Posts Tagged ‘Toyota Camry’

That Midas Touch

August 23, 2013

Thursday August 22nd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I truly do have the Midas touch in life. Everything I touch turns to mufflers. I thought I’d found my way around that hassle at least for a little while, but when I started my car this morning I was greeted by that loud annoying noise of unquestionable familiarity. My car sounds like a Cessna.

   I know this is part of buying a used car, but this is the last thing I need right now. I’m on a very tight summer budget these days, and don’t have any extra cash to be throwing around on exhaust systems. The last one that fell off cost me $850. I still haven’t sold that turd, but even if I do I am never going to recoup that money for the exhaust system. It turns my stomach to think about it.

   I’m afraid to even have it looked at. They’re going to run the scam past me that I’ll need a new whizzenfluffer flange on my doo hickey pipe, but they don’t make those anymore so they’ll have to custom ship one in on a slow boat from the Congo. It will be made of pure ivory and cost only $3000 – plus 6 hours of labor from the specialist they will have to fly in from Japan to install it.

   I really like the Toyota Camry I bought, but it’s going to be a real killer financially. I juiced up my credit card all the way to buy it, as that was my only option at the time. I used to have a fund for repairs, but my little hospital fiasco in 2011 ended up totally wiping me out. I’m SO screwed.

   The car is very clean, and it had new tires, brakes, battery and a tune up when I bought it. It has extremely low miles for its age, and I assumed I’d have a trouble free car for a while. Having this jump out of nowhere put me in a foul mood, but there’s not much I can do about it. Life is cruel.

   I’ve been working my ball joints off of late doing all the shows I can find, and also working on all kinds of side projects that I am hoping at least one of eventually pays off financially. I’ve put it all on the line for so many years that I would have thought something should have hit by now.

   How many lumps can one guy take? I’m reaching my limit. I tried to turn my radio up loud all day, but it didn’t cover up the noise. It’s like taking a ‘French whore’ shower. Putting all the pit spray or cheap cologne on in the world won’t eliminate the stench of not having taken a shower.

   I’m trying hard to be a good person, I really am. I go out of my way to help others when I don’t have to, and have tried to make the world a better place than when I found it. One would think if there was some kind of higher power He or She would take that into consideration and cut me at least a little break. What the hell else do I have to do? All I’m asking for is relief from the storm.

   What makes this even more stressful is that I’m going into a period of even more instability for the next week or so. I’ve got three nights in a row that are door deals, and that could mean a total washout with zero cash. I took chances in three different places, and I can’t say what will happen or if even one paying customer will show up. Sometimes that’s how it works out, and this is it.

   I am at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL next Friday doing a storytelling show as requested by my friend Dave Hendrickson. He thinks that’s a hot thing right now, and I hope he’s right. I’ll cross my fingers, but I don’t know. Saturday I am working another door deal in Homewood, IL.

   Another friend Dave Rudolf is a musician and wants to try a comedy night at a music club. It’s a small room from what he tells me, and even if it fills I won’t make big money. It’s called “The Twisted Q”, but if nobody comes out it’s twisted bankruptcy. I could sure use a break right now.

Boston Crabby

April 17, 2013

Monday April 15th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I don’t know what happened, but today was a train wreck on many levels. For some mysterious reason, all hell decided to break loose at once and I have no idea why. I have been in a very good groove for the most part over the last several months, feeling as happy as I ever have in my life.

   My daily vibe has been looking up on a consistent basis, and I haven’t had any rough stretches for a long time. Life has actually been great fun – exactly how I pictured it when I was a kid. I am not naïve enough to think there wouldn’t be downswing, but I sure wasn’t looking forward to it.

   Today happened to be ‘one of those days’ from the start, and it finished worse. The first glitch I encountered was the transmission in my car slipping noticeably. That car has given me nothing but trouble since I got it for free, and I’m about ready to set it on fire and watch it burn to a crisp.

   It’s almost time to switch it out for the Toyota Camry I have in storage, but I wanted to stretch as many miles out of it as I could to at least try to get back some of the money I had to pour into it to get it running. The whole idea was a big mistake, and I’m going to lose in the end anyway.

   Then it’s tax day. I don’t know how I managed to mangle that yet again, but I did. I thought I’d solved my problems, but I had to again tell my accountant to file an extension because I couldn’t get all the paperwork to him in time. I’m a lot better than I have been in the past, but still behind.

   What throws me off is that I have to wait for places I worked to send me a 1099 form. They are supposed to do it by January 31st, but there are always those that don’t and that in turn puts me in the trick bag and before I know it it’s April 15th and I’m behind yet again. I always report 100% of whatever I make – cash included – as I don’t need any IRS trouble over my meager earnings.

   I’d much rather have a clear conscience and be up front about every nickel I make, but it’s hard to get every place I work to stay up to date. I need to keep better records myself, and I have been, but I’m still not there yet. I’ll get it done, but I’ve been on the road so much I fell behind – again.

   All this is baby poo compared to what happened in Boston today. There were some explosions at the Boston Marathon that killed a few people and severely wounded a lot more. Whenever this kind of thing happens, it puts me in a foul mood to the point I don’t even want to turn on the TV.

   I can’t figure out what’s wrong with people, and times like this disgust me to the core. I’ve said forever there are all kinds of people I can’t stand, but I never had any intention of killing anyone. I’ve always been a proponent of just living a life out of touch of anyone with whom I can’t stand.

   There’s no reason to get violent with anyone – especially innocent people who have nothing to do with whatever issue there may be. That appears to be the case in Boston, and it makes me feel sick to my stomach. It’s all so unnecessary and I wish it would stop, but I think it’s just starting.

   This is all extremely fishy, much like 9/11. I have a hard time believing it was just one random act, and it’s going to set off another string of events to further put the squeeze on any freedom we as Americans may have left. Somebody somewhere has got an agenda of evil, and innocent folks have to pay with their lives to move it forward. That’s not how life should work, but I don’t have a say in it on a bigger picture but my own life. I was on a major positive upswing – and I guess I still am – but stories like this sure make it hard to stay there. My heart goes out to all the victims.

Deals On Wheels

January 29, 2013

Friday January 25th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Sometimes the right thing to do is to cut one’s losses and move on. That’s something I have not been willing to do as often as I should have in my life, and it’s only brought more heartache upon situations that have already proven to be losing propositions. It’s time to try something different.

This nightmare situation with my ‘free’ car has been a flat out disaster. Well meaning intention or not, I just can’t afford to keep getting kicked in the ball joints like I have been and I need to go in another direction. I’ve painted myself into a financial corner and this couldn’t come at a worse time, but when is a good time for any problem? They show up like bad relatives that won’t leave.

I’ve been keeping my eye out for a different car of late, and I found it. There are no guarantees with any used car unfortunately, but this is a calculated risk I feel I have to take. I need to have a dependable car to get to gigs, and also as a self esteem builder. Driving ratty cars is getting old.

My plan had been to drive the ’94 Nissan for at least a year, and save some money to move up the food chain and buy something at least halfway decent. My credit is so far in the toilet I doubt I’ll be able to get a car loan in this lifetime or the next, but that’s where it sits. I’m in a tight spot.

The car I found is an extra clean 1995 Toyota Camry. It’s only got 95,000 miles on it, and it’s a one owner car from Wisconsin of all places. There are written records of all the maintenance that was performed and the original owner took it to a Toyota dealer exclusively. It’s been cared for.

I’ve had several Toyotas from that era, and loved every one of them. They handle well, and get great gas mileage. The only reason I got rid of any them was that they were hit and totaled out by the insurance company. Had that not occurred, I’d probably still be driving one to this very day.

There’s no guarantee this one won’t get plowed into as well, but I am going to roll the dice and go deep into debt to get it anyway. I’m juicing up my credit card as far as it will go, and I haven’t been one to do that as a rule. I’ve saved it for emergency situations, but this is starting to qualify.

It was getting to the point where I was sticking more into that Nissan than if I’d had a loan on a brand spanking new Cadillac, and I just can’t see that continuing. I’ll send the Nissan through the auction, and that will go to pay off the credit card. I’d prefer not to do it that way, but right now I have no other choice. This is an opportunity I feel I need to jump on, and I’m not going to flinch.

I can’t help but be reminded of the people who owe me money from years ago, and if I had that I could have paid cash for the Toyota and had money left over to throw at my IRS bill which also needs to get paid sooner than later. This is a very painful lesson, but rather than stew in what I’ve blown in the past I need to forge ahead and get myself out from under this mess. It’s a tough test.

In the short run, this is a stressful pain in my differential. The last thing I want to be doing right now is farting around with changing cars – especially in the winter – but in the long run I feel I’m  making the right choice and hopefully it will free me up to keep myself on a good track for 2013.

Cross My Hartford

January 9, 2010

Friday January 8th, 2010 – Hartford, WI

I finally got my car situation taken care of. I hope. I was wrong about the fuel pump, it’s the distributor, wires and plugs. Apparently that’s one of the few things that seem to be an issue with Toyota Camry models from 1993, or at least that’s what the mechanic told me.

The bill came to $550, and that seemed quite high for a distributor and wires, but that’s how it is when you’re living the cockroach lifestyle and take chances like this. Some time or another everyone ends up paying, whether it’s buying a new car or nursing an old one.

I feel like I’m at an animal shelter trying to rescue pets. There aren’t many cute puppies left to choose from, I’m just looking for something that won’t die on the way home. After this whole Cash For Clunkers thing has drained my supply of cheap cars, I’m lucky to get the one I did. Still, it’s a Toyota Camry, and even if it has high miles it’s still a smart bet.

Just because I sprung for the money doesn’t guarantee it will last past tomorrow. I could get stung over and over again but I don’t want to think about that. I need this chariot to be faithful for at least a year, and that’s my plan going in. I’ve still only got $1750 tied up for a total investment, and that’s pretty cheap. But, things can add up quickly. It’s a gamble.

Part of me wouldn’t know what to do with a nice car. I’ve had them before, and paid all my loans off early. Unfortunately, I put so many miles on cars that I never had anything to show for them once I did pay them off. That and the credit nightmare of losing my house in Utah have kept me fishing cars out of the auction for the last ten years. I’m used to it.

I’m rapidly tiring of having to deal with these surprises. Yes, I do enjoy going to the car auction but not under these circumstances. If I were finding a second car for someone else or a toy for myself, it would be straight fun. When I need dependable wheels, it’s stressful to have one take a splattering poo in the dead of winter. But, that’s how it’s worked out.

All of it seems to be under control, at least for the moment. I ended up making it to my gig last night in Wisconsin Dells and tonight I made it up to Hartford, WI for a really fun show at a place called The Schauer Arts And Activities Center. It was a fantastic night.

My friend Steve DeClark booked this show because he and Jane Matenaer did their play about marriage there. Jane is a long time Milwaukee radio personality who grew up out in Hartford and I’ve know her for years too. She’s very talented and I always respected her.

The venue promoted it well and it was totally sold out. I had to stand way in the back in the corner to watch Steve’s set, and I’m thrilled to have had that problem. Normally, there are seats available when Mr. Lucky is performing, no matter how frustrating that may be.

Not so tonight. This was a big hit from top to bottom. The venue was happy with us and I was thrilled with the venue. The sound was excellent, as were the lights. The whole staff treated us very well and the audience came to laugh. I tried to think of what was missing.

Then, it dawned on me: drunken idiots. There were no drunken idiots at this show and it felt SO good to not have to deal with that for a change. I didn’t realize it until I was up on stage, but when I did I knew I liked this better. I’ve fought drunks in clubs my whole life.

THIS is the kind of venue I need to be working. It was top notch on all levels. The pay I got tonight was more than I got for my entire infamous week at Giggles in Brookfield and there was absolutely zero stress to go with it. The check didn’t bounce tonight because no checks were involved. I got paid in cash, like I’m supposed to. It was very professional.

Those apes at Giggles and Comedy Café both did me a huge favor by pulling those dirty stunts they did. Bouncing checks to comedians is inexcusable, and not only that they were mean spirited in how they handled it. Both of those clubs are run by halfwits, and I’m SO glad I don’t have to go back there anymore. The karma train will see they both get theirs.

Tonight’s experience was nothing at all like that. It was a transformation. I knew it from the first thirty seconds on stage. I was home. The people were there to listen, so I used my local reference lexicon as much as I could and it was a bull‘s eye. I said the name of what I want to call my one man show about Milwaukee and they applauded. They totally got it.

This is all extremely encouraging. If I had to do shows like this every weekend, my life would be a lot less stressful. It was a short drive, I hung with friends and a full house was laughing hard the whole time. I ended up doing exactly one solid hour and that’s another very encouraging accomplishment. I’m really starting to stretch my comedy boundaries.

The normal headliner spot in a comedy club is about 45 minutes. Believe me, that’s NO easy task. It’s especially hard to have to follow two mediocre inexperienced acts and have to deal with a room full of boozed up maniacs who got in for free. I’ve never enjoyed that part and it’s getting worse. Nobody polices the rooms anymore and it’s an absolute zoo.

Nobody had to do any policing tonight, and in fact the ushers all gathered in the back of the room and were watching the show. I could see them from the stage, and they laughed as hard or harder than the paying customers. That’s another thing, people PAID to see the show tonight. They made an investment and were very polite and let me pay them back.

I can’t say enough good things about the whole experience tonight. Steve DeClark is an excellent promoter and every show I do with him gets easier and easier. He gets to keep a finger on performing while still making a few bucks for himself. What’s wrong with that?

I get to show up and go up. In a perfect world, that’s all I ever want to have to do. If any promoter can make a few bucks, I’m all for it. I know Steve isn’t raping me like the clubs used to, but they do it to all the comics. We’re just meat to them. This was our own baby.

More than ever, I know I can pull off a locally based show. The audience for it was here tonight. There are thousands of these people all over the Milwaukee area, and they’ll love the show. This is the most fun I’ve had on stage since…last night. I’m on a positive roll.

New Year, Old Luck

January 7, 2010

Wednesday January 6, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

Tick, tick, tick, BOOM. Off went the time bomb on my new old Toyota today, right as I was on my way to play practice with Jerry’s Kidders. I was going to check my post office box for mail before heading over to Jerry’s house, and the car just shut off. I tried starting it again, and it cranked over but wouldn’t start. My experience says the fuel pump puked.

I could be wrong, but I won’t find out until tomorrow one way or another. There’s a tiny two stall garage a few blocks from both the post office and where I live, so that’s where it made the most sense to have it get looked at. The guy said he could do it and promised to get back to me as soon as he knew something. The whole day went by and he didn’t call.

Now I’ve got a situation, as I need to be in the Wisconsin Dells for a show tomorrow at 8pm. I had it pop up out of nowhere and was thrilled to get the extra money. Ha! Now it’s probably going to all go not only into the Toyota, but into a rental to get back and forth.

Not only that, to toss in just a little bit more nerve wrenching tension and drama into the mix, there’s supposed to be a blizzard coming in tonight to dump a fresh foot of wet snow smack dab in the heart of exactly where I’m supposed to be driving tomorrow. How’s that for a heaping helping hit of New Year’s cheer? The good old worst case scenario is back.

I’ve been in this kind of situation in one way or another so often that it’s not a big deal. It is what it is, and right now it’s just an inconvenience. It won’t kill me, but it sure makes me want to make money even more so I can avoid these situations. They’re getting WAY old. I guess I probably asked for it by buying a 17 year old car with 172,000 miles on it.

But it’s a Toyota Camry. Those are allegedly great cars, and if I can squeeze a year from this one, hopefully I’ll be in a much better place to not have to worry about it if my engine decides to surpass the surly bounds of earth during my tenure of ownership. For now, I’ve got to deal with it and get it back running somehow. Hopefully, it won’t drain the bank.

I have a feeling it will though. Toyotas and Hondas have great reputations when they’re running, but fixing them is another story. I think this one is worth it, as everything on it is in perfect working order. It’s got new tires and strong brakes and everything inside works except the overhead dome light. The transmission shifts smoothly too. It’s been a sweetie.

I didn’t have any problems on the way to Eau Claire and back, and I really hope I won’t have to junk it this close to buying it. We’ll see. Tomorrow is when I’m supposed to hear what the damage is, and I’m preparing for the worst. It’s all part of the puzzle of my life.

Pissing and moaning about it won’t change the situation, so I won’t do it. I needed a car so I bought what I could afford with the best knowledge I had at the time. It seemed like a nice car, and it still does. If it’s a fuel pump or whatever else it may be, I just hope it’s not going to put me in a deeper financial pickle than I already am. I’m right up against a wall.
I got myself into this and I’ll get myself out. I just hope I can avoid a major ass kicking.