Monday, July 30, 2007

Rem Fm Upcoming and Wikipedia

Hope this finds you well and your wknds were good. I just wanted to give a heads up to those interested:

I am scheduled to be on the Mary Harboe Show on Rem Fm radio this Thursday, Aug 2nd at 2:20pm local time, during the Book Show segment. It should last about ten minutes. Rem Fm is the largest English speaking radio station out of Spain and the program airs across the Med. In Chicago time, I will be on at 7:20am. Hannah set it up; thanks, Hannah! Should be a lot of fun and I look forward to it.

Also, I discovered recently that I have been added to Wikipedia. Pretty cool! If one of you out there did that, I owe you a thanks. It was, to say the least, very unexpected.

Friday, July 27, 2007

She was the Real Feature

Here's the latest standup story. I've also posted it on the site, where there is a print version, too.

I had only been doing comedy for a year when I finagled my way into The Laugh Factory in Aurora, roughly an hour west of Chi-Town. I had been having a tough time getting on the slate for the club’s Sunday open mic night. Ens, the open night booker and assistant manager, didn’t feel I had enough experience. One night at Northern Illinois, AJ Jamal appeared as part of a week of comedians in the Carl Sandburg Auditorium. Originally, I was slated to open for him but then HBO intervened. They realized he would draw a big crowd (he was doing a lot of MTV back then) and wanted to capitalize on it. They brought in some guy to open for him and taped his set for an HBO special, then closed up shop and AJ came onstage. It was funny; the guy they filmed the special of couldn’t have been more different from AJ. He was white, wore a suit and tie, and was a political act. AJ is black, wears jeans, and could care less about politics. In the end, HBO bumped me out of the show to film a useless special because the crowd was all wrong for their guy. Dah!

I didn’t let being bumped stop me from telling Ens I was opening for AJ Jamal at NIU. With that news, he gave me a slot. “AJ and I are good friends; I’ll ask him how it went.”

This should have made me nervous, except I knew by then that every club booker and manager thought he was good friends with every name comedian. It was rarely the case. I had my best show to date at Laughs and after the set a guy named Mikey approached me in the back of the club. “I have a club on the north side of Chicago. We need a feature act for next Saturday night. I think you’d be perfect.”

I should have been wary of a guy offering me a thirty-minute feature slot based on watching me do a five-minute set. I should have been wary of a guy who didn’t have his show booked less than a week out from the gig. I should have been wary of a guy who said he’d call me Thursday with the address of the performance. Hell, I should have been wary of an adult who went by the name “Mikey.” I wasn’t wary, not from any of the red flags. I was going to feature! Nothing else mattered.

Since I only had about fifteen minutes of good material, I spent the week writing and rehearsing my ass off. I was eighteen—stupid enough to bite off more than I could chew—and loving every minute of it. I was also scared to death. I prepared exactly thirty minutes of material . . . well, thirty minutes if the audience laughed at every joke for at least thirty seconds . . .

The night of the show came. My friend, Pete, drove me. For the life of us we could not find the damn club. We looked everywhere for the big sign Mikey told me would read “The Comedy Jam.” We walked up and down the block it was supposed to be on but saw nothing. This was not doing anything for my nerves. I was already a nervous wreck because I knew I was cutting it close with the mic time. Now I was going to be late for the show because I couldn’t find the club? Suddenly, we saw the sign. It was sitting doorknob high. I am being generous calling it a sign. It was an old piece of brown cardboard, a little more than the size of a piece of letter-sized paper. Someone had scrawled “The Comedy Jam” with a red crayon. Ah, this was going to be great!

Upon entering the club, we found a pretty nice setup. There was a small stage and a bunch of tables in a room the size of a beauty salon. Mikey was the only other person there. He sat us down in the back and we waited for the show to start, me worried to death.

“Dude, stop shifting around.”

“Sorry, Pete; I’m nervous as hell.”

And we waited. And waited. And waited. The show was supposed to start at 8:30pm. At 9:15pm, the other three or four acts entered. One of them carried a dirty, old toilet bowl. At 9:30pm we still didn’t have an audience. Mikey went out onto the street and pretty much begged people to come to the show. When we had ten, at around 10:30pm, he declared the show would be starting. Half of the crowd had just been sitting there for nearly an hour; they were not in a good mood.

To make matters worse, Pete had left. He had to have the car home by midnight and lived about an hour outside the city. I had no way to get home and nowhere near enough money for a cab. Once I got paid, I’d have to use almost all of it to cover cab fare.

The emcee died a horrible death. The first act died a horrible death. The guy with the toilet, who carried it up on stage but then didn’t even address why he had it (he literally did nothing with it), did worse than die. I’m sure he wished he could have flushed himself down it and out of the club.

I was panicking. My heart was racing, my palms were sweaty, I literally considered running out the door. This gig was horrible. The crowd didn’t even want to be there. They weren’t laughing at all, which meant I was going to go through my thirty minutes of material in ten minutes, then not have a damn thing to talk about.

Just before it was my time to die, a gorgeous blonde with a fantastic body entered the “club.” She wore a white blouse and a short jean skirt. She was probably in her mid-twenties. She asked to be seated up front. Well, maybe something good would come from the gig after all; I might just meet a pretty woman. Of course, if I bombed, she’d have no interest in me.

I was introduced and prepared for hell. Surprisingly, the crowd laughed at my first joke. And my second one. And my third. I was going to be okay! They were digging me. About five minutes into the act, I looked at the blonde. She smiled, then licked her lips seductively. Huh? Had I just imagined that? Nope, because now she was opening her legs slowly. She was wearing white panties. She then slowly closed her legs.

Okay, well, that was interesting. I went on with my set. Of course, I looked over at her again. This time she blew me a soft kiss and again slowly opened her legs. Of course I looked. It was a recipe for disaster. Realizing she was going to do this every time I looked at her, I decided not to look. As soon as I made this decision, I started looking more. She kept at it.

Fifteen minutes into the set, I was basically just staring at her. I didn’t even know what I was saying but I had rehearsed so many times, I just regurgitated the next bit after I heard the laughter subsiding. The nameless blonde got up and went back to the restroom. Thank God! (I never thought I’d be glad when a woman with legs every guy in the world would want wrapped tightly around him, who was showing me just how far up her legs went, left the room. But I was.)

I got back into the act and was enjoying myself. She returned. Was she still playing the game? I looked. Oh, things had changed; she had upped the anti; she was no longer wearing the panties. Now I was in serious trouble. I couldn’t control myself and felt my general starting to salute. Thank God I was wearing a tucked-in, collared shirt. I stared at her crotch and un-tucked the shirt to hide my erection, a move every guy learns in high school, when the sight of something as simple as a cheerleader in her colors bending over to pick up her books in the hallway can cause a guy’s soldier to prepare for battle, instantly.

Of course, un-tucking the shirt was not enough. I had to adjust so that it was pointing up, instead of out. I put my hand in my pocket, pretending to be doing a bit, and moved it to the proper position. I went on with my act, trying hard not to think about how much fun the blonde and I were going to have after the show. It was going to be awesome! My first time was going to be with a hot blonde who had everything a guy could want, sexually.

A few minutes before I was about to get off stage, and then got off with the blonde, she got up and went back to the bathroom. She was probably going to buy some condoms. Yippee!

I finished my set and got off stage. I waited in the back for her. Nothing. Another women went into the bathroom, which was a single, so I knew she wasn’t in there. Hmm. I asked Mikey if he had seen where she went. “Oh, she left just before you finished.” What?! Hell, no!

I raced out of the club, still aroused. I trekked up and down and around the block. Nothing. I peeked through the windows of every nearby bar and restaurant. She was nowhere in sight. I went back to the club and waited in vain. Eventually, I admitted to myself she had just been toying with me the whole time. She was simply trying to throw me off my game onstage with her own game.

I did learn one very important thing that night—I could get through any distractions in a show if I could get through hers. It was small consolation at the time. Mikey paid me at the end.

“Nice job, feature.”

I smiled. Only I had seen the real feature of the night

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

#1 in Canada!

I'm supposed to put up another standup story on the site today but it will have to be delayed. Yesterday, the book hit #1 on the bestseller list on Amazon.ca for humor books! What does that mean? It outsold every other humor book on the site, even the ones by people such as Don Rickles and Woody Allen, by big publishers. Unreal! Thanks for all your support everyone! I will be spending sometime trying to get this info to Canadian media. BTW, at the same time, the book ranked #8 in humor bestsellers on Amazon.co.uk in Europe. Not a bad day! (This doesn't mean I've sold thousands and thousands of books; just outsold other books on that day, but we're hoping... ;)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

No Trip to Wrigleyville for Me

(I just put this story up on the site, www.godisawoman.net. You can find a printable version there.)

Billy Jaye is a popular comedian in the industry. He’s been around for a long time. He has a classic style; he typically just sits on a stool drinking a beer and delivers his material, engaging the crowd at will, then jumping right back into his act. He’s not Jim Carrey, jumping wildly around stage making faces and contorting his body, or Dane Cook, telling long stories while interrupting himself. He has no hook. He just does what he does, calmly and effectively. His material and delivery make the show. Billy’s been around much longer than most acts, even the big name celebrity ones, and he’ll be along when most of their stars have faded, such as Arsenio Hall’s. Off stage, Billy is just like he is on stage; he sits, drinking a beer, and makes witty observations as jokes during conversations. When he sees a moment to amuse himself, he takes it. Working with me and another act who annoyed him, gave him one such moment.

I was nineteen, going to school at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois, about an hour west of Chicago. It was a Monday. I got a phone call from an agent telling me she needed an emcee for a Wednesday through Sunday gig at a new comedy club in Kankakee, Illinois, about an hour south of Chicago. I had two tests and a paper due (which I hadn’t started) between Wednesday and Friday. There is no way I could afford to miss any classes that week. So, I took the gig.

I don’t remember the name of the club or the feature act (the feature act performs between the emcee and the headliner), but I do remember Billy. I met him just before I went up to open the show. He was short, stocky, in his forties, hid his large bald spot with a cap, very friendly, and laid back. Being pretty new to standup, I was still nervous before going on stage. I’ve never worked with anyone who put me at ease as much as Billy. He asked me if I was nervous, I told him the truth, and he made a few comments that totally relaxed me. I had the most easy, relaxing set to date at the time, and that set the tone for all of my future sets. When I got off, he finished the job by telling me I was very funny and a very talented writer.

The week went great. Billy took me to dinner a few times, told me some good road stories, and we shot pool a few times. All three acts stayed at the Days Inn across the street from the club and a sports bar, so we all knew in which rooms the other two acts stayed. I was learning a lot from Billy and soaked up as much as I could remember. He even managed to make me forget about the two tests and paper on which I was taking zeros.

As much as Billy liked me, he equally disliked the feature act. The guy—we’ll call him Chuck—was a hack; he told old stock jokes, jokes he stole from other acts who turned out to be friends of Billy, and performed material that had been done to death, like jokes about killing Gilligan in order to get off the Island. To make matters worse, Chuck was in his thirties and had just returned to comedy after taking a seven year hiatus. Hardworking, sustaining acts such as Billy like to see young kids—like I was then— working hard to get mic time, honing their skills, and sticking with it. “You could be at school drinking beer and chasing girls, but instead you’re out here building character and securing a career for when you graduate. You’ll learn a lot more on stage and on the road then you will in any college.” At the time, I didn’t fully appreciate how true Billy’s statement was, but I did just a few years later.

Hardworking, sustaining acts such as Billy detest acts that quit; who give up when the going gets tough, then return later, when they’ve saved up some money or the business has gotten better, made that way by the acts who ride the bumps. Chuck had zero points with Billy. He didn’t get too many with me, either. One night after the show, we all went out with the club staff to a bar down the road. There I was able to engage in some conversation with a very pretty waitress named Sally. She was an undergrad, too, and quite smart, studying pre-med. She was tall with a lean, killer bod, nice full red lips, long eyelashes, short black hair, and deep blue eyes. If you read God is a Woman, you know just how pathetic and awkward I was around women at nineteen. It took every ounce of thought and courage I had to strike up a conversation with her. Said conversation was far from smooth; it was awkward and littered with moments of silence that seemingly lasted for hours.

It didn’t help matters that Chuck was also interested in Sally. There were plenty of women his own age at the bar, but no, he chose to chase down one who was nineteen. He looked foolish. Looking back at it a few years later, I realized that Chuck was just as awkward with women as me; he just disguised it better and waited for either me or Billy to break the ice with a woman before he talked to her. Both of us annoyed by him, Sally and I relocated a few times but he followed us. Billy saw what was going on and stepped in, pulling Chuck aside to bullshit with him. When Chuck returned a few minutes later, Sally commented that she was tired and needed to get going. I summed up the strength of my courage and invited her to lunch the next day at the sports bar, where we would also shoot some pool. She accepted and we set the time. I was pleased that I had not only managed to ask her out and secure a date, but that I had done it in front of another guy. (Standup comedy is the only gig in the world in which lunch qualifies as a date, because of having to work date nights.)

The next day, at the date, who should show up? Yup; fucking Chuck. He wouldn’t leave us alone and ended up instructing her in pool. He kept telling her how pretty she was and asked if she liked older men. I didn’t know how to deal with cockblockers back then, let alone cockblockers who were my seniors in the biz. It was Sally who suggested another place. Chuck actually remarked, “That’s a good idea. Where should we go?”

I looked at him. “I think we’re just gonna go somewhere,” then to Sally, “What’s around here?”

She shrugged, “There’s really not much time to do anything because I have to get ready to be at the club in a few hours.”

“We could just go back to my room and watch a movie or some TV.”

“That sounds good.”

We left Chuck, or at least thought we did; he followed us out, back to the hotel, trying to interject in our conversation from behind as we walked. We reached my room and I told him, “I’ll see you at the show tonight,” before closing the door.

This is where I demonstrate just how stupid and na├»ve I was with women back in college. There I was, back in my hotel room with a beautiful coed, both of us sitting on my bed with two hours to kill. What do I do? Turn on the TV. What does she say? “I don’t really want to watch TV.”

“Oh, okay; I’ll see about a movie.”

“I don’t really want to watch a movie, either; let’s just talk.”

“Okay, that’s cool.”

Of course, she didn’t really want to just talk. So what did I do? Started babbling like brook with nowhere to go; I went on pointlessly. I don’t remember how it happened, but after a few moments, I was sifting through her purse while she watched over my shoulder. Lo and behold, I came across two condoms. She took them out of the purse, “I don’t know why I even have these; just to have them, I guess. I never use them.”

This is why it is very important to heed actions over words and to pay attention. I heard, “I don’t want to have sex;” however, she’s in my hotel room, right next to me on the bed, with two fucking condoms in her purse, which, I might add, were brand spanking new. There wasn’t as much as a crease in their wrappers, which meant she had only recently placed them into her purse, not carried the around, as she had claimed. At the time, I hadn’t realized that women need an excuse to have sex outside of a meaningful, lengthy relationship. So, instead of making the move for which she was waiting, I sifted through the rest of her purse. She put the condoms back in the purse and closed it.

We sat in dead silence for a few minutes. She checked her watch. “Well, I should get going.”

“Oh, okay.”

I walked her out. Outside, I decided I needed to make a move. I leaned in to kiss her and she responded with a quick peck. We smiled at each other and I leaned in again. We kissed for a few seconds, then she left. I went back to my room while she drove home, no doubt wondering why she really had bothered to bring condoms. I checked the clock by the bed. So much for having two hours to kill; it was only fifteen minutes after Sally and I had first entered the room. She realized I was clueless and got bored. Way to go Ian; good job.

That night, I didn’t speak to Sally until after the show. I invited her out but she declined, which bummed me out because it was the last show of the week and I would be heading back to DeKalb early the next morning, to take a test I really couldn’t miss. Instead, I hit the sports bar with Billy, Chuck, and the rest of the staff. While I was there, a guy challenged me to a game of pool. He was scruffy looking, around forty. He had some weird facial hair going on; it looked like a squirrel or something had died on his face and he just maneuvered it around some to make space for his mouth and nose, so he could eat and breathe. His name was Dave.

“So, you’re one of the comedians at the club this week?”

“Yeah.”

“Where you from?”

“Chicago.”

“Ever been to Wrigleyville?”

The way he asked set off an alarm inside me. Wrigleyville is known for being a popular gay area in Chicago. This guy was gay and he was interested.

“No, never; I’ve never even been to a Cubs game.”

“Oh.”

He then offered me some blow. I declined. He offered me weed. I declined. This went on for a while, him offering me all kinds of things I had never heard of while we shot pool, when he really just wanted to offer me himself. He kept buying me beers (don’t worry, I realized he was trying to get me drunk). Finally, he broke down. “I don’t know if you figured this out yet or not but I’m gay and I’m interested in you.”

“I know. Sorry, but I’m not gay.”

“Oh. Do you want to stop shooting, then?”

“No, we can keep playing pool; just realize that I’m not gay, so nothing is going to happen.”

“Oh. That’s good of you and quite understanding. I appreciate it.”

I always figured it’s hard enough to be gay, let alone tell when someone else is and make a move. I wasn’t going to hold that against him. Suddenly, I heard Billy yelling. I turned around to see him chewing out Chuck for being a hack, not only on stage but with women. Chuck left and Billy called to me, “Hey, Ian, come over here.”

I sat with Billy for an hour or so; he gave me the number of his agent, Roger Paul, who would do some big things for me in the future. He gave me the numbers of some key club bookers. He gave me the numbers of some key comedians. He gave me his number. Most importantly, he gave me confidence. “Stick with it, kid, you got real talent. Fuck Chuck, that hack. I saw what he did to you last night when you were trying to talk with that waitress. He did the same thing to me tonight when I was trying to talk to some women. He’s never gonna work here or anywhere else I work, for that matter.”

Mental note: never piss off the headliner.

It was time for me to go. I thanked Billy and got up to leave. Dave approached. “Hey, you leaving?”

“Yeah, I gotta go. Good games.”

“Have you ever been with a guy?”

“No.”

“Then how do you know you ain’t gay?”

(I realize that, ironically, Sally probably thought I was gay or at least hiding in a closet.) “I haven’t been shot but I know I wouldn’t like that, either.”

“What room are you in at the Days Inn?”

(Everybody knew the comedians stayed at the Days Inn; Kankakee isn’t that big.)

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Come on, what room?”

“Take care, Dave.”

I left. The next morning I got up early, packed my crap, and prepared to head home. When I went to leave, I noticed someone had slid a note under my door. I picked it up.

Ian, once again it was an absolute pleasure. Good to see guys like you working your way up the comedy ladder. When I went to leave the bar, that guy asked me for your room number. I gave him Chuck’s.

Billy


I laughed my ass off for ten minutes, unable to do anything else. I felt bad for Dave but it was hilarious. Typical Billy; simple, subtle, but topnotch. Looking back now, I realize I could have gotten laid twice that day!

It wasn’t until years later that I heard what happened. I was working with a guy in Indiana and I mentioned the club in Kankakee, which had since closed. (It only lasted a few months; in comedy, you work new clubs quickly, while they’re still open, or you miss the boat.)

“Oh, shit, I know that club, I know that club! My friend Chuck was working there and the last night of the show, the strangest fucking thing I’ve ever heard in my life happened to him. It was like two in the morning, he was sound asleep, when there was a pounding on his door. He turned the light on and looked out the peephole. There was this guy standing there. The guy called to him, ‘I seen your light go on, I just want your autograph, buddy! I swear!’ My friend opened the door and the guy dropped his pants, I mean butt naked, showing everything, while he said, ‘This is what you’re missing! Hey, you’re not the guy I’m looking for!’ Chuck closed his door and yelled for the guy to go away, that he was calling the front desk to call the police.”

As hard as I laughed at hearing his story, and as satisfying as it was to finally learn what happened, I think it was even more interesting and funny for Chuck’s friend to hear the story in reverse; to hear the setup of the bizarre event from me. He laughed every time he looked at me for the rest of the week. He literally could not be around me, it was so funny to him and he couldn’t shake it from his mind.

I never did work with Billy again. We spoke several times over the years but I never got to tell him what happened; he moved and changed his number before I got a chance. If you see him, tell him the story; just don’t give him your room number; you never know who might show up at your door . . . if it’s Sally, call me, then tell her I finally have a clue!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Site Up and To Kill or Not To Kill

Hey All,

As some of you may know, part of the reason I've been gone from my blog so much has been due to my website. I've been working hard to update it and I finally got it up. It now has a bunch of stories from the book up. It also has standup stories up, as well, not to mention my column "Lunch is Not a Date." I hope you get a chance to check it out and spread the word. For any of you using Expression (I've been using Expression; eventually I'll learn Dreamweaver, but for now time was of the essence) and you've noticed you've had trouble with the formatting (it tends to add underlines that it won't remove, change colors, and so forth), I learned a little secret: type what you want in FrontPage, then paste it into Expression and you won't have any trouble. Crazy but it works.

Yesterday, I was on my way to play some vball on the beach. I always walk down, about 1 1/2 miles from my place, and on the way I came across a bunch of seagulls, eating fries in the middle of the street. A car came speeding along the curve and hit one of the gulls. It lay there, still alive but unable to move. The car had hit it hard enough to push it out of the street. I stood there for a few minutes, watching the poor thing writhe and cry out in pain. I thought about kicking it back into the path of cars, where it would be finished off. In the end, I left it there, letting fate takeover. My question? Did I do the right thing? What would you do? Kill or not kill?

Friday, July 13, 2007

I'm the Bitch

I promised a standup story a few weeks back. Here ya go. I'm starting to compile these for a future book, of just standup stories, not necessarily related to sex or dating, although a few of them will be, I'm sure. I have some good ones that didn't make it into God is a Woman because of length restrictions. (Of course, before any stories get into a book, they'll will be reviewed by my editor, so they won't be in the raw form they will be in here.)

If Paul Bunyan fucked Santa, Harry Hickstein would be the result. Harry stands well over six feet, has a beer gut that would make even the hardiest German beer drinker jealous— which he hides under a long, bushy biker beard—and a deep, gruff voice that drowns out even the loudest outboard motors. By comparison, I stand at a hair over five-ten, and back when I new Harry weighed a whopping 120 lbs. I don’t think I could have grown a beard back then if I had soaked my face in Rogaine daily.

Oftentimes, comedians will tour together, hitting the road for a week or two, and working all the same gigs. This keeps expenses down by splitting gas costs, as well as sharing the time behind the wheel. I rarely hooked up with anyone to hit the road; no one was willing to travel as extensively as I did. It’s just as well; being in a car together for ten or more weeks in a row would undoubtedly bring people to blows.

On occasion, over Winter Breaks during college, I would hook up with a few acts for a week or two and hit the road. Harry was one of those acts. He always used to joke, “You know, Ian, I don’t mind people knowing we’re traveling together; I guarantee, no one thinks I’m the bitch!” Mr. Big Stuff, his nickname, liked to say this as often as possible in front of people or onstage; it always got a good laugh. I always knew he was joking but I also made sure he knew I carried a six-inch hunting knife in my bag...

Truthfully, Harry is a great big teddy bear, who gets his biggest thrills by making people laugh. He often forgets how big he is and how he appears to strangers. We hooked up for a week long gig in Wisconsin during one of the coldest spells to ever hit the Midwest. Harry, who lives in Kankakee, Illinois—about an hour south of Chicago—picked me up and we headed north to Oshkosh, Wisconsin; where it was a balmy twenty-eight degrees below zero, Fahrenheit. With the wind chill, it was more than sixty below. It is absolutely ridiculous what conditions comedians will drive in to play a gig, even if it’s in Oshkosh or Fargo or International Falls or any other place where a witch’s tit wouldn’t go. (Oshkosh is Florida compared to Fargo and International Falls.) As we headed to the gig, I couldn’t help but think about my college peers, who were all partying with babes busting out of their skimpy bikinis down in Cancun (that was back before high school students turned Cancun into a party spot, when it was just college students). Me? I was a biker-wannabe’s bitch, traveling in a car where a dogsled would have been a more appropriate vehicle.

The next day was much warmer; the thermometer ascended all the way up to fifteen below. Harry and I headed down to Madison for the next gig. On the way, we came across a car with a serious problem—it was on fire. A flame was shooting from underneath the car, back to the gas tank. Due to the high rate of speed the car was traveling on the Interstate, the flame couldn’t quite ignite the gas tank. That same speed also kept the flame from reaching the engine, as the wind knocked it back; however, when that car stopped, its occupants needed to get out quickly.

In normal winter conditions, everyone on that road would have hailed the driver of the car and let him know his car was on fire. In the blistering cold, though, people just couldn’t be bothered. Harry took it upon us to save the people in the car. He sped up along side it, where we quickly discovered the occupants to be a little old man with his even littler wife in the passenger seat. The man could barely see over the steering wheel (that’s why senior citizens signal left all the time; they’re not signaling, they’re simply trying to pull themselves up with the turn signal rod, in order to see what the hell is going on!).

I rolled down the window and signaled to the old-timer. He finally rolled down his window and we started to shout back and forth. At seventy-miles an hour, we could not understand each other. We needed him to slow down some but we didn’t want him to slow down too much because the car could go up in flames in a matter of seconds. (This is back before there were cell phones, for all you young whipper-snappers.) He finally figured out that I wanted him to slow down enough so I could tell him something. He started to do so, when I leaned back to tell Harry what was going on and warm up my frozen face. The old man got a look at Harry, panic flooded his eyes, he rolled up his window and floored it. He must have figured we were scamming him to rob him and that Harry was the muscle. Figures, no one listens to the bitch.

Harry quickly realized the guy was heading for an exit. If he slowed down, it could be all over for him and his wife. Harry floored it and raced past them. He got into the exit lane and wouldn’t let them over, speeding up and slowing down with them. They sped up and raced to beat us to the next exit. Harry blocked them again. This went on for several miles of exits, along with Harry honking and yelling out his window at them. It didn’t help at all that he was the one talking to them now; I had a much better chance of getting them to listen.

The old man started to honk to get help from other drivers but no one cared. A few people did slow down, but once they got a look at Harry, they drove away. (Fortunately, this all happened close enough to Madison where they had a third lane to help lessen traffic congestion.) Finally, the little old lady rolled her window down. This is where Harry’s booming voice came in handy. “You’re car’s on fire! You’re cars on fire!”

The woman said something to her husband and he started to slow down. “Don’t slow down!” barked Harry.

He turned to me, “Shit, what do we do?”

“We need them to slow down enough to run over some snow on the shoulder without losing control, but not enough to let the flame catch the whole car.”

“Good thinking.”

He yelled out to them, “Switch with us and slow down a little! My friend will tell you what to do next!”

We swapped lanes and they got over into the right lane. Smoke started to fill the car as they slowed down. They still weren’t quite sure what was going on. It was my turn to yell again. “Keep slowing down, then run over some snow just off the shoulder!”

The old man nodded and did just that. The snow put the flame out but then he pulled back onto the shoulder to stop the car, which was now full of smoke. Harry stopped fifty feet in front of them and parked. As we got out of the car, we could see a much smaller version of the flame reignite under the carriage. The old man got out of the car, holding the keys. He shrugged, still unsure of the situation. Harry began to run to him, “Get away from the car! Get away from it!”

The old man fumbled with his keys and shook as he panicked, trying to get back into his car. He was trembling like a leaf and his keys fell to the street. I semi-yelled after Harry, “Ah, Harry, slow down. Harry, slow down!”
I was able to beat Harry to the old man. The two of us then showed him what had become a good-sized flame under his car. He got his wife and we hurried to our car. We dropped them off at a service station, then continued on our way like nothing had happened.

“You know, I think that guy had Parkinson’s or something, he was shaking so bad.”

I stared at Harry.

“What?”

“Harry, you scared the hell out of that guy; running toward him, telling him to get away from the car. Do you know what you looked like? That’s why he was shaking.”

Harry thought for a moment and then let out a guffaw that shook the ice off the outside of the car. “I never thought of that! Geez, I hope he was wearing Depends!”

I laughed and the two of us headed into Madison, Batman and Robin. Hey shut up, I’d rather be Robin than the bitch, okay? Although that’s probably not much of a step up...

Friday, July 6, 2007

More Reviews & "The Police"

Here are two more reviews of the book that popped up yesterday on blogs. The first is more of the start of a discussion about whether dating advice books are any good; the second is an artistic review of the book. It is always interesting to see how different reviews can be and what people get from a work. I'm noticing the pattern more and more of people latching on to one or two parts of the book and exploring them, more so than the entire book. Personally, I've always found that to be the mark of a good work or at least one with depth; that different people got different things from it. Thus, I hope this pattern continues!

http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/singleout/archives/117572.asp

http://www.cclapcenter.com/2007/07/book_review_god_is_a_woman_by.html

I'm also reposting the link to Legal Pub's review because there have been several more worthwhile comments since he posted it:

http://legalpublication.blogspot.com/2007/05/legal-pub-salutes-one-of-our-own.html

Still updating the book's site and it should come out really good in the end, with more book excerpts and lots of other features. I'll keep you posted...

All right, enough about the book. I went to The Police reunion concert last night at Wrigley Field in Chi-Town. If you want to feel young, go to this concert when it comes to your city. I was by far the youngest person there. People kept asking me where my parents were, if I was lost, would I like a balloon? At one point there was an announcement, "There is a lost little boy in section 239, row 18, seat 104. Could his mommy please go over there and claim him?" It was great! The concert? Well, that was okay. Rock stars tend not to take to much care of their voices and The Police are no exception. Sting (who I actually opened for back in my early twenties) had to use some alternate notes and creative harmony in places. All in all, it was a fun concert and, again, I was literally a kid among the crowd!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

"Sicko"

Michael Moore's latest. Seen it? I saw it the other day. It's quite good, exaggerated some, I'm sure, but quite good. Here are the key points that just piss me off:

The volunteer rescue workers, including volunteer fire fighters, at Ground Zero of 9/11 receive no healthcare from the government because they are not considered actual government employees. I remember all the rhetoric from the Pres. and everyone else in government--"Remember the heroes of 9/11, praise the heroes of 9/11."

Our government is cutting V.A. benefits during a war, yet telling the public to "support the troops." What a crock. (This is not in the movie but should have been.)

This is a related stoy my friend told me yesterday. (The movie Sicko is not about those who don't have health coverage as much as it is about those who have it but have their claims denied for bs reasons. This story is a great example.) My friend Steve has a friend who recently had a baby. The poor child has an ailment and needs serious medical help. The mother's insurance refuses to cover the care because the baby's condition could be related to genetics; therefore, the insurance company classifies the baby's condition as "pre-existing." Is that fucking unbelievable or what? It makes you just want to punch them in the face!