through this, but who has any choice as to the sufferings we all have to go through in life? Whenever I think I have problems, I think of stories like Vince’s and know that I don’t. Nobody ever said life was fair – and it isn’t.

Too Much Fun?

March 13, 2013

Monday March 11th, 2013 – Libertyville, IL

   More on the plate, but it’s all fun. This is really a dilemma, but a good one. I think. It’s like I’m at a spectacular giant buffet I’ve waited my whole life to eat at, and I’m piling my plate so high I can’t even walk back to my table to enjoy any of it. I think I have to rework my plan just a little.

I began another comedy class at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL tonight, and even though it was fun I have to admit I’d much rather have just stayed home and slept. Teaching is a relaxing activity in itself and I love it, but again it’s a matter of having to get somewhere. It’s maddening.

Where I live there are no easy routes to get anywhere. I have a few choices of roads I can take, but they all lead through low speed residential areas or near shopping areas with too many lights to go through where I always get trapped and have to wait. I’ve tried all options, and all are bad.

Libertyville isn’t all that physically far from where I live but it ends up taking about 45 minutes to get there and that’s only if I make all the traffic lights – which rarely happens. That’s an hour and a half for travel time which I could be spending doing something much more productive than sitting in my car listening to inane sports talk radio. It’s frustrating to have to waste all that time.

I’m not even making that much money to teach the classes, but I totally love doing it. It’s what I’ve spent my life training to do, and I know those students are getting FAR more than they ever pay for whether they know it and appreciate it or not. It’s good energy all around, and I enjoy it.

I guess that should be reason enough to do it, and until now it always has been. I never thought about the time outlay or money I was missing out on, but everything and everybody has limits. In a perfect world I’d have enough time and money to do everything I want to do, but this isn’t it.

So, what’s the right answer? I wish I knew. Pretty much everything I’m doing right now is a lot of fun, and I really love doing it all. Comedy gigs are plentiful at the moment, as are classes. The Mothership Connection radio show is going well also, even though I’m not getting paid a nickel.

I’m also farting around with antiquing, and I’ve managed to find a few items that have made it worth my while to keep doing that too. It’s like fishing, as it only takes a few tiny nibbles keep a person coming back. I’ve hauled in a couple of nice catches, and it makes me want to continue.

So, what if anything is wrong with any of this? Technically, nothing at all. I can’t think of very many people I know who totally love what they do, so that’s a major victory. On the other hand, I see so much more potential for things I’d like to do and know I can achieve but don’t have time and that frustrates me beyond words. Do I settle for the fun I’m having, or try to go even higher?

The ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows are going to be another fun project. I hope that blossoms into a long running event, but if it does will it take me out of the game for national TV? The ‘Laughing Skull Festival’ in Atlanta is coming up too in a couple of weeks. I have waited my whole life for things like this to blossom, and now they’re all blooming at once. Can one have too much fun?

The Stress-O-Meter

March 13, 2013

Sunday March 10th, 2013 – Chicago, IL/Kenosha, WI

   The stress-o-meter has been cranked up extra tightly in the last few days, and none of it has any redeeming value. It’s always a constant struggle to get somewhere, and no matter how hard I try it always seems to come down to the wire and become a car race. I feel like a one man pit crew.

Yesterday it was driving up and back to the U.P. of Michigan – much of it fighting the weather. There was sleet, snow and freezing rain, and that always slows down any trip. Today it was a trip in exactly the opposite direction as I needed to be in Chicago to teach a comedy class at Zanies at 3pm. I didn’t get home this morning until 3am, and I lost another hour to Daylight Savings Time.

It’s always a matter of getting to the next place, and even if I do it well 95% of the time there is still plenty of stressful time wondering if I’ll make it. I’m caught in traffic in a crappy car and it’s absolutely hell on Earth having to wait for lights to change and people to drive with any skill set.

There’s always some pinhead blabbing away on the phone clueless to the fact he or she can be a total pain in the ball joints of every other driver on the road. They miss lights and that backs up the rest of traffic and everyone ends up getting to their destinations late. It drives me up the wall.

I know I should leave earlier, but sometimes that just isn’t an option. I needed to get sleep and a shower in, and I wasn’t able to eat a breakfast or take my exercise walk. There’s just too much going on right now even though I’m enjoying all I’m doing. At some point I have to slow down.

I wasn’t planning on teaching this session of comedy classes at Zanies, but Bill Gorgo has been falling behind in his own work as a high school teacher and needed a session off. Fair enough, as he’s been doing a fantastic job with beginner classes for a while now.  I understand his dilemma.

It was a fun class with a solid group of nice people, so that always makes it worthwhile. Class lasted until 5pm, and then I needed to drive north to Kenosha, WI for a dinner with my co-hosts of ‘The Mothership Connection’ paranormal radio show on AM 1050 WLIP. Today was our 5th anniversary broadcast, and also my birthday dinner. I didn’t want to miss it, so I left promptly.

It didn’t matter in the least. Instead of rain and sleet, today’s weather condition was severe fog.  It was thick and everywhere and nobody could see more than a couple of car lengths ahead and it backed up the traffic on I-94 to a standstill. I was stuck in it and there was nothing to do but wait.

I watched the clock tick and stewed in my own juices as a fun and relaxing dinner with friends turned into a stress filled two hours of wondering if I’d make it in time for the show at 8pm much less the dinner in my honor. I ended up getting to the restaurant about 7pm, completely frazzled.

I wolfed down my food, and we went over the plans for the evening’s broadcast. We wanted to plan out the path for the coming year, but there was no time for that tonight. We ended up having a fun show as we usually do, but it took a while for me to settle in and relax enough to enjoy it. I couldn’t wait for midnight to roll around so I could get some rest. Stress like this wears me out.