Archive for April, 2013

Still Funky

April 30, 2013

Sunday April 28th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

   I received last minute word that George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic were performing in Chicago tonight, so of course I had to rearrange my schedule so I could attend. It’s impossible to ever know for sure when the last time will be for me to see them live, so I always go when I can.

   George always has been and still is a master showman, and I never get sick of watching him do what he does. He’s a world class entertainer and a master of his craft. Even into his 70s he takes command of the stage from the second he walks onto it, and never lets go the rest of the evening.

   I hadn’t seen the P-Funk in a while, and even though I had a lot of other things I could’ve done instead, I made it a point to catch the show. It was too late to reach out to George’s manager who has always been nice enough to put me on the guest list, so I knew I would have to pay to get in.

   There aren’t many acts I’d pay to see, but George will always be one of them. He’s my favorite of all time, and I can’t see anyone knocking him off that perch at least in this lifetime. I have yet to see any live music act come within three planets of touching them when they’re on their game.

    I tried to count in the car the exact number of times I’ve seen them live, but there’s no way I’d ever be able to figure that out now. I do remember the first time I saw them was in 1989, and that was a magnificent show. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that before or since. I loved it.

   Since then, I’ve seen them at both ends of the spectrum. Sometimes they are other worldly, and once in a while they’re painfully human. But even at their worst, I’d still prefer them to any other band of all time. Keep your Beatles and your Rolling Stones. Even Led Zeppelin. I love the funk.

   It’s got to be hard to keep it together for such a long time though. If you’ve never seen George, he’s the leader of a musical circus. There are probably 30-35 people on stage at any time, and it’s an amazing experience when everyone is on the same page. There are an army of super guitarists plus slick horn players and enough backup singers to start another band, and George leads it all.

   I have a hard enough time keeping myself on track as a comedian. I can’t imagine what George deals with on a daily basis. He has had to deal with a lot of loss of late as well. Just last week one of his longtime bass players Cordell ‘Boogie’ Mosson passed at the age of 60. Before that, Garry Shider died last year. He was a talented guitarist known for appearing on stage in only a diaper.

   It’s beyond belief they’re still touring, and that’s why I catch them whenever I can. They aren’t playing the greatest of venues these days, and that’s an absolute shame in my opinion. I wouldn’t have wanted to work in the venue they played tonight, but if he was upset George didn’t show it.

   The sound was horrific and the stage was tiny, but that didn’t stop George and the P-Funk from proceeding to scorch the paint off the walls. Wow, were they on tonight. George has dropped his wild multi colored hair look in favor of a suit and tie, but it didn’t matter. He was on red hot fire, and we all got our money’s worth and then some. That was a lesson and a half in showmanship.

   Every time I think I have my own thing figured out, I see something like this and it informs me I’ll never be finished learning no matter how long I hang in there. If George or the group was not happy about anything, none of the audience could tell. They came out like it was a Carnegie Hall debut. Who knows if or when I’ll get to see them again? If this was it, it was sure worth my time.

Dr. Funkenstein Before

Dr. Funkenstein Before

George Clinton After

George Clinton After

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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Roll The Credits

April 29, 2013

Saturday April 27th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   It’s been four weeks, eight shows and one fantastic experience, but “Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst” is coming to an end – at least for this run. I had a fantastic time with every aspect of the experience, but now all I can see is a big empty summer calendar to fill.

   Before I delicately tiptoe in that unpleasant direction, I have a very long list of super people to thank for helping make this month run so smoothly. By all accounts, it was a big success and will be back again for another run. That’s all I could hope for going in, and it happened. I’m thrilled!

   Everyone at Potawatomi was an absolute pleasure to work with, and I do mean EVERYONE. I felt welcomed from the start, and I felt like I was part of a team rather than an outsider booked to do my job and then leave. It’s common to be treated that way in comedy clubs, and this is better.

   From the top, Entertainment Director Bob Rech actually came out to see the show and talked to me like a human being rather than boss to employee. He gets the concept, and sees it as a product that can be developed over time to everyone’s benefit. This is the perfect location for this show.

   Kim Mitschke was also on top of it. She’s the media contact person, and set up the sneak peek preview show that went extremely well. Everything was handled in a professional manner, and it was a joy to see it unfold. I never doubted for a second this would be a big hit, and I was correct.

   There’s no way I could have pulled this off myself, and I know it. There was a video billboard on the freeway for Potawatomi that had me in rotation for the month, and I got all kinds of email and calls from Milwaukee friends telling me they saw it. I never could have afforded that myself.

   Then there was the actual staff at the Northern Lights Theatre. Steve in charge has always been a fan and supporter, and he had nothing but nice things to say about the show. Another Steve is a security person and he’s also seen me before. I feel at home in that facility whenever I show up.

   Mark Filwett did an outstanding job on the website www.schlitzhappened.com. He put together a collage of old Milwaukee stuff on the homepage that flat out kicks ass. It’s perfect for what the show is, and I know we’ll build the site as the show itself builds. I need to keep creating content.

   Jewel Olson was beyond helpful as my right hand person the whole time. She really was a help on many levels, and I’d equate her to a pit crew for a NASCAR driver. She had my back the four weeks, and made my life much easier. Every penny she cost was worth it, as was Jeff Lampton’s time to video record the final six shows. He and his brother Chris were also easy to work with.

   Mark Heleniak was also a huge help by putting together the recording of old media jingles that were played before the shows. Seeing heads snap back with recognition as something played was exactly the result I was looking for and I got it. The right people all came together for this project to succeed and it absolutely did. It went better than many expected, but everyone seems satisfied.

   Then there were all the people who showed up from family to friends from all areas of my past to strangers who showed up to see a show. I had overwhelmingly positive reaction from all of the above, and if someone didn’t enjoy it they surely didn’t tell me. I felt nothing but positive energy the entire eight shows, and even though I know I have a long way to go I’d still call this run a big success. I also thank Joe San Felippo of Bonkerz Comedy Club, and anyone else I failed to list.

Finding A Coach

April 29, 2013

Friday April 26th, 2013 – Niles, IL/Fox Lake, IL

   I’m getting ready for my last night of ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows for the immediate future, but my offstage work is just beginning. This is a project that should last for years, but I don’t intend to rest on my laurels and coast through it. If I’m going to do it – and I am – I want it to be great.

   The only way anything can be truly great is to keep working and improve every aspect. I don’t think I’m above this process, and in fact I want to completely rebuild myself from the ground up. I’m going to examine and reexamine myself from all angles, and build something to be proud of.

   On stage, I need to have a solid structure. I couldn’t be any farther from that if I tried, and it’s a frightening place to be. I have some of the ingredients in place, but none are in any kind of order or set dosage. I’ve been randomly experimenting, and that’s not any way to achieve real success.

   It is the way to get started though – at least for me. I’d much rather get it out there and begin to shape it than leave it in the planning stages forever. I know a lot of people who talk about a lot of projects they’d love to do, but never even test any of them once. Ideas are useless without action.

   One thing I’m not afraid to do is take action, and so far it’s been a gigantic learning experience. I have enough stage chops that I can pull off an acceptable show with audiences, but I won’t fool myself into believing the array of flattering comments I have gotten mean it’s a finished product.

   It SO totally isn’t – onstage or off. I met with Cathy Rubino for breakfast today. She’s a former comedy class student with a background in acting and theatre and she’s nothing short of brilliant. I could tell she had the creative spark in class, but she never wanted to venture out on the road to chase the standup dream. I can’t blame anyone for that, as the road life is an all consuming beast.

   There are a lot of genuinely talented people who couldn’t last on the road, and it surprises me I made it as long as I did – talent or not. The lifestyle required to be an entertainer is just not made for everyone, but those of us who can manage to survive acquire a callous that helps protect us.

   I know I have a thick one, and sometimes I feel out of touch with ‘normal’ people. They often aren’t on the same wavelength, and that’s why road dogs tend to either be lone wolves or choose to hang around other road dogs exclusively. I don’t think either of those are the smartest choices.

   Why not hang around those who can be a link to actual customers? Cathy is a perfect example of someone who gets both sides. She’s an amazing talent, but she also has a family life and that keeps her grounded. Whatever dents are in her can aren’t noticeable on the surface. I’m not used to being around people like that, but I need to be because she’s exactly like I want my fans to be.

   She’s in the exact right age group, and enjoys entertainment. She didn’t grow up in Milwaukee, but totally understands what I’m trying to do. She offered to coach me from a theatrical point of view, and I gratefully took her up on it. She’s got experience, and I know I can learn from her.

   She drove up with me for the first week, and saw the shows in person. She made notes, but we agreed that we’d hold off until I had a few more shows under my belt to compare and see how it all worked out. I filled her in on how the other shows went, and we went over the notes she made the first week. She had a lot of very solid ideas, and her insights from a theatrical background are something I wouldn’t get from another comedian. This is the correct path for pursuing greatness.

Catching A Draft

April 26, 2013

Thursday April 25th, 2013 – Niles, IL

   What is it about the National Football League that has addictive powers? It’s frightening, but if I could figure out that secret ingredient I’d use it myself and get rich. Something about that sport has turned hundreds of millions of Americans into brain dead zombies who are hooked for life.

   Unfortunately, I find myself in that category and no matter how hard I fight it I seem to always come back – and I’m sure that’s exactly how they want it. I am a lifer, and my drug of choice has always been the Green Bay Packers. There are 31 other flavors available, but that one is mine.

   Once again as I have for too many years to count, I purposely blocked out my evening to watch ESPN TV coverage of the entire first round of the NFL draft. I’ve done it as long as I can recall it being televised, and I have to say ashamedly that I really enjoy it. I know I shouldn’t, but I do.

   Talk about your quintessential non event being overhyped, pumped full of hot air and force fed to a shallow stupid public – this is absolutely it. It’s such a brilliantly slick marketing job I wish I would have thought of it. Part of me is embarrassed I like it so much, and another part is jealous.

   The modern day King of Ballyhoo Vince McMahon himself couldn’t have pulled an event like this out of thin air, and I’m sure he’s probably jealous too. The NFL really put one over on all of us, and we’re thanking them for doing it by showing up in droves to watch it like a Super Bowl.

   My friend Marc Schultz is as hopelessly hooked as I am, and he invited me over to watch it at his house. It’s become an annual tradition that his wife Audrey cooks us steaks and we sit around in front of the TV from opening pick to the very end. It’s a total geek fest, but we both live for it.

   Marc is a lifelong Chicago Bears fan, and even that doesn’t stop me from going there each and every year. We actually have intelligent conversations about what each team needs, and we try to predict who each one will take. We’ve never been right yet, but it’s still fun and we will probably keep doing it as long as they keep televising it – but why would it stop? Halfwits like us watch it.

   All the whole overblown thing boils down to is just a glorified version of picking sides as kids, but there’s something about it that attracts millions of mooks across America that should have all kinds of better things to do. I can’t tell you for the life of me who represents me in Congress, but I do know in what spot my Packers were drafting (26) and that’s embarrassing. I am SO hooked.

  The NFL knows this, so they’ve stretched the whole thing out over three days. Now it’s a whole weekend I have to set aside – and stupid me I probably will. I tell myself I’ll just put it on to find out who the Packers get in the later rounds, but who am I kidding? As always, I’ll end up getting sucked in once more by Mel Kiper Jr.’s hypnotic hyperbole and before I’ll know it it’s Monday.

   There were actual games going on in both baseball and basketball tonight, but I didn’t pay any attention to any of it. Why would I want to watch actual GAMES – some of them playoff games – when I can eat steak with a friend and watch as pampered oafs get chosen to rake in zillions?

   There’s just something not right about any of it, but I can’t deny I had a total blast from as soon as I walked in the door to the minute I left after the last pick of the first round. The food was very good, and the company was better. Marc and I watched every single pick and it was a pleasure to do it. Not one down of football was played, but the NFL still made money. THAT’S marketing!

Nature Boy

April 26, 2013

Wednesday April 24th, 2013 – Fox Lake , IL

   I was watching some old wrestling videos on You Tube today, and ran across a name I hadn’t heard in years – Roger “Nature Boy” Kirby. He wasn’t a major star, but I always liked his name. I never saw Buddy Rogers who also used the “Nature Boy” moniker, as did the great Ric Flair.

   I used to regularly see live matches from about age 12 or 13 on, and the promotion that came to Milwaukee where I grew up was the American Wrestling Association, or A.W.A. In retrospect, it was one of the very best promotions of the old territory days and my high school years were right in the middle of a golden era. There was top flight talent then, and growing up I was a huge fan.

   There were also quite a few fans in my high school, and we often talked about wrestling events just like we’d talk about baseball or football. It was very popular, and nobody cared if it was real or not because of the colorful personalities. Those guys knew how to entertain live and on TV.

   Roger Kirby only wrestled in the A.W.A. for a short time, but he was a bleach blonde bad guy who played an arrogant character. He had huge legs, and apparently really broke an actual world record for leg pressing a staggering amount I can’t remember, but I think it was around 2800 lbs.

   Right around that time there was a kid who started attending our high school who’d just moved to Milwaukee from the Detroit area and his name happened to be Michael Kirby. It wasn’t a full day in before his nickname obviously became “Nature Boy”, but nobody meant any harm by it.

   I got to be friends with Michael as the year went on, and I really grew to like him a lot. He was a rather serious type, but a super nice kid who tried really hard. I could tell there was some kind of trouble in his life, and he was definitely a dented can. I’m not sure of what his family situation was, but I don’t think it was the greatest. Somewhere in his life, I sensed he had felt a lot of pain.

   I went out of my way to be friends with the guy, and I could tell he really appreciated it. I knew it would be hard for him or anyone to move to a new town in the middle of a school year, and the Detroit Pistons t-shirts he wore to school didn’t help as some idiots used to get on him about it.

   He also happened to be black, and I think that was an issue too. He wasn’t comfortable around many people, and I just sensed the guy needed a friend. I got along great with him, and he ended up confiding in me later that it was my being friendly to him that gave him strength to carry on.

   Later in the year, he came to me with a dejected look in his eye asking why people kept calling him “Nature Boy”. He thought people were making fun of him, and he couldn’t understand why. He wasn’t a wrestling fan and had no idea who Roger Kirby was, so I told him the whole story.

   His eyes lit up like I’d told him he’d just been pardoned from a major felony. He was delighted to hear the story, and that it wasn’t him they were poking fun at. I have no idea whatever became of Michael Kirby, but I sure wish the man the very best and hope he found happiness in his life.

   I looked up Roger Kirby, and he’s still alive. He’s 73 and apparently living in Kansas City with his family, and I wish him well too. I don’t know if anyone calls him “Nature Boy” anymore, but it sure is a cool nickname for anyone who uses it – at least I think so. Michael Kirby didn’t like it at all, but he wasn’t a wrestling fan. Should there ever come a day when I have a son, he just may have his mail addressed to Mean Gene “Nature Boy” Maxwell. There’s a reason I’m not married.

'Nature Boy' Roger Kirby

‘Nature Boy’ Roger Kirby

More About Fame

April 25, 2013

Tuesday April 23rd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I’d like to spout off a little more on the concept of being famous and all that goes with it. It’s a complex subject, and I’m not even sure if I fully understand it. What I do know is there is a huge difference between having name recognition and being an actual draw. I want to become a draw.

   There aren’t many who can say that, but those who can have the world by the ‘nads. Being able to fill seats brings power, even though actual talent isn’t a requirement to do it. What is needed is an easily identifiable product that a significant amount of people are willing to pay money to see.

   I’ve been trying feverishly to become a legitimate draw for decades, and have failed miserably no matter what I’ve tried. The closest I have come by far are the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows I am doing this month in Milwaukee, and I’m hopeful I can continue to build on that. It feels like a hit.

   But even if it is, I’ll only be a draw in the Milwaukee area and maybe Wisconsin. Sure, I might work my way up to having a loyal following and that following could number into the thousands or even hundreds of thousands – but that won’t make me famous. True fame is an extreme rarity.

   Only a very very VERY few in any category manage to generate instant name recognition with the masses, and with the internet generation getting more and more fragmented by the minute it’s becoming even more difficult. The days of worldwide fame are coming to a close, but the era of selective stardom is just getting started. More and more people are becoming partially famous.

   This seems like an ideal plan, and the chance at having the best of both worlds. Not being able to leave my hotel room isn’t my idea of fun, but that’s what being truly famous entails. Michael Jordan talked about that in an interview I saw, and it made me not want to ever reach that level.

   It was bad enough when I worked on cruise ships. I challenge anyone that thinks being famous is desirable to work one week on a cruise ship and see if they still feel that way. I was tired of the random but constant recognition after only a week, and I did it for the better part of eight months. 

   There was no place to hide beside my room to avoid it, but who wants to be cooped up inside a tiny room without a window on a cruise for a whole week? After a while, I felt like I was inside a fish bowl and everywhere I went I was being watched. No place on the ship was safe from attack from anybody at any time. I could be eating a meal or even in the bathroom and it would happen.

   I’d say 95% of those who approached were extremely nice. They’d say something to the effect of how they enjoyed the show, and then went on their way. It’s their right, and I respect it. Then there was the 5% who made it hell by telling bad dirty jokes or trying to get me to buy Amway.

   It’s all a big numbers game. There are what – seven billion people on the planet now? Who gets to be famous to the highest number of that total? The Pope? The U.S. President?  What comedian is known to the most people worldwide? I wouldn’t have a clue. It’s probably a Muslim mime or a Chinese ventriloquist. I do know it isn’t me, and I don’t think I’d know what to do if it was.

   I was trying to crunch some numbers and I’d guess after all these years I’ve performed live for probably 750,000 to one million people not counting radio and TV appearances. That may sound like a lot, but out of a total tally of seven billion it doesn’t even make a tiny dent. Even if I got on network TV daily, people overseas wouldn’t know me. I won’t seek fame, but I will try for rich.

The Fame Game

April 24, 2013

Monday April 22nd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Almost everyone enjoys a pipe dream of becoming famous at least once, but nobody ever has a realistic idea of everything that it entails. It’s fun to imagine the perceived perks that accompany a celebrity’s existence, but like everything else in life it comes attached with a substantial price.

   I have had the opportunity to observe varying degrees of famous people firsthand over multiple decades, and it’s always an education to see how those situations play out. Everyone is different, and that produces different results each time. Some were made for that role, and others weren’t.

   In everyone’s fantasy, being famous is always a pleasant experience. One gets recognized only at the most convenient time, and then only by the most attractive members of society who are all sane and want nothing else but to heap the highest praise and politely request a quick autograph.

   There are never any kooks, detractors or stalkers in said fantasy, and the magic button is able to be turned on and off at will so when it’s not convenient to be recognized one can quickly go right back to enjoying the undervalued freedom of anonymity. Unfortunately, this is far from reality.

   In the real world however, fame is extremely unpredictable. It can come and go without notice, and often does. Just because one achieves it at a certain time in a particular circle doesn’t mean it will be there forever, and while it’s there it comes with a downside nobody ever sees in advance.

   I couldn’t imagine being truly famous on a massive scale like an Elvis or Michael Jackson. It’s usually a recipe for eventual disaster, and few if any ever handle it well for very long. Both Elvis and Michael died young, and by all accounts their final years weren’t pleasant. Who wants that?

   My grandfather had a great saying: “The higher you climb up the flagpole, the more people can see your ass.” Gramps had a way of cutting to the chase, and this made perfect sense even when I was a kid. Still, I am in a business where having name recognition is what puts fannies in seats.

   There’s a gargantuan difference between name recognition on a business level and insane fame though, and I don’t want any part of the fame game. I’m private off stage to the point of boring. I don’t need to be a constant center of focus, and in fact I’m very uncomfortable in that role at all.

   I do what I do on stage, and that gets my ya yas out just fine. When the show is over, I am right back to being myself and I like that just fine. People often come up to say they enjoyed the show, and that’s great. I always try to be accessible and sincerely thank them for coming – and mean it.

   I’m not talking about that, I’m talking about Justin Bieber famous. He’s the latest example of a genuine worldwide sensation, and I can’t see how anyone that age could have a clue as to how to handle it. It’s great for the ego to know you can sleep with anyone you want in a major arena full of hot and horny teenage girls – and their mothers too – but I don’t think it’s a healthy existence.

   I don’t think I’m made to play the fame game, but I do want to get more name recognition for a chance to make more money doing what I’m already doing. I won’t be any funnier if I can fill an arena, but I sure will be richer and I don’t find anything at all wrong with that. I’ve paid my dues for a lifetime to acquire the skill set I have, so what’s wrong with maximizing my income to earn more than the journeyman’s wage I’m bringing home now? Being a worldwide heartthrob might sound fun in theory, but I’d gladly settle for a respectable following of fans to keep my bills paid.

Showbiz Babies

April 22, 2013

Sunday April 21st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL/Kenosha, WI

    Today was a day to kick back, but only a little. I’m finding myself thoroughly enjoying all that I have piled on my plate – even though the pile is dangerously high. Everything could crash down with a thundering thud at any second, but for now I’m having fun. It’s exactly what I want to do.

   2013 is flying by faster than I can comprehend, but I’m definitely still on my way to having the best year I’ve ever had. I’ve already accomplished a lot, but I see a lot more just around the bend. Decades of preparation have gotten me to this point and I just can’t see wasting even one minute.

   It’s really been a satisfying experience performing the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows. It is exactly what I dreamed about when I first started doing comedy, and even though it took a lot longer for it to become a reality than I ever imagined it is now and it feels better than good to see it happen.

    Sure, there are a lot of tweaks needed but the basic product is there and it’s now out there and ready to grow. That baby has been born, and it has ten fingers and ten toes. There might be some growing pains and glitches, but all babies have those. For the most part it’s a happy healthy infant.

    All of my projects are like babies to me, and they’re all screaming for my attention. I still have troublesome time management issues, and that’s a sad fact. I’d love to dote over every one of my babies one on one, but I just can’t afford it. The more time I spend on one, the others are jealous.

   ‘Schlitz Happened!’ is getting a lot of attention now, but after next week’s final performances I will put it down for a nap for a little while – probably until fall. Potawatomi Casino and I will get together on a plan for future shows, and I feel very confident we’ll be able to work out all details.

   Another baby that’s just waking up from a nap is standup comedy classes. I’ve got some going both at Zanies in Chicago and Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL and I’m finding myself doing them several nights a week of late. I love teaching them, but I’m going to have to organize more.

   Tonight’s baby was ‘The Mothership Connection’ paranormal radio show on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha, WI. That’s another project I really enjoy, but I’ve really neglected it of late. We had our best year by far in 2012, but now we’re just kind of drifting along. It doesn’t stink, but we’re not growing and that’s not good. We’ve got a very solid vibe between the crew, and we know it.

   We had a few technical glitches tonight, but that happens once in a while. It could have shaken us, but we didn’t let it and we ended up having an excellent show. We also had some last minute guest cancellations to deal with, and we handled that as well. This baby is ready to start walking.

   They all are. Standup comedy is my adult child since it’s been in my life the longest, but I love that like a baby too. Unfortunately, I can’t devote all of my attention to any of them right now so I’m trying my best to at least give each one a hug whenever I can. Being a daddy is no easy task.

   Then there’s The King of Uranus. That whole project has completely come to a halt, and that’s not at all to my satisfaction. I know it’s a goofy idea, but it too has enormous potential. I get that reminder every single day when someone behind me in traffic snaps a picture of my license plate and bumper sticker with a big grin on their face. That idea could be the biggest of them all, but if I don’t do my due diligence as a father that baby will die. They all could, and that’s why my time needs to be spent wisely. I’d hate to see any of these ideas die. It’s up to me to give them breath.

Schlitz Times Six

April 22, 2013

Saturday April 20th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   Tonight was round three of the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ experiment, and things are still looking up in every direction. Both shows were once again well attended, and audiences tonight were better than last week’s by far. These people were exactly who the show was meant for, and they got it.

   A big part of the reason was that I had a lot of friends come out to each show. I’m flattered and grateful they came to support, but unfortunately I can’t depend on that for the long term. If this is going to fly with eagles I will have to find a way to get strangers to come and keep coming back.

   That’s not to say strangers didn’t show up tonight – they totally did. They were into what I was doing, and it gave me hope that I actually do have a winning product that has some legs. I have a very long way to go though, and I know it. But at least I feel all my sweat effort will be worth it. 

   These shows were only numbers 5 and 6, but I could feel significant growth and improvements from the other four and I’m sure I will next week also. There are all kinds of ingredients required to create a finished product of anything, and this is nowhere close to being a finished product yet.     

   This is the time for trial and error and refinement, and that’s what I’m doing. My friends aren’t going to be the ones to put this show over, but unfortunately they’re the ones who have to watch the baby’s first steps. They’re usually not smooth, even though it can be fun to watch it firsthand.  

   I’m still very much in the baby steps phase of this project. I see a clear vision in my mind’s eye of where I want it to go, but I’m nowhere close to that now. Right now I’m just trying to increase my stage wind to be able to do a consistently entertaining hour and twenty minutes at one stretch. That alone is a challenge, not to mention trying to establish a well fitting running order for it all.

   I have said it each week so far and I will continue, I am NOT about to get cocky any time soon even though I am very encouraged with the direction it’s all going. All I had to do with anything is come up with the initial concept. I’ve had help from everyone else, and that’s why it’s working so well. Everyone at Potawatomi has been super supportive, as have all my Milwaukee friends.

   Tonight’s shows were especially packed with friendly faces, and I was happy to see every one of them. My godmother Anita Baumann brought some people, and she’s always been supportive of everything I’ve done. She always sent birthday and Christmas cards when I was a kid, and I’ll never forget her for that. How many godmothers and godfathers keep it up for an entire lifetime?   

   Vicki Quade drove up from Chicago to attend, and brought a friend of hers who is in charge of another theatre in the Milwaukee area. Vicki is very successful with her own shows about being Catholic like “Put the Nuns in Charge” and “Late Night Catechism”. Vicki has been there from the start to offer encouragement, and I know she’ll have ideas to make the show that much better. 

   If I start naming all the others who showed up, I’ll leave someone out and I’ll feel embarrassed. I felt like I was at a wedding after the show as I was shaking a long line of hands from David Lee and Mark Krueger and their wives from my old 93QFM days to a lot of people I’d either worked or gone to school with and every one of them was grinning from ear to ear with nothing but great things to say about the show. I really think they meant it too, but even if they didn’t I was glad to hear it all. This is what any performer dreams of, but even though it was a fantastic experience it doesn’t change the fact I’ve still got a lot of work ahead. Six shows in, I’m just getting started.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

The Wrong Planet

April 21, 2013

Friday April 19th, 2013 – Chicago, IL   

   I’m having serious doubts as to the logical order of the universe, and I have to admit it’s taking away any and all faith I had in a God. Whatever God is, it’s not what I was told as a kid and I am left with a giant hole in my psyche that’s filled with disappointment and unanswered questions.

   The ugly situation in Boston set me off, and it was on the radio all day as I drove around trying to get errands done. It was on constantly, and every station was making mention of it at least to a degree. Even the music stations were giving updates, so I gave in and followed the chase myself.

   I still can’t understand how the world can have such an insidious side, and the more I followed the story the more it disgusted me. Why useless wastes of DNA like this are allowed to make life miserable for so many is beyond my comprehension. And in the end, where is any fairness at all?

   The older brother (Idiot #1) is dead – and nobody is sorry – but now Idiot #2 is captured and he will be nursed back to health at the public expense to face a trial, and then housed and fed on our nickel for the rest of his natural days. I can’t wrap my tiny brain around any of this, and I’m tired of seeing stories like this happen over and over and over again. None of this makes sense to me.

   I’ve said it many times before and I still feel strongly, I am on the wrong planet. Somehow I’ve taken a cosmic detour to this stench ridden space pebble while the spaceship bound for my planet is missing a passenger. The more I see how things are handled here, the more I want to go home.

   This really bummed me out, but then again I couldn’t stop listening. How one idiot could elude thousands of alleged law enforcement professionals is absolutely fascinating. How could it take a whole day to find this puke? It did, and it made hundreds of thousands of people’s lives difficult.

   Something is wrong deep to the core, but nobody seems to want to discuss it. What could make anyone so heartless as to hurt and kill so many innocent people for no apparent reason? I always hear “that’s the world we live in now.” Now? No, I think it was always like this. That’s my issue.

   Look at Charles Manson and his pals. They went on their little spree in the ‘60s, and it wasn’t a new thing then either. Terror and atrocities have gone on since the beginning of time. Why won’t God protect innocent victims, or at least help us weed all the bad seeds out of our genetic stash?

   I am SO sick of hearing “it’s free will” and “we’ve just gotta have faith.”  My puckering poop shoot. Ask the people in Boston who just lost limbs about any of that. I’m sure they’re delighted to be included in the big heavenly plan. Charles Manson is still alive, but an 8 year old kid isn’t.

   Sorry, this just isn’t right to me. If there is a bigger plan somewhere, I’m not seeing it and it’s a painful experience wandering around a planet where things are getting worse and not better.  I’ve always tried to do the right thing, and I know millions of others do too – but it doesn’t seem to do any good. The bad in the world always seems to wipe out the good, and everyone is worse for it.

   They eventually captured Idiot #2, and even though everyone on the radio seemed to be feeling good about it, I had a hollow feeling inside as I knew this wouldn’t be the last time something as dramatic as this would capture everyone’s attention in the media. It won’t, and the next time this happens I’ll feel disgusted all over again. This is not the kind of place I would have chosen to be my home, and if there is some kind of a God somewhere I hope He or She gets this thing fixed.