Posts Tagged ‘Gurnee Mills Mall’

Gruntin’, Gaspin’ And Wheezin’

March 22, 2014

Wednesday March 19th, 2014 – Gurnee, IL/Island Lake, IL

Where did my youthful exuberance go? Instead of lovin’, touchin’ and squeezin’, I’m gruntin’, gaspin’ and wheezin’. The years are catching up with me, and there’s nothing I can do but fight it tooth and nail while I still have teeth and/or nails. Old age is on the way but only if I work for it.

How did all this happen so quickly? I was too busy with crisis management to enjoy my young buck years, and now that I’m finally starting to figure things out a little there are a whole new set of challenges ahead. This life thing is no easy video game, and the levels change dramatically.

Today I got myself up early and forced myself to get some exercise by taking two grueling laps at my favorite walking track the Gurnee Mills Mall. I used to go there regularly, and I could feel the results over time. It’s a huge mall with twists, turns and offshoots that make things interesting for a walker. There are things to look at throughout the route, and it’s not just a boring treadmill.

Unfortunately, I’ve moved farther and farther away in the last few years, and now it’s a 25 mile trip one way. That sucks up way too much time to drive back and forth, not to mention gas at the cut rate price of $4 a gallon these days. If I lived closer I’d go every day, but that’s not an option.

I absolutely need to get back in a steady exercise groove though, and I have been concentrating on it since my birthday. The weather has been a little nicer than the polar vortex conditions we’re used to this winter, and that’s part of the reason I fell out of my groove. Another part is that it’s a big time commitment of time and energy to work out every day when I am on the road working.

The road life and regular exercise is about as good a fit as the Kardashians and long marriages. I do try to make time when I can, but many times I just can’t. I know that wouldn’t be an excuse if my heart pops like a zit, but in the real world that’s how it is. Pick your poison – earn a living by working at what you know how to do, or have zero income at all but stay home and stay fit.

I wish it were an easier fit, but it just isn’t. Most of my morning was shot by the time I drove to the mall, did my two full laps, went to have a healthy breakfast and then drove home to hose off in the shower. Who has that kind of time every day? Right now it isn’t me, but today I forced it.

A good walk like that usually keeps me sore for a couple of days, and I’m tender already. I feel it in my legs and can barely stand up, but it’s good soreness and I know I need to feel this pain as much as I can for the rest of my life. It takes conscious effort now, whereas in my youth it didn’t.

I used to walk all over the place and not even think about it. Now I have to plan it out before I do it, and force it into being part of my day. Is it fun? Unfortunately no, but I don’t think having a heart attack would be party time. This is part of the aging process, and I see that and accept it.

As the weather breaks, I’ll get out and walk a lot more around where I’m living. There aren’t a lot of walking paths like there were at my last place, but I won’t be here that long so hopefully it will only be a temporary hurdle. I did it up right today, but it’s only a day. It has to become habit.

Two laps through the Gurnee Mills Mall, and I was ready to call an ambulance.

Two laps through the Gurnee Mills Mall today, and I was ready to call an ambulance.


Shave And A Haircut

April 22, 2010

Wednesday April 21st, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

Since I blew my chances to both rest up or accomplish anything productive yesterday, it felt extra good to kick it up a notch and get a lot done today. The weather was spectacular and these kind of days don’t come along very often around these parts. I enjoyed all of it.

I used today as a rebooting day to mentally start over. I finally got around to the gigantic mountain of laundry that’s been fermenting in front of me for weeks if not months, and it always feels good to get that out of the way. I have a backlog of socks and underwear and shirts that keep me from having to do laundry every week, so when I do it’s a major deal.

The woman I rent from told me I could use her washing machine, but I choose not to do that. I’m used to going to a Laundromat, and it’s actually quicker. I do it all at once and it ends up not taking that long at all. Usually three washers and three dryers gets it all done.

Road comics are used to doing laundry on the run. I wish I could count how many times I have had to stop at some strip mall between Albuquerque and Zanesville to scrub up my grundies for another week of road touring. Sometimes I’ll just buy cheap traveling clothes at thrift stores and wear them until they’re funky and then toss them. That’s a lot cheaper.

It’s also hassle free. One time I was in a restaurant and someone bumped a waitress who in turn spilled a big plate of spaghetti all over the front of my shirt. It was a chain reaction and obviously an accident but when it happened I could feel everyone’s eyes on me. I saw the look of terror on the waitress’s face, but I just laughed out loud and calmed her down.

The shirt I was wearing probably cost $1 at the most, and it was no big deal. It was very funny to see everyone turn and look at me, just like a scene in a movie. The manager said he’d pay for the cleaning bill, but I couldn’t do that. It wouldn’t feel right. I just tossed the shirt and put on the spare I always carry with me in my car. It comes in handy quite often.

I also got a haircut today and had my bean sheared pretty good. I had my hair quite a bit longer than I’m used to wearing it and there was a big pile on the floor when I was done. I wanted it a little shorter this time just to symbolize a renewal of attitude. It’ll grow back.

My friend and former comedy student Karl Newyear lives in Waukegan and invited me to dinner at The Quonset on Grand Avenue. They have outstanding pizza and we sat and talked about basketball, since Karl played and is a big fan. It’s always fun to talk sports.

Karl has a great comedy angle. He’s “The World’s Funniest Lutheran”. Great gimmick. He hasn’t been hitting it as hard because he has a day job, and in this economy that’s not a bad thing. Like many people, he does comedy part time when he can. That’s totally fine.

Everything was laid back and easy today. I have a load of clean clothes and a three state killing spree haircut and I even made time to do a lap in the Gurnee Mills Mall to try and restart my exercise experiment. All in all, it was a productive day. I rebooted my attitude.

Exercising My Options

February 26, 2010

Thursday February 25th, 2010 – Gurnee, IL

The struggle for balance continues, but I’m making progress. First things first, I crawled out of the rack and got to the mall to get my laps in early.  I could walk near home and get results, but I like the mall. The temperature is controlled and at least there’s scenery to see other than some enormous sweat soaked ass on a stationery bike in front of me at a gym.

Gurnee Mills Mall is about seven miles away, but getting there can be a hassle. Traffic tends to back up as there are all kinds of unsynchronized lights, but I like to walk there so that’s where I do it. It’s long and flat and two laps is a nice workout. Three is a marathon, and if I ever decide to do four I should just apply for the job as a security guard already.

Walking is good exercise and I’m not alone in doing it. The others there aren’t all just a pack of dried up blue haired walking dead either, there’s actually a nice mix of people I’ll see depending on when I show up. The earlier I get there, the more I realize I’m not alone in a quest to at least attempt to get in some kind of shape. It takes effort to show up daily.

By the time I drive there and drive back and do a 45 minute to hour walk or more, it’s a significant outlay of time spent and it shrinks my work day. I suppose my heart blowing a gasket would shrink my work day even more – down to zero. Exercise is an investment in having some kind of a quality future that doesn’t involve being plugged in to a machine.

I’ve really been lax on exercising for many years, and unless I change my ways for good it WILL catch up with me. Nobody can live a sedentary lifestyle that long and then expect perfect health, especially with a diet loaded with sugar, grease, salt, chemicals and cheese.

I never smoke, drank or did drugs, but I’ll be just as dead as if I did if a major backup of butter and beef jerky residue clogs my aorta and I nod out on my steering wheel in a drive thru window somewhere. I’ve had a free ride for too long and I’m tempting the fates daily if I keep doing it. The body can take only so much – I don’t want to determine that total.

It would be a shame to have come so far in my life from so little, only to croak from not taking care of myself – something that is totally in my control. A lot of the other stuff I’ve had to deal with had nothing to do with me, and I still overcame it. This has everything to do with me, as everyone has a choice in what they put in their mouth or if they exercise.

If there’s anything comforting about this, I’m by far not alone in this struggle. Millions of Americans have this same situation, and it’s not easy to fix it in a short time. It’s been years of packing pizza and greasy burgers and fries and anything with mayonnaise down my gullet, and making it even worse by rotting in front of a TV and not exercising at all.

A few days in a row of walking a couple of laps in a mall isn’t going to turn me into the finely tuned world class athlete I never was, and I sure have lost a lot of the natural health and vigor I had in my teens and twenties. My home state of Wisconsin is the lard ass and love handle capital of the solar system, and I don’t want to perpetuate that trait anymore.

Unfortunately, exercising every day for a whole hour isn’t going to be easy. It’s just not. I have a lot of things going, and sometimes I can’t spare the time it takes to get to the mall and walk, get back home and shower up and then tend to my business. Some days will not allow that time, and I have to accept that and not beat myself up for it. That’s how life is.

Still, getting to the point where more often than not I do get some sort of exercise in is a place I am going to go. Period. I know I need to do it the older I get, and if that’s the thing that actually does kill me, it’ll make a funny story to tell. “Did you hear about Mr. Lucky? He started exercising and that’s what killed him.” I have to admit, that fits my character.

But, that’s only a stage character. I’ve said it before and it’s true – playing Mr. Lucky on stage is great fun. And it is. BEING him in real life is a nightmare. I’m starting to separate the two a lot better than I ever have and my off stage life is a lot more stable because of it.

I’m also pumped about doing this one man show about Milwaukee. Things are fitting in perfectly, and I can feel good things on the horizon by the day. I’m working with familiar people I’ve known for years, and they’re coming on board. Richard Halasz is a comedian who is doing some booking of shows, and I trust him. He’s honest and ethical to a fault.

Richard is the one who approached me about performing the show in Saukville, WI at a venue he’s booked before called The Railroad Station. I’m there March 13th, and he’s put a ton of effort into promoting it. I got a call today from a radio station in Fond Du Lac and they’re going to put me on next week to promote it. Plus, Richard made some great flyers.

I’ve also been approached about doing a big grand opening premiere show October 1st, and I’m excited to hear it. I will use that date to record either a CD, DVD or both and it’ll be something to promote all summer as I get my ducks in order and prepare the product.

I’m going to call in every local favor I can, but it’s already starting to come my way. It’s amazing how word is getting out, and I’m getting calls from all over. I got one today from my old friend Aye Jaye. He used to be Ronald McDonald for years and he’s now living in Los Angeles and still entertaining. That guy is a true character, and I mean it with respect.

When I had my first near fatal car wreck in 1993, Aye Jaye mailed me a check for $100 and I never forgot him for it. That $100 couldn’t have come at a better time and it paid for a lot of frivolous luxury items like…FOOD. He helped me when I needed it the most and I’ve never forgotten that. He added a bunch of fantastic suggestions I know I’ll include.

People like Richard Halasz and Aye Jaye and Ron Lee who used to produce shows back at Teddy’s in the ‘80s are going to help put this project over the top. Also, long time good friends like Drew Olson, Ted Perry, Steve ‘The Homer’ True and more will also pitch in.

I’m doing things right for once, and it feels SO good to see it come together after many years of frustration and failure. This is going to work! I can feel it. I’d hate to lose all this because I didn’t spend time exercising and blew my heart up like a five cent firecracker.

Dogging My Walks

February 3, 2010

Tuesday February 2nd, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

I have no comedy shows booked for this week, but that doesn’t mean I have a week off. Not by a long shot. I am up to my Adam’s apple in everything and anything that needs to be done and this is the time to kick it in the aspirations and get it going. Time for action.

I’m proud of myself for finally getting back into the walking mode. I took one lap in the Gurnee Mills Mall and thought my heart was going to explode. It’s amazing how difficult it is to get a groove going and build up a tolerance and then how easy it is to lose it again.

It seems like I’ve taken countless laps in that mall, and I have, but today it felt like none of them were in this lifetime and I am starting ALL over again. Maybe I am. Still, I know I need to do it so every day I get out there and make an effort is a positive. If I do have the final grabber and keel over, I won’t be angry. At least I was making an effort to exercise.

One day does not an effort make however. I need to do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. Then three more days will make a week. Then the next day is the start of a new one. Four weeks become a month, twelve months become a year, then it evolves into a lifetime. None of that can happen without the first day, and that was today.

I’ve had countless first days in the past. I’m not going to get too excited. The real key is being consistent for the rest of the year. January slipped by with little warning and I didn’t walk nearly as much as I need to. It’s cruel. Life goes fast, and I need to make time for the things like this that aren’t necessarily fun. But, heart bypass surgery seems even less fun.

I tied up a mess o’ loose ends today. I finally finished the book “Tangled Ropes”, about professional wrestler Superstar Billy Graham. That guy was a master showman but he had a huge price to pay by taking steroids and ruining his health. It was a fascinating book and I gained a lot of insight from re-reading it. Entertainment is a brutal business on all levels.

I’m also devouring the in depth CD interviews with the comedian masters I purchased from Larry Wilde. I’ve gone through all twelve of them at least once, and now I’ll listen a second time and glean the nuggets and make notes. They’re all packed with information a fellow performer can use, no matter what the level of expertise. I learned from each one.

I put a little dent in my email pile today and also made some phone calls I’ve fallen way behind on lately. I’m not going to catch up in one day, but at least I made some effort so it doesn’t hover over me like a thunder cloud. I’m doing what I can, and that’s all I can do.

Another thing that’s been bothering me is Uranus Factory Outlet. I needed to look over about 1000 fonts my web guy Mark sent me and pick one out to get started. I did pick one previously, but that one doesn’t show up well. The ‘U’ in Uranus looks just like a ‘V’. To really make this work, everything has to be very simple and easy to navigate. I’m trying to attract the masses with this, and for now I need to stay away from anything too confusing, complicated or hip. Inside jokes are cool, but I need this to be a hit with a mass audience.

Goodbye January

February 1, 2010

Sunday January 31st, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

What happened to the new year we just started? It seems like just last week we were all jazzed up about new beginnings and wiping the slate clean and everybody was optimistic about everything. We were all going to eat better and exercise and save money and begin living our dreams and nothing and nobody was going to stop us. So who did? Ourselves.

Maybe I can’t speak for everyone else, but I sure can speak for me. I have been halfway decent about doing SOME of the things I’ve wanted to do, but I’m far from satisfied as to what I want to be doing with my life as a whole. I’ve fallen short of my new year’s goals.

This isn’t the first time I’ve done that, and it’s not the first time I’ve been disappointed. Maybe my standards are too high to achieve realistically, but I’m sure not going to lower them any time soon. If anything, I’ll bump them up even higher. I don’t want second best.

I’ve done some good things in this first month of 2010, but I’ve also let some things fall through the cracks. I suppose I could beat myself up for the things I blew, but they’re still going to be blown. I could also bask in the things I did well, but I still have holes to fill.

The smart thing is to do both. Acknowledge the things I did correctly first, then evaluate what I missed and make plans to improve. Knowing me, I need to start writing everything down in order so I’ll have a plan of action right in front of my face at all times. I need that so I can have a constant reminder what I need to be doing. I have a tendency to fragment.

The highlight of this whole month has been my comedy work onstage. From the shows in Eau Claire, WI on New Year’s Eve to the hot show at The Schauer Center in Hartford, WI with Steve DeClark to the club weeks at Riddles in Alsip, IL and Zanies in St. Charles at the Pheasant Run Resort, it’s been a fantastic month. I’ve been happy with my effort.

I also got a chance to be in the play “You’re On The Air” with Jerry’s Kidders too. That was a positive on many levels. One, it was just plain fun. Also, we brought an idea to life from just a bunch of people sitting around brainstorming to an actual live performance at a legitimate theater. That was a huge step, and it felt great to see it develop from thin air.

I did make steps to get Uranus Factory Outlet up and running by meeting with web guy Mark Huelskamp, and that’s coming along as we speak. I saw his rough draft and it’s not exactly what I want, but that’s the process. My other guy Brian did the same thing, and it isn’t anyone’s fault. I need to learn to communicate how I want it to look. It’ll get done.

That’s about all that I really did well this month. I’ve been running all over the place in a tizzy trying to show up for work, and everything else has fallen by the wayside. My life and everything in it looks like Haiti, but at least they have an excuse. I had no earthquake to put me in this situation, I did it myself. I’ve been so busy chasing around that all of my maintenance chores have fallen way behind. Emails are piled up worse than ever, as are a bunch of phone calls I need to return. I have no real schedule as to when to do that either.

That’s why it can tend to get so frustrating. I’ve been so busy with doing everything else that this stuff piles up. The more I look at it the more it frustrates me, but then I’ll have to leave for a gig or run an errand and it goes even longer. I need to find a way to get better.

Another thing that has fallen off the truck is my feeble attempt at daily exercise. Usually it consisted of a lap or two or sometimes even three through the Gurnee Mills Mall, and I have to say it felt really great when I was in a semi regular groove with it. I start and stop and start again and stop again and then it’s like I never started. That’s how it feels now.

My diet has been pretty bad too. I started out rather strong, but it’s a month later and it’s all over the place again. Whatever plan I did have is gone, and I feel sluggish and way out of anything even close to ‘shape’. Again, that takes any self esteem and kicks it in the ass.

There are a lot more things not up to speed in my life than are, at least how I see it. That makes it difficult to get into any kind of a positive groove. Momentum can work for good if things are going that way, but right now I don’t feel it at all. I feel like I’m wandering.

January is now gone, and it wasn’t everything I wanted it to be. It went way to fast and I pissed some of it away wasting time. I’ll never get that time back, and I can either make it motivate me to make February better or let it smother me and squelch any future dreams.

February is the shortest month, and my birthday month is after that. My birthday is only six weeks away, and if I keep up my current strategy I’ll be very depressed and hollow on that day, as nothing will have gotten done between now and then. I really don’t want that.

So what can I do to make this next six weeks my own personal boot camp? First, I need a plan of action. What’s important? At first thought, it’s balance. I have so many things to work on, I really don’t know where to start. I had some great shows in January, but I have a pretty empty calendar in February by comparison. I have a few bookings, but not many.

I’ll take that as a positive. The bookings I do have will pay my rent and gas, and if I can get myself in motion I can make some dents in what I’ve been letting get away lately. I’ve been putting this all off too long, and it’s time to get to work. No excuses, I’m in a slump.

First and foremost, I want to exercise every day in February. Period. I enjoy taking laps in the mall like an old fart, partly because I’m becoming an old fart. If I’m lucky, I’ll live to really be one. If I keep eating lard, sugar and grease, my heart will pop before Easter.

Second, I need to make time to clean out my paperwork, phone messages, emails, taxes, bookings, website, clutter and anything else that is distracting me. I have six weeks to get ready for my birthday and a truly happy one will be if I can get myself back to square one.

Can I do it? Yes, I probably can. That’s not the question. It’s WILL I do it? I wish I had a way to guarantee that one. I intended to get a lot more done in January than I did, but all bets are now off. I blew it, or at least part of it. February is now here. Time to look ahead.